The Fires of Home
The protagonists herein are based upon the characters of the television program Xena: Warrior Princess. Intellectual property in this show is presumably owned by Renaissance Pictures, MCA/Universal, Studios USA, Flat Earth Productions, and/or other individuals or entities. This story was not written for profit, but as fair use, and no copyright infringements are intended. All original material herein is copyright (2001) to me as author.
SPOILERS: None. Oh yeah, this fiction intimates that Xena and Gabrielle might be lovers. If this is news to you I don’t even know how you found this webpage.
VIOLENCE: A casual reference to wicked acts – nothing to get your toga all in a twist.
SEX: and subtext, you bet! Kiddies come back when you are grown; homophobes come back when you become human. (Although kiddies wouldn’t get it anyway because the sex is not overly graphic; if you like your bard-bites nuanced, this is your story)
QUESTIONS, COMMENTS, SUGGESTIONS, AND HOPEFULLY, SOME APPRECIATIONS (please!) are welcomed. Contact the author at: firstname.lastname@example.org
SETTING/TIME-FRAME: It is set more or less in the fourth season. If you are feeling especially optimistic, you can imagine it in the third season, or even earlier if you think Gabby really knew more than she let on.
THE STYLE OF THIS STORY: This story is a short mystery tale with a dose of the erotic to make up for the sad lack of same on the t.v. show (a situation I look forward to seeing change as America grows up about love). It is written as though it were a scholar’s or archeologist’s translation of one of Gabrielle’s scrolls, (from which the television show is supposedly derived or at least, that’s the conceit, right?) So it is intended to read the way these dusty academic translations read, only the sexy part isn’t in Latin.
And now, a little fanfic
"The Fires of Home"
From the Xena Scrolls
(common designation: "Companion I," fl. 40 B.C.?)
This is a true record of the feats of the Warrior Princess yclept XENA. For many years I walked with her as friend and companion. I write these words that others might tread in the steps of XENA in their souls, now and in future, to bear witness as I do to the path of redemption through fortitude, passion and strife.
In this narrative shall I tell how XENA at last made her heart my home. This, however, I did not comprehend until XENA, with great guile, did assuage the Unrestful Ghosts of an Athenian House.
Part I. Wherein We Stayed By The Green Pond
This was in the fourth year of my travels at the side of XENA in her wanderings. She had decreed upon herself the harsh fate to follow her footsteps of old until she had redeemed the intemperate acts of her youthful hand, when her soul had been dark and vexatious.
At the shore of the Green Pond did we strike camp so that we might recover from various illnesses and verminous dispositions of our bodies that had plagued us, and of which I have earlier written with much distaste. The hides upon which I slept required cleansing. We had agreed that I should wash my bedding and in that night share with XENA her cloak and blankets.
As my beddings were stretched to dry, XENA prepared a place by her side for me to sleep. We had not shared our repose in this way for a long time, not since those days in which we had suffered much on account of our children -- a time where I had broken faith with her to our great tragedy and loss.
In the past, when I had occasion to rest my head on XENA’s arm in this way, my soul would feel torn. For back then sleeping beside her would convulse my soul with great paradoxes: XENA’s body gave off great heat and yet beside her I trembled as if chilled; Her arms and her back, so hard and strong in battle, felt to the hand soft and smelt peacefully of lavender and sage; and should she, in a sleeping revelry, throw her arm across me I felt at once protected from all the world’s harms but yet vulnerable, as though the simple gesture of her unwilled caress had lain open my torso to every piercing shaft of moonlight and starlight in the sky.
Always in the past when I laid beside her I had little dared to move. It mattered not that I felt her mighty protection, for still I greatly feared her. I say this to my shame because XENA had long possessed the full devotion of my heart that rightly she earned by her heroism and valour. From our first day I knew I wished to bestow my life’s destiny upon such a one who, like the ferocious lion or the challenging steed, could not be brought to heel against her will no matter how many chains and bridles.
However, like a wild animal, XENA could sense my fear. We would not speak of it although she was unable to dissemble her sadness at my faintness of heart. I discerned her sadness despite the cold and impenetrable cobalt of her eyes.
But this had been our way of the past. On this night, by the side of the Green Pond, I found my feelings had changed. Perhaps it was through the alchemy of our latter-day pains, or perhaps it was a gift bestowed by some unknown god, kinder than any of those we have met on our travels, who wished to lighten our burdens.
On this night also did I feel her heat, the scented gentleness of her arm and the flood within me as though she had opened my rib cage with a deep cut of her chakram. But I no longer feared it. I sat up and looked upon her; every part of her seemed new to me. I gazed into her sleeping face and my soul felt satisfaction. Moved, I took up a scroll to write of all that I was seeing anew – her shoulder, her elbow, her eyebrow. I wrote down this poem to her head, her magnificent orb swathed in onyx hairs:
"Thine head is my cup
A great bowl, vast and round.
Here I drink thy blue water.
This gentle chalice found
In thy lips its daughter.
Dare I try to lift this vessel up
To spill libations on my humble ground?"
After I wrote I looked to her mouth and felt transfixed. XENA roused from her slumber, for, catlike, she sensed eyes upon her. Yet I could not look away. She called my name and I spoke not. She rose upon her knees and took my scroll from my fingers. In the bright moonlight she read it , and after reading leveled she her inscrutable gaze into my eyes.
XENA asked: "Why write thou bloodthirsty poems in the night? Hast thou become such a fearful warrior that thou dreams of drinking from the skulls of thine enemies?"
I protested that I meant no such thing.
"Then upon what head hast thou written?" demanded XENA of me.
I could not answer her.
XENA said: "The moon hath addled thy brain. Come to sleep lest thou lose thy sanity altogether." And I obeyed her, placing my scroll within my pack and laying quietly down beside her.
As I became still XENA softly spoke to me: "Gabrielle, dost thou regard me kindly in thine heart?"
"Yes," said I. "Most kindly."
"Is there aught thou will of me?" asked XENA.
"I ... can not say. Thou dost share all with me," I said and we were quiet again. Then XENA encircled me with her arms, holding me extraordinarily firmly, saying: "I believe that tonight I must bind thee to me closely, or moon-addled as thou art, thou may sleep-walk into the nearby pool and drown thyself tragically!"
And I knew that I should say something but I could not find any words. XENA waited for a reply, and hearing none, buried her lengthy nose in my hair, whispering: "Once thou spoke to me without surcease, like a little fountain bubbling with questions and tales. But in these days hast thou channeled thy current, for difficult times hath left thee reflective. Is it possible, my dear friend, that thy flow hath become too stayed?" This is all I remember, for shortly after did I surrender my senses to sleep.
Part II. We Pause in Our Journey To Athens
Upon the morning I awoke alone. I rose and saw XENA with her ear pressed to the withers of the great horse Argo, whose breathing was labored and her in-breaths whistled. With great concern in her face, XENA said that the wheeze of the horse had awakened her and that she desired to stable Argo that she may care for her sheltered from the elements. We were near to Athens and I said that I was sure that a livery stable would be easily found. But XENA said she liked not that Argo might be with strange horses that could breathe new infections upon her even as she may cause the other horses to sicken. But forthwith we took up camp to seek shelter in Athens.
We approached Athens on the less traveled road that passed through the artisans’ village on the edge of city. Overlooking the village on a hillside was a large estate richly laid out. "That is unusual," said XENA. "Why should one so wealthy place his villa so far away from the fashionable districts of the city?" Her musings were interrupted by many pathetic calls of fear and distress emanating ahead from a modest lodge that flanked our road. I heard a woman cry out "Can no one save my son, my precious child?"
"I think she sings thy song," said I to XENA.
"And most ardently," said XENA and she hastened to the place of turmoil. I render here the summary account of what we were told by those who had called out in need:
"This croft is owned by Saltus, the wealthy man of the hillside, which he acquired when he purchased diverse properties in this township where now he makes his home. He was told that for thirty years hath this house been sorely haunted by the uneasy spirits of a family hacked into pieces within by a wicked band of thieves. Saltus had not believed in the ghosts for the house seemed quiet to him when he purchased it, but he has never been able to keep a tenant in the house for always within the first day the angry spirits drive off all.
"Saltus then pledged that the croft shall be given to whomever can occupy the house a whole night. This family is the latest to try. They did but enter this morning and already the spirits have driven them out. They all fled safely to the road except their small boy whom the spirits have captured and will not release. It is his mother who wails so piteously."
Upon hearing this did XENA bravely enter the house and I did follow. The spirits were as a crying and moaning wind that swirled invisibly and fearfully through the house. The small boy stood in a corner and the furniture of the house swirled about to whip whomsoever might approach him. XENA most skillfully attempted to approach, first by stealth, then by leaping, then by force. But the spirits beat her back at each attempt, flinging her against walls and across the curtilage. Finally both of us were defeated and blown back out of the door.
I attempted to comfort the mother, saying that XENA surely would discover how to restore her child presently. In her turn XENA did suspiciously observe a man approaching with haste down the road. He was dressed richly and I surmised him to be the rich man of the hill and landlord to this croft. He walked bravely though aided by a crutch for he had mighty limp that must have dealt him great pain. XENA took me aside and pointed to the deep scar on the landlord’s leg where clearly many years ago his tendon must have been cruelly cut. "This hath I seen before in Thrace," said XENA.
Part III. How We Found Ourselves At Home
Saltus, for indeed it was he, looked about in a manner both proud and vexed. He said: "Hath another failed the simple task of peopling this benighted house? Why is this land so superstitious that you of Athens cannot fire a hearth without annoying your household demons?"
XENA approached him and said: "Thou speaks in the accents of Thrace, as do I."
"Yes," said Saltus. "But I came to this place in my travels and felt drawn to make my home here."
"How came thou by thine wealth?"
"I was once a merchant. I traded in cloth and spices."
"Indeed?" said XENA. "To see the muscles of thine arm and the fearful way thou flails thy stick I would have guessed a more vigorous trade."
XENA’s speech rendered Saltus florid, but he stood to XENA and challenged her. "I grow weary of observers," said he. "Had you any sense of use to me you would have applied it in some other way than to be tossed about my leasehold by these wanton little winds!" XENA departed from his side and came to me thoughtfully.
XENA said: "While within that house, Gabrielle, did thou see that fair and tidy stall at the far end of the courtyard? I believe it to be ideal for Argo this night!"
This filled me with trepidation, and I told XENA that I could not imagine any rest in so dire and inhospitable a house. XENA told me to have courage and she returned to the landlord, Saltus.
"Saltus, I know something of ghosts and I believe I have discovered how to quiet these souls within. Have any considered that the ghosts may be guarding a treasure?"
Saltus looked uncertain. "This is a humble home, not a villa. Ordinary artisans do not keep treasure. What is more, had there been treasure the thieves that murdered this family surely would have carried all valuables away!"
"Thou art the owner. Thou has seen the interior, hast thou not?"
"I have entered this house only once before, upon the time of my purchase of these several small properties that abut my mansion’s lands. I saw no ghosts and nothing extraordinary within!"
"Yet and still," said XENA. "There is some secret within for the ghosts have persisted these thirty years. If the ghosts guard a treasure, willst thou be the first to discover it or continue to await someone braver?"
Saltus, although lame, drew himself up tall upon his crutch, boldly mounted the threshold of the house and entered. Immediately did the sighing of the unrestful spirits cease and stillness came over the house. The trapped little boy bolted from his formerly beleaguered corner and raced to the road to embrace his mother. XENA said to me "Come thou, quickly!" and we entered the house.
Saltus stood by the hearth tapping the walls and floors systematically with his stick. While he searched for a hidden cache there was no discord from the spirits. "What sorcery is this, XENA?" I asked.
"The very oldest sorcery," said she.
After an hour Saltus said to XENA: "I have searched with thoroughness and I find no hidden places in this house. I cannot believe treasure is to be had here!"
"Perhaps not," said XENA. "However, now is the house quieted!"
"Yes, until the next Athenian fool enters and rekindles some mischief, I suppose."
"Wouldst thou have me quiet this house forever?" asked XENA.
"Do what thou willst," said Saltus. "It is commonly known that I have promised this croft to whomever spends a night within."
"I shall need to cut down that tall hedgerow," said XENA.
"Do as thou like, I care not," said Saltus and he leaned upon his stick to leave the house.
"Come out quickly, Gabrielle!" said XENA and we rapidly departed the house. XENA unsheathed her sword and hacked upon the hedgerow for many hours until it was all demolished and reduced to broken twigs and branches, which I dragged off and piled. The sun was setting as XENA finished and she said: "Gabrielle, now take my mare Argo and lead her to the stall within the courtyard of this house while I gather straw for her bed."
With much apprehension I took the reins of Argo and led her across the threshold to the courtyard of the croft. Yet was Argo calm and no troubled winds blew through the quiet house. I started a fire in the hearth and all seemed at great peace within and fragrant resin scents wafted through the air. XENA entered and tended to Argo while I prepared our evening meal.
Our dinner was pleasant and the home, so benighted this afternoon, was in this evening warm and dear. XENA sat beside me and said that Argo would be whole in two or three days.
"Well, as of tomorrow we shall be owners of this croft!" said I.
"I desire no property," said XENA.
"Yet, an shall we have it, let us open the gardens to the landless to grow their sustenance while we are away! And should we ever be lost to one another, let us vow to seek each other here."
"If that is what thou wishes," said XENA.
But still I had a concern: "XENA, fear thou not that the unquiet spirits shall return to do mischief to Argo and ourselves?" I asked
"I think not," she said. "I think the spirits now have what they desire."
"What is that?"
XENA smiled at me. "Didst thou notice how Saltus had been hobbled in his leg? This is a punishment that slave dealers of Thrace worked upon their most unruly slaves. I suspect that Saltus was never a merchant but gained his wealth by vengefully turning upon those that oppressed him in slavery, seizing for himself their ill-gotten spoils. He appears to be a strong and resourceful man."
"Does that mean that this household’s unquiet spirits feared him?"
"No," said she. "I think it was the opposite." I was perplexed.
"Among decent folk," XENA explained, "one’s spirit is calmed by the presence of one’s beloveds. When the unfortunate family members that had dwelt herein were brutally attacked, I suspect that among the thieves’ spoils was a very young boy, a valuable commodity for slave-traders. Perhaps the townspeople in investigating all the carnage did not notice in their inventory the loss of one of the small children."
"A boy?" I asked. "Like the little boy the murdered family’s spirits trapped in here this day?"
"Yes, and whom they released when their own dear boy appeared."
"What dear boy?" said I perplexed. "Dost thou mean Saltus?"
"Yes -- Saltus," nodded XENA. "I think so. Although I do not think he is aware of those ancient sentiments within his blood that hath ultimately guided him back to this village, for he was likely stolen very young. And see, Gabrielle," Xena rose and led me by the hand to the threshold of the house. "What dost thou see now that the hedge is chopped down?"
"The hillside house of Saltus!"
"Yes," said XENA. "Now have the ghosts always the sight of their dear boy and they are at peace."
"A loving sight brings peace to restless souls, XENA?" I asked. She said yes.
"Then should thou feel restless, XENA, look upon me. For I love thee with all my depth and I cannot bear to be out of thy sight."
"I do look upon thee, Gabrielle."
I placed my head upon her breast and said "Send away all thine unquiet ghosts and I shall dwell at thy warm hearth forever." I raised my mouth and received her kiss, warm and nourishing.
And by her side that night I felt neither fear nor hesitancy, nor were my streams dammed up. She gave me her lips, full and open, and I gave her my soul, hot in my breath. Our clothes we set aside so that our skin could share our moisture and our hands could map even our unknown regions. At first I wandered about her blindly and she whispered "Open thine eyes, Gabrielle, and let me burn into thy sight!" And so I did. Madly possessed by the vision, I entered her plains and recesses as if drunken and foolish, so undone by her beauty that neither her distant-sounding cries nor her frantic call of my name could stay my hand, if, indeed, that was what she was asking for. I do not know – it was all very new to me.
My final recollection was of the two of our hands joined in a miniature of our congress while her other hand upon my thigh did combust me with such inconceivable force that I cried her name at the top of my voice. And then, I believe, I settled upon the hills of her breasts like a living volcanic ash, floating and superheated, until the morning light.
This is the end of my tale of XENA and the Restless Ghosts. All spirits reached repose in the telling of this tale.
This Fanfic is by Thatpote.