Awarded: 16 June 2000
Disclaimer: The characters of Xena and Gabrielle and others mentioned, belong to
MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No infringement on their rights are intended.
Subtext Disclaimer: No sex, but as usual there is an implied loving relationship between two consenting adult females. If this bothers you, or youre under age, or you live somewhere where this type of material is illegal, go away.
Timeline: Plan D #12.
Shock Factor: 7. For dramatic content.
Note: This story contains references to medical procedures, which I know nothing about and youll have to forgive, if you know the difference.
Ann, glad youre feeling better and thanks again for taking the time to find my oopsies.
Dont drink and drive.
Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction
"Jim, close this one. Im heading into four." Xena nodded to him and let the nurse wipe her forehead with a piece of gauze. Moving quickly around the operating table, the warrior burst into the scrub room, pulled off her gloves, apron and mask, dropping them in the biohazard bin. Grabbing a bar of cleanser, she scrubbed her arms, up past her elbows and rinsed off.
"Grace, four is ready." Sticking her head in, Joyce sighed and took a long look at her friend. "Is there anything I can get you?"
"Tell Faith to go home and that Ill call her when were done." Drying off her hands and arms, the warrior grabbed another mask and tied it around her face.
"Will do." Nodding, the nurse left to make the call.
Putting on another apron and gloves, Xena pushed the door with her butt, moving into OR4. "Okay people, lets get moving." She shouted, walking over to the table and looking down at the face of a young girl. Sighing, she turned to Mary and shook her head. "How many more are there?"
"Ten, at least and more on the way." Snapping on a pair of gloves, Mary shook her head as well. "Damn drunk driver." Muttering, she moved to the opposite side of the table and started the process of prepping the girl.
Xena turned away, moving to the large x-ray display unit and nodded to the nurse to turn it on. Watching it light up, she began studying the injuries and how she intended to repair them.
Gabrielle moved through the madness, that was the emergency room, trying to get to the desk, so she could answer the page coming over the PA. "Excuse me, please." Smiling, she slid in between two EMTs and finally caught sight of the counter. Apologizing as she went, the bard reached the desk and moved around the side. Picking up the in house phone, she dialed the extension and waited. "This is Faith."
"Faith, this is Joyce." Sounding rather harried, the nurse sighed.
"Hows it going up there?" Stepping aside, Gabrielle let another nurse by. "Its crazy down here."
"Same up here, but listen. I just talked to Grace and she said for you to go home and shed call you when she gets done." Wiping her forehead, Joyce rolled her neck, letting out some of the tension.
"I dont think I could leave if I wanted to." Sighing, the bard looked around and closed her eyes. "The ER is filled with families and theres media everywhere." Looking up quickly, she pressed her body against the wall as another person slipped by her. "Just tell her not to worry and Ill probably end up in her office. If I can find it."
"Okay." Nodding, Joyce smiled. "Youre some trooper, Faith."
"Guilt by association." Chuckling, Gabrielle moved further out of the traffic. "Look, Joyce, I know Grace is probably running around like a mad woman, but see if you can get her to eat something, will ya. Crackers, or anything you can get your hands on. She only had two doughnuts for breakfast and thats it for today."
The nurse laughed. "Oh, sure. Give me the tough jobs. Ill see what I can do and Ill talk to you later." Hearing her name being called over the intercom, Joyce hung up and trotted down the hall.
Gabrielle shook her head and hung up. "This is insane." Muttering to herself, she stepped out into the crowd of people and began making her way toward the elevators. Passing the waiting room, she saw the television displaying the scene of the accident and moved closer. Sighing, she watched, as a yellow school bus, lying upside down at the bottom of a hill was crawled over by emergency personnel, who were still trying to get the rest of the children out of the wreckage. Then the scene switched to earlier, when the driver of the truck was placed on a gurney and loaded into an ambulance. Other than the brace on his neck, he was apparently unharmed and was shouting, which could be heard as muffled background over the reporters voice. The scene switched again and Gabrielle shook her head as various shots of children being pulled from the upside down bus, passed over the screen and then it went to an aerial view, showing the entire accident site. "By the gods." She whispered, taking in the bus, the truck and the endless number of emergency vehicles and personnel, mixed with on lookers.
Moving out of the waiting room, Gabrielle made her way to the elevators and found the surrounding area packed with people, so she scooted around them and went for the stairs. Stepping inside the stairwell, she was immediately hit by the silence and sat down on the bottom step. Closing her eyes, she lowered her head to her knees and began to cry.
Somewhere over head, the sound of helicopters hummed as the stream of injured children continued to flow in. Throughout the day and into the night, the bards tears were joined by those of joy and relief from the parents and families of those children who survived, and by the wails of anguish from those whos world crumbled. The media captured as much of the emotion as they could, turning hot lights on the tear streaked faces of worried families and waited for the next agonizing cry to be heard.
Upstairs, out of the spot light and in the near silence of the operating room, Xenas hands moved methodically over a boy. As her hands continued to deftly repair the damage done, her mind focused, fighting off the effects of the long arduous day and she concentrated her thoughts. Using only the most efficient of techniques, she worked steadily on his injuries and ignored the sense of uneasiness that was settling on her heart. Glancing at his face, the warrior saw the pale complexion against the blood streaked skin and felt the dread starting to build. "Not this one." She whispered and went back to work. "Not this one." As she continued, Xena could feel the life drifting out of the small body in front of her, despite her efforts and redoubled them, fighting against time and fate. Checking the blood pressure monitor, she swore under her breath. "Come on, dont do this to me."
Looking up, Mary gave her a confused stare. "What?"
"Get a blue team in here now!" Xena shouted, then went back to working furiously on stopping the internal bleeding.
"Whats going on?" Still staring, Mary saw people starting to move around, out of the corner of her eye. "Grace?"
"Hes drifting." Lifting her eyes, momentarily, the warrior felt the sweat rolling down her forehead.
Mary shook her head. "Drifting?"
"Dont gawk at me!" Growling, Xena glared at her. "Work!."
Shaken by the force of the words, Mary stared for a second more, then returned to her job of putting the boy back together. "Okay." She said softly.
Wiping her forehead on her sleeve, the warrior could almost see the boys soul leaving his body. Glancing up, she saw the blue team enter with their equipment, then turned as the heart monitor flat lined. "Dammit!" Shouting, she began giving orders and moved aside, taking her place at the boys head. "Come on, you." Looking down at him, the warrior shook her head. "Dont you give up on me. Im not going to let you get off that easy." Closing her eyes, Xena listened to the team work and concentrated on the boy. "Come on." Whispering, she waited and felt the table jump as the boys body jerked in response to the electricity being pumped into it.
T stood silently in the corner of the operating room, invisible to the people around her and the warrior. Watching Xena closely, she sighed. "Xena." Her whisper unheard amongst the shouts, she could see the boys soul rising from his body and felt the pain in Xenas heart, as the warrior pushed the team aside and refused to give up on the child. Closing her eyes, her mind went back to the time Xena had done the same thing to Gabrielle. Refusing to let the bard go, the warrior had almost physically dragged her soul back from the other side. Then her vision moved to all the times they had watched each other die, feeling the anger and sadness they felt and her own pain at watching her friends suffer. In every lifetime, shed watched them die and in every lifetime, she stood by and let it happen. Telling herself that it was for the best and knowing they would return. Opening her eyes, T shook her head. "Not this one." Knowing the boys soul would not enter the circle, she watched it hover over his body, hanging suspended between worlds by the sheer force of Xenas will. Shifting her eyes to the warrior, she heard the familiar words echo off the tiled walls and felt her heart begin to break. Walking to the table, she passed through several doctors and took Xenas place at the boys head. Looking down, she saw the innocence wasted by a twist of fate and closed her eyes, as the faces of the other children that had crossed over, played in her mind. Taking those images, she sent them to the man whod caused the accident and felt his uneasiness build, as his slumbering mind moved into a nightmare of fearful screams from the children and visions of small twisted bodies flooded his soul.
Opening her eyes again, T watched the boys soul continue to hover and shook her head. As it shifted, a face appeared, smiling at her in a peaceful semblance of the one that was pale and bloodied. Smiling back, she glanced at the warrior, as Xenas motion slowed, then stopped and time stood still.
"Why wont she let me go?" The boy asked.
"Shes stubborn." T replied.
"But its my time." He said softly.
"She doesnt believe that." T smiled.
"Can she save me?" He asked with a curious expression.
"Do you want her to?" T asked back, with a look of expectation.
The boys face screwed into thought and then he sighed. "I dont know." He said finally, his expression moving to confused.
"Thats why youre still here." She informed him. "Until you decide, her will holds you here."
Nodding in comprehension, the boy looked down at the warrior. "Why does she try so hard?"
"Shes a warrior." T smiled. "Fighting for life is what she does."
"But why me?" He asked with the innocence of the child he was.
Sighing, T looked down at his mortal face. "Because she believes that every life is precious and that every life is worth fighting for." Looking up, she smiled sadly. "To her, youre the most important person in the world, because she cant imagine the world without you in it and her love and compassion wont let her let you give up. She believes in your life and your hope and your love and all the things that go with it. She believes in you."
The boy nodded again and sighed. "What do I do?"
"What do you want to do?" She asked quietly.
The boy looked at Xena again, seeing the frozen expression of frustration and determination in her eyes. "I want to see her smile."
"Shes too old for you and shes married." Chuckling, T shook her head.
That made the boy smile and he giggled. "I want to stay." Grinning, his face started to dissolve back into the shimmering light it had been before.
T watched, as time started speeding up to normal and the boys soul lowered back into his body. "Those blue eyes get em every time." Smiling, she turned to see the heart monitor display the first stuttered blips, then moved back to the corner of the room.
"Sweet Jesus." Mary gasped, watching the heartbeat grow strong and steady. "Hes alive."
"Get that shit out of my way!" Xena shouted, pushing the defib cart across the room with her foot. "Ive still got a lot of work to do here."
Shaking herself, Mary blinked, then moved back to the table. "Grace, that was amazing."
Sighing, the warrior grabbed her tools and went back to patching up the small body. "Dont you have more important things to do, than to stare at me?" She growled, not taking her eyes of the boy.
"Right." Smiling, she grabbed the nearest tray of instruments and went back to work.
Smirking, T left the operating room and grabbed a blanket and a pillow from a closet. Walking down the corridors, she watched the nurses and doctors move around, oblivious to her presence and continued on, until she passed through the solid oak door of Xenas office. Smiling, she looked down at Gabrielle, curled up, asleep on the couch. Kneeling beside the bard, T tossed the blanket over her and gently lifted her head, sliding the pillow underneath. "Its almost over." She whispered. "She did good." Leaning forward, she placed a soft kiss on Gabrielles head, then stood up. Moving around the desk, she sat down in Xenas chair and pulled a note pad over. Smiling, she scribbled a message on the paper, then pulled it off and stuck it to computer screen. Chuckling softly, she stood and took another look at the bard. "I think we all could use a nap." Smiling again, she popped out.
"Hey." Xena said softly as she gently shook Gabrielles shoulder. "Wake up. Its time to go home."
Frowning, the bard pulled the blanket up to her neck. "I dont want to go to work today." Mumbling into the back of the couch.
Smiling, the warrior knelt down and tried again. "Gabrielle, youre at the hospital and its Saturday." Giving the bard another gentle shake. "Wake up."
"Go away." Grumbling in her sleep, Gabrielle pulled the blanket over her head. "I dont like oatmeal."
Xena rolled her eye and tugged on the blanket. "Gabrielle, Im tired and I want to go home. Wake up."
"I am not a midget." Sounding aggravated, the bard resisted the blankets removal. "Xena, you just ran over my foot." Pulling one of her legs up in reflex.
That got a laugh from the warrior and she had to sit down on the floor, before she fell over. "I knew you never forgave me for that." Shaking her head, Xena rubbed her tired eyes and sighed. "This is going to be fun." Stretching her arms, the warrior arched her back, then got back on her knees. Taking a firm hold on the edge of the blanket, she tugged hard. "Gabrielle, get your lazy butt out of bed. Im going to be late for my board exam." Switching to plan beta, Xena used the bards memories against her. "And if I miss it, Im going to tell Dad it was because you had me up all night, doing ungodly things to my body." Smiling wickedly, she gave the blanket another tug.
"Im awake. Im awake." Opening her eyes, Gabrielle lowered the blanket and jerked her head back, as she tried to focus on the couch a few inches from her face. "Where the hell am I?" Mumbling, she stared at the green leather in confusion. "Xena?"
"Youre in my office." Smiling, Xena sat back down on the floor, bringing her knees up, she wrapped her arms around them. "On my couch."
As recognition set in, the bard rubbed her eyes and rolled over to see the smiling face of the warrior. "What time is it?" Sitting up, she pulled the blanket around her and yawned.
"A little after seven." Getting up, the warrior scooted Gabrielle to the end of the couch, then sat down beside her. "Its been a long night." Laying her head back, she closed her eyes.
"How did you do?" Pulling the blanket off her shoulders, the bard spread it over their legs.
"All the kids that made it to the hospital survived." Xena said quietly.
"Thats great, Xena." Perking up, Gabrielle smiled. "Thats great news. Im so glad to hear that."
"Me too." Smiling, the warrior felt herself drifting off and lifted her head. "We better get out of here before I fall asleep." Opening her eyes, she yawned.
Gabrielle got up and pulled the blanket with her. "Whos going to mind the store?" Folding the blanket she watched the warriors eyes starting to close. "Xena."
"Im awake." Yawning again, Xena got up and stretched. "Let me log in and do some quick paper work, then Ill be ready."
"Okay." Tossing the blanket on the couch, the bard yawned and gave the warrior a smile. "Im so glad you did good, Xena. I really am." Wrapping her arms around Xenas waist, she pulled her close. "Those kids didnt deserve what they got."
"No, they didnt." Sighing, the warrior wrapped her arms around Gabrielles shoulders and rested her chin on sleep tousled blonde hair.
Knocking on the door, Jim counted to five, before he stuck his head in and smiled. "Well at least youve got clothes on." Chuckling, he entered the office to two smirks and presented Grace with a large stack of folders. "Im done."
Shaking her head, Xena pointed to the desk. "Im not dealing with that today, theyll have to wait until tomorrow."
Grinning, he walked around the desk and put down the stack, then came back to the door. "Mary and Manny volunteered to take the first shift, that leaves me and you tonight."
Nodding, she smiled. "Tell them thanks and to call me if there are any changes what so ever. Weve got a lot of kids to keep an eye on."
"Ill tell em." Opening the door, he smiled. "Now go home and get some sleep, you two look like shit." Chuckling, Jim ducked out the door, closing it quickly behind him.
"I know he wasnt talking to me." Gabrielle smiled and ran her fingers through her hair.
"Well, there arent two of me." Smiling smugly, Xena moved around the desk and pulled out the chair. "Ill be ready in five minutes."
"Sure." Smiling, the bard picked up the blanket and pillow. "Where do these go?"
"Just give them to Joyce. She can put them in the laundry." Turning to the computer, Xena saw a sticky note on her monitor and pulled it off.
"Whats that?" Seeing the strange look on the warriors face, Gabrielle came around the desk to glance at the note. "This is good for 37 Ungaran massages, as thanks from all the children that you wouldnt let give up and never knew what it was like to have a champion, until they met you. T." Smiling, the bard leaned on the back of Xenas chair. "Thirty seven?"
"Thats how many children made it to the hospital." Xena said quietly. "She was here yesterday." Glancing up at the bard, her face showed a little surprise. "Did you see her?"
"No, but I think it explains the blanket and pillow." Hugging the items, the bard bent over and kissed Xenas cheek. "Looks like youre going to be relaxed for a long time."
Finally a smile started to play on the warriors lips. "Yea. I guess I am." Reading the note again, she folded it and put it in her jeans pocket. "Hey, just throw that on the couch and lets get out of here. Im really not in the mood for paperwork."
"Feeling those magic fingers calling?" Chuckling, Gabrielle gave the warrior a smile and walked around the desk.
"Something like that." As she got to her feet, Xena chuckled softly and shook her head. Smiling, she moved to join the bard at the door. "I love you, Gabrielle." Reaching down, she brought the bards lips to hers and pulled her close.
Falling into the kiss, Gabrielle wrapped her arms around Xenas waist. Once the moment had passed, she opened her eyes and saw a twinkle in the blue above her. "I love you." Smiling warmly, the bard took the warriors hand and opened the door. "Lets go home."
"Thats the second best offer Ive had all day." Following behind, Xena closed the door and smiled.
Xena spotted T sitting on the porch of her cabin, in her usual position of bare feet propped up on the rail, chair tilted back, head back, hands behind head. As she approached, the warrior pulled the yellow note out of her pocket and smiled.
Sighing, T opened her eyes and lifted her head, when Xena stepped up on the porch. "Are you the next grand prize winner?" Bringing her hands from behind her head, she interlaced her fingers and cracked her knuckles.
Chuckling, the warrior leaned against the post by Ts feet. "Actually, Im here to ask you a question."
Ts face screwed into a scowl and she looked down at her claws. "I guess that manicure was a waste."
"A serious question." Xena amended and saw Ts expression change accordingly.
"Okay. Whats the question?" Laying her hands in her lap, T waited.
Tapping her finger with the note, the warrior stared at the note a moment, then looked up at T. "You were there yesterday."
"Yes." Keeping her tone on a normal level.
"Did you . . . " Wondering how to ask the question, Xena looked at the note again.
"Did I use my powers?" T offered.
"Yea." Glancing up again, the warrior sighed. "Were you the reason they made it?"
"Yes and no." Smiling, T pulled her feet down and sat up straight. "Yes, I did use my powers, but not in the way you think." Picking up her iced tea, she took a sip, then set it back on the small table beside the chair.
"What did you do?" Moving sideways, Xena leaned on the rail directly in front of her and smiled a little smile.
"I just talked to them, the ones that were leaving and asked a couple of questions." Bringing one leg up, T held it to her chest with one arm. "And the only reason I had the chance to talk to them, is because you wouldnt let their souls go."
"I wouldnt let their souls go?" As her brow wrinkled, the warrior hopped up to sit on the railing. "Is that what you meant by the thing about me not letting them give up?"
T chuckled and nodded. "Your influence is quite substantial when you get stubborn."
Xena rolled her eyes. "Im tired, T. Can we not dance around please. I want to go to bed."
"My apologies." Sighing, T smiled. "You have an extra sense, like how you can always tell when Ares is around and you can feel a soul slipping away, right?"
Thinking a moment, the warriors brow wrinkled again. "I can feel them drifting." Nodding finally. "Yea."
"Thats when you go into overdrive and your will, for lack of a better word, holds their souls in between worlds until either you give up, or they do." Pulling the other leg up, she leaned back in the chair.
"Oh." Xena said quietly, then folded her arms across her chest.
"Its that ability, Xena, that made you such a lethal warrior and its also what makes you such a good doctor." Smiling, T took another sip of tea.
Sitting silent, the warrior considered what shed learned. "What did you talk to them about?"
"Well, mainly I answered more than I asked, but essentially, I told them that they had a choice and asked them if they wanted to go." T chuckled a bit and shook her head. "Although children are always a lot more interesting to talk to."
Xena smirked and nodded. "The things that pop into their heads."
"Oh, I didnt talk to their minds." Shaking her head, T smiled. "I was talking to their souls."
Frowning, the warrior sighed. "Souls?" She asked drolly.
"Sorry." Rolling her eyes. "When you hold their souls, theyre suspended between worlds, on a different plane of time, but theyre still close to their bodies. For you, time stands still, but for them, time continues to pass. We were chatting while you were statuesque and that one boy, the last one you worked on? I think hes in love with you."
"Youre going to make me sit here all day, arent you." Xena glared.
T laughed and shook her head. "Okay. Here we go." Putting her legs down, she got up and moved to lean against the railing beside the warrior. "Souls have a greater ability to comprehend than the mind, which you know and as their souls were suspended, or held, if you will, they were curious as to why they werent going anywhere. So, I told them why and explained about how you were stubborn and wouldnt let them go and then they would ask why and I would tell them that it was because you believed that every life was worth fighting for and that if they wanted to leave they could, or that they could stay." Taking a deep breath, she continued. "Most of them want to know more about you, since youre usually hovering over them and I give them a brief low down on the warrior princess aspect of your personality, then theyre usually surprised that a stranger could care so much and then they choose. Normally, they stay because they want to see their families again and stuff like that, but the boy just wanted to see you smile. I think the blue eyes hooked him." Finishing with a low chuckle, T watched the warriors face turn into a confused frown.
"He wanted to see me smile?" Arching an eyebrow, Xena blinked a couple of times.
"I think it was because he couldnt see all of your face." Waving at her face, T smiled. "The mask was in the way, but he defiantly gave those baby blues a good look and youre not the most hideous person to look at and hes male, which adds up to one serious crush and another soul back in a body."
Xena slapped her forehead, covered her eyes and shook her head slowly. "Oh, not that one." Sighing, she dropped her head. "Are you saying that that boy came back because he has a crush on me?"
"More or less." T nodded with a smile. "I think it was also because he liked the idea of having someone who believes in him. Thats something children dont get a lot of now a days." Smiling sadly, she sighed. "Or ever, for that matter." Shaking her head, T snapped out of her seriousness. "Anyway, I did inform him that you were too old for him and that you were married, but I dont think he cared."
Lowering her hand, the warrior chuckled. "Are there anymore love struck children I need to know about?" Turning to smirk at T.
"I think hes the only one whos serious, but Id be careful around the boys, they were definitely giving you the once over." T laughed as she was shoved sideways and caught her balance before she hit the ground. "Sorry, should I have told them you liked girls?"
Hopping off the railing, Xena gave her a glare. "Im going to bed now and Im going to forget we had this conversation." Sticking out her tongue, the warrior turned and stepped off the porch, walking away, then she stopped and turned around. "Do you talk to all my patients?"
"If youre asking if this was the first time I was there while you were working, the answer is no." Smiling, T leaned against the post. "I may not have been in your life, Xena, but I was always there. Always."
Nodding slowly, the warrior smiled. "Thanks."
"And Xena. It wasnt me, who saved them." Smiling warmly, she chuckled. "It was you and your skill and compassion that brought them back. I never used my power to interfere."
Lowering her eyes, the warrior sighed. "Thanks, T." Smiling, Xena turned and walked back to the house.
Gabrielle lay awake, listening to Xenas slow steady breathing. Smiling, she fluffed the pillow under her head and looked down at the warrior, who was sleeping with her head on the bards chest. Gently moving some dark hair way from Xenas face, she could almost make out a peaceful expression. Smiling again, Gabrielle lifted her head and placed a soft kiss on dark hair, then laid back and closed her eyes.
Having gotten her sleep in during the night, the bard had gone to bed anyway, knowing Xena slept better when she was there and was a little surprised when the warrior had curled up on top of her and snuggled in. That action just added to the bards list of odd behavior, which included Xenas smile when she got back from Ts and her definite lack of conversation. At first, Gabrielle had attributed this to the massage she had gotten, until she was informed that the warrior had only talked to T and that the massages would be saved for really tense days. Somewhere, the bard thought, during her visit, Xena had gotten an attitude adjustment. Which wasnt a bad thing, not that she really need one, but it was still giving her something to wonder about. Xena wasnt usually this quiet and she most certainly wasnt usually this, well, cuddly. Thats my job, she thought again. Im the cuddle-er, shes the cuddle-ee. Smiling at her own thought, Gabrielle sighed. Staring up at the ceiling, she got a sense of what Xena did all the times she lay awake while the bard had slept on her. It wasnt bad really and Gabrielle was kind of finding it enjoyable. She was getting a strange feeling of contentment out of it. Smiling again, she wrapped her arms around Xenas shoulders. Well, she deserves it, the bard thought. She worked hard yesterday and the gods only know what she went through. It mustve been like the old days of having to patch up soldiers, but they werent soldiers. They were children. Thats what had gotten to Gabrielle. Watching the gurneys go by with small broken bodies on them and shed finally had to leave the emergency room, because she couldnt stand to see them suffering and not be able to help. That was Xenas job. Helping and healing. And somehow, Xena, Jim, Mary and Manny had pulled off a miracle, saving all the children that survived to reach the hospital. Closing her eyes, Gabrielle tried to imagine what it had been like and shuddered. All those children, she thought and hugged the warrior tighter. You never stop fighting, do you? Even when there arent any more evil gods and warlords, you just keep right on battling. Smiling, she opened her eyes and looked down at the sleeping warrior. "My warrior." She whispered. "My champion."
Sighing, Xena signed the last piece of paper work, then closed the folder and put on top of the stack. "I hate this part of the job." Muttering to herself, she got up and stretched. "Now for dessert."
Sticking his head in the door, Jim smiled. "You ready to rock and roll?"
"Finally." Xena nodded and smacked the stack of folders. "I think my hand is numb." Shaking her right hand, the warrior came around the desk and grabbed her smock and stethoscope off the couch.
Opening the door wider, he laughed. "I wont remind you who has to type up those reports." Jim said smugly. "Otherwise Id be forced to ask for a raise."
Pulling on her smock, the warrior patted his cheek. "Im glad you found a way to restrain yourself." Chuckling, Xena slung the stethoscope around her neck and slipped past her assistant.
Rolling his eyes, Jim closed the door and followed Grace down the corridor. "Get some sleep?"
"Oh, yea." Nodding heartily, the warrior smiled. "I slept like a baby."
"Hows the wall paper holding up?" Smirking, he laughed at the glare that came his way. "Just wondering?" Shrugging, he chuckled.
"And if I ever see police crime scene tape again, I will hunt you down and kill you." Giving Jim a gentle shove, Xena rolled her eyes.
"Actually, I used it all when Brian and I came to visit you guys at the university." He sighed. "Ive got to talk to my friend on the force and see if I can get another roll."
"Well, Im glad to see that my tax dollars are going to a worthy cause." She said sarcastically.
Jim smiled. "Oh, they are. Trrrruuuussst me." Side stepping a swat, he waved at Mary, who was standing at the nurses station. "Ready to hit the highway?"
"Well, not like Grace hits the highway, but Im ready to go." Laughing, Mary handed him a metal clipboard.
"All of you can be replaced." Xena informed them with a smug smile. "Now can we get off the subject of me and on to the business of our patients?"
"Oooo." Mary took a step back. "Shes in fine form today." She said to Jim. "Better you than me." Giving him a sympathetic pat and a smile.
"God, I just love this job." He nodded and ignored Grace. "So, whats the latest?"
As Mary gave them a pass down, Manny joined them and they moved into one of the conference rooms. Flipping through the charts, Xena made notes and they all discussed the cases individually, starting with the children that were in ICU and working their way down to the ones that could be released the next day. When all the cases were covered, they broke up and Mary and Manny went home, while Xena and Jim started sorting through the charts. During this time, Xena heard a page over the PA and rolled her chair to the wall, picking up an in house phone and dialing the extension.
"Dr. Morgan." Glancing down at a chart in her lap.
"Where are you?" Gabrielle asked.
Xena held the phone away from her ear and stared at it, then brought it back. "Where are you?"
"In your office." Smiling, the bard doodled on the warriors desk calendar.
"Why?" Closing the chart, Xena handed it to Jim, who was giving her a curious stare.
"I couldnt sleep." Drawing a bunch of flowers, Gabrielle heard a sigh at the other end.
"So you decided to give the couch another whirl?" Chuckling, the warrior rolled her eyes at Jim. "Am I going to have to take it home?"
Laughing, the bard leaned back in the chair and glanced at the item in question. "No. I was just wondering what you were up to?"
"Five feet ten." Xena responded with a smile. "But you should really know that already, considering how long weve been married."
"Xena." Gabrielle said in an exasperated tone. "I was wondering if youd started your rounds yet?"
"Ahhhh. The plot thickens." Smirking, the warrior leaned back in the chair.
"Do you two ever have normal conversations?" Jim asked with a smile, since he could only hear half of the conversation.
"Is that a rhetorical question?" She asked him back, which got a chuckle out of Jim.
"Xena." Gabrielle sighed and rolled her eyes.
"Im here." Xena returned her attention to the phone. "So, do you want to come along?"
"Where?" Confused, the bard didnt know if she was being addressed, or if the warrior was still talking to Jim.
"On rounds." Clearing up the matter. "That is why youre here, right? To tag along and check on the kids? That motherly thing is kicking in?"
"Im completely transparent, arent I." Shaking her head, Gabrielle smiled.
"Youre a little fuzzy around the edges, but keep working on it." Xena replied and heard hysterical laughter in her ear and she chuckled. "Stay there, well swing by and pick you up."
"Thanks." She said softly. "Ill be here. Bye."
"Bye." Hanging up the phone, the warrior smiled. "Weve got company this trip."
"So I heard." Jim smiled. "And I wont ask what the fuzzy thing meant." Standing, he picked up some of the charts.
"Inside joke." Xena told him, with a smirk. "Old inside joke." Getting up, the warrior pushed the chair back to the table and picked up the remaining charts. "Shall we?" Nodding toward the door.
"After you." He chirped with a wink. "Age before beauty."
Letting the jibe go with a look, the warrior opened the door and walked out into the corridor. "After we pick up Faith, lets start with ICU."
"Sounds good." Jim nodded and closed the door.
When they picked up the bard, Xena found a smock for her and made her carry some of the charts, just so she wouldnt feel like a fifth wheel, then they started making the rounds and took the elevator up to ICU. Moving from room to room, Xena and Jim reviewed the charts and examined the children, taking care not to disturb the sleeping ones and chatting with the ones that were awake, while they joked and asked questions and answered some. They also talked to the parents, who were mostly half asleep and had one main question. Giving them truthful answers, the warrior explained the condition of each child and made recommendations for what was going to be necessary, once the children were released.
While they were talking, Gabrielle would take the opportunity to move close to the beds, to look down on innocent faces. Some were hooked up to equipment and she sighed at the tubes that ran from them, knowing that it was going to be a long road ahead for most of the children. Some would be permanently disabled and some would walk away, but they would all have scars from the accident, whether physical, or emotional. But, she thought, theyre alive. Which was the only thing that kept her from breaking down into sobs as she watched them struggle to hang on.
Reaching the last of the ICU patients, Xena flipped open the chart and smiled. "Joseph Asher."
"Is he special?" Gabrielle asked, somewhat relieved that her arms were empty.
"He was the last one I worked on. Hes the one that Code Blued while we were operating. The little so and so tried to bail on me. I had to drag his little butt back." Nodding, the warrior handed Jim the chart and walked toward the room.
Jim chuckled. "Mary told me about him. Said you pulled off some kind of miracle."
"I didnt want him to ruin my record." Xena said with a smile.
"Somehow, Im starting to feel really sorry for him." Flipping open the chart, he scanned the information. "Good God, Grace. You did pull off a miracle."
"What?" Stepping up beside Jim, Gabrielle peeked at the chart then looked up at him.
"Almost all of his major organs were damaged." Reading, he shook his head. "He had internal bleeding, a punctured lung and she basically had to put everything back together, then put it back where it was supposed to be."
"I just did what I had to do." Xena said simply.
"Grace, his heart was stopped for ten minutes and you brought him back." Jim said softly. "Id say thats a little above and beyond the call of duty."
Shrugging, the warrior peeked into the room and saw Josephs parents asleep in the chairs. Stepping in, she walked over to them and gave his father a gentle shake.
Opening his eyes, the man looked up, as a worried expression took hold of his face.
Xena shook her head quickly and knelt down beside him. "Its okay. Were here to check on him." Keeping her voice low, she smiled. "Hes doing fine, we just want to give him a look see. I didnt want you to be startled."
Nodding, the father rubbed his eyes. "Thanks." Sighing, he sat up and yawned. "Is he going to be okay?"
"Possibly." She said honestly. "Right now, hes breathing on his own and his heart beat is strong, but we want to keep him in ICU for awhile, so we can keep a closer eye on him. His insides took quite a beating and I want to make sure theyre going to run right, before we move him. Hes still got a long way to go, before hell be able to get up and move around."
As he looked down, the father nodded, taking in the information, then sighed and smiled. "Are you the surgeon who operated on my son?"
Xena smiled and put out her hand. "Yes, Im Grace Morgan. Dr. Stewart and I were the ones who worked on your son." Shaking his hand, she patted it. "Thats quite some boy youve got there, by the way. He gave us a little scare there, Mr. Asher."
"Nick." Chuckling. "And I heard. The other doctor told us that you pulled him back from the grave."
Rolling her eyes, the warrior shook her head with a sigh. "Mary likes to exaggerate. I just decided that I preferred him here."
That got a laugh out of Nick. "She said you were saying some very nasty things to him."
Gabrielle chuckled and covered her mouth, when the warrior glanced over her shoulder and glared at her. "Sorry."
"Lets just saaaay." Turning back to Nick. "That when I set my mind to something, I dont take no for an answer."
"Well, Im not complaining." Smiling, Nick nodded. "Thank you, for saving my son."
Giving him a warm smile, Xena got to her feet. "Youre welcome, but I had help. If you need anything, just go to the nurses station and theyll fix you up."
Moving to the bed, Jim smirked, but kept his chuckle at bay.
Gabrielle followed him, walking to the other side of the bed. "Hes cute." She whispered to Jim, who nodded and pulled back the sheet, revealing a small bare body, covered in stitches.
Patting Nick on the shoulder, Xena moved to the bedside, to stand next to the bard and started her examination.
Stepping back, the bard moved behind the warrior to scoot to the left down by his legs.
Moving her hands gently over his body, the warrior checked it carefully, as her face took on her doctor mask, which was like her warrior mask, being fairly devoid of emotion. Concentrating on what she was doing, she didnt see his eyes open and was surprised when he spoke.
"Dont you ever smile?" Jo asked quietly.
Turning her head, Xena arched an eyebrow and stared at him. "Who wants to know?"
"Me." He said as one side of is mouth went up into a lopsided smile.
Jim chuckled and glanced at Faith, who was smiling as well.
"And you are?" Raising the other eyebrow, Xena refused to smile.
"Jo." Lifting his hand, he held it up. "Who are you?"
Taking his hand, the warrior shook it gently. "Grace." Letting go of his hand, she stood up straight and put her hands on her hips.
Smiling, Jo gave a little chuckle. "Youre pretty."
"Is that right." Xena smirked. "Well, youre not so bad looking yourself, there Jo." Leaning back down, she rested her arms on the rail. "How are you feeling?"
Frowning for a second, he closed his eyes. "Fair to partly cloudy." Opening his eyes, Jo finally got what he wanted, which was a big smile from Xena. "I like your eyes."
Holding the smile, the warrior shook her head. "Youre flirting with me, arent you?"
Gabrielle shook her head and rolled her eyes, giving Jim a smile.
Taking his cue, Jim handed Faith the chart. "I think hes well on the way to recovery." He said dryly and smiled. "Ill start on the ones downstairs."
Nodding, Jo smiled big, displaying two missing front teeth.
"Youre a little young for her, dont you think?" Joining the conversation, Gabrielle hugged the chart and leaned over the rail.
Jo shook his head.
Chuckling, the bard reached down and tugged on one of his toes, under the sheet. "Well, she is married, ya know."
Nodding again, he smiled. "Dont care, shes still pretty."
Xena laughed. "Careful Jo, you might be getting into trouble here. You keep this up and youll have to deal with the green eyed monster." Giving the bard a quick glance and a smile.
"She dont look so tough to me." He giggled, looking at the bard. "I could take her."
Gabrielle leaned back and laughed, shaking her head. "It never ends."
Rolling her eyes, the warrior pulled the sheet back up over his torso and smiled. "I think I better get out of here, before a fight breaks out." Brushing his hair out of his eyes, Xena leaned down and kissed his forehead. "Ill be back tomorrow to check on you, okay."
Sighing, Jo nodded. "Are you really a warrior?" He asked softly.
"What?" Xena asked as her eyes bugged out of her head.
Gabrielle stopped laughing and stared at the boy. "What did he say?" Quickly glancing over at his parents, she was relieved to find that Nick had gone back to sleep.
"That lady said you were." Smiling again, he rubbed his eyes.
"What lady?" Moving back to the bed, the bard leaned over the rail.
"The dark haired one that I talked to. She said that you were good at fighting and thats why you wouldnt let me go." Sighing a little tiredly, Jo smiled anyway.
Gabrielle exchanged a look with Xena.
"T." Xena said softly and smiled. "Ill explain later."
"Well?" Jo asked as his eyes started to close.
"Yes, Jo. I am a warrior." She said softly. "And shes a bard, but thats a secret just between the three of us, okay?" Turning her head to smile at Gabrielle.
Smiling, he nodded and opened his eyes again. "Whats a bard?"
"Its someone who writes and tells stories." Gabrielle answered quietly.
"Can you tell me a story?" Jo asked, fighting with his eyelids.
Smiling, the bard nodded. "Id love to, but you better get some rest. Ill come back later and tell you one about a mighty warrior princess and all the wonderful things she did."
Smiling, Jo nodded and gave up the fight. "Okay." He whispered as he drifted off to sleep.
Giving him a final smile, Xena led the bard quietly out of the room. "Well that was interesting." She said finally.
Smiling, Gabrielle handed the warrior the chart and wrapped her arms around Xenas free arm. "I think I like that one."
"Not afraid he can take you?" Chuckling, the warrior headed them toward the elevators.
"Nah." Shaking her head, the bard smiled. "For once, Id finally get to fight somebody that was shorter than me."
"Careful." Xena warned. "You gotta watch those little guys. Theyre pretty scrappy, I should know."
"Yea, I guess you should." Pushing the button for the elevator, Gabrielle sighed. "So, what did T do? Tell him you life story?"
"Ill let her tell, you." Shaking her head. "Its kind of complicated." Pulling the bard into the elevator, Xena pushed the button for her next set of patients.
"Hmmm." Resting her head on the warriors shoulder, Gabrielle closed her eyes.
"I guess its back to the couch for you." Smiling, the warrior kissed the top of the bards head.
"No." Lifting her head, the bard opened her eyes. "Im not tired, Im just happy." Smiling up into those beautiful blue eyes.
"You sure?" Smiling down into deep green.
"Yep." Nodding, Gabrielle stepped off the elevator, when the doors opened and pulled the warrior out. "Come on, Ive got to find out how much competition Ive got around here."
Laughing, Xena let herself be dragged down the corridor and shook her head. "The green eyed monster is on the move."
Gabrielle stayed while Xena and Jim finished their rounds, then she took a nap on the couch, while the warrior sat at her desk and did more paper work. When she woke up, they went down to the cafeteria and ate quietly in a corner, talking and joking. Once her tummy was full, she went up to check on Jo and found that he was still sleeping soundly and spent the rest of the twelve hour shift, walking around the hospital, as shed done many times before, chatting with her friends and catching up on the local gossip, which she discovered still included her. Eventually, Xena hunted her down and they finally left the next morning and went home. Before they went to bed, Gabrielle gave T a visit and got the low down on her participation and found out what exactly shed told Jo, which made her smile. Then she walked back to the house and slipped out of her clothes and into the warm embrace of her warrior, for another nap.
It was several days before Xena said it was all right for her to tell Jo a story, stating that he needed to get a lot of rest and that Gabrielle would have to make it a short one. Picking a short, but good story, the bard plied her talent on the boy and found him to be an eager audience, who asked questions and laughed in the right spots. Xena watched this, from the doorway and as an idea formed, she slipped out, to hunt down her boss. When she returned, she found Jo asleep and the bard standing by the bed watching him contentedly.
"Hey." Xena whispered, sidling up to Gabrielle. "Did he like the story?"
Gabrielle nodded and smiled. "I had to promise to come back and tell him another one, before hed go to sleep."
"Hmmm." Smiling, the warrior nodded. "Its funny that you should say that."
"Why?" Glancing up at the warrior, the bard gave her a curious look.
"Come on, Ill explain outside." Taking the bards hand, Xena lead her into the corridor.
"So whats up?" Walking beside Xena, Gabrielle tilted her head. "Youve got one of those looks."
"I had an idea, while you were telling Jo the story." Smiling, the warrior pulled the bard into a conference room.
"Okay, Im getting a bad feeling about this one." Folding her arms across her chest, the bard shook her head. "What idea did you have?"
"How would you like to work here, part time." Moving to the table, Xena sat down on it.
"Doing what?" Following the warrior, Gabrielle stood in front of her and arched an eyebrow. "Im not changing bed pans, Xena."
"Not that." Chuckling, the warrior shook her head. "How would you like to come and tell stories to the kids, a couple times a week? Ive already talked to Chuck and he thinks its a good idea."
Unfolding her arms, the bard stared at her. "Come and tell stories?"
"Yea." Nodding, Xena smiled. "You know youre a natural and I know you miss doing the bard thing. Gabrielle, I watched you with Jo, he was mesmerized and laughing and if you can do that for a child in as bad a condition as he is, youll do wonders for the others."
Sighing, Gabrielle turned and walked in a circle. "Xena, all my stories are dated, the kids now a days want Power Rangers and Game Boys." Turning back, the bard shook her head. "I dont believe theyd enjoy it as much as you think."
"Fair enough." Nodding, the warrior hopped off the table. "But would you give it a try? We can set up a couple of story telling sessions and if they boo you, well call it a wash." Shrugging, she moved to stand in front of Gabrielle and put her hands on the bards shoulders. "Wadda ya say? Try it, for me?" Giving her a pouty face.
"If they throw tomatoes, can I get some of your massages from T?" Smirking, the bard rolled her eyes.
"Ill personally make sure that they only have Nerf balls, but its a deal." Leaning down, Xena gave her a quick kiss. "I love you and you wont regret this."
"I love you, too and well wait and see." Rolling her eyes, Gabrielle rested her forehead under Xenas chin and shook her head. "If they ask why no body carried ray guns, Im going to shoot myself."
"Lasers, Gabrielle. The dont call them ray guns anymore." Wrapping her arms around the bard, Xena heard a low groan and smiled. "Trust me, youll be a hit."
Sighing, the bard lifted her head. "That, or Ill be hit."
"Ill protect you." Smiling down at her, Xena kissed her forehead.
"You better." Smiling, Gabrielle wrapped her arms around the warrior and squeezed. "What good is having a champion if you cant put them to good use, once in awhile."
"Does this mean youre gonna start running around in your Amazon Queen outfit?" Flicking her eyebrows, the warrior put on a sultry smile.
"Take me home and maybe youll find out, champ." Giving Xena a smirk, she pulled her out of the conference room, walking backwards toward the elevators.
"Ooooo. I knew this was a good idea." Following happily along, the warrior started having rather steamy flashbacks. "I shouldve thought of this sooner."
A week later, Gabrielle arrived at the hospital for her first story telling session, with warrior in tow and actually made it up to the pediatrics ward without sweating. Walking into the designated room, she found it filled with children of varying ages and conditions, with some bald heads, from cancer treatment and quite a few that she recognized as being survivors of the accident. Giving them a once over, she spotted Jo sitting up in a bed, that had been brought in for him and gave him a wink. Once she had their attention, she introduced herself and launched into Cradle of Hope.
Xena moved along the wall, behind the bard and made her way into the corner, to watch Gabrielle in her element and to get a good view of the childrens faces. Smiling at Jo, she waved and got a little wave back, then she scanned the faces of the other kids and saw them getting drawn into the story by a master bard. Chuckling, she leaned up against the wall and gave herself a mental pat on the back. "Im so good, I scare myself." Whispering to herself with a smug smile. As she continued to watch, she listened as well and noticed that Gabrielle was giving them a less than accurate, but much less violent version of the story, although the bard did seem to get into the fight scenes a tad and made some fairly impressive moves, with sound effects. Xena found the bards battle cry most amusing and got an admonishing glance when she laughed, but all in all, it was apparent that the bard had won them over and that her success was complete, when she got a round of applause when she gave them a bow. Smiling, the warrior worked her way back to Gabrielle and smiled. "Told you so."
"Okay, Ill give you this one." Gabrielle relented, with a chuckle.
"Hey! That was almost as good as the show." One boy told another. "I liked that episode."
"Yea." The other boy nodded. "That baby flying was cool."
"Excuse me?" Gabrielle asked, turning to stare at them. "What show?"
"Xena." The first boy chirped. "I watch it every Saturday."
"What?" Xena asked in a low stunned voice.
"Xena: Warrior Princess." Standing the second boy did a imaginary sword parry. "In a time of ancient gods, warlords and kings, a land in turmoil cried out for a hero." Then he started humming a tune. "She, was Xena. A mighty princess forged in the heat of battle. The power. The passion. The danger. Her courage will change the world." Then he started humming again.
Xena and Gabrielle exchanged a stunned look.
"You kinda look like her." Some other child piped in and pointed at the warrior.
"Who?" Xena asked and felt her pulse pick up.
"Lucy Lawless, she plays Xena on the show." Smiling, the boy tilted his head. "Hey, do you have one of those leather get ups, with the swirly things over the boobs?" Twirling his fingers over his chest.
"I . . . " The warrior started, then clapped her jaw shut and gave him a scowl, covering her breasts in reflex. "How old are you?"
Laughing, the boy fell over.
"Hey, can you do that yelling thingy?" A girl asked jumping to her feet. "Ayaaayaaayaaa."
Arching a single brow, Xena smiled. "Thats interesting."
"How many skills do you have?" An older boy asked and got a steely blue glare for his efforts.
"Enough." Xena informed him menacingly and narrowed her eyes.
"You the side kick?" Tugging on the bards jeans, another boy looked up at her. "I like the side kick, shes got a belly button."
"Theres one in every crowd." Chuckling, the warrior smiled.
Gabrielle looked down at him and put her hand over her mouth and stared a moment, then she lifted her hand and smiled. "Gabrielle?" She asked tentatively and saw him nod. "Oh my god." Whispering the last, she looked to the warrior. "Were on television."
"Well, at least were a hit." Xena mumbled and shook her head.
Then Gabrielle spotted a little girl, sucking her thumb, who produced a doll and smiled. Staring at it, the bard grabbed Xenas arm and pointed.
Turning, the warrior saw the doll and her eyes went wide, then her eyes rolled back in her head and she whispered. "By the gods."
"Shes not Xena." The boob boy said with a shake of the head.
"Yea. Warriors dont pass out." Another one added and smiled.
"Even warriors have bad days." Jo laughed from his bed and smiled his lopsided smile.
Feeling a hand tug on her shoulder, then slip off, Gabrielle ignored the following thud and continued to stare at the doll, when the little girl started pressing a button on the back, that made the sword arm move up and down. "Xena. Youre an action figure." Stepping forward, the bard took the doll and laughed, as she pushed the button. "Ive definitely got to get me one of these." Returning the doll, she bent over. "Is there a Gabrielle doll?"
Nodding, the little girl produced the item and handed it up to the bard.
Standing straight, Gabrielle turned it around, looking at the green top and brown plastic skirt and touched the end of the staff with her finger. Then she looked at the shoulders. "What happened to her head?"
In a tiny voice, the girl smiled and pulled her thumb out of her mouth. "My dog chewed it off."
Rolling her eyes, the bard shook her head and smirked. "Typical."
Epilogue: Once Xena regained consciousness and order was restored, Gabrielle drove them to the nearest toy store and purchased four Xena dolls and Xena bought four Gabrielle dolls and an Argo. Then they headed to the mall and bought a TV, VCR, blank tapes, a TV Guide and promptly ordered cable when they got home. After setting up the new media equipment in their bedroom, they also informed T and Ares of the latest, which got them two extra bodies in their bed, come Saturday night and they tuned into the show.
Gabrielle - "I dont get seasick."
Xena - "And who do they think I am, one of the Flying Walendas? Did you see that jump?"
T - "I could do that."
Xena - "Shut up, no you couldnt and give me the remote."
Ares - "Where was I? Why wasnt I in that episode?"
Bud slept through the whole thing, but got to see it on tape.
Come Monday morning, everything returned to relative normality and Xena went back to work, as did Gabrielle and they both put a Xena and Gabrielle doll on their desks. The third set went on the nightstand, by their bed and the fourth went in the safe, for preservation of future lifetimes. Xena contended with the most recent addition to the rumor mill, her fainting incident and fended off assertions to her resemblance to a certain television personality and somewhere in there, she actually managed to do her job, which was taking care of people and fighting for their survival.
Gabrielle didnt have a rumor mill, but she did consent to continue the story telling sessions and found that she truly did miss the bard aspect of her life and took great joy in retelling their stories and many others that she passed on to the new generation of Xena fans.
Jo was eventually released from the hospital, several months later, but refused to leave until he got a kiss from Xena, then he even got one from Gabrielle, who turned her green eyed monster off and slipped him their address, so he could send love letters to the warrior, which he did on a regular basis and Xena answered.
After promising to never mention the fainting incident, Jim got a raise, as did Mary and Manny, who, along with Xena, were awarded a special plaque, designed by the parents of the children theyd saved, which was hung in the hospital lobby with a large picture of the four surgeons, the entire surgical staff and thirty seven smiling faces.
The man, whod driven drunk and caused the tragedy, was tried and convicted of drunk driving and twelve counts of manslaughter, attributing to the twelve children that died before they reached the hospital. He was sentenced to 47 years behind bars, without possibility of parole and continued to see the faces of children in his nightmares, till the day he died.
Thanks for reading.
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