Disclaimer: The characters of Xena and Gabrielle and others mentioned, belong to
MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No infringement on their rights is 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 #17.
Shock Factor: 2. For the sake of Junior.
Note: Families. Gotta love em.
Ann, as always, thanks for finding my oopsies.
Dont drink and drive. Always wear your seat belt, or helmet.
Send comments to email@example.com
Xena stared down at the book, reading the information carefully. Virtually oblivious to her surroundings, she was brought back to reality when something tugged at her hip and she walked sideways a few steps, then stopped when the tugging did. "Whats this about maximum capacity of prospective compatibility?" Glancing up from the pages, she looked around for the bard. "Gabrielle?"
Squatting in front of a shelf full of cans, she turned to tug on the warriors jeans, then she went back to studying the contents of the shelf that were giving her trouble.
Holding the book at arms length, the warrior looked down to see a blonde head below it. "Oh, there you are." Stepping back, she moved to squat down beside the bard.
"French cut, or regular?" Pointing to the rows of cans.
Considering the question carefully, Xena finally shrugged. "Get half and half. I like the French cut, but shes not going to know the difference and will probably try to spit them out anyway." Shrugging again, she stood when the bard did and waited for the cans to be dropped into the buggy before she held out the book. "Now, whats this about?" Pointing to paragraph that was giving her trouble.
Taking the book, Gabrielle perched it on the buggy and read the paragraph. "Thats one of the formulas used in calculating growth potential. Its the factor that indicates the maximum amount of people that can fill an area and still allow for a maintained habitat." Handing the book back, she smiled and pushed the buggy down to where the corn was.
Shaking her head, the warrior read the paragraph again. "Im never gonna get this in time."
"Yes, you will." Rolling her eyes, the bard took hold of a belt loop and towed the warrior behind her. "Youre all ready half way through."
Sighing, Xena looked up. "The conference is in a month, Gabrielle and Ive got ten more books to read."
"Nine, once you finish that one." Tapping her chin, Gabrielle considered the shopping list in her hands. "Asparagus? Oh, youll never get her to eat that. She says they look like pemfthes."
Clamping her hand over the bards mouth, the warrior smiled. "I know what she thinks, thank you. You dont have to remind me." Rolling her eyes, she lowered her hand. "Theyve got lots of vitamins and well just chop them up so she wont know the difference." Voicing her solution to the problem of trying to get T to eat asparagus.
"Well, whatever we put them in, youre giving them to her." Smiling, she pointed a warning pencil at the warrior then picked up a couple cans of the item. "My cooking skills are no match for that nose and shes gonna know theyre there." Dropping them in the buggy, she marked the asparagus off the list them started searching for the beets.
"Just use lots of garlic, shell eat anything with garlic in it." Smiling, Xena went back to the book and continued to read, as the bard continued to shop and followed Gabrielle around in response to her belt loop being tugged on. Scanning the pages, she considered the volume of information she had to consume. The book she held was number ten out of twenty that T had written for them to study. The whole idea of putting the information in books was thought up by the warrior, to keep T from using her powers to implant the information directly into their brains and shed sent Ares off to the Hub room to retrieve some computer equipment so the god could do the work in bed. Little did Xena know that the amount of information would make the Library of Congress look like a TV Guide, or that claws were no obstacle when it came to Ts ability to type so fast that the laser printer ran for three days, trying to catch up. She discovered this factoid, when the books were delivered by a smirking, smug-faced God of War and the warrior had to be physically restrained from slamming the door in his face.
Now she and the bard were stuck with spending every available waking moment reading, which wasnt often and thus led to her current state of being towed around the grocery store.
"Xena." Tipping the top of the book down, Gabrielle peeked over it. "Were at the check out."
"Okay." Nodding, the warrior continued to read.
"Xena, we have to pay." She said quietly and waited for the information to sink in. "Youve got the money."
Without thinking, Xena shoved her hand in a front pocket and pulled out a wad of bills and handed them over. "Here." Turning the page, she read on.
Shaking her head, with a smile, Gabrielle took the money. "How much was that?" Speaking to the clerk, whos apparent patience was wearing thin, after scanning two buggies worth of groceries.
Smiling, the clerk pointed to the little display in front of the blonde.
"Oh. Thanks." Playing nice, the bards eyes bugged out of her head when she saw the numbers. "Good gods!" Staring at the figure, she looked down at the wad of money. "Good thing Ts paying for this, or else this baby would be sending us to the poor house." Mumbling, she heard a sigh come from the clerk and rolled her eyes. "Four hundred, sixty-eight dollars and seventy three cents coming right up."
"What?" Looking up from the book, Xena leaned over to look at the display. "Holy skimolies! What did you buy? A herd of cattle?" Snapping the book closed, she scooted past the bard to put the black three ringed binder in the first of two stuffed buggies. Frowning, she turned to glare at the clerk, as if implying the prices were her fault.
Taking the money, the clerk held her tongue and processed the transaction, in an attempt to get rid of the couple.
Staring down at her hand, Gabrielle looked at her change, which was a literal translation of one quarter and two pennies. Sighing, she put the coins in her pocket then glanced up to give the clerk a smile, which wasnt reciprocated. "Nice doing business with you."
"Come on, will ya." Waving off the bag boy, Xena took the first buggy and headed for the sliding glass doors. "You dont want to keep the pregster from her ice cream and guava paste."
Chuckling, the bard took the second buggy and followed the warrior out into the parking lot. "Good thing Ive got a truck. Can you imagine trying to get this home on your bike?"
Stopping cold, she turned to give the bard a glare. "Are you implying that I should trade the bombshell for a mini-van?"
"No." Patting Xenas cheek as she passed by, Gabrielle continued on. "I was simply making an observation."
"Good thing." Grumbling, Xena started to follow, then sighed and glanced down at a wobbling wheel. "What? They can send a man to the moon, but they cant figure out how to make buggies that dont scramble your eggs before you can get them to the car?" Kicking the offensive wheel, she growled, then moved forward. "You got this one on purpose, didnt you?" Glaring at the back of Gabrielles head.
Looking completely innocent, which she wasnt, the bard shook her head. "Luck of the draw."
"A likely story." Huffing, the warrior kicked the wheel several times and finally gave the buggy a shove, to send it wobbling toward the truck. "Im picking the buggy next time."
Picking up the book, Gabrielle tossed it in the cab, then began loading the bags of groceries in the bed. "So, whats on the agenda for tomorrow? Am I on swill duty, or am I at the Hub?"
Pausing, Xena held two bags suspended above the bed and strained her overworked brain. "What day is tomorrow?" Lowering the bags as she tried to remember.
Caught off guard, the bard had to think for a second. "Saturday, I think. Hold on, let me check my watch." Putting down the bags shed picked up, she rotated her wrist and checked the LCD display. "Yep, its Friday, so tomorrow is Saturday." Going for the bags again.
Sighing, she continued to shuttle the groceries into the truck. "Youre on Hub duty and I cant believe that Im spending a perfectly good Friday, playing bag boy." Grabbing some more bags she tossed them with the others, then paused. "Gabrielle, are we getting old?"
"Im assuming that youre talking about this lifetime only, right? Not the two thousand years prior to this lifetime?" Chuckling, she tossed in a couple of bags, then stopped to rest her arms on the dark green paint.
"Yessss, this lifetime." Doing the same, Xena sighed and stared at the amused greens starting back at her. "Are we slowing down?" Stepping back, she held her arms out and spun around. "I mean, look at us. Were supposed to be in the prime of our lives and were spending Friday at the grocery store. Whats happened?" Letting her arms fall, she returned to lean on the truck and pout.
Gabrielle stared at her. "Xena, were at the grocery store because weve got a pregnant woman in our back yard that needs us and since when did we ever do anything on Fridays?" Doing the bag boy thing, again, she kept an eye on the warrior.
"Well, never I guess, but you do get my point, dont you?" Picking up the pace, the warrior started loading again. "Are we getting into some kind of rut?"
"Rut?" Rolling her eyes, she shook her head at the buggy. "Xena, were two adults, who do what adults are supposed to do. We have jobs, we pay our bills and when we get the chance, we act like idiots. What kind of rut are you talking about?" Another set of bags went in and she turned to get some more.
"I dont know. Maybe Im crazy." She said softly and stayed silent for a while. "I just feel like were missing something, ya know? Like somethings out there and were stuck here and cant go get it, because were in this rut."
Putting the last of her load in, Gabrielle considered the comments carefully. "Hmmm." Chewing the inside of her lip, she pushed the buggy around to where the warrior stood and took her empty buggy, to shove them together. "Well, we dont go out much, because we like to stay home and our social life isnt going to make the news anytime soon, but I dont think that really qualifies as a rut, Xena." Looking up into serious blue eyes. "I think that were living our lives like we want to and if there is something out there, Im not sure that were really missing anything by not going to find it. If were stuck, its because we like it that way."
"Hmmm." Xenas face changed into several thoughtful expressions, before she finally nodded. "Yea, I guess youre right. Its not like Im unhappy."
Smiling, the bard reached up to pull her down for a kiss, then smiled again when she looked into those baby blues. "Well, Im certainly glad to here that."
"Of, course." She said mischievously and pulled the bard close. "There are advantages to not having a social life. It means I get to spend a lot more time getting naked with you." Flicking her eyebrows.
Placing both hands on Xenas chest, Gabrielle moved away from the warrior. "If were in a rut, its because youve got a one track mind." Chuckling, she stopped the pout before it started. "Now, get in the truck while I take these back, you lecherous thing you." Taking a grip on the buggies, she escaped groping hands.
"Damn. So close." Laughing, the warrior checked the bags for anything that looked like it might fly away on the trip home, then climbed into the cab and waited for the bard to come back. Glancing down at the black binder, she sighed. "Youre cutting into my sex life, you know that, dont you?" Slapping the book, she picked it up and put it in her lap. "The only consolation is knowing that Ares is suffering the same fate." Chuckling, she opened the book to the page she left off on. "Babies, babies, babies. They do put a wrinkle in the old libido." Smiling, she began to read.
Gabrielle returned the buggies and did the same flight check on the groceries, before she climbed into the cab and closed the door. "Seat belt." Giving the warrior a wake up shove, before she cranked up the engine.
"Got it." Keeping her eyes on the pages, Xena found the seat belt without looking and pulled it across her lap to click it in. Turning the page, she continued to read on the trip home and only looked up when she heard a chirping noise. "Whats that?" Searching the cab.
"The phone." Keeping her eyes on the road, she pointed to the glove box.
"Oh." Popping open the small door, the warrior pulled out both phones. Holding one in each hand, she brought them to her ears and waited for one to ring. When it did, she put Gabrielles pink one on the seat and pushed the on button on hers. "Hello."
"Hello, pumpkin." Dad said with a chuckle.
"Daddy!" Smiling, Xena turned to Gabrielle. "Its Dad."
"So I gathered." Laughing, she shook her head. "Tell him hello, for me."
"Faith says hello." Closing the book, the warrior put it on the seat beside her.
"Well give her a hello, right back." Still chuckling, his face frowned for a moment.
"He says hello." Xena informed Gabrielle, who chuckled. "How was the trip?" Returning her attention to the phone.
"Grace, is it raining where you are?" Hearing a loud noise in the background.
"No." Frowning, she made a face, then smacked her forehead. "Oh, no. Were in the truck. Were just heading home from the grocery store."
"Good gravy, Grace. Why dont you put a muffler on that thing?" Shaking his head, Dad rolled his eyes. "You are a mechanic for goodness sake."
"It does have a muffler. Its just old and makes a lot of noise." Rolling her eyes, Xena shook her head. "Like you." Getting a slap on the shoulder, she leaned against the door.
"You watch your mouth, young lady." Using his best gruff Dad voice.
"Sooooo. How was the vacation?" Quickly changing the subject, before she got into any trouble.
Sighing, Joseph leaned back in his chair. "Freezing."
"Daddy, you were on an Alaskan cruise. What did you expect?" Covering her eyes, she hung her head.
"I didnt even get to wear my new shorts." Dad complained and got a smile from his wife. "I think it made your mother happy." Mom nodded, so he stuck out his tongue at her.
"I bet." Xena agreed and lowered her hand. "I saw those shorts. Where did you get those? Tacky-r-us?" Chuckling at the growl in her ear. "Im just kidding, Dad. Faith doesnt exactly appreciate my fashion sense either."
"After seeing that raggedy shirt, theres little wonder why." Chuckling back.
"Hey! I like that shirt." Pouting, she gave her hysterical wife a shove.
"Turn abouts fair play, pumpkin." Dad smiled. "And I hope youre ready for the show. Ive got the screen up and video projector ready to go."
Groaning, Xena put her hand over the mouth piece and turned to the bard. "He wants to show us the movies from their vacation. Hes already got everything set up."
Sighing, Gabrielle shook her head. "We have to go." Thinking, she made a left, then drummed her fingers on the steering wheel. "Ask him if we can do it in the morning. Thatll give us enough time to take care of everything tonight."
Nodding, the warrior sighed and moved her hand. "Dad, can we do it tomorrow? Weve got the groceries to put away and stuff."
"I knew youd try to escape, little missy." Sounding wicked. "Thats why the screen and projector are set up in your living room."
Xena dropped the phone and had to quickly fish around the floorboard to retrieve it, then covered the mouth piece. "Theyre at our house." Looking petrified, she saw the look reflected in Gabrielles face when her head snapped around.
"Theyre what!" Turning to the warrior, Gabrielle stared like a deer caught in headlights.
"Our house! Theyre at our house!" She said again and with more emphasis on the word our. "What are we gonna do?"
"Holy shit!" Thinking fast, she pulled off to the side of the road. "Keep him talking." Grabbing her phone off the seat, she quickly dialed and put the phone to her ear.
"And say what?" Desperation in her voice, Xena brought the phone back to her ear. "Hold on Daddy, were coming up to a bad spot and we might loose connection for a minute."
"Im holding, Grace." Smiling, Dad got off the couch to walk into the kitchen, where Maggie was making something that smelled good.
Covering the phone again, the warrior felt her heart pounding out of her chest. "Theyre gonna see the cabin."
"Shhhhh." Waving her off, Gabrielle waited for the other line to pick up.
"Hello." T said in a calm voice.
"T, this is Gabrielle. Do you know that Xenas parents are at our house?" Spitting the words out.
"Yea, I felt them coming. Why?" Punching some keys on the laptop in her lap, she concentrated on the screen.
"We never told them about you, or the fact that you live behind us." Rolling her eyes at her own idiocy, she glanced to the right to see the same expression.
"Well, that wasnt too bright." Watching the little Pac-Man eat some dots, T smiled.
Hanging her head, Gabrielle sighed. "I realize that, T. Can you help, please; so we dont get hung out to dry when we get home?"
"Already taken care of." Still quite calm, she maneuvered the little yellow mouth around the maze.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you." Sighing, the bard hung up. "T took care of it."
"Youre welcome." T said to dead air and tossed the phone on the bed. "Now, I just hope they like my remedy."
Smiling, Xena brought the phone to her ear. "You there Daddy?"
"Right here, pumpkin." Looking into a pot of boiling something, he leaned down to kiss his wifes cheek. "And your mother is cooking away, so I hope youre hungry."
Feeling as if her appetite may never come back, the warrior smiled. "Well be home in a little bit."
"Gotcha. Well see you when you get here and dont try to fiddle with my projector, like you did last time." He said almost sternly. "I know it was you that made the bulb go out."
"I did no such thing." Getting back into the groove, Xena sounded offended. "Ask one of your sons if they tried to find out how it works and then youll find the culprit." Pointing at the phone. "I never touched you precious projector."
Taking one last long breath, Gabrielle let it out slowly and closed up the phone. Pulling back onto the road, she shook her head. "Houston, we have situation normal again." Whispering,she checked her mirror. "Thank the gods."
When they got to the house, Gabrielle parked the truck in front, behind Dads car and were met by said parent, as they got out.
Coming down the steps, Dad was jumped on and given a huge hug by his only daughter. Returning it, he released her just in time to be pounced on again by his favorite daughter-in-law and picked her up off the ground in a big bear hug. "Well, this is the kind of welcome I wish I got every time I came over." Chuckling, he put the bard down and got an insulted look from the warrior. "Oh, dont pout Grace, I was only kidding." Bringing her close again, he gave her a kiss on the forehead.
"Mean, Daddy. Very mean." Poking him in the chest, she finally smiled.
"Weve missed you Dad." Standing on her tip toes, the bard gave him a quick peck on the cheek.
"So have the fish." Xena put in and scooted down out of the way when a swat came toward her behind. Laughing, she nodded toward the truck. "Hey, wanna give us a hand here?"
Rolling his eyes, Dad shook his head. "Im not back five minutes and already Ive become slave labor." Pointing his comment to the bard, he smiled.
"Come on." Smiling up at him, Gabrielle took his hand. "The faster we get this done, the faster we can get to the video."
"Ooooo." Flicking his eyebrows. "Youre setting me up for something, I just know it."
"Maybe." Batting her eyelashes, the bard feigned innocence and moved to start the bag brigade going and ended up staring at the groceries in wonder. "Grace."
"Im on it." Smiling, Xena turned to pick up some bags and stared as well. "What the?" Arching an eyebrow, the warrior scanned the bed of the truck and its now considerably smaller load. "What happened?" Glancing at the bard, she exchanged a quick befuddled expression before the lights went on and they realized T had done some sleight of hand. "Ohhhh. Never mind."
Dad put his hands on his hips and considered the women in front of him. "Excuse me, but I didnt get my secret decoder ring in my breakfast this morning, so could you tell me whats so strange about the groceries?"
"Hehehe." Chuckling nervously, Gabrielle smiled. "We were just having a mutual brain fart." Grabbing some bags, she quickly picked them up and brushed past the confused man, to jog onto the porch.
"Happens." Xena agreed and followed suit, then followed the bard inside, where she was hit by an aroma that made her mouth water. "Oh my god."
Having the same sentiment, the bard followed her nose to the kitchen and found her mother-in-law standing over a very large pot, stirring away. "Mom, what is that?" Setting her bags on the counter, she moved to get a closer look at the contents of the pot.
"No, no." Waving the pair away, Mom wiped her hands on her apron. "First things, first. Where is my hug?"
Rolling her eyes, Gabrielle smiled. "Sorry, my nose overrode my manners." Taking the older woman in a warm embrace, she stepped aside for the warrior to do the same.
"Missed you, Mom." Xena said and gave her mother a huge hug.
"Well, thats more like it." Smiling, she stepped back and put her hands on her hips. "Now, what you are smelling is a recipe that I got from a woman on the cruise." Lifting the lid, she sent a wave of steam upward and saw two drooling maws open up. "Its seafood gumbo."
"Doesnt gumbo have strange and unusual things in it?" The number one daughter asked with a little frown.
"Oh, dont be a baby." Smacking the warrior, Gabrielle smiled. "If it tastes half as good as it smells, youll be licking the bottom of the pot and you know it."
"Hey." Dad said, as he came around the corner. "Am I the only one who remembers that there is food outside, as well?" Holding up several bags as a reminder.
"Ill help Dad." Xena volunteered. "You put the stuff away." Setting up the plan.
"Gotcha, captain." Saluting, the bard clicked her heels together and smiled.
Giving a very wet raspberry, the warrior turned on her heels and departed for another load.
Chuckling, Mom shook her head. "Put those down, Joseph and help Grace."
Dad rolled his eyes and complied. "Slave labor. Im just slave labor." Muttering his way to the front door.
Laughing out loud, Gabrielle began opening cabinets. "So, how was Greg?" Referring to the pre-cruise trip theyd made, to see their youngest child.
"My son is a moron." Mom stated flatly and went back to stir the gumbo.
Hanging her head, the bard shook it slowly. "What now?" Picking up several cans, she stood on her tip toes to put them away.
"He wants to build sailboats for a living." Tapping the wooden spoon on the pot, she put the lid back on and set the utensil down, to help Faith with the groceries.
Frowning, Gabrielle paused in her progression and arched an eyebrow. "He lives in Arizona, in the middle of a desert." Holding a can up in thought, she tried to put the boat idea in the desert. "Whos he going to sell them to?"
"I asked him that very question." Nodding, Mom rolled her eyes. "Apparently, hes going to sell them over the internet."
Blonde eyebrows went north, as the can went on the counter. "Hes going to sell sailboats over the internet?" Disbelieving her ears.
"Whos selling sailboats?" Xena asked and deposited her wares.
"Your littlest brother." Dad said and put his load down beside his daughters.
"Greg?" Closing her eyes, the warrior hung her head to shake it slowly. "He does still live in the desert, doesnt he?" Opening her eyes, she looked to her mother.
"Last time I checked." Nodding, Mom smiled.
"Heaven help us." Slapping her forehead, Xena sighed at the latest idea her brother had hatched.
Chuckling, Dad smiled. "Funny. Thats the same reaction I had."
And so, needless to say, the rest of the conversation revolved around Gregs inability to be satisfied with any profession, which lasted almost all the way through dinner. They did have to cover all the failed jobs in succession and the topic only changed, because Dad excused himself to get the video set up. Then the chatting switched to the cruise, which apparently was enjoyed immensely and Xena and Gabrielle even found themselves looking forward to the home movies. By the time everything had been cleared from the table and the dishwasher had been loaded, Dad was ready for his presentation.
"Lights!" He yelled and began fiddling with the remote.
Rolling her eyes, Xena reached out and turned off the lamp beside the couch, then wrapped her arm around Gabrielles shoulder as she got comfortable again. "Action."
Suddenly, the three female heads tilted sideways as they tried to follow the image of a large ship, that was perpendicular to the bottom of the screen.
"Honey, whats wrong with this picture?" Mom asked and frowned at the vertical horizon.
"Huh?" Glancing up, Dads head tilted as well, then it snapped back. "Drat. Lights."
Chuckling, the warrior leaned over and turned on the light. "Mom, you didnt tell me you went on a cruise to Alaska via the moon."
"Hush, you little heathen." Growling, the wanna be movie producer put down the remote and began fiddling with the projector.
Mom covered her eyes and tried not to laugh.
Gabrielle covered her mouth and ended up snorting her laughter through her nose.
"All three of you can just find someplace else to go, until I get this worked out." Dad grumbled and heard the laughter fade as one of the french doors closed.
Standing out on the deck, Mom looked up at the sky and smiled at the brilliant orange of the impending sunset.
Gabrielle and Xena, on the other hand were scanning the trees, looking for signs of the cabin. Seeing absolutely no trace of it, the warrior leaned down to whisper in the bards ear. "What did T say she did?"
Shrugging, Gabrielle shook her head and whispered back. "She just said she took care of it." Frowning, she searched the area with her eyes, then turned them upward to give the warrior a worried stare.
"Stay here." Keeping her voice low, Xena nodded toward the back yard. "Im gonna go take a look around."
Nodding, the bard moved to stand beside Mom. "How long do you think it will take Dad to get the projector fixed?"
"We may be out here until midnight." Chuckling, Mom noted her daughters departure. "Wheres Grace going?"
"Shes going to check on the horses." Acting casual, Gabrielle smiled.
"Ahhh." Nodding, Maggie walked over to one of the deck chairs and sat down. "You might as well get comfortable, Faith." Patting the chair beside her.
Chuckling, she nodded and took the seat. "So much for another round of what I did on my summer vacation."
Xena walked casually out to the stables, then ducked behind the building and glanced around. "Oh, I dont like this." Frowning at the lack of any sign of the cabin, she walked on, keeping the stables between her and her mother. When she reached the place where the building should of been, she stopped. Checking the ground, an uneasy feeling came over her and she shook her head. "T." Glancing up, she called softly to her friend. "T." Putting her hands on her hips, Xena sighed. "Ares."
"Yo." Popping in, the God of War smiled.
Spinning around, the warrior stepped over to him and pulled him back out the line of sight. "Wheres the cabin and more importantly, where is T?"
"At the Palace." Yanking his arm out of her grasp, he stated something he thought was obvious.
"Pardon me?" Arching an eyebrow, Xena glared at him. "I thought I told her not to use her powers to pop around. Why didnt you just make the cabin invisible, or something?"
Sighing, Ares rolled his eyes. "Because we moved."
"I can see that." Throwing her hands in the air, she spun around to indicate the vacancy. "Why? When all youre going to have to do is move back."
Frowning, Ares put his hands on his hips. "No were not." Shaking his head at her.
"Yes, you are." Nodding back, Xena looked at him like he was insane.
"No, were not." He said again. "Xena, we planned on moving back to the Palace anyway. T wants the baby to be born there. I thought she told you that." Seeing her face change, Ares realized his assumption was wrong by the blank stare he was getting. "She didnt tell you?"
"No." Shaking her head, the warrior let her arms fall to her sides. "You moved."
"Yes." Nodding, he sighed. "T said it was the best solution and since we planned on it anyway, your parents showing up, just bumped up the time table."
Torn between loosing her temper and her heart breaking, Xena closed her eyes to take in the situation. Shaking her head, a thousand arguments went through her mind to rebel against the scenario and eventually one major thing came to the front. "Shes gone."
"Shes just at the Palace, Xena." Trying to console the warrior, Ares smiled. "Im supposed to pop you over anything you think youll need. Like medical stuff, or whatever."
"I dont believe this." Opening her eyes, she looked up through the trees and shook her head. "I just dont fucking believe this."
As his eyes opened wide, Ares saw the first signs of an impending explosion and tried to put a cap on it. "Xena, now wait." Holding up his hands in a placating manner, he shook his head. "Im sorry she didnt tell you, but your getting mad wont change her mind. You know how much she loved being here with you and the only thing that changed that was the baby."
Taking a deep breath, Xena let it out slowly. "Take me to the Palace."
"Not a problem." Still being very conciliatory, he smiled. "But what about your parents?"
"Gods." Sighing, she turned toward the house, then glanced over her shoulder. "Stay here. Ill be back in a few minutes."
"Gotcha." Smiling, Ares nodded his head.
Closing her eyes, Xena took a moment to steady her nerves, before she headed back to her family. "Im going to kick her little tigress butt." Muttering as she walked, it didnt take long to make the trip and as the deck came into view, she saw Gabrielles expectant expression. "Shes gonna be pissed."
The bard wasnt getting a good feeling and the closer Xena got the worse her intuitions were ringing like the bells of Notre Dame. Then they went into Big Ben, doing a disco beat, when the same warrior didnt return to the deck, but went around the side of the house.
"Wheres she going?" Mom asked, a little concerned.
"Probably just looking for something the horses need." Turning to give her a smile, Gabrielle got up and stretched. "I better go find out what it is, or else shell be searching all night."
Mom chuckled and waved her off. "You should tie a string around her ankle."
Chuckling, with an added nod, she casually stepped onto the grass and managed maintain the pace, and not run, until she disappeared around the corner.
Xena grabbed her arm and pulled her close to the wall. "Weve got to find a way to get rid of Mom and Dad." Keeping her voice low, she peeked around the corner, to make sure Gabrielle wasnt followed.
"Why do we have to send them home?" Putting her arm back in the socket. "Whats wrong?"
"Shes gone." Ducking back, when her mother went inside, the warrior tuned to the astonished blonde. "They moved." Rephrasing the statement, it didnt seem to help Gabrielles expression. "To the Palace."
"To the Palace?" Scowling, Gabrielle shook her head. "They were here when we left." Pointing toward the back, where the cabin used to be. "How could they have moved and why?"
"Ares said she planned on moving all along, because of the baby, but I want to find out for myself." Seeing another question on the full lips, Xena held up her hands as Ares had done. "I dont know why she didnt tell us and thats the other thing I want to talk to her about, but weve got to get rid of Mom and Dad before he can take us there."
"This is insane." Growling low, she began to pace. "We leave for one friggin hour and poof, they're gone." Throwing her hands in the air with disgust.
Realizing she wasnt going to get any help from the bard, she chewed a thumbnail as viable excuses began forming in her mind. Going through the top five, she looked down at her hip, when her pager went off. "Oh, not now." Sighing, she picked it up and checked the number, then frowned and held it out for Gabrielle to see. "Its T."
"Lemme see that." Taking the small gizmo, Gabrielle checked the number. "Thats T, all right." Her grip tightened around the black box, then she handed it back. "What are we supposed to do?"
Slowly, a smile crept on Xenas face and she snapped her fingers. "I think I just got called away on a medical emergency."
"What?" As her head cocked sideways, it straightened a second later. "Ohhh." Nodding, she smiled, then frowned. "What about me?"
"Youll drive me." Turning around, she peered through the trees. Spotting Ares in the coming darkness, she waved to get his attention, then signaled for him to come, when he looked her way.
Ares started to walk to the house, then stopped when he got another wave. "What?" Holding out his arms, he saw Xena stick her finger in her mouth, then snap it out. "What the hell does that mean?" Scratching his head, he saw a sign of agitation and then the finger thing again. Rolling his eyes, Ares shook his head in confusion, then tried using his powers and heard a popping noise when the warrior tried the finger thing for the third time. "Oh." Smiling, he nodded in recognition and popped over to them. "Weve got to work on some hand signals."
"Shut up." Xena growled. "Listen, T just paged me and Im going to use it as an excuse to leave. Gabrielle will drive me and I want you to meet us at the end of the drive way, got it?"
"You can pop us and the truck to the Palace." Continuing the explanation, the bard folded her arms across her chest. "Then we can have a heart to heart with miss T."
Nodding, Ares rubbed the back of his neck. "Ill take you over there, but only if you promise not to make her mad. If you do that, something might happen to the baby, ya know."
Gabrielle put her hand on Xenas shoulder and looked up at her. "You wont lose your temper, right?"
"I just want some answers." Sighing, Xena nodded. "Ill be nice, if you will."
"Deal." Smiling, she turned to Ares. "Wait by the mailbox. Well be there in a few minutes."
"Done." Smiling sadly, he nodded and popped out.
"Now, lets go lie to Mom and Dad." Shaking her head, the warrior took Gabrielles hand and led her back to the deck, then inside to where her parents were.
It took longer than they had wanted, but eventually Mom and Dad were convinced of the emergency and after agreeing to go home and wait for them to call, Xena and Gabrielle climbed into the truck and pulled away, leaving the concerned parents behind, to pack up their things and go home.
Speeding down the dirt drive, Gabrielle skidded to a halt beside the mailbox. "Ares?" Sticking her head out the window, she almost jumped out of her skin when he popped in beside her, in the cab.
"Ready?" Looking between the two women he was between, he saw worried, tired and frustrated on their faces. "Ill take that as a yes." Sighing, he waved his hand.
The highway disappeared for a moment and everything outside the cab went into a swirling blur, then the world righted itself, as the Palace appeared.
Xena and Gabrielle climbed out of the truck and were followed up the steps to the promenade by Ares. As they entered the open throne room, Gabrielle reached out to take hold of Xenas arm.
"Xena, look." Pointing up to the space behind the throne, her heart fell. "The paintings gone."
Glancing up, the warrior glared and turned to ask Ares the reason for its absence. "Ares?"
"T had me take it down." He said quietly and walked slowly toward the stairs.
"But . . ." Shaking her head in confusion, the bard was pulled away to follow the God of War, up the stairs to Ts chambers.
Opening the door, he held it for the women and then stepped inside, then stepped aside as Bud came charging through.
"Bud." Smiling, Gabrielle knelt down to hug is neck and gave it a hearty rubdown. Glancing up, she surveyed the place she once called home and smiled when she saw the portrait hanging over the fireplace. Tugging on Xenas hand, she pointed again. "I think we finally made it."
Smiling also, Ares nodded. "Shes commissioned a family portrait for the throne room, once the baby is born."
"Well, the three of you will make quite the hansome family." Shaking her head, Xena smiled, then gave Bud an equally hearty hello. "Hi, Bud."
"Six." T said from the couch and pulled herself up to a sitting position, to smile at her friends. "The six of us will make quite the hansome family, so you two better spiff up your old duds."
Gabrielle rolled her eyes and took the two steps down to the main floor. "T, what is going on? Why did you move?" Coming around the couch, she sat in the space left empty by Ts feet and folded her legs underneath her, to get comfortable.
"Yea. And why didnt you tell us?" Staring down at no place to sit, Xena picked up Ts feet and sat down, to lay them in her lap. "How are we supposed to take care of you, if youre here? Do you know . . ."
Staying out of the fight, Bud took his place beside the chair that Ares chose to sit in and laid down.
"Whoa." Holding up her hands, T shook her head. "Before you bury me under a mountain of questions, let me tell you the whole story, okay?"
Exchanging a look, the pair nodded. "Go ahead." They said in unison.
Taking a deep breath, the god smiled. "First, Im sorry I didnt tell you I planned to move. I fully intended to tell you of my plan, but with all the hoopla going on, with the conference coming up and everything, I just never got around to it. It wasnt intentional and I really do apologize for leaving without telling you. I made the decision to move after I got back to the cabin and Ares agreed that this child needed to be raised here."
"Why?" Gabrielle asked quietly.
"Because this child is Ungaran, Gabrielle and this is where all the history of my people is. Ever since the Ungara moved into this forest, every King has been born here, up in that room." Pointing over her shoulder, to indicate her bedroom. "And, other than me, every King has been raised in the Palace."
"So, this move is for traditions sake." Sounding a little disappointed, Xena lowered her eyes.
"No." Shaking her head, T smiled and nudged the warrior with her foot, until she looked up. "This move is to give this baby the childhood I never had."
"Wed never let anything happen to the baby." Shifting from disappointed to insulted, she slapped Ts foot.
"I know that, Xena and Im not implying that you would." Raising her voice, she caught a concerned look from Ares and held up her hand to stop his interrupting. "I know that you and Gabrielle would and will protect this baby as if it were your own, but Im not talking about protection. I ran for my life, yes, but protection isnt an issue anymore. Im talking about giving this baby a home, Xena. A real home. Thats what I never had as a child."
Gabrielle put her hand on the warriors shoulder, to quell another round of verbal battle. "Okay, T. I get that you want to give this baby a home, but couldnt you do that with us?" Speaking softly, she turned in her seat to face her friend.
Nodding, Xena folded her arms across her chest. "Yea."
"Yes, I could and it would be a wonderful one, filled with loving family all around, but this child will be King someday and he, or she will need to learn everything that that entails. Its just easier to raise the baby here, because the Archives are here and the Ancients are a short distance away and Ill be moving the Hub here, once I can use all my powers again." Taking a deep breath, T watched the faces of her friends. "I want my child to grow up here, like I should have. Thats all."
"But youre immortal, T." Calming, somewhat, the warrior unfolded her arms. "Youll always be King."
"Ill always carry the soul of Ungara, but I may not always be King. I could decide to retire, ya know." Smiling, the god lifted her eyebrows. "Like mortals do. Maybe buy one of those huge motor homes and hog the road." Giving the warrior a nudge with her foot.
Xena rolled her eyes and gave a clawed toe a tweak. "I hate those things."
T chuckled. "Be that as it may, you two would still have to come though. I dont have a drivers license."
Covering her eyes with her hand, Gabrielle hung her head. "I think were digressing here, guys." Releasing a long sigh, she looked up to move the interrogation along and basically get back to the point. "What about the fact that Xena is your doctor? How is she supposed to do her check-ups and whats going to happen when you go into labor?"
"Ive all ready got that covered." Holding up one finger, the god smiled.
"Im not calling Ares every time I want to come see you, T." Xena held up a finger of her own and waggled it at her friend. "That is not an option. Im not taking the popping taxi every time I need to get here."
"Popping taxi?" Ares asked incredulously. "Excuse me, but you didnt complain a couple of minutes ago." Glaring at the warrior.
"Thats because I had my seat belt on. Otherwise I wouldve preferred to walk." Smiling smugly, Xena got a smack on the shoulder and turned to frown at the bard. "Ow."
"Just hold it, you two and let T finish, please." Giving the brunettes her best irritated blonde look.
"Thank you, Gabrielle." Nodding, T smiled at her.
"Youre welcome." Smiling back, she folded her arms across her chest to maintain a air of authority. "Go ahead." Giving her consent.
Holding up the finger again, the god began once more. "Ive got it covered, because, although I may wish to raise my child in the Palace, I never intended to leave my best friends high and dry, so I planned to put a portal in."
"A portal? Like the back door of the cabin?" Arching an eyebrow, the bard nodded. "So we could just walk through and be here." Smiling, she turned to Xena. "I like it. What do you think?"
Considering carefully, Xena chewed the inside of her bottom lip. "Wed be able to pass through anytime we wanted?"
"Absolutely." Nodding, T smiled.
"Day or night?" Wanting more clarification, she asked with a curious tone in her voice.
"Yesssss." Still smiling, the god nodded again.
"Do we have to knock?" Not quite satisfied.
Slapping her forehead, T shook her head. "The same rules apply here, like they did at the cabin. It depends on how lucky youre feeling at the time." Lowering her hand, it dropped to her lap. "Ares still has a lot of boxers you havent seen yet."
"Were knocking." Gabrielle stated with a chuckle.
"Hey." Frowning, the God of War took offense to the laugh. "I dont look that bad in my undies."
"Be nice. Be nice. Be nice." Chanting softly, Xena smiled at him.
"Xena." Rolling her eyes, Gabrielle gave her a shove. "Just say yes, or no."
"Wait." Giving a shove back, the warrior frowned. "Wont you have to use your powers to make this portal happen? You know how I feel about that, T." Using her best doctor knows best look. "I dont think its good for the baby."
"I realize that, Xena, but the portal will take little to no effort on my part." Reassuring her friend, she smiled. "I can tie it in to the power I use to monitor your emotions, so that the portal will only appear when you want to pass through. That way I dont have to put forth additional effort to keep it open continuously."
"If all you do is monitor our emotions, how will you know when we want to pass through?" Gabrielle asked, completely enthralled with the prospect.
"When you think of me, I hear it, without using my powers and you can use that like a door bell." Shrugging, she smiled. "Just let me know you want to come over and Ill open the portal. And, once the baby arrives, I can leave it open permanently, if you want."
"Simple, yet effective." Ares chimed in.
"Hold on." Waving her hand, Xena threw another wrench in the gears. "Where do you plan on having this portal open up at? Are we going to open the door and walk in here?"
"Well, that may cut down on Ares response time in getting dressed. I was thinking about the library." Tapping her chin in thought. "Or maybe a closet." Glancing up at the ceiling to hide her smile.
"A closet?" Putting her hands on her hips, Gabrielle shook her head. "Oh, I dont think so."
Laughing, T held her stomach. "It was a joke, Gabrielle. I think that it would be better suited if it came out in your room." Pointing over her shoulder. "That way the whole knocking principle would still be applicable."
"Much better." Waving a warning finger at the King.
Chuckling, Xena nodded. "Okay. Weve got where it will come out at here, so the next question is, where will it be at our end?"
"Dont you even say it." Waving the finger again, Gabrielle shook her head with a smile.
"Where do you want it?" Looking pointedly at the bard.
"The back door." She said without missing a beat.
"And the knocking thing goes both ways." Picking up on the finger thing. "No more sneaking in to raid the freezer."
"Fair is fair." Sighing in resignation, T nodded. "So is everybody happy?"
"No, but I guess Ill have to live with it." Giving an overly dramatic sigh, Xena propped her feet up on the table in front of the couch.
"What are we going to do about the house, when were here? We wont know if our parents drop by again and our cell phones dont reach this far." Propping her elbow on the back of the couch, Gabrielle pushed Xenas head backwards and out of the way to pose her question to T.
"If somebody visits, Ill know before they get there, just like I did today and as for the phones?" Scratching her head, the god closed her eyes. "Xena has to be able to get calls, because of her job and theres the pager. Hmmmm."
"I can handle that." Ares offered. "Ill just add their numbers to the Hub listing and when they get a call, or Xena gets paged, itll transfer here automatically."
"Gee, I guess youre not as dumb as you look." Xena smirked and got a good look at his tongue as a response.
"Anything else?" Asking the question to the pair in general, she waited.
"Give me a minute." Gabrielle held up a hand and let her bard curiosity go to work.
After about ten seconds, T started humming the theme to Jeopardy and got a scowl from the blonde. "Sorry."
Several minutes went by in silence, then Gabrielle finally gave he high sign. "Well, other than Ill miss getting to decorate the nursery, I guess weve covered everything."
"Drat." Frowning, Xena sighed. "I was really looking forward to that."
"Well, the nursery is actually already done. I had Ares do that a couple of weeks ago, but there isnt the first piece of baby clothing or toy in this place." Admitting her lapse in responsibility, she tossed the couple a bone. "Ares has been wanting to go shopping, but I havent had the chance to go online with him. If you guys would be willing, you could do it the old fashioned way, if you dont mind?"
"Mind?" Throwing her hands in the air, Gabrielle hopped off the couch. "T, youre talking my language now. I am the shopping queen."
Giving T a grimace, the warrior felt her arm being jerked out of its socket. "I may have to kill you for this, ya know."
"Come on, Xena. Weve got an entire wardrobe to shop for." She said excitedly. "We get to look at little tiny clothes and little tiny shoes and little tiny pajamas." Tugging harder, she managed to drag her wife to her feet. "And those cute . . . " Continuing to list off miniature adorable things.
Being pulled toward the door, Xena continued to scowl at the chuckling god. "Let me rephrase that. I will kill you for this."
T just gave her a little cute wave and smiled. "Have fun."
"Ares! Chop, chop." Clapping her hands together, Gabrielle lead the shopping party to the door. "You dont want your baby to run around naked, do you?"
"Absolutely not!" Putting his hands on his hips, he shook his head in a fatherly way.
"Well, get your butt in gear then." Taking his hand as well, the bard rounded up her little shoppers and disappeared out the door in a whirl, leaving T alone.
"Ahhh. Peace and quiet at last." Closing her eyes, the god was almost asleep, when Xena popped her head back in the front door. Rolling her eyes, she opened them and lifted her head to see what was so important.
"Oh, yea. Just in case you think you slid one by me and will be attending the conference because youre here now?" Smiling smugly, she shook her head. "Youre not. Youre confined to this room the entire time and if I find one Ungaran elder anywhere near this door, theyre dead meat. Gabrielle and I still be heading up the conference and youre still banned. Do I make myself clear?"
Ts head dropped back and she closed her eyes. "Yessss."
"Good. Now get some rest. Ill be back tomorrow to check on you." Closing the door, she didnt wait for an argument and went down the stair, both sets and climbed into the cab of the truck. Giving Ares a shove, she buckled the seat belt and gripped the dash board dramatically. "Okay, lets rock and roll."
Waving, just as dramatically, Ares whacked Xena in the head, as they popped out.
Epilogue: Mom and Dad finally got to show the movies from their vacation a couple of days later and after Dad turned the projector on its side.
Xena changed the format of getting Ts attention, to humming the theme to Sesame Street and Gabrielle altered hers to Over the Rainbow. They also managed to survive the shopping expeditions with Ares, although Gabrielle did have to break up a couple of fights and they were kicked out of Toys-R-Us for holding tricycle races in the aisles and Xena got banned for unsportsmanlike conduct, when she sent a six year old competitor into the Nerf display.
Bud, who couldnt go shopping, because of federal regulations concerning pets, spent his time taking naps with T and growling whenever anybody came near the front door of the chambers. Apparently, the apprehension everybody had felt about how hed take the news of the baby were completely misplaced, except for Ts, who thought hed be happy, which he was, and Bud even donated his stuffed Tigger to the toy collection and was known to bury anything that resembled a possible choking hazard.
Thanks for reading.
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