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Synchronization Between Friends
by The Lurkers, Maddog and Rastro
All the usual stuff. We don't own these characters, we're just borrowing them for a short while. And it's not our fault, we have weird brains and are short on chocolate right now. Any and all donations gratefully accepted by Maddog (firstname.lastname@example.org) who promises she will forward them on to Rastro. (Ha! Like I believe that? - R.) Enjoy!
Editor's Note: This story contains...material (bad pun) of a feminine nature.
Gabrielle woke up when the birds began heralding their morning search for food with loud chirps. She and Xena were heading towards Amphipolis to visit with Xena's mother for the festival of Dionysus. The weather had turned slightly cooler last night. Gabrielle wondered if that was why she felt so stiff and headachy this morning. She sat up cautiously and then realized what the problem was. Grabbing her fighting stick she brought it down swiftly right beside the still dozing head of Xena.
With the finely honed reflexes of a warrior princess, Xena snapped upright instantly. Glaring at her younger friend, she demanded, "What? Isn't it a little early to start that game?"
"Game, shmame, this is your fault," Gabrielle declared angrily. "This is what I get for hanging around you so much."
"Gabrielle, what are you complaining about now?" Xena rubbed her eyes and then cast a look towards the sky. It was going to be an overcast day, possibly even rain.
"I'll tell you what I'm complaining about. Something showed up a little early this morning. Something that you got yesterday."
"Oh," Xena nodded, comprehending the reference. "Well, so what if your friend has shown up a little early?"
"So what? And why do people call it your friend? I mean, if I had a friend that showed up uninvited and caused a big mess and lots of inconvenience, I'd get rid of them."
"Would you now?" Xena replied, arching an eyebrow.
"You know what I mean," the younger woman replied, twirling her stick with agitation. It's end coming close to Xena's head. "I just had this friend visit. It shouldn't have shown up for another eight or nine days. "
"And how is this my fault?"
"Everybody knows that women living in close proximity to each will synchronize their... friends."
"They do?" Xena asked with genuine curiosity. She had rarely spent long periods of time around another female since she was a child.
"Yes, they do," Gabrielle snarled as she started searching through the few bags that they carried. Not finding what she wanted in one she moved on to another. Finally, she had searched through everything the two of them were carrying and there was only one conclusion. "We're out of rags!! Damn it, who used the last ones?!"
"Since you're the only one who uses the rags and you just had your friend visit, that would be you!" retorted the warrior princess as she started looking through the bags herself.
"I thought I had time to get some but nooooooooo, I had to get in synch with you," complained Gabrielle, wondering why she had to deal with this this morning.
"Stop complaining, you can use some of mine," Xena sighed as she finished pawing through the last bag. What she was looking for, however, was not there. "Then again, looks like I'm out too."
"You mean we're entirely out?" Gabrielle squeaked, distress contorting her face as she stared at her friend.
"Yes, Gabrielle, we are totally out of feminine protection," Xena declared. It was going to be a bad day.
Xena was leading Argo with an angrily muttering Gabrielle trailing a few feet to the side. "If we could just find some of that absorbent moss," Xena said, stopping to look on the side of a likely looking tree. Pulling some moss off she studied it intently.
"I am not sticking a wad of absorbent moss anywhere," Gabrielle retorted.
"Oh, come on, it's far more modern than the old rag approach. It was developed by a woman healer especially for today's woman."
"So what are you going to do then?" Xena picked at the moss which shredded into a million pieces before falling to the ground. "We're too far from the sea to find any of those sponges, and anyway, you have to wash and dry them and that takes a least a day." She untied one of the bags from Argo's saddle and started pulling moss off the tree. "Me, I'm sticking with this moss. It's not the good stuff but this is an emergency. Sure you don't want to try it?"
Gabrielle just glared at her. "Do we have any rope?"
"Rope?" Xena made a face.
"My grandmother used to say that you could use a length of rope."
"But wouldn't that chafe?"
Gabrielle considered for a moment, "Actually, I remember my grandmother saying that she quite preferred the rope to rags."
"Was this the same grandmother you told me about that had the nightdress made of chains and the whip?" Xena asked.
"Yeah, that was her," Gabrielle nodded. Then the implication hit her. She shook her head as if discarding a mental image she didn't want to have. "Oh, yeah, well, maybe rope wouldn't be a good idea anyway."
The two women continued walking in silence for a while. Then it started raining. It was a light rain but the temperature began dropping. "This just isn't our day," Xena commented.
"You know who's fault this really is?" Gabrielle asked, pushing wet blonde hair out of her eyes.
The two women locked eyes and declared in unison, "Men!"
"If women ran things there'd be rag and moss dispensers everywhere. Well-stocked ones!" declared Gabrielle.
"Ha!" exclaimed Xena. "Think we'd still be using rags and moss? Bet if Plato or Aristotle or any one of those philosopher types was a woman, they'd have stopped philosophizing years ago and actually used their brains to invent something useful!"
Gabrielle nodded her agreement. "You'd think that someone by now would have realized the size of the potential market! All the women out there clamoring every month for some type of decent feminine hygiene product! If you weren't a hero and I wasn't a sidekick, we could make a fortune!"
"Ladies! Fancy meeting you here! Did I hear something about a fortune?" Salmoneus, entrepreneur, ladies man, eternal optimist, stuck his head out from behind a tree.
"Salmoneus," growled Xena, "what are you doing there?" Not only did she have to put up with rain, cramps, inferior moss and that bloated feeling she got when she thought her leather skirt was about to burst a thong, but somehow that irritating weasel Salmoneus had managed to sneak up on her. Men!
"I'm on my way to the Festival of Dionysus. Always a good place to sell my wares," said Salmoneus, indicating the loaded wagon down the path. It looked to be full of wine barrels. "About that fortune -" he began.
Xena reached out and grabbed the greedy little man by the throat. "No," she snarled, "I meant what are you doing there?" She slammed him into the tree he'd been hiding behind.
"Huh? Oh, call of nature. You know," Salmoneus stammered out. Xena dropped him and stomped off down the path towards the wagon, muttering angrily under her breath.
"Men!" snarled Gabrielle, and followed her.
"What? What did I do?" wailed Salmoneus. "Hey, we've all gotta go sometime!" He started slowly down the path after Gabrielle, then started to hurry as he noticed Xena had climbed into his wagon and was tossing stuff about. "Careful, some of that is breakable!"
Xena just glared at him and continued to search.
"Any luck?" asked Gabrielle.
"No," snarled Xena.
"Try the horse."
"I was going to."
"Girls, girls, I don't understand. What's wrong?" Salmoneus grinned his best-used camel salesman grin and looked expectantly at the two angry women.
"We're sloughing," Gabrielle declared glaring at the annoying man in front of her. Not that Salmoneus was any more irritating than most men but since all men were so irritating they should be bludgeoned to death with an old, rotting pomegranate, he was very annoying.
"Sloughing?" Salmoneus narrowed his eyes and tried to figure out what that meant.
"And we're really irritable about it," Xena interjected as she dumped the bags that Salmoneus' horse was carrying on the ground and started poking objects with her toe.
"Let's see," Salmoneus thought out loud, "You're both very irritable and you're sloughing, is that right?" His features contorted into a look of vague disgust. "Ooooouw, don't tell me these things, will you? I don't want to know."
"Typical," Xena and Gabrielle glared at him as they continued their search for some decent feminine hygiene products. They wished that Tamponia, goddess of feminine hygiene would grant them some relief. If not, maybe they would just have to take out their frustrations on the nearest man.
Luckily for Salmoneus, being a pack-rat was finally going to pay off. He'd live to see the morning.
"Hey, Xena," said Gabrielle, "Rags!" She held up her prize gleefully. "Hey Salmoneus, what are these for?" She showed him the strips of leather she'd also found in the bottom of the bag.
"Hmm? Oh, I think they were for a slingshot or something. But I got the design wrong."
Salmoneus was still grossed out about the 'sloughing'. "Can I go now?"
"No!" said Xena and Gabrielle together.
"Hey Xena, maybe we can use these." Gabrielle showed her friend the leather strips. They were very soft and oddly shaped, a bit like an hourglass with flaps on the side.
"Aha! Moss! And it's the real absorbent type." Xena picked up the bag she'd been looking it and came over to Gabrielle. She took one of the strips. "Hmm. Soft."
"Contoured," agreed Gabrielle.
"Can I pleeeaassee go now?!" whined Salmoneus.
Xena grabbed him as he tried to sneak away. "Come over here and look at this. You're the one who's supposed to be the marketing genius." She thrust the leather and moss into his hands. "Any bright ideas?"
"I told you, I'm not sticking that moss anywhere!" said Gabrielle emphatically, trying to hand Salmoneus the rags. He didn't respond.
"Salmoneus?" Xena shook him gently. "Are you alright?"
"I think he's paralyzed," said Gabrielle. "Let me." She leant close and whispered in his ear.
"Salmoneus, you want to be rich?" He nodded rapidly. "Well, think of all the women in the world. Think of them all needing feminine protection. Think of them needing it every month, every month for years and years and -"
The rags were snatched from her hands. "Okay, how about we take some of this moss and, oh, you don't like the moss, but if I wrap the moss in the rags, like this, then we could take this leather strip and fold the top down and presto, you have a little pocket you can tuck the rag into and if we take some leather thong - give me that bit from that bag - and make some holes like this and then you could tie it on and see, you could even recycle the rags if you like and with this super absorbent moss you can cope with those heavy days, and we could even take these little flaps on the side - hey don't they look like wings? - and you could tie them around your, your..ah, whatever you wear under those little skirts, and you'd get extra protection and confidence for those days when you just have to kick someone in the head or do a back flip off a horse or whatever and do you really think these will sell??" gasped Salmoneus as he held up the finished product.
"Yes!" said Gabrielle, snatching it from his hands and running behind a tree.
"Hey!" exclaimed Xena. She turned back to Salmoneus. "Where's mine?"
"Just a minute, just a minute! How much do you think I can get for these?"
Xena whipped out her sword. "I don't know. But as Gabrielle and I are your test market, we're going to expect a free lifetime supply."
"Okay, okay. Here you go," Salmoneus handed over his second sample to the Warrior Princess who also disappeared behind a tree. He contemplated the suddenly bright future. What to call his new product? How to market it? "Hey girls, what do you think of the name "Salmoneus' Gal Pals"?" Retching noises came from behind the tree. "Okay, how about 'Warrior Princess Protection'?"
Salmoneus ducked as the chakram whipped over his head. "Okay, maybe not." Oh well, he thought, wondering if that willow bark tea he had in his pack would make Xena feel any better. Perhaps then she'd endorse his product, and he'd be rich, rich! At last!
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