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: Not this one, but there is a loving relationship implied, between two consenting adult females. If this bothers you, or you’re under age, or you live somewhere where this type of material is illegal, go away.

Timeline: Plan D #20.

Shock Factor: 10, for Murphy who may go thud after reading the epilogue.

Note: This story was inspired by Don Henley’s ‘Taking you home’. It’s for those people who’ve discovered that it’s easier to find your place in the universe when there’s somebody to show you the way home. All four major characters in the Plan D series are covered in the story and they’re contemplating life and love, as the time for T’s baby approaches.

Ann, thanks again.

Don’t drink and drive. Always wear your seat belt, or helmet.

Send comments to asdease1@gte.net


This Love

Written by FlyBigD

"Okay, I understand that you’re just doing what you have to do and what comes naturally, but this has really got to stop." Frowning, T poked her big belly and glared into the mirror. "If I get any bigger, they’re going to paint Goodyear on you and tie a rope around my ankle to keep me from floating away." Feeling a kick, she shook her head. "Don’t you get testy with me. I’ve taken on a lot worse than you and if you think you’re going to boss me around, you’ve got another think coming." Giving the occupant of her body another poke, she got another kick. Growling low, the god glared menacingly into the mirror.

Hearing a low rumbling noise, somebody really small decided to take a nap.

"Wise decision." Lowering her shirt, T nodded. Smoothing out the large amount of material, she turned to see Ares smirking from the doorway. "Don’t you even start with me." Waving a warning finger at him, she rolled her eyes and waddled over to the bed. "I’m not feeling threatened and this baby is not going to have me wrapped around it’s little finger." Climbing laboriously into bed, she missed the huge smile on his face.

"Never crossed my mind." He lied and walked over to the bed and gave her a hand up. "I’m sure that you’ll be in complete control and this baby will be a perfect little angel."

Pulling the covers up over the prospective angel, T smiled. "Are you giving up your claim to fathering this child? Because the chance of Junior here being remotely angelic is pretty slim, considering the gene pool it’s swimming in." Chuckling, she saw the frown on his face, which made her laugh even more. "Ares give it up. You and I both know that we’re going to spend every ounce of our powers trying to keep this baby out of trouble, so don’t try to look surprised."

Rolling his eyes, the God of War began pulling off his clothes. "If you expect the worst, you’ll get the worst." Grumbling, he tossed a shirt on a chair. "You’re being unfair"

"I’m being realistic." Folding her arms across her chest.

"You’re being pessimistic." A pair of jeans topped the shirt.

Rolling her eyes, she debated on whether to continue the argument. It wasn’t the first time they’d had this particular discussion and it was unlikely that it would be the last. Choosing to save the remainder for another day, she sighed and shook her head. "Whatever." Scooting down under the covers, T rolled onto her side, toward the edge of the bed and closed her eyes.

Sighing, Ares rolled his eyes and put his hands on his hips. End of discussion, he thought, with a mild amount of irritation. Not this one, T. He countered mentally and even as it did so, his conscience was tugged at by the knowledge that her reasoning wasn’t completely unjustified. Although she’d never mentioned his other children, the God of War knew that they were the basis of her argument, which she had so discreetly disguised as the gene pool.

The mixed bag of offspring he’d produced was heavily laden with more than a fair share of children that had followed in his footsteps. Most were like he’d been. Manipulative, egotistical, mean, self-serving and all the other negative attributes that he still possessed, but chose to constrain. They weren’t a nice bunch, except a few that had somehow bypassed his genetic influence and become middle of the road to actual goody goodies and even those weren’t really any of his doing, because up until T had become pregnant, his interest in his children had been minimal at best. His paternal responsibilities had ended with the copulation, unless it served his purposes to stay in the picture, which was rare and usually ended with him getting bored.

Sighing again, Ares watched T’s face as the lights dimmed, which signaled she’d gone to sleep. In the semi-darkness of the room, he stood silent for a long moment, just watching her and thought about what he’d done wrong in the past and what he’d die for before he’d do again. Turning around, he went to the chair holding his discarded clothes and picked up his jeans. Pulling them on over his boxers, he took another look at the woman who’d changed his life. Not this one. He thought again, then slipped silently out of their bedroom to go downstairs and out again. Once on the balcony, he went quietly down the steps into the throne room and took a moment to look at the large chair. As he did, his eyes were drawn to the golden crown in the seat and he thought about all the times he’d wanted to end the life of the woman upstairs because she possessed the power that lay behind that simple headpiece. "The Crown of the King of the Ungara." He whispered and shook his head. Walking over to the thrown, he picked up the object, staring at his face reflected in the polished surface. "Who would’ve ever believed that a child of mine would ever wear this." He said aloud, as his answer came back inside his mind. Nobody. Least of all me.

Looking deep into his own dark eyes, he turned away from the throne and continued to stare until he saw stars added to the reflection. Glancing upward, the night sky met his vision, with it’s twinkling lights and utter blackness. Searching the specks of light, he sat down on the first step of the promenade and continued to stare, while his fingers unconsciously rotated the crown in his hands. "When did I stop wanting you?" He asked them and himself. "What happened to the Ares, God of War who wanted to be the god in this world, with everything and everybody at his feet?" Moving his eyes across the sky, he waited for an answer, but received only tiny dots of sparkling light in response. Sighing, he leaned forward, placing his elbows on his knees and looked down at the crown in his hands. "You." Speaking softly, he fingered the warm metal. "You’re what happened to me, aren’t you?" Still getting nothing but silence to his question, Ares felt the answer come from his heart and closed his eyes. As T’s face passed through his mind, it brought a smile to his face. "Yea, that’s it." Chuckling softly, he thought back on his life, to when it had changed. To when his wants and desires had become secondary in importance to fulfilling his needs, which included giving up his plans for world domination, and following T around like a love-sick puppy.

Opening his eyes, he considered the smiling face staring back at him. "You’re so whipped." He said and gave the gold toned reflection a smirk. "And you love it." Nodding in agreement, they both smiled and he continued to ponder his life and what it had become. Lifting his gaze from himself, Ares looked around him. The trees were only a shadowy outline in the moonlight and although he had his full powers, due to T’s manipulation of the power base, he still felt the lingering sense of uneasiness the forest gave him. Before T had died and before she’d become a god, the forest had been an enigma to him, with it’s protective shell from Ungara and the Ancients, that drained him of his powers when he entered and that was a complete unknown before he’d met her. Just like T herself, the forest was beyond his omnipotence and it wasn’t until that day he went to see Xena, when she was dead in her mother’s home, that he’d taken the time to learn of this enigma and all that went along with it.

The woman standing guard over his prized warlord’s body was a surprise to him, as he popped in to say a smug good-bye, because he couldn’t actually see her unless he was physically looking at her, which was still true. And even then he’d ignored her, his mind focused on Xena and almost lost his hand before he woke up to her presence and discovered the error. He’d gotten away with a gash to his palm, but that was more than enough to get his undivided attention and to cause him much duress at the very idea of a mortal doing him harm. Thus, once he’d gotten over the pure amazement of the idea and bandaged his hand, his ego had kicked in and driven him to making his second mistake, which was showing up at the ‘she’s alive’ party. Then he discovered another annoying attribute to the mysterious woman and was again amazed when he found himself standing in the corner of the tavern being glared at with golden cat eyes. This time he didn’t make the mistake of thinking it was a lucky stare and could feel the intensity of her eyes, which made his skin crawl, and he knew she could see him. The tingling across his skin overrode his more aggressive nature and Ares had left, to watch from the outside, but then found himself face to face with those eyes, when T snuck up on him and pinned him against a tree by the throat. Then and only then did he begin to comprehend the danger she posed, when her claws dug into his neck, spilling even more of his blood and he realized that it wasn’t just the sword that was the problem, but the whole package. That was the moment he decided that this woman, who was spewing words of warning and cutting off his air supply had to be eliminated and so he left, or was allowed to leave to begin his research and making plans for her demise.

In the following months, he kept a watchful eye on Xena and Gabrielle and traced T to the forest. During that time, he was also trying to learn everything he could about the new enemy, studying her closely in an effort to determine her strengths and weaknesses, to use against her. Normally this could be achieved from the Halls of War, using his powers to keep track of her movements, but unfortunately that damned blind spot kept getting in his way and he was forced to do his own leg work by following them around. Keeping a safe distance, if that was possible, he’d spy on her when she was with the warrior and bard and even got very close to traipsing into the forest in his pursuit of knowledge, but stopped when he felt his powers dwindling with each step he took. So, Ares stuck to the world outside the forest to learn what he wanted and even had her given to him on a silver platter, when her friends had tied her to a tree to keep every male in a fifty mile radius safe from her amorous clutches.
And though he might have preferred a fair fight, the God of War was never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, so he knocked Gabrielle unconscious, then strutted toward his intended victim with a smile on his face and a misguided sense of comfort. The last part became evident when, during his soliloquy of just how he was going to end her life in a slow and painful way, T broke her bonds and pounced on him. Of course, his initial reaction was to scream in fear, but he never got the chance and suddenly found his fearful cry smothered by smoldering lips. Now, in any other situation, he would’ve been happy with the turn of events and to be honest, he did actually resist for a whole minute and then he gave up his idea of killing the woman, at least for the moment and went with the groove.

This chink in his resolve was only the beginning of his fall and though he spent the following hours in pure carnal satisfaction, he didn’t realize then that his destiny had been set, nor did he realize it when the sun went down and she changed from an insatiable tigress in heat to merely a woman. In those long seconds, as the sun fell below the horizon, he suffered from indecision and was caught between his mind, which was voting for leaving before those claws tore him to pieces and therefore was a vote for self-preservation and something deeper that called out for him to stay. During that moment, as she turned away from him to move to the edge of the pool and watch the orange glow outside the cave entrance, that his body he got the first hint of what life without her near felt like and sent a clear message to his soul. Though the chill against his body, left in her wake, may have come from the icy water they were in, it didn’t account for the sudden hollow feeling in his soul and it didn’t account for his total disregard for personal safety, when he swam to join her. What moved him that day was something that took him years to admit to and he fought tooth and nail to deny, even though his heart and soul were continually waging war on his mind and forcing him to make choices that would normally have been a given.

Those first few years after that day were spent in an internal battle for supremacy of his will, which his ego was holding onto with a death grip. Because of this, he refused to admit that he felt anything but a passing affection for T. Though they were known to spend days on end in each others arms, he continued to play the part of God of War by pursuing his desire for wreaking havoc and world domination and in the process, continued to be fought by the trio of women that found his wants less than appealing. With each failure, his ego got singed and it grew more and more thirsty for the praise it fed on, which led to the ultimate betrayal of his heart, when he chose to side with Dahok and Hope. That decision, though fortified by his mind as the right one, proved to be his heart’s destruction, because in making it, he broke the first rule, which was not to interrupt a good nap, but to cause the death of Gabrielle. This, he discovered later, was an unforgivable sin, despite the fact that the bard had acted on her own and he was alienated from T’s life completely for his participation in Dahok’s attempt to reclaim the world.

Even after Gabrielle was found alive and both Hope and the Destroyer were dead, his exile from her life was total. He no longer enjoyed the occasional assignation and his heart began gaining ground in it’s struggle with his ego, because the God of War, with all his bluster and bravado was discovering the difference between wants and needs. He wanted to rule the world. He wanted to be in control. He didn’t want a woman with the power to destroy him. He didn’t want to become wrapped around her little finger and he didn’t want to change his warring ways. But he did and in the years leading up to T’s death, Ares found his wants falling by the wayside and his unconscious need making itself known. Although his ego still played a part in the decision making process, the God of War was slowly changing, as the world became less important than having her forgiveness and he even went so far as taking, what he thought were the dead bodies of Xena and Gabrielle to the ice cave for safe keeping. This was done as fulfillment of a promise made in the heat of passion, which was to protect the pair, should anything happen to T and in the following 25 circles of the sun, his need to keep that promise was tested by the King herself. But he withstood her anger and irritation and eventually survived the fallout of his mistake, when the couple popped up one day to turn his world upside down. Yet, through all this, he never gave up trying to fill his need, though he was met with mere mild indifference on the part of T, but try he did and in the end, fell short of his goal, when his efforts and his whole world came crumbling down around him, as Xena laid T’s lifeless body on the ground after their battle in Dahok’s lair.

Just as his affiliation with the evil Ancient had been the turning point in his life, so too was the final confrontation, with even more devastating results and Ares was left without the woman he needed and a hole in his existence that finally made him realize the thing that had kept him in the pool that day was love. The conqueror of all had laid claim to his heart and in that moment, when his fingertips met the chill of death on her skin, that the mythical God of War ceased to exist. In that instant his change became complete and even though he would one day regain the love he lost, his ego never again overrode his heart.

This was proven when he became aware that his powers had become secondary to hers and he was entombed for two thousand years. Although he wasn’t happy with the accommodations and he fumed for the first thousand years, his heart was true and he used is omnipotence to keep tabs on the world as it passed him by. So, by the time Mel, Janice and Nick showed up and released him from the sarcophagus, Ares was more than ready to leave; however his desires bit the dust again and he spent the next six months doing manual labor, and digging his way out. Then, just when the light of day crossed his face for the first time in two milleniums, it was blocked from view by the woman who held his heart in her hand. Feeling his heart skip a beat at seeing her, he also trembled with trepidation at being sent back to his tomb, but this was put aside, when she pulled him out of the rubble and their hearts, souls and bodies shook the ground with the reunion.

Seeing a smile in his reflection, Ares tossed the crown a couple of times, while he let the memory of that day play out in his mind. As it did, he was reminded of the woman upstairs and everything they’d been through, along with the challenge they were faced with now. These thoughts brought him back to reality, sobering his smile into a reflection of a worried father with knowledge that his past may come to haunt him with the birth of his child. Sighing, he held the crown up, studying the god in the gold, then moved his eyes higher to the stars overhead. "I know that a good father wants his baby to be born healthy and happy and that’s what I want, but I also want this baby to be good. T deserves that, even though I don’t and it’s not fair to punish her for loving me." Lowering his gaze, he looked at the crown again. "I know that it’s a lot to ask and that either way, I’ll love this baby with all my heart and even if it turns out to be like my other children, I won’t run. Love changed me for the better and it can do the same for my baby." Standing, his eyes remained on the crown, as he walked back into the throne room and returned the gold circlet to it’s place. Staring a moment longer, he finally smiled. "No, I won’t run. Not from this baby, not from this love. That’s a promise." Giving the crown a final tap, he headed back up to the mother of his child and the woman who ruled his heart, his soul, his world and in who’s arms he’d found a home.


T heard Ares leave and opened her eyes when the front door closed, but left the lights dimmed in the room. Listening to his steps fade down the outer staircase, she also heard his words echoing in her mind. Unfair and pessimistic were what was keeping her awake and they reverberated loudly against the silence of the room. It wasn’t the first time she’d heard them from him, but somehow this time they were having an unsettling effect on her. Maybe it was a mood swing, or her hormones going off the deep end again, but it really didn’t matter and as she lay there, going over the different variations of the discussion they’d had, in her mind, she felt a wave of guilt take hold. "Sometimes I’m such a complete ass." Sighing with the admission, she pulled back the covers to look down at the point of contention, then gave her enlarged tummy a rub. "Your mother is an ass." She said with conviction. "I’ve got everything anyone could ever want in this world, two best friends, not just one and a guy that worships the ground I walk on and loves me and who’s put up with my tantrums, mood swings and complaints and what do I do? Do I say, thank you Ares? Nooooo, I tell him you’re probably going to be some heathen with an attitude, because he’s your father and jump up and down on his feelings like an insensitive bitch." Slapping her forehead a couple of times, T sighed again. "Smooth, T. Real smooth."

Giving junior another rubdown, she closed her eyes. "You’re not a heathen and even if you do have an attitude, I’ll still love you." Her voice low, T felt movement under her hand and smiled. "Yes, I’m talking to you, you little sprout, who’s made me a prisoner in my own home and confined me to immobility." Opening her eyes, she continued to rub her tummy. "This is all your fault and it’s you who turned me into the wicked witch of the west, so don’t look so innocent. I’m not normally an ass, just for future reference and even though I do have my moments of being a tad testy and extremely over protective, I really am a nice person, or so I’ve been told anyway." Wincing, she tried to remember the last time someone told her she was nice and then put the thought out of her head, when nothing came to mind. "Anyway, I am and I intend to prove it, but don’t take my niceness as a sign of weakness, little one. I’d hate to have to show you what your mother is capable of and oh my god why don’t I just shut up." Covering her eyes, T couldn't believe she was threatening her unborn child and felt her control slipping through her fingers. "I have lost my ever loving mind. Yep, see ya, have a nice trip. Catch ya on the next go round." Waving a bind hand, she bid farewell to her marbles as she envisioned them rolling across the floor. "This has got to stop." Keeping her eyes closed, she took a deep breath and held it, until the anxiety passed, then let it out slowly and lowered her hand. Feeling more movement from inside, she shook her head. "No, no, no. This isn’t your fault. It’s mine. I’m just having one of those testy moments I mentioned. I’m sorry, just go back to sleep." Giving junior several soft pats, she reached up, taking hold of the headboard and scooted herself up to a sitting position.

Sticking Ares’ pillow behind her back, T leaned against the headboard and took several more deep breaths to clear her mind, before she opened her eyes. Sighing heavily, she glanced around the room, then lowered the lights until it was completely black. "Much better." Gaining some comfort from her beloved darkness, she felt a semblance of control return and welcomed it with open arms.

Of all the things she’d given up for the safety of the baby, there were two things that she missed the most. The first was the ability to control her own life and the second was going outside. Both of these played a major part in her testy moods and they also fueled her ambivalent behavior, but knowing this didn’t seem to help and she was finding herself taking more and more of these little moments, in the dark to regain her lost composure. Though a temporary fix, they did work and even as she sat, confined to her bed for the night, she took solace in the darkness and imagined a soft breeze on her face. "That’s better." Nodding, she closed her eyes, using her memory of the outside world to ease the tension and relax. Smiling, she opened her eyes to look down at her tummy and watched her nightshirt flutter with the kicks she was getting. "Yea, you do that. Take a run for me and I’ll sit here and watch ya." Chuckling, she added a jiggle to the movements. "Some day, you and I will go for runs in the forest and swims in the river and everything else I haven’t been able to do for the last seven months." Leaning her head back, the god stared up at the ceiling. "Someday I won’t be trapped and someday I won’t be fat, and someday I’ll look back on this time and laugh, but that won’t be today and it won’t be tomorrow, but it will be someday." Giving herself a pep talk, T shook her head in resignation. "How on this round world did my mother ever stand this?" She stood it, dummy, because she loved you. Her mind answered. And don’t be such a whiny wimp. You’ve got it a lot easier than she did and I think having to suffer a little immobility is a low price to pay, compared to the sacrifices she made. "I know."

Closing her eyes, T let herself be reminded of what it had taken to get her into this world and felt small under the self scrutiny. Both her parents had paid the ultimate price to keep her safe, with her father being the first and who never even got the chance to see what he was fighting for. Opening her eyes, she looked down at her hands and the claws she possessed, which were the closest thing she had to knowing her father. He had had them, just like every King before him and in his death, he’d passed the soul of Ungara to her, along with the claws and she’d become the only King ever born with them. Holding her hands up for a closer inspection, T raised the lights and turned her hands over several times in wonder. "These hands." She said softly. "They can rip a beating heart from a body in less time than it takes to blink and they can wield a sword with the precision of a grand master, but for all their strength, skill and power, I still don’t know if they can hold a baby." Lowering the items in question, she let them come to rest on top of her stomach and continued to stare at her second greatest weapons. They had ripped hearts from bodies and they had brought death to many, and if she’d been asked that question before she’d gotten pregnant, the answer would have been a hearty yes, but now? Now, she wasn’t so sure and as the time to find out got closer, her trepidation grew by leaps and bounds.

That was the difference between her and Ares. He’d been a father before, even if he didn’t really take a personal interest in his children, he did have experience. T, on the other hand, had only faint memories of her mother and she’d never been taught what a mother should be. Her mother had taught her the language of her people and their history, as well as sword drills, speed drills, how to hunt, how to hide and what her place was in this world. Rahjolie, her mother, had been more of an instructor than the truest definition of a mother, but that wasn’t her fault and she never had the chance to coddle her daughter with bedtime stories and play time. T was the future King and was being hunted because of that, so she’d had to make the most of the time she was given to prepare her only child for her future and her give her the skills needed to ensure her survival. Things that T was grateful for and she never forgot the memory of how her mother had sacrificed her life to Democles’ flames, so she, herself could continue to hone those skills and one day return to the home she never had, to become the King she was born to be.

Her Aunt Krestral had survived three years longer than her mother, but for all the love she had in her heart for her niece, she too was not given the chance to see T grow up and used her time wisely, as well. So, at the age of ten, T was left alone and became the sole survivor of her clan, with no maternal influence to guide her and spent the remainder of her childhood being hunted and using the skills she’d been taught. The years that followed posed no motherly influence either, unless you count the captain of the ship she jumped on, but even as fatherly and loving as the old codger was, he didn’t teach her anything about being a mother either. As the only female on a ship full of men, she did get a good lesson in the difference between the sexes, but nary a sailor tried to show her what a mother was supposed to be. And to be honest, though T was far from being a virgin when she met up with Xena and Gabrielle on the road that day, she never asked what motherhood included and if the truth be known, never even considered the possibility that the subject might come up for her and therefore didn’t pursue any acquisition of knowledge in the field.

So, here she sat, pregnant beyond belief and scared to death that she’d be the worst mother in the history of the world. This, however, was not something she shared with Ares, Xena, or Gabrielle and her facade of confidence and calm exterior were beginning to show the wear and tear of keeping her fear secret. The irrationality of the fear was obvious to her, but it didn’t go away. Everyday that passed brought it closer to swallowing her soul and made her job of remaining stress free that much harder. And it added to the already present stress of being virtually immobile, cooped up, unable to go outside and loosing the ability to have a say in her life. Though she’d never considered herself a control freak, she was missing the day to day routine of running the empire and the conference, which she’d looked forward to, was delegated to the warrior and bard, for the safety of the baby. Her vast reaching influence had been shrunken to the size of a pea and with nothing to occupy her body, her mind was also left with little to do and gave her way too much time to stoke the fire of her fear.

But through all this, she maintained her sanity, though only by a thread and held onto the hope that she wouldn’t fail the child within her. She may lack the experience of motherhood, but she had been shown the most important thing of being a parent and that was love. Her parents had loved her more than their own lives and it was the weapon she used against her fear. Whether or not she made mistakes in the rearing process, she would make sure that this baby knew it was loved. This baby would be loved and have a home, and would grow to be whatever it wanted to be, because she knew and was the most experienced person in the world in the knowledge that through love, anything is possible. It was what had brought her back to the forest. It was what had made her accept the Crown. It was what made her spill the blood of countless soldiers, in the protection of her friends. It was what had made her face down Dahok. It was the spark that stayed in her soul and lit the flame of life, to bring her back from the dead. It was the reason she expended so much energy trying to keep the world from destruction. It was the reason she couldn’t allow Ares to stay dead at the hands of Drennan and it was the reason this baby came into existence in the first place.

This baby was not a mistake, though it wasn’t planned. Just like her love for Ares wasn’t a mistake, though it blew her out of the water when she fell head over heels for the heel. Her love for Ares was as real as the foot pressing against her ribcage and no matter if Xena and Gabrielle never understood it, or what she saw in him, she did see something. She saw her love reflected back, every time he looked at her and the pitter patter of little feet to come, was also a reflection of what her heart did when she thought about him.

"So, even if you are the spitting image of dear old dad, you’ll always have my love, just like he does and trust me," giving junior a soft pat, "if I can put up with Ares, you’ll be a cake walk." Smiling to herself, T felt a piece of her fear break off and float away. "We may not be the quintessential example of the perfect parents, but we’ll do our best and if we fail, it won’t be because we didn’t try and it won’t be because we didn’t love you. We do. I do." Talking down to her stomach, she felt something like a smile radiate from within her and it made her smile more. "That’s right, pumpkin. Your mom loves you very much and you are the only person in the world I would become a human veggie for, so you do your part and hang on for a little while longer, then you can show me that smile for real and I’ll show you that this love is real." Nudging the tiny foot off her rib, T felt a resistance and sighed. "Remind me to add footstool to my resume’." Rolling her eyes, she heard the front door open and lowered the lights. Scooting back under the covers, she assumed her previous position and waited for Daddy to arrive.

Opening the door slowly, Ares stuck his head in and saw T in bed. Creeping inside, he closed the door silently and pulled off his jeans, to put them on the chair. Then he tip toed to the bed and crawled up, pulling the covers up to his shoulders, as he scooted over to lay behind T. Wrapping one arm over her waist, he realized she wasn’t asleep, by her breathing and gave her a kiss on the shoulder. "Did I wake you?" Keeping his voice just above a whisper, he saw a smile come his way.

"No. I was just thinking and lost track of time." Taking the hand on her tummy in hers, T brought it up to her heart. "What were you doing?"

"Thinking." Lifting up on an elbow, he scanned her face in the darkness. "What were you thinking about?"

"The baby." Matching his tone, she rolled back into his body. "I’m sorry, Ares. I didn’t mean what I said earlier. I don’t believe this baby will be bad."

"It doesn’t matter. We’ll love whatever we get." Giving her a wink, he leaned down to capture full lips with his own and held the kiss for a long moment.

Hugging his hand tighter, T smiled. "What were you thinking about?"

"You, the baby, us." Settling in behind her, Ares snuggled close. "I was talking to the Crown again."

Chuckling softly, she sighed. "That crown has seen more action with you, than it ever did with me."

"Maybe, but it knows who it belongs to, just like me." Smiling, he gave her hand a squeeze. "I love you."

Smiling, T tucked their hands under her chin and closed her eyes. "I love you too, Ares." Giving her tummy a pat, she started drifting off. "I love you, junior."

"I love you too." Closing his eyes, Ares smiled with the warmth radiating from her body and snuggled closer, before he fell asleep.

Floating around, junior’s eyes closed and a little smile creased an unborn face.


Staring out the window of her classroom, Gabrielle watched the clouds make their way across the blue sky and yawned. Covering her mouth, she glanced sideways to check the bowed heads of her students. Thank the gods it’s Friday. She thought. Otherwise I’d never make it. Yawning again, this one brought tears to her eyes, so she wiped them away with her finger, then wiped it on her jeans. Looking down at the dark patch in the material created by the tiny wet spot, she hoped nobody was going to be having fits now that she had almost given up wearing her dress suits. It’s just too much trouble. Which equated to she’d overslept again and grabbed whatever she could find to make sure she wasn’t late. Chuckling softly, she straightened her legs, bringing her feet into view and the large cuffs just above them. Sorry, Xena. I didn’t do it on purpose. Sending a mental apology to her wife for grabbing the wrong pair of jeans in her haste and leaving the warrior princess with a pair that would probably only reach her knees, if she was lucky. Shaking her head, she lowered her legs as another yawn came on and she went back to staring out the window. Somehow the clouds were keeping the sandman at bay and if she could only make it until this class was over, she’d be home free. Or, as home free as she got these days, which wasn't very free at all.

Her current state of tiredness was a result of working at the Hub until 3am, then trying to get a couple hours sleep before she had to get ready for school. It had never worked and even though Xena had suggested that she just stay up, Gabrielle had given the idea a thumbs down every time, stating that a wink of sleep was worth a pound of gold in her book. The other reason she had turned it down today was the fact that it was Friday and they were both off for the entire weekend. Free from having to look after T. Free from having to work at the Hub and free to catch up on the sleep they’d been missing for the past seven months. Free to slip under the covers with no alarm clock set and free to snuggle up to something that wasn’t full of feathers. That brought a big smile to her face, along with a contented sigh. "Oh, yea." Whispering very softly, she could almost feel the warmth of Xena’s body right now. I don’t even care if I don’t eat this weekend, she thought, as long as I get my nice, warm, tan, beautiful, blue-eyed pillow. As the thought of food got relegated to the back burner, Gabrielle continued to imagine a nice long nap on Xena’s shoulder and began to unconsciously spin the silver band on her left ring finger. Lifting her eyes to the upper-most window, she watched white silhouettes pass across their blue background and smiled softly when she realized what she was doing, then lowered her eyes to her hand.

Holding her hand just below desk level, she spread her fingers and continued to smile as the etched silver sent sparkles dancing into her eyes. Tilting her head, she heard Xena’s voice in her mind and felt her heart skip a beat as her memory played out a scene that had taken place in so many different places and different times, that it should’ve been like listening to a broken record. But it wasn’t and instead of being a prefunctional formality, their weddings had always gotten to her, whether they were huge ceremonies, or simply the two of them alone. She always got the same butterflies and she always cried. There was just something about hearing that poem and holding Xena’s hand that never failed to send tears streaming down her face. It didn’t matter how many different bodies they’d been in, or whether they were man and wife, or man and man, or wife and wife, they had never failed to find the other half of their souls and played out the scene again and again. Except for the last life time, she and Xena had spent the time they had together like they’d done since the first time they met. Side by side against what the world sent their way and loving every minute they had together and loving each other.

The karmic circle, like the ring on her finger was never ending and it sent them through countless variations of the same life where families passed away, friends faded into the crowd of people they’d met and known. There had been children in some lives and sometimes they weren’t always given the most beautiful, or hansome of bodies, but like the circumstances they had to face, none of these factors counted for more than a small side bar against the looming giant of their love. Though TPTB were not the kindest of benefactors and usually pitted them against the worst the world had to offer, the giant always prevailed. The giant was unstoppable and never took any prisoners. It rolled over adversity like a bull dozer plowing through a mountain of feathers. Nothing could stand against it and even when they sometimes failed to see it in the darkness of their lives, the bull dozer would change to a lighthouse, with a shinning bright beacon to guide them through the storms of life. Back to the only thing that mattered. Back home.

Home, Gabrielle thought and almost laughed out loud. What a novel concept. Just like their first life, she and Xena had rarely had a home, in the conventional sense and spent many of their lifetimes moving from place to place, or on the road. And, just like that first life, they hadn’t wanted for their roaming ways. Even if they lacked four walls and a roof, they always found a place to call home, which usually included one bedroll and two warm bodies. Like the giant, it was an unbeatable combination that had served them well through the years and although Gabrielle was eternally grateful for the house they now shared, with it’s ever inviting bed, two-story library she’d always dreamed of, the 200 gallon fish tank she’d wanted, or the endless amount of mementos scattered on every horizontal surface, it would still be nothing more than an empty shell, in her mind, if she didn’t have Xena to share it with.

She’d been the route of living alone and hated every minute of it, but until she found Xena in each lifetime, that’s what she’d done. Of course, the opportunity for sharing quarters with friends, or a sibling was usually available, but she’d always turned them down. So, instead of living with someone, her choice was to live in a place that meant nothing to her. Some of them had been very nice and were even on the opulent side, but she didn’t see that. The only thing Gabrielle knew was that she didn’t have Xena there and therefore those houses and apartments, or just simple rooms were empty space, waiting to be filled. Filled with the dominating presence of one warrior princess no matter what she looked like and to fill the void in her heart.

Those were the most trying days of her lives. The long days and years of acting like a normal person, while she searched every face she met for that familiar twinkle of the eyes and crooked smile. It was infuriating sometimes, with the endless pretending and knowing that the people around her would never understand what she was going through. She couldn’t tell them, or risk being locked up in a mental institution and with each unsuccessful day that passed, it got a little more frustrating. The only thing that did compensate for her loneliness and irritation was her writing. It gave her the only comfort in those days and she kept journals of her daily activities, in Greek and would spend hours on end writing her thoughts and hopes for finding Xena the very next day. Most days, her hopes were left unfulfilled, like her heart, but eventually her perseverance would pay off and then. Oh and then, she thought with a smile and looked down at her bare arm to see goose bumps forming. Just like now, her skin would start to tingle before she ever spotted the warrior and if Xena saw her first, she usually dodged the bard to sneak up from behind and it was always in the most inconvenient of places for a reunion. But that didn’t matter and every person within shouting distance was treated to an earful of jubilant cries and a flood of happy tears.

Even with the knowledge that they would find each other, Gabrielle always felt her heart bursting inside her chest with the first glimpse of her warrior princess and Xena’s touch never failed to send shivers down her spine. Her reaction was more reliable than the most precise time pieces and it was like a starting gun for her life. She marked her existence in two halves. One half was filled with anticipation and loneliness, while the other was filled with love and a sense of being whole again. No matter what her occupation was, or how fulfilling her work, it never took the place of having Xena in her life. The warrior princess filled every corner of her world and though Gabrielle considered herself quite the independent type, she also knew that it was like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Hermie in the Christmas movie. Two people being independent together. Yes, it was a contradiction in terms, she admitted, but that was the best description available and it fit them like a glove. Two people, who’s personalities were distinct and different, with different view points and different backgrounds, but who considered themselves a cognizant unit. And, as she also admitted, their distinct and different personalities often fell into conflict like bull rams during mating season, but they lived with that. They often agreed to disagree and only got into really big arguments over really small things. Like the wallpaper in the bedroom, which was supposed to be a flower print for her and a solid color for Xena and they had been thrown out of every wallpaper store for beating each other with rolls of the stuff, but in the end, they had found a middle ground in the stripe they now had.

Compromise was something they didn’t do well, again because of their personalities, but had gotten better at through the centuries. It had become like an artform, or science that each took as a way to test their mental and strategic skills. When they stopped having battles to fight and evil to get rid of, their minds were still engaged in warfare, but with bloodless results, unless you count the time Gabrielle hit Xena over the head with a particularly large scroll and had to put a couple of stitches in, but that was an isolated case. Normally their battles were more, or less subtle and the bard enjoyed them immensely because she was on level ground with the woman of many skills. Although that woman was known to cheat, Xena never had it easy and had eaten crow on more than one occasion. Gabrielle’s victories, though often tainted by the poutmiester and her bottom lip from hell, which worked no matter what body she was in, were not as rare as one might think. That little girl from Potedea was long gone and the woman that she’d grown into knew every angle Xena could throw at her and was more likely to lose from losing focus than anything else. That’s how Xena cheated. She’d distract her opponent by some physical, or verbal foreplay and the bard would know full well what was happening, but just couldn’t resist those damned seduction ploys. Again, the one time she did resist was an isolated case and involved large amounts of glue, but that’s a rather sordid tale that’s better left alone.

Ahem, be that as it may, they were suited both mentally and physically, and their friendship survived, as well as their love. The friendship was the longest running one, in the history of the world and was also the backbone for their love. If they had never been lovers, Gabrielle knew, they would’ve always been friends. Best friends in the truest sense, not the casual definition that was placed on what she qualified as acquaintances, but the real thing. The kind you wear like a second skin, knowing what the other is feeling and thinking without a word being spoken. Knowing when you’re being lied to for your own protection and knowing when to yank the leash and when to let it out. It was an armor wrapped tightly around their love, holding it together and making it strong enough to survive for over two thousand years. Friendship had been the original force that brought them together and instead of drying up or getting stale, their friendship had actually grown over time. Developing from a kinship, in the beginning, into an unshakable, unbreakable force to be reckoned with. Which, for those who tried to destroy it, or drive a wedge between them, was the equivalent of trying to level Everest with a plastic spoon. Not only did those people fail in their attempt, they frequently didn’t walk away of their own volition and more often than not, didn’t walk away at all.

Xena and Gabrielle were soul mates for a reason and although their love was a major player in the cause of that, their friendship was the foundation for their love and without it, that love would be as fragile as a snowflake; beautiful to look at and have, but temporary and unreliable, without trust and without the strength to endure the all out bombardments they had been faced with.

Even with that foundation and strength to back them up, their love had still been tested beyond the bounds of conceivable limits and had survived. It wasn’t the untouched visage of what most imagined as true love, with the pure white essence radiating from within, but had stains left behind by struggles with conscience, impossible battles of faith and the shadows of betrayal. Yet, though their love had it’s scars, it was still beautiful in it’s complexity, like looking at an intricate tapestry. Their lives, love, friendship woven into a pattern so detailed that even the weavers stood in awe of the creation. Strong, enduring, unbreakable, eternal, scarred, warm, comfortable, passionate, powerful, worth living, fighting, killing and dying for. That was their love and their friendship.

No matter what, Gabrielle thought, this love will survive. Then she looked up, as the bell started to ring, sounding the end of class and the beginning of her weekend. "Yesssssss." Smiling, she jumped up out of her chair and pointed at her desk. "Tests go here and if you’re smart, you’ll read the next two chapters by Monday." Seeing the personification of glum, she sighed when the trail of sad bodies started toward her. "Wait, wait, never mind." Waving her hand at suddenly confused faces. "Just enjoy the weekend and we’ll go over those chapters in class." Rolling her eyes, when the cheer went up, she hustled them out of the room. "Go, git outta here will ya. You think I live here or something. I’ve got a life, ya know and I’d like to get to it. Chop. Chop." Clapping her hands together, she saw thirty tests dropped on her desk in record time and had those tests in her briefcase by the time the last teenage body left the room. Disregarding her normal neatness, she shoved the papers in and began grabbing the basic essentials, before closing the leather case and jogging out the door. "Thank you, Nike, Goddess of Victory and remind me to pack these shoes everyday." Chuckling through the halls, she was out the front door and to her truck with the speed of a woman in need of a nap and wanting nothing more than to fall asleep in the love and warmth of Xena’s arms. She was headed home. "Move!"


Rubbing her eyes, Xena dropped her hands and stared at the inside of her eyelids, then popped them open when the door to her office moved and Jim walked in. "Is that it?" Seeing the stack of folders in his hands.

"Yep, that’s it." Smiling, he dropped them unceremoniously on her desk. "That’s the last of the expense reports, the last of the budget reports and it’s the last of the patient updates, which all have to be gone over before you get your precious weekend." Risking life and limb, by the expression on her face, he leaned on the desk and smiled bigger. "You know, Grace. It’s such a pleasure working for you, that I just don’t know if I’ll be able to go a whole two days without seeing your happy face."

Snarling, the warrior glared her most menacing glare. "If you still want to be able to see when you leave this office, I suggest you put any thoughts of calling me in, this weekend, right out of that vacuum you call a brain, because if I even think you’re thinking about calling me, I’ll hunt you down and break every bone in your body, then turn you inside out, starting with your balls." Using her lightning reflexes, she grabbed his smock and pulled the smug mug across the desk to be within a very close proximity with hers. "Got me?"

"Actually, I think you could use a couple of days off and I’ll be sure to see that you get them, el capitan." Giving a bouncy salute, Jim continued to smile after he was released.

Growling low, Xena’s eyes narrowed and she actually considered putting him out of her misery right then and there, but let her great, great, grand son live and merely pointed to the door. "Be sure you do, el piss ant."

Flicking his eyebrows, he gave another salute, clicked his heels, then left while the getting was good.

As the door closed, the warrior sighed and let her eyes fall on the stack of folders. "Grrrrrrrr." Rolling her tired eyes, she knew she couldn’t put them off, because she’d done that twice already and after getting a nasty gram from the CFO of the hospital, had wrangled Jim in to help her get them done on time, this time. Of course, her selection of helpers was driven by her knowledge that he was a wizard with numbers, but it was tempered with the additional knowledge that he had a forked tongue and would use it to it’s fullest annoying capabilities, which he had done. "Snot nosed brat." Flipping open the top folder, she turned to the picture of Gabrielle on her desk, and pointed at it with her pen. "Why couldn’t you be more like her? I like her." Asking the question to space Jim had just vacated. "And don’t tell me it’s my fault, because I refuse to believe that, although I carried your great, great, grand father for nine months, that the next four generations of genes added to your pool didn’t have any influence on your smart mouth." Giving the empty space a satisfied nod, she went back to her reports and heard a mental chuckle from the large photo centered between the one of her parents and the one of her siblings. "And don’t you start with me." Keeping her eyes on the paper, she again used her pen to point to where the voice was coming from. "I don’t care what you say, he is not a clone."

Flipping through the pages of the report, she checked the numbers and continued to hold her two-sided, one person argument, filling in Gabrielle’s parts by heart. "I was never that bratty. I was witty. There’s a difference." Smiling to herself, Xena could almost see the bard’s eyes roll in consternation, which made her chuckle. "Well, if your sperm had been worth their salt, Mr. James Elias Buchanan the first, maybe he wouldn't be so snotty." Getting in a jab, she tossed her head sideways to simulate being smacked in the head. Laughing hysterically, Xena had to put the pen down, before she marked up the report. "Gods, I’ve been sitting in this chair for so long, I’m getting punch drunk and I’m talking to myself." Wiping the tears out of her eyes, she gave them a good rub as well and sat back in the chair for a break. Taking a deep breath, she puffed her cheeks to let it out slowly and glanced at the picture of the woman, who’s hand print was permanently embedded in her skull. "I know, I know. It’s my fault. I should’ve done them two weeks ago." Calming down somewhat, she shook her head. "I could blame you, ya know. If you weren’t so damned sexy, I’d get a lot more work done." Pointing an accusatory finger at the smile she loved so much. "Yes, you, miss thang and don’t look at me like that. Otherwise my ass is grass, because I’ll drop this in a heartbeat and you know it. It wouldn’t be the first time you got me in trouble." Smirking at the photo, she chuckled. "You and that smile will be the death of me someday. All cute and inviting and I’ve got to shut up before I end up with my butt in a sling." Shaking her head, Xena closed her eyes, to get away from the smile. "Focus, Xena. Just focus on these reports. It’s not that hard. You can do it." Nodding with each pep to her talk, she opened her eyes and stared at Gabrielle. "Oh, this is never going to work." Sighing, she leaned forward and laid the picture face down on the desk. "Sorry, honey. But you gotta do, what you gotta do." Giving it a soft pat, she sighed again and went to work on the reports.

As she flipped through the pages, her eyes were safe from distraction, but her tired mind wasn’t so lucky. With each category signed off, her thoughts strayed further and further from the task at hand, and more and more toward Gabrielle. Which was, of course where Xena really wanted to be and would've gladly turned in her resignation to be next to her soft warm body, if she thought she wouldn’t get her ass chewed by the bard for doing it. Wincing with the thought, she shook her head. "No, that would not be a good thing. Been there, done that. Got the scars on my butt to prove it. No, no, no." Waving her pen in resolution against the idea, she went back to work and succeeded in getting the expense report completed before thoughts of Gabrielle completely took over her concentration. Then she merely moved on to the budget report and let her subconscious crunch numbers, while her hands switched to autopilot and her heart took her away from her office. Away from the drudgery of her position, away from the aches and pains of sitting in one spot for ten hours and to the one person that made the world disappear, with all it’s wear and tear.

Smiling, as one hand turned a page and the other began to move slowly toward her, Xena imagined wrapping her arms around Gabrielle’s shoulders, pulling her close and feeling those smiling lips pressing against hers. Sighing, she watched another page go by and fought back the urge to close her eyes, so she could get a better image. "Gods, I just wanna go home." Groaning at her inability to fulfill her desires, she propped her head on one hand and stared blindly at the pages, as more tempting images filled her with a desperate longing to be home and in the warm embrace of her bard. Feeling her bottom lip start to edge outward, she sucked it back in with a disgusted frown. "No pouting." Rolling her eyes, she focused her vision on the page and pressed onward. "When did it get so hard to do this?" Asking the general nonexistent populace at large, she got no response and didn’t really require one, because she knew the answer. It was when they moved into their house and her comfort level had gone through the roof.

She didn’t really like the paperwork aspect of her job, but in the beginning she’d plowed through it with an ease of a seasoned professional. Now, every time she saw anything manila, she cringed. Each tidy folder represented a waste of time, in her opinion and though she knew it was a necessary evil, it wasn’t really the time away from her patients that bothered her. It was times like this, when she was tired, that the paperwork got to her and she wanted Gabrielle around, even if the bard was just sitting on the couch, reading a book, her presence always made Xena feel better. She didn’t have to help. She didn’t have to talk. All she had to do was be in the room and suddenly the paperwork didn’t bother her so much. And it wasn’t just paperwork that got easier with her there. It was everything. Mowing the lawn, doing laundry, fixing the plumbing, working on her parent’s cars, everything got easier with Gabrielle close by.

Letting out a long sigh, Xena leaned forward, picked up the bard’s picture to set it back in place. Letting her eyes take in the smile and the sparkling green that defied the two dimensional surface and filled the room, and made her smile too. "Okay, I guess I can live with this for a little while longer, but not too much longer." Giving the bard a wink, she shook her head at how even a picture could alter her mood. But that was the power Gabrielle had. She didn’t really need to be there and if push came to shove, Xena might even be able to get the paperwork done with no external influence, but she didn’t want that. She wanted Gabrielle there and that was all there was too it. Call it selfishness, co-dependency, weakness, lack of character, it didn’t matter one iota to her. All she knew was that having the bard around made her happy and if that was a problem, then it was somebody else’s problem, because unless that somebody was extremely stupid, they would know that having a happy warrior was much better than having an unhappy one.

Her dark side may have been conquered a long time ago, but her temper hadn’t gone anywhere. It had moved from body to body, along with her soul and like it’s dark counterpart, her temper needed concentrated effort to be overcome. Left to her own devices, Xena was moderately successful in holding her temper in check, but the master of manipulation, the person who had the key to lock up her temper, was Gabrielle. No matter how mad, furious, or intent on detaching someone’s head from their body she was, the bard simply had to touch her arm, whisper her name, or give her a look and the monster would crawl back in it’s cage. Of course, the monster was free to bitch and moan about being locked up, but once Gabrielle yanked her chain, it was all over. Many lives had been spared a slow and painful death from a good yank, and although Xena sometimes didn’t like the notion of someone having that much power over her, she knew she’d given the bard that power, when she gave her her heart.

Gabrielle’s love had helped her conquer her dark side and in the process, she’d conquered her heart as well. Holding it in the palm of her hand and wrapping the mighty warrior princess around her little finger, but not without giving back as much as she was given. Their love was mutual and Xena had done her share of chain yanking in her day, with mixed results and enough bandages to cover the Empire State building. Unlike the warrior, who had spent years learning to focus her emotions, Gabrielle’s monster only went back in it’s cage with a whip and a chair. The bard was, to use an overused metaphor, hell on wheels when she got going and stopping her took a lot of effort and skill on Xena’s part. The simple touch, that was very effective on Xena, got her hand slapped when she tried to use it on Gabrielle. The simple word got her yelled at and the look got her smacked up side the head, but eventually, Gabrielle’s rage would run it’s course and Xena’s job was to get her off the ground, so she wasn’t able to inflict any major damage on whoever pissed her off first and self preservation second. And the green-eyed monster was ten times worse. That little bugger required a cattle prod to get it’s attention and then you rode out the storm by burying your head from pummeling and wishing you’d remembered your shin guards. Gabrielle, for all her intelligence and compassion, was beyond reasoning with when she was mad, but that was one of her endearing qualities and one which could be used to an advantage, given the right circumstances.

Nodding her head, with a grin on her face, Xena cocked her eyes over at the photo. "Yea, you’re my spitfire, all right. Rock’em sock’em Gabrielle, with fists of steel and kicks of unimaginable fury." Chuckling to herself, she could almost feel those kicks right now and they were aimed at her backside, telling her she needed to stop daydreaming and get back to work, so she could go home. Home is where the heart is, she thought and gave the picture another quick smile. Yea, home is where the bard is. All warm and soft and funny. Smart and understanding and grumpy. Loving and compassionate and sexy. Passionate and inspiring and irritating. Happy and sad and everything all rolled up into a perfect package that loves me. Who never fails to make me want to be with you all day, everyday. To listen as you speak, to feel as you feel and to bring my heart joy with your smile. You are my inspiration and my light, my shining star in a world of darkness. You’ve conquered my heart, tamed my soul and given me the best in every lifetime. You’re my best friend, confidant, partner and wife. Without you, I am merely a wayward warrior in search of an imaginary foe, but in your arms I’m a champion. You give me strength, wisdom, love and encouragement. Your world is my world, your heart is my heart and our souls are one. Your wish is my command and your desires, my goal. I give you my heart and you give me peace, comfort, contentment and a reason to breathe. You’re there when I need you and even when I don’t know I need you, to stand by my side, or just hold my hand. Your strength helps me stand against the world and your love lifts me higher than I have ever been lifted before. You quench my desires and caress my spirit. You are the most beautiful, strong, supportive, sensitive, willful, loving, compassionate, caring and kind person I have ever met and to know that you can find it in your heart to love me, makes me question your sanity.

Laughing out loud, Xena looked at what she’d written and almost erased it, but left the line alone and finished the letter. I love you, Gabrielle. Always and forever and without judgment. My love is unconditional and it is yours. Thank you for loving this warrior and thank you for allowing me to love you. It has brought me joy and happiness that words cannot describe and if our circle ever comes to an end, I will gladly give up my earthly existence to spend eternity in the heaven of your love. Xena.

Tearing the page out of the budget report she’d been writing on, she folded it into a square and stuffed it in her pocket. "Okay, Jim. I hope you’ve got your eggs in a basket, because it’s show time." Going through the report, she signed her initials in rapid succession and gave the patient updates more consideration, which took up another hour, but she didn’t mind so much. Closing up the last folder, she pulled off her smock, pulled on her jacket, tucked the folders under her arms and grabbed her helmet, then delivered her manila items to their appropriate destinations and put a sticky note on the budget report about the printer eating a page and that she’d have it first thing Monday morning. With that done, she jogged through the halls to the stairwell, taking the steps by leaps and bounds, then went through the helmet routine while jogging through the lobby. Hitting the sidewalk, she picked up speed, heading toward the bombshell and was out of the parking lot before the engine had time to know it was awake.


Gabrielle pulled the truck into the garage and jumped out of the cab, yanking her helpless briefcase behind her and slamming the door on it, then it got rescued and bounced off wall and fender on it’s way to the kitchen counter. "Xena?" Shouting the warrior’s name, the bard listened and shouted several more times, before her heart began to sink. "Damn." Slapping the back of the couch, she was about to slump dejectedly to the floor, when her ears picked up a distant rumble. "That’s my girl." Feeling her face stretch into a smile, she went out the front door and moved to the edge of the porch. Waiting as patiently as she could, she let the rumble get her heart pumping and felt the goose bumps on her arms.


Pulling into the driveway, Xena gunned the engine, sending dust and dirt into the air. Weaving down the path, she slowed down when she cleared the trees and smiled at the first sign of Gabrielle on the porch. Going around the dirt circle in front of the house, she pulled up next to the steps and took off her helmet, then shut off the engine. Dropping the helmet on the seat, her eyes were trained on the bard’s and she walked slowly up the steps, to wrap her arms around Gabrielle’s waist. Staying one step down, she was eye to eye with the sparkling green. "Hey."

"Hey. Welcome home." Grinning from ear to ear, Gabrielle wrapped her goose bumpy arms around Xena’s neck and pulled her in for a long kiss. "Tired?"

Nodding, the warrior pulled the letter out of her pocket and presented it to bard. "This is for you."

Lifting her eyebrows, one came back down and she took the offering, giving it a speculative stare. "Is it a note from the principle?" Smiling at the item.

"It’s a note from my heart." Whispering, Xena took the note back and put it in Gabrielle’s back pocket, as she pulled her closer. "It’ll wait." Smiling, she held her wife tight and basked in the feeling of warmth and love she’d been needing all day. "I love you."

"I love you." Holding Xena’s eyes, she saw a very happy soul through the crystal sapphires and knew the warrior was seeing the same thing. "Food or sleep?"

"As long as I get to be with you, I don’t care." Stealing a kiss, she felt the arms around her neck loosen their hold and smiled. Then she was led happily away, through the house, up to their bedroom. As she got undressed, she gave her reflection a wink and turned to find Gabrielle already in bed. Chuckling, she crawled under the covers and assumed her natural position and waited as Gabrielle snuggled close. Feeling the bard’s hand take it’s place under her chin, she pulled up the covers, then wrapped one arm around a narrow waist and the other took hold of the hand under her chin. Intertwining their fingers, she gave a blonde head a soft kiss then closed her eyes and let out a long heartfelt sigh. This heart, this soul, this love. Yea, I’m home.


The End.

Epilogue: The Plan D series is going on hiatus. Don’t worry, there isn’t anything wrong with me, I’m just going to do somethings around the house that I’ve been putting off for a long time. Like tear down my old rotted carport and put up a new one, strip the yard, then re-sod, replace the screens on the windows, reinsulate the attic, stuff like that. Unfortunately, to accomplish these tasks in a timely manner, being the do-it-myselfer that I am, I can’t take my usual amount of time to write, so I’m having to put you all on hold for a couple of months. I expect, hope, to be finished with my domestic activity by the end of September and that’s when you should start looking for new stories. In the meantime, I am hoping to squeeze in a little rewriting and will get the chance to start updating the earlier stories in the series. So, if you see one of those get posted, don’t think I’m back, but as soon as I get my list of things to down to a reasonable size, I will be. Hate it when the real world crashes my party.

Sorry to send you such news, but that’s one of the things you get when you live in a house. The maintenance never goes away, you just put it off until the roof falls in, then you take action.

I will continue to answer any and all email, so feel free to keep in touch. I might need my spirits lifted now and again, with what lays in store. Hopefully you’ll still be here when I get back.

Thanks for reading and I’ll see ya in September.


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