DISCLAIMER: F. A. G. belongs to its founder, Rachel. Thanks to Debbie for taking the time to beta this one after all those others.
CHALLENGE: Written for the first International Day of Femslash.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Celebrate Good Times
The large yellow ball rose slowly above the horizon as birds chirped loudly, their song of celebration reverberating throughout the valley. There was no sign of movement, no stirring whatsoever, through the rows and rows of tents, only a sense of peace that had settled across the land. High up on the ridge, the Warrior Princess looked down on the serene setting, knowing that in just a few hours the excitement that had been building over the past week would burst open wide. She just hoped that, when it did, the only punch served up would be in the form of the refreshments Joyce Hazeldine had offered to make. A smile crossed her face as she recalled overhearing Lillian and Hilary planning to add a little something extra to the punch something with a little kick, or, according to Hilary, something that would put hair on everyone's chest. The women of Little Stempington truly knew how to party.
"Xena?" asked Gabrielle, lying a few feet away, her eyes still closed tightly. "Is it morning already?"
"Yes." Xena returned to her lover's side and shook her head in amazement. "I usually have to threaten to pour water on you to get you to acknowledge a new day."
Gabrielle rubbed her hands vigorously over her face and slowly sat up. "Not today; I've been waiting for this day forever." She glanced up at Xena and smiled. "Femslash is finally going to be given its day in the sun. The Queen has outdone herself."
Xena frowned at her lover's words. "Gabrielle, you are the Queen."
"Not today I'm not." Throwing off the blanket, she reached for her ceremonial Amazonian outfit and began to dress. She wanted to be the first person to arrive on the stage, leaving Alex to have to sit second chair.
In a blue and yellow tent on the ground below, Alex rolled onto her back and eased her eyelids open as her clear blue eyes focused on the canvas ceiling above. The makings of a grin slowly formed on her lips until her entire face lit up with her smile. Today was the day; it had finally arrived. She reached out for the clothing she'd laid out the night before.
"Oh man, is it morning already?" groaned Olivia, throwing her arm over her eyes to shield the light that had filtered through the opening of their tent. "Jeez, that's the last time I drink with Jo, Abbie, and Tracey. I never realized I was such a lightweight when it came to booze."
"I tried to tell you that you were out of your league, but you wouldn't listen." Alex shimmied into the pants of her black suit and walked over to remove her shirt from its hanger. "I've seen Tracey drink men, five times her size, under the table." Sliding into the silky material, she began to neatly tuck her shirt into her pants.
"Alex?" Olivia had turned over and watched her lover dress. "What are you wearing?"
Alex looked down at her designer pants and shirts. "My black suit - why?" She glanced back at her lover in confusion.
Olivia pushed up on one elbow, wincing at the pain that shot through her head at the sudden movement. "Alex, this isn't a formal affair. It's going to be a barbeque type of party. Nikki and Nora even brought crawfish to boil. Your clothes will get ruined."
"I am not meeting the Queen wearing jeans and a t-shirt. I'll be just fine." She moved over to her suitcase and gazed down at her shoes. The black high-heeled pumps caught her eye and she smiled. Her choice had been much simpler than the one being considered just a few tents down.
"I can't decide: boots, pumps, or those cute designer tennis shoes I bought before we left New Orleans?" Nikki stared down at the different styles of shoes, having already discarded several pairs that were piling up in the corner of their tent.
"I say you wear your old tennis shoes; we're boiling crawfish, remember? Your shoes will be ruined." Nora bent to tie the laces of her cross trainers. It was her last item of apparel as she'd already tucked her red tank top into her low-rider jeans.
Nikki tossed her pumps into the growing pile of discards and turned to her lover. "Oh no, I'm not standing over a big ol' hot pot of stinky crawfish; it was your idea to have a crawfish boil, not mine. I still can't believe you talked Charlie into flying out in his friend's plane to deliver them."
Nora's head snapped up at the reminder. "Oh shit, I'd better hurry to the gate; otherwise, Xena will cut Charlie in two." She started toward the exit. "Or, knowing Xena, she'll probably cut something vital off." Throwing back the flap of the tent, she eased outside, almost running directly into Scribbs, who just happened to be passing by.
"Whoa, where're you headed in such a hurry?" asked Scribbs, thankful that her reflexes had been good enough to jump out of the way when Nora had come barreling out of the tent. Ash wouldn't be happy if she'd dropped her eggs, bacon, and black pudding on the ground, especially after Joyce had been so generous as to prepare it for her ailing countrywoman.
Nora breathed in the wonderful aroma and eyed the eggs. "I've got to meet a friend. He's bringing in the crawfish I'm going to boil."
Scribbs crinkled her nose in disgust. "I've heard about those from your partner. They sound rather . . . interesting."
The sound of a horn honking caught Nora's attention, and she grinned widely. "I bet that's Charlie now." She turned to race away, calling over her shoulder and gesturing with her hands, "I'll teach you how to crack them open and even show you how to suck their heads." Her voice trailed off as she moved away.
Waving back, Scribbs muttered, "Not on your life." She made a mental note to avoid the Louisiana women and hurried to her tent. Ash hated it when her eggs were cold. She pushed into the opening and started toward her lover. "Here you go, Ash; a full English breakfast."
Ash looked up bleary-eyed and sneezed. The damn pine blooms were going to be the death of her. "The eggs didn't get cold did they?" She slowly eased into a seated position.
"No, I don't think so." Scribbs placed the tray in her partner's lap and stood. "Joyce is amazing. She's been cooking for her circle of friends this whole week." Scribbs frowned slightly. "I'm not sure where she's getting the fresh ingredients from, but I suspect Lillian has had something to do with it." She bit down on her lip in thought. "You know Ash, I think there's a bit of obsession going on there."
Ash couldn't care less about Lillian's obvious obsession with Joyce or how Joyce had managed to prepare such a wonderful breakfast; she was too busy enjoying it. Neither woman realized that the aroma had wafted its way to the tent on their right.
"Jo? I smell bacon and eggs next door," said Blair, munching on one of the granola bars Jo had brought along. She was tired of eating snack bars and couldn't wait for the day to begin. The menu Helena Peabody had arranged to have catered sounded wonderful.
"Yeah, right, Blair. I find it hard to believe that, one, Scribbs was able to locate a farm; two, she raided a henhouse; three, she was able to slaughter a pig; and four, she milked a cow so that she could scramble the eggs." Jo popped the last bite of her bar into her mouth and reached down for her shoes.
"She might have," said Blair, not truly believing Scribbs could accomplish any of the feats Jo had mentioned. Her growling stomach had her turning the conversation from food to the day's events. "Do you think Alex and Gabrielle will be able to control themselves around the Queen?"
Jo snorted. "Not a chance; they'll both be too busy vying for her attention."
"Well, Xena and Olivia have done an excellent job of keeping the two of them apart," Blair hesitated, "um, except for the occasional scuffle." She turned towards her lover. "Do you think Gabrielle's eye has healed?"
Jo shrugged. "I'm not sure; I guess we'll have to ask some of the medical personnel that we have on site. I think Erica Hahn is the one who treated her." Jo made a note to ask the doctor if there were any quick remedies for a hangover. She briefly wondered if Erica made tent calls.
Stretching her arms over her head, Erica stifled the yawn that threatened to escape. She smiled as Callie snuggled closer to her side. "You awake?"
"Yes, but that doesn't mean I'm ready to get up." Callie burrowed impossibly close, carelessly throwing her leg over her lover's.
Erica slid her hand over Callie's hip. "Oh, really."
Callie laughed and stilled Erica's wandering hand. "I think we'd better save our strength for today. Our services might be called for."
A pair of lips nibbled on a nearby ear. "Will you be calling for my services later this evening?"
"Maybe," Callie moaned, "but we should probably get up now. I'm not certain of the procedures for this event, and I don't want to screw it up." Pulling away, she leaned on an elbow and looked down on her lover. "What do you make of this group?"
Erica looked up at the ceiling of the tent in thought. "It's nice to have so many female couples around, but I could do without the constant fighting between the two co-leaders." She moved her gaze to the tent's opening and stared at the tent across the way. "And why is Cristina Yang here?"
"Who knows? Maybe she's one of those singles, like Megan Wheeler, Serena Southerlyn, Abbie Carmichael, Sarah McKenzie, and Lilly Rush. Oh yeah, and that Casey Novak, too." Callie wrinkled her brow, a connection slowly forming. "Hey, do you think she's kin to that woman who looks like Addison Marley Novak?"
"I have no idea," said Erica, drawing her lover back to her side. "But I've noticed several women walking around who resemble each other. Think it's some kind of genetic anomaly?"
"Beats me; I do wonder what Addison thinks about it?"
Lying under the dome of a bright red tent, Addison lightly ran her hand up and down her lover's arm. She knew her thoughts should be on the events of the day, but she just couldn't shake the déjà vu feeling she'd had since she'd arrived.
"Hey Izzie, do you believe that everyone has a twin somewhere in the world?"
"You're talking about that Miami detective, aren't you?"
"Yes, Marley Novak." She tilted her head toward Izzie. "Do you think we look alike?"
Izzie caressed the other woman's cheek. "Compared to what you looked like when you first came to Seattle Grace, you two could have been identical twins, but now that your hair is darker, you just look like regular twins."
Marley chuckled. "Well, that's a relief. I was afraid we just looked alike." She rolled Izzie onto her back and hovered over her lover. "What makes me different?"
"I don't really know anything about Marley, but I do know that I prefer someone who can expertly wield a scalpel over someone who can expertly wield a gun."
Marley stared down at Izzie, a smile slowly forming. "Good answer." She leaned down and captured soft lips, wondering how the other look-alikes were handling the situation. She imagined it was especially confusing for their lovers.
"Sarah, that Luce person favors you." Cameron tilted her head in question. "How is that possible?" She looked over and watched as her lover reassembled her gun.
"You think she looks like me?" Sarah kept her focus on the shiny metal. "I don't see it at all. Besides, we couldn't be further apart if we tried." She snapped the barrel in place. "She's all about flowers, and I'm all about . . ." Aiming the gun at Cameron, she smiled. ". . . this."
Cameron stood and crossed the tent, not batting an eye at the gun that was pointed at her chest. She pushed her body hard against the barrel. "You're right; you don't look anything like her." With a gentle touch, she eased the gun from Sarah's hand and settled onto the older woman's lap. Cameron preferred the smell of gunpowder to flowers any day.
Across the campground, Luce wired the last arrangement to the end row and stood, glancing back up the long aisle at her work. The alternating colors were the perfect touch and gave each row its own special look, much like the many pairings who'd be filling the arena in a couple of hours. She'd made sure to give the dozens of tables the same special treatment so that no one fandom would feel slighted.
"Wow, this looks great," said Rachel, moving to stand beside her lover. Luce had left her behind at the dining area, placing the nametags at each seat. Joyce had done a spectacular job of drawing the layout and assigning seats to the individuals. Gabrielle had chosen well when she'd given the Englishwoman the task of organizing the seating arrangements after Ash had taken ill.
Luce gestured toward the stage. "I'm glad I decided to work on the dais first; otherwise, Gabrielle and Alex would've never let me near it."
Holding her hand up to shield the sun, Rachel spied the two women in question. Xena was holding the silver gavel high above her head, while Alex and Gabrielle jumped up and down to try to get it. Olivia stood to the side, hands on her hips, as she shook her head.
"I think Xena has everything under control. What do you say we go back to the tent and change for the festivities?" Rachel looped her arm through her lover's.
"Sounds like a plan." Luce glanced over at the RV parked at the edge of the campground, a wonderful idea beginning to form. "Think Barbara and Helena would let us use their shower?"
Rachel grinned and veered her lover toward the recreational vehicle. She just hoped the shower was wide enough for two, but knowing Helena, she was certain that it would be. They gave a shout out to Joyce and her crew as they passed through the different tables on their way to the parking lot.
Nodding at the two women, Joyce turned her attention back to the details of the reception. "We need to keep the dishes filled," She paused, "except for that horrid, stainless steel crawfish container." The former gang leaders, Barbara and Camilla, visibly shivered. They'd already planned to set up a chair to place the mudbugs on, making sure the vile creatures were far, far away from the serving table.
"And lastly, it is imperative that we keep a few of the women away from each other. I've already seated them in separate areas, but I can't control any mingling activities." Joyce indicated the map. "I've color-coded and highlighted the names of the women who simply must be kept apart. Red Catherine Willows and Karen 'KC' Koloski; Blue Marley Novak and Addison Montgomery; Green Sarah McKenzie and Denise Sherwood; Yellow Wendy Simms and Nikki Beaumont; Pink Sarah Connor and Luce um whatever; Purple Abbie Carmichael and Lindsay Boxer." She looked around to make sure everyone had been paying attention, before continuing. "I've got us scattered around the area in strategic locations," she paused and pointed to the individual tables that held their names, "don't hesitate to call for assistance if there's a breech of any kind."
Everyone nodded their head in understanding, but Lillian and Hilary shared a private wink and smile. If things got too boring and the spiked punch didn't do the trick, they knew just how to liven things up.
A constant murmur passed through the rows of chairs as the different couples began to squirm in their seats. The program had been slated to begin an hour ago, and many of the pairings were ready to skip the readings and overtures and go straight to the eating and drinking part of the festivities.
"What's the holdup?" asked Catherine, leaning across Wendy to address both her lover and her colleagues. Sara and Sofia just shrugged.
"I think the Queen has been delayed for some reason," Calleigh offered, from the other side of Sara. She'd been pleased that the Vegas CSIs had allowed her and Natalia to sit with them.
"Hmm, wonder if it's a traffic problem?" Barbara wheeled her chair around to face the row behind her. "I wish I'd known; I could have plotted out a better route or perhaps even provided a means of transportation."
Helena smiled, wondering what the Queen would think about riding in the Batmobile or Batcopter. She imagined the tiny woman would get a kick out of it.
Cindy Thomas bent her ear to the conversation behind her. An exclusive photo of the infamous Batmobile could ensure her a feature story. Her blonde lover, Jill, smirked, having other ideas for the use of the car, while Lindsay, her brunette lover, beamed at the idea of driving such a vehicle through the streets of San Francisco. She bet she wouldn't have any trouble navigating the turns, and what a ride it would be to go up and down the steep hills.
"Damn it," whispered Kathryn, leaning conspiratorially toward her crew members. "I didn't think about offering to transport the Queen directly here."
"I could contact Chakotay and ask for a site to site transport," B'Elanna said, slipping her communications device into her palm. "I'd need her current coordinates though."
Seven started to stand, her gaze focused on the stage, and specifically, the two blondes who appeared to be playing a game of musical chairs with the chair closet to the dais. "I shall force the information from our co-leaders." A bright light, coming from behind the stage area, temporarily blinded Seven, and she held up her hand to protect her eyes. The light disappeared as quickly as it'd appeared.
"What the hell was that?" Tracey Kibre rubbed her eyes and squinted toward the stage.
Gripping their Zats, Sam and Janet wondered how the Goa'uld had found the secret location of the meeting. The System Lords had been trying to infiltrate the F. A. G. for years, recognizing the stronghold it had on the planet Earth. Next to the Stargate officers, Agents Scully and Reyes also exchanged worried glances, their thoughts not any closer to home. Had an alien ship landed? Was Mulder right was the truth really out there? And was it female?
Easing next to their FBI counterparts, Emily and JJ picked up on their colleague's nervousness. The other women were usually so calm, cool, and collected. Did they know something that they didn't? Was this some kind of conspiracy? Although, with the firepower now on display, it was entirely possible that it was the aliens who were in trouble.
As one, the audience slowly moved toward the stage, their curiosity winning out over their good senses, when, suddenly, a hush fell over the crowd as a short, bespectacled woman stepped from behind the curtains wearing a huge smile. She paused for a moment, before holding up her hand and waving, the action sparking off a chain reaction of cheers, starting from the front of the crowd and working its way backward as the realization became clear.
The Queen had arrived. It was finally time to party.
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