Disclaimer: The characters of Xena and Gabrielle belong to MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No infringement on their rights are intended. All other characters are mine and belong to me.
Subtext Disclaimer: This story contains graphic scenes of a loving relationship between two consenting adults, who happen to be of the same sex. If this offends you, or you are under 18 years of age, or you reside in an area where this type of material is illegal, read no more. There is plenty of general fanfic out there for you. Go find it.
Shock Factor: 4 Plan D #6
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Enjoy, I hope.
“Play it again.” Xena laughed, hearing Brian's voice ranting and raving on the answering machine.
“Xena.” Chuckling at the good part, Gabrielle pushed the pause button. “I would like to listen to the rest of the messages sometime today.”
“Just one more time, then everybody else.” Closing her eyes, Xena imagined her brother jumping up and down about his picture on the web page. When the message was done another voice came on and she opened her eyes. Getting up off the couch, she picked up their sleeping bags and headed upstairs, whistling a familiar tune.
Gabrielle stayed, putting stuff away and listening to the voices coming from the machine. Most were well wishes and general glad you're alive sort of messages, along with several from Xena's parents and some from their friends at the hospital. Jim and Helen left a message that consisted of a lot of giggling and a few strange murmurs. Glancing at the machine, she heard Xena's voice, from above and frowned.
“Gabrielle! Get up here!” Staring at their bed, Xena shook her head and waited for the bard's arrival.
“What is . . . it?“ The question was answered by the sight of their bedroom. Their bed was in the middle of the room, up on wooden blocks with thick foam rubber wrapped around every exposed piece of wood. Duct tape held the foam in place, as did a healthy amount of police crime scene tape. Walking over to the bed, Gabrielle covered her mouth, then she spotted the note. Picking it up, she read it out loud. “Dear Grace and Faith, Thanks for letting us house sit. It's been a real blast and we're now leaving for the witness protection program. Love Jim and Helen.”
“I'm gonna kill ‘em.” Still staring at the bed, Xena growled.
Fighting a laugh, Gabrielle covered her mouth. “They're good.” Looking at the warrior, she let the laugh out and grabbed her stomach. “I think you've created a monster.”
“I'm gonna kill ‘em.” Her needle stuck, Xena shook her head. “Those little rat bastards are going to die.” Moving to the bed, she pulled on a piece of duct tape. “And they're gonna die slowly and painfully.”
“Xena. You've got to admit that this is truly a work of inspiration.” Unable to be mad, Gabrielle found the situation and the warrior's reaction completely comical and laughed harder.
“Oh, I'll inspire them all right.” Breaking out her pocket knife, Xena made a few menacing slashes in the air, before she started on the tape. “I'll inspire them to keep their bloody hands and noses out of our bedroom.”
Starting at the other end of the bed, Gabrielle pulled foam and tape. “It's kind of our fault, ya know.” Ignoring the warrior's glare, she continued. “We did tempt them, with the whole wallpaper thing and we did pick them to house sit.”
“Won't make that mistake again.” Snatching the foam off the bedpost.
“Xena.” Rolling her eyes, Gabrielle moved to the other end of the bed, staying away from the warrior's knife and eased behind her, wrapping her arms around the warrior's waist. “They left the mattress alone.” Running her had down to rub Xena's inner thigh. “Wanna try this new configuration out?”
Suddenly finding the monstrosity less offensive and the bard's hand placement most invigorating, Xena spun around, lifted Gabrielle up, wrapping the bard's legs around her waist and smiled. “Oooooh. I love a good experiment.” Kissing her guinea pig, Xena moved to the side of the bed and leaned over, covering the bard with her body.
Passion ensued and just when things were getting thumpy, the bed slid off the wooden blocks, crashing to the floor. Smiling, Gabrielle whispered. “I think they need to work out the kinks in their design.”
“I'll mention it the next time I see them.” Smiling herself, Xena went back to testing.
“When do you go back to work?” Xena asked, picking at some foam on one of the spindles in the headboard.
“I've got to start setting up my class the fifth of next month.” Rolling on her side, Gabrielle gave the warrior a curious look. “Why?”
“I need to know when to tell the hospital that I'm coming back.” Looking into green pools, Xena left the foam and wrapped her arms around the bard. “No sense staying home if you're not going to be here.”
“Hmmmm.” Content with the answer and the response, Gabrielle laid her head on Xena's shoulder. “I wonder how long it will be before we get to spend this much time together again?”
“Somewhere after retirement, I suppose.” Kissing the blonde head. “Or maybe not.” Rolling her eyes, Xena reached for the phone, that was ringing. “Hello.” Smiling. “Hey, how are you doing?”
Wondering if she had been genetically programmed to take advantage of the warrior, while she was on the phone, Gabrielle smiled. Easing out of the warrior's embrace, she slowly slid down Xena's body and under the covers.
“No. We just got home and haven't had a chance to listen to the machine.” Lying, but knowing better than telling the truth. Closing her eyes, Xena raised one eyebrow. The bard, reaching her bellybutton, was running her tongue over it while doing other things with her hands. “Is that right?” Lifting her hips, at Gabrielle's urging, Xena stifled a moan. “I'm sure that wouldn't be a problem.” Grabbing one of the foam covered spindles, Xena started rocking her hips and bit her lip. “Yes ma'am. We'd love to.” Keeping the passion out of her voice, due to much practice. “Faith? Sure.” Pulling the phone away from her ear, Xena used it to tap the bobbing lump under the covers. “Faith, your mother wants to talk to you.” The bobbing stopped, as did her hips and Xena had to use all her self control when an angry blonde head appeared.
Grabbing the phone, Gabrielle covered up the mouth piece. “Why didn't you tell me it was my mother?” Whispering harshly, she scooted back out from the covers and glared at the warrior.
“You were busy.” Laughing, Xena fended off a few swats.
“Hi, Mom.” Still glaring, Gabrielle put on a happy voice. “Grace? Yes, she's back to her old self.” Smacking the warrior. “What's up?”
Ignoring the stray glares, Xena rolled on her side. Folding back the covers, she smiled wickedly.
“Don't even think about it.” Covering the mouth piece, Gabrielle shook her head at the warrior. “Xena.” Trying to move off the bed, Gabrielle found out the disadvantages of foam covered spindles when she lost her grip and was drug to a laying position. “Yes, Mom, I'm listening.” Gods, help me. Closing her eyes as Xena started running her tongue over her nipple and running her hand down her abs. When the warrior's hand reached the area between her thighs, she gasped. “No, Mom. Nothing's wrong, go ahead.” Biting her lip, Gabrielle covered another gasp when two fingers found their way home and she arched her back. Thrusting her hips, she listened to her mother lay out details of something, not that she cared what that something was at that moment, but she still managed to listen. “That sounds fine.” Her voice a little husky. “Of course, we'll be there.” Gods, Mom, shut up. “When was that again? Shit.” Her reaction was not to the date she heard, but the warrior's lips sucking madly on her breast. “Sorry, Mom. What were you saying?” Bending her knee, Gabrielle felt her thigh come in contact with the warrior's sex and moaned when Xena started rocking her hips. “No, nothings wrong.” Opening her eyes, Gabrielle stared at the ceiling as it moved in rhythm with the bed. Her breath coming in ragged gasps, Gabrielle squeezed her eyes shut. “Yes, Mom. We'll be there, I promise.” Covering the mouth piece, she opened her eyes, looking at the warrior. “Gods, how do you do this.” Arching her back and moaning loudly as she felt an orgasm knocking on her door.
“Practice.” Moaning as well, Xena mumbled moving to the other breast and thrusting her fingers deeper, all the while rocking her hips in time with her fingers.
“Yes, Mom. I swear, we won't miss it this year. Bye.” Using one of the warrior's techniques, Gabrielle pushed the off button on the phone and tossed it at the cradle and didn't care that it bounced off and hit the floor. “Deeper! Gods! Xena!”
“No self control.” Xena admonished, slipping over the edge and bringing the bard with her. “Gods! Gods! Gabrielle!'
The phone rang again, from somewhere on the floor, but the bed kept rocking and thus, another parent went unanswered, but due to modern technology, they got the machine.
“Gabrielle.” Picking up a book, Xena flipped a couple of pages, then put it back down on the coffee table.
“Shhhh.” Closing her eyes, Gabrielle listened to her mother's voice on the machine, scribbling down the details she'd ignored earlier. When the message was done, she replayed it and compared it to what she'd written down.
Craning her neck, Xena watched the bard behind her. “When is this thing again?”
“In a week.” Pushing the stop button, Gabrielle moved around the couch and sat down beside Xena. Shaking her head, she handed the note pad to the warrior. “We've got about three days to pack and get another house sitter.”
“Why don't we fly?” Looking at the bard's notes and scratching her head.
“Because the last time we flew, you puked the whole trip.” Leaning her head back, sighing and closing her eyes.
“Oh, yea. I remember.” Sticking out her tongue, Xena shivered at the memory. “Don't eat fish before you get on a plane.” Looking over at the bard. “Can't we get out of this?”
“Xena. We've missed the last six family reunions.” Opening her eyes, Gabrielle rolled them. “If we miss another one, I'll be excommunicated from the family.”
“And that's a bad thing?” Smiling, Xena handed the note pad back to the bard.
“Xena.” Taking the pad, Gabrielle tossed it on the coffee table, then propped her feet beside it. “They aren't that bad.”
“I know. I'm just kidding.” Leaning toward the bard, she kissed a tousled head. “I like your family.”
“I wonder what the weather will be like out there.” Moving into organize the packing mode, Gabrielle leaned forward and picked up the pad. Flipping to an empty page, she started making a list of things to do.
“How long do we have to stay?” Cocking her head, Xena watched the scribbling.
“Well, according to what Mom said, this is going to be some kind of ultra blow out and they've got stuff planned for three or four days.” Tapping the end of her pen on the pad, Gabrielle made a mental calculation. “Probably close to a week.”
“Good. Maybe I get in some fishing.” Smiling at the thought, Xena missed the glare pointed at her.
“Oh, no you don't, warrior princess.” Grabbing Xena's chin, Gabrielle pulled two blue eyes to a few inches from hers. “You're not abandoning me. This is supposed to be a family reunion. You're part of the family, you suffer. Got me?”
“You could come wiff me.” Since her cheeks were being squeezed, Xena ended up talking like a fish. “Ith would be foon.”
Letting go, Gabrielle shook her head. “And listen to my mother complain? No thank you.”
Rubbing her jaw, Xena shrugged. “It was worth a shot.” Shifting her jaw back and forth.
“That's exactly what will happen if we try to escape.” Looking back at the pad, Gabrielle felt another sigh coming on. “And this was turning out to be such a nice vacation.”
“Don't worry, Gabrielle.” Wrapping her arm around the bard, Xena pulled her close. “We've survived worse circumstances.”
“Not for a couple of thousand years.” Tossing the pad again, Gabrielle let the sigh come out. “At least this time, my parent's actually like you.”
“Sorry, Grace. I can't this time. I'm going out of town myself.” Tossing a shirt in his suitcase, Jim went back to the closet.
“Then who's going to be minding the store?” Xena asked, tossing a shirt in her suitcase.
“Manny and Mary can hold down the fort.” Searching through his clothes, Jim sighed.
“Did you schedule this?” Watching Gabrielle pull the shirt out of the suitcase. “I like that one.”
“It's hideous.” Replacing the eye popping one with a dark blue shirt, Gabrielle smiled.
“You bought it for me.” Frowning as the bard walked away.
“It was supposed to be a joke.” Hanging up the atrocity in the closet.
“Grace.” Chuckling as he listened to the other conversation, Jim brought the warrior back to the topic at hand. “I hate to interrupt your marital bliss, but I've really got to get going.” Putting another shirt in the case and returning to the closet.
Glaring at the bard. “Maybe Helen can housesit.” Talking to both and getting one shrug and a chuckle.
“I think she's still in the witness protection program.” Smiling, Jim pulled out another shirt. He'd been brave enough to call about the bed and had already gotten a verbal butt chewing, where as Helen was still hiding.
“That reminds me. Faith call that police friend of your's and have Helen arrested for destruction of private property.” Trying to sneak the shirt out of the closet and getting her butt swatted for the effort. “Ow.”
“You're not taking that shirt.” Snatching it away from the warrior, Gabrielle tucked it under her arm. “Now get off the phone and call your father. We don't have all day.”
“Faith, Dad killed the fish the last time he housesat.” Xena heard laughter in her ear and growled. “What are you laughing at?” Turning her frustration on Jim.
“Must be genetic, cause so did you.” Going to her closet, Gabrielle started finding something of hers to pack.
“There's something funny on television.” Lying to cover his already chewed butt.
“You don't own a television.” Trying to grab the shirt away from the bard.
The bard's temper rose to the Greek zone. “Xena, if you don't get off that damn phone and call you father, I'm going to burn this stupid shirt.” Pulling the shirt away from the warrior, Gabrielle opened a window and threw it out. “Now get off the phone!”
“Gotta go, Jim.” Hanging up, Xena didn't hear the hysterical laughter echoing through the telephone wires. Walking over to the window, she waved at the shirt in the flower bed. “It was nice knowing ya.”
“Thanks for housesitting, Dad.” Watching her father-in-law toss her suitcase in the back of her truck, Gabrielle smiled.
“My pleasure, Faith.” Reaching down for another suitcase.
“Don't worry, honey. I won't let him kill anything this time.” Smiling, Mom ignored the side long glare. she was getting from her husband.
“We'd appreciate that.” Coming down the steps, Xena smiled at her father.
Dropping the suitcase, Dad turned to his daughter. “Shall I remind you how much it costs to re-sod a lawn, Grace?”
“Oh, my.” Turning around quickly, Xena winced. “I think I left something in the house.”
Gabrielle and Mom laughed as Xena bounded up the stairs and disappeared inside. “You are going to drive, aren't you Faith?” Mom asked.
“Absolutely.” Chuckling at Dad's frown.
“I don't know how we raised that menace.” Bending over, Dad picked up the suitcase again. “Drives like her ass is on fire.”
“Joseph, be nice.” Mom chided and winked at the bard. “I won't say where she gets it from.”
“Not me!” Tossing the case in the bed of the truck, Dad put his hands on his hips.
“And I guess she doesn't get her temper from you either?” Leaning on the post, Mom chuckled.
“She most certainly does not!” Kicking the dirt.
Gabrielle couldn't stand anymore and went inside, laughing.
“Is it safe?” Peeking her head out of the kitchen, Xena looked around.
“Not yet.” Glancing over her shoulder, Gabrielle smiled. “Give her another couple of minutes.”
Coming fully out of the kitchen, Xena held up a long rectangular case. “Can I take this?”
“What possible reason would you have to want to take your sword to a family reunion?” Folding her arms over her chest and raising an eyebrow.
“It's for your old boyfriends.” Smiling innocently.
“Xena, I don't have any old boyfriends, remember?” Waking over to the warrior, Gabrielle took the case. “We grew up together and you scared everyone off, before they got within a mile of me.” Setting the case down on the dinning table, she opened it and was not surprised to see an ugly, neon flower print shirt folded over Xena's sword.
“My! How did that get in there?” Grabbing the shirt, Xena tried to get a head start and took off at a run, through the kitchen.
“Come back here, you heathen. You're not taking that shirt.” Taking up the chase, Gabrielle followed Xena through the kitchen, out the back door and around the house.
“What on God's green earth?” Dad asked when the pair came running by.
“Xena! Give me that shirt.” Switching to Greek for the in-laws.
Waving the shirt like a banner, Xena ran on, keeping ahead of the bard, by a narrow margin.
“I think Grace also inherited you taste in clothes.” Laughing, Mom walked into the house before Dad could deny that too.
Finally, after a long chase, Xena gave in, but pouted her best pout and smiled when Gabrielle agreed to let her where the shirt for the long ride, stating that the bright colors should help keep her awake.
Hanging her head out the window of the truck, Xena let the wind blow through her hair. “I love a good road trip.”
“If a bug comes along and puts your eye out, I'm gonna laugh at you.” Shaking her head at the warrior.
Ducking back inside the cab, Xena gave the bard a strange look. “I thought I left my mother at our house.”
“Sorry.” Resting her head on her hand, Gabrielle stared at the highway. “I guess I'm not really looking forward to this reunion.”
“Then why are we going?” Shifting to get comfortable, Xena put her hand on the bard's shoulder. “We can turn around. You can give them the excuse of being married to a doctor again.”
“I think after six years, they're starting to catch on.” Smiling, letting the thought bounce around her head a couple of times, then sighing. “Besides, everybody knows you're not working right now.”
“Oh, yea. I forgot.” Looking out the windshield, she frowned. “I still hate to think you're gonna be miserable the whole time we're there.”
“You'll perk up the place.” Smiling, Gabrielle leaned over and slapped the warrior's thigh.
“Well, if all else fails, I can wear this shirt and they'll send us home.” Smiling as the bard rolled her eyes.
“I don't know where I'd be without you, Xena.” Smiling warmly at the love of her lifetimes.
“Probably married to some lug with a dozen kids running around.” Unbuckling her seat belt, Xena scooted over and buckled herself in the center seat and leaned against the bard.
Resting her hand on the warrior's thigh, Gabrielle chuckled with the vision. “Wouldn't be the first time.”
Raising her eyebrows, Xena gave the bard a surprised look. “Are you calling me a lug?”
“No, I was just thinking of how many children we've had over the years.” Rubbing the thigh. “I think we're up to a dozen.”
Counting on her fingers, Xena thought. “Fourteen, actually.”
“Fourteen?” Staring out the windshield, Gabrielle did her own math. “I only count twelve.”
“Don't forget Solan and Hope.” Putting her arm over the back of the seat, Xena let old memories hold her thoughts for a moment, then smiled. “They weren't ours, together, but they count.”
“Right. I forgot.” Smiling as well, Gabrielle turned on the radio.
Xena turned it off. “Let's just sit for a while and enjoy the scenery.” Staring out the windshield.
“Are you on something?” Giving the warrior a curious stare.
“No.” Looking at the bard. “I'm just thinking.”
“About what?” Keeping one eye on the road and the other on Xena.
“I miss our kids.” Smiling, Xena nudged the bard. “They were a lot of fun.”
“You mean when they weren't trying to tear up everything in sight?” Remembering days gone by and the terror's they'd created. “Well, not all of them, but most of them.”
“Just mine, right?” Knowing where the bard was leading.
“Of course. The nice ones were mine.” Grinning from ear to ear, when the warrior pulled her ear. “Okay. Some of the rotten ones were mine too.”
“They weren't rotten, just energetic.” Chuckling.
“Yea. Like piss ants on a hot plate.” Remembering certain children and their energy level. Shaking her head, Gabrielle sighed. “I wonder what they're doing right now.”
“Gabrielle, they are all probably dead by now. We haven't had children for over a hundred years.” Sighing, thinking of how they'd been taken away from their families.
“But they had children.” Leaning into the warrior, Gabrielle sighed again. “I wonder where they are?”
“Don't know. With all the havoc of the last century, they could be anywhere.” Thinking of something, Xena glanced at the bard. “Do you want to find them?”
“Not really.” Shrugging. “I was just wondering where they were and what they were up to.”
“Do you miss not having children?” Almost believing the bard.
“Occasionally, but not very often.” Smiling, she turned to Xena. “Besides, I've already got one really big one.”
“You're lucky you're driving, Missy.” Poking the bard in the side and laughing when the truck swerved. “If Dad could see you now.”
“Keep your fingers to yourself and I'll keep the truck on the road.” Smiling, Gabrielle made another swerve, just for fun.
“Is that a proposition?” Flicking her eyebrows, Xena winked.
“Not unless you're ready for another body.” Chuckling.
“Ooooo. What a dilemma.” Putting her finger on her chin, Xena rolled her eyes. “No. I'm happy with this one.” Squeezing the bard's shoulder.
“Glad to hear it.” Leaning forward, Gabrielle switched on the radio and this time Xena left it on and the both started singing.
“Well, this is our last night together.” Smiling, Xena started unbuttoning her neon shirt and putting on a sultry smile.
Sitting on the hotel bed, Gabrielle looked up from her book. “What?”
“Are you trying to ruin my seduction?” Letting her hands drop to her sides.
Chuckling, Gabrielle closed her book and put it on the nightstand. “I'm sorry. Go ahead.”
“Never mind.” Plopping down on the foot of the bed, Xena laid back. “I'm not in the mood anymore.”
Smiling, Gabrielle scooted up and put her hand on the warrior's forehead. “Are you feeling well?'
“Actually, this was a decoy.” Rolling over quickly, Xena grabbed the bard and kissed her passionately. “I've got you now.”
Laughing, Gabrielle put forth a half hearted struggle. “Help. Help.” Whispering and laughing.
“There's no escape. You're mine, wench.” Trying to keep a straight face, Xena buried her's in the bard's neck and started sucking.
“Xena.” Pushing harder on the warrior, Gabrielle eyes grew wide. “Don't you dare give me a hickey.”
“Too late.” Holding the bard tight, Xena sucked harder. “I hope you brought a turtleneck.”
“Xena!” Struggling harder, Gabrielle tried to disengage the warrior. “Xena!”
Laughing, Xena released the bard and watched her jump up off the bed. “Don't worry, you can cover it up with a little make-up.”
Staring in the mirror, Gabrielle glared at the warrior then went back to inspecting the red mark on her neck. “Damn it, Xena.” Shaking her head and sighing, she looked at the smile, reflected her way. “This isn't funny. My mother will have a field day with this.” Covering the mark with her hand, she rubbed it. “Gods, I can hear her now.”
“I can't believe you came here with something like that for everyone to see.” Doing a good imitation of her mother-in-law, Xena got to her feet and moved to stand behind the bard. Removing Gabrielle's hand, she leaned down and kissed the hickey. “Don't you have any regard for what people think?” Wrapping her arms around the bard's waist, Xena smiled. “Is that about right?” Looking at the bard's smirk in the mirror.
“You left out the part of me having no shame.” Leaning into the warrior.
“Well she should already know that one.” Nibbling on her bard's ear, Xena whispered. “You married me, didn't you. That should've been a dead give away.”
Chuckling, Gabrielle turned in the warrior's arms. “You're the one good thing she thinks I've done with my life?” Threading her arms through Xena's, she rested her on the warrior's chest. “I married a doctor.”
“That is hardly the best thing you've done with your life, Gabrielle.” Putting her chin on the bard's head. “It's the best thing that's happened in my life, but it hardly qualifies as the pinnacle of your existence.”
Smiling, Gabrielle looked up. “Apparently, you haven't heard her version of the story.”
“Apparently she hasn't heard mine.” Kissing the bard's forehead, Xena smiled.
“Well, well. If it isn't the brain damaged and the brat.” Smiling, Greg gave his sister a hug.
Gabrielle slapped her brother's butt and pulled away laughing. “Just tell me how you really feel.”
Chuckling, Xena hugged her brother-in-law. “Brain damage has it's advantages.” Stepping back, her brow knitted and she smiled. “Who are you again?”
“I'm the hansom, charming, smart one.” Chuckling, Greg winked.
“She's brain damaged, Greg, not blind.” Looking around the house.
“Speaking of blind.” Smirking, Greg nudged the bard. “What's that on your neck.”
Snapping her head back, Gabrielle put her hand over the red spot. “Spider bite.”
“Hickey.” Laughing, Xena hid behind Greg as the bard swung at her. “Faith has got a hickey. Faith has got a hickey.” Chanting with childlike amusement.
“Shut up!” Looking around wildly, Gabrielle hoped her mother wasn't in the house. “It's a spider bite.”
“Faith has got a hickey.”
“Wait till Mom sees that.” Stepping from in front of the warrior, Greg shook his head.
“Grace, if you don't shut up, I'm gonna smack you. This is all your fault.” Rubbing her neck, Gabrielle sneered and switched to Greek. “Xena, that shirt, you love so much, is going up in flames if you don't shut up.”
Xena shut up.
“I hate it when you, two do that.” Looking between his sister and the warrior. “It gives me the creeps.'
“That's the point.” Smiling at Greg, Xena flicked her eyebrows and lowered her voice to a sultry tone. “I'll tell you what she said later.”
“Never mind.” Taking a step back and holding up his hands, Greg shook his head. “I don't want to know.”
“So, where's Mom and Dad?” Trying to act nonchalant, Gabrielle walked over to the couch and plopped down, still holding her hand to her neck.
Laughing, Greg took the seat beside his sister. “You can put your hand down. They aren't here.”
Gabrielle sighed heavily and put her hands in her lap. “Thank you.” Looking skyward, then at the warrior. “And just what are you laughing at?”
“I'll tell you later.” Chuckling at the bard and Greg, Xena sat down in a chair.
Greg and Gabrielle gave the warrior a strange look, but decided to let whatever evil thing was running through her head go, for now. “So what's the plan?” Gabrielle asked, still starting at Xena.
“I'm supposed to convince you that staying in a hotel would be hazardous to your health and then get you settled into your old room.” Smiling, Greg put his hands behind his head.
“They left you with that job?” Giving her brother a pop in the stomach, the bard smiled. “You're moving up in the world. Usually Mom saves that one for herself.”
“Well it was a tough decision for her.” Laughing with the memory. “She either had to leave me here or let me help Dad, Barb and Karen with the decorations.”
“Lesser of two evils.” Xena added when everybody started laughing.
“I guess being color blind has it's advantages.” Winking at the warrior, Greg got up.
“Tell me you don't still have them convinced you're color blind.” Gabrielle closed her eyes and shook her head.
“Yep.” Grabbing his sister's arm, Greg hauled the bard to her feet. “Why do you think I keep giving them those ugly sweaters at Christmas? It keeps me from getting all the crummy jobs, like picking out curtains and shopping.”
“You're right, Greg. You are the smart one.” Getting up as well, Xena slapped him on the back. “You're not as dumb as you look.”
“The feeling's mutual.” Greg laughed and punched the warrior's arm, which got him a healthy punch back.
“Okay, you two.” Stepping in before the brawl ensued, Gabrielle spaced the combatants out. “Stop that.”
Taking another swat, Xena relented. “Snot.”
“Putz.” Backing off, Greg smiled. “Well what's it going to be? Death or your room?”
“Tough choice.” Walking over to the luggage, Xena picked up two suitcases.
Rolling her eyes, Gabrielle went to the warrior and picked up her backpack and the sword case. “Follow me to the twin bed express.” Sighing, she led the way to her old bedroom.
“Damn. I was hoping for a good fight.” Following the leader, Greg picked up the rest of the stuff and smirked down the hall. “She must be getting soft, in her old age.” He whispered to the warrior.
“I heard that.” Gabrielle frowned, but kept going.
Xena played it safe and kept her mouth shut.
After they'd gotten settled in, which consisted of putting their suitcases down and staring at the twin beds, with much displeasure, for about three minutes, Gabrielle and Xena were then shuttled off to the hall to help with the efforts of getting the preparations ready for the festivities.
“There they are.” Spotting her daughter and the warrior, Gabrielle's mother left her decorations and walked to meet the couple.
“It's about time you got here.” Barb said to Greg, as he popped his head in the door.
“Tell me about it.” Karen said, smiling and joined her mother.
“I'm not here.” He smiled and tried to duck back out, but was captured by the bard and warrior and hauled into the room.
Walking over to her husband, Barb gave his astonished face a kiss. “You're on tape duty.” Handing him a roll of masking tape and pointing him in the direction of his assignment. “No color vision required.” Smirking, she patted his fanny, when he gave her a ‘you promised not to tell' look.
“Just when you thought it was safe.” Karen chuckled as the couple walked off. Turning back to her sister and the warrior, she smiled. “How was the trip?”
“Grace drove me crazy.” Gabrielle shoved her partner.
“That's what she pays me to do.” Pointing at her sister-in-law. “How do you think we could afford the house.”
“Liar.” Chuckling, Karen gave the warrior a hug. “But it is an interesting prospect.”
“Okay, okay.” Pulling the women apart, Gabrielle stood in front of Xena. “The last thing Grace needs is encouragement.”
Xena made a face, which make Karen laugh and got the warrior a elbow to the ribs.
Pulling her sister into a hug, Karen mussed up the bard's hair.
“Stop that.” Stepping quickly away, Gabrielle tried to straighten her hair.
“Grace! It's so good to see you.” Tired of waiting her turn, Mom stepped between the bard and Xena, giving the larger woman a big hug. Turning to Gabrielle, she smiled and hugged her daughter, then stepped back and pointed at Gabrielle's neck. “Faith, what is that on your neck?” Spotting the hickey with an eagle eye.
“Spider bite.” Xena said before the bard could open her mouth and gave Gabrielle a wink. “It happened last night. She's lucky I was there.”
Karen leaned in, but didn't say anything and covered her mouth to hide the smile. Looking at the warrior, she raised her eyebrows.
Relieved and ignoring her sister, Gabrielle nodded her head. “Grace saved the day and sucked the venom out.” Smiling when the warrior coughed heartily.
“Looks like a hickey to me.” Greg said from across the room, which was the safest distance to make the comment from, since he was being stared at menacingly. Turning, he nudged his wife and they both laughed.
That was too much for Karen to take and she walked away before she got hit.
Bringing her eyes back from the slits they'd become, Gabrielle smiled innocently and changed the subject. “So where do you need us to start?”
Uncertain, as to what was going on between her children, Mom decided to let the subject go, for now. “You can start over there.” Pointing to a large stack of folded chairs. “Line them up in rows by the stage.”
“We're all over it.” Xena smile, grabbing the bard and pulling her behind her.
“Grace is a woman of action.” Shrugging her shoulders at her mothers surprised expression.
“But . . .” Mom stared for a moment, then went back to what to her decorations.
“What was that all about?” Gabrielle whispered, picking up a chair.
“I didn't want to get stuck with your mother.” Smiling at the woman in question.
“Come on, Xena.” Setting down a chair. “She likes you.”
“”That's the problem.” Unfolding a chair.
“Okay, you lost me.” Going for another chair, Gabrielle shook her head.
Lowering her voice, although they were already speaking in Greek. “Haven't you ever noticed that when I'm around that she shows me off like some prize?”
“She's proud of you.” Winking at the warrior. “So am I.”
“Yea, but shouldn't she be proud of you?” Picking up a chair, Xena held it for a moment. “She's your mother, not mine.”
“Xena, if she wants to show you off, let her.” Shrugging. “It doesn't bother me.”
“Well, it bothers me.” Unfolding the chair, Xena frowned.
“Look.” Putting her chair aside, Gabrielle rubbed the warrior's arm. “I know that my mother's opinion of me isn't exactly stellar. She probably wanted me to be president or something, but that's her problem.” Picking up the chair again. “I'm happy with what I do and that's the only thing that really matters. Right?”
“Maybe.” Moving to another chair, Xena frowned at it, then looked at the bard. “Are you really happy, Gabrielle?”
“Honestly?” Putting her chair down, Gabrielle gave the warrior a serious look.
“Yes.” Leaning on the folded chair.
Smiling, she put her chair back in the stack and snatched the warrior's making Xena stumble. “I'm very happy.”
Recovering, Xena tried to snatch her chair back, but got a smacked hand. Laughing, she picked up another chair, unfolded it and bumped the bard out of the way. “I'm happy too.” Pushing the bard back, she grabbed another chair, laughing.
“Hey, that reminds me. What was so funny?” Gabrielle asked, lining up a chair.
“When?” Putting hers beside the bards, Xena picked up another one and unfolded it.
“At the house. You said you'd tell me later.” Picking up another chair.
“Oh, that.” Chuckling, Xena put the chair down and smiled. “I was thinking how much you two look alike.” Nodding in Greg's direction.
Following the warrior's nod, Gabrielle looked at her brother. Her face contorted into an expression of being lost and looked back at the warrior. “We're twins, Xena. We're supposed to look alike.”
“Gabrielle, that body you're in, isn't in their gene pool.” Unfolding another chair.
Gabrielle's brow knitted and she looked down at herself then back at her brother. “Wow. I never thought of that.” Looking at the rest of her immediate family, she noticed the resemblance among them. They were all blonde, somewhat vertically challenged, except for her father and had, for the most part, a similar build. “That's weird.”
“I know.” Whispering in the bard's ear. “I think TPTB did a little gene shuffling, to cover their tracks.”
Laughing, Gabrielle turned to the warrior. “That would explain why you're so much like your father.”
“I am not.” Frowning.
“I rest my case.” Chuckling, Gabrielle picked up another chair. “I guess they would consider your family paybacks for that fit you threw.”
“I did not throw a fit.” Standing up straight, Xena huffed. “I was simply explaining my displeasure with the way we were being treated.”
“You were throwing vases at them, Xena.” Smiling, she took the warrior's hand. “And would've thrown furniture, if you hadn't been too old to pick them up.”
Switching from frown to pout, Xena sat down in one of the chairs. “I didn't want to go through another life without you.”
Bending over, Gabrielle kissed the pout. “I know.” Smiling, she played with the warrior's bottom lip. “You're always getting your way, aren't you, warrior princess?”
“Xena, Warrior Princess, defender of the greater good and thrower of vases.” Smiling, Xena pulled Gabrielle onto her lap. “Champion of the Queen of the Amazons and bard extrodinaire.” Kissing the bard, she felt Gabrielle chuckling in her grasp. “Lover of the most beautiful woman in the world and the luckiest warrior in every lifetime.”
Smiling, Gabrielle swam in the blue eyes, twinkling at her. “I think you're gonna have to take runner up on the luckiest part.” Wrapping her arms around Xena's neck, she brought her lips to the warriors and kissed them with the love of a thousand lifetimes.
“Okay!” Greg shouted and pointed at the couple making out. “Who called for the sex break and didn't tell me.”
“Gregory Paul Riley!” Mom said in a motherly fashion. “You watch your mouth.”
Dad and Barb laughed as the couple turned beet red and got up.
“Don't worry, honey.” Walking to her husband, Barb wrapped her arm around his waist. “You'll get your's later.”
“No body told me I was supposed to bring a date.” In mock anger, Karen put her hands on her hips.
“That's enough.” Mom put her hands on her hips and looked at her children with disgust. “I won't have you ruining this reunion with your shenanagins.”
“Oooo. That hurt.” Xena whispered.
“Careful, she's got bat ears.” Gabrielle whispered back as her eyes grew wide, when her mother turned in her direction.
“Grace, you come over here and help me with the tables.” Giving her daughter a raised eyebrow, Mom waved the warrior away from the bard.
“Looks like the party's over.” Sighing, Xena whispered. “Do you want me to bump her off?”
“And ruin all the fun?” Shaking her head, she gave the warrior a shove. “Go and be nice.”
“I don't make promises I can't keep.” Stealing a kiss, Xena smiled and walked over to the torture section of the room.
Sighing, Gabrielle went back to her chairs. “I just love family reunions. They bring out the best in everyone.”
“I heard that.” Mom said, over her shoulder.
Cringing, Gabrielle kept silent and picked up a chair. If anyone tells me I take after my mother, she thought, I'm gonna kill them.
Opening her eyes, Xena looked around the darkened room. Listening carefully, she smiled and pulled back the covers. Swinging her legs over, she got up silently and crept to where the bard was sleeping. “Hey!” Whispering, she poked the bard's shoulder. “You asleep?”
“Go away.” Gabrielle mumbled.
“Want some company?” Squatting down, Xena watched the bard roll over and flicked her eyebrows in the darkness.
“And suffer the wrath of my mother, no thank you.” Pushing the smiling face away.
“Come on, Gabrielle.” Kissing the hand on her face. “She'll never know the difference.”
“Yea, right.” Retracting her hand, when it was licked, she wiped it on the warrior's shirt. “She'll know.”
“We'll be quiet?” Putting on her best smile.
“Xena. You don't do quiet.” Closing her eyes and hoping the warrior would go away, she was disappointed when she felt a hand creeping up the side of her neck. “Go away.” Slapping the hand.
Standing, Xena frowned, then turned back to her bed and gave it a wry look.
Opening one eye, Gabrielle watched the warrior and smiled. “Don't even think about it, Xena. They'll hear you moving it and come in here and beat us senseless.” Opening the other eye, when Xena turned to face her, she chuckled. “It's only for a couple of nights. You won't die from it.”
“It's too short.” Pointing at the foot of the bed. “My feet hang off the end.”
“Would you rather sleep on the couch?” Tucking her arm under her head, Gabrielle smirked.
“I'd rather sleep with you.” Pouting her best pout.
Rolling her eyes, Gabrielle held up her blanket and laughed when the warrior jumped in. “I don't know why I let you get away with that pout.” Moving over a bit.
“Because you love me.” Turning on her side, Xena snuggled close, wrapping her arm around the bard.
“I guess there are worse fates in life.” Pulling the covers over her shoulder, Gabrielle felt a hand starting to wander. “Xena.”
“You move that hand any further south and you're going to be sleeping outside, with the dog.” Feeling the hand return to it's original position, she smiled. “Now go to sleep.”
Closing her eyes, Xena kissed the bard's neck. “Good night, Gabrielle.”
“Good night, Xena.” Closing her eyes as well, Gabrielle took the wandering hand in hers, for good measure.
The next day broke bright and sunny and Xena got back into her bed five seconds before Mom knocked on the door.
“Come in.” Gabrielle yawned. Sitting up she stretched.
Opening the door, Mom came in. “So, did everybody get a good night's sleep.”
“Slept like a baby.” Smiling, Xena sat up and cracked her neck.
“Good.” Looking down, Mom rolled her eyes and picked up the clothes off the floor. “Still leaving you clothes lying around?” Giving Gabrielle an admonishing glance.
“Those are probably mine.” Xena piped in. “I do that all the time. Faith is trying to break me of the habit, but she hasn't succeeded yet.” Smiling innocently.
“Well, that's all right Grace.” Putting the clothes in a chair, Mom smiled at the warrior. “Breakfast will be ready soon, so don't take too long.”
“Can't wait.” Xena rubbed her tummy.
“Good. I'll see you downstairs.” Closing the door, Mom left.
“I'm trying to break you of the habit?” Getting out of bed, Gabrielle gave the warrior a strange look.
“So you cured me a thousand years ago, who cares.” Getting up as well, Xena picked up her suit case.
“Xena.” Grabbing the warrior's arm, the bard spun her around. “What the hell are you doing?”
“I was going to get dressed.” Tossing the case on her bed.
“Don't play stupid with me.” Feeling her temper rising. “You don't have to defend me to my mother.”
“No, Xena.” Putting her hands on her hips, Gabrielle glared. “You're always complain that she treats me like a child and you're doing the same thing.”
“Whoa.” Holding up her hands, Xena shook her head. “I've never treated you like a child and it's my job to defend you. Mother or no.”
“Xena.” Folding her arms across her chest.
“Gabrielle, I'm willing to put up with this whole reunion stuff, because I love you with all my heart and soul, but if you think I'm going to stand around an let anybody put you down, you've got another think coming. End of discussion.” Turning away, Xena missed the smile on the bard's face.
“The Warrior Princess returns?” Picking up her own suitcase and tossing it on the bed.
“And they'd better listen.” Pulling out a shirt, she shook it out. “Mess with my wife, I don't think so.”
Laughing, Gabrielle sat down on the bed. “Xena, promise me something.”
“What?” Putting the shirt aside, Xena turned to the bard.
“Don't take your sword to breakfast.” Chuckling, Gabrielle winked.
“We'll see.” Smirking, she turned back to the job of getting dressed.
After breakfast, Greg and Barb arrived and everybody went about the business of getting ready for the reunion. Packing up what they needed, the family went to the hall and started setting up the food as relatives started arriving. Several hours later, the hall was about half full and more people were still coming in.
“How many relatives do you have?” Glancing around at the crowded of people, Xena's brow knitted.
“This is just the prelim's” Greg shrugged. “It's a warm up for the fun ahead.”
“A lot.” Karen spoke up and took a seat next to the warrior. “They come out of the wood work.”
“And out from underneath rocks.” Chuckling, Greg gave his the bard a smile.
“They aren't.” Gabrielle closed her eyes.
“Aren't what? Who?” Xena looked between the twins and then at Karen.
“Greg's talking about our cousins.” Shaking her head, Karen stuck out her tongue.
“The brat pack.” Nodding, Greg sighed. “They're from Mom's side of the family and are the most obnoxious people you will ever meet.”
Frowning, Xena looked at the bard. “Faith.”
“You know your cousins from California?” Gabrielle smiled.
“Gag.” Grimacing, Xena's eyes got big. “They aren't that bad, are they?”
“About ten times worse.” Nodding, the bard sighed.
“No body can be that bad.” Shaking her head in disbelief, knowing her own cousins.
“Just wait.” Patting the warrior's shoulder, Greg smiled.
“Don't worry.” Karen snickered. “They usually just show up, show off, annoy everyone and leave.”
“If we're lucky.” Gabrielle whispered, taking a sip of her punch.
Xena looked at the bard and frowned. Moving next to the bard, she started taking a closer look at the crowd and then her eyes bugged out of her head. “Faith.” Whispering and tugging on the bard's sleeve.
“What?” Glancing up at the warrior and trying not to spill her punch.
“Am I going blind, or is that Jim?” Pointing to someone who looked like her assistant.
Standing on her tip toes, Gabrielle scanned the room and then bugged her eyes out. “That is Jim. What's he doing here?”
“Lets go find out.” Taking the bard by the arm, Xena weaved them through the crowd. “Jim.” Waving, she jumped up once. “Jim.”
Jim turned around and did his imitation of a bug. “Grace?” Coming to the warrior. “What are you doing here.” Shaking the warrior's hand then the bard's. “Faith.”
“We were just going to ask you the same question.” Gabrielle smiled.
“Yea, butt head. What's the scoop?” Smiling at the man.
“I'm here for the reunion.” Putting his cup on a table, Jim put his hands on his hips. “Why are you here?”
“Ditto.” Wrapping her arm around the bard's shoulder, Xena pulled her close. “We belong here.”
“Grace.” Pushing the warrior away, she rolled her eyes. “I think what she's trying to say, is that this is my family reunion.” Pointing at her parents. “That's my Mom and Dad.”
“Riley!” Smacking his forehead, Jim shook his head. “I never made the connection.”
“Little wonder.” Smiling, Xena got an elbow and frowned. “That's not what I mean.” Glaring at the bard. “We haven't been to one of these things in six years.”
“Oh, sorry.” Taking an innocent pose, Gabrielle turned back to Jim. “So who are you with?”
“My parents.” Pointing to a couple across the room. “Well they aren't actually my real parents.” Looking back at the bard and warrior, who were looking quite confused, he smiled. “My real parent's died when I was four. Those are my foster parents. The Harris's.”
“Oh.” Smiling sadly, Xena nodded. “Then Harris isn't your real name?”
“No. I took their last name when I turned eighteen.” Smiling, Jim eyes grew warm. “They treated me just like their own son and I felt like they were my own parents.”
“That's nice.” Gabrielle leaned into the warrior.
“Jeb!” Someone shouted and Jim turned his head and waved.
“Dave.” Smiling at his foster brother. “Come here.”
“Jeb?” Smirking, Xena gave Jim a curious look.
“It's what my brothers and sisters call me. It's the initials of my real name. James Elias Buchanan the fifth.” Bowing, Jim missed the fact that Gabrielle almost fell on the floor.
“Say that again.” Holding the bard, trying to keep her upright, Xena tried to smile.
“James Elias Buchanan the fifth.” Smiling shyly. “I know. It's the fifth thing.”
“Can you excuse us, Jim.” Still working on the smile, Xena wondered how much longer she could hold James Elias Buchanan the first on her feet. “I think we're gonna mingle.”
“Sure.” Frowning. “I'll catch up with you later.”
“You got it.” Walking away, the warrior managed to get Gabrielle to a seat, before she passed out. “Breath, Gabrielle. Breath.”
“Xena.” Suffering from an oxygen deficiency, Gabrielle whispered.
“Well you wanted to know where our kids were.” Taking the bard's hand. “Now you know.”
“He can't be.” Stunned being an understatement, the bard took a deep breath.
“Gabrielle.” Shaking her head, Xena smiled. “We named our son after you and he named his son after himself. That makes three James Elias Buchanan's. You do the math.”
“By the gods.” Closing her eyes, she covered her face.
“Nope. Can't blame them this time.” Leaning back in the chair, the warrior glanced around and spotted her great, great, great, great, grandson. “This is kind of weird though.”
“Weird!” Staring wide eyed at the warrior. “This is beyond weird.”
“Come on, Gabrielle. There are probably thousands of our descendants running around the world.” Shrugging. “We were bound to run into one of them, soon or later.”
“I can't believe you're taking this so calmly.” Shifting to face the warrior. “That is our son.”
“A few times removed.” Leaning over, Xena gave the bard a quick kiss. “Now I know where he get's his good looks from.”
“Yea and I know where he get's his smart mouth.” Rolling her eyes, Gabrielle sighed. “This is just so bizarre.” Shaking her head again.
Standing, Xena held out her hand. “Come on. Let's go get reacquainted.”
“I don't know.” Biting her lip.
“You know you're curious.” Grabbing the bard's hand and hauling her to her feet. “That bard thing will kick in in a minute. Trust me.”
Xena drug Gabrielle over to where Jim was standing and sure enough, her bardic inquisitiveness kicked in and Xena smiled when Gabrielle started pumping him for information. Unfortunately, about that same time, the bard's Mom got a hold of her and drug her off to meet someone she didn't give a hoot about. Several hours later, Xena found herself in the middle of a small crowd telling them, for the hundredth time, the stories of life as a surgeon.
“Hey Faith.” Tapping the bard on the shoulder, Greg scooted around the other side and stood there smiling.
Gabrielle looked one way, then rolled her eyes and turned to her brother. “Hi.”
“Are we having fun yet?” Chuckling at his sisters twisted expression. “Guess not.”
“I was until Mom grabbed Grace.” Pointing at the warrior. “I haven't been able to get close to her for an hour.”
“Yea.” Craning his neck. “Looks like Mom's got the good doctor up on a pedestal, again.” Laughing, he jabbed the bard. “I guess it'll be another six years before you come to another reunion.'
“If ever.” Nodding in agreement and sighing.
“Maybe if we go together, we can rescue her.” Flicking his eyebrows as a dare.
“I know that look.” Karen said, walking over. “What are you two up to?”
“We're planning an escape for Grace.” Greg smiled. “Wanna come?”
Glancing at the warrior, Karen spotted her mother. “Looks like Mom's got her locked up.”
“That just means it'll be more fun.” Giving his other sister the eyebrow dare.
“Faith?” Karen nudged the bard.
“Karen, you take point.” Pointing at a path through the crowd. “Greg you distract Mom.”
“Yes.” Tugging an invisible horn, Greg set out on his mission.
Waiting for her brother to make his move, Gabrielle gave her sister a gentle push when the coast was clear. “Go.” Giving Karen a head start, the bard followed behind, her eyes focused on the warrior.
“Hey, short stuff.” A tall cousin said, stepping into the bard's path.
Stopping, Gabrielle looked up and sneered. “Kyle. What rock did you crawl out from under.” Rolling her eyes, she tried to go around him, but he grabbed her arm, spinning her around.
“You act like you're not happy to see me.” Holding onto the bard.
“Go with that thought.” Trying to pull away. “You wanna let go.”
“Come on, shorty.” Wrapping his arm around Gabrielle's shoulder, Kyle gave her a hug. “You know you miss me.”
“Yea. Like a rash.” Struggling out of his grasp, she pulled her arm away.
Not taking the hint, Kyle grabbed her arm again, with a tighter grip.
Feeling her temper rise, Gabrielle took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Kyle,” she said softly, “if you don't let go of my arm, I'm gonna . . .”
“You're gonna what?” Putting the bard in a head lock, Kyle rubbed his knuckles on the top of her head. “Come on, shorty. What you gonna do?”
“Kyle!” Jim shouted as he came over. “What the hell do you think you're doing?” Grabbing Kyle's wrist, Jim pried the bullies arm from around Gabrielle's neck.
“Get off me, punk.” Taking his arm back, Kyle kept his hold on Gabrielle and pushed Jim. “Go find some body who needs a band aid.”
“I guess that would be you.” Xena said, wrapping her hand around the hand that held Gabrielle and squeezing.
“What the?” Forced to let go of the bard, Kyle growled at the warrior, then was surprised to find himself slowly kneeling as the bones in his wrist started making noises. “Mom!”
Jim grabbed Gabrielle and put her behind him. “You all right?” Speaking over his shoulder.
“Yea.” Rubbing her arm, Gabrielle moved from behind her wall. “Grace, let him go.”
“What's going on here?” Gabrielle's Mom asked, coming to the place where everyone was looking. “Grace! What are you doing?” Moving to the warrior's side.
“Playing.” Twisting her wrist, Xena make Kyle whimper. “Isn't that right, Kyle?”
“Grace.” Stepping between her mother and Xena, Gabrielle put her hand on the warrior's arm. “Let him go.”
Greg, Barb, Karen and Dad joined the circle and smiled at what they saw.
“Kyle!” Kyle's Mom shouted when she finally made it to the fun. “What's happening here?” Moving toward the warrior.
Gabrielle cut her off at the pass. “I'll handle this.” Turning back to the warrior, Gabrielle switched to Greek. “Xena.” Touching the warrior's shoulder. “Let him go. He isn't worth the trouble.”
Looking at the bard, Xena frowned then let go. Stepping back, she put a protective arm in front of the bard.
Kyle glared at the pair and got to his feet. Cradling his wrist, he moved to his mother's side. “You'll pay for this, shorty.”
Grabbing Xena's arm, before she could take a step, Gabrielle smiled. “Always glad to see you, too, Kyle.”
“Faith!” Her mother admonished. “What did you do to him?”
“It's not her fault.” Stepping in, Jim pointed at Kyle. “He was being his usual obnoxious self and put her in a head lock.”
“I was only joking around.” Looking from his mother to the bard's mother, Kyle whined.
“Joyce, this is your fault.” Wrapping her arm around her son, Kyle's mother pointed at the bard's mother. “Your daughter is always stirring up trouble.”
“Fran!” Gabrielle's mom looked aghast.
“You better back that wagon up, honey.” Xena said, turning to Fran.
“Grace.” Gabrielle whispered.
“Not this time, Faith.” Pushing the bard to the side, Xena stepped toward Fran. “I've had about enough of you and your thug for a son.”
“Grace!” Joyce moved from aghast to mortified.
“You're next on my list, Mom.” Glancing over her shoulder, Xena turned back to the thug and his mother. “I don't know what branch of this family tree you fell off of, but let me tell you something, honey. If I ever catch you or anyone else from your little piss ant, Neanderthalistic family within twenty miles of my wife, I'm going to make you wish you'd stayed underneath the rock you crawled out from under and if that boy of yours ever touches Faith again, I'll rip out his heart and shove it down his throat. Do I make myself clear?”
“I don't know who you think you are . . .” Fran started, but shut up when Xena took another step toward her.
“I'm the one giving you five minutes to leave, before I kick you ass out.” Rising to her full height, Xena looked down on Fran with all the power of the warrior princess. “Now move.” Whispering.
Looking around for support, but finding only smiling and smirking faces, Fran huffed and pulled Kyle back. “See if I ever come to another reunion.” Turning, she made her way down a opening aisle of family members.
Waiting until they were out of sight, Xena turned to her mother-in-law. “And you.” Taking a step in her direction, the warrior was cut off by the bard.
“Xena.” Putting her hands on the warrior's chest, Gabrielle spoke softly in Greek. “Don't do this.”
“I hate it when they do that.” Greg whispered and watched the heads around him nod in agreement.
Xena looked down at the bard and smiled. “Do you trust me?”
“With my life, but I'd prefer if you left this one alone.” Shaking her head.
“Do you trust me?” Taking the bard's chin in her hand, Xena looked deep into green eyes.
Closing her eyes, Gabrielle sighed. “Yes.”
“Then move.” Giving the bard a gentle shove, Xena stepped to her mother-in-law. “Joyce.” Smiling, Xena put her hands on her hips.
“Grace?” Looking at the warrior, she smiled back.
“I know that you love Faith and I know that you care about her, right?” Nodding in the bard's direction.
“Of course.” Shrugging, Joyce was missing all the warning signs.
“Then can you please explain to me how you always seem to assume that she's the one to blame for everything.” Tapping her foot and not giving Mom a chance to answer. “Because, you see, I've noticed this nasty habit you have of treating her like she's five years old and to be honest, it's really starting to get on my nerves.”
Caught in the steely blue headlights, Gabrielle's mother stood silent.
“In case you haven't noticed, Mom, Faith happens to be a grown woman.” Pointing to the bard, in question. “And she just also happens to be the most kind, caring and compassionate person I know and have the greatest good fortune of being married to. And she also happens to be one of the best teachers in the country and if it wasn't for her loyalty to me, she'd be the head of the history department at one of the finest universities in this nation, because despite what you may think of her profession, Mom, she happens to be very sought after for her talent.” Folding her arms across her chest, Xena gave Joyce a indignant stare. “In fact, the only person who can't seem to see her for the loving, talented and wonderful woman that she is, is you.”
All the eyes that had been glued to the warrior, turned to Joyce, who stammered a bit, then lowered her gaze.
“Xena.” Gabrielle whispered, taking the warrior's arm.
Turning her attention away from Mom, Xena looked at the bard. “Don't worry, I'm done.” Whispering, she unfolded her arms and took the bard into them, kissing Gabrielle's forehead.
Smiling, Gabrielle stepped out of the warrior's embrace and went to her mother. “Mom?”
Still staring at the floor, Mom shook her head. “I'm sorry, Faith.”
“I know, Mom.” Sighing, Gabrielle wrapped her arms around her mother. “I love you.”
Lifting her gaze, Mom looked at the bard and smiled. “I love you, too.” Taking her daughter into a loving hug.
High fives broke out amongst the Riley's and several hearty pats on the back went to the warrior. Dad even shook Xena's hand and gave her a wink, then went to join his wife and daughter.
“Good job, Grace.” Jim smiled.
Smiling back, Xena slapped him in the back of the head. “Thanks for stepping in.”
“It was nothing.” Rubbing the back of his head. “I just wish you'd kicked his ass.”
“If it wasn't for Faith, I would have.” Nudging her descendant.
“She does have you on a short leash, doesn't she.” Stepping away, Jim avoided a another slap to the head and laughed. “Maybe I'll go stand by her now. I think it's safer over there.” Turning, he found a smirking bard at his side. “Protect me.” Moving behind the bard.
“I think you could take her, Jim.” Laughing, Gabrielle took Xena's hand.
“Oh, no.” Shaking his head, Jim smiled. “I'm not taking on the big bad surgeon from hell.”
“Wise decision.” Smirking, Xena hugged the bard. “Is everything okay, with your Mom?” Looking down worriedly.
“She's a little shell shocked, but she'll get over it.” Closing her eyes, Gabrielle rested her head on the warrior's chest. “I love you.”
Wrapping her arms tighter around Gabrielle, Xena rested her chin on the bard's head and smiled. “I love you, Faith.”
“Oh, look.” Turning discreetly away from the couple, Jim pointed. “They're serving ice cream.” Taking his cue and leaving.
Xena felt the bard laughing and gave her a short hard squeeze. “Don't even say it.”
“If he only knew.” Opening her eyes, Gabrielle looked up at the warrior. “He'd probably shoot himself.”
“He does not get that from me.” Smiling down at the bard. “Appetite is your forte.”
Standing on her tip toes, she gave the warrior a kiss. “Speaking of which.” Raising her eyebrows.
“Food. The bard's one true love.” Chuckling, Xena took Gabrielle's hand and they were given a wide path to the tables holding the warrior's competition for the bard's affection.
Hanging her head out the window of the truck, Xena closed her eyes. “The only thing better than a road trip, is the trip home.” Feeling the wind on her face, then something hitting her eyelid. “Ow.” Ducking back inside, she covered her eye with her hand.
Shaking her head, Gabrielle smiled. “I warned you about those bugs.” Laughing, she ignored the one eyed glare.
Epilogue. During the production of this story, no members of anyone's family was actually injured, however Kyle did develop a strange limp and his mother is now in therapy. Jim, who will be forever in the dark about his lineage, suddenly found himself being invited to dinner a lot and also found the bard being very nosy about his love life, but was able to fend off her matchmaking efforts. Greg, Barb and Karen, who were enamored with the Grace's skill at thwarting Kyle, found that it is never a good idea to sneak up on the warrior and bard when they are making out and also discovered just how many skills Grace had when she proceeded to beat them into saying uncle in approximately fifteen different languages, at the same time. Joyce, Gabrielle's mother, apologized to her daughter in a completely motherly fashion and Xena benefited, by eating three dozen cookies while recuperating from the bug incident. Gabrielle, herself, ate two dozen cookies and bought the warrior goggles with windshield wipers on them for Xena's future eye protection, vowing no one was allowed to mess with those baby blues. The neon flower print shirt made it back from the reunion, unsinged.
Thanks for reading.
PlanD - Part 7
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