After Altared States
by Marie E. Costa
"I did what?" Gabrielle dropped her skewer of meat and looked at Xena in shock.
Xena smiled that sly sideways smile that only she could do. "Close your, mouth." She gestured with her skewer of meat, before biting off a piece of the succulent meat and continued to watch Gabrielle as she chewed it.
Gabrielle frowned. "Did I really...?"
Xena's smile turned into a true smirk. "Yes," a small chuckle escaped her throat. "You talked with the rocks and they talked back." She leaned forward and continued in a low conspiratorial manner. "As a matter of fact you and the rocks had a nice musical going there." She smiled at the bard's obvious discomfort. "Yup, you were coaching them on a song that only you and the rocks could hear."
Gabrielle groaned and put her head in her hands. "I'll never be able to show my face again! How many people know I did this?" Please let her tell me she's the only one...
Xena bit her lip to keep from laughing. "Well..." She raised an eyebrow at her friend. "For a price I think I can arrange that no one ever hears about it. But it does have a nice ring to it. Gabrielle Drugged Bard of Potedia." She wiggled her eyebrows at the younger woman.
Gabrielle gasped. "You're the only one that knows!"
A sharp glint entered Xena's eyes. "Well two other people are aware that something was wrong...but they didn't see what I saw." She rolled her tongue along her gums. "But, I am the only one that can tell exactly what you did...and I will if you don't come up with a good bribe to stop me."
"You?" Gabrielle shook her head incredulously. "You hate to talk. I don't think I need to worry about it." She grinned. A little color returning to her face.
"Maybe," Her eyes twinkled with mischief. "But I do know how to write," She tilted her head and raised an eyebrow. "And I can give a scroll to a passing Bard. I think it's the kind of tale that would spread quickly."
"You wouldn't!" Gabrielle exclaimed shock at the idea evident on her face.
"Well..." Xena let her voice trail off.
"No...Xena...I...I...you...you can't." Gabrielle stuttered.
"I can if I don't get offered a good bribe." She said in a dangerous voice.
Gabrielle shivered. "Fine." She took a deep breath and paused to think. "How about if I do all the cooking for one week."
Xena shook her head. "Nope. We both prefer your cooking to mine...you do most of it now anyway."
Gabrielle lowered her eyes and thought furiously. "I'll do the cleaning too."
Xena hesitated. She normally did all the cleanup, but... "No, that's not enough."
"Okay." Gabrielle spoke through gritted teeth. "I'll gather the firewood too."
Xena grinned delighted with the concept. "Okay for one week you gather the wood, cook, and clean?" Gabrielle nodded her agreement that, that was what she meant. "One more thing. You get up in the morning without complaining."
Gabrielle glared at her warrior friend.
Xena waited patiently as time stretched. Maybe Gabrielle needed a little encouragement. Did I tell you about the rock that told you what to do?" She raised one eyebrow. "It was really cute...you said his voice was gravely, but you understood him."
Gabrielle's glare deepened. She's enjoying this way too much...I wouldn't put it past her to have someone tell the story...I'd never get a moment's peace. "Okay." She conceded defeat.
Xena smiled. "Okay story forgotten." She bent to the task of sharpening her sword.
"Ahh? One more thing." Gabrielle spoke in puzzled tones.
"How did we end up down that well?"
"Gabrielle," Xena fought a grin. "That's part of the story you just bribed me to forget."
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