JOURNEY TO SANCTUARY




Hercules had hoped Alcmene's presence would prove to be a healing balm for Iolaus' ravaged soul. For a few days, it seemed she was. Iolaus was quieter and spent a lot of time with Alcmene. He realized she was worried about him and tried to be his usual jovial self. But soon they saw the shadows begin to crowd his eyes once again.

The hunter began spending more and more time taking long solitary walks. When he returned from these walks, he seemed agitated and upset until Alcmene's own brand of magic brought forth a reluctant smile from him.

Sleeping in the room with Iolaus, Hercules was well aware of his friend's bouts of sleeplessness. After the first night of Hercules staying awake with him, Iolaus tried to hide the bad dreams and depression. The times Hercules tried to engage Iolaus in conversation during those long nights, his friend forced a smile then feigned sleep.

Jason watched it all with knowing eyes and an increasing level of irritation. He knew what Iolaus was going through even as it brought back memories of his own losses...memories he didn't want to recall. He saw the worry in Alcmene's eyes even as she silently admitted she didn't know how to help the man who'd long ago become as dear to her as her own blooded sons. And he saw the fear in Hercules' eyes as he silently watched his best friend slowly eat away at himself...and was powerless to stop it.

After a week, Jason awoke early. He saw Alcmene was frowning in her sleep. 'Worried about Iolaus,' Jason irritably thought as he quietly dressed.

Softly heading downstairs, he began packing food. It had been literally years since the three of them had taken this journey. After the last one, Jason had devoutly hoped they would never repeat it. But he could honestly see no other way around it.

Alcmene joined him as he finished packing the food and travel gear. She looked at him in surprise.

"Hercules, Iolaus, and I are going to...you-know-where," Jason explained. "I think it'll do us all some good."

Alcmene took a deep breath. "I hope you know what you're doing. I remember the last time you three came back from there."

Jason grinned. "I'd forgotten. Hercules did drag all of us back here for you to patch up, didn't he?" He lowered his head and lingeringly kissed her lips. "Better prepare something for us to eat on the way," he suggested. "I don't want to give them time to think up any arguments."

"You're going to get plenty of that," she pointed out.

Jason grunted as he started up the stairs. 'No, this isn't going to be pleasant,' he admitted. Stopping outside the bedroom door, he took a deep breath then opened it. "Hercules! Iolaus! Wake up!" he ordered in a deep voice.

Startled, Hercules' eyes flew open. He knew that voice. That was the voice of the Captain of the Argo...the Prince then King of Corinth. Shaking the sleep from his brain, he sat up. "Jason?" he asked in confusion.

Iolaus had been awake and was already sitting up. He also stared in confusion at Jason.

"We're going to Sanctuary," Jason firmly announced. "Get dressed. We leave in ten minutes."

Hercules' blue eyes widened. 'Sanctuary? Jason swore he'd never go back there.'

"I don't think..." Iolaus began.

"I didn't ask you to think," Jason coldly interrupted. "I need to go to Sanctuary. So we're going." To forestall any arguments, he closed the door with a loud slam.

The two heroes stared at each other in stunned silence. They saw the reluctance in the others' eyes about the journey. They also knew they didn't have a choice. It was one of the rules. If one of them needed to go to Sanctuary, they all went. And none of them ever returned unscathed.

"I guess we better get dressed," Hercules reluctantly admitted.

"I hate this," Iolaus muttered under his breath.

True to his word, ten minutes later Jason was bellowing for them to get downstairs. Alcmene refrained from smiling as both Hercules and Iolaus immediately appeared. Hercules wore a look of resignation while Iolaus looked ready to argue the entire journey.

Jason silently tossed them their travel gear and breakfast. He kissed Alcmene with a quick whispered "don't worry".

"We'll be back soon, Mother," Hercules half-promised with a wary eye on Jason. He, too, leaned down to kiss her cheek.

"Thanks for the food." Iolaus hugged Alcmene even as he glared at Jason. "I guess we'll have to eat it on the way," he grumbled.

"That's right," Jason calmly agreed. "Now let's go."

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

Jason kept up a quick pace not allowing either of his friends much of a chance to voice their disapproval. He know, however, from Hercules' expression when the demigod reached the silent agreement this journey had become necessary. As usual, Iolaus looked ready to fight his way out of what he felt was a bad situation. However, except for grumbling just loud enough to be heard, the hunter kept his peace.

The sun was close to setting when they reached the entrance to the valley. Jason stood there for a moment silently appreciating the beauty of the landscape. Even from this distance, he heard the rushing of the river as it cascaded over rocks creating a wild white water effect. On the other side of the river, a rocky cliff of almost sheer proportions loomed over the valley.

"Sanctuary," Jason breathed.

"Sanctuary," Hercules reluctantly echoed.

"Yeah, Sanctuary," Iolaus grumbled.

Ahead of his friends, Jason had to grin. "Find us a good campsite, Iolaus," he called back as he walked into the valley.

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

Later that evening, they rested around the campfire. No one had really spoken while making camp and eating. Jason knew the others were waiting for him. He had called for the journey to Sanctuary. It was up to him to begin.

"Do you remember the last time we were here?" Jason finally spoke.

Iolaus grunted. "Yeah, I almost drowned," he muttered.

"We told you not to go down those rapids by yourself," Hercules pointed out.

"You two dared me to go down those rapids by myself!" Iolaus retorted.

"We didn't think you'd actually do it," Jason patiently explained.

Despite himself, Iolaus grinned. "Well, you should have known better," he sniffed.

"True," Jason nodded with a smile. He risked a glance at Hercules who had relaxed a little at seeing Iolaus' grin. "I suppose you're wondering why I called for this journey." He saw both pair of blue eyes staring at him and hesitated. He reached out to stir the fire suddenly needing to be doing something while he talked. "You're falling away from us, Iolaus," he quietly began. "I can't let that happen without a fight."

Hercules' eyes widened. The rule was if any of them needed to come to Sanctuary to work out a personal problem, the others would come as well. But Jason's implied statement the journey was for Iolaus' sake violated that rule.

"You dragged me out here..." Iolaus angrily began.

"Because I needed to!" Jason angrily interrupted. "You've been hurt by all that's happened, Iolaus! I'd be the last one to argue with you about that! But has it occurred to you that you're not the only one? That maybe...just maybe, this has all brought back memories I'd rather not recall?" He took a deep breath. "Events I faced without either of my best friends beside me, I might add!"

Instinctively, Hercules exchanged a look with Iolaus.

"No, Jason, we didn't," Hercules answered.

"Let Iolaus answer for himself!" Jason ordered.

"Sorry, Jason!" Iolaus angrily shouted. "I guess I was too wrapped up in the pain of my son's death! How selfish of me!"

Hercules closed his eyes. 'Oh, yeah. Another fun trip to Sanctuary.'

"That's right!" Jason shouted back. "Selfish! We've all tried to help you. But, except for when Hercules dragged you home, you've pushed us away and wrapped yourself up in your own self-pity!"

"You'd know about that, wouldn't you?" Iolaus angrily spat. "You self-pitied yourself right into...how many wine bottles, was it, Jason?"

Hercules fought the urge to interfere. It wasn't easy to sit and watch the two most stubborn people he knew tear each other to pieces. He just hoped they'd call it a night before they turned on him.

"More than enough," Jason grimly admitted. "But at least my friends didn't have to sit up at night worrying about where I was when I left for hours. Worrying if I'd even come back or if they'd find me dead somewhere. But then, of course, my best friends weren't even there, were they?" He saw a sudden flash of guilt in Iolaus' eyes and took a deep breath. Then he twisted the knife. "I got tired of watching Alcmene worry herself to sleep every night about you."

Hercules saw Iolaus flinch. He threw Jason a warning look which his friend ignored.

"I...I...aw, Hades, Jason, that wasn't fair," Iolaus mumbled.

"I know," Jason admitted. "But you haven't been fair, either." He hesitated wondering if this was the right time then decided there couldn't be a worse time. "Be honest, Iolaus. Are you grieving for the death of your son or the death of the illusion that you didn't have a son?" He felt the silence stretch between them and forced himself to meet Iolaus' ice-cold blue eyes. "When all's said and done, you could've gone back at any time, couldn't you? If for nothing else but to see if your son needed anything." Jason fought down the sharp edge of his own sudden grief. "How can you grieve for a child you never had?"

Hercules held his breath waiting for Iolaus to reply. When the hunter didn't, he decided it was time to interfere. "That's enough," he quietly spoke.

Neither Jason nor Iolaus looked at him. They sat staring at each other, their eyes locked in silent combat. Jason broke the connection first by reaching for his bedroll. "I'll camp by the river." His voice was void of any emotion.

For several minutes Iolaus sat staring at the place where Jason had been sitting. "I guess you feel the same way, Hercules," he coldly said.

"Don't go putting words into my mouth," Hercules gently warned. "We've all lost family...lost far more than anyone ever should. And I don't believe any of us will ever get completely over those losses." Glancing towards the river, he saw Jason sitting next to his own campfire. "Let's get some sleep," he suggested. "Tomorrow's not going to be any easier."

"I really hate this place," Iolaus muttered.

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

Iolaus woke well before dawn. He inwardly sighed realizing sleep was eluding him yet again. He quietly got to his feet. Glancing at Hercules who lay sleeping on the other side of the fire, he noticed his friend was frowning. Remembering the words Jason had thrown at him the previous night, he grimaced before turning away.

As he walked through the trees, he wondered just which one of them had come up with this crazy idea of Sanctuary anyway. He clearly remembered when it had happened. It had occurred during the first year he and Hercules had been at Cheiron's Academy. He, Hercules, and Jason had been getting on each others' nerves with a vengeance. They couldn't stand being around each other but couldn't stand to not be around each other.

Cheiron had finally told them to go and not come back until they'd decided to either be friends or leave one another alone. They'd stumbled onto this valley. One of them had called it Sanctuary. They'd almost immediately agreed upon the rules. Anyone could say anything that was bothering them. They'd argue...even fight. They'd stay until whatever was bothering them was dealt with. Most importantly, when they left the valley, the harsh words and blows were also left behind.

They'd all been very young and headstrong then. Iolaus knew the words hurled back then had been designed mostly to hurt. It was the only way they knew at the time to deal with the hurt and pain they'd felt. They'd instinctively known that Sanctuary was a place of last resort...a place to be used only when all else failed. There had been plenty of times they could have come to Sanctuary but chose to deal with their problems in a different way. None of them liked coming to this place.

Iolaus wound up sitting on a rock overlooking the rushing river as the sun rose. He could see Jason still asleep on the riverbank and pondered his friend's decision to bring them here now. He suddenly stiffened as he felt someone behind him. "Good morning, Herc," he quietly spoke.

"Says you," Hercules yawned. "I see Jason's decided to sleep in."

Iolaus shrugged. "It's not that late," he said glancing over his shoulder. "Jason was right about one thing. I never meant to worry Alcmene or any of you with those late night walks."

Hercules shrugged. "Jason worries too much sometimes."

"But you were worried," Iolaus turned on the rock to face his friend.

Hercules sighed. He'd really hoped they could get through breakfast at least before starting in on each other again. "Of course I was worried," he admitted. "Not that you can't take care of yourself," he quickly added seeing his friend begin to frown. "Just that it's not like you to keep all this bottled up inside you."

"I'm just so angry sometimes," Iolaus whispered. "Angry at myself, angry at Penelope for telling me she was getting married, angry at Acteon for getting mixed up with Ares..."

"Angry with me for not keeping your son safe?" Hercules suddenly asked. To his surprise, Iolaus slowly nodded.

"Yeah," the hunter whispered. "I don't wanna be angry about that, but I am."

"You think I didn't try?" Hercules snapped. "Gods, Iolaus, if I could have taken that sword myself, I would have! To keep him safe for you!"

"I know that!" Iolaus jumped off the rock. "You think I believe you just stood around and did nothing?! I know better than that! I know you better than that!" He took a deep breath. "It should have been me."

Hercules grabbed Iolaus by the shoulders and shook him hard. "You think I didn't want it to be me when Hera killed my family? You think I didn't know it should have been me?"

"It should have been me," Iolaus repeated. To his surprise, he dissolved into tears much as he'd done a week before.

And just as he'd done then, Hercules pulled his friend into his arms and held him while he again tried to purge himself of his anger and grief. "Why are you so angry with me?" he murmured.

"Gods, Herc, I know you would have kept him safe if you could," Iolaus sobbed. "I know that! But not at the expense of your life! Don't you understand? When I saw the Horde around Iphicles' banner and you diving into that melee, the first person I worried about was you! I would have chosen your life over his! I worried about you first then Iphicles and then my son! What kind of father does that make me? And it makes me angry with both of us that I care more for you than I did for him!"

Hercules fought back his own tears. "It makes you the kind of father who wasn't a part of his son's life," he finally answered. "And that's a truth you can't deny, Iolaus." He took a steadying breath. "And the truth I can't deny is that I would have done the same. I would have chosen your life over his." He tightened his grip on Iolaus as the hunter tried to pull away. "You and I have been a part of each other's lives since before Acteon was even born. The Gods know we've been more than a part of each other's lives. But if Acteon had lived, I really believe you and he could have forged a better relationship."

"I'm sorry," Iolaus sobbed. "For all of it."

"It's okay. I know you wanted to be a father to Acteon," Hercules soothed. "You helped me get through losing my family, Iolaus. Let me help you through this." He took another deep breath. "Just like we've always helped one another."

Suddenly, Iolaus took a deep breath of his own. "Jason," he murmured. He raised shocked eyes to meet Hercules'. "What he said last night."

'That maybe, just maybe, this has all brought back things I'd rather not remember? Things that I faced without either of my best friends beside me! But then, of course, my best friends weren't even there, were they?'

Hercules glanced over his shoulder. They'd been so engrossed in each other that neither had noticed Jason had gone back to Hercules and Iolaus' campfire and was starting breakfast.

"I can't go back now." Iolaus wiped his eyes. "I gotta get in control."

Hercules nodded. "You okay?" he asked.

"Yeah," Iolaus weakly smiled. "We messed up with Jason, didn't we, Herc?"

"Yeah," Hercules nodded. "And he's a good enough friend to have never mentioned it."

"And wouldn't have if I hadn't..." Iolaus faltered.

"Stop that," Hercules gently ordered. "You needed this. And I think Jason needs it, too."

"And you?" Iolaus gave his friend a sharp look.

"Oh, yeah," Hercules snorted. "I most definitely need to be doing this." He was surprised then pleased to hear Iolaus' giggle.

The hunter turned away. "I'll be back soon," he promised.

Hercules watched as his partner disappeared into the nearby trees. Slowly he walked back to the campfire and sat across from Jason.

"How is he?" Jason asked without looking up.

"Angry," Hercules quietly answered. After a moment of watching Jason, he frowned. "Jason, where did you get the eggs?"

"From home," Jason glanced up in surprise.

"And they're not broken?" Hercules looked impressed.

"I didn't let Iolaus carry them," Jason pointed out with a brief smile. He glanced towards the woods. "Are you taking bets when Skouros will rear his ugly head in all this?"

Hercules groaned. "Nope," he admitted. "I figure he already has." He angrily threw a nearby twig into the fire. "He always does," he muttered. He glanced at Jason who began cracking open the eggs. "Iolaus and I always envied you, you know."

"Of course you did," Jason grinned. "How could you not?"

Hercules chuckled. "Well, in this case...you had such a good relationship with your father." He hesitated. "I never knew Zeus when I was growing up. And..well, you met Skouros."

"I never liked him," Jason admitted. "And it wasn't all about how he treated Iolaus either." He glanced up as he added some herbs to the mixture he was preparing. "Did you see him much?"

"Iolaus never wanted me coming around where he lived," Hercules admitted. "It bothered me at first, but I think he wanted to keep that part of his life separate...so it didn't touch anything else." He glanced across the fire. "Does that make sense?"

Jason somberly nodded. "Of course. We all keep things inside that we don't want touching the rest of our lives. Usually it's the painful dark things."

"We should have been there for you, Jason," Hercules muttered after a few moments.

"In a way, I kept waiting for the two of you to show up," Jason heavily admitted. "But I knew why you didn't. Ares was causing all sorts of havoc in Arcadia." He waited until Hercules raised his eyes to meet his. "I haven't forgotten the greater good."

"Sometimes I wonder if the greater good has anything to do with the number of people involved," Hercules bitterly answered.

Jason shrugged. "There's no answer to that, and you know it." He shoved the mixture onto a flat pan and put it over the fire. "I hope Iolaus gets back here quickly. This isn't any good unless you eat it hot."

Hercules shrugged with a slight smile. "You know Iolaus and food. It doesn't matter."

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

To Jason's surprise, Iolaus ate his breakfast even after it had cooled. The former King of Corinth inwardly shuddered. He didn't often wonder that Iolaus had survived years at Hercules' side. He really wondered how Iolaus survived for so long considering he would eat just about anything in almost any fashion.

Hercules silently studied the hunter. It seemed his last walk in the woods had made him edgy again almost spoiling for another fight. He inwardly sighed and prayed to Asclepius for relief from the headache forming just behind his left eye. He knew it wouldn't be long before Iolaus or Jason or both of them either turned on him or to him to settle matters. 'This is getting old really fast.'

"We need to hunt or fish," Iolaus pointed out after he'd finished eating. He looked at Jason. "Depending on how long we're going to be here," he challenged.

Jason shrugged. "I'm just tired of how you're acting, Iolaus," he finally answered. "We care about you, but you're making both of us relive our own losses. And I'm tired of hurting over the loss of my children all over again." He stared at Iolaus. "And I know Hercules is tired of remembering his losses, too."

'Right on schedule. Dammit, Jason.' Hercules rubbed his eyes.

"Then maybe you both should have left me alone to deal with it!" Iolaus angrily replied.

"I couldn't do that, Iolaus," Hercules quietly interjected. "Any more than you did."

"Maybe you've forgotten," Iolaus shot back. "You shoved me away when your family died, Hercules. And I let you walk away. Remember?"

"And you died because of it!" Hercules was surprised at his sudden anger. "Gods, Iolaus, do you think I want you to go through Tartarus like I did? Just because I made a mistake doesn't mean I want you to make the same one!"

"FINE!" Iolaus shouted as he jumped to his feet. "I'm sorry! I'm sorry I fathered a child and walked out on him! But then, I'm Skouros' son, aren't I? Did you expect any better?" He stared down at Hercules. "I'm sorry I didn't let you take care of me like you want to take care of everybody else! I'm sorry I tried to deal with it on my own instead of dumping it on your shoulders!" He wheeled around to Jason. "I'm sorry I wasn't there when your children were..." Iolaus stopped seeing the knowing compassion in Jason's dark eyes warring with his own pain and grief. "I'm sorry, Jason," he whispered. "I didn't mean it that way, Jason. I swear I didn't. We didn't mean to hurt you...or not be there." He dropped to his knees next to his friend. "I'm sorry."

Jason pulled Iolaus against his shoulder. "You were there when I really needed you. Needed you, Hercules, and the other Argonauts." He took a deep breath. "We all followed our own paths, Iolaus. But of us all, you were the one with the most freedom. I was always going to rule Corinth. I couldn't travel the same path as you and Hercules no matter how much I wanted to. And Hercules was always going to be the son of Zeus...with all the responsibility that entailed. But you could be free to choose whatever you wanted." He shrugged. "In a way, I resented that."

"I didn't realize what I was doing," Iolaus muttered as he wiped his eyes. "I never...never meant for either of you to suffer. You gotta know that."

"We do," Hercules quietly spoke. He stared at the lake his heart twisting at the pain on the faces of both his friends. He saw quietly as Jason soothingly murmured replies to Iolaus' sobbing apologies. When his partner seemed more under control, he gently spoke. "But you need to let us help, Iolaus. That makes it easier for all of us."

"I'll do better," Iolaus said in a pathetic voice belied by the dim twinkle in his eyes as he pulled away from Jason.

The former King of Corinth snorted then glanced across the fire. Hercules had turned partially away to give his friends privacy. He now seemed very interested...almost fascinated...by the lacing on his boots. "Anything you want to say, Hercules?" Jason quietly asked.

"No," Hercules softly answered. 'Only that I want to leave this place before I do say something.'

"Then do we climb or raft?" Jason used their ritual formula for deciding to leave Sanctuary.

"Climb," Iolaus declared as he took a deep breath..

"Raft," Jason retorted.

'I knew it! I swear they do this deliberately!' Hercules felt their eyes upon him. "I've changed my mind," he said after a moment. "I do have something to say." He glared at them both suddenly very irritated. "Ever since we met, whenever the two of you were at loggerheads, you made me choose sides." He held up a hand to keep them from interrupting. "It didn't matter if it wasn't anything more than if we were to go hunting or fishing...all the way up to really important matters. Well, I'm not doing it this time. I'm not being in the middle. I'm not refereeing. I'm tired of you two putting me in this position." He slowly got to his feet. "You two work it out. I don't care if we climb or raft. But the two of you decide this one."

Jason and Iolaus watched in surprise as the demigod walked down to the river.

"What's he talking about?" Iolaus asked.

Jason shrugged. "Haven't the foggiest idea," he admitted. "All we wanted him to do was choose." He slowly grinned. "It wasn't like we were asking him to choose between us, you know."

Iolaus grunted. "Well, maybe a couple of times we have put him on the spot," he muttered.

"Years ago," Jason airily dismissed the statement. "When we were young and foolish." He grinned at Iolaus. "But, for one of us, foolish still happens."

Iolaus lightly punched his friend on the arm. "You take care of cleaning up the campsite," he suggested. "I'll start building the raft. I don't think you could make it up the cliff anyway."

"You could be right," Jason judiciously nodded. "Rafting it is." He saw the startled expression on Iolaus' face as he began shoving dirt over the campfire. He grinned as Iolaus grumbled and got to his feet.

"Herc would rather go rafting anyway," Iolaus muttered as he walked away.

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

All three men worked quietly on the raft. As they carried it upstream, a friendly argument followed over how much of the rapids they would travel. Iolaus, not being a good swimmer, proposed less than a mile. Jason, who truly loved the water, wanted to keep walking upstream for miles and raft downstream for miles. Hercules kept quiet even though he saw his friends giving him looks encouraging him to decide the matter. Finally Jason and Iolaus agreed to start rafting five miles upstream from their campsite and continue five miles downstream beyond their campsite where the water was calmer.

Iolaus gave Jason a dark look as they pushed off into the current. "You know, I'm not forgiving you if I drown," he promised.

"I'll keep that in mind," Jason laughed.

Iolaus settled down between his friends. "Uh, Herc, we're sorry, you know...about making you decide stuff," he apologized.

"We didn't realize how much we do that," Jason added.

Hercules turned and flashed a genuine pleased smile at his friends. "It's okay," he assured them.

Iolaus stared past Hercules to see the beginning of the white water. "Jason, I swear if I get sick, I'm getting sick all over you!" he yelled above the sound of the rushing water.

Iolaus didn't know which of his friends to hit first since they both broke into loud laughter at the same time.

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

Miles downstream, Iolaus lay drenched on the riverbank. The raft had finally come apart, and he doubted they'd made the five miles downstream as they'd planned. He didn't care. He was out of the cold water and back on dry land.

Hercules had almost grabbed him when the raft began breaking apart. Once they hit the water, Iolaus had been swept under. Both his friends had immediately grabbed for him and pulled him to the surface.

'Should've gone climbing.' Iolaus raised his head hearing his friends' cheerful voices as they sat close to him. In the final analysis, it didn't matter which they did. It was the rule of Sanctuary. Either climbing the cliff or shooting the rapids forced them to work together...something that was needed after the emotional catharsis of a visit to Sanctuary.

"I want to go home," Iolaus mumbled.

"Sounds like a plan," Hercules admitted after a moment.

They looked at Jason. He had brought them to Sanctuary. He would lead them out.

"We'll leave at first light," Jason announced.

"Not now?" Iolaus grumbled getting to his feet.

"We need a good night's sleep, Iolaus," Jason pointed out. He grinned at Hercules. "Besides, it'll take you that long to dry off."

Hercules managed not to laugh as Iolaus stomped away.

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

It was a beautiful night. Their campfire had been banked, and two figures lay sleeping close to it. One man, still awake, lay staring up at the stars.

Hercules hoped Iolaus would finally have a full night's rest. It wouldn't hurt him to stay awake or sleep lightly another night just to make sure. He glanced across the fire at his two sleeping companions.

Jason had always possessed an inner strength that amazed him. His insistence on this journey had only proven it again. For Iolaus' sake, Jason had again faced the pain of his own losses...using that pain to give Iolaus a type of support the demigod couldn't. Not for the first time, Hercules realized his mother couldn't have picked a worthier man to marry.

And Iolaus...along with Alcmene, the hunter lay closest to his heart. Willingly, Iolaus had followed Hercules for years. Often his friend had been hurt and had even died. Yet there were depths to his friend that still surprised Hercules. The last few months would leave a scar deep in his friend's soul. But after this journey to Sanctuary, perhaps the festering of that wound had been lanced and drained.

Hercules closed his eyes letting his body drift into a light sleep. For now, Sanctuary was a place of peace and healing.

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When we were young and brave
We wanted to save
All that we loved
We took a sacred vow
And pledged our souls in blood
And through it all we kept on going
We fought the doubts and faced the pain
We kept on rising from dust and ashes
To cheat the odds and rise again
And through it all
The fates kept on spinning
We shed the tears
But truth stood tall
Now here we are
One in the spirit
We stood together
Through it all.
(Adapted from the song "Through It All" by Lynyrd Skynyrd. RIP Ronnie et.al.)




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