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Teresa M Shafer - For books that kindle thought and ignite the imagination!
Life’s Little Moments 

“What was that all about dear?” Xena asked her partner when their party had stopped thanking them for killing Alti and for staying with them. She was certain that their little conversation with Michael and Ephiny would become legend within a week or two and she was even more certain that pictures of the two of them and the four of them and every combination would be made into posters in less time. “Oh, by the way you look good with wings. I had forgotten how good you look as an actual Angel. You’re always my angel but its different when you have wings… and I’m not trying to kidnap you or kill you.” 

Gabrielle couldn’t help but smile at her silly but beautiful partner in crime and love. “I figured that since we’re here we might as well visit some friends. And for the record sweetie you look amazing with Angel wings. That was the first time that I’ve seen them.” She had snuggled up to Xena. 

Shuttles were landing just beyond the hill. Most were Martian but a couple of them were Earth Force, Ares was not with them. They started walking up the hill. Their fellow Martians were all around them and walking up the hill as well. 

“That was the first time wasn’t it? Huh, I had forgotten.” They got to the top of the little hill and Xena turned around to look at the circle of rocks below. “I guess I finally corrected that last thing that I could correct from my past.” She said quietly so that only Gabrielle could hear her. “Now you can rest in peace Cyane.” She said even quieter.

Gabrielle squeezed Xena’s hand slightly. She had heard her final comment. Xena smiled and together they turned back towards the shuttles. They had already predetermined what would happen if they won the battle so there was no need to give any orders to the Marines or the Amazons. The only people that they needed to concern themselves with were the Guardians and their friends.

Xena stopped walking abruptly and Gabrielle was startled by the stop. She looked up at Xena with the question on her face. “Gabrielle, before we get to the ship… I need to know… where are we going from here… you and me?”

“I’m not sure.” Gabrielle was surprised by the question.
 
“Once a long time ago you asked me to settle down with you. These Amazons could benefit from your leadership just as much as those other ones could.”
 
“Is that what you want Xena… to settle down?” She kind of thought that they were settled but she suddenly realized that they were no longer children. Sometime during the battle the child had been expended and what was left was the woman that had followed Xena across the world and back again. Xena probably felt the same way. There was very little child left in them now. It was time to make adult decisions about their lives.
 
Xena put her hand on Gabrielle’s cheek. “I want to be with you. I don’t care where it is or what we’re doing. I don’t want to spend one minute from your side. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned in all of this is that moments are precious. You never know when the moment will end and you’ll be left alone. I don’t want to miss one moment of my life with you… not a single solitary moment. So you choose my love… wherever you go, I go. Honestly Gabrielle… you’re my home. You have been for a really long time now.” She sounded sad.
 
Gabrielle put her arms around her lover’s waist. “Xena… you’re my home too and I don’t care where we go. We can get on a ship and travel beyond the stars for all I care. Just be with me… forever.” Gabrielle understood now, Xena was worried that all of this Family stuff had somehow seduced part of her away from the unity that they had shared when it was just them on the road against all odds.

“I don’t want to get in a ship and leave… at least not right now.” Xena was smiling. It was a smile that confirmed Gabrielle’s suspicion. “I would kind of like to know if you plan on calling Earth home or Mars home. Just so I know where to point the ship during the holidays.”

“Well, if I must choose… I like Mars now. Earth doesn’t smell right and the air is too thick and I feel heavy here. What kind of woman wants to feel heavy?” She stretched up and kissed her lightly on the lips.

“If we go back to Mars they’re gonna want you to do something.” Xena sounded like she didn’t like the idea.

“I don’t care. I don’t want to be the Queen of the Amazons; Faith is perfectly capable of handling that job. I don’t want to be the Commander in Chief of the Marines or the President of the Empire or anything else. I want to be… with you.” She had changed what she was going to say and Xena hadn’t missed the slip but she didn’t pursue it.

“Are you sure?” Gabrielle kissed her as an answer. “Good I just want to spend whatever moments that I have with you. I want every moment to be filled with sharing and love and happiness. I’ll go wherever you ask me to go and I’ll do whatever you ask me to do Gabrielle. Just be there beside me when I wake in the morning, spend part of your day with me and lie down beside me when I go to bed at night. That’s what I’m asking from you.”

It was really quite a bit to ask for. Gabrielle remembered the last time that she had asked Xena to actually settle down. She had been Queen of an Amazon tribe at the time and Xena had been the odd man out. Gabrielle as Queen had little time to spend with her beloved and Xena had not been an Amazon so she had been excluded from many activities. The separation had been difficult for them both. That memory came in a flash so no real time had passed, Xena was not kept waiting for long. “I would like nothing more than to spend all of my life’s moments with you my love. I would like to take a stab at being a good… partner to you… and share all of my life’s moments with the woman that I love.” Something was obviously on Gabrielle’s mind but she wasn’t sharing yet.
 
Xena had been smiling while Gabrielle spoke. “Then I guess after we do some visiting we’ll be going home to Mars.”

And we get to graduate in a couple of weeks!” Gabrielle said excitedly.

“Oh for the love of Zeus! Are you kidding?” Xena threw her hands up in the air.

“Of course I’m not kidding. Aren’t you excited?” Clearly Xena was not excited. “Well I’m excited.” Gabrielle sounded a little deflated. “You better look excited when the day comes. We have to be a good example.” She was teasing but Xena looked like she was going to sick up.

“Someone needs to have pity on me.” She said as if she really were going to be sick.

Gabrielle kissed her again. “Chin up love, remember that I can make decrees… and I’m going to decree that you and I have already completed our mission in life and we don’t need to attend any more school. We had already chosen our vocations many lifetimes ago and we are now officially retired… or we will be once we graduate.”

This time Xena kissed Gabrielle. “Even Cadence can’t argue with that logic. She couldn’t argue even if she wanted to at this point but it’s nice of you to give her an out so to speak.” They turned to resume their walk to the shuttles. “So now the big question is what do we do after graduation… really.”

Gabrielle laid her head against Xena’s shoulder. “I don’t care as long as I’m with you… I’ve earned that much.”

Xena kissed Gabrielle’s head and thought, ‘She has earned that much and more.’ She had been mulling some things about for many years and finally those things looked like they could actually happen. But now was not the time to be mentioning any of them.
*****

They travelled to Amphipolis and took a room at a motel that catered to Martian guests. The Motel had an entire tower that was for Martians. Every room had an anti gravity field so that the Martians could be more comfortable. It was one thing to fight the gravity that was almost three times that of Mars when you were awake, it was a whole other matter to try and sleep while fighting it. Gabrielle made a note to herself to prod whomever she needed to prod to get these units modified so that they could be worn.

Gabrielle was lounging in a hot tub when Aphrodite popped in. After her initial surprise Gabrielle jumped out of the water and barely got a towel wrapped around her before she was hugging her old friend. Xena was more reserved but she was happy to see the Goddess as well.

“Wow! I couldn’t believe it when I heard that you were in town. It is really you isn’t it?” Aphrodite put a finger to her mouth and stepped back and looked at Xena and Gabrielle up and down.

“It’s really us Aphrodite.” Xena said in an exasperated tone.

Gabrielle gave Xena a look and Xena shook her head and sat on the bed. “It really is us Aphrodite.” She said gently.

“So like what happened this time? I know Are didn’t put you in the deep freeze again so what gives?” She plopped down on the bed and leaned on the headboard and patted the spot beside her inviting Gabrielle to join her. Xena relocated to one of the chairs in the room.

Gabrielle put on a bath robe and put her hair up in the towel. Then she sat down next to Aphrodite. “Well… we’ve kind of been doing a job for the God of Eli.” She said hesitantly.

For a moment Aphrodite just stared at her. But soon a light seemed to go on for her and she squealed. “Oh you mean Jehovah! Yeah He’s cool but He likes to keep you busy.”

“You know Him?” They were both a little surprised.

“Well duh, how do you think I got to keep my powers and Are didn’t? I got a gig working for the new God on the block.” She said in her patented matter of fact airhead tone.

“I take it Ares didn’t take the job that he was offered.” Xena said dryly.

“Naw he said it was demeaning. But if you ask me a God without his powers is more demeaning. I mean what’s the big deal; we worked for Zeus didn’t we? Zeus was family and all but he ordered us around like we were red headed step children. This God at least offers us benefits and a retirement plan.” A nail file appeared in her hand and she started to file Gabrielle’s fingernails.

“So you got a job with Jehovah… doing what?” Gabrielle was curious now.

“Please girl friend, what else? I’m doing what I do best… spreading the love.” She exclaimed and then blew the dust from one of Gabrielle’s fingertips.

“He has you doing what you always have done?” Xena was leaning forward on the chair.

Aphrodite stopped filing and put her finger to her chin in thought. “Well… it’s not exactly the same gig. I’m not allowed to just zap love on someone but I get to kind of orchestrate meetings and situations that could or should blossom into love or help love along… that kind of stuff. Cupie and the family got a job doing that stuff too.” She started filing the nails again.

“That’s a good job Aphrodite. Does He let you travel?” Gabrielle asked and switched hands with her.

“Oh sure… we can go anywhere the human race is living. But I’m kind of partial to Earth, it’s kind of home… you know? Mount Olympus is pretty empty but it’s here.” She looked thoughtful for a minute and then pronounced Gabrielle’s nails as being filed correctly. The file disappeared and a bottle of nail polish appeared. Gabrielle looked at the polish and shook her head. Another color appeared and Gabrielle examined that one and rejected it. Aphrodite glowered and a tray of various colors appeared and Gabrielle silently picked the one that she wanted. It was a peach colored polish. Aphrodite began applying the polish.

“But you still have your godly powers. Couldn’t you zap yourself to Mount Olympus from anywhere?” Gabrielle asked while admiring the color on her first finger.

Again Aphrodite had to think about her answer. “I don’t know. I’ve never tried it. Why are you asking so many strange questions Gab? I haven’t seen you in like forever and you’re like grilling me… what gives?”

Gabrielle smiled apologetically. “I’m sorry Aphrodite. Xena and I have been bouncing through time and space for so long that I seem to have forgotten my manners.” Aphrodite looked at her as if she had just opened a bag of worms and she needed to know why. Gabrielle could understand the feeling. “We’ve stopped now. We completed the mission that Jehovah set for us and now we get to live our lives like normal.”

“Oh you work for Him too?” She was excited… really excited. She had completely forgotten that Gabrielle had already told her as much.

“Yes we do. But we finished our job and now we get some… free time… and I’ve missed you. So I was wondering if since you can go from one planet to another much quicker than we can if you wouldn’t mind coming for a visit once in a while.” That was a lot of information to throw at the usually air headed Goddess at once and Gabrielle hoped that she understood.

“Go from one planet to another… Gabrielle what are you talking about?” Gabrielle’s explanation could have used a bit more explanation.

“We live on Mars. We came here to kill Alti and now that she is gone for good we get to keep the rest of this life to live as we want. Soon we have to go home to Mars and I want to know if you would come to our high school graduation and the party afterwards.” She had just thought of it. This would give Aphrodite a set time to visit. It might help her get over her fear of leaving Earth. Gabrielle was sure that this was the problem.

“Mars… wow… how did that happen? Oh, I’m just bursting with questions!” She had finished the fingernails and was happily blowing on them and waiting for the rest of the story. Gabrielle started at the beginning… three thousand years ago and brought Aphrodite up to date.

Aphrodite oohed and ahhed as only she could throughout the entire recitation. Gabrielle left out some of the less important details and managed to bring Aphrodite up to date in record time. Once she was done Aphrodite happily accepted her invitation to their graduation and invited some other Goddesses as well. Apparently Aphrodite was a member of a very exclusive group of love Goddesses that had gone to work for Jehovah. Some of them Gabrielle and/or Xena had met but others they would be meeting for the first time at their graduation.

The three of them spent the rest of the day together and enjoyed themselves immensely. Aphrodite took them shopping in one of the few markets on the planet that still allowed bartering and bickering over price. They left Xena at a café and shopped until Gabrielle was satisfied that she had wrangled a good deal from at least three merchants and then they joined Xena for lunch.  

After lunch Xena was more amiable towards more shopping and actually purchased a few things of her own when Gabrielle wasn’t looking. She didn’t want her beloved to see what she had purchased or get any ideas that she actually liked shopping.

When their shopping was done they went to a theater production halfway around the world. It was a musical called Grease. The screenplay was ancient but it was very amusing and entertaining. Although it was ancient it apparently was still quite popular as it had been sold out. How Aphrodite had managed to get them seats was beyond them and they really didn’t care to ask.

They had dinner at a local diner and then Aphrodite took them back across the ocean to Amphipolis. They said their farewells with lots of cheek kissing and hugs and then she was gone.

Xena and Gabrielle were both exhausted. The heavy gravity of Earth had weighed on them all day. It was one thing to practice for hours wearing weighted belts and ankle weights but to spend an entire day experiencing the gravity in every muscle and tendon on your body was an entirely different experience.

Both women removed their clothing and slid into bed and were asleep within minutes.  

The next day they traveled north to visit with Odin and Grinhelda in Valhalla. They were met with open arms by the pair and within moments Odin had called the remaining Norse Gods to dine and visit with the Thracian heroes.

Gabrielle gladly did the Bard thing and told them all of the adventures that she and Xena had experienced since she had seen them last. They asked questions about Aella and the Amazon Nation and she in turn asked questions about how they were getting on with Jehovah. Some of them like Thor, Freyr, Freya and Frigg all had found jobs with the new God but Odin and his Valkyries had been given no offer of a job, but neither had they been stripped of their powers or their immortality. The immortality of the Valkyries was linked to Odin. They continued as long as he did, but they now had nothing to do. That is partially why three of them had gone to Mars. It gave them someplace new to explore and that was better than nothing.

Gabrielle had talked it over with Xena the day before and they had agreed that they both owed the old God and the Valkyries a debt that could never truly be paid but they intended to give it a try. They offered to take Odin and the maidens back to Mars with them. Odin did not decline the offer but he said that he would discuss it later with the maidens. The move would most likely deprive them of their powers and most probably of their immortality. They weren’t sure and were presently unable to contact Michael or Ephiny to ask. So they assumed the worst and hoped for better. It sounded strange to think that having their powers and their immortality taken away could be a reward but presently they had nothing to do with their immortality or their abilities. They needed a purpose and that is what Xena offered them. She wanted them to work for the Society. Their knowledge would be of great worth to the historians at the Society.

They stayed for most of the day with the Gods but when the literal weight of the world became too much for them they traveled back to Amphipolis. They slept like rocks again that night and in the morning they departed Earth for home. A few days later Odin would contact them and they would send a shuttle for him and the remaining Valkyrie and their horses.