GENERAL DISCLAIMER: Xena, Gabrielle and associated characters are the property of MCA Universal and Renaissance Pictures, and their writers. All rights are reserved to the legal owners, and no infringement is intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is meant as a piece of fluff, bringing together three identical sets of couples to a Xena Convention. I have never been to a Xena convention nor do I personally know anyone who attends them, so any resemblance to anyone, living, dead, drunk, mildly hyperactive or seriously obsessed is unintentional. I have not set out to deliberately insult or demean anyone in this piece, so my apologies to anyone who may take offence at my attempt at humor.
So, in a nutshell, this is MY Xena Convention and I'll cry if I want to…
THANKS: To Heather, who lets me go out and play in the sandpit while she does grownup Beta stuff. I have burrowed into my sandpit and now have a tunnel to the sandpit next door.
FEEDBACK: I'm always open to comments, preferably nice ones, so let me know what you think at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit my Yahoo Group at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/aurelia_fan/.
© April 2009
* * *
“Annie Banannie…” The soft lilting notes were sung rather wistfully by the stunningly beautiful, raven-haired woman reclining on a deckchair. It was still winter but the sun graced her with its presence, making the weather almost tolerable. Her long legs were exposed to the warmth while her feet remained covered. It was warm but not that warm.
“…she kicks fanny.” Xena completed before her lover came out the back door in a huff. “Yeah?” she said almost lazily.
“You've got to do something about him. He won't stop calling me!”
“You've got three choices. You tell him off, put up with it or I kill him.” Xena didn't bother to move, delivering the ultimatum with her sunglasses on and her eyes closed.
“There's no other choices?” Gabrielle asked hopefully. “Killing Joxer is rather drastic don't you think?”
“To me? No. He's always been a pain in the ass.”
“Yeah, well, you always were quick to judge…” Gabrielle looked at her partner's state of dress. “Aren't you cold?”
“Of course not. If you recall, we survived in less in far cooler conditions than this.” And survival it was but the Gods forbid that she should ever complain. Sometimes her reputation was a real pain in the ass.
“But you don't need to survive now. Ares did us a favor so we should make the most of it.”
“But we are, my dear Gabrielle. I've finally got you where I want you.”
“And where's that?” Gabrielle asked cautiously.
“By my side, my love.” Xena finally turned her head to look at Gabrielle, removing her sunglasses to show the love in her eyes.
“But it's not quite the same.”
“Oh, I don't know. You look pretty good to me. In fact, you look exactly as I remember you.”
“Even in Mattie's body?”
“Feeling a little insecure?” Xena smiled. She looked Gabrielle up and down and, despite the little extra weight she was carrying, Gabrielle was still as appealing today as she had been all those years ago. If she had been truthful, she knew that Annie hadn't taken care of her body as she should have either. “Yes, even in Mattie's body, though I'm glad you changed the hair color. You are gorgeous, Gabrielle. Didn't I say I would love you to my dying day?”
“But this is beyond that dying day, Xena.”
“All right, I amend it to ‘my dying day and beyond'. Happy now?” Every once in a while Gabrielle had these moments of doubt but after a little sweet talk and a kiss or two she came around to Xena's way of thinking.
When Gabrielle began a sentence with ‘you know' Xena knew she was in trouble.
“The Xena Convention…”
“You know how I feel about that.” So far she had been able to divert Gabrielle from her wish to attend but the bard was, if nothing else, persistent.
“But just once…”
“Gabrriieeellleee,” Xena replied, letting her voice rumble in her chest to show her displeasure.
Xena looked into those pale eyes and knew she would do anything to keep the love in them focused directly on her. “Awwwwww, Son of a Bacchae!!!!” Before she said something she would regret she turned around and replaced her sunglasses, reclining on the deckchair in the hope of ending the conversation. But the silence was deafening. She sighed in defeat. “When is it?”
“Three months away. You mean we're going?”
“On one condition… two conditions. That I never hear of it again and no dressing up. We go as Mattie and Annie. Deal?”
“Deal.” Gabrielle bounced happily over to Xena, planting a kiss on her cheek. “Thank you.”
“Hmmm.” Xena hated crowds and this one would be no different. She only hoped that she didn't react too badly to all the pushing and shoving. “I know I'm going to regret this…”
* * *
“Why I let you talk me into this I'll never know.” The pushing and shoving had started early and Xena was already sick of it.
Registration the day before had been slow and tiring and she had been just short of using the pinch on the woman standing behind them in the line. The insistent “Come on, it's you isn't it?” and “How's the kids?” had driven her to distraction and it was only Gabrielle's pleading eyes that had kept her in that line. Now it was Saturday. Two more days. Surely she could survive two more days.
“Because you love me,” Gabrielle said sweetly, drawing Xena out of her horrifying memory. Nope, they were still there. They were no longer in the registration line but in another line waiting for the morning session to start.
“Hey!” A female voice cut through the din.
Xena looked around, wondering who the woman was calling. She seemed to be looking directly at her, forcing Xena to raise a finger and point at her chest. “Me?” she mouthed.
“That is one hell of a disguise, woman!”
Xena made a move towards her. “What in Hades is going on?”
“Calm down, Xena.” Gabrielle stepped in front of her lover, placing her hand on Xena's well-endowed chest. “I think it's supposed to be a compliment.”
The short, frumpy-looking woman made her way through the milling crowd to stand a few feet away. “Your face is a real piece of work. You must give me the name of your plastic surgeon!”
“A compliment, huh?” Xena reached over her right shoulder clutching for a hilt that wasn't there. “Son-of-a-!!”
“Stop cursing, Xena.”
“If I had my sword right now…”
“You'd probably be arrested for murder. Now just settle down!”
The woman looked perplexed. “What did I say? I just wanted to know who changed your face.”
“Well, it sure as Hades wasn't Ares!” Xena's hand came up to her cheek. “This was the face I was born with… err, died with… err, resurrected with.”
“Ahhh, now I get it. This is a real good joke, Lucy. It sure beats last year.” The woman smiled, thinking she had worked it all out. “Hey, everyone! Xena's here!”
A second woman stepped forward. “Couldn't you at least have worn the costume? Who are you trying to be anyway?”
“The name's Annie–”
“Bannanie! She kick's fanny.” Xena was now surrounded and the crowd was singing to her. “Dangerous with a sword and knife–”
“You got that right,” Xena sneered.
“Learned her skills in that past life.”
“Used right here to protect my wife!” Xena sang loud and clear, her menacing glare forcing the women around her to take a step or two backwards.
“So Annie! Where's your Xena costume?” One yelled out.
“Hey, Mattie!” Xena called out for her lover. “Come here!”
“Wow! A matching pair!”
“Awwww, No BGSB! I was looking forward to seeing Renee's famous abs.”
“Well, you won't see it from me!” Gabrielle was now having second thoughts about venturing into in the world of Xenadom.
“Can I have our picture taken with you two?” Before she had finished asking the question the woman insinuated herself in between the two of them, wrapping her arms around their waists and pulling them in.
Xena looked around stunned as the flash went off in her face. Her hand came up behind the woman to find Gabrielle's arm and her fingers dug into her lover's skin.
“Owww!” Gabrielle backed away. “What was that for?”
“Sorry?” Xena pleaded innocently. “Sorry everyone we've got to go.” Before anyone had a chance to speak, Xena placed her hand on Gabrielle's back and steered towards the bathroom. “May I have a word with you?”
* * *
The furor caused by the arrival of Annie and Mattie slowly settled down, leaving the crowd to wait impatiently for the morning's session to begin.
“Oh wow! Look at that!”
Through the front door strode Xena and Gabrielle in full armor and naked abs.
“Now that's more like it!” One convention-goer muttered to her companion.
“This is great! It's like all my Christmases have come at once!”
Cool blue eyes scanned the crowd of women packed into the foyer, as if looking for possible threats to her.
The woman who owned those eyes turned to face the call. There was a blinding flash and her forearm rose to shield her eyes from the brightness.
“What was that?” Gabrielle looked at her partner for an answer.
“I don't know,” Xena replied. “There must be a shamaness here.”
“I just wanted a picture. See?” The fan held up her camera.
“We must find the warlord who brought us here.” Xena announced
“Ooh, we're getting a show as well. This is the best Convention yet!”
The crowd stepped back to give the two players space, anxiously awaiting what would happen next.
“What are you looking at?” Xena was being stared at by about a hundred sets of eyes and she didn't like it.
“Nothing,” someone said, but that didn't stop the staring.
“What?” Now Xena was getting seriously pissed.
“Can you give us a song?” A lone voice asked from the back.
“Oh, yeah!” “Please?” “A song?” “Great.” The requests were numerous and pleading.
“I don't sing.”
“Sure you do, Lucy. Please? I couldn't afford the tickets for the concert so couldn't you give us just one song?”
“Who's Lucy? We're here to talk to the leader of your tribe.”
“Leader? Do you mean Rob Tapert?” One slim young woman asked from the front row.
“Who is this Rob Tapert?”
“For one thing he's your husband. You have three kids.” The woman was prepared to play the game.
“Husband?” Xena looked nervously at Gabrielle. “I don't know who they're talking about, Gabrielle.”
“You have a husband… and kids?”
“I swear on Ares' head Gabrielle that I have no husband or children. They lie.”
“I've got to tell you this is one hell of a show,” a middle-aged Xena-lover whispered to her partner.
“They can't all be wrong, Xena.” Gabrielle took a step backwards to put some space between the two of them.
“I'm telling you that I have no husband. I only have you.”
“Awwww! I think I'm going to cry.”
Xena turned her head to the small woman who uttered the words giving her an intense stare. She was trying to placate Gabrielle and someone was making comments.
“There you are! Since you won't talk to me on the phone, I'm trying the direct approach.”
“It's Joxer! Wow!” “Will you look at that!” “Now if only Aphrodite turned up in that pink number...”
“What do you want?” Xena stared stonily at the man addressing Gabrielle.
“Oh, hi Xena! How's Annie?”
“Annie who? Who are you little man?” Xena looked imperiously down her nose at him.
“It's Joxer, Xena,” Gabrielle whispered aside. “Don't you remember him?”
“You may have been eating pizza or sleeping when those geeks showed the pictures.”
“Well, it was boring.”
“Boring? Me? Now wait just one minute!” Harry took a step forward but then thought better of it and stepped back. “Cut the games you two! I need to talk to you, Mattie.”
“You have nothing to say that she wants to hear, Jixmo.”
“That's Joxer. We have a marriage to sort out.”
“Marriage?” Xena's eyes widened. “You're married to… to… him??!!!?”
“I have no idea what's he's talking about.” Gabrielle looked the man up and down and cringed.
“Of course, she is!”
“When did that happen?”
“Just after the ‘past lives' sessions and Ares butted in.” Harry explained.
“Ares?? Where??” Xena's hand reached for the sword hanging on her back, pulling it out with lightning speed. Her eyes swept the gathered crowd looking for her arch-nemesis.
“Not here! This is a while ago. Now stop all this play-acting, Annie. It's not going to work.” Harry pleaded.
The sword tip moved to land on Harry's chest, the tip digging through the shirt and into his skin. “Listen to me, Jerry, Jimbo, Jinx… whoever you are. She… is… not… yours.” Xena's voice dropped to a deadly whisper. “You got me?”
The cold metal dug in with each word she said, making it very clear to Harry that Mattie was not going to come back easily. The adrenaline surge sent him off to the bathroom to pee. “Be right back.”
* * *
“Do you still think this is a good idea?” Annie perched her ass on the long bench housing the wash basins.
“All right, I have to admit that it hasn't started well,” Mattie's voice carried from one of the cubicles.
There was a squeak as one of the cubicle doors opened and a fan came out. Annie just glared at her, forcing the woman to nimbly wash her hands and scamper out of the bathroom.
“Not well?” Annie returned her attention to the closed cubicle door. “If one more person comes up to me and asks me to sing or ‘how's the kids' I may just do something very Xena-ish.”
“Ah ah! You were the one who wanted us to come as Annie and Mattie.”
“Yeah, but that little wimp Annie won't get us out of this.” The outside door opened. “What do you want?” Annie snapped, making the prospective bathroom user do an about-turn and rush out the door.
“What was that?”
“Nothing.” Annie said absently. “Why did you really want to come?”
“I told you…”
“Yeah, you told me but there's something else, isn't there?”
“What makes you say that?”
“Mattie, are you ever coming out?” Annie sat patiently while Mattie finished what she had to do.
Finally, the cubicle door opened. Mattie straightened her clothes before she stepped toward the wash basin. As she washed her hands, Mattie continued, “I just wanted to go to a Xenacon before we grow old and die, that's all.”
“Uh huh.” But Annie knew better… well, at least Xena knew a whole lot more than Annie ever did. “You were pestering me more than usual this year. What gives?”
“I wanted to see… see… Rob Tapert. Anything wrong with that?”
“Except for the fact that Rob isn't here this morning, then no, there's nothing wrong with that.” Annie thought for a moment. She had studied the timetable earlier in the morning and knew that it was mainly production staff at this morning's session. Why would Mattie be interested in the script writers?
Mattie concentrated on her hand washing and refused to look Annie in the eye. “My mistake,” she said cheerily.
Annie watched her as her lover fastidiously washed her hands. Gabrielle made the occasional mistake but this sounded more like deliberate intent. For some reason Mattie really wanted to come here and she was going to make her wait to find out what that reason was.
“Are you ready to go?” Mattie looked at a sad-looking Annie, knowing exactly what was going on inside. She wanted to get on her bike and go home… right now!
“We're leaving? About time!” Annie vaulted off the bench top.
“No!” Mattie looked at her watch. “The session is about to start.”
“This is going to be soooo boring.”
“Well, if you're going to be a pain about it…” Mattie made a move slowly toward the door in the hope that Annie would follow.
“Please, Gabrielle, don't make me do this.” Annie pleaded. “Look, how about I take you out to lunch afterwards?”
“So you'll let me go in there alone?”
“Noooo. I won't let you go anywhere without me, you know that, but being in a crowded room with a bunch of women acting like teenagers I don't know how long I'll be able to control myself.”
“Fine,” Mattie said tightly as she flung open the door and left. On the other side of the door she muttered, “Of all the stubborn, most infuriating….” In disgust Mattie left the bathroom door and made her way toward the auditorium.
* * *
“I keep telling you, that Joxer person is a nobody. When have I had the time to get a husband, huh? I've been with you every minute since we were, you know…”
Gabrielle did have a point. “Well, it's the same for me.” Xena looked at her lovingly. “If I had been thinking straight, I would have known you were telling the truth.” Her hand came up and caressed Gabrielle's soft cheek. There were wolf whistles aplenty as Xena touched Gabrielle. They had tried to have a private conversation, but even a quiet corner wasn't safe from prying eyes.
“I need to errr, you know, whatever they call it these days.”
“I think it was the showering room, water room, or was it water closet? I don't know. Bathroom?”
“Yes! That's it! I will return.” Gabrielle strode across the room with authority, earning an admiring glance from Xena, as well as drawing a host of whistles, cat calls and names that neither of them had heard before.
Moments later she returned from a different direction and in a shirt and trousers. Xena looked her up and down once, not really liking what she saw. “What happened to your clothes?”
“What? How the Hades did you get out here so quickly?” Mattie looked at Xena and then back in the direction she had just come from. It was when she looked back that she noticed what Annie was wearing. “I thought you told me you wanted to come as Annie, and not dress up like this.” Mattie's hand swept over Xena's new clothes. “I hope you haven't lost the keys to the bike.”
“This is all I have, Gabrielle. Who did you kill to get those?”
“I didn't kill anyone! What's the matter with you?” Mattie looked closer at her lover. “Have you suddenly lost weight?”
“No, but that clothing makes you look fatter.”
“Hey! You're not winning any fans by saying that.”
“Fans? Are you hot?”
“All right, if that's the way you want to play it.” Mattie had always thought that Xena was a beautiful-looking woman, but in the battledress she was absolutely stunning, which made it very hard to stay mad at her. “Are you still going to let me go into the session alone?” Mattie added some sweetness to her voice, hoping against hope that it would sway Annie to come too.
“Is that not why we're here?”
Maybe Annie needed a holiday because she wasn't making much sense at present. First she didn't want to go and now she did. What was next? Jump up on stage and do flips or something? Mattie tried to stop herself even thinking that because the mood Annie was in it was a definite possibility.
“Then let's go.” Mattie grabbed Xena's hand and led her toward the auditorium door.
* * *
Gabrielle entered the bathroom and saw Xena sitting on the bench. She looked twice then looked outside, her gaze returning to her lover sitting there with a lazy smile on her face. “How? Who?” Her finger waved at Xena then at the door then back again.
“Changed your mind, did you?” Annie smiled smugly.
“No. I need to use the… errr…” Gabrielle's finger moved to the cubicle door.
“Toilet?” Annie offered.
“Yes.” Gabrielle didn't say another word but entered a cubicle and closed the door.
“How do you do that?”
“Do what?” Gabrielle's voice had a familiar muffled sound to it.
“You just went. How can you go again?”
“Because I need to.”
“Then maybe you should see a doctor when we get home.” Annie just hoped it wasn't anything serious. She hated to see her lover sick.
“Where did you get those clothes? They sort of… I mean… you… that…”
“Just spit it out!”
“They make you look fatter.”
“Hey! I didn't say anything about your weight! Now you're criticizing mine?”
“No! No! Not at all! It's the clothes that make you look fat.”
“This is because I wouldn't go in, isn't it? I say ‘no' and you go on the attack.” Annie's voice grew deeper as she became more emotional.
“But you didn't say ‘no'.”
“Oh, yes I did. And now you're taking cheap shots at me.”
“Shots! I did not hit you!” Gabrielle must have stood up because there was a loud clatter of a toilet seat sitting the bowl. “How could you say that?”
“Cheap shots, Mattie. Calling me names, teasing me.”
“Oh. Ohhhh!” It took a few moments before the cubicle door opened and Gabrielle stepped out. She brushed her hands over her plush mini skirt and moved toward the door.
“Didn't you forget something?”
“Huh?” She looked at Annie still sitting on the bench.
“Wash your hands, woman!”
“Sheesh!” Annie shook her head as Gabrielle did what she was asked to, not looking once at her while she did so. “All right! You win!” Annie followed Gabrielle out the door to stand on the plush carpet of the lobby.
“Come on, let's get this over with.” Annie dropped her hand to grab Gabrielle's, leading her through the foyer to the auditorium.
* * *
“Wow, those are some costumes! Q seven and eight” The woman on the door took their tickets and tore them in half, before returning the stubs and letting them pass. “You are one lucky bitch,” she said quietly.
“Who?” Xena and Mattie said together, looking over their shoulders at the woman who made the comment.
“Take your pick!” she said and then laughed.
The auditorium was in semi-darkness when they entered.
“Tickets please!” Xena's sword was in her hand by the time the attendant had said ‘please'. She looked nervously at the sword point waving inches from her face. “Err..ahh… tickets… pl… please.”
“Sorry,” Xena muttered as she sheathed her sword. The attendant flinched when she patted the woman's shoulder, so all she could offer was another “Sorry.”
“You have got to do something about that hair trigger of yours.”
“And it's what has kept us alive all these years.”
“Can't argue with you about that.”
“Here you go,” The attendant indicated their seats but didn't wait for a ‘thank you'.
Mattie didn't say anything, instead giving Xena a glare. But the warrior blithely ignored her as she arranged the petals of her battle dress. “That's not going to work.”
“What?” Xena was annoyed. All she needed was five minutes with this guy and they could be on their way. Life hadn't been good for them since Alti reincarnated them. They had been left to their own devices in a time and land that was foreign to them and it was only Xena's cunning that had kept them alive. But hopefully that was about to change. “What's keeping them?”
“Shhhh. There's still more people coming in.” Mattie whispered.
A largish woman seated behind them tapped Xena on the shoulder. “I've got to tell you they are fantastic costumes.” When she saw Xena's face her mouth opened and closed like a fish out of water. “Oh, wow! This is so great! Can you sign this for me?” She handed over her program and rummaged around in her bag for a pen.
Xena held the program between her thumb and forefinger, and when the pen was handed over, she held that in her other hand. Her gaze turned to Mattie who dipped her head so the warrior couldn't see her snicker. Awkwardly she held the pen and made her mark on the booklet, carving a giant X over the front cover. “There,” she said as she handed back the paper and pen.
The fan looked at the big X on the cover and then back at Xena. “Errr, yeah, thanks.”
“That was a bit childish, don't you think?” Mattie asked.
“That was the best I can do with the writing stick.”
“Writing stick? What's got into you today? It's because I forced you into coming to this, isn't it? Are you going to be a pain in the ass all day?”
“A pain… in the ass? Me?” Xena sounded nearly offended.
“Shhhh. It's about to start.” The woman behind them interrupted.
* * *
“Hey Lucy, what are you doing here?”
“E'm meeteng Rob here fer lunch.” Lucy's dazzling smile lit up the room. Her appearance wasn't until that night but Rob wanted to talk to Steven about a new project and there was nothing like combining business with pleasure. “Yer're e bet early, Renee.”
“I just wanted to check the props before I go on.” The sound of cheering and catcalls drew Renee's attention. Considering who was on stage the catcalls were definitely out of place. “What the…?”
“Well Steven's on stage and they're catcalling.”
“Yer're reght. Thet es unusual.” Lucy followed Renee to the backstage area and, sure enough, Steven was seated on a stool with a microphone in his hand. What was different was the dropped-jaw expression on his face.
“You have got to see this!” One of the stagehands uttered. “Look out into the crowd.”
As suggested, Lucy and Renee peeked through the curtain on the side of the stage to see what all the fuss was about. What they saw was beyond belief.
“Holy…,” Renee started.
“…Shet!” Lucy finished.
* * *
The lights had gone out and some man was droning on onstage. Xena took the time for a power nap, knowing very well Gabrielle would prod her when the time was right. Her dreams were mixed, from having Gabrielle in her arms to fighting Callisto one more time. Gods! She missed those days. The present day seemed to have a thing against weapons and it was only pretending to be who she really was that had saved her beloved sword from being confiscated. It was okay to be something called an “act-or” but not a normal citizen. Not that she was ever considered ‘normal'. Far from it.
“Wake up!” Mattie hissed as she jabbed her partner in the ribs.
“Uh??!?” Xena sat up with a start, her hand already on its way to find her sword.
“You fell asleep.”
“Is he still talking?”
“He's answering questions.”
“Good!” Xena stood up and interrupted the questions being asked. “You! Mister bard!”
“Mister bard?” Mattie muttered. “Oh boy.”
Steven Sears looked at the person asking the question and stopped. “Bring up the lights please.” As the light got brighter he could see more clearly who the questioner was. “Ah! Errr. Yes?” He hadn't been aware that Lucy was doing anything special but he would play along.
“I have a complaint.”
“You owe me for a taxi fare and a bottle of champ... chemp... chimp…” Xena turned to Mattie. “What is that stuff?”
“You drink it with bubbles.”
“ Champagne ?” Mattie offered.
“That's it, thank you.” Xena's voice rose in volume to address the man on stage. “ Champagne !”
“A taxi fare?” He couldn't remember owing Lucy money.
“Yeah, after I… we,” she amended, “… defeated Alti.” Xena stepped out into the aisle and was ready to approach him. “You did this to us!”
“What did I do?” Now he was confused.
“You resurrected us and left us to fend for ourselves!” Xena's voice became angry. “Do you know how hard it is to live in this time? They take one look at us and run off!”
“You are a fictional character!” Steven called back.
“Do I look like a fictional character?”
“Well… yes, you do.”
“Well, how about meeting a fictional character up close and personal?”
Xena took one step toward the stage before Mattie called to her. “Annie, what the hell are you doing?”
“Don't worry, Gabrielle. I said I would take care of things and I will. As soon as Mister-what's-his-name here pays his bill and fixes up everything.”
“Sit down! You're making a scene!” Mattie hissed.
“Woooo!” “You go girl!” “She is sooooo hot!” The calls were wide and varied and very, very loud.
“Settle down!” Steven called as the question time seemed to be getting out of control.
“You listen to me, little man.” Xena growled as she stalked toward the stage. “You put us here you get us out of it.”
Suddenly there was a commotion on the other side of the room. “Xena?” A velvet-clad bard stood up looking to and fro, from the person seated next to her to the woman standing threateningly in the aisle.
“Gabrielle?” Xena looked at the woman who had been seated next to her and the woman claiming to be her lover across the room.
“What the hell is going on?” A lone voice called out, drawing nervous chuckles and anxious murmuring from the audience.
“I have no idea,” Steven answered. “Which one of you is Renee?” As he asked the question another Xena stood up. “Lucy?” he asked tentatively.
The women in the crowd erupted into wild clapping and calling, whistles and hooting rising above the din until it was nearly deafening.
Annie had to wait for the yelling to die down before she could answer. “Not me!”
“Who is this Lucy everyone keeps talking about?” Xena asked rhetorically.
“Et's me.” Lucy stepped out from behind the curtain, drawing another series of animated gasps. “End Ren's here elso.” Lucy stepped aside and returned with her hand around Renee's wrist. She studied the two women who claimed to be her, trying to look for some subtle difference between them and, more importantly, a difference to her. Actually, neither of them had claimed to be Lucy. One insisted she was Xena and the other… well, she didn't say who she was, but by the looks of her costume she would guess she was Annie. As far as she was concerned, they were all in cahoots. The chances of it all being a coincidence was just too astronomical to calculate.
“And who are you?” Steven addressed the second, casually-dressed Xena.
“Annie, and over there is Mattie “
“There you are!” Harry stood up from his seat at the back. “You can't sidestep me this time!” He shuffled past the women seated near him. “Sorry… excuse me… coming through.”
Steven looked at Lucy and Renee, who looked equally perplexed. Out of the blue he laughed. “This sure beats last year.”
“Yew get thet right.” It was spooky seeing two identical copies of herself.
“Do you think this is Rob's idea of a joke?” Renee asked.
“E den't thenk sew. E'm sure he wed heve teld me if he wes plenning something leke thet.”
Renee's eyes narrowed as she tried hard to concentrate on what Lucy was saying. Her accent was better when it was limited to one or two words at a time. “Errr, was that a ‘yes' or a ‘no'?”
“Noooo!!!” Lucy said impatiently.
“Why are you living with her? What about me?”
“Jox… Harry, please don't start this now.”
“Listen here, sissy boy!” Xena intervened. “First you were annoying Gabrielle, and now you're sticking your nose into her business.” Xena pointed at Mattie.
“It's my business too!” he yelled. Harry noticed the silence after he spoke. “Sorry. Go back to what you were doing.”
“We are,” said the woman in row R. “Don't mind us.”
“Please! People!” Steven spoke into the microphone.
“Hey, pal!” Annie moved from her seat. “Ever since you switched our spirits, this bozo here won't leave us alone!”
“How about therapy?” Steven offered.
“If you remember, therapy was what got us into this mess to start with!” Mattie argued. “I want you to give us a happily ever after!”
“A… happily ever… after???”
“Yeah, you write these stories with no thought to what happens to us after the show has ended. You did us a favor by putting Xena in Annie's body but you forgot that I'm still married to… to… HIM!” Mattie signaled Harry with her thumb.
“As far as I'm concerned we're married, Mattie,” Annie called across the auditorium. “I love you, piece of paper or not.”
“Awwwwww….” There was a collective expression of sweetness, followed by a spattering of nose blowing.
“Yeah! And I still want my fifty-nine sixty, plus tax!” Not that Xena understood the tax part, but that was what the driver said.
“So how did you pay him?” Annie asked.
“You don't want to know,” Xena mumbled.
“So what are you asking me to do?” Steven inquired.
“Write us a proper ending where Xena and I are married,” Mattie said.
“And we're not wandering around like vagabonds.” Xena added.
“But I thought you liked that life,” Gabrielle asked.
“Back in our time I loved it, especially if it was with you, but its different here. I can't…” She couldn't say it because it would lower her worth in Gabrielle's eyes. Xena always took pride in being able to provide for both of the in all aspects of their life together but here, in this time, it had tested her to the limit. They had survived, sure, but she felt that they deserved more. This was her one and only chance to get to the root of the problem and fix it.
“Does this sound familiar?” Renee whispered to Lucy.
“Et should. Et's one ef Steven's screpts.”
“But, it's so sweet.”
“What am I going to do about this?” Steven said aside.
“You celd wrete theer heppy endings.” Lucy said.
“Errr, yeah.” He thought for a minute. “I suppose I could always write a couple of happy endings. Yeah, I'll do that.”
“Dedn't E jest sey thet?”
“Yes, you did.” Renee patted Lucy's arm in comfort. “But you don't come with subtitles for those who don't understand you.”
“All right! Everyone settle down!” He then addressed the complainants. “If I agree to write what you want will you all keep quiet?”
“Sure.” Mattie readily agreed.
“Yes.” Xena stoically answered, hoping that what she wanted and what he would write would be the same thing.
Mattie and Gabrielle swapped sides of the room and sat down next to their lovers, content to let the rest of the morning pass without interruption from them. Xena and Annie dozed as the question time continued, allowing their partners to nudge them when it was finished. Xena was already on her feet and making her way to the front before Steven had a chance to turn off the microphone. He looked down at the dark shadow.
“I'm just making sure you don't skip out on us,” Xena said firmly, letting him know in no uncertain terms that she would follow him until he delivered.
“Hmmm?” He didn't hear a word she said because he was studying her face intently. It was flawless. There was not one mark, scar or imperfection that touched that beautiful face. If he didn't know better, it was Lucy in the flesh.
“Oh My Ged!” Lucy hunkered down on stage and joined Steven in his perusal of Xena. “Thet es seme fece jeb.”
Xena also looked at the woman on the stage. It was remarkable. “This is a trick of Ares,” she said absently as her keen eyes took in every aspect of Lucy's face. Except for hair color and some sort of color smudged on her face, Lucy could be her twin. “No, more like Ares' joke.”
At that moment Annie joined them and they all stared at one another in amazement. “I…I… don't get it,” Annie exclaimed.
“I den't ether but here et es!”
No one had left the room, instead circling around the various incarnations of Xena waiting to see what would happen next.
“Okay everyone, let's break it up. Nothing to see here!” Steven called.
“You're joking, right?” One fan called.
“Yeah!” “Come on, let us watch!” “Plant one right on her, Xena!” “Oh, yeah, let's see some subtext!” “We want Ephiny!” “Aphrodite, where are you?”
“Get to it, bardman!” Xena growled.
“I can't do it on demand!” Steven countered. But he didn't tell them that sometimes he had to when script changes were asked for.
“So, now what?” Gabrielle's voice sounded disappointed.
“Give me a few days,” he offered.
“And how will we know if you've done it?”
“Oh, you'll know…” he said with a smile on his face.
* * *
True to his word, Steven Sears re-wrote the endings to “Soul Possession” and “Send in the Clones” to include happy endings for the lost characters who, according to them, were so brutally abandoned by him in the first script.
A week later…
Xena and Gabrielle found themselves in Las Vegas and became an instant hit. A new resort opened up with an Ancient Times theme and Xena and Gabrielle became the headline act, allowing Xena to kill and maim to her heart's content… well, pretend to kill and maim to the audience's content. It wasn't quite what she wanted but at least she got to keep her sword.
When she finally got enough money together Xena bought herself a mustang… a 1978 hot red Mustang convertible. It wasn't until after a few weeks of driving the vehicle that someone told her she really needed to get her license.
Mattie and Annie saw Harry no more, instead receiving divorce papers in the mail. After the divorce was final they were married in San Francisco , their wedding attended by Lucy and Renee, and without any interference from the Governor of California. When last seen Annie was back on the deckchair singing a few verses of ‘Annie Bannanie' while Mattie had the want ads open looking for a job for her wife. They now had a mortgage to pay and Mattie had only wished that she had had the foresight to include it in the deal they made with Steven Sears.
Harry finally saw that getting Mattie back wasn't going to happen. While at the post office to mail the divorce papers he literally ran into a solidly-built woman wearing a Gabrielle T-shirt. He wasn't sure what it was that made him suddenly think she was the center of his universe, but she distracted him enough that his letter missed the letterbox.
“Hi, my name is Clea.”
“The name's Jox… errr, Harry.”
A mysterious, very masculine hand picked up the discarded letter and placed it in the mail slot. No one ever knew who the mysterious stranger was, only that his Samaritan act of kindness had contributed to final line of the story.
And they all lived happily ever after.
Xena is still waiting for her fifty-nine sixty… plus tax.
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