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These Things Happen

by Quest

It was a dark and stormy night, and the wind whipped around the inn, keening like a banshee. Well, maybe more like a wolf having a really bad hair day. Okay, it was just wind, but it was making a racket, and it was keeping Xena awake.

With a heavy sigh she sat up in bed, wondering what kind of hare brained twisted vision of kindness had led her to get Gabrielle her own room this time. They always slept together, in the same room, in the same bed. It was comfortable. It kept them warm, damnit. But she'd gotten to thinking that the bard might want a little privacy sometime. And, since they had the money, she'd gallantly suggested the idea.

True enough, Gabrielle hadn't turned her down. In fact, she'd seemed rather intrigued by the idea of having a room all to herself. But now Xena was stuck here, in this room with rickety shutters, cold, alone, and awake. Damn it.

Climbing out of bed she wrapped the skimpy blanket around her and paced to the window. Then, chilled by the draft rushing in through the cracks, she paced *away* from the window, barking her shins on a cleverly hidden footstool. How in Hades had it gotten into the middle of the room? Under a black cloak, no less. She didn't even OWN a cloak, damnit. Must've belonged to the previous inhabitant. She hoped he was dead. Or at least sleeping in a cold gutter somewhere, without his damn cloak. Damnit.

A gentle tap at the door led her snarling in that direction. She jerked it open mid snarl. "What the H. . ." (pause) "Oh, Gabrielle." Xena smiled wanly, trying to look like she hadn't just been about to tear the bard's head off. "Uh, what are you doing up?"

Gabrielle carefully kept a straight face, managing to look remarkably innocent. "Well, I couldn't sleep, you know? I guess I'm just not used to sleeping by myself after so long." (Actually, she'd been sleeping quite soundly, until Xena's stomping around had woken her. But she wasn't about to bring that up.) "So, I thought maybe, if you didn't mind me bothering you, I could come sleep on the floor in here or something."

Xena let out a relieved sigh, gesturing towards the bed. "Don't be silly. There's no need for you to sleep on the floor. Go on and get into bed."

Gabrielle quickly snuggled in on the inside of the bed, and patted the spot next to her. "Are you coming?"

"Yeah, sure." Xena slipped into bed, gently covering the chilled bard with the majority of the blanket. Gabrielle smiled at the wall as Xena's arm slid around her waist, and her warm body pressed up against the redhead's back.

"You know Xena, I've been thinking. I really don't much care for sleeping alone. How about you?"

"Hmmm mmm." Came Xena's sleepy reply. "Me neither. Night Gab."

"Goodnight, Xena.

In the morning, the wind had calmed down considerably. After all, even a wolf having a bad hair day has to sleep sometime. But unfortunately, it had been replaced by a pissed off garden hose connected directly to the Olympian freezer, which was apparently on the blink again. It was spewing a heavy sleeting rain down on the town, from a position of cover behind some really ugly looking clouds. It's goal seemed to be to make a skating rink, or perhaps a truly unappealing swimming pool, out of the city streets. (It couldn't quite decide, so it alternated methods...) Of course, the natives didn't know any of that. They just knew that the weather sucked, and they didn't want to go outside in it.

Included in this wise bunch of folks who wanted to stay behind closed doors were both Xena and Gabrielle. But for some reason Xena also felt this need to press on, and continue their ceaseless travels. Perhaps it was that Stoic influence early on in her philosophical development, or maybe she'd just read a few too many Spartan adventure novels . . . Anyway, at precisely just-past-sunrise, Xena got up and started getting their things ready to go. After a bit, Gabrielle peeled an eye open and stared at her over-anxious warrior friend.

"What are you doing?"

Xena stopped stuffing a saddlebag, "I'm getting ready to go. We've got traveling to do, you know."

"Oh really. Where do we have to be, in such a hurry?"

"Uh, places." Was Xena's brilliant reply. "So you might as well get up and start thinking about breakfast."

Gabrielle groaned. "And how far do you think we could get today, traveling in that waterfall?"

Xena opened her mouth to answer that they could probably get a good fifteen miles under their belt, but Gab rolled over the top of her statement with a qualification: "And still have Argo speaking to you at the end of the day . . . ?"

Xena paused, thinking about this. Last time she'd taken Argo out in a downpour, the results had been less than stellar, and even at the time she'd suspected the mare of faking. . . She sighed. "I'd just wanted to make some serious progress today. I hate being delayed . . ."

Gabrielle shrugged, hiding a triumphant grin as she moved in for the kill. "Well, you know, sometimes these things happen. There's really nothing to be done about it . . . Perhaps we should think about some food?"

In the end, Xena pulled the stuff back out of the saddlebag and went downstairs, coming back up a few minutes later with a heavily laden tray. Hot savory lemon soup, thick crusty bread with olive oil, a chunk of feta and some cured ham, and a jug of light, sweet wine. Gab sat up and took the tray, and Xena sat down on the bed next to her. "Was this what you had in mind?"

Gabrielle smiled winningly and bit into some of the bread. "Mmmm, this perfect. Thank you." After a long pause filled only by the sound of munching, Gabrielle cleared her throat. "Now, isn't this better than riding all day in the rain?"

Xena shrugged, hiding a small smile. Gabrielle raised an eyebrow and, after setting the food on a side table, poked Xena in the ribs. "Are you saying that spending the day here warm in bed is NOT better than riding in the freezing rain?"

Fairly soon after that, their comradely argument escalated into a full fledged, pillow swinging, arm twisting, tickle war. Of course, Xena could have had the upper hand immediately, but only by doing certain things which might have damaged her companion. So, in the spirit of the game, things went on that way for several minutes. Finally, tho', Xena pinned Gabrielle to the bed, straddling her and hanging on to her arms. Insults continued to be traded, running along the lines of "insolent, uppity, chatty little strawberry blonde", and "stubborn, thick headed, glutton for punishment, leather jockey." Eventually, tho', even this creative team ran out of insults (or at least, ones they could use without provoking real damage...), and were left staring intently into each other's eyes.

Though this looked like it might prove to be interesting, it was about that time that they were interrupted by a loud banging on the door. "Hey you two, open up! Is everyone still alive in there? I won't have you breaking up my furniture . . ."

So, Xena jumped up and went to the door, explaining to the irate inn keeper that really, nothing was broken, or even in danger of being damaged. (Although, to be perfectly honest, they HAD cracked a strut on the bed, but they didn't know it. In fact, it wouldn't be discovered until sometime in late December, when a rather generously proportioned guest sat down a bit too heavily.)

So, with a parting warning to keep the noise levels moderated, the inn keeper left our intrepid pillow fighters alone again. Somewhat worn out, they polished off the last of the (now chilled) soup and bread, and then collapsed for an extended nap.

When they woke, it was full dark outside, and their breath seemed to freeze and fall to the floor the moment it was expelled. Xena got up to poke her head out the window.

"Great. We're snowed in."

Gabrielle looked concerned for a moment, and then exceedingly happy.

"You know, now I'm really glad we aren't out on the road. We'd be sitting and shivering in a snow bank somewhere right about now."

Xena a nodded and {shiveringly} built up the fire in the small hearth. Once she had it roaring nicely, she spread out the handy black cloak {which conveniently turned out to be fur lined} and sat in front of the blaze to warm up. Gabrielle immediately saw the wisdom of being near her main heat source, and besides, the fire looked nice too. . . So dragging the blanket off the bed, she settled in next to Xena, resting her head on the proffered shoulder.

"Thank you for indulging me today. I know you wanted to move on, but I really needed a day off. Thanks."

Xena smiled. "That's ok. It's been a good day for me, too."


"Yeah, really."

So they sat in companionable silence, staring into the flames. It might have been a mere moment, perhaps an eon. But eventually Xena noticed that her arm would be so much more comfortable resting around Gabrielle, and Gabrielle found that she'd be more at ease leaning in close to Xena. So they shifted, and got comfortable. And shift followed shift until, all at once, they hovered, a breath away from kissing. And somehow, it seemed more comfortable.

One thing lead to another, as these things have been known to do, and as body melded with body, the fire burned down to embers. Eventually they ground to a halt, and Xena trailed a hand lazily through her lover's hair.

"You know, when we got up this morning, I had no idea that this is where we'd be tonight."

Gabrielle grinned her impish grin and laughed. "Well, you know, sometimes these things happen."


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