Disclaimer: I have intended no copyright infringement in the writing of this fan fiction story that contains characters, names, title, and backstory found in the syndicated television series Xena: Warrior Princess .
This story cannot be sold or used for profit, and I have not financially profited from it in any way. Copies of this story may be made for private use, and copies must include all disclaimers and copyright notices.
Content: This story depicts love/sexual relationships between consenting adult women. If you are under 18 years of age or if this type of story is illegal where you live, please do not read it.
Summary: Ever wonder what really happened between Xena and Lao Ma? This short story retells the events of The Debt I and II from Lao Ma's perspective, specifically recounting her reasons for trying to heal Xena physically and spiritually.
When I entered my chambers, Xena was still asleep. I was not surprised. Her body needed sleep in order to heal. I left the tray of fruit on the stand near her side of the bed, and left the room to meet with my policy advisors for the rest of the day.
I did not return to the chambers until nightfall. When I returned, Xena was up, slowly pacing the floor, wincing with every step. She was wearing the red robe I had left for her. The room was dark, except for a few candles that she had lit. The tray beside the bed was empty as though she had devoured the fruit upon waking.
"Good evening, Xena. How are you feeling?"
She looked up at me.
"Like someone took a sledgehammer to my legs," she muttered.
I wondered if she remembered last night.
"Would you like me to alleviate some of your pain?"
She stopped pacing and looked at me.
"You can do that?"
"Sit by the bath."
She slowly walked over to the tub. As she did, I noticed that already her limp was better than it had been yesterday.
I met her at the tub and rolled out a mat for her to lie on.
"Good," I said. "Sit here and lie back."
She slowly did so.
As I knelt before her legs, I noticed that her eyes remained wide open, alert.
She breathed deeply, but kept her eyes open.
Gently at first, my hands made contact with her legs just below the knee. As my hands became more engaged with touching her, I felt the knots in her muscles and the small calcified bumps in her bones. I made my way down her legs and then I came to her feet. I massaged the part of her soles that corresponded with the pain centers in her legs.
"My legs..." Xena whispered. "I can't feel them."
"Yes. The symptoms are gone, but they're not healed."
She sat up, placing her hands on her legs.
"You should get into the bath again," I said. "The water and herbs will help with your healing."
"Can I... stand up first?"
"Of course," I said. "But be careful. Your legs are still fragile, even though they feel better."
She quickly rose to her feet. As she did, the furrow in her brows disappeared and a smile appeared on her face. After briefly stretching, she laughed and jump-kicked surprisingly high into the air.
"Xena!" I said, smiling despite my concern.
Grinning, she ran across the room and jumped onto the bed with gleeful abandon.
I laughed along with her, catching glimpses of the woman she perhaps used to be. Or could have been. Or, still could become.
She hopped off the bed and ran back to me, standing by the bath.
"Someone is going to be very sore tomorrow," I said. "If she does not get into that tub."
Still smiling, she stripped off her robe.
I immediately averted my eyes, feeling self-conscious. I turned to leave.
She grabbed my arm, so I turned to face her, willing myself to keep looking into her eyes and not at her naked body.
"Stay," she said, her face becoming serious. "Please."
She slid into the steaming tub, moaning with pleasure as the warm water enveloped her body.
Sitting outside of the tub, behind her cross-legged, I let her relish it for a few minutes. I remembered last night, how she had pulled me to her for that exquisite kiss. I studied her as she sat in the warm water with her eyes closed.
Shaking my head, I filled a bowl with warm water. When she heard my splashing, she waded her way toward me, the top of her breasts glimmering halfway out of the water.
I smiled at her and she turned around so as to let me wash her hair.
I poured the water over her head and, this time, I reached out and ran my fingers through her hair to get it wetter.
At my touch, her breath quickened and she closed her eyes. Her chest moved up and down.
From above her, my eyes followed the trails of water down the tan skin at her forehead and all the way down her neck. Further down, her nipples peaked above the water each time she inhaled.
My hands on her head began to massage. Her scalp was wet and warm and she relaxed into my touch, slowly moving her head around to meet my hands.
"How do you feel?" I said, after a few minutes.
She pulled away, then, and turned to face me, slowly opening her eyes. I was struck by the intensity I saw in them. Gone was the lightness, the humor.
"Ready for bed," she said, raising an eyebrow.
Her innuendo was obvious. And, it would be an understatement to say that I was also ready. In my current state of arousal, I would not have protested had she pulled me into the hot tub with her and taken me right there.
And yet, Jiang's words echoed in my head. I was not ready to trust my desire of her. And she was not yet ready for great love.
"Xena..." I said. "Get out. Let me brush your hair."
I saw a brief flicker of something in her eyes. Whether it was hurt or anger, or both, I could not say. Nonetheless, she waded to the other edge of the tub and pulled herself out of it. After drying off, she wrapped herself in a robe and walked over to where I sat. She lowered herself and sat with her back to me.
As I gently brushed the tangles from her hair, I thought of my rebuff of her advances. I was proud of my ability to quiet my desire, but that desire remained, nonetheless, taunting me each time I made contact with her.
Xena, for her part, remained silent. As I brushed her hair, she periodically glanced back at me with alternating looks of suspicion and pleasure.
Finally, she turned and spoke.
"Why are you serving me like this? Without wanting anything in return?"
I looked at the brush in my hands. I wasn't sure I had a clear answer to that anymore.
"As I told you," I said. "I see a great woman in you, waiting to come out."
At this, she turned her body completely around to face me. The robe had fallen open a bit and I could see the barest hint of her breasts within. Her hair, wet, was at her shoulders.
"You really believe that, don't you?"
Her face was flushed, and she looked boldly into my eyes.
"And, was I mistaken then," she said. "In reading your preference for women?"
I looked away. It was a desire that, like all of my desires, I had learned to quiet.
"I see," Xena said. "A married woman in your position has appearances to keep up to the outside world."
I looked at her sharply.
"Conforming with the ways of the world is of no interest to me," I said. "I believe you and I have that in common."
I stood then, and extended a hand to help her up.
She accepted my assistance and our hands made contact. She pulled herself up and when she was standing, kept hold of my hand. I tried, weakly, to free myself, but she held on. I didn't try hard to pull away.
Instead, my hand went to her cheek. I had to know. What was this to her? Who was this "her"? The brutal warlord, the scared child, or the woman capable of great love who was buried beneath those layers?
"You didn't answer me," she said. She then pulled me closer to her, still holding my hand, and put her arm around my waist.
I felt safe in her embrace, and so I let her hold me. My body pressed against hers. From my center I felt a warmth and, between my legs, I felt my desire. My body was ready for her. It ached for her.
She brought her lips to mine. I had time to pull away, I certainly had the strength, but I did not have the will. I closed my eyes and felt her lips, wet, pressed upon mine. It was quite different from the previous night's kiss in bed. It was more hesitant, less violent. When I didn't refuse her, she used her tongue to seek entrance to my mouth, which I granted. I heard a moan and realized that it came from me. My hands, one grasping hers, and the other at her waist, began exploring.
Untying her robe, she took my hands and placed them on her bare skin, at her waist. I ran my hands over her muscular back as her mouth began exploring my neck. Her hands were at the opening of my robe, fumbling to get inside. Not ready for that, I grabbed her wrists, which resisted at first, and put her arms around my neck.
Our mouths met again, and this time I used my tongue to open her mouth wider. My hands entered her robe again and continued exploring her body.
"Gods..." she said.
As we kissed, I felt my desire beginning to drip down my thighs. This passion, both hers and mine, was unlike anything I had let myself experience before. The intensity of it was exciting, out of control, and, for that reason, frightening. I had to stop it, somehow. Yet, before I could, one of her hands grabbed one of mine and placed it between her thighs, every so barely out of reach of the wetness within. I could feel the heat emanating from her.
I had to do this. I had to know her in this way.
"Lao Ma...." she whispered into my ear. "Please."
I paused, my indecisive hand suddenly trapped in a contest between desire and restraint.
Xena's desire won out and, as she thrust her hips forward, I found myself buried in her wetness. She was slippery and warm and I easily found her swollen center. Her hips began rocking, although that was unnecessary, my hand having already started its own rhythm, causing her to moan.
Somehow, I remembered my conversation with Jiang, earlier in the day.
"You doubt that she can be healed," I had asked him.
"She is very beautiful," he had said. "She has been using that to her advantage, turning people into her pawns, for a long time. That is well-known about her. I urge you... be careful."
I inhaled sharply, feeling the delicious warmth of Xena surrounding my hand. What was I doing? I was the leader of the land of Lao , jeopardizing my people with my desires.
I pulled my hand away from her.
"What...?" Xena said, opening her eyes.
"I'm sorry Xena. I can't."
"You can't? You just were ."
She came at me again, as if to kiss me. I put a hand at her hip, stopping her.
"I am sorry for misleading you," I said. "But the greatest worth is self-mastery."
Her face was red and her eyes seemed to be a deeper shade of blue. She shook her head, and angrily shut her robe.
"It's late," I said. "You are welcome to join me in my bed. If you do not think you can master your desire tonight, Jiang can bring a mat for you to sleep on."
Xena laughed, angrily. I deserved it.
"Like an animal?"
I thought of her in Ming's cage, just yesterday.
"It's up to you, Xena."
Without making further eye contact with her, I walked to my armoir. Pulling my robe off, I slipped a lighter one over my head. Walking to the basin, I placed my hands in the clean water and drew my hands to my face. I could still smell her on me. After some breaths to calm my mind, I got into bed.
Xena paced in the room for some time. Eventually, she blew out the candles and joined me.
I don't think either of us slept much during the night. Still aroused, I spent much of the night fighting the urge to relieve the tension that had built in my body. How could I sleep, with her lying inches from me?
The next morning, after a night of successfully quieting both our wills, I decided that Xena was ready to further the lesson. After we breakfast, I took her to my meditation room.
As expected, her legs were quite sore from the previous day's exertions and her limp had returned. Nonetheless, she proceeded to proudly smash one of my vases with her foot in a demonstration of her power. As she stood there smiling amidst the shattered pieces, I think she relieved some of the tension we were still carrying from the previous night.
Better to pick up those pieces than the shattered pieces of the land of Lao .
"Put up another bottle," I said. I wanted to show her what more disciplined energy could do.
She turned and limped to where the other two vases sat, a couple of feet away. She picked one of them up, placed it on the table, and stepped away.
I bowed slightly in the direction of the vase, beginning to harness the energy coursing through my body. After staring at the vase for a few moments, I felt the energy flow through me. Instantly, the vase shattered.
Xena jumped and then began admiring the pieces of the vase lying on the floor.
"Teach me to do that."
"Well, try it."
Quickly, Xena limped over to where the remaining intact vase sat and carried it to the table. She carefully placed it on the table and backed away. She shook out her hands, as if preparing herself. Closing her eyes and then half-opening them, she began making various scowling faces at the vase. A few moments passed and nothing happened. Her body became more tense and her scowling increased. Still, nothing happened. Tilting her head sideways, as if that would help, her frustration became more apparent.
Because she was so earnest in her attempt, I smiled and then, not able to stifle it, I laughed aloud.
Upon hearing me, Xena shot her scowl in my direction. I felt the intensity of it, although it was quite scattered.
"I'm sorry, Xena," I said, laughing. "You're trying to attack the bottle with your will."
"What else is there?" Xena said, exasperated.
"The entire world is driven by will," I said. "Blind and ruthless. In order to transcend the limitations of that world, you need to stop willing. Stop desiring. Stop hating."
"How do I do that?" Xena asked, with doubt.
"Heaven endures and the earth lasts a long time because they do not live for themselves. Therefore, she who would live a long time, should live for others. Serve others."
Xena's face softened.
"I could serve you, if that's what you mean," she said.
She seemed close to tears.
"Of course you can," I said. "It's easy to serve someone you love. You feel that it will make them love you more. It's like a good business investment. But that's not what I'm talking about."
Love? I had said it aloud. Why had I assumed? I remembered the woman with green eyes.
Xena took a step forward, nervous.
"You mean that I should serve someone who hates me?"
"More than that," I said. "You need to serve someone you hate. Ming Tzu."
"Ming Tzu." Xena's face tightened in anger.
"Yes," I said. "The man who had you hunted like an animal. He comes here tomorrow with his son."
Xena's anger had by now turned into rage. I felt it coursing off of her.
"Serve Ming," she said. "I'd rather die."
"You've been a dead woman for a long time now, Xena. I'm offering you the chance to live."
I looked into her eyes one last time, turned my back on her, and walked out of the room. Before I exited, I felt her at my back.
She grabbed my arm and spun me towards her.
" You have been serving me ," she said.
I saw where this could go and I wanted to stop it before it got there.
"Xena," I said. "Please let go of me."
"Tell me." She kept hold of my arm.
"Xena..." I shook my head.
"Why? Why have you been serving me like this?"
I didn't want to lie to her. But telling her the truth would be worse.
"Do you... hate me?" she asked,
"No." I looked into her eyes. "No," I repeated, more firmly.
She looked down, took a breath, and then asked what I feared she would.
" Did you," she said. "Hate me?"
I inhaled and tried to calm my pounding heart. Her hand on my arm gripped tighter. I wanted to tell her how beautiful I thought she was. I wanted to pull her into my arms and smell her, whisper into her ear. Instead, I told her the truth that would hurt her.
"Yes. At first."
She released my arm, throwing it back at me.
"Go to Hades," she said.
She turned her back on me and, this time, it was me who caught her arm.
"By serving you, Xena, I have learned what it feels to live again." And love, I thought.
"Well," she said. "Glad I could help you learn how to feel some thing."
"I feel many things. The lesson is that we don't always have to act out everything we feel."
"Doesn't seem to be much of a point to living if you don't act on any thing you feel," Xena said.
I looked away.
"If you don't feel that you are ready for this next lesson, let me know before Ming Tzu arrives tomorrow night."
Xena ended up deciding to serve Ming Tzu. In a way, her stubbornness served her well. She seemed set on proving to me that she wasn't an animal.
So, dressed in servant robes and wearing heavy makeup on her face, she served him. Never an observant man, he didn't even notice that it was she, the "stupid thug" he despised, who served him food and tea. I felt her hatred of Ming Tzu pulsing off of her the whole time. Yet, she did not attack him and, at the end of the night, I was quite proud of her.
"All right, Lao Ma," she said to me, after he left, "I did the whole servant bit, and it accomplished nothing."
"You're wrong," I said. "For a few hours, you actually silenced your will. It's a beginning."
"A beginning to what, huh? I should have just sliced that pig's throat."
"To conquer others is to have power; to conquer yourself is to know the way. Come with me Xena."
From the dining area, we walked through the doorway and entered the corridor. In doing so, I instinctively held my hand out and captured Xena's hand in my own. She caught up to me and we walked side-by-side.
"You did well," I said. I stopped walking and, before I could convince myself not to, I turned to her and placed a light kiss on her lips.
When I pulled away, I saw the hint of a blush at Xena's cheeks.
"Well," she said. "That's a beginning, too. For you."
I smiled and continued walking again, with her hand in mine. I noticed that her limp had improved.
"So, where are we going?"
I stopped in front of a door.
"To see my husband."
Xena raised an eyebrow and smirked.
Later that evening, after revealing to her my secret, that I intentionally kept my husband in a coma, Xena and I shared a meal of rice and vegetables in my chambers. After leaving my husband's bedside, a silence had overtaken Xena. I thought I knew why.
Sitting across from me, as she quietly focused on using chopsticks, I placed a hand over her fumbling fingers.
"Xena," I said. "I know that you didn' t know."
She met my eyes and shook her head.
"My son, Ming Tien, has always been raised by his father, Ming Tzu," I explained. "Instead of me."
"I..." Xena began.
"Yes...?" I encouraged her. I had learned quickly that for her to speak openly and copiously was a rare thing.
"I would like to sit here and tell you that I wouldn't have kidnapped him had I know he was your son," she said. "But I owe you the truth, and the truth is, I would've. Then, anyway. I... I hated you... too."
I knew she spoke the truth, and for that, at least, she had my admiration.
"Thank you for your honesty," I said.
Xena nodded. After a couple of minutes of silence, Xena spoke again.
"What happened, with you and Ming Tzu? Were you married to him, first?"
"I was Ming Tzu's courtesan. His slave."
"But...you are so powerful...?" Xena furrowed her brows in anger and disbelief.
"Yes, I am." I said. "I wasn't always."
"I was born a peasant, sold by traders to Ming Tzu. I was the first of his courtesans to bear him a son, his heir, which is all he wanted a woman for. He killed the other women but I was given the 'honor' of being sold to Lao, who wanted a wife," I said. "Fortunately for me, Lao was a man too busy with violent, ruthless affairs of state to remain attentive to his new wife. On my own time, which was ample, I lost myself in the estate's vast library. I learned how to heal. I learned pressure points."
Here, I showed Xena two fingers and raised an eyebrow.
"I could expand your knowledge of the art."
"I applied my knowledge of pressure points to my husband, as you saw, keeping him in a coma. And, I began meditating. It was during these times, alone, when I became aware of deeper truths about the human condition. The flow of energy through our bodies reflects the flow of energy throughout the universe. To maintain well-being, we have to maintain balance. Remove blockages."
I picked up my tea and took a sip, giving Xena the space to process this.
"But, weren't you angry? Angry at how they treated you? Angry at being someone else's property?"
"Oh yes, Xena. I was very angry. And, I was hurt and scared."
"First, I came to know myself. And then I conquered myself," I said. "My desires. My emotions. My will. If we do not hold on to who we are, we are capable of great change."
"But... you could use your powers to stop Ming Tzu," she said. "You could have used them to stop Borias and I."
I smiled and remained silent.
After a moment of consideration, Xena blushed slightly as it registered.
"The power I exercise, Xena, is in restraining myself from inflicting violence on political opponents. It's the same power you have, as you demonstrated today by serving Ming Tzu. You silenced that hatred, that aggression. That takes great power."
Our tea and soup empty, I was ready to give Xena her final gift.
"How are your legs today?"
Xena looked at me, surprised at my change of subject.
"Tomorrow is your final lesson." I said. "Restoring your physical health will help aid your transformation. I will heal your legs."
In the morning, after breakfast, I excused myself and met Jiang in the conference room.
"She has made progress," I told him. "Her body is healing. She is controlling her will. She is smiling again."
Jiang paused, the hint of a smile at his lips.
"As are you, Lao Ma."
I smiled, but did not confirm what he seemed to want me to admit.
"I did not think it was possible for her to be human," he said. "Perhaps it was foolish of me to underestimate your powers."
"It has taken an extraordinary amount of will, on my part," I said.
I blushed slightly, thinking if he only knew. I changed the subject.
"What is the status of Borias?" I asked.
"As expected, he has been roaming Chin's lands with his army. It appears to be growing. He has yet to form an alliance with Ming, however."
"That is good news. However, we must ensure such an alliance does not happen. I believe now is an auspicious time for us to try for an alliance. I have a plan."
"Yes. I need you to send a message to Borias. Find out if he is willing to entertain the possibility of a three-way alliance between his army, Ming, and Lao. If he is, he is welcome to come here immediately to negotiate."
"And, her? Xena...?"
"I anticipate that she will be joining the House of Lao."
"In what capacity, may I ask? As your...?"
I stopped. I did not know what to say or how to explain it.
"As my warrior princess," I said. I did not yet know what that would entail.
Jiang waited for me to continue, eyebrows raised.
"I know you do not think highly of her. But this is something I have to try. I think she is better than she has shown."
"If that is your opinion of her, then I hope it works out. For your sake, as well as the sake of Chin."?
Before I could fully process that, Jiang had left the room, having gone to send for Borias.
I placed a hand at my temple and massaged it lightly. Although I did not yet have a headache, I fully anticipated one at any moment. I needed to believe that I was doing the right thing by healing her legs. I wanted to believe I was not putting a sharpened sword back in the hands of a dangerous, violent woman.
Returning to my chambers, I found Xena seated on a cushion looking out the window. I extended a hand to her.
"Come with me, Xena."
With furrowed brow, Xena took my hand.
"No," I said.
I led her to the healing table in my chambers.
"Lie down," I said. "Make your mind still, while I prepare."
Xena did as instructed as I walked throughout the room blowing out candles. I left a few of them lit, near the healing table, but wanted as minimal distractions as possible. I began to clear my mind, preparing myself for the energy this endeavor would require. When I felt ready, I walked to the table and looked down at Xena, who was lying on her back, quite still.
With my eyes, I first began scanning her robed body. Her energy was like a raging flood that was trying to find its path. As I placed my hands over her, without touching, it was confirmed that her life force was out of balance. She had too much yang, too much aggression and desire. The energy was still incredibly strong, despite her having spent the past few days with me, learning to quiet her will.
My hands traveled down her torso, past her waist, and down to her damaged legs. Instantly, I felt an enormous blockage of energy there, trapped. Moving my hands in a circular motion, I urged the energy to circulate and dissipate. Yielding to her energy, I let my hands receive it. Gradually, through various pathways, the absorbed heat traveled throughout my body.
Like a sponge, I took in her dissipating energy.
After hours of this, my headache returned, turning into what was becoming a familiar dull pounding.
Upon sensing a balance within her, I stood then, feeling that it was complete. I stepped away from Xena's body.
"Come to me, Xena. Now."
She slowly opened her eyes and sat up. As she drew her legs over the side of the table, she winced out of habit. As if stepping into a pool of cold water, she began slowly shifting her weight onto her legs. Her eyes widened when she realized she did not feel pain. Smiling, she stood and ran to the other end of the room, ran up a wall, and did a flip, much like she did a few days ago, except now, her legs were physically healed.
Whether it was another vision, I almost could not tell, but Xena's energy lightened and we floated in the air together. Our legs not touching the ground, we twirled and danced and laughed in the air. Although chaste, our energy seemed to be combined in an intimate way. Indeed, a part of our energy would be linked forever, as a whole greater than the sum of its parts. She had filled me with heat, where I had previously been cold. It was very much like lovemaking. As we embraced a final time, Xena removed her hairpin and slid it into my hair.
I felt his energy before I saw him stride into the room. Nonetheless, I kept my eyes fixed on Xena. I could not give it away.
Twirling in the air with Xena, I saw her eyes slowly move to the doorway. I saw her face slowly form into a scowl, where before it had been peaceful and happy. She fell to the ground with a thud. With a growl, she lunged at Borias with two punches, who fell backwards with a groan.
Before Xena could knock him senseless, I ran to them and placed myself between the two.
"Xena, stop. Control yourself. He's here because I sent for him."
A hurt look passed over her face. Before I could explain, she jumped over my head with a flip and delivered a roundhouse kick to Borias' face. He fell onto his back, nose bloodied. Still, Xena stalked over to where he lay.
I ran over to him and shielded his body with my own.
"Xena, just stop. Stop willing, stop desiring, stop hating."
As I said this, her face turned from digusted to hurt.
I thought maybe I had reached her.
I was wrong.
In the safe harbor of my chambers, Xena had been untested. She was not ready for this lesson. She was not ready for Borias. I saw that now.
With wild eyes, she found Borias again and ran to him, butting him in the head with her own. She began beating him then, punching him in the stomach, striking his neck, kicking him in the face when he was down on his knees.
Appalled, I could only look on, regretting my decision to bring him here.
Feeling heat in my body building, I brought an arm back and thrust it forward at Xena, sending her flying, tumbling through the air.
"Alright, we'll do this a different way."
With Borias and Xena sitting across from each other on their knees, I told them how this was going to work.
"We're going to have peace in this land, and the two of you are going to help bring it about."
"You've gotta be kidding," Xena said.
"Tomorrow, Ming Tzu comes here to talk to Borias and me. We're going to include him in a three-way alliance."
"If you think I'm playing servant girl to these two, you've got another thing-"
"Quiet Xena. I plan to inform Ming Tzu of your presence. He has to accept that. You're going to help me run the kingdom of Lao . You'll be my warrior princess. Tomorrow you'll ask for Ming's forgiveness. Today you're going to learn how to deal with Borias. Xena's capable of profound loyalty Borias, she just doesn't know it yet. I'm going to leave the two of you alone. It serves both your interests to get along. If you kill each other, so be it."
I saw the glimmer of something in Xena's eyes. As she looked at Borias, she still had the wild look she had when she attacked him. She looked like an animal, ready to pounce on him- in one way or another- as soon as I left the room.
Angry, I turned and abruptly left, wondering if I was leaving not only Xena's body behind, but also, her soul.
While Xena and Borias reunited, I waited in my chambers alone. After the daylight faded into evening, I heard a knock. I tried not to let my disappointment show when I saw that it was Jiang, and not Xena.
"Come in," I said.
"How do you think their reunion is going?"
"I hope that she has decided to let go of her desires. Her hatred. Her anger. Or else," I said. "She is likely to kill him."
"Among other things..."
"Yes. Or that."
I tried not to look hurt. Technically, I had no claim on Xena.
"And, what if Ming Tzu does not forgive Xena? Would you surrender her to him?"
"She is not mine to surrender, Jiang. But if he does not forgive her, she will still be welcome in the land of Lao ."
"That could threaten the treaty with Ming..."
"And to surrender Xena to him would be to condone slavery. She is her own person."
"Even if she chooses to leave with Borias?" Jiang asked.
My heart skipped a beat, but I kept my voice calm.
"Yes, Jiang," I said. "Even then."
"Very well," Jiang said, shortly. He turned to leave.
I touched his arm, and he paused.
"You are angry..." I said.
"No, Lao Ma."
"You devote your life to denying your desires, for the sake of Chin," he said. "I am not wise. Not like you are. But maybe if you were honest with yourself about feeling desire at all, more options would make themselves available. To you and to Xena."
"Jiang, what are you saying?"
"I know you Lao Ma. And, I also know that a person can only be rejected so many times before they choose an easier path that presents itself."
My heart began racing.
After Jiang left, I lay awake in bed for much of the night. My thoughts were of Xena and Borias alone together in my meditation room.
When Ming Tzu arrived the next morning, he was quite angry that I had been harboring Xena. Instead of letting go of his anger, he refused to forgive Xena for kidnapping Ming Tien. As he turned to leave, Xena proposed a game of chance. The winner would get Xena and the body part of each of the losers. It was absurd, yet feeling defeated, I did not stop it.
Xena, Borias, Ming Tzu, and I sat together in a small circle. Xena was shaking the dice in the cup. Unsettled, I wondered how I had let this negotiation happen so fast and go so wrong. As soon as Xena proposed it, I knew that the game of chance had been their idea, Xena and Borias', and that they had made it together.
Xena had made a choice to hang on to her anger and hatred. That much was very clear. So now, I sat with them in this circle, speechless, wondering how to control all of this damage.
Then, Xena slammed down the cup. We all peered into the middle of the circle as she raised it.
"I win!" Xena said. "Pay up."
"This is ridiculous," I said.
Xena ignored me and looked at Ming Tzu.
"I want a piece of him," she said.
"You're crazy," Ming Tzu said.
"Then you're not going to pay up?" Borias asked, amused.
"Are you?" Ming Tzu asked.
"Yes," Borias said. He looked at Xena, with an evil grin. "I give you my heart."
My own heart began to race and my body began to feel hot. I tried not to look appalled, but I believe I failed.
"I accept," Xena said.
Something inside of me snapped, then. Like a flood of raging red. In fragmented moments of time, I saw Xena rushing toward Ming Tzu, something about collecting her winnings. She killed him, easily, and turned toward Ming Tien who stood wide-eyed and full of fear. I heard Borias chuckling in the background.
I managed to speak.
"What are you doing?" I asked her.
"Now we can wipe out the entire line. Then it'll just be the house of Lao. We can rule the whole kingdown of Chin together. You can do all your noble stuff, and Borias and I'll keep the peace. We'll have some laughs along the way."
I wanted to laugh inside. Xena looked and sounded as wild as I felt on the inside. I had something in me that needed to get out. Borias sticking around would not do. Damn her.
While little Ming Tien looked on, I threw my arm in Xena's direction, directing a powerful burst of energy at her. She flew backwards. I did the same in Borias' direction, without really looking at him. I heard the thud of his body hitting a wall across the room, and then the sound of another thud as he hit the ground. His laughing had stopped immediately.
I walked toward Xena and used this energy to throw her into a wall. Damn her. I did it again and again until she was lying on the floor, like Borias, in a heap.
And still, that wasn't enough.
I walked to where she was lying. Her lip was puffy and bloody and her eyes were closed.
As I stood over her, I heard a noise at the door.
"Lao Ma...?" It was Jiang, looking around in disbelief at the three bodies lying on the floor.
"Get the boy out of here," I said in a voice I hardly recognized. "Get them all out of here."
I stood over Xena's body and barely registered the frenzied motions of my guards whisking Ming Tien away and dragging Borias' unconscious body and Ming Tzu's dead body out of the room. When one of the guards bent over to pick up Xena's feet to drag her away, I put a hand on his chest, without looking at him.
"No," I said. "Leave her."
The guard looked at me, confused.
"Leave," I said.
"Lao Ma...?" Jiang said.
"Leave," I said it loudly and forcefully this time.
Jiang and the guards scrambled out of the room.
Once I heard the door close, I bent down near Xena's face. Silently, I watched her struggle to regain consciousness.
After a few moments, her eyelids began fluttering. As soon as her eyes opened and focused on me, I spoke.
"Why did you do it?"
"Kill Ming Tzu? He was scum."
"Not that," I said. "His heart. Why did you accept it?"
"Borias'?" Xena laughed.
She sat up, wincing, and tried to rise. I pushed her back down.
"Answer," I said.
"You weren't the only one with a plan. I had one too."
"You thought it would be acceptable to have a romance with him and also be my warrior princess?"
"A romance?" she spat. "I didn't offer him my heart , in case you forgot that part."
"So you used sex as a weapon last night, to trick Borias?"
I felt that dark energy building within me, urging me to release it.
Xena laughed angrily.
"Not last night. I stopped it before it got to that. And what's it to you, anyway?" She wiped blood away from her lips and looked down at the red on her hand.
My heart raced and I felt close to tears.
"I made you an offer," I said, angrily. "Chin could have had peace. But now that is not possible because of you. You've ruined it with your desire for power and your anger and your hatred-"
" I have?" Xena demanded, struggling to rise. "I didn't know you wanted me-"
Before she could finish, I was grabbing her by the front of her robe, my mouth crushing her own. I tasted the blood on her lips and still, despite her pain, she did not pull away. My arms around her neck, I used my body to prod her backwards and she gave in. Our bodies crashed to the floor, with me on top of her. For a brief second, I worried about hurting her, but she was frantically pulling at my robes, tearing them off of me.
This time, I let her. Helping her, I slid my arms out of the robe and threw it to the side. I opened hers and then pinned her wrists above her head, staring openly at her body. She was so beautiful. Healed, she had regained her color and her magnetism. Her breasts were rising and falling with her rapid breath.
I felt light-headed, out of control. Reigning myself in was unthinkable.
Feeling the wetness between my legs, I remembered my purpose. Using a knee to open her legs, I slid a thigh between hers and straddled her upper thigh. I let go of her wrists and she immediately wrapped her arms around me, pulling me to her. We rocked together, both of us sweating. I felt my pleasure building, as I slid across her wet thigh.
I needed more than this. I needed more of her.
Sliding down her body, I licked both of her nipples and bit one of them as I slid lower. She moaned as I planted my head between her legs. Her back arched, inviting me to explore her body further. My hand stopped just out of reach of her wetness. Using two fingers, I opened her and entered her. As I did this, I moved my tongue slowly across her delicious swollen center. It had been many years since I had done this, but the intensity of my desire brought everything back to me. The tastes, the smells. The slippery, constricting feeling. By her moans, I could tell the pleasure was building in her.
Impatiently, Xena pulled me up to her, kissing me. She easily flipped me onto my back and began kissing me. This time, at her pacing, the kisses were slower, softer. Each time my tongue asked for more, she pulled her head away, teasing. With our thighs intertwined, we were rocking, slowly. I felt her hand move down my body, stopping at my hip.
When she pulled her head away, I found myself looking into two kind, blue eyes silently asking permission.
In that moment, despite what had happened today, I knew she was going to be okay.
I wrapped my arms around her neck and pulled her back to my lips. As our lips made contact again, she expertly slid two fingers inside me and began slowly sliding them in and out while her palm pressed against my center. As she did this, she slid across my thigh.
I let go then. I let go of everything I was trying to be and everything I was trying to control. Whatever was going to happen, was going to happen. Moments later it did, both of us crying out.
Xena collapsed onto me, and I pulled her to me. On the floor of my chambers, we breathed together, silently.
I caressed her hair, softly running my fingers through the dark strands. Our bodies were sweaty, scratched, and bloody.
Finally, I spoke.
"I love you Xena."
I smiled, hearing her heartbeat increase. She didn't respond. That was okay.
"But you have to leave here," I said.
I thought again of the green-eyed woman.
"You are capable of incredible love. But that has to be with someone else. In your own time, when you're ready."
I thought of my headaches.
"I have the gift of prophecy, Xena. And I see great things in your future."
Things that don't involve Borias. Things that don't involve me.
"But it's up to you to find that future," I said.
Xena breathed slowly.
"What about you?"
"I have to pick up the pieces of Chin," I said. "And I cannot do that with you here."
"Lao Ma...." Xena began to protest.
"Xena, no," I said, kissing her again lightly. "Ming Tien will never forget what you have done today to his father."
After a pause, she nodded.
"I will never forget you," she said. "What you have done for me."
"And I will never forget," I said. "What you tried to give me."
Love. She had offered me love and it had been me who was not ready to receive it.
The way that is the true way cannot be expressed. Before I met Xena, I wrote often of desire and the way that it causes suffering. It wasn't until I met her that I fully understood my own teachings. I had to experience desire in order to truly understand its power.
It has been many years since I last saw Xena in person. My scouts and messengers periodically brought news of her whereabouts and adventures, knowing, without perhaps understanding why, I was drawn to news of her. At first, the news was expected. She and Borias, not surprisingly, had fled Chin. She did that for me, of that I am sure. Later, I heard that they were getting into trouble with the Amazons and Centaurs, a misadventure that got Borias killed.
Eventually though, the news changed. She had begun helping people, instead of terrorizing them. She had met a man, called Hercules, who also saw the goodness in her heart. I had wondered if I had been wrong about the green-eyed woman. Perhaps Xena was destined to live with this Hercules, doing good.
Later though, the reports said she had begun traveling with a female companion. A young blonde woman, spiritual and good. Enough distance had passed between my time with Xena to make me happy for them. I knew that they loved each other very much. I remember feeling the power of it.
I took solace in knowing that I had not, after all, been wrong about her.
In the months after Xena left, my headaches grew worse. When I finally sought the healing services of Mei, she said that the tumor was untreatable. I spent the next few years ruling the land of Lao , hiding my illness from the citizenry and most of my staff.
The House of Ming slowly regrouped from Ming Tzu's murder, with Ming advisors running the affairs of state while pretending that the boy, Ming Tien, was in charge. Eventually, he asserted his rightful place as actual head of state. Whether due to his own insecurity or Xena's violent example from his youth, he quickly became known for being ruthless, aggressive, and violent.
Having encroached upon Lao land many months ago, he had recently ordered my execution. I was the last obstacle to his total domination of Chin.
When I first heard of his order, I thought immediately of Xena. My mind can no longer adequately distinguish the past from the present from the future. My heart is all that I have left to trust, and in it I know that Xena will play a role in this.
I heard a quiet knock at the door of my chambers.
"Enter," I said.
Jiang, loyal Jiang, entered with a slight bow. What we had developed over the years had never been passion, but it was love, and that was enough. Sometimes, family was created without sex or blood.
Stepping away from the bed in the dimly-lit room, I walked to where he stood, by the door.
"Have you gathered more information?" I asked.
"I have," Jiang said. I remained quiet, waiting for him to proceed.
"Your execution is to take place tomorrow."
"There is time still, for us to flee."
"Fleeing will not stop him. He is a violent, ruthless warlord. He takes a cruel enjoyment in the torture and terrorizing of humans," I said.
"What do you propose then?"
"Jiang, I do not have much time left here, anyway..."
He looked away, nodding.
"I have one last request of you. You are free to refuse it."
"I ask that you deliver a message," I said. "To Xena."
"Xena....?" He sounded surprised.
I placed an arm on his shoulder.
"You were right about her. Back then, " I said. "But now..."
"Now," Jiang said. "They say she is a hero."
"Perhaps," I said.
"If she is," he said. "It is because of you."
"Of course I will do it. What is the message?" he asked. Tears were in his eyes, threatening to spill down his cheeks.
"Thank you. Tell her, 'The Green Dragon has become too large, and must be made small.'"
"Will she come...?"
"She believes she has a debt to repay."
"Then I will go to her," he said.
I walked to Jiang and embraced him. His arms, stiff at first, softened and embraced me.
"Thank you, Jiang. For everything."
"That sounds like goodbye..."
"Travel safely, friend."
Wearing white robes, Ming's guards led me to the execution room of the Lao estate. It had not gotten use during my reign, as I did not believe in execution. That irony did not escape me as I let the guards strap me to the cross.
The executioner approached. He was wearing black garb and, although his face was hidden by a mask, I knew it was Ming Tien.
"I have a final request," I said, as he selected his weapon of choice.
The guards stepped forward, putting hands on sword handles, readying themselves for a fight.
Ming Tien held up a hand, to stop them.
"I will consider it," he said.
"My hairpin," I said, gesturing with my head. "I want Xena to have it."
Ming Tien laughed, and his guards followed suit.
" That bitch?" he said. "She forgot about you a long time ago. This last gift will mean nothing to her." He laughed.
"Please" I said, ignoring his callous tone. "I want you to give it to her."
"You always did rule like a woman , Lao Ma," Ming Tien spat. "If this is how you wish to be remembered, so be it." He then removed the hair pin from my hair and placed it in a pocket of his robe.
I then began to breathe deeply and time began to slow. My head throbbed and the present faded, again, with the past.
As Ming Tien walked to the tray of weapons to choose his murder weapon, I saw that day with Xena, when I had tried to teach how to harness her energy. She would need that lesson in the days to come.
I had placed the vase on the small table and had taken a step back, waiting to see what Xena would do.
Xena, standing across from me, watched me, with a grin on her face. Not even two seconds passed before her grin turned into a scowl. She clumsily raised a booted leg and then let it crash into the vase, smashing it. She then placed her hands on her hips, proudly grinning at her accomplishment.
I looked into her bold, challenging eyes for a moment before speaking.
"Would you kill a mosquito with an ax?"
I stepped toward her then. As I raised my hands to remove one of the pins from her hair, she flinched slightly.
"This is very beautiful," I said, holding the hairpin. I then walked to the other side of the table.
Xena was fixated on my every movement.
As I examined the pin in my hand, I put my energy into it, condensed. Then, gracefully spinning, I used the force of my rotation to direct the pin into the table that had previously been holding the vase. The pin lodged into the table, like a dart.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Xena's eyes widen. She walked to the table and pulled the hairpin loose.
"That's good." she said, with admiration in her voice.
"That could be a very useful weapon, if thrown at the right body part," I said.
"You could kill someone using a hair broach," Xena said, nodding.
I walked to her and took the pin from her hand.
"If necessary," I said, sliding the pin back into her hair. "I don't like to kill, however."
"Everyone has their preferences," she said, as I walked away from her. "I happen to like a good kill."
I was counting on that, as I saw the gleam of Ming Tien's blade above head.
Strapped on the execution table, I looked into his eyes.
In this moment, I was at peace. I knew how this ended.
xxxx The End xxxx
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