by Joseph Anderson

Xena and Gabrielle belong to Renaissance Pictures and King Features. No copyright infriingement is intended with this fanfic, which may not be sold and must contain all notices of copyright.

Written after Xena had Eve and before the 25-year deep freeze on the show.

"Iím telling you thatís her!"

"What would somebody like that be doing here? Come on."

The first speaker, a teenager with dark curly hair, answered. "Whatís she doing here? Oh, getting something to eat. Maybe take a dump later. How bout that?"

His friend who was slightly older said, "Well,..but it still doesnít mean itís her."

"I listen to bards. They all agree what she looks like; the leathers, the blue eyes.. And sheís got the trademark weapon. Itís her!'

"So go introduce yourself, why donít you?" his companion said sarcastically.

Sitting alone at a table, the warrior grimaced as she saw those village boys sneaking peeks at her and whisper to each other. She raised her hand and the innkeeper brought her another cup of wine. She hoped they werenít gonna try anything with her to prove something.

"You!" a coarse loud voice said from the door.

She sighed and looked over, "You talking to me? Oh, hello Alkanor." She was speaking to a big warrior in greasy black leathers and bristling with weapons.

'My army deserted me after those lies you spread about me."

"Alkanor, I never said anything about you. You arenít worth my time. Donít blame me if the word got around after Lemnos."

'Lying bitch!"

"You werenít worth killing, before. I might just change my mind about that." Her voice had gotten cold and deadly as she stood up. The big man suddenly didnít look so sure of himself.

The two village boys who had been watching her were thunderstruck at what they were witnessing. "Thatís the warlord Alkanor!" the one who had been skeptical whispered urgently to his friend, who nodded.

The big man heard them. "Thatís right. Whatís it to you?"

"Nothing, we didnít mean anything!" the one who had spoken hurriedly explained.

Alkanor was remembering why he had run away before. When he had some distance he got braver and wanted to face her. Now he was cursing himself for stupidity. He saw a way out though. He could go after these boys instead. The story wouldnít be that he had backed down but that he had killed some men. He could even make it sound like she had set men on him. He said to the warrior, "Iíll deal with you later." He began advancing on the boys who looked ready to piss themselves.

The warrior saw what he was doing. "Youíll deal with me NOW."

Alkanor stopped and looked at her. "Bitch!" he cursed and reached for his sword. He stopped before it was even unsheathed. Looking down he saw two blades with curving handguards sticking from his chest. "No..." he said pitifully, then fell with a crash.

The warrior bent down to retrieve the matched sais. The village boys gingerly approached her. She wiped the octagonal blades off and replaced them in the boot sheaths.

"Youíre Gabrielle of Thebes! You have to be!" It was the teen who had recognized her originally.

The other said in a shocked tone, "He wouldíve killed us! He really would've killed us!"

The warrior ran a hand through her blonde hair and looked up at them. Both were considerably taller than she was. "Yeah, Iím Gabrielle. And, yes, I imagine heíd have killed you." She looked down at the corpse, trying to feel something. She knew she used to feel things like this strongly but that seemed like a thousand years ago. "Try to watch what you say from now on," she said tiredly. She tossed coins on the table for her meal and wine, paused and added a few more. "Bury him," she said, indicating the corpse. Then she walked out of the tavern

She was near the stable when one of the teenagers caught up to her again. She whirled around and angrily demanded, "What? What? I killed someone. Wasnít that enough of a show for you?"

The boy stopped. "Iím sorry," he said in a hurt tone. He turned to walk away but a callused hand caught his arm.

"No, Iím sorry. I shouldnít have said that. Did you want something?"

He eagerly said, "I just wanted to tell you how much I admire you! Whenever bards come through I always ask for stories about you." The warrior looked amused. "Like when you killed Draco." She frowned and looked away. He hurried on with what he wanted to say. "I want to be a bard myself. Is it all right if I tell about what you just did?"

The warrior looked back at him, "Youíre a bard?" He nodded. "Sure, go ahead and use it. What bards do you like?"

He couldnít believe she was actually talking to him about this. He answered, "The greats, you know. Homer, Hesiod, Sophocles. Don't laugh but I like the Bard of Poteidaia. Sheís pretty uneven, I know..and she goes over the top...but sometimes I really like that. Funny you having the same name."

The blonde blue-eyed woman got a crooked smile. "Yeah, that is funny. Whatever happened to her?" She muttered, "Uneven..."

It was a rhetorical question but the young man explained, "She and Xena disappeared. Nobody knows what happened but Iíll bet they were killed... the bard and the warrior princess dying in a blaze of glory! Helping Hercules! Together forever!" His face reddened at getting carried away.

The warrior got a faraway look as she said, "That's what you'd think...but it could be something simple. One of 'em having a baby... Xena, say... and settling down. "

The boy said, "Xena? Then what would Gabrielle of Poteidaia do? I know; she gave her life so Xena and her child would be safe. Dying in Xenaís arms." He was chewing on it for story possibilities.

The blonde warrior smiled sadly. "Yeah, maybe that, or maybe she just moved on when it was clear Xena and her baby were safe. She wasn't a simple village girl anymore. Couldíve stayed in Poteidaia if she just wanted to change diapers."

"You mean not even friends?" the young man asked, not liking the direction of this plotline. "After all theyíd been through? They just drift apart?"

The warrior said defensively, "Well, they could see each other every few years at Solstice when their schedules match up."

"Thatís a terrible ending!" the boy said decisively then looked nervous as he remembered whom he was speaking to.

The famous warrior smiled at him. "Yeah, youíre right. Not something the Bard of Poteidaia would put in a scroll, that's for sure. Make up a better one. Iíd like to hear it myself. "

The boy's eyes lit up. "Really?"

"Yeah, really," the small blonde woman answered. "There's nothing better than a sad sweet story".

"What's sad and sweet about that?" the teen asked but didn't receive an answer from the warrior who had turned and resumed her course for the stable.