Author's Note: Iolaus is rather small, but maybe even a small child can grow into a big hero.

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…

Little Soldier Boy

Skouros frowned as he entered the village, it hadn't been a very successful campaign and he had been gone a long time with nothing to show for it but a few new scars. The money he brought back wouldn't last very long, and the kids always needed something. Three girls and a boy that his wife raised just about alone. The girls all took after their mother, they would never be any stunning beauties but they were pretty in their own way and they were learning cooking and sewing. He had no doubt they would all find good husbands and he didn't worry much about them. The boy was another matter and one who worried him constantly. Three years old by now. He had been thrilled when he came home and found she had given birth to a boy, though he had been concerned when he saw how small the baby was. He looked more like a newborn than a two month old baby. They told him he was born a little early and he had smiled thinking his son was simply eager to meet the world, adventurous like his father but his concern grew when the boy did not. At a full year old he was still smaller than he ought to be. He turned two and was into everything. There was no keeping that boy at home or so his wife informed him. He simply wouldn't stay put but played with the other kids, always getting into mischief.

He was three now, and apparently spent much time with a widow and her baby. He didn't know the widow but he had known her late husband, a warrior himself and one he respected. That wasn't really what concerned him, what worried him was that he never really seemed to grow. He was still smaller than he should have been at his age, and the world was not a kind place to those who were small.

It was why he had gone to the oracle before he continued home, to ask about his son. The news hadn't exactly been good, not good at all. He had asked if the boy would ever grow taller or if he would always be short and had been told he would. Even as a man he would be short. So he had asked a few more questions well knowing that a man smaller than others would always be a target. Would his son be that? Nothing more than someone for bigger bullies to pick on.

The answer had surprised him because the oracle had said that his son was destined for great things, to be a hero and a warrior.

He found it hard to believe that his small scrap of a son could ever be a hero like that, but the oracle never lied. It was true that the boy was a scrapper as small as he was, but a scrapper is a long way from a hero. He had always meant to make sure the boy learned how to fight, in this world you had to know how to take care of yourself. There just wasn't enough heroes to go around and he couldn't stand the thought of his boy at the mercy of bullies all his life. He loved the boy as much as he loved his daughters, he thought about them every day. The girls who'd be playing with their dolls and Iolaus with his sunny smile and bubbling laughter. The boy always seemed to be laughing.

He had at least found a few trinkets for the girls and for his wife, nothing much, but the girls would love the necklaces even if they were only beads. His wife would get one too but he had nothing for his son. He had meant to get him a wooden sword to play and practice with but it had been lost in battle. He had found a dagger on the battlefield but giving a three year old a dagger didn't sound like a good idea. He'd keep it another year or two before giving it to him.

No, this campaign had been a failure and his only comfort was that at least he had recovered his medallion. A green stone medallion carved into a snake that he used to carry around his neck. It had been the only thing he had when he was found abandoned by the river. He knew it was his fathers and that he had been a soldier, and he used to think that though his mother had left him his father would never have. The medallion still meant a lot to him and he would have hated to have lost it. The leather thong had been broken and once he re-knotted it there wasn't enough left to go over his head so he had it in his pocket.

Approaching his house he thought he heard the clear voice of his son in the garden, and to listen to him there was an army around. Apparently he too liked to play soldier and he smiled to himself.

He rounded the bushes and was surprised when a small scrap of a boy leapt out right in front of him, having been crouched on a large boulder.

"Halt, identify yourself, you're not getting past me unless you're a friend!" the child cried. His voice was soft and light in spite of the bravado he had shown. His sword was a stick, longer than he was and so heavy he struggled to keep it erect but there was no mistaking it. A smaller stick had been tied on for a crossbar and he held it surprisingly steady. His feet were bare and he wore only a pair of short britches with his chest bare and dirt streaked. Dirt stained his face where a black eye marred his fine features and a few strands of grass nestled in his unruly curls. With the sun soon about to set and him standing there in a spot of the remaining sunshine his hair shone golden with a few glints of red glowing through it. Seeing that it was his father he had challenged he stiffened, worried that he would have angered the man. He bit his lip and Skouros wondered what he would do, he was not in the mood for dealing with his bawling and crying.

He swallowed, and he sure did look worried but he wasn't crying so Skouros decided to play along. "This is your commanding officer soldier," he stated.

"Oh, then you can pass," he beamed before giggling. "I just had to be sure," he explained. Since his father hadn't been mad he decided he could probably tell him. "You see sir, there was a whole crowd of them before, the enemy I mean, they were all over and I had to chase them off. Took me about all day too."

He lisped a little and Skouros winced, but hopefully he would at least grow out of that.

"So who gave you that?" he asked indicating the black eye. If he had been beaten by his sister he couldn't believe the boy would ever grow to be anything.

"Socio was here bothering the girls," he reported, coming to attention as best as he could. As if he was reporting to a superior officer. "So I chased him off."

"Socio, isn't that Luocio's boy?" he frowned. That boy was two years older than Iolaus, nearly six summers, and a bully to boot. Skouros had always thought his father was too lenient on him. He didn't mind boys doing a bit of fighting, but what that boy did went beyond that.

"He is," Iolaus confirmed.

"And you chased him off you say," he found that a little hard to believe.

"He did," his wife confirmed coming to the door. "Socio was bothering the little one, had taken her doll and was going to break it she told me. I was at the market, but Iolaus handled it. He looks after his sisters you know."

"As you should boy," Skouros decided. Maybe the kid would never grow all that tall, but maybe the oracle wasn't wrong in spite of that. The kid had guts, standing up to a bully that much bigger than he was, to help a sister that was older than he was, and not always all that nice to him either. "It's what every good soldier would do."

"Yes sir," he lisped, but threw a salute, the stick he used for sword dropping when he only held it with one hand.

"I guess you deserve a reward then, soldier," he mused. Taking the medallion from his pocket he gazed at it for a moment. He had nearly lost it in the battle and maybe it was time to pass it on, to give the lad something to fight for. He cried too easily for his taste, needed to toughen up but he also needed a reason to do it. What was left of the thong was just about long enough for the boy as he dropped it over his head, and his son gazed up at him with stunned disbelief.

"You mind that now boy, it's easier to get a reward than it is to earn the right to keep it," he cautioned him. "You've done good looking after your family, but don't you go lazy. Many battles have been lost because someone got lazy and comfortable. Do you understand me boy?"

"Yes sir," he nodded, trying to pull himself up just a little taller. "I'll be a good soldier, I promise."

"You just might," he allowed then turned to his mother. "Have you got anything for supper? I haven't hardly had anything on the road here."

"Supper will be ready soon, I'll just call the girls in to help," she nodded. Glancing to her son who seemed to stand a little taller and more proudly than before. She wondered if Skouros even knew the magnitude of the honour he had bestowed on his son when he gave him the medallion. Iolaus always strove so hard to make his father proud. She wished he wouldn't be so eager to fight, but she was glad that his father seemed to see and appreciate what a fine son he had. Maybe it was just because she was a mother, but she had a feeling Iolaus could do so much if he was just given a chance.

The End

No dolls were broken during the writing of this fanfic

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