Dedicated to my little blue crab.
The usual disclaimers. Sing with me now: These characters aren't mine. They belong to Universal Studios and Renaissance Pictures. But I just borrowed them for this story which cannot be reproduced or used without my permission (available for a nominal bribe.) It (the story) is about subtext so if you are homophobic, go to…some place else. If you are humor challenged, back away from the PC. If you are underage, your mother is calling. If you live where this is illegal, may I ask why? Assuming you have none of these disabilities, proceed to the story.
Send comments to: MaryEic@AOL.com I love gentle criticism. Well, I do love e-mail.
The weary warrior lowered her gorgeous, lanky frame to the surface of a large flat rock and breathed an almost mournful sigh. As she did so, the left strap of her breastplate broke and shot into the adjacent shrubs. She shook her head as if expecting something of the sort to have happened. It had been a bad day. A Monday type of day, except that Mondays hadn’t been invented yet. Nonetheless, Xena and her bard had had the equivalent of a Monday -- whatever could go wrong, had. All that the dark haired warrior princess wanted now was to sit and sharpen her sword in peace. Surely that couldn't be too much to ask, she told herself searching for the sharpening stone amid her bedroll. But she wouldn’t bet on it.
Her ever alert senses gathered in the sounds of the little brook flowing nearby, the evening breeze wafting through the cypress trees, the scurry of little animals headed home for supper (including the rabbit that had dodged her chakram an hour earlier) and, not least of all, the melodic tones of Gabrielle clanging pots and pans while muttering beneath her breath. "Not my fault!" Xena thought.
"None of this was my fault." Gabrielle told her assorted cooking implements at that same moment.
Both were wrong and knew it.
Xena looked up in time to observe the lithe blonde bard trip over the firewood and drop the frying pan on her foot. The new bruise would go nicely with the large purple welt on Gabrielle’s knee from a stumble that morning.
"Give it up, Gabrielle" Xena prompted half-heartedly. "Just accept the fact that today isn't working. Don't fight it!"
"Go to Hades!" came the highly irritated response seconds before the cooking pot thudded against a nearby tree stump.
“That’s it, Bri. Kill ‘em all!”
Blue eyes rolled skyward as Xena cracked a faint smile. It's a pity that the young took life so seriously, she thought, particularly on days like this. She stretched out her legs and leaned back against the tree she assumed was behind her. It wasn’t and she fell off the rock with a less than ceremonious thud.
Gabrielle cackled as she retrieved her cooking pot. “Way to go, Xena. Keep working on those flips and you’ll have them perfected in no time.”
Xena didn’t smile this time, merely dusted her leathers, rubbed her bum and re-perched herself on the rock.
“Have you seen my sharpening stone?” she queried.
“Yeah. It’s gray and round.” The blonde smirked as she restacked the firewood and tossing her hair back worked to light the kindling.
“Don’t mention it.”
Xena scrounged around in the bedroll holding her breastplate together with one hand. Finally she located the stone and drew her sword from its scabbard. Lying the sword across her lap, she spit on the stone and prepared to draw it expertly across the cold smooth metal when she noticed that the hilt was loose. One good tug of incredulity brought the sword handle completely away from the shaft that slipped lifelessly to the ground. Xena held the handle up before her and stared at it, mouth agape.
“I think you may have over done it, Xena.” Gabrielle snickered. “Don’t you need more of a blade to scare the bad guys?”
“Har de har har.” Xena snarled bringing the bard to a full laugh. “Just don’t set yourself ablaze lighting the campfire, alright.”
A flash of worry crossed Gabrielle’s face and the laughter ceased immediately. Cautiously she struck the stones in her hands together and a spark caught the kindling. “Finally. Something went right for once.”
Barely had the words been uttered when a blast of wind put out the fledgling fire. “Oh, son of a bacchae.”
“Forget it, Bri. I don’t want any tea anyway. I’d probably choke to death on it. Let’s just go to bed.” Xena stood up catching her shin on a sharp edge of rock. As she jerked her leg free her breastplate gave up the remaining clasp and clattered to the ground. “This day can’t end too soon, if you ask me.”
Her companion nodded and tossed the flint stones into the woodpile where they sparked and started a healthy blaze. The two women looked at each other for a moment before shaking their heads in unison and gathering up their bedrolls. They placed the bedding on a flat section of dirt careful not to get too close to the now roaring campfire.
Xena shed her leathers, yawned, stretched and settled her long body on the soft fur. Gabrielle pulled off her boots, dropped her skirt and pulled her BGSB from her weary shoulders. The effort threw her off balance and she tumbled onto the bedroll, her fall mercifully stopped by Xena’s midsection.
Choke. Sputter. “Think nothing of it.” Xena rasped, rubbing her ribs. Then pulling the bard close, she curled gingerly around her, spooning, and leaned forward to plant a kiss on the blonde curls at the nape of Gabrielle’s neck. Gabrielle chose that moment to lean back in a botched attempt to snuggle and clocked the warrior in the nose.
“No, really. I’m sorry.” Gabrielle turned and jammed a shoulder into Xena’s breast.
The two pulled apart before further damage could be inflected and Gabrielle, seeing Xena with one hand perched on the bridge of her nose and the other caressing a sore breast, had to suppress a guilty giggle.
“No, honest, he he he. I didn’t mean to…”
“Okay. I know. It was an accident. The one hundredth accident of the day.”
The two sank into a wary rest. Xena's mind replayed the more memorable events of the day in black and white, sparing her the colorized version that would prove too horrific even for a seasoned warlord. The spider had jumped on Gabrielle from a tree and the shriek had startled Argo causing her to rear and Xena to catapult off the back landing on her shoulder. In her dream the spider could be heard laughing even above Gabrielle's squeals of terror. Why the bard had decided to use her staff to swing at the arachnid was not clear in the dream (or during the actual event for that matter) but the staff missing the spider had found Xena's buttock quite squarely. The force of the blow had sent the warrior to the ground again and she relived the experience of momentarily routing for the spider, but it had skipped off by then satisfied with its accomplishment. "I used to love spiders." Xena mumbled in her fitful sleep. "I don't think Bri did."
Gabrielle on the other hand, was visited with visions of the noon meal and the tavern they will never return to. The stew was too hot. "Not my fault." She whimpered semiconscious. "I was waiting for it to cool off." Perhaps Xena shouldn't have leaned on the table edge like that -- suddenly, without warning. Or perhaps the gods had seized the moment to torment them. Whatever, once again in the bard's dream Xena leaned on the table and the stew magically tumbled into the bard's lap. All that Xena got was the tankard of port down her chest. Nice, cool port wine. While Gabrielle experienced a whole new definition of hot, wet thighs. Still even in her dream, Gabrielle was remorseful and stirred awake hoping to repair the incident.
"Tomorrow I will retrieve your chakram from the lake where you threw it.”
“I didn’t throw it into the lake.” Xena sat up. “It bounced off the tree.”
“The one the rabbit hid behind.”
“Oh, THAT tree.” Gabrielle’s stomach rumbled hungrily. “Don’t remind me.”
“You brought it up.”
They glared at each other for a few seconds then turned their backs to each other and waited once again for sleep (and a better set of dreams) to take them away. Instead they got rain. A bright flash of lightening heralded an instant downpour that soaked them and put out the fire before either of them could gather their wits or their bedding and head for the trees.
Xena hung the wet furs on a pair of branches creating a lean-to that provided minimal shelter. Gabrielle, wet and miserable, sat with her knees drawn up and her head hanging forlornly down. “Xe, did you do something to alienate the gods. Something more than usual that is?”
“NO! I didn’t. Did you?”
“I don’t do that sort of thing. You are the one that they fight with. Not me."
“Oh, please. Aren't you the one they call the irritating blonde?"
Gabrielle looked up at Xena, rain dripping from her matted blonde hair. “Maybe Ares is in a snit again. Come on Xena. Tell him that you’re sorry. Make nice. I can’t take this much longer.”
A clap of thunder drowned out the final exchange. And a second flash of lightening dissipated the angst.
Xena settled beside her partner and enfolded her gentle. “I’m sorry. “
Limbs entwined they carefully sought out lips and sealed their reconciliation with a tender kiss. The rain calmed into a steady rhythm and the two continued to find comfort in each other’s embrace. Xena caressed the side of her bard’s face with her fingertips while Gabrielle massaged the warrior’s breast she had wounded moments before.
“I love you.” They said with synchronized precision.
The troubles of the day receded as the libidos stirred. Lips, hands, bodies pressed together and for a moment the world hinted of a perfect moment. Xena laid Gabrielle gently on her back, unaware of the rocks beneath the bard’s body. The bard ignored the jabbing pain and swung her legs around Xena’s waist, or attempted to. Unfortunately, she merely succeeded in kneeing the warrior’s groin. But they pressed on. Xena stroked the bard’s head tearing little tufts of wet hair from their follicles. Gabrielle nipped at Xena’s chin, drawing blood inadvertently. Focused, Xena bent down to suckle a pink, pliant nipple but miscalculated and grazed it with her teeth. Reacting to the nip, Gabrielle thrust her bosom upward and cut off Xena’s air. Gasping, Xena arched her back and accidentally drove a hip into the bard’s abdomen. Stifling a shriek, Gabrielle clung on to the warrior’s head, pinning her breathless companion to her chest. Xena shook herself loose, drew a much-needed breath, and then dove down intent on planting a row of kisses across Gabrielle’s trim midriff. She got an elbow in the eye for her efforts. They moaned and retreated to assess the carnage. Bruised, bloodied and broken, they gave it up. Eventually they both slipped into a frustrated sleep as the rain puddled around them.
Awakening before dawn, Xena shooed the scores of feasting mosquitoes and scratched at the blooming welts. The rain had stopped and she sleepily toddled off to pee avoiding the edges of the briar patch that Gabrielle had stumbled upon an hour earlier. In the darkness she located the several pieces of her sword and repaired it cutting herself only once on the rather dull blade. Then retrieving her bedroll from beside the sleeping bard she laid it out nearby and settled down to sleep. This time visions of battle came to comfort her and she slept peacefully until awakened by the sound of a sword cutting the air as it moved rapidly toward her head. In a split second her instincts kicked in and the warrior princess caught the sword between her hands an inch before it would have stuck her beautiful face.
With a smile blinding in its glee, Xena jumped up to face attackers she knew how to vanquish. "At last a fight I can win!" she thought juices flowing. And relishing the battle she bested them one and all pausing only to rouse Gabrielle by jumping on a water skin. "Oh yes." The world was put right again and this day would be a much better Day in the Life.
Epilog: The partners experienced several perfect years subsequent to this period of technical difficulties and were not again beset by such troubles (neverminding death, rift and sheep dung baths) until they wandered into the nightmare of season five…shudder. But that is another story much of which should have remained untold. Here is to hopes for season six and a return of our ass-kicking, long legged, leather-clad, subtexty bard-loving warrior and her quick-tongued, orally-skilled, redheaded, maintexty “I-love-you-Xena” bard.