SHADES OF IMMORTALITY
Copyright belongs to Taleweaver 1999
Disclaimer: As much as I hate the fact that we need em, heres mine.
Xena and Gabrielle are property of Renaissance Pictures, the rest of the characters are mine. There is some violence here, so be forewarned. While a relationship between our favorite characters isnt graphically depicted here, there is evidence of it. If this, or violence, bothers you; leave now. If you choose to keep reading; enjoy!
Note: I would like to thank the bards out there; you helped me over an immense writers block. I would also like to thank HerBard for offering to make this available for everyone to enjoy. It took awhile to get up, but I hope you find it worth it. I dedicate this story to the oppressed, abused and mentally battered, in the hope that you will one day leave and be counted as a survivor.
Feedback is welcomed; I can be reached at
Even after all these years of wandering the earth, she still looks stunning. Xena and I were granted immortality after wed been crucified. The Gods had never explained why, not even when Xena had demanded an answer. Most people would never question a gift like that, but Xena had never been intimidated by the Gods and always questioned their actions. Eventually she stopped asking why and just accepted their gift. On this cool morning she was in a good mood and it showed. She was radiant. Her blue eyes, always piercing, danced as we played Name That Person as we walked.
I was a healer.
Man or woman? I asked.
Modern? Or I glanced around to be sure I wouldnt be overheard. From our time?
Xena flashed me a teasing grin. She knew the modern ones stumped me. I remembered the ones from our own time much easier. Which is why she chose modern.
I think better on a full stomach, lets get something to eat. I pointed out an outdoor café across the street and was treated to a lop-sided grin.
After all these years, I expected your appetite to lose a bit of its edge.
What, and disappoint you? I teased her.
We crossed the street together and as we got closer to the café, heads started to turn. I was used to this, Xena just ignored it. No matter where we went, no matter the year or the clothing style of the day; she stood out in a crowd. It couldnt be helped; Xena was Xena. With her black hair and blue eyes she drew stares from both men and women alike. Her grace and poise held their attention as she strolled along, seemingly unaware of their stares. I chuckled. I knew how they felt. It was the same way I had felt the first time I laid eyes on her. This morning she was wearing a dark brown leather jacket over an intense blue t-shirt, blue jeans and brown leather boots. I thought the brown leather was a nice touch; a nod to her old leathers in a way. This morning she oozed confidence and sexuality as we found a table and ordered breakfast.
So have you sent that story off yet?
The sound of my soul mates voice brought me out of my daze. Just her voice alone gave me the shivers, and she knew it. She could do amazing things with just the pitch. By her voice, I knew what mood she was in, how she was feeling and if something was preying on her mind. This question shed asked seemed conversational, but there was something behind it.
Which one Xena?
You know, the one where you and I discovered that nude beach. Her eyes danced merrily and a smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. After wed swum a few feet away from our clothes. Her left eyebrow arched upward as the smile spread. You know, until then I hadnt realized that a blush could spread to that area
I did my best to imitate her lifted eyebrow look and remain aloof.
Just because the Warrior Princess is comfortable with her nudity, doesnt mean I am. I sipped my coffee, but couldnt suppress my own grin. Besides, one look at that guys
I said youll go, so youll go!
Both Xena and I looked in the direction of the raised voice.
A man and a woman were standing in the parking lot, arguing beside a car. He was leaning toward her, looming over her actually, shouting at her as if they were alone. I saw her lips move but couldnt hear the words. Whatever shed said, he didnt like it. He slapped her once, shouted again and then backhanded her. Before I could fully absorb what hed done, Xena jumped over the small fence surrounding the café. Although the car wasnt far away, my partner was closing the distance fast. With a flip reminiscent of the old days, she let loose her war cry and grabbed his arm just as he raised it to strike the woman again.
I think youve made your point pal.
I wasnt far behind Xena but by the time I got there, she had his arm twisted up around his back. He wasnt going anywhere. I stepped quietly to the womans side and put a hand on her shoulder.
Are you alright Miss?
She looked away from me at first, but I took her chin and guided it back so I could see what damage hed caused. Her face was finely sculpted with high cheekbones and an open, honest expression. And an ugly, violent mark where hed hit her. She was pretty, if a little subdued. Her brown eyes were skittish, but clear and alert. She had the same type of facial construction as Xena, and with a little more freedom to be herself I felt she could probably brighten a room just as well when she smiled. Shed have a heck of a bruise on her left cheek later, but thats all that would show. She was lucky Xena was nearby.
Im fine thank you. Her voice told me everything I needed to know. She was shaken and embarrassed. Im late for work, I have to go. Glancing at Xena, then me, she hurried off toward the café. The slug who hit her cried out as she hurried off.
Xena wrenched his arm until he was standing on his tiptoes.
I think youve said enough. Using the twisted arm as leverage, Xena spun him in a dance-like move until he was facing her. She slapped him hard once.
See? Thats what it feels like.
A slug he was, but stupid too. He took a swing at her while questioning her parentage. She caught his fist in one hand and began to force the wrist backward. My tall, dangerous warrior smiled that feral smile that made warlords nervous, and Slugs eyes opened wide with pain and shock. Xena slapped him again with her free hand to drive the point home. In a low, dangerous tone, she gave him a final warning.
I see one more mark on your girlfriend and Ill break both your arms. Got it?
He nodded emphatically. Xena pushed him away with a sneer and watched him scramble into his car. As he sped away, Xena pulled her sunglasses from her pocket and slid them on. Still smiling, she slipped an arm around my shoulders and said brightly,
Lets go see if our breakfast is ready.
As we sat back down, the other patrons began to stand and applaud. Theyd seen him hit her, but none of them wanted to get involved. It seemed to be the way of the world these days. Xena gave them a bit of an embarrassed grin and turned her attention to our just arriving breakfast that I couldnt help but comment on.
You enjoyed that. It was a non-judgmental comment.
Its been awhile since Ive had to .convince anyone like that. Xena shrugged. What can I say? I enjoy a fight; although he didnt put up much of one.
I smiled and shook my head at her. Sixteen hundred years later, and she still got a charge out of a power struggle.
When wed finished eating, Sara took the empty plates away and returned with the coffee pot.
So you two arent from around here. It was more of an observation than a question.
We live two blocks down, just moved in recently. Xena explained.
You make a living out of rescuing people, do you?
Something like that. My soul mate grinned. Actually, Gabrielle here is a writer and I play the stock market. This was true, but incomplete. I was, am, a writer, but Xena did much more than just play the stock market. She owned properties all across the country, one or two nice apartment buildings and was successfully, quietly wealthy. But of course, Xena told Sara none of this. Sara smiled tentatively at me and brightly at Xena, and then went back to work.
You know shes getting that warrior princess haze, dont you? I sipped my coffee. Just like Minya, Joxer, Hower
You My partner finished for me.
Yes, but I figured it out eventually. I dont think Sara realizes that its not just gratitude shes feeling.
Speaking of feelings Xena began.
Xena put her cup down and reached for my hand. Even after all these years, we still felt that jolt when we touched. With her free hand, she lowered her glasses. Her voice lowered too. It too on a sultry quality that she knew made my mouth go dry.
Do you remember how you used to help me through my battle lust?
Im feeling a bit of that old charge coming on. I think Ill need some help battling it. Her thumb ran across my knuckles. I have a few ideas Maybe youll help me explore them later?
Tossing back my coffee, I took some money from a pocket and weighted it down with my now-empty cup. Xena grinned broadly and my world was brighter. As we left the café, she slipped an arm around my waist. I felt the familiar jolt from her touch and a gasp escaped me. Xena chuckled.
I like the attitude of most people in this time; we can be more open about our feelings for each other. I dont need to worry about telling you what Im going to do to you. Like Xena whispered some things in my ear.
I walked faster.
Xena laughed out loud, causing a couple to turn and look at us. We ignored them and hurried home.
By unspoken agreement, we went back to the same café for breakfast the next morning. We were able to get the same table as before and Xena sat beside me while we waited for Sara to come our way with the coffee. Usually she sat across the table from me teasing with her eyes and her smile. But this morning we sat together holding hands under the table. I was glad we didnt have to guard our feelings for one another anymore; Xena was freer and more relaxed. And definitely more fun. This morning she seemed quietly happy as we held each others hand, but I slowly began to sense a change in my lover.
Xe What is it?
Does Sara look a little different to you?
I studied the brunette as she took care of other customers. Her hair was loose today; yesterday it had been gathered at the neck. She moved stiffly, as if walking pained her; stoic and reserved, she came to our table.
Xena handed her a mug and watched Sara wince as she reached for it. When she turned to fill my mug her hair slid forward on her shoulder and I was able to get a very good look at a few finger-sized bruises where her neck and shoulder met. I glanced quickly at Xena. Her pale eyes darkened with rage and her complexion grew dusky. I knew this was a dangerous sign.
Well have the same as yesterday Sara. I spoke quickly.
Sara nodded and went to relay the order to the cook.
Xena was a bundle of barely controlled energy. She sat still, but I knew how great the effort was. If Saras boyfriend had shown up then, Xena would have ripped his head off with her bare hands. I said nothing. After sixteen hundred years, I learned that conversation made times like this worse. After a few minutes of tense silence, my soul mate must have regained control because she sighed and leaned against me as if she were tired.
Bri She sounded sad and exhausted, and I wondered if immortality was weighing heavily on her. Wed seen so much cruelty, pain and suffering in our travels together that there had been times wed had to shut the world out or go insane with sensory and emotional overload. I reached up, not caring who witnessed this small intimacy, and ran my fingertips lightly down the length of her face. She closed her eyes and I knew she was drawing strength from my touch. Over the years she had told me that she relied on y touch as a grounding mechanism. I didnt mind; I enjoyed being able to touch her. Xena sighed. Sara was headed our way with breakfast.
We watched Sara laid the food out on the table, silent and unsmiling.
When do you get break? I asked.
She looked at her watch.
Pull up a chair. Xenas voice was gentle and firm at the same time.
Sara went to get a cup of coffee for herself and Xena and I began to eat. I had to maneuver my fork with my left hand, which was unfamiliar, because my right was still firmly clasped in Xenas left. As relaxed as shed become about public displays of affection, I hadnt expected this. I didnt have time to give it any thought; Sara had decided to rejoin us. She flashed us a grateful smile as she sank into a chair across the table. Xena swallowed her mouthful of food and gestured to yesterdays bruise.
How is it?
Sara touched the mark tenderly.
Xena leaned across and moved Saras hair off her shoulder. The gesture was gentle and slightly intimate; Sara blushed. It confirmed my suspicions that she felt something for my warrior; but I could understand that. I took a mouthful of coffee and looked pointedly at Sara.
You dont have to let him hit you, you know.
"What would you know about it?" She sounded belligerent, but I could hear the fear in her voice.
I put the mug on the table and tried to sound compassionate.
"I know that most lives are too short to live in a horrible situation without love."
"How do you know he doesn't love me?" Now she was beginning to sound confrontational.
"That's not love." Xena's voice was low and quiet.
Sara raised her gaze to meet Xena's for the first time that morning. I watched them gauge each other. When Sara looked away, I brought my right hand still clasped tightly in Xena's left out from under the table. I laid our hands on the tabletop and ran my thumb along Xena's index finger. Sara watched; a pink blush creeping up from her throat.
"Despite what you may think," I began, "I've seen enough of this world to recognize love. I have it, I feel it," Sara's eyes dropped to our hands, "and I know if he does that, he doesn't love you. There's no love or respect in a relationship like that, just fear and darkness."
Sara kept her eyes locked on my hand, still held in Xena's.
"Look, I appreciate what you're trying to do, really. But you don't know how hard it is He takes me where I need to be, he drops me off at work, he picks me up; I'm rarely alone " Sara's voice became small. "I'm trapped "
I let go of Xena's hand to reach out and touch Sara's arm.
"Then let us help you."
Just then, Sara's boss stuck his head out the door and motioned to his watch. Sara's face fell.
"I've gotta go."
"Think about what I said?" I asked.
"We'll be here tomorrow" Xena interjected, "For breakfast. We can help you get out, if that's what you want. Let us help."
Sara rose and picked up her mug, looking hopeful.
"Thanks. Maybe I'll pack a few
things tonight and get a friend to pick them up. I'll say it's laundry
smiled hesitantly at Xena and
I powered down the computer and stretched. I'd been working on a collection of stories of my adventures with Xena, and, like most of my tales, this one had kept me working later than I'd intended. I stretched again and wandered the apartment in search of my soul mate. I found her watching television in the bedroom. She looked up as I walked in.
"Hey those stories ready to be sent off to the publisher yet?"
I sighed and snuggled in beside her.
"Not yet. Maybe in a couple of days Do you think Sara will let us help her leave that louse of a boyfriend?"
"I hope so," Xena wrapped an arm around me and pulled me close. "No one deserves to be treated like that."
We watched a bit of the late news and then I had a thought.
"Did you see her blush when you touched her hair?" I chuckled. "I'm telling you, she's got a crush on you."
Xena raised an eyebrow and looked at me from the corner of her eye.
I was about to reply with some witty remark, but the announcer's voice stopped me.
"Early this afternoon, a brutal confrontation ended in the death of a local waitress "
A cold feeling oozed through my veins.
"Neighbors called police to intervene in a domestic dispute that escalated into a gunfight between a man and police officers. After firing at neighboring homes, the crazed gunman fired on authorities. After a brief exchange, the man was shot and killed by police. Authorities discovered the body of Sara Jenkins, 28, inside the home; apparently beaten to death."
As Sara's likeness replaced the announcer on the screen, I felt the heavy weight of sadness settle over me. As we listened to the reporter disclose the details of Sara's horrible death, I wept for the loss. She'd been so young, with so much ahead of her; and he'd taken her life so violently
Xena and I moved on shortly after. Neither of us could pass the café without remembering Sara, and when Xena suggested giving up the apartment I agreed. Now, months later, we've settled in another town and Xena is the founder and director of The Sara Jenkins Shelter For Battered Women. I hadn't expected Xena to be so affected by Sara's death, but when she told me her plans shortly after moving here; I thought it was wonderful. Thanks to my soul mate's drive and determination, Sara's death was not in vain. Because of Xena's compassion, other women were given the resources and support to leave their own abusive situations. While I find release in my writing, Xena finds purpose in the shelter. Until we hear the clarion call of the road again. And then? Well, that's part of the appeal of life on the road. We don't know what's around the bend until we turn the corner.
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