Disclaimer: They aren't mine. Macaria comes from Greek Mythology and I've mixed her background with Illea's. So her personality and the details of her life were my own creation. The background story of Macaria is borrowed from a friend with permission and may not be used elsewhere.

Note: My Xena|Herc verse is more set in Greek Mythology verse. There are still similar events, but the tones are definitely darker. My Xena|Herc verse follow more along the Greek Culture and customs. Not suitable for anyone under 16+

Author's Note: This story sets off after Godly Assassin, where Macaria discovers that her whole life has been a lie. Her father, Hercules never abanonded her and her mother, and Hera used her as an instrument of revenge. With her old rage cooled, She's now trying to live a normal life but it isn't working so well.

Summary: Discord decides that the town of Calydronis will go under attack if they do not give up the Greek Fire that she desperately wants to get for Ares. Iolaus and Macaria must work together to keep the Fire from burning up the town, but what be able to put out another sort of fire just starting?

HTLJ: Exit Fire

"We're going to be late." The girl insisted as she caught up to his quick strides. Iolaus tossed her a chastising look.

"We wouldn't be late if you didn't have to haggle with every vagabond we came into contact with!"

She shrugged. "They shouldn't be allowed to get away with "taxes." the girl insisted, using her index fingers to make quote marks. "Besides, admit it Iolaus. You loved kicking their butts every bit as much as I did."

OK. So Macaria had a point. Iolaus rolled his eyes skyward, wondering for the fifth time how he got talked into accompanying Hercules's daughter today. However he was already cross today as he'd had other plans. Not that he minded making sure Macaria got to Alcmene's safe and sound but there were days when the girl could get on his last nerves.

Like today.

"You don't listen to anything your father says do you? Sometimes it's not about fighting. Sometimes talking helps."

He heard laughter behind him. "You mean giving bad quips to your enemies before you pound their faces in?"

"Macaria." Iolaus paused in his stride, causing the girl to stop a few inches away from him. "Don't start today."

Her eyes glinted with amusement. "And why not? What else is there to do?" She tossed her hands up and watched as the hunter turned his back to continue down the path. "Besides, I didn't ask for an escort. I'm not a child."

"Stop acting like one."

Macaria rolled her eyes. Iolaus was in a mood, and a bad one. She wondered what his deal was but thought it best not to ask. She fell into quiet step behind him. And the day had started out so good. She'd been on a mission to help a local town convince a cyclops that he would make a better guard than trying to eat them all. Iolaus had joined her half amused at her antics to help the town and with his own good natured wit they'd convinced the Cyclops that if he was the town's guard, then a giving of mutton would be a weekly gift.

He accepted.

After that Iolaus then had to start in. Why had she left the Academy, why hadn't she told Hercules, blah, blah, blah. Macaria rolled her eyes. Sometimes she thought the two men forgot that she'd been a God's assassin and didn't feel like she needed the damned Academy. It was boring there. All the rules, regulations. And the work! Her training skills were far beyond that.

It was time she set on her own.

"Why are you in such a foul mood anyway?" Macaria asked. She didn't like silence. It reminded her of living in that hopeless cave. Waiting on Hera to come and tell her when she could strike out and try to kill her own father. She winced at the memory.

"I'm not in a mood." Iolaus turned slightly. "I just wish the fifteen year old who claims to be fifteen would start acting like one. You could have gotten us both killed back there!"

Macaria wagged a hand at him. "Worry-wart. We were fine. Those bullies didn't even have half the techniques we did." She gave a shrug. "And you can tell Father that when you rat me out later." She glared at Iolaus.

"You really should give the Academy another chance." Iolaus said instead of fighting with her. "It's where I went, Jason went and-"

"I know all about it. Blah, blah. You guys had the best times of your life there. Well you know what? It's not for me. I get bored helping the underclassmen." Macaria complained. "I don't work well with others."

"Dually noted."

"Ha, hah."

Again the two fell silent as they continued their path. Macaria sighed to herself. She could have taken this path on her own. She had intended to go to Alcmene's for the birthday party this weekend. She figured her father would have heard from Jason that she'd ditched the academy anyway. It was weird being someone who had a parent now. Macaria had been so used to being on her own.

Now she had a whole new set of rules to deal with. Sometimes it was frustrating.

"I had other plans was all." Iolaus finally said.

"Oh?" Macaria asked. "Like what?"

"I don't really need to tell you every little thing about me, Macie." The hunter said. "Just an outing with an old friend is all."

"OK. Fine. Let's just bask in the silence of your mood." Macaria sighed. "Iolaus, we're gonna be there in two days. We might as well take our time."

She had a point but Iolaus felt better walking fast. He turned and looked at her, taking a step. When he did, he activated a trap. The grounds fell beneath his feet and the hunter went tumbling into a hole, letting out a surprised yell as he did so.

"Hey!" The hunter shouted.

Macaria grinned, trying not to laugh. "Looks like someone's hunting trap worked." She peered down into the hole.

"It's not a very deep hole, or a very good one." Iolaus growled. He glared upwards at her. "I can get out of this."

"When you do, come back in a better mood."

"Grow up."

Macaria responded to this by sticking her tongue out. She turned her back, stepping away. Fine, if he was going to be a sour face then she just wouldn't say anything else. She heard the sounds of the hunter pulling himself out. He strained and groaned and by the last groan the girl could tell the hunter was out. "Alright." Iolaus said. "Let's try this again."

"Yeah. We can go back to the small village and go our separate ways. I can get to Grandmother's by myself, Iolaus."

He tossed her a look. "Even so it's best I accompany you OK? Seeing as how you deal with common bullies, I had better keep an eye on you."

Macaria narrowed her eyes. "I told you I don't need your protection."

"Macaria, can it."

She watched as Iolaus stepped over the hole he'd fallen into, his eyes now zoned on more hunting traps. He wagged a hand to show her where to step. The girl followed the hunter's movements. "Why are you so mad? Who's the old friend?" A small grin came onto her face. "Is this old friend a girl?"

There was only a huff as a reply.

"It was! What, did I keep you from meeting up with an old girlfriend?" Macaria asked. She caught up to Iolaus walking beside him now to judge his look. She could tell from the twitch in his lip that it was in fact a girl. "Then why don't you go ahead? I can get to Calydronis without you."

"Yeah, with your head still on? Not with that mouth of yours. You're too much like your mother." Iolaus shook his head.

That made Macaria pause. She didn't remember Deianira and wished with all her heart she did. Hera's lies had confused and manipulated her feelings. "Really? My mother talked back to Father?"

Iolaus half laughed. "All the time. If Hercules told her the sky was blue she would say it was green just to contradict him. Deianira had spirit, that's for sure. I think that's why they worked so well together. Your father's stubbornness and your mother's will worked for each other."

"Maybe not enough. She's dead now." Macaria said. Her voice was harsher than she had intended.

Iolaus turned and studied her. His face showed sympathy now, instead of the annoyance that had been on there earlier. "That wasn't their faults, Macie." Iolaus reminded. "That was the work of the Gods. If it hadn't been for that, your parents would still be together now."

Macaria gazed at the hunter for a moment, nodded and dropped the gaze. "I know. I just wish I could remember her more. Or them together." She started to ask a question but changed her mind. "Can we at least stop in Calydronis for the night? We don't have to keep up this mad pace do we?"

"We can stop in Calydronis for the night." Iolaus agreed. "I know an innkeeper there who owes me a favor. We can get a room and a meal."

"Cool." the girl drawled out. She smiled happily, her mood changed. "Do you really think I need the Academy, Iolaus? I mean I was your age when you and Father stopped going."

"No. I was seventeen and so was your father. We were considered adults then. Marriageable age, actually."

"So why didn't you get married?"

There was the briefest thought of Anya. Dark haired, lovely eyed Anya. Iolaus felt a pang for what had been his first love. He closed the thoughts of her off and shrugged. "Haven't found a woman yet that I've wanted to spend the rest of my life with I guess."

"But you were married before!"

"How do you know?"

"I remember going to your hut with Father and Mother." It was a brief memory but there. "A dinner or something."

"So you remember some things." Iolaus eyed the girl with interest. "Hercules and I wondered if Hera hadn't done something to your memory."

"Maybe. I don't know. It would be easy for her to marr it in a way where I wouldn't know what was going on." Macaria admitted. She shrugged and wanted to change the subject. It was still touchy with her. "Anyway. Who's this girl?"

"Her name is Niobe." Iolaus admitted. He'd been thinking about Queen Niobe a lot and wondered how she was faring without his cousin there to be her King. He half hoped she had gotten married to someone new and was happy. "She was married to my cousin, Orestes."

"But..." Macaria paused.

"Yeah, yeah." Iolaus nodded knowing where this was going. "We fell for each other. But it's over now. Our lives are too different."

"That's sad." Macaria said and the hunter could hear the truth in the girl's voice. He gave a shrug.

"Calydronis is up ahead. And I'm sorry I've been in a mood. Didn't mean to take it out on you."

"It's OK."

Iolaus didn't know why he'd become so cross. He hadn't sent word to Hector or Linus that he was going to visit. He certainly didn't want Niobe to know. Iolaus had wanted to surprise her. But now realizing the time that had passed...maybe she wouldn't want to see him. Maybe she would have married, had a family now. He only wanted her happiness. And then, Macaria had angered him by simply being herself—headstrong, stubborn foolish kid that she was.

He thought it was probably the almost getting killed by highwaymen that had pissed him off. She had such a big mouth! If she would have just shut up and let him handle it they would have gotten away without being thrown over a cliff, with that silly kid hanging onto his neck.

And to top it off, she hadn't even said thank you for saving her butt.

Kids!

The two travelers were quiet during the remainder of their trip. Calydronis was a small island town, the smell of the Grecian sea invading their nostrils. Villagers moved about in their daily life. Merchants were trying to get people to buy things, or were barting. Women and children milled about talking to one another. Iolaus moved past the crowd and glanced back to make sure Macaria was following.

She was.

He kept walking until they'd reached a small tavern that doubled as an inn. Perhaps not the best place to take a fifteen year old to stay for a night but it would do for now. First thing though, the hunter would lay down some rules.

"You're not going into the bar section. And I'd better not find you with any wine but the stuff you drink with dinner." he ordered sternly as he placed a hand on the door.

She made a face at him. "Ooh what else General. Do you have an instructions manual on how I should tie my bootlaces? Maybe shine my dagger?"

Iolaus glared. The General comment didn't set well with him, as a vision of his father's face yelling similar rules came into view. But this was different. Macaria could get hurt, she wasn't being a seventeen year old troublemaker. "Macaria, I'm serious. These places have atmospheres where a big mouth like yours could get into real trouble! And the men who occupy the bar side aren't silly highwaymen."

"I can take care of myself." The girl insisted. She crossed her arms over her chest. "I can!"

"Just remember what I said." Iolaus said with a sigh. He opened the door for her and they walked inside. The back area was where the bar was located, just the area he didn't want to go in. The room was already scented with a sweet smelling smoke that filtered through a pipe some men were smoking and other men were drinking wine and ale by the bucket fulls. A few women with tight bodices sauntered here and there. One with her breasts pushed way out too far sauntered past, hands on her hips. She called out to one of the half drunk men in the tavern and sat down on his lap.

"Where've you been, Handsome?" The woman slurred. She gave the man a huge kiss while he ogled her chest.

Iolaus forcefully pushed Macaria towards the bar itself. "Outta the way!" He snapped at a few drunks who gave the girl a once over. Iolaus knew that look all too well. He just hoped Hercules wouldn't say too much about the place they were at. Some escort I am. Iolaus thought.

"What can I do for you?" The bartender asked as they approached. His face lit into a smile when he recognized Iolaus.

"Iolaus!"

"Hello, Thorn." He smiled at the man. "I'm needing a room for the night." Iolaus began.

Thorn smiled at Iolaus and Macaria. "Of course. I have the perfect honeymoon suit for you and your wife." Thorn turned and rooted through some of his keys, digging for one.

"No wait, Thorn-" Iolaus began.

"It's a perfect room. On the east side, so you lovebirds can wake up with the sun. Never thought I'd see you settle down Iolaus." Thorn grinned. "And she's a cutie. Was she part of a betrothal?" He asked.

"Not exactly, Thorn. She's-"

Macaria was too stunned to help much. For once in her life, the girl was quiet. Figures. Iolaus thought with a roll of his eyes.

"Come on, come on." Thorn wagged his hands and patted Iolaus on the back. "I'll make a special meal for the two of you. You don't have to eat it down here with these idiots. I'll even bring the top shelf wine out. All for you, Iolaus." he turned and smiled at Macaria. "And your pretty new wife."

"I'm not-" Macaria started, seemingly coming out of shock. But Thorn was talking about what it was like to be married as he ushered them out of the bar area and into a quieter, cleaner environment. Macaria turned and gave Iolaus a bewildered look. He wagged a hand to indicate to let it go. The girl shrugged and they were lead upstairs to a room.

Thorn dug into his keys, found one and unlocked the room. "It ain't been used in a full two moons but it's in good condition. I'll send Madge up with some water and towels and the like. I'm sure the little lady here will want to change." He gave Iolaus a knowing look and a wink.

Iolaus felt his face heat up. "Thorn-"

"No need to thank me old pal." he clapped Iolaus on the back. "Just enjoy your night. I'll be back in a moment or two to see if there's anything you need. Congratulations to the both of you!" He said as he patted Iolaus's back again and took Macaria's hand, shaking it. Before either could respond, Thorn shut the door behind him.

"Iolaus!" Macaria exploded. Her own face was flushed. "He thinks we're married?" She looked surprised.

"I know, I know." The hunter sagged against the closed door and sighed. "I'll let him know later that I'm just your escort, not your husband."

Macaria nodded once, seemingly relieved. "OK. Good." She nodded once. Macaria bit her lip then looked over at him imploringly. "Um...that water does sound promising. I could use a moment to change..."

"I'll go let Thorn know." Iolaus promised. He gave her a small smile, nodded once and opened the door. Iolaus let it close behind him, wondering how he got himself roped up into these situations.

###

Iolaus headed back down to the bar area. It was a rowdy bunch and in the older days he would have been drinking and ogling the women here. Anymore he felt above such places and as Hercules had suggested, maybe his sowing wild oats phase was settling down finally.

You've got so many notches on your belt I'm surprised your pants stay up! The hunter smiled as his old friend's rather true statement came t mind. He shook his head and walked over to the bar. Thorn was talking to a few men.

"Excuse me." Iolaus interupted. "Ah, Thorn I was wondering if I could get some water and maybe some cloths."

"Sure thing, Iolaus." Thorn flashed him a sad smile. "Marcus and Andrew, this is Iolaus."

Both men nodded. "Still Thorn. We have to do what the Goddess says." he lifted his mug to his lips and took a long drink. "If not Calydronis will be no more."

"What goddess?" Iolaus was on instant alert and thinking it could have something to do with Hera. It seemed that was the top God who was trying to hurt he and Hercules anymore.

"Discord." Marcus turned to him. "She will obliterate this village if we don't give her what she wants."

"And that would be?" Iolaus found himself pulling a chair up to the two men.

"Greek Fire." Andrew said. "It's our town's prized possesions. It's kept many a theif away or those who want to try to take over the town. We've used the fire on the water to blow our enemies away. Without it, we're defensless."

Thorn nodded. "Hey, Iolaus you wouldn't be able to bring Hercules would you?" He looked hopeful. "I know you're close to him."

Once again, Iolaus felt that little twang of anger when people just assumed he couldn't do anything because he was "the sidekick". He didn't feel it as much as he once had but it was still there sometimes. "I can help. It's Discord. Not a real god, like say Hera."

Thorn eyed the hunter for a moment. "Iolaus is a good fighter." He admitted. "Strong, too. OK. So what do you propose we do?"

Looking thoughtful, Iolaus motioned to Thorn for a glass of mead himself. Thorn poured him one and the hunter took a long sip. It wouldn't be how Hercules would go about it, that's for sure. But Iolaus could see the plan clear as day. "When is Discord planning to obliterate Calydronis?"

"I don't know. She hasn't said."

"That's because she doesn't know." A voice said behind him. He turned and saw Macaria standing with her arms crossed. "She makes threats and doesn't carry them out unless they suit her."

"How do you know?" Thorn's voice was mocking. In his way of thinking, Macaria was just a woman. Nothing of special importance.

"Trust me. I know." Macaria insisted. "What would she want Greek Fire for?" She asked Iolaus, frowning.

"It's a powerful weapon." Iolaus shrugged. He picked up his mead and took a drink. "She could use it for anything."

"But to obliterate a town just to get it? Why doesn't she just steal the Greek Fire and be done with it?" Macaria pulled a chair out and sat down. "It doesn't make sense."

It really didn't. It was a sloppy half plan. Though, Iolaus knew most of Discord's plans went like that. "Unless she's working for Ares." Iolaus mused.

Marcus, Andrew and Thorn looked nervous. "But he's the God of War!" Thorn cried out. "Why would he want Greek Fire? It's the only thing of value to our little town besides the fish and sea food we import."

"May I have a mug of water?" Macaria asked of Thorn who went to pour her some. She took it and seemed to be in thought. "Ares doesn't need Greek Fire. He doesn't even use his own weapons have the time—most of them are just for show." She pointed out.

Iolaus nodded. "Discord could be trying to prove something to Ares."

"That's what I'm thinking. So she'll kill a small town to make herself look good for my dear uncle." The girl sat back and smirked. "Don't they ever get bored of doing this?"

"You haven't been here long have you?" Iolaus teased. "This is the normal for them." He shook his head. "What we'll do is gather the Greek Fire and put it in a safe place. We'll call Discord out and go from there." He gave Macaria look. "Come on. We have a lot of work to do."

"Great." The girl groaned and rose to follow Iolaus. "And here I thought this was gonna be a peaceful night. So much for that."

TO BE CONTINUED.