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Teresa M Shafer - For books that kindle thought and ignite the imagination!
Those Pesky Teenage Years 

Their teenage years were fraught with the normal stuff that engage, frustrate and consume most teenagers. But as Xena and Gabriele they were the most popular people on the planet and could set or destroy just about anything that came to mind and especially if it didn’t come to mind. 

They had to take great care not to shun anyone especially from school… for any reason. Because if they shunned them then everyone and I do mean everyone shunned them. Their haircuts were the latest in style, their clothing outside of school was the latest in fashion, their weapons were the cool ones to have and master and their actions were mimicked by every child on the planet especially those that actually attended school with them.  

The adults managed the fallout as best they could. More than one child was crushed when mom or dad told them that they could not cut their hair in that fashion or that they would not let them wear that outfit, Gabrielle was well known for showing a great deal of skin. The price of Sais went through the roof and multi folded Greek style swords became the hottest item on the planet, dwarfed only by the sales of Diet Pepsi. Gabrielle was seldom seen without one somewhere nearby and Pepsi was far cheaper than a sword.

The girls tried not to make too much of a nuisance of themselves but they were teenagers and as such they did have a bit of a flare for drama. It was hard for them to be the serious adults that they knew that they were, especially when you had a fan club and pimples.

Xena had a huge fan following but not for fighting; apparently everyone wanted to know if she really could sing. Of course she could. She had a beautiful full throated voice with a touch of Opera and a touch of Soul in the timber. In short it was the most beautiful instrument on the planet and it seemed like everyone was scrambling to have her sing for them. She sang at school functions, she sang at official Planetary, City or Family functions and she occasionally sang in an actual show, when her mother allowed it.

Gabrielle didn’t have this problem with singing because she couldn’t carry a tune in a waterproof bucket. The makers of the still popular television show had really fudged when they had her sing in episodes. She was certain that her scrolls had said nothing about her singing… where the heck had they gotten that preposterous idea anyway?

But Gabrielle was not left out of the spotlight; she was after all the Bard of Poteidia. She had just as many offers as Xena to perform and just as many that she accepted and her mother declined. Some of the offers were just too much and probably had more to do with her outfit than her story telling skills. Her mom would tell her that some people were just sick and decline an offer. Gabrielle had some experience with sick people and did not argue with her mother’s judgment.

Unfortunately all of this added publicity and subsequent engagements in addition to school and extra training left the two little time to spare to be together. This lack of alone time was beginning to wear a big hole in Gabrielle’s nerves.

“Mom” She called from the front door as she came into the house from school. “Can I spend the night at Xena’s?” Gabrielle was trying to sound neutral and not anxious but because it was the middle of the week and just because… this was one of the very few nights that they didn’t have something that had to be done after practice.

“When?” Cadence called from the kitchen.

“Tonight” Gabrielle knew that it was a long shot before she asked but maybe just maybe she could make an excuse. “We want to study for a test tomorrow.” Surly her mother wouldn’t know that she didn’t have a test tomorrow.

Cadence turned around when her middle daughter entered the kitchen. “No dear you can’t.” She waited to see the response on Gabrielle’s face.

Gabrielle’s face screwed up into a mask of frustration and anger. “Why!” She growled. “It’s important. Don’t you want me to get good grades?” She tried to reason while trying to control her obvious reaction.

“Of course I do dear.” She turned back to chopping vegetables. “And that’s why you’re not going.” She couldn’t let Gabrielle see the smile that was playing on her lips.

“What… that makes no sense! I have to study… we have to study.” Gabrielle was having a lot of trouble controlling her emotions.

“I know that dear. That’s exactly why you’re not going.” She couldn’t stand it anymore either, so she turned to face Gabrielle… but she judiciously wiped the smile from her face first. “Do you think that I’m completely blind dear?”

“Huh, what are you talking about? Of course you’re not blind. What’s that got to do with anything?” She was actually confused.

Cadence couldn’t help the giggle that escaped her lips. “Gabrielle dear, you’re clearly not thinking well…” That was all she got out before Gabrielle, who could find no humor in the situation cut her off.

“That’s why I have to go to Xena’s tonight… to study.” The last two words were added hastily.

Cadence laughed lightly. “And what is the course Gabrielle, anatomy or biology or perhaps you’re going to play doctor and hope that something sinks into your minds by osmosis?”

“Mom…” She tried to sound both forbearing and insulted but she was truly surprised.

“I’m not stupid Gabrielle and the two of you are far from secretive or discrete. No it’s time that you started to learn how to control yourself.” Cadence watched her daughter’s face go from anger to shock to surprise and back to anger. “Learn to control your passions dear.”

“Mom!” Again Gabrielle tried the insulted sound.

“Oh don’t try to sound so innocent dear.” Cadence was amused by her daughter’s response. She had to ask herself if she sounded as silly when Solace had confronted her with this conversation. Probably was her only answer.

“But mom you don’t understand!” Gabrielle whined.

Cadence laughed out loud for that comment. “Are you kidding me? Sweetie you have four sisters and only two of you with the same father. I understand just fine.”

Clearly Gabrielle had never thought about that. “Okay so you do understand… all the more reason for you to let me go. It’s not like I’m going to get pregnant.”

“Oh, don’t try that one with me… it’s not like our family is overly set on which gender we prefer dear. Do you think that my girlfriends and I were always plutonic?” Cadence was spilling some really interesting beans.

“Okay so you really understand but believe me when I tell you that I have had a loooonng time to decide who I want to sleep with and there is absolutely no-one else but Xena.” She said confidently.

“Really, did Lance know that?” She shot back at her.

“That’s not fair I didn’t know who I was then. Besides I never slept with him.” She was on the defense and trying to remember if there would be any more boys for her to watch out for.

“That’s true but had you not gotten your memories when you did you would have slept with him on your birthday.” Gabrielle’s face showed true shock. “What do you think that just because you don’t tell me that I don’t know? Honey this is an Amazon village. It is populated by not only our family and the Blazers but also a lot of other Amazons that have been taught to look out for each other. You helped teach them that. That’s why they survived the years in hiding. We all look out for each other.”

“I know.” Gabrielle sounded defeated. “I really didn’t like him that much mom. I just thought that I needed someone. I just didn’t know who.”

“I know dear, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t need to control your passions. I know that you love her… that much is abundantly clear. But you can’t just run off with each other like you did the first time around. This time you need to finish school and do things the proper way.” Cadence did have pity for her child.

“I have to be an example… I know. But I’m going nuts mom. It’s hard to concentrate on anything. Sometimes all I can think about is… aaarrrggh!” She clenched her fists together and shook all over.

“Yes dear I do understand. But even more than just being an example you really need to be in control of your own body.” Cadence was trying to get through to the hormone sick teenager.

“I just want to bite her! She’s so… yummy! Aaarrrggh, I’m going insane!” She was still shaking and a kind of wild look was in her eyes.

“Yes sweetie I’m sure that she feels the same way but you really need to contain yourself.” She decided to take pity on her daughter because… well she really did know how it felt. “Can you manage to contain your passions until Saturday?”

Gabrielle’s head snapped around and she focused on what her mother had said. “Saturday, you would let me go on Saturday? But the big party is Saturday night.”

“Yes but the party won’t last all night and you have nothing to do on Sunday morning. I will let you spend the night on Saturday if it’s alright with Harmony.” She barely finished the sentence before Gabrielle was hugging her and kissing her and thanking her and then the child was gone, presumably she was off to call Xena and get Harmony’s permission. “Hecuba, Herodotus I don’t know where you are or if you can hear me but I’m sorry that you missed this part of Gabrielle. She’s a real handful, but she’s a treasure as well.” She turned back to her vegetables. Gabrielle should be bounding down the hall any minute now to tell her what Harmony had to say or she would be screaming at the vid phone. It was just another day in Cadence’s household.

While Gabrielle was expressing her frustrations to Cadence Xena was having a similar conversation with Harmony.

“Mom, this is really beginning to annoy me. I need time with Gabrielle. We may be… teenagers but we’re not… you know what I mean? We’re not used to being apart like this. I mean we could tolerate it before because we had some alone time that we could steal but now that everyone knows who we are we don’t have any time.” Xena was trying to explain. She was sipping on some tea and sitting at the kitchen table with Harmony.

“Xena, no-one asked you to entertain the entire planet. That was your choice… the both of you. So if you don’t have any time to spend together then you have nobody to blame but yourselves.” Harmony did not lack compassion she just didn’t see the problem as being hers.

Xena stared at her mother for several moments. “But you said that we should be good examples.” She all but whined.

“Being a good example does not mean that you run yourself ragged nor does it mean that you don’t take or make quality time for your family or loved ones.” Harmony replied while filling their cups again.

“But I have a day set aside for family… Sunday. But there’s no time for Gabrielle in there.” She argued.

“I don’t see a problem honey. Make time. Find a day that you and Gabrielle can agree upon, one that Cadence and I also have no problem with and rearrange your schedules to make accommodations for that day. As I see it Gabrielle isn’t just a friend that you can see and enjoy time with while in a crowd. She’s more than that so you need to make arrangements to treat her like more than that.” Harmony took too big of a sip of the hot tea and turned to the sink to spit it out before it left blisters in her mouth.

“Are you okay mom?” Xena had jumped to her feet and was helping Harmony get some cold water in her burning mouth. When Harmony had sat back down Xena joined her. They both sipped gingerly from their cups now.

“I get your point mom. I’ll work it out with Gabrielle. She’s asking Cadence to spend the night here tonight but I’m fairly certain that Cadence is going to say no because it’s a school night. But how about Saturday night after the party. Can she stay that night?”

Harmony was nodding. “Of course she can. In fact I’m thinking that you should make Saturday your night… and… remember that Cara and Margo had a house set up for you two. It’s all yours and I honestly see no reason why you two can’t use it on Saturday’s if you choose to make that your night. I won’t let you just move into it. You’re still a child and that would set a bad example… but if you are discrete, and I know that’s not your forte when it comes to this subject… but if you can somehow relearn that trait and employ it here… then I see no reason to object to your use of that house under those conditions… and I’ll even petition Cadence on your behalf as long as you are discrete.” Harmony looked at Xena in a specific way to convey a certain message.

“What you’re saying is as long as no-one but the Guardians know about it then you will let us use the house that was set aside for us on Saturdays… or whatever day that we set aside for our day of the week… right?” Xena didn’t want to hope that she had understood her mother correctly.

“Yes that’s exactly what I’m saying… but before you get too excited… remember that Cadence must agree as well. I know what you two are feeling… and I want to help but you are still in the bodies of children and hence you have all of the irrational thought processes of a child to deal with along with the crazy normal growing pains of the bodies. So I have to treat you like children until you are able to get a handle on those things… alright?”

“Okay mom, we’ll try really hard.” She hugged her mother and ran breakneck down the hall to call Gabrielle. It was questionable which one hit the send button first. But before you knew it they were making themselves at home in their own house on Saturday night… every Saturday night for years. Eventually everyone close to them knew about it though neither of them spoke of it or was overly obvious. Maybe it was because after that first Saturday they both seemed more focused through the week and they both conveniently disappeared on nearly every Saturday after that. But because they were actually very discrete about the rendezvous neither of their mother’s felt the need to stop the arrangement. Strangely enough if their neighbors had wanted to they could have seen the ancient heroes most of those Saturdays lying on a blanket in their backyard looking at the stars before going to sleep in each other’s arms.

XXXX

Raging hormones, fan clubs, training sessions, school and chores seemed like a great deal to juggle but like every other teenager in history they managed quite well and still had some time to get into trouble. Getting into trouble for them usually amounted to staying out too late shopping, or going to the beach and falling asleep when they had told their parents that they were at the movies. In most cases the Guardians quietly made certain that their mothers were informed of their children’s whereabouts. This of course led to either going to get them or having the Guardians bring them home. The girls preferred it when the Guardians brought them home but it didn’t always happen like that. It usually depended upon how angry Cadence had gotten over Gabrielle’s disappearance.

The girls trained hard through the years and grew stronger than they ever had been in any lifetime. They planned Alti’s demise and practiced with their chosen core group of fighters until everyone’s movements were like clockwork and then they trained some more. They made up several scenarios of probable events and trained three or four different ways to work with each scenario. When it seemed like they had no other thing to learn they would ask around until someone came up with something that they hadn’t accounted for and then they worked out a tactic and trained on that as well. Everything that they did they incorporated some kind of training into the activity… well everything except one. After all it is said that all work and no play makes Gabrielle very difficult to live with and Xena an anxious wreck.

Sixteen years old gave way to seventeen and then eighteen and still Alti had not moved from her Castle. “Do you think that she’s even trying?” Gabrielle once asked Xena.

“Naw, not really… she wants a good hard fight. She knows that we weren’t on our game last time and she doesn’t want a repeat. So she’ll wait until we come and goad her again before she breaks out.” Xena said as she played with Gabrielle’s hair. They were lying on a thick blanket in their back yard. They had spent over an hour in the hot tub working out the kinks of another long week of training and now they were just enjoying the starlight. There was something to be said for the darkness of the Martian nights. There was no appreciable moonlight because the only moons around Mars were two tidally locked rocks that weren’t even big enough to be round. The night sky was dark so the stars shone brightly. They both loved it.

“You’ve known this all along haven’t you?” Gabrielle had no idea why she was bothering to ask.

“Yeah, I knew it, so did she. We weren’t ready to face her when we were there and she knew it. So she’ll wait for us. She has all the time in the world to wait and we have quite a bit of time to train and prepare.” She kissed Gabrielle’s head. It felt so natural to hold each other like this. “You know we could fool around out here if you would tell your personal guards to go away.” Xena was referring to the two Amazon Guardians that would follow Gabrielle everywhere. Even before the news was official they had been there… like shadows attached to Gabrielle.

“They’re fine Xena. If you want to play we can go back inside… or back to the hot tub. That was nice.” She reached down and pulled the blanket up and then slithered her hand up under Xena’s shirt.

“You just don’t want to tell them why they don’t need to be there do you?” Xena put her hand over Gabrielle’s… not to stop her but to encourage her.

“Well it is kind of embarrassing.” Gabrielle’s hormones were starting to get revved up again. “We need to go back in the house.” She murmured as she put her head under the blanket that she had just pulled up to Xena’s collar bone.

Xena giggled and she heard the two Guardians shuffle their feet, they were turning around so they could not see through the cracks in the wood fence. The neighbors on either side had not set foot outside in the back all night long. Essentially Xena and Gabrielle were all alone… or as alone as their followers and Family would allow them to be while sleeping in the open. Gabrielle was right that they would have more privacy if they went into the house but honestly Xena was tired of arranging her time and movements to accommodate everyone else. She wanted to have something spontaneous once and a while… and now was as good a time as any. She reached down and grabbed the ends of her t-shirt and pulled it up and off. Gabrielle started to protest that they should go inside but Xena silenced her by filling her mouth with something besides words. Gabrielle lost the will to protest.

The months continued. Gabrielle refused to tell her shadows to leave. She claimed to like the fact that the tradition that had started so long ago, had evolved into the Order of the Guardians. She was proud of the Guardians but she was still embarrassed at why the Shadows had been watching her in the first place. “What would that do to their psyche’s Xena? I can’t do that to them.” Xena just shook her head and laughed at her partner. She didn’t really care because after that first time in the back yard Gabrielle had lost her shyness. Xena had gotten what she had wanted… the rest was just a teasing point for her.

Over the next couple of years they learned how to fly one of the great fighter jets. They applied themselves to flying as they had to everything else.

One day flying across the planet they passed Olympus Mons and Xena slowed her fighter and circled the massive volcano. “What’s up Xena?” Nadia asked as they began their second loop around the cone.

“Ah I don’t know. I was just thinking that they named her right. She’s impressive, just like Mount Olympus was… impressive.” She mused.

“The last time that I saw Mount Olympus I died didn’t I Xena?” Gabrielle had only ever been there once and it hadn’t been all that good a memory for her.

“Yeah, that’s right you did you and Eve both. I had to kill Athena and Diana that day. I didn’t want to but they left me no choice. Then Ares gave up his godhood to save you and Eve.” She was lost in her memories. It had been a very emotional time for her.

“Huhhgh Ares told me later that I was an afterthought. But I knew that he had a thing for you. Do you think that he really loved you?” It was strange to be talking to Xena about Ares like this, especially since she had been so insanely jealous just a couple of lifetimes ago. But then again that jealousy had nothing to do with Ares… or any man for that matter, it had to do with one little… snatch and no-one else.

If Xena had noticed the odd topic she didn’t mention it. “No, Ares was a God that manipulated people to get what he wanted. He really didn’t know how to love. I’m not sure what he might feel now. I’ve heard that he’s lost his godhood but retains his immortality. I’m not sure what that portends.” She pulled her fighter back onto course for New Thrace. It was on the opposite side of the planet from New Thebes and it was an actual province that had several cities yet it was still just slightly larger than the capital city.

“We need to call him so that we don’t get attacked or questioned when we go to Earth to fight Alti. He is still in charge of Earth Force.” Gabrielle mentioned as she brought her ship up beside Xena’s. She looked out her canopy and smiled at the woman that was smiling back at her from the other ship.

“Yeah, we’re allies now but I wouldn’t trust Ares not to try and make a mess of things anyway. We need to make sure that he allows us and Alti to enter Earth space. Although I’m not sure how Alti’s going to travel. I should take her a ship when we go and visit her… just in case.” Xena pushed her ship ahead and did a few flips before settling back in beside Gabrielle.

“She’s a demon Xena. She doesn’t need a ship.” She pointed out.

“Yeah, I know but… you never know. I’ll leave her a ship just in case. I don’t want her missing our date because she didn’t have a magic pumpkin or a door mouse.” Having finished her musing she put the young women to work once again doing maneuvers with their ships.

Thus were their teenage years spent. Learning and loving and growing and planning. They had the world of Mars and all of its colonies and resources at their command. On one hand they made full use of those things and on the other they were considered by all to be humble. They were not demanding or rude and they seemed to always let other’s take the spotlight even if they had the right to it. The population of Mars had not expected them to have such humility and yet such presence and strength. The combination of traits made them even more popular and loved. In short they were the pride and joy of the Martian Empire and even more so of the Amazon Nation as they grew into the women that they had been and more.

One cool Martian winter morning Xena awoke to the smell of bacon frying in the pan and the sound of Gabrielle rustling about in the kitchen. Xena was snuggly tucked into their warm comfy bed and really didn’t want to move just yet. But something occurred to her. They were ready. She knew it just as she knew her own name. They were ready to take on Alti. It was time. But Alti could wait until after breakfast.