Summary: The Conqueror leaves Greece to visit Cleopatra and meets a slave/gladiator named Gabrielle but all is not what it seems.
Disclaimer: See Part 1
Authors Note: Hey guys, I'm back! This chapter isn't very long but it does explain some things that I'm sure you're all confused about. There are only a few chapters left of this story before I wrap it all up. Still more twists and turns, so even after this chapter, don't expect things to go smoothly. It never does for the Conqueror, you should know that. If you want to email me, my address is jacklavigne13@hotmail .com
Chapter Twenty Five
I wondered silently to myself if I could make my way to the desk holding my bottle of port before it started. I stepped into my private study, two currently silent women following behind me but I knew it wouldn't last for long. I took long strides, my hands extended towards the exquisitely made glass bottle that held my drink of choice, my fingertips inches away when it started.
"What the fuck, Xena?" Alexandria growled, her hand somehow beating mine to the jug and pulling it from my grasp. "How long was it before that fucking slave was gracing your bed? A few days? A few candlemarks? As soon as the fucking doors closed behind me?"
"I'm not a God's be damned slave," Gabrielle hissed in response, her green eyes positively blazing as she glared at my second in command. "Xena, what is the fucking traitor doing here?"
"Traitor? You're the fucking traitor, you bitch!"
"I'm not the one that sided with Rome!"
"Yeah, not this time, surprisingly."
"No, fuck y-"
"Enough!" I finally roared, silencing the two red faced women whose mouths immediately snapped shut. Alexandria hand was dangerously close to the hidden dagger in her leather vest and Gabrielle made no effort to hide her anger as she pulled her sais from her boots and gripped them until her knuckles turned white.
I snatched the bottle of port from Alexandria's hand, taking several swallows before I gestured to the two women. "Sit down." I went to the door and ordered for Palaemon to be brought to my rooms before taking a seat behind my desk. We waited for several minutes in silence, with Gabrielle seated on the edge of my desk glaring murderously at Alexandria while my second stared angrily at the floor. Finally the door swung upon to reveal my blonde haired captain and I breathed a sigh of relief.
"Palaemon, sit," I said to the man who immediately took the chair next to Alexandria. The red headed woman offered him a weak smile which he returned before turning his attention to me.
"Now," I started slowly, making eye contact with everyone in the room. "I know everyone is a little bit confused after tonight."
"Queen of understatements," Gabrielle muttered quietly. I shot her a look but ignored her words before continuing.
"The last few weeks have been stressful to say at the least and as far as I knew, I couldn't trust anyone." I stopped when Alexandria cleared her throat meaningfully and I couldn't help but smile slightly at the red headed woman. "Well, almost anyone."
"My Lord," Palaemon said, his brow furrowed in confusion. "I don't understand. Alexandria didn't betray you?"
"No, she didn't betray me," I replied, watching as Gabrielle's body stiffened out of the corner of my eye at my words. I couldn't blame her after leading her astray for so long but I still hadn't been sure if I could trust the Amazon Queen. I wasn't taking any chances this time. "Alexandria went sort of undercover for me, pretending to betray me in order to find out who the real traitor truly was. But... things got complicated."
"It would have been perfect if this bitch hadn't been around," Alexandria growled, gesturing to Gabrielle who snarled in response. "If not for her, I wouldn't have had to be banished in front of half of Corinth!"
"What?" Gabrielle finally spoke up. "How the fuck did I ruin anything?"
"It wasn't intentional," I replied, shooting Alexandria a cold glare as the red headed woman opened her mouth to retort to Gabrielle's question. "It was partly my fault and yours, Alexandria. I didn't expect Alex to be questioning Darnelle so openly." I explained to Gabrielle.
"Wait, the night before she was banished, that was a set up?" Gabrielle asked with wide eyes, to which Alex snorted in contempt. "The man in the hood was Darnelle?"
"Yes, and we walked in on it by accident," I sighed, rubbing my eyes. "There was no way around it. I couldn't be sure that you were on our side, Gabrielle, so I had Alexandria banished to make it look like she was the traitor. I wanted to give Darnelle a little more rope to hang himself with before anything happened. But, as always in my life, nothing went the way I planned."
"Why didn't you just tell me?" Gabrielle asked in confusion, her eyes betraying her hurt as she looked me. "Xena, you know I wouldn't have betrayed you."
"Why do you think?" Alexandria responded before I could even open my mouth. "You betrayed Greece once, what would stop you from doing it again, no matter what you say?"
"Enough," I said to Alexandria who quieted down. "Damn, I wish I'd just publically executed Darnelle. None of this would have happened."
"Should have just killed him in the beginning," Alexandria agreed, shaking her head. I nodded silently in agreement as the four of us sat there in silence, each lost in our own thoughts. It was Gabrielle who spoke first, her voice still tinged with confusion.
“That still doesn't explain the night you were poisoned, Conqueror,” I fought my own body's reaction, wanting to flinch at the title she gave me. “Alexandria hesitated to save your life. Even if it wasn't her that spiked your drink, you could have died with the moments she waited to give you the antidote.”
I sighed, resting my elbow on my desk and propping my chin up in my hand as I felt a headache seeping into my skull. I resisted the urge to rub my temples, glancing from the confused and angry Amazon Queen to my quiet and thoughtful Captain to finally look at Alexandria who had her muscular arms crossed over her chest with a bored expression on her face. I gestured for her to explain, feeling too tired to force the words out at this moment in time.
“I was in shock,” Alexandria finally offered with a shock. “I thought that you had done it but the way you were crying… and holding her…” I listened intently as Alex's voice trailed off, hearing as she swallowed before continuing. “I realized then that it hadn't been you to slip the peanuts in her drink. You're lucky it took only a few moments for this to process in my brain. If it had taken any longer, I would have killed you on the spot. As to why I left so quickly after I provided Xena the antidote, it was too keep everyone out of her room. There was evidence all over the place and even though from that very moment, Xena and I both thought that we knew who it was, we wanted to be completely sure. I mean, Darnelle could have been siding with Rome, but that doesn't mean it was him who poisoned her.”
“But, you never even visited,” Gabrielle insisted, turning to look at me for what I assumed was back up. I could only sigh.
“She never left,” I said, feeling Alexandria's eyes burning into me as I spoke. “She didn't want to leave you alone with me or give anyone else the chance to get to me. She's one of the best assassins that I've ever met; you wouldn't have known she was there.”
Gabrielle blinked repeatedly at this information before turning to stare down at her hands, her brow furrowed. I could only watch her in silence before turning back to Alexandria who was staring thoughtfully out of the window.
"Alexandria?" I said, cause her to look up and meet my gaze, her midnight blue eyes distant. "You said down there that we needed to talk. What is it?"
"Oh, yeah, that," Alexandria sighed, leaning back in her chair casually as she spoke as if she was discussing the weather. "We need to start packing."
"Excuse me?" Palaemon finally spoke up, his grey eyes wide as he turned to Alexandria. "What do we need to pack for? We're getting ready for battle!"
"A battle that we're going to lose," Alexandria stated with a tone of finality. She turned her head to meet my gaze, her midnight blue eyes more serious than I'd seen them for a long time. "There's more to this, Xena. We need to get out of here, now, or we're all going to end up dead. Darnelle wasn't the only one in this. You don't know the things that I found out, outside of these walls."
I sighed, leaning back in my chair and closing my eyes. Just when I thought things couldn't get any worse. Damn all of the God's left on Olympus, I have the worst luck.
To Be Continued
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