By Joseph Anderson

Xena and Gabrielle belong to Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement is intended with this fanfic.

No sex or violence. A little bad language.

This plays with an idea that has been in a few stories by other writers.

A pair of small children were darting in and out among sacks of grain and baskets of vegetables. When they spotted each other they would laugh and squeal and disappear again. Xena and Gabrielle stopped and watched them. The little girl tripped and fell and started crying. "Ahh.." Gabrielle said sympathetically. A pretty young mother appeared and swooped the girl up as the little boy was holding her skirt. Gabrielle continued watching the family and then looked at Xena. Her friend's eyes were red like Gabriielle knew her own were. Neither wanted to say what they were thinking. Gabrielle knew Xena saw Solan and Eve. Xena would never say it but she knew Gabrielle was thinking of her own lost daughter.....Hope.

"We're being silly," Xena said gruffly and looked away from the mother and children.

"Yeah, I know," Gabrielle agreed with a sad smile. Then Gabrielle put her hand on Xena's arm. She was looking at an old man shuffling down the street. A teenage boy was sidling up on him eyeing his purse. "Oh yeah..." Gabrielle said.

Just as the boy began to make his move a foot tripped him sending him face first in the dirt. "What's that? Eh? What's that?" the old man said, looking surprised. He peered at the boy. "Watch where you walk, young man. Don't go around with your head in the clouds. Where would Achilles be if he didn't watch where he was going?"

" he is anyway..."

The old man stamped his foot, "That's not the point!"

Now Xena was standing behind the tiny old man with her arms crossed. The young robber gulped and looked over at who tripped him. First he saw some fancy boot knives with curving hand guards. He let his gaze travel up muscular legs and a washboard stomach until he found the cold eyes staring at him. She flicked a look at the old man. The young thief said, "Yeah...uh yeah...I'll watch where I'm going from now on...uh sir." He carefully got to his feet, looked at the big woman in dark leather again and the muscular little blonde and backed up a few steps, then turned and started running.

"Hmmph...never listen....." The old man unsteadily turned around and saw Xena. He shook a shaking finger at her. "Let that be a lesson to you too, young lady!"

She smiled. "I will. Thanks for the advice."

He looked confused like he wasn't sure what she was talking about. He nodded emphatically. "Well, all right then." He noticed Gabrielle. "Catch your death dressing that way. Girls had more sense when I was a boy." He started shuffling off. Gabrielle and Xena were about to walk away when they noticed him stagger and crumple to the ground. The two women ran up. Xena felt his pulse.

"We need to get him inside."

They were in the healer's home. When she saw him the woman exclaimed with exasperation, "What were you doing out? How many times have I told you?" They put him in a bed and then Xena and the healer spoke alone. Now Xena and Gabrielle were sitting with the frail old man. He was waxy looking and tiny in the large bed.

Xena gave him some tea in sips holding his head up. Gabrielle looked at her friend. They stepped out of earshot of the bed although he probably couldn't hear them anyway. "What's going on, Xena?"

"The healer is sending a messenger to his family. The village is a day away though and he won't last the night."

"He's dying? Why?"

"He's old. That's all." Xena said, "The healer says he's a good man. She has to go deliver a baby at a farm and he shouldn't die alone." Gabrielle nodded and patted her friend's shoulder. They returned to the bedside.

It was past midnight and the oil lamp cast a dim light in the small room. The two women were asleep in chairs. The old man opened bleary eyes.

"Mother! Mother!" He was whispering in a weak voice.

Xena and Gabrielle came awake. Gabrielle said, "It's all right."


"I'm here."

Xena and Gabrielle turned at the voice. Gabrielle said, "Aphrodite?"

The goddess ignored her and walked up to the bed. Her beautiful face was serious as she reached down and let her fingers trail over the wrinkled baldhead. She smiled in a way that seemed to warm the room, "You look like when you were a baby."

There was a light in the feeble old eyes. "You came!"

The goddess of love touched the tip of his nose. "How many kids do you think I have?'

"Nobody ever believed me!"

"Sshh...don't get excited."

"My daughter...she has a family... do you know them?"

Aphrodite sat down on an ornate stool that just appeared. "Sure sweetcheeks, I keep tabs on all my kids." She glanced up at Gabrielle and caught her eyes for a moment.

"You do?"

"All the time, sugar. You didn't know it was me is all." She looked up at Gabrielle again. "If I came as myself you'd a gotten sick of me." She mocked, "What's she want NOW? What is Aphrodite up to THIS TIME?" She smiled at Gabrielle and looked at her dying child again.

"What was that?" Gabrielle whispered to Xena.

"I'm not sure." Xena answered quietly.

The old man excitedly said, "They don't believe me! You're descended from Golden Aphrodite!" He started coughing. It shook his entire frail small body.

The deity laid a glowing hand on his chest and the racking cough stopped. She said gently, "They're better off not knowing, babycakes. It didn't help you did it? Lots of times we don't tell. We just put 'em with regular families who lose a baby. If they go looking for adventure, maybe someday I'll clue 'em in. Maybe." She glanced up at Gabrielle again.

Gabrielle felt lightheaded. She looked in her friend's face. Xena whispered, "It would explain a lot."

The old figure said weakly, "I'm sorry I didn't do more, Mother. Aeneas was such a hero....I never... "

The supernaturally beautiful figure took his tiny old hand. "You did just fine, honey. Where would heroes be without their sidekicks? Up shit creek!" She laughed musically.

He tried to smile then made a wheezing sound and closed his eyes. The goddess continued holding his hand as his breathing got weaker and weaker. Finally the breathing stopped. Aphrodite gently set the limp hand down and kissed the tiny old baldhead. She closed her eyes and said something silently. The goddess rose and looked at the two friends. She started to open her mouth but was interrupted.

Gabrielle said, "I understand, Aphrodite. You don't have to say anything."


"What you were trying to tell me. I understand."

"Great. Uh, about what, sweetcheeks?"

Gabrielle shook her head with a smile. " You can stop pretending now. You were right to handle it the way you did. I wouldn't have missed Poteidaia and my family there."

The goddess smiled uncertainly. Xena suddenly had a bad feeling. She tapped her friend's shoulder but was ignored.

Gabrielle flung her arms wide open and said raptly, "I'm ready, Mother! I'm ready for anything!"

Aphrodite's beautiful eyes got big. "As if!"

She put a hand on her chest like she couldn't believe it. " Mortals! My daughter! Hah! Wait'll I tell Cupid!" She covered her face with her hands. Then she looked up. "Oh, babykins, you're so sweet! You said that just to make me feel better. My daughter! What a hoot! With those ankles!" She disappeared in a shower of light though her laughter hung in the air.

Gabrielle's face was red. She lowered her arms. After a long silence she said, "That went well."

Xena agreed. "I thought so."