Author's Note: In the show we see Charon as something of a grumpy disgusting thing, but to be honest neither Hercules nor Xena are very kind to him. He also appears to have the same taste in songs as Iolaus, so I was wondering what would happen when Iolaus' son met Charon. The name of his son is as far as I know not known, and I therfore picked what I found suitable.
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… In this case the river Styx will likely remain unafected...
Will You Be My Friend?
Aelus paused as he entered the cave, he had been scared up to that point, very scared. The last thing he remembered was being sick and in his father's arms. There had been a sickness in the village and he had known it was a bad one. One of his friends had died at the very start and his father had tried to comfort him by assuring him that Hades was not a bad God. He had made the Elysian fields so that the children would be happy.
Then several others died, old mostly, and children and he had known that if you got sick you probably would die, so when he first started feeling like he was ill he cried. He had cried and had tried to keep it from his father but he had known. He had never been able to keep anything from his father. He had picked him up, wrapped him in a blanket and then had taken him to the healer.
His father wouldn't leave him after that, not for anything and even though he was sick he felt comforted if just a little miserable. No one could fight like his father, he had seen him fight bad men in the village, he could fight better than anyone, well, except uncle Hercules, maybe.
After all his father was Hercules' best friend, he was Iolaus the hero, and he could do anything, Aelus was sure of that.
He hadn't really been scared until he realized his father was sick too. Then he was scared that maybe his father would die. He didn't think much about dying himself, because if his father died he'd rather be dead too he thought. He didn't remember his mother very much, she had died when his little brother was born. It was an awful long time ago, he remembered his little brother, a little. He had lived almost a year and he had loved him a lot. Mostly he remembered how sad his father had been and how he had wished then that he could do something, just anything to make the sadness go away.
It had been strange with them trying to comfort each other and he had been worried he wasn't really helping his father at all. For a long time it seemed like his father was always tired and always sad, though never really so that Aelus saw it. It was just when he came into the forge or the house really quiet like that he could see his father with tears on his cheeks.
He had asked his uncle about it, if there was anything he could do. Uncle Hercules knew everything and he always seemed to be able to make his father smile, only not always just then. He had been worried he was the one who made his father sad so he had asked his uncle if he could stay with them so his dad could be happy again.
It was the only time he had seen his uncle weep.
Uncle Hercules had explained it all to him, and he had said that right then nothing in the whole world meant more to his father than he did. Uncle Hercules was good at explaining things like that, and it had helped him to understand.
That night he had waited until his dad was asleep, then he had gone to his bed and crawled in beside him, even if he was really way too big to do that. Uncle Hercules was right though, the closer he stayed to his father the less sad he seemed to be.
That was why he was sad now, because he had had to go and his father had not. He didn't want his father to die, but he didn't want him to be sad either.
He hadn't really been scared when he realized he was dying, that he was dead, because then he still felt his father's arms around him. He had felt the awful heat and he had known that for his father to be that hot he was sick too, very sick. He had wished that his grandmother was there, Alcmene wasn't really his grandmother, but she said she was in every way that counted. She knew what to do when someone was sick and she always seemed to make you better really quick. She had done it with him and he had seen her make his dad better to. Though he always complained about the teas he had to drink.
He had thought for a while that maybe they would both die, but now he was here all alone and he was a little scared. Not very much, after all, he still wanted his dad to be proud of him.
Slowly walking forward he suddenly stopped in surprise. He could hear a man singing and it was a song he had heard his dad sing many times. Uncle Hercules kept telling him it wasn't a good song for him to hear, so his dad never really sang it for him, he just did it at times without realizing it and since Aelus liked hearing it he never told him. Uncle Hercules said it was bawdy, it was about a girl who could drink it all in one go, though he wasn't sure what that meant. That was the bad thing when you weren't supposed to hear something, you couldn't really ask about it.
He listened carefully, wondering if his father had died after all, but it didn't sound quite like him. It was the same song, but not his voice and he was sure he'd know his father's voice, even if they were both dead.
Then as he walked closer he saw a small man, he looked a little scary at first, with a dark hood and his face all white and funny. His hand looked funny too, but he knew about soldiers who were hurt in the wars, they could look funny and scary like that but his dad had told him they were still mostly good men. There were some who weren't good, but they probably had never been good to start with.
"Hi," he stated shyly as he approached him.
"Hmm, what you doing sneaking up on a fellow like that?" the man snorted. ¨
"Sorry," he apologized. "I didn't mean to, but it's a little scary here."
"Hmm, I don't know about that," he shook his head. "I suppose you want to cross? Everyone wants to cross, don't they?" he chuckled and he nodded.
"Yeah, I guess I had better. I kinda think I died," he admitted.
"Oh, you died alright, if you're here you died," he grinned. "What did you do kid? Muck about with something, huh?"
"No, I got sick, dad too, but I don't think he's dead yet," he added hopefully. "I hope not, but if I am I guess I had better cross, if it wouldn't be too much trouble?"
"Do you have the fare?" Charon asked, a little confused by a child who didn't appear to be scared of him.
"Yeah," he held out the coins that had been in his hand. Idly he wondered if it was Uncle Hercules or his grandmother who had seen to it. His dad was so sick he wondered if he had been able to, but then his dad had never cared about how tired he was when Aelus needed something so maybe he had anyway. It made him feel warm inside to think that even now his father was helping him. He shuddered a little though, for as Charon reached to pluck the coins from his small hand he felt how cold his larger hand was.
"Who makes you work here?" he wanted to know. "Dad says Hades is the God of the other side, does he make you work here?"
"Of course he does, who'd you think did it, Aphrodite?" he demanded in mirth.
"I think he's a silly God," Aelus decided. "Can't he give you mittens? Your hands are cold, dad always makes me wear mittens if it's cold, are you much cold?"
"What, mittens, why?" Charon frowned. "What are you talking about kid?"
"I was just worried you were cold," he explained with an open and concerned expression that nearly made the boatman take a step back.
"You're dead, you're not supposed to be worried if I'm cold," Charon told him firmly. "What are you worrying about it anyway? Most kids are only worried I'll eat them or something. That's all they've got to think about Charon, he's ugly so he got to eat kids."
"That's silly," Aelus giggled. "You're not ugly, dad says a hydra is ugly and you look nothing like a hydra."
"And your dad has seen a hydra, huh?" he snorted. "Who is he anyway, Hercules?" he laughed at his own joke as they got into the boat.
"No," Aelus giggled. "That's Uncle Hercules, dad is his best friend, Iolaus. He's a hero," he added proudly.
"Your uncle is Hercules?" Charon was taken aback, he knew Hercules, and he knew Iolaus, it was hard to forget a man who'd crossed only to then un-cross. He wasn't sure what else to call it. Zeus had turned back time because Hercules demanded it, and Iolaus had no longer been dead, or something like that. It had all been so very confusing and annoying, and this was apparently his kid. Well, he wasn't sure if he was surprised. The kid wasn't like any other kid he had met, but then his father was a little unusual to. Rather, very unusual.
"Yeah," Aelus nodded. "But not many believe it," he added with a sad sigh. "They say I tell fibs, but I don't. Dad says it's very important that you never fib."
"Yeah, I guess it is," it was not something the ferryman ever had to think about, but for some reason he didn't want to disappoint the kid. Normally he didn't like children, they wept and wailed the whole time. This one was sad, but had the heart of a brave man, of a hero.
"Well, you're going to a better place now kid," he promised him. "Hades is gonna put you in the Elysian fields for sure, it's a nice place there."
"I guess, it'll be nice to see mom again, and my baby brother, but I hope I get to have some friends too," he decided.
"You'll have friends kid," Charon stated firmly, quick kid like that was bound to make friends.
"Yeah, I think I got one already," Aelus giggled.
"Who?" that took him by surprise.
"You, unless you don't want to be my friend?" he added worriedly.
"You're going to the Elysian fields," Charon snorted. "Why'd you want to be friends with me for?" No one had ever wanted to before. Hades was okay for a boss, but he sure was no friend, and no one he had ever taken across before had wanted to be his friend, some loathed him, some were scared of him and others just wanted to brag about what great warriors they had been. No one was ever friendly. He had long since figured out that he'd spend all his time doing his job and nothing else.
"Why wouldn't I want to be your friend?" Aelus wanted to know. "Hey, I can even teach you the rest of the song you were singing, please?"
"That's not a song for a kid, how'd you know it?" he demanded, pausing on the oar for a moment.
"My dad sings songs like that all the time, when he thinks I don't hear," he smiled triumphantly. "I know it, and I can teach it to you." To prove his point he started singing and Charon had to smile. A bawdy soldiers song sung in the clear ringing voice of an innocent child, now that was something you didn't hear every day.
"Sure kid, I'll be your friend," he grinned. The kid wouldn't remember it, not once he sat foot in the Elysian Fields. Yet it would be nice to imagine even for a moment that he would have someone who came to see him, who liked him.
"Great," the kid shone up. "I'm Aelus."
"Charon," he held out his hand, and was surprised when Aelus grasped his forearm in a warrior's handshake. The kid had spunk, lots of it. Then again, if he was the son of Iolaus he shouldn't be surprised.
By the time they had crossed the kid had told him all about his father, had admitted how scared he was that his father would die too, and bragged about all his adventures. Charon had to his own surprised assured him that he didn't think his father would die. Iolaus was a strong man, it wasn't very likely. He was a hero of the kind that the world needed yet, and the pride in Aelus eyes when he spoke of him had been amazing.
As dark and gloomy as the river was his smile had really lit it up, and before he left he'd shook his hand again and promised to be back and see him soon.
Charon tried not to think too much about that. He had a job to do, and no time to indulge himself in such nonsense as friendship with a kid. No, the kid, Aelus would forget about it as soon as he saw his mother in the Elysian Fields, he'd make friends there and run around playing, and Charon would feel better knowing it.
Time didn't have much meaning to him, all he did was waiting for the customers, then ferry them over and wait for the next time. Then as the old lady got out of the boat he heard the voice of a child and he looked back to the other side of the river, wondering if the next one had arrived already.
"Hi Charon," Aelus came bounding over towards him. "You were right, it's really nice there, I like it."
"What, Aelus?" Charon could only gawk in surprise. He had never expected to see the boy again, and he felt all strange from having been proven wrong. He simply didn't know any words for the warmth that was spreading inside of him.
"Yeah, sorry I took so long, Mommy didn't want to let me go anywhere at first," he giggled. "It's so great to see her, but she doesn't really know she's dead. Hades said it was easier for her that way. I asked him if I couldn't go see you, I think he was a little funny," he admitted with a whisper and a giggle. "He didn't seem to understand what I wanted at first, but then he said I could. And he told me Dad is getting better again."
"Yeah, that's, uh good," he nodded, still not quite having been able to collect himself.
"Yeah," he nodded. "Boy, I wish you could meet my dad, I bet you'd like him."
"I bet I would," it probably wouldn't be the best idea to tell the kid his father had already been dead once.
"You didn't think I'd come huh?" Aelus asked with an understanding unusual for his age.
"Nah," he shook his head. "Bright kid like you, why'd you wanna care about old Charon?"
"Hades said that too, kinda," he pouted. "I thought it was silly. You were so nice, really nice. Come now, I have to go back to Mommy soon. Do you want to play a game? I thought I was gonna bring you a cookie, but Mommy can't cook at all." He giggled again. "She burns everything now too, and it always tastes funny, but I know a new game, it's really funny, do you want to play?"
"Sure, why not?" If someone else came they could just wait for a few minutes, right now he had something more important to do than to wait for dead people. He was going to play a game with the first friend he had ever had…
The river Styx was not affected by this fanfic, but suddenly customers of the ferryman may have to wait before they can cross…
Please Review, the Cricket is hungry….