Slowly Iolaus stood and stretched his aching back muscles. He glanced at the window disappointed it was still dark outside. 'Would the sun never rise?'

Glancing down at Hercules who slept in the middle of the bed, he quietly walked to the window and stared outside. After Vlad's victims had been restored, he had managed to bully the exhausted demi-god upstairs and to bed. The combination of ingesting hemlock and the loss of blood, not to mention the battle against Vlad himself, had drained Hercules of his last reserves of strength. Despite Hercules' protests, he'd fallen asleep almost as soon as Iolaus had shoved him onto the bed.

That had been hours ago.

Iolaus crossed his arms over his chest. 'Surely dawn couldn't be too long away, could it?'

How many times had one of them sat by the bedside of their injured partner waiting for a dawn that seemed to take forever to arrive? 'Usually Hercules watching over me,' Iolaus ruefully admitted. He curled onto the window ledge and leaned his head against the cool glass of the window.

Staring outside, he wondered what would become of the Vlad's people. He knew he should be concerned about them, but all he wanted was to leave this place as quickly as possible. Vlad's mental control, slight as it had been, had uncomfortably reminded him of Dahok's control. 'At least this time, I managed to fight it somewhat,' he mused.

Unknown to Iolaus, Hercules had opened his eyes. Not seeing Iolaus in the chair next to the bed, he'd carefully turned his head and saw his partner sitting on the window ledge. 'What's he doing there? He should be sleeping.' Then it came to him.

One thing Hercules would always be grateful to Michael for was that Iolaus' stay in the Light had managed to soften a great deal of the memory of Dahok's actions when Iolaus had been controlled. Although the hunter remembered parts of it, his time within the Light had managed to diffuse most of the emotional scarring. At least the hunter had suffered few nightmares since his return. Now the demi-god worried that Vlad's mental influence might trigger some painful memories of Dahok.

"Iolaus, what are you doing over there?" Hercules suddenly asked.

Startled, Iolaus jumped to his feet. "Don't do that!" he hissed. "This place is creepy enough without you...startling me like that!" He took a deep breath. "Anyway, you're supposed to be asleep."

"So are you," Hercules pointed out. He studied his friend's pale complexion as he moved closer. "You lost a lot of blood, too, you know."

Iolaus shrugged. "I'm too wound up to sleep," he admitted. "You thirsty?"

"Yeah," Hercules nodded. He sat up as Iolaus poured some water into a mug and handed it to him. "You know, that plan wouldn't have worked if you hadn't picked up on it."

"You had a plan?" Iolaus' blue eyes twinkled.

"Just a small one," Hercules admitted with a grin.

How many times had they jumped into a fight, a battle, or a war with only a few words between them? Each trusting the other knew what needed to be done and would do it. How many times had their eyes met, just as they had in Vlad's Great Hall, with unspoken words passing between them?

It was just one more thread of the skein of trust that had been woven between them throughout their lives.

"Herc, I know why you didn't let me know about the hemlock." Iolaus sat on the side of the bed. "Even though I was fighting Vlad, he could've found out about it from...being inside my mind. And it was the only chance we had."

"Yeah." Hercules' blue eyes clouded as he passed the empty mug back to Iolaus.. "I'm going to miss Vlad," he added. "At least the Vlad we knew. Or thought we knew."

"Me too." Iolaus stifled a yawn as he set the mug on the floor.

Hercules cocked his head to one side. "Iolaus, I'm fine," he insisted. "There's no need for you to sit up with me." He saw the stubborn look on his friend's face. He slid over in the bed and lay down. "Get in bed and go to sleep," he ordered.

Slowly, Iolaus tugged off his boots and lay down. Staring up at the ceiling he wondered how could he tell Hercules it would be long time before he would be able to forget the sight of his friend's blood draining into the ornate chalice. It just wasn't something he wanted to see in his dreams this night of all nights.

Hercules stared up at the ceiling now wide awake. He wondered how he could tell Iolaus it would be a long time before he would be able to forget the sight of his friend's transformation into a vampire...at nearly losing him again...how much it pained him to watch Iolaus' struggle for control. It just wasn't something he wanted to see in his dreams this night of all nights.

"You awake, Herc?" Iolaus whispered.

"Yeah," Hercules whispered back. He thought he heard Iolaus mutter "good" but he wasn't sure.

Silently, they rested and waited for the dawn.