Eyes Of The Past
COPYRIGHT HELD BY TALEWEAVER
They had been fighting Katy's ex-husband for three months now and were no closer to their goal. Francis was getting frustrated and Katy was beginning to wonder if there was any hope of getting R.J back. Francis had tried every legal angle she could think of, and they had even hired a private investigator to observe and record how R.J was treated; but found no advantage there. From a legal standpoint, it was Katy's word against her ex-husband's that he had kidnapped R.J, and he had an army of witnesses willing to testify that Katy had abandoned them. While there was a case building, it was not in Katy's favor. Francis turned away from her computer and sighed heavily. She ran her hands through her hair and wondered how she would tell the love of her life that they probably wouldn't win this battle. While she cradled her forehead with her hands, Francis searched her legal knowledge for some loophole she'd missed. When she came up with nothing she hadn't already tried, she went to the shelf of legal books. After an hour of looking, she was beginning to think this one battle might be lost before they'd fully started. When Katy arrived at the office, she found a very dejected Francis sitting on the floor surrounded by legal tomes.
"Hi! Why...are you...sitting on the floor?"
Francis looked up, then started closing the books. She wasn't ready to share the seemingly inevitable defeat yet.
"Hi! My butt was getting numb from the chair so I sat down here. I used to study on the floor when I had tests to write; I thought better there, so I thought I'd try it again."
Katy held out a hand and helped Francis to her feet.
"You look exhausted, babe. I know there's no point in telling you not to work so hard, but I still wish you would at least pace yourself."
"The life of a lawyer." Francis shrugged.
"Especially a dedicated, talented one. These people are lucky to have you on their side."
"Well, that remains to be seen. Right now I just want to curl up in your arms and sleep for the next two days."
Francis got fourteen hours of blissfull, undisturbed sleep until the cordless telephone warbled insistently.
"Mmph...?" Francis grunted into the phone.
"Ms. Brennan? This is Detective Gabriel. I'd like you to bring Katy down to my office down at the precinct."
"Why? What's going on?" She was wide awake now and already getting out of bed.
"It seems she'll be getting custody of her son after all. I can't say more over the phone."
"Of course. We'll be there as soon as possible."
Once the connection had been severed, Francis shook Katy's shoulder.
"Katy, get up."
"Unn ungh. Not ready..."
Rooting in the closet for a clean pair of jeans Francis looked over her shoulder momentarily.
"You will if you want your son."
Twenty minutes later they were sitting at Detective Gabriel's desk, waiting for him to explain.
"Miss Connor, first of all I feel I should tell you that you are not getting custody because Dave has given it up. The only reason you are getting your son is because Dave is dead."
"Lack of blood."
"Excuse me?" It was Francis' turn to be confused.
"Acoording to the coroner, there was no blood in his brain. He said it was as though someone had managed to shut it off."
"Shut it off......"
"Horrible way to die." Francis nudged Katy with her knee. Katy caught the warning and said no more about it.
"So if you'll just sign the forms here, here, and here; I'll release R.J into your custody."
With the forms signed, witnessed, dated and stamped all that remained was to unite mother and son. When the Detective left to get R.J, Francis took Katy's hand under the lip of the desk.
When R.J came through the door of an adjoining office Katy's eyes flooded with tears. He was the image of his father with a head full of black curls, a dark complexion and stunning blue eyes. Detective Gabriel kneeled down to R.J's line of sight and put a hand on the little boy's shoulder.
"R.J, this is your mommy. You're going to go with her for a little while."
"But I want my daddy...where is he?"
The little boy's plea broke everyone's heart.
"He had to go away for a little while honey, but I'll take care of you. Would that be okay?" Katy tried to sound friendly, but she was as nervous as a virgin on a first date.
R.J looked up at this blond lady he didn't know and watched her. She semed a little scared of something. He walked over and put his hand on her knee.
"Are you 'fraid?"
"A little. Are you?"
He nodded seriously. "My daddy holds my hand when I'm scared. I'll hold yours." And he held out his hand. When she had taken it, R.J looked up and said,
"The policeman told me I was gonna have a 'venture. I'm ready now."
R.J fell asleep in the car with two of his favorite stuffed animals beside him and bags of belongings in the trunk. On the way home Katy said very little. Francis re-adjusted her mirror so she could see R.J as well as out the rear window. For what seemed to be the twentyth time, she glanced over at the silent figure in the passenger seat.
Finally, she could stand the silence no longer.
"K? You want to talk about it?"
Katy sighed and leaned back against the headrest.
"I'm sure this was Xena's doing, but I don't know which I feel more right now; sadness or gratitude."
"Apparently Dave was good to R.J at least. It's hard watching him pine for his father. I don't know which of the three of us is going to have the most adjusting to do."
That night after R.J had brushed his teeth, Katy had read him a story and Francis had read another; the two women retired to the den to talk after he had fallen asleep.
"He looks a lot like his father's pictures, Katy."
"Bears a striking resemblance to a certain lawyer I know, who looks a lot like a certain warrior..."
"Who did what she could to help." Came a voice from the doorway.
Katy and Francis both spun on their heels to see who'd spoken. In front of a closed door stood Xena and Gabrielle.
"For a psychic, you're kinda slow sometimes." Xena grinned.
"Am I glad to see you two!" Katy rushed toward them.
"We understand congratulations are in order." Gabrielle smiled and hugged a very surprised Katy.
"Don't look so surprised, just because I've been gone awhile doesn't mean I can't hug. You are right about one thing. He does look a lot like two special people..."Gabrielle grinned at Francis and put an arm around Xena's waist.
"About his father Katy..." Xena reached out and put a hand on Katy's shoulder. "This wasn't fated. Dave would have died in the same 24 hour period, but he was supposed to die in a drive by shooting. Your son would have been with him..." Xena's voice trailed off.
"Would R.J have...?"
Xena only nodded. After a minute she explained. "This was our gift to you. You have your son back and you..." She turned to look at Francis, "...You have a ready made family. Watch over them carefully and make me proud."
"You're leaving?" Francis asked.
Xena nodded. "For awhile. We'll be back from time to time to see how our family is doing. Take care of each other...." As her words faded, so too did the spirits of the warrior and the bard.
On his tenth birthday R.J knew what day it was before opening his eyes. To say he was excited was an understatement. His mothers always spoiled him a little on his birthday, and he had a feeling that something special was going to happen today. He dressed in a hurry, completely mis-matching his socks and nearly putting his shirt on inside out. Without a backward glance he dashed from his bedroom, down the hall and stopped at the top of the stairs. He could hear Francis' favorite music coming from the kitchen and he grinned, knowing that she was making his favorite breakfast. She liked to sing while she cooked and the sounds and smells coming from the kitchen widened R.J's smile. When he walked into the kitchen he was surprised to see both his mothers cooking. Well, dancing actually, and laughing like little kids.
"Good morning birthday boy!" Francis picked up R.J and swung him in a big circle, then danced him over to the table. "Pancakes, blueberries, strawberries and chocolate milk?" R.J could hardly believe his eyes.
Hope you're hungry little man." Katy looked down and ruffled his dark hair. Then she leaned down and kissed the top of his head. "Francis would you get the music please?"
Francis nodded and turned off the stereo. The three of them sat at the table and held hands. Katy cleared her throat.
"Goddess, we are thankful for our many blessings. Thank you for allowing the three of us to be together, thank you for bestowing us with peace and love and thank you for Xena and Gabrielle."
R.J picked up his fork and began to eat. Then he had a thought.
"Mom, who's Xena and Gabrielle?"
Katy smiled and gestured with a pancake-laden fork. "That's Xena and Gabrielle, son."
R.J looked at the two women standing at the opposite end of the table.
"We're family R.J," Gabrielle smiled and walked toward him. "We've been watching you grow for a long time. You've made us very proud."
Xena walked down the length of the table, watching his reaction.
R.J asked, "Are you angels?"
Xena smiled just a little.
"Kinda, but we're family too. You're not afraid of us are you?" R.J shook his head. "Good, 'cause we don't want you to be afraid. We brought you something for your birthday."
Gabrielle kneeled down and handed him a tube, which he took carefully.
"This is something that I wrote a very, very long time ago. We didn't have paper like you do, we had rolls of parchment. This one has been coated with oil so it won't rot. You have to promise to take good care of it."
"I promise. What's it about?"
"It's a story about the time that Xena and I went to India and found out about reincarnation. It's in a language you probably won't understand..."
"It'll be good inspiration to study that new set of encyclopedias we bought you R.J." Francis inclined her head toward the boy that looked so much like her and then offered her chair to Xena.
R.J looked back to the ageless bard, who had by this time, accepted the offer of Katy's chair.
"Do you think I could learn how to read it?"
Gabrielle smiled at her young descendant. "Only if you study hard and stay in school." Then her demeanor became serious. "I will be checking in on you from time to time."
"If I do good in school do you think I could be a writer like you?"
"From what I understand, you already are."
R.J was slightly embarrassed. "Aw...those stories aren't much..."
"Don't underestimate yourself R.J. We all have to start somewhere."
"I also brought you something for your birthday R.J." Xena reached between her breastplate and her leathers and removed a small dagger.
Katy opened her mouth to say something, but Xena spoke first.
"I understand you've made a reputation for yourself at school, something about standing up to a bully who had been scaring the little kids."
R.J nodded, red-faced, and then glanced over at Francis and Katy. They both had surprised expressions.
"Sounds to me like you're carrying on the family traditions quite well. You know your mother is a writer now and Francis fights her battles in the courtroom; a bard and a warrior for the new age. It seems to me that you're already becoming both. So I'm giving you my dagger to remind you that a true warrior never abuses power. We don't bully people, we defend them."
"Does that mean I'm a..."
"Warrior. And as such, I'm giving this to you. You've earned it. Take care of it properly. Francis can show you how to oil it and keep it safe. It's very old." Xena looked up at the clock and then back to R.J. "It's also time you were getting ready for school, don't you think?"
R.J blinked and nodded. As he left the table, he stopped and looked solemnly at the two women he realised were more than just angels.
"Thank you, I won't forget..."
"Go get ready for school sport. Your Mom and I have to talk to Xena and Gabrielle." Francis' tone was gentle but left no room for argument.
When he was beyond overhearing Katy turned toward the two ancient souls.
"Are you sure he's ready for those? They're antiques..."
"Trust us...he's more than ready. He's pretty mature for ten, Katy." Gabrielle smiled. "You and Francis are doing a good job."
"He's destined for wonderful things, so don't worry." Xena rose from the chair. "We have to go, stay true to each other."
Katy and Francis beamed at each other. They were more in love than they had been eight years ago. When they looked back towards the table, their anscestors were gone.
"They never stay long enough..."
"Ladies and Gentlemen, I'd like to introduce you to Sunrise Publishing House's newest and youngest author; R.J Roberts!"
R.J stepped up to the microphone and adjusted his tie. Katy smiled up at her son. He looked so mature in the black suit and silver tie; Francis had picked well. At sixteen, R.J looked so much like his warrior ancestor that it was hard to remember that his looks came from his father and not the famous fighter. R.J looked down from the podium at his mothers and smiled.
"I'm not sure how speeches like this are supposed to go, so I'm just going to forge ahead. First of all, I'd like to thank the two most important people in my life..." He smiled as he watched their faces light up. They were getting on in years, but he'd been witness to an ever-growing bond of love over the years. "Without them I would be nothing. I would also like to thank all those who said I couldn't do this. They allowed me to prove them wrong." He spotted two familiar figures standing off to the side that he hadn't seen in a long time. "I'd also like to thank Xena and Gabrielle." They stood unseen by all but three people, but they had pride written all over them. "Without my ancestors I don't think I would have been inspired to learn the Greek language. They taught me honor, respect and the true meaning of what it means to live the life of the warrior." With these final words, he pulled the cover off a large placard that reproduced the cover of his book. There was a photo of a coastline overlaid with a photo of Gabrielle's staff laced through one side of Xena's chakram. Above this were the words 'Adventures With A Warrior'
"Without Gabrielle's scrolls I would never have been able to write this book, and without the hardest work already having been done by two other ancestors of mine, Janice and Melinda, I would never have been able to translate the scrolls. So I dedicate this, hopefully the first of many books, to the discovery of roots and family trees. Thank you."
R.J smiled down at Katy and Francis, then looked toward Xena and Gabrielle. They smiled back proudly. Xena inclined her head and they faded from sight.
R.j whooped and hollered as he hung up the telephone.
"Mom! Francis! I got the contract for a second book!" He went running through the hallway, through the kitchen and slapped the screen door open a mere second before going right through it. He fully expected to be reprimanded for running in the house, but to his surprise neither of his parents said a word about it. He leaped off the big porch whooping and shouting and turned to share his news.
"Mom, I got it! Mom?..." A puzzled look crossed his face as he realized something was amiss. Slowly he climbed the steps, understanding dawning on his features.
"Mom? Francis? Oh no...not yet...I wasn't ready yet..."
The two women sat with their hands together, fingers entertwined, peacefull smiles on their faces, gazing out at the green mountains in the distance. Although there was gray in their hair and lines on their faces, they both looked as happy as the day R.J had come to live with them. Now he kneeled at their feet, put his head in his mother's lap and a hand on Francis' knee.
"Goddess knows I wasn't ready for this...I'll miss you both so much..." R.j could say no more, the tears robbed him of the words he so desperately wanted to say. So he kneeled there and wept for the loss of his parents, his two guiding lights. As he mourned he felt a warmth beside him, and he looked up through tear-filled eyes. Gabrielle and Xena stood beside him.
"They died together R.J, you know this is how they wanted to go..."
Gabrielle turned to the still figures on the swing. "They're at peace R.J and together on the other side."
"But I wasn't ready..."
"You know it's not about that." Xena spoke quietly. "Their work is done now, they've gone home. Be happy that they're together; you'll see them again."
The funeral was a somber affair. As the strains of 'Trathnona Beag Areir' floated through the air, R.J wept openly. His parents' friends and associates were all emotional, but none more than he. As the caskets began to lower, he placed a red rose on the lid of each. As he lowered a shovelful of dirt into the large, double plot, R.J felt that familiar presence again and looked up. Under a large oak tree stood Xena, Gabrielle, Francis and his mother. His parents looked as they had when they were young, and they both smiled warmly at him. He knew they were happy so he smiled back bravely and gave voice to what was in his heart.
"I'll miss you all."Then he inclined his head as Xena had done not so long ago. "Until we meet again..."
The four women faded slowly from sight.
REST IN PEACE
Finished August 7. 1999
Return to Main Page