Legal disclaimer: Xena, Gabrielle and Argo are all the legal property of MCA, Universal, and whoever else might have something to say about the show.
Violence: A little. But considering it is Xena's day off, no heads will be flying and arms will stay attached to their bodies in this one. Gabby's toes did get hurt pretty badly however, but after some salve and a hot tub, she felt much better.
Bard challenge: This isn't really a disclaimer or anything, though, if you know the bards on our list, you could consider it a warning. One of the bards decided it would be a nice idea to challenge us all to write a story about a specific subject. It wasn't my idea, really. So if you don't like this story, don't come complaining to me, it isn't my fault.
Xena's day off
Gabrielle looked at her friend sitting across the fire. The warrior was sharpening her sword with slow movements, staring into the flames with a tired expression. Her eyes were shaded with sleep and from time to time her eyelids fell shut. The last few days had been pure torment for Xena. Warlords, gods, earthquakes... they'd had it all this past week and it was taking its toll on the warrior. But Xena was too stubborn to admit that, of course. Gabrielle sighed, then walked over to her dozing friend, causing her to wake up in shock. "Xena, you need some time off."
Xena directed a raised eyebrow at her friend. "Why?"
Gabrielle threw up her hands. "Why?! Because you've had a lousy couple of days, because you haven't had a real holiday in four years and because you couldn't even kill a fly in this state."
Xena took on a hurt expression. "That is not true! I'm in perfect shape! Just watch..." She stood and pushed herself off the ground, making a flip. Then she landed, stumbling on a few paces before she regained her balance. She let her eyes meet knowing green ones. . "I landed on a rock." She muttered, then sat again.
"Sure Xena," Gabrielle comforted her mockingly, "There was a rock... It's OK." She patted her friend on the shoulder. Xena immediately slapped the hand away, then she gazed into the fire. "Warriors don't take holidays." She muttered in a cranky tone.
Gabrielle sighed. "It's the reputation thing again, isn't it? I should have known..." The bard said, softly shacking her head.
Xena gave her friend a foul look, then gazed back into the flames. "Even if I wanted to I couldn't just take a holiday Gabrielle. People need our help. We can't just take off and leave them hanging like that."
Gabrielle let out a deep breath. Well, Xena did have a point there...."What if... " the bard took on a pensive look. "What if we switched?"
Xena frowned her brows. "What do you mean?"
"Well, you're right, we can't just stop helping people and all. But you really need some time off from being a warrior. So..., I'll be the warrior for one day."
"You're gonna be me?" Xena said, raising both eyebrows.
"Well... Yeah, kind of..." Gabrielle responded
"And I'm supposed to pretend I'm you?"
"Yeah,... well, I mean, you don't have to start liking shopping all of a sudden or anything. It's more that I'll take all the blows and you can stay back a little and relax."
Xena scratched her jaw, thinking about the idea. Then she nodded. "OK."
Gabrielle looked at her a little surprised. "Really?"
"Yeah... You're right, I haven't really been in great shape lately and I do need some time off... I think I can handle being you for one day."
Gabrielle smiled. "All right then. Tomorrow I'll be the warrior and you'll be the bard." She extended her hand. "Deal?"
Xena smiled and shook it. "Deal."
The sun was still hiding beneath the horizon when Gabrielle felt a poke in her side. She muttered a little and wrapped the covers a bit closer. Another poke. Gabrielle sleepily blinked her eyes open to see Argo's form hanging over her. She pulled herself up straight and gazed at the horse. "She put you up to this, didn't she?" The mare neighed softly. She sighed and rubbed the sleep out of her eyes. "Oh well, a warrior's gotta do, what a warrior's gotta do, right Argo?" The horse snorted.
Gabrielle turned to look at Xena. Her friend was still deeply asleep, smiling as she hugged the covers closer. Gabrielle let a smile cross her face. That was what would make this waking up early stuff worth while. Xena could finally get some rest.
Gabrielle pushed herself up, grabbed her clothes and walked over to the lake they'd been camped near. "OK, now for the waking up part..." She pulled off her night shift, then took a look at the calm water in front of her. She carefully stretched out a toe, and immediately pulled it back as it touched the water. "That's cold!" She muttered in a hushed voice, then sighed. "Come on Gab, pull yourself together." She closed her eyes and then dived into the ice cold water. She started swimming around frantically, trying to warm up a little. "How in the name of Hades does she do that?" She mumbled, teeth chattering uncontrollably. She swam around a little longer, then pulled herself out of the water and onto the grass. Gabrielle dried herself off, then put on her clothes and walked back over to their camp.
Xena had woken up. The warrior stretched a little, causing some bones to pop back into place. Then she lifted her eyes to look at her friend. "Good morning." She greeted her cheerfully, then took on a pensive look. "Does this me being you thing mean I have to be grumpy in the morning too or can I leave that part out?" She was just able to duck under the wet towel aimed for her head.
Gabrielle narrowed her eyes at her friend. "Ha ha, very funny. Glad to see your amazing sense of humor has returned." she muttered.
Xena chuckled, then pulled herself up and walked over to their saddlebags. "Aren't you gonna wear the leathers by the way? If you wanna be me you might as well dress the part."
"No way I'm putting that on," Gabrielle said, pointing at the outfit in question. "Once was more than enough for me. I'm just gonna stick to the Amazon outfit if you don't mind."
Xena shrugged. "As long as people don't start thinking I'm one of those featherheads, it's fine by me."
"Hey!" Gabrielle took on an indignant look. "I'm one of those featherheads, remember?"
Xena grinned. "You're the exception to the rule." She slipped out of her nightshift and pulled on a clean one. Then she fished a belt out of the bag and fastened it around her waist. She ran a hand over the material, straightening it.
"No leather?" Gabrielle said.
"Nope, bards don't wear leather."
Gabrielle burst out laughing. "What?" Xena asked.
"A bard... you?" Gabrielle said, still chuckling. "I just can't picture you as a bard Xena."
"I can be a bard." Xena said stubbornly, crossing her arms in front of her chest.
Gabrielle raised an eyebrow at her. "Sure you can..." she said, trying to sound convincing. "But that's not the point, you know that don't you? You don't have to really be me, you just have to relax a little."
"Yeah, yeah..." Xena muttered. "So.. You want me to cook?"
"I want to make it through this day Xena, not be poisoned during breakfast. I'll do the cooking." She grabbed her pouch and started rummaging in it, digging out a loaf of bread and a large chunk of cheese. She roasted the piece of rabbit meat that had been left from the night before and started throwing some herbs on it. Xena sat down and leaned against a rock, seeing she had nothing to do, and waited for breakfast to be served.
Gabrielle resettled her grip on Argo's reigns again. Xena had childishly refused to hold the horse. The woman was really enjoying this, Gabrielle realized. She had sat by contentedly the whole morning, letting her do the packing and saddling of Argo and had even suggested she should ride the mare. Gabrielle of course had stubbornly refused, so now they were both pacing beside the horse.
"You know." Xena started. "I think in theory pigs could fly."
Gabrielle gazed at her friend. "What do you think you're doing?"
Xena looked up. "I'm philosophizing." She said, looking innocently at her friend.
Gabrielle rolled her eyes. " No you're not. But I'll play along. Why can pigs fly?"
"Well, in theory, if they would spin that little tail of them around really fast it would be able to just lift them off the ground."
"Aw, come on Xena, that tail is way too short. And they can't fly without wings."
"Having wings doesn't necessarily mean that the animal can fly. I mean, penguins have wings, and they can't fly."
Gabrielle raised an eyebrow. "Penguins?"
"Yeah, you know they're these little birdlike animals. All black, with a white belly. An they waggle, like this." Xena said, imitating the bird.
Gabrielle gazed at her friend with wide eyes, then lifted a hand and felt the warriors forehead. "Hmm, you don't have a fever... You haven't eaten any strange smelling nut bread, have you Xena?"
Xena brushed the hand away. "It's not my fault you don't know you're flora and fauna." She muttered indignantly.
"You just.." Gabrielle was going to answer, but then a large group of leather clad, bad-smelling men jumped in their path. Xena reached for her sword in reflex. "No no no." Gabrielle said, shacking a finger at her. "No fighting for you. I can handle this." She stepped between Argo and Xena and the group of men. "OK, let's get this over with."
The raiders gazed at her with a confused expression. A large bearded men stepped forward. "You're gonna fight us?"
"No, I'm standing here with a staff because I enjoy it, OK?"
The raiders exchanged some looks. "But we thought... Xena was..."
Gabrielle rolled her eyes in frustration. "The warrior princess is off the clock boys, you'll have to do with me. Now, do you still want to fight or what?"
Xena saw the warriors shrug and charge at her friend. She walked over to a large rock at the side of the road and sat down watching the spectacle. Gabrielle used a sweep move to take the legs out of a raider, making him stumble against another one. She placed her staff on the ground and jumped, kicking another in the stomach, letting out a battle cry. "Not bad." Xena muttered, leaning back against the rock, placing her hands behind her head. She watched one of the raiders trying to hit the bard from the back. As he passed behind Argo, Xena let out a low whistle. The horse reared and sent the man flying. With a hard thud he landed in the sand. He scrambled to his feet again and ran away from the fight, without even looking back. The rest of the men soon followed. Gabrielle gazed after them, leaning on her staff catching her breath. Xena sauntered over, and stood beside her. "What took you so long?" Gabrielle eyes narrowed dangerously. Xena laughed softly. "Just kidding."
"You'd better be." Gabrielle muttered, then grabbed Argo's reigns again as the horse came walking over. "OK, let's go."
After another group of raiders, an earthquake and a Cyclops they stopped for lunch. Gabrielle let herself fall on the grass in exhaustion. Xena cheerfully whistled a tune as she found a fallen tree to lean against. "Well, this was a nice and easy morning, now wasn't it?"
Gabrielle lifted her head to gave her friend a foul look, the dropped it back on the ground. "You could have at least helped out with the Cyclops."
"Hey," Xena said, sitting up a little straighter. "I handed you the rope."
Gabrielle narrowed her eyes dangerously.
"You wanted me to relax and now I'm relaxing and you start complaining. Make up your mind."
Gabrielle sighed deeply. "OK, OK, you're right." With obvious effort she pulled herself off the ground. "I'll go catch lunch." She said, before stalking off into the forest.
"Salmon with a slice of lemon for me." Xena called after her. A low growl sounded from the forest. Xena chuckled softly, then walked over to their saddlebags. She took out a quill and an empty roll of parchment. Then she sat back down, leaning back against the tree trunk in pensive silence. She gazed at the empty paper, then dipped her quill in the ink and started scribbling.
There once was a pretty, young bard
Who thought trading places with a warrior was smart
After a Cyclops or two
she realized it was true
She had no talent for the warrior art
Contentedly she reread her entry. "What can I say, I'm a natural." She said cheerfully, then rolled the scroll back up.
Gabrielle came stumbling back into camp. Her hands were filled with berries. "I tried to catch a rabbit, but it ran away." She mumbled.
"I wonder why..." Xena muttered softly to herself.
"No tacky remarks from you warrior princess." Gabrielle snapped back, pointing a purple finger at her. "Just shut up and eat." Xena chuckled softly, but took the berries without further comment. "I don't know how you can stand being you." Gabrielle muttered.
"Gee thanks." Xena replied between berries. "But normally I do have a little more help."
"Thank you for at least admitting that."
"Uhuh." Xena said, swallowing another piece of fruit. "Argo is always a big help." Gabrielle gave her a foul look. The warrior chuckled. "Just kidding. OK, let's cut a deal. The next village is bound to have some damage from that earthquake. We'll stay there and I'll be nice and help repair stuff, OK?"
Gabrielle sighed. "OK, but don't over do it, or this whole morning will have been pointless."
"Don't worry, I'll be good."
They walked further and soon reached a small village. Some of the houses had collapsed and the well was filled with debris, but luckily no one had really gotten hurt. They decided to split up. Gabrielle went to take care of some cuts and bruises and Xena would help with some rebuilding. After a candle mark or so Gabrielle had finished bandaging up the villagers and went outside to check on her friend. She was just in time to watch Xena pick up a gigantic boulder and lift it above her head. "Xena! What did I say about not overdoing it?? Gimme that.." She realized only what she said after the huge piece of rock came flying in her direction. "Oh Tartars." She tried to jump out of the way to keep the stone from falling on her toes, but failed miserably. "Gods be damned piece of..." She cursed, falling on the ground and rubbing her now swollen feet.
Xena wrapped the last piece of bandage around Gabrielle's toes. "I really, really am sorry Gabrielle."
"Yeah yeah..." Gabrielle muttered.
"Can I make it up to you by catching some dinner?"
"Well..." Gabrielle gazed at her from the corners of her eyes.
Xena smiled. "I'll go get some, you just stay there."
"Xena, I couldn't even move if I wanted to." She watched Xena walk over towards the small lake, then stretched out to reach for her scrolls. She unrolled the first one and gazed at it's context, staring at the very familiar handwriting.
The night settled over them shortly after. Xena had laid out their bedrolls and they were now lying on their backs, gazing at the stars above. "So, wanna be me for another day?"
"No way, being you sucks."
Xena chuckled. "Aw, you weren't that bad. I mean, you handled that Cyclops pretty nicely you know."
"Thanks." Gabrielle muttered "But I'd rather go back to being my bardic self before anyone starts thinking I wrote all those bad limericks."
"What lim..." Xena started, then turned her head to meet grinning green eyes. "Please tell me you didn't read those."
The bard grinned evilly.
"Oh boy." Xena muttered, letting her head fall back on her bed roll.
"Oh, don't worry Xena, I won't remind you of those..." Gabrielle smiled mischievously . "too often."