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by Lynn M. Price
Copyright 1998 by Lynn M. Price. The characters of Xena, Gabrielle, and Argo are the property of "Xena: Warrior Princess" and Universal/MCA. The rest are mine. This story may not be sold and may be archived only with direct permission of the author. Any archive must carry this entire copyright statement.
Lyrics to the song "In My Life," by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Copyright 1965, Northern Songs Ltd.
The events in this story take place between "Been There, Done That," and "The Dirty Half Dozen."
This work contains mild profanity and scenes of mild violence.
This is a first attempt at fan fiction, and is the first in a series of planned stories.
With thanks to the late, great Mark Twain and his "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" for providing the inspiration needed to complete this piece of fiction.
And a great big "thank you" to all of you who write and read fan fiction. You are the wind beneath my wings...
Date of work: 1/1/98-1/10/98
Xena cleared her throat, a little unsure of where to start. Talking was Gabrielle's forte, and, true to her nature, the bard jumped right in.
"Could you tell us about yourself?" Xena looked at her friend, but thought they might as well start somewhere.
Mariah laughed a little in an effort to dodge the question. "That could take some time. What do you want to know?"
Gabrielle thought for a moment. "How old are you?"
Mariah sat back. "I'm twenty-eight."
Well that didn't get us anywhere, Xena thought, but the plucky bard had another question ready. "Where were you born?"
"Lombard. It's a town outside the city of Chicago," replied Mariah.
Xena and Gabrielle exchanged glances. Lombard? Chicago? Where in Hades' name were *those* places, Xena thought to herself. I *knew* something wasn't right. Just how wrong would it get, she wondered.
Mariah was purposefully being a little vague; not out of spite, but because of the nagging, disquieting thought running through her mind, a thought that slowly seemed to be developing into a reality. And that reality was almost too terrifying for her to even consider. "Where were you two born?" she asked.
"I was born in Potadeia, and Xena's from Amphipolis," Gabrielle answered.
Potadeia? Amphipolis? Where in the hell are those places, thought Mariah. The names had a Mediterranean, almost Greek flavor. Greek...Greek???
Gabrielle's mouth opened, but Mariah had another question ready and quickly asked, "What's the name of the biggest town in this area?"
"Athens," replied Xena. "It's about a week's walk from here."
"Athens. Athens, Greece? And it's a week's walk away?" Realizations dawned upon her.
"Well, of course," said Gabrielle, looking at Xena a little doubtfully.
The young teacher leaned back, exhaling audibly as her suspicions were confirmed. The clothing the two women wore and their reactions to hers, Gabrielle's questions about my scars and the sunglasses, the waterbag...I don't think I'm in Kansas anymore, Toto, she thought ruefully, that famous line from *The Wizard of Oz* running through her head. She looked down at her hands. She was surprised they weren't shaking. They would be soon enough. Be careful for what you wish for, Mariah, her mother had always told her...you might just get it. But Greece...ancient Greece? Why here, of all places? Xena interrupted her thoughts with another question.
"Can you tell us more of what happened when you hit your head?" the warrior asked.
"I think I can, but first I need to ask another question," said Mariah. She took a deep breathe and took the plunge. It was do or die, she thought...crunch time...got to know one way or the other. But how to be sure? Suddenly, inspiration struck--*The Iliad*!! She had taught it often enough. And it was based on an actual event. That would have to be her point of reference. "The city of Troy," she asked, "is it still in existence? Is that war between the Trojans and Greeks still going on or did it finally end?"
"It ended some time ago," said Xena. Mariah's heart sank as her worst suspicion was just confirmed. The time had come for all to be told. Chin up, girl, she told herself. What's 2,000 years between friends?. Hysterical laughter began to bubble up, but she pushed it back under the surface. She got up, and paced back and forth in front of the fire, ignoring the throbbing in her head, the roiling in her stomach. She paced silently for several moments, her sneakers kicking up dust as she phrased her thoughts.
"What I'm going to tell you sounds impossible," she began. "I'm having a hard time believing it myself, but it must be true, it has to be..."
"Mariah," said Gabrielle, but Xena gently waved her silent.
"You were right, Gabrielle, when you said I wasn't from around here. I can't really explain how I got here. It must have been that crack on the head I got when I fell on the ice. I'm from a place thousands of miles away, a place across the seas, a place most travelers have never been to, a place that hasn't even been discovered yet by civilized man. And that's not the worst of it. I'm not only from another place; I'm from another time as well. As near as I can figure, I'm from a time more than 2,000 years in the future. I'm from the twentieth century." There!! Now it's been said, she thought.
There was silence. Gabrielle spoke up, lightly joking, trying to ease the tension which could be cut with a knife. "Mariah, I think you hit your head just a *little* harder than you thought." Xena said nothing. She had feared Mariah's tale would turn out to be something like this. The clues all pointed to it. She mulled over what she had just heard; the implications were staggering.
"Well, do you have a better explanation, Gabrielle, because I sure don't!!" The hysterics rose to the surface. Tears streaming down her face, her breaths coming in gasps, Mariah stormed out of the camp.
"Hey, wait..." said Gabrielle, getting to her feet, but Xena stopped her.
"Let her go, Gabrielle. She's had one shock on top of another. She won't go far. Let her be by herself for awhile. She needs to work through this. And you and I need to talk."
My god, thought Mariah, as she marched down towards the stream. What am I going to do? I'm stuck here! I've got no friends, no family. And my job? Could I even *do* my job here, she thought. Most of what I teach hasn't even been *written* yet. Would they even allow a woman to teach, let alone some stranger? What am I going to do? How will I live? She sat down and held her throbbing head in her hands, the tears streaming down her face. How could this have happened? I crack my head open on some damn ice, and suddenly I'm 2,000 years back in the past, in ancient Greece? It sounds like something out of *Star Trek*! She thought back to when she was a young girl, immersing herself in books like *A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court*, watching television shows like *Dr. Who* and movies like *Somewhere in Time*. She used to dream about traveling to other eras. She always wished something like that could happen to her, but she knew things like that didn't happen in real life. Be careful for what you wish for...well, I got what I wished for all those years ago.
Mariah grappled with her churning emotions as the reality of her situation began to sink in She stood up, walked around, trying to control her shaking hands and her ragged breathing, her head throbbing with every beat of her heart. The Tylenol would wear off soon; she would need to take some more. Tylenol, she thought wildly. Now there's an image--Tylenol in ancient Greece!! Hey!! It's good for what ails you!! After a hard day battling those Trojans, take some Tylenol to sooth that aching head and those sore muscles. Trojans...stop! Don't *even* follow that line of thought. Whoa, you've got to get a grip, girl. Calm down. Deep breaths. Come on...you can do it. If you're stuck here, you better figure out what you're going to do to survive. It's battle-mode time, she thought. You need to learn how to fit in. Eat what they eat, wear what they wear...do whatever it takes, Mariah, she said to herself, you do *whatever* it takes. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Except you're not *in* Rome, are you? Suddenly, a thought struck her. Would her actions here interfere with future events? Oh, that's just GREAT, she thought, momentarily angrily. If I do anything here, I could muck things up down the road! I can't think about that now. And then the truly frightening thought hit her, the one thought she wasn't yet ready to face: what if my cancer comes back again? Her face went white. I'd die, she thought bleakly...that'd be it for me.
She slowly sat down again, burying her head in her hands, sobs racking her body as she allowed the emotions running rampant through her body to get the best of her for now. Cry, she thought. Get it out of your system now, kid. You won't have time for the tears later. You'll be too busy surviving. She knew the time for clearer thinking would come after she exhausted her emotions....
Mariah, however, wasn't the only one puzzling things out. Xena and Gabrielle sat around the fire, discussing this recent turn of events.
"Xena, do you believe her? That's one heck of a story!!"
"She has to be telling the truth, Gabrielle. How else can you explain all the strange things she has? The clothing? Those scars? We know she's not from around here...maybe the gods are involved. You know how Zeus loves to stir things up...or maybe it *was* an accident. I don't really know," Xena said with a sigh as she leaned back. "But think back to all of the strange things that have happened to us. Remember when the Fates altered reality so I could see what my life would have been like if I hadn't followed the sword? Or when I was cursed with madness by the Furies? Or when you, Joxer, and I were caught in that repeating day because of a lover's plea to Cupid? Try to see it from her point of view. It's frustrating when you're the one that's being affected, and no one else seems to be. My bet is she's scared witless."
"So what are we going to do? We can't just leave her here, Xena."
"No, we can't..."
"Could you send her back? You know, give a little crack on the head, knock her out again? If it was a blow on the head that sent her here, what about another whack to send her back? It might work!"
Xena gave her friend a doubtful look. "No, it would probably kill her. She's still suffering from that first head wound. Another hit on the head...no, that's not an option we have, Gabrielle. And it probably wouldn't work. We're going to have to keep an eye on her. We don't know what knowledge of the future she has. If she fell into some warlord's hands, and he managed to get information from her...it could change everything we know."
"What do you mean, Xena?"
"Well, think about it, Gabrielle. You saw how different her clothes were...she's from 2,000 years in the future. And the clothes were just one little thing!! What kind of world did she come from? What does she know? Remember...knowledge is power...and knowledge can turn the tide of battle in an instant! Ten years ago, I would have done *anything* to get the kind of knowledge needed to defeat my enemies!! And knowledge of the future? If I had that kind of knowledge ten years ago, and used it to my advantage, I would've been unstoppable."
Gabrielle looked at her best friend. "Maybe you're right." The young bard thought for a few moments before speaking again. " You know, if we taught her *our* ways, she would fit in better, Xena. Taught her how to dress, how to live off the land, how to defend herself, how to act in a crowd so she wouldn't stand out...she needs to learn how to keep a low profile so she *won't* become a target. That might help her keep her mind occupied, too. And we won't always be here for her; eventually, she'll need to find her own way here, and she's going to need the skills to do that."
Xena thought this over, and nodded her head in agreement. "Sounds good. That's what we'll do. Come on. Let's go find her."
The two women got up and walked along the stream until they found Mariah, sitting on the shoreline, staring out over the water. What thoughts were running through her head, wondered Gabrielle, as she put herself in Mariah's place. How would I deal with it if I were taken from my world? No Lila, no family, none of her Amazon friends, and, worst of all, no Xena...how would I cope? What would I do? How would I react. Probably much the same as Mariah, thought the young bard. Fear, anger, tears...
"Mariah?" The two women sat down on either side of the young teacher. Gabrielle put her hand on the girl's shoulder. "I'm sorry I didn't believe you earlier. It's just that-"
"I know, Gabrielle," Mariah replied, clasping the bard's hand. "I-I'm still having a hard time believing it myself."
"We do have a plan to help you," said Xena. "Now that you're here, you're going to need to learn our ways so you won't stand out. There are some pretty unscrupulous people around here, people who would use your knowledge for their own means, and if word got out about you..." the warrior left the statement unfinished.
Mariah sighed. "Yeah, I guess I would be a pretty tempting target, wouldn't I?" She laughed a little and looked down at her pants and sneakers. "I guess I better start getting with the program by getting some new clothes."
"That's not all," Xena said. "You're going to have to get rid of a lot of your things. Hopefully, you can keep a few small items, but those...what did you call them, sunglasses? You'll have to get rid of those, your footwear, and your clothes. Probably your bag as well."
Xena rose to her feet. "Come on. We better get to work. I bought you some clothes when I went to town. And you could probably use something for the pain in your head," she finished, as she reached down to help up Mariah.
Mariah reached up and grabbed Xena's wrist. "I don't know how to thank the two of you," she began, as Xena hauled her to her feet.
Smiling, Xena said, "The best way you can thank us is to learn, and learn well so you can fit in and have a life for yourself. That's your only hope if you want to make it here, Mariah."
Mariah agreed. What other choice did she have? They headed back to camp.
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