Disclaimer: I have intended no copyright infringement in the writing of this fan fiction story that contains characters, names, title, and backstory found in the syndicated television series Xena: Warrior Princess, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and The L Word.
This story cannot be sold or used for profit, and I have not financially profited from it in any way. Copies of this story may be made for private use, and all copies must include all disclaimers and copyright notices.
Content: This story depicts love/sexual relationships between consenting adult women. If you are under 18 years of age or if this type of story is illegal where you live, please do not read it. If depictions of sex, attraction, and/or love between adult women offends you, you might not want to read this story This story contains swearing and depictions of adults using marijuana.
All I Want For Solstice
by Annazon Fox
Angelica Porter-Kennard sat in her mother's lap on the floor of their large home. It was Christmas Eve, and her moms have agreed to let her open one present. Around the tall Christmas Tree, beautifully-decorated with crimson velvet ribbon, glass balls, and white lights, sat an assortment of presents from family and friends.
Eyes bright, Angelica toddled over from where her mothers sat against the sofa and made her way to the presents. After considering the brightly-colored boxes for a few seconds, she pointed to one about the size of a toaster.
"At one!" she said, pointing.
"That one!?" echoed Tina. Tina rose to her knees and inspected the package.
"It's from Mama B," she said, and then scooted the present closer to Angelica, who began tearing away at the wrapping.
"Bette, what did you get her?" Tina said, whispering.
"Something I picked up this afternoon..." Bette said, watching their daughter.
After tearing the paper away, Angelica opened the box. She gave a pleased gurgle and tipped the box upside down. Five small dolls spilled out of it.
"What are they?" Tina asked, taking a closer look.
Angelica smiled with delight, picked up two of the dolls, and began making them walk around in front of her.
"The Museum of Pop Culture just ended a run on cult television shows. I made a call to the curator of the museum, Victor Oscar-Meyer, to see if he could give me anything," Bette said.
Tina picked up one of the dolls. "Is this.... a Xena doll?" she asked.
"Isn't it great? It's a collector's edition. They all are. I have the certificates of authenticity in our safety deposit box, Angelica will really appreciate having these one day," Bette said. "Xena is a lesbian and feminist icon," she continued and, picking up a blonde-haired doll, said "Her relationship with Gabrielle was-"
"What?" Tina interrupted. "Were they even lesbians? What are these other dolls?"
"One of the most prominent lesbian couples ever to be depicted on a television show. Willow Rosenberg and Tara Maclay, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer," Bette said. "And this one is Buffy Summers," she added, picking up a pony-tailed doll with a stake in its hand.
"Buffy the Vampire Slayer?" Tina asked, shaking her head. "Babe, I thought we weren't going to buy Angelica toys that condoned violence," she continued.
"I know we agreed on that, but these are strong women," Bette said, "some of whom also happen to be lesbians."
"Babe, I dunno..." Tina began, shaking her head. "I wish you would have talked to me about this first. It's a decision we should have made together."
"Tina, today's media representations of strong women have seriously regressed. Would you rather our daughter grow up wanting to be the pathetic Bella Swan or the heroic Buffy Summers? Besides, I think we can overlook the violence since these characters bring visibility to the lesbian identity," Bette argued.
"So, you're saying these dolls will help normalize our family?" Tina asked, with doubt.
"Yes, I think they will," Bette said.
Tina picked up the Xena doll and examined its outfit and weaponry. She gave a little laugh.
"Dollies!" Angelica said, smiling.
"Bette, I know you wrote an essay in grad school on the advantages of non-normative family life as represented in Xena: Warrior Princess, but I fail to see how these dolls will help Angelica relate to our family. We're a real family, not... characters on some defunct television franchise," Tina said. She let the Xena doll fall from her hand and onto the ground. Its chakram fell from the doll's body.
Angelica followed its motion with her eyes and crawled toward the dolls. Her moms had that tone of voice again that meant they were going to be talking to each other for awhile.
Bette shook her head and dropped the Buffy and Gabrielle dolls to the floor. She rose and said, "For once, I'd like to get through one holiday season without having an argument like this." She stormed out of the room.
"Bette, come back here," Tina urged. When Bette did not return, Tina followed her into the bedroom where they resumed their conversation.
Angelica, meanwhile, remained sitting under the Christmas tree with her new toys. She picked up the Xena and Willow dolls and, giggling, made them dance together. After a few minutes of playing, she stopped. Tilting her head, the child listened for her moms' voices. She still heard them talking to one another in the other room. She looked back down at the two dolls in her hands and held them face to face.
"Mama, ack here!" Angelica said, making the Willow doll speak to the Xena doll. She then made the dolls hug.
She looked around and placed both dolls under one arm, wondering when she was going to get to go to bed. She saw another doll, the pony-tailed one holding a wooden stake in its hand. Angelica's eyes widened. Smiling she picked up that doll too. With a yawn, she then stretched her arms and legs and waddled over to the sofa. Crawling up it, she hugged her dolls to her chest and laid down. While her mothers argued in the next room, Angelica slept.
Standing outside the hotel suite in Quebec, Willow Rosenberg took a deep breath, swiped her key card, and entered the room. She walked into the common area and saw her best friend, Buffy Summers, stretching on a mat on the floor.
"Hey," Willow said. She hurried to her room without stopping to chat. With a sigh, she left herself fall backwards onto her bed, fully clothed.
"Soooo," Buffy said, appearing in the doorway. Damn slayers and their sneaky steps. "How was it?"
"Oh," Willow said, sitting up. "It was... okay."
"Just 'okay'?" Buffy said. "No hotties then?"
"I don't know Buffy. Maybe I'm just not ready. Besides, they were boring. They say they're a lesbian Wicca group, but it's the night before Solstice and all they wanted to do was sing. That's not really my forte when it comes to the witchy stuff."
Buffy made a face. "Ugh," she said, in sympathy.
"I know," Willow said. "I should have stayed here with you tonight. Has the potential slayer come by yet?"
"It's okay. I wanted you to go and… meet people," Buffy said, placing a hand on Willow's arm. "I just want you to be happy again."
Willow nodded. "I know, Buff. And I will be. I just don't want to force anything. Like with Kennedy. Honestly, I'd rather be a nerd with you and watch sappy Christmas movies tonight."
"Gee," said Buffy, "thanks."
"That came out wrong," Willow said, shaking her head.
"It's okay. I'll make the popcorn. You can pretend not to think about your dead girlfriend and I'll pretend not to think about my general suckiness at relationships."
They heard a knock at the door. Buffy looked at her watch. "After we see what this potential is about. That's probably her, at the door," she said.
Buffy and Willow walked through Willow's room and into the common area of their hotel suite. Willow peeked through the peephole of the door to the exterior and saw a beautiful, busty, blonde woman wearing a mini-skirt and heels in the hallway.
"O-kay," Willow said. "Someone’s a little under-dressed for a Canadian winter."
She opened the door. Buffy and Willow were immediately hit with a whiff of a peppermint-bubblegum combination smell.
"You must be... Aphrodite," Buffy said, assessing her.
"Duh!" Aphrodite said, offended. She walked past Buffy and Willow and entered their suite. "Nice digs, ladies" she said, twirling around the hotel suite.
"Hey come on in," Buffy said, sarcastically. Under her breath, the slayer muttered, "I'm getting too old for this."
"Aphrodite?" Willow said quietly to Buffy, suppressing a grin at the potential's moniker.
Willow extended a hand to Aphrodite. "I'm-"
"Willow Rosenberg and Buffy Summers," Aphrodite finished, accepting Willow's hand. "I know who you are." She held onto Willow's hand and looked into her eyes just long enough to make Willow blush and look away.
"So, you think you're a slayer?" Buffy asked.
"Oh," Aphrodite said, as if remembering her purpose for being there. "Totally!"
"Alright," Buffy said. "We have an easy way to determine this. Spar me."
"As if!" Aphrodite said, putting a manicured hand to her chest.
Willow snorted and Buffy shot her a glare.
"Either way, I won't hurt you," Buffy said.
"Oh," Aphrodite said, "That's so sweet."
Willow walked over to the coffee table in the common area in which they were standing and pushed it toward the wall to make more room. Buffy pulled her hair back into a ponytail. Aphrodite fluffed her hair.
In the makeshift sparring ring, Buffy and Aphrodite faced off. Buffy stepped back into a fighter stance with her guard up. Aphrodite did the same, in her heels. As Willow watched on from a corner, Buffy began circling Aphrodite. The slayer threw a slow first jab, just in case. Willow was surprised to see Aphrodite end up behind Buffy and give a tug on the slayer's ponytail.
"Hey!" Buffy said. Speeding up her movements, she gave a swift roundhouse kick toward Aphrodite, who easily blocked it with her weak-looking arms. Buffy executed a front jump kick, which Aphrodite easily evaded.
"Alright," Buffy said, stopping the fight. "Looks like we have ourselves another slayer." She turned to Willow. "Will, can you get your computer and let Xander know? We can put her in the North American squad."
As Buffy said this, Willow noticed Aphrodite reaching into her bosom and pulling out a small pouch.
"Buf-" Willow said. Buffy quickly turned back around to face Aphrodite and was met with powder that was being blown into her face. Coughing, she fell backwards, unconscious.
"Buffy," Willow yelled. "Hey!" As Aphrodite walked over to her, the witch began thinking of a counter-spell.
"Relax little one," Aphrodite said.
Willow backed up. Her back hit the wall behind her. Distracted by Aphrodite's approaching mouth, Willow forgot the words to her spell. She could only stare, transfixed, at red lips beginning to pucker. Aphrodite brought her hand to her mouth and blew the powder toward Willow. Willow sneezed once and then slid down the wall.
Aphrodite brushed herself off and then walked over to Willow. Lowering herself, she wiped locks of red hair away from the witch's face. As she admired Willow, the Goddess of Love heard a pop and watched as both Buffy and Willow began to fade and then altogether disappeared.
"Oh! My bad?" she said, to an empty room and stomped her foot.
Sitting at her throne, Gabrielle tried desperately to keep her eyes open during the end of the Solstice Festival. The Amazonian choir had insisted on performing one last encore for her. Honestly, she had had too much ale and just wanted to retire to her chambers. Nonetheless, she smiled through the performance as the women attempted to impress her.
After Gabrielle had returned from Japa, alone and in mourning, some of her Amazon subjects were desperate to find, or become, her new companion. Most of them respected that, even in death, Xena remained the Queen's soul mate and so left her alone. A few bold Amazons, however, let it be known that they were hers for the taking. After all, a woman had needs, she would hear them whisper.
And yes, a woman did. That's what nights alone in the hot tub were for. Like last nigh-
"Queen Gabrielle, wasn't it great?" asked Eponin, who was standing guard at her side.
Gabrielle jerked. The Amazons had finished their singing and were staring at her expectantly.
"Riveting," she said, smiling.
Gabrielle rose to address the gathered women.
"Thank you all for a beautiful performance. We'll gather here again at dawn, to welcome the sun." She bid her Amazons good night and stepped down from her throne.
As usual, Eponin escorted Gabrielle to the Queen's tent.
"The preparations have been made for tomorrow's feast?" Gabrielle asked, as they walked.
"Yes, my Queen," Eponin said.
They continued walking, in silence. As they did, Gabrielle felt the Weapon Master stealing glances at her. Gabrielle made a mental note to have a talk with Eponin after the holiday. She understood why the Weapon Master would long for something more between them. Gabrielle had, after all, cried on Eponin's shoulder many nights after returning from Japa. In some respects, she had probably led her on. A friendly kiss on the cheek here, a caressing hand there. As a Queen, she was beginning to understand that she had to be careful when it came to these things. She couldn't string along one of her subjects if her heart wasn't in it. But still. Eponin was a good woman, attractive and competent. In some ways, she reminded Gabrielle of Xena.
Once they reached the door, both women hesitated.
"I," Eponin began, "can stay..."
"To guard your tent."
"Pony," Gabrielle said, pulling her in for an embrace. "Please. Go to bed. I'll be fine."
Eponin surrendered briefly to her Queen's touch before slowly pulling away, grazing her lips across Gabrielle's cheek. Gabrielle enjoyed the warmth. Her heart skipped when Eponin stopped just inches from her mouth. So close. It would be so easy. Gabrielle swallowed, kissed Eponin on the corner of the mouth, and then quickly pulled away before she changed her mind.
"Good night, Eponin," Gabrielle said, backing up and avoiding eye contact. "Happy Solstice."
"Good night then, my Queen." Eponin walked away.
Gabrielle walked into her tent and lit a candle, taking a deep breath. In the soft glow of the light, she began removing her ceremonial regalia. Solstice was one of the most revered celebrations among the Amazons and she had wanted to make it perfect for her devoted warriors. As drained as she felt, she needed release. After the long day and night, she missed Xena's strong hands massaging her back. She made a mental note to visit the spa tent tomorrow.
The bard walked to her small desk and considered writing. She shook her head and decided instead to try to go to sleep. Stepping out of her skirt, she raised her arms and lifted her top off her body. The night air was chilly. She prepared to jump into her soft, warm bed. Before she could, she felt a hand at her mouth.
Frightened, Gabrielle drew her hands up and found that the hand at her mouth was attached to a rather slender, but very strong arm. A woman's arm.
"Relax," the voice said. It was definitely a woman's voice.
Gabrielle struggled to break free, but found herself unable to pry herself loose from the woman's incredibly strong arms.
"Please. Don't scream. I'm not going to hurt you," the woman said.
Gabrielle heard sincerity in the woman's voice and let her body relax somewhat. The woman removed her hand from Gabrielle's mouth.
"How did you get in here? Who are you?" Gabrielle said. She tried to turn to look at the woman, but couldn’t. She was so strong. Gabrielle only knew one other woman with that kind of strength.
"Some might call me a Solstice Spirit," the woman said. "You can call me Victoria."
Despite the chill in the air, Gabrielle's naked body was flushed. On guard. Ready.
"Victoria," Gabrielle said. "What do you want?"
One scream, she knew, and hundreds of Amazon warriors would beat down her door to save their beloved Queen. Still, Gabrielle felt the woman move closer. When the woman spoke again, Gabrielle felt warm breath against her neck.
"Actually, tonight is more about what you want..."
The woman seemed to pause, as if waiting for Gabrielle to make some sort of next move.
"What I want?" Gabrielle whispered. Her body relaxed slightly into the woman’s.
"Yes," the voice said.
Gabrielle's hands, at the woman's arms, searched instead for the woman's hands. They were strong, yet soft. The bard felt the woman behind her relax her grip.
"I can give you," the voice continued, "what you want. If you ask."
Gabrielle leaned her head back against the woman's chest. She wanted to believe. She knew it wasn't Xena, but would it be wrong to pretend? She closed her eyes and turned her head up towards the woman's mouth.
The woman inhaled sharply.
Feeling bold, Gabrielle moved the woman's hands to her naked torso.
The woman's hands began softly exploring Gabrielle's skin.
"What is it," the woman whispered, "that you want?"
To be touched again. It was bliss. Gabrielle moaned.
"Gods..." Gabrielle whispered. "Xena."
The woman softly touched her lips to Gabrielle's neck. Fingers were at Gabrielle's nipples, lightly pulling.
"Tell me," said the woman.
"You know what I want," Gabrielle said, angry and aroused.
Gabrielle pushed one of the woman's hands down her torso, stopping just past her belly-button.
"So be it," the woman said.
Angelica Porter-Kennard woke up and found that she had somehow ended up in her own room, in her bed. Three of her dolls were with her.
"Dollies!" she whispered at them.
Her hands searched around her pillow and then under her covers to feel if the other dolls were with her as well. The toddler was sad to find that they weren't. She thought they should all be together. So, piling her Willow, Buffy, and Xena dolls on top of each other and, leaving them behind, Angelica crawled out of her bed and went to retrieve her Gabrielle and Tara dolls from under the tree.
In the darkness and silence of the house, the toddler crawled past her parents' bedroom, where they were sleeping, and made her way back to the Christmas Tree. Under the lights of the tree, she saw the two dolls lying on the floor where she had left them. Happy, she scooped them up and hugged them to her chest. The large grandfather clock gave a loud gong, startling her. It gonged twelve times.
Angelica yawned and rubbed at her eyes. Maybe she could rest here under the warm, cozy white lights of the Christmas Tree before making it back to her bed, she thought. Putting a thumb in her mouth, she rested her head on a soft present under the tree and fell asleep.
Angelica slept under the tree restlessly. She woke up with a jolt and, lying on her back, felt disoriented by the white lights above her. Had she fallen asleep outside, under the stars? No, she remembered, it was just the Christmas Tree. With her eyes open, she brought her hands in front of her eyes. She had the sense that she was incredibly small and, with a fright, felt as though she were getting smaller or that the tree was growing much larger. The lights seemed to get farther away from her, almost as though they really were stars.
She sat up quickly and looked over at the couch. It had grown incredibly large. She turned her head the other way and saw an enormous gift-wrapped present. The red bow that topped the gift was larger than her. Scared, she began to cry.
"Mama!" Angelica cried. Then, she heard a noise. Or, rather two noises. The sounds of two women, speaking. From behind her, she turned and saw two figures walking toward her.
"Mamas!" Angelica said, grateful. She held out her arms to them. As they walked closer and into the white lights of the Christmas Tree, she saw that they weren't her mothers at all. Yet, they were familiar to her, nonetheless.
"Dollies!" she said.
Willow Rosenberg began to stir. She smiled as she snuggled into the warm body on which she was lying. Arms were holding her in a warm, protective embrace. The hands resting on her back began slowly traveling down her body until they rested on her lower back. The hands began rubbing.
"Well good morning to you too," Willow said, sleepily.
Eyes still closed, Willow ran her hands over the body beneath her. The very muscular body that was, oddly, covered in leather and armor. Her eyes popped open.
Willow found herself face to breastplate with a woman who she did not at all know with no idea how she got there. After briefly appreciating the well-endowed breasts on which she was resting, her eyes traveled upward. The woman beneath her was quite striking; although her eyes were closed, she was smiling in her sleep.
Willow then heard a contented moan that did not seem to have come from this breast-platey woman. From her side, Willow slightly raised her head and peered over the woman's armor. In the woman's other arm, in a protective embrace, Willow saw her best friend, Buffy Summers, also asleep and also smiling. Willow gulped. This was certainly an awkward, unusual situation.
"Buffy," Willow whispered, panicked.
Buffy moaned and snuggled deeper into the breast-platey woman's body.
The breast-platey woman slightly opened her eyes, bent her head down, and kissed the top of Buffy's blonde head. Buffy snuggled in even more.
"Buffy. Summers," Willow whispered, horrified.
At this, the breast-platey woman opened one eye and turned her head toward Willow. Upon seeing the red-head, the woman's other eye quickly popped open. Willow's heart began to race.
"Uh...Hi?" Willow said in a small voice.
"You're not Gabrielle," the breast-platey said, in an accusatory tone.
"Neither is she, breasty woman," Willow countered, pointing at Buffy. Willow immediately felt her cheeks redden. Breasty woman? Good one, Rosenberg.
Xena turned her head and examined Buffy with an arched and amused brow.
"Gabrielle," the breast-platey woman said, shaking Buffy.
"Mmm, who's Gabrielle?" Buffy said, slowly opening her eyes. "Oh, hey Will." She closed her eyes for a couple of seconds.
Buffy's eyes popped back open.
"Will? Why are you in my bed?" Buffy asked. She then began to feel her "mattress." Slowly, her eyes moved up a leather-clad body, rested briefly on the woman's bosom, and then met startling blue eyes looking at her with amusement.
"Oh," Buffy said, "Hi there."
"Hi," the breast-platey woman said.
Willow felt pressure on her bottom.
"Ack! Hands, hands!" the red-head suddenly yelped.
"Gah!" Buffy said, echoing the sentiment and bolting upright.
The three women stood and began straightening out their disheveled clothing.
"Is Gabrielle here?" the breast-platey woman asked.
"Who's Gabrielle?" Willow said.
"My... my friend."
"Oh, is she in the group?" Willow asked, lighting up.
"What group?" said the breast-platey woman.
"The lesbian Wicca group," Willow said. "I... I was just there... and now, I'm here."
"Yes," Willow said, steeling herself. "Is that a problem?"
"No. I'm Greek too," breast-platey woman said. "Xena, of Amphipolis," she continued, holding out her hand.
"I'm Willow Rosenberg... of Sunnydale," she said, tentatively reaching out her hand. Xena surprised Willow by gripping her arm in a strong warrior's salute and vigorously shaking. When the warrior released Willow's arm, Willow had to shake her arm up and down to get the blood pumping back into it.
"Greek!" Willow said, once she could feel her hand again. "Well kalimera! I must say, your English is impeccable." She knew that Amphipolis was a city in ancient Greece that no longer existed.
"What in Zeus' name is English?" Xena asked.
"It's what we speak in A-mer-i-ca," said Buffy, taking particular care to enunciate slowly and loudly.
"I said Greek, not deaf," Xena said. She rolled her eyes.
"I'm Buffy," said Buffy, holding out her hand.
"Buffy..." Xena began, gripping the slayer's forearm. The warrior looked surprised when Buffy's arm did not move quite as easily as Willow's. "Nice to meet you," Xena finished.
Willow looked down at herself and saw that she was wearing her long, beige dress that she had worn on that day when everyone in Sunnydale sang and danced. She had made, okay conjured up, the dress herself, yet today she felt a tag scratching the back of her neck. She pulled at it, annoyed.
"Buffy, will you get this?" Willow asked, holding the tag at the back of her neck.
"I got it," Xena said, seeing Willow struggling. She drew her sword and walked over to Willow, whose eyes grew very large.
"Whoa there Tall, Dark and Stabby. Back off," Buffy said, moving in front of Willow.
"Relax," Xena said.
Buffy stepped aside, but remained alert.
Xena walked past Buffy and, easily flipping Willow around, sliced the tag out of Willow's dress and handed it to her in one swift motion.
Willow swallowed. "Oh," she said, once she found her voice again, "thanks."
She then looked at the tag and handed it to Buffy.
"Made in America," Buffy read.
"What's America?" Xena asked.
"It's where we live. We're Americans. Like how you're Amphibian," Buffy explained.
"Amphipolis," Willow corrected.
"I'm not," Xena said.
"But, you just said-" Willow started.
"I'm dead," Xena said. She turned away.
Tara MaClay felt pressure and opened her eyes. Not used to feeling much of anything, she was quite startled to feel the weight of another body on hers. Judging by the softness in certain places, the person seemed to be a woman. That wasn't so scary. She looked down and saw an attractive blonde woman, writhing on top of her. That was even less scary.
"Xena..." the woman moaned into Tara's neck.
The woman's hands were at Tara's head, pulling her face toward her own. The woman was going to kiss her. Stunned, Tara let her. It was not unpleasant. When their lips met, it was soft at first. It quickly became more urgent as the woman used her tongue to open Tara's mouth wider.
While it was nice, Tara also knew that it was... strange. She put her hands on the woman's shoulders and pushed her away. The woman let herself be pushed away and opened her eyes.
Startled green eyes met startled green.
"Oh my gods!" the woman said. She rose to her knees with a hand to her mouth.
Tara sat up and backed away slightly. She looked down at herself and noticed that she was wearing the green dress she wore on the day that she sang to Willow. She looked at the woman and saw that she, too, was looking at her clothes. The woman then looked at her.
"Are you... Victoria?" the woman asked.
"N-no. My name's Tara. I'm sorry. I don't know what I'm doing here."
The woman eyed her and then nodded.
"I'm Gabrielle," she said. "Where are we?"
"I'm not sure."
"I... I'm sorry," Gabrielle said. "I thought you were... someone else."
"It's okay," Tara said. She looked away. "This is very confusing."
Tara heard a noise.
"Do you hear that?" she asked her companion, tilting her head.
"Crying," Gabrielle answered. "A child. Come on!"
The two women began walking toward the sound of crying.
As Gabrielle walked slightly ahead, Tara looked at her with curiosity. Despite the bizarre circumstances, Gabrielle's aura had a warmth to it. She didn't know why she was here or if this was some sort of hell dimension, but being with Gabrielle made her feel safe. She sensed a goodness within her. And, judging by the woman's muscular build and warrior garb, she looked capable of defending them, if it came to that.
Gabrielle looked at Tara. Caught staring, Tara blushed and looked away.
"It'll be okay," Gabrielle said, placing a reassuring hand on Tara's shoulder.
Tara smiled and looked into Gabrielle's eyes. Green, were they? Gabrielle smiled, face slightly flushed, and looked ahead. A short while later they found the source of the crying. They saw the outline of a small girl with her arms stretched toward them.
"Mamas!" the girl said.
Gabrielle and Tara looked at each other. Tara thought she saw a slight blush creep into Gabrielle's cheeks. Gabrielle quickly looked away and picked up her pace.
"Come on, she's crying," Gabrielle said.
The girl saw the two women and stopped crying.
"Dollies!" she said and smiled.
"Hi there," Tara said. Angelica reached her arms up toward the women. Bending down, Tara lifted Angelica and began rocking her. "What's your name, honey?" she said.
"Jelita" Angelica tried to answer. Gabrielle shrugged.
"How about we call you Juliet for now, sweetie?" Tara said, continuing to rock Angelica.
Angelica giggled and repeated, "Jelita!"
"Someone must have just left her out here," Gabrielle said. "It's okay. I'll take her back to the Amazons to be raised." She then began looking up at the sky.
"Tara," she said, "do you recognize any of these stars?"
Tara looked up and smiled. She inhaled and smelled pine.
"Gabrielle..." Tara began, "I-I don't think we're outside."
"No, we are. Don't you smell the trees? If I could just find Polaris, I can figure out how to get back-"
"Gabrielle," Tara interrupted, "We're under a Christmas Tree."
"A- a Christmas Tree."
"A Christmas Tree?" Gabrielle asked.
"Followers of Eli put up a tree each year in December in celebration of his birth..." Tara said.
"You mean a Saturnalia Tree?" Gabrielle said. "Besides, Eli wasn't born in December. His birthday's in November," she continued, with a laugh. "Everybody knows that."
"S- Saturnalia?" Tara said. This was strange, she thought. How does one live in America and know what Saturnalia is but not Christmas?
"During Winter Solstice, when the sun is-" Gabrielle began.
"I- I know," Tara said, "I'm Wiccan."
Gabrielle only looked at her.
"I mean...I was," Tara said.
"Cha-lie!" Angelica said, giggling, in Tara's arms. The two women looked at her.
"Charlie?" Tara said. "Who's Charlie, sweetie? Is that your papa?"
"Cha-lie! Kitty!" Angelica repeated and pointed at something behind Tara's shoulders.
Before she turned, Tara felt the presence. Slowly, she and Gabrielle followed where Angelica's finger was pointing and found themselves staring into the green eyes of a very large cat.
"Fuc-" Tara began to swear, and then looking down at the toddler in her arms, finished with a different word "-xtrot. Foxtrot." Tara smiled weakly, gulped, and found herself stuck in place.
The cat hissed, baring white fangs and smelly cat food breath. It raised a paw and took a swipe at Tara and Angelica, Tara fell backwards but not before the cat's claw caught her dress and ripped a strand from it.
"RUN!" Gabrielle screamed. She helped Tara up, grabbed her arm, and the two women began sprinting for cover. As they ran, the cat pounced and ended up in front of them. Again, it raised a paw as if to slap them.
"Tara, get you and Juliet out of here!" Gabrielle screamed, pushing Tara away.
Tara ran and took cover behind a large slipper and watched as Gabrielle reached into her boots and drew two small weapons. The cat slapped at Gabriell. Gabrielle leaped over the cat's paw, landed with a roll, and ended up on her feet. She sprinted to the cat's backside and gave it a little poke with a sai. It cried and then turned on Gabrielle, raising another paw as if to slap her.
Gabrielle opened her mouth and screamed as loud as she could, "RAAHHHHHHHHHH!"
The cat stood frozen with a paw in the air, considered Gabrielle for a few seconds, and scampered away with a frightened growl. Gabrielle turned and ran the other way.
"Tara!" Gabrielle yelled, searching for her new friend.
"Gabrielle, over here!" Tara yelled.
Gabrielle ran towards Tara and, reaching her, dropped her hands to her knees as the reality of what she had faced set in.
"Gods, what was that thing?" Gabrielle said, catching her breath.
"I- I think it was a cat," Tara said. "That was amazing, Gabrielle. Are you a slayer too?"
"Oh, I don't usually... 'slay' things. Only if it's absolutely necessary," Gabrielle said.
"Oh," Tara said. Then, she noticed Gabrielle looking at her shoulder.
"Your shirt," Gabrielle said, reaching out to touch the strand of tattered fabric that was flowing from Tara's dress.
Those two words. Two words that took Tara back to that day, upstairs, with Willow.
They had just made up. Buffy and Xander were in the yard, below. From behind her, she heard a loud bang and the crashing of glass. Then, silence. Whatever it was, it had splattered onto Willow's white shirt.
"Your shirt," Tara said.
The last color she saw was red. How it contrasted with the white. And then, darkness.
Before she had died, Tara always imagined that her last moment would be profound. She thought she would know it was coming. Instead, it was ordinary. Petty perhaps. She had used her last three words on Earth to express concern over her girlfriend's dirty, red-stained shirt.
"Tara? What is it?" Gabrielle asked.
"I- I don't know why I'm here," Tara said. She felt tears begin to burn her eyes.
"I don't know either, Tara. I don't understand this," Gabrielle said, looking around at the surroundings. "We should get out of here though," she continued, pointing to the large piece of footwear that Tara was standing in with the child, "I think giants are nearby."
Tara looked around. Giants? Why not? It wasn't entirely improbable, given some of the demons she encountered in Sunnydale.
"Gabrielle, you're right," Tara began, "I-I think we are in their home. Their very... fancy home." Tara then began pointing, "They have a Christmas Tree with presents. Look, over there is their leather sofa. And, and there is their coffee table with some sort of vase like from India on it. You know, on second thought, we might be in a museum. But then, here is somebody's slipper," she ended, pointing down at the slipper she was standing in.
As she was pointing out different objects, Tara noticed that Gabrielle's eyes had fixed on something in the distance. She followed Gabrielle's gaze and saw that some sort of small object was on the floor, reflecting the light from the Christmas Tree.
"Wait a minute," Gabrielle said. She ran over to the item.
"What is it, Gabrielle?" Tara asked.
"A chakram. We may be in a giant's home. But I... I think Xena is here."
Tara then heard the squeak of a door and hushed voices that, to her, sounded incredibly loud. From the slipper, she looked up and saw an enormous blonde head peaking into the living room from outside the front door.
"Gabrielle, the giants!" Tara whispered. The floor slightly shook as not one, but three, giants entered the living room.
"What was that?" Xena said, hearing a door shut and, then, the sound of voices. Xena, Willow, and Buffy were still standing on Angelica's bed, contemplating their strange situation.
"What was what?" Willow asked.
"No, I heard it too," Buffy said, turning her head toward the door of Angelica's bedroom.
"Come on, I'll lead the way," Xena said. As she began walking, she said, "we need answers."
Buffy shrugged and began walking toward the edge as well. Willow followed suit. They all came to the edge of the bed and peered down. It was a long drop to the bottom.
"Eeee," Willow said. She stepped away from the edge and took a couple of deep breaths, suddenly feeling woozy.
Xena turned to Buffy.
"Think you can jump?" Xena asked.
Buffy answered by walking to the edge and, without hesitation, diving headfirst. As she hurtled toward the ground, she gracefully completed two front flips and landed on her feet, slightly crouching. From far above, Willow saw the slayer stand upright and begin brushing herself off.
"That was great!" Buffy yelled from down below, waving.
Well began backing up. "Okie dokie, well, I think I'm just going to find another way then-"
Xena quickly sized Willow up and then grabbed her arm.
"Oh no you don't," the warrior said. Still holding onto Willow's arm, Xena turned her body so Willow was at her back. She put Willow's arm around her neck and walked toward the edge of the bed.
"Hang on," Xena said. "Tight," she added, looking over her shoulder at Willow.
Convinced of her impending death, Willow clasped onto Xena's body with both arms and both legs, much like how a koala bear hangs onto its mother. Xena then jumped into the air, turned back toward the bed, grabbed hold of the bedspread, and slid down it like a pirate sliding down the sail of a ship.
Willow shut her eyes and screamed the entire way down.
Near the bottom, Xena jumped away from the bed and landed on her feet next to where Buffy was standing. Willow remained attached to Xena.
Slowly, she opened her eyes. When she realized she and Xena had made it to the ground, she said, "Bravo." Nonetheless, her arms remained tightly gripped around Xena's neck and shoulders.
"You can let go now," Xena said.
"Right," Willow said, "Thanks." Blushing, she relaxed her grip and slid off of Xena's tall frame.
"'Atta girl," Xena said, turning to look at Willow. Xena held Willow's gaze, boldly. Willow returned the gaze and the blush in her cheeks was quickly replaced by the flush of a closely-related emotion, arousal. Willow noted that this strong, unusual woman had a magnetism to her. There was something primal about Xena, and Willow was reluctant to draw away from her body. She sensed that she and this Xena could get into a whole mess of trouble together.
Xena looked away first and gave an order.
"Come on, the sound came from that way," she said, pointing toward the door of Angelica's room. She began walking in that direction. As she passed where Buffy was standing, the slayer called out.
"What's your plan?"
Xena continued walking, ignoring Buffy's question.
Xena kept walking.
Willow began following Xena. As she brushed by Buffy, Buffy grabbed Willow's arm.
"Will, how 'bout a little backup here?" Buffy asked.
Willow stopped walking and looked conflicted. She looked at Xena walking away. Then, at Buffy. And then at Xena, again.
"Willow," Buffy accused. "You like her!"
"Do not," Willow said. When she realized she was still looking at Xena, she quickly looked at Buffy, who was raising an eyebrow.
"You were totally checking her out! Willow, I need Old Reliable right now, not Romeo," Buffy said. "You have noticed that we're incredibly small, haven't you?"
Willow had not actually been noticing much else aside from those startling blue eyes on a certain warrior princess. She began looking around Angelica's bedroom. Underneath the bed, close to where they stood, was a gigantic teddy bear dressed as a fireman. In the corner were a pile of very large colored blocks with numbers and letters on them. To her left was a stuffed puppy wearing a golf outfit. Willow noticed that the toy was bigger than her.
"You're right, Buffy," she said. "We're like somebody's figurines!"
By now, Xena had reached the door to Angelica's bedroom. She turned to Buffy and Willow. "What's the hold up?" she yelled.
"Just let me do the talking," Buffy whispered to Willow.
They began walking in Xena's direction.
When they reached her, Buffy spoke, "Look, we are as confused about this as you are-"
"But don't worry," Willow interrupted. "Buffy is a slayer and I am a very powerful witch. We have experience traveling in alternate dimensions. I'll figure out a spell to get us out of here."
Xena gave a chuckle, "that's a very nice offer. But I just need to find my friend. Once we find out which god is behind this, I'll take care of it."
"Actually-" Buffy started.
"No, if we can just find a computer, I can look up a spell and have us out of here in no time," Willow interrupted again.
Buffy glared at Willow.
"I don't know what computer herbs are or where they grow, but sometimes a more direct route is necessary," Xena said, cracking her knuckles. "You two just try to stay out of my way," Xena said.
Buffy rolled her eyes.
"Do you even have a plan? I just think-" Willow started, angry, taking a step closer to Xena.
"Of course I've got a plan-" Xena yelled, taking a step closer to Willow.
Here, Buffy stepped in.
"Why don't you pick on someone your own size," Buffy said.
"And that would be you?" Xena asked. The slayer came up to her chest.
"Hey! She's saved the world," Willow said. "A lot!"
"Yeah, well, join the club," Xena said.
Xena and Buffy were now staring each other down, inches away from each other.
"What club is that, the Wonder Woman Fanclub 1995?" Buffy said.
"What are you saying with those words, Puffy?" Xena said, angrily. She poked Buffy on the chest. Buffy slapped her finger away.
"You two!" Willow yelled, beginning to panic. "Not the time to be working out alpha issues, here."
Xena's fingers twitched at her sides. Buffy cracked her knuckles. Xena arched a brow. Buffy arched one right back.
When neither Xena nor Buffy backed down, Willow knew what she had to do.
"Reddo echo reddo!" Willow said and pointed a finger at Xena and then at Buffy. Both fighters turned and looked at Willow expectantly.
"Okay then, we're going to walk out that door, look for a computer, and find a spell that will send all of us home," Willow said.
"Right, we're going to walk out that door, look for a computer, and find a spell that will send all of us home," Buffy and Xena repeated. Willow smiled. Buffy and Xena exchanged horrified looks with each other.
The three women then walked out of Angelica's room, with Willow leading the way. As they turned the first corner they reached, they saw the cause of the ruckus they heard from the bedroom. Three giants.
With her friends, Shane and Alice, Jenny Shecter approached Bette and Tina's home. As they walked up the front stairs, she stumbled slightly. The other two stifled their laughter and grabbed her arms so she wouldn't fall. Alice entered the code that unlocked the front door and, when the door opened, the three friends entered Bette and Tina's living room. They were carrying towels and smelled of alcohol and smoke.
"Shhhhh," Alice said. "You guys, they'll kill us if we wake Angelica."
She opened the door that led to the living room and the three women tiptoed through it.
"Wait," Alice said, stopping. "I wonder if they have any snacks."
"Alice, just go straight back to the pool," Shane whispered, holding a lit joint.
"No, let her go look. I'm hungry too," said Jenny.
They heard Alice not-so-quietly make her way into Bette and Tina's kitchen and begin rummaging through the pantry. Shane and Jenny walked toward the back door that led to the pool and deck.
"Shane, give me that," Jenny said, holding out her hand for the joint Shane held.
They stopped in the living room so Shane could hand the joint to Jenny, who took a long, deep drag. She exhaled and then plopped onto the sofa that was directly behind her. Shane sighed and then did the same.
They sat in silence for a couple of seconds. Or maybe minutes.
"What a beautiful... fucking.... tree," Jenny finally said.
They heard footsteps and turned their heads to see Alice carrying a bag of pita chips, a container of hummus, a cluster of bananas, and a carton of orange juice. One of the bananas fell to the ground with a thud. Alice stopped and took a large swig of the orange juice straight from the carton, gulping loudly. Afterward, she gasped and saw the others staring at her and the offerings she brought.
"Sorry guys, this is apparently not to the place to get the munchies," she said. Nonetheless, she placed the snacks on the coffee table.
Jenny slid down onto the floor, where she could get at the food more easily. She took a pita chip and dipped it into the hummus. Before it could reach her mouth, the hummus fell off the chip and landed on the carpet.
"Shit," Jenny said.
She squinted and took her chip as if to dip it into the hummus that was on the floor, right next to someone's slippers. With her chip in mid-air, she thought she saw something mouse-like run from one of the slippers to the couch. Curious, she furrowed her brow and got down on her stomach.
"Hey do they still have that cat?" she asked.
Jenny peeked into the slippers and, not seeing anything there, lifted the flap of the sofa to take a peak at what was underneath it. Her eyes widened.
She found herself staring into the eyes of two tiny women, one of them holding some sort of bundle.
"Oh my God you guys. Am I tripping?" Jenny said.
"Jenny, what are you doing down there?" Alice asked, noisily chewing on chips.
Jenny sat up and, cupping one of her hands with the other, she placed her hands gently on the coffee table. She slowly opened her hands and revealed what she was holding.
"Look, you guys," she said. "Lilliputian lesbians."
"Lilla-what-now?" Alice said, taking the joint from Shane.
Before she could take another puff, Alice squinted and saw the two figures, Gabrielle and Tara, standing on the table. She leaned in and took a closer look. The two tiny women were breathing and moving.
"Shane! What's in this?" Alice asked, holding the joint out. She quickly stamped it out in the hummus.
Willow, Buffy, and Xena peered around the corner into the living room and slowly inched along the floor. With Willow leading the way, they saw one of the giants place something on the very large coffee table. From where they were, they could hear everything the giants were saying.
"Gods, what are they? I've never seen giants so..." Xena asked, searching for the right descriptor.
"That one with long dark hair is definitely some sort of demon," Willow said. "I can sense it."
"Since when did you develop demon radar, Will?" Buffy said.
"What's wrong with that other one's hair?" Xena asked.
At this, Buffy perked up.
"Wait. I know what they are," Buffy said.
"A pack of bloodthirsty bacchae?" Xena suggested. She noticed that the three giant-bacchae beings were gathered around two figures. She squinted. It couldn't be, she thought. Was it?
"No. Lesbians," Buffy said. "From L.A."
Willow looked at Buffy with a furrowed brow.
"Since when did you develop gaydar, Buffy?" she asked.
"Wait," Xena said. "That's Gabrielle." She began to walk toward the giants.
"Xena wait," Willow commanded.
"Yes, we should wait," Xena echoed. She frowned, but stopped her movement. Her eyes remained fixed on the two figures on the coffee table. Willow followed the warrior's eyes. When her eyes landed on the two figures standing on the coffee table, Willow's heart skipped a beat.
"Tara?" Willow said, in a small voice. "Let's go," she commanded.
"Right. Let's go," Buffy and Xena repeated.
"Jenny, how do you know they're lesbians?" Alice said, looking at the two tiny women on the coffee table.
Shane lowered her nose to get a better look.
"Whoa!" she said. She removed a flask from her jacket and took a swig of whiskey. After swallowing, she passed the flask to Alice, who took a shot and then looked at the women again.
"Wait, yep. Yep, you're right. Definitely gay," Alice said, pointing. "Look, the little butch one's a definite hundred-footer," she continued, pointing at Gabrielle. "You can tell she's a lesbian from a hundred feet away."
"More like a kilometer," Jenny said, nodding.
Shane nodded too, and stuck her finger out as if to touch Gabrielle.
"Hey there," she said.
Gabrielle kicked Shane's finger away with a powerful roundhouse and put up her dukes.
"Ow!" Shane said, pulling her finger away and sticking it in her mouth.
"Shane, you were making googly eyes at her," Jenny accused.
"I was not," Shane said. She then looked down at her ankle. "Ow! What the-"
"Aiyiyiyiyiyiyiyiyiyi!" yodeled another small figure, jumping onto the table with a flip.
"Something stabbed my ankle!" Shane said.
"Xena!" Gabrielle said, when Xena landed on the table.
"Gabrielle, run," Xena said.
Instead of running away, Gabrielle ran to Xena and embraced her.
"Xena," she repeated. Xena returned Gabrielle's embrace. After a few seconds, Gabrielle pulled away.
"I knew you were here," she said. "Your chakram. How?"
"I don't know," Xena said. "I woke up with... Well, two people are with me. Buffy and Willow," she finished.
"Willow?" Tara said. Her eyes lit up.
Xena turned to Tara, taking note of her presence.
Buffy then landed on the table with a flip.
"Hey Tara," she said, holding a fighter stance. "Tara?" she repeated, doing a double-take.
Alice thought she heard the little women speaking, but she couldn't quite hear what they were saying. When two more figures landed on the table, something was familiar to her. From below, she saw a red-headed figure trying to climb up a leg of the coffee table. The figure kept slipping and was unable to make much progress.
"No way," Alice said.
On her knees, she bent forward and gently cupped the red-headed figure with both of her hands and placed her on the table. The figure immediately ran toward one of the other figures.
"Tara!" Willow yelled, once her feet touched down on the coffee table.
"Willow?" Tara said, turning to face Willow. She stepped forward, unsure, but smiling.
Willow reached out with one of her hands. She noticed that Tara was holding a child.
"Is it really you?" Willow asked.
Tara nodded and took hold of Willow's hand.
"Baby... I've missed you so much..." Willow said. Tears began to fall from her eyes.
Buffy warily looked around at her companions and then at the giants who were studying them.
"I'm digging the reunions and all," she said, "but anyone else remember that we've gone all Indian in the Cupboard here?"
Jenny, Alice, and Shane watched the five figures moving around on the coffee table. Jenny was the first to speak.
"Oh my God," she said, "Look at all of them! Look at their little warrior uniforms."
"You guys," Alice said, "they're... from those TV shows!"
"What TV shows?" Shane said, taking another swig of whiskey. Her ankle had stopped bleeding.
"Xena and Buffy. I think that's Xena. And that's the sidekick, Gabrielle," Alice said, pointing. "And, and that's Buffy, Willow, and what's-her-face, the lesbian girlfriend. Sierra? Sara? Whatever."
"Sidekick?" Gabrielle yelled. "I resent that!" She shook her fist.
Shane and Jenny looked more closely.
"Whoa," Shane said.
Jenny rested her chin on the coffee table and stared at the five small women. Standing, they were all about as tall as Jenny's head.
"I want them," Jenny informed Alice and Shane, with absolute certainty.
"Jenny... I don't think you can just... have them," Shane said.
Jenny frowned at Shane, leaned back, and crossed her arms over her chest in a pout.
"Oh, I know! Let's take them to the pool with us," Alice said. "Shane, give me your hat."
"What? No! My hair," Shane said.
"Give it, Yankee Doodle Dykey," Alice said.
Sighing, Shane took off the hipster hat she was wearing and handed it to Alice. Alice used it to scoop up Buffy, Willow, Tara, Xena, and Gabrielle. Carrying the five small women in the hat, Alice made her way to Bette and Tina's outdoor pool, with Shane and Jenny lagging slightly behind.
Once outside on the patio, Alice placed the hat on the wooden table by Bette and Tina's pool. She then began removing her clothing.
"Come on guys," Alice said, diving into the pool wearing only her bra and underwear.
Jenny sat down on a chair next to the table and stared at the five small women atop it.
"Jenny, come on," Shane said. She pulled Jenny up, they disrobed completely, and jumped into the pool together.
"What were they talking about?" Tara said.
Gabrielle shrugged. She was ready to fight if she had to, but she was still gauging whether or not the giants posed them danger. She knew giants could be easily tricked and didn't want to do anything brash that might get themselves hurt, or worse.
"It's okay, Tara," said Gabrielle. "I don't think they're very smart. We'll get out of this."
Tara hugged Angelica closer to her body. Willow put her arm around Tara.
"Xena, what do you think?" Gabrielle asked, looking at the tall warrior beside her.
Xena shrugged and looked at Willow.
Willow shifted uncomfortably. Tara and Gabrielle looked at her. Gabrielle noticed that everyone seemed to be waiting expectantly for the red-head to give them direction.
"I... think we should find a computer so I can look up a spell to get us out of here," Willow finally said.
"We should find a computer so she can look up a spell to get us out of here," Buffy and Xena repeated.
Gabrielle furrowed her brow.
Tara looked at Willow.
"What's going on?" Tara asked.
"Oh, ha ha," Willow said, "Nothing."
"Willow..." Tara warned.
"Nothing," Buffy and Xena both laughed.
"Willow Rosenberg!" Tara demanded.
"Baby, I had to. I swear," Willow said. "It-it was like Clash of the Titans. It was like Mike Tyson versus Muhammed Ali. They were about to-"
"Undo it," Tara said.
Willow nodded. With a quick wave of her hand, she said, "Deleo."
Buffy and Xena shook their heads. Xena snarled and began moving toward Willow. Oh brother, Gabrielle thought, this would not help anything.
"Xena," Gabrielle said, hopping in front of Xena and putting a hand on her breastplate.
"Gabrielle, that shamaness put a hex on me!" Xena said, pointing at Willow who was slowly backing up.
"Stop it," Gabrielle said.
"Hey mister, it takes two to tango," Willow said, looking at Xena. "You were about to attack Buffy."
"That's enough!" Gabrielle commanded. "For the love of Artemis. Can't you see that we're all in this together?"
"Yeah," Tara said. "Besides, I-I don't think those giants are dangerous."
The five women look at Shane, Jenny, and Alice. They were frolicking in the pool, splashing around, and jumping on one another.
"Nice," Xena said under her breath, waggling her eyebrows suggestively. Gabrielle gave her an elbow to the rib. "Ooof!" Xena groaned.
Willow and Tara looked at Xena and Gabrielle.
"Gabrielle," Tara said, "This is Willow. M-my..." she began, unsure.
"Girlfriend," Willow said, "Her girlfriend."
Tara smiled. Willow and Gabrielle shook hands.
"This is Xena," Gabrielle said, putting an arm around Xena. "My soulmate."
Xena extended a hand to Tara and, noticing that Tara was holding a child in one of her arms, gently shook her hand.
"A child..." Xena said.
"This is Juliet," Tara said. "Someone abandoned her."
"Dollies!" Angelica said, clapping.
"Hi there," Willow said to Angelica, and began to rub her back.
A shadow fell over the women. Looking up, they see that one of the giants had gotten out of the pool and was looking at them again.
"Hey you guys," Shane said, standing over the table and staring at the five small women. "They have a baby."
Jenny and Alice got out of the pool to inspect. The three large women hovered over the table and peered down.
"Shit," Alice said. "Angie?! Shit, you guys." Her voice was panicked.
"What is it?" Jenny said.
"We shrunk their baby! It's Angelica. We shrunk Bette and Tina's baby! On Christmas."
"Angelica," Shane said, looking down at the five women and the baby being held by one of them. "Angie, it's going to be okay."
"Shane," Angelica said. From Tara's arms, she pointed at Shane.
"You guys, she sees us," Shane said.
"Shane," Angelica repeated, and giggled.
"Sweetie, do you know them?" Willow asked Angelica.
She nodded her head.
"Hi there," Alice said loudly, addressing the five small women. "You, um, you seem to have our friends' daughter."
"Tiny," Xena yelled. "Not deaf." She and Buffy rubbed their ears.
"Right," Alice said, in a softer voice.
"You know whose child this is?" Gabrielle asked.
"Yeah," Alice said, "And they are going to kill us when they see her."
"Won't they be happy to see her?" Gabrielle said.
"Well, it's just that she's not usually so...." Alice began.
"Small," Shane ended.
"You mean she's a giant too?" Xena said, pointing at Angelica.
"A giant?" Alice said. "We're not giants. She's been shrunk."
"Why would somebody shrink her?" Tara asked.
"I don't know," Alice said, becoming frantic "Look, we just wanted to go swimming. But now Angelica is- is... and..." She put her head in her hands. Shane rubbed her back.
"It's okay, Alice," she said.
"Hades! What is going on?" Xena said, rubbing her temples.
"Oh listen, sweetie," Willow said, looking at Tara. "They keep referring to the Greek pantheon. That's so adorable."
Xena glared at them.
"So, this child has been shrunk..." Xena said.
"But on the bright side, I've been reunited with my soul mate," Willow said, putting an arm around Tara.
Xena looked at them again.
"Me too..." Gabrielle said, reaching for Xena's hand.
"And I'm.... here," Buffy said, "Like a fifth wheel." She was standing off by herself. "Thanks Aphrodite," she said sarcastically, mostly to herself.
Willow, Xena, and Gabrielle shot her a look.
"What'd you just say?" Xena said.
"Uh, nothing?" Buffy said. "Just Bitter Party of One over here."
"No... Buffy," Willow said. "Something's familiar."
"What do you mean?" Xena said.
"Yeah," Buffy said, "yeah... with the dust and the-"
"Boobs," Willow said. She quickly looked at Tara. "Sorry honey. It was just her outfit. She was incredibly under-dressed for a Canadian winter."
Xena rolled her eyes.
"Aphrodite," she yelled. "Aphrodite, reveal yourself!"
"Xena," Buffy said, "maybe in ancient Greece the gods are all about the canoodling with humans..."
Xena and Gabrielle nodded.
"But these days, they don't really pop in just to hang, you know?" Buffy said.
"What is she saying with those words?" Xena said, turning to Gabrielle. "Can you understand her?"
"I think she's saying Aphrodite can't be easily summoned from this world," Gabrielle said.
Xena considered this and then turned to Willow.
"Shamaness," Xena said, "Do you think you can summon Aphrodite?"
"Um..." Willow hesitated and looked at Tara.
"Willow, it's okay," Tara nodded. "We need you."
Willow nodded to Xena and took a deep breath. Closing her eyes, she began chanting.
"Eros Delta Lima Zulu eros..."
"Willow... what kind of spell is that?" Tara asked.
"Oh, he he. Mostly code filler," Willow said.
Xena, Gabrielle, and Buffy stared at the pair. Tara shrugged. Nonetheless, Willow's eyes brightened and her hair briefly turned white.
A bubblegum-peppermint smell permeated the air and, in a cloud of red and pink sparkles, a busty blonde appeared. Wearing a sexy Santa's helper costume comprised of a black mini-skirt and a red, furry bikini top, Aphrodite appeared standing next to Shane, Jenny, and Alice. She peered down at five tiny women.
"Shut! Up!" Aphrodite said. "You guys turned out way cute."
"Aphrodite," Gabrielle yelled. "What's going on?"
"Chillax, Gabalicious," Aphrodite said. She turned and considered Alice, Shane, and Jenny who were staring at the beautiful embodiment of Southern California that had appeared before their eyes.
"Hey there," Shane finally said. Her eyes traveled up and down the Goddess of Love's body.
"Shane, focus," Alice said. She then looked at Aphrodite. "Um, hi. Can you help us? We seem to have shrunk our friends' daughter." Alice gestured toward Angelica.
"Oh, that wasn't your doing," Aphrodite giggled.
"Aphrodite, what did you do?" Gabrielle demanded.
"Unfair! I totally get blamed for everything," Aphrodite said.
Nonetheless, the goddess snapped her fingers. Immediately, Buffy, Willow, Tara, Xena, Gabrielle, and Angelica began to feel as though the table on which they were standing was growing smaller. It was a sickening, dizzy sensation and none of the women could figure out if they were growing or shrinking.
Looking at the table, Xena noticed Shane's hat. She picked it up and handed it to Gabrielle, who took it with a silent, grateful nod.
"Gods," Gabrielle said, feeling the familiar clammy sweats that preceded one of her bouts of motion sickness.
Once the movement stopped, they found themselves standing on the table near Bette and Tina's pool. They were now the size of the "giants" and were having trouble fitting on the table all at once.
"Phew, that was a close one," Gabrielle said, placing the hat on the table as her motion sickness dissipated.
Without warning, the wooden beams supporting the table heaved, buckled, and then snapped, causing a large, startling crash. The five women suddenly found themselves standing on the patio in a heap of table pieces.
"Shit," Alice whispered.
Gabrielle quickly found Shane's hat, bent over, and threw up into it.
Shane made a face, but handed Gabrielle the flask of whiskey to drink from.
"Angelica! Oh thank God," Alice said.
The child reached out her arms. Tara released the child reluctantly and let Alice take her.
Shane and Jenny sighed with relief.
Buffy looked at Aphrodite.
"So, you're not really a potential are you?" she asked. "Too bad, really. We could have used someone with your... powers."
"What happens to the rest of us?" Willow asked. She and Tara were holding hands. "Does this spell, or whatever, end after Solstice?"
"We're sending you back to your own dimensions, together," Aphrodite said. "Happily ever after is up to you. We just wanted to give you another chance. It being Solstice and all."
"That's not possible," Xena said. "The fate of 40,000 souls hinge on mine."
"Warrior Babe, the kinks will work themselves out," Aphrodite said, rolling her eyes. "They always do. You know that. You've died before."
"It's true," Buffy said, nodding. “About the kinks.”
The others looked at her.
"Hey, I've died twice," she explained.
"Aphrodite," Gabrielle said. "You said 'we'...?"
"You know me. I'm a sucker for love. I was visiting these two," she pointed at Buffy and Willow, "for... other reasons. But this dealio here is even bigger than me. Seems one 'Victor/Victoria Oscar-Meyer' already had a plan. And I just played a part in it."
She snapped her fingers and another figure appeared to the left of Shane, Jenny, and Alice.
The three LA lesbians, however, did not notice the arrival of the new guest. They were captivated by Willow and Tara, who were clearly enjoying being reunited with one another, to their right.
"Willow, I'm not sure I understand this," Tara said. "A-and, I know I've been away for a long time. You weren't sitting around waiting for me to come back. S-so if there's someone else..."
"Ssshhh," Willow said, putting a finger to Tara's lips. "There is no one else. There has never been anyone else, really." She kissed Tara softly. They briefly separated before Tara pulled Willow back to her for a deeper kiss.
"Hot!" Shane said, observing.
"Nice!" Alice agreed.
"Beautiful!" Jenny said.
"Crisp-y!" said another voice, to their left.
It was a voice that Shane, Alice, and Jenny have heard before, but not for several years. Three heads snapped to the left, in the direction of the voice. Seeing the figure, their mouths dropped open. Several seconds passed before it really registered.
"What?" the figure said, and then smiling she continued. "You look like you've seen a ghost or something. And I guess, well, technically you have."
"Dana," Alice whispered.
Jenny's hands moved to her own mouth.
"You're here," Shane said.
"Yes. Apparently, I've been summoned. I am the, what is it called, oh yes," Dana said, making air quotes to encapsulate her title, "the ‘Ghost of Popular Lesbians Past.’"
"What the hell?" Alice said.
"There's this spiritual limbo where victims of the Dead Lesbian Cliche are doomed to spend eternity until they are revived," Dana explained.
Alice and Shane looked at her, perplexed.
"It's the dimension right above the Hell where people are forced to pretend that guys getting hit in the balls is comedy and right below the Hell where black men go once they’re used as victims in horror movies."
"Oh," Alice said. "Wow."
"Anyway," Dana said, "Legions of fans are upset by how lesbian couples represented in pop culture can rarely find lasting happiness and often end in tragedy and death. I hear it. And, during this most magical time of year, it's my job to bring them back. With a little help from friends, fans, and love, of course."
The four of them looked at Aphrodite, who had made her way over to Buffy. From where they were standing, they could hear the Goddess speaking.
"Wow. You're, like, really strong," she said, lightly caressing Buffy's arm. "Not even just for a mortal. You could totally give Ares a run."
Buffy shifted uncomfortably.
"Apparently, she's had her eye on Buffy for some time," Dana said. "Wants to give her some 'tips' on finding lasting love. Like 'Wicca,' being a 'slayer' is also a metaphor, or something, and Buffy has been a little slow on the uptake. Our paths collided tonight and we decided to team up for a greater cause."
"Wow," Alice said, "this is all really..."
"...gay?" Dana finished.
"Yeah," Alice said, nodding vigorously.
"I know, right?" Dana said. "Anyway, I guess what I'm trying to say is, popular TV lesbians never truly die. They just slowly fade away."
Dana's body began to flicker and fade.
"Dana!" Alice yelled.
"No, I'm just kidding," Dana said, popping back into full view laughing, which she ended with a snort.
"Stop that!" Alice said, giving her a poke.
"You see, popular TV lesbians are brought back to life all the time. By fans, old and new," Dana looked at Angelica. "By the Powers That Be. If they want it to work out, they figure out a way to make it work out."
"They? You mean, like God?" Alice asked.
"Or gods, hellooooo," Aphrodite hollered, before turning her attentions back to Buffy.
"God, what's God? Writers create their own reality all the time," Dana said. "In the real world, one x-ray can change a person's life forever, you know? It's depressing. It's hard. People read stories and watch TV to escape from that and to suspend reality for awhile. If a beloved character is going to die, they don't want it to be so some larger 'point' can be made about how to end a series boldly or how to further another character's personal development."
"Everyone loves a happy ending," Alice agreed.
"It may not be realistic," Dana said. "But hey, why not save reality for reality, eh?"
"I suppose," Alice said.
"Now, let's put this baby to bed," Dana said, nuzzling Angelica. She then turned to Aphrodite. "Are you ready?"
Aphrodite and Dana walked together over to Willow and Tara. The other women looked on.
"You two lovebirds first," Aphrodite said. "Where will it be? That cozy hotel in Quebec?"
"Yes," Willow said, nodding. She and Tara were holding hands.
"Wait," Tara said. She squeezed Willow's hand and walked over to where Xena and Gabrielle were standing.
"Gabrielle," she said. "I-it was nice meeting you. Thank you for saving my life. With that cat and all. You're very brave. A-and... I didn't mind the kiss." While Xena and Willow furrowed their brows, Tara and Gabrielle embraced.
"You're welcome Tara," she said. "If you ever find yourself in ancient Greece, you and your friends have a place with my tribe. Stay strong."
"Like an Amazon," Tara said, smiling. Tara walked back over to Willow and took her hand.
"Ready?" Dana asked.
Tara and Willow nodded and then disappeared.
Dana and Aphrodite then walked over to Xena and Gabrielle.
"Back to the Amazon Nation then?" Aphrodite said.
Gabrielle looked at Xena, who nodded.
"Yes," Gabrielle said. "Although we may not make it out of my tent for the Solstice festivities..."
"I'll bet," Dana said, raising her eyebrows.
Gabrielle looked at her, considering.
"It was you.... wasn't it?" Gabrielle asked. "Victoria?"
"I'm sorry if I.... startled you," she said.
"No," Gabrielle said. "Thank you... for this." She looped her arm into the crook of Xena's and smiled.
"Very well," Aphrodite said.
Xena and Gabrielle disappeared. Aphrodite walked over to where Buffy stood.
"Looks like it's just you and me, slayerbabe."
Buffy swallowed. "That hotel in Quebec is sounding a little third-wheely to me," she said.
"I thought it might," Aphrodite said. "That's why I assumed my place would suffice. It's time for you to give love a chance. If you can keep up."
Buffy arched a brow at the challenge, took a deep breath, and then nodded. Taking hold of Buffy's hand, Aphrodite snapped her fingers and the two women disappeared.
Alice shook her head, disoriented. She was on Bette and Tina’s patio, with Shane, Jenny, and Angelica. Before them, stood a man who seemed vaguely familiar.
"You guys better get out of here before you get blamed for this broken table," he said.
"I'm sorry..." Alice said, looking the man. "I feel... strange. Who are you?"
"Victor Oscar-Meyer," he said. "You know. I'm staying with Bette and Tina for the holiday..."
"Oh right," she said. "Right." She looked at Angelica, in her arms, and frowned.
"My head hurts," Jenny said. She rubbed her temples.
"Come on," Victor said.
They all turned and headed inside. Alice placed Angelica on the couch and covered her with a blanket. She turned to Victor and had the impulse to hug him. She didn’t.
"Well," Alice said. "Good night then."
"Good night, Alice."
Alice shook her head and rubbed at her eyes. Shane, Jenny, and she headed walked to the front door, opened it, and began walking home.
"I can already feel my hangover," Jenny said.
"Christmas is going to be a DVD-and-pizza day," Alice said. “Who’s with me?”
Victor turned to Angelica, whose eyes were closed. Her breathing was slowed. Victor bent down and kissed her lightly on the forehead.
"Good night, little one," he said.
A light turned on in Bette and Tina's bedroom. Victor heard footfalls in the house and so stepped into the shadows of the Christmas Tree.
"Angelica!" Bette yelled. She ran into the living room. "Angelica!"
She saw the child sleeping on the couch.
"Oh, thank God."
She bent down and lightly touched the hair at the top of her daughter’s head.
Tina ran into the living room.
"Shhh," Bette whispered, gesturing with her head toward Angelica.
"Oh, thank God," Tina said. She placed a hand at Bette's back.
Bette gently scooped Angelica into her arms and began carrying her back to her bedroom. Tina followed behind. After placing Angelica into her bed, Bette turned to Tina.
"I'm sorry," she whispered. "About earlier."
"I should have talked to you first," Bette said. "I was excited about the dolls. I wasn't thinking."
"Thank you," Tina said.
Bette's eyes searched Angelica's bed.
"Where are they anyway?" Bette said. "She went to bed with them, didn't she?"
"Yeah," Tina said. "I think. I don't know." She shrugged.
Bette's eyes widened as she considered her partner. "You didn't!" she said.
"What?" Tina said.
"You threw them away!"
"Bette, I did not!" Tina began backing up. She put a finger to her mouth to remind Bette that their daughter was sleeping.
"You threw them away while I was sleeping," Bette said, walking with Tina to the door of Angelica's room.
"No. I. Didn't," Tina said.
"How could you?" Bette stormed out of the room. Tina trailed after her.
In her bed, Angelica snuggled in and smiled in her sleep as visions of women warriors danced in her head.