Do they… er, you know…?
Disclaimer: The copyright to Xena and Gabrielle belongs to MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. This means I'm not allowed to get money out of this one, so please don't send me any.
Subtext: Well… let's put it this way. Little boys are almost as dirty-minded as their older kinsmen are. There is nothing very shocking to be found though. (Even if a nine-year-old might find it so.)
Size: About 9 pages.
Summary: A bunch of kids have a little chit-chat about the famous warrior princess and her sidekick. The discussion is soon drifting away from heroics towards something more… personal.
Enjoy your reading.
"Don't go to far now, Deneus."
"No mother, I promise."
"And don't forget to..."
Whatever it was Deneus shouldn't forget, he never heard. He had already bolted away like shot from a catapult. His mother looked after him and just shook her head. She smiled though. She knew how much he had been looking forward for the marketday.
The boy whistled for himself. He was happy. The sun was shining, the market was filled with exiting things and people and he was to see his friends from the neighbour villages. It really was the perfect day. The street was crowded with people. Many of them had come from far away to visit the market, sell some stuff and buy small pieces of luxury for themselves and their families. And of course to meet friends, visit one of the many taverns and enjoy themselves for a night. It wasn't just Deneus who had been looking forward to this day.
A sudden burst of laughter caught his attention and he curiously peeked around the corner of a chariot to see what was going on. Two laughing patrons were furiously hugging each other in the middle of the small, dirty path, much to the annoyance for the people who wanted to pass. Those friendly reunions wasn't a rare sight at the market, and Deneus lost his interest for it almost the same moment he caught sight of them. He was just about to continue his strolling around when he felt a knock on his shoulder. He turned around and opened his mouth to ask what was going on - only to get it stuffed with something soft and sweet. Surprised he looked into the smiling face of a lad of his own age - maybe nine or ten years old - with sand coloured hair and two friendly brown eyes. Deneus tried to speak, to smile, to swallow to hug the lad - all in the same instance. In the end, he just stood, rather sheepishly smiling, and tried to chew the stuff in his mouth as quick as possible. It tasted good. The other boy held up a loaf of bread in front of him.
"Honeybread. Best candy in town. You can thank me later."
Deneus managed to swallow the last of the honeybread and clasped the boy's hand.
"Cenetri, old chum. It's good to see you again."
"And good to see you. It was too long ago."
"Have you seen any of the others?"
"Nope. I hoped you had."
"I just arrived. Let's go find them."
Eagerly chatting about this and that and what had happened since the last time they met the boys walked away. The walk was soon transformed into a - for whiteness - totally unorganised running competition around and around the market. For the boys themselves it wasn't anything unorganised about the running, and they were certainly not just fooling around. They were looking for the rest of their little gang. The market day wasn't going to last forever, and soon enough one or another concerning parent would start to look for them. They had just a limited time together and they were determined to use it as good as possible.
"Now, is everybody here?" Sendros asked a little while later. He was the oldest of the boys, and therefor their unchallenged leader. They all sat in a chariot filled with hay for the critters, near enough the market street to see what interesting things might be going on, but enough far away to be hidden from searching eyes, at least for a while.
"Sure we are" Cenetri answered. "You, me, the Farnie farm cousins, Otebes and Deneus. We are all set."
"And me!" A little voice peeped. "Don't forget about me."
Everybody's attention was drawn to a little kid sitting in Otebes' lap. He smiled at them with a big grin that relieved that he had lost some teeth. Otebes embarrassed looked at Sendros.
"This is Lendo, my baby brother... I thought it wouldn't do any harm to bring him. Is it OK?" Sendros gave the smiling kid a thoughtful look.
"Well... We don't use to have infants at our meetings you now..."
"Oh, come on. He won't do any harm, will you Lendo?"
"I won't ruin nothing, I promithe!" the lad self-conscious said, only a little disturbed by the difficulties the gaps in his teeth gave him when he tried to speak. Sendros rolled his eyes.
"OK Otebes. But you respond for his actions as if they were your own." He tried to say it in that gloomy and fearful voice the bards used sometimes to give his words an edge. After all - this was a serious meeting.
This settled the meeting was on. They all knew each other since a couple of years - except for Lendo that is - from other market days and family visits and so on. Their "meetings" as they called it really wasn't anything other than the usual friends get together, but they called it meetings to make it a bit more exciting - and to irritate the friends and relatives that weren't invited. They had all brought something to eat. Honeybread, fruitcake, apples, berry juice, so naturally the meeting started with a picnic.
"You can't guess who's coming this way" Tileson from Farnie farm opened. He waited for the other's attention before he continued. "Xena the Warrior Princess. She will be passing by the market." Satisfied he saw their jaws drop.
"No way!" Cenetri protested. "She is a hero, a real hero. What would she be doing here?"
"Are to!" Anisoles, Tileson's cousin, said. "I heard it too. It was my mother who heard it back in our village. She will be here." They looked at the cousins with various grades of disbelief and excitement.
"Sure she has been in these parts before" Deneus said, trying not to sound too proud about it. "I have seen her, you know. Back there in Hope's temple when..."
"Yes we know." Otebes interrupted. "When you and that Joxer chap you always talk about saved the world and jadajadajada. We are sick to death to hear about it. Talk about something else for a change."
Deneus blushed, admitting for himself that he maybe HAD been pushing his part in the drama around the defeat of the evil goddess Hope and her father a bit too far. When it comes to bravado, one always has to know when to stop.
"You are not the only one who has seen the warrior princess, if that's what you think. She once was in my village, and she was not only stopping by..."
"What? You have never told us about that? Tell us!" The other boys excitedly leaned forward to hear Otebes' story. Even Deneus decided not to hold a grudge. He would probably get his chances to tell them about his adventures with Joxer again before the day was over. Otebes - enjoying the attention - took a bite of the apple before he began with his story.
"Well... let me se where to start. It was two winters ago. Our father was ready harvesting the crops, and we were all preparing for winter. I and Lendo was at the square at the time so we know..."
"It wath then the horthmen came, right?" Lendo said, looking up at his older brother.
"Yeah, right. I'm coming to that part. Anyway, as we stood there, we felt the ground shake and the village tremble under the thunder of hooves and there they were. Riding right into the town square. There were at least fifty of them. They had big swords and scares all over their faces. And the biggest and meanest of them all he said -" Otebes made his best to sound dangerous. "- I am Scelron the warlord - he said - And I am here to collect tax from you, you little piteous peasants. If you won't give me what I want then I will DESTROY the entire village." He took a small pause to see if he had their attention. He had.
"Now, we stood like frozen. The men on the horses grinned and laughed and played with their swords. Our town elder went forward to speak with Scelron. He tried to plead to his heart on told him that we wouldn't survive the winter if they took the food we had collected, but you should know that Scelron he has no hart. Ares took it from him and put a knife in its place... He just laughed at the town elder and rose his sword, he was to slain the poor man as true as I stand here. The entire village was watching in fear. Lendo cried..."
"... I didn't." the lad indignant said.
"Yes you did."
"NO! And if I did, tho did you!"
"Anyway" Otebes continued a bit embarrassed. "Just the moment he was about to slash him with a sword, we heard a CRACK and a whip flung around his arm and dragged him from the horse. And then, before we knew it, we heard this yell and she was flowing through the air, kicking the villains to the ground. It was Xena the Warrior Princess. She kicked and punched and jumped around as... well as a hero. They tried to fight back of course, but they didn't hit her with a single blow, so the next thing we knew all the villains were running away, those who weren't unconscious of course, and Xena was helping the town elder to his feet."
"Yes it's true" Lendo said. "It is true precithely as Otebeth told it. She beat all of them and they didn't have a chance."
"Wow..." the boys nodded appreciating, giving Otebes credit for good telling. They had all heard various stories like this before, by travailing bards and others. But hearing a real eyewitness tell it was something else. Lendo picked up a straw of hay and started to beat around him in the air, pretending to be a hero with a mighty sword himself. The other boys watched him for a while until they grow tired of it.
"She was in my village too you know..." It was Sendros that started to speak. "It was a long time ago, I wasn't older than Lendo, but I still remember it quit clearly."
"Well then, tell us!"
"It started almost like your story, Otebes. Me and my family was sitting in our house, eating, when we heard the beat of hooves. We ran out to see what was going on, and saw the men coming. Much like you described them. Big weapons and torches in their hands. The wanted us to give them food and other things as well, but my father refused. He said he wouldn't let the things he had been working hard to get come into the hands of scum like them. They just laughed and kicked him so he fell to the ground, and then..."
"Oh, I know! Anisoles said. "Then Xena came, killing the men and saving the village. Right?"
"Not at all" Senderos said darkly. "She was there all the time. She was the leader of the men. They wanted to kill my father, but she said no. Instead she said - Burn the house. Burn the entire village. That will teach them to oppose the Destroyer of Nations. - And they did. I can remember how we stood and watched our village burn and the villains walked around to see if they could find anything they wanted, like if they owned the place. She was standing not far away, watching. I was sure she would kill us all, but she didn't."
"Oh... but your village isn't burned. Is it?"
"We rebuilt it after that, of course." Senedors said with a irritated look on Anisoles who had questioned him. Tileson shook his head.
"I don't get it. Xena is a hero, isn't she? Why would she do something like that?"
"Haven't you heard?" Cenetri asked. "She hasn't always been good. Once upon a time she was the worst of all villains in the world. She had the command of the greatest army in Greece and was plotting to destroy Athens with it. It was just because of Hercules she turned good and started to help people instead."
"Oh, I have heard it was because of that other girl who hangs around with her she became good" Tileson said. "That... what's her name..."
"Gabrielle" Deneus said, remembering some of the things Joxer had told him about her. "Yes they say she talked Xena into being a hero. She is her sidekick, you know. That means she helps her in her adventures with sneaking and plotting and fighting and so on."
"But Gabrielle can't fight" Anisoles objected. "She's a girl."
"And what did you think Xena is?" Deneus said, slapping his head. "Girls can fight as good as boys. Almost, anyway. Go ask my sister if you don't believe me."
They silenced for a moment while Anisoles pondered over this new and somehow scary thought until Cenetri brook the silence.
"Sure Xena is a girl... you want to hear about when she was in MY village?"
They all wanted to.
"This was last year. I was sleeping when people running by outside the house suddenly awakened me. I ran out, and almost the entire village was there. I didn't know what was going on, but then I saw Xena. She held a torch in her hands and said she was going to kill us and crucify us and all that sort's of things. She was totally nut, seeing things that wasn't there and talking to people we couldn't see... It was really scary. She sure looked like she was going to kill us. If the other girl... Gabrielle was it? If she hadn't got there and talked Xena into leave us alone, I wouldn't be standing here."
"Sitting" Sendros interrupted.
"Whatever. But do you know what?"
"No, tell us" they anxiously begged.
"She was totally nude. She didn't wear a single piece of clothing."
"I swear. Totally nude."
The boys went dead silence, except for Lendo who had started to giggle uncontrollable. When Deneus talked again he did it slowly, quit uncertain about how to express himself.
"Did she look... admirable, you know, did she have..."
"Oh yes, she had. They were awesome. And her..."
They all blushed quite badly when Cenetri described certain parts of Xena's anatomy - parts normally hidden (at least partly) by her leathers. But no one had the slightest thought of interrupting.
"...and they looked just like that Aphrodite statue back in the temple" Cenetri finished his tale. "Yup, that's what she looked like. And I have seen it with my own eyes."
"Oh, life is soooo not fair" Sendros complained, tossing his head backwards in the hay.
While the meeting was proceeding, the marketday was going on. Grownups were strolling around, taking care of business and talking about weather and crops and this or that town elder or king and other unimportant grown-up-stuff. The kids remained in their chariot, curiously peeking at the people passing by. The sun was high on the sky, making the day awfully hot. They passed around a bottle of berry juice and finished what was left of the food. It was Anisoles who spook next.
"You know what I have heard? I have heard that Xena and Gabrielle… that they are not just friends. You now what I mean…"
"Eh… No?" Otebes confessed.
"That they are a couple, sort of. You know, in love."
"That's what some people say."
"But they are both girls. Two girls cannot be in love in each other." Otebes looked like a living question mark. Anisoles did his best to explain.
"Well, sure they can't marry or anything like that, but they still can be in love. Why do you otherwise think they travel so much together?"
"I dunno, just imagined they liked each others company… and that they are helping each other in the hero business like Deneus said."
"You know, I have heard it to. That they are in love, I mean" Sendros said. "A traveller I spook to once had seen them in a tavern. They sat holding hands all time during dinner, and after that they went to their room. They only ordered one room. With one bed."
"Ooooooh" Tileson said, and then added. "Wait a minute. I share one room with Anisoles and our brothers Pesondelus and Alitones, and we just have two beds. That doesn't mean I'm in love with them."
"I think you are!" Deneus mockingly said, earning a handful of hay inside his shirt.
"Yeah, that figures" Otebes said when the fight had ceased. "I didn't tell you what happened after they saved our village, but you should hear this. You see, they said they were hot and dusty after the fight, and that they could use a bath, so that ol' widow Tisinna offered them a bathtub and helped them with hot water."
"So… well, I sort of peeked at them when they bathed, and they bathed together, see? They scrubbed each other's backs and washed each other's hair and that kind of things and that's not all." He took a deep breath, feeling how hot his face had got. "Sitting there in the hot tub they kissed each other. Many times."
"That's so gross!" Tileson stated. The others agreed frowning.
"If they really are in love and kissing and so on…" Deneus cleared his throat before he managed to continue. "Do they… er, you now…?"
"They weren't far from it when I saw them" Otebes quietly said. They all blushed heavily by now. Anisoles however still had air for the next question."
"But how do they do that. They can't, um… do like boys and girls normally do, right? So how…"
"I think they can use… er… use their tongues and fingers and…"
"What do they use their tongueth for?" Lendo demanded to know. He had a nagging feeling the conversation was being held above his head, and he didn't want to miss anything.
"You are to little for that, Otebes stated. You will understand when you grow up."
"That'th not fair. I'm to little for everything."
"You promised not to fuss…"
"If you don't tell me what they do with their tongueth, I will tell mother you peeked at Xena when she bathed!" Lendo smiled triumphantly at his big brother, knowing he had the trump at hand.
"I will too."
"Lendo…" Otebes tried to think out something that would make his brother forget the discussion. He was in luck. Right then the objects for the discussion showed up on the road. Tileson, who happened to look that way, suddenly cried out.
"Look, there they are. It's Xena, and Gabrielle. Look."
They all ran to the side of the chariot closest to the road, peeking so much that their eyes threatened to pop out from their heads.
It was marketday in the little village they were passing. Xena was leading Argo along the little dirty road. Gabrielle walked by her side as usual, curiously looking at the people they met. They were arguing about where to sleep for the night, and so they had been for the last hour.
"Xena, we're not in a hurry, and I just don't feel like sleeping on the ground one more night. Tonight we have the chance of sleeping in a real bed. Why not take it."
"The taverns here will be crowded. It's marketday."
"Yes, it is marketday. So what? The people here will sleep in their chariots or tents. It's just travellers like you and me who sleep at the taverns. I promise you, we can find a room if we just try. And we could really use the comfort. It has been a hard week. This village looks really nice, and it would be fun go for some shopping at the market. Please?"
Xena smiled at her babbling sidekick. She actually liked these little discussions with Gabrielle, and that was the main reason why they had been arguing about it for so long. She really thought it was a good idea to spend the night at the tavern, but she didn't want to spoil the fun by letting her know it at once. But now - she decided - it was time to end the discussion.
"…and I know that you like it better in the wilds but I…"
Gabrielle totally forgot what she was about to say. "…but I… I… What did you say?"
"Ok." Xena repeated. "Let's settle for a taverns. I think we will find a good one at the square."
Gabrielle halted, looking doubtingly at her follower. "You really mean it, don't you?"
Xena couldn't help laughing." Yes, yes, yes I am Gabrielle. I think someone is a little slow today."
Her surprised look was turned into a knowingly smile when Gabrielle started to understand Xena's little game. "Thanks" she said, pressing a warm kiss on the warrior's cheek. In response, Xena gave Gabrielle a one-arm hug and tenderly kissed her on the head. It really was a fine moment.
They were both startled by the yells and giggles from a nearby chariot. They let each other go and looked that way. Xena breathed out and shrugged.
"Kids. Who can tell what moves in their heads? Come on, let's go to that tavern."
Gabrielle kept looking at the blushing, laughing boys a moment longer, but then she shrugged too and forgot about them. She took some long strides to catch up with Xena who already started to walk.
"You know, maybe they have a hot tub in the tavern..."
"Yes" Xena said, holding a perfectly straight face. "That should do us both good after a dusty travel, don't you think."
The two women were gone and the boys dared to breathe again, even if it took them some while to get control over their blood flow. It was Anisoles who first recovered his ability to speak.
"See, I told you so. They are definitely in love."
No one disagreed with him.