THE ADVENTURES OF GABRIELLE (and some other person)
Part 1 : It's A Dirty Job, But Someone's Got To Do It
by Claire Withercross
Disclaimers: Xena, Gabrielle, and others are copyright MCA /Universal, RenPic.
I disclaim everything about this story.
She came for adventure, excitement, fame and fortune. She hadn't found it yet.
The simple country girl was overwhelmed by the city. She spent most of the time wandering around in a daze, too amazed by the crowds, the noise, the life going on around her.
It was now time to join them.
Job Centre, the sign above the door said. She entered and waited for an hour before being seen.
She approached the desk, sat down and looked at the man sitting on the other side of it. She cleared her throat. He glanced up from his scroll, blinked slowly, then turned his attention back to his scroll.
"Name?" he asked brusquely, his eyes still fixed firmly on the scroll.
"And what do you do?"
"I'm a bard."
He rifled through a box of scrolls. "Hmm. No bards as such, but I've got this." He unrolled a scroll. "Raven haired female warrior seeks sidekick. Must be short, preferably blonde," he looked at Gabrielle with an eyebrow raised.
Gabrielle tugged on her hair. "It's blondish," she said.
"Skills required," continued the man. "Getting kidnapped and rescued?"
"Handy with a fighting staff?"
"I can learn."
"Ability to irritate with constant chatter?"
"I can do irritating," she said brightly with a sickly sweet smile.
"Quite," commented the man, unimpressed. "Able to chronicle heroic deeds?"
"I'm a bard," she reminded him.
"Of course. You sound adequately qualified. I'll arrange an interview."
"Um," Gabrielle smiled shyly. "You said raven haired?"
"Do you have anything in red?"
"Oh well, I guess it'll do," shrugged Gabrielle.
Gabrielle crept cautiously into the inn, pushing the door closed with her back and slowly scanning the interior, partly to let her eyes adjust to the dimness and partly to see if she could see who she was here to meet. She tapped the shoulder of a man sitting at a nearby table.
"-exc-," she squeaked. She cleared her throat. "Excuse me."
"What?" the man turned in her direction and she almost became intoxicated by his breath.
"Er..nothing. Never mind." she turned away to look for someone else.
The man struggled to his feet, knocking his chair and table over, and placed a large, meaty hand on the woman's shoulder. "Don't go," he leered.
Gabrielle looked up, petrified. She suddenly feared he was going to do something, and it wasn't going to be pleasant. She watched perplexed as he spun around and hit the floor.
"You spilt my drink," the woman who appeared behind him said casually to his prostrate form. "Oh, hi," she said to Gabrielle, noticing her for the first time. "Didn't see you there." She pointed at the unconscious form. "Not a friend...or..or..a..."
Gabrielle shook her head.
"...customer," the woman finished.
Gabrielle frowned, then her eyebrows raised in realisation of what the woman was suggesting. "Customer! You think I'm a...a..." she couldn't bring herself to say the word.
"Sorry," said the woman quickly. "What was I thinking. You look nothing like a barmaid." She turned quickly and sat back down.
Gabrielle stared at the woman's back. She noticed the long black hair, the leather, the armour. "Are you Xena?"
The woman turned to look at her, smiled and nodded.
'By the gods, she's beautiful,' thought Gabrielle. "I - uh-" she stammered.
"You must be Gabrielle."
"Yeuuuuuh," croaked Gabrielle. 'Oh gods I've lost the power of speech,' she thought.
Gabrielle managed to sit without making a fool of herself. Xena glanced at a scroll on the table.
"I see you're a bard."
"Uh huh," nodded Gabrielle.
"That's good. That's the most important thing." Xena smiled again. "You never know when a scroll might come in handy," she chuckled. "Oh! would you like a drink?"
Gabrielle shook her head.
"Have you had any experience of being a sidekick before?"
"No," Gabrielle managed to reply.
"Have you ever been kidnapped and had your life threatened?"
"What do you mean, 'not exactly'?"
"No? You mean you've never been kidnapped?"
Gabrielle shook her head.
"Or had your life threatened?"
"Not unless you count my little sister?" Gabrielle asked hopefully.
"No," replied Xena, unimpressed. "What about aimless chatter?"
Xena waited. "Go on then."
"Yes," the warrior answered slowly.
"I haven't got anything prepared."
"You have to prepare your inane ramblings?"
"Yes. I mean no. Not normally. It's just if I knew you were going to want something I could have prepared. Usually in a real situation I wouldn't have to prepare, I can just think of something to talk about."
The warrior sighed.
"Give me a subject," said Gabrielle,
"A subject to talk about."
Xena thought for a moment. "Horses."
"Horses? Okay.....horses....," Gabrielle chewed her lip in concentration. "Horses," she repeated.
"Yes, horses," prompted the warrior.
"Don't know too much about horses, I'm afraid," admitted the bard. "Except they're big. And smell a bit." She chuckled. "Just like a boy I used to know. Only he wasn't as big as a horse. Or as smelly.
"Guess he wasn't much like a horse, then. Except maybe he was about as intelligent as a horse. Couldn't read or write and was only useful for lugging things around. Only we didn't use his droppings on the crops.," she winked and nudged the warrior. The warrior glared at her.
"Yes, well," continued Gabrielle. "That's all I know about horses."
"Okay," said the warrior quickly moving on. "Any experience with a fighting staff?"
"Right. I think that's enough," the warrior concluded.
"Great," beamed the bard. "When do I start?"
"When do I start?"
"Uh, I have other candidates to see. I'll let you know."
Xena watched as Gabrielle made her way despondently out of the tavern.
"What do you think?" asked a voice behind her.
Xena shrugged. "I don't know. A possibility I suppose, but I think I preferred the other one," she glanced down at a scroll to read a name. "Buffy."
"Oh no," came the reply. "She was too.....too...what's the word I'm looking for? Not sidekicky enough."
"Hmm, maybe," agreed Xena. "Nice legs though."
"Oh yeah, nice legs," concurred the voice. "Great legs, but I think Gabrielle has great potential. I could work with her."
"I've got one more to see," said Xena. "Name of Artiphis."
"Okay, I'll be at the bar."
"Oh, Callisto. Be a dear and get me another drink while you're there. Somebody spilt my last one."
"Sure thing, sweety," replied Callisto.
Gabrielle was a bit nervous on her first day at work, but she was confident that she could do really well as a sidekick. She twirled her staff and hit herself on the back of the head.
"Ow," she cried and rubbed the sore spot. "Sorry, I'll get the hang of it."
Xena sighed and rolled her eyes.
"I'm so glad you chose me," said Gabrielle.
"Well, to be honest," said Xena. "You weren't first choice."
"Oh," Gabrielle sounded deflated.
"No. Our first choice decided she didn't want to be a sidekick after all. She wants to be a hero."
"Well, second choice is not too bad."
"Actually you weren't second choice."
"No. She turned out to be man so we had to turn her...I mean him down."
"So was I third choice?"
"Oh yeah," Xena nodded and smiled brightly.
Gabrielle smiled. "Yeah, well, third choice is good."
"Um, what?" snapped Gabrielle.
"We only had three applicants."
Gabrielle took a deep breath, closed her eyes and concentrated. 'I got the job, that's all that matters,' she thought. She swung her staff. Another thought crossed her mind and it slipped from her fingers and clattered on the ground. "What do you mean, 'we'?"
"Didn't I tell you? Callisto, my lover, she's going to be my arch enemy, my nemesis, in the stories you write."
"The stories of my heroic deeds. I thought it would be a good idea to have a regular foe keep cropping up. Oh that reminds me, my friend Julius wants to be in it too."
"I thought I was going to write about the adventures we had?"
"That's right. Me, Xena : Warrior Princess and her trusty sidekick."
"Real adventures, I mean."
"Good gods!" said Xena, shocked. "Real adventures? Don't be silly that's far too dangerous."
Gabrielle fumed. "I wanted this job because I wanted excitement and adventure. Not to stroke your ego by writing imaginary stories."
"The pay's good," said Xena, trying to placate the angry bard.
"I didn't take it for the pay," shouted Gabrielle.
"You get holidays, and the healthcare package is....." Xena fell silent at Gabrielle's menacing stare. "Sorry," she whispered.
"Arghh," cried Gabrielle. "How could I have been so stupid?" She picked up the staff and started thrashing a nearby tree.
Xena squirmed uncomfortably, looking anywhere but at Gabrielle. After a minute or so the bard tired and dropped the staff.
"I want equal billing," the bard said eventually.
"I want equal billing," repeated Gabrielle. "'The Adventures of Xena and Gabrielle'," a faraway look overcame her. "I can see it now. In big letters over the doors of the biggest theatres in the country. Or better still: 'The Adventures of Gabrielle and Xena.'"
"Hey wait a minute!" cried Xena. "I'm the hero."
"It's 'Gabrielle and Xena' or nothing," said Gabrielle firmly.
Xena looked embarrassed. "Uh...um....actually...actually I um...uh."
"The name. I mean Gabrielle it's a bit...."
"Bit, what?" she growled.
"It's a bit of a mouthful, and it sounds a bit foreign. Couldn't you change it to something simpler? Like, Phoebe or something?"
Xena jumped at the bard's angry words. "Maybe shorten it to Gabby?" she suggested weakly.
Gabrielle picked up the staff and hit her with it.
"I'll take that as a no as well, shall I?"
THE END (to be continued....possibly)
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