Convert This Page to Pilot DOC FormatConvert this page to Pilot DOC Format

Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Aunt Hilda, Aunt Zelda and all other characters who have appeared in the syndicated series "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch," together with the names, titles and backstory are the sole copyright property of ABC, Archie Comics and Viacom. Xena, Gabrielle, Argo and all other characters who have appeared in the syndicated series "Xena: Warrior Princess," together with the names, titles and backstory are the sole copyright property of Universal Studios. No copyright infringement was intended in the writing of this fan fiction. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author. This story cannot be sold or used for profit in any way. Copies of this story may be made for private use only and must include all disclaimers and copyright notices.

All works remain the © copyright of the original author. These may not be republished without the author's consent.


Xelda: Warrior Princess?
Or, Xena At Westbridge High

by Erich

Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6

Chapter Three

As Sabrina picked up her purse from the kitchen counter, she turned to her new companions. "Okay, before we go, there's one thing I need to tell you. When we go out and meet other people, you mustn't mention to anyone that I'm a witch--or talk about anything even remotely magic-related, for that matter."

"All right," Xena agreed.

"Aren't you going to ask why not?" Sabrina gasped. "I'd worked out a whole lengthy but comprehensible explanation and was all set to use it."

"If it's all the same to you," Xena sighed, "let's skip it. I've got enough of a good sense about you, I'm prepared to take your word. Plus, Argo likes you."

A whinny emerged from Salem's cat corral.

"Besides," Gabrielle added, "I'm starving, and I'd rather just get to this--Slicery, is it? Odd name for a tavern..."

"Sounds like a rough place," Xena observed, "but I'm sure we can handle it."

"Okay, then," Sabrina replied, slightly disappointed that she wouldn't get to use her discourse. "Off we go--wait!" she yelled. "I just thought of one more thing. It's going to be hard to explain a couple of people your age hanging out with me and my friends--"

"What do you mean, our age?" Gabrielle interrupted.

"No offense meant," Sabrina quickly added, "but I'm a kid and you're clearly--" she paused as she pointed to Xena, trying desperately not to indicate any specific feature, "--adults. The two of you are gonna--well, kinda look out of place."

"So what do you plan to do about it?" asked Xena.

"I guess I'll have to make both of you look younger."

"You've got some sort of youth elixir?" Gabrielle asked in awe.

"No," Sabrina replied, "that sort of stuff's very strictly controlled--practically forbidden, unless you get written permission from Dick Clark or George Hamilton."

By this time, Xena had learned not to question this strange girl's cryptic references. "So," she repeated, "what do you plan to do about it?"

"I'll just cast a simple perception spell," Sabrina explained. "It won't actually make you younger, but it'll make people see you that way. Okay, here we go. 'You come from a land of warriors and queens, but now that you're here, you need to be teens.'"

A flourish of sparkles surrounded Xena and Gabrielle. They looked at each other, then turned to Sabrina. "It didn't work," Gabrielle said, "she looks just like she did before."

"We look just like we did before," Xena corrected.

"Hmm, I guess it doesn't affect your own perceptions--but don't worry, everyone else will see you as being my age," Sabrina said, crossing her fingers. "Okay, now off we go!"

As Sabrina reached into her purse to check her wallet, a small piece of paper suddenly materialized in the bag before her eyes. She picked it up and looked at it. "Ancient Mariner Fashion Boutique," she read aloud. "'We dresseth one of three.' One pair bell-bottom slacks, one blue blouse--" From that point forward, she silently scanned the rest of the itemized bill until she reached the total at the bottom. Her eyes widened. "Hoo boy," she groaned. "Looks like that wasn't one of my better ideas."

*   *   *

"Oh, I know a great place to eat!" Joxer bubbled. "It's this wonderful little tavern...very new, very exotic, very exclusive. Just to give you an idea of how fancy it is...they actually have--" he lowered his voice to an awed whisper, "--utensils."

"A tavern?" Salem asked. "I'd best brush up on my bawdy tavern ballads. Hope I can remember all the words to 'Polka Dot Undies.'"

"Salem--" Zelda cautioned.

Oblivious to the warning, Salem continued. "Let's see, how's it go? Something something..." He then broke into song. "Pointin' to something that flashed by real quick, she said 'Hey look at that, it looks just like your--'"

"Shut your mouth!" Zelda admonished.

"I'm just talkin' 'bout my polka dot undies," Salem replied sheepishly.

"I can dig it," Hilda grinned.

*   *   *

Sabrina led Xena and Gabrielle down the street. Gabrielle gazed about in wonder, dazzled by the elaborate architecture and by the astounding vehicles that passed. Xena simply walked along, indifference plastered across her face.

"Sabrina," Gabrielle whispered, "I know you asked us not to talk about magic, but this is amazing! These tall, square buildings...those wagons moving by do your people do all this?"

Xena said nothing, but nudged Gabrielle in the ribs.

"Xena!" Gabrielle yelped in response. "What was that for?"

"Don't go on about it," Xena replied.

"How can you be so jaded? Are you telling me you've ever seen anything like this place?"

"First rule," Xena explained, "when you're in unfamiliar territory, never let anyone see it's unfamiliar to you."

Sabrina volunteered an explanation. "Those are called 'cars.' Don't worry, you won't be expected to know much about them. They're more a guy thing. If someone starts talking about them, just nod your head and pretend you can follow what they're saying. Trust me, it's what I always do."

As they passed by the newsstand, Sabrina noticed the proprietor reading the latest issue of Maxim. The cover was blank, yet Mr. Goldwater didn't seem to notice at all. He looked up from his magazine and called out, "Oh, hi, Sabrina! Say, who are your friends there? Don't believe I've seen you two before, and I never forget a face."

"Oh, these are a couple of, students. Visiting from Greece."

"Really?" Mr. Goldwater smiled. "Well, welcome to our fine city!"

As Xena and Gabrielle thanked the newsagent for his cheery greeting, Sabrina smiled. The "temporary anonymity" and "teen perception" spells appeared to be working. Well, that made two things that were going right today...

*   *   *

As Joxer led the way to a nearby village, Hilda, Zelda and Salem talked among themselves.

"We're going to need someplace to hide Salem," Zelda remarked.

"Why can't I come with you?" Salem asked. "They don't have health codes yet."

"And they're probably not too picky about what they cook, either," Hilda replied.

Salem gulped. "I get the point."

"Anyway," said Zelda, "it's nothing to worry about." She gestured, conjuring up a large shopping bag with a bold "Sparta Commons" logo emblazoned on it. "You can come in as long as you keep yourself hidden in here."

"All right!" Salem whooped as he jumped in the bag. "A free ride!"

Feeling left out, Joxer forced his way into the conversation just as they reached the outskirts of the village. "You gals are going to love this place! The food is like nothing you've ever tasted, or even imagined, before! Incredible, exotic dishes all the way from distant..." he paused dramatically, "...China!"

"China?" his three companions simultaneously blurted out.

"You're awestruck, I can tell. And I can't say I blame you."

Hilda whispered to her sister. "We have come all the way to a fictitious re-creation of mythical ancient Greece--and we're having Chinese?"

"Well, maybe it's Tienjin," Zelda replied.

"Have they invented dim sum yet?" Salem interrupted.

Minutes later, they arrived at a splendid Chinese pagoda...or at least an ancient Grecian builder's idea of what a splendid Chinese pagoda is supposed to look like. "Isn't that magnificent architecture?" Joxer asked, virtually transfixed.

"I thought kitsch didn't come into its own until the 20th century," Hilda whispered to her sister. Then, for Joxer's benefit, she added more audibly, "Uh, it's very nice. Unlike anything I've ever seen before."

"Agreed," Salem added, his hunger overriding his sarcasm.

Zelda read the restaurant's sign aloud. "The Charging Dragon."

"This used to be a tavern called the Charging Bull," Joxer explained knowingly. "They rebuilt the place completely when the new owner changed the menu, but they tried not to alienate the old customers too much."

"So they brought China to the Bull shop," Salem observed. "Now there's a switch."

"Now I must let you know that this establishment is very, very popular," Joxer stated as they approached the steps. "But don't worry. I've been here before, so I have connections." He smiled. "They know of Joxer the Mighty."

"Just wondering," Zelda whispered to Hilda, "is MSG around yet?"

The party of four went inside, and Joxer walked up to his era's equivalent of a maitre d'. "I'd like to have seating for, uh, three," he said. "I'm Joxer."

"Fine," the Asiatic man replied, writing Joxer's name on a scroll. "And your companions are named--"

"Hilda," Joxer declared as he sneaked a wink in her direction. "That's spelled H-I-L-D-A, I believe..."

"Isn't he so intelligent?" Hilda grinned.

"...And her sister's name is spelled X-E-L-D-A." Joxer coached as he attempted to peer over the scroll to ensure the maitre d' was transcribing it accurately.

"No!" Zelda insisted. "That's with a Z."

"You're kidding, of course," Joxer replied. "Look--you're dressed like Xena, your name sounds like Xena's, and everybody knows 'Xena' begins with an X. Therefore, your name begins with X, too." He beamed proudly. "In addition to my skills as a warrior, I am also a master of logic!"

Zelda--or should we say, Xelda--threw up her hands in resignation. "Why waste energy on this battle?" she said to Hilda. "Xelda with an X it is." She peered down at Salem, who from inside the bag gave her a caustic feline smile.

"How long will we have to wait for a table?" Hilda asked Joxer.

"Not very long, I'm sure."

"Are you sure we didn't wind up in a Seinfeld episode?" Hilda muttered to her sister.

*   *   *

"Well, this is it!" Sabrina announced to her two "teen" companions as they arrived at the corner of Gladir and DeCarlo. "Welcome to the Slicery. If Harvey and Val are here, we'll all divvy up a pizza."

"Harvey and Val?" Gabrielle asked.

"My friends. You'll like them. They're nice."

"Are they just like you?"

"Well, except for you-know-what," Sabrina replied with a wink of an eye and a finger to her lips.

Upon entering, Sabrina saw Harvey Kinkle and Valerie Birkhead bent over the foosball table. She waved as she approached them, and they returned the favor.

"Hey, Sab, how ya doin'?" Harvey said, giving her a hug. "Who are these folks?"

" students, from Greece. They're staying with us for a while."

"And you never even told me about it for the school paper?" Val said. "That's a good story you've got there."

"Bureaucratic red tape. You know how these things go." Sabrina smiled over her guile. "Anyway, I want you to meet Gabrielle--" (who waved) "--and Xe...that's it, Zee. Short for Zoe." Xena's eyes opened in surprise, but Sabrina countered with an "I know what I'm doing" stare. Short for Zoe?

"Z...must be a popular letter in Greece," Harvey said. "Like in Zorba. My mom's made us sit through it two or three times on our VCR during this pregnancy of hers."

"I'll take your word for it," Xena said, shaking Harvey's hand.

"Boy, you're tall," Harvey said to Xena. "You look like you could play some basketball. Hey, Val, don't the Lady Scallions need some frontcourt help?"

"How would I know?" she replied. "We have no sports editor since Jayson James moved to Syracuse last week."

"Ah, Sicily," Gabrielle said.

"Uh, she was telling me earlier she has a friend in Syracuse named Cicely," Sabrina hurriedly covered. "Small world, isn't it?"

Xena examined the foosball table with a scrupulous eye. "What is this for?" she asked.

"Oh, I guess they must not have foosball in Greece, huh?" Harvey answered. "Well, I know it looks complicated, but the basic idea is pretty, uh--" he searched for the right word, "basic, I guess. See, all these poles control your guys, and the other player has that set of poles for their own guys. You can move them laterally--that means from side to side," Harvey grinned proudly, hoping he'd made up for his earlier vocabulary setback, "like this, and you can also turn the handles to make them kick." He demonstrated as he explained. "You try to get the ball past the other player's guys and through their goal, while you also keep them from getting it through your goal."

"So it's sort of a war game?" Xena asked. "Defense and assault?"

"I hadn't thought of it that way," Harvey said, "but Coach always talks about sports being war, so yeah, I guess you're right."

"Not the most effective layout for a phalanx," Xena muttered as she studied the table, "and the limited mobility doesn't make for a very accurate simulation of battlefield conditions...but the principles are sound."

"Well, I've always enjoyed it," Harvey replied. "Would you like to try it?"

"Harvey, she's never played before," Val cautioned.

"Don't worry," he whispered carefully. "I promise I'll take it easy on her."

*   *   *

Having finally been seated, Joxer, Hilda and "Xelda" looked over their menus as Salem kept himself concealed in the bag.

"I feel like chop suey," Hilda remarked.

"Sue the barmaid?" exclaimed Joxer, taken aback. "What's she done to you?"

"Nothing, never mind," Xelda hurriedly explained. "A little cultural misunderstanding." She leaned over to her sister and whispered, "Chop suey doesn't exist yet. It's not even real Chinese food, it was invented in America!"

"Whoopsie," Hilda blushed.

Just then, a server arrived bearing three mugs. "I took the liberty of ordering the drinks when I reserved the table," Joxer explained.

"Aw, that's sweet," said Hilda.

"Although," Xelda commented as she dubiously sniffed her beverage, "you could have asked us what we wanted first."

"Oh, I didn't want to trouble you," Joxer replied. "Besides, it's my treat. No common ales for you ladies...nothing but the finest mead in the house!"

Joxer raised his cup, and the two sisters followed suit after only a moment's hesitation. "To the fair Hilda and her strapping sister Xelda!"

Xelda silently mouthed, "Strapping?" to Hilda.

"It's the leather," Hilda whispered to her older sister. "Makes a gal look more...robust."

Nevertheless, Xelda obligingly accepted Joxer's toast. Joxer gulped down a mouthful of mead as his guests took a cautious sip.

A pronounced grimace worked its way over Xelda's face, then migrated over to Hilda's. "No wonder mead went out of fashion," Xelda quietly gasped.

"Ooh, that's a taste you gotta get used to," Hilda said. She then took another swallow. "Nope, not used to it yet," she winced.

"Better take it easy, Hildy," Xelda warned.

"Oh, relax," her sister scoffed. "This stuff's made from honey, right? How strong could a breakfast sweetener-based drink be?"

By the time their meals arrived, Xelda had gleaned a fair idea of how strong it could be, though Hilda still appeared oblivious.

"I love this place!" Hilda giggled, fumbling with her chopsticks. "Great food, great atmoshfear...and the people!" She leaned over toward her sister and grinned conspiratorially. "They live hard, work hard, play hard--they're so virile!"

Joxer puffed out his chest with pride.

"Take those guys over there, for instance."

Joxer sank back into his seat.

Hilda continued, "All these hunky guys in these macho period outfits...except for a small matter of grooming, it's like living in a Fabio calendar!" She made a sweeping gesture as she staggered to her feet. "I could really go for someone rugged and barbaric." Much to Xelda's chagrin, Hilda began climbing up onto the table. "Find me...a primitive man..." Her speech began to approximate a musical rhythm. "Bent on...a primitive plan..."

"Oh, Lordy love a duck," Xelda moaned, putting her hand to her forehead in mortification, "not Cole Porter, please!"

"Hey, could be worse," Salem remarked from inside the bag. "She could be singing 'Love For Sale.'"

Naturally, Hilda's antics had begun to attract the attention of other patrons. Not even noticing, she continued crooning: "I don't mean the kind that belongs to a club, but the kind that has a club that belongs to him..."

The patrons began to clap rhythmically as the still-oblivious Hilda sang on.

"She's not bad," Salem clandestinely told Xelda. "Not great by any means, but not bad. Somewhat reminiscent of Lee Wiley, with a touch of Anita O'Day by way of Peggy Lee...for once, we can say Hilda really is ahead of her time. Of course, this time never truly existed, but..."

Xelda said nothing, but shook her head silently.

Joxer beamed. "Beautiful and talented," he gushed as Hilda gave him a wink. "What a special woman."

"There's going to be trouble, I just know it," Xelda muttered.

"The only man who could ever win me," Hilda belted out, "has gotta wake up the gypsy in me..."

"I'll wake up yer gypsy for ya!" bellowed a hulking, shaven-headed brute of a man as he rose to his feet and started staggering towards Hilda's table.

"Is my club big enough for ya?" slurred another bruiser as he clumsily brandished a cudgel.

"Aaaaand here's trouble, right on cue," Salem commented.

*   *   *

Xena briskly brushed her hands together in the classic dusting-off maneuver as the group walked from the foosball table to their booth. "Well, that was a nice little diversion," she remarked.

"That was really nice of you to let her win," Valerie whispered to the sulking Harvey, "and so many games, too!"

"Let her--?" Harvey started in confusion, then sensed an out to salvage his pride. "Oh, yeah, let her win. Oh, it was nothing, really."

After they sat down, Gabrielle picked up the menu from the table and began poring over it.

"Oh, uh," Sabrina explained, "just take a look through that and then decide what kind of pizza you want to eat from there."

Gabrielle looked at Sabrina as if she'd lost her mind.

"We know what menus are for," Xena whispered testily.

"Oh, right, of course you do. Naturally, all the best Greek restaurants have menus. It's what they're known for," Sabrina babbled in an attempt to recover.

"I like Greek food," Harvey said. "We visited relatives in Astoria, Queens a few years ago, and they took us out for some souvlaki."

"I can't say I've ever heard of a queen named Astoria," Xena said, "but there are a lot of things in this new world I'm not familiar with."

"New World," Sabrina again defensively blurted. "Little geography joke." She stared across at Xena as if to say, "Leave it at that."

"Listen, I suggest dividing a pizza," Val said. "Let's choose a topping--here comes the waitress."

The waitress, a slightly chunky bleached blonde, walked to their table and said in a southwestern drawl, "So what'll you order tonight?"

"Do you have nutbread?" Gabrielle asked.

"Only if you think garlic's a nut," the waitress sighed. "By the way, hon, you look like someone I once knew from Texas."

"Taxes?" Gabrielle said puzzledly. "Do I look like a collector?"

"Garlic bread, that sounds good," Sabrina interjected. "Yeah, we'll start with some garlic bread."

"Okay," Val said, "now what kind of pizza are we getting?"

"How about Canadian bacon?" Harvey suggested.

Gabrielle pondered this new, unfamiliar word. Kanaydeeing? Must be some new way of curing it, she supposed. She opened her mouth to ask what it meant, then thought better of it. She didn't want to appear completely ignorant, after all. "Bacon sounds good," she simply said. She didn't know how they kanaydeed bacon, but she hoped it didn't change the flavor too much.

Val, Sabrina and finally Xena murmured their agreement.

"All right," the waitress said, "one Canadian bacon, garlic bread on the side. That'll be ready in just a few minutes," she added as she headed back to the kitchen.

"So," Val suggested, "while we're waiting, anyone want to play the jukebox?"

"Another game?" Xena asked.

"Oh, no, no, no," Sabrina hurriedly answered. "Language barrier," she explained to her friends. "No, the jukebox is for music."

"I don't know that instrument," said Gabrielle.

"Language barrier again," Sabrina interrupted. "Don't worry, just leave it to us."

As Val stood, she said, "I'll go and pick something out."

"Okay," Harvey agreed. "Hey, see if they've got anything by Prince."

"You mean the Artist Formerly Known as Prince," Val corrected good-humoredly.

"Oh, he was deposed?" Gabrielle whispered to Sabrina.

"Long story," Sabrina replied. "I'll tell you later."

"Well, at least he's found something constructive to do since falling from power. Does he paint or sculpt?"

"Later," Sabrina hissed gently.

Val stood before the jukebox, carefully making her selection. Finally, she inserted her coins, pressed the buttons, and soon the opening strains of "Maria" floated through the Slicery.

"Hey, Blondie!" a nearby teen remarked.

Gabrielle turned to Sabrina. "Are you going to let him call you that? I think it's demeaning."

"Oh, he wasn't talking to me," Sabrina hurriedly explained.

"Still, it's pretty rude."

"Just let it go," Sabrina urged. "Please?"

Harvey began nodding to the beat and started mouthing along with Deborah Harry's vocals.He looked at Xena, who initially didn't know what to think of this unusual sound.

"We're not used to this back in Greece," she said with a smile. "And where is she singing? I don't see her."

"What a kidder," Sabrina said defensively.

"It rocks, though, doesn't it?" said Val as she returned to the booth.

"Whatever you say," Gabrielle answered. Ah, they're getting the hang of it, Sabrina thought to herself.

The music slowly began making an impact on Xena; she started moving with the rhythm. When the second chorus began, she followed Harvey's lead and mouthed the words, albeit self-consciously: "'ve gotta see her...go insane and out of your mind..."

"By Jove, I think she's got it," Sabrina said, recalling a road-show production of "My Fair Lady" she and Zelda had seen a few months ago. "You like this music, Zee?"

"Yeah," Xena replied, nodding her head. When the third chorus came, she stood up and began singing: "'ve gotta see her...go insane and out of your mind..."

"She's good," Val said. "Fabulous voice."

"Almost operatic," Harvey added, snapping his fingers.

"I'm impressed," Sabrina said, but then recalled Lucy Lawless did have some singing ability, and showed it in--what episode was that?--oh yeah, now she remembered. "Her voice has kind of a bittersweet quality, you might say." She grinned at her little private joke.

"Hey," someone said, "we oughta invite her to sing the national anthem before a game."

Sabrina shook her head, recalling an infamous Lawless anthem incident at a hockey game. "I don't think that's such a good idea...uh, she's from Greece, after all, and wouldn't be familiar with it."

Another chorus, another voicing from Xena--this time with a little dancing.

Gabrielle, a bit embarrassed, was not impressed. "I'll go out of my mind if she doesn't stop," she pleaded.

"Oh, all right," Xena said. "That's it. You are such a killjoy." She glanced toward the muted TV set hanging from the corner and saw a middle-aged woman talking to somebody unseen on screen. "Who is she?"

"Oh, that's Madeline Albright," Sabrina said. "She's the secretary of state."

"I like her," Xena replied. "Such resolve on her face."

That figures, Sabrina thought.

*   *   *

"This has gone from being simply embarrassing to downright dangerous," Xelda muttered as Hilda's admirers drew closer. "I think it's time for a sobriety spell." Pointing at her sister, she recited: "My sister's drunk more than the Fest of Oktober, but one simple spell and she's instantly sober."

A small shower of sparkles surrounded Hilda, who shook her head as she regained her bearings. She looked at the burly brutes approaching after her favors. "Oopsie," she remarked.

"Never fear, fair Hilda!" Joxer exclaimed. "I shall defend your honor!"

He rose and interposed himself between the table and the closest of Hilda's audience. "Stand back, rabble! The lady is spoken for!"

Joxer's declaration was answered with a single punch to the face.

"Okay, maybe 'rabble' was a bit harsh..." Joxer groaned as his legs wobbled and folded beneath him.

"Now there's no need for that!" Xelda scolded as she stepped up to Joxer's assailant.

By this time, the original source of the commotion had retreated underneath the table.

"I see you've chosen the better part of valor as well," Salem grinned to Hilda.

"I'm not hiding!" Hilda snapped. "I just...lost a contact. And you know I'll never find a replacement around here."

"Suuuure," said Salem.

Outside the shelter of the table, a large man stood intimidatingly close to Xelda. "And what are you gonna do about it?" he challenged.

"Surely we can settle any sort of disagreement peaceably," Xelda replied calmly.

"That guy," the man pointed to Joxer's crumpled form, "got in my way. I'm gonna take him apart...piece-by-pieceably. Is that good enough for ya?"

"I simply can't allow that," Xelda said firmly.

"Oh yeah?" the man growled. "Who do you think you are, huh? You think you're gonna scare us just by dressing up like Xena, missy?"

"She's going to get killed," Hilda winced from her vantage point.

"Oh, definitely," Salem added.

"Well, can't we do anything about it?"

"Nothing comes to mind offhand," Salem moaned.

"That stupid outfit you suggested for her isn't helping any," Hilda admonished. "You heard what that guy said."

"Wait a minute!" Salem exclaimed. "That's it! The outfit!"


"She's got the look...all we need to do is give her the moves!"

Hilda's eyes lit up. "Gotcha." She pointed towards her sister and chanted: "Tough boots, funky tights and rough leather threads, help her finish the fights and bust some heads!"

"Did it work?" Salem asked.

"We'll find out soon enough," Hilda replied as she crossed her fingers.

"Now listen, there's no need for any of this--" Xelda tried to persuade the brute.

"I'm tired of all this talking!" the man grunted as he grabbed Xelda by the shoulders to shove her aside.

By its own accord, Xelda's foot jerked up sharply and caught the bruiser in a very vulnerable area.

Xelda's eyes widened simultaneously with her foes'. "Did I do that?" she gasped.

"She kicked Big Jac!" an onlooker exclaimed.

"Nobody does that to me," Big Jac growled as best he could with his voice an octave above its usual register.

As he lunged at Xelda, she smoothly side-stepped, grabbed his arm and flung him against the wall. Again, she was as surprised as he was.

"It's working!" Hilda chuckled gleefully.

Two of Jac's drinking companions rushed Xelda from opposite sides. She simply leapt high into the air and let them collide with each other. As she somersaulted in mid-air to a graceful landing, she wondered, Why do I have this sudden urge to yodel?

Another attacker ran toward her, and she easily reversed his charge with a mighty kick.

"The power!" Salem exulted.

Xelda had to admit to herself, this action was rather exhilarating. She could no longer suppress the urge. "Yi-yi-yi-yi-yi-yi!" she trilled.

"The passion!" Hilda gasped.

Joxer shook his head groggily as he came to, just in time to see Xelda hurl an opponent in his direction.

"The danger!" Joxer yelped, right before impact.

Xelda raised her hand to her mouth in shock. "Oh, I'm sorry, Joxer," she said in chagrin.

"No problem," Joxer groaned. "I finished him off for you."

"Thank you," Xelda grinned. Well, why not humor him?

Xelda looked around the restaurant, which was now strangely peaceful. All of her opponents were either literally stunned into silence or cowed into submission.

"Now," she admonished, "as I was saying, there are other ways to settle our differences than through violence."

"That's right," Hilda added, stepping up to her sister's side.

Xelda approached one man who was feebly attempting to conceal the dagger he'd been brandishing. She snatched it from his grasp with no resistance at all. "You don't need this to solve your problems," she said as she handed the dagger over to Hilda.

What am I supposed to do with this? Hilda thought. Making sure nobody was in the way, she flung it aside, where it lodged in a tapestry on the wall depicting a rampant bull (a holdover from the tavern's previous incarnation).

"Violence is the last resort of those who've exhausted all other options," Xelda continued as she took a dagger from a second man, "or those too lazy to consider those options in the first place." She handed the blade to Hilda, who again tossed it at the wall. This time the dagger struck an inch from the bull's eye.

"There are so many other ways to resolve disagreements," Xelda went on. "If not through calm, reasoned debate, then perhaps through games or contests..."

By this time, though, her audience's attention was focused more on Hilda's actions than Xelda's words.

"That looks like fun!" one man shouted. He rose to his feet and hurled his dagger at the tapestry. "Ha!" he yelled. "Right in the bull's eye!"

"My turn now!" proclaimed another man.

As Xelda took in the bizarre spectacle, her sister placed a hand on her shoulder. "Look at it this way, sis. You may not have solved the world's problems...but at least we've invented a bar game that will live through the ages."

Meanwhile, Salem had been lapping up his fill of Xelda's unattended glass of mead. Hey, as long as nobody else wants it..., he figured.

Noticing the little black cat, a buxom barmaid came over and scratched behind his ears. "Oh, aren't you the cutest little thing?" she cooed.

"Why thank you, my saucy wench," Salem replied. "Would you join me in a tavern ballad? 'And away, you santee, my dear honey, Oh, you New York girls, you love us for our--'"

Before he could complete the chorus, the barmaid fainted.

"Drat!" Salem muttered. "Always before I get to the good part."

*   *   *

After a tentative first bite, Gabrielle practically devoured her share of the pizza. "This is fantastic!" she enthused between slices. "I've never had anything like this before!"

"Italian food isn't that big in Greece," Sabrina whispered in explanation to Valerie. "I think it has something to do with some unresolved issues about the Romans copying their pantheon."

As the last bite was consumed and the last soda sipped, the waitress brought the bill. Out of habit, Xena reached inside her bag and flung a couple of heavy coins onto the table.

"Wow, I've never seen Greek money before," Harvey said as he picked up one of the dinars.

"I had an uncle who brought back some from his vacation," Valerie commented as she peered over Harvey's shoulder, "but it didn't look anything like that."

"Oh, that's because this is the Euro," Sabrina replied, snatching away the coins before her friends could look too closely. "You know, that new common currency?" She returned the coins to Xena, explaining. "Don't worry about the're our guests, after all. I'll take care of it. Besides, I don't think the Slicery's set up to figure out the exchange rate."

Harvey looked at his watch. "Gee, I didn't realize it was getting so late! I'd better be going mom'll be worried sick."

"Enjoyed meeting you two," Val said as she shook hands with Xena, then Gabrielle. "Looking forward to seeing you in school tomorrow."

Both Xena and Gabrielle turned to Sabrina, who said, "That's right...big day tomorrow. At school." The two took the hint and said nothing.

After Val and Harvey had departed and Sabrina had paid the bill, Sabrina and her two companions started walking home.

Now that they were in private, Xena asked, "What's this about school?"

"I've got to be able to keep an eye on you two until we can get you home," Sabrina explained, "so it'd be best if you came with me. Don't worry...since you're 'exchange students,' you won't be expected to be completely in the swing of things."

As Gabrielle pondered this almost-musical turn of phrase, her reverie was crudely interrupted when a man stepped out of an alleyway and blocked their path. "Hand over the bags!" he barked, brandishing a knife menacingly.

Great, Sabrina thought. As if things weren't complicated enough, we have to run into the local rep of the muggers' union.

"You want the bag?" Xena asked. "Take it!" With that, she swung her purse in one sudden movement. The weight of the chakram, only slightly softened by the material of the bag, thudded against the mugger's head. He dropped like a stone.

"Highwaymen," Xena shrugged. "I guess some things are the same wherever you go. Luckily, they're just as stupid here."

"What are we going to do with him?" Gabrielle asked.

"Well, we can't leave him to wake up and rob the next person who comes along," Sabrina contemplated, "and the last thing I need is a police report to make this situation even more complicated."

"What do you suggest, then?" Xena asked.

"Well, since there's nobody around to see this..." Sabrina held out her left hand, pointed to it with her right, and suddenly a small bottle materialized in her palm. She poured a small dusting of powder over the unconscious criminal. "And now for the finishing touch." She gestured to the mugger. "You can call him a thug, a crook or a hood, but just send him away where he'll do the most good!"

Instantly, the robber vanished from sight.

"What did you do to him?" Gabrielle asked.

Sabrina held up the bottle. "Truth sprinkles," she said. "Just what the doctor ordered."

"And what happened then? Where did that spell of yours send him?"

"Just where I said...the place where he'll do the most good."

"Hey, Sheila!" the desk sergeant at the Westbridge Police Department building called out to a young patrolwoman as she entered the door. "You arrest a guy named Freddie Rappaport today?"

"No," the officer answered. "I've had a really quiet shift--just a few speeding tickets and stuff like that."

"Strangest thing," the sergeant said. "Nobody remembers arresting this guy...but somehow, he wound up in a holding cell, waiving his lawyer and confessing away, and we can't get him to shut up!"

*   *   *

After the dinner crowd had departed from the Charging Dragon, Sue the barmaid was chatting with the last few stragglers and hangers-on.

"So she's singing, right? And everyone's getting rowdy, naturally...and then there was this blonde lady, dressed sort of like Xena, and she took on the whole crowd! So then she tells everyone to stop fighting, and she and the other girl showed them this new game to play with knives instead. And then I saw this cat drinking somebody's mead, and it talked! And sang!"

"Are you sure you haven't got your story the wrong way round?" somebody laughed. "Sounds more like you had the mead!"

The assembled patrons jeered, hooted, and guffawed--all except for one man. The swarthy, handsome listener sat silently, rubbing his goatee in contemplation.

"A talking cat?" Autolycus asked. "Tell me more..."

*   *   *

"A spectacular display of fighting prowess!" Joxer proclaimed as the group of four wanderers trudged through a field. "You were pretty good yourself, too, Xelda," he added. "Yep, you proved yourself quite a warrior back there...forged in the heat of battle!" he declared dramatically.

"Yeah, right," Salem muttered.

"Well," Joxer said as he gestured around the clearing, "here's as good a spot as any to set up camp!" He took a tattered blanket from his pack and laid it upon the ground.

Xelda and Hilda looked at him incredulously for a moment. "Are you serious?"

"Ah," he beamed proudly, "a true warrior needs nothing more than the open air and the blanket of stars for a good night's rest."

"Fine," Hilda said."You take the air and stars." She pointed, and a sturdy tent materialized. "While you're at it, we'll be in here."

Xelda gave her sister a reprimanding gaze.

"Oh, all right," Hilda responded. "And one for you, too." A second, smaller tent appeared over Joxer's blanket.

The two sisters entered their tent and settled down into the luxurious mattresses Hilda had conjured up.

"I have to admit," Xelda remarked, "I still can't believe what I got up to back there. All that jumping and acrobatics...I felt like Douglas Fairbanks. Senior," she clarified.

"Charming guy," Hilda replied, "though I was always more of a Mary Pickford fan." With a casual gesture, she reshaped her hair into an imitation of Pickford's ringlets.

"Okay, 'America's Sweetheart,'" Xelda commented wryly, "let's just call it a night."

"Fine," Hilda sighed as she restored her hair to its original style.

About an hour later, in the other tent, Salem crept over beside Joxer's head.

"Psst!" Salem whispered. "You awake, buddy?"

Joxer's only reply was a resounding snore.

"Just what I wanted to know. Thanks."

Silently, Salem pushed his way through the tent flap and emerged into the night. The darkness was no obstacle to his feline senses.

"Now," he grinned, "if I remember my Xena history correctly, we're not that far from where Joxer found the ambrosia. And once I get my paws on that," he chuckled, "nothing will stand in my way!"

No permanent damage was done to the music of Some Unknown Dylan, Isaac Hayes, Cole Porter, Blondie or Steeleye Span during the making of this chapter. Especially Cole Porter...if he can survive Burt Reynolds and Cybill Shepherd's renditions, he can survive anything.


Listings of works by Erich Fan Fiction
Return to the Fan Fiction area