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: Very mild.
Other: Part thirteen in the series "Raising Melosa".
Time Enough At Last
Gabrielle sat on the steps of the porch, holding onto Kai for dear life and Rosa and Kessa played together in the pen I had constructed for them. Melosa on the other hand stood with her arms crossed and tapped her foot impatiently as I walked across the yard with the pony in tow behind me.
"Ready Princess?" I ask as I tied the reigns to the post on the porch and knelt down to my daughter who at the moment looked really perturbed at me.
"Silly question." She said as she did a pretty fair imitation of raising her eyebrow.
"Okay thats fair. I guess Ive kept you waiting long enough. Come on." I lifted her up and settled her in the saddle. I adjusted the stirrups and placed her feet in them. "When you ride, make sure your foot never goes in further than this."
She looked at her feet and I showed her the proper position of her foot. "Why?" It was a fair question.
"Because if it does you could get tangled and not be able to get off. You could end up getting drug by your horse if you fall off."
"That," She paused as she considered her foot. "Would be bad." She finished, as she looked me square in the eye.
"Yes it would." I chuckled.
"Umm Xe could I talk to you?" Gabrielle cleared her throat a little as she called me over.
"Dont move." I patted Melosa on the knee and went to Gabrielle and knelt in front of her. "Yes my love."
"Do you really need to do this now? I mean," She threw a nervous glance at our eldest perched on top of her pony. "Couldnt we put this off until shes say twenty?"
"No dear. I told you all the children were going to learn to ride and this is the perfect age. Besides shell be starting her lessons and her training soon too. She wont have as much time for me."
My wife laid a gentle hand on my cheek. "Shell always have time for you warrior. Besides shes not quite five yet. Theres plenty of time."
"Not when it comes to our kids Ri. What if Theran hadnt given me my sight back? I wouldnt be able to do this at all."
She sighed and nodded. I kissed the palm of her hand and turned back to my daughter who watched us with her arms crossed against her chest.
"Finished?" She asked as I stood and returned to her. Ri was right she acted more and more like me everyday. Gods help us. Two of me running around in the world and one of us had a really bad attitude.
"Watch it young lady. I cant still turn you over me knee."
She dropped her head. "Yes maam." She lifted her head and looked at me. "Im sorry."
"Apologize to your mother."
She turned to Gabrielle and dropped her head again. She could always look me in the eye and apologize without blinking, but when she had to look at Gabrielle she never failed to tear up. She drew a ragged little breath and looked up. "Im Im sorry Momma." She sniffed, waiting for Gabrielle to respond.
Gabrielle nodded and gave her a smile. "Its okay. I know youre excited about riding today. Just mind your manners."
"Yes maam." She said as a single tear slipped down her cheek. I leaned over and brushed it away with my thumb. She turned and smiled at me.
"Ready to ride Princess?" I untied the reigns and placed them in her hands. I still had full control over the animal with the rope lead attached to the bridle.
"Yes maam." She said with renewed excitement as she held the reigns in her own hands for the first time. I put a little slack in the reigns before the pony revolted. She watched everything I did and I knew that she would only have to be shown a couple of times before she would naturally start performing these tasks of her own accord.
"Not too tight on the reigns Melosa. If you pull too hard youll hurt him. You have to be gentle, but firm with him okay?"
"Gentle, but firm " She repeated as she concentrated on the position of her hands.
I looked over at Ri, who now also had a smile on her face. Kai had wiggled loose and was headed for us.
Melosa wasnt having any of that. "Kai no." She said very firmly. It stopped him in his tracks and he stood there staring at his sister. "You could get hurt. Stay back. Youre not old enough yet."
Kai looked to me and I picked him up and gave him a hug. "Shes right buddy. Youre a little too small yet. For riding anyhow, nothing says you cant pet him."
I held Kai close to the pony and let him scratch the and pat it on the neck. "Horse?" He asked as he looked to me.
"Pony." I told him.
"Pony." He repeated.
"Very good. Pony."
"My pony." Melosa added.
Oh this had the potential to get ugly. It was time to get my girl riding before she started a war with her brother over her pony. I handed Kai back to Ri and Melosa and I started off into the yard. Gradually I let the lead out as I walked the animal in circles around the yard. I watched Melosa very carefully. Some people are born to ride, some arent. It would seem that Melosa had taken after me with this as well. She seated well and seemed to have a natural balance. I was almost as excited as she was. My little girl was going to be a natural on a horse.
I awoke early in the morning. Not that I was surprised by that fact. What did surprise me was that I seemed to be sharing my bed with an octopus. Im pretty sure it was her roaming hands that had woken me.
"Umm good morning Ri."
"Un-huh." She began kissing my shoulder and had soon moved to my neck. I started to put my arms around her only to have them pinned at my sides as she crawled on top of me and kissed the hollow of my throat. "Dont touch." She growled.
Within moments she had us both as bare as the day we were born. She remained on top of and sat up looking at me as her hands continued roaming over my body.
"Ri " My words were cut off by her kiss. Long, loving and passionate. I was finally allowed to wrap my arms around her. I could feel her need. Mine was growing just as rapidly as she sucked and nipped at my neck. "Ri honey " I ran my hands up and down her back regretting the next words I was going to say. "We cant "
"Why?" She moaned in my ear. "Its been so long "
The covers had been pushed to just below my waist. As I made my last stroke down her back I took them in hand and waited. "I know honey but " Oh Gods this felt so good. "Were about to " I quickly pulled the covers over us as the door to our room opened. "Have company."
She collapsed into me and ducked under the covers as Melosa came over to the bed and rested her arms and head on the mattress, staring at me with a grin that was half mine, half Ris and completely mischievous.
I hadnt brought the covers over us because we were unclothed. Being amazon, Melosa had always been around naked women. I had done it because I knew being caught would embarrass Ri. I was right. I could feel her shaking with silent giggles as I looked over at Melosa.
"Watcha doin?" She asked.
"Just waking up. What did I tell you about knocking first?"
She looked back at the door and then back to me. "Im sorry. Is Momma under there?"
"Yes she is." I got a poke in the ribs.
"Why is she all covered up?"
"Im not sure at this point." Another poke in the ribs as Ri brought her head out from under the covers and rested it on my shoulder to face Melosa.
"Good morning Momma." This was a truly evil child.
"Good morning sweetie. Do you need something?"
I chuckled silently as I heard Ri sigh. "Then why have you disturbed us?" Ris voice was firm.
"Umm Aunt Ephiny is here. She says she needs you."
A deep breath and then a frustrated little moan from my wife. "Tell her Ill be right out."
"Yes maam." She leaned up and kissed Ri on the cheek and then kissed me on the nose.
"Eeewww " I said as she winked at me and ran from the room, pulling the door shut behind her.
"Shes coming Aunt Eph." I heard her say as the door closed.
She sat up as I started to say something incredibly crass. "Not a damn word warrior." She growled. I grinned. "Oh this had better be important." She grumbled as she got out of bed and got dressed. She turned and looked at me. "Arent you going to get up?"
"Mel said Eph needed to see you not me."
"Oh no. If I have to get up so do you."
"Because if you dont Ill send in six of my best warriors to drag you out of that bed."
"Better send more than six." I said as I stretched out and placed my hands behind my head.
"Yeah well Ill just bet Ep and Solari would just love the opportunity to tell stories about "
"Im up. Im up." I said as I got out of bed and grabbed a tunic and a pair of trousers from the chest at the foot of the bed. As I finished dressing she wrapped her arms around my waist.
"Can we finish this conversation later?" She purred.
"Of course my love."
She pulled my head down for one last kiss. It began growing in intensity. I had to break away before Eph was completely forgotten. She managed to give my bottom lip a light nip before grumbling something about strangling the Regent and stalking out the door.
Melosa and I were in the barn tending to our horses when Ri came in. She stood leaning against the wall of the stall where the pony was kept. She watched as Melosa brushed the pony. She looked over at me as I brushed Argo and as our eyes met she just shook her head and smiled.
"Melosa?" I said never taking my eyes off Ri.
"I think hes had enough for today. Why dont you go back to the house and get cleaned up."
"Yes maam." Melosa put all her things away and gave Ri a kiss on the way out. Ri watched from the door until Melosa made it to the house. Then she pulled the door shut and turned to face me.
I could see it in her face. I decided to play with her just a little and I began tossing fresh straw in Argos stall. "Yes dear? Something I can do for you?"
I felt her arm around my waist and then we fell into the pile of straw. "You do know the penalty for denying the Queen, warrior?"
"But Your Majesty Ive denied you nothing "
"You talk to much." She brought her lips to mine hard enough to bruise. She pulled my tunic from my trousers. I was half undressed when Solaris voice cut through the air.
"Xena? Where are you?"
Ri rolled away from me with a loud groan. I managed to get myself dressed and sitting up in the straw as the door to the barn opened. Solari came in as I stood and crossed the distance between us. I had no desire for her to hear the frustrated whimpers of her Queen.
"Are you ready? She asked as she glanced over my shoulder.
"Ready? Ready for what?"
"The training session for the first season warriors."
"Oh gee Sol I forgot. Let me go change, Ill meet you on the training field."
"Okay." Sol paused and turned away pulling me with her. "Is she okay?"
"Oh yeah Im great." Ri growled as she got up and stalked out past us.
"Are you "
"Shes fine. Were just having a little trouble finding time for each other right now."
"Hey if you dont want to "
"No, no its part of my duties. Ill be there in a little bit."
Training went much longer than we expected. By the time I got back to the house the sun was going down and my family was sitting down for the evening meal. I stopped on the porch and took my boots off. They were caked in mud and I didnt want to endure the wrath of Cook and Karra, the two amazons who kept our house running smoothly when Ri and I were busy. They were both older women chosen to serve as nannies for the children. In addition they preformed other duties for us to keep everything in order.
I opened the door taking once last glance over my shoulder at the storm rolling in. It was going to be ugly. Karra met me and took my boots, handing me a pair of heavy wool covers for my bare feet.
"Everyone else is waiting for you. Now get washed up and get in there to your family."
"Yes maam." I grinned. I loved Karra. She reminded me a lot of my own mother and was not the least bit shy about throwing her considerable weight around.
I joined my family at the table. I took a deep breath as the tired in my body finally started to settle in. Another tough little bunch of warriors, Ri should be proud. Cook brought my meal out and poured my tea as I looked around the table. Melosa picked at her vegetables as usual, trying to figure some way to get rid of them without actually eating them. Kai was just getting the hang of a spoon and he had more food on his face than he did in his mouth. Ri has Kessa in her arms and was feeding her soft food. I started to get up to get Rosa, but Ri just motioned for me to sit back down.
"Shes already been fed and is in bed Xe. She running a little fever." I started to get up again. "Sit down and eat. Shes fine. I think its her teeth more that anything. She going to have problems with them just like Melosa did."
"Did what?" Melosa perked up at the mention of her name.
"You had tough little gums. Your teeth were afraid to come through." I said as I reached over and took a carrot off her plate holding it out to her.
She looked at me, looked at the carrot and then looked back at me. "You first." She said as she crossed her arms.
I took the carrot and popped it in my mouth. She relented and began eating the carrots on her plate.
"So how was training?" Ri asked as she spooned more food into Kessa.
"It was good. A small group, that always helps. Theyre going to be just fine."
"Glad to hear it. So do you have any plans for tomorrow?"
"Umm well yeah." I didnt even want to look at her. "Ep and I have to go over to the centaur village and pick up those supplies we traded the grain for." I finally looked up she just gave me a knowing nod and continued to feed the baby.
"Can I go?" Melosa was out of her chair and had her arms wrapped around me. "Please?"
"Well I dont care if its okay with your momma."
"Please Momma. Can I go?" She asked as she ran to the other end of the table.
"Get down there and finish every last bite of your dinner and you may go." Ri said with a smile as she caressed Melosas cheek.
"Yes maam." Mel returned to her seat and began eating so fast I was afraid she would choke.
"Hey were not going til morning. You can slow down. Take your time."
"Yes maam." She replied her mouth so full I could barely understand her.
With the evening meal complete. We settled into our routine. I sharpened weapons and cleaned my armor as Ri told the children a story. The advantages to have a bard for a mother. I dont think Mel had ever heard the same story twice. I turned my sword over in my hands. It was nice to have it back. Ep had taken really good care of it, but now it was back where it truly belonged. Almost as soon as my vision had been returned Ep had made it quite clear that she wanted me to take back my position as Ris champion. She said she just didnt feel right holding on to it when I was perfectly capable. Truth be told, I was glad to accept.
I looked up. Kai was sound asleep in his mothers arms and Melosa was very close to asleep with her head resting on Ris leg. Ri continued with her story, even though she knew most of her audience was asleep. I saw in her face a contentment that I never would have believed possible, but there it was. This woman was truly and utterly happy. She cradled Kai to her as she stroked Melosas hair and quietly finished the story.
I put my sword away and stood to get Melosa. As I picked her up I could tell she was really out. She was dead weight and such a big girl now. This was not the baby my wife held in her arms so long ago as I watched them from my spot on the floor. I hefted her into my shoulder and took her to her room. I tucked her into bed and gave her a soft kiss on the forehead. I checked her sisters and then quietly left the room, closing the door behind me.
Ri was coming back in from putting Kai down for the night. As she wrapped her arms around me and we made our way back to the fireplace the storm began to rage outside.
We settled onto the floor in front of the fire, with wine and the storm, the mood had never been more perfect.
Perfect that was until one of the babies woke up. I sighed and went into the room. Rosa was sitting up reaching out for me. My guess would have been that between going to bed early, not feeling well and the storm. She had taken just about all she could stand. I tried to get her back down, but she just held onto me and I finally gave it up and carried her back out into the main room. When I sat down next to Ri, Rosa reached for her immediately. Ri took her and cradled her close whispering comforting words to her. We ended up in bed with her between us. She finally settled down and went to sleep cradled in the crook of Ris arm. I watched them in the candlelight as Ri drifted off. I could only smile knowing my poor wife was suffering and all I could do was try to find the time.
Ep and Melosa were off doing some trading with the centaurs while Tyldus and I loaded the wagon.
"How are things for you my friend?" He asked as he passed me a crate.
"Over all things are great, but if Ri and I dont get some time alone soon, shes just going to explode."
"Hmm that could be interesting. Ill watch for it." He said with a chuckle as he handed me another crate. "I should be able to see the roof come off your house from here."
"You know if you cant offer a constructive idea dont say anything at all."
"Actually I can. Come with me."
On the trip home Ep drove the wagon with Melosa riding next to her and I rode. We were coming close to Solans house and I needed to see my son for a few moments.
"Ep can you take Mel home and tell Ri I stopped to see Solan and that Ill be home as soon as possible."
"Mother can I go to Solans?"
"Not this trip sweetie. Next time. Be good for Aunt Ep."
"Yes maam." She said with a defeated little tone.
"Well dont act so disappointed." Ep said to Mel as they headed back toward the house. "Or I wont tell you whats in that bag by your feet "
After seeing Solan I headed home. I felt good and hoped I would be able keep my little secret from Ri until morning. As I made my way from the stables she met me half way.
"Hows Solan?" She wrapped her arm around me as we continued to the house.
"Oh hes fine. I stopped to see how the corral was coming. Tyldus is going to have a few horses for him soon and I wanted to make sure he had everything ready."
"And does he?"
"Of course he does hes our son."
The next morning I was up early and had Argo saddled and ready to go. When I got back to the house I filled Cook and Karra in on my plans. They agreed and took complete charge of the house. If all had gone well, Ep would have told Ephiny the night before. Since I hadnt heard from her I took it as a good sign.
I went into our room and sat down on the edge of the bed. She still slept and I hated to wake her, but it would be worth it. "Ri, honey wake up."
"Noooo." She pulled the blankets over her head.
"Sweetheart I have a surprise for you, but you have to get up."
I leaned down and pulled her up behind me. All our good-byes were said. Solan had agreed to come over and take care of the more demanding chores. Now all we had to do was just ride away. I could feel her looking back at the children as we rode away from our family for the first time since Melosa had been born. I caressed her arms. "Theyll be fine." I said as I tightened my hold on her.
"I know." She settled in behind me. "Now are you going to tell me where were going?"
"Nope." I heard her growl. I just smiled.
As we approached our destination I reigned Argo and helped her down. I dismounted and took her hands into mine. "You trust me right?" I asked as I pulled out a blindfold.
"After all these season? You still have to ask?" She turned her back to me and allowed me to put the blindfold on.
I guided her to our destination and pulled the cover back. Tyldus had been good to his word. The cave had everything we would need, from firewood to food supplies. In the back of the cave a warm spring ran into a pool. A bed of thick furs had been made near the fire pit and everything was perfect. I lit a torch and let the cover fall back into place.
"Xe come on now "
"Patience my love patience." I took her to the bed and sat her down. She ran her hands over the soft furs and smiled. I started a fire and then turned and knelt between her legs. I took the blind fold off and let her get a look at our temporary home.
"When did you do all this?" She said as she wrapped her arms around me.
"Actually I had some help.
She took my face in her hands and gave me a soft kiss. "I love you."
"I love you too."
I held her in my arms the next morning, stroking her back and enjoying the sensation that ran through the both of us. This place had been perfect and just what we needed. She began stirring and nuzzled into my shoulder with a long content sigh. "Happy my love?" I asked as I place a soft kiss on her forehead.
"Oh yeah, so very, very happy. This was wonderful Xe. Thank you."
"Anything for you my love."
"You know what this reminds me of?"
"Being on the road. Making love whenever and wherever we wanted. No responsibilities to anyone but ourselves."
"Seems like a lifetime ago doesnt it?"
"It does. You know what?" She looked into my eyes as she caressed my face.
"Im ready to go home."
"Argos already saddled." I smiled at her and gave her a light kiss.
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