DISCLAIMER: Xena, Gabrielle, Virgil and Eve belong to MCA/Universal/Renaissance and are used here without permission in this fan fiction. This story is not intended to infringe on their copyrights. It is solely for entertainment purposes.
WARNING: This story contains some violence, nudity and explicit love scenes between two women. If you are not 21 years old or are offended by this or if this type of material is illegal where you live, please stop reading and leave this site. Each to his own and I wish you well.
SPOILERS: Ides of March
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is the story of a deep abiding love that exists between Xena and Gabrielle. Their relationship and their love have taken many forms over the years. This story portrays the agonies of their hearts over the last year and their journey back to each other. Great thanks and credit is given to Bullfinch's Mythology for Virgil's 'The Aeneid'. This story changes some of the events of this season for dramatic effect.
"That's all you're offering?!" Xena shouted.
Xena calmed down at her daughter's tone. She had been sitting in Amphipolis' largest marketplace for hours trying to convince the local moneylender, Neman to take Cyrene's abandoned inn off her hands. Neman was a fat little man, smug and arrogant. He sat unfazed by Xena's threatening stance. Instead he stuffed his face with baked pastries.
"It's not nearly enough, Neman!"
"I've seen that place, Xena. I'm being generous!"
"Mother, obviously he doesn't know about the hidden assets of the inn." Eve looked pointedly at her mother.
Xena caught on quickly. "Eve, stay out of this!" Xena now noticed that she had Neman's undivided attention.
"What are these hidden assets? I might be willing to increase the price, if I knew that old demon haunt..." He slobbered.
Eve stopped her mother before she could put her hands on Neman. "Sir, certainly you realize that this is the legendary Xena."
Neman nodded and waited impatiently for the girl to get to her point.
"And that long before my mother fought for the greater good, she was ..."
"A warlord, the worst there was by every account." Neman volunteers.
"Thanks." Xena said dryly.
Eve wouldn't give up on her scheme. "All warlords have hidden assets and usually find a place to hide them."
Neman nearly chokes on the pastry he was eating.
"Are you saying that..."
Xena leaned in close. "Do you understand now that what you're offering is much too low?"
The fat little man smiled smoothly and rotten teeth showed. "Who would have suspected old Cyrene of hiding loot in that old rattrap of an inn?! Of course, Xena. I can sweeten the price incredibly if I can count on the continued secrecy of these hidden assets."
Xena smiled wickedly.
Eve and Xena came out of the Neman's with a large bag of Roman coinage. It wasn't Xena's preferred currency but Eve had already told her that Greek dinars had no value in the Empire.
"So what are you going to do with all this?"
"First, we buy more traveling supplies, then we travel! I want to get out of here as quickly as possible."
Xena frowned at that thought and walked away.
At the river outside Amphipolis, Gabrielle did the wash as Virgil stood nearby reciting his latest idea for an epic.
"So what's your hero's name?" she called over her shoulder.
"Aeneas. I'm telling you, Gabrielle this is the best idea I've ever had!"
Gabrielle smiled at the youthful enthusiasm of the amateur bard. It was something she was intimately familiar with once. She stood to hang a few unmentionables on the branches of a nearby tree.
Virgil turned his back and blushed. Gabrielle nearly laughed aloud at his sweet shyness and embarrassment. Instead she wanted to hear this great epic. "Well, let's hear it."
With his back to Gabrielle, Virgil began to recite animatedly.
"We have followed one of the Greek heroes, Odysseus on his return home from Troy, and now we propose to share the fortunes of the remnant of the conquered people, under their chief Aeneas, in their search for a new home, after the ruin of Troy.
Gabriele paused, her thoughts were of Perdicus, the boy of Potadeia who became a man and disillusioned soldier at Troy.
Not hearing any reaction, Virgil stopped and turned. "Gabrielle?"
She cleared her throat and her clouded thoughts. She sat down the rocky ground and gave him her undivided attention. "Go on."
"On that fatal night when the wooden horse disgorged its contents of armed men, and the capture and conflagration of the city were the result, Aeneas made his escape from the scene of destruction, with his father, and his wife, and young son. His father, Anchises, was too old to walk, and Aeneas took him upon his shoulders. Thus burdened, leading his son and his wife, he made the best of his way out of the burning city; but, in the confusion, his wife was swept away and lost."
"That's good. Tragedy early in the story is always a good way to hook the audience."
Virgil was thrilled with the compliment of the Bard of Potadeia and boldly continued.
"On arriving at a place of rendezvous, numerous fugitives, put themselves under the guidance of Aeneas and began preparation for the journey to find a new home."
"How did all the refugees know where to meet?" Gabrielle asked.
"I...well, I haven't figured that detail out. But this is just the outline stage."
"Alright, sorry go on."
"They landed on the island of Delos, where Apollo and Artemis were born. This island was sacred to Apollo. Here Aeneas consulted the oracle of Apollo."
"Actually, Virgil there was no oracle at Delos. It's really a pretty desolate island. Volcanic activity makes it too unstable to live there."
"It's just poetic license, Gabrielle." He said in frustration.
"Right. Sorry. Go ahead. It's great so far."
Virgil began again. "Aeneas consulted the oracle of Apollo, and received an answer, "Seek your ancient mother; there the race of Aeneas shall dwell, and reduce all other nations to their sway."
"Ambiguous as usual." Gabrielle remarked.
"I'm sorry! It's just that in my experience..." Gabrielle saw Virgil begin to shift from foot to foot in frustration. "Sorry, Virgil. Go on. You're doing great."
"The Trojans heard the words with joy and immediately began to ask one another, 'Where is the spot intended by the oracle?' Anchises, the father of Aeneas, remembered that there was a tradition that their forefathers came from Crete and there they resolved to steer. The Trojans arrived at Crete and began to build their city, but sickness broke out among them, and the fields that they had planted failed to yield a crop. In this gloomy aspect of affairs Aeneas was warned in a dream to leave the country and seek a western land, called Hesperia."
"You're right this is an epic."
Virgil sat in defeat having had his ego deflated by his friend, who he had tried to model himself after.
Gabrielle hung her own head, ashamed of herself. "Virgil, I'm sorry. Maybe I'm not the one you should be sharing your work with. I haven't written in a long time, so who am I to critique you."
Virgil sensed a deep sadness in Gabrielle. He moved to sit next to her and brought her hands into his own. "No one understands my words like you Gabrielle. I meant it when I said that."
Gabrielle said nothing and marveled at the waves of compassion coming from Virgil. Suddenly, she was struck by his eyes. Although they were a different color, Virgil's eyes held the same loving tenderness that Perdicus' held so long ago.
"What is it, Gabrielle? What's bothering you?"
"I think I finally understand what he was going through. How he felt."
"Perdicus. He was a soldier at Troy."
"And he was your husband."
Gabrielle nodded as she finally broke down. She fought Virgil's attempts to bring her into his arms but he was persistent. "I don't know why I'm acting this way!"
"Thinking about home will always turn our memories to the people we love."
"How did you know I've been thinking about home?"
Virgil smiled knowingly. "Sins of the Past, your first scroll, you ran away from home and followed Xena to Amphipolis. This is one of the places where it all began." More seriously he added, "What were you like then, Gabrielle?"
"I left home thinking I could change the world." She snickered against his shoulder and leaned into his warmth. It was warmth she no longer had within herself. "I was very different than I am now. Incredibly stupid!"
"Gabrielle, you really aren't expecting me to help you put yourself down? "
"The most profound change in me is that now I have a great deal of blood on my hands." Gabrielle put her head in her hands and her shoulders slumped. "I'm the biggest hypocrite alive, Virgil. Remember to always give your epics a protagonist with a fatal flaw, an Achilles heel." She laughed harshly. "The Furies knew mine. They taunted me to kill Eve and stop the cycle of violence, they taunted me in the form of my daughter, Hope. A daughter who I'd murdered by my own hands twice!"
Virgil exhaled heavily and held her tighter.
"Perdicus knew. He laid down his sword before the violence ate him alive."
"I once read a scroll written by a brilliant bard that quoted Eli saying, 'You will fail many times but if you can follow the way, you can change the world.' Did you believe him, Gabrielle? Did you believe Eli when he told you the Way of Love could stop that cycle."
"I believed him... Even now with bloody hands and an angry heart, I believe him."
"What filled you with so much anger, Gabrielle?"
"The Romans." She whispered and slipped into the terrible memory.
In a Roman prison in Gaul, several Romans tied Gabrielle to a post. In shock, Gabrielle said nothing. She couldn't take her eyes off her lover. Xena lay face down in the straw of her cell unconscious.
Gabrielle didn't hear the head of the garrison order her flogged for her crimes and Xena's. She took no notice of her beautiful golden sari being torn from her body or the feel of the leather straps cutting off the circulation of her wrists.
Awareness only began to come back when Xena brought her head up to meet Gabrielle's eyes. Only then did she feel the frigid air on her naked skin, the disgusting gropes of the soldiers as they taunted her and finally the bloody stripes being cut into her back brutally, one after another.
Gabrielle concentrated on the beautiful blue of her love's eyes. Blue, like the peace of the sky. Blue like the restless sea. Blue, like...Blue, like... She couldn't think of anymore blues. The pain was unbearable. Soon a haze descended on her, a fog of numbness that dulled her wits. She could stand on her feet no longer but was held up by the post where her hands were tied.
A faraway voice screamed, "Please, no more! Cut her down, you bastards! She's had enough!"
Gabrielle hadn't done anything but groan as each lash bit into her back and buttocks. She knew that the Roman soldiers were waiting for her screams. If she screamed or cried out, it meant surrender. They would keep flogging her until she cried out in repentance or died. But maybe that was the appropriate punishment for her abandonment of the Way of Love, her betrayal of Eli's new faith.
"Gabrielle, please! Only you can make them stop! Can you hear me, love? Come out of it, Gabrielle! Come back to me! I need you! Don't leave me!"
Xena sounded lonely and broken. Gabrielle scolded herself. How could she think about leaving Xena behind? They should cross over together. Always together. Together. Together. The word chanted itself in her head. It brought her back to the land of the living if only for a few more hours to be with Xena. Xena. Xena. It became louder and louder until finally she screamed.
Gabrielle came back into the present, where Virgil had been waiting patiently for her to speak again. "I would have done anything to stop those Roman bastards from killing her! I kept thinking the whole time that if only I had a sword, if only I could change what was happening to us. I willingly brought violence into my life. I don't regret it. It's a form of power. I felt powerless then and I never want to feel that impotent again! I finally feel powerful, Virgil! It's an aphrodisiac! I can still change the world! And that's all I've ever wanted!"
"If that's what you need, Gabrielle, I can respect your choice. But I want your happiness." Virgil pushed back a few of the golden strands of Gabrielle's hair that fell in her eyes. "This chosen path, the Way of the Warrior doesn't seem to make you happy. I think ultimately that's what Eli wanted for all of us. The way of love gives us the only true happiness."
Tears begin to leak again from Gabrielle's eyes as she looks into Virgil's. He wipes away her tears with his thumbs, bringing his hands to cradle her face. "You reminded me once that it takes courage to walk Eli's path. Do you have the courage to get back on that path, Gabrielle? Eli gave us all hope that every living thing could be saved by love. I know you don't want to believe it, but you can be saved, Gabrielle."
Time stood still as Virgil and Gabrielle gazed at each other. This intimacy was interrupted by the sound of Xena's chakram flying above their heads. The weapon sliced through the tree branch that acted as a clothesline, dumping wet undergarments on Virgil's head.
"Hey, what's going on?!" He shouted trying to untangle himself in a very Joxer like manner.
"Xena!" Gabrielle cried out.
Xena stepped out of a few nearby bushes. "You know this isn't really the best spot to get hot and heavy. You might want to get a room somewhere!"
"And you know this because..." Gabrielle said hotly. "Let me guess! Cyrene caught you here more than once spreading for the local boys!"
"Look Gabrielle, I'm not asking for monogamy, just ..."
"You've got a lot of nerve asking that of me after Antony and Ares!"
Virgil had finally made his way from under Gabrielle's panties and began to explain. "Xena you don't understand. Gabrielle and I were just talking. She was missing home and I was just..."
"Virgil! You don't have to explain anything to her!"
"Gabrielle, I do if want to live!"
Xena, now unsure of what she actually saw, "Virgil, why don't you let us talk alone."
"Virgil, no!" Gabrielle pleaded. She was in no mood to fight off a jealous rage from Xena.
Virgil came close to her and took her by the shoulders, taking a moment to gage Xena as friend or foe. "You need to talk to her. Tell her what's going on inside you. If Xena is still your best friend."
He left Gabrielle to ponder that and walked over to Xena who stood clenching and unclenching her fists. "She needs you to listen to her. Really listen. She's hurting."
Xena softened and nodded in understanding. They both watched as Virgil walked back to town.
This was a familiar feeling for them both, distance.
"I sold the inn." Xena volunteering to break the ice.
"Got a killing for it, thanks to Eve. I probably could have gotten more if I had brought my best haggler."
Gabrielle smiled at that. "As long as no one took advantage of you, we'll let it slide this time."
"Now there's something that no one ever worried would happen to me."
"I have, Xena."
"Thank you. For worrying and caring. What about you? Is it true what Virgil said? Are you homesick?"
"It's alright Xena. I know you'd like to get moving again."
Unable to stand the distance any longer, Xena walked over and pulled Gabrielle into a tight embrace. "I don't want you to think I'm keeping you from your family, Gabrielle. But I admit I'm worried. The last time we were in Potadeia, your parents were very cruel to you."
"I brought Hope and the Destroyer into their home, then I tell them about us. It couldn't have been easy..."
"You didn't have anything to do with that monster!" Xena knew she had just made a mistake. Gabrielle would never accept that Hope was beyond redemption only that she failed her daughter in some way. Already Xena could see her friend withdrawing into her own pain. "I'm sorry. Look, I'm just afraid, you'll get hurt again."
Xena was unmoving on the issue of Herodotus and Hecuba's behavior toward their daughter. Not long after burying, Hope and the Destroyer in an abandoned field. They had come back to her parents' farmhouse to further explain. Gabrielle was put through the awful ordeal of explaining how she was tricked into committing murder and then raped by Dahak. The young woman could barely get through the explanation of how her rape conceived Hope. There were no words to explain the horrific.
When Herodotus blamed Xena, there was Gabrielle, defending her, telling them of their love. How it brought her through the worst time of her life. Xena felt unworthy of her. It was then that Herodotus asked them to leave. Gabrielle seemed to have been punched in the gut. She seemed rooted and her eyes begged for her mother's interference. She didn't get it.
Instead Hecuba seemed ashamed of her daughter and averted her eyes. "You need to leave Gabrielle. Just leave now."
"Mother, please!" Gabrielle moved to hug her mother but her Herodotus stood in her way.
"Get out!" He demanded. "We still have to live in this village and I don't want to have to explain that my daughter is some warlord's whore!"
Nothing could have held Xena back then. She slapped Herodotus across the room and he fell to the floor. Hecuba, instead of comforting her distraught daughter stricken by cruel words, silently went to help her husband.
Something in Gabrielle seemed to give up. "I was never good enough, was I? I was your Lazy Gabby, your little dreamer. I was the daughter you were just going to pawn off on poor Perdicus with a good dowry."
Now Hecuba began to spew hatred towards her daughter. "We hoped that he'd make a good wife of you! Tell me something, Xena. Did you arrange to have the boy killed then seduce his grieving widow into your bed?!"
Lilla gasped, "Mother!"
Gabrielle could take no more. "We'll leave then."
Lilla walked with them to the road and hung on to her big sister promising to stay in touch in spite of their parents. I told her to send her letters to my mother's inn in Amphipolis. I'm sure that Gabrielle thought that these were empty assurances until Lilla made me promise to bring Gabrielle back for her birthday later in the year. I made that promise. And in the dead of night, they walked away from Potadeia.
"You think they still feel the same way?" Gabrielle asked gingerly.
Xena wanted to lie but couldn't. "I don't know. It's possible that time has..."
"Has mellowed them out?" Gabrielle fought her tears and bolstered faint hopes. "I've got to know if they're alive, Xena. Especially Lilla."
"I know." Xena kissed her forehead. "So we'll leave tomorrow for Potadeia."
Gabrielle snuggled close and gave her thanks by kissing the hollow of Xena's throat. Privately, Xena vowed not let her go through another scene like two years ago.
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