Child of my heart

By

Lady Razeli

Disclaimer: I do not own Xena they belong to MCA Universal Studios.

"No!" Xena screamed in her sleep.

"Xena?" Gabrielle asked waking up.

"No, no please stop!" Xena cried. "No, not Solan please no!"

"Gabrielle!" Herodotus burst into the room followed by his

"Xena wake up!" Gabrielle cried as she flailed her arms. "Xena!"

"NO!" Xena sat up with tears in her eyes as she screamed in anguish. It took her a few moments to realize she had been dreaming and that she was in Potidaea. She looked around and saw them all watching her trying to guess her next move.

"Xena are you all right?" Gabrielle asked tentatively.

"No, I need some fresh air, I'm sorry I woke you all up." Xena stood up and grabbed her boots before hurrying out of the room in embarrassment because she had woken them up and fear because she'd dreamt of Solan yet again.

"I better go after her," Gabrielle said grabbing her own boots, but Hecuba held her back.

"No, I think this is something Xena needs to talk to a mother about." Gabrielle looked at her confused, as did Lila and Herodotus. "My point is I think I should talk to her first." Hecuba left before they could ask anymore questions. She had recognized that scream, she would have known it anywhere. Xena had a child and most likely he was dead. She didn't know if it was stillborn like her own son had been or if he had died later, but Xena needed comfort and help from someone who had been through it if she was ever going to recover.

"Xena?" Hecuba asked. Xena stood in the barn whispering to Argo and patting her head. She looked up suddenly when Hecuba had entered.

"I'm really sorry about waking you guys up. I don't usually do that," Xena spoke out loud, but than she muttered. "At least when I'm around people." Hecuba shook her head.

"No, don't be sorry dear, you have nothing to be sorry for, I know you're in a lot of pain, I understand, I went through it with my own son, before I had Gabrielle." Xena looked at her in surprise. Was it that obvious that she was grieving for her son, her baby boy. "Don't be so surprised, any mother would have recognized that scream. It haunts us all." Xena's face went red with embarrassment, she almost wished Hecuba hadn't noticed, but she wanted to say something out loud to release it all. "Come on why don't we sit over here and talk about it." Xena nodded at her suggestion and sat down with Hecuba in the hay. It was nice and warm so neither was cold from the wind.

"You don't have to do this you know," Xena told her giving her a chance to back out. "Its not pleasant."

"Yes, I do, you deserve as much help as I had from my own mother. I'm just sorry your mother isn't here." Xena nodded. "How did she die?"

"Cortese, the warlord that attacked Amphipolis, I don't like to think about it, it gives me as many nightmares as my son." Hecuba nodded.

"Tell me what happened with your son?" Hecuba asked in a motherly tone.

"Well it was just after I had lost to the centaurs that my army and I retreated to lick our wounds and regroup when he was born. He was so beautiful with blond hair and my eyes. He entered the world happy and healthy. I swear I've never seen his face without a smile except a few moments before his death. I decided that the life of warrior was not for him or me anymore not when I had him to brighten my day and destroy any hate I had for anyone." Xena fell silent as she remembered the good memories of Solan.

"His father?" Hecuba asked. "Was he not pleased with what you had chosen?"

"Borias was one of the fiercest warriors I had ever met, but he wanted something different for his son. He found his way a lot sooner than I did and he was murdered during our retreat. I think he was coming back for Solan and I. It wasn't until Solan was three that we found out who."

"Is that when he died?" Hecuba asked. Xena nodded.

"Yeah, we were headed for Cornith to visit Hercules, I wanted to apologize for our first encounter. I was stricken with fever in a village much like this one and I suppose I should have died, but I fought it not willing to leave Solan alone in this world and in a strange village no less. Not even Amphipolis where I knew he would be taken care of despite my crimes. I had a brother there at the time or even someone else in the village."

"Of course, Amphipolis is known for taking very good care of their young, especially the orphaned." Xena nodded.

"While I was lying in the barn, because everyone was trapped inside during the storm and there was one other woman in there with me. The village was attacked my old army, I was lucid enough to hide Solan and the woman was killed right away. Dagnine entered he had been my second in command. They weren't happy that I had deserted them and apparently left them to the mercy of the centaurs who attacked them."

"They killed Solan." Xena nodded.

"I was weak, but I attempted to fight them off. I wasn't very successful and Dagnine decided that raping me would be better than killing me. To say the least he was hurting me and Solan saw. He was as protective of me as I was of him. All I could think about was them leaving after they were done and Solan being safe. To my horror he ran out crying for him to stop…"

"Stop hurting my mommy!" Solan yelled coming out from his hiding place in the barn. "Stop it!" Dagnine looked down at Xena with a grin as blood ran down the side of his face where she had cut him. She knew what he was going to do and fear filled her heart.

"No!" Xena yelled as he stood up. "No, leave him a lone!"

"I did something that I had never done before and would be ashamed of if it wasn't for my son."

"What?" Hecuba asked holding her breath.

"I begged," Xena said with disgust. "I told Solan to run, but he wouldn't. He looked frightened, but I remember for some reason that nothing could ever really wipe the smile that played endlessly on his lips even as he slept. Just watching him sleep could put you in awe of the innocence in a child. Dagnine suddenly stopped his approach towards him."

"The son of Borias, how rich, first I kill the father and now I kill the son." Xena looked at him with surprise, but no rage. She hadn't felt rage since Solan's birth and didn't think it would ever return, not with her beacon of hope always shining, always smiling.

"You killed him?"

"With his own sword no less," Dagnine laughed. "And now the blood of his son will run cold upon it." Two of the three men who had entered with Dagnine grabbed Xena after a look from their leader. Xena struggled as Dagnine told her the story of how he had murdered the father of her son. The third man had a hold of Solan who was struggling as Xena's mind fought furiously against her fever to think of a plan to get them out.

"Let them go," Dagnine ordered to Xena's surprise. They released her in surprise as well as Solan was let loose. He ran forward and than a look or horror filled his eyes and his smile was no more for just a few brief seconds.

"He slit his throat before anyone could react. Solan was the one who saw it coming before even my brain could register what had happened. The sword was so sharp that at first, I thought he was okay and so did he. I could see that endless smile starting to return as he walked the last few steps into my arms. I saw the life slip from his eyes as easily as the blood pour from his throat. I'm not sure if it was too much for me or if he knocked me out either way when I awoke it was still raining and the barn had been torn to pieces around me. Everything else had been burn or knocked down." Xena let out a breath as tears poured from her eyes in sorrow. "I don't know how long I laid there crying, but it was days I'm sure. The rain cooled my fever and somehow I found myself getting better. When I finally got up I was lost, but I was determined to keep the tranquility that Solan had brought me." Xena fell silent, but Hecuba saw that there was more she wanted to say, had to say.

"You can tell me any thing Xena, I'm not as weak as I looked." Xena nodded.

"Everything reminded me, it still does of Solan. I found that I couldn't be around children particularly a blond haired blue eyed boy or I would break down into tears. I immediately retreated from the world to live on my own and perhaps die soon. That's when I noticed the changes in my body and Dagnine's rape came back to haunt me somewhere other than my dreams."

"You were pregnant?" Hecuba asked to be sure. Xena nodded.

"I almost got rid of it, but I knew myself too well and I couldn't do it." Hecuba nodded. She never had liked the idea of getting rid of an unborn child, children were a blessing, but rape was a sensitive subject, it was up to the woman's heart to make the choice than.

"So you had it?" Xena nodded.

"To my horror it was a girl, I have wanted a daughter ever since I was three years old I think. It was just one of my better dreams growing up. I had given up on it after Solan, I didn't think I would ever love anyone again and I didn't intend to be out and about doing things that could get me pregnant. It was always going to be just Solan and I. And so for my daughter to be fathered by the very same bastard that killed my son tore my heart up and ripped it to shreds. Another son I could handle emotionally, but a daughter I could not. But she was still my daughter and I'm ashamed to say that while my daughter seemed to adore me I almost hated her."

"Xena I'm sure you would have warmed up eventually to her." Xena shook her head.

"I tried again and again to kill her. She looked like me, but she had his eyes and she never smiled. I never expected her to smile, how could she when I never smiled at her?"

"Xena, you can't blame yourself for that, you were emotionally unstable and young. Really I tried to Gabrielle plenty of times. I have to admit my need for a son was greater than so I could make up for my lost son. It didn't help that I thought Herodotus didn't love her."

"Yes, but you did not hate her. You loved her, you just weren't ready for her." Hecuba sighed in sadness, she felt Xena's pain. She could only imagine what she must have been feeling now, Xena was right she didn't hate Gabrielle.

"Well answer me this, why did you stop?" Hecuba asked. Xena shrugged.

"She was always sick I thought it would be easy to just smother her or even just neglect her physically. Naturally, I couldn't not take care of physically emotionally the battle was a lost cause. So while she slept frowning the entire time not at all how I pictured my beloved daughter, I stood over her night after night wanting so bad to just end the torture for us both. I was even ready to kill myself afterwards as punishment for the ultimate crime. I had never killed a child and no matter how ruthless I became I never ever took it out on them. I couldn't admit it anymore as a leader of a vast army, but I loved children. I just thought that I'd have conquered all of Greece before they existed."

"Understandable, the rode is no place for a child to live." Xena nodded her agreement.

"Especially the life of a rogue warrior." Hecuba saw Xena was about to retreat into herself and now was not the time.

"So you were standing over her and than what?" Hecuba asked. Xena blinked and looked at her.

"I sucked it up and I placed the cloth inches over her face, but than she began to wake up and I pulled my hand back. And I felt the need to give her weak smile as I stared into her eyes for a brief moment when they didn't remind me of him. I saw intelligence there that I had never seen before now because I had never looked into her eyes again after her birth. It had probably been seven months since than. And you know what she did?" Hecuba saw fresh tears flowing from Xena's eyes and she tightened her hold around her shoulders in comfort. The wind howled and the stable door, which had been cracked a little until now swung, shut with a bang, but neither, noticed.

"What did she do?" Hecuba asked.

"She smiled." Xena smiled a little now, and for a brief second it reached her eyes. Hecuba smiled now. "She actually smiled at me and for that moment I was able to return it, give her a real smile I was even able to tell her I loved her and mean it. For the first time in her life we made a connection. That was the worst thing that could have happened to us." Hecuba looked confused.

"What?" Hecuba asked. "Making that connection after so long is a great thing Xena." Xena shook her head.

"No, not us. We almost made it together until her second birthday before that rage I thought had disappeared returned. Nearly all my nightmares except her conception had gone. I remembered Solan without hurting too much with my daughter to keep me in the present. I suppressed it as best I could, but sometimes I found myself holding her a little too tightly when I looked in her eyes or in my dreams I'd be killing Dagnine and in the end it would be my daughter. I'd wake up quickly in fear that I hurt her in my sleep. She was fine aside from always being sick. I couldn't take the chance of hurting her and my rage was more than I had realized. So I did the only thing I could. I gave her to someone else who could treat her better than I could and she wasn't in danger of being hurt by her mother." Hecuba let her own tears fall now, she could not hold them in any longer. She felt Xena's pain and was in awe that had trusted her enough to tell her, her nightmares.

"Xena you no longer have that rage, you need to reconnect with her."

"I went back once and saw her from a distance."

"And?" Hecuba asked.

"She's better off. I would only hurt her."

"No, you wouldn't. You're different now and things are different, you've managed to leave that life behind now for good. You have found a balance."

"She's going to hate me."

"No, she's not, no mother and child make that connection only to hate the other later."

"I'm afraid," Xena whispered.

"I know, but if you don't you'll regret it for the rest of your life and you will hurt that I can promise you. You will hurt more and more as the years go by." Xena knew she was right.

"I need to think about it," was Xena's only reply. Hecuba nodded and patted her back. Xena was deep in thought within moments and Hecuba sensed she needed to be alone. She stood up and turned to go when Xena grabbed her hand. She turned back around slightly and looked down at her daughter's warrior friend who was more fragile than looked.

"Thank you, because you just listened rather than tried to fix everything I am better now. Not healed, but I think I have a peace of mind about it all." Hecuba smiled and Xena gave her a real smile. Smiles had been a thing of the past until now and now she would set off to find her daughter.