Disclaimer: The characters of Xena and Gabrielle and others resembling those from the TV show, belong to Studio USA and Renaissance Pictures. No infringement on their rights is intended. All other characters are of my own creation 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: 5. For Michael's sake. Plan D #7.

Note: To those readers that wanted to know what a childhood growing up with a bard and a warrior princess could be like? This one is for you. More youthful flashback in future episodes. (episodes is used to refer to the fact that this series bares a stricking resemblence to a soap opera.)

Please send comments to asdease1@gte.net

Enjoy, I hope.


Written by FlyBigD


Xena's eyes opened and she stared into the darkness. Seeing a bright light, she turned to look out the window as the light disappeared and thunder sounded in the distance and she watched rain trailing down the glass. Sighing, she watched it for several minutes, listening to the rhythmic patter of the drops and the occasional rumble. Closing her eyes, the warrior took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. Opening her eyes, once more, Xena looked around the room, seeing the familiar striped wallpaper and glancing over the other items that filled their bedroom, finally coming to rest on the blond head against her shoulder. Stroking Gabrielle's hair, she smiled and kissed the bard's sleeping head as lightning lit up the room. Placing another kiss into the short blonde tresses, the warrior reached behind her, grasping her pillow and pulling it gently out from under her head. When it was free, she set it beside her and eased out of the bard's grasp, putting the pillow in her place. Standing still, Xena watched Gabrielle readjust and smiled, then picked up her robe off the chair by the nightstand. Shrugging in on, moving to the window, Xena looked past the rain, into the woods beyond. In the darkness, she could see only the faint horizon above the trees, then lightning flashed and the outline of something in the distance shown for an instant, before all returned to the night.

Standing at the window for a long time, Xena saw the outline many times, as the storm raged and finally, she shook her head. I know. I'm coming. Sighing she took off her robe, moving silently around the room, picking up stray pieces of clothing and putting them on. When she was dressed, Xena went back to the bed and the sleeping bard. Bending over, the warrior placed a soft kiss on Gabrielle's cheek, smiling, then left. Down stairs, she found her boots and put them on, then stood searching the darkness for the bright yellow raincoat, spotting it in the corner, she put it on. Going to the front door, Xena eased it open, stepping out onto the porch, then closed it behind her. Glancing to her right, she walked to the end of the porch, pulling up the bright yellow collar, before leaping over the hedge and sprinting for the building a hundred yards away.

Dodging the deep puddles, Xena made it to the building, opened the door quickly and stepped into complete darkness. Shaking her coat, the warrior reached to her left, switching on the light and covering her eyes when it came on. Once her eyes adjusted, she stepped further into the garage and took off the raincoat, setting it on a nearby work bench. Looking around, she smiled. “Hello, girls.” Walking toward the four Harley's parked side-by-side across the large room. Normally, this would've been considered a three car garage, but since there were never any cars in it, ever, Gabrielle referred to it as the beasts' lair and the rumble shack, both of which drew great mirth from the warrior and as she crossed the room, Xena took a deep breath, taking in all the smells of her little world. “Ahhhh.” Raising her eyebrows, she stepped over a couple of stray wheels, then squatted down in front of her pride and joy's. “Did you miss me?” Rubbing her hand over the headlights, Xena felt the coolness of the glass. “As soon as the weather clears up, I'm gonna take you girls out for a long ride.” Stroking a deep blue fender, then the crimson one beside it. The reunion complete, Xena stood, putting her hands on her hips and taking a satisfied look at the bikes. “Now.” Biting her lip, she turned around and spotted the large mass in the middle of the garage, covered by a tarpaulin. Sighing heavily, the warrior walked over to it and squatted again, pulling up one corner of the tarp and seeing a wheel. Taking a deep breath, she held it as she pulled the tarp completely off. “Gods.” Whispering, Xena shook her head, looking at the twisted form of the ‘blonde bombshell.' Standing, she rolled up the tarp, tossing it aside, moving around the bike, taking in the damage to her most beloved steed and finally kneeling next to it. “I'm so sorry.” Running her hand over the light yellow gas tank, feeling the scrapes and dents. Picking some dead turf out of the frame, Xena smiled at the words written across the damaged tank. “Palomino Heart.” Saying the name in the ancient language it was written in.

Sitting down, Xena continued to pick bits and pieces of grass and twigs from the bike, while her mind drifted back to the first time she'd seen the ‘beast.'

“Are you crazy?” Brain shouted, pointing to the blonde little girl standing a short distance away. “Grace, she'll get creamed.” Staring at his sister, Brian shook his head.

“Maybe.” Tossing the football in the air, Xena caught it, keeping her eyes on the bard and smiling.

Putting her hands on her hips, Gabrielle stomped her foot. “I want to play!”

Turning to her brother, Xena smirked. “She wants to play.”

“Grace, she's two feet tall.” Glancing at the seven year old bard.

“I am not.” Stomping her foot again and frowning.

Wrapping her arm around Brian, Xena turned away from the bard. “Look.” Lowering her voice. “She wants to play, so we'll let her play.”

“Grace.” Sighing.

“Now listen.” Glancing over her shoulder and winking, then returning her attention to her brother. “All we have to do is give her the ball, on the first play, she'll get squashed and go away.”

“I don't like it.” Folding his arms across his chest, Brian looked at the other players, who ranged in age from nine to fifteen and who were the appropriate height and weight for their age. Shaking his head, he raised one eyebrow. “Grace.”

“One play. Boom, she's outta here.” Hugging his shoulder, Xena smiled.

“I know she's your friend. Why she's your friend, I don't know, but if she get's hurt,” turning to give Xena the fisheye, “you're going to explain to her mother.”

“Are we gonna play today?” Greg asked. Xena's brother Greg, not Gabrielle's twin brother Greg, who unfortunately had piano lessons and couldn't play and was three feet tall.

“Don't get you panties in a wad.” Xena yelled. “We're coming.” Looking at Brian. “Well?”

“You're taking full responsibility.” Walking to the small crowd.

“Absolutely.” Nodding her head, Xena turned and waved to the bard. “Come on, runt. You're in.”

Smiling, Gabrielle ran over and pulled Xena's hair. “Don't call me runt.” Whispering viciously.

“Ow.” Taking her hair back, she shoved Gabrielle in front of her. “Okay, lets huddle up.” Bending over, Xena laid out the play. “We're gonna give the ball to Faith, here. They'll never expect that.” Patting the bard on the shoulder. “When I hand it to you, you run you little legs off, got it?”

“Got it.” Smiling, Gabrielle didn't need to bend over and looked up at the warrior.

“Let's do it.” Straightening, Xena clapped her hands.

“I can't believe this.” Heading for the line, Greg shook his head.

“Their friends.” Brian rolled his eyes and took his place beside his brother.

Waiting for the defense to take the line, Xena placed Gabrielle to her left and smiled. Bending over, she held out her hands. “Hut, one. Hut, two. Hike!” Stepping back quickly, she lateraled the ball to Gabrielle and chuckled when the bard caught the ball and took off like a shot. Then Xena's eyes bugged out as she watched Gabrielle squirting her way past the defense, putting moves on them that a pro bowl running back would be envious of. “Holy, shit!” Jogging after them, she slapped her forehead when the little blonde crossed the invisible goal line.

Jumping up and down, Gabrielle smiled triumphantly at the stunned faces around her. “Touchdown!” Strutting past the slack jawed pillars, she came to the warrior and smiled smugly. “Did I fail to mention that I was an All American in my last lifetime?” Jabbing the ball in Xena's midsection.

Catching her breath, Xena smiled. “Yes. I believe you did fail to mention that.”

“Hmmm. Must've slipped my mind.” Turning, Gabrielle snatched the ball from the warrior and took off.

“Hey!” Running after the bard, Xena put her long legs in motion. “Bring that back! That's mine!”

“Beginner's luck.” Brian managed to mumble, watching his sister chase the bard around the playground.

“Yea.” Greg agreed, shaking his head.

“Is the game over?” Jess asked, watching the spectacle as well.

“Apparently.” Turning, Brian smiled at the girl beside him.

“Come ‘ere, you little rat! Bring back my ball!” Reaching for the bard, Xena almost got her, then Gabrielle put an All American move on her and was gone. Jogging to a stop, she put her hands on her hips, watching the bard stop, as well, a short distance away and turn around, waving the ball over her head.

“What's wrong, warrior princess?” Sticking out her tongue. “Can't catch a little runt, like me?”

Taking a few casual steps toward the bard, Xena nodded her head. “You're quick, I'll give you that.” Smiling wickedly, she scratched her nose to cover the grin. “But there's something to be said for patience and a good stall tactic.” Coming closer, Xena lunged like a cat, catching the bard before she could take off again and picked Gabrielle up off the ground. “Gotcha!”

Squealing, Gabrielle dropped the ball and tried to wiggle free. “Cheater!”

Holding the bard firmly, Xena started spinning around, swinging Gabrielle outward.

“Xena!” Shouting in ancient Greek, Gabrielle hung on for dear life.

Laughing, Xena slowed the spin, setting the bard on the ground and chuckling as she teetered a bit. “You know, Gabrielle, for a seven year old American, you speak Greek pretty well.” Using the ancient language as well.

“I think I'm gonna puke.” Holding her stomach, Gabrielle sat down.

Smirking, Xena started to sit down, when she heard something that got her attention. Standing up again, she moved her head, trying to locate the direction the sound was coming from. Looking to her left, she cocked her head as the rumble drew closer and stepping away from the bard, she walked slowly toward the chain linked fence.

Glancing up, Gabrielle noticed the warrior was missing and looked around, spotting Xena, she got up and followed. “What is it?”

Waving her hand behind her, Xena waited. Then from out of the corner of her eye, she spotted the source of the sound and stared as the Harley came into view. “Gods” Whispering, her jaw dropped as the bright blue beauty went slowly by, rumbling along at a leisurely speed. Putting her fingers through the fence, she continued to watch and drool until the bike and the rumbling disappeared. “I think I'm in love.”

Following the warrior's interest, Gabrielle glanced up at Xena when she mentioned something about love. Frowning, the bard saw the expression of pure lust on Xena's face and looked to where the bike had gone. “Huh.” Sneering.

“Yep.” Sitting cross legged, Xena ran her hand over the leather seat and smiled. “Gabrielle was jealous from the very start.”

“I was not.” Smirking, Gabrielle walked over, shaking her raincoat out, setting it aside. “I just thought you'd lost you mind.” Squatting down, she wrapped her arms around Xena's shoulders. “Hey.” Kissing the warrior's neck.

“Hey.” Twisting around, Xena kissed wet lips. “Did I wake you?”

“No.” Tweaking the warrior's ear. “I always get up in the middle of the night, when you're not there.”

“Sorry.” Sighing, the warrior picked at a torn piece of leather. “I just had to come and see her.”

Looking at the wreckage, Gabrielle sighed. “She was beautiful.” Whispering, she rested her chin on Xena's shoulder.

“Yea.” Nodding her head, the warrior smiled sadly. “She was.”

“Can you fix her?” Running her hand down Xena's arm to the tank.

“I don't know.” Putting her hands in her lap, Xena shook her head. “The frame's bent.” Scanning the twisted metal.

“Well, Xena.” Smiling. “I sort of did promise her that you'd fix her up.”

Raising an eyebrow, Xena chuckled. “You promised her?”

“Yea.” Shuddering with the memory. “I was kind of emotional at the time.”

Smiling, Xena twisted around, pulling the bard into her lap and wrapped her arms around Gabrielle. “When are you not emotional?”

“When you're not in the back of an ambulance, hanging on to life by your fingernails.” Smirking.

“Oh.” Whispering, Xena pulled the bard closer.

Resting her head on the warrior's shoulder, Gabrielle sighed. “I wish Michael could fix this one.”

“I think it's a little out of his jurisdiction.” Leaning her head on Gabrielle's.

“Hmmm.” Closing her eyes, Gabrielle smiled. Maybe, she thought.

“Michael, come on.” Closing her eyes, Gabrielle put her hands on her hips. “Please?”

“Gabrielle.” Shaking his head, Michael sighed. “I am not a private detective. I'm an arch angel.” Folding his arms across his chest and ruffling his wings. “Call the Department of Transportation, or something.”

Opening her eyes, the bard put out her hands. “I tried that. For two years, I've tried that. They wouldn't give me any information.” Sighing. “They said they had no way of tracing it.” Turning, Gabrielle paced around her bedroom. “It's for her birthday.”

“And that would interest me, because?” Smiling.

“Michael.” Pleading, Gabrielle glanced in the mirror, seeing her eleven year old body and the lack of the angel. Shaking her head, she turned to face him. “Xena has wanted that bike since she was my age. Can't you please, help me find it.”

“Gabrielle.” Rolling his eyes. “I'd think that you'd be the last person who'd want to see her on a motorcycle.”

“I know. I know.” Rubbing her forehead at the very thought. “But she graduates next year and then she'll be leaving for college. It's her sixteenth birthday.” Plopping down on her bed. “I just wanted to get her something special.” Staring at her feet.

“Even if I could find it, how do you expect to buy it?” Spreading his wings, he sat beside the bard.

Pointing to a small wooden box on her dresser. “I've got a little over three thousand dollars.”

“Three thousand!” Michael's eyes widened. “Where did you get that kind of money?”

“I've been saving every penny for the last five years.” Resting her chin on her hand. “Ever since she saw it the first time.”

Michael rolled his eyes then shut them. “You really love her that much?” Smiling and opening his eyes. “No wait. I all ready know the answer to that one.” Chuckling.

“Michael.” Pouting, Gabrielle sighed heavily. “This isn't funny. She really loves that bike.”

Standing, the arch angel fluttered his wings and took in the pitiful sight before him. Looking skyward, he shook his head and sighed. “All right.” Putting his hands on his hips, Michael couldn't believe he was saying the words. “I see what I can do. Only the heavens know why, but I'll give it my best shot.”

Jumping up, Gabrielle wrapped her arms around the angel, hugging him. “Thank you, Michael. Thank you.”

“Yea, well I haven't found it yet. It's not like I've got anything better to do.” Returning the bard's embrace. Stepping back, he shrugged. “I'll let you know something soon.” Rolling his eyes, he popped out of sight.

“Yes!” Hopping around the room, Gabrielle stopped when someone knocked on the door. “Come in.”

Gabrielle's father opened the door and smirked. “Do you mind not jumping up and down, so much. You're knocking the plaster off the kitchen ceiling.”

“Sorry, Daddy.” Smiling big, Gabrielle sat down on the bed.

Shaking his head, Dad shut the door. “Daughters.”

Laying back, Gabrielle kicked the air wildly. “Go, Michael, go.”

“So?'' Swinging her legs off the porch, Xena leaned into the bard. “What are you gonna give me for my birthday?” Flicking her eyebrows suggestively.

“Xena!” Whispering harshly. “I'm eleven years old, for Zeus sake. Can't you keep you mind out of the gutter for a couple more years?”

“But you're just so cute.” Tweaking a cheek. “I just wanna eat you up.”

“Suffer.” Slapping Xena's hand Gabrielle scowled. “Pervert.”

“Damn.” Snapping her fingers, the warrior spun around, bringing her knees to her chest. “I guess I'll have to settle for another pair of socks.”

“I never got you socks.” Rolling her eyes. “Last year I got you that subscription to that biker magazine.”

“That reminds me.” Laying her head in the bard's lap. “Have you looked at the women in that thing?” Holding her hands out above of her chest. “They've got knockers out to here. Yeowza.”

Pushing the warrior's hands away, Gabrielle raised an eyebrow. “If that is supposed to make me jealous, you're sadly mistaken.”

“Actually, I was hoping you'd order one of those skimpy outfits.” Smiling wickedly.

“For whom?” Raising the other eyebrow.

“You.” Laughing as she was pushed off the porch, Xena popped up. “Is that a no?”

“That's a never in your wildest dreams, warrior princess.” Getting to her feet, Gabrielle looked at the sky.

Following the bard's gaze, Xena looked up, then back at Gabrielle. “Are you expecting the sky to fall, or something?”

Rolling her eyes, Gabrielle peered at the warrior. “No. Why?”

“You've been looking at the sky a lot lately.” Putting her hands on her hips, Xena gave the bard a suspicious look. “What's up?”

“I happen to like to looking at the sky, thank you.” Walking over to the steps, the bard hopped down them and joined the warrior. “Some people can appreciate the simple beauty of a blue sky.”

“Look out.” Grabbing Gabrielle, Xena hit the grass, just in time to miss being hit by a flying twin.

“Aaaaaaaaa.” Thump. Shaking his head, Greg got to his feet. “You wait, Grace. I'll get ya.”

“Dream on, fly boy.” Wiping grass off her knees, Xena walked over to Greg and thumped his forehead. “You ain't got what it takes to catch me.” Stepping back slowly, Xena smirked.

“Don't have, Grace.” Gabrielle smiled as the chase ensued.

“Whatever.” Taking off, Xena hurdled a bush.

“You can run, but you can't hide.” Running as fast as he could, Greg hurdled the bush and tripped.

Shaking her head, Gabrielle went back up on the porch. “Little does he know.” Well aware that her brother had a incurable crush on the warrior princess, the bard felt almost sorry for him. After they'd moved into the neighborhood, Greg had immediately become infatuated with the tall dark haired girl, despite the knowledge that he was five and Xena was ten. Plus the fact that Xena was always around, didn't help matters and Gabrielle had never been able to bring herself to explain why, her brother's efforts were wasted. That and he'd never believe her. So, there he went, chasing after Xena, pretending to be the unrecognized flyboy of her dreams.

That's how most of her childhood had been spent. Watching virtually every male within a twenty mile radius, salivate when they walked by. The fact that they went to different schools, due to their age difference, didn't help, because Xena was always waiting by the fence when the bard came out. Smiling at Gabrielle with a twinkle in her eye and taking her books, for the walk home from school. That was the time Gabrielle enjoyed most. When they'd walk and talk about what they did that day and Xena would go on about what she was supposed to be learning. Telling sordid tales of wanton destruction of youthful minds, or they'd just chat about what they were going to do later and what adventure the weekend would bring. Or, sometimes they wouldn't talk at all and just be happy to be together.

In the afternoon, they'd do their homework together, on the porch. Xena would correct Gabrielle's math and the bard would correct the warrior's spelling. But the routine was set and Gabrielle loved it, even when her reverie was disrupted by a random flying brother and a nosy sister, which usually led to doing homework on Xena's porch. Greg, Xena's brother and Brian were far less interested in what their sister did, than Gabrielle's siblings. The boys preferred to find things to tear apart and wonder what to do with the spare parts when they got finished putting it back together. Then, and only then would they beg the warrior to help them return, whatever back to it's original state, before one of their parents discovered it missing. Which Xena would do, after much bartering and tallying up favors and future blackmail material. Apparently, Xena had become some kind of mechanical wizard over the centuries, which was added to the long list of many skills. But occasionally they snooped and were driven insane when the warrior and bard would switch to ancient Greek.

Of course, there were the summers. When the parent's hid and the kids went wild and every living creature scampered at the sound of running feet. The lake was always occupied and they played and fought and tried to kill each other and played again. Xena would stretch out in the sun, wondering about their future and Gabrielle would sit and write about their past.

Their parent's didn't really understand the friendship, asking each girl why they didn't find kids their own age to play with, even though each set of parents found their new addition to their liking. Xena's parents adored Gabrielle and Gabrielle's parents adored Xena. Unfortunately, they weren't always happy with the daughters they'd been given. Xena's antics turned her father's face beet red and Gabrielle's lack of antics cause a worried scowl on her mother's forehead. But that was life and neither girl really bothered with wondering why, knowing full well they were never going to be the average child. Their minds were filled to the brim with memories of previous lives and together, they spoke around twenty languages. The hardest part about growing up with Xena, Gabrielle realized was trying to act like a kid and not a two thousand year old bard.

“That's my girl.” Gabrielle smiled, watching the warrior run up the side of a tree, flipping back, to land behind Greg. “Show off!” Waving, when Xena smiled at her. “Gods, she can move.” Letting her mind venture into the gutter for a moment, Gabrielle shook herself. “Now she's got me doing it.”

“Doing what?” Karen asked, sitting down by her sister.

Shrugging, Gabrielle laughed. “He's at it again.” Pointing at the chase sequence.

“Good grief.” Shaking her head, Karen handed Gabrielle a glass of water. “You've got to give him credit. If he doesn't catch her, he'll probably be able to qualify for a marathon.”

Spitting out the water in her mouth, Gabrielle wiped her lips. “Or the decathlon.” Seeing another hurdle and trip. “Or not.”

“You're supposed to go over the bush, Greg.” Shouting at her brother, Karen laughed at his scowl. “Young love.”

“Tell me about it.” Successfully getting some liquid down her throat, Gabrielle watched the warrior move, again letting her mind wander to not so innocent thoughts. Smiling, she took another sip. “That's my girl.”

About a week later, Michael popped up and tapped the sleeping bard. “Gabrielle.” Whispering, he poked harder. “Gabrielle.”

“What? It's Saturday.” Annoyed, Gabrielle opened her eyes, then sat up. “Michael!”

“Get dressed, we're taking a trip.” Turning his back, he stared at a couple of posters. Rolling his eyes at the faces of the latest heart throbs. “These are for your parent's benefit, I take it.” Pointing at the array of young male faces.

Jumping out of bed, Gabrielle pulled off her pajama's. “Actually they're to make Xena jealous.” Whispering.

“Does it work?” Chuckling.

“What do you think.” Smiling, Gabrielle grabbed a pair of jeans.

“Well, knowing Xena, I'm surprised their not in shreds.” Smirking.

“That's the third set.” Pulling on a sweatshirt and looking for her shoes. “Did you find it?”

“Sort of.” Raising an eyebrow.

Closing her eyes, the bard didn't ask. Sitting on the bed she put on her shoes. “Okay.” Tying the laces, then standing.

Turning around, Michael held out his hand. “Ready.”

“Yep.” Closing her eyes, Gabrielle felt the ground move under her feet and the wind blowing through her hair. Holding her breath, fighting off the inevitable nausea, she opened her eyes when the world stopped spinning. Looking around, Gabrielle took in the dark street, lined with, what appeared to be abandoned buildings and warehouses. “Where are we?”

“California.” Tucking his wings, Michael raised an eyebrow.

“California!” Turning to look aghast at the angel. “That's almost two thousand miles away!”

“It's not my fault.” Holding up his hands defensively. “I just found it.”

Dropping her head, Gabrielle closed her eyes. “Where is it.” Wondering how she was going to get the bike back from California, let alone how she was going to get to California, to get the bike back. Lifting her head, she followed Michael's arm, turning around to read a sign, hanging on tin covered gates. “Aadam's Scrap Metal.” Closing her eyes again. “Oh, no.” Covering her face with her hands, she sighed. “Show me.” Looking up, she took Michael's outstretched hand and walked toward the gates, passing through them into a the junk yard. Sighing, with every step, she followed him past several large mountains of twisted metal, then stopped when he pointed at one.

“It's in there.” Holding his hands out in empathy.

Walking over to the pile, Gabrielle tried to find something that resembled a motorcycle in the heap. “Can you get it out?”

“Stand back.” Waiting for the bard to move to safety, Michael moved his hand upward, as most of the heap lifted into the air. Pulling his other hand to him, he brought out the motorcycle, then put the pile back down.

Walking over, Gabrielle squatted down. “Are you sure this is it?” Grimacing at the remnants of what was supposed to be a motorcycle.

“Yep.” Moving behind the bard, Michael shook his head. “That's it.”

“Gods.” Her shoulders slumped, Gabrielle wanted to cry. The Harley, if it still qualified as one, was beyond repair. The frame was twisted and the wheels were missing, as was the engine, in fact the only thing that wasn't missing was the gas tank and the headlight, which was busted. Running her hand over the rusted tank, the bard saw small chips of bright blue paint. “Oh, Xena. I'm so sorry.” Feeling a tear run down her cheek. “I tried.” Standing, Gabrielle turned to Michael. “Thanks for finding it.” Wiping the tear away.

“We can take it, if you want.” Smiling sadly. “It's not registered anymore and according to the company's records, it came in as a bulk shipment with the rest of the pile.” Putting his hand on her shoulder. “They'd never know it was gone.”

Glancing back at the bike, Gabrielle shook her head. “Not even Xena could bring it back to life.” Leaning forward, the bard put her head on Michael's chest. “She really loved that bike.”

“I know.” Sighing heavily, Michael lifted the bard's chin. “Ready?”

Taking one last look, Gabrielle nodded. “Yes.” As she disappeared, she waved.

In her bedroom, Gabrielle changed back into her pj's. Moving to the dresser, she opened the wooden box, staring down at the money. “Now what am I going to do with you? I've got two weeks to find the perfect gift.” Sighing, she closed the box and looked in the mirror. “All she ever dreams about is that bike. How am I going to tell her it's gone? It'll kill her.” Closing her eyes, Gabrielle turned, opened her eyes and trudged to the bed, dejectedly. Climbing under the covers, she stared into the darkness. “Where's a good Palomino when you need one?” Sighing heavily, she closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep.

In the darkness, Michael raised an eyebrow, then popped out.

Climbing out of the warrior's lap, Gabrielle smiled at the bombshell. “You want me to make you some coffee?” Rubbing Xena's shoulder.

“Ummm.” Biting her lip, she sighed. “Yea.” Getting to her feet, Xena pulled up the sleeves of her sweatshirt.

Chuckling, Gabrielle watched the warrior, for a moment. “Food?”

“Yea.” Moving to a work bench, Xena opened up one of her tool boxes and pulled out a wrench.

“Divorce?” Folding her arms across her chest.

“Yea.” Putting the wrench on a bolt and pulling hard.

“Lobotomy?” Raising her eyebrows.

“Yea.” Turning the bolt.

“I thought so.” Smiling, Gabrielle grabbed her raincoat. “There's a reason that focus is legendary.” Pulling it on, she stepped out into the downpour and ran for the house. Inside, she went to the kitchen, started a pot of coffee and found a hat and put in on her drenched head. “Now . . .”

“Don't even think about it.” Michael said from the doorway.

“Michael.” Smiling, Gabrielle spun around. “What a pleasant surprise.”

“No.” Folding his arms across his chest.

“Coffee?” Pointing to the filling pot, the bard acted casual. “Eggs?”

“I'm not going to do it.” Folding his wings, Michael raised an eyebrow.

“I can make you some French toast.” Picking up a frying pan and turning on the burner. “Won't take me but a minute.”

“Wrong answer.” Putting his hands on his hips.

“How about pancakes?” Twirling the frying pan, Gabrielle smirked.

“She can do it herself.” Tapping his foot.

“How about a steak?” Putting the pan down and opening the frig, sticking her head in the freezer to cover her laughter.

“Gabrielle!” Rolling his eyes.

“Did you say something?” Closing the frig.

“I'm not going to fix it.” Tapping the other foot.

“I know.” Smiling wickedly, Gabrielle walked to the agitated arch angel. “I know, Michael. I was just yanking your chain. Xena will fix her.” Standing on her tip toes, she kissed his cheek. “I'm sorry. I couldn't resist.”

“You are a very wicked little bard, you know that?” Tweaking her nose, he rolled his eyes and ruffled his wings. “I don't know why I put up with you.”

“Because I'm the nice one.” Walking back to the frig, Gabrielle opened the door and pulled out a carton of eggs.

“That's debatable.” Frowning, then smirking.

“That's what you told me twenty years ago.” Smiling knowingly, she chuckled. “Or that was the reason you gave me.” Pulling out a carton of milk. “Maybe you did it for Xena.”

“The only thing I have ever done for that woman is drag you out of hell.” Indignantly raising his wings.

“What about the coma?” Pulling out the butter and bacon.

“That wasn't my decision.” Smiling smugly, Michael lowered his wings.

“Really?” Smirking, Gabrielle put the items down on the counter. “You didn't have even the littlest bit to do with it?”

Michael's eyes grew wide. “If you're insinuating that I interceded on Xena's behalf out of some sort of demented sense of affection, you are out of what little mind the gods gave you.”

“Me thinks he contests to much.” Whispering to an egg. “How ‘bout you?” Holding up the egg to the angel and using an eggish voice. “I think he likes her.” Bringing it back. “Really?” Making the egg nod.

“I most certainly do not.” Spreading his wings completely out. “That woman has been nothing but trouble from the moment she entered paradise. She is a menace to the public at large and has caused havoc in every lifetime she's been in, let alone the interior decorating she's done in paradise. TPTB are still trying to find all the orbs and I won't even go into the personal tribulation my position has caused me. The only reason that I haven't taken it upon myself to strike her down at birth every time, is because I know that you'd never forgive me!”

Biting her lip, Gabrielle held up the egg. “I told you he liked her.”

“Aaaarrrrrggggghhhhh!” Whoosh. Pop.

“And I thought gods were testy.” Waving bye to the egg, she cracked it on the side of the frying pan and whistled a familiar tune.

The party was a blow out, as usual, with everyone on the planet in attendance and, as usual, Xena was the center of attention, which happened even when it wasn't her birthday. Gabrielle smiled and laughed, especially when her brother missed the pinata and hit himself in the head and occasionally glanced at the small box at the end of the gift table. Sighing with every glance, she rolled her eyes, thinking of the diamond necklace inside, which she'd purchased in a moment of extreme desperation and depression the previous day. Knowing full well that it was the last thing Xena would ever want, but unable to make a decision and running out of time, she'd picked it over another subscription to a different biker magazine. Hoping that, someday, either Xena would get over her dream of owning the bike, or she would get up the courage to tell her what really happened to the motorcycle. Both prospects seem unlikely and as the party moved to the opening gifts stage, the bard covertly removed her gift, stashing it under a cushion of one of the lawn chairs. Returning to the table, she stood outside the crowd of onlookers and waved, when Xena held up her first gift.

“Look, Faith.” Waving the new football in the air.

“Great!” Smiling, she hoped that if she was lucky, she might be able to sneak out, but as fate would have it, she was eventually drug to the table to inspect every gift as it was opened. Handing the cards to Xena's mother, she smiled and nodded and hoped she wouldn't get sick on the warrior's presents, as the cake and ice cream churned in her stomach.

“You all right?” Xena whispered, leaning down to pick up a gift and noticing the pale complexion on Gabrielle's face.

“Too many sweets, I think.” Whispering back.

“Then go sit down.” Nudging the bard with her elbow.

“Thanks.” Smiling, Gabrielle made her escape and went to the chair she'd hidden the necklace under and sat down. Pulling the box from it's hiding place, she stared at it. “She's gonna hate this.”

“Are you sure?” Squatting down, Michael folded his wings.

Feeling too bad to be surprised, Gabrielle nodded. “Positive.”

“Why don't you make sure.” Tapping the box with a smile.

“Michael, I think I know Xena well enough, to know she hates jewelry.” Frowning.

“Hmmm.” Scratching his chin, the arch angel raised an eyebrow. “Are you sure that's what's in the box?”

“I wrapped it myself.” Holding it up as proof.

“I think you better check.” Giving the bard a wink. “Maybe you picked up the wrong box.”

Rolling her eyes, Gabrielle unwrapped the box, opened it and held it up for his inspection. “Well?”

“That doesn't look like a diamond necklace to me.” Peering in the box and smiling, Michael glanced at Gabrielle. “Nope. Definitely not a diamond necklace.”

Sighing, Gabrielle turned the box around and looked inside. “Of course it . . . “ Staring wide eyed at a golden key, Gabrielle lost her voice. Picking it up, she turned it around in her fingers then closed her eyes as the words Harley-Davidson sparkled in the sunlight. “Michael.” Whispering breathlessly.

“See. No body ever believes me.” Standing up, he put his hands on his hips. “I'm just some old dumb arch angel, who doesn't know anything. Use me and abuse me.”

Jumping to her feet, Gabrielle threw her arms around his neck and kissed his cheek. “You did it!”

Laughing, Michael wrapped his arms around the bard, giving her a big hug. “How could I resist?” Setting her on the ground. “I'm a sucker for blondes.”

Smiling at the key, she gripped it in her hand. “Where is it?” Looking up at him expectantly.

“At the playground.” Winking, he bowed.

“You're such a romantic.” Hugging him again, Gabrielle shook her head. “It's too bad you're an angel, Michael. You'd make someone a very good husband.”

“Thank you madam.” Bowing again. “But you're all ready spoken for.” With that he winked and popped out of sight.

“Thank you, Michael.” Gabrielle whispered and looked at the key again. “Thank you.”

“Just keep your eyes closed and shut up.” Riding on the warrior's back, Gabrielle had her legs wrapped around Xena's waist and her hand over Xena's eyes. “Left.”

“How much cake and ice cream did you have?” Turning left. “You weigh a ton.”

“Another smart remark like that, Xena and your present goes back where it came from.” Spotting the playground, Gabrielle smiled. “Right.”

“Are we going in circles?” Turning right. “I'm getting dizzy.” Swaying a bit, for effect.

“Wimp. We're almost there.” Straining, Gabrielle spotted something sitting in front of the pitcher's mound. “Curb.”

Stepping up, Xena tripped anyway, almost tossing the bard off. “Sorry.” Taking a tighter hold of Gabrielle's legs. “You know, I could just settle for a tryst in the bushes.”

“Xena.” Rolling her eyes, Gabrielle concentrated on the bike and as the approached and finally got a good look at it and held her breath. Just in front of the clay mound, was a light yellow Harley-Davidson soft tail, chromed to the max and sparkling like it just came off the showroom floor. Getting even closer, she made out the words written on the tank and closed her eyes, sending a silent thanks to the arch angel, who smiled from a nearby roof top. “Stop.”

“Thank the gods!” Hanging onto the bard.

“Keep your eyes closed.” Sliding off the warrior's back, Gabrielle moved in front of her, between the warrior and the bike. Taking a moment to give it a heart pounding smile, she turned back and held up the key. “Okay.”

Opening her eyes, Xena drew back from the key, two inches from her nose and looked at it. Raising an eyebrow, she took it and raised the other eyebrow. “You got me a key?”

Rolling her eyes, Gabrielle stepped to the side and smiled. “No, I got you that.” Pointing to the bike. “Xena!”

Xena's knees hit the ground hard and were followed by her jaw. “Gods.” Whispering, from lack of oxygen, the warrior stared at the motorcycle.

“Xena!” Kneeling beside the warrior, Gabrielle took her hand, patting it furiously. “Are you all right? Xena?”

“Gods.” Slowly a smile took the place of stunned amazement and some oxygen made it to the warrior's brain. “She's beautiful.” Waiting for her motor functions to restart, Xena continued to stare. “She's so beautiful.”

“Now that was definitely worth seeing.” Snickering, Michael popped out.

“Xena?” Patting the warrior's cheek, Gabrielle looked around, hoping no one would notice them. “Xena, please.”

Turning her head, Xena looked into the worried face of the bard. “Thank you.” Smiling as a tear ran down her cheek, Xena blinked. “I love you.”

“I know you do. I love you, too.” Seeing someone coming, the bard winced.

“Have I told you lately that I love you?” Still staring.

“Not since two seconds ago. Can you get up?” Tugging on Xena's arm, Gabrielle managed to get the warrior to her feet and moved her to the bike. “Sit.” Turning to the person, she waved causally and sighed when the kept on going.

Following instructions, Xena straddled the bike and sat down. “Thank you.” Running her hands over the tank. “Marry me.”

“Not for at least another ten years.” Putting her hand on Xena's forehead, Gabrielle shook her head. “No fever.”

Pulling the hand off her forehead, Xena brought it to her lips and kissed it. “Thank you, Gabrielle.”

Looking at the warrior, Gabrielle finally saw a conscious thought. “You're welcome, Xena.” Smiling she took her hand back. “Well?” Stepping back, she put her hands on her hips.

Smiling big, Xena put the key in the ignition and turned it on. Flipping out the kick start, she stood, put her foot on the peg and gave it everything she had. Then did it three more times, until the engine turned over and she stroked the throttle.

As the engine rumbled to life, Gabrielle covered her ears and smiled. Stepping to the bike, she removed one hand and pointed at the tank. “Look.” Putting her hand back.

Knitting her brow, Xena leaned over and looked at the tank as an even bigger smile crossed her face. “Palomino Heart. I love it.” Straightening the bike, she put up the kickstand. “Come on.” Nodding to the space behind her.

“Not in this lifetime, warrior princess.” Shaking her head, Gabrielle smiled. “I didn't like the last blonde mare you had.”

Laughing, Xena pulled in the clutch, dropped it into first and eased off on the clutch. Slowly the motorcycle moved forward and she let out a battle cry, popping the clutch and gunning the throttle, sending the front tire off the ground. Standing on the pegs, Xena did a wheelie across the grass.

Running after the warrior, Gabrielle smiled skyward. “I owe you one.”

“Heaven help us all.” TPTB echoed through the heavens.

Michael hid.

Biting her lip, Gabrielle stood silent and watched Xena roll the blonde bombshell out off the garage. It had been two months since Xena had started the repairs and Gabrielle had gone through a lot of cold showers during that time, since the warrior's legendary focus had had her spending every available second in the garage, but seeing the smile on the Xena's face, suddenly made it seem worth the trouble.

From the roof, Michael folded his wings and his arms across his chest and frowned.

“Well?” Putting her hands on her hips, Gabrielle took a step forward.

Wincing, Xena threw her leg over the seat and flipped out the kick start. Bending down, she turned the golden key to the on position and stood up. Putting her foot on the peg, she closed her eyes and kicked for all she was worth.

“Nada.” Michael smirked.

“Try it again.” Gabrielle smiled.


“Zippo.” Still smirking.


“Zilch.” Smirking bigger.


Raspberry, then a smirk.

“One more time.” Smiling hopefully, Gabrielle glanced over her shoulder at the roof, but saw nothing. Turning back, she crossed her fingers behind her back.

Kick. Rumble. Rumble.

Whoosh. Pop.

Looking up at the roof again, Gabrielle smiled. “Liar.”

Stroking the throttle, Xena sat down on the seat, her face beaming.

Putting her hands over her ears, Gabrielle walked over. “Did you put mufflers on her?”

Rolling her eyes, Xena nodded to the space behind her. “Come on.” Wondering if she'd ever get the bard on the bike.

Biting her lip, Gabrielle shook her head. “Not without a helmet.”

Putting the kickstand down, Xena hopped off the bike and ran back into the garage laughing madly. In a few seconds, she ran back out, holding two helmets.

Slumping her shoulders, Gabrielle closed her eyes and took the green helmet Xena held out. “I must be insane.” Knowing she'd never be able to back out of it now, she put on the helmet and tightened the strap. “Or in love.”

With her helmet on, Xena got on the bike, flipping out the back foot pegs, that she thought she'd never use and sat down. Smiling wickedly, she nodded behind her.

Rolling her eyes, Gabrielle took her place behind the warrior, wrapping her arms very tightly around Xena's waist. “Now what?”

“Hang on.” Pulling in the clutch, Xena dropped it into first and eased out on the clutch. When the bike started moving, she eased the throttle back and smiled.

To Gabrielle's immense relief, Xena didn't pop any wheelies and simply drove around the house for an hour at a reasonable speed.

TPTB sighed and Michael winked.

The End.

Epilogue: Never ride without a helmet. In Saving Grace, Xena's helmet shattered, because that's what it is designed to do. By shattering on impact, it absorbs the impact and saves lives, but it doesn't do any good sitting in the closet. Wear it and when in a vehicle, fasten your safety belt. The life you save, may be belong to someone who loves you. Think about it.

Thanks for reading.

PlanD - Part 8

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