The Last Time

by Gerald Pavano






I claim no rights to Xena. There is no monetary value exchanged and no connection with the studio. I don’t know them and they certainly don’t want to know me. This is not a zesty story - however if two women sharing their life together is not your cup of tea please move on or maybe it might open your mind.




One more battle:

The hunter becomes the hunted

by Gerald Pavano


            After the Yodushi disaster and Xena faking her death, could Xena and Gabrielle go into hiding and finally be able to start a new life together? Now it was learned that the son of a warlord was scouring the country side looking for Xena who apparently slue his father. Will their plan to be together succeed or will they eventually be hunted down.

          Over the years Xena and Gabrielle’s exploits had become legendary and lived on through the bard’s scrolls. Bar room chatter along with other bards spoke and sang of their exploits. They had now become the folk hero’s of their time. It appeared the couple had dropped out of sight and that was the fodder for conjecture and hypothesis as to where they were and what really happened to them. All these theories had spread throughout Greece and as far off as Chin. Many, but not all, felt Xena had perished and Gabrielle had sailed off to Egypt. But that wasn’t the case for it wasn’t the warrior who was axed but a decoy wearing Xena’s leathers and the ruse seemed to have worked.

            “So, the sword wielding bitch is dead?” “Beheaded in Jappa I heard.” ”What happened to the other one ” “Scuttlebutt is she’s headed for Egypt” “Good riddances to the both of them.” “A toast to our good fortune!” This was the palaver between five battle worn and scared warlords sitting in a dingy tavern outside Athens. A young warrior stepped up and joined the motley crew. Slamming his fist on the well worn table and spewing a flagon of wine on everyone he denounced their theory. “I don’t believe it for a minute. She is still alive and out there somewhere I can feel it in my bones.” “So, the son of Sentialis is seeking revenge because Xena slew daddy?” quipped one of the warlords. “If she still lives you’ll need the luck of the gods to find her.” “Better for your health that you don’t” chuckled another. “Aye, I’ll find her if it takes a lifetime and then I’ll send her carcass to Tartaris where it belongs” exclaimed the newcomer. “If she is indeed alive, your head will reach their first!” cautioned another wiping spilt wine from his breastplate. This brought on a round of hoots and hollers. “I’ll get my revenge alright” stammered the newcomer. “In the meantime louts, the drinks are on me. Hey bartender send sweet cheeks over here with more wine!”

         Sandaled footprints marked the hot sand as a small figure was making its way towards an obscure hidden desert on the island of Limnos. Instead of sailing to Egypt as the tales predicted, Gabrielle had secretly made her way to this large and relatively uninhabited desolate island which sat off the coast of Greece. She was making her way to what the locals called the sand dunes of Limnos  and it was here she would meet the one person that she had surrendered her heart too and would share the rest of her life with. Anxious, Gabrielle scanned the bleak horizon - by the gods their plan must work. Resolute through sand, thirst, and lack of shade she marched on.

            At the same time a warrior, after escaping from Jappa, was making her way up the coast by old hidden slave routes. These travels brought back painful memories of skirmishes and wars as she pushed on over the now unused and overgrown trails. In her mind Xena could still picture the carnage, the scattered dead and wounded the results that were mostly rendered from her sword. She pushed these thoughts from her mind. That was the past but now her future would lie with a bard who had stolen her heart and had become the most important thing in her life so she would push on.

            Arriving at her destination, Gabrielle sat at the edge of a small secluded lake surrounded by a few palms and scrub brush. Sitting by the pool the quiet and stillness of the desert gave her a chance to reflect on her life with Xena. Leaning on her staff, she gazed into the placid water. Her mind wandering on how the blue liquid had played such an important role in her and Xena’s relationship. It had allowed Xena to reach Tartaris and save them from another crucifixion. Then there was Cycrops the lost mariner, the sea battles with Caesar, Poseidon, the tsunami and their cleansing in Illusia. Of course there were more pleasant memories, the endless campfires, counting stars, bathing together, the warm embraces, the love making and the realization that their lives were inexplicably bound together for eternity. As she once proclaimed “ We didn’t make it that way, it just is.”

            While Gabrielle’s mind wondered over past exploits, she failed to notice a shadowed figure gazing at her from a near by hillock. Suddenly a voice called out breaking her reverie “Looking for someone?” The words were magic to the bard’s ears “Xena!” Anyone watching would have been dumfounded, no embrace, no kisses, they just stood gazing at each other. That lasted for only seconds as Gabrielle ran like she was being chased by a whirling sand devil and collapsed into Xena’s waiting arms.  Falling into the sand together in a passionate embrace, Gabrielle in a state of ecstasy babbled  “Sand up the wazoo again.” ”Yep.” was the answer as the passion became even more intense. Although not indigenous to the desert, flying overhead a group of doves - perhaps sent by Aphrodite -  soared overhead in approval. They were for all intense and purposes free for the moment from those who were still intent on hunting them down. Only a few knew of their whereabouts and the home they had sworn to create for themselves. It would be in Greece, on a farm, in the middle of nowhere. They discovered the abandoned farm house while helping Orpheus fight against the Bacci. It bordered the forbidden woods where no one dared enter. Xena reached out to Gabrielle and hand in hand and in high spirits they headed for what they hoped would be a new life for themselves.

            Two riders found themselves in the middle of an unknown forest. It was a horrible night and the two felt as if they had been traveling for eons. The gods had literally opened every cloud in the sky. The wind howled as the rain pelted the two travelers who were now hunched over in their saddles wet and miserable. Soldier 2 mumbling “ Why, why us?” “King Gregor’s orders.” shouted back soldier 1. ”I’m a fighter not an errand boy” complained his companion. The answer came back in a more authoritative tone “The orders were explicit. You will not return until you find Xena and give her my message. If you fail or divulge where they are you will be hanged.” Soldier 2 sotto cove “Yea, while he sits in a warm castle.Appearing out of the mist, the  forest finally revealed a defused yellow glow. In a sigh of relief, soldier 1 exclaimed “This must be it - a farm house in the middle of nowhere! We were lucky a few dinars loosened that old peddler up or we would have never found this place.” Wet and exhausted they were drawn to the light like moths to a flame. Soldier 2 was less than enthusiastic “This is not a good idea, are you really just going to walk up and deliver the bad news to the warrior princess and what about her blonde mate who wields that big stick!” “It’s an amazon fighting staff you dolt” answered soldier 1”Mess with her and it will be wooden teeth for you!”

            As they approached the farm house they caught wind from the conversation inside. A dish crashes to the floor. “You know Xena you have been wearing that same shift for how long now?” “Gabrielle I like it, it feels comfortable.” “ Xena, it’s, it’s old and raggedy and it smells!” “ Gabrielle it’s just broken in that’s all.” “Xena please listen, there is a bazaar in town next week with a little disguise we could sneak in - “Wait, you mean like shop shop? “Yes,” answered a jubilant Gabrielle “They’ll be so many choices and the color roz is in this year.” Xena, answering with a sly smirk, “Un-huh, sampling that nut bread again and can you picture a warrior princess in that color?” Musing, “Although it might look real intimidating on an amazon princess and her tribe.” Gabrielle answering some what hesitantly “Um, I wouldn’t go that far.” 

            By amazon law they were a married couple, they sounded it, lived it, and loved every minute if it. Being isolated as they were, villagers were not really aware of their exploits. Besides most could not comprehend or even try to rationalize their relationship. So when they did visit the local village, they were commonly referred to as “Those two.” Xena relished the anonymity while Gabrielle not as much perhaps missing out a little on the social atmosphere. There were times when she would sneak away and enjoy mingling and listening when she could to the latest town gossip. Then came a knock at the door!

            The top half of the door swung open. The face had aged a bit and the black hair was streaked with light gray, however the deep blue eyes shown as bright and suspicious as ever. (beat)  “What !!!” The travelers instinctively backed away. “Soldier 1 tried to compose himself “We - um -that is —“ The door immediately slammed shut. “Xena, who was that?” “ Salesmen selling scrolls.” was her mates answer. “Xena, you’re kidding right?” The door reopened and this time Gabrielle’s face appeared. The blond hair was now shoulder length and was also lightly streaked but the eyes remained so ever curious. (beat) “May I help you?” Xena in the background mimicking Gabrielle with as much sarcasm as she could muster “May I help you geeez!” Soldier 1 pleading “We were sent to inform you about Sentialis.” In an instant Xena was across the room and in his face. “You mean the warlord Sentialis? I killed him years ago - I remember that fight, sword right in the gut - went down like a sack” — “Xena!.” Gabrielle interrupted being somewhat irritated “Wonderful warrior princess, thank you for that great visual.” “Yes. yes we heard” soldier 1 answering nervously eyeing  the door. “But this is his son. He believes you’re still alive and wants your head. He’s combing the country side looking for revenge for the death of his father. King Gregor sent us to alert you.” “We understand he had sworn allegiance to the warrior princess and her bard” soldier 2 stammered rather shaken, “We have been sworn to secrecy - penalty of death should we ever mention we were even here.” Gabrielle recalled the time that her and Xena rescued the King’s daughter from slavers. He had sworn allegiance to her rescuers that day and he now proved he was a man of his word. Gabrielle offered the soldiers respite, to Xena’s dismay, but they had delivered the king’s message and headed out the door. They trudged off into the rainy night and quickly mounted their horses vowing to each other never to return. They were glad to be out of there being afraid of saying something that might set off the warrior.

            Although they had built this home together, they were unable to escape the past. Gabrielle sat hunched over by the fireplace, hands in her face and tears forming in her eyes. It was starting again everything she dreaded - being chased and literally being hunted. Again the past had reared its ugly head like a giant hydra wanting to destroy everything in its path - their future and what they had built together. “Xena, why can’t we be left alone and just live our life together in peace.” “Our life together doesn’t work that way Gabrielle, the sands of time waits for no one.” The bard could only sink into Xena’s open arms. They had both aged a bit but there was  still that small glow of innocence  and softness in Gabrielle’s eyes that could never be extinguished. By the gods Xena loved her while Gabrielle in turn had given her soul to her warrior. In Xena’s mind the one person, the only person of importance in her life, was once again hurting because of her past. Would it ever end?

            Different sounds emanated from the farm house that evening. Instead of the good natured ribbing, banter and squabbling associated with a loving relationship, the sound of wet stone against steel and armor being polished filled the quaint living room. Gabrielle was busy meticulously restringing her fighting staff and putting the final touches on a scroll she had been agonizing over. Xena, however, couldn’t help herself. “Hey Gabs, don’t forget the flying pan.” “That, oh great warrior, that is what you’re concerned about cooking with your juices?” retorted her mate smiling to herself appreciating Xena’s attempt to lessen the tension with her brand of humor. In the morning they would ride out to face their destiny.  But tonite it was just the warrior and the bard in the home they had created for themselves. As they lay together in slumber Gabrielle, snuggling as usual against Xena’s breast, could sense a change emanating from her partner and it worried her. It was like the wind, you can’t see it but you can feel it. This was a rekindled fire that Xena felt building inside her and Gabrielle, her consummate soul mate, also felt it.

            In the morning the  sun was just making its appearance as the two rode off together to face their fate once again. “Xena, do we have a plan for this?” For Xena the answer was simple. It came in a low ominous tone. “ Gabrielle, the hunter has now become the hunted.” Xena had rationalized the situation in her mind - “Just one more time, just one more fight - for the greater good of course!”

The End

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