Disclaimer: The characters of Xena and Gabrielle and others mentioned, belong to
MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No infringement on their rights are intended.
Subtext Disclaimer: This story contains scenes of a loving relationship between two consenting adults, who happen to be of the same sex. If this offends you, or you are under 18 years of age, or you reside in an area where this type of material is illegal, read no more. There is plenty of general fanfic out there for you. Go find it.
Timeline: This is the sequel to What Mom Doesnt Know, Wont Kill Her and begins on the road to Potidea.
Note: This is a sequel and if you havent read the first story you might be a bit clueless about whats going on. I suggest you read Mom and then come back, because if you dont like the first one, youre not going to like this one. Anyway, Ive given you fair warning, yet hope youll enjoy this story. Sorry about the length, I tried to make it short, but failed.
Enjoy, I hope.
Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHAT DAD DOESNT KNOW, WONT GET HIM KILLED
Written by FlyBigD
"Please, please, please Xena?" Gabrielle begged.
"Gabrielle get off me." Staring at the bard, Xena tried to shake Gabrielles hold.
"I can stay like this all day, if necessary." Tightening her grip.
"Gabrielle, Im not going to tell you my plan, so you might as well give it up." Xena said looking down at the bard, who was wrapped around her legs like a python. "Youre just going to have to trust me."
"Xena." Maintaining her hold, the bard looked up at the warrior pleadingly. "Please."
"No." Shaking her dark head, the warrior held her ground, which was easy to do since she couldnt move. "OW." Feeling a set of pearly whites on her thigh.
Gabrielle let go of the warriors leg and looked at the teeth marks shed left. "Tell me!"
"No, Gabrielle. Now get off me." Ignoring the throbbing in her leg, she grabbed her partner by the arm, trying to pull the woman to her feet. "Get up."
"No." Holding on tight, Gabrielle fought off the attempt. "Not until you tell me what youre going to do to my family."
Xena bent down, glaring at the bard menacingly. "Gabrielle, what Im going to do to your family will be nothing compared to what Im going to do to you if you dont let go."
"Oh, all right." Letting go in a huff, the bard fell back on the ground, her arms and legs spread wide and closed her eyes.
The warrior stared at her for a few minutes, hoping the blonde would come to her senses and they wouldnt have to spend the rest of the day like this. "Are you going to stay that way all day?" Putting her hands on her hips, Xena considered the spread eagle form at her feet.
"Why? Is it working?" Gabrielle asked, opening one eye.
"No." Spotting her salvation, Xena pointed down the road. "But I thought you might be interested in the wagon coming this way. Unless youre going for the road kill look."
"What?" Tilting her head back, Gabrielle saw an inverted team of horses and driver. "Damn." Getting to her feet, she dusted off the dirt and moved to where Xena stood beside Argo off the road.
"There goes lunch." The warrior whispered in the horses ear.
"Ha. Ha." Unamused by the dry humor, the bard watched the wagon pass by. "Now where was I?" She asked herself as she stepped onto the road and got jerked back by the arm.
"I dont think so." Keeping a firm grip, Xena showed her own lack of amusement. "No more playing dead, if you please."
"I wouldnt have to if youd just tell me what your plans are." Wrenching her arm away from the warrior with a glare.
"Look." Taking a step forward to take advantage of her height and stare down at Gabrielle, Xena gave her a stern look. "Ive already promised no pinching, no chakram, no slicing, no dicing, no punching, no gouging and no foul language. That pretty much leaves me with limited options."
"Which are?" Unimpressed by the warriors display, Gabrielle returned the look and put her hands on her hips.
"Which are for me to know and you to find out." Folding her arms across her chest , the warrior straightened to her full height.
"Tell me!" Gabrielle shouted, her face contorting into bardic frustration.
"Nope." In a smooth, calm voice. Turning, Xena picked up Argos reins and started to push past the bard. "Youll just have to trust me." Smiling to herself.
"Or kill you." The bard grumbled before following behind the warrior, thinking nasty thoughts about the love of her life.
"I heard that." Glancing over her shoulder with a smirk.
"Good!" Kicking at a helpless rock, sending it flying past Xena in a cloud of dust. "Warrior Princess piss ant." Whispering again.
Xena heard the comment, but chose not to respond. Instead she concentrated on her plan and didnt see the bard come up beside her.
Gabrielle watched her friend for a little while, trying to read what was going on in that thick head, but couldnt come up with a clue as to what Xena was planning. Theyd spent the last two days in various forms of her begging and Xena being stubborn, with Gabrielle trying every trick she could think of to worm the information out of the warrior, but had been completely unsuccessful. Shed even tried to use Cyrene to get the info, but Xenas mother had been unable to convince her daughter to come clean. In the end, Cyrene had tried to assure the bard with reassurance that Xena wouldnt harm her family and that she didnt need to worry. Right. She thought. Xenas planning to win over my family and Ive got nothing to worry about. Ha. The bard knew that Xena hated to lose and also knowing how her parents felt about the warrior only complicated the situation. Someone was going to get hurt and she had a sneaking suspicion it wouldnt be the former Destroyer of Nations.
Xena noticed the looks she was getting out of the corner of her eye and smiled to herself. Tormenting Gabrielle had been the most fun shed had in a long time. The bards natural curiosity had been building since theyd left Amphipolis and Gabrielle had played right into her hands; the warrior found herself almost lamenting the fact that it would soon be over. A couple more hours, Xena thought, and then its down to business. The plan to win over Gabrielles parents, though completely harmless, was bound to shock all the parties involved. And Gabrielle, she thought again, will never know what hit her. Of all the possible strategies the bard was anticipating, Xena knew her congeniality would throw her partner for a loop. Nobody would ever expect Xena to just be nice. Thats what she hoped anyway and that was her plan. Kill them with kindness. It didnt have the same blood and guts results, but she could live with it. Of course, there was the little matter of payback for what Gabrielle had done to her in the inn, before her mother found out about them. She never said I couldnt pinch her, Xena thought happily and envisioned chasing the bard around her parents house. Smiling to herself, she glanced down at Gabrielle who was lost in her own thoughts. "Hey." Elbowing the bard.
"What?" Shaken out of her contemplation, Gabrielle looked up.
"Wanna take a break?" Leaning down, Xena whispered in the bards ear using her best come hither voice, flicking her eyebrows a couple of times, then keeping one raised.
"Im not tired." Looking at the warrior strangely and not getting the hint, the bard went back to her thoughts.
"It might be the last time before we get there." Smiling a sultry smile. "No telling how long its gonna take me to get in good with your parents. Theyre pretty set in their ways. Could take weeks."
Gabrielle stopped as the word weeks triggered something in her memory. Remembering her last bout with celibacy, she thought about having to go without sex for another stretch. Gods, not again. She thought, then considered the warrior beside her as an idea sparked to life. "Weeks, huh?" Thinking of her last chance to tease Xena unmercifully and possibly using it to her favor.
"Could be." Moving back to Gabrielle, Xena winked, testing the waters.
A wry smile appeared on the bards lips. "I can wait." She said flippantly and started up the road.
"Is that right?" Not believing a word she heard, the watched the bard strut her stuff. Following closely behind, she took advantage of the view.
"Ive done it before." Not turning around, Gabrielle could feel the warriors eyes on her and strutted a little more. Smiling to herself when she felt a strong hand on her butt, she slapped it away. "Ive got will power."
"That isnt the only thing youve got." Xena dropped Argos reins, wrapping an arm around the bard and spinning her to bring them face to face.
Gabrielle didnt resist the embrace, but didnt encourage it either. Standing calmly in the warriors arms, she stared up at two blue eyes indignantly.
You think youre good, dont you?" Raising an eyebrow at the bard.
"You know I am." Her voice a husky whisper, Gabrielle raised an eyebrow to match the warriors. "Youre not the only one with skills, Xena."
"Is that so?" Knowing full well what the bard was implying, Xena tightened her hold.
"Yes." Smiling a wicked smile, Gabrielle ran a finger up the warriors arm. "And unless you tell me what your plans are," standing on her tip toes, bringing their lips almost together, "youll be doing without my many skills." Holding her position.
Closing her eyes, Xena smiled. Lifting the bard off the ground, she brought their lips together in a passionate kiss and just as Gabrielle started to respond, she dropped her. "Will power is a wonderful thing," she said, stepping back. "Nice try, by the way." Running her tongue over her smiling lips.
"I hate you." Gabrielle said venomously. Her face screwed into a scowl, she turned, stomping her frustration into the dirt. "I dont know why I even try."
"Wanna try again?" Taking Argos reins, the warrior bounced behind her friend.
"Get away from me." Swinging at the warrior when she came within reach.
"Come on. It might work this time." Keeping out of harms way, Xena took the lead, walking backwards.
"Im blonde, Xena. Im not stupid." Reaching for the warrior, Gabrielle tripped over a rock in the road, falling forward.
Catching Gabrielle in her arms, Xena helped her to her feet, wiping imaginary dust off sensitive places. "Can I take that as a yes?"
"No." Gabrielle sneered, slapping the warriors roaming hands. "Get away from me."
Retreating a few paces, Xena put up her hands in mock innocence. "Just trying to help."
"Trying to help yourself is more like it." Testing her ankle, Gabrielle leaned against Argo. Satisfied it wasnt sprained, she sighed, looking at the warrior with disgust.
"Youre taking all the fun out of this with that look." Not really feeling bad, but losing the edge on happiness. Moving to the bards side, Xena gave her a pout.
"Turn abouts fair play." Pushing in Xenas bottom lip, Gabrielle rolled her eyes and walked away.
"Rats." Xena said under her breath, realizing shed blown her chance at one last tryst before they got to Potidea. Sighing heavily, she followed the bard in defeat. Cant blame a girl for trying, she thought.
Holding up a hand, Gabrielle walked a few paces forward. Peeking around a tree, she checked the area around her parents house in the distance. "The coast is clear." Looking over her shoulder at the warrior.
"And thats a good thing?" Opening her eyes wide, Xena made a face at the bards stealthiness.
"You know what I mean." Coming to Xenas side, she put her hands on her hips.
"Yea. Catch em while theyre not looking." Picking up the bards spirit.
"Xena." Gabrielle said, exasperated.
"Okay. Okay." Placing a hand on her partners shoulder, the warrior smiled warmly. "Ill be good."
"Thank you." Returning Xenas smile, the bard reached up, pulling the warrior to her and giving her a healthy kiss.
"What was that for?" Breaking away, Xena looked at the bard, perplexed.
"Being good." Holding the warriors chin in her hand, the bard winked. "Its to remind you the benefits of a short visit." Smiling longingly.
"Ahhhhh." Never one to pass up an opportunity, Xena wrapped her arms around Gabrielle bringing them together in a heated embrace.
Feeling the warmth starting to build, Gabrielle tried to break away, but was held fast as Xena continued to throw coals on the fire. "Xena." She whispered between kisses. "I dont think this is a good idea."
"Right." Taking a much needed breath, Xena took the bards wrist, leading her into the trees. "Dont want to get caught before I even get started."
Grabbing a passing tree, Gabrielle stopped their progress. "Thats not what I meant."
Her engines in high gear which eliminated coherent thought, Xena turned back to the bard. "Huh?"
"I think we should wait until we leave." Removing herself from Xenas hold.
"Youre kidding, right?" Hoping shed misinterpreted Gabrielles words, Xena moved next to the bard. "Right?"
Shaking her head, Gabrielle put a hand on the warriors arm. "I really think we should wait."
"Is this supposed to be some kind of punishment for not telling you my plan?" Putting her hands on her hips, the warrior raised an eyebrow.
"No, Xena." Sighing, the bard smiled. "Trust me, there isnt anything Id rather be doing right now, but it doesnt feel right."
"Give me five, wait . . . fifteen minutes." Taking the bard into her arms, Xena tried to start the clock and was cut short by a hand on her forehead.
Easing out of her human cage, Gabrielle took a firmer tone. "I mean it, Xena."
Staring in disbelief, Xenas felt her temperature drop to normal. "Youre serious."
"Yes, I am." Taking the warriors hand in hers, the bard intertwined their fingers. "Lets get this over with and then well have all the time in the world for scaring natures creatures." Smiling a warm smile to soothe the savage warrior.
"Grrrrrrrr." Growling her frustration, the warrior acquiesced. "Okay, but theyd better come around quickly, or I wont be held responsible for my actions." Placing a light kiss on the bards forehead for good measure.
"You and me both." Walking backwards, Gabrielle kept her smile and led the warrior from the trees back onto the road where Argo eyed them curiously. "Ready?"
"Yes, but not for them." Taking Argos reins, Xena plodded forward.
"Should I remind you that this was your idea?" Looking up into piercing blue eyes.
"Not unless youre suicidal." Getting back into the plan of the day, the warrior gave her friend a wink.
Rounding the bend in the road, the two walked side by side, both silently lamenting the fact that they were there and fighting back the urge to suggest that they make a break for it before they were spotted. Unfortunately, they were spotted before they could make their break.
Lila came out of the house with an empty bucket and was half way to the well when she spotted her sister and the warrior, which caused her to drop the bucket on her foot. "Ow." Not taking her eyes of the pair, her eyes grew wide with something this side of fear. "Dads gonna have a fit." She said to herself as Gabrielle and Xena waved.
"She looks like somebody just pissed in her porridge." Xena said, without moving her lips as she waved at Lilas paled expression.
Gabrielle gave the warrior a sidelong glare. "I thought foul language was off the list of things to do." Trying not to move her lips while she smiled.
"Were not there yet." Doing her ventriloquist imitation.
"Dont push it." The bard picked up the pace to greet her sister and to forego any more snide remarks from her friend. "Lila!"
"Spoil sport." Her lips returned to normal and Xena used them to put on the friendly smile shed been practicing. I hope it doesnt stay this way, she thought ruefully.
"Gabrielle." Leaving the bucket behind, Lila ran to her sister. Hugging her, she gave the warrior a worried look. "What are you doing here?"
Xena continued to smile, thankful for the practice and ignored the look she was getting.
"We were in Amphipolis and decided to kill two birds with one stone." Regretting her phrasing as soon as the words left her mouth, Gabrielle refused to acknowledge the snicker behind her and concentrated on her sister. Holding Lila at arms length, she took a close inspection of her sister. "How have you been?"
"Great." Lilas words didnt match her expression, as she definitely didnt look happy to see them. "Why didnt you send word you were coming?"
"We wanted to surprise you." Xena piped in, thankful for a chance to drop the smile.
"Yea." Gabrielle had no idea what the warrior was going to do and didnt venture a look in her direction. Moving the conversation along, before an even more uncomfortable situation could brew, she took Lila by the arm, leading her toward the house. "Where are Mom and Dad?"
Lila stared at the warrior a moment longer, before giving the bard her full attention. "Moms inside and Dads at the market. He wont be back until tomorrow." She added in hopes that, possibly, Xena would be gone by then.
"Great." Xena smiled, despite the fact that she was being ignored, and took a deep breath. "I cant wait to see them both." That got her two strange looks, but shed been expecting that and dove headlong into her plan of attack.
"You what?" Gabrielle stuttered with open concern.
"I cant wait to see them." Xena repeated as she wrapped Argos reins on the hitching post and moved past the dumb struck females to the porch. "Gabrielle doesnt like it when I come along." She whispered to Lila conspiritously, taking the girl by the arm and away from the bard. "I think shes afraid Ill make a bad impression." Looking over Lilas shoulder, Xena gave the bard a wink.
"Really?" Lila managed to say. Glancing between the warrior and the bard, she tried to comprehend what was going on and looked to Gabrielle for an explanation.
"Ha ha." Hoping her sister would think it was some kind of joke, Gabrielle smiled warmly and tried not to look bewildered, which she was.
Reaching out, Xena took the bard by the arm, putting her on her other side and wrangled them toward the door. "Hows that barley crop coming?" Her smile back in place, Xena continued as if the two sisters werent staring at her like shed sprouted horns. Opening the door, she held it for them and waited for their motor functions to return.
"Fine." Lilas legs started working first and she shuffled inside, shaking her head.
Gabrielle was silent, but her eyes conveyed her concerns as she stepped inside. Then she felt a familiar hand on her butt just before it got pinched and her expression changed to one of alarm as she spun to see Xenas sultry smirk.
"I never said I wouldnt pinch you." Xena whispered for the bard alone to hear and flicked her eyebrows.
Glaring viciously, Gabrielle managed to contain the words running through her head and return her face to relative normalcy when she turned back to her sister. "Lila." Taking control of the conversation before Xena could do the same. "Did you get my last letter?"
"Yea." Lila answered, grateful for the subject change. "I cant believe you got out of that trap." Getting back into envious sister mode, she smiled. "It scared me to death when I read it."
"It wasnt easy." Xena added and was ignored. Yep, she thought, this is going to take some time.
"That was a tough one." Gabrielle admitted with a nod.
"Lila?" Hecuba called from the kitchen. "Whos here?"
"Ummmm." Lila stalled, knowing her mother wasnt going to be happy.
"Its me, Mom." Gabrielle said to her mother.
"Gabrielle!" Coming out of the kitchen, Hecuba stopped short of her eldest daughter when she spotted the tall dark haired warrior. Her eyes and mouth widened, momentarily, but she quickly recovered and continued toward Gabrielle. Holding her arms open wide, she took the bard into a loving hug.
Xena smiled as the woman gave her the once-over.
"Its so good to see you." Hecuba released Gabrielle and held her at arms length. "Its been so long since youve been home."
"I know." Gabrielle said apologetically. "Weve been busy." Glancing over her shoulder at the warrior.
"Busy?" Hecuba asked. "How busy can you get wandering around the countryside?"
"Lots of bad guys." Xena said and again was ignored, but smiled her practiced smile. Standing very relaxed, she looked at the bard and shrugged.
Looking back at Hecuba, the bards smile faded, realizing that neither Lila or her mother were making any effort to welcome her friend. "Like Xena said," mentioning the warrior intentionally, "there are a lot of evil people out there Mom and they keep our hands pretty full most of the time."
"Yea, Mom." Lila added. "Dont you remember the letter I read you last month about her fighting that . . ." Forgetting the exact term her sister used, she looked to the bard for help.
"Warlord?" Xena tried again. Getting Lilas attention, but not the bards Mothers.
"No." Gabrielle corrected the warrior. "It was Caesar."
Xenas face clouded over at the mention of the name, which Hecuba saw when she finally gave the warrior a brief glance. Replacing the scowl, Xena couldnt bring herself to smile and opted for a blank stare.
Hecuba had a scowl of her own when she looked at Gabrielle. "How long are you staying?"
"I dont know." Answered the bard. "It depends on whether Xe . . . "
"Is that bread baking?" Xena interrupted the bard before she could spill the beans. This time she wasnt ignored as three faces turned to look at her. "It smells delicious."
"Are you hungry?" Hecuba asked Gabrielle, picking up her motherly concern at the warriors prompting. Taking a more serious look at the bards appearance, she frowned at the slight form before her. "You look like you havent eaten in a week." Thinking her daughter too thin, Hecuba missed the fact that the girlish plumpness had been replaced with firm muscle.
"Mom." Gabrielle drew out the word, rolling her eyes. "I ate this morning."
"Roots and berries, no doubt." Hecuba said softly, exchanging glances with Xena.
Keeping her mouth shut, Xena let the woman think what she wanted, knowing full well that she and the bard had been enjoying not having to fend for themselves. Instead theyd been gorging themselves on the food Cyrene had forced them to take for the trip.
"Mother." Sighing heavily, Gabrielle gave Hecuba a tired look.
"Come in the kitchen and Ill fix you some lunch." Smiling, Hecuba turned to Lila. "Bring the water into the kitchen."
"The water." Smacking her forehead, Lila remembered the forgotten task shed been doing when the pair showed up.
"Ill get it." Gabrielle said. Suddenly feeling the need to put some distance between her and her mother, she turned quickly to cut off any objections and gave Xenas arm a friendly rub as the warrior opened the door for her to pass. Their eyes met for a second and Gabrielle sighed, sending a silent, apologetic message to Xena.
Xena smiled her condolences at the whole situation and closed the door when Gabrielle was gone. Turning back, she found two sets of eyes on her that looked suddenly very uncomfortable and before any real awkwardness could fill the room, she moved forward, sniffing the air and smiling. "That bread really does smell wonderful." Then, just as she reached Hecuba, she tripped, quite on purpose and fell to the floor unceremoniously. "Gods I can be such a klutz."
Lila and Hecuba exchanged surprised stares, then looked down at the fallen warrior at their feet.
"Im sorry." The warrior said with an expression of embarrassment. Sitting up, she put her hand out to Lila for assistance in standing. "Sometimes my big feet get in the way." Laughing at herself, to help break the women out of their trance.
Taking the warriors hand, Lila tightened her grip as Xena made an effort to rise and fell back to the floor.
"Are you all right? Coming to the warriors aide as well, Hecubas instincts to help overrode her wariness and she reached for Xenas other arm.
"I think so." Xena smiled and allowed the pair to help her up, then hobbled a little gingerly on her right foot.
"Youre hurt." Lila noticed the warriors teetering.
"Im fine." Trying to brush it off, Xena took a step, faltered and leaned heavily on Hecuba for support. "Its nothing." Smiling, she tried to break away from the bards mother and found herself held fast in the womans grasp. Taking the ruse further and putting her plan in motion, Xena allowed herself to be turned toward the kitchen. "I can walk it off." Throwing in a grimace for effect.
"Nonsense." Hecuba chided. "Lila, give me a hand." Wrapping a strong arm around Xenas waist, she waited for her daughter to do the same, then braced herself for the short trek to the kitchen.
"This really isnt necessary." Xena said, keeping as much of her weight off the pair as possible. "Gabrielle usually makes fun of me, when it happens." Looking at Lila, she whispered and smiled. "This kinda blows my warrior princess image, huh?"
Giggling, Lila smiled back. "Sorta." She agreed.
Hecuba smiled, shaking her head. "Lila." Correcting her daughters lack of manners. "Xena is a guest in our home. Dont make fun of her."
"Sorry." Her tone was sorry, but the smile on her face gave away her true feelings. "Did you and Gabrielle really take on the Furies?" Her innate curiosity kicked in as Lila changed subjects to something far more interesting.
"Lila!" Hecuba said again. "Leave Xena alone. Shes injured and doesnt want to tell you stories." In the kitchen, she lead the warrior to a long bench.
"Actually, Gabrielle really saved my butt with the Furies." Xena said to Lila, easing herself down on the bench.
"Really?" The pair said in unison, giving the warrior a strange look.
"Oh, yeah. Gabrielle is always pulling my butt out of the fire." Smiling for real, Xena adjusted her seat, getting more comfortable and started to recount the events of her madness as the mother and daughter took up seats close by to listen.
Gabrielle took her time getting the water and pulled the bucket up slowly. "This has got to be the dumbest thing Ive ever gotten myself into," she said to herself for the tenth time. "I cant believe I let Xena talk me into this." Sighing, she pulled the bucket out of the well and rested it on the stony edge. Looking back at the house shed grown up in, the bard shook her head. "This is never going to work." Sighing again, she lifted the bucket, careful not to spill any water and trudged toward the door. "What did I do to deserve this." Opening the door, Gabrielle stopped as a strange sound met her ears. She heard Xenas voice and then laughter. The laughter being the odd man out, her brow knitted as she closed the door. "What in tartarus?" Following the voices, she crept toward the kitchen and found Xena, her mother and sister sitting at the table laughing their heads off. Dumbfounded, the bard stared at the women as if each had grown extra heads.
"Oh, Gabrielle." Hecuba said, rising to her feet with a big smile. "Why didnt you ever tell us Xena was such a good story teller?"
The bucket hit the floor, splashing water all over her legs and everywhere else, as Gabrielles jaw followed the bucket to the rough wood beneath her feet. "Huh?" She managed to utter.
"Gabrielle." Moving to her daughter, Hecuba picked up the half empty bucket. "Look what youve done."
Gabrielle had used up her words for the day and stared at her mother.
"Yea, Gabrielle. Shes so funny." Lila added with a giggle, looking at the dark haired woman across the table.
The bards eyes wandered between Lila and her mother, then finally found their way to the warrior, who was grinning from ear to ear.
"Ive been telling them how you kick butt." Xena smirked at the bards wide eyes.
"How come you never put that in any of your letters?" Lila asked with much annoyance.
"I, uhhhhh." Feeling something against her stomach, Gabrielle managed enough motor skills to look down and found her mother trying to give the bucket to her.
"Go back and fill this." Handing the item to her stunned daughter, Hecuba scolded her. "We need some cold water for Xenas ankle."
That woke her up and Gabrielle looked at Xena. "What happened?" Concern on her face.
"I tripped." Shrugging, Xena winked. "You know me and my big feet."
Gabrielle knew the warrior had big feet, but Xena never tripped. "Oh?" Raising her eyebrows in wonder, she smiled. "I see." Catching on to the game.
"Now go get the water." Hecuba finished the conversation, taking the bards shoulder and spinning her around, then giving a gentle shove to get her daughter moving.
Xena saw Gabrielle shaking her head as she disappeared into the front room and smiled to herself. I hope she doesnt blow this, she thought.
"That witch." Gabrielle whispered with a smirk. "Shes playing on their sympathy." Opening the door, the bard trudged back to the well. Tying up the bucket, she dropped it, hearing a splash a couple of seconds later. "I cant believe her." Pulling on the rope. "Shes reeling them in like some stupid fish." Teetering between anger and amazement, Gabrielle hauled the bucket up fast, then stopped her hands. "Storyteller?" Her eyes went wide and the bucket made a rapid descent as the word reverberated in her mind. "Xenas telling stories? This is not happening." Unable to move, Gabrielle tried to picture the scene, but the only thing she saw was the vision of the three women sitting at the dining table laughing, which didnt help the reality factor and she shook herself. "This is definitely not happening." Coming around, Gabrielle started pulling the bucket up again, then promptly let it drop. "What kind of stories is she telling?" Suddenly her imagination was having no problem with its reception as clear visions danced inside her mind. "Oh, Gods!" Gabrielle whispered as fear started up from her gut. "She wouldnt tell them . . . about . . . us. Would she?" What did she say, thinking frantically she tried to remember the warriors words. "Something about a butt." Closing her eyes and fighting the building dread, Gabrielle searched her mind. "Kicking butt." Opening her eyes as relief made her knees weak, she let out a long slow breath. "Shes telling stories about kicking butt." Thank you. Looking up, she sent another one skyward. "Thank you." Flushed, but recovering, Gabrielle tugged on the rope and smiled. "I shouldve known shed come up with a full proof plan." The bucket full, she turned for the second time and walked back to the house. This time she didnt trudge and almost skipped with the knowledge that this trip wasnt going to turn into her worst nightmare. She hoped.
Smiles, laughter, chides and rebuffs went on for the rest of the afternoon and early evening as Gabrielle watched Xena charm her mother and sister. She listened to the warriors stories and noticed how Xenas version always played up the bards participation, raising her from sidekick status to needed partner in the eyes of her family. Amazed at the transformation taking place before her eyes, Gabrielle let herself be drawn into the warriors aura, knowing that Xena wasnt showing her family anything she, herself, didnt already know. Xena was very capable of being friendly, kind and compassionate, however little she showed it to others, but Gabrielle felt the warriors warmth all the time and smiled that this was what Xena had chosen as her plan of attack. To show her family the other side of the warrior princess that she alone knew and loved. Gabrielle even allowed Xena to use her as a bad guys on the occasion and defended herself against the disapproval of her mother and sister, especially when Xena accused of hoarding Hecubas nut bread on her return from visits to Potidea. Shed even helped the warrior convince her mother that the injury to her ankle was fine, allowing Xena to escape to take care of Argo; meanwhile, the bard faced the questions and accusations of not letting her family in on the wonderful side of Xena. Smiling, Gabrielle rubbed her leg against the long tan one beside her at the table. She felt Xena tense at the touch, then relax. When the bard made no further advances and leaned into the bard a little. Continuing to enjoy the warmth between them, Gabrielle sighed as Xena tried to explain to Hecuba that shed rather sleep in the barn.
"Nonsense." Hecuba said firmly as she rose from the table and started to clear away the dinner plates. "I wont hear of it. Lila get those bowls." Pointing to the empty items and giving the warrior a smile. "You can take Lilas bed and she can sleep with me."
"I cant put you out, like that." Xena fought back, feeling the bards leg and knowing that she needed to be as far away from Gabrielle as possible, or else face the possibility of ruining her plan. "I like the barn."
Shaking her head, Hecuba placed the plates into a large tub. "I wont hear it." Keeping her back to the pair still seated. "No friend of Gabrielles is going to sleep in the barn."
Xenas brow knitted and she looked to the bard for help.
Gabrielle sighed, trying to decide which path to take, rubbing the warriors leg again she chose the one she knew was best for both of them, but really, really didnt want and took Xenas side. "Mom." She said, getting her mothers attention. "Xena gets kind of claustrophobic in small places." She said, giving credence to the warriors fight and rolled her eyes for effect.
"Well." Hecuba considered, still not liking the idea, but not wanting to make Xena uncomfortable, she relented. "If youd feel better out there, I guess I cant make you stay, but youll take extra blankets. Its getting chilly outside." Smiling at the warrior. "And take a lamp."
"Yes, maam." Xena smiled in return and took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. Moving to rise, she leaned over and placed a kiss on Gabrielles head, which drew curious looks from Hecuba and Lila, but Xena smiled a silent thank you to her friend. "Let me help you with those." Turning her attention to the dishes.
"No. No." Slapping the warriors hand, Hecuba took the cup from Xena. "Gabrielle can help me with these." Turning to her youngest daughter. "Lila, go and get those blankets out of the chest and help Xena get settled in the barn."
"Okay." Taking her command, Lila moved to the warrior and grabbed her arm, pulling her out of the kitchen. "Lets go."
Gabrielle watched them leave and noted the worried smile on Xenas face. You started this, she thought and chuckled. Getting up, the bard moved to assist with the dishes, smiling all the while.
"Hows that?" Lila said, looking at her handiwork, which was a rough bed made out of blankets and hay.
"Thats great." Xena said thankfully. "Ill be as snug as a bug in a rug." Kneeling down, she tested the bed with her fingers. "Better than sleeping on the ground."
"Good." Lila giggled. "If you need anything else, let us know." Patting Xenas shoulder.
Looking up at the smiling young woman, Xena smiled herself and winked. "Ill be sure to do that."
Lila stood there for a minute, continuing to smile and watched Xena spread out her things. "You like it on the road?" She asked.
Xena glanced up. "Yes." Wondering about the question. "I dont like to stay too long in one place. It makes me itchy." Scratching her arm in reflex.
"I thought so." Nodding her head, Lila bent down. "Does Gabrielle really do all those things?" She whispered, referring to the stories the warrior had told about her sister.
Understanding the final destination of the questions, Xena smiled warmly. "Yea. She really does. I dont know where Id be without her." Standing, she looked at Lila and noticed a slight resemblance in the way their eyes twinkled.
"Okay." Nodding again, Lila studied the tall warrior for a few more moments. Shed read in Gabrielles letters that there was something more to Xena than her parents had seen and shed made an effort to be friendly the few times the warrior had accompanied her sister on a visit; this time it had paid off. Lila found Xena to be a lot less intimidating and scary than shed first thought and had gotten over her jealousy once the bard had started writing on a regular basis. Shed never seen the side of Xena Gabrielle had always told her was there, until today, and the difference made her wary at first. Now her suspicions were laid to rest, seeing in Xenas eyes something real, that matched her words concerning her sister. The bond that they shared was real and their friendship went beyond warrior and sidekick. Gabrielle made a difference out on the road with Xena and the warriors honest answers made Lila feel certain that Xena felt the same way. For whatever reason, they had found in each other something no one else could give them and it made Lila glad to know that Gabrielle had found what shed been looking for, even if it did take her away for long stretches. As long as it and Xena made the bard happy, Lila would be happy for her.
Xena felt she was being analyzed, but patiently waited until Lila had completed her assessment.
"Well, Xena if you need anything." Lila said with a smile full of joy.
"Ill let you know." Xena finished the sentence and returned the pleasant smile.
"Good night, then." Turning, Lila moved to the ladder leading down from the loft, turning back to wave at the warrior.
Xena waved back and watched the young woman leave. Turning to her makeshift mattress, she sat down on it and began removing her armor. Cocking her head, she heard voices outside and listened, then smiled.
"I wont be long, Lila. I just want to make sure Xena is settled in." Gabrielle shooed her sister toward the house, before continuing to the barn.
"Youre gonna freeze in that outfit." Lila said from the porch.
"Not if I can help it." Gabrielle said under her breath and pulled the barn door open, finding the warrior smiling down at her from the loft.
"Shes right, you know." Coming to her feet, Xena waited for the bard to ascend the ladder. "Youre gonna freeze in that thing." Indicating the two piece outfit the bard wore.
"Wanna keep me warm?" Stepping into the warrior, Gabrielle raised an eyebrow.
"What happened to waiting until we left?" Raising her eyebrows in a questioning way.
"I changed my mind." Moving closer, the bard gave the warrior a sultry smile.
"Sorry. Its not part of the plan." Stepping back, Xena smiled wickedly.
"Spoil sport." Gabrielle frowned, then plopped down on Xenas bed.
"Please, get comfy." Laughing, the warrior joined her.
Biting her lip, the bard stared out into the air, thinking of how to put what she had to say.
"Spit it out." Xena prompted, knowing the look well.
"I was just thinking." Looking into the pools of blue she loved.
"Yes?" Nudging the bard along, with a warm smile.
Biting her lip again, Gabrielles brow knitted into a concerned frown. "Would you consider two out of three a win?"
"Let me guess?" Taking the bards hand, Xena brought it to her lips for a light kiss. "Ive succeeded in winning over Lila and your mother and now you want to beat feet before your dad gets here. Am I right?"
"I promise to do all the chores for a month, if we leave in the morning." Hopeful that the warrior would agree. Gabrielle wasnt looking forward to her fathers reaction to Xenas presence.
"Sorry." Xena shook her head in response. "Its all or nothing."
"Please?" Gabrielle pleaded and brought the warriors hand to cover her heart.
"Gabrielle." Xena said softly and stroked the bards blonde hair. "Dont you have faith in me?"
"You, yes." Letting go the hand, the bard smirked. "Dad, no."
Xena burst into laughter at the bards expression, then quickly settled down when Gabrielle gave her a worried look. "Ill get him, Gabrielle."
"Thats what Im afraid of." Leaning back, she rested on her elbows and studied her boots.
Following the bards lead, Xena leaned back, then turned to face her friend, switching to one elbow. "Itll be worth it. I promise."
Gabrielle didnt respond as visions of mayhem played in her mind. She was worried what would happen. Xena was so determined to win and she knew her father was not going to be a quick victory. If a victory at all, which worried her more. Gabrielle had no intention of staying for the rest of her life, while Xena plied her skills on the man who hated her. They had little in common, other than a thick head and a stubborn streak a mile wide. If they didnt kill each other, theyd probably spend a lifetime at each others throats. Either scenario left Gabrielle with a deep feeling of dread.
"Gabrielle." Interrupting the bards thoughts, Xena stroked Gabrielles soft cheek.
"I know." The bard said without looking at Xena and sighed. "All or nothing."
"Actually, I was going to say that youd better be going before your Mom sends out a search party." Smiling as green eyes looked her way, Xena leaned over, placing a kiss on the bards brow.
The touch of Xenas lips made Gabrielle smile. It will be worth it. She thought and looked into the warriors eyes. "I love you." She said softly, bringing her hand up to run a finger down the warriors arms.
"I love you, too, but not tonight." Knowing where her partner was headed, the warrior cut her off at the pass. "Off to bed with you." Removing the wandering finger, she placed it out of harms way and away from her breastplate where it had started to linger.
Gabrielle huffed as her face screwed into a snarl. She hated sleeping away from Xena and the prospect of a night without her long, dark and oh so sexy pillow was making her have not so nice thoughts about her father, which she instantly regretted. Knowing it was her fault they were here at all. "Me and my big mouth." She said ruefully.
"Speaking of which." Xena said. Leaning over, she kissed the bards lips twice lightly and smiled. "Good night, Gabrielle."
"This sucks." Pushing the warrior, who fell back chuckling, Gabrielle sat up, folding her arms across her chest.
Xena studied the bards back and shoulders, letting her eyes wander over the muscles that shown beneath lightly tanned skin. Its going to be a rough day tomorrow, she thought and sighed. This does suck. Rolling onto her side, she reached out and wrapped her arm around the bards middle, pulling Gabrielle back to lay beside her. "I hope your mother isnt the worrying type." She said, leaning down to kiss the bard passionately.
"Where have you been?" Hecuba said as Gabrielle came into the house. "Youve been gone for an hour."
Fighting the satisfied smile that was trying to break free, Gabrielle cleared her throat. "I told you I wanted to make sure Xena was settled in." Leaving out the fact that shed settled the warrior in quite well and with much ardor.
"It takes an hour to do that?" Putting her hands on her hips, Hecuba gave her daughter a questioning glare.
"Its been known to take days." Gabrielle said and rolled her eyes, realizing what shed said and quickly tried to recover. "I mean, Xena takes a while to get comfortable. I wanted to make sure she was happy." Beating the smile back with a stick.
"Well? Is she?" Hecuba asked, incredulously.
"Very." The smile started an all out attack and Gabrielle felt a smirk forming on her lips. Thinking fast, she turned back to the door and latched it, setting the smile free with the memory of the last hours activities. Tugging on the door, she stalled having to face her mother again, before she could cage the smile.
"Well get to bed then." Shaking her head at her daughters strange behavior, Hecuba headed for her bedroom. "Your father will be here by midday and Ill need your help with some of the chores."
"Yes, Mom." Waiting until she heard a door close, Gabrielle turned and leaned against the front door as the smile broke its chains. Closing her eyes, the bard stood there for several minutes as a warm flush crept up and she relived Xenas touch. "Gods!" She whispered, as she had done a short time before, then opened her eyes to reality and looked around the darkened room. "Its going to be a long night." Gabrielle shook her head and made for her old room. Opening the door slowly, she slipped in.
"Where have you been?" Lila asked, sitting up in bed.
"Not you too." Gabrielle sighed, closing the door.
"Hello there, sleepyhead." Xena said to Gabrielle as she shuffled into the kitchen.
"Morning." Scratching her head, Gabrielle sat down on the bench beside the warrior and leaned against a strong shoulder, closing her eyes.
"Does she do this a lot?" Lila asked Xena and gave her sister a meaningful stare.
"Oversleep?" Looking to Lila, Xena wrapped her arm around the bards shoulder, allowing Gabrielles head to rest on her shoulder. "Not unless shes really tired."
Hecuba placed a bowl of stew in front of Gabrielle with a scowl. "Looks like she didnt get a wink of sleep."
"Lila kept me up all night." Keeping her eyes closed, Gabrielle pointed in the direction of where her sister sat across from her. "She wouldnt shut up."
"Me?" Looking at the accusing finger, Lila blanched.
Opening her eyes, Gabrielle lifted her head, but didnt move from the warriors arms. "You kept chattering on with a thousand questions. Whats it like sleeping outside? Where did you get that outfit? Have you been to Athens lately? . . . " Doing her worst Lila imitation.
"I did not." Looking at the pair, Lila shook her head. "Youre the one . . ."
"Enough." Hecuba said, silencing her daughters, who were glaring at each other, as she sat down beside Lila.
"Are they always like this?" Xena asked the mother of the brawlers.
"Yes." Hecuba confirmed. "I dont know where they get it from."
Both daughters looked squarely at their mother and smirked. "Right." They said in unison.
Xena chuckled at the three females. "I hope its not in the water."
Three faces turned to look at the warrior and frowned.
Xena chuckled harder. "Sorry."
"Anyway." Gabrielle sat up straight as Xena dropped her arm. "What am I supposed to be doing today?" Bringing the bowl of stew closer, she filled her mouth with gusto.
"Other than stuffing your face?" Lila sneered, which got her a quick glare from her mother.
"I need you to do the milking and collect the eggs." Hecuba said, expecting the look she got.
"I can do that." Xena said simply and got the three faces staring at her again, this time with a strange look.
"You milk cows?" Lila asked awe struck.
"I havent been a warrior all my life, you know." Xena said in her own defense. "And Im good with my hands."
Gabrielle choked, coughing loudly and got two strange looks and one wicked smile.
"Are you all right?" Xena asked, slapping the bard on the back heartily.
"Fine." Catching her breath, Gabrielle glared at the warrior. "You can stop now."
"Are you sure?" Continuing to slap the bard, Xena put on a mock concerned face.
"Yes." Shoving Xena, Gabrielle made a mental note to knock the snot out of the warrior princess at the first opportunity. Shoving the warrior again, she scooted away from Xena, bringing her bowl with her.
"Just checking." Xena scooted over, following the bard and got another shove.
Lila watched the exchange with amusement, liking the fact that Xena could give her sister run for her money in the annoyance department.
Hecuba rolled her eyes, feeling shed somehow picked up another bickering daughter in the warrior. "Ahem." Trying to break up the shoving match before it got out of control.
"Sorry." Xena said apologetically to Hecuba and left the bard to her optical dagger throwing.
"Gabrielle." Her mother said, drawing the bards attention back to the table.
"Yes?" Giving Xena one last stab, the bard turned to her mother.
"If Xenas going to help out," giving the warrior a nod, "then you can muck out the barn and feed the pigs."
Gabrielle threw her head back in dismay and groaned. "Thanks a lot." Turning to give Xena a frown.
"Youre welcome." Xena grinned, giving the bards arm a rub.
Sighing, Gabrielle leaned forward as a look of utter disgust covered her face, but she didnt argue.
"Good." Hecuba looked at her dark haired daughter. "And you can help Gabrielle with the barn and then come back and help me with the baking."
"Oh, yuck." Grimacing at the thought of what might be in the barn, Lila wrinkled her nose.
"Maybe youd like to feed the pigs and Ill help Mom with the baking?" Gabrielle asked her sister, knowing there was no chance Lila would agree.
"Okay." Lila nodded her consent to the bards obvious astonishment.
"Deal." Quickly extending her hand across the table, Gabrielle wanted to seal the deal before Lila had a chance to change her mind.
"Lila, are you feeling all right?" Hecuba brought her hand to her daughters forehead, feeling for a fever. "You hate feeding the pigs."
"Deal." Taking her sisters hand, Lila ignored her mothers concern.
Xena took in the situation with a warriors insight and smelled something fishy in Potidea. Later that morning she found out where the odor came from when she discovered Lilas eagerness sprung from her desire to pester her sister and pump the warrior for information. A task shed accomplished quite well all morning.
"All done here." Gabrielle said, placing the pitchfork aside.
"You missed a spot." Xena pointed, taking a moment away from the milking.
"Where?" Lila asked, looking from the warrior to the surrounding mass of strewn hay.
Making the most of Lilas distraction, Xena gave the bard a wink and a smile, then went back to the utter business, before she got caught flirting.
"Shes kidding." Gabrielle smiled.
"Oh." Pouting, Lila kicked the hay at her feet and dropped her pitchfork nearby. "I guess its off to the sty then." She said sadly.
"Guess so." Gabrielle chirped happily and made no move to leave the barn.
"And its off to the house with you." Smirking at her sister, Lila also made no move to leave the barn.
Xena could feel the tension building behind her and concentrated on the pail of milk at her feet. Shed already figured out why Lila chose to work in the bard and hoped the bard would leave before she discovered that her sister had developed a crush.
The sisters stared at each other. Each waiting for the other to make the first move and leave, but neither yielded. Gabrielle started tapping her foot in annoyance. "Well?" Looking at Lila and gesturing toward the door.
"After you?" Lila copied the bards motions, taking a step back to give Gabrielle a wide berth.
"Brat." Sneering, Gabrielle turned to the warrior seated on a stool behind her. "Ill see you later."
"Absolutely." Looking up, Xena smiled.
Smiling back, Gabrielle switched to a glare for her sister then took several steps toward the door. "Come on, Lila." Over her shoulder, waiting for her sister to follow suit.
Miffed at having to leave and unable to think of an excuse to stay, Lila smiled at Xena. "Bye." Waving, she grudgingly gave in and followed Gabrielle out the door.
"That was a close one." Patting the cow, Xena shook her head.
"Honey, Im home." Xena shouted as she opened the door. Carrying a bucket full of milk and a basket full of eggs, she used her butt to close the door behind her.
"Very funny." Gabrielle said, coming out of the kitchen. Wiping her hands on the apron around her waist, she put them on her hips and looked at the warrior approvingly.
"Xena, youre done?" Hecuba asked, passing her daughter and moving to meet the warrior.
"Yes, maam." Handing her trophies to the older woman for inspection.
Gabrielle rolled her eyes and moved to join them.
"Did you have any trouble?" Looking at the bucket and basket, Hecuba smiled appreciatively.
"The chickens tried to mount a counter attack, but I fought them off." Her hands free, Xena pulled a feather out of her breastplate, presenting it as evidence.
"They can be a little testy." Taking the feather, Gabrielle twirled it between her fingers.
"Looks like the chickens arent the only ones to put up a fight." Stepping back, Xena pointed at a flour covered bard.
"Baking isnt Gabrielles best quality." Hecuba chuckled at her daughter.
"Thanks, Mom." Dusting off some of the flour from her apron, Gabrielle looked down at herself and missed the warriors leer as she bent over, exposing powdered cleavage.
Hecuba, on the other hand, picked up the way Xena appraised her daughter and gave the warrior a questioning glance. She was about to say something when Xena turned her head and moved to the door. "What is it?" She asked instead.
Xena closed her eyes and listened. Here comes trouble, she thought and opened the door. Stepping back, she stayed behind the door and out of sight.
"Gabrielle! Herodotus smiled, coming through the door.
"Dad." Gabrielle shouted, looking at her father wide-eyed, then quickly at the warrior behind the door. "Youre home." Giving Xena a glare for not warning her, the bard looked back to the last chink in the warriors conquest.
"You dont look happy to see me." He said, noticing the almost frightened look on his daughters face.
"Of course I am." Moving to her father, Gabrielle gave him a hug. "How have you been?"
"Fine." Returning the hug, Herodotus smiled at his wife. "Why didnt you tell me she was coming?"
"I didnt know." Shrugging, Hecuba reflected Gabrielles expression and glanced at the warrior, who still held the door. "They showed up yesterday out of the blue."
"They?" Herodotus followed his wifes gaze and turned to see the warrior for the first time. "Xena." He said through gritted teeth.
"Hi." Smiling, Xena gave a little wave.
Gabrielle squeezed her eyes shut and waited for the explosion.
Gabrielle peeked out the window and watched as Xena unloaded the wagon. After the smoke had cleared from the bomb blast, the warrior had taken her cue, grudgingly and gone outside to give Gabrielle and Hecuba a chance to soothe the mans wrath. Shes mad, Gabrielle thought. Shaking her head, she watched the warrior toss sacks of grain into the barn like they were pebbles. Turning back, the bard caught the end of another argument coming from her father.
"What about Lila?" Pacing back and forth, Herodotus looked at his wife.
"What about her?" Hecuba sat patiently, watching her husband.
"Are you going to let that woman steal her away, too?" Stopping as the bard entered the kitchen.
"Xena didnt steal me." Gabrielle said, leaning up against the doorjamb, her arms folded across her chest. "I left."
Hecuba closed her eyes. Two peas in a pod, she thought.
"You never wouldve left, if that woman hadnt come along with her heroics." Pointing in the direction of the barn, Herodotus moved to stand in front of his daughter.
"Her heroics saved our lives, if you remember." Keeping her voice calm, Gabrielle met her fathers glare with a smile. "And I was planning on leaving anyway. Xena just came along at the right time."
"She seduced you away." He said, fuming.
Biting her tongue, the bard kept silent for a moment. "Xena," she said softly and slowly, "was not the reason I left."
"Yes she was." The reddish tint coming back to his face.
"No she wasnt." Easing off the doorjamb, Gabrielle pointed a finger at her father. "You were."
"Gabrielle!" Hecuba warned, coming to her feet.
"What do you mean?" Herodotus asked, stunned by his daughters words.
"You drove me away." Moving to the left, the bard walked past her father and was spun around roughly by his hand on her arm. Looking down at the hand, then up to her father, Gabrielle glared icily. "Get your hand off me."
Herodotus didnt comply and tightened his hold. "You tell me what you mean, daughter."
"Herodotus. Let her go." Coming to the glaring pair, Hecuba tried to separate them.
"Not until she explains herself." Holding fast, he didnt take his eyes off Gabrielle.
Gabrielle just glared, ignoring the pain in her arm.
"Let her go." Trying again, Hecuba put her hand on her husbands shoulder, pulling him back. "Youre hurting her."
"I want an answer!" He shouted, shaking his daughter. "What do you mean?!"
"I think it should be pretty obvious." Gabrielle snapped, trying to pry her arm free.
"Herodotus, let her go!" Hecuba shouted to get her husbands attention and failed.
"Get away from me, woman." Pushing his wife to the side, concentrating on his daughter.
"Dont push her." Gabrielle yelled, shoving her father.
"Dont tell me what to do." He growled, bringing Gabrielle closer.
Hecuba moved back into the fray, pulling hard on her husbands arm. "This is insane." She cried out. "Let her go." Then released him as a dark shadow filled the doorway.
Xena sprung like a cat, grabbing Herodotus wrist in a bone crushing vise with one hand and his throat with the other, lifting the man off the ground by his neck. Pushing the two women aside, she slammed the bards father down on the kitchen table, holding him firmly as he squirmed. Leaning down, until they were face to face, she growled. "Dont you ever touch her again."
"Xena!" Hecuba shouted, panic stricken. "Please, dont hurt him."
Xena ignored the plea and continued holding Herodotus down. Fighting the urge to snap his neck, she tightened her hold on it instead, turning his face a bright red. "You want to see how bad I can be, little man?"
Herodotus stared wildly into the warriors eyes. Unable to breath, he struggled as his life flashed before him.
"Gabrielle." Hecuba looked helplessly at her daughter.
"Xena." Sighing, Gabrielle spoke softly and moved to the warriors side, placing her hand on Xenas arm. "Xena, let him go."
Xena resisted the bards words, wanting nothing more than to tear him limb from limb and banged him down harshly when he tried to get up.
"Xena, please." Cupping the warriors chin, Gabrielle brought Xenas eyes to meet hers. "Let him go." She said softly, but firmly and gently tugging on the warriors arm. "Please."
Just as quickly as shed pounced, Xena released Herodotus with a shove. Growling, she stepped back several paces, allowing the bard to stand in front of her.
"Thank you." Hecuba said to Gabrielle, then helped her husband to sit up.
Herodotus choked, fighting to breathe and glared at his daughter and the warrior, but said nothing.
"Whats going on?" Lila asked, coming on the scene and looking quickly between her parents and the couple. "Dad. Are you all right?" Moving to her fathers side.
"Hell live." Xena sneered.
Hecuba looked up at the warrior, then to the bard. Expecting her daughter to say something, she gave Gabrielle a strange look when she kept silent.
Letting her actions speak for herself, Gabrielle folded her arms across her chest and leaned into the warriors body as Xena wrapped her arms around her waist protectively. Taking Xenas hand, she laced their fingers together and waited for her father to recover.
Seeing the two women, as if for the first time, Hecubas mind finally registered what all the hints had pointed to for the past two years. Sighing, she shook her head, then helped her husband to his feet.
Rubbing his neck, Herodotus shook off the helping hands and glared at Xena. "This is your fault. Youve twisted her mind against me."
"The only thing Ive twisted is your neck." Calmed by the bards presence, Xena remained still.
"Whats going on?" Lila asked again, still confused. "What happened?"
"That witch tried to kill me." Herodotus pointed at Xena accusingly.
"What?" Lila looked at Xena in surprise.
"She was only protecting me." Gabrielle answered, then looked up at the warrior. "Thank you, by the way."
"Always a pleasure." Smiling, Xena kissed the bards brow.
"Excuse me." Lila interrupted for a couple of reasons. One was to get to the bottom of what was going on with her father and the other was because she didnt like the way Xena was looking at her sister.
"Get out of my house." Still staring at Xena, Herodotus interrupted the interruption and got four angry female faces staring at him. "I want them out of my house immediately. Youre not welcome here."
"Hold on." Lila wasnt going to let anyone leave until she had some answers.
"They arent leaving." Hecuba, stepping from her husbands side, spoke with authority.
"I said . . ." Herodotus started, but was silenced by his wifes stern voice.
"I heard what you said and they still arent leaving." Putting her hands on her hips, Hecuba took a step in his direction. "I let you run Gabrielle off once, with your stubbornness. I wont let you do it again."
Xena, Gabrielle and Lila looked at the woman in awe and then at each other.
"Ive put up with your bullheadedness for too long, Herodotus." Hecuba continued. "You wanted to know what ran our daughter out of our house, well thats it."
"I did no such thing?" Incredulous, Herotodus pointed at the warrior. "She stole our daughter."
"She did no such thing. In case you havent noticed, nobody makes Gabrielle do anything she doesnt want to." Hecuba smiled. "Shes just like you. Stubborn."
Gabrielle stared wide-eyed.
"She left here," Hecuba continued, "because youd never listen to her. She was always telling us she wanted to travel the world, but you just ignored her and so did I. All those stories she used to tell at dinner, the maps in her room, the way shed stare up at the sky daydreaming, she wasnt meant for farm life Herodotus. Shes a bard and always has been and if we werent so stubborn, we wouldve seen that, instead of us trying to marry her off to Perdicus to tie her down. Shes her own person and not our little girl anymore. Shes a grown woman who can make up her own mind and if traveling around with Xena makes her happy, we should be happy for her. Thats what good parents are supposed to do. Not suffocate them with our desires and harass them when they dont do what we want. Our love is supposed to be unconditional, not have strings attached to it."
Herodotus stood speechless. Hed never heard so many words come out of his wifes mouth at one time and wondered where theyd all come from.
"Wow." Lila stared at the woman who used to be her mother before shed turned into a she wolf.
"Now I know where you get your talking from." Xena whispered and got a jab in the ribs. "Ooof."
Gabrielle, who was the first to recover, beamed. Seeing her mother in a new and very bright light, she felt an appreciation for the woman. Hecuba had included herself in her accusations and the bard felt a strange warmth, realizing her mother had listened all those years and understood, even if she didnt approve of the bard leaving.
Ignoring her audience, Hecuba stared at her husband. "Now, are you going to come to your senses and love your daughter and accept her for who she is, or am I going to have to hit you over the head with the frying pan?"
Feeling as if hed already been hit, Herodotus rubbed his head. His wifes words stung, but the truth in them rang through. Hed been a fool and everything hed promised he wouldnt be. A bad father. No matter how good his intentions had been, hed failed and now saw in the faces of his family that there was little he could do, but go along. "They can stay." He said quietly.
"Good." Hecuba smiled and turned to the three smiling faces behind her. "Go wash up. Lunch will be ready in a little while."
"Works for me." Gabrielle smirked at her mothers stern, yet comical stance. Grabbing Xenas arm, she dragged the warrior out of the room.
Hecuba turned to scowl at her other daughter who said nothing and scurried away. Then, turning back to her bewildered husband, she wrapped her arms around his neck and gave him a warm kiss. "I always knew youd come around."
Smiling somewhat ruefully, Herodotus shrugged. "Like I had a choice." Wrapping his arms around his wife, he brought her in for a passionate kiss.
Four happy and somewhat quiet days later . . .
"Are you mad you didnt get to win him over yourself?" Gabrielle asked. Sitting on the milking stool she watched Xena saddle Argo.
"Not really." Smiling down at the blonde. "I got to strangle him a little. That was fun."
Rolling her eyes, Gabrielle stood. "Thank you for not killing my father." Taking the warriors hand, she brought it to her lips and kissed it softly.
"Never crossed my mind." Wrapping her arm around a bare waist, Xena drew the bard to her.
"Really, Xena?" Looking into azure pools, Gabrielle smirked.
"Not really, but it sounded good." Bringing her hand up to run a finger across the bards lower lip.
Closing her eyes, Gabrielle felt the warriors lips meet hers and leaned into the kiss.
"Anybody home?" Lila shouted as she approached the barn.
"Shes got Cyrenes timing." Gabrielle grumbled, extracting herself from the warrior before her sister came in.
"Im beginning to think its us." Xena smirked and turned back to Argo.
"Maybe." Sitting down on the stool, Gabrielle shifted to watch Lila as she entered. "Hi."
"Hi, yourself." Coming to her sister, Lila dropped the package in her arms into Gabrielles lap. "Mom told me to give you this."
"What is it?" Feeling the weight of the bundle, Gabrielle looked back at Lila.
"Food." Squatting down, Lila patted the woolen bundle. "I think she thinks youre not eating right. She thinks youre too skinny."
Gabrielle looked from her sister to glare at the warriors back, which was shaking with laughter. "What are you laughing at, tall, dark and twiggy?"
"Hey." Still laughing, Xena turned and tried to look insulted, which she failed at miserably. "Im not the one getting a care package."
"Theres stuff in there for you too." Lila added, standing along with her sister. "Mom put in a couple of extra loaves of nut bread."
"Oh, really?" Smiling in anticipation, Xena reached for the bundle and got her hand slapped. "Ow."
"You dont want it." Keeping the bundle out of the warriors reach. "Itll make you fat."
Moving toward the bard, Xenas expression changed to a woman on the hunt. "Like Im worried? Now give me that." Reaching out again, but avoiding the bards attempt at defense, Xena took the offense. "Come here, little girl." Switching to a sultry smile.
"Get away from me." Backing up, Gabrielle put the bundle behind her back.
"Come here, fishy, fishy, fishy." Raising an eyebrow, Xena tried to corner the bard.
"Guys. Its just nut bread" Misinterpreting the couples playfulness, Lila looked at them like theyd lost their minds.
The last thing on Xenas mind at the moment was was nut bread and as she stalked her prey, the warrior was making that fact evident to the bard. "Gabrielle." She purred.
"Xena." Backing up again, Gabrielle put up a warning hand. "Dont even think about it."
Chattering her teeth together, Xena snarled. "Come here." Pouncing, she barely missed the bard when jumped out of her grasp at the last second.
"Xena!" Dropping the bundle, Gabrielle bolted for her sister, using the confused girl as a shield. "Stay away from me."
Bringing up both hands, Xena wiggled her fingers. "You know Im gonna get ya."
"You two are nuts." Lila watched wide-eyed as the warrior came closer. "Its just nut bread for Zeus sake and its not even that good."
"Thats what you think." Jumping to one side, Xena grabbed the bards arm as she tried to make a break in the other direction. "Now Ive got ya."
"Xena!" Struggling to get free, Gabrielle slapped at a hand reaching for her thigh. "Stop that. Are you crazy?"
"No, just hungry." Running her tongue over her lips, she smiled wickedly. "And I know whats on the menu."
Held firmly by one arm, Gabrielle used the other to slap at the groping warrior. "Would you quit?" Her attention split, she tried to remind the warrior of her sisters presence. "Lilas right here." She whispered and nodded in the young womans direction.
"Let her get her own bard." Xena chuckled and made another grab.
"Xena!" Mortified, Gabrielle knocked the warrior upside the head.
Grabbing the bards other arm, Xena drew Gabrielle closer, moving the bards arms behind her back and out of harms way. "Violence will get you everywhere." She whispered huskily.
"Oh gods." Gabrielle whispered. Unable to move her arms, she opted for her last line of defense and stomped on Xenas foot with all her might.
"Ow." Her mood shattered by pain, Xena released Gabrielle and hopped in circles, holding her foot.
"You guys are nuts." Lila said again and watched with stunned amusement. Shaking her head, she left the two women to go crazy together. Closing the barn door behind her, Lila walked away, then stopped suddenly. Looking back over her shoulder, she rolled her eyes and snapped her fingers. Turning back, she opened the door and stuck her head in. "By the way, Gabrielle, Mom said she wont feel insulted if you want to sleep in the barn the next time you two visit. She said she was young once and understands the benefits of privacy, which I didnt get at all, but she also said shed make something up to tell Dad."
Gabrielle fell on the floor and Xena stopped hopping.
"There was also something else about the cow having flashbacks, but I didnt get that either." Shrugging her shoulder, Lila rolled her eyes. "Anyway make sure you stop by the house before you leave." Her message delivered, Lila closed the door.
Shaking her head, Xena walked over to the bards body and nudged it with her toe. "You alive?"
"I dont think so." Staring at the ceiling, Gabrielle tried to breathe.
Bending over, Xena put her hands on her knees and smiled. "Want me to check?"
Moving her eyes from the ceiling to the warrior, Gabrielle gave Xena a scowl. "If you pinch me, Ill kill you."
"Actually, thats not what I had in mind." Her mood returning, Xena flicked her eyebrows a couple of times, then eased down beside her partner and gave the bard a passionate kiss.
Wrapping her arms around the warrior, Gabrielle pulled at Xenas armor. "How long do you think itll take before they come looking for us?"
"Knowing your mother, could be days." Smiling into deep green eyes, Xena kissed the bards nose, then made her way to the soft skin of Gabrielles throat.
"Works for me."
The end, unless they decide to break their relationship to Joxer.
Thanks for reading.
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