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.
Sex: Nothing graphic
Other: Part Forty in the series "Raising Melosa". Takes about six months after "Following Her Heart".
I lay awake in the bed, holding the bard in my arms. She is still asleep, snuggled close to me. Her breath tickles my neck as she takes the long deep breaths that signal to me that she is so very sound asleep. I smiled as I held her close to me taking a deep relaxing breath and finding myself content to just remain here and hold her. There is no need to get up. Nothing pressing here that requires my attention.
A knock on the door of our room I lift my head, calling as quietly as possible so I wont disturb Ri. "Come in."
Mel entered and I signaled for her to be quiet pointing to her mother. She nodded her understanding and approached my side of the bed and knelt down.
"Whats up runt?" I grinned at my eldest daughter.
"Sappho wants to take us down to the beach for a swim is it all right?"
"Un-huh. Just be good. Tell Kai that you two are to keep an eye on your sisters."
"Well be down later."
"Ah rest, relax, enjoy " She grinned at me and gave me a kiss before pushing off the side of the bed and making her retreat from the room.
I pulled Ri close to me again and relaxed into her. She stirred and murmured into my neck. "Is she gone?" She mumbled as she kissed me.
"Umm-hmm. Why do you ask?"
"I suggest we take her advice and enjoy."
"I think I could go for that."
"Glad to hear it Warrior." She nipped at my neck as her hands traveled elsewhere.
As we walked toward the beach hand in hand, the laughter of our children guided us. This vacation was just what we needed. When we received Sapphos invitation to come for a visit it was just too good to pass up. The last time Ri and I had been here was for a short but blissful honeymoon after our joining. Her duties as queen made trips from the village difficult at first. Then our children came along at regular intervals and traveling with them when they were younger was just something that we didnt consider.
Now with Mel almost eleven seasons, Kai at nine and the girls at seven it was much easier to get away. The only major problems with the trip thus far had been the fact that Ri still suffered from seasickness and she didnt enjoy the trip at all. We had been on solid land for two days now and she was a much happier woman. From my estimation as I looked at her, a very happy woman. I couldnt help but grin as I thought about waking up next to her this morning.
I returned my gaze down the beach and watched as Kai threw himself headlong into the surf. My thoughts then traveled back to when Ri was pregnant for him, a trip to the ocean nearly cost us our son. A second child would have been lost to us then. I shook my head to clear it of these old memories. They werent important now. My beautiful wife and our children were all that mattered in this paradise. They were all that were important to me it didnt matter where we were.
As we approached, our friend she smiled and met us. "Ah Xena, Gabrielle. You have delightful children. They are precious."
"Well theyre on their best behavior at the moment." Gabrielle grinned as she took Sapphos hand and they began to walk away together. "You should live with them full time "
I wandered over to Kessa and Rosa and settled down in the sand next to them as they build up pile after pile. "Having fun?"
"Yes maam." Kessa smiled at me as she piled more sand into place.
"We like it here." Rosa said as she leaned on my back and slung her arms over my shoulders. We had long ago become accustomed to the fact that Rosa spoke for herself and her sister. Kessa very rarely spoke and only said that which was required. Ri and I told ourselves that she would grow out of it but she seemed perfectly content to let her sister speak for her.
"You do huh?" I kissed her hand.
"Un-huh. We think we should stay here."
I chuckled as I craned my neck to look at my daughter. "What about the amazons. They need your mother and one day they will need you too?"
"Well we could just stay until they do."
"Dont think so. How bout a couple of weeks?"
"Well if thats all we can get well take it."
"Glad to hear it." I heard Mel call to me. I turned my head to find her at the edge of a group of trees. "Be right back."
Joining Mel at the edge of the trees I saw what had caught her attention. A hawk chick had fallen from a tree. It had a broken wing and was flailing around in the high grass.
Its hurt " Mel said quietly as she leaned over closer to the bird.
"Dont get too close. Youre right its hurt and in turn it could be dangerous. Why dont you go over to your sisters Ill be over "
"What are you gonna do?"
"Well Mel its not fair to let it suffer "
"Oh no. Im not going to let you do it. We didnt break your neck when you broke your leg."
"Now thats different and you know it. Its hurt Mel and its mother wont have anything to do with it."
"No. Lets try to help it "
"Mel be reasonable "
"Im too much like you to be reasonable. Come on you know Im right. We have to at least try." She stripped off her outer tunic and dropped it over the chick scooping it up. "Please?"
Going against my better judgment I agreed to help her. We headed back to the guest house together and tended to our little patient. Two candle marks later we have a loud, hungry hawk chick with a splinted broken wing.
"Its hungry you know."
"Im considering that problem."
"Theyre meat eaters youre going to have to chew up some worms or something." I grinned and wiggled my eyebrows at her.
"Well eeewww " She gave me a little shove. "We have to figure something else out."
"Well," I ran my hands through my hair as I watched the chick crane its neck at my daughter demanding food. "We could see if we can get it to eat some small fish. Bundle it up and lets go down to the tide pool."
As we walked down to the beach it became very clear that the little orphan had adopted my daughter as its mother and I was now caught up in its survival too. I wonder as we walk toward the water how I got myself into these things. I stepped into a tidal pool and began looking for small fish. As I stood there bent over preparing to try and snatch some nourishment for the bird Ri came over wearing a very silly grin.
"What are you doing?" She hadnt noticed the bird yet.
I looked up and just pointed at Mel. "Ask your daughter."
"Shes catching a fish for my bird."
Mel pulled back the tunic and showed the chick to her mother. "We found it in the tall grass. It fell out of its nest."
"We didnt find anything. You found it and roped me into helping you." I defended myself even as I continued to look for fish.
"Nobody put a crossbow to your head you know."
"Oh sure " I mumbled as I snatched up a couple of small fish. I waded out of the water and gave them to Mel. "Here you go."
"Now what?" She asked as she watched them wiggle around in her hand.
"Well now youve got to get it to eat them." Ri offered as she reached for the fish. She very gently offered the fish to the little bird. Stroking its throat with her finger as she did. The chick wasnt doing to bad a job taking in the food being offered. She managed to get both fish down its throat and turned to me with a smile. "Nothing to it."
I watched as the bird folded itself up for a nice nap. Curling its little body into the tunic and close to Mel. "Well kiddo youve managed to take on some serious responsibility there. I would suggest that you start figuring out what youre going to do with it now."
She pursed her lips and nodded. "Yup. Any suggestions?" She grinned at me. I could tell she was expecting me to bail her out of this one.
"Nope. You found it. Its yours." I looked to Ri who just smiled and winked at me. She knew what I was doing.
She sighed. "Yeah okay. Im going up to the house and look for something to put it in."
"Well that would be a step in the right direction."
She grinned and rolled her eyes. "Thanks. Youre a big help "
"My pleasure anytime." I laughed aloud as she turned and walked away.
Ri slipped her hand into mine and gave it a little tug. "That was almost mean."
"Nope she needs to learn that if she wants the responsibility then she is indeed going to take it. Im not going to be around to bail her out for the rest of her life."
"Hey just keep those sentiments to yourself warrior. Dont you know we expect you to be around forever?" She smiled at me as she placed a gentle hand on my cheek followed by a soft kiss to my lips.
"Well since Ive got you taking such good care of me. I guess youre stuck with me."
"Yeah I knew the dangers of feeding you that first time. My mother tried to tell me that if you feed a stray itll stick around forever."
"A stray? Seems to me you were the stray my little bard. Werent you the one that followed me?"
She waved her hand at me. "Ah details, details. Its been what? Fifteen seasons now "
I growled just a little as I arched my brow and gave her a "hurt" look. "Seventeen."
"Who can remember the little details." She grinned at me as she back up slowly.
"Hmm I get it." I walked toward her matching her grin and her own slow pace. "You want to play huh?"
"Did I say that?" She smiled wider as she continued to back up.
"The implication is there." I lurched after her and caught her around the waist hoisting her into my arms.
"Put me down brat!"
"Nope not gonna do it." I leaned in and captured her lips for a kiss. She wrapped her arms around my neck, returning the kiss as the sea breeze caressed both our bodies. We broke the kiss and our eyes locked. Funny, after so many seasons I still could get lost in her eyes. "Still want me to put you down?"
"No actually Im quite comfortable right here thanks, always have been." She tightened her arms around my neck.
"Yeah but you know what this means dont you " I started for the waters edge.
"Oh dont you dare!" Funny for someone who was so comfortable just a moment ago she was squirming now. "Xe stop! I swear if you do this I will retaliate."
I chuckled silently as I walked into the water. "Oh Im sooo scared." I entered up to my knees and drew her back. "Ri let go of my neck."
"Nope. Im not going into that water Xe."
"Yes you are."
"No Im not."
"Oh yes you are." I simply threw us both into the water. She let go as we went under. As I surfaced I got a face full of water.
"You are such a rat." She laughed as she splashed me again.
I drew my hand back under the water and sent a handful her direction. That did it. We ended up in a splashing fight that didnt appear to have an ending coming anytime soon.
"What are you two doing?" Sappho called to us from the shore laughing as she approached.
"Im about to drown a warrior." Gabrielle called back as she eyed me.
"Oh just try it." I snickered at her as I splashed her again.
"Has it completely slipped by you two that you are fully dressed?" Sappho sat down on the beach as she continued to watch us.
"And your point would be what?" I asked never taking my eyes off Ri as she began to circle me looking for an opening.
"No point. If you like to swim with your clothes on, who am I to criticize? You people from the mainland always have had strange habits." She just shook her head. "Just so you know the mid day meal will be ready in about a half a candle mark."
"Plenty of time to drown you and then go have a nice meal." Gabrielle growled as she lunged for me, wrapping her arm around my waist and throwing me back into the water.
When we surfaced we came up together locked in another kiss, wrapped in each others arms.
"Oh yeah thats effective." Sappho laughed again as she stood up and brushed the sand from her gown.
We broke the kiss and turned for the shore. Walking hand and hand out of the water we just grinned at our friend.
"You two are a little strange. You do know that dont you?"
"Oh yeah," Ri began. "We have a strange and unique relationship. Shes strange and Im unique."
"Oh youre just begging for another bath bard."
We dined with the children, Sappho and her most current flame, a cute but very young woman named Talia. I just bit back a grin as I considered the fact that Sappho was my age and this woman was half that.
"Jealous?" Ri whispered in my ear as she sipped her wine.
"No. A woman that age would kill me." I gave my wife a lopsided little grin as she poked me in the ribs.
"I was that age once."
"Yeah and once or twice you nearly killed me."
"Yeah but what a way to go."
"True itd take em a week to get the smile off my face." I sipped my wine as Ri wound her hand into mine and our fingers interlaced.
"Mother?" Kai came to Ris side and placed his hand on her arm.
"After we finish eating would you take me to the library?"
"Id love to." She smiled at him.
My son, he was so much like Ri. While Mel and I enjoyed getting out into the fresh air and chasing each other through the trees, Ri and Kai would spend candle marks reading and writing. He seemed to have the same natural talent that the bard did. I knew what he was going to do with his life. He would follow her path.
After our meal was finished, Ri took Kai and the twins to the library and Mel and I went to check on the chick. I wasnt surprised to find he was hungry again. I was surprised to find that Mel had already taken care of the problem. She had a pot half full of water with small fish ready for it.
"See Im working it all out." She grinned as she grabbed fish and gave it to the chick.
"So you are. Well done Mel."
"Thanks. So youre going to let me keep it right?" She gave it another fish.
"Mel its still a wild animal. You should release it when its old enough."
She dropped her head and nodded as she watched the chick. "I guess. It would be best for it huh?"
"Un-huh. Its hard to tame a wild thing."
"Oh I dont know Mom did a pretty good job with you." She giggled.
"Oh youre toooo funny." I gave her a light playful slap to the back of the head.
"Umm I have a question for you?"
"Yeah go ahead."
"When we get home can I start training with a blade?"
I sighed as I sat back in my chair and thought about it. "Mel why would you want to do that?"
"Im not going to be queen. So I may as well be a warrior." She turned and looked at me. "Right?"
"Mel take a good look at me." I rolled up the sleeve of my tunic and showed her my arm. "Look at the scars. Is this the kind of life you want?"
"Mother you and I both know its what I want. Why are you so hesitant?"
"Its a hard life Mel. I wanted better for you than living from hand to mouth. Never knowing where the next challenge is coming from "
"You know Ive thought of all that. You did okay."
"Only because of your Mom. She saved me Mel."
"You know you dont give yourself enough credit. Ive read the scrolls. Ive seen the tapestry. You did just as much saving as she did."
I just shook my head. "Thats besides the point."
"Mother Im still a Princess in the nation. If you wont train me I can find someone who will."
"Melosa are you threatening me? Do try to remember who youre talking to. You may be a princess but I am your mother and quite capable of tanning your backside."
"Im sorry that didnt come out right."
"I would agree with you there. Care to try again?"
"What I mean is I know what I want and I want you to help me, but if you dont want to Im sure I could find another trainer."
I remembered a promise I made to Ri a few months ago and I sighed. "All right Mel when we get home."
She stood and wrapped me in a warm hug. "Thank you. I love you."
"I love you too runt."
I lay in bed that night unable to sleep. I must have tossed just one too many times. Ri finally reached out and put her hand on my arm.
"Mel asked today."
She sighed and curled up in the crook of my arm and traced a little pattern on my shoulder. "We knew she would."
"I know." I sighed again.
"If she is bound and determined to chose this path you are the best teacher she could have."
"She just doesnt understand."
"No, but you can make her understand. And you are the only one who can truly prepare her for this life."
"I hope so."
"I have faith warrior. You will probably even find that youre actually going to enjoy this. She has a fire Xena, your passion, your pride. Now all you have to do is teach her your many skills." She laughed softly as she put her hand in mine. "Gods two of you running around."
I chuckled at the thought. "Well I guess this means Ill have to retire."
"Oh sure like that would ever happen."
I hugged her close and kissed the top of her head. "I love you."
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