Summary: Everybody makes their own destiny but sometimes certain moments in your life are just meant to happen and there are certain people you are meant to meet. What would have happened to Xena if she had turned away Gabrielle when she tried to follow her from Potidaea? Will she meet her soulmate again or have the fates weaved Gabrielle's thread with another instead.
Authors Note: Hey guys, this is a new story I've been working on for a while. Between everything else I've been writing, especially my Conqueror fic, I haven't had time to start uploading this until now. If you want to email me about it, my address is jacklavigne13@hotmail .com
Disclaimer: Xena, Gabrielle and all the other characters from Xena, The Warrior Princess don't belong to me. I'm just borrowing them for this story. I will return them once it has been finished, sadly.
Violence: It's a Xena story, so there will be violence, be warned.
Subtext: Subtext is maintext in this fanfiction. There will be graphic scenes of two women making love, and relationships between same sex couples. If this bothers you, then you should probably run for the hills. Fast.
If you are under the age of eighteen, or this type of story is illegal where you live, then stop reading now. Close the page, have a cup of tea and enjoy the lovely weather outside, depending on where you live.
I never thought it would be so hard to follow the path of good. When Hercules steered me away from the darkness, I honestly thought that it would be easy. And to begin with, it was. I enjoyed fighting for the greater good and helping people rather than killing and burning wherever I went. But as time dragged on, it got harder and harder to follow this new path. There were so many times when I was tempted to go back to my bad old ways, but somehow I resisted. I still have bursts of rage and have ended even a few innocent lives but I never strayed so far that I couldn't come back.
I think the worst part is the loneliness. I travel alone and while I've met some friends along the way, I rarely see them while I wander over Greece. It's hard having no one to talk to besides from Argo. It's hard going through life without the comforting touch of a friend or someone to guide me when the lines get blurry. At least when I had my army, I was never at a loss for someone to talk to. I could sit down at the camp fire with my men and at least discuss the latest conquest, whether it be village or woman. But now, I was alone.
And I feel empty, like a part of me is missing and I've searched and searched but I always come up empty handed. No matter how many times I lie in bed with another or make a new friend or go to a new place, it never feels... right. I don't feel complete.
It's like something is missing, but I don't know what.
It was mid-Summer and the sun was burning brightly in a cloudless blue sky as I walked on a quiet dirt road with no trees to give me shelter from the sun's blistering rays. I could feel my skin burn a little more with every step that I took and my raven coloured hair was plastered to my sweat slicked neck. My leathers were now uncomfortably tight and I had been getting grumpier every second since the moment I left my camp site. I missed my old outfit on such blazing hot days like this. My leather battledress and armor had been ruined beyond repair in a village fire just over three years ago. I had been holding open a door way for a woman as her house burned to the ground, only to get her out and have the ceiling fall on me instead. By the time my armor had been twisted and pulled from my shoulders and chest, it was nothing but a hunk of bronze and my leathers were in tatters. I traded my ruined outfit for a pair of tight black leather pants, knee high black boots and a sleeveless black leather tunic with a skirt that fell to mid-thigh. I had silver stitching on the front of my leather tunic in the same design as my old armor. I wore black and silver bracers and silver armor covering my shoulders and back. It had served me well over the past years but on hot days like today, it was suicide.
I'd been walking for miles and I was tired and hot and I desperately needed a drink of port. Athens was less than a candle mark away and while I dreaded the thought of being in the busy city, it was the closest place where I could get a decent meal and give my horse a well-earned rest. It had been too long since I'd eaten a meal that wasn't burnt by my own hand, which is how I ended up in front of a tavern in the middle of Athens called 'The Wise Ale.'
It was almost chaotic when I opened the tavern door and I immediately cringed at my choice. I had hoped for a nice quiet meal and a relaxing drink afterwards but obviously I wasn't going to get that here. I'm sure the meal and drink would be available, but not the silence. The tavern was almost completely full of rowdy men, many of them Athenian soldiers who were enjoying an ale or six. There were several barmaids moving around the large room, almost constantly yelping from having their asses grabbed as they served drinks and food. Even worse, at the bar I could see Joxer the Mighty, surrounding by a group of women as he told them of his latest 'adventure'.
I was too exhausted to find another place so I slowly stepped into the room, letting the door close loudly behind me. Almost instantly it was quiet, save for a few gasps and several people that muttered my name. I was as well-known now as I was in my warlording days, and even though people knew of my new path for good, they still feared me. Even Joxer gulped and stayed thankfully silent as I threw him my coldest glare, letting him know that I didn't want to be bothered.
I ignored the stares and made my way to a table at the back of the room that gave me a good view of everything around me. Propping my booted feet onto the table, I glared menacingly at the eyes that were still staring at me until the room exploded in conversation once more. I gave a satisfied sigh and smirked as a pretty barmaid made her way over to me to take my order.
"What can I get for you?" The woman smiled at me timidly.
I gave my most charming grin as I opened my mouth to order when the door to the tavern door opened once more and a short blonde woman entered. I narrowed my eyes as several men and women, including the bumbling idiot Joxer, called out to the blonde, who smiled brightly in return.
She looked hauntingly familiar but I couldn't pick where I'd seen her before. I shook my head, wondering how I could forget such a beautiful face. And by the Gods, she was beautiful. Her short blonde hair sparkled in the sunlight streaming through the open door and she had a smile that crinkled her nose adorably. She wore a short deep red leather skirt that fell to mid-thigh with a pair of red boots that were so dark, they were almost black. A finely crafted pair of sais were attached to the sides of her boots, though she carried an Amazon war staff in her hands. A deep red leather top covered her perfect breasts, leaving her abdomen and toned arms bare. What stood out the most though, besides her rock hard abs that were displayed to my appreciation, were her stunning emerald green eyes.
I scowled when a warrior followed the small woman through the door and I recognized her immediately. Her name was Najara and I figured that this woman was the bard that travelled with the psychopath I'd heard of so often. In every tavern I entered, there were bards that told stories of the two blondes that travelled the countryside together, fighting for the Greater Good. I had actually run into Najara once on a job a few years ago, though the bard had been absent.
The warrior scanned the room as the bard went to talk to some of her friends at a table near the door. Our eyes met and while she smiled at me, her eyes glared at my presence. When we met all those years ago, we had gotten into quite a rumble. After saving a village from slavers, I had found out from the leader that Najara usually slaughtered them if they didn't turn to the 'light' after three days or if they weren't sincere. She had landed quite a few blows and even managed to knock out my best chewing tooth but so had I and eventually she left and I turned the slavers over to the local authorities. I hadn't seen her since.
I watched through narrowed eyes as she walked towards the small blonde and stood in front of her, blocking the bard from my view. I tore my gaze away as the barmaid once again asked me for my order and by the time I looked back, the two women seemed to be in a heated discussion. Finally, the bard seemed to give up and turned to leave but not before her eyes scanned the room.
Our eyes met and it was like I had been hit by lightning, my every nerve ending burning with Greek fire. I had a strange sense of deja-vu and was now completely sure that I had met this woman before. Her eyes lit up with recognition as she stared at me but she frowned as she turned back to her warrior friend. I couldn't hear what the bard said to Najara, but I watched with satisfaction as the warrior threw her hands up in the air in frustration before leaving the tavern. And then the bard was walking towards me.
Gods, she had the voice of an angel and the way she said my name sounded so familiar. I couldn't speak so instead I just raised a perfectly sculpted eyebrow at the woman. I didn't know what the Hades was wrong with me but it was making me more than a little uncomfortable.
"You don't remember me, do you?" She asked and I was surprised by the disappointment that laced her words.
"You look familiar," I replied vaguely, and while I felt I had met this woman before, I couldn't pull her from my memory. Her eyes sparkled at my admission and I had to fight to keep a smile off my face at her excited expression.
"It's me, Gabrielle," she said with an encouraging smile. "Don't you remember saving my life in Potidaea?"
Her words jogged my memory and images instantly starting flashing before my eyes. Saving a group of women from slavers and then being followed by a girl to Amphipolis. Getting stoned by the people in my village and then being saved by the same young woman. Beating Draco and then making amends with my mother before finally leaving to camp for the night. Only to be found by the young girl that saved my life and offered me friendship for nothing in return.
A girl that I turned away.
The memory of that night raced through my mind as I stared into her emerald green orbs, and I closed my eyes for the slightest moment as I let myself be taken back to that moment in time.
I was sitting at my campfire, having finally left my hometown of Amphipolis after spending several candlemarks talking to my mother. I was watching my food cook over the fire, knowing that if I turned away even for a moment that it would burn. I had many skills, but cooking was definitely not one of them.
My hand reached for my sword the second I heard a twig snap in the forest surrounding me. Before the young girl could even set foot into my camp, I was on my feet with my sword held out in front of me. When I saw a flash of long reddish blonde hair and startling green eyes, I lowered my sword with a roll of my eyes.
"I was going to follow you until you were in some jam," The small blonde said sheepishly as she gazed up at me. "But it's so cold out there, and I couldn't get a fire started. And the mosquitoes are as big as eagles."
I couldn't stop the small smile that tugged on the corner of my mouth as I seated myself back down on my bedroll, resting my sword on the ground beside me. I watched as the girl sat down on a log on the other side of the small fire, staring nervously at my hand that still rested on the hilt at my sword. I removed my hand instantly, and watched as relief flooded the blonde's features. While she was unbelievably talkative and more than a bit annoying, she had saved my life today and I didn't want to scare her.
"You know, I'm sending you home in the morning," I said, not looking forward to the speech I would shortly receive in return.
"I won't stay home," Gabrielle replied, almost defiantly. Gods this girl had fire. "I don't belong there, Xena. I'm not the little girl my parents wanted me to be. You wouldn't understand."
I frowned at her words, knowing in my heart that I did understand. I hadn't been accepted in my hometown, even as a young girl. I had always been an outcast, preferring to play with swords than to play with the other girls in my village. But then look at how I turned out, I thought to myself bitterly. This girl deserved better than a life on the road, especially with a beaten old ex-warlord like me.
"It doesn't matter, I'm still sending you home," I said gruffly, feeling in my heart as if I was making a big mistake, a feeling that I ignored. Just like I ignored the pained expression on the girl's face as I threw her one of my spare blankets. "You can sleep here tonight, but tomorrow you're going back to your family and your betrothed."
And that's exactly what I had done; the next morning, after spending several minutes trying to wake the girl up, I had sent her home with a small pack of food and a water skin. Obviously, the bard did not return to her family or to her betrothed and instead stayed on the road until she met up with Najara. It didn't even matter, I thought to myself. No matter what I had done, she never would have gone back home. I wondered what my life would be like now if I had let her stay instead of leaving her on the dirt road that led back to Potidaea just over five years ago.
I stared at the woman before me now and while she had changed a lot, I immediately recognized her as the young girl who left my camp after pleading with me to take her on my journey for redemption. Her hair was shorter, her clothes were different and she'd lost all her baby fat and replaced it with hard muscle, but it was definitely the same girl, only now she was grown up. Even her green eyes looked older, wiser, as if she had seen more than she should have for a woman that couldn't be more than twenty three summers old.
Which is exactly what I had wanted to protect that innocent little story teller from.
"I remember," I said softly, removing my boots from the table and sitting up in my chair. She seemed to take this as an invitation for her to join me and sat down in the chair across from me, folding her hands on the table.
"So," I started slowly, unsure of what to say to this woman that was basically a stranger. "I see you found a warrior that was willing to take you."
"Yes, I did," Gabrielle replied happily, a bright smile on her face. "Her name's Najara."
"I know who she is," my voice wasn't especially cold but I could tell by Gabrielle's frown that she heard my dislike for her companion in my tone.
"Have you two met?"
"Once," I replied absently, glancing around the room and finding several pairs of eyes watching us. I also noticed that Najara was back in the doorway of the tavern, glaring at me intensely. A small smirk played my lips as I leant forwards in my chair, resting my elbows on the table and moving closer to the blonde to get a rise out of Najara. She didn't disappoint as her face flushed with rage and I swore I could hear her teeth grinding from the opposite end of the room.
"She never mentioned meeting you to me," Gabrielle said in confusion, her brow furrowed.
"Why would she?" I asked and when I saw the look on Gabrielle's face, I quickly continued. "It wasn't very memorable. It probably slipped her mind."
"Maybe," Gabrielle mused quietly, more to herself than to me I assumed. "It just doesn't make sense. I've talked about you before, why wouldn't she mention meeting you?"
I raised my eyebrows at her words but said nothing. She seemed to be deep in thought as she stared at the table and I took the time to really look at her. Beautiful wasn't the word to describe this woman; she was a goddess. Her shoulder muscles rippled with every movement and when she leaned back casually in her chair, I couldn't help but stare at her abdomen. Gods, what I wouldn't give to drag my tongue ac-
"Is Najara your lover?" I asked abruptly and then blushed uncharacteristically at my words. Feeling the warrior's stare from the doorway and with my train of thought, I had asked the question without thinking and was now desperately waiting for an answer. But by the look on Gabrielle's face, I knew I wasn't going to like the response though I was unsure as to why. I hadn't gotten laid in a while, I reasoned with myself as my eyes wandered to the bard's breasts. That's all there way too it, a little bit of warrior lust and nothing more.
"Uh," Gabrielle stuttered, her eyes wide at the sudden personal question. A light blush covered her cheeks, only enhancing her beauty. "Yeah, how did you know?"
Without saying a word, I let my eyes drift over the room to stare directly at the woman in the doorway of the tavern. Gabrielle followed my gaze, half turning in her seat and scowled ferociously at the blonde warrior.
"By the Gods!" Gabrielle grumbled. "It's so frustrating when she does that."
"I can imagine," I replied softly, though in my mind I couldn't really blame Najara. With a lover as beautiful as Gabrielle, who wouldn't be a little cautious when she sat down next to the once Destroyer of Nations? I was well known for my sexual prowess and unquenchable appetite for young women, especially women as stunning as the bard. I found myself suddenly jealous of the blonde warrior. If I hadn't turned the bard away in the beginning, it might have been me that had Gabrielle in my bed.
"I'm sorry," Gabrielle sighed as she turned back to me. "I should probably go. We were only passing through Athens."
"Where are you heading?" I asked hurriedly, finding that I didn't want the bard to leave so quickly. Gods, warrior, what is happening to you? You need to get laid.
"Marathon," Gabrielle replied with a slightly confused look on her face. "The warlord Draco is there and Najara wants to get rid of him once and for all."
I couldn't help but smile at how perfect this was. I had actually been heading towards Marathon myself after hearing that Draco was rebuilding his army there after losing almost half his men in a battle with another warlord in Thessaly. Maybe I would be able to spend more time with the bard after all. She was interesting and dealing with Draco wouldn't be easy, I convinced myself; I would need all the help I could get.
"I might see you there," I said with a small smile as my food was finally delivered, along with a mug of port. "I was planning on heading there before making my way to Thebes to meet a friend."
"Really?" The blonde's smile almost blinded me and I couldn't help but grin in return as her green eyes twinkled with delight.
"Really," I drawled, taking a sip of my port.
"Cool," Gabrielle grinned as she stood up from her seat, glancing over her shoulder before turning back to me. "I'll see you later."
I nodded towards the blonde bard and then watched as she turned and walked away gracefully. I couldn't help but smirk as Najara glared at me over the bard's shoulder while I raised my eyebrow in silent challenge. I held back a laugh as the warrior huffed and followed Gabrielle from the tavern, her shoulders tense with anger. I smiled in satisfaction, leaning back in my chair as I thought about what the next few days would bring me.
It would be an interesting mission indeed.
I've always prided myself on being a great tracker, and I was glad of my skills as I followed the bard and Najara from Athens. I didn't really have a plan yet, nor did I really know why I was following them at all, but I felt as if it was the right thing to do. I felt as if I needed to get Gabrielle away from Najara. The blonde warrior was one of the craziest bitches I've ever met, and she would only ever cause the bard pain. At least, that's what I told myself.
Despite how uncomfortable I felt in my dark leathers in such blazing heat, I was grateful that it wasn't raining. It made it easier to follow their tracks in the dirt, despite the very busy road. I stroked Argo's nose as she trudged along besides me, her coat dark with sweat.
"I'm sorry, girl," I said to the mare as she lipped my fingers. "I bet you think I'm crazy, huh? Following some stranger around like a puppy. If it makes you feel better, it was already our plan to head to Marathon anyway, before meeting Autolycus in Thebes."
I had left Athens after spending a night at the inn, giving Najara and Gabrielle a head start to Marathon. I had entertained the thought of meeting them on the road but I decided against it. While I couldn't deny that Gabrielle intrigued me, the thought of voluntarily spending time with Najara was enough to make my stomach twist in discomfort. I didn't trust Najara as far as I could throw her but while I prided myself of my fighting skills, Najara was a worthy opponent. I couldn't say that I was looking forward to crossing swords with her ever again, though for the bard's sake, I would.
She had saved my life once after all, I told myself. I owed her.
With a sigh, I pulled myself up onto Argo's back, wanting to get to Marathon as quickly as possible. It was normally a two day easy ride from Athens but I knew if I pushed Argo, I could be there by nightfall.
"What's wrong with me, Argo?" I sighed as I took a sip from my water skin. "I must be going through The Change or something. I'm going loopy."
Argo snorted in agreement and I laughed softly before nudging her into a fast walk which quickly turned into a run.
As I predicted, I was entering the city of Marathon only a few hours after sunset. I stretched in my saddle before patting Argo's sweaty neck as I rode through the gates. The city was unusually quiet and I chalked up the lack of people being due to Draco's army which was not far from the gates. I had dismounted from Argo briefly outside the city once I saw the campfires and had slowly made my way around the army camp to check things out. It seemed that despite losing half his forces, Draco's army was still strong enough to take Marathon if he wanted. There were at least two hundred men in his army, mainly mercenaries who were willing to do anything for coin but were well trained with a sword. It wouldn't be an easy fight, even with the town's militia helping and I cringed, knowing that I would have to work with Najara to pull this off.
I stopped outside of the city's inn, sliding off Argo's back and handing her reins to the young boy who seemed to magically appear beside me. I stroked her nose before giving the boy a dinar and making my way into the quiet tavern. The large room was mainly empty with only a few villages talking quietly over a mug of ale. I noticed a hooded figure sitting in the corner but seeing no immediate threat, I made my way over to the bar keep.
"Do you have any rooms available?" I asked once I caught the man's eye. He seemed to study me for a moment, taking in my muscular form and the sword strapped to my back before nodding somewhat nervously. After paying for the next few days, I let one of the inn's helpers take my bags to my room before ordering a drink and settling at a table in the shadows where I could survey the rest of the room. It wasn't long until I was interrupted.
"Well, look what the three headed dog dragged in."
"You've got to be kidding me," I muttered, letting my eyes fluttered closed for a moment before looking up at the person standing before me. I watched as the tall figure pushed back the hood of their cloak, revealing shoulder length dark red hair and the face of a woman whose beauty one would think only existed in stories.
"Don't sound so enthusiastic about seeing me now," the woman said sarcastically, pushing her hair out of her midnight blue eyes. "I wouldn't want you to strain something."
"Alexandria," I purred, unable to stop my lips from forming into a smile. "I thought you were in Gaul stirring up trouble."
"I was for about six moons but I got bored," Alexandria grinned, sitting down in the chair across from me and crossing her long legs at the ankle. "You know, those guys are all the same. It gets old after a while."
"What are you doing here?" I asked, raising my eyebrow at my companion as I took a sip of my drink.
"Straight to the point, Xena, that's what I love about you," the red headed woman winked at me. "I assume for the same reason you are. Draco is regrouping his army right outside these gates. I figured you would come to put an end to him once and for all and I thought I would join you. I've missed your stimulating company and witty conversation."
I stared at her for several moments in silence, keeping my face neutral as she stared back at me unflinchingly. Finally, my face broke into a grin as I leant back in my seat. "It's good to see you, Alex."
"You too, darling," Alexandria opened her mouth to continue but stopped as we both heard footsteps coming down the stairs. My smile turned into a scowl when I saw Najara walking down the stairs, followed closely by Gabrielle. Neither of them looked happy and Najara's mood only seemed to get darker when she saw me and Alexandria sitting in the corner of the tavern.
"Well, hello there," Alexandria purred, her eyes fixed firmly on the bard. I couldn't help but smirk as I watched Najara's face burn with anger before she starting stomping over to our table. I don't know what had happened to the calm and collected psychopath I met years ago, but this temperamental woman was definitely not her.
"It figures that you two would be in one another's company," Najara snapped when she finally stopped before us. I arched a perfectly sculpted eyebrow at her words and looked at Alexandria, whose expression wasn't much different than mine.
"Hello nutjob, how're the Jinn doing? I see they haven't driven you up the wall and off the nearest cliff yet. Too bad." Alexandria said cheerfully and I quickly covered my mouth with the back of my hand to muffle my laughter. "Is that your girlfriend over there? How much is a pretty thing like that costing you? Must cost a fortune to get her into bed with you."
"Gabrielle isn't a whore like you, Alexandria," Najara snarled to which Alexandria smiled brightly.
"Seriously? I figured that you'd have to pay someone to sleep with you especially considering that you're still wearing that stupid hat," Alexandria shrugged before taking a sip of her drink. "Though, she does seem too lovely to be a prostitute. But you know, Najara, I always thought you were better suited with Callisto. I think you two would really hit it off. I can take this beauty off your hands, what do you say?"
It was at this point that Gabrielle made her way over to the table, giving me a somewhat apologetic smile. She rested her hand on Najara's shoulder just as the warrior's face went bright red and she opened her mouth to probably scream profanities at my red headed friend.
Meanwhile, I was doing my damn hardest to keep my neutral expression despite my desire to burst into uncontrollable laughter at the priceless expression on Najara's face.
"Najara," Gabrielle spoke soothingly to the raging warrior. "Come on, let's go for a walk."
Najara stood silently for several moments before giving a jerky nod and stalking from the room. I had held in my laughter for long enough already and promptly exploded once the nutjob was out of ear shot.
"I'm so sorry," Gabrielle smiled sheepishly as she ran her fingers through her hair. "I seem to be apologizing to you a lot."
"Don't worry about it," I managed to say once I'd finished chuckling. “You shouldn't be the one apologizing. You haven't done anything wrong.”
"Hi," Alexandria suddenly said, holding her hand out to the bard. "I'm Alexandria."
"Gabrielle," The blonde smiled as she took Alexandria's hand. "It's nice to meet you, Alexandria.”
"Gabrielle, what is a nice girl like you doing with a warrior with such bad fashion sense," Alexandria grinned charmingly. "Especially when you could be having a drink with two, dashingly handsome, ladies such as the ones before you."
"I would love to have a drink with the both of you," Gabrielle green eyes drifted to me as she spoke. "But unfortunately my partner is in a bit of a mood right now."
"A bit too much gin?" I muttered under my breath, to which Gabrielle cracked a smile though it was rather forced.
"Something like that," she said. "Maybe another time?"
She looked at me so hopefully that all I could do was nod. She gave me another one of those adorable nose crinkling smiles and then followed Najara from the tavern.
"Wow," Alexandria whistled softly as she watched Gabrielle leave the inn, her eyes fixed firmly to the bard's backside. I shrugged off the urge to slap my companion over the back of the head, considering I was doing the exact same thing.
"Yeah," I sighed with a small smile as I continued to stare at the door even after Gabrielle had already left.
"So, you wanna go up to my room?"
My smile only widened as I downed the rest of my drink.
To be continued in Part Two…
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