The Gift


Pagan Rubenowski


Xena and Gabrielle and any other characters from the television show Xena Warrior Princess who appear in this story do not belong to me. They belong to Renaissance Pictures, Studios USA Television, MCA and other assorted Hollywood types we’ve probably never heard of. So with that said there isn’t any profit being made off this story. The only people possibly making any profit off this would be the people that make printer ink and printer paper.

Violence- No much. Everybody’s pretty tame in this.

Sex- Not graphic. Hugging and kissing about covers it. Like I said everybody's pretty tame in this.

Subtext- Yes. (Sorry if that bothers you) They are a couple to me I just can’t see them any other way.

Language- Yes, Nothing you probably wouldn't hear in a PG-13 movie though.

Thanks: to all my friends and co-workers who put up with me rambling on endless about Xena and Gabrielle.

Special thanks: To the one and only person in the world, who could put up with my Xena obsession and not make seek counseling, I love you.

Timeline: Seven years after the end of the show. Xena has her old chakram back and Argo the 2nd.


The morning air was crisp and clean. The sun was bright and the sky was clear. Gabrielle turned and took a long sweet look at her lover lying, fast asleep in their bed. Memories of their time together came flooding back through her mind. She was amazed at how much she still loved this woman. Especially after almost forty years together, even if twenty-five of those years they slept frozen in an ice cave and the one-year Xena spent wondering the Norse lands losing everything when she put on the ring made from the Rheingold. Not knowing her name or her past. Feeling something was missing but not being able to identify it. Surrounded by confusion and a stark loneliness she didn’t understand. Then the gates of her memories began to open. Sensations of a presence she knew but couldn't bring out into the light. Flashes of moments she couldn’t chronicle until she dove through that ring of fire and came face to face with the truth of who she was lying motionless on the rock waiting. Waiting for a kiss to bring them back to each other for good. Her life with Xena had been a truth that only others conjured up in their wildest dreams. There had been some horrific times but all of it led them to where they were now. This road was started by what seemed like the end of it all, Xena’s death in Japa. The months she spent alone trying to carry on to be the best warrior Xena had taught her to be. Yet with every victory and with every life she saved there was that big black void which represented her soul. She knew she’d never be whole again until Xena was back by her side. Alive and loving her for the rest of their lives. Getting her back had been hellish but certainly worth it all. While living in the joy and serenity of being back together she felt as if she were floating on air the night Xena purposed. It certainly was the last thing she’d expected when Xena said "I need to ask you something." Then returning here a few weeks later to have an Amazon joining ceremony it seemed at last all of her dream had come true. Next the pure elation she had felt when two years ago Xena said " Let’s settle down and finally have a home of our own." She never expected she’d be living with the amazons and Xena at the same time. She had gotten accustom to their community of two which was almost too big for her reclusive warrior. She thought that someday if they did have a home it would be a cabin far atop a mountain far away from everyone. So when Xena suggested they make a permanent home with her tribe she was so stunned she thought Xena had a concussion. She walked over to the bed and gave her sleeping warrior a brief kiss and turned to go out to greet the new day. As she strolled around the Amazon camp she felt at peace. Being their queen, full-time that is gave her a great sense of self. Knowing that Xena kept herself busy as commander of the army teaching fight skills and battle strategies while she was "off queening" made her see that this was right for both of them. It was really nice to have a place to call home.


Xena slowly opened her eyes and realized that Gabrielle wasn’t in their bedroom. Getting dressed she thought she would try to find her before they had to begin their daily activates. The sixth year anniversary of their joining ceremony was fast approaching and she wanted to get her a gift, something special. Having the family coming for a surprise visit just wasn’t enough. Nothing she thought of sounded adequate. She knew she needed help with this but whom? Then in a flash it came to her, Aphrodite. Who else would know about a present for her beloved better than Aphrodite but how to talk to her without Gabrielle knowing about it? Another flash, she needed to take some of her new soldiers on a battle simulation why not call on Aphrodite there. She had plenty of things planned to keep the troops busy so they wouldn’t detect what she was up to and than blab it to Gabrielle. Xena was quite pleased with her little plan. With Aphrodite’s help she would give Gabrielle a present she would never forget.

Three mornings later Xena and Gabrielle awoke simultaneously. They smiled at each other and shared a brief kiss. "How long will you be gone?" Gabrielle asked. "Three or four days should be enough." Xena said. "Well don’t get to content sleeping under the stars and not come back." Gabrielle teased. "And don’t you get use to having the bed all to yourself." Xena teased back. Gabrielle shot her a scolding gaze. "Truthfully Xena" she confessed " I probably won’t sleep a wink without you next to me." " That goes double for me sweetheart." Xena leaned in and kissed her on the head. "The sooner I get going the sooner I’ll get back." Gabrielle nodded in agreement. "Just be careful."

Xena was quite pleased with the out come of the first day’s drills. Everyone was keeping up nicely. Making sure everyone was asleep she walked over to the lake feeling she was far enough away from camp not to awaken them. Rather certain she was safe she summoned Aphrodite. In a flash of light there she was the goddess of love herself. As they began to talk Xena told her of her plight to find the perfect gift for Gabrielle. One that would convey the unyielding love that she had for her. To express her deepest feelings of gratitude and joy that she could love this old worn out warrior with all her heart. Xena knew that Gabrielle and Aphrodite had become very close over the years and she was hoping that Gabrielle might have said something in passing or even out right about what she might like Xena to give her as a present. The goddess thought for a moment and then said she couldn’t think of anything. Seeing the crushed look on the warrior’s face she knew that it was time to put her "godly" powers to work. "Wait now don’t look so bummed I’m sure together we can come up with something." "It has to be better than just something." Xena said in frustration, "It has to be perfect." They were both silent for a few moments and then Xena feeling hopeless sat down on the ground. " I know how much Gabby means to ya" Aphrodite spoke trying to reassure her. "Do you? Do you really? Can you look inside not just my heart but every fiber of my being?" "Whoa. Don’t go getting like all Sapphoistic on me now. I get it. You’ve got the major hots for our bard babe." Aphrodite quirked to which Xena was not amused. She just smiled at the warrior then reached out and stroked her cheek. "Oh Xena there is nothing better that you can give Gabby than what you already have." Xena looked at her with great perplexity, "Aphrodite what are you talking about? I haven’t given her anything yet." Aphrodite shook her head and gave a slight giggle. "Boy Xena you might be the best warrior in the world but you don’t know duh about the ways of love. She has you, silly." A look of comprehension came over Xena’s face. "Okay I get it but I want to give her more." "Xena you’ve given her your heart, your soul and your body,". Aphrodite could sense Xena’s embarrassment, "Hey all I’m saying is that you’ve given her exactly what she wants from you and that’s you. Get it?" "Got it." Xena replied looking a bit let down. "Okay, okay I can’t take that gloomy warrior face any longer. There is a way I can help you out. Come here." Xena looked at her with apprehension but did as commanded. Aphrodite reached out and touched her on the forehead and then whispered "close your eyes." Xena started to speak but was stopped by the love Goddess. "And be quiet." Xena did as she was told but wondered what Aphrodite was up to. She was just waiting for the moment when she would hear that silly laugh of hers but there was only the stillness of the night air. The tranquility was broken when Aphrodite removed her hand from Xena’s head. The Goddess took a step back as Xena waited "I’ve got it." She said with excitement " I know the perfect gift for Gabby!" "What is it? " "I don’t know why I didn’t think of this before." The Goddess carried on. Xena was getting impatient "Aphrodite!" "You’re going to give her a baby." And with that she vanished. Xena was stunned. She was trying to call out the Goddesses’ name but no sound would come out. Then her mind began racing. A baby! How can I give her a baby? Where am I supposed to get a baby? She was about to try to summon Aphrodite again when she heard the bushes rustle behind her. Pulling out her sword she swirled around. " Commander are you all right?" Asked one of her trainees. " Oh yes. Just doing some meditation." She replaced her sword in its scabbard and they both returned to camp.

Xena stood at the top of the cliff. Down below the sounds of metal clanging together resonated up to her. The sights and the reverberations were really only a blur to her all she could see in front of her was the face of Aphrodite with that silly grin talking about Xena giving Gabrielle a baby as a anniversary gift. A baby? She touches my forehead and then bam she comes up with a baby. She was so confused about the whole thing she wondered if maybe it was just a silly dream she’d had. Whatever the case today was the groups final day before returning to the Amazon village and she was no closer to figuring out what to get for Gabrielle’s present. Suddenly there was Aphrodite standing next to her. Xena was totally pissed. After calling and calling on her to appear and explain what in the hell she was talking about she never once responded. Now she was standing next to the Goddess who had that blase’ look on her face like it was just another day. As if she hadn’t appealed to her for help with something that meant so much. Feeling hurt that Dite would dish her in her hour of need she decided to go off on her. "You know I was really hoping that for once in my lifetime you could be serious enough to realize when someone really needed your help. You’ve known us for years and you know how much she means to me and how important this was to me and you just couldn’t stop kidding around." Dite was quietly confused she really had no idea what Xena was taking about. Xena continued " Yeah and that forehead thing. I’ll bet you and Cupid had a big laugh about that one huh?" Finally the goddess was beginning to catch up. Xena thought it was all a big joke. With as much seriousness as she had ever put forth she put a comforting hand on Xena's shoulder and said. "I do know and I also see what’s in your heart. You have always felt bad about Britannia. You've always blamed yourself for Gabrielle killing Meriden and especially for her being raped by Dahok. You weren’t there to protect her. She lost her blood innocence and did something she thought she’d never do. Kill another human being. You could have saved her from all that pain if only you had been there for her and not caught up in your revenge for Caesar. Then all that stuff with Hope. I know that you wish you could give her a baby. So she could be the wonderful mother you know she would be and experience what it’s like to raise a normal child not some spawn of evil." The warrior had to digest these words of wisdom from the seemingly air-headed goddess. She had to admit Aphrodite had gotten everything right. She was impressed but she’d never tell her that. "You got all that from touching my forehead?" " Pretty much. See as Gabby’s friend I recognize what’s in her heart too. "From touching her head?" Xena asked. "No usually with us it’s from like girl talk and stuff. Xena she loves you more than she has ever loved anyone or anything. She feels like a part of her soul is missing when you're not there beside her. That last time you died and then thought you ought to stay dead she told me that she wished she could have died with you because being without you was pure agony." Xena felt tears welling up in her eyes but was able to keep them from falling. She knew that Dite spoke the truth. Even after all this time she still felt she had let Gabrielle down in Britannia. She was in love with her then but was trying to convince herself it was merely lust. Being with Gabrielle was nice but there were more important things that required her attention. She knew that it was the heat of the battle that drove her. That fighting was her aphoristic. Her craving for revenge against Caesar was paramount to whatever little spiritual journey Gabrielle was on. But it all changed that day atop that hill. Anticipating her crowning battle with Caesar her attention was diverted to the temple and sensing something horrendous was about to happen she remembered that Gabrielle was in that temple. Running to her with ghastly fear pounding in her ears. Praying, yes praying to whomever, whatever there was in this world that would keep her sweetheart safe until she could get to her. Sitting amongst the rubble of the temple with the weeping bard in her arms was the moment she figured out that nothing in this world was more important then Gabrielle. She felt a slight chill run up her spine as she got entranced in the memories of that day. Then realizing that her love was pregnant and not knowing what she would give birth to or if it might kill her. Afterward when Hope was born conscious that even if Gabrielle couldn’t see it the child was evil and had to be destroyed. She tried to stop the recollections from continuing because it was decades ago and besides they were happy now. Still she felt poignant because she knew that this was Gabrielle's only experience at being a mother. Even if she was able to rear Eve a little bit before they were frozen she knew she had missed out on something wonderful. After playing with the thought of the two of them producing an offspring the reality of the whole situation started to sink in. Xena looked straight at the goddess and said "Aphrodite I would love to give Gabrielle a baby but I’m fresh out of sperm." She gave Xena a look saying ‘Ha ha you

sarcastic bitch.’ "Besides I‘m just to damn possessive to let her sleep with anyone else especially a man. So unless you got some other ideas for a present I’ll consider myself on my own." Dite shot her another ‘You bitch’ look. "That’s you Xena always thinking like a mortal." She dished back. Xena had a ‘well duh’ look on her face but Dite continued before the warrior could zing her back. "You are talking to the goddess of love here. As such I can get around the so-called laws of nature. When Zeus was alive I had to run it through him. You know him being king of the Gods and all he would get so pissed if you tried to do stuff without his approval. I have this mixture, if you will, which I’ve used for couples who try to have a child but can’t because of a glitch in like one of ‘em's plumbing they can’t do it on their own. Well they can do it but nothing happens. Well things happen. Anyway..." Xena interrupted her mainly to make her stop. "I really don’t think that a love potion is right for us. I don’t want to put some kind of spell on her." "Xena." Dite said with a scold, " It’s not a spell. It’s like real scientific and all." Xena glared at her with skepticism. "Really." Dite said knowing she had no idea how it worked. "Look if Gabby drinks it and then you guys do the deed within a couple of days of her chugging it Gabs should be preggers." Xena was just amazed. It’s not like she hadn’t dreamed of being able to have a child with Gabrielle. She had Solan with Borias. It was just something that happened. They didn’t really want it. At least she didn’t. Motherhood was the farthest thing from her mind in those days. But when he was born she had a sense of something she had never felt before. She quickly buried those feelings because she knew she had to give him up to protect him. Then when she was pregnant with Eve she knew she’d been given a second chance at being a mom. Plus to make it even better Gabrielle was there. She would finally have a family of her own. What a joy it would be if their love could produce a child. She knew Gabrielle would be the best mother in the world. She stopped with the fantasy and came back to reality. "Aphrodite I’m not going to let you give this to Gabrielle no matter how safe you think it is. If Gabrielle wants to have a baby she’ll have to do it the old fashioned way." The goddess just sighed. "Now we both know that if some guy even thinks about coming near Gabby you’ll chop his..." She hesitated to rephrase, "head off." "I guess being with me has deprived her of that too." Xena stated sadly. "She could have been a mom if not for me." "Stop it!" The goddess shrieked exasperated. "I know for a fact

that Gabby is the happiest she’s even been in her life with no regrets. Look I love you guys and believe me it’s not everyday I go saying that to a mortal. You two are like family to me. I just wanted to help you two realize a dream." "Well it’s my dream but how do you know Gabrielle wants it?" "She told me." Dite

responded. "She said she has always wanted to make a baby with you." Xena felt her face turn flush. "She told me that it would be a dream come true." Xena looked at Dite sadly." Funny she never said it to me." "Well duh." Dite retorted. I told you with Gabs and me its girl talk. Even though you’re a girl too; you’re

her companion, her main squeeze. You don’t go blabbing all that sappy stuff to your wife. It’s just not done." Xena could feel her heart pounding faster and butterflies in her stomach. Knowing that Gabrielle wanted to be the mother of her child was fantastic. She had fantasized about being able to impregnate her many times while they were making love but to actually have it come true was just unbelievable. Still a fantasy is one thing. Would Gabrielle really want to go

through with this? Xena was excited about being a parent again but still wasn’t sure if this would be right. It still wouldn’t be the usual way but then the way they had Eve was certainly unusual. Xena just couldn’t process all of it. "Look" Xena said "I’m just not sure about all of this. What if we tired it and it didn’t work? What if Gabrielle has changed her mind? What if....". "Stop all ready!" Screamed Dite. " Why don’t you kinda bring the topic up when you get back?

Kinda feel her out about it then we’ll take it from there. How does that sound?" "That might be all right. Okay I’ll bring it up when I get back but only as a ‘what if’ kind of thing. I just don’t what her to know it’s really a possibility until I’m sure she really wants it too. I know her and if she thought it would make me happy she would go through with it even if she didn't want to. Agreed?" "Hey that’s cool." Then the goddess did her patented giggle/ squeal said, "Later." and vanished.

Xena sat atop Agro II lost in thought. She had gone through different scenarios. The first one Gabrielle is happy. Then she’s horrified. Then she’s unsure but leaning that way. Then through all those images one of Gabrielle pregnant came into her mind. Seeing her changing as the months passed and her belly growing bigger and bigger. The warrior placing her hand there to feel a kick. Gabrielle’s face all aglow beneath the candlelight nursing their child to sleep. While she was lost in her thoughts she was roused away from them when she heard her name. "Xena!!" She looked ahead to see the most beautiful face the gods had ever created smiling at her. She smiled back and dismounted. "Hey sexy" Xena purred. "Hey yourself." Gabrielle returned. After their welcome home embrace was broken Gabrielle spoke. "Where were you just then? I yelled for you six times before I got your attention. Didn’t it go well?" Xena tried to think up something fast. She wasn’t quite ready to discuss the baby business yet especially out in the open. Amazons have great hearing and wild imaginations and if someone over heard them there would be some ceremony planned for the queen’s pregnancy before it actually happened. We couldn’t have that could we? "Oh sorry. No things went just fine." Xena was hoping that was enough to get her off the proverbial hook but it was not to be. "So what had you so lost in thought just before I got your attention." She enquired further. Again with this! Xena thought. Then She leaned down next to Gabrielle’s left ear and whispered. "Well if you must know I was thinking about you being naked." It wasn't a complete lie, she had been thinking of Gabrielle being naked but it wasn’t at that exact moment. The blonde returned with a seductive smile of her own. The warrior recognized it was time to take this inside. So she grabbed the queen’s hand and lead her toward their hut.

Xena sat back in her chair and then pushed her plate aside. She had enjoyed her dinner and was now enjoying watching Gabrielle as she continued eating. "What?" Gabrielle enquired as she caught Xena eyeing her. "I didn’t have much lunch okay." She defended. Xena smiled reached over and touched her sweetheart's forearm. "Eat up my dear I was just looking." And then Xena gave her a sly wink. Relaxed Gabrielle returned her attention to her plate. While she continued to eat Xena was quietly trying to figure out how she was going to bring up the baby topic and not get Gabrielle’s curiosity up. I know I’ll asked about one of the amazons who are expecting that should get the ball rolling. "How’s Hallie? Isn’t she about ready to pop?" Gabrielle stopped eating for a second wondering to herself why Xena was asking about someone she barley knew. "She’s fine. Still has about a month to go yet." The bard went back to her plate. A moment of silence passed and then Xena went on. "This will be her second right?" "No third." "Right, right. Three kids wow." What an odd subject for us to be talking about. Gabrielle considered. Xena’s been gone for days and we’re talking about kids. Something must have went wrong with the training she’s barley mentioned it. "Xena did something unsatisfactory happen during the training exercises? You’ve hardly said anything about it." Uh oh. "No, no everything went great. I just happened to see Hallie today that’s all. I was planning on briefing you tomorrow my queen. If that’s all right?" Let’s see if I got out of that one. Gabrielle gave her a little laugh and Xena knew things were copasetic. "Sorry." Gabby said. "What were we taking about?" "Hallie" Xena reminded. "I thought this was going to be her second baby but you said third." "Oh yeah." Gabby said being brought back up to speed. Xena continued with the quizzing. "How old are the other two?" "Six and three I think." "And now a baby." "She’ll have her hands full." "I couldn’t do it." The blonde said flatly. Xena felt her stomach drop to the floor. " Sure you could." Trying to reassure her. "Maybe but I don’t think I’d want to. I mean I’m sure it’s great for her or she’d stop having them. I just wouldn’t want all that reasonability. I guess I’m really too selfish with my time to be a mom." Time to change the subject. Got my answer. Glad I asked before... "Xena?" "Huh?" "You were gone again." "Oh sorry." "Maybe you should go on to bed." Gabrielle surmised. "I’ll join you in a bit. Got some writing I want to do." She stood and took both their plates over to the wash bin. Xena sat there a little stunned. Damn, I thought Dite said she wanted to have a baby. My baby. Well I guess you don’t know everything Miss Goddess of love. Xena then stood from the table and sauntered up behind Gabrielle and kissed her on the head. "Good night love. See ya soon." Gabby patted the hand that was on her shoulder. "Night. Get some rest." With that Xena went off to bed.

The next morning Xena was lost in a haze. She was feeling hurt by Gabrielle's words the night before. How could she not want to have a baby? My baby. She’s said her love for me has no beginning and no end. Why then doesn’t she want to have a baby WITH me? Thinking back to Gabrielle's expression after Hope was born. The sparkle in her eyes and the sweet smile on her face. All that for a child of rape? But she’s too selfish to make a baby with me? Xena could feel the rage climbing in her throat. She had a good mind to go up to Gabrielle and tell her she didn’t want her to be the mother of their child anyway! Wait! She exclaimed to herself. She’s not thinking of it being our baby. If she thought of it that way then of course she’d do it. Stop this nonsense you bastard! Stop thinking of just yourself! Gabrielle said she didn’t want to have a baby so just drop it!!! Taren approached Xena and looked at her with wonderment. She saw her mouth moving but heard no sound coming from it and could see the animated way she was waving her arms around. Must be some new battle drill she told herself. Still she was surprised how close she had gotten to Xena before being acknowledged. "Taren what’s up?" Xena asked as sincerely as she could muster. Taren began to talk to her and she caught a word here and there, " armory yada.. Yada.. Yada arrow count yada... yada.. Yada what should I do about yada... yada...yada and Leada said we need to yada... yada." Once Xena came back she realized she had been nodding affirmably but had no idea what Taren was talking about. "So do you think we should start that tomorrow?" Taren asked. Xena knew she better get out this as fast as she could. "Taren why don’t I talk to you later about all of this I have somewhere I have to be right now." Xena left Taren standing there befuddled.

Gabrielle stood up from her desk and strolled over to the front window. She had been there for quite awhile by the look of the sun’s current position and the rumble in her stomach. Where is that blasted warrior? She has probably forgotten all about our meeting. Guess I’ll have to go looking for her. Then came a tap on the door. There she is. About time too. "Enter." She commanded. "My queen." The figure bowed. "Yes Sati?" "Zeva is ready for you now." "Thank-you Sati." The woman bowed again and backed out the door. "Oh Sati" "Yes my queen?" "Have you seen Xena this morning?" "No my queen." I’ll bet she’s somewhere fishing. "Sati when she comes by tell her to met me in the dinning hall." "Yes my queen." Now came the time that she dreaded the most. One of the toughest things about being a queen was making the arduous decisions only a queen could make. Have lunch first or tend to business first? She was leaning toward lunch when she heard her conscience chastise Gabrielle! "All right, all right." she reluctantly caved "Business first."

Xena wasn’t sure how long she had been walking hell part of the time she was at a dead run. She finally slowed down once she saw the familiar shoreline of the lake. So far today had really sucked. She had gotten excited about them having a child together but now all her hopes had been doused. Aw knowing Aphrodite and her screwy spells the kid would probably have had two heads or something. "I heard that! Tall dark and whiny!" In a flash of light there stood the goddess hands on her hips and none to happy about that remark from inside Xena’s head. Xena really didn’t care if it pissed her off she was ready to put this whole baby nonsense behind her. "Aphrodite we have to talk." Xena said with the utmost seriousness. "Lay it on me warrior babe." She retorted in her usual flippant way. Xena of course was not amused. After the warrior gave her ‘the look’ she went on to explain that she had talked to Gabrielle and that the goddess was way off about Gabrielle wanting to be a mother. Aphrodite wouldn’t buy any of it. "You just didn’t ask her right." The goddess said with assurance. Xena was trying to keep the images of choking Aphrodite out of her mind. The goddess continued coaxing Xena into trying once more but could see the stubborn warrior wasn’t going to budge. Dite knew that she was devastated but trying not to show it. Okay goddess of love work your magic. With that thought the deity put her rouse in motion.

The pinging of metal on metal got louder and louder the closer she got to the blacksmith’s hut. I would always have a headache. Gabrielle conjured up an image of her being a blacksmith hammering away while her head was pounding. No, no wouldn’t be for me. She waited to let Zeva sense her presence. Gabrielle knew better then to startle someone who was swinging a hammer. The bard was relieved when the noise ceased that pounding was making her jumpy. They gave each other a greeting smile before their conversation began. " I bet you can’t wait to see it. I think it might be some of my best work yet." The smith stated proudly. The queen knew this to be the truth and not a boast. Zeva was a smith of all trades. She had been making all the ceremonial jewelry for the tribe as long as she could remember. Her detail to craftsmanship as well as her sheer talent gave Gabrielle the since that this gift for Xena would be better than any image of it she had invented in her mind. Just before the anticipation was almost too much to bear Zeva said with pride "And there it is." "Wow!" Responded Gabby. "I take it you’re satisfied with it." The queen didn’t respond she just stood there in aw. After a few seconds she said "it’s the most magnificent thing I’ve ever seen." Expect for Xena. The longer Gabrielle inspected the item the more she was astounded by it’s resemblance to its model. As she turned it around in her hand the sunlight danced off the silver and gold. The gems were a certain familiar shade of blue. "Thank you Zeva it’s perfect." "You’re welcome my queen." Gabrielle gave her a quick hug and handed the item back to her. "I’ll try to pick it up at the end of the day." Zeva just nodded. With that she was off to the dinning hall.

Aphrodite appeared earnest in her change of heart about the baby matter. "I don’t know how I could have been so wrong about the whole thing. I’m really sorry Xena." Xena tried to console her. "Aphrodite it’s okay. I’m sure at one time Gabrielle did want to have a baby but the time for that has passed. She would have been a great mom though. Anyway I’ll just have to think of something else to get her." " Let me see if I can help ya narrow it down a bit." Dite offered. " Let’s see something personal that says ‘this is only for you babe’ something that says ‘my love for ya is endless’, ‘Can’t live without ya’ yada yada yada. I’ve got it!" Xena looked at her with anticipation. "A painting painted by you." "Good Gods why do I listen to you?" Xena snorted. "Wait now Miss totally pissed off. I know it would be totally bogus if you didn’t get a little divine guidance." "Please not the forehead thing again?" The warrior pleaded. "Xena please! What do ya take me for a one trick goddess? I’ll give you an enchanted easel and you’ll be paintin’ like...paintin’ like...well like someone who can paint real good. Cool huh?" Xena looked at her with extreme skepticism. "Will ya just trust me on this unless you’ve got a better idea?" Xena shrugged. "Killer. Meet me here tomorrow and we’ll get started. Kay?" Asked the love goddess. What the hell. Thought Xena. "Okay." That finally settled Aphrodite did her patented giggle and poof she disappeared into nothingness. Xena just stood quietly shaking her head in disbelief bet I’m going to regret this and headed back to the village.

A few moments later Dite reappeared at the top of the hill where she and Xena had been talking. This time her form was invisible. As she watched her warrior friend head back to the Amazon village she knew it was in Xena and Gabby’s best interest if she intervened. She knew that Gabby wanted to have a baby with Xena no matter what she had said. She also knew that the damn warrior was too stoic and proud to just say Gabrielle we are going to have a baby now and you will be its mother! This was the least she could do for her "favorite girl group". The goddess snapped her fingers and a small vial appeared in her hand. The liquid inside of it was a very dark shade of green. "Okay now Miss Thing, you little minx, time to get the bard and the warrior away from prying Amazon eyes for a few days and have Gabs drink a little of this. They’re so hot for each other they’ll be naked before the sun goes down then in a few months I’ll be an auntie. I like totally rule! Oh Yeah!" Aphrodite vanished to begin the mission.

Xena was reeling on the hike back to the village. It was all becoming too much. She thought back to when she had entertained the idea of having Aphrodite help her with this whole process. She did take a moment to chastise herself for the thought in the first place. This whole thing had gotten exceedingly to complicated for her taste. She let her mind wonder back to a vision of her bard with child and stopped walking while she relished it. Maybe I could bring it up again? Then the memory of Gabrielle at the dinner table saying "I guess I’m just too selfish with my time to be a mom."; came rushing back to the forefront. Damn it warrior the baby business is over. Still she felt sad at the admission. Then out of nowhere came a vision of their little hideaway, some wine and a very sultry blonde waiting to be taken by her dark-haired lover. Xena quicken her pace back to the hamlet with a new purpose and a better way to forget about this nonsense. I’ll get to her faster if I run and broke out into a determined sprint.


Gabrielle was enjoying her lunch so much she didn’t notice her second in command sit down in front of her. "Did you get it?" Gabrielle looked up to see her subsequent slyly smiling. The queen bowed her head and dropped her eyes then gazed back at Rena. "Not yet but I saw it." Rena gasped with excitement waiting for her queen to elaborate further. "Zeva does such beautiful work." Rena smiled and shook her head in agreement. " Did you love it?" "Yes." "I can’t wait to see it." The two regents continued their conversation only being distracted by the approach of the warrior princess whom sat down next to her bard. Xena lean over and kissed her on the cheek which made Gabrielle smile. Rena knew now Xena had arrived that her queen’s attention was diverted to anything else. These two act like they’ve just met. Rena recognized with that thought it was time to go. "We can continue this later my queen." She stood and bowed as a sign of respect but knew it went as unnoticed as her final words. She could have said the village was being attacked and they still wouldn’t have heard her. The devotion between this couple was astonishing.

Xena reached over and grabbed a bite from Gabrielle's plate and then leaned over and whispered something risque’ in her ear. Gabrielle giggled and then swatted at the warrior. "Xena stop it. I asked you not to act like that in here." "I can’t help it your highness." She said with an evil grin on her face. "Well try." The bard demanded. "Where have you been all day?" Trying to get Xena’s mind away from anything carnal. "Oh here, there, all over." She returned being as vague as possible. She was glad when she noticed her usually nosey bard was going to let her glib comment drop. "Hey" Xena started "how would you like to go away for a few days just the two of us to our little hideaway? Think you could manage it?" Hopefulness showing in her eyes. Gabrielle was still for a few moments and then said, "Yes I would love it. It will have to be in a day or so. Is that all right for you?" "That would be perfect." Xena said beaming. "Then it’s a date." The blonde returned. "Look I need to get back I’ve got several things I need to finish up before the day is over." The warrior nodded in agreement "Me too. See you at home then." Oh what wonderful words Gabrielle thought. They walked out of the dining hall had quick so long hugs and headed off to their separate duties.

Xena wasn’t sure meeting Aphrodite today was really such a good idea. Even with an enchanted easel how was she going to paint something that looked like anything anyone could identify? While it was true that she had many skills she was sure being an artist wasn’t one of them. It also brought back the memory of when the goddess had enchanted one of Gabrielle's scrolls and what a disaster that turned into she wondered if this would be as bad. "Whoa ya showed up color me surprised." The goddess said as she came into view. "That makes two of us." Xena mumbled. Aphrodite gave a slight wave of her hand and a painting easel materialized in front of the warrior. Than another wave brought a paintbrush. She handed it to Xena and instructed "Go for it Xena warrior painter." The dark woman gave the goddess ‘the look’ and stood in front of the blank canvas. She looked back over at Aphrodite waiting for some other instructions when none came she asked "What do I do?" "What do you want to paint?" The goddess inquired. "Oh I don’t know. How about Gabrielle naked sitting on top of Argo." The remark was really a joke but the goddess

said. "Then paint it." "With a dry brush?" "Look whatever you envision in your mind’s eye will be transferred to the canvas." Xena just knew that the goddess had to bullshitting her but she went ahead and touched the brush to the canvas and was amazed at the colors that were coming out of a seemly dry paintbrush. The warrior looked over at Aphrodite and smiled. "Ya see what did I tell ya you’re an artiste. Gabs will love it." "Yeah maybe she will." The warrior said as she continued on with her masterpiece.

The sun was setting before Gabrielle returned to the smith’s hut. When she first walked up she didn’t see any sign of Zeva. Then she heard someone behind her. She turned to face Zeva and didn’t have to say a word. "Hold on I'll get it for you." Said the blacksmith. "Sorry I couldn’t make it yesterday." "No problem." As Zeva handed it to the queen Gabrielle looked at it again and marveled at it. She hoped Xena would like it even though she wasn’t one for jewelry. "Zeva you are a master" the queen complemented." Zeva bowed in acceptance of her queen’s praise. With the prize in hand the bard said her goodbyes and headed for home.

Xena began looking at her painting with a bemused look on her face. As she turned her head from left to right and then at vertical angles all she saw was an ugly mess. Looking over to Aphrodite who had conjured up a pink chase lounge to lie on while the warrior painted she said "Is this some king of joke? Aphrodite I’m in no mood for your crap. What happened to my painting?" "Xena what are you talking about?" The goddess asked truly puzzled by Xena’s change in demeanor. "Look at it!" The warrior yelled. Dite stood up and walked over to stand in front of the canvas. Studying it earnestly she asked "What’s wrong with it?" "Aphrodite!" Xena screamed. "What?" She yelled back honestly not seeing what Xena was objecting to. "It’s beautiful Xena." Xena was beside herself. She could tell by Aphrodite’s expression that she really didn’t see anything wrong with the painting. "It looks like an unruly mess can’t you see that?" Dite was finally beginning to understand why Xena was objecting she

was looking at the painting the wrong way. She knew she had better calm this woman down before she busted a vein or something. "Xena relax you’re just looking at the painting with your eyes." Xena’s expression said what else am I suppose to look at it with? "This represents how you feel about Gabby on the inside." "But why does it have to look like somebody’s insides?" The warrior queried. "Xena!" Urged the goddess "It’s like what they call abstract. Cool Huh?" The warrior just shook her head. "Well that’s just not me Aphrodite. If I paint a picture of Gabrielle naked on Argo then that’s what it should look like. She’ll hate it. I don’t know why I let you talk me into this. I knew something would go wrong." Xena was getting more flustered by the second. She noticed the sun was setting. "I’ve got to go Gabrielle will be expecting me soon and besides all this time I’ve been spending with you is making her curious. Thanks for all your help Aphrodite", she tried to sound sincere "but I’ll think of something on my own." And began stomping back to the village. "Don’t you want the painting?" The goddess yelled out as the warrior got further away. "Naw you keep it." Aphrodite watch as Xena became just a small dot of a very pissed off warrior knowing all along that the plan was proceeding on schedule. She looked at the painting again and scrunched up her face as if she’d smelled something rather fowl. "Honey it must be love ’cos it sure as Hades ain’t art."

"No peeking now you promised." Xena said to her bard as she lead the woman inside the cave with her hands over her eyes. "Almost there. Now, what do you think?" Gabrielle looked around and she was taken aback by her surroundings. Candles were lit to set a romantic mood. There were two goblets set up near a pleasant and inviting fire. Pillows of many different shapes and sizes were scattered against the far cave wall. "Xena it’s wonderful but when did you have time to do all this?" "I have many skills." Was her only explanation. "Come here." The warrior beckoned and took her hand to lead her over to the pillows. "I got us some wine and we’re going to have duck for dinner. Don’t worry I didn’t cook it." Gabrielle snickered. "I’ve got us a nice fire going we should be all set." Xena felt herself suddenly nervous. It was almost like their first time. Gabrielle picked up on her lover’s apprehension and gently touched her arm. "It’s okay I’m a little nervous too." Xena just smiled at her "I want everything to be perfect that’s all." "Xena it will be. Just being with you is perfect enough." Xena leaned close to kiss her bard. They continued to kiss for awhile getting comfortable on the pillows. Unbeknownst to the lovers was the goddess of love waiting to spring into action. She watched the two for a bit waiting for just the right moment to spike the bard’s wine with the pregnant potion. She had a fleeting thought what if they don’t do it. Then she watched a little longer Oh they’ll do it. Over and over and over. These chicks’ libidos are always on high gear. Unaware of the love goddess’ presence they pulled apart and began to talk. You know our anniversary is coming up." Gabrielle started. Xena teasingly said "Anniversary of what?" "You know what." The bard scolded. "Xena continued her jousting. "Really I don’t. Is it the anniversary of when I met you? She queried The bard just gave her a look. "Is it the anniversary of our first battle?" "Xena!" "Our first swim in the ocean? Or maybe oh I know it’s the anniversary of the first time I tickled you." The warrior reached down and started tickling the bard and they both went off into laughter.

Aphrodite was getting a little bored. She loved these two but she had places to go and men to strip. She could tell she had better chill because these two were in no hurry to get to the main event. It did surprise her that as much as they were in love she thought they would have done it ten times by now. Patience Miss Thing she advised herself. She was going to help these two have their dream come true even if it took all night, which it did. Hours had passed

before Xena went to get the wind goblets. They had talked. They had kissed,

and they had even danced while Xena hummed a particular tune. They were just about to sit down and have their dinner when Xena realized she had forgotten the wine. Dite was ready for action holding the vile of green liquid in her hand just waiting for Gabby to choice her cup. Once she did the goddess wasted no time pouring the elixir in. The blonde took a long sip and waited for Xena to return next to her. "A toast" the bard offered and Xena raised her cup. "To us." "To us." Xena returned. Then they tapped their goblets together and then hooked their arms together so as to drink from the other’s cup. Aphrodite gasped knowing she had to do something fast or they’d both be preggers. They were just about to drink when Argo II’s head knocked both cups to the ground. "Argo!" Xena shouted. "I think she’s jealous Xena." The bard surmised. "Maybe but I must be losing it. I didn’t even see or hear her come over here." Xena added. "It’s nice to know that I have an all encompassing hold over you my dear warrior." Gabrielle said with rising passion. "You hold that thought." Xena said slyly as she grabbed the horse’s reins and lead her back to her corner. Aphrodite knew the time was near. Better give these chicks some privacy. She fanned her face with her hand Boy is it gettin’ hot in here or what. Then with great pride in her accomplishment she popped herself outta there.

Gabrielle rolled over to put her arms around Xena. As she began to come out of her slumber she remembered that Xena wasn’t there, having left nearly ten days ago to assess the reports of Amazon boarder problems. Her scouts had spotted Trespassers hunting in their forest. Sometimes she missed the adventure of being out on the road but knew it was unwise for the queen to go out into danger when her champion and her soldiers were more than capable to handle it. Still the planning of the battle strategies did get her adrenalin pumping. Suddenly for no apparent reason she felt a wave of nausea take over her. As she scurried to her bedroom window and hung her head over the sill she lost all of what was in her stomach. Then another wave hit her and she threw up again. She decided once the queasiness had dissipated she still had time to lay back down and hoped she felt better before leaving for her office. This was the third morning in a row that she had woke up and then suddenly felt sick. She wondered if she really was missing Xena that much. I’m not that lovesick am I? We’ve been together a very long time and I haven’t been sick like this when she's been away before. Guess I should go see the healer. She felt another surge start to attack her and she threw up once more. Subsequently she decided that she better go lie down first and then go to the healer’s hut. After what she assume was about an hour she rose out of her bed. She felt weak but better. She then thought going to the healer was a waste of time. "Maybe I am lovesick? She said to no one. Shaking it off she got dressed and went to her office. When she arrived her second took one look at her and asked "What’s the matter with you? You look awful!" "Thanks Rena and good morning to you too." She smarted back. Rena just shook her head. The queen and her second in command were usually very casual with each other unless the situation required more revelry. Working together so closely for such a long time had made them feel very close almost like sisters. Gabrielle entered the room and sat down at her desk. She began milling over her paperwork and felt eyes boring into her. She looked up and locked gazes with Rena who was investigating her intently. "What?" The queen looked at her friend annoyed. "Gabrielle it’s just that you don’t look well." "I’m fine. Just a little tired. I don’t sleep well when Xena’s away." Rena stood up from her desk and walked over to stand in front of Gabrielle. "Honey you look more than tired. Have you been ill?" "Yes a little." The queen finally admitted. "So go home and rest. I can handle things here." "I’ll be fine." "Gabrielle, Xena would kill me if I didn’t make you go home. As your second in command and as your friend go home. Now!" "Okay Rena you win." "Hey if you’re not better by tomorrow promise me you’ll go see the healer." "I promise."

The next morning Gabrielle awoke and there it was again. She had started feeling much better that afternoon and knew that whatever she had was gone. Now again she felt the same as yesterday morning, and the three mornings before that. "Okay off to the healer Gabrielle." She said to herself and after her morning barf secession she did just that.

It was quite a trek to the healer’s hut all the while she was feeling a little silly and almost convinced herself she didn’t need to go but then a wave of nausea would come over her. When she stepped inside she was met with a gracious smile from Karuna the healer’s apprentice. Karuna was surprised to see her queen here since she and Xena were rarely sick and when they were they usually had enough knowledge to help themselves. She just thought the queen must be in for some common herbs. "My queen" she bowed "how may I serve you this fine day?" "I haven’t been feeling well the past few days and none of the herb solutions that I’ve used have helped." " Have a seat my queen Reseda is finishing up with Hallie and we’ll take a look-see." She said with a comforting voice. Just then Hallie and her partner Thyra came out from behind the curtain with Reseda. " I’d say any day now my dear. Go home and get some rest. Thyra summon me when it’s time." Thyra nodded with an obvious nervousness on her face. Gabrielle felt all eyes from the group upon her. She noticed the concern in their faces at their queen’s presence in the healer’s hut. She stood to strike up a conversation with the expecting couple hoping to throw them off guard. She walked up and hugged Hallie and then Thyra. It had worked. Soon she witness the concern leave their faces as she spoke of the impending birth and how happy she was for the couple’s new addition. Then she saw the expectant gaze on Hallie and Thyra’s faces when their queen didn’t move to join them as they were leaving the hut. Karuna picked up on her queen’s dilemma and spoke to the three. "Reseda hasn’t quite finished mixing the poultice cream for Xena yet; it won’t be much longer." "Sword elbow." The queen whispered easing the troubled and puzzled looks. Reseda receiving the vibe from her junior went along with it. "Yes I’ll have that for you shortly" She bowed and move away pretending to get something from her healer’s supplies. At that Hallie and Thyra took their cue to exit. Gabrielle gave a thank you grin to the healer and her very wily apprentice. Karuna quietly relayed Gabrielle’s situation to her mentor while the queen got settled on the examination bench. Once Reseda came over to her she told her how she had been feeling for the past four mornings and that she would feel better later in the day. She told her what herbs she had been using and said that they always worked for her before. The healer did some test never saying anything. Than after the long moments of silence the healer finally asked her. "When was you’re last cycle?" The queen was taken aback by the question. "My last what?" "You’re monthly my queen." Gabrielle had to stop and do some calculating. "Actually I’m a little past due why?" Reseda smile and then looked over to her apprentice who was also smiling. Gabrielle was confused by the apparent levity of her plight. "What?" Asked the queen. Karuna came rushing up to her queen and gave her a big hug. "My queen" she beamed "I had no idea. Isn’t it wonderful Reseda?" Reseda smiled " Yes a very joyous event indeed." "Wait. What’s wrong with me? And why are you so happy about it?" The queen said angrily. Reseda and Karuna looked at each other bewildered. Reseda excused herself and spoke to Karuna in a volume the queen couldn’t here. Karuna was still showing a confused look but bowed to her queen and exited the hut. The healer began to pace while the blonde watched her. "Is there anything you need to tell me my queen?" "Reseda what’s going on?" "Pardon my bluntness my queen. We thought you had planned it until you seemed so surprised." "What are you talking about?" "How are things with you and Xena?" Gabrielle was totally confused by the healer’s line of questioning. "What’s wrong with me?" The queen asked again. "You’re pregnant." Gabrielle began to laugh. Then she looked up at her healer’s face and there was no change. "Ha ha, good one you had me going there for a second. Wait you‘re not kidding are you?" "I’ve done all my tests twice and they came out the same." Reseda confessed. "Well you’ll have to do them again!" "My queen please. If you need to talk about it..." Gabrielle cut her off. "There’s nothing to talk about. You’re just wrong it happens." There was absolute silence neither woman willing to budge. Gabrielle was the first to speak. "Listen Reseda I may be married to a woman but I do know how babies are made. That’s how I know you’re wrong okay?" "Gabrielle." She began quite informally "You are my queen and even if not you are a fellow Amazon and you must understand I would never break your confidence. Anything you say to me stays right here." She gestured at the hut. The queen knew this was the truth and realized that whatever she had it must have the same symptoms as pregnancy. "You really think I’m pregnant?"

Gabrielle queried. The healer nodded affirmably. "Can you think of any other ailment that has the same symptoms?" No nodded the healer. " Since I can’t convince you have Xena examine you when she returns then." Thank goodness the healer didn’t connect the double meaning of that statement. "I will." She said "Thank-you."

Back at her hut the queen made herself some tea. After leaving the healers hut she went by her office. She fibbed to Rena that Reseda had said it was a slight stomach thing and with some herbs she’d be good as new in a few more days. After reading the latest message from Xena and the troops she knew she would really be fine in a few days because Xena would be back. She couldn’t wait to tell her that Reseda had thought her pregnant. She knew they’d get a big laugh out of that one. Xena’ll call her a quack I bet. She was feeling drained and even though it was only mid afternoon she decided to lie down and catch a nap.

She was asleep almost the instant her head hit the pillow. Once she became aware of her surroundings she got very alarmed. She found herself at the edge of the lava pit where she and Hope had fallen in. No one else was there. She called about for Xena but got no response. She tried to move away from the pit but her feet felt fasten to the floor. She looked around and saw her reflection in a battle shield. This wasn’t the past but the present. She really began to feel afraid. Once again she called out for Xena in a much louder voice but still got no answer. Then she saw a figure in the Shadows. "Oh thank the Gods Xena." As she got a better look at the silhouette she realized it wasn’t Xena. Gabrielle was frozen with fear. She knew who it was but she still asked. "Who are you?" There was no reply. "What do you want?" Finally an all too familiar voice said. "What I’ve always wanted mother. Why your happiness of course." Gabrielle gasped as Hope came out of the shadow into the light. "Hope." Was all she could bring from her lips. "Yes mother it’s me. I just wanted to come to you and wish you well on the new addition to our family." Gabrielle felt as if she couldn’t breath. Her heart was pounding so loudly in her chest she almost couldn’t make out Hope’s next words. "Please do right by this child won’t you." All at once Gabrielle got her air back and after a few seconds realized she was in her bed at home. It was a dream but what a disturbing one. She felt tears welling up in her eyes. "Oh Gods not again." She cried out. She leaned over the bed and threw up. She hurriedly got out of bed and got a few pieces of parchment. As she began to write her tears fell freely. She picked up the teacup she had left on the table and screamed as she threw it against the wall. She slumped to the floor and began crying and slamming her fist on the floor. All of a sudden the door to her hut was formidable opened and one of her personal guards came rushing to her side. "My queen, what’s wrong?" As they lay on floor Aminta just held her while she wailed. Finally she was able to say in an addible tone "Please get Rena I need to see her right away."


Gabrielle had some look of composure when Rena arrived. Once Aminta ushered her inside the queen said "Leave us." The guard complied and left the two women alone. Rena was stunned at the look of her queen and friend. She waited for direction from her before moving. Gabrielle wiped at her red swollen eyes and then asked her to join her on the sofa. Rena could hold out no longer. "Oh Gods Gabrielle what’s wrong." She feared the worse. She was waiting for her friend to tell her that Xena was dead because she could see such anguish on her face. She didn’t know how she was going to comfort her Xena was her life. As Rena braced herself the queen began. "I need you to listen to me and not speak until I’m through." The regent nodded yes. " If you give me time I’ll tell you everything." The red head reached for one of Gabby’s hands. "Something has happened and I must leave." Rena started to speak but stopped herself. "I’m going to be totally honest with you not just because you’re my second but next to Xena you’re my best friend. I’m pregnant." She wouldn’t have been able to speak if the queen told her too. "Yes it was quite a shock for me too. Do you remember me telling you about my daughter Hope? She shook her head yes. "Somehow, I don’t know how, Dahok has impregnated me again." There was an eerie silence. " You know what that did to me, to Xena. I can’t go through that again." Tears began to fall from her face yet she smiled a little. "It’s funny I’ve been so happy here. Xena and I are probably the happiest we’ve even been. I never saw it coming." Again there was silence and Rena reached over to hug her friend. Finally she was able to speak. "Oh Good Gods Gabby I’m so sorry. Does Xena know?" "No and we have to keep it that way." "But Gabby.." The queen waved her off. " You must promise me not a word to Xena." The regent stood up from the couch and was shaking her head no. "Gabrielle I can’t. She’ll die when she comes back and you’re not here." She tried for some sense of reality. "Hey maybe the healers wrong. I mean how can you be sure?" " I had a dream." Rena looked at her friend with disbelief. Gabrielle was feeling desperate. "Hey, I told you because I need your help!" "Gabby I’m here. Be realistic for a second we both know Xena and if I just tell her you left but I can’t tell her why what do you think will happen? "She’ll probably put the pinch on you." Gabrielle surmised. "Exactly. Besides we’re your family honey you shouldn’t leave. We’ll help you with the baby." Now it was Gabby’s turn to pace. " You don’t understand it won’t really be a baby. It will be some evil entity just like Hope that will have to be destroyed." She was starting to lose it. "You have no idea the pain and suffering we went through I can’t do it again. I'll kill this thing and myself first. Don’t you understand?" She grabbed her by the shoulders and Gabrielle broke down again. She just held onto her friend quietly while she sobbed. Once the sobbing had subsided Rena looked in green eyes that almost matched her own and said. "What do you need me to do?"

It had been a long trip for the warrior. Sometimes being the law of the land was much harder than being a warlord. Still being Xena meant skirmishes that would take months to conclude usually just took weeks. Riding along beside her was her second in command they looked up and gave each other a knowing smile. "It’s good to be home eh Xena?" " You said it Taren." " I’m really looking forward to a little quite time with the family." Xena just nodded in agreement. Some good Gabrielle lovin’ is just around the next bend, she thought to herself. Once the group reached the village family members came rushing up to greet their weary love ones. The chatter and excitement was reaching a fervent

pitch. Xena sat atop Argo II searching the crowd for her beloved. When she couldn’t find her she realized she was probably in her office hut. She dismounted the mare and gave her reins to a wrangler and walk up to Taren. She looked at her second and said "Let’s go give our report." Taren followed her commander up the rise to the queen’s office. Xena stopped to address Sati the captain of the royal guard. " We are here to address the queen." Xena really didn’t care for this entire hierarchy business still she felt it very important to give Gabrielle the respect she had earned and deserved. "Ah commander one moment please I will announce you." Nothing seemed out of place until she walked by the guards and saw that Gabrielle wasn’t inside. She sensed things were askew but protocol wouldn‘t allow for her to enquire just yet. Rena saw the concern on the warrior’s face but addressing them would have to wait. Xena gave her report of the border skirmish to the acting regent while Taren stayed silent. After she had finished Rena thanked them and then dismissed them. Xena decided she would stay and talk to her to find out if all was well. She told her second to go to the forces and dismiss them and then tell them to report back in three days for training exercises. After Taren left to fulfill her duties Xena turned to face the young regent staying silent knowing that she must speak first. Rena was aware she needed to tell the warrior something about what was going on but didn’t want to reveal too much all at once. Images played out in her mind of the long night spent with her queen finally convincing her not to leave and to talk to Xena first. Rena smiled as she looked up to speak to her friend's lover. "Xena welcome back." " Thanks." " Gabrielle has been feeling a little under the weather lately. Not to worry though Reseda says it’s just a slight stomach thing." Gabrielle went to the healer? It must be one hell of a stomach thing. "Where is she?" Xena asked quite calmly considering. "She’s at home waiting for you dear." With that she turned and left.

The warrior was getting an uncomfortable feeling the closer she got to their hut. She told herself she was just over reacting but she knew that if Gabrielle's illness required she visit the healer it must be serious. She opened the door and passed over the threshold to complete silence. She walked over and opened the bedroom door and again was greeted by stillness. She began to calmly call out her wife’s name as she walked over to the bathing chamber. Nothing, feeling an alarm in the pit of her stomach she spun around searching the common room for any clues to her bards whereabouts. Suddenly her eyes were drawn to a piece of parchment lying on the table. As she got closer to it she could feel the muscles in her throat constrict. She felt the need to sit-down and tried to settle herself before she began to read Gabrielle’s words:

My Darling Xena;

We have been through so much together and our love has only grown stronger through each ordeal. However what is about to occur is something I can not asked you to endure. It pains me terribly to have to leave this way because these past few years living with the amazons and having you at my side in a place we can call home has meant the world to me. Never forget that I love you with all of my heart and soul. I will never stop loving or being thankful for our time together. You were the best thing that ever happened to me!

Yours always,




Xena ran out of the hut and grabbed the first horse she saw. Amazons watched in wonder as they saw the wordless woman mount and gallop away. She rode the horse hard and fast hoping that she would be right and find her lover at

their hideaway. Hang on sweetheart I’m coming. Please don’t hurt yourself. Please!’ She felt the tears streaming down her face, as she had to accept the fact that her darling Gabrielle must be dying. Anger and fear rocked her to the core. She knew that Gabrielle didn’t want to put her through the agony of watching her die. Can’t think of that now. Must hurry. She kneed the horse to go even faster. Finally she reached the opening of the carven and called out frantically for her soulmate. "Xena I’m over here." She heard from the back of the cave and ran to her beloved. She could see the blonde woman had been weeping and was surprised when she fell into the warriors’ hasty embrace. "Thank the Gods you’re all right." The warrior said breathing a sigh of relief. Xena stayed silent and just held onto her as Gabrielle sobbed her lover‘s arms. "Xena please don’t be angry with me." The warrior was stunned. How could she be upset with her at a time like this? "I’m so sorry. I don't know how this happened." Xena knew how, it was some fucked up plan of the fates to finally ruin her life! The blonde broke their embrace and wiped at her wet eyes. When she had left the village she had no intention of coming to the first place Xena would go looking for her but in her dazed state she had ended up here. She felt safe here and really couldn’t think of anywhere else to go. She began to cry again and Xena stepped over to her and pulled her in a soothing hug. The bard tried to pull away at first but gave in to her emotions and started wailing. Xena could see the utter pain on her lover’s face and felt her own heart breaking. The warrior had so many questions for her but didn’t know where to start. "Why’d you run away sweetheart?" " I couldn’t put you through it." "Gabrielle you know that no matter what happens to us we always do better when we stay together. I need to be with you now more than ever. Please don’t shut me out. Let me help you." "Xena what am I going to do?" She could see the absolute fear in her lover’s eyes. Xena took hold of both the bard’s hands trying to reassure her. "We will get through this. Together." " Why is this happening?" Asked the smaller woman. "Haven’t we paid enough for our transgression?" She started to cry again. Xena tried to hold on but this time she broke away. "I can’t. I can’t do this!" She screamed. Xena stood up and approached her gingerly. "Sweetheart it’s all right." "No Xena I can’t have this baby. I’ll die first!" Her voice level was rising. The realization of the situation finally hit the warrior harder than any punch she’d ever received. Good gods Aphrodite what have you done! Her anger at the love goddess was boiling over. She was trying to listen to her companion while having images of choking the life out of Aphrodite. She fucking immortal she wouldn’t die! "Xena you know it’s the right thing." "Are you sure Gabrielle?" I mean we could have someone else raise it if you didn’t want too." The blonde was aghast and was quiet for a bit while she repeated Xena’s words in her mind. "What are you saying? Why would we, let alone anyone else, want to raise this abomination?" "Gabrielle I know it’s conception was surly out of the norm but..." "Xena have you gone insane? After everything we went through with Hope how could you even question me?" "What? Wait a minute you think Dahok is the father?" The raven-haired woman began to laugh out of relief mostly. When she had first come into the cavern she thought she would fine the love of her life slain by her own hand thinking that she had a terminal illness. Then she realized that Aphrodite went against her requests and gave Gabrielle that damn pregnant concoction anyway and to top it all off Gabrielle thought that she was having another progeny of Dahok's. The bard was beginning to get very upset at this woman she loved so deeply. Why was Xena laughing at this catastrophe? The warrior noticed that she was not amused. She moved over to her and tried to encourage her. She knew the bard was irate when she said. "What’s so damn funny?" "Oh Gabrielle nothing. I’m sorry. From your message and what Rena said I thought you were dieing." "I wish I were." She returned sadly. Xena had to ask her "What makes you think its Dahok?" "I had a dream. An awful dream. It was at the lava pit. Hope spoke to me." That sent shivers up the warrior’s spine. "Gabrielle Hope is dead." "Xena Hope is an evil entity just like Dahok." She tried to reason. She strolled up and put her hand on her bard’s shoulders. "Sweetheart look at me." The bard hesitated and then looked up into her partners loving blue eyes. "It’s not Dahok’s baby." Damn it Aphrodite you had better have done it now! " I’m pregnant and I haven’t been sleeping with anyone except you so who else could the father be? There was an extended silence then Xena spoke. "Me, it’s me."

Xena told her everything. Gabrielle stood quietly with no expression on her face. Finally the bard spoke. "Whoa." "Do you believe me when I tell you that I had no idea she would do this on her own?" "Yes Xena I do." Then a few more pauses of silence. Gabrielle started shaking her head, "So I’m really pregnant and the baby’s father is you?" Xena nodded in agreement. "Whoa." She said again. "Yep." Added the warrior who missed the little smile on the bard’s face. I know she doesn’t want to have this baby. What do I say to tell it’s going to be okay? Xena put her arms on her lover’s shoulders and looked into her eyes. "We will get through this. Look if Aphrodite has some potion to get a woman pregnant then she must have something that can reverse it right?" What did she just say? Oh no! She doesn’t want us to have this baby! Gabby felt the

pit of her stomach drop. Xena wasn’t happy about this. That’s why she told Aphrodite not to do it. She suddenly felt very sad. All the times she had dreamed of this moment. She had thought Xena wanted this too. It’s because of what happened with Eve. That’s it. Oh Gods but I want to have this baby. I need to have this. How can I do this and not lose her. "Gabrielle?" "Huh?" "I said is that all right?" " I’m sorry what did you say?" "I said I’d call on Aphrodite to see if she can reverse it." "Okay." She said with sorrow. "Aphro.." "Xena stop!" Screamed the bard. "This is all happening way too fast." The warrior looked at her with empathy. "I’m sorry sweetheart you’re right let’s sit down." They went over and sat on the rocks. The bard began "Xena we should talk about this before you call for Aphrodite. Now I know this was something we weren’t planning on." "I’ll say." "But now we have some serious decisions to make." Xena had to think of something to say to help her love with this hard choice. "Gabrielle I’ll understand if you don’t want to keep this baby." No I won’t! It was time for the blonde to say what she feared must. "Xena I love you more than I’ll ever be able to tell you. If you decide to leave I won’t try to stop you but I’m keeping this baby." The shock of her words was written all over the warrior’s face. "What did you say?" The dark haired woman wasn’t sure she’d heard right but interrupted before the other woman had a chance to repeat it. "You want to have this baby?" "Yes Xena. And I will have it even if you don’t want me to." "Don’t want you to?" She asked confused. "Gabrielle nothing would make me happier. But you said you didn’t want to." "No I didn’t. I’ve always wanted to have a baby with you." As they talked more they ironed out the confusion that had lead each of them to think the other one didn’t want this baby. As time passed they were becoming more comfortable with the idea of their impending bundle of joy. Xena looked at her with so much love and said. "You are going to be the most beautiful mother ever." At her words the smaller woman blushed. "Thank you. I know for a fact that you are the most beautiful father any kid could have."

They had talked and laughed all the way back to the village. They decided they had to have a conference with the goddess of love about her meddling. Xena felt a direct approach would be the correct course of action, action being the operative word. Gabrielle sensed that other words like kick and punch would also follow. For the bard the more indirect approach seemed at hand with examples of how interfering can be harmful to others. Even though the couple was excited about their current predicament they still felt they had to be firm with the goddess. Once they arrived back at their hut Gabrielle called upon the deity to make an appearance. Materializing in front of them she wasn’t ready for the upcoming lecture. Xena went first speaking as calmly as she could manage lowering her tone a bit each time her wife cleared her throat. Gabrielle was slightly amused watching Xena chastised the goddess. She knew Aphrodite well enough to know she was barely listening to her go on and on. Still she was pleased by the effort the goddess made to seem attentive. Once Xena seemed to run out of steam the bard spoke. "Thank you dear for your explanation on the dangers of interfering and I know Aphrodite has seen the error of her ways." NOT! "If you don’t mind I’d like to speak to her alone for awhile." Xena didn’t seem to mind. "Sure I’ve got some things to attend to anyway. See you in a few hours then?" Gabrielle nodded and then leaned in to catch a kiss from her warrior. Now how was the smaller blonde woman going to talk seriously to her friend for meddling when all she wanted to do was hug her and say thank you over and over again. After Xena closed the door behind her Gabrielle cleared her throat which made the goddess slightly uneasy. She then put on her most serious scowl and began with, "Aphrodite, you know that Xena and I love you very much but..." Whoa another kick in the ass harangue mortal style. Where‘s the dude to let me off this ride? The bard was standing with her hands behind her back and then started pacing in front of the goddess undoubtedly searching her thoughts on how to began her lecture about butting in. Then her mind went off on a tangent to a memory of the night at the cave. Flashes of Xena’s hand here and there and then her hands on Xena here and there. Looking at her friend a cold sweat began to form on her body. "Aphrodite!" She started to chastise. "Did you watch..." stopping she thought. No I’m not going there with her. Restoring her composure Gabrielle said "I really only have one question for you. Why?" "Because you deserve it Gabs." "Maybe but you were making an awfully big assumption there." "As if. The love goodness returned with a sly smile. "See I knew you wanted to have a baby with Xena cos you told me so and see then I found out Xena wanted to give ya one from her thoughts." Gabrielle was quiet for a moment and then went and sat down beside her friend with

an unsure look on her face. "You don’t mean that forehead thing do you?" The goddess didn’t answer but the queen knew that’s what had happened. "You mean that really works?" "Well duh." Returned the goddess " All those times we did that I thought you were just screwing around." They both began to laugh. After a few moments of silence the bard said to her friend. "But the question of why still remains. Why us?" The goddess who was never serious now showed a side to herself even her close friend had rarely seen. "Hey I’m the goddess of love so I know when two people are meant to be together." "Yes that’s true but if you look around just in this village you’d see many couples like us." "Naw you two take the love thing to its highest level." The bard began to blush at that knowing that she and her warrior could put out some heat. "Still what you gave us", she paused, "there are so many here that deserved it as well. It’s something so many women would love to be able to do for each other." "Ya but remember it don’t work for just any couple. Like I told Xena first there has to be true love than there has to be the desire to produce the little spud." "I don’t know Dite I see that in a lot of faces around here. If they knew that they didn’t have to have a man involved in the process so many would choose it. It’s not fair for only us to get that opportunity can’t you see that?" The goddess mulled her friend’s words over wondering how she’d explain a cosmic issue as complicated as this. "Gabby I hear what you’re saying and I wish I could do it but there’s a rhyme and reason to the universe. If I made the stuff readily available it would throw the whole world outta balance. There will one-day come a time when you chicks can be your own studs but the world’s gotta go through some changes first. Dig?" Gabrielle was starting to get creeped-out by this side of the Goddess. She so rarely showed any insight in anything other than accessorizing. "Still I feel guilty you giving something this special just to us." "Well sweat pea I have done it for a few others. Where do you think Virgil came from?" Gabrielle was shocked at her words. "I don't understand. Oh wait that’s right Xena did tell me once that Meg couldn’t have children but when we met Virgil I just figured that Meg had been mistaken." "Nope all true. That’s all Meg ever wanted expect for Joxer that is." Gabrielle smiled at the memory of her friend as an old man proudly introducing them to his eldest son. "But they had several more than just Virgil?" The goddess winked at her friend. "Hey when you got a good thing going why stop right?" The bard just laughed at her silly friend. Then the goddess asked earnestly, "Gabby are you mad at me?" The small blonde just smiled and reached out to touch her friend’s arm. "No. And neither is Xena." "I don’t know Gabs she seemed pretty pissed." " Well you know how proud she is. She never wants help from anybody. Especially a god" "Whoa totally, that warrior chick is tougher than getting laid by three guys while riding in a chariot headed straight up Mount Olympus in a hailstorm." Gabrielle took a second to mull that one over. "Listen now you have to promise me you’ll never do anything like this again without our consent. Promise?" Dite looked a little deflated but nodded in agreement. The goddess looked at her friend who was getting ready to say something else but interrupted her. "Look Gabs please I’ve had enough reprimanding for one day. Xena’s little tirade kept like totally blowing my hair outta place." Gabrielle gave her friend a sidelong glance. "Well I still have one more thing to say to you." Dite braced herself. "What?" The bard looked around hoping her warrior wasn’t in earshot. "Thank-you." The love goddess grew a brilliant smile and leaned close to give her pal a squeeze. "Hey I’m gonna split before tall dark and infuriated comes back." She gave the bard a quick peck on the cheek got ready for her departure and signed off with "later girlfriend."

The warrior was glad the days were getting longer. She had so much to do to get them ready before the baby was born. She knew she’d need to make the hut bigger and she wanted to make a crib. Her hardest task was trying to keep Gabrielle from doing too much even though her bard kept insisting she was fine and for the warrior to lighten up she wasn’t even showing yet. The whole camp was alive with activity. The queen was astounded by everyone’s jubilation at her pregnancy, "You’d think these women had never seen a pregnant woman before." She would say to Xena but the warrior knew that to the smaller woman this was the most exciting time of her life, both their lives. Xena would also pretend to be aggravated when the bard would call her daddy but inside she loved it. Aphrodite would pop in frequently and the bard had to explain to her why it was more polite to materialize on the outside of their door instead of inside and the goddess learned on her own the importance of knocking before

entering. Xena had been so preoccupied with the impending birth that she had forgotten about the other upcoming event until the day Taren came by to discuss the early arrival of a few of the guest. The younger warrior approached the royal hut cautiously looking around for her queen pleased that she only saw Xena she went up to her. "Hey Xena." "Taren what brings you here on this fine day?" The brunette snickered to herself Can this be the same woman they called the destroyer of nations? "By the gods Xena, fatherhood certainly is agreeing with you." "Very funny Taren. You know it’s not really safe to tease a warrior with a hammer in her hand. Brown eyes just laughed at her friend and commander. Hey thanks for picking up my slack lately." Xena said changing the subject. "Not a problem. Hey the addition is looking great you’ll have it finished long before you need to. Are you having any luck getting our queen to rest any?" "Hell why not ask me to do something I’d have more success at." Taren thought for a moment knowing her queen as she did, she gave " Okay how about making it cooler around her it’s been awfully hot lately." "Sure I’ll get right on it." The friends were laughing and enjoying themselves so much Taren had almost forgotten why she’d come by in the first place. "Oh Gabrielle’s family just arrived. Where should I put them not to spoil the surprise?" Xena stopped her work to put the pieces together. Family. Surprise. Then she felt as if a tree had hit her. Oh good Gods the party! Our anniversary! She displayed a horrified glare when she asked Taren. "What day is it?" "The twentieth of the month." "I still have a week." Xena dropped the hammer and went running off as Taren called to her. "What I’m I supposed to do with..." She froze as she saw Gabrielle approaching. While Xena who also spotted the bard came nonchalantly walking back her way. The two warriors were familiar enough to communicate to each other without saying a word. With one look Xena told her to take Lila and Sarah over to encampment five, the one farthest from the main village,

and deposit them there until they could be brought in to surprise the queen. They were doing an exceptional job not alerting their queen to anything out of the ordinary. Xena mumbled something to her second right before the blonde came into earshot. Taren knew it was just some nonsense said to throw her off and it worked. "I’ll take care of that right away commander." She said trying to sound official then she finished it with, "Good day to you my queen." and bowed as she walked away realizing that was a close one. Gabrielle leaned up to give her lover a welcoming kiss, which the warrior enjoyed immensely. Their love life had always been good but since her bard’s pregnancy it had gotten even better. When she was expecting Eve there was a tension between them because they didn’t know the circumstances of the conception. She knew that while Gabrielle tried to appear happy about it she wasn’t sure that Xena was being honest with her about not knowing the father’s identity. She could tell that the bard had suspected Ares and sensed her distress about it. As the warrior captured a moment in her memories of that time she went back to a night by the fire when she was five months pregnant. Gabrielle had been uncommonly pensive that day and Xena wanted to help her feel better and to get her to talk about what was bothering her. The bard however was to busy caring for her expectant friend. "Please Gabrielle you’ve been taking care of me so much lately let me take care of you for a change." "It’s all right Xena I’m fine. You need to rest." The warrior put her hand on her friend’s cheek to turn her face towards hers for a kiss but the bard pulled away. "Gabrielle please tell me what’s wrong." She could hear the plea in Xena’s voice. She wasn’t sure how to voice her feelings. She loved Xena so much. She thought Xena felt the same for her, which meant that there were no other people in their lives. But Xena must also have feelings for someone else. She hoped it was Hercules and not whom she really thought it was. Damn she hated feeling this way. She just didn’t want to share Xena with anyone. She knew that whom ever the father was he deserved to know. Why can’t she tell me? I really have a right to know who my competition is. She was now ready to speak. "I’ve been thinking, your baby should really be with both it‘s parents. I know you love me but..." Xena was going to but in. "Please let me finish. I know you love me and I love you too but we need to do what’s best for your baby. You should go to the father and at least let him know. Then he, I mean you and he can make the best decisions for all of you. I think that’s only fair don’t you?" What she really wanted to say was please tell me who it is so I can rip his heart out! Xena wanted to cry. She was a little scared about who the father might be herself. She hadn’t slept with anyone except Gabrielle but she could understand why she didn’t believe her. Hell sometimes she even doubted herself. She was also worried that having this baby might drive Gabrielle away. When she’d asked the warrior to, Take me with you. Teach me everything you know helping care for an infant whose conception was a mystery probably wasn’t one of those things. How do I tell her what’s in my heart? The warrior silently asked anyone. "Gabrielle I need you to listen to me. I love you. Only you. You have been the only one for a very long time. Even if I could I wouldn’t want to be with anyone else. Honestly I don’t know how this happened. Whoever the father of this baby is I would never chose him over you. As far as I’m concerned this is our baby yours and mine, together. I would be honored

if you would help me bring up this child. If you think you might want to?" Xena finally gazed over at the blonde who had tears streaming down her cheeks she hadn’t noticed but she was crying too. The bard stood up and came and sat next to the warrior and placed her in a comforting embrace. "Xena It would be a privilege to help raise your child." "Our child." Xena corrected. "Our child." Gabrielle amended. Coming back to the present Xena just stood and took a long lavish look at her radiant lover. She wasn’t sure how but she thought she was even more beautiful than before becoming pregnant. "What?" Asked the bard. "Nothing." Returned the warrior. "Can’t a woman admire the mother of her baby?" Gabrielle began to laugh. "What’s so funny?" The taller one questioned. "Xena that’s the most bizarre sentence I think I’ve ever heard." "Yeah I guess it would be, for anyone but us." Gabrielle laughed again "Touché" Xena just gave her a devious smile. "What do I owe this unexpected visit too?" "Nothing really I just needed to take a walk and somehow I just ended up over here." The monarch winked at her lover. "Lucky me than." She knew her next question was going to anger her bard but she couldn’t stop herself. "Are you feeling okay?" "Xena, stop it I’m fine." "You look tired." "Xena!" "Well beautiful and tired. Why not call it a day and get some rest. Please?" That always got her when Xena said please. "All right." The bard fretted. "Just as long as I get a little WPL after dinner." Xena had to stop to think-- WPL, WPL oh Warrior Princess Lovin’ "I’d love to only no marathons today you really need to rest." "So will you." The small woman said with a mischievous grin.

Finally the bard was asleep so the warrior could slip out to attend to her neglected duties. She went down to the encampment to greet Gabrielle’s family. She had so much to do to get ready for the anniversary party. Thank the Gods she had help. She needed to make sure Lila and Sarah were comfortable enough since they’d be living in a mock war camp until the party. She also wasn’t sure if she should tell them about the baby news. She had so many things rolling around in her head she wanted to scream. Boy this domestic bliss stuff is a hell of a lot a work. Give me a bloody old battle any day. Once at the camp she saw Taren. She went over to her second to get an update. " How goes it?" "Fine Xena just fine. The queen’s family is getting settled and I’ve arranged for several of our best soldiers to stay with them. I’ve also placed scouts at various look out points just incase the queen or any other busy bodies decide to take a walk to far from the village." Xena smiled at the woman and said "Taren you’re the best." The younger warrior took the complement from her commander but then notice the pensive almost desperate look on her face. "And how goes it with you?" She motioned for her friend to move anyway from the tents over to a nice and quiet private place so they could talk. "I’ve got so much I need to get done and I just feel the days slipping away. I’ve been so focused on the baby stuff I forgot about the party and I still haven’t figured out what to get Gabrielle. I mean I can take on twenty warriors in my sleep," Taren nodded to that statement. "but all of this family stuff is driving me over the edge." The younger brunette could sympathize with her friend. War was easy compared to family matters. She never expected to ever be with just one woman but then she met Mehadi. On the surface they seemed to have nothing in common. She never anticipated she’d fall in love but she did. And for the village’s head chef no less. She still considered herself a rouge even though after about a month together she spent the night with her lover and then just never went back to her own hut. When Mehadi started talking about wanting kids she was waiting for the panic to set in but it didn’t. Still a spouse and kids was the hardest job around. Emphasizing she needed to calm her friend down. "Xena everything will be fine. We’ve still got a week so that’s plenty of time. Look I’ll get with Rena and Sati to make sure they’re okay on the arrangements. Mehadi is set with all the food. You just concentrate on the gift. We’ll take care of the rest." "That's just it I haven’t been able to come up with anything." "Well you are giving her a surprise anniversary party isn’t that good enough?" As soon as Taren finished that sentence she knew what her friend would say next. "Nothing is good enough for Gabrielle." "Maybe that’s why you can’t think of anything but Xena she loves you and what ever you get her she’ll love it because it came from you." "I know but I still can’t help the way I feel." She gave the warrior princess a comforting squeeze on the shoulder. "Hey I need to get back and check in with Rena you gonna be all right?" Inquired the brunette. "Yeah I’ll need to get back soon myself I left Gabrielle sleeping." "Well at least you got her to rest." Flashes of their recent lovemaking came into her mind but she just remarked "Yeah." The younger woman could still see the pain in her friend’s eyes and tried once more to soothe her. "Come on Xena relax everything’ll work out just fine you'll see." She nodded "I know you’re right. Hey see you later than I’d better go say hi

to the early arrivals. I just hope no one else shows up too soon I don’t think I could take it."


The warrior walked with assurance back to her hut. Lila and Sarah were going to be fine. Lila apologizing about getting the dates mixed up. They seemed quite willing to be in less then idea surroundings for the duration until the party. She had decided not to mention her bard’s condition. That was a proverbial can of worms she didn’t want to open by herself. Before heading home she decided to take a detour by the stables and check on Argo II. As she was walking along she came upon the rhythmic pounding of the blacksmith. It was nearly dark but Zeva still seemed hard at work. For some unknown reason she was drawn to go over and see what the woman was working on. She figured it was something artistic. On occasion the warrior envied people like Zeva and Gabrielle who were able to create something useful or insightful with their hands instead of mayhem like she did. The smith was stunned by the appearance of the warrior since she had just made new shoes for her horse. What she knew of her queen’s consort was that she was all business and when she needed the services of the village’s blacksmith she would get right to it. But there was silence as she watched her work. When Zeva got to a stopping point she looked up. "Evening Xena how can I help you?" The warrior didn’t know what to say. She really didn’t know why she came over. All at once she had an epiphany, divine intervention maybe she was afraid to really go with that thought. Still hoping against hope that this was an exclusive inspiration the words started to pour out. "I need to get a present for Gabrielle. I can’t think of anything practical so I thought..." "Say no more." The faintly gray haired amazon said smiling as she turned to get her assortment of creations. Xena browsed through the pieces and found them all beautiful then her eyes were drawn to a plain gold band. She picked it up and looked at it and wondered if this simple piece could be what she had been searching for all along. "Find anything you like?" Asked the smith. "Oh yes." Stated the warrior. "I’ll take this. Can you inscribe something on it?" "Sure. Inside or out?" Xena looked a little confused. "Actually I hadn’t thought about that. What do you suggest?" The smith considered the question for a second. "Well inside would keep it hidden while she wears it, if you’d preferred that." The warrior thought about it. "Yeah that would be fine." Than she thought about what she wanted it to say and then changed her mind. "On second thought I think outside would be better. How long would it take you?" The older amazon could see the trepidation on her face. "Oh I could have it ready for ya in about five days." She saw the warrior’s tension ease. "Fine here’s what I’d like it to say."


The day had arrived. Xena was proud of the village their queen didn’t suspect a thing. As she walked down to the encampment, dubbed ‘hideout central’ by Taren, the excitement was giving her butterflies. Tonight would be a party to remember, she hoped. She’d rather have spent her anniversary quietly alone with her bride. But she knew that a party would make the queen and her

loyal subjects happier besides she was looking forward to seeing Eve; it had been too long. And Virgil who was looking more and more like his father every time she saw him. Yes and Lila who didn’t care for this worn out old warrior long ago but now seemed to be glad that her sister had someone so devoted to her. As she walked inside the tent she saw her daughter. "Eve." The Elijian had been conversing with Lila’s daughter Sarah before she heard her mother's voice. Quickly she turned around to meet her mother’s gaze. They hurriedly rush to embrace each other. Xena missed her daughter so much sometimes. She was proud of what she over came. Sometimes she wished that she had grown to be an amazon princess and not the champion of Rome. They had talked from time to time about the years that they had missed. But they agreed that past was past and that they should be thankful for the time they had now. After they broke off the embrace she caught sight of Virgil who was talking to Taren. What a dashing young man he was. Meg and Joxer had done a terrific job. He was a caring and supportive person. He was always so proud of his dad. Joxer I know you see him. What a fine man his is. His attention was drawn to the tender moment between mother and daughter and he waited to get his hug from the warrior. "Xena so good to see you, it’s been too long." After all the reunions finished Rena got everyone’s attention and told them of the scenario for the coming surprise bash. She and Taren had worked it down like a well planned out battle. Xena was very proud of her second not to mention Gabrielle's. Once everyone knew what they were to do they began to put it all in motion. Xena’s part was easy. Bring the queen to the dinning hall same time as always for the end of the month meal. She would expect this to be a time of good food and camaraderie but also an open forum for any concerns of the village and the amazons about the future of the nation. But this night would be just a party.

Xena’s excitement grew the closer she got to their hut. Life was so damn good right now. She couldn’t remember every being this happy. At first when they deiced to get off the road and come live with the amazons she had felt funny knowing that her big bad warrior reputation was being eroded away by people seeing her interact with Gabrielle. The former destroyer of nations was reduced to a puddle of goo whenever the bard was around. She knew that her face just glowed with the love she felt for her and that she was powerless to hide it. But instead of the teasing she expected from them what she got was honest admiration. The depth of their bond overwhelmed most of the women. Some couples seemed jealous of it. For all her many skills her bond with Gabrielle was her proudest achievement. Once she had her hand on the door she felt it give from the other side. "Hey where're you’ been I'm starved." "Hey keep your shirt on." Returned the warrior. Gabrielle was waiting for Xena’s naughty remark. "On second thought." The warrior reached out as if she were going to claim the bard’s breast. "Not a chance Miss randy I’m way too hungry. You’ll have to feed

me first." "Good that’s means I still have a chance." She licked her lips. The bard smiled and shook her head. "Xena you’re such a scoundrel." "Yes but I’m your scoundrel." "Yes you are." "Hey I know your starving but.." The bard gave her a dirty look. "I need to freshen up. I promise I’ll be quick about it." "Okay, okay." She said reluctantly. "I guess you’re worth waiting for." She signed. Xena gave her a quick kiss and went to rinse off and collect the memento she had for Gabrielle.

There was a slight breeze in the warm evening air as the warrior and bard made their way over to the dinning hall. The blonde was bemused at the

lack of illumination and the stillness inside the building that usually was intense as daylight and noisier than any tavern she’d been in. "Xena?" She said with great concern in her voice. "I don’t know?" The warrior played along. "Why don’t you go on inside and I’ll check the back." The bard gave a nod and walked on inside. Xena stayed right where she was waiting for the signal to proceed. Once inside Gabrielle found some flint and lit a torch. "Surprise!" Yelled out the inhabitants of the room. She turned around and began to blush profusely. She jumped when Xena put a hand on her shoulder. "Did you know about this?" Asked the bard of her warrior. Xena just shrugged and tried to look innocent. Rena came up to escort the queen to her seat of honor. Xena followed closely behind. As everyone took their seats the warrior leaned over and whispered in Rena’s ear. Once she got them all quieted down she began to speak. "Xena wanted to remind me that her highness is famished so we need to get the festivities under way." The crowd gave a light chuckle while their queen blushed. "Queen Gabrielle, Xena Warrior Princess, in honor of the sixth anniversary of your joining ceremony we have decided to for go the usual monthly gathering for a grand celebration of that joyous day." "Here, Here" chimed the crowd. Before we bring out tonight’s feast I want to introduce to you our distinguished guests courtesy of tall, dark and devious over there." Titling her head towards the warrior as laughter circled the room. "First I know we don’t have many male visitors to our village but for him we’ll make an exception. Please welcome the eldest son of their old friend Joxer, Virgil." As the buff young man entered the building and headed toward the front table he was greeted with whistles and lewd comments. "Ladies! Please! " The regent chastised "and I use the term ladies with extreme trepidation." The crowd settled a bit as more laughter rang out. Virgil gave Xena a warrior hand shake and then gave Gabrielle a hug after which he proceeded to his seat and tried to ignore the wondering eyes he felt upon him. "I’m almost afraid to introduce anyone else. Rena inferred. "Next, please welcome, more calmly; please Her majesty’s sister Lila and Lila’s daughter Sarah." The redhead was relieved with the diminutive methodical round of applause from the assembly as mother and daughter ambled in. Once they reach the table they too greeted the happy couple with loving embraces then took their seats. Okay when I introduce the next one I wonder if the dykes will howl with Xena in the room? "Lastly let us welcome their daughter Eve of the Elijians." Eve walked in to the same orderliness of the other women. Aw just as I expected not a peep. The regent thought mildly amused. Once Eve had greeted her moms, Gabrielle who was stunned by all this leaned over and kissed her lover soundly. "I take it you approve of this little get together?" The bard kissed her again as the kiss lengthened someone yelled out. "Knock it off you two we’re hungry." Everyone laughed and clapped. "I swear you get more than three amazons in a room and the decorum drops to the floor." Rena teased. "Now raise your mugs and let’s toast our queen and her consort on many joyous years to come. "Here. Here." Toasted the community. Then out came the feast.

Everyone had had a grand old time. The food was fabulous. The queen seemed to acknowledge Mehadi between each bite. Xena was finally able to relax a little now that the party had gone so well. She, Taren and Rena did have to dodge quips from her highness about how sneaky they all were and if it was really a good thing or not. The warrior looked over at her wife. She glanced down at the black pouch stashed under her leathers. She was wondering when would be an appropriate time to give her the present. The dinning hall was not private enough. Gods I hope she like it. As she squirmed around in her chair a small hand touched her thigh while another small hand cupped up to cover what was whispered in her ear. "Is my warrior princess getting restless... or horny?" Xena’s faced flushed bright red and then she jumped as she reacted to the hand that had just moments ago been on her thigh pinched her butt. At that movement the individuals around the table stopped and looked her way. She tried to play it off as best she could by clearing her throat and saying. "Excuse me." But she saw their smirking faces and she knew that they were aware of exactly what had transpired. As her blush and embarrassment were fading she thought, Gabrielle you little scamp, you may not want to find out just how restless and horny I really am.

As the banquet was winding down the couple escorted their family to their bungalow. It was time to tell them of the new addition. The queen was very proud of her citizens as she could tell none of the relatives suspected a

thing. She did make Aphrodite promise to wait until she was summoned for her next visit. She wanted to gage their reactions first. She figured it would be no big thing for Eve or even Virgil but Lila and Sarah weren’t use to the bizarre endeavors that made up their everyday life. So much of what had happened to them sounded so surreal that it was hard for her to believe it sometimes. But she had lived it and knew it to be true. After her years with Xena there was noting that couldn’t happen. Explaining it to those who weren’t eyewitnesses was the hard part. She just had this image of Lila and Sarah passed out from the shock of yet another un- believable tale of the warrior princess and her battling bard. She was just glad that Xena would be there to pick up the pieces if mayhem ensued.

During the walk back Xena purposely let the others walk a little ahead of them. Sensing the moment she stopped Gabrielle with a gentle tug on the arm. "Hey

before we get to the hut I have something for you." Gabby watched as Xena pulled out a small dark pouch but put her hands over it before she let the warrior open it. "Hang on. Can we do that a little later? I mean after everyone has gone?" "Sure." Xena smiled at her "Whenever you’re ready let me know." The queen couldn’t believe her bravado as she leaned into Xena and said "Oh I’ve passed ready, but I will let you know." Xena was really surprised how much this side of her lover was affecting her. She’s going to kill me before the kid is born. Then she had a brief memory of when she was very pregnant with Eve and she sighed to herself mentally knowing that soon, yes very soon, sex would be a distant memory. Guess I’d better make all the memories I can before than to get me through.

Catching up with everyone had been great fun. Virgil had told them how his mother had really wanted to come but that she just didn’t do well with traveling anymore to which Lila could sympathize. Lila got Gabrielle up to date on things going on in and around their hometown. She also made her daughter Sarah blushed at the mention of her latest beau. Then Eve tried to change the love subject when her parents attempted to press her about it. All in all it had been a great evening. The banquet and the after party had been a success. Now it was time to test the love and understanding of their family members. The couple had decided that Gabrielle would relay the news and Xena would bust heads if necessary. The bard had gone over it many times in her head but looking around at everyone she couldn’t remember how she’d planned to start. I guess the direct approach would be best so let me get everyone’s attention and begin. Deciding to complement them first was how she began. "I wanted to tell you how happy we are to have you here. It has been wonderful seeing all of you. We really should do this more often. And since we have you here Xena and I wanted to give you some great news about us. Now once I tell you the news you will probably have many questions and believe me we will answer all of them." Eve and Virgil looked at each other with moderately expressive looks. Lila and Sarah looked apprehensive. Picking up on that Gabrielle thought. How could they know anything? , Referring to Eve and Virgil, Ah I better get on with it before my sister passes out from worry. "Now everyone it’s a good thing. Believe me we are very happy about it." Xena could see her bard having trouble rounding that corner and stepped up behind her and gave a reassuring squeeze on her shoulders. Go ahead babe I got you back. Xena thought. Gabrielle took a deep breath and mumbled to Xena "Here goes. We’re having a baby." Silence. Realizing she needed to tell who was actually giving birth she touched her stomach and said "I’m pregnant." Still the stunned faces looked as thought they needed more information. "Okay now I know this is a shock to you all." "And I bet it gets weirder." Eve whispered to Virgil. "Who’s the father?" Virgil asked as if he didn't really know. These two hang out with Gods so anything is possible he thought. Xena gave him a menacing stare to let him know to zip it. "I’ll get to that." Gabrielle said. She readied herself to continue but Lila broke in first. "Gabrielle I’m happy for you, for both of you." The warrior gave her an appreciative nod. She stood to hug her older sister. "And I think I can safely speak for all of us when I say we know who the father is." "You do?" The bard queried. "Xena." They all spoke as one. The couple looked at their loved ones extremely perplexed. "Which one of those loose lipped amazons blew the surprise?" Xena asked livid. They all snickered at that then Lila continued. " Not a one. Right guys?" They all concurred. "Look at it like this. You have lived a pretty incredible life together. You two are legends. You’ve run into giants, emperors, angels, demons, gods, and poets. You’ve been in countless battles. You’ve lived and died... and died and died, and died... shall I go on?" She asked rhetorically. Then she looked at them with great pride. "You two never really kept me up on your adventures but when you were gone for those twenty-five years I got to hear a lot about you. The stories that Lector, me, little Sarah and even mother and father heard helped us get to know you as the heroes the rest of the world knows you as. The incredible things you both did in the name of justice made us all proud to be your family. So my sweet sister if you tell me that you are with child and knowing how much the two of you are in love I may not know how it happened but I know Xena is the only person you’d ever let be the father of your baby." Silence again all around the room. The pair was astounded. They didn’t even have to give an explanation. There was no need for charts or diagrams, as Xena had feared. They were no sardonic looks from Lila as she had expected. The pride and love in her eyes directed at not only her sister was refreshing. Then the silence was broken by hugs and congrats going all around. After a few minutes of this Eve had to ask. "You will tell us how it happened won’t you?" Looking at her mother. "Aw this sounds like Gabrielle's department." So they gathered ‘round for the bard to spin her latest tale of the meddling goddess of love and her ‘gift’ to her favorite girl group.

As everyone began to feel the lateness of the hour the royal guard were summoned to escort them all to their more comfortable accommodations and Xena thanked them all for enduring the pseudo war camp to keep her surprise. Virgil agreed to stop by and show Gabrielle his latest poems. With the guest gone it was now time for the couple to enjoy the last few hours of their sixth anniversary alone together. "How do you feel?" The warrior asked her expecting wife. "Why not come over here and fine out." The bard said seductively. "Well now aren‘t we just the frisky one." The warrior teased. "You have no idea." The bard related. Xena just laughed and walked closer to her. "Gods Xena," she confessed "I am so horny. It has taken all my resolve not to jump on you all night. What’s going on with me? Is it the baby doing this?" "Yes I believe so. When you were expecting Hope it happened too fast for you to go through this. Your body is going through changes and just can’t keep up." "I don’t remember you being like this with Eve." Relayed the bard. " Oh I felt amorous believe me but things were different for us, we were on the road and we didn’t know how it happened to me." Gabrielle started to remember. "I was...upset. I’m sorry I didn’t know what to think." Xena took her hand in hers. "Hey it’s all right. You had every right to be upset. You thought I...cheated on you. You thought it was Ares didn’t you?" She asked. Gabrielle was subdued for a bit thinking back to that time so long ago. "Yes I did." She admitted. "He always had such a hold on you. I mean I knew you loved me but he seemed so good at working you. Then you would have to do things or say things to him to help us out of some jam. I know you fought his seductions but I was afraid that he had won you over finally." Xena could see the distress in her lover’s face. "He really did love you, you know." Even after all this time Ares was doing this to Gabrielle. Nice going you slimy good for nothing bastard. You always were trying to get me back weren’t you? But once I saw her it was over. Yes you tried and you tried but think about this dirt bag you were bested by the sweetest five foot nothing woman with a staff. What do you think about that Mr. God O War? Xena came out of her mental dialog and looked her straight in the eyes. "No I really don’t think he knew...I know he didn’t know what real love was. He wanted me because he couldn’t have me. If I had come back he would have gotten bored with me." Gabrielle wouldn’t buy it. "No Xena I really think your wrong about that. Know how I know?" "How?" " When he gave up his immortally to save Eve. He cared for you so much he couldn’t bare the thought of you losing her." Xena thought about that for a bit. "Yeah but he saved you too." She reminded. Gabrielle considered that, "I was just in the vicinity." She joked. Xena laughed and then took her hand and lead her over to the couch. "Hey let’s make a deal." The bard looked skeptical waiting for Xena’s next words. "We don’t talk about Ares on our anniversary." That got a chuckle out of the bard and she nodded "Deal." Xena began to reach for the pouch again. "Wait." "No more waiting!" The warrior said flustered. She stopped Gabrielle as she tried to get off the couch. The bard turned back as they kissed. Xena reached down to open the pouch but was stopped by the bard again. "I’ll be right back, promise." Xena reluctantly let her love escape as she watched her walk out of the common room and disappeared into their bedroom. The over whelming sensation to follow her was too much and so she gave in to it. As she walked in their bedroom Gabrielle sensed her behind her. "I swear warrior you have no patience." "That’s true." Xena admitted. "Especially when I’m waiting for you." The bard now had what she’d come for and went and sat on the bed. Xena walked over and sat next to her. She was almost afraid to pull out the pouch again but she did, this time there was no protest from her bard. The warrior felt nervous now that the time had finally arrived for her to give Gabrielle the gift. She started having doubts about its worthiness. The bard waited in silence knowing words were not her lover’s strong suit. Xena looked up at that face that to her put Helen of Troy to shame. She smiled at this woman she knew so well. "Gods I love you." She said to the blonde. "Being with you has words really come close but I need to find something... the most significant and spectacular thing of my life and it just keeps getting better and better. Thank you for...just being you. Here." She put the black pouch into her lover’s hands. "Happy sixth anniversary Gabrielle." The younger woman pulled the strings to open the pouch and reached in and pulled out the gold band. She studied it for a second and then noticed that it was inscribed. "Oh Xena it’s beautiful." Then she recited the inscription. "Duae Accidere Unum." Then there was a moment of silence. "Do you remember what that means?" The warrior asked her knowing she was quite fluent in Latin. "Yes. Two become one." The bard replied. Blue eyes gazed at her intently. "That’s how I see us sweetheart." A pause then Xena asked "May I place it on your

finger?" The warrior’s words were sending chills down the bard’s spine. Maybe she’s better with words than I give her credit for? Gabrielle’s only answer was to extend her left hand into Xena’s right as the ring was placed on her third finger. "Perfect fit." Xena mused "Just like us." Gabrielle added. They fell

into a loving embrace then pulled back and went into a blazing kiss that lasted until the bard broke their connection. "Now I have something for you." Xena whom was extremely aroused at this point reached for the ties behind Gabrielle's back. "In a minute honey." She said reaching around her back to seize the warrior’s eager hands and then bestowed a small gray box to her. Xena studied the package feeling the tenderness coming from her soulmate. The warrior was in awe when she opened the box. The lump in her throat kept her from saying anything. This pause worried the bard she knew Xena wasn’t much for jewelry and she was now afraid she’d made the wrong choice. "Damn you don’t like it." The blonde sighed. "Gabrielle it’s almost as stunning as you are." That statement made the bard blush vigorously. As Xena removed the item from its resting-place she tumbled it over and over in her hands. "I can’t believe how much it looks like my chakram. You are amazing." "Well thank you but I didn’t make it dear. Zeva made mine too didn’t she? Asked the bard. "Yep." Xena was about to slip the ring on her finger when Gabrielle grabbed her hand. "Please let me." The silver and gold ring with the blue gems was then slipped on the warrior’s finger. "Now where were we?" Asked Xena. As she leaned in to give her lover another kiss there was a knock on their front door. "Who could that be this late?" Wondered the bard. "Yo babes are ya decent?" "Aphrodite" they sighed in unison. "Come on put your clothes back on." Yelled the goddess. "Damn it!" Fumed the warrior. "Well at least she knocked." Reminded Gabrielle. The bard gave her a quick kiss and ran to the front door. She flung the door open and tried to get the goddess under control. "Shh Aphrodite pipe down will ya. It’s late." "Sorry." Said the bottle blonde in a lower voice. " Hey like I knew you babes were in bed but like no way you two were snoozin’ in there." She teased. Gabrielle grabbed her friend by the arm and yanked her inside the hut. By now Xena was sitting on the sofa trying not to be enraged about the intrusion after all the goddess of love had given her so much to be grateful for. "Okay girls don’t get all pissed at me and stuff I just wanted to stop by and wish you guys a happy anniversary." "Thanks but weren’t you suppose to wait until we summoned you?" "Ya, ya whatever. Hey look I won’t stay long. I am the Goddess of love remember? I‘m like way to busy to be hangin’ out with you

mortal stiffs." She winked at her friend. Not staying long to Dite turned into an hour or so. Xena was having such a hard time keeping her eyes open. Gabrielle was trying to be nice to her friend and kept yawning but the goddess never got the hint. The poor couple just waited until Aphrodite decided it was time to leave. Once she finally left the bard walked up to her warrior who slid her arms around her. "What a day." Gabrielle sighed then turned and faced her lover observing the weariness on her face. "Come on warrior princess it’s time to put you to bed." Sensing her wife’s disappoint she reached down and picked her up and carried her to their bedroom. Gabrielle put her arms around Xena’s neck for support and whispered in her ear. "We don’t have to if you’re too tired." Xena shushed her and laid her down on the bed. They began kissing. The kissing continued which escalated their passion. Kisses deepened as Xena rolled over onto her back with the bard on top. Gabrielle felt the ties of her top loosen. She broke their connection and rose up letting it fall against Xena’s abdomen. The warrior took a moment to just admire her lover’s breasts. They were quiet for a brief time just looking at each other with love. Xena began to gently stroke Gabrielle’s thighs then moved her hands up stroking her sides. The Bard’s arousal was intensifying with each of Xena’s touches. She turned again this time the blonde ended up under her and she began to explore all the skin she could find with her mouth as she removed the bard’s skirt with her hands. Now that her lover was naked she again took a moment to gaze at this beautiful goddess whom lay waiting for her return. "Something wrong sweetheart?" Gabrielle asked her. "No I’m just...very, very happy." Xena moved back and stepped away from the bed the she turned back to face Gabrielle with the most intense look on her face she said " Gods woman do you have any idea what you do to me?" Gabby smiled "Yes I think I have some concept since you do the same to me." Xena shook her head in disagreement. " No see at times I just want to devour you." Gabrielle smiled again and then stood and walked over to her lover. Xena continued. "I have this hunger for you that almost consumes my whole being. The more I get the more I want and.. The smaller woman cut her off with a deep ardent kiss and liberated the warrior of her leathers. Still in the kiss they move back to the bed. The bard pulled back and looked into Xena’s eyes. "Make love to me Xena. Devour me my love and when you think you can’t take any more come back to me with that never ending hunger because I’ll be right here waiting just for you." No more words were spoken that night with the exception of I love you. Their love and closeness was the only thing that had any meaning to the couple at that time. When Xena and Gabrielle made love the meaning of Duae Accidere Unum came shining through.


The warrior was having a fine peaceful dream until she woke and saw her partner leaning out the window of their bedroom throwing up. She just passed it off as more morning sickness until she heard her scream out in pain. She got herself off the bed and over to her lover who had crouched down to the floor. She noticed Gabrielle was holding onto her stomach and crying. "Oh Xena I think I’m losing the baby. Xena tried to calm her but felt her own alarm when she saw Gabrielle’s underwear stained with blood. "It’s okay sweetheart don’t panic. Sometimes this is normal." However she picked her up to carry her to the healer’s hut. The small blonde buried her face into Xena’s chest sobbing as the warrior ran as fast as she could still trying to ease her wife’s distress. The adolescent amazons made way as she rushed by the school. Distress had risen when the pair was recognized for whom they were. There were other patients in the hut but everyone moved aside when the warrior laid their queen down on the nearest pallet. Reseda rushed over to the queen and saw the bleeding. She also saw the concerned look on the warrior’s face and began trying to calm the terrified blonde down. Bloodshot green eyes grabbed the healer’s attention. "Don’t let me lose my baby please." She kept pleading over and over. "Try

to relax my queen. I’ll do all I can." Before Reseda could move to get the herbs she needed her assistant place them in her hand. She quickly gave them to Gabrielle who was started to calm down some. Gabrielle reached out for Xena’s hand. "Right here sweetheart." She assured her. The herbs quickly put the queen under and this gave Reseda a chance to do her examination. After the tense moments of their arrival had dwindled down all those present in the hut were relieved when Reseda spoke. "She’s okay Xena. Everything checks out fine. But just to be safe let me keep her here a few days." Xena nodded her approval. By now word had spread over the village and Lila came rushing in followed by Eve, Virgil and Sarah. "Xena what happened is she.." "She’s all right Lila. Just a little spotting. She’ll wake in a bit. Reseda gave her some herbs to help her rest. "Xena! Xena!" Shouted Rena as she ran into the hut. "What happened?" "Rena." Soothed the warrior as she halted her with her hand, "She’s fine. The baby’s fine." Reseda whispered to Karuna "Round em up kay? The queen needs to rest." The healer’s apprentice was gathering up none family members when the queen started to come around. "Xena!" "Shh. Right here, everything's fine, rest now." She saw her soulmate relax at her words. She let the healer and her assistant talk quietly to the queen while she rounded up the family and the regent away from the bed. Once she had their attention she told them the news. "Gabrielle is fine and so is the baby. She woke up with some morning sickness and then had some cramps and a little bleeding. Probably from her heaving. Reseda wants her to rest here a few days just to be safe." She could hear everyone exhale as she relayed everything. After almost an hour of visitors Reseda and Xena ushered them all out. Lila said she would return shortly with some soup for them. Xena nodded appreciably now that she had time to realize she hadn’t had anything to eat. When Lila returned she felt more at ease. Watching the both of them she knew all was well. She gave her sister a quick kiss and excused herself out of the healer’s hut. Gabrielle was a little peeved at all the fuss. "I feel silly staying here. Can’t we go home?" She asked her warrior. "No can do your highness because if I’m not mistaken the healer out ranks you in this matter." "Damn right." Was Reseda comment. Then she gave her lover a pitiful glance. "But I want to be with you." She pleaded. "And you shall be. I’m not going anywhere." Then the bard felt guilty for trying to persuade her to stay. She knew she’d be more comfortable at home. "Oh never mind Xena you don’t have too I’ll be all right." "Nonsense. Besides I’d rather stay here and keep you company." "That’s very sweet honey but we both know you’ll go stir crazy if you stay in here for two days. I’ll make you a deal. You can come visit me some during the day and sleep here. Other than that get out." "Deal." The dark woman gave her a gentle kiss and a see you soon then went out to get some fresh air.


The routine of everyday amazon life hadn’t changed much in two months. The queen’s pregnancy was getting more attention then anything else. Gabrielle struggled to get everyone to remember she wasn't the only one expecting in the village. There were plenty of pregnancies beginning and ending in the amazon nation, hers wasn’t a phenomenon to be gawked at. Still for some reason no one listened. Amazons, go figure. Right? She was brought back to the world around her with a question from Rena. "What ARE you thinking about over there?" The redheaded regent spoke trying to get her queen’s awareness. "Huh?" Her friend just laughed. "Was I like that when I was carrying Mica?" The bard felt embarrassed. "Gods what was I doing?" She asked her friend. "Oh nothing really just sitting there seeming very far away from here." She answered. "Sorry." "Damn Gabby relax I was just teasing you. Besides there’s lots to think about." "Yes the baby’s all I ever think about." The bard confessed. "Ha!" Squealed her pal. "Not the way you and tall, dark and devastating go at it." That comment made the queen laugh. "Shit Rena you sounded just like Aphrodite just then." That made the crimson head quiver. " For Zeus’ sake Gabby don’t say that!" "Rena?" "What?" "Zeus is dead." "Gabby?" "What?" "Shut up." Gabrielle loved to banter with her second like that. "I hope you don’t speak to Cadis like that." She said talking about the regent’s lover. "Oh I do but she never pays any attention until I nay like a horse." The regent teased. "Oh stop you." The queen warned her. "I remember when that girl would walk into trees looking at you." Aw yeah the excitement of new love. She remembered as they continued to talk of it. It was a six months after Xena and Gabby’s joining. She had been called into the queen’s office. She didn’t know her very well then. She was nervous trying to remember all the protocol she had been taught at school about conversing with an amazon queen. She never expected to ever do it but now she was walking from the stables heading for the queen’s office. Earlier she had been flirting with an apprentice wrangler named Cadis. She never thought she would want to get involved again after the heartbreak of Varia. Oh Varia what a hotty. Their relationship had been fervent. The intensity of that woman was so surreal thinking back she wasn’t surprised they went down in flames. She did anything to make Varia happy. She would be near when she needed her and backed away when she needed space. It was all okay because she got what she needed from the tumultuous warrior. Didn’t she? She would have followed her to Hades and back she loved her so much. Didn’t she? After Helicon was over everything started to change for them. There was so much sadness between them that everything just hurt. The whole nation was morning it’s losses. So many good amazons lost. So many friends were gone. When Varia left her to ‘go fine herself’ she was devastated. She felt the sun had just set on her life and she would just exist until her time was over. Gods how melodramatic I was back then! She didn’t see cupid’s arrow headed her way but she had felt compelled to go by the stables because she just loved horses. Yeah-Right Rena keep lying to yourself and maybe one day you’ll believe it! There she was leaning on the corral fence-watching Cadis who was waiting for someone. She waved and smiled a goofy smile and to her surprise Cadis waved back and sported a goofy smile too. She had tried to encourage the tall athletic blonde who was being put through her paces. The striking wavy headed woman must have needed a trim the way she kept brushing her bangs back from her eyes. Rena found it all so cute as she would try to follow her mentors instructions at the same time peeking and smiling at the red head. She decided to go on to her meeting before poor Cadis got reprimanded or trampled. She left the stable area feeling giddy and looking forward to seeing Cadis in the dining hall later. Once out of her daydream she noticed she was at the bottom of the hill leading to the queen’s office. She felt almost faint as she climbed the rise to the hut. What could the queen want with me? She asked herself. She wasn’t much of a fighter. Not like Taren or Aminta. Even little Hallie had given her a hard enough time in wrestling class at school. After walking and wondering she found herself at the queen’s front door staring into the serious hazel eyes of the captain of the royal guard. The older woman just stared at the younger one waiting for her to state her business with the queen. Sati waited some more. The guard knew why she was there but decorum insisted that she wait. Growing impatient she tried to coax the curly red head to state her intentions. Rena began to mimic the eyes and brown head in front of her as they twirled around desperately willing her to speak. "Aw... I’m here... to a... I mean aw.... I have a meeting with the queen." Finally! Thought the captain. What was so damn hard about that? "Yes Rena. One moment let me announce you." She waited while Sati stepped through the door. Returning she ushered her inside. Passing under the threshold Rena locked gazes with eyes a similar shade of her own. She had seen Queen Gabrielle before sure but never this close. There was a warmness to her that made the Amazon's edginess fade away. The queen strolled over to meet a guest not an underling. Rena was so taken with her casualness that she almost forgot to bow. "Welcome Rena. Please have a seat." The queen motioned to the chair in front of her desk. There was another desk on the other side of room. Aw I bet that’s Cyane's desk. Rena sat down and then Gabrielle followed suit. The queen began shuffling scrolls around on her desk then looked up at the ruddy-headed woman. "I am sure you’re wondering why I’ve summoned you today. As you know Cyane has been ill for some time now. Well Reseda and Xena have done all they can but she isn’t getting better. Since she has no heirs she’s been trying to decide whom to pass her right of caste to. She’s picked you." The queen stopped for a moment to let that sink in. "She feels you are best suited to resume her duties as regent of the nation and my second in command." Another bit of silence passed for Rena to absorb the meaning of it all. "I wanted to talk to you first to make sure you understood what we’re asking. You would be under my tutelage of course. It would mean a lot of time spent studying amazon law, protocols and ceremonies but both Cyane and I feel you’re up to the job. . If you need some time to think about it feel free. When you’ve decided let me know." The queen stopped and considered her young colleague. "Queen Gabrielle. I will be sadden yet honored to receive Cyane’s right of caste. I will feel privileged to be under you as regent of the amazon nation." "I know she’ll be very happy that you’ve agreed to accept her position." They had come so far these two regents as well as the amazon nation itself. Once they were many scattered tribes across Greece, Persia and Northern Africa to one mighty nation in southern Greece. What her ex-lover Varia had only dreamed for the nation was now becoming reality thanks to their queen and her consort. What a great time it was to be an amazon. Rena came back to their conversation about the sappiness of her current love. "Well believe me Gabby she ain’t like that anymore." The queen gave her a disbelieving gaze. Rena continued on. "It takes far too much effort to be the ideal couple like you and Xena." It was true that they were the envy of the nation. The red head decided to change the subject. "So you guys come up with any names yet?" "No nothing yet." The queen answered. "We did think we might name it after Xena’s younger brother Lyceus if it’s a boy." The queen’s friend stood up and walked over to the blonde’s desk and reached a hand out to stoke her belly. "No Gabby I think we got us an amazon princess in there." Gabrielle thought for a minute. It would make things easier. She couldn’t believe it when she had read one of the old bylaws that had stated that all male babies were to be killed. It broke her heart. She and Xena had had a long conversation about it. Xena saying she agreed with her bard about the barbaric ness of it but also reminded the young woman that the amazons were after all a society of women and having men around kind of stifled that. Still she was glad when Queen Melosa and Ephiny had told her that they didn’t do that anymore. It none the less made her feel uneasy to know that they made their mothers send them away by age four. What she found out was that many of the mothers left with their sons which was depleting the village numbers. She felt it just wasn’t the right approach. She had to make them see that forcing a mother to choice between their child and their people was counter productive. She made a little headway with Melosa and then made more with Ephiny after the whole Velasca thing was settled. Their tribe had a pretty good setup going. Then when they stayed with the northern amazons for a while after Eve was born she found she had to go through it again. First keeping them form killing the male babies to a similar setup she had with her old tribe. Then after Helicon her big opportunity arose. Once the blonde became queen of the newly formed Amazon nation that was first on her agenda. She wanted to keep the nation strong in the noble amazon traditions while changing the more archaic ones. It wasn’t easy getting these women to see her point. Some of them were put off by anything that had to do with maleness. While those who had bore male children seemed more open to her idea of letting the boys live in the village until age twelve. That was the same age the girls went through the rite of neophyte, which she felt was too young to send them out on their own. She came up with new rules that would benefit all her people. She had amazons that had left their people returning with their sons who still weren't allowed to live in the village passed age twelve but now had a place they could call home right across the river. They would be taught to be self sufficient and still interact with the women of the nation, which Gabrielle felt, was beneficial to both. The success of the restructuring had made the amazons a much more influential people. Now they were what Gabrielle, and Xena, knew they could have been all along. And that thought made her glad because even if her baby was a boy he wouldn’t be shunned or ridiculed. Still he wouldn’t be as revered as a girl would be and he certainly wouldn’t be an amazon princess. But she’d still love him and she knew Xena would too. Suddenly a heinous growling sound interrupted the women’s chatter. Rena looked at her friend and gave her a wry look. "My, my I didn’t realize it was lunchtime already." The queen shot her a sour gaze, which changed to an embarrassed grin when the noise repeated itself. "I really think you people just enjoy teasing me about my appetite a little too much." The queen stood from her desk and strolled over to the door. "You know I think at the next council meeting I’ll propose a new bylaw that states two days in the stocks to anyone that is caught making fun of the queen’s appetite." The blonde scolded her friend. "Well wouldn’t that be a sight. The whole amazon nation in stocks while their queen had the dinning hall all to herself." The regent shot back. The queen laughed and then shook her head. "I think I’ve had about all the abuse I can take from you today." "Hey what are friends for?" The red head rallied. The bard just waved her off with a snort and headed off for lunch.

As she walked home from her office she stopped as she spotted Xena working on the crib. The addition to their hut was finished a month ago, now it was

time to get the new room ready for their little bundle whose arrival was

still four months away. It seemed as if everyday the warrior had some baby project going on. The bard wondered how Xena was going to make this last until the infant came. And she wouldn’t let Gabrielle do anything. Sometimes the fussing was fine but at times it was too much. She tried to get Xena back

involved in her amazon duties but she would see her thinking of things to do for her and the baby. She walked closer to Xena and caught that smile she only gave to her. The queen returned a smile and then took a look at the warrior’s work. "Hey nice crib." "Thanks." The taller woman replied. "What’s going on?" "Lunch break. Will you join me?" "Love to." Returned Xena. "Owe!" Gabrielle took hold of her stomach. "You all right?" "Ya. Your kid’s doing back flips in there." "Ah." Xena then patted her on the belly. "Hey be nice to your mommy okay? She’s liable to take it out on me." As they began the walk to the dinning hall for lunch Taren came running up to them. "Xena hey Xena!" They both turn to face Xena’s second in command waiting to find out what all the commotion was about. After a few seconds of catching her wind the amazon said. "We got trouble." "What’s in the sack?" Requested the blonde guessing what it was most likely to be as soon as she finished her question. Xena took possession of the burlap bag as Taren handed the scroll that accompanied it to her queen. "I think you should read this first." Taren warned them. The queen unrolled the parchment and began to read while the warrior read it over her shoulder:

Greetings gentle ladies of the amazon persuasion:

You are cordially invited to participate in a grand bloodbath. Lamis said you wouldn’t be interested but i know how much you babes love to fight and die so i told him he was mistaken. Lamis said that fighting with you would be trouble, which to that i said splendid ‘cos i liveFor trouble. I love trouble almost as much as you

chicks love that forest you claim is yours. Oh did i mention this little bash-oops did i say that? - Is for the right to claim that little forest? Probably skipped that. Oh well anyway Lamis and i had a tiny tiff about the whole battle thing. He got all bent out of shape about it. I told him not to lose his head over it but i guess he didn’t listen (i.e. burlap sack) but wait, maybe i said that to him after i lopped off his head and he didn’t hear me. What do you think? Huh? Well need to start getting ready for the b.b ah yes it’s come as you are and bring your own piddley weapons. I’ll supply the sacks!! Can’t wait!!!

With anticipation,

Arad the impressive!

and his army of mighty arads

"Damn what a sick bastard." Xena said as she opened the sacked and peered inside. Yeah that’s Lamis all right but I don’t remember Arad...wait now I remember. I noticed he had crazy looking eyes." "I’ll believe that. This" meaning the bag "was somehow catapulted over to us this morning. This arrow had the scroll attached to the sack. I’ve already dispatched extra troops to help guard our perimeters." "Good work Taren." The warrior complemented. "But we need to scope them out and see what we’re up against." "I’ll get all the council members together and inform them of the situation." Added the queen. "Right and we’ll get a detachment ready to move out immediately." Xena returned. "Taren we’ll all meet at the command center shortly." "Yes commander." Taren said formally. Xena and Gabrielle looked at each other for a fleeting moment and fell into an extended embrace. "You two be careful." The warrior whispered. "Listen to Sati, she’ll protect you." Gabrielle sighed "I wish I could go with you but I know, I know. You be careful too." "Always." Assured Xena. Then they had a short good bye kiss and another hug and parted to attend to their separate duties.

The next several days were tense. Gabrielle had informed the amazon council about the coming threat and they spent many hours going over amazon law on the best ways to handle the situation. Xena and her troops had been preparing for an all out assault which the warrior was hoping wouldn’t come too past because Arad’s army out numbered them by several hundred soldiers. Xena and Taren were in the command center trying to prepare for the worst when the queen and two of the council members walked in. The warrior just wanted to go over to her lover and greet her with a hug and kiss but she knew that protocol wouldn’t allow that. She could see it in Gabrielle’s eyes that she wanted it too. So Xena kept her command mode on and addressed her highness. "Greetings my queen." She gave her a bow, which was copied by her second. "Commander." The queen returned and nodded to Taren. Xena pulled out a chair from the worktable and Gabrielle took the offered seat. Once the queen had seated herself the council members seated themselves followed by Xena and Taren. Xena then related their finings to the queen and her attendants. The news wasn’t promising and their options were few. War with this army was a possible alternative but the probable casualty count was not. Reasoning with Arad seemed out of the question as well. So how to appear to be ready for all out war but not let it come to that. Ideas were put out on the table but none were agreed upon. After what seemed like several hours of this had passed the queen dismissed the council members. Xena could feel that Gabrielle had something in mind and she was betting that she wouldn’t like it. Once the ‘stuff shirts’ left Gabrielle felt more at ease and Xena and Taren knew that they could drop the formalities. Taren rose form the table and went to get a drink of water. Xena had been so busy she hadn’t had time to discuss any of this with Gabrielle alone. In this setting the queen would be uneasy of addressing her fears in front Taren as would Xena. Privately they could be more honest then in a public setting each having an image to convey. Privacy not being an option at the moment Xena took the chance to confront her lover on her anxious feeling. "You’ve got a plan and I’m not going to like it am I?" Damn it busted. The queen cleared her throat as Taren returned to the table. "Yes Xena I do have a plan and yes you probably won’t like it.. Until you think about it." The warrior gave her a go ahead look. "Okay. We can’t.. Shouldn’t fight them because they out number us but we need to make them think that we’re ready for a confrontation whatever we decide to do. I think I should meet with their leader and try to negotiate even though you think he’d never do that. Gabrielle could tell from her body language that the warrior didn’t agree with her plan but was astounded when she said nothing. After total silence for what seemed like forever Xena began to speak. "Maybe I should try and talk to him." Gabrielle shook her head. "You can’t. The council will never go for that. No it’s got to be me." "But the council won’t be willing to give them anything either my queen." Taren pointed out which got a well-said look for Xena. Gabrielle thought for a bit while Taren and Xena waited quietly. Then she gave them a very serious look and continued. "We all need to be realistic here. We are coming under a legitimate threat to our nation. We need to weigh all sides of the issue and do what’s best for us all. If that means fight then we fight. If that means die we die but if we can talk our way out of it we should try." The queen stood from the table and looked directly at the warrior and her second. "Commander I will prepare a statement for you and a small group to deliver to this Arad. In the meantime I will meet with the council to discuss what, if any, consignments we’re willing to come to. Please come to my office in one hour." "Yes your highness." Xena said with a respectful bow. She knew once was a time when her blonde friend would have looked at her with pleading eyes for her to fix this situation. Now with great pride she saw the determination in that face that said yes this is hard but it’s up to me to find a solution.


It didn’t take long for Gabrielle to compose he note to Arad. Standing at her office window she had a sense of being watched. She let her eyes travel idly up the adjacent tree, about three quarters the way up and notice a shadowed figure sitting on the bulky limb. Even in the dark she knew they could see her wink at them. When she had to do some serious thinking she came to her office. When Xena needed to think she usually went up a tree. "Hey come here before you give my guards heart failure." She whispered. Without making a sound the warrior climbed down form the tree and walked up to the queen’s window. They shared a brief greeting kiss before Gabrielle continued speaking. "Sati would commit suicide if she knew you sat up in that tree sometimes." "I know," said the warrior "thanks for not giving my little hiding place away." The queen touched her partner on the arm. "I find it rather comforting actually. It’s like when we were out on the road ya know, you always watching my back." "Hey I think I watched your front plenty." Xena teased. "Yes you did indeed." They were both quiet for a bit before Xena spoke. "I want to ask you something." "Sure what’s up?" "Let me go with you to Arad’s camp." "Why?" Enquired the bard. Xena looked at her lover pleadingly. "I don’t think it’s safe. This guy’s a nut case. I don’t think we can trust him." Gabrielle tried to calm her warrior’s concerns. " Xena I’m not going to go alone. I plan to take Sati and at least two other guards with me." "Then let me be one of the guards." "We don’t have time to take that to committee." "Well you’re the Goddamn queen..." "Shh." the queen cautioned. "Sati may not be able to hear an ant crawling on the ground like you can but she’s not deaf. Xena what’s going on here?" "Gabrielle I’m sorry. I just don’t feel good about this. I think it’s too dangerous for you to go into that camp." "Why did you see something you didn’t want to say in front the council?" "No." "Then what is it?" Gabrielle could sense Xena’s hesitation. "Xena, Taren will be her for our meeting very soon if there is something you need to say to me, please say it now otherwise.." Xena put up her hand to stop her. "Gabrielle what if he tries to hurt you huh?" "Sure that’s a possibility but.." "That’s why I what to be there so I can stop him." Gabrielle was beginning to figure out what this was about even if Xena kept stepping all around it. "Xena I appreciate your concern but I’ve been in situations like this before I can handle it." Xena was starting to get restless how could she make Gabrielle understand what she was talking about without actually having to say the words. Xena smiled at her and took her hand in hers. "I know you’ve been in situations like this before but not while you where..." "Xena why can’t you say it?" The warrior said nothing but looked away. "You know why. Because what your asking it’s not right." The warrior looked up at her very irate and said. "Not right? Gabrielle this is not only your life you’re risking. I’m not asking you not to go all I’m asking is that you let me go so I can protect my family." The bard reached out and touched her lover’s arms trying to sooth her. "Xena look at me. Look at me please." The warrior turned her head and look at her soulmate. "First let me say thank you. You have always been my protector. I know we’re in a tough spot here made even tougher by my condition." The blonde rubbed her belly. "But

sweetheart I am the queen of the amazon nation and I have to do things the amazon way. Xena even Rena can’t be there. Look I know you think a lot of these rules are crap but I think that in this case they’re right. Xena you are commander of the amazon army if I were to fail... Hey what did you tell me the other day?" The bard asked rhetorically. "You said be careful. Listen to Sati she’ll protect you. Xena let her do her job okay." The warrior leaned her head on the bard’s shoulder and sighed. "If that’s a yes" Gabrielle stated "then sneak back around front and I’ll see ya in a sec I hear Taren outside."


Arad woke to a ringing in his ears. The ale last night had been good but damn what a way to start the day. The only thing he thought would make it better? More ale and so that’s what he did. After he’d finished his second cup and before he could call for him, his second in command entered the tent. "Yes what is it Fahim?" He asked trying to sound bored and annoyed. "We have a messenger from the amazons delivering a correspondence from their queen." Arad motioned for her to come in. She had come into their camp unarmed carrying only the scroll from the queen. She never spoke to him only extending her hand with the message in it for him to take. He took it and walked away from her and began to read:

Greetings Arad the Impressive:

I wanted to thank you for you interest in our entertainment. Let me assure you however that we are just fine. We will fight if it is necessary but generally we prefer to keep to ourselves. Please do not mistake my casualness as cowardice. We are a proud people willing to do what ever it takes to protect our homeland. What I would like to propose is a meeting between you and I to see if we can come to an understanding in the matter of the Amazon Forrest. I am willing to come to your camp mid-day tomorrow unarmed of course with only a small escort of unarmed guards. If this is agreeable with you please return your answer with my messenger. Please no heads this time.



Queen of the Amazon Nation


"Well, well, well Fahim I think the ladies want to play." Laughed Arad and tossed the scroll to his second. Fahim quickly read it and then walked over to his leader. "Sir they want to talk." Fahim stated flatly. "Talk, play what’s the difference?" Arad walked over to his worktable and found a piece of parchment. He picked up his quill and dipped it in the scarlet ink he loved to use. He wrote briefly. Blew on the paper quickly. Rolled it up and walked back in front of the messenger. He extended his arm out for the woman to take the scroll but at the last second pulled it away and laughed. He then walked around the young woman ogling up and down her body. "I must say you ladies are quite the lookers. What’s your name sweet thing?" With no change in her expression the girl said "Ravati." "Well Ravati you tell your queen I can’t wait to meet her." This time Arad gave the note up. "Fahim escort this fine young thing out of our pleasant camp please." Then he reached out and touched her face lustfully. "I do hope your friends are as tasty looking as you are." Ravati again showed no emotions as she secured the scroll. She turned and waited for the other man to escort her out of the tent. As she walked in front of him heading for the boundaries of their camp she played and image in her mind of Arad on his knees weeping uncontrollably and begging the warrior princess to please let go of his scrotum that she was holding over his head.

The time had arrived for Gabrielle to leave for Arad’s camp. She was dressed in a modified amazon outfit, which accommodated her condition. Xena and Taren had everything coordinated with the troops in case this meeting went awry. The queen waited in her office for her escorts of Sati, her captain of the royal guards, Aminta, Sati’s first lieutenant and Thyra just for her intimidating size. She was the tallest and bulkiest of her guards. Xena had wanted her to take all five of her sentinels but the queen felt that might put Arad off. At least Xena won her choice with Thyra. The amazon was a head taller than her plus had more bulk making her the mass of a good size tree trunk. Most of the time they saw Thyra as the gentle giant slinging her kids around which would scare the crap out of her partner Hallie. There weren’t many people Xena had to look up to literally. Knowing Xena and the troops would be in place by now the queen set her thoughts on how to approach this rat turd with the crazy eyes as Xena called him. Gabrielle laughed to herself for no matter what axiom the warrior used referring to Arad she’d always end it with the words with the crazy eyes. The queen reviewed the words her lover had used; there was swine, weasel, asshole, dickhead, and fart-fucker. Then there was peckerless brain dead horny toad (with the crazy eyes) that was one of her favorites. There were more but she knew she needed to focus on her up coming meeting. Then came a knock at her door. "Come." She commanded. In stepped Sati followed by Thyra and Aminta. "It’s time my queen." Sati said. The captain of the royal guard seemed nervous and quite tense. Aminta looked normal and Thyra looked ready to kick some butts, also normal. "Fine." The queen answered her. "Aminta." "Yes my queen?" " Please give the captain and me a moment." Gabrielle swung a look towards Sati. Aminta and Thyra bowed to her and stepped outside. The queen walked over to her guard. "Is everything all right Sati?" "My queen, are you sure that a complement of just Aminta, Thyra and myself will be sufficient to give you adequate protection?" The blonde just wanted to go up and ruffle the captain’s hair to get her to relax a little but she knew that would have an opposite effect on the guard. As long as Gabrielle had known this woman she knew that duty was her greatest passion. The queen was always thinking how true the saying ‘opposites attract’ was. It was true not only of Xena and herself but also of many couples in the village. Thyra was very tall and bulky while her lover Hallie was much shorter and quite petite. Xena’s second in command Taren, the runabout, Xena’s best friend next to her, a hunter, a solider, the last one anyone would have expected to settle down, besides Xena. The queen knew that her warrior couldn’t cook worth swat but next to Taren she was an expert. How odd it seemed then that a spirited ole village heartbreaker like Taren fell in love with the head chef of the village who wanted to have kids. Love was definitely screwy. Sati always seemed so serious while her partner Zeva was so laid back. But it all worked and she knew without a doubt that she’d be safe. "Yes Sati it will be fine." The captain was still tense but maybe, Gabrielle mused, it was a good thing. "Let’s get this over with." The queen said to her captain as they headed for the door to collect the rest of the group.

Arad was ready for the ‘meeting’ to begin. He had told his men that after they conquered the amazons there would be a party to end all parties. He couldn’t wait to partake of his choice of some lovely amazon flesh. Gods what ‘s wrong with these women? He asked himself. There was no way any woman could be a match for him. Were their daddy's eunuchs? He really couldn’t understand how a village of nothing but women could exist. He figured there had to be a man in that village somewhere gettin’ so much action he couldn’t stand up so he let the chicks take care of everything else. I hope their ‘queen’ isn’t some podgy old slag with droopy tits. Then he let a fantasy take over. He imagined a tall slinky girl dress in leather with long silky blonde hair coming into to his tent giving him the most lustful look he’d ever seen. Once he dismisses his guards the girl rips her clothes off and he takes her right there on the map table. "Sir." One of his men said pulling back the flap of his tent. "What is it?" He yelled quite grumpy. "The amazons are here." More than one, how appetizing he thought as he licked his lips. "Well send them in." he said annoyed. Time slowed down for Arad as Fahim lead the amazons into his tent. The man feasted his eyes on the beauty before him. A stunning small blonde who appeared to be knocked up, See I knew they had to have a man in that camp, two dark haired chicks on either side of her and then some big ass woman about eight feet tall bringing up the rear. Arad put on his must suave air and sauntered up to the group of talent. He was quiet as the blonde babe introduced herself as queen of the amazon nation and she went on to say other things he had no interest in. He did motioned for her to sit at the table he so wanted to ravish her on. Once she took a seat he sat opposite her. He let her amble on for a while barely paying attention just enjoying what he knew was to take place very, very soon. All at once he noticed she had stopped talking and was looking at him with a bewildered look. Oh my turn now. "Gabrielle, that’s a real pretty name." The queen stayed silent. He went on with his seductive words. " You know I can’t tell you how glad I am to meet you. It can get so lonely out here." He gave her a wink; she tried not to vomit. He finally scanned the scroll she had brought because up to that point he had only been ogling her and didn’t know what their terms had been. Even though he knew he was going to obliterate them he figured their little stipulations would be amusing. Let’s see to avoid an all out war they will let us hunt with small hunting parties in their forest for a four week period every other season. Haw that's a good one. They will let us bring tradable goods to their village in the winter months. Is she nuts? They will allow us to use the river at the north end of the forest while passing through. Otherwise we needed to stay clear of amazon land. Damn I’m goin’ have to whore slap this bitch. "Hey sweetie this is nice and all." He pointed to the scroll "but why don’t you go home and get you’re boyfriend in here so I can go on and get this shit settled." Gabrielle could feel her blood boiling but remained calm as she started to address ‘minuscule-dick with the crazy eyes’ Damn Xena‘ll like that one. "Arad if you’re not interested in talking to me seriously about this then..." "Hey babe just chill now." He interrupted her. "I know ya can’t be on the rag cos you’re knocked up so if you girls didn’t come here for some serious fucking I suggest you..." That was it. With a blurred action the queen pushed her chair back, stood up and jabbed with lightning speed two fingers, one set at a time, to Arad’s neck. He began to gasp as the queen leaned on the table directly in front of him. "I have just cut off the flow of blood to your brain, which isn’t good since there couldn’t have been much getting there in the first place. You have thirty seconds to agree to pull you and your army off Amazon land or I let you die scumbag." The tent was deadly still except for Arad’s wheezing. Fahim looked at the other amazons who looked shocked and then he looked at his leader who had blood streaming down his nose and looked as though he was about to take his last breath. Once he shook his head yes the queen released him and his head hit the table. He lay there trying to get air back in his body. The queen grabbed his hair and yanked his head up and said. "Don’t think of turning on me, all amazons are taught that technique so any war with you would be over in less then a minute." She let go of his hair and his head hit the table again. She walked away from the meeting table realizing that this piece of dung wasn’t worth any more of her time. She went over to Fahim trying not to frighten him. "How long would it take you and your men to break camp?" She asked him. "He looked at her with the same respect he had when she had entered for the meeting. " Queen Gabrielle we will be off your land by sundown. You have my word." She nodded to him and turned about face. "I just want to say I’m sorry for this whole mess. We’ve been trying to get Arad out of power for some time now. He will be taken in for his crimes." So now the matter was closed. The queen strolled up to join her guards when they were all taken by a sound. "Die you fucking bitch!" As they turned Arad had stood from the table with a dagger in his hand. Since they were not to bring weapons the amazons and their queen seemed defenseless. As the warlord came up over the table heading for the queen Sati took charge. Arad then threw the dagger, which instinctively the captain stepped in the path of. "Protect the queen!" She yelled to her sub ordinates, which they too had instinctively done. Aminta and Thyra had knocked the queen to the ground. Thyra looked up and gauged Fahim’s position and saw with the traumatized expression on his face that he’d had no part in this. Then as if in a dream she saw Sati stagger back knowing that she’d been hit with the bastard’s dagger. She tried to raise her huge body to help her captain and friend but Sati didn’t fall. Thank the gods the dagger missed her she thought. Knowing Aminta had the queen under protection and Fahim was no threat Thyra was getting ready to flatten that slime ball when she heard a whizzing sound under his yelling. Then there was dead silence as the man stopped cold. The dagger was sticking out of his chest and those crazy eyes rolled back into his head and then he hit the floor. Thyra was getting ready to applaud her comrade when she saw Sati hit the floor. With the captain lying on her back the big woman saw the blood covered wound in her belly. Before she could summoned them Aminta and the queen were knelling with her at Sati’s side. Gabrielle had already found some cloth and placed it over the wound trying to hold down the bleeding while Thyra looked on trying to hold back the tears she felt sliding down her face. "I’ll go give the signals." Aminta told the other two. "Wait let me go with you." Said Fahim. Aminta didn’t turn at the queen’s words when she told her to hurry but she knew Sati’s time was running out.

Xena hadn’t taken her eyes off the command tent since she saw Gabrielle enter. She had total confidence in her lover but that uneasy feeling of trepidation just wouldn’t subside. The waiting was driving her batty. She had just wished Gabrielle had let her go in there and take that maggot with the crazy eyes down but that wouldn't have been her way. So here she was at the top of the rise over looking the army’s camp waiting for a sign for them to come and get some or turn back to the village with the problem solved. She could sense the edginess not just form Taren but all the other soldiers around her. Finally she saw movement from the tent. "Here we go." The warrior alerted them. "That’s..." Taren was trying to focus on the emerging figures. "Aminta. Xena who’s that with her?" Is that him?" Meaning crazy eyes. "I can’t tell. Wait she’s giving a signal. All clear and..." Xena jumped up and spoke to her second on the way down the hill. "Taren take care of it." "Right." Acknowledged Taren. " Cadis get a litter and follow me somebody's hurt down there."

Xena was running as fast as she could but it still seemed to take forever. Once she got close enough she could see it in Aminta’s face it was bad. Once inside the tent she was relieved to see it wasn’t Gabrielle but looking at the floor and feeling the queen’s hand grip her arm the situation was grave. God -Damn it I knew something like this was going to happen. She told herself I knew that bastard couldn’t be trusted. Then she felt someone behind her. She motioned for them to bring over the litter and she helped them lift Sati on. As they existed from the tent she saw the wagon hurriedly coming to rush Sati back to the village to the healer. Xena leaned down close the Gabby’s ear and whispered just for her "She’s real strong. It’s bad but don’t give up yet." The litter bearers were working on the captain’s injury, doing what Xena had taught them, trying to get her stable enough to make it back to the village. At this point there was just no way to tell for sure. Never give up hope. Do all you can do. Xena had told them and that’s what they were going to do. "You hold on there Sati." Cadis had said to her with reassurance. Xena leaned over and touched Cadis’ shoulder. "That’s right you listen to her now." Then the warrior tried to ease her pain with pressure points. Hoof beats meant the wagon was almost there. Sati

looked pale but was holding on. The captain had not spoken since her last command to her officers but she had asked Xena to bring Aminta and Thyra over to her. The wagon was now here and they were lifting her when she spoke to them softly. "I am very proud of you two today. You did you jobs admirably. Don’t worry about me. Go back and protect our queen." That was the essence of Sati. Duty first. It had been a victorious day. They had all done what had to be done to protect there home and way of life. Xena was so full of pride for Gabrielle who could have taken the easy way out and had Xena solve all their problems but she took her obligation seriously. It wasn’t easy for the warrior to let her do it but she respected her enough to go with her decisions. They all watched in silence as the wagon carried their friend back to the village and there was a tacit desire floating in the air that this day would end with one and all secure, sound and subsist in the amazon village they called home.

Xena stayed and helped Reseda get the captain stable. The wound was cleaned and stitched but she had lost a lot of blood. Time would tell weather or not she would live. Zeva was told what happened and was showing a brave front trying to be as positive as she could muster. Gabrielle had left undoubtedly shaken by the day’s events. She was going to have a brief council meeting in her office to update them on what had happened. The warrior had over heard Thyra telling Karuna how cool it had been to see the queen put the pinch on Arad. Replicating her motions as she nailed him after his obscene remarks. Then hearing the change in her voice as she related what had happened to the captain. Once things were all right the warrior excused herself and went home to wait for Gabrielle. There were so many things she wanted to say to her about the day. She was hoping that the bard wouldn’t second-guess her decision after what had happened to Sati. She knew that Sati had done exactly what she would have done to protect Gabrielle. The captain most certainly did her job this day. And so did the queen of the amazon nation. Wish I could have seen that one sweetheart. The warrior was broken out of her thoughts by the front door opening. Gabrielle looked beat. Xena waited letting the bard’s mood dictate what she would do to help her. Backrub? Serious discussion? Comforting hug? Xena kept her place while the small woman just walked into her arms. They held each other for a few minutes in silence. The taller woman just quietly held the embrace giving and feeling comfort from it. "How’s Sati?" Asked the younger woman. "She’s stable right now. The wound was pretty deep but it cleaned up fine. If she doesn’t get an infection she should recover. So do you want to talk about it?" The warrior asked. The bard pulled back from the embrace and wiped at the moisture around her eyes. She was hesitant trying to find were to start. "We um.. We walked in the tent and I saw what you meant about his crazy eyes. Xena I knew right then he wouldn’t negotiate but I thought he’d at least go through the motions and then we would go through with the attack. I really tried not to let him get to me but he was just so arrogant and condensing I lost it." She really didn’t want to tell her the rest. She knew Xena would be anger that she had used the pinch on him. The warrior had reluctantly taught the blonde the procedure in Japa probably out of some guilt she’d felt about showing Akemi but not her. Before, Xena hadn’t given much thought to the responsibility of teaching something so deadly. After the young girl had used it to kill her evil father the warrior realized she had to be more aware of the lethal power she held and could pass on to others. Xena had always treated Gabrielle with much more reverence. She entrusted herself to protect this girl from all the dangers she thought she wanted to be a part of. Being older meant that Xena had already made the mistakes she hoped she’d keep the blonde from making. After their many years together and after Xena’s death in Japa Gabrielle now knew what the warrior had been talking about. Wisdom before weapons. It had become a sacred trust between them. She also realized that Xena teaching her the pinch was her last venue of protection for this once annoying little kid from Poteidaia. This kid whom Xena said had grown into the most beautiful soul she’d ever known. This kid who taught her something even more valuable that the pinch. She taught her how to love and let that person love you. Gabrielle knew that keeping secrets wasn’t an option. "Xena before you hear from someone else I... I put the pinch on Arad." The bard waited for the explosion but it never came. Xena just stayed silent with a look of compassion on her face. "I’m.. I’m sorry I know I shouldn’t have done it but..." The warrior could see the bard’s anguish about it. "Gabrielle it’s all right. That’s why I taught it to you so you could defend yourself." She decide not to let on that she had already heard about it since Gabrielle was having such a moral dilemma with having used it. "No Xena I was wrong. I let that ass-wipe..." With the crazy eyes. (They both thought but didn’t say it).. get to me. I know better than that. I should have handled things better. Maybe Sati wouldn’t have gotten hurt. There it is thought the warrior. "Gabrielle stop it." The warrior walked up and grabbed her into a loving embrace. "Don’t go second-guessing yourself. You did exactly what I would have done. Sweetheart he betrayed the trust of a fair meeting. He lied while you were truthful." "But I knew when I went into that tent... "You knew what? That he was a scumbag or that he would have a weapon?" "I knew he had no intention of meeting the terms on the scroll. I knew he would betray us." "Okay I’ll give you that one. But did you know he was armed?" Xena asked pointy. "No. But you would have. I should have let you go like you asked." The bard just broke down. The day had all been too much. Xena held on to her love and let her cry a bit then she lifted her chin up to look in her eyes. "Come sit down." The warrior coaxed her to the couch. "Gabrielle why are being so hard on yourself hum? Honey even if I had been there what makes you think I would have thought he had a weapon?" The bard was quite mulling that over and flashes of the unbelievable things Xena had done in her past lead her to say.

"Somehow Xena you would have known." The warrior considered that and gave her. "All right then if that’s true than I should have stormed in there before it happened. Right?" This left the blonde silent. The warrior continued. "Listen as big a threat as the whole thing could have been I’d say the plan worked great." "I don’t think Sati and Zeva would agree with that." The blonde said solemnly. "Zeva no, but Sati yes. Gabrielle stop blaming yourself for what happened to Sati. She did what she had to do to protect you. I know if I was Sati and you had gotten hurt or killed by me not doing my job that would hurt much more than a dagger wound." The bard was quiet trying to reconcile what she knew in her mind with what she felt in her heart. "Xena sometimes being in charge really sucks." She said trying to lighten the mood. " Yes it does honey. Now why don’t you and Flipper go get some rest." "Xena we have got to come up with some names before that one sticks."


It had been a relatively peaceful day for the amazon queen. With the Arad business behind her and nothing new on the horizon it was time to begin coming to terms with the fact that in two months she would be a mother. Xena had taken care of everything else. Which to the warriors’ sad demure meant she had nothing to do for two months but toss her chakram around and help pick out a name. They had already decided that if it were a boy they would name him Lyceus. The girls’ names had been tougher to come up with. They talked about the name Cyrene after Xena’s mother. Xena had suggested Hecuba, after the bard’s mother, even though she wasn’t crazy about that name. Gabrielle had said her mother hated her name and might come back from the grave to haunt them if they named her granddaughter that. They thought about some of their old friends like Ephiny, Amarice, Yakut; Naw they had agreed. Then the bard thought she’d have some fun with the warrior princess: "Hey Xena how about the name Cyane?" The warrior looked dismayed. "Gabrielle there must be a hundred people in this village named that." "Yes I know after all it is the name of the first amazon queen. And by the way it’s seventy-three not a hundred." "Ha Ha. Do you really want to walk out our hut and yell Cyane and have a hun.. seventy-three women come running? Hell it’s hard enough to talk to someone about somebody with that name already. Let’s see there’s Big Cyane little Cyane. Butch Cyane femme Cyane. Agile Cyane clumsy Cyane. Cyane with the long hair, Cyane with the short hair. Straight Cyane bi- Cyane. Cyane with no tits, Cyane with droopy tits." Xena finally stopped when she saw her bard bust out laughing. "I was just kidding honey relax. Hey when are you and Taren going hunting?" The bard asked. "Day after tomorrow. You want to come?" Gabrielle thought about it and yes she would have but she knew Xena needed to spend some time with her friends before the baby came because after that she’d be way too busy. "Naw you guys go on and have a good time. Besides I can barley sleep in the bed I doubt I could sleep on the ground like this." She pointed at her enlarged stomach. There was a knock on the door that broke their conversation. Xena went to answer it and greeted Rena and Cadis. The two couples talked for a while about inconsequential things before Rena brought up the reason for their visit. "We were hoping you’d allow us to give you guys a gala to welcome the baby. I thought we could have a small gathering. It would be mostly mothers there. We’d just have a few snacks and cider maybe and make it like an afternoon affair. Nothing wild." Gabrielle thought it sounded like a nice idea. She looked over at Xena who looked like she was having an encounter with a poltergeist. Xena would hate that. A bunch of hens sitting around talking about their little hatchlings. She glanced over at Cadis and thought her expression seemed like she’d rather be kicked in the head by a horse then go to the thing. Let me see if I can help these two out. "That really sounds fun doesn’t honey?" The bard couldn’t resist making her warrior squirm. "Yes that sounds fabulous." Xena said with a phony smile. "Great then." Rena said. "How’s the day after tomorrow sound?" The warrior’s fake grin twisted into a real one. "Sounds fine. Oh wait Xena and Taren were planning to go on a little hunting trip day after tomorrow. Darn." The bard looked over at Rena’s lover and could see the wheels turning in her head indicating an idea. Who’s going to speak first Xena or Cadis? They both blurted out at the same time. After a consensus was reached Cadis went first. "Wow I haven’t been hunting in forever have I dear?" The wrangler asked her partner. "Didn’t you go with Thyra two months ago?" "No." The tall blonde reminded. "Mica was sick remember?" Rena had remembered but she was teasing her lover a little too. "That’s right I forgot." The regent fibbed. Now it was the bard’s turned to play a bit. "Well Rena we could postpone the gathering until Xena gets back." "No, no, no!" The warrior stood waving her arms wildly "you don’t have to do that. You guys go ahead and have the party we’ll be fine. Really." The warrior hurried to say. Gabrielle and Rena gave each other looks of contemplating the situation. Cadis was looking at Xena trying to send her a telepathic message to ask her to join them on the hunting trip while at the same time sending Rena mental messages

like, PLEASE DON‘T MAKE ME GO! PLEASE DON’T MAKE ME GO! PLEASE DON’T MAKE ME GO! PLEASE DON’T MAKE ME GO!... "Okay then you go on your hunting trip Xena and we’ll fill you in when you get back." Rena stated and the bard nodded in agreement. Xena looked as relieved as someone who had made it to the outhouse just in time. After taking a few soothing breaths the warrior said to the wrangler. "Hey Cadis why don’t you join us?" Now it was the blonde’s turn to look comforted. "Yeah Xena that would be great." With that settled the four friends went back to their pleasant chitchat.


Gabrielle was almost finished with her writing. Xena was already in bed having pack her stuff for the hunting trip. The warrior had been having second thoughts about leaving her pregnant wife but the bard’s argument had been too convincing. Go have fun. I still have two months before I’m due. Reseda is right here. It will only be for a few days. You won’t be that far away if something did happen. After the baby’s born you won’t be able to go. She was getting up to go to the bedroom when a rap at the door grabbed her attention. Opening it there was her good friend Aphrodite. She informed the goddess to keep her voice down since the warrior was sleeping. They talked for a while and the bard invited her to the party for the baby. The goddess seemed pleased and looking forward to attending until the small blonde relayed what the event would entail. "Nothing fancy. Not to many people. Light snacks. Quiet conversation. Maybe a little group knitting. No you can’t bring a date!!" The love goddess didn’t voice her thoughts about it sounding like a one way ticket to snooze Ville she just deiced to come and put a Dite spin on it. Oh Gabby won’t mind.

"Gabrielle." The warrior said gently to no response. "Sweetheart wake up." This time she got a flutter of eyelids for a nanosecond and then back to nothing. Damn I almost had her. Xena thought about shaking the bard but then got a better idea. She began to bequeath tiny kisses on her face. First her lips, ever so delicately, then her forehead and then each eyelid until she saw that grin she knew meant she was coming around. "Mmm." growled the bard. "It’s time for you go isn’t it?" "Yeah they’ll be here soon. You sure you’ll be okay?" Asked the ‘father’ to be. "I don’t know." Gabrielle teased. "I think the party would be a bigger hit if you guys stayed." Xena got that stricken look again. "Relax honey I’m only teasing you. Go have fun. Really." The warrior gave her a more passionate kiss this time. The blonde broke it off after she felt tingling between her thighs. "How long before they’re suppose to get here?" Asked the now aroused woman. Well we might have time considered the warrior and went down to give her love another steamy kiss when she heard a rap on their front door. "Ah they’re here." Xena sighed. "Yes when you give Taren an order she follows it to the letter doesn’t she commander?" The bard teased. The warrior gave her a smirk and then a loving embrace. "See you in a few days. Hey you wild women behave now." The warrior warned. "Same to ya." Returned the bard.

It was almost nightfall when the hunters stop to make camp. They had walked since before sunrise following the river heading north. They were only just on the edge of the amazon forest having taken their time considerably. They had three days ahead of them and saw no need to rush. Alone Xena could and usually make this trip half-day there half-day back. It just wasn’t often that the friends could all go at the same time. Since this trip was going to have to last Xena a long time she wanted it to be prefect. It was late autumn and the three friends hoping for big game on this trip expected to find deer and boars mostly. The biggest topic during the trek was each ones past hunting successes. Xena knew that a little boasting among friends was usual but she always tried to play down her successes which Gabrielle didn’t like her doing but then no one would ever go hunting with her if she told the truth. Sometimes it was hard to get people, her friends even, to treat her normally since she’d been living with the amazon it was becoming easier. She and Taren had gotten close over the years and had a lot of the same interest fighting, horses, hunting and women. They were both committed totally to their partners but did have a little fun now and then admiring the females bodies around them. There was only one amazon Xena felt closer to and that was Gabrielle. She still didn’t think of herself as an amazon and probably never would but she knew she was loved and respected and that counted a lot. After getting the fire going and having dinner the hunters planned out the next day’s strategy. The air was chilly and Xena was glad she brought her clock and a concoction from the orient. Gabrielle had brought some back from Japa keeping in the sack along with Xena’s urn. It’s time to see what these kids are made of thought the warrior. The dark woman pulled out the bottle from her pack. Two heads turned in interest. "Hey you guys like to try this?" Asked the warrior quite innocently. "What is it? Raised Cadis. "It’s something we got in Asia." Taren knowing her commander better than the wrangler was a bit more wary. The warrior proceeded to pour a modest amount in each of her companion’s mug and then poured some for herself. Taren looked at Xena uneasy then she sniffed the contents of her mug. She threw her head back at the strong smell of alcohol. She then looked over at Cadis who was waiting for the young warrior to taste hers first. "Damn you two are acting like it’s poison or something." The warrior sounded annoyed. "If you’re not going to drink it..." The two women threw caution to the wind and took a drink. Poor Cadis didn’t know what hit her. She felt like her throat was on fire and started coughing violently as the liquid raced to her stomach. Taren was patting her friend on the back and Xena was trying to keep from laughing. It burned to Taren also but she kind of like it and gave Xena a sly smile. After Cadis had caught her breath Taren asked Xena. "Damn what is this shit? What a kick." "It’s just wine." Said the warrior. "Made from grapes and Greek fire?" Commented the raspy wrangler. "That’s the nastiest, foulest most retched rancid thing I ever tasted. In comparison pond scum would taste like an elixir from the Gods" "Damn Cadis you baby. Xena we better go find her some goat’s milk to drink?" Teased Taren. Xena could see it coming. Bravado time. All right! She knew Gabrielle thought this ‘I’m tougher than you’ shit was so juvenile.

She always wanted to tell her it’s a warrior thing babe, you wouldn’t understand. But she also knew that Gabrielle had her heart so tied around her finger that she’d be the laughing stock of the village as she was made to sleep on the front porch for uttering such a condescending remark. "Hey I got your goat’s milk right here." Cadis uttered giving the brunette an obscene hand gesture. Taren then proceeded to turn and place her backside up near the wrangler’s face and began making kissing noises. Xena just sat there holding her stomach feeling the muscles ache from laughing so hard. The group settled down after a bit and went back to the light conversation. Xena and Taren drinking their sake while Cadis got her water skin trying to erase the taste in her mouth. Although this trip was meant as a time to be out and about in the wilds of nature like they all did before they had spouses and children the conversation took a turn and that’s what they started to talk about. "Xena are you ready for the baby?" Asked Cadis. "Oh yeah can’t wait." "What does Eve think about having a sister or a brother?" Asked Taren. The warrior thought about that. "Hum I don’t really know for sure. I mean she didn’t scream when we told her so I guess she’s okay with it." "You guys didn’t get to spend a lot of time with her because of that god thing. The..." The wrangler was searching for the name of the event were all the Olympian gods were trying to kill Eve because her birth was prophesized to bring about their deaths. "The twilight." Xena informed her. "No we didn’t even have her a year before we..." The warrior stopped and had a memory of her first child, her son Solan whom she had less then a day before she gave him to Kaleipus, the centaur, who raised him to be a wonderful little boy. It hadn’t really occurred to her that something might happen to this child. Certainly between the two of them they had had heart-wrenching events with their children. So what would make this time different? Probably because they were in it together. Their lives were simpler now. They weren’t spending every waking moment in constant danger, but mostly because they’d earned it. This time would be different because they were going to make it that way no matter what. Taren could see the remembrance of that was taking a brutal toll on her friend so she tried to change the topic to something happier. "Boy Gabrielle looks absolutely radiant. Being pregnant really agrees with her." Xena smiled as her thoughts were diverted to her wife. "I don’t know if she’d agree with you on that. But I do. Though I don’t count cause I’m bias." "Xena trust me you’re the only that does count." Returned the brunette. "Have you picked any names?" The wrangler asked. "Nothing definite except Lyceus for a boy." There was a string of silence as Taren gather her enquiry. "Xena I don’t mean to sound dumb but how could it be a boy?" The dark woman looked at her younger friend. "Well Taren I know you’re an amazon but the world is made up of two kinds of babies. Some of them are girls like all of us and then there are boys that..." Taren gave her friend a ‘fuck you bitch’ look. "Xena I know that but my question is how could two women have a boy?" Cadis looked at Taren wondering if the sake was taking effect. "Taren the real question would be how could two women have a baby period. We know how that happen it was Aphrodite." "Yes I know Cadis but all I’m saying is if you’ve got two Xs how could you get an O?" Cadis and Xena looked at each other confused and then looked at Taren and said simultaneously. "What?" Taren thought she’d try another example. " Look it’s real simple. If you got two apples and they make love and one of them gets pregnant then the baby will be an apple. If you have an apple and an orange make love and one of them gets pregnant you could have either an apple baby or an orange baby." Xena looked over at Cadis and said "Remind me never to eat fruit at their house." "No shit." Relayed Cadis. "Xena damn you it’s just an analogy." Taren clipped. "It makes me wonder just a bit what you and Mehadi have been doing for you to ever have an image of fruit making love." Cadis and Xena were rolling. "Xena how many times have you hit her in the head during drills huh?" "Very funny. You just don’t understand it cause it doesn‘t have anything to do with horses." Taren was getting fed up with their teasing. Xena tried to calm her friend down. "I do get what you’re saying there. Actually that’s what Gabrielle and I were thinking but Aphrodite told us it could be a boy too. She started trying to explain it to us and her whole demeanor changed. It was all rather frightening to tell you the truth. Kind of like a split personality or something so we decided not to bring it up anymore." "Gabrielle is going to be a great mom don’t you think?" Taren asked of the group and they agreed. "That was one thing I thought she’d never experience. When she gave birth to Hope it was so weird. Even then under the circumstances she was beautiful. She just looked so natural holding a baby. I wish things could have been different." Taren saw her friend getting poignant again. "Hey it will be." "Yeah." Added Cadis. "Rena swears she’s got our next amazon princess in there. Everything will work out just fine." "That's right even if it’s ‘daddy’ is a nasty old piece of centaur shit." Taren teased. "Taren go to sleep before I whack you in the head with two apples making love."

Gabby and Dite walked up the short path to Rena’s home where the baby festivity was being held. The two friends had talked a bit about things neither of them every hearing of a party to welcome a baby before it was born. The goddess did hope the shindig would be more fun than it had sounded. After what seemed like forever to Aphrodite: "Couldn’t I just pop us there?" "Why is her hut so damn far away from yours?" "I should have known tall, dark and hostile had something to do with that." "Strategic my left tit!" : They arrived at the regent’s door. She warmly invited them in and showed them to their seats. Gabrielle liked the way Rena had set up the sitting. A small round intimate circle of chairs. To the left behind the chairs was a table set up full of food. Over to the right a table, which had, gifts she hadn‘t expected. To her extreme left were three musicians: bongos, flute and lyre. They were playing softly which blended in nicely with the low chatter. Once the newcomers had taken their seats Rena had said that each of the guests wanted to come forward to speak personally with their queen. Before the first guest came forward she took an inventory of the familiar and loved faces surrounding her. Looking left she glanced at Aphrodite who was seated quietly looking around the room too. Next to her was Zeva the blacksmith and Sati’s partner. She could imagine the captain sitting at home solemnly recuperating from her injures acquired in the Arad incident. The first few weeks of her recovery had been touch and go but thank the gods she’d made it and would be back to duty soon. Next were Melissa and Eris, two members of the elder’s council. Sometimes it felt weird remembering that she was really their age, actually Eris was slightly younger. Xena always said that it didn’t count because they weren’t aware of time passing while they’d been frozen whenever Gabrielle would bring up the subject of them being elders too. Next were Hallie and Thyra with their new baby. This was their first girl, which they named Simone. The bard remembered being there right after she was born. Watching as the baby’s curious brothers, Devin and Hayden looked at her and gently touched her at their mother’s slight coaxing. That will be us soon she thought. Then there were Kailasa and Aminta. They sure do seem to be spending a lot of time together lately. Wonder what’s up with them. Oh wait Kailasa prefers men. But I thought I did too. Hum. Seated next to them was Karuna, the healer’s apprentice. She was surprised to see the young woman at an ‘old ladies party’ but she was such a lively girl with a warm heart and a great sense of humor she was glad she was there. Next was Reseda the village’s chief healer. On her last check up the healer’s daughter Tia had been there saying she would be finish with school soon and wanted to be a healer like her mom. Next was Mehadi, village head chef extraordinaire who loved any excuse to cook. She could make the simplest things taste so very good. She still found it funny that her partner Taren couldn’t even make tea. Finally seated next to her Rena. Red Rena she sometimes called her. The two of them had become so close after Cyane died. Having her there, teaching her and helping her understand amazon law helped the queen through the tragic loss of her second in command. Cyane had been such a great help to her during her transition as queen of the newly formed nation and again with the transition of being a full time queen when she and Xena had decided to get off the road and settle down. She took one more look around the room before Mehadi came forward to greet her. She was so happy right now that the only thing that would make this day better was having Xena there.

So far Aphrodite couldn’t think of a lamer party she’d been to. But was it really fair to compare some mortal gig to the bashes she’d had on Mt. Olympus? She loved her friend Gabby dearly so she just sat quietly hoping against hope

that things would pick up. She was cool while each individual came up and talked with Gabs. Wonder what’s next? She thought. Rena stood up and said it was time to play some games. Cool. Wait what kinda fun games can you play with just chicks? "Okay everyone the first game we’re going to play is called guess mommy’s waist size. Now everyone get out the strings you cut and let’s get Gabby to model each of them and the closes one to her actual size wins." Dite was stunned at the lameitude of this game. She thought the string she had had come off of somebody's clothes. Luckily that game didn’t take long. "Okay everyone the next game..." Oh no not another one! "Hey ladies" asked the love goddess could I get anybody something to eat?" Gabrielle looked up from her chair to make sure it was indeed her friend Aphrodite who had said that. It was. While Rena explained the rules of the next game to the guest the goddess went over to the buffet table and surveyed the food. I got to do something to liven up this bore fest. Once the solution came to her and small vile appeared in her hand. Its contents were white and the bottle was marked impetus. She then sprinkled it liberally over the food and then made a tray with different items on and gave it to Gabrielle and watch as it got passed around and the women began to eat. The goddess thought she should give some to the musicians cos their stale tunes weren’t helping this monotonous affair. After only a short while Aphrodite could tell things were picking up. The ten-question game had been far more interesting and titillating then she had expected.

"Gabrielle where is the weirdest place you and Xena have...." "What was

the most orgasms you’ve had in one night?" And her favorite one from that elder Eris no less. "Have you and Xena ever considered having a three some?" The goddess went over to the musicians and got them to play and slow steady groove which in turn got the women out of there seats. That couple with the new baby said they needed to put her down for a nap but the goddess knew the only napping would be on the surface of their bed. The chatter was getting louder and livelier. The now more upbeat music seemed to get the women swaying. Dite then felt an urge to turn things up a bit. She went to the front door and tried to get everyone’s attention they finally quieted down enough for her to say she had invited someone to the party and she hoped no one would mind. As she opened the door a sultry seductive figure passed over the threshold. Depending on your preference they were either male or female. Hey I’m an equal opportunity goddess. The artiste was greeted with great enthusiasm. The noise level in the room raised considerably when the vision began to move to the rhythm of the music. The dancing began. Zeva with Reseda, Mehadi and Karuna, Eris and Melissa, Aminta and Kailasa, and The three some of Aphrodite, the dancer and Rena. Gabrielle looked around the room watching them and feeling terribly left out. After a few minutes of being ignored she stood up on her chair and waited. The dancing continued as she went unnoticed. After having enough of being overlooked, since this damn party was for her anyway, she screamed at them. "Hey! Heeeyyy!! Who wants to dance with me? Who’s going to dance with the pregnant lady over here? Come on you guys! I won’t tell Xena. Please!! Don’t you love me?" The poor girl looked like she was about to cry. Rena stopped her movements and went up to the blonde. "Come here honey I’ll dance with you. Now get down from there before you hurt yourself." The love goddess gazed around at all the now happy people and knew she had saved the day.

It was almost sunset as the captain rose from her chair to have a drink of cider. It sure hadn’t been easy being cooped up but she’d known the seriousness of her injury and she and her partner Zeva had discussed the possibility that she might very well die. The Captain being a practical person had wanted to make sure everything was arranged just in case. Zeva on the other didn’t want to think that way. But in the end Sati had won out with her logical arguments. Everyone was happy when it looked like she was going to recover fully. She was glad too but she missed her work terribly. She had decided to for go the baby party more because she didn’t think it was a productive use of her time. She told Zeva that being around the queen, especially in her condition, would only make her tense. While she was pouring her drink she glanced out the window toward Rena’s hut where the party was. She was somewhat surprised at the noise level coming from over there since Zeva had told her it was to be a very small gathering. She tried looking through the trees that separated the homes but could only make out a slight movement here and there and indistinguishable noises. She deicide to let her natural instinct to investigate go this one time.

The love goddess was pleased with the party so far. She was glad to see everyone having a good time. When she and Gabby had first arrived she wasn’t sure with even her interventions that this affair could have been saved. She could see the makings of a disaster if she hadn’t stepped in and fixed it. It was clear to her that the Amazon's reputation as big party givers was extremely overstated. Now the place was rockin’ and things were getting better. This is how you party chicks! You don’t sit around talking about your offspring you kick back, get nude and act rude! You grab the Minotaur by the horn or other pointy body parts and you don’t stop ‘til ya booty drops! And to her delight that’s what this shindig was turning into. All of a sudden she heard someone yell out ‘Food fight!’ and victuals started flying around the room. The goddess was shocked yet pleased that the ladies were really letting their hair down but all that dancing and thinking about bulls had made her want to have a little companionship that sadly these chicks just couldn’t supply. She was inclined to leave them to their festivities while she went in one of the other rooms to get her freak on. She opened the door to what appeared to be a little boy’s room. There was plenty of empty space on the floor for a nice bear skin rug, which she then made appear out of thin air. Now on to whom her companion for the rest of the evening would be. Who would it be? Her choices were endless but what was she in the mood for? The real question was what wasn’t she in the mood for? I’m really in the mood for double trouble I think. In the blink of an eye two young studley man appeared in front of her. "Hey fellows what took ya so long huh?" Asked the inspired goddess. Now she was ready to get her own party started with handsome Holkos and eatable Epipedos.

The evening meal was always an interesting time in the dinning hall. The hustle and bustle of it made it even better. Lindsay loved this place not just because she enjoyed the cooking but it was the atmosphere that made it so interesting. Learning from Mehadi was a plus. Of all the things she had studied in school nothing grabbed her like cooking. The artistic ness of trying new things and have friends amazed at the flavor and textures of her creations. She loved helping out those trying to prepare a special meal for their loved ones and getting ideas and suggestions from not just Mehadi but her as well. Watching the women as they started new friendships or romances over food and drink. The social aspect of the amazon way was just as important as fighting and hunting. Outsiders never seemed to grasp the amazon philosophy, which was okay by her, the mystic was an added bonus as well. This day had been a longer one then normal since she had gotten up early and helped Mehadi with the food for the queen’s baby party. What a great idea Rena had come up with. They thought that if this one went well they would start it as a new amazon tradition. As more and more people came filing in she got a glimpse her younger sister Allison and her crew. Her sister had been friends with Ravati and Ligia all the way through school and still after finishing and beginning their adult amazon duties. Lindsey always thought her sister would be a teacher like their mom Mara but she stunned her by saying she wanted to learn the smith trade. It really shouldn’t have shocked her since their father was the smith for Jozachar. When they were younger and before they really understood the dynamics of amazon life they would cross the river to the male village, Jozachar, to see their father Aragon. It never seemed weird that he didn’t live with them. Some of their friends didn’t have a relationship with their fathers. They saw their mom’s lover as their other parent. Getting older and being taught in school how the human race refurbished its self was definitely an eye opener. It was also a topic for many discussions around the campfires. A society of women still had to depend on men to sustain it. Hearing elders tell stories of the old days before Queen Gabrielle. Knowing that what she did made their world the wonderful place that it was now. Knowing that if she and her partner Seda decided to start a family and if they did have a male child they would still love it the same as female child. Everyone is of value. That’s what they had learned from their queen. She was brought out of her thoughts by a nudge from Allison. "Hey sis how was the party?" "Oh hey. I don’t know I didn’t stay. I had to come back here to serve you monsters." That got a look from Ligia. "Join us Lindsey?" Asked the ever-polite Ravati. "Thanks but I’ve been nibbling all day. I think after the crowd thins out a little I’ll call it a day." Lindsey watched as her sister and her friends took their regular table and began eating and talking about whatever adolescent amazons talk about. SEX. The chef knew more of what was going on with them then they probably did. The stuff that went on with these kids was what poets wrote of a ring of unrequited love. Ligia wanting Allison, Allison wanting Ravati and Ravati having a thing for Virgil and a few other fellows from Jozachar. Aw to be young, confused and have raging hormones. They can have it! I’ll take what I got any day. But Lindsey was wrong this day. The topic at this table was a certain party that was going on.

They all leaned in close to hear what Ligia was whispering. Seems she had been on her way to the dining hall from encampment two when she heard loud music and even louder voices. When she realized where the noise was coming from she went a little closer to the regent’s hut. As she nonchalantly walked up and ever so discreetly peered into a window she was surprised at the sight. The women were dancing very close to one another. They weren’t really dancing as couples more like one large fiery group. Allison and Ravati felt their friend had overstated what she saw but Ligia was steadfast in her observations. Allison found it all quite interesting and wanted to crash the bash to which Ligia agreed but Ravati had to be the grown up and explain why they couldn’t. All right shouldn’t. "We can’t just go in there uninvited." She chastised her friends. "I don’t think they’d notice Ra. Really" Ligia said. "Yeah come on if they’re as messed up as they sound..."Ravati stopped Allison’s words. "The only way I could go over there and not be reprimanded would be if you think the queen might be in danger." Ravati advised them. "Ligia did the queen or the regent appear to be in any danger?" She asked. Ligia was silent going over the question in her mind and replaying the scene she had witnessed. No she couldn’t rightfully say the queen or the regent seemed in any immediate danger but then a thought did come to mind. What if Xena were to see these women dancing suggestively with her wife? So after conveying that thought to her companions the three girls agreed dinner was over.

The three hunters had been having a successful occasion. Everyone had bagged at least something. Xena had an eight point buck. Taren had a doe and Cadis almost got a boar until the boar almost got her. She blamed it on the sake and ended up with a fox and a weasel that Taren had sworn were really knocked unconscious by the trees they'd ran into running from Cadis and the bore. Xena could sense the weather changing feeling the first snow coming earlier than normal so they decided to head back after the first day. No one really seemed upset about it Home is were the heart is or look at the big tough warriors over there already missing their women folk. They were making good time even with their bounty and expected to be back to the village not to long after sundown.

Ravati and her friends could hear the noise before they ever got to the hut. The music was loud but the candles seemed low. There was an occasional hoot from inside the hut while they were looking through the bushes. They really couldn’t see very well from their present vantage-point so they played rock paper scissors to see who would climb the tree to get a better look. Ravati got the honor and started up the tree once she could see inside the regent’s hut all was still. She saw what seemed to be semi-nude bodies laying all over each other on the floor. She quickly climbed down and told her companions what she’d seen. They rushed to the front door of the hut but were careful to open it gently. As they peeked inside no one move. They recognized their regent and their queen

sprawled over one another. Luckily they seemed to be the only two, but the most important two, with their clothing in tact. Ravati went up slowly and as she got closer to them she could tell they were asleep. She then motioned for her friends to meet her outside. Once she closed the door she began to speak. " They seem okay I think they just got drunk and passed out." "What are we going to do?" Asked Allison. "I say we just leave. Like we never saw anything." Ligia said. "I can’t." Ravati told them. "Why not? You said they seemed okay. Let’s just leave." Ligia added. "Ligia I can’t do that. I think they're okay but if they’re not then I would be endangering our leaders. No I have to go get Sati." The other girls froze at that statement. The Captain was anal when it came to situations involving the queen and the regent not to mention that her partner was snuggled up with someone. Yes the captain would freak. So Allison had a better idea. "Hey Ra don’t get Sati. What about Aminta or Kailasa?" "Ally didn’t you see them unconscious on the floor?" Asked Ligia. "Hey you guys can split if you want to but I got to go get the captain. Thank the gods Xena won’t be back for a few more days." Ligia and Allison looked at each for a split second then they fell in behind their friend heading for the captain’s hut, which luckily was just beyond the trees. They did make sure that Ravati was in the lead of course.

Sati raised out of her chair to light the candles as darkness was overtaking the room. She had been so involved in her reading she hadn’t noticed when the noises she had heard earlier had stopped. As she went around the room she felt uneasy at the silence. She went to window and looked out figuring the time to an hour or so passed sundown and told herself to rein her hackles in and try to relax the party was probably over and Zeva would be home soon. Then she jumped when there was a knock at the door. She walked over and opened it and found Ravati standing there. Trying to focus in the dim light she then saw Ravati’s two buddies, Ligia and Allison. "Good evening Ravati what can I do for you?" Asked the captain. "Captain I think you’d better come with us to the regent’s hut." "Why what’s wrong?" " It may be nothing but..." Ravati didn’t know what to say next or how to say it. Well I think that they all got drunk and had an orgy. "Please just come with us." Was all she could manage.

Xena and her friends had made good time and where passing through encampment two on the way to Cadis’s hut. The weather had gotten colder and the skies looked ready to dump the first snow of the year but it hadn’t happen yet. Cadis was surprised at the dimness of her home this soon after sundown. She figured the party would still be going on but then Rena did say it was just a small get together. Still she found it odd that the place was so dark. "That musta been one hell of a party huh?" Asked Xena. "Yeah they must have let loose and Rena’s passed out on the floor somewhere." Cadis said jokingly as the trio put their gear down. Cadis invited them in for a hot cider to warm them up before they went home. As they rounded the side of the house they all stopped when they saw Sati and Ravati. "Hey Sati how are you?" Asked Xena extending her hand. "You’re looking well." "Thank you Xena I am feeling much better. I’m surprised to see you back so soon." "Well the weather looked like it might turn and we didn’t want to get stuck if it snowed." "So how was the party?" Asked Taren. "I don’t know. I didn’t attend I wanted to catch up on some work. But..." Sati was cut off when Cadis opened the door and screamed. "Pegasus’ sacred nuts!" Everyone turned around and then stood behind her and look inside at the sight except for Ravati who just looked at the wood floor of the porch and Allison and Ligia who where easing back in to the shadows of the night. Xena took one look at the carnage and said. "Aphrodite." She then looked at Taren and Sati and said. "Go check on everyone and try to wake them up while I see if I can find the person.. god that’s responsible for all this." She then walked around the room and then stopped and yelled out. "Aphrodite!" All at once the door on Xena’s right flung open and out stepped the goddess a little perturbed at being interrupted. "Can’t you chicks keep it down out here so a horny goddess can get laid for crying out loud!" She stopped in her tracks and the studs she had been entertaining bumped right into her. She saw it on the warrior princess’s face that she was in very deep dung.

Cadis couldn't believe what her eyes were seeing. Her hut was a wreak. She hadn’t seen a mess like this since her last day of school. No her dorm room was never this bad. The furniture was over turned there were bits of food all over the place and the people lying about covered in victuals, wine and Gods know what else. These women were her friends and respected members of the nation. What would have made them do all this? As she cautiously walked inside trying not to disturb any of the lolled bodies out pops someone from Mica’s room. Great Plato’s ghost it’s Aphrodite! And Two Guys! "Crap all mighty Aphrodite that’s our son’s room." She chided the goddess. "His just a kid for the love of.." Then she remembered he wasn’t there. At least she hoped. At that moment she felt a gentle touch on her shoulder and then turned around and looked at her lover Rena, who looked disheveled, confused and mortified. Seeing her face she knew Rena had nothing to do with the sights and smells before her and began to channel her climbing rage toward the love goddess. Knowing Xena would give the crazy blonde what for.

Xena looked at Cadis with a look that told her she’d take car of everything. First the warrior calmly walked up to the goddess who seemed terrified of her despite the fact that with her being a god there probably wasn’t anything Xena could really do to harm her. But with Xena no one, even the gods, were ever sure about her skills. Aphrodite was expecting a roar to come out of Xena’s mouth and was amazed at the balanced tone of her voice. "Aphrodite we’re going to talk about this in a bit. First I want you to take Gabrielle back to our hut, help her clean up and let her rest and then wait for me until I get there. Don’t do anything else until I get there. Got it?" "Oh yes Xena, sure whatever you say." The goddess was glad the warrior hadn’t ripped her into little pieces, which somehow she just knew the warrior was capable of, and collected her friend and headed off to the queen’s hut. With that done the warrior set on to her next task. "Cadis don’t you or Rena worry about this mess I’ll have it taken care of okay?" "Right Xena." The warrior looked around and saw everyone seemed unharmed just dirty and out of it. "Okay I think we’re all in agreement here when I say the party is over." Everyone mumbled their approval and headed for the door. "Rena is Nana watching the kids?" Asked Xena. "Aw yeah." She replied hazily. "Sati are Ravati and her friends still here?" "Yes Xena." The captain motioned for them to come in. The captain and the three girls gathered around the warrior waiting for their instructions. "Ravati you and your friends watch to make sure everyone makes it home okay." She nodded and took off with her two friends. "Sati why don’t you, Taren and me go get the kids. And Cadis." The wrangler walked up to hear what Xena needed her to do. "Why don’t you get Rena settled and than walk Mehadi and Zeva home." Cadis started to walk off. "Hey." Xena said to get her attention. "I’ll get to the bottom of this and have a discussion with you know who and she’ll come over and clean up for you." Cadis nodded her approval. Now with all that settled it was time for everyone to go home and try to call it a day.

The warrior was bushed and she could see that her two companions looked the same. Exhausted, livid, worried, not to mention shocked. Although Xena didn’t care for Aphrodite's high jinks she was after all use to them. She wasn’t sure what to say to them. She knew Sati was certainly appalled while Taren was.. Well Mehadi was laying all over Karuna and they were almost completely naked. She wasn’t crazy about seeing Gabrielle and Rena all curled up together so she knew her friends was really pissed off. Well let me at least put their anger in it’s rightful place. "Look um I’m really sorry about what Aphrodite did. She doesn’t understand a lot of things when it comes to mortals." "Xena what if she didn’t do anything and they just.." Taren said. Xena stopped walking and turned and faced her good friend which make Sati stop as well. "Taren what are you saying? That our wives had a deliberate orgy while we were gone? Come on now you don’t really believe that. Do you?" "No, look I’m just.. I don’t know. Why would she do that to them Xena?" Taren asked. " She doesn’t think about the consequence of her actions Taren she just does things because she wants to, to have fun and then when everything goes awry she...disappears usually." "She sounds a lot like my kids." Taren surmised. "Yes she can be very child-like." The warrior agreed. "You know Xena," the captain began, " and I’ve always thought of the gods as profound and stead fast in the responsibilities of administration of what happens to our world and us. But if I get your meaning then they’re just a bunch of self-centered, blusterous, inefficient shit heads." Both Xena and Taren were taken aback by the captains colorful words. Xena and her friend used profanity on a regular basis but to hear Sati do it was a bit odd. "Um Sati that’s certainly an interesting way of putting it but yeah that’s about right." Replied the warrior glancing over at her buddy who was trying to stifle a laugh. They started walking again in silence until they came upon Nanya’s hut. Taren entered first spotting her oldest daughter right away. The little blonde hair girl turned from playing with the baby sitter and started running to jump in her arms when see saw Taren. "Mom!" Taren picked her up finding her other daughter napping in a nearby crib. "Hey squirt. Have you been having fun with Nana?" Such a silly question. Nanya was a parent’s dream come true. You could get a number of adults and even juniors to watch your kids but Nanya was the best. She could always keep them interested and seemed to enjoy the child's company so much. She was like the god Pan she could heard up a room full of children and get them to do what ever she wanted while others would have committed suicide just from the noise alone. She had come from the Persian tribe when they had come together to merge as one nation. She had no children of her own and had been saved by the queen of the Persian tribe from slavers when she was about ten. The queen took her to raise as her own. The queen’s consort was a mid-wife for their tribe and taught young Vanya the trade. When she had gotten older she changed her name to Nanya since that’s what the small kids called her anyway. From there, after years and years of delivering babies and taken care of the children of her village, everyone started calling her Nana. The vermilion haired woman smiled at Taren and the others as they entered her hut. She was watching Taren’s daughters, Valari and Ericka and Rena and Cadis’ son Mica. The older woman stood up to greet her guest not concerned to wake Mica since neither of his parents was a part of the group. Taren put Valari down and asked her to help her get her sister’s things. Nanya just waited to see what she could do for Xena or Sati since she found it a little odd that they were all here to help Taren. "Listen Nana could you get Mica’s things I’m going to take him home for Cadis and Rena." "Sure Xena. How’s our mother to be doing?" "Oh fine, fine. Probably sleeping." "Hey I thought you and Taren and Cadis went hunting?" "Aw we did. Thought we’d better come back early the weather looked like snow." "Really this early?" Nanya walked over and gently woke the boy. "Mica wake up dear. Xena’s here to take you home." The boy rubbed his eyes trying to wake up as Nanya got him and his things over to Xena. By now Taren had her kids and their things and was heading for the door. Nanya got a hug from each of the kids and said her goodbyes to them and to the three women. Sati took Mica’s hand while Taren had Ericka in her arms and Valari in front of her as they proceeded to the regent’s hut. Xena watched them as they started off that way and thought to herself how nice it would be to just go and curl up with her bard and forget this mess. But she knew she had to get to the bottom of it no matter what happened and give Aphrodite a very big chunk of warrior princess rage.

Ravati went outside and up to her friends to get their group in order and ready to go. She looked over the group and noticed two were missing. "Where are Kailasa and Aminta?" She asked Ligia. "They’re gone." She said. "What do you mean gone?" "As in not here." Ravati was perturbed at her friend. "Why didn’t you follow them?" "Because they looked like they wanted to be alone." It took Ravati a second to comprehend. "Well great we still have to find them. What if they’re hurt?" Ravati tried to reason. "Believe me they weren't feeling no pain." Allison put in. "The way those two were going at it we’ll probably trip over them on the road." "Well one of us should go by each of their huts and see if they made it home all right." "You go right ahead Ra, I’ve had enough excitement for one night." Ligia told her. So Ravati decided to think about what she’d do about Kailasa and Aminta later. She would have Ligia and Allison make sure the elders Eris and Melissa got home all right and she would see to Reseda and Karuna. Then they could finally pack it in.

Cadis and Mehadi were silent during the walk to Mehadi and Taren’s hut. Cadis had so many questions she was planning on asking Rena and she was hoping she would be able to hold down her temper. They had seen Zeva home first since her and the captain’s hut was next door. She could imagine Sati sitting Zeva down and quietly but effectively getting the details while she and Rena would must likely be yelling at one another. What the hell was the matter with her? She said it was going to be a quiet affair nothing wild. From the looks of the hut it’s a wonder it was still standing. Cadis was so embarrassed. Everyone seeing their hut in shambles after what appeared to be an.. She didn’t even want to say the word to herself because it might make it true. The regent, second in command of the amazon nation with her arms wrapped around the queen. And the queen was seven months pregnant at that. She was getting hotter by the minute. Poor Taren, she thought at least Rena and Gabrielle had all their clothes on. Mehadi looked extremely cozy with Reseda. I saw Taren’s eyes pop out at that. They finally made it to Mehadi’s front door and Cadis finally spoke. "Mehadi what happened?" The taupe haired woman looked sadly at the ground and then looked back up at Cadis. "I don’t know Cadis. All I remember is we were talking and eating the snacks I’d made and then I wake up next Reseda with my shirt off." She stopped and looked as though she was going to cry. "Did Taren see me like that?" Cadis felt awful for her and about what she had thought about her own wife. They weren’t responsible for anything they did. It was all Aphrodite’s fault. Damn her and damn her stupid shit. "Mehadi don’t worry no one will blame you." Mehadi started to cry. Cadis reached out to give a hug. "Come on now let’s get inside. "Was Taren mad? Gods Cadis I love her so. What if Reseda and I.." "Stop now. It’s okay. Believe me no one blames any of you for what happened." "But I don’t remember what happened." Mehadi said very upset. "I’ll never forgive myself if I.." She started crying again. "Hey come on." Cadis tried to reassure her. Xena’s going to take care of it I promise. You go inside and try to rest we’ll have everything worked out by tomorrow you’ll see." That seemed to help the distraught woman and she went on inside the hut. Damn what a mess. Gods I hope Xena can fix this one. Cadis turned once Mehadi was inside and started home. She wondered if Rena would be that upset about it and if she was Cadis knew she was going to do whatever she could to make her feel better.

Sati had watched as Mehadi came outside as they had arrived with the children. Mehadi didn’t say anything. Taren could see it on her face. Taren handed over the baby to its mother and reached out with her free hand and touched her wife’s face. "Sweetheart are you all right?" She asked with such love and concern in her voice. That’s just what Mehadi needed to hear at that moment and she fell into Taren’s arms in tears. Taren looked over at Sati and gave her an ‘it’s okay’ look then guided Mehadi and the baby and little Valari into the house and closed the door. Sati stood there for a moment remembering what she had seen when she first looked in the regent’s hut. People she knew and respected in a compromising situation to say the least. She should have gone over there earlier when she heard the uncharacteristic noises. Yes she was very upset with herself for not investigating. She could have saved the queen and the regent the humiliation of being found like that by Xena and the others. Ravati had done well bringing it to her attention. She would have to praise her for that. The captain continued her saunter on the way now back to her hut. Yes she would have to apologize to the queen and the regent tomorrow for her inattentiveness to her duty and she would beg their forgiveness. Now what to say to Zeva? She wasn’t pleased to see her companion in an unbecoming situation. Still she didn’t have enough details to come to any conclusions. She opened the door and saw Zeva sitting on the couch. She determined now would not be the best time to discuss what had happened so she would leave it for later. "Zeva dear I don’t feel I can discuss what I saw this evening. I feel it would be better if we didn’t sleep in the same bed this evening. I will however see you in the morning. Sleep well my dear." She then went into the spare room and closed the door behind her with a little more force than she had intended. She got the cot ready for sleeping and began to ready herself for bed. She was startled by the sound of a furious yell coming from the other side of the door and then jumped again as something crashed into it. All was now quiet until she heard Zeva yell. "Sati you son of bitch! Kiss my fucking ass you fucking coward!" She’ll get tired of screaming at me in a little bit. Then I can get some sleep.

Sometimes just walking inside and kicking someone’s ass works better than anything does. It’s fast, It’s painless, well at least for me that is, and you get your point gets across with no questions asked. There’s no way Gabrielle will let me get away with that damn it. I guess I’ll just have to talk to the crazy assed bitch. Damn Gabrielle wouldn’t like me calling her that either. Shit Aphrodite you sure can fuck stuff up. You really ought to be the goddess of fuck-ups instead of love. Stop Xena you can’t talk to her friend like that no matter what she did. If it weren’t for her you and Gabrielle wouldn’t have a baby on the way. Get a hold of yourself and work your plan like a good warrior princess. She almost ran into to her own front door she had been so lost in her thoughts but the time was at hand. Stick to the plan! She told herself which she reviewed before she opened the door. First check on Gabrielle and the baby. Find out what kinda crazy assed spell Aphrodite put on them. Then find out what happened and see if I can keep all our friends from breaking up over it. Aphrodite was startled when the door opened and she raised herself off the couch to give the warrior a status report. "Xena Hi. Gabs is in the bedroom asleep. I helped her clean up and stuff and I been waiting here like you asked." "That’s fine. Why don’t you go sit down while I go in and see Gabrielle?" The goddess complied. Damn she knows she really fucked up this time. The warrior tried to be as quiet as she could. The candle had almost burned down. She was relieved to see her lover resting and clean. Aphrodite had gotten the food out of her hair and she looked none the worst from the experience. I wonder if she and Rena.. Stop that. Don’t think about that. She sat down on the bed and pulled the covers back some and rubbed her lover’s belly for a bit. How ya doing in their kid? I hope you didn’t get sick. Mommy didn’t mean to if you did. Tell you what on the day you’re born how about you give Aunt Aphrodite a kick in the head for you dear old dad. What ya say? Deal? The image of the goddess holding their new born for the first time and being whacked in head almost made her laugh out loud." Xena?" The bard asked sleepily. "Yes darling I’m here. Are you all right?" "Yeah just got a little headache. What the hell happened?" She asked her partner. "I’m not sure yet but I’m betting Aphrodite had something to do with it. What do you remember?" "Everything is real fuzzy. I remember we got there and oh Xena everything looked so pretty. You would have hated it. Oh and there were presents on a table and food on another. I don’t remember opening any presents though. We played a couple of silly games than Aphrodite served us the food." "Wait" Xena stopped her "Aphrodite got up and served the food?" "Yeah she offered to do it, which I thought was kind of strange." "That’s it than she must have put something in the food to make you guys..." Gabrielle ventured out, "Wild? Gods Xena what did we do?" "I don’t know but I intend to find out right now." "Xena wait. Maybe I should go with you?" "No, not this time okay. It’s time she finds out that she could have hurt someone with her silly crap and if you’re there she hide behind you for cover." The bard gave the warrior a look. "Don’t worry I’m mad at her but I promise I won’t hit her. Listen you go on and rest I’ll be in shortly." "Wait did the party go on for days or something?" "No why do you ask?" Then the warrior understood her meaning she wasn’t suppose to be back yet. "The weather looked like it was going to turn bad so we came back early." "Lucky me." Said the bard as Xena leaned down to give her a kiss. "Xena?" "Yeah?" "You can yell at her as loud as you like just don’t throw stuff all right?" Xena laughed "I’ll try to keep it to a mild roar sweetheart and I won’t throw anything except a fit. How’s that?" "Sounds fine." Now it was time to finish this damn day before it finished her.

Aphrodite waited patiently for the warriors return. She wasn’t really sure what the entire hassle was about. The party was going to Hades in a reed basket and all she did was give it a little jolt. Everybody had a good time. Maybe Xena and them other chicks were just pissed cos they missed it. Naw that wasn’t it. They would have just jumped on the body pile if that were the case. No Xena was more pissed than she could ever remember seeing her and she had seen her pissed plenty. Let’s see the spell she put on Joxer Changing him from a bumbler to a hero at the sound of a bell. That was when she’d first met Gabrielle. The bard babe was more pissed than Xena on that one. Xena didn’t seem to really give a hoot. The shit with Bliss and Cupid, not her fault. She was at the spa during that one. Okay now the enchanted scroll thing Xena was a little pissed about that one but Gabs was still pissed more. The mystic diamond thing. They were all too obsessed with shit to be pissed at me. Now that poopola with that little girl and that fairy tale Gabs made up. Yeah I was pushing the warrior babe a little on that one. That was probably the worst one. Oh Shit I forgot. She was really pissed when I put her soul inside the body of that Daphne chick. I don’t know how I got that one wrong. Bad hair day I guess. Yikes! When I put that love spell on Genia and she fell in love with that warlord’s son. I thought that the warrior babe was going to bust her guts. Then when she found out that I’d zapped the girl to the market to shop and the zealots got her. I thought she’d have clobbered me for sure. Dressing up pretending to be Genia parents was kinda fun. Damn Xena looked so much like a man that time she almost turned me on. I said ALMOST! But that look on the warriors face tonight when she came out of Mica’s room with those young men behind her. In all the years she’d known the warrior princess she had never given her that look before. Shit I wonder if I got a chance to slip on outta here before I’m minced by tall, dark and deadly? Then the door opened and out stepped Xena. The goddess wanted to leave but she was afraid that Xena would be able to reach through infinity grab hold of her and pull her back to now and kick her ass until she was basically assless.

Xena was ready to end this. This had been one very long day and all she wanted to do was get what she could out of Aphrodite and go to bed. So she sat down on the couch with the love goddess and made her spill it. All of it. Xena really couldn’t believe her audacity. She explained that in the mortal world if you had to attend an event and it sucked you either sat there and endured it or you found someway to leave without being rude. She told her she had no right to reek the havoc she had caused. And that before she went flying off to her next facial or something or other she was going to fix Rena’s and Cadis’ hut and tell them how sorry she was for her behavior. Then once she got that all straighten out she was going to apologize to each one of them individually and as a group and swear on her immortally that she would never ever under any circumstances do anything like this to anyone ever again. She got where Xena was coming from and did as she was told. She looked sad but yet glad Xena hadn’t ripped her a new one. Whatever that meant. The warrior looked at her and wondered sometimes why she put up with this nut ball and then it hit her she knew why. The same reason Gabrielle did. "Okay look I’m really tired so we clear on everything?" The goddess nodded yes. "Good then get the crap outta here before I say something we’ll both regret like I love ya or something." Xena didn’t look at the goddess she just brushed her hand on her shoulder and squeezed a little as she rose to leave the room. The goddess was relieved because since the death of the rest of the Olympians Xena and Gabby were about all the family she had left and she knew the warrior felt the same. "Hey blow out the candles before you vanish will ya?"

Everyone had survived the baby party disaster with all the relationships still in tact. The goddess had told Xena that the reason some of the women were topless was because they were comparing bust sizes to see who was the biggest. Rena was too small to even bother and Gabrielle’s size was exaggerated due to her condition, which disqualified her. They had all passed out after the food fight so nobody did anything improper. Sati was over at the smith’s hut everyday working her self induced penance to make up for her losing her temper at the her partner. All and all it was something they laughed about now. It was just one of those weird things that happen when you came in contact with the warrior princess and the battling bard. Their friends and family had seemed resigned to the facts and still seemed to love them for it. Now the bard was eight months and counting and they still hadn’t come up with a girls named they both liked. Time was running out on them and Gabrielle had to stop Xena every time she started to call the baby Flipper. So they decided

every spare moment from now on would be devoted to picking the right girl’s name. The other night they had had a go round with it. "How about Renee?

That’s a pretty name don‘t you think?" Asked the bard. "I don’t know." Returned the warrior. It sounds really prissy to me." "What about Lucy? I like that one." Xena said. The bard thought about it. "Naw, all the kids will call her Lucy goosey." "Gabrielle no one is going to call my child goosey anything." "They will if you name her Lucy." The warrior looked over her shoulder at the names they had written down and scanned them for what seemed like the millionth time. Then she saw one she hadn’t noticed before and pointed it out to the mother to be. "Hey I haven’t seen that name before." The bard looked at the name Xena had pointed to and grinned. "Oh do you like that one?" She asked. "I don’t know. It looks kind of cool." The dark haired woman tried to pronounce it. "Kikassa? Is that Greek?" The bard thought for a moment and knowing the origins of the name said. "Aw yes it’s extremely Greek." "What does that mean?" Asked the confused warrior. "Think about it Xena what better name for a daughter of the warrior princess and the battling bard of Poteidaia." The warrior still was baffled about what the bard was getting at and then it hit her. "Kikassa. Oh good Gods Gabrielle you mean Kick-ass-a? You’re not serious are you?" Gabrielle decided she was having too much fun to let up. "Think about it Xena. A girl as unique as our daughter should have an original name. Think of the respect she’ll get when she tells her foes that she’s Queen Kikassa of the amazon nation." The warrior was speechless. Gabrielle’s argument was making sense. But when people figured out what her name really meant. "Gabrielle I see your point but with a name like that don’t you think she’d be asking for nothing but trouble?" "No I think it will have the opposite effect. Though we should teach her how to fight just in case." The bard could see her warrior toying with the idea and decided to relent. "Gods Xena I was joking." They both laughed as the warrior suddenly looked relieved. "Aw you had me going there you little stinker." "I was surprised that you were taking me seriously." The bard said. "Well" the warrior started "You modern women today, I just figured I was behind the times." "Oh yes you’re quite out dated Granny." Teased Gabby. "Ha ha. Watch it shorty granny here might have to chase you around this hut until she gets some respect."

Eight and half months were now upon them. Gabrielle realized the closer the time got that there wasn’t really any spared time. They had however gotten the girls names down to six. The queen was at home waiting for Xena, Reseda, the healer and Nanya, the mid-wife. It was getting time to coordinate how the birthing would go. The couple had already made some decisions about some of it. They were going to have Gabrielle deliver at home in the baby’s room. They wanted as few people present as necessary. They did want their friends near but the bard didn’t want everyone she knew staring at her while her privates were up in the air. So those people would wait in the common room until after the birth and then once it was over they could come and wish her well. Except for the spotting she’d had early on in her pregnancy the rest of it had gone without incident. Reseda had given her an all’s well on her last check up. In the room with her during labor would be Xena and Nanya. If complications arose than Reseda would come in and take over from Nanya. Otherwise it would be just the three of them until the baby came. Gabrielle reached down and stroked her belly. "Hi there my little one I sure can’t wait to meet you and neither can Xena. You know Xena will feel awfully funny if you called her daddy, around other people I mean, so I better think of something for you to call her. Cos I want everyone who meets you to know you have two parents who have been waiting for you all their lives." Just then the door opened and the warrior princess came in . "Hey you two what’s up?" She asked her soulmate. " We were just talking about you." The bard said. "Really?" "Yeah. Xena we’ve been so preoccupied with picking names I’ve yet to ask you what you want the baby to call you." "How about Xena?" The warrior asked. "No not unless they call me Gabrielle." "Gabrielle you’re the baby’s mother." "And you’re the baby’s father!" "Hey sweetheart relax." The warrior said coming over to join her on the couch. I know that but it’s okay if they call me Xena I won’t mind." "But I do." "Why? I’ll still be there to do all the daddy stuff. Eve calls you Gabrielle and you don’t seem to mind." "I’m not Eve’s father either." "No but I think she thinks of you as another mother and our baby will think that about me so see calling me Xena will be okay." The bard shook her head no. Then she had a thought Xena doesn’t want people to know because they’ll think it’s weird and then they’ll think we’re weird. The bard was starting to feel a bit angry about the whole thing. "You know what Xena just forget it." Uh oh. "Why don’t we just forget everything? If you’re that ashamed of everyone knowing you’re the father of my baby we just won’t tell anyone. How about that?" The bard’s face was turning redder as her voice elevated. "Gabrielle." Xena tried to touch her on the arm but she pulled away and then stood up and walked toward the bedroom. Then came a knock on front door of the hut. The warrior stood heading toward the bard who put out a hand to heed her progress. "Did you ever really love me Xena? Or was I just the latest conquest of yours huh?" Where is this shit coming from? Thought the warrior. She tried to speak but Gabrielle broke in. "Let’s just call it all off what do you say? You, me, this baby let’s just forget it all and... The bard started crying and ran behind the door. Xena was torn as another knock, a bit louder this time, came on the front door. Xena went to the door and opened it. There stood Reseda and Nanya. "Is everything all right Xena?" Asked Reseda. "I don’t know. Gabrielle and I were just talking about baby stuff then she got all mad and just accused me of never loving her. What did I do?" Nanya reached and placed a

reassuring hand on the warrior’s arm. "I wouldn’t get too upset about it Xena she’s probably just overly emotional right now. Just let her calm down a bit and you’ll see everything will be okay." "Hey you want us to come back later?" Asked Reseda. Nanya could tell the warrior was really shaken by this. "Hey why don’t we go take a walk?" Nanya asked Xena. "Reseda meet us back here in a few minutes okay?" "Sure Nana." Reseda said and then walked off. Nanya guided the stunned Xena a little away from the hut hoping the fresh air would help her.

Gabrielle was lying on the bed sobbing uncontrollably. What’s wrong with me? Why did I just do that? I know Xena loves our baby and me. Before she could finish her next thought a bright light appeared in front of her. "Hey Gabs why the tears? Did tall, dark and tactless say something to hurt your feelings?" The goddess walked over to comfort her friend. "Aphrodite it was me. I said some horrible things to her and I don’t know why I did it. I feel terrible. What if she won’t forgive me?" The bard started to cry again. "Gods Dite what if she leaves the baby and me? I’ll die. I love her so much. What have I done?" Crap how am I going to get her to get a grip before she like totally loses it?

Xena and Nanya hadn’t spoken since they started their walk. Nanya was giving her time to calm herself first. "Nana I need to go back and talk to Gabrielle." The warrior said desperately. "Trust me Xena just give her some time to her self first." "But you didn’t see her she was.." The warrior was searching for the word. "Hysterical? The things she was saying made no sense?" "Yeah." The warrior agreed. "We were talking about what the baby should call me. I told her they could call me Xena but she wouldn’t here of it." Nanya nodded in understanding. "I see that a lot around here. Couples of the same sex do have a dilemma. Most women don’t want to be called Dad but in essence that is the role they are fulfilling. Then they feel being consider mom number two isn’t exactly right either and can be confusing when the child is young. Yet having your child call you by your name somehow makes you less of a parent than the mother in some people’s eyes too. Since women are not physically able to father children there isn’t an appropriate name to describe the other parent. I don’t mean to pry but is the father going to be a part of the baby’s life?" Xena was taken off guard a bit. Do I tell her? "If you mean is anyone else going to raise them besides Gabrielle and me the answer is no." "Well no I didn't mean that. I meant were you going to ever tell the baby who its father was? Most children want to know when they get older where they came from. This is what she’s talking about. If I let the baby call me Xena than I’m not owning up to my responsibly as the father. But I really don’t want to be called daddy. Would it be that bad? People usually don’t have the guts to tease me to my face. So they tease the kid or Gabrielle instead. "Well apparently it’s very important to Gabrielle that everyone knows you’re one of the child’s parents." Nanya surmised. "What about you Xena? Is it important to you?" The warrior thought about that. Probably it wasn’t as important to her because of her past. People would assume things about the child’s character and tendencies if they knew that Xena the warrior princess was its parent. I’m not ashamed of being the father but it does feel weird explaining it. Okay than warrior prove it right now. Tell this woman who knows more about children than anyone you know that you’re the father. Do it! "Is it important to me? Nana this is one of the most important events in my life. Meeting Gabrielle was the most. I love my other children but this child is something I thought I’d never have. And from the day this child is born it will know who its mother and father are and so will everyone else. Gabrielle is the baby’s mother and thanks to our meddlesome friend Aphrodite I’m the baby’s father. I certainly don’t deserve it but I’d scream it from the rooftops if I thought people really gave a shit." Nanya didn’t seem the least bit shocked but then neither did they’re family or Rena or Taren. Maybe what Lila had said was true. They had done such wild things and lived such amazing lives that nothing that happened to them seemed odd any more. "Xena sounds to me like this child is going to be one very lucky boy or girl." "Thanks Nana. I really do want to go and check on Gabrielle now if you think she’s had enough time." "Go on dear she’s probably feeling pretty silly for saying that stuff and wants to apologize. Just remember she can’t help it." Xena just nodded and headed back for their hut.

After running out of tears the bard was settling down. "Gods what’s wrong with me today?" "Geez Gabs are you okay now? You really went mental on me there." Said the worried goddess. "Sorry Dite I guess I’m just having a bad day or something. Thanks for checking on me. You’re a good friend." "Ah no sweat babe." They were quiet for a bit. "I need to go find Xena and try and make up with her." Suddenly there was a gentle knock on the door. "Oh Dite would you see who that is and send them away. I really don’t feel like talking to anyone right now." "Sure Gabs. No problem." There was another knock on the door a little louder than before. "Hey woodpecker get lost would ya?" Then they heard a familiar voice from the other side. "Aphrodite?" The goddess gave her friend an apologetic look. "Oops. Just a sec we’re not decent." "Aphrodite!" The bard yelled. "Relax she knows what I mean." The goddess went over and opened the door just a scant and peered out to see very worried blue eyes. She opened it a little more and noticed the warrior had a bouquet of flowers in her hand. "Aw Xena you shouldn’t have but thanks." The goddess tried to relieve the warrior of the flowers but Xena pulled them out of her reach. Gabrielle witnessed the exchange and it made her feel much better. Her friend was so silly and Xena face was priceless. "Aphrodite I think they’re for me." The bard told her. The goddess said nothing and went over to her friend and sat next her as Xena entered the room. There was silence as Xena and Gabrielle waited patiently for the goddess of love to get a clue but she just sat there. The bard winked at her warrior and then addressed her friend. "Aphrodite would you excuse us please?" "Huh? Oh sure guys. Catch ya later." Poof she was gone. The couple didn’t speak. Xena was standing near the bed holding the bouquet in her hand and Gabrielle was sitting on the edge of the bed waiting for Xena to present them to her. Finally the bard asked. "Um those were for me weren’t they?" Xena felt like a dim wit and then gave the flowers over to her. "Thanks. They’re beautiful." Another bit of uneasy silence and then they both began to speak at once. Gabrielle just stood and walked into Xena’s out stretched arms. "Xena I’m so sorry.." The warrior stopped her words with a kiss. Then grabbed her hand and lead her to the bed to sit down. "Gabrielle please just listen to what I have to say first. First I want to say I love you." She could see the bard trying to say something but she wanted to try to get this out in the open and make sure that the blonde understood what she was trying to relay. "Please let me get this out before I say something wrong and fuck it up. I didn’t get it at first I mean how important it was to you for me to admit that I’m the father. Honestly I was feeling kinda weird at having to explain it to people. But then I realized something. Thanks to Aphrodite I'm getting to have something with you I never expected. Something I’ve always wanted to give you... I mean come on how many times can someone with a past as bad as mine be blessed? I get you as not only a best friend but as a lover. I get Eve after giving Solan away. I lose you to hatred and lies and get you back in love, understanding and forgiveness. I get forgiveness from my mother and countless others and then if that weren't enough. I get to have a baby with you; the love of my life and it’s my baby and your baby. Ours. If I thought people really gave a damn I’d go from to the ends of the earth showing you two off. I would say Look at this woman would ya. She freaking loves me! She married me! See this baby this is our baby! Hers and mine. It came from us. Our love! She’s mommy and I’m daddy and if you got a problem with that kiss my ass!" The bard was laughing and crying at the same time. She knew that it was hard for Xena to be sentimental with her let alone anyone else. But here she was exclaiming to the world that she was the baby's father in no uncertain terms. It made her heart fill with joy. Whatever doubts she may have had about how Xena felt about her and their child vanished that day along with autumn leaves.

Nine and a half months had now passed and still no baby. The couple had anticipated it to be born near the solstice but that came and went with no birth of any baby. A new year was here and Gabrielle was past ready to deliver her bundle of... joy. The bard and warrior had gotten the girls names down to three and had decided the baby would call Xena Amba, which was mother in Indian. They had everything they needed to be parents now except for one thing a baby. It was late afternoon and the bard had sent Xena out with Taren to do ‘anything’ because the warrior kept following her around expecting her to go into labor at any minute. Having Xena under foot right now was driving her crazy. She felt like some big repulsive blob that was never going to give birth. She hadn’t been able to sleep well for a while now and she just wanted someone to yank this child out of her. I’m going to be pregnant for the rest of my life! Rena had come buy and gotten her mind off of it by catching her up on the amazon gossip and than Aphrodite had pop in to check on the chick that can’t eject. I don’t get you mortal types. I just thought about it and like bam there was my little cupid. Maybe you should start pushing now? The two women and the goddess were just sitting around the queen’s hut having small talk about baby things when Gabrielle had an idea of a mission that Aphrodite would perfect for. "Hey why not do us all a favor and go inside my belly and tell this kid it’s time to come out!" It didn’t take long for the goddess to voice her decision. "EWWWW!" The bard was feeling so frustrated and fat. "Damn it Dite I’m tried of this. Why won’t it come out?" The naughty goddess thought she’d have a little fun with her friend. "Gabs what color was that stuff I gave ya?" "Dite I don’t know. You spiked my wine covertly remember?" "Oh yeah. Well did it taste green?" "What?" "Hey you didn’t give her the stuff you use for animals did ya?" Asked Rena. The bard had a queasy look on her face. Oh Gods if she screwed up like that I could be pregnant for two years or something! Then end up giving birth to a baby elephant! "Um ex-squeeze me,’ the goddess said to the regent, "but this goddess don’t do animals ya dig? Relax Gabby you mortals take longer than nines months something right?" That calmed the expectant mother down enough to go back to her chatter with her friends and continue the wait.

It was ten months now and the bard had resigned herself to the fact that yes she would be pregnant for the rest of her life. Then it happened. Her water broke. It was finally time. Now where was everybody? Xena was out some where with Taren being tossed out again by her bard for being under foot. Now after all this time of preparation she suddenly felt unprepared. That’s it kid, right? I’m here all by myself after waiting on you for ten months and I bet you’re going to squirt right out on the floor right now. She tried to relax because she knew Xena would have made sure one of her royal guards was nearby. She just had to calmly go to the door and tell them to get Xena and Nanya because it was finally time. She opened the door she saw Aminta and Ravati. When they looked up at her they didn’t seemed to expect what she was about to say. When she told them that it was time they almost ran over each other trying to fulfill their duties. Xena had told them she would be at the archery range if anything happened so that’s where Ravati headed off to while Aminta started off for Nanya’s hut. The birthing room had been quite ready since her ninth month so all she had to do was go in and wait. Just what she needed more waiting.

"I don’t know why I let you talk me into to coming down here with you." Stated a flustered Taren. Xena just gave her an ‘I don’t know what you mean’ smirk. "Come on now Taren you hit the bull's-eye three times." The warrior reminded her. "Yes I did. Then your arrows split mine down the middle. I should know by now not to compete with you. You’d think after all these years I’d learn. Hey go on over there and I’ll shoot some at ya so you can practice catching them." Xena made her way over to the target while Taren readied her bow. Xena looked up at the sound of running feet and caught sight of Ravati and knew it was time to head back home. Taren put down her bow and headed off to find Rena. The commander and her second had already had the baby plan figured out and now came the time to execute it.

Aminta was shocked to meet Nanya on the way out of her hut the moment she had arrived as if she had a sixth sense about birthing. They walked silently to the queen’s hut. Aminta felt nervous but the mid wife was calm. The guard followed her inside to make sure the queen was all right before she excused herself back outside to her post at the front door of the cabin. Nanya could sense the bard’s apprehension and began talking to her in a soothing voice. "So dear the time has finally come ah?" "Yes it has." "Where’s Xena?" The midwife asked. "Oh she was out somewhere with Taren. Ravati went to get her." Nanya helped get Gabrielle comfortable asking her the standard questions and knew from her answers that there was still going to be a while yet before there was a baby to care for. Nanya got her hourglass out and told Gabrielle to let her know when her next contraction started so they could start timing them. The older woman had a sense too that this was going to be a long night and just hoped the queen was up for it.

Xena was running so fast that she wasn’t sure if Ravati was keeping up. The warrior was excited, anxious, nauseous and dank. After all this time they were about to have a baby. She knew Gabrielle would be so happy and she would be too. It was going to be great. The warrior blew right passed Aminta and went to the birthing room. There she was the mother of her baby so beautiful and so sweet. This was going to be the greatest day of their lives. She went up to Gabrielle and held out her hand. The bard greeted her with the sweetest smile and the warmest kiss. Nanya filled Xena in on the bard’s progress, which wasn’t much. So they all just tried to get ready for the ‘merriment’ that lay ahead.

It was now about three hours passed mid-day. Three hours since her water broke. She knew she wouldn’t have delivered this soon, one could only hope. Her contractions had started and were still very far apart. She and the warrior had played a few games. Xena tried to do the pantomime game Gabrielle had made up those many years ago and they played the who am I game. Nanya did her needlepoint over in the far corner between the blonde’s contractions. Their friends had begun gathering in the common room of the hut waiting for news. Sati had stationed herself at the front door of the birthing room keeping visitors out as requested by the queen. They were sitting quietly when the love goddess made her entrance. "Okay where’s the little bundle of joie? Come out my little sprout ling auntie Aphrodite’s here." "What are you doing?" Asked the miffed warrior. "Hey I caught the baby vibes so I came to she the little nunchuck. Are you like hiding it our something?" Finally the bard got her attention. "Aphrodite over here." "Gabs. Aw how sweet you waited for me to get here." The goddess turned and looked at the warrior with serenity "Isn’t she like the best friend ever?" Okay Gabby we’re all here so you can go ahead and have the baby now." The goddess waited and wondered what the bard was waiting on. Xena wished she could knock the goddess into next week. The ever patient Gabrielle got her friend to come to the bed. So this is what explaining things to the child will be like. "Aphrodite sit down please. I just went into labor a few hours ago and with mortals it takes us a while. We could be here all night before the baby comes." Just then the bard felt a contraction coming on. The goddess could see her friend was in terrible pain and got very worried about her. "Geez Gabby are you all right. Xena come over here quick she’s in like killer pain." "Calm down Aphrodite it’s just a labor pain." Explained the warrior. "But Xena you didn’t see her face. You gotta help her." The goddess said more franticly. The warrior was shocked and touched at the goddess’ genuine concern for her wife. "She’s all right see." The goddess looked at her friend who seemed fine now. "Why don’t you sit here and talk to her. She won’t have another pain for a while. I need to visit the little warrior’s room." Xena glanced at Gabrielle and said "Sweetheart blondie here is going to keep you company while I visit the outhouse and let everyone out there know how their queen is doing Okay?" She leaned down and gave Gabrielle a brief kiss. "I’ll be right back." Then walked out into the common room to very anxious faces. "Well?" Asked Rena and Taren at the same time. "Nothing yet she hasn’t opened much so it will probably be a while." "How are you doing honey?" Asked the regent. "I’m fine except Aphrodite showed up and you know what that could mean." She looked at her friends a little worried. "I care for her and all but lately every time she shows up we have some kind of catastrophe." "Should I have the troops standing by?" Asked Taren. "Taren this is the goddess of love we’re talking about. It probably wouldn’t help."

Mehadi headed over to the queen’s hut. The sun had set and the dining hall had been bedlam. Everyone had heard the news of their queen going into labor at the mid day meal and now all were talking about how great it was going to be for their queen to have the baby. She and Lindsay had brought some food over that they had prepared shortly after they’d heard the news. Now it was time to sit back with everyone and wait for the new arrival. Once she stepped inside she saw Rena and Cadis, sitting with her lover Taren and Sati’s lover Zeva while Sati was busy guarding the birthing room door. The captain looked like she expected harpies and dryads to swoop down at any moment. The chef found out there had been little change since she last checked in and being a mother of two she knew that the queen could still have many hours to go yet.

Time was passing slowly for the mother to be. Her tolerance level was dropping rapidly. Everyone’s voice was becoming annoying. The contractions were coming more frequently and lasting longer. Her guts felt like they were being pulled apart. She had tried to do some yoga to help her relax but as the evening progressed she was getting to the point were she just wished everyone would shut up and leave her be and let her writhe in her pain and misery. She tried to calm herself again after all this was Xena’s baby too and she was only trying to be loving and helpful. It would be worth the pain because soon they would have a son or daughter to love and raise. She was sure it would be over before she knew it.

Amazons had been in and out of the common room of the queen’s hut. Some of them preferring to check by with those keeping a vigil on the progress of birth of the new amazon princess they hoped. Gabrielle and Xena’s closest friends had been there since the start. Rena was really getting restless and decided to go on in and check on her friend. She got up and went to the birthing room’s door expecting Sati to move aside. The captain stayed still as a statue. "Sati excuse me please." Said the regent. "Sure you may leave we’ll keep you updated if you like." Informed the captain. "No Sati I need to go in and see Gabrielle." Then the regent reached for the doorknob but the captain stepped in front of it. "I’m sorry your highness but the queen gave me direct orders that no one is to enter this room." "Yes I’m sure but she didn’t mean me." "I’m sorry she said no one." The captain said a bit firmer. The regent relented for now and went back and sat next to Cadis. She sighed in frustration and saw Zeva smirking and shaking her head. "You think that’s funny do ya?" The regent asked the blacksmith. "Rena give it up you’ll never get through that door." Cadis said as she joined in the conversation. "Cadis is right." Agreed Taren glad to have something else to occupy her than baby waiting. "I don’t know I might if Zeva helped me." Rena said. At that Zeva looked up and asked. "What do you think I can do? Sati wouldn’t let Zeus himself in that door." "Zeus is dead Zeva." The other women said as a chorus. " Oh yeah. Well you know what I mean. Well I’m tired of sitting I think I‘ll go for a walk. See you all in a bit." Zeva excused herself. Just then the arrival of the healer Reseda and her apprentice Karuna distracted them. Reseda went over to the captain to see if everything was going okay, while Karuna took the seat vacated by Zeva. She was told of the happenings and decided to sit back and wait with the others. "I’m going to get in that door before Gabby delivers." Rena stated with confidence. "Honey I love you more than life itself and I’d back your abilities on almost anything but this. Sati’s too tough. You’ll never do it." The other women declared their agreement with Cadis’ words . Taren got an idea. "Hey why don’t we make a game of it to pass the time? Let’s work together and come up with an idea to get her away from that door." So the group started planning their little game of corrupt the captain.

After racking their brains for awhile they came up with plan A and plan B. They knew plan A would only take a minute or two to see if it would work. Since Taren came up with it she was assigned to carry it out while the others watched and waited. The brunette got up and walked over to stand next to the captain. She began making small talk as to not arouse suspicion. After a bit she lead the captain around to the topic she hoped would get her away from the door. "So have you seen our new design for the crossbows?" "No but I find the ones we have now work quite efficiently." The captain said. "Oh these are will be much better. The arrows will travel further and more on target. Xena has a prototype in their bedroom. Would you like to see it?" "Sure Taren bring it on out and I’ll take a look." The brunette heard faint snickers from across the room. "Oh no I don’t want to bring it out here then everyone will want to play with it." Geez Taren that was so lame! She told herself. It won’t take but a second. What do ya say?" "I’m sorry but I can not leave my post." The captain said. "Oh that’s all right Cadis could come over and watch the door while we’re gone and I know she wouldn’t let anyone in." "No I would never forward my duty on to someone else." Stated Sati. Feeling defeated Taren walked back over and sat down with the group. "I told you that wouldn’t work." Cadis told her. "Why didn’t you tell her the stables were on fire like I told ya?" Rena taunted her. Taren just gave her a shut up look. "Guess it’s on to plan B than." Said Karuna. "I don’t know if Mehadi will help us but I’ll go ask her." Taren got up and headed out to the front porch were her lover was chatting. All I have to say is it’s just a joke honey. It’s just a joke.

Xena looked out the window and saw the moon high in the sky. Of all the trials and tribulations the couple had been through this day seemed to the longest day she could remember. Gabrielle had been in good spirits most of the day but now was getting crankier by the second. It had started with just facial gestures that showed her losing patience and then the bard had made a snide comment here and there. Now the loving face of her soulmate was turning into a scowl the likes she’d never seen before. Then the warrior made a big mistake. "How ya doing honey?" She asked the young woman. "How am I doing? HOW AM I DOING! Xena let me tell you how I’m doing. I have been carrying around your baby for almost a damn year and then finally I start to think that I’m getting it out of me but no, I just come in here and wait and wait and wait after I’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting. I’m having my guts ripped apart and you people tell me to do yoga, get up and walk around, play stupid damn games and for what this damn baby’s never coming out anyway!" The bard was now crying and Xena was at a loss as to what to do. Then the bard got sight of Aphrodite. "And YOU! I guess you thought you were being funny when you deiced to give me that damn stuff!" "Gabs exnay on the elixir nay." Mumbled the goddess. "Oh shut up! I can’t stand it anymore! Nana, Nana!" The bard yelled for the mid wife. "Yes honey what is it?" "I don’t want to have a baby anymore. I don’t know what I was thinking. Please make it stop and get those two away from me please!" "Xena you better knock her out before she loses it completely." Said the goddess. Now Xena was starting to lose it. "You know it’s all your goddamn fault! I told you she didn’t want to have a baby you nutty bitch but noooo you had to throw your two dinars in. You’re always sticking your fucking immortal nose in our business!" Now the Goddess was pissed. "My Fault? How is this shit my fault? You’re the one who couldn’t keep your growdy hands off of her! You’re the one who came crying to me ‘ Oh help me Aphrodite! help me! I don’t know what to get her for a present! oh I love her more the every wave in the ocean! she’s everything to me...’ " "QUIET!" Yelled Nanya " Xena get over here." Most people would have had their skulls split open for talking to the warrior like that. "You too miss love goddess." She could have turned the older women into a memory but both women did as they were told. "Gabrielle dear calm down please. I know this is very hard and you probably want to slap me across the room too but they’re only here because they love you and want to help but if you really want them to leave then they’re out of here. You’re the one giving birth and what you say goes. Okay?" Nanya said. Did she really want them to go? No. She just wanted the pain to stop. "Gabrielle," Xena said so gently "we’ll do whatever makes you feel better. Right Aphrodite?" "Absolutely sweet pea." The goddess said smiling at to the blonde. While they were waiting for the bard to answer another contraction took hold. Xena held her right hand and Aphrodite held her left. She took deep breaths trying to ride out the pain. After the pain passed she grabbed Xena and held her tight. "Could you massage my back honey, it really hurts?" The warrior kissed the younger woman on the head. "Sure anything for you." Than she reached over and hug the goddess and asked. "Could you make some soft music play maybe a lyre and a harp?" The Goddess smile at her dear friend. "Sure gabs one harp and one lyre coming right up." The goddess snapped her fingers and soft music began to play. By now Xena had the bard lying on her side and started massing her lower back. Nanya decided to wait and check her after her next contraction and went back to her needlepoint.

The moon was starting it’s slow descent towards the horizon. Those who had diligently waited since the queen’s labor began yesterday were getting restless. The amazon nation love their queen but enough already. Taren had gotten Mehadi to reluctantly agree to make the cakes they needed for the little joke they were going to play on the captain. Karuna was going to supply the herb needed to pull it off. "We have an herb." She told them "that we use to help people when they suffer incontinence." They all agreed it would be hilarious to see the captain sprint to the outhouse. Maybe it might seem a bit on the malicious side but it was all meant in fun. Besides they were getting punching going so long without sleep. Mehadi had two cakes ready to be baked, Taren had asked her to make them one so as not to arouse the captain’s hackles, but really she was just hungry. Karuna entered the dining hall with the herb in hand. Taren told her to pick one to put the herb in and then the other they would take to the others to eat. While Karuna was spiking one of the cakes Mehadi had second thoughts about being a part of this scheme. She told her partner that she was worn-out and was getting their kids and going home to bed. So she told Karuna to whisper to Taren which one she had put the herb in so as to keep her out of this in case it blew up in their faces. The black haired woman leaned close and said. "I’ve put it in the one on the clay plate." Taren nodded her understanding as they watched the chef place the two cakes into the oven. Mehadi knowing this type of cake wouldn’t take long put the hourglass on the prep table and told her culinary challenged wife to take them out when the sand ran out. She knew she was still taking a chance with either ruined cakes or a burnt down dining hall but she was just too tired so she decided to take a chance. "Hey what if Gabrielle delivers while you're asleep?" Asked Taren. "Then I’ll see the baby later. It’s not like it’s going to be able to crawl away for a while honey so I’ll be fine. Goodnight." The chef gave her lover a quick kiss, said goodbye to Karuna and went home.

Zeva was on her way back to the queen’s hut. She had left for a bit to rest and get a little something to eat. She knew Sati was probably starving by now but also knew she would never leave her post. They had gotten into it on different occasions when Zeva would remind her that though she was Captain of the royal guard that she wasn’t the only guard. There were four other very capable women who could take her place even if it was for just a second but the captain would have none of it. So now she just let Sati do it her way. Once the blacksmith reached the clearing she saw women milling about outside talking and laughing and could tell by their demure that the queen still had not delivered. Poor Gabrielle she’s probably ready to end it all. She thought and tried to send the queen a comforting message thought the air. Hang in their sweetie it will be worth it all the first time you see your baby’s face and hold them in your arms. She walked up the steps and entered the front door of the hut. As she glance around there hadn’t been much change in the folks waiting for news. Sati was at her post in front of the birthing room door, Rena and Cadis were in the same spot on the couch and Lindsay and Seda were still cuddled up asleep on the floor in the corner adjacent to the couch. The chair she had been sitting in next to the couch was still vacant so after talking briefly with Sati who gave her the latest update she went back and reclaimed her spot. From what Sati had told her Nanya said we should have a baby in few more hours which gave the group a new topic of conversation. Will it be an amazon princess and what a glorious thing that would be.

Taren and Karuna had had a very pleasant conversation waiting for the cakes to cook. They had talked mostly about what everyone else was talking about the queen, her consort and their child to be. It had brought back memories for the brunette about when Mehadi had been in labor with their first child Valari. She told the younger woman how terrified she had been the whole time and that no matter what facade Xena was wearing that she knew she was a wreak too. Then the two talked about the little joke they were planning on the unsuspecting captain and started laughing at the possibilities of an outcome which all seem hilarious. Taren could see the by the last little bit of sand in the hourglass that it was almost time to take the cakes out. "Hey Taren what if the queen has given birth and the captain is gone?" "Believe me if Gabrielle had given birth this place would be bedlam. These women go nuts when new shit happens. Somebody would be shooting off flaming arrows and running around naked or something. Come on let’s get the cakes and get back I’m ready to see Sati fly out the door toward the outhouse."

Nanya loved children especially babies. Even the most harden warrior in this place would usually smile when they saw a baby. It was nature’s way of reminding us what was really important in life. She and some of the other elders would talk sometimes about how life was just a loop. The women they had known as youngsters now walking around carrying youngsters of their own. Thinking back remembering a very young Taren saying all she cared about was being the best warrior in the whole nation and that a wife and family would never be for her. Than having a memory just last year of her holding little Ericka in her arms while her other daughter who had just turned three was asking her all kinds of questions about her new sister. Yes there was no doubt that Taren was a very fierce warrior just like the dark haired woman who was nervously pacing in the room with her now. But the love and kindness these women had for their families was quite evident. Now was the time to get this group together and get this mother to be to finally become mother and child. She gathered up Xena and the goddess and began her instructions of the next and final phase of the birthing. Xena had been trying to get Aphrodite to go in the other room or to pop back after the birth. But the goddess said she’d be fine and wouldn't leave her friend. Xena tried to tell her that this would be the grosses thing she’d ever seen and that Gabrielle was just going to get crankier and crankier but nothing worked so she just resigned herself to picking her up off the floor after she passed out from the shock. Nanya took Aphrodite aside and told her to just be supportive and talk to Gabrielle in a soothing calm voice. She showed how she wanted her to encourage her breathing and most importantly to duck if the bard started throwing things her way. The goddess seemed a bit concerned but went over to her post at Gabrielle’s side. Now to get Xena ready for this. She told herself. "Okay Xena this is it. Listen carefully. Now I know you’ve been through some tough things in your life. You’ve beaten the most formidable foes and you have even given birth yourself. There is nothing in this world that is going to prepared you for what’s about to happen. You understand the pain but don’t patronize her about it. You need to tell yourself that no matter how much pain you experienced during childbirth your wife’s pain will be much greater. If you say things like ‘I know what you’re going through’ or ‘ha that’s nothing when I was in labor..’ or ‘soon you won’t remember what it really felt like’ she’ll rip your head off and kick it out the window. Just follow her lead honey if she wants you to be all lovey and gooey then you do it. If she wants to speak only when spoken to you do that. If she starts hitting on you and cursing you don’t you do it back to her." Poor Xena looked like this was her first battle and someone had taken away her sword. Nanya wasn’t trying to frighten her but she had seen from experience that as much as Gabrielle was in love with Xena this was childbirth she going through and the warrior was going need ever ounce of strength and encouragement she could give her. The mid wife also knew that even though Gabrielle felt as if she was never going to give birth that in fact she was and very soon too. Nature was going to take it course no matter what they did. Her real job in all this was to make sure there weren’t any complications and to keep mother, ‘father’ and bystander from freaking out. "All right then Xena are you ready?" The mid wife had to hold back a laugh when she heard Xena asked in an uncharacteristic tiny voice. Yes?" "Come on you’re ready. It’s time for you to meet your son or daughter. Oh one more thing. No matter what awful thing Gabrielle says to you or calls you just keep saying this to yourself: She loves me she’s just in pain. Say it with me now. She loves me she’s just in pain." Then off they went to deliver a baby.

The group of friends had stopped their chatter for a bit. What a long day this had been. Cadis hoped she’d be alert enough to enjoy their little joke. Then a stray unrelated thought crept into her weary mind. Had Sati been there the whole time? No not possible but she hadn’t seen her move since mid day yesterday. Surely the captain couldn’t go that long without... True Sati was a strange bird but no one could.. For some silly reason, maybe her being up so long, those thought just intrigue her so. Someone must have seen her go to relieve herself she must have just missed it. Having some vague reason she had to know so she leaned over and asked Rena. "Have you seen Sati leave that spot?" Her partner who was exhausted too wasn’t sure what she was asking. "What?" She asked her. "We’ve been here since right after mid-day and shortly after we got here Sati began her statuesque posing. We’ve gotten up and went to the outhouse but what about her. I haven’t seen her move from that spot. Have you?" The red head thought about the question. "No I can’t say that I have but then I really haven’t been paying that much attention to her in any case. Anyhow why do you care?" "Come on Re, it’s not possible for someone to go that long without.. going." "I don’t know hon this is Sati you’re talking about." Then the regent lowered her voice and whispered. "Maybe she’s made her self-special under garments for just a situation like this." The couple hadn’t realized that Sati’s lover Zeva had heard every word they said. She wasn’t angry though she knew her partner was quirky. She usually found it amusing and only slightly irritating. She decided to tell the captain’s secret. "She’s learned using Asian mediation techniques to suppress the urge." Zeva went back to the scroll she was reading as though she’d never said a word. Rena and Cadis looked up like they’d been caught stealing. Then Zeva spoke again. "Although the special under garment thing might make it a little easier on her I think I’ll mention it to her."

Taren and Karuna each were carrying one of the cakes, which smelled scrumptious. Karuna assured the brunette that the captain wouldn’t be able to tell her cake was spiked so they expected that after being in one spot for almost a full day she would eat the whole thing. They were passed the clearing that lead to the queen’s hut and were approaching the steps to the porch when Karuna heard someone call out her name. Taren snickered and Karuna felt her heart sink as the realization of who the voice belonged to registered in her mind. "Sindera." The apprentice healer said trying to sound pleased. Karuna wasn’t interested in a romance right now she was only interested in learning her craft. Besides if she wanted to get involved she wasn’t interested in Sindera. She was pretty sure she didn’t feel that way toward females but in a society of just women it was bound to happened that even if you showed no interest toward someone they still might get enamored with you. This was one of those cases. If that wasn’t bad enough the young blonde women could talk endlessly. So anytime you ran into Sindera you would be there a very long time. Taren was aware of that an excused herself to get inside while she left Karuna with her admirer. When she walked in Sati was still where she knew she’d be. The brunette walked up to the table now carrying both cakes and sat them on the table in front of the couch. She replay what Karuna had whispered to her telling her which cake she had put the herb in. "I’ve put it in the one on the gray plate." The plate actually looked silver to her but whatever. So she picked up that plate and winked at her friends who drove into the other cake on the brown plate. Taren walked up to Sati and could see the hunger on her face. The captain thanked her and said something about how she shouldn’t eat while she was on duty but started to eat the dessert anyway. Taren feeling quite pleased walked back over to her friends on the couch. She also didn’t know how long it would take for the herb to hit it’s victim so she wanted be out of the captain's path in case it was instantaneous. As she settled herself on the couch next to Cadis she reached out and grab a piece of cake. It was one of her favorites after all. "Where’s Mehadi?" Asked the wrangler. "Tired." Taren responded. "And Karuna?" "Sindera." "Aw. Zeva you want a piece of cake?" Zeva had fallen asleep. So Cadis felt comfortable asking. "So how long will it take?" She asked the young warrior. "I’m not sure. Just sit back and enjoy the ride."

Nanya went up to talk to Gabrielle while Xena and Aphrodite took their positions. "Okay sweetie it’s almost time for you to start pushing. I know it’s been a very long day but you’re doing great. I’m going to be in front of you waiting on the baby and Xena and Aphrodite are going to be right here to help you with whatever you need. Now Xena’s going to relay my instructions and Aphrodite you have a cool rag ready to wipe the sweat off her face. All right let’s do it." As each contraction came Gabrielle would push until it subsided. "Hey you squeeze my hand as hard as you need to okay." Xena told her love as she cradled the bard’s right hand in both of hers. Than the goddess looked over to her weary friend. "Gabs I know you don’t like it when I use my magic but I hate to see you in so much pain. Isn’t there something I do to make it go away for you cos I’ll do it. You just ask." Than another contraction hit before she could answer her friend. So she put her answer a side and concentrated on pushing. After resting a second she gave the goddess her answer. "Aphrodite you’ve done enough. Wait I didn’t mean that the way it sounded. Just hold my hand and help me get through this and baby sit once in a while okay?" "Sure Gabs." The goddess’ face with cover with a brilliant smile as another contraction came. So the bard would push, push, push and then rest after the pushing. The whole thing sort of reminded her of being on a boat on the ocean. She hated boats. She wasn’t crazy about this either. She just hoped she’d have enough energy to finish this. "All right Gabrielle we’re going to need just a couple of more pushes from you so when the next pain hits you give it all you got." Nanya said encouragingly. "Xena if I ever say to you that I want to have another baby just slap me." Gabrielle said with exhaustion. Then she felt the contraction start. She didn’t know if she would be able to push anymore. Nothing had ever taken this much out of her. Hope’s birth was so quick. This was to torture. You’d better worship me kid! She thought. Time to rest again. She could feel Nanya’s hands probing around then the mid wife said. "One more push honey that’s all we need." She could feel the contraction start and was ready to give a big push. "I see the head. Stop pushing." "Push, push, push. Now you want me to stop? Make up you’re damn mind will ya." The bard screamed with sarcasm. Nanya who’d delivered many babies and had heard this all before just ignored her comment. "Okay here comes the head" FINALLY! Everyone thought. "The head’s out. Now honey I need you to push one more time." The mid-wife informed. "Wait just a gods damn minute you just said that the last push I gave was the last one! I tell you what I can’t take this anymore! I’ll just walk around with its head hanging out. How about that? I’ll never be able to sit down but at least I won’t have to push any fucking more!!!" "Gabrielle." Xena tried to calm her down. "Hey don’t you Gabrielle me! Xena I can’t. I’m exhausted. Really just let the head hang out. I’ll push in a few hours after I rest." "Come on." The warrior said as she lifted up the bard’s body. "You can do it. I believe in you. You can do it." The warrior coax "All right but this better be the last one really now I mean it!" Gabrielle gave it all she had which by now was very little and then she heard a cry. A baby cry. "I did it." She said looking at Xena and then looking to her side where Aphrodite was suppose to be. She couldn’t believe her friend was gone after staying all this time. Than as she glance over the side of the bed she saw the goddess sprawled out on the floor obviously passed out from watching the baby squirt out covered in blood and other body fluids. "It’s a girl." Nanya announced. The mid-wife wiped the baby off a bit and then handed her to her mother. The warrior was speechless just looking at her daughter. "Xena we have a daughter. Isn’t she beautiful?" "Oh honey she’s breath taking just like you." The warrior leaned down and gave her wife a small hug and a light kiss. Nanya came up to check out her handy work. "Well now this is the little one who wanted to live inside her mommy forever. Glad to meet you finally." The bard was feeling bad for cursing at Nanya. "Nana I’m so sorry I.." "Gabrielle I’ve heard it all honey. Relax. Don’t worry about it. Enjoy yourself for a bit before the afterbirth comes." Oh yeah the really gross looking part. Thought the new mother. "Hey I better go tell everyone out there you’re okay. What should we do about her?" The warrior asked referring to the down for the count goddess. "Well she can’t die since she’s immortal so I guess she’ll come around in a bit." The couple kissed again with it lasting a few beats longer than Xena had expected. "Hey weren't you the one who threaten to never let me touch you again?" The warrior teased. "No that was some evil blonde woman with a watermelon coming out of her..." "Hey like wipe out. What happened?" Asked the groggy goddess. "Where’s the baby? Did it finally come out?" Gabrielle held up her daughter for the goddess to see. EW! Damn mortal babies look like pruney trolls! "Is it okay? I mean it’s all red and wrinkly looking." "Yes she’s fine." Assured the bard. "Killer it’s a chick. That’s way cool Gabs way to go. Oh and nice job there tall, dark and studley." Xena gave the goddess her patented go to hell look, the goddess gave her a silly giggle and with that exchange and her baby cuddled safely in her arms Gabrielle knew today was going to be a glorious day.

Xena’s heart was overjoyed. The one thing she never thought would happen just happened. She and Gabrielle had produced a baby. For all the times the goddess of love had made a mess of things, this time she did all right. Thank you, you nutty ass broad. She was the happiest for Gabrielle. She knew that no matter how evil Hope had been that Gabrielle still felt, as her mother, responsible for the things she’d done. The young mother had done all she could do against her malevolent offspring to stop her destruction. Xena had finally understood her love’s agony about having to kill her own daughter when she had been faced with the crimes of Eve. Realizing that even though what Eve had done was horrible the fact still remained that this was her daughter, her flesh and blood and facing the fact that she might have to kill her to stop her was the biggest weight she’d ever had on her shoulders. She got lucky and Eve was able to turn things around. Gabrielle had not been so lucky. Now she was. She came out of her thoughts and opened the door to an empty common room. Empty except for Sati still standing guard. She was surprised their friends who had stayed so long waiting for the birth had all gone home now. "Xena what news? I heard a baby crying did I not?" The captain asked. "Oh yeah you did Sati. It’s a girl and mother and daughter and father," she said pointing a thumb at herself. "are doing just fine. Hey where is everybody? They get tired of waiting?" Sati gave the warrior a very concerned look and told her, "It was the strangest thing. Everyone was just sitting in here talking quietly and then all of a sudden they all ran outside in droves. Since I couldn’t leave my post Zeva went after them to see what happened but she hasn’t come back yet." "Hum that is strange." The warrior agreed. Xena was about to go outside and investigate when Sati asked her another question. "Do you think you could check with her majesty to see if she requires me any longer?" Oh yeah you have been standing in one spot for an eternity. Xena thought about whether or not she should follow protocol which meant stepping back in the room and then having the captain go up to the queen and yada, yada but she decided Aw screw it. So she just opened the door and yelled to the blonde. "Hey Gabrielle can Sati leave now?" "Aw sure." Gabrielle screamed back. Sati didn’t move but had a look like she needed just a little bit more from her queen. Xena stuck her head in the door and made a gesture with her head, which Gabrielle understood. "Um Sati?" "Yes my queen?" "You’re dismissed." "Thank you my queen." With Gabrielle's words the captain walked stiffly but quickly to the front door. "Hey Sati don’t you what to come in and see the baby?" Asked the warrior. The captain turned slowly to face Xena. "I have a couple of things I need to attend to first." She stated. "Oh really?" The warrior asked trying to sound disappointed. "Are they urgent?" Asked the warrior. "Very." Stated the captain. Sati put her hand on the doorknob. "So you have some business you need to attend to immediately then?" Xena asked again. Sati was starting to look annoyed so Xena decided to stop toying with her. "Yes I would say that it is imperative that I leave right away." The captain said through gritted teeth. "Well you better hurry then. See you later." With that the captain was a dignified blur. The warrior just laughed to herself and headed out the door in search of their friends.

Xena walked outside and felt the chill of the wind and saw a slight dusting of snow on the ground. The sun was sparkling through the trees. She did find it odd that she saw no one. Yes it was cold out here but why did their friends who had been at their home since yesterday waiting for Gabrielle to have the baby just leave before they knew. She was feeling concerned so she decided to just keep walking until she saw someone and than take it from there. She was almost to the tree line when she was assaulted by the most horrendous smell she could ever remember. Then see began to hear voices and moans and groans. She could also hear the distinct sound of flatulence. She was mystified and just hoped this mass sickness wasn’t contagious because then no one could see the baby. Suddenly she heard two voices she recognized arguing. "I said the clay plate you deaf whore!" Karuna yelled out. "You said no such thing! You said gray! How was I supposed to know the fucking thing was clay?" Taren yelled back at her and than moaned in sickness. "Did you play with yourself during pottery class? Why would I call a tin plate gray! It’s silver you dumb-ass!" Karuna countered. "Oh just leave me alone you shit head you said gray! Gray! Gray!! GRAY!"

Eve had started toward amazon land wondering why her mother and Gabrielle hadn’t sent word about the baby’s birth. She was afraid when she arrived she’d find out something happened to the baby. God I hope not poor Gabrielle doesn’t deserve that. She had prayed to the god of Eli for the baby’s and her other mother’s health. Once her business in Rome was finished she decided to head for amazon territory that way if they sent a messenger for her she would already be headed that way. It was taking her awhile to make progress with the cold weather. The snow wasn’t too deep to stop her from her walking but she would only be able to walk the morning and mid-day once the sun started setting it was just to cold to travel. She tried not to let herself worry she was going to have positive thoughts and send them on to her mother and Gabrielle. At last she had reached the beginning of amazon territory. The Sentries came to meet her but didn’t recognize her as Xena’s daughter. She informed them of who she was and took the offered escort but didn’t want to be announced so she could surprise her mothers. The Sentry who was taking her to the queen’s hut told her that the queen had delivered her baby a little over a month ago. She told her about the long pregnancy and the long labor that the queen had endured. She told her mother, baby and Amba, which was what they wanted the baby to call Xena, were doing just fine. Eve asked her not to reveal the baby’s sex because she wanted to be surprised. It had been quite a walk to the queen’s quarters. It was early enough in the day she hoped both of her parents would be there. The Sentry said her farewells to the young woman and went back to her post. Eve than gathered herself and knocked on the door. She heard boot steps headed for the door, which she guessed as her mother’s. As the door opened she saw the shocked but happy look on her mother’s face. They embraced and Eve told her she hadn’t heard anything and so she just headed they’re way. Xena told her oldest daughter she was happy to see her and than she took her by the hand and said. "Why don’t you come on in and meet your sister." Once they passed the threshold Eve caught sight of Gabrielle sitting in a rocking chair holding the baby. Gabrielle smiled at her as she looked up from nursing. "Eve what a surprise." The three of them chatted briefly and than Gabrielle handed the small bundle to Xena who showed Eve a very sleepy little face. "Eve I want you to meet someone very special. This is Sagira. Sagira this is also someone very special. This is your sister Eve. I hope you two will become great friends as well." Than Xena handed the baby over to Eve and let her hold her. Everything was right with the world well at least for the amazon nation. A very small bundle named Sagira was making a couple whom would love each other for eternity feel a peace they never thought possible. While a certain goddess looked down from her home on Mt. Olympus and watched her two dearest friends take care of her ‘little one’ she knew that she had done the right thing. "Hey spreading love and shit is my gig you dig? So why don’t you suckers who think love is a crock get a clue will ya! That’s what makes this orb spin. Gotta fly I’m meeting Holkos and Epipedos for a nightcap. Guess whose the nightcap? Later."

The End


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