Disclaimer: I do not own these characters and Xena Warrior Princess remains the respective copyright of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement is intended.
Content: Nothing here you wouldn't see in a typical episode.
Spoilers: This story is set after “The God You Know”.
Aphrodite spends her first night as a mortal after journeying away from Rome in the company of Xena and Gabrielle.
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Aphrodite shivered. It was too cold. Her pink negligee was not up to the job. She rubbed at her arms and tried to draw nearer to the flames.
“If you get any closer you're gonna' catch fire,” Xena observed wryly as she finished packing the saddlebags.
Aphrodite glared at her. Being mortal sucked and Xena was enjoying it at her expense far too much.
“I see you haven't left yet,” she said pointedly staring at the horse Xena was currently saddling and wrinkled her nose in distaste.
“Of course,” the warrior continued quite unable to keep the smug note from her voice, “If you had changed clothes like I said you wouldn't be freezing your assets off now.”
“You wanted me to wear a sack!”
“Xena, play nice,” a third voice warned softly.
Both turned to look at Gabrielle who had returned to the campsite with an armful of logs in one hand and her pack in the other. Xena gave her a not so innocent smile whilst Aphrodite raised her chin and folded her arms in vindication. Gabrielle dumped her belongings and fed the fire which gained her an appreciative smile from the Goddess. The bard squeezed her shoulder in reassurance and made her way across the campsite to Xena.
“She's your friend,” Xena mouthed silently.
Gabrielle sighed. It had been a long day and the newly mortal Aphrodite had been getting on Xena's last nerve for most of it.
“It's a lot for her to deal with,” Gabrielle pointed out softly.
“Well you've got her all to yourself now,” Xena replied hauling herself onto the horse. “I'll meet you at the port with Ares as soon as I can find him. I don't know why he snuck off in the first place.”
“Well he did spend all morning bickering with his sister. Try the taverns first,” Gabrielle suggested seriously, “Maybe he needed a drink.”
“He's not the only one,” Xena agreed with a smirk. “See you tomorrow.”
The warrior urged her horse on into the early evening light and Gabrielle watched until she faded from view. She turned back to her new companion moping by the fire.
Aphrodite gave her a plaintive look.
“We're not really sleeping out here are we? It's cold and it's dirty. Look I just don't do camping alright.”
“It's not that bad.” Gabrielle suppressed a smile. “You're over reacting.”
“Moi? Over reacting? I was a God and now I'm…”
Aphrodite glanced away.
“You've been mortal before,” Gabrielle pointed out mildly.
“Yeah for like a day and a half. Besides I knew you'd figure out that whole enchanted scroll deal. It was never gonna' be permanent.”
Aphrodite's pout faded and she drew her knees up to her chin. “You don't get it. You're mortal, you've always been mortal. I was born a God – the way that feels. To just lose it. This totally sucks.”
Gabrielle sat next to her on the furs and rummaged in her pack. “Your brother showed me what it felt like once. Long ago.” After he had murdered Eli.
This is how I feel every day, it's the power of the God's and with it you can change the world.
“Ares came on to you? You never wrote that in your scrolls,” Aphrodite said, concern filtering quickly into her eyes.
“Yeah, well…” The bard then gave her a quizzical glance. “You read my scrolls?”
“Of course,” Aphrodite shrugged suddenly looking at her feet, feeling exposed. “When you were in deep freeze all those years I missed you. So I read them.”
She looked up again and held her friend's gaze. “That's the trouble with mortals. You get used to having them around and then…they just…die.”
Gabrielle swallowed the lump that had formed in her throat and shook off the memories that haunted her of that time.
“I got something for you,” Gabrielle said changing the subject. She pulled a pale pink linen wrap from her pack and draped it around Aphrodite's shoulders. “Xena was just messing with you back in the market – we never intended for you to wear those…”
“Rags,” Aphrodite offered and squealed in delight as she revelled in the style and expensiveness of the new garment. She flashed a thousand watt smile in her friend's direction.
“Material girl, I know,” the Goddess said and looped her arm through Gabrielle's. “Thank you. It's very much appreciated.”
“We're going to try and fix this,” Gabrielle assured her. “Send you back to Olympus .”
“I hope so, world is totally gonna' suck without me,” Aphrodite said, “Besides, I'm not living on any farm with a bunch of smelly animals and my brother!”
The evening had drawn in and the heat of the Roman summer had given way to a far colder night. With the campfire burning low Aphrodite tossed and turned endlessly on her sleeping furs.
“What are you doing?” Gabrielle demanded, her nerves beginning to shred.
“I'm trying to avoid a rock. It's so uncomfortable – how can you sleep when it's so stony?”
“Practice,” Gabrielle replied dryly.
Aphrodite sat up pulling the blanket tight around her neck. A frown was forming across her features.
“You know you're starting to sound like her too,” she muttered darkly. “That's not a good thing.”
“I'm tired,” Gabrielle said as she propped herself up on an elbow. She didn't remember Ares being this irritable when he lost his Godhood. She let out a sigh. “Aphrodite, what's really the matter?”
“I'm not used to being alone,” she answered, then paused. “In a bed. If that's what you can call this. I should have stayed in Rome .”
Gabrielle regarded her quietly and then drew back the blankets of her bedroll.
“If it'll help you sleep you can share with me,” she said.
“Well alright then,” Aphrodite said trying and failing not to look pleased. She scooted across the furs and started nestling down. “Only no funny business,” the Goddess teased, “I don't like you that much.”
It was on the tip of Gabrielle's tongue to tell her that hadn't been the case whilst she was out of mind at Caligula's palace. She thought better of it. Aphrodite's memory of Rome seemed sketchy at best.
“Oh wait,” the Goddess said suddenly, sitting back up and stealing all the covers from the bard, “You're not gonna' do that talking thing in your sleep are you?”
Gabrielle blinked at her, mouth hanging open. “What? How did you know…?”
“That just completely freaks me out,” Aphrodite continued as if the bard had never spoken. “I don't know how warrior babe puts up with that.”
Gabrielle shot up glaring. “She puts up with that just fine. Wait - did she say something? Never mind. Give me that.” She tugged back her half of the furs and lay back down. Aphrodite shrugged and snuggled beneath the blankets, fidgeting for a moment before finally curling up next to her friend.
“God your hands are cold,” Gabrielle said flinching.
“Totally. I told you,” Aphrodite agreed.
Gabrielle narrowed her eyes and smiled thinly. Bard baiting seemed to be one of the few things Aphrodite did share in common with Xena although she hadn't envisioned that sharing her bed roll would be one too. Still maybe this was something else she should leave out of her scrolls. After all, she wouldn't want anyone to get the wrong idea, especially Xena. There was nothing wrong in sharing your bed roll with a friend. Even if she was the Goddess of Love. And by the Gods is she cuddling? After a moment Gabrielle's eyes flew open startled.
“Aphrodite?! Are you naked?!”
“Honey, I hate to be the one to tell you this but most mortals don't sleep in their boots. Haven't you heard of footrot? Now do you mind – I'm trying to get some beauty sleep here. I swear if I have lines in the morning I'm blaming you.”
Yes, Gabrielle decided. Definitely time for a rewrite of her scrolls. She gazed quietly at the stars and let herself relax. Oddly, she didn't feel Xena's absence quite as keenly with Aphrodite so close to her and for a moment she pondered if some whisper of her magic still remained even in her mortal form. The warmth of the shared body heat made her eyes grow heavy and as sleep finally claimed her Aphrodite quietly began to snore.
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