Copyright © 2000 by Barbara Davies.
Xena, Gabrielle, Argo, and all other characters who have appeared in the syndicated series Xena: Warrior Princess, together with the names, titles, and backstory, are the sole copyright property of Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement was intended in the writing of this fan fiction. This treatment cannot be sold or used for profit in any way. Copies of it may be made for private use only and must include all disclaimers and copyright notices.
This is in response to a comment made by friend and fellow bard Midgit to the effect that: there are too many ubers being written these days when what people really crave is an early season 'X and G'. I wanted to see if I could recreate the 'feel good' factor that permeated ADITL so wonderfully.
A big thanks to Advocate for beta reading this for me.
Events takes place a few days after the Season 2 episode: A Day in the Life, and any similarities to that episode are intentional. <g>
ANOTHER DAY IN THE LIFE
(aka How Gabrielle Got Her Pink Nighty)
(Email: firstname.lastname@example.org )
A WAKE-UP CALL
Early morning. Xena and Gabrielle are sleeping peacefully; their campfire has burned down almost to ashes. Xena still has a fading black eye - from Gabrielle conking her on the nose a couple of days ago.
Five thugs attack, yelling. Xena wakes up. Gabrielle sleeps on oblivious.
Xena reaches for the nearest weapon available and grabs ... their new frying pan. She grimaces, puts it down and reaches for something else. "Gabrielle, wake up," she yells, before turning to fight.
Xena successfully uses: stones surrounding the firepit, ash, the contents of a waterskin, Argo's feedbag, fallen branches, windfalls from a pear tree .... She's enjoying the adrenaline rush, laughing and encouraging the thugs before blinding them or braining them ... then she notices that Gabrielle still hasn't woken up and 2 thugs are approaching the bard.
Xena flips up onto a tree branch and bounces up and down vigorously on it. A ripe pear plops down on Gabrielle's chest waking her. She blinks, realizes she is about to be attacked by 2 thugs, and springs up grabbing her staff. Now both women are fighting.
Gabrielle has her staff taken from her and Xena is concerned. She finishes off her own attacker then looks round for something to use to aid Gabrielle from a distance. She grabs a green garment from Gabrielle's pack, tears off a sleeve, then grabs a stone and uses the sleeve as a slingshot to fling it. It knocks out the man about to run Gabrielle through.
That's the last man standing, so the fight is over. Xena turns to the nearest still breathing thug and puts the pinch on him.
Gabrielle comes over to join her, notices the green garment now minus its sleeve. "My best nighty, Xena! It's ruined."
A distracted Xena looks up. "Is it?" She stands up, grabs the nighty, looks at it judiciously, then simply tears off the other sleeve. "There, good as new."
"It is not good as new. It's only fit for using as a duster now. Why couldn't you use something else? You knew Lila made this for me. "
"Gabrielle! I was a bit pressed for time. I would have used the frying pan, only, after last time ..."
"Why do you always do this, Xena? What's wrong with using your sword and chakram?"
Xena opens her mouth to speak.
"And donít mention your juices," yells Gabrielle.
Xena closes her mouth with a snap.
"Hey," says the thug urgently. "Blood to the brain, yadda yadda. I'm running out of time here!"
"Sorry!" Xena returns her attention to him. "So, who sent you?"
"To take you out. He thinks you might try to stop him."
"Stop him from doing what?" asks Xena.
"I donít know."
Gabrielle butts in: "Where is Loxius now?"
Xena nods approvingly. "See - you do ask good questions." To the thug: "Yes, where is he?"
"Aucuba. He's taken over the village. Forced the blacksmiths to make weapons instead of farm implements."
Gabrielle turns to her and says knowingly: "Looks like we're going to Aucuba then."
Xena nods. "Looks like."
"Hey," yells the thug.
An apologetic Xena looks down at him. "Sorry." She yawns. "I'm not at my best first thing." She releases the pinch then knocks him out.
TRAVELLING TO WORK
Xena, Gabrielle and Argo are strolling along a road. "Which way, Xena?" asks Gabrielle.
Xena looks a bit dubious. "It's ages since I was here last, and they've had lots of landslips and cave-ins since then."
Gabrielle puts her foot in a small pothole and trips, but Xena prevents her from falling. "Watch where you're walking. Can't have you twisting your ankle."
Gabrielle rubs her ankle ruefully. "All these potholes!"
"Limestone," says Xena knowledgeably. "Great for smelting."
"That's why Aucuba has furnaces?"
"Yeah. Lots of them."
"So if you donít know the way, why don't you ask someone?" A stranger appears up ahead. "Him for example."
"I donít need directions, Gabrielle. I'm sure it's this way."
"Well, fairly sure."
Gabrielle rolls her eyes and makes for the man now coming up to meet them. He's a bit like Hower - big and dumb. "Excuse me ..." she begins.
He freezes and gapes at her. "You're Gabrielle, the bard of Potadeia, aren't you?"
She blinks at him. "Er, yes. Now, what I wanted to ask you was - "
He glances at Xena then returns his gaze to Gabrielle. "The one who tamed the Warrior Princess."
"'Tamed'?" growls Xena.
Gabrielle gives her a sheepish glance. "Some might put it that way, I suppose, but - "
"My village needs the Warrior Princess's help desperately but we cannot pay her. Please use your inspiring words to soften her heart."
Gabrielle is speechless.
"You can talk to me directly, you know," interrupts Xena. "I donít bite," she mock bares her teeth at Gabrielle, "much."
"Is Loxius after your village?" asks Gabrielle, regaining her equilibrium.
The man frowns. "Who's Loxius? No. Our problem is a giant."
Xena and Gabrielle exchange a 'Not another one!' glance.
"He wants to flatten our village."
"But only if you donít pay him protection money surely?" prompts Gabrielle.
"No. He'll do it no matter what. He's in a really bad mood. A couple of days ago, someone killed his twin brother."
"Well, I s'pose that could ruin your week." Xena looks shifty. "Was his brother called Gareth, by any chance?"
He gapes. "How did you know?"
"Just great," mutters Xena under her breath.
"So," says Gabrielle. "Two villages in dire straits. What a coincidence." She turns brightly to Xena. "Shall you toss the coin or will I?"
Xena and Gabrielle are strolling along side by side. "So, how far is it to Kalmia, Farris?" asks Xena.
Farris, who is spending most of his time walking backwards staring at Gabrielle, shrugs. "Not far."
Xena and Gabrielle exchange a rueful glance and walk on a bit further.
"Do they sell nighties in your village?" She shoots Xena a significant glance.
"You know, I really don't wanna hear about this all day," says Xena.
Gabrielle: "Well next time we're staying at my parents', you can explain why I'm sleeping in the nude."
Xena sighs. "Fine."
They walk for a while in silence. A little later, they start to play their travel game.
Xena: "Are you male or female?"
"Living, or dead?"
Xena, throwing a playful glance at Gabrielle: "Were you not killed by a certain bard?"
Gabrielle: "Har de har! Just because I haven't lost my blood innocence and you have." Under her breath, "Boy, have you ever!"
Xena ignores the remark. "Well that narrows it down ... NOT."
They walk on a bit, Farris still doing his backward-admiring-the-bard thing.
Gabrielle smirks. "No."
Xena purses his lips in thought, and while she's occupied, Gabrielle swings her staff at her. Xena catches it easily. "Are you still doing that? It's not necessary, Gabrielle. You beat me fair and square." She indicates her fading back eye and Gabrielle looks guilty.
"That doesn't count. You let me hit you."
"Gabrielle!" Xena shakes her head. "Whatever." Then her mood changes and she gives Gabrielle a wicked grin. "Well, I wonít let you hit me again."
"Aha!" Gabrielle's eyes glint. "Look out, Warrior Princess. 'Cause this time I'm gonna get you." She juts her jaw determinedly.
Xena raises an eyebrow in disbelief and pointedly turns her attention to Farris. "So this giant ... what did you say his name is?"
"What is about giants that their names all begin with a G and end in a th?" asks Gabrielle.
Xena ignores her and continues doggedly. "He's Gareth's twin?"
Farris nods. "Identical."
"Same height, same armour?"
Farris nods again. "I believe so."
"Maybe they got a discount for bulk purchase," says Gabrielle.
Xena gives her a look.
Suddenly, a strange growling is heard. They all look at Gabrielle's stomach. Xena grins.
Gabrielle says tetchily: "I had no breakfast. All right?" She glances at Xena. "Fish would be good. And we have a frying pan ... " She wrinkles her nose cheekily.
Xena ignores her jibe. "Farris. Is there a creek nearby?"
He nods. "That way, through the trees. But be careful. This is snake country."
Gabrielle turns a terrified look at Xena. "Snake country?"
Xena smiles at her. "Don't worry. From what I remember of this region, they only attack if you annoy them. As long as you remember to check your boots each morning before you put them on you'll be f-"
"My boots?" Gabrielle panics. "By the gods, I didnít check my boots!"
"Well there can't have been any snakes in them, or youíd be dead by now," says Xena dryly.
"Thanks. I feel so much better."
Throughout this exchange, Farris can't keep his eyes off Gabrielle. Then her stomach growls again and he blinks in startled admiration.
"Everything about her is so much larger than life," he says.
Xena rolls her eyes. "Is that meant to be a compliment?" She leads the way into the woods.
BRUNCH IS SERVED
A fire is burning merrily, and Gabrielle is cooking fish. Xena is nowhere to be seen. Farris is watching Gabrielle add judicious amounts from her herb and spice kit, and ostentatiously smelling the delicious aroma. "You can cook too?"
"Erm, yes," says Gabrielle.
Xena appears through the trees. "I got us some blackberries for after," she says, placing a juice-stained bundle on the ground and taking her seat.
"Yum." Gabrielle is so busy cooking so doesn't notice that the stained green cloth around the berries is her ex-nighty.
Xena: "Are you a villager or an Amazon? "
Farris speaks quietly to Xena. "Where did she learn to cook so well?"
Xena gives him a patient smile. "Her mother, I think." To Gabrielle: "Are you Ephiny?"
"No." A stomach gurgle. "Sorry. Thank the gods it's nearly ready. I could eat a horse."
Nearby, Argo whinnies.
"Sorry, Argo," mumbles Gabrielle.
"Has she ever talked about settling down?" Farris asks Xena.
"Not recently. She tried it once. It didn't take." She sniffs suspiciously. To Gabrielle: "Did you put garlic in mine?"
Gabrielle looks testily at her. "Of course, I put garlic in yours. We're all having garlic. You got a problem with that?"
"Uh uh, no problem," says Xena hastily. "Garlic's good. As long as we both have it."
"So," Farris continues doggedly. "Maybe she just hasn't met the right guy."
"I donít think that's it, Farris. She likes what I do ... er I mean, what she's doing."
Gabrielle begins dishing up the meal onto platters. She hands each of them a portion of fish. There's silence while they eat.
At the first taste, Farris looks like he's having an orgasm. "Delicious. Simply delicious."
Xena and Gabrielle exchange glances but say nothing. They finish the fish, and Gabrielle collects up the plates while Xena reaches for the blackberries. She has unwrapped them and is holding out the open bundle when Gabrielle realizes what the green cloth is. She lets out a screech that makes Xena jump (in the process spilling the blackberries on the floor).
"What?" Xena looks around anxiously. "Is it a snake? Did it bite you?"
"How could you? That blackberry juice will never come out."
Xena sighs. "By the gods Gabrielle. Is that all? I thought you said the nighty was only fit for a duster anyway."
Gabrielle looks sulky. "I changed my mind." Absentmindedly, she pops some of the blackberries into her mouth and starts to chew. She blinks at the taste then looks at Xena, her bad mood forgotten. "These are wonderful."
Xena smiles with relief and helps herself to some. "Not bad. Try some, Farris." He obliges.
The meal is over. The dirty dishes await. No one seems prepared to do anything about them.
"It's your turn to do the dishes, Xena," hints Gabrielle not so subtly.
Xena looks aggrieved. "I provided the food."
"Well I cooked it."
"Let me do the dishes for you, Gabrielle," says Farris eagerly. He takes them.
She's surprised. "Thanks, Farris."
Xena casts her a wry glance, and as Farris disappears out of earshot towards the stream, sits next to Gabrielle and says: "I think he's fallen for you."
Gabrielle sighs. "I know."
"Must be the bard thing."
"Or the blonde hair. Guys love blondes, you know."
Gabrielle grins at her. "Or it could be the abs ... "
"Yeah. Abs and knees ... they never fail. It's a wonder you aren't beating guys off constantly with your little stick." She does an exaggerated double take. "Oh, hang on. You are."
Gabrielle makes a face. "The correct term is 'staff', Xena."
"Maybe I should dye it."
"No, the hair. I could try black hair, like yours."
"Or you could wear your Amazon mask. That would keep the guys away."
"What if it didn't? What if it just attracted a kinkier group?"
"There is that."
"I could always give up the bard thing ... take up singing instead?"
Xena winces. "That would do it. Of course, then I'd have to wear ear plugs ... which would hamper my many skills."
Gabrielle is torn between indignation and laughter - she opts for laughter. Xena joins in.
Farris returns not only with clean dishes, but some sprigs of flowering yellow shrub which he presents to Gabrielle. "Fragrant blooms for a sweet blossom."
Stunned, Gabrielle accepts them. "Uh ... thanks, Farris." She gets up and walks off.
Farris to Xena: "Did you see that?"
"She took them. She likes me!
Xena (to herself): "Oh boy."
DEALING WITH THE MAIL
Gabrielle is cleaning her nails ... with Xena's breast dagger.
"Give me that!" Xena snatches it away from her. "You'll take the edge off it."
"I was only getting the fish from under my nails," protests Gabrielle. "Besides, it's not like it's your dagger. You still haven't paid me for it."
Xena conveniently ignores her. "Farris. Is it far to your village?"
"About two more hours, due east."
She nods. "We can find it ourselves, then." Gabrielle raises a sceptical eyebrow, which Xena also ignores. "Do you know where Griffith lives?" she asks Farris.
He nods. "The next valley over from ours."
"Good. I want you to do something for me then." She turns to Gabrielle. "I need a piece of your scroll."
Gabrielle looks annoyed. "For crying out loud, Xena. I thought we'd been over this before. There are plenty of suitable leaves on the bushes if you know where to look -"
"Not for that. I need something to write a message on."
"Oh!" Gabrielle blushes, then rummages around in her saddlebag, and comes up with a small piece of parchment which she gives to Xena.
"Thanks." Xena writes busily for a moment, then hands the parchment to Farris. "Can you get this to Griffith without endangering yourself?"
He thinks for a minute, then nods. "I'll wrap it round a stone and throw it to him."
"Good. Then get going."
Farris nods, takes a last lingering look at Gabrielle (as if to imprint her on his memory) then runs off.
Gabrielle has been fidgeting with curiosity. "What did it say, Xena?"
Xena grins at her and deliberately pauses to increase the suspense. "It says:
I hear your brother recently died. Too bad. But only a great big sissy could have been beaten by a woman.
If you think you're harder than Gareth, I'll be ready and waiting in Aucuba. But I expect you'll be too chicken to come.
"Ooh. He not going to like that!"
"No he isn't, is he?" Xena laughs.
Xena, Gabrielle and Argo are strolling towards a village that is identical to Laurel in every way ... and just as deserted. They have to part to make it past a large and deep pothole.
Xena says, "Light or dark hair?"
"I donít know any Cyane."
Xena looks sheepish. "Oh, yeah, sorry. Wrong tribe. ... That's interesting."
"No it isnít. Kalmia is just like Laurel ... only with potholes."
"That's what I meant."
At the sound of their voices, a slender woman emerges from one of the houses. Her anxious look changes to one of amazement when she sees Gabrielle.
"Oh! You're... You're ... you're Gabrielle, aren't you?"
"All right! I finally get to meet the bard of Potadeia herself." She strikes a pose and declaims: "Roses are red, violets are blue. But I never thought, Iíd ever meet you."
Gabrielle gapes at the strange woman, speechless.
The woman laughs excitedly, "Nothing like a spot of improv., is there, Gabrielle? Hey, maybe while you're here you could look at some of the poems and stories I've written and tell me what you think?"
"Er, I suppose I could," manages Gabrielle.
"I've read all your scrolls. About how you tamed the warrior princess," the woman gives Xena a dismissive glance, "controlled the Titans, won the 'best bard' award at the Athens Academy ... "
Gabrielle sighs. "Listen, we're just here to ..."
"... and I have to tell you ... I loved them all!" She strikes another pose: "I think that I shall never see, a bard as talented as thee."
While Gabrielle is still trying to come to terms with this extravagant flattery, the woman resumes her normal manner and addresses Xena. "So, what's it like to travel with the hottest bard in Greece?" She doesn't wait for a reply. "Does she tell you bedtime stories?"
"Well, as a matter of fact -"
"Hey!" says Gabrielle indignantly.
Xena blinks at Gabrielle, then turns to the woman. "Farris told us about your little problem, erm -
"Rheta," supplies the woman.
"Rheta. Have the other villagers left already?"
Rheta nods. "They headed for the hills an hour ago. Where's Farris?" She smiles at Gabrielle. "He's my boyfriend, you know. He likes your stories too, but I'm your number one fan."
"He's running an errand for m- for Gabrielle," says Xena, earning herself a wry glance from Gabrielle. She shrugs as if to say, "Well."
Rheta nods approvingly. "I want you to know ... I'm ready to help out in any way I can. I'm really good at rhymes. And my sewing has won awards - I'm on my toes with buttons and bows."
Xena and Gabrielle exchange glances.
"Erm, thank you, Rheta," says Xena unconvincingly.
"So," says Rheta to both of them. "What's your plan? You killed Gareth, didnít you?" She turns to Gabrielle. "Can't wait for you to publish the scroll about that one." She turns back to Xena again. "You going to do the same thing to Griffith?"
Xena shrugs. "I don't know yet." Gabrielle gapes at her. "Well I don't. I've got a few ideas though ..."
Rheta: "No problem. What can I do to help?"
Xena glances slyly at Gabrielle. "Well I always think best when I'm relaxed, donít you, Gabrielle?"
Gabrielle and Xena are in a tub together. A rubber duck and a frog are bobbing up and down on the soapy water. Gabrielle is washing Xena's back with a sponge. They are both wearing strange looking pink bath caps.
Xena says, "Do we have to wear these stupid things?" She gestures at the caps.
"Rheta made them herself," said Gabrielle. "Do you want to hurt her feelings?"
Gabrielle sighs. "Donít answer that."
Xena shrugs and changes the subject: "Eponin?"
"Hmmm. ... No, donít tell me."
Rheta calls from outside the door, "Is everything all right, Gabrielle? Water hot enough?"
"It's fine, Rheta," calls Gabrielle.
"She's a bit strange, isn't she?," says Xena. "What's with all this rhyming stuff?" She imitates Rheta and chants in a singsong voice: "There once was a woman from Kalmia, who was getting progressively barmier -"
"Be nice!" chides Gabrielle. Xena subsides grumbling.
"So. What are we going to do about Griffith?" Gabrielle soaps Xena's back some more.
Xena: "I don't know, it hasn't hit me yet."
"Well, I've already asked Rheta to collect materials so you can construct another flying parchment, and to round up some mirrors."
Xena frowns. "You have?"
"I missed the weather forecast, so I thought it best to cover all eventualities."
"That wasn't what I meant. Been there, done that, Gabrielle."
Gabrielle sighs. "What is it about you and originality, Xena?"
"Guess it's the creative urge. After all, you donít like writing the same scroll over and over, do you?"
"That's true. So, if you're not going to use the flying parchment or the mirrors, what are you going to do?"
"I'm still thinking about that. Flexibility, Gabrielle. Remember?"
The bard sighs. "I remember."
"Here now, I'll do your back." They switch places and Xena starts to soap Gabrielle's back.
"Anything I can get you two," calls Rheta.
"No thanks, we're fine," calls Gabrielle.
Xena says, "She's in that 'I'll do anything for the bard' haze."
"She means well."
"You know, her boyfriend is in love with you, Gabrielle."
"Mmm. Guess I'll have to straighten that out, have a sensitive chat with him."
Xena laughs. "I'm sure there's nothing he'd like better. And when that doesn't work, you can call me in to rough him up a little."
Gabrielle gives her a look, which she ignores. Instead, she picks up the frog and regards it curiously. "What's the point in this? It doesn't do anything. Now if its legs moved .... Maybe Iíll suggest that to Senticles next time we see him."
Xena shifts position and gets a startled look on her face. It changes to a sly smile.
Gabrielle looks at her. "Xena. What are you doing?"
"Nothing." An innocent look that doesn't convince. "Why?"
"Hmmm!" Gabrielle looks round for something, then frowns. "Have you seen the loofah?"
Xena pretends not to have heard. "What?"
"The loofah." Gabrielle realizes that Xena is doing something naughty with it. Imperiously, she demands, "Hand it over."
Xena pouts, sighs, reaches down into the water, and brings up the loofah. "Just as I was getting to the good bit too."
Undaunted, Gabrielle proceeds to use the loofah on her own back. "Ah," she gives a sigh of pleasure.
Xena contents herself with playing with the duck.
Rheta is lugging all the materials Gabrielle asked her to get for Xena into a huge heap (which will never be used) when Farris comes running up the road into Kalmia.
"Gabrielle is here," says Rheta, going joyfully to greet him. "She's fantastic!"
As she speaks, Gabrielle emerges from the bathing hut, looking radiant after her bath. She is brushing her long blonde hair with one hand and twirling her bath cap with the other.
"So talented, and kind, and -"
"Beautiful," completes Farris who is gazing at Gabrielle like someone who's just been hit between the eyes.
Rheta's joy disappears abruptly as she realizes the way her boyfriend is looking at Gabrielle. "Well, she's all right... If you like that type."
Xena comes out of the hut behind Gabrielle, spies Farris and goes up to him. "Any problems delivering the message to Griffith?"
He comes to with a start. "Erm, no. I wrapped it round a stone and lobbed it into his cave."
Gabrielle and Rheta are listening interestedly.
"What happened next?" asks Xena.
Farris frowns in thought. "Well, it was silent for a bit, then there was this huge roar ... then he came running out, still pulling his pants up."
Xena smiles in satisfaction. "Must have been in a hurry, huh?"
"What direction was he headed last time you looked?"
Xena rubs her hands together with great relish.
"So Loxius is taken care of?" asks Gabrielle.
Xena nods. "Which means I can concentrate on the giant."
Gabrielle perks up. "You've decided?" she asks eagerly.
"Patience, Gabrielle. I'm getting there." Xena turned back to Farris. "I need some stinging insects. Bees, wasps, hornets ... something like that. Are there any nests near here?" Gabrielle's eyebrows shoot up.
He nods, bewildered. "Iason's bees swarmed last week and made themselves a new nest close by in the woods. He was going to go and get them back when the giant appeared and we had to evacuate instead."
"Can you find their exact location for me?"
He nods doubtfully. "Sure."
Gabrielle pipes up, "I'm sure Xena has a good reason for asking you to do this, Farris." She turns to Xena. "You do, donít you?"
Gabrielle's intervention has made all the difference to Farris's enthusiasm. "All righty. Location of one nest of stinging things coming up."
Rheta looks on in disbelief as he runs past her without acknowledgment. "O fickle man, to so ignore Gabrielle's number one fan!"
Gabrielle exchanges a concerned look with Xena.
"When Farris gets back," Xena murmurs, "you had better have that chat."
Gabrielle nods, then turns to Rheta. "You sew quite a bit, donít you, Rheta?" She indicates the bath cap.
Rheta looks grumpily at her. "Yeah. What of it?"
Gabrielle makes allowances for Rheta's mood. "I was wondering if you might be willing to make me a nighty."
Rheta looks reluctant.
Gabrielle says persuasively, "Do you want to trade? I have just the thing ..."
Xena peeks into the barn, where Gabrielle is writing on a scroll. She comes in and sits next to the bard. Gabrielle apparently takes no notice of her presence, then grabs her staff, which is leaning against a wall nearby, and tries to whack Xena with it.
Xena is too quick for her. Grumbling a little, Gabrielle replaces the staff and returns to her scroll.
Xena says: "Solari?"
"No." Gabrielle scribes a few more words and then sucks the quill.
Xena, standing and pacing a little: "Was it someone you knew before I met you?"
Xena, pacing, then throwing up her arms and coming to a halt: "I give up. Who is it?"
Gabrielle looks up and smirks: "Velaska."
Xena gapes at her. "But she's dead!"
"No she isn't, Xena - you can't kill a goddess - she's encased in lava, which isn't quite the same thing."
Xena ruefully acknowledges the point. "Baked Velaska."
"Well, more like half-baked," says Gabrielle. "She was insane, after all."
Xena goes outside and comes to an abrupt halt, making Gabrielle, who is following, cannon into her.
"Oof! Why did you -" Gabrielle stops as she realizes what Xena is staring at. Rheta is now wearing a straw hat, tied to her head by means of a scarf threaded through two odd holes in it. She looks very smug.
"Hey!" says Xena to Rheta. "What are you doing with that hat? It isn't yours."
Rheta's looks annoyed. "Yes it is. I traded for it fair and square. I'm sewing Gabrielle a nighty in return."
Xena turns an angry look on Gabrielle.
"Look," says Gabrielle defensively. "I need a nighty. When I stay at my parents' house overnight, I can't sleep in the nude. They think I've picked up enough bad habits from you as it is."
"That wasn't yours to trade, Gabrielle. It was Argo's."
"But she never wears it. Besides, it suits Rheta much better."
"That's not the point." Xena is deadly serious. "I ruined your nighty, but you've taken it out on Argo."
Gabrielle opens her mouth to speak, then closes it again.
Xena turns to Rheta (who fortunately has no idea the hat she is so proud of was made for a horse) and says brusquely, "I want it back."
Rheta is indignant. "Well you canít have it. I traded for it in all honesty ... and besides, the nighty is nearly finished."
Rheta addresses Gabrielle. "You seem to be a bit hazy about what is yours. This hat's mine. The nighty's yours. Farris is mine." She glances pointedly at Xena. "She's yours."
Xena is gritting her teeth and purposely not looking at Gabrielle. "I'm going to check on the giant."
She walks to where Argo is tethered, pats her, and murmurs in her ear: "I'll get you another one, I promise." Argo whinnies gratefully.
Xena mounts up and heads out of town.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT FOOTWEAR
Xena's riding Argo towards Aucuba. As she guides Argo up a steep hillside, the earth begins to shake in response to heavy thudding sounds. Argo whinnies. Xena soothes her, "There, there, girl. Donít worry. It's further away than it sounds."
At the top of the hill she reins Argo to a halt and stares at her surroundings. There's chaos in the valley below her. A giant that looks just like Gareth is stomping Loxius and his army like ants. The townspeople are sheltering behind walls.
"Sissy am I?" comes a distant roar.
Xena scrutinizes the giant's attire ... "Ah, sandals," she says with great satisfaction. She turns Argo and heads her back the way they came.
Rheta is industriously sewing something made of pink material, while Gabrielle is reading through one of Rheta's scrolls.
"You see this isn't your real beginning," says Gabrielle, tapping the scroll. "Your real beginning is actually here, where you meet Farris for the first time and it's hate at first sight. All this preamble," - she taps again authoritatively, "could be pruned."
Rheta looks half interested, half depressed. "What's the point in finishing it now anyway?" She casts Gabrielle a significant glance. "I only write stories with happy endings, and this one isn't going to have one ..."
"You donít know that."
"Ha!" She sews a bit more then pauses as the unfairness of her predicament gets to her again. "It's not as though you can't have your pick of men. They must be throwing themselves at someone like you, but me ...
"Look, Rheta. I can assure you, there is nothing between me and your boyfriend."
"You say that, but I've seen the way he looks at you."
"It's just infatuation. It'll wear off. And once I've found a way to send him the right message ..."
Just then Farris barges in, strikes a pose - half nervous, half confident - and says, "Girls. I can no longer hide the feelings of my heart. I think I'm in love with Gabrielle."
Gabrielle puts her hand to her mouth, and Rheta gives a small groan.
Then Xena comes rushing in. Gabrielle gets up and goes to her, and says under her breath: "This Farris situation. It's just got worse."
Xena says, "Later, Gabrielle." She turns to address the others. "Griffith is stomping Loxius. It wonít be long now before he turns his attention to us."
Gabrielle. "So are you going with the flying parchment, or the mirrors, or ... "
Xena gives Gabrielle an impatient glance. "Neither. I'm going to use poison."
"Poison? And where are we going to find enough to make a dent in a giant?!"
Xena taps her nose significantly. "Watch and learn, Gabrielle."
Xena, Gabrielle, Rheta, and Farris are all wearing thick leather gauntlets and all carrying (very gingerly) huge sacks whose openings have been secured with strong ropes. They walk up to the pothole in the middle of the road, untie the ropes, and carefully tip the contents of the sacks into it. They are lots and lots of snakes, of all shapes and sizes.
"Urk!" says Gabrielle, suppressing a shudder. "I hate snakes."
"I'm not too keen on them myself," says Xena, using the tip of her boot to shove a stray snake into the pothole. The snakes slither and hiss. "Now all we have to do is get the giant to put his foot in the hole."
Gabrielle gapes at Xena as though she's gone stark staring bonkers. "That's your plan?"
Xena smiles proudly. "Yep. Simple, but effective."
Gabrielle puts her hands on her hips. "Is Griffith blind?"
"Well, will he be coming along this road at night?"
Rheta is snickering, hiding her mouth with her hand.
"You donít think he might be able to .... erm .... avoid the pothole, Xena?" says Gabrielle sarcastically.
Xena shrugs. "It's possible."
Rheta turns to Farris and mutters, "No wonder your precious bard was able to tame the fierce warrior princess. She's got a screw loose."
Gabrielle: "Look, Xena. Maybe I'm missing something, but ... the odds on his putting his foot in this hole are a little on the long side, aren't they?"
Xena gets huffy. "Well, what's your plan?"
Gabrielle holds her hands up appeasingly. "Sorry. It's just that ... well ... there's still time for us to get the mirrors in position, isnít there. It's a sunny day and ..."
"I'd rather go with the snakes."
"Youíd rather ... " A speechless Gabrielle watches a snake climb up out of the pothole and crawl away.
"The odds wonít be that bad, anyway. He'll be chasing me ... and I'll head straight for the snakepit." Xena turns to Farris. "Did you find the bees?"
He nods. Just inside the wood over there." He points. "There's a hollow oak tree."
"Thanks." Another snake has successfully climbed out of the pit and is crawling away. An absent-minded Xena uses her boot to shepherd it back into the pit. "Looks like we're all set then."
She turns to Gabrielle. "Can you keep an eye on the snakes? I just want to check out these bees."
A speechless Gabrielle watches her walk away.
SEEING YOUR THERAPIST
Xena has returned from checking on the bees, and goes into the barn to find Farris dusting and polishing the wooden bit of Gabrielle's scrolls.
"Glad I got you alone, Farris," she tells him.
He smiles at her, delighted. "She let me touch her scrolls! She must really like me."
Xena takes a deep breath then dives right in. "You know ... you donít stand a snowball's chance in Tartarus with Gabrielle. She's just being polite. And you've already got Rheta. She loves you, you know. Donít throw that away."
Farris shakes his head. "I donít think you know Gabrielle as well as you think you do, Xena. But you donít have to worry ... when we're married, I wonít make her give up her friends. You can come visit."
Astounded, cursing under her breath, Xena goes in search of Gabrielle.
As Xena comes out of the barn and looks across at the snakepit, Gabrielle isn't there. In fact the bard is crouching, clutching her staff, in a different pothole nearby.
Xena frowns and shouts: "Gabrielle. Gabrielle." She moves to stand with her back to the pothole.
Gabrielle straightens and leaps up at her with a triumphant yell. Xena merely steps aside ... and Gabrielle loses her balance on the lip of the pothole and starts to tumble backwards into it. "Oops!"
Xena hastily grabs Gabrielle by the front of her BGSB and pulls her to safety. "What is it about you and holes, Gabrielle?"
Gabrielle: "You know, I would've had you if I hadn't done the war cry."
Xena, unconvincingly, "Yeah, sure you would. It's your turn to talk to Farris."
"Right ... Your snakes have escaped."
Gabrielle comes out of the hut, followed by Farris's shout: "My love for you will never die."
She looks up the road and sees Xena in deep conversation with Rheta who is listening avidly and nodding her head. Xena is holding a sack (of fresh snakes).
"Uh, okay. Thanks, Xena!" Rheta excitedly wanders off.
Xena empties the sack into the snakepit and Gabrielle jogs up to join her.
"What did you say to her?"
Xena shrugs deprecatingly. "I just gave her some advice about handling men. I don't know if she really listened. After all, what do I know?"
Gabrielle nods, "Hmm."
Xena glances at her. "How did it go with Farris?"
"That's one devoted fan you have there!"
Gabrielle sighs. "The price of fame."
Xena, wryly: "Yeah." She glances up at the sun and Gabrielle notices the gesture.
"You want to use the mirrors after all?" she asks eagerly.
Xena shakes her head. "No. I just wondered what time it was. Wish that giant would hurry it up. I'm fed up of catching more snakes."
Xena, Gabrielle, and Farris are idly waiting .... Gabrielle is composing another story, and Farris is watching her with admiration. Xena is sharpening her sword.
Gabrielle says, "What's taking him so long?"
"Stomping takes it out of a giant," says Xena. "He'll be here soon."
"Where's Rheta?" asks Gabrielle, belatedly noticing her absence.
"I hope she's taking that advice I gave her."
The woman in question suddenly appears round the corner and they all gape at her. She is now a bleached blonde. And her costume has been radically pruned to mimic Gabrielle's. Unfortunately, her abs aren't quite as good as Gab's ... but her knees are.
Farris blinks at her.
She is carrying a scroll, and now she unrolls it, strikes a bardic pose, and begins to read: "I sing the song of Farris, the boy I knew, the man I loved ..."
Farris regards her like one enchanted. When she draws to a close he says, "Whoa! Rheta! That was amazing! I had no idea you -"
"Could write so well?" She gives him a provocative glance, turns on her heel, and heads for their hut. He follows her eagerly.
Gabrielle is looking stunned. "That was my Perdicas story. All she did was change the names!" She turns accusingly on Xena. "Did you -" Fortunately for the Warrior Princess, at that very moment the ground shakes and distracts Gabrielle.
"Griffith's here," says Xena, sheathing her sword and getting up. "Iíd better go and meet him." She turns to Gabrielle. "If this doesn't work, if for some reason he doesnít step in the pit, I want you to get Farris and Rheta to safety."
She rests her hand on Gabrielle's shoulder. "I'm sorry about the nighty, Gabrielle."
Gabrielle nods and holds Xena's gaze. "And I'm sorry about Argo's hat."
"We're even. It's time." Xena turns and rushes off.
Xena is in the wood, waiting for Griffith. His footsteps are getting louder, and the resulting earth tremors are getting more severe.
Griffith comes into view, striding along the road. Xena darts out in front of him and confronts him.
"Hi, Griffith. Do you know who I am?"
He halts and stares down at her.
"I'm Xena. The woman who killed your brother," she taunts.
The information maddens him. "Xena! I'm going to turn you into roadkill."
Xena laughs at him. "In your dreams, big boy." She turns and legs it.
Griffith sets off in pursuit. "I've already stomped one warlord today. Now it's your turn."
"You couldn't even catch a cold, you .... SISSY!"
With a roar Griffith quickens his pace.
Xena darts into the woods, and he follows her, scattering branches and small trees in his wake. They pound through a grove of pear trees, and she picks up some of the windfalls and throws them at him. They splatter his face and helmet with sticky sweetness. He roars, wipes the squashed fruit from his eyes and stomps on.
"Rotten fruit isn't going to save you, Xena."
She laughs and darts off again. "I never thought it would."
A buzzing sound is getting louder. They are approaching the hollow oak tree with the bees in it.
Xena runs past without mishap, but as Griffith runs by, she flings her chakram, disturbing the nest. An angry swarm rises, mistakenly assumes Griffith disturbed them, and goes after him.
He laughs and swats at them as they fly at his head, angry at him and attracted by the sticky fruit. "Think a few stings are going to hurt me?"
"Nope." She snatches her returning chakram from the air, holsters it, then runs off. He follows.
They rejoin the road, and are pounding towards Kalmia now. The snake filled pothole comes into view.
"Just hope those snakes haven't all escaped again," mutters Xena.
In spite of the buzzing bees - and his swatting hands are infuriating them further - Griffith is gaining on Xena. But his steps are erratic, his attention divided ... so when Xena leaps athletically over the pothole, he steps right in it.
A combined squishing/hissing sound comes from the pit. Griffith blinks and looks down to see what he's stepped in. Then he lifts his sandalled foot out. Some snakes are still clinging to it. He shakes them off ... then looks at Xena and grins horribly. He seems totally unaffected by her trap.
"Uh oh!" says Xena under her breath. She gets ready to run again.
Abruptly, Griffith's smile turns to a rictus, and his eyes roll up. He falls, like a felled Redwood, to the ground. Bees are still buzzing angrily about his pear-spattered face and helmet.
Xena waits for a moment, then exhales in relief, and goes over to examine the giant. She prods him with a finger. The combined bee stings and snake bites have been too much for him. He is well and truly dead.
Xena walks away.
GETTING READY FOR BED
It is nighttime, and Xena and Argo are in a clearing. Gabrielle is nowhere to be seen.
Xena tucks some dried flowers into the brim of Argo's new hat. "There. Finished." She shows it to Argo. "See? Now you have something nice to wear when we next go to the beach."
Argo whinnies her approval.
Xena frowns and looks back across the clearing to a shrub draped with items of discarded clothing: the BGSB, a skirt, an Amazon belt .... "Gabrielle? What's taking you so long?"
"It can't be that bad," says Xena. "Can it?"
The silence is broken by a Whee as Gabrielle, clad in a pink nighty, comes swinging across the clearing clinging to a vine like Tarzan. She heads straight for a startled Xena.
They end up in a tangle of arms and legs in the middle of clearing, Gabrielle lying on top of Xena.
"Gotcha," chortles Gabrielle. "Told you I would, didnít I?" She tries to get up ... and finds she can't. Strong arms are holding her in place.
"No, I've got you!" says Xena wickedly. Then she relents and lets go of the bard.
Gabrielle gets to her feet. "So." She brushes herself off and straightens her clothing. "What do you think?" She twirls, displaying her new and very skimpy nighty to full effect.
Xena gapes at her. "I thought the whole point was you wanted a nighty with long sleeves, Gabrielle. That .... thing barely even has shoulder straps! As for the front ... it's cut so low there isn't one. And the back -"
"I know, I know." Gabrielle looks sheepish. "Rheta ran out of material ... what could I do?"
"Well, I suppose it doesn't look too bad ... on you," concedes Xena grudgingly. "Not everyone could carry it off."
Gabrielle's face glows with pleasure.
Xena strokes her chin as though considering. "But I think it still needs something."
"Oh!" Gabrielle looks concerned. "What?" She gives herself a quick once over. "Should I shorten it? Lengthen it? Take in the waist? Let out the bust ..."
Xena interrupts Gabrielle's worried litany. "Nah." She grabs Argo's new hat and plops it on top of Gabrielle's head. "There. Perfect." Argo whinnies with laughter and Xena gives her a conspiratorial grin.
"Xena!" The bard starts to chase a laughing Xena round the clearing ...