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Xena: Choose Your own Adventure #2

CHAPTER #30 ----- THE FUGITIVE

H = 3 & 26, X = 25 & 28


Xena curled her lip and kneed Kaleipus in the chest.

"You shouldnít have fallen for that one twice!" she called as she jumped out the window she came in. She ran out of the village, her mind blocked of all things logical.

She arrived in the woods not long after that. She stopped when she came to a huge tree that had itís trunk caved in from erosion. She sat down, satisfied that she would be safe there.

She drifted off to sleep shortly after sure that no one was following her.

With this in mind, a scream awakened her.

Her eyes shot open, not knowing what to do next. She started to get up, but then sat herself back down, breathing slowly. Why was she so nervous? Was this what it was like to be a mother not knowing where her child was?

The scream echoed again throughout the woods. She sat up and followed the scream which had been sounded three more times.

"Who are you?" the blond boy asked when he heard footsteps. He was hanging upside down, his feet caught in a hunterís trap. He was facing the other way.

"Itís all right, itís just me," Xena said quietly, approaching him with caution.

"Xena?" Solan said happily. His voice made Xena smile, and somehow, it calmed her down.

"What were you doing up there?" Xena asked Solan as she cut the boy down. He fell in her arms.

"I... was looking for someone," he said, avoiding Xenaís eyes.

"Oh? And who might that be?" Xena asked, hoping he would say her name.

"Uh... Gabrielle. I wanted to hear another story," he said quickly. He still didnít make eye contact.

"Sheís back at the inn, you know that," Xena said slowly.

"Oh. I thought I saw her go for a walk," Solan hopped out of Xenaís arms. Xena left the conversation the way it was and started leading Solan out towards the edge of the woods. She stopped walking as soon as she came to the edge. She saw that the village was still sleeping. She knelt down to Solan.

"Can you keep a secret?" she asked him, holding both his hands.

"Yeah!" Solanís eyes went wide.

"Iím going to stay in the woods for the rest of the day. Iím... looking for someone, too. Do me a favor and tell Gabrielle to be ready to leave at dusk."

"Why are you leaving?" Solan asked, confused.

"Itís a long story, but Iím not wanted here," Xena said quickly. Solan nodded and started to run back to the village. Then he stop abruptly and ran back to Xena. Without any words, he hugged her tightly. Tears welled up in Xenaís eyes. He didnít look back as he ran into his village. Xena watched him until he opened his door. Kaleipus was there waiting, and seemed thrilled to see him. He hugged Solan and shut the door.

Xena bit her lip. She returned to her hiding place for the rest of the morning. She mostly slept, catching up on the sleep that she had missed from the recent days.

That afternoon, she stayed awake, sharpening her sword and eating a few berries. She put a cloak on and crept into town, replenishing food supplies for her trip.

At dusk, she sneaked back into the inn. When she opened the door to her room, she found Gabrielle pacing.

"Where were you? I was worried sick!" Gabrielle threw her hands up in the air.

"Get your stuff together, weíre leaving. First, I need to make a stop," Xena picked up a satchel that she had left in the room.

"Yeah, I know weíre leaving. Why did you send Solan to tell me that? Heís upset, you know. I can sense that he knows something isnít right," Gabrielle tilted her head to one side. Xena nodded.

"I know, that why Iím stopping at his house," Xena said casually.

"Are you crazy? Rumor is, Kaleipus wanted to kill you earlier! He thought that you kidnapped Solan! If he sees you..."

"He wonít," Xena opened the door and walked around the corner.

"Iíll meet you at Argo!" Gabrielle called out the door. She grabbed her staff and slammed the door behind her.

Before she realized it, Xena was opening Solanís window - again.

"Hey!" Solan cried as a strong hand was placed over his mouth. He looked at his intruder and then relaxed. Xena knelt by his bed and released her hand. "Xena! What are you doing here?" Solan said loudly.

Xena placed her finger over her lips. "I just came to say goodbye," she whispered.

"I still donít understand why youíre leaving. Is it something I did?" Solan asked innocently.

"No! No!" Xena shook her head. "I have to... do something somewhere else." Solan lowered his head. "Oh. Can I ask you a question?" he looked at Xena.

"You ask another one, if you want," Xena said. Solan giggled.

"Are you my mother?" the boy asked seriously. Xena was shocked at how he could just come out and ask the question. "A kid in my school told me you were, and I donít know if itís true."

"What did you tell your friend?" Xena asked, trying to avoid the answer to his question.

"Heís not my friend," Solan answered.

It was quiet. "I have to go now," Xena started towards the window.

"Wait - you forgot to answer my question! Are you?" Solan clasped his hands together tightly in his lap. Xenaís eyes welled up with tears.

"Yes," she answered quietly.

Solanís eyes went wide. "Then why has everyone been lying to me? Why didnít you tell me before? Why did you give me away?" his questions were all directed at Xena.

"No! I did not give you away! I let you stay here, because I loved you! I let you stay here because this is a good home for you! I didnít want to tell you the truth before because... because I was scared," Xena was almost bawling.

"Why? Then why did you have me at all?" Solanís questions were endless.

After an hour, there was a knock on the window. Xena spun around to see Gabrielle. She shrugged and pointed to the sky. Xena nodded and mouthed Iíll be there soon. Solan continued his questions.

At one silent interval, Xena stood up from her kneeling place. Her knees throbbed from staying in the same position for a whole hour.

Solan hugged Xena. Xena was surprised, but she hugged back. She felt like she had done the right thing, telling Solan the truth.

"Goodbye," Xena waved as she was about to climb out the window. She had explained everything to Solan, so Solan understood why he couldnít come along with her.

"Goodbye, Mom," Solan said as his mother climbed out of the window. That magic word made Xena stop moving. She turned back to her son and smiled. She looked at Gabrielle.

"Are you alright?" the bard asked. Xena nodded. She looked back in the window at her child.

She smiled to comfort herself - and her son.

THE END