Disclaimer: This is a work of fan fiction, and is for non-profit entertainment. It may be downloaded for personal use only, may not be sold, and must contain this statement. The characters and concepts from the TV series, Xena Warrior Princess, including Xena, Gabrielle and Ares are the creations or adaptations and property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures USA. No malice is intended towards these characters or concepts.
Warnings: This story contains violence. It is about vampires after all and they're not known for being friendly, well, not all of them anyway.
Subtext: Yes, we'll get to that, not right away, but it's there ;)
Feedback: Yes please! Mindwalker78@yahoo.de
Special Thanks: To Cris (Doc) and Diane for their outstanding assistance as beta readers and for all the girls at the Inn for their suggestions and input in general! Your help is deeply appreciated!
Marius sat watching. He'd been patiently following Xena and Gabrielle for many months now, and was fascinated by their interaction. Though he had to admit he was mostly intrigued by Xena herself. He'd been searching for many centuries, and had almost given up all hope. Then he'd spotted her, and from the very first moment he'd seen her, he'd felt so drawn that his spine tingled with excitement and anticipation. He could hardly believe it. His endless search was almost over.
The thrill of watching her fight was sheer poetry in motion. But she was so much more than that. So complicated and fierce, yet able to take pleasure in the simple things, like sitting by the campfire and listening to Gabrielle as she muttered while writing in her scrolls.
At these times, she exuded such tranquillity that one would never suspect her bloodthirsty history by looking at this peaceful scene.
Yes, Marius was happy. He'd finally found his heir.
Perched on a rock, at the top of a large cliff above their camp, he watched Xena's instincts come into play as she sensed his presence. She was sharp that one. He moved so fast from the rock to the nearby tree that her eyes couldn't possibly have seen him. Yet it was almost as though she could. She seemed to know that something was out there. Her instincts were just incredible Marius thought, smiling proudly.
Yes, finally, his search was almost at an end.
"How could she?" Angry tears streamed down the blonde woman's cheeks as she stuffed her meagre belongings into her travel bags.
The small clearing where they had set up camp was cold and the air escaped her lungs in white clouds.
Steam occasionally billowed from the horses' nostrils, as they sensed the tension.
A hawk was cautiously watching the woman from the branches of a nearby tree, his head moved from side to side as he assessed whether the human was any threat to his nest.
Tying the last pan to the saddle, the blonde turned around once more and kicked the stones around the dead embers. Startled, the hawk flew off and watched from further up in the tree top.
It was quiet as the dawn crept over the horizon. Much too quiet for Gabrielle's liking. She could hear her own thoughts and they were driving her mad.
She had stayed at this camp site for almost a week, waiting for her companion to return. Hoping that she'd come back. But she hadn't. Where had she gone? What had she done to cause Xena to leave her like that? Gabrielle didn't understand any of this, which fuelled her feelings of hurt, rejection and resentment until they threatened to overwhelm her. Once again, like so many other times, her thoughts returned to the last time she'd seen Xena ...
It was on a night like this, the moonlight was tentatively penetrating the dense forest, illuminating the trees and wildlife in a soft white glow, lulling Gabrielle into a sense of peaceful security, when she was suddenly startled by a noise that was out of place.
Xena had instructed her to set up camp while she went hunting for dinner. Being the accomplished hunter that she was, it normally didn't take her very long at all to capture a delicious feast, but this occasion was different. She seemed to have been gone for hours.
Sitting with her back against a huge log, Gabrielle became mesmerised by the way the flames danced around the fireplace, and sent sparks flying into the night. Finally, exhausted from the hard day's travel, she'd dozed off. She had no idea how long she'd been asleep, when she suddenly jolted awake. As she listened to her senses, she realised that her friend was standing in the shadows, just watching her. "Xena? Where have you been?" she asked, rubbing her sleepy eyes.
Xena just stood there silently watching her.
"Xena?" she asked again and slowly got up. "Are you alright??? I mean, whu, what took you so long?"
She walked closer and noticed the beautiful cerulean eyes watching her, almost hungrily. Somehow they were an even more intense blue than usual. Probably just the dawn's reflection, she thought dismissing the change.
"Don't come any closer!" Xena whispered in a hoarse voice that Gabrielle hardly recognised.
Gabrielle slowed her approach, but didn't come to a halt. "Xena, what is it?"
"I....," Xena began to speak, but seemed unable to utter another word.
Realising by now that something was seriously wrong, Gabrielle began to rush forward, but she was stopped by Xena with a gesture from her hand.
"NO Gabrielle!" Her voice and persona were so commanding that they brought Gabrielle to an instant halt. Now that she was closer, she could see such fear and confusion in Xena's eyes that Gabrielle herself became afraid. Something was very wrong.
"I have to leave. Right now!" It wasn't more than a whisper. "I'm so sorry Gabrielle. Please forgive me." Xena's eyes filled with unshed tears.
The fear in Xena's eyes conveyed itself in her every nuance. She was clearly having great difficulty controlling herself, but controlling herself from doing what? The bard felt helpless. She could see Xena's inner turmoil, but she wouldn't allow her any closer. In an effort to bring some normality back to the situation, she began to speedily pack up camp and ramble.
"Sure, we can get packed in no time." Gabrielle hesitated at first and looked around the campsite to see how fast she could prepare to leave. ".... I mean, I know this isn't the first time we've had to leave in a hurry, and it probably won't be the last time either Xena, but a little more notice would really help a lot, you know? ..... And you still haven't told me where you've been. I've been worried about you."
She turned to her friend, hoping above all hope that she'd see her eyes raised to the sky and a wry expression on her face. But when she looked back Xena was gone.
Gabrielle had been calling out for Xena the whole morning. She'd then searched for her all day every day for weeks, but to no avail. Xena appeared to have vanished without trace.
Gabrielle gradually became aware of her surroundings again. She'd just realised that Xena had said "I" have to leave and that she was so sorry. But, why? After all they'd shared, all they'd experienced, what could possibly have been so awful that she couldn't have shared it with her? How could she just go like that? How could she?
With a broken heart and a fractured soul, Gabrielle finally accepted that her search was in vain. Xena, her friend, the woman with whom she had experienced so much, the keeper of her heart, and soul, had run out on her without explanation, and didn't want to be found.
Tears streaming down her face, Gabrielle admitted defeat as she began to load her humble belongings onto her horse. It was time to move on. She was running out of supplies and so much time had passed since Xena had disappeared, that she could be anywhere by now. Gabrielle had to take care of herself first if she was going to keep looking for Xena.
It would be many years, hundreds, in fact, before Gabrielle truly admitted to herself that Xena had left her for good, and was never going to return.
"I'll explain if you'll just stay and listen to me!" The dark haired woman implored, falling to her knees on the sandy path in the garden of Gabrielle's mansion in desperation. "Please!" She reached out for the small hand of the blonde, but it was coldly withheld.
"It's been centuries Xena." Gabrielle stated flatly, no emotions at all in her voice.
"I didn't want to hurt you. You have to believe me!" Desperate to connect, Xena again tried to touch Gabrielle's hand, but it was quickly pulled away, as a single red tear rolled down her cheek.
Gabrielle swallowed and tried to decide what to do. Did she want to know what had happened to Xena so many years ago, or would she rather hold onto her feelings and seek solace in her own explanation? Could she put aside her hurt and anger to talk to Xena?
Finally, deciding to move beyond the hurt she'd been harbouring for so long, Gabrielle turned to Xena. "Let's walk a bit." She quietly murmured, as she gestured towards a bench at the end of a secluded path. She didn't look backwards to see whether Xena was following her. She knew that she was.
As they walked, Gabrielle noticed the leaves glistening under the moonlight. A frown appeared on her brow, as she realised she hadn't noticed such things for many years.
She started to walk away, her short blond bangs moving gently with the slight breeze of the temperate night. She was only wearing a flimsy white blouse, and if she wasn't a vampire, she may have been a little chilled.
"You have a beautiful house." she heard from behind and laughed.
"Please Xena, you were never one for small talk, so don't start now." Gabrielle smiled ruefully. "Just tell me what happened to you that was so important, you chose to break my heart."
She experienced a guilty pleasure at watching Xena flinch with those words. Observing as her shoulders dropped. It was as though her entire body was deflating right in front of her eyes.
"I guess I deserve that Gabrielle. " Xena took the proffered seat on the stone bench, kicking a few stones away with her boots.
Her eyes closed, as she went back to the time she broke Gabrielle's heart, and almost destroyed her own in the process. Back to the time her life became a living hell.
Xena couldn't shake off the feeling of being watched. The hair on the nape of her neck was standing on end, and made her feel as though her skin was literally crawling every second of the day. This had been going on for over two weeks now. Yet, despite her very best efforts, she couldn't see a thing. Her instincts had never, ever been wrong before, and she couldn't believe they were wrong now, but a nagging doubt was beginning in her mind. Was she losing it? Had the skills she'd spent so many hard years honing to as near perfection as possible, finally let her down?
So far, her extra vigilance had gone unnoticed by Gabrielle. She didn't want to frighten her after all. Especially as she couldn't prove that anything was actually wrong. But Gabrielle knew her better than anyone in this world, and was certain to detect her growing unease if she couldn't resolve this problem soon. In fact, Xena was amazed that her intuitive little bard hadn't noticed her increasing edginess by now.
One evening her sense of danger was screaming at her, and, feeling compelled to do something, she told Gabrielle she was going hunting for their dinner.
As ill at ease as ever, Xena used all of her senses to survey the surrounding area. Still she was certain she was being watched, but couldn't see anything. She was therefore both surprised and relieved when she found a middle-aged man was suddenly standing right in front of her. He was well dressed and had a winning smile on his face. At face value, he seemed perfectly innocuous. Until that is, Xena looked into his eyes. It was then that she realised, her enemy was finally before her.
"Who are you?" she said reaching for her chakram.
He continued to smile at her without even flinching .
"What do you want?" Xena felt an itch in her fingers as her body was suffused with adrenaline, preparing her for battle. All of her senses were alive, and she had no doubt that this man was the root cause of her recent agitation.
"I wouldn't do that." He said calmly and started circling the warrior.
"Oh wouldn't you? And why not?" Xena asked sarcastically as she unhooked her weapon.
"Because,........" he slowly brought his hand out from under his long dark coat, and with a little twist of his fingers he held the chakram secure in his hand "........ I'll have to do this!" He replied, dangling her favoured weapon in front of her.
Xena was totally stunned, but didn't waste time looking at her empty hand, instead she reached behind her shoulder, withdrew her sword and stepped back all in one action.
"I ask again, what do you want?" Xena queried menacingly, her sword pointing at the unknown man's chest.
He grinned now, baring some strangely long and sharp fangs. "You." He sharply stated and with another blur of movement, the sword was pulled out of her hand, and sent sailing into the bushes.
"Who are you?"
"Tch. Tch. Tch ... So many questions, warrior? All in good time. I promise to teach you everything, all in good time" He murmured gently, as the enemies kept circling each other.
"I have no desire to know ëeverything', as you put it, simply who you are and what you want!" Even without her weapons, Xena oozed hostility and potential danger for this man, should he make a single error.
Once again, he smiled at her, as though she was an innocent, but persistent child. He took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. "My name is Marius." He patiently replied. "And I'm going to make you immortal." Then, before Xena's mind could even process what he'd said, he flew through the air and landed behind her, holding her in a death grip around the neck. Xena could feel his strength. It was phenomenal. Unearthly in fact, which was her last thought as she was rendered unconscious.
"So, it was Marius who made you one of us?" Gabrielle asked in wide eyed surprise.
"Yes. But I didn't know what had happened to me back then. Originally I came back to you so we could leave together. But then," Xena crushed one of the larger sandy stones with her heel and waited, unsure of how to continue.
"Then what?" Gabrielle softly coaxed her to continue.
"I couldn't. I could smell your blood Gabrielle. My body craved it as though it was an opiate. I could barely contain myself when I told you I had to leave. I knew without any doubt, that if I'd stayed one moment longer, I would have killed you." Gabrielle could hear in the way Xena spoke those words how much pain the memory was causing her. It was then that she realised Xena still cared for her, and the motivation for her action so many years ago.
"I'm so sorry Gabrielle." Xena looked away as her voice broke with emotion.
"I guess I know now what you mean. I felt just the same, after, you know, I was turned."
"He didn't teach me anything for a few weeks. He just watched me. Enjoying my pain. He took so much pleasure out of how I was suffering. My first feed was a deer and it was so disgusting."
Gabrielle smiled for the first time since they'd met and this time it almost reached her eyes. She remembered all too well, like it was yesterday in fact, how she'd felt immediately after her metamorphosis.
"I thought I'd never see you again." Xena choked, and now the ruby tears ran freely. Ashamed of her own actions and embarrassed at her emotions, she stood and tried to compose herself.
Gabrielle just watched her.
After a moment Xena began to explain more.
After he'd made her one of his own kind, an immortal, a vampire, he'd left. Xena didn't know what was happening to her. Her body shook with cramps and she was wracked with pain until, finally, she'd fainted. When she'd regained consciousness, Marius was nowhere in sight. She was aware of his presence, but was unable to actually see him as he observed her every step. Like a proud father would watch his offspring.
Xena chose to totally ignore him.
Marius was sure she'd make it on her own, and that would make her even stronger. He trusted her instincts, just as he trusted his own, and the joy of watching her as she adjusted to the wonderful gift he'd bestowed upon her made him feel alive for the first time in centuries.
Xena first became aware of how acute her senses had become. She could hear rabbits across the other side of the woods, and even hear a squirrel's heartbeat over a mile away.
Nausea threatened to overwhelm her as she dragged her body up from the forest floor. She could smell the forest, every single tree and flower, even the rotting vegetation. It was bizarre and stomach turning.
She stood for a few moments to orientate herself before taking off towards Gabrielle and their camp site. She was certain there were some herbs that could cure her, and a hug to make her feel better. But the nearer she got to the camp site the more her senses focused on Gabrielle. She could hear her heartbeat long before she could see her. Xena could almost see the blood soaring through her veins and she didn't understand the strange hunger that arose in her. Except that it was being caused by her beloved bard, and that frightened her.
Seeing Gabrielle for the first time with her new eyesight took her breath away. There was a multi-coloured aura surrounding the blonde. In other circumstances, it would have been breathtakingly beautiful. Though it was dark she could see her as if it was full daylight.
But then she felt the panic. She wanted. She needed. Though she didn't quite understand what it was she wanted or needed, she knew it was extremely dangerous for Gabrielle, and was certain she couldn't control it.
"And you left." Gabrielle uncrossed her legs, her tight black leather pants making a small squeak as her legs touched then moved apart.
"Yes. Gabrielle, it was the only thing I could do. I had to protect you. From me!"
"Well, if it helps you I know that too, now. But you know you broke my heart that day." Gabrielle walked up beside Xena and put a hand on the small of her back.
They stood like that for a while, neither speaking a word.
It wasn't a complete revelation to Gabrielle, because Marius had given her some information. But he'd conveniently omitted to mention that Xena was terrified of hurting Gabrielle, implying instead that she could no longer bear the sight of her any more.
"That Bastard!!" Gabrielle uttered out loud.
Once she'd thought she was over the hurt, she'd started looking for the warrior again. But without success.
"Have you been looking for me?" Gabrielle asked.
"Yes." was the only reply.
Gabrielle nodded, "Why now?"
"Because I can't live without you." Xena confessed.
"Tell me more." Gabrielle ignored the last comment and took a seat again, waiting for Xena to continue.
Closing her eyes, Xena took a deep breath and remembered what Marius had told her so long ago.
Marius had found her lying unconscious and severely dehydrated before dawn. Overwhelmed by her senses, and unable to comprehend or follow her urge to feed, she'd finally collapsed. He'd carried her near lifeless body to a secluded cave and forced her to drink of his blood.
Cold. So cold. Bitter, bone chilling cold. That was all that Xena was aware of as her body lay on the stone floor. Never in her entire life had she ever felt such complete and utter cold.
Warmth. Rich, warm, life giving liquid being forced into her mouth. An angel must be crying on her tongue. Pure nectar. She couldn't get enough, and found herself reaching for more. She was obliged, and drank until she was entirely satiated.
And so it was that Xena, Warrior Princess, Destroyer of Nations, metamorphosed into a full blooded Vampire.
Two days later, Xena awoke, whereupon she realised exactly what had happened to her. Her extraordinary senses detected the presence of Marius, and her rage instantly found a target. Without warning, she leapt at her nemesis, only to find that she was clutching at thin air. Marius was gone. Bewildered, she looked around, and found him behind her, smiling.
"Warrior why don't we just sit down and talk?" Marius laughed, as he agilely avoided one blow after another from Xena.
"I have no desire to speak with you Marius, believe me when I say that you have absolutely nothing I wish to hear. All I want is your throat in my hands!" But he still kept side-stepping her with apparent ease. She was just beginning to despair, when she noticed that she was getting closer each time. Then she realised, her mind was adjusting to the increased speed of optical senses.
Arrogantly folding his arms in front of him, Marius side-stepped another punch from Xena, before he caught her fist with ease and just held her hand still.
"Please?" He added and gave her one of his easy smiles.
Exasperated, but knowing that she couldn't win just yet, Xena surrendered. Her time would come. Oh yes, of that she was now absolutely certain.
"Then explain!" She hissed at him, yanking her fist out of his hand.
"As you wish." He gestured towards two larger rocks near the fireplace and waited for Xena to sit, before he followed suit.
"As you might have noticed by now, I'm not like others. And now you're not either. I have given you the most wonderful gift. A gift which is desired by so many, that it's price is beyond measure. I've made you like me, like my kind, and now you too will live forever. You're immortal Xena." He looked so pleased with himself.
Xena's face remained non committal . It wasn't the first time she'd heard that speech, though she had to admit it did sound different from Ares' usual proposal.
"Why me?" she asked.
"Because you'll make an excellent companion." He replied.
"I already have a companion and I don't want to trade. Especially for you. So, I ask you again. Why me?"
"Not any more."
"Not any more what?" .
"You don't have a companion any longer my dear."
Marius smiled and casually admired his fingernails as he considered the point he'd scored with Xena. He was suddenly shaken from his arrogant complacency however, when Xena leaped at him again, this time, barely missing him.
She was good, he had to admit that. If he hadn't reacted so instantly, she would have actually made physical contact with him. Even though she was an infant by immortal standards, she was learning to use her abilities at an astonishing rate.
"Calm down, warrior." He held her fist yet again, and it took more and more effort to keep it steady.
"I've been travelling this world for many years now, and I've never met anybody quite as interesting as you, my dear. There are not many of my kind left you know." Marius eased the force on Xena's hand and slowly lowered it before he let go.
"And what does that have to do with me?"
"You have a strong warrior's genes Xena. You'll help me to maintain the purest bloodlines. Help keep us strong."
"And why would I do that?"
"Because you're a survivor." He smirked.
"How did you find me ?" Gabrielle tried to ease the tension a little when she felt Xena withdraw.
"I saw one of your books." Xena smiled at the pleasant memory. She'd seen Gabrielle's name and a sketch of her bard on the cover of a book somebody had left behind in the park where she was hunting. Though it was written in a different language, it didn't take Xena long to learn. Like with everything else. She was a survivor after all. Marius had been right about that, at least.
"Then I will make her one of us if you can't live without her." Marius grew annoyed with Xena's behaviour. She frustrated him to the point of insanity most days. They were constantly fighting and, he was beginning to doubt whether he would ever be able to win the warrior over. For the first time in his life, Marius questioned the decision he'd made so long ago, when he'd forced Xena to join his world without her consent.
"Why? Just tell me why!" Realising he may have discovered a way to control her.
"Listen to me." Xena stood just inches in front of him and grabbed the collar of his coat. Her eyes were as cold as a glacier. "If you so much as touch her, I'll kill you."
"What's the big deal?" Marius straightened his suit self-consciously as Xena let him down. The intensity of her gaze unnerved him.
"I said NO, and that's final! I won't let you turn her into a killer Marius. She has far too much goodness in her heart. It would be a tragedy if I were to let you." Xena shouted as she stood and departed the inn in search of her next meal.
Marius drew an angry breath and gazed at his boots for a moment before following her.
Xena sat alone. One foot dangling in the cold river, watching the reflection of the full moon as it danced on the water's glistening surface.
All she wanted to do was take off in the direction she knew her bard would be. But she couldn't. She hated it that Marius was right. Again.
She still had much to learn before she could control how her body's urges possessed her in her new "life". It was hard enough to go into a village with Marius and quietly sit at an inn, observing their prey. No, she admitted to herself, she wasn't ready to go alone yet.
The first time Marius thought she was ready was sheer torture. Plain and simple. Surrounded by all of those delicious human bodies. There for the choosing. It was a feeding ground.
But Marius had taught her to control her urges to drink blood. It was essential to their survival that they walk undiscovered among their prey. He also showed her simple ways to make death look like an accident. Although that was pretty obvious to Xena. What was a revelation however, was that she didn't actually have to kill her victims. When she discovered that, she began to feel that maybe, just maybe, there was hope for her after all.
He did everything with such ease, that Xena found herself wondering exactly how long he'd been walking this earth as the undead. But he rarely spoke of himself. Of his kind, yes, but never about who he really was.
In different circumstances, she felt sure that she and Marius could have been friends. He was a true gentleman, with impeccable manners and a wonderfully dry wit. His charm was legendary, and rightly so. Everyone fell victim to his charms.
Much like everyone fell for Gabrielle's charm.
Marius had assured her that it wouldn't be very much longer before she could see her beloved bard. She wouldn't be able to speak with her, she knew that, but, just to see her again....
Not trusting Marius to keep his word at first, she had tried again to be near Gabrielle. She'd failed miserably. Even from a distance she could smell the sweet odour that was her friend, and the closer she got, the clearer she heard her blood as it pulsated through her veins. It took all of her strength to stop herself from indulging her new instincts. She'd returned to their cave quickly, before she did something to her friend that she would regret for eternity.
That was the point at which hopelessness became her companion.
During that night, she had killed not one thief, but three. She moved through the small town like a tornado, stalking her prey and then striking with deadly speed. And she felt no remorse whatsoever.
"Eventually, things got better." Gabrielle stared off into space, mesmerised by the beauty of the distant stars. "After a while, I stopped crying. I had no more tears to shed. Or so I thought."
She kept avoiding Xena's gaze.
"But I couldn't avoid running into people who knew you. People who knew us. So I kept on moving from place to place searching for peace. I didn't find it. I earned money here and there by telling stories in taverns, but there, too, people kept asking for stories about the Warrior Princess." Gabrielle smiled ruefully.
"It's hard to forget friends but it was impossible to forget you. Not one day passed where I didn't think of you. I longed to see you, touch you. I dreamed of it, of you, almost every night and I couldn't help it. During the days I could keep myself busy, but during the nights my subconscious mind gave voice to my aching soul."
"I," Xena started but Gabrielle stopped her with a motion of her hand.
After a moment of silence Gabrielle started to walk away, her long coat billowing in the gentle breeze. She stopped, and without looking back said "It's almost sunrise. If you want to, you can stay at my house. I'll ask the servant to fix you a room."
"What makes you think I don't have a companion?" Gabrielle took a last sip of her wine before placing the glass back on the heavily polished, solid oak table.
"I don't know. It's just that I haven't seen anyone around here, and neither have I noticed any possessions but yours in the house." Xena raised an eyebrow questioningly.
"Hmm." The blonde mumbled, as she stood up and left Xena alone in the dining room.
When Xena finally found her again in the rambling mansion, which had more rooms and hallways than a royal maze, she grabbed the bard's arm to stop her from walking away again.
"Gabrielle! What do I have to do to get you to talk to me again? What's happened to you, you're so, so..."
"So what?" Gabrielle tore her arm free and glared at Xena. "I'm not your bard any more Xena. I'm not that innocent Gabrielle anymore. The Gabrielle you abandoned so many years ago has gone forever. I've changed. I had to change - unlike you. Granted you're still the same person who once saved my life, but you're also the same violent warrior of old. Time has moved on Xena, but you're holding onto a past that we shared which has gone forever. It can't be brought back. It's over Xena. .... Don't you understand? .... It's over."
Those words hurt. Deeply. But Xena couldn't deny the truth in them. She just stood, with her head bowed in dejection. Don't let it be over. Please, by everything sacred, it can't be!
Gabrielle looked at Xena as she stood there, crestfallen, feeling her heart melt, and with it, her frustration turned to anger. "You know, I don't know if I should try to kill you for what you did to me or kiss you for finally coming back!" She yelled as she paced the hallway. "I want to hate you for everything that happened Xena. I want to hate you for deserting me. For hurting me so deeply. But I can't. I know it wasn't your fault. That you behaved like that out of love. That you wanted to protect me. I feel like I'm being torn into a thousand pieces." She added softly and leaned back onto the cold stone wall, holding her head in her hands. Emotionally exhausted.
"So do I." Xena replied and leaned on the opposite wall, never taking her eyes off her bard.
Xena looked directly into Gabrielle's eyes.
"What do you mean?" Gabrielle stared at her boots when Xena's gaze became too intense.
"If you have time, I'd like to tell you everything." Xena pushed off the wall and motioned for Gabrielle to join her in the living room.
They each sat in a giant chair on either side of the fireplace. Xena closed her eyes in order to compose her thoughts.
"I never stopped hating Marius for what he did to me. Not for a single moment. Thanks to him, my life was destroyed. I lost the most important person in the world. You. But even though I hated him with a passion, I knew I needed to learn about "our" kind, and he was the only one who could teach me. So I played along with him. It took me decades to get to know everything. He's not much of a talker, and his perception of time's entirely different to ours." Xena smiled when she saw Gabrielle wink at her. Almost like old times, she thought, sighing.
"Anyway, I thought I'd learned enough to make my move. He'd told me all the different ways we're vulnerable to our enemies. And I chose the worst kind of death for him. I intended to burn him, but something went terribly wrong and I ended up buried alive in the middle of nowhere." Xena shuddered by the memories.
"How long?" Gabrielle asked softly.
"Too long." Xena tried to smile but it didn't reach her eyes. "And when Marius hears I'm back, he's gonna be out for revenge."
"You can stay here as long as you want."
"Thanks." Xena sighed with relief.
"Sebastian, are you sure we should open it?" The bully farmer stared at the coffin they'd discovered while ploughing the field.
"Don't be a coward, Carl! Just look at how ornate this coffin is. I'm telling you, if someone spent this much money just to bury a loved on in, then there's got to be something valuable inside. Besides, if it's half as old as it looks, whatever's inside's long dead!" Sebastian got out of the truck and unhooked the ropes from the front.
"I mean, you never know, there might be jewellery or something else in there worth a fortune."
"But Sebastian! Shouldn't we call the police, or the museum? I mean, this looks really old, and we might make even more money that way, with barely any effort"
"You're just a coward! Come on you gutless wonder, give me a hand!" The tall, thin man said as he pushed up the sleeves of his shirt, and began to push the heavy stone lid of the coffin.
"Come on Carl, give me a hand!" He complained when the lid failed to budge.
Feeling slightly shamed by his cousin's solitary efforts, Carl joined him, and, together, they pushed and pulled, but it was all to no avail.
Sebastian walked around the coffin, taking off his hat and wiping the sweat off his brow with his forearm. "Look at that!" He whistled. He'd bought the land connecting with his field just a couple of months ago, and he'd discovered the antique sarcophagus whilst out felling trees for more pasture with his cousin.
"Wow! Somebody certainly wanted to make sure it stayed closed." Sebastian muttered as he absent mindedly scratched rust and soil from the large, deeply embedded screws.
"I'm having a bad feeling about this, pal. Let's just call the police and let them take care of it." Carl diligently wiped his dirty hands on his grimy pants, though whether they were cleaner afterwards was a matter of opinion. "It's gonna be getting dark soon." Carl trailed off. He was nervous and hoped his cousin couldn't hear it in his voice , as he tried to convince him.
Voices. She could hear voices. But they were far away in the distance, and she was exhausted. It was so hard to concentrate. Too hard.
Scratching noises woke her again . She couldn't quite place the sound and her body was too weak to move. She didn't know where she was, or how long she'd been there. Her mind was befuddled, and she couldn't think straight.
"Okay, now when I holler, you start to drive!" Sebastian shouted to his cousin, who was sitting behind the driving wheel.
He'd hammered two long nails into the lid of the coffin, and secured a long iron chain to his truck. Shouting he signalled his cousin to start driving.
The wheels found traction in the mud, and the lid of the coffin slowly began to prise open, falling to the ground with an earth shattering thud!
Carl jumped out of the truck, ran to Sebastian's side, and stood beside his cousin absolutely stunned at what was before him. Instead of a decrepit old corpse, they found themselves staring at a breathtakingly beautiful woman, who showed no signs of decomposition at all. In fact, if it hadn't been for the lack of chest movement, they would have sworn that she was alive.
"Who the..., What the, .... That's just not possible man, .... What the hell is that?" Carl exclaimed, stepping closer.
Sebastian removed his hat and leaned over the side of the coffin to peer in.
The last thing he heard was his cousin screaming in terror, as a hand shot out of the coffin and grasped him by the throat.
"How did you become one of us?" Xena asked when they got back from the hunt.
"Actually, it wasn't that long after you ... left." Gabrielle still felt a pressure building up in her throat, as she faltered over the word, and knew she probably always would. "I was on my way to the Amazons when I was attacked at my camp. I really don't remember much after that. Only that when I woke up I was in excruciating pain all over my body, my neck was saturated in blood and when I looked around, everything appeared different. I was too weak to move around for quite a while, and then I noticed I wasn't alone. A woman was sitting nearby watching me."
"Yes. I was pretty confused and I must have passed out because the next time I woke up, I was on a ship. The woman was taking me up north."
"Who is she?"
"Was. Her name was Aziza."
Xena's eyes opened wide in shock.
"You know Aziza then?" Gabrielle asked and got up to get them both a drink.
"I've heard of her."
Handing Xena a scotch, she sat on the mammoth arm of her chair and crossed her legs.
Swirling the brown liquid around in the glass Gabrielle went on. "I asked her what had happened to me. She explained everything to me as well as she could, and I told her I wanted to go back and find you. She said that wasn't possible. Nobody was supposed to know about me. My safety depended on it.
Gabrielle cast a glance towards the window and then took Xena's hand, pulling her with her.
They stood next to the balcony door and Xena eyed the blonde curiously, as she closed the red velvet curtains to shield them from the first rays that were creeping over the hills with the rising sun.
"I'll show you. But you have to promise not to tell a soul about this."
Xena was slightly hurt that Gabrielle felt the need to make such a statement, but nodded anyway, rushing after her when she exited the room and went outside.
"Trust me!" Gabrielle gave her hand a squeeze and Xena watched, astounded at how the blonde stepped out of the secure shadow of the curtain, and into direct sunlight.
The blonde smiled at her and walked back in.
"How is that possible?"
"I'm not really sure. Aziza told me once that I was special, but even she didn't know exactly. I was left to die by Marius, but before he would allow that, he enjoyed torturing me cruelly by giving me a few drops of his blood to make me suffer. Then Aziza arrived and saved my life by helping me to make the full transition. We believe that it was this, unique combination of blood that caused my special abilities, because both Aziza and Marius were created by the same vampire so many years ago. Apparently, he was a daywalker as well. But she never did know exactly what I was when she died." Gabrielle flinched when she thought back to that moment.
"What happened?" Xena took one of her hands in both of hers, and this time Gabrielle didn't pull it away, but gave into the comfort the physical contact provided.
Shaking her head to get a grip on her emotions, Gabrielle took a deep breath and directed Xena back to the chairs with a slight tug, sitting next to her.
"One night, we were out hunting in the streets of Paris when we were attacked by a foreign group of vampires. It was nasty. Aziza and I fought hard but there were too many of them. Their leader was vicious. It was many years before I found out why he attacked us."
"Marius!" Was all she said. All she needed to say.
"Once he'd captured us, he chained us to a post in the middle of the yard of his house.
Xena could see Gabrielle was physically shaking from the distress of relating her story, and leaned over to put her arm around her tiny waist for reassurance. Gabrielle leaned into her gratefully.
"We watched in terror as the sun rose. We were screaming. I was sure I was going to die. But while the sun didn't harm me, ...... Aziza began to smoulder. I watched her helplessly squirming in pain. Then, before long, she began to burn. The heat was so intense......" Gabrielle sighed and shuddered with the memory. "Finally, and mercifully, after a long, horrifying moment of agony, she disintegrated into dust."
"I don't even know how I got free of my bonds, but my revenge was feral. I ripped them apart. I walked through his house and killed every single vampire who'd witnessed her savage execution. I sat down afterwards and tried to scrape her ashes together, but the morning breeze was blowing them away."
Gabrielle sobbed now and Xena pulled her down in her lap, hugging the weeping woman. She knew nothing she could say would ease the pain. She just silently held her, periodically gently squeezing her gently to comfort.
Xena spent several weeks at Gabrielle's mansion while the bard travelled around. She enjoyed the peace and quiet the place provided, as well as the chance to keep a low profile among the other vampires. So far nobody seemed to have noticed that she was back, which meant that Marius shouldn't be coming for her. At least, not yet.
While Xena spent much time studying and catching up on everything she'd missed over the centuries, Gabrielle used her contacts to subtly enquire about Marius' whereabouts.
He, too, seemed to have disappeared from the earth.
Maybe Xena was lucky. Somehow, she doubted it.
Exiting the car, Gabrielle couldn't keep the smile off her face when she thought of who was waiting inside for her. Sure, they hadn't re-built their full relationship yet, and they were both fully aware that their relationship had changed forever, but they were growing closer again, and that was very much to her liking.
The sun was just going down when Jamal, her trusty servant, held the door open and greeted her with a smile.
"Welcome back, Gabrielle. How was your journey?" He bowed slightly, causing Gabrielle to chuckle, because they both knew she hated it when he treated her like Royalty. Playfully slapping him on the head when she walked past, she dropped her suitcase and handed him her coat.
"It was pleasant, thank you." She replied regally.
"Your guest is still fast asleep." Jamal hung up the dark leather coat. "There were a few messages while you were away. I've left them in your office."
"Thanks Jamal." Gabrielle glanced out of the window and decided she still had enough time to check her calls before Xena woke up. .
"You're free to go now. I can take it from here." She smiled at Jamal as he bowed again, ducking when Gabrielle took a small statue and threatened to throw it.
"Go have some fun!" She winked at him when he gave her a full fanged grin.
Slowly opening the door to Xena's room in the cellar, Gabrielle stepped inside. Xena still didn't feel safe enough to sleep in one of the upper rooms, even though they had thick curtains and there was no threat to her life, at least not from the sun. But Gabrielle understood that it would take time for her to relax, and was happy for her to sleep in the cellar, if it made her feel secure.
Watching the dark haired woman, Gabrielle walked around the king-sized bed.
"Hey!" She said softly when Xena stirred slightly beneath the crisp white covers.
The warrior's eyes flew open, and quickly took in her surroundings, slightly disorientated until she recognised where she was. Her gaze softened when her eyes fell upon the diminutive blonde.
"Hey." She replied and threw the covers back, stretching luxuriously before she got up. The silky material of her electric blue night-gown hugged her body in just the right places.
"I'm sorry, I didn't want to disturb...," Gabrielle started but was stopped by Xena's hand on her shoulder.
"Shh," She whispered right beside her ear, her breath tickling the small hairs on her neck. "Don't apologise. I like not being alone when I wake up." She looked at the alabaster skin of Gabrielle's neck and licked her lips. Not wanting to overstep her boundaries, Xena closed her eyes for a moment, and then walked to the closet to select her clothes for the evening.
Had she taken a moment to look back, she would have seen that Gabrielle's eyes were closed, as she too savoured the memories.
Gabrielle was suddenly startled out of her reverie, when Xena coughed slightly and enquired about her trip.
A few weeks later, Gabrielle arrived home from an appointment with her publisher, to find that the house was deserted. Xena was gone without a trace. As it was still daylight, Jamal was nowhere to be seen either. In the absence of anyone to explain, Gabrielle worried about where Xena might be. There was no note or anything to provide her with a clue about her whereabouts. Nothing!
Her mind wondered. It wasn't as though Xena could just go and visit anyone. She was still trying to keep a low profile.
So, what to do now? Gabrielle thought, as she slammed her study room door angrily closed behind her. The security system hadn't detected an intrusion in the house, so she was mystified. Gabrielle continued to puzzle and worry over Xena's absence throughout the day.
Well into the night, just when Gabrielle had decided to go and search for Xena, the front door opened and a tired and beaten looking Xena stumbled in, leaning heavily against the wooden door.
"Xena!" Gabrielle hurried over and supported her easily. "What the hell happened? ... I've been worried sick about you!"
"I had something to take care of. I'm sorry I forgot to leave a note."
When Xena made no attempt to continue, Gabrielle's anger welled. She had spent the entire day worrying about her, and Xena didn't even seem to realise enough to offer an explanation.
"You had to ......?" Gabrielle was almost speechless.
"Jamal says you were gone since three bloody nights!"
Taking a deep steadying breath, Gabrielle regained control of her temper.
"I'm sorry. I guess I have no right to question you like that." She excused herself and left the room.
Xena sighed deeply, cursing herself for not explaining to Gabrielle where she'd been.
When Xena didn't get a response after knocking Gabrielle's door for the third time, she opened it and tentatively poked her head inside.
"Gabrielle?" She took in the surroundings, entering the room for the first time. "Are you here?"
Xena noticed the open doors to the balcony and the long, white linen curtains that softly undulated in the breeze.
"I was just trying to protect you." Xena joined Gabrielle outside where she found her, gazing at the stars.
Chuckling, the blonde turned to her. "Protect me?" She raised one eyebrow.
Xena sighed when she realised how stupid that actually was. Gabrielle was not only a match for her now, but probably stronger than her. She could hold her own in any fight.
"I was trying to find out more about Marius. I kind of got stuck when I met up with a few guys who claimed they knew what had happened to him." Xena shrugged.
"I .....," Xena cast her eyes to the floor. "I might have stirred some trouble."
She produced a leather necklace with a medallion from one of her pockets, and dangled it in the air.
"Have you seen this before?" She asked the blonde who took it out of her hands.
"Trouble indeed." Exclaimed Gabrielle as her anger evaporated.
"Xena! Where did you get this from?" Troubled green eyes watched Xena carefully.
"I thought I'd found a lead on Marius, but it was a trap. I managed to beat a few fangs and get out of there pretty sharpish, if you'll pardon the pun. Marius wasn't there luckily, otherwise it would have been really nasty. Unfortunately I'm not a hundred percent sure that I got all of them. If only one of them's escaped I might be in big trouble." Xena winced as she realised she may have involved Gabrielle in a dangerous situation.
"I'm afraid you're already in more trouble than you think Xena." Gabrielle tossed the medallion back to the dark haired woman. "Here, the goat's head with the blood red eye is the symbol of a very old, and very powerful circle of vampires. I'm surprised you were able to take this with you. Usually they don't leave traces. They cover their tracks so well that, even I wasn't sure if this circle actually existed or not. Nobody was."
"And what's that supposed to mean?" Xena was puzzled.
"That, Love, means Marius is involved with the wrong group of vampires. I don't understand why, but you can be sure he has his reasons, and I doubt they're good ones. Those goat-heads have been trying to eliminate our own kind for centuries now. They're extremely powerful Xena, and I don't understand how you got out of there alive.
Answering Xena's unasked question, Gabrielle explained that even though Xena was an excellent fighter, the goat tribe were in a different league. They were ferocious, had been honing their skills for centuries, and were the oldest, most powerful tribe thought to exist. Ever.
"Well, then we gotta find out more about them and what Marius has to do with them."
Gabrielle nodded and smiled at Xena. She was pleased to have calmed down, and was happy that Xena was back.
"You know, I spent many centuries trying to forget about you Xena. Don't do this to me again." Gabrielle watched as Xena removed her coat.
"I'm not doing it to you again Gabrielle."
"And you're so sure about that?"
Xena tried to swallow the lump in the throat and just nodded. Caressing the blonde's cheek, Xena felt Gabrielle tense for a moment, before she relaxed into the touch. Feeling safe to do so, she pulled the bard gently closer and hugged her to her chest.
I'm never leaving you again. Never. Xena thought.
"So, this is how we all meet again?" Marius smiled and folded his hands behind his back. The ever present smile on the corner of his mouth however, failed to reach his eyes. "And there I thought nobody could survive a burial like that." He winked at Xena. "I should have known better with you Xena."
"Tell me, was it hard to lie in that grave for so very long?"
He was standing in an ancient church, before a huge crucifix. Gabrielle and Xena were standing in the hallway, between the pews. Gabrielle casually pulled her long coat back, in case she needed to move fast.
She looked over at the warrior, and felt the unadulterated rage that Xena was radiating towards Marius.
From the side, one of his servants snarled. "Master! We've got to get going. The sun will be rising in just a few minutes." The other servant nodded nervously.
"Shut up!" Marius shouted at the two small men, who flinched and backed off.
He'd felt certain The Circle were going to kill him. They did, after all, kill anyone who stumbled across their path. So when they offered him a deal that would spare his life, he'd grasped it with alacrity. The deal was simple. He was to bring all of his "children" in. As they thought that Xena was now the last one alive, Gabrielle would be a nice little bonus.
Turning back to the two women he smiled yet again, leaning his head to one side.
"What do you want to do to me, my warrior?" He asked, holding out his arms.
"I'm not your warrior Marius. I never was. And I'm finally going to make you pay for what you've done to me." Xena took a step forward.
"Oh!" Marius glanced at Gabrielle, unperturbed.
"And I see you brought your little friend. How sweet of you. Or could it be you can't handle me alone Xena? Is that it?" He goaded. Xena tried to control the rage she felt, but with little success.
She lunged straight at Marius' throat, her fangs bared, her desire for revenge evident in her unearthly bellow.
Marius anticipated the attack and met Xena in mid-air. Their bodies collided with resounding thunder as each struggled to be the victor. Both were determined to have vindication.
Both were determined to have vindication from the other's mistreatment. Both felt greatly wronged. Both were determined to win by destroying the other. Neither would compromise. Ever. One way or another, someone was going to die in this battle.
Gabrielle fought off the servants quickly, and then looked to help her friend.
She heard the battle before she was able to track it. Their flying, entangled bodies were a blur of motion in the small church. It was difficult to determine who was whom, let alone who might have the upper hand. Gabrielle was about to join the fight, when Xena struck a massive blow that sent Marius violently into and through the door to the bell tower.
Shaken, and realising that it would now be two against one, Marius retreated up the dark stairs into the bell tower itself. He knew Xena would follow and lay in wait for her at the top of the stairs.
Gabrielle was ready to join the pursuit when Xena motioned her to stop. "Stay here. He'll be waiting for us at the top of the stairs."
Before she could protest Xena was out the window of the church just as the sun's rays were about to break over the horizon. Gabrielle heard her re-enter the bell-tower from the outside, but it didn't sound like she had surprised Marius after all. Gabrielle decided she'd waited long enough.
As she entered the bell tower she saw immediately that Xena was lying on the floor, unconscious. Her body was badly torn from her impact with the wall that Marius had thrown her into, and it was a miracle that none of the sun's rays peeking through the wooden slats had caught her body. Yet.
Gabrielle tried to spot Marius, but he was good. She couldn't see him anywhere. Her gaze fell upon Xena, but just as she was about to walk towards her, Marius leaped at her from the ceiling, pinning her to the thin wooden wall.
"So Gabrielle. It seems that this is how it ends. You shouldn't be among us anyway! I mean, I left you for dead once, but by some freak of luck, you managed to survive. How remiss of me. Still, never mind, at least I've finally got the chance to finish the job properly!" He held her against the wall, suspended by the neck, his eyes full of rage.
Out of the corner of her eye Gabrielle could see Xena stir. Marius followed her gaze. Gabrielle wisely used his momentary distraction to strike. She hit him hard and fast. A lesser man would have been rendered unconscious by the blow, but Marius was only slightly stunned. It was enough, however, to enable Gabrielle to escape his grip.
"Yes, this is how it ends... for you!" Gabrielle grabbed Marius and lunged with him completely through the opposite wall. .
She could feel his terror as they fell towards the church grounds. He struggled violently to escape her grip, as he realised her intent. But he was too late. A soul wrenching scream was the last Gabrielle heard of him as his body began first to smoulder, and them to burn. Just as he was about to be consumed by the flames, she murmured in his ear. "This is for what you did to Xena, what you tried to do to me, and for what you did to Aziza you Bastard!" She watched the realisation dawn in his eyes. He hadn't realised Gabrielle knew all along that he was behind the attack. That was when she gave one almighty shove and he began to disintegrate. His last sound, an agonising scream.
Having no time to react, Gabrielle crashed hard to the ground, landing very close to the flaming remains of his body.
Shaking off some of the ashes, she slowly got up. Casting her look upstairs she prayed that Xena had been able to get out of the sunlight in time.
An icy hand gripped her heart as she entered the tower. She was terrified that she'd find only the charred remains of her friend. Maybe even only scattered ashes. Her heart leaped with sheer joy, and she almost wept with relief however, when she discovered her beloved trapped in the last shadowy corner of the room.
"Are you okay?" She walked over and Xena nodded, her gaze a little haunted. It wouldn't have been much longer before her toes started burning as the morning rays touched her.
"Marius is dead!"
"I'll be right back, don't move!"
"Huh! Don't move she says! As if!" Xena muttered petulantly, as she snuggled further into the corner.
Gabrielle hurried down the steps and tore off one of the giant flags covering one side of the wall.
Throwing the thick material over Xena's body, she led her tenderly through the sunlight to the rear of her vehicle. Protecting her from the sunlight at all times. Her eyes were constantly moving ,as she searched diligently for any further threat. There was none. .
Once in the safety of the dark vehicle, Xena couldn't shrug the flag off fast enough. She grabbed Gabrielle in a huge bear hug, and Gabrielle wrapped her arms around Xena's waist. Xena sighed in relief as she closed her eyes relaxed..
"Let's get you home." Gabrielle tightened her embrace before forcing herself to let go. "Come on, we have to get away from here before somebody shows up." She added apologetically, not wanting to let go just yet.
"Thank you!" Xena said as the blonde got behind the steering wheel. Xena then embraced the darkness of the van, safe in Gabrielle's company.
"What are you going to do now?" The blonde asked as they entered her house.
"I think sleep sounds like a good idea right now." Xena replied before she understood what Gabrielle really meant. "Oh! I, I don't know." She stuttered.
"You know, you're welcome to say here, until you decide what to do. It's not like I'm lacking space or anything." Gabrielle knew she was babbling. She knew she wasn't ready for Xena to leave her again, but she was too proud to tell her so.
"Okay." Xena said and smiled, not knowing what else to say.
"I'll see you tomorrow then." Gabrielle said, sadness in her voice as she started to climb the stairs.
"Gabrielle? Uhm,.....Well, .... Do you think I might try one of the upper rooms? It's just that it's cold down there." Xena pointed to the stairway leading to the cellar.
They both knew neither could feel anything like cold or heat, but neither commented.
"Of course." The blonde held out her hand and waited for Xena to take it. Gabrielle led, them silently upstairs to her chamber.
"Would you feel secure enough in my room?" Gabrielle asked when they were standing in front of the door.
"Yes, I think I just might." was Xena's short answer as she followed her inside, smiling contentedly.
Feed the bard J Mindwalker78@yahoo.de
and tell me if or what you would like to read more about in part II.
Story started 05/2003 - posted 07/28/2003
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