Timeline: Somewhere in the fifth season.
Author's Notes: Just another short story. This is my first Argo based story. All POSITIVE comments are welcome. Negatives I will simply ignore. Send your thoughts to email@example.com
I smile as the afternoon breeze blows over me. Mother is sitting on my left. Eve is asleep in our room. Just last week she moved into this small house just outside of Amphipolis. She's earned it. After all the hard work she was put into the inn, she finally bought a place of her own. Mom has hired enough help so she can go to work in the morning and come home when she's done. I had mixed feelings about her moving. The inn was always my home. When I was around sixteen, I left for good. I was on a rampage that clouded my judgement. That's all over now. Now I sit on the steps of my mom's home and watch Gabrielle brush down our horses.
She's becoming a lot like me, in some ways. She loves her horse to death, like I love Argo. Of course the love we have for each other, cannot be denied. Why she won't name the beast is beyond me. She is content just to call him 'Boy' or 'Handsome'. Oh well, her horse. They seem to really connect. I saw that immediately outside Spamona when we rescued him. Why Argo has never really connected to Gabrielle, I'll never know. Argo loves Gabrielle too, its just they lack the understanding that we two share.
I watch as she expertly straps on her saddle and mounts her horse. With just a look, she tells me what she's doing and moves away in a trot. " Where's she going?" Mom asks.
" To the river and back." I hear a soft chuckle from her and I turn and look at her. " What?"
" Nothing. Its just that its cute that you know what each other's thinking."
" Took a long time to get to that point." I smile, leaning back on my elbows.
" I know, Dear." she smiles. " I'm just glad you did." I look over and see a wide smile on my mother's face. " Xena, Gabrielle is such a beautiful, wonderful young lady. Keep her."
" I intend to. She's great with Eve." I comment.
" Well that child will not lack for love."
I hear the horse before I see it. I marvel at Gabrielle's riding posture. Even though she was a little scared of horses at first, she's a natural. She dismounts perfectly. " Do you want me to exercise Argo for you?" she calls.
" Sure, thank you." I call back. She tethers her horse and untethers Argo. With the saddle already being on, all she has to do is mount. I smile. She has learned how to mount Argo without any problems. Early on, Argo was 'too tall'. In a way, she is for Gabrielle. Now, she can get on without any help from me.
As she coaxed Argo to begin walking, Gabrielle's face changed a bit. I watched as she walked Argo to the edge of the house, turned her, and began walking back. Her face was still showing...fear?..concern? " What's wrong, Love?" I call as she passes us, still at a walk. She shook her head. She doesn't know exactly. She turned Argo around at the other end and began back. Suddenly, Argo lurched left. I jerked as a reaction, ready to leap up. Mother, as her reflex, grabbed my forearm.
" Whoa, easy girl." Gabrielle was able to keep her steady, but not for long. Argo clearly was upset and lurched again, this time kicking her back legs slightly. Gabrielle couldn't hold on and fell. I was on my feet before she hit the ground, and she hit it hard. Argo just causally walked away from my fallen bard and stood exactly where she had been tethered.
" Gabrielle!" I was yelled, almost tearfully. She was hurt and bad. She bended her knee and held her leg to her reflexily. My first fear was that her leg was broken or cracked. I ran the short distance over, sliding on my knees, to her side.
" Xena! Owwww!" she screamed. She was clearly in pain. I reached out and she whimpered at the thought of me touching her.
" Shhh. Its okay. Let me see, Sweetheart." It took a great deal of strength to pull her hands away from where they were gripping her shin. I closed my eyes at the next wail of pain as I straightened the leg, testing the knee as I did. Its not broken. I carefully removed her right boot. From the bottom of her knee to the middle of her shin, there was blackening bruise. Mother appeared next to us with water and a cloth. I dampened the cloth and dabbed lightly.
" Ahhhhh! Oh gods that hurts!" she cried as the tears stung her eyes. Mom kept her still as best she could. The cold water will help.
" Mother, could you get the door?" She rose without a word. I took my hand and wiped both of her eyes. " Its okay. Put your arm around my neck...Good girl. I lifted her from the ground, another scream tearing at my heart. I took a quick glance at Argo. She seemed unaffected by what she had just done. Putting it out of my mind for now, I very slowly walked, with Gabrielle in my arms, into the house. Her sobs were lessening.
I placed her on our bed. Mom already had a suave ready. I stroked Gabrielle's hair and held her in place as Mom very gently put the herb suave on her leg. " Looks like a really deep bruise, Dear." she said to both of us. I looked over. It was probably almost to the bone. Soon, Gabrielle quieted and the tears stopped.
" Thanks Cyrene." she sniffed. Mom kissed her forehead.
" Your welcome, Honey. I'll come back in a little while and put more on. Okay?"
" Thanks, Mom." She smiled at me. She elevated Gabrielle's leg with a pillow before leaving.
When Mother left the room, Gabrielle said, " I'm just a big baby."
" No you're not. That," I motioned at her wound, " is something to cry about....I'm sorry."
" For what?"
" Argo threw you."
" Argo did. Not you. It was probably my fault." She looked away from me.
" What makes you say that? You were doing everything right."
" Then why did she do that?"
" I don't know." I thought carefully. " Did she give you any warning she was going to do that?"
" She felt really tense, like she didn't want me riding her. That's why I never walked past the side of the house or go faster than I did."
" I'm sorry, Love....Argo has never thrown me or you before." I said, thinking out loud. She whimpered softly. " Here. Lie down." I adjusted the pillows under her. " How do you feel?"
" Its really throbbing." she winced as she moved it slightly.
" I'm going to make you some tea. You lie still."
I couldn't imagine why Argo would hurt Gabrielle like that. She is a bit moody, but this is taking it to the extreme. I intend to find out why. " Here, Little One." Mom hands me a mug of her tea.
" How did...."
" Just get her to drink it, Dear." I return to our room. Gabrielle greatfully drinks the tea. I know she wants the pain to go away. Her tears have returned and my heart is aching for her.
She wanted me to lie with her. I did. She got a look of terror in her eyes if it looked like I was going to touch her leg. When I did get her half asleep, I accidently brushed her wound with my own leg. She yelled, bringing Mom into the room. A string of " I'm so sorry's" followed. I did get her to sleep and managed to doze off myself. I felt the hand of my mom brush my cheek softly. I slowly opened my eyes to see her standing over me. I looked down and somehow Gabrielle managed to get into our favorite position, her head resting on my chest. She gently brushed Gabrielle's cropped hair with my fingertips. " Its suppertime." she whispered to me. " She cried herself out, didn't she?" I nodded, stroking her hair with my own hand and adding a soft kiss.
" Is it dark yet?" I yawned.
" Almost." I gently shake my bard awake.
Love, wake up."
She stirred pretty quickly, unlike a few short months ago. She lifted her
head, looking at Mom.
" I brought you two some soup." she smiled, indicating the tray. I carefully extracted myself and helped Gabrielle sit upright again.
" I'll be back as soon as I get the horses settled for the night." She merely nodded.
I walked out into the crisp evening air. Argo had moved from where she had been tethered before the fall, to a patch of grass a few feet away. Wordlessly, I grabbed her reins and the reins of Gabrielle's horse, pulling them into the barn. Some people, Gabrielle included, marvel at the way I speak to Argo and other horses. I treat her like another member of the family. She is after all. " I don't know why you did that," I started as I removed my saddle, " but I'm very upset with you." She knew I was. Argo always knows my emotions, even before I do. After removing everything, I walk to her front and look directly at her. " I hope your happy. You hurt her pretty badly." I said, with a hint of edge in my voice. She didn't respond with her usual whinny or snort. " She brushed you down, fed you, was going to give you a run, but..." I trailed off. She got my meaning. " You didn't want her riding you...did you?" She whinnied, shaking her head. " I can understand, Girl. But you could've just not let her get on." Argo always backed away from any potential rider except myself, Gabrielle, or anyone I put on her back. " Instead you threw her and hurt her. She may not walk again for awhile." I didn't see any concern for her in Argo's eyes. " I'll see you in the morning." Normally I would give her a carrot or apple when I settled the horses in, but not tonight. I gave Gabrielle's horse a quick pat before I walked out.
I found Mother in the kitchen when I returned. " She ate all of her soup...and yours." she chuckled. " I'll pour you another bowl." I took a seat on the bench at the table and sighed. I picked up the spoon near me and started fiddling with it. " Are you alright?"
" Is Gabrielle okay?" I countered.
" Yes, Sweetheart. She's resting. Now, are you alright?"
" Yeah, Mom." She placed the bowl in front of me and I stirred it absently. " I can't understand what happened. She wasn't provoked. Gabrielle rode perfectly. She didn't throw a shoe, no spurs under the saddle, she didn't pick up a rock, nothing. Its like she doesn't even care." I took a sip.
" Get some sleep, Dear. We'll figure it out in the morning." She patted me lovingly on the shoulder.
I awoke to find Gabrielle being treated to another rubbing. I sat up and smiled at my mother and my love. " Morning, Sleepyhead." Mom smiled.
" Mmmm." I commented. " How does it look?" I looked over and cringed. It actually looks worse than it did yesterday.
" I can't move it at all, Xena." I reached over and gave her a soft peck on the cheek.
" Don't try. You just rest." I said. Mother nodded her head in agreement as she finished up. Gabrielle was holding Eve in her arms. I poked at my daughter's belly playfully, getting a small laugh out of her. Gabrielle handed her over and returned to lying down, holding Eve above my head. They both watched with a smile as I played with my baby, bringing down and then up again.
This was a pleasent morning to say the least. I awoke and played with my daughter, helped Gabrielle up and out onto the porch to enjoy the sunshine. It was a beautiful, clear morning. I placed her in the swing on the porch. It was the first time I picked Gabrielle...and Eve up at the same time. Eve rather enjoyed being held by her other Mom while she was lifted off her feet. I gave them each a kiss and moved down the steps.
" Where are you going, Xena?"
" To let the horses out into the pasture."
I moved into the barn and opened 'Handsome's' stall, letting him out the side door into the pasture. I moved to Argo, but instead of opening the stall, I leaned on the door. " I wanted to say something to you, Girl." I sighed. " I love you. You know that. For a long time, it was just you and me. I have never understood why you don't like Gabrielle, but I love her too. She means the world to me and so do you and Eve." She stamps her foot nervously. " What you did yesterday is just....I never thought you'd hurt her...Here." I open the door to let her out before I started to cry. She didn't move at first. " Go on." She walked towards me and gave me a gentle nudge. I reached up and rubbed her head. " Go on now. Its okay." I gave a her a pat on the side as she passed me. I took a deep breath to compose myself.
I stepped outside to find something I didn't expect. Instead of going into the pasture, Argo was standing in the yard, looking directly at Eve and Gabrielle. I walked past her and climbed the porch steps. " Why is she standing there, Xena?" she asks nervously.
" I don't know. I told her to go into the pasture." Argo whinnies. " I think its you." I smile. Gabrielle hands Eve to me. Wrapping an arm around my waist, I helped her down the steps. She's limping heavily, barely able to move the leg at all. Gabrielle is cautious about approaching my horse, for the first since they met. She flinches as Argo moves closer, but she stands her ground. Argo gives Gabrielle a quick lick on the face. I don't think she's ever done that before. " I think she's sorry, Love." I offer. Gabrielle smiles and gives her a rub. I reach up and give her pat of my own. Eve mimicks my motion and reaches her tiny hand out. Argo moves closer. Eve laughs as her tiny hand comes in contact with Argo's hide. We both chuckle as Eve strokes her head.
" Go on. Get fat on grass." Gabrielle smiles. Argo moves away to join her horse in the field. " I guess she likes me again."
" Guess so." I smile.
That was a touching family moment for us. It put me in the clouds all day. Nothing could ruin my day. I saddled Argo to give her a run. To my surprise, she backed away. " What?"
I asked. " Come here." Gabrielle and Mother watch from the steps with a smile. She walks over to the pair and whinnies.
" She wants you to ride her, Dear." Mother said to Gabrielle. Gabrielle stood shakily. Her leg was not giving her too much trouble at the moment. I moved to them.
I don't think that's a good idea."
I say immediately.
" I can't get on anyway." she sighs. " Maybe some other time, Argo." Before she could say anything else, Argo went down. I look between my horse and my lover. I smile and gesture that it was okay. Gabrielle hobbles over and gets on her back. Argo very carefully stands, bringing her cargo with her.
" Be careful." I call as they move away.
I sit on the steps with Mom. " I'll be damned." I say to myself as I watch the two disappear. I get a gentle slap. " Ow." I fake injury, rubbing my shoulder. " I'll be darned." I corrected. Mom wraps her arm around my back as we wait for Argo and Gabrielle to return.
alt fic index <> homepage