Smile, Xena! You’re on Candid Camera!


Kim Pritekel

"So, tell me, Gabrielle, why do you want to do this to your friend?" the man asked in a kind voice with a definite smile in the tone.

"Well, first of all, Mr. Funtius,"

"Call me Peterus."

"Oh, okay, Petrus, it’s Xena’s birthday soon, and every year on my birthday she does some practical joke me. You know, like the one year she handed me a lookie thing, and there was black sword polish all over it, and so I looked like Pete the dog all day. Or there was the time,"

The man stopped the small, blonde woman with a gentle hand on her shoulder.

"Well, Gabrielle, as interesting as that is, our audience doesn’t have all day." He smiles and gestures to all the people who had gathered in front of their little make-shift stage, set in front of a thicket of bushes near the Amazon camp.

"Oh," the blonde laughed nervously. "Guess they don’t have all day do they, yeah," she trailed off. "So I guess what I’m saying is, it’s Xena’s turn to know what it’s like to be humiliated on that day of days. I want the warrior princess to have a nice little dose of her own medicine. I want-"

"We can do all that and more. Right audience?"

"Yeah!" came the resounding cry. The host of the traveling show put a well-manicured finger to his lips.

"Shih. We don’t want to alarm the warrior princess just yet." He turned to the gorgeous little woman next to him. He had no idea Amazons were made so good these days. Maybe he should avoid the bars and hit the camps. Clearing his throat, he put his smile back on. "So, what did you have in mind?"

The blonde dynamo next to him smiled, her green eyes crinkling as she did. Oh, she had an idea, and he had the feeling it would be a dozy.


(Tonight on KXWP TV, we all know her, we all love her, and we all know how much she loves to kick some serious butt! Tonight, trusted friend, companion and bard we all love to try and nail the subtext on, the real are they aren’t they duo on primetime, will try and pull the chain male over Xena’s baby blues with a little help from the Amazons and Candid Camera. Smile, Xena! You may just be being watched!....... Tired of those disgusting blades? They tarnish, they rust, and they become an icky mess when removed from an opponents chest and gosh darn it, it gets all covered with blood! Now the Calouside Company has the product for all you warriors, or clean up gals to take care of all your messy, muddy, bloody, gooey messes, with Rubitoff! Proven to eat through the thickest of gut residues. Just one application, and your blade is as good as new, and, Rubitoff won’t eat through the metal! Give it a try. Denars back if not fully satisfied after a whole battle’s worth. Remember, Rubitoff, the goo that can chew through any fight.)


The warrior stretched long arms above her head, stretching out her body, a smile firmly planted on her chiseled face. She didn’t have to open her eyes to know that Gabrielle was already gone. She had heard that stupid alarm beckoning the blonde bard to a meeting with her fellow Amazons. Since they were staying at the village, Gab would have to start following all their customs again.

Oh, what lovely payback for making them stay here so long.

Blue eyes opened, and she looked around the Queen’s hut. As much as she missed her dear friend Ephiny, she was glad that the tribe was doing so well.

Standing from the bed, she stretched again, loving how the little feisty bard could give her such a workout, you know, what with her practicing with her sais and everything.

With a chuckle at her own thoughts, she headed out into the woods to start her day by relieving her bladder, which felt like it was about as big as one of Gabrielle’s... bags. Fully stocked, too.

"Xena!" she turned as she stepped out of the hut in just her leathers. The aforementioned little battling bard, she really did like that name for her best friend, was running toward her.

"Yes?" the warrior drawled, annoyed that she’d been stopped before she’d gotten to find a makeshift outhouse.

"Hi." The bard said. Xena quirked a dark brow.

"Hi. Can I go now?" Gabrielle looked down, seeing the slight pee pee dance Xena was doing, and waved her off.

"Sure." She smiled, green eyes shining. "But I need to talk to you."


As the warrior walked away, Gabrielle walked back into their hut, looking at the mess that she was met with.

"Son of a Bacchae, Xena," she muttered, noting armor scattered, Xena’s sword sticking out of the wall, her chakram rung around one of the candles. She grinned, remembering when Xena had put it there last night. She loved when Xena was... energetic before sleep. Shaking the grin off her face, she began to clean up, trying to keep her shaking hands and nervous thoughts occupied until Xena’s return. She really hoped Xena wouldn’t be mad. But, oh she couldn’t wait to see the look on her best friend’s face!

"So, what’s up, Gabrielle?" Xena asked from behind her, looking much fresher and definitely more awake, wet hair slicked back from her face.

"Isn’t that stream great?" Gabrielle commented, noting Xena’s hair, and the water still dripping down the side of her face. Xena quirked a brow.

"Well, yeah. I’ve used it every time we’ve come here." Careful, Gabby. You don’t want her to catch on.

"Oh, yeah, but I mean it’s just such a great morning and everything, you know, warm, so the cool water is quite rejuvenating,"

Xena crossed her arms over her chest, puckering her lips as she studied the bard, knowing something was up, but waiting for the bard to tell her.

"Xena, I need to ask you a favor." The blonde finally said, holding one of Xena’s gauntlets to her chest before reaching up and tucking a blonde strand of hair behind her ear. Oh, she loved having short hair so much better. It was undeniably cooler in the summer, and less of a hassle during a fight, and-

"Get to the point, Gabrielle. I want to get my, you know," blue eyes looked into green, Xena trying to see if Gabrielle had forgotten what today was. "My annual hunt in."


The host of the show chuckled, as did the audience. "Look at that warrior princess," he looked through the bushes to see where Gabrielle had left the window open so the audience could see what was going on. "She’s just a little confused that her best friend of six years has forgotten her birthday. Uh oh."


"You want me to WHAT!?"

Birds flew out of trees with a panicked screeched, wildlife in the surrounding forest running for cover, and a nervous little blonde grinning sheepishly as she stood before a very angry warrior princess.

"Come on, Xena. It’s only for a little while."

"Why me? Why not one of the other Amazons, or you, for Hades’ sake! You’re the queen!"

"I know, I know," Gabrielle held her hands out to try and mollify the dark warrior who looked as though she were trying to hold back an explosion. "You’re a great fighter, Xena, and that’s what the tribe needs right now. Their numbers are dwindled, especially after Caesar and Pompie came though here last spring. You know what we’re looking for, and there’s only one warrior present during interviews." The blonde explained. Xena took several deep breaths, closing her eyes as she used her hands to try and bring in waves of fresh air into her lungs. Finally the blue eyes opened and she looked down at her friend.

"So let me get this straight," she said, her voice forcibly calm. "You’re telling me that there is a line of young Amazon wannabes coming into the village today, and they’re going to be herded into a hut, interviewed by an Amazon, and... me, to see if they qualify?"

The blonde nodded with a smile.


"And you want me to be one of the babysitters there? And on my, well, day off?"

"It’s not a babysitter, Xena. You’d be doing the Amazons a great service. Plus," the bar took a small step closer to the warrior. "You’d be doing me a great big ol’ favor, and I could always pay you back."

"Really?" Xena said, her voice low and a tad husky.

"Well, of course." The bard began to take another step toward her companion when the door banged open.


"Well, uh oh." The host tsked his tongue. "That won’t make the warrior princess happy."


The friends turned to see a young Amazon called Twila standing there with a smile on her face.

"Our Queen, and Xena, the applicants are beginning to arrive."

"Thank you, Twila. We’ll be there in a moment." Gabrielle said. The young girl bowed slightly, and hurried off. Gabrielle looked up into the eyes of her companion. "Will you do this for me, Xena?" she asked quietly. With a final sigh, the warrior nodded.

"Yes. But only because it’s you."


"Awwww," the audience murmured as one.

"Looks like we’ve got our warrior." Peterus laughed.


The hut was hot, but luckily someone had had the foresight to take down part of one of the walls near a nice thicket of bushes so a nice, cool breeze could swirl around inside, and neither the interviewers or interviewees would get overheated.

Xena sat at the table, one of the more academic of the Amazons, Cania, sitting next to her. An empty chair sat across from them where the Amazon hopefuls would be sitting.

Xena sighed as she ran a hand through long, dark strands, glancing outside, wishing with everything in her that she was out there, and not stuck in here interviewing a bunch of wannabes who probably couldn’t stand on their head and run an opponent through, anyway. Such a waste of time, and on her birthday.

She sighed again. Gabrielle, you owe me big.

Her attention was snapped to the door when a squeaky voice beamed, "Hi!" trying not to roll her eyes, she smiled at the perky youngster who wore too little, and probably had too few brain cells. The girl with short red hair walked up to them, and extended her hand to Cania first. "I’m Munada. I’m so excited to be here." She gushed. The Amazon took the offered hand and shook it.

"Welcome, Munada." Cania said in her usual quiet tone. The redhead turned to Xena next.

"Hi." She squeaked. Xena smiled with a nod, taking the girl’s forearm in a warrior’s grasp. The girl looked down at their arms, a baffled expression on her young face. Yup, she’ll have to go. Doesn’t even know the warrior’s grasp.

Xena sighed.


"Uh oh." Gabrielle muttered as she sat next to Peterus. "That girl doesn’t stand a chance." She laughs, covering her mouth so as not to be heard by the keen ears of the warrior.



"So, Munada," Cania said, glancing down at previously prepared scroll. Xena snuck a peek at the questions. Damn, should of thought of that. "Why do you want to be an Amazon?"

"Well," the girl began to rub her hands nervously up and down her barely clad thighs. Xena’s eyes followed the movement, barely hearing the squeaky reply. "First of all, I think they’re kind of cool, and they’re definitely beautiful." The girl looked at Cania, taking in her thick, dark brow, yes, I saw brow, the Gillette hadn’t been invented yet, and the girl grimaced. "For the most part." She turned her attention to Xena. "And I think they have really cool outfits. I just love wearing leather." She finished with a smile.

"I think you’re trying for the wrong group," Xena muttered.

"Okay." Cania scribbled something down. "Xena?"

"Huh? Oh, uh, hi." She smiled at the girl, all the ways she could possibly torture Gabrielle slowly running through her brain, a nice, graphic picture of each accompanying them. "So, can ya fight?"

"Well, sort of." The girl cocked her head to the side, chewing on her bottom lip as she thought, for a really long time.

"Ya know, we’re kind of limited on time per girl." Xena said with what she hoped would pass for a smile.

"Oh." Giggle. "I can show you what I can do, if you like."

"Please." Cania said. Xena glared at the uni-brow Amazon.

One after another of these so-called Amazons paraded through the hut, most not having a brain but could brandish a weapon, and those that did have brain, were squeamish about blood.

Xena ran her hands through her hair, feeling her blood temperature raise with each annoying response, and each annoying girl, and each warrior-crazed fan that tried to get her to sign their own variety BGSBs.

"If you’d excuse me, Xena, I have to find a bush." Cania said to the warrior, their next hopeful sitting in front of them. "Why don’t you do your part of the interview, and I’ll finish when I get back." The Amazon smiled at the warrior, and Xena scowled back.

Once the other woman had left the hut, she turned back to the hopeful in front of her.

"So," she began, trying to make light chit chat, yippy, her favorite thing in the world. You are so dead, Gabrielle. How could you do this to me on my birthday! She felt like whining, and not only did she feel like whining, she felt like whining really loud, and stomping her booted foot, and clutching her hands into fists, and beating them against her head as she squeezed her eyes tightly closed, and then fell to the ground on her stomach, beating the earth with those same fists, and her toes.

"I hate my father."

Xena’s attention snapped to the present, wide blue eyes settling on dark. The woman across from her sat slouched in her chair, arms crossed over her chest, lower lip protruding like a sulking teenager.


"As Xena’s fellow interviewer leaves the room saying she has to use the bathroom, Xena is left with another interviewee who she’s not exactly going to know how to handle. See the confusion on her face already?"


"Excuse me?" Xena asked, not entirely understanding the direction this conversation was going.

"I hate my mother, too. And my brother, and my dog and my old pet fish, Daisy. She used to stink, made my whole room stink, you know?" the girl looked up through long, dark bangs, meeting the warrior’s eyes.

"Um, sure." Xena smiled. "So, uh, what’s your name?"

"Why?" the girl brought her hand up and stuck her finger into her left nostril for a moment, before seeming to find whatever it was that had captivated her up there. She looked at the fingertip, then her hand disappeared beneath her long skirt. Xena watched, not sure what the hell the girl was doing, or what she was supposed to do. Stay focused, Xena. It will all be over soon.

"Well, if you want to be an Amazon, you have to have a name."

"Fine. Call me Jane."

The warrior cocked her head to the side. "Jane? What kind of name is that? Where are you from?"

"One question at a damn time!" the girl slammed her fist on the table, dark eyes bright with fury. Xena felt her hand itch to grab hold of her chakram and give the girl a nice haircut and nose job. "My mother used to always ask me tons of questions at once." The girl stood, Xena’s hand automatically going to the weapon, but waiting, watching to see what she’d do. The girl walked around the circumference of the hut, tapping her hand on the walls, poking at the thatched roof overhead. "This is a good thatch." She grabbed a loose strand, and yanked, putting the vegetation into her mouth.



"I don’t know about you, but I think I’m just about as confused as our warrior, here. This applicant may just be one banana short of a bundle."


"Listen, Jane, why don’t you sit down so we can begin." Xena said, not sure what the hell to do. Cania, where the Hades are you!

"We’ve only just begun," the girl began to sing, swaying in time to her warbled tune. Xena’s brows drew, not sure if she should join her, or beat her senseless. Maybe she should just beat herself senseless. Followed by the bard.,

"Do you know how to fight?" the warrior finally decided to ask, trying valiantly to get this interview back on track without killing the nut cake who continued to roam the hut, now humming her song.

"You gotta fight, for the right, to paaaarrrrty!" the girl yelled out triumphantly. She turned to Xena with a smile on her face. "Do you like my battle cry?"


"Yeah, you know," the girl closed her eyes, leaned back, and belted out her little cry. "Paaaaaaaaaarty!" she grinned. "You like it don’t you?" suddenly the girl’s entire countenance slid into that of a little girl, lip protruding in a pout, big doe eyes blinking back tears, shoulders slumped.

"I think I’ve lost my mind," Xena muttered, staring at this lunatic before her. "You know, Jane, I’m thinking that maybe this isn’t the best job for you right now." She stood, ready to bodily take the girl out of the hut if necessary. She’d had enough.


"Uh, oh. Looks like our warrior has reached her limit. Maybe we should take her off the hook."


Xena walked over to the girl, trying to keep her movements nice and slow to avoid any bloodshed.

"You’ve got to go now,"

"I think we’re alone now," the girl began to bellow, but then stopped, looking up at the warrior, a huge smile plastered to her face. "Know what, Xena?"


"What?" the warrior growled.

"We’re not alone at all." The girl, very bravely, put a hand on Xena’s arm, and pointed her toward the cleared out wall, and the thicket beyond. "See those bushes?"


"Look real hard, and you’ll see a whole bunch of people staring at you."

The warrior squinted blue eyes, and sure enough. There were at least ten sets of eyes looking at her, faces smiling at her. What the... "Smile, warrior princess, you’re on Candid Camera!"

Xena looked at the girl, totally baffled when the door opened, and Gabrielle entered, followed by Cania, and the entire Amazon village, and their train of nutty applicants from earlier.

"Happy birthday, Xena!" they all yelled in unison, a huge birthday cake in Gabrielle’s hands.

Aw, garsh.

A huge smile spread across Xena’s face, murderous thoughts from earlier melting away as her heart warmed.

The End

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