Title: Winter Rumble

Author: Smenzer

Rating: PG

Pairing: None. Young Hercules

Archive: Yes, please. Let me know if you take it, OK?

Teaser: The guys play in the snow

Disclaimer: The characters are not mine. They belong to Studios USA or

Whoever owns the Rights to Young Hercules. This is just for fun. No money is being made.

It was the coldest winter Hercules had ever seen. Most mornings he had to break a thin layer of ice on the bowl containing the water to wash his face. But it was still surprising when bright and early one Saturday morning Hercules pushed open the thick front doors of the Academy and found the ground covered with a mysterious white powder. He instantly slid to a hault, hust inside the doorway, one foot raised to step outside.

"What's the holdup?" Iolaus complained as he tried to shove his best friend Hercules out the door. "I want to get going! We only have so many hours of freedom until Monday and I plan on enjoying every second OUTSIDE the Academy!"

"Woah! Stop!" Hercules braced himself in the doorway so the over-eager Iolaus couldn't shove him out. "There's some strange stuff on the ground!"

Iolaus opened the other door and peered out. He shivered as the very cold air blew around him, making goose bumps instantly appear on his arms. White breath puffed out of his mouth. "Yeah, you're right! I wonder what it is?"

"I don't know." Hercules admitted. As far as he knew, Greece had never had anything like this before. But then Chiron had said this winter was breaking all the records. "Do you think it could be snow? You know, the stuff that makes mountain tops white? Chiron said that in the north snow comes down from the sky like rain and gathers on the ground."

"Could be." Iolaus reached down and poked the white stuff. He examined his finger and saw that it had turned a bit red and was wet. "Well, it doesn't look too dangerous. I say we can walk on it."

"I don't know..." Hercules said as he turned around to gaze off towards Chiron's office. "Maybe we should ask Chiron."

"Ah, we don't need Horseface! Let him eat his oats or whatever centaurs do on their day off. Let's get going! Are we brave warriors or what?" With that, Iolaus bravely stepped onto the white stuff. He paused, glancing down at his boots. Then he grinned at Hercules. "See? I'm still here! Ha! It didn't melt my boots or anything like that. Now don't be such a party pooper and lets get going!"

Iolaus took three more steps and promptly fell flat on his back, his legs flying up in the air.

"IOLAUS!" Hercules rushed towards his fallen friend and tried to stop once he reached him, but his boots wouldn't cooperate! He slid forward several feet and tripped over some object buried in the snow. Sitting up, Hercules brushed snow off his face. He noticed that both his hands were wet and turning red. And his skin pinched. Ascertaining he was not injured, Hercules crawled over to his friend. "Are you OK?"

"Yeah, I'm fine, Herc. This stuff is just slippery." Iolaus gathered a bunch of snow in his hands and pressed it together. He turned it this way and that, pressing on it until he had formed a big ball. He laughed loudly. "Ha! Look what I made! A snowball! Let's go play melonball out in the field. If we break it, we can always make more! This is so cool!"

Helping each other to their feet, Hercules and Iolaus headed off to their favorite field to play melon...er, snowball. When they got there, Hercules noticed something odd. A stone building that had not been there before was now at the very edge of the field, amid the treeline. It was dark and forboding, sending a chill up Hercules' back. He pointed the place out to Iolaus. "Where did that come from?"

"Ah, who cares? Let's go play!" Iolaus raced out into the snowy field, his feet sliding out from underneath him after traveling only a few feet. He started to topple backward and threw the snowball up into the air. He landed with a loud plop, laughing. A few seconds later the snowball fell on his chest, busting. But such a minor accident wasn't going to stop Iolaus! He climbed to his feet, made a new snowball and tossed it to Hercules. The Demigod caught it and they continued their game. After a few tosses up and back, the game grew more wild and crazy. The snowy field soon was a jumble of footprints and long slide marks. Both were covered in snow, their skin bright red from the cold and their clothes soaked. Of course, both were having too much fun to care and they had also forgotten about the mysterious building until Hercules accidently threw a snowball threw its window!

They both stopped and stared at the dark stone walls, out of breath from playing hard. Iolaus look at his friend. "Who do you think lives there?"

"I don't know. But I hope they're not mad!" Hercules said as he took a few steps towards the door. "We should go apoligize."

"I say we just run for it before they come out and catch us!" Iolaus turned to go but saw Hercules was not following him. Sighing, he turned around and followed the Demigod to the building's thick wooden door.

"Iolaus, I think we are in big trouble!" Hercules told his friend as he pointed to a symbol on the door. "We just threw a snowball into Ares' new temple!"

Before Iolaus could reply, the temple doors flew open and a very angry Ares stood in the doorway. The remains of the snowball was dripping off his face. His dark eyes landed on Hercules and he growled. "YOU!"

"Run for it!" Iolaus shouted as the curly haired youth turned around and raced away from the irate War God. Hercules didn't waste ant time trying to explain the accident to Ares. He knew his older half-brother wouldn't listen anyway. No doubt he would think that Hercules had planned it that way to bug him.

Ares took one step onto the snow and promptly fell, his feet sliding out from underneath him. He landed flat on his back in the snow.

Iolaus skidded to a halt, sliding several feet before he actually stopped. Hercules slammed into him from behind, but the two managed to keep standing. Iolaus pointed at Ares lying in the snow. "Look, Herc! He fell down already! Let's clobber him good while we can!"

"I don't think..." Hercules protested with a worried glance towards Ares. The War God was already sitting up, rubbing at the back of his head and had a slightly dazed expression.

But his best friend ignored him, scooping up big handfuls of snow and quickly forming them into solid balls. Then he threw them at the God. One struck Ares on the open part of his black leather vest, sending icy cold snow down his hairy chest. The other his one of his legs. Shrugging, Hercules gathered snow and threw a few snowballs at Ares, too. By now the two friends were laughing and flinging handfuls of snow at him.

"I'm going to get you for this!" Ares warned them as he struggled to his feet. He managed to get a few steps closer to them before he slipped again on the snow, this time landing on his knees. But Ares got right back up and raced towards the two teens attacking him with snow. He ignored the snowballs that bounced off his chest, arms and head. He knew they couldn't really hurt him, it was his pride they injured. The very idea of them throwing snow at him, Ares, the God of War!

"Uh oh! He's getting kind of close!" Iolaus said as threw a last handful of snow. "Let's run!"

Hercules also tossed a land double handful in Ares' direction, then turned to follow Iolaus. His feet slid on the snow and he almost fell but managed to catch his balance at the last minute. But his mishap had lost him valuable time. His best buddy was now several feet in front of him while Ares was catching up to him. If he didn't hurry, he would be caught and he didn't want to think of that! Not after pummeling the War God with snow! Iolaus was now charging up a slippery, snow-covered hill and Hercules tried to follow him. But it was getting more difficult as his feet were numb.

"Almost got you!" Ares yelled from behind. He reached out to grab Hercules. His fingers grazed the back of the Demigod's sleeveless vest.

Hercules tried to run faster up the hill but couldn't. His feet slipped and he fell face first into the snow. Then he felt Ares trip over his suddenly prone body and the heavy War God fell on top of him. Sharp pain exploded in his chest as Hercules felt something crack. He screamed in pain. Then the weight was lifted off him and hands grabbed him roughly, hauling him to his feet. The last thing he saw before he passed out was the snarling face of his older brother, snow in his beard and hair.

Iolaus paused at the top of the hill and watched. He saw Ares pick Hercules up and flash out in a blue light. Now that the thrill of flinging snow at the War God had wore off, Iolaus realized exactly how cold he was. In fact, he could barely feel his fingers anymore. He held up his hands and saw they were red as ripe tomatoes. Not good. And the Academy seemed so very far away. His body was trembling uncontrollably and he didn't know if he could make it that far. He needed to get warm and get warm fast. And the only nearby place was Ares' new temple.

Sliding back down the hill, Iolaus started across the field towards the building. "I guess I just have to rescue you by myself."

Inside Ares temple, Ares placed Hercules on his new black obsidian altar. He looked down at his half brother in disgust. "You little fool! What did you think you were doing, throwing snowballs at me?"

Of course, Hercules couldn't hear him, as he was still out cold. Ares raised his hand and the torches flamed up higher and brighter, as did the fire in the huge fireplace. Then the God produced a blanket out of the air and threw it over his younger brother. Turning around, Ares walked to his thrown and sat down, one leg hanging over the arm of the chair. He would sit here and wait for Hercules to wake up. Perhaps by then he would have a suitable punishment planned for the half-God.

The warmth seeped into Hercules' frozen body and he stirred. His blue eyes opened and he stared up at the ceiling high above him. It was domed and had amazingly detailed scenes of battles painted on it. Sharp pain lanced through his chest each time he breathed in. He remembered hearing the crack and suspected at least one of his ribs was broken. He tried to sit up but the pain made his head spin, so he was forced to just lie there. Instead, he turned his head and spotted Ares resting on his throne. Panic gripped him as he realized that he must be lying on his brother's altar, the same brother that was always trying to kill him! And here he was, helpless with broken ribs.

"So, you're awake. Good." Ares rose from his throne and slowly approached the altar. Leaning against the huge slab of black stone, he looked down at Hercules. He tore the blanket off and tossed it on the floor. The God placed his hand on Hercules' chest, finding the broken ribs easily. The slightest pressure made the Demigod wince. "Isn't this strange? We had all those fights and you never really got hurt. And now you got two broken ribs because of an accident. I find it very enlightening, don't you?"

"What...are you...going to do...with me?" Hercules breathed. He skinned crawled from Ares' touch. He wanted to go screaming out of the temple, run back to the Academy and lock the doors. But he knew he would just pass out from the pain again if he tried to move. Better to face Ares now, act brave.

"Me? Do with you? Nothing." Ares laughed and slapped Hercules lightly on his leg. He then took Hercules' hand in his own, looking at the Demigods fingers. "You know, I don't have to do anything because you did a real number on yourself! Look at you. You have frostbite, you almost died of hypothermia and oh, you have broken ribs. The last part happened because you tripped me. And I suppose Dear Old Dad will blame most of your sorry state on me."

Hercules knew he had been outside too long, but they had got caught up in playing in the snow. Sure, his fingers had been pinching, as other parts had been but he had been having too much fun. And clobbering Ares had been way fun! But now he felt bad about it. Maybe now would be a good time to apologize. "I'm sorry we threw snow at you! Really, I am! And I'm sorry about the snowball that flew through your window. It was an accident! We were just goofing around. Honest!"

"Well, I think you should be punished for your rude and disrespectful behavior." Ares told Hercules, a frown on his face. Ares reached down and picked up Iolaus by the back of his soaking wet snow-covered vest. He frowned even more and dropped the mortal on the floor. He watched as Iolaus crawled over to the fireplace and sat there, shivering. "And that goes for Curly, too."

Hercules groaned. He imagined the two of them hanging in Ares' dungeon, chained to the cold walls as rats gnawed on their toes. He thought of other torture devices that the War God might favor, hideous things that would stretch their bodies or stick sharp objects into their tender flesh. "I'd rather be dead than be tortured by you! Zeus will never allow you to do whatever it is you have planned! He'll strike you down like he did before!"

"I don't think so." Ares growled. Then he laughed, showing white teeth. "You are a real joke, you know that? I can't even enjoy a decent fight with you because you almost killed yourself by accident! What a hoot!"

The Demigod remained silent. He knew Ares was right. He could have froze to death out there.

"I'm disappointed in you." Ares informed him, now serious. His dark eyes stared into Hercules' blue ones. "A warrior dies making stupid mistakes like that. Any enemy could have killed you right then and there. I'm letting you go this time, after you do your punishment. Understand? But don't you EVER do anything like that again to me or I'll kill you."

Hercules nodded that he understood. Ares placed his hand on his chest and Hercules felt radiant heat spread throughout his chest. When Ares removed his hand, he once again could breath easily. His ribs were healed. He sat up and rubbed his fingers together. He knew he was lucky to still have them, to be able to bend them. "Thank you. But why did you heal me?"

"What? You think I'm going to wait like three months for your ribs to heal before I can try to kill you again?" Ares laughed. "Fighting with you is too much fun, Little Brother. But its no challenge if you're all busted up. No, I want you in good condition for our fights. There's no honor in fighting an injured opponent. If I'm going to hurt you, I want to do it on purpose, not by accident!"

"Thanks, I guess." Hercules didn't know what to expect next. He knew Ares had some hideous punishment waiting for him and Iolaus. The War God let them thaw out by the fire for several hours, then called them to attention. His dark eyes glowed with pleasure as he told them their punishment. It was worse than either had dreamed of, much worse.

"Now I know the real reason he healed me." Hercules muttered as he threw a shovelful of snow onto a big pile. It had snowed several more feet of the white stuff while they had rested by the fire. Ares had a long sidewalk around his temple. He had stone pathways out in back, snaking through his garden. All of it needed to be shoveled and cleared.

"Yeah," Iolaus agreed. "And he said he was being nice to provide shovels! Ha! I'd rather be cleaning the Academy floor, I think, then shoveling all this snow! This stuff is heavy!"

"You're telling me!" Hercules replied. "I know one thing for certain. I'm never ever going to throw snowballs at Ares ever again!"