Truth and Consequences
By Petra Piperno


The main characters in this work of fiction belong to MCA/Universal/Renaissance Pictures; they are merely being borrowed, however the story is mine as is the character of Andreas. The story does depict some violence and loving and/or sexual relationships between consenting adult women. If this is illegal where you live, or if the idea bothers you, or you aren't of age, don't read it.

Feedback is welcomed.

I have included commercial breaks for those of us who love to be interrupted in the most dramatic or inopportune moments during this extraordinary television show. Thanks to K for the idea, but the commercials are mine - I came up with them in the middle of the night when I should have been sleeping. Two bewildered cats can vouch for me.

(Note: The warlord Andreas appears here for a second time, the first being in my 'Mud, Muck, and Ecstasy' which you don't have to read before this story for it to make sense. The story takes place, say about a couple of months after Perdicus is killed, and a few weeks after Xena and Gabrielle finally get down.)

Xena entered the dark room cautiously, her sword drawn. All of her senses were on alert as her eyes got accustomed to the darkness. Quietly she closed the door behind her. Whoever was in this room was not going to be leaving. Suddenly, she heard the sound of a match being struck. Xena readied her sword as she watched the hand holding the match light a candle.

"Show yourself," Xena demanded.
"I'm working on it," a voice purred out of the darkness.
"Callisto!" Xena could only barely see a silhouette, but the voice was unmistakable.
"Put your sword down, Xena. Someone could get hurt," chided Callisto. "I'm not here to fight with you."

Ever skeptical, Xena held on to her sword, but relaxed her stance. Callisto had lit a couple of additional candles and Xena could see that she had no weapons. In fact, the room was empty save for a table, two chairs, and a large bed.

"Search the room, if you like," Callisto pouted, "but, as I said, I don't want to fight."
"Then why are we here," Xena was getting impatient.
"Well…" Callisto sat down on the bed and, without taking her eyes off Xena, slowly began removing her armor and leathers piece by piece.
"Callisto…what…what are you doing?" Xena quietly murmured as she felt beads of sweat forming at her temples and the hairs stand up on the back of her neck.
"I'm doing what we've both wanted to do for a while. Come here," Callisto motioned toward the bed.

Xena could hardly believe her eyes and her other senses as she dropped her sword to the ground and took a step or two in Callisto's direction. 'I have wanted this for a long time,' Xena thought to herself as she hungrily gazed at the creamy skin, the firm breasts, the white-blond hair setting off the deep, dark brown eyes, the soft ruby-red lips. 'By the gods, what is happening to me,' she thought as she approached her nemesis, desire now coursing through her every vein.

Callisto stood up and threw the rest of her clothes to the floor. She grabbed the back of Xena's head and kissed her, forcing her tongue deep into Xena's mouth. Xena returned the attention.

As they broke the kiss, Callisto thumped on Xena's armor. "This has got to go."
"Absolutely," Xena muttered huskily.

In moments, armor and leather were flying in all directions. Back in each other's arms, both women commenced biting, licking, nipping, touching, and kissing with urgency anywhere and everywhere their sexual arousal desired. Callisto shrieked as Xena sucked on a hardened nipple. Xena moaned as Callisto ran her hand across her sopping mound. Small trickles of blood mixed with sweat rolled down each of their backs where fingernails had dug in. With a maniacal grin, Callisto shoved Xena down onto the bed and straddled her, both of them taking ragged breaths.

Xena stared up at Callisto and, thinking of only one thing, said, "Turn around. I want to taste you."
"I want to taste you, too, my sweet," Callisto cooed as she turned. "Let's come together."

[Commercial break: ElysianDays Undergarment Liners, Cy's Limousine Service, Horace's Horseshoes]

In a flash, Xena awoke. Breathing heavily and her body glistening with sweat, she quickly collected her bearings and sat up. The night was still, everything was in its place, and Gabrielle was sound asleep beside her. Xena quietly got up and walked down to the edge of the lake next to their campsite. She looked up at the moon and the stars in the sky as she had been doing almost every night for the past several nights and she wondered. She wondered how in Tartarus she was going to tell Gabrielle about her nightmare. Especially since her nightmare was not merely a dream, but an actual memory.

The sun was already above the horizon when Gabrielle woke up. Groggily, she sat up and looked around for Xena, finally spotting her sitting by the lake. Something was clearly wrong, just as it had been for the last few mornings, but Xena had not been ready to talk about it.

Gabrielle was worried. 'Maybe she thinks we made a mistake. Maybe she's reconsidered. Maybe she doesn't feel the way she thought she felt. Maybe…maybe…maybe…' All sorts of scenarios filled Gabrielle's head. She would have to force the issue. Today. This morning. Now.

"Hey there. Are you trying to catch fish by staring them to death?" Gabrielle ventured lightly as she came up.
Xena forced a smile, but Gabrielle could see that her features were drawn, and there was no smile in those deep azure eyes. Sitting down next to the woman she loved, Gabrielle started nervously drawing circles in the sand with a small stick. Something was terribly wrong.

The air was thick with dread as Gabrielle collected herself and decided to jump in. "Xena, you've got to tell me what's going on."
"Yes," Xena started slowly, "I guess I do."
"Is there something wrong with…with us?" asked Gabrielle, barely above a whisper.
"No. It's not us, it's me." Xena clenched her fists and gathered her strength. She would need all of it. "I…" she trailed off as she looked into the loving, trusting emerald eyes of the woman she was about to drive away.
Gabrielle put her hand on Xena's arm and tried to prepare herself for the worst. "Go on." It was like pulling teeth, but Gabrielle knew that patience would prevail.

After a few moments of agonizing silence, Xena continued. "There's no good way to say this. You know I haven't been sleeping well lately." Gabrielle nodded. "Well, I've been…haunted…I guess, by the memory of something I did not too long ago that I think you should hear about from me, before you find out some other way." She paused, and then, "I was…with Callisto the night you were with Perdicus, your wedding night, the night before she murdered him."

It was as if Gabrielle had been struck by a thousand arrows. She sat, motionless, almost paralyzed by the confession. Rage was building into a crashing roar in her head as she recalled every moment of that painful day, starting with her marriage ceremony, her parting with Xena, to the following morning when Callisto had capriciously murdered her new husband and had unmercifully taunted her. Then she started imagining Xena with Callisto just hours before that fateful encounter.

"Why?" was all she could say over the pounding of her pulse as she drew her hand away from her lover.

Xena could feel the shock wave emanating from the woman beside her. She hung her head and tried to figure out how to answer the simple question.

"I…I…don't…know," Xena stammered, her head reeling. After a pause, she continued. "I thought I had lost you. I wanted to punish myself, to lash out at something, maybe to lash out at you. There is no excuse for what I did, Gabrielle, I can only pray to the gods that you can forgive me. I love you more than life itself." Xena looked up and saw that tears were streaming down Gabrielle's cheeks as she stared out over the lake.

"Gabrielle, please say something," she pleaded.

Slowly and unsteadily, Gabrielle got up and began to walk back to their campsite. "I have to go," she said quietly as she wiped away her tears.

Xena sprang up and ran after Gabrielle, stopping in front of her to block her. "Talk to me, I beg of you." Xena's heart was breaking. "Where are you going?"

"I'm going home. Now please get out of my way and please don't come after me. I have to pack."

Xena reached out to touch Gabrielle's arm, but Gabrielle pulled away. "Don't touch me," she said with such force that it caught Xena off guard.

'By the gods, I've really done it this time,' Xena lamented to herself as she got out of Gabrielle's way and watched her start packing up her things.

"Don't go, Gabrielle," Xena tried again, hoping for some small sign that it wasn't over between them.

Silently, Gabrielle continued packing, her heart aching, her mind racing, her stomach churning. She could not get the image of Xena and Callisto together out of her head. She wondered about all the things they might have done that she and Xena had done since their first glorious time together. As she finished collecting her things and slung her pack over her shoulder, she turned to Xena.

"Was she good?"
"Gabrielle! Please don't do this," Xena begged.
"Yes, she was," came the quiet reply.
"Honest answer, at least," Gabrielle said as she made her way out of their camp toward home.

Xena watched her disappear into the trees. Every fiber of her being was screaming out in pain, but on the outside, she was the stoic warrior princess. She stood rooted to the same spot for an eternity, it seemed, watching every last movement of branches and leaves in Gabrielle's wake, hoping she would turn around and come back, but she didn't.

[Commercial break: Cy's Limousine Service, Crazy Gods Trading Post, Warlord's Fashion Warehouse]

The sun was already high in the sky when Xena finally broke camp. Although she was in a daze, she went about the chore as methodically as always. Soon she was up on Argo, riding off in some random direction, but not the way Gabrielle had gone. As she rode, she replayed the events of the morning over and over in her mind. She also recalled the day when she had finally revealed her feelings to Gabrielle and found out that Gabrielle felt the same way. The contrast was practically ripping her apart. She rode on aimlessly for the better part of the day, her mind reeling, until a village presented itself in her path just before sundown. It was just as well, seeing as a storm was brewing and a few raindrops had already begun to fall.

'I need a drink,' she muttered to herself, as Argo neighed in agreement.

After finding a suitable stable for her only remaining traveling companion, Xena made her way to the tavern. She entered to find an already boisterous crowd merrily singing some annoying round. Pushing her way to the bar, and getting more annoyed by the moment, she growled at the barkeep, "A bottle of port. No, make that two bottles. And tell me where the furthest inn from here is."

The barkeep quickly complied with the surly warrior's request, and directed her to an inn across town. She threw him the dinars for the port and exited the noisy establishment into a light rain. Seeing as she felt very much like killing someone, Xena hoped that the inn would be quiet. Otherwise, she would have to uproot Argo from her nice, dry stall and go camp somewhere.

It didn't take long to find the inn she had been directed to, and luckily there were very few patrons. Xena quickly got herself a room, locked the door, and proceeded to drink both bottles of port. She sat in a chair hoping that the port would do its trick and wash away the memory of the flashing green eyes and the light, electric touch of her Gabrielle. All it did was make her numb and sluggish, and wish that she had gotten a third bottle.

After dozing on and off in a semi-drunk state all night long, Xena left the village just after sunrise. Again, she rode in some random direction, stopping only to give Argo a rest and some water. Xena was in such a haze that she didn't even notice that someone was following her. Late in the afternoon, Xena passed through another small village and picked up three bottles of port. She found a nice clearing in the forest as night was falling and she set up camp. The fact that she had not eaten in over two days was beginning to take its toll, but food was very low on her priority list. Sitting by the fire, Xena slowly finished off the port, hoping for oblivion, but even without food her tolerance was high.

"By the gods, I wish I were dead," she yelled into the darkness as she pounded her fist into the ground.
"That can be arranged," hissed a figure from behind her. It was the last thing Xena heard as the hilt of the stranger's sword came down and connected with the back of her head.

[Commercial break: Weapons Are Us, Esther's Chicken Shack, Cy's Limousine Service]

A stinging backhand across her face brought Xena to consciousness. She felt a trickle of blood ooze from a cut on her cheek just below her right eye. Opening her eyes, Xena saw the warlord Andreas standing in front of her. It was then that she noticed the aching of her arms and shoulders and realized that she had been essentially hanging while unconscious by her arms, which had been tied securely to two trees a little more than a shoulder's width apart. Her feet were shackled at the ankles, and her weapons were nowhere to be seen.

"Well, well, well. You're awake," sneered Andreas as he hauled off and punched Xena in the gut. "That's just the beginning, warrior princess. I owe you much more." Another blow to her face brought a rivulet of blood flowing from the corner of her mouth.

Xena recalled the last time they had met. He had been at the end of her sword, having been doubled over by a slash with a dagger directed at his manhood when he had tried to have his way with her.

"So, do you have anything to say for yourself, bitch?" Andreas goaded.

Still groggy from her drinking binge, Xena managed to gather herself enough to spit a mouthful of blood in his general direction.

"Gods! You mangy, fucking whore!" Andreas sputtered as he wiped the blood from his face. "That's going to cost you," he snarled as he grabbed his dagger and pressed it to Xena's throat. "Don't you forget who is in charge here!" With that, Andreas took a step away, kicked Xena squarely in the ribs, and then stalked off muttering obscenities.

Xena had endured the beating silently. She just barely had the strength to remain conscious, but her will to live was practically nonexistent.

'Fine. So this is how it's going to end,' she thought to herself in a haze.

Andreas returned in a huff with an array of weapons in tow. "Take your pick, Xena. Which one of these do you want me to finish you off with? You don't have to tell me just yet, though. Keep in mind that I plan to use all the others on you before I get to the climax. And speaking of climax, that's also the first thing that I have in store for you, or at least for me," Andreas growled as he came up to Xena and gruffly licked her neck.

The look of disdain on Xena's face only lasted for a moment as Andreas took the hilt of his sword and whacked her on the side of the head. She fell unconscious, hanging limply from the tree. Andreas proceeded to untie her and dropped her unceremoniously to the ground. He started unhooking his belt and licking his lips when all of a sudden, a strange sensation hit him. Slowly, he turned around, his life flashing before his eyes. He dropped to his knees as he saw Ares shaking his head at him. Falling forward, with all his weapons sticking out of his back, all Andreas could manage was a weak, "Why?"

"Because you're not worthy," Ares said simply, as he disappeared in a flash of light.

Xena didn't know how long she had been out. Squinting, she noted that the sun was peeking through the trees from high in the sky. It was then that she noticed the taste of blood in her mouth and the aching of her shoulders and ribs, not to mention the throbbing headache. Raising herself slowly to a sitting position, Xena looked around and saw Andreas nearby with a variety of weapons embedded in his back. Scanning the area, she was satisfied that there was no one else around.

'Easy come, easy go,' she muttered to herself as she dragged herself over to the body. Turning him on his side, Xena began searching for the key to unlock the shackles still binding her ankles. She found them in a small pouch and proceeded to free herself.

Doing a self-diagnostic as a matter of routine, Xena determined that her ribs were merely bruised and that the only other injuries were cuts and welts. She would live. 'What a great way to start the day,' she thought as she staggered to the nearest tree and leaned up against it. Slightly doubled over, she continued her survey of the area and soon found Andreas' campsite. It didn't look like it had been disturbed. The fire was out, but the remains of a rabbit were still attached to a spit over it. There was even some bread and port ready for consumption. Xena decided to eat a few bites although she still wasn't hungry, but her main focus was on returning to her own campsite and getting the hell out of there in case the weapon wielder returned. As she was leaving Andreas' camp, Xena grabbed a pack and threw the remaining bread and port inside, along with a couple of skins filled with fresh water.

As it turned out, Andreas had made camp not too far from Xena's and she found her way back in no time. After tending to Argo and hurriedly cleaning her cuts, Xena broke camp and rode off quickly. The throbbing in her head was getting worse, and the little food that she had actually eaten made barely a dent in her nutritional needs. But she still didn't care. Everything had changed now that she had driven Gabrielle away.

[Commercial break: Cy's Limousine Service, Nectarade, Candles and Things]

The shadows were growing long and Xena began drifting in and out of consciousness as she and Argo pressed on through the forest. Although her wounds weren't life threatening, the past couple of days had taken their toll and her strength was failing. Just as the sun was beginning to set, they came across a cleared pathway and Argo began to follow it. It led out of the forest and off in the distance lay Amphipolis. Argo had, in fact, been heading there the whole time.

Xena hazily realized where they were, and, gathering what strength she had left, rode straight to the back door of her mother's inn. Carefully dismounting, Xena petted Argo on the neck. "Good girl," she whispered as Argo snorted and whinnied.

Hearing the commotion outside, Cyrene came to the doorway and saw her daughter staggering toward her, barely able to walk, looking haggard and badly beaten.

"Xena! What happened?" she exclaimed as she rushed out to help.

"I look worse than I am, I think," Xena tried to calm Cyrene as they made their way inside. "Just help me to my room. I need to rest." Xena was beginning to feel very lightheaded.

Cyrene asked, concerned, "Where is Gabrielle? Is she alright?" She knew they had been virtually inseparable.
"Probably fine. Long story," Xena managed as they got her to her room and she collapsed on the bed.

Cyrene had just enough time to cover her daughter with a blanket before she fell into a deep sleep. Quietly exiting the room, Cyrene went about the evening chores and saw to Argo, but she closed up the inn early, returning to Xena's room to watch over her during the night. She lit a candle and sat by the bed, wondering what had happened and why Xena was traveling around with a bunch of bottles of port, but no Gabrielle. It was not likely that she would get many answers from her tight-lipped daughter.

It was the middle of the night and Xena woke with a start. Sleep was of little help the past few days, and continued to be so. She peered around, not quite sure of where she was, and then she remembered. Looking around the dimly lit room, she noted that Cyrene was asleep in a chair next to her. 'I'll bet she's wondering what in Tartarus is going on,' Xena thought, grimly. She winced as she tried to turn to her side. 'Yup, the ribs are bruised.' Most of the rest of the night Xena spent staring at the ceiling. As morning came and Cyrene began to awaken, Xena closed her eyes pretending to be asleep. Explaining was the last thing she wanted to do just then.

The next few days seemed to pass in slow motion. Xena barely ate and slept even less, and consequently her injuries were very slow in healing. She would feign sleep during much of the day, but occasionally during the night, Xena would go out and spend some time with Argo or wander about the nearby woods. Cyrene was aware of Xena's behavior, but she still had not gotten any answers and she was growing increasingly worried as she watched her daughter retreat into silence. Realizing that Xena needed help that she could not provide, Cyrene in desperation decided to send word to Potedeia. Whatever had happened between Xena and Gabrielle was killing her daughter, and something had to be done.

It was the morning after Cyrene had sent a messenger for Gabrielle when the young bard arrived at the inn and found Cyrene working in the kitchen.

"Gabrielle! You're already here!" Cyrene exclaimed as she wondered how Gabrielle could have gotten there so quickly.

Looking slightly bewildered, Gabrielle greeted Cyrene with a quick hug and strained smile. "I had to come," she explained weakly.

It was then that Cyrene noticed the haggard look and the circles under the eyes. "How did you get here so fast?"

"What do you mean?" Gabrielle was confused.

"I sent a messenger for you. He just left yesterday and I'm surprised that you're already here."

Suddenly, Gabrielle's heart dropped. Something had happened to Xena. "I didn't get any message. I was on my way here already. What's wrong?"

[Commercial break: Leathers To Go, Ravenica's Secret, Cy's Used Chariots]

Cyrene recounted how Xena had arrived, badly beaten, and also of her bizarre behavior of the past several days.

"She won't tell me what happened, but it almost seems like she has given up," Cyrene looked beseechingly into Gabrielle's eyes. "Can you help her?"

"I hope so." Gabrielle then went to Xena's room and knocked softly on the door. There was no answer, so she knocked again, more loudly.

"Go away," a voice growled from inside.

"Xena, it's me. Please let me in," Gabrielle almost pleaded. After a moment, she heard footsteps, the rattle of a key in the lock, and the door opened. She almost didn't recognize the figure before her. There were still the remnants of cuts and bruises on Xena's face, but it was the dark, clouded look in and around her eyes that most caught Gabrielle's attention. It was not the sparkling azure that she had been used to.

Before Gabrielle even had a chance to register much more, Xena looked deep into her eyes. "Please forgive me, Gabrielle. I can't live without you," came the earnest admission.

No more needed to be said. The bard was beyond words as she fell into Xena's open arms and they held each other tightly for what seemed like an eternity. Xena breathed an enormous sigh of relief, and the light in her eyes flickered on as her soul began its journey back to the land of the living.

[Closing credits]

Disclaimer: Several bottles of port were harmed during the making of this motion picture.


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