Sunset Interlude

by Ximena

"She took my beauty and she mutilated my soul."


Disclaimer (and wee spoiler): In the alternative chronology of the Xenaverse, this interlude takes place right after Session 1 with Sappho, and might make more sense if you read it in that order. In the chronology of the show, Xena: Warrior Princess, from which the characters that belong to MCA Universal and Renaissance Pictures were borrowed, these events take place before the episode "Locked Up and Tied Down," and make specific reference to a scene in that episode. There is one small, but well-placed, instance of what some might call profanity.


Xena somersaulted onto Argo, riding the saddle hard until she came. Then she reined in the horse and went back for Gabrielle, who was waiting for her outside Sappho’s cave. Gabrielle looked worried and annoyed at the same time. Xena forced herself not to say anything as they meandered down from the green hillocks to the beach where they’d set up camp the night before.

At the camp Xena dismounted and got busy brushing down Argo while Gabrielle got the fire going for dinner. They didn’t say a word to each other the whole time, though Gabrielle kept glancing over at Xena, willing her to speak, or to look at her, at least. It was getting close to sundown and she wasn’t any good at catching fish in the dark, but she knew better than interrupt her Warrior in one of her moods.

The rhythmic stroking of the brush through the coarse blonde hair of Argo’s tail hypnotized Xena so that she was no longer standing there on the dunes trying to ignore her anger at Gabrielle, but far, far back in her own history, in another cave with another woman she could have loved almost as much as she loved her Bard. Back in those days, though, the old Xena would never have admitted to loving anyone, much less a gentle beauty like Thelassa. Oh gods, Thelassa!

Xena shut her eyes but couldn’t shake the memory of that mutilated face, the hungry crabs pinching and clawing at her body, the bloody arm which was all that was left of the woman she’d made love to just the day before. No, she didn’t deserve to be loved or touched. She had betrayed many women in her warlord days, but her betrayal of Thelassa was the worst because Thelassa was the most innocent, and the first--before LaoMa, long before Gabrielle--to have seen the glimmer of good in her cruel soul.

"I’m not as sweet as they say," she had jested in Thelassa’s bed the previous afternoon. Her army had arrived in the town looking for spoils, but her head had spun at the sight of this red-headed beauty and she’d decided to take some sport for herself before getting down to the business of looting.

"There’s kindness in you, Xena, I can feel it," Thelassa had said.

"Don’t fool yourself, " Xena rejoined. "I don’t have a kind bone in my body."

"Oh, but you do, let me show you, let me take you to where you’ve taken me, and show you the tenderness that you have inside you."

In those days, she didn’t care if women touched her, did what they wanted to her body. It was all the same to her, men or women, just a way of feeding a hunger. She always had the upper hand, always determined who and when and how much. But Thelassa’s beauty bewitched her, her gentleness brought forth something she had never felt. She lay back and let Thelassa love her, allowing herself to enjoy the soft tongue on her flesh, the probing fingers, the insistent hand bringing her over and over to the brink of her desire.

"Let go, Xena," Thelassa had said. "Trust me."

"I trust you," Xena had said. "It’s me you shouldn’t trust."

"No, I won’t believe that. I know what I feel. I can sense your compassion. I can see it in your eyes. Please. For me, Xena. Let yourself go."

So Xena let go, felt herself plunge over that brink and fall hard into a pool of icy water that flowed hot as lava in its depths, and suddenly, a pain deeper than her anger rose inside her like a Gorgon stirring back to life. Her eyes glazed over like ice and she pulled herself out of Thelassa’s arms, shoving the other woman hard against the headboard.

"No!" she growled through clenched teeth. "I said no! I don’t give myself to slaves!"

"Xena, don’t. Don’t give in to evil."

"I am what I am," she’d said under her breath, "I told you not to trust me." Then, in a loud voice to the soldier she’d posted to guard the door of the chamber, Xena ordered him to take Thelassa and the other women of the town as slaves.

Outside, her army awaited her command, and she gave it. "Tear it down," she muttered. "I know there’s a prize here. Tear everything down till you find it."

"Take me and let the others go," Thelassa had said in the cave, not knowing how brutal the Destroyer of Nations could be.

"Alright," Xena grinned. "Tie her up." And the men tied her to the stakes they’d pounded into the cave floor, and the flesh-eating crabs came up out of the slimy seawater and she just stood there watching them gnaw away at her victim without even a smidgen of remorse. Thelassa’s eyes on her were like embers fading in a cold rain.

"How d’ya like my compassion, now?" she’d said before walking out of the cave.

Even after all these years, she could still hear the woman’s screams.

"Xena?" Gabrielle touched her shoulder.

Xena turned her back on Gabrielle to hide the tears clouding up her eyes.

"I’m sorry, Xena. I didn’t know going to see Sappho was going to upset you so much."

She shook her head. Aw, Gabrielle, she thought, you did nothing wrong, little one, you just wanna fix me and I’m beyond fixing. "I was just remembering something, that’s all," she said. "I’m not upset, least, not at you."

Gabrielle walked around to face her. In the last orange rays of the sunset, her hair glowed like soft gold, her eyes drew her in like jade lodestones. "You’re the most beautiful thing I’ve ever known," Xena said. "I’m sorry I’m the way I am. I want nothing more than to make you happy."

"You do make me happy, Xena. It’s me. I want to make you happy, the way I did, once, the way you do me, always."

Xena stared into Gabrielle’s eyes for a long moment, watching the orb of the dipping sun reflected in her dark pupils. She had to make up her mind about this and get on with it. It wasn’t fair to Gabrielle for her to keep withholding, but it took every measure of strength she had to take this step, to allow herself to be open and vulnerable, again. She knew she had changed and that the change was as real as her devotion to Gabrielle, and yet, she still didn’t trust the cruel warlord who lurked inside her.

"So you wanna be a warrior, huh?" Only by joking could she go through with it.

Gabrielle picked up her cue right away and winked at her, smiling slyly. "I’m an Amazon Queen. I already am a warrior."

"And what am I? Your slave or something?"

Gabrielle cocked her head to one side, hand on her chin, and thought about it. "Hmmm, I wonder," she said, "what kind of an Amazon initiate you would make."

Xena took her own cue. She unbuckled her scabbard, threw off her armor, removed the chakram and sent it flying into the sand, then knelt at Gabrielle’s feet. "Please, Queen Gabrielle, may I join the Amazons?"

Gabrielle touched the top of Xena’s head with both hands, then lifted her face. "Depends," she said, tracing the outline of Xena’s lips with her finger.

"On what, my Queen?"

"On how well you know how to obey." Now, it was firelight that glittered in the green eyes.

Xena swallowed hard but didn’t flinch. Oh, Artemis, give me strength, she prayed, then remembered she had still to unlock her loin-belt. Guess I should let Gabrielle take care of that, she thought, since she wants to be in charge, but already Gabrielle was making her get up off her knees and follow her to the rock-enclosed little bay where they’d bathed earlier that morning.

"Your wish is my command," said Xena, grimacing at her own silly words.

"The initiation ritual is pretty gruesome," said Gabrielle over her shoulder, tossing off her halter. "I hope you can stand it."

Xena’s jaws clenched. "Whaddya have in mind?" Now, her boot caught on what felt like Gabrielle’s skirt in the sand.

"A little of this, a little of that," teased Gabrielle. In the twilight, the Bard’s naked body gleamed against the dark rocks behind her. "Tongue lashing, nipple-pinching, finger poking, spanking--"

"Spanking?" The warrior in her nearly bolted.

"Only if you disobey," said Gabrielle, "now lie down and let me undress you."

Gabrielle pushed Xena back onto the wet sand and straddled her thigh. "The true test, of course," she added, her breasts hovering just above Xena’s face, "is how well you can fuck the Queen."

continued in "A Job Well Done: Gabrielle’s Diary"

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