Destiny © March 1999

by Heike Straub


Legal Disclaimer: The characters of Xena, Gabrielle, Najara, Alti, Phlanagus and Argo are owned
by MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures and no copyright infringement is intended. The rest of
the story is mine, however.

Subtext: Nope. It's maintext. Xena and Gabrielle are in love with each other that's clear as daylight.
If this bothers you please read something else.

Sex: No.

Violence: Yes. If you do not like the idea of one of the woman being hurt then again... please read
something else.

Time: The story is settled after the episodes "Crusader" and "Past Imperfect" but before the India


you can't ignore it... can't rely on it.

- Gabrielle, Past Imperfect


It was a warm morning, the sun hadn't completely risen yet but still you could already hear the first
birds singing in the trees.

Gabrielle was sitting on the shore of a lake she and Xena had made camp at for the night. Xena was
still sleeping deeply and so Gabrielle used the time to enjoy the beautiful landscape. She knew
something like that couldn't make an impression on Xena. The last time she had to find out about that
had been the moment when she had tried to explain to Xena about the beauty of the sea and the
flowers and hadn't gotten anywhere with her.

Gabrielle stared at the water in which the sun was reflecting itself. She was lost in thoughts and
suddenly she was hit by a gust of wind which was caused by the wings of a swan flying over her
head and now landing in the middle of the lake. A smile appeared on her face. She had watched
swans with Najara the last time. She couldn't believe this had already been two months ago. Her
smile disappeared and now a hint of grief was perceptible. Najara could have done so much good
and Gabrielle had been so impressed by her. She had even considered leaving Xena to set up a
hospice with Najara. Everything could have been just wonderful if Najara hadn't stopped at nothing
while doing good. She had wanted to turn murderers, thieves and pirates to the light but this had had
to happen within three days, all those who hadn't been willing to follow the light by then had been
executed. Gabrielle herself had been initiated into the way of the light... Why had she trusted Najara

"Hey, you're alright?" she suddenly heard a soft voice asking which belonged to Xena. Gabrielle
startled, she hadn't noticed that Xena was already up.

Gabrielle smiled at Xena who sat down beside her. They looked at each other for a moment which
seemed like an eternity and again Gabrielle recognized that she could lose herself in Xena's bright,
blue eyes.

"Yeah. I was just thinking."

"About what?"

Hearing this question Gabrielle looked involuntarily to the swan and Xena knew at once that she had
thought about Najara. She had watched the two walking along the lake then and she remembered
seeing the joy in Gabrielle's eyes when she had been with Najara. Sometimes Xena wished Gabrielle
had never come with her. All the harm which she had gone through would have been prevented and
now she had changed so much. When she had first met Gabrielle in Poteidia four years ago
Gabrielle had been an innocent, naive girl who didn't know much about the world outside her village.
But now... Gabrielle had lost her blood innocence and with it a part of her soul. Xena noticed that
she had not seen the high spirits Gabrielle had had then for ages... they were lost. Gabrielle meant so
much to Xena. She gave her so much strength, she was a source Xena drew from when she didn't
know how to go on. Xena realized, however, that she had to let her go if she didn't want her to get
hurt again. The thought of it caused inner pain but she loved Gabrielle too much to hurt her

"You thought of Najara, didn't you?"

Gabrielle nodded and bowed her head.

"I often ask myself what would have been if I had gone with Najara. Would I have been able to
convince her of her wrong? I mean if I had been with her she could have done so much good."

Gabrielle now looked with tears in her eyes at Xena and this nearly tore her heart. She had seen
Gabrielle crying more than laughing lately and that hurt.

"Xena, I don't know what's happening to me. I don't know who I am anymore. I have the feeling to
be caught in a circle of violence and I can't escape. Xena, I killed a man, led another one to his death
and I'm responsible for Phlanagus' death. I could have saved him but I didn't want to kill again and
so he died."

After a short break she continued: "I don't know if I can go on like this, Xena."

Xena put her hand on Gabrielle's shoulder. She could really understand her and now it was more
necessary than ever to let her go. Gabrielle would do so much better without her. She was sure
about that.

"Gabrielle, nothing I say can take away that pain but I want you to know that you're the most
wonderful person I've ever met and it was not your fault Phlanagus died. He died because of the
war..." Xena looked deeply into Gabrielle's eyes while speaking these words and then added: "...and
because of me."

Gabrielle looked shocked at Xena. "Xena...?!"

Xena shook her head and interrupted Gabrielle. "Gabrielle, I dragged you into this war. I know you
hate violence but I did it anyway."

Xena looked to the ground and she suddenly saw Alti's vision of the future in her mind's eye:

The snowy mountain...

The Roman soldiers...

Her reflection in the shield of one of them, showing how she was tied to a cross...

The crosses with crucified people in the background...

Two figures on horses... and finally Gabrielle... tied to a cross on the ground beside hers.

Xena was on the verge of tears when she thought about the nails which were about to be driven into
Gabrielle's hands. She couldn't bear the thought of the pain which this would cause for Gabrielle. She
was such a good hearted person without any bad thoughts... she was like the light and she didn't
deserve to die like this.

Xena regained her composure and said: "You know, Najara told me that I would hurt you if you
stayed with me... she was right. A lot of bad things have happened to you ever since you've been
travelling with me and now Alti's..."

"Xena stop it, will you!" Gabrielle's raging words interrupted Xena. "I have told you before that I
don't believe in this vision. If I did I wouldn't be able to think of anything else... I don't want to think
about losing you. I can't! You hear me? I can't!"

Gabrielle stood up and went back to the camp.

Xena watched her go and again she thought about Gabrielle's life being better without her.




It was late afternoon and Xena and Gabrielle had continued their way through Thessaly. They hadn't
spoken anything during their ride. None of them had wanted to. The only person they had talked
with had been a young farmer who had accompanied them for a while and then had gone another
route. Now they stopped in a little village called Tricca. The village seemed like all the others they
had come through. However, something was wrong here. The people on the street behaved oddly.
There was rarely a word spoken and some of the villagers looked frightened to the two women.

Xena frowned. "I don't like it."

Gabrielle looked at her questioningly. "What do you mean?"

"Look at these people. Don't you think they behave a bit strangely? They seem to be afraid... but of

Gabrielle looked at them more closely and only now she noticed it, too. The Villagers behaved like
they had to watch carefully what they were doing. The next thing she noticed was that the men didn't
carry any weapons.

"Xena, no one' s got a sword here. Either they are all very friendly people..." Gabrielle emphasized
the word very, "...or something is going on here."

Xena looked at her and nodded in agreement.

"Let's find out what exactly is going on here."

Before Xena went to a stable to take care of Argo she said to Gabrielle: "Go to the inn over there,
maybe you'll find out something."

Gabrielle nodded and just wanted to go when Xena stopped her by grabbing her shoulder. In a low
voice she said: "Please be careful."

Gabrielle smiled and this sight felt good for Xena after the conversation this morning. She had missed
Gabrielle's gentle smile, she was rarely smiling anymore.

"I will." Gabrielle replied and then headed towards the inn.

Xena continued her way to the stable and as she got there she noticed that the blacksmith, who was
just shoeing a horse, obviously wasn't pleased to see her.

"How much is it to leave my horse here?" she inquired and the blacksmith coolly answered: "Thirty

Xena stared unbelievingly at him. "Thirty dinars? You're kiddin' right?"

"Listen if you want to leave your horse someplace else, that's fine with me but stop wasting my time."

Xena pulled a face. "Alright. Here's the money." Under different circumstances she would have
taught this guy some manners but she wasn't in the mood to deal further with him at the moment. She
gave him the money and wanted to go when the blacksmith said: "You have to unsaddle your horse
yourself, I got a lot of work to do here."

Xena turned and looked at him dumbfoundedly. "Thirty dinars for having to unsaddle my horse

The man nodded and then said: "I know who you are and you're not welcome here... Xena."

Again Xena frowned. She had had to listen to this kind of talk a thousand times and therefore she
didn't care about his remark too much. "Don't worry I don't intend to stay very long. My horse
needs a little rest that's all."

"That's good. We don't want to have more trouble in our village."

Xena became suspicious and made a step towards the man. "What do you mean? What's going on

The blacksmith didn't answer and continued shoeing the horse.

Xena knew he wouldn't tell her anything unless she got her pinch on him but she rejected this
thought. After all he was just an ordinary villager. Maybe Gabrielle was able to find out anything in
the inn because usually there were a lot of drunks who were willing to give some information. Xena
finally took care of Argo. She took off the saddle, rubbed her dry and brushed her. About twenty
minutes later Argo was chewing contentedly on her hay and Xena could finally follow Gabrielle. She
didn't like letting her out of her sight lately but since she knew how much Gabrielle hated being told
what to do, she had let her go alone to the tavern. Xena passed the blacksmith looking at him and
the horse. Suddenly she stopped and turned abruptly. Had she really recognized what she thought to
have recognized? She slowly stepped towards the horse and studied the brand it had. She hadn't
been wrong and she suddenly had a sick feeling. Fear took turns with anger.

"Gabrielle..." she said now in a low voice and then quickly headed to the inn. Emotionlessly the
blacksmith watched her go.




The first thing Gabrielle noticed when she entered the inn was that only few people were in it. Beside
the landlord there was only one drunk and two figures in a corner of the room who she couldn't
recognise because they were sitting in the dark.

'Strange' she thought. 'Something's wrong here'. Gabrielle went deeper into the room and headed
towards the innkeeper when she heard a voice saying: "Well, if that isn't Xena's little friend..."

Gabrielle recognized the voice immediately and got scared. Why was he here?

The figure stood up now and stepped into the light. It was a well-built, good-looking young man who
was wearing a rich decorated uniform. The helmet which went with it he had under his arm.

"Hello... Gabrielle, was it?" he now added with an arrogant sneer.

Gabrielle didn't know what to say so in a low voice she uttered only the name of the man who was
standing in front of her and with whom she had had more than one encounter.


Caesar smiled. "Yes, it's me. Surprised meeting me here?"

Gabrielle didn't answer because she knew it had only been a rhetorical question.

Caesar came slowly towards her and continued in his arrogant way. "I had to win a little battle in
these parts and when Theodosius the commander of one of my armies told me that Xena is here as
well I didn't want to miss the opportunity." Saying these words Caesar had gone around Gabrielle
looking at her condescendingly. Gabrielle didn't show her fear and anger.

"You know Theodosuis?" This had less been a question of Caesar than a statement of fact when he
pointed at the figure who moved out of the corner and stepped into the light.

Gabrielle recognised him as the farmer who had accompanied her and Xena for a while today. But
now he had replaced the rags with a nice Roman uniform. 'That's why he asked where we were
heading,' she thought.

Caesar stepped back now and made a devaluable gesture.

"Take her."

Two soldiers who hadn't been noticed by Gabrielle before followed the order and approached from
behind. They were just about to grab her when she skilfully whirled her staff and threw one of the
soldiers to the floor. She hit the other one in his soft parts and he fell down as well, his face was
contorted with pain. She turned to the way out now in order to flee and ran straight into the arms of
a third soldier who had just come in. She wanted to take this one out with her staff as well but she
suddenly felt an incredible pain moving through her body. One of the soldiers had regained
consciousness and had hit her head with the handle of his sword. Gabrielle felt losing her footing and
then everything went black.

Caesar looked condescendingly at the young woman who was lying in front of him. He drew a little
knife from the scabbard on his uniform and kneeled down at Gabrielle's side. He put the knife on a
little braid of Gabrielle's hair and cut it off. He picked up the staff and tied the hair on.

"Make sure Xena gets this," he said coolly looking at the innkeeper who nodded, frightened for his

Caesar put on his helmet, looked at Theodosius and indicated to go. They left the inn through a
backdoor. The soldiers who had struggled to their feet again and one of whom was carrying
Gabrielle followed.

The innkeeper watched them go and then he looked at the staff to which the golden hair of the young
woman was tied to.




"Gabrielle!!!" Xena ran into the inn her sword drawn but she couldn't see the bard anywhere. She
looked around carefully and then, after she didn't expect danger anymore she put her sword back
into the scabbard on her back.

At the blacksmith's Xena had recognized a Roman brand on the horse or rather the brand of one of
Caesar's legions. On her way to the tavern she had again seen Alti's vision in her mind's eye and it
wasn't easy to get rid of the thought of Gabrielle's crucifixion.

Xena moved to the innkeeper. "What does he want me to know?" she asked because she knew that
Caesar if he had been here had in any case left a message for her.

The innkeeper picked up the staff which he had put behind the bar and gave it to Xena. "He's just
given me this staff that's all. You got to believe me."

Xena didn't take any notice of the man anymore because she had difficulties to keep a clear head at
the sight of Gabrielle's hair on the staff. Was this to be a harbinger for something forthcoming? In
Alti's vision Xena had seen Gabrielle having short hair. Had the time arrived? Was Alti's vision to
become reality now?

"No," Xena said loud, "...not as long as I can prevent it!" She turned to the owner of the inn again
and asked: "Where are they headed?"

"They left through the backdoor. I don't know where they headed. Caesar mentioned Mount
Pindus, maybe..."

The innkeeper hadn't finished talking when Xena already stormed outside. Caesar wanted to return
to Rome, Xena knew that and she also knew that he actually didn't want Gabrielle but her. Caesar
knew how much Gabrielle meant to Xena and therefore he could use her against her.

Xena ran to the stable in which she had left Argo. She saddled the mare as fast as she could,
mounted her and then left the village heading north-west towards Mount Pindus.




When Gabrielle regained consciousness a terrible pain went through her body. She was lying on the
ground her hands and feet tied behind her back. She had the feeling her arms had been dislocated
because of that. The pain nearly made her pass out again but she fought against it. If she wanted to
get out of here she couldn't afford any weakness. She opened her eyes and wanted to have a look
around but she failed. She still had problems seeing clearly. Again and again she closed her eyes
tightly and tried to concentrate until she finally got over the temporary eye defect. Now she looked
around and she recognized that she was in one of Caesar's tents. She asked herself how long she
had been lying in there she had lost any sense of time. It still seemed to be in the daytime because
she could see daylight through a little gap in the tent. She couldn't take the sight very long because
the light made her eyes hurt. 'If only I hadn't that darn headache' she thought and sighed. Why did
something like that always happen to her? Her thoughts now wandered to Xena. She hadn't thought
about her yet. What had happened to her? Was she also kept as Caesar's prisoner? Gabrielle
recalled that Xena had gone to the stable in the village while she had gone to the inn. Gabrielle was
worried about Xena now, though she actually knew that it wasn't necessary. Xena was able to take
care of herself just fine. However, she couldn't get rid of the thought.

"I gotta get out of here." She said to herself in a low voice and carefully tried to slacken the rope
which held her hands and feet together. The resulting pain let her quickly give up her plan. She
closed her eyes and tried to move as little as possible. Lying on the ground she noticed the noises
drifting from outside into the tent. She could hear the hooves of horses, men who were laughing and
a noise which terrified her very much. She heard hammering and again and again people screaming in
pain. She knew what was happening outside and the first time she thought about Alti's vision and the
possibility that it might come true. She sighed and whispered: "Maybe you were right after all, Xena."




Xena didn't know how long she had been riding now but she noticed Argo getting more and more
exhausted. Argo couldn't go on at this speed and so she reined the mare in and dismounted. She had
to take a break whether she liked it or not. It wouldn't be any use in finding Gabrielle if she drove
Argo to death.

She took the mare's reins and led her along the narrow path. The traces on the ground clearly
indicated that a lot of riders had ridden down this road. Xena wasn't sure how big Caesar's lead
over her was but since she wasn't stupid she knew that her decision to give Argo a little rest by
walking for a while wasn't going to make it any shorter.

She decided to ride on after quite a while. She didn't let Argo run too fast, however. She continued
following the path and suddenly in the distance she could make out something at the side of the road.
She closed her eyes tightly to recognise more and soon she knew what it was. When she reached it
her opinion was confirmed. The thing she had seen was a cross to which a man had been nailed. She
brought Argo to a halt and dismounted. She examined the crucified and it didn't take much to know
that he couldn't be helped anymore. He obviously had already been crucified a few days ago.

Xena bowed her head and said in a low voice: "May Hades be well-disposed towards you."

She mounted Argo again and continued her way wishing she had never met Alti.



It got dark. Gabrielle had been caught in this tent for hours now without anybody looking after her.
Obviously there were only few soldiers in the camp.

Gabrielle had tried to slacken the rope once more but the pain had been too much and so she had
finally given up any efforts to get rid of the rope. The good thing was that her head was a bit better

She startled when suddenly two soldiers stormed into the tent and pulled her hard onto her feet. She
screamed when one of the soldiers untied her but was relieved afterwards. The soldiers grabbed her
and dragged her outside.

"Hey, let go of me!" she protested but that fell on deaf ears. "Where are you taking me?"

The soldiers tagged her to another tent which was very different from the others. It was richly
decorated and there was no doubt for Gabrielle who it belonged to. While being tagged to the tent
she looked round. Only now she saw the crosses which were put up all over the camp. Some of
them already in use the others waiting for someone to be crucified. She looked away. She had never
seen anything so terrible.

The soldiers now pushed her roughly into the tent where she fell to the ground. "Sons of a Bacchae!"
she swore and struggled to her feet.

"Oh, you don't want to get personal, do you." Caesar slowly moved towards Gabrielle and stopped
right in front of her.

Though Gabrielle couldn't stand Caesar's arrogance there was something in his aura which she could
hardly resist.

Caesar who was much taller than Gabrielle looked down at her. There was not a trace of emotion in
his face. Gabrielle by contrast preferred not to look into his eyes because she was afraid he could
see her fear.

"You probably ask yourself why you're here. Aren't you, Gabrielle?" Caesar had this habit to talk in
this smoothly, ironic way that drove Gabrielle nearly crazy.

"To be honest I don't want anything from you. You know who I want." Caesar smiled and Gabrielle
knew he was talking about Xena.

"Xena's got a weakness... and you Gabrielle are this weakness."

That was enough. Gabrielle now glanced at him. "If you hurt Xena..."

"What are you gonna do about it?" he interrupted her. "Do you want to beat me with your little
staff?" Caesar was laughing out loud and Gabrielle got angrier. He used her to get to Xena. The
worst thing was that he was able to succeed because Gabrielle knew that Xena sometimes wasn't
able to stay focussed on something when she was involved.

Caesar got serious again and said with a cold voice: "I really don't want to hurt you but Xena and I
still have an account to settle." Caesar was talking about Britannia where Xena destroyed his army
and with it a part of his pride.

"Xena will soon regret having met me." Caesar turned to his soldiers. "Take her outside." Then he
looked deep into Gabrielle's eyes and held her gaze when he added: "Ten lashes."

The anger Gabrielle had felt only seconds ago was now replaced by fear. Before she was able to
react she was grabbed by the soldiers who dragged her out of the tent. Seeing the two stakes which
were rammed into the ground parallel to each other, she knew what lay ahead of her.

"No, please..." The soldiers ignored her begging. They did their job meticulously by tying her hands
to the poles. The soldiers were none too gentle and her wrists were hurting a lot but compared to
what was about to happen this was the lesser of two evils. One of the soldiers pulled her shirt down
now and she had to suffer the stares of the other soldiers in the camp. She wasn't able to suppress
the tears any longer which had gathered in her eyes and so she just let them flow. With the feeling of
humiliation she wished to have everything behind her.

Caesar came out of his tent now as well and he told a soldier to begin. The soldier nodded and took
a whip. He raised his hand and lashed out.

An incredible pain shot through Gabrielle's body and she screamed. The soldier lashed once more
and again there was this pain. Over and over again Gabrielle heard the noise of the whip and the
laughter of the soldiers until finally she felt warm blood flowing down her back. Shortly after she lost

Caesar stood in front of his tent smiling. He obviously enjoyed the spectacle. "I think you'll like that...




It was dawn already and Xena could hardly suppress the fatigue she felt because she hadn't stopped
for the night. On her way she had discovered more crucified bodies of which some must have been
on the crosses for weeks. She had been afraid to find Gabrielle on one of the crosses and she got
more and more worried. She wondered how long Caesar had already been in these parts. She
knew, however, that Caesar would stop at nothing to reach his goal.

Xena thought of the day she had first met Gabrielle and a smile appeared in the corners of her
mouth. Gabrielle had been such a naive, young girl who, to be honest, sometimes had gotten on
Xena's nerves. But in the years they had been travelling together Xena had grown to love Gabrielle
like she had never loved anyone else. She wouldn't forgive herself if something would happen to the
bard, she was sure about that.

Her fear about Gabrielle let her drive Argo faster.

It didn't take long and Xena could hear voices in the distance. She reined Argo in and dismounted.
After she had left her in a little wood Xena headed into the direction the voices had come from. The
nearer she came the louder the voices got and soon she had reached the camp of the Romans. They
had set it up in the valley of Mount Pindus and Xena had a good overview from the hill she was
looking down from. There was only one small tent which was guarded by a soldier. There weren't
many soldiers, Xena guessed about twenty-five. Now she saw the crosses which were all over the
camp. She got angry she had never seen a more brutal method of torture. She looked towards the
center of the camp now and the sight awaiting her let her blood freeze. On two stakes there was the
figure of a blond woman and Xena knew at once that it was Gabrielle.

"Gabrielle..." Xena saw the blood on Gabrielle's back and she had a hard time keeping her anger
under control. She would have just loved to storm into the camp to free Gabrielle but she knew that
such act would kill Gabrielle immediately because of the soldiers nearby. She had to be careful and
so she slowly sneaked up to the camp. She had almost reached it when she saw a figure coming out
of the tent approaching Gabrielle. Xena recognized Caesar and she pulled a face. She had never
hated anyone that much and this time he had gone too far... this time she would kill him.




Caesar slowly stepped towards Gabrielle whose unconscious body hung weakly from the stakes. He
ordered the soldier, who had guarded his tent to him.

"Cut her loose and take her into my tent."

"Yes, great Caesar." The soldier made a movement with his hand which was known as Caesar's
salutation. Caesar stepped back into his tent.

The soldier went beside Gabrielle and cut down the rope around her wrists letting her fall hard to the
ground. He pulled her up and laid her over his shoulder. He obviously didn't have any problems
carrying the young woman because he easily walked towards Caesar's tent and disappeared in it.

Caesar was already waiting for him. He was sitting at a table eating grapes and drinking wine out of
a beautiful goblet.

The soldier dropped the bard at Caesar's feet. She rolled on her back which was covered with dirt.

Caesar looked down at the woman who was lying in front of his feet stripped to the waist. He sighed
and ordered: "Cover her."

The Roman nodded left the tent and shortly after he came back with some rags in his hands. He
kneeled down to Gabrielle and wrapped the rags around the upper part of her body. It was just
enough to cover her breasts.

Caesar stood up now. The goblet still holding in his hand he went up to Gabrielle. Then he turned to
his soldier and said: "Keep your eyes open. Xena can't be away too far anymore. Be careful, she's

The soldier nodded again and left.

Caesar looked at Gabrielle and poured the rest of wine into her face. Smelling the liquid and feeling it
on her skin she regained consciousness. She wanted to stand up but she didn't succeed straightaway
because she was in great pain. Finally succeeding she felt fresh blood on her back. The movement
had opened her wounds and after only a short time the rags she was wearing were soaked in blood.

This sight didn't concern Caesar. On the contrary he seemed to enjoy it.

"So, did you sleep well?"

Gabrielle looked at him angrily. His arrogance was intolerable. She struggled to her feet finally
standing upright in front of him. Though she was in pain she tried to stay this way. She didn't want
Caesar to have the triumph of her being weak.

"Brave little girl." Caesar shook his head and put a finger under Gabrielle's chin lifting it up to see into
her eyes. "I have to admit that I admire your perseverance. It's a shame I have to kill you."

Hearing this comment Gabrielle spit onto Caesar's feet.

Anger appeared on Caesar's face. "That was very stupid." Having spoken these words he slapped
into her face and she fell down.

"Guard!" Caesar called and a soldier came into the tent saluting. "Get her out of here and tie her to
the stakes again." The soldier obeyed his order, pulled Gabrielle to her feet and dragged her outside.
Gabrielle was too weak to do anything and so she just let it submit to her. Soon she was tied to the
stakes again her wrists chafed and in pain.




Meanwhile Xena had reached the camp being only a few meters away from Gabrielle. She hadn't
been sighted yet, instead she saw a soldier who was following the call of nature. She sneaked up on
him from behind and broke his neck. The soldier slowly slid to the ground.

Xena faced Gabrielle and decided to act before Gabrielle got even more hurt. She did her war cry
and stormed into the center of the camp holding her sword she had drawn in her hand. Almost every
soldier was coming towards her but she fought them as good as possible. Again and again her sword
plunged into her enemies' bodies which fell to the ground.

Caesar who had come out of his tent in the meantime watched the fight impatiently. "Get her!!!" He
ordered though his soldiers were already doing their best.

During the fight Xena heard Caesar's words and tried to have a look at Gabrielle but she didn't get
the chance because the soldiers seemed to get more and soon she got wounded. One Roman had
grazed her hip and though the wound wasn't that serious it was enough to distract Xena for a
second. The soldiers beat her with their fists and losing her balance she got to the ground.

Caesar smiled satisfied but his smile disappeared from his face as fast as it had appeared.

The moment the soldiers wanted to grab Xena, she struggled to her feet swinging her sword. The
blade cut the men's bodies. Xena didn't show any mercy she killed every soldier who dared to
attack her.

Caesar realised that the soldiers who were left would eventually fall and so he went to Gabrielle and
cut her lose. She was the only weapon he had left. If he wasn't able to capture Xena right now he
would at least use the young woman who meant so much to Xena as decoy. He didn't want to stay
there, however, he wanted the game to be played after his rules and on his playground.

"Retreat!!!" he ordered which was immediately obeyed by his men who ran to their horses, mounted
and left the camp with their commander. Caesar left everything behind, even his tent. Xena was quite
surprised about the promptness of the events. Caesar was heading towards the mountains and Xena
had to follow as fast as possible. She whistled and shortly after Argo was galloping towards her. She
just wanted to mount the mare when a pain shot through her body which came from the wound at
her hip. She examined it and unfortunately she had to realise that the blade of the soldier's sword had
cut deeper into her flesh than she'd first expected. She had no other choice but to stitch it since the
loss of blood would weaken her and that was the last thing she wanted to happen now. She reached
into one of Argo's saddlebags to get the tools she needed to take care of the wound. She stitched
faster than she had ever stitched a wound before and when she had finished she finally mounted
Argo. Suddenly she saw something lying on the ground which she hadn't noticed before. She
dismounted once more, kneeled down and took the green piece of clothing into her hands.
"Gabrielle." Xena tightly hold the shirt which belonged to Gabrielle smelling on it. There was still
Gabrielle's familiar and pleasant smell on it.

Thoughts shot through Xena's mind unwilling to stop. She had been so near to Gabrielle, she could
have saved her and now she was at the point she had started again. Xena looked once more into the
direction she had seen Caesar but it wasn't anything recognizable anymore. He and his men had
already crossed the first hill and were now out of sight. Xena didn't want to waste any more time and
headed into the direction Caesar had disappeared.




Gabrielle was freezing. The farther they followed the path leading into the mountains the colder it got.
At least she had been allowed to sit upright on the horse since this was much more comfortable than
lying over the saddle. Seeing the snowy slopes in the distance Gabrielle had to think about the vision
again. Xena had told her that the crosses on which they were supposed to die had lain in the snow.
She sighed. This vision slowly began to affect her as well.

She shook her head. Why did they believe her anyway? Alti had been an evil shamaness who would
have done anything to take vengeance on Xena who hadn't been willing to follow her way then.
Gabrielle felt so helpless. She wasn't only held prisoner by an unscrupulous sovereign but she was
also a prisoner of fear concerning her future. A shiver moved through her body. It got colder from
minute to minute and the only things she was wearing were her skirt and the blood soaked rags
wrapped around the upper part of her body. The good thing about the cold was the fact that the pain
coming from the weals on her back was slightly numbed by it. Gabrielle also felt a little sick which
wasn't surprising since she hadn't eaten anything for almost two days.

She gave up her thoughts when she saw a rider who rode in a gallop towards Caesar and the bunch
of soldiers that were left.

Caesar who was riding a few meters in front of her lifted his hand signalizing his soldiers to stop. The
rider reined his horse in beside Caesar and Gabrielle recognized that it was Brutus. He had a few
words with Caesar which Gabrielle wasn't able to understand because she was out of earshot. She
was able, however, to see Caesar's facial expression which indicated anything but joy. She could see
his anger and there was hesitation as well. He pointed at the soldiers and shrugged his shoulders.
Again they talked and then Brutus drove his horse on passing the soldiers and Gabrielle.

Caesar again made a hand signal while turning his horse. His soldiers did the same and also turned.

Gabrielle frowned and as Caesar rode towards her his face full of anger she felt weak in the knees.

"Well, it looks like there is a change of plans," he angrily meant stopping in front of her. "I have to
deal with much more important problems than you and Xena now."

Gabrielle didn't know what he was talking about but judging by his tone it couldn't be anything good.

"You're not much use to me now. You'll just be an unnecessary burden and I can't afford that."

Caesar glanced at the soldier who was holding the reins of Gabrielle's horse and ordered three
further soldiers to him. "Do what you will with her," he said emotionlessly.

The soldiers sneered which Gabrielle didn't like at all.

"Oh, would you tell Xena, of course only in case you're still alive when she finds you, that this
definitely wasn't our last encounter. She will pay someday for everything she has done... including
minimising my army when I most need it." Having spoken these words Caesar drove on his horse
and rode, followed by his army, back into the direction they had come from. Gabrielle still didn't get
what was going on and the thing she couldn't understand at all was Caesar leaving four soldiers with
her though he had just blamed Xena for having minimised his army. Gabrielle slightly shook her head
she didn't want to think about it anymore because now she had to deal with the soldiers who were
grinning at her lecherously.




Argo could only go at a walking pace along the steep, rocky path which led into the mountains.
Xena wasn't very happy about that but that couldn't be helped. Suddenly she saw Caesar and his
men coming towards her and she couldn't believe her eyes. Not long ago she had asked herself if the
rider she had seen had been Brutus since she hadn't been able to recognize him from the distance,
but now...

Caesar was several hundred meters away from her still Xena led Argo behind a bigger rock to get
out of his sight. Xena squinted through half-closed eyes searching for Gabrielle. But much as she
tried she couldn't see her anywhere. Xena got tensed she didn't like the thought of Caesar not having
Gabrielle with him. Xena would have loved to storm out of her hiding place to get an answer to the
question where Gabrielle was. Xena shook her head and gave this thought up. She preferred waiting
for the men who brought up the rear. The Romans came nearer to her hiding place and she took up
her position by dismounting Argo and climbing onto the rock. Caesar was too far away in the
meantime therefore he wouldn't notice anything.

"YiYiYiYiYiYiYiYiYi!!!" Xena jumped down the rock when the riders had reached it throwing one
of them out of the saddle. She didn't hesitate long, draw her sword and plunged it into the man's
chest. Then she turned to the other Roman who was too shocked to react leading to his downfall.
Before he was able to do anything in his defence Xena had already pulled him off his horse and
putting her pinch on him. He tumbled to his knees and looked helplessly up to the warrior.

Xena grinned and regarded coolly: "I just cut off the flow of blood to your brain and you'll be dead in
thirty seconds if you don't answer me some questions."

"What... do you... want... to know?" The soldier gasped.

"First of all what's happened to Gabrielle?"

"Caesar left... her... behind... there are..." The Roman had great difficulties to talk because he could
hardly breathe.

"There are what?" Xena pressed.

"There are... four... soldiers with... her..."

A smile appeared on Xena's face. She could handle four soldiers. "Now tell me why Caesar
returned? What's he up to?"

The Roman choked and blood was already dropping from his nose, the thirty seconds had almost
passed. "I don't... know... what he's... after... I don't... know... anything."

Xena grimaced knowing that the man in front of her was saying the truth. She restored the flow of
blood and the soldier fell down coughing. Xena pulled him up again and slammed her fist into his
face. The Roman lost consciousness.

Xena ran back to the rock Argo was standing. She mounted the horse and continued her way riding
along the rocky path into the mountains. She couldn't and she didn't want to think about Caesar's
plans now she had to worry about Gabrielle.




"Well, what are we gonna do with her?" The Roman soldier first grinned at Gabrielle and then at his

"I could imagine, Praxedis," the second soldier of them said.

Gabrielle was sitting on the ground surrounded by four Roman soldiers whose intentions seemed to
be clear. She tried as good as possible to prepare for what was awaiting her. If only she had her
staff. She swore regretting to have ever entered the inn in Tricca.

"We're not going to do such thing." The words were surprising and Gabrielle looked thoroughly at
the soldier who had said them. He wasn't much different from the others, maybe a bit younger but
otherwise than that he wasn't the type of man women liked.

"What do you mean, Patroclus?" The others looked dumbfoundedly at him.

"It means that we won't pounce on her like animals."

Patroclus had just finished when Praxedis protested: "But look at her! When do you get the chance
to have something with such a woman."

"We are soldiers of Rome and we're not going to behave like animals." Patroclus seemed very
determined and Gabrielle was glad about that.

"Patroclus, she is Greek..." the fourth soldier joined in the conversation. "Greek aren't worth to be
worried about and besides their women are just here for our pleasure."

"Tiberius is right. I won't miss this chance and that's why I'm gonna be the first one." Saying these
words Praxedis pulled Gabrielle to her feet.

"Let go of her... now!" Patroclus had drawn his sword holding it at Praxedis' throat who pushed
Gabrielle back to the ground.

"What in Tartarus is wrong with you? You're not in command. You don't have any rights giving

"One last time... we're not going to abuse her!"

"We'll see about that." Tiberius drew his sword and plunged it into Patroclus' back.

Gabrielle was so surprised about this action she startled. Patroclus turned to Tiberius looking
shocked out of glazed eyes at him. It didn't take long and he fell to the ground his eyes still open. The
blood colored the snow red.

"Are you out of your mind? What in Hades' name did you think you're doing?" Praxedis stared
dumbfoundedly at Tiberius who pulled a face.

"What's the problem? He threatened to kill you in the first place." Tiberius' words were cold and
without any emotion. He then turned to Gabrielle. "Well, and now to you little girl."

Gabrielle closed her eyes when she was pulled to her feet again and pushed to a nearby rock. She
knocked with her back against it which caused a terrible pain in her body. She felt Tiberius bending
over her breathing down her neck. His hands wandered over her body and when they slid under her
skirt she was on the verge of tears.

Suddenly she heard this noise... the familiar hiss. It got louder and when she opened her eyes she
saw Tiberius' having a deep cut at his throat. Blood was pouring out of it and she pushed the soldier
away from her. Then she saw the chakram bouncing off a rock and returning to its owner. The two
remaining soldiers looked distraught around. It had happened so fast they didn't know what exactly
had just happened. They were to find out soon because now they saw Xena riding towards them.
She did a somersault off her horse and came to a halt in front of the men.

"I'm here to get my friend," she said calmly drawing her sword.

Praxedis drew his sword as well and ran towards her. A fight broke out which was soon lost by the
soldier who was plunged by Xena's sword. He looked unbelievingly at the wound in his stomach and
fell to the ground.

"Now it's your turn." Xena grinned at the last soldier who looked at her with fear.

"Please, spare me!" he begged throwing away his sword.

Xena looked expressionlessly at him walking towards him. As he got on his knees she raised her
sword and wanted to move in for the kill when she was held back by Gabrielle' voice.


She turned to Gabrielle looking into her soft eyes.

"Please don't kill him."

Xena followed the request and put her sword down.

"Thank you," was the only thing the soldier was able to say before he got the handle of Xena's sword
into his face and lost consciousness.

Xena's eyes again met with Gabrielle's and tears gathered in it. She dropped her sword and ran
towards Gabrielle, enclosing her in her arms and holding her tight.

"I'm so sorry," she whispered when they tumbled to their knees still embracing each other.

Gabrielle was crying and Xena tried to comfort her by stroking her hair. "Sssh, it's gonna be okay...
everything's gonna be okay." Xena couldn't quite believe her own words because she knew
Gabrielle was too sensitive to just forget the events of the past few days.

"Let's get out of here." Xena helped Gabrielle up who propped up on her. She helped her to get
onto Argo and then mounted behind her. She drove the mare on wanting to leave this place as fast
as possible.




The sun had set and the fire Xena had made crackled. They had covered a long way and now they
had set up camp in a little wood nearby a river. Xena had gone to the river to fill her water bottle and
to water Argo.

Gabrielle had eaten something in the meantime and was lying on a blanket now. She lay on her
stomach because the weals on her back caused a lot of pain. When Xena came back and saw
Gabrielle lying on the ground, wrapped in rags which were soaked in blood her heart nearly broke.
Gabrielle was such a good soul and the dearest thing in the world to her and Xena couldn't get the
thought of the pain which had been caused to her out of her mind. She wondered how many more
times their being together would hurt Gabrielle. She loved this woman more than anything and that
didn't make the situation any easier. Xena swallowed and wiped away the tears rolling down her
cheek. She kneeled down beside Gabrielle and said in a low voice: "I got to examine your back. It
might hurt."

Gabrielle sighed. "Xena believe me I had to deal with more pain the last few days than ever before...
so this isn't gonna kill me."

Xena forced a smile on her face. Gabrielle was so brave but Xena knew in reality the bard was
afraid of the pain that's why Xena tried to be very careful.

"Gabrielle, I have to take off the rags. It would be helpful if you sat upright."

Gabrielle sat up moaning and though Xena had used her pressure points on her she could still feel
some pain. Gabrielle was now sitting with her back towards Xena who carefully started to take off
the rags. Gabrielle winced with every movement, the blood on her back was already dry and there
were abrasions from the rags being removed from her body. Xena knew that had to hurt but
Gabrielle bravely clenched her teeth. When Xena had taken off the last rag her jaw dropped seeing
Gabrielle's back. It looked worse than she had expected: some of the wounds caused by the whip
had become inflamed. Xena took the water bottle she had filled a few minutes ago and put some of
the water on a clean piece of cloth. Slowly she wiped the blood and dirt off Gabrielle's back and
suddenly she heard a sob. Gabrielle was crying the pain seemed to torture her very much.

"Gabrielle, I know it hurts but I got to clean the wounds it's..."

"I'm afraid, Xena." Gabrielle's words had interrupted Xena who stopped distraught.


"It's this vision... I've... the last days I've thought about it the first time. It seemed so close..."
Gabrielle looked over her shoulder at Xena. "Do you know what I mean?"

Xena looked down she couldn't look into Gabrielle's eyes. Her guilt was too big.

"Yes," was her short answer. She wiped away the rest of the blood and dirt on Gabrielle's back then
rubbed in arnica and finally wrapped an bandage around Gabrielle's upper part of the body.

"Gabrielle," Xena now said softly and Gabrielle turned around to her. They sat face to face and their
eyes met. Xena looked carefully at Gabrielle and noticed once again how beautiful the young woman
was. "Gabrielle," she repeated, "I wasn't able to think of anything else in the last few days. This vision
is driving me crazy. You're... you're the most important thing in my life and the thought of losing

Gabrielle suddenly put two fingers on Xena's lips to stop her from continuing.

"I love you, Xena."

Xena slightly smiled a tear falling down her cheek. "I love you too, Gabrielle."

They didn't look away from each other and Gabrielle put her hand on Xena's cheek wiping away the
tear. Her hand lingered there for a moment and finally Gabrielle hesitatingly bent forward. She didn't
look away waiting for a reaction. Nothing happened and so she closed her eyes her lips finally
meeting Xena's. There was something happening with Gabrielle. She had never felt so strongly for
anybody and she knew she wanted to spent the rest of her life with the woman known as the warrior
princess no matter the consequences.

Gabrielle took her lips off Xena's mouth and looked her. It had been a short but still intense kiss and
Gabrielle had been longing for it a long time.

Xena smiled at Gabrielle. The kiss had been surprising but still she had enjoyed it and judging by
Gabrielle's facial expression she felt the same.

"Thank you, Xena." Gabrielle suddenly said and Xena looked at her nonplussed.

"For what?"

Gabrielle smiled and answered: "You. For being here."

Hearing this confession Xena's smile suddenly disappeared from her face. She stood up and went to
Argo to unsaddle her.

Gabrielle watched her go. "What's wrong?" she asked confused.

Xena turned round to the bard. Her face showed despair.

"What's wrong?" she repeated Gabrielle's question. "Look at you. Can't you see what's wrong?"
There was despair in her voice as well and it mixed with anger when she continued. "Gabrielle, open
your eyes! Can't you see I'm hurting you? You really don't have to thank me for that! I'm sick and
tired of hurting you... I... I love you, dammit!" Xena was shouting these words she hadn't been able
to keep her desperation under control any longer.

Gabrielle tried to stay calm which wasn't easy because she would have liked to grab Xena and to
shake her about to bring her to her senses. Gabrielle knew, however that this wouldn't help to solve
the problem and since she loved Xena she had to make a decision. While kissing Xena she had been
so sure to spend the rest of her life with her and though she didn't want to be it any different she still
knew that for Xena's sake she had to forget about this thought. Under pain she stood up and walked
to her.

"Xena, you know I love you..." she paused for a moment. "...but I think under these circumstances
the best thing we could do is going our separate ways from now on." Gabrielle looked at Xena
expectantly. Xena slightly nodded and so Gabrielle continued. "I'll stay back in the next village we're
gonna reach tomorrow." Having made her intention clear Gabrielle went back to her sleeping place
and laid down again. She was glad lying on her stomach with her back to Xena because she couldn't
hold her tears back anymore.

Xena tried to suppress her pain but it was no use. In a low voice hardly audible she said: "It's better
this way... it's got to be."

Xena didn't lay down beside Gabrielle this night she just couldn't do it.





She looked at Gabrielle who was lying beside her with outstretched arms tied to a cross on the

Gabrielle turned her head to face Xena also being tied to a cross. Snowflakes were falling into
Gabrielle's face radiating such calmness.

"'re the best thing in my life."

"I love you, Xena." She heard Gabrielle say and then she saw her smile. She seemed so calm... full
of inner peace.

A Roman soldier now put a little wooden plate between the rope around Gabrielle's left wrist to
offer the nail which was supposed to penetrate into the flesh more support. Another soldier did the
same at the other wrist.

Xena felt her own pain now which moved through her hand when a nail was driven through it. But
she didn't look away from Gabrielle. She saw the soldier at Gabrielle's side putting a nail on her wrist
into position, raising the mallet in his hand and lashing out. Gabrielle's scream of pain echoed in the

Xena awoke with a start, covered in sweat and gasping for air. She couldn't think straight. Again this
dream of the vision in which she saw more than Alti had actually shown her. She asked herself if this
nightmare would ever end. She slowly regained looking over to Gabrielle who was lying on her
stomach but still sound asleep. Xena thought about everything changing the following day because
they would separate. As much as she loved Gabrielle she knew their being together would eventually
lead to her death and she didn't want that to happen. She laid down again now but didn't make any
effort to fall asleep since she knew she would just fail.




Xena hadn't slept a wink all night like she'd expected and therefore she was totally drained now. She
got up to wake up Gabrielle who was still sleeping.

"Gabrielle," Xena slightly prodded the bard, "we have to move on."

Gabrielle slowly moved and finally she sat up. Her face still showed pain and so Xena got fresh
arnica from Argo's saddlebags.

"Stay this way I'll put some new arnica onto the wounds." She removed the bandage and examined
Gabrielle's back. It didn't look much better than the day before and Xena knew the wounds would
take their time to heal... not only the physical ones. She put the arnica onto the bard's soft skin and
afterwards she wrapped a new bandage around her body.

"How far is it till the next village?" Gabrielle inquired and Xena had to admit that she had not the
slightest idea.

"I don't know. I hope though it's not too far." Xena went to Argo in order to saddle the mare asking
Gabrielle if she would like to have breakfast before they would set off camp. Gabrielle said no and
suggested to eat something on the way.

When Xena had finished saddling Argo she said: "You're gonna ride. You're not to make any efforts
I don't want the wounds to break open again."

Gabrielle didn't respond and silently mounted Argo. Both women avoided the subject of last night
they didn't want to think about it. Not now anyway. Xena packed the rest of their stuff and then they
set off.




They had been travelling for hours now and hadn't had a word with each other up to now. But the
silence finally got too much for Xena.

Gabrielle," she started Gabrielle looking down at her. "About yesterday... I hope you know it's the
best..., for both of us."

Gabrielle didn't answer not wanting to. Yes, she knew it would be better, at least for Xena but still
she couldn't bear the thought.

Xena looked at Gabrielle sadly. Tomorrow at the same time she would be travelling without the bard
and amazon queen. Xena didn't expect an answer from Gabrielle and continued their way, again
without having any words with each other.




Xena was relieved when she finally made out a little village in the distance. But she was also very sad
because it meant the time to say goodbye had arrived.

They soon had reached the village and Xena who was holding Argo's reins led the mare towards an
inn. She helped Gabrielle to dismount and then they entered the inn. Xena went to the innkeeper
while Gabrielle sat down at a table at which already two men were sitting.

"By the gods. What happened to you girl?" One of them asked noticing the bandage around
Gabrielle's body.

Gabrielle smiled at the man. "It's not that bad, really." Gabrielle lied since she wasn't in the mood for
small talk.

The man got a bit closer to Gabrielle glancing around nervously. "I don't know if it's safe for you and
your friend here." He paused looking to Xena who was talking to the innkeeper. "Didn't you notice
there aren't any women and children in the village?"

Gabrielle frowned. Now that the man was mentioning it she thought about it. She really hadn't seen
any women or children. "What... what's going on here? Where are they?"

"We brought them to safety..." the man was continuing in a very low voice and Gabrielle could hardly
understand him. "The word is that Caesar's army will come into our village. We don't want him to
harm our women and children."

Gabrielle got uncomfortable hearing the name Caesar. "What does Caesar want in this village?"

"It seems to be important to him. He's fighting against one of our armies near Thebae. Yesterday
there was a huge legion coming through our village. They came directly from Rome. As far as I know
is Brutus their commander. Unfortunately they are about to win."

Gabrielle knew what Caesar's intention was. "If he wins he'll occupy all the villages nearby enslaving
their inhabitants."

The man nodded and now the other one joined in the conversation. "That's what we thought as well
and that's why we send our women and kids away. But we stayed to fight Caesar. We're no
cowards we will fight as long as possible."

Gabrielle shook her head. "You can't do that. You don't have a chance Caesar's army will slaughter

The men bowed their heads and one replied sadly: "We're aware of that. But this is our home we
can't just let Caesar it have it without a fight." With these words the man stood up and before his
friend did the same he advised: "Leave the village as long as you still can."

"But..." Gabrielle watched the men leaving the inn. The situation was so familiar to her and she didn't
want to be dragged into one of Caesar's battles again.

"Gabrielle I got a room for ya." Xena had appeared beside Gabrielle but she didn't react. "Gabrielle?
You're alright? I just said..."

"Caesar's here."


Gabrielle looked at Xena who had sat down in front of her. "Caesar's in these parts at a place called
Thebae. His army is fighting against one of our armies."

Xena sighed. Didn't this ever stop? She had the feeling Caesar was following her everywhere she
went... and suddenly she realized something which she had never really thought about.

We're leaving," she said calmly.

"What? I thought we had an agreement. I wanted to stay here, remember?!"

Xena seemed very determined. "Gabrielle, I'm not gonna leave you in this village knowing Caesar's
somewhere out there. End of discussion."

Gabrielle pulled a face. She hated her saying that. She always got the feeling to be treated like a little
child who didn't know how to take care of itself.

Xena reached over the table taking Gabrielle's hands into hers. "I know we wanted to go our
separate ways from here on..." she started with a soft voice looking deeply into the bard's eyes. "But
I just realized that we can't run away from our destiny no matter what we do or where ever we go."

Gabrielle slightly shook her head in disagreement. "You've always said that we control our own

Xena bowed her head looking depressed to the ground. "And I've meant every word of it but is
going separate ways the right choice? What if the vision will happen just because of that? Everything
we do can lead to our..." Xena didn't say it because it hurt too much.

Gabrielle put a finger under Xena's chin lifting her head. She looked into her eyes which were full of
love and Gabrielle knew the warrior was right.

"Xena, when Caesar left me behind with his soldiers he said something to me.... He said that this
surely hasn't been our last encounter. I think he was right." Gabrielle softly stroke over Xena's cheek.
"If this is to be our destiny then we'll die on these crosses..." Gabrielle was on the verge of tears and
when she continued she couldn't hold them back anymore. "Xena, I want you to know that you're
the most important person in my life and the thought of having to die soon is not as bad as all
because... " she had to pause for a moment before she was able to go on. "...because I know that
you'll be with me the moment I die."

Tears slipped out over Xena's cheek. She loved Gabrielle so much and she wondered why her of all
people had to have such destiny. "I love you, Gabrielle."

Gabrielle slightly smiled. "I love you too, Xena. We'll just stick this out together, alright?!"

Xena nodded and in a low voice she replied: "We will... together."




Sometime in the future.

"Gabrielle... you're the best thing in my life."

"I love you, Xena."


The End

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