Journey of Discovery:Part two: Denouement

Copyright Disclaimers: Xena, Gabrielle, Hercules, Iolaus, Joxer and other characters mentioned in this story who appeared in Xena: Warrior Princess are the sole copyright property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. I may have borrowed a few lines from a couple of episodes too. It's just for fun! No profit is sought from this.

Violence Disclaimer: There is violence within this story. Not overly excessive but butts will be kicked!

Subtext disclaimer: Gabrielle and Xena are lovers. There is no graphic sex in this Fiction. If this bothers you (the lovers' part rather than the lack of graphic action, but I am guessing that will bother some!) or is illegal for you to read in your neck of the woods, please do not continue.

Bad Language Disclaimer: There is bad language. Again not excessive and in keeping with the show.

Hint: This is the fourth in my series. I strongly recommend you read Oil of Lanius, Long Shadows Past and Journey of Discovery: Part One: Family Ties first. It will help explain situations and characters that may be unfamiliar to you and it would make me happy!

Tag Line: Our duo are getting used to life as a trio, but old scores will be settled and old enemies will return with devastating consequences…

Feedback: is welcomed and appreciated. Please feed this Bard!

Xena smiled as she entered the stable. She removed the bag from her shoulder and placed it on the floor and moved towards the tall Palomino who was eying her with suspicion. As she was close enough to reach out and stroke the fine animal, Argo nudged her face forwards towards Xena's chest.

There was a peal of laughter, and Xena found herself chuckling as well.

"Well Argo, you better not let on to the other war horses that you were so good with children or your reputation is shot," she murmured and watched as the horse gently nudged the blond haired bundle that Xena was carrying in the sling across her chest. A small hand waved aimlessly and Argo gently butted it with her nose causing more laughter from both humans.

"Enough of this play," said Xena in a light-hearted tone. "We're going on a ride." She leant down and kissed the blond head and a wave of pleasure went through her as she felt Lyceus' head move to one side and he burrowed in closer to her.

With a practised motion she placed the saddle on the mare's back and ensured all the straps were tightened. She then picked up the previously discarded bag and attached it to the saddle.

"I commanded armies that didn't carry as much equipment as I need now," she said and tickled Lyceus' cheek, "and it's down to you young man."

Lyceus yawned in response and Xena again kissed his head, and led Argo from the stable.

Any thoughts of making a quiet and quick departure were ended as she was surrounded by several amazons. Lyceus perked up at the noise and attention and it was with a now alert baby that Xena left the Amazon village muttering to herself.

"I bet it's nice to know you still have got it. You'll always have the Xenites."

Xena turned to see a smiling Epinon leaned up against a tree.

"It's not me they are interested in, believe me. Its little smiler here."

Xena strode forward and gave her friend a handshake. "When did you get back?" she asked. Epinon returned the handshake warmly and then took one of Lyceus' small hands.

"I can't believe how big you getting, fella." She shook his hand and then looked at Xena. "Late last night."

Xena nodded and there was an awkward silence.

"Look you two are off for a ride. I'll catch-"

"Come with us, Pony. Argo won't mind."

Argo snorted at this, but Xena merely patted the mare's neck.

Epinon sighed and nodded. She watched Xena mount gracefully, unperturbed by the extra weight at the front, and then got on behind the warrior. Argo ambled on at a slow walk for several minutes and neither women spoke until they reached a small stream.

Xena half turned to Epinon. "Here OK?"

"Fine by me," and she swung her leg over the back of the horse and jumped down. Xena did the same and removed the bag and started to rummage through it. She pulled out a small bed roll and a blanket and knelt down on the ground. She then arranged the bedroll under a tree and lifted the now sleeping baby from her and laid him on the bedroll and covered him with the blue blanket. She then reached in the bag again and pulled out the miniature Argo that Athena had given Lyceus and tucked that under the blanket too.

"Ah Hoss," said Epinon and sniggered.

Xena pinned her with a stare. "No cracks please, or your homecoming will not be a pleasant one."

Epinon held her hands up in a defensive gesture. "No more comments, I promise." She watched as the warrior's face softened as she kissed the little cheek and gently ruffled the blonde hair, before energetically springing up. She glanced at her friend whose mood she detected had darkened and braced herself to ask the question.

"How is she? How did it go?"

Epinon rubbed her palms of hands on her thighs and looked upwards, as if trying to gather strength before speaking. "About the same. She-she's staying with Hippocrates for a while." Her voice was laced with emotion.

"D'wanna sit?" said Xena and pointed to a log. Epinon nodded wordlessly and sat down, head drooped. Xena said nothing, recognising her friend's anguish and knowing just how difficult it was to talk about the pain she was going through. Her mind flashed through the times when she too had to watch her soulmate injured or in pain while being powerless to help. The feeling of helplessness was destroying.

"I just can't believe it was such an innocuous hit. She didn't even lose consciousness." Epinon stood up and started to pace up and down. "She's had worse, we both had. And now-"She slumped back onto the log and put her head in her hands. "Everything she's worked for, gone, just like that. Because of those slavers."

Xena watched Epinon rub her eyes and saw the tears fall to the ground. She placed her hand on the Amazon's shoulder.

"Pony, it's not that long since it happened. Head injuries-"

"Are unpredictable, and often take months to recover from even seemingly minor ones." Epinon recited the oft spoken words with sarcasm. "I have heard that, from you, Piri, Joxer and now Hippocrates," she added with an accusing tone in her voice. "I feel like I am an expert now. And it's been three months-look at him. It happened the day before he was born."

Xena glanced at Lyceus and then back to Epinon. She knew that Epinon was angry, frustrated and most of all worried about her partner. She had the pressure of trying to keep strong for Solari for so long and now could let it all go.

"Do you want to drill?" asked Xena. Epinon looked up and nodded.

They stepped away from the log and both drew their swords. "Don't go easy with me," said Epinon. Xena raised an eyebrow, and brought her sword down.

They drilled for twenty minutes and Xena pushed Epinon to her limits. They were both covered in sheen of sweat and breathing heavily. Xena knocked Epinon's sword from her hand and shouted "yield."

"No!" said Epinon and launched herself at Xena with her hands. Xena threw her sword away and they wrestled for several minutes until Xena had Epinon pinned to the ground with her right arm behind her back. Xena loosened her hold as she felt Epinon's body shake and then let go completely. Epinon lay on the ground crying and Xena sat next to her unmoving.

After several minutes Xena got up and busied herself tending to Argo. She kept an eye on the Amazon who slowly hauled herself up to a sitting position. She bent her knees and kept her head low.

"Sorry 'bout that," she said eventually.

Xena stopped brushing Argo and walked over to where the stricken Amazon sat. She crouched down next to her. "You knew I needed to let go, blow up, didn't you?"

Xena nodded. "You did the same for me," she said as she remembered fighting ten amazons when frustration over Gabrielle's withdrawal from her took over.

Epinon rubbed her eyes. "Thanks."

"Pony it might not help, but Solari is with the best healer in Greece. It is only three months, and yes head injuries are unpredictable, and she could make a full recovery."

"If she doesn't," said Epinon fearfully. "I don't-"

"If she doesn't, well you approach that bridge when you come to it. Granted she won't be able to fight or be chief scout but there are other things she could do. She can still live a normal life, you just have to adapt." Xena looked at the ground at that.

"Like you and Gab have," said Epinon gently.

Xena glanced quickly at Epinon before staring at the ground again. "Yes," she said quietly, "it might seem like the end of the world now-"she glanced across at Lyceus, "but I am sure you'll make it work."

Epinon realised the depth of Xena's emotion as she heard several catches in her voice. "How's Gabrielle doing? Sol was worried about taking Piri."

"She's fine. As fine as anyone can be having limited sleep."

Epinon snorted, and Xena looked at her and grinned. "He still wakes up to feed. That's something I can't help with." She looked at the baby who was stirring. "We better get the little Prince back before he gets too hungry. He certainly inherited Gabrielle's appetite!"

"Thanks Xena," said Epinon sincerely.

"Anytime Pony. Don't be a stranger, eh?"

Epinon opened her mouth to speak but a cry came from Lyceus.

"See what I mean?" Xena strode to him and picked him up. She then threw him in the air twice to which Lyceus gurgled with joy. "Come on let's go and find Mummy."