Chapter Eleven: "Truce"
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Gabrielle and Xena spend the better part of the night listening to Aphrodite explain Deerdra's relationship with the gods. After she goes back to Mt. Olympus, Xena and Gabrielle lay back and look at the stars while they digest this new information.
Knowing that she was right, Xena is feeling pretty smug. "I knew there was something off about her." "Living with the gods all those years." "No wonder she's so arrogant."
Gabrielle is feeling melancholy and numb. "Self confident." "She's self confident."
Xena rolls onto her side to face her. "You don't sound very angry." "She kept things from you, you know."
"She's not the first one." She glances at Xena.
"You always had a good reason, right?"
"Yes." "Everything I did was to protect you from one thing or another--from me." "What was Deerdra's reason?"
"To protect me, from her."
"It sounds like you still have feelings for this woman."
Gabrielle sighs. "I don't know what I'm feeling." "Seeing her standing over you, my heart stopped." "How can I care about someone who nearly killed my best friend?"
Xena thinks about holding her tongue but decides to take the high road. "She wasn't going to kill me." "Something or someone convinced her not to."
Gabrielle rolls onto her side and faces Xena. "Xena, you were unconscious." "You didn't even see me apply the pinch to her."
"I wish I had seen it." She grins. "Maybe she'll give you another chance."
Gabrielle smiles and gives her a little shove.
"I heard her yell and say 'that's one'." "One favor I imagine."
Gabrielle's mood brightens. "She said that she owed you two for killing Strife and Discord." "She wasn't going to kill you-- hmm."
Her reaction has Xena regretting telling her the truth.
Gabrielle rolls onto her back and stares at the stars. "I wonder where she is right now and if she's okay."
Xena grumbles to herself and rolls over onto her side facing away from Gabrielle.
Gabrielle is up early the next morning, before even Xena wakes. She's worried about Deerdra being alone after the traumatic events of the previous day. She checks to make sure Xena is still okay then creeps over to the ruins of Lorrania and that's where she finds Deerdra. Peering through one of the holes in the wall, her heart sinks. In what used to be the town square, the bodies of all of the citizens are lined up in neat little rows, each covered with a white cloth. Standing directly in the center is a massive ornate funeral pyre.
Xena has woken up and not seeing Gabrielle beside her, has walked over to Lorrania and has joined her at the wall.
Gabrielle is impressed. "She must have stayed up all night."
Xena is as well. "She wants them to have an honorable death." "I can respect her for that."
"It was all so pointless." "Aphrodite said that they didn't even touch the money." "They just came in and killed everyone."
"It was personal." "Whoever did this wanted to hit Deerdra where it would hurt her the most."
"Well, they succeeded." She looks over at Xena. "Are you still going to help her find who did this?"
Xena doesn't hesitate. "Yes." "Thousands of innocent people were slaughtered here." "This person and their army have to be stopped."
Gabrielle smiles. "Does that mean you're willing to give Deerdra a chance?"
Xena is matter of fact with her. "It means I'm going to help find who did this, period."
Gabrielle feels Xena soften toward Deerdra despite her gruff tone. "Okay." "I haven't seen her yet...oh, there she is."
Deerdra emerges from the main house balancing a large wooden barrel on her shoulder. She pulls the cork and then walks up and down each of the aisle of bodies as thick black goop pours out leaving a zig-zag pattern leading up to the pyre.
Xena knows immediately what the goop is. "We need to go, now!"
"Greek fire." "She's going to finish burning it to the ground!"
They hustle to the top of a grassy hill adjacent to Lorrania. Gabrielle desperately searches for Deerdra.
"I don't see her, do you?"
Deerdra walks up behind them carrying a bow and one arrow. "I'm right here."
Gabrielle gently touches Deerdra's shoulder. "Are you sure you want to do this?"
She strikes a flint and lights the arrow. "Yes." She loads the arrow, pulls the bow back as far as it will go, and takes aim. "And don't worry." "My horse and Argo are safe up here with us."
She lets the arrow fly. It makes a long high arch before landing in a pool of Greek fire. Within moments the oil ignites and the ensuing fire snakes its way around each body before ending at and engulfing the pyre. Xena softly sings the funeral song as they stand transfixed watching the once magnificent city burn. When she finishes, she and Gabrielle leave Deerdra alone to grieve for her beloved home.
Just Xena scans the hillside for Argo, Gabrielle's watching Deerdra who is staring at the inferno.
"I breaks my heart seeing her like this." "She's lost everything and is all alone now."
Xena is still looking for Argo. "Uh, huh."
Gabrielle takes a chance. "Um, Xena--?"
"If she behaves herself."
That perks her up. She gives Xena a hug and a peck on the cheek. "Thank you!" "You're the best!" "You won't regret this!"
Xena watches as Gabrielle hurries over to Deerdra. "I'd better not."
Gabrielle is cautious as she approaches the grieving warrior. "Deerdra?"
Deerdra doesn't look away from the flames. "They're gone and it's my fault."
"Deerdra, how could you have known?"
"All of those ships?" "I'm a thousand years old for petes' sake." "I should have known something was going on." "I was so stupid--and arrogant."
Gabrielle tries to get her to focus on something else. "Did everyone die?" Not a pleasant change, mind you.
"I didn't find Mary or her parents or Socair and a few others."
Gabrielle sees a glimmer of hope. "Are you going to try and find them?" "Let them know that you're okay?"
Deerdra doesn't see the glimmer. "No." "They'll live longer if I stay away."
Gabrielle hints at her plan. "What are going to do now?"
Deerdra shrugs. "I don't know." "It's been a long time since I've been completely alone."
Gabrielle takes Deerdra's hand. "You're not alone, you have me."
"Xena says it's okay for you to come with us--if you behave."
"I'd like to, but it would be to awkward."
Gabrielle takes hold of Deerdra's other hand and looks deep into her eyes. "Please?"
Deerdra's heart melts. She smiles. "I never could say no to a beautiful woman."
Gabrielle wraps he in a bear hug. "Thank you!" "You won't regret it."
Deerdra chuckles. "I sure hope not."
Holding hands, they meander through the field toward Xena. Gabrielle has to know the truth. "So, did you really know Xena's family and Cyane or were you just jerking Xena around?" "She can't hear us, so you can be honest with me."
Deerdra chuckles. "I do enjoy yanking her around, but, yeah, I really knew them." She stops walking and vigorously rubs her nose. "Geez, my nose...burns." "Uh, oh." Her heart feels as though it is going to pound out of her chest. She scans the hill side.
Gabrielle begins to panic. "What's wrong?"
"There's an immortal nearby."
Gabrielle whips out her sais. "Where?"
"I don't know yet, but when he shows his face, you high tail it to Xena."
Gabrielle won't have it. "I'm not going to--there's a rider with two extra horses coming up behind you."
Deerdra spins around thinking it's Socair but it's a ghost from her past instead. Her jaw hits the ground as the rider comes into full view. "Colin?" "Leave Gabrielle, now."
Gabrielle hesitates until she recognizes the two extra horses. She makes a bee line to Xena.
Deerdra's blood is on a slow boil. "Colin." "What Hell hole did you crawl out of?"
Colin sits straight and smug in the saddle. "Now what kind of greeting is that for a fellow countryman?" "Oh, that's right." He laughs. "You don't have a country to call home."
Deerdra's head is about to explode. But the fool isn't through talking.
"I'm sorry you weren't here." "You missed one heck of a fight."
Deerdra growls. "Climb down off of that horse and I'll show you who's sorry."
He dismounts and keeps poking the bear. "You should have heard them." He mocks their cries. "If only Deerdra were here!" "She'd stop them!" He laughs. "The fools just knew you would have saved the day."
Kaboom! "You miserable coward!"
Gabrielle nearly plows Xena over. "Xena hurry, there's another immortal here and Deerdra's going to fight him."
Xena doesn't see the urgency. "That could be entertaining, but I don't --
"He has Argo and Deerdra's horse with him."
That gets her attention. "Come on!"
They arrive just in time to watch the swordplay between the two enemies.
They use every move in the book. Slash, jab, parry you name it. Unfortunately for Colin, Deerdra didn't learn her moves from a book. She was taught and trained by the authors, Ares and Athena-the War Gods.
She knows this and toys with him. Ducking to make him miss then kicking his behind. Stepping back as he swings so all he cuts is air. All the while she has a maniacal grin on her face.
Colin's face is flush with frustration. "Stand and fight me!" "Or are you going to run away like your father?"
Fun time is over. Deerdra's eyes get big and black. "As you wish."
Colin steels himself, but it's over in a blink of an eye. Deerdra charges and knocks his sword aside, sending his sword and the hand holding it flying across the field. Before the pain has a chance to register, Deerdra slashes a big, deep X across his chest.
"X marks the spot."
The look on Colin's face is priceless. As he falls to his knees, it's a combination of 'I can't believe you did that' and "Oh shit.'
Deerdra sticks her swords in the ground then readies her horn dagger. She straddles the simpering fool and raises the dagger high. "For my family." She falls to her knees, plunging the dagger deep into his heart. A golden light radiates from Colin's chest, it slowly travels through the dagger- lighting up the Gaelic lettering-, into and up Deerdra's arms, then into her heart. A pleasant, multi-orgasmic experience that leaves Deerdra sweaty and breathless. (And two bystanders very uncomfortable)
It takes Deerdra a few moments to compose herself before she removes the dagger. When she does, Colin's body immediately turns to dust leaving only ash filled clothing behind. Deerdra uses one of her swords to probe his clothes and hits something solid.
"There you are."
She pulls back his shirt to reveal another bone dagger. His does not have fancy scroll work. She picks it up then joins Xena and Gabrielle.
Gabrielle is even more intrigued by Deerdra than before. "Wow!" "It's like you sucked the life right out of him."
"That's what happens when you take the essence of an immortal." "Our bodies decompose based on our actual age." "An Old One will turn to dust and a newer one's body will just lay there with a gaping hole in their chest."
Xena is also impressed, not that she's going to show it. She examines the daggers Deerdra is holding. "Two daggers." "Does that make you doubly ready for the Final Battle?"
Deerdra ignores Xena's sarcasm. "No." "I can't keep it." "I have to give it to an immortal I
deem worthy." "We ready to go?"
Gabrielle puts her hand on Deerdra's shoulder. "Are you?"
She takes one last look at what used to be her home. "Yeah." "Let's get out of here."
The three new 'friends' mount up and ride away, starting a new chapter in their lives.
Back in the spirit world, Ares stands at the crystal bowl full of water watching Xena and company.
Confident he did the right thing, her squares his shoulders and saunters over to a waiting Akimi. She smiles and extends her hand to him. He refuses and instead offers to escort her.
"Despite what you've heard, I am a gentleman."
She grins then wraps her hand around his arm and the two of them casually walk into a swirling white cloud and disappear.
(But Wait! There's more!)
Xena is skipping stones across a lake under a star filled sky. There is a rustling in the bushes behind her but she doesn't bother to turn around.
Deerdra steps over a log. "Back at camp pretending to be asleep."
"Did she send you?"
"No, but she is concerned." "You've been more quiet than usual these past few days."
"I have a lot to think about."
She sends a stone skittering across the glassy black water.
Deerdra still enjoys poking at her, even when she's in this state of mind. "Hmm, which could it be?" "The you staying dead part or the Ares giving himself up for you part?"
Xena ignores her smart remark but hurls a stone so hard across the lake, it not only skips but ends up smacking against a tree with a loud 'thwack!'
Deerdra attempts to be helpful. "No one forced Ares to take your place." "He did it because he honestly loved you."
Another stone goes flying.
Deerdra continues. "I've known him for a very long time and you're the only woman who's ever gotten under his skin."
Xena bounces a stone in her hand. "Is that supposed to make me feel better?"
"No." "But you can't possibly believe that he's gone for good." "This is Ares we're talking about." "He wouldn't do something this big without an escape plan." "His ego is way too big to let him stay away from the ladies." "To stay away from you, I mean."
Xena stops with the stone skipping and looks over at Deerdra. "That's true." "He could be back and causing trouble in no time." Xena likes that thought. He's a royal pain in the ass and can't be trusted, but time and again he has come through for her. "As long has he doesn't expect something in return."
Deerdra grins. "He and I will just have to have a little talk then."
Xena cocks her head and looks at her, wondering why she's being so nice. "Thanks, I think." "About that other thing." "How do you know about that?"
Deerdra goes back to being a smart alec. "I know someone who knows someone who knows someone in the spirit world." "Don't worry, that's your secret." "I have plenty of my own." She clears her throat. "As much as it pains me to say this, I want to tell you that I admire you."
Xena gets this nice attitude of hers now. She thinks: 'Boy, Gabrielle sure has you by the nuts .' "You've got a funny way of showing it."
Deerdra rubs the back of he neck. "Yeah, sorry about that, I wasn't thinking straight ." "What I mean is that I admire your ability to control your emotions during a fight." "I tend to let mine take over and wind up hurting the wrong people."
Xena smirks. "So I've heard."
Deerdra is ready to move on to a more appealing subject. "Yeah, well, we have one other thing in common." "Both of us would've preferred to walk this world alone while we atone for our sins." "Fortunately for us, we met someone who won't let us."
Xena nods. "Yes, we did."
Deerdra kicks at a clump of grass. "You do realize that at some point she's going to have to make a choice?"
Xena isn't worried. "Yep."
Truce negotiating isn't Deerdra's strong suit. "So, how about if neither of us does anything out of the ordinary to try and sway her to their side?"
Xena can live with that. "I agree." "Not that I'll need to."
They chuckle then shake hands. Both know that she isn't kidding, but they go through the motions anyway if only for appearances' sake.
As if on cue, Gabrielle burst through the bushes. "There you are!" She is thrown by the sight of them holding hands. "Is everything okay?"
Xena glances at Deerdra. "Yep, just fine." "We were just talking about how lucky we are to have you in our lives."
Gabrielle is flattered, but not fooled. "Really?"
Deerdra answers. "Really."
This is what Gabrielle was hoping for, the two women that she cares the most about not at each others' throats. "I knew you two would find a way to get along." She can't contain how happy this makes her. "Group hug!" "And I'm the lucky one here."
A sensation of strength and power washes over Deerdra, one that has nothing to do with Gabrielle's body pressing up against hers. She looks over Xena's shoulder in the direction of Mt. Olympus and grins.
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