Author's Note: This is a one shot with Hercules. Set after Iolaus travelled back in time to rescue Alcmene. Alcmene compared the man she mt to the boy she knows.

Warning: The warning is placed here for vinsmouse, who wanted a spew warning here, claiming it might be a bad idea to drink while reading the funnier parts. So please keep in mind that drinking any kind of beverage while reading this, might be hazzard'ous to the health of your screen.

Disclaimer: I do not own Hercules the Legendary Journey, I make no money and boy does that make it hard to keep the computer with power… No permanent harm will come to Iolaus but a bit of Alcmene's attention and a big bowl of chicken soup might not be amiss at the end of it…

A Friend To Be

Alcmene ignored the whispers she heard as she walked through the market place. She knew what they were saying about her, and now she knew that while the man in her bed had not been her husband, she had not been unfaithful. If Zeus, the king of the Gods took on the form of your beloved husband, then there was nothing you could have done about it. Perhaps she should have been angry, but she simply could not. Not after the events that had occurred the day before. Though she had been frightened out of her mind at first, what with that strange man coming to her home and babbling out crazy warnings. Who would not have been scared then, but the woman who came after him had been worse, pure evil, and she had found herself trusting the man, Iolaus.

It had really been a glimpse into the future, seeing the man who was willing to risk so much for her still unborn child. To know what a man that child must be to have a friend like that. She could not be angry with Zeus for giving her a gift like that, she only wished he had been honest about it. Yet the Gods were likely to busy to concern themselves with such details. She had always wondered about that, if they were paying attention. Obviously they were, but perhaps not always in the way that the mortals would prefer.

Her son kicked again and she placed a hand on her belly, smiling as she remembered what the man had said, that he'd recognize that kick anywhere. She had placed his hand on her belly and the look on his face as he felt the baby kick, her baby but his friend. She could not help but wonder what he was really thinking about all of it, about having seen his friend before he was even born. Brushing back her hair she looked around herself, finding more joy in the view than she had the day before. It was a beautiful day and having been so certain the day before it would be her last day she appreciated it even more.

Some of the others, mostly the women still whispered amongst themselves as she passed by, but she ignored them. She had her son, her oldest, and now she would have another son. It was easy to ignore the talk of the other women now. Anyone who could inspire such trust and devotion as her son obviously did.

Children were running around everywhere, boys playing their games, some running around with wooden swords and some with staffs. Girls too were playing, a group of them were sitting with their dolls, playing at being old women talking about their children. Apparently one of the dolls had been caught getting her dress all torn and muddied. She had a feeling the girl herself had committed that crime. She seemed to think the punishment unfair and Alcmene was not surprised.

However today she was paying more attention to the boys than to the girls. She watched as a couple of them ran across her path but both of them had to be at least six years old. What she was really hoping to see was a tussle of golden curls. There were more than one blond child there, but few had the golden curls he was looking for.

A girl came over to her, smiling shyly as if she meant to speak. Then before she could say something she burst into a fit of giggles and ran off again. Well, such was the way of children, she knew that. They meant no harm they simply never thought about what it was they were doing. In a way she much preferred their honesty, even if sometimes it meant they acted a little thoughtlessly.

Then she finally spotted who she had been looking for. A two year old boy wearing nothing but a scrap of cloth around his hips. His blonde curls were truly shining like gold in the sun, and they bobbed up and down around his face as he ran. She could hear him giggle as he dodged around a barrel and then she lost sight of him as he disappeared into an alley. She was worried then because the alley was littered with broken wine jugs and splintered crates and he wore nothing on his small feet. She stepped into the alley, suddenly feeling an urge to make certain that he hadn't stepped on something and cut himself, and then she heard the giggle behind an old broken crate. Peeking over it she saw the pastry he was clutching to his chest, even as she watched he dug his teeth in it, still giggling to himself as he chewed. She knew that his mother barely had enough to keep her children fed, and she knew that the toddler was always hungry. It was what she had told the man yesterday, that there was a two year old in the village who was always stealing pastries, it was true. Though she thought that most of the time he did it because he was hungry and simply could not resist the temptation of such delicious food.

She hadn't really paid that much attention to him before, but now she stepped to the side where she could still watch. Those brilliant blue eyes that seemed to sparkle with a joy for life, and that giggle that warmed her soul. Apparently her unborn baby liked it too, for he kicked as if in response to the sound.

Iolaus was oblivious to her, to anything but the delicious treat in his hands. It was a game to the boy, trying to get the delicious food away from the bad tempered man who always chased him. Always chased him but never caught him. That much Alcmene knew, for he was fast. A little small even for only two years, thin but very fast. Already he had proved himself a scrapper, she knew this too for while the children always played together they always fought too. Iolaus would not submit to any other will than his own, and he would not be bullied by an older child.

Looking at him now she could really see the man from yesterday in him, and she knew that while he would never be tall it wouldn't matter for he had a heart larger than most. It was in the eyes, the way they shone and sparkled and it was the sound of his laughter. This was a child who loved every minute of being alive and would make the most of it. She had heard his mother complain about how he was always on the move, never still, ever curious and getting into things. She was certain one day his curiosity would cost him his life, and Alcmene had seen why she would say that. Was it last month the child had nearly fallen into the well? One of the older boys had tried to frighten the younger children by telling them about the monster who lived in the well. It had been something an older brother told her sister to make her wary and be careful, it worked on all the other children but Iolaus wanted to see it. Armed with a stick for a sword he had been leaning over the edge, nearly falling in by the time the sandal maker had grabbed him by the waist. Surprisingly the boy had not been frightened, only sad over the fact there had been no monster for him to fight.

The day after he had gone into the woods though he was much too small to go there by himself. He had been caught up in following the tracks from a big dog, and one of the farmers on his way into the village had come across him, bringing him back home to a mother already at her wits end what to do with her son.

Alcmene felt that there was really no need to worry about him though, not anymore when she knew he would be fine. She had a feeling that it was his lust for adventure and excitement that would make him into the man her son would come to know, whom she had already known.

The pastry was gone now, and he scrubbed his small dirty hands across his face, then crawled forward on all four to look around the crate. Seeing that the cost was clear he darted out of the alley, no doubt up to some more mischief and she remained behind. Watching for a moment as he ran before she followed out on the street.

She was coming out of the pottery when she heard the loud cries of children, looking up she could not see them at first, then they came out of another alley. It was a game of some sort, one group of them chasing the other and little Iolaus the youngest of them still kept up well. Until he ran right into her, tumbling head over heals in the dusty street before he sat up with a light giggle.

"Sorry," he giggled, a light lips still audible.

"Did you hurt yourself?" she knelt worriedly to help him up, brushing him off though he squirmed. He shook his head so that the blonde locks danced around his face. "You need to be more careful Iolaus, you could hurt yourself," she chided gently.

"Is that a baby?" he asked, pointing to her stomach. He had heard other older women talk about that, and point towards her and he wanted to know.

"Yes, it's a baby," she smiled. "My baby boy." Taking his hand she placed it on her stomach, just as she had done yesterday, and he smiled, oh, he smiled as brightly as the sun. His eyes shone and sparkled and then came the giggle again.

"Go on now, go play," she urged a moment later and he nodded before he ran off again. A loud shriek of joy as he went in pursuit of the other boys.

She knew she would take a different interest in that boy now, because she knew how much he would come to mean to her son, and to her. How much he already meant to her. She would try to watch over him when she could, and she knew he would watch over both her and her son in turn. Later he would do that, now he was just a child and she felt a need to protect him while she could. She wanted to do it now while he might need it, because she had a feeling that time would pass all too quickly.

Now a little scrap of mischief and love, but for her son a friend to be, and for her always her own little hero, with a heart as golden as his hair…

The End

No monsters residing in village wells were harmed during the writing of this story, but the one in Thebes is still hiding for fear of a two year old warrior…

Please review, the Cricket is hungry…