End of the Road

by Michelle U.

 

 

 

Disclaimer: Not my characters, owned by Ren Pics and company. The first few lines were taken from the original finale, itís the tone I would have set for this last episode. I just chose to take it and run in the opposite direction:)

Content: Nothing you wouldnít find in the show. Tried to keep it as much like what youíd see on TV as I could. Itís also why itís in script form. Comments at MRU25@aol.com.

 


 

 

 

(just hitting twilight, a full moon in the sky. Xena and Gabrielle lay looking up):

 

GABRIELLE

Looking out at the cosmos, makes you thinkÖabout where we are, where weíve been, where weíre going now.

XENA

Yeah, and like the bigger now. I mean, Gabrielle, what are we gonna do? Wander around Greece our whole lives, looking for trouble? After Eveís visit, why donít we go away--far away. What do you say?

 

GABRIELLE

(interested) Where would we go?

 

XENA

Letís go south to the land of the pharohs. I hear theyíre in need of a girl with a chakram.

 

GABRIELLE

Speaking of deserts, whereís the water?

 

XENA

(rolls her eyes) Not again.

 

GABRIELLE

What, you donít like it? (she stands up and walks over to a water bag. Slings it over her head, then turns as if posing)

 

XENA

I like it, but do you really have to model it every half hour? (leans on her side to better watch Gabrielle)

 

GABRIELLE

Iím not Ďmodelingí. I just love the design on it. And this shoulder brace, (she fingers a large square of leather threaded through the strap) makes it so comfortable to carry.

 

 

XENA

(in a grand dame type voice) Thatís fabulous.

 

GABRIELLE

(hears a sound from the forest) You know that there is somebody out there? (she frowns) It couldnít be Eve already.

 

XENA

(standing) No, whoever it is has been trying to find us the past half-hourÖHurry and drink up. Iím tired of waiting. (Gabrielle nods her agreement and lifts the bag to her lips. The brace falls off her shoulder and down her back. The sound of an arrow cutting through the air is heard and then it strikes Gabrielle in the back. She gasps and, dropping the water bag from her lips, falls to her knees in front of Xena in obvious pain. Xena is in complete shock.)

 

XENA

Gabrielle? (just as she is about to come over to her, a big bear of a man steps out of the trees, pulling a formidable ax from behind him)

 

DAGA

Now that sheís down, Iíve come for the head.

 

XENA

(still stunned) You what?

 

DAGA

Thereís no collecting the bounty without proof. (he spins the ax easily). And I mean to have it.

 

XENA

(looks at him for another second, then launches at him. An intense battle ensues, the man big and skillful enough to pose a challenge, yet Xena eventually separates him from his weapon. Just as she is about to thrust her blade into him)

 

GABRIELLE

(coughing, gasping) Xena, wait.

 

XENA

(looks over, beyond relieved.) Are you all right?

 

GABRIELLE

(standing unsteadily, pulls the strap around front. The arrow is stuck in the leather square shoulder brace, the tip through and it only barely pierced her skin. She reaches around behind her back, then winces) Itís just a scratch, but the force knocked the wind out of me.

 

XENA

(notices the big man starting to roll away, points the blade at his neck) Where do you think youíre going? (reaches down and grabs him, drags him over to where Gabrielle is looking to sit down. Drops him, then puts a foot on his neck) Stay. (to Gabrielle) Let me look.

 

GABRIELLE

(turning to oblige) Lucky for me, I liked the design on this. (holds up the bag and damaged shoulder brace)

 

XENA

(runs a couple of fingers around the wound, Gabrielle sucks in her breath a bit in pain, Xena winces in sympathy) ďLuckyĒ doesnít even begin to describe it. (remembers the man under her foot, kicks him over on his back and points the blade at him) Explain yourself, right now. (he turns his head as if refusing to answer and Xena puts her blade on him) I wouldnít do that, youíll only tempt me.

 

DAGA

(spitting) Itís her. (gesturing towards Gabrielle) Herod of Ragnock has put a death bounty on her large enough to last several life times.

 

GABRIELLE

On me? (looks to Xena) I donít even know the man.

 

DAGA

The story I heard is he has something personal to settle with Xena, and he wants to start with killing you. (Xena looks over at Gabrielle) To collect the money, I have to bring in your head.

 

XENA

(suddenly furious, grabs him and pulls him up off the ground) No bounty for you today.

 

 

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(Daga is tied to a tree not far from their fire. Xena is sitting at one side of the fire, fuming. Gabrielle is on the other, watching her. Xena starts to speak.)

 

GABRIELLE

Donít say it. Donít even think it.

 

XENA

Gabrielle, you know the thought of us being apart is a horror to me, but to think youíll always be in danger for some past action of mine...

 

 

GABRIELLE

Weíll deal with this like weíve dealt with all the others; together.

 

XENA

I donít want to see you suffer anymore for my mistakes. I canít bear it, and with my history, there will always be that possibility.

GABRIELLE

I accept that.

 

XENA

Well, you shouldnít. (stands up) I have to walk.

 

GABRIELLE

(grabs her water bag and throws it to Xena) While youíre at it.

 

(Xena is near the stream with the water bag. She is leaning against a tree, looking down into the water. Her eyes travel downstream and fall on a plant familiar to her. She looks down at the water bag, then back at the plant. Something settles into her face, and she goes for the plant, pulling it out, roots and all.)

 

 

(Gabrielle is trying to wipe down her wound, but is having trouble reaching. Xena walks into the light of the fire, carrying the water bag in one hand, much calmer than when she left. She heads toward Gabrielle and sits, turning Gabrielle away from her.)

 

XENA

Let me help you. (she takes the cloth and pours some of the water from the bag onto it. She caps the bag and drops it at her feet, then presses the cloth gently on top of the cut)

 

GABRIELLE

(tries to arch away from it) Ahhh! Cold! Itís cold!

 

XENA

(puts a hand on Gabrielleís shoulder to still her) It will help keep the swelling down, now be still.

 

GABRIELLE

(tries to be still. Reaches up and lays her hand on top of Xenaís that is on her shoulder) Xena, I know itís hard for youÖ

 

XENA

No, youíre right. I just canít talk about it now.

 

GABRIELLE

Ok.

 

XENA

(kicks the bag at her) Drink. Youíll need to keep hydrated.

 

GABRIELLE

Itís just a scratch.

 

XENA

That could get infected, that could give you a fever, that couldÖ

 

GABRIELLE

All right! See, here I go. (she drops her hand from Xenaís, picks up the bag and takes several long drinks)

 

XENA

(watches her intently. When Gabrielle puts down the bag) Now why donít you lay down for a bit, (she pulls the cloth away) and Iíll put this back on you.

 

GABRIELLE

(settles down lying on her stomach while Xena rewets the cloth, then places it on the arrow wound. Gabrielle jumps a little again, but she is already getting sleepy. Xena sits down next to her, placing her hand on Gabrielleís back. Just as she is falling asleep) Xena? Please donít ask me to go away from you.

 

XENA

I wonít.

 

 

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(Xena is gathering her things with Daga watching, interested. He finally figures out whatís going on when she drops something that makes a huge racket. She looks over at Gabrielle, who doesnít stir, then resumes her packing.)

 

DAGA

You drugged her. (laughs) Now thatís the woman Iíve heard tales about.

 

XENA

Shut up.

 

DAGA

Youíre running away, then? (laughs again) Who would have thought the great warrior princess would turn coward, leaving her friend to die.

 

 

XENA

(furious, gets right up in his face with her blade) I am not leaving her to die. I am leaving her so that sheíll live. (stares at him another few seconds to make sure he gets it, then turns back to packing)

 

DAGA

It wonít save her. Herod doesnít care if sheís with you; he just wants her dead. (Xena finishes up her packing and moves over to Gabrielle.)

XENA

(looks at Gabrielle a long time, then puts a hand out, stroking her hair) I hope you will understand this one day. Iím afraid. If something happens to you, I am afraid of what I would become. (she stills her hand) I donít want to break the promise I made to you, and this is the only way I know to keep it. (she drops a kiss on her temple. Stands up to leave)

 

DAGA

(watching it all, suddenly understands) Youíre not running away, youíre running right to him. Thatís it, isnít it? (Xena just gives him a dark look and walks away, out of the light of the fire. He looks into the flames for a long moment, then) She is the woman Iíve heard tales about.

 

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(A man sits in a window sill, looking up at the same moon Xena and Gabrielle were gazing at, a faraway look in his eyes. A sword is leaned against his shoulder, the hilt in his lap, the point near his ear. He strokes the flat part of the blade up and down with his fingers, almost as if playing a musical instrument. He pulls his eyes away from the moon, then looks out into the dark night.)

 

HEROD

I am waiting for you.

 

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(Gabrielle wakes up, late afternoon of next day. As soon as her eyes open, she notes the light and bolts up. Daga is grumpy from lack of food and water.)

 

DAGA

Sheís gone.

 

GABRIELLE

(looking around, sees it is true. No surprise on her face, a little disappointed and angry. She shakes her head) When is she going to learn?

(Starts to gather her things.)

 

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Gabrielle is tying the last thing to her saddle; everything packed.

 

DAGA

Youíre going to leave me here?

 

GABRIELLE

Werenít you the one who was going to take my head?

 

DAGA

Aye, but that was just business. Leaving me here in the wild, thatís cold-blooded murder.

 

GABRIELLE

(scratching out a note, finishes it and drops it next to him and the dead camp fire.) Donít worry, someone is coming along. (she gets on horse, settling in) Iíd be nice to her, though. She used to be known as the bitch of Rome. (Dagaís eyes get a little bigger. Gabrielle turns the horse to go)

 

DAGA

(yells at her) But you donít even know where Xena is going!

 

GABRIELLE

(whirls her horse around to face him) Oh yes I do. (takes off)

 

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(Day time. Daga is sleeping when someone puts a hand on his neck. He bolts awake. Eve is crouched down in front of him.)

 

EVE

Are you all right?

 

DAGA

Do I look all right? Iím starving and thirsty. (Eve opens a water bag and lets him have a long drink. He gulps it down) Now untie me.

 

EVE

(she holds up note) I donít think so. Iíd feed you, but I donít have the time to spare.

 

DAGA

But the blonde one said youíd help me.

 

EVE

(getting back on her horse) Iíll send someone your way as soon as I can. (she rides off. Daga screams in frustration)

 

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(Late afternoon, Xena is just finishing up fixing a horseshoe problem with Argo. She is antsy and ready to move on.)

 

 

XENA

Of all the times to throw a shoe. Argo, just whose side are you on? (Argo makes a horse noise) I know Iíve been riding you hard, but itís not like I have a choice (another horse noise, then a noise somewhere within the trees. Xena pulls her weapon, looks around, but sees nothing. Suddenly, she whirls and finds Gabrielle standing a few feet behind her, quite angry)

 

GABRIELLE

How many times, Xena? How many times are you going to run away and leave me?

 

XENA

You donít understand.

 

GABRIELLE

No, itís you who doesnít understand. Did you really think I wouldnít find you? (she steps a few feet closer)After all this time, I know the inside of your head as well as my own.

 

XENA

I didnít know what else to do. (she drops down beside a tree, sitting against it) For that much money, people like Daga will never stop hunting you.

 

GABRIELLE

And abandoning me is supposed to help how? (Xena can only drop her head, unable to explain it)

 

GABRIELLE

(comes around in front of Xena, sits down. She looks at her thoughtfully) Give me your hands. (Xena looks at her, cautious. Gabrielle extends her own hands) Give me your hands, Xena. (Xena puts them out and Gabrielle takes them in hers. She runs her fingers along Xenaís hand, searching. It tickles a little and Xena tries not to smile. Then Gabrielle smiles and turns Xenaís hand up to the palm.) Remember this? (she draws her finger along Xenaís palm) You got this scar the time we fought Draco. (she turns the hand over to the back) And this one? The battle with Romeís army.
(Gabrielle takes Xenaís hand and pulls it over to touch a spot on her own shoulder) And when did I get this?

 

XENA

(snorts laughter) The time Argo threw you.

 

GABRIELLE

(Laughing a little herself. Puts Xenaís hand on a scar where her neck meets her shoulder.) And here?

 

XENA

Another arrow nicked you. (Xenaís fingers, on their own, break free of Gabrielleís and travel up to the spot where her chakram hit) And what I did. (her eyes tear up)

 

GABRIELLE

(puts her hand back on Xenaís and gently pulls it away) This physical record of the times weíve spent together, itís more than skin deep. It goes all the way to here. (she takes Xenaís hand that she is holding and puts it over her heart)

 

XENA

Gabrielle. . .

 

GABRIELLE

Now listen to me, because I donít want to keep chasing you down, though I always will. I have become what I am by your side, and by your side is where I will end. I canít go off into the sunset and live another life if you are not in it. Do you understand?

 

XENA

(sighs) But it seems that every moment of pain and suffering inflicted on you has been because of me.

 

GABRIELLE

(smiling, she moves around so that she is sitting next to Xena, still holding her hand to her heart, and she puts her free arm around Xenaís shoulders) And every moment of joy and happiness. So you see, it all balances out. (Xena leans her head against Gabrielleís and closes her eyes)

 

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(Day time. They are riding side by side.)

 

GABRIELLE

Do you think we should hold up and wait for Eve?

 

XENA

No. Sheíll catch us. Besides, the sooner we get to Herod and figure out what this is all about, the sooner we can start planning our next destination.

 

GABRIELLE

Destination?

 

XENA

I meant what I said the other night. I am tired of all the fighting. (a band of men on horseback appear on the ridge ahead of them, obviously itching to fight. Xena sighs. They both pull up their horses)

 

GABRIELLE

Do you think Daga escaped and clued them in? (gestures at the group)

 

XENA

No. I told you, Gabrielle, with that much money, word gets around fast. (the group kicks forward, riding fast) Theyíre going to go straight at you.

 

GABRIELLE

Letís split up. Iíll get as many of them after me as I can, then you can swing around behind.

 

XENA

(she nods her agreement) Be careful.

 

(Gabrielle takes off in one direction, and the majority of the group peels off and follows. A couple of them continue on course with Xena, who kicks Argo into gear. A chase scene on horseback follows, which ends in an impressive battle on foot. The two win, but Gabrielle takes a shallow knife cut across the upper arm. As they stand there immediately afterward, catching their breath, Eve rides up)

 

EVE

(dismounts and walks up to them, smiling affectionately at both. She gives Gabrielle a hug) I see some things never change.

 

XENA

(Eve turns to Xena, embracing her. Xena says into her hair) One day they will.

 

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(In a clearing near some water, Xena is cleaning up Gabrielleís knife wound.)

 

XENA

This is getting to be a habit.

 

 

 

GABRIELLE

(grinning) But now weíre twins. (at Xenaís questioning look, Gabrielle puts a finger on an almost identical scar across Xenaís arm. Xena can only shake her head, unsure whether it is a good thing or not.)

 

EVE

(returning with some medical supplies. Hands them over to Xena) I know this Herod. (both Xena and Gabrielle look up in surprise) In my other life. He was a rising warlord then, determined to educate himself. Very ambitious and very cold. Some of the things he did made me look soft.

 

XENA

This just keeps getting better and better. (she starts putting meds on Gabrielleís shoulder)

 

GABRIELLE

(wincing) Too hard.

 

XENA

Sorry. (more gently)

 

EVE

So what are you going to do when you get to Ragnock?

 

XENA

(as if it should be obvious) Go in and kill Herod.

 

EVE

Just like that? You donít even want to know why heís doing this?

 

XENA

(stands up even though she is not finished with Gabrielle) I donít care why, Eve. Even if his grievance is legitimate, his methods arenít. Killing Gabrielle to get at me isnít exactly the action of a saint. (she picks up a bag) I need to get more water. (and stalks off. Both Eve and Gabrielle watch her go)

 

GABRIELLE

Sheís just feeling guilty.

 

EVE

(sits down next to Gabrielle and picks up where Xena left off) I know. (she looksafter Xena) Iím glad you found her.

 

GABRIELLE

I wish I could help her.

 

 

EVE

You do.

 

GABRIELLE

(shaking her head) But sheís right about the past. We will never know when it might pop up and bite us from behind. If only we could flood the world with a river of lotus.

 

EVE

But then everything would be forgotten.

 

GABRIELLE

(smiling sadly) I know. (Eve gives her a pat and gets up to put the supplies away. Gabrielle leans forward, head down, her elbows on her knees, hands before her as if in prayer. An odd wind ruffles her hair and she looks up, then bolts to her feet)

 

GABRIELLE

What are you doing here?

 

ARES

Why, Iím here to answer your prayer.

 

XENA

(returning with the water, sees Ares and rushes up. To Gabrielle) What is he doing here? (then faces Ares, dropping the bag and putting a hand on her weapon) So help me, Ares, if you are behind all thisÖ

 

ARES

(hands out in protest) Whoa, whoa, whoa. Iím here to offer a little help, but if this is the reception Iíll get.

 

XENA

Itís more than you deserve. Besides, we donít need your help. (Eve walks up, surprised to see Ares, but stays silent)

 

ARES

Actually, itís not so much my help that I offer. Iím playing more of the messenger this time. The one Iím speaking for thinks you donít like him anymore. Heís a little apprehensive about being in your presence.

 

XENA

You should be apprehensive being in my presence.

 

GABRIELLE

(puts out a calming hand towards Xena) Ares, why are you here?

 

 

ARES

(looks up, then back at Gabrielle) Michael has a proposition for you.

 

GABRIELLE

The archangel?

 

ARES

Is there any other? Apparently, there is a man not far from here who needs to be dealt with.

 

EVE

Dealt with?

 

ARES

(stabbing motion with fingers) Killed.

 

XENA

I have already played the assassin for Michael. I donít intend to do it again.

 

ARES

But you are, inadvertently. The man is named Herod.

 

GABRIELLE

Why is Michael out for him?

 

ARES

Itís too complicated to explain.

 

XENA

Try.

 

ARES

Hey, I donít understand all of it, or even care. Suffice it to say, if Herod lives to sire offspring, one of his line will kill some woman before she can give birth to a key player in their mythology. (looks directly at Eve) That Ďfree willí thing can be a bitch.

 

GABRIELLE

(now looking at Eve) What does that mean?

 

EVE

(keeping her eyes on Ares) It means that mankind can choose to act in opposition to their true purpose.

 

ARES

(pointing at Eve in agreement) And that even a god can sometimes find his plans going awry.

 

XENA

(tired of all the double talk) Fine. But why me?

 

ARES

If youíre the best, then Herod is a close second, maybe even a tie.

 

GABRIELLE

Ok, saying we agree to this, what is it that youíre offering?

 

ARES

Reminding you that itís not my offer, Michael can arrange to have Xena Ďforgotten.í

 

GABRIELLE

Forgotten?

 

ARES

I think his exact words were ďerased from all that is written and remembered.Ē

 

XENA

(looking at Gabrielle) I donít want to be forgotten.

 

ARES

(understanding the look) She wonít. (Xena looks over at him) Or Eve. Blood ties run too deep, as do those of the heart.

 

GABRIELLE

I donít like it. Itís too convenient.

 

ARES

There is a catch. Herod has to go down in a specific place; a church being built on the outskirts of his holdings.

 

GABRIELLE

Why there?

 

ARES

(shrugs) Something about doing it on holy ground. (they are all silent for a few moments, looking from one to the other)

 

XENA

Why are you doing this?

 

ARES

The time of the Olympian gods is over, Xena. You saw to that. This one (he points up) has got that something special. I think heís going to be the next big thing.

 

GABRIELLE

So whatís in it for you?

 

ARES

I get to stick around and muck things up once in awhile, along with Aphrodite, as she is my balancing force. We wonít be starting players anymore, but weíll still be on the team.

 

XENA

I donít trust you. Or Michael.

 

ARES

(starting to back away) Thatís your choice. Iíve done my part and the offer is on the table. You can do it your way and stay big, bad Xena the rest of your life; (looking to Gabrielle) my personal choice. OrÖ(and heís gone).

(The three stand quiet, digesting it all)

 

GABRIELLE

Well, itís something to consider.

 

XENA

Letís get moving.

 

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(Itís night, the fire is burning and everyone is asleep except Gabrielle. She is sitting up next to Xena, who lies sleeping with her back to Gabrielle. Gabrielle is looking into the fire, deep in thought, when Xenaís voice startles her. She has turned over and is watching her.)

 

XENA

What are you thinking?

 

GABRIELLE

Ares. And Michael. Working together.

 

XENA

(joking) Itís the end of the world, Gabrielle.

 

GABRIELLE

(laughs) What do you think we should do?

 

XENA

Iíve been considering that. (goes quiet)

 

GABRIELLE

(looks away from fire to Xena) And?

 

XENA

I think we have to chance it. I donít believe Ares gave us the whole story, but if what he offered is realÖ

 

GABRIELLE

I donít know, Xena; to lose your place in the world? I had thought that might be the answer, but now Iím not so sure.

 

XENA

My place (she pats a spot right next to Gabrielle) is here. (Gabrielle gives a huge, jaw-cracking yawn. Xena reaches out and takes her hand) Gabrielle, you need to sleep. (she guides her to lay down next to her. Gabrielle is on her side, facing away from Xena, and Xena snuggles up close behind her, not quite touching. She puts an arm around her) Whatever happens, it would be worth it to have you safe.

 

††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *

 

(The next morning, the three of them are up and huddled together, planning the next move.)

 

XENA

We are less than a dayís ride from Ragnock. Time to figure how to play this out.

 

EVE

I have a plan. (both Gabrielle and Xena turn towards her) I doubt Herod has changed much, considering his bounty on Gabrielle. I think if we approach him in the way I have in mind, weíll have a chance.

 

††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *

 

 

(They are approaching the town, can see it in the distance. Xena rides up in front of Gabrielle and Eve and pulls Argo short, stopping them all.)

 

XENA

I still donít like this.

 

GABRIELLE

Like it or not, you have to agree with Eve. This is the only way. (Xena canít deny it, and looks off toward the town)

 

 

EVE

Iím going to ride in and get what you need, Gabrielle. Iíll be back as soon as I can. (Eve steers her horse around Argo, but stops near Xena) You have to trust her.

 

XENA

Itís not Gabrielle that I have a problem trusting.

 

EVE

You know what I mean. (gives her a quick squeeze, then heads off. Gabrielle and Xena watch her go)

 

 

††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *

 

(In a large receiving room in Herodís castle. There is a decent-sized crowd of townspeople, bounty hunters and guards. In walks a bounty hunter, accompanied by a guard. The hunter is dressed in black from head to toe, seemingly almost genderless. A black mask covers the top half of the face and runs up over the top of the head, hiding the hair.)

 

GUARD

This bounty hunter has requested an audience with you.

 

HEROD

(lounging at the head of the room in a throne-like chair, waves his agreement) But remove the mask.

 

(The hunter walks past the guard without complying.)

 

GUARD

Hey! (reaches out to stop her. She whirls, striking him in the throat with the blunt end of her sais. He falls and she turns to continue walking towards Herod. He sits straighter.)

 

HEROD

Guards!

 

(Fight ensues in which all of Gabrielleís skills are brought to the fore. It is the battle of her life, and she does it almost without effort. She also remains true to form; although the men set against her are out for blood, she is killing no one, merely disabling them. While Gabrielle is fighting, a disguised Xena and Eve are weaving their way through the crowd, trying to get close to the front of it. They get a spot and stop. Under her robe, Xena fingers her chakram nervously. Eve puts her hand over Xenaís to still them. As Gabrielle fights her way to Herod, the crowd starts to fall back, a bit awestruck, and even Xena watches in wonder. When the last guard falls, the hunter stands before Herod, barely breathing hard, spins the sais and sheaths them in her boots, then slowly pulls off the mask.)

 

GABRIELLE

I believe you are looking for me?

 

HEROD

Well, well, if it isnít Gabrielle. I think all that time with Xena has made you daft. Are you surrendering, hoping Iíll show mercy?

 

GABRIELLE

No. I am here to make an offer.

 

HEROD

I donít need to bargain with the likes of you.

 

GABRIELLE

Need to? No. But want to? I think you will.

 

HEROD

Are you expecting me to believe that you would betray Xena?

 

GABRIELLE

I am tired. Tired of running and tired of fighting. Do you have any idea, the trials Iíve endured being in her company? I have lost family, been crucified, persecuted, even sent to hell. (Xena is pained to hear this listing, Eve puts a comforting hand on her)

 

HEROD

(interested by her bravado, but not wanting to show it yet) Guards! Take her below.

 

(Gabrielle, standing still in front of him, suddenly throws her arms out wide and away from her sides. Everyone but Herod flinches, thinking she is going to fight. Instead, she slowly drops her arms back down and puts her hands behind her back, waiting for the guards to take her. Herod walks up to her and removes the sais from her boots, then nods at the guards. Xena makes a move to break free of the crowd, but Eve holds her back.)

 

EVE

Itís ok. Sheís got his attention and heís interested. This is exactly what we wanted. (Xena falls back, but reluctantly as they lead Gabrielle away. Eve and Xena exit the room).

 

††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *

 

 

(Gabrielle sits in a cell, her head up, hands hanging between her legs, seemingly relaxed. Herod is watching her. He comes to a decision and steps into the light. Walks over to the cell and leans against the bar.)

 

 

HEROD

So, what is this offer you spoke of?

 

GABRIELLE

(looks at him, then stands and walks over to the bars. Leans opposite of him so they are facing) Let me join you.

 

HEROD

(curious) Why?

 

GABRIELLE

You want to punish Xena? Killing me is a good idea if you want to stun her momentarily. But let me join you, be here at your side, and the agony of that for her wonít be over near as quick.

 

HEROD

(considering) And why would you want to do this?

 

GABRIELLE

(walks away from him, then turns back) Letís just say Dagaís arrow was the proverbial straw that broke the camelís back. It finally hit me that there will always be some demon from Xenaís past chasing us, and one day I will get dragged to the ground by them.

 

HEROD

The idea is interesting. And your skill todayÖIíve underestimated you, something Iíve never done with anyone. (he stands up straight) Iíll think about it.

 

(she only nods at him, then walks calmly back to her seat, as though she is unconcerned that if he decides otherwise, she will die. He canít help but be impressed)

 

††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *

 

 

(Xena and Eve are set up outside the town with a view of Herodís castle, waiting for Gabrielleís signal.)

 

XENA

How can you be so sure he wonít just kill her?

 

EVE

After her display today? The Herod I knew was always one who would utilize such talent when he found it. Gabrielleís offer will appeal to him; I know it.

 

XENA

I wish I had your confidence. (she paces around some more)

 

EVE

I hope you know she doesnít believe it.

 

XENA

What?

 

EVE

Gabrielle. What she said today about her trials. She doesnít connect them to you.

 

XENA

How can you believe that?

 

EVE

I could hear it in her voice.

 

XENA

If you could hear it, why wouldnít Herod?

 

EVE

He doesnít know her like we do.

 

††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *

 

 

(Three guards are going down to the cell where Gabrielle is being kept. She hears them and stands up to meet her fate.)

 

††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *

 

 

(Almost dark, Xena is even more agitated, Eve trying to keep her calm.)

 

XENA

Iím not waiting any longer.

 

EVE

You have to give Gabrielle time.

 

XENA

And what if he is killing her right now?

 

EVE

He wonít.

 

 

 

XENA

I canít take that chance. (she grabs her weapon and starts toward Argo. Just as she is about to saddle up, Eve calls)

 

EVE

Wait!

 

XENA

(exasperated) Eve, thereís nothing you can sayÖ

 

EVE

No, look. (they both look toward Herodís castle, and see a light flaring and fading from a window. Xena stops with her foot in the stirrup, relief flooding her with physical weakness.)

 

††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *

 

 

(Gabrielle stands in front of a window with a candle in her hand. She looks out at the countryside, knowing Eve and Xena are out there, even if she is unable to see them. She smiles then blows the candle out.)

 

††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *

 

 

(Morning, Gabrielle is being led into a eating area. She is flanked on both sides with guards, but they are not holding her, merely escorting. Herod sits at a table loaded with food and gestures for her to sit next to him. She does and he waves the guards away.)

 

HEROD

Sleep well?

 

GABRIELLE

(smiling) Yes, actually. Very well.

 

HEROD

(nods, pleased to hear it) Good. I suppose we should discuss our arrangement. (she turns to him, all ears) I still donít trust you. Iíll keep your weapons, and a guard will be with you at all times.

 

GABRIELLE

Whatever makes you comfortable.

 

HEROD

Yes, comfortable. Anyway, other than that, you may do as you wish. (he turns to his food, as does Gabrielle)

 

GABRIELLE

May I accompany you today?

 

HEROD

(stops with his food) Why?

 

GABRIELLE

I have heard much about you and I am curious to see you at work. Do you mind?

 

HEROD

(pleased) Not at all.

 

††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *

 

 

(Montage of scenes with Gabrielle and Herod spending time together, overlapped with scenes of Xena and Eve waiting for the next signal in miserable weather. It is obvious that things are progressing with Herod, he is becoming quite familiar with her. One night the signal comes.)

 

XENA

Itís about time. (she turns, putting her hands on Eveís shoulders) EveÖ

 

EVE

Iíll pray for you both. (she gives Xena a hug) Donít underestimate him.

 

XENA

I wonít.

 

††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *

 

 

(Xena coming in through a window, late at night. Gabrielle helps her.)

 

XENA

Do you know how cold and wet it has been the past few nights?

 

GABRIELLE

(honestly contrite) Iím sorry, but this is the first night where I havenít had a guard practically sleeping in my bed.

 

XENA

(gives her a look) So youíre making progress?

 

 

GABRIELLE

I guess.

 

XENA

Gabrielle, this is a man who sent hordes of bounty hunters upon you, all intent on collecting. Donít forget that.

 

GABRIELLE

I havenít. Itís just not so black and white.

 

XENA

(affectionately) Oh, Gabrielle, it never is for you.

 

GABRIELLE

Itís ok, Iím not suggesting we deviate from the plan. (watches Xena checking out the room, dropping her gear) I know it was hard for you to wait out there. Iím impressed with your restraint.

 

XENA

Well donít be. I may still let loose and bust a few heads. (smiles at Gabrielle, who smiles back)

 

††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *

 

 

(A priest enters a large square room, four giant pillars that stretch from floor to ceiling are set up several feet from each wall. In front of the one window is set up a large bell with a mallet on the pedestal next to it. The priest walks over, picks up the mallet, and begins to thump it against the side of the bell. The peals ring out of the church, over the town and into Gabrielleís bedroom. She wakes up, looks at the light streaming in the window, and turns over to find herself face to face with Xena.)

 

GABRIELLE

(she sits up)Xena!

 

XENA

(starts awake, sits up, looking for trouble) What!?

 

GABRIELLE

What are you doing?

 

XENA

(drops back down on the pillow) It was cold sleeping on the floor. Youíre not the one whoís been roughing it outside in the rain.

 

 

GABRIELLE

And if someone comes in and sees you?

 

XENA

(gets up on one elbow facing Gabrielle) Donít worry. I bolted the door. (Gabrielle is prevented from replying as there is a knock at the door. They look at each other, panicked).

 

GABRIELLE

(taking her foot and pushing Xena, whispering) Get out! Get out!

 

XENA

(starting to slide off the bed, reaches out and thumps Gabrielleís leg with her hand. In a fierce whisper) Stop kicking me! (they both roll out of bed on their respective sides and Gabrielle waves Xena towards the bathroom. Xena grabs her gear off the floor nearby)

 

GABRIELLE

(saying to the door) Iím coming! (comes over to Xenaís side of the bed, making sure itís all picked up. Chases Xena into the bathroom, then goes to answer the door. She opens it to find a maid with a tray of food) Sorry about that, I wasnít dressed.

 

MAID

(comes in totally uninterested in any excuses) Herod wanted breakfast brought here as he will be unable to eat with you this morning.

 

GABRIELLE

Oh, why is that?

 

MAID

A pressing matter out in the field. He did ask me to request your presence at his dinner table this evening.

 

GABRIELLE

Yes, that is fine.

 

MAID

Very good, Iíll pass it along. Enjoy. (and she bustles out of the room. Gabrielle follows her, then bolts the door behind. Turns to find Xena already out of the bathroom and picking among the food.)

 

GABRIELLE

(walks over and smacks Xenaís hand, who drops what she was holding) Those of us whoíve been roughing it should clean up before handling all the food.

 

XENA

(cocks her eyebrow) I see youíre settling right in. (she turns to go back into the bathroom. Gabrielle picks up a piece of cut fruit, considers it, then tosses it at Xena, hitting her in the back. Xena turns, picks up the fruit and holds it up) You want a piece of me?

(in answer, Gabrielle hits her with another piece. Xena counters with the one in her hand and the two get into a mini-food fight, laughing quietly, relieved at being together again)

 

††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *

 

 

(Herod and Gabrielle are at dinner, talking about his day.)

 

HEROD

(watching Gabrielle closely) I think Xena is in the area.

 

GABRIELLE

(total nonchalance) Oh? What makes you think that?

 

HEROD

Just a feeling, but Iíve learned to trust it. Does that worry you?

 

GABRIELLE

Should it? Are you going to hold me up on the ramparts and throw me down at her feet?

 

HEROD

Of course not. Still, donít you think she might have taken your defection personally?

 

GABRIELLE

(considering it) Maybe.

 

HEROD

(delighted laughter) Oh, Gabrielle, you are a constant source of amazement to me.

 

GABRIELLE

Why is that?

 

HEROD

Here you are, set between two warriors who now both may have an interest in seeing you dead, and yet you sit there and eat as though we talk of the weather.

 

GABRIELLE

I can take care of myself.

 

HEROD

So I see. (they eat in silence for a few seconds)

 

 

GABRIELLE

Can I ask you something?

 

HEROD

(gestures at her with his fork) Please.

 

GABRIELLE

What happened between you and Xena?

 

HEROD

(drops his fork and sits back in his chair) Ah, I wondered when we would get to that.

 

GABRIELLE

You donít have to tell me.

 

HEROD

No, I want to, although it will be nothing you havenít heard before. One winter, Xena and her army ran rampant through my village. Most of my family, along with the villagers, was killed. Those deaths I might have survived, but my youngest brother escaped along with me. We had nowhere to go, no help. Watching him slowly starve to death was the one that put me over.

 

GABRIELLE

(puts her fork down) Iím sorry.

 

HEROD

(continues as though he hadnít heard) A few years later I ran into her at a tavern. I confronted her, only to be shocked that she neither remembered the event nor cared that it had happened. When I challenged her, she laughed in my face, then had a couple of her men throw me out.

 

GABRIELLE

(puts her hand out) How old were you?

 

HEROD

A child. I would have been no match for her, although it might have been a mercy had she ended my life then. I felt so insignificant that night, less than human. Itís what drove me to this (he extends his hands up to encompass the room and his world) and drives me still.

 

GABRIELLE

(meaning it) How sad.

 

HEROD

(a strange smile lights his face) Gabrielle, you are the perfect mix of hard and soft.I can see why Xena fell in love with you.

 

GABRIELLE

For all the good that it did her. (she stands up) If youíll excuse me, Iíve had a long day.

 

HEROD

(stands up with her) Of course. Goodnight, Gabrielle.

 

GABRIELLE

Good night.

 

††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *

 

 

 

(Gabrielle is readying for bed brushing her hair, Xena sits watching her.)

 

XENA

Heís right; I donít remember.

 

GABRIELLE

I feel sorry for him. (Xena looks away from her) Xena, I donít blame you. Whatever may have happened, heís responsible for his choices now. (thinking) And he scares me.

 

XENA

(turns back to her) From what Eve told me, he should.

 

GABRIELLE

Itís the way he talks. There is an emptiness behind his wordsÖ(she shudders)

 

XENA

(stands up suddenly, vehement) I hate this!

 

GABRIELLE

(stops brushing her hair and turns to Xena) I do too, but we have to wait for the right time. I canít just ask him to meet me in the church. Heís too smart for that.

 

XENA

I think heís too smart for this. (she gestures around the room) I feel trapped. ( a soft knock at the door, then it slides open a hair, Gabrielle forgot to bolt it, distracted by the dinner conversation.)

 

HEROD

Gabrielle? Can I come in and speak with you?

 

 

 

GABRIELLE

(resists the reflex to look at Xena, instead looks toward the door. Xena ducks under the bed, as she is on the side near the wall. If she tries for the bathroom, she will come in sight of the door) Yes.

 

HEROD

(walks in slowly, carries a large, bulky bag. Comes directly in front of Gabrielle and drops it on the dresser behind her. Gold spills out of it onto the floor) I want you to have this.

 

GABRIELLE

What for?

 

HEROD

Itís yours. Thatís the bounty I put up.

 

GABRIELLE

Why would you give it to me?

 

HEROD

Because you deserve it. Your being here, it has been a soothing balm to me. Again you take me by surprise. (Gabrielle looks down, unsure what to say) You may also retrieve your weapons at any time. They are sitting on a chair in my bedchamber.

 

GABRIELLE

Thank you.

 

HEROD

(reaches his hand out, trails his fingers along her jaw, then lifts her face to look at his. Xena can see all this and is grinding her teeth) And should you so choose, my bedchamber is where you may stay. (he leans down and drops a soft, gentle kiss at the corner of Gabrielleís mouth, then draws away) I have grown very fond of you.

 

GABRIELLE

May I take some time to consider?

 

HEROD

(merely bows to her, then walks out of the room.)

 

GABRIELLE

(follows him, and this time bolts the door. She puts her arms around herself, and walks back into the room.) Heís given us our chance.

 

XENA

(stands up from the side of the bed, looking grim, then comes around the bed to stand in front of Gabrielle) Are you ok?

 

GABRIELLE

(rubbing her hands up and down along her arms) He makes me cold, even when he is offering love.

 

XENA

(puts her arms out) Then come get warm. (She enfolds Gabrielle and tries to still her shivering)

†††††††††††

*††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *

 

 

 

(The next morning, Gabrielle snags a maid walking by her room.)

 

GABRIELLE

(holds out a piece of paper) Would you take this to Herod?

 

MAID

(taking it and bowing) Of course.

 

GABRIELLE

Thank you. (she returns back into her room)

 

††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *

 

 

(Herod in his room. After reading the note he prepares one of his own.)

 

††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *

 

 

 

(Xena is getting ready to face Herod in the church, early evening.)

 

XENA

(sitting on a chair, pulling on an arm piece) You told him to meet you at the church?

 

GABRIELLE

(coming over and helping her) Yes, that I wanted to talk and have him show me the work in progress. (they are both extremely agitated)

 

XENA

Then why does it feel like heís the one conning us?

 

 

GABRIELLE

(standing close in front of Xena) I donít know. Somethingís not right, some sign that we are missing.

 

XENA

Too late now. (she looks out the window at the fading light) Itís time.

 

GABRIELLE

(puts her hands alongside Xenaís face, gazes at her for a long moment, then drops an intense kiss on her lips. When she pulls away) For luck.

 

XENA

(puts her hands on top of Gabrielleís) For love.

 

GABRIELLE

Always for love.

 

††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *

 

 

(Herod enters church, looking around the pillar room, seeing no one.)

 

HEROD

Gabrielle?

 

††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *

 

 

 

(Gabrielle enters Herodís room, dressed in her regular garb, looking for her sais. She finds them in a chair next to a desk. She picks them up and makes to leave when her attention falls on a book that lays on the desk, open. Xenaís name jumps out at her and she picks it up. Alarmed at what she reads, she flips to the beginning of the book.)

 

††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† *

 

 

 

(Herod in church, stepping slowly around the room.)

 

HEROD

Gabrielle? (Xena steps out from behind a pillar, draws sword. Herod sees her, no surprise or fear, a look of almost joy comes across his face. He sighs and draws his own weapon) At last.

 

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(Gabrielle is flipping through the book, goes by a drawing, then back peddles trying to find it again.)

 

 

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(Herod and Xena face off, Xena looks intense, Herod looks calm. A long moment passes between them, then Herod steps forward, almost casually, and they begin. The fighting is furious and so fast it almost blurs. In the beginning it seems to be an even match, but then Herod starts getting in some good hits, driving Xena around the room. She draws blood, causing him to stumble, then pulls her chakram free and flings it. It bounds off a pillar, cutting deep into the stone, then flies at Herod. He swings his sword, catching the chakram in the air, shattering it. Xena is shocked. Herod stops and admires his sword with pride.)

 

HEROD

You canít imagine what I endured to find this sword. The only one of its kind; weapon of a god. (he looks at her slyly) Can you guess which god?

 

XENA

(while Herod is bragging, she gets into position)

 

HEROD

It wasnít made for me. I hardly warranted that kind of attention at the time. But he lost it, I found it. Finders-keepers, I say.

 

XENA

(spinning her sword around) You talk too much. (they engage again)

 

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(Gabrielle is still in Herodís room. Throws her head back.)

 

GABRIELLE

Ares! Show yourself! Right now!

 

ARES

(appears behind her) You called?

 

GABRIELLE

(she whirls around) Did you know about this? (she holds up a diary book and on the page is a drawing of a sword). Answer me!

 

ARES

Gabrielle, I am merely the messenger. . .

 

GABRIELLE

No more games, Ares. Swear on your godhood that you will answer me truthfully. Say it!

 

ARES

I swear on my godliness that I will answer truthfully.

 

GABRIELLE

(looks down at the book and then back at Ares) Can she win?

 

ARES

No. (Gabrielle drops the book, grabs her sais and runs out of the room) Not without you.

 

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(Xena is in the battle to end all singular battles. Where she is passionate and loud, he is cold and silent. He hits her a ringing blow that staggers her, and he stops his forward attack.)

 

HEROD

Did it not drive you mad; to watch as I put my lips on hers? (Xena looks at him realizing he knew) Oh yes, I knew you were there. Iíve known all along. It didnít matter, though. (he swings at her, almost catching her off guard, so swift and silent is his attack) I wanted to face you in a fair fight.

 

XENA

And Gabrielle?

 

HEROD

A pleasant diversion while I waited for you to make your move. (he thrusts and turns his blade lightening quick, blood starts flowing from a spot on Xenaís lower arm) I never expected to love her.

 

XENA

(almost laughing, out of breath) Youíre incapable of love.

 

HEROD

Once youíre gone, she can teach me.

 

XENA

I donít think so. Hate has rotted you out.

 

 

 

HEROD

(considering it) Perhaps. But then, IĎll have Gabrielle to help fill me up again. (he lunges at her and they go at it again)

 

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†††††††††††

 

(Gabrielle is running hell-bent through the streets toward the church.)

 

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HEROD

(as they are fighting) Iíve been tracking you since the day you threw me out on my face. Learning the way you fight, the way you think--my obsession. (he says it lovingly. Xena hits him hard, but he turns it around and manages to knock her sword free of her grasp). All focused on the day we would be reunited, and this time you would remember me. At least, (he swings quick, almost hitting her) for the short time youíd still be alive.

 

XENA

(backing away from him) What a fitting focus for a whole life; anotherís death.

 

HEROD

Laughable words from one who used to specialize in dealing it out to others. (he is stalking her now, she is wounded in several places, battered, while Herod, who has a few nicks and cuts, is just breathing hard) I didnít have a Gabrielle to pull me out of the pit. (Xena is threading her way through the pillars, trying to reach her sword. He momentarily loses sight of her) Now I do.

 

XENA

(from behind, hits him with the pinch. He falters) You have to want to save yourself before Gabrielle can help. (she comes around in front of him, defiant) But I think you like it down there in the dark.

 

HEROD

(pinches himself free. Xena is stunned) I told you; I have been a very apt pupil. (and he smashes her in the head with his sword. She falls away from him, down to her knees, catching herself on the base of one of the pillars. He aims his final thrust at her exposed back)

 

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GABRIELLE

(runs into the room, straight at them, carrying her sais. She falls to her knees in front of Xena, arms held wide as if she can shield her, thinking she can save them all.) No!

 

(Herod sees Gabrielle and checks his thrust, but too late. It pierces Gabrielleís stomach and goes all the way through her, the sword stopping shy of Xenaís back. Gabrielleís sais fall from her grasp. Xena turns, sees Gabrielle frozen in front of her. Blood runs down the swordís blade, dripping off the tip on to Xenaís leg. Herod is looking at Gabrielle, in shock. Gabrielle is looking up into his face. She reaches out and puts her hand on top of Herodís sword hand, almost as if absolving him, knowing they have all been used. She then slowly falls to the side, both Xena and Herod watching in horror, the blade sliding out of her as he keeps hold of it. When she hits the ground, he drops his blade and falls to his knees beside her. Xena looks at the blood on her leg, then notices Gabrielleís dropped sais lying next to her. She picks one up and looks at Herod. Herod, staring at Gabrielle, suddenly realizes his danger and looks up at Xena as he is reaching for his sword. Xena lunges forward and sticks the sais in his throat. He stops, his eyes locked on Xenaís for a long moment, then they glaze over. She shoves him hard so he falls away from Gabrielleís body. She then turns to Gabrielle, who is struggling to breathe)

 

XENA

No, Gabrielle. (she gently turns her over and starts to slide her hands underneath her body, wanting to pick her up) Hang on.

 

GABRIELLE

(puts her hand out on Xenaís arm to stop her, blood leaking from her mouth, staining her teeth. Tears run down her temples. She whispers, but Xena canít hear it. Gabrielleís eyes close)

XENA

(rears her head back and roars) Ares! (he appears behind her, she stands and stalks toward him, gets right up in his face) You knew. You knew this would cost Gabrielle her life. If she hadnít shown up, Herod would have defeated me.

 

ARES

The freedom you seek is not without its price.

 

XENA

(looking back and gesturing at Gabrielle) But youíre taking the reason I seek it!

 

ARES

I canít explain the why, Xena. I was only given the knowledge of what must be.

 

XENA

(turns away from Ares and walks back to Gabrielle, the blood is running out from underneath her, her breathing shallow. Xena kneels beside her, brushing hair back from Gabrielleís forehead. Xena slumps, suddenly defeated) Oh, Ares. Have I been so terrible that you would expect me to choose a new life for this?

 

ARES

(silence)

 

XENA

Well, I donít.

 

ARES

No life worth having is without sacrifice.

 

XENA

Then I sacrifice the life offered me. All that I want is right here.

 

ARES

Xena, if you pass this by, it wonít be offered again.

 

XENA

I donít care.

 

ARES

Do you have any idea what you are giving up? How rare it is to be given a clean second chance?

 

XENA
(looks down at Gabrielle and runs a hand along her cheek) Yes.

 

ARES

Very well. (a light shines and Michael appears behind him. Michael whispers something in Aresí ear, then goes by him.)

 

MICHAEL

(walks slowly over to Xena, next to the bell and mallet, and looks down at her almost affectionately. Ares remains where he stands) Lay out your hand, Xena.

 

XENA

(looks up at Michael) What?

 

MICHAEL

If you wish to save Gabrielle, lay out your hand.

 

XENA

(looks at him, then at Ares who gives no sign. She lays her hand down on the floor, stained with Gabrielleís blood. Michael takes up the mallet from the bell pedestal. Ares turns his head away as Michael brutally brings the mallet down. Xena screams)

 

 

MICHAEL

(not without sympathy, he leans down so she can hear him over her cries) The life you seek with Gabrielle is not without its price. (she looks up at the mention of Gabrielleís name, hopeful even in her pain. She tries to control her writhing as Michael lays a gentle hand on her ankle) Give me your leg. (she lets him pull it out to full length and he brings the mallet down again. She screams even louder)

 

MICHAEL

The life you have known is now ended. It is enough. (Michael stands up and walks away, dropping the mallet on the floor. As he walks by Gabrielle, his wingtip brushes the length of her body. Then the light returns and he disappears into it)

 

ARES

(He walks over and drops to his knees beside Xena, leans close and whispers in her ear) I expected you to choose her. (puts his lips on her temple for a long moment, then rises and follows Michael out)

 

GABRIELLE

(opens her eyes, turns her head and sees Xena, who has managed to pull herself into a sitting position against one of the 4 pillars. Her back is to Gabrielle, who comes up behind her. Xena is cradling her ruined hand in her lap) Xena?

 

XENA

(looks up into Gabrielleís face, then closes her eyes, smiles and whispers) It is enough. (opens her eyes) Help me up.

 

GABRIELLE

(struggling to get Xena up on her good foot) What happened?

 

XENA

Iíll tell you all about it, but letís get out of here first. (looks down at Gabrielle as she helps her hobble towards the door) I hope you can get used to this.

 

GABRIELLE

Next to you, I can get used to anything.

 

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(Gabrielle and Eve stand outside a dwelling. Xena is inside, healing women buzzing around her, working on her hand and ankle. Gabrielle and Eve look in the door, watching for a while, then Gabrielle turns away and starts to head towards her horse.)

 

EVE

Iíll keep an eye on her.

 

GABRIELLE

(mounts) Iíll send word as soon as I get a place settled.

 

EVE

(reaches out and pats the horse, Gabrielle rides off)

 

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(Montage of scenes; Xenaís rehabilitation and Gabrielleís set up. Ends with final scene of Xena walking unsteadily with a cane to the door of the dwelling and gazing out, a yearning look on her face.)

 

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(Gabrielle sits at a table that faces a large open window. Her figure takes up most of the view, but you can see there is a hill with a thin trail leading down it. She is writing on a scroll.)

 

GABRIELLE

(voiceover) And so I wait. A little nervous about how we will adjust to this new life, but eager to start it. Eveís correspondence has kept me informed of Xenaís progress; how she continually amazes those around her with her strength and determination.(gazes out the window for a long second, starts to write again) Michael was true to his word. It didnít take us long to see that Xena has indeed been erased from all that is written and remembered. Even my original scrolls are gone, though the ones that I write now remain. Perhaps far down the road, she is meant to come back to the worldís memory. Iíve decided to start my writings from the beginning, so that one day people will know there was a woman named Xena, and of her struggle to overcome the darkness that seems to overtake so many of us. At least, that is my hopeÖ (she trails off, distracted by a movement from the window. She looks out and her face lights up. She drops her quill and quickly gets up from the table, walking out, and now the view from the window is clear. Two riders are coming slowly down the hill, the lead obviously Eve, the other rider is wearing a hooded robe, obscuring her face.)

 

(Gabrielle runs up to them as Eve reins in her horse, and the rider behind her does the same. Eve dismounts and embraces Gabrielle, then pulls back and surveys the new home.)

 

EVE

Oh, Gabrielle. It is even more beautiful than you described. (Gabrielle stands up a little taller. Eve drops her reins across her horseís neck, then walks over to the other horse. She pulls off a cane tied to the saddle, then reaches up and offers her arm to the rider. The rider awkwardly dismounts and Eve hands her the cane. She turns back to Gabrielle) Iím going to tie up my horse. (she grabs the reins and leads him away. The remaining rider places the cane on the ground and with her other arm throws back the hood. Xena stands there, all her warrior garb gone, clad in a simple riding outfit)

 

XENA

(looks at Gabrielle with a smile) So this is the end of the road. (she gazes out over the spread; house, gardens, the sea)I see you spent the bounty well.

 

GABRIELLE

I havenít spent any of it yet.(at Xenaís look of surprise) I arranged for us to stay here so long as we take care of the gardens and winery. (Xena looks uncertain, Gabrielle falters a bit) I know it doesnít sound like the most exciting thing weíve ever doneÖ

 

XENA

(understanding, laughs) Gabrielle, it sounds wonderful. I just donít know how useful Iíll be. (she holds up her hand, stiff and broken looking)

 

GABRIELLE

(takes it gently) Oh, Xena.

 

 

XENA

(she shrugs, unconcerned) Anyway, after my time at the hospice, Iíve become very interested in healing. I want to learn more.

 

GABRIELLE

I think you would make a wonderful healer. And we can continue working with your hand and leg.

 

XENA

Yeah, with time and a little effort, I could even learn how to defend myself. (she playfully thumps Gabrielle with her cane)

 

GABRIELLE

(laughing, fending her off) I imagine you could learn more than just defense.

 

XENA

(shaking her head and taking back the damaged right hand. She lays her arm across the back of Argo, helping hold her up. She looks at it in the light) It was shattered, as was my ankle. Even if I learned to fight left-handedÖ(she sets the cane against her leg, puts a little weight on her damaged left leg and almost stumbles) but Iím sure that was Michaelís intention.

GABRIELLE

( looks down, feeling some of the guilt Xena has experienced so often on her behalf) If I had known that you would lose so much of what you wereÖ

 

 

XENA

Michael may have taken the use of my arm and leg for battle, but Gabrielle, (she takes her good hand and raises Gabrielleís face up to look at her) he left me the most important part of who I am; my heart.

 

(Gabrielle looks at her for a long second, then they embrace. She pulls away and picks up the cane that leans against Xenaís leg. Keeping the cane, she puts an arm around Xenaís waist. Xena happily leans on her. Xena puts her good arm around Gabrielle, resting a hand on her shoulder. Gabrielle takes her other hand and threads her fingers through Xenaís hand resting on her shoulder. They start to slowly head down the path. The view falls back until there is just the blonde figure walking next to the dark, then the third figure turns from the horse sheís been tethering near the house and walks forward to join them. Scene fades to black.)

 

THE END

 

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