A Day Off

By Lariel


General Disclaimer: Xena, Gabrielle, Argo (and everyone else remotely connected to the show) are characters owned by MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement is intended, and no profit gained. Please don't sue. I already live in a hole in the road....

Violence: No - this is a day off for our dynamic duo, after all. Well, some little cute fish and a fluffy bunny do buy it....but it's for the greater good! Nothing gratuitous at all!

Love: What's the difference between subtext and innuendo? Don't ask me - I'm asking you! Either way, here be subtext so if you're underage, you can't legally read or just can't deal - please move on.

Feed The Bard: Is there anybody there? I don't bite (unless you want me too) and I might even write back ......


....and the bear reared, baring its fearsome fangs and waving its terrible claws, growling and slobbering as it lumbered ever closer until I could smell the rancid stench of its hot breath on my face. As it raised it's powerful paw, I squeezed my eyes tight shut and screamed and screamed but no sound came out......I felt it lick my nose, tickle it....tickly nose....tick...why is my nose tickling??

Still half asleep, the bard's button nose twitched and jumped as she dragged herself reluctantly from the welcoming clutches of sleep. She opened gummy eyes to be greeted by the mischievous face of the warrior princess beaming right on top of her, poetically backlit by twinkling starlight.

"Wakey, wakey Gabrielle!"

"Xena, what is it?" Mumbled the sleepy, grouchy bard, struggling to open both eyes at once. "Are we under attack?"


Dragging herself half out of her warm nest of blankets, Gabrielle squinted at Xena balefully. "Then why am I awake?" Spotting the long blade of grass lying between Xena's fingers, she raised one imperious eyebrow. Xena laughed.

"Argo's still favouring her left forelock a little, and I don't want to put any unnecessary strain on it." Gabrielle's remaining horizontal eyebrow joined its twin high up under her bangs. "So we have a day off! You can have a lie in!"

Gabrielle stared evenly at the beaming Xena, who was waggling her eyebrows and grinning like a mad woman. "You woke me up to tell me I could have a lie in?" Xena nodded and the little bard snapped, screaming and lunging for the warrior's handy nose. She seized it between iron fingers and squeezed hard, gibbering incoherently all the while....

"Mnnnghhh dddozzzze!!!" squealed Xena.


"Oh, Gabrielle!"

"Mmmmm, jusasec...." The bard mumbled sleepily until the tantalising scent of roasted rabbit made its way to her nose. Suddenly, wide open eyes were staring in amazement at the hugely swollen, bright red nose which bobbed around in front of her. "Ohmigods, Xena.....what happened?" Eyes which grew even wider as starlit memories crowded in.. "Oh no! Oh, I'm so sorry....well, it's your own fault for waking me up in the middle of the night! Oh now don't you make those puppy dog eyes at me...!" Two green eyes were now sent soaring towards the heavens.

The pouting princess with the glowing nose handed her bard a handful of succulent meat. "Gabrielle, there really was no need to get so...uhh...physical with me. Anyway, I said I was sorry."


"Eat your breakfast. And don't look at me like that!"

The breakfast was eaten, bones sucked and fire dampened. Argo's forelock was linimented and rubbed, and camp was tidied. "Okay Xena. What's the plan for today? It's been so long since we took a day off, I can't remember what we do!"

"Can't you Gabrielle?" Xena's eyebrows wiggled. "I could remind you!" She winked and grinned saucily.

"Maybe later, Xena. When your nose has died down." The bard dead-panned, grinning as she tweaked the smarting nose.

"Ouch! Gabrielle - the things you can do with your fingers!"

"You wish. So, the plan for today?"


"Aha!" A beaming warrior slid the struggling bard off her shoulder and dumped her by the lake. "Since it's a special occasion, I thought we'd do something special. It's not every day we take a day off!"

"Yeeeesss" the little blond drawled suspiciously, eyeing the two sturdy poles which were stuck firmly in the grass at the water's edge.

"Nothing like getting in a little fishing to liven up the day!"

"Fishing? Fishing? What is it with you and fishing??" Little blonde thunderclouds gathered over the young bard's head and she glared at the oblivious warrior who was stringing the two fishing sticks, whistling some odd tune she'd picked up on their travels. "I am not spending my day off sitting around here for hours watching you wrestle with some slimy, smelly scaly things!"

"Gabrielle? I thought you liked fishing?" Xena looked hurt, and her nose turned even redder.

"Xena, this is our day off! Can't we do something we've never done before?"

Xena thought for a moment, then smiled wickedly. "Well, since you're up for it, there's always that Centurion-Gladiator game Joxer taught us....and I have chocolate sauce!"

"No wa....you do? Where?" Gabrielle's eyes lit up and Xena grinned - only ever one way to get to her bard's heart... well okay, maybe two.

"Later, Gabrielle. Let me get in the mood first...." The teasing warrior fingered the twine of her fishing pole lazily and smirked at the panting bard.

"What can I do to help, Xena?" Gabrielle fell right for it.

"You could come here, Gabrielle. No, closer...yeah, that's it..." She breathed as Gabrielle ended up in her arms and an evil smirk grew on her face.....


"I don't believe I fell for that again! Well, I hope you're happy, warrior witch. You are not getting any tonight!" Gabrielle gesticulated wildly.

"Gabrielle!" Xena turned her best pout up to the furious bard as she tied the thick strands of golden hair around the nail and fixed it to the twine threaded through her pole.

"At this rate, I'll have no hair left! I'm getting it cut....."

"Ahh, don't - I love your hair long. Comes in so handy when I need to pin you to the bedroll."

"Yeah, don't I know it. My head still hurts from three days ago." She ruefully rubbed the offending body part. "And that aint all...."

"You said you wanted me to get in the mood! You know how I am after I've been fishing..."

"Yeah, it's not how you are Xena, it's how you smell."

"I'll take a bath. After I've caught a few more of these beauties..." She whipped her pole and flung a tiny sprat onto the bank. Gabrielle raised one smirky eyebrow.

"That's it? I sacrificed my hair for an embryo?" She picked up the tiny, flapping thing and stuck it under Xena's nose.

Xena looked nonchalant. "They'll get bigger. I'm just warming up."

Gabrielle threw the thrashing little thing back and ignored Xena's furious glare.

"Yeah, well you just better get warmed up Xena. I want a nice juicy trout for my dinner. And speaking of warming up, it's freezing here! I'm going to find my cloak - want yours?"

"No, I'm good." The warrior princess was gone - Gabrielle recognised the single minded focus of her gaze as she stared at the little twig she'd tied onto the nail with the bard's hair, waiting for it to duck and bob. She loved the challenge, the waiting, the thrill.

"Hmm. You know, Xena, sometimes I wonder if your love of fishing is a cover for something more sinister."


"Well, look at it this way. The chase, the stealth, the tactics. The struggle. The power, the passion.....yeah. Definitely."

"You think my love of fishing is a cover for my dark side?" The warrior was truly worried now. Gabrielle could see uncertainty flickering in those beautiful baby blues.

"Wow! You think?" The little blonde vixen batted innocent green eyes up at the frowning warrior.

"It couldn't be! I mean - it's only fishing......fish aren't people....it's not like planning a battle or anything. Yeah, so I was up at dawn preparing my equipment but......." She was off again, mumbling away to herself as the little twig floated gracefully on the uncorrupted surface of the pond. Gabrielle smiled evilly, and wandered off to get her oversized cloak.


Gabrielle sat huddled in a heap and swathed in her big woolly cloak, watching Xena getting steadily more frustrated. Finally, the warrior fisher blew.

"Hera's tits! Why in Tartarus aren't these gods-blasted fish biting today? Gabrielle, have you done something with your hair?"

"Oh, don't blame me, Xena! Try using different bait."

"Like what??" Xena was incredulous. "This is an old family way, handed down from generations, from father to son. And daughter.. It's never been known to fail!"

"Yeah, well there's a bit of a fish famine here, wouldn't you say? Besides, didn't know Ares fished."

A cold, fishy stare was aimed at her. "Ares is not my father."

"Try worm."

"Well, yeah, he is a worm but...."

"No, Xena! Try worm as bait!"

"As if that'd work, Gabrielle! Since when are fish daft enough to fall for a dumb trick like that?"

"Since dumb warriors are daft enough to think that sticking my hair on a bent nail will catch them?" muttered Gabrielle under her breath.

"What did you say??"

"I'm off to look for worms. Try to stay out of trouble Xena." The bard picked herself up, moved around a lot under her voluminous wrappings and headed off into the thick bushes.


The bard stumbled out of the bushes, giggling furiously as she tottered over to Xena and grabbed her forearm to steady herself. "Gabrielle, where've you been?"


"You've been gone ages." Groused the grumpy, fishless woman. "What's that trickling down your chin? Gabrielle, you haven't been putting crushed bugs on your lips again, have you?"

"Bugs? Where??"

The bard's eyes lit up as she clamped down excitedly onto the warrior's arm, and Xena was drawn to them- what was it? Something wrong with Gabrielle's eyes. Gods, she has no eyes! Well, no black pupils, anyway. "Gabrielle, what have you been eating?" She took a quick look around with a sinking heart. "Oh no, Gabrielle - tell me you didn't! Tell me you didn't eat those berries?"

"I ate the berries, Xena!!" The bard twirled away, pirouhetted across the shore and tumbled face first into the water. Xena grabbed her ankles and hauled her out roughly. The smaller woman lay face down, giggling madly and trying to bury her face in the soft wet sand. She squealed in delight, and came up for air for a moment. "Xena! Worms!" then ducked her head into the sand again, emerging several moments later with a long, wriggling sandworm poking out of her sand painted mouth.

"Ewww! Gabrielle!"

"Veena, vrmms frr fshgg..."

"Oh, for crying out loud, Gabrielle - spit it out!" The bard just collapsed on her back in the sand, the worm doing a frantic jig on her chin. Xena couldn't stand to see her beautiful bard with a wriggling long thing hanging out of her and gingerly pulled out the offending creature.

"Worm, Xena!" Gabrielle pointed at the now limply hanging tube - Xena had stunned it with the pinch and was now holding it at arm's length, well away from the wandering fingers of the dazed bard. "Stick it on yer pole! That'll bring them slimy li'l critters up to ya!"


Xena flicked yet another shimmering silver fish onto the shore to add to the growing pile already stacked there. "'Nother one, Gabrielle!"

"Oooh!" The bard plucked another worm out of the little pile wriggling around her bare toes (she'd stripped her boots off some time ago and filled them with water, Gods alone knew why) and tossed it to Xena who deftly baited her hook and cast off again before sighing deeply in perfect contentment. She spared a thoughtful glance at Gabrielle - she was shrieking and giggling as the slimy creatures squirmed in between her toes.

"Gabrielle, don't eat the sand, there's a love." Her golden haired bard had a speckled brown chin where she'd been stuffing fistfuls of clumpy sand into her mouth. What to do about the bard? "Gabrielle, how many of those berries did you eat?"

"I ate the berries, Xena!" She burbled around a mouthful of wormy sand.

"Yeah, Gabrielle. I can see that. How many?"

"Oh, one, two - I dunno. Lots." Was the reply, Gabrielle holding all ten fingers up to illustrate.

Xena sighed again - knowing her bard's appetite, Xena reckoned she'd polished off more than a good few handfuls, and if those berries were what she thought they were - well, Gabrielle could add those to her growing list of experimentative food-drugs. Great, she thought sourly. One day off a gods-blasted year, and Gabrielle has to go and get high. Oh well, it could be worse I suppose. And at least there was plenty of fish for lunch - enough to smoke and save for trail food.

"Gabrielle, c'mere." She crooked her finger as the bard erupted onto her feet and skittered away towards the berry bushes. "Hey, don't you even think about.....Gab....don't you..."

Moments later, the writhing Gabrielle was clamped firmly under a strong arm and dragged towards the water's edge, plopped down unceremoniously onto her knees and was given a thorough face scrub. "Spit, Gabrielle." The bard just screwed her mouth tightly shut. "Spit the sand out, Gabrielle. C'mon, eating sand isn't good for you." Tighter screwing. "By all the gods on Olympus, Gabrielle - don't make me come in there!"

"Why Xena?" mumbled the giggling bard. "It wouldn't be the first time!"

"Gabrielle!" The normally unshockable warrior stared aghast at the leer on her usually shyly reserved bard's innocent face.

"Xena!" Gabrielle's face suddenly wore a hugely creased frown, and her lip quivered in it's build up to its pout of mighty proportions. Xena felt her insides go all wobbly. "I doan wanna fish no more!"

"Gab-ri-elle....." Xena's insides loosened up a lot.

"Xena! Fishing's stupid! I wanna do something else!"

Xena's insides started to turn liquid. "What do you wanna, uh want to do Gabrielle?"

A huge beaming smile creased the bard's face, and Xena felt all her insides run right out of her body at the sight of it. Oh Gods, that smile, those eyes....that face. How can I resist that?

"I wanna go shopping!"

"Oh Gods no.......no way, Gabrielle. I am not letting you be around other people in this state!"

"I wanna go shopping." The beam lost some of it's high watt intensity, and the adoring gaze became a bit more of a fixed stare.


"Shopping, Xena. This is my day off, after all." A surprisingly lucid statement from the high as flying parchment bard. "You just don't want to go because you think people'll stare at your great big red conk."

Moments later, Xena found herself being dragged along the road by an enthusiastic bard who was trying to stuff fish in both their mouths, whilst counting their dinars and lecturing about the merits of bargain hunting. By Aphrodite's underwear, I am soooo bard whipped, thought Xena glumly.


The frantically chattering bard weaved around in front of her as Xena desperately tried to keep an eye on her wandering companion whilst rehearsing various strategies she could use to stop Gabrielle from ever setting foot in the village that lay just a few miles down the road from where they'd set up camp. Deep in conversation with herself, she was pulled out of her musing by a high pitched squeal and the thudding of feet. Huh? She looked up to see that Gabrielle had vaulted over a fence, had high tailed it over a farmer's field and was headed towards a couple of goats that were idly munching on the lush grass and - Xena noted with alarm - eyeing her wobbling bard with interest. Uh-oh.

"Xena! Goats! Goats mean goat's milk! I love goat's milk!"

Xena was up and off faster than a bow from an assassin's arrow, yelling like a banshee all the while. "Gabrielle! You hate goat's milk! It brings you out in a rash! Don't go near those goats!"

The bard and warrior skidded to a stop. "Xena - look at the goats. Aren't they cute? Can we have one?"

"No, we can't have a goat, Gabrielle. C'mon, let's go.."

"But Xena - look! Goats! Baaaa!"

"Gabrielle, that's a sheep noise, c'mon, I thought you wanted to go shopping."

"Can you do a goat's noise, Xena?"

"No, Gabrielle."

"G'wan, do a goat's noise Xena!"

With two pleading round eyes turned in her direction, Xena couldn't help it. Common sense packed it's saddle bags and deserted like the fink she was, leaving only helpless bard-whipped woman behind. Xena made goat noises until Gabrielle stopped clapping and shrieking with delight. She turned to slink out of her personal field of Tartarus, only to have Gabrielle's hand stall her. With a shudder, she realised her torture wasn't over.

"Xena. Can you get me some milk, please? I'm thirsty."

"I'll get you some milk at the village, Gabrielle."

"Oh, but Xena - fresh goat's milk! It's better for you when it's fresh!" Again, the surprisingly lucid statements, in conjunction with the little blonde's flushed face and dancing, pinpricked eyes was her undoing. Still, she couldn't give in without a fight. Of some kind.

"Gabrielle, goat's milk brings you out in a nasty rash."

"Nah, this is fresh milk from cute goats. It woan do nothin'" Opening her mouth to further argue her case, Xena stuttered to a halt when she saw Gabrielle's eyes grow huge in her face. She pointed with a wobbly finger. "Cows! Xena, cows! Cow's milk doan bring me out in a rash!"

Yep - someone up there is really having a good day with me today. Aren't you? Gods blasted Gods!

So, that's how the warrior princess, famed and feared Destroyer of Nations, ended up flat on her back on top of a steaming pile of cowshit, with a muck and sand covered bard on top of her eagerly sucking milk into her mouth from a swinging udder above her face. Nice, mused Xena as she listened to the guttural suckling and slurping sounds of Gabrielle. The cow reacted in it's genetic, age old fashion to the stimulus it was receiving, and dropped another pile onto the shuddering warrior's face. Nice.


The village was busy, packed with people from outlying regions as they came to trade goods at the market. Wise, world-weary people who had come from some of the big towns, and wanted to get back to the rural peace and the uncomplicated life of the countryside. People who had been there, done that and seen much - but who had never seen anything like the two filthy and unkempt women - one of whom had her hand firmly clamped around her smaller companion's arm - as they strode into town, squelching and stinking their way across the little town square. Fruit sellers frantically tried to cover their wares. Relieved sighs went around all of the farmer's stalls as the two women - the smaller of which was frantically trying to squirm away and was cooing to the chickens - headed towards the nearest tavern

Malvinius, the tavern keeper, was having a good day. Market day always meant good trade, and his "special home brew" (ahem) was selling like hot cakes. He was polishing his tankards when he heard a slight, polite cough. He looked up, down, then his head shot up again and his face turned into a mask of horror.

"Port. Strong. Bath." The filth encrusted - what, woman? Man? - propped against the bar spat out. "Now."His mouth hung open, and too late he noticed her smaller friend reach over and pop a mucky finger into it. "Gab-ri-elle....." The weary warrior woman? Man? Rubbed a hand over her eyes (smearing the goo around even more - she looked like she was wearing amazon war paint) and admonished her slight, giggling friend. "That's not nice."

"Ah.... that's okay,.....uh, ma'am?" His eyes were drawn irresistably to her big red nose, which stuck out in her brown smeared face like a torch stands out in the night.

"Ya got that right."

She grasped the tankard of port like a drowning woman seizing a branch and downed the lot in one, not even gasping as the fiery liquid blazed its way down her tubes. "Ah. Needed that. You have no idea. More."

"And for your friend?" Who was crawling under and over the table tops and scaring the customers with her frenetic chattering.

"No, no. No, she's already had something to drink. She's fine. Drugged out of her brain, but not covered in cowshit. No. Not having to drag around a twenty year old bard who's acting like a six year old. No, she's fine. No. Nothing for her. No." She waggled the empty tanker around in a desperate way. He took pity on her.

"You look like you could use something....ahh, stronger?"

She looked at him like he was Zeus himself. "Stronger?" She almost gasped in relief. "Stronger??" She was almost crying now. "Gimme!" Two tankards of his "special home brew" (don't tell the village elders) and she relaxed visibly. Two more, and she smiled. Another two, and she collapsed onto the table top next to her snoring friend.

Great, he thought to himself. I've got two cowshit covered, out of their heads women asleep on my table - and they've scared away all my customers. He rolled up his sleeves, called to his eldest son and prepared to carry them upstairs.


Xena's eyes hurt. Her head hurt. Gods, her nose really hurt. Her stomach - well, Gods above, was there one single part of her body that didn't scream it's agony at being torn from it's blissful oblivion? Carefully, unwillingly, she peeled open an eyelid.

Gabrielle was crashed out next to her, still snoring loudly with her mouth wide open. The bard wore such an expression of inner calm and peace, and her cheeks were flushed so rosy, healthily red, that Xena just wanted to smack her about a bit for a while. Fight your dark side, Xena - get her later. Paybacks are better when they've matured. I'll get you, my pretty!

Gratefully, she collapsed back on the bed and sunk into her tortured, nightmarish dreams which for some reason today seemed to feature cows and bards somewhat more so than usual.

Several hours later, she again peeled back her eyelids and this time gathered up all her legendary self control to keep them open. Her headache waged war for a moment, then , defeated through sheer willpower and force of personality, withdrew into a quiet corner of her mind, whimpering slightly. Common sense moved back in again, grizzling and saying "I told you so" lots.

Gabrielle was still lying next to her, but wide wake this time. Relieved, Xena noted that she seemed to have all of her eyes back. The bard gave a blissful smile, and stroked her warrior's cheek gently. "Hi. How are you feeling?"

"Like my head has been kicked by an entire army of centaurs with extra thick hooves."

"Mmm. The innkeeper makes his own brew out of fermented potatoes. It's pretty lethal stuff."

"You mean I feel like this because I drank potato juice??"

"Yeah. Thanks for looking after me, by the way.."

Xena in return stroked her bard's cheek lovingly. "You're welcome. How are you feeling, anyway?"

"Pretty good. Really good, actually."

"Good. Don't ever do that again."

"Deal. Go back to sleep - the innkeeper's given us this room for free, and I've talked him into throwing in a bath later too."

"Mmmmm. Gabrielle, what would I do without you?"

Just as she was drifting off again, Xena thought she heard Gabrielle whisper. "You are so bard whipped, Xena!" She cracked open one muddy eye.


"Oh! Nothing!" Gabrielle smiled brightly, and stroked Xena's cheek soothingly. Ice blue eyes narrowed suspiciously.

"Gabrielle, just how many of those berries did you eat?"

"Enough, Xena. Just enough."

Pinned to the bed by the force of the warrior's glare, Gabrielle's nervous smile grew broader. "Xena, you wanna arm wrestle?"

"No, Gabrielle."


"No, Gabrielle."


"No, Gabrielle."

"Aw, c'mon Xena. You can be the warlord this time?"


"Xena, how 'bout that chocolate sauce?"


"Look, I tell you what - I'll let you spread it on me this time? Huh? Xena? Xena?"


Ahhh - yet another ending to a perfect day for our warrior and bard. How's your day been?

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