Disclaimer: The characters of Xena, Gabrielle and Cyrene, belong exclusively to MCA/ Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No Copyright infringement was intended through the writing of this piece.
Subtext Warning: Well, I suppose so, so if you are under 18, the subtextual display of affection between two consenting adult women is illegal in the state/country in which you live, or if you are offended by it, read no further. Its really not that much though.
Acknowledgments: Once again I have to say thanks to Kamouraskan. I don't know how she manages to go out in public with all the problems she's got. This time, it's bed bugs. Never live in Quebec people, they breed mole infested, acned people whose beds are infected with body lice. Also thanks to The Man From The Infamous Round Table, for giving me a run down on his bed bug experience, Archaeobard, thankfully, has never suffered from the little blighters. Oh, and I shamelessly swiped a line from Starship Troopers, and altered a line from In Sickness and in Hell, so spoliers for that ep, people. I also make reference to Kamouraskans Seeded and The Gabrielle Effect Part Three. Time to slice and dice those Québécois lice.
Sometimes, You Really Bug Me.
Gabrielle scratched at something on her neck. She frowned as she leaned back in her chair in the darkest corner of Cyrene's tavern than she could find. This was a little difficult, since it really was a bright morning. Where in Hades was Xena? Finally, the bard spotted the woman slinking down the stairs from their room. She frowned, Xena, as a rule, did not slink, unless she was hunting something.
"Xena!" Gabrielle called to catch the warrior's attention, aimlessly scratching at her arms.
The warrior turned towards the darkish corner and headed over, shoulders slumped.
"Hey." she said as she flopped down in a chair opposite from Gabrielle, her lips barely moved.
"Well, 'good morning', is generally considered a good response to a hail, Xena." the bard said. There was something odd about the warrior. Gabrielle learned forward over the table and squinted, "What in Tartarus is that all over your face?" she asked.
If Xena could have raised an eyebrow, she would have, "Concealer."
"Concealer? From the cosmetics stall?" The bard sat back and laughed, "Well, well, Xena's got zits." She crossed her arms smugly.
The warrior shook her head, "Not zits."
The bard grinned, "Moles then."
The look in Xena's eyes was priceless, "They hardly appear overnight, Gabrielle."
"Well it can't be nipples." The bard got a wistful look in her eye.
The warrior shot the bard a deathly glare, "It's not like you don't have the same problem, Gabrielle. Look at your arms."
The bard glanced at her arms, where several large, reddish-white, splotchy lumps were residing quite happily.
"So? I've got a few bites, thats all. My blood is sweet." She shrugged.
"Not just any bites Gabrielle," the warrior paused and glanced about the tavern, "bed bugs." she said, lowering her voice.
The bard stared at the warrior for a moment before bursting into peels of laughter, "Bed bugs. Oh yeah, Xena, that's a good one." She grabbed at her stomach, "You're the one who suffers from periodic lice infestations, not me. I've got a few bites from a bacchae mosquito or something." She scratched at one of the painfully itchy lumps.
"Gabrielle," it was the 'don't play funny games with me' voice, "if you haven't noticed, we share a bed, if I've got them, you've got them." She jabbed a finger in the bard's direction.
Oddly enough, Gabrielle stopped laughing, "Bed bugs?" she queried.
The warrior nodded solemnly, "Yeah, small critters that suck your blood while you sleep. Theyre all over the bed," she glanced about again, "I checked."
"And youre sure that they are bed bugs?" the bard asked, examining one of the bites closely.
"Yes, positive, you can see the things."
"You can see them?" the bard asked incredulously.
"Uh-huh, fat little f...suckers." the warrior stumbled.
"Well," the bard sat back in her chair, subconsciously rubbing her forearms along the edge of the table, "youre going to have to tell your mother."
"Im going to have to tell her? Dont you mean we?"
"Tell me what?" Cyrenes voice cut in sharply from the side.
Gabrielle gave a weak grin and cleared her throat. Xena swallowed hard and turned her statue-like face on her mother.
"Ah, nothing mom, really."
Cyrene frowned and reached out a finger. She prodded Xena in the cheek. Some of the concealer cracked and broke away. A nasty, hard lump was revealed.
"Really." Cyrene said, wiping the residue of the concealer between her fingers. "What is that?" She pointed to the lump.
"Ah, its a bite." Xena said weakly.
"Doesnt look like any bite Ive ever seen."
"Well, thats because its a...a...ah, bed bug bite." Xena said lamely.
Cyrene raised an eyebrow, "And just what exactly is that supposed to suggest?"
Xena looked hopelessly over to Gabrielle. After all, the bard was better with words.
Gabrielle baulked but spoke up, "It means that our bed is infested with bed bugs."
Xenas eyes went wide. And she thought she was the Queen of delivering subtlety with a hammer.
"I dont think so." Cyrene hissed.
"Now mom, I know you keep a clean tavern, but its true." The warrior tried to explain. More concealer cracked off and scattered over the table top.
Cyrenes eyes narrowed, "Show me."
Xena took a deep breath and pushed her chair back. She motioned frantically for the bard to follow her. By this stage, their conversation had drawn quite an interesting audience. A number of people scratched subconsciously in sympathy for the two bug bitten women.
The three women made there way up to Xena and Gabrielles room. Xena flung the door open wide.
"Whats that smell?" Cyrene asked, grabbing her daughter by the shoulder, "Have you been eating my fruit again?"
"No! Its what they smell like, the bugs, when they are all clumped together and laying their eggs." Xena almost whispered.
"Yeah, listen to her Cyrene, she knows a lot about bugs." Gabrielle couldnt help but add.
The warrior shot Gabrielle her meanest look, marred only by the cracking and peeling of the concealer. Gabrielle grinned and casually scratched at her stomach.
"Right," Xena said stalking up to the bed and shifting some of the covers. Small squeaking and high pitched mumbling sounds could be heard, "Hear that?"
Cyrene and Gabrielle nodded.
"Thats what they sound like." The warrior paused, "Watch." She said, getting down on her hands and knees, squinting at the covers. She reached out a hand and plucked something out. "Gotcha!" she yelled in triumph, squishing her prize between her thumb and forefinger. A slight popping sound was heard, followed by a distinctive,
"Oh mon Dieu, ils avant tué Kammy!"
"What was that?" Gabrielle asked, shifting closer to the bed. She looked at Xena.
Cyrene looked as if her heart might give out.
"I dont know, they sound different, like a strange language I heard a man from Gaul speak. They must be blow ins."
Cyrenes face turned a horrid shade of crimson, "Blow ins?"
"Yeah, you know, something that arrives unexpectedly, and is not necessarily wanted." Xena said, walking up to her mother, grabbing the womans hand and shoving the dead bug into it.
Cyrene looked down at the tiny, squashed, bloody offering.
"See, weve got bed bugs." Xena continued, "Now, what are we going to do about it?" She placed her hands on her hips. The warrior glanced at Gabrielle who merely shrugged.
Xenas mother flicked the carcass to the floor, "The only good bug, is a dead bug."
Gabrielle rolled her eyes. Xena nodded.
"Glad you agree."
"Yes," Gabrielle butted in, "but how are we going to get rid of the things?"
Xena scratched at her neck, "We burn the bed."
"What!" Cyrene shrieked, turning on her daughter, "Do you know how much that thing cost?"
Xena shrugged sheepishly, "Its only a bed."
"Only a bed," Cyrene frowned, "Its the deluxe model imported from Athens, Im not going to see it burned." she stated with finality.
"Fine, any other suggestions?" the warrior asked.
Gabrielle cleared her throat and the two women glanced over.
"Well, we do have some left over seeds, we could smoke them out." she said, avoiding Cyrenes gaze.
Cyrene exploded, "You are not getting any bugs seeded in my tavern, once was bad enough, with humans."
Gabrielle backed away mumbling, "Fine, theyd probably mutate anyway."
Xena sighed, picking at her concealer and bug bites.
"We need some kind of...chemical." she mused, moving back to the bed, to stare at the little creatures that writhed happily amid the covers. "What was that...stuff, that maid of yours used, Gabrielle?" the warrior asked hopefully.
"That was for moles, Xena," the bard said, scratching at a shoulder, "and besides, it seemed to promote bug infestation, not get rid of it." She grimaced at the memory.
Xena grunted, "Right." More concealer fell from her face.
The three women looked at each other, listening to the soft squeaking and purrings of the bugs. No solution was forthcoming. Gabrielle opened her mouth a few times, but was silenced effectively by either a glare from Xena or Cyrene. Finally, a low wail was heard coming from the covers. The women all gathered around and squinted into the bedding. Several of the tiny critters had keeled over and curled up their toes.
Gabrielle prodded at the covers, revealing still more dead bugs. Her finger came away tinged with a light dusting of white powder. The bard glanced at Cyrene. The two women turned to the warrior and grinned.
Well, okay, not my best effort, but...
Until next time,
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