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Disclaimer: Story is mine; characters aren't. The title is supposed to be meant as a spoof of the movie title "Hope Floats."

Soap Floats



"C'mon, Xena," Gabrielle complained. "It's gonna be well after nightfall before we reach Zenos at this rate!"

Xena and Argo picked their way down a rocky incline. She wrinkled her nose. "I just wanna keep upwind of you!"

Gabrielle clutched the handful of leaves she'd gathered off a tree and tried to scrub at herself again, but she just ground the mess in deeper. "You're the one who insisted on the shortcut through the cow pasture!"

Xena smiled. "And you're the one who slipped and fell again and again into cow pies."

Gabrielle mumbled, "Old boots. No traction."

Xena hurried to catch up with Gabrielle and at that moment, they rounded a bend that led off the main path. "Time for a bath."

Gabrielle saw a sheltered waterfall with a pool beneath it and smiled. "Good! I haven't been able to stand the smell of myself, either," she admitted. She reached into her knapsack and brought out a smaller leather pouch. "And I can test the results of my experiment."

"What experiment?" Xena's blue eyes narrowed in suspicion as she looked over Gabrielle's shoulder.

"Soap." Gabrielle showed Xena the kinds of soap she'd been making.

Xena suddenly paused. "Aphrodite."

"How can you tell?"

"Smell the roses? Your soap is made from lavender, right?"

Gabrielle nodded and Aphrodite appeared. Aphrodite wrinkled her nose. "Whew, nasty! Why's Sweet Pea not so sweet today?"

"Xena insisted on a short cut through a very slippery cow pasture."

Aphrodite turned her gaze on Xena and Xena shrugged.

"So, why are you here?"

"Can't I drop in to say hi to my favorite duo?"

Xena rolled her eyes. "We're just about to take a bath, so if you'd excuse us…."

Aphrodite hung around. "Not so fast, Warrior Babe. I wanna see Sweet Pea's soap tests."

Gabrielle, half stripped already, asked, "Wanna join us?"

Aphrodite laughed. "Why bathe when I always smell like this?" Xena and Gabrielle got another whiff of roses.

"Good point," Gabrielle conceded. She slipped a loop of rope, with soap on the end of it, over her wrist and gathered up the two other bars, and then she strolled to the water's edge and slowly submerged. She swam one-armed toward the water tumbling over the waterfall. Xena stripped and quickly joined her.

When Xena was close enough, Gabrielle shoved the two bars of soap at her. "Hold these."

Xena took each bar and examined them closely as Gabrielle took the bar of soap on her wrist and washed under the falls with it. One of the bars smelled like lavender, but the other was barely scented. They were about the same size, but the scantly-scented one was just a little bit lighter.

Once clean, Gabrielle swam back to Xena. Aphrodite called to her, "How did it go?"

"You won't lose your soap with this soap-on-a-rope, but the rope tightens when it gets wet and it chafes a bit."

She slipped it off her wrist and gave it to Xena to hold. Then, she took the bar that had the most scent. She held it at water level with one hand and held her other hand a few inches below it, underwater. She let go and the soap sank immediately. She repeated the same procedure with the barely-scented bar. Xena smiled. Gabrielle smiled. Aphrodite yelled, "Way to go, Sweet Pea!"

"SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!! Not so loud! If Salmonius hears, he'll hound me all the way to Thrace and back," Gabrielle teased the goddess.

She turned to Xena with a bright smile still on her face. "Whaddya know? Soap floats."


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