Disclaimer: I do not own any rights to the characters of Xena, Gabrielle, Eve, Perdiccus or Solon. These are the property of Universal Studios. This is a work of fan fiction not intended to infringe upon their rights or the rights of the actors who portray them. No part of the Stand By You series is to be copied or used for public use without the permission of the author Caina Q. Fuller
Stand By You - Part 1
By: Caina Q. Fuller
The mid-afternoon sun had risen high in the cloudless blue sky, and with it had come a heat so intense and oppressive the animals had retreated deeper into the forest to find cooler shelter. The angry sun visited its wrath upon the face of the Earth, burning away all moisture and leaving her soil dry as parchment. Gabrielle attempted to hide from the heat under the protective shade of the trees beside the road but with no luck. She was miserably hot and it didn't help that Xena was almost two hours late for their rendezvous. What was keeping her friend so long?
Gabrielle's horse, her only other source of company, whinnied in misery. Poor thing. No doubt he could hear the bubbling waters of the brook a little further into the forest better than Gabrielle could. The Bard was torn between waiting here for Xena, who could show at any moment, or taking her steed and venturing further into the forest and relaxing with a swim in the brook. Gabrielle could just feel the water rushing over her bare skin, cool and comforting. Besides, her throat burned with thirst and her water bag had long since gone empty. Perhaps it wouldn't hurt after all...
Gabrielle mounted her horse and started into the trees. No sooner had she left the road did she hear the hoof beats of an approaching rider. Of course, Gabrielle thought silently. Now Xena would show, after a grueling two-hour wait in this infernal heat. She sighed and went back out onto the road to wait for her friend.
To Gabrielle's surprise the rider that crested the hill further up the road was not Xena at all, but a warrior. Even from this distance Gabrielle could see he was powerful in build and wore heavy armor. He was riding right for her and it took all of Gabrielle's will power not to turn tail and head in the other direction. Now would be a good time for Xena to make her appearance, Gabrielle thought to herself.
The rider came to a stop before her and they shared a moment of silence as they sized one another up. They had a lot in common, these two. Both were beautiful and blond. Both had bodies rippling with muscle and a warrior's heart beat beneath the breastplate of each. His ice-blue eyes held her green ones in a hypnotic stare she felt powerless to break away from.
Ooh, the adrenaline rush of fear at the sound of her name on this handsome stranger's lips! She knew she'd never met this man before. He was someone that would not be easily forgotten. Gabrielle swallowed the lump of anxiety in her throat and looked down the road for Xena, but the Warrior Princess was nowhere in sight.
"Do I know you?" Gabrielle asked, knowing she did not.
He chuckled in a heavy, masculine voice. "You should. I am Apollo. God of the Sun."
Xena tilted her own water bag as far back as she could and drained it of its last delicious drop, then sighed. It wasn't near enough to satisfy a raging thirst on a day like today. She'd stretched her supply as far as possible and she knew it would be at least another half an hour before she could get a refill at the brook she'd told Gabrielle to wait for her at. Xena's mind filled with jealous visions of Gabrielle lying in the brook, cool and relaxed as the water cascaded over her bare skin, while she tried not to push Argo too hard in the unbelievable heat of this day, which she'd gladly give her last Dinar to see end in the comforting cool of evening. She could be there with Gabrielle now had she not chose to oversleep that morning.
No sooner did she lean over to store her skin in her saddlebag did a deadly arrow whiz past overhead. Wasting no time to examine the threat with her eyes, Xena flipped from her saddle with a blood-curdling battle cry. She landed in the road with the agility of a cat, sword drawn and ready to fight off the enemy. Her almost animal-keen hearing detected the distinct sound of a bowstring being pulled taught to launch another arrow, but this time Xena was ready. She hurled her Chakram into the trees and was rewarded with the satisfying sound of the archer's cry of pain. The weapon returned faithfully to her as five men came from the tree's either side of her, sword's drawn and blood-lust in their eyes. The first man charged from Xena's left, and he met death quickly at the end of the Warrior Princess' sword...
Gabrielle faced Apollo with more bravado than she actually felt. This was one of the few remaining gods of Olympus and she doubted it was an accident he had come to her now, without Xena there to protect her. He wanted something, but what that was Gabrielle hadn't a clue.
"What do you want with me?"
"You get right to the point don't you? That's what I've always liked about you and Xena. You waste no time."
Gabrielle waited for him to elaborate, and pressed the issue when he only continued to sit before her, a wall of flesh who's piercing blue eyes looked her body over, making her feel uncomfortable in the worst of ways.
"What do I want? I want to avenge the murder of my family, and I'm going to use you to do it."
"Me?" Gabrielle didn't like the sound of where this was going.
"I'll get right to the point. My champion will avenge the Olympian order. A champion born of godly seed and mortal blood. Our child."
Gabrielle's heart began to pound so fast and so hard she feared it would burst in her chest. She was alone with Apollo himself. He had plans to do the unthinkable and the only one that could spare her from such a fate was nowhere to be found. Was it possible something had happened to Xena? Horrible images of her soul-mate lying wounded, or even worse-dead, flashed through her mind.
Gabrielle studied her divine opponent. Were he not a god, she had faith in her warrior skills that she could defend herself against him long enough to escape, or maybe even kill him in battle. Unfortunately for her, he was a god, and she was pitifully ill-equipped to handle this situation. A lesson her beloved friend had taught her years before came to mind...run.
"I'll die before I let you take me," Gabrielle vowed to him. Apollo only laughed, genuinely amused by Gabrielle's promise.
"Sweetheart, I wouldn't have it any other way."
Xena faced the last three men of the group that attacked. The first two lay dead in the road behind her, the scent of their blood sharp and sickening in the heat of this hellish afternoon. Her remaining opponents surrounded her from three sides. Left, right and front.
"Oh, this is too easy!"
Like lambs to the slaughter they came, charging her at once, and rather clumsily. Xena exercised one of her favorite moves, jumping into the air and kicking her long, muscular legs out to either side. The heel of each boot connected solidly with the bridges of each man's nose, driving bones into their brains and killing them. Before she touched the ground Xena used her right hand to re-sheathe her sword and used her left to balance her weight in a perfect handstand on the last mans head. She landed easily behind him, spun him around to face her and put that deadly, deadly pinch on him.
"Alright genius. I've cut off the flow of blood to your hopelessly small brain. You have less than thirty seconds so start talking. Why this pathetic attempt at an attack?"
The man used all of his remaining strength to speak, and he willingly told Xena everything she wanted to hear.
"We were...sent...by Apollo..."
"To distract you."
"And why would he want to do that? ...Gabrielle!"
Xena undid the pinch and with an amazing flip she landed in her saddle. She didn't know what Apollo had planned but she was going to get there before he could get his claws on Gabrielle. Or so she hoped.
Gabrielle easily deflected Apollo's hand as he reached out for her, and she kicked her horse into a full gallop down the dusty road in the direction Xena was supposed to have come hours before. If Xena couldn't get to her, Gabrielle would get to Xena. Her steed took off down the road, eager to stretch his muscles, despite the heat. She was glad for his enthusiasm, for she had to get away from Apollo. Before it was too late.
She dared a glance back, and to her dismay Apollo was gaining on her at impossible speeds. His horse seemed to be almost floating over the ground instead of running on it, and she urged her steed on. He bravely gave her all he had but it just wasn't enough. Apollo caught up and to her and Gabrielle cried out in true fear as one of his meaty hands grabbed a handful of her belt and yanked her from the saddle.
The two hit the ground so hard Gabrielle felt pain explode throughout every inch of her body. Large black holes stained her vision like spilled ink and she had to force her lungs to take in air. Never before had she felt such pain! Calling upon strength born of sheer determination, Gabrielle forced herself to her feet, and faced the god of the Sun. He offered her a wicked grin and a throaty chuckle.
"You touch me," Gabrielle warned, "Xena will kill you."
"Unlike my family, I am not fool enough to go into battle against Xena directly Gabrielle. That is where our child will come in. Now where were we?"
Apollo reached for Gabrielle but she stepped back and drew her Sais. When he made a second swipe at her, she drove her left sai through his wrist, stepped back and kicked him in the groin. Were he mortal this would have done enough damage to stop him, or at least slow him up, while she made her escape. Unfortunately for her, he wasn't mortal at all. He was a god, and no matter how many times she stabbed at him it had no effect. She was just wasting her time trying to kill him.
Apollo was enjoying the game but he didn't know how long he had before Xena returned and ruined his plans. Gabrielle could sense he'd had enough, and with one smooth motion from the god of the sun, Gabrielle's weapons flew from her hands, landing in the dust behind him and out of her reach. Desperate now, Gabrielle gave escape one last shot. She kicked him in the throat, sending him stumbling back, and made a beeline for her horse. Halfway into the saddle however, he pulled her back down, and wrapped his massive, powerful arms around her. She felt as small and helpless as a child in his arms.
"Gabrielle," he said softly, breathing breath onto her ear so hot it literally burned. Gabrielle scanned the road ahead of her, praying to Eli himself to send Xena in to rescue her. No matter how hard she tried, she just couldn't believe this was happening to her.
"This doesn't have to be an unpleasant experience. We can make this a moment to remember with pleasure. Give yourself to me." He cupped one of Gabrielle's breasts in a heavy, meaty hand. "Give yourself to me."
"Yes." Gabrielle breathed the word out, pretending she was becoming aroused by Apollo's touch. She would do anything to get him to loosen his grip enough for her to escape. Xena, she told herself as Apollo eased his grip enough for her to turn and face him, will be coming over that road any moment. She's going to save me. She always has before. She will now...
Instead of getting Gabrielle's soft, rosy lips pressed to his however, Apollo got a lip full of what Xena sometimes called Gabrielle's "hard" head as she drove the top of her skull into the bridge of his nose as hard as she could. He stumbled back with a cry of surprise and Gabrielle wrested herself from his grip.
"You bitch! Get back here!"
He chased her down and grabbed a handful of Gabrielle's hair, pulling her to the ground. He landed on his back, her on top of him. "Enough games Gabrielle. Give me what I came for!"
"No! Get off of me! Stop it!"
Apollo used his superior strength to roll the struggling Gabrielle onto her stomach, and he pressed one of his knees between her thighs, forcing them open. Gabrielle looked up to catch sight of her sai, lying just out of reach, though even if they were in her hand they would do her no good. Where was Xena?
"Apollo, please. Listen to me! It's not worth dying for."
"Not this. There's another way. You don't have to do this. I'll have your child just...not like this. Please."
Gabrielle hated herself for begging but she'd given him her best fight and it just hadn't been good enough. She'd rather die than be raped.
As Apollo ripped away her bottoms, exposing her inmost secrets, Gabrielle stared toward the horizon, desperately hoping to see Xena come riding over the hill to save her from the worst fate a woman could face. ; it was a fate worse than death. She held on stubbornly to that hope, even as the pain of Apollo's forced penetration came, carrying with it the death of her soul...
The first sight that greeted Xena's eyes when she crested the hill she should have crossed long ago was the sight of her best friend's horse standing in the middle of the deserted road looking lost confused. She rushed to him and dismounted, her eyes scanning the ground around her for any sign of...
One delicate hand protruded from the tall grass beside the road. Xena ran over and found Gabrielle, beaten almost beyond recognition. Being the skilled healer that she was, Xena quickly found Gabrielle was still alive, but barely. There didn't seem to be a place on her that wasn't bruised or cut. Part of Xena's soul died to see her beloved companion so broken.
"Gabrielle? Hey, can you hear me?"
Gabrielle's left eye, the one she could still see from, fluttered open. The pain and anguish in the Warrior Bards soul was almost more than Xena could bare. Obviously Apollo had been trying to kill Gabrielle, but fortunately he'd failed. Just as unfortunately for Xena, the Warrior Princess wasn't prepared to hear the truth that came in broken gasps from Gabrielle's once soft, rosy lips.
"No," Xena begged, her tears threatening to choke her. "Don't say it Gabrielle. Not that. Anything but that."
Gabrielle would not hold it silent. She couldn't, though she wanted to. The words that came from her battered lips threatened to tear Xena's heart to shreds. "Xena, he...raped me."
Tears spilled from Xena's eyes in a flood of unchecked emotion. She held Gabrielle tightly to her, and together, the inseparable friends wept the tears of the brokenhearted.
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