Disclaimer: All XWP Characters owned by Universal or whoever....not by me anyway. I'd rate it PG.
“Whew...I'm beat,” announced Gabrielle, as she dropped the bags and packages she was carrying into a nearby empty chair. “All this Solstice shopping takes a lot out of a girl.”
“Oh, quit belly-aching,” Xena retorted. “That was your choice to buy presents for all and sundry!”
“Oh, I'm not complaining, actually it was a lot of fun. It just took more energy than I thought it would. I feel like I fought off a whole pack of Warlords; tiring, yes…but quite exhilarating!” Now, would you like to see what I bought?”
Xena rolled her eyes. “Do I have a choice?”
“Really, don't go being a stinker, Xena. Come on, get a little Solstice spirit!”
Xena looked over at her soul mate with a smile. “Oh, all right. You gather everything you've bought today all together and I will make us a pot of tea. And then you can show me every little bitty thing. How's that sound?”
Gabrielle skipped over to her Warrior and gave her a big hug, followed by a very loud, smacking kiss. “That sounds lovely. Meet you back here in a bit.”
A quarter of a candle mark later, found the girls sipping orange spice tea and nibbling on nut bread in front of a roaring fire. A couple of weeks back, Xena had decided to rent them a little cottage and take a much needed break from their travels over the Solstice season. The fireplace and the real bed were Xena's favorite parts. Gabrielle loved the kitchen and the outhouse that boasted real “cleansing cloths”, a welcome relief from the usual scratchy leaves and rough bark!
“By the gods, this tea is delicious, Xena. Thank you Salmoneous, wherever you are.”
“Yeah, and he only charged us one dinar for it… after I, uh, persuaded him to lower the price, that is.”
Gabrielle chuckled. “Speaking of our dear entrepreneur friend, would you like to see what I got him?'
“You bought him a present? Okay, what is it. We might as well get this show started and over with.”
“Xeennaaa,” Gabrielle quipped, a touch of hurt in her voice coming through.
“Sorry...sorry…go ahead; what did you get the dear old man.”
Gabrielle got up and went over to the large basket she had dragged into the center of the room. Reaching in, she pulled out the first item.
“A new abacus!” she exclaimed. It came all the way from Chin. Do you think he'll like it?”
“Is it rigged somehow,” Xena asked, rather uncharitably. “If it is then he'll love it.”
“And for Joxer…” Gabby handed Xena a card. “Check it out.”
The Warrior opened it up and read the inscription. “Ummm…. a paid-in-full membership to ‘Hercules' Gymnasium'! Since when does Hercules run a gymnasium?”
“Since Autolycus talked him into it. They help people lift weights and learn how to build up their strength, that sort of thing. I thought it might do Joxer some good. You don't think he'll take offense do you?”
Xena snickered. “Naw...he knows he's a lovable wimp. I suppose you got something for Auto, too?”
“I did, let me find it. Ah, here it is…a locksmiths set.”
“A locksmiths set? Dang, Gabrielle, did you get him a great big bag to put all the stolen goodies in, too?”
“Oh, get off it, Xena! You know his ah, unique skills, have helped us out a few times. And speaking of Hercules, I got him and Iolaus a bag of apples; they're hanging from the kitchen rafters for now. Oh… and here's Aphrodite's gift. I'm half tempted to keep it for myself.” She handed Xena a small red velvet bag. Xena drew out a delicate golden chain with a beautiful Sapphire star pendant attached.
Xena gave a long, low whistle. “Now, this is gorgeous!”
“It is, isn't it?” Gabrielle agreed. “I thought it might serve as a sort of peace offering to our Mighty Goddess for foiling her plans for the North Star.”
Xena laughed out loud. “Yeah, that whole thing was a trip. I mean, ya gotta love anything that gets Joxer into a pink negligee! How about a refill on the tea?"
Gabrielle obligingly refilled both their mugs and reached into the gift basket once again, retrieving a heavy looking wooden box which she placed in front of Xena.
“This is for my parents. They've never had any decent dinnerware, just mismatched pieces my Mom picked up at second-hand shops. I hope she likes this.”
Xena gently lifted one of the plates from the box. It was a beautifully made piece of pottery, sky blue, with a delicate ivy design around the border. There were six plates, each with a matching mug.
“I'm sure your parents will love these, Gabrielle. They're wonderful.” Xena carefully replaced the plate and Gabrielle handed her a small brightly painted package.
“For Lila. She always wanted a ring with a Ruby. I got a really good deal on this one; only 20 dinars.”
Xena choked on the mouthful of tea she was attempting to swallow. “Twenty dinars? I hope the things real !”
“Well, the dealer wanted 50 to begin with. I talked him down more than half! And besides, it's for my sister !” Gabrielle spat out, on the defense.
“Yes, yes...you're right. It's your sister and your money. I'll keep my big trap shut!”
“Thank you. Now, this is what I got for your mother.”
“Aww, Gabrielle. That was so sweet of you. Of course, now I feel like a heel because I didn't get her anything…yet.”
Gabrielle smiled. “Well then, this can be from both of us.” She then produced a rather large object from the basket wrapped in ivory parchment and placed it in Xena's lap. “Go on, take a peek.”
Xena carefully unwrapped the item revealing a superbly crafted silver bowl.
“I thought she could use it at the Inn; you know, to serve fruit or whatever.”
“Gabrielle, she is going to be thrilled with this. You really outdid yourself. You certainly outdid me !”
The smaller woman smiled warmly at her Warrior. “Well, that's that…except for your gift. It's not quite completed yet. We still have a few more days until Solstice, so I'm not worried. I'm sure it will be ready by then.”
Xena finished off her tea in one big gulp and jumped to her feet. “Okay, Ms. Senticles, my turn,” and she grabbed the woman's hands and pulled her to her feet.
“Wow, what's this?”
“You'll see,” Xena sang as she pulled her soul mate towards the bedroom. “Now, before we go in, shut your eyes. And no peeking!”
Xena led Gabrielle across the thresh hold, into the center of the room. “Alright, you can look now.”
Gabrielle opened her eyes and gasped. The entire floor was littered with rose petals. Sweet smelling candles were burning everywhere, and a nightstand held a bucket of ice with a large bottle of wine planted in it. Two beautiful rose-hued glasses also adorned the stand. The bed's top cover was pulled back exposing a new set of cream-colored silk sheets.
Gabrielle gently stroked her blue-eyed lover's cheeks. “So, this is what you were up to while I was gone. Xena, I…I don't know what to say.”
“How about, ‘pour us a glass of wine'?” The Warrior kissed the top of her emerald-eyed beauty's head and led her over to the bed. “I thought we could start, errr… celebrating …a little early,” she continued as she filled the matching glasses. “We've had a long, hard year and we deserve some ‘us' time. Besides, I've been meaning to teach you a few of those positions we saw in Aphrodite's temple. It will be sooo much easier, not to mention more comfortable, here on this down mattress then some bedroll on the cold, hard ground.”
Now, it was Gabrielle's turn to choke. Her face turned as red as the wine and she jumped on the bed, buried her face in a pillow, and started laughing hysterically. Xena soon followed her, and within moments the two women found themselves caught up in a long passionate kiss; all thought of gifts, and Solstice, and the cold, gone from their minds. Right now, right here, the only thing that mattered was each other. They both knew how incredibly lucky they were to not only love one another so very deeply, but be the best of friends, too….something many couples cannot claim.
Gabrielle pulled back a bit and looked her lover in the eye. “Ya know, Xena… this life just gets better and better. I love you.”
Xena tugged at her sweetheart until she was once more tight against her. “Get back here you! And yes….yes it does get better. Happy Solstice, Gabrielle.”
“Happy Solstice, Xena.”
And the two spent the rest of the day enjoying the candlelight, the wine, the peace of the season...and the familiar comfort of each other's embrace.
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