Disclaimer: Of course Xena and Gabrielle aren't my original characters. I am just borrowing them for a bit to have a little fun. I promise I'll put them back when I'm done ;).
Author's Note: If you enjoyed this story, please check out my others. I have many short stories as well as my epic Blue Eyes, White Horse, and a Chakram, on Fan Fiction. I also have a number of Uber stories that have been published on Amazon and other sites. These include The Mockingbird Chronicles – Part I & II (The Art of Discipline: Dani's Discovery and The Art of Discpline: Running Toward Trouble.) co-written by Kikilka14, and my stand alones Standing Firm and Standing Strong. On Amazon my pen name is Stardawn Cabot.
Little Bard: Chapter 1
"Why so down, sweet cheeks?" Aphrodite exclaimed as she appeared in a burst of pink hearts and rose petals.
Gabrielle groaned and covered her face with her hands. "Now's not a good time, Aphrodite."
"Oh please, I'm feeling major bummer vibes from my best bard and her warrior babe. What happened, you two have a fight?"
"Something like that," Gabrielle groaned again, shaking her head.
Aphrodite joined Gabrielle on the fallen log that she was sitting on. "Come on, I hate to see you down. Maybe talking it out will help."
Gabrielle looked up, meeting Love's eyes. "Three years. You think by now she'd stop treating me like I was five years old. Can you believe it, she actually sent me on a side mission just to keep me away from the action."
"I'm sure she just wanted to make sure you were safe…"
"That's just it," Gabrielle interrupted. "I can take care of myself. I don't need to be coddled or protected. You know I spent the last three days sitting in a tavern waiting for her to show up while she went after the Warlord Garius?"
"Garius? Ew… like totally gross! That guy is major trouble, smelly too."
"Was major trouble," Gabrielle responded, rolling her eyes. "I just don't understand why Xena keeps treating me like a kid. For once I wish that Xena could just appreciate me for me, and realize that I've grown up."
"Hmmmm… Maybe I can help."
"Oh no," Gabrielle quickly shook her head. "Please don't. Let me handle this."
"Of course, you're the perfect one to handle this. Don't worry about a thing, Gabrielle," Aphrodite explained as she reached over and kissed the bard's forehead.
Gabrielle was caught off guard by the sudden gesture, but before she could react, she felt her vision blur and her eye lids become very heavy. She tried to fight it, tried to argue, but her tongue wouldn't obey. No longer able to keep her eyes open, she was forced to surrender to the call of Morpheus, and slipped into a deep sleep.
Aphrodite smiled as she helped the bard gently to the ground. "You want Xena to appreciate you and see you for the grown woman that you are? Well little bard, you are about to get your wish."
Xena had been searching for the last half hour. It was getting dark and she was concerned that Gabrielle hadn't returned to camp. She realized that Gabrielle had been upset with her, but she saw no reason to apologize for her actions. Garius was just too dangerous. If he would have gotten close to Gabrielle, she knew he would have killed her. He was the type to kill first and ask questions later. If he had any inkling that Gabrielle meant anything to her, it would have only made the bard a target.
Xena continued to follow Gabrielle's trail until it ended at a small brook. There she saw a fallen tree, with Gabrielle's staff propped up against it. She could also see the top of her bag on the other side of the log.
"Gabrielle?" the warrior called out, before stopping abruptly and seeing a small form on the ground. She suddenly got a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach, for where she expected to find Gabrielle; there was a young child instead. Moving closer to the small figure, Xena squatted down and studied her. She figured the child was about five or six, but the most intriguing part was that the child looked very much like Gabrielle, including identical mini-copies of her green top and brown skirt. It was as if Gabrielle had shrunk – clothes and all. "No, this can't be…" Xena started before she was suddenly cut off by bright green eyes.
A high pitched scream cut through woods, causing birds to take flight, and Xena to suddenly loose her balance and fall backwards onto her backside. The child suddenly scooted back, until she hit the log and then screamed a second time.
"Hey, it's ok. I'm not going to hurt you," Xena said softly as she regained her balance and knelt down in front on the child. The child stared wide eyed at her and Xena got the feeling that the little girl might try to run. Taking a chance Xena tried again, "Gabrielle? Do you know who I am?"
The little girl blinked. "How… how do you know my name?"
"I'm your friend. I know a lot about you."
"Do you know where my mommy and daddy are?"
Xena nodded. "Sure, they are safe and at home in Potidaea."
"Will you take me to them?"
"Just calm down, now. You don't need to worry. I'll take care of you." Gabrielle's lip started to tremble and Xena could tell that she was about to cry. "Hey now, it's ok. Potidaea is a long way away. If you want me too, I'll take you home."
"Sure I do," Xena nodded, immediately regretting the promise. If this really was her Gabrielle, the last place she'd want to take her was back to her parents. She watched the little girl for a moment, reassured as Gabrielle's position shifted and Xena realized that she was no longer a flight risk. She then frowned responding to the one that she saw on Gabrielle's face. "What's the matter, why the frown?"
"You said you are my friend, but I don't remember you. What's your name?"
Xena sighed, this was worse than she thought. "Xena, my name is Xena."
"Xena…" Gabrielle slowly repeated. "I'm hungry."
Xena watched the little girl sleep as she ran her whet stone along her sword in smooth even strokes. She wasn't sure what to make of the day's events. Gabrielle had undergone a mysterious transformation, but she had no idea how or why. After everything she'd seen and been through, she didn't think anything could surprise her anymore, but this certainly had. She smelt the interference of a god, but she didn't know which one, and really had no idea where to start looking.
Gabrielle had fallen asleep shortly after dinner. They had talked a bit, but the little bard seemed to know less about what happened then Xena did. There was a part of Xena that was telling her that this might be some sort of tick or trap, but she had to admit, besides the lack of memories and a shorter than usual stature, the little girl was an incredibly convincing Gabrielle. Even at a younger age, her behavioral patterns, mannerisms, and even the cute little gestures, like when she wrinkled her nose when she was concentrating, was all perfect.
Gabrielle suddenly shifted in her sleep and whimpered. Xena's arm froze in mid-stroke, her full attention on the little bard. When Gabrielle cried out, Xena put her sword down and went over to her side. She sat down next to her and gently stroked Gabrielle's hair. With her touch Gabrielle seemed to settle down, whatever nightmare had been plaguing her forgotten.
Gabrielle shifted again, rolling over and throwing her arm over Xena's leg. She grabbed ahold and hugged it like close to her like a cherished stuffed animal. Xena tensed, not sure what to do. She sat for a moment before she tried to wiggle out of the grasp, but stopped when she was met with green eyes and a frown.
"Hey, it's ok," Xena whispered. "You were just having a nightmare."
Gabrielle half sat up, letting go of the warrior's leg. "Sorry," she mumbled.
"Don't worry about it. Go back to sleep."
Gabrielle lay back down. Xena waited for several minutes, letting the child get settled and again grow quiet, before she got up and went back over to where she had left her sword.
"I thought you were asleep," Xena answered, looking back over her shoulder.
Xena picked up her sword and returned to the little bard's side. "How about I lie down next to you? I'm getting tired anyways."
Gabrielle nodded, scooting over to allow the warrior enough room to join her under the blanket. Xena didn't say anything as she settled in, laying on her back. Gabrielle was facing her on her side, eyes now wide open and studying the warrior.
Xena glanced down, seeing hesitation in the girl's eyes. "C'mere," she invited, motioning Gabrielle closer. Gabrielle flashed a grin before she scooted up, settling her head on the leather clad chest, and wrapping her arm around Xena's waist. Resting her own arm securely around the child, Xena bent her head and kissed the girl gently on the forehead. "Night, Gabrielle."
Gabrielle felt a sudden sense of familiarity as the warrior's lips met her forehead. She didn't quite understand it, but it was warm and comforting. Feeling both secure and safe, she let out a satisfied sigh before responding, "Night, Xena," and closing her eyes.