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Teresa M Shafer - For books that kindle thought and ignite the imagination!
A New Pecking Order 

“What the HELL was that Xena?” Clair was screaming over the vid at Xena and Gabrielle. Cadence was trying to make Joy comfortable and Harmony was looking on with a half shocked and half angry look on her face. The rest of the people in the cabin were smart enough to try and be anonymous. 

“Don’t you put this on me Clair! We all knew the risks when we set up this little expedition. She’s had the power to do that for a long time… you should know it’s in the scrolls!” Xena threw it back in her teeth. 

Knowing that she couldn’t argue with Xena’s logic she turned her anger onto Gabrielle. “So was it worth it Gabrielle? Was retrieving that body worth the life of your sister? Well was it?” Her voice grew in volume with every sentence. 

“Don’t you start on me Clair! We both know why you didn’t want to retrieve her.” Gabrielle had stood and was now just as red in the face as Xena and Clair. 

“Oh don’t I know it… in fact I think that of everyone here I probably know you two better than anyone and I know why you had to retrieve that body in particular and frankly Xena I’m wondering why you went along with it!” Clair had hated Hope and her hatred had grown over the decades.

“That’s the stupidest question that you have ever asked me Clair… what the hell has happened to you…” Xena was saying while Gabrielle was saying, “Maybe you and I need to have another heart to…” 

Neither finished their thoughts because Cadence took that moment to assert herself. “OH SHUT UP! All of you, shut up!” Surprisingly even Clair shut up for a moment. 

Clair’s silence didn’t last long. “Cadence Rayne you over step yourself. Go and tend to your daughter.” She said in the most condescending tone that Xena had ever heard and she was just about to reprimand Clair… as was Gabrielle when Cadence spoke again. 

“No Clarisse Blazer, I will not be a good little girl and go sit in the corner. And just for the record, I am tending to my daughter, just not the one that you would have me tend. Gabrielle was born to me… that’s right me, the demure little girl that never seemed to make the mark with anyone but her own mother… and I will defend my daughter and her actions to anyone that attacks her! You will watch your tone and your words!” She was defiantly standing at Gabrielle’s side and Gabrielle was clearly loving every second of this. 

“Cadence Rayne you had best rethink…” That was all that Clair was able to say before Harmony stepped up to stand beside Cadence and Xena. 

“No, Clair… forgive me grandmother but Cadence is right. We gave birth to Xena and Gabrielle… not you. For some reason God gave that honor to us… and I have to think that part of the reason that we were chosen is because they needed our guidance… not yours. It’s true that you have history with them but I imagine that there was a reason why in your lifetime you were passed over twice for the honor. I mean no disrespect… I’m just pointing out the facts.” She stopped to think for only a fraction of a second before she continued. “And as a point of fact… if you attack my daughter again we may have more than just words between us.” Her meaning was clear and it caused Xena to raise an eyebrow and smile mischievously… like the teenager that she was. 

Clair was boiling with rage. She opened her mouth and began but didn’t get far before Alex and Deb stepped into the view of the lens. “Why you…” 

“No, Clair… stop.” Alex said confidently. “We have stood by and watched for many years while you ran rough shod over the Families. It ends now.” She gave her sister such a look of pity that it was almost heartbreaking. 

“That’s right Clair. This is something that we should have done long ago but for the sake of solidarity we didn’t. But now that we have Amy’s body back we see that it would be a dishonor to her to allow you to continue in this vein. She must be given a proper funeral… which means that you cannot lead it. We have decided that you need to retire. We will lead the Families from now on… at least until Solace, Faith and Dura are ready to do so or unless something else happens.”  Deb spoke as gently as she could considering that she was so very disappointed in her older sister, God how she missed Willy. 

Clair was sputtering. She didn’t know what to say. This was probably a good thing since her younger sisters had no intention of letting her say much. Alex turned to the screen. 

“Xena, Gabrielle, Cadence, Harmony… we will contact you later.” She smiled faintly and cut the feed. 

The cabin breathed a little easier but they were still a bit tense. Now what was going to happen? 

“Mom… thanks.” Gabrielle said to Cadence and pulled her into a big hug. 

“Yeah, mom thanks.” Xena imitated her beloved’s gesture with Harmony. It was a short lived moment as there were still issues with which to deal. “Let’s take a look at Joy.” 

The four of them went to Joy’s makeshift bedside on the floor. Her face was relaxing but she was still not responding. Gabrielle looked to Xena for help. 

“I’m sorry Gabrielle. I don’t know what she did.” Xena sounded exasperated. “I just don’t know…” She sighed. “She didn’t teach me everything… or this is new…” She ran her fingers through her hair after checking Joy’s vitals. “I just don’t know.” The look of sorrow on her face said everything. She helped lift the girl up onto the Med bed and backed away. 

Gabrielle looked at Xena and then at Joy. Her sorrow turned to frustration and that turned to anger. “Anyone else would have been safe… she would have just left anyone else… but no… she had to find my sister… that… that… that fucking bitch!” She had been looking down when she said it. But after speaking the words her head came up in confusion as she noticed that the cabin had gone silent and when she looked everyone was looking at her. Every face in the cabin wore a shocked and reproving expression. Her eyes begged the question… “What?” 

Her mother answered first. “Gabrielle don’t you ever say those words again… not ever.” Her voice was stern and angry. 

“Not ever Gabrielle.” Xena added. “There just… so not you.” 

“They kind of make me feel a little dirty.” Harmony chimed in and Gabrielle could see nods from a huge majority of the ships passengers. 

Gabrielle felt the recrimination from everyone and hung her head a little. “Okay… really okay. I get it… no cuss words.” 

“Yeah, not ever… that’s my department.” Xena said proudly. 

“And whatever gave you that silly notion young lady?” Harmony asked her. 

“I’m… but I’m not…” Xena sputtered 

“You’re not what… a teenager that hasn’t even graduated high school yet? That my dear child is exactly what you are… a teenager and I expect you to behave and be a good example to all the other children.” Now she sounded like a mother. 

“But I’m not…” Xena gave up because she couldn’t think of a logical come back. She was a teenager and sometimes she really felt it. But she could scowl at Gabrielle who was giggling and making faces. 

“And what are you laughing about young lady? Do you think that you’re going to get off Scott free from all of this?” Cadence had found a stride. “You had best make sure that you toe the line as well young lady.” 

“What have I done?” Gabrielle pouted. 

“Well for starters there will be no more weeknights spent at Harmony’s house. You will come home and sleep in your own bed… alone.” That declaration caused both girls to protest, much to the amusement of everyone else. 

Xena tried to enlist her mother’s help but Harmony was taking Cadence’s side. “I agree with Cadence. Just because you are Xena and Gabrielle does not mean that you can rule the roost as teenagers. You need to learn discipline. That should be painfully obvious to you both. Of course if something happens that absolutely requires your intervention… like Alti for example I will let the rules slide until it is handled. But God gave you two to us and we will raise you as we see fit. Now if you can’t do anything for Joy then you should take a seat. We should be docking soon.” And that is how the two Thracian heroes were scolded by their respective mothers and told to go sit down… which they did.