A DEMIGOD'S BEST FRIEND





“You should have seen it. A pig. It was...” Sigh. “Priceless.” Strife gleefully snickered.

“I’m certain it was.” Pan’s attention was only half on what Strife was telling him. He was much more interested in the attractive redhead bathing at the edge of the nearby pond. As a mortal, she couldn’t see the two gods and thought herself alone.

Strife’s dark eyes speculatively narrowed. “Of course, now Discord is bragging all over Olympus that she has an affinity for wildlife.”

“Good for Discord,” Pan half-nodded. “What else is new?”

“Well...” Strife hesitated. He saw Pan’s green eyes flicker in his direction. “Oh, nothing else...I suppose.”

“Something I should know about?” Pan asked his ears pricking in Strife’s direction. As a minor god, he was more sensitive than others about his position in the divine hierarchy.

“Oh...she’s just insinuating she could probably do your job as well as hers,” Strife quickly answered. “But no one’s taking her seriously...really.” His eyes widened as he stared over Pan’s shoulder at the redhead.

Despite himself, Pan looked at the woman. He unconsciously licked his lips as he watched her dribble water over her arms then sink into the cool water.

“I mean...just because you haven’t turned anyone into an animal lately...” Strife allowed his voice to trail off.

Pan casually scowled. “I only do that when mortals harm one of my animals...or interfere with my...pleasure.” His green eyes focused on the redhead who had begun to wash her long wavy hair.

“Of course. Of course. You see...I understand that,” Strife assured him. “But you know how Discord is. How she can twist...”

“Discord is a scheming, lying, manipulative little...” Pan interrupted.

“I agree. I agree.” Strife quickly nodded. “But she gets attention.”

Pan tore his eyes away from the woman. “What’s in this for you?”

Strife put his hands on his chest. “Me?” he innocently asked. He smiled when Pan rolled his eyes. “I admit I have a reason to get even with Discord. And spiking her ambitions will do it for me.”

“And all I have to do is turn some mortal into an animal?” Pan asked in disbelief. “To prove I still can do it?”

“Just to let the other gods know you’re still around,” Strife quickly assured him. “You know how they are. Out of sight; out of mind!”

Both gods turned their heads towards the pond when they heard the redhead softly moan as she submerged herself completely in the water.

“Look. Let me do it,” Strife urged. “It’ll make my revenge on Discord so much sweeter.” He saw Pan’s green eyes narrow into slits as the redhead slowly emerged from the pond...droplets of water running down her body. “And you won’t be...distracted. Oh..my...” He watched as the young woman slowly began drying her body.

“Here.” Pan quickly conjured a blowpipe and two darts. “This one changes a mortal into an animal. This one is the antidote. Make sure the Olympian Council knows it’s done by my authority and with my power. And don’t leave the mortal as an animal too long. It could become permanent. Any questions?”

Strife’s eyes widened as Pan’s words tumbled out end over end. “No. Perfectly clear. Thanks for letting me...”

“Whatever. Now go away.” Pan began moving towards the pond.

Strife turned away as he broke into a wide smile. “Antidote? I don’t need no stinking antidote.” With a wave of his hand, the dart disintegrated. “But you...my beauty...” He stifled a laugh as he disappeared.

----------------------------

Iolaus softly whistled as he jauntily strode down the path towards the Delphi Crossroads. It was a beautiful day. He still had the memory of a wonderful night with a beautiful lady. And there were no monsters about. ‘Wonder if I can convince Herc to take a short fishing trip. I could use the rest.’ He giggled.

Lodged in the branches of a nearby tree, Strife snickered.

Iolaus stopped whistling as something in the breeze felt out of place. His eyes narrowing, he carefully glanced to either side. He casually let his hand rest on the hilt of his sword.

Strife took a deep breath...and disappeared.

The hunter came to a sudden stop as a figure materialized almost immediately in front of him. He half-drew his sword even as he struggled to identify the form. “Pan?” he finally blurted.

The figure moved quickly bringing the blowpipe to his lips and blew.

Iolaus hissed as the dart struck him in the neck. He instinctively reached up to pull it out. He staggered back as the world around him began spinning. Gasping for air, the hunter fell to his knees then onto his back. The last thing he saw was Pan bending over him...almost cackling with glee.

Once Iolaus’ eyes had closed, the figure changed back into Strife. The godling reached out and viciously pulled the dart from Iolaus’ neck. He watched in avid anticipation as the hunter’s body blurred...then changed...

Strife pouted when the change was completed. “Oh well. It’ll have to do.” He disintegrated the dart and pocketed the blowpipe. “Ta-ta, Iolaus.”

------------------------

‘Gods, my head hurts...what happened to me?’ Iolaus slowly opened his eyes. He impatiently waited until the dizziness passed. He tried to get to his feet but found...something wrong. His body didn’t respond the way it should. Looking down at this hands, he tried to raise himself to his knees and saw...’paws? PAWS!?! What in the name of Tartarus???’

Fighting down the panic, Iolaus looked at the rest of his body. ‘I’m a dog? A dog! A yellow dog?! What kind of a dog is yellow?’ He took a deep breath. ‘Okay. It’s more golden than yellow...but c’mon! What did I do to get Pan mad at me?’

Iolaus looked around and saw his clothing lying on the ground...where he’d fallen. To his relief, he saw his amulet lying nearby. ‘Okay. Calm down. Go get Herc. Tell him what...TELL HIM?! How am I gonna tell him ANYTHING?!’ He heard a whine and shivered as he realized he was the one doing the whining. ‘Okay. First things first. One thing at a time, Iolaus. One thing at a time.’

Awkwardly, Iolaus managed to nose his clothing into a clump and nosed it into the nearby underbrush. Then he dragged his boots to join his clothing finally covering them with a thin layer of dirt. Panting slightly, he trotted back and took the cord of his amulet between his teeth. ‘Being a dog is hard work. I gotta remember that.’

Resolutely, the small golden dog began trotting down the path towards the Delphi Crossroads.

---------------------------

Hercules casually threw more twigs into the fire. He’d hoped Iolaus would have met up with him by now. Then he grinned. Knowing his partner, he might have to go all the way into the village of Ailneas...especially if the hunter had found a pretty...

The demigod’s blue eyes narrowed as he heard something in the darkness. He carefully rose to his feet then smiled as a small dog made its way into the light. “Hi there, boy,” Hercules gently spoke dropping to his knees.

The dog dropped something in the dirt and wearily joined the demigod.

Hercules grinned as the dog put his head on his thigh. He rubbed the dog’s head looking into the darkness. “You out here all by yourself?”

‘Yeah, Herc. By myself. You see anybody with me? Awww...he can’t hear me. Gods, I’m exhausted...and hungry! Wonder if Herc left anything to eat?’

Hercules noticed the dog glancing at the fire. “You hungry, boy? Huh? C’mon. I think I’ve got something...” He broke into laughter as the dog eagerly moved towards the fire then looked over his shoulder at the demigod his tail wagging in excitement. “I guess you are hungry, hmmm?”

‘You don’t know the half of it, Herc.’

Hercules unwrapped a half-eaten fish he’d wrapped in leaves. He carefully tore it to pieces careful to remove the small bones. He couldn’t help but chuckle as the dog seemed to bounce on its legs in anticipation. “Easy. Don’t eat so fast,” he cautioned as the dog began gulping the fish. He rummaged in his carrysack and found a small bowl. Uncorking the waterskin, he poured water into the bowl and set it next to the dog.

Hercules sat by the dog absurdly pleased to watch the animal eat and drink. “So where did you come from?” he mused.

The dog looked up at the sound of his voice then shook himself...almost irritably. Then the dog trotted to the edge of the campsite and picked something up in his teeth.

Hercules frowned as he watched the animal. He sat motionless as the dog brought the object to him and dropped it into the dirt before him.

Slowly Hercules reached out and took Iolaus’ amulet in his fingers. He instinctively looked into the darkness as though expecting his partner to be standing there grinning at him. Then he examined the amulet closer. He breathed a sigh of relief when he found no bloodstains. “Wish you could talk, boy.”

‘So do I, Herc. I’d tell you not to call me boy. Can’t you be a little more original?’

Coming to a quick decision, Hercules tucked the amulet into his belt pouch. Getting to his feet, he began packing his carrysack. “I just hope Iolaus stuck to the main roads,” he muttered.

‘Herc? Herc! C’mon! Pay attention to me! Hey, wait. I can get his attention real easy.’

Hercules looked over his shoulder as the small dog began nipping at his boot. “What is it, boy?” Again, he looked into the shadows surrounding the campsite. “Iolaus! If you’re playing a joke...it’s not funny!”

The demigod’s eyes widened when the dog gave a sharp bark then almost shook in frustration. Despite himself, he smiled. The dog reminded him of Iolaus when his partner was frustrated to the point of screaming. He could almost see the frustration in the little dog’s blue eyes...'blue eyes?'

Hercules slowly sat down and opened his arms silently encouraging the dog to come closer. When the small animal climbed up onto his lap and stared trustingly at the demigod, Hercules slowly swallowed. “Iolaus?”

‘YESSSS!’ The little dog barked once and began wagging his tail in enthusiasm. ‘It’s about time!’

“Iolaus...what happened?” Hercules stammered.

‘I got turned into a dog! What do you think happened?!?’

Hercules tried not to laugh. “Gods, Iolaus. It IS you. Only you could give me that look...even now.” He quickly examined the small animal. “You don’t seem to be hurt. Are you hurt?”

‘Naahhh. I’m fine. Well, as fine as I can be. But I’m still hungry. Got anything else to eat around here?’ Iolaus jumped down from Hercules’ lap and began nosing in the carrysack.

“Still hungry, I bet,” Hercules chuckled. He grabbed the carrysack before Iolaus bit a hole in it. “Settle down.”

‘Settle down? SETTLE DOWN?!’ Iolaus backed off a few steps and glared at the demigod.

“I’m sorry, Iolaus,” Hercules quickly apologized. “I really am. This is just...sorta weird.”

‘Yeah...I know. It’s okay.’ Iolaus saw his partner still staring at him in concern. Instinct kicked in, and he found himself licking the demigod’s fingers.

Hercules was startled for a moment then grinned. He scratched behind Iolaus’ ear then began rummaging through the carrysack for some fruit.

‘Huh...that felt nice. Guess that’s why dogs like it...I’m not sure I should like it though. But it’s nice. I guess that’s how we’ll communicate. He apologizes...I lick his fingers to let him know it’s okay...he scratches behind my ear so I know he understands. Okay. I can handle that...BAKLAVA! He’s got baklava!’ Wiggling with delight, Iolaus began eating the treat even as Hercules held it out to him.

Hercules chuckled. “Well, I was saving it as a surprise for you anyway,” he admitted. He reached over and dragged the cup of water next to him. He patiently waited until Iolaus had finished the treat and drank two cups of water. “Feel better?”

Iolaus looked up at him and barked.

“Okay.” Hercules settled back against a nearby tree. “What happened to you was because of one of the gods. Right? I’ll take the tail wagging as a yes.” He grinned despite himself. “Not Hera or Ares. This is too...non-lethal. Artemis?”

Iolaus lay his head resting on his front paws as Hercules named various gods and goddesses. He whined as the demigod named more and more of them without naming Pan. Instinctively, Hercules reached out and began scratching Iolaus behind the ears. Iolaus wiggled closer resting his head on the demigod’s thighs.

Hercules was startled when he mentioned Pan’s name and Iolaus jumped to his feet barking. “Pan? Pan did this? Are you sure?”

‘Let’s see...guy turns me into a dog and you wonder IF I’M SURE???’

Hercules tried not to laugh at the expression on Iolaus’ face. “Okay. You’re sure.” He casually stroked Iolaus’ back. “Umm...Iolaus...did you do something to Pan to upset him?” He immediately raised his hands and ducked his head at the growling. “Just asking. Just asking.”

‘Yeah...right...thanks a lot, buddy.’ With what he hoped was an air of wounded dignity, Iolaus walked towards the fire and stretched out next to it.

“Iolaus...c’mon, buddy,” Hercules sighed. “I was teasing.” He got up and joined his friend by the fire. “I’m sorry. It’s no fun teasing you when you can’t tease back. I won’t do it again. I promise.”

Iolaus turned to look up at his partner. ‘Well...okay. Just watch it.' He leaned forward and licked the demigod’s fingers.

Hercules chuckled and scratched Iolaus behind the ears. He saw the tail began to wag. “Okay, buddy. There’s a shrine to Pan about two days’ from here.”

‘Two days! Awww...Hades’ Halls, Herc. Can’t you just call him or something?’

Hercules could almost see the pleading in the animal’s eyes. “We might make it in a little over a day except...I’d have to run...and probably carry you part of the way.” He really hoped the dog couldn’t sense the repressed amusement he was fighting.

‘Oh, I don’t think so, Herc. If I can keep up with you on two legs...I can do it on four paws!’

“We’ll see how it goes, okay?” Hercules urged. He stretched out next to his partner. “We’ll get an early start.” He sighed. “I’m really looking forward to asking Pan why he did this.”

‘Hey, I wanna know why he had to make me such a little dog. He could’ve made me bigger, you know.’

Hercules turned on his side and instinctively began rubbing Iolaus’ back. “We’ll get you back, Iolaus,” he sleepily murmured. “I promise.”

‘I know, Herc. I know.’

-----------------------------

Hercules spotted the well at the edge of the small town. Thankfully, he stopped by the structure and looked down. "Good, there's enough to share," he murmured. He lowered the bucket. "I'll just refill the waterskin, and we'll be on our way."

Iolaus sat next to the well and tried not to pant. He was determined to keep up with his partner no matter what. Suddenly, he swung his head to one side.

'hissssssss'

'Don't push it, cat. I'm NOT in the mood.'

The black cat licked its lips. Insolently, the feline flicked its tail in Iolaus' direction.

'That's it. You're mine!'

Startled, Hercules nearly dropped the full water bucket when he heard Iolaus growl and a cat hiss. "Iolaus! Get back here!"

---------------------------------

"I don't believe you did that!" Hercules grumbled as they walked down the trail. "You chased a cat, Iolaus! A CAT! Through the whole village!"

'He mocked me, Herc. He had it comin'.'

---------------------------------

By the time they made camp the next night, Hercules was convinced Iolaus the dog was just as stubborn as Iolaus the hunter. They’d traveled long and fast that day. As the afternoon wore on, Hercules had gradually slowed down to accommodate Iolaus’ flagging strength. When he’d tried to carry his partner, the little dog had nipped at his fingers and growled.

Hercules quickly made camp starting a small fire. Using the last of his provisions, he put a makeshift stew on the fire to warm. “It’s not much, but once we get this settled with Pan tomorrow, we’ll do some fishing,” he promised.

Iolaus, stretched out next to the fire, merely raised his head then lowered it.

“Come on, Iolaus,” Hercules half-smiled. “Let’s get some water."

Wearily, the little dog followed. As they got closer to the water, he passed the demigod and stood at the edge of the small creek lapping at the water.

“Not too fast,” Hercules warned. He was rewarded by Iolaus looking over his shoulder at him almost in resigned annoyance. Smiling to himself, the demigod sat on the creekbank and refilled the waterskin. Then he gently dribbled the water over Iolaus’ back.

The small dog jerked and looked at him in confusion.

“Easy,” Hercules soothed. “You’re really hot, Iolaus. And I don’t know if that’s good for you. So let me just take care of you, okay?”

‘Well...okay. But only because I’m hot, and I don’t want to jump in the creek. Understand?’

Hercules openly smiled as Iolaus settled down and let him gently pour the cool water over him. If Iolaus had been a cat, the demigod’s ministrations would have had him purring. As it was, he was giving off low growls of contentment.

“There you go,” Hercules murmured as he finished. “Feel better?”

‘Yeah. Except that I don’t like being wet. Just how am I supposed to get dry, Herc? Oh yeah...that’s how.’

Hercules smiled as the small dog gently licked his fingers. “You’re welcome, buddy.” He turned to refill the waterskin...only to be drenched as Iolaus began violently shaking the water from his body. He bit back a retort when the little dog regally glared at him then pranced back to the campsite. “Oh, I’m gonna remember that one,” the demigod muttered.

When Hercules returned to the campsite, he found Iolaus stretched out by the fire watching his approach with wide guileless eyes.

“See if you get your ears scratched tonight,” Hercules muttered. His eyes narrowed when Iolaus sneezed...then looked up at him with his eyes even wider and more innocent than ever.

--------------------------

Hercules’ eyes opened suddenly. He felt Iolaus’ nose nudging his neck and hear the soft growl from his partner. He was on his feet before his mind comprehended the intruders in their camp.

Sparks flashed in the darkness as a sword made contact with the metal of his gauntlet. Hercules grabbed his attacker and flipped him over his shoulder. The man shrieked as he landed in the nearby creek.

“OW!! MANGY LITTLE MUTT! BITE ME, WILL YOU?”

Hercules spun around to see the second intruder hopping on one foot. Iolaus had his teeth fastened in the man’s calf muscle. The man swiped at Iolaus with his sword. The little dog yelped and released the man. Angry, the intruder’s boot found Iolaus’ ribs; and he sent the dog flying through the air to crash into a nearby tree.

Suddenly, the intruder found himself lifted off the ground...his throat squeezed almost shut.

“That’s my partner you kicked,” Hercules hissed. “And he’s not a mangy mutt.”

The man’s eyes widened as the demigod threw him in the air towards the creek. A satisfying splash occurred seconds later. Hercules turned towards the creek only to see both men swimming for the opposite shore. He watched for a few seconds to be sure they weren’t coming back. Then he turned and ran towards his partner.

'Owwww...that hurts more now that it does when I’m human. I really really REALLY don’t like this.’

“Iolaus?” Hercules knelt by his partner. “Don’t move. Okay?”

'Mmmm...yeah...okay. I can just lay here. I can do that real good, Herc.’

Hercules gently ran his hands along Iolaus’ rubs. He winced when the little dog whined. “I know...I know,” he soothingly crooned. “It’ll be okay.” After a few moments, he relaxed. “Nothing’s broken, Iolaus. Probably just bruised.”

‘Well, it still hurts...hurts a lot, you know.’

Carefully, Hercules picked up the little dog and carried him back to the campfire. “I know it hurts, Iolaus,” he murmured. “Just lay there for a minute.”

Iolaus watched as the demigod brought out a blanket from his carrysack. He carefully folded it and laid it next to the campfire. ‘Blanket? Since when did you start carrying a blanket? Especially a pretty green one?’

Hercules could almost hear the question. “I got it for Mother for her birthday next month. But I don’t think she’ll mind.” He gently picked up his partner and laid him on the soft blanket. He grinned as he heard the little animal sigh. “I figured that would feel better.”

Iolaus watched as the demigod stretched out next to him. He leaned over and gently licked Hercules’ face.

The demigod smiled and scratched behind Iolaus’ ears. “You’re welcome, buddy.”

Iolaus yawned and relaxed. ‘Knew I’d get my ears scratched...’

--------------------------------

Hercules’ blue eyes narrowed as they approached Pan’s shrine. Like all the woodland shrines to Pan, it was located in a secluded glen. Although there was plenty of wildlife, none of the animals approached them. In fact, the closer they were to Pan’s shrine, the farther away the animals shrank.

Hercules suddenly knelt. “Iolaus. Come here, please,” he quietly spoke.

Iolaus, in the lead, turned and curiously stared back at the demigod. Then he trustingly trotted back to him.

Mindful of his partner’s bruised ribs, Hercules gently scooped the small dog into his arms and stood. He absently scratched behind Iolaus’ ears.

‘Awww...not now, Herc.’

“Pan! Pan! Can you hear me?” Hercules shouted.

From the confines of his partner’s arms, Iolaus looked around. All he could see was a fox that curiously stared up at them. Then he yelped as Pan slowly materialized from the form of the fox.

“Hercules!” Pan cheerfully greeted. “What brings you to my humble shrine?” He eyed the small dog in Hercules’ arms. “Cute dog. What’s his name?”

‘Cute? CUTE?!! Put me down, Herc! I’ll show him CUTE!’

Hercules ignored his partner’s insistent wiggling and growling. “His name is Iolaus.”

Pan’s green eyes crinkled in amusement. “You named your dog after your partner?”

“He IS my partner!” Hercules snapped.

Pan frowned then stared at Iolaus for several seconds. “So he is,” he mused. “How did that happen?”

“What do you...Pan, you did it to him!” Hercules spluttered.

“No, I didn’t!” Pan laughed.

‘Oh, yes, he did! I know who shot a dart into my neck! Let me at ‘im, Herc! LEMME GO!’

“Iolaus, stop!” Hercules admonished.

“Hercules, why would I do that to your partner?” Pan reasonably asked. “I’ve never met your partner before! And I certainly don’t have anything against you!”

“Then it was someone pretending to be you,” Hercules carefully reasoned.

Pan’s eyes narrowed. “Strife,” he hissed.

“What’s Strife got to do with this?” Hercules demanded.

Pan slowly flushed. “Well, Discord was talking some trash about me and Strife was going to put a stop to it,” he admitted. “I gave him a blowpipe and some darts.”

“You WHAT?!” Hercules yelled.

“I gave him a dart with the antidote and told him to use it!” Pan defended himself. He uneasily eyed the growling little dog.

“You trusted Strife?” Hercules demanded. “What were you thinking?”

“Well, there was this redhead...” Pan began.

‘REDHEAD???’ Iolaus’ head swiveled to stare up at Pan. His ears pricked up in anticipation.

Pan knowingly grinned at Iolaus.

Hercules sighed. “Can you two talk about that later?” he asked. “Right now, I’d like to get Iolaus back to normal.”

Pan shrugged. “Not a problem,” he assured him. “Then I’ll take care of Strife.” He grinned at Hercules’ expression. “Don’t worry. I think he’ll enjoy being a nice, juicy, succulent...rabbit...in the mountains...where the wolves are.” Then his green eyes narrowed. “Or maybe I’ll turn him into a bitch in heat. I understand King Lycenites is wanting to breed his mastiffs.”

Hercules winced then glared at his partner. If he didn’t know better, he’d swear he just heard a dog snicker. He carefully lowered his partner to the ground. He patted Iolaus’ head smiling as the little dog gently licked his fingers. With a sigh, he stepped back and glanced at Pan. “This isn’t going to hurt him, is it?”

Pan rolled his eyes. “Be tough, Hercules,” he snorted.

“Pan, he got kicked last night,” Hercules started to explain.

“You WHAT?” Pan demanded.

“I didn’t do it!” Hercules angrily defended himself. “Our campsite was attacked. One of the intruders kicked him into a tree. Bruised his ribs.”

“What’s the world coming to?” Pan grumbled. “People going around...kicking little dogs.”

Hercules quickly reached out and grabbed his partner.

‘Little??? LITTLE???!!! It’s YOUR fault I’m a little dog! Lemme at ‘im, Herc! LEMME AT ‘IM!’

“Iolaus! Calm down!” Hercules ordered.

Pan watched with a grin. “Feisty little thing, isn’t he?” He laughed when Iolaus tried to lunge our of the demigod’s arms to bite him.

“Pan,” Hercules sighed restraining his partner.

“Okay, okay.” Pan snickered. “I won’t call him little. Happy?”

“Just...turn him back,” Hercules wearily requested. He knelt and put Iolaus back on the ground. “Don’t bark. Don’t bite. Just stand there and let Pan finish this.” He stared into the little dog’s blue eyes. “Okay?”

‘Well...okay, Herc. Only ‘cause you asked nicely...and ‘cause he’s gonna fix this. But if he doesn’t...his ankle’s MINE.’

“Thank you,” Hercules murmured quickly stepping back.

Pan closed his eyes to concentrate. He raised his hand and a soft green glow surrounded Iolaus.

Hercules winced as Iolaus whined in confusion. He uneasily glanced at Pan who was wearing a slight grin.

“Be tough, Hercules,” Pan quietly joked.

Hercules bit back a retort as the glow suddenly became frighteningly bright. He looked away until he felt the glow fade. As soon as he could, he looked back at Iolaus. He heaved a sigh of relief as he saw his partner lying curled up on the ground.

“Now...to find Strife,” Pan grinned as he disappeared.

Iolaus groaned and raised his head. He dizzily looked around.

Hercules sighed. “Pan!” he called. “Clothes?”

Iolaus dazedly looked down to find himself...naked. “Yeah,” he croaked. “Clothes?”

“Sorry. Forgot.” Pan’s voice eerily floated around them. A soft green glow surrounded Ioluas once again.

Hercules held his breath until the glow faded and he saw Iolaus wearing his familiar clothing. “Thanks, Pan.” He knelt next to the hunter. “You okay, Iolaus?”

“I think,” Iolaus grumbled. He slowly sat up and ran a hand through his hair. “My throat hurts, my ribs ache, and I’m starving!”

Hercules chuckled. “That sounds about right,” he admitted. He stood and held out his hand. “C’mon. Let’s get out of here.”

Iolaus grabbed his partner’s arm and slowly stood up. He took a deep breath then nodded at his partner. “I’m okay.”

“Good,” Hercules grinned. “Because I much prefer my partner in this form.”

“I did okay as a dog!” Iolaus grinned then looked around. “Hey, Pan! I vote for taking Strife to King Lycenites’s kennels!”

They heard Pan chuckling. “You’ve got it, Iolaus.”



((No small little golden dogs were harmed in the writing of this story. However, the kennels of King Lycenites now sports a sign that reads ‘If the kennel’s a-rocking, don’t come a-knocking”. Discord is said to have laughed herself silly.))



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