A Good Day
Disclaimer: Infringement is not intended in the use of Xena, Gabrielle and Flannigus, and there is no monetary gain on my part. These characters belong to MCA, Renaissance Pictures, and USA.
Although there is subtext hinted at in this story, it is very mild. This story has violence and hurt/comfort scenes throughout and is therefore has a rating of PG.
Any offerings, burnt or otherwise, can be directed to me at ArdentTly@yahoo.com
The Warrior Princess squared her shoulders, and her blue eyes coldly settle on a pair of Roman soldiers, brandishing their swords in her direction. With a snarl she is upon them, quickly disarming one and skewering the second. As the first soldier lunged forward, she grabbed him by the shoulders and cracked his forehead with her own. He fell bonelessly to the ground.
Xena looked up, momentarily dazed, and squinted through the black smoke, trying to find Gabrielle. There is pandemonium everywhere she looked. Her eyes are wild as she slowly pivots on her heel in a circle. Screams of pain and rage fill the air and yet all Xena can hear is the thudding of her heart. There is nothing that will calm its frantic rhythm, only the knowledge that her friend is safe and unharmed.
The hair at the nape of her neck prickled and Xena spun around, her vision partially obscured by her long dark strands of hair. Another soldier came flying towards her, his mouth open and screaming, his spear at the ready. She dodged him at the last moment and then grabbed the spear as he flew by. Using the end to apply a nasty upper cut, Xena then turned the weapon upon him and brutally thrust it into his chest, through his armour, and pinning him to the ground.
Her eyes were cold and she barely registered his lifeblood soaking the ground beneath him. The sounds of the wounded and dying filled her ears and she madly looked around, trying to catch a glimpse of....
With the shouts of men in anger and fear, the bard wasn't sure at first whether she'd heard her name being called or not. She turned slowly, dodging the swing of a sword, countering with a two handed blow of her staff. As the man went down, Gabrielle turned, and putting her hand up to shield her eyes, caught a glimpse of the warrior surrounded by four soldiers. Each one is going full tilt towards her friend, swords and spears at the ready.
Although she couldn't possibly hear, Gabrielle is sure by the feral look on Xena's face that she is laughing evilly. The bard arched her neck as Xena went down under the onslaught - only to reappear moments later, a gash on her right cheek and arm, covered in blood and dirt but still grinning. Only two of the surviving soldiers had enough energy to crawl slowly away to die elsewhere of their wounds.
A blanket of smoke obscured her vision and Gabrielle tried desperately to see where her friend had gone. A shout of glee caught the bard's attention and she tore her focus away from Xena, confident that the woman will make short work of anyone who dared stand against her. Her eyes widen as she recognized the soldier who shouted. Their friend Flannigus cut the throat of the last man standing against him in battle and then raised his sword high in triumph. Gabrielle can't count the men that litter the area surrounding him. Part of her felt pride at the scene but it was immediately replaced by a larger more complete feeling of anguish and shame.
And then, as if in slow motion, Gabrielle watched in horror as Flannigus is clubbed from behind. It was clear from the look on his face that he believed the tide was turning, that Rome would not win this day. Now he lay in the dirt, both hands defending himself against certain death. Frantically looking for someone, anyone, to aid her friend, the bard shouted to a few loyal men nearby. However, they are in their own battle against swarms of enemy soldiers.
Her fists clenched in frustration, Gabrielle instinctively ducked as a spear is thrown her way. Taking a step forward, her boots slipping in the blood and dirt, she can see that unless she does something, unless she stops the Roman soldier's senseless action, Flannigus will die. Horribly. She looked about for something, anything, and picks up the spear that had just narrowly missed her seconds ago. Without pause for thought, she lifted it high and hurled it towards the Roman soldier grappling with her friend.
The spear seemed to have a will of its own and fell uselessly into a mound of dirt three feet before its mark, not even close to where the deadly action continued to play out. Flannigus is losing ground against the larger and stronger soldier. With a cry, the bard watched the Roman reach for a weapon. Her vision blurs and her heart lurched as the man shoved a spear into Flannigus's. She blinked deeply, unable to comprehend what had happened before she could even make a second attempt at saving her friend. As her mouth hung open in shock, an arrow almost immediately sprouted from the Roman's chest and he fell to his knees before toppling over in a heap. Gabrielle tracked what she believed must be the path of the arrow and she recognizes the archer Temecula. Because she couldn't...no, because she wouldn't take a life, the young man has lost his blood innocence. Guilt and rage consumed her. Covering her mouth, Gabrielle ran towards the crumpled body of Flannigus, hoping that perhaps his wounds were not as terrible as she knows they must be.
Dodging wounded soldiers, broken bodies and the weapons of war, Gabrielle finally threw herself down over the body of her friend. She can see the blood pumping in a steady stream out of the wound in his chest, his eyes already glassy and his complexion grey. Placing both hands over his wound, she tried to staunch the flow, to somehow beat Death, but it's useless and she knew it. Closing her eyes tightly for a moment, refusing to give into the despair that threatened to swamp her, Gabrielle screams silently, hating herself completely. Not only had she failed her friend Xena, but now another friend lies mortally wounded because of her inability to do what needed to be done. Pulling his head into her lap as the life continued to seep out of Flannigus' damaged body, she crooned a lullaby learned at her mother's knee. She is reminded how very far she has gone from the person her parents wanted her to be.
Gabrielle was hit with the full horror of war at that moment. All the fear, the horror...the fact that she had lead mere farmers against the elite soldier's of both Pompeii and Caesar to certain death; that she and Xena had helped torch a village only to stop the advancing Roman army from procuring any supplies, burning down both material goods but memories as well; that because of her inability to do the right thing, to prevent a friend's death, his blood was now on her hands.
She grabbed the lifeless body close and shook it, as if by her mere force of will she could undo the horrible realities of war. She screamed to the heavens, her face contorting in rage and suffering, tears coursing down her dirty and tired face.
Not even acknowledging the presence beside her, she doesn't see the look of sorrow and remorse fill Xena's eyes. She can feel nothing but a terrible emptiness. Then she was taken into a fierce embrace and soft low nonsensical words are rushing by her ears.
Everything seemed to conspire against her right then: the embrace holding her together, letting her fall apart; the rocking motion that seemed to center her once more; and finally, the soft kiss on her temple as the Warrior Princess bestowed the final blow that would undo everything...letting her soul fly far, far away. Away from the horror, the death, and the senselessness of it all.
The Warrior Princess dodged a few more soldiers before coming to a clearing that was littered with the dead and dying men from both sides of the war. And through the haze, she could see that her battle tactics are certain to win the day. One of the men she had been training earlier that day performs a move she'd taught him flawlessly, and decapitates an enemy soldier without pause. She raised her arm, sword held high, and yelled her approval. Then the wind shifted and she can see another tangle of Roman soldiers making strides against her men. With a roar, she races forward and engages the enemy. Loud clangs ring in her ear, accompanied by grunts as each soldier she faces tried to best her. When the last man falls, she again turns her focus to Gabrielle.
A shout pierces the air and Xena recognizes her friend's voice. Racing forward, not stopping to engage the small pockets of resistance that stand in her way, she pushes her way through, slicing as she goes, her heart filled with fear. She cannot even bear to think of Gabrielle being wounded and guilt grips her innards. It is her doing that keeps the small blonde by her side, facing mortal danger every day of their lives. And yet she can't seem to persuade Gabrielle that to stay by her side means a lifetime of pain, sorrow and certain death.
As she climbed the low rise, the Warrior Princess stood as if pole axed. Gabrielle sat quietly in the mud, wisps of her blonde hair flying in a tangle from beneath her helmet. Fearing she might be wounded, Xena strode forward, not stopping to see if it was friend of foe beneath her boot. As she gained ground, Xena felt her heart sing - the blood that covered her friend's hands and arms is not hers. Another wave of guilt slams against her as she recognized the man she had just begun to think of as a friend. It's obvious by his glassy eyes and slack expression that Flannigus has succumbed to his wounds. And yet all she can feel is relief. It was obvious to her in that one moment that what she'd been feeling for her friend went beyond mere friendship, and passed into the realm of pure love. She walked carefully toward the young woman, her senses picking up the young man standing nearby, his hands still holding the bow, the arrow protruding from the dead Roman nearby, and the sudden silence that filled the air. Soldiers from both sides were limping away, either under their own steam, or helped away by comrades. Xena's heart is filled with pride at what they've accomplished against what looked to be overwhelming odds. Her friend performed exactly as she knew she could - doing what needed to be done.
And then Gabrielle looked up into her eyes, and Xena was lost. The pain and anguish hit her hard. It was suddenly inconceivable to Xena that she could place such a gentle soul in the path of death and destruction, feeling nothing but pride when Gabrielle threw away her principles.
Blinking away a traitorous tear, Xena pushed back her feelings of despair and held her friend close as Gabrielle's hot tears fell over the front of her Roman tunic. Her red-rimmed eyes glisten as she felt the sobs racking her friend's small body. And all she could do was bear witness to it all, knowing that somehow Gabrielle will have to make sense of it, analyze it and then decide what to endure and what to put away for another time when nightmares haunt her sleep.
Copyrighted by ArdentTly, October 1998
alt fic | xena
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