DISCLAIMERS:

Ownership: The characters of Xena and Gabrielle are owned by Studios USA and no profit is intended from this work. Please don't copy or repost without my permission, unless for private use.

Angst Alert: This is definitely an angsty piece. And it's post-FIN. If you like neither type of story, this one isn't for you. I won't be upset if you ditched at this point.

Feedback: Please! Anything your heart desires. E-mail me at zukeb@msn.com

Silence

By zuke

Her sword sang to me. It's the first sound that I heard.

I don't mean the first sound that day. I mean the first sound of my life. Despite my eighteen summers, I had never heard before that day.

I have heard the sirens sing. Heard a heavenly choir of a thousand angels. Listened as the pure tones of children filled a room on Solstice Eve. But the song of her sword rang clearer, sweeter, than all of those voices. Like the sirens, her sword assured ecstasy and death. Like the angels, her sword granted eternal deliverance.

I followed the song of her sword.

It sang to me a lullaby at night, rocking me into the arms of sleep. It woke me in the morning, ringing out a greeting to the sun. I came to discern its different tones and pitches. The sigh as it left the sheath. The whistle as it cleaved the air. The roar as it struck armor or shield or weapon. When it killed, it groaned, entering a man's gut just below the ribs or slicing across a throat, as if the act of killing displeased it.

The sword's sounds were the sounds of my existence. I thought they would be the only sounds I would ever hear. But she taught me otherwise. She taught me to hear so much more.

I could tell you of the wind in the sands of Egypt. I could tell you of the gurgle of water bubbling from a hot spring as snow falls hissing onto heated rocks. I could giggle like a goddess or laugh like a sailor who's been told a ribald joke.

But these are not the sounds that I grew to love. No, her voice is what I yearned to hear each morning when I woke, each moment that we were apart. Its low growl of warning, which rumbled through my chest. Its laugh, warm and rich like honey mead. Its moan of passion that always sounded in harmony with my own.

She could call out an order that rolled through a valley like thunder and then whisper a term of endearment that would nestle in my ear. Her war cry thrilled me. Like a loaded catapult, it held the promise of death. I will go to my grave remembering the feeling in my guts the one time it was directed at me.

Listen not just to the sounds, but to what's behind the sounds.

It was my final lesson. Should I have been surprised? I don't think so. When I met her, I heard for the first time. And then she taught me more: to hear the world behind the sounds.

Should I hate her for this gift that she bequeathed to me? Did she know that it would be her last? I admit that I have cursed her. I confess that I have shouted her name, wished her to Hades, railed against her ghostly shape as it faded with the dawn. But my heart cannot hold the anger. It runs away like water through a sieve.

Her sword sang to me. And she cannot be blamed that with her death, the only sound I hearů

is silence.

The end

Copyright Feb 2004

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