DISCLAIMER: Xena Warrior Princess and its characters are the property of Renaissance Pictures and MCA. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: set around season 2 maybe..*shrug* beta by sams_ceara
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By Elfcat255


"Xena…Xena…wake up."

The warrior's snore was cut off in mid saw as she awoke fully aware of her surroundings. Sitting up she ran an eye around the campsite and then focused on her partner. "What's wrong, Gabrielle?"

The bard sniffled a few times and let loose a sneeze. "Where's the willow bark?"

"Third pouch under the red one, in my left saddlebag," the warrior said and lay back down only to sit back up quickly. "You're sick?"

The bard stood up and shuffled her blanket wrapped body towards the saddlebags. "No, I feel fine," she replied, sneezing again.

"Right, you who normally sleeps like a log is awake long before the sun is supposed to rise, " Xena said as she threw back her blanket and rose to her feet. "Come here," she said, moving to stop Gabrielle's search. The warrior placed a hand on her shorter partner's forehead and feeling the heat grasped the bard by the shoulders, turned her back towards the pallet. "Lay down, I'll fix you something to take."

"Please make it drinkable. I don't think my stomach is very happy at the moment," the bard groaned as she lay back down and pulled Xena's blanket on top of her own.

Xena methodically listed symptoms and Gabrielle would groan her response; then the warrior would sort through her medicine bag finding the appropriate herbs to add to the satchel used for making tea. Standing, she walked over to the low fire and pouring some water in a small pot, placed the mixture in it to boil.

She turned back to the lump of blankets next to the fire and kneeling down, pulled back a corner to reveal the bard's face. "I'm going to get some honey from that tree we passed back down the road," the warrior told her.

"Bless you," the bard mumbled which made Xena grin as she tucked the blanket back around her partner and moved to take the seeping tea away from the fire before she picked up her saddle.

Carrying the tack towards where she'd left Argo earlier in the night, the warrior let out a sharp whistle and waited. No movement was heard and she whistled again…still no trusty warhorse.

"Well, this is just wonderful," the warrior grumbled, "don't tell me she's decided to wander off again."

Moving back to the campsite Xena put her saddle back down and knelt next to Gabrielle. "Hey," she said, pulling back the blanket, "Argo has gone missing. I'm going to have to run back to that tree now and while I do that I'll look for her, too."

The bard mumbled something and pulled the blanket back over her head. Xena stood up and smiled down at her sick partner. "Just you rest easy and I'll be back before you know it," she said.

Rummaging through a saddlebag she found something to put the honey in and making sure she was adequately armed, (you never know what you might bump into in the middle of the night) the warrior took off from their campsite at a steady pace.

After a brisk run back along the road they'd traveled earlier, Xena found herself standing not far from the honey tree. She piled up some dead leaves and sticks then, using her flint, started a small fire. Using a forked branch she scooped up the smoky fire and moved closer to the tree, letting the smoke calm the bees before she attempted to extract a few honeycombs. Once that was accomplished, she used her dagger to widen the hole and after a few stings from bees refusing to give up their guard duty, she had enough honey to use.

Making sure the fire she'd started was tamped out, the warrior took off at a jog back towards their camp. She was almost there when she stopped after hearing a faint neigh. Cupping her hands around her lips, she let out a piercing whistle and sure enough, a few minutes later she heard hoof beats approaching. The large form of Argo appeared out of the forest and came to a sliding stop before her mistress.

"And just where have you been?" Xena asked the horse as she moved closer to the animal to check her over.

Argo snorted, tossing her head up and down. "That's not telling me where you were," grumbled the warrior, running her hands over the palomino's legs. "I think you went back to that field we passed earlier today. Just couldn't resist that sorrel stallion could you, girl?"

Argo tossed her head and snorted then moved closer to Xena trying to rub her sweaty head on the warrior. "Hey now, stop that," ordered Xena. "Come on, let's get back to camp. We have a sick bard to tend." Pulling herself up onto the mare's back, Xena clicked her tongue and the pair set off along the road back to the campsite.

Arriving back, Xena dismounted and swatted Argo on the rump. "I'll rub you down later, let me take care of Gabrielle first," she called after the mare who tossed her head and nickered as she trotted over to her feedbag hanging from a nearby tree.

After making sure the bard still slept, Xena removed the steeping mixture from the pot and, adding some of the honey she'd liberated from the tree to it, placed the vessel back on the fire to reheat. Once it reached a drinkable temperature she poured some into a cup and knelt next to the bard. "Here, Gabrielle, drink this and you'll feel better," she said, rousing the blonde from her slumber.

Gabrielle woke under protest but sat up so she could drink the tea. "Why can't every medicine you make taste this good?" she asked in a stuffed up voice after taking a few sips of the drink.

"Well, if you want to start harvesting honey every time we pass a hive then I guess all of my concoctions can taste like that," the warrior told her with a crooked smile.

Gabrielle just groaned and lay back down. "And get stung? No, thank you. I'll just deal with the taste when I have to," the bard remarked.

Xena chuckled as she stood up. "The sun will be up soon, think your stomach will be up to eating some breakfast?"

Another groan came from the blankets. "I don't feel like cooking, Xena," the bard replied.

"I didn't say you had to cook it," Xena told her.

The blanket flew back and Gabrielle gave the tall warrior a funny look. "You're not going to cook are you? Because I'm already sick, no need to kill me, too," the blonde said in a sarcastic tone.

"Ha ha, I can cook some things, Gabrielle; soup isn't that hard to make," the warrior retorted with a raised eyebrow as she looked down at the bard.

For a second they both stared at each other before the bard said, "If you cook. I'll try to eat."

"All right, one pot of soup coming up," the warrior said and turned to gather the items needed for the meal.

Sitting wrapped in the blankets and propped up against a log near the campfire, Gabrielle watched the warrior turn domestic as she sliced up dried lamb and vegetables from their supplies. Amazingly enough, the warrior actually looked as if she were enjoying herself as she puttered around the campsite, fetching fresh water from the nearby stream and adding all the sliced ingredients to their cooking pot.

"I'm not adding any spices other than a little salt; bland will be better on your stomach," she said, placing the pot on the fire to boil. Glancing over to see if this was okay with Gabrielle she saw the little smile on the bard's face. "What?"

"This…you…it's just strange seeing you being domestic," remarked Gabrielle.

"Well, you take care of me when I need it so I should do the same for you. Of course, I'm rarely sick but we can count all those times I was recovering from wounds," the warrior replied.

Gabrielle chuckled but it turned into a cough and Xena moved quickly to give her a cup of water. Sipping from the cup, the coughing fit subsided and the bard spoke. "Well, for today, soup is just fine but I'll cook tomorrow. I don't want to risk letting you fix solid food," she told Xena with a grin.

"Oh, you're lucky I don't believe in harming the sick," the warrior said in a serious tone but she winked at her partner and her lip turned up in a little smirk.

"Your soup is boiling over," Gabrielle commented, motioning towards the fire.

"Hades," cursed Xena as she sprung up from her kneeling position and moved quickly to take the pot off the fire. Placing it off to the side to cool and let the meat soak up more of the liquid, Xena turned back to look at the bard. "So, I'm not the best or most observant cook but hey, you'll never starve with me around," she said with a grin.

Gabrielle laughed at the remark and Xena joined in. Moving to sit beside the bard, Xena picked up her sword and began sharpening it while Gabrielle scooted down in the blankets. Before long, she let her body lean over some until it was propped against Xena's. With a content sigh, the blonde closed her eyes, the sound of stone on steel lulling her to sleep while they waited for the soup to cool.

The End

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