Being Me, Being You
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The following is an episode of the Young Hercules Fan Fiction Seasons, a non-profit virtual season project; written for fans by fans this is done to help keep the legacy of the short-lived television series Young Hercules alive on the Internet. The overall direction of the story that takes place in this virtual season may not be exactly what took place if an actual televised season had been produced.
(Hideous looking small man shields himself with hands)
AND THE SON OF ZEUS JOINS THE TEAM
Ares: "Now lets find him."
WILL HE FIND A NEW FRIENDSHIP WITH HIS FAMILY?
(Aphrodite blows a kiss and vanishes away)
(Strife and Discord snicker)
(Hercules and Ares stand next to each other)
OR PAY A HEAVY PRICE?
(Hideous looking small man morphs into Hercules)
(Alcmene appears concerned)
ON THE NEXT YOUNG HERCULES!
Hercules walked home alone for the first time since he had joined the academy. His friends had their own families to go home to on this winter solstice break, and he had a lot of work to get done.
His walk, though empty of conversation, was not far off from being empty with company. Before him in the road was a young man, laid injured on his side. The young demi god ran over and inspected the wounds on the young man. There were burns and open cuts that looked fresh. A bruise swelled his left cheek and a trickle of blood was flowing off his bottom lip. A cut on his right temple had a mixture of mud and blood caking is brown hair to his face.
Before picking up the injured youth, he looked around to see if anyone was watching, or if the culprits were still around. Seeing no one, he threw the young man across his shoulders like a sack of vegetables, and picked up his pace.
"Don't you worry about anything," Hercules told his luggage. "We'll get you fixed up and find who did this to you." Wether or not the youth could hear him, he did not know, but thought the effort would comfort him a little.
"Hercules," his mother ran to him worried when she saw him carrying the lump across his shoulders. "What happened?"
"I don't know. I found him on the road a few miles back. It looks like he was robbed. But I'm wondering where the burn marks came from. It looks like a strike from one of the gods, but if that were the case, he wouldn't have survived."
"Well, bring him inside, and we'll see what we can do. Maybe he'll remember what happened when he wakes."
The two walked up the path, and as the two young men went inside, Alcmene went to get fresh water to wash the wounds. In the distance she heard the loud boom of thunder, and saw the glow of a large lightening bolt come from no cloud. She knew what it meant, and hoped that this young man had nothing to do with it.
In the distant, dense woods three gods fell to the ground, as one stood over them with a laugh. "You guys really made him mad this time. Why did you have to go and do that to Proteus?"
"We didn't mean for him to leave Olympus," Ares said as he caught his breath and stood, shaking off the rough landing. "Besides. It's nothing different, dear little sister, then what we've done to him for the past centuries. He's handled it then, and he can handle it now."
"That's why he's left Zeus in a huff, and blowing you guys off Olympus until you bring him back?" The goddess in all her beauty, gave a sarcastic chuckle. "Oh he handled it all right. And so did Zeus. Now let's find him so you three can clean up your damage."
Discord and Strife were still picking themselves up from the crash. Strife had wound up in a mud puddle and slipped back to the ground every time he tried to stand. After the third time, he grabbed a tree branch and was able two swing away from it, only to land in something one of the wild animals of the forest had left behind.
"That's putting your foot in your work," Discord laughed, only to have some of the mess land on her face as the younger god tried to kick it off his foot. Sparks flickered and failed on her finger tips as she gave him a glare that would kill him, could he be killed.
"If we may. We have a god to find, and we have no idea what he looks like at this time," The beautiful goddess interrupted. Aphrodite was only there to make sure the three did not mess up the job of getting their rogue back to Mount Olympus. "For all we know, Strife could have stepped on him."
The youngest of the gods looked at his foot in wonder, only to be smacked by his uncle and pushed along the way. "Let's go. He's got to be around here somewhere. He's going to try to fit in somewhere. Why Zeus chose these peasant clothes to put us in, I will never know."
"Yeah, well if you want your powers back, you will put up with it. Me on the other hand am not being punished," Aphrodite chose a look more to her liking, yet more conventional then her usual look as the goddess of Love and Beauty. With a gloating smile, she giggled and lead the way. "This is going to be so much fun."
Her three companions only glared at her and grumbled as the followed along behind her. They did not agree with her enthusiasm.
Sharon Tyrell as Alcmene
Alexandra Tydings as Aphrodite
Matthew Ferguson as Marcus
Kevin Smith as Ares
Based on "Young Hercules"
Created by Renaissance Pictures
Tern O'Brien & Medea
Edited by Jose Estreda
"No!" the young man yelled as he sat up in the bed in the little house. His bright, blue eyes scanned where he was, and his broad chest heaved with his heavy breath.
"Shhhh. It's alright," Alcmene soothed as she wiped the sweat away from his soaked, freckled face, and sat next to him. "You are safe here. What's you're name?"
"Where am I?" He looked all around and at himself. It was almost like he did not recognize himself.
"You are at my house. It looked like you had a highway robbery. My son found you along the road. I'm Alcmene."
"Alcmene? Your son found me? Hercules?"
"You know him?"
"Only of him," The young man stammered to find the right words for his story. "Some of the help he has done has spread in news."
Alcmene beamed with a mother's pride as she smiled at him. "Well, he found you on his way home, and brought you here. You are safe, so just relax. Where were you traveling to..." She just realized he had not given her a name.
"I'm Marcus. I was just traveling to find a new life."
"Well, looks like you found adventure instead. What kind of life are you looking for?"
"I don't know yet. I have so many choices, I can't pick. But I think I want to be a strong warrior for a king. I can learn real fast, and I can handle lots of work."
"Well, you sure didn't learn to duck fast." The soft woman gave a small chuckle.
He smiled at her. "I can see why he likes you so?"
"Zeus. I can see .... Never mind. You probably don't want to hear about it."
Just then Hercules had used his foot to kick the door open to bring in a pile of wood straddled across his broad shoulders. The sound of the door banging startled the two.
"Sorry. It was stuck," he said when he saw their faces stare at his entrance. "I guess that's another thing on my list of things to fix around here. Sleep well?" He asked as he put the load in a corner by the cooking stove.
"Yes. Thank you for your help. Your mother said you found me and brought me here."
"Well, I couldn't very well leave you there. I sent a message to Jason about highway bandits. I thought he should be warned that there was some trouble out here."
"Good idea. Now you go get to your work in the barn, and I'll make Marcus here something to eat."
"I'm not really hungry, but I'd love to help out. To make up for the help you have done for me."
Hercules looked at him with a smile. "I sure could use the help. Maybe I could even get it all done before I have to get back to the academy, with a little extra help."
"Marcus. You took quite a beating there. Are you sure you want to get up so soon?"
"Yeah. I feel fine. Besides, I wouldn't feel right just lying around here."
"Well take it easy, and Hercules, remember that. He doesn't need to be lugging around heavy stuff."
"Okay. Come on. I'll show you around and then we'll get to work."
The two young boys headed out. Marcus had a limp in one foot, but did not complain about any pain he felt. He was trying to make a new life for himself, and knew that helping others as Hercules had, was a start.
"Alright. Now I've got a lot to do, so if you think you can handle it, just jump right in. I thought I would fix the pen for the hogs first. They've been cooped up in the barn since they had a scuffle and broke down the one they had. The wood was rotted anyways. So they're getting pretty restless in there."
"I bet. I know what it's like to be cooped up, and no fresh air for a while. When you get out, you don't really want to go back."
"I know the feeling. The academy can coop you up inside sometimes with studies, and the training rooms are inside. So when I get to come home to help , there's something in me that doesn't want to go back, and yet I know I can't stay here either. I've got my feet wet with some adventures and I want to dive right in there and see more. But I know I'm not yet ready, so I just buckle down," He shoved a fresh, thick, stake in the ground so that it waist high to him. "and deal with it. I know my time will come for me to do what's all out there."
Marcus handed him another stake. "Tell me about all you've done. I've heard some of it, and that's what made me want to get out."
Hercules smiled, and if the sun had not bronzed his face so much from working the past couple of days, his helper would have seen him blush. "I haven't done all that much. Just jumped in and helped where I saw it needed to be done. That's all. That's all you can do. But you have to think about what you're doing and what will happen with what you do. Sometimes when you think you maybe you're helping, you could be just making a situation worse."
"Did that ever happen for you?"
Hercules smiled again and stopped before tieing the horizontal board to the stake in the ground. "Oh yeah." He went back to work, and remembered the cyclone from urn he and Iolaus had fought over.
"I would never have guessed. Not from all the things that I hear."
"What have you heard?" The young man was not looking for praise. He was curious to the stories that were going around. He knew how gossip can grow into fish stories, especially when you are a son of Zeus.
"Just about how you helped some Amazons find their home. But when I heard the story, it was not told as a hero's story. It was about how your mother could let you be around 'those kind of people,'" He made his voice high, with a lisp and hand motions to mimic the gossip. "And then 'oh how that boy get's into trouble. He should just let the centaurs and Amazons fight it out and destroy each other. Then we'd be rid of the slime.'"
Hercules raised an eyebrow to what he heard. Shaking his head he gave a small laugh, and tied another horizontal beam. "Amazons and centaurs are just like us. They just have a different way of living, and looking. That doesn't mean they don't deserve any help."
"Oh. I know. That's one of the reason's I got away. I don't believe that people should be judged for how they look, or what they do has 'less meaning.'" He handed another stake to his friend. " I believe we all have a place and a job to do, and that it all means something."
"Well, that's something I wish everyone believed." He gave the next stake a hard smashing into the dry ground. It went in and stood straight, and a small crack split up the side. "Oops. I guess that was little much. I'll just tie the beam a little lower to hopefully stop it from splitting any further."
Marcus gave a small laugh, and handed another board to be tied horizontal.
Later that night, Alcmene brought out some cold water to the sweating boys who had taken off their shirts, now that they did now have to worry about the sun's blazing heat . "You boys will sleep well tonight with all you've done. I never saw a roof go up so fast in my life."
"Well, it would have been further, but we kept almost falling through," Hercules laughed as he watched his footing coming down off the barn.
Marcus threw a handful of hay down on him, and laughed. "I wouldn't have almost fallen through if you had not had me laughing so hard, and if it weren't for this cursed limp."
"Well, I know that barn has needed a new roof for a while. I thank you boys. And I know the pigs thank you for the new pen. I was afraid of how they were getting so restless in there, for so long."
"Do you think we made it big enough," her son joked as he watched the hogs running in the dusk light from one end of the long pen, to the other.
"I do think you did get a little carried away,but they seem to like it."
The three gave a small laugh and one felt the extra eyes that were on them.
In the trees bordering the property, the four gods watched and knew they had found whom they were looking for.
"That's him. I feel it. " Ares said with a spiteful gruff. "I should have known he would have ran to that runt, Hercules for help.
"Maybe he didn't run to him. You guys roughed him up before he disappeared," Aphrodite said.
"Let's just grab the monster and get back to Mt. Olympus and our powers," Discord grumbled as she looked at herself. "This has gone on long enough for me to be put through this."
"This is nothing compared to what will happen if you can not convince him to come back with you. I think you better polish up on your grobbling. See you."
"Where do you think you're going?" Discord stopped the gloating goddess before she vanished.
"Home for the night. You don't expect me to sleep out here in the woods do you? I'm not the one being punished. I'm only here to make sure you get done what you're suppose to do."
"Oh no you don't," Ares grabbed her hand. "You are not leaving us out here like this. You have your powers still, get us out of here, and we'll pick it up in the morning."
"Yeah right." Aphrodite laughed in his face. "Dude, you got yourself in this, and I am not using my powers to make you comfortable. Nope. Fend for yourselves as you left Proteus to do. See ya. Wouldn't want to be ya." She laughed and vanished even with his grip.
"She had better watch herself. When I get my powers back, she'll be the one hurting." Discord promised as she wrapped herself up in the baggy dress that she wore. "I don't get how it can be so cold out here at night when it's so hot during the day."
"Why, Discord. I'm surprised you even noticed, since you're cold all the time," Ares said as he leaned up against a tree. "Well, we best make the most out of tonight. Strife go get some wood for a fire."
"Don't you think a fire will let them know we are here?" the uncomfortable goddess hissed.
"Nah. Travelers go through these woods all the time. Besides, Proteus already knows we are here."
"How can you be so sure? He's as dim witted as Hercules."
"Because, dear sister. He's a god, and god's always know when the other is around. That's how I knew it was him out there, and if you open up your little mind, you'd feel it too." He ignored her glare for his comment and sighed as he sat next to her. "I just hope the twerp doesn't bolt in the night, or let Hercules know we're here."
"Scared to deal with the toothpick with out your powers?"
"Are you kidding me? Nothing would give me greater satisfaction taking him down like this. I just don't want to deal with him. It's bad enough we have to convince Proteus to come back."
"Admit it, Ares. You have yet to be successful with your powers to take down the runt. How do expect to do it with out your powers."
An evil plan developed in the god of war's mind as he let a smile creep across his face. Keeping his gaze on Alcmene's home, he even gave a small chuckle. "I won't have to. We'll expose Proteus for who he really is, and Hercules will turn on him, and take our side. Proteus' temper in the mean time will destroy Hercules, and we'll be rid of both of them in one fail swoop."
Discord joined in his laugh as Strife came back with the fire wood. "Would one of you two tell me how we are suppose to light this? I'm cold and night is so creepy."
"Oh stop your whining and figure it out. If mortals can live like this, then so can we," Discord sneered.
The three godless gods fought themselves into exhaustion.
Morning crept upon them in slow movements. For the three watchers it was the longest, most restless night of their long lives. But the final awakening on them would be the worst. After a night in the cold air and never getting the fire going, a bucket of cold water fell upon them. The shock and surprise was heart wrenching.
"What are you three doing here?" Asked the young boy with no longer the voice to match. "Come to finish your job."
"Proteus. How are you?" Strife gave a nervous laugh as he shook the water from himself.
"I was fine until you showed up. I'm making a new life here. Leave me alone."
"We can't do that," gruffed the god of war. He stood with the worst glare he could give. If he had his powers, he would have incinerated the boy, god or not. "We were sent here to bring you back to Mt. Olympus."
"I'm not going back. So just return now. Tell Zeus that there is nothing that can bring me back." He gave them a look over and became curious. "Why are you dressed like that?"
"Zeus' idea. He even took away our powers until you came home"
"I don't believe you."
"Oh yeah? Do you honestly think I would let you stand there and talk to me like that after that rude awakening? If I had one bit of fire power I would have had you on your knees by now!"
The disguised god looked at them again. "You have to convince me to go back to Olympus? Of my own free will?"
"Of course. Otherwise we would had you there already," Discord stood up in the weight of her drenched clothes. "We don't need our powers to tie you up and drag you back kicking and screaming."
Proteus gave her a snicker. "Yes you would. Because I would still have my powers to leave your grasp." A thought went through his head. "If you really want me to go back with you, you are going to have to do some serious making up for these centuries."
"What are you talking about? We say we're sorry and you leave Hercules right now and go back." Discord demanded.
"Oh no. It's not that easy. You see, to just say you are sorry is not enough here. You are going have to work for real hard." His voice returned to match his disguise, and he smiled again as he look towards Alcmene's home.
"Hercules," Marcus called out as he had three blonde figures following him. "I found these travelers in the woods when I went to get the fire wood for tonight. They need a place to stay while their wagon is fixed at a black smith's. They said they would work for their board, and I know how much there is to do around here. Now that we have the pen up for the hogs, they need tended to, and all the other regular chores on top of the fix ups. What do you say?"
The scrawniest of the three had fire wood across his shoulders, and the other man, nor the woman looked like they were pleased with the situation. The youth looked them over and could not get over he had seen them before. "Sure. The faster we get the repairs done, the faster I can enjoy my time off. Come on. I'll show you around."
Hercules gave a list of things to do, and Marcus chose who would do what. He was careful not to sound bossy, and made sure he asked if they would not mind taking the task in hand. Though he knew they would not, if they wanted to get out of the predicament they had landed in.
"Well, Marcus, let's finish the roof on the barn. It looks like a storm tonight, and I hate to have what we've done ruined by it."
Marcus agreed and followed him giving a satisfied smile back at watching his mistreaters. He found satisfaction watching them working in what they knew nothing about.
At lunch time Alcmene had made enough food for the lot of them. Having her chores taken care of, it gave her the time. The three strangers dragged themselves in and sat at the table. They looked exhausted, and as though they had been drug behind a chariot for several miles.
"Are you three holding up all right?" Alcmene asked as she sat down and drank her from her cup.
"Oh sure they are. A little hard work never hurt anyone." Marcus patted Ares on his back, causing the large man to swallow the large load he had in his mouth.
Discord looked at her hands. Her finger nails were packed in dirt, and her palms were covered in blisters, and scrapes to complete her anger. "Sure. We're doing just fine. I think by the morning we will be moving on."
"Oh, don't be so hasty. When I passed through a couple of days ago, it was said the black smith was backed up. To hurry a busy man like that would only make his work shoddy. You wouldn't make it five feet if that were to happen."
Hercules could not help notice the warning tone in his new friend's voice. He dismissed it and thought he would change the subject. "All right. Well, then I think we better get back to work. That roof is almost done, and the horse had yet to be tended to."
"You guys wouldn't mind cleaning the stall and feeding the horse would you?" Marcus asked as he and Hercules stood up, and took last drink from their cups.
"Actually..." Hercules began thinking that the travelers should have a break. They seemed tired and agitated.
"No. We don't mind at all," Ares said as he gave a warning look to his companions. "We'd be happy to handle it." He gave his chicken a rough tug while tearing it apart.
"Okay. Thanks. One less thing for us to have to stop to do. We'll see you at the barn."
The two youths left, and started wrestling and pushing each other out the door. Their laughter only boiled the three gods even more. They mumbled as Alcmene started to clear the table. She looked at Discord who wanted to lay her head in her plate and sleep.
"Dear, you look beat. Why don't you stay inside and help me out around here. Zeus knows it's much cooler in here, and the work isn't as harsh."
After a kick to her shins, she put on her false cheer and agreed with a nod. Ares waited until the young woman went into the kitchen before scooting closer to his sister. "One hair on her is harmed, and it blows our work here. Play it cool. We'll have a talk with Proteus tonight, and if doesn't agree to our terms, we tell Hercules who he is, and blow his friendship."
"I hope we can tell the scrawny stick. To see the look on his face would be worth only half the trouble we've gone through."
"Do you know those guys from somewhere," Hercules asked as he brought up another roll of cover for the roof.
"Just from this morning when I found them while gathering the wood. Why?"
"Never mind. I was just wondering from your conversation, but maybe I was just hearing things."
Marcus stopped after unrolling the cover, and looked at the not even sweating half-god. "Herc. We're friends right?"
"Nothing. But if anything should happen, we would still be friends, right?"
"Yeah." He looked the boy over whose eyes filled with sadness and worry . "You do know them, don't you?"
Before Marcus could answer, they heard a yell from inside the barn. Looking down they saw Strife, or Anol, as he was introduced to Hercules and his mother, running from the horse.
"Help. It's after me." He said as he waved his hands in the air and tried to run faster then the animal with its hooves in the air.
Hercules watched, and saw that they were passing by the barn. He waited until they were underneath, and jumped onto the spooked animal's back.
"Whoa," he said as he held onto the mane. He had to hold tight while the horse reared again from the surprise of his weight.
When the beast hit the ground, he soothed it to a stand still.
"What happened?" he asked as Anol peeked around a corner to make sure he was no longer being followed.
"It doesn't like me. That's all." He tried to smile as he walked out, but hid back around again as soon as the horse snorted at him.
"I'll take care of him," Marcus said as he brought a rope and put it around the horses neck. The horse looked into the youth's eyes, and reared again.
"Whoa," Hercules said as he regained his grip on the mane. "Maybe I should take him. He seems to be a little skiddish today."
He took the rope from Marcus, and turned the horse back into the barn. "What's up with you?" He asked. "You're not usually like that."
"Maybe he just sees the reality in people," Marcus said, spooking both him and the horse again. "There's something I need to tell you."
"Oh yeah. What's that?"
Hercules had to sooth the horse over again, while he brushed his slick hair.
"Uhm, well. The day you found me on the road.... " He wanted to tell the truth before the others could, and ruin the one thing he had wanted for the all the centuries he had lived. "I wasn't robbed, or injured by any...."
"Hercules. Are you and Marcus all right?" Alcmene said as she ran in came to the horse.
"We're fine. I would check on Anol, though. He seemed pretty shook up."
"He's fine. They went to feed the hogs for me. They said you took a leap off the barn roof?"
"I had to stop the horse. Besides it was fun."
"Hercules, half-god or not, you could have broken your neck. But I am glad you got him to settle. There's a family in down the road who want to breed him their mare. But that won't be until you're back at the academy. I just hope he's not as skiddish around them."
"I'm going to go check and see how they're doing with the hogs," Marcus excused himself.
Half way across to his destination, he saw Aphrodite standing on the hogs fence, and laughing at Strife whom had some how fell into the mud.
"What are you doing here?" he asked her as she flicked her finger and made the god fall again, scaring the hogs to the other side.
"Having fun. What does it look like?"
"No. I mean why are you here?"
"I'm their chaperon. I slept in a little, and just got here to check up on them."
"Good. Take them away. Tell Zeus to give them back there powers. Just leave me alone."
"Ne-uh. Not part of the deal, bro. Zeus swore the only way they would get their powers back, was to bring you back. And trust me. He means it."
"Why can't you all just leave me alone. I don't want to go back there. I just want to live a life like a human."
"But you can't do that. You're a god. If you gave up your powers, something bad will happen."
"Only for the humans, and when did you start caring about them."
"Hey. I am the goddess of love. If I didn't care about them, why would I give them the mate that they want, and yadda yadda. Besides, if you should become human, what ever bad thing that happens to them, will happen to you too. Being a god is not so bad."
"I'm not a god. I'm just a horrid monster who can change his shape."
"But not himself." Marcus looked at her, and thought he saw a sentimental side to the immortal beauty. "I saw the whole thing with the horse. He saw straight through you, and if you were to look at your reflection, so would you. This is not going to work."
"It has worked. I found a friend. I may even join Hercules and go to the academy with him."
"Do you think those three will let you do that? They are set on bringing that boy misery. Just a word of advice, if you want to remain Hercules' friend, you had better make sure that you are the one who tells him who you are. He wants to fit into his family so bad, that he may even turn on you and join them in your torment."
"He wouldn't do that. He's not like you guys."
"Humans do foolish things when they think they have been deceived, and when they want to feel like they belong somewhere. Just be careful bro. He's only half human, and us gods aren't as perfect as we like to think. Here he comes. Take your chance now."
Marcus looked back and saw Hercules exiting the barn. He had been talking with his mother, so he did not see the goddess disappear. "Hercules. Shall we finish that roof?"
Marcus walked over and started climbing the ladder. At the top, he noticed that his friend was a little disturbed. "What's the matter?"
"Nothing. Let's get work," The strong youth climbed up and went to work.
Marcus could tell there was something wrong. "You okay?"
"Yeah. I'm fine. Just something crazy my mother's worried about. Now you wanted to tell me something earlier. What was it?"
"I um... I wasn't robbed on the road side." He cleared his throat. "I was hurt, but not as it may have appeared to be."
"What do you mean?"
Marcus stood up and was about to change into his true form.
"Marcus, I told you earlier that I was your friend. You can tell me anything."
"Look at me. I'm acting like a total infant, just to say the simple truth."
"Hercules. Dinner's ready. You and Marcus can finish that in the morning."
"We're finished mother. We'll be in a minute." he turned back to his friend. Now what were you saying?"
But Marcus was already down the ladder, and heading for the house. "Better do as your mother says."
Hercules watched him as he moved across the yard, and thought he saw the silhouette of his shape changed. Shaking his head of the idea, he jumped off the roof, went in.
A few days later, the gods were becoming restless, and irritated. They were not going through another day of mortal labor. This was the day they were going to end it.
"Well, with every bodies help, we seem to have this place back in order," Alcmene said. "So why doesn't everyone take a day off. You boys go grab a game of ball, and then you three maybe could go to town and check on your wagon."
"That sounds like a great idea," the disguised Ares said as his plan was being worked out.
"I myself have to go to the market for a few food items that I have not grown here. Maybe you'd like to travel with me."
"No," he almost said too quick. "We have some other business to attend to before we leave here." He glared over at the fraud youth, and gave a smile of intimidation.
"How about that game of ball, Herc?" Marcus said in a nervous tone, and picked up his half eaten breakfast, walked to the wash bin.
Outside, they fixed their make shift goals, and filled the bag ball with water. As they started in their kicking, Marcus once again heard the antagonizing whisper from the beautiful goddess. "Tell him, Proteus. Tell him now."
He ignored it and tried to concentrate on the game. Everything would be fine. He had a friend, and he was not going to jeopardize that now.
"Have fun, boys. And hold down the place until I get back," Alcmene yelled as she waved her basket at the two.
The three travelers were resting on a hay wagon, and watching the two as well.
As they ran around, Ares thought the old god was making a fool of himself, trying to fit in as a mortal. He watched and waited for the his moment as he rubbed the callouses on his big hands, and ran a hand through his flattened hair.
"We're going to end this today, right?" Discord said as she sat next to him. "Because I am not going to go through another day like this. I have never been so humiliated in all my life."
"Sure you have, Discord. Everytime Hercules bests you."
His remark only made her pout more, as his arrogant look watched the two, and he chewed on a piece of the straw. He was waiting for his moment. And it came when the two tripped each other in a kicking frenzy over the ball. They both landed on the ball, exploding it, and laughed as the water cooled them.
The three got up and walked over. Ares clapped his hands in a mocking applause. "Very good game. I don't think Ive seen such a display of one on one ."
Hercules looked up at the man, and noticed something about him he had not noticed before. His eyes were so familiar.
"I must apologize to our kind host though. Here we are charading to come for our lost comrade who actually thought he can live a life like this, and he has been left in the dark by us all. Isn't that right, Proteus?"
Marcus stood up. "Why couldn't you just go home like I had asked. I would have been fine without you three meddling in my life. Just leave me alone."
"Marcus. What's going on here?" Hercules could not have been more confused as he stood and shook the mixture of water and sweat from his hair. "Why did he call you Proteus?"
"Show him," Discord sneered. "Show him who you really are, and you'll see who you're friend really is."
Proteus yelled and a bright light formed around him and the others. Hercules shielded his eyes and backed away. When the light dimmed, he saw one of his worst nightmares. The three gods who hated him the most, and a unreconignizable creature.
The creature bowed his head at the youth's shock. He saw himself in his friend's eyes and knew that everything was over. The one thing he had wanted all his life was gone.
"Ares. What are you and your goon squad doing here? And who is that?"
"Oh, Hercules. You're so trusting. This is your friend Marcus. Or as we like to call him on Mt. Olympus, Proteus. The shape shifting god."
"Why? Why are you all here? Why didn't you just finish me and my mother off in the night, as you always wanted."
"Oh we wanted. Believe me, but I have a different plan. You see. I revel in your hurt, and so I thought I would have the pleasure of letting you know you were being deceived. And now you two will pay. You!" he pointed his strong finger at Proteus,"can get your butt to where it belongs. And you," he laughed at Hercules."Can go through life wondering if the next person you see is really who they seem."
"You are Proteus?" His face was in disgust at the disfigured form in front of him. The gray skin, that stretched across his skeleton. The gray hair that was like long prickles across his head. "You are a god? What did you think you came here to do? Join them in their crusade to torment me, and find a way to kill me?"
"No. That's not it at all," Proteus' voice was low, and it seemed he had to fight for the air to make it. He held out his gnarled hand. "I just wanted a friend. Everytime I tried to tell you the truth, we were interrupted, and I never found the courage to show you what I really am."
"Friend? You though I could be your friend? That you could lie to me, and bring these three here to finish me off, as they always have wanted to do?"
"No. They can't hurt you. -"
"Yeah. Thanks to another god. You're all the same. Go back to Olympus. That's where you belong. You disgust me."
Proteus dropped his hand, and dropped to his knees. Never had he felt the agony of the double edged sword so deep in his soul. As a tear fell to the ground, he vanished.
"Hey. What about us? You were suppose to destroy him in your anger, and take us with you." Discord shouted to the sky.
A bolt of lightening came down around them, and picked them all three up.
Hercules watched. His heart hurt, and his eyes began to tear.
"You know, he's gone again," Aphrodite said as she appeared a few hours later next to her half brother as he sat in thought in the barn. His legs swung over the edge of the hay loft, and he picked on one piece of hay, while chewing on another.
"What do I care?" he muttered and did not even look at her. He had known that she had been there for sometime, watching the activity in both places.
"What was so bad that he did? Was it that he tried to make himself look pleasing so that he felt that he would be taken in, or that he lived the one dream that he wanted?"
"He deceived me and brought Ares, Strife, and Discord here. That put my mother in danger."
"Did you ever think about why they did what they did?"
His swollen eyes looked at her. "What do you mean?"
"If you would have let Proteus explain, instead of stabbing him, he would have told you." She could see his confusion, and since nobody knew where Proteus was, she decided to tell him. "Look. Ares, Strife and Discord on their once and while gracing of Olympus to impress horse face, always have a game of tormenting Proteus.
"This time, they decided to get a little rough, and the little guy had enough. He vanished. He was banged up on the outside, and on the inside. He's been known for his temper, and when he didn't do anything, but leave, Zeus was worried that he might do something drastic down here."
"Zeus actually cares about someone."
"Just listen. So Proteus saw this as his way to get a friend. He changed his form, and left his bruises to see. He really was exhausted when you found him. He had no idea it would be you who would take him in."
"Yeah, me the good little half god."
"Anyways. Zeus went mental, and took away their powers, and left me to make sure they did as they were suppose to. But I still had my powers, and so I got called away. Though I kept an eye on everything, and tried to coax Proteus to tell you the truth. And he did try."
"But I didn't listen, or think it was all that important, because he couldn't just tell me at once." The demi god laughed to himself, and look ahead of himself. Aphrodite formed a reflective surface in front of him.
"What do you see yourself as? What have you let yourself become, because you thought you were the one being deceived, when it was both you and Proteus."
Hercules saw himself turn into a creature like Proteus. The misformation and the gnarled hands. "I've become what I hate the most. I was just like Ares."
"If you really were the friend you said you were to Proteus, his looks would not have mattered."
"They didn't matter. Yeah. It shocked me. But they didn't matter."
"Then why did you say he disgusted you?"
"His mascarade disgusts me. The fact that we talked about being friends, and no matter what we would be that way. It was his scheming that disgust me. I tried to find out who the travelers really were from him, and yet he couldn't tell me it was Ares, Discord and Strife. He led me to believe that they were strangers. All he did was take the upper hand he had, and goated them into revealing him in a way that blew everything. Now that he did not destroy me in his temper, I know as soon as they get their powers back, they'll be back. To finish the job they had hoped he would do."
"What about Zeus' protection?"
"They don't care. An eternity in Tartarus would be worth it to them, if they could have the joy of knowing it was them that took me out."
"Oh. You are so right little brother," Ares familiar sneer said as he appeared in the door way below them.
"You think you can put me through those long hard days of mortal work, and get away with it? Or think that I would have you in my grasp as I did and let you slip away? I don't think so. The god of war is in the house, and there's no little god friends her to help you now."
He sent his sharp power to Aphrodite, and sent her out of his way. Back to Mt. Olympus.
"Now, this is how I like it. Just us three, all for you."
Discord and Strife appeared next to him, and looked up at the youth with hatred and revenge in their eyes.
"I still have pig manure stuck under my nails," she said as she pointed a finger up at him. Her lightening blast missed and added a window to the back wall.
"It's no different then what you usually smell like, so what's the difference." Hercules said and stopped. He really must have missed Iolaus. He was starting to sound like him. Shaking his head, he got up, and grabbed the bail loading hook, and swung down.
As he was at their level, he had his hands up in defense. "Now. Remember guys. I didn't know who you were. But you really can slop those hogs." He gave a laugh, and then had to jump from another mad blast from his hot tempered sister.
"Ares," cried Aphrodite as she reentered the scene. "You had better leave him alone."
The god of war gave her an irritated look and then gave her another throw home. "She can be so bossy for a younger sister."
"She's right Ares," came the wheezing voice. Proteus had all eyes on him as he took his shape from the second horse nobody had noticed. "Leave him alone. Your quarrel this time is with me."
"Proteus," Strife almost sang in his amusement that the creature would take a stand against the three. "What are you doing here?"
"Making up for the friend I lacked to be. Leave Hercules alone."
The three laughed.
"And what are you going to do about it you ugly, pathetic thing?"
"He's not ugly, or pathetic," Hercules said as he stood next to the creature who stood taller. "You're the one who's pathetic. Three gods against one? Oh yeah. That's real tough. Or how about the three of you, against mere me? Now you've tried this before on a number of occasions. You would think you would learn by now."
Ares had already begun to walk to them as his little brother talked. He put a hand to the youth's throat, and pushed him out of the way.
Hercules' thin, yet strong body, bounced off the back wall. He barely missed the sharp utensils hanging there.
"And as I was saying, Proteus." He continued his arrogant walk to the shorter god. "What are you going to do about it?" His words mocked him as they were said in short, sharp tones.
"Something I should have done a long time ago."
Ares laughed and looked back at his two comrades.
They started to laugh with him, but soon stopped as they saw they light starting to surround him.
His skin became more hairy, coarse, and brown. His height shortened, and his laughter turned into a snort. Soon he was down on all fours, snorting, and grobbling around the floor. The god of war, was now nothing more then a pig.
Proteus looked at the other two. He smiled at their insecure laughs, as they backed away.
Before they could use there powers to disperse, he had them joining their friend.
"Now Zeus can see you three for what you really are."
"Not bad Proteus. I guess you just needed a little confidence to stand up to them."
"No. What I needed was a friend to show me what I really am. I am Proteus. The shape shifting god. And if I can change my form, I thought I would try to change there's."
"You know they'll only think of ways to get even."
"Yes. And that is what makes them petty."
The shape shifting god walked to stand in the middle of the three pigs. He took a deep breath that sounded like it hurt his lungs. His form turned into a tall man with shoulder length blond hair, and blue eyes, wearing brown leather pants and a leather vest. "Maybe we'll see each other another day."
"You can count on it." Hercules said as he saw something very familiar in the eyes that Proteus had given himself.
With the three animals in his big arms, the god disappeared. He had never felt so good in all his life.
"Hercules!" came his mother's yell from outside.
"I think she found the new window in the barn wall," Aphrodite's voice came from the hay loft with a small amount of apology and a great amount of laughter.
Hercules turned and laughed as he looked at his sister. "Well, I do have enough time in my break to fix it."
"Rest. You deserve it. I got this." She gave her brother a playful wink, and with a squeal of excitement, she pointed her finger at the whole. In a bright light, it was fixed. "Discord never had a taste for decorating anyways. Gotta jet bro. C-ya."
With a blow of a kiss, she was gone.
Hercules laughed and went to find his mother.
"Hercules. What happened here? Where's Marcus? Is he all right?"
"I think Marcus will be just fine," He put an arm around his mother's shoulder and lead her to the house. "It's a long story," he said to her confused look. "And I do believe I have enough time to tell it."
TERN O'BRIEN AND MEDEA
Strife: Joel Tobeck
Discord: Meighan Desmond
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