Disclaimer: This was written as a overnight ‘homework’ assignment for my Beta Reader, MyWarrior, and was my first completed piece of fanfic. Intended as an exercise for those writing areas we felt I was weakest, its creation is entirely due to her, and her encouragement. The characters Xena, Gabrielle, belong to RenPic and MCA, and I have placed them where I think they are happiest, Merwolf’s Xenaverse, except with a few variations based on my novel ‘The Joining’ and takes place about a year after the events told there. Their child is called Lycea. (Apologies to HerBard) I did not ask permission to do this, and it is entirely for my own pleasure, a reminder to parents that children do not ‘belong’ to anyone.
Sex: If two women in love is a problem due to age or residence, please move on.
The Bard’s voice came from underneath the blanket.
BUMP. The attacker prodded her with a rock hard forehead.
"I am really serious" growled the Bard. "I do not need to get up, I do not want to get up. I am not getting up. Go Away." Even half asleep, guilt forced her to add, "I love you. Very much. But, Go... Away."
BUMP. Gabrielle pulled the blankets down revealing a cloudless sky, but her vision was captured by eyes of an even more impressive blue. Blearily, squinting from the sunlight, she spoke to the irritant.
"You are being very BAD."
The full lips pursed into a pout. Another BUMP.
"Ouch! I am NOT getting up."
The blue eyes tightened, and the dark eyebrows raised.
"Oh no. Don’t try giving me THE LOOK. I am the last person, that that is going to work on."
The eyes widened, and the sad pout returned.
"Look, you monster, why don’t you just crawl in here with me, it’s nice, and warm, and we can...." BUMP.
"Up!" The attacker demanded.
The warrior stood on an outcrop overlooking the valley. Her eyes were closed, her stance as firm as the bedrock on which her feet rested. She was aware of each muscle as she stretched and performed her exercises; it was as natural to her as the sensation of sun on her bronzed face.
She opened her eyes at the cry.
"Xenaaa!" There was no alarm or fear in that beloved voice. Only frustration. The warrior only snickered as she looked down on the camp, at the two blonde heads, their faces turning towards her location. But not before she stepped behind the large cypress, hiding herself from their eyes. ‘Your daughter, Gabrielle...’
‘Our daughter,’ she automatically corrected.
The amending was almost a discipline, because although she knew deep in her soul that the child was hers as well, lately she found herself wondering and worrying more and more about to whom the child belonged. To the unknown power that had granted her the singular miracle of ‘fathering’ a child, and would, she feared, someday reveal itself and the true plans for their child? Or the Amazons who cared for their princess when Gabrielle and she traveled? Or the Goddess who had claimed her as her Chosen? Or simply to the Bard she so clearly resembled?
Gabrielle sat up in her bedroll, knowing that her Warrior was in concealment from them. Lycea looked at the identical spot and questioned "Ma?" Gabrielle pulled her daughter into her arms.
"Yes, sweetpea. Ma is hiding from us." The coward, she silently added. She turned the child around to face her, looking directly into the cerulean eyes. "Did you and Ma have a good run this morning?"
Lycea nodded eagerly.
"Then why aren’t you tired?" The child rolled her eyes in another familiar expression, and Gabrielle couldn’t help laugh. "Gods, you are so much like your Ma."
The Bard stood and stretched, glancing about the camp with a mother’s sigh. The addition of a child was clear. Their normally organized layout looked as though it had been ransacked by drunken raccoons.
"Your mother just dropped you off and left, didn’t she?" Lycea again agreed happily.
It wasn’t that leaving her with the sleeping Bard was unsafe, Lycea seemed to have an inner caution against placing things in her mouth, and she never strayed from whichever parent she was told to be near. Handy in any child, it was essential because there was no way to adequately child-proof all of the outdoors. But she also had a natural curiosity that drove her to open any package that was closed. Carefully laid out around the fire was everything they had brought.
Even Argo’s saddle bags were emptied this time.
The child lowered her head, her lips pursing as she stared at the ground. Gabrielle shook her head. How did she get into the saddle bags?
"You’re not even two! How am I going to deal with both of you?" ‘Better than the alternative’ she thought, and like someone afraid of heights being drawn to a cliff, found herself thinking of the alternative, life without this child. The sharp pain of loss was immediate, but completely unbidden came attached the concept of losing Xena again. The wrenching, twisting of her very identity shocked her by its power, and she picked up the child; who, knowing that comfort was being given and asked for, returned the tight embrace.
Xena looked through the trees at the cuddled mother and child. People were always joking about how much the child resembled her, though Xena never understood why. Clearly the child was Gabrielle, more so every day. Xena was not one to pray to the Gods, but this was one of her few prayers that seemed to have been answered. If only for the warrior’s sake. For if the little princess did not take after her soulmate, and share the Bard’s compassion, there would be no chance that she would comprehend how her Ma and the Destroyer of Nations could be one and the same.
No possibility that she would understand, accept and forgive, and Xena could lose her daughter because of her past.
It was with relief she saw that compassion. She thought back to the scene in Amphipolis, when while staying with her mother, there had been an accident. One of the villagers had been kicked by a horse in the stall. The amount of stitching needed on the face alone had taken hours, and had required her full concentration. She had no idea when she finally realized that the soothing presence beside her, holding the victim’s hand, was not Gabrielle. And when the job was completed to her satisfaction, she had felt the tears well-up when she watched the child, only one cycle old, lean over and kiss the undamaged left cheek of her patient. Even now, those tears threatened again, and the warrior smiled to herself. "Mushball."
Gabrielle looked around the camp. Though only a short distance from the Amazon village, they had made sure that it was as complete as though they were leagues from home.
Though both parents were terrified to consider what might happen if Lycea was known to be their child, Athena’s Chosen or not, they knew that traveling without her, or not traveling at all, were not choices they could make. So they had begun to make practice camps within the protection of the Amazon Nation Boundaries, giving up their comfortable bed in the Queen’s hut in order to educate their child.
Cyrene had told Gabrielle that she had only to show Xena how to do something once, and the lesson never needed to be repeated. Now, as she watched as the little one carefully, almost obsessively, stacked their firewood, she wondered again why the Warrior saw the child as resembling the Bard. Where other children in the village her age were still toddling, Lycea ran. When first placed on top of a pony, Lycea chortled with pleasure while Gabrielle cringed. Of course, watching as the child practice THE LOOK in any available mirrored surface...The Bard shook her head and laughed.
Finishing the repacking, she turned to find her daughter presenting her with her baby sack, an apron-type child carrier with four strong ties that could be attached on the back or front with the child nestling inside. Taking the garment from the child and tying the straps loosely about her neck and waist, she lifted her daughter and slid her into the pocket created between the material and her chest. The pleasure both Mother and child felt was tempered by the knowledge that Lycea’s increasing size would soon limit how long the Bard would be capable of a carrying her this way.
The tiny but strong arms gripped her face, and the child ordered firmly. "Ma."
"Never ten words, when one would do, huh? OK, let’s go and give your Ma a taste of Tartarus, shall we?"
Xena watched their slow approach, and though she was invisible to their eyes, there was no hesitation in her partner’s steps in her direction. Lycea’s cheek was resting against the Bard’s right breast, and Xena remembered her irrational resentment of their connection during nursing. How many times had she been able to breast feed Solon? Once, twice? She had known instinctively to wait until the drugs she had been fed during the birthing had left her system, before feeding him. But for reasons she didn’t understand, watching her child approach, thinking of her loss caused more conflicting emotions than even the Warrior Princess could handle.
But it had been such a terribly short time with Solon, so awfully short a time...So small, so perfect and tiny. Helpless. Needing a mother, a family. Looking at her with such trust, not knowing who and what she was...She could still remember so acutely, the ache in her breasts when there was no longer a child to nurse. And there should have been relief for her when her body had finally realized there was no point to producing milk. Shouldn’t there have been?
No, relief was the only emotion she had not felt.
The warrior bowed her head in pain. How could this still hurt, so very much? She had absolved the Bard, she had a wonderful, loving child that she shared with her life’s love. She had been given so much, more than she would ever deserve. Why did the loss of Solon still hurt so much?
Then Gabrielle and their daughter were there. Holding her. Wanting the comfort and despising the weakness, she began to cry silently into the bards neck, loving her, needing both sets of arms holding her. The warrior’s tears baptizing them all. Without any questions, The Bard took her Warrior’s hand and led her back to the camp, back to their bedrolls. The walk in the baby sack had lulled Lycea to sleep as usual, and she was carefully placed in the makeshift crib. And though it was not intended, Gabrielle took her Warrior to the only place that all of their doubts and fears and memories were stilled.
Lycea woke. Her parents were in a loving tangle just a short distance away. The scent of their activity washed over the child, who closed her eyes in pleasure. She played her newest game. Find the cricket. Lycea had discovered that the sound crickets made never seemed to come where the cricket really was. It was a challenge she could not resist. She listened and using only her alert ears, carefully traced the vibration to its source. There! She opened her eyes and confirmed the aural capture. Her delight in her success needed to be shared. Carefully climbing over the twigs that made up the walls surrounding her bedding, she began her stealthy approach. The hunter observed her quarries with perplexity.
A part of her resented the closeness that her parents shared, the attachment that was so strong it almost excluded her, and she considered burrowing into the warmth between them and separate them. But there was a wrongness about doing that, that was clear to her heart, and instead she clambered carefully along their bodies, (another assault on mommy mountain!), before settling comfortably on top of them both, her head managing to rest on both of their shoulders. She felt a muffled laugh, and then one hand snaked out to ruffle her hair, and another smaller, but just as loving, held her hand. And then the one found the other and joined, cupping her butt tenderly, as the fingers entwined. A free hand pulled a blanket over them, and Lycea’s last thought before she fell into Morpheus’ arms smiling was: