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.
Other: Part Fifty-three in the series "Raising Melosa". Takes place right after "Something Wicked ."
By T. Novan
I stood in the middle of the room looking at the box as I fingered the key. I looked to Mom who sighed as she lifted her brows at me. Then I turned to Mother who sat at the table looking really upset. I knew this box had caused a fight between them and I hated that. They didnt really fight and it generally turned the house on the its ear when it happened.
Since I had left home and Theran had come and gone again Kai, Kessa and Rosa told me that things were really bad at times at home. They told me that Mother was really irritable and that our moms were bickering more. This truly concerned me. Concerned me enough that I moved home. Something was not right here. Mom was still concerned enough about Therans warning that several members of the Royal Guard were posted around the house day and night.
"So," I looked to Mom. "You think I should open it?"
"Absolutely. Aphrodite says these are gifts for you. I think we should see what they are."
I turned to Mother. "And you disagree?"
"I personally think we should toss the damn thing in the lake. Whatever is in there cant be good." She growled as she poured a cup of wine.
I swallowed hard. I had noticed right after returning home that she had started drinking more. Normally a cup of wine in the evening was all we ever saw her drink, but lately she seemed to always have a cup in her hand.
I really wanted to know what was in the box, but I didnt want to set Mother off either. I glanced back and she stared at me and drained the cup. I rubbed the key between my thumb and finger, looked back one last time then turned, knelt down and slipped it into the lock. It clicked open as I turned the key. I heard a grumble from across the room designed to make me shake. It did. I hesitated for a moment then pulled the lock from the clasp.
"Mel," She growled as I heard her stand up. "Dont do this. Im begging you. Please sweetheart dont do this."
"Xe she has a right to know whats in the box."
"Damn it Gabrielle. Why have you taken to questioning everything I say?" She approached Mom standing close to her with a glare on her face.
"Oh stop right there Warrior! You will not speak to me like that. I am your wife and your partner. I am not your slave. Youre starting to sound like my father when he talked to my mother. I wont put up with it!"
"Youll do as I say ."
"No! Dont even go there. Dont finish that sentence. If you do ."
I jumped to my feet and moved between them. "All right! Please dont fight." I drew a deep breath and turned to Mother. "Surely there cant be anything wrong with opening it and looking. It doesnt mean I have to accept them or keep them. If you think there is anything wrong with the things in the box Ill help you throw it in the lake."
She looked down at me with anger built into her features as she breathed hard. "Youre going to do whatever you want anyhow. This entire family has taken to disobeying me lately ."
"All right Xe that does it!" Mom moved forward just a bit. "Leave. Now! Take a walk and get some fresh air."
"Oh no," She laughed maniacally. "I will not be forced out of my own home ."
"You will leave until you calm down or I will call the Royal Guard to remove you."
"Oh try it!" She growled as she took another step toward Mom. "Ill enjoy tearing them apart."
Doing my best to keep from shaking I put a hand on Mothers arm. She looked down at me. "Mother please just go take a walk and calm down. We dont need to get the Royal Guard involved and you dont need to leave. Maybe just a little fresh air ."
She jerked her arm from my hand. "Fine. You want me out. Im out!" She turned on her heals and headed for the door, but not before she grabbed the wine jug on her way out. I exhaled a heavy breath as the door slammed behind her.
"That went well ." I chuckled as I leaned on the couch on very shaky legs.
"I swear Mel I dont know what has come over her lately."
"Are you scared?"
"No. Im not scared of her. Im scared for her." She took a deep breath and smiled at me. "Come on lets see whats in the box."
Returning to the box we lifted the lid. I pulled out a black pair of knee boots, matching leather trousers and leather tunic with half sleeves. Mom took the items, setting them aside as we continued to explore the contents. Next came grieves and bracers. After that armor leggings and a solid breastplate and back armor. I didnt take the time to really look at them as I pulled them from the box.
There were still several items in the box. I smiled when I saw it. I wrapped my hand around it and pulled the ornate staff from the box. I knew immediately and I twisted it at the center. As I did I heard a click and it pulled apart. Just as I had envisioned it, the staff came apart to reveal the sword inside.
"Mel that is positively the sneakiest thing I have ever seen. How did you know?"
"Because I thought of it, but I couldnt find anyone who could make it." I smiled as I put it back together and finished emptying the box. I found two boot daggers and two daggers that would be worn in a belt at the small of my back. There was also another wooden box that was cubed shaped.
"Well youre armed to the teeth." She grinned as she held up one of the daggers.
"So it would seem." I took the last item from the box, a scroll tied shut with a black silk ribbon. I removed the ribbon and slowly unrolled the parchment.
Hey little cous! I really wanted to like offer you an apology for that whole mess with Ares. I felt really bad when he managed to nab you. So, I had Hephie do up some things I thought a little warrior like yourself could use.
The leathers and armor are very special. They were made to fit you now and will continue to grow with you. They are also self-repairing if damaged, but thats not very likely considering that Hephie made them for you.
Okay the sharp pointy things, that wicked little weapon that youve had rolling around in that mind of yours. Very scary little cous, but I can see how it would be effective. You have your mothers warrior mind. The daggers are just perks, but do try to take care of them.
See ya later,
"Hmm. Interesting." I mumbled as I handed the note to Mom. "So what do you think?"
"I think you should see this." She grinned as she handed me the cubed box.
Looking inside I found a miniature of my upper armor that had been crafted for Rilex. "Oh brother." I picked the little armor plates out of the box. "He probably wouldnt be able to get off the ground with this on."
"Youll never know until you try."
"You umm think I should keep these things then."
"Yes Mel I do. Why dont you try them on?"
"Not at all. Go on go put your leathers on and then Ill help you get into the armor."
It felt odd to be wearing leathers of this nature. They were thick and somewhat heavy, but they moved well and I was comfortable in them. I looked myself over. Dark high boots, heavy trousers and the leather tunic. The sleeves came to just above my elbows, everything fit like a glove. I snapped the belt in place adjusting the daggers in my back for comfort. They fit well there and I had easy access to them. As I opened the door back into the main room Mom turned to me and smiled.
"Its a good look for you Mel." She nodded appreciatively. "I like the fact that it covers your legs so completely. Can you move all right?"
"I seem to."
"Good. Lets see about this armor." She picked up the leggings and examined them. "Hmm lots of practice with breastplates but this is kind of new to me. Come here lets see if I can get it figured out." I moved to her, she looked me over for a moment then examined the leggings. "Ah I got it."
She approached me from the side and drew her arms around my waist. She fastened the side buckle, which left the front and back plates of leggings dangling from my waist. Then she knelt down and fastened the buckles around each leg drawing the plates together. The design protected not only my thighs, but my stomach and my backside too. I rather liked that. I bent at the knees to try them. I nodded as she picked up the breastplate and slipped it over my head. After fastening the side buckles she fastened the buckles that held it to the leggings. Twisting from side to side I found that I could move very easily.
"This is nice." I grinned as I bent to tuck the boot dagger away.
"Its beautiful too. Did you notice the design on the front of the breastplate."
"No actually." I looked down at my chest. The armor looked as if it were made of pure gold. Etched into the center of the breastplate, Mothers chakram and in the center of that, Moms royal seal. All around it, images of the Gods, Zeus lightening bolts, Hades helmet, Poseidons trident along with Athenas shield, Apollos chariot, Artemis owl, and a design I decided must belong to Aphrodite because it was just a touch on the racy side. I pointed to that design. "Is that even possible?"
Mom leaned over for a better look. "With a little practice yes."
"Hmm no doubting my family line is there?" I smiled at her at I ran my finger over the chakram and the seal.
"Not for one moment."
"So you think I should keep them?"
She picked up my new staff and wrapped my hands around it before cupping my face in her hands. "Yes. Yes I do. You are a warrior and these are a warriors tools. Use them wisely." She kissed me on the forehead. When she drew back I saw a single tear running down her cheek.
"Mom? Whats wrong?"
"Nothing. Nothing at all Mel. You have become everything you wanted and I am so proud of you."
"Thanks. It feels good, but its so different from Amazon gear."
"This is the gear of a warrior who travels. We knew a long time ago that we wouldnt be able to hold you here. You probably dont remember when you were a baby and you ran away do you?"
"I did not."
"Oh yes you did." She smirked at me as she moved to the table for her tea. "You had your Mother scared witless. She looked for you all over the place. We were half out of our minds with worry. Do you know where we found you?"
"In the stables hiding under Argos blanket."
"Oh come on ."
Mothers voice carried from the front door. "Its true. You got away from me one morning and ." She came over to the couch where she took a seat as she took my hands into her own. "You took off. I couldnt find you. I was going crazy." Tears welled in her eyes as she rubbed my hands. "I never would have forgiven myself if something had happened to you Mel." She brought my hands to her lips and kissed them as she closed her eyes and the tears fell. "I love you."
"I love you too."
She smiled and opened her eyes. "You know," She looked me up and down. "It looks good on you. I like it."
"Thanks. Do you still want to toss it in the lake?"
"Nah. I think it will do you more good above water."
I laid my staff aside and hugged her. She wrapped her arms around my waist, laying her cheek to my breastplate. "Thank you." I whispered to her. She just nodded.
A few moments later I excused myself and headed for bed after saying goodnight to the both of them.
When I got up in the morning I was shocked to find Mother asleep on the couch. Never in my life had I known my parents to willingly sleep apart. Mother even joked that Mom may have even written a law to keep it from happening. I stopped and considered her as she slept. Dark circles were forming under eyes and she looked so drawn and tired. By the Gods there was something not right here. It was my Mothers body, but it was not my Mothers soul.
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