Farewell to Dream Again
The next morning Gabrielle awoke with the sun in her eyes. She was momentarily disoriented until she realized that she was in Cara’s office on one of the couches. But she couldn’t remember how she had gotten here. She did know however that she hadn’t slept very long. It had been the sun that had awakened her.
Once she started moving the office GEV unit spoke softly to her.
"Are you awake, Colonel?"
"Yes, am I needed?"
"Not that I’m aware of. Would you like me to mask the windows?"
Gabrielle had to think about it. "What time is it?"
"It’s 0439 MST" That was Mars Standard Time. "You have a little under two and a half hours before the Shuttle departs."
"Is Xena here?"
"Call me in an hour and twenty minutes or when she arrives, whichever comes first." Gabrielle turned over on the couch and pulled the cover up to her chin. "Oh, and mask the windows."
"Yes Colonel, sleep well."
About forty minutes later the GEV unit stopped Major Baldridge and Xena when they exited the elevator.
"She is sleeping. I will not allow you to wake her unless you have good reason." The GEV had a stubborn but very loyal streak.
"Well we don’t really except to watch her get mad and laugh at her pillow hair." Dan said with a humorous sneer. "Is that a good reason?"
Xena smiled and shook her head.
"That is not an adequate reason. Please return in thirty-seven minutes and I will be happy to wake her for you." She was steadfast in her decision.
"GEV I admire your loyalty. But I want to see my woman. Even if all I do is watch her sleep, I want to see her." Xena said firmly.
Dan had the good sense, for once to stay silent. It was a rare occasion the GEV took special note of it and marked the event as must see on her vid disk for Cara when she returned. The sentiment from Xena was honest and heartfelt. GEV checked her vitals and saw that she was telling the truth.
"As you wish, but please do not wake her." The doors popped open a crack. The room beyond the portal was dark.
"I’m not stupid, have you seen her when she hasn’t had enough sleep and someone wakes her up… scary? Dan, come back in just under an hour. Well go over the plan one last time on the way to the launch bay."
Dan nodded and turned back to the elevator while Xena quietly entered the room and took a seat on one of the chairs.
Thirty minutes later Gabrielle’s eyes shot open. Her mental alarm clock had gone off. She was awake. Almost immediately she could feel the presence of Xena. Her heart lightened at the knowledge. She turned over and told the GEV to raise the lighting a bit as she did. Xena was seated on a chair at the foot of the couch.
"Been watching me sleep again?" Gabrielle said sleepily.
"Yup, it’s the best view around." Xena said with a smile. "If the couch had been bigger I’d a joined you."
"Mmmm, I wish that you had." She stretched lazily and rubbed her stomach. "Nice uniform, is that the new design that the Amazons came up with?"
"Ya, it fits nice and it moves well, even with the armor over the top."
"And it looks hot too." Gabrielle all but purred the words.
"Naw, it has these moisture whisking under clothes and…" She stopped because Gabrielle was giggling. "Oh, that kind of hot." She rolled off the chair and crawled over to the other end of the couch where Gabrielle had laid her head. "You like the looks of it huh?" She said as she rested her hand on Gabrielle’s blanket covered stomach and leaned over her.
Gabrielle reached up and ran her fingers into Xena’s hair and pulled her down into a deep wet kiss and hummed her answer. "Mmmhuh"
Xena ran her fingers up underneath the covers and found bare flesh. "Mmmm, what’s this then?"
Gabrielle arched an eyebrow and smiled and pulled Xena into another kiss.
Xena ran her hand slowly down Gabrielle’s stomach and found some nice wet flesh for her fingers to marvel over.
Gabrielle sighed and threw a leg over the edge of the couch.
The GEV shut off the cameras and dimmed the lights. Let them feel their way.
"Relax honey; the shuttle doesn’t leave for another hour and a half. They just want you to be there early so that you can go through all their damn weapons checks. We’re not going through them so there’s little need to be early." Xena was brushing her wet hair and thinking that she kind of liked this style. It was a bit longer in the front than she normally liked it and a bit shorter in back. But it was nice and Gabrielle had said it looked nice. That was what was important.
"Really, damn I wish people would tell me these things ahead of time!" The annoyed voice came from inside the shower.
"I’m glad that I wasn’t wearing my new gloves… not that I would have minded but she might have… they are fingerless." Xena was talking to Margo in the mirror. The part of her that was Margo was exhausted and was actually falling asleep inside. Xena was tired too but she couldn’t sleep right now. She could sleep on the shuttle.
"What’d you say dear?" Gabrielle hated it when Xena mumbled. Xena grimaced at the face in the mirror. The mirror image had her eyes closed and was nearly catatonic. "Nothing dear." She raised her voice so that Gabrielle could hear her over the water. "She’s a grump this morning." Xena said conspiratorially to the sleeping woman. "I cheered her up a little but with me leaving she’s bound to be a bit grumpy."
"She’s worried about you." Gabrielle had shut off the water and was standing in the shower doorway toweling off. "And you’re so tired that you’re speaking to a sleeping woman in a bathroom mirror."
"Everybody has to have a hobby." Xena said as she turned. She never missed a good toweling off show if she could help it. "Did you get your ears clean?" It was a fetish of hers… ears… especially Gabby’s ears.
Gabrielle gave her the, are you kidding look and ran a corner of her towel around in one of her ears. "Of course I got them clean." Now she was grumpy and self-conscious.
When they finally were clean and dressed they went back into Cara’s office to go over the plan once again with Dan.
"So you’re commanding the escort of how many ships… fifteen including yourself?" Dan nodded. "Can’t we justify another two or three squadrons?" She knew the answer to that question.
"Really, are you joking? We can’t justify the one going." Dan didn’t press her. He knew that she was torn.
Gabrielle grabbed her face and lightly pinched the bridge of her nose between her two middle fingers. "I know… okay this is what I want you to do… fly escort until you reach Luna’s actual airspace. Then hold up there and wait. Have three more squads prepped and ready for deployment."
Dan and Xena both just looked at her in silence for a few seconds. Gabrielle had covered her face again and was just waiting for one of them to say something. When nothing was forthcoming she lowered her hands and silently said, well answer me.
"What, you changed the plan what eight times last night? Are we sticking with this one or what?" Dan was serious.
Gabrielle had been debating this with Cara since they had made the shuttle reservations the day before. Neither one of them could made a decision. Gabrielle was worried about Xena, Cara was too but her big concern was also for the politics that this whole thing involved them in. Inside them they both screamed. ‘Damn it Cara will you just grow a pair and take over?’
‘Take over what, my own body?’ Cara was just as tired as Gabrielle and twice as grumpy.
‘Not the body, the Government of Mars. You have a weak Governor and a weaker Council. You have the power on this planet… use it!’
‘I don’t want to be seen as a Warlord or something." Cara nearly simpered.
‘Wake up and smell the coffee! You are a bloody Warlord! Act like it! This planet needs your guidance and your vision for the future. So stop pussy footing around and take the reins!’ Gabrielle was actually beyond angry but she was maintaining a fairly even keel or at least she thought that she was.
Cara was a bit taken aback by the vehemence and the comment. But the more that she thought about it the more that she realized that Gabrielle was right. She was a Warlord and she really did have a good vision for Mars. She did need to take over and just run the whole damn thing. But that was something for another day. There were other things going on today. ‘Gabrielle I can’t let my ships go beyond that invisible barrier without a good reason… and I can’t think of one right off hand. But I will make you a promise; if anything even smells wrong I will send them past the line all the way to Earth to protect Xena. Will that satisfy?’
‘I guess it will have too.’ Gabrielle sounded defeated.
‘I know that you are sacrificing a great deal by staying here. But I know that it is the right choice and I think that you know it as well.’
Gabrielle had nothing to say. It was the right choice but she didn’t have to like it. "The plan is what I just told you. But be ready, be weary and if it even smells bad you have my permission and Colonel Rayne’s permission to enter Luna’s or the Earth’s airspace to deal with any problems. We can’t officially commandeer this shuttle but because it is carrying a Martian Dignitary we can keep an eye on it and protect it if necessary." She paused then she said almost as an afterthought. "Dan, if you happen to think of something while you’re out there… then act on it. But keep me informed."
He had heard the last comment but decided that it wouldn’t be prudent to address it. "Martian Dignitary… really, how are you going to justify that? She’s a low level Sergeant, a glorified secretary. What, that’s how she’s seen. I know the difference and you know the difference but to the rest of the Universe, Margo Blake is nobody important!" Dan always got the job of pointing out the painfully obvious.
Xena glowered at him for a second before she had to agree that he was right… even Margo had to agree that he was right. "Maybe Margo and Cara need to rethink this whole idea about hiding my descendants from view. Sometimes having the bait on a perpetual hook isn’t such a bad idea."
"Well we certainly wouldn’t be playing this game right now that’s for certain. But to be fair I’m not so sure that I would have foreseen things working out this way. On the surface hiding the main target sounds like solid strategy." Gabrielle growled.
"Usually it is but since they assume that the main target is going to be attached at the hip to another set of people… well it kind of makes the point moot." Dan once again had to point out the obvious.
Gabrielle scrubbed her face again and let out a long sigh. "Alright Dan that’s the plan; you and the Amazons are in charge of taking care of Xena and Margo. Bring them back alive, that is a direct order!"
"Are you really going to mark the shuttle as carrying Martian Dignitary?" She hadn’t answered him earlier.
"Yes" Gabrielle said without hesitation. "We’re declaring it; in fact it is highly possible and most likely probable that in the next couple of days we’re going to be declaring a great many things." Dan couldn’t really tell if that was Cara or Gabrielle. It didn’t matter he would follow either of them. "Do you know the old saying; sometimes it’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission?" Dan nodded. "That’s your standing order when it comes to her. Use your best judgment to protect her if you happen to cross a line here or there or step on a few toes… we’ll deal with it later. Take all the ships that you think you will need and leave me a few to defend the planet."
Dan was grinning from ear to ear. "Yes Ma’am!" He was standing at attention and saluting. She returned the salute and he exited the room.
Xena was looking at Gabrielle. "You know that this could turn out bad?"
"Ya, well you’re the one that wants to go to Japan." Gabrielle was angry
."No, Japan is secondary now. Now it’s all about exposure. I just hope that we don’t get more than we can handle." Xena said with a smile. She took a step towards Gabrielle and took her hand.
Gabrielle looked down at Xena’s hand in her own and had to smile. It was wistful but it was a smile. "We always manage to bite off just a bit more than we can chew."
"Yup" She pulled the hand up to her mouth and kissed Gabrielle’s knuckles. "It’s gonna be okay, babe. Relax and command your army. Let Dan and I worry about me. I’ve got a Platoon of Amazons flying with me and Dan is sure to take at least two squads of flyers as well. I’m practically gonna be wrapped in a baby blanket!" She said flippantly.
Gabrielle had to smile at the imagery. "I would have loved to have seen you wrapped in a baby blanket." Her eyes twinkled. "Let’s get you to the shuttle platform." They started walking towards the doors hand in hand.
Xena stopped just shy of the doors. "Once we get past those doors we have to be Colonel Rayne and Sergeant Blake." She spun Gabrielle around and planted a warm kiss on her lips. It was returned with fervor. They clung to each other for the length of the kiss but when it was over they parted, prolonging things would not help them. Xena was cupping Gabrielle’s cheek. She smiled at her partner. "Either I’ll see you in a while or in my dreams. Either way, I love you Gabrielle with every beat of my heart and more."
Gabrielle sighed heavily. "I love you too Xena." She smiled mischievously. "You’ve given me some new material to dream about." They kissed again. This time it was a shorter and sadder kiss. Then they opened the door and strode out of the room.