AN: long time no see, everyone. I'm going to use my break from school to catch up on this story. So, enjoy ;) not much left to tell at this point.

Chapter 34

Three Years Later

Gabrielle and Xena left Amphipolis and traveled to Sparta in Greece, far from everyone, far from everything. Xena definitely didn't want to go anywhere near Rome, Athens or Anatolia. Those places were major targets for her to get caught and be sent to Caesar for her crimes she committed in the past. Although, she figured that Caesar had forgotten about her since she hadn't exactly been laying low and she was out in the open. She hadn't seen any Romans lurking around so that might be a good thing, she supposed.

Solan, now four years old, ran around with a group of boys in one of the larger fields inside the city. Gabrielle sat down on a bench underneath a pavilion, watching over him while Xena was getting her horse's hooves repaired after months of riding and traveling.

One of the older boys tackled Solan onto the ground and Gabrielle lifted her head, seeing the two boys wrestling in the grass. Solan grunted, "get off me!" he cried out and punched the boy in the nose.

Jason gasped and wiped his nose, seeing blood smeared all over his hand. "You're dead Solan!" he growled and Solan rolled over and started running back to Gabrielle.

"What's going on?" Gabrielle stood and Solan crashed into her, hiding behind her knee length skirt. "Solan, knock it off..."

Jason circled around Gabrielle and Solan squealed, running away, screaming for dear life. Gabrielle folded her arms watching Jason, only two years older than him, chasing after Solan as fast as he could. Looking off beyond the trees she finally saw Xena walking with her horse by her side. Thank the gods.

"Mom!" Solan screamed and ran into her, wrapping his small arms around her legs. Xena frowned and Jason had a certain look in his eyes and blood dripped down his chin. "Save me, please!" he begged, tugging on her pants.

Xena pushed Solan further behind her and she grabbed Jason by his shirt, lifting him high in the air as he kicked his legs, squirming to get free. "What are you doing?" she glared into his dark brown eyes.

"Solan punched me in the face!" Jason spat at her and Xena frowned, peering down at her blonde son, sheepishly grinning.

She set down the boy and he growled at Solan, hiding behind his mother. She knelt down and brushed his long bangs away from his blue eyes. "Why did you hit Jason?"

Solan smirked, "because he pushed me," he muttered, hanging his head.

Xena lifted an eyebrow and grabbed her son's hand, "doesn't mean you can hit people," she sighed and looked at the angry Jason glaring at Solan. "Jason, go home," she said and the brunette boy huffed then ran off back to his friends. Xena smiled once she saw Gabrielle waiting for her.

"Did you get your horse fixed?" Gabrielle asked and saw Solan swinging his arm back and forth as he held his mother's hand. "Solan, I saw what you did back there."

The blonde boy giggled, "I didn't do anything Gabrielle..."

"Mhm."

Xena rolled her eyes, "I was thinking that we could go to Thebes soon."

Gabrielle raised her eyebrow, "why would we go to Thebes? That's so close to Athens and I thought that you wanted to stay clear of Athens?"

"Not in Greece, Gabrielle. Thebes, Egypt," she smiled and Solan's eyes widened.

"We're going to Egypt?!" he exclaimed and his mother knelt down, pinching his cheek and he cringed. "Stop!" he slapped her hand away and she winked.

"What do you think Solan? Would you like to go to Egypt?" she asked and he nodded his head vigorously.

"Can I go play with my friends now?" Solan asked and Xena sighed then allowed him to go. He grinned then ran off to meet up with his friends.

Gabrielle folded her arms, watching the little boy run off and then she set her hand on her shoulder. "Xena, why do you want to go to Egypt?"

Xena sighed, "Greece is becoming boring. We should travel somewhere else, somewhere new," she wrapped her arm over her and sat down on the bench. "Please Gabrielle?" she pleaded and the blonde sighed, rolling her eyes, always bending over to succumb to all of her wishes, even after years of being together then apart then together again. "Unless you have a better place in mind?"

She shook her head, "I don't think so, but why Egypt? It's so hot there. Couldn't you have chosen a more tropical place?" she teased.

"I'm tired of staying in Greece, Gabrielle. There is nothing for me here anymore and I don't need –we don't need to stay here," Xena placed her hand on Gabrielle's knee.

Gabrielle sighed, "alright if that's what you really want then I'll go with you, as always," she smiled and Xena was happy to hear that, so happy that she embraced her warmly. "Wow okay," she laughed and pat her back softly. As Xena pulled away she stared into her eyes. "You've changed a lot, Xena."

"Gabrielle..." Xena brushed a tendril behind her ear sheepishly.

The blonde's cheeks blushed, "I'm serious. I would not recognize you now if I didn't know you before. And you have done a really nice job with Solan too," she nudged her arm and Xena smirked lightly. "He adores you."

The raven haired warrior sighed heavily, "I couldn't have done it without you Gabrielle."

Solan came running to them both and Xena saw blood trailing down his arm and her eyes widened in fear. "Mom look!" he had a huge grin on his face and that only confused his mother more.

"What did you do?!" she grabbed his arm, looking at the small gash, worrying indefinitely.

His smile widened even more, "Kasor cut my arm with his wooden sword!" he looked into his mother's eyes and rolled his own. "Isn't it cool?!"

Xena frowned, shaking her head and she wiped the blood off his arm with her cloak's sleeve. "No, Solan, it is not cool! No more playing with swords," she sighed and turned to Gabrielle. "Could you get a bandage from the bag on the horse?" she asked and Gabrielle quickly ran over to the horse to retrieve the bandage.

"Mom, come on," the four year old groaned. "You have a sword!" he huffed.

"That's different. Swords are dangerous and they can hurt people," Gabrielle came back with the proper bandages and Xena began wrapping her son's arm tightly.

Solan heaved, "and kill people too?"

Xena lowered her eyes, "yes..." she admitted softly. "That's why you have to be really careful or you can hurt yourself too, like what just happened." She finished wrapping his arm and kissed his hand.

"But that was a wooden sword!" he folded his arms, frowning and Gabrielle stifled a laugh looking at his serious face.

"Anything can be a weapon, Solan." She smiled, "promise me that you will be more careful, okay?" she ruffled his hair and he nodded. "So about Egypt..." she slyly looked to Gabrielle and she rolled her eyes.

A couple of months later Xena, Gabrielle and Solan were able to catch a ship over to Egypt. Gabrielle was still unsure if going to an entirely different country across the ocean was the brightest idea. Although, they were in Anatolia for awhile and that was pretty far from Greece, but not as far as Egypt.

Gabrielle began to notice that she hated ships and hated the ocean too. She decided to sit in a corner by herself on the deck the entire journey. Meanwhile Xena was busy sharpening her sword, obviously not concerned for her well being at all. Gabrielle clutched her knees close to her chest and glared over at Xena who was well and fine, not affected at all by the constant swaying of the ship.

"How are you not sick?" Gabrielle griped.

Xena smirked, "because I am used to the ocean, Gabrielle," she tapped the tip of the blade after sharpening it for about an hour. "Have you seen Solan?"

Gabrielle groaned, hanging her head in between her knees. Xena chuckled and stood trying to find Solan. This ship was filled with Egyptians and Carthaginians so a blonde little boy would definitely be easy to spot surrounded by dark men with dark hair and eyes. Scanning the area she walked around the deck, squeezing in between people and was beginning to worry something might have happened to him.

"Mom!" Solan shouted from above and Xena looked up to see him on the main mast.

She gasped, "Solan! What are you doing up there?!" she ran towards the shrouds and then turned around. "Gabrielle!" she called out, "Gabrielle!"

Gabrielle moaned and lifted her head and then squinted her eyes from the bright sunlight seeing Solan in the main mast. "By the gods..." she mumbled. Slowly she stood and took in a deep breath, trying to recollect herself. "Coming..." she grabbed onto the railing and slowly made her way over to Xena.

"I can see everything!" Solan grinned and overlooked the ocean, feeling so free and adventurous.

Xena sighed, "Solan, it's not safe up there. Come down, please?" she asked nicely and her son groaned.

"Okay, fine..." he grumbled and grabbed onto the ropes sliding down to the shrouds and climbed down. Xena grabbed his waist and set him down on the deck. "I love ships!" he beamed.

Gabrielle clung to the ship's railing, "at least someone does..."

Xena shook her head and knelt down, cupping her son's cheeks. "Don't do that again. What if you got hurt?"

He shrugged his shoulders, "but I'm okay," he frowned sadly. "Alright, I won't do it again," she smiled and pat his cheek gently. "When are we getting to Egypt?"

"Soon, very soon," she grabbed his hand so he wouldn't run off to get into trouble somewhere else again. She knew she should probably keep an eye on him especially on ships obviously. She turned to Gabrielle and saw she was incredibly green. Chuckling, "are you alright, Gabrielle?"

The blonde shook her head, "no...when are we getting off of this gods' awful ship..." she leaned over the ship rail and vomited. Solan cringed and she wiped her mouth, breathing heavily. She hoped they wouldn't stay on this ship too much longer, she couldn't take it anymore.


Egypt

Cleopatra met with Caesar in her throne chamber and had discussed trading deals between the two empires. She wrapped his arm around his and walked through the hallways of her palace, "so why did you want to ally with me?"

The Roman emperor smirked, "because I believe Egypt and its Queen...has a lot to offer. Do you think I am wrong about that?"

The queen shook her head, "on the contrary, Caesar, I think we will make such a great team. Have you heard anything from Princess Dido?" she wondered. Over the last few years her alliance with the Roman Empire had been going very well and each ally worked well together. She loved working with Caesar, though she believed that Princess Dido had something up her sleeve. She had been absent from the meetings held in Rome and Cairo because she had prior engagements, so she says.

Caesar sighed heavily, "Princess Dido is busy in Carthage, governing her people. You know how it is?" he smiled and touched Cleopatra's cheek softly.

She nodded, humming to herself and then halted. "Have you heard any news about Xena?"

He rolled his eyes, "I am finished looking for her. Hopefully, with my luck, she is lying dead somewhere in Greece," he chuckled and Cleopatra lifted her eyebrow, quite surprised to hear him say that. Caesar had obsessed over Xena for years and now suddenly he doesn't care about her at all. She had the feeling that Xena was not dead, but laying low somewhere.

"And if she is not dead?" she proposed. "What will you do then?" she asked.

"She is no threat to me anymore, your highness," he kissed her hand and she smiled, continuing to walk through the halls with him.

The queen nodded, "but she betrayed you. I thought, according to Roman law, that traitors were executed?" she wasn't going to let this subject go at all.

Caesar was starting to get irritated with all of these sudden questions she had. "That is true, but she has escaped all of my attempts to kill her. She has had a lot of help and now, she has nobody."

Cleopatra frowned, "but she will always find more people to follow her, if she really is the monster that you say she is."

"She is full of hopes and dreams, but nothing more. If she wanted to find an army, she would have done so already," he exhaled heavily, "enough about Xena. The thought of her gives me headaches. Let us discuss the unification of our empires, yes?" he smugly grinned and she pursed her lips, listening to what he had to say.


Finally the ship docked in the port of Alexandria and Gabrielle had never been so thankful to see land, even if it was a land foreign to her. She almost wanted to kiss the ground for gratitude for saving her from the dreaded long journey by boat to get here.

Solan slung his bag over his shoulder and his eyes widened, looking at all the tall buildings and hundreds of people walking around in most unfamiliar clothing at best. "So much sand..." he observed.

Xena smiled and grabbed his hand as well as Gabrielle's pulling her along. "Just think of it as Greece with more sand," they walked together through the crowded streets and Solan kept trying to pull away, eager to look at everything. Everything was so new to him and he wanted to explore but Xena had learned her lesson a long time ago to never let Solan out of her sight because he got into a lot of mischief without her by his side.

Gabrielle frowned and saw Roman soldiers sauntering through the street ahead of them, pinning a man to a wall, searching his pockets and belongings. She tapped Xena's shoulder, "there are Romans here..." she whispered. Xena scanned the area and now she was able to spot the Romans. "What are they doing here?"

"I don't know..." she whispered and then Solan let go of her hand and ran off through the sea of people. "Solan!" she groaned and began following him, pushing people out of her way, but he was too fast. Gabrielle rolled her eyes and she went around the crowd and searched for the boy.

She got down on her knees and saw Solan running through peoples legs slyly and unnoticed by the Egyptians. "Great..." Gabrielle grumbled and stood up looking for Xena and circled around herself. Now she had lost Xena too. "Great!" she sighed.

Solan turned around and didn't see his mother or Gabrielle following him. He grinned and then took off, running into the Roman soldiers, knocking one of them into a fruit stand. Running faster the Roman growled. "Boy!" he yelled and Solan's eyes widened and he picked up his pace, rounding the corner and the other Romans began running after him.

Breathing heavily he kept turning his head and saw the Roman soldiers chasing him. He then bumped into a large horse and fell down in the sand. Groaning he sat up, coughing some sand out of his mouth.

Cleopatra peered out from her carriage and saw a little blonde boy on the ground in front of her horse. She smiled and stepped out, adjusting her dress and knelt down. "Hello..." she greeted and Solan gasped and got up to run away until she grabbed his arm. "Why are you in such a hurry, little one?"

Solan pointed to the Romans who were still running to catch up. "They...they are running after me!" the queen turned around and saw Caesar's men running and nearly knocking over everyone in their path. Frowning she stood and wrapped an arm around his small frame, bringing him closer to her legs.

"Your highness," one of the Romans bowed his head, completely out of breath. He glared at the little boy, "this rat knocked over one of my men in the alley."

Cleopatra raised an eyebrow, "him?" she chuckled, "he's just a boy. You should really find something better to do than to chase a child," she reprimanded and the Romans hung their heads, feeling very stupid right about now. She dismissed them and then turned, looking down at the blue eyed boy. "What are you doing here by yourself? Alexandria is a big place, you know," she winked.

Solan shied away from her and she knelt down eye level to him. "Do you have any parents?" she asked and he nodded. "And where are they?"

"My...mom is here, but..." his eyes searched the area and realized he had gone too far and he didn't know his way back. He was sure his mother was probably looking for him too. "I can't find her..." he sighed.

Cleopatra frowned sadly, "well that's just too bad," she then had a bright idea and smiled deviously, "would you like to come back to my home with me?" she asked and Solan raised an eyebrow, staring into her dark eyes. "Just until your mother comes to find you." He nodded slowly and she lead him to her caravan.

He stepped inside the shielded caravan and gasped, sitting on the soft pillows. She drew the curtains and smiled at the boy's gleeful face. "You are not from Egypt, are you, little one?"

"no..." he looked around and then her horseman began trotting through the streets. He looked through the curtains seeing all the people passing them by. "Where did you live?"

The queen smirked, "in Cairo. Have you been there before?" he shook his head, unknowing of the world he stepped into. "I think you will love it," she grabbed her opium pipe and began packing the bowl. It would be a few hours before they reached Cairo after she had just bid Caesar farewell earlier today so he could return to Rome. "Do you know your mother's name?" she asked curiously.

Solan smiled, "Xena!"

She lit the pipe and smiled sneakily, "what a lovely name your mother has..." she blew out a large cloud of smoke and kept staring at the blonde boy in complete awe of his surroundings.


Gabrielle and Xena met up in the giant square where the people were more scarce. Xena groaned, "did you find him?"

"No, I haven't seen him anywhere!" Gabrielle folded her arms, feeling like this was hopeless. "Where could he have gone?"

Xena walked through the square then saw a group of Romans and gasped, hiding behind a wall. "There are Romans everywhere!" she hissed.

Gabrielle peered behind the wall and saw about ten Romans talking among themselves, being lazy as usual. "Why are they in Egypt? It doesn't make any sense."

"Who cares," Xena walked through a narrow alleyway and saw more Romans and a few of Cleopatra's Egyptian thugs following them. "God damnit," she whispered and Gabrielle bumped into her. "Gabrielle!" she pushed her back and they hid away from the Roman and Egyptian soldiers passing them by.

"Do you really think they would recognize you?" the blonde asked.

Xena sighed, "I don't want to wait around and find out..." she folded her arms, "what if someone took Solan?" panic began to set in and Gabrielle touched her arm.

"Don't overreact. He's probably just hiding. You know how he likes to play that game," she suggested, hoping that'd make her feel better, but Xena was too distracted and too annoyed to even bother.

"This is a big city, Gabrielle! He doesn't know anyone here and you're telling me not to overreact?" she yelled and Gabrielle blinked.

"Okay...we'll just ask around, how 'bout that?"


Cleopatra arrived at her palace and walked with Solan through the large colonnades outside the large fortress. His eyes widened as he couldn't believe the size of this place. He had never seen anything so big in his short life. She smiled and they walked through a large fountains surrounding them before entering inside.

"Welcome to Cairo," she announced and Solan stood at the entrance unsure what to think. "What do you think?" she asked.

"It's so big!" his mouth gaped and she chuckled, grabbing his hand, both walking inside. She snapped her fingers to her maids.

"Bathe him and give him new clothes," she ordered and her servants nodded, taking the boy along with them to a separate wing. She walked off going to see her advisor whom was patiently waiting for her. "Too bad Caesar is on his way back to Rome," she let out an exaggerated sigh and took off her wig, throwing it on a chaise lounge. "Xena is in Egypt! Right under his nose and he just missed her!" she laughed and plopped down on her throne, waving her hand for her servant to hand her the opium pipe.

A servant lit the pipe and Cleopatra inhaled slowly, blowing smoke out of her nose. "And her little boy...is very...precious," she raised an eyebrow as her eyes began to glaze over as she continued smoking.

A couple of hours later the maids finished bathing Solan and even cut his hair short and dressed him in a short white pleated kilt with a roped belt and leather sandals. He touched the kilt and frowned, "I'm wearing a skirt..." he cringed. The maids giggled at him and his sincerity.

Cleopatra sauntered in and ran her fingers through Solan's short blonde locks. "You look like an Egyptian prince," she smiled and he glanced up at her towering figure.

"Can I see my mom now?" he asked and the queen chuckled.

"You will soon, I promise," she grabbed his hand leading him out of the baths. "Do you like desserts?" she asked and he nodded his head with a big smile. "Have you had honey cake? I think you will like it."

"Really?" he beamed and she nodded, continuing to walk with him to her bedroom to indulge in sweets.


Gabrielle wandered through the streets and approached an elderly man selling apples, "excuse me," she smiled and he lifted his head as he was pealing an apple, "have you seen a little boy?" she measured Solan's height against her hip, "about this tall? Blue eyes, blonde hair?" he shook his head and Gabrielle sighed. "Thanks anyway," she groaned and walked off.

Xena regrouped with Gabrielle in the street near the docks, "anything?"

"Sorry, nothing," the blonde sighed heavily, feeling hopeless. "Where could he have gone? Nobody just disappears!"

Xena frowned and saw a woman sewing a large sheet under some shade from her cart's canopy. Walking over to her the woman smiled. "Have you seen a blonde haired boy around here?"

The woman set down the fabric in her lap, "I did see a boy a few hours ago run by here."

Xena's eyes lit up and her heart skipped a beat, "do you know where he went?"

The woman pointed to the area where Solan was earlier, "he ran into the Queen's caravan."

"The Queen?" Xena frowned, not liking the sound of this already.

Gabrielle finally caught up to her and breathed heavily, "did you find anything?"

"Do you know if she took him?" Xena asked the woman.

The seamstress shrugged, "I don't know but she must have because I didn't see him after that."

Xena nodded, "do you know where she went?"

The woman chuckled, "back to her palace I'm sure. She spoke to Caesar this morning before he sailed off."

Gabrielle's eyes widened and Xena thanked the woman then walked off. She grabbed her arm, "Caesar? Did she just say Caesar? And who was she talking about? She knows where Solan went?"

"Cleopatra has him," the warrior groaned, folding her arms.

"Cleopatra? As in the Queen of Egypt, Cleopatra?!" Gabrielle gasped, not believing this at all. "What are we going to do now?"

Xena's eyes narrowed, "we're going to Cairo." She hurried off heading down the street, bumping into people while Gabrielle remained dumbfounded.

Gabrielle's eyes widened and she ran after her, "Cairo?! Xena!"