It was a beautiful day in Ancient Greece as Ares walked along with a puzzled look on his face, ticking off things on his fingers. "Let's see, started a war, flirted with Xena... now what am I forgetting?"
"I can't believe he has the... things... to flirt with you, after all the crap he's put you through," Gabrielle said disdainfully from where they were tracking Ares, only thirty paces away. They hadn't seen him yet due to the thick foliage of the forest.
"Well, that's Ares for you, still the most arrogant god on Olympus," Xena replied.
Ares looked up at the voices with a smirk. "Well, well, well... if it isn't the most luscious warrior princess. Have you come to become the warrior goddess?"
"And give up my humanity to be as soulless as you? I'll pass," Xena responded with a disdainful glare and a snarl to her upper lip.
"Oooo, temper, temper, I remember your sweet and gentle side Xena..."
"Sweet and gentle? When have WE ever been sweet and gentle with each other, Ares? That side of my nature is thanks only to Gabrielle," Xena growled hotly at the amused God of War.
Ares smirked at Xena's blonde companion for a moment before returning his attention to Xena with a lecherous grin to his face. "Ahh, yes, I remember the two of you sharing some rather... tender moments, Xena... they were very entertaining."
"Pervert," Gabrielle sneered.
"You may call me such, but I think we both know that the perverse one is bearing a staff right now."
"You know where you can bear this," Gabrielle said. Xena had to laugh at that mental image.
Ares' eyes narrowed as he formed a ball of glowing energy in his right hand and started stalking closer to Gabrielle. "I see Xena's temper is rubbing off on you, as well as other things," Ares replied with a smirk before turning around and catching in his left hand the blade of Joxer, who had been near the base of Olympus praying for Aphrodite to make him into a romantic warrior again. "You, you are just an annoyance that's always around aren't you?" Ares sneered.
Joxer gulped. "You're gonna hurt me now, aren't you?" he said, eyes bulging.
A mischievous voice filled the air:
"My cousin from the fair lands of Greece
Plans to use your skin as fleece.
But now the players are all here
Only the future do you fear."
"Loki. Don't you have some dribble grails to attend to?" Ares growled while hurling Joxer into the bushes and turning towards the voice.
Loki sat on a branch smirking at the group of four before him.
"A game to play have I.
The four of you shall join me under a new sky."
With that he tossed his hand out and a bright light blinded everyone for a moment before darkness overcame them.
As her sight returned to her, Xena realized she was not in Greece anymore. Upon further inspection, she was certain that she had been sent to another era.
"Gabrielle!" She shouted out into the pink room surrounding her.
Suddenly the door opened and in walked a short brunette squinting to try and see. "Xena, is that you?"
"Yes, it's me, inside at least," Xena said from Quinn's body. She looked at herself disapprovingly in Quinn's three-way mirror.
"I can't see anything besides blurs, Xena..." Gabrielle said nervously as she tried to look around. "I woke up in a strange grey room with soft walls down the hall. I just opened the door when I heard you call."
"Loki! Ares! Show yourselves!" Xena/Quinn shouted.
There was a rapping on the door before it opened slightly and a female with short red hair and a red business suit entered. "Daria, Quinn, quit making all that racket! Daria, go get your glasses, you know you can't see anything without them. Now, I have to hurry to a meeting, your father's with some clients, and there's pizza money on the table by the front door. And don't forget you have homework to do." And with that, the whirlwind that was Helen Morgendorffer left the room.
"You're Daria, I assume," Xena/Quinn said after taking a moment to sort things out. "Show me the room you came from, maybe we can figure out what she meant by your glasses."
Guiding Xena back to Daria's room Gabrielle paused just inside the door while Xena whistled, impressed.
"Cozy room... must have been for sparring before she moved in," she guessed while pointing out the padding. "You want to wrestle?" Xena added with a smirk.
"Xena, this is no time for bad jokes," Gabrielle/Daria said, annoyed.
"Gabrielle, this whole thing is a joke, one for which, I swear, I will make Loki pay."
"Let's just find those glasses, I'm guessing they'd be near the bed... but I can't smell any straw... do you see a bed?" Gabrielle asked while looking around blindly. "They should probably go over the eyes... or maybe it's a potion..."
"I don't think they use straw for bedding here," Xena said, feeling Daria's bed. She looked on the side table and picked up Daria's glasses, turning them over a few times before placing them on Gabrielle's face. "Can you see me now?"
Gabrielle blinked a few times before a snicker started forming in her throat, fighting it down she nodded. Her smirk only lasted a moment before she broke out in side splitting laughter while pointing at Xena. "You're face is covered in green mud!"
Xena sighed and reached up to her face to feel the dried on mud. "I noticed... but we had other matters to attend to..."
As Gabrielle settled down she studied the mask with a wrinkled nose at the smell. "It smells like that gunk from that bath house we visited..."
"Those attendants said it was a beauty treatment, maybe that's what this is supposed to be," Xena said with some doubt.
"What ever it is, it stinks... we should go wash it off..." Gabrielle stated flatly while backing away from the mask.
"Right, then we'll look for Loki and Ares, as soon as we can find a wash basin."
"I think I found that before finding your room Quinn..." Gabrielle said before leading the way to the bathroom, where she pointed to the toilet. "I think that's the wash basin... I don't know what these other devices are for..."
Xena squatted before the toilet and sniffed.
"Um, I don't think this is a wash basin," she said. She went to the sink and turned on one of the faucets. "This is the wash basin, and I think that's for waste," she said, pointing to the toilet.
"That's better, because I was curious about how low that was to the ground. Umm... this..." Gabrielle stated as she continued looking over the shower curiously. "I think this is a large wash basin... big enough for both of us in here..."
"Not now, Gabrielle, we got more important matters to take care of. And besides, I think we're sisters, and that would just be... no, plenty of time for that in our own world."
"I meant we could get cleaned faster in here, sisters bathe together all the time, it's how my sisters and I got clean every month back home. I think just turning this here will start it..." Gabrielle stated as she reached in before jerking back as streams of water hit her from above. "Ok, that was unexpected..."
As the two of them continued to explore the bathroom fixtures, on the other side of town, Joxer was coming to terms with his current reality.
"Well, at least I'm more muscular," he said, staring in the mirror at the reflection of Kevin Thompson. "Don't look too intelligent though."
Looking over at what he assumed was his bed he smirked at the rather ample figure laying there still asleep. "I think I might be a god... and the one with Aphrodite as a girlfriend..."
Tip toeing lightly over to the bed, he gently touched Brittany on her exposed shoulder causing the blonde to stir. "Oh, Vision of Aphrodite, arise and tell me your name."
Brittany opened her eyes and casually brushed Joxer's hand away before standing up and holding him off the floor by the neck.
"My name... is Ares," he squeaked. He dropped Joxer upon hearing a voice that no god of war should ever have. He went to the mirror and grimaced.
"Loki, you will pay for this," he growled.
"Umm... it's a good look for you... I suppose..." Joxer stated from his spot on the floor. "Apparently I'm some type of warrior..."
"And apparently, still an idiot," Ares said, trying hard not to squeak. He turned away from the mirror and stared at Joxer/Kevin, realizing what the two of them may have done just a short time ago.
"I should do horrible things to you, but I have better things to do," Ares said, snapping his fingers. A disappointed look crossed his face when nothing happened.
"This is not good..." Joxer mumbled as Ares continued to snap his fingers with the same result each time. "Maybe we should just get dressed..."
"Maybe you should just be quiet," Ares grumbled. "Get dressed. I'm going to try and find something... less revealing."
With a shrug Joxer grabbed the light armor and started to put it on with its strangely bright cloth covering it as he had seen in the small paintings spread around the room. Pausing after a minute he looked back in the mirror with a smile. "Not bad at all..."
As he turned from the mirror, Ares came back in the room wearing pink slacks and a fuzzy pink sweater.
"Not... one... word," he snarled.
Joxer simply nodded while mustering all his self-preservation not to laugh at the God of War dressed in a pink outfit with a VERY feminine form to match.
As Xena and Gabrielle dried each other off, a strange ringing sound was heard.
"What's that?" Gabrielle said, putting Daria's glasses back on.
As both of them looked for the ringing sound they found one source of it in the room that Gabrielle had woken in. Accidentally knocking a pencil into it, they heard a voice speaking over it. "Hey... Hello? Anyone there? Amiga... stop fooling around."
Xena picked up the phone and spoke into it with Quinn's voice.
"Hey Quinn, it's Jane. Is Daria there?" the voice asked with a slight annoyance to it.
"It's for you," Xena said as she handed the phone over to Gabrielle.
"Hello? Who is this?" Gabrielle said with a slight uncertainty to her voice.
"Daria, it's Jane."
"Yeah, you know your best friend?"
"Oh, yeah, right."
"Anyhow, I was just calling to remind you I got in the top ten sickest, saddest episodes of Sick, Sad World," Jane said with a slightly more cheerful tone to her voice.
"Oh, that's terrible!" Gabrielle cried, certain that one of the lesser gods had put a spell on the unfortunate girl on the other end of the line.
"What, you don't like Sick, Sad World all of a sudden? You alright, Amiga? You've been wanting to watch these with me since we ordered them over a month ago," Jane asked with a bit of annoyance in her voice.
"Err... Yeah, I'm alright, I'm... just not myself today," Gabrielle said, glaring at Xena's smirk a moment later.
"Alright, we still hanging out later? Grabbing some pizza, and then heading to the mall, right?" Jane asked dryly while looking over the casing for her new videos.
"Pizza? Mall?" Gabrielle asked cautiously before looking to Xena who shrugged helplessly.
"You want to go somewhere to be attacked by animals?" Xena asked quietly.
"Are you sure you're alright Daria?" Jane inquired as she noticed her friend had been acting oddly.
"I'm not sure, maybe. I'm just feeling really strange right now." Gabrielle said after a moment. "I hope you'll forgive me, I have just had one of the weirdest mornings."
"Up before noon on a weekend? Alright, who are you, and what have you done with Daria?" Jane asked with her eyebrow arched.
"She's on to us," Gabrielle whispered to Xena, before Jane spoke again.
"Just kidding. But seriously, if you're feeling better around noonish, meet me at Pizza King, okay?"
"Umm... Yeah, sure, I'll be there. Quinn and I'll see you around noon then, bye." With that she pressed the button next to the glowing dot before lowering the weird device down carefully. "Looks like we have to find this Pizza King, maybe he can help us out."
"I do not think that is wise Gabrielle, I mean, what do we know about this Jane, or this Pizza King? I don't think we want to be in the place they put the insane, do we?" Xena mused while looking over to the doorway.
"Wait, didn't the mother say the money by the door was for this 'pizza'? Maybe Pizza King is to here what Falafel Fool is to our time. So we should probably try to find it to see what that is." Gabrielle said plainly while she started pulling on Daria's outfit.
"You may be right, but how to find this Pizza King... We should have asked for directions while talking on that magical device..." Xena mused with a look to the phone sitting on the bed.
"More importantly, how do we know what to act like around this Jane girl. Maybe we should see if she can help us?" Gabby/Daria offered hopefully as she pulled on Daria's coat and looked at the zipper curiously.
"For her to help us, we'd have to explain what happened," Xena said, walking back to Quinn's room with Gabrielle. "I'm not looking forward to the reaction that would get." Looking in Quinn's closet, she frowned at the absence of anything not pink.
Looking around Xena's shoulder she grimaced at the blindingly pink display found within. "Well, you know Xena, Jane did sound like someone that knew the cruelties of the gods... maybe she'll understand our situation... What is with this girl and pink?"
"Reminds me of Aphrodite...Gabrielle, I just had a thought. If we're in the bodies of two teenagers, do you suppose that they're inhabiting our bodies right now?"
"Could be Xena," Gabby said as she pulled out a brown leather outfit that looked like it hadn't been worn in a couple years. "Look Xena. Leather."
"Still rather girly, but I guess that's as good as we're going to find here," Xena said.
Meanwhile, back in ancient Greece...
"Brittany, I think you should remain calm..." Daria stated as she stared at what was once a tree, but now was a crater.
"Stay calm? Daria, we are in other people's bodies, I'm a man, and I just blew up a tree... DON'T TELL ME TO STAY CALM!"
"Um... Babe? I think that's why she's saying be calm. So you don't blow us up." Kevin/Joxer stated from his hiding spot behind a rock.
Quinn looked over her body with a deep frown. "Ewww, I have calluses and I'm wearing leather! EWWWWW!"
"But the beautiful wild pony seems to like you," Daria/Gabrielle said.
Tom sighed. "Okay, let's try to examine the situation calmly and rationally... Has anyone eaten out of Jane's fridge recently? I'm going with mass hallucination here.
Daria sighed and started drawing in the dirt with the staff she found herself carrying. "Tom, I'm guessing by the designs on our stuff that we're in ancient Greece, but you look to be from more Nordic lands... besides it is more probable that Mr. O'Neill would spontaneously compose the next great work of literature using alphabet blocks than for all of us to have the same hallucination. I'm going to say this is real, but I'm still hoping that Quinn has always been a figment of my imagination."
"So, this is really happening to us," Quinn said, trying very hard not to freak out. Daria started to answer, but her attention was averted by a puff of pink smoke and a woman in a sheer pink gown appearing from the midst of said smoke.
"Yes, this is really happening," Aphrodite said.
Daria blinked before she smirked and turned to Quinn. "Hey sis, it's your fashion consultant."
"Ha ha. Can you tell us what's going on? By the way, who are you?" Quinn asked.
"I am Aphrodite, Goddess of Beauty and Love, and you were all transported back in time by Loki, the Norse Trickster God."
Daria pointed a thumb at Tom. "That's Loki, I take it? Or his body at least?"
"Yes, he's Loki in this time. You are Gabrielle, traveling companion and lover of Xena, Warrior Princess." Aphrodite said with a wave to indicate Quinn.
"We're WHAT!" Quinn/Xena shouted, backing into the horse, Argo.
"Lovers. Romantic interests. Bed buddies. Ares here..." Aphrodite pointed to the body of her brother who was pouting. "Used to spend hours watching and watching the two of you together."
"Eww. That is just so wrong! I mean, we're SISTERS! EEWWW!"
"Calm down, Quinn, no one's saying we have to be lovers now. However... you don't suppose... nah, they'd be too busy trying to figure out a way to get back here to worry about that. By the way, how do we get back to our own time and place? Does either Loki or Ares, in their present states, have the ability to reverse the situation?"
"Loki does, that's why Tom here does not. And don't worry about your maidenhood back in your time, Xena and Gabrielle aren't doing anything that would threaten them. Now, how about we go and hang out with Bacchus for a while? I think you all could probably use a drink right about now."
"Wait, I don't understand something. If Brittany, in Ares' body, has his abilities, why can't I, being in Loki's body, reverse the situation?" Tom asked.
"Simple, Loki took his powers with him, but made sure that Ares didn't... I don't think he likes being blown apart by an angry god of war..." Aphrodite said with a smirk.
"So, we're stuck here until Loki gets his jollies?" Brittany/Ares said, pointing at a tree and blowing it up. She looked at Kevin/Joxer, drool coming out of his mouth, staring at Aphrodite. "Kevin, if you ever want to do the mattress mambo with me again, stop staring at her RIGHT NOW!"
Glancing at the remains of the tree, Kevin took a deep gulp and found something interesting in the exact opposite direction of Aphrodite to stare at. "Sorry Babe, but she is like the goddess of beauty and stuff..."
"Oooh!" Another tree bit the dust.
Aphrodite smirked and shook her head. "Definitely going to have to talk to my son in the future... anyhow, shall we go? Or would you rather be here when the centaur army arrives?"
"Hmm, army, or a stiff drink... lead the way, o goddess of love," Daria/Gabrielle said flatly. Waving her arms with a flourish, Aphrodite transported the group to a clearing in the woods in the shadow of Olympus. Bacchus, a rotund and jolly looking god, was lying on the grass, passing around a bladder of wine. As the others rushed off to join in the party, Daria hung back with Aphrodite with a curious look on her face. "Umm... Aphrodite... I was just wondering..."
"The thing with Trent, no. The thing with Jane, it'd be fun, but no. Think blonde and outcast, Daria." Aphrodite answered quietly.
"Thanks..." Daria murmured before taking the bladder of wine and sipping a little from it. "I wonder if Jane can tell that it's not me in my body?"
"Yo, Amiga!" Jane shouted at Gabrielle/Daria as she walked down the street with Xena/Quinn. Gabrielle and Xena kept walking. "Daria!" Gabrielle turned around.
"Oh, sorry... Jane... wasn't paying attention. I told you I wasn't myself today."
"You mentioned that... And I believe it... the two of you walking together... When are the four horsemen showing up? There are some things I want to do if the apocalypse is upon us. Oh, by the way, like the new look, Quinn, nice change of pace from all that pink."
"Um, thanks, it's good to change things once in a while. So, shall we go to, um, Pizza King now?"
Jane smirked as she pointed to the building next to her. "Yes, let's go to Pizza King. My what a short trip."
As Jane walked through the door, Gabrielle whispered to Xena, "I don't think we'll be able to fool her much longer."
"I don't think we'll have to," Xena replied. "Just long enough to get some information."
"What information are we looking for?"
"I don't know. I'm the brawn, you're the brain. If you can think of any questions to ask that may be helpful, ask them."
"Oh, right, something like... 'Have you happened to see a God of War, a Trickster God, and a klutzy sidekick walking about as some of the people you might've known all your life? I think they have special places for people like that."
"Have you heard of a thing called subtlety?" Xena said with some annoyance. "We'll just ask her if anyone else she know has been acting unusually."
From inside Jane's voice sounded, "Hey, you two coming?"
"We'll be right there," Gabrielle said, adjusting Daria's glasses. "Damn, these things are annoying. When we get back to Greece, remind me to ask Hercules to do some face work on Loki."
"I'm sure that he'd be happy to, right after thanking Loki for messing with Ares." Xena said as she led the way into Pizza King. Walking over to the booth Jane sat in she slid in with Gabrielle taking the spot next to her, accidentally sitting very close together.
"So, you two seem to be getting along well," Jane said. "A little too well. What's up? You," she said, pointing to Quinn, "won't even acknowledge Daria as your sister. And you're sitting just a little too close together. So, what's up?"
"Um... we are turning over a new leaf, giving each other another try... We're sisters, we should get along." Gabrielle responded weakly.
Jane looked at the two across the table, knowing that something was wrong, but not quite sure what it was. Jane took a sip of Ultra-Cola the server dropped off with a large pizza and regarded Xena and Gabrielle with a suspicious smile. "So Amiga, heard you got the highest grade Ms. Bennett ever handed out in her economics class. Must be proud of yourself, no?"
Gabrielle shifted uncomfortably on the bench. Grade? Ms. Bennett? Economics? None of these words made sense to her. Then she thought of Jane's question: Must be proud of yourself, no? Whatever these things referred to, she had distinguished herself. It may not have been as a famous scribe, but it was something. "Yes, I am. Quite proud, of course."
Jane nodded and took another slice of the flat bread covered with melted cheese, meat, and a red sauce Xena couldn't identify. "Sure. Who wouldn't be proud of getting a G? Have you seen Daria's 'G', Quinn?" Jane questioned turning to look squarely at the uncomfortable red-head.
"Yes, of course I have, it's in a special place of honor, as it should be," Xena replied.
Jane smirked and looked over at Daria. "So, Daria, have you given anymore consideration to your life as a fashion model?"
"Umm, yeah, it does sound like fun after all," Gabrielle said with a happy smile to her face.
"Damn, when you said you weren't yourself, you weren't kidding. Now who are you?"
Pausing a moment to look at Xena nervously, she sighed and faced Jane before saying stone seriously, "I'm Gabrielle, and this is Xena. We're from Greece."
"Mmm hmm, and how is it you look exactly like Daria and Quinn?"
"Well, Xena and I were fighting with Ares, the God of War about him flirting with Xena here, and then Joxer tried to hit Ares with his sword. That didn't work, but before Ares could hurt Joxer, or either of us to do anything, Loki decided to swap us with this Daria and Quinn that you know, as far as we can figure, Daria, Quinn and two or three others are back in Greece in our bodies..." Gabrielle explained flatly before looking at Jane's face for her reaction.
"You know what? I believe you. So you say you've changed bodies with my best friend and her sister across the centuries. That's no stranger than the whole town singing for no good reason while there's a hurricane about to hit. Or holidays escaping to Lawndale to form a punk-electronica-hip-hop band." She paused and took another sip of her soda. "Come to think of it, scratch what I said about the holidays. Being banished to Lawndale makes more sense than freely deciding to come here."
"Xena... I think the gods are messed up even worse now then back in our time..."
"Aside from telling me where to get a sword, have you seen anyone acting oddly lately? Aside from us."
"Aside from you? Just the whole town, but they always act oddly. I think the best course of action for now is to get some pizza and see if anyone acts out of character. Then after that, if we don't observe anything odd, we can take a walk and see what we can see."
As if on cue Kevin and Brittany's bodies entered Pizza King, Kevin actually was flying in while Brittany stormed in. "I TOLD YOU MORON, DO NOT SAY A THING ABOUT THE PINK!"
"Bingo!" Jane shouted before walking over to 'Kevin' and 'Brittany', Xena and Gabrielle close behind.
Ares turned to regard the trio approaching him/her with a level glare. "Who the Hades are you, and what do you want?"
"Ares, I presume?" Xena said coolly, then, looking over to 'Kevin', "And Joxer. I must say, you make a darling couple."
"Xena? Is that you? I must say this new look is good on you." Ares replied with a leer.
Xena considered kneeing him in the groin, but in his current state, decided against it. "So, Pinky, how do we get back to where we once belonged?"
"We find Loki, get him to change us back, and then beat him into a pulpy bloody mess." Ares replied with a slight growl to his/her squeaks.
"But how to find Loki," Jane said. "Wait, if you're a god, couldn't you just..."
"No can do, toots." Ares/Brittany snapped his fingers. "No power."
Joxer/Kevin finally pulled himself from the wall with a groan. "Still has his super strength though..."
"And don't you forget it... DAMN this squeak."
"So, that brings us back to finding Loki," Jane said.
"I had a thought on that," Ares said. "Knowing Loki, if he's here, he'd most likely choose to inhabit the body of someone smugly obnoxious, somewhat arrogant, too self confident..."
"Dammit, even the God of War is picking on my boyfriend now..."
"Huh?" Ares said with a confused squeak.
"Nothing, I just think Loki is probably living in my boyfriend's body." Jane said with a defeated sigh.
Ares took a few slow, menacing steps toward Jane. "And your boyfriend is...?" she growled.
"Right behind you..." Jane stated as the door behind the enraged God of War opened and in walked Tom Sloane. "I suggest you get him, instead of me."
Ares whipped his head around, Brittany's long blonde hair, not being in pigtails, got in his eyes and mouth. He rolled his eyes and brushed the hair out of his face.
"Loki?" he finally squeaked.
Tom's eyes widened as he realized just where he had ended up.
This will not end well I fear,
Away I must flee.
Before they place harm on me!"
With that Loki turned and started to run from Pizza King, only to be stopped by Quinn's body landing on him from above.
"Hello Loki, let me thank you for sending us here." Xena growled in Loki's ear.
"Oh, no need to thank me,
really, you see,
but I think that I'm... um, running out of rhyme."
Gabrielle kneeled next to Loki's head and spoke quietly into his ear.
"I have a rhyme for you,
soon you'll be black and blue.
Now, let's get out of here,
before Xena and Ares do as you fear."
"Oh, I just have to scoff,
Your meter was off.
If you're going to rhyme,
Then do it right next time."
Loki said, Xena still on top of him.
"Xena... I believe he's ready for his beating. You first, or the goddess over there first?"
"Oh, fools you be! Hilarity!
You think I'm caught this easily?
A beating you say I deserve,
Yet it's you that I shall serve.
A trick to you pallet have I,
As I leave in a blink of an eye."
With that Loki disappeared from under Xena, leaving the four Grecians cursing through the entire pantheon of gods while Jane sat back with a surprised look on her face. "That... was interesting..."
As Xena and the others walked out the door, Jane called after them, "Hey, wait for me!"
"Huh?" Xena said. "Jane, don't get involved with this. You don't know what you're getting into."
"It's too late for that chicka, once my Amiga got involved, I got involved," Jane growled out as she followed the storming four Grecians. "Now, where are you planning to go?"
"Look for any anomalies, go there," Gabrielle stated.
"Such as those carriages moving without horses, or the glowing lights directing them? Maybe that roaring bird high up in the sky that's passing through the clouds?" Joxer said.
"No... those are cars, stop lights, and planes, respectively," Jane stated with an annoyed tone to her voice.
"So, those are not anomalies?" Xena said.
Jane shook her head. "Welcome to the twentieth century. You'll find a lot of strange things here."
"Alright, so we're going to need you're help, are you happy now?" Xena growled as she glared through red hair that had drifted down over her eyes when she had whipped around.
Gabrielle sighed and put a hand on Xena's shoulder. "That's enough Xena, Jane, could you please help us out? We don't know what we're doing here."
"Sure, if it'll get my Amiga back sooner," Jane said with a shrug and a smirk.
"Great. Now I suggest we go... this way," Ares said, pointing down the street to the east. Since no one had a better idea, they followed the pink clad squeaky voiced god of war.
"Ares, watch out for that manhole..." Jane warned from the back of the group.
"I don't fear any manhole; I am the god of..." Ares started only to be cut off as she gave a startled shriek, and fell into the open manhole.
"Tried to warn him..." Jane said with a heavy sigh as she shook her head.
"Is this smell what I think it is?" Ares squeaked.
"Yes, it is," Jane replied. "Look to your left, Ares. There's a ladder, you can climb out."
As a brown stained Brittany emerged from the open manhole she turned and growled at the others, "Not one word, not one snicker or I'll rip each of your heads off." Turning to face Jane fully she stabbed a finger forward, causing a bit of fecal matter to drop off it. "You! Guide me to the dwelling place of this... being, so that I can bathe and change!"
"With pleasure," Jane said, holding her nose.
Xena, Gabrielle, and Joxer waited until after the other two had turned the corner before laughing at the god of war's stinky predicament. After a minute they started to follow the other two, only to find a fuming, sewage covered cheerleader waiting for them. "I heard you."
"She started it," Joxer said, pointing to Xena.
"I'll remember this when we get back," she replied.
"Hey, stinky and the three stooges, are we going? Or would you all rather stop and smell the sewage?" Jane called from nearly a block away.
"Three stooges?" Xena said as they started to move. Gabrielle just shrugged.
After a few minutes, they arrived at Brittany's house. Jane turned knob with her left hand, still holding her nose with her right. The door was locked. "Hey Brittany... Ares... whoever you are... got a key?"
Ares glared at the human for a moment before reaching out and digging his fingers into the door's frame, preparing to rip it out of the wall it resides in. Jane's fingers pinching the nerve cluster at the base of the neck, sending pain shooting throughout his new body. As Ares pulled away Jane sighed, reached under the doormat and pulled out a spare key kept there. "Easy there... I would recommend not doing things like that here."
"You dare do that to the God of War?" Ares squeaked more than growled.
"Correction, in ancient Greece, you're the God of War. Here and now, you're just a stinky head cheerleader, badly in need of a bath," Jane said as she opened the door.
Entering the home the group led the irate-disposed god to the bathroom where Jane showed him how to use the shower, which was the soap, the shampoo and the conditioner. After that she helped strip the body of its pink and brown clothing, which was buried into the nearest laundry hamper, for the maid to curse about the next day. Jane left the bathroom as Ares entered the steaming shower to find the other three sitting on the floor at the base of the stairs laughing too hard to even breathe.
"Yeah, that's funny, isn't it? By the way, thanks for all your freakin' help," Jane said in a tone that cut the laughter short. "Now, I suggest we go to the kitchen and try to come up with some kind of workable strategy."
As the trio entered the kitchen they found Jane sitting at the breakfast nook drawing on some paper from the recycle bin. "Ok, if we do this, no... Loki'd just pop out on us... and he's bound to know what we're up to..."
"So we're trapped here until Loki's had enough, and who knows how long that will be?" Xena said angrily.
"Not necessarily," Jane said. "I think I can get in contact with a god, or at least the son of a goddess. Everyone like Chinese food?"
"What food?" The others echoed looking confused between each other, and then at the malevolently smiling Jane.
"Man, is Ares gonna be pissed, getting all cleaned up, just to get dirty again. I've met Cupid before, he's the son of..."
"The son of Venus, the Roman version of Aphrodite," Gabrielle finished for Jane.
"Yes, but to get to him, we have to crawl through a dimensional wormhole behind the Good Times Chinese restaurant. Unless one of you has a simpler way of summoning a god or goddess."
Xena and Gabrielle both turned towards Joxer who's confused look told them that help from there wouldn't be coming.
With a sigh they shook their heads slowly. "No, sorry. We tend to fight against the gods... but Ares might know... after all he's been summoned a few times."
"More than a few," Ares said as he entered the kitchen, his still wet hair dripping a small river behind him.
"Um, Ares, you do know how to use a towel, right?" Jane said, trying to keep the smirk from her face.
"What's a towel?" Ares asked plainly, "And what is with this fur? The inside is covered in some cold, white covering... and it was just laying by the bath..."
"Um, yeah, actually, that's the bath mat, it's a small rug... you know what a rug is?"
"Yes, I know what a rug is," Ares said with growing annoyance.
"Good, I suppose that's something. Now wait here, I'll get you a bath towel and some clothes to wear. Um, you might want to go to Brittany's room to change," Jane said with a glare to Joxer.
"I think I should go help him, we've seen his clothing sense..." Gabrielle said while standing up.
"Hey, I'm the God of War, the leather goes with the job description," Ares protested as he was led away by Gabrielle and Jane.
Xena rapped Joxer on the skull after the others had left before saying, "You know if you do anything with these bodies I will hurt you when we get back, and if it's with Ares, he'll use you for a new toy."
"Now look," Joxer said indignantly, sticking a finger in Xena's face, "I may not be much where we came from, but here, I'm a warrior, and as such, I demand dignity, and respect and... OW! STOP PULLING MY EAR!"
"Come on, warrior," Xena said as she dragged Joxer to the living room.
The others came down a few moments later, Ares dressed in blue slacks and a baggy blue sweater to de-emphasize Brittany's assets, not that it did much good. Meanwhile Joxer rubbed his sore ear while trying to keep a good distance from Xena, who was glaring at him, Ares, who had threatened to kill him painfully, and Jane, who was growling with annoyance at the group.
"Alright," she said with growing disgust, "Now that we've got the God of War presentable and deodorized, does anyone here have a decent plan? Or do we go with my plan and search out Cupid on Holiday Island?"
"Why don't we just go to the local shrines of the gods and ask for help there?" Joxer asked with a stupid grin on his face.
"Yeah, good idea, if we were back in ANCIENT GREECE, YOU IDIOT!" Jane exploded. "Look, your gods are just considered myths here, even you, Ares. We do have shrines here, but to a different pantheon of gods and deities, and I don't think any of them would be to keen to help us."
Xena shook her head and pointed towards Ares. "Mr. Sunshine here has never been one to play nice with other deities to begin with, let's go to this island and find Aphrodite's son already."
"Actually, that would be Venus' son," Jane said. "Or would that be the same person? The only thing I know about mythology is what I see in paintings."
"Well, Venus and Aphrodite are the same being, just got renamed in Roman mythology when they adopted the Grecian gods," Gabrielle said while reading a book she had found on the shelves.
"Okay, right then, let's go find the son of Aphrodite," Jane said as she headed out the door. She turned back a few seconds later. "You know, it might work better if you follow me."
With many grumbles the four displaced Grecians marched out of Brittany's house into the afternoon sun. Walking along the sidewalk Jane let out a heavy sigh and turned her gaze to the sky. 'Amiga, you have to get back soon. I'm going to go nuts with these loonies...'
Meanwhile, back in ancient Greece, Aphrodite was attempting to show Quinn how to use Xena's chakram, while Kevin and Brittany were having a surrealistic argument.
"But babe! They're nymphs! You're supposed to chase them," Kevin pleaded with his fuming counterpart.
"Ooh, go chase yourself!" Brittany said in Ares' masculine voice, "We're through, when we get back to Lawndale, you can chase all the nymphs you want, but you're not chasing me again, you... you... nymph chaser!"
"Come on babe! You know we're meant to be, head cheerleader and quarterback of the team. It's our destiny." Kevin added with passion in his voice, only to get a chakram upside the back of his head.
"Sorry!" Aphrodite called over innocently as she casually caught the chakram on its return.
"Okay, you're starting to get it, but you need to aim more carefully, and throw it with more power. Remember, this isn't just a toy, or some fancy discus, it's a weapon, as effective as an axe when used properly. That should have taken his head off."
"Not that anyone would notice the difference," Daria smirked from behind Quinn.
"I don't know Daria; I think Xena and Gabrielle might when they get back." Quinn said while she tried to quell the smirk of triumph on her face.
"I wonder if this Joxer is as stupid as Kev-" Daria was interrupted by an explosion. Aphrodite rolled her eyes.
"Alright, that's enough. Brittany, here, now," she shouted, pointing at the ground immediately in front of her. Brittany walked over slowly, pouting. "Look princess, you really have to get your anger under control. In your current incarnation, you could kill someone, and I don't have the power to bring them back to life."
"But it's that Kevin! He's such an idiot! I don't know why I started dating him in the first place!" Brittany shouted angrily while stomping hard enough to cause a minor tremor.
"Whoa, easy there. Quinn, we'll continue the chakram lesson later, I really need to have a talk with these two." She led Brittany over to Kevin, who was still hiding behind a large rock.
"You hit him on purpose, didn't you Quinn?" Daria asked once Aphrodite was out of hearing range.
"Daria, you know I've never been good at frisbee, and this chakram thingy is like a metal frisbee... but, yeah, I did it on purpose. I just got tired of his 'but babe' all the time. I don't know how Brittany can stand it."
"I think I do..." Daria said straightening out her long skirt and simple blouse. "I believe in the future, Aphrodite's son, Cupid messed up with his love taser and zapped the two of them."
"Cupid? You mean that fat Valentine's guy that hung out with that short Irish guy? The ones that tried to break up Trent's electronica band?"
"Yeah... but how did you know about them? I thought you believed me when I said they were my imaginary friends." Daria countered with a raised eyebrow.
"You never went in for imaginary friends, even as a kid. I figured something was up, so I followed you for a while, until mom and dad started acting all weird, then I had to watch that they didn't try to bring a new baby into the mix. Gah, we're already dysfunctional as it is, why subject an innocent baby to that... or us to the baby?"
"That... is rather well thought out Quinn, good job." Daria looked up into the sky quietly for a moment before letting out a heavy sigh. "You know Quinn... we might be here for a while, and I just want you to know... I'll watch out for you."
"Thanks, and if I ever learn to use this thing," Quinn said, holding up the chakram, "I'll watch out for you too."
"You should probably work on learning that sword as well; I'm going to have to learn about staff fighting. I wonder if Athena would know how to work them," Daria mused for a moment before looking over at Aphrodite scolding the other two transposed beings. "We might have it easy..."
"Easier than Tom," Quinn said, looking over to where he was sitting on a rock, moping.
"Well, I'm still mad at him for stealing Jane from me." Daria said while hefting her staff, before bringing it down solidly on a melon, splitting it in half. "If he wants to talk, he can crawl over here to do it."
"Wait... he stole Jane from you? Are you a... is Jane... were you two... what the hell?"
"In order, yes, none of your business, no, and that'd be horse manure you just stepped in." Daria responded while picking up half the melon and offering it to Quinn, "Might as well get used to it, we're stuck here for a while."
Quinn glared at Argo as she wiped off her boot on a nearby stone. "Hey Daria, horse meat is very low in fat isn't it?"
Setting the melon half in Quinn's hand Daria sighed and started eating the other half of the melon. "Yes it is Quinn, but it is also most likely full of bugs and bacteria not meant for human consumption. Now if you want to run the risk of facing the runs..." Daria paused as Argo lifted her head and gave a snickering whiney before going back to eating. "Um... I may be goofy, or it may be the melon... but I think she understood that."
"Yeah, I think you're right... you ARE goofy," Quinn smirked. "And I think that horse knows more than Kevin and Brittany."
With that, Argo smacked Quinn upside the back of her head with her tail before turning around and munching on the melon happily.
"Argo! You do that one more time, and I swear..." Quinn stopped mid-sentence when Argo started nuzzling her. "Eew! Quit it! I don't even let guys do that! Cut it out!"
"Quinn, she's trying to show you she cares, calm down," Daria said as she started petting the horse's head and nuzzled it gently. "She's not a dumb animal like Kevin over there. She does things for a purpose."
"And what was the purpose of eating my melon? Just to tick me off?"
"From what Aphrodite told me, Xena would often feed Argo by hand, maybe she thought the melon was for her," Daria said. "The tail thing, I'm not sure about."
Argo glared at Quinn from where she was being cradled by Gabrielle's arms. "But I suspect it's about you calling me names, and insulting her intelligence." Rocking with Argo's nod, Daria smirked over at Quinn.
"Fine. How about I call HER names and insult YOUR intelligence then?" Argo responded to that with what sounded like a snicker.
"You can Quinn, but remember what happened the last time you tried to take me in a battle of wits. I wonder if you ever got over that little tale I told you about the Donner party..." Daria said while stroking Argo's head lightly.
"Eew! You are so gross!" Quinn said as she walked away.
"Sometimes it's just too easy," Daria smirked.
Argo pulled back with a snort and glared at Daria for a moment before flicking her head in the direction Quinn had walked away towards.
"What, you think I should go after her? Look, Argo, we're sisters, sibling rivalry is part of the deal... I'm trying to reason with a horse."
Argo glared at Daria for a moment longer before walking away with a definite scowl to its features.
"You know, I just had a thought," Tom said, walking up behind Daria. "Maybe it wasn't just the five of us being temporally displaced."
Daria turned to face him, a puzzled look on her face. "What are you talking about?... Wait, I'm not talking to you."
Tom sighed heavily as he rubbed his face. "Look Daria, we might not be the only ones here, Jane could have been sent back too."
"So, you're saying that... no..." Daria shook her head. "Argo is Jane? Is that what you're saying?"
"Well, it does kind of make sense," Tom said. "Have you ever seen a horse that intelligent? Or subject to such mood swings? I'm telling you, I think Argo is Jane."
"Wrong, Socrates," Aphrodite said, walking away from Kevin and Brittany. "Argo has been displaced, but that's not Jane in there."
"Who is it then?" Daria asked while looking at the horse, "Aunt Amy?"
Aphrodite shook her head. "Remember when I told you, think blonde and outcast? Well..." She gestured towards Argo.
"You've got to be kidding..." Daria said in disbelief.
"I'm a goddess, I don't kid. Trick and deceive if the occasion calls for it, but never kid."
"So, my future girlfriend, who I don't even know yet, is currently having her body occupied by... Where's Bacchus with that wine?"
Daria walked off while Tom stood there dumbfounded. "You mean to tell me, Daria has the hots for a horse?"
Tom's answer came in the form of Argo's rear hoof meeting his family jewels solidly.
Aphrodite rolled her eyes and held out her hands as a golden pitcher and silver goblet materialized in her grasp. "Here, drink this, it'll dull the pain better than anything Bacchus has got."
"Thanks," Tom squeaked as he grabbed the pitcher and goblet and walked back to his rock.
"Word of advice though, even if you're a god, don't insult a horse from behind," Aphrodite said while walking beside Tom. "Argo has always been an intelligent and protective companion of Xena's and has grown fond of Gabrielle. I suspect the girl inside is the same way with Daria, and by extension Quinn."
"Right, I'll keep that in mind."
Aphrodite turned to look at Argo. "Hmm, I wonder how Argo's getting along in the future."
Jennifer/Argo walked down the street, taken aback at her sudden ability to walk on two legs and speak, not to mention that this was obviously not where she came from. One second she was nuzzling up to Xena, then, BAM, she found herself here... wherever here was. She walked past an outdoor market, picking up an apple as she went past.
"HEY!" she heard a voice cry out, causing her to whirl in surprise, only to find a massive man approaching her. "You have to pay for that, sweetheart."
"Pay?" she said slowly.
"Yes, pay. What, you think I give this stuff away for free?"
"Hey Jennifer," A voice said from behind her causing her to look over her shoulder and see an odd assortment of people standing there. The one that had spoken wore red over black, what an interesting sensation to see color, and had the most interesting blue eyes. "What's up?"
"Jennifer?" Argo said with a puzzled look.
"Hey, you gonna pay for that apple, or do I call the police?"
"What are you, stupid? Okay, that's it, I'm calling the police."
"No, wait," Jane said, "I'll pay for it. How much?"
"Fifty cents," the man said, holding out his hand.
Jane slapped a dollar into the man's outstretched hand before snagging another apple and leading the confused looking blonde away. "Come on Jennifer, let's go see if Xena knows who you're supposed to be..."
"Xena! Where?" Argo said excitedly.
"Um, right here," Jane said, pointing to Xena/Quinn.
"That not Xena," Argo said with a snort. "Xena hair not... bright. Xena hair dark."
"I'm Xena," the red headed girl in leather spoke, "Who are you, to know what I looked like back then?"
"You call me Argo. If you Xena, who she?" Argo said, pointing to Jane. "She look little like Xena."
"Argo?" Xena asked shocked, before laughing a moment later, to be joined by Gabrielle's giggling.
"My name's Jane Lane, artist extraordinaire, and I take it you're Argo..." Jane said while giving the pair an odd look. "Alright, why are you two laughing?"
Ares sighed heavily and hiked a thumb at Argo standing around dazed. "The warrior princess, who is laughing at the moment, traveled with a horse, her name was Argo, and she was a dumb beast."
"I NOT DUMB! I SMARTER THAN JOXER!" Argo said indignantly.
"HEY!" Joxer shouted in an equally indignant tone.
"Yeah, that's true... although a rock was smarter than Joxer." Ares commented flatly. "And if, by some small chance, you happen to have a comeback for that," he continued while eyeing Joxer, "you will prove that you have some small amount of intelligence by keeping it to yourself."
"You know Ares... I think you would get along great with my history teacher. That'll happen if we don't find Loki soon..." Jane commented angrily as she looked at the assorted people around her. "Let's look at Tom's place..."
"I doubt he'd be there," Xena said. "He'd never do anything that obvious."
Across town in Tom's mansion Loki was sitting playing video games when suddenly he sneezed.
"Talking about me,
Someone must be.
Hope nice things they say,
Now back to these fun games to play."
With that Loki went back to playing games.
"I suppose you're right Xena, what would Loki do?" Jane asked with a sigh.
"Waaaaaait a minute," Gabrielle said. "Loki would never do anything obvious, right? But, since it's obvious that he wouldn't do anything obvious..."
"Reverse psychology?" Jane said. "He knows we wouldn't look for him at Tom's, so that's where he is. Um, what do we do if he's there? We can't catch him without your godlike powers," she said, looking to Ares.
"We could use magic on him. Even gods can't guard against magic." Joxer said from the back of the group.
"Right, magic," Ares said. "And just where are we supposed to find this magic? Perhaps you haven't been paying attention for the last few hours, but we seem to be out of magic. Argo, I apologize, if anyone's a dumb beast here, it's not you," Ares finished with a glare at Joxer.
Joxer pointed across the street where a group of Goths were standing around talking. "They look like witches..."
"The only magic they possess is the ability to turn any man into a soprano," Jane said. "You've got to realize, things are not as they seem here. They may look like witches, they may even call themselves witches, but trust me, they are not witches."
"I wouldn't say that Jane," a voice from behind Jane said, "Some of us are the real deal, and watch out for our friends. Now what are you doing with Jennifer?"
"I not Jennifer, I Argo," Argo replied to Andrea, who raised her eyebrows in response.
"Is she... did you hypnotize her?"
Jane sighed. "It's a long story, Andrea, but, no, she's not hypnotized."
"Alright Jane... I trust you... but I have to ask what you need a witch for," Andrea said eyeing Jennifer worriedly.
"Short version, we need a witch to catch a god, an ancient Norse god, to be precise," Jane said.
"Are you nuts? The only Norse god you could take down with a single modern witch would be Loki, and that's because he's a wimp," Andrea responded with her eyes widening in surprise.
"Funny you should say that, that's exactly who we're trying to take down," Jane said. "Actually, what we're trying to do is... this could take a while to explain, let's discuss this over some coffee."
"Sure, Den of Perk is around the corner," Andrea answered while heading away from the market, "Name sucks, but the coffee's awesome."
"Wakes me up in the morning," Jane said.
"Do they have oats?" Argo asked. "I like oats. And apples. And melons. Do they have melons? And grass. And hay. And..."
"Argo, I know how exciting it must be to be able to talk," Xena said gently, "but do you think you could be quiet for a bit?"
Jennifer nodded and walked next to Xena closely looking around cautiously. "It's alright Argo, just calm down." Xena said soothingly while petting Jennifer's hair.
Several coffees and oat bran muffins later...
"And that's basically it. We're trying to get back to ancient Greece while bringing the people you know back here," Xena said.
"I... see... well then, let's go and see this Loki fellow. We'll need to stop at my place for my kit though," Andrea responded with a slightly bored tone. "I want my best friend back, and I want her back soon."
"Preaching to the choir, sister," Jane said as she got up and headed for the door, followed by Andrea. She turned back a few seconds later. "People, I walk, you follow. What part of that are you having trouble with?" As one the rest of the group got up and followed after Jane with many grumbles between them. "I swear, these people are worse than my sister's kids..."
"You dare compare the god of war to a kid?" Ares huffed.
"There are worse things I could compare you to," Jane mumbled.
"I swear mortal wench, I am going to rip out your throat and shove it up your AAAGHH!" Ares was cut off when the finger he had been shoving into Jane's face suddenly found itself between his shoulder blades, along with the rest of his hand, courtesy of Xena.
"Now Ares, I suggest you apologize, or I make this hurt." Xena grunted through clenched teeth.
"Ooh, I love it when you play rough," Ares said with a leer.
"Yeah, just be glad I don't have my chakram with me. Now, apologize."
Andrea leaned over and whispered in Jane's ear, "I see what you mean..."
"You're on my list," Ares said, shoving the forefinger of his other hand in Andrea's face.
Jane winced as Andrea took the finger and bent it backward so that it nearly touched Brittany's wrist. "I'd suggest you stop while you're ahead Ares..."
"And I suggest you apologize," Xena said, bending Ares' arm just a little more. "Now!"
"Ack! Alright, alright, I'm sorry Jane." Ares grunted out through pain clenched teeth.
"Apology accepted, now let her go girls." Jane said to Andrea and Xena, who released Brittany's body from the two painful holds. "Might I remind you Ares, that the human body you're in is very susceptible to pain? So I wouldn't recommend making too many people mad. Understand?"
"Yeah, I understand. Now, can we go and find Loki and cause him some pain for a change?"
"I think we can manage that," Jane said with an evil grin. "Tom's been a little wandering with his interests lately..."
"Hey, we're after Loki, whatever issues you have with your boyfriend, I would take that up when he's back in his body," Xena said.
"Doesn't mean I can't look the other way while you rough up Tom's body a bit," Jane said as she lead the remainder of the group outside, and turned towards Andrea's place, only to stop a moment later and turn around. "Alright guys and gals... this way to Andrea's place..." Jane called out to the group standing around outside of the coffee shop.
"You would think they'd get the concept by now," she muttered as they straggled behind her.
Arriving at the house, the group was shocked when they were greeted by hundreds of crosses, pictures of Jesus, and angel statues spread all over every inch of each room.
"Umm... no offense Andrea... but your house looks like a prisoner's dream after eating Joxer's cooking..." Xena said while looking nervously at a cross hanging on the wall.
"Hey, no offense taken. This is my mother's doing. Every time she thinks I'm doing something that will send me to Hell, she puts up a new cross or picture of J.C., or buys one of these angels. She's kinda like the mother in Carrie, so that's kinda cool."
"Um, Andrea, I'm pretty sure they don't know who Carrie is," Jane said.
"I'm still trying to work out who J.C. is," Gabrielle said. "Is he a god?"
"In a sense..." Jane said before pausing to think of how to phrase her words. "According to one belief system, he is the son of God."
"Son of God?" Ares said. "How many offspring did your god have?"
"The common belief is that he had just the one," Andrea said. "Of course, there are some who say he didn't have any, and others who don't believe in this god, and still others who don't believe in any gods."
"Man, that guy needs to come down and do some serious work..." Ares muttered while looking at a picture of an angel. "So what's with the son of Aphrodite hanging out around here? Is he supposed to be the son of the one God or something?"
"Ares, think," Jane said, exasperated. "If he's the son of Aphrodite, would he be the son of the one god? Is Aphrodite married to the one god?"
Ares chuckled slightly. "No, that girl gets around more than Sisyphus's boulder rolls. However, she is married to Hephaestus now so maybe she settled down."
"Right. Well, anyway, are we discussing religion and theology, or are we kicking some Nordic ass?" Andrea said as she went to her room. She came out a moment later with what looked like a small cloth suitcase.
Ares grinned and cracked Brittany's knuckles. "We are going to hurt Loki, not his donkey."
Jane sighed and rolled her eyes. "Ares, ass is... forget it. Let's get that punk. Got everything you need in there, Andrea?"
"Oh yeah, I got potions and spells and salt... never underestimate the magical powers of salt."
Ares pulled back from the bag slightly at the mention of the word salt. "You know, I think I'll just stay behind you..."
"Smart man," Andrea smirked. "Just remember I've got it next time you feel like being a jerk."
While Ares nodded slowly with eyes widened in fear, the others all looked at him trying to hold in the laughter they all felt bubbling inside, save Argo, who was munching happily on an apple.
"Mmm, I like apples," she said. She turned to Xena. "Xena look funny, same color like apple. Xena feel right?"
Xena took a couple deep breaths before nodding. "Yes Argo, I'm just trying to not laugh right now."
"And what is it you're trying not to laugh at?" Ares said.
"Give ya three guesses, tough guy," Andrea smirked as she headed for the door. "After you." She gestured for Jane to lead the way.
"Right" she said, and walked out the door, with Andrea behind her. She stopped a few seconds later, looking straight ahead.
"They're not following, are they?"
"Nope," Andrea replied.
"Andrea, could you..." Jane gestured to Andrea's house. "I just don't have the heart for it anymore."
Andrea smiled and pointed over her shoulder muttering a short incantation before the others all seemed to be dragged out of the house, as though by a rope lassoed around them.
"Alright, now listen up," she said. "New rules. Rule one, when Jane walks, you follow. Next time I have to do that, the ride won't be so smooth. Rule two, Jane's in charge, I'm second in command; argue among yourselves for ranking in your group. And rule three... and I cannot overstate the importance of this rule... never piss off a witch."
As one the entire stunned group nodded with various stupefied expressions on their faces, save Argo who was once again munching on her apple. Andrea smiled and petted Argo gently before looking around curiously. "Umm, Jane, where are we going?"
"Sloane mansion, over in Crewe Neck... we're going to need some wheels... is there a bus stop nearby?"
"Busses?" Andrea said with a wicked smile. "We don't need no stinkin' busses." She walked to the middle of the street and held up her hand as a van approached. When the van stopped, she walked up to the driver's side window and signaled for the driver to roll down the window. The driver opened the door instead, since the windows weren't working.
"We need a ride to Crewe Neck," Andrea said, "and you're gonna take us there. Understand?"
"Yes, I understand," Max Tyler said slowly.
"Thanks Max," Jane said as she climbed into the back after herding the others into the van. "Andrea... what'd you use on him? I need to learn that to get him to clean up after he cleans out our fridge."
"Sorry, unless you're a full fledged witch, anything I can tell you wouldn't work for you."
"Worth a shot..." Jane sighed as she leaned back in the van. "I wonder if Daria is having fun in Ancient Greece..."
"Not to complain, but don't you have anything stronger?" Daria complained to Bacchus.
"Stronger? Listen, this is quality wine here, potent enough to loose all inhibitions and liven any party. You just have to learn not to cough it up all the time. You can't feel the effects if it doesn't stay in your stomach."
"Fine, I'll just go elsewhere then." Daria groaned as she stood up and walked away. "Well, getting drunk doesn't help when your body can't stomach it. I wonder where Quinn is..."
Argo/Jennifer trotted up beside Daria and nodded her head towards the woods to the east of the clearing.
"Look, I'm not in the mood now, Argo, or whatever your name is," Daria said in an annoyed tone. "Why don't you go sow some wild oats or something?"
Jennifer nickered in annoyance before nipping on Daria's blouse and pulling her towards the woods. Giving a few tugs before looking at Daria with worry evident in her equine features.
"Damn it, Argo, what the hell's wrong with you? Leave me alone," Daria snapped, walking away from the woods. Jennifer pawed the ground a few times, her head lowered, then she started following Daria, first at a walking pace, then increasing speed to a slow gallop. When she caught up to Daria, she put her head between Daria's legs and flipped her onto her back and galloped into the woods.
Daria could just make out over her own cursing what sounded like the noise of a fight directly in the path that the horse was heading. "If that's Quinn, flick your ears, and move faster. If that's Kevin or Brittany, slow down. If that's Tom, stop and turn around." At the flick of the ears, Daria tucked herself in low on the horse.
"Damn it, I'm telling you, I'm not Xena!" Quinn shouted to her blonde opponent.
"Doesn't matter to me," Callisto said as her sword met Xena's. "You die in this incarnation; Xena doesn't have a body to return to." She flashed Quinn an evil smile. "It's a win-win situation."
Daria dismounted the horse a safe distance from the fight and said softly to her, "Argo..." Jennifer shook her head. "Whatever your name is, I need you to go back and get my staff. Can you do..." Before Daria could finish the sentence, Jennifer raced back to retrieve the staff.
Daria looked at the heavily one sided battle pensively for a moment before she bent down and scooped up a large rock. 'I hope those nights at the pond pay off...' Daria thought as she flung the heavy rock at the back of Callisto's head. Callisto lowered her sword and felt the back of her head. When she turned around, Quinn lunged at her with her sword, but Callisto stepped to the side at the last second and grabbed Quinn by the throat. "Alright, whoever's out there, you have three seconds to come out where I can see you, or she dies."
Daria gritted her teeth before stepping out from behind the tree she was using for cover. "Alright, let my sister go. I'll have you know the God of War is possessed by someone that owes me a favor."
"Gabrielle? Oh, this is too good. You're BOTH crazy!" Callisto said with an evil laugh. She pushed Quinn away from her and started towards Daria.
"Daria, run! Save yourself!" Quinn shouted.
"Ah, go play with your frisbee," Daria said. Quinn frowned, til she got what Daria was saying.
As Callisto advanced, Daria backed away while she kept looking at Quinn. A spark of hope ignited when she saw Quinn remove the chakram from its holder, but the spark died when she saw Quinn close her eyes and fling it blindly. The spinning blade ricocheted off several trees, bouncing around like a drunken pinball only to end its erratic path by burying itself halfway into the dirt at her feet.
Callisto started to laugh. "I swear to the gods, that's the funniest thing I've ever seen. Do it again. Come on; let's see that thing fly off the trees again."
Callisto's laughter however was cut short when she heard the creaking of the trees around her. Looking up, she barely had time to raise her arms to protect herself, before the trees the chakram had hit fell on her, pinning her to the ground.
Just then, Jennifer came galloping into the woods with Gabrielle's staff in her teeth, with Brittany riding her, and looking rather ill from the experience. Jennifer looked around handing Daria the staff and letting Brittany off before walking around looking confused, until she heard a sickening crunch under a hoof and a muffled scream of pain under the pile of trees nearby.
"Daria? Quinn? Is that horse snickering?" Brittany asked, fighting to stay on her feet, the horseback ride having the same effect on her as a rollercoaster.
"You know, it wouldn't surprise me if she is," Daria replied.
Suddenly Brittany bent over the pile of trees and let loose her lunch from earlier onto the pile, which caused Jennifer to laugh hysterically, while Quinn and Daria stared, trying hard to hold in their own laughs.
They fell silent, however, when Callisto pushed the pile of trees off her in a burst of adrenaline fueled strength.
"Um, Brittany, now would be a good time to let go of your anger. And I mean... really... let go," Daria said.
"But Aphrodite told me not to..." Brittany said while Callisto cussed up a storm shaking the viscous fluids off of her body.
"Brittany, she's different. She won't die if you hit her." Daria said quickly. "She also tried to steal Kevin from you."
"She WHAT! Prepare to die, bitch!" Brittany shouted as fireballs formed in her outstretched hands.
"Whoa, no one's dying on my watch," Aphrodite said as she materialized. "Callisto, get your butt out of here while you still have it. Blondie and Raven make nice and march back to the clearing. Princess, don't piss me off. And as for you," she said to Jennifer. "You, I like. Come on, I have some nice melons waiting for you at the clearing." The horse nickered and winked at Aphrodite before giving her a playful leer.
"Ooh, you nasty pony, you," Aphrodite laughed. "You and Daria will have fun together, I just know it."
With that the horse lowered her head and looked sadly at the blonde form inspecting the taller raven haired female tenderly. Slowly turning around the horse walked towards the clearing dejectedly.
"Hey, don't worry," Aphrodite called out. "You'll be back to normal soon."
Jennifer just shook her head slowly as she walked into the clearing, going over near where Bacchus was partying and kneeled down, her head hung in defeat.
"Now why is she so sad?" Aphrodite wondered.
Tom walked over next to Aphrodite and looked over at the dejected horse. "I think it's in part, the way Daria's reacted to her. Also, I don't think she enjoys the thought of having to come out of the closet like this."
"Well, she's not quite out of the closet yet, Daria still doesn't know who she is, just that she's a blonde outcast... Wait, how much do you know about this?"
"Just what you've said, the rest is just speculation."
"Daria is... she's a reserved person. I think given time Daria will come to accept Jennifer." Aphrodite said with a thoughtful frown on her face.
"Perhaps," Tom said, looking at Jennifer. "In the meantime, maybe you should have a talk with the horse, though I'm not sure how that would be possible."
"Honey, I'm a goddess, anything is possible, though with her under one of Loki's spells, it might be a bit tricky. I'll figure something out," Aphrodite said with a shrug as she walked towards Jennifer.
Kneeling next to Jennifer she sat down and petted her on the mane gently while looking out over the others. "You know kid... I'm not wrong about Daria and you... it just takes time."
Jennifer pulled her head away with a snort and let out a shuddering breath, as though she was crying.
"Hey kid, you gotta trust me, I am the Goddess of Love, after all. I know about these things."
Jennifer motioned with her head to Kevin and Brittany, who were arguing again.
"What, them? I take no responsibility for them, that's Cupid's doing."
Jennifer turned back to look at Aphrodite for a moment before shaking her head. Afterwards she extended a hoof and wrote out three letters. Those letters spelt the word 'son' before Jennifer turned her gaze back on Aphrodite.
"Yes, Cupid is my son, but I have no control over him, not in the future. I mean, I can suggest things to him, and sometimes he listens, but he usually does what he wants."
Jennifer tilted her head in thought before she tapped her nose on Aphrodite's hip. As though asking about something one would wear there.
Aphrodite gave a puzzled look to Jennifer. "Sorry, I'm not sure what you're trying to say."
With a sigh Jennifer wrote out 'diaper' underneath 'son' and then drew an arrow between the two with a question mark afterward.
"Yes, Cupid wears a diaper. That's his identifying feature. That, plus his wings."
Jennifer slowly shook her head and wiped away the question before standing up. Walking away again with her hung head, one could tell there was much on her mind.
"Okay, this is just not working," Aphrodite muttered as she got up and approached Jennifer. When she caught up to her, she climbed on her back. "We need some 'us' time, kid. I think I have an idea how we can improve our communication. Daria, we're going for a little jaunt, you're in charge while we're gone." Having said that, she indicated to Jennifer the direction they should go, and they took off.
Walking along Jennifer kept her head lowered as her emotions churned away inside, so distract was she that she didn't see the person she was going to walk into. That was at least she didn't see him until he lifted her off the ground.
"Hello Hercules. How are you today, little brother?" Aphrodite said while sitting on the horse, that was suspended a few inches off the ground.
"Oh, I'm doing fine, and you?" he replied as he lowered horse and rider to the ground.
"Not so well, Loki's back, and he's playful..." Aphrodite sighed as she slid off Jennifer's back. "This young lady here is from the distant future, and so are a few others in Bacchus's clearing..."
"I see," Hercules said slowly. "So, that's not Argo?"
"No, the real Argo is walking around in the future in Jennifer's body. This is Jennifer," Aphrodite said as she pointed to the horse. "I've been trying to have a heart to heart with her, but communication has been a problem... say, Hercules, can I borrow you for a few minutes?"
"Borrow me?" he replied with a raised eyebrow. "For what?"
"Oh, just a little horsing around," Aphrodite said with a smirk.
"Horsing around?" Hercules eyed Jennifer, before his eyes grew wide. "No, Aphrodite, don't..."
With a sigh Aphrodite swirled her arm with a little of her power coursing through them, causing her companions to swap bodies. When she was done she stared at the horse with an apologetic look to her face. "Sorry little brother, but it needed done."
Hercules nudged Aphrodite in the chest, causing her to take a few steps backward.
"Okay, so I owe you one," she said before turning to Jennifer, now in Hercules' body. "So, now that we can communicate, what's on your mind?"
Jennifer looked down at the muscular body she was in and blinked. "This is getting ridiculous..."
"That's what happens when Loki decides to have some fun. Now, what's got you so down? Talk to me."
"It's nothing... I'm just... getting used to stuff around here is all..." Jennifer said while turning away from the goddess.
"Minotaur chunks," Aphrodite snorted. "Something's bothering you, and you're gonna tell me what it is. Is it Daria?"
"Would it matter if it was? It's not like she'd ever notice or accept me." Jennifer said sadly while keeping her back to the goddess.
"Of course she'll notice you, and accept you, but you've got to put yourself out there, MAKE her notice you. I'll tell you, she's a little more accepting after what you did in the woods."
"What? Drag her in to save her sister, like anybody with a heart would do? Or be clumsy enough to step on the fingers of the person I was looking for?"
"Yes, exactly. You took the initiative and put Daria on your back to save her sister. Like anyone with a heart would do. Let me tell you, sweetheart, you'd be amazed at how many people under your circumstances would not have done the same thing."
"No... I wouldn't... I just don't want to be those people, I want to be someone she can respect..." Jennifer said quietly.
"And you are, it's just that... listen, you're not the only one trying to deal with this situation. Can you imagine how Daria must have felt when she found out her future lover was a horse? That idea takes some getting used to. But she's coming around, and when you're back in your own bodies, you two will be magic."
"I've had enough magic for one lifetime thank you, I just want to go back to my normal life of quiet despair that she'll never accept me if that's alright." Jennifer said while leaning on a tree for support.
Aphrodite sighed in exasperation. "You are a stubborn little ass, aren't you? I'm the Goddess of Love, and when I say you and Daria are going to make it, you can believe me."
"I'm sorry, it's just hard to believe in that when I've spent the last year getting my heart ripped out because she's dating Jane Lane. Don't you think I WANT to believe you?" Jennifer said as she spun on the goddess, tears rolling down the male cheeks she was using.
"Oh, honey, I'm afraid you've been operating under a serious misconception," Aphrodite said sympathetically. "Daria is not dating Jane, Jane's dating Tom. Jane and Daria are best friends, not lovers."
Jennifer stared at the goddess for a moment in shocked disbelief before blinking slowly. "What?"
"Jane Lane is dating Tom Sloane," Aphrodite said slowly. "Daria Morgendorffer... gods, I wish I could do something about that name... Daria is currently dating no one; she's waiting for you to come into her life."
"You... you mean to say... awww F#$!" Jennifer shouted a second before slapping her face into her hands. "You mean to tell me, I've been waiting for nothing?"
"I'm afraid so," Aphrodite nodded. "So the past is a bit messed up, the future is still yours. Make the best of it."
Jennifer nodded looking down the path they had come from quietly for a moment. "I suppose I'll do just that... Alright, I'm ready to go back. This body's signaling a need to do something, I don't really want to be witness to."
"Right. Okay, little bro, time to change back." Aphrodite waved her arms, and Jennifer and Hercules resumed their former incarnations.
Hercules looked himself over before saying, "Aphrodite, don't talk to me for a while, alright?" Then he walked away to heed the call of nature in private.
"Come on Jennifer; let's go back, before they destroy everything." Aphrodite said with a hint of dread in her voice.
As the group exited the van, Andrea whispered a few words to Max that would make him forget what had just happened when he returned to the spot where he picked them up.
"So, we're not going to Holiday Island?" Joxer said.
Xena sighed and said, "No, Joxer, we were going there to find Cupid, to help us find Loki, but now that we've figured out where he is..."
"Hopefully," added Jane.
"...We don't need Cupid," Xena finished.
Andrea bent over near a small tree and pulled a small bag of salt out of her case and uttered a small incantation as she sprinkled it around the house.
"What is that supposed to do?" Jane asked.
"If Loki is in the house, the salt will keep him from escaping, and it will greatly reduce his magic."
"And if he's not in the house?" Xena said.
"Well then I've just wasted a bag of salt, haven't I?" Andrea replied. "But caution over cost. You wait here; it does no good if it doesn't completely surround the house."
Xena stepped forward and sighed. "You said caution is our cost, so I'll follow you... just in case."
"No, what I said was... never mind, doesn't matter. Stay behind me, but do not step on the salt."
"Wasn't planning on it," Xena said quietly as she took a couple steps away from the salt line and walked after Andrea.
Fifteen minutes later, Andrea and Xena worked their way around the back half of the house, where they came into plain view of Tom's room.
It was at that moment that Xena sneezed, gaining Loki's attention. He looked out a window from Tom's room above.
"What have we here?
They're after me.
With a bag of salt!
Oh, I must flee!"
Loki tried to leap away and disappear, only to fall flat on his face.
"Ow! The spell in effect,
My powers now defect.
Hide somewhere in here I must,
For their restraint I do not trust."
As Loki explored every conceivable hiding place in Tom's room, Andrea had plenty of time to complete the circle.
"The closet," Loki said, heading to the large walk in closet. "No, too obvious." He ran out into the hall and tried to decide which of the numerous doors he should try.
It was then that the group entered the house, using the key Tom had given Jane.
"Oh no, they're in! I've got to go!"
He opened the first door that he came to, which opened to a bathroom.
"A jest this must be...
For one such as me.
To be trapped in the commode,
Of this lovely abode."
With a sigh he ducked inside the bathroom, and hid inside the deep jet tub, hiding under the partially open cover.
As the rest of the group walked into the house, Andrea pulled another object out of her case.
"A twig?" Jane said skeptically.
"Oh ye of little imagination,
To see a twig, and not divination."
"Oh gods, she's talking in rhyme," Xena muttered.
"In rhyme, for sooth, I surely speak,
A sign he is here. Come, let us seek."
Gabrielle pulled up short and tapped Ares on the shoulder. "Why do you never speak in rhyme, Ares?"
"Olympian gods do not speak in rhyme. In fact, few gods do, it's just the deranged ones like Loki that do that... not one word implying I'm deranged," Ares said with a death glare to Gabrielle.
Gabrielle smiled and walked away to where the others were standing around the base of the stairs.
"So, there is an upstairs, a main floor and a basement to check out... I'd say plant either Ares or Xena here to catch Loki if he bolts, and then have the rest of us look upstairs." Jane finished while looking at the others.
"A good plan, but let the rod lead the way," Andrea said as she held the twig lightly between the thumb and index finger of her right hand. "We will catch that trickster god today."
"Say, Andrea, is it as annoying having to speak in rhyme as it is to hear it?" Jane said.
"Trust me right now,
I'd rather kiss a cow.
Than speak in rhyme,
All of the fing time."
The look Andrea gave Jane caused her to back off. "Right. Just trying to lighten things up a bit."
The twig in Andrea's hand began to twitch, and she walked to the staircase.
"The trickster god is up these stairs.
Quiet, we'll catch him unawares."
Jane lingered as most of the group went upstairs until Joxer was about to head up himself, tapping his shoulder Jane smiled and pointed to a spot a little distance away. "Sit there, and don't do anything unless Loki comes down here. Got it?" Jane whispered menacingly in Joxer's ear.
"And what should I do if he comes down?" he asked.
"Stop him from leaving. Think you can do that?"
"I guess so, but if he escapes Xena, Ares, and that witch..."
"That is why you're down here, in case that happens. Try not to mess this up as the person you inhabit would, okay?" Jane said as she went up the stairs.
Gabrielle met up with Jane at the top of the stairs with a quizzical look to her face. "Are you sure that he's the best one to be left down there?"
"Yes, if he was up here, he would likely become a hindrance, but down there, he's out of our way..." Jane said with a nod down the stairs. "That and... that body has some of the most amazing luck going for it. If we all fail, the only thing that'll catch Loki is likely to be sheer dumb luck."
"And Joxer has the dumb part down," Gabrielle said. "But his heart's usually in the right place, I'll give him that."
"Yeah... so is Kevin's, when he isn't acting for his lower half..." Jane said with a small smirk as they started towards where the group was gathered around a single door.
"And what room is this, I pray you tell,
So's we may send this jerk to Nordic hell."
"This would be one of the bathrooms," Jane replied.
"Then false indication this could be,
Water affecting the rod, you see.
Yet no other indication is shown...
Let's check this out, cover may be blown."
"Yeah, Xena, Ares, you two are first, Gabrielle and Argo, you two are covering me in the middle, Andrea, I trust you can manage your own." Jane said with a determined demeanor.
"Handle myself is problem none,
Battles are always shortly won.
For males have a weak point,
And it's more than just a joint."
Andrea replied while pulling out something from her case that she tucked into her fist.
"What's that?" Jane asked.
"Something of which you need not know,
But which could give Loki a nasty blow."
Jane nodded and pointed for Xena and Ares to enter the bathroom. Once inside the entire group paused and blinked, save Jane, who had become accustomed to the grandeur of the bathroom over time. Giving the group a moment to regain themselves Jane gave the room a once over looking for likely places to hide, and smirked noticing the opening in the jet tub's cover.
She pointed to it and silently indicated that Ares and Xena should approach. When Ares removed the lid, Xena grabbed Loki by the collar of Tom's shirt and pulled him up.
Jane gave a strange staccato laugh, and then said, "Hewwo, wabbit." Everyone stared at her as if she were under a spell, except Andrea, who got the joke, and Argo, who seemed amused by Jane's funny laugh and unusual speech.
Loki looked about at the faces around him and gulped deeply, fearing what they might do.
"A merry romp indeed,
For this troop and steed.
Homeward I must take,
Else my body you doth break?"
"Well, duh," Jane said. "But before you send these people back to their own time, and return my friends to their bodies, I just have to know, why did you do it? Did you get some thrill from this or what?"
"Why a lesson learned,
And a new love earned.
These are reason have I,
The fun was on the sly."
Loki responded with a smirk, and looked at Andrea and Jane for a moment.
"Care for your friends you do,
From your hearts, pure and true.
Much love for them both of you possessed,
But another matter is to be addressed"
"And what's the matter?" Xena asked.
"Nothing, what's the matter with you?" Jane replied. "Sorry, couldn't resist. So, what is this matter that has to be addressed?"
Loki smirked again and gave a playful shrug.
"A secret from a friend,
Might bring friendship's end.
That secret they have to share,
Will come from the mare."
They all turned to face Argo.
"What? That smell not me," she said.
Xena sighed. "Loki, what in Tartarus are you talking about?"
"The secret I cannot share,
To be honest and fair.
The mare's replacement must tell,
Or else hide in a clam shell."
"If Jenny a secret has to share
Then quickly swap bodies with the mare," Andrea said.
"And kindly be quick about the timing,
I'm getting so sick of this ing rhyming."
"Your spell must lifted be,
For my magic held, you see.
Away to fair Greece we shall go,
To the friends that you know."
Loki said while looking at the angry mob.
"Outside shall we travel?
So time and space can unravel?
Repair what was done shall I,
Before you beat me across the sky."
"Loki, you're about as trustworthy as a cobra in a rabbit hutch," Ares said angrily. "How do we know you won't try to escape once her spell is lifted?"
"That binding component in her hand,
Would sink me down like sand.
Great pain it would cause,
If I were to try and break her laws."
Loki stated while looking at Andrea's clenched fist, a shudder ran through his body as he pictured what that component could do to him.
"So, not so dumb are you after all,
With great pain into the cold earth you'll fall
If you dare to deceive or trick us again.
It is time to return, so let us go then."
Jane and the others blinked as Andrea walked out of the room, and Loki seemed to be physically dragged out behind her. Slowly the others followed after, watching Loki for any signs of trickery. Seeing Loki being led out under the control of the others Joxer waited until the displaced Grecians arrived downstairs and followed them outside where Andrea was erasing part of the circle.
"One thing I don't understand," Gabrielle whispered to Xena. "How was Ares able to cross the circle of salt?"
"SILENCE!" Andrea shouted. "And quiet required here
While the trickster god goes back many a year
And your very own bodies will soon retake,
For on promise of pain, his vow he'll not forsake."
Loki turned to face Andrea.
"If you for a moment would loosen your grip,
Then into the past these souls shall slip...
That I intend no trickery you must believe,
On this rare occasion I will not deceive."
Andrea looked to Jane who shrugged before giving a nod. Loosening her grip on the binding component Andrea grinned and waved her other hand.
"Minutes five have you,
You know what to do."
Loki smiled slightly.
"Thank you, fair witch, and now it is time
To slip back to the past, and to cease all your rhyme.
Your friends in a moment, the blink of an eye,
Will return, and with that, I bid you goodbye."
With that, Loki flung out his hands and spun around while laughing. As he spun, several strands of light began to swirl around him, creating a rainbow colored tornado that engulfed everyone inside it. After a few minutes, Jane and Andrea stood over the unconscious bodies of their friends blinking in confusion.
Jane started for Tom, to see if he was all right. She may have been mad at him for whatever he had done, but he was still her boyfriend. As she bent over him, and was about to shake him, a cloud of pink smoke appeared, and out of that smoke stepped Aphrodite, along with another being.
"Uh uh uh, not so fast," Aphrodite cautioned.
Andrea looked up at the Goddess of Love and blinked. "Whoa, too much pink... I'm so going to be called a perky after this...
"Who are you? And are they going to be okay?" Jane asked with concern.
"Yes, they'll be fine. I am Aphrodite, goddess of beauty and love. I've been watching over your friends back in ancient Greece, and boy, do you owe me for that. This is Mnemosyne, goddess of memory."
Jane looked to the goddess in white, noting how much she looked like Daria, only somewhat older, and without the glasses. She guessed Mnemosyne resembled Daria's aunt Amy, by the descriptions Daria had given her.
Mnemosyne sighed looking down at Daria's sleeping form, "I should have known that becoming this one's aunt, would cause problems for her. I wonder why Zeus made me live with this family..."
"Huh?" Jane said, too shocked to say anything else.
"You're Daria's aunt?" Andrea asked.
"Technically, no, but it is what they believe. I'm sure there's a purpose for this, but the centuries have taught me not to question the whims of Zeus."
"I see," Jane said, finally regaining her power of speech. "So, why are you here, exactly?"
"Honey, you don't expect them to go through the rest of their lives with this memory in their heads, do you?" Aphrodite said. "Can you imagine how hard that must be to come to terms with what happened to them? Especially Jennifer."
Jane shook her head. "We've dealt with things like this before; I know Daria wouldn't want her mind messed with. I don't care what you do to Quinn and the others, and Jennifer probably doesn't want to remember being a horse. But dammit; Daria is my friend and I'm not going to let you just play around with her memories like that!" Jane ended with a shout, looking with anger into the Goddess of Memory's eyes.
"I'm sorry, but this needs to be done," Mnemosyne said sympathetically. "I can do this, however. I can let them hold onto the memories in their dreams."
"So, they'll just attribute the memories to spicy food eaten late at night?" Jane snarled.
"Sorry, that's the best I can do."
"Like heck it is!" Andrea shouted at Mnemosyne, "My best friend traded bodies with a horse, from what I gather, and the best you can give them is a weak excuse like that? Why bother even altering their memories at all?"
"And what's this deal about a secret that Loki was going on about?" Jane cut in with an annoyed tone to her voice.
Aphrodite sighed and shrugged her shoulders. "I could tell you, but then Mnemosyne would have to alter your memories too."
Jane stopped to consider this for a moment, then said, "I need to know. Even if my mind is wiped clean later, I need to know right now. What was Loki's secret?"
Aphrodite looked back at Mnemosyne who gave her a shrug before motioning for Aphrodite to explain. "It's simple really; two people in this heap are destined to be lovers, namely the best friends of the two upright people."
Aphrodite smirked as Andrea and Jane looked at Jennifer and Daria, who were laid out so that their heads were next to each other, feet in opposite directions. "Yes, those two. Also, bubble brain and no brain are going to break up."
"Could've seen that one coming," Jane said. "So, Loki was working with you, to get Daria and Jennifer together? Wasn't there a simpler way to do that? And while you're here, is there anything you can do for me and Tom?"
"You could have, no he wasn't, I doubt it, and ummm... Jane, I'm sorry..." Aphrodite said while trailing off.
Jane sighed. "Just tell me I wind up happily married to someone, with several kids."
"The path has already been set, but there'll be a few more heartbreaks along the way. Now, Mnemosyne, if you would..."
"WAIT!" Jane shouted. "There's one more thing I have to know. Andrea, how is it Ares was able to cross the circle of salt?"
Andrea smirked. "Because Ares, in his incarnation as Brittany, was not a god, and therefore, not susceptible to the magical powers of salt. But he didn't need to know that."
Jane sighed and glared at Mnemosyne before shaking her head again. "Alright, let's get through this before I change my mind again. But I think, it's not fair, to make Daria and Jennifer wait to be together."
"They won't wait long," Aphrodite said. "Next time they're at Pizza King at the same time, that's when it will start."
Aphrodite sighed. "Yes, Jane, I promise. Now, if you're all ready..."
Mnemosyne sighed and pointed to Andrea. "Drop it witch; I don't feel like having my memory wipes cancelled today."
Andrea sighed and dropped the spell component she had gathered in her hand, letting the grains of black sand drift down to the ground and away in the wind.
"Party pooper," Andrea pouted.
"Now, if we can do this sometime today," Aphrodite said impatiently.
Mnemosyne walked over to Jane and placed her right hand on her head, causing Jane to lose consciousness. Aphrodite waved her hand, and Jane disappeared.
Andrea blinked a few times before shouting, "What did you do to Jane?"
"Relax," Aphrodite said, "she's in the last place she was before all this happened, back in her room, working on a painting."
Mnemosyne continued working her way through the others, sending them back to where they belong, and finally arrived at Andrea, who she smiled sweetly at. "I can't wait until you awaken to your destiny young witchling."
"Um, should I be worried?" Andrea said, looking to Aphrodite with trepidation.
Aphrodite smiled and shrugged. "You might want to ask the Oracle of Delphi about that, but if you see her, you'll know the answer already."
"So, that's a good thing?"
"That's for you to decide." Mnemosyne said as she placed her hand on Andrea's forehead, and all went dark for her.
"I'm telling you Jane... I keep seeing this image of me chucking stones at some blonde psycho's head, every night. I've even started writing down the other scenes to see if I can make a good story from them."
"I said it before, and I'll say it again, Amiga, you're one twisted little cruller," Jane said. She paused before adding, "I think I might be somewhat pretzel-like myself. I keep having these dreams about you and Quinn being a warrior and her sidekick. And you're always the sidekick."
"That'd be more accurate than me being the warrior," Daria said before taking a sip of her soda. "I mean I know I'm not the bravest people... hey Jane... who's that, the blonde girl that just walked in?" Daria said while pointing to a long haired blonde in an army jacket and worn jeans, heading towards where Andrea was sitting.
"That's Jennifer, most people just call her burnout girl. Why?"
Daria frowned in puzzlement for a few minutes before shaking her head and sitting back in her chair. "I don't know, but I swear I saw her face before, in a dream... she was really close, and upside down... I think I sound like an idiot."
"No, you're not sounding like Kevin, not quite yet," Jane smirked as she looked to where Kevin and Brittany were sitting at a table, having another fight. "I don't know how those two stay together. I just don't see them together after high school."
Daria joined Jane in a wince as Brittany slapped Kevin hard across the face and stormed out, swearing that they were through. "I think your prediction might come true sooner than you think... Oh and Jane... I'm sorry about Tom... I swear I didn't mean to hurt him that badly when he kissed me."
"I'm sorry you didn't hurt him worse. I'm glad you told me about it, and I'm sorry for the things I said to you when you did."
"Eh, I'm over it. And I'm sure you'll find someone who deserves you."
Watching this scene from Mt. Olympus were Aphrodite, Ares, and Mnemosyne.
"Well, isn't that touching," Ares said with a sneer, before sticking his finger down his throat.
"Now, now Ares, my niece and her friends have an interesting future before them." Mnemosyne said before smacking Ares' wrist, causing him to scrape the roof of his mouth with his fingernail.
"Ow! Damn it, you don't do that to the god of..."
"Oh, can it, Ares," Aphrodite said. "Ooh, look, their big moment is coming up."
Jennifer got up from the table she was sharing with Andrea, on her way to the women's room, which would take her past Daria and Jane's booth. As she passed their booth, she slipped on an errant ice cube, and before she could hit the floor, Daria jumped out of the booth and caught her.
"You alright, Jennifer?" Daria asked looking down at the girl in her arms.
"Yeah, I think so. Hey, aren't you Daria?" Jennifer asked as Daria assisted her to an upright position.
"Um, yes. You know who I am?"
"Of course, everyone in O'Neill's classes knows who you are, he raves about your writings all the time."
"Well only when he's not still sobbing from them. I was also in the Self-esteem class you graduated out of with all due haste..." Jennifer said with a slight blush to her cheeks.
"Oh, so that would explain it, at least part of it," Daria said.
"Oh, nothing, just some dreams I've been having."
"And now to isolate those two," Aphrodite said, just as Andrea's cell phone went off. A few moments later, she walked by the booth.
"Hey Jen, gotta jet, big sale on potions and crystals at Hexxors," she said before walking out the door.
Jane looked up at the clock and sighed, "Hey Daria, I have to take off too, mom is supposed to be home tonight, and I need to make sure she leaves money for rent and groceries."
"Right. We still on for bad movie night?"
"Sorry, VCR broke down this morning. Should get a new one before next week. Later, Amiga."
"Bye Jane..." Daria said softly while looking at the still half full pizza sitting on the table. "Care to have some Jennifer?"
"Nah. But, you know what I've had a craving for? Den of Perk's Apple 'n Oats Muffins. Care to join me? We could wrap this up."
"I think I will join you," Daria said with a small smile as she started heading to the pile of take home cartons by the soda machines. "Maybe while I'm packing up, you can finish... other business."
Jennifer looked at Daria, confused. "Um, what other business?"
Daria smirked and pointed to the women's room. "Weren't you going there?"
"Oh, yeah, right," she said, blushing again. "Be just a few."
Daria smiled again ever so slightly before continuing to the stack, where she grabbed a container and returned to the table. Putting the pizza into the box she thought, 'She's really pretty when she blushes...' before shaking her head slowly. 'I've been listening to Quinn too much...'
"You know, it was interesting when the bimbo slapped the jock," Ares said, "but after that..." He looked down and shook his head. "Later," he said, snapping his fingers and disappearing.
Mnemosyne sighed and smiled slightly as her favorite niece walked out of Pizza King with Jennifer before she looked at Aphrodite. "So, why are you taking such a keen interest in that pair?"
"I don't know, maybe the blonde reminds me of me. Plus I kinda owe Daria for what Cupid did that one time... actually, I owe a lot of people for what Cupid did. But everything will work out for everyone, in its own time."
"Speaking of Cupid... Why the diaper?"
"Because that's his identifying feature," Aphrodite said, to Mnemosyne's shaking head.
"Aphrodite, you have to cut the strings some time. He's not your baby anymore, he's a grown god."
"Maybe... in a few more centuries... I can still coddle him a little while longer..." Aphrodite said with a small pout.
Mnemosyne smiled and shook her head before looking back to Daria and Jennifer in Den of Perk. "Oh, that's so adorable, the two straws in one drink bit. Is that a melon smoothie they're sharing?
Jennifer blushed slightly as she watched Daria sipping from their shake, she hadn't meant to order just the one, but Daria didn't seem to mind.
"Um Daria, I hope I'm not being too personal but... these rumors about you and Jane..."
Daria sighed. "No, we are not a couple, we're just friends."
"So, you're both straight?"
"Um, well..." Daria stammered.
"Because if, by chance, you weren't, I could find it so easy to have a crush on you... Oh my god, I can't believe I just said that. I'm sorry; I didn't mean anything by it."
Daria looked down into the smoothie quietly for a few minutes before sighing. "I think you could do a lot better than me Jennifer..."
"No!" Aphrodite cried. "This is not how it's supposed to be."
She watched as Daria reached for the smoothie, then Aphrodite extended Daria's hand to knock the smoothie onto Jennifer.
"Oh, I'm sorry, Jennifer," Daria said flustered. "Here, let me get that." She grabbed some napkins and started wiping off the smoothie from Jennifer's shirt before she realized what she was doing. She looked up, blushing, with her hand resting on Jennifer's breast. Before Daria could apologize or remove her hand, Jennifer kissed her on the forehead.
"Maybe I can do better, but there's something about a klutz I just can't resist," Jennifer said with a smirk.
Daria blushed and pulled her hands back from Jennifer's breasts. "I'm sorry about that Jennifer..." Looking down into the small trail of melon smoothie remaining on the table she sighed. "How about I buy the next one for you? As an apology?"
"Only if you stop putting yourself down, and give us a chance... assuming that you're not straight, and your earlier embarrassment would indicate that you're not."
"Umm... are you sure you want me? I mean..." Daria started before falling silent and looking down.
"Yes, I'm sure. I've been sure since we were in that stupid self esteem class together, and if I hadn't believed those stupid rumors about you and Jane, I'm sure we'd be a couple by now. So what do ya say, give us a chance?"
"I... I don't know Jen... I need time to think..." Daria said quietly.
"Damn, you are a stubborn ass, aren't you... wow, I just had this feeling of deja vu."
"What do you mean?" Daria asked.
"I just got the sense that... I think someone said to me what I just said to you, about being a stubborn ass... and I get the feeling that they might have been right... and I'm sure I'm right. Daria, I think I know you, and I think what might be holding you back is your fear of rejection, or that this thing won't last. Look, all I'm asking is that you give us a chance, the same way you gave Jane a chance for being friends."
Daria blushed and looked down for a moment before looking up, "Alright, I... I'll give us a chance."
Back on Olympus Aphrodite was dancing with glee that Daria finally quit being stubborn and accepted Jen's offer. Mnemosyne was smirking while watching her fellow goddess.
"Aphrodite, remember, you also promised Jane she'd find someone."
"And she will, but her true love will be found in her future educational endeavors."
"You couldn't just say they'd meet in college?" Mnemosyne said with a shake of her head.
Aphrodite smirked playfully before shaking her head. "Because the type of education she'll be seeking is a different type."
"Should I even ask?"
"Probably not," Aphrodite said with a wink.
"I should get going; I'm due to arrive at my sister's house soon." Mnemosyne said while standing up. "I should be just in time to see my favorite niece, with her date." Mnemosyne said with a nod to the viewing portal showing Daria talking about watching Sick, Sad World with Jen.
"And did you see the one about the body switch?" Jennifer asked.
"Yeah, right," Daria scoffed, "Like THAT could ever happen."
Jennifer smiled and looked at her watch. "You know, there is a show starting in about five minutes, we could have gone to my place to watch it, but we just missed the bus..."
"Well, I know that guy over there," Daria said, pointing to Max. "Maybe he can give us a ride."
Aphrodite frowned looking down at Daria, grumbling about stubborn mortals not playing into the plans of the Gods before smiling and having a tall blonde sit down next to Max and have them hit it off. "Sometimes it helps being the Goddess of Love."
"...Or, we could walk to my house," Daria said. "If we walk fast, we should just about make it in time."
Jennifer smirked and stood from the table. "Shall we then, milady?" she asked while extending a hand out to help Daria up.
"Yes, we shall," Daria replied, something approaching real emotion replacing her usual deadpan.
Jennifer helped Daria up and together the pair walked briskly out of the Den of Perk towards Daria's house. As they walked, neither noticed that they were holding hands.
Upon arriving at her house, Daria held the door open for Jennifer and followed after her. Leading the way to the couch Jennifer smiled at the pleasant décor of the living room.
Daria grabbed the remote and asked Jennifer, "What show did you want to watch?"
"Sick Sad World..." Jennifer said with a raised eyebrow.
"Oh, right, of course," Daria said with an embarrassed laugh.
"Of course, we could have caught the rerun at midnight, but then you'd... have to... spend the night..." She glanced shyly at Jennifer.
"Yes, it's working!" Aphrodite squealed.
"Don't you think you should give them a moment of privacy before her aunt arrives?" Zeus said, popping in behind her.
"Can't I please just watch the first kiss daddy? Please?" Aphrodite begged with big, sad eyes.
"Oh, alright, but you'd better look quick, because it's coming up in just two seconds," the father of the gods replied.
Aphrodite whirled around just in time to see Jennifer pull Daria close and whisper something, before kissing her tenderly on the lips. And she nearly broke out in peals of laughter when there was a knock on the door, signaling Mnemosyne's arrival.
"Now, you've seen their first kiss, and Mnemosyne will be talking with Helen in the kitchen, and so these should be private moments for Daria and Jennifer," Zeus said. "De-activate the portal."
Aphrodite pouted and waved her hand over the portal turning it black. "Yes, daddy..." After a moment Aphrodite looked at Zeus curiously. "Why did you send Mnemosyne to live with those mortals?"
Zeus smiled and shook his head. "That my dear daughter will be a secret for me alone to know, and you to never know," he replied before disappearing in a ball of light.
Aphrodite pouted, and then turned back to the viewing portal, intending to re-activate it, when Zeus' voice boomed, "Don't even think about it."
"Party pooper..." Aphrodite sighed and walked out of her viewing chamber quietly. "I'll just watch their first night together in bed..." she whispered with a devious smirk.
Aphrodite walked down the hallway aimlessly pondering about the recent involvement with mortals. Drawing up to a balcony she looked over the once pastoral plains of Greece and sighed. "I think that this is the start of an interesting time for the Gods of Olympus..."