Disclaimer: I don't own Hercules or any of the characters or settings mentioned.
Author's note: Sorry to the few of you actually reading this, I honestly totally forgot about it. So after almost a year, here's the second and final chapter.
The Second So Long
by Ryoko Porter
Taking another hardy gulp of wine, Hercules reveled in the sweet flavor and the treat of enjoying it with such good company. His old classmate and friend Icarus had quite literally dropped in on him and Megara for an unexpected visit. And though he the boy turned man did fly with his wax wings better than Hercules remembered, his landings still were violent. So after picking up the mess of man and wax feathers up, Meg had generously played hostess and plied the two old friends with drink and time to catch up.
The last time that Hercules had seen Icarus had been three years prior at his and Meg's joining. Though he knew that his friend was busy; running his own company that made flying on wax wings available to tourists in every part of the known realm.
"So Herc, how's the hero business?" Icarus hiccuped. He had already asked his friend the same question at least four times that evening, but he was far more drunk than his bigger, more alcohol tolerant drinking buddy.
Thankfully instead of being forced to answer the question yet again Hercules was interrupted by Meg, who appeared with their young son balanced on her hip and a question of her own; "so Icarus, have you heard from Cassandra at all? From what I've heard about her, she seems like someone I'd like to meet".
Again Icarus hiccuped, but this time it was on a more somber note. "Oh I've seen her, but I had to pay tribute to." He then thanked Meg for the wine she'd poured him and drank it in a fast gulp before continuing his story. "You know she's been working in Delphi as a profit, well I went to see her after she didn't show up for your wedding but she'd only talk to me as a customer. So to find out what was going on, I went digging for information. And the rumors around Delphi-town were that she was the most accurate seer around but was destitute because no one paid her much tribute because no one believed her fortunes. She was flat broke!"
Hercules wasn't surprised by that news, but was troubled by it. He didn't like to think that his delicate friend's life was so difficult while his was so easy since the battle with Hades. Occasionally he still performed a great deed to help the peoples of the various city-states, but mostly he lived quietly on Phil's island with Meg and his boy.
"So I went back to see her and again she'd only see me as a customer," Icarus continued. "But when I'd asked her if I could help she went into one of her spells and said; we shall meet only once more before my end and that will be at the isle where dreams come true, in three years time. Then my time was up, she'd told me my fortune. I asked if I could see her again but was turned away."
"The isle where dreams come true?" Hercules echoed in confusion.
"No idea!" Icarus cried in agony. The two men tried to think of where the the seer had referenced but in their drunken states their minds kept circling to back to memories of the seer herself; her long hair, tall body, and quick attitude.
"Well wouldn't the isle where dreams come true, be here?" Meg cooed more to her child than the men she was talking to. "And you said it yourself; she said you'd meet her in three years, three years ago."
"Yeah, but how would she get here? No boats ever land here," Hercules wondered.
"I've got my ways," came an answer from the entrance to the garden patio where the group enjoyed themselves. There stood the two men's old friend, very different looking from when Hercules had last seen her when she'd disappeared from school. She was thinner than she was before and wore a tailored dress that only resembled the old one in color. Her once long hair was cut short and pulled back to crown upon her head and show her heavily adorn ears. And she had painted thick coal about her eyes which gave her a wild look despite the rest of her formal style.
Casually Cassandra walked over to the group and sat at the table to steal a glass of wine from Hercules, like she had done it everyday of the almost five years she'd been missing from his life. "Long time no see, eh boys?"
"CASSY-BABY!" Icarus howled desperately, whipping up from the slumped position he'd been in, barely keeping awake after drinking so much.
"Cassandra!" Hercules echoed in genuine surprise, feeling suddenly sober despite the heavy drinking he'd done over the night.
Cassandra only smirked in the same way that Hercules remembered from when they were teenagers. Her upturned mouth drooped dangerously, however, when Icarus unsteadily got up and ran around the table to throw his surprisingly strong arms around her. Hercules had to swallow the laughter bubbling in his throat at the familiar scene of her struggling to break free. But when Icarus began to drunkenly thrust against his old crush Hercules's humor turned to disgust at his behavior and he made to get up and forcefully pull Icarus off of Cassandra.
"Icarus, get off! Now!" Cassandra ordered with a deadly calm that neither Hercules or Icarus had ever heard from her. For a moment Icarus didn't move, being too afraid to. Instead he stared at her, carefully assessing the changes in her from so close an angle. She appeared older than she actually was and had dark circles under her eyes that she hid with the heavy eye makeup. But she was still the most beautiful woman that he'd ever laid his own eyes upon, perhaps even more so now than when they were in school. There was a dangerous element to her current state that she would have envied in another woman when they were younger. Now she really seemed like the kind of person who would cause actual damage to him if he didn't cease his assault.
Carefully Icarus let go of Cassandra and backed away to take his seat at the table once again. He didn't notice his other friend also sitting, carefully eyeing him to see if he was genuinely finished violating the woman. Just like when the three of them were at Prometheus Academy, the scatter-brained man simply didn't see the usually subtle protectiveness his two friends exhibited toward each other. Hercules would protect Cassandra from physical harm, while she would return the favor by keeping his mind right and independent.
Thankfully, the tension of the moment was broken by Meg once again. "So you must be Cassandra."
"Must be. Sorry I didn't make it to the wedding, I had a lot going on in my own life back then. But I did bring you something," Cassandra reached into the bag that the others had not noticed her carrying and pulled out a golden arrow covered in dried blood. "It's not really from me, but Nessus told me that he wanted you to have it. You'll need it in about twelve or so years from now."
Megara took the present and said a hesitant thanks while staring at the gruesome item. She then let Hercules hug his son good night and announced that she was finished for the evening, but that the three old friends should continue to enjoy themselves.
So they did. For hours they continued to drink and reminisce about their days in school, and drink and laugh at old adventures, and drink. Poor Icarus had passed out long before Hercules and Cassandra raided the kitchen for more food and drink, where they settled to leave him in peace. While the rest of the island slept the two old friends competed to see who would outlast the other while Hercules shared stories about their years apart.
Finally while barely muttering about his battle with the Nemean lion, Hercules fell asleep leaning back against the wall. In her drunken haze, Cassandra did not immeadiately realise that he was out cold. And with no conversation to keep her awake she too fell asleep with her head resting on her folded arms upon the table.
*****Hercules the Animated Series*****
The echoed sound of a baby crying jolted Cassandra awake from her drunken slumber. It was not a sound she was accustomed to at any time of the day, let alone a few hours after a six hour marathon of drinking with old friends. Cradling her aching head in her hands she dimly realized that she had been resting against Hercules's strong arm. She felt a bit embarrassed about it and at the same time was disappointed that he had not reciprocated the unconscious act of affection. She knew that her feelings were not appropriate, but she attributed them to a lack of genuine and unassuming affection given to her for so long.
Still the child cried and in desperation to make it end Cassandra got up to search for it. Not knowing the layout of the house, it took her a good amount of time to find the room where the sound was coming from. When she finally did, however, Megara had already answered the child's call and was trying to calm him.
"If figures you'd show up," Megara said when she noticed Cassandra at the door. "Hercules will answer the screams of a complete stranger, but never hears his own son wailing in the next room."
"Maybe that's for the better," Cassandra sighed, forgetting herself.
Meg looked at her guest oddly, not understanding the strange behavior of the woman who Hercules had said was gloomy but not heartless. "Do you have any kids?"
"Had two," Cassandra answered not offering more. She did not like to remember the twins she had borne as a product of the abuse she had suffered over the last few years. At birth they had been small and sickly, and it was deemed kind by her captors to sacrifice them to the gods when they were only some months old.
"So what's with that arrow you gave me?" Megara asked desperately grasping for another subject to discuss with the woman she barely knew. But the conversation only seemed to depress the seer even more. She leaned against the doorway as if she could not stand, and hung her head into her hands.
Not looking at the mother and child, the seeress let herself fall into a trance and spoke in the cold way that she did when describing the vision. "In twelve years time Hera will create a rage within Hercules and he will beat his three children to death. The hero will also attack his wife, but she will strike him with a poison arrow before she dies..."
"Hercules would never..!" Megara cut short the prophecy to protest.
"It doesn't matter if you believe me or not, it will happen," Cassandra interrupted looking pained at the idea of such a future for her friend. She then walked over to Megara and the child and combed her fingers through the boy's thick ginger curls. "He looks so much like his father," she mused. "Hercules will ascend to Olympus after the death of you and your children. The plot will be all a concoction of Hera to get her son back."
"Were you in love with him?" Megara asked suddenly changing the topic when seeing the way Cassandra lovingly pet her son.
"It would have been so easy," was Cassandra's only answer.
The two women did not speak anymore but to direct the guest to where she could clean her body. Both knew that they would never see one another again, but neither felt the need to say goodbye, for they had not even said hello when they met the night before.
*****Hercules the Animated Series*****
When Hercules awoke he wasn't at all shocked to find himself at the kitchen table - having dim memories of his night with Icarus and Cassandra. But was pleased to see evidence - in the blanket covering him and the bag at his feet - that Cassandra had not yet left. He had no idea of what either of his surprise guest's plans were, if they intended to leave that very day or stay longer, but his heroic instincts wanted to keep them, Cassandra especially, safe on the island.
The hero couldn't explain the feeling - except perhaps for the hangover he was suffering from, but there was a nervousness filling his instincts about Cassandra. While her visit had thus far been enjoyable and he relieved that she was safe, there seemed to be an ominous element not yet explored to her appearance. Of course there was the strange gift that she had given to Megara, but still some part of him told Hercules that there was a problem that went even deeper.
Hercules was so deeply considering the sudden appearance of his old friend that he didn't notice his wife carrying his son into the room and sniff the air above him, "Zeus! You reek! How much did you drink last night?"
"I don't know, last thing I remember is coming in here to let Icarus sleep."
"He's still out there you know. From the looks of it, he won't be awake anytime soon," Meg assessed. "Go clean up," she ordered.
So Hercules left, without thinking to ask where his other friend was.
When the hero came to the river that all of the inhabitants of the island used to bath in he was only mildly startled to see the half naked form of a woman on her knees and bent over to wash her hair. There were many nymphs on the island so it was a usual sight. But when the woman sat straight Hercules immediately turned away for the shock of finally recognising his friend.
"It's all right Herc, I won't tell say anything if you don't," said Cassandra as she pushed her wet hair back against her head.
"You don't mind?"
When Cassandra shook her head to answer that she didn't, Hercules turned fully back to face her and went to take his place at the river to wash the himself. Still nervous at seeing the nakedness of the woman beside him, Hercules tried to keep his eyes on his own reflection in the steadily moving water. Yet he was still a man and his father's son, so he couldn't keep his eyes entirely off of her.
The seer was remarkably thin and her skin was more pale than Hercules remembered it being when they were young. Her face had been cleaned of the makeup she wore, so he could see the dusk color around her eyes that only came from prolonged sleeplessness. And upon her hip, just above where her dress had been left to cover her was a scar, deep and red against the ivory. But the scar was not just a scar. It was a burn. A brand. Like the markings made upon some livestock to claim ownership.
Rage only comparable to when he had learned that Megara had been working for Hades, filled Hercules. His mind went numb and he could not move or say anything. He could only think about the suffering of his friend, his own stupidity for letting it happen to her, and the murder of the men who had put her through it.
"Agamemnon is already dead," Cassandra said to his unsaid demand to know who was responsible for the mark she was again covering with her dress. "Everyone is dead, I made sure of it."*
Hercules wanted to ask how she had gotten the mark and what had happened, but he could tell that she did not want to go into depth about whatever she'd experienced. He could only assume that it had to do with the war that had ended in Troy recently, knowing that Agamemnon was one of the kings involved. His father had forbade him from going to the front lines, saying that it was a matter for another hero. At the time Hercules had been perfectly content with the order - preferring to battle monsters instead of weak men, but now he regretted it. "Cassandra..."
"Hercules, I don't have much more time," Cassandra announced very suddenly. Facing her old friend she put her hands onto his arm to emphasize her urgency, "I had to make a deal with Hades to be here at all."
"I had to tell you about a vision that I had about your future! I know that you you won't believe me, but promise me that you'll do as ask after I tell you what it is!" she demanded.
"But why did you have to make a deal with Hades? What kind of deal?" Hercules questioned, knowing full well what kind of deals the god of the Underworld made.
"Hercules! Promise me!" Cassandra begged.
Seeing the uncharacteristic desperation in his friend's eyes, Hercules finally relented, "I promise."
After seeing in the hero's eyes that he was being true, Cassandra swallowed her fears and told him of the vision she'd had. She described the brutal way that he would attack Megara and his three sons, crushing their mortal bodies with his divine strength. And she told him that Megara would use the arrow she'd given her the night before to poison him before she died. "That was my deal with Hades, to bring her the weapon that would kill you. But she won't remember that it was me who brought it, nor that I was ever present. Icarus won't either."
"Why?" Hercules asked, not fully knowing himself if he was asking why neither his wife or friend would remember her visit, or why she would agree to bring such a thing to his home and for what reason would she tell him.
"Because I'm already dead Hercules. I was killed yesterday, before I came here. I had to make a promise to Hades so that I could stay on Gaia long enough to see you. And he thought that making you live with the knowledge of what you would do to your family and that your own death would be waiting for you in your home - protected by a spell so that you cannot touch it, would be a suitable revenge for defeating him."
Hercules could barely breath. Hades had been right, knowing that he would do such a thing made him want to die right then. But at the same time he felt the curse upon Cassandra working on him, and did not believe her prophecy. So he was left confused, wondering why she would make such a deal with Hades if she knew he wouldn't believe her and her warning would be ignored?
"Because I need you to swear to me that when you have been struck by the arrow, you will go with Icarus to Thessaly and make yourself a funeral pyre. When you lay upon it, it will cleanse your sin away and Zeus will welcome you home!" Cassandra pressed, her voice between desperate and the impassivity of telling a vision. "Swear to me that you will do it!"
A rush of flame abruptly bellowed from the earth and Cassandra fell into Hercules's arms at the shock. There appeared Hades with his flame burning hotly red and a wicked grin upon his face. "Well, time's up babe! Your twenty-four hours are done!"
Hercules felt the almost nothing weight of the slender woman disappear, though she was still in his arms. Looking at her he saw that she had turned grey and was slipping through his arms to stand and go with the Lord of the Dead. He desperately tried to grab her hand, to pull her back, but his fingers slipped through her as if through air. "Cassandra!"
"You can't save me Hercules, my thread has already been cut and he won't make deal," she nodded in the god's direction. But seeing the way that Hercules looked at her, with so little power in his eyes she felt sorry for his plight. She bent down to him again and cupped his face in her hands - though she was sure that he couldn't feel her. "We must all die Hercules. Even the gods will disappear one day, and new gods will be born. But you have too much to do before you do, as a mortal and as a god! So go and do it, and forget about me. And say; goodbye, to the idiot for me."
Cassandra thereupon placed a friendly kiss on Hercules's cheek and then was gone.
*I figure that even though she's a seer, Cassandra doesn't know the fates of all of the Grecian heroes that slaughtered her people in Troy.
Author's Note; Well it's done. Hope somebody enjoyed it, but it was mostly a practice to see if I could make some sense of the show versus the original myths. The biggest problem was the iliadic war in Troy and how it fit the time scale of Disney. While Tolkien never heard of urgency, Disney has too much of it at times. So I figured that it had been going on since Hercules and Cassandra were ten or eleven and pretty much disregarded the episodes where it was at all mentioned. They were teenagers after all, and I know from experience, teens can easily ignore a war going on compared to their own lives. Also you'll notice that the timing makes all of the characters the legal drinking age of twenty-one. So there you go... Let me know any thoughts or questions you have and CONSTRUCTIVE criticism is always welcome. Thanks for reading!