DISCLAIMER: Xena Warrior Princess and its characters are the property of Renaissance Pictures and MCA. No infringement intended.
CHALLENGE: Part of the 'Ground Zero' series and Vampires, Ghosts and Zombies challenge.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Ground Zero - London, 5.55am
By Morgaine


Perched on the back of a large stone lion, Xena sat monitoring the scene below her where at least half a dozen bodies lay strewn about the paving. "Behind you!" she called out in an almost sing-song voice.

Gabrielle finished off her current opponent and twisted round to be confronted by a middle aged woman wearing a tweed jacket, her lumbering straight-armed gait somewhat impeded by the numerous green bags emblazoned with the legend 'Harrods' that were hooked over her lower arms causing her to bend back at a ridiculous angle to balance their weight. With an incredulous expression the blonde shoved the grey-faced woman hard, causing her to topple over backwards. There she lay, ineffectually trying to sit up, unwilling to part with her weighty purchases even in death.

"Two more coming up on your right." the warrior observed casually.

Gabrielle shot her a withering glance. "Look, I know I said you should let me fight my own battles more often but…"

"I believe your exact words were 'For god's sakes Xena, stop fretting, I can handle whatever comes my way. Next time let me do the fighting and you can do the worrying.'"

Gabrielle grumbled something under her breath.

"Sorry, I didn't quite catch that." The warrior flashed the bard a brilliant smile. "Oh, and make that four!" she added in an enthusiastic and decidedly unworried tone.

The blonde turned to meet the oncoming figures, each lumbering forward with a slack-jaw and a glazed vacant look. 'We really ought to go and visit Joxer some time' the bard thought. Executing a forward flip worthy of her lover she sailed over the heads of her attackers catching the furthest back neatly in the neck with her sais. The zombie, a short man wearing a dark uniform labelled 'Traffic Warden' on a breast pocket gave a grunt and fell to the floor, deceased once more. The three remaining zombies, turning in time to see him hit the ground, gave a spontaneous round of straight-armed applause.

The impromptu celebration caused the two women to exchange an utterly confused look, which unfortunately distracted Gabrielle long enough for the undead to finish clapping and move forward the few paces needed to grab at her with deathly-grey outstretched hands. Before she could even register their touch there came a loud whooshing sound, a flash of metal, and all three bodies simultaneously parted company with their heads.

Xena caught the chakram and leapt from her vantage point down to the paving, stopping to wipe the disc on the tweed jacket of the late, departed, yet still moving, Harrods customer.

Gabrielle gave her a rueful smile. "Thanks."

Xena slipped her arms around her partner and planted a kiss on the top of her head. "Well I wasn't going to let them turn the best thing that ever happened to me into some mindless walking waste of space was I?" A stray thought skimmed across her brain that they really ought to go and visit Joxer some time. She hugged her bard closer, looking around at the unfamiliar architecture, apparel and forms of transport. "Uh, Gabrielle – how in Hades did we get here anyway?"

The small blonde raised her head from its oh-so-comfortable place on the warrior's chest and looked up into the somewhat confused blue eyes above. "It'll be a dream," she said matter-of-factly, "probably due to the brilliant idea a certain warrior princess had that it would be better to drink all three bottles of the wine we were given yesterday rather than cart them all over Greece." She smiled up at the now somewhat discomfited dark-haired woman. "I expect all we have to do is wake up and we'll be back in our bedroll by the campfire."

Xena raised an eyebrow and smiled suggestively. "Then I'll make you a bargain – you waken right this minute and I'll make the waking up worth your while." And she leant down to gently touch her lips to those of her lover's.

A split second later the square was deserted but for a pile of bodies and the still struggling corpse of the undead shopper.

The End

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