They made camp and sat at the river's edge for three days.
Watching and hoping.
On the second night: "If he's gone because of me, Hercules, I'll
never forgive myself." she whispered to him from across the fire.
"It wasn't you. It was him. He wouldn't allow either of us to
take the risk. Iolaus never did have a good grasp on just how
important his contribution to the known world was ... is."
Hercules still clung to hope. It was all he had.
Xena and Hercules got to the Olympian River just as Iolaus
dismounted his own horse and stumbled forward, throwing himself
into the water. They could hear him calling Hades name as he
dived deep. Both ran in after him, splashing into the water,
attempting to reach Iolaus before he did any harm to himself.
They swam and searched for him but could find nothing. Not a
body. Not a trace. Fearing Iolaus state of mind, the possibility
of him drowning, Hercules was resolute. It was Xena, however,
that finally coaxed the demigod out of the water. They couldn't
find Iolaus because he wasn't there. He'd crossed over, made it
through the underwater gate that had slammed shut behind him and
"He's made it," she said, dragging both herself and Hercules from
the water. Xena, throwing long wet hair over a shoulder. "He's
going to try and find Gabrielle ...." Her exhausted arms flung
themselves over Hercules shoulders - "Iolaus is on the Other
Side!" and it made her feel both relieved and fearful.
"But what can he do?" Hercules breathed deeply, hating his own
doubt. "Hades doesn't work that way. He's mortal ... Hades
doesn't listen to mortals. He barely listens to me ..."
"We have to have faith." Xena pushed, turning his head in her
hands, meeting his eyes with her own, "We have to believe,
And they did until now.
Three days without a word. Without a bubble on the surface. He
was gone. They were both gone, leaving bereft friends behind.
Neither hero said it, both still staring at the water, but they
A small ripple at first. It could have been a fish. Then a
bubble, followed by more.
"Xena." Hercules stood and she followed, standing next to him and
grasping his arm.
A small splash, followed by something larger. Then ... a huge
fountain of water sprang into the air and with it came two
bodies. Both cried out in fear and ... release. They fell back
into the water to bob to the surface again, looking and reaching
for one another as they waded.
"*They made it!*" Xena screamed and ran full force into the
water, Hercules at her heels.
They drug both of their friends to land, laying them on shore,
patting them and hugging and talking at the same time.
Iolaus and Gabrielle both coughed profusely, taking in air and
spitting out water.
"How did you ...?"
"Why did you ....?"
" ... so happy ...."
"I can't believe ...."
It was a bit more than either Iolaus and Gabrielle could take
after what they had been through. They were both battered and
bruised and a tiredness enveloped them like no other. For a brief
moment they had to push their best friends away and cling only to
each other. Their thoughts, feelings and the adventure they had
shared were too recent to be ignore or tossed aside.
Alive! yes, they were *alive*!!
Then, drenched and tired, Iolaus turned and reached for Hercules
shoulder and patted it, allowing the big man to grasp him in an
all encompassing hug, "Herc ..." he said.
Hercules knew this was big. Iolaus was going to say something
profound and he wanted to look at him while he said it. He pulled
his friend back, "Yes, Iolaus."
"I'm starving. Do you have anything to eat?"
Hercules exploded in laughter.
Xena held her friend in shaking arms, crushing her with the force
of her happiness. "Oh ... Gabrielle .... I didn't know what to
do. When I thought I'd lost you I ..."
"Xena," Gabrielle pushed her back ever so slightly, so she could
look up into Xena's intense blue eyes. "I know. You don't have to
say anything more. I know." and then she smiled and allowed Xena
to help her to slightly shaky feet.
There was more that had to be said. So much more. Both Iolaus and
Gabrielle had made sacrifices. They had to pay - both of them -
for her return to life. But that was another story for another
For now, it was enough that both were alive and well.
Unseen by Hercules and Xena, their backs to the river, Iolaus and
Gabrielle watched as a peacock feather floated from the sky above
to land on the surface of the placid lake.
They then looked at one another.
Hera had been defeated yet again.
Or had she?
They hadn't seen the last of Hera. None of them had.
But, for now, there was joy and reunion.
The four heroes were reunited ... and that was the way it should