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When in Greece...

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

Part Twelve

Giving, Receiving...

The next morning, Xena and Mariah related what happened to Gabrielle.

Mariah told her story and cried again, this time in Gabrielle's arms, the young bard comforting her and telling her the same things Xena had said the night before, reassuring Mariah that she was a very welcome addition to their special family.

Mariah, looking at her friends, smiling, said, "I never had a sister, and now I've got two!"

"And she's going to play her flute and maybe sing for her sisters tonight, isn't she?" asked Xena of Mariah.

"You play the flute? And you sing? Why didn't you tell us? What else can you do?" asked Gabrielle.

Mariah thought for a moment, a small, wicked smile appearing on her face. "Oh, I have MANY skills," she said, doing a dead-on Xena impersonation in both voice inflection and facial features, including that famous raised eyebrow. Gabrielle looked Mariah, then at Xena, and roared with laughter, tears coming to her eyes.

Xena laughed hard as well, as did Mariah.

Gabrielle pulled herself together, wiping the tears of mirth from her eyes. "Hey, Mariah, maybe you and I can put an act together. You know, I'll do the bard thing, and you could play your flute, sing some songs..."

"Maybe," said Mariah. "But I've never sang in front of a crowd of people before. And I'm still working on my flute fingering. Let me thing about it, OK?"

Gabrielle agreed.

That night, Mariah gave her first impromptu flute "concert" for her friends. She had a hard time starting as she wasn't used to playing solo in front of others, and she tried to beg off, but with Gabrielle and Xena's encouragement, she soon hit her stride. She played a selection of ballads and love songs from her twentieth century musical memories, the haunting lilt of the flute carrying far into the dark stillness of the night.

Xena and Gabrielle whistled and clapped when she finished.

"By the gods, you are *good*!" said Gabrielle. "You and Xena should do duets. You know, you play, Mariah, and Xena will sing."

Mariah looked at the warrior in surprise. "You're a singer, too?"

"Oh, you should hear her sing," said Gabrielle. "But she only sings when the mood hits her."

"I hope the mood hits her soon so I can hear her, too," said Mariah, smiling. She turned to Gabrielle. "Would you tell one of your stories?"

"Hey, you don't have to ask *me* twice," the bard replied, rising to her feet. "Do you have a preference?"

Mariah did. "Tell the story of how you met Xena."

Gabrielle launched into her story, skillfully weaving the events of that fateful day more than two years. Mariah closed her eyes, and in her mind's eye, she could see the eager young woman from Potadeia traveling with the then-lonely warrior whose life was just beginning to head down a new path.

Xena and Mariah applauded as Gabrielle finished her story and sat down. Mariah turned to Xena. "Your turn," she said with a smile.

The warrior thought for a moment. "I'll tell you what, Mariah. I'll make you a deal," said Xena. "I'll sing, if you sing that one song I always hear you singing in the early morning." The warrior hummed a few bars of the tune she wanted to hear.

Mariah looked at her warrior friend. "OK. You've got a deal." She rose gracefully to her feet, gently cleared her throat, closed her eyes, and softly began singing the ballad:

There are places I remember,
All my life, though some have changed.
Some forever, not for better,
Some have gone, and some remained.
All these places had their moments,
With lovers and friends, I still can recall.
Some are dead and some are living,
In my life, I've loved them all.
But of all these friends and lovers,
There is no one, compares with you.
And these memories lose their meaning,
When I think of love as something new.
Oh, I know I'll never lose affection,
For people and things that went before.
I know I'll often stop and thing about them,
In my life, I've loved you more....
Oh, I know I'll never lose affection,
For people and things that went before.
I know I'll often stop and thing about them,
In my life, I've loved you more....
In my life, I've loved you more.

When she was done, she opened her eyes, and was greeted with silence. She looked at her friends, and was surprised to see tears in their eyes, so moved were they by the depth of emotion in the song.

"Hey, it wasn't *that* bad, was it, was it?" Mariah tried to joke lightly.

Gabrielle looked at the young teacher and said softly, "That was beautiful."

"Well I can't take the credit for it. These male musicians from," she thought for a moment, "Brittania wrote and sang that song. It's one of my favorites."

Xena pulled herself together and rose to her feet. "That *was* beautiful, Mariah," she agreed. "Thank you. And a deal is a deal." The warrior princess thought for a moment, and began to sing the lament she sang at her lover Marcus's funeral.

Shivers moved up and down Mariah's spine as Xena sang, and tears formed in her eyes. Gabrielle, likewise, was extremely touched by the song, as she was every time she heard it.

When Xena was done, she slowly sat down again. There was total silence around the campfire, nobody wanting to break the mood.

Argo whinnied. The tension broke. The three women looked at each other, still feeling the aftermath of the night's emotions.

Part Thirteen

First Blood...

The women continued their travels, Mariah learning more and more about the life of her new world. She began talking more and more with other people they met along the way. One night, while staying at an inn, she even tried a little flirting with the male half of the population, much to Xena's and Gabrielle's amusement.

The young teacher also opened up more with her new friends as the walls and barriers she had built up over the years began to crumble and collapse, sharing her past, her thoughts, her dreams, her hopes, her fears, her flute, and her writings. Mariah even began composing some of her own music, music for the poetry she had written. She felt a sense of peace she had never before felt.

The traveling had been calm, peaceful. She began to think Gabrielle had been exaggerating about the fights. Circumstances would shortly prove her wrong.

It happened outside the village of Risa.

Xena, Gabrielle, Argo, and Mariah were walking towards the village, Gabrielle telling the story of how she had freed the Titans and how Xena, naturally, had saved the day. It was one of Mariah's favorites, and she never tired of hearing it.

Xena stiffened up as Argo whinnied. They stopped.

"What's the matter?" asked Mariah.

"We've got company and it could be trouble," Xena said softly, cursing her earlier decision to not train more with the teacher. "Mariah, try to stay out of it. Both of you, get your staffs."

Mariah had hers, as it doubled as a walking stick. Gabrielle pulled hers out of the saddle bag, quickly putting it together.

Five men met them as they rounded the bend in the road.

"Hello, ladies," said the tallest one, a thin man with greasy black hair.

"Hi, boys," said Xena. "Something we can do for you?"

"Oh, there's something we'd like to do for *you*," said the tall man, leering at the warrior. "We'd like to take all of your money off of your hands. And the horse, too."

"*Not* a good idea, boys," the warrior said, as she motioned Gabrielle and Mariah to fan out, their staffs at the ready.

The five men advanced, squaring off against the three women. The two with swords went for Xena; the two with staffs of their own went for Gabrielle. The fifth man, apparently unarmed, headed towards Mariah. Xena and Gabrielle were both watchful, on their guard as the men approached them and their untried friend.

Startled, Mariah heard Xena let loose with her war cry as she launched into her two attackers. She had never heard it before and the "A-YI-YI-YI-YI-YI!!" almost completely unnerved her. Mariah nervously palmed her staff. I can't do this, she thought. I'm no fighter. I haven't hit anyone since grade school

Suddenly, that became moot as her man rushed her. Her eyes widened as she saw the knife he pulled out. Instinct and training taking over, she quickly swung the staff around, catching him painfully on the biceps, causing him to yelp in pain and drop the weapon. She put herself between him and the knife to prevent him from picking it up, waving her staff in a defensive motion. But he was angry at being hit by a woman, and determined to make her pay for it. He charged her. She turned her staff, lunging, one rounded end jabbing him viciously in the stomach. He bent over as the air whooshed out of his lungs. Thinking he was incapacitated, Mariah turned away to pick up the knife. Her naivete almost cost her. He recovered quickly, charged her again, hitting her in the back, knocking her to the ground, causing her to lose hold of her staff.

She landed painfully, slightly winded. He grabbed her, lifted her up, and holding her by the front of her shirt, backhanded her across the right side of her face. The pain rippled through her entire being; stars exploded in her head. But it didn't do what he intended it to do; namely to make her fear him. Instead, it made her angry. VERY angry. Recovering quickly, she brought up her right knee twice, catching him in the groin. Howling in pain, he doubled over again. She bent over grabbed her staff, and whacked him hard behind the knees, forcing him to the ground.

She stood over him, breathing hard, the right side of her face throbbing in pain, angrier than she had been in a long time. She could taste blood in her mouth where a tooth had cut her cheek. The anger almost overwhelmed her. "You should not go around picking on defenseless women," she yelled at him, punctuating her statements with short, vicious shots to his ribs and chest as he cowered from her attack. "You just never know," she continued, still hitting and jabbing him, "when one will fight back!" The man lay still, semi-conscious from his wounds, as Mariah calmed down.

Xena and Gabrielle appeared by her side, having dispatched their attackers as soon as they could. "Are you OK?" Gabrielle asked her, putting a hand on her shoulder, worry showing in her green eyes. She saw the blow her friend had taken, but couldn't come to her aid.

"Yeah, but he sure nailed me," Mariah replied, leaning on her staff, holding the right side of her face.

Xena carefully looked at Mariah's right cheekbone and eye. It looked like there would be no permanent damage to her friend's face.

"Well, you're going to have a nice souvenir of your first fight," the warrior said with a sympathetic smile. "A shiner. And it'll be a beauty, too. When we get to Risa, we'll stop overnight. There's an inn there. We need to unwind a little," she said, clapping Mariah gently on the back, a troubled look appearing on the warrior's face. "I've got something you'll want to put on your cheekbone to help keep the swelling down."

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