Before I begin, I like to put in the usual disclaimers. Xena, Gabrielle, and all charicters of Xena:WP are the sole property of Universal and Ren Pics. Suttle subtext and only Xena's ego (and coin purse) gets a little bruised. (In part2) This was made for fun and not for profit. I wrote this in my head at work. Hope you enjoy it. Let me know.

by James Bergquist


Two weeks before Solstice, the bazzar is just a madhouse. Dealers of all types are selling thier wares and thier foods. A middle aged sandlemaker sits on a bench, resting (and hiding, just a little) from his tireless bride of 28 years on her usual shopping frenzy. he just closed a deal for his business and "volunteered" to take the wife along for shopping. She put the squeeze on him this time.

"I love that woman to Tautrus and back, but she always waits for the last candlemark to shop. Then we she does, she doesn't drag her girlfriends. Or her mother. No. She drags *me* around." he mutters to himself, sighing. "You got that right" a woman's smooth voice interrupts. He looks up and sees a tall, beautiful tanned woman standing before him.

What a sight for tired eyes. A woman with a sword, no less. Boy. These shoppers are getting more gritty. Tired and sweating, the dark haired woman plops down and closes her icy blue eyes "Oh, what a day. I hope this place closes soon. I need a good drink"

"Shopping wearing you down, too?"

"No, being dragged around. Like you. I finally diched her, my friend, back at a fish stand."

"Ooooh. Better tell her to watch the food here." Suddenly, the woman laughed furiously "Are you kidding me? Gabrielle has a stomach forged from Hephystus himself. Nothing can upset that endless pit."

Sandlemaker laughs "Gabrielle. Beautiful name." The woman smiles

"Everything about Gabrielle is beauty. How about you? What are you in for?"

"Weellll. I'm here closing a deal for my sandle business. I'm going into boots too. I supply sandles and boots for seven villages and for travelers. My wife heard I was going to the bazzar and had to get her Solstice shopping done. So here I am."

The woman winks

"Are you hiding like I am?"

"Yes. Guilty." They both laugh.

The sandlemaker shakes his head "Boy, am I in it deep. Right now, she's probibly planning my painful torture and picking my new clothes out for the year. She can slice me to pieces with her tongue alone."

"Hmm. Sounds familar. Looks like she's got a tight leash on you."

"Naw. She may be a little bossy, but I love her the same. I'm sorry! Where are my manners? Forgot to introduce myself to such a beautiful woman" Sandlemaker holds out his hand. The woman grabs his forearm and squeezes. The sandlemaker smiles in surprise of her strength.

"My name is...." "Claremont!! There you are!!" A woman bellows across the bazzar.

The color drains from Claremont face "Oh Zeus! There she is now." He jumps up to greet his wife. "Cleo! Sweetheart! I lost you back there and was resting...OOHHFF!" She pokes the rotund belly of her husband very hard. So hard, his new friend sitting behind and below him grabs her belly in sympathy. She "Don't give me that sweetheart line. You *poke* ditched *poke* me."

"Sorry, dear"

"I had to find you to check your waist size. Hmmm. You've been sneeking sweets again. *poke* Didn't I cut you back on sweets and ale. You know that port and ale is no good for you. *poke, poke*"

"Yes, dear"

"Don't mumble, Claremont. By the way, I got those herbs for that constipation. Did you go today?" Cleo crosses her arms across her chest, worried look on her face. Claremont turns to see his dark hair friend. Tears are falling out of her eyes as her body is convulsing in silent laughter. She looks like she's ready to explode in laughter.

Claremont's ears turn red and he whispers "Cleo! Not out here. People can hear us. And no. I didn't"

"Well. Just take these and you'll feel better. look at this!" She pulls a piece of cloth from her bosom. Cleo licks one end of the cloth. She wipes his face as he wiggles around. If only he can fall on his laughing friend's sword.

"How can I love such a dirty face? I don't know, but I do. We're seeing Mother tonight and I don't need you a mess. Stop squirming."

"Yes, dear. By the way, this is...."

"Claremont, I don't have time to meet your drinking buddies. I've got alot more to do. Here. If you're going to sit there, you can watch my bag and the presents" Claremont shrugs helplessly as Cleo piles the presents next to the bench and stuffs her purse in his arms.

"Yes, dear" he responds as he starts to sit. Cleo clears her throat as she holds out her hand. Claremont sighs and hands her a large bag of shiny new dinars.

"Thank you, sweetheart. I love you, Claremont."

" I love you too, Cleo. I'm sorry, dear." She smiles and looks at him with loving eyes. "I can't stay mad at you, loverboy. You know that. Now, Are we forgetting something?" Cleo closes her eyes and puckers her lips out, waiting for her kiss. Claremont rolls his eyes and leans in to kiss his truelove. She throws her arms around him and 3 minutes of passion pass by. They break contact. Cleo shivers "Whoo! You only get better and better, lover."

Claremont turns red again "Cleeeooo. Stop."

"It's true. How do you think we got 7 kids? Now. Stay *poke in chest* here! *poke*" Cleo straightens her hair and returns to her shopping. Claremont plops down. His tall friend starts to laughs explosivley.

She rolls and tears pour from her face. This goes on for awhile.

"I-I-can't be-believe that woman! Oh Gods! I ha-haven't laughed like this in years. She has you locked down, my friend. Claremont, you are a god among men. I KNOW you love her." She finally calms down.

"Are you done? I told you she was a card. And yes. I love her. I'd piss in Ares' face before I give her up." The woman smiles

"I let him know" Claremont looks puzzled


"Nothing. Anyway, I'm Xena of Amphipolis. It's refreshing and a honor to meet a good man as yourself."

Claremont's jaw drops open "Xe-Xena of Amphipolis. Destroyer of N-Nations? Ohhhh" Clarmont passes out at the feet of the Warrior Princess

Claremont opens his eyes. Xena, tall and proud stands before the little sandle maker. "Hi, there, Claremont." He jumps a little.

"Hey! It's OK! I'm not the Destroyer anymore. I'm one of the good guys, er, girls now. I made a big change thanks to Hercules and some excellent friends. You're allright. I should watch how I introduce myself. You're not the first to do that. Here. I got us some port."

Xena bends slightly to hand her new friend his mug and Claremont see a glorous view of her cleavage. He is transfixed as he grabs his mug. "Thank you" he mutters.

<You jackass.> He thinks <She and her army killed 10,000 soldiers in one battle and you're staring at her tits like a horney teenager. If she catches me...>

Xena freezes and looks where his eyes wander. She looks up and sneers "Claremont, it's not nice to stare. Besides, you're married." She raises one eyebrow and stands to her feet. "S-Sorry, Xena. Heh. *gulp* I must have, um, hit my head or something. I'm alot better. Thanks for the port."

He laughs nervously. "Really? Hmm. Well. I'm glad you made such a full recovery. I'm just glad to get away for awhile. I've been on my feet at this blasted bazzar all day." About 5 stands away behind Xena, Claremont see a petite, gorgeous strawberry blonde spot stop dead in her tracks and narrow her eyes at the back of Xena's head.

The little blonde's teeth grind and her knuckles whiten on the staff she holds in one hand. The other full of packages and 3 dresses. "Gods know I love Gabrielle. But I don't enjoy the girley stuff like she does. Cooking, quilts, baking, sewing. Ugh." Closer and closer the blonde approches.

<Oh, no. That must be Gabrielle! I should tell Xena.> "And the talking and sharing of feelings. The way I have to tiptoe around her feelings and the way she turns on the waterworks. Sometimes I go along just for some peace. And that's when she is not on period." Gab grinds her teeth silently and listens to Xena, as the Warrior Princess tightens the noose around her neck.

<Naah! Payback is a bitch, my friend> Claremont takes a drink, nods at Xena's comments and smiles. He chuckles as Gabrielle face turns slowly red. <How long before she blows? Wow. You could lick feta cheese off that stomach> "So. You and Gabrielle have a great partnership."

"Oh yeah! She's a real trooper and a great bard! I never tell her this, but her poems are my favorite of all. I love her, even though her mother hates me. I swear that mother of hers is more bloodthirsty than the Bacchae. I got a Dryaid bone for that woman. I'm just glad that I'm not a man. There's no WAY that I can be whipped like a man. I'm my own woman." Gab nods her head, eyes burning.

She taps her foot and listens, hands on hips. Clarmont grins eviley and asks "Hey, If she gets mad, does a vein start throbbing right here?" Claremont points to the middle of his head. "Yeah! But only if she is SUPER pissed. I'm talking that insane kind of anger that means a cold meal and she gets a headache for at least two nights. I mean, she completly cuts me off. *shivers* Now, that is a nightmare I don't need. But what she doesn't know won't hurt me. *Laughs* How do you know that throbbing vein thing?" Xena asks as she takes a big drink of her port.

Gabrielle stops tapping her foot as her green eyes narrow. <And now, the axe falls> Claremont thinks. "Xeennaa!!" Gab spits out the name like a fireball. Xena suddenly and violently spits out her port and coughs. Claremont hysterically starts laughing as Xena whips around to greet her beloved. "*cough* Ga-Gabrielle! I-I-I can expl--OW!OW!"

Gabrielle's petite fingers shoot up as she stands on her toes to grab and twist the ear of Xena. Xena drops to one knee as her Little Bard speaks "Don't EVEN start. Congratulations, Xena. I just reached a new level of pissed that surpasses all records in history. (OW!) I'm *way* passed that. See that vein. *tap,tap* She's a pounding away, right? ( Yes,OW!) Right now, your answers will detirmine a open or closed casket service." Xena closes her eyes and shakes her head as Claremont continues his laughing fit. "Ooohh, shhhii...Ow!"

"Ow, honey. Ow! Please let go. Sweetest?" Xena whimpers. The tall warrior snaps her head back as her beloved lets go of her ear. Gods! How does Joxer stand the pain? Xena rubs her ear as Gabrielle starts to scold her "Don't you honey me, Xena! I can't believe you did that to me! Just before Solstice too.

I walk all over Greece and the Gods know where else with you, stomach those damn boatrides, gather firewood, cook dinners, fight gods, warlords, kings, and monsters. All I want this Solstice is *ONE* civilized visit with Mom and Dad and you ditch me. I ask you to wear one dress for them. Eat and laugh at there bad jokes. We come to the bazzar and three candlemarks on your feet, you pull the old 'Hey, is that Sappho?' trick. Poof! You're gone." Gabrielle starts to tap her foot again and cross her arms.

Xena looks around with a very guilty look. She rubs her hands and looks at her beloved "I'm sorry, Gabrielle. Really. I don't have a excuse, but I was just bored. I hate shopping..." Gabrielle puts up one hand "Don't give me the puppy face, Xena. I invented the puppy face, remember? And yes, I know you hate shopping. As you told your friend as well as all our other business." Xena looks down at the ground, guilty.

"Yes, dear. BTW, This is Claremont. He's a sandlemaker. Claremont, this is Gabrielle. Love of my Life" Xena smiles at this comment. Gab shoots her a look and Xena looks down again.

Claremont jumps to his feet to greet the Bard "It's a honor to meet you, Gabrielle. Wonderful boots." Claremont bows slightly and takes Gabrielle's hand to kiss. He brings up her hand, but she snatches it away. "Hmmm, yes. Nice to meet you, Claremont. Sorry I'm not sociable today. Bad headache, you know" Xena flinches at this comment.

Claremont nods "Yes, ma'am. I can understand that. Well. I'll just sit over here now." <Oh Zeus, Xena gonna get it now. Poor thing.> Clarmont thinks. He sits. Gabrielle pulls out a modest leaf green dress. "You promised me you wouldn't do this today, but off you went. I do so much for you. Turn around."

Automatically, Xena turns around and outstrechs her arms. "Yes, dear" Gabrielle drapes the dress over Xena's back to check the fit. "Three years together and you *still* pull off the most immature stunts. I do so much for you. Don't I remember to buy presents for your mother? And good ones too" " *rolls her eyes*

"Yes, my love"

"Hmmm. Did you remember to eat lunch? I worry when you don't eat well."

"Yes, Gabrielle. I had lunch"

"Stop that squirming, Xena. Hmm. Getting a little bloated, there. You still getting cramps?" Xena looks around and her ears turn red Claremont snickers. Xena, without looking, kicks him square in the shin with the back of her heel. "*whispers*Gabrielle..people can hear you. And the cramps stopped. C'mon, honey. It's the holiday. Please let's not fight. I'm begging here. I'll do anything. Please don't be mad." Xena rubs Gabs shoulders. Gab cracks half of a smile.

"Yes, It was mean and i'm very sorry. I didn't mean what I said about your mother." Gab giggles and mutters "Fibber. But go on."

"You are my heart and soul, Gabrielle. I love you, Little One." Xena hugs her Little Bard tightly and with all the love known to man and the gods. Gabrielle feels a teardrop hit the top of her honey blond locks. Claremont sighs and wipes a tear away. <I love you, Cleo> he thinks.

"Oh, Xena. I love you too. 'Till the other side. I can't stay mad at you, dammit. Look at this" Gabrielle sobs, pulls a cloth out of her green top and licks a corner. She starts cleaning Xena's face. "Look at this face. How could I love such a dirty face? But I do. You need a clean face for Mom and Dad. AND for that fancy tavern we're gonna eat at. You know. Have a real dinner. Without the drunks, bar bets and arm wrestling. Then, You're going to help Mom with that new quilt. It'll give you a chance to talk and to catch up"

Xena kicks the ground and huffs "Aww, Gabrielle..." Gab puts her hands on her hips "Xeeeennaa..." Xena smiles "Yes, my love. Besides, the best part of this is that we get to make up. Hmmm? Remember that last nasty fight we had? Four days like cats and dogs. But afterwards, They almost found me dead on my bedroll, giant smile on my face."

Claremont bursts out laughing. Gabrielle turns beet red in embarresment and looks around "Xena! Stop it.." Xena laughs out loud "Oh, Gabrielle. Sorry, honey."

"Yeah, right, Xena. Anyway. I have to finish shopping for Lila. Here. If you gonna talk to Claremont, you can watch my scrollbag and presents." Gabrielle shoves her scrollbag into the ribs of Xena and starts to pile presents next to the bench. Xena sigh a surrender and starts to sit down. Gabrielle clears her throat and holds out her hand. Xena frowns and pulls out her bag of dinars. Gabrielle takes the dinars "Are we forgetting something?" Gabrielle closes her eyes and puckers her lips for her kiss. Xena rolls her eyes and leans over to kiss her beloved. *Smootch*

"Thank you, Xena. I love you. Who's my wittle pwincess?" Gab asks with a evil grin "Aww, Gabrielle. Not now.."

"C'mon, Xena. Who's my wittlle pwincess?"

"I'm your wittle pwincess" Claremont busts out laughing hard. Xena give him a very evil look that stops his laughing dead. "Great. Now stay put and be nice to Claremont. That's a order."

"Yes, ma'am"

"OK. Nice to meet you Claremont." Claremont snickers

"G-Good to meet you, Gabrielle. *snicker* Oh, gods, I'm gonna die." Gab melts back into the crowd. Xena and Claremont look at the pile of presents next to them, then at the bags in their laps then look straight ahead. "Not a damn word, Claremont. Not to anyone." Claremont snickers uncontrollably then laughter. Xena joins him.

"OK, OK. We're even."

"I'm sorry, Xena. I can't resist. Can I buy you a couple of drinks?"

"Sounds great. How much time you think we have?"

"Well, I gave Cleo 50 dinars. About half a candlemark. You?" Xena nods. "Same here. Let's go" Xena and Claremont pick up the presents and the bags. Claremont opens the tavern doors for Xena and bows "Warrior Pwincess' first" he smiles.

"Smartass" Xena mumbles.


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