Disclaimer: I do not own Gabrielle, Xena, or Argo. They belong to MCA/Universal. No copyright infringement is intended. The story, however, is mine.
Reminder: There is absolutely no violence, foul language, or sexual content in this story. It can be legally read by all ages. It is a serious tale so if youre looking for a lot of humor you may want to save this one for later.
Im all tired out.
Want me to cook dinner?
Im not _that_ tired.
Gabrielle stumbled to her feet and put the fish on the frying pan while Xena finished setting up camp.
All the stars and moon were shimmering brilliantly. A warm breeze was present, making it a lovely night for the two travelers.
What are you thinking about, Gabrielle? Xena inquired.
Weve both had our fair share of run-ins with gods.
But its just really hard for me to imagine that anything would have enough power to create the world. I look around and I see all the beauty before me. Look over to the right. You see the gently swaying trees? Their leaves are a beautiful cascade of orange, yellow, and red.
Its dark, Gabrielle. I cant even make the trees out clearly.
In you head. See it in your head. Cant you visualize it?
Yeah, I guess so.
Look at the moon. Its full tonight. Can you see its jolly face smiling at us?
Jolly face. Yeah. Sure. Where are you going with this?
Its just that all the gods Ive met dont seem to have it together enough to create anything like this.
Its enough that its there.
Both the warrior and bard were sitting down by the campfire while they waited for dinner to cook. Gabrielle laid back and closed her eyes but continued to talk.
You know, Joxer might be a dimwit, but at least he can cook.
Hes not such a dimwit that he cant see how special you are, Xena thought to herself. She couldnt bring herself to tell Gabrielle how Joxer felt about the bard, not that Xena could imagine Gabrielle and Joxer together. Fortunately for Gabrielle, Joxer had reconciled with Meg and he was probably with her at this moment. Besides, Gabrielle still hadnt totally gotten over Perdicus death.
Xena thought about Callisto. There was a sore subject. Though she would never tell Gabrielle, Xena knew that one day Callisto or Velaska would find a way to get out. It was just a matter of when. Xenas thoughts lingered on that for a moment before she shook them off. Tonight, all was calm and she didnt want to ruin the mood.
Hmm? Gabrielle was exhausted. She didnt even open her eyes when responding to her name.
The fish are burning.
Oh, Zeus. Gabrielle jumped to her feet and took the fish off the fire. Her vision blurry, the bard burnt herself and was hopping up and down in pain. If a stranger walked in and saw Gabrielle, the person would either burst out in laughter or run away, afraid for their life.
Xena continued to talk as if nothing was happening. It was the only way she could keep her composure.
Weve been on the road a while. Theres a village about a days ride from here. If youd like, we can go there tomorrow, offered Xena.
Sounds good. Wait, Gabrielle froze, pain forgotten. Did you say ride?
Yes, I did.
Oh, well. Gabrielle sighed.
What did you do? Xena finally asked.
Burned my hand.
Come here and let me see.
Gabrielle walked over to Xena and put out her left hand for inspection.
Very minor. Xena let go of the hand, satisfied that Gabrielle was
okay. Pour some cool
water on it.
Gabrielle did so. She then handed Xena the fish.
Here. Im not that hungry.
You? Not hungry? Theres a first.
Gabrielle ignored her. She was too tired to get in a fight with her friend. Shed probably lose anyway. The bard flopped down on her bedroll and was soon asleep.
Cmon, Gabrielle. Its time to go. Xena gently shook her friend.
All right. The sleepy woman stood up, rubbing her eyes. Dawn had not quite come yet and she was being called, as usual.
Everyday, we get up before dawn, Gabrielle grumbled to herself. She walked to the nearby stream and cleaned herself up. Soon after, she was ready to go.
Xena climbed onto Argo, then put out a hand to help her horse-fearing friend up. Gabrielle closed her eyes and tried to relax. She took Xenas hand and seated herself behind the warrior.
Yah! Xena urged Argo into a gallop and they took off toward the village.
They rode for what seemed like ages. In the beginning, Gabrielle had told stories to keep herself occupied. For some reason, she kept telling the ones about Xena. This started to annoy the ex-warlord.
Gabrielle, she had said. I was there, I know what happened. Besides, you keep managing to leave yourself out. You were there when Goliath was defeated, you know. As memory serves, you were also there with Gareth and when Eros kid was running loose. Yet, your name has yet to be mentioned in any of those stories.
I know. But people dont want to hear about me. They want to hear about the hero. In your case, the heroine. Im not one, you are. For the most part Im just an observer.
Griffen feathers! You usually manage to get in on everything even when I try to keep you out of it. An observer. Ha! that will be the day.
Okay, maybe Im not an observer, just an overachieving sidekick.
Xena recalled their conversation shaking her head. She noticed that the chatty bard had been quiet for some time now and decided to say something to provoke a response from her friend.
We can take a break if you want.
Xena looked over her shoulder and found her friend was asleep. Immediately, she halted Argo. This was not normal. Gabrielle NEVER fell asleep on any horse, much less the towering Argo. The warrior slid off the horse and caught the falling Gabrielle in one swift motion.
Are we there yet? asked Gabrielle groggily. She surveyed her surroundings
and found that she was in Xenas arms.
No, were not. Were going to stop here for the day. Xena carried Gabrielle over to a soft patch of grass and laid her down. Gabrielle immediately sat up.
Last time I checked I could walk. Why are we stopping?
Because youre sick. Well finish the ride tomorrow. You shouldnt be riding for such long periods of time, you know. Why didnt you tell me you werent feeling well?
Xena grabbed the bards hand and put it up against her flushed cheek.
You feel your cheek? Youre burning up. Go to sleep.
Gabrielles pride told her to protest but her mind told her she felt awful and didnt feel like standing, much less riding. Stubbornness lost and her mind won. She lie back down and went to sleep.
Gabrielle woke up the next morning with a pounding headache. She noticed the sun was already well into the sky. Bewildered, she scanned the area for Xena. To her relief, she saw the warrior packing up Argo.
Xena noticed Gabrielle had wakened and strode over to her.
I think it would be best if we headed on to the village so you can rest in a bed.
I thought the original plan _was_ to go to the village?
It was. I was debating earlier on whether or not I wanted you traveling.
Youre so overprotective, Xena. Ill be fine. Gabrielle sat up and realized too late she did so too quickly. The trees around her began to spin and she suddenly felt very queasy.
Xena realized what was happening and rushed over. She lifted the bard up and put her down on her knees, leaving an arm wrapped around Gabrielles back and shoulders for support, just before the girl vomited.
Feel fine, huh. Xena commented.
I feel a lot better now, really. Thanks for getting me...situated before I threw up on myself.
Better you did it now than on Argo. Then, I would have to kill you.
Gabrielle laughed nervously. She knew Xena wouldnt kill her. She would, however, get really, REALLY peeved and Xenas temper was never something anyone wanted to mess with.
Think you can ride? Xena asked.
Xena mounted Argo and pulled Gabrielle behind her. She heard Gabrielle groan right before Argo took off.
Im on a horse, on _Argo_, and youre asking if Im okay?
Just dont pass out on me or anything.
Ill do my best.
Xena letting Gabrielle sleep late combined with the fact that they took a very slow pace caused the two to arrive at the village about mid-afternoon.
Gabrielle. I know you dont feel well, but would you get a room while I take care of Argo?
Gabrielle nodded and walked off and into the inn. The place was clean, but didnt seem to do much business for there were no other people in the lobby. Feeling tired and ill, she walked over to a man standing behind a counter who seemed to be in charge.
If she wasnt so sick she might have noticed that the gentleman was tired-looking
and that his brown hair and beard only had a hint of gray while his dark, haunted
eyes made him look ancient. She might have noticed the tremor in his hands that
had plagued him for years now and how his shoulders
slouched. But the usually perceptive Gabrielle was either too sick to notice or she was too sick to care. It was probably the former because Gabrielle had too big of a heart not to try to comfort any suffering soul, no matter what her own condition was.
Hello, Gabrielle said.
The man didnt reply, just looked blankly at her.
Id like a room for two nights. Gabrielle took out two dinars and placed them on the counter.
The man nodded and took the money.
Thank the gods, thought Gabrielle. I am so glad I didnt have to haggle. Im not at all feeling up to it.
The man spoke softly, barely above a whisper.
Here you are. He brushed the hair out of his eyes and turned to
go. Suddenly, he stopped as if to say something. For a brief moment, the man
looked straight into Gabrielles eyes. He blinked once, then looked away.
Slowly, he started back to the counter. Though in good physical form, he
walked as a man twice his age.
Gabrielle wanted to speak when he looked into her eyes but she couldnt. For once, she didnt know what to say. She saw pain and torment in those dark eyes that exceeded the pain of losing Xena and Perdicus combined. Up until that point, she didnt think it was humanly possible. Feeling more sick than she had the day before, Gabrielle went to find Xena.
She didnt have far to look. Xena was coming in the inn as Gabrielle was leaving.
You dont look so good, Xena commented.
A simple hi would be nice. Just to let you know, I dont feel so good, either.
Before Xena could say anything Gabrielle put up her hands to quiet her.
Settle down, Xena. Ill go to bed in a minute.
Xenas blue eyes betrayed a look of worry that very few other than Gabrielle would have noticed.
You arent going to believe that guy behind the counter, Gabrielle began to speak again. Look into his eyes, Xena. It scares me.
Xena looked over at the man just as he looked up to see who his new guest was talking to.
Its Xena, the man shouted. Quick! Help me!
Instantly, armed villagers came rushing into the inn. Gabrielle readied her staff. By now, she had learned never to go into any situation unarmed.
Xena put a hand on Gabrielles shoulder and motioned for her to lower the staff. Gabrielle was too sick to be fighting and Xena knew it. She would just have to let herself be taken and take it from there.
What about the girl? asked one of the men holding Xena, pointing to Gabrielle.
Let her be, said the man from behind the counter.
Xena was chained and lead to the jail. Two people held her and at least twenty followed closely behind.
We knew youd come here someday, Xena, one of the large men holding Xena said. Weve been waiting.
While Xena was being taken off, Gabrielle stayed to talk to the man from behind the counter.
Who are you? Gabrielle demanded to know.
My name is Theocrates, said the man with a nod of his head. Who are you?
My name is Gabrielle. I travel with Xena.
Theocrates tilted his head, thinking for a moment.
You have questions, I suppose. Ask. He crossed his arms and raised his eyebrows.
What do you have against Xena?
Theocrates laughed bitterly.
Are you such a fool that you dont know what Xena has done, who she is? Theocrates asked as he poured himself a drink from behind the counter.
I know who she was. What of it?
In a sudden burst of rage, Theocrates threw his drink against the wall that stood behind Gabrielle. It flew by just to the right of her head.
She killed my family!
Gabrielle gave a silent prayer before going on.
You seem to be a semi-reasonable man. Obviously, you believe she is guilty. Give her a trial and prove it.
Why not? Gabrielle was struggling to hold back her own anger.
Are you afraid she might be innocent?
Theocrates combed his hair with his fingers.
Fine. She has a trial in two days. Ill see to it personally. Ive waited half my life for this. Two days is of no consequence.
Gabrielle nodded. A wave of relief and nausea swept over her. She ran out of
the inn and threw up in the bushes. Feeling slightly better, she headed for
Gabrielle walked into Xenas cell. She had convinced the guards to let
her see Xena. It wasnt easy. They were all suspicious that they might
try to escape. The warrior-bard wouldnt be able to overpower the five
guards that all stood at least two heads higher than Gabrielle. A few dinars
gift, however, was quite persuasive.
She walked into the cell and saw Xena. She was chained to a wall but was otherwise unharmed.
Hello, Gabrielle. Are you okay?
Fine. Im feeling much better, she lied. The guy at the inn claims you killed his family. A frown formed on Gabrielles lips. She forced it into a smile.
On the bright side, I got you a trial.
I hate to admit it, but I am guilty of my past.
I got you two days. Gabrielles eyes began to well up with tears.
The chains rattled and she barely had enough length, but Xena managed to envelop Gabrielle in a tight hug.
Im not giving up yet. Have faith; if not in the gods, in me and in yourself.
Gabrielle nodded. They both sat there in the cell for some time. They reminisced about old adventures and good times.
Tell me the one about when Joxer became a hero everytime a bell rang, Xena requested. And I wasnt there so you have to be in the story. Xena had a smug look on her face knowing that the bard would not deny her.
Gabrielle complied, but kept the story focused on Joxer and downplayed her role; much to Xenas annoyance.
I should have gotten you to tell about how you became an amazon princess,
murmered Xena as Gabrielle finished.
I would have found a way out of that one too, I assure you.
Ill get you one day. Youre going to do something that you cant give anyone else credit for.
Thatll never happen, Gabrielle countered.
Just wait until we visit Homer. Im sure hell be more than happy to talk about your adventures at the Academy.
There conversation continued on, talking about the most inconsequential things. The trial was never again mentioned.
Time flew by and, eventually, the guards forced Gabrielle to leave.
After talking around, Gabrielle ascertained that practically all, if not all,
of the villagers knew the tragic story of Theocrates. Everyone held pity for
him. Unfortunately for Gabrielle, no one was willing to share the story. They
all were afraid that that knowledge might help Xena at her trial.
That, and the fact that since Gabrielle seemed to be Xenas friend, no one really cared to hold a conversation with her. Gabrielle tried to get the story from Theocrates, but he seemed to have disappeared off the face of the earth. Having guards that would not let her stay with Xena for any length of time, as well as constantly throwing up and running a high fever added on to
The two days moved by swiftly and, at dawn, the trial began. It was a held
at the center of the village where everyone could watch. The village council
was present, but they had no part in the proceedings. Xena would have a trial,
but it wasnt necessarily fair. It had been ruled that Theocrates
would decide if Xena was guilty or innocent. He would be prosecutor, judge, and jury.
Are you the Xena known by such titles as Warrior Princess and Destroyer of Nations? questioned Theocrates.
So you do not deny you were a murderous warlord?
No. Xena remained stoic. Her head was held high and her posture was erect. If she was going to die, it would be with dignity. They had her feet and hands chained, all weapons and armor removed. Escape without endangering Gabrielle was impossible.
Xena regretted her past, more than anyone could ever imagine, but she despised vengeance. Vengeance is what started her down the wrong path and turned her into a murderer.
I have my demons to deal with and I will pay for my crimes, Xena thought. I dont need this mans help in punishing me, not when my work isnt done yet, not when there are still others for me to help.
Theocrates began to question Xena again.
You killed my family. Did you know that?
I know you and the rest of this village believe I killed them.
Thats because its true. Theocrates smiled, though not because of happiness. He hadnt felt that emotion since the day he lost his family.
Well, seeing how the people already know the story and you admit to your crime, I have nothing else to say. He walked off the stage and sat down on the stone seat. Finally, after all those years, he would avenge his familys death. In his mind Xena was guilty and he was the onely one that had to be convinced.
Great, thought Gabrielle. How am I supposed to defend Xena if no one will tell the specifics of her crime?
She took a deep breath and swallowed, trying to will the dizziness and the nausea to go away. Slowly she walked on the old platform to stand before the people. The wood creaked as she walked on it.
Probably built when the village was, she mused. The bard looked at Xena, chained as well as having two HUGE guards standing along side of her. Many more people were armed in the audience, just in case.
Xena looked at her and gave a nod of encouragement.
Gabrielle gave her a smile in return. Mustering all of her strength, she began.
Im going to tell you about the Xena I know.
Xena is the murdering monster who ruined my life! shouted Theocrates, jumping to his feet. The crowd started shouting in agreement.
That was in the past! Gabrielle shouted back.
Theocrates walked back on stage. He circled Gabrielle slowly, studying one who would defend a demon. Then, the man stopped inches from her face and spoke, calmly and quietly. His demeanor totally changed. He looked almost serene. The crowd settled down so they could hear his words.
Everything is past, Gabrielle. Present, future; all become memories. That is where we live. We dont live in the future because we dont know what it holds. We prepare for it by learning from past experiences.
Theocrates paused for a moment, then started again.
When you think about it, the present exists only in concept. Time is ever continuing, so there is no present. We can think back and remember a certain time before we knew future pasts, but that is all. You see, the present only exists in the past. We live in the past.
You may, I dont, Gabrielle countered.
Yes, you do. You are who you are because of past experiences. You see
yourself today and cant imagine being anything different. Imagine this:
from the day you were born, you were taught you were worthless. Your opinions
didnt matter. You were an insignificant nothing. No one ever told
you differently. Would you still be the same adventurous, outgoing person you are today.?
I believe who we are does not change. Different events bring out different parts of us, that is all. Because some things never happen, some parts of us are never brought out, but they are always there.
Fine. Ill go along with your little philosophy. Very different parts of you would be dominant, wouldnt they?
Yes, she admitted quietly.
So you see, you are your past.
Everyday Xena is haunted by what she did. Gabrielles voice raised in anger.
Theocrates voice raised with hers.
Does that change what happened? The past is a constant, Gabrielle. It is what it is.
But she has changed.
Tell that to the thousands of people she killed. Tell that to the thousands who have to live without those killed. Tell that to my family! Theocrates eyes were shimmering with unshed tears.
You believe we are our past, Gabrielle roared. In Xenas
past, her village was attacked. She would not have become what she did if it
wasnt for that. What? Society kills what it creates? Xena didnt
ask for her brother to be killed or for her village to be rampaged. Everyone
is so proud
and determined to convince themselves that their hands are clean that they kill any reminder that they arent perfect and that others arent, either. Hypocrites, all of you! It isnt about justice anymore, it is only about revenge.
Weve never done anything bad to Xena or others, Theocrates cried out.
You did the worst thing possible. You did nothing. You let the one with the biggest sword govern the land instead of letting peace be the one to rule.
We are trying to amend part of that problem by being here now, said Theocrates.
Gabrielle shook her head in disgust.
A good person is in front of you--a protector of the people. But you are so blinded by rage and hate that you cant see her. You cant handle your own guilt so you blame Xena and kill her thinking it will take away the pain. When it doesnt--and it wont--who will you blame? You kill her and YOU will be the murderer. Will you kill yourself, then? Gabrielle spoke with such conviction that the crowd stood in awe.
Xena was in tears. She wasnt bawling, but the tears slipped down her face like raindrops down a window when its sprinkling. This day, more than any other, she was proud to call Gabrielle friend.
I _died_ with my family that day! cried Theocrates.
Your hate sure didnt. Why not let that die so you can live again?
Cant is a word we use when we dont want to try.
You dont understand what its like. I lost all those I love yet the one that took them away still lives.
Like Hades I dont. I lost my husband a day after marriage. One day! The one that killed him is immortal. Talk about a kick in the pants! So dont, DONT, talk to me about what I do and dont understand.
Theocrates slammed his eyes shut.
The crowd was silent. Xena was freed and she went to Gabrielles side. Gabrielle was exhausted, but she wasnt finished for the day.
Xena, she said, hugging her friend, Ive got one thing Ive got to do but Ill be right back. Gabrielle gave Xena a final squeeze before she wandered off into the crowd, searching.
The man was walking back to the inn, but halted when he heard his name.
Yes? He asked, voice cracking.
It wont happen overnight. But, maybe one day, you will be able to forgive and be free.
I dont know that I did the right thing, Theocrates said shaking his head.
Did I? Theocrates heart ached so much he had to laugh at the girls confidence in what she said.
Xena killed. Worse than that, she _murdered_. She inflicted pain, ruined lives. Tears streaked down his face.
I have to live without my wife and two little girls because of her. She torched my village. Just because it was too close to her own. He shut his eyes, remembering.
It was as if it just happened. He recalled the moment he reached the village
more than anything else. The stench was unbearable. Everything was charred black.
Bodies lie everywhere. Some had been killed by the fire, others by the sword.
Yet for him, that was not the worst part. The worst part of it
was his house. The horrific sight of his home in ashes was burned into his memory forever. In seeing the house, he knew his family was dead. The house was what gave him nightmares every night. That was what he saw in his head every day.
Sure that there were not enough words in the Greek language to describe what he saw, what he felt, he gave the naive girl the shortened version.
I was at a friends house a couple of days away. When I came back, I found my village burned to the ground. My family was dead. If she doesnt pay for that, who does? Tell me...please...who does?
Gabrielle lowered and shook her head.
I...I dont know.
Theocrates straightened himself and brushed his hair back with his hand.
I wont kill your friend. I dont want any blood on my hands, no matter how tainted that blood is. He turned his head and looked off into the distance.
I hope in your future past, there is peace.
Thank you. Life goes on. Barely audible, he added, And so does death. Theocrates walked away.
Gabrielle was well beyond exhaustion now. Still, she somehow managed to run all the way back to Xena. She embraced her friend, smiling. The sleepless nights, being quite sick, and having just made the speech of her life, of Xenas life, took its toll, though. She collapsed in Xenas arms.
The ex-warlord carried Gabrielle out of the village with Argo in tow. Her face hardened and she ignored the peering villagers.
Gabrielle awoke that night on her bedroll. All was quiet except for the calming crackling of the campfire.
Were many, many stadia away from that village, commented Xena.
Good. Lets never go back.
How are you feeling?
You look better. Your fever isnt as high, either. I made you some tea. It should help with the nausea.
Gabrielle excepted it gratefully.
Thank you, Gabrielle. You saved my life.
I guess its a big deal when I do it. Youve saved me so many times it has become commonplace.
Get some rest.
Xena lie down by the campfire. Close enough to Gabrielle that if anything, or anyone attacked the bard she could get to it first. Slowly, she drifted off to sleep, still ever aware of her surroundings.
As for Gabrielle, she still had unanswered questions. The Xena who murdered innocents should have to face her crimes.
That Xena doesnt exist anymore, thought Gabrielle. Hopefully, she will never return. The Xena I know I would fight to the death for.
Gabrielle rolled over to watch her sleeping friend.
So, thats it? The deeds of a warlord go unavenged? Is there no justice for all those hurt? She looked into the fire then back at Xena.
Then again, perhaps there is justice. Perhaps each time Xena stops someone from hurting an innocent, those who were hurt so long ago are avenged.
Authors note: I wrote this because I had an unanswered question. If someone
changes, should they be punished for what they did in the past? X: WP and the
movie The Music Box (if you can see it, I highly recommend it. Its
out on video) brought it up as well as the news and other places. X:
WP does get on my nerves a little bit because they seem to minimize most of the time what Xena did in her past. I still like Xena, mind you. Its just that the question keeps coming up over and over again. If you have the answer or just an opinion, I would love to hear it. This thing has been
bugging me for months and I just dont know the solution.
If you judge people, you have no time to love them.
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