Disclaimer: The characters of Xena and Gabrielle and others mentioned, belong to MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No infringement on their rights are intended.

Subtext Disclaimer: No sex in this one. Just some good old fashion fun and a box of Milk Duds.

Timeline: Plan D #11.

Shock Factor: 2. No blood. No death. But lots of popcorn.

Note: Okay, you know the drill. Faith and Grace are back, with T and Ares living not far away. Now read on and don’t blame me if you feel the need to find the nearest ice cream parlor when you get done.

Send comments to asdease1@gte.net


Don’t Say The ‘V’ Word

By FlyBigD

"What’s this?" Xena picked up an envelope and handed it to Gabrielle.

Gabrielle checked the return address and sighed. "It’s from George at the University. It must be another stab at getting me back." Rolling her eyes, the bard tossed the envelope.

Xena leaned over the dining table and picked the envelope up again. This time she opened it and pulled out the letter.

"Are you reading my mail?" Frowning at the warrior, Gabrielle tried to grab the letter. "That’s a federal offense."

"So go call the cops." Smiling, Xena held the letter over her head and walked away chuckling.

Following her with her eyes, the bard let her go with a huff and went back to sorting through the day’s envelopes and flyers.

Sauntering over to the couch, Xena plopped down and read the letter. She’d always felt guilty that she’d been the reason Gabrielle had given up the professorship and read each of George’s attempts, as a form of self punishment. She also liked to imagine the look of pure frustration when they were always returned with a big fat no written across them in permanent ink. Moving her eyes from side to side, Xena read the letter and felt her forehead wrinkling. Going over the letter again, the furrows got deeper and she got up and went back to where Gabrielle was and handed her the letter. "Read this."

Gabrielle glanced at the letter and shook her head. "Just send it back, like the others."

"It’s not the usual ‘please come back’ letter." Holding the piece of paper in front of Gabrielle’s face, Xena dangled it. "He’s asking you to attend a symposium they’re having this summer on the ancient Greeks and how they impacted modern civilization."

Focusing her eyes, to readjust for the letter’s closeness, the bard leaned back a little and read the letter, as it hung in the air. Running her eyes over the words, Gabrielle took the letter and turned around, reading her way to the couch.

Xena followed behind her and looked over the bard’s shoulder. "Who are all those people listed?"

"It’s a who’s who of the world’s top historians on ancient Greek history." Gabrielle mumbled and chewed a fingernail. Finding the couch, she sat down and read the letter again. Checking the dates of the symposium, she switched to another fingernail and chewed nervously. "He wants me to be one of the keynote speakers and to head up a panel of historians that will address the university history department and anybody else that shows up."

"Sounds like fun." Sitting beside the bard, Xena put her arm on the back of the couch behind Gabrielle and leaned over, cocking her head to stare at the letter. "School will be out by then."

"I know, but . . . " Letting the thought hang, Gabrielle dropped the letter into her lap and sighed. "These guys are not pushovers." Poking the letter. "They know their stuff."

"Oh and you don’t?" Rolling her eyes, Xena smiled. "Gabrielle, you were there, remember? Cute little two piece outfits, staff, sai, surprise hair cut?" Chuckling, the warrior pulled at some short blonde hairs attached to the bard’s head, for emphasis. "They’re stuck with reading bits and pieces of rotting leather and oooing and ahhhing over vases we used to laugh at."

"That may be, but they still got a lot of information out of those little bits of rotting leather." Sighing again, Gabrielle laid her head back and closed her eyes. "Would you go with me?"

"Please. Just try to stop me." Leaning over, Xena kissed the bard’s cheek. "Besides, the campus has got a huge pool. I can work on my tan."

Opening her eyes, the bard raised one eyebrow and turned her head, running her eyes over the warrior. "Xena, if you get anymore tan, you’re going to have to change your designation of ethnic origin."

"You’re just jealous that you didn’t get the classic Greek olive complexion." Smiling, the warrior held out a tanned arm in front of Gabrielle’s face.

Gabrielle rolled her eyes and pushed the arm away. "Oh, like blue eyes are classic Greek." Chuckling she thumped Xena’s forehead. "I think we’ve both got some western European’s swimming in our gene pools. Between us the only one who really looks Greek is T and she’s Ungaran."

Staring down into green eyes, Xena nodded. "Ya got me there." Smiling, she picked up the letter and read it again. "So, do I need to start looking for my blow up horsey float, or is it hiking in the Pelopenese this year?"

"Let me think about it a couple of days." Closing her eyes again, Gabrielle smiled. "I don’t have to let George know until next week."

"Okay." Leaning forward, Xena dropped the letter on the coffee table and sat back. "So what’s for dinner?"

"I thought steaks would be good." T said, coming out of the kitchen. "I’m dying to try out that new grille."

"Where’s Ares?" Gabrielle said and lifted her head to look at T as she plopped down in a chair.

Slowly a big grin stretched across T’s face and she chuckled. "Resting."

"Is that all you ever do?" Xena asked contemptuously. "Don’t you have some kind of empire to run, or something, or anything other than doing the horizontal mambo with him?"

"Now who’s jealous." Chuckling, Gabrielle got up and headed for the kitchen. "That’s all we’d be doing if we didn’t have to work for a living." Throwing a sultry smile over her shoulder as she went. "Am I wrong?"

Xena watched Gabrielle’s butt disappear into the kitchen and sighed. "Nope." Turning to T, she switched to a scowl when her friend laughed out loud. "What are you laughing at? At least we come up for air once in a while."

"What do you think I’m doing now." Smiling big, T got up and moved to sit beside the warrior. "Now what’s this I heard about a blow up horsey float?"

"Have we been spying again?" Lifting her eyebrows, Xena gave T a scrupulous glare.

"Actually, I heard it while I was checking out what was in your frig." Smiling back.

"You know T, for someone who doesn’t have to eat to survive anymore, you sure do seem to be obsessed with food." Smirking, Xena watched T rub her tummy and laughed. "You’re giving Gabrielle a run for her money."

"Food is a wonderful thing, whether you need it or not." T smiled and folded her legs under her. "Besides, I’m still a predator at heart. To me, the only thing better than a nice rare steak is . . ." Flicking her eyebrows up and down, she laughed when Xena made an ugly face.

"Gag." Rolling her eyes, Xena shuddered. "To think I even came close to doing Ares, gives me the willies."

"You did Ares?" Gabrielle asked, as she came out of the kitchen with her hands on her hips.

Sighing, Xena shook her head. "I said the thought of coming close to doing Ares gives me the willies, not that I did Ares." Rolling her eyes, she slapped T’s shoulder and went around the couch to where Gabrielle stood. "You know you’re the only one for me." Smiling down, Xena put her arms through the bards and pulled her close. "Although, I did feel something."

"Get away from me." Pushing Xena away, Gabrielle glared at her. "For that, you get to chop the onions." Giving Xena a hearty slap on the butt, the bard went back into the kitchen.

Scowling, Xena rubbed her pained bottom and went back to the couch. "See what you started." Glaring at T, she sat down.

"Oh, sure. Blame the god." Throwing her hands in the air, T laughed. "Everybody else does."


Gabrielle sat at her desk and read the letter again. "Do I really want to do this?" Laying the paper aside, she leaned back in the chair and put her feet on the dark mahogany. Glancing out the window, she smiled, as she watched Xena and T pretend to wash her truck, which was really an excuse to have a water fight. Shaking her head, the bard leaned her head back and sighed. "Why can’t life be just that simple?"

"Cause you like challenges." Ares said from the doorway. Smiling, he walked over and stood in front of the window. Chuckling, he shook his head.

"I thought you were resting." Glancing up at him, Gabrielle smiled knowingly.

"I’m a god. I bounce back fast." Smirking, Ares turned to face her and leaned against the wall. "So, are you up to the challenge?" Shoving his hands in his pockets, he smiled.

"Which one?" Laughing, Gabrielle looked out the window again. "Xena or the symposium?"

"I think you’ve got the warrior princess pretty well under control." Turning his head, Ares saw Xena nail T with a bucket of sudzy water. "Although that may be a little premature."

The bard rolled her eyes and shook her head. "I gave up on trying to tame her years ago. Now I just go with the flow."

"And what about the symposium?" Turning back, Ares slid down the wall and sat on the floor beside the bard.

"I don’t know about that one." Glancing at the letter, she picked it up and handed it to Ares. "That list of participants is a little overwhelming."

Ares read the letter and nodded. "I know of most of these people. They’re always skulking around Greece and Macedonia."

"See, that’s part of the problem." Sighing, Gabrielle closed her eyes. "I haven’t been back home in so long, I’m not sure I can even remember where Potidea is."

"Phhhtttt." Ares gave her a raspberry and chuckled. "Gabrielle, you’ve got the entire Grecian history in this room and up in that little hide away. You don’t need to go back to Greece. You brought it here."

Smiling, Gabrielle opened her eyes and looked at him. "Since when did you get into giving pep talks?"

Smiling big, Ares flicked his brow several times. "I’m versatile."

Gabrielle laughed and shook her head. "And very flexible from what I hear."

"Eeerrrrnnnnt." Waving his finger at her, Ares shook his head. "Stop trying to change the subject." Handing the letter back, he stood up. "Now, are you going to go to that symposium and show them what Greek history is really all about, or am I going to have to call in the big guns?" Putting his hands on his hips, he nodded at the window with a smile.

"Okay. I give." Holding up her hands, Gabrielle dropped her feet to the floor. "Don’t call T. I’ll go."

"Good girl." Patting the bard’s shoulder, Ares left the library and walked around to where two soaked females were laughing their heads off. "Is this a private party?"

Turning, T smiled and lifted the water hose, nailing Ares in the chest.

"I guess that would be a no." He said and ran for cover.

Chuckling, Gabrielle continued to stare out the window and enjoyed the fun from the safety of the library. "Now if they could manage to actually get my truck wet, I’d be happy."


Having committed herself to the symposium, under mitigating circumstances, Gabrielle sent off a nice letter to George, informing him that she’d be attending and requesting more details, as to what her actual participation would include. Three days later she got a letter in the mailbox that was one page of drooling gratitude and four of tentative itinerary and what she was scheduled for. Going over the information, she promptly hunted down Ares and beat him senseless with the letter. Then she settled down and began the agonizing task of getting her butt in gear and brushing up on what she’d forgotten a thousand years prior. She also managed to dig out a dusty dirty horsey float from the attic.

It was during this time that she decided there was safety in numbers and forced Ares and T to agree to accompany her and Xena to the symposium. This, she accomplished, by listing off the times she had to interpose on their behalf way back when, with other gods and what not and she threw in the fact that every time Ares and T spent any quality time together, all the ice cream miraculously disappeared from her freezer. With that item marked off the list of things to do, she also used their services to go back to Greece and spent every weekend either roaming the country side, or in the Ungarn archives, finding little things that she thought would be useful for the symposium. She also tried to sneak her scrolls back, but got caught by T and used some copyright laws as her defense for wanting them back, but was finally forced to leave them behind or end up having to walk to the nearest airport and fly back to America.

Xena, who was left alone every weekend, because she was described as a fidgeting wiggle worm in places with large amounts of books, used her time to help, by organizing Gabrielle’s scheduling and grading papers. She was even entrusted to pack, with the stipulation that the ugly neon flower print shirt would not be seen while she was in the company of a certain bard, or anybody that looked important. So she stuffed it in with her bathing suit and her horsey float. She also found time to convince her brother that this trip did not equal an invasion by aliens and that he didn’t need to change the locks on his house. Then she told him that they had reserved a huge suite in a fancy hotel, way across town and that he would be arrested if she caught him trying to sneak into the pool, which got her a slap on the back of the head by the bard. She then amended the arrest rule and sweetly invited him and his whole family to spend as much time as they wanted at the pool. This was done as her ear was being tweaked from her head.

So, as the day to depart drew near, everyone geared up for what was not referred to as a vacation, due to the fact that it was tantamount with cursing the whole symposium into utter ruin and would probably end up getting someone killed. Remembering that every time the three women tried a vacation, something bad happened and there were distinct references to major blood loss and missing body parts. Ares was the only one who thought they were being superstitious, but kept his mouth shut on the matter and played along. He also was given instructions on the daily care of the house and was delegated the task of popping back everyday to feed the fish, water the plants and make sure Bud didn’t tear up the furniture. Thinking this was a snap, he was warned that dead fish equaled being cut off from certain sexual privileges and promptly started reading up on the proper care of tropical fish. He also read up on house plants, major appliance repair, plumbing and how to reupholster furniture, just in case.

T, who was the calmest participant by far, found the others quite amusing and spent many a happy hour sitting on the couch and watching everybody run around. Unfortunately, this didn’t last and she was forced to have a heart to heart with Bud, explaining that the hotel had strict rules about pets and that he’d have to stay home. Bud seemed to take this in stride and suddenly found the aquarium very interesting, which got him banned from the house and sent to his room in the cabin. Then T was given the task of not letting Xena get into trouble on the trip, which she found most amusing, until she found a sticky note on a gallon of her favorite ice cream, stating that if she knew what was good for her, she’d find a way to keep the warrior entertained and out of trouble. Taking this to heart, she started going over tourist brochures and calling every conceptual entertainment facility, finding out everything from the price of renting bowling shoes to what you had to do to go parachuting. The last was struck off the list of possibilities by Gabrielle, who put a limit on anything that required too much speed or going higher than she herself could jump, which eliminated all but five items on the list and sent T into a major panic. At last.

And so, the day finally came and as they made their way along the highway, Gabrielle checked her rearview mirror every five seconds, to keep an eye on the three Harleys following her. She also chewed her nails and almost went off the road, when she spent too much time staring at the radio, trying to find something to listen to. This got her pulled over by said Harleys and was forced to help load the bombshell into the back of her truck, so Xena could join her in the cab and help keep her mind on the road.

"Gabrielle?" Xena smiled and poked the bard in the shoulder.

"What?" Slapping Xena’s hand, Gabrielle gave her a quick annoyed glance.

"Why are you so nervous?" Hanging her arm out the window, the warrior leaned against the passenger door.

"I’m not nervous." Gabrielle stated a little to firmly, she realized and rolled her eyes.

Sighing, Xena unbuckled her seat belt and slid over to the center and buckled up again. "So they know their stuff." Smiling, she put her arm on the back of the seat, behind the bard. "You’ve been teaching history for longer than those bozo’s have been alive."

Resting her hand on Xena’s thigh, Gabrielle smiled. "You sure you don’t want to give my lecture?"

"Only if I can act out the juicy parts." Chuckling, Xena leaned into the bard.

"And which ones would those be?" Glancing in the mirror, the bard smiled. "The references to the Pelopenesian war or the sexual freedom of ancient Greek society?"

"Both. I can even combine them, if the stage is big enough." Giving Gabrielle a wicked grin, she flicked her eyebrows. "Wanna be my beautiful assistant?"

Laughing, Gabrielle had to grip the wheel with both hands to stay on the road. "Oh, that would make me the hit of the symposium. Until the police hauled us away." Laughing again, she returned one hand to the warrior’s thigh and rubbed it. "Thanks. I needed that."

"You’re welcome and the offer still stands. You just have to give me enough time to sharpen my sword and find some good sultry background music." Xena lowered her voice and turned to whisper in Gabrielle’s ear. "And, of course I’ll need some time to limber up." Smiling, she leaned in and started kissing the bard’s neck and felt a hand move up her thigh.

T pulled up beside the truck and honked her horn. Turning her head she frowned and shouted over the sound of the engine. "No necking while you’re driving. You’re a bad influence on other drivers." With that, she backed off and returned to following the truck.

"We’ve got to find a way to lose those two." Xena smirked and straightened in the seat.

Smiling, Gabrielle floored the accelerator and felt the big engine lunge the truck forward as the speedometer moved swiftly to the right. "Just give me a few minutes."

Laughing, Xena bobbed her head a couple of times, then looked over her shoulder and out the back window. "Damn."

"What?" Looking down at the speedometer, Gabrielle then moved her eyes to the rearview mirror and shoved the warrior out of the way, then shook her head. "Just how fast will those things go?" She said, astonished to see that the Harleys were still right behind her.

"Faster than this thing will, apparently." And her point was proven, when T blew by the truck and took the lead. "We’re trapped like rats." Sounding thoroughly disgusted.

Easing off on the accelerator, the bard got back down to a reasonable speed and sighed. "Yea. Horny rats."

Xena slid sideways away from Gabrielle laughing hysterically.


Once Xena had managed to stop laughing, they settled down into a comfortable pace and T moved back behind the truck, but kept an eye on the couple. As they came into the outskirts of the city, it quickly became apparent, that their little group was not the norm as they started getting some very curious stares from the locals. That was until they cruised onto the university campus, where anything out of the ordinary was welcomed and they even got a few power waves from students. Pulling into one parking lot, Gabrielle parked her truck in front of an old brick building and sighed when she shut off the engine.

"I’m going to go let George know I’m here." Gabrielle told Xena a little nervously. "And I want to see who’s arrived from the panel."

"Okay." Unbuckling her seat belt, Xena slid out on the driver’s side and jumped out. "We’ll just hang out here and wait for you."

Tucking the keys in her pocket, the bard gave the warrior a quick kiss, then walked up the sidewalk and disappeared inside the building.

T and Ares pulled into the spot next to the truck and shut off the engines. "She’s still nervous." T said, as she pulled off her helmet.

Nodding, Xena sighed. "I don’t know why, but yea."

"She’ll be all right." Leaning back, Ares propped his feet between the handlebars. "Once she get’s over the initial jitter thing, she’ll cruise into it."

T and Xena looked at him, then at each other. "Since when are you an expert on Gabrielle?" The warrior asked with an amused expression.

"Oh, please. I didn’t spend all those years watching you guys, picking my butt, ya know." Rolling his eyes. "Besides, anyone who could put up with you for so long has got to be either crazy or more than tough enough to stand up and yak in front of a bunch of pansy assed wanna be Greek yahoo’s."

Chuckling, T nodded. "He’s got a point there."

Xena growled and glared. "I’ll tell her you said so." Huffing, the warrior leaned against the truck and turned to watch the building. "You’d think that after being a bard for so long, that this would be a breeze for her. She doesn’t have any problems at school and she did a great job when she taught here." Turning back to T and Ares, Xena smiled. "Well I may be biased on that last one."

"I’m surprised she didn’t kick you out of that class a couple of times." Smiling, T moved to stand beside the warrior. "You weren’t the model student. Drooling and ogling her all the time."

"I got an A." Xena said defensively.

"Yea, in Greco-Roman history. That was a real stretch." Ares chuckled.

"And I had to study." Folding her arms across her chest, the warrior smiled sweetly. "What the world thinks is history is a crock. You should’ve read that text book. What a load of manure that is."

"Well, did it mention me?" Sitting up, Ares brushed off his shoulders.

"Like I said. What a load of manure." Chuckling at his scowl, Xena sobered and sighed.

"She’ll be fine." T spoke softly. "I think Ares is right. It’s just the jitters."

Taking that for a comfort, Xena glanced at the bombshell. "Wanna help me get her down?"

"You going to ride?" Pushing off the truck, T turned to look at the bike.

"Yea. I think I want to take the point through town." Moving to the tailgate, the warrior jumped into the back of the truck. "It’ll give her something to aim at."

Laughing, Ares put his helmet on the tank and moved to the truck. "Wouldn’t be the first time."

T slapped his arm and pointed to the far side. "Move." She instructed with a smile.

"I’m going. I’m going." Doing as he was told, he walked around the back of the truck and got inside the bed. Unhooking the straps, Ares took his position straddling the front tire. "Ready?"

Moving to the back of the truck, T took hold of the rear frame and nodded. "Ready when you are." Lifting the rear tire up, she walked back slowly, holding the bike in the air.

Xena hopped out of the truck and went to the back. "Let her down easy."

Rolling his eyes, Ares leaned over and lowered the front end slowly to the ground. When the bombshell was steady, he let go and stood, putting his hands on his hips. "How’d you get this thing in and out, before we came along?" Looking pointedly at the warrior.

"I’ve got a ramp at home." Shrugging, Xena put the kickstand down and smiled. "I didn’t think I was going to need it, this trip."

"Figures." Muttering, he jumped out of the truck and put up the tail gate.

"Poor baby." T cooed and moved behind him. Wrapping her arms around his waist, she leaned up and kissed his cheek. "Did you strain anything?’

Leaning back, Ares smiled over his shoulder. "Nothing important."

"Oh, look. I’m puking now." Putting a finger in her mouth, the warrior gagged.

"Excuse me." Said a man, who walked over to them. "Is this the Johnston building?"

Xena took her finger out of her mouth and nodded. "That’s it." Pointing to the building Gabrielle had gone into.

Smiling, the man gave her the once over. "Thank you." Nodding, he stepped to the sidewalk then turned around. "Are you here for the symposium?"

"Yes." Xena informed him with a grin and stood up straight. "Why?"

"Just wondering." Smiling again, the man turned and left.

Frowning, the warrior turned to T. "Who is he?"

T watched the man a moment then smiled. "Robert Francis Richards. Age thirty-seven, single, no dependents and lives in Portland, Oregon with two dogs. Parents live in Washington state. He has two sisters. Mary and Teresa, both married with children. His parents put him through Harvard, hoping he’d become a lawyer, but he dropped out of the law program half way through his first term and switched majors. He holds two doctorates. One in Greek history, the other in anthropology. He’s one of the members of the panel."

"Grrrrrrr." Growling, the warrior glared at the building.

"And he also has a fear of heights, loves sushi, builds model airplanes for a hobby and thinks you look like white trash." T finished with a little smile. "Although he thinks Ares and I are twins."

"Twins?" Ares turned around and stared at her. "I didn’t get that."

"I just threw that one in for fun." Smirking, T gave him a quick kiss. "He’s supposed to be one of the foremost authorities on Greek history, or at least that’s what he thinks anyway."

"I think I’m going to be spending a lot more time at this symposium than I thought." Folding her arms across her chest, Xena saw the bard come out of the building. "What’s he think about Gabrielle?"

"Well, they’ve met on several occasions, for professional reasons and he’s asked her out each time and was turned down each time and seems to hold a little crush/grudge towards her, which accounts for his belief that she’s beneath his level academically and also explains why he thinks she has a cute butt." Shrugging, T smiled. "He’s you basic pinhead."

"Hey!" Gabrielle smiled and waved a manila packet in the air. "I’ve got good news."

Xena continued to fume and gritted her teeth.

"What’s the matter with you?" Coming up the warrior, Gabrielle gave her a worried stare.

"Robert Francis Richards." T answered and moved to lean on the side of the truck. "He gave Xena a dirty look."

"Oh, that pinhead." Rolling her eyes, Gabrielle smiled. "I just ran into him in the hall. What a goober. He still hasn’t gotten over the fact that I don’t think he’s gods gift to women."

"I think I’ll leave the character analysis to Gabrielle from now on." T chuckled.

Suddenly Xena’s anger started to slip and she smiled. "Have I told you lately, that you are the most beautiful and talented and intelligent woman I’ve ever met and had the good fortune to have love me?"

Stepping back, Gabrielle changed from a worried stare to stunned. "Where did that come from?"

"T gave Xena a rundown on him when he gave her an attitude and she was on the verge of going warrior princess on him, when she found out he has a crush on you." Ares related the information with a big grin. "I think you just made her day."

Laughing, Gabrielle turned to point at the building. "Oh, tell me you weren’t jealous of him. Give me some credit, will ya, or at least the benefit of the doubt when it comes to taste."

Xena shook her head and smiled. "Sorry. He just made me mad." Sighing, she wrapped her arm around the bard’s shoulder. "So what was the good news?"

Smacking her with the packet, Gabrielle smiled up at the warrior. "We’ve got two whole days before I’ve got to give my lecture. They pushed everything back because a water pipe burst in the auditorium yesterday. They’ve got to get it cleaned and replace some of the seats and the carpet." Wrapping her arm around Xena’s waist, she tossed the packet in the window of the truck. "George says it stinks like wet dirty socks in there."

"Great." T frowned. "Now I’ve got two more days to keep her out of trouble."

"Hey!" Xena scowled and tried to get her hands on T, but was held by a laughing bard.

"I think I can take care of that for now, but we’ve still got the dinner tomorrow night." Gabrielle smirked gave Xena’s butt a good rub.

Slowly a smile crept onto Xena’s face and she flicked her brow. "Oooo."

Spotting the bombshell, Gabrielle looked up at the warrior. "Are you riding?"

"In more ways than one." Laughing wickedly, Xena pulled her helmet out of the truck, while Gabrielle turned beet red. "Saddle up!"

"I guess that’s our cue to find somewhere else to be." Ares smirked.

"Faith!" Robert yelled, as he came out of the building. "A moment please."

Suddenly, Xena’s good mood went sour and she turned to glare at him.

"Easy, girl." T whispered and stepped beside Xena. "Let Gabrielle do the talking."

Gabrielle sighed before she turned around and put her hands on her hips. "Yes, Bob."

Smiling, Bob sauntered up and glanced at the three leather clad people staring at him, before he focused on the bard. "Faith, I was wondering what your plans were this evening."

T took hold of Xena’s arm, holding her back.

"Actually, I’m spending the evening with my wife." Smiling, Gabrielle enjoyed his expression and felt the need to add a little more. "Isn’t that right, honey?" Turning, she took Xena’s hand and pulled her to her side. "Bob, have you met my wife?"

"No." He said with an angry tone. "I haven’t had the pleasure."

"Grace, this is Bob. Bob, this is Dr. Grace Morgan, my wife." Gabrielle said cheerily and waved one hand between the two and patted Xena’s butt with the other, which got muffled chuckles from T and Ares.

"Howdy." Xena said with a grin and stuck her hand out.

Bob gritted his teeth and shook the warrior’s hand. "It’s nice to meet you."

"Oh, I doubt that." Ares whispered.

"The pleasure's all mine." Xena said smoothly and gave his hand a hard squeeze.

Jerking his hand back, Bob glared at the warrior, then at the bard. "I guess I’ll see you at the dinner tomorrow?"

"Oh, yea. We’ll be there." Smiling wickedly, Xena put her arm around Gabrielle’s shoulder. "With bells on."

"Happy to hear it. I’ll see you then." Sneering, Bob turned and left and was followed for some ways by roaring laughter.

"Oh my god." Gabrielle smiled and wiped the tears from her eyes. "That was priceless."

"I think he likes me." Straightening, Xena looked triumphant.

"I think he’d like to kick you." Ares slapped the warrior on the back. "That was good, Xena. Did you break his hand?"

"No, he was too quick." Flicking her eyebrows. "But I think he got the point."

T pushed off the truck and smiled. "Does anybody want to know what he’s thinking?"

"I don’t think we need you for that one, T." Gabrielle smiled and wrapped her arms around Xena’s waist. "Thanks, Xena."

"For what?" Looking down at the bard, Xena saw a little twinkle in the green.

"Just being you." Laying her head against the warrior’s shoulder, Gabrielle hugged her.

"You’re welcome." Smiling, Xena kissed the top of Gabrielle’s head and hugged her back.


"Gabrielle, when you said you didn’t want to get there too early, did you mean we’d arrive as they were taking the dirty dishes away?" Staring at the closed bathroom door, Xena stood, hands on hips, with an exasperated expression.

"I want to look perfect." Came a muffled reply from Gabrielle.

"You’d look perfect in a bunny outfit, now get your butt out here!" Xena shouted and banged on the door. Growling, she moved away and walked a small circle, then checked her watch. "Geez." Rolling her eyes, she shook her head, then went to the next problem case. Taking another exasperated stance, she banged on the door that led to T and Ares room. "Come on, people. You’re gods for Zeus’ sake. How long can it take you to get dressed?" Giving the door another shot, she tried the door knob and felt that it was locked. "If I start hearing moaning in there, I’m calling the police."

"Xena." Gabrielle said softly, as she came out of the bathroom. Putting an earing on, she smiled when the warrior turned and her face dropped. Standing up straight, she turned slowly and held out her arms. "How do I look?"

"Mftpsitopaijgperfect." Managing to make the last come out without spitting drool. "Gods, Gabrielle, you’re beautiful." The object of her loss of salivary control, was a bard, dressed in a full length dark green satin strapless dress, that was cut so low in the front, the warrior thought she was going to pass out and the way it hugged Gabrielle’s body made her knees weak. "Oh my."

Chuckling, the bard put her hands on her hips and gave Xena a once over. "Where did you get that dress?" Taking in the full length dark blue silk dress and it’s slit that went up a tanned leg to Xena’s thigh. "That’s gorgeous."

Tossing a thumb over her shoulder, the warrior smiled a crooked smile. "T. She knows I hate to shop."

"I love it. It makes your eyes sparkle." Whispering, Gabrielle took several steps closer and twirled her finger.

Doing her thing, Xena held out her arms and as her back went to the bard, she heard a gasp and smiled.

"Oh lord." Fanning herself, Gabrielle stared at a tanned back where dress should’ve been. "It’s gonna be a long night." Recovering slightly, she stepped to the warrior and held her breath. "Who . . . who . . . put your hair up?"

Xena smiled and put another thumb over her shoulder.

"For this, T can have all the ice cream she wants." Smiling, Gabrielle ran her hand over the silk. "And I’ll buy her a cow."

"Did I hear the words ice cream?" T said from the doorway.

Turning, Xena again dropped her jaw and felt the bard grab her arm. As there eyes popped out, they moved them up and down. Before them, T stood in a full length black velvet sleeveless dress that was also split up one side and showed every curve and, Xena noted a more than ample amount of cleavage. Her hair was up, like the warrior’s and she had a thin golden necklace with a tiger head on it. Her arms, were bare and Gabrielle noticed her muscles flexing.

Standing in doorway, T smiled and nodded. "You like?"

"Heaven help us." Xena whispered.

"Well, I know I like it." Ares chimed in and moved to stand behind T.

"Ares?" Gabrielle gasped at the God of War.

"The one and only." Smiling smugly, he moved past T and spun around. "Nice tux, huh?" Stopping he took in the bard and warrior. "Ooooo. Now that’s what I call a true vision of beauty. You two look drop dead gorgeous."

Gabrielle shook her head and took another look at the black silk double breasted tux. "And you look . . ." Raising her eyebrows, she chuckled. "Absolutely incredible."

"Why thank you, madam." Bowing, Ares smiled.

"Now, where’s the ice cream?" T smirked and pinched Ares’ butt.

"Ow." Bolting upright, Ares glared over his shoulder, then he smiled after a moment, when the hand that had pinched him stayed put.

"Yea, I think we need to go." Shaking her head, Xena came back to normal and smiled. "Before they take the main course away."

Gabrielle rolled her eyes. "Let me get my purse and I’ll be ready."

"Grab mine too." Xena smiled and watched the dark green dress walk away.

Laughing, Ares tugged at his collar. "I wonder what Bob will have to say now?"

"If he’s smart. Not a damn thing." T chuckled and laced her arm through Ares’.

"Ooooo." Ares shivered and smiled. "I do love strong women."

"Here." Handing Xena her purse, Gabrielle walked to the door and smiled. "Shall we?"

"Saddle up!" Smiling big, Xena walked out the door, but not before she gave Gabrielle a pat on the fanny.


"All I’m saying, is that Brian could have at least taken the toys out of the car before he gave it to us." Xena grumbled as they walked up the sidewalk to the large dining hall.

"So you sat on a squeaky toy, get over it." T muttered and rolled her eyes. "No body thought you farted."

"I did." Gabrielle laughed and got a steely stare. "Ooooo. I’m scared."

"You’re lucky you’ve got the keys, or else your little butt would be walking back to the hotel, missy." Xena growled and huffed.

T and Ares chuckled and bit their tongues.

As they came up to the doors, Gabrielle took a deep breath and turned to give them a serious look. "Remember, no nose picking, no butt picking, no belching, no food fights and no blood bath. Right?"

Three heads nodded and smiled. "Right."

"Good." Turning back, the bard opened the door and stepped inside. Holding the door, she waited until everyone was thru, then moved to Xena’s side.

"Thank the gods I’m not over dressed." Xena whispered, as she scanned the large room.

"I think you’d qualify as under dressed from where I’m standing." Ares smiled and got an elbow in his ribs.

Gabrielle ignored them and sighed. Looking around she spotted several people she knew and several she didn’t like and a whole lot of people she’d only seen on the back of books.

T took the little break to do a mental scan and smiled. "No terrorists, or maniacs." She whispered to Ares.

"No, just a bard, a warrior and two gods." Whispering back, he smiled and took her hand.

"Faith!" Waving, George smiled and weaved his way through the crowd.

Smiling, Gabrielle waved back and gave the warrior a glance. "Let the party begin."

Xena snickered and put her hand on Gabrielle’s back.

"Faith, it’s so good to see you." Reaching them, George smiled big. "And don’t you just look absolutely gorgeous."

"Thank you, George, you look pretty good yourself." Wrapping an arm around the warrior’s back, Gabrielle pulled her close.

"You mean for an over aged, over weight, balding administrator. Yes, I do, thank you." Chuckling, George smiled at the warrior. "And Grace, how have you been? Are you fully recovered?"

"Well, that’s a matter of opinion, but I’m back up to snuff." Xena smiled and thumped her head.

Laughing, George knocked his own head. "I wonder about mine sometimes." Looking past the couple, he saw T and Ares and smiled. "And are these your friends?"

"Oh, yes." Turning, Gabrielle pulled T forward and smiled. "George, this is T."

"T? Well, that’s unusual." Extending his hand, he smiled. "Simple and I like it."

Nodding, T shook his hand. "It makes life less complicated."

"And what do you do, T? Are you a doctor as well?" Not missing a beat, George ran his eyes over T with great appreciation.

"No, I’m in the protection business." Smirking, T gave the bard a wink.

"Yes, I can see where you’d be good at that." George grinned big and poked T’s bicep.

Xena rolled her eyes and shook her head. "And that’s . . . "

"Ares." Ares said in a low smooth polished voice.

"As in the God of War? How interesting." George shook his hand and smiled. "And what business are you in?"

Wrapping his arms around T’s waist, Ares rested his chin on her shoulder. "I’m her luuuuv slave."

"Oh my god." Gabrielle gasped and used one hand to cover her mouth and the other to cover her eyes, as she turned away and fought back hysterical laughter.

Xena closed her eyes and covered her mouth.

T lowered her head and shook it slowly.

"Oh, my." Patting his chest, George leaned close to T. "Tell me, are there any current openings for that position?"

"George!" Gabrielle snapped her head around, as her mouth dropped open.

Lifting her head, T smiled and chuckled. "Well, ya know. I think there just might be an opening up very very soon."

"Reaaalllllyyyy." Smirking, George leaned back. "Catch me later, I’ll give you my resume’"

Xena laughed out loud and bent over.

"George, I’m finding your wife this instant." Gabrielle waggled a finger at him, but couldn’t hide the smile on her face.

Laughing, he shook his head. "Go ahead. She’s been trying to get rid of me for years."

Gabrielle covered her eyes again and shook her head.

"Now, come on Faith. I want to hear all about what you did to Bob, the other day." Holding his arm to her, George smiled. "And I’ve got a lot of people who are dying to meet you."

Taking Xena’s hand, the bard slipped her other one through George’s arm and smiled.

"I bet one of them’s not Bob." Xena smirked over her shoulder as she was led away.

Smiling, T changed her nails to claws and ran them over Ares’ cheek. "Come on, slave."

"Right behind ya." Ares chuckled.

The evening progressed and the dinner was served. During that time, the ‘thank you for coming and it’s going to be a great symposium’ speech was given by George and he introduced the lecturer’s and the panel members, which included Gabrielle and Bob. He also listed off a basic itinerary and then dismissed everyone, who started to mingle and broke up into groups to talk about the symposium and all sorts of things.

Somewhere in the throng, Xena managed to shake George and left the bard to mingle. She also found T, alone and leaning against a wall, with an amused look on her face. "What’s so funny?"

"Them." Taking a sip of her milk, T used one finger to point at the crowd.

"Well, other than the obvious, what’s so funny?" Leaning beside T, Xena scanned the crowd.

"These people have devoted their lives to the study of Greek history and half of them couldn’t recognize a real Greek if they sat on their face." T grimaced and finished off her milk.

Laughing, the warrior rolled her eyes. "And what about the other half?"

"They actually know their stuff." Pointing, T indicated a small group half way across the room. "That’s where the true knowledge lies. They’re completely obsessed."

Standing on her toes, Xena followed T’s arm and found the group and smiled. "Does the obsessed include Gabrielle?" Smirking at the blonde head she could barely see.

"No. She is Greek history." Turning to the warrior, T smirked. "The only thing she’s obsessed with is you."

Xena felt her face turning red and dropped back down. "You enjoy making me blush, don’t you?"

"It’s one of life's little pleasures." Moving closer to the warrior, T propped her elbow on Xena’s shoulder.

Folding her arms across her chest, the warrior smiled. "So where’s Bob? I’ve been trying to find him for an hour. Did you know he’s been telling everybody that Gabrielle was so devastated that she couldn’t have him that that’s why she switched?"

"Yes, that’s why he had an unfortunate encounter with a large glass of wine and left." Smiling wickedly, T glanced to where Ares was standing. "I believe he may have also been surprised to find that his car had been reported stolen and was not happy when he was detained by some very nice police officers, who found his amazement that his wallet was no longer in his possession a very sad excuse and thought he needed to be taken to headquarters for further questioning."

"Ooooo. Who’s idea was that?" Bobbing her head in pure joy, Xena patted T on the shoulder and rubbed her hands together, with the images she was having.

"The wine was mine, Ares did the rest." Point in his direction.

Smiling, Xena waved at Ares. "I guess it’s not so bad having him around, after all."

Hearing this, Ares took his cue and strutted over. "You’re welcome and it was definitely a pleasure." Giving T a kiss, he smirked at the warrior. "I got pictures, too."

"Okay, okay. You can stay." Shoving him out of the way, Xena spotted Gabrielle coming towards them. "Ssshhhhh. Don’t tell her anything. She’ll be pissed."

"And she’ll think you had something to do with it." T chuckled and pushed off the wall.

"What did you do to Bob?" Gabrielle asked, when she got close. "And don’t give me those innocent looks. I know an ambush when I see one." Putting her hands on her hips, she gave them each a steady glare. "Who had him arrested?"

T and Ares pointed at Xena. "She did."

"Aaaahhhh." Slapping the accusing hands down, Xena looked aghast. "It was them." Doing her own pointing. "I just wanted to kill him."

"Hmmmm." Giving them a dissatisfied shake of the head, Gabrielle sighed. "Well, thanks to your little plot, George is pulling what little hair he has left, out. He’s down at the police station right now, vouching for Bob."

"And I liked George." Ares muttered.

"We never promised to play nice." T smiled and rubbed her ear.

"Yea, well that’s officially on the list now, so leave him alone." Tucking her purse under her arm, she grabbed Xena’s hand. "Bob is a pinhead and everybody here knows that. I don’t need you torturing him because he’s an idiot, okay?" Staring up at Xena with a serious face.

"Okay." Rolling her eyes, Xena sighed.

Turning to the gods, Gabrielle rolled her eyes. "I know you’re a little on the over protective side, but can you please refrain from anymore anonymous phone calls and just let me handle Bob?"

"As long as he minds his manners and doesn’t do anything stupid, it would be my pleasure." Nodding in agreement, T looked at Ares.

"Okay, but what am I supposed to do with this?" Smiling, Ares pulled out Bob’s wallet.

Gabrielle covered her eyes and shook her head. "Put it some place he can find it. Like his hotel room and not in the toilet." Lowering her hand, she rolled her eyes. "Put it on the nightstand, in plain sight."

Shrugging, Ares tossed it and it disappeared. "Done."

Sighing, Gabrielle started to walk away, then she stopped and glanced up at the ceiling and closed her eyes. "Ares, put everything you took out of it back in it, too."

Chucking, T and Xena saw the aggravated look on Ares’ face.

"Damn, she’s good." Muttering to himself, Ares followed behind the three women as they walked away. Then he smiled and dropped Bob’s keys on the floor and kicked them under a table.


Xena stared at her horsey float, then checked her watch and chewed the inside of her bottom lip. Thinking of what she wanted to do, the warrior sat down on the bed and drummed her fingers on the flowered throw. "Pool, symposium. Fun, boring. Horsey float, Gabrielle." Shrugging, she went to the dresser and pulled out a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. Slipping them over her bathing suit, she found her boots and put them on. Walking back to the dresser, she took a look at herself in the mirror, then picked up a brush and ran it through her hair. Smiling, Xena tossed the brush and glanced around the room, until she spotted her leather jacket. "Saddle up!" Chuckling to herself, she slipped it on and stretched. "Now all I have to do is get past T." Smirking, she tip toed to the door that adjoined their room and listened. "Geez. What a big surprise. Their resting again." Shaking her head, she picked up her keys and crept out of her room quietly and went down the hall. Opting for the stairs, she bounded downward and started to whistle. When she reached the bottom floor, she checked through the window in the door, then stepped out into the lobby.

"Going somewhere?" T asked from behind the open door.

Growling, Xena closed the door and rolled her eyes. "Why don’t you just put a leash on me? That way I won’t waste my time sneaking around."

"You can use the practice." Smiling, T gave her a satisfied grin. "You sneak like a Rhino on rice crispies." Chuckling at Xena’s scowl, she grabbed the warrior’s arm and pulled her toward the main exit doors.

"What is it today? Putt putt golf?" Xena sighed and went along with minimal struggle.

"No. We’re going to meet Ares at the auditorium." Feeling a tug, T stopped and turned around. "What?"

"Who’s snoring in your room?" Giving T a perplexed look

"Bud." Glancing around suspiciously, T smiled. "When Ares went home yesterday, Bud attached himself to his leg and wouldn’t let go; so Ares popped back with him."

"So what happens when the maid comes in to change the sheets?" Smiling at the thought of someone finding a tiger in one of the rooms.

"We put the ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door." Giving the warrior a flick of the eyebrows.

"Did you ever take it off your door?" Xena smiled smugly.

"Ha ha. Come on." Pulling the warrior again, T led her to the parking lot and over to their bikes. "We’ll have to hurry, if we want to get good seats. Gabrielle said, George thinks there’s going to be quite a crowd for the panel." Rolling her hair up, she tucked it into her helmet and watched the warrior do the same.

"Isn’t Ares saving us seats?" Strapping her helmet on, Xena pulled out her keys and got on the bombshell.

"No, he’s getting refreshments." Hopping on the black monster, T flipped up the kickstand.

"Refreshments?" Flipping out the kick start, Xena put on her sunglasses.

"Hot dogs, popcorn, drinks and Milk Duds." Smirking, T put her key in and turned it to on.

"What no ice cream?" Turning her key to on, the warrior waited.

"The drinks are root beer floats." Smiling, T flipped out the kick start and put on her sun glasses. Giving the starter a kick, she stroked the throttle, when the engine turned over.

Shaking her head, Xena started the bombshell and followed T out of the hotel parking lot. When they got to the campus, she realized that George was right, when they cruised through a crowed parking lot and T finally decided that bicycle parking should be given a broader definition and they parked on the grass by the bike rack . As they entered the building, they spotted Ares immediately because everybody going in was pointing to him and shaking their heads.

"What did you do? Knock over a movie theater and a Dairy Queen?" Taking some of the items, Xena wondered if there was any popcorn left in the state.

"I just took into consideration how long we’d be in there." Smiling, Ares handed T the floats. "I got yours with whipped cream on top."

"Ooooo." Giving him a kiss, T sucked on a straw.

"You two are ruining the whole biker image, ya know that?" Xena smirked and nodded to the inner doors. "Let’s get in there, so we can make faces at Gabrielle."

"After you." T smiled and continued to consume her float.

Inside, they were again stared at and ignored everyone, as they made their way to the front, then across the front of the stage and up the other aisle. "Well this sucks." Xena sighed, when the only empty seats together were found near the back. Slumping her shoulders, she shrugged at T, who winked.

"Hold this." Smiling, T handed Xena her float and turned to stare toward the front of the auditorium. Closing her eyes, she raised one eyebrow and then grimaced.

Xena watched the audience and stared when it got fuzzy then shifted and reformed. Blinking, she tried to detect the difference. "What did you do?" Handing the float back.

"Shifted some people around, then made them think they’d been sitting where I put them all along." Smiling, she nodded towards the front. "Come on, before somebody gets our seats."

Hot footing it to the front, they just beat out some coeds who’d thought they’d won the lottery and were forced to start their search over. Snickering, they plopped down and spread the food out. By this time, T had reached the bottom of her float and made slurping noises until she wanted more and refilled it. As the panel came out, Xena spotted Gabrielle and waved her to come to the front.

"We got you something." Smiling, Xena handed Gabrielle a root beer float. "Want a hot dog, or some pop corn? We have Milk Duds"

Staring at the cup, the bard looked past the warrior and closed her eyes. "Tell me you’re not going to make trouble. Please, tell me you’re not going to make trouble."

"Gabrielle, I’m shocked." Putting her hands on her hips, Xena looked insulted. "We just got some snacks." Leaning closer to the bard, the warrior dropped her voice. "It was T’s idea."

Opening her eyes, Gabrielle glanced at T and Ares, who looked completely contented and waved at her. Sighing, she glanced back at Xena. "Just promise me you won’t throw anything."

"Promise." Flicking her eyebrows, Xena smiled and winked. "I believe in you Gabrielle."

Smiling back, the bard bent down and gave Xena a gentle kiss. "I love you."

"I love you too." Growling, the warrior nodded at Bob. "Go get ‘em. Grrrrrrr."

Chuckling, Gabrielle stood up and went to her place on the panel and sipped her float, then fought off choking to death when the trio started making faces. Laughing, she saw Bob glaring at her from the other table and held up her cup in salute, then went back to ignoring him and enjoying the show going on in the front row.

After the initial introductions, by George, each panel member gave a brief summary of what they considered was the biggest impact the Greeks made on modern civilization. Then they spent the next two hours discussing and arguing those opinions and T had to forcibly restrain Xena, when it became apparent that Bob intended to do his darndest to subvert Gabrielle’s opinions and try to make her look like she didn’t know anything. Thankfully, the bard kept her cool and simply proved him wrong. She also slurped while he was trying to make a serious point and eventually got a refill from T, after Bob had broken his pencil in frustration.

It was shortly after this little incident that someone on the panel brought up the latest discovery from Greece and started a conversation on the possibility of a lost race that had resided in southern Greece and was believed to be made up of an even older culture, that was starting to be linked with other finds around the world. It was also then that Gabrielle made a huge mistake and innocently corrected the person who labeled the race as the Agala and actually let the word Ungara come out of her mouth. This got her a very heated stare from the front row and a barrage of inquiries from the other panelist, as to the extent of her knowledge of this discovery. As she fielded the questions, without actually telling them anything they didn’t already know, the bard wondered what Michael was up to these days and started making a list of things she needed to do before T killed her.

Then came the intermission and Xena hauled T to the restroom, so she wouldn’t have to wait in line and so the King wouldn’t kill Gabrielle and T suspended time while the warrior did her thing. That taken care of, the pair returned to their seats and spotted someone setting up a microphone near the stage and started giving each other very wicked smiles and whispering. Unfortunately, Gabrielle picked up on their activities and again came to the front of the stage, first to apologize to T for the slip up and then to put her foot down on them hogging the mic and asking trick questions. She also picked up two hot dogs and a box of Milk Duds.

Once everybody was settled back into their seats, George announced that it was time for the panelists to field questions from the audience and that everybody was welcomed to come up to the mic and give their name and ask a brief question. Keeping an eye on the bard, Xena and T listened as the line formed and the panel spread their knowledge and a few other things over the assumed ignorant masses. Several of the panelists started getting more questions than the others and it quickly became apparent, that the audience had picked up on the fact that Gabrielle and Bob were a) the most knowledgeable and b) didn’t like each other, which turned the question and answer portion into something that resembled a sparring match.

It was also observed, by the trio in the front row, that Bob was very set in his opinions about the Olympian gods and gods in general, when he continued to interrupt the other panelists, to shoot down questions about the possibility of their existence and stated that if they made any contribution at all, it was merely as entertainment. This was when Gabrielle saw Ares get up and move to the back of the line and she hung her head and began praying for an earthquake, fire, flood or anything else that would bring the end of the world as a whole, before the God of War got to the mic.

"Hi, my name is Ares and I have a question for Faith." Ares said calmly and gave the bard a smile and listened to the murmurs behind him.

Gabrielle sighed and leaned forward, giving Ares a look of utter dismay. "Yes. What’s your question?" She spoke softly into the mic in front of her.

"I’ve been listening to what Bob has to say about the Olympian gods and I was just wondering what your opinion was and whether or not you agreed with him?" Stepping back, Ares clasped his hands behind his back and smiled.

Chuckling, Gabrielle shook her head and smiled at Ares. "Well, thank you for your question and to answer it, no, I don’t agree with Bob. It’s my opinion that the Olympians were not merely a delusion of the Greeks and that they really did and do exist, even today. I also believe that their contributions to modern civilization can be seen in the world around us as we continue to refer to them in the things we do. Aphrodite is still revered as the Goddess of Love and Ares as the God of War." Nodding to him with a smile. "As the Greeks believed, so they brought that belief into their daily life and therefore the Olympians influenced modern civilization by linking a scattered and patch worked people into a concrete foundation for what has been referred to as the first truly enlightened civilization. The Greeks were the first to look beyond what was obvious and use their minds in the search of the meaning of their existence and put an order to the heavens. They left us a legacy of thought and imagination and the desire to look inside ourselves for the answers to what life is and to not take what is considered written in stone as being written in stone. Though the Greeks eventually turned from their gods, to a belief in themselves, the Olympians remained a source of inspiration for them because as time has proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, no matter how self sufficient we become in this technological age, we still continue to search our souls and reach out for a higher power that gives us a sense of being more significant than merely a blurb on the pages of history."

Bob burst out laughing and slapped the table. "Are you really trying to make us believe that the Olympians are still running around?" Shaking his head in mirth, he stared at the bard. "You’ve been reading those high school text books for too long, Faith, because anyone out there can tell you that every civilization has their myths and that’s just what the Olympians were. Myths that the Greeks conjured up to give them warm fuzzies and never got anything more out of it than a lot of wasted offerings to lifeless statues."

Gabrielle smirked and rolled her eyes. "Tell me something, Bob. Are you naturally stupid or do you have to take medication that makes you look like an ass, because as far as I can tell, the only person in this room that thinks you’re even slightly intelligent, is you."

Xena stood up and started clapping, giving Gabrielle several hoots of encouragement and was quickly pulled back down by T, who was keeping a close eye on Bob.

Fuming, Bob glared out at the audience when they started laughing. Then he turned his eyes back to the bard and clenched his jaw. "You’re the one who’s making themselves look like a fool, Faith. You sit there and spew irrelevant garbage, while the rest of us base our opinions on facts, not sentimental hearsay."

"Um. Excuse me." Ares said and tapped the mic, to get everyone’s attention.

"What?" Bob snapped and glared down to the man at the microphone.

Smiling, Ares stroked his beard. "I believe that Faith may have been influenced in her opinion by sentiment, seeing that she actually does have feelings." Giving the bard a wink. "However, I was wondering if you could explain what this is?" Reaching inside his jacket, Ares pulled out a scroll and held it up. "I found it outside Corinth on vacation a couple of years ago and haven’t been able to make heads or tails out of it."

Gabrielle took one look at the scroll then glanced down at T and Xena, who shrugged and shook their heads. Holding her breath, she watched Bob go to the front of the stage and take the scroll. "Oh, please don’t let that be what I think it is." Whispering, she covered her mouth and closed her eyes.

Bob moved back to his table and sat down. Unrolling the scroll slowly, he ran his eyes across the writing and felt his forehead wrinkle. "Well, I believe it’s Greek in origin, although the language isn’t the standard and the phrasing is completely out of the ordinary." Looking up, he saw everybody staring at him and felt a little blush.

"You can’t read it?" Ares asked casually.

"Uhh." Glancing back down, Bob felt the pressure and studied the words. "Oh, yes. I can see it now. It’s a copy of Aristotle’s story of Socrates’ death." Nodding, he rolled up the scroll. "Clearly it was written long after both had passed and must’ve been done by someone who didn’t have a complete knowledge of the ancient Greek language. It’s not of any great value or significance." Rolling up the scroll, he smiled smugly and got up, returning it to Ares.

"Hmmm." Taking the scroll back, Ares tapped his chest with it and moved his eyes to where Gabrielle was staring at him wide eyed and subtly shaking her head. "Faith, I’d appreciate it if you’d give it a shot. I mean there’s nothing really wrong with getting a second opinion, right?"

Xena watched Gabrielle bite her lip and she smiled and nodded when the bard looked at her. "Go on." She mouthed and winked.

Sighing, Gabrielle got up and walked to the front of the stage. Squatting down, she took the scroll and glared at Ares’ smile. "You’ll pay for this." Whispering, she got up and went back to her table and sat down. Glancing at Bob, she saw his smug smile and shook her head, then unrolled the scroll and looked down at it. Then she shot her eyes to Ares and caught a wicked glint in his expression. Closing her eyes, she lowered her head.

"Is there a problem, Faith?" Bob smiled and gave her a questions stare. "It shouldn’t be difficult, even for you."

With that Bob sealed his fate as Gabrielle opened her eyes and started reading. "Ten Little Warlords. I sing of the undying friendship of warrior and bard and of the the fate of mortals faced with the knowledge of their dependence on the gods for their own morality. Kneeling beside the bard, Xena tapped the sleeping form of her friend. ‘Gabrielle, wake up.’ Coming awake Gabrielle looked into the face of Callisto and sat up quickly, startled by the sight. ‘It’s all right. It’s me.’ Xena said softly. Sighing, the bard got to her feet and stared. ‘Xena, you know I don’t know if I’m gonna get used to this.’ Resting on her staff, Gabrielle shook her head. ‘It’s so weird having your best friend in the body of your worst enemy.’ Frowning, she scratched her chin. ‘Can you dye your hair?’ ‘Shh.’ Xena whispered and grabbed Gabrielle’s arm pulling her into the bushes. ‘Hey! It was only a suggestion.’ The bard muttered . . ."

Xena and T exchanged a smile, as they listened. Hearing Gabrielle’s voice take on a rhythm and express the emotions of the characters in the scroll, raising from shouts to whispers and they watched her face follow the story, changing from angry to calm to disgusted and everything in between. They were especially amused when Gabrielle got to the description of Ares in his disposed and rather ratty state. Looking around them, they saw the faces of the audience who appeared entranced by the story and transfixed on Gabrielle. Then they looked at Bob, who’d gone from smug, to stunned, to furious in a very short time and appeared to be on the verge of exploding as Gabrielle continued to read.

Ares went back to his seat and got some warm smiles from two ancient females and reveled in the satisfaction that he’d done good. Although he really didn’t like the ratty description part and found Xena and T’s amusement quite annoying.

When she’d finished the story, Gabrielle rolled the scroll up and sat back as the entire audience stood and applauded. Rolling her eyes, she was forced to stand and take a bow by her fellow panelists, especially George, who moved to hold her chair while she stood. Glancing down at the front row, she saw the faces of the people she cared about smiling at her and shouting in appreciation. Then she sat back down and waited for the applause to stop, which it did, eventually and Gabrielle simply smiled at Bob.

After that, there were a few more questions from the audience, then George thanked the panel for their participation and the audience for attending. As people started milling about and making a slow departure, Gabrielle left the stage and whacked Ares with the scroll, when she got to the front row. "Where the hell did you find this?"

"Outside Corinth." Rubbing his head, Ares smiled. "It was in a vault in some museum. I thought it needed some air."

"Now you know where your scrolls went." Xena chuckled and gave Gabrielle a fierce hug. "That was great, ya know that?"

Smiling, Gabrielle wrapped her arms around the warrior. "It did feel good."

"And." Ares prompted the bard.

"And thank you, Ares." Stepping out of the hug, the bard gave one to the God of War. "I don’t think you could’ve picked a better story to shove up Bob’s nose."

"He does irritation well." T smiled and patted Ares’ shoulder. "Now. Who wants to go find some ice cream?"

Xena looked up the aisle and shook her head. "It’ll take us an hour to get out that way." Glancing at the bard. "Does this place have a back door?"

"Sure." Nodding, Gabrielle took Xena’s hand and led them to the side of the stage and through a door. Walking through various props and things, she made her way to the rear exit.

"What the hell was that shit?" Bob asked as he stepped from behind a cardboard tree. "Something you read on the side of a stall, while you were taking a crap?"

Gabrielle put her arm out and held Xena back, then she sighed and smiled. "No, Bob, it’s not. Actually it’s all true and can even be verified, if you’d like to check the museum in Athens. They just happen to have a very large wooden propeller hanging around that bears a striking resemblance to the one Joxer killed with his stick."

"Oh, yea and I suppose all those people in the story were real, too?" Folding his arms across his chest, Bob shook his head. "What was her name? Xena? Give me a break, she sounds like a reject from a bad S & M movie."

T grabbed Xena’s arm and moved to stand in front of the warrior. "Careful, little man." She said softly. "It doesn’t pay to insult my friends."

"Who are you supposed to be? The reincarnation of Conan?" Bob snarled. "Go home, Butch and take your trashy friends with you. I’m talking to Faith."

"Bob." Gabrielle said quietly. "Unless you have something constructive to say, just move. I’m on my way to get some ice cream and you’re blocking the door."

Shaking his head, Bob didn’t budge. "Tell me the truth, Faith. As amusing as that little story was, do you really expect to convince anybody with a brain that it’s proof that Ares and the other gods existed?"

Sighing, Gabrielle turned to look at her friends, then she smiled at T. "I know you hate arrogance with a passion and I know you’d rather die than show off, but could you please, just for me, just . . . this . . . once show this bastard what the truth really is?"

T lifted an eyebrow slowly, then glanced at Ares and Xena, who were smiling and nodding their heads. Sighing, she nodded. "All right. Line up, I’m not going to be the only one in this."

Laughing, Bob considered the four people before him and shook his head. "I’m waiting."

When they were all in a row, T smiled and snapped her fingers, changing all their clothes to ones they’d worn over two thousand years ago, with her in her blue and green king outfit, with all it’s shiny bits, sword, claws, fangs and golden tiger eyes included. Ares in his black leather, sword included. Xena in her brown leather and copper armor, sword, chakram and breast dagger included and finally Gabrielle in her post resurrection two piece number, sai included. "Bob, this is the crew. I’m Tiegra Empario de na Nihate, King of the Ungara and Ancient God and this is Ares, Olympian God of War and that is Xena, Warrior Princess, now world famous surgeon and the short blonde is Gabrielle, Amazon Queen and bard extraordinary and author of that scroll. Any questions?"

Bob’s face went pale, then his eyes rolled back in his head and he fainted.

"Good." Wiping her hand together, T chuckled and snapped her fingers changing everybody back. "Now, who wants to race me to the nearest Baskin Robbins?"

"Hah!" Snickering evilly, Gabrielle bolted for the door, stepping on Bob and taking a head start.

"And she’s supposed to be the adult in this group?" Ares asked with a chuckle.

"Snooze, ya lose, sucker." Xena shouted and followed Gabrielle’s lead, stomping on Bob to get to the door.

T sighed and smiled at Ares. "How much of a head start should we give them?"

Thinking a long moment, Ares shook his head and shrugged. "That should about do it."

"Yea. That’s good." Smiling wickedly, she shoved Ares back and ran out the door.

"Women." Rolling his eyes, he popped out with an evil chuckle.


The End.

Epilogue: Having finally completed a successful vacation, minus death, dismemberment and any other form of bodily harm, the four planned another one and since Xena didn’t get the chance to use her horsey float, T put in a large in ground pool out beside the cabin. Much to Bud’s delight.

George, found Bob’s unconscious body and managed to wake him up, then he called the nearest mental institution, when Bob began rambling incoherently about gods and skimpy outfits.

Thanks for reading.


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