Old Warriors Never Die, They Just...
Legal Disclaimer: Xena, Gabrielle et al do not belong to us, but are being sent into retirement at Renaissance Alliance Pictures, more's the pity. No profit is made from this, thank the gods.
Sex: Now that would be inappropriate...
We hereby assure you that none of us were drunk when we came up with this. Sad, that...
Note: This piece assumes that even heroes get older eventually, so if you prefer them in their prime, don't read on.
September 24, 2001
There I was, happily relaxing on Brighton Beach, wearing my beautiful "Verrath went to a Convention and all I got was this lousy T-Shirt" T-shirt, when I mentioned to Lariel that someone might come up and ask if I actually knew Verrath, and I could say, "Not only do I know her, but she's sitting there, and beside her is the famous bard Lariel and I'm Kamouraskan" and Lariel cut me off liquor immediately. Then she demanded that we write a comedy to celebrate being together....
The Germ clarifies...
Not so long ago, I was happily planning for a short trip to England,
and quite looking forward to spending a few restful days, meet new
friends, see Brighton Beach, that sort of thing. So here I was, having
to drink myself silly (not that that takes all that much drink, really)
on my FIRST evening, on Irish coffee and assorted wines. In my
desperation, I shoved two "Verrath Went To A Convention And All We Got
Was A Lousy T-Shirt" T-Shirts at my evil-minded hosts. In answer to
which they made me eat pancakes with maple syrup and bacon (Aside:
which was delicious, actually - surprisingly! - but don't tell them I
My point? Well, um. Setting the mood for what is to come? Of course I had little choice but to succumb to their evildoing when they 'persuaded' me that we had to have a collaboration to show as proof that this whole thing had really happened...
Lariel tells what really happened...
Verrath and I were having a lovely day out in Brighton, walking around the pier chewing on sticks of rock when we noticed someone going through the trash cans round the side of the Jellied Eels & Shellfish stall. Verrath of course was upset by this. "Gott im Himmel, is that not the famous bard Kamouraskan?" I nodded sadly in reply - such a terrible waste of talent - and dragged her round the back of the stall before he saw us. Too late. He cast aside the fish head he was sucking on, and came bounding over. "Are you bards? Can we write a story together? Can we? Huh? Huh??" In sheer desperation - and to lose the smell of fish that was following him around - we dragged him to a coffee house and made him put on a "Verrath Went To A Convention And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt" T-shirt. We filled him up with tea and fudge, and gave him a pencil to scribble with. We should've known better, really...
Gabrielle unrolled the page and continued reading out loud.
"... and I'm really worried about my baby. Your cousin saw her on the battlefield the other day and she looked ever so pale. I just know she's not eating properly. You'd think that after conquering Thrace, she'd have more time to write, but no! I haven't heard from her in months now. You know how much she looks up to you. We believe she needs a seaport, so they'll probably be rampaging your way soon. At least she'll be getting some fresh air. But can you have a word with her? And make sure she wraps up warm with that sea breeze...
Your loving daughter - Laetitia
Gabrielle rolled up the scroll and took off her reading spectacles, settling them carefully onto the dining table in front of her. She passed the scroll to Xena sitting across the table, who took it with a smile and then used it to scratch her back.
"Which one was that again?" Xena asked.
"That's Laetitia. She's worried about Alma the Awful again," Gabrielle explained, patiently.
"Alma the Awful?"
"Laetitia's youngest daughter."
"And whose grandchild is she, mine or yours?" Xena asked, throwing the scroll back to Gabrielle before picking up her napkin from the table and tying it around her neck. She pulled the sugar bowl towards her, and started fiddling with the cubes, much to her companion's annoyance.
Gabrielle pulled the bowl away from her with barely controlled irritation, but also reached up to brush an errant gray strand of hair from her partner's eyes. "She's conquering Greece. Whose side of the family do you think she's from?"
"So Laetitia's my daughter, then?"
"Yes. She was born after we had that argument, remember? And you went off with the Spartans..."
"Which argument was that? The one where I dragged you behind the horse?" Xena looked about the Corinthian Centre for Graceful Aging's cafeteria.
Gabrielle ground her teeth.
"You can't get pregnant from that," Xena added querulously.
Gabrielle muttered under her breath. "I don't know. You've gotten pregnant from just about everything else."
"You're still mad at me for that, aren't you?" Xena continued blithely. "I can tell. Next you'll bring up that Chakram toss thing again."
"TOSS?" Gabrielle's eyes bulged. "Did you say, TOSS???"
Xena seemed about to respond when fortunately they were interrupted by the orderly as he cautiously approached their table, carefully balancing two bowls. He set their lunchtime soup in front of them and slipped gratefully away.
"Chicken noodle? I didn't order this," Xena hissed.
"Yes, you did," Gabrielle said benignly as she readjusted her crocheted shawl around her shoulders and picked up her spoon. "That's exactly what you ordered."
"You always say that," muttered Xena between slurps. "You know the noodles get stuck in my teeth."
"Is that why you aren't wearing them? Where are they, anyway?" asked Gabrielle, turning to her own bowl.
A blonde elderly woman doddered passed them, her gaze fixed inward. She appeared to be waiting for someone or something to speak, and had a beatific smile on her face as she hobbled her way over towards the large bay windows that looked out onto the sea. Xena smiled wickedly, paused to check that Gabrielle was concentrating on her food, and then whispered sibilantly to the woman, "The light! Go towards the light!"
The woman paused for an instant, a rapt look spreading on her face, before turning to head for the fireplace with new purpose in her shaky steps. Xena cackled for a moment, then dipped her spoon again. She glanced up, to find Gabrielle's eyes boring into her, a look of suspicion creasing the former bard's face.
"What were we talking about again?" Xena nonchalantly finished her soup and searched around for the main course.
"Eve? Eve's coming?" The elderly warrior perked up.
"No," Gabrielle glared darkly, "Eve is NOT coming here."
"You know, ever since you got in touch with your dark side, you and Eve have just not been getting along." Xena casually pulled over the sugar bowl, and rummaged through its contents before dropping a cube into Gabrielle's teacup.
Gabrielle exploded. "She's a flake! Trying to get me to go on one of those fancy fad holy diets. Sitting up a pillar on a mountain top not eating for three months. Can you imagine? Me! Not eating! And that's the only way to purify myself? I mean... ARGGGGH!
"Yeah, as if three months would do it."
Gabrielle glared at her. "I think I'm getting one of of those headaches..." She gingerly touched her Chakram scar.
Xena threw up her hands. "I knew it! I KNEW you'd bring that up again!"
Suddenly, there was a strong smell of burning flesh. Several orderlies dashed past them to the fireplace.
"What's going on?" Gabrielle asked an attendant as he rushed by with a jugful of water.
"Oh, it's just Najara again," the harried man explained, glancing over to where the still smoking woman was gabbling into the air. "You know, this is the fifth time this week. The Djinn must be putting all these silly ideas into her head..."
"The Djinn, eh?" Gabrielle shot a glare over at Xena, who studiously ignored her while busily building a fortress out of the sugar cubes. "It was just one night! A long, long time ago! We were going through that bad patch..." Xena made a little 'huh' sound, and started on the ramparts. "One lousy night!!"
Seemingly absorbed in her task, Xena said, "More bowls. I need a buffer zone."
Gabrielle sighed."Fine. Be that way.. You do know that Salmoneus Jr. charges two dinars for ten of those things?"
"Little rip-off-artist. We wouldn't have that double bed if I hadn't beaten the crap out of him."
"What do we have to do to him to get two singles?"
Xena stopped what she was doing. "Two singles? But what about our Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday nights?"
Gabrielle glanced airily about her. "You're not as limber as you used to be, you know."
Outraged, Xena leapt to her feet, "I'll show you who's limber!" She assumed the position (right foot first) and to the shock of the other residents, gave her battle yell before attempting to flip. She ended up face down on top of the sugar fort.
Gabrielle helped her up, straightened her out and popped her bones before settling her back into her chair.
Confused, Xena glared about furiously. "What happened? Who did that? It was the Persians again, wasn't it, Gab?"
"Yes, dear. The Persians."
Salmoneus Jr. was over in an instant, eyeing the pile of crushed sugar with a mercenary gleam in his eye. "That'll be fifteen dinars, ladies."
Xena drew herself up to her full hunched height of 5'3" and said, "How about I take it outta that little change pouch you have for a heart? We're on a pension, you know!"
Salmoneus Jr.'s eyes widened, and he cautiously retreated one step.
"Add it to the tab," Gabrielle said quietly behind Xena's back and waved him away.
Attracted by the noise and the spectacular sight of an elderly Xena flipping, an elegant blonde came gliding over. She positively beamed with goodness. "I see you got a letter this morning?" she asked hopefully.
Gabrielle's left cheek twitched. "No, Callisto, it's NOT from Eve!"
"Eve's coming?" Xena brightened until she noticed Callisto's hand reaching for the scroll. "YOU! You get the Tartarus away! I have custody. Remember? CUSTODY!"
"But I would never do anything to hurt you or Eve. I love you, Xena," Callisto said sincerely. "Oh yeah, you too Gabrielle."
At the sweet, gentle smile both Gabrielle and Xena shuddered. The former bloodthirsty warlord was carefully escorted back to her table with fervent apologies to the two seated women. Xena muttered to Gabrielle, "Sometimes, you just gotta miss the old Callisto."
Gabrielle nodded and began inspecting the second course.
"So is anyone coming to visit us this week?" Xena started sucking on a crusty bread roll.
"Oh, that's disgusting, Xena, where are your teeth?" She grabbed the roll and started cutting it up into little pieces for the warrior.
"You mean I'm not wearing them?" Xena touched the bridge of her nose.
"Those are your glasses, Xena. And no, Eve isn't coming this weekend. She's still not over her last visit. She says it'll take another three months of pillarfasting before she purges herself of the 'Evil' of her big bingo win."
"Bingo?" Xena pulled a card from her pack and started filling in her numbers. "Oooh, is it 8 pm already?"
Gabrielle sighed. "No, it's Sunday, dear. Bingo is on Friday. We're waiting for the children to come, remember?"
"That's what I'd like to know," Gabrielle said darkly, attacking her fish furiously. "Why does Ares keep sending that 20 dinars every month, anyway?"
Xena tried to look innocent. "We came to an agreement."
Gabrielle was about to press the matter when a small bone caught in her throat and she began to cough and choke. Xena rose unsteadily to her feet and shouted across the room, "Alti, you hag! Leave her alone, it's me you want!"
Gabrielle managed to regain control and dragged her partner back to her seat. "No, Xena, it's not Alti. She can't choke me with the power of her mind anymore. Though she does keep stealing your Bingo cards."
"Bingo! House!!" Xena yelled, waving her card around.
Gabrielle dropped her head. "No, Xena, we're playing Bingo this Friday eve..."
"Eve? Eve's coming?"
Finally giving in to her exasperation, Gab exploded. "No, Xena, Eve's not coming, because she's DEAD!"
"Eve's dead? You said she was on a pillar!"
"Well, she fell off it."
Xena gasped. "My baby is dead?"
Gabrielle hung her head and sighed. "No, she's not dead, Xena, I only said that because you're driving me crazy."
Xena looked at the smaller woman wistfully. "You know, you used to be so nice... what happened?"
"What happened? WHAT HAPPENED!!!" The bard's finger was wagging and pointing directly at the former Destroyer of Nations, a prelude to building herself up to full rant mode. Xena gulped, and tried to take cover behind her steamed fish, but before the verbal onslaught could begin, an orderly rushed over.
"Miss Gabrielle. Do you need some medication?"
The retired bard turned on the man. "NO! I need separate beds. In separate rooms. In separate furkin' countries!"
Xena smiled brightly at the attendant, before patting the distraught bard's hand. "Ignore her, she always says that. She can't resist me, really."
"Well, you did stalk me for long enough."
Gabrielle coloured slightly. "I've told you before, it wasn't stalking..."
"Miss Gabrielle..." the orderly interrupted, "... you still share a room with her. Take the pills. Anyway," he continued, "you're booked out for the day, why are you still here?"
"Booked out?" Gabrielle looked to her partner for confirmation.
A gnarled hand shot out and grabbed the orderly's collar. "Thank you." Xena growled, twisting it slightly until he gasped. "I guess that's it for my surprise." She turned to Gabrielle. "If you must know, I told the kids not to come by today. I got us a cart... I thought the seashore...?"
"And to cover this up you decided to be especially annoying?"
"It's another skill."
"Yes, it is." Gabrielle acknowledged, mollified.
The orderly was released and hurriedly dropped a few tablets in front of Gabrielle before escaping. Xena glared at the retreating white-covered back. "Why do they never offer me pills?" she mused.
Gabrielle raised herself up. "There now dear, don't get yourself all worked up. You can't blame them. You did sack the village the last time they got your dosage wrong." The formerly blonde bard slipped her partner a small white pill, and the two smiled conspiratorially.
"Do you want dessert before we go?"
"Apple pie isn't as much fun when you can't find your teeth. Unless you had something else in mind?"
Gabrielle grinned, picked up her warrior's hand and helped her out of her seat.
"I still say you can't resist me," Xena stated smugly.
"We'll have to see then, won't we?"
"You might get bored one of these days. Now that I'm old."
Gabrielle looked back at the cringing attendants, a still damp Najara and a fervently praying Callisto behind them. "Possibly, but not today. Anyway, I thought you said you liked this timeline?"
"Beats being dead."
"Well it will if you wear a certain top to the beach today."
"Xena. People do not want to see and old lady wearing an Amazon bikini"
"This one does. And if anybody objects..." and she reached behind her and drew her cane from its scabbard. For a moment, she stood taller and the rheumy eyes cleared and flashed.
"My hero,"Gabrielle smiled, and took her partner's hand.
The two were making their way towards the door when they were passed by an old man in a toga, hobbling on two sticks. With a swift movement which belied her many, many years, Xena kicked out his canes from under him. He fell with a clatter, landing with his thin old butt stuck in the air.
"Crucify me, wouldja?" she crowed.
"Oh, Xena look - your teeth!" Gabrielle pointed to Caesar, who had a pair of choppers attached to his bony old rear.
"Sometimes I think they have a mind of their own," Xena replied, and popped them back into her mouth.
Revolted, Gabrielle closed her eyes. "Oh, that's disgusting. I can't believe you did that. You know he has that... problem... I hope you don't think I'm kissing you now."
"Aww, whatever, you'll be kissing me sooner or later..." The aging warrior waggled her eyebrows.
Xena nodded and flashed her partner a toothy grin (now that she could). "Remember that double bed."
"You mean the one where you spread all those nutbread crumbs? You know I'm not getting in there until you clean it properly."
And as the afternoon sun started to set peacefully above the Corinthian Centre for Graceful Aging, a once-great warrior and her still talkative bard walked sedately towards the waiting cart.
As they disapeared from view, a thumping noise could be heard from the direction of the carriage, followed by a resounding crash and an outraged whinny. "Oh, so you wanna be that way, do ya? You just wait till I get to my feet and then I'll-"
"Xena, would you just sit IN the carriage, please?"
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