DISCLAIMERS: We all know that Xena and Gabrielle et al are the property of Universal Studios and Renaissance Pictures. I only invite them out to play and then send them home to do their real work: filming Xena: Warrior Princess. No copyright infringement is intended. This is an alternative fiction story, so if you would be offended by love between two women, don’t read further.
Amphipolis was transformed. Their warrior was heading home and they had spared no expense in preparing for her visit. Rides, games, floats, food stalls and sideshows filled every square inch of real estate. One entire block was devoted to contests of skill that could be entered for the price of a ticket. Do well at any of these “Warrior World” booths and you would win a stick doll of Gabrielle or Xena – your choice. You might even trade your way up to a pair of gauntlets or even a BGSB.
Other booths sold Warrior Dogs piping hot and BardWurst on a roll. Little warrior scouts sold cookies decorated like chakrams. People milled about dressed up like Persian invaders, centaurs or Olympian gods. There was even a beauty contest scheduled with entrants required to wear long blond wigs. It was heady times in Amphipolis; their claim to fame – the warrior princess herself - was returning after years of atoning for those evil warlord days. The folks (mostly middle aged) who had actually met Xena or even watched her grow up were busy giving interviews to the local scroll reporters each of whom dreamed of the opportunity to ask that one penetrating question at the interview planned for later that day. “Was she or wasn’t she?” “What exactly did Ares find so irritating about the blonde sidekick?” “Was that actually a hickey that Joxer saw?” “If they are in the closet, what in Hades is a closet?”
Yes, there was the sound of gaiety in the air and the jingle of money. It was a convention, a parade, a flea market, a revival meeting and a rave all rolled into one. And the happiest man in town was Salmoneus (AKA Creation) who had masterminded the event and owned all rights to the publications and anticipated souvenir auctions. He beamed from ear to ear as he strolled about listening to the sound of purchases. The pleasant pitter-patter of little coins. Life was good.
All that was needed was for the guest of honor to make her entrance. The town bubbled with anticipation. And then it happened. Two figures emerged from the woods and stopped in their tracks. Xena: conqueror of nations, terror of Rome, warrior princess and god-killer stood motionless -- her mouth agape, her blue eyes wide in shock, her hand clenching the arm of her comely blonde partner (similarly posed). A cheer rose up like the roar of an earthquake and people began charging the stunned (and one might add stunning) couple.
Salmoneus got there just ahead of the star struck mob. “Ladies, ladies. On behalf of Amphipolis and all surrounding villages, let me officially welcome you home.”
“Gabrielle, tell me this isn’t going to be another musical.” The warrior reached back to draw her sword. The bard however was barely able to speak much less be reassuring.
“Oh posh!” Their self-appointed host dismissed their fears. “No musicals, no out of body channeling, no rifts or tiffs. Nothing even very thematic, I swear on my good name.”
The two beauties exchanged glances and hoped for the best. Xena crossed her arms across her chest, as she was want to do when attempting to dominate a conversation.
“Well, what then? What’s all this ….this…this fanfare about?”
“Why it’s just our way of welcoming our own warrior princess and her battling bard.” Salmoneus delivered as dramatically as imaginable.
The crowd cheered again. Xena smiled self-consciously and reached out to touch Gabrielle -- only the bard had wandered off. Xena found her munching on a BardWurst sandwich and eyeing a packet of chakram cookies.
“Now how did I know you’d say that.” Xena smiled until the chubby event chairman popped up once again.
“I got you a mug of port, my dear.” He patronized the woman warrior. “You do like your port if memory serves me.”
“It’s barely ten in the morning!” Xena said taking the mug with a mind to pour it out.
“Your interview starts in three minutes.” Salmoneus announced excitedly. “Let’s get moving toward the stage.”
Xena downed the port in a single gulp. Then belched. Salmoneus chuckled nervously.
“Interview?” Gabrielle queried. “What do you mean…interview?”
Animated and anxious all at once the chairman of the event responded. “Everyone wants to hear from you. There are questions. Issues.” He winked. “You two have been at the top of the Amphipolis rumor mill for years. Why you’ve even made the best sellers list. And now those inquiring minds who want to know are going to find out. Am I right, or am I right.”
Xena muttered. “Give me strength.” Gabrielle looked worried. “Who has been rumor mongering about us? And why on earth would any one care what we…wait a moment, what’s a best sellers list, Salmoneus? Does this have anything to do with the scrolls I have been sending back to Cyrene for safe keeping?”
“Best sellers each and every one.” He handed Gabrielle a large sack heavy with coins. “This is you share of the proceeds. I took the liberty of handling your material while you were away. Hope you don’t mind.”
Xena’s blue eyes narrowed. “Are you saying that you published Gabrielle’s..”
“SCROLLS!!!” The bard shrieked.
“Gabrielle, I thought you told me you donated the scrolls to the Academy in Athens.”
fidgeted nervously. “Not all of them,
Xe. You wouldn’t want me to donate
ALL of them now, would you? And we
can’t carry them all around with us. What
was I to do?”
The problem was not lost on her partner. “Um, well, no not all as you say. I guess asking Mom to store them for us was a good idea. Weren’t you worried that she might you know take a look at them.”
Gabrielle seemed momentarily confused and then snorted when she grasped Xena’s full thought. “Oh not THOSE scrolls, Xena. Those are safely….” She caught Salmoneus listening intently. “I’ll tell you about it latter, Xena.”
Baldy frowned disappointed but returned quickly to the point at hand. “Now we really must hurry. It’s time for the interview. The whole town is waiting. In fact, I understand we have guest reporters all the way from Poteidia and farther. My goodness gracious.”
Xena and Gabrielle put their heads together so that Xena could hear the answer to her question. Upon hearing it, her head shot straight up and she scowled. “There! You put them there!”
Gabrielle nodded. “Nobody is going to publish those scrolls!”
Salmoneus was shooing them on toward the center of town like a frantic hen all fluff and feathers. He talked constantly as if infatuated with the sound of his own voice and was way past rubbing the warrior the wrong way.
“Salmoneus, I ought to…”
“Of course, you should. But you won’t and by the way it’s important to remember that the proceeds of this event are going to a very worthy charity.”
“Which one?” asked Gabrielle.
“I’ll let you know later.” By then trio was at the head of a boisterous parade that wound itself through the festivities to a platform that had been erected especially for the occasion with seats for the two guests and a row of interviewers arranged behind a single moderator’s chair. All of this within plain view of the sizable audience, Xena and Gabrielle took their places waving self consciously at the exuberant crowd.
Salmoneus put up his hands to hush the assembly so that he could speak. Then surprising every one, including him, he more than rose to the occasion and introduced the two famous guests in terms every bit as glowing and laudatory as they deserved. A thunderous ovation ensued and then taking up his position as moderator, he gave the floor to the first of the interviewers and the questioning began.
“So Xena…may I call you Xena? That warrior princess part is rather laborious don’t you think.”
“Xena is my name. Go ahead use it, Ares. You’ve never had any trouble with it before.” Xena crossed her long legs and a gasp could be heard from the crowd the source of which was either the recognition of the god of war or the exposure of the warrior princess’ long, delectable thighs.
“Xena. Are you aware that Gabrielle documented your exploits?”
“Yes, of course I am. She often worked long into the evening on her scrolls. She can be very dedicated. She has tremendous focus.”
“Not to mention irritating. And were her accounts accurate?”
“Undoubtedly.” Xena smiled fondly at her blushing companion.
“Then you have read her scrolls and found them to be accurate and complete?”
“Uh, no. Not really, I didn’t have time to read...”
Ares bristled. “What then, did blondy read them to you? Around the campfire say, on those cold winter nights.” He bit his knuckle drawing blood.
“Well, yes she did read some of them to me.”
“Nevermind. Some things I just don’t want to know.”
The crowd moaned collectively. Cyrene turned to Gabrielle’s mother. “The god of war has always had a thing for my daughter. I don’t know why she won’t give him a shot. He’s very handsome, don’t you think? Why Ares can park his sword on my nightstand whenever he wants.” She confessed fanning herself with the day’s program of events.
“Some say he already did.” Hecuba snipped.
Meanwhile, his time expired Ares had yielded the interviewing to his sister the very lovely Aphrodite.
“Your heroic exploits aside, Xena, don’t you think that Gabrielle recorded them fabulously?” Dite stood as she spoke and placed her hands on her hips. “You have one adorable little partner there, warrior babe. Adorable, and talented too.” In the audience, Cyrene straightened her shoulders. “Seems that the goddess of love has a thing for your daughter.” She retorted still smarting from Hecuba’s nasty crack.
“ How nice! Maybe they could double date with you and Ares.” Hecuba scored again. They were on the verge of hair pulling. Gabrielle looked at the two mothers, then at Xena who was seething and over at Aphrodite who was primping suggestively. Things were going from bad to worse very quickly.
“Too bad you didn’t use your talent to record your sexual exploits, bardy-poo. Now that would be a scroll worth reading.” The goddess of love laughed. “Wait, come to think of it, you did, didn’t you. Why Gabrielle that is a lovely shade of red you are turning. I knew those fires of yours burn bright.”
“Hey, wait just a minute.” Xena jumped from the chair menacingly. “Leave Bri’s fires out of this.”
“Well, there is quite a bit of innuendo in her stories, you must admit.” Dite turned to Ares for conformation that he begrudgingly supplied. “I know that I’m convinced.” He sighed. “What do you think I find so irritating about Gabrielle anyway.”
Gabrielle stepped in to defuse the situation. “You are referring to the subtext, aren’t you.” Xena sat back down and let her partner continue. “There is quite a bit of subtext in some of the scrolls I admit it.”
The ohhs and ahhs from the audience seemed to punctuate her statement. It was becoming clear what they wanted to hear. The goddess of love had taken them to the brink but her allotted time had expired and it fell to another to complete the interview.
“Oh, too bad. Your time’s up.” Salmoneus appeared and supervised the changing of the interviewers. “Next.”
A matronly woman shaped like brick oven and twice as dowdy took over the inquisition. She had a scowl on her face that would stop a Minotaur. Xena scowled back and Gabrielle studied the woman as if searching for something familiar. In the audience Cyrene and Hecuba had turned their backs to each other, each fuming and huffing as they preserved the reputations of their offspring.
“You don’t remember me, do you?” The third interviewer began.
“I’m supposed to know you?” Xena asked incredulous. “I don’t think so.”
“I was the young woman you saved from poisoning myself when you ended the curse that had cause that day to repeat and repeat.”
Gabrielle leaned to whisper in Xena’s ear. “Been there, done that.” Xena nodded in understanding.
“Do you remember now?”
“You were that skinny young girl with the romantic lover who just couldn’t let you die?”
The interviewer nodded albeit somewhat sadly. “That’s me. And I have just one question. Why did you have to butt in anyway?”
Gabrielle blanched. “What happened? Where is your handsome Romeo now? You two were obviously the poster kids for happy ever after. Surely he didn’t leave you.”
“Leave me? Hardly. The stupid s.o.b. is still around. In fact he will be here as soon as he finishes getting dressed. Of course that might take four or five hours. Time means nothing to the man. Not since that day repeated endlessly and he got it in his head that he can do a thing over and over and over until he gets it right. You have any idea what that does to making supper? Or planning? Or sex? I’m so tired of his “do overs” I could kill someone. I’d kill him if I could be sure he wouldn’t show up the next day and tell me how to do it better.”
Gabrielle extended her hand in sympathy, but Xena couldn’t keep from chuckling.
“Please accept our apology.” The bard told her while Xena whispered just loud enough for Bri to hear. “This day better not repeat.”
The woman looked annoyed. “I accept your apology, Gabrielle. You were an innocent bystander anyway.”
“Okay. Okay. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” Xena managed.
“Oh that’s right. Repeat yourself. Like I need to hear things twice.”
Salmoneus aware that the crowd grew restless with the questioning having taken a turn to the uninteresting moved in to the rescue and once again the interviewers were switched. The new one, a man of thirty something with heavy make-up and an eye patch straightened in his chair.
“You know what the audience wants to hear, ladies. The truth. Just the truth. You two are lovers, aren’t you.” He pronounced in tones worthy of a traveling evangelist.
“Is that a question?” Xena asked, her keen hearing picking up her mother’s dramatic gasp for breath.
“Or an observation?” Gabrielle queried. In the corner of her vision she thought she saw her mother faint.
“I deem it a fact, sister. Based on numerous longing glances, several out right kisses at least one of which was clearly on the mouth, and various touches and vows…it is obvious to me that you two are lovers.”
“That how you get your kicks, sonny? Reading about other peoples glances, kisses and touches?” The warrior princess analyzed her interviewer. “What a pity. You need to get a few life experiences of your own.”
“That’s not what you said when you occupied my body for a few days while yours was being reanimated.” With a dashing gesture, Autolycus removed his eye patch and revealed himself to his dear friends. “You have to admit that gives me a unique perspective on the question at hand, don’t you?”
Gabrielle and Xena nodded. Indeed it did.
“So you are here to reveal to the world, or at least the known world, who really kissed Gabrielle during 'The Quest'.”
“Not to mention whose hand was on my butt.”
“Yeah, let’s not mention that, makes my jaw hurt just to think about it.” The King of Thieves admitted.
“Fair to say then,” Xena stood up. “It was my kiss and your hand.”
Gabrielle smiled. “Must admit, I had my own doubts about the hand.”
Cyrene and Hecuba sighed. They had only a few choices. Rail against the obvious, though neither of them could think of why, or rejoice in the feelings their children shared for each other. Being mothers the choice was simple. They embraced and forgave each other their previous snippiness (but filed away details for use in later spats.)
Meanwhile on stage, the warrior and her bard took control. Rising to their feet they faced the audience. It could have turned ugly; it could have gotten mean. But it didn’t.
Putting her arms up, Gabrielle asked for silence and when the buzz simmered down, she spoke in a soft, yet confident voice.
“I think what you want to know is are we in love. The answer is yes.” Xena nodded and took the bard’s outstretched hand. “We are lovers in every sense of the word and any one who has read our scrolls or seen us together can have no real doubt of that.”
Everything was silent. Even Aphrodite although she did wear an enormous smile while her brother sulked down in his chair.
It was Xena’s turn to speak. “We fell in love lifetimes ago. We are soul mates, which means that Gabrielle is my partner, my courage, and my inspiration. You have heard me tell her so on many occasions. Such as: ‘The only reason I do any good at all, is because I do it with you.’ ‘Even in death I will never leave you.’ ‘Gabrielle, I will always be here.’ The simple truth is that I love Gabrielle with all my heart and soul and will spend eternity with her.”
The bard reached up and kissed the warrior’s check. “And I love Xena in exactly the same way. I knew when I first saw her that we were meant to go through life together. That is the real path we are on. I love you Xena.”
It was enough. The crowd was answered, fulfilled and content at last. They could re-read the scrolls many times now and see new things. What had seemed hints will seem facts to them in the coming years. The love story of their time would be Xena and Gabrielle.
In the audience a woman completed her note taking, gathered her belongings and headed home. She had been convinced before the interviews but now having heard the pronouncements, she was a true believer who had a mission unknown even to herself. A hundred generations hence, her descendant (named Rob Tapert) would co-develop and produce the video media sensation that would be called Xena: Warrior Princess. From her genes would spring the subtext that launches a thousand websites and inspires a few hundred bards who likewise sense the essence of this timeless love. Perhaps in one ancestor or another we were each there DNA-ically speaking, because for us the interview is unnecessary and the questions have long been answered.
Xena and Gabrielle love each other in every way and all is right with the world. No matter what time line one lives in. Regardless of who does the interviewing.
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