A World Away
by Red Hope
Violence: Violence is now at a low.
Subtext: Ooooh, there is certainly!
Copyright: Repeat after me, Universal/MCA owns Xena, Gabrielle, Ephiny, and the Amazons. I own the story idea and I like my story idea, so don't touch it!
Feedback: Any and all feedback can be sent to me at: email@example.com
Note: Make sure you keep in mind that Xena (not the Conqueror) and Gabrielle are not lovers. That's a key element in this story.
Time Frame: Sixth Season Gabrielle and Xena the Conqueror from the Hercules episodes.
Started: October of 2000
Gabrielle was on her stomach half her body on the bed and half on the Conqueror. Her right arm rested across Xena's chest and the side of her head on the ruler's shoulder. Her eyes were closed. "What are the plans?"
The Warrior Princess's fingertips ran up and down the other woman's bare back. "Not sure yet." She grinned. "I still have to adjust to having you here."
The small woman laughed deeply. "Am I quite that big of an upset in your life?"
"Wouldn't say upset, more like change."
"Good or bad?"
"Good." The Conqueror turned her head and kissed Gabrielle's forehead.
The small warrior took a deep breath and relaxed. "Can we talk about something?"
"I'm fighter not a talker." The ruler grinned. "But we can try."
The younger woman chuckled but went serious. "I'm sorry about the other night."
The Conqueror furrowed her eyebrows then recalled what she meant by the other night when Xena had taken Gabrielle. "You're sorry? I thought it was suppose to be the other way around," she said amusingly.
"I deceived you."
"As I said, I thought this was the other way around."
The short warrior sighed then propped herself up on her elbows. "I... I." She laughed in annoyance. "I wanted you to do that the other night." She shrugged. "And I knew you had the rope when you came out on the balcony." She paused. "Truthfully, I could have easily gotten free." She sighed deeply. "I needed you to do that."
"Part of your game?" asked the Conqueror.
The dark Warrior Princess reached up and caressed Gabrielle's cheek. "And I knew you wanted me to do that the other night."
The warrior-bard's eyes widened. "You knew?"
"Gabrielle, ever since you've arrived here. You've been trying to do the opposite of what I would expect most people would do." The Conqueror grinned. "I put the pieces together and figured out you wanted me to do that the other night." She lost her grin. "But, I still felt guilty."
"And you were smart enough to use that against me," added the ruler.
Gabrielle nodded. "I was scared at first."
"I knew that as well, that's why the ropes were so loose then you could have freed yourself easily." The Conqueror smiled softly. "And I tried to be gentle."
The younger woman huffed before lying back down. "Careful but damn dominant."
"I am the Conqueror," stated the ruler.
"You are also Xena," stated the warrior.
"Quite true," agreed Xena.
Gabrielle thought about that, the difference between Xena and the Conqueror. She thought about the night Xena took her, the night the Conqueror took her. Then that's when she realized something. "That's when you gave up in the game, on that night."
"Yes," whispered the Conqueror.
"Why?" asked Gabrielle.
The Warrior Princess sighed deeply. "Remember I asked you whether Xena depends on you or not... needs you?"
"Yes." The small warrior tried fitting her pieces together.
"As you said Gabrielle, I am Xena too there is no escaping that."
Gabrielle fell silent after she understood. The Conqueror is Xena too, the Conqueror would need Gabrielle too. It was defeat.
She twirled her sword and stayed in fighting stance.
The three Amazons wouldn't stay down and got up again to their feet. Bruised and hurt but they wouldn't give up on the fight.
"Stop this," she growled.
The Amazons came closer. They weren't listening.
Another Amazon dropped from the trees with her sword drawn. She pointed the sword at the other Amazons. "Stop you three," she ordered.
She looked over and became quite stunned. "Ephiny?" she whispered.
The three Amazons stopped walking but kept their swords out.
"Ephiny, it's the Conqueror," stated Solari.
"I have a sane feeling it isn't quite the Conqueror," retorted the regent. She joined the other women.
Solari shook her head and pointed her sword at the newcomer. "That is the Conqueror!" she yelled.
She sheathed her sword and watched the Amazons. She folded her arms and just listened.
Ephiny rolled her eyes. "Considering what's going on these days, I doubt it's the Conqueror. Look how she arrived here, no men, she popped up from nowhere, and not killing you three." She faced the newcomer. "If anything, she'll know who we are."
She grinned. "You're right... Ephiny." Her blue eyes flickered over to the other Amazons. "How are you Ep and Solari?"
The three Amazons gaped.
The regent grinned, strolled up with her sword, and stood in front of the newcomer. "You must be Xena the hero."
"I wouldn't say hero more like reformed warlord," stated Xena.
Ephiny chuckled but went serious. "Let me guess, you're here to find you're... partner."
"I am, happen to know her?" The warrior corked an eyebrow.
"Quite a bit."
The other Amazons started exchanging looks but they neared. They couldn't believe this craziness.
"I'm going on pure instinct right now... Xena," Ephiny said the name cautiously and saw the taller woman didn't react to the name use. "I'm not surprised you're here. My instincts say I can trust you but my mind says no. Convince me."
The warrior nodded. "Alright." She tilted her head. "I'm looking for Gabrielle, she's a warrior, short, strong, short blond hair, uses sais, green eyes, and a cute smile." She grinned. "Did I pass?"
"Yes," stated the regent.
"Wait just a centaur's heap dung," said Solari and she stepped up. "This could still be the Conqueror since she's seen Gabrielle by now."
Ephiny sighed and was about to say something but was cut off.
"Solari, you've been an Amazon since birth, you're the second in command, you love to fight with the sword however you enjoy using the bow and arrow, you love getting into a good drinking contest, and you get the biggest kick out of teasing Ephiny." The Warrior Princess paused. "Did I miss anything?"
"This is crazy," whispered the second in command.
"I agree," said Xena. "Now you know how I feel."
The regent nodded. "You're Gabrielle's Xena." She sheathed her sword. "Naturally, you would like to know what's going on."
"Please update me." Xena lowered her hands to her hips. "I think I am behind in this story."
Ephiny chuckled. "Just a little." She sighed. "Let's walk and talk." She faced her Amazons. "We're going back to the village."
"I'm not going to say a word, not a one," Solari said and sheathed her sword. She turned and headed for the village.
The other two Amazons kept their swords out and followed Solari.
"Tell me about the Conqueror." Xena looked at Ephiny.
The regent took a deep breath. "She is you but the ruler of the world."
"Of the world?"
"Not quite the entire world." Ephiny looked up. "But most of it."
The warrior nodded and gazed ahead. "So, I'm in an alternate world."
"You are, here you are the Conqueror and Gabrielle is our Queen."
"Mmmm, so... my Gabrielle went to stop the Conqueror, didn't she?"
"Yes," whispered Ephiny.
"Wonderful," grumbled the Warrior Princess.
The warrior-bard jumped back and let the sword breeze past her stomach. "Close." She flipped her sais out and attacked the Conqueror.
The dark ruler laughed before stopping the sais. "You're quite good, Gabrielle."
"Trust me I know," chided the small warrior. "I was taught by the best."
The Conqueror corked an eyebrow as the parried Gabrielle's attacks. "The second best, you mean." She moved quickly and locked her opponent's weapons in her sword's blade. She lowered her head and grinned at Gabrielle. "The Conqueror is the best."
"Oooh?" Gabrielle grinned back. "Are you trying to say Xena is half rate?"
The ruler chuckled deeply. "Considering I've been fighting non-stop against various enemies, yes." She went serious. "It takes many skills to conquer large lands and keep them."
"Very true," agreed the smaller woman. "Maybe I'll pick up some things from you."
Gabrielle tried jerking her sais free but couldn't. "Great, can I have my sais back?"
The Conqueror laughed. "Do that on your own."
"Alright." The short warrior shifted onto her tiptoes and kissed Xena warmly. It seemed to work considering the Conqueror lowered her sword and grasped Gabrielle's hip with her free hand. But then it backfired because Gabrielle encircled her lover's waist and deepened the kiss.
Xena ended the kiss, rammed her sword into the ground, and brought that hand up to the side of Gabrielle's face. She leaned back in and began another kiss.
The small warrior pulled away from the kiss slowly. "Hmmm, staying with you might not be that bad after all."
"Glad you're starting to look on the bright side," teased back the Conqueror.
"Oh, was that a tease I heard from the Conqueror?"
"Very funny." The ruler mock glared. "Don't ruin it."
Gabrielle laughed quietly. "Oh no never." She grinned. "I'll have to write down all the jokes and teasing you do."
Xena smirked. "I'm always funny, but I'm the only one laughing normally."
"Figures." The small warrior released her lover and backed up. She bent down and sheathed her sais.
The Conqueror twirled her sword then sheathed it. She folded her arms. "We need to get out of here for awhile," she mentioned.
The warrior-bard stood up. "What you suggest?"
"You do know how to ride?"
"Of course," answered Gabrielle. "Once I got over my fear of heights," she mumbled under her breath.
The ruler grinned. "We'll take Argo out for awhile." She nodded. "Come on."
The small warrior followed along side. "We can actually get out of this city?"
"Of course, it is my city."
"Good, hurry it up," the Queen commanded her Amazon. She sighed. "Where the Hades is Ephiny?" she mumbled. Gabrielle leaned against her staff in support of her still healing legs. She could walk on them now but she couldn't jog or run on them, simply walk. She turned around and became alarmed at what she saw. "Oh gods..."
The regent stopped. "Wait here," she ordered Xena and the Amazons. She neared her Queen. "Gabrielle-"
"Ephiny, what in Hades is she doing here?" growled the Queen.
"Wait... wait." Ephiny held up her hands. "It's not the Conqueror, Gabrielle."
Gabrielle gazed back at the tall, dark, leathered woman. "She's Gabrielle's Xena?" she whispered.
"Yes." The regent grabbed her friend's shoulder. "It's not the Conqueror."
"How can you be sure? It could be the Conqueror posing as... as Xena the hero."
The regent grinned. "Do you think the Conqueror knows there is a hero Xena?"
The Queen sighed deeply. "Alright." She took a deep breath and walked along side her regent towards Xena.
"Just look into her eyes, Gabrielle. You'll see," whispered Ephiny.
Gabrielle neared Xena and the other Amazons. She locked eyes with Xena and saw how warm they were and seemed to contain hints of love. "So, you're Xena the hero?"
"Why do I keep getting this description?" grumbled the warrior.
The Amazon Queen leaned against her staff. "Because that's what your partner said, you're a hero in her world."
Xena sighed. "Gabrielle would." She crossed her arms against her chest. "Ephiny said she was here."
"Yes," acknowledged Gabrielle. "About... seven days ago?" she gazed at her regent.
Ephiny nodded. "More than seven I believe."
"You haven't heard anything from her?"
Gabrielle shook her head. "Afraid not." She sighed. "Either way, she's still alive."
"How do you figure?"
"Because her dead body didn't come rolling out of the gates lately," stated Solari.
"Solari," warned the Amazon Queen.
"It's alright." Xena sighed before asking, "Do you know what she was planning to do?"
Gabrielle looked away.
Ephiny noticed and decided to answer the question. "Love the Conqueror."
The warrior licked her lips. "What else?"
"She told me to take the Amazon throne," answered Gabrielle. She glanced back at the Warrior Princess. "And that I should prepare for the future."
"Yes." The Queen ran a hand through her bangs. "She may be dead inwardly and she may be alive."
Xena's jaw tightened. "Oh, she's alive, I know that. She has to much spirit and stubbornness to give up." She breathed calmly. "I'd just like to know what her plans were."
"Nobody is sure, she wasn't even sure," mentioned the regent.
The warrior nodded. "Where is the Conqueror?"
"Athens." Ephiny paused. "We'll take you." She glanced at Gabrielle for approval.
The Queen peered up at Ephiny with fear dulling her eyes but she nodded.
"First, we need a plan," stated Xena.
Gabrielle dismounted her horse and walked beside the Conqueror into the castle's grounds.
"Go to the stables," told the dark Warrior Princess.
The warrior-bard nodded. "That was a nice ride."
"It was," agreed the older woman. She came to the stables and saw a young boy come out. She handed him her reins for Argo.
The boy took them then also Gabrielle's reins for her horse. He then towed them into the stables.
Xena held out her hand. "Hungry?"
"Definitely." The small woman took her lover's hand and they walked towards the castle's large marble doors.
"Must not be too hungry if your stomach hasn't... roared."
"Oooh, it'll voice it's opinion soon."
The Conqueror chuckled and kept walking.
Once inside of the castle, they made their way for the dining room. And there they began eating but for once beside each other.
Gabrielle sat back in her seat and stretched her legs out under the table. "What happened to Amarice?" She peered up.
The ruler finished eating as well so she relaxed back in her seat. "She's gone."
"Do I dare ask where?"
"Back to the Amazons," stated Xena.
The small woman's eyes expanded in surprise. "Really?"
"Yesss." The Conqueror grinned. "Don't make a big deal out of it."
"Oh, I won't." Gabrielle smiled. "I'll just say, thank you."
"You're welcome," whispered the ruler. She leaned over and tenderly kissed her lover. She pulled back with a grin. "Mmm."
The younger woman reached out and pulled Xena's head back in. Her kiss was more seductive.
At the end of the kiss, the dark woman grinned as her blue eyes twinkled. "Let's take dessert into our room."
"Sounds real good."
Xena leaned in and whispered lowly, "It feels even better." She stood.
Gabrielle laughed deeply and rose up.
The pair left the dining room and went directly to Xena's huge room. They'd barely made it to the bed in the heat of things. Both trying to dominate the other but Gabrielle gave in because she knew that in the end she held the dominance.
Xena narrowed her eyes at seeing the massive castle in the middle of Athens on this cool night.
"She's in there," whispered Ephiny.
The warrior nodded and pulled her hood more over her head. "Where's the front door?"
The regent shook her head, grinned, and answered, "On the other side."
"Do you need help?" asked Ephiny.
The Warrior Princess glimpsed at the regent. "No, I'll just walk in."
"Can you really do that?" asked Gabrielle.
Xena grinned at the small blond. "Of course, I look like the Conqueror." She went serious. "Make sure you stay low you four, till the time is right." Her eyes locked on the Amazon Queen. "You're the key, don't forget."
Gabrielle nodded and grasped the warrior's forearm. "Be careful, please." She shook her head. "I'd like to see Gabrielle come out alive."
"She will, I promise." Xena smiled warmly. "If things go right, everybody will be saved."
"We've heard that before," huffed Solari.
Eponin poked the second in command with her elbow.
The Warrior Princess looked at Solari. "It will work if you have faith. I always deliver on my promises."
Solari sighed. "Sorry."
Gabrielle squeezed Xena's arm to get her attention. "The Conqueror is-"
"Me," finished Xena. "Just in a real bad mood, I can handle this. Just worry about yourselves."
The Amazon Queen nodded and let go of the warrior's arm. "Good luck."
Ephiny held out her hand. "Watch yourself, Xena."
The Warrior Princess smiled sadly and took the Amazon's arm. She shook arms then walked off. "Be ready," she called.
"We will," responded Gabrielle. She sighed and watched the warrior disappear in the darkness. "Alright, let's get a place to stay."
The Amazons nodded and went in search of an inn.
Xena came around the bend of the castle. She saw the seven guards ahead, so she pulled back her hood. Her expression went stoic and her eyes ice cold.
The guards grasped their swords and waited for the person to come closer.
The Warrior Princess came right up. "At ease men."
The guards sighed in relief. "Evening, my liege," said one guard. "We didn't know you left."
"Yes, I had some business to attend to," said Xena dryly. "How is Gabrielle?"
"We do not know." The guard shrugged. "We hardly ever see her."
The warrior nodded. "She hasn't left though, correct?"
"Of course not, my liege." The guard stepped back and reached to the gate. "Going in, my liege?"
"Yes." The warrior began walking.
One guard noticed Xena's chakram. "My liege, what happen to your weapon?"
Xena stopped and faced the guard. She pulled out her chakram. "Something wrong with it?" She grinned.
"Uhhh no, my liege." The guard stepped back. "It just looks different that's all, my liege."
The Warrior Princess took a menacing step. "Trust me, it still can slice your head off, nothing different about it." She hooked it back on her side and walked into the castle's grounds.
The gates closed behind.
Xena studied the area then found the entrance into the castle. She began walking up the large steps and went through the open doors.
Two guards on either side of the doorway straightened up with attention. "Evening, my liege."
The warrior glanced at the guard. "Evening." She reached up to take her cloak off. "How are things?"
"Everything is in order, my liege."
"Good, keep it that way."
"Of course, my liege."
Xena grinned and tossed the guard her cloak. "Take care of that."
The guard held the cloak and bowed.
The warrior huffed and walked into the rest of the throne room. She stared at the huge throne on top of three steps. Her eyes went cold at the sight but she kept going.
Xena kissed Gabrielle's forehead. "I'll be back."
"Where you going?" asked the small warrior.
The Conqueror pulled on her leathers. "I need to check things, make sure the men are in order." She had her armor on and was hooking her sword and chakram on.
"Don't take long." Gabrielle grinned evilly.
The Conqueror laughed and leaned back down. Her licks locked in a powerful kiss. She straightened up and slipped her boots on. "Be back." She left the room.
The young warrior sighed and stared at the ceiling. She listened to the fire crackle in the fireplace. Sitting up in bed, she felt something inside give. She stared at the door for a moment. Then she decided to leave but put on her warrior attire first and took her sais.
The Conqueror walked briskly down the hall, her footfall echoing. Then she picked up on the sound of another set of footfall coming towards her, the exact same footfall as hers. Her eyes narrowed as the prickles raised on the back of her neck. She came around the corner of the hall and stopped. She growled at the person before her. "You must be Xena... the hero." She reached back and unsheathed her sword.
The warrior narrowed her eyes at seeing her mirror reflection before her. She extracted her sword and went into her fighting stance. "You must be Xena... the Conqueror," she said dryly.
"I take it, you're here for Gabrielle."
The warrior twirled her sword. "Yes, I've come for what's mine."
"Actually, she's not yours." The Conqueror grinned evilly and took small steps towards Xena while speaking. "You do realize, I am the person you couldn't be." Her voice was taunting. "The ruler of the world." Her sword tapped the warrior's and she laughed deeply. "And Gabrielle's lover."
"If you've touched her-" Xena's anger was coming to life towards this ruler.
"Trust me, I have," whispered the Conqueror lowly. "In places you can only dream of." She leaned towards her counterpart. "She is mine." Her eyes darkened. "And a beaten up ex-warlord will not stop me today or tomorrow."
Xena's body was trembling with rage. "You'll be so lucky to live within the next minute," she whispered with pure hatred.
The Conqueror laughed and stepped backwards. "You won't kill me. You know this world needs me otherwise this realm will be in utter chaos without me to reign."
"Right about now, I don't care." Xena twirled her sword. "I just want you."
"Here I am," provoked the dark ruler.
The warrior snarled and came forward with menacing steps.
The darker Warrior Princess narrowed her eyes, twirled her sword, and went on attack.
The warrior parried the blow and fought back.
Gabrielle came rushing around the corner after hearing the two same voices and sword clashing. Her heart raced and she had her sais in hand. She came around the corner and saw her partner fighting her lover. "No!" she yelled and ran forward. Without thinking, she went head long into the fight.
It all happened too quickly. Both Xenas tried to protect Gabrielle from getting hurt. But the warrior-bard smashed into them, trying to stop the swords yet couldn't. So both swords came down on her and cut her shoulder deeply then hit her in the forehead. Gabrielle fell to the floor unconscious with her head bleeding. Her sais slipped from her fingertips in midair and came crashing to the ground, which seemed to make the loudest boom ever.
The warrior instantly knelt down, forgetting about the Conqueror. "Gabrielle?" she yelled. She placed her sword on the floor and lifted her partner's head. "Gabrielle?"
The Conqueror sheathed her sword and knelt down. "Hades," she growled. Reaching forward, she lifted Gabrielle into her arms. "Follow me," she ordered the other Warrior Princess harshly. She walked briskly down the hall.
The warrior took her sword and her partner's sais then walked quickly down the hall. She kept glancing at Gabrielle in the other woman's arms. She had sheathed her sword and hooked the sais on her side.
They came to the ruler's room and the warrior opened the door.
The Conqueror carried Gabrielle over to the bed.
"Do you have a medical kit?"
The ruler was lowering Gabrielle into the bed while saying, "Yes, in the bathroom."
Xena sprinted into the bathroom. She came back out with clothes and the medical kit. She threw the clothes at the other Xena.
The Conqueror caught them and tried stopping the bleeding in warrior-bard's shoulder and head.
The warrior began pulling out medicines and came over. She knelt down and mixed some herbs. She noted the wound on her friend's side. "What happened to her earlier?"
"She was stabbed," whispered the Conqueror.
The warrior clamped her jaw down from saying anything and just put together the medicine.
Gabrielle opened her eyes gradually and found her head pounding. "Great," she muttered.
"Try to relax," whispered the warrior. She came over and sat on the bed.
The warrior smiled warmly. "Hey, how are you?" She grabbed her partner's hand and squeezed tightly.
The Conqueror reappeared behind the warrior. "Try being more careful next time."
"Personally, I hope there isn't a next time." Green eyes flickered between both the Warrior Princesses.
Xena sighed. "The... Conqueror and I agreed to be cordial." She grinned. "For your sake."
"Thanks," deadpanned Gabrielle. She sighed in relief. "How'd you get here?"
The warrior licked her lips. "The same way you did."
"By the cave?"
"Yes," answered Xena.
The ruler cut in now. "We should let Gabrielle rest, Xena." She folded her arms.
The warrior ran her tongue along her molars. "Yeah," she agreed. She focused her attention back on Gabrielle. "Get some sleep huh? The headache should be gone in the morning and the shoulder wound will be fine."
"Thank you," whispered the younger warrior.
Xena nodded and squeezed Gabrielle's hand. She bent forward and kissed her partner's forehead. She whispered, "We need to talk." She sat up. "Goodnight." Xena stood up.
The warrior flashed a sad smile and walked over to the door.
The Conqueror knelt down beside the bed. She smiled softly at Gabrielle. "I'll be back in a moment. I'm going to give Xena a room."
Gabrielle gave a suspicious look. "Don't-"
"I won't," cut off the ruler. "I'll be nice." She grinned.
The Conqueror leaned forward and kissed Gabrielle soundly.
The warrior saw this and looked away with her eyes closing. Her right hand fisted up.
The small warrior smiled at the end of the kiss. "Thank you."
"No problem," whispered the older woman. "I will be back real soon." She rose up.
Gabrielle watched her join her partner at the door. She noticed the warrior didn't look at her and she didn't want to know what Xena thought of the Conqueror's kiss. But she knew she'd hear about it tomorrow. Right now, she wanted to sleep and get rid of her headache.
The Conqueror escorted the other Xena down the hall.
They both were silent and tense. They both wanted to tear the other apart but knew it would destroy Gabrielle. Neither would or wanted to hurt Gabrielle.
The ruler stopped at a door, and opened it. "Your room." She held out her right hand. "And your weapons."
The Warrior Princess narrowed her eyes at the empresses but reached back and unhooked her sword. She handed it over along with her chakram.
"Gabrielle's sais too," ordered the darker Xena.
The warrior handed over Gabrielle's weapons.
The Conqueror examined Xena's chakram and raised an eyebrow. "Yours is quite different."
"Why don't you play with it." The warrior started moving into the room. "Maybe it'll cut your head off."
The ruler's upper lip twitched. "You'll get these back when you leave."
Xena faced the ruler when she was in the room. "When I leave with Gabrielle," she added on.
The Conqueror laughed. "Don't count on it." She grinned. "She has everything she wants here."
"Don't count on it," mocked the warrior. "I know her, you don't." She grinned.
"Mmm, but you don't know her like I do," retort the Conqueror amusingly. "Sleep well."
"Till tomorrow... Conqueror."
The Conqueror kept her smug look and closed the door.
The warrior turned around and studied the room. She ran a hand through her bangs. "What'd you get us into now, Gabrielle?" She barely slept that night, her thoughts consumed by Gabrielle and the Conqueror. The image of her partner and the Conqueror kissing flashed and reflashed in her mind. It was pure torment for her heart and soul.
The Conqueror glanced to her right at her lover. She was dressed in her leathers with weapons. With the warrior in the castle; it made the Conqueror quite unease.
Gabrielle was out of the bed, and stretching in the early morning. There was red line wound running down her shoulder blade and her forehead was scabbed over on the right side. She still wore her red velvet outfit.
Xena came over and pulled the small warrior in. "How you feel?"
"A lot better," answered Gabrielle. "You two took a good junk out of me last night."
The dark Warrior Princess didn't laugh at all. She peered into green eyes.
The warrior-bard sighed. "To early for jokes?"
"Not at this time," stated the Conqueror. Darkness was tinting her eyes today.
"The protection is kicking in," whispered Gabrielle in realization. "You're not planning to..."
"Gabrielle," drew out the ruler, "she poses a threat to us."
Gabrielle shook her head and furrowed her eyebrows. "That is my best friend," she said lowly.
"You think I do not realize this?" The tall woman released Gabrielle and walked to the other side of the room. "This won't be easy," she muttered under her breath.
"I'll simply will tell Xena to go back home without me," suggested Gabrielle.
The Conqueror whirled around. "Do you really believe she'll agree to that?"
"Well, what else will she do?" growled back Gabrielle. She sighed and dropped her head. "I can convince Xena to leave."
The ruler tilted her head, then folded her arms. "Can you convince... yourself?"
Gabrielle looked up instantly. "What?" She held her hands out. "I said I was staying with you." Her hands fell down in seeming defeat of disbelief. Did she even believe that statement?
"I won't hold you to it," whispered the Conqueror.
The small warrior ran a hand through her hair as the frustration kicked in. "Let met talk to her."
"If that doesn't help then I'll..." Xena trailed off and just walked to the door.
The warrior-bard moved and grabbed her lover's arm. "Don't hurt her, whatever you do."
The older woman sighed and glanced back. "I promise I won't," she whispered because she truly knew how much the warrior meant to Gabrielle.
"Thank you," uttered the short warrior.
The Conqueror just nodded and left the room.
"What did I get myself into now?" Gabrielle mumbled. Finding her boots, she slipped into them and tied them. After making an exit out of the room, she headed for Xena's room, not quite sure where that was but guessed it.
Xena looked up. "Come in." She was sitting on the bed, full dressed in her armor and leathers.
"Hi," whispered Gabrielle. "Can I come in?"
"Sure." The warrior waved a hand at the bed. "Sit down."
The warrior-bard nodded, closed the door, and sat on the bed facing her partner. "How are you doing?"
Xena shrugged. "I'm... alive." She grinned but her eyes were sadden.
Gabrielle nodded and lowered her eyes. "Xena, you really don't have to... be here." Her gaze came back up.
The warrior corked an eyebrow. "And why is that?" She crossed her arms.
"I want to be here."
"Hmmm." Xena slowly began to nod repeatedly. "I'm noticing."
The smaller warrior licked her lips and glanced out the window. "I want to stay here with the Conqueror." She sighed and looked at her friend again.
The Warrior Princess nodded but was peering down at her fingers. She pretended to clean her nails. "As I asked, why is that?"
"Xena, come on." The expression on Gabrielle's face was offensive. "You know why."
"Oh, I can assume." The warrior looked back up. "Probably because it's feeling pretty damn good right now to stay with her."
Gabrielle sat up and walked across the room while the anger grew in her. "Xena, I love her." She spun around. The anger was coming over her.
Xena stood up and came over. "Do you really, Gabrielle?" She grasped her friend's shoulders. "Or are you seeking something in the wrong place?"
"W-what?" The short warrior stared into blue eyes. "Xena, go back. I am staying here." She went towards the door.
"I will not leave without you." The Warrior Princess spun around with an arched eyebrow. "You do not belong here, Gabrielle."
"Then why am I here?"
Xena didn't have an answer, she just dropped her gaze.
"Exactly," stated the warrior-bard. "I am suppose to be with the Conqueror."
Xena looked back up and let her eyes fill with pain. "Gabrielle," she whispered, "you're going to stay with the person... with the person you didn't want me to be?" She closed her eyes and shook her head. "Leave," she growled.
Gabrielle said nothing and left, making sure to slam the door. Her brisk walk took her to the Conqueror at the other end of the castle.
The Conqueror turned around and saw her lover. "Well?"
The short warrior shook her head and stared across at the sparring field. "She won't leave without me."
The ruler's eyes narrowed. "I figured as much." She was about to move but Gabrielle stopped her by stepping in front of her.
"Please don't confront her." Gabrielle paused and added, "Maybe if we leave her be, she'll just give up."
Xena grasped the other woman's upper arms. "I know her." She grinned at the irony. "She won't leave without you."
"Then how do you plan to get rid of her?" questioned the small woman. Maybe she didn't want to hear this after all.
"Torture her mentally." The Conqueror's gaze lifted up and she spotted Xena on an upper level ledge of the castle, staring down at them. "Like now." She grinned evilly and drew her lover in. She lowered her head gradually and captured Gabrielle's lips in a long sensual kiss.
The warrior watched the scene of her best friend and her counterpart kissing. She grabbed the rail and clutched it with white knuckles. "There has to be a god laughing at me now," she whispered. "I lost her before I had her." She shook her had. "This is what I get for waiting," she whispered in voice of bitter pain.
The Conqueror lifted her head slowly and smiled at Gabrielle.
"I love you," whispered Gabrielle.
"Mmm." The ruler lowered her head again. "I love you." She sealed her lips over Gabrielle's with passion pouring into the kiss.
The warrior straightened up and walked away back into the castle. This was going to be her hardest battle ever. The battle of love.
Gabrielle walked out into the courtyard that was massive, it contained a large garden. She began walking through it. Thoughts raced through her mind and made her frustrated rather fast. She sat down on a bench and lifted her legs up. She crossed them and continued thinking.
At hearing another person coming, she glimpsed up and spotted the warrior. "Just don't-"
"I won't," cut off Xena. She sighed and tried to relax. "Can I sit with you?"
The warrior-bard calmed down and nodded.
The Warrior Princess sat down and stared ahead at a bed of flowers. She stared at the small patch of tiny rose bushes. "How long?"
The small woman said nothing at first but did answer. "For a few days now."
"Does she love you?"
"Yes," answered Gabrielle.
Xena nodded and fell silent. Slowly, she turned her head to Gabrielle. "I have your answer."
"Why you're here."
The warrior-bard raised an eyebrow in question.
"Hercules doesn't exist here, correct?"
Gabrielle nodded and waited for more.
Xena folded her arms. "Think about it, you did what Hercules was suppose to do." She tilted her head. "Unchain the Conqueror's heart." She sighed. "That's what Hercules did to me, the only thing that he had to do. That's exactly what you were suppose to do."
"What happens if I leave?" asked the warrior-bard. "I'll tell you Xena, she goes back to being the Conqueror and ruling her people with an iron fist."
"She is the Conqueror, Gabrielle." The Warrior Princess leaned towards her friend. "You cannot change that of her." Her hand shifted and rested on her partner's thigh. "And you cannot accept that of her, Gabrielle, because that's not who you want out of her."
"I can't leave her, Xena... I can't let her realm go to Hell because she lacks love."
Xena closed her eyes, breathed deeply, then opened them again. "Gabrielle," she drew out, "you were not made for the Conqueror."
"Then who is?" questioned Gabrielle hotly.
"This world's Gabrielle." Xena stood up. "It makes sense, just put the pieces together."
"Her heart is too darken."
The Warrior Princess grinned. "That's exactly why she's made for the Conqueror. She has the right amount of light to change the Conqueror and the right amount of darkness to understand the Conqueror." She lost her grin. "You don't belong with her nor here." She disappeared in the garden.
"God," growled Gabrielle. "What is happening?" She closed her eyes as gleaming crystals rolled down her cheeks.
Xena jabbed forward with her sword, twirled it, jumped back and gave a few swipes and thrusts.
The warrior-bard came down the steps from the castle. She spotted her partner out in the middle of the sparring field practicing with her sword. Sighing, she folded her arms and leaned against the castle's cold corner. She watched the warrior continuing to practice.
Thoughts and emotions haven't stopped slamming into Gabrielle's mind since the warrior had arrived last night. She had no idea what she wanted, why she was here, or why Xena was still here. To stop the Conqueror, sure, but there had to be more. It seemed like even the warrior was holding back from telling Gabrielle something. It seemed that even her own self was holding back from telling herself something.
That in turn made Gabrielle lift herself off the wall. She had a mission now. She reached down and unsheathed her sais. With a powerful walk, she made her way towards Xena.
The Warrior Princess felt her friend coming up from behind by the way her body warmed. She immediately spun around with her sword pointed at Gabrielle. She grinned.
Gabrielle corked an eyebrow, spun her sais out, then shifted into battle stance.
The pair began circling each other. What a great stress reliever between each other. That was one of the few reasons they sparred together.
The Conqueror came out of the castle and saw the two women preparing to fight. She folded her arms and stood in the shadows, just watching with intent.
Gabrielle attacked first. She gave a hard kick at Xena's chest.
The warrior took it but didn't lose any footing. She just smirked while spinning her sword. "Come on, Gabrielle. I know your kicks are hard than that," she teased. "Or are you even getting soft?
The warrior-bard laughed and stepped backwards a little. "There's a difference between being soft and weak, your words."
"True," taunted the warrior. But she smiled softly to her friend.
The small warrior faltered for a moment by the smile. She composed herself and attacked her opponent.
The Conqueror saw the second of hesitation from her lover. "Guard," she called.
A guard came over to the ruler. "Yes, my liege?
"Find me Draco."
The guard nodded and disappeared off. He sought out Draco and told him to see the Conqueror.
Draco went to the Conqueror and bowed his head. "My liege?"
The dark Warrior Princess didn't look at him, she just stared at Gabrielle and Xena fighting. "Have the men that sent Amarice to the Amazon Nation... returned?"
"Yes of course."
Xena nodded; still studying the pair fighting. "Did they see the Amazon Queen there?"
"They said they requested to see the Amazon Queen, to give her your message."
Draco folded his arms. "They talked to the head council member, the Amazon Queen was not there."
The ruler eased a grin onto her lips. "Interesting." She final looked at Draco. "Take ten or so men, sweep Athens for the Amazon Queen."
Draco had a confused look. "How will we know what she looks like?"
"Recall the rebel that spoke out a month ago?"
"That is the same person." Xena narrowed her eyes. "Find her."
Draco bowed his head. "It will be done, my liege." He strolled off.
The Conqueror sighed contently and lifted herself off the wall. She joined her lover and Xena. "May I interject?" she inquired amusingly.
The warrior went into rapid movement, which caught Gabrielle off guard. She moved her blade in a certain way and caught Gabrielle's sais in her blade and locked them. She grinned. "We're done."
Gabrielle narrowed her eyes. "Why does everybody do that to me?"
The Conqueror chuckled deeply. "Because it annoys you." She grasped her lover's shoulder. "Hungry?"
The warrior released her partner's sais.
The ruler faced the Warrior Princess. She held out her left hand.
Xena smirked and handed back the sword. "Thanks," she said grudgingly.
The Conqueror nodded and sheathed the sword behind. "Let me know if you're ever interested in sparring together."
"Oh I will," retorted the warrior.
Gabrielle stepped between the two. "Alright, neither of you can spar without me being around."
The ruler grinned down at her lover. "Don't worry, we'll invite you."
"Gee thanks." Gabrielle shook her head and pushed her lover in signal to move.
The Conqueror stepped aside and walked beside Gabrielle into the castle.
The warrior sighed and followed behind. As she followed behind, she noticed her partner's back for the first time. She was whipped. The anger bubbled up inside.
The short warrior felt Xena's blue eyes on her back, so she glanced sidelong back at the warrior. She just caught the sight of darkness in the warrior's blue eyes. What is that about? Then she thought about it and figured it out. Oh no, this won't be good. With a sigh, she looked ahead again.
"What is it?" whispered the Conqueror.
Gabrielle gave a shake of her head; not wanting to answer.
The ruler walked closer and grasped her lover's hand. "What?"
The small warrior sighed and peered up. "I think Xena just noticed the whip marks on my back."
Even the dark Warrior Princess felt the guilt inside relight. "Sometimes, I have to wonder if you were better off heading back."
The warrior-bard squeezed the other woman's hand tightly. "No, I won't go."
"Like I said, I won't hold you to it." The Conqueror's voice was sincere. "Gods only knows what will happen within the passing hours."
Gabrielle couldn't deny that whatsoever, her grip on the ruler's hand just became tighter. This is going to end badly, she mused sadly.
Dinner had gone and passed. Gabrielle was heading to her room with the Conqueror. Ahead was the door to Xena's room and she stopped when she came to the door. She was tempted to knock and talk to her best friend but something was holding her back.
The Conqueror came down the hall and spotted her lover beside Xena's door with a look of bewilderment. She sighed, because she knew she wasn't going to win. She neared Gabrielle. "I am going to check the men."
The warrior-bard peered up and nodded. "Alright, I think I'm going to head to the room."
"No you're not," whispered the dark ruler. She searched Gabrielle's eyes. She grasped her lover's hand and signaled for her to follow.
Gabrielle did follow and was taken down the hall, away from the warrior's room.
Once the ruler decided she was far enough away, she faced her lover. She bent down and laced her hands with Gabrielle's. "I know you want to talk to her."
The small woman opened her mouth but she couldn't deny it.
Xena smiled softly and caressed the other's cheek. "Talk to her."
"Why?" whispered Gabrielle.
"Because you're confused and I know she'll help you." The ruler's eyes lowered. "I can't."
"What?" asked the smaller warrior completely baffled by this.
The older woman sighed deeply and tried to compose herself. "Gabrielle, I want you to stay and I know deep down it is not right." She grinned. "But I cannot convince you that you're not suppose to be with me because I want you to stay here with me."
Gabrielle shook her head. "Xena, I can't leave you."
Xena inwardly cringed because Gabrielle could call her Xena and get away with it now. Gabrielle had certainly broken her walls and this would leave her wounded. "You need to." She narrowed her eyes. "I want what's best for you, I am not it."
"Why are you judging what's right for me or not?"
"Because I know your fate if you stay here." The Conqueror rose up to her full height. "I am not Xena, remember that." She squeezed her lover's small hands then turned to head down the hall.
Gabrielle watched her go but asked, "You are giving up on me? Letting me go?"
The Conqueror stopped and turned back around. "No, I'm sending you home." She locked eyes with her lover in an intense gaze of love. "Go talk to her." She turned away and headed back down the hall. The Conqueror was reborn inside of Xena.
Gabrielle closed her eyes and tried to think. "This is ridicules," she muttered.
Xena came out of her room, she had heard the entire conversation between Gabrielle and the Conqueror. She knew the Conqueror knew this as well. She stood there, staring down the hall at Gabrielle. "Gabrielle," she whispered.
The voice that seems to always guide me in all the chaos, mused Gabrielle. She opened her eyes and smiled sadly at the warrior.
Xena smiled back but made the smile of love.
"We have her, my liege." Draco came in with seven guards escorting four women.
The Conqueror came into the throne room and stood in the middle. She folded her arms, her eyes once more were ice, and her cat grin back. "Welcome Queen Gabrielle."
The Amazon Queen held her hand up and her three Amazons stopped. "What do you want, Conqueror?"
"I have what I want, you." The ruler grinned then glanced at Draco. "Where did you find them?"
"In a tavern on the west side."
Xena nodded and brought her focus back on the Amazons. "Xena had you here for a reason. Did she not?"
"If you're referring to the hero Xena, yes," stated Gabrielle. She stood in front of her Amazons, arms crossed, and back straight. She stood tall and proud as she did the last time she met the Conqueror.
"I see your legs have healed fine," taunted the Conqueror.
"They have," responded Gabrielle. "So, what are you going to do with us now, Conqueror?"
The dark Warrior Princess grinned. "I have plenty of options."
"You do." The Amazon Queen paused. "I wouldn't mind giving you... one."
The Conqueror chuckled amusingly. But she couldn't laugh as much as she wanted to. This was Gabrielle before her, the same Gabrielle she was in-love with but there was an exception to this Gabrielle. An exception she just couldn't quite figure out yet. It was the only thing keeping the Amazon Queen alive right now. "Oh, please makes a suggestion."
Gabrielle grinned. "A treaty. My people are sick of all this fighting." She went serious. "And I know you are sick of the rebels." She titled her head. "I propose an agreement that you leave my Amazons alone and in turn we will not lift a finger against your realm let alone whisper the word rebellion."
The ruler didn't respond immediately while she considered the idea. She knew there were more motives behind this than Gabrielle was caring to tell. The Conqueror would have thrown this treaty out the window in a heartbeat but she wasn't just the Conqueror anymore; she was Xena too. "I'll consider the idea." She stopped because she had to repeat the words in her own head to believe them. "Till then you may stay in the tavern. I will call you back to discuss your idea."
The Amazon Queen bowed her head. "Thank you, Conqueror." She almost stumbled over the words but managed to say them with half sincerity.
The Conqueror looked at Draco. "Escort them back."
Gabrielle didn't move because she held Xena's eyes. Show the Conqueror forgiveness, Gabrielle. That's what will get you inside of her. Xena's words repeated in Gabrielle's mind. Forgive her then you'll forgive yourself, continued Xena's words.
The Conqueror was caught by the Amazon Queen's strong gaze. She read the conveyed message in the small woman's warm green eyes.
Conqueror, you know you cannot escape this or me, thought Gabrielle. Because I know I cannot.
The ruler blinked and noticed everybody was waiting for somebody to speak in this deathly silence. She broke the contact and looked at Draco. "Escort them back now," she growled. "You have my orders."
Draco bowed his head. "Of course, my liege." He glanced back the guards and nodded.
The guards escorted the four Amazons out of the throne room.
Gabrielle sat in the middle of the bed, her legs crossed, and her head down.
Xena sat on the side of the bed. She reached out and grasped her friend's knee. "I know, Gabrielle." She squeezed the small knee tightly. "I know what your trying to understand, what your trying to figure out what's right, and what the Hell is going on around here."
The smaller warrior peered up and a tiny grin formed on her lips at the joke.
"Gabrielle, listen to me huh?" The Warrior Princess voice was warm. "I want you to come out of this in one piece."
The younger woman nodded; still silent.
The warrior sighed. "We have two things between us that the Conqueror doesn't have with you."
"What is that?" asked Gabrielle. Her words held no anger just misunderstanding.
"We have five plus years of knowing each other under our belt and we have a connection." Xena paused. "You know that but I think you've forgotten since your time here."
Gabrielle closed her eyes and whispered, "I haven't forgotten... I just tried finding it all somewhere else."
"Gabrielle, do you really think you're here to change the Conqueror into me?"
"For the most part, yes." The small woman opened her eyes.
"You can't do it," stated Xena. "You cannot change the Conqueror into me." She shook her head. "There is no way possible. You are a world away from being able to change the Conqueror into me."
The warrior-bard looked out the window while thinking. "You're right, I hate having to admit... but you're right." She huffed and looked back at her partner. "She has to stay as the Conqueror anyway since this world was made for her."
Xena slowly nodded. "I will say, there will be pieces of 'me' in her that can be harnessed but not all." She sighed. "It has to be that way."
Gabrielle nodded in agreement, she finally understood. now.
"There's more to this than you just wanting to make the Conqueror me," stated the warrior. She waited to see if Gabrielle would pick up from here.
The warrior-bard sighed deeply then her right hand came up and rested on Xena's hand. "Yes," she whispered. "I've been looking for something... in the wrong place." She held Xena's gaze. "I think... I think I wanted to be with the Conqueror because it was second best to being with you." She stopped then added, "I think somewhere inside myself, I was hoping the Conqueror would be you so that..."
"So that you would have a love relationship with her as if it were me," Xena finished sadly.
The small woman nodded and dropped her eyes. She felt her anger at herself coming to life because she knew that truth would hurt her friend. The person she truly loved and held a connection with. "I'm such an idiot." She shook her head and closed her eyes.
"You're human, Gabrielle." The warrior squeezed her friend's knee. "I can understand why you did what you did. You had two intentions, both backfired on you, but that's okay because in the end things have worked out."
"How is that?"
"Because you have changed the Conqueror." Xena titled her head. "If she wasn't different do you think I'd be here right now, do you think she would have encouraged you to talk to me, or have doubts about keeping you here?" She shook her head. "If she were the same Conqueror, she would have fought me and forced you to stay against your free will. But instead she is forcing you in the right direction despite the fact she knows she'll lose you." Xena smiled. "You changed her just like Hercules changed me." She paused. "Let this world's Gabrielle love the Conqueror."
Gabrielle nodded and looked at Xena.
The warrior still smiled warmly. She turned her right hand up and held Gabrielle's hand. "You did what you came to do." Her smiled had left and her expression was sincere. "You are not her Gabrielle... you are my Gabrielle."
Gabrielle looked away and closed her eyes. She let a few tears escape down her cheeks. "Just explain one thing to me Xena?" She turned her eyes back on her partner.
"Why... why after all these years, and knowing what we know about each other, why are we only still friends physically?" The warrior-bard laughed bitterly. "It's got me so damn confused and frustrated." She huffed. "Five damn years and I'm still just your best friend even though we both know we are soul mates." She locked eyes with Xena. "I cannot figure that out to truly save my life."
Xena licked her lips and thought over her friend's words. She felt all her past fears come to life that have held her back for so long. "Because I can't hurt you," she uttered. "After five years I still can't believe that you're safe with me as friend let alone a lover." She rubbed her thumb against Gabrielle's hand. "Don't doubt the fact that I love you with my soul or that I want to be with you." She shook her head. "I have doubt about myself... I'm constantly worried I'll lead you down the wrong path. I have already."
"Would you for once stop holding me back?" growled Gabrielle. "Stop pushing me away, stop trying to walk away, stop walking behind me, and stop holding yourself back." Her hold on Xena's hand became very strong. "We are soul mates, we both have to accept it completely. I'm not going to fight it and I don't want to fight it. I want to embrace it and become complete because being alone like this is killing me more each day. But I cannot move on without you, Xena." She paused. "Because you are my soul mate."
Neither of them said anything because they didn't need too. All the words were heard and now were up for judging. So many notions and emotions flew through Xena, as well as Gabrielle. But Gabrielle knew what she wanted while Xena knew what she wanted but was too fearful to take what was hers. The warrior finally came to her decision and promised herself and Gabrielle to carry through with it for eternity.
Xena leaned towards her friend so that they were face to face. Her eyes still searching Gabrielle's.
The small warrior breathed heavily and squeezed the larger hand.
The warrior gave back reassurance with a squeeze back. Her free hand came up and caressed Gabrielle's cheek while she still studied the other woman.
Gabrielle swallowed and stayed still. She conveyed her soul shattering desire in her mint green eyes.
Xena tilted her head to the right some as her fingertips grazed under Gabrielle's chin and part of her neck. She brought her hand back up to the side of Gabrielle's cheek. No, she couldn't escape this, only embrace it with a rewarding smile.
Gabrielle waited because she saw the remains of the conflicted in Xena's eyes ending. She already knew the outcome because love has her ways. She sensed Xena's thumb tracing over her lips and it sent a shot through her body.
Xena let a hidden smile tug at the corner of her lips. She leaned towards Gabrielle with her lips slightly parting.
Gabrielle could barely breath and her heart pounded with anticipation.
Xena stopped moving in and watched her friend close her eyes tightly. She felt how tightly Gabrielle held onto her hand that their knuckles must be white. She herself was shaking from this. She heard how labored the smaller warrior's breathing had become. Xena closed her eyes and finished the distance between them.
Gabrielle slowly felt warm lips touch hers and she sucked in a breath with surprise.
The kiss was feather light and almost nothing. But the kiss grew like their love and mouths pressed more against each other. The soul mate's kiss gradually grew intensity.
Gabrielle opened her mouth and felt Xena's tongue enter. She moaned softly and let her own tongue slip into Xena's mouth.
The warrior's free hand slid behind the warrior-bard's head.
The younger warrior carefully grasped Xena's hip for support. She felt her tongue gliding over Xena's soft tongue while they consumed each other's air.
Xena pressed her lips more against the other warrior's and sucked on Gabrielle's tongue. She swirled her tongue over Gabrielle's before starting to carefully pull back. She lessened the kiss to something smaller and sucked on Gabrielle's lower lip.
Gabrielle pressed on for a moment and then agreed to end the kiss. She opened her eyes gradually and smiled. Her eyes sparkled deeply.
The warrior opened her eyes and saw the expression; it mirrored onto her. She laced their hands together before saying, "Thank you for pointing me in the right direction."
The warrior-bard chuckled faintly. "I showed you the door, you had to step through."
"You're always good at doing that with me," joked the warrior.
Gabrielle grinned. "I know."
Xena combed her fingers through her soul mate's hair. "I love you, Gabrielle."
Gabrielle's smile of love never fell. "I love you, Xena."
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