A World Away
by Red Hope
Violence: Definitely a violent story. So, hang tight with that.
Subtext: Nnnot yet... watch out though!
Copyright: Repeat after me, RenPics. owns Xena, Gabrielle, Ephiny, and the Amazons. I own the story idea and I like my story idea, so don't touch it!
Time Frame: Sixth Season Gabrielle and Xena the Conqueror from the Hercules episodes.
Feedback: Any and all feedback can be sent to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Warning: This story consists of a non-explicit "rape" scene. If you are a person that is offended by such thing (I agree with you) do not stop to read my story. The "rape" scene is actually not a "rape" but that will not be explained until later into the story. So please, hang tight through the story and bare with me. All will be explained and this will turn out to be a good story after all. There is more than meets the eye.
Note: This is the final draft of section two. Thanks to Leslie Miller, it has been cleanly edited to perfect form. Thank you, Leslie, my grammarizer. *laugh*
Started: October of 2000
Edited: December 27th 2000, Thursday
Mini-Series One: The Reflection of the Mirror Story: One
The Conqueror entered into her room and glanced at Gabrielle.
Gabrielle had fallen asleep on the sofa, and her breathing was slow. Her face glowed golden yellow from the torchlight reflecting off her face.
The Warrior Princess strolled over, her expression hard. "Gabrielle?"
"Not yet, Xena," mumbled the warrior-bard. "A few... a few more minutes."
The ruler corked an eyebrow. She licked her lips. "You have to get up, Gabrielle." She made her voice more soothing this time.
"Go... saddle up Argo."
Xena's eyes widened slightly. She grinned. "Argo is saddled up." She folded her arms across her chest. "We need to start... traveling."
"Later," murmured the small woman. She turned on the sofa and put her back to the Conqueror.
The dark Warrior Princess dropped her arms and sat down on the sofa. She stared at the younger woman's back. Gabrielle's words sifted through her mind. Lacing her hands together with her elbows on her knees, she lowered her chin onto her hands. "Keeps getting more and more intriguing." Deciding it was time for bed, she stood up and walked around the table. She reached down and picked up the small woman.
Gabrielle half opened her eyes and whispered, "Xena?"
The Conqueror's jaw tightened, but she warmly uttered, "Go back to sleep."
That's all the warrior-bard needed to hear in her confused state. She dropped her head against the other woman's shoulder. "Xena... thank you."
"For what?" asked the ruler, crossing the room to the bed.
"For being yourself... and always saving me," mumbled the young warrior before her eyes closed, and she went back to sleep.
The Conqueror's eyes narrowed, and she bent forward before lowering Gabrielle onto the bed. She then pulled the sheet over the woman and walked back to the sofa. She laid down and stretched out. Thoughts filled her mind about this younger woman. She couldn't stop thinking how Gabrielle must be here to change her. It was the last thing the Conqueror wanted but the first thing Xena needed.
"Alright, time to get up, Gabrielle." The Conqueror stood tall over the woman in the bed. Morning had begun just a candlemark ago.
Gabrielle rolled onto her back and looked up. "How'd I get-"
"I put you in it last night." The ruler had hooded eyes, and she turned away.
"Where'd you sleep?"
"On a sofa."
The warrior-bard sat up in the bed. She combed her hair with her right hand. "You should have left me on the sofa."
The Conqueror disappeared into a huge washroom off the main bedroom. "Wouldn't have been good for your wound," she called. When she came back out, she was dressed in her leathers, armor, boots, and her weapons. "You have an Amazon's fate to decide today."
The small warrior knitted her eyebrows. "I can't decide her fate."
"Oh you won't completely, I have to decide if it's just." The ruler came over with the other woman's boots. "Hurry up."
Gabrielle took her boots and put them on the floor. Leaning forward, she hissed as the pain shot through her body.
"Try standing up."
The short warrior closed her eyes and stood up. When she opened them again, there was no pain reflected in them.
Xena tilted her head. "I think your body was giving you a reminder." She smirked.
"Yeah," muttered the small woman. She turned and slipped into her boots. After propping one foot at a time on the bed, she had them tied.
The Conqueror held open the door. "After you," she said coldly.
Gabrielle sighed and headed out. The Warrior Princess followed matching her stride for stride along the marble corridor.
The pair went down into the dungeon and passed the first few cells.
"Last one on the right," Xena said.
The warrior-bard nodded and came to the end of the prison. She looked into Amarice's cell. Her heart skipped a beat. "She's been whipped."
Amarice sat in the cell, huddled in a corner, her legs propped up, and her head buried between her legs and arms. The red lash marks were all up and down the young Amazon's back.
"Yes." Xena peered down into angry green eyes. "I, personally, whipped her for what she did."
"What?" asked Gabrielle hotly. "How could you do that?" She faced Xena. "You said-" Before she could say more, she was slammed against the dungeon wall.
The Warrior Princess lowered her head close to Gabrielle's. "Do not question me," she snarled. Her right arm pressed against Gabrielle's chest, and her left hand pressed against the wall. "I said I'd spare her from being crucified. I never said a damn word about being beaten." Her eyes narrowed. "She had a price to pay for attacking me. Do you understand me?"
Gabrielle said nothing.
The Conqueror growled, grabbed the small woman's shoulders, whirled her around and smashed her into a cell's bars. "Do you understand me, Gabrielle?" she yelled furiously.
The short warrior closed her eyes and whispered, "Yes... Conqueror."
"Good." Xena waited. "Look at me."
The small woman opened her eyes.
"Thank me, Gabrielle." Xena slammed Gabrielle back against the bars again by the shoulders. "Thank me, because she should be dead right now. I am showing her mercy," growled the ruler. "So do not get angry with me. Otherwise you may join Amarice. Do you want to join her?"
"Then suck it up and deal with it. There are prices to pay."
After a moment of silence, Gabrielle asked, "Let me clean her wounds?"
"No," snarled the ruler.
"Please, Conqueror, I was whipped, and then my wounds were cleaned."
Xena leaned in. "And you know why?"
"Because I was showing you mercy." Her right hand came up and pointed at the Amazon. "I have shown her mercy already. I will show no more for a person that tried to kill me."
Gabrielle closed her eyes and balled her hands into fists. "Conqueror," she whispered, "she's so young, she doesn't deserve this." Her eyes opened. "Please," she begged.
"And I never deserved to have my village sacked when I was young, but it happened. I never deserved to have my legs broken, but it happened. I never deserved my brother's death, but it happened." She grinned. "What doesn't kill her will only make her stronger."
The dark Warrior Princess cut her off instantly. "No, Gabrielle." The ruler straightened up and released the small woman. "You will join her if you ask again, and I will whip you myself."
"Then... can I ask for something else?"
"What is that?"
"For you to show me mercy again."
The Conqueror folded her arms. "On what grounds?"
"On the grounds of... trust."
Xena said nothing at first and considered the idea. "Very well, on trust. What is the mercy?"
"That you have mercy on my guilt and let me clean Amarice's wounds. I feel guilty it happened to her because I... I feel responsible for her, and I provoked her to attack you."
The Conqueror's face broke out with a grin. "Very well, you may clean her wounds." She lowered her arms. "Your love will get you killed." She looked down the dungeon and yelled, "Guard?"
A guard came down. "Yes, my liege?"
"Get me a medical kit."
The guard fetched a kit and returned. He gave it to Gabrielle then opened the cell.
Going in, she knelt down in front of Amarice. "Amarice?" Gabrielle whispered, settling the kit on the floor.
The Conqueror stepped in the cell. "Leave the cell open," she ordered.
After nodding, the guard stood waiting.
Amarice lifted her face revealing red eyes and puffy cheeks. "What the Hades do you want?"
"I'm going to clean your wounds."
"No," growled the Amazon. "I don't want my enemy to clean my wounds." She lifted her hands with the shackles making a noise. She was preparing to attack Gabrielle somehow.
In a fluent motion, Xena unsheathed her sword and pointed the tip at Amarice. "Do not touch her, Amarice." She narrowed her eyes. "She's been saving your life since minute one. Either accept her help or refuse it nicely."
Gabrielle sighed. "Amarice, please let me look over your wounds." She took a deep breath. "They'll get infected if they're not tended. Besides that, you'll feel better later, and I will clean your wounds."
The Amazon sighed deeply. "Fine."
"Thank you," uttered the warrior-bard. She opened the kit, sat down cross-legged, and started cleaning the wounds.
The Conqueror sheathed her sword.
Within a quarter of a candlemark, Gabrielle was done and put the medicine away. "There."
"Thank you," muttered the Amazon grudgingly.
"You're welcome," returned the warrior-bard, standing, kit tucked under her arm.
The ruler stood in front of the cell's door. "Before you go, Gabrielle, you must decide Amarice's sentence for speaking out. What will it be instead of crucifixion?" She paused. "And it must be suitable to my standards."
Licking her lips, the small woman faced Amarice then peered up at Xena. "Her sentence..." Ideas came to mind, and she tried to come up with a 'suitable' punishment to Xena, which would keep the young sassy Amazon out of trouble. "She is to be a indentured servant for two years."
"Done," declared the ruler. Stepping backwards, she left the cell.
Gabrielle glanced at Amarice. "Don't give-up, Amarice."
The Amazon stared at the woman until she and the Conqueror were out of sight.
Gabrielle stood alone in her room. She'd peeled back the bandage over her injury. Deciding it would be fine, she kept the bandage off so the wound could breath. After grabbing the salve off the table, she carefully smeared some over her wound. She closed the jar and put it on the table again.
The warrior-bard walked over to the window in her room. It was late afternoon, and she stared at the view of Athens. "Xena, I wonder what you're doing right now back in our world." She sighed sadly. "I hope I can find you here in this world," she mumbled under her breath.
The door opened and in stepped a guard. "You are to come with me."
The short warrior turned around and followed the guard out of the room and to the dining room.
The guard left her at the doorway.
Gabrielle stood there, staring at the Conqueror sitting at the head of the table.
"Care to sit?" asked Xena.
The small woman sat down at the opposite end of the table. "Dinner this early?"
"Not quite that early," stated the Warrior Princess. "About half a candlemark before sunset."
Three servants came out, set food on the table, and filled the glasses with wine and water. After they left, the two women were silent momentarily.
"So, tell me more about your world, Gabrielle," inquired the ruler.
Green eyes peered up. "What do you want to know?" She picked up her fork.
"For starts, how do you know Amarice?"
The younger woman sighed deeply and stared at the food. "She's a friend of mine... was."
Gabrielle lifted her sad eyes. "She was killed."
The Conqueror began eating and speaking at the same time. "And that's why you feel responsible for her."
"For the most part," muttered the warrior-bard. She ate some of her food.
"What's the rest of it?"
The small warrior sighed deeply. "I am her... Queen in my world."
The Warrior Princess stopped eating. "Very interesting." She grinned. "Seems as if there are parallels between our worlds, huh?"
"Yes and no," answered Gabrielle. "There are differences too."
"I can imagine," responded the older woman smugly. "Myself for example."
"You... and I," stated the short warrior. "This world's Gabrielle is... darker."
"And I wonder why," drew out the ruler. "It must be this dark world... can even effect the light in people."
Gabrielle stopped eating. "But I didn't say she was of darkness... just darker than me." She raised an eyebrow, questioning. "Do you know Hercules?"
"Who?" asked the Conqueror.
"Hercules... the son of Zeus?" The warrior-bard's eyes widened as the implications dawned on her.
"No," answered Xena. "Who is he?"
No wonder Xena is the Conqueror... Hercules was never born, so he never changed her, mused Gabrielle. She came out of her thoughts. "He's just a hero in my world."
"Just a hero?" mocked the Conqueror. "He must be of importance, if you pick him out of all the heroes of your world."
"He... he is." Gabrielle nodded and ate more. "He's legendary in my world; he fights for the greater good."
"Ah." The ruler nodded in understanding. "I see."
The pair fell quiet and continued eating their dinner.
At the end of dinner, Xena stood up. "Come with me." Her eyes twinkled deeply.
The warrior-bard felt something inside drop. She rose up so slowly and waited for the Conqueror to join her. She left the room along side the Conqueror.
The two women went to the ruler's room, then out onto the balcony where sunset was beginning.
"Stay here," the Conqueror told Gabrielle, and she went back into her room. A moment later she came back out with her hands behind her back. She stood beside the small woman and watched the sunset. "Tell me about Argo."
Gabrielle's head whipped up. "A-argo?"
"Yesss, Argo." The Conqueror corked an eyebrow. "Is Argo a light gold?"
The warrior-bard opened her mouth and almost said no before catching herself. No lies. "Yes."
"Is Argo a warhorse?"
The small woman looked back at the sunset. "Yes," she whispered.
"Is Argo... my horse?"
Gabrielle closed her eyes. "Yes, I believe so, Conqueror," she uttered in seeming pain.
The Conqueror grinned and nodded a few times. "How long have you known me?"
"Over five years."
"Well, I should say the other Xena." The ruler smirked. "So, you believe you know quite a bit about me, too, huh?"
"Now, what do you believe... your Xena is doing right now?"
"I don't know," whispered Gabrielle. "I'm just hoping she's okay."
The Conqueror turned to the small woman as the last few rays of sunlight streamed through the sky. "From what I know, Xena will try to save you." Her hands were still behind her back.
"If she can, she will," revealed the warrior-bard. She now faced the dark woman.
The ruler tilted her head. "Now, did you help... this Xena fight her darkness? For she must have had it."
"Yes, I did," whispered Gabrielle.
"Does she need you?" asked the Conqueror.
The Conqueror stood tall, dark, and powerful before the young warrior. Her cold eyes stayed fixed on the small woman. She'd heard all the truth she needed. There was no escaping; there was no winning. She leaned down, and her right hand caressed Gabrielle's cheek, her thumb grazing over soft lips. "And do you still desire... me?"
The young woman's eyes closed, and she uttered, "Yes."
The Conqueror's eyes darkened. The sun had set, and there was no light. She leaned down and sealed her lips over Gabrielle's in a rough kiss. As the kiss continued, her left hand came forward and grasped Gabrielle's wrists tightly. When the kiss ended, she began another and pressed her body against Gabrielle's. Bringing the small woman's arms behind her back, she held the hands together.
Gabrielle ended the kiss, and fear washed over her when she realized the Conqueror was tying her hands behind her back. "What you-" She was cut off.
The Conqueror kissed the short warrior powerfully, keeping the warrior restrained while she tied her small wrists together.
The younger woman pulled away from the kiss. "Don't do this," she warned.
The ruler grinned evilly and let go of Gabrielle's bound wrists. "I am, and I will."
Gabrielle struggled against her restraints. "Please don't." She felt the fear taking over. "Not like this."
"Oh, certainly like this." The dark Conqueror grasped Gabrielle by her silver jeweled belt, pulling her in harshly and kissing her with strong demand.
The Conqueror slowly opened her eye, she wore nothing as she climbed out of bed. She noticed it was already morning, probably late morning. She went to a chair, picked up her robe and slipped into it. Once around the bed, she studied the small nude woman still sleeping in her bed.
Gabrielle's breathing was shallow, her hands resting on her stomach, her wrists faintly swollen and red, but she was sleeping differently this time.
The Conqueror tilted her head, trying to figure out the change. Gabrielle seemed less at... peace. She growled as guilt welled up inside her, and she stormed into the bathroom to change.
Had she just raped that woman last night? Gabrielle had said she desired the Conqueror. Yet, she had bound the small warrior against her free will. Then Gabrielle had freely given herself over to the Conqueror's touch once things began. Gabrielle showed trusted towards the Conqueror. Had she just raped that woman last night?
Xena came back out of the bathroom dressed in her leathers and armor. She came over to the bed and was about to wake Gabrielle but then decided not to and left the room instead.
About a candlemark after the Warrior Princess left, Gabrielle woke up. She sat up in the bed with a straight back, and she looked at her wound. Finding that it was fine, she sighed in relief. She then looked at her wrists and rubbed them a little. "Great," she mumbled. She studied the room, still rubbing her wrists, and noticed that the Conqueror had already left. She breathed deeply and felt how shaky she was from last night. She hadn't expected it to happen. She could handle it, but she certainly hadn't expected it.
No, she didn't expect Xena to force her, not Xena. But this was the Conqueror, the Conqueror, the Conqueror, the Conqueror... It continued repeating in Gabrielle's head.
Gabrielle brought her hands up to the side of her head and closed her eyes tightly. The Conqueror kept filling her head, and she tried to stop it. "God," she growled and closed her eyes when images of the Conqueror flashed in her mind. Scenes of last night flashed in her mind. "Why am I here?" she said hotly. Upon taking a deep breath, the control came back to her, and the images stopped, as did the word Conqueror.
She got up and found her skirt and top. She put them on quietly, then put on her boots. Heading out of the room, she found no guards so she decided to go to her room. Once inside, she leaned against the door and slid down to the floor. "I can't do this anymore," she muttered hopelessly.
The Warrior Princess went into her room and noticed Gabrielle had left. She narrowed her eyes and exited her room. Going to Gabrielle's room, she opened the door.
The warrior-bard stood in front of the window, her back to Xena. Her body was tense in seeming control of emotions.
"Yes?" asked the small woman without turning around.
The Conqueror didn't know what to say, nor was she sure why she came. "Do you want anything to eat?"
"No." Gabrielle's voice was emotionless.
"Very well." The Conqueror left and closed the door.
The small warrior sighed and leaned against the windowsill. Her thoughts took her far away to another world. Gabrielle, anybody that has gone in there alive comes back out dead. Gabrielle closed her eyes, remembering Ephiny's words.
"Eat something," growled the Conqueror.
The young warrior lifted her eyes then looked back down. She said nothing and stayed resting in the chair at the dinner table.
Xena's jaw clamped tightly. Her breathing picked up, and she stood. She walked over to Gabrielle and grasped the chair's arms. She leaned down to get in Gabrielle's face. "You need to eat for that wound to heal." Her voice was angry.
Gabrielle peered up. "It is my body, therefor I can eat or not."
"Anything in my realm is mine," growled the Conqueror. "Do as I say."
The small warrior shook her head. "So I've come to notice. Do as you say not as you do, huh?" Her expression turned angry. "You demonstrated that last night, didn't you?"
The Warrior Princess's muscles flexed in control. She growled and spun around, stalking off. "You gave yourself over."
"Like I had much of choice," yelled Gabrielle. She rose up. "I can't play your game when you break your own damn rules."
"How is that?" The Conqueror whirled around.
The small warrior stomped her foot and shook her head. "I trusted you... I trusted you, and you broke that last night." She laughed sarcastically. "So I, I showed a little mercy last night and gave myself freely to you instead of struggling."
"Now you're lying."
"I have only lied once, once," stated Gabrielle.
Xena narrowed her eyes. "You showed me mercy last night, yet you said you desired me."
"Yes I do." The young warrior paused. "Did." She closed her eyes then opened them again. "You think if I desire you, and I am tied, I still won't struggle?" She pointed a finger. "I did not agree to sex." She turned away and walked off. "But I sure as Hell got it."
The Conqueror watched the woman head to the door. "Don't you dare walk out of here, Gabrielle," she warned in a loud voice.
"Watch me." Gabrielle opened the door and went out.
Xena waited two seconds and rushed to the door. She look down it and yelled, "Guards, I want Gabrielle taken to the dungeon."
Three guards ran down the hall, unsheathing their swords.
The Conqueror let them pass, then watched as they approached Gabrielle.
The warrior-bard spun around and kicked the first guard. He crashed to the ground, and she took on the other two. She ducked at as sword breezed past her head. She punched him in the stomach and kicked at the other.
Xena's eyes darkened with every menacing step she took forward. Her eyes stayed pinned on Gabrielle. "Enough!" she yelled and moved in a flash. She disappeared in a breeze of motion between the guards and struck Gabrielle on either side of her neck with her fingertips.
Her blood flow stopped, Gabrielle fell to her knees. She struggled to breathe, and she leaned forward.
"Get up, men." The Conqueror knelt down in front of Gabrielle. She reached forward and tipped Gabrielle's head up. "Gabrielle, we can do this the easy way or the hard way." She grinned evilly. "I can release the pressure point, and you can go nicely to the dungeon, or I can pressure point your arms and legs then drag you." She paused and let the woman suffer a little more. "Which will it be?"
"The easy way," rasped Gabrielle.
"Done," declared the dark Warrior Princess. Her fingers flew forward and undid the pressure points.
The warrior-bard gasped and fell forward onto her hands. "Oh god." Her breathing was heavy, and she closed her eyes.
Xena stood up tall. "Get up," she commanded coldly.
Gradually, the small woman stood up, and she wiped the blood off her upper lip.
"Now then, to the dungeon," said the ruler with a cool tone.
Gabrielle didn't move immediately, but she did after seeing no emotional change in Xena. She turned and walked down the hall.
"I'll take care of this," the Conqueror told the guards.
The three guards sighed and went back on patrol in the castle.
Gabrielle and Xena marched to the dungeon below the castle. When they came to the bottom of the steps, Xena said, "Stop."
The warrior-bard did just that.
"Guard," hollered the empress.
A guard appeared. "Yes, my liege?"
"Key." After receiving a key, she ordered Gabrielle to go ahead of her.
They went down the row of cells.
"Stop here." The Conqueror turned to the cell on the right and opened the door. "Get in." Once Gabrielle was in, she locked the door behind. "Remember Gabrielle, you can not leave my castle alive." Her eyes narrowed, and she walked off. As she strolled down the rows of cells, she slipped the key down between her breasts. Her right foot settled onto the first step as a yell of anger exploded in the dungeon, echoing off the walls.
A smirk formed slowly on Xena's lips, then she continued up the dark stairwell.
The Conqueror spent the rest of the day in her office. She worked on plans to stop the rebels. The rebels had been in action for too long. Three years was one to many years for the ruler's liking. Awhile ago she'd found out where the Amazons lived, but she hadn't had the time to flush them out. There had been numerous small battles to fight on her borders.
After working those plans out, she sat back and thought about her plans to expand her empire. She wanted the world; she wanted the world in the palm of her hand. The only thing holding her back was a lack of power. She hoped to seek out some godly powers, whether it was ambrosia or the rhinegold. However, she wasn't yet sure where to find these things. Leaving that idea for later, her mind shifted to Gabrielle. Last night came back to her, bringing with it a wave of guilt.
She stood up quickly, pushing her seat back.. She walked out of her office and out onto the walkway high up along her castle walls that wrapped around the castle completely. She strolled down the rampart, thinking. Once she came around a corner, she spotted the sunset in full swing.
Xena settled her arms on the stone rail and watched the sun set on her realm. Thoughts of Gabrielle still filled her mind. "You were right, Gabrielle," she whispered. "I don't know what to do with you." She ran a hand through her hair. "What to do with somebody that appears on my doorstep freely handing over trust. I don't know what to do." She growled. "She knew that too."
Ah yes, the Conqueror realized, that was Gabrielle's intent the entire time. To break through the system she'd set up. To break through her walls. And had it happened yet?
Was Gabrielle finally the winner of Xena's game? Or would Gabrielle just remain in the cell, hopeless and alone?
The Conqueror faced the cell. "Gabrielle?"
The sun had already set, today.
Xena received no response. She sighed and tried again. "Gabrielle?"
Gabrielle simply sat on the cold floor, her back to the bars. She stared ahead and didn't look at the Warrior Princess.
"Gabrielle, we need to talk."
The small warrior only turned her head. She stared with cold eyes.
The dark ruler looked away from the death look she received. "We are done with this game," she stated. Licking her lips, she gazed back at the other woman.
Gabrielle shook her head, propped her legs up, and rested her chin on her knees. She closed her eyes and tried to forget she was here. Her mind raced back to her world, back to her Xena. The pain filled her heart at the thought of her Xena that she called her soul mate. "Just go," she whispered in agony.
The Conqueror snarled then rammed the palm of her hands against the bars. "As far as I am concerned, you can live in this damn cell." She stalked off, fuming.
The warrior-bard buried her head into her arms and legs. The pain and hopelessness washed over her and formed into bitter tears.
The ruler made it to the steps while the sobs filled her head. When she neared the stairs, she stopped and grasped the wall. She punched the stones before climbing up the stairs.
Morning had already begun; the sun had peeked over the eastern horizon. The Conqueror had awakened and was changing into her battle attire. She went to eat and while doing so, her mind couldn't stop thoughts of Gabrielle. Gabrielle, Gabrielle, Gabrielle, Gabrielle... thoughts wouldn't end, nor emotions die.
After the breakfast, she debated on whether to start her day with her own judgments in her own version of a court. Or to visit Gabrielle.
Her emotions took her down to the dungeon after breakfast. This was the last chance, she decided. Otherwise, she knew she and Gabrielle were certainly worlds apart.
Xena came to the warrior-bard's cell. She grasped the bars and peered through.
The small woman had her head back against the bars, and she seemed to be asleep.
The younger woman opened her eyes and glanced at Xena.
The Conqueror noticed how emotionless those green eyes were, making them a dull green. "Can we talk this time?"
Gabrielle looked away. She pulled her legs in closer against her body.
The Warrior Princess took a calming breath. "We need to talk." She waited for a response but got none. She pressed hard against the bars and pushed her legs back in frustration. Her head dropped against the bars. She snarled lowly as she pulled on the bars. Once she stopped, her head lay resting against the bars.
Xena closed her eyes and whispered, "I'm trying so hard to hate you, but I'm only... only loving you more and more."
The small warrior closed her eyes. "I'm trying so hard to love you, but I'm only... only hating you more and more."
"Hatred... or anger?" asked the ruler as she lifted her head. "Hate is a strong emotion while anger is temporary."
"That depends." Gabrielle lowered the side of her head onto her knees. "Anger is the seed of hatred." She breathed deeply. "You of all people should know that."
"I do," stated Xena. "I also know it can be corrected."
"What do you care after everything?" The small woman lifted her head and gazed at Xena. "Since I've been here I've been punched, jailed, whipped, stabbed, disrespected, tied, raped, and had my breathing cut off... not to mention slammed against a few walls and bars here and there." She shrugged. "Not like you did aaany of it." She laughed cynically.
"Then lets try again."
Gabrielle laughed and stared ahead, not at Xena. "Rrrright."
Xena ran a hand through her midnight hair. She closed her eyes and held her bangs back with her right hand. "Gabrielle... show me mercy."
The short warrior decided to turn tables on the Conqueror. "Show you... you mercy? I showed you my mercy last night. I will show no more for a person that has raped me."
Xena dropped her head against the bars. Her eyes stayed closed tightly. Rapidly, her emotions took her like a tidal wave, and she collapsed to her knees with her head still against the bars. "Show me mercy." Her breathing became rasped. "Show me mercy." Her voice quaked. "Please," she uttered in pure pain.
Gabrielle examined the broken Conqueror on the floor begging. She crawled across the floor and reached between the bars. She touched Xena's warm cheek, and Xena opened her sad blue eyes. "I will not show you mercy, not the Conqueror... she needs no mercy." She smiled. "I'll give you, you a second chance though."
Rich blue eyes stayed locked with rich green eyes.
Xena reached up and took Gabrielle's hand. She laced their hands together while saying, "No more games, we'll try this again."
Gabrielle nodded in agreement. "Clean slate. Wounds, but clean ones."
Xena nodded, too, and squeezed the small hand. She released the hand. "Let's get you out of here."
The Conqueror stood tall once more. Pulling the key out, she opened the cell. When Gabrielle stepped out, she kissed the small warrior warmly.
The warrior-bard smiled at the end of the kiss. She started turning red. She patted the Conqueror's chest. "Um." She stopped, not knowing what to say.
"I know," stated the ruler. "We'll take this slow."
"Yeah." The younger woman sighed in relief. "Thank you."
"Just consider that an apology." The dark Warrior Princess now walked down the dungeon.
The small warrior sighed, followed behind after a moment's hesitation.
Gabrielle stood tall and silent beside the Conqueror's throne. She'd been here for a candlemark already, and it was late afternoon. Xena sat in her throne, passing sentences on people who had broken her laws. The small warrior said nothing against them; she just let Xena be the Conqueror.
Xena watched a man be escorted out. She sighed and mumbled, "This is getting boring."
The short warrior couldn't stop the grin. "I agree... my legs are killing me too."
The Conqueror looked at the guard, who held a scroll. "How many are left?"
"Ten, my liege."
"Save them for another day," declared the Warrior Princess. She stood up.
The guard nodded and went to the double doors.
The Conqueror faced Gabrielle. "To my room."
The younger woman nodded and walked down the steps.
Together, they went down the halls. Going into Xena's room, they each sat down on a sofa.
"So... what's going to happen now?" inquired Gabrielle.
"I... don't know, yet." The older woman crossed ankles. "I imagine you'd like to go back to your world."
"If I knew how." The small warrior sighed.
"There has to be a way. If you can get here... you can get back." The ruler folded her arms. "It's just a matter of figuring out how."
"That's the missing piece," stated the small woman.
The Conqueror was silent but soon spoke up. "Why did you come here... to my castle?"
"To... change you."
"That you have done."
"Have I really?"
"Yesss." The dark woman paused. "I never saw you coming." She grinned. "So I could never prepare for the impact."
Gabrielle chuckled and sighed. "I thought I lost," she whispered.
"No, you won."
"Have I really? Or have we both won?"
There was a dead silence in the room.
"Well." Gabrielle stood up. "Stalemate none the less."
The Conqueror peered up. "Where you going?"
"I want to get the salve from my room." The small warrior inspected her wound. "Could use some."
"Stay here." The ruler stood up. "I'll get it."
"Stay here," cut off Xena. She exited the room.
Gabrielle shook her head and sat back down. "Damn stubborn as ever." She chuckled quietly. Within a minute the Warrior Princess returned with the salve, and she smiled.
The Conqueror smiled faintly.
Gabrielle locked the image in her head. "Thanks."
The older woman nodded and said, " Sit up with your wounded side to me; I'll put it on."
The warrior-bard moved on the sofa so that her left side faced Xena.
While opening the salve, the Conqueror knelt down. She dipped two fingers into the ointment and reached up to carefully rub it onto the wound. "It looks better."
"Yeah," agreed the young warrior. "It's healing nicely." She carefully watched Xena as she worked.
"Tell me this, are you and Xena..." The Conqueror looked up. "Lovers?"
The small woman huffed. "Not at all." She turned her gaze away. "It's gotten close to that, I think."
"I know she loves me; I just don't know the extent." Gabrielle combed her hair with her fingers. "You would think I would know after five years."
The ruler grinned. "You would think so, but I bet she's good at hiding emotions."
"Yes, not good as you, but she's good." The warrior-bard grinned down at the Conqueror.
The Warrior Princess grinned back. She rubbed her hands together to get rid of the salve. After sealing the jar again, she placed it on the table. "Give it a few more days, and it'll be healed pretty much."
"I know so."
"Thank you," whispered Gabrielle.
The ruler nodded and studied warm green eyes. Emotions revived inside. Her left hand came up and touched Gabrielle's cheek.
Gabrielle couldn't stop it and lowered her head with her eyes closing.
Xena met her halfway.
Their lips met gently, then deepened with true passion. When the kiss finished, Xena started to stand, then leaned in for another long kiss.
The warrior moaned softly. After the second kiss, she pulled Xena's head in again for a third kiss.
The Conqueror encircled the other woman's waist. She felt shock waves through her body as their tongues met and pleased.
Gabrielle pulled away from the kiss slowly and smiled. "Not bad."
The ruler arched an eyebrow. "Oh I see." Her eyes twinkled. "Let me try this." Lowering her head, she captured Gabrielle's lips in a stronger kiss.
The warrior-bard felt her insides turn and heat up. She was left breathless when the kiss ended. "That... that was real good," she rasped. She grinned at the Conqueror.
The dark Warrior Princess laughed, then turned serious. "How is the anger?"
"Lessening. The self hatred?"
"Lessening." The Conqueror released the small woman. "Let's get you something to eat."
Gabrielle's stomach agreed with a loud rumble.
"Looks like the guard was right." Xena went to the door and opened it.
The Conqueror smirked. "Your stomach does roar like a lion."
"Thanks," responded Gabrielle sarcastically. She left with Xena.
Gabrielle stood tall, her arms folded, and she stared into the fireplace watching the flames dance and talk. The evening had become cold tonight. She was content. Her stomach was full, she was out of the cell, the Conqueror was partially changed, and her wound was healing fine. Maybe soon, real soon, she could go home. Just one problem, how to get home?
Xena came up from behind and slipped her hands over the other woman's shoulders. "What are you thinking about?"
"About how I am going to get back."
The Conqueror was quiet.
"There has to be a way," uttered Gabrielle with a shake of her head.
"And what if there isn't? What then?"
The warrior-bard sighed. "Then I am stuck here."
"That bad of an ordeal, huh?"
Gabrielle came out of her trance once she understood what the Conqueror was saying. She turned around. "No, not that bad of an ordeal. It's just... I don't belong here, Conqueror."
The ruler nodded. "Understandable." She shrugged. "That, and you want to return to Xena."
Gabrielle huffed at the way the Conqueror kept referring to the other world's Xena. It was as if her Xena was completely another person than the Conqueror. "I don't know, yet."
"Don't know what yet?"
"Whether... I truly want to go back."
The Warrior Princess arched an eyebrow. "Why wouldn't you want to go back?"
"I guess I'm getting a little... attached to this world." The warrior-bard grinned at the joke.
Xena chuckled then asked, "Why?"
"I'm not sure." Gabrielle's eyes dropped. "Just not sure."
The Conqueror's eyes narrowed, because she felt like Gabrielle knew why. Then she realized that Gabrielle might not have wanted to acknowledge why, preferring to deny the truth. She sighed inwardly.
"Either way, I don't belong here and need to head back," declared the small woman. "I have to go back."
"But not tonight or tomorrow," stated the Conqueror in a hard tone. "Not for awhile."
The young warrior gave her a confused look. "Why? What else can I do here? I've done what I came to do."
"Do you truly believe that you've finished your... mission?" The ruler lowered her head. "I am still the Conqueror."
"True," agreed Gabrielle. "You still plan to carry out your plans to crush the rebellions don't you?."
"Conqueror, don't. Help your people."
Xena grinned evilly. "Happy Conqueror, then happy people. Dark Conqueror then dark people. Simple as that."
The warrior-bard thought about that statement. I have to make her happy... we have to love each other. And if I leave this world then everything is lost... everything. Gabrielle closed her eyes at the thought. "Right here and right now." Her eyes opened again. "You'll start becoming the happy Conqueror."
The Conqueror leaned down and kissed the younger woman warmly.
Gabrielle strengthened the kiss with love. She held on to the Conqueror's waist.
The Conqueror pulled Gabrielle close. Her large hands pressed against a strong stomach.
Gabrielle made mental plans to hit the bed any second. She pulled back from the kiss, then started another. She would be the conqueror, this time, conquering Xena.
It was the first time in years that the Conqueror had missed the sunset.
Gabrielle shivered slightly. She felt her body pulled into a warm one, and she snuggled close as the bed sheets were pulled back over her. "Thanks," she mumbled.
The Conqueror chuckled deeply and held tightly onto Gabrielle. "Go back to sleep."
"What time is it?" whispered the small woman.
"A few minutes before dawn."
The warrior-bard snuggled her head under Xena's chin. "Definitely too early."
"I know." Despite the hour, the dark Warrior Princess lifted her head and glanced out the balcony. She could see it was dark, but a few small rays of light were forming. She stared at it in wonderment, and her mind became lost. "I'll be right back," she whispered. Releasing Gabrielle, she rolled out of bed and slipped into her robe to cover her bare skin.
The small warrior rolled over and watched the Conqueror go onto the balcony and face the east. Now she was in wonderment, and she hopped out of bed. Quickly putting on her skirt and top, she walked out onto the balcony beside the Conqueror. The Conqueror ignored her.
Gabrielle took a calming breath and reached over.
The small hand laced perfectly with the larger hand.
The Conqueror still didn't look at Gabrielle but simply squeezed her hand.
Together the pair stayed silent and watched the sun's rays of light reappear as the sun peered over the eastern horizon.
Once the sun was over the horizon, the Conqueror glanced down at Gabrielle. "Stay here with me." Her voice held a plea despite how low it came out.
The small warrior closed her eyes and opened them again. "I don't belong here."
Xena faced the warrior-bard. She held both hands now. "Gabrielle, don't go back." After encircling the small woman around the waist, she lowered her head. "Please." She sighed. "Stay with me... we can rule together, all the power." Her voice was becoming hypnotic to Gabrielle. "Just think of it. We'll have the world at our feet, you and I."
The warrior closed her eyes and let the words take her.
"Can't you just imagine it, Gabrielle?"
The feeling of power washed over Gabrielle. "God..."
The ruler lowered her head more. "Stay with me." She caressed Gabrielle's cheek. "If you return you won't have this with Xena like you do with me." She paused then whispered, "You have everything right here."
Gabrielle kissed Xena with warm love.
The Warrior Princess slowly pulled away from the kiss.
Gabrielle opened her eyes. "I'll stay with you... because I love you."
Xena grinned. "Thank you." She kissed the small woman tenderly on the lips with a promise of the future. At the end of the kiss she'd whispered, "I love you, Gabrielle."
Her teeth clenched together as the pain screamed through her body. It stopped suddenly, and she sighed in relief. Her breathing picked up, but she tried to relax her body. She was on her hands and knees with her head down.
She took a deep breath and slowly rose to her feet. She began to gaze around at everything. She stood in the middle of a huge forest that looked somewhat familiar. "Great, where am I?"
There was a bird whistling.
She narrowed her eyes. "Amazon forest, now I know."
Instantly three Amazons dropped to the forest floor with unsheathed swords. Their masks were pushed back so they could see.
Her eyes widened when she recognized two of them.
One Amazon pointed a sword at her. "Stop the Conqueror!" she yelled.
She shook her head at being completely confused. "Conqueror?" she mumbled under her breath. Unfortunately, she had no time for questions, and she quickly unsheathed her sword. "Wait!" she yelled, but the Amazons still came. "What is going on around here?" she growled, bending her knees, lifting her sword, and preparing to protect herself from Eponin, Solari, and another Amazon.
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