Disclaimer: Not mine. Fun to play with. Will put them back when I'm done :) Enjoy!

Dandelion

Xena laid the string of fish down on a nearby rock and scanned the small clearing that she and Gabrielle had decided to spend the night. The camp had been set up a efficient manner, neat and organized as usual. The wood had been gathered, prepared for a fire. The frying pan, laying beside it, waited patiently for the fish that Xena had promised. Argo had been unsaddled, brushed, and was happily grazing nearby. Everything seemed to be perfect, save one fact, it was missing a certain blonde bard.

The warrior studied the ground, looking for clues. Noting there was no sign of a struggle, she used her tracking skills and a little bit of her imagination to follow the bard's movements around the camp. She knew from experience the order Gabrielle would set things up. First she would have unloaded Argo, relieving her of both supplies and her saddle. Next would be a fire ring, and the sleeping furs on the flattest ground available. The wood would be gathered, and the cooking supplies retrieved from the bag. The last thing she would do, if Xena hadn't returned, would be to brush down Argo and make sure the horse found a plentiful spot to graze.

Xena continued to follow Gabrielle's tracks until she found the spot where she had left camp. Rising an eyebrow in curiosity, she pursued the same path that the bard had taken. Pushing her way through the brush and under a low laying branch she quickly came upon another clearing. This one was slightly larger then the one they had set up camp at and in the middle was slightly raised hill. On top of the hill, laying peculiarly on her stomach, was the missing bard.

"Gabrielle?"

The bard turned at the sound of her name, smiled and motioned Xena to come closer.

"Gabrielle, what are you doing?" the warrior asked as she approached and put her hands on her hips.

"Look at this, Xena," Gabrielle responded not bothering to look up at the warrior.

Xena looked down at what the bard was so intently studying. She noticed a lone dandelion, which had recently gone to seed, crowned with its downy cotton tuff. "Gabrielle, it's just a dandelion."

"I know, isn't it pretty?"

The warrior sighed and sat down next to Gabrielle. "It's a weed, Gabrielle."

"Xena, don't be so cynical. It's so much more then a weed. You know my mom used to plant some of these in her garden? They are said to bring good luck."

"My mother used to have me dig them out of hers. You know if you don't get the whole root they will grow right back again?"

"They are edible you know. Mother used to boil the leaves, add a little olive oil, and lemon juice. Makes a nice salad. It has to be fresh though, this one is too old. It would be too bitter."

Xena made a face. "You ate weeds?

Gabrielle gave Xena a playful shove. "They are very useful. There was a old man in my village that used to swear by dandelion tea. He said it made him strong because it rid him of anger and fear. But then he had a rather bitter personality, so maybe that had something to do with it."

"Really, anger and fear? Come on, Gabrielle."

"You know as well as I do that this little flower has more medicinal uses then for tea."

"Un-huh... but I'm not in need of a laxative right now."

"Xena," Gabrielle warned. "Did you know that according to legend the goddess Hecate fed dandelions to Theseus? It is said to have given him the power to kill the Minotaur."

"Hmmm... I'll have to remember that next time we face a Minotaur."

Both the warrior and bard fell silent for a moment. Gabrielle rolled on her side, using her arm to prop up her head. With a finger she gently stroked the cottony tuff. "I remember one summer when I was about nine or ten. There was about a week where we had constant rain and thunderstorms. Lila and I were cooped up in the house and driving mother crazy. She showed us how the stems were hollow and then how to use them with some soap shavings to blow bubbles."

"When I was about ten we had one of my older cousins come stay with us for a while. I caught her more then once pulling the petals off of those things chanting 'he loves me, he loves me not' over and over again."

Gabrielle giggled, "I did that too."

Xena rolled her eyes, "You would."

"Oh come on Xena, a dandelion... it's a symbol of hope¸ of summer, and the golden days of childhood. You must have some good memories about them."

"Well, there is one, in my early days when I was just starting out with my army. When we were figuring things out I had to create a banner, you know, for people to recognize me by. Back then I was known as the Lion of Amphipolis, so one of my men suggested that I use the dandelion."

"That's actually not a bad idea, after all dandelion literally means lion's tooth."

"But it's also a flower. Really, Gabrielle, who is going to take a female warlord seriously with a flower on her banner?"

"Especially one that is known for the 'he loves me, he loves me not' chant," Gabrielle teased.

Xena scowled. "That's not funny. I had a reputation to uphold you know."

"Yeah, I know. So what did you do to him?"

"Who?"

Gabrielle rolled her eyes. "The solider who recommended the dandelion."

"Oh him," Xena shrugged. " He left shortly after. Got a position in the Athens's boys' choir. Last I heard he's still there. Not too many men his age can sing soprano like that."

Gabrielle jaw dropped open. "Xena, you didn't!"

"What? I had a reputation to uphold. Couldn't let him stay around after a stupid suggestion like."

Gabrielle shook her head, not sure if Xena was teasing her or not. She sat up¸ crossing her legs in a more comfortable position. The bard gently plucked the dandelion bringing it between herself and Xena. "Out of all the traditions surrounding dandelions there is one that is my favorite."

"Oh, and which one is that?"

"They say that if you make a wish and then blow on it, if all the seeds come off, then your wish will come true."

"Why don't you hurry up and make a wish then, before some critter takes off with all the fish that I caught."

"No Xena, I want you to do it."

"Me? What do I have to wish for? I have everything I need."

"Oh, come on Xena. Live a little. Take a moment. Have a little fun. Wish for something special, something deep down that you really want."

"Gabrielle, this is silly."

The bard merely held the flower out to her, gently encouraging Xena with big grass-colored eyes that still reflected the innocence of youth. "Do it for me, please?"

Xena sighed. "Alright, if it will make you happy."

Gabrielle smiled and handed the cottony tuff over. "Remember you have to blow all the seeds off or your wish won't come true."

"Alright, alright. I got it." Xena closed her eyes for a moment, and though she felt silly, reached down deep within herself and made a wish. She then blew out, opening her eyes at the last second and smiled as the white tuffs danced away on the breeze.

"You did it," Gabrielle exclaimed. "What did you wish for? No wait... don't tell me, or else it won't come true." The bard then reached over and planted a gentle kiss on the warrior's cheek.

"Hey, what was that for?"

"For playing with me," Gabrielle smiled. "Now didn't you say something about a fish waiting for us back at camp? I'm starved."

"Yeah." Xena stood and offered a hand to Gabrielle.

As they both started back toward camp, Xena reached up and, being careful that the bard didn't see her, bushed her hand across the cheek that had been kissed. Maybe it wasn't such a silly wish after all, she thought to herself.

A/N: You all didn't know that dandelions were so useful, now did you? ;)