Bingo! \o/ This fic completes another hc_bingo line, and with it two achievements (Steadfast for all fills in the same fandom, and multi-media for all fills in a different medium). To say that 'Unexpected Consequences of Planned Soulbonding' has become my nemesis prompt, I'm actually rather pleased with this fic. Pleased, in a Little Miss Maim and Kill kind of way...
Pairing/characters: Icarus/Pythagoras, Cassandra, Hercules, Ariadne, Jason
Warnings: Character death, angst, soulbonding
Spoilers: vague for the end of series 2
Disclaimer: Not mine. BBC and Urban Myth Films own them.
Word count: approx 2810
Summary: Of all the side effects of their soulbond, this was one of the least desirable.
AN: Thanks to clea2011 for the beta.
AN2: Fills the hc_bingo ‘Unexpected Consequences of Planned Soulbonding’ square on my hurt/comfort bingo card.
AN3: Set about a year after the end of series 2.
Fic at AO3
Pythagoras had been gone for almost two days when Icarus felt it. One moment he was on the deck of the Argo looking out at the island where the ship was at anchor, the next he was doubled over with a sharp, stabbing pain in his stomach.
Icarus gripped the edge of the ship and squeezed his eyes closed and tried to take shallow breaths until it eased a little. His first thought was of the fish he and Cassandra had cooked the night before, and whether or not they really had cooked it properly. But even as the thought went through his head he knew it was not that sort of pain. A moment later, he knew exactly what it was.
Icarus stumbled across the deck and down towards the cabins below. Cassandra met him in the narrow corridor, her expression already worried at all the yelling.
“Cassandra. Pythagoras is hurt. I think it’s serious.”
Cassandra’s eyes widened, but Icarus didn’t have time to say anything more before another wave of pain rippled through his guts and he was forced to grab the wall to stop himself falling.
“Come on, you need to sit down,” Cassandra decided. She looped his arm around her tiny shoulders and helped him get to the cabin he shared with Pythagoras. As soon as she dropped him on the bed, Icarus curled an arm around his belly and tried not to whimper while the pain subsided to a raw ache.
“Here. Drink this.”
He hadn’t even realised that Cassandra had left him alone, but suddenly she was there in front of him giving him a cup of water. Icarus waved it away. Water was not going to help right now.
“It’s Pythagoras. It must be serious for it to feel this bad. Cassandra, I have to go to him.”
“I have t-”
“Icarus, no. You can’t. You can barely stand up right now, let alone go after him. You don’t even know where they are.”
He looked up at her and saw the fear in her eyes.
“You could tell me where he is. You could see what has happened.”
“You cannot leave, Icarus. Please.”
You cannot leave me alone. That was what she was actually saying, and they both knew it. Pythagoras, Jason, Ariadne and Hercules had all gone off onto the island a couple of days ago for ‘information gathering’ or something, and Icarus and Cassandra were the only two people left on the ship. She was right; they had rules about never leaving anyone alone on the ship if at all possible. It was too easy for something to go wrong.
But right at that moment all he could think about was Pythagoras.
“What do you think has happened to him?” Cassandra asked. She sounded a lot calmer than she looked.
“I don’t know. The pain is in my stomach. It feels like...” he paused as the full realisation settled in his mind. “He has been stabbed. He is bleeding.”
Cassandra knelt in front of him and put her hands on his knees.
“He is with the others. They will take care of him. They will bring him back. If necessary, I believe Hercules will carry him all the way.”
He would as well, Icarus had no doubt about that. If it were anyone else, Icarus would be jealous of the closeness of Pythagoras’ relationship with Hercules, but it was Hercules, and so Icarus felt nothing but happy that Pythagoras had a friend who cared so much for him.
But right now that was beside the point.
He forced himself to voice the fear that was growing in strength with every second.
“What if he does not live long enough for them to get him back here?”
Cassandra stared at him for several seconds.
“I will consult the gods,” she decided. “But Icarus, you must promise me that you will not do anything foolish. That you will not leave until we know more. Please Icarus, promise me.”
He nodded. The truth was she had been right earlier; he was in no fit state to go anywhere like this.
Cassandra watched him for a moment as if to reassure herself that he meant it, and that he would not get up and go the second she turned her back. Then she stood up and went back to her cabin, closing the door behind her.
Icarus eased himself onto the bed and tried to find a sitting position that did not hurt.
Of all the side effects of their soulbond, this was one of the least desirable. Even after six months he was still getting used to it. Truth be told, Icarus had been so thrilled when Pythagoras had suggested that they enter into a soulbond together that he had perhaps not been fully paying attention to the details. Or maybe even Pythagoras himself had not known what the full effects would be. But ever since the ritual that bound their souls and their fates together it had become apparent that a link had been forged between them. A link that went deeper than either of them could ever have imagined.
When one was hurt the other felt it. When one was angry or excited or upset the other knew about it. Hercules still liked to tell stories of the time when Icarus had suddenly, and for absolutely no reason, grabbed Ariadne and hugged her and picked her up and spun her around with a huge grin on his face, and then a few moments later Pythagoras had come rushing from their cabin shouting about some mathematical formula he had just solved. And the shared sensations and emotions certainly made their sex life interesting.
Of course, they couldn’t feel everything. They would both be driven mad by the constant mood swings if that were the case. It was only the strongest, most intense sensations that they shared, and even then, Icarus had a suspicion that what the other experienced was only a fraction of the intensity of the original emotion.
Which meant that right now, if Icarus was feeling this much pain, he could not bear to imagine what Pythagoras must be going through.
It had subsided to a dull ache and a feeling of exhaustion, even though he had barely moved from the bed, by the time Cassandra returned. She sat on the edge of his bed and took hold of his hand. When she looked up, he could see that her eyes were wet with unshed tears.
“No,” Icarus shook his head.
“I did not see clearly what has happened. I cannot say for sure. But, there is one thing...”
She stopped and could not meet his gaze any longer.
Icarus didn’t want to know, but at the same time he had to know.
“There is one thing that the gods were very clear about,” Cassandra said. She raised her head and looked him in eye. “Two souls that are bound together by love will be parted before dawn.”
Icarus snatched his hand away from her and tried to get off the bed and stand up.
Cassandra put herself in front of him before he could stagger more than a couple of steps towards the door.
“Icarus, please. You cannot go. What I saw, what the gods showed me. I do not know what will happen, but I do know that if you try to intervene it will be much, much worse.”
“How can it be worse?” Icarus yelled.
“Icarus, please, listen to me. You cannot intervene. You cannot defy the gods.”
She was crying now, he saw.
“I don’t care about the bloody gods.”
Cassandra visibly flinched at that.
He tried to shove past her, but at that moment was hit by another intense wave of pain in his guts. Icarus dropped to his knees with a cry.
“Even if you could walk more than a few steps, how would you find them? They could be anywhere on this island.”
“So you think I should just abandon him?” Icarus spat.
“No. You don’t have to. You can help him without even leaving this room. Think about it Icarus. If you are angry he will be angry. If you are scared he will be scared. If you give up hope...”
Icarus abruptly stopped struggling and stared at her. Cassandra just watched him, as if she were waiting for him to understand.
“Will it even work like that?”
“Be strong for him, Icarus. Give Pythagoras a reason to keep fighting.”
Icarus nodded. Cassandra helped him to stand up and got him back to the bed. Icarus closed his eyes and tried to calm himself. She was right about that, at least. Pythagoras had enough to deal with right now, without Icarus’ panic invading his thoughts and emotions as well.
Cassandra got up and left, closing the door behind her. A few moments later he heard the quiet but unmistakeable sound of a key turning in a lock. By the time he stumbled to the door, he could hear the rather louder sound of something heavy being dragged in front of the door. He tried the handle, and was unsurprised when it did not open.
He banged on the door but it didn’t move.
“Please don’t be angry,” Cassandra said from outside in the corridor.
Icarus sighed. He knew he ought to be angry, but right then the exhaustion that he had been trying to ignore for some time threatened to overwhelm him. He looked at the distance to the bed, all of five or six paces, but it was just too far. Instead, he simply sat down on the floor and leaned against the door.
He closed his eyes and tried to think beyond the pain in his guts.
If Cassandra was right, then he needed to concentrate on the good things. If Cassandra was right. Icarus had never attempted to deliberately affect Pythagoras with his mood before. It was always an unpredictable, spontaneous, and entirely unconscious thing.
He thought about his favourite memories. Their first kiss. The first time they made love. The second time they made love, because really, the first time had been awkward and messy and they had spent much of the time laughing at the ridiculousness of two supposedly intelligent men acting like inexperienced boys. The nights out on deck, curled around each other and looking up at the stars. The contented expression that Pythagoras got when all of his friends were safe and well fed and laughing together.
After a while Icarus began to feel calm, and right then he had no idea whether that was coming from him or from Pythagoras. He tried to hold onto it.
It was probably hours before he even realised that the pain had faded to little more than a feeling of general discomfort. He knew whatever Pythagoras was feeling would be a lot worse, but it had to be a good thing, didn’t it? Perhaps his injury had stabilised. Perhaps he was out of danger.
Two souls that are bound together by love will be parted before dawn.
Cassandra’s words repeated over and over in his head, but he tried to ignore them. It might not mean what he feared. It might not even be about them at all. Cassandra’s visions were often vague and confused. She had been wrong about things before, she could be wrong about this. She had to be wrong about this.
Please gods, let her be wrong about this.
It had grown cooler, and although his cabin did not have a window onto the outside, Icarus knew it must be long into the night by now. He stretched his legs and contemplated getting into bed. He knew he wouldn’t sleep, but it would be warmer with the blanket.
The pain stopped.
One moment it was there, a persistent throbbing ache, the next it was gone.
Icarus frowned in confusion. If it had faded away to nothing he could have understood it, that was how these shared sensations normally ended. For it to disappear so suddenly like that was something that had never happened before. It took him a moment to work it out.
“No,” Icarus breathed.
Where before he had felt pain, now it was as if a kind of numbness took hold of him, infiltrating his limbs and his organs until he could feel nothing. He couldn’t move, he couldn’t speak. His eyes were open but he saw nothing. Time itself seemed to succumb to the nothingness.
Then, gradually, something did begin to seep through. A terrible hurt that he knew had nothing to do with any physical pain. A hurt that settled around his heart and told him what he already knew.
This was what it felt like to lose a part of your soul.
“Icarus! Icarus, you have to come.”
He opened his eyes and realised that Cassandra was shaking him, quite hard. He had no recollection of getting into bed, but it only took a few seconds for the other memories to come flooding back. The pain. He closed his eyes and turned away from Cassandra.
“Icarus, please. You’re needed.”
“Nobody needs me now,” he muttered.
It was probably true. Without Pythagoras, there was no reason for him to be on this ship, and no reason for the others to put up with him any longer.
“They’re coming back.”
Icarus opened his eyes and dragged himself upright at that. The thought flickered through his mind that they might have brought his body back. He wasn’t sure whether he wanted to see it or not.
Cassandra took his hand and pulled him to his feet and led him out to the deck. Icarus followed because it was easier to do that than to let her keep shouting at him.
The others were already on deck when he stumbled, blinking, into the early morning sunlight.
Most of the front of Pythagoras’ tunic was soaked in blood, and Icarus could see where the fabric was torn open just above his belt. But that wasn’t important because somehow Pythagoras was upright and walking and alive.
Icarus was suddenly very awake. Before he could react, Pythagoras pushed past without even acknowledging him, and headed straight down to the rooms below deck.
“Pythagoras?” Icarus whispered.
He heard a door slam below. Behind him, someone sniffed.
Icarus turned and for the first time he really looked at Jason and Ariadne. Ariadne was visibly upset, even through the mask of composure that her years of royal upbringing had taught her. That was when he realised what was wrong.
“Where is Hercules?”
Jason’s fist clenched but he did not speak. It was Ariadne who finally answered him.
“Hercules is dead.” She hesitated, and then looked right at Icarus. “Pythagoras was mortally injured. He was close to death. There was a priestess; she said she could help him, for a price. Hercules... we didn’t know what he was going to do, he didn’t tell anyone, he just did it. He offered his own life to save Pythagoras.”
Icarus opened his mouth to say something, but there were no words. Hercules. Hercules was dead.
Two souls that are bound together by love will be parted before dawn.
Icarus glanced at Cassandra. She hadn’t been wrong. He had just misinterpreted what she said.
Jason stepped forward and caught his attention.
“Pythagoras needs you.”
Icarus nodded. He turned and headed back to their cabin and closed the door against the rest of the world.
Pythagoras was curled up on the bed in his blood stained clothes, his eyes staring into nothing. Icarus waited for a moment, but when there was no response at all he went over and got onto the bed beside him. He laid Pythagoras’ head on his chest and wrapped his arms around him.
“I am so sorry,” Icarus whispered.
He hoped Pythagoras would not sense the lie behind his words. Yes, he was sorry that Pythagoras was in such pain, and yes, he was sorry that Hercules was dead. But he was not sorry that Hercules was dead instead of Pythagoras. If that made him a terrible person, so be it, but as long as Pythagoras survived that was all that mattered.
Icarus understood, now, what had happened last night. The physical pain must have stopped when Pythagoras was cured. And the other sensation, it was not the loss of a soulmate at all; it was Pythagoras’ grief that he had been feeling. Was still feeling now. A grief that was going to overwhelm them both if they couldn’t control it.
He felt Pythagoras’ arm slip around his waist. Pythagoras buried his face into Icarus’ chest and Icarus could feel the heat and the tension radiating from him.
Icarus held him close and waited for the storm to break.