Disclaimers: You and I both know they don't belong to me. You and I both know who they belong do belong too. So why bother to go through all that again...
Subtext: I guess with my writing so far we'll just quit calling it subtext and call it maintext. Yes are in love with each other.
Sex: There's mention of it. Nothing too graphic.
Other: Part four in the series "Raising Melosa".
A Visit to Mother's
I awoke in a strange room, in a strange bed. I smiled. The body laying next to me was all too familiar. Xena still slept. We had arrived in Amphipolis late last night and we were both exhausted. We knew traveling for the first time with Melosa would be an experience. It was. Xena learned a few interesting lessons about riding with a squirming baby in her arms. Melosa was finally relegated to the back pack that Xena had made for her to ride in. This hadn't made her happy and she spent most of the trip kicking me in the back to show her protest.
Cyrene was still up when we arrived and took great delight in meeting her granddaughter for the first time. We watched as she held the baby close to her and cried a grandmother's tears of joy. I even saw a single tear slide down the cheek of my warrior as she smiled and watched them. "I've finally made her happy." She whispered in my ear.
We spent another two candle marks eating and talking as Cyrene continued to play with the baby. Xena was actually falling asleep sitting up, her face resting in her hand. I knew it was time to put my warrior and my daughter to bed. Cyrene was content to let me take the warrior, but her granddaughter was another story.
"I'll keep the baby with me. You take Xena to your room and get some rest." She said as they played on the floor.
"But..." I started to protest.
"Gabrielle, this child is more than eight months old now and we've got a lot of catching up to do. Besides I'm sure you two could use some quiet time together. Now go on."
I knew it wouldn't do any good to argue any further. This is where my daughter got her stubborn streak. I walked over to my warrior and whispered her name. "Xena..."
"I'm not asleep." She said, her eyes still closed.
"Un-huh sure, come on." I said as help her out of the chair and upstairs to our room. Once we were both undressed and in bed it didn't take long for either of us to fall fast asleep.
Morning was upon us once again. I curled up next to Xena and began kissing her shoulder. We hadn't even bothered with shifts last night. There was no point. So now here I was, next the very warm body of my wife and getting warmer with every moment that I continued to lay there. I knew I should get up. I knew I should go downstairs and help Cyrene open the tavern and see to Melosa, but it had been so long since Xena and I had been alone together without our daughter to worry about...
Xena stirred as my kisses moved from her shoulder to her neck. "Hmmm..." She growled as she smiled, her eyes still closed. I turned her head gently to mine and kissed her softly on the lips. It didn't take long for that soft gently kiss to turn into several little passionate kisses.
"Feeling a little frisky this morning bard?" Xena asked, her lips never leaving mine. She turned and pulled me into her arms, pressing our bodies together.
"No. Feeling down right horny warrior." I answered, my lips never leaving hers. Our bodies began to melt together.
We made love. Glorious, magnificent, passionate love. It had been months since we had shared each other like this. It came close to the night in Artemis' temple when we were blessed with Melosa. Almost, but not quite. As I lay spent in my warrior's strong arms I could only sigh as my heartbeat and breathing began to return to normal.
"Happy?" She asked with that teasing edge to her voice.
"Quite. Thank you." I sighed as I snuggled closer.
"No, thank you. That was quite the wake up call." She kissed me on the forehead and hugged me closer.
"We really should get up you know." I said as I traced my finger along her side.
"Yeah we probably should..." She said as she turned and kissed me.
So much for getting up...
When we finally did make it downstairs, Cyrene was just getting ready to serve the mid day meal. She gave us the infamous, 'I know what you've been doing, so don't even make excuses' look. We could only smile. Xena began cleaning the tables, I moved behind the bar. I found Melosa playing peacefully at her grandmother's feet. She looked up and reached for me. I took a step back and knelt down on the floor with her.
"You want me. You come here." I held my hands out to her. She watched me for a moment then rocked forward and crawled to me. I scooped her up and gave her a long hard hug and a kiss. "What a good girl."
She giggled and squirmed. Then she noticed Xena and really began to wiggle. There was no bond stronger in the world than the bond between these two.
I walked around the bar and put her down. She wasted no time in crawling over to the warrior and pulling herself up on the leg of Xena's trousers. She stood there, holding on for dear life, looking up at the woman who worshipped the ground she crawled on. Xena smiled and looked at me as she bent over and picked the baby up. I just rolled my eyes and shook my head as I went back behind the bar. This had been a battle I finally had to give up. I just realized that there was no way the warrior was ever going to deny this child anything.
We talked about it. She told me late one night, through many, many tears, that she felt like Melosa was her second chance to be the parent she had failed to be with Solan. I held her so close to me that night as she wept for the son she lost and the daughter we now had. She told me of her fears. Fears that she would fail Melosa the way she had failed Solan. I tried to console her, but I knew I couldn't do it. Only a healthy, happy Melosa could do that. Melosa was never happier than when she was wrapped tightly in the arms of a certain warrior. Not that I could blame her, I found most of my happiness there as well.
I watched them as Cyrene and I prepared the bar. Xena was so careful with her. Sometimes it looked as if Xena thought the child was a dream and would simply disappear from her arms if she were to rough with her. I knew Xena. I knew she was capable of great tenderness. Not everyone could see that side of her. Not every wanted to see that side of her, but to watch her with our daughter, you couldn't miss it.
"We're going to need another cask of port." Cyrene's words brought me out of my daze. "Xena would you mind?"
"Not at all mother." Xena crossed the room and placed Melosa on the bar in front of me. As the warrior headed for the door that led to the store room Melosa's eyes never left her. When she disappeared through the door, our daughter looked as if she were going to cry. She began shaking all over, she looked at me and back to the door again. Her bottom lip began to stick out and quiver. Tears began to form in her little eyes.
"Aw little one it's okay," I picked her up and held her close, kissing her on the head. "She'll be right back." My words did little to comfort our baby as she continued to watch that door. I could feel the tears and the sobs rack her little body, but she never made a sound. She threw her little head against my shoulder and hugged me tightly, watching the door. I made sure that we stayed where we were so she could watch the door.
When Xena reappeared, the tears stopped as quickly as the began. The warrior brought the cask of wine behind the bar and put it where her mother indicated. She looked up and saw the relieved look on both our faces.
"What's wrong?" She asked as she stepped closer and stroked Melosa's head, the concern evident in her voice.
"I'm not sure. She seemed to get very upset when you left the room." I continued to rub her little back. She was resting with her head against my shoulder, but her blue eyes never left the warrior. "Maybe she's tired. I think it's nap time."
"Do you want me to put her down for her nap?"
"No I'll do it. You're mother needs you down here." It was a good plan until I tried to walk away. Xena just came to me and took her.
"I'll do it. You can help mother." With that she headed upstairs. I watched them go, wondering what had gotten into Melosa.
"Don't let it worry you child. All babies go through this stage." Cyrene said quietly.
I turned and smiled. "She's never behaved like that before." I glanced back to the stairs.
I felt Cyrene's hand on my shoulder. "She's just learning to adjust to the fact that the people she loves leave her. When she realizes that they come back, she'll be fine. She was just scared. She'll learn and everything will be okay."
I turned to the woman that I now considered to be my mother and smiled. She gave me a gentle hug and we went back to work.
"You never did tell me why you arrived so late last night." She said as I wiped down the bar.
I sighed. "We left Poteidaia, um, shall we say on the spur of the moment yesterday morning and Xena didn't want to stop and sleep outside with Melosa."
"Things didn't go well at home for you?"
"My parents were so awful to Xena." I stopped for a moment as the tears threaten to roll down my cheeks. I wiped them away and continued. "She tried to be good natured about it and just ignore them, but they just took every opportunity to hurt her. They barely paid any attention to Melosa. That upset Xena more than anything. She told them that they could hate her as much as they wanted, but that Melosa was their grandchild and they should be ashamed of the way they were treating her."
I paused to collect my thoughts. I could see the hurt flood across Cyrene's face. I tried to smile, but it just wouldn't happen. I took a deep breath and continued.
"We were all in the kitchen, I was holding Melosa, my father just seemed to snap. He called me the most horrible names." I closed my eyes as I remembered. "Then he began saying awful things about Melosa. Then he raised his hand as if he were going to strike me. That was it. Xena was done being nice. She captured his hand as he swung forward. With a stillness in her voice I've never heard before she told me to collect our things and that we were leaving. It scared me half to death. I was sure she was going to kill him. She told him the only thing that saved his life, was the fact that he was Melosa's grandfather and she wouldn't have his blood on her hands. She didn't do anything except hold his hand in mid air while I slipped out past them. She basically held them captive in the kitchen while I gathered our things and then we left. I don't imagine we will be going back anytime soon." I finished with a chuckle, trying to lighten the mood.
Cyrene gave me a little smile and put her hands on my shoulders. "Gabrielle I know that I can never replace your parents in your heart and I wouldn't want to try. I just want you to know how much I love you. How grateful I am for the things that you have given me. You brought Xena back into my life. You have blessed me with the most beautiful granddaughter. You are a part of my heart, my family. You are my daughter and you will always have a home here."
I fell into her and hugged her. It felt so good to have a home. She just held me there. I let a few tears escape, not for what I had lost, but for what had been given to me. My home, my family.
After the mid day meal had been served and we cleaned up I went in search of my wife and daughter. Our room was empty. I didn't know where to begin looking for the, but I knew they wouldn't be far away. Cyrene and I decided to take a walk and look for them. We found them by the pond. Melosa was taking her afternoon nap under a blanket Xena had rigged as a tent and Xena was lying near the edge of the pond taking in some sun. She had changed into a shift and was strecthed out lazily on a blanket with her arm covering her eyes. I felt the need to be bad. I drew a bucket of water from the well as we approached and started to sneak up on her.
"Don't do it Gabrielle." She said as I made my approach and drew back the bucket. She craned her neck to look back at me. "You know you should be ashamed of yourself amazon. You're as noisey as a heard of..."
Her snide little comment was cut short by the yelp and splashing of water. "Mother!" Xena turned her head the other direction to find Cyrene almost doubled over with laughter. The older woman gathered herself rather quickly as her daughter drew herself up and charged her. Xena was soaked. Cyrene dropped her bucket and began backing away holding her hands out in front of her.
"Now daughter don't do anything you might reget later." She said as she laughed and continued to back away.
"Oh I won't regret it." Xena said as she stalked her mother.
I knew I had to do something to get mother out of this situation, after all I had gotten her into it. I did the only thing I could think of. I threw the other bucket of water on Xena and ran like Hades himself were hot on my trail. I wasn't far off. I didn't take her long to catch me. The more I struggled the more intent she became. She threw me over her shoulder and headed for the pond.
"Xena! Don't do it!" I yelped as I struggled with her. This only resulted on a swift and firm swat to my backside.
"Oh hold still." She replied dryly as she continued forward to the waters edge.
"Xena! Stop! Put me down!" When it became clear that being demanding wasn't going to work I opted for pity. "That water's really cold. Please don't do this." I begged, it wasn't woking either. I knew I was going to get a cold bath.
She swung me off her shoulders and into her arms and began to swing me back. I knew I was going in, but by the Gods I wasn't going alone. Just as I felt her release me, I grapped around her neck and pulled her with me. We both landed in the cold water of the pond with a huge splash. As we both resurfaced we turned to the delighted squeals of Melosa. She sat up proudly with her grandmother, clapping and giggling at the display before her.
She lurched forward and began crawling towards us. We pulled ourselves out of the water and met her on the bank. Xena and I fell to the ground with the baby between us. She took great delight in touching our cold wet clothes, shivering slightly as she did. The smile on her face was priceless. My cold bath had been worth it in the end if it lit up that little face like that.
However, there was a warrior who would have to pay later...
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