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.
Spoilers: Minor spoiler for "The Quest".
Other: Part Seventy-eight in the series "Raising Melosa". Takes place about three days after "A First Time For Everything."
The Search Begins
I looked down at her sleeping in the bed, she so peaceful and so happy. She still has the silly little grin on her face that I put there last night. Before I strap on my swords I kneel next to the bed and as the breeze flutters the tent walls. I brush back her hair from her face she stirs a little. I know I have to tell her what Ive done to her. I just dont know how. Right now isnt the time. We still have a traitor to flush out. One thing at a time.
"Ri?" I give her shoulder a little shake.
"You were expecting someone else?" I chuckle as she opens her eyes. She just gives me a smile before she snuggles back down in the thick furs and closes her eyes again. "Are you going with me this morning? You said you wanted to."
"You know I want to." She stretches as she smiles again. "But do we have to go right now?"
I draw back just a little and give her a look. "Ri be good. I need to go and make sure that the rest of Delcars men have broken camp. Ep told me we still had a few stragglers yesterday."
"Oh so youd rather go down and chase around nasty soldiers that come back to this." She raises the blanket. All I can do is groan at the sight before me. "Ri you are truly a bad influence on me."
She sits up and begins unfastening my tunic. "Now what makes you say that?"
"Ri ." I grin as her hands slip it from my shoulders.
Standing on top of the crest, I watch as a few dozen men still mill about in what is left of the camp. Ri is to my left and Tyldus is to my right. "What do you think Xena?" He asks as he shifts his hind legs and crosses his arms.
"They probably just dont know what to do with themselves now. Ive seen it happen before. The only life they ever knew is gone. Now they just dont know what to do."
"Well, darling I got to tell you Im not comfortable having them this close to the village." Ri offers as she pulls her cloak around her shoulders.
"Im not either Ri."
Tyldus turns to me. "If their willing to give up their swords for the time being we could try to make them a part of my village."
"Are you sure you want to risk it?"
"No Im not sure, but I hate to see any man without a place to go or a place to call home. I also think that our own army is strong enough to handle any problems we might encounter."
"Would you like to make the gesture or shall I?"
"No, no Ill do it. Ill take down a small group and see if theyre interested. Can you leave me a few warriors just in case?"
I glance to Ri who lifts her brows. "Hey you command the troops. Its your decision."
I turn back to my friend and ally. "We can do that. Two dozen do it?"
"Well be back in the village if you need us."
"Thank you my friend." He offers me his hand before we part.
"As always youre welcome and thank you for your help."
He laughs as Ri and I turn away from him. "Like you needed my help."
Finally back in the village Ri and I call Eph, Ep, Sol and Mel into a meeting. As Ri and I settle down at a table to wait for the others, several women bring in trays of food and pitchers of tea. I move to the table were the food is being served and taste each dish.
Ri joins me, placing her hand on my arm. "What are you doing?"
"Tasting the food."
"Youre looking for poison arent you?"
"Un-huh." I offer as I pour a little tea from the first pitcher and taste it.
"Xe this is ."
I turn to her and hold up my hand. "Dont tell me its silly Ri. Somebody tried to kill you and we still havent found that somebody yet."
"So you should take the chance?"
"Yup thats what a good Champion does love." I smile down at her as I pour from a second pitcher.
"So you decided to take on this responsibility yourself?
"No arguments Ri. Until we find the person responsible for the attempt. Im the royal food taster."
She just shakes her head as she picks up a small piece of venison. "Have you tasted this yet?"
"Yup its safe."
She places it between her teeth and offers me the other end. "Care to taste it again?"
How can I resist that? I lean over and capture her lips on a kiss as we share the meat.
"Oh Gods please!" Mel groans as she enters the chamber. "Do you two ever stop?"
I just wave my hand at her, refusing to give up Ris kiss.
"Please?" She whines as she makes her way over to the table.
I straighten up and brush my thumb across those wonderful lips as I smile at my wife. Then I turn to our daughter. "Like you should talk. Who was that I saw checking every tooth in your head the other day?"
"Mel?" Ri crosses her arms.
Oh, did I forget to mention that to Ri? I grin as Mel.
"Umm yes?" Mel shoots me a look as she fidgets while fixing a plate.
"Something I should know?"
"Ask her. Shes just dying to tell you now that she can embarrass me."
"Xe?" Now shes staring at me.
"Oh not much to tell really. I walked into the healers tent the other day to find your daughter engaged in a rather intense little kiss with the healers apprentice."
I can tell, by the look on her face, Ri is ready to get in on the game. She nods thoughtfully as she picks up a plate and begins preparing her own food.
"My daughter? When did she become my daughter?" She looks at me as she places a piece of meat on her plate.
"When she became a sex maniac."
"Oh Gods spare me!" Mel grumbles as she takes her plate to a table and throws herself in a chair.
"So who do you suppose kissed who?" Ri questions as she continues to fix a plate.
"Oh I think Mel started it. She had her arms wrapped around Celia like she was going to hold on forever."
"I did not. She kissed me first!"
"Un-huh." I just roll my eyes.
"Well that alone makes her different from you Xe."
"What?" I cock my head slightly as I watch Ri move to the table and take a seat next to Mel.
"You kissed me first."
She nods as she sips her tea. "Umm-hmm. You sure did."
"When you were in Autolycus body."
"Ah true." I take a seat next to her. "But when we got back to the village who threw themselves into my arms?"
"Okay, okay," Mel throws her hand up. "Do you mind? I really dont want to know more about your sex life than I already do thanks."
"Right. Why should we talk about ours when we can talk about yours." Ri grins at me with a nudge as Mel drops her head.
"I do not have a sex life. It was one little kiss for Zeus sake."
I lean over to Ri. "It wasnt that little."
"Aww come on Mel lighten up. Were just joking." Ri pats Mels arm. "So are you serious about Celia?"
I nearly choke on my tea trying to hold back the comment I want to make. Since Ri has decided to let the conversation take a more serious turn I go with it.
"Id like to be." Mel offers softly. "Im just not sure if she wants to be. I mean the kiss was very nice, but well aww I dont know."
"Have you seen her since?" I ask as I tear off a piece of bread.
"Yeah, well sort of. I mean weve run into each other but we havent spent anytime together."
"She hasnt asked to." Mel stabs at a vegetable on her plate.
Now I have to laugh. "Mel honey shes waiting for you."
"Waiting for me to what?"
"To start courting her for Artemis sake."
"Court her! Im suppose to court her?"
Ri nods. "Yes dear if you are serious about her."
"Since you are a Princess of the nation. Sweetheart it wouldnt be proper for her to pursue you."
"She kissed me!"
"Yes, to open the door so to speak. Now you have to walk through it." I offer as I sip my tea.
"Oh, I just dont believe this." She lets her head drop just a bit as she spears another carrot. "So," She looks to Ri. "Did you court Mother?"
"Nah she was easy."
"Well you were." Ri turns to me with a leer. "You basically just threw yourself at my feet.
"Ri! Stop it."
"No, no Mom go on. Im starting to enjoy this." Suddenly Mel is sitting up very straight and drinking her tea as she stares at me.
Ri laughs when she realizes what she has started. "Nah you didnt want to discuss our sex life remember."
"Better than discussing mine." Mel retorts.
Ri leans forward on her arms and looks to Mel. "Thought you didnt have one."
Mel just groans again.
"Ah young love." I cant help but snicker as I eat.
"I think its sweet." Ri grins again as she runs her fingers through Mels hair.
Whats sweet?" Eph pipes up as she comes in to join us.
"Mels in love." I offer as I get up to pour another mug of tea.
"Oh shes not the only one." Eph joins me at the table and drops her voice just a bit. "Delia tells me that her niece is walking around with a pretty silly little grin too. I guess Celia really has it bad for Mel."
"Hear that Mel. Celias pining away for you." I chuckle as I pour more tea. "Better get to it. Shes probably just waiting for you to sweep her off her feet."
"Oh she is." Eph agrees with a nod.
"Hey was this meeting all for the sole purpose of prying into my not yet started love life?"
"No actually is wasnt, it was just a nice distraction." I tell her as I retake my seat. "When Ep and Sol get here we need to figure out how we are going to flush out a potential murderer."
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