Seventeenth in the Melosa Series
Disclaimers: The characters of Xena: Warrior Princess and all other associated with the television series of the same name are owned by MCA/ Universal Pictures. This is a work of fan fiction and no copyright infringement is intended.
Subtext: I guess with my writing so far we'll just quit calling it subtext and call it maintext. Yes they are in love with each other.
Sex: I seriously doubt if Xena is going to be seeing any loving for sometime to come after this.
Violence: Just a little. Nothing serious.
Other: Part seventeen in the series "Raising Melosa".
I was cold, wet, hungry and tired. The storm had blown up unexpectedly and I hadnt really been prepared. I had brought a cloak with me only because Ri had insisted and then packed it without my knowledge. Thank the Gods for Gabrielle. I had been riding in a driving rain for the last two candle marks, but all I knew was that I had to make it home tonight. I wanted to sleep in my own bed damn it!
I had been way for a moon, treaty negotiations on the southern boarder. It was a simple matter really. You dont attack us and I wont have to kill you. Once that was settled things went pretty quickly.
I pulled my cloak tighter around my neck as I made for the house after making sure poor Argo was put away. I promised her a good brushing in the morning as I left the barn. I hated to admit it but it was time to retire my faithful mare. Well shed enjoy getting fat and lazy out in the back pasture after everything I had put her through.
The squirming under my cloak serve to remind me of the newest arrival to our family, he was cold, wet, hungry and tired too. I put my hand on the handle and pushed on the door. Locked. I felt defeated and just dropped my head against the door and stood there. I should have known it was going to be locked. It was the middle of the night for Zeus sake and I was already three days late.
I walked around to the side of the house and checked the window to our bedchamber. I didnt want to wake the whole house if I didnt have to. It was latched shut against the storm. I took my boot dagger out and slid it in the crack and flipped the latch. This could be a challenge, getting in the window without hurting my new little friend. I was going to have to hoist us both up. I tucked him this way and that and realized it wasnt going to work. I decided as cramped as he might be for a few moments it would be worth it and I stuck him in a pouch on my waist. He protested, but at this point he didnt seem to care either.
I pushed the shutters open slightly and pulled myself up and half way in. The solid connection of the staff against my back brought me the rest of the way into the room as I slid onto the floor. "Ri dont!" I yelled as I looked up and saw her preparing to take another swing.
"Xena! Have you lost your mind?!" She yelled as she dropped her staff and stepped over me to re-latch the shutter. She knelt down and helped me to my feet. "What in the world were you thinking I could have killed you?"
"I didnt want to wake the kids." I said as I got to my feet and tried to twist the knot out of my back, just so expertly put there by my wife.
She quickly lit a lamp and turned to me. "Gods Xe youre soaked." She said as she took my cloak and tossed it into a corner. She began stripping me of my clothes without another word.
"I missed you." I chuckled.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah. I missed you too." She said without missing a beat as she pulled me over to the fire and continued to remove my clothing. "Youll catch cold if we dont get you out of these wet clothes." She did take the time to stop and give me a kiss at least. She tugged on my belt and I remembered.
"Wait!" I got in the pouch and took him out and held him up by the scruff of the neck. "What do you think?" I asked as I showed her the tiny all black puppy.
She looked as the puppy and back at me. "A dog? Xena you brought home a dog?" My wet clothes seemed to be forgotten as she stared at him.
"Its a puppy. For Kai."
"Its a dog."
I cradled him close to me and scratched him behind the ear and was reward with a little sneeze. "Hes cold, wet and hungry too." I said with a grin.
"What am I gonna do with you?" She narrowed in on the puppy. "Both of you."
"Well you could help us get warm, dry and not so hungry."
"Tell you what warrior. You handle the warm and dry part and Ill go take care of the hungry part."
"Oh thats the best offer weve had all day."
"Yeah Ill just bet it is." She said as she gave me a kiss. She got a little puppy kiss on the cheek. "A dog." She mumbled as she left the room.
When she returned we were both lying by the fire, I was in a warm dry robe and the pup was laid out on his back enjoying the scratching to his belly. She brought the tray over and settled onto the floor with us. The pup twisted around, sat up and started sniffing the air. "Yeah it smells good doesnt it boy?" I said as I took a little piece of meat and gave it to him. He lay down with it and chewed on it. I took a piece of the meat and popped it in my mouth. "Hmmm, I love you wife." I said as I savored the venison.
"Does it have a name?" She asked as she eyed the pup.
"Not yet. I told you hes for Kai." I poured a cup of wine and handed it to Ri and then poured one for myself.
"Sure it is." She sipped her wine and settled back against me. "Xena why did you bring a dog home?"
"Well sweetheart. I stopped by a small village on the way home today and I just found him sitting there in the middle of the road. People were rushing past him and he came real close to getting trampled by a couple of horses "
"So what youre trying to tell me is hes not very smart either."
"He was just too scared to move. Ri he was gonna die." I said softly. "I couldnt just leave him there."
She sighed and looked up at me and shook her head. "Alright, but I swear the first sign of trouble and youre both out. Got it."
"I hear you. You just wait til Kai sees him. Itll all be worth it.
"If you say so." She looked up and caressed my cheek. "I really have missed you. Youre late. I was getting worried."
"I know." I kissed her. " Im sorry. Those people in Darenth can just be the most stubborn, pig headed bunch I have ever met in my life."
"Why do you think we sent you? How did you finally settle it?"
"I threatened them."
"Xe! The purpose was to keep us out of a war."
"Oh they wouldnt dare. Not now anyway." I chuckled as I took another piece of meat and gave the pup a little more as well. " How are the kids?"
"Theyre fine. Mels still having trouble with Reena. We had to break up another fight between them."
"What is it with those two?"
"They just really dont like each other. Tyldus said that Kai could start lessons over in the village if wed like. Kessa had a cold while you were gone which she proceeded to give to the entire family."
"Oh Im glad I missed that."
"Yeah I just bet you are. I had all four of them down at the same time. If it hadnt been for Cook and Karra I dont know what I would have done."
"Is everyone okay now?"
"Yeah, but Cook has it now so were cooking for ourselves for the time being."
"Well manage." I could feel my body starting to relax and my eyelids were getting heavy. "Ri Im "
"Yeah I know." I felt her get up and help me to my feet.
The next sensation was the soft warmth of our bed and the blankets being pulled up around me. I heard her moving around the room and then she slipped into bed next to me. I pulled her close.
"Thank you!" He yelled as he pounced on top of me, waking me out of a very sound sleep.
I opened a bleary eye to find my son sitting on top of me with the puppy clutched to his chest. The pup squirmed up and began licking every part of Kais face he could find. My son began to tumble backward and I had to sit up quickly and catch them both before they fell off the bed. "Youre welcome." I said as I eased them to the floor and them ran my hands through my hair and across my face in an effort to get more awake. I sat there in the bed for a moment trying to clear the cobwebs and get focused.
Ri came in with my morning tea and handed me the mug as she sat on the bed and sipped from her own mug. "Sleep well?" She asked with a grin.
"Yeah what there was of it was good." I sipped my tea.
"The back pastures flooded."
"Great." I mumbled. "Im not surprised. That was some storm." I rubbed my eyes with the palm of my hand trying to get the sleep out of them.
Kai giggled as his puppy nipped at his chin. "Stop it." He commanded through the giggles. The pup listened about as well as my son. I looked to Ri and grinned, lifting my eyebrow.
"Okay you were right he needed a pup." She whispered at me. "But I mean it warrior. The first time I have any problems with him Im throwing you all out. You can go live in the barn with Argo."
"Ohhh Argo." I groaned.
"What about Argo?"
"It was so late and I was so tired I didnt brush her out or anything. I just took her tack off and put her in a stall. Shes probably not speaking to me."
"Yes she is. I went out this morning and took care of her. I gave a bag of sweet oats and she has all but forgiven you."
"Thank you. Ive decided to retire her. Im going over to Solans later to see what he has in stock."
"Can I go?" Kai asked as he squirmed around to his knees on the floor beside the bed.
"I dont care, but you know who has final say. You may want to suck up to her." I said as I tilted my head towards his mother.
"And what are you going to do with the puppy while youre gone?"
"Oh yeah " The realization came to him.
"Oh yeah. If you can figure out what youre going to do with him while your gone "
"We could take him with us."
"Yeah." My wife turned on me. "You could take him with you."
"Alright you can both go." I said as I got out of bed and towered over my wife "Happy?"
"Perfectly." She smiled at me.
I leaned on the corral fence and watched as he brought the horse over. Kai and his pup played off in the distance, but well within the range of my hearing.
"So what do you think?" Solan said as I went in to inspect the horse.
"Good looking animal."
"Should be hes Argos grandson." He said with a smile. "Hey if you can do it why not Argo?"
"Where is my granddaughter anyhow?"
"Alana took her to the village today to see her other grandmothers. She does have others you know."
"No really?" I asked with mock indignation. "How much?" I patted the horse.
"Mother this is Argos grandson if you want him take him."
"No now Solan this is your business. This is how you take care of your family. How much?"
"Well I was asking two hundred dinars for him."
"Two hundred dinars?! For a horse?"
"Not just any horse "
"Argos grandson." We said in unison.
"Maybe I should send your mother over here to talk you down."
"Id end up paying you to take him. Not much profit there." He chuckled. "One fifty."
"Sold. Im assuming hes as well trained as his grandmother."
"No horse is as well trained as his grandmother, but hes got the basics and hes got potential."
Kai held onto the pup for dear life as I held onto him and we headed for home with Argos grandson in tow behind us. Argo kept looking back and talking to him. I think she was giving him tips on how to handle me.
"You know riding with a puppy isnt easy." He said as his little companion tried to squirm free from his grasp.
"Yeah well you should be me trying to hold on to the both of you."
"We have faith in you Mom." He giggled.
"You know youre getting more and more like your sister everyday."
"I am not." He said defiantly. "Shes a pain."
"Oh she is huh?"
"Okay if you say so."
I took his words seriously because I could feel his body tense as he spoke them. We had a bad case of sibling rivalry headed our way. I couldnt really blame him. He was the only boy in a house full of females, his mother was Queen of the Amazons and his sisters were all Princesses of the nation. I reminded myself that my son and I should spend a little more time alone together and starting classes over in the centaur village would probably be best for him as well he needed other boys and men to interact with. No wonder he enjoyed it when Autolycus visited.
"I love you Kai."
"I love you too Mom."
"XENA!!!" I cringed when I heard that come from the house.
I looked at my new horse. "That cant be good for any of us." I said to him as I put him in his stall next to his grandmother. I closed him in and started for the house. "Wish me luck." I said to them as I closed the bard door.
I went directly to the house, but didnt have long to wait to find out what the problem was. Standing on the porch, one muddy son, one muddy puppy and one pissed off wife. I couldnt help but laugh, which didnt get me any points with the wife.
"Think its funny do you?" She said as she crossed her arms.
"I can see a certain amount of humor here, yes." I said as I continued on toward the porch.
"Im glad youre amused warrior. Take these two mud balls with feet and get them cleaned up. They just brought most of it into the house."
"Well for Zeus sake Ri what do you expect after that storm last night?" I said with another laugh as I turned around and let Kai climb aboard for a trip to the well. I turned back around and retrieved the pup.
"Thats one." Ri warned as we headed for the well.
"Whats that mean Mom? Thats one " Kai asked as I piggy backed him to the well.
"Umm Im not sure, but it cant be good.
By the time we got around to the evening meal she had calmed down considerably. It probably didnt hurt that I stayed busy out in the back pasture trying to figure out a new irrigation system and Kai chose to play in his room with the puppy. Mel was spending a few days in the village with her staff instructors in preparation for her first ceremonial sparring match. She had quite a bit of time before the match, but she was determined to train for it. The twins were still small enough that together, Ri and Karra could handle them with no problem.
I sat at my place at the end of the table and waited for her to say something, anything. She was calmer, but she still wasnt happy. Apparently Kai and the yet to be named puppy had managed to track half the mud in Greece into the house. I just decided it was best to eat and wait for her. That was when I noticed it out of the corner of my eye. Oh the boy didnt do what I thought. I watched him and then I sat back and looked under the table, un-huh, one puppy eating a spoonful of vegetables. Oh this had disaster written ALL over it.
"Kai." I said softly. He looked to me and I shook my head. He sighed. Ri looked at me, looked at Kai and then looked under the table. My head dropped.
She looked at me, held up two fingers and mouthed, "Thats two." I nodded. Then I got up and retrieved the puppy. Even Kai knew better than to protest. I put the puppy in our room and closed the door. I hoped he would go in, lay down by the fire and go to sleep.
Retaking my seat at the table I looked to my wife. She smiled her approval and I felt the tension in the air ease a bit. At least wed get through this meal in one piece. It was after dinner that things went horribly wrong for my son and I. Ri and I had put the twins to bed and Kai and I played on the floor while Ri prepared to finish village business.
"Now where did I put that treaty?" She mumbled aloud as she ruffled the parchment on her desk. She got up and moved to our room and pushed the door open.
I cant describe the noises I heard next and since Ive been in such hot water lately for my language I wont bother to repeat anything that came out of Ris mouth at that moment. I scrambled to my feet and skidded to a halt behind her in the doorway. One wouldnt think that such a small puppy could do so much damage, but it was probably the shredded parchments that really sent her over the edge. They were in little pieces all over the room. I just KNEW this was three. It was probably four, five and six too.
I looked back at Kai who now had the pup that had escaped to room the second Ri had opened to the door. I turned back to my wife. I had never actually seen that shade of red before and that vein in the center of her forehead was QUITE visible at the moment. Now was a good time to duck and run. I wondered, as I scooped up the boy and the dog, if Tyldus would be able to see the roof come off the house.
"What?" Kai asked as we made for the front door.
"Your mother needs some space. Were giving it to her."
We ended up in the barn. One warrior, one son, one dog and two horses. Argo was laughing at me I just knew it. I looked over to her. She nodded her head and blew her lips at me. "Oh thanks pal." I said as I sat down in the straw. Kai came over and sat down between my legs with the pup.
"So how long are we going to stay out here?" He asked as he played with the dog I was now considering making into stew.
"Until its safe." I said remembering back on a time when I had paid the price for more than a week for just using one little corner of a scroll. "Could be awhile."
"So what do we do?"
"Well we may as well get comfortable I said as began unlacing my boots. The blankets that came hurling through the barn window were the key. I got up and retrieved the blankets and made a bed for my son and I. "Shes going to forgive us eventually, but for the night my boy, we are in the doghouse."
The Raising Melosa Series Continues with The Contest
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