Category : General.
Summary: The warrior surrendered as much as her broken soul would let her. Story set during The Debt II flashbacks.
Disclaimer: not mine.
Characters : Xena, Lao Ma
Notes: this is an edited version of a ficlet written for the 10,000 lillies battle held at LJ community femmeslash (prompt: Xena, Lao Ma, warrior surrenders). However, nothing too graphic (see rating).
Warnings : mild language (one word, actually, but just to be safe I warn).
Restless and uncomfortable, Xena didn't obey.
Instead, expecting a reaction from the raven haired woman, she braced herself, tensing all her muscles, ready to attack if needed be, for she had already been beaten by the woman once. Yet Xena was no warrior to fall in the same mistake twice. She would figure the woman out; she just had to wait and react to the movements she had already seen and replayed in her mind until they were memorized and as familiar to her as her own techniques.
A question of survival in the world she'd made for herself.
No response whatsoever. Lao Ma merely stood there, stillness feeling her features, dragging Xena's eyes against her will. Her face wielded both hardness and softness with uncanny grace. Almost to perfection, if such thing existed.
Xena studied the Eastern woman while still lying on the mattress, and mused: roles reversed, she would have put the pinch on the bitch and lowered her voice a few notches into direct and deadly warnings. But Lao Ma, who had the potential to beat her, even though Xena would make it more difficult now, was simply sitting on her knees, looking at her in silence, patiently waiting.
Showing no fear for the Warlord, for-- No. What had she called her? Oh yes.
A Warrior Princess.
Lao Ma felt no fear. No rage.
She was exasperatingly calm and obstinate.
She had not expected that, and after all the events taking place in Chin ever since they crossed paths, Xena had started to wonder about the real feelings moving the woman to accept Borias' 'hospitality' back in the tent, and saving her life now from Ming Tzu.
What had all that touching with Borias had been about? And then saving her, claiming she was a remarkable woman? Xena snorted at the thought. She knew nothing. N-o-t-h-i-n-g .
The even voice took her attention back into reality.
That of broken limbs and ragged dignity.
Of pain and rage.
"Xena, if you don't remain still, I won't be able to heal your legs."
Was she fishing to break her through her pride? Her pride was all she had left, and Xena was far from letting it go. She jerked away from the attempted touch. "My legs are just fine," she retorted, and as proud as damaged as she was, Xena stood up, pathetically limping towards the center of the room, all furniture absent except the mattress she'd been lying on, the red silken curtains, the jars she had hopelessly tried to break and the table in the middle of it.
Lao Ma gazed at her in silence.
The angry warlord fought, unbeknownst to her, the peace that threatened to invade her. It was such an alien sensation that her subconscious took it as a threat.
The only reason she had not killed Lao Ma had been that, had it not been for her, she would be a mass of flesh and bones covered in rags, beaten and eaten by ravenous dogs.
Lost in her hatred, she didn't notice Lao Ma approaching, but was surprised when she felt her hands on her shoulders. Surprised at her own reaction, or rather, lack of it: Xena had flinched at the touch, but not in her usual violent manner. Her hands had remained down. Disobeying her instincts, her eyes remained closed, focused on the warmth transmitted by those hands.
And finally she wondered if they could really heal her.
Before returning, angrier than before, to her rotten self.
"You are full of hate, Xena."
Gentle and assertive at the same time. The magic of her control over such perilous balance fascinated the warrior, who in turn, dismissed it to conceal any weakness Lao Ma could use against her, facing the woman with a faked hint of aversion in her voice. "Yeah, that'll be news," she snorted.
"Hate will lead you nowhere."
Xena turned, letting her anger take over. "Well, hate happened to bring me to Chin so far, so I wouldn't take it for granted," she said in a menacing tone.
Again, Lao Ma did not react to it, impregnable to any threat. Xena's instincts, so instilled and unavoidable, despite the doubts, had been working on trying to find a weakness in her, and so far, she had found none.
Lao Ma spoke softly. "Strip yourself of emotions, Xena. Of desires."
Then an idea came to the warrior's mind. Anger was not the answer with Lao Ma. Nor violence. Her insides smirked and translated into the softest smile she could pull. It took effort. Xena could not remember when was the last time she had genuinely smiled.
Shoving useless memories aside, she approached Lao Ma. Her crippled legs had not stopped her in getting Borias far from his wife and child. What could a woman do against her? Never once a woman had rejected her, and she loved that kind of control and the pleasures attached to it.
Feeling more confident, she stopped when her lips brushed Lao Ma's.
"Desires, you say?" Her tongue touched, just once, just for an instant, Lao Ma's lips, before she eyed the woman. "What's life without desires?"
Daring, Xena did not move. Neither did Lao Ma, who returned the stare, keeping it in place for the warrior.
"What have you conquered with desire?"
The question was simple, and honest. No irony or sarcasm colored Lao Ma's voice.
Xena chuckled at the lavishly naive remark. "What have I conquered?" She was about to reply with a vast list of victories, raided villages and victims, but, suddenly, she found no real answer. What had she conquered?
"If I respond to your invitation and kiss you, will you consider me your conquest?"
Xena stood frozen in her place, unable to move, unable to speak.
And for the first time in moons, she felt naked, and vulnerable. Stripped of the shell she had built around herself, broken with just one simple question. She was Xena, the lost daughter of Amphipolis.
What had she conquered?
She had lost Lyceus; she had been slapped and repudiated by her mother; by her village. Caesar had betrayed her; M'lila was dead; her legs, lost forever; Borias...
For a moment, her world crumbled, and a tear escaped while Lao Ma closed the short distance and kissed her, never missing Xena's confused and lost eyes.
It was soft and gentle, but at the same time, with everything that surrounded Lao Ma, powerful. Xena opened her mouth, welcoming the tongue and the hands now cupping her face, and hoped for the kiss to last long.
When it finished, Xena, disoriented, opened her eyes again. The gentle face was still there, lips curved in a slight, clean, smile.
"Let me heal your legs and help you find the way," she quietly spoke.
Surrendering, the warrior who still denied the woman Lao Ma saw in her, took the extended hand offered and walked slowly and silently towards the mattress.
For the first time, Xena acknowledged the red silk robe she was wearing. For a little moment, she felt human again, and, her mind lost in that precious kiss, leaned down and closed her eyes, letting the anger fade away.
Perhaps Lao Ma would not be able to show her the way, after all.
Thanks for reading, hope you liked it.
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