“We should’ve stayed in Corinth for the winter,” Iolaus muttered. “Indoors where it’s warm and we get free dinners and there are people who like us.” He kicked a stone away from the icy trail.
“You forgot the hot baths,” Hercules said behind him.
“Right! Where they have hot baths and --” Iolaus glared at him over his shoulder. It was getting harder to keep up the bickering; he was too worried. “Never mind, I’ve lost the flow now. Are you sure about this shack?”
“Should be just a little higher up.”
“If we get much higher, we’re going to end up spending the night in Boreas’s cave of freezing winds.”
Iolaus’ ears were freezing as it was, along with his toes. The snow wasn’t even that deep, but it was just so damn exposed up here, and the wind was picking up.
“Oh look, there it is.” Hercules halted, pointing. He was listing over, putting less weight on the bandaged left leg.
Iolaus shaded his eyes. The light was fading, and he could barely make out a dark rounded shape under a clump of snow-laden pines. It could be the promised shack, or just a really big rock. He wouldn’t even be surprised if the shack-shape turned out to be a huddled ice troll, waiting to pounce. Any day where Hercules ended up wounded and Iolaus emerged unscathed was a spectacularly bad day, and he wasn’t about to let it get worse.
“Stay here.” He drew his sword.
Hercules snorted. “What did that shack ever do to you?”
Iolaus stalked up to the pine trees. Okay, so it was a shack, and the snow around it showed no tracks. So far, so good. The door wouldn't budge at first, but Iolaus put his shoulder against the wood and shoved hard.
Inside, it was dusty and cold, but there was a hearth, with some wood stacked next to it, and an old iron kettle. A straw pallet made up the rest of the furniture.
Iolaus sheathed his sword and dropped their sack of supplies by the hearth, while Hercules stumbled over the threshold, closed the door and leaned against it. It looked almost casual.
Iolaus gritted his teeth. “You should lie down.”
“You know I’ll be fine again in a couple of hours--” Hercules began in his just-listen-to-me voice. Long ago, Iolaus had realized that that voice was dangerous; it was so calm, so supernaturally convincing, that people just gave in, even when Hercules wasn’t making any sense.
“Yeah, but you’re hurting now. Would you just take it easy for a minute?” Iolaus was trying to sound calm and reasonable too, he really was. He just wasn’t all that good at it.
Hercules sighed the sigh of a put-upon demigod, but he sat down heavily on the straw pallet. And kept sitting there, while Iolaus got the fire going, sorted through their supplies, filled the iron kettle with snow and hung it over the flames.
Finally, Iolaus sat down next to Hercules, watching the fire. “It’s getting warm, at least. And we’ll have a hot dinner.”
“And there’s people who like you,” Hercules said, deadpan.
Iolaus nudged his shoulder, and Hercules nudged back. Iolaus just managed not to fall over, and smiled to himself. Getting his strength back, anyway.