A Janice and Mel story
Mel sighed heavily, setting down a new scroll with an unintentional thunk that caused the rickety table, along with the kerosene lantern on it, to rattle loudly.
Janice's eyes popped open. She quickly sat up and reached for her gun as her eyes darted around the tent. She sighed with relief, when her eyes found the source of the noise. Her relief turned to concern when she noticed the southerner rubbing her temples and stretching her neck.
"What's wrong?" Janice asked as she pulled her exhausted body out of her cot.
"Did I wake you? I'm sorry . . . " Mel relayed softly, turning in her chair toward the archeologist. Still rubbing her temples, Mel watched as the Janice got dressed.
"Mel, what's wrong? Something in the new scroll?" Janice asked as she finished tucking in her shirt and came over to the table. She looked at the scroll then the southerner with concern.
Mel sighed heavily.
"It just doesn't make any sense Janice," Mel blurted with frustration, motioning to the new scroll unrolled before her as she shook her head.
Janice had never seen Mel so disturbed about the scrolls. She had trouble transcribing tricky words before, but it never seemed to bother her this much.
"Well, which word are you . . ." Janice asked, looking at the scroll as she pulled up a chair and sat next to Mel.
"It's not just a single word Janice," Mel blurted. "I wish it were that simple," she added sincerely. "It's all these scrolls. . . ." Mel relayed cryptically as she shook her head.
Janice paused a moment not sure how to respond to this unexpected southern outburst about the scrolls. Sure there were things in them that were hard to believe, many incredible physical feats, even more incredible and daring than ever shown in the movies, Janice considered.
"What exactly has you confused, Mel? Xena battling another army single handedly, flying through the air to board a ship, dying then coming back . . . more than once?" Janice asked with a smirk.
Mel rolled her eyes. They had already discussed the incredible feats and just chalked up the really unbelievable parts to Gabrielle's ability to embellish and write a captivating tale.
"It's not that," Mel relayed with a weary sigh. "Janice, I don't want to upset you, but I think we have a serious problem," Mel spoke gravely placing her hand on the archeologist's, then quickly retracted it when the archeologist twitched.
"The University may even want to back out of their support if they realize . . . " Mel continued.
"Realize WHAT?" Janice blurted nervously, suspecting the problem.
It wasn't as if it was that obvious, Janice considered. They hadn't found a scroll yet that came out and said so. But apparently Mel had finally come to the same conclusion she had, and wasn't very pleased with that revelation, Janice considered uneasily.
"It took reading all these scrolls again for me to see it . . . and now that's all I see, I don't know how we can possibly ignore it," Mel relayed shaking her head disapprovingly.
"Ignoring it works for me," Janice said weakly, disturbed by Mel's less than tolerant reaction.
"JANICE!" Mel stood up, nonplused.
"You knew about this all along and you didn't mention anything?"
"Well, I . . . uh . . . I wasn't sure at first Mel, but when we found the Ulysses scroll . . . " Janice relayed uncomfortably, scratching the back of her neck.
"Janice how could you keep something like this from the University?" Mel challenged her.
"Why the HELL would the university have a problem with that??" Janice responded hotly, bolting up from her chair.
"JANICE!! Doesn't historical accuracy mean ANYTHING to you?" Mel scolded her, then regretted her harsh words seeing the hurt in Janice's face.
"I'm sorry Janice," Mel quickly and sincerely apologized, reaching out to squeeze the archeologist's arm.
"I am too, Mel," Janice responded wearily, sinking back in her chair. "I just didn't think we should announce our speculations without more substantial evidence. And I'm sure we'll find it," Janice said with a shrug.
Mel looked at her, now even more confused.
"Let me see if I have this right. You expect to find a scroll that explains how Xena and Gabrielle are able to help Helen of Troy AND Ulysses AND Cleopatra, fight Caesar, trade stories with Homer, and talk philosophy with Socrates? You expect to find a scroll that explains how these two can travel through HUNDREDS of years of history?" Mel blurted.
"THAT's what you're confused about?" Janice asked, greatly relieved.
"Isn't that enough?" Mel asked incredulously, then eyed a smiling Janice. "Good Lord Janice, what do you think I was talking about?" Mel added, wiping Janice's smile from her face.
"Time travel huh? Well, I haven't read anything about a meeting with H.G. Wells yet, but who knows," Janice relayed with an amused shrug, trying to ignore the stare from Mel.
"Janice Covington, don't you change the subject. What did you think I was talking about?" Mel pressed her for an answer.
"Mel, I thought . . . uh . . . boy it's late," Janice offered, looking at her watch with a forced yawn. "Digging all day kinda wore me . . . "
"JANICE," Mel snapped, at her wits end with this evasive archeologist, who cringed.
"I thought you were confused about . . . their relationship," Janice admitted quickly, hoping to get it over with and go to sleep. Not that she would be able to now.
Mel stared at her then raised an eyebrow. "And why would I be confused about their relationship?"
Oh God, Janice moaned silently.
"I thought, I didn't think . . . I . . ." Janice blurted.
Mel sat back in her chair and crossed her arms, waiting for an explanation. Janice cleared her throat.
"Well, from the bits and pieces I've picked up from the different scrolls, I think . . . Well, I'm pretty sure . . . No, I'm certain . . . they were in love with each other," Janice relayed, wanting to swallow, but her mouth was too dry. "Lovers," Janice added, to be perfectly and painfully clear.
"Well of course they were Janice," Mel relayed, rolling her eyes. "Why would I be confused about that? I wasn't born yesterday, you know," Mel relayed with a dismissive shake of her head and turned back to inspect the new scroll.
Janice stared blankly at Mel.
"It took you until the Ulysses scroll?" Mel added with an amused chuckle, turning Janice's shock to annoyance.
"And just WHEN did YOU figure it out, Miss Pappas?" Janice challenged, making the southerner smile broadly.
"I knew it right away," Mel relayed proudly, eyeing the attentive archeologist. "The very first time I laid my eyes on . . . ," Mel continued then broke her suddenly not-so-confident gaze at the archeologist. ". . . a scroll," she added, glancing at the scroll before her.
"But that doesn't help this glaring problem of chronological inconsistencies," Mel continued quickly, pushing up her glasses that slid down her nose again.
"Well, I kinda liked the time travel theory," Janice grinned, seeing the southerner in a new light.
"That's not very helpful, Janice," Mel tried to scold the archeologist, who continued to grin.
"We all know Xena had many skills, maybe time travel was one of them," Janice offered with a smirk.
"Janice, even in these new scrolls you just dug up, which detail some of her more . . . interesting . . . skills, there isn't one mention of time travel," Mel responded with finality.
"Hmmm," Janice responded, then eyed the newest scroll, intrigued by the southerner's comments. "What kind of skills?" She asked with a sly grin.
"Don't these chronological inconsistencies concern you at all?" Mel asked with worry, ignoring the archeologist's tangent.
"Nope," Janice said honestly.
"Thank you, Janice. I feel so much better now. I'm glad I talked to you about it," Mel spoke with incredibly polite sarcasm.
"Look, Mel, we'll either figure it out or we won't. But it won't be for lack of trying or skill," Janice relayed looking at Mel confidently.
Mel nodded, though not completely comfortable with that position.
"Now, speaking of skills . . . " Janice pulled her chair closer to the table. "Are these your notes?" Janice asked playfully, eyeing the steno pad with great interest.
"I'm not ready . . . finished, I'm not finished," Mel blurted correcting herself, quickly placing her hand over her steno pad. "Aren't you supposed to be tired?" Mel asked.
"Yeah. I guess I am," Janice wisely answered with a warm smile.
Mel watched Janice get up from her chair and retreat to her cot. She averted her gaze from the archeologist when she started to undress.
"You'll let me know when you're . . . finished . . . right?" Janice asked, climbing into her cot and pulling her blanket up.
"Of course Janice, good night," Mel said softly, adjusting her glasses as she focused on her scroll and pad.
"Good night, Mel," the archeologist relayed, shifting under her blanket to get more comfortable.
Many minutes passed but the exhausted archeologist's eyes were still open, staring at the shadow of the southerner on the tent wall. The sounds of the kerosene lantern burning, paper shuffling and the scratches of pencil on paper that wouldn't have normally bothered her, seemed to be extra loud tonight.
"Mel?" Janice lifted her head from her pillow to gaze at the southerner still working.
"Hmmm?" Mel answered casually, staring at her scroll, though her eyes were as wide as saucers.
"You don't have to worry, we'll figure it out, ok?" Janice relayed to the southerner, who turned to the archeologist. A broad smile emerged on the southerner's face as she nodded.
"I'm still betting on H.G. Wells," Janice offered with a grin.
"JANICE, they did NOT meet H. G. Wells."
"How do you know?"
"Go to sleep Janice"
"You DON'T know."
"It could of happened . . ."
"Janice, if they did meet with H.G. Wells, YOU can tell the University."
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