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A Solstice Celebration

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This story is No. 6 in the series "Buffy and Xena Crossovers". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: #6. A follow up story to "Gabrielle's Surprise Birthday Party." Gabrielle invites Buffy and friends to the Winter Solstice Festival in Poteidaia.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Television > Xena-HerculesdaviderlFR1328,383001,7774 Jan 034 Jan 03Yes

A Solstice Celebration

{I do not own the rights to any of the characters in this story. No copyright infringement is intended. This story is for entertainment purposes only.}

A Solstice Celebration

Chapter One

It was a little after dawn. Xena and Gabrielle had finished eating breakfast -- warmed over, smoked venison. Xena was adding logs to the fire.

"A little chilly this morning." She commented.

"A little." Gabrielle agreed. "But over all, I think it's been a pretty mild winter so far."

"I think you're right. Fine with me, though."

Gabrielle smiled at her, then went back to studying the charm she was holding.

"Still trying to read that thing?" Xena asked. "I thought you'd given that up a long time ago."

"I have, but sometimes I still like to try. It's so strange, when we were in Sunnydale I could read their writing with no problem. But when I look at this, nothing makes sense. Some of the letters are vaguely familiar, but . . . ."

"Don't forget, Gabrielle, you're trying to read a language that won't be spoken for another, what? Thousand? Two thousand years from now?"

"I know. I just wish I had taken the time to look at it more closely after Willow gave it to me. Maybe I could have remembered what it said. But what I don't understand is why she hasn't contacted us. It's been at least three months."

"Well, Gabrielle, you know how it is -- people just get on with their lives. Maybe she hasn't realized how long it's been. Or maybe something happened to her."

"Xena! Don't even think that! Nothing's happened to her! Okay?"

"Of course, you're right. I'm sure she's fine, just has other things on her mind. Don't forget, she and Tara were having problems. That's probably it."

"Probably." Gabrielle agreed, but still wondering why she hadn't heard from her.

As they broke camp, it was obvious to Xena that it was bothering Gabrielle more than she was letting on. Xena hated to see her best friend like this. Then and idea came to her.

"I have it!" Xena exclaimed.

"What? You have what?"

"I know how to get Willow to contact us!"

"How?" Gabrielle asked, very much interested.

"We'll ask Aphrodite to get a message to her."

"How's she going to do that?"

"The same way she knew to show up for your surprise birthday party."

"She could, couldn't she?" Gabrielle said, now understanding what Xena was getting at. "Yeah, that would work!"

"Aphrodite! Aphrodite!" Gabrielle yelled out.

There was a flash of light and the Goddess of Love appeared in front of them.

"Hi ya Gabby." She said, hugging her.

"Hi, Xena." She said with a wink. "So what's the big emergency?"

"Aphrodite, I need you to do something for me." Gabrielle said.

"Sure, Honey, just name it."

"I need you to get a message to someone for me, a witch named Willow. She lives in Sunnydale -- you know, where my birthday party is going to be."

Aphrodite looked disappointed. "Aw, Gabrielle, it was supposed to be a SURPRISE."

"It was, believe me! We've already gone there and come back."

"Oh. Okay." Aphrodite said, happy again. "So how was it?"

"It was great! I was TOTALLY surprised! And when you showed up, you were the HIT of the party."

"Well, naturally!" She said even happier. "So who's Willow? Was she at the party?"

"She was. You know, this is really weird -- talking about something that won't happen for two thousand years like it was just a few months ago."

"Tell me about it. " Xena said.

"That's what happened when you start messing around with time." Aphrodite said. "So what's the message?"

"Well, she gave me this charm so I could get in touch with her whenever I want to, but I can't read it. It's written in their language, English, but since no one will speak it for many, MANY years from now ... you see what I'm getting at?"

"Let me look at it, maybe I can read it."

Gabrielle handed the charm to Aphrodite, who turned it over in her hands. "Well, there is magic in it, I can feel that."

She then looked closely at the writing, studying it, her brow furrowed.

"This is ALMOST familiar. I can almost make it out ... but ... I can't."

"I know," Gabrielle said. "It's frustrating isn't it?"

"Sorry, Gabby, but I can't read it. Maybe Zeus could have, but since he's ... well, you know. So you want me to tell this Willow to write it in Greek? Or I could tell you to memorize it before you come back!"

"I don't know, that sounds like messing around with time again. Wouldn't that change the past few months?"

"Well sure it would, but you wouldn't know the difference." Aphrodite agreed.

"Maybe. But let's not fool around with it. What I'd like you to do is wait three months after the party, then find Willow and tell her about the words on the charm, and ask her to get in touch me."

"It is anything important? Like an emergency or something?"

"Oh, no. Nothing like that, it's just that we've always gone to Sunnydale. But since it's been such a mild winter, I was just thinking about inviting them to Poteidaia's Winter Solstice Festival."

"Gabrielle!" Xena cut in. "What a great idea! I wish I had thought of it."

Gabrielle smiled. "I thought so, too. How about it, 'Dite? Want to join us?"

"Sure I do! Even it they can't come, you can count me in."

"Okay, then." Gabrielle said. "Just wait three months after the party, then tell Willow we're waiting to hear from her. You almost forget to go, you know -- since it is, was, so long from now until then."

"Don't worry, being at your party will remind me. See you both later." And she flashed out.

As soon as Xena and Gabrielle turned around, Willow was standing before them.

"Hi, guys! Aphrodite told me about the problem with the writing on the charm. I NEVER even thought about the difference in languages and time. I am so SORRY."

"That's okay," Gabrielle said. "No one's perfect, not even the gods."

"So what was she saying about a celebration?"

"I ... we, were just thinking that since we've been to Sunnydale a few times, maybe it was time for all of you to come visit us. Poteidaia, my home town, is having a Winter Solstice Celebration, and we were wondering if you think you and the rest would like to go."

"Yeah! That sounds really great! So when is it, again?"

"It's the first day of winter -- the winter solstice. I think it started a long time ago when people were afraid that the days would just keep getting shorter and shorter until it would only be night. And when the days started getting longer again, it was a time to celebrate."

"Oh, yeah, I remember. It's usually around the 22nd of December."

"The 22nd of what?" Xena asked.

"December. We name our months, and the twelfth month is December."

"That makes sense, easy to keep track of." Gabrielle said. "So how about it? Think anyone would like to go?"

"I'm sure they all would. It's during Christmas vacation, so everyone has plenty of free time. Of course, me being Jewish, I celebrate Hanukah, but still, it's a good time to go."

"What's Christmas? And Hanukah?" Xena asked.

"They're religious holidays. Everyone buys gifts for their friends and families, then they wrap them up in pretty paper and bows, and give them to 'em."

"Like you did for my birthday!" Gabrielle said.

"Exactly! Okay, then, let me go back and tell everyone not to make plans, and I'll be in touch in a day or so."

"We'll be waiting." Gabrielle said as Willow disappeared.

A day and a half later as they were riding on their way to Poteidaia, Buffy appeared.

"Buffy! Good to see you again." Xena said, as she and Gabrielle dismounted. "We expected to see Willow."

"Yeah, it IS good to see you." Gabrielle echoed.

"Thanks. It's nice to see you two, also. But the reason I'm here instead of Willow is because things, somehow, have gotten complicated."

"How so?" Xena asked. "No one wants to come?"

"No! No, that's not it at all. Everybody likes the idea, but for some reason, things have gotten, well, like I said -- complicated."

"Like what?" Gabrielle wanted to know.

"Well, first of all, since our clothes can't come with us and we'll arrive naked, Anya is concerned that with all of us girls around, one of us might see Xander naked."

Gabrielle and Xena both laughed.

"I know!" Buffy said. "It sounds dumb, but that's how she feels."

"So let her come first, we'll give her a blanket, we'll turn around, and then Xander can come. What's the problem?" Xena asked.

Buffy shrugged her shoulders. "That's what I suggested, but she's convinced Xander is so hot ...."

"Well, if she feels that way, maybe they shouldn't come. We want to have a good time, not worry about saying the wrong thing or looking the wrong way at Xander." Gabrielle said.

"I'll talk to her again. She just doesn't know you two that well. I thinks she's just a lot insecure when it comes to Xander. But the real problem is with Willow and Tara."

"They didn't make up?"

"No. In fact, Tara moved out. And when I suggested we ask Tara to come, Willow acted like she might not come if Tara does. Which means no one can come since it's Willow's spell."

Gabrielle shook her head. "You mean they can't get along even for a couple of days?"

"They probably could, but neither would be really comfortable. And I'd hate it if they started arguing and spoiled it for everyone else."

"Have you asked Tara yet?" Xena asked.

"No, not yet."

"Then don't. Problem solved."

"Well, not really. It's the holidays, and no one wants to be alone at Christmas time. Tara's family is out of the picture big time, and we're the only thing like family she has in Sunnydale. I can't leave her by herself."

"Anything else?" Gabrielle asked, trying to keep the irritation out of her voice.

"Sounds like enough." Xena said. "Now, if I've got this right, Tara is mad at Willow for using magic."

"Right." Buffy agreed.

"But I thought that's what witches did."

"They do, but Tara seems to think Willow isn't serious about her spells; that she ... plays with them too much, and goes in for the dark magicks too much."

"I don't understand." Gabrielle said. "Why would she think that? Doesn't she do spells?"

Buffy thought for a moment. "Okay, this is what I think is going on -- Tara, and her mother, and I think her grandmother, all were witches, but men in their family always told them that they were evil, that they were, like, demons. And even though we have convinced Tara it isn't so, I believe that deep down she still feels that maybe there IS some evil in there. Willow, on the other hand, only developed her powers in the past few years. Maybe they were dormant, kind of like my Slayer strength. Anyway, she has gotten really powerful really quick, maybe too quick. And I think it scares Tara that Willow is so carefree with them. And to tell you the truth, I think Tara has a point. I don't think Willow realizes how easy it is to cross over into the dark side of magic. But Tara does. And that's what their problem."

"So," Gabrielle said. "That means that no one is coming?"

"If Xander and Anya aren't coming, and if Tara won't come, that still leaves you and Dawn and Willow and Giles." Xena said.

"Giles can't come, either. He went back to England. Said I didn't need him anymore."

"Maybe we should just forget the whole thing." Gabrielle said, this time not hiding her anger. "It was just a bad idea. I'm sorry I even brought it up."

"No! Don't say that! It's a GOOD idea." Buffy told her. "It sounds like a lot of fun. Don't worry. Everyone is going to come, and we're all going to have a good time. You'll see!"

"Sure, Gabrielle. Once we all get to Poteidaia everybody will forget all about their squabbles." Xena added.

Letting herself be consoled, Gabrielle smiled and said, "Yeah, you're right. I'm sorry I got angry. We should be in Poteidaia in ... nineteen, twenty days?" She asked, looking at Xena.

"Yeah, about that. Then the festival begins a day later. Gabrielle's sister and niece live on a small farm not too far from town...."

"That's where I grew up." Gabrielle interjected.

"So look in on us in nineteen or twenty days and if we're there, all of you can join us and we'll all go into Poteidaia the next morning."

"Sounds like a plan to me," Buffy clich├ęd. "See you then." And she disappeared.

"Okay, everybody, here's what we're going to do." Buffy said. "We are ALL going to go to this Solstice Festival at Pohdadeeah. And we are ALL going to have a good time. And we are ALL going to get along. Anya -- I don't want to hear any crap about somebody trying to see Xander naked. Nobody wants to except you. Willow -- Tara is going to go with us because I don't want her to be alone at Christmas. And Tara -- I know you don't like Willow using her magic, but if we're going to go, which we ARE, then she will have to do the spell. No, Dawn, you cannot stay here by yourself. Now, any questions?"

Anya slowly put up one hand, which Buffy ignored.

"Good! Willow, I need to let Xena and Gabrielle know we are coming, and we need to find out the best time for us to go there."

"Where is it we are going, again?" Xander asked.

"First, we are going to go to Gabrielle's sister's farm. Then the next day we are going into Pohdadeeah, which is the town or village or whatever it is where the festival is being held."

"How long will we be there?" Dawn asked.

"I'm not sure. It depends on what happens. We may only go the one day and come back. Or we might decide to stay until Christmas Eve. But however long we stay, none of you, and I repeat, NONE of you will make Gabrielle sorry she asked us to come. It is something she wants to do as a way of thanking us for throwing her the birthday party."

"So we still have almost three weeks?" Xander asked.

"Close to it. Xena wants us to check on them about the 20th. She thinks they should be there by then. So you all have plenty of time not to make any plans. And all your Christmas, and Hanukah, shopping should be done by then."

Xander raised his hand, "I usually do my shopping on Christmas Eve."

"Well, this year you'll just have to make new plans. I'm sure Anya won't mind helping you out."

"Not at all." Anya said. "I'm quite certain you'd all rather get gifts not from the Jiffie Kwikie Mart." Then a thought hit her. "But what about the Magic Box? I will be losing out on the last minute shoppers if I'm not here."

"Then you'll just have to make it up on the after Christmas sales." Buffy told her.

Anya crossed her arms angrily with a dark frown on her face. "That's not fair." She mumbled.

"Tomorrow's the solstice, Buffy, should I look in on Xena and Gabrielle?"

"Not a bad idea, they should be at the farm by now. Why don't you take a look and I'll call everyone."

"They might still be sleeping, it's pretty early, you know."

"Then I'll wake them up, won't I? You do the spell and I'll make the calls. DAWN! DAWNY! Time to get up! Come on!"

"Okay, here's the plan. . . ." Buffy started to say.

"It's not MY plan." Anya grumbled. "I want to stay and make more money."

"The PLAN is that, Anya, you will go first. They will have clothes waiting for you. Then Willow will send Xander and you will be ready with a blanket to wrap around him and then he can get dressed in another room. Then the rest of us will come all at once. Now, you all know what kind of clothes we'll be wearing. They may be itchy and might not fit right, but they will be clean. But it's the best Lila can do since they're her and Sarah's clothes. So try not to get them too dirty or. . . ."

"You mean we're all going to be naked at once?" Dawn asked.

"We're all girls here, Dawn. Xander will be the only guy there, and Anya will be with him in another room. It's no different than the girls' locker room at school, except for the showers ... and the bad smell ... and the lockers. So, Anya, if you'll step into the magic thingy-gram. . . ."

"Decagon. It's called a decagon. See? It has ten points." Anya said grouchily.

"Yes, you can count. Willow, will you do the spell and send Miss Congeniality merrily on her way?"

After everyone had been transported back to Lila's farm house, and were dressed, they all sat down to supper -- rabbit stew. Even though it tasted different, and could have used a little spicing up, everyone complimented Lila, even Anya, who was beginning to cheer up.

After the meal, everyone sat around while the four Grecian women talked about the upcoming festival. After a while, Gabrielle noticed that there still was tension between Willow and Tara. And while it didn't really affect the rest of them, she still wanted everyone to enjoy themselves. She excused herself and walked outside.


The Goddess of Love appeared in bright pink flash. "Hi, Gabby. What are we doing outside? Did everyone make it?"

"Hi, yourself. Yes, everyone's here. The reason we're outside is that I need you to do a little magic on Tara and Willow. They're still not getting along and I was hoping you would help them out."

"That's my job! Come on, let's join the party."

As they walked inside, everyone was surprised and happy to see the Love Goddess. After a while, Aphrodite took Tara and Willow aside.

"You know, you two really shouldn't be acting like this. You both love each other. I think you two should just kiss and make up."

Willow and Tara looked at the other, waiting for the other to make the first move. When neither did, Aphrodite put her hands behind their backs and pushed them together. As their lips touched, she added a small spark, which was all it took. For the rest of the evening, they were never apart, and never stopped touching or holding each other.

"Well, I've got a few other stops to make," Aphrodite told everyone. "Still have a few lovers to inspire, but I'll see you all tomorrow in Poteidaia." And flashed out.

Soon afterward, Lila suggested they turn in for the night. They would be up at day break and it would be a long day.

Lila, Gabrielle and Sarah took Lila's bed. Anya and Xander were given Sarah's bed. Xena made a pallet on the floor in front of the fireplace. Willow and Tara volunteered to sleep in the bedroom that once belonged to Lila and Gabrielle's parents. The bed was large enough that Buffy and Dawn were invited to share it. After Buffy had their word that there would be no fooling around, she agreed.

As they slowly settled in, the house became quiet as they all began falling asleep. Except for Buffy, Dawn, Tara and Willow. They realized there was a place in the thatched roof that was in need of repair. Not only could they see stars shining through, but the cold night wind was chilling them despite the blankets and furs that covered them.

"If you'll help me, we can fix that." Willow whispered to Tara, her mouth scant inches away.

"Okay." She whispered back, fighting the urge to kiss Willow gently on her slightly pouting lips.

Willow's right hand and Tara's left hand came out from underneath the covers and clasped together, their index fingers pointing at the ceiling. They slowly moved their hands in small circles, whispering the spell together.

As Buffy and Dawn watched, the thatching began to move, and to divide, making a muted swishing sound, until the hole in the roof was repaired, and better than when it was new.

"Thanks." Buffy whispered. "Now you two go to sleep, and remember -- no nothing!"

The two witches smiled at each other, silently stole a soft kiss, then snuggled a little closer.

Soon the entire household was asleep.

The next morning, Xena was the first one awake, followed by Gabrielle, Lila and Sarah. As soon as breakfast was ready, they began to rouse the others. Xander, who was used to getting up for his construction job, was relatively easy. The others preferred to stay under the warm blankets.

Eventually, everyone was up and crowded around the fireplace. After they had eaten, Gabrielle and Lila harnessed the horse to the wagon while everyone got dressed.

"What a beautiful day for a festival!" Gabrielle said after they were well on their way, trying to work up some enthusiasm in the others.

"I thought you said it was going to be warm." Dawn complained. "Look! There's frost everywhere!"

"You don't see any snow, do you?" Lila answered. "It's really been a warm winter this year."

"It's not warm to ME!" Dawn countered.

"I know a warming spell, if Willow will help me." Tara offered.

"Please!" Dawn begged. "Do anything!"

Tara and Willow clasped each other's hands and with their foreheads together, which was really unnecessary for the spell to work, chanted the short spell that caused a bubble of warm air to surround the wagon.

"This is so great." Dawn said as she shed the rabbit fur coat she was wearing. "Do you think you could do the whole town like this?"

"We could, I think, but it would take a lot of magic, and a lot of concentration. . . ."

"I think you two have done enough for us." Buffy said.

"It'll get warmer as the sun get higher in the sky." Sarah said. "After a while you won't even notice it."

"I doubt that." Dawn complained.

"Dawn! I think we're heard enough from you this morning." Buffy chided her. "If you can't do anything but complain, then maybe you should take time to remember what I told you before we came here."

By the time they got to Poteidaia, the sun was high and it had warmed up a bit. The bubble of warm air had slowly dissipated so it wasn't a shock when the climbed out of the wagon. As she had promised, Aphrodite appeared just as they got there.

After the usual greetings, Dawn pulled her to one side.

"Since you are a real god, isn't there some way you can make it warmer? I'm from southern California and I REALLY hate this cold weather!"

"How about if I just make YOU warmer?"

"That'll work too! You don't play tricks, do you?"

Aphrodite laughed, "Only on those I don't like. But I like you, so...."

The Love Goddess twirled her finger in a circle and a barely visible shimmer surrounded Dawn, keeping her own body warmth in, and the cold air out.

"Thanks! You're the best!"

"Well, sure I am!" She laughed again. "Come on, let's join the others."

"What are we going to do about money?" Willow asked, almost whispering. "I'm sure there are things we'll want to buy."

"It won't do us any good." Buffy answered her. "We can't take anything back with us."

"What if we get hungry, or thirsty?" Tara said.

"I don't know, maybe we can borrow a little from Gabrielle or Xena." Was Buffy's only suggestion.

As the eleven of them entered the city gates, the difference was like night and day.

After leaving the horses and wagon at a very crowded stable, they headed down the central avenue, taking in all the sites, sounds and smells.

Everywhere they looked were jugglers and sword swallowers and fire eaters; and small groups of musicians with flutes and lyres and small drums; and vendors selling hot food and drinks and fruit and meats; and retailers selling bolts of cloth and robes and shoes and pots and pans and furs and weapons and small statues of the gods, and just about anything else any of them could think of.

There was an arena with nude wrestlers, which Buffy was quick to hustle Dawn away from. And a ring with boxers using chain mail and leather gloves. There were the promoters daring the men to test their skills against the proven champions.

"Why don't you get in with them. I know you could kick some booty." Dawn said to Buffy.

"We're here to have fun, not fight." Was Buffy's answer. "Besides, it really wouldn't be fair."

(end of chapter one)
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