Note: This entry is part of this year’s Covert Cupid challenge, in which each host drew three characters from a hat and used them to write a romantic fanfiction short. You can hear them all read aloud in Episode 80 of the podcast.
I know what you’re thinking.
Karen! How the hell did you manage to get Ninja Turtle characters for the last two fic challenges?!?
And honestly? I have no freakin’ clue how that happened, but I’m sure as hell not complaining.
Okay, that’s not entirely true, because this fic was wicked hard, guys.
Like…way harder than I thought it was going to be when I was still basking in the afterglow of my good luck.
April is mostly a blank slate regardless of source canon, and so having her be down for a little girl-on-girl wasn’t going to take a ginormous stretch in logic.
And Xena? Please. Have you ever SEEN Xena?
No, the problems surfaced when I realized I couldn’t write Xena in love with anyone that wasn’t Gabrielle. And believe me, I tried.
So what you get instead is a tale of high adventure and longing that is chock full of TMNT Volume 1 Easter Eggs.
I’m so proud of myself, I could spit.
November 4th, 1986
I have to get this out of my head and there’s no one I could possibly talk to about this.Well, there is one person, but he’d never let me hear the end of it, so that’s out of the question.
I fell through what I think was a wormhole in space/time, met the most amazing person ever and…no. Wait.Let’s start from the beginning.
Let me tell you a story…
It all started on Halloween.
Well, no. That’s not entirely true. This chapter of weirdness started on Halloween but the overall trend in my life towards the bizarre started months ago, on the same day I met my new roommates and learned exactly how out of shape I’d become. There’s nothing like running for your life from killer robots to let a girl know her eight-minute mile days might be behind her.
After that dust settled, I headed straight for the video store and picked myself up as many Jane Fonda tapes as I could carry. I knew if I was ever going to run for my life again, I was going to be much better at it the Second Time Around. (get it?)
Anyway, come the Fall not only was I back to running that eight-minute mile, but I looked fantastic. So fantastic that when I got the invite to Chet’s Halloween party I decided it was time to break out that Sheena: Queen of the Jungle costume I hadn’t worn since Sophomore year. Nothing says, Check Out My New Abs like a leopard-print bikini.
The party was great, and my costume was almost as big a hit as my roommates were. If I’d have know what was going to happen next, I might not have convinced them that I’d be safe to get home on my own.
Or maybe I would have, it’s kind of complicated.
I’ve lived in The City for most of my life, so know my way around. Even as deep into my cups as I was after the party, I still knew the best way to get back to Eleventh and Bleeker. There was no possible way I could have gotten lost.
Of course, I wasn’t really expecting that portal in space/time to be there.
(They’re always in the last place you look.)
I can’t say for sure what happened next, because it was really windy in addition to my having been three sheets into it. So in an effort to keep from freezing to death I had my head down and the collar of my trench coat all the way up.
Remember: leopard print bikini.
The next thing I knew it wasn’t four in the morning anymore, but rather high noon. And the part of downtown Manhattan was now being played by more trees than I’d seen since I was a little kid at camp. It was suddenly so bright that I couldn’t help but stagger back a few steps. And then, because I’m me, those steps back led me to trip over something, and fall right on my ass. It was only after I landed that I realized the something that tripped me was the body of a man in some terrifying looking leather armor.
To my credit I didn’t scream, but not because I’m so jaded a New Yorker that the sight of a what looked like a dead guy on the ground didn’t effect me, but because the body was kind of eclipsed by the massive fight scene that was happening maybe fifteen feet to my left, where there were at least twenty guys surrounding someone unseen.
Everything was just moving too fast for me to get a clear view.
Well, at least at the beginning anyway.
One by one the men just dropped. At first I thought they might be dead, but as my view got less and less obstructed I could see that they were really getting knocked out. Now, I’ve seen a lot of sparring as of late, and while I can’t for the life of me tell you what style she was using, I can tell you she was holding back, pulling her punches. She was purposely not hurting these men more than she had to. Even with the weapons she had on hand, she was just knocking them out. It was….kind of amazing.
More than amazing, really.
And yeah. She.
At the center of this fight was a single woman.
She moved like no one I’d ever seen before. Not a single motion wasted. Everything was fluid, and hypnotic, but strong. Seriously, I could have watched her for hours.
She was most amazing thing I’ve ever seen.
…I said that already, didn’t I?
Anyway, I could have watched her for hours, except for the fact that the body I was basically sitting on? The one I’d forgotten was there because I my attention was kind of diverted elsewhere? The one I thought was dead?
Yeah, he wasn’t.
What he was, was regaining consciousness pretty fast, and he didn’t seem to be in a very good mood about it, or by extension me.
In my own defense, I did try to get away. And the only reason he was able to catch me at all, was because of my trench coat. The more I struggled, the more I got tangled in my own coat. The next thing I knew there was something very sharp and cold being held against my throat, which is about the point where I stopped struggling.
Fat lot of good all the Fonda did me, I still somehow managed to become the damsel in distress….again.
And I’d probably be dead right now, if not for the surprising arrival of the woman, who flipped herself out of her remaining fray with a ululation the likes of which I haven’t heard since Molly’s last visit from Egypt. That changed my captor’s tune pretty quickly. Instead of being all tough and telling me all the horrible things he was going to do to me, he was pleading for his life.
“No Xena! Have pity! Have Mercy.”
She stood over us like an avenging angel, and very slowly drew her sword.
“Release her,” she said, without any emotion.
My heart was pounding, and she was just standing there, sword in hand without so much has having broken a sweat.
“Release her, and you and your men will be allowed to go freely. You will not get such an offer a second time.”
It was literally the most badass thing I’ve ever heard someone say in real life. I seriously thought the guy was going to start crying. Hell I almost started crying.
As soon as I felt the knife lift away from my throat, I headbutted the guy, wormed my way out of my coat, and crawled as far from him as I could.
When I got to my feet I noticed the other men were either still on the ground or standing there dumbfounded.
“You heard her, get the hell out of here,” I yelled at them. “Go on! Get!”
I don’t think they expected me to say anything, because some of them actually flinched. They all turned their attention to the guy still on the ground looking up at Xena.
“Do as she says,” he said eventually.
The weary helped with the wounded, and eventually even their boss managed to stand. He threw my coat at Xena’s feet and skulked away in disgrace.
After they fully retreated, and her sword was stowed, Xena crouched to pick up my coat.
“I’m sorry. Had I recognized that they had you in bondage I would have ended that much quicker. I was hoping they would tire themselves out…”
I’m sure she said something after that, but…that’s about the point in the conversation where she made eye contact with me and I might have gone a bit weak in the knees.
It could have been dehydration, or finally succumbing to shock, but…let’s be honest:
It was totally the undivided attention of the warrior goddess before me.The one that had just saved my life, defended my honor, and had rushed to catch me right before my legs gave out completely.
She held me in her arms for a moment that didn’t go on nearly as long as I’d have liked it to, and with a voice so low and quiet I nearly missed it over the pounding of the blood in my veins, she asked me, “Are you alright?”
I replied with the only words that one can muster when faced with a Romance Novel Cover Situation.
I said, “…uh huh.”
Real smooth there, O’Neil. Real smooth.
For a moment Xena allowed what I would later learn was a very well curated veneer of badassery to drop, and she smiled, her eyes dancing with amusement.
And that’s the exact moment I knew I was in serious trouble.
I’d gone and fallen in love with a Warrior Princess.
(Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Fic: XJ-9)