Disclaimers: The characters of Xena: Warrior Princess and all other associated with the television series of the same name are owned by MCA/ Universal Pictures. This is a work of fan fiction and no copyright infringement is intended.
Subtext: I guess with my writing so far we'll just quit calling it subtext and call it maintext. Yes they are in love with each other.
Other: Not a part of anything else Im writing, just an old fashioned Xena and Gab story the muse gave me this morning.
The Solstice Gift By T.Novan TNOVAN@aol.com
Gabrielle awoke to the chill of the early morning feeling, well, warm. This was unusual only because Xena was always up before her and she was left to fend for herself on the chilly mornings. Fending for herself, generally included spending an extra mark curled deep in the bedroll trying to get together the courage to face the chilly air.
This morning however she was warm and content and she knew immediately it was because of the warm body curled tight against her back and the strong arm draped over her waist. She listened to Xena breath, it was deep and even and she didnt sound sick or distressed. Curiosity getting the better of the blonde, she rolled over to face her partner.
She was greeted with a smile and cheerful blue eyes. "Good morning." Xena offered, placing a kiss to the bards nose.
"It certainly is. Why are you still in bed? Not that Im complaining, mind you."
"Just felt like staying here with you this morning." Xenas arm tightened around her waist and her hand firmed out across her back.
This action caused Gabrielle to snuggle closer. "Hmm this is nice, you should stay in bed more often."
"I think theres a grain of truth to that." She agreed with a nod and a kiss to the top of the head that rested just below her chin.
"So you just decided to stay here and relax?"
"Umm-hmm. I know were going to be at your house later today and I didnt want to be taken away from you any sooner than I had to."
The bard sighed and nodded. "We dont have to go if you dont want to."
"Oh no. This is what you wanted for Solstice and its the only thing I can afford to give you, so youre going home. I just wanted extra time with you before we got there. Thats all."
"I love you Xena."
"Love you too, Bard."
Gabrielle could smell the bread baking before she could see her childhood home. The smell made her stomach rumble and she heard Xena chuckle from atop her position on Argo. "You did not hear that." The blonde protested without even turning around to face her partner.
"Every one in Greece heard that." The warrior laughed.
"Oh you!" Gabrielle thumped her staff hard against the ground, continuing her walk just ahead of Xena and Agro.
As they approached the house Xena slid from the saddle. She stopped, clearing her throat slightly. Gabrielle turned around to find the tall woman motioning her back.
"You go on alone Gabrielle."
"No, now listen to me," The warrior opened her saddlebags to retrieve the few gifts that the bard had purchased for her family. She placed them in a smaller bag, handing it to the shorter woman. "You go on and spend Solstice with your family. Youll all have a better time if Im not there."
"I wont." Gabrielle protested, wrapping the end of the bag around her hand.
"Sure you will. Its only for a day or two."
"Where will you be?"
"You know that clearing down by the lake on the eastern side of your parents house?"
Gabrielle gave a little nod.
"Ill be there. If you need me just yell. Ill hear you. I wont be far from you, just your father." A tight smile broke across Xenas lips. "You know how much he likes me."
"Xena come on give him a chance."
"Gabrielle we both know how it will go. Well get there and we will spend the entire time staring at each other in silent challenge over you. We both love you and we both have our opinion about how you should live your life and we just don't agree." She straightened to her full height and smiled. "And since Im right and hes wrong, I think you should just go spend a couple of days there letting him think hes right. Itll be the best Solstice gift you could give him. Besides its a time for families to be together."
The bard smiled back at her partner, before leaning up and taking a long kiss. "I knew there was a reason I loved you."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah. Now go on." She winked, sending Gabrielle off to the house alone. She watched and waited until she was sure the woman had made it safely then she turned for the clearing. "Well Argo, its just you and me girl. Think you can stand another Solstice alone with me?"
The horse snorted, nodding her head, giving Xena a little nudge. The warrior wrapped her arm around the mares broad neck offering her a solid pat.
"Glad to hear it."
Gabrielle immediately found herself enfolded in the loving arms of her family the moment she entered her childhood home. While it was nice to be home, there was an emptiness left by the absence of the warrior.
Her mother was the first to notice that the tall woman hadnt come in with her daughter. Without thinking she inquired, "Wheres Xena?"
Gabrielles eyes met her fathers own. His face hardened immediately at the mention of the warriors name. "Shes around. She decided to go spend Solstice somewhere else. She said this was a time for family." Her father grumbled then headed for the barn. She just shook her head as she listened to the door close. The bard looked to her mother and sister. "You know Xena stayed away so he wouldnt act like that."
"My dear, sweet Gabrielle," Her mother wrapped an arm around her daughters shoulders, leading her into the kitchen. "Hes always acted like that and you know it. It has nothing to do with Xena. Shes just a convenient excuse."
Fresh baked bread was cut, hot mint tea was poured and the three women sat down at the table to gossip and catch up with each other.
Xena tossed another log on the fire, wrapping her cloak tighter around her shoulders. She leaned back against the tree, pulling the blanket over her legs, then opening the rations sack. Digging out some dried meat, a little cheese and half an apple, she settled in and watched the house from her spot in the clearing.
It was chilly tonight and she knew that she would miss the warmth and comfort of having Gabrielle close to her. She relaxed into the tree, knowing though that the bard was warm and safe and that was all that really mattered.
She glanced up at the moon. It was bright and beautiful and very full. Xena knew that the next night, Solstice night would make it even bigger and even brighter and she wondered what it would be like to dance with Gabrielle under that Solstice moon. "Oh well," The warrior sighed. "Shes home and shes happy."
In reality, Gabrielle stood in her room staring out the window at the same moon. Wondering if the warrior was warm enough on this cold night and if she had gotten enough to eat. The bard felt almost guilty for enjoying the huge meal that her mother had prepared. Hot food, the best she had had in moons, roasted goose, fresh bread and vegetables. She had eaten her share and more, before her thoughts turned to Xena. Then she excused herself, returned to her room and spent the rest of the evening just looking out the window, missing the other half of her soul.
"I love you Xena." She whispered. "And I miss you."
She didnt hear the door open and jerked just a bit when she felt a hand come to rest on her shoulder. She turned to find her mother. The older woman held out a plate to her daughter. "Take this. Go find and feed your warrior. If you dont youll never sleep tonight." She smiled, caressing her daughters face. "Solstice is a time for family and she is your family just as much as we are. Now go on so you can be back here before your father misses you."
The bard gave her mother a quick hug, taking the plate, she place a kiss on her mothers cheek, then headed out the window to find Xena. It wasnt a long walk to the campsite, with the small fire Xena had built she could see the warrior leaning against the tree.
"What no drawn sword greeting? Xena Im disappointed."
"I heard you coming. What are you doing here?"
"I brought you," She settled on her knees at Xenas side and uncovered the plate. "A real home cooked meal."
"Thank you." She smiled, taking the plate into her lap. "But speaking of home, shouldnt you be there?"
"I snuck out to come be with you."
"Did you do that often? Sneak out to be with someone?"
"Never until you. Youre bad for my willpower." Gabrielle leaned in, giving her partner a long and loving kiss. "And now that Im here." She settled down next to Xena. "You can just share your blanket with me."
"Gladly." Xena rearranged cloaks and blankets until they were both complete covered and settled comfortably into each others arms. She returned her attention to the plate of warm food she had set aside, bringing it to her lap she picked a piece of the goose meat up and started to pop it in her mouth only to stop and offer it silently to the bard first."
"Unt-huh. Had my fill thanks. You eat. Thats yours."
"Well, at least eat the nut bread while its still warm." She handed the sweet treat to the bard, placing a kiss to her temple at the same time. "Im glad you came. I was really missing you."
"Yeah, well, I know the feeling. Were just pitiful you know that?"
"Why? Xena drew back with a little smirk, looking down at her lover.
"We are adults. We should be able to spend one day apart."
"Well sometimes, when love is new and good, it simply overpowers good sense." The warrior laughed only to find a piece of warm nut bread popped in her mouth. "I told you," She protested as she chewed. "To eat that." She swallowed hard.
"And I told you that this was yours, now eat."
The warrior resigned herself to eating without further protest. After, she set the plate aside and simply wrapped Gabrielle up in her arms to hold her close. "You should get back." She offered only after feeling the woman relaxing into sleep.
"Hmm, I suppose." Gabrielle yawned, sitting up just a little. "You going to be okay?"
"Sure I will. You know me, I can sleep anywhere."
"Yeah right." The bard snorted getting to her feet. "I can sleep anywhere. You sleep, someplace, occasionally.
"Ill be fine, now go on."
Before the bard left, they shared a final kiss that they both hoped would get them through the night.
Xena grabbed for her sword, she didnt move as she listened to the footsteps she just waited, clutching her blade in her hand ready to take down someone stupid enough to intrude into her camp.
"You awake?" The decidedly male voice asked from a fairly safe distance.
"Depends." Xena muttered, rolling over to face Gabrielles father. "What do you want?"
"I want to give you as a Solstice gift."
"My daughter is up at the house and she is perfectly miserable and I know why. So get your gear and come on."
"Ya know, Xena, sometimes its just best not to argue." With that he turned and walked away.
Realizing that he was right, Xena gathered her gear and headed for the house right behind the older man. They didnt speak during the walk and it was only after Argo had been tended to in the barn that Gabrielles father uttered his next words.
"I still dont like you. I dont like that fact that my daughter left with you. I dont like the fact that she travels with you and I most certainly dont like the fact that she loves you. But she does and theres not a damn thing I can do about it. If I tried, she would only hate me, and I wont go to my grave with my children hating me. So Ill learn to get use to you. When you bring her home you will stay with her like a good," He paused as he looked to Xena, not quite sure what to call her. She most certainly didnt qualify as a husband.
"Partner?" Xena offered quietly.
He nodded. "Partner should. Dont disappear and make her choose between us because none of us win that way. Shes just not herself when youre not around. So come on, lets get up to the house so shell be happy. Its Solstice for Zeus sake she deserves to be happy on Solstice."
Xena nodded, once again following without a word. Even through his tone and words were harsh, there was something in them that made her realize they werent at gruff as he made them sound. He was finally coming around and if she played the game just right, every thing would eventually be okay. So for now the game was be a good little warrior and dont piss off the bards father.
When they entered the house she stood quietly, waiting for him to tell her what to do next. She could hear Gabrielle in the kitchen with her mother and sister. She looked tentatively to her father.
"Well go on. Get in there. Go get her before I have to listen to her whisper and tell her sister how much she misses you again." He grumbled as he wandered into the back part of the house.
She smiled shaking her head just slightly. Then she headed for the kitchen. Standing in the doorway it didnt take long before she found her arms full of bard. "Xena! What are you doing here?"
"Umm, well, it seems Im a Solstice gift to you from your father." She smiled down at the blonde, who now had tears in her eyes. "Hey Im not that bad. I guess you could return me if youre that upset." She teased, wiping the tears away.
"Oh no, youre not going anywhere." She led Xena into the kitchen sitting her at the table and pouring her a cup of hot tea. "But I need to go talk to my father."
Xena nodded, sipping the tea. "Ill be here."
Gabrielle laid a hand to his shoulder. He turned around to face her, his own green eyes sparkling in the morning sun.
"I love you Daddy." She put her arms around his neck, hugging him close.
"I love you too baby."
"Thank you." She gave him a soft kiss on the cheek.
"We have a long way to go, that one and I do." He warned, sounding more like a proper father should.
"I know, but if you give her a chance youll see it too."
"I dont ever have to see it Gabrielle. You see it and thats all that matters to me. I just want you to be happy."
"Happy Solstice Daddy."
"Happy Solstice Gabrielle."
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