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By: Stephanie "XenaG" Gugle
Disclaimer: This story has some violence, but nothing major...just PG stuff...no subtext.
Characters belong to Universal...no infringement meant....Mel and family belong to me.
This adventure finds Xena and Gabrielle as always, following a road to some village in need of their help. Xena is leading Argo as she listens to Gabrielle chatter on about her latest tale.
"....and the warrior princess once again saved the day. So what did you think about that story?" asked Gabrielle.
"Hmmm" was the only reply from Xena, who really wasn't listening to her friend.
"Xena, are you listening to me? Hey! Have you heard a word I said?" Gabrielle asked becoming a little irritated at her best friend who had not paid attention to her story.
"Huh? Oh, yes Gabrielle, lovely story," Xena said looking sheepishly at her friend, "Sorry, I guess my mind is elsewhere today. The village isn't to far from here, you can try your story out there, for a better audience I'm sure. And this time, I will try to listen to it too, okay?"
Gabrielle looks like she wants to pursue the argument, but see's that something is troubling the warrior princess and let's the subject drop with, "Ok, we need a little money anyway. I just hope there isn't a bard there already."
The two friends traveled the rest of the day in silence, both caught up in their own thoughts. Gabrielle, unusually quiet, was wondering what was wrong with Xena. Xena, well Xena was troubled by a lot of things, but one thing in particular today. The village they were coming up on had been a target of hers in her warlord days. She hoped they wouldn't meet any trouble there because of her past. Although she knew she couldn't get rid of Gabrielle, she regretted what Gabrielle had to go through, often because of her. But she had tried many times to persuade the girl not to travel with her, and everytime she lost the battle. 'And,' she thought to herself, 'I am glad I lost that battle! Without Gabrielle, I would have been lost.'
Nightfall found Xena and Gabrielle camping under the stars once again. They would reach the village by midday the next day. Tonight after eating, Xena decided to tell Gabrielle about this village, FoxBurrow, which had once been occupied by the mighty Warrior Princess. Argo snorted for attention, so Xena went and gave her four legged friend the attention she deserved, while thinking about what to tell Gabrielle. During this time, Gabrielle had made up her mind to make Xena tell her what was wrong. She did not interrupt the private time Xena had with her house, but waited for her to come back to the fire.
When Xena finally walked back into camp, she expected to find Gabrielle asleep. However, Gabrielle was doing what Xena usually does, gazing into the fire.
Gabrielle heard Xena approaching and glanced up to see a smirking Xena. "Have we switched bodies and no one told me?"
Gabrielle didn't understand at first, but then she smiled, "No, I was just thinking. I guess you are rubbing off on me." Gabrielle then said, "Xena, we need to talk."
Xena looked over at her friend and sighed, "Yes, we do. I need to tell you something about FoxBurrow and my past."
Gabrielle chuckled, "Xena, is there any village you don't have a past with?"
Xena smiled, "Yes, but not many." The mood lightened, Xena hated to dampen it, but Gabrielle had a right to know.
"Several years ago," Xena began, "my army passed through this way. The main body of army stayed in those hills not too far from here, but I took a small scouting party out to search this area. I told my army to stay put, I didn't know how long we would be away, but I would send a messenger periodically to keep both of us informed. Then I rode off with about seven of my men. Two of them were brothers, Jared and Joseph."
Xena stopped for a moment to prepare herself to relive this obviously painful memory. Gabrielle moved closer to show Xena she supported her. "You don't have to do this Xena. It's your past, we are here in the present."
"Yes I do Gabrielle. FoxBurrow is the village we are headed into. I want you prepared in case they hold it against me. Anyway, Jared and Joseph had always been close, so instead of separating them, I took both of them, although Joseph wasn't a very good soldier. At this time, Jared and I were very close, so of course he had to come with me. After Burias, I didn't have much to do with men in my army, until Jared. We had been together about a year at this time. When we found FoxBurrow, Jared told me that he was leaving my army and wanted me to come with him. I was furious because I had no idea and no one ever left my army, alive anyway. He said Joseph was unhappy and they were going to settle in the next town we came to. What Jared didn't know was that I was pregnant. I was going to tell him on this trip and not make the same mistake I had made with Solon. However, after he told me he was leaving, I used it as a weapon. After I told him and we argued, we decided to stay in FoxBurrow, at least until after the baby was born. I sent everyone back to the army with orders to wait until they heard from me." Xena now stops, tears in her eyes. Gabrielle tries to comfort her, but knows she can't, so she just hugs her and tells her that is enough for tonight.
"You can finish the story in the morning. Right now let's rest." Gabrielle leads Xena over to her blanket, knowing she won't get much sleep if any. Then, she goes over to her own blanket and is asleep almost at once.
The next morning, Xena resumed her narrative after breakfast. "We settled into town, even though everyone kept their distance. I stayed inside the whole time, but Jared roamed around during the day. He found a woman to come take care of me. Her name was Lyla. She had a sister, Karen, that Joseph had begun to follow about like a puppy. After a couple of weeks it was obvious that Jared was no longer in love with me, but he was in love with Lyla. Lyla was about your height, Gabrielle, with sandy colored hair and blue eyes. Karen had blond hair and blue eyes. Jared was very handsome, but rough around the edges. Lyla had begun to soften him. It was about time for the baby to be born and I knew there was no hope of winning Jared back, so I made a decision. A couple of nights later, the baby was born. Everyone left Jared and I alone, and I did the unthinkable again. Somehow I managed to knock Jared out and I left our daughter in his arms. I went to my horse and managed to make it back to camp. My army didn't know anything that had happened and prepared to attack the village for what they thought they had done to me. I managed to tell one of them not to kill anyone in the village before I passed out. Later I heard that many of the villagers had been killed, among them a baby girl. So I left this place never to return until I got a message from Lyla to come, that the village was in danger." Xena was emotionally spent after this story. Gabrielle packed their stuff on Argo and they prepared to head out.
"Xena, they must not hold it against you if they are asking for your help," stated Gabrielle.
"You never know, Gabrielle. It may be a trick to pay me back for the past. However, that was another time and another place and either way I had to come," was all Xena, who had a far off look in her eyes, would say for the rest of the journey.
They went straight to the tavern when they reached the village. Lyla met them at the door, "Hello Xena. Is this your bard friend? Gabrielle I believe. Yes, we have heard all about your recent exploits for good. That is why we asked for your help. A warlord is headed our way. We sent for Hercules as well. He should be arriving today also. Xena, there is someone I want you to meet."
Lyla walks towards two girls playing. One has dark hair, the other light. "Xena, this is Mel and Jada."
Xena stares in amazement. Mel has got blue eyes that mirror her own. Xena looks at Lyla and Lyla says, "Yes, this is your daughter. Jared managed to get most of us to safety. We know you didn't order that attack. Jared knew what you were planning. We had Joseph follow you, just to make sure you made it safely. He heard what you told them and managed to get back just before the attack. Jared got Mel, me, and Karen out of town and was going back for more when your army attacked. Joseph was killed, but Jared survived, barely." Lyla stopped when she saw Xena's face.
Xena's eyes had never left Mel's face. The girl was about eight, and had dark hair and eyes like her mother. She was tall and strong for her age. "Hello, are you my mother?" was all the girl said.
Xena looked at Lyla and saw Lyla shake her head. "Yes, I'm Xena. This is my best friend, Gabrielle."
To Xena's surprise, Mel ran over to her and hugged her. Xena who had been kneeling, stood up with her daughter in her arms. Tears were rolling down her face. "Let's go for a walk and you can show me around," Xena said to Mel who agreed at the chance to finally meet her mother.
Gabrielle and Lyla found a table and sat down. "Xena told me what happened until she left. Will you tell me the rest?" asked Gabrielle.
"Okay. Well, after the attack, Jared and I were married. He was sorry about what happened to Xena, but he wanted to move on. Jada was born two years later. Karen was pregnant with Joseph's children, twin girls Mae and Leah. Unfortunately, Karen hates Xena, as do the girls, because she still believes that it was her fault that Joseph is dead. They left a few years ago, and I haven't heard from her since. Jared and I decided to tell Mel the truth. She accepted it and has grown to look very much like Xena. Jared died last year," and with that, the story ended.
Gabrielle got Xena and herself a room as well as a job as bard. She was to start that night, so she went to their room to prepare, wondering what Xena and Mel were doing.
Meanwhile, Xena was being lead through the town by a very happy eight year old Mel. "...and this is the...," Mel continued, but Xena didn't hear a word of it.
"Let's go for a walk through the meadow and talk," offered Xena.
"Okay, I will show you my special place, but no one else knows about it so you can't tell anyone. It is where I go to be alone," stated Mel.
"Okay, can I tell Gabrielle though? She is my best friend, like a sister, and she won't tell anyone," inquired Xena, happy at being accepted and included by her child.
Mel thought a moment and said, "All right, but on one condition."
Xena looked at the child and saw a playful look and said, "You name it."
"Can I call Gabrielle Aunt Gabrielle?" Mel asked hopefully.
"She wouldn't have it any other way!" stated a very happy Xena.
Xena was so happy that she didn't realize they were being watched. A blond woman and two young girls were watching from the woods. "Come on, back to camp. They will be in town for a little while, so we know where to find them," stated the blond with no emotion.
We now find Xena and Mel well hidden in Mel's secret place. It is a cave, whose mouth is hidden by brush and it is invisible unless you know where to look, which according to Mel was only her.
"This is a great hiding place. I like it," Xena told her daughter. "Can we talk?"
"Yes, there are many things I want to ask you. Can I call you mother?" asked a very excited and suddenly shy Mel.
"I would love that! Ask me anything and I will tell you if I know the answer," said Xena.
"Is that your horse? Can I ride her? Why did you hurt people? What made you change? Are you going to stay here with me and Lyla?" Mel asked, overcome with curiosity.
"Yes, Argo is my horse and I will give you a ride later when we get back to town. I was very confused, but Hercules, and then Gabrielle, came along and helped me see that I should help people, not hurt them. I will stay for now, but no matter what happens, I will always love you and be here for you!" said a very emotional Xena. She knew she should stay here with Mel, but she had wanderlust. However, she remembered Solon and decided to let things play out as they would.
They talked a little while longer and then headed back for town. When they got there, they went to the stables to get Argo. She nickered when she saw her mistress. "Argo, this is Mel, my daughter. She wants a ride, can you do that girl?"
Mel was amazed at this exchange between her mother and horse, and even more amazed when Argo shook her head yes. "Wow, this is a great horse! Hi Argo."
Xena saddled Argo and lead her outside. She jumped into the saddle and then helped Mel up in front of her. "Okay, hold on!" shouted Xena, and with a yell they were off.
The town was happy for Mel to finally have her mother, although some were still wary of the warrior princess.
Xena took Mel on a wild ride. Argo flew like the wind, but was also very careful, knowing she had someone special to her mistress on her back.
Argo sensed them first and stopped, ears forward. Xena became her usual warrior self and jumped from the saddle, thankful she had her weapons. "Argo, if anything happens, get her back to Gabrielle," whispered Xena to her beloved horse. To Mel she said, "If Argo starts running, just hang on, she knows what she is doing. Can you ride?"
"Oh yes. I am the best rider in town. Father always said I took after you."
"Good. Just do what I tell you, ok?"
"Okay," a slightly frightened Mel answered.
The five men stepped out of the shadows to meet Xena. "Boys, you don't want to do this. Just turn around and I'll let you walk away."
They started laughing, "We know who you are, Warrior Princess, and we also know how to stop you! Just give us the girl and you can go free."
"Well, I gave you your chance," and with her usual war cry, she met the men head on. Meanwhile, two young girls had began to sneak up on Mel. Argo sensed them and took off back towards town. The girls tried to give chase, but soon gave up.
When Xena finally knocked the last man out, she turned to find Argo and Mel gone. 'I hope Argo took off with her and not someone else,' thought Xena. Then she said aloud, "Great, I have to walk back to town."
When Xena finally made it back to town, she was happy to see Mel talking about her first adventure with her mother. When the girl looked up and saw Xena coming up the street, she smiled and ran to meet her. "I'm glad you are okay, I was worried. Gabrielle said you were good at that kind of thing. Can you teach me?" pleaded a young Mel.
Xena saw herself in those pleading eyes. "We'll see, right now I need to talk to Gabrielle and Lyla. Can you get her for me?"
"Oh yes. I'll be right back," said a very excited Mel as she ran off to find her stepmother.
"Aunt Gabrielle is glad to see Mama Xena happy," stated a smiling Gabrielle. "Whose idea was it to call me 'Aunt', not that I mind. You know I consider you my sister."
"It was a mutual decision. I thought you would approve, however, right now we have a larger problem," said Xena. Gabrielle could tell by the look on her face she wasn't kidding either.
Xena and Gabrielle are deep in conversation when Lyla walks up. "Mel says you want to talk to me. What's wrong?"
"Five men jumped me, and Mel told Gabrielle that two girls tried to grab her, but Argo took off before they could. Lyla, I'm afraid those girls were Mel's cousins, Mae and Leah. What do you know about this warlord that is coming this way?" asked a very concerned Xena.
"Well, we haven't heard a lot, except it is a woman and she is ruthless. I think I heard that her name is Callisto, or something like that," Lyla said, "Have you heard of her?"
"Just great! This is just what we need, a crazed goddess after us. Xena, what are we going to do?" asked a slightly frightened Gabrielle.
Xena looked towards the far end of town and said, "Well, first we need some help. And here it comes now."
At that moment, Hercules and Iolaus walked up. "Xena, Gabrielle. How are you doing?"
Xena filled them in on their situation. "Got any ideas? Xena why is Callisto after this village and why are these two girls after Mel?" asked Iolaus.
Xena and Gabrielle looked at each other and an understanding look passed between them. "Hercules, Iolaus, I have something to tell you. The short version of this story is that Mel is my daughter. Those two girls are her cousins. Gabrielle can fill you in on the whole story later."
"Xena, you're a mother? I would really like to meet your offspring. Is she anything like you?" asked a very surprised Hercules.
"Well, she looks like me and I see myself in her, yes. However, you can't meet all of my 'offspring'. My son is not here. I'll have to introduce you to Solon some other time. Lyla, would you go get Mel for me?" Xena asked, as a very confused Hercules and Iolaus looked at her. "No one but you guys know about my children and I would like to keep in that way for this reason, to protect them. In fact, Solon doesn't know I am his mother. Now don't look at me like that you two. Get Gabrielle to tell you the whole story. Hercules, Iolaus, this is Mel."
Mel looked at her mother, then at Hercules. "Are you really Hercules?"
Hercules bends down to shake her hands, "Yes I am. Mel you are very pretty. You look just like your mother."
"Mel, you go with Lyla and stay inside. We have some work to do," said a very serious Xena.
"Yes mother. Come on Lyla, me and Jada got something to show you," said an unconcerned Mel, not knowing what was about to take place.
Xena, Gabrielle, Hercules, and Iolaus began to form a plan to defeat Callisto. They had it all worked out and were headed back to the inn when Lyla came out screaming, "Xena, their gone. Mel and Jada are gone. I turned my head and then they were gone."
Xena ran to the inn with her friends in tow. There was a note on a table to Xena. It read, 'Xena, you know where to find me and your daughter. Come and get her.' Tears were in Xena's eyes. She leaned on Hercules, whose strong arms comforted her as best he could. When Xena finally pulled herself together, she said, "Forget the plan. I'm going after Mel. Are you guys coming?" And with that the four friends prepared to go after the girls and Callisto.
Xena went to Lyla and said, "Don't worry, I will get them back! Right now I need you to get the villagers together, tell them what happened, and organize them in case we need them to help us. When you have done that come back here. You are going with us. Okay?"
Lyla was in shock about losing the girls. However, she did catch enough of what Xena said to carry out the task, "Okay, I'll be back."
Xena paced back and forth in the inn. Gabrielle, Hercules, and Iolaus looked from Xena to each other. Gabrielle finally spoke, "Xena, what's the plan? Mel and Jada will be fine, after all Mel is your daughter and I know she will be able to take care of herself and Jada."
Xena looked up at Gabrielle, gave a little smile and said, "Yes, I know they will be all right, at least until I can find them. This is a plan of revenge against me for several people. Obviously Callisto, Mae, Leah, and Karen have teamed up to get back at me, each united in their hate for me. Unfortunately, I don't have a plan except to get my daughter back!" Xena stopped pacing when Lyla walked back in.
"The villagers are ready to help, they await your orders. I am also ready to go," stated a still emotionless Lyla.
"Okay, let's go get our kids back then," said Xena.
Meanwhile, Mel and Jada are huddled in Callisto's tent. Mel is comforting a very frightened Jada, who is trying to be brave. Callisto is pacing the length of her tent. She looks over and sees Mel watching her, "Don't worry dear, mommy will be here. I am just trying to figure out what to do with you after I kill her."
As Callisto finishes speaking, Mae and Leah walk into the tent. Mae, the outspoken of the two, walks over to Mel and says, "Sorry cuz, I don't hate you , I hate your mother."
"Why? We are so young. Where has all of your hate come from? Please Mae, don't so this. Mother didn't kill Uncle Joseph. Why do you think she did?" asks Mel, trying to understand how an eight year old like herself can have so much hate.
"Mother says it was Xena's army who killed Father. It's the same thing as far as I'm concerned. Anyway, you wouldn't understand, you had a father and Lyla. Like I said, I am sorry you have to be in the middle of this, but it must be. And now with Callisto's help, mother can finally have justice," Mae exclaimed, grabbing Leah and leaving the tent.
Mel looks over at Callisto who has been watching her, "What? Where is Aunt Karen anyway? I would like to talk to her."
Callisto motions for a guard to go get the woman. He returns leading a very haggard looking Karen. "Hello Mel, Jada. I didn't want all of this to happen. Mae just became consumed with this hatred and of course Leah follows Mae. Please forgive me, I just wanted justice for Joseph's death."
"Well, you're gonna get it! Xena and all of her friends will be dead before long. Mel, do you know why I hare her so much? No, well let me give you the short version. She destroyed my village, and killed my family and then let me die when she could have saved me. However, she did help me become a goddess. Ah, I see you are beginning to comprehend what your dear sweet mother has done. She didn't tell you all this did she?" says a satisfied Callisto. She leaves a stunned Mel with a still frightened Jada and Karen.
"Aunt Karen, did my mother, I mean Xena, really do what Callisto said?" asks Mel.
"Yes, I'm afraid she did. However, she has changed. Mel, I will try to get you and Jada out of here," states Karen.
"Aren't you coming with us?" asks Mel.
"No, I have let my hate destroy me. Watch for my signal, then get out of here. If something happens to me, stay here, your mother will be here," says Karen.
Callisto, who was just outside, overhears all of this and plans to keep Karen from accomplishing her planned rescue.
The four warriors and Lyla moved further away from the village, and deeper into the forest. Xena seemed to be drawn in that direction, and no one questioned her about how she knew where to go. Xena was simply following an unseen force, trusting her instinct to guide her.
"I don't think it is much further. Gabrielle, you and Lyla find the girls. Hercules, Iolaus, you guys just do what you do best. I'm going to find Callisto. I know she's a goddess, but I will keep her busy while you guys get the girls," said Xena.
"If needed, Xena, I can call in a few favors from the gods," stated Hercules.
"Thanks, okay let's do it," exclaimed Xena.
They split into three very determined groups, each with their own mission.
Mel sat quietly, thinking about what she had just learned. Xena, the woman she had begun to love, had killed little children, like herself. "How could she?" muttered Mel.
"She's not bad anymore Mel," said Jada.
Mel just looked at her. Then, just as she was about to reply, her Aunt Karen came in the tent. She had the keys to the cage and let them out. "Come on, I think your mother is close by," said a frightened Karen.
The three of them silently made their way outside, only to find themselves surrounded. "I knew you would betray me," said Callisto. "Mae, you know what to do."
Mae steps forward with a knife in her hand. "What are you doing?" asks Leah.
"I'm going to clear our way of all obstacles. Including Mother," stated Mae.
Karen stepped in between the girls and her daughter, "Mae, stop right now."
"No, you are just in the way," said Mae.
Leah ran over to her mother. Karen pushed her other daughter behind her as well. Mae drew back to throw the knife. To everyone's surprise, Karen was not hit. Instead, Mel, who had pushed everyone out of the way, was hit. Right then, Xena and friends appeared. Xena arrived just in time to see Mel get hit. "Nooooo!"
Everyone turned. Gabrielle and Lyla ran up. Jada ran into her mothers arms. Gabrielle placed herself between them and danger. Hercules and Iolaus dispersed the surprised army who scattered, in shock from what they had just witnessed. All who were left in the clearing was Lyla, Jada, Karen, Leah, Gabrielle, Hercules, Iolaus, Xena, Mel, Mae, and Callisto. Even Callisto seemed to be in awe.
"Callisto," screamed Xena.
Xena lunged at Callisto, knocking her to the ground. "Come on Callisto, don't use your powers. A fair fight between me and you. Or do you think you need your powers to defeat me?" challenged Xena.
"Ok Xena. A fair fight, so keep your friends out of it," replied Callisto.
Xena turned to Gabrielle, Hercules, and Iolaus, "If something happens to me, get Mel out of here, leave the fighting to Hercules and Iolaus. Make sure the others get out of here too. Take care of her for me Gabrielle," said Xena.
Xena turned and faced off with Callisto. For a moment they circled. Everyone watched, hoping Xena knew what she was doing. Gabrielle had Mel in her lap and they were both watching with great intensity.
True to her word, Callisto did not use her powers. Swords crashed, punches and kicks were delivered, and wills battled. Xena was physically stronger, but Callisto was cunning. The battle raged on, neither woman giving any ground, but Xena was beginning to tire. Finally, Xena took Callisto down, but when she was about to pounce on her, Callisto said, "See you soon my sweet," and with that she was gone.
Xena turned and ran over to where Mel lay.
"Mel, I'm so sorry I wasn't here. Just hang on...hang on to me," Xena said crying. She looked up at Gabrielle, then to Hercules with pleading eyes.
"Ahhhhh," screamed Mae.
"Noooo, Mae, NO!" screamed Karen as Mae collapsed in her arms. "I never meant to hurt Mel, tell her I am sorry," said Mae as her life left her small body.
"Mother, I'm sorry I didn't believe in you. I know what you did to Callisto was a long time ago. I'm sorry..." gasped Mel.
Several days later, after Mae's funeral pyre had been burned, village life was returning to normal. Karen and Leah were staying with Lyla and Jada. They were trying to get their life back together.
Hercules and Iolaus had left a couple of days after the "battle". "We would stay, but we are needed elsewhere." Xena and Gabrielle said they understood.
Xena and Gabrielle had been keeping a constant watch on Mel, who was recovering nicely. Xena had decided to settle down here, at least for a while. "I can't leave until I know Mel is okay. And after that, I just don't know."
Xena would go for long walks, usually alone, in the afternoons. Gabrielle knew Xena had a decision to make and she also knew when Xena was ready, she would tell her everything.
Mel recovered fully after a couple of months rest. Xena was getting restless, Gabrielle knew this was hard for her, but her decision had been made. One day, Xena, Mel, Gabrielle, and Argo went to Mel's secret place. "I need to talk to you Mel," said Xena.
"You're leaving aren't you?" asked Mel.
"Yes, we are. And I want you to stay here with Lyla and protect the village. I will come see you every chance I get and if you ever need me, I will be here. In a few years, I'll teach you some fighting skills, if you still want me to, ok?" Xena said, tears in her eyes.
"I guess so. Why do you have to leave? Why can't I come with you? Why did Callisto want to hurt us? Why did you hurt Callisto's family?" asked Mel.
"I have to go help people. I have to go take care of the bad guys. I would love it if you could come with me, but I don't want people to hurt you to hurt me. Plus, Lyla needs you, just like the village does. Callisto hates me and wants to hurt me by hurting everyone I love. A long time ago, when I was bad, my army attacked Callisto's village. I don't know how, but the village caught on fire and everyone but Callisto died in the fire. She blames me for it, and I guess she is right, but vengeance will not serve any purpose, but evil," replied Xena, saddened at having to tell her child these things.
Xena looked at Mel, hoping she understood. Mel looked a bit confused as she tried to understand what her mother had just told her. Finally, she looked at Xena and smiled, " I understand that you don't do that anymore. And, I love you!"
"I love you too. Now, what you did back there was very brave. I want you to be brave for me right now, can you do that?" Xena returned, her heartbreaking at having to say goodbye.
"Besides, we have to go so I can make up new stories and if you are here I can bring them back to you. Would you like that?" interjected Gabrielle, trying to lighten the mood.
"Oh yes, I would love that! Could you bring me something else back from your adventures too?" replied Mel.
"Of course, what would you like?" asked Gabrielle, looking at Xena.
"Well, what I want you, Aunt Gabrielle, to bring me back are stories and mother. Mother, I want you to bring me Aunt Gabrielle to tell me your adventures," said Mel, grinning with a smile very similar to Xena's.
"Oh, I love you Mel! Be good and remember, all you have to do is send for me and I will be here," said Xena.
"We will be here, you mean. Bye Mel, see you soon," said Gabrielle.
"I love you too, both of you! You too Argo...thanks for the rides," Mel said petting and hugging Argo. Argo whinnied and lowered her head to Mel's shoulder, something she did to Xena quite often.
Xena and Gabrielle left the next day, promising Mel they would return.
"Do you think they will come back? Lyla, I know what my mother did was wrong and I know that she hurt a lot of people, but I want to be just like her when I grow up. I want to be like she is now, I mean, helping people," stated Mel, crying and waving to her mother.
"Yes, they gave you their word, and if they are able they will return to you. Xena would be proud to hear you say that! I'm proud of you too Mel!" replied Lyla.
"This is so hard, I wish it could be different," stated a heartbroken Xena.
"I know, but it is for the best," said Gabrielle.
Xena mounted Argo, pulling Gabrielle up behind her. She turned for one last glimpse of Mel, then Argo reared, Xena and Gabrielle waved one last time, and they galloped off into more adventures.
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