Author: Kat Lee
Fandom: Xena, Warrior Princess
Character/Pairing: Xena/Gabrielle, Aphrodite, Amarice, Lao, and Lydia
Challenge/Prompt: 1_million_words A to Z Challenge: X (I know, shocking I didn't use it for X-Men!) and Comment Fic Friday: New Arrival(s) (And aye, I know I totally shot the word count on this one to heck! Yay! :-) )
Warning(s): Modern Biker AU
Word Count: 3,555
Date Written: 9 December, 2015
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to their rightful owners, not the author, and are used without permission.
"Xena? Xena, I see her! She's coming out now!"
"I see her, Amarice." The dry tone of their leader instantly silences the excited biker. Others in their gang exchange glances, but no one else dares speak as the blonde steps out of the store.
Keen, blue eyes watch her movements carefully. Even now, the younger woman appears graceful. The afternoon sun catches its rays in her long, blonde hair. Xena's fingers curl as the other woman's locks shine brilliantly in the sunlight.
"Would you like me to bring her over?"
"No, Lao." Xena turns away with a final command on the subject, "Let her go." She knows her presence would only frighten her, and although she's had dates before because the women were too scared to turn her down, she doesn't like the thought of this Gabrielle being scared of her. She's been in a town for only a week, but already Xena learned that she's a traveling writer in search of inspiration for her next book. She hasn't read any of her novels, but then, she can't even remember the last time she seriously read something beyond the headlines of their town newspaper.
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, Lydia," Xena snaps, and the conversation is ended -- or so it should be, but at that time, wheels screech on the pavement, sending the women's heads snapping back around to attention. Gabrielle's just stepped off onto the road, and the writer's frozen, watching through wide, green eyes as the car barrels toward her.
Xena frowns. Her town isn't known for crime -- she and her gang keep it down, despite their two-member police force --, but then, she doesn't recognize this car. As it passes them, she notes its tag is definitely out of town. She hops on her bike as she car heads for the writer. Her people are busily screaming at the girl to get out of the way, but Gabrielle's still standing like a deer in headlights.
Xena's seen more than one deer be killed on the interstate. She won't let it happen to the blonde, but as she revs her bike to life, she notes added danger. A semi's coming in the opposite lane and going way too fast for her town's borders. He won't be able to stop, and the passenger door on the car is opening wide.
She barely hears Gabrielle's scream, barely registers Lydia calling out in surprise, "It's a kitten!" All she sees is a bundle of fur and a beautiful blonde about to be flattened by that damn semi who can't switch lanes because of the car making a swift U-turn. Xena wastes no time. She flies down the road on her bike, jumps it onto the hood of the car, rides over the car, and hits the pavement beside the blonde, both wheels firmly beneath her.
She spins Argo in a wide swoop, grabbing the blonde, throwing her on behind her, praying her legs will catch and she won't fall, and snatching the kitten off the pavement. She can hear her gang trumpeting her on, but she ignores them as she ducks the trembling, clawing kitten into the front of her black leather jacket. She's not doing this for the praise. She does nothing for the praise, because she deserves none, but she can't let an innocent die. Not again. Not ever again.
The semi's horn blares. Xena jumps the curb, cursing the stupid truck driver for not knowing to steer clear of her town, and lands, bike, kitten, screeching blonde, and all, onto the sidewalk. She stops, her heart pounding as Argo's engine still revs, and watches the semi speed harmlessly on by. The car, of course, is gone, too, by the time the semi's clear.
For a few minutes, Xena just stays there, poised on the edge of her bike. The adrenaline's still pumping in her blood, and although she can feel the kitten trying to fight his way out of her jacket, his tiny claws aren't doing enough damage to make her mind snap back to the present. Instead, she hears the screams and bombs of another time. She sees people dying, buildings exploding, . . . and then she feels the trembling hands of the blonde seated behind her.
Xena blinks, blue eyes slowly refocusing. Gabrielle's hands around her waist are the first thing she sees. "You can let go now," the biker tells the terrified writer.
She stammers something, something that Xena does not quite hear, and she suddenly has the notion that this girl is one of those she considers as small, barking dogs. Tie her mouth shut, and she'll explode. But when she turns to look at her after Gabrielle's dismounted, she finds her breath catching in her throat again. The blonde may like to talk, but damn, if she isn't beautiful!
A claw slices Xena's breasts through her T shirt, demanding her attention. Carefully, she lifts the fighting kitten out of her jacket. She looks at the swinging paws and the look of anger she knows is really misplaced fear. "You're a tiger, aren't you?" she asks the kitten, whose paw narrowly misses connecting with her nose. She laughs.
"You're a tiger, too," a quiet voice says, finally earning her attention. She stops and looks again at the blonde, finally hearing the words she's saying. "That was amazing," Gabrielle adds in earnest awe.
Xena shrugs. "You needed help. I helped." She holds the fighting ball of orange fur out to Gabrielle.
Gabrielle holds her hand out before the kitten, whose tiny paws and sharp claws finally stop swinging. He looks at the blonde, almost as uncertain as to what make of her as Xena herself is. Gabrielle slides a finger softly down the tuft of fur sticking out on his little forehead. Then a second, and then a third, until the kitten's calmed and purring. As the blonde takes the kitten from Xena, the biker looks at her and can't help thinking that she could make her purr.
"You should keep him," Gabrielle remarks, cradling the kitten. He's lost in her soft touch, and Xena wishes she could be, too. "You saved him."
"You keep him. My life isn't exactly . . . fit for a cat."
"Mine isn't, either," Gabrielle admits. "I'm always -- "
But it is now that her people crowd around Xena and her new friend. The tallest brunette in the small group looks at the blonde. "The diner. Tonight. Seven o'clock. Wear something nice."
"Amarice," Xena spits, "I am more than capable of making my own dates!"
"Yeah, you are, but you weren't asking her, were you?" Gabrielle's eyes dart between the two women with rippling muscles. The one who'd given her the command looks back at her again. "Seven o'clock," she insists, and Gabrielle nods. Xena steps into the other one's face, and as they argue, the blonde takes her cue and leaves.
Right before she turns off the street, however, she looks back over her shoulder at the biker who saved her. She never caught her name. She doesn't even know if she'll be at the diner at seven, but Gabrielle knows she has to try. The woman has a story to tell, and besides, she's never been asked out by any one with such beauty or courage. A smile trembles over her lips. She hopes she'll be there at seven, but regardless, she will be.
The kitten purrs. Gabrielle looks back down at the small bundle of fur who's finally calmed and holds him gently against her chest. She calmed him easily enough. Maybe she can calm the biker, too.
Seven o'clock comes. Gabrielle looks at her watch for the third time already that evening. She looks back to the door with a frown, but then it finally opens. The bikers enter. The first two stop dead in their tracks. The brunette who told her to come beams at Gabrielle and waves. Gabrielle starts to wave back, but the anger flashing in Xena's gaze stills her fingers. She lowers her hand instead and wraps her fingers around her half-emptied glass.
The leader says something to her women, and Gabrielle watches as they part waves. She's never really known a biker before, let alone a female one who's so obviously in charge of her own gang. She gulps nervously as the leader strides purposefully toward her.
"I'm surprised you came," Xena greets her earnestly.
Gabrielle smiles. "You did save my life."
"I'm not in the habit of demanding dates from the people I save."
"You didn't demand," Gabrielle sips her drink. "I came freely."
"Only after Amarice told you to come."
She shrugs. "I would've liked to have come. I'd like to get to know you better, starting with your name. Your friend only told me when and where I could catch you."
A smirk plays over the biker's lips, but then she supplies, "I'm Xena."
"I -- " Xena stops just short of admitting she already knows her name. "It's nice to meet you, Gabrielle."
Gabrielle sips her drink again. Xena finds her smile, as she lowers her glass, to be quite alluring. "So," the blonde asks, "do you save people often?"
Something dark passes through Xena's beautiful, blue eyes. "No," she admits, and her voice sounds suddenly so sad that Gabrielle finds herself reaching out to her. Her hand touches hers. She's surprised, but glad, when the biker doesn't pull away. "No, I don't, but I try to help where I can."
"You saved two lives in one jump today," Gabrielle acknowledges. "I think you're doing pretty good." Xena's smile is radiant.
"I don't believe they've talked for hours!"
"Xena's really taken a shine to her."
"It's good for her."
"Yeah, but -- "
"Not everything's about sex, Lao."
"No, but Xena is a very physical person."
"What the Hell is she doing here?!"
"Amarice, don't -- "
"Amarice, do not get involved!"
"The Hell I won't! She's not destroying this for Xena!"
"Xena doesn't want us to have anything to do with her!"
"Yeah, well, I don't want her to have anything to do with them tonight!"
"She can fight her own battles!"
"There are some battles, Lao, which no one should have to fight alone!"
"If she needs us, she'll call."
"Xena -- "
The smooth voice cuts through their laughter like a knife cutting through smooth flesh. Xena's laughter and merriment dies instantaneously. The darkness Gabrielle flicker before in her beautiful, blue eyes returns as the brunette lifts her head with pride and, Gabrielle notes, determination. "Callisto. What are you doing here?"
"I came for the food," the blonde smirks. "Didn't know they were serving up lies for appetizers." She plops down next to Gabrielle, effectively trapping the smaller blonde inside the booth. "Nice, new friend you have."
She turns to smile at the younger woman, but there's no warmth in her smile. It's deadly, instead, and Gabrielle is reminded of a snake hissing its tongue out right before it strikes. "You must be the writer who's visiting this little, one-horse town. What's she been telling you, hm? All kinds of grand stories about people she's saved? What about the ones she killed?"
"Callisto," Xena whispers in urgent warning.
"Well, you did, Xena, but you didn't tell her that, did you?" Callisto's smile broadens. "Of course not. The war heroine returned home who's so proud of the lives she saved but won't admit to the ones she took."
"It was an accident."
Gabrielle looks to her and sees that she's barely containing her rage and pain. She glowers furiously at Callisto as the other blonde continues, "Accidents are made to happen, Xena. Every one knows that."
She's laughing when Xena grabs her throat. "Xena, don't," Gabrielle starts to intervene, her hands going for Xena's as they clench around Callisto's throat. "You're only giving her what she wants!"
Gabrielle's hands touch hers. Xena snakes her hands away, releasing Callisto who immediately begins laughing again. "That's right. Listen to your little writer."
"Xena, I didn't mean -- "
But Xena's already leaving. She's out the door and off into the night by the time Gabrielle gets her fourth word out. Gabrielle turns on Callisto. "I don't know who you are, and I know I just met both of you, but already, I can tell you're not even half the woman she is."
Callisto finally stops laughing. "You little bitch!" Her hand pulls back to swing at the writer, but another hand grabs hers before it can make contact.
"We told you to leave her alone." Amarice crunches Callisto's hand in hers. Lydia grabs her shoulder and pulls her out of the booth. Only Lao's not there, because the Oriental's already gone after Xena.
Gabrielle slides out beside the women and runs out the door. Her intentions are to follow Xena, but the woman's already gone. So, too, Gabrielle notes, is her bike. She has no idea where she's gone. She feels like crying and shouting at once, but then a quiet voice speaks to her.
"I can take you to her."
Gabrielle looks to the speaker and is surprised to find a blonde biker dressed entirely in pink. Baby blue eyes watch her from over the rim of pink sunglasses. The blonde smiles. The breeze tugs at the pink, silk scarf tied around her ivory neck. "I'm Dite," she says, "a friend of Xena's." And yours.
Gabrielle's green eyes widen, but the woman didn't actually say those last two words. She only thought she heard them. Still, she's her one way to Xena, and she knows the woman who saved her life earlier today, the woman who has more beauty and courage than any one else she's ever met before, is hurting. She needs her. She needs help. "Can we make one stop first?"
"Sure, babe. Hop on."
It's to a small, dirty trailer park on the outskirts of town to which they ride. Xena's is, evidently, the first trailer on the lot, because that's where they stop and where her bike is parked. The Oriental woman Gabrielle saw with Xena's gang is still banging on the door when they arrive. She looks up, and her eyes widen with surprise at the sight of the blonde who's driving. She runs to meet them. "Dite," she speaks the name in a tone and with a nod of respect.
The blonde smiles in answer. "Go to her, Gabrielle."
"The door's locked."
"Not for long."
Dite waits for Gabrielle and the struggling, little body she's holding in Dite's pink leather jacket she's now wearing to dismount. Then she swings one long, perfectly shaped leg over her pink bike and moves toward Xena's trailer. She doesn't stalk with pride or danger radiating off of her as the other biker women do. She moves with a certain grace, almost sashaying through the trash and beer cans in the yard on her way to Xena's door.
She hits Xena's lock once with the back of her ivory white knuckles, and the door swings soundlessly open. She descends the steps and looks to Gabrielle. "She's all yours, Gabby."
Gabrielle enters cautiously, uncertain as to what to expect. The other two women linger behind, Lao still looking at Dite as though she might sprout a second, blonde head. "You came," Gabrielle hears her whisper before the door swings shut behind her.
"Of course." Dite smiles and disappears in a sprinkle of pink hearts, knowing Her job here on Earth is done again.
Meanwhile, Gabrielle's still edging her way slowly into the trailer. She's listening for sounds of sobbing, but the whole place is deathly quiet. The silence is punctuated by a "Mew," that makes Gabrielle jump. With gentle, loving hands, she lifts the tiny, orange kitten out of Dite's jacket and sets him on the floor. He runs through the trailer, and she follows him to a bedroom in the back.
There are no lights on, but the lights from the street lamps outside are filtering in through thin curtains just enough that Gabrielle's able to make her way through the trailer. She's also able to spy the woman sitting alone in the dark and drinking from a long bottle, whose contents she's already almost downed. A pile of emptied bottles, each the size of the one she currently holds, is stacked beside her chair.
"Gabrielle, how'd you find me?"
"I thought she was one of yours? Dresses in pink. Pink bike, too."
Xena shakes her head.
"Well," Gabrielle says, "she sure knew where you were, and that Orient chick outside seemed to know her."
"Whatever her name is. We haven't been introduced yet."
"It's got to be Lao," Xena says, puzzling, "but I don't know a Dite."
"She knows you. And I know we just met, but I kinda like to think I do, too. At least, I know you well enough to know that woman was lying."
"No, she wasn't."
"What do you mean?"
"I did kill people."
"Maybe you did, but it was an accident."
Xena nods slowly. "It was an accident," she admits, "but the bomb I triggered killed her family and many others."
"But you didn't do it on purpose, Xena, and how many others have you saved?"
"Not enough. When I first started helping people, I thought that maybe I could save enough lives to make up for those I had killed, but that's not possible. No matter how many you save, you can't bring back the ones who are gone."
"No. Maybe not. But these people . . . Were they good people?"
"Some were. Callisto's family was."
"And would they want you punishing yourself?"
"I don't know! But I killed them, Gabrielle! That's what matters!"
"No." Gabrielle's on her knees now, kneeling before Xena where she sits in a ratty, old chair.
"You don't understand! You've never killed anybody before!"
"No. No, I haven't. But I've never saved anybody either. The lives that were lost because of something you did by accident do not make you who you are, Xena. Your past doesn't make you who you are."
"How do you know?"
"I know," Gabrielle says, leaning forward and cupping her hands with her own, "because I met a woman today who is beautiful and so brave that I didn't think I'd ever have the courage to talk to her and that woman can not possibly be a bad woman."
"You don't even know me."
"I know we just met today, but I feel like I've known you my whole life. But I do know you're a hero. You saved me."
Another meow splits the darkness as the kitten leaps up onto Xena's lap. "And," Gabrielle adds, for the purring, kneading kitten, "you saved him, when most people wouldn't have even bothered. You saved us both, and I know we're not the only ones you've saved. Something tells me you've probably saved every one of those women in your gang."
"I . . . I have, I . . . I guess."
Gabrielle shakes her head. "There's no guessing about it, Xena. We're here, because you saved us. An evil person wouldn't have cared. A bad woman would have just looked away. If they'd cared about me even, they still wouldn't have cared about Tiger."
Tiger's paw swats Xena's nose, but it's a gentle pat without any claws extended, just enough of a motion to make her remember that he is there and agreeing with the blonde human. Xena laughs. "He is a tiger, isn't he?"
"Yes, and so are you. You're a brave, kick ass tiger who I really want to get to know better. You're a brave tiger who saved my life and saved his and saved every one of those women in your gang and more people than that, too, I bet."
Xena's nodding slowly, admitting the truths Gabrielle's whispering. "You are brave. You are beautiful. You are strong. And you are not defined by your past or by your accidents, and that's what that was: an accident. There's no one that some one as loving, caring, and brave as you are, as you have to be to have saved us today, would've killed those people on purpose. Don't let that bitch get to you. Don't let her into you."
Gabrielle has come to hover over her now, their faces just a breath apart. She closes the distance remaining between them by pressing her forehead gently against Xena's. "Who should I let into me?" Xena whispers curiously, and Gabrielle answers breathlessly and without a second thought, somehow knowing, in her heart, that her answer is right, "Me."
She presses her lips against Xena's, sealing the promise hanging between them with a kiss. Her body slides closer until her legs are straddling Xena's knees. Xena's arms wrap around her, pulling her gently closer, as Gabrielle's tongue dives into her mouth. The women moan into their shared kiss, tongues and bodies sliding against each other, and in that kiss they know they've found the answers they've been seeking, the stories and best friends they've been missing, everything for which they've silently been longing.
"Mew." Tiger presses his front paws on Xena's breasts and arches up, his little, furry head bumping their chins, but they continue to kiss. No force on Earth can move them apart now that they've found each other again, but from on high, a certain force looks down and a certain Goddess beams down upon them. "Welcome home, Xena and Gabrielle."