MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE INN
A Day In the Life with Dori
DISCLAIMERS: Most of these characters belong to TV people. Dori, and the characterizations of the folks in this story belong to Missy Good. No disrespect or copyright infringement is intended, no money is being made. If you want to send money, send it to Missy for the March of Dimes babywalk.
FAKE UPDATE WARNING: This is a FAKE UPDATE. No real Merwolfs were involved in the creation of this story.
SUBTEXT WARNING: Oh so minor. Nothing physical, sorry. Babies make you too tired.
VIOLENCE WARNING: The only violence is the assault on Ponys ego.
LEATHER TEETHING RING: A leather teething ring to Laur(acy) for her assistance in editing.
Eponin settled into the rhythm of the run. The air was getting cooler, ruffling the light tunic that Ephiny had insisted she wear. The baby, strapped securely in the backpack, was over dressed by equally over-protective aunts with layers of sweaters. They had tried to keep Doris regular routine, dividing up the activities. Shed volunteered for baby jogging duty, though she doubted her sanity now as Dori tugged on her hair and yelled, Boo! and the ever present wolf ran in and out of her legs tripping her up. After a few misunderstandings which had resulted in a pouting princess and a sore head, Pony had jumped a ditch to avoid falling over Ares. Dori had chortled her approval and repeated her name for Xena again in an affirming tone. After that their runs had included leaps and jumps and at Doris insistence, Pony had progressed into full flips that left Dori giggling. Pony picked up the pace and shook her head in wry humour. It figured. Xenas kid would love to fly.
Dori never walked anywhere, the regent reflected. She ran. Weight forward, balanced over the balls of her feet. The same way Xena moved. Always ready. Gabrielle had a more relaxed stride, well, at least the heels of her feet touched the ground. Though those feet usually led them all into trouble. Why did this little one have to combine the most troublesome traits of her parents??? They were off on a small adventure, and if she knew Gabrielle, it would turn into a big one. Oh well, at least her friends were getting to be on the road alone with each other again.
Ack!!! Her musing had made her lose a step on the racing toddler and Dori now had the chicken coop open and was running through the frightened birds with arms over her head yelling. The chickens took the hint and scattered. Ares ran to help Dori scatter them, liking this new game. After a few attempts to stop the chicken stampede, Ephiny gave up, sitting down amid the swirling feathers and laughing. Dori ran around the coop once more, then, arms still overhead leaped onto Eph, her face full of delight. She hugged Eph hard and chattered her glee, charming her protector. Ares romped over and licked both Eph and Doris faces, causing Dori to sputter and giggle even more. Eph ruffled her charges hair saying, Ah Dori, how can someone so good be so bad!!! Dori stared hard at her, a stern look replacing the smiles, Dood.
What??? Dood? Dori smiled and grabbing Ares by the fur, started racing off after the nearest chicken, aaaaiiaiiaaiiiaaaiiia Oh gods, Ephiny thought as she chased after her, shes trying to do The Yell.
Dori looked so angelic asleep. Hard to imagine one little girl could cause so much trouble. Ephiny gently brushed soft black locks back from her face and rose from her chair by the cradle. Her mothers had only been gone a week, but the amazon nannies were already bone tired. Eph and Pony had decided to stay in the Inn instead of the cabin and had moved Dori in with them. Dori spent half the nights with her Grandma anyway and this way help was always nearby. Eph had finally managed to put her down for a nap and was now easing herself out of the room, so as not to wake the little amazon princess. She shook her head thinking her son was never this energetic and he was a centaur, for Zeus sake.
She entered the main room of the tavern and quickly spied Pony leaning back in a chair, eyes closed, with her feet up on the table. A mug of ale, undrunk, curled in one hand. As she got closer she could hear the soft snoring that told her the exhausted Pony was out cold. She quietly walked around the room and retrieved toys from the various places Dori had flung them, placing them back in a wooden box near the hearth. One of the patrons held up a leather teething ring that had apparently landed in his stew. Eph retrieved that as well thinking it ironic that Dori was so good at throwing it and had never even seen a chakram. She wiped up the remains of Doris lunch from the table and floor, opting to leave all the bits that Pony was wearing on her rather than wake her. Picking up the dishes, she carried them to the kitchen and found the babys grandmother setting up for another round of meals at dinner. My angel asleep? Cyrene asked glancing up from the dough at the weary regent auntie.
Finally, sighing she set the dishes down and turned towards the Inn Keeper. Cyrene, how can someone so little run us so ragged? Just this morning she climbed into the water trough, let the chickens out of the hen house, pulled out every one of Gabrielles scrolls, spilled ink on Ponys best leathers, and pulled the hair on little Xe so hard she left a bald patch. And that was with either Pony or I with her every minute!
Xena was the same way. Doris got a more peaceful way about her, doesnt sulk as much. But they both are fast on their feet and have mischief in their eye. Probably cause theyre both too smart for their own good. she said proudly.
Artemis help us. Any advice??
Well, shes napping....Enjoy it while you can.
Pony woke to Ephinys swearing and slamming the door. She bolted up, dropping her feet to the floor and threw up her hands defensively, tossing the forgotten ale into her own face. Argh, Centaurs balls, Eph, whats going on?? She sputtered as she shook the ale from her head and stood, bristling, now fully awake. She glared around the room at the taverns patrons, wondering who had been foolish enough to throw ale in a warriors face. The diners closest to her were staring at their plates, the colour draining from their faces. Those farther away were hiding giggles behind their hands and trying not to choke on food half swallowed. Ephiny rushed by on her way to the kitchen, calling over her shoulder, Shes gone!! Who, whats going on? she yelled chasing after her frantic companion. The baby?? You lost the baby??? They rushed into the kitchen together and announced the terrible news to Cyrene. Shes gone, Cyrene. Her cradle is empty and I cant find her anywhere. Were going to need to get everyone and search for her. Pony, you start tracking incase whoever took her didnt cover their tracks.
Cyrene, who hadnt looked up from the bread she was kneading asked softly, Did you check the top of the tallest tree out back?
No, I... Ephiny ran out the back door of the Inn to the tree in question. As she got close she saw a bit of bright blue up near the top. As she got under the tree and could see Dori high in the branches, she felt an acorn bounce off her head. Ow, she growled, as relief sweep through her and she began to climb.
Cyrene looked over at the dripping warrior, What happened to you?? Dori get you again? Pony growled and complained, No, some idiot out there with more balls than brains threw ale in my face while I was asleep. Cyrene, stepped over to the woman covered in leather, bits of baby food and wet feathers. She reached down and took the mug still gripped in a tense hand, ^You drink this??
No, I, uh.. A blush started up Ponys neck, Ah, baby poop, Cyrene. Not one word!! Cyrene looked up with an eyebrow raised^ and a teasing smile, then turned back to her bread chuckling. Another mystery solved.
With Dori clapping happily in her arms, Eph re-entered the kitchen. Ok Cyrene, how did you know? She was almost at the top and pelting the livestock with acorns.
Where do you think I always found Xena? She was half monkey that one, and looks like this one is too. Cyrene smirked proudly at her granddaughter and dabbed flour on her nose, while Ephiny groaned, and rolled her eyes, thinking about the long weeks ahead before her mothers returned. Come here my love, crooned Cyrene. Dori happily kicked her legs, nailing Ephiny in the ribs and threw herself into her grandmothers arms. The regent clutched her sore ribs knowing she had another bruise to add to the collection. She watched as Cyrene kept up a steady stream of chatter to the intently listening toddler she carried on one hip while stirring the contents of a pot.
Ephiny pulled her damp lover outside, What happened to you?
Pony scowled, Dont ask.
Ephiny smiled knowing there must be a story in there, but also knowing she wasnt going to get it from the woman dripping before her. Perhaps she could bribe one of the servers in the tavern later. Pony caught the speculative look on Ephiny's face and began to do rapid calculations of how many people she was going to need to bribe and intimidate to keep Eph from hearing about her accident.
So, what are we going to do? she asked trying to distract her partner from pursuing that particular line of questioning.
Admitting defeat, Ms Too-Tough-for-Her-Leathers? Eph teased. Pony had refused to send back to the Nation for an honour guard and nannies, adamant that she and Ephiny could do anything Xena and Gabrielle could do. It was only a baby, shed insisted.
Im not going to tell my warriors I couldnt handle a toddler!! And I am definitely not going to give Xena the satisfaction of knowing I cant even keep up with her daughter. Talk about losing my edge! the dark warrior looked at the ground and pondered her options.
Eph backhanded her across the abs, Quit whining, love. Ive got a plan. Pony looked suspicious but slightly cheered and Eph continued. I think we need shifts of babysitters. Two at a time, 8 shifts. But we dont want them to know we cant handle her, so well tell them its a project for the Queen..
Pony sighed in relief, What do you have in mind??
I was looking over some of Xenas drawings of things shes been designing, improvements shes been planning for around here. I think we can bring in enough amazons to build her running water thing. Shes got a drawing of a dammed in spring, up on the hill, and lengths of bamboo fitted together running down to the house. She drew this little thing to turn at the end to block the flow. Pretty neat.
Brilliant, Eph! We might live through this!! Ill go get a runner to send back to the village. Im gonna get the honour guard too. In a restored mood, Pony dunked her head in the nearby trough and jogged away to find a messenger.
Ephiny poked her head back inside, calling to Cyrene, Here let me take her. Im going to walk up to the spring on the hill and look it over. Were thinking of building one of Xenas projects. Cyrene handed over the smiling child, giving her a kiss, Be good little one.
Dood! yelled Dori happily, and waved bye-bye to her grandma from Ephs arms. Once outside, Dori wiggled until her aunt put her down. She took off running, looking over her shoulder to see if Eph was chasing her, and giggled that she was. Eph scooped her up on the run, swinging her in a high arc. Gotcha!! You little rascal. To which Dori laughed wildly. She squirmed til Eph put her down again, and repeated the game til they were half-way up the hill. Eph put Dori down again and stopped to catch her breath as the princess hid behind a tree. Ephiny crept up to the tree and peeked around the trunk at the hunkered down toddler. Dori squealed and leaped up at her, delighted that she had lured Eph over to look for her, Cha! she yelled. Eph laughed out loud. Oh you did, did ya? You got me?? You got me you little rascal? as she tickled the princess and blew raspberries on her tummy. They fell in a heap of laughing amazon royalty, Dori laying on Ephinys chest. Once recovered, they continued to the spring. Ephiny dropped Doris hand long enough to kneel down and look at the source of the spring, planning where to start the pipes. She heard The Yell (aaaiiaiaiii) ending in a splash. Panicked, she dove after Dori, cursing herself for looking away from this energetic child for even a breath of time. Dori, however, was stroking herself through the water, cheeks puffed out holding her breath. Eph lifted her to the surface, kicking for shore. Dori blinked the water from her eyes and gave Eph a startled look, then squealed with glee and continued to kick her legs, whacking her protector in the nose. Eph saw stars, but managed to get them to the bank. Lying on her back, gasping for air, she kept a firm grip on the toddler bouncing on her stomach. Oh yeah, we need a legion of amazons, yup. Dori, Warrior Tadpole. The Nation will never know what hit em.
Muddy and bruised, the regent heaved her charge up onto her shoulders and headed back down at a brisk walk. When they neared the compound, Dori yelled to get down and ran over to her home, patting the cabin door. Mamma, Mamma. Ephiny opened the door and let Dori in to see that no one was home. She picked her up, saying, Shes not here right now, Sweetie. She went with Boo. Boo! Dori answered, looking around expectantly. Theyll be back my little princess. They love you. Theyll be back. Eph crooned to the baby soothingly. And it better be soon or Ill kill them myself, she thought. Dori sniffed and put her thumb in her mouth, then laid her head on Ephinys shoulder. Eph rocked her for a moment and then said, Lets get you out of these wet clothes, Darling. and pulled out a fresh tunic and diapers from the chest. Once naked, Dori cheered up and ran around the cabin laughing. Eph caught her and laid her on the bed to change her. Dori reached out and grabbed a tunic of Xenas that was lying on the bed, discarded from their packing at the last minute. She pulled it up to her face, comforted by the smell of Xena, and stuck her thumb in her mouth again. When they were done, Dori wouldnt leave the cabin without the tunic, now security blanket. Okay, lets go find Aunt Pony. Your turn warrior, and you better not comment about my black eyes.
Pony sat with Dori on her lap, in a corner of the tavern while they waited for Ephiny to put on dry clothes. Ephs eyes had looked blackened, but Pony knew better than to ask. Dori chewed on the leather teething ring, drooling on her caretaker. Next to Xena, Pony was one of Doris favourite toys. In self-defence, Pony had gotten out the picture book Paladia had made for the toddler. They were turning the pages and Dori would pull the ring out of her mouth and touch the page with it, saying a word she intended to describe what was pictured. Most of the words sounded the same to Pony. Versions of Oooo Bo, Wo, Go. The last two pages were of Xena and Gabrielle. These words Dori said quite well, calling them Mamma and Boo. She leaned her little face up to the pictures and kissed them, then shyly turned back to see Ponys reaction. Pony had a lump in her throat and tears in her eyes, which she gruffly wiped away and squeezed her little pal affectionately. Dori smiled and leaned against her, reaching up to offer her a nip on the teething ring.
Cyrene came in carrying a dinner tray, setting in before the embarrassed warrior; caught growling and biting the leather ring, just to make a baby laugh. Hi Cutie. she whispered to the toddler. Make sure she eats her greens, Pony. Gabrielle doesnt want her to eat like Xena. And then she bustled back to the kitchen to dish up dinner for the evening customers.
Pony let out a big sigh and prepared for their nightly battle. Shed been trying to find ways to get Dori to swallow vegetables and Dori had been practicing how far she could spit them, as well as developing her accuracy. Ares had taken to hiding behind tables and chairs to avoid being hit, as he and Pony were the favourite targets. Tonight she pulled out a small vial and poured the blue dye into the pureed veggies, hoping the change of colour would at least distract the little rugrat. She got one spoonful into her. Dori opened her mouth and stuck out her tongue, holding the offending food out, not wanting to swallow it. She then took aim and hit Pony in the cleavage, dripping blue goo down her top. Oh good one, Dori. She said disgusted, wiping at the goo and spreading the stain. Dood, chirped Dori in acknowledgement. Yeah, youre Dood, I know, I dont really like em either. Silently admitting defeat, Pony scraped the disgustingly blue veggies off the plate and fed Dori the things she liked.
Ephiny returned to find a well fed toddler and her partner with a blue stain down her front. ^I remember the first time that happened. I cant imagine it was as much fun this time. Giving her bedraggled lover a suggestive leer. Pony looked up startled at the reference and then threw back her head and laughed belly laughs. Dori joined in the fun, clapping her hands and hooting out her approval. Wiping her eyes, Pony remarked, Yeah, well, Im just getting a lesson in the eating habits of small Doods. Dont feed them anything green. Dont sit within spitting distance. And dont try to trick them with food colouring. Dori beamed and patted the table triumphantly, DOOD!
Bruised, stained and exhausted, the two amazons gazed at the gregarious toddler. Pony sighed and leaned her head against Ephs shoulder, How long before reinforcements get here?
Three days, Pony. You know that. You sent our faster runner, but they still have to make the return trip. she sighed and leaned her chin on Ponys head. Splat, the mashed potatoes hit her right between the eyes. Her respect for her Queen doubled.
Looks like she got you a good one this afternoon. Your eyes are black already.
Yeah, well, it turns out she can swim and shes got quite a kick.
Do you think well make it? Pony jerked up her hand to catch the next volley.
Do you want to face the Queen and Xena if we dont? Ponys only response was to cringe. Ephiny laid her Potatoed Head back on Ponys, You know what they say, it takes a Nation to raise a child. This is the one they meant.
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