Golden curls swayed in the light breeze. Rays of reds and yellows bounced off the boy's crown. The beautiful colors were a complete contrast to the slumped figure being held up by the large tree against his back. Eyes of blue, even the gods were envious of, swam in their salty moisture that threatened to spill onto the soft bronzed skin. Iolaus sat the picture of misery under the large canopy of emerald leaves. He watched as the sun set and slowly raised himself to head back to the academy walls. His normally bouncy nature and free spirit seemed broken as he returned to the empty yard. He sighed loudly before he changed his being to that of an exuberant kid with no worries in the world. If one looked close though they would have noticed his joy of life attitude never fully reached his eyes. He put a bounce in his step as he eyed his two closest friends.
"Hey Iolaus, where ya been?" The taller cadet called. It often took people by surprise how this scrawny boy possessed the strength of a dozen men.
"You know just around" Iolaus evaded the answer he should have given, but figured his friends would only see him as the cry-baby his father always told him he was.
"Okay well I certainly hope you spent some of that time studying for tomorrow's exam. Gods know you need to." Jason half joked with his buddy. He always seemed to involve himself and Iolaus in some easy banter. The royal prince of Corinth thought he saw a flicker of hurt in Iolaus' eyes but discarded that he was only seeing things.
"Yeah well that would just make old Fiddleface happy." Iolaus laughed back. He didn't know why Jason's comment bothered him so much, it's not like it wasn't true. He knew he should have been studying but the subjects bored him. What was so important about history anyway, it's over and done with. He sighed as he picked up his scroll and flopped onto his bunk.
"Iolaus you want some help?" Hercules asked with concern. Whenever an exam came up he often worried if Iolaus didn't pass he would be sent back to jail.
"Nah I've got it covered." He made a grand gesture of studying the scroll.
"Yeah sure, just like last time." Jason laughed until he felt a strong hand strike his chest. He threw his hands up in surrender before heading onto his bunk.
"Iolaus, you sure you don't want any help?" Herc almost pleaded with him.
"Really Herc, I've got it covered."
"Okay, but if you change your mind I'm here for you."
"Thanks" Iolaus replied before turning his attentions back to his scroll.
A short time later Iolaus sighed, he was just never going to get this. Nothing about the history on the scroll made any sense to him. His father was right he is just a stupid little cry-baby runt. He just couldn't seem to grasp anything. Sure he was good with the drills but everyone else seemed that much better. Even Chieron was jumping on him about his lack of focus lately. It just seemed that nothing could ever go right for him. Giving up he rolled up the scroll and closed his eyes. Maybe some sleep would help.
Peaceful sleep eluded him, nightmares of his father, authority figures and people who believed they were better than him taunted him, leaving him sleepy and irritable. A rarity that he was awake well ahead of the other cadets only solidified the worry he held for today's exam. Back under his tree he rolled the scroll out again and tried to make sense of all the words. All too quickly he heard the wake up bell, knowing he needed to put on his show of being carefree. Sometimes it was exhausting keeping up his mask. Hopefully today Jason would give the gabs a rest. Getting up he swiped the dirt from his pants and trudged his way back to the yard before pasting on his mask. Well at least it was breakfast, well what you could call it anyway, although he strangely found he wasn't hungry at all. Great now he was worried, never had he lost his appetite before.