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Teresa M Shafer - For books that kindle thought and ignite the imagination!
Bits of a Life 

The newlyweds stayed in their home for six days. They didn’t answer any calls or make any of their own. They were busy enjoying their honeymoon and they weren’t going to let anyone disturb them. On the seventh day they called a couple of Pegasus’ and spent two days in the cave that they had spent Gabrielle’s birthday in many years before. 

It was a glorious time for them. Finally after thousands of years and more battles than they could count they were at peace. There were no battles planned in their future. They had nowhere that they had to go and their entire lives to get there. It was a freedom that neither woman could remember having had before. Even as children back in ancient Greece they had felt that they needed to be somewhere else. Now they did not have that feeling. They had only the feeling that they were happy, gloriously and deliciously happy! 

Xena was lounging in the hot spring while Gabrielle was cooking a fish that had been left at the cave entrance along with other food and drink. They didn’t know who had brought it, it was a Shadow to be sure but which one they had no idea. Xena and Gabrielle had come here on impulse and had packed nothing. The Shadows had packed some things for them and apparently stopped at the grocery and done some fishing as well. Neither newlywed argued or complained. They were spoiled and they knew it. 

Gabrielle could hear Xena speaking above the sizzle of the fish but she couldn’t understand what she was saying. “What’s that dear?” She asked curiously. 

Xena’s eyes seemed to focus on Gabrielle differently and she dragged her mind around to register what her beloved had said. “Oh, nothing sweetie… I was just trying on that word to see how it fit.” She said almost dreamily. 

Gabrielle’s face wrinkled up a bit as she tried to make sense of what Xena had just said. She finally gave up. “Would you like to explain that?” 

Xena smiled so warmly that it made the room glow… or so it seemed to Gabrielle. “You’re my wife… my wife. It has a great ring to it. It’s more than that, it feels… warm… comforting and right. Yeah know?” 

Gabrielle was leaning back on her heels and smiling. The fish was done so she had taken it off of the fire. She thought about what her soul mate had said and smiled a room warming smile of her own. “Yes, I know what you mean. Wife… it makes me feel blessed and secure and honored.” She grabbed a towel and headed for the water. “Are you ready to eat… something besides me?” She added the last when Xena’s eyebrow went up and a snicker crossed her lips. 

“Yeah I suppose I should eat something else… occasionally.” She rose from the water and advanced on Gabrielle and the towel. Gabrielle wrapped the towel around her before either was tempted to let their dinner get cold. Cold fish was horrible and reheated fish was worse. “Insistent are we?” Xena giggled while Gabrielle tucked the loose end of the towel into a fold. Gabrielle smiled and wrapped her arms around Xena’s waist and kissed her exposed chest before snuggling her head into Xena’s neck. 

“My wife.” Gabrielle said quietly under Xena’s chin. 

Xena chuckled lightly. “It does sound good. I wish that I had asked you a few lifetimes ago when I first thought of it.” She kissed Gabrielle on the top of her head and rested her head against Gabrielle’s silky hair. 

“I’m glad that you didn’t.” Xena was shocked by the response and pulled away far enough to see if Gabrielle was teasing… she was not. 

“Why, would you have said no?” She was a bit concerned. 

“Of course not I would have said yes! But this way… now that we have defeated Alti and this life is ours to spend… now it feels more like a reward and like a complete revolution has taken place. I feel like no matter what we do now… it’s all gravy. This is a reward for past service. So no matter what we do if we stay here or go out exploring or whatever we don’t have to prove anything else. We have earned our wings and this is kind of like our home in heaven… it’s a reward. You’re my reward and I’m yours.” She kissed Xena on the lips lightly and pulled away to watch her wife process what she had said. 

Xena started to giggle again. “What would your father say to that last comment? He thought of me as a curse.” 

“My father didn’t think that you were a curse… he just didn’t know you.” Gabrielle was trying to think of something to disprove Xena’s accusation but the truth was that she was not exaggerating. Herodotus had thought that Xena was a curse and a blight on Gabrielle’s existence. It didn’t help that he had never accepted his daughter’s relationship with the former warlord. He had wanted grandchildren and Gabrielle had given him Hope… the evil Hope and Hope had tricked him. Frankly Gabrielle had been surprised that he hadn’t disowned her for the trouble and disappointment that she had brought to him. It bothered her that she had never successfully made peace with her father. 

While Gabrielle thought of a way to defend her father and disprove Xena’s words, Xena watched her wife’s face and smiled. She knew the conflict that raged in her heart. “Look sweetie… it doesn’t matter who thought or thinks what about us… except for us. I love you and I happen to agree with your assessment of the situation. Not that I’m going to test it by raising an army and destroying some village… but I do agree with you this is a kind of reward and I’m not going to screw it up. I like it like this!” She pulled Gabrielle into a strong embrace and kissed her soundly. 

They sat down and ate some dinner and watched the stars. About halfway through their meal Gabrielle asked Xena another question. “So what are we going to do with this life Xena? We have no warlords to fight, no vestal virgins to rescue, no Gods to kill… what do you want to do?” 

Xena finished chewing and thought for a minute. “I think that we should take one step at a time. Let’s find an Architect and build a home then let’s fill it with children and see where that takes us.” She had deliberately not looked at Gabrielle while she spoke. 

“Are you joking Xena or is that what you really want?” Gabrielle wasn’t sure but she didn’t want sound like she was mocking Xena, because then she would retaliate by changing her mind or being stubborn. 

“Why, doesn’t it sound good to you?” Xena was trying not to get her ire up. 

“Actually it sounds wonderful.” She could feel Xena relax. “How many children do you want? We’re going to have to tell the Architect how many bedrooms and bathrooms to put into our house… one other thing can we have a single story home? I really don’t like two story houses… I mean we can have a basement or something but I want the living quarters and the bedrooms on the same level.” Gabrielle decided to let Xena think without Gabrielle looking at her. She began picking up the dinner dishes while not looking at Xena at all. 

Xena was smiling and doing exactly what Gabrielle wanted, she was thinking. “I don’t care how many levels our house has as long as I have a place to sleep and a bathroom. On the other issue… how many children do I want… how about three… each?” 

“That sounds like a nice place to start.” Gabrielle was thrilled. “But honey…” She started but stopped to wait for Xena to turn and look at her. For this she wanted to see her wife’s eyes. “… would you be the biological father of my children?” Xena looked shocked and tongue tied. “They can actually do that now… combine the DNA of two women and make a child. So…?”

Xena’s face broke into a huge spontaneous smile and a tear came to her eye. “Of course honey… of course I will. I hadn’t even considered it or thought about it.” She was stammering with joy and excitement. “But you should be the father of my children as well… for real this time!” She remembered when they had not known the paternity of Eve. They had both been content with saying that Gabrielle was the father. But now in this age it could be true and Xena couldn’t be happier. 

They decided to have at least three children each and that they would combine their DNA in different combinations for each child. They would not be manipulating the sex of the children, because they wanted God or nature or whatever to have some say in the matter. They further decided that their house would be single story with at least eight bedrooms and ten or eleven bathrooms. Xena insisted on a fully finished basement that had a couple of bathrooms as well and a huge open space where their children could play during the long winter months. 

The question of whether or not they would travel was left up in the air. Building a home and having children took priority over every other thing that they could imagine. The home and the children sounded like the best adventure that they could ever have. 

So the very next day they went out and found an Architect and they began building their home and before it was finished Gabrielle was pregnant with the first of their six children. She named the girl child Galatia in honor of the name that her mother had given to her. The partners alternated having children so Xena was next to become pregnant. Her first born was a son. They named him Daniel. Gabrielle had another daughter that was named Rhachel. Then Xena had twin daughters. They were called Selene and Sarra and Gabrielle’s final child was a boy that they named Gabriel. Together they had six children in just over eight years and they could not have been happier. 

Their home became a place of laughter, love and joy where their children were raised with the greatest of care and tenderness in the fashion of the ancient Amazons. This fashion became a popular fad and the old ways were born once again under the unlikely skies of Mars.

Because of who they were the children had at least one godparent that either was still a Goddess or had been a God and their innocence and laughter even softened the heart of Ares. He was so moved by the children of Xena and Gabrielle that he was inspired to take Hope as his wife and sire four of his own. They lived a long life together spreading the message of love throughout the colonies of mankind. 

Their lives were not long, compared to their thousands but, they were filled with happiness and joy. Their passing was a strange affair. They had come home to Mars so that Hope could be with her mother Gabrielle in the final days of her life. Her birth mother and strangely enough her actual daughter Faith had passed several years before in an odd climbing accident that took her life immediately. 

Hope was not old by the standards of the day but she knew that her time was at an end. She had completed the mission that she had been given and now her time was done. So she returned to her mother to say goodbye. She lay in the soft bed that sat in the guest bedroom of her mother’s mini mansion and gazed at the bushes and trees outside of her window that were covered in a healthy layer of snow. She was in a melancholy mood. It saddened her that she would never see the spring shoots or watch the local wildlife come out of hibernation to play. She turned away from the scenery and looked at her husband. Ares sat in the chair beside the bed. A half dozen bottles of pills sat on the small nightstand just off to his right. He smiled that beautiful smile that had melted her heart so long ago. He took her hand and kissed its back and didn’t say a word. He didn’t have too. They both knew that when she was gone he would soon follow. 

Gabrielle quietly entered the room. She stood by the door and waited. She had long ago stopped her personal war with Ares. He was not the same man that had tormented her and her wife. Now he was a gentle loving husband and father. Hope’s love had changed him. Gabrielle thought of the irony of that reality. Hope’s voice cut into her musing. 

“Mother, you needn’t stand at the door. This is your home, come sit by me.” Ares stood up and departed with some lame excuse that he needed a snack. He was really leaving because mother and daughter did not have much time left to talk and he wanted to say farewell to Xena and his sister Aphrodite. 

“I didn’t want to interrupt a tender moment like that.” Gabrielle said as lightly as she could manage. 

Hope smiled a knowing smile and grabbed her mother’s hand before Gabrielle was able to get fully seated. “We’ve had thousands of tender moment’s mother, God willing we may have more. If not then what we had will have to suffice.” Hope’s words were comforting and confident but her voice was getting weaker and her grip was weak. 

She was slipping fast now. Tears came to Gabrielle’s eyes. “Why must you go now? Can’t He let you stay?” Now she knew why so many people blamed God for their loss. He was all powerful couldn’t he grant one more day or hour or… but then we would want more. No, God is not the author of death but we must all die it is a part of life. He had already given Hope two lives how dare she ask for more. 

Hope seemed to know what Gabrielle was thinking so she did not bother to answer. “I remember the last time that you sat next to me as I died.” Gabrielle was not comforted by her change of subject. The last time that Gabrielle had sat beside her as she died Gabrielle had poisoned her. “I secretly wished that it had done the trick, that it had been enough.” 

Gabrielle pulled Hope’s hand to her mouth and kissed it gently. She could not speak her throat was closed. 

“You saved me mother. They would not have given me any chance at all had in not been for your heart and your place in heaven. I’m told that you are a special soul. I have always known it but now after having actually lived around you and gotten to know you… now I really know what they were talking about. You are a special soul.” Hope was struggling to say something that clearly was difficult. “It takes a special person to be the guardian of a soul like yours. I’ve never really felt comfortable around Xena and I don’t pretend to understand her. I’ve always accepted her because of you. But now in these final minutes it all is so clear to me. Can you please tell her for me that I understand now and I’m really sorry for any slight I might have given to her? She really is the best person to take care of you.” Her voice was just above a whisper when she finished speaking. It was as if speaking was actually taking the last of her life force. 

Gabrielle nodded. She still could not speak. She had no idea what Hope was talking about. But she would relay the message and hope that Xena had a clue. But then again Gabrielle was one of those people that didn’t really see herself as anything special… that is part of what made her special. 

“Mom, I love you. I always did. Please remember that.” Hope was running down like a wind up clock. 

Gabrielle had stopped trying to control her tears. “I love you baby, my baby… my Hope.” She sniffled and choked. 

Hope reached up with her right arm and pulled Gabrielle to her. “My mom, Gabrielle the Battling Bard of Poteidia. I love you mom.” She whispered in Gabrielle’s ear and then her arm went slack and her last breath escaped into the soft golden hair that had fallen onto Gabrielle’s cheek. 

“See you on the other side baby.” Gabrielle choked out. Moments later she heard Aphrodite taking the death of her brother hard from down the hallway. Gabrielle stayed with her eldest child for the rest of the day. Xena finally came and convinced her to come away. 

Hope and Ares were both cremated and added to the Family tomb. Their children honored them by taking up where they left off spreading the word of love throughout the solar system and beyond. 

Xena and Gabrielle continued on as well. They raised their children well and each of them became leaders in their own right. Daniel became the first male President of the Martian Empire; Gabriel became the Commander in Chief of the Martian Marines, Galatia became Queen of the Amazons, Rhachel became the Commander of all the Defender Class cruisers and the twins, arguably the most spoiled of the six became Entertainers. Selene became a Bard and a Producer while Sarra became a Singer and Actress. Their mothers were proud of all of them and everything that they did. 

When all of the children had found their way and moved out to pursue it Xena and Gabrielle took up their lives and found other things to do besides raise children. They had saved some of themselves for each other and not given everything to the children. For children will move out and live their own lives… that is their responsibility. But parents must go on without them and if they give everything to their children they will find that life is very difficult. Xena and Gabrielle had saved some of themselves for life without the children. It was not hard for them to find things to do. 

So it was that life moved forward for Xena and Gabrielle. They lived every moment with passion and fire and they lived those moments together never straying from one another’s side.