Disclaimer: Xena and Gabrielle belong to Universal Studios. I just play with them from time to time and return them leaving Universal’s copyright none the worse for wear. This Halloween story takes subtext for granted without being explicit. If you enjoy it let me know at maryeic@aol.com. Comments yea or nay are always appreciated.



By MaryE

A sliver of setting sun was the final defense against the crisp autumn chill tiptoeing on a blanket of grey mist.  Gabrielle tugged a furry blanket to her chin and opened a single sleepy green eye. Spying only faint light where a campfire should be blazing, she realized the fire had all but died while she was napping.  She sat up, shivered in the chill air and rubbed her eyes. The nap had not dispelled a feeling of unease that had persisted throughout the day. She had dreamed of demons and evil creatures; visions no doubt attributable to a small village she and Xena had passed through that morning. The local gossip had been obsessed with stories of strange happenings and dreadful beasts. The bard and the warrior lingered only long enough to purchase what they needed before swiftly leaving the villagers to their spooky musing. Running fingers through her short blonde hair, the jittery bard yawned and acknowledged she must have absorbed some of the villagers’ sense of terror.

A glance at the adjacent bedroll informed her that the warrior princess had not yet returned from what was usually a quick hunt for the evening meal. Gabrielle frowned; the sky was growing dark and she was hungry. She eyed the thick mist that had invaded the campsite leaving odd shapes to mark where familiar items had been set out. She could hear the sound of lake water waves gently lapping the nearby shore, but nothing else. Nightfall and the low rolling mist created a silent, foreboding atmosphere similar to the one in her dream filled nap.

She shed the warmth of the blanket and stepped carefully to the dwindling fire, stirring it to encourage the few remaining embers. Within a few moments she had flames licking a pyramid of fresh wood. She rubbed her hands together to let the heat chase the chill from her body while listening for her companion’s footsteps which would chase the deeper chill from her mind. But there was only a deep, pervasive silence.

Illuminated by the flames, the campsite was an alien vista. A thick grey cloud swirled throughout the camp, dissipating a foot above the hidden ground. The mist was so thick Gabrielle could not see the brown boots that covered her legs to mid-calf. Campfire flames rose out of the fog in a small circle lending an eerie orange patina to nearby trees and forming strange disquieting shadows all along the perimeter.

Unnerved by the eeriness, Gabrielle questioned for a moment whether she had actually awakened from her nap. She felt captive still in a dreamscape, ominous and silent.  She ran her hands along her bare arms then knelt and searched along the unseen ground for her bag to get a wrap against the cold.  She wished for Xena to return and tried to ignore a rising sense of dread.  It had been many hours since they’d eaten, so she set the frying pan on a flat stone beside the fire. The warrior always brought fresh meat for supper and she decided to busy herself with getting ready to cook whatever the warrior brought. Feeling around the ground, she found an empty water bladder. The lake was close, so she determined to brave the dark and get the water they would need for the meal.

Unseen underbrush crunched beneath her boots as she made her way toward the sound of soft waves. The lake was cloaked in mist with the light from a quarter moon shimmering in a pale trail down its center. Gabrielle stepped gingerly along the rocky shore until she found a likely spot to fill the bladder.  The screech of an owl startled her and she hurried to finish the task anxious to head back to camp.  Turning away from the lake she was momentarily gripped with panic as she tried to remember which way she had come. Then her eyes detected a faint orange glow through the trees and she sighed in relief heading as quickly as she dared toward it.

She could smell smoke from the fire and something else. The unmistakable scent of roasting rabbit filled her with a surge of relief. Xena was back. She quickened her step to reach the warmth of the camp and the safety of the warrior’s presence.

Emerging from the brush onto the edge of the clearing where they had camped, Gabrielle saw a figure sitting at the fire. The figure was enveloped in a long black cloak and sat poking at the logs, her back to the bard. Gabrielle paused suddenly uncertain of what she was seeing and squinted in the darkness.  Those stories had cursed her with an irrational fear, she chided herself. Xena was back and she shed her jitters in favor of relief. Her warrior was finally home. The bard rushed forward eager to get a warm reassuring hug. The figure stood and turned lowering the cowl from its head revealing an aura of wild, greyish hair and a pale face distorted into a hideous grimace fixed beneath dark embedded eyes.

Gabrielle froze unable to comprehend what she was seeing yet incapable of looking away. The figure took a stride toward her. Gabrielle’s heart raced and longed for the staff that leaned against a far tree. The figure raised its long arms and extended them to the side increasing the size of the terrifying bat-like creature as it emitted a menacing chuckle. Gabrielle felt her knees begin to shake as the wraith moved another stride closer.  Dark cloak folds hung from the outstretched arms and fingers curled ready to grasp and enfold the dumbstruck bark.

Gabrielle flinched slightly to one side, but the figure was not yet close enough to capture her. It was a witch, she was suddenly certain; the witch. The very witch the townspeople had warned them of earlier in the day. This was the creature that stole children and drank the blood of those foolish enough to enter the woods by the lake. Gabrielle nearly sank to her knees in terror but her mind refused for her trained body to submit. Shaking she charged forward and rammed into the figure with her full weight. The creature coughed but didn’t stagger backward. Instead, it closed long fingers on the bard’s shoulders in a tight grip.

Gabrielle screamed as the creature picked her up and threw her sack like over its shoulder. Then as if the situation were not terrifying enough, Gabrielle heard a high pitched cackle and a hoarse voice issue from deep in the witch’s chest.

“A tasty little morsel this one.”

Gabrielle pounded her fist on her capturer’s back to no avail. She felt it move with a steady stride toward the fire, then past toward the bedroll. Closing her eyes, the bard prayed for the sound of a chakram to rip the night and fell the creature.

The witch stopped abruptly. It pulled Gabrielle from its boney shoulder, set the quaking woman on the bedroll and knelt beside her.  Gabrielle clutched her own throat protectively, her mind filled with the vision of fangs penetrating her pulsing artery. She closed her eyes and thought of her beloved partner as she waited for the witch to fall upon her and feast on her blood.

Instead she heard a familiar chuckle and the squeak of leather being pulled aside. Green eyes shot open and Gabrielle was startled at the sight of pale blue eyes twinkling down at her.

“Trick or treat?” Xena said with a crooked half smile. In her hands was the mask that bore the dreadful face the warrior had been wearing.

Gabrielle balled a fist and drove it into a leather covered midriff.

“Ooof!” Xena lost her breath but the smile grew into a grin. “Gotch ya!”

“You…you…” Gabrielle couldn’t think of a name nasty enough considering the scare she’d suffered.

Xena caught the next fist in the palm of her strong hand before the bard could land another punch on her abdomen. “Now, Gabrielle.” She lifted her eyebrows. “It was a joke. The villagers call tonight Hallows Eve. Witches and demons are roaming the countryside to scare little children…and bards.”

Gabrielle sat up and snarled. “That was just cruel, Xena.”

The warrior placed a hand tenderly on the smaller woman’s cheek. “It was the ‘trick’.” Then she waggled an eyebrow and purred. “Now comes the treat.” She moved forward to kiss the fuming bard.

“Oh, no, no, no.” Gabrielle cried climbing to her feet.

“Gabrielle!” Xena stood and shed the cloak revealing a clingy beige tunic beneath. She walked to the fire and leaned down to move the pan with the cooking rabbit meat to the side. “Come and get some…food.” She said seductively knowing what effect she could produce when she put her physique to it.

Gabrielle’s eyes took in the form outlined beneath the tunic in the firelight. She bit her lip and turned away. That gorgeous body was not going to entice her this night, she steeled herself. Xena was going to pay for playing such a dastardly trick. Hallows Eve provided a choice: trick or treat. Xena had chosen ‘trick’ and it was just too presumptive of her to expect a ‘treat’ as a reward. 

Xena took the fragrant pan of rabbit and sat on a huge stump, patting a bare spot next to her. “At least have something to eat, Gabrielle.” She said in a bedroll tone of voice. She took a bite of meat and slowly licked grease from each of her long fingers with her tongue.

Gabrielle sighed; Xena wasn’t fighting fair. The warrior never fought fair when it came to dealing with an irritated bard. But Gabrielle was not going to let the warrior win this time. Yielding to the hungry growl in her stomach, she marched over and joined her partner on the tree stump. She needn’t eschew the delicious smelling roast rabbit but she had no intention of partaking of the even more delicious warrior.

Taking a large chunk of rabbit from the pan, the blonde tore off a small piece and slipped it into her mouth making a pronounced humming sound as she swooned ostensibly at the taste. Xena felt a hitch in her groin at the familiar albeit misplaced sound. So the battle is engaged, the dark-haired woman thought. Lifting her arms high above her head, Xena stretched thrusting her thinly clad breasts forward and moaning softly. Gabrielle felt a blush creep from her neck to her cheeks.  Oh, that’s just mean, the bard thought reacting to the sensuous sound and compelling bosom. She pulled another piece of meat free and slowly licked her lips before nibbling at the morsel. Then she tossed her head back and gave a long, lascivious sigh.

Xena pursed her lips. Gabrielle has gotten better at this, she had to acknowledge. She took the pan and reached in front of the bard to set it on the far side of the stump. Withdrawing her arm slowly, she made sure that her hand brushed the blonde’s breasts ever so lightly. “Take whatever you want.” She purred with a seductive smile. “You must have quite an appetite by now.”

Wide green eyes stared into flirty blue ones.  By the gods, Gabrielle momentarily lost all focus. Now she’s showing off. Regaining control, the bard stood and ran her hands slowly down her own sides. Xena gulped audibly and Gabrielle formed a triumphant smile. Avoiding the arm reaching out to enfold her waist, Gabrielle stood and straightened her back. She strolled over and grabbed her bedroll and dragged it to the other side of the campfire. Smoothing out the bedroll the bard settled beneath the blanket to pout.  And plot.

Xena retrieved her weapons and sank back down on the stump. Things had not gone at all as planned. She had purchased the mask at the village careful to stow it away from Gabrielle’s view. Once they had made camp, the warrior had gone hunting and finally found a plump rabbit for their supper. Then she had stayed in the brush watching as the pretty bard awoke and went to the lake. Donning the mask and cloak, Xena had crept into the camp and set the meat to cook in the heated pan, waiting by the fire for the bard to return.

Gabrielle’s initial reaction to the mask was precisely what the warrior had expected. But the depth of the bard’s anger afterwards had taken her by surprise. Where were the thank-you-for-saving  me hugs, the warrior wondered. Instead of finding the humor in the harmless trick, the ordinarily affectionate blonde had turned into a hornet. “I hate when that happens.” Xena muttered. Gabrielle was pissed off and the anger had persisted far beyond what Xena anticipated. Even the warrior’s best moves had failed to soothe the savage little beast. Instead of a night of love play, the trick had earned the hapless warrior a chilly night alone in an empty bedroll.

The mist deepened after Xena banked the fire and Gabrielle listened as the warrior sharpened her sword for a while then uttering a heavy sigh took to her solitary bed. Once the bard was sure that the sound of soft, regular breathing meant the warrior was asleep, she rose and made ready her plan.

Tying the whip to a low branch, Gabrielle rigged her pink nightgown to it and tested the mechanism that would swing the garment forward when she pulled the cord. She tiptoed to the campfire and stirred the pieces of wood apart to set low the amount of light it produced. Next she fastened Xena’s breastplate and other armor bits to a small tree. Placing the sword in the crook of one branch and the chakram in another, she stepped back to admire her work. In the now chest high mist and low light, the tree resembled a human form. There were two or three other things she tended to careful not to make even the slightest sound lest it wake the light sleeping warrior. Finally, satisfied with her handiwork, Gabrielle returned to her bedroll and the warmth of the heavy blanket.

An ear-piercing scream shattered the night. Pale blue eyes flew open and Xena, juices flowing, jumped to her feet. An ethereal pink apparition fluttered into her face.  She tore it free and launched it into a strand of thorny bushes. She saw a sword flash in the firelight and reached reflexively for a weapon at her side only finding the soft fabric of her tunic.

Gabrielle shrieked again and Xena stared into the fog to see the woman apparently wrestling with a huge furry beast. Racing to the embattled bard, Xena jammed her bare foot against a rock that had been mysteriously placed in her path and hopped on her good foot in a hurry to reach Gabrielle. Hitting a second obstruction, Xena pitched head first into the struggle at the bard’s bedroll. Blinded by the mist, she grabbed the blanket and searched for a solid form to subdue.

Gabrielle began to laugh as Xena tossed the blanket aside and knelt panting through the adrenalin surge. The bard lay beside the bedroll hands behind her head and legs crossed at the ankle, her shapely body clad only in a filmy tunic.

“Trick or treat.” She said with a sly smile.

Xena blew an errant strand of hair from her eyes and stared at the pretty blonde who wriggled seductively.  She sat back on her heels and caught her breath. Gabrielle was so invitingly adorable and a war of conflicting emotions raged in her head. Her foot hurt and she hadn’t released the urge to strangle someone, but Gabrielle was so tempting lying there with that come hither smile. But if she gave in to the bard, if she left the trick unanswered, it would feel like she had lost an unstated bet.

She stood up and walked back to her side of the campfire careful to avoid the obstacles in the path. She yanked the pink nightgown from a bush, ripped it apart and tossed it to the ground. Then she retrieved her weapons and armor and issued a curse loud enough to make the bard smile. “It’s on,” Xena muttered settling back on her bedroll.

An owl hooted into the chilly night air. The fog rippled growing ever higher and the bard and the warrior laid thinking of revenge on a night filled with demons beyond their own.  A spindly form floated through the dark, drawn to the scent of fear and anger. It licked its withered lips and perched high on a tree to observe the quarreling beings below. Its ethereal features crinkled with pleasure as it contemplated the coming feast. It would take the small one first. Sweet blood from a pretty vessel whose capacity for fear had been so readily displayed would be a satisfying treat. The larger being would provide a different satisfaction. Rage would make her blood richer to the taste; but it was fear that the creature hungered for. Fear was what the creature needed to elicit before consuming its victims.

The wraith sank lower in the trees and licked its vampire fangs. The crescent moon slipped from behind a cloud and shed a dim light on the slumbering scene below. The creature sensed the beings were unconscious. It was time to harvest the first one.

Gabrielle felt the approach and smiled. Xena was coming to apologize. The tricks were over and now they could enjoy the treat. She rolled onto her back and felt a feathery touch at her cheek. Her face flushed and she reached up to embrace her warrior.

“I love you.” She whispered her hands seeking to locate the warrior and guide her to her lips. What she felt hovering over her was a cold and shapeless mass. Her body tensed. She opened her eyes and saw only darkness. Then two red orbs blinked and stared hungrily at her.  She screamed.

Xena jerked awake and frowned. “Fooled me once, Gabrielle.” She muttered settling back beneath her blanket. Another scream made her spine tingle. Then she heard her name yelled in what was undeniable terror.

The warrior sprang to her feet and grabbed her weapons. The dim moonlight was just enough to let her perceive a shape hovering in the mist above the bard.  She sent the chakram at the dark shape only to watch it pass through without effect. Leaping into the air, the warrior banked off a nearby tree and sailed over the campfire spinning twice in the air.  Her sword swung through the dark shape but found nothing solid. Two red orbs turned to glare at the warrior. Xena grabbed up the bard with one hand and held the sword pointed at the writhing shape with the other.

The wraith recoiled, its senses tasting the emotions of the two mortals it was ready to consume. It could taste the rage, but there was no fear. The smaller being was no longer afraid. Issuing a hoarse roar, the wraith struck its hideous head forward. It coiled back again and moved to the side completing a full circle around them. All the while, its red orbs glared at the two women. Xena studied its movements searching for a weakness.

“What is it?” Gabrielle asked pressed against Xena’s back.

“I think we found the villagers’ witch. Or it found us.” Xena twirled the sword in her hand and kept her focus on the two red dots.

Gabrielle chuckled. “To tell the truth, I thought you were actually scarier, Xena.”

Xena felt a twinge of pride and smiled. “Sorry about that.”  The wraith faded slightly and withdrew a few feet from the women. “Wait. Did you see that?”

“I can only see your back, Xena.” Gabrielle answered. “I’m not looking at that thing unless I have to. And since you are here, I don’t have to.”

Xena forced a grin and noticed that the creature withdrew ever so slightly again. It was the weakness she’d been looking for.

“Gabrielle, say something funny.”

She felt the bard shake her head against her back. “What?”

“Say something hilarious.  I don’t think our guest has a sense of humor. It moves away whenever one of us laughs.”

               “Okay.” Gabrielle tried to think of something. “Remember when you killed Joxer with your chakram and I freaked out?”

“What?” Xena asked never taking her eyes off the red orbs. “You can’t remember that, only I can.”

Gabrielle scratched the edge of her mouth. “We’ll it seemed funny when you told me about it.”

Xena groaned and the wraith inched nearer.  “Funny, Gabrielle. It has to be funny.”

“Okay, okay.” Gabrielle thought for a moment. “How about when baby Bliss made you fall in love with Draco. I mean DRACO! Now that’s funny.”

“I think it’s funnier that Draco is still in love with you.”  Xena grinned.

The wraith moved away a few inches at the warrior’s smile then reformed ready to strike. Xena flexed her hand on the sword. “It’s got to be funnier than that, Gabrielle.  I want to see this thing react to a belly laugh.”

“Right. That’s a little hard to do on command you know.”  Gabrielle retorted. “I’m a bard not a comic. Why don’t you say something funny.”

Xena frowned. “I’m busy saving our asses, Gabrielle. You could at least try to help. Come on, make me laugh.”

Gabrielle used her fingers to tickle the warrior’s midriff.

Xena had no reaction to the touch. “Um, Gabrielle? You’re the one who’s ticklish, not me. And I can’t do anything about that at the moment.”

Gabrielle nodded in agreement. “I take your point.” A vision popped into her head and she stamped her feet excitedly. “I’ve got it. You were dead at the time…”

The wraith loomed closer and Xena had to dodge an appendage that darted out at her.


The bard grimaced sheepishly. “Sorry, that wasn’t the funny part. Your spirit was in Autolycus’ body and you made me close my eyes and…”

“GAB-RI-ELLE!” Xena sensed a shift in the creature and knew it was about to strike.

“You kissed me, well, it was like he kissed me but it was really you, and then there was someone’s hand on my butt. I think it was yours, it might have been his, but whatever, you were moving it because you were sort of controlling his body still and then you punched him…well, he kind of punched himself…only he knows why unless you did it because it really was his hand on my butt…”

Xena broke into a laugh. Not at the story but at the insane way in which the bard was relating it. Gabrielle’s arms tightened around the warrior’s waist and their laughter fed off of each other as the absurdity of the situation only amused them more.

The banter continued with the wraith slowly circling its prey at an ever farther distance. The women spoke of the lighter moments they had shared, the impossibly dumb antics of Joxer and the inexplicable moment when a naked Xena had been called ‘sir.’  Chuckles turned to fits of laughter and occasional guffaws. Xena lowered her sword and broke into a bawdy tavern song she’d learned from Meg, an impersonation that always made Gabrielle laugh until she had to pee.  Just as streaks of light began to spread across the eastern sky, the wraith vanished. The women went to their bedrolls and brought them together near the sputtering fire.

“Want me to put some wood on the fire?” Gabrielle asked through a yawn.

“Naw, I think we can find a better way to keep warm.” Xena grinned patting the blanket next to her. “That is if you are done with tricks and ready for a treat.”

“I didn’t like tricks.” Gabrielle said sinking tentatively beside the warrior.

Xena scooped her into her arms. “No more tricks. I promise.”

Gabrielle sighed. “I’ve decided I don’t much like Hallows Eve either. If you ask me, it will never catch on.”

Xena pulled her partner closer and bestowed a sweet little kiss on the bard’s forehead.

“That’s because we haven’t gotten to the treat part yet.”

Enfolding the smaller woman with strong arms, the warrior laid them back and slowly began the dance of love. Their passion led them to the treat each ardently preferred and they cuddled until the last vestige of the dark, bewitched night was vanquished. Happy and sated, Gabrielle snuggled beside her lover. Somewhere while being well ‘treated’, she had changed her mind about what she assumed could indeed become an annual festival.

               ‘Trick or treat’ echoes through the joys of childhood to this very day. Witches it is said still roam the earth once a year. But the spirit of Hallows Eve, the original meaning of ‘treat’ in that often queried choice is buried in the subtext ascribed to two famous lovers. May you be among the very lucky few who experience a ‘treat’ to rival that of the battling bard and her tricky warrior princess.

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