Disclaimer:I do not own Xena Warrior Princess or any of its characters. I consider Xena and Gabrielle to be my friends----and you can’t own your friends J .
Violence:Heck no. This is a love story.
Subtext:Only Maintext here folks. If the idea of two women who love each other more than anything in the world upsets you---then don’t read my stories.
Spoilers:What could I spoil? I will tell you that unless you’ve read my previous stories, you might not understand a lot of what’s happening in this one. Go back and read them. I think you might enjoy my series J .
About Me:I am a 50 year old Xenite, and proud of it! If you don’t know by now (and you care)---no I am not gay. I am a woman who truly believes in the power of love. And if you are lucky enough to find it in this lifetime, it doesn’t matter what package it comes in. To love and be loved is the greatest gift. Hold onto it, cherish it, and may it last forever.
My Thanks:To Mary D at AUSXIP for accepting me into the Bard’s Corner, and for making my dreams come true. To Ginny, who wrote me my first fan letter and has become my Anam Cara: my Soulfriend. And to all of you who read my stories, and especially to those who have taken the time to write --- thank you for your kind words. It is you who gave me the confidence to keep my little series going.
Comments are always welcome. You can reach me at:
January 1, 2003
Dawn was breaking over Amphipolis, and in the house well outside of the village and secluded in the woods, Xena slowly opened her eyes and greeted the daylight. She was careful not to automatically go into her morning stretching routine. Gabrielle was sleeping with her back pressed up against Xena’s side, and she didn’t want to wake her. Gabrielle was just beginning her 9th moon of pregnancy, and she needed all the rest that she could get.
Xena slowly turned her head to look at her. She could only see her tousled blonde hair, and part of the colorful dragon/chakram tattoo covering her back. She wished that Gabrielle could sleep facing her, but as the months passed and the baby inside of her grew, it made snuggling close face to face rather impossible.
Not that Xena minded at all. Gabrielle was carrying a miracle inside of her. A baby. Their baby. "Blood of my blood." Xena liked to say in her thoughts as well as aloud to Gabrielle. Who would have thought that it would be possible. That the life growing inside Gabrielle was part of both of them.
Gabrielle had relished being pregnant. When she had been pregnant with Hope, after being brutally raped by the demon Dahak, there was great shame and pain. It was only a short time later that she underwent a very painful delivery. Hope, afterall, had been the spawn of a demon. This time, there was no pain, and she was filled with love. This was the child of her Warrior Princess. The one thing she had always dreamed of, but never believed could come true.
As she began to show, explanations had to be made to the people of Amphipolis and to her Amazon nation. Xena had come up with the perfect explanation: that this baby was a gift from Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love. It really had been Aphrodite’s gift. She was the one who had told Xena that the secret was in her blood. She was the one who gave Xena the magic golden sword/knife. Xena never told anyone the details of what had taken place the night of their second anniversary. That having Gabrielle cut deep into her groin, and then making love to her Warrior-Bard as her blood flowed into her had caused this to happen. That was only for Xena and Gabrielle to know. And perhaps, one day they would tell their wonderful child how it had been so lovingly conceived.
Xena smiled. This was all so beautiful. So wonderful. The greatest gift that anyone had ever given her. Another of Aphrodite’s little gifts had been that Xena would experience all the things that Gabrielle was going through. She had, of course, experienced pregnancy with Solon and with Eve, but because this was such a miracle, Aphrodite wanted her to feel what Gabrielle was feeling.
They had gone through the morning sickness together. That was not the most pleasant part, but sharing it together actually made their bond to each other closer----if that was even possible.
They each had strange cravings. Gabrielle wanted raw fish with vinegar, which considering her revulsion to squid was quite interesting for Xena to watch. Xena wanted raw oats in goats milk. Argo didn’t seem to mind sharing her feed at all. Though she did give Xena confused glances as she watched her munching on handfuls of her oats at feeding time.
Xena’s stomach did not expand, but her breasts swelled along with Gabrielle’s. It seemed impossible, but she knew that she was producing milk. She wasn’t quite sure how she was going to deal with that. Gabrielle, afterall, was the Mother of their baby.
They had had plenty of time to plan. With the help of the Master Builder in town, Xena had added a small room to the house. It was connected to their bedroom. Gabrielle had made curtains. Xena had made a wooden cradle that rocked. On the headboard, she painted her chakram with one of Gabrielle’s sais intertwined through it. Ares had donated two chairs that rocked and a table and small dresser from the halls of Mt. Olympus. Aphrodite, of course, had to populate the room with pillows of all colors. And somehow, she had made windchimes with clear glass stars. They sparkled like diamonds and made the most beautiful sounds.
It had been decided that Gabrielle was going to have the baby in the Amazon village. The birth of a baby by their Queen was something to be celebrated. In fact, that celebration would go on for days! A girl would be the heir to the throne, and be given the title of "Princess". A boy, although he could never rule, would be raised by all with love and respect and never harmed. He would be their "Prince", and be permitted to live among them until he was sixteen years old.
The mid-wives had been selected. Xena would not be allowed to attend the birthing. Epihiny, as second in command, would present the baby to her as she waited outside the Queen’s hut with the rest of the tribe. Xena would then raise the baby high, and present the child to its extended family. She was not quite happy about being excluded from the hut, but it was the Amazon way, and Gabrielle had chosen to follow tradition. Xena would do this anyway that Gabrielle wanted. All she wanted was for Gabrielle and their baby to be healthy and happy.
They had decided together that Aphrodite and Ares would be God-parents to their child. Gabrielle had laughed and said "Who better to be God-parents than real gods!" It seemed like a good decision to Xena. If anything happened to the two of them, their child would always be protected. And they would always be around. They were immortal, afterall.
Aphrodite being the Goddess of Love was a perfect choice. Ares being the God of War----well, that was a harder decision. Xena and Gabrielle trusted them both. In the time since Gabrielle had brought Xena back from the Elysian Fields (with Ares help), he had become their friend. But they were not sure that he would want the job. They decided to wait until after the baby was born to ask both of them.
Xena felt Gabrielle stir, and she glanced over to see Gabrielle clumsily turn over onto her back. The blanket over them both rose high over Gabrielle’s stomach. Xena could not resist. She moved down in the bed slowly, and lay her head against the mound. She smiled as she felt the baby move inside of her Soulmate. Her thoughts turned to Solon and Eve. It was such a miracle that a living being could be there inside.
Suddenly Xena felt Gabrielle’s hand stroke her head gently. "It’s got your strength, that’s for sure," she said quietly.
Xena turned her head to look at Gabrielle. Her blonde Warrior-Bard was smiling. "I didn’t mean to wake you up," she said.
Gabrielle chuckled. "With all this punching and kicking, how am I supposed to sleep?"
Xena ran her hand gently over Gabrielle’s stomach. "My strength and your goodness. Should be a perfect mix."
"Just like us," she said, stroking Xena’s cheek.
Xena pushed herself to sit up, leaned over and kissed her Soulmate warmly. Gabrielle wrapped her arms around Xena’s neck and returned the affection. But suddenly without warning, Gabrielle broke off the kiss, and Xena felt her body tense. "What’s wrong, Gabrielle?" she asked quickly, a look of fear entering her deep blue eyes.
Gabrielle bit her lower lip hard until she felt her body relax. "Well Xena…..I guess I’d better tell you. I’ve been in labor for about three candlemarks now."
Xena’s mouth dropped open. "What? Why didn’t you wake me? What about the Amazons? Gabrielle……."
She put her hand to Xena’s lips. "Ssshhhh. I don’t want to have our baby there. I want to have it here. I want you to be the one who delivers our child, Xena. It’s our baby. I want it to be born here. Here in our house."
Xena smiled. Gods, how much she loved her. Xena had delivered many babies in her lifetime. She knew what to do. And Gabrielle had helped her to deliver Eve in the woods beneath a tree. This was a much better setting. And much better than being around all the Amazons. "How far are the pains?" she asked, getting out of bed.
"About a quarter of a candlemark," Gabrielle said, struggling to sit up. She would be very glad to be able to move like her old self once again.
Xena grabbed some pillows from the chair and propped them behind her back. "Okay," she said, suddenly feeling nervous now that she was on her feet. "I’ll get everything ready."
Gabrielle noticed that Xena’s hands were shaking. She reached out and grabbed one of her hands tightly. "Hey---don’t fall apart on me, Xena. I need you."
"I….I’m nervous." Suddenly Xena let out a nervous laugh. "I’m so happy!" She raised Gabrielle’s hand to her lips and kissed it tenderly. "I love you so much!"
"I love you, too," replied Gabrielle, just before her stomach was seized with a strong cramp. She tightened her grip on Xena’s hand, then slowly released the pressure as the pain subsided.
Xena patted her hand, her face a look of ever changing emotions. "Don’t go anywhere," she said as she headed for the kitchen. Gabrielle frowned. She couldn’t tell if Xena was being serious or not.
Xena stood a moment in the kitchen and closed her eyes. She had to get control. "I’ve delivered plenty of babies before. Focus, Xena! You’ve got to focus!" But she knew that this baby was different. This was their baby. This was Gabrielle. Xena took a deep breath, let it out, and felt her body slip into Warrior Princess mode. She didn’t have the need to use it too much since she and Gabrielle were semi-retired. But she was glad that she could still call upon her stoic image when she needed it. She felt her body straighten, her muscles tighten, her mind freeing itself of all but the task at hand. This was like going into battle: the battle to make sure that both Gabrielle and her baby would survive unscathed. Xena would protect them both with her life.
She was well aware that some women and children did not survive childbirth. And she had made a silent, solemn vow to join them both in the Elysian Fields immediately if that happened. Without Gabrielle and their child, she could not go on. The small blonde WarriorBard was her life. Should their baby live, she would remain on earth and raise it with all the love that she possessed. But without them both, she was nothing.
She filled a pail with water from the pump in the well-sink, and lit a fire in the wood stove. The pail went on top of the stove. "Well…..that was the easy part," she thought, and managed a smile.
She quickly went back into the bedroom. Gabrielle was controlling her breathing as another contraction passed. "I should have let you have the honor of going through this!" she said, but her voice told Xena that she was trying to joke about it.
"And deny you this joy?" she said, removing her breast dagger from the breastplate she always kept hanging on the post at the bottom of the bed. "I wouldn’t think of it, Gabrielle." Xena tested the knife blade on her finger. Plenty sharp, as always.
Gabrielle wiped the sweat from her forehead with the back of her hand. "Xena," she said, her tone turning serious. "I wouldn’t have missed this for the world."
The Warrior Princess smiled at her, her blue eye filled with love. "I know." She pulled an old sleep shift out of the dresser drawer and ripped it into several pieces.
"I hope that wasn’t mine," Gabrielle said, scowling.
"You wouldn’t fit in it right now, anyway," Xena said, pulling a blanket out of the wooden chest at the foot of the bed. Xena spread the blanket out on her side of the bed and, slipping one arm around Gabrielle’s back and the other under her knees, she lifted her body out from under the sheet and carefully lay her on the blanket. She slipped two pillows beneath Gabrielle’s head, and two pillows beneath the lower half of her body to raise her hips. Gabrielle raised her knees, and gritted her teeth as another strong contraction swept over her.
Xena took a piece of the torn shift and wiped the sweat from Gabrielle’s face. Gabrielle smiled weakly. "You know something, Xena?"
"What, my Love?" she asked smiling at the pregnant woman laying in front of her.
"I’m…..I’m so happy….right now." Another contraction grabbed her, and this one caused her to bite down hard on her fist.
"Let it out, Gabrielle! Scream if it hurts that bad! It’ll help. It won’t be long, but you know it’s going to hurt like Tartarus!" Xena patted her arm sympathetically and rushed out to the kitchen to fetch the bucket of hot water from the stove.
Setting it on the floor, she climbed onto the bed and kneeled between Gabrielle’s knees. She raised the blondes sleep shift up and over her swollen stomach, and Gabrielle managed a laugh. "Ordinarily Xena, I’d be loving every minute of this."
Xena smiled. "I am loving every minute of this." The contractions came harder and faster. The pain was almost unbearable. Gabrielle threw her head back and an anguished scream escaped from her throat. Xena kept her hand on the Warrior-Bard’s leg to offer some comfort. "When the next one hits, I want you to push---hard."
Gabrielle gritted her teeth. "Xena……I…"
"Don’t talk." She ordered.
"Have to. If anything…..happens…..you know…..wrong….."
Xena shook her head. "Nothing is going to go wrong, Gabrielle."
"Save……..save our baby……first."
Xena swallowed hard. She had considered the possibility that something could go wrong, but she never discussed it with Gabrielle. She had never told Gabrielle of her solemn vow. Gabrielle was telling her that in the event that she had to choose-----she was to choose the baby. Xena knew that she could never do that. Gabrielle was her life. This baby was so important to them both, but she knew in her heart that she could never make that choice. There was no question. If the Fates decreed that one should live and one should die, that was different. But Xena would not let Gabrielle go without a fight. Still, in order to keep Gabrielle calm, she nodded and said, "I will." She felt a twinge of guilt at having just lied to her Soulmate. But now was not the time for truth. She needed to keep her calm.
Another strong contraction gripped Gabrielle and, remembering Xena’s orders, she began to bare down hard, her body almost doubling up. Xena watched as the miracle began to take place before her eyes. The top of a tiny head appeared. A tiny head with jet black hair. Xena positioned her hand beneath, but did not touch. She saw that her hand was shaking. A tiny face came into view. Another contraction forced Gabrielle to scream once again, and she bore down hard, gritting her teeth. Her face and body were covered in sweat. Into Xena’s large waiting hand slid a long, beautiful baby.
Xena’s lips drew into a wide smile as she announced, "Gabrielle-----it’s a girl." And even though she was trying to stay in Warrior mode, tears began to run down her face. The Fates had been good to them. She had not lost her Soulmate or their child.
Gabrielle lay exhausted and breathing hard. "Why isn’t she crying?" she moaned.
Xena remained calm and lay the newborn down gently on the blanket, and covered it’s tiny mouth and nose with her lips. Very carefully she blew a slight puff of air into it’s lungs. And then another. The tiny being began to twitch and squirm, and a loud cry escaped from her mouth.
Gabrielle’s frightened frown turned into a beautiful smile. "She’ll learn your Warrior yell for sure."
Xena picked up her breast dagger and cut the umbilical cord, tying it off close to the body of the baby, who was still wailing loudly. "She just might out yell me!" she said, as she wiped the tiny body clean with a piece of Gabrielle’s torn shift dipped in the warm water from the bucket.
Gabrielle tried to watch Xena’s every move. "Is she----is she okay, Xena?"
"Everything is in the right place," Xena said as she carefully wrapped the baby in a clean piece of the linen, "And in just the right amount." She gently picked up the child, and lay her in the hollow of Gabrielle’s arm. "Say hello to your Daughter, Gabrielle."
The blond Warrior-Bard couldn’t stop smiling at the tiny bundle in her arms. "She’s so beautiful, Xena." And tears of happiness began to run down her cheeks.
"She sure is," Xena agreed, as she proceeded to clean Gabrielle’s body tenderly. She couldn’t keep her eyes off the tiny creature in her arms.
"Did you decide on a name yet?" Xena had decided to let Gabrielle name the baby. She was the Amazon Queen. She wanted Gabrielle to choose the name for the future Queen of her tribe.
Gabrielle touched the tiny cheek with her fingertip. "Xenelle," she said softly, and looked up into the blue eyes of her Warrior Princess. "After both of us."
Xena smiled proudly and leaned over to place a gentle kiss on the lips of her Soulmate. "Thank you," she whispered. "Thank you for this wondrous gift." She removed the blanket and pillows that had supported Gabrielle’s legs, and covered her with a clean blanket. Then she sat on the edge of the bed and watched in fascination as their newborn sucked on Gabrielle’s finger. "She’s so beautiful.!"
"She’s hungry." Gabrielle lay her hand on Xena’s leg. "Feed your daughter, Xena."
The look on Xena’s face made Gabrielle smile. It was a combination of shock, and shyness. Xena’s cheeks actually blushed red. That was something she had never seen in all their years together. "No….I…..you…" the once Conqueror of Nations stammered.
Gabrielle patiently patted her leg. "I know you can. I want you to. We’ll take turns. She’s your daughter too, Xena. You need to bond with her."
The Warrior Princess became speechless. This was something that she hadn’t planned on. Yes, she knew that Aphrodite had blessed her with milk to feed their child. Her blood had given Xenelle life. Now she was being given the opportunity to truly bond with her. Gabrielle was offering her another unbelievable gift. She couldn’t control the tears that ran from the corners of her blue eyes.
Xena gently picked up the baby and cradled her in her arms. As she smiled at the tiny creature whom she had helped to create, Gabrielle reached up and slid the strap of Xena’s shift off her left shoulder, exposing her breast and the chakram tattoo with the letter "G" in the center that Gabrielle had carved there on a beautiful sunny day at the lake.
Xena closed her eyes at the exquisite feeling of her daughter suckling at her breast. She had done this with her son, Solon. She had done this with her daughter, Eve. But this was so different. This was the child who only a short time before had been in the body of Gabrielle. Gabrielle, whom she loved more than her own life. She looked from the tiny baby up into Gabrielle’s eyes and smiled. Never before had Gabrielle seen such a smile on her lips. Xena, Warrior Princess, was filled with a contentment that radiated from her soul.
"Good job, Warrior Mom," Gabrielle said, giving Xena’s leg a gentle squeeze. She was so filled with emotions watching her Soulmate nurse their child. For Xenelle was truly their child. There was no greater gift that Xena could have ever given her. This was the union of their love. This was the blood of their blood.
Xena gently caressed the black hair of the baby at her breast. "I can’t believe we did this, Gabrielle," she said, as if reading the small blondes thoughts.
"You gave her to me, Xena. How can I ever tell you what that means to me?"
"Don’t forget----we couldn’t have done this without Aphrodite." Xena smiled again. And to think that at one time she had dared to call the Goddess of Love a "ditzy blonde". But that was so many years ago. They had become good friends. And Xena would never admit it, but she actually loved her. Aphrodite had helped her so many times when it seemed she had no hope.
"Should we call her?" Gabrielle asked.
Xena shook her head. "Not now. You need your rest." She looked down at the baby, who suddenly opened her eyes for the first time. "Gabrielle….." Xena whispered, "She has your eyes." Oh how this thrilled her. She adored the green eyes of her Warrior Bard. Now their daughter would share Gabrielle’s beauty.
Gabrielle’s face broke into a grin. "My eyes, your hair and…..from the length of her, I’d say your height, too, Xena. She’s so special!"
Xenelle seemed to be satisfied. Her little hands clenched and opened and she began to squirm. Xena placed her against her chest, and lightly patted her back. Gabrielle was not surprised by her gentleness. She had been with Xena long enough, and she had helped her to deliver Eve out in the woods on the ground beneath a tree. She knew the Warrior Princess was a good Mother.
True, she had given Solon to be raised by the Centaurs. But those were her "Dark Days". And even then, she did that to spare Solon from becoming what she had become, and what his Father, Borias, had been. She had never stopped loving her son. Gabrielle felt a twinge of sadness, knowing that it was her evil daughter, Hope, who had killed Solon. Their lives had been filled with much sadness.
Even with Eve, Xena had not had the opportunity to raise her child. Twenty five years frozen in that Ice Cave had seen to that. But this time it was going to be different. Both of them finally had the chance to raise their child with all the love and goodness Gabrielle knew that they both possessed.
Gabrielle smiled as Xena kissed the top of Xenelle’s head tenderly. She prayed that she could be as good a Mother as Xena. Xena lay their daughter back down against Gabrielle, cradling her head in the hollow of Gabrielle’s shoulder. Xenelle made soft little noises as she drifted off to sleep.
Xena pulled up the strap of her shift and started to rise. "Don’t go," said Gabrielle quickly. There was a plaintive sound to her voice, and Xena could feel that she was somewhat scared to be left alone. The terrible experience with Hope had left many invisible scars on Gabrielle. This was probably bringing up old memories. Xena could not allow that to happen.
"I won’t leave you," Xena said softly. She reached up and brushed a strand of blonde hair out of Gabrielle’s eyes. "I’ll never leave you." She stretched out on the bed on her side facing Gabrielle----their daughter sleeping peacefully between them. "Sleep now, Gabrielle," she whispered.
"I love you, Xena," said Gabrielle, closing her eyes. Xena intertwined her fingers with her Soulmates and held on tightly. And they both drifted off to a much needed sleep.
By the afternoon, Gabrielle felt well enough to get up on her feet. She was still sore from the strain of delivering her baby, but she was determined to get moving again. It was somewhat of a relief not to be carrying around the extra weight. She would need to exercise to get her body back into shape, but that would come later. For now, it was somewhat of a thrill just to be able to see her feet again.
Xena changed Xenelle and Gabrielle fed her for the first time. It was her true bonding moment with her child. So much different than with Hope. Xenelle was peaceful and gentle. She had been conceived in love. Xenelle was the best of both she and Xena.
She studied her tiny baby as she lay at her breast. Yes---she had Xena’s black hair and her green eyes. Her long little fingers had a strong grip, and her body was long. Her face had such a sweetness. She was two human beings combined into one. The greatest joy that she could ever imagine lay suckling in her arms.
By evening, they decided that it was time to call Ares and Aphrodite. Gabrielle slipped into a very pretty sleep shift embroidered with tiny flowers. Xena slipped on her black leather dress. It was the one that she had been married in. This was to be a "special" moment, and she wanted to look her best. But Gabrielle had talked her out of donning all the silver armor. "Gods Xena," she had exclaimed, "You’ll scare Xenelle to death looking so strikingly beautiful!" She well remembered how Xena had taken her breath away when she first saw her on their wedding day.
Gabrielle settled herself on the bed sitting propped up with several of Aphrodites’ pillows. She had Xenelle nestled in her arms. She was wrapped in a beautiful pink blanket. Xena sat on the edge of the bed close to them both, and said aloud, "Ares……Aphrodite……..Come and meet our daughter."
Almost like magic----actually it was magic----the Goddess of Love and the God of War appeared in the bedroom. Aphrodite was wearing one of her signature pink dresses with lots of fluff and lace. Ares was dressed in his usual black and silver outfit.
Aphrodite quickly moved to Gabrielle and leaned over the baby. She was positively glowing with love. "Hello, SweetPea," she whispered. She kissed Gabrielle gently on the cheek. "You did good, Gabs." And Gabrielle smiled.
Ares folded his arms and remained where he was. "Well, Xena----guess this means you won’t ever ditch the blonde now and marry me!" But then he smiled warmly at the Warrior Princess.
Xena returned the smile. "Ares, you never had a chance---and you know it."
The God of War continued to smile. "Doesn’t mean I won’t stop trying."
"I’m counting on it," Xena replied. "My life would be so dull without you, Ares." She said laughing out loud.
"Hey, you two," interrupted Gabrielle, "can we continue this love affair another time?" She knew very well that they both were kidding and actually enjoyed the back and forth banter they had developed, but at the moment she was too excited about why they had called their favorite Gods in the first place. "Xena has something important to tell you."
Xena cleared her throat. "Ares……Aphrodite…..we have a gift for the two of you." And she went on to tell them of their decision to make them the Godparents to Xenelle.
Aphrodite, in her typical flighty, emotional fashion was thrilled. She hugged Gabrielle and then Xena, and cooed over the baby in Gabrielle’s arms. Ares did not seem to be overly enthusiastic about the idea. He scratched at his beard and said, "Xena, it’s nice and all that, but…..hey….you know I don’t like kids. It’s….it’s bad for my image. And how do you know I wouldn’t try to push her in the wrong direction? I mean….well….I like you guys, but hey….I’ve still got the God of War thing going…."
It was Gabrielle who answered, quickly and with steadfast belief. "Because we trust you."
Ares dropped his eyes and looked at the floor. He said nothing, but the slight twitch at the corner of his mouth did not go unnoticed by Xena. She realized that this was probably the first time that anyone had ever said that to him. It wasn’t like the God of War to drop his bravado. A speechless Ares was practically unheard of!
Xena stood and looked at Gabrielle who nodded silently. Xena carefully picked up Xenelle and cradled their baby in her arms. She slowly walked to where Ares stood and said, "Meet your God-daughter, ‘Uncle’ Ares."
The God of War shot the Warrior Princess a frown and said, "Oh now that’s really pushing it, Xena." But he allowed her to place the baby in his arms. They had never seen him look so awkward. He looked down at the tiny human as Aphrodite slipped beside him and gently stroked her hair. Xenelle awoke with a yawn, and her tiny long fingers reached out and grasped Ares’ thumb. And Xena and Gabrielle saw him smile. It wasn’t the smile of a War God----it was the smile of their friend.
"You sure got born into a strange family, Kid," Ares said, looking from the baby to Xena and Gabrielle. "Two Mothers and…..and an Aunt and Uncle who aren’t Mortals." He carefully walked over to the bed, and gently lay Xenelle in Gabrielle’s arms. He felt awkward and clumsy, and he didn’t want to harm this special child. This was the baby of Xena and Gabrielle. And he knew he would protect her forever. "How are you gonna explain all that to her?" he asked, trying to regain his bravado.
Xena sat back down next to Gabrielle, grasped the scared left hand of her Soulmate in her own tightly, and replied, "We’ll find a way, Ares."
Gabrielle looked up from her baby, and then in turn let her eyes move from Aphrodite, to Ares, and to Xena. "Look at us!" she said. Her voice was filled with love and awe. "We’re a family!"
Aphrodite curled up on the bed beside Gabrielle, and once again stroked Xenelle’s tiny head with extreme gentleness. Ares gave his shoulders a slight shrug, and dropped down on the edge of the bed beside Xena. Slowly, he extended his hand out to her, sliding it across the blanket, palm up. Xena looked down at his wandering hand, and then up into his dark eyes. She saw in the face of the God of War not lust, but genuine affection. She grasped his hand firmly, and gave him a knowing nod. Xena smiled at Gabrielle and their daughter. "Yes, my Love……..We are a family!"
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