DISCLAIMER: Xena Warrior Princess and its characters are the property of Renaissance Pictures.
CHALLENGE: Written for the Dead of Winter ficathon.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Xena rode along, trying her best to stifle a yawn and pay attention to yet another one of Gabrielle's riveting tales of the gods. She knew she should be paying attention, but to her, once you heard one story about the gods you'd heard them all.
"Xena, are you even listening?" Gabrielle had long since noticed the glazed over look in the warrior's pale blue eyes.
Xena started. She turned away, hoping to hide the surprised blush that graced her high cheekbones. "Yes, of course I was listening."
Gabrielle smirked. "If you were listening, what did I just say?"
"You were talking about a god." Xena knew that there was little to no chance that the bard would just let it go, but she had to try.
Gabrielle arched an eyebrow. "Which god?" she asked, crossing her arms over her chest.
The blonde shook her head 'no.'
That earned her another shake of the head and a sigh.
"Zeus?" Xena guessed again. When Gabrielle shook her head a third time she let out an exasperated sigh of her own. "What difference does it make which god you were talking about? They're all the same."
The blonde's gaze grew annoyed. "First, I'd like to point out the gods are not all the same. They each have their own story of struggle and triumph " Gabrielle let her words trail wistfully. She turned back to the warrior when she heard Xena let out an indignant snort. "Well you certainly weren't providing stimulating conversation." Gabrielle turned back around and quickened her pace.
Xena let out a silent curse. She hadn't meant to cause a fight. 'Talkative Gabrielle' could be slightly annoying, but Xena would take her any day over the silence of 'Angry Gabrielle.' When the blonde was angry, the silence would stretch on forever, leaving Xena feeling lonely and off center.
"I've been thinking." Xena started slowly. She knew the blonde was listening even though she refused to acknowledge the warrior. "Solstice is soon and I was thinking maybe we could stop in Poteidaia so you can visit with your family."
Gabrielle smiled to herself at Xena's suggestion. Sometimes the warrior could make her so angry, but in the next instance she was sweet and caring in a way no other person knew but Gabrielle. It warmed the blonde's heart. Still it was good to make the warrior sweat every once and a while.
Xena frowned when the bard didn't respond. She didn't think she'd made Gabrielle that mad. Though Gabrielle had been a little restless and moody the last few days. They'd been on the road for the last two moons, nothing breaking up the monotony save for the random stop in a new town or the odd request to stop a warlord from attacking a local village. Xena was beginning to think that Gabrielle needed a break, which was why she had suggested the trip to her village.
"I figure we will be there in another three or four days if we start traveling east." Xena's frown only grew when the blonde remained silent. That only meant one thing, she'd have to do something that she absolutely hated to do. "Look, Gabrielle, I'm sorry for not paying attention to the stories."
Again Gabrielle smiled to herself. She decided to relent. She knew what it took for the brunette to say that. Xena hated to apologize. "Actually, I think I might like to go visit the Amazons."
"The Amazons?" Xena repeated. She'd been sure that her blonde companion had been missing her family. Gabrielle had been telling her stories of her and Lila's childhood a lot lately.
"Sure, we haven't been to see them for a while and I really miss Ephiny." It had been almost two seasons since they'd been to the Amazon Village.
A small part of Xena was relieved at the bard's suggestion. She'd gladly walk through fire a million times for the blonde, but sitting through Solstice dinner with a man that could barely stand her presence was not high on the warrior's list of fun things to do. Besides she didn't mind the Amazons so much anymore and she really couldn't fault a group of people that held Gabrielle in such high regards. The fact that she loved when Gabrielle dressed in her royal leathers was just an added bonus.
"Sounds like a good idea."
"Thanks again for helping me with Xena's present, Eph. I don't know what I would have done without you." Gabrielle fixed the tie on the box.
"It was no problem. Just do me one favor?" Ephiny paused and looked over at the blonde queen expectantly.
"Please don't tell Xena that I had anything to do with this."
Gabrielle looked at her in confusion. "I thought you said she'd love it."
"She will love it, if she thinks it comes from you. If she knows I had anything to do with it, she'll tie me to a tree and use me as chakram practice."
Gabrielle's nose crinkled at the thought. "I don't think she'd do anything that drastic."
"Right, well I should retire to my hut. Solari said she had something special planned," Ephiny said, her smile growing mischievous.
Gabrielle chuckled and shook her head. "You would think that you two had only been together four days instead of four summers."
"The same could be said for you and Xena."
Gabrielle blushed and ducked her head sheepishly.
"It is nothing to be embarrassed about. You wear love well, My Queen," Ephiny said with a gentle smile.
"Thank you, Ephiny. So do you." Gabrielle offered her friend a bright smile.
"Thank you, My Queen. Well, I should get back to the hut. Emeny and Tolaria will be your guards for the night. Is there anything else you might need?"
"No, I have everything I need." Gabrielle patted the box in front of her.
"Then I will bid you goodnight, Queen Gabrielle." Ephiny walked to the front of the hut. She turned back to face Gabrielle once again. "It is good to have you back in the village, My Queen. Try not to be gone so long next time," she said with a wink. Then she walked out of the Royal Hut and left the queen standing alone.
Xena entered to find the blonde smiling and humming happily to herself. "Well this is certainly an improvement from six days ago," she said with a smirk.
"It is," Gabrielle agreed. "I even got you a present." Gabrielle pointed to the box on the table.
"Is that what you were doing all day?"
"Yes, and let me tell you that you are not an easy person to shop for."
"Wait, right here." Xena walked to the bedroom she shared with Gabrielle and grabbed a box of her own. "I got you something too," she said as she reentered the room. She thrust the gift towards Gabrielle.
The blonde wasted no time opening the box, her hands moving faster than Xena had ever seen. She gasped when she lifted the gold necklace that held a single emerald, the color of Gabrielle's eyes.
"Xena, it's the one I wanted. How did you know?"
"I noticed you looking at it while we were in Theopolis. The day I told you I was getting Argo shoed, I slipped into the shop and got it for you." Xena smiled at the younger woman, happy that she had had the foresight to purchase the gift.
"Thank you, it's beautiful," Gabrielle whispered, tears shimmering in her eyes. She reached up and placed a gentle kiss on the warrior's lips. "Now open yours!" She excitedly pushed the box towards the brunette.
Xena opened her present with a lot less zealous than the bard. She pulled out the scraps of fabric and arched her eyebrow. "There's nothing here but veils."
Gabrielle blushed deeply but continued to hold the brunette's gaze. "Right, I figured this could be a gift that we could both enjoy."
Xena grinned at the blonde before lowering her head to kiss Gabrielle once again. This kiss more ardent and heated than the last. They pulled apart, both slightly breathless.
"Happy Solstice, Xena."
"Happy Solstice, Gabrielle."
The queen took the warrior's hand and began to pull her back towards the bedchambers.
"Gabrielle, what are you doing?"
"I figured you could try your present on." Her green eyes had grown dark with desire as she turned back to the brunette.
"Where you lead I shall follow, My Queen." Xena smiled as she allowed herself to be led towards the back of the hut.
"I like the sound of that."
Xena stopped short as a thought struck her.
"Xena, what is it?"
"Gabrielle, wasn't Ephiny out with you all day?"
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