Author: Writer Gal Jess (Formerly JLB Fiction and Dream Spell)
Fandom: Hercules: The Legendary Journeys
Summary: Hercules reflects on finding his daughter, and the new changes fatherhood brings to his and Iolaus's life.
Author's Notes: I was JLB Fiction, and had to change accounts due to a computer crash. This is the second story in a series. I am having trouble writing the first story, and this one was begging to come out.
"Did everyone get out of the building alive?" Hercules asked. He was covered with soot and was breathing hard. The fire had started by the highwaymen who had attacked the small town earlier. With no protection, they were easy pray to fall to the men.
"Heads counted." Iolaus agreed. "I made sure all the kids are out, too."
Hercules nodded, feeling relieved. The memory of children in danger was still fresh in his own mind. Not to mention his and Iolaus's latest adventure—being hunted by Macaria and learning that she was his own daughter, Illea. He felt rage at Hera again for taking the child away and twisting her mind to hate him.
"OK." Hercules eyed the damage done to the town's building. It was their meeting hall and he knew it was important to the magistrate. "We should get started on rebuilding this, soon."
Iolaus groaned. "I think I'd rather fight a Harpie." He commented.
"Oh I'm sure we'll find one of them this week." Hercules promised. "Come on. Where's Macaria?" He still felt odd calling his daughter by her birth name. His wife had been unable to choose between the name Illea or Macaria, so Hercules suggested giving them both to her. As a child the family had called her Illea.
"Taking the children to their mothers." Iolaus said. "She wanted to help so I let her do that."
"OK, good." Hercules gave a nod. He grabbed a few broken pieces of wood that didn't look too burnt and began a quick survey. "Come on, we have a lot of work to do."
Their work took them late into the day. The heroes were dripping with sweat and soot from earlier. Iolaus's stomach rumbled, begged for food but he didn't pester Hercules about it. Ever since they had found Illea—Macaria-he'd been quiet and different.
He was probably thinking about Deianera, Iolaus thought. He himself could see the dead woman in the young girl. He could also see the demigod in her too. It made him smile.
"Hungry?" A voice offered as a young girl came towards them. She wore the outfit of an assassin, though toned down. Her armor had been stripped from her when she denied Hera and now she looked like a kid playing dress up. She held out a basket of food and jugs of water towards Iolaus.
"Starved." Iolaus agreed. He took a pause and grabbed a fresh piece of bread, closing his eyes at the smell. Honey bread, always a great snack. "Thanks."
"Where is...Hercules?" Macaria still couldn't bring herself to call him her father yet. Iolaus knew it bothered Hercules as much as it did the girl. He wondered if the two would ever be able to bridge their gap, and become a family. Hercules deserved it and Iolaus would stop at nothing to see it come to fruition for his friend.
"On the other side. He's been working since we managed to get the fire out. He's like that sometimes." Iolaus said through a mouthful of bread. He swallowed and plucked a jug from Macaria, taking a long sip. The cool water that slid down his parched throat and felt good. He almost felt human again.
"Ah." the girl said. "I made sure the children got to their homes. The mothers who lost them were very glad to see them." She made a tiny smile. "One little girl was so worried about her mother more than herself."
"Kids." Iolaus said with a chuckle. "Well good job." He gave her a grin and held his piece of bread out. "Hungry? I hate eating alone and at least you talk. Sometimes your father is a one word man."
Macaria pulled off a chunk of bread from Iolaus's piece. "That's been noted. Is he...OK?" She asked. "He seems kind of distant. I wondered if it's anything I've done." She paused and looked thoughtful. "Well, besides trying to kill you both last week."
"Naw." Iolaus wagged a hand. "That's Hercules, being Hercules. Ever heard of the "strong and silent type?" Iolaus asked with a grin. He swung his head in the direction of the demigod. "That's him."
"Deanira, she looks so much like you." Hercules sat down on a large rock that overlooked a bubbling stream. "Every time I look at her, I see you when I first met you." He smiled fondly at the memory.
Having Macaria back, even if she was this way—a jaded assassin for the gods, made him hopeful. He had missed his children dearly and wanted to be a father again. However, he never expected to be a father to an unruly teenager and didn't know if he could. "She needs you, not me." He said with a sigh. "She needs a mother to show her how to be caring, how to be...soft. I'm worried with me as the only role model she has she'll be this way. She's young enough to forget what Hera implanted in her mind."
Hercules swallowed back the anger towards the goddess. He couldn't believe the goddess had kidnapped his daughter and left his sons and wife to die by fireball. It hurt so much. Though, when he had visited the Underworld to fetch Persephone back it made sense on why Macaria hadn't been there. Deianira hadn't much of a memory in the Underworld and claimed their daughter was visiting his mother.
"How am I supposed to be both mother and father to a teenage girl?" Hercules demanded. "I know nothing about what girls want or need. I'm a..." Here he hesitated to use the word but it was the only one that fit. "A so called Hero." He snorted. "I don't even have a home for her to go to, or a place where she can learn and grow. What can I do for her? What?"
Hercules slammed both his fits onto the rock he was sitting on. As a result, the rock shattered. The demigod sighed. "I don't even know if she's mortal...who knows if she's had Ambrosia or not?" He shrugged. "Deanira, help me. Tell me how to raise your daughter to be a good woman."
Of course, there was no answer. The demigod sat on the rock allowing the evening sun to warm him. He thought of the life he and Iolaus lead. It was normally filled with danger most times. Only a few times did they have easy days. Iolaus would be covered in bruises and bumps most of the time and they would work for their room and board.
Was that a proper way for a young girl to be raised?
Hercules thought of Xena, and how she had allowed Gabrielle to follow her, to befriend her. Gabrielle had been a young girl when he'd first met her. She had turned out OK, though she now fought with a staff. He didn't want that for Macaria. He wanted her to be normal, to have a life that she should have had all along.
"Mother." Hercules decided. "Mother can help. She's a woman." Though she was older she could be of great use to the girl. She could help her with whatever it was women did, and make sure that she was OK that-
"Hercules?" The voice asked timidly as Macaria climbed over a few rocks to join him. "Are you alright?"
It hurt that she didn't call him Father yet, but he wasn't going to push it. He looked up and managed a small tight smile. "I'm fine. Just...needed some air. Did you and Iolaus get something to eat? I know he's got to be starving, you as well."
"Yes. I brought him something earlier." She pulled out a basket with the bread and water. "Did you want something?"
Hercules wasn't hungry, but he figured he could eat. "Sure." He said as he took the last piece and a water jug. He bit into the piece of bread and chewed, then used the water jug to wash it down.
"I've been thinking." The demigod said. "I've got to be a better parent to you." He glanced over at Macaria and smiled, this one a better smile. "I can't go around fighting Harpies and Hydras when there's a teenager around."
Macaria frowned. "Why not?"
"You need a stable enviroment. You've never had that, living with Hera and as your father it's my duty and responsibility to see you grow up healthy and happy."
"So you mean you're going to settle down? Live in a two room hut, stop helping people who need help?" Macaria asked. "That's not fair to them."
"Sometimes you have to do what is right for you." Hercules told her. "And I'm doing what is right for you. Iolaus will understand."
"Maybe he will, but what about the next village? What about the next innocent travelers who get swindled by stupid highwaymen?" Macaria demanded. "You're the son of Zeus, you can't give up on those people!"
"What about you? I owe your mother to give you a good life-"
"I'll be fine." Macaria insisted. "But if you stop to live in some little village just for me that won't be good for me. I'll know what you give up. You're Hercules. You're the hero everyone hopes is out there, looking out for them. What happens if you just...stop?" Macaria shrugged her shoulders. "I'd feel guilty for the rest of my life. I can take care of myself just fine." She said. "I don't want a life like that...wearing chitons and having an arranged marriage...that's not me." She swung her head quickly.
Hercules gave a smile. "You don't know how much you sound like your mother just now." He told her. "She would say the exact same thing."
It gave Macaria a pause. She looked at the demigod. "Really? Then I'm glad I said it. Please, Hercules, don't stop helping others because of me. If you're worried about me getting into danger I won't. Or at least, I'll try not to." She gave a grin. "Sometimes my mouth tends to run away with me and that can't be helped, but I don't want to be sentenced to a farm girl's life."
"There's nothing wrong with the life of a farmer." Hercules insisted.
Macaria laughed. "And there's nothing wrong with a hero's life, either. At least I'll have a lot of good stories." She grinned.
"Alright." Hercules said. "I'll make you a deal. If you try not to get in trouble and start calling me Father, I won't stop helping others. How's that?"
There was a slight pause, but Macaria nodded. "I can try to do that, Herc—Father." She said. "Deal?"
"Deal." Hercules smiled. Maybe fatherhood wouldn't be so bad after all. He could do this, and maybe even be good at it.