Disclaimer: I own nothing you recognize. Just playing with the characters for a while.
A/N: This goes with my as yet unfinished story Love Story and follows Iolaus and Melina through a rough day in their marriage. Takes place during the episode Pride comes Before a Brawl. I used some of the lines and situations from it. They belong to Ren Pictures and the writers. I always liked that episode, but thought Iolaus should have known the girl he rescued a bit better than just some random damsel in distress. Please Read and Review! Enjoy!
Melina stood at the bridge, watching Iolaus and Hercules decide if they wanted to fight the goons running a toll or just cross further down river. She didn't really care one way or another. After fifteen years of marriage to Iolaus and lifetime with Hercules, she was tired of all the fighting. Sure, she had done plenty of it in her youth, often drawing her sword and standing by Iolaus' side as they faced whatever was terrorizing their town, but there came a time to grow up. She'd always preferred her medicine bag to her weapons but neither Herc or Iolaus had been content with anything else. Since the death or Daineira and their children, Hercules had taken the road again, killing anything related to Hera or the other gods and had taken Iolaus with him. She didn't begrudge him Iolaus or Iolaus the adventures he was having. She didn't even mind that the babies that had originally stopped her adventuring still needed her at home, to say nothing of the people who depended on her healing and midwife skills.
No, what was bothering her was that in the few months that he'd been gone, she'd realized that she didn't really need Iolaus around. She could protect herself as well as he could. Often times now, she rode out to make her calls on her own, where he'd once gone with her, except when he was away at war. Their son, Aelaus could hunt better than either man next to her at the moment and he could run the forge too. Their girl, Io, possessed Alchemene's skills in the home that had always seemed to jump over Melina herself and Solan, their youngest was her joy, smart as a whip, sweet, strong, always with a toy sword hanging from his belt, determined to be a warrior like Daddy.
Despite all she'd realized about herself, she still missed him like Tartarus. Then the missing had turned to anger and then resentment. She resented him for making her feel that way and she resented him for being gone. Finally the resentment had grown until she could hardly feel anything else towards him. In the few days since he'd been home, she had barely tolerate the sight of him. Nothing he did or said soothed her. It was as if he couldn't do anything right and she'd even turned away from his advances in bed. Something that had never happened in their fifteen years of marriage. She'd only come on this trip to the festival in Thrace because she thought it might help to get away from things. However, since he was only going to get into another stupid fight, it wasn't.
She sighed and leaned against a boulder to watch.
Hercules voted that they cross further down, but Iolaus was all set to charge right though the middle of them. It finally looked like Iolaus was going to back down from the challenge and cross up river, when one of the men noticed Mellie in the background.
"Hey, you. Woman!" He yelled. "You can pass over. I'll just take the toll out of that sweet ass." He kissed in the air and rubbed his crotch suggestively. "Tarturus. You look good enough that I just might pay you."
Melina rolled her eyes. "Now, we fight," she muttered. She'd grown used to such comments years ago. One had to in her line of work. Riding into army camps to treat the wounded wasn't the smartest action for a woman to undertake, and then there were the men who wanted to intimidate her into keeping her mouth shut about the secrets she heard as a midwife. She knew the best course of action was just to ignore it. Iolaus, however, had yet to learn that. She really didn't want to deal with a fight today, but she could tell that the comment had even caught Hercules' attention since he was now headed back towards the bridge.
She watch Iolaus sight his bow and fire. She wasn't sure what he intended to do with it, but she was pretty sure that it wasn't to shoot an arrow into the frame over the drawbridge. She wasn't surprised that he missed. If he'd been paying any attention that morning, he would have noticed that it wasn't his bow. He'd picked up Aelus' by accident. Well, it wasn't really by accident, more like no choice, Aelus had taken to the woods that morning with Iolaus' bow and quiver before daylight. She didn't know what the difference was, except that they belong to his father, but the instant Iolaus set his weapons down, Aelus was out the door with them, despite having his own bow, sword, and daggers.
She sunk down to the ground to watch the ensuing brawl. She should have probably helped, but she hadn't fought in years.
"Well, someone certainly has her bitch clothes on today."
Melina looked to her left to see Aphrodite appear out of thin air.
"Good morning to you too, 'Dite," she said.
"I serious, Mellie, you are being a real harpy to poor Sweetcheeks. What happened to all this missing him I've been hearing about for the last three months?"
Mellie shrugged. Aphrodite wouldn't understand. Men fell at her feet and killed themselves rather than leave her side.
"You know he's fighting to defend your honor right now. I mean that jerk practically called you a prostitute. Do you know how many women wish that their husbands still cared enough to get in a fight for them? Especially after fifteen years?" Aphrodite asked.
"Most women haven't spent the last twenty years watching those two idiots fight with anything that moves," Mellie replied. "A sword isn't always the answer."
"Maybe not," Aphrodite replied. "But whatever your problem is, you'd better get over it quick. Or you just might loose Sweetcheeks for good." She leaned over and kissed Mellie on the cheek lightly before disappearing with a giggle. "Remember why you ever fell in love with him in the first place," her voice carried back.
Seeing one of the goons drawing his arrow towards Iolaus, Mellie lept to her feet and grabbed the bow and quiver he had hastily discarded. She quickly sighted the bow and fired, sending an arrow in the goon's leg and causing him to fall into the river.
Iolaus looked at her for a second before grinning that characteristic smile of his at her. Despite herself, she smiled back before pulling another arrow from the quiver and turning back to the fight.
They manage to get over the bridge by seconds.
"Iolaus, behind you," Hercules yelled, causing Iolaus to spin around to attack nothing.
Hercules fell back against the bridge laughing while Iolaus stomped off.
"It was joke," Hercules called after him.
"Not funny," Mellie said before hurrying after her husband.
An hour later they came to a fork in road. Any camaraderie they'd found on the bridge had long since dissipated, leaving Iolaus and Mellie both in foul moods and Hercules just trying not to cause anymore wars between the two.
The sign pointed toward the river path, but Iolaus stubbornly went toward the forest path.
"Where are you going?" Hercules asked. "Thrace is this way."
"No, its not," Iolaus argued. "It's this way."
"The sign says this way," Hercules insisted, gesturing towards the river path.
"The sign is wrong," Iolaus shot back. "I can't believe you can't spot a trap like this."
"Are you seriously arguing with a sign?" Melina snapped.
"This is the way to Thrace," Iolaus insisted turning towards her.
"Fine," Hercules said, seeing a need to defuse the tension. "You go your way, I'll go my way and I'll see you in Thrace. We'll see who is right."
"Good, I'll be there waiting on you," Iolaus said.
"Its a bet," Hercules replied.
"100 dinars to whoever reaches Thrace first."
Mellie rolled her eyes. They didn't have 100 dinars. They had maybe thirty between the two of them. Fighting evil didn't pay very well and most of her patients paid her in livestock and vegetables. Dinars were hard to come by in their village. But then again, neither did Hercules.
Both men stomped off in different directions leaving Mellie standing by the sign wondering who to follow. She really thought Hercules was right. That path looked more traveled. And, you know, the sign pointed to it and all, but Aphrodite's warning floated through her head. She swallowed her pride and followed Iolaus into the forest.
"Hey, Mellie," Hercules called.
She looked up at him.
"Be careful, okay?"
She smiled. "Always, Brother. We'll be fine."
"I know," he replied. "Fine, but wrong." He jogged off in the other direction.
Sometime later, she was regretting the decision to follow Iolaus as all he'd done was mutter about Hercules always thinking he was right, everyone thinking Iolaus was his stupid little brother, blah, blah, blah.
"I can take care of you and myself just fine," he said just as a limb he stepped on snapped sending him tumbling down a ravine.
Mellie sighed and gingerly picked her way down the hill. "Yes, you're certainly doing a bang up job of it," she said as he got up. "Are you hurt?" She reached for her medicine bag.
"I'm fine," he snapped. "Right way or not, we're going to be Thrace first." He grabbed her hand and took off running through the woods.
"Just what we need. Another fork in the road," Melina said.
"Look, a traveler's coin," Iolaus said, bending to pick up the gold disc. "Someone must have dropped it. Let's go this way," he pointed down one path.
"Unless you can't spot a trap," she said.
"Just hush," he replied.
Melina looked offended. "I know you did not just tell me to hush like I'm one of the kids."
"Well, you are acting like one," he said.
She didn't reply but pushed past him to head down the other path. She took maybe three steps and was swept up in net. "Great."
Before Iolaus could free her, he was surround by Satyrs.
"Any of you guys know the way to Thrace?" He joked. Mellie screamed as she saw one come up from behind and hit him over the head.
The Satrys then carried them back to their camp, throwing them in a hole. As soon as Mellie could get out of the net, she rushed to Iolaus' side. He had a large knot on his head, but seemed fine otherwise, except he was still out.
Maybe this was what Aphrodite had meant. It was Mellie's temper that had gotten them into this mess. She sat down and put his head in her lap. She leaned over and kissed his lips, cursing the Satyr that had taken her medicine bag. "Wake up, Sweetheart," she whispered. "I need you."