Never A Fighting Chance
XWP Classic fiction (alt)
By Cheeyah
Summary: This story depicts the doomed relationship between Gabrielle and Perdicas even before our sheroes ever met.

Disclaimer: The characters of Xena: Warrior Princess sad to say do not belong to me. They belong to Universal Pictures, MCA and Renaissance Pictures. No intention of copyright infringement is intended. I am grateful they allow me the privilege to extend the pleasure of this wonderful show by writing this fanfiction for fun.

Subtext: Very light since Gabrielle and Xena have not met yet. But it is implied since it is all about the love.

Sex disclaimer: No graphic sex but a little disrespectful raunchy language when the guys get together. Gabrielle is still in the closet so to speak, so no love or intense caring between two consenting adults who happen to be women will be offending anyone. I hope.

Violence: Nah

Author's note: Someone asked me why would Gabrielle marry Perdicas in the first place so I wrote this story hoping to explain it to myself. ............................................... Never A Fighting Chance By Cheeyah

Perdicas always said Gabrielle was not like any of the other girls in the village.

And he should know.

Not only had their families been friends for years but they had lived side by side next to each other's huts.

As children growing up in each other's backyards and seeing one another every day of their lives, it was assumed by everyone in Poteidaia the young couple would eventually marry. Perdicas had prayed to the gods they were right.

Constantly encouraged by his mother and her father, he also came to believe she would one day belong to him. But it often seemed strange to him how Gabrielle never discussed marriage plans nor ever spoke of life as his wife or even mentioned the number of children they might have. It usually was her sister, Lila, who would ramble incessantly about the kind of flowers they would need to pick, the number of guests to include, what the names of their children might be....never Gabrielle.

Finally one day in desperation, Perdicas approached Lila and asked if Gabrielle had ever discussed her romantic feelings with her since she never seemed to bring the subject up with him.

Under most circumstances Lila would never have volunteered to share her sister's private conversation with him. But Perdicas had such a sad forlorn look on his face, Lila hoped this revelation might cheer him up a bit.

"Oh, yes. We talk about it all the time. As a matter of fact, just last night Gabrielle told me that she dreamed of traveling with someone who was tall, dark and mysterious. Someone fearless, yet kind and unafraid to take on the world. Now that sounds like you, Perdicas."

"Well, I don't know about the tall part...," he interjected.

"Listen." said Lila elbowing his strong well developed arm. "Next to my shrimpy sister...everybody is tall."

They both laughed and for a few seconds Perdicas felt relieved. But he was well aware whenever he tried to discuss their future, Gabrielle would change the subject and talk about the weather. The interesting thing was that Gabrielle really knew a lot about weather. In fact she had an uncanny ability to predict it.

Perdicas thought Gabrielle was amazing. He was quite intrigued by her. She would warn him to dress warm even as the midday sun beat down causing him to strip bare to the waist. Then sure enough by the evening's last light he found himself looking for an added cloak to cover his chilled bones.

It seemed as if she was always busy with some new project. Often she would kindly refuse his offer to stroll the forest path in the late evening saying she would love to but had some unfinished errands. What Perdicas did not know was that Gabrielle held onto secrets which she shared with no one.

One of them being she could read and interpret scrolls in many different languages. Starting from an early age, Gabrielle had traded her services as tutor/baby sitter/story teller with the local academy's headmaster in exchange for lessons in reading.

Since it was frowned upon for girls to receive any formal education, these lessons had to be given late at night in secret. Gabrielle would sneak off into the cold cellar where the fruits and vegetables were stored and by the flame of a single candle learned to read the finished works and discussions of Plato and Aristotle, as well as Sophocles and the classic Greek moralilty plays. She became most fascinated by the poetry of her favorite writer...Sappho. She often dreamed of one day asking Sappho to write a poem for her.

"You have mighty big dreams for such a little girl," her teacher would comment. "I hope for your sake they'll all come true."

"Oh, they will," she would say to him, her radiant eyes glistening.

Constantinius knew he was going against the code of his village by teaching her to read, but having raised three daughters by himself, he knew the value of having them learn how to interpret contracts and calculate dinars. He never wanted his girls cheated or taken advantage of due to a lack of understanding the common symbols for numbers and letters. However, while his daughters learned the basic skills of mathematics and language, Gabrielle wanted to know about history and poetry and philosophy. She wanted to know about everything it seemed. Often she insisted he show her how to make healing potions and perform scientific experiments.

She explained very logically when asked why she required to know about these things, "Well who knows? I might be a healer one day."

She was fascinated with geography and begged him to teach her how to read maps.

"Are you planning on going somewhere soon, Gabrielle?" the headmaster would tease.

"You never know when you might get lost or need to know where you are going. I know my father and Perdicas hate to ask for directions," she quickly replied in a matter of fact tone.

But her real skill came easily as a writer and bard.

"You have amazing talent as a scroll writer. Do you realize that, Gabrielle?" Constantinius would often say.

Gabrielle would then look up at him with a melancholy haze in her eyes and pine,

"Yes, only it's too bad I have nothing exciting to write about. There is not much you can say about living the life of a maiden in Poteidaia."

"Why don't you write about your sister or your friend, Perdicas?" encouraged the headmaster.

"Oh pull...eeze---their lives are even more boring than mine. I know I need to find something.... or someone... more..." her laments trailing off wistfully.

As the lesson ended she hid her writing tools under a woven basket. Then with a theatrical flourish she let out a cheery sigh of resignation. "Oh, well... who can say what the fates have planned for me."

And as if appearing before the Emperor himself, she bowed farewell to her bemused teacher who lovingly tapped her on the head with the tip of his scroll.

"Had she been a boy" he thought to himself, "she would be my star pupil. Worthy of a first rate scholarship to the Royal Academy of Bards."

"Thanks for my lesson today, sir. I will be over to the school later in the afternoon to give you a hand with your students."

It was a good excuse to get out of the house. Gabrielle hated staying at home, bound to the restrictions of one room and forced to learn the female arts of homemaking, sewing and such. Lila was a natural when it came to those things.

During the warmer months Gabrielle loved working in the fields close to nature. She helped with the feeding and care of the animals. While her father scorned her for spending so much time amusing the cows with her constant chatter of made up rhymes, he appreciated any help she could give to make his burdens lighter. One day soon when she married Perdicas, these burdens would be passed onto him. He counted the sunsets until that day.

In the winter months when the work in the fields no longer permitted her to be outdoors, Gabrielle managed to talk her way into working at the local inn. At first her father did not approve, but Gabrielle assured him she would only be working the kitchen and not the tavern part of the inn. She reasoned this way she could learn the secrets of fine cuisine and would be allowed to take home any of the leftovers. Her father still did not think it was a good idea until he sampled the roast pheasant and suckling pig she would bring home. Delicacies he could hardly afford. Dining out was not in the family budget. Soon he was encouraging her to work longer hours in hopes they would throw in a keg of ale.

A significant part of Gabrielle's plan for working at the inn was to allow her to practice telling her stories in public. Her repetoire dealt mostly with the gods and their escapades. She retooled them from the classics of Euripides and Aristophanes using everyday common language making them more easily understood by the local clientele. But their favorite ones were her retelling the simple short fables from an unknown author named Aesop. Pretty soon they were yelling out their favorites by name. "Hey, Gabrielle tell the one about the 'Grapes and the Fox'...or that one about the 'Scorpion and the Swan'...yeah, we love that one."

From early on Perdicas had been fascinated by Gabrielle's independence and challenged by her indifference. While all the other girls from the Village threw themselves at him, Gabrielle had a different approach. She talked to him. Wanted to always know what he was thinking. What he was feeling. At times it annoyed him--- all this prying into his emotions, but then one look in those soft and misty green eyes and he forgave her everything. She had that quality about her. While she could be irritating and stubborn at times , he could never stay mad at her for long. She had been his first playmate. His first friend. She became like a sister to him and then for as long as he could remember---his best friend. He was so in love with her. She made him want to be the best man he could be. He always felt the need to protect and defend her against those who wondered what he saw in her. And at times, even against her own parents, especially her father who was always putting her down with remarks like, "Why can't you be more like Lila. See how quiet and accepting she is. Why do you have to question everything that goes on around here?"

Later when they were alone, Perdicas would try and calm her down by saying, "Don't ever change, Gabrielle. I love you just the way you are."

But she never seemed to hear his words of endearment. Instead she would always look past him as if he were transparent staring out at the window or gazing up at the clouds. Her eyes always fixed on some distant star or far away hilltop. It was as if she were waiting for someone to appear out of the sky or ride up over the horizon and carry her away...far from Poteidaia.

Perdicas could not resist the special aura that surrounded Gabrielle. She seemed to be enveloped in light and glowed with a radiance not unlike the sun itself. She was kind and caring...and so smart. She could solve problems more quickly than anyone he knew and was positively brilliant about seeing the right way to remedy an injustice.

Perdicas remembered the time when Gabrielle came to the defense of a woman caught stealing milk from the family's cow. It was a Village decree that anyone caught stealing milk, eggs or food in general would be stoned to death. The town council questioned the woman's motives but she refused to answer their charges out of shame and fear of further humiliation.

Gabrielle did some snooping around and found out that this woman's daughter had just died while giving birth out of wedlock...and the older woman needed the milk for her grandchild. Thanks to Gabrielle's extraordinary powers of persuasion, the village council pardoned her and even built her a small hut on the edge of town. Neighbors came by with food and hand made items for both her and the baby.

Perdicas told Gabrielle she was a hero for having saved not one but two lives, but Gabrielle smiled weakly and told him, "No, Perdicas. I'm no hero. I'm just following my destiny. A hero is someone who can change their destiny."

For the sake of peace, Perdicas did not want to question her meaning and end up in another lengthy argument. They were having quite a few of those lately. He merely gave a silent nod. Perhaps it was her time of the monthly cycle. But lately whenever he tried to get romantic or suggest a place to meet or a path to take, Gabrielle would become difficult and pick the opposite of whatever one he decided. If he said, "How about going out for some lamb stew?" She would counter reply, "No. I plan to stay in and have leftovers with Lila."

Perdicas recalled the night he had finally proposed. It was Solstice eve. Beneath a trellised arch of mistletoe and evergreen, he had given her a ring as a symbol of their betrothal. While she had said yes, after taking quite a few sips of mead, she hardly ever wore the ring claiming she was afraid of losing it while she cooked at the inn or that it might get damaged while she worked in the fields. And since Perdicas never caught Gabrielle looking at other men or flirting with anyone else, he felt assured of her fidelity despite these minor setbacks. He knew so little about women and figured that is how they behaved.

When she wanted to be, Gabrielle could be so funny and adorable. Perdicas loved to watch her many facial expressions, especially when she danced. It was then she appeared most free and happy. Like a seagull gliding above the warm ocean currents. He himself did not like to dance and no matter what she said or how she pleaded, he could not be moved.

Perdicas rarely got angry with her even though she tested his patience. He endured her stubborn refusal to allow him certain privileges he felt he was entitled to as her soon to be husband. But she would have none of it. She was rather prudish when it came to touching him and allowing him to touch her. He had learned from his other betrothed friends how they enjoyed feasting on certain parts of their lover's anatomy.

"How luscious are her breasts and nipples. Have you got to lick the inside of her thighs, yet, Perdy?" they would taunt him." And how about a nice bite out of those sweet rounded cheeks of hers, eh? Ha...ha!"

Sometimes he would lie and say he had finally gotten his way with her. But most of the time he would get all red from his neck up and they would all laugh and wink at each other. Perdicas let them think it was due to his shyness that he was reluctant to divulge his intimate activites rather than admit he had been refused by Gabrielle. Little did they know he never saw an inch of her breasts or any intimate part of her body for that matter.

In truth Gabrielle would only allow him to hug her or show affection when in the presence of Lila or her parents.

Many nights he would take his meals at the inn just so he could see her. She would only come out of the kitchen for a few moments to say hello. It was enough for him.

But tonight as he and a few friends were sipping down some ales and relaxing, their fun came to a halt when one of the men from the village blasted open the swinging doors. He gasped, "Men, I come to warn ya...Draco and his army are headed this way swearing to take over our Village and sell our women as slaves." With that warning the inn emptied out quickly. Most of the men headed to the stables to get pitch forks and shovels to use as weapons. A few men armored themselves and saddled up for the attack.

Perdicas ran in the opposite direction toward the kitchen to warn Gabrielle of the impending onslaught. He found her standing calmly near the back door of the inn watching as the local villagers began to rally and mount their horses.She wished she could be doing the same instead of standing by helplessly watching.

Perdicas called out to her.

"Gabrielle, you must leave and go home to your family. I came to warn..." But before he could get the words out she said, "I know. Please don't worry. I have the feeling we will survive this. I sense Draco will not be be destroying this Village. I don't know why or how but I know something or someone will save us."

Perdicas looked at her puzzled. He felt the anger in him start to build thinking she was simply being stubborn. But realizing the futility in arguing, he tried to plead and reason with her.

"Gabrielle, I know you have been right on the dinar when it comes to predicting the weather or the best time for planting crops but this is a lot more serious. Are you sure about this?"

"Yes. I am very sure. Now go, Perdicas. Do what you must do. I will be alright and so will you. I just know it. Go off and be the soldier you want to be. I will gather all the women in the Village and head into the forest just to be safe. I just know we're going to make it through all of this."

Her eyes revealed such courage and conviction, Perdicas knew that if he denied her beliefs this time she would never surrender her trust to him again.

"Very well, my love," he whispered, " but be careful." He tried to kiss her on the mouth but she turned slightly... his lips only grazing the side of her cheek.

Gabrielle reached into her apron pocket and removed the ring he had given her last Solstice eve. She handed it to Perdicas saying, "Here, take this with you and keep it for luck."

Perdicas reluctantly took it from her hand and placed it in the pocket closest to his heart.

"Promise me you will be here when I get back, Gabrielle?

Gabrielle did not answer him. At least not with words. For the first time in a very long time, she reached up and kissed him. Perdicas took that as a yes and turned to go. Midway down the path he turned around and gave a sad wave. Gabrielle waved back.

Even though he was well out of earshot she whispered softly, "Goodbye, Perdicas. May you find your destiny... .....Something tells me I am about to find mine."

The End
Thanks for reading my story. Kind responses---and the other kind---are always welcomed.

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