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Future Memory

by Xandrina

A little flight of fancy that touches a bit on what I imagine happens to Xena and Gabrielle . . . someday.

"You have a visitor, my Queen."

"Yes, I know. Show her in," the Amazon Queen replied, not looking up from the scroll in her hands. The servant quickly left to comply. In moments, the curtain was pushed aside to reveal a tall, beautiful woman. Although she was well into her fifty-fourth year, she moved with a dancer's grace and her face was relatively unlined by wrinkles. Her blue and silver dress made her sapphire eyes and the silver strands that were just beginning to appear at her temples glow with a regal appearance. "Where have you been? I was beginning to think you had finally forgotten me."

"Hello, Gabrielle. We just happened to be in the area, and I thought I might as well say 'hello' while we visited the girls."

Gabrielle tossed her scroll aside and went to hug her best friend. "Sixteen years since Melosa died, and there's never been a month when we've not seen each other. Xena, you are incredible."

"OK, so I missed you. What can I do?" Xena threw up her hands in mock dispair. "I don't suppose you're sick of me yet, are you?"

"Never. What have you been up to?" Gabrielle put her arm around Xena's waist and pulled her over to the pillows piled in the corner. They sat down, leaning together to talk like young girls at a sleep-over party. "Have you been to see Solan and Aleigha? I haven't been able to get away for so long."

"Yes, we stopped there on our way here. They're doing well. The harvest this year was so good, Solan is considering expanding the farm. Aleigha talked about you almost constantly. She misses you.

"I miss her, too. I wish that I hadn't let her get married so soon, but a mother's influence only goes so far. Fifteen, and she thought she knew everything." Gabrielle shook her head. "And the baby? Everything is OK there?"

"We'll be grandmothers by the next full moon is my guess." They sat in silence for several minutes at that thought. "You'll be there for the birth?" It was an unnecessary question. They both knew that neither would be able to stay away, even if they wanted to. "Did you ever believe that I'd survive long enough to see the day?"

"You know that there've been days that I've wondered. You didn't exactly choose the easiest of lives." Gabrielle ran her finger down a faded scar on Xena's arm. "Huh. Wow, this is getting maudlin. Where's Hercules?"

"Oh, he's with the girls. He knew I wanted to see you alone for a few minutes. How about Tallan? Still living in the Centaur village?" Gabrielle nodded. "Men can get so intimidated by women in power," Xena sighed in a tone that implied she knew all too well.

Xena looked up suddenly. "Tell me about my girls. How are they doing? I know they are learning a lot here with you, but I miss my daughters as much as you miss yours."

"I know you miss them. They're both fine, or else I would have sent word, you know. Lycea has your sword arm. She's learning fast, and begging to move on to harder things. Mavis is quite the archer, but she hates hand-to-hand combat. She's more of a scholar, you know. I'm afraid that I give them special privileges because of their mother."

Xena smiled. "I'm glad they're doing well, but don't baby them." Then she looked more serious. "Listen, Gabrielle. I have a favor to ask you. There's no one on earth that I'd trust with my children more than you. That's why I sent Lycea and Mavis here to be tutored. Gabby's not old enough for that yet, but I need someone to watch her for a little while. Will you?"

"Yes, certainly, but . . . " At the sound of running feet stopping at the door, Gabrielle sighed. "All right, you can come in now." Two brunette balls of energy hurled themselves at their mother, followed more sedately by their father, carrying a blond third.

"Mother!" "Mother, wait until," "you should," "I can do it," "and then," "but I didn't, so it's OK." "you think?" Not understanding either girl, Xena just laughed and hugged them both.

"You both look wonderful. Are you having fun, learning a lot?" Xena grinned when they started to chatter at the same time again. "One at a time, one at a time."

Lycea, being the oldest at 14, stepped in front of her sister. "I'm practicing with my sword every day. Maybe someday I'll be as good as you are! I'm also learning cho-boes, and the staff. Aunt Gabrielle says I'm doing well, but I like the sword best of all."

Mavis pushed her way forward. She was small for her 12 years, but has a personality that made up for anything she might be lacking. "Momma, I like it here. I'm learning all sorts of things. History, geology, astronomy, and about Papa's family. I'm glad we don't have to live with them. They're not very nice, are they? And you always tell us 'be nice'."

"That's right, Honey. We need to always be nice and help out when we can, for the greater good." Xena kissed her daughter on her forehead. "I heard that you are getting to be rather good with a bow, too. Do you like that?"

"Yea, it's fun. I don't like to shoot live things, just targets. I also don't like wrestling, 'cause Lycea always beats me. But . . . I gotta do it because I need to be able to take care of myself, huh? Will you help me practice wrestling? Aunt Gabrielle says you are very good." Gabrielle tried to hide her grin at that, but it showed in her eyes. Mavis sat down and snuggled in to her mother's side. "We also get to read Aunt Gabrielle's stories about you adventures. I love you, Momma."

Xena glared at Gabrielle, who merely shrugged. Turning back to Mavis, she said, "I love you too, Honey. Since you like it here, your Papa and I are going to leave little Gabby here for a while too. Will you watch out for her when you don't have your lessons to study?"

"I will, Momma," Lycea said. "I'm bigger."

"No, I will," Mavis declared. "She asked me first!"

"I want you both to watch her, and to show me how much you can help out. Don't let your lessons go though, OK?"

"OK, Momma," they both answered. "Come on, Gabby!" Mavis said to her little sister as she squirmed out of the pillow pile. "Let's go look at the horses."

"And the Arena, and the lake," Lycea added.

"I want Momma!" the little girl protested. Hercules put the wiggling six year old down, and she ran over and attached herself to Xena.

Xena hugged her youngest tightly, and then pulled back to look in her eyes. "I bet they'll show you the kitchen, too. Maybe there will be a honey cake for you."

"Oh! OK, Momma," Gabby crowed, and ran off with the older two after they each kissed their mother's cheek.

The adults smiled at each other. "We named her well, didn't we. Always hungry, that one. I'm surprised that she didn't chat your ear off, too. Must be that she was nervous. How do they always know when something is going to happen?" Xena got a look in her eyes that, while familiar, was rarely there anymore. She sighed.

Gabrielle grabbed her friend's hand. "I take it this is more than the usual wanderlust? What is it this time?"

Hercules spoke up. "Oh, you know . . . we heard that there was some trouble up in Karsis, and thought we'd see what we can do."

"Just like we used to." Gabrielle looked like she was about to burst into a story at any moment.

Hercules held up a hand. "Hey, next time I'll take the kids and you two can traipse all over, sleeping on the ground and getting into trouble. I'm getting too old, I think." Then he paused. "That is, if I can let you out of my sight without worrying myself to death." He bent down and kissed his wife. "I'll wait outside while you finish your visit."

"What?" Gabrielle asked after he left. "Doesn't he like my stories?" She looked at Xena, and they both began to laugh. One thought led to another, and it was several moments before either could catch their breath. Gabrielle held her aching side, and wiped a tear from Xena's cheek. "He loves you so much. Maybe almost as much as I do." A pause. "Promise me you won't take any chances, and that you'll come stay a while when you get back? Maybe travel with me to see the baby?"

"Oh," Xena whispered as she flopped onto her back, suddenly exhausted. "I promise."

The next morning, Queen Gabrielle of the Amazons waved off her dearest friend with a prayer for her safety. Some things will never change. "Once a Warrior Princess, always a Warrior Princess. Maybe I will rejoin you for the next adventure."

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