~ Togetherness ~
By Kristien Damon
(a.k.a. Lawlsfan)

Well folks, another little something from the darkest, scariest recesses of the mind of the one they call Lawlsfan. :-) I hope you enjoy.

Xena:Warrior Princess, its characters, and all related materials are the property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures 1995-2000. The story idea for "Togetherness" is the property of Kristien Damon 2000. This story may not be copied and/or reproduced in any form without express written consent from the author. "Togetherness" was completed 7/8/00.

Feedback is always welcome at: lawlsfan@hptmail.com Don’t be shy, please tell me how you feel about it. Now on to the story…

It was a peaceful morning. Birds were twittering cheerily in the treetops and Apollo’s rays were just beginning to peak over the nearby ridge when Xena rolled over and yawned. No sooner had she finished smacking her lips together loudly than Gabrielle, who had been sleeping soundly next to her, shrieked and bolted upright.

"My gods warrior princess!" the bard exclaimed, wrinkling her nose and waving her hand back and forth in front of her face, "Were you chewing on centaur dung in your sleep?!"

"Gabrielle? Wha…?" A startled warrior princess sat staring slack-jawed at her companion.

The bard hastily rummaged through her knapsack and thrust a toothbrush into the warrior’s face then smirked and calmly lay back down, soon to be resting comfortably in the arms of Morpheus once again.

Xena looked at her sleeping companion for a moment and silently contemplated her next move. For a brief instant the old warrior princess was back; the dark, bloodthirsty, and now vengeful destroyer of nations sneered at the unwitting bard’s back. ‘Ah yes, vengeance will be mine.’ Grinning maniacally, she leaned over the bard’s face, closer...and closer...and closer…

Smack!

Xena gingerly rubbed the side of her cheek where Gabrielle’s hand had landed squarely. Grinning at her still sleeping companion, she shook her head to dispel several rather vicious thoughts involving ice cold water and sheep’s dung before arching her eyebrow and raising her hand to cup her own mouth. Breathing deeply of her exhalation, she grimaced and shuddered then headed for the nearby spring with toothbrush in hand.

Sometime later…

The warrior settled down onto a blanket of leaves at the edge of their encampment, closing her eyes to begin her morning ritual of meditating, envisioning and perfecting in her mind her many battle moves. Concentrating deeply she envisioned each parry perfectly timed, each kick perfectly placed, each flip perfectly…rumble, squeak. Perfectly…rumble, squeak. PERFECTLY…rumble, squeak.

WHAT in Tartarus is that noise!?’ Slowly opening one eye she peered at her surroundings expecting to see a bugling elk or a wounded gorgon. Instead she followed the sound directly to her sleeping partner. Frowning, she picked up a long blade of grass and stealthily began her approach, grinning maniacally as she slunk across the ground toward her prey. ‘Might as well work on perfecting my stalking techniques.’

Gabrielle never flinched from her slumber as the warrior moved closer and closer. The bard’s mouth was open and with each slow inhalation a rumbling snore wafted into the air around her, followed by a loud squeak on each exhalation.

Xena raised the blade of grass and placed the seed tip on the end of the bard’s nose and waved in back and forth gently. Gabrielle suddenly closed her mouth and reached up to swat at the intrusive object tickling her. "Mmft…nop it," she mumbled groggily.

‘Ha! Mission accomplished,’ Xena thought as she listened to the silence returning to the clearing around her. She smirked and turned around to head back to her spot on the leaves and had gone about half way when Gabrielle’s mouth dropped open and a long, low rumbling snore rolled out stopping her dead in her tracks. Glancing first at the blade of grass in her hand she then turned and sneered at her snoozing friend and before the next snore erupted she was once again dangling her instrument of torture over the bard’s nose.

Suddenly Gabrielle left out a loud snort and Xena watched with startled dismay as the seedy grass pod at the end of the stalk was sucked into the bard’s open mouth and disappeared. A moment later, Gabrielle’s eyes flew open as she gasped and coughed and sputtered. "Eck…eck…eck…"

Xena quickly tossed the remainder of the stem over her shoulder and grabbed the bard to set her upright then slapped her smartly between the shoulder blades. Gabrielle coughed once and promptly ejected the offending pod onto the ground in front of her. She cleared her throat, picked it up, and studied it for a moment then, in confusion, looked at the warrior princess who was grinning at her rather oddly.

"Wonder how that got in there, " Xena said and nonchalantly looked up at the sky and treetops above them. "Nesting bird maybe? Good thing it was just a piece of grass."

Gabrielle stared at her companion in bemused silence, until she glanced down and noticed the podless blade of grass stuck to the warrior’s left boot.

Thud!

"Ouch! Gabrielle!" Xena shouted as she felt the brunt of the bard’s closed fist land squarely upon her shoulder. Rubbing the soon to be bruised area she grinned wryly. "You’ve certainly perfected your punches haven’t you?"

And life goes on…

Apollo was rising higher in the sky and smiling down upon them as Gabrielle poured some hot water into her cup and added a tea leave then settled down on the log next to Xena to enjoy her breakfast. She sniffed the mouthwatering aroma coming off the slice of nutbread she’d heated over the fire then set it aside and dove into her turnip hash. Between bites she tried to make small talk with her companion.

"Mmm, mmm, mmm. Gods, I love the smell of fresh nutbread in the morning, don’t you Xena?"

"Yep."

Quickly finishing off her hash the bard turned to her slice of aromatic nutbread again. "There’s just something about the odor that makes my tastebuds start to tingle."

"Ah-huh."

"Must be the hint of spice."

Gabrielle saw the warrior fidgeting and shifting in her seat but thought nothing of it as she bit into the bread, chewing it ever so slowly, savoring it as it rolled around her tongue tickling her tastebuds into a frenzy.

"Mmmmm, this is heavenly…DAMN IT!"

Xena flinched as the bard suddenly leaped up and started dancing around the opposite side of the campsite; she grinned wryly and arched her eyebrow.

The bard continued pacing, nutbread in one hand and teacup in the other. "Xena! What was that?!"

The warrior looked bemused. "What?"

"That smell."

"Nutbread?"

"No! Something smells like rotten goose eggs over there." She waved her arm in Xena’s direction.

Xena lifted her arms and gave each pit a good sniff then shrugged, suddenly looking rather sheepish and childlike.

Gabrielle stopped pacing and stared at her partner in disbelief. "No…you didn’t."

"What?"

"You wouldn’t."

"What?"

"Xena, what did you have for dinner last night?"

The warrior began to squirm uneasily. "Goose eggs with a mead chaser."

"AHA! I knew it. Thought I recognized it. This happens every stinking time. Why do you insist on eating that combination?"

"Sorry," Xena said as she put on her most apologetic face, the one she knew would melt the little bard’s heart every time.

Gabrielle tried hard to maintain her stern look but it slowly crumbled into a wrinkled nose grin as she watched the big, brave warrior princess groveling for her forgiveness. She tentatively approached the log again, sniffing the air as she walked. Taking her seat beside the warrior, she broke off a piece of the nutbread then reached over and popped it into Xena’s mouth. The warrior chewed slowly and swallowed the peace offering.

"Forgiven?" she asked as she reached for another piece.

Gabrielle pulled the bread away with a smirk. "Oh no, promise it won’t happen again."

Xena grinned and quickly crossed her fingers behind her back as she answered. "Promise."

The bard smiled and thrust the nutbread back toward her friend. "All right, Xena. You’re forgiven," she said with a toothy grin.

The pair enjoyed the rest of the bread while making small talk and planning for their day then sat for a long time in comfortable silence afterward, each lost in their own thoughts. Suddenly Gabrielle glanced sidelong at the warrior and grinned broadly.

"You know, Xena, I really do love how well we get along."

"Ah-huh."

"We just seem to click, you know."

"Yeah."

"Like we were meant to be together."

"Yep."

"So comfortable."

"Hmm."

"Yeah, I really love our," Gabrielle paused searching for the right word, "togetherness."

"Uh-huh."

Another several moments of comfortable silence followed as both women were once again lost to their own thoughts. Suddenly they looked at one another, grinned, and in unison held out their index fingers.

"Pull my finger would ya?"

The sound of raucous laughter filled the clearing as the two friends enjoyed the simple joys of being with one another. It was barely mid-morning and already they knew it was going to be another good day -- indeed every day they shared was a good day. After all, that is what friendship’s all about right? Ah yes…togetherness.

 


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