So, I decided it was about time I attempted a Hercules pov fic, or even actually wrote a fic that featured Hercules at all, lol! This was the result. Also fills another trope bingo square, because I'm trying to get as many as possible before the amnesty period runs out at the end of the month.
Pairing/characters: Hercules, Pythagoras/Jason (unrequited), (Jason/Ariadne (implied), Hercules/Medusa (implied))
Warnings: Occasional mild language
Spoilers: Everything up to and including 1.11 Hunger Pangs (several specific spoilers for that episode)
Disclaimer: Not mine. BBC and Urban Myth Films own them.
Word count: approx 1413
Summary: Hercules wasn’t as oblivious as most people thought he was.
AN: Thanks to fififolle for the beta.
AN2: Fills the trope bingo square ‘free square – unrequited love/pining’. The pairing is Pythagoras/Jason, but the fic is actually all Hercules’ train of thought about his friends.
Cross posted to AO3
Hercules wasn’t as oblivious as most people thought he was. He noticed, and he paid attention to the important things. And this was important. Because this involved Pythagoras, and that big, soft, stupid heart of his.
With hindsight, Hercules had got the first inklings that something was going on not long before that business with Jason turning into a rabid dog-like creature started. At the time, though, he had almost missed it completely, too wrapped up in his own drunken misery.
He hadn’t really intended to hurt Pythagoras, gods, he never intended that, but nevertheless he had lashed out, made some comment about how the lad couldn’t possibly understand, he’d never had his heart broken. And then, just for a second, there had been something in Pythagoras’ expression. It was gone in an instant, and Hercules didn’t have time to consider the implications because at that point the conversation had gone rapidly downhill into ever more scathing remarks until Pythagoras had simply got up and left him in the tavern. And then, what with all the business about Jason being a rabid dog thing (and it said something about their lives that on a scale of abnormality, your housemate being cursed to turn into a dog barely rated above average), he had managed to forget all about that little slip.
In fact, Hercules didn’t think about it again until after Jason was recovering. And then, as he watched Pythagoras fussing over Jason, it all began to make sense.
With hindsight, it also rather explained that other throwaway comment he had made in the tavern, about how in the entire time they had known each other, he had never seen Pythagoras with a woman. Woman suddenly being the operative word in that sentence.
Well, the sly bugger had kept that one quiet!
Actually, the more Hercules thought about it, the more he realised that Pythagoras was actually rather too good at hiding the things that mattered. (That business about his father, gods! He’d had no idea.) Of all the people in Pythagoras’ life, Hercules fancied that he was probably the person who knew Pythagoras better than anyone, and yet even he hadn’t seen this one coming.
Not that it particularly mattered to him that Pythagoras apparently preferred men. Hercules had to admit he might be a little surprised, but that was mostly because he couldn’t fathom why anyone would forgo the lovely soft curves and squishy bits on a good woman in exchange for a male body that was all solid and angular. (And Hercules did actually know what he was talking about, because he’d tried it once, in his much younger days, on the grounds that most things were worth trying at least once.) That said, given this was Pythagoras they were talking about, the bloody angular thing probably explained a lot. Really, sometimes Hercules despaired of what went on in that boy’s brain.
But none of that really mattered. What mattered was that in spite of all his intelligence and theories and knowledge, it seemed Pythagoras was just as irrational and vulnerable and bloody stupid as the rest of them when it came to affairs of the heart. Which, Hercules was a little ashamed to admit, really shouldn’t have been as surprising as it was.
So, having made this startling realisation, Hercules watched. And he noticed. And he paid attention.
Oh, Pythagoras was good at hiding it. He was very good, in fact, but it was there if you knew there was something to watch out for. It was there in the way his touch lingered a fraction longer than was necessary when he tended to Jason’s injuries. It was there in the way he smiled every time Jason came into the room. Most of all, it was there in the way he looked at Jason when he thought no one was paying attention.
Jason, of course, was oblivious. Maybe that was simply because he hadn’t known Pythagoras as long as Hercules had known him, and didn’t recognise that he was behaving differently. Maybe. But Hercules suspected it was more to do with the fact that Jason was so busy making hurt puppy eyes at the princess, he had no idea what was going on right under his nose.
And there, of course, was the one great big problem with this entire sorry scenario. In the time they had known him, there had been no indication at all that Jason had any interest in men. Not that kind of interest, at any rate. And his doomed obsession with the princess was blinding him to any other potential interest, male or female. (The princess? Really? With looks and a body like Jason’s he could practically take his pick of anyone in Atlantis, but no, he had to go and fall for the sodding princess. And they had the cheek to tell Hercules that he was punching above his weight!)
The question now, though, was what to do about it? No matter which way Hercules thought about the situation, he couldn’t see a way that it wouldn’t end badly. Either Pythagoras was going to be pining quietly until Jason eventually hooked up with someone else, and then he’d be quietly heartbroken. Or, and this was probably the worst case scenario, Pythagoras would finally work up the courage to make a move, and Jason would reject him (no doubt as gently as possible, but that wasn’t going to make a hell of a lot of difference) and then Pythagoras would be not-so-quietly heartbroken, and Jason would feel guilty, and it would all be horrendously awkward.
Maybe there was a way to head it off before it got that far. He wondered briefly whether he could talk to Jason. Maybe drop a few hints, maybe test the water, see if there was even the remotest possibility? No, that wasn’t going to work. Besides, Hercules had a horrible suspicion that if Jason did finally get his head out of his arse and see what was going on, they might end up having the ‘if you hurt him’ conversation, and that was just going to be mortifying for everyone involved.
No, talking to Pythagoras would be a far better option. But what to say? Sit him down and tell him he’s got no chance, to get over it and move on? It was, after all, no worse than Pythagoras had told him when he’d first shown an interest in Medusa. (Medusa. Damn. Not going there, not going there, really not going there.) Or maybe he should encourage him to make a move. Prepare him, subtly, for the possibility that he’d be rejected, but point out that knowing one way or the other would be better than this quiet pining. At least then it would get it all over with before the lad built his hopes up too far.
He almost did it a couple of times. He waited until Jason was out and Pythagoras wasn’t up to his eyes in scrolls and muttering about bloody triangles, picked the appropriate moment, and he almost started the conversation. And then bottled it. No matter how necessary he knew it was, Hercules kept imagining the look on Pythagoras’ face, and he just couldn’t do it to him.
Pythagoras wasn’t the only one who was soft-hearted, sometimes.
So, Hercules watched Pythagoras fussing over Jason, and he fretted for his friend, and wished there was something he could do to make it easier for him. Wished there was something, anything, he could do apart from just sit on the sidelines and watch his two closest friends play out this long, slow dance to its inevitable conclusion.
Sooner or later, Pythagoras was going to get his heart broken and it was all going to get messy, and when that happened Hercules knew he was going to end up being the one who had to pick up the pieces. He supposed it was only fair, really. He’d lost count of the number of times that Pythagoras had been there for him when he’d been unlucky in love. The times Pythagoras had listened and comforted as they sat talking through the night, the persistent attempts to make him eat something sensible, the gentle arm around his shoulders when all he wanted to do was drown himself in wine. This time it was his turn to be there for his friend, and Hercules didn’t intend to let him down.
But gods, he wasn’t looking forward to it.