Copyright May 2004 by Julia Noel Goldman aka Xena's Little Bitch
Disclaimers: I don't own the characters, I just love writing about them. This story includes some 'lesbian content.'
Description: A post-FIN story set in the present day, explaining (among other things) how Xena didn't really die in Japan. It's also what I really think happened.
Thanks to: The Bardic Circle, and to Cammers.
Didja like it? MiladyCo@aol.com
'Can't you turn it down a little? I'm trying to write,' I say for the millionth time tonight. Xena presses the volume button on the remote control once. It's just past midnight and she's sitting on the foot of the bed, staring into the television.
'Come on, Xena, just a little more?'
She turns it down one more notch and I figure I have to be satisfied with that for the moment. Since we got this huge television set and all these new channels last month, I'm not sure if I've actually used the remote more than five times. She has in fact challenged me to get it from her, and I will. One way or the other. I resettle in bed, press my back up against the backrest, take a sip of beer, and return to trying to write in my journal. My thoughts are scattered so I look around the room to try to center myself. The walls are painted a dark rose and our favorite pieces of artwork hang on them. The windows house purple velvet curtains, and there's more than two days worth of clothing on the floor.
'You're not paying attention,' Xena says. I look up from the computer and into the television screen at some newscaster's face, then at her. She's wearing a thick blue bathrobe and her hair is a mess. It's been days since the last time she bathed. She's become obsessed with this war, even though she's not actually fighting in it.
'More bombings. This time in Spain. Yes. I heard.' I sip my beer and look at the clock again. It's getting late, but I don't feel tired.
'Your indifference is certainly out of character, Gabrielle.'
'The news is always the same.' Or perhaps I have one of the world's first and most long lasting cases of post-traumatic stress disorder.
'It's insane. Why don't they ever seem to learn?' She glares at the television.
Like she can't answer that question herself. In today's world, there is no more need for Ares; men themselves have become the essence of war, and there are too many battles to be fought. But we fought them, of course, up until about forty years ago, when even Xena finally admitted that fighting violence with violence was hopeless. I tried not to be too smug about that, I really did. I think it was, in the end, our experiences in the civil rights and hippie movements in the United States in the 1960's, and our discussions about the death penalty. My argument was; how can you kill someone as punishment for killing someone? If killing is wrong, then killing is wrong. End of subject. I would never have imagined I'd one day remember the sixties as a time when things made sense.
Since then, for the most part, we have lived oh the edge of society, eventually settling here in the U. S., smack in the middle of the country, where our nearest neighbors are miles away and live on a reservation. This is a country created by people who fled tyranny only to come here and commit genocide without a second thought. And they call it the land of the free and the home of the brave!
Our lives are simple right now: I farm, and she hunts, we make things to sell and trade. Though we like to think of ourselves as living outside society, we do use electricity, and we've learned the hard way the necessity of having legal identities. Most recently there was the marijuana bust, (what kind of country would make it illegal to grow such a healing herb on your own land?) but that's not the least of our entanglements with the law in recent years. There was that incident at the San Diego Zoo, and I'm still trying to forget Xena's actions during prohibition. We were used to a more lawless world, back in the old days. We didn't completely realize then that some of the ways we were helping people live safer lives would eventually lead to the creation of corrupt police and unethical lawyers and endless, confusing laws that can jail the innocent and let the guilty go free.
'Are you listening to these idiots?' Xena asks me, 'They just don't make any sense. They lie, they contradict themselves, and they think nobody notices. Well I notice!'
'I do too, Xena, and the fact that so many people seem to think that what's going on is okay scares me so much that I just don't want to watch. The whole situation is terrifying. The president is terrifying.'
'He's a vile joke. Even Stalin and Caligula were better leaders.'
'Hell, even at your worst you were a better leader than the monkey sock puppet.'
She nods vaguely and turns back to the TV. I return to my journal.
As this new yet endless war rages in the Middle East, I can't help but contemplate the past. I can sense a change coming but I don't know what it will be. Still after all these years I think best when I am writing, or after having written, when I read my own thoughts. From scrolls to blank books, through my first typewriter, and now this out-dated lap top computer, writing has always been the thing that defined me. I am a writer. I write.
'Would you make popcorn?'
'Just put the popcorn in the microwave and press the button, Xena. '
'Like I don't know that,' she says sweetly, 'I just thought it would be nice to have some popcorn without having to stop watching TV.'
She smiles at me. I get up to make the popcorn. Our kitchen is large with huge picture windows and butcher block surfaces. So many different machines to make cooking easier and faster. Gone are the days of skinning rabbits by the fire. I gotta admit I don't miss the skinning, but the fires sure were nice sometimes. Back in the day... I stare out of the window into the night as the popcorn pops, and think about those early days when Xena and I were just getting to know each other. She was so closed off, so cryptic, so wary of emotion. I would just watch her, for hours, trying to imagine what she was thinking. From the moment I saw her, she captured my imagination in such a way that I knew there was no other person for me on this earth. And now I'm stuck with her forever, I think, smiling to myself as I pour the popcorn into a bowl and carry it back into the bedroom.
In an attempt to distract her from the television, I continue the guessing game we began earlier in the day.
'Okay, so it's a woman we met in the first few years we were together.' Xena nods and continues watching the screen. 'Warrior or villager?'
'Great,' I pretend to think, like there's any way I can guess at this point. 'Light or dark hair?'
'Dark.' I'll bet she likes this game 'cause she doesn't have to say more than a couple of words at a time.
'Is she cute?'
'Not by my standards.'
'Hmmmmmmmmmm.' That could be a lot of people.
Both warrior and villager. Like I was once, back before, well, everything. Over time I have found that so many things don't really matter to me anymore. History is told through wars and politics, and though we have had many experiences of both, I know they're not what matters in the end. Not that there is an end in sight for us. We continue on as time passes, like vampires, like Ares, like the many other types of immortals you never read about because they stay out of the spotlight. There are few things I've never written of, and my own immortality is one. For a long time I didn't know how it happened, but as it turns out it happened, like so many other things in my life, by accident.
I sit and think and drink beer, staring into the computer screen. My love has fallen asleep with the remote in her hand again. She hasn't been this glued to the television since 'Xena' was on. I didn't think the show was so bad, but it just cracked her up every week--not that she ever missed an episode. I still watch it sometimes, when it's on late at night and I am pondering existence, but we never bought the tapes or anything. I particularly enjoy the ones with Joxer in them. He's one of those people I will always miss.
Probably I should go to sleep as well. I have plans for tomorrow and I'm so tired I can't remember what they are. Or maybe it's the beer. Xena appears to be in a deep sleep at the foot of the bed, and I decide to make a move for the remote. I crawl slowly across the bed, trying to make it seem like I'm just resettling in my sleep. Creeping slowly, as soon as I am at arm's length, my right hand shoots out and grabs the remote. I pull as hard as I can but it holds fast in her hand. I can't even get her arm to move, and she doesn't wake up. I will figure out a way. I do not give up easily. I turn off my computer and put it away on the table next to the bed. Xena's sleeping almost sideways on the mattress. All I can do is smile and curl up around her.
Drinking coffee at the kitchen table the next morning, I try to read the newspaper. Whose idea of news this is I don't know. It's not what I want to hear about. Xena is already outside someplace doing something; all I know is I was alone in bed when I woke up. Perhaps she's doing those famous 'drills' she's so fond of in the fan fiction. I laugh. The fan fiction always makes me laugh. Though much of it is as close to the truth of our lives as the television show is, some of it is just plain hilarious. But then of course, so is the show. But not the way it ended.
It ended most unfortunately with the story of our fist visit together to Japan. Many times over the past couple of years I have regretted ending that particular scroll just after Xena's death and her refusal to return to the living. If only I had continued to tell of her strange resurrection, but alas I began a new scroll for that, and the TV show left her dead for millions of people. Not the story I wanted to tell at all. Over the years I have tried to keep all my early scrolls, but we moved around so much that some were lost, and many of our hiding places were discovered and looted before we made it back to collect our things. Today we have a cavernous basement below our farmhouse in which we store acquisitions of lives lived for over a thousand years. (If only I had kept the Trojan Horse... there's no point regretting.) But the fact is, they found an odd assortment of my early work, somehow managed to cram it into their bizarre idea of chronological order, and made a television show out of it. I mean, how could two people fight for Troy and against Julius Caesar in one lifetime? I imagine they would claim poetic license. I would. Like much of Lao Ma's writing, many works of mine that did not specifically mention Xena, were attributed to other authors. I figure no one would believe me if I told them, but there are pieces of mine with Shakespeare's name on them, and other works that have lead to endless praise and awards for other writers. I don't mind, really. Only when some of the more modern movies replace the magic with ill-considered garbage. Then I get angry. But, I don't feel much better when I watch the 5th season of Xena the TV show. I mean, where did they come up with all that crap? Let's just suffice it to say that Antony romance was not in the scrolls. They took much of that episode from Shakespeare, the real Shakespeare. We were in Athens when Antony and Cleopatra died. But again I digress. Back to the immortality thing...
EXPLAINING THE UNEXPLAINABLE
In the weeks after the infamous battle at Higuchi, Xena's ghost followed me everywhere. I was sad and angry, but life was much as it had always been for us. Sleeping on the ground, fighting the various fights we came across, hoping we were on the side of the greater good. As time passed, Xena seemed more and more real to me. After a few months, there was nothing at all that indicated her supposed condition; she appeared to be as alive as she ever had been. Others could see her, she could be wounded, she ate and slept and breathed. I felt at that time as if somehow I had made her live again. That somehow through my love and belief in her, she was resurrected. At times I feared that I was wrong, that she was only a spirit with a human form, but is that not what we all are? I tried not to question it, especially because things were so exciting between us.
This whole new world had just begun for us a few months before her death, in Rome, in another universe, where we had been an empress and a playwright, and we had fallen in love. I remember the days after that. We had both been so quiet, so shy with each other, thinking our own thoughts about what had happened and what it meant. The next couple of weeks were wonderful; a whole new territory had finally opened up in our relationship. We were nicer to each other and we had more fun. Of course we didn't talk about it. We just let it happen. But somehow knowing that if we had met under different circumstances we would have fallen in love at first sight made us feel that perhaps those romantic feelings we'd been having for so long weren't totally unfounded or unreciprocated. It was the hugest, most exciting relief to think that maybe, Xena did feel that way about me after all.
Then she gave me that poem for my birthday. She had blushed as I read the words, almost as if she had written them herself. That night with the Helmet of Hermes we flew over the sea, and sat for hours on the beach eating grapes and talking and flirting and when we touched each other casually it felt incredible. It was as if, finally, the poem had set us free to behave more in accordance with our actual emotions. But then there was the incident in Japan, and we were sidetracked for a while.
One night, soon after we had discussed the fact that she seemed to be truly alive again after her death in Japan, she admitted something to me.
'I wrote the poem,' she said, between sips of wine. I was on my knees, tending to the campfire and I looked up sharply.
'What?' I asked.
'I wrote the poem. Not Sappho. I tried to see her but she'd left town already.' Xena was looking into the woods and I sat down next to her.
'Fire races under your skin?' I asked quietly.
'And I tremble and grow pale,' she whispered. 'Don't tell me you haven't noticed.'
I smiled. 'Well, not until recently anyway. I hoped, but I couldn't tell for sure if it was my imagination.'
'It wasn't,' Xena said quietly.
I felt my heart expand in my chest and I reached out to touch her cheek, brushing her hair behind her ear. Her skin was hot. She turned her head and kissed the edge of my palm. Warmth spread down my arm and throughout my body. I rested my hand on her shoulder and she looked into my eyes. I smiled. We both leaned forward and our lips touched; there was nothing else in the world. We kissed for a few moments and drew apart, the sound of our breath loud and exciting, arousing me in a way I'd never experienced before. When I looked into her eyes again, I could swear my heart stopped beating. I felt so happy it was as if even my toes were smiling.
'I've written love poems about you, too, you know.' I whispered, 'Maybe someday I'll show them to you.'
'Show them to me now,' she said, and pulled me towards her for another kiss.
We kissed for hours that night. And for days after that. After a six year courtship it was understandable that we eased into becoming lovers slowly. But as we traveled towards Egypt and further south into Africa, lovers we were, and there was never any going back.
We spent a number of years in Africa, helping people however we could. Then on to study in India again, where one particular morning I woke up before Xena and enjoyed the pleasure of staring into her face for a while, as lovers are wont to do. She looks as young as the day we met, I thought. And then I thought about my thought and realized that it was more than poetic fancy. She had to be at least forty but there was no way to see that by looking at her. No more wrinkles than a woman of twenty-five. But I didn't mention it to her, not then. Not until my fortieth birthday did I say it, and then only when she said it first.
'You haven't aged a bit,' she said.
'Neither have you,' I answered. And then we were silent. It did not come up again until a few more years passed and we were back in Africa, traveling to a village where we had made good friends years before. One night, while we were sleeping, a lion attacked our camp, attacked me in particular, and by the time Xena killed it, I was in terrible shape. Mortally wounded, incoherent, leaking blood. I remember looking up at her face. She was desperate, hopeless; she knew that I was dead. And somehow, I knew I wasn't. I'd died enough times by then to know what it felt like, and though I couldn't communicate with her, I knew I was going to make it.
'Why didn't I die?' I asked her one day during my recovery, lying in her arms while she fed me terrible soup.
'I don't know,' she said, 'I have crazy ideas, but they're just crazy ideas.'
'I think we may be immortal.'
I looked up at her. I'd had the same feeling but I guess she couldn't see that in my face because she went on.
'It's just that we don't look any older. And I don't feel any older. My reflexes, my stamina. I shouldn't feel this good at my age. People my age are old.'
'I know. We are the same as we ever were. Not that I want to test the immortality part again any time soon.'
'Me neither,' she said, but we did. Sometimes we got wounded or sick, but we healed. She risked her life so frequently it was only a matter of time until she should have died again, but it was seldom that she did, and whenever it did happen, she always came back to me. As I did to her. As we do to this day.
Why? For the longest time I just accepted it, that we continued on. The way gods exist because people believe in them, because people feel they need them. We have always been needed. We have always done our best to help. Did we become immortal through imagination, through necessity, through fate? Our stubbornness or our love? Or was it a curse, the kind that turns into a blessing?
Eventually I found out that it was through accident, another one of Xena's plans gone awry. I wrote of our exploits, and what people learned from them was of course their business. We were influential, and there was no Don't Try This At Home warning on any of my scrolls, so it was no surprise when I read of others developing our theories or improving our inventions. From the kite to scuba diving to diplomacy, I read everywhere of our influence on the world. When the Greek gods were still easily accessed, there were a few people who followed our cue and used Celesta's tears to fake their deaths for one reason or another, and as time went by I realized that none of them had died. Some I read about, some we ran into, a few even boasted of their achievement. But the one thing we all had in common is the fact that we had continued living long after our time should have been up. Don't ask me why. I can only guess that whatever it was about her tears that kept us alive when our bodies were on ice is what keeps us alive now.
Since we first met, Xena had always used her unusual strength and abundance of skills for the greater good. Now she felt the urge even more strongly, as did I. The fact that we couldn't really die gave us an excess of courage, allowed us to do things we couldn't have done before. As time went on, like all immortals, we had to keep moving, change our identities, build new lives, and this gave us additional opportunities to help. In some of our lives we were public figures, leading armies or taking the difficult path of non-violence. Ah, the centuries we lost in Russia!
Sometimes I feel like we have given up. Like we have come to the end of our ridiculous feeling that we could really change the world. Sure, every little bit counts, every life saved, every bad guy converted to good, but it never seems like it's enough. The losses on the whole are so much greater than the gains. Sometimes just living and feeling okay about it is enough. But sometimes it's not.
I am startled out of my reverie by my love, banging the kitchen door as she closes it behind her. I turn to look at her and she's that healthy pink she gets when she exercises. No one has ever looked so stunning in shorts and a torn, faded gray T-shirt--I think it once had the name of a prison on it.
'Drills, huh?' I ask.
'You're funny,' she says, opening the refrigerator and pulling out a plastic water bottle, 'If you're lucky, later we'll have Ministrations.'
I can't help but smile. She pretends she doesn't listen when I read her the fan fiction but obviously she does. No way she'd come up with a word like that on her own. I mean, really. After all these years, 'Wanna do it?' is still more her style. And it works for her, because when it comes down to it, I almost never say no.
'You're never gonna get the remote from me,' she boasts, 'I felt that pathetic attempt last night while I was sleeping. Weak as a newborn.'
'Ha,' I answer, 'Only when compared to someone with bizarrely super-human strength.'
'I'm very good at lots of things,' she says.
'You have many unusual...talents.'
'I am skilled in more areas than one,' she counters.
'You have abilities too numerous to mention,' I respond. I love our catch-phrase game. We imagine we're the 'Xena' writers trying to come up with 'I have many skills.' Of course she never had a saying like that, seeing as how she was a real person, not a TV super hero.
Xena sits across from me at the kitchen table and picks listlessly at a croissant on the plate in front of me without eating any of it. Her idea of breakfast.
'I don't have a good feeling about today,' she says ominously.
'Come on. Your skills of prophecy are about as good as mine.'
'True,' she agrees.
'Is it Flora?' I guess.
'Nope,' she says. 'Bad news is on the way.'
'If you say so,' I respond skeptically, like my pretended lack of belief in it will stop it from coming.
Xena drinks water and frowns. 'I'll be in the bedroom.'
'With the television and the Internet?' Her obsession with the war has lead her to the 'net. Like all good obsessions do.
She just looks at me. 'You got a better idea?'
'No. I just worry a little about you and the war. I was thinking of writing anyway.'
Xena stands up and walks over to me, pulling me up out of the chair., and I revel in that glorious feeling I get from her body, no matter the situation. My hands find the hot, damp skin under her shirt and it's so soft I can't express the pleasure it gives me to touch it. I raise my face to meet hers and she strokes my cheek with her own, giving me the chills, and then she kisses me. I'm not in control of my gentle 'mmmm''s of pleasure; kissing her is just delicious. Her lips are just so soft. After a few minutes I feel her begin to pull away and I sigh as our bodies part.
'See you later,' she says, with a flirtatious smile.
'Can't wait,' I answer, and it's practically true.
PASSING THE AFTERNOON
I spend the next few hours in my study trying to write. It's a square room with a big window, the wooden desk I purchased in England a couple hundred years ago, a leather chair with wheels, and full bookshelves against the wall behind me. On the rest of the walls hang antique tapestries, dark colors, extinct animals. It's a serious writer's study, I like to think.
Suddenly it comes to me; I could write the rest of our story as fan fiction! But then it would just be fiction. But then the show is fiction to the people who watch it. They'd be thought insane if they felt our story was real. Too unbelievable, and not just because of the time line. I could write it under my own name, or is someone already using it? I type out my various nicknames and stare at them on the screen. I love it that our story touched so many people so much that they wrote stories and poems and plays and parodies about us. Some people get so involved in our journey, knowing it's fiction, and yet somehow some of them almost really believe that we lived, and I want them to know that we live still. It's just fiction but fiction is as important as history. Perhaps even more so because of the way it touches and changes people on such a personal, elemental level. The way the memories of dreams can seem so real that they are like actual experiences sometimes, like memories of things that truly happened. After a while you don't always remember what really happened versus what did not. Fiction is that way for me sometimes. I mean, if it affects you emotionally, doesn't that make it real?
I write for a while, and eventually I hear Xena outside my study door.
'I hate the war. I wish I knew what I could do about it. Wanna play a game?' Xena stands in the doorway, looking like she needs a friend.
'Okay,' she says, and turns and walks out of the room.
She sets up the game on the kitchen table so there will be no arguments about who gets up from the game to get more snacks. Familiarity breeds knowledge, and in our case, that's a really good thing.
'Martini's?' I ask, looking into the liquor cabinet.
'Works for me.'
Soon we're sitting at the kitchen table drinking chocolate martini's and asking each other questions to which we know most of the answers.
'King Henry the Second,' Xena says.
'Now he was a fine leader, King Henry.'
'Umm.' I answer, remembering hours spent in his throne room, zoning out while he and Xena talked politics. It was so cold in England before electricity. Like when I was pregnant and--oh those were bad times! Dahok was a foul, cruel creature. I never had another child, I mean, a real child of my own. As immortals, it appears we are no longer able to conceive. We've tried. I have always wanted so much to truly be a mother, so we've tried on more than one occasion in more than one way, but it never took. But I accept it now. If that's the price of forever with Xena, then so be it. There were many times, though, where we were mothers for a while, to lost children all over the world who needed taking care of. We kept them safe, grew them up, and then let them fly free. Illegal adoption or even kidnapping, they'd probably call it in the courts.
'You're really lost in your thoughts today, Gabrielle,' Xena says, and I look at her.
'Sorry. This game always brings back so many memories.'
'I know. I'm sorry.'
I smile. She knows England equals Dahok for me every time. 'Roll again.'
Xena rolls and lands on arts and literature.
I read her question to myself and groan. 'Who pulled the sword from the stone?'
'Me!' she says, as she always does when the question comes up anywhere. 'King Arthur. Do you think I woulda been him if we'd died and been reincarnated?'
'Anything is possible. Roll again.'
She grins at me. The game is putting her in a better mood. That and the martini's. Or maybe it's just that she's winning. She rolls the dice again and lands on science, her favorite category after history.
I am startled by a knock on the kitchen door. Xena, of course, is not.
'It's the bad news,' she explains, the game instantly forgotten.
ENTERTAINING A VISITOR
In one motion, Xena stands up, moves across the kitchen, and opens the door. From my vantage point I can see that it is White Feather, and he doesn't look happy. Not that he ever looks happy. Though he wears jeans and a denim shirt, it's clear from his long, white, beaded braids, that he is not just any man. He is a Great One, and a shaman, and that means he has visions, and visions are not usually of happy things. Most often they are warnings of what might be, and you're left praying that somehow you can change things enough to prevent the foreseen outcome.
'Welcome, White Feather, come in,' says Xena, moving back to let him enter. I stand and nod my greeting; I know from experience that he is not a demonstrative man.
'Xena, Gabrielle. Greetings,' he says, his tone clearly stating that this is indeed the bad news Xena had anticipated. I can tell from his expression that he wants to be alone with Xena when he tells her what he has come to tell her. White Feather is not one to just stop by for a drink.
Xena gestures towards the living room, then follows him through the door. I sit back down at the table, sinking into the nerve-wracking but familiar scenario. Whenever someone has something they don't want to tell Xena in front of me, it's always something really bad. White Feather has shared his visions with Xena before, and they have shared spiritual journeys. She never tells me much about it, but she usually comes back pretty messed up. As there are spiritual things I do that Xena does not, I have to accept that her relationship with White Feather is something that isn't to be shared with me. She says the way he shares himself spiritually with people is in the form they need him to be in, that he is not necessarily as 'real' as he might seem to me. Sometimes she refers to him as The Great Spirit, and that's about all I know.
I sip my martini and try not to imagine what the bad news is. This modern liquor certainly is better than the crap we used to drink in the old days. I smile as I think of how things change and how they don't. Sure, the alcohol has been refined, but, after all of it, Xena is still a very powerful force for good. She always does her best, and still there are times when there really are no solutions. Is it really the nature of man to destroy himself? Is the supposition true that if women ruled the world it would be a more peaceful place? Will I ever stop needing to ask the questions that there are no answers for?
After about twenty minutes Xena returns to the kitchen alone. Her mood is dark again, and she seems tired.
'Is he gone?'
'Will you tell me what he said?'
It is obvious that our game will remain, as often is the case, unfinished. I force her into a hot bath full of soothing herbs and oils, and I light candles all around the bathroom before getting into the tub with her. She's in one of her quiet, brooding moods, so I just try to keep silent. Over the years I've learned that's the best response. I fall into the usual trance as I wash her hair and massage her shoulders. It's an old habit, something I used to do on purpose when I needed to touch her but felt my feelings were too close to the surface. I was so confused in those days. Sometimes I felt like she desired me, but then I didn't think she would fall in love with someone like me. And I was so in love with her for so long.
'I've loved you for so long, Xena.'
'Yeah. I'm glad.' She often says that. And I think she always has been, from the beginning, both glad and amazed.
'Remember the second time we went to Paris?' I ask.
'It was beautiful. I did love the way you dressed back then. All those petticoats and frilly pantaloons, corsets and garters! Ah, you were such a pleasure to undress in those days.'
'You know I still have all that stuff in the basement and it fits just fine,' I flirt.
'Thanks for the reminder. Perhaps after the apocalypse...'
After the bath, I feed her bacon cheeseburgers and pour her mugs of Guinness. Eating with her at the kitchen table reminds me of so many dinners together around the campfire, and in so many homes all over the world. These little flashes of memories come at me all the time these days. I'm so glad I remember so much, even the bad stuff. We even had a vineyard by the sea at one point. Oh, and did we enjoy our product in the extreme!
'Okay, so it's a woman we knew early on, a warrior and a villager, with dark hair. She would be attractive to some people but not to you.'
'Yep.' It's the first word she's said in hours.
Suddenly the answer is right there. 'Minya!'
'Alright!' I still get too much pleasure in beating her at anything.
'I picked an easy one on purpose.'
'Don't want to tax your poor brain too much.' And she still hates to lose.
After dinner it's almost midnight, and we sit in bed staring at the news with no volume on, when she decides she's going to talk.
'I hate the world,' she says, flicking the channels mindlessly and eventually settling on more horrible news.
'And I am full of hope. I think we've had this conversation before,' I answer, trying to make light of it, even though I can tell she's not gonna go for it.
'You know what I mean, Gabrielle. There is so much evil and pain and it never stops.'
'I know. What did White Feather tell you?'
'There was a Pow-Wow. There were visions. Horrible visions.'
The only people who wish for visions are those who have never had them.
'You going to tell me?'
'Fire. Death. Mass hysteria. The end of the world.'
What is it about people that makes them so driven to bring about their own demise? That curiosity that has destroyed the Earth's atmosphere in only two hundred years. That fear and greed that allows people to ignore the terrible suffering of others while focusing on making smaller versions of the machines that already work just fine. Xena understands it better than I do; why there are still petty warlords on every street corner, why there are people who don't care if children die as a result of their actions.
'Doesn't sound good,' I reply lamely.
Xena stares angrily into the television, like all the evil in the world is a personal affront. I've seen that look too many times before not to know what it means.
'So what's the plan?'
'Don't know yet. But we can't just stand by while--'
'Of course we can't, Xena,' I say, 'Our courage will change the world.'
'My courage.' She grins at me. 'Tonight we try to rest. Tomorrow we head out.'
'So what's the plan?'
Xena sits up straight in the bed, strikes a bold pose and declaims, 'I'm gonna find a safe place for Ephiny to have her baby. And then I'm gonna stop this war.'
'You just crack me up, you know that?'
'Yes,' she says, leaning in to kiss me.
It's not much of a plan, but it's enough. When one has faith, the greatest of things can be accomplished with only the simplest of tools.
I lunge into her shoulder, knocking us both onto the floor, and I grab the remote out of her hand. Victory!
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