Usual disclaimers apply.

Chapter 16

The sun was beginning to set and I was staring at my food in silence. Mom and I hadn't really talked since Mama left, her words to me about being her daughter painful for the first time in my life.

Wondering if she would be back before nightfall, I finally looked at Mom and gathered what courage I had left, "Why did she say that to me?"

"Samina?" Green eyes looked at me fully.

"Why did she say I was her daughter that way? Does she think I'll kill too?"

Mom put her plate down and moved towards me. Taking my plate, she placed it on the ground before taking my hands in hers. "I'm not going to lie to you Sam. Xena and I are scared. Scared of what this time travel is going to do to you, what our old selves will be like, and how you will cope with it all."

"So you just figure I'm going to forget everything you've ever taught me and go running to Ares?"

"No Sam," Mom's voice was low. "But both of us know how Ares will try to manipulate you, how easy it is to give in the hate, the hurt, to feel sorry for yourself. With that mindset you might do things you never thought possible."

I sighed, "I'm proud to be your daughter. Both of you, but when she said that…." I trailed off. "It hurt in a way that I've never felt."

Pulling my hands from Mom's I wiped my eyes and looked into the fire. "I don't want to go back, but I know I have no choice." I watched as the flames licked the sides of the rocks before speaking once more, "I do have a choice though on a few other things. You and Mama need to listen to me about them or today won't be a onetime thing."

Finally hearing hoof beats I looked up from the fire and watched as Mama entered camp. She took care of Argo before joining us by the fire. Taking the plate from Mom's hand she said her thanks and kissed Mom gently before sitting crossed legged on the fur with Mom.

Saying nothing, I scraped my scraps in the fire and moved to my bedrolls. Lying down, I wondered when she would speak to me again and if either of us was really ready for the conversation that I knew would be happening.

Pulling the covers over my head, I tried to block the low murmur of voices coming from the fire. I knew my parents were talking about me and though I only wanted to go to sleep, I knew that it wouldn't come as long as they continued to speak.

The voices finally stopped and I felt the blankets being pulled from my head gently, "We need to talk, Samina."

Sighing, I sat up and wrapped the blanket around me before following Mama back to the furs by the fire. "What is there to say?" I finally asked. "You made your thoughts pretty well known."

Mama brushed her hand over her face and stared into the fire as Mom kept a constant touch on her crossed knee. "I love you, Sam. I love you more than you can understand without being a mother yourself. That love doesn't stop me from being scared, from hoping I'm doing the right thing with you, from seeing enough of me in you to worry about what will happen to you in the past."

"You really think I'd turn to Ares so easily?" I demanded.

"I did," Mama's azure eyes locked on mine. "I felt alone, Sam. Lyceus was dead, my mother blamed me for it, and I had no one else, nowhere to turn. If that happens to you, if you begin to feel that way…."

"Why would Ares want a child?" I asked.

"You won't always be a child, Sammy," this time it was Mom's voice who answered. "Ares tried to draw me to him as well, he figured if he couldn't have Xena, than I was the next best thing."

"And without being able to have Eve in the future, then he may want me simply because of who I am?"

Mama nodded. "Exactly. What happened to you today, Sam, it's the first step."

"The first step towards the dark side?" I quipped.

"This is not a joke, Samina." Mom's voice was sharp. "You have to be careful, you can't let the anger control you or there may be a time you don't come back from it."

I looked at my moms and took a deep breath, "Xena and Gabrielle will be there though," I protested. "They won't let me walk your path Mama. No matter what, I know they won't."

Mama gave a half-smile, "How can you be so sure, Sam?"

"Because you wouldn't," I replied simply.


Waking up, I yawned and snuggled back under my blankets. The early morning chill was worse than usual and I was still tired. The fire had died down and I noticed that my moms were still asleep as well.

We had talked late into the night and when I had gone to bed my mothers had continued their conversation. I knew that the subject was far from closed, but I also knew that I needed to be more careful of allowing my anger to get the better of me as well.

I wanted to talk to them today about the training. I was beyond sick of it and wanted nothing more than to have a break of some sort. Any type of break would be good at this point, but I was really hoping I could talk them into going home for a few days and enjoying the comforts there that I was so desperately missing.

I must have fallen asleep again because I groaned when I felt Mama shaking me gently, "Wakey, wakey," she teased as I groaned once more.

"What?" I finally mumbled.

"Time to help me catch breakfast," she replied much too happily.

"Take Argo instead," I responded turning over once more and trying in vain to keep the blanket over me. Feeling myself being lifted I let out a strong kick and grinned briefly as I heard the muffled reaction to it.

Being dropped on the ground unexpectedly is never fun, but it at least gave me the desired result. I was no longer over Mama's shoulder and I decided to make my stand at that moment. I wasn't sure if my moms would listen to me, but I wasn't going to just mindlessly obey them anymore. I had had enough and they were going to hear about it one way or another.

"Samina!" Mama glared at me. "What was that?"

"I told you to take Argo," I said quietly. "I'm done."

"What do you mean done?" Mama asked evenly.

"I've had enough," I took a deep breath and glared at Mom as she finally got off her bedrolls and stood by Mama. "Have either of you thought what this crash course in ancient Greece has been like for me?"

"Sam, you have to be…."

"No!" I cut Mom off. "I'm tired of hearing that I have to be prepared. Don't you think I know that? My entire life is over and you're spending what little time I have putting me through hell. I've had enough. I've I haven't had a break since we came back out here. If I'm not sparring with you guys, then I'm learning new hunting or tracking skills, not to mention the scroll time you have me putting in." I paused and took a deep breath. "Oh, and let's not forget the conditioning I'm getting so I don't have such a hard time keeping up, the fact that I'm cut off from my best friend and have nobody to talk to, and you won't even let me go home to relax or do anything fun before I'm sent off to make this my life."

I advanced quickly and looked up into Mama's eyes. "Have either of you even thought once of what I wanted to do with the time I have left here? Did you? No! I'd still like time to be a kid and have some fun with you before I'm forced to leave. I already hate ancient Greece and I haven't even been sent back yet! It's no wonder I let the anger take over yesterday, it's the only way to find peace!" I finished my rant and turned, running toward Mavri.

I never made it to Mavri and went limp as Mama grabbed me. Falling to the ground once again I lay there like a slug refusing to respond to her in any way. Hearing a loud sigh, I was tugged to my feet and jumped forward with the swat she bestowed on my backside.

Deciding not to react, I allowed her to pull me towards the fire Mom now had going once more. "Sit down Samina," Mama directed.

Ignoring her, I stood staring off into the woods behind her and felt myself being pushed to the furs by strong hands. "I said sit down, young lady."

Hitting the ground again, I kept my focus on the woods and refused to speak or acknowledge either of my mothers. "This is not the way to get us to listen to you, Samina," Mom's voice finally penetrated my fog.

"Well, telling Mama I didn't want to hunt sure didn't seem to work," I huffed.

"Samina," Mom's voice was beyond warning. "Talk to us about this."

Finally looking at her before glancing to Mama I sighed. "I told you, I'm tired. I want to go home and have a real bath and sleep in a real bed. I want to go out for pizza and see Rhys and be a kid again. I'll never get to do any of those things ever again and instead of letting me enjoy the little time I have left, you're making things miserable."

"Sam," Mama tried.

"No," I looked at her hard. "I'm miserable. Don't you think I should at least be allowed a little fun before misery becomes my life?"

I watched as my parents looked at each other and then back to me. "Samina," Mama's voice was deep. "That is one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard. Your life is not going to be one big misery. You may not have modern conveniences, but you certainly aren't going to be living like a Neanderthal either."

"No, just like a 21st century girl in Ancient Greece," I huffed. "I want to go home. Please, enough with the camping, and sparing, and the gods be damned hunting." I was pleading now, my voice coming out more as a whine than anything else.

Standing, Mom took Mama's hand and they moved away from me. Taking this opportunity, I quickly pulled sweats on over my nighttime wear and tugged my boots on as well. Looking over my shoulder, I ran towards Mavri once more and whistled. Luckily he was under a tree and upon hearing my whistle bowed. Smiling I used his extended leg to stand on his back before pulling myself into the tree above him. It wasn't my apple tree, but it would do for the moment.

"Sam, come down here." Mama's voice was quiet and I ignored her.

"Why, time for some more training? Need to get in my daily amount of some ancient skill I don't want to learn before breakfast?"

"Sam, we want to talk with you, please come down," Mama asked again.

"Maybe I've decided I want to live in this tree now. Maybe I'm tired of being on the ground," I sniped once again.

"Have it your way, little one," Mama said.

My eyes widened in amazement as she easily climbed the tree and perched on the branch across from me. "Nice tree," she commented.

"It used to be," I said. "Before the landlord let anybody rent here."

"Okay Sam, I know you're angry, but the disrespect stops right now."

I remained quiet and she began to speak. "You're right, Sam."

My head snapped up and my eyes stared into hers in surprise.

She chuckled at my look. "Try not to fall out of the tree in your shock," she joked. "Your mom and I have been pushing you pretty hard. We want to make sure that you are as prepared as you can be before going back, I guess that we never really thought what it might be doing to you."

"Tell me something I don't know," I muttered.

"Well, your mom and I have a surprise for you, so come on, out of the tree, we'll explain more on the way."

Giving in, I brightened a bit, "Are we going home?"

Mama shook her head and I scowled again. "Then forget it, I don't want any more of your surprises."

"Sam," Mama looked at me hard.

"No," I wiped a tear from my eye. "I want to go home. I want to go home. Once I go back I'll never be able to go home again and you won't even let me have that now."

Turning from her, I thought over my options and was taken by surprise when Mama grabbed me around the waist. "Have it your way, little one," she said before flipping us out of the tree onto the ground.

"Mama!" I screeched. "How on earth did you do that?" The fact that I didn't want to talk to her momentarily forgotten.

"I have many skills." She winked at me and picked me up slinging me across her shoulder like a bag of potatoes. As she walked she began a steady stream of playful swats to my backside. "You're getting this surprise whether you want it or not," she informed me before landing a slightly harder swat and plopping me into the saddle on Mavri.

Doing an easy flip, she landed perfectly on Argo and I heard Mom mutter, "Show off," before handing Mama Mavri's reigns and mounting Domino.

Looking behind me, I realized that camp had been cleaned up while I was in the tree and I crossed my arms in front of me pouting. The last place I wanted to be was heading somewhere other than home, but knew if I even thought of trying to dismount Mavri while we were moving I wouldn't be able to sit in the saddle comfortably until my next birthday.


Mom and Mama finally pulled their horses to a stop. I followed suit but was still only half listening to them. Tying the horses to a large tree, we entered a half-hidden cave.

"What is it with you two and caves?" I asked.

Neither of them spoke, but I heard Mom chuckle a bit as we followed faint light coming from inside the cave. Finally stopping I gasped in awe and looked around me. The walls were sparkling with crystals of different colors and just enough light came in from the top and side walls of the cave. There was an indoor waterfall that emptied into a still pool and below that another large pool of water with steam rising from it.

"A natural hot spring," Mom announced with a smile. "Your Mama and I found this cave shortly after we came here and we still enjoy relaxing here when we get the chance."

I smiled, the first real smile in days. "Hot water?"

Mama nodded removing the last of her clothing. "Yup, come on, let's not waste it," she said entering the hot water, quickly followed by Mom.

I hurried to undress and finally joined them in water, feeling my tension relax almost immediately. "This is great." I admitted. "Thanks."

Mom turned and looked at me. "See, we do listen when you talk to us."

Finding a stone ledge around the edge of the pool, I sat on it and continued to relax. "Right, I guess it's all in the delivery, huh?"

We sat in silence for a while and then I remembered a question I wanted to ask. "You said you found this cave soon after you got here. How did you find it?"

Mom smiled at me and went into story telling mode. I had listened for almost an hour while Mom and Mama told me how hard it had been for them when they first arrived her, how they acclimated, and what they did when they found out Mom was pregnant.

I felt a little better at my trip back to ancient Greece now, at least I had an idea of what I'd be facing. They hadn't had any warning or clue of what was to happen.

My moms had finally stood up and were exiting the bliss of the hot water. Drying off with the towels they brought, I joined them in disappointment. I could have stayed in that water all night, not to mention that I knew I still had snares to check before it got dark. Now that I was, in large part, responsible for most of the game for our meals, I didn't like hunting nearly as much as I thought I would.

Exiting the cave, I mounted Mavri and began a slow walk back toward the camp with Mama and Mom. "Don't forget to check your snares." Mama said as we reached camp and dismounted. "I'll take care of the horses."

I nodded and grabbed my hunting bag, making sure my knife was with me as well as my staff. I dragged myself into the woods to check the snares and hoped whatever I had caught would be easy to dress for dinner.