|On Raven's Wing
Author: XenaRizzoli PM
Uber. Mandy, school teacher & mother of one, does not know what's in her future when Raven joins her class. For Raven is the daughter of Jake, a tall gorgeous, construction worker. When they meet, will Amanda realize what her ex & his mother already know?Rated: Fiction M - English - Family/Romance - Xena & Gabrielle - Chapters: 25 - Words: 115,031 - Reviews: 106 - Favs: 36 - Follows: 48 - Updated: 07-31-12 - Published: 05-02-12 - id: 8079833
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
To funkey-monkey243, alltwisty, Jedi Caro, Sweet Silence's Voice, The Forlorn Prince, Chrono Crescent Flames and PhoneixFire DragonLight, Thank you SO very much for the comments and story alerts. To xxClois-Luverxx, Thank YOU for the favorite! It's been a VERY long time since anything I have written was a favorite. To all of you, Thank you! I will try to add more tomorrow!
Chapter Four - I Am The Spark
Jake carefully maneuvered her way around all the bodies that were on the dance floor now. Bumping and grinding to the music being supplied from the dj booth. She tried not to notice the obnoxious strobe and disco lights as she worked her way from the stage to the door while carrying Steve's guitar amp.
The band had been done playing for about 20 minutes and everyone was busy trying to remove their equipment from the stage before someone could break anything in a drunken stupor. The hardest part of packing up everything was trying to do so when people were now on the stage dancing as well. Beer and liquor was everywhere. On all of the cables and cases. Everything reeked of alcohol. Jake shook he head and wondered how someone could dance and drink alcohol at the same time. As she barely avoided slipping in a puddle of spilled beer she realized that, obviously, they couldn't.
Jason was coming back through the door, having pulled his Blazer around to the door. He held the door open for Jake as she stepped outside, happy to be getting some much-needed fresh air. Steve was already outside, arranging his equipment into his truck, an older teal-colored Explorer. She walked over and placed his amp on the ground, then, turned around to head back into the bar.
Jake turned around to see Steve hanging his head out of the back of his truck. "Yeah?"
Steve hopped out and walked over to her. He reached into his jacket and pulled out a couple of twenties. He handed them to her. Or at least attempted to. "Here you go. Thanks for helping out tonight. We really appreciate it."
She held up her hands in protest and refused to accept the money. "No way. I can't take your money. I enjoyed everything tonight and you guys are really good."
Dark brown eyes stared defiantly into bright, azure blue in an unspoken, friendly challenge. Jason walked out, as did Annie, to the sight of his best employee all but towering over his cop brother, neither willing to break first. It made for quite a humorous sight.
Steve was the first to crack as he smiled at the woman. Jake grinned back. More like a smirk, actually. "Come on, Jake. At least take some gas money since you offered to help carry this shit back to my house."
She shook her head at him. "Nope. From the directions Jason gave me, it's actually on my way. Besides, your mother mentioned to me this morning that you and your wife are expecting a baby. Keep it for the kid."
Steve looked a bit confused at Jake's admission. "My mother? How were you talking to my mother?"
"She's babysitting my niece. Nice woman. And besides, I don't need any money. I didn't have to pay for a beer all night!"
"Yeah. Speaking of which, are you ok to drive?"
"Yes, I am. Thank you for asking. I stopped drinking before your last set. I had three in the last six and a half hours so, I'm fine, Thanks."
They started walking back inside the bar. Steve held the door open as they entered to the sound of Christina Aguilera singing about "rubbing" her "the right way".
"Well, in case I forget to tell you again tonight, Thanks."
"You're welcome, Steve. But, you know, there is something you could do for me."
He looked wide-eyed at her. "Sure. What?"
"Do you think you could ask the DJ to play some better music?"
They shared a laugh at this as Steve replied, "Most definitely!."
Mandy stood over at the bar with her friends as she waited for KF to come back with the band's pay for the night.
"Are you sure you don't need us to give you a ride home?" Pony asked as she stood with one arm wrapped protectively around her lover.
Mandy waved her friends offer away. "Yeah, I'm sure. I can catch a ride with Jason. Besides we need to unload all of our equipment at Steve's and I need to go pick up Gellar. She spent the night with Grandma last night."
"Well, okay... if you're sure."
"Yeah, give us a call tomorrow and let us know how things go with Ms. Sexy." Eph added. She watched on, with much amusement, as her friend turned an impossible shade of crimson.
"Honey, am I gonna have to get concerned? I don't know who's fallen harder: Mandy or you!" Pony questioned.
Eph couldn't help but grin at the worried expression that crossed her lover's features. "Of course you don't have to worry, Pony. I wouldn't trade you for anyone or anything. You know that."
Pony let out a breath she didn't realize she had been holding as she leaned over to brush her lips across those of the woman who captured her heart four years earlier.
Mandy looked on at the tender display in front of her. "Come on, guys. Enough with the mushy shit!"
Eph hesitantly broke away from Pony as she turned to address her friend. Pony reached and grabbed her beer bottle to finish what was left.
"Mandy, Dear,... at least I know I'm gonna get some tonight!"
This tiny little bit of information caused Pony to snort the remainder of her beer out her nose and turn red, herself, as Eph and Mandy exploded into laughter.
"Yeah, sure, Eph. Rub it in!" Mandy grinned.
"Speaking of getting some, here comes Mandy's new playmate!" Pony just couldn't resist getting in one last jab at her friend as Jake walked up to the bar.
Mandy turned around and her eyes fell on the tall woman as she drew nearer to where they were standing. God! She's magnificent!
"Hi! Everything's all loaded up."
"Oh, okay. I was just saying goodbye to Eph and Pony."
"Yeah, Jake. We're gonna go home and scre...Hrumphhhhhhh" Pony covered her lover's mouth before she could say another word. Man, I gotta start watching how much she drinks... at least when someone's around! Pony looked at Jake and smiled, a bit embarrassed by her girlfriend's admission.
Jake took one look at Mandy and grinned.
Just then, Eph licked the palm covering her mouth, catching Pony completely off guard. When she removed her hand to wipe it on her lover's shirt, Eph picked up right where she left off.
"So, as I was saying, Jake... what was I saying? Oh yeah, wanna come?"
Jake's reply was a very sexy, well placed, arched eyebrow, while Mandy looked like a deer caught in headlights.
Pony suddenly felt it necessary to supply an answer for Jake to her extremely inebriated girlfriend. "Maybe later."
Eph looked at Pony. Then to Mandy. To Jake. Back to Mandy. "WooHoo! You go girl!"
Mandy wondered at that exact moment if murder were still illegal. Jake merely grinned at the entire situation. After all, she'd been drunk before.
"I'm sorry, Jake. I guess she's had a bit too much to drink tonight. I better get her home"
Jake smiled at Pony to let her know everything was all right. "That's quite alright. It was very nice meeting the two of you." She reached out a hand to shake first Pony's hand and then Eph's.
Pony actually looked...relieved. "Thanks. It was nice meeting you, too. Take Care and maybe we'll see you around."
Pony leaned over and kissed her friend on the cheek. She gave Mandy a hug and whispered into her ear, "Sorry. Call us tomorrow. I'm sure she'll be groveling for forgiveness."
Mandy smiled and hugged her friend back. "It's okay. I'll just come over and talk real loud while she's hung-over!" She said with a mischievous glint in her green eyes.
Pony's evil smirk answered for her. "You're on. See ya!"
Pony walked herself and Eph out the door as they each turned around and waved at the two women who were now, standing by themselves at the bar.
Jake stood in front of Mandy, admiring her, as she waved to her friends. Mandy could feel herself being watched. She just barely managed to suppress the blush she could feel beginning, under the gaze of the taller woman. She slowly turned around until emerald green met bright blue. Neither woman could be sure how long they stood there, openly admiring each other.
KF had returned in the meantime and watched on with great interest. Was Mandy finally going to admit her attraction to a woman? Because if the little staring match taking place was any clue, then this ebony-haired woman standing with her friend was really going to get it. Lucky Bitch...
"Ahem..." KF, reluctantly, broke in. "Here's your pay for the night. Good job, girl."
"Thanks." Mandy blushed a bit at the praise she received from her friend. "Can I have one more Midori-sour, please?"
KF leaned over as if to whisper a secret to her friend, "Darlin', after seeing you on stage tonight, you can have any damn thing you want!"
Really?...Anything?... Hmmm, how about one tall, gorgeous, blue-eyed... "A Midori-Sour would be great, KF. Thank-You. Jake, would you like anything?"
Oh yeah, if you only knew... "No thanks. I'm done drinking for the night. I told Steve I'd help you guys unload everything. Then, I have to pick Raven up from Mrs. Peters' house."
Mandy's eyes widened and she, unconsciously, reached her hand out and touched Jake on her arm. "Mom is watching Raven? Cool! Then she's met my daughter. She stayed at Claudia's last night. I have to go pick her up, too."
Jake couldn't believe her good luck. Maybe she could offer Mandy a ride. Uhm...better not go there. Been a while. What year is this? Oh Hell, just ASK her!
KF returned with Mandy's drink.
"Really? Well, I overheard you say earlier that your friends had dropped you off here. I could give you a ride if you'd like."
"That's very sweet of you, Jake. But, I'd still need to get home once I left Claudia's."
Jake smiled warmly at her. "That's okay. I don't mind."
Mandy waited only a beat before answering. "Great. I appreciate it."
"OK, how about, we go to Steve's and unload everything and then we can go get our kids. What I meant was... not our kids but..."
Mandy couldn't help but chuckle at the, apparently, flustered woman standing in front of her. Oh my God, is she actually nervous? How CUTE!
"That's okay, Jake. I know what you meant and it sounds great! Let's go!"
Jake and Mandy had driven to Steve's to unload everything. They talked the entire way there. They had gotten so lost in conversation, they didn't even notice that they were parked in Steve's driveway until Jason knocked on the window of Jake's truck to get their attention. They got out of the truck and unloaded everything into Steve's garage, trying not to wake up Steve's sleeping wife. Everybody said goodbye to one another and Jake and Mandy were on their way.
They stopped out in front of Claudia's. Before Mandy could open her door, Jake had come around to the side and opened it for her.
"Thank-you, Jake." Mandy smiled at the taller woman.
"You are very welcome." Jake offered a smile of her own.
They walked up to the front door and Mandy knocked on it quietly. A moment later, they heard someone approaching the door. A curtain was pulled back from the window at the top and they could see Claudia's brown eyes peeking out at them. She opened the door quietly and let them in. "Hi! Come on in but let's go in the kitchen. The kids are sleeping." Claudia whispered as she shut the door behind Mandy and Jake.
They followed the older woman into the kitchen.
"Hi, Mom. I hope we didn't wake you." Mandy said as she sat down at the kitchen table, motioning for Jake to do the same.
"Not at all, Sweet-Pea. I was just up reading a book and the girls passed out hours ago. Jake, I want you to know that Raven is the most delightful child. She is such a doll!"
"Thank you, Mrs. Peters. I'm very proud of Raven and thanks for watching her. It was very kind of you."
"No trouble at all and you can call me Claudia, Dear. Would you two like some coffee? I just made a pot."
Jake looked at Mandy and noticed Mandy's nod of approval. "Yes, please. That would be great."
"Mom, why don't you sit down? I'll take care of the coffee. Knowing you, you've been on your feet all day." Mandy got up from her chair and urged her former mother-in-law to sit down. She walked over near the coffee pot and grabbed three coffee mugs out of the cabinet over the top. She poured the steaming liquid into the cups and prepared Claudia's as she liked it.
"Here you go, Mom" she said as she placed the steaming mug on the table.
"Thanks, Sweet Pea."
Mandy looked over to Jake. "How do you take your coffee, Jake?"
"Uhm... Cream, no sugar."
" You've got it!" A couple of moments later, Mandy brought over a cup for herself and Jake. She was pleased that Claudia chose to sit down and join them. Actually, she was pleased that Claudia chose to sit in her chair. The only chairs left were those to either side of her new friend.
"So, tell me a little about yourself, Jake, since we didn't really have a chance to chat very long this morning." Claudia said as she took a sip of her coffee.
Jake did the same and sat back in her chair. She thought for a moment before replying. "There's really not too much to tell. We just moved here from Chicago a little over a month ago and I work for your son. That's about it really."
She didn't think the older woman would let her explanation fly and Claudia did not disappoint her. "Oh, come now, an attractive young woman like you? There must be something you could tell us about yourself."
Oh boy… I'm in trouble here. "Not really. There really isn't too much to tell. I've been doing construction and carpentry work for about five or six years now. I go home and take care of my niece. She's… she's really all I have and she means the world to me." Jake laughed a little at herself. "She's my best friend."
Mandy was absolutely speechless. She looked at the woman sitting next to her and couldn't believe the heartfelt remarks pouring from the lips of her new friend. Her admiration for Jake jumped about ten notches as she listened to her talk about her beloved niece. Mandy was so lost in her thoughts, she didn't hear Claudia speaking to her. She also didn't notice Jake looking at her.
"I'm sorry, what was that?"
Claudia shook her head and smiled at the embarrassed woman. After all, she might be old but, she wasn't naïve or narrow-minded. I'm going to have to have a nice little chat with Amanda one of these days."I just asked if you would like another cup of coffee, Dear?"
Mandy looked over sheepishly at Jake and then at her hands resting in her lap. "No thanks, Mom. I'm fine. It's getting kind of late so I better get Gellar home while she's still sleeping."
She started to get up when she realized Jake had pulled out her chair and offered a hand to help her stand. She took the offered hand, reveling in the feel of it wrapped around hers, even if just for a brief moment. None of this went unnoticed by Claudia, who turned to place their coffee cups in the sink.
"Okay, Sweet Pea. We went shopping yesterday so she has a couple of things to go home with."
"Mom? Knowing you, and your shopping trips with my daughter, Jake and I will be lucky if we can still find room to fit in her truck after we load everything!"
Claudia looked offended but Mandy knew it was just an act. "Well, Amanda, what good does it do anyone to have a grandchild if you can't spoil them rotten? I'm a Grandmother. That's my job and I'm good at it! You wait till you're a grandmother and get YOUR Grandma Guide. You'll see."
"Okay, Mom. in about thirty-eight years, when Gellar is forty and I'll consider allowing her to date and get married, I'll think back to this moment and remember about the Grandma Guide." Mandy wisecracked to her former mother-in law. Claudia merely rolled her eyes at the giggling, younger woman.
The three women made their way from the kitchen to the den, where the two younger girls were sleeping. The sight that awaited them was, to say the least, heartwarming. The older of the two was sound asleep with the younger girl held tight against her to keep her from falling off the couch. Gellar was asleep, half on the couch, half on Raven with her head resting on the older girl's shoulder. Her tiny hand curled into a small fist with her thumb held firmly between her lips. Mandy stood in the doorway, her hand over her mouth, as Jake walked up behind her. Jake couldn't help but smile at the picture the two girls made. Dark and Light. A smaller version of herself and the woman in front of her.
She felt herself being watched and looked down to notice that, sometime during her musings, she had placed her right hand upon Mandy's right shoulder. She also noticed that Mandy was now holding her hand. Green eyes traveled up to be embraced by blue ones. What should have been a slightly embarrassing moment actually felt comfortable and… right, as the two women smiled warmly at each other.
None of this went unnoticed by Claudia as she cleared her throat to get their attention. "I'll tell you what, Ladies. How about the two of you grab your girls and I'll grab Gellar's things."
Mandy walked over and gently picked up her sleeping daughter while Jake helped Mrs. Peters pack all of Gellar's things into the truck. Jake walked back into the house for another load and when she returned to her truck, Claudia had Gellar's car seat secured safely in the back seat. "I have a couple of these, so you can take this one for the baby." Claudia said, referring to the car seat. "There's no rush to get it back so you can keep it for as long as you like."
"Well, umm… thank you but, I think Raven has surpassed the car seat stage." Jake replied with a grin on her face as Claudia smiled a knowing smile.
"Hmmm, you never know when it'll come in handy."
Jake decided that it would be pointless to argue with the charming, older woman. The two walked back into the house. Jake stopped Claudia before she could enter the kitchen and placed some bills into the woman's hands. "Thank you SO much for watching Raven today. I really appreciate it."
Claudia realized what was in her hands and placed it back into Jake's shirt pocket. "Nonsense! You keep that. I enjoyed every moment of it. I'm getting to be an old woman; I'm supposed to love watching after children."
Jake closed her eyes, smiled and shook her head as she realized which parent Steve inherited his stubborn streak from. "Come on, it's 1:30 in the morning and you've been watching Raven since 6:00 yesterday morning. I can't let you do that for free."
Claudia grabbed Jake's hands in her own and looked up into her eyes. "I'll tell you what, you keep that and we'll discuss it next time." Claudia let go and turned around to walk into the kitchen.
Both of Jake's eyebrows rose into her hairline as she asked, "Next time?"
Turning at the doorway, Claudia replied with a smirk, "Next time." then continued through the kitchen door without another word.
Jake walked into the den and found Mandy sitting in the corner chair, cradling her daughter in her arms. She walked over closer to the chair and knelt down, sitting on her heels, in front of Mandy. "She's a beautiful child."
Mandy took a Kleenex and wiped a slightly runny nose then brushed the hair out of her daughter's eyes. "Thank you. She's my baby."
Sleepy little green eyes opened and attempted to focus on the matching pair directly above. "Mommy?"
Gellar smiled and then glanced over at Jake. She looked back up at Mandy as she pointed at Jake. "Who 'dat?"
Mandy smiled at her daughter as she pulled her hand back down and held it in her own. "That's Jake, Honey. Can you say `Hi' to Jake?"
Gellar looked over to Jake once again and smiled a toothy grin. "Hi Dake," her "J" sounding like a cross between a "J", a "D" and a "Z".
"Hey Munchkin!" Jake smiled at the child.
Gellar yawned, brought her thumb back to her mouth and said "Nite-Nite".
Jake grinned and ran her hand gently through the little girl's hair. She glanced up into Mandy's eyes. "I... uhm, guess we should be going."
She stood up and raised her hands above her head to stretch. There was an audible "pop" as she did so. She then walked over to the couch and very gently picked up Raven, cradling her in her arms so as not to awaken her. She looked over to Mandy and whispered, "Ready to go?"
Mandy nodded as she rose up from her chair and followed Jake out the door. Claudia followed them out, as well, and opened up the backseat truck doors for each of them. Jake gently sat Raven in the truck with her head resting against a jacket on the back seat. She fastened the child's seatbelt and quietly shut the door.
Mandy had put Gellar in her car seat and made sure she was safely situated. As Mandy walked around the truck, Jake opened the door for her. "Will you excuse me for a moment? I left Raven's bag. I'll be right back."
Mandy sat in her seat and watched Jake as she ran back into the house. She turned to look at Gellar, sleeping peacefully behind the driver's seat. She was startled when Claudia spoke to her through the window. "Sorry for scaring you, Honey. Got everything?"
"Yes Ma'am, But, Jake had to run back in for Raven's things."
"Ahh… she seems like a nice woman."
Mandy smiled. "Yeah. She seems to be. I've only known her for a few hours so, who knows? But Raven absolutely praises her. And from what I've seen, she's done a marvelous job raising her."
Claudia decided it might be time to add her two-cents worth. "And she's very attractive. Seems to me, she'd be a, oh, what do you call it? A keeper?"
Mandy's eyes grew huge as she slowly turned her head, shock evident on her face, towards her former mother-in-law. "Mom?" she asked calmly, "Are you fishing for something here?"
Just as Claudia was about to reply, Jake opened the driver's side door and climbed in the truck. She placed Raven's bag in the floorboard behind the seat. "O.K. All set", Jake said as she fastened her seatbelt.
They said "Goodbye" to Claudia and were on their way.
Claudia watched them leave and went back into the house. She locked the door and turned off the front porch light. Now that the kids were gone, she could go to bed herself. She went through the house, shutting off all the lights and making sure all of the windows were locked. She walked into the den and stopped in her tracks.
There, on the end table, in front of the photograph of her family, sat a nice little stack, consisting of five brand new twenty-dollar bills. There was a small note next to the money with a simple "Thank-you", written in nice, neat handwriting.
As Claudia shook her head, she realized she had finally met someone just as stubborn as her oldest son. She also realized that if she had her way, Mandy would definitely have her hands full with one, tall, attractive brunette.
Only one word came to mind as she continued down the hall to her bedroom, "Brat".
They drove out of Claudia's neighborhood and Jake headed back towards the boulevard. Once they had reached the first light, Jake looked over towards Mandy to ask for directions to her house only to find the young teacher sound asleep. She gently placed her hand on Mandy's shoulder to try and awaken her, but to no avail. Mandy just seemed to curl into the seat more. A quick glance to the light found it still red so Jake grabbed Mandy's jacket and covered her.
Jake was at a loss. Two passed out children in the back seat and her niece's teacher, a beautiful woman she was quickly becoming seriously attracted to, sound asleep in the front seat right next to her. She had no idea where the woman lived. She figured she could call Jason and ask him for directions but her phone was in her jacket in the back.
She got on the interstate towards her house. She really had no other choice. Fifteen minutes later, she pulled the 4Runner into her driveway. Jake quietly got out and walked around to the back of the truck. She opened the door and found Gellar's diaper bag, amongst all the packages. She shouldered the bag and shut the door. She quickly walked to the front door and unlocked it to make her next task easier.
After leaving the diaper bag on the inside of the door, she walked back to the truck and carefully removed the baby from her car seat. As Gellar snuggled into her shoulder, she walked around the truck and opened Raven's door. Without disturbing the child sleeping peacefully against her, she managed to undo Raven's seatbelt and maneuver the child onto her other side. She shut the door with her hip and carried the two children into the house and up to her room. She placed Raven on the bed and then Gellar right next to her. She walked over to the other side of the bed and turned the covers down. She moved Gellar so she was underneath the sheet with a pillow against her side so she wouldn't fall.
She ran back down the stairs and out the door. She quietly opened the teacher's door and lifted the young woman into her arms, surprised a bit at just how well she fit there. How well they seemed to fit together. Out of instinct, Mandy circled her arms around the taller woman's neck.
Jake carried the young woman into the house and up to her room as well, just barely making it inside before the rain started to fall. Once inside, she walked over to the bed and moved the pillow from next to the child. She placed one knee on the bed and gently laid Mandy next to her sleeping daughter, instantly missing the feel of the woman in her arms but very much enjoying the feel of Mandy's hands sliding down from around her neck.
Afterwards, she took Raven and put her in her own bed after undressing the child and putting her pajamas on. Jake grabbed Raven's favorite teddy bear, Pookie, from off the child's nightstand and placed it, lovingly, in the child's arms. She kissed the dark head, grabbed a t-shirt from out of the girl's dresser and walked out of the room.
Jake went downstairs and made sure the house and truck were secure. She grabbed the diaper bag and headed back up the stairs. She noticed, upon re-entering the bedroom, that Gellar was still sound asleep, sucking her thumb. She took off the child's clothes and changed her diaper then dressed her in Raven's old shirt. She pulled back the covers on the other side of the bed. After replacing the child in the bed comfortably, she grabbed some extra pillows out of the closet to place along the side of the bed. Even though Gellar was safely tucked away in the center of the bed, Jake didn't want to take any chances with the adorable, little girl.
Respecting the young mother's privacy, the only things Jake removed from Mandy were her black boots and socks. She made sure mother and child were warmly tucked in before leaving a note, along with a t-shirt to sleep in, should Mandy awaken.
With one last glance back, Jake felt a new ache in her heart. She retrieved a sheet and pillow from the closet so she could head downstairs for a peaceful night's sleep on the couch. She was positive the golden haired woman, sleeping peacefully in her bed, would invade her dreams. She settled onto the couch and cast her eyes toward the ceiling.
"Good Night, Mandy."
And all was quiet.
And that's it for chapters three & read and review! :-)