Second Place (BEST STORY):

Candy is Dandy… But Sex Won't Rot Your Teeth

by Aurelia


GENERAL DISCLAIMER: Xena, Gabrielle and associated characters are the property of MCA Universal and Renaissance Pictures, and their writers. All rights are reserved to the legal owners, and no infringement is intended. All other original characters are the property of the author.

BAD LANGUAGE: Some... okay, a lot... but nothing too graphic.

THANKS: To my own two action heroes, my beta readers, who let me go out and play hile they did grownup Beta stuff.

© December 2005

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"That has got to be the stupidest goddamned T-shirt I have ever seen!"Detective Sergeant Morgan Riley O'Callaghan had seen some truly horrific sights in her time, but this took the cake. Emblazoned across the chest of her cohort, in garish red letters, was a slogan that was easily thirty years old, "Candy is Dandy.....But Sex Won't Rot Your Teeth". The chubby detective looked down to his tight shirt, watching the letters stretched out over his ample midsection.

"What's wrong with it?"

"Oh, Henry! Please! Where in this galaxy did you find that thing, on Mars?"

"My wife gave me this, thank you very much."

"Well, I hope she gave you lots of hugs and kisses with it then, because I wouldn't be caught dead in that thing."

Morgan surveyed the chaotic scene in front of her and wondered about the Yuletide season. What was it about this time of year that turns everyone into absolute lunatics? The rest of the year everyone hated your guts, but for one week in December they pretended like you were their long-lost best friend.

Detectives and uniformed officers alike stood huddled around like lost sheep, accompanied by wives, girlfriends, boyfriends and husbands to share in the merriment of the annual Christmas party. What a waste of time.

The only good this many people were doing within these ancient walls was to heat up the room. The aging radiators had been struggling all day to keep the temperature above ten degrees. It was so damned cold. Morgan wandered over to the coffee maker for a refill, adding the necessary cream and two sugars to make the sludge palatable.

"You're not coming to the Christmas party tonight, Mo?"

"Nah, thought I'd give you goobers a chance at celebrating."In point of fact, Morgan just didn't want to celebrate Christmas this year, with nowhere to go and no one to celebrate it with. It just made her feel her loneliness even more. "Go on Henry, you're being a slow poke, don't wanna be late to show off your lovely new shirt."

The dejected detective dragged his feet out the door, disappointed that his joke fell flat. "Oh, and Henry? Give my love to your wife and baby Ruth Anne."

"Sure, thanks. Have a good night, Jugs."

"Damnit, Henry, I told you not to call me that!"Morgan was sensitive about her endowments, often the object of derision concerning her ample curves. A round of coarse humour circulated amongst her co-workers, most of them centered on her anatomy. She had long since given up trying to fight the jibing as it only encouraged even more snide remarks.

"When will you guys grow up? Torpedoes, headlights, bazookas, jugs. Yeah, yeah, heard 'em all. You enjoy showing your loved ones how you treat women, eh? Girls, this is what it's like working with these bozos."There was a gentle murmur of support and the guys shifted their feet nervously in embarrassment. Men are soooo easy...

"Alright, you clowns. Listen up!"Captain Markham stood in the middle of the mass, raising his voice over the din. "Kindly make your way to the Duty Room so we can get this shindig underway. Those on duty will not miss out on the festivities. Food and drink will be coming your way later."When there was no sign of movement, he barked, "Move it people! This Christmas please."

Morgan eyed one of the younger rookies with an older man. "Hey, Cheryl!"The young brunette looked up. "Sugar daddy?"She mouthed it carefully for the young woman's eyes only. Morgan tried very hard not to laugh when her eyes widened and she shook her head vigorously. "G'wan."Morgan dismissed Cheryl and her date with a wave of her hand, wiggling her eyebrows in mock invitation at the mortified rookie.

Sighing deeply, she looked around the near-empty station house. Only a skeleton crew was on tonight, the rest enjoying a little holiday cheer. A shrill ring drew her from her reverie. She reached for the aged receiver and spoke clearly, "5th Avenue. Detective Sergeant O'Callaghan."For a while, her depression was forgotten as the demands of her job occupied her.

It was turning into one hell of a night. In the tank so far were four drunks who didn't know what week it was, two prostitutes dressed as Christmas trees and one Jesus, complete in long robes, sandals, beard and long hair who vehemently claimed that his birthday was August 15th and that his mother was Barbara and not Mary. Now, to top it all off, at the front desk were a bunch of ...............Amazons?

Morgan stepped outside to the stoop of the precinct and looked up to the sky. The cloud cover stopped her seeing the full moon that she was sure was there. She breathed deeply, allowing the brisk night air to tear at her lungs, stirring her blood, while the patter of newly formed snowflakes touched her upturned face. "Just great..."

She looked up and down the street, snow-covered cars sitting as silent sentinels to the plummeting temperature, while Santa carried on a lonely vigil at the bottom of the steps all in the name of charity. Salt crystals crunched under her shifting feet, nearly brittle in the icy terrain, and cigarette butts liberally littered the top step. Before her breath froze over, she returned to the relative safety and warmth of the station house.

The tall detective stepped back inside, seeking the huddled warmth of the crowded room. Looking over to the mass of humanity in front of her, she tried not to laugh at the skimpy costumes peeking out from under their trench coats. These girls must be nuts...

"Hey, O'Callaghan!"

"Yeah?"She looked up to the wiry Desk Sergeant. "Oh, hi Joe. Not home with the grandkids?"

"It was either this or work tomorrow. Wanna be there when they open their presents."

"No Santa?"

"Nah, they're all a bunch of smarties. Over that caper long ago."

"Well, let's hope it's a quiet night and we can all get home to family on time."

"Mo... Sorry to hear about your dad. He was a good man, and a damned fine cop."This was her first Christmas without family. Her brothers were on the other side of the country and she was alone. That's why she volunteered for duty tonight. No point in hanging around an empty apartment. C'mon Morgan, suck it up...

"Thanks, Joe."She directed her attention to the group of leathered femininity in front of her. "All right, there, girls. Bill, go ahead and take 5. What is going on?"It looked like the entire cast of Xena was crowded into the room.

"Well, it ain't M&M, thank God."Bill replied, before leaving her to the noisy chatter.

"M&M? The candy or the rap singer?"The ring leader, a curly blonde, had no idea what they were talking about.

"Murder & mayhem."

"Oh, no, nothing like that! Three guys acting like jerks burst in on our workshop and went on this wrecking spree. The main guy comes up to me, calls us a bunch of nerds, then him and his buddies start destroying the place."

"Much damage?"

"Yeah, we had a bunch of these old treasures stored there, some of them pretty valuable. Probably 100 grand's worth."

"What did the perps look like?"Morgan inwardly sighed, another bunch of wackos on Christmas Eve.

"Weird. Runts mostly. You know, a bunch of real airheads, if you know what I mean."

"Yeah, I know what you mean. You got insurance?"The lead chick nodded. "Your best bet at this stage is to go ahead and claim damages. We'll seriously try, but unfortunately incidents like this usually turn up a big fat zero."

There was a general dissatisfied rumbling amongst the crowd at their apparent brush off by the Law. "I'm truly sorry girls, but the chances of us catching these guys are slim. It's..."Morgan looked at her watch, "...After eight, why don't you call it a night, find a nice bar and take some time out to mellow a little."She looked up and down the women. "And I know some places those outfits would be a big hit in."

She hated seeing their crest-fallen faces. "Just a minute. Joe, can you get a uniform to take these ladies to their place for a site report?"She inwardly smiled at the pleased looks from the group. You're so easy, Morgan. You are just a sucker for a pretty face, aren't you?

She had taken great care to keep her private life just that... private. No one she worked with knew her sexual orientation and none of them ever would if she could help it. But it was quiet, and she spared herself this one small moment to check out the female flesh on display. Amazons... hmmm. Not bad.

"So, girls, what exactly do you hot tamales do? And in those outfits? Or should I ask?"

An adorable smaller Amazon spoke up, "We're called Chicks with Swords, a theater group who also have workshops for stagecraft. You know sword fighting and stuff. Why? You wanna break away from this life to join us and become my lifesaver?"There was a quiet snickering amongst the group.

"You are a little bit-o-honey, aren't you? Do you think you need my help?"A round of oo-o's went around the room.

"Well, I'm sure I could teach you a thing or two, sweet tart."Snickering had burst into laughter.

"G'wan, get out of here."Morgan gave them her best toothy grin, ushering them towards the waiting area. "Take a seat over there and I'll get a uniform to help you."

Aww, shit, shit, shit!! Andrea Evangelina Worthington had muttered under her breath for the tenth time. Fifth Avenue, they said. Where in the Sam Hell is that station house? She had only recently moved to New York City and was getting lost on a regular basis. It was damned cold outside with all this wet snow and was silently praying to find that nice warm Police Station.

Just when she was about to give up, Andrea turned the final corner to see those welcome words "Fifth Avenue Precinct". Ohhhh, thank you, Jesus. The feeling to her fingers had just about gone and her toes were not far behind. Tightening her overcoat around her, Andrea trudged those last few steps through the snow-laden ground to the foot of the building. She so missed the warm breezes of her native Charleston.

Out in front of the station stood a Santa, ringing his bell and standing his ground in the slowly falling snow. Tentatively, she negotiated the concrete staircase, feeling the intense cold of the icy steps through the bottom of her boots. She pushed through the heavy double doors of the station house and immediately felt the warmth in the air gently brushing her chilled skin.

It was like she had stepped into an alternate universe. The smell was... indescribable. This being her first job in the public office, she had not been prepared for the smells of the unwashed masses. Mentally she wrinkled her nose in disgust, but presented a façade of outward calm to the Desk Sergeant she was standing in front of. It was like the ballpark in the middle of summer, appallingly bad fast food, residual cigarette smoke, stale coffee and sweaty men. She just knew that her stuck up family would just curl up and die at such an assault to their delicate senses.

Milling around her were a bunch of women dressed as Amazons talking in ever increasing volume, their arms flailing around in an animated fashion. They turned their attention to her arrival, looking her up and down.

"Ladies, Amphipolis is that way."She pointed out the door, receiving a quiet chuckle in reaction to her comment. Through a side door stepped a tall, dark haired woman, whose persona expanded to fill the room.

Morgan had tried to get back to the pile of paperwork cluttering up her desk but the chattering women outside were a serious impediment to her concentration. She moved quickly to the door, pushing through with familiarity. "Ladies, please!"The noise abated only slightly. She directed her remark to the curly-haired woman. "Yo, Ephiny!"

"Danielle."For a second, Morgan did a double-take. Nah, couldn't be...

"Yeah, whatever. Can you get your Amazons under control here, please? I have mounds of paperwork to do and all this, well... this... is a serious distraction. A uniformed officer will be out momentarily."She could see the apprehension written on their faces, especially their leader. "Ephiny, don't crunch your teeth. We will make every effort to find these guys, okay?"

"Okay."But by their look knew the truth. These guys were gone like the wind.

Morgan looked over to the new arrival. Interested azure eyes studied the young woman standing aside from the main group, captivated by the beautiful classical features that so spoke to her heart. Eyes as green as grass met hers for a moment, and she felt the loneliness disappear under that careful gaze.

She finally looked over the rest of the woman. "Hey, you... Gabrielle."Actually, this one could pass for the chick on that show.

Andrea looked to the one audacious enough to call her by that name. My, my, my, she isone tall cool drink of water!And with legs that seems to go on forever and a day! Forcing her gaze past those long, slender legs so enticingly highlighted in the soft brushed cotton pants she wore, she lifted her eyes to drown in a deep sea of blue. Eyes that were so rich that her world took on a depth and color that she had not known existed. Framing the strong, angular face was a mass of charcoal hair, tied back in a loose ponytail down her back. And that voice. Its low, dark timbre reached down deep inside her, begging for a home within her soul. "I beg your pardon?"

"Gabrielle. That your name?"

"Counsellor to you..."Andrea hesitated as she searched the tall detective for her badge, locating it hanging on her belt below the soft grey sweater she wore.

"Detective Sergeant O'Callaghan. Can I help you?"

Andrea extended her hand, "Assistant District Attorney Andrea Worthington."

"What are you doing here at this time of night, Counsellor?"Morgan blinked. Counsellor? "Is there something I can assist you with, or are you just checking out the local wildlife?"she said as she glanced towards the Amazon Nation.

"Do you mind if we talk elsewhere?"

"Of course, this way please."Morgan raised her voice over the din, and another handful of gaily dressed Amazon wannabes turned up. We are turning into a goddamned Xena Convention!

"Hey Ephiny. You and your peeps have a Merry Christmas! Take it easy."

"You too, detective. You and Gabrielle have a REAL good time, too."

Morgan had to smile. She could hear the puff of indignant air escape the smaller woman next to her as she guided the Counsellor towards the Squad Room.

"Hey, Xena! Merry Christmas girl."

She gave them a wide smile. "That's Detective Sergeant Warrior Princess to you!"Passing through the door, she could hear the receding raucous laughter. Ah, Christmas, always brings out the loonies.

As Morgan guided the ADA towards her desk, she looked around the room. Most of the riff raff had been taken care of earlier that evening, and now only the seriously demented and desperate were roaming the streets this close to midnight. As she settled in her chair, the noise from outside receded as she suspected the uniformed officer was herding off his little group of Amazons towards the crime scene.

"So, Counsellor..."

"Andy is fine, detective."

"My name is Morgan, but most of the guys around here call me Mo."

"Mo... no, Morgan is much more suitable, detective."

"So, Andy, can I interest you in a cup of coffee?"

"Why thank you, Morgan. I most certainly would love a cup of nice hot coffee."

Morgan felt a slight tremor move through her at that name rolling off the small blonde's tongue, that Southern twang adding the right amount of sexiness to it, like a sensual invitation. Shake it off, Mo.

The tall detective moved over to the coffee maker, her eyes swiveling back to the woman who stood to remove her coat. The sound of the door opening shifted her gaze. In strolled a disheveled Santa holding a small red bucket in one pudgy hand. "Can I help you there, Santa? Here for the party? One moment and I'll take you through."

Morgan stood there with a large white coffee mug in her hand. "Andy? How do you take it?"

"Cream, one sugar please."She added the milk and sugar, returning to her desk stirring the brew.

"There you go. Just give me a minute to get rid of Santa, then we can talk."She looked up to find the room empty. "Hey, where did he go?"Left in his place was the small red pail, and her senses kicked into high alert. "Stay here,"she murmured, moving quickly towards the bucket.

She peered into it to see a timer. 004... 003... 002... "Get down!"she screamed as the deadly parcel prepared to wreak havoc. ...001... Morgan dived under one of the nearby heavy desks. ... 000... just as the explosion rocked the station. Great chunks of the ceiling fell down on her cover, making it jump and buck under the rain of deadly missiles.

An uneasy quiet settled over the room, white dust from shattered plaster and brickwork hung in the air, filling her lungs. "Everyone alright?"The silence was deafening. Morgan moved her head out from underneath the broken desk, unaware of the piece of dislodged ceiling speeding to meet her uncovered head. Her last conscious thought was of Andy...

Blackness finally gave way to a dull grey and a pounding headache. She tried to call out but the dust had made her throat dry, leaving her voice sounding harsh and broken. "Joe? Joe, you there?"

"Mo? Yeah, I'm here. Just lying on some... old bottle caps? Jesus, how long have they been down here? The Fire Department is on their way, I can hear them."

Morgan looked out around the damaged squad room. A huge hole appeared in the near wall, the door between her and the front desk now a pile of tinder. The roof had partially caved in, a number of the structural beams torn and hanging precariously.

"Tell them not to come in here. There are a lot of chunky bits falling down and it looks like the roof's about to collapse. There is a big hunk of the wall missing too."

"Where are the 3 Musketeers?"

Morelli, Fredericks and Lowenstein were infamous in the Fifth, nicknamed the 3 Musketeers because they believed in that "all for one"load of crap. Real pains in the ass, they covered for each other on a regular basis, working tirelessly to undermine Morgan's promotion prospects.

"Can't see them."She sorted through her memories of the night, trying to place where they were. "Son of a bitch..."she muttered.


"Hang on, I'll check."She crawled and tripped over to their desks, feeling the crunch of the fallen plaster under her feet. She found exactly what she expected to find - nothing. "Goddamnit, those....those lousy, worthless jawbreakers aren't even here."

"Calm down, Mo. At least you don't have to save their sorry butts."

"Well, having them owe me would be worth the effort, Joe. Anyway, can you check to see if they were at the party? I'm sure that's where they were."

"Can do."A low voice spoke back to her in soothing tones. "Morgan... don't let it get to you, hear me? The Captain knows what's going on. He knows them and he knows you."

Morgan sighed deeply, "I'm getting tired of those three flakes, Joe."

"I know, honey. I know. Just hang in there."

The sound of distant sirens brought them both back to the present. "Hang on, we'll get you out."

"No you won't, Joe! You hear me? I'll get myself out. You worry about saving yourself."She could hear the movement in the next room as the tall sergeant was climbing over debris. Oh shit! Andy. Andy! Oh God! Andy...

"Andy?"There was no sound and her heart thudded in silent panic. "Andy, are you there?"There was a gentle trickle of dust from the crumbling roof, followed by ominous creaking. "Counsellor... talk to me."Nothing but the groaning of stressed wood could be heard. "Oh God..."

"Andy, where are you? Come on, come on..."Nothing.

Morgan's muscles tensed, her body shifting restlessly with the rush of adrenaline flowing through her. Gingerly, she stepped over broken plasterwork and shattered chairs, slowly picking her way through the debris towards her desk. I loud bang caused her to jump, her eyes flickering behind her to see a large slab of concrete hit the desk she was hiding under.

The heart pounded wildly in her chest, echoing in her head and magnifying the headache. "Andy, please answer me."

"Ohhh... Holy crap in the morning. What the hell happened?"

"A bomb explosion. It looked like a damned atomic fire ball. I dove under a desk. Please tell me you're okay."

"My legs felt like jelly... belly flopped to the floor... now I know what a damned milkshake feels like,"mumbled Andy. But yeah, I'm okay. Just got the wind knocked out of me. How about you?"

Morgan released her pent up breath, not willing to examine why she was worried so much about a woman she had just met. "Just a five-star headache, and the ringing in my ears has developed into it's own little symphony, that's all."She found the ADA curled up under the large desk, large darkened eyes peeking out at her in fright and apprehension. "You don't look alright."Morgan murmured, just before Andy's façade crumbled. "Come here."She gently pulled the smaller woman to her, her arms rubbing soothingly across her wool-covered back.

"Shhhh. Everything will be fine. Don't go all goo goo on me now. We have to get ourselves out of this mess. Everything will be fine."

They sat there quietly for a while, the sound of sirens and raised voices outside counter-pointed by the gentle hiccup of Andy's subsiding tears. Morgan tried to formulate a plan, taking in the shifting plaster and wood and their chances of escape. Alright hero, whatwould Xena do? She had to laugh a bit at herself.

"Is that chuckles I hear?"

"Yeah, I was just thinking what Xena would do at a time like this."Morgan embarrassingly admitted.

"Well, I don't think she had to worry too much about fire engines and the likes of Mikeand Ike trying to rescue them from certain death."

"Hey now, it's not that bad. We're alive and kicking, aren't we?"Morgan made the mistake of looking into her companion's face, so close to those eyes that looked pleadingly to her for a solution. Her hand came up involuntarily and wiped away the shed tears, her thumb remaining there to brush her skin comfortingly. A gentle smile came to her lips. "With a little luck, maybe they will make a marathon of this rescue."

"So..."Andy's voice was barely above a whisper, "... what is Xena's plan here, my white knight?"

"Well, if we rely on those lemonheads out there, we could be here to next pay day. We're sort of betwixt and between. We can't wait here because the roof could go blammo at any moment and we'd be squashed, but moving through all this mess is going to be a rocky road."


"So, Xena says we move. If we make a fast break towards that other door there..."Morgan pointed to the secondary door that led to the Duty Room, "... we can exit that way. It's a little bit further, but a lot less dangerous than the front."Reaching into her desk drawer Morgan retrieved her keys and wallet and made sure her gun was secured to her side before grabbing Andy's hand. "Ready?"

"Lead on then, oh dark-haired one."The tall detective felt that she would forever be known as Xena to her little ADA from now on. Not that she minded, looking over at her sweet Gabrielle.

Morgan took the path of least resistance towards the back door, constantly checking the small woman behind her for any signs of distress. "How are you doing?"

"Just dandy."Andy felt a trickle of warmth pass through her body at the tall woman's concern for her safety, as they moved carefully through the debris in the dark room. Only the reflected light from outside lit their way to their objective, slowing their progress to a slow shuffle.

The rending of wood overhead sent Morgan crashing into Andy, pushing them both to the floor. The detective's body covered the small ADA in a defensive posture, ready to protect her from danger. The building shook with the fallen beam, sending another shower of dust and dirt into the stillness of the room.

"Phhttfft, pah!"Morgan tried to spit out the grit that sat on her tongue and tried to invade her nasal passages. The tiny body lay still beneath her, drawing her attention. "What?"

"I can see the sky."

"Huh?"Morgan turned in the direction Andy was looking and saw the truth. The massive beam had torn a hole in the ceiling, and now snow began to fall in the Squad Room. "Well, that's not something I ever thought I'd see!"Her eyes returned to the woman beneath her. "If you keep staring long enough you'll see the Milky Way."Morgan lost herself in those verdant eyes so close to her. "So..."

"So..."Time stood still as they absorbed the touch of their bodies.

"This must be a dream, or I'm going bananas..."Morgan muttered, mentally shaking her head in dismay.

"Yeah? Then together we must be a fruit salad."Andy felt the rumble vibrate through the large body on top of her, setting off an answering vibration through her own. "Now what?"

"I suppose we get up and move. Christmas, bah humbug!"

"Xena, Warrior Scrooge."

Morgan was enjoying Andy's company very much, despite the situation, finding the small woman had a razor wit that drew out her own cleverly hidden comical streak. Such a sharp intellect would make her a fearsome opponent in the courtroom, and she was glad Andy was on her side of the law.

She tried to shift to take her weight off the small woman, but the move only got her into more trouble, her leg slipping between the Counsellor's and drawing an agonized whimper from the blonde. "You're doing that on purpose."The breathless whisper cracked through her brain as if she had yelled it.

"No, I'm not. If I was going to do something on purpose, I'd do this..."With the gauntlet thrown down, Morgan swooped in on Andy's conveniently placed ear. "Mmmmm... mintie..."


"Oh yeah, it tastes like mint. I always was a sucker for a tasty ear."

"You were not."

"How do you know?"She was slightly miffed that the young woman was questioning her sincerity.

"You always go around tasting strange women's ears?"

What could she say? Momentarily stumped, Morgan fought this battle as only she knew how. Swooping past the blonde's defenses, she claimed those rosy lips, branding them with her fire in a touch that lasted less than the cycle of a breath. She withdrew, awaiting the reaction to her advances, looking deep into those jade orbs for some sign of reciprocation.

Small hands wound into her hair, the dark tresses coming loose from their imprisonment under the busy fingers. Constant pressure brought her lips down for another taste, this time for longer contact and the promise of things to come.

The world disappeared. Breaths mingled... fingers explored... sighs escaped incarnadine lips... and time halted for a heartbeat.

"Aww, fudge!"grumbled Andy.

"I have a chunk of rock or something digging me in the back!"

"Let me look"Andy rolled over for Morgan to inspect the damage. "Nah, it's okay."She soothingly rubbed the abused skin. "It's just red skin. Nothing's broken."

"Damn..."The detective berated herself for letting this get out of hand. Rising unsteadily to her feet, she extended down a helping hand to the ADA. "Come on, let's get out of here before we freeze to death."She could see the uncertainty in the young woman's eyes. "We will continue this later."

Now the small hand that rested in her large palm held a whole new meaning to her. No longer was she the knight in shining armor rescuing a damsel in distress, but Xena rescuing her beloved Gabrielle. There it was again, everything coming around to that damned show. And I bet if Ares existed, he'd be laughing his ass off...

"Yiyiyi."she yodeled quietly.

"Well, I think we've gone right past fruit salad into the whole damn orchard."Andy jovially looked over to the tall woman and chortled.

"Just thinking about tonight, everywhere I turn there's Xena. It's like some damned joke of the cosmos and I'm at the center of it."

"Well, you're not alone."

"Not now."

"No..."those green eyes looked up trustingly into shining blue shards, "... not anymore."

Finally they reached the far door but found it blocked from the other side, probably from the explosion shifting the structural integrity of the building. "Damn."This now left Morgan with only one option. She looked to the ceiling through the dim light but the structure was shrouded in darkness.

Moving to the nearest desk, the tall detective rummaged around in the bottom drawer until her hand rested on what she was looking for. She grabbed the flashlight, catching the corner of the desk and dropping it.


"Yeah, well, it's been a tough night."The beam from the flashlight cut through the gloom to survey the damage above, especially the area they would now have to escape through.

"Ah, hell!"

"What's wrong?"

One long finger pointed to the roof. "See that big, ah, whatchamacallit, hanging down there?"The detective's brain was a bit muddled from the crack on the head, and she paused to collect her thoughts. "The, um, beam,"she muttered, "... yeah, that's it."Morgan felt Andy move her head to rest along her arm so that she could see what the detective was pointing at.

"Yeah, so?"

"So, it's about to break away and bulls eye right on us. You think we can get through before it falls?"

"Do we have a choice?"

"C'mon then."Time was of the essence and standing around discussing it was a few less moments they had to get through safely. Ominous creaking cut through the muted sounds of rescue outside.

"Mo! O'Callaghan, can you hear me?"The loud voice nearly made her jump out of her skin, her heart thumping wildly in reaction.

"Scare the life out of me, will ya..."she muttered. Morgan felt an answering clutch at her hand.

She projected her voice to the outside. "Yeah?"

"What's going on?"

"Well, the Counsellor and I decided to sit down and take a time out to have picnic with some potato salad and Boston Baked Beans. What the hell do you think we're doing?"Morgan looked to Andy. "Frickin' idiots..."

"We're coming in to get you."It was said with an air of finality.

"Ohhhh, that's our cue! Move your pretty butt, woman, before these cracker Jacks get us killed."

With the threat of imminent rescue, the two women increased their efforts to get out, stumbling over fallen brickwork in shoes that were not meant to be used for mountain climbing. Morgan could hear the first faint sounds of their rescuers trying to get in through the heavy double front doors. "Shit! Move it, Gabby... Get a fire under it!"

Above them, the large block of wood gently swayed, the sound of splintering wood gathering momentum. "Now, Counsellor!"Morgan spared a glance upwards, mentally willing the piece to stay put for a moment longer. Nearly there...

"Just hang on Mo!"The large wooden door flung open, hitting the wall of the station. Morgan heard the death rattle of the beam as it finally broke free, falling with amazing speed towards their position. With one arm around the small blonde, the detective threw herself forward through the gaping hole that was once the entrance of the precinct, landing painfully on shattered pieces of wood and stone.

"That's gonna hurt..."she mumbled. "Ohhhhhh yeah, there it is."

She let the pain pass through her, allowing herself to shuffle it to the recesses of her mind. Spotlights swung around the room, casting eerie shards of light on the walls in random patterns, as Morgan looked up at her supposed rescuers. Oh, no friggin' way...

Standing there, bold as brass, was Morelli, Fredericks and Lowenstein. "Come to save your ass again, O'Callaghan."Morgan bit her tongue and said nothing, begging the heavens to take her now. She figured by now, Ares, Aphrodite, Zeus and the whole gang were it fits of laughter at this sorry sight. Oh, and the horse would probably disown her as well.

"You alright?"Morgan looked over to the young woman next to her.


"Sorry about that. I had no time to arrange a soft landing."The room was filling rapidly with men, all intent on being the hero in the rescue. Andy looked up at Morgan and could see her slowly withdrawing back into the persona of the New York Detective Sergeant. You did Xena proud, Morgan.

She watched as the tall woman stood up and brushed herself off, knowing very well that she took the brunt of the fall for the both of them. She was hurting and Andy knew it, but she was sucking it up in front of her co-workers. Oh yeah, my Warrior Princess.

Morgan lent a hand to help Andy to her feet. Blue and green eyes passed a silent understanding while utter chaos reigned around them, and both understood that this would not be forgotten.

"Hellooooo?"A muffled banging drew the detective's attention, and she moved over to the restroom door.

"Hey guys! Give me a hand here."Shifting the block of stone that blocked the door, Morgan opened it to find two disheveled Amazons. "Hey, Ephiny. What are you doing here?"The pleading look for the curly-haired woman answered her question. "Oh, yeah. Bad timing, huh? C'mon, it's over now."

As the two women passed her by, their leather costumes sadly tattered and torn, she tried very hard to hold a snicker back, receiving a disapproving glance from Andy. "I can't help it. Talk about half-naked Amazons. They would have been a big hit on the show if they dressed like that."Andy's scowl melted under the image that Morgan wove in her imagination.

As if to reinforce that image, sounds of catcalls and lewd remarks reached her ears as the poor women ran the gauntlet of testosterone-filled police officers standing between them and freedom. Andy felt a large hand on her shoulder, and a quiet voice close to her ear. "Look... ah... "

"No, you don't need to explain. I understand."The young woman could feel the withdrawal like a warm hand around her heart being taken away, leaving a cold emptiness in its place.

"Nooooo, I don't think you do."Andy's eyes swiveled up to the shadow-filled face hovering over her. "I think we need to clean up and get warm. Would.... ah... " Morgan found her words fail her.

"Yes...?"Andy's voice softened, saying more to the tall detective than if she had shouted it to the heavens.

This moment of time that was theirs alone was fast closing, the other officers having now found them and were moving in quickly. "Would you join me for a drink?"

"Something decent to drink?"

"Oh yeah, very good and plenty of it."


"My place."



The Captain approached and addressed Morgan, "Your actions tonight were exemplary, O'Callaghan. I'm putting you in for a recommendation. Come and see me in a couple of days and we'll get the paperwork underway and discuss your promotion."

"Yes, sir. Thank you sir."Morgan glanced sideways at the 3 Musketeers, gleefully watching their crestfallen faces.

Morelli chimed in. "And us, Captain?"

"Ah yes, you three. Come and see me the day after tomorrow, 9 a.m. sharp..."Eyes shone with the thought of a reward for their actions. "...for disciplinary action."

"What did we do?"

"What didn't you do? Off the top of my head is dereliction of duty. You three were supposed to be on duty tonight. Where were you?"

"Awwww, come on, Captain. It was the Christmas party. O'Callaghan had it covered."

"Precisely, and that's why she's getting the promotion and you morons are not."

The two women walked away, leaving the men to sort out their differences. Morgan felt a bit light-headed with all that had happened. While neither of them touched the other, presenting to the world an air of casual indifference, both of them knew the deeper meaning discovered in the darkness of that broken room on a dirty floor. And a hell of a lot quicker than their TV counterparts too.

They emerged from the building to a street full of fire engines, ambulances and TV crews. Waving off the noisy reporters, Morgan led Andy over to the EMTs to get checked out. She found a couple of hot coffees for them while they were fussed over, finally allowed to go only after Morgan threatened them with physical violence.

Hailing a taxi, she held the door open to the smaller woman. "Madame,"she murmured, bringing a smile to Andy's face.

"Thank you... Xena."Giggling, she just couldn't help getting in one more jibe.

"Yo, Detective. Xena!"

"Hey, Eph. On your way home?"

"Finally. It's been a long night."
"Tell me about it."

"So you and Gab battling on, eh?"The two Amazons giggled with glee.

"Just escorting the lady home, Eph."
"Sure, if that's what you want to call it."

Morgan cast a glance around, hoping no one put the pieces together. "Hey, get outta here, both of ya. I'll be in touch with you later, okay?"

"Good. Have a Merry Christmas you two."

"You too, girl. Now go on and find your Amazon tribe. Happy Solstice."

"Ha. Good one. Good night."

With that, Morgan climbed into the waiting Yellow Cab, settling back into the seat as the aches and pains of the night overtook her.

"I don't have to come over tonight... if you don't feel like it. If you want to give this drink a miss... "Andy tried to keep the disappointment out of her voice as she looked in exhausted blue eyes.

"You're kidding, right? I'd have to be dead a week to miss that."Morgan enveloped the warm hand of the Counsellor in her own. Andy snuggled closer as the taxi moved off.

Ephiny grinned as she watched the vehicle pull away from the curb, seeing two heads leaning together, dark and light, through the back window.

"Happy Solstice, Xena and Gabrielle..."


Candies used:

1. Kiss or Kisses

2. Hugs

3. Snickers

4. Chuckles

5. Treasures

6. Mounds

7. Butterfinger

8. 100 Grand

9. Crunch

10. Symphony

11. M & M

12. Fast Break

13. Nerds

14. Runts

15. Chunky

16. 5th Avenue

17. Goobers

18. Milky Way

19. Lifesaver

20. Pay Day

21. Zero

22. Sugar Daddy

23. Oh Henry!

24. Baby Ruth

25. 3 Musketeers

26. Goo Goo

27. Bit-O-Honey

28. MARS

29. Smarties

30. Sweet Tarts

31. Peeps

32. Blammo

33. Lemonheads

34. Jelly Belly

35. Twix

36. Dove

37. Atomic Fire Balls

38. Bazooka

39. Boston Baked Beans

40. Bottle Caps

41. Bulls Eye

42. Cracker Jack

43. Mike and Ike

44. Marathon

45. Jawbreakers

46. Hot Tamales

47. Good and Plenty

48. Sky

49. Spree

50. After Eight

51. Breakaway

52. Five Star

53. Galaxy

54. Milkshake

55. Time Out

56. Whatchamacallit

57. Slow Poke

58. Take 5

59. Airhead

60. Big Hunk

61. Rocky Road

62. White Knight*

63. Dream*

64. Bananas*

65. Humbug*

66. Sucker

67. Fudge

68. Flake*

69. Redskin*

70. Picnic*

71. Mintie*

*Australian candy


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