II. Partners In Grime

It is early morning. In a forest clearing, Xena and Gabrielle are sitting beside their campfire. They have just finished their breakfast. Gabrielle is scouring a battered frying pan while Xena sharpens her sword.

The sound of someone crashing through the underbrush, along with a cacophony of clanking and clattering noises, intrudes on their domestic tranquillity.

XENA: Are you expecting any packages?

GABRIELLE: <blushes> No…

XENA: Too bad.

The crashing, clanking and clattering noises start getting farther away.

XENA: Over here, Joxer.

The crashing, clanking and clattering noises get louder until at last Joxer enters the clearing, a mail carrier’s bag over his shoulder.

JOXER: I was scouting the perimeter.

XENA: Sure you were.

Joxer sets the mail bag down, rummages through it, and extracts a collection of small scrolls. He hands them to Xena with a flourish.

JOXER: A delivery for the Warrior Princess.

Xena takes them and sets them down next to her.

XENA: Thanks, Joxer.

GABRIELLE: What are those?

XENA: Since Joxer was kind enough to let us use his post office box, I got a subscription to a magazine.

GABRIELLE: Only one? You must have at least ten scrolls there.

Xena rummages through the scrolls and extracts one.

XENA: This one is the magazine. The rest are for you.

GABRIELLE: For me? What are they?

XENA: Alternative fan fiction.

GABRIELLE: What’s that?

XENA: Stories.

GABRIELLE: <excited> Stories? What kind of stories?

Joxer sits down next to Xena and picks up one of the scrolls.

JOXER: Great! Gabrielle can read us a story.

Xena snatches the scroll back.

XENA: I don’t think you’d like these stories, Joxer.

JOXER: <whines> Why not? I like stories. Gabby tells a pretty good story.

XENA: Joxer, if we read you these stories, we’ll have to kill you.

Xena smiles happily at the thought. Joxer looks nervous.

JOXER: Oh. Well… Uh… Oh gee, I forgot. <scrambles to his feet> I have to go to the store for my mother. Gotta go. Farewell, warrior chums!

Joxer clatters off into the forest. Xena resumes sharpening her sword.


XENA: Yeah?

GABRIELLE: <shyly> Are those really for me?

XENA: <gruffly> Who else?

Gabrielle goes over to Xena and gives her a quick hug. Xena shrugs her off, but there is the hint of a pleased look in her eyes.

Later. Xena and Gabrielle are still sitting by their now dead campfire. Each one of them is reading one of the scrolls.

XENA: <snort> They must think we live in a rain forest.


XENA: They’ve got ponds, lakes, beaches, streams. This is Greece, for Zeus’ sake. We get half an inch of rain a year.

GABRIELLE: It’s called poetic license.

XENA: What’s that?

GABRIELLE: Sometimes you have to put things in for artistic reasons, even when it might not be strictly accurate.

XENA: But this is not even close! I haven’t gone swimming since that time I taught you how to fish.

GABRIELLE: <sighs nostalgically> That was a wonderful day…

XENA: What possible “artistic” reasons could they have for making us go swimming every two minutes?

GABRIELLE: I can think of a few.

XENA: Like what?

GABRIELLE: Aesthetics.

XENA: Ass-what?

GABRIELLE: In the vernacular, it means not grossing people out.

XENA: What are you saying?

GABRIELLE: Xena, the people in these stories are about to make love.

XENA: <shrugs> So? Is swimming some kind of foreplay?

GABRIELLE: <exasperated> No, dear. It just makes them clean.

XENA: Clean? How clean do they have to be?

GABRIELLE: Xena, do you have any idea what sweaty leather smells like after a few days?

XENA: Of course I do. I wear it all the time. Anyway, I thought you liked the smell of sweaty leather.

GABRIELLE: Well, uh, I do, but…

XENA: <raises her left eyebrow> Yes?

GABRIELLE: Xena, don’t take this the wrong way…

XENA: What?

GABRIELLE: Sometimes it’s a little overpowering.

XENA: Overpowering is one of my specialties.

GABRIELLE: I mean the smell is a little overpowering.

XENA: Are you telling me that I stink?


XENA: Gee, you never said anything about it before. All I remember hearing is, Ooooh, Xena, I just loooooove the smell of sweaty leather.


Xena suddenly goes on alert and motions to Gabrielle to be quiet as she listens intently. A muted sound of clanking and clattering is heard.

GABRIELLE: What does he think he’s doing?

XENA: I think he thinks he’s being quiet.

Xena and Gabrielle wait patiently for Joxer to “sneak up” on them. Eventually he tiptoes into the clearing behind them.

XENA: What is it, Joxer?

JOXER: I forgot my mail bag…

Joxer sidles up to the mail bag while nervously keeping his eyes on Xena.

XENA: How long have you been out there, Joxer?

JOXER: I didn’t hear a thing. Really.

XENA: Hmmmm. Well, I think I’ll have to kill you anyway, just to be sure…

Xena reaches into her cleavage for her breast dagger. Joxer grabs the mail bag and sprints for the shelter of the trees.

GABRIELLE: Xena, you can’t—

XENA: I’m just going to scare him.

Xena cocks her arm and unleashes a mighty throw. A large, double-headed lavender dildo arcs through the air, flying end over end, accompanied by a sound rather like whupwhupwhupwhupwhup. It strikes Joxer between his shoulder blades and one end wedges itself between a pie plate and a bicycle chain. Xena and Gabrielle watch wide-eyed as Joxer runs into the forest, the dildo bobbing wildly along behind him.

XENA: Oh, shit! Where the hell is that breast dagger?!?

GABRIELLE: Xena! You’ve got to stop him!

XENA: Why?

GABRIELLE: He’s got Mardicus!

XENA: Oh. Yeah. <smirks> But I’d love to see what happens when he gets home…

Xena and Gabrielle look at each other, then collapse in hysterical laughter.

GABRIELLE: I guess we can get it later…

XENA: Yeah, we’ll stop by his house on our way into town.

GABRIELLE: Into town?

XENA: I’ve got a few extra dinars. I thought we could stay at the inn tonight.

GABRIELLE: <dumbfounded> We’ve never spent the night in an inn the entire time we’ve been together!

XENA: We do it all the time in the stories. It sounds like fun.

GABRIELLE: Gee, a soft bed…

XENA: A bath…

GABRIELLE: A bath? Oh, Xena, would you really take a bath? Just for me?

XENA: Well, that was nice that time at Minya’s…


Oh No!

Ed. note: The number that was given as the annual rainfall of Greece (0.50 inches) has not been confirmed. The authors insist that their use of this statistic is permissible under the terms of poetic license.