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: Yeah a little bit
Other: Part Ninety-two in the series "Raising Melosa". Takes place about a three days "A Time to Mourn".
Hoping for the Best
I smiled down at my wife as I exhaled with great relief. Finally, it was over and we were married again. "I love you Ri."
She smiled up at me as she caressed my face. "You must, youve married me three times now."
"Ill do it a thousand times more if I have to."
"No, Id like to think this was the last time."
I smiled as I caressed her cheek and kissed her. "The offer stands."
"Ill keep it in mind."
"You do that."
She turned to the priestess who had performed our ceremony privately in the temple. I turned when I caught someone out of the corner of my eye. Standing in the doorway of the temple was Mel. She had the sun streaming in behind her and all I could really see was her outline. Without a word she turned and left.
I felt Ris hand slip into mine as we start out of the temple. "Mel was here."
"In the door watching the ceremony."
"Oh Gods Xe."
"It was her choice Ri. Thats why we said it was private. She watched us get married because she wanted to, not because she had to."
"Xe honey, I know we had planned to go away together after the wedding, but I just dont feel right leaving Mel right now." She curled her hand over my upper arm, getting closer to me as we walked outside."
"Neither do I."
"Why dont we ask her to come with us. Maybe getting away from here is what she needs."
"That, my love, is a grand idea. Should we tell her to invite a friend if she would like?"
"Yeah, yeah I think thats a good idea too. That way she wont be alone and we can have some help keeping an eye on her."
It took some convincing on our part, but Ri and I managed to talk Mel into coming with us on our trip. She asked another young warrior named Shadoan to come with us. She was one Mels best friends, sort of like Ep and Sol were to me. They grew up and trained together and they knew they could trust each other with their lives. I knew she would be happy to help us with Mel and we had a private chat before we left. She confided that she too, had been worried about Mel and would be happy to go with us to help out.
The first night we stopped I thought it was rather funny to find Ri standing over me with her hands on her hips as I unrolled our bedrolls and straightened out our bed. "Whaat?" I shrugged as I moved to my knees to face her.
"It occurs to me that were sleeping on the ground." She grinned down at me as she draped her arms over my shoulders.
"Okay," She sighed as she dropped to the ground and into my arms. "I admit it, Im spoiled now. Im gonna miss our big, soft bed."
I laughed as I kissed the top of her head. "Well, thats what Im here for, one warrior mattress. Youre the one who said you wanted to do this without a lot of fuss and gear."
"One word. Stupid."
I laughed again as I dropped my head for a kiss, which was stopped before it got started as Mel and Shadoan returned to camp with our evening meal. Ri had suddenly become very uncomfortable with us being affectionate in front of Mel and she pulled back from me, getting to her feet to go meet them instead.
After we ate we all sat around the campfire drinking tea and tending to weapons. Poor Ri even took to sharpening the one dagger she carried in the back of her belt. We sat apart on a log, with about and arms length between us. Mel and Shadoan sat across from us. It was a little more than tense.
"You know," Mel said softly as she raised her head. "I grew up watching you two love each other. Everyday of my life. Even when you fought, you loved each other. Thats why your fights last all of a flame flicker." She smiled a little as a tear slid down her cheek. She wiped it away as she laughed just a little. "I dont know why you bother, you cant stay mad at each other. Ive seen you try."
She continued to smile at us as she gave her head a little shake and her eyes looked into the sky. "Youre always touching each other. Little touches that you dont even notice anymore, but you still do them because you sure as Tartarus notice when they are not there," She turned to me and pointed as another tear slid down her cheek. "You get really bitchy if you dont have enough contact with Mom during the day."
"I do not ."
"Oh, Oh but you do. You have an entire village that just trembles in their feathers when you come storming in if you havent had your allotment of time with Mom through the day." She laughed as she caught a tear before it fell. "And you," She turned to Ri. "You get distracted."
"I get what?"
"You get distracted and you start staring out the window, waiting for her to come find you." She stood up and poured a cup of tea then she sat back down next to her friend and smiled across the fire at us. "You probably dont know you hold hands at the evening meal do you?"
"We do not." I laughed a little."
"Oh yeah you do and you have every night that youve eaten together that I can remember. You two are always touching each other, a hand on the arm or in the small of a back. Or my personal favorite is the very relaxed embrace that you two have perfected over the seasons. Mom, you stand on her right with your left hand on Mothers back and your right on her stomach. Mother you always start with your right hand on Moms right shoulder and your left hand verrrryyy gently embrace her arm across you stomach. Then you begin stroking your hand up and down her back while her thumb runs up and down your stomach. The perfect thing about this embrace is you two do it when youre standing still and when youre walking."
I looked to Ri and grinned as Mel continued.
"You taught me to love. So please dont stop now. Dont feel like you have to be apart from each other because of what happened. I lost Celia. I dont want to lose that too. Learning from you is what gave me the capacity to love her like I did." Her tears fell now as she smiled. "Dont stop touching each other because I cant be with Celia."
Ri wiped away a tear as she slid down the log so that our sides touched. "Better?"
Mel nodded. "Its a start."
Shadoan and Mel made their camp some distance from ours. I didnt protest for two reasons. The first one was pretty obvious. The second one was, I wanted Mel to feel free to open up to her friend before she totally exploded from the pressure that was building in her soul. I could see it and I could feel it. I noticed during the evening that her hands were shaking. She was going to have to relieve some of the pressure somehow or we were in for major problems very soon.
As Ri curled into my arms she sighed as she took one last look toward Mels camp. "Is she going to be all right?"
"You know she will be. Its just going to take time and Im afraid that it might not be pretty."
"Ive been afraid of that. Did you see her shaking?"
"Oh yeah. She wants to fight. She wants to rid herself of all the guilt and anger shes feeling and she doesnt know how."
"Do you think shes going to challenge you again?"
"More than likely. She knows deep down she cant hurt me and that I wont hurt her. Im a safe fight."
"I hate this."
"I know I do too." I kissed the top of her head as I pulled her close. "Mels always been a good kid. Now shes hurt and frustrated and all that energy has to go somewhere. I have a feeling the road is going to get a little bumpy for us for a while. This is not the honeymoon I had planned for us."
"That we can do anytime. This is far more important."
"Oh I agree."
Getting into a small town the next evening was a good thing too. We all wanted a soft bed and a hot bath. I also knew Ri was looking forward to doing a little shopping the next day. She has some things in mind that she wanted and needed. She was also bound and determined to find a book for Kai. I wasnt sure that she was going to be able to do that here, but she seemed pretty sure. Whatever made her happy.
I know I was perfectly happy as I settled into a hot tub of water for a long and welcome bath. I sank into the tub with my head back and my eyes closed when the door opened. Listening told me it was Mel.
"Whats up runt?"
"Umm Shadoan and I are going out for a while okay?"
"We may be back late."
"Youre a big girl. You dont need my permission."
"Just letting you know."
"Thanks." I took a deep breath and sighed. "Do you need money?"
"Nah its covered."
"Listen, Im really sorry about ."
I held up my hand and held it out to her. As she took it I gave hers a little squeeze. "Nothing to be sorry for runt."
"Thats what Im here for."
"Still, I know Im not easy to live with right now."
"Yeah, well like Ive been a joy all your life."
She laughed a little as she released my hand. "See ya later pal."
"Have a good time and umm ."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah. Stay out of trouble. I know." She laughed again as she left.
I sighed as I dropped my head back again. For some reason I had a feeling that trouble was still lurking and Mel was gonna find it. The door opened again. Gods what does it take to get a quiet bath these days?
I leaned forward in the tub as the robe hit the floor. She slid in behind me and pulled me back. I slid down a little so that my head rested right below her chin. She kissed me on the top of the head then rested her chin there.
"How is she?" She whispered as she made herself more comfortable.
"An explosion waiting to happen."
"Did she tell you where they were going?"
"No and I didnt ask."
"Shadoan tells me theyre headed for the tavern."
"Oh great. Tomorrow well have a depressed and hung over daughter."
"Thought you might want a heads up so you can have your remedy ready for her tomorrow."
"Maybe Ill just let her suffer through her first hangover on her own."
"No you wont. You should, but you wont."
"Okay, okay youre right I wont." I handed her a rag. "Make yourself useful."
I just flipped a little water back at her and held the rag out. Which she took, right before she pushed me under the water.
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