By KamouraskanSee part one for disclaimers, or if you want to have a clue what is going on.
Spoilers for mid season five
Warning: In jokes, theft from every possible comedic source I could recall, all on the basis that Mel Brookes was right when he said "if you throw enough stuff at the audience, some of it will stick." I received advice from many. Thank you MK, Ann Dancer, and the encouragement of Lawlsfan, LJ Maas, Temora, and many other Ex-Guards.
Mail is always received and answered at Kamouraskan@yahoo.com
Where were we? So very long ago. Oh yes...
It was still a nice day. Really.
Now in that time, in that region, there were shepherds...ahh, but thats another story. There were also three very specific individuals who were quite interested to discover that a certain blonde was presently near Potadaia. Each of these had arranged to be enlightened should the former bard ever pass through.
Now our first nefarious character was a dark and mysterious enchanter... and well call him....ahhhh...Tim. For completely random reasons, well call him Tim. ( Okay, so its John Cleese with an ourrrrrageous Scottish accent, dressed as Fu Manchu.) His interest in Gabrielle dated back to a story she had once told about being attacked by a vicious rabbit. His interest in the rabbit dated forward to the vastly technologically superior 5th century where he had originally come from. Quite correctly, he blamed this bunny for his presence in the primitive past as he had traveled there by that well known and traditional method of following it and falling down a rabbit hole.
(The same rabbit would later on lure a mathematician named Dodgeson to this same fate, though by that time the immortal bunny had grown fat and somewhat obsessive about time. But thats another story too. )
But while were on the subject of favorite childrens stories? Lately I have this nightmare about ubers. You know. Young spunky, talkative girl comes into the life of hard but strong older woman? Shows her what love is? If any Bards out there are considering doing an Uber based on Anne of Green Gables, Stop it Right Now. Because I really dont want to see Marilla and Anne getting it on. And I know that Joxer will inevitably be Matthew. And Jo and Beth March doing the nasty, is Right Out! Now back to our story...)
Now Tim had accepted being trapped in the Xenaverse with little grace and regarded anything concerning this rabbit with all the casual interest of Ahab hoping to make a luncheon date with Moby Dick. Despite this obsession, he had in the meanwhile built this rather lucrative business of blowing up stumps for farmers while maintaining his bachae bunny slayering weapons. He sharpened staves, made silver daggers, and he had found a regular supply of what he thought of as Holy water, which was produced by a long, slow, aging process in oak casts. He was outstanding in field when a young village lad came to breathlessly tell him that there be bards here.
But one detail confused him. "What you mean to say, laddie, is that she transformed from a grrreat wolf, eh?"
This bright young lad shook his head
"Perrrrhaps a large black bat with fangsss," and he illustrated this with his fingers at the sides of his mouth while growling and snarling.
The bright young lad continued to smile, but at the same time, being a bright young lad, backed slowly away. However he still remembered to put out his hand for his payment.
Following the traditions of his Ancestors, Tim tried to ignore the hand and began gathering up his slayer equipment, until the boys smile became particularly forced and Tim was forced to acknowledge it. "You want a tip?" There was an enthusiastic nod from the boy.
The enchanter grabbed the last few wooden stakes, tucked them into his pants and advised, "If you ever have an urge to moove to Pompeii, dunna doo it."
Now that clutch of guys who had been pressed close to the door of the tavern had begun to unclench. And to sidle their way ever so cautiously, but ever much closer to where Xena was sitting. Thus proving that a tavern full of drunks will always put the moves on the last woman in the bar, regardless of looks, potential STDs or that shes a deadly shape-shifter.
Now Xena was at this point was realizing that no matter how proficient with deadly weapons Gabrielle might had become, she was still cute. Which meant that Xena was now, well, cute. And the boys were moving closer, but with such feckless smiles that Xena could barely find it in herself to tear off their jaw bones. In fact, to her disgust, she found herself smiling ingratiatingly at them. Though inwardly cursing this niceness that she seemed to be inflicted with, she still had to contend with the matter of returning this body intact. Something that getting into a large brawl (and skipping out without paying the tab) might make difficult. And if there was one thing Xena did not want to do, it was maltreat this body. Nope, keeping it pristine and unbruised was definitely a major consideration, at least until whatever God was screwing around with them again, was satisfied. So, she began to rack her memory for some of the different ways that Gabrielle had fended off drunks before.
So when Tim arrived at the tavern, he found Xena surrounded by this happy gang, smiling, laughing and generally still trying to figure out how to say no politely, without cracking skulls and bruising certain borrowed body parts. He strode in fingering his wooden stakes in his trousers and tried to evaluate the young blonde. As far as he could tell there was no taint of Bachae about her. (but since Gabrielle wasnt really "there" I am not challenging the Blood and Roses series, okay? I have enough enemies in the Xenaverse already.)
Now, here is one of those cases where a simple misunderstanding can occur. Tim assumed that he was making a tactful preliminary inquiry. What Xena saw, was this tall menacing figure caressing a large bulge in his pants, who leaned forward with a crazed look in his eyes and whispered in his exaggerated Scottish burr, "Have ye seen me bunny...?"
Oddly enough, Xena assumed that she didnt want to see his bunny.
She leapt up from the table, did a perfect flip in the air land landed smoothly behind him.
Or that was the idea.
Perhaps it was the too much alcohol for the body weight, or it only registered half way through the somersault that Gabrielle didnt DO flips, but she never really cleared the table, well actually, she did CLEAR the table, catching her foot on the edge of it and slamming down rather forcefully across it, spraining her ankle badly and striking her head, rolling unconscious onto the ground.
Going into full slayer mode, Tim quickly trussed the warrior up, and prepared to test his latest batch of Holy water on both of them, when he was stopped by a forceful, gravally voice that called from behind him: "Leave her alone. She belongs to me!"
Gabrielle considered the limp form of Joxer. (I know, thats not what the girls at Megs said, and yuck...how dark would it have to be, eh?) and wondered at the power of her feelings of aggression. Surely wasnt the norm, even for Xena? But since Im telling this story she just shrugged, decided to go with it, and slapped Joxer across the face. He opened his eyes to see Xena leaning over him looking concerned. Relaxing, he weakly said "Hi Xena."
The dark warrior smiled softly and said "Im not Xena, Joxer. Im Gabrielle."
Looking at the six foot of definitely Xena that was poised above him, Joxer emitted a high sort of peeping noise.
Gabrielle caught this and growled. She lowered her voice and spoke with precision. "Joxer.... I. Am . Gabrielle. Got that?
Joxers smile looked like it had been formed with industrial clamps. Paralyzed with terror, he nodded.
Gabrielle continued patiently, "if you see Xena, you will tell her I had to go to Cyrenes. Im going to pick up Eve, and then head for the tavern Aphrodite told us about."
Joxer took a deep breath. "Uh, Gab-ri-elle? What will Xena look like?"
Vibrating with the intensity of the force inside her, Gabrielle shouted, "SHELL LOOK LIKE ME!!"
"But what if its Meg?" Joxer said meekly, thinking that this was a reasonable point.
Gabrielle didnt, and she hauled him up and said so loudly into his face. "YOU IDIOT! I AM GABRIELLE.... IN XENAS BODY. XENA IS IN MY BODY."
Gasping a little, he forced out "Ah....Gabrielle? I might find that easier to believe if you were acting like Gabrielle. And I dont think Gabrielle would be strangling me like this. "
Still holding him at eye level, Gabrielle stated somewhat more calmly, "Some of Xenas aggressiveness seems to come with the container."
Joxer swallowed. "Does this mean that Xena is in your body, and," and he paused before mumbling..."not like anyone would notice..."
Something deep inside the woman produced a low growl. "WHAT does THAT mean?"
There was another full Adams apple bobbing swallow. "Well, ah, just that, ah, lately its seemed like Xena had already taken over your body ..."
Giving him a series of shakes by the throat for punctuation, Gabrielle snarled, "LOOK! Just because Im now more willing to FIGHT for whats IMPORTANT to me, doesnt mean Im not the same SWEET, GENTLE, LOVING person I ALWAYS was!"
The forced smile back, Joxer cautiously pointed to the growing distance between the ground and his feet.
Gabrielle dropped him to the ground, mumbling before running off, "You could have a point." And he does. Its on his head.
Xena came to, aware of the drag of a travois and that she was secured to it, traveling backwards. She tested the cords binding her Damn, whos got me, or at least Gabrielle, this time? If they harm a hair on her body.... Then she twisted her head around to see the back of the person sitting up front driving the team of plow horses. Our second adversary.
Another "oh no" escaped through her gagged lips.
Herodotus turned about and smiled at what he thought was his runaway daughter. "I think this time youll come home where you belong, missy, and this time youll stay! Oh Yes. Well soon have you straightened out, fattened up, and doing the things a proper girl should be doing. After a few months youll think back on your time traipsing about as a terrible nightmare."
Because of the gag in her mouth, were not quite sure what Xena said. But many historians believe it was the first time the name of Christ was used in the Xenaverse.
Running hard, and leaving Joxer behind (wouldnt we all like to do that?) Gabrielle finally arrived at Cyrenes, puffing, eyes wide in near desperation. Having pointed rocks instead of breasts under your armor can do that to a girl.
Abandoning any attempt at being calm she burst into the inn shouting "WHERE IS THE BABY!!!"
Startled, Cyrene quickly moved to close the door to her granddaughters room, shushing the obtrusive intruder. "Xena! Shes sleeping! And WHAT have you got on your face?"
Part two of the question was something Gabrielle did not want to deal with, but part one was a problem with an easy solution she figured. "WAKE HER UP!", she demanded and began to frantically unstrap her breast plating.
After pulling the blindly fumbling woman away from expectant gazes of the eager patrons, Cyrene fought back a smirk once she recognized the problem. "What are you in such a fuss about? Wheres Gabrielle?"
Eyes darting about, Gabrielle decided to try to bluff through this. "I dont know, but she could be in trouble."
Cyrene chuckled softly. "Nothing new about that..."
It was the wrong thing to say. "What do you mean by THAT?"
Cyrene lifted the child out of the crib and brought her over to the now offended mother. "Dont you go jumping down my throat about Gabrielle, daughter. You know I love her almost as much as you do. But ..."
The relief Gabrielle felt as the suckling began was so great, she began to moan with pleasure. "Oh Gods, that feels goooood! How soon can you swap breasts?"
Now, Xena had been breast feeding for some time, and this seemed to be a question being asked by a neophyte to the experience. Confused, Cyrene stared into the eyes of the warrior in front of her, and she perceived how they quickly softened once as they became occupied with the bundle nursing at her chest. Occams Razor was something that Cyrene had been forced to abandon a long time ago, and what was unbelievable for some, was just this weeks letter home for her.
"Gabrielle?" the innkeeper asked wonderingly.
This stunned the bard. "How...How could you...?"
Shaking her head, Cyrene explained. "There are only two people that look upon my grandchild that way, and since youre not Xena, the other one usually is short and blonde."
Shifting Eve with one hand, the bard managed an outraged "I am NOT short!"
Cyrene looked up at the tall dark figure in front of her, and didnt fight the familiar smirk from forming.
"No, youre not, dear."
After doing a little more stepmother/daughter bonding, Gabrielle quickly explained the situation, and Cyrene convinced her that to keep questions to a minimum, Xena should be riding Argo.
This required some convincing of Argo though. The conversation went something like this.
""Yes, its ME. But youll notice, this time the costume is slightly more convincing. Now you dont give me problems and I wont tell Xena that you let Callisto ride you the last time this happened. And HEY! Dont you DARE give me THAT look! You know that the only one she rode was YOU!"
Should I specify that Gabrielle is talking?
Anyway, with Eve strapped in the back, Gabrielle rode off to save her mate.
The small cart continued to drag its passenger along the well traveled path, tossing cow patties periodically onto Xenas chin. Such is sometimes the lot of heroes.
Herodotus called back "I suppose youre wondering why I decided to take you home after all this time, daughter?"
Couldnt have anything to do with me being alone, lying unconscious and already tied up, could it, you rotten @#$%? Thought the warrior.
"Youve been a bad influence on the women folk of the village. They started getting uppity. Why just last week there were suggestions that the girls should attend school!" Herodotus shook his head in apparent bewilderment. "So the town agreed to pay a specialist to teach the ladies what being a woman is all about again. Shes been very effective, and shes just waiting for a challenge like you. You should see the changes in your friend Seraphin!"
"Oh Gods. Not that nut bar."
"After just a few days of treatment, shes engaged, and happy to be in the kitchen making stuff for her man now."
What demon in Tartarus is she kissing up to now? Like to see them change me into a ... And she stopped. Under normal circumstances she wouldnt have to worry. But now? Like this?
She realized, that for all of the cursing she was doing, for all the resentment she should be feeling, she wasnt getting angry at this bugger. Where was the fury? She might actually be susceptible to whatever these wackos had in store for her. Damn it, Gabrielle better get here...
She was waiting for Gabrielle to rescue her.
Im tied up, helpless, and Im waiting to be rescued.
The unfamiliar sensation of pure panic began to well up. Gabrielle learned to deal with this. She gets angry. She does that real good now. I just need to get angry.
She stared at the back of Herodotuss head. Imagined it falling off with one nice clean sword swipe, but there was no joy in it. How did Gabrielle get angry enough to break through all these nauseating feelings of love and peace and joy and...? And a little bell rang..
This Bastard stands between me and my lover and my daughter.
And there is was. At first, just a nice warm little burn deep inside her. She fed it some more fuel. He wants to keep us separate forever, she thought, smiling now, as the anger became a nice healthy rage. Finally feeling comfortable in her skin for the first time in a while, Xena settled back to enjoy the ride and her fury.
Now several people have complained that this story is a little, well, relaxed. Lacksidasical. So we will now introduce a character with Drama. Drama with a capital D.
Our third adversary, Arachnia!
In line to be Athenas Chosen! Well, if not in line, certainly applying for the job.
Sure, maybe she looks like a young Captain Janeway in leathers with a squint, but without the Spider Queen outfit. Probably because its being used by Lawlsfan and MaryD for when they get into those extra special Webmistress moods.
All we see are the leather boots striding confidently across the village courtyard, (with help from the Firesign Theatre.)
<theme music from the Guns of the Magnificent Seven or Big Valley>
Fearlessly striding forward ......Relentlessly....Ruthlessly! <I wonder where Ruth is?> Doggedly! <Ruff! Ruff!>
Towards her meeting with....her Destiny.
She picked up her stride, and after peering at it through straining eyes, dropped it quickly and walked directly into the massive tavern.
<Oomph, my nose!>
Groping for the door, her farsighted orbs beheld a great golden mare charging directly towards her. Atop is her target, the deadly mother of the bringer of the Twilight of the Gods! She takes her stance. Arms firmly on hips, she stands unflinchingly in the way of the charging horse. Because shes ready for anything, shes ready for the Warrior Princess, Shes ... "I" Gabrielle dismounts with a flip (Eve velcroed to her back) "am Arachnia!" Gabrielle lands behind Arachnia "The Anvil of Athen-ack!" Gab straight-arms the womans skull from the back and the erstwhile avenger collapses like a rotted tree.
"Uh...Sorry," Gabrielle hesitantly apologized. "You were going to attack me. Werent you?"
Brushing the grit from her mouth, Arachnia nodded groggily while trying to raise herself.
"Good. Im still trying to get a handle on this, but I didnt overreact, right?" Satisfied, Gabrielle gave the warrior a finishing shot to the head, and left her lying there. She entered the tavern, which immediately fell silent upon seeing her. Talk about deja vu.
The innkeep scurried up to her, already prepared not to look at the ink moustache, keeping his eyes diligently looking anywhere else.
Lacking the needed direct eye-to-eye contact, Gabrielle nevertheless tried to adopt Xenas cold business-like glare. "Wheres Gabrielle?"
"You mean, the cute bard?"
Gabrielle couldnt stop the blush. "Thank you."
The innkeeps eyes widened a little. A little possessive, are we? he thought. "Huh?"
Gabrielle tried Xenas steely-eyed stare number 4. "Never mind. Talk to me. You saw the bard in here?"
"She here now?"
"What happened to the bard?"
"She got conked...not bad!" He said quickly to avert the oncoming storm signaled in the pale blue eyes. "Some guy grabbed her and tied her up, but an old guy came along and just hauled her away."
Gabrielle took a deep breath. Professional. Xena would want her to be professional. "How long ago was this, sir?"
"Two and half candlemarks ago"
"You seem pretty sure about the time."
"I was looking at the candle when it happened."
"Did he damage my, her body?"
Really, really possessive, the innkeep thought. "No no, he treated her real nice. He wrapped her in some blankets before gagging her and dragging her off."
"Do you think you could recognize him if you saw him again?"
"Just an old farmer. But..."
"I recognized the cart."
"You recognized it, how?"
"What make would that be, Sir?"
"It was a 44 Hermes."
Gabrielles eyes, or Xenas, you know what I mean, (I hope). Anyway, the blues closed for a second. "With Mag wheels?"
"Thats the one."
"Anything out of the ordinary happen?"
"Well, you mean aside from her changing like that? First she looked like you, and then...then she wasnt that way any more."
"I just want the facts, sir... she does stuff like that all the time."
"Really? Isnt that, well, sorta weird?"
"She can be. Tell me, though. What did she do after she transformed?"
"She perked up and started ordering drinks."
A certain hardness entered into Gabrielles voice. "She didnt go charging out of here, all upset?"
"Nope. Started pouring down our strongest port, chatting up the guys. Seemed pretty cheerful if you ask me.... So, you taking off after her?
Gabrielle thought about how shed been riding all day, after hanging in a tree all morning. She thought about her father tying up Xena and taking her home,
And she smiled.
"You gotta room? All of a sudden I dont feel like theres any rush."
Gabrielle was just entering the room shed been assigned when there was a loud WHOMP that made the walls of the inn shudder. Automatically Gabrielle reached for her sais, before she remembered the chakram. She peered cautiously from the side of the window just in time to watch Arachnia slide down the outer wall and land in a heap at the base. The avenger jumped up, shook her head a couple of times, and then ran over to a balanced board teetering in the middle of the square. She adjusted it slightly to point more towards Gabrielles window, then picked up a heavy barrel and threw it at the far end of the board, launching herself into space. Gabrielle moved back and away from the window as the walls trembled again, this time much closer to the frame, making the shutters shudder. (Bards? See the difference? Shudder? Shutter? )
(Just another public service. Back to our story)
Gabrielle thought for a moment and then casually crossed the room and opened the door which opened onto the stairs. Outside, Arachnia was already making another minor modification. Gabrielle stood back with arms crossed and waited. She heard the sound of the barrel landing and Arachnia came flying through the window screaming "I am Arachnia the Ahhhhh!" Gabrielle watched with pursed lips as the avenger flew right across the room, out the door and tumbled down the stairs. Gabrielle strolled over and slammed the door shut, wincing slightly after each of the crashes, thumps and animal screeches.
The momentary silence was broken by a knock. It was the innkeep again, and he pointed hesitantly to the bottom of the stairs. "Is that yours?"
Gabrielle crossed her arms and stared down at the innkeep. "Nope."
The poor man looked at the unconscious avenger, and then back at the stonefaced, mustachioed warrior, and swallowed. "Wou.. would you like one? I mean, is there anything else I could get you?"
Gabrielle began to notice a subtle change in the energy she was feeling. It was becoming more intense with each moment and movement. A strangely familiar feeling... and one that usually required a Warrior Princess in full working order, privacy, and preferably lots of water.
Xena... It was then that the thought struck her. She had Xena, in a way. She turned again to the innkeep.
"You got a mirror, a big one, portable?"
The little man blinked. Twice. "How Big?"
"Big. As tall as me. Full length, I need it for when I take my bath..."
To be continued in Part 3
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