By Kristian S. Fischer
Disclaimers and such:
Copyright: The characters of Xena: Warrior Princess are owned by MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. The Highlander Immortality concept is owned by Davis/Panzer Productions. This piece of fan fiction is in no way intended to infringe on anybody's copyright, merely written for my own fun, and hopefully the fun of others.
Warnings: There's quite a bit of violence in this story. There is no sex, only allusions to it. Harsh language? Nah not really. Plot? Not really either. This is just a vignette that demanded to be written at 3AM this morning, and who am I to say no when the Muse comes calling? She packs a mean right hook.
Chronology: A couple of weeks before Only One.
It came to her as she was riding the elevator down,watching the digital display slowly counting down the numbers. What the hell am I doing here?, Xena thought. She realized with a sinking feeling that she couldn't even remember the name of the woman she'd come here with, the woman whose apartment she'd just left at 3 in the morning.
The tall woman leaned back against the cool metal wall of the elevator and closed her eyes. It had started like so many other evenings; the evenings when Xena felt lonely enough to realize that her own company wouldn't be enough to get her through the night. So she'd done what she'd done before: packed up her stuff and proceeded to go crawling through the city's gay bars, looking for a suitable partner for the night.
It hadn't been hard at all. The woman she'd finally decided to take to bed had almost thrown herself at Xena, and the dark woman hadn't given a damn. She usually kept herself too picky to take that sort, but last night She'd needed something to touch her, to be inside her, and pretty much anything would have done. Above a certain standard, Xena corrected herself. The willowy little brunette had clearly been above that standard, but that was just about the only good thing that could be said for the whole evening and night that had followed. Why couldn't she remember her name?
The sex had been utterly forgettable. Nothing but wham, bam, thank you ma'am, Xena thought with slight feelings of disgust. It had been machinelike on her part, just going through the motions, the theatrical moans and groans almost pornographical in their lack of sincerity. She wondered if her partner had noticed. She must have, the dark woman told herself, nobody could be that blind. A part of her felt bad for the woman; she most likely hadn't come out that night just to be used as the instrument for some stranger to let out her frustrations. Another part berated herself for allowing it to happen the way it had, allowing herself to do what she had done. It hadn't worked, either; the frustrations, the anger, the loneliness, they were still there, like wolves at her door. The elevator gave a sad little bing noise as the doors opened into the lobby.
Xena stomped out of the apartment building, towards the parking lot. The night air was cool against her skin, but it did nothing to calm the volcano that was beginning to rumble inside her. With angry thoughts rushing through her brain, she didn't see them until she was almost on top of them.
There were five of them, all clustered around her black Ford Mustang ragtop, drinking beer and talking loudly in the quiet night. One of them was even sitting on the hood of her car, his booted feet scuffing the paint. Feeling her frustration beginning to boil over, Xena took another step forward. They still hadn't seen her.
"Hey! That's my car you're sitting on", she began, her voice a little louder than she'd needed to catch their attention. They all looked up and around in surprise. Then their faces began to crinkle in leering grins.
"Well, well, well, what have we here?", commented the biggest of them, the one that was sitting on the hood of the Mustang.
Xena mentally rolled her eyes. Was he really starting with the old what-have-we-here routine? She had seen two millenia and change on this planet, and every single time she'd come up to a group of men consuming alcohol and being idiots, it was always the same. When these fools got together in crowds, you could take their average IQ when they were alone, which obviously wasn't very high in this case, and divide it by five times the number of men in the group, and then you'd get their IQ when they were in a crowd. Always the same.
"Off the car, now!", she commanded, resisting the urge to walk up to the fool on the hood of her vehicle and pull him bodily off it. As it turned out, there was no need, as the man jumped off by himself at the next moment.
"Now now girlie", he sneered, "why so hasty? Come on over, have a beer and some fun with us guys". It was painfully obvious what kind of fun he was alluding to, and that he was just hoping she'd say no, so he could exert some manly control over her. The testosterone in the night air was thick enough to cut with a knife.
"I don't think so", she sneered in return, "back away from the car, and you won't get into trouble". The sentence got exactly the response she had known it would get: loud, mocking laughter from the whole group. Then the big man, obviously the leader, strode up to her, his cohorts close behind him.
"Oooh, you shouldn't have been so hostile, girlie. Now I guess it's just gonna be me and the boys that are gonna be having fun here tonight."
She didn't wait for him to make his move. Instead, he'd just barely finished the sentence when Xena headbutted him. She heard the satisfying crack as his nose shattered, and he staggered backwards, eyes crossed. He hadn't gotten very far when Xena followed up with a booted foot to his groin. His face describing an utter nightmare of pain, the man went down.
She had intended to give the rest of the group a chance to retreat once they'd seen their leader go down, but she didn't get that chance. The next one, a lanky blonde man, was already nearly on top of her. Using his momentum against him, Xena ducked under his attack and then threw him across her hip to go tumbling across the asphalt. His head bounced once against a curb, and he lay still.
Seeing their friends' unarmed attacks go so badly awry, the remainder of the little mob armed themselves. Two of them drew knives, the third hefting an empty beer bottle. She could see them take a collective breath as she turned to them, her ice-blue eyes gleaming with lust of a different kind than the one they'd entertained a few seconds before.
"Come on, boys", she growled, "there's plenty for everyone". That should have been their cue to run away. But that was something that also hadn't changed over the centuries. When faced with a single woman who'd just beaten up their buddies, men just couldn't let the sleeping tigress lie. They just couldn't, and Xena knew it. As they slowly advanced on her, she let herself surrender, just a little bit, to the call of combat that had always been with her.
As the first one slashed out with his blade, she grabbed him around the arm, and pulled it into a crushing armlock. Once there, she quickly twisted his wrist, until she felt the bones breaking and saw the knife dropping from his hand. His scream was quickly silenced by a fist to the mouth, and as he was going down, she whirled around and caught the next attacker with a kick to the throat that sent him reeling, gasping for air. Xena had pulled the kick ever so slightly, and so he would only wake up with a severely bruised larynx instead of not waking up at all. Looking up, she saw that the last one had dropped his bottle and was now turning to run.
"Oh no, you don't!", she growled. As the man had turned his back, he missed the triple somersault. He did not, however, miss it when the dark woman landed right in front of him. His momentum carried him right into her before he was able to stop, and she extracted a toll for allowing him to brush ever so slightly against her by kneeing him in the stomach, and then delivering an elbow to the back of his head that sent him face first into the asphalt.
Looking around, and seeing herself bereft of opponents, Xena slowly felt the adrenaline beginning to drain out of her system. Then she saw the form of the big man trying to rise off the ground. Striding over to him, she reached down and hauled him to his feet by the collar, extracting a groan of pain from him in the process.
"You should have quit while you were ahead, little man", she snarled, gripping him by his bloody chin and forcing him to look her in the face. The fear in his eyes was almost Ambrosia to her.
"If you ever, ever think about molesting another woman again", she continued, enunciating each word very clearly, "I want you to think about me. I want you to think about what I did to you and your friends here tonight. And I want you to wonder why I didn't kill you all." She punctuated her last words with a fist to his already shattered nose, which sent him flying.
She had driven for about ten minutes when the last of her rage left her. The night road began to mist over, and she had to pull up to the curb.
Looking down at her hands, Xena noticed for the first time the split skin above the knuckles of her left hand. Absentmindedly sucking on the wound, she felt the coppery taste of her own blood on her tongue. In the morning, the wound would be gone. The one in her heart wouldn't.
Leaning her head back against the headrest, grasping the wheel as if it would keep her from drowning, the dark woman wept. For centuries of loneliness, for seeing all she'd loved crumble to dust and blow away on the wind The tears ran down her cheeks unhindered.
"Gabrielle", she whispered to the uncaring darkness, "I can't do this alone anymore. I can't go on. I need you "
In a squat across town, a golden-haired homeless girl turned over on the ratty mattress that was her bed for the night. Her emerald eyes were moving rapidly under fluttering eyelids.
February 3rd, 1999