Xena: Warrior Princess

 

Destiny

Episode 36, Part 2

by

Bard

Editor

Bleu Gato

 

 

Xena: Warrior Princess is copyright MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. All original content of Xena: Warrior Princess 2.0 is copyrighted by the author and is not to be used or modified without permission. All rights reserved.

Contact: bard@xena2.com

Blog: www.xena2.com/blog

 


 

TEASER

FADE IN:

INT. SHIP CAPTAIN'S CABIN EVENING

Xena and Caesar are enjoying intimate dinner for two at a small table. M'Lila hovers nearby, filling goblets and swapping dishes. Xena appears more interested in Caesar than food, eating messily and suggestively with her fingers, eschewing silverware on purpose.

Caesar, knowing this, laughing at a particularly blatant display

CAESAR

The anticipation is the sweetest thing.

Xena, not amused, narrowing her eyes, demanding

XENA

Give.

To emphasize her point, Xena leans forward for a kiss. Caesar pulls back, withdrawing from her.

CAESAR

Patience.

Xena puts her hand under the table and flips it to the side, sending it crashing, along with their dinner. M'Lila takes the hint and leaves the cabin quickly.

Caesar, wickedly

CAESAR

I liked that table. More with you on top of it.

Xena practically explodes out of her chair and leaps into Caesar's lap.

Xena, her hands roaming Caesar's chest to encourage response, play pouting

XENA

I said: give.

Caesar puts both hands on Xena's chest and shoves her off, sending her sprawling. Xena growls playfully and goes to retrieve two sets of shackles from a chest. Smaller and lighter than usual, the cuffs are leather.

Xena, showing them off, one in each hand, smiling

XENA

Guess what?

Caesar, amused

CAESAR

Gladiator/centurion?

XENA

I'm on top.

CUT TO:

INT. SHIP CAPTAIN'S CABIN LATE EVENING

Xena is out, dozing lightly in bed. She comes awake to find a blade at her throat; she goes very still.

Caesar looms over her, his hand steady. His eyes bore into her, unreadable.

Caesar, not wasting time, simply

CAESAR

Give.

Xena, immediately, angry

XENA

No.

CAESAR

Give.

Xena, relenting a little, harshly

XENA

Talk fast.

Caesar, pressing the dagger into the skin, casually

CAESAR

You wanted to learn about Roman politics and the fine art of diplomacy and warfare. First lesson: know your hand.

Pause.

CAESAR

Give. Please.

Xena, finally getting it, mock defiant

XENA

Take it.

CAESAR

Pleasure negotiating with you.

Caesar moves the blade away and Xena brings it back to her throat. He turns the blade so it rests flat on her throat and kisses her; possessively, she draws him closer with her arms and deepens the kiss.

Xena, breaking for oxygen and sucking his lower lip as she does, voice full of promise

XENA

I am just getting started.

CUT TO:

INT. SHIP CAPTAIN'S CABIN NIGHT

Xena lies sprawled out on her back in tangled sheets, which barely cover her chest. Hands entwined under her head, elbows out, she lazily watches Caesar finish dressing.

Caesar, smoothly

CAESAR

Your company rivals Elysium: parting, even momentary, sows sorrow.

Xena, purring

XENA

Such charm and poetry; your skilled tongue deserves a reward.

CAESAR

You are reward itself.

Xena, laughing

XENA

Liar.

Pause.

Xena, grinning

XENA

I offer you this: the ransom note is yours to write.

Caesar, surprised and pleased

CAESAR

Devious; I will make a Roman out of you yet.

XENA

If you live that long.

Caesar, testing her reception, outwardly joking but watching the reaction closely

CAESAR

We might have to seal this partnership with marriage, knowing your impulsiveness.

Xena, stretching languidly, the sheets sliding down to reveal a bit more of her chest

XENA

It's my best attribute.

Caesar, taking it as a yes, stepping toward the bed involuntarily, captivated

CAESAR

Oh, I can think of others more enticing.

Xena, pouting

XENA

Few others?

CAESAR

Many others.

Xena, looking directly at him, quietly

XENA

Show me.

CAESAR

You ordering?

XENA

I'm asking.

Pause.

XENA

Please.

Caesar comes over and kneels by the bed. Xena turns onto the side, facing him and he kisses her. Unlike their earlier ones, this one is tender and sweet.

Caesar, admitting, softly

CAESAR

I don't mind sharing your body with M'Lila, but I demand loyalty in mind and heart. Same I give to you.

Xena's face goes stone and her eyes close. Caesar stands up slowly and starts to walk away, the defeated body language speaking volumes.

Xena, heavily

XENA

I I can't.

Pause.

Xena, eyes opening in alarm, pleading

XENA

Wait, it's not M'Lila! There is nothing there.

Caesar turns and there is hope in his eyes.

Xena, explaining with difficulty

XENA

It's me. I want to feel I just don't

Then Caesar is at her side and embraces her as she sits up to face him.

Xena, confessing into his ear, whispering

XENA

except maybe when I am with you. The emotions are there, just out of reach. And I think if I just try hard enough, I might grasp them - if you help me.

Caesar moves her body away from the hug and then cradles her face, bringing them close.

Caesar, affectionately

CAESAR

I love you, Xena.

Xena, lost for words

XENA

I

CAESAR

Shh.

Their lips meet and no more words are spoken.

FADE OUT:

END OF TEASER

 

 

 

ACT ONE

FADE IN:

INT. SHIP CAPTAIN'S CABIN NIGHT

Caesar opens the door and passes two sleeping figures in the hallways. Tellus and M'Lila sit with their backs to the wall, heads resting against each other, out of it. Caesar pauses only long enough to kick Tellus' boot and continues walking; the First Mate gets up and groggily follows him.

M'Lila, deprived of her pillow, awakens and enters the cabin, closing the door behind her quietly. Turning, she observes Xena watching her from the bed and takes in the bed posts decorated with shackles, the state of occupant and the linens, and the smell in the room. She heads to the portholes and throws them open in quick succession. M'Lila keeps her eyes averted from Xena, even as the Captain avidly follows her every move.

Fresh, salt-laden breeze filling the space, M'Lila moves to the mess on the floor.

Xena, commanding

XENA

Leave it. Come to bed.

M'Lila ignores her and gets the bedroll. Setting it in front of the door, she gets in and turns her back on Xena.

Xena, loudly and impatiently

XENA

Your Captain gave you an order, slave.

Xena leaves her bed, wrapped in a sheet and marches over to M'Lila. Grabbing her roughly, Xena twists the woman around. And then stumbles back, slapped with the gaze that burns her and makes her withdraw the hand hastily.

M'Lila, leashing out at Xena with eyes full of tears, spitting out

M'LILA

I hate you.

CUT TO:

INT. SHIP CAPTAIN'S CABIN NIGHT

Xena sits on the cold floor, shaking under the thin sheet. Her teeth chatter and yet she remains in place.

M'Lila, breaking the silence, concerned

M'LILA

Are you cold?

XENA

R-r-r-roasting.

M'Lila, shifting to her back and lifting the blankets, admonishing

M'LILA

Get in here.

Xena drops the sheet and is back in her familiar position in record time.

M'Lila, refusing to look at Xena, gaze fixed on the ceiling

M'LILA

Better?

Xena, puzzled

XENA

Strangely warm.

Pause.

Xena, doing her best to describe it, unsure what it is she is feeling exactly

XENA

Where our bodies touch but also inside.

M'Lila, wishing Xena to see the light on her own, hopeful

M'LILA

Yes?

Xena, frowning

XENA

Caesar told me he loved me. That must be what I am feeling.

M'Lila, worried

M'LILA

What did you say in return?

Xena, frustrated

XENA

Nothing. I don't know it's so confusing. Not feeling anything, then this.

Pause.

Xena, sighing

XENA

It was easier to be empty.

M'LILA

You going to go see him again?

Xena, after a moment of hesitation, quietly

XENA

I am leaving with him.

This catches M'Lila's attention and she turns her head and looks down on Xena's face.

Xena, vulnerable

XENA

I want you to go with me.

M'LILA

Xena, what is going to happen? To the crew?

XENA

If they stay here, they die. I plan to advise Tellus to find a different length of coast to raid.

M'Lila, laying her cards on the table, seriously

M'LILA

Do you need me?

Xena, evasively

XENA

I want you safe.

M'Lila, sharply

M'LILA

That is not what I asked.

XENA

It is not that simple.

M'Lila, issuing an ultimatum, strongly

M'LILA

Pick a bed, Captain.

XENA

I can't give you that.

M'Lila, losing patience, accusingly

M'LILA

Can't or won't?

XENA

What does it matter?

M'Lila, looking away, having found her answer, resigned

M'Lila

It hurts too much. Go, just go.

Xena, making things worse, combatively

XENA

What is wrong with what we have?

M'Lila, disgusted

M'LILA

You are with Caesar and then you crawl into my arms. You deny your feelings and see nothing wrong in wallowing us in your spent pleasure. You are sick.

Xena, focusing on the first part and ignoring the most important rest, raising her voice

XENA

You asked!

M'LILA

Then why did you agree?

XENA

M'Lila

M'Lila, done talking, moves away from Xena under the blankets.

M'LILA

Leave!

Xena, pleading

XENA

Please.

 

No. I am a slave and nothing more. I am not your friend, Captain.

Xena crawls out and taking her sheet with her, heads back to the bed. She stops at her weapons' stand and draws a sword. In fury, she attacks the bed, swearing and cursing, seeking a target for her rage. Linen, feathers, and woodchips fly.

In her bedroll, M'Lila turns her head towards the door and cries.

CUT TO:

EXT. SHIP MAIN DECK MORNING

Caesar, pointing at working SAILORS in turn, oratorically

CAESAR

You are heathen, unfit for the sword, worthy only of the cross. Julius Caesar will capture, imprison, and execute you, down to the cabin boy. No quarter, no mercy, only the cold certainty of drawn out death that is your sealed fate. For Caesar is Rome and

The SAILORS ignore what they assume is the raving madman going on another tirade about their eventual demise. Their looks are of pity and amusement.

CUT TO:

EXT. SHIP SHIP'S STERN MORNING

Xena steers the ship, with Tellus by her side. They watch and listen to Caesar ramble on.

Tellus, imploringly

TELLUS

Please, Captain?

Xena, gruffly

XENA

Not today, ask me tomorrow.

Tellus, curious

TELLUS

If it is not threats, it is speeches. Is he touched?

XENA

Perfectly sane and deadly serious; when we part ways, find a different part of sea for a long while. There are places where money buys security and makes you invisible to Roman eyes. Your cut of ransom provides that. Get out, Tellus.

Tellus, scoffing

TELLUS

He won't come after us. Water is freedom and this

Pause.

Tellus, gesturing with his arm in an arc, encompassing the open waves

TELLUS

this is home.

Xena, ominously

XENA

You don't know Caesar.

CUT TO:

EXT. SHIP MAIN DECK LATE MORNING

Xena approaches Caesar carrying two sheathed swords; he leans against the rail, intent on a scroll. Probably one of his writings and she sincerely hopes he does not decide to entertain her with it and saves it for the crew. She has other plans for him and they don't involve talking.

Caesar, raising his eyes at her approach and noticing the tension, neutrally

CAESAR

You are in a mood.

Xena steals a quick kiss as she stops in front of him.

Xena, troubled

XENA

Couldn't sleep after your left.

Caesar, smiling

CAESAR

I have been known to have that effect.

Seeing by her troubled expression that it was the wrong thing to say, he makes amends. Rolling the scroll closed, he slides it inside his tunic. Placing both hands on Xena's hips, he brings her close, for a longer, more involved kiss. She returns it in equal measure.

Caesar, firmly

CAESAR

I am not leaving early again. If you are in your bed, so am I.

XENA

Presumptuous of you.

CAESAR

It is what you want.

Xena, growing pensive

XENA

What I want

She steps back, out of his hold, and tosses him the sword

Caesar, catching it, disappointed

CAESAR

I had other ideas.

Xena, drawing the blade, smiling

XENA

I promise to kiss any wounds.

Caesar, theatrically

CAESAR

You will kill me more surely than a military campaign or political intrigue. I always said it is how you die, not how you live. Ah, but what a way to go.

Caesar unsheathes his blade and the SAILORS working the deck give the pair wide berth, even as few of them stop to watch the match.

Xena, blurting out, suddenly

XENA

M'Lila won't be a problem.

Caesar, caught off guard, baffled

CAESAR

Loyal slaves are valuable and M'Lila is that. You didn't do anything rash and kill her because of us? Xena, I already said it: I am okay with your indiscretions, long as they remain about fleeting pleasure.

Xena, angry

XENA

Don't make this harder.

And before he can formulate an answer or even a guess as to what she means and why she is mad at him, she is on him and the fight begins.

FADE OUT:

END OF ACT ONE

 

 

 

ACT TWO

FADE IN:

EXT. SHIP MAIN DECK MONTH LATER/EARLY MORNING

Xena's ship is within sight of the shore, bobbing on waves parallel to the coast. Hidden behind the substantial bulk of the ship, three large row boats float in close proximity, each with a SAILOR in it. To anyone approaching from the sea, they are invisible.

On the horizon, a growing spec makes for the pirate ship. It is a merchant vessel, equipped with oars and triple masts. It would make quite a prize for any pirate.

The SAILORS finish placing the pots with resin under the rail facing the open sea and camouflage them with rope and canvas. All the SAILORS are heavily armed; few wear leather armor, most have padded tunics.

Xena enters the deck from below and Tellus is immediately at her side.

Tellus, reporting

TELLUS

The sails are coated, the mast is rigged, the extra pitch is in place and the cook's assistant is ready with the embers. Think the Romans will try anything, Captain?

Xena, decisively

XENA

The ship is expendable, the crew is not.

Tellus, suspiciously

TELLUS

One would think that you are crippling this vessel for a reason.

Xena, baiting him, amused

XENA

You thought it was yours?

Tellus, sighing heavily, exaggerating for effect, then shaking his head and lamenting

TELLUS

I knew it was too good to be true, Captain. The day they pry an extra drachma out of your hand, it won't be attached to the rest of you.

XENA

Tellus, you got men and resources, you are fine. The moment you put the material things first, things go to Tartarus.

TELLUS

Aye Captain, words to live by. I still say you broke the ship on purpose.

XENA

Mine.

TELLUS

That we are. You bringing Caesar?

XENA

Plan for the worst and prepare accordingly, Tellus.

Tellus, admiringly

TELLUS

Small wonder eight assassination attempts were not enough. And I say that with full respect, Captain.

Xena nods and turning around, heads below decks.

CUT TO:

INT. SHIP CAPTAIN'S CABIN MORNING

Caesar lounges on the bed, eating grapes and drinking wine. M'Lila stands close, ready to refill or bring more from the table.

Xena enters and goes straight to the bed. Without a word, she climbs on and straddles Caesar's stomach. He welcomes the attention and takes advantage immediately.

Caesar, popping a grape into Xena willing mouth, happy

CAESAR

I like your thinking.

Xena, to M'Lila, who starts to depart, ordering

XENA

Stay!

Xena takes the goblet and dish with fruit and hands them to M'Lila, who immediately goes and sets them on the table, before returning. Meanwhile, Xena secures Caesar's arms to the posts with shackles. Then, she gets off the bed, leaving him wanting.

Xena, handing a dagger to M'Lila, warningly

XENA

Watch him, don't get ideas.

Xena walks away, intent on leaving the cabin and Caesar wrestles with a decision, looking like he wants to say something but is holding it in. He finally speaks just before Xena reaches the door.

Caesar, nervously

CAESAR

Xena, come back immediately after receiving the gold. Don't linger on the deck. Better yet, stay here.

Xena stops, tension body in her apparent.

Xena, quietly

XENA

I didn't read your scroll. I trusted you.

CAESAR

The legionaries are in the cargo hold. When your crew is distracted, they will spring out and capture them.

Getting no answer, he continues.

CAESAR

I did it for you.

Pause.

Caesar, justifying, throwing words into uneasy silence

CAESAR

They have to pay, you don't. You and the slave are safe, you have my word. And more.

Still no reaction; Xena stands still and M'Lila shifts looks from one to the other.

Caesar, to the stiff back facing him, convincingly

CAESAR

I understand; they are your men. You have the right instinct, but they have to die. I want to spare you that. Let this life go, you don't owe them loyalty and they proved it repeatedly. Xena, we have a destiny.

Xena faces him at last and looks Caesar in the eye.

Xena, matter of fact, showing no emotion

XENA

Why?

Caesar, thrown by the cold shoulder shown him, trying to reach Xena, gently

CAESAR

I don't want to hurt you, I want to protect you. I will do anything to spare you pain. Let me do this for you, Xena: keep the blood off your hands and your conscience clear. Hand me the responsibility for their deaths. Please?

Pause.

Caesar, wanting Xena to see reason, appeals to her heart

CAESAR

Xena, I love you.

Xena, not feeling anything except emptiness, coldly

XENA

You betrayed me.

And then she is at the door and gone. Caesar hangs his head and M'Lila exhibits pity in her expression. Not for him; for Xena.

M'Lila heads to the table and sticks the blade into the wooden surface. She reaches into her tunic and takes out a cloth wrapped bundle. Unrolling it, she produces a homemade cudgel. She checks the balance and satisfied, smiles; she handles it with obvious expertise.

Caesar, attracted by the sound of metal driving into wood, watches her the entire time.

Caesar, impressed

CAESAR

Who hired you?

M'Lila, dispassionately

M'LILA

Business is business. Relax, you are not the target.

CAESAR

You for hire?

M'LILA

Depends.

CAESAR

Protect Xena.

M'Lila, jeering

M'LILA

You lovesick fool, she is dead inside.

Caesar, in denial, protesting

CAESAR

Not true, she loves me!

M'LILA

She feels nothing except the pleasure you give her. The only time her emotions come alive is when she lies in my arms.

CAESAR

Lies!

M'Lila, scornfully

M'LILA

You think you wield your stick with skill and she comes begging for more? She is using you, the way she used me, Tellus, and everyone on this forsaken ship. Did you know Xena murdered over half her followers since she started two years ago? Why do you think they keep trying to end her?

Caesar, crushed

CAESAR

No

M'LILA

I had a chance to reach her and you just would not stay dead. Now you want to take this monster and unleash it on Rome?

Caesar, defensively

CAESAR

No one said a word.

M'LILA

The crew knows she is leaving with you and cannot wait to part ways. Xena becomes your problem.

Caesar, unable to accept the truth, fervently

CAESAR

I can control her; I know she loves me.

M'Lila, mocking

M'LILA

You are going to tell a fire to dance for you? Do tricks? Wag its tail and fetch?

CAESAR

What do you want? What are you going to do?

M'Lila, practically

M'LILA

Save the world from you both. You, who would crush it under your foot and she, who would burn it, partnered. I shudder to think what the combination would do to it.

Caesar, scoffing

CAESAR

Please, an assassin with a heart. Try spurned lover with an agenda; you could not take her to heights I could and you know it. She tasted both and found my wine sweeter.

M'LILA

I am going to enjoy this.

M'Lila sends him into darkness with a well-placed strike.

CUT TO:

EXT. SHIP MAIN DECK MORNING

The sturdy, reinforced chests are lined up on the deck. Tellus finishes the inspection and closes the last one. He stands and comes face to face with Xena, who arrived moments before.

TELLUS

All there, Captain.

Xena, whispering instructions

XENA

Abandon ship.

Xena turns and walks to the CAPTAIN of the other ship, who is waiting near the plank connecting the ships. Bunched behind him are a few LEGIONAIRES.

CAPTAIN, politely

CAPTAIN

Everything to satisfaction?

Xena, making small talk, putting him at ease

XENA

What's with the Romans?

CAPTAIN, avoiding eye contact

CAPTAIN

Security for ransom.

Xena, casually

XENA

Only ones?

CAPTAIN, showing small signs of stress, lying

CAPTAIN

They are here to escort Caesar once the exchange is made. There are no other soldiers, just my sailors and as you can see, I ordered the deck clear skeleton crew only.

One of the LEGIONAIRES is caught not looking in Xena's direction; he gives away the game and confirms the trap. His unwitting eyes travel to one of the deck hatches, slightly lifted open. Someone inside is watching and likely waiting for a signal. Xena's sharp eyes catch similar positioning with the other hatches and access points to the deck of the merchant vessel: ajar a touch and ready to spring forth a nasty, armed surprise. Xena smiles cruelly she has one of her own.

XENA

Alalalalalalala.

The yell freezes the CAPTAIN and the LEGIONAIRES. Xena draws her sword and runs the CAPTAIN thru, the blade coming out on the other side. Without pausing, she drives him back, onto the plank and the sword sinks into the first LEGIONAIRE. It goes right through him as well. It repeats with the second LEGIONARE and Xena pushes the three speared and connected men back onto the merchant vessel. They crash into the rest of the LEGIONARIES and they all go down in a tangle of limbs and bodies.

Xena runs back over the walkway and behind the main mast of her ship. Her SAILORS are already at the rail, uncovering the pitch and tossing the clay pots over the small gap separating the ships. They shatter and ooze their contents. Tellus moves near a cluster of ropes going to sails above and waits, sword in hand.

Xena sets her feet and puts both hands on the main mast. Her muscles strain under the taut, tanned skin and stand in sharp relief as she puts everything she has into toppling the precut mast. There is a groan of protesting wood that grows louder and the massive, former tree trunk begins to tilt. Slowly at first, resisting the force applied to it and then speeding up as a critical point is reached.

Tellus severs the ropes, unfurling the sails mere second before the main mast reaches the point of no return. Continuing its inexorable motion, it falls onto the deck of the merchant ship, destroying and crashing everything in its path, relentless and unforgiving. Canvas rips and spreads its remains; debris rains.

The HIDDEN LEGIONARIES flood out from below the deck of the merchant ship, but the fight is already over. It was lost before it even began. The SURVIVING LEGIONAIRES on the deck scramble to their feet and charge forward. They are stopped by the pots breaking on the plank, soaking them and the surface below. The SURVIVING LEGIONARIES retreat quickly, not wanting to be burned alive.

Xena's SAILORS light the torches from the pot carried by the COOK'S ASSISTANT and toss them at the other ship. There is a loud WOOSH and the soaked wood goes up in flames and flares into an inferno instantly. The SAILORS then begin orderly evacuation, lowering the chests onto the waiting boats and moving men and supplies as well.

In contrast, the situation is worse, downright grim, on the merchant ship. Flames are everywhere and many LEGIONAIRES panic, jumping into the water in pounds of armor. They sink instantly, the sea eagerly claiming the bodies for keeping. They are soon joined on the deck by MERCHANT SHIP SAILORS, who assess quickly and correctly that the vessel is lost and start throwing wooden debris into the water, before stripping down and jumping in. The LEGIONAIRES who kept their cool imitate them and the merchant ship is abandoned to the raging fire.

Xena and Tellus meet near the entrance to below decks.

XENA

Get everyone off, confirm personally, and set fire in the hold before you leave.

Tellus, admiring

TELLUS

Aye Captain, I will be the last. How did you know it was a trap?

Xena, tersely

XENA

That's why I'm the Captain.

Tellus, amiably

TELLUS

Point taken. We owe you our lives, again.

Xena, no time for niceties, curtly

XENA

Make it happen, First Mate.

Tellus nods and goes inside, followed by Xena.

CUT TO:

INT. SHIP CAPTAIN'S CABIN MORNING

Xena rushes into the cabin, sword unsheathed. In the split second it takes her to notice Caesar's condition and M'Lila closing in, it is too late, even with her reflexes and reaction time. Wooden cudgel connects painfully with her wrist and robs her of her blade. It then cracks her in the back of the skull as M'Lila slides past her and Xena wobbles.

Xena tries unarmed combat, throwing punches and kicks at the slave. M'Lila is too fast and simply too good. She is years beyond Xena in ability, proving it with repeated blows to her legs and arms, the wooden instrument robbing Xena of feeling and leaving numbness behind it.

Xena gives up on the unwinnable fight and tries talking instead. Anything to buy time and find some advantage to exploit; M'Lila is no slave and a dangerous opponent, that much is clear.

Xena, putting up her hands palms out, shouting

XENA

Enough! What do you want?

M'Lila does not give her an opening.

M'Lila, speaking with a toxic mix of jealousy, resentment, and anger

M'LILA

Your death.

The blow the temple sends Xena tumbling to the floor and she joins Caesar in unconsciousness.

M'Lila expression softens as she kneels down; picking the limp body carefully, she cradles Xena in her arms. She gazes into the face that is peaceful in forced rest and brushes the hair away, revealing the full beauty to her appreciative eyes.

M'Lila, leaning in and kissing Xena on the lips, tenderly

M'LILA

I was yours and you were mine. You should have taken my offer. Goodbye, sweet Xena.

FADE OUT:

END OF ACT TWO

 

 

 

ACT THREE

FADE IN:

INT. SHIP CAPTAIN'S CABIN MORNING

Xena slowly comes to, her head full of pain and her lungs filling with smoke. She turns and throws up to the side, then wipes her mouth and stands up on shaky legs. Caesar is starting to stir but has not rejoined the living yet. She finds it difficult to think straight.

Xena goes and tries the door, only to find it locked and likely blocked from the other side. Staggering to the weapon's stand, she stops to pick a waterskin and downs the contents. She picks a second one and pours it on herself. Xena pays the increasingly awake Caesar no mind.

Hefting a large battle axe, she rushes the door and tears into it with everything she has. The wood crumbles under the assault as the thick smoke pours in through the fresh openings. This only spurs Xena to press harder and the door collapses in a ruin of pieces, opening the way to freedom. The smoke is very thick and Xena drops to all fours and begins crawling, taking the weapon with her.

Caesar, frantically

CAESAR

Xena! XENA!

Xena pays him no mind, disappearing from view and leaving him alone to the encroaching fire.

CUT TO:

EXT. SHIP MAIN DECK MORNING

Xena, axe in hand, runs out onto the main deck. It is empty. The merchant vessel is a solid pillar of fire and smoke and her ship looks to join it shortly. Ash and glowing embers fill the air and coat the deck. Xena rushes to the rail and spots her crew spread among the three boats, nearing the coast. The water below is full of detritus, bodies, LEGIONAIRES, and MERCHANT SHIP SAILORS, all desperately trying for the shore.

The full impact and the extent of the betrayal finally hit Xena.

Xena, half out her mind, screaming at the empty air

XENA

Betrayers! Traitors!

She attacks anything close to her, striking out blindly, giving outlet to her rage.

Xena, swinging the axe, bellowing

XENA

BETRAYERS! BETRAYERS ALL!!!

The only figure on the burning ship's deck is a disheveled, crazed woman covered in soot, waging war on the pain inside. Sometimes, it is better not to feel.

CUT TO:

EXT. SHIP MAIN DECK MORNING

The ship is quickly reaching a point of no return. The deck is a hellish landscape of flames and debris. Coughing, Caesar emerges from the bowels of the ship. His wrists and hands are covered in blood, enabling his escape from the shackles but draining his strength. He finds some cloth and bandages his wounds, stopping the blood flow.

He heads for the rail and stops to stare at the battle axe embedded deeply into the wood. The destruction around him had to come from this weapon and he shudders, imagining the inner demons that tortured his lover. There is no sign of Xena.

Looking below, he spots some floating wood and leaps into the sea near it. Reaching it, he makes for the shore.

CUT TO:

EXT. COAST BEACH FEW WEEKS LATER/AFTERNOON

Caesar walks down the row of crosses; Xena's SAILORS occupy each one. Tellus is at the end of the line, Xena and M'Lila are absent. He joins Brutus and LEGIONAIRES at the foot of the former First Mate's cross.

BRUTUS

The pirates were captured and made example of, per your orders.

Caesar, calling him out, forcefully

CAESAR

Brutus, where is Xena?

BRUTUS

We recovered the gold; you have your revenge and the funds for Gaul campaign.

The look he gets in return tells him that his answer is not even close enough and he better start talking fast.

Brutus, adding hastily, uncertain of the reaction to bad news

BRUTUS

Rumors are she went east, to Chin; no word of the slave.

Caesar appears to think it over, lost in memories and thoughts. No one says anything until he breaks the silence.

Caesar, looking up at Tellus who glares at him, seriously

CAESAR

Gaius Julius Caesar keeps our word.

Pause.

Caesar, to Brutus, commanding

CAESAR

Break their legs!

Caesar turns and walks off towards the waves. Brutus nods at the LEGIONAIRES and follows him, joining him shortly. The LEGIONAIRES break out the hammers and screams soon follow.

Brutus, putting an arm on his shoulder, supportively

BRUTUS

Caesar

CAESAR

Brutus, asking as a friend, concerned

BRUTUS

Let her go.

Caesar shrugs the contact off and steps away from Brutus.

Caesar, looking east, affection in his voice apparent, longingly

CAESAR

Xena, we will be together. I am your destiny.

CUT TO:

INT. GABRIELLE & ATHENA'S HOME XENA'S ROOM PRESENT/EVENING

Xena stops talking and the only sound in the room is the scratching of the moving quill. Then that too is still.

Xena, hurting inside, closing her eyes, despondent

XENA

I want be alone.

In answer there are very light steps and then the bed creaks as Gabrielle gets on it. She crawls under the sheets and settles down next to Xena on her back. When Xena opens her eyes, Gabrielle is in the same position as M'Lila. Taking advantage of the obvious invite, Xena places her head into the nook of Gabrielle's shoulder and molds her body to the bard's. The whole transition from her old position is done with obvious effort and deliberate motion, but the sigh of pure contentment that escapes Xena is testimony that the pain was well worth it.

Xena, melancholically

XENA

Gabrielle, why is love so hard?

GABRIELLE

Love is perfect, we are not.

XENA

Even you?

GABRIELLE

Especially me.

Xena, out of the blue, softly

XENA

When did you know?

Gabrielle, adjusting to the abrupt subject change smoothly, reminiscing

GABRIELLE

That I like women? Early on; one scroll in the school library mentioned Amazons in passing. Since that day my favorite dream was to meet one in the woods. I spent hours fantasizing about her and our time together.

Pause.

Gabrielle, lightly

GABRIELLE

Hey, I am a bard, I got imagination to spare.

XENA

I did not give women a second thought until I met you.

GABRIELLE

You are welcome, I think. Now, rest.

CUT TO:

INT. GABRIELLE & ATHENA'S HOME XENA'S ROOM NIGHT

The door opens with a tiny creak of protest and Gabrielle's eyes open and fill with desire at Athena's appearance and swaying, seductive approach. Athena, barefoot and dressed in her thin, revealing tunic, saunters over to the bed.

Athena, smiling

ATHENA

Why do I always find you in arms of another woman?

GABRIELLE

At least it is the same woman.

Athena kneels by the bed and runs her hand thru Gabrielle's hair. She nips Gabrielle's nose and then nuzzles her hair, seeking the ear.

Athena, whispering enticingly, voice full of promise

ATHENA

When you coming to bed, love?

Gabrielle, innocently

GABRIELLE

Are you going to corrupt this naïve peasant girl?

ATHENA

Definitely.

Gabrielle turns her head and they kiss.

GABRIELLE

Take advantage of my kind and giving nature?

Athena, sealing the promise with another kiss

ATHENA

Repeatedly.

GABRIELLE

Will it be everything I dreamed of?

Athena pulls Gabrielle's tunic away from her free shoulder and kisses the warm skin.

ATHENA

More.

Gabrielle wiggles out from under Xena and the sheets, Athena moving out of the way as if by silent signal. Gabrielle sits on the edge of the bed and Athena easily picks her up and cradles the bard to her chest. Gabrielle's hands go around Athena's neck and her lips find her wife's.

Gabrielle, invitingly

GABRIELLE

Have your wanton way with me, Goddess.

Athena quickly steps to the hallway, carrying her precious cargo. The door is pushed closed, though not all the way and the sounds of their progress drift back.

There is a small crash as Gabrielle and Athena walk into the closed door, followed by giggles.

Gabrielle, naughtily, slightly muffled

GABRIELLE

Look what I got a handful of.

ATHENA

Bad wife! The handle Gabrielle, the door handle. Ahhh! Good wife!

What follows is more giggles, sounds of struggle with the door mixed in with other, more passionate ones, and then success as the lovers enter the bedroom and are lost to the world.

Asleep and alone, Xena reaches out and grabs the pillow Gabrielle was resting on. Satisfied, with her prize clutched closely to her chest, she drifts deeper into her dreams, no longer feeling alone.

FADE OUT:

THE END

 

Return to the Academy

Author's Page