Disclaimers: The characters of Xena: Warrior Princess and all other associated with the television series of the same name are owned by MCA/ Universal Pictures. This is a work of fan fiction and no copyright infringement is intended.
Subtext: I guess with my writing so far we'll just quit calling it subtext and call it maintext. Yes they are in love with each other.
Violence: If everyones really careful about what they say to Xena we may get through this one without any bloodshed.
Other: Part sixteen in the series "Raising Melosa".
I went into our bedchamber and looked at the lump under the blankets. She was completely covered, even her head. I sighed and sat the tray on the desk. Then I took a seat on the bed.
"You gonna get up today?" I asked the lump.
"No." It growled back.
"Xe this is ridiculous. Its your birthday and all of our friends will be here for the party tonight "
"I know, thats why Im staying in bed."
"Come on Xe " I tried to pull the blankets back, but she held them firmly in place. "Okay you leave me no choice. I told you Id send in my best warriors." I said as I stood and crossed the room laying my hand on the handle.
"Make sure you send six of your best."
"Oh I only need four." I pulled the door open and turned loose my four best warriors. Melosa was more than happy to lead the charge. She was the first one to jump on the lump in the middle of the bed, doing a pretty fair imitation of Xes battle cry as she did. Kai was hot on her heals and in the center of the bed with her tugging on the blankets as the lump groaned and tried her best to stay covered up. I guided Kessa and Rosa over and let them stand along the edge of the bed and get their two dinars worth in too.
"NOT FAIR!" The lump yelled.
"Alls fair in love and war, warrior. You should know that." I said from my position o the floor with Kessa and Rosa. Who were both having a ball trying to pry the blankets away.
Melosa threw herself to the lumps top and said, "And we LOVE you."
"Do not!" The lump growled.
"Do too." Mel giggled as she pulled the blanket down from Xes head.
"Whose side are you on here anyway?" Xe asked as she turned to face Melosa. "You little traitor."
Mel leaned in and kissed Xe on the nose.
"Eeewww " She said as she pulled the blanket back up over her head. "Im gonna die!"
"Are not!" Mel yelled a little indignantly.
"Am too." The lump gave a muffled reply.
Kai had it figured out and he crawled to the bottom of the bed and flung the covers from said lumps feet.
"Hey! No damn fair!" She yelled as she curled up and tried to recover her feet.
"Watch your language warrior." I warned with a laugh.
"Aww come on Ri call them off!"
"You promise to get up and be an active member of this family today?"
"Yeah, yeah I promise."
"Okay. All right you guys give it up. Shes going to be good and get up now."
Kai and Mel dutifully climbed of the bed and plopped down on the floor next to me and waited just in case their services were required again. Xena kicked the blankets back over her feet, but she uncovered her head. "Its my birthday. Shouldnt I be allowed to do what I want?"
"Would you like a little cheese with that whine?" I asked with a grin.
"Oh har har. Come on Ri. Be nice. How often do I stay in bed?"
"How often do you turn f "
"DO NOT SAY THAT WORD!" She growled as she pulled the blanket back over her head.
"Okay, okay Im sorry I wont say it and well declare all references to your age off limits today. Will that make you feel better?"
"Much." She said as she brought the blanket back down.
I grinned at her. My big, bad warrior was having a mid-life crisis. This had to be one for the scrolls. That secret set I kept to record these very rare moments in her life. I didnt have many of them, but the stories in them were good ones. The first time we kissed, the first time we made love, the day she proposed. All very note worthy, but things I would be killed for if she knew they existed. The mere thought of this story being added just made me love her more. I took a deep breath and cleared my throat.
"All right everyone out." I looked Xe directly in the eye. "Shes going to eat and then shes going to get up. Right?"
"Right." She mumbled.
Melosa took charge of her brother and sisters and took them from the room leaving us alone. I stood and went to the tray. "Now sit up and eat this before it gets as old as you are."
"ALL RIGHT THAT DOES IT! IM STAYING IN BED!"
"Xe I was only joking Im sorry. Come on sweetheart "
"No more jokes?"
"No more jokes I promise. Come on."
She sat up and I placed the tray on her lap. She looked at me like the food was poisoned. I sat down and took a bite of the eggs. "Theyre fine. See. Im not trying to do you in."
"You dont have too, my own body is doing it. Do you know what I found yesterday?" She said as she sipped her tea.
"A gray hair."
"Thats nothing to be upset about youve had those for a long time."
She rolled her eyes and let her head drop against the wall. "Oh Gods!" She groaned.
"Hey I think it sexy." I said as I brushed her hair back taking in the sight of the very few gray hair that were starting to streak my warriors hair. There was a time in our lives when I never thought I would live to see the day.
"Right. Sexy. Sure. Face it Ri I am getting old." She said, seeming almost sad.
I took her face between my hands and made her look at me. "Yeah aint it great?"
"Great? You call getting old great. You have a warped sense of great."
"You go out there and tell those kids it isnt great. You go out there and tell your oldest daughter who worships the ground you walk on or your youngest son who watches every move you make, that its not great."
She smiled at me. "You always know the right thing to say dont you?"
"Not always, but with you mostly yes."
As evening settled in on us our friends and family began arriving. I immediately took Epinon and Solari aside and told them to behave. They gave me their word that they would be good. I knew full well that it was only good for as long as they were sober, but I figured by that time Xe wouldnt be in any condition to care either.
Ephiny and I sat on the porch with Kessa and Rosa watching as the yard became a festival ground. Hercules and Iolus helped various amazons set up tables and light torches. Salmoneus helped Cook and Karra prepare the food. Autolycus chased Kai around the yard trying to keep him out of everyones way. Kai however just managed to keep the thief running in circles and thereby keeping them both in the way. Off in the distance I watched Xe with Melosa perched on her shoulders, walking with Cyrene.
The creaking of Solans wagon was such a normal sound now I didnt even really pay any attention to it any more. The one thing I did pay attention to was the wailing of my granddaughter. Eph took Rosa and played with her as well as I made my way around the house to find my son and daughter, with my granddaughter climbing out of the wagon.
"Did you torture her all the way here?" I asked as I stepped forward and took her from Alana.
"I swear to you mother she was quiet until we got here." Alana protested. " I think she just does that to make you think were mistreating her."
"They are arent they sweetheart?" I said as I cradled my granddaughter. " Yes you just tell grandma all about it. Come on." I took they baby and left Solan and Alana to unload their things. As I took my seat next to Eph the baby began to quiet down; she sat in my lap sucking her thumb, mesmerized by the goings on in the yard. Kessa and Rosa suddenly found an interest in trying to play with their niece.
This was interesting to say the least. Xe and I still very much in our prime, no matter how Xe was feeling today, our youngest two being just shy of two seasons old and now our first granddaughter was just shy of her first birthday. I smiled at the baby and gave her a kiss on her little head.
"So how is Xena doing tonight?" Eph asked as the kids played back and forth between us.
"Oh shes gonna be okay. She just likes to complain a lot. Shell be fine once the party is over and this day is done. Shes always hated her birthday and generally we keep them quiet, but when Cyrene spilled the beans about this one I just couldnt resist a party. Mainly because its the first time Ive actually known which birthday we were suppose to ignore today."
"This is probably the one that you should have ignored." She said with a chuckle as she gave me a nudge.
"Yeah well Ive never been very good at ignoring the things I should." I smiled at her and nudged back.
Melosa came tearing through the yard and bounded up the steps skidding to a halt long enough to give me a kiss on the cheek. "Momma wants her sword. Can you get it so I can take it to her? She says its in the cabinet in your room."
"Gods Gabrielle she gonna through herself on her sword." Eph teased as I handed little Gabrielle to Melosa.
"Somehow I doubt it." I replied as I went inside. I returned to the porch and handed the sword and scabbard to Melosa retrieving the baby as I did. The blade was heavy and almost as long as she was tall, but she cradled it in her arms and managed it very well. "Be careful and walk back to her with it. If I find out you tried to run with it Ill turn you over my knee."
"Yes maam." She very carefully walked away with the sword.
It wasnt long before the sound of metal clashing against metal could be heard ringing through the air. I cocked my head and listened. I knew the tone of her blade. "Shes sparring with two people. My guess would be Ep." I listened for a moment longer. "And Hercules I think."
"Lets go see shall we?" Eph asked as she scooped the twins up.
We walked to the clearing at the side of the house. All of our family and friends stood in a circle watching. Sure enough in the middle of the circle the three of them sparred back and forth. Herc and Ep against Xena, I watched her twirl her sword as she moved in a circle try to keep them both in sight. Eph handed Kessa to Autolycus.
"Aw Zeus bolts. What am I suppose to do with her?" He asked as he looked down at Kai who was wrapped firmly around his leg.
"If you give her a hug shell hug you back." I said to him with a grin.
He looked at Kessa and smiled and brought her up for a little hug. She wrapped her arms around his neck and hugged him back and gave him a kiss on the cheek. For just a moment I thought I saw the thief blush. Then Kessa became far to interested in his mustache.
"Owww " He grimaced as she grabbed at his mustache. Cyrene came over and relieved the thief of the baby.
"Come on sweetheart. Come to grandma. Uncle Auto has had enough."
"Thanks Cyrene. I owe you." He said as he trudged of towards the casks of wine with Kai still wrapped around his leg.
"My son is going to grow up the be a thief I just know it." I mumbled as I watched them together. Other than Xena and I there was no one in the world that Kai loved as much as he seemed to love Autolycus. Every time he came to visit we practically had to peel the boy off of him. Autolycus never complained and he would actually spend most of his time carrying Kai around on some part of his body.
I turned back to the sparring match. Of course Xena and Hercules were evenly matched and Ep was almost as good as Xena, together they might actually stand a chance of defeating her. I looked down at my granddaughter who had some how managed to fall asleep even with all the noise around her.
By the time I had put the baby down and changed into a long robe for the party I could hear that it had already started. I stepped back out on the porch and looked out into the yard. Tyldus had arrived with a few of the men from the centaur village. Melosa sat perched on his back as he and Xena discussed something or the other. Autolycus and Iolus where sitting on a long bench, drinking and drawing something in the dirt with sticks. Salmoneus and Cyrene where at a table with a group of amazons eating and laughing. All in all it looked like everyone was having a good time.
I stepped out into the yard and joined the party. Hercules came over and handed me a cup of wine. "Everyones having a great time Gabrielle. Thanks for inviting us."
"Thanks for coming. We havent had a chance to get everyone together like this in a long time. I couldnt think of a better reason."
"Neither can I. Is she really f "
"Dont say it!" I warned him. "If she hears you itll take me another three candle marks to get her back out of bed." I realized that didnt come out quite right and I could feel myself blush. "I didnt say that right." I grinned.
"Its okay I know what you meant I think. So shes not happy about it huh?"
"Well she never expected to make it. I think its shock to her system more than anything."
"You two are very lucky."
"You dont need to tell me that. I look out in this yard and I see everything I ever really wanted. Its amazing that sometimes people never know what they need until they have it. In all the years we were on the road, all the things we went through I never thought this was possible. Now that I have it I wouldnt want anything else. I dont need anything else."
"Not if changing even the smallest thing would keep me from this."
He put his arm around me and gave me a gentle hug. "Congratulations."
Her voice cut in from behind us. "Hey buddy thats my wife youve got your arm around."
He turned us to face her, never taking his arm from my shoulder. "Yeah and what are you going to do about it." He teased.
"Want your butt kicked again do ya?" She said grinning as she approached and stood toe to toe, nose to nose with him.
"You and what army?"
"I dont need an army for you."
"No I guess you probably dont." He conceded and removed his arm, taking my hand and placing it in Xes he gave her a soft kiss on the cheek. "Congratulations my friend."
He smiled at me, winked and left us alone.
She pulled me into her arms. "You know what?"
"This is great." She smiled that broad smile I loved so very much. This was definitely one for those scrolls.