Note to Readers: This tale is written as a soliloquy. In order to understand this segment, it's important for you to be caught up to Sins of the Mother, chap 7.
Disclaimers: * Xena Warrior Princess, its characters, and all related materials are the property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. All other characters are mine.
Dedication: Ari's story is for all survivors, and the people who love them.
Rated: NC-17, not intended, or suitable for children. Violence: Physical child abuse issues are portrayed and its effects are completely explored. Sexual Violence: Child molestation is depicted and its effects are explored fully.
Subtext: X/G are portrayed as being in a loving, long-term relationship/marriage.
Extra Warning: As Alti raised the main character, I feel it's necessary to warn that this story deals with child abuse and molestation issues. It may trigger abuse issues for some. This tale should be unpleasant for all readers, but to know Ari, and the difficulties that her new family faces, it is important to know where she came from.
All feedback welcomed at: CrystalMichallet@aol.com
Crystal's website can be found at: http://www.charani.org/XenaFanFicMichallet.html
What are you looking at? I thought so… stupid. I suppose the next thing you'll want is my tree. This is my tree, I found it! It's much better than the other one, and don't ask why. You probably wouldn't understand even if I told you. No one understands. No one can see things the way that I do because everyone is brainless. Besides, if you knew, then you'd try to take it away from me. That's how everyone always is. They always want what other people have. Well, you can't have it. This is my tree, I found it and I'm not going to let anyone take it away from me.
Look, the arms of the tree hang out and make it easier to climb up. The other one, the one I was in when my mother was looking for me a while back, was harder to climb up. This one is easier, and if I want to, I can sit up here all day and no one will ever know I'm here. See, I can lean back on this other limb and prop my feet up on that one. See? It's more comfortable this way and when I lay like this, I look up past the tree limbs and see the blue canvas up there.
Shut up! I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that all I do is lay around. A good for nothing! That's all people ever think I am. That's what my mother thinks, but what does she know. Look at her, see, if you look down through the tree branches, you can see the house where I live. See, that's my mother there, the big ugly blob just sitting on that chair. She's the one who's useless, not me. What? So what if she's sharpening her sword, that's all she ever does. She's like a man playing with his thing… Disgusting!
What would you know? You don't know anything. You don't know Xena like I do. You think you do, but you don't. All you know are the stories about the Warrior Princess and all of her goody goody deeds, but I'm telling you, she's not at all like that. Look at her just sitting there, sharpening her sword like it's a… You know what I mean.
I used to have a sword, but the stinking pig took it away from me. She didn't think I knew what I was doing, but I did. She always thinks she's so smart, but she's not. She's just dense. Nothing but a big, disgusting stupid pig… no, not even a pig, just an ox. She thinks she can push everyone around.
What? What do you mean why don't I stand up to her? Ridiculous! Just goes to show how much you know. You don't know anything. You don't know what she did to me after I was born. You don't know how she threw me away like I was just a piece of… of… garbage. That's all I am to her… that's all I'll ever be…
What? Oh, it's nothing. I just… got something in my eye, that's all.
You don't know what its like to know that you mother hates you. She always has, since the day I was born. She didn't want me, she never did. I don't know why, I guess… I-I don't know. The lazy cow probably thought she saw too much of her in me. I guess I'd throw her away too, if things were reversed. But still, you don't know what it feels like. You don't know what it was like to have seen her cooing over Solan, my little brother, or to see how she is with Eve.
Look, there's the bitch now. See her? Yeah, the one in the short blue skirt and top, that's my little sister, Eve. What? Shut up! What do you know! Of course she's my little sister, what are you, stupid? It's not my fault that she looks older than me! I'm the older one, I'm the one who Xena should trust, but does she? No! And all because Eve is some puritanical, sanctimonious prophet, at least that's what she thinks. To me, Eve's an idiot. Who in their right mind would believe that some dead guy still talks to her? She's such a loser and anyone who believes her is just brainless.
Idiots. They're all idiots. They don't know anything. If they asked me, I could tell them what it's all about. But they don't want to know. They don't want to hear what I have to say… just like you! You don't want to know either! Don't look at me so surprised, I know what you're thinking. No, stupid! I don't have to read your thoughts to know what's on your mind. You with your prying questions and watching eyes! All you ever do is sit and watch and think that you know me, but you don't. You think I don't know what you're about, but I do. You want to watch, that's all you want to do. Watch and see and try to understand me, hee hee! But you can't, not in a million years would you ever know me because I won't let you! That's right, you heard me. Just shut up, don't ask 'cause I won't tell you anything!
What? Don't you think I deserve to be mad? How would you feel if your mother threw you out, and then some monster took you away? How would you feel to live day after day knowing that you couldn't do anything to make Alti stop hurting yo… Oh, you are clever! But I'm still smarter than you are! You thought you were going to get me to tell you things. You want me to paint a picture for you so you can satisfy your own perverse need to know. Disgusting!
Let's get something straight here. Whatever you know, whatever you tell others, it's only because I let you know. You may not realize this, but I'm the one with power. Oh yes, that's true, I am! How else would you think you could see into me? And even what you see, it's not really me. Why? Because you're too dim-witted to understand! No one will ever understand me because their brains aren't big enough to comprehend it and besides, I won't tell you. That's right! What you know, you only know because I let you know. Now shut up if you want to
What's the matter? Don't have any more prodding questions? Cat got your tongue! Ha Ha, cat got your tongue!
There is one thing I've learned and that is people only want to hurt you. No one cares about anyone else. No one has a single ounce of kindness in them. They just look out for themselves. They only want what others have, and then when they get it, they find ways to keep everyone else from taking it away from them. That's just how it is and the sooner people realize this, the closer they'll be to understanding all of it.
Look at Alti! That's the first pig I lived with, remember? Pay attention if you want to know! Alti, she wanted Xena but she couldn't have her, so instead, she settled for me. We were going to rule the world together, she and I! What? What are you talking about? Alti hurt me? Not all the time. Sometimes she was really nice to me, like the time when a man she brought home hurt me really bad. She thought she could trust him and when she went away for food, he took a hot metal rod and… never mind. It's not important what he did, what I'm trying to tell you is that as soon as Alti came back and caught him, she took care of him straight away! No more problems with that one! So, you see, there were times when she was really nice to me.
What? Xena nice to me? Nah, the only reason she's nice to me is because she feels guilty. Yes she does, I know what she's about. She says she loves me and that she would never let anyone hurt me again. But that's what Alti said after she took care of that mean man and remember what happened next? What do you mean you don't remember? I showed you. Aren't you paying attention at all? Soon after Alti promised to not let anyone ever hurt me again, she brought home that other guy, the big fat pig. Remember now? Yeah, I thought you would. How can anyone forget how bad he smelled and the way he grunted like a hog when he was… never mind! I'm trying to say that Xena says she loves me and wouldn't let anyone hurt me, but she's lying, it's just words.
Words, words, words, never put trust in the words of a turd! Ha Ha!
The point is, Xena doesn't mean anything she tells me. She's just saying it to make herself feel good. She has some ridiculous guilt thing going and she thinks if she's nice to me, and takes care of me, it will go away…
Huh? No, I'm not sad. I was just thinking… wondering if the ugly bitch is ever going to rid herself of her guilt. Maybe if it works… no, it's a dumb idea. It will never work, besides, what do I care. I don't care what happens to Xena. It's not like she's anything to me.
Stop looking at me like that. You don't know anything! All you do is sit back and watch, and then you think you know what it's all about. You keep hoping that the more tidbits of information you learn, the closer to the truth you'll be. What's worse? You honestly think Xena cares about me and wants to help me! Ha Ha!
By the gods, how clueless you are! I could tell you everything and you still wouldn't understand a thing! That's right, you wouldn't because you're like the rest of them! Look, I'm going to tell you one piece of truth and I bet you still won't understand it. Here it is, are you listening? Good, pay attention! We can't choose our mothers.
What do you mean you already knew that? Of course you didn't, otherwise you wouldn't be going on and on about how wonderful Xena is. I bet you think I'm lucky to have her as a mother, don't you? Well guess what! I didn't choose her and if I could, I would have chosen someone else. Don't look at me like that; you know perfectly well what I mean. If I had my choice, I'd choose a mother who would always be kind and sweet, someone who would never have a harsh word for me. She'd always be there to give me encouragement and she'd always love me just because… even if I was the vilest person that roamed through Greece. Most of all, the mother I chose would never, ever throw me away or let anyone do anything nasty to me. But guess what? We can't choose our mothers and whom we get is who we're stuck with, so I'm stuck with the ugly hag.
Sad? No, I'm not sad. I've learned to live with this fact. You'd do well to learn it too. What? Nothing! Can't a person sigh without having a reason?
See that woman who just came out of the house? Yeah, she's really pretty. She's the filthy pig's mate, and to be honest, I don't know what she sees in Xena. Gabrielle is so nice and sweet. She never has a bad word or raises her voice. When she talks to you, it's like she is listening to every word you say because your words are important. Gabrielle is the only one who truly loves me. Why? What are you, a half-wit? I don't know why I trust her, I just do…
Maybe I can just tell that she's a kind person. She was always there when I was sick. Did you know that I almost died? Oh yeah, right. I told you about that already. Well, I almost died, I think a part of me wanted to die, but Gabrielle was with me the whole time. It didn't matter that she was tired. She sat by my side every day. Sometimes when I was in the fever, I heard her talking, telling me stories. I didn't always understand them, but I liked hearing her voice. What? Yeah, I do remember a song… vaguely. Something about throwing an Amazon child into a fire… I guess they taste better cooked, or something. Whatever! What I am trying to say is that Gabrielle was always there for me and she's the kindest person I've ever met, except for that lady from town. I haven't seen her again since the last time I was in the forest. I guess she's busy in town or something.
What? No I don't know what the lady's name is! Geeze… besides, I'm not talking about her, I'm talking about Gabrielle so shut up!
Gabrielle is so sweet and gentle. Everything that my mother isn't, Gabrielle is, and for the life of me, I don't know why she's with the stupid bitch. I think Gabrielle could do so much better but she just settles for Xena. Hades on a stick! You'd think the lazy pig was always in heat the way she's all over Gabrielle! Every night, Xena ruts with her. They used to do it too when we were on the road and they thought I didn't hear them, but whenever they did it, I heard them all right. Just like a beast rutting all night! I can't imagine why Gabrielle would let my mother do that to her, I don't even want to imagine the sight of the swine humping against the storyteller, the way she grunts and sweats like a pig. Disgusting pervert!
No, Gabrielle is too good for Xena. She's too sweet and kind hearted. She would never treat her child the way that the bitch treated me. Gabrielle would never abandon her baby or hurt her child and no matter how bad or evil her baby was, she'd always love and protect her. Gabrielle is too good hearted for Xena. Unlike the lazy cow, Gabrielle would always love and protect any children she had like a mamma bear.
What? Why are you looking at me like that? Shut up, you don't know anything. Stupid! I don't care if you didn't say anything, just shut up! I know Gabrielle better than you so you don't have any rights to say a thing.
There you go again! Why can't a person sigh without needing a reason? Geeze… maybe I just want to inhale some of the fresh air as I take a look around me. I like this tree better than all the others because I can see so far into the distance. See over there, that's Amphipolis. That itty bitty brown thing, that's Meg's pub. Meg is Virgil's mother. Now you want to know ugly and fat, it's Meg! Ha Ha! What, don't you have a sense of humor? Too bad!
Virgil is always hanging around our house. He's a like a dog sniffing at my ass hoping that I'll let him fuck me again… but no more. I don't have to do that. Maia, ummm, I mean, mamma Gabrielle said I didn't, so I won't. What? Don't I have the right to call her my mamma… my maia? I'd rather have her as my mamma than the ogress. Besides, Gabrielle asked me to call her that, so I'm going to. Anyway, Virgil is always hanging around, watching me. Sometimes I want to walk around naked just to watch his thing shoot up!
Ha Ha, wouldn't that be funny! But why bother? He's just an idiot anyway.
Where is my sister going? Oh, she works at Meg's Tavern, brings home coins for the harpy. You'd think Xena was a pimp and Eve her whore by the way that Eve always comes home and gives her earnings to her! She always walks in at the end of the day, all smiles and goes over and pours the coins out on the table, and everyone is "Oh Eve, how wonderful!" or "We can afford some supplies now!" Idiots. I could do the same thing too! What? I don't know, but if they let me, I bet I could bring home coins too. They just won't let me, Xena won't let me go anywhere without her. You'd think she didn't trust me.
No, I'm not mad. Why should I bother with going out and working all day, standing on my feet, and begging for coins from the swine in the tavern? I know what Eve does to get her earnings. I've seen how she leans over the men and lets them look down her top. Whore! She might as well just go to the camp followers house and rent some space, she'd probably get more coins for that! Ha Ha! Can you see Eve at the whorehouse peddling her wares and preaching at the same time! Ha Ha, would be funny to see! Of course, if she did that, they'd probably be asking her to pay them if they had to listen to her drivel. Now the woman who runs the house, she is something else…
What, can't I smile now? I remember the lady and how she looked at me. I bet I could have her, if I went there… what? Me, wanting that! Don't be such an idiot! That's disgusting. It's sick what my mother forces Gabrielle to do, and it's perverted to want it! No one wants it, and no one should ever enjoy it. Only sick, disgusting perverts enjoy that stuff!
Of course Gabrielle doesn't like that stuff! What are you, stupid? She only does it to make the lazy ox happy. I don't care what she told me, Gabrielle is too sweet and pure to ever seek that stuff out. I think she just told me that she liked it too because she didn't want me to feel bad. That's the type of person she is, always wanting to help and never wanting anyone to be sad. That's why I don't think she likes it or wants it. She just puts up with it so that my mother will be happy.
Look, see the lazy cow now? She's looking up here trying to find me, but she can't. No matter how hard she looks, she'll never see me. Sometimes I feel like I could be standing right in front of her, and she wouldn't see me. I mean, really see me. She may look at me, and maybe even listen to me, but Xena will never truly see or hear me, not like Gabrielle does, a-and… not like you do. Oh, don't be all smug now. You only see what I let you see, and don't forget that! If Xena wanted to see me… I might let her, maybe… maybe not…
What? Yeah, she's calling me. I think we're having a late breakfast today. We usually eat when the sun first comes up, but the rutting pig was at it again this morning, so I left. Not even my sister was up. After I fed Pooka; he's my cat, I came out here. I saw this tree yesterday when I was walking around and wanted to climb it. I thought I'd be alone.
No, I'm not mad. It's not your fault that you found it too. Just remember, this is MY tree, not yours!
No, I don't want to climb down yet. I'm not hungry. I had a bit to eat this morning already so Xena can call all day long for all I care. I'm not the one who's going to lose my voice. What? Yeah, Ha Ha, you noticed that too? She is getting mad. It's easy to get her that way. Most people don't notice when it happens, but I do. I see the way her lips grow thin, and how her brows crease until they're touching each other. She's already looking old with all those wrinkles on her forehead! Ha Ha, Xena as an old pig! Won't that be funny!
Ok, I guess I better go now. No, I don't jump when Gabrielle calls. It's just that… I'm sure she went to a lot of trouble to make the breakfast, and I don't like to hurt her. My mother… I could care less! I'm not leaving to please Xena. I'm climbing down so that Gabrielle doesn't begin to worry about me. She will, you know. With Xena, she always thinks I'm doing something bad, but Gabrielle, she's always worried that someone is hurting me. That's the difference between the two of them. If I had a choice, I'd choose Gabrielle to be my mother, and not that stupid shrew.
I'm going to climb down now, but it doesn't mean I'm giving you my tree. This is my tree… don't forget it! I'm not an idiot, I know that everyone is always trying to take what other people have and, if they knew about my tree, they'd try to take it away from me. So don't tell anyone. If you don't tell anyone, then maybe we can talk again. You know, aside for Gabrielle, I think you're the only other person I can really talk to. With everyone else my tongue seems to be tied. But don't let it go to your head; you're still stupid as far as I'm concerned! So if you ever see me up here in my tree again, and you want to climb up with me, I'll let you, ok. But only you! No one else! And don't go telling anyone else about this place, all right? This will be our secret place where we can talk. Maybe after a while, you won't be so clueless and you'll actually begin to understand what I'm telling you. Remember! Don't tell anyone…