My Life With Xena
"Gabrielle, welcome. My name is Dana Sharpe and I'm the senior editor here at Bardic Books."
"Thank you, I'm glad to be here."
"Please have a seat so we can talk."
Dana: The manuscript you've submitted is quite large. I have an idea to turn the story into a series of episodes. Each chapter seems to be able to stand on its own. The reading public will love it and it will keep them coming back for more. Otherwise we would end up with an epic on the level of War and Peace.
Gabrielle: I'm pleased that you enjoyed it but the story is not just about war and peace...
Dana: No...no, I understand that. I was referring to...um...nevermind. I do however have some changes that we are going to have to make before we can publish.
Gabrielle: Such as?
Dana: Well, regarding the nature of your relationship with Xena, some of the scenes you write are too explicit.
Gabrielle: Too explicit? Which scenes would those be?
Dana: Well, in the first chapter, Sins of the Past, when you tell your sister that you are going to follow Xena because you had fallen head over heels for her...perhaps it would be best if we put that you told Lila that you want to follow Xena because...um...you want to be a warrior like her.
Gabrielle: But that's not why I followed her...
Dana: Yes...I understand. But in order to reach the largest audience possible we should downplay your initial attraction.
Dana: You did want to be a warrior didn't you? In the chapter titled Dreamworker you ask Xena to teach you how to use a sword.
Gabrielle: Yeah, well, she wasn't paying a lot of attention to me and I kind of thought that if I could be useful and a little tougher she would see me as more than a little girl.
Dana: In the chapter titled The Reckoning, did you know that Ares was behind Xena's bizarre behavior? I mean, when she attacked you, you didn't leave, in fact you tried to break her out of jail.
Gabrielle: Not Ares specifically, but I knew that she wasn't acting like herself. I knew that something was influencing her and I was hoping that by sticking by her she would realize this and get back to herself.
Dana: What really happened between you and Phyleus in the chapter called The Titans?
Gabrielle: (Laughs) Nothing.
Dana: But you slept with him.
Gabrielle: No, I just let Xena think I did. The look on her face was priceless. You see, she still saw me as a little girl. I thought if I could change that perception she would take more notice.
Dana: Did she?
Gabrielle: Oh yeah. (Smiling broadly)
Dana: In Prometheus you told Iolaus the story of how humans had two heads and four legs and they were split apart by the Gods and left to wander to find the other half of their soul. Did you know then who the other half of your soul was?
Gabrielle: Unfortunately back then I was very naïve. I was raised to think that a man and a woman got married and the man tended the flock and the woman gave birth and kept house. It never occurred to me then that Xena could be the other half of my soul, but I knew that she was the person I wanted to be with for the rest of my life.
Dana: Is that why you flirted with Iolaus?
Gabrielle: Partly. Some where deep down, I knew that Xena would help me find the other half of my soul. But because of my upbringing, I thought that when two men or two women chose to live their lives together that they were giving up on finding their soulmate. Pretty stupid huh?
Dana: Not so stupid. Unfortunately most people today still think that way.
Gabrielle: That's too bad.
Dana: Yes...yes it is. (Pauses) Okay, well, in Hooves and Harlots you were given your first Amazon fighting staff and you were made an Amazon Princess, tell me about that.
Gabrielle: Well, it was pretty sobering. There I was walking around with this little stick thinking I was on to something, but when Ephiny gave me my first taste of what a real staff could do I was stunned. But for my first weapon it was perfect. As for the Amazon princess part, I literally stumbled into that. When the arrows started flying it was just my first instinct to protect Terreis. She was so easy to talk to, unlike Xena, and she and I became friends so quickly the few hours I got to spend with her. I had no idea what accepting her Right of Caste was all about. I'm not sure if I would have accepted if I had known, but I knew it was a great honor and to turn it down would have been a huge slight to Terreis and the Amazons.
Dana: There was quite a bit of tension between you and Ephiny at first, why was that?
Gabrielle: It had a lot to do with the way she was eyeing Xena. But once I told her to lay off she did and we got along much better.
Dana: (Looking through her copy) You didn't write that.
Gabrielle: No, I was afraid that Xena might read my scrolls, so I left out some of my more private thoughts and embarrassing moments concerning my attraction to her.
Dana: You were attracted to Xena, but when you met up with your former fiancé Perdicus, you were attracted to him?
Gabrielle: Well, not really attracted per se, just impressed by how much he had changed. If you knew the boy I grew up with, the one I was supposed to marry, you would know what I'm talking about. He gave an entirely new meaning to the word dull. It tends to worry a woman when her husband to be is more interested in sheep than in her.
Dana: Ah, I see. Tell me about your time at the Athens Academy for Bards.
Gabrielle: Ever since I was a little girl, I found that I had a gift for storytelling. After travelling with Xena and actually having some stories to tell I found that I enjoyed it. I was still laboring under the assumption that Xena didn't really need me tagging along with her, so I jumped at the chance to enter the competition.
Dana: But you won? Why didn't you stay?
Gabrielle: While I was there I realized that I missed Xena with all my heart. I also realized that my stories didn't come as a result of travelling with Xena, but were merely a byproduct. I simply couldn't imagine my life without her.
Dana: In the chapter Prodigal you left Xena and went home?
Gabrielle: Yeah, well, I still had very little confidence in myself. I was terrified that my lack of experience would get Xena killed, so I left. It was a very hard thing for me to do. It wasn't until I returned to Poteidaia and organized the town against Damon's army that I realized that I had more to offer Xena than the annoying hindrance I believed myself to be. I was just lucky that Xena apparently missed me too, or I might have spent the rest of my life trying to find her again.
Dana: What about Altered States? Was Xena shocked to find out how you felt about her?
Gabrielle: (Laughs) No, not really. I was so embarrassed at having admitted my feelings to her that I told her I didn't remember what I said when I was high on the poisoned nutbread. Actually I think she was really flattered and while I was pretending ignorance of the things I'd blurted out, she only told me about losing Icus and conducting the rock orchestra.
Dana: What about the Greater Good? What was it like thinking that you'd lost Xena?
Gabrielle: (Staring off into the distance with tears in her eyes) I'm...I'm not sure I can talk about that. Just thinking about it makes my heart ache.
Dana: I see. And the tree?
Gabrielle: (Laughs gently) That was the first of many trees that saw my wrath during our travels.
Dana: What about Callisto?
Gabrielle: (Gripping the arms of her chair) I'm not sure where to start with her. She has been a very big part of our lives. What happened to her village Cirra was the fault of Xena's army, but her lust for revenge was her own. Maybe if she had found her soulmate she would have been able to change as Xena did, but that's just speculation. For all I know Xena would have been just fine if she had never met me, if I had never followed her to Amphipolis, but I'd like to think I've made a difference in her life. She's certainly made a difference in mine.
Dana: How were you able to write the scene from Is There a Doctor in the House when Xena revives you? Were you conscious of what was going on or did Xena tell you what happened?
Gabrielle: Xena, no...no way. She still won't talk about it to this day. It was Ephiny who told me what happened. I thought she was exaggerating at first when she described what took place but when I asked Xena about what Ephiny said, she didn't deny it. It was then that I realized that I meant more to Xena than she would openly admit to.
Dana: What did you think when you found out that Xena had a son in Orphan of War?
Gabrielle: I was shocked to say the least. Xena is normally stoic and privacy is very important to her, but I had a hard time dealing with the fact that she simply didn't blurt out every little detail of her life before she met me, the way I do. Solan was adorable and I miss him as much as she does.
Dana: And Remember Nothing? Did you make that chapter up?
Gabrielle: No. I mean, I didn't make it up. Xena swears that it happened and that because of the circumstances I don't remember it. At first she told me that it was a recurring nightmare. She was having them a lot and I would wake to find her wrapped around me holding on for dear life. Finally after much prodding I got her to tell me the story. She admitted that she was sure it wasn't a dream, that it had actually happened to her shortly after she repelled the attack on the temple of the Fates. It still gives me chills that she gave up her brother Lyceus for me.
Dana: And Girls Just Wanna Have Fun? What was going on there?
Gabrielle: Well, we were under the spell of Bachhus (smirks) But the attraction between Xena and I was becoming very strong. I think she was resisting because she was afraid that if she and I got too close her enemies would use me to get to her.
Dana: Then why did you marry Perdicus in Return of Callisto?
Gabrielle: (Looking very uncomfortable) Um...not any good reason. What I mean is that there were several reasons but none of them were good. I didn't love Perdicus, but I thought I would learn to love him, just as my mother had learned to love my father. You see, Xena was determined to keep me at arms length and it was obvious that she wasn't going to let our relationship progress past the point of good friends. I felt as though I needed someone to make me feel validated as a woman and Perdicus was a safe choice. Another determining factor was that my parents would accept Perdicus as my partner but not Xena.
Dana: So Perdicus was your first?
Gabrielle: (Looking embarrassed) Not exactly. I mean...we tried...but I just couldn't. Every time I closed my eyes I would imagine Xena kissing me and touching me and then I would feel his rough mouth on mine and I just...I couldn't. He was very understanding and we just cuddled that night. I thought I would eventually get used to the idea and then I would be able to...but then Callisto killed him. I feel as though I cheated him. He didn't have my heart and I was unable to give him my body. I should have never married him. He might still be alive if I hadn't.
Dana: And Intimate Stranger? What was it like to deal with Xena in Callisto's body? You wrote that even Argo knew it wasn't Xena.
Gabrielle: It was horrible. It just goes to show you how you shouldn't rely solely on your perceptions. I looked at Xena's body and I saw Xena. Even when I knew that it was Xena inside Callisto's body I could hardly look at her. I was still very angry with Callisto for killing Perdicus. He wasn't the right person for me, but he was a good man and he deserved better. And I felt as much to blame for his death as she was because I misled him into thinking that I could love him.
Dana: And when Xena did die in Destiny?
Gabrielle: (Tears flowing freely down her face) I was so angry with myself for not telling her that I loved her. I realized that you should never deny how you feel about the people you love because sometimes it really is too late. Sometimes you don't get a second chance like we did.
Dana: And the Quest? You were determined to get her body to Niklios even though you were wounded yourself.
Gabrielle: I failed her by not telling her how I felt. I wasn't going to fail her in her dying wish to be buried next to her brother.
Dana: Was that your first real kiss?
Gabrielle: Real in that it conveyed everything we felt about each other.
Dana: And not real how?
Gabrielle: In that her moustache started tickling my lip. (Giggles)
Dana: That is where your manuscript starts becoming quite explicit.
Gabrielle: Yes, I was just recording events as they happened.
Dana: Then I don't understand this later chapter with Ulysses.
Gabrielle: That was a really hard time for me. We had become lovers in the truest sense of the word. Xena was my first and my last. But nearly a month after we had become lovers, Palemon had me kidnapped and blinded Xena in a fight. She risked giving up her eyesight to save me and I realized that the world needed her more than I did. (Looking shamefaced) I told her that it would be better if we went back to being just good friends because I was scared that she would try to sacrifice herself to save me again. I pushed her away because I thought the world needed a hero more than I needed a lover. Although she was very hurt she wouldn't admit it and she found comfort with Ulysses. They never did anything more than kiss, I know because that boat was small.
Dana: But you two worked through it. I can tell.
Gabrielle: I knew when she rescued me from Cecrop's ship that she would make that sacrifice whether or not we were lovers. I realized that it made us both a lot happier to be together totally.
Dana: As I said, we will have to downplay your actual relationship...leave it kind of ambiguous.
Dana: Well, a lot of our readers nowadays follow an offshoot of the religion espoused by the Elijians. They believe that an intimate relationship between two women is sinful.
Gabrielle: (Shocked) Really? But that is the essence of our relationship. We are destined to be soulmates for many incarnations. I would think that in most of our lives together we would eventually become lovers no matter what bodies we possessed. I don't think the story would be the same without it.
Dana: I agree, but we are in the business to sell as many books as possible to the largest audience. Leaving in the intimate nature of your relationship would undermine that.
Gabrielle: I'm not sure if I want my stories censored like that.
Dana: I agree...and I have an idea. We can have you write the more intimate stories under a pseudonym and sell them as lesbian erotica.
Gabrielle: Lesbian erotica? But Xena and I aren't from Lesbos.
Dana: (Big sigh) It's a modern term for books which extol a physical relationship between two women.
Gabrielle: Oh...I see. Well, I guess we can work something out.
Dana: I'm sure we can. (Big grin)
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