By T. Novan and Murphy
The characters of Xena: Warrior Princess and all others associated with the
television series of the same name are owned by MCA/ Universal Pictures. This is
a work of fan fiction and no copyright infringement is intended. This is set to
the Episode, "When Fates Collide." Tiny bit from "Many Happy
note: Thanks to Kamouraskan, Teach, and Temora for their beta. Thank you TN for
bringing one of my dreams true. Poems by Sappho
the "Tenth Muse" by the ancients, Greece's greatest female lyric poet
Sappho (ca. 610-580 B.C.E.) spent the majority of her life on the famed island
of Lesbos. Passionate and breathtaking, Sappho's poems survive only in fragments
following religious conspiracies to silence her. Sappho penned immortal verse on
the intense power of the female libido; on the themes of romance, love,
yearning, heartbreak, and personal relationships with women.** ~Paul Roche~
the first vision Alti showed me, I knew what my destiny was.
was dead at my feet when my husband and Brutus entered the room. 'My husband,'
the very sound of that made the bile slowly crawl up my throat. Brutus ordered a
few royal guards to drag that she-bitch out of my bed chamber while Caesar
pulled me into a tight embrace. To comfort his wife. Touching him sent jolts
through my body and I remembered the cross.
hated them both.
I contemplated snapping his neck, I saw my playwright, my bard, come back onto
her balcony, saw her discomfort at seeing this monster hold me. She quickly
dropped her gaze and returned to her room. I pulled away from the hateful
embrace and gave him my wifely smile. He tried to be intimate once more and of
course I had a headache. In fact I would have a permanent one. Once he slept, I
began to make plans to either get Gabrielle and myself back to our time or make
a life here.
way, she and I will be together.
keep Gabrielle safe, I have her go home to her vineyard by the sea, telling her
I would be summoning her in a moon's time. Meanwhile in Rome, Caesar prepared
for his great attack on LaoMa and all of Chin. I did my duty by training our
warriors, helping with the battle plans, all while making sure he didn't suspect
a thing. I also sent private word to LaoMa of everything we had calculated.
couldn't let the battle be too easy on my dear husband.
a moon's time, Caesar and his legions were on their way east. I stayed behind.
Someone had to keep an eye on Rome, and who better to trust than the loving
wife? The time had come for Gabrielle's return and I was like an over-anxious
child waiting for her toys on Solstice day. I was not really sure of all of my
true past. All I knew was that this one felt very wrong to me, and the only
right thing was Gabrielle. How was I going explain this so that a certain young
playwright didn't call for a healer to fix my mad mind?
was on the training grounds with some of our first season soldiers, when a
messenger told me that Gabrielle had arrived and was being escorted to the
palace. I gave a command of the
training to my second and called for my horse.
I could not return to her side quickly enough; I only hoped that she felt
the same way. My heart would surely break if the only reason she had
returned to Rome was because I had called for her and she didn’t wish to anger
was not her return to Rome I desired. It
was her return to me.
through the gate, I continued to ride my horse hard into the courtyard, vaulting
from his back and landing on the steps of the portico just as the guards pulled
open the doors. My boots echoed on
the marble as I strode to the royal quarters.
had ordered her placed in the royal wing. No
matter what, I wanted her near me until I found a way to convince her that we
now that I stood in front of her door, my hands were heavy and my stomach was in
knots. I made a loose fist and
raised it to knock on the door then let it drop to my side, realizing that I
hadn’t figured out what I would say to her.
I was utterly unprepared to see her again.
I took the time to really look at myself and realized I most certainly was not
prepared to see her. Not before I
had bathed and changed out of my armor into something far more appropriate.
As I turned on my heel to head to my own bedchamber my eyes slid shut
when I heard her door open.
Empress.” Her voice was soft and
immediately soothing to my soul. Those
two words had never sounded sweeter than they did at that moment.
turning around I took a deep breath and commanded my heart to stop beating
wildly in my chest. My heart
didn’t obey my command and I could barely hear over the roaring of my pulse in
my ears. It sounded like the breaking of the waves against the shore
by her vineyard, I’m sure.
raised her head and our eyes met. A
tender, gentle smile found its way to her lips and I knew.
had returned to Rome for me.
offered me her hand. “Xena.”
her hand, I felt the air forced from my lungs from this, the simplest of
touches. There had never been a
touch that felt so right.
mind was a blank. I could feel my
mouth working, but there were no words.
laughed gently, blushing slightly. “I
dreamt of you every night.”
I, you.” Tears formed in my eyes
and she reached up, taking them from my eyes before they could fall.
course, she would be concerned about the bastard.
He made it very clear he didn’t want her in Rome.
“Gone. He’ll be away for
some time to come.” Actually, I
hoped he never made it back.
Gabrielle and I were to be condemned to live this life, it would be easier if I
didn’t have to kill the Emperor myself.
that leaves us…” She let the question linger in the air waiting for me to
get to know each other better. I’d
love to hear more of your vineyard.”
I’d love to tell you more of it. Actually,
I brought a few bottles of wine with me. If
my Empress will do me the honour of drinking wine from my humble home.”
couldn’t help but smile. How did
she know what my dreams had been during this last month while I waited her
return? How could she know that I dreamt of laying by a fire with her
at my side, sipping sweet wine and looking into the depths of eyes so green they
must have given colour to the finest silks of Chin.
is nothing I would like better, Gabrielle.
If you will allow me to take my leave of you, I’ll go bathe and put on
something appropriate. Will you
please do me the honour of joining me in my private chambers for the evening
would be delighted. I’ll bring
the wine.” Her smile made my
entire body tingle with anticipation and a low burn ignited under my skin.
had never felt more alive.
had never felt more complete.
brought us together. An Imperial
Guard escorted her to my chambers and when I opened the door, my heart was
completely stolen from my chest. The
woman was more than beautiful, but I am a warrior, not a writer.
I cannot find the words to describe the lady who was before my eyes.
I knew was that my heart was full. My
soul was soaring and my body was on fire.
Empress.” She nodded her head
slowly, lowering her eyes, even as a coy smile played on her lips.
knew what she did to me. She knew
that a simple smile from her lips or a mere glance in my direction was enough to
rob me of speech and coherent thought. And
while no one else has ever bewitched me as this woman did, I was, even with all
my power, powerless to stop her.
her first look at me that night from the stage, my heart was hers for the taking
and she knew it.
playwright,” I teased, stepping back and ushered her into my apartment.
up, she smiled and licked her lips as she simply glided past me.
I turned and watched her move into the room. Dropping her shoulder wrap
to her lower back, she revealed to my eyes flesh of a creamy white; soft and
unflawed. Her hair, fixed into a
loose knot at the top of her head,
a few wisps of blonde to trail down a neck that I would have loved to taste with
my lips and tongue. I was willing
to bet my playwright was pleasing to all the senses.
turned her head to the side, looking at me over her shoulder as she presented a
bottle of wine. “I promised to
stepped forward as she turned to face me. Taking
the bottle, I pretended to consider it. “It
her lips once again, she reached out, tucking a strand of hair behind my ear. “It is very sweet.”
took a deep breath, and tethering some of my flailing dignity, moved to the
dinner table that had been set for us. The
best Imperial cooks from all over the realm had been brought to Rome to prepare
this meal. I would have nothing but
the best for her. Of course, my personal cook had prepared the main course that
was traditional to our homeland of Greece.
it will serve as the perfect conclusion for our meal.”
I gestured to the table, inviting her to join me.
placed her wrap on the sofa
crossed the room. “But hopefully, not the conclusion of our evening.
It would make a wonderful beginning for that.”
nodded my head as we took our seats. “I
agree. I don’t see our evening
ending early. Unless there is some
reason you need to…”
no.” She shook her head, then rested her chin on the back of her
hand, looking at me with such devastating honesty, I felt as if my skin could
just burst into flame on the spot. “I
am yours for as long as you will have me.”
cleared my throat, trying hard not to choke.
She couldn’t possibly imagine the ways I’d like to have her.
“Tell me …” I stammered, trying hard to ignore the dull ache in my
stomach and other points just a touch lower,
“Tell me of your writing.”
had obtained moderate success in Thrace when Sappho made a tour through the
region. She attended a reading that I did and offered me a place
studying with her.” She smiled at
me and I knew right away that she did indeed know how I’d like to have her.
Sappho’s tastes were legendary and my playwright would certainly fit
the bill from what I understood.
this is Sappho of Lesbos?” I
sipped from my sweetwater, trying to make small talk and think of a way to get
the information I wanted without seeming obvious.
the very same.” She mimicked my
action of sipping from the heavy cup, but she smiled from behind hers and said, “She taught me many things.” I smiled and watched the
woman I love talk of her muse's hero.
me, my playwright, which is your favourite verse of Sappho's?" Her face lit
up and she crinkled her nose. Gods, how I love that.
one is my favourite, they are all so lovely, but one I can pull off the top of
my head is, 'I say'."
may have been Sappho's poem, but Gabrielle captured me with her very voice,
calling to me like a Siren’s song.
would want few to be carried away.
yourself know but someone forgot.
might say I will love as long as there is breath in me.
say I've been a firm friend.
grievous, bitter, but know
said this with such beauty and poise.
applauded her and the smile on her face grew wider. We both sipped our wine,
looking at one another in silence. I finally broke this silence by quoting my
favourite, making sure I kept eye contact.
lay in wait behind a laurel tree, and everything was pleasant.
are a woman wanderer like me.
barely heard you, my darling; You came in your trim garments,
of your garments.
looked at me so strangely, as though she just saw a ghost fall out of my ear.
"It's the Laurel..." Before I could finish, she did it for me.
yes I know it." She rose and
walked to me, her breathing uneven. I still sat, while she stood in front of me,
between my legs, stroking my face. "Xena?" She asked, more like a
question than my name.
I could barely whisper.
my life I've felt this great emptiness." There were tears threatening to
spill from those beautiful eyes, and I found mine mirroring hers. "When I'm
with you, that feeling is gone and replaced with such love." My breath
caught with the last statement. “Here
I am writing about love though I never felt it." She lowered her head; then
I heard then her say, "Until now."
pulled her down to me and tasted her sweet lips in this world, for the first
we deepened our kiss I get more visions of my other life. One vision I saw was
in Thessaly where I almost lost my bard. 'Bard?' I pulled away to look at her.
I could see her lips moving, but heard nothing. I had an overwhelming
sense of fear and I pulled her in tight to me and held on for dear life.
She was rocking me back and forth to comfort me, but I could tell she was
confused by my actions. Pulling away slightly, she wiped away my tears with a
all right Gabrielle, it’s nothing bad, it’s all good." I gave her my
best smile, which she returned.
glad, for a minute I thought you were changing your mind about having me
here." We both chuckled.
not at all." We held one another's gaze. I felt the karmic pull and we
kissed once more, this time with no visions, just passion. It took every fiber
of my being to pull away, but I wanted to take my time, to give her the love and
romance she deserved.
would you like to take a walk and see the garden?" Her eyes become a deeper
green and I knew I was slowly losing the battle.
sure. I could use the
gave her my best smile and held out my hand.
took my hand. "My Empress."
walked out the door towards the garden. All the flowers were in bloom and the
moon was full and bright. I brought with us a blanket so we could lay and watch
laid out the blanket on the grassy slope. While she sat, I went and picked a
yellow daisy and handed it to her. That seemed to melt her heart, and she patted
the space beside her for me sit.
lay back and invited her to my shoulder. We held hands and talked about the
stars in the sky.
at that one over there, Xena." I looked to where she was pointing.
"Doesn't that look like a bear?" I looked harder at it. 'Where on
earth does she get a bear?' I thought to myself.
like a ladle to me." I heard her snicker then another vision hit me. We
were lying exactly like this, having this same discussion. Then she clobbered me
with a staff.
you all right?" There were those concerned green eyes again.
I'm just remembering a funny time in my life," I reassured her, to change
about more wine?" I reached for the skin and poured out some in a small
glass and handed it to her.
on earth do you get a ladle, Xena?" She looked at me like I was out of my
mind. "You don't see the body there or the ears up here?"
was fully laughing now.
sorry, it's a ladle." We were both laughing.
we'll have to agree to disagree then."
A famous playwright and a diplomat, what more could I ask for?
good." We lay down again and she told me these wondrous tales about a
Warrior Princess and sidekick. What an imagination Gabrielle has, she just may
have given Sappho a run for her dinars. After about the twentieth tale she was
time for bed, my love." Instead, she snuggled in deeper to me and sighed.
I have to get up?" I found that very cute. I stood and picked her up in my
arms, she was so wide-eyed it was funny.
put me down, right this instant!" She
smiled and complied. "Thought you wanted to be carried."
gave me this 'I'm amazed look.'
stood on her tiptoes and gave me a peck. "I don't want you to hurt your
back is all. I need you to be healthy," she purred and again I was losing
this “let’s go slow” battle. We walked unhurriedly back, hand in hand, to
her chamber. She gave me a kiss that I felt all the way to my boots. I pulled
away quickly and startled her.
I want to go slowly, to make sure that everything is special."
cupped my face and spoke. "Anything with you is special, and I want
this." Those eyes were filled with love and lust.
was a goner.
want you," she said, while pulling me into her hard, and gave me another
kiss that shook me to my core.
want you too, Gabrielle, so much." I held her tight. “But I've got a few
things to take care of. I'll be back in a candle mark.”
I gave her another kiss and walked off. I just wanted to take her in my
arms and lay her in bed, but I had some pressing matters to deal with. I had to
keep my head clear. By then, Caesar should
have been in heavy battle with Brutus and finding things were not as easy
as he thought. Soon he would be putting together my betrayal, and I could just
hope that it would be too late. I walked back to my chamber and waited for my
advisor. I sat with my back to the window, studying some plans and state
how goes the battle, my friend?" M'lila removed her hood from her face and
smiled. We clasped hands like old friends do. I'd known her for five years now
and she was my most trusted confidant. I asked her to become my advisor and she
agreed. She took on Greek as her language; her native tongue being too difficult
for many to understand, so this was the simplest. M'lila had always been very
protective of me and disliked Caesar from day one when we all met on my ship.
just came. Caesar has taken huge losses and has had to pull back." I just
nodded. "May I speak frankly, Xena?"
I knew what she was going to say.
always do, my friend." I waved my hand and turned to look out the window.
this all really worth it, is she worth it?" She knew what the Emperor of
Rome was capable of doing.
was all I could say. I turned and looked at her. "He tampered with the
Fates loom and made this cursed world." I bet she could see the fire in my
eyes. "He took everything that means anything to me away. I want it
back." I slammed my hand down on my desk.
why don’t you just go to the temple of the Fates and put things back in
order?" She had equal fire in her eyes. "This can be suicide for you
AND this playwright." With this last part her voice cracked. "Caesar
might be an arrogant ass, but he's a smart one and he'll catch on soon." I
closed my eyes and lowered my head. I knew she was right. 'Why wasn't I just
going to the Fates and ending the charade?'
feeling I got from that other life." I took a breath to calm my nerves.
"I hated myself, I did many hurtful things." It was my turn for my
voice to crack. "In this life I changed and was making a difference with
the people." M'lila just shook her head. "I just want to live my life
in peace with the woman I love and still make a difference." That was a
huge admission on my part.
I'm saying this because I care deeply for you. Go back to your own time." I
could only nod again. She walked past me towards the window, looking at me one
more time. "I'll keep you posted if there’s any more word of the
battle." Then she vanished into the night.
could I tell her that one of my guilts was her death in my arms? She feared for
my life, and I was not too eager to be crucified again. I couldn't take
Gabrielle and run; they would hunt us down like dogs. What kind of life would
that be? I feared going back to my other life... what could I do?
give me strength please!' I prayed.
candle mark was up and I needed to go meet the love of my life. 'Get a grip,
Xena.' I walked out of my chamber and back to my playwright. I
knocked softly and heard her say, "Come in."
I wasn't ready for was to see the room lit with candles and on the bed, wearing
only a sheet, was Gabrielle.
hand went to my chest and tried to soothe my pounding heart.
I knew I had a silly little grin on my face by the way Gabrielle was
laughing at me from the bed. It was
a soft, sweet laugh. It wasn't loud
or mocking, it was exactly like my playwright.
find me amusing?” I tried not to
stare, moving slowly to the bed.
the look on your face. You looked
as if you’ve never seen a woman in a sheet before.”
reached over and barely tugged at the edge of the sheet with my fingertips.
“Never such a beautiful woman. Surely
it must be a crime to hide your body behind a common cloth.”
simply peeled it back and let me have the first glimpse of the beauty that had
been hidden under the material. The
air was forced from my body as my mind spun and my mouth tried to find the words
so desperately lacking to describe her.
shook my head. My eyes were simply
in awe of this beauty.
rose to her knees in the center of the bed and looked at me.
“Do I not please you,
Gabrielle…yes. You please me very
much. You have no idea.”
am I to understand, that the reason you remain clothed and standing at my
bedside is because you’ve been struck dumb?”
She moved forward just a bit, reaching for the clasps of my tunic.
would be as good a reason as any.” I
could only smile as she slowly unfastened my clothes, pushing them from my body
and creating a pool of soft fabric at my feet.
Slowly but surely, my beautiful playwright pulled me to the bed and into
bodies came together.
minds came together
our souls met as they were supposed to. Merged
together in a perfect harmony that was the love we share, now and forever.
It did not matter what lifeline or what time we were in, Gabrielle and I
would always find each other.
as my playwright and I made love for the first time in this life, I felt the
familiarity of it in my mind and in the way my body responded to her.
She knew how to touch me to bring pleasure to every element of my being.
From my eyes, which delighted in looking at her to my body, which
surrendered to her without hesitation.
love you, Xena," She whispered in my ear even as her hands travelled over
my heated skin.
love you too, Gabrielle.”
made love well into the night, settling down to sleep just before dawn.
I was holding her close to me and I knew that I had to get us out of
there. I had to get us back to our own time.
I wouldn’t see her hurt, and I couldn’t afford to lose her.
touch from my love gave me back more of my memories. From the first time I laid
my eyes on her. 'You've got to take me with you.' All the way to, 'Gabrielle,
will you marry me?'... I remember how my heart felt when she said the word
‘yes’. I was the Warrior Princess she dreamed about, but she was more then
just a sidekick. I was so heavy in thought I didn't feel her stir until I felt a
caress on my face. I looked down and even in this dreadful world Gabrielle could
show me the way to love.
for your thoughts?" She rose slightly from my shoulder to kiss my cheek.
I took a minute to study her face and tried to collect my thoughts.
got a story to tell you and I want you to listen to all of it before you
comment. Please?" She rose up on her elbow and looked at me puzzled, with a
tiny smirk on her lips. I leaned over to kiss that sweet smirk.
... are we now role reversing?" Gabrielle could always be a smart ass when
she wanted to be. I gave her a heartfelt laugh.
my love." A kiss. "You can be the Empress and I will be the
Playwright." Another kiss.
lay on my shoulder and let me weave my tale, Empress." One more kiss, then
a chuckle and she snuggled in my arms.
sing the song of the Warrior Bard of Poteidaia." I feel her stiffen
slightly in my arms. "The woman, bard, best friend, lover, and wife of Xena
the Warrior Princess." She started to rise up again and I halted her.
me finish the tale, then we can talk, please." She looked me deep in the
eyes right to my soul. She nodded and then laid back down. I started from the
first day we met and got to the part where she was struck with the poisoned
arrow, and my lone fight against the Persian army. I said the phrase, 'Even in
death Gabrielle ...' and she finished it for me.
never leave me." She swallowed a few times. "How do you know of my
dreams?" She had a look of fear and wonder at the same time.
me, what did this 'Warrior Princess' look like in your dreams?" My bard ...
my bard?? It sounded so strange,
but so familiar. In the other world
she was fighting by my side for the Greater Good. Not much time for her writings
these days, the world kept growing colder and all so dark. That child's face she
had when we first met had a slight hardening to it later on. In this world she
knew no such pain. She was following her dream. How could I take that away? The
guilt of my former self was making a stand. I suddenly felt a hand moving my
you listening to me?" I saw
that her eyes were welling up with tears. I was causing her pain in this world,
the same way I did in the other. I could barely whisper out my apology to her.
warrior was tall, dark hair with striking blue eyes." A tear slipped and
she started to shake.
tell me what's going on... Xena." I pulled her towards me and hugged her. I
broke our embrace with a sigh while slipping out of bed. I handed her a robe and
put on mine. I sat across from her and explained.
"You remember that night on the
balcony?" She nodded. "Alti, my former Shamaness attacked me." I
took a breath and ran a hand through my hair. "She has powers and showed me
visions of another time, another world." I shook my head. "One of those visions showed that
Caesar, my dear husband, tampered with the Fate’s Loom making this Gods
forsaken world." I couldn't even look at her as I finished that sentence. I
proceeded to tell her all of it, including how dear Caesar crucified me and
broke my legs sending me on my path of destruction.
"None of this is real?" She stared at
me with disbelief.
"We're real. It’s the world that was not
meant to be." Then I felt my stomach tighten and I knew.
M'lila appeared out of nowhere scaring Gabrielle half to death.
She shook her head. "I've gotten word he
shall be back by tomorrow. He knows, Xena." My dear friend clearly feared
for my life.
"I want you to escort Gabrielle back to
Greece and keep her safe." I received two angry glares. I looked at my
friend and she could see my despair. "Please M'lila, if anything should
happen to her, my life would hold no meaning. She is the air that I
breathe." I got a nod.
"Thank you, my friend." I put my hand
on her shoulder and she covered it with her own, then vanished.
"Don't I have a say in all this? I'm not
going to leave you here to that man." Ahh, there they were, the fiery green
eyes of my bard.
"In the other world, my destiny was linked
to Caesar ... and that cross ... and I hated them both. But now I realize that
... everything happens precisely as it should ... precisely." I cupped her
face with my hand and kissed her lips. "Some things are worth dying for.
Isn't that what your play was about? Being prepared to sacrifice all for
love?" We were both crying.
"For Love," she whispered. "There
must be something that I can do." My battling bard.
"No, Gabrielle. What you can do is get out
of here alive. I have to go through this alone." I knew she didn't
understand, but how could I explain it?
"The first time I walked this path it was
for hatred and it nearly destroyed my soul." Who am I trying to fool? My
soul was destroyed until...Gabrielle came into my life. "This time I will
walk down this path with nothing more than love in my heart." I pulled her
tight to me and wept. "You see, he's already lost." We held each other
so tightly that light would not be able to find its way through.
"I can't just let you die," she
whispered, her sobbing choking off her voice. I kissed her again then started to
pack her things. "Please get dressed, there's not much time." She
stood, strong and defiant of me.
"Xena... I can't do this." I continued
to pack her things. "My life meant nothing here until you, and now you want
me to go back into that emptiness?" That hit me right in the heart.
"You are not a warrior in this time, you
need to be safe while I fight him." I lied. I knew her and we didn't have
the time to argue about this. "I can't worry about the fight and your
safety at the same time. Now please, get dressed." I think it was the sound
of distress in my voice, because she painfully complied.
We hurried our way out of the palace. M'lila was
waiting with the horses ready. I quickly settled her things on the horse and
turned to her. "I wanted so much more time with you, my Playwright."
She smiled and caressed my face.
"Deal with Caesar and come for me,
my love." I smiled back and thought. 'Even in death Gabrielle... I will
never leave you.' I cupped her face and kissed her, showing all the love I had
for her in my heart. We pulled away breathless, then I helped her on the horse.
I clasped M'lila's arm.
"Keep you both safe my friend, and thank
you." Her hold on my arm grew tighter, but there were no words. I could see
she was fighting her emotions. I touched her leg.
"Now go." My voice cracked. M'lila
started to ride slowly off, but Gabrielle stayed in place.
Her cries grew strong and she gasped for air.
"I can't," she cried out.
"Go now, Gabrielle. Get out." I said
with a touch of harshness. She always was too stubborn for her own good.
"No. You're going to die."
"Please, my wife, for love. Remember?"
I cried to her.
"For love." She hung her head and
"I'll love you forever," I said and
she mouthed the words back. Her sobbing had taken her voice this time. Before
there were any more arguments, or I lost my nerve, I swatted her horse’s
backside, sending him into a trot. She turned and looked one last time.
"For love, Gabrielle." I said for only myself to hear.
Now it was time for me to prepare for my
My first orders were to make sure that my people
were safe, in the villages as well as in these palace walls. I quickly wrote out
a scroll in detail for Brutus, everything from the loom to our true world, the
true fate of our dear Emperor.
I called for the one soldier whom I could trust;
Joxer. A small chuckle started within me as I finished that sentence. Then I
grew somber at the memory of his loss. I watched as he approached me. He looked
harder, more rugged looking. The scar on his face added to that impression.
"Empress." He bowed his head.
"I would like you to do me a favour, my
friend." I handed him the scroll and detailed instructions. He knew that if
anything happened to me, he was to find Brutus and hand him this scroll.
"Guard that with your life Joxer, it has
great importance." He looked at the scroll and then to me.
"I owe you a great deal, my Empress."
I gave him a puzzled look.
"How so?" I questioned.
"My daughter was very ill and you sent your
healer to cure her." My memory failed me. I just nodded at him.
"I'm pleased." I was glad I'd done
something right. I sighed and started to go past him when I heard him say.
"I'll protect this, Empress, it's the least
I can do."
I watched as he walked out of the door. No
matter what has been said about Joxer in either world, when it came down to it,
he had been a good friend and a very good man.
I worked well through the afternoon, long into
evening. I sent what personal dinars I had to my mother with a note to give a
portion of it to Gabrielle. My mother and I never really healed after my brother
was killed. As time passed we were on talking terms, but that was about it. Then
I realized I never got the chance to ask Gabrielle what happened to her family.
I wondered if I would ever get the chance again.
I sent most of Caesar's riches to the Senate.
They would be able to bring some honour back to Rome. I left a detailed note as
to why I was doing this. The rest of the dear Emperor's wealth was sent by
different runners to each village under Rome's rule. I left clear instruction to
all the Magistrates that the dinars were to be used for any homeless, sickly, or
downtrodden people. Failure to comply would mean a quick death. That should
start a fire under their robes.
Then I penned a scroll to the love of my life. I
stained the paper with the tears, so many emotions were going through me. One
memory I had right before I awoke in this damned world was the correspondence I
had with my dear friend Sappho. I sent word that I would be bring my love to see
her performance on her birthday. I knew Gabrielle just loved Sappho's works. I
asked my dear friend, since words seem to fail me, to pen a poem of my love for
my wife. I remember reading what the great muse sent. She had me nailed
So for you my love.
never been able to express myself with beauty as you do. So after talking with a
friend, I had a helping hand. This was meant for your birthday in our time; I
hope I can remember the damn thing. Here goes nothing.
There's a moment when I look at you,
And no speech is left in me.
My tongue breaks, then fire races under my skin
and I tremble.
And I grow pale as I'm dying of such love,
Or so it seems to me.
may have formed the words to page, but she took each of those words from my
heart. You gave my life such meaning and joy, you are my soul. I want you to
live and keep writing those plays. You have a true born gift my love, use it. My
mother will send you some dinars so you can live the rest of your life in peace.
M'lila will be there to be a friend and protect you if needed. She knows your
importance to me. As for me, I will still be with you and will be waiting for
when your time comes many moons from now. I love you and always will.
I pressed my lips to the page to seal it with a
kiss then I noticed that it was daylight outside. The sun was shining brightly
through the balcony window. I reread the note one last time. I needed to get it
into Joxer's hands so he could deliver it to her.
I heard the click of the crossbow, but it was
I crumpled forward as the arrow made a sickening
thud in my back. I could taste the blood in my mouth and the air being forced
out of my lungs. I didn't go completely down, so another arrow was released into
my leg. That hurt more than the first, for it was right into my bone. I screamed
and fell forward, flat on my face, and could not move.
"Well, Xena. Seems you were a busy little
bee in my absence." He spat, while circling me. Then he bent down to
retrieve the bloody scroll from my hand. I
held onto it until he forced the arrow back further into me. I released,
shrieking in pain.
"So you know, huh?" He gave me that
arrogant chuckle, and ripped my scroll up.
"I know that you’re a lying sack of
dung." That earned me another chuckle.
"Guards!" he yelled. One guard bent
down and broke the arrows in my back and leg, leaving the wood inside me to
fester. Then they pulled me up and I could get a good view of the Emperor.
"Your death will not be in vain, Xena,
because you'll always hold a special place in Rome's heart, amongst Caesar's
conquered." I spit at his feet. He laughed and leaned towards me. "You
weren't too bad in bed, either."
That made me queasy. "Now take her away. Xena will be crucified for her
betrayal of Rome." He smiled and waved his hand for the guards to drag me
I said nothing as I was dragged to the dungeon,
stripped of my clothing to be replaced with the death rags. Then in the distance
I could hear the hammering. My cross was being built.
Ironic. How times had I gone on with my daily life hearing that hammering
thinking, 'You can't have a crucifixion without crosses.' Painful irony that is.
The hammering stopped; Caesar was wasting no
time. I thought back to when I was younger. When Caesar gave me the honour of my
first crucifixion, all I felt was the monster of hate. During my second
crucifixion I was full of sadness that I could not stop the vision. That
Gabrielle was dying beside me. This time... All I could see was the face of my
wife and all the good moments we shared. Her love was flowing through me,
keeping me safe and I felt no fear knowing that fact.
"It's time, Empress." Joxer said with
a crack in his voice. Two guards moved in to drag me up and out into the Arena.
As I was ready to go past Joxer I heard him whisper, "I kept my promise,
I smiled and nodded. Being dragged once more, I
kept the thought of Gabrielle in my mind. We got to the top of the stairs and
the late afternoon sun hit my eyes like a dagger. My eyes were held shut while
they laid me on the cross, and I heard him snicker.
"For her betrayal of Rome, the Empress
shall be put to death, as the law demands." He informed the small crowd of
"Have any last words, Xena?" I cracked my eyes open and turned my head towards him.
"Ever hear of the saying, “What goes
around, comes around?" I sneered. He grinned and waved his hand, then
walked away. Smug bastard. I felt the piece of wood in my palm and then the nail
pierced my skin. I couldn't stop my screams; it hurt so much. They finished my
hands and went for my ankles. This hurt the worst.
Then they lift and set you in the earth.
I felt the weight on my body as I hung from my
wounds. I knew I wouldn't last long, not with those arrow wounds. I concentrated
on my breathing and let my love carry me away. There was no anger, no sense of
revenge, just love. My head was too heavy to hold up, I felt myself slipping. I
raised my head towards to sky on last time. "I love you, Gabrielle."
So peaceful. I let my head fall.
"Nooooooooooooooooooooooooo." I heard
a scream. Gods, it couldn't be her. I was too weak to lift my head. Gods please,
let that not be her. I heard hoofs beating fast on the ground towards me.
Another scream of 'Noooooooooooo.' Then I heard the clashing of swords. My eyes
were too heavy to stay open.
"Xena?" It is a fearful voice, a
familiar voice. I barely opened my eyes and saw her.
"Gabrielle, you shouldn't have come."
My chin trembled then I was aware of ladders on the sides of me. M'lila and
Joxer no doubt. My body was so numb I couldn't feel them pull the nails from my
flesh. Joxer moved in front as M'lila pulled the other hand free and I collapsed
in his arms. Gabrielle was working my ankles free. Her face was stained with
tears and her hands were shaking so bad it was almost a blur. They freed me and
laid me down with my head in her lap.
"You shouldn't have come,” I repeated. I
didn't want her to see me like this. I wanted her safe.
"You're the other half of my soul,
Xena." She was struggling to speak. "I couldn't let you die, you can't
die, please don't leave me, I love you." Her sobbing voice was so far
I was being pulled away.
There is no answer.
"No, Xena! You promised!" I watched as
the little one held her mate tight and gives a gut-wrenching scream. After all
these years of knowing her, Xena was gone. I've been close to the warrior since
the first day we met on her boat where I was a stowaway.
"M'lila?" I looked into the beautiful
She rocks her love and kisses her head.
"After I finish up here I want to take her home to Amphipolis." She
sobs and buries her head in the warrior’s neck.
"She would like that." My own tears
slipping now. Joxer bends over and lifts the Empress up. We move her inside and
lay her in a safe place. I feel the little one's pain while she kisses Xena's
head and whispers to her love. Then she stands and faces me.
"You ready?" I am, more then she could
know. I've never liked Caesar and begged Xena for years to leave him. I nod my
head and she turns to look at Joxer.
"Keep her safe for me, Joxer." He
bows. She gives Xena one more peck on the head and then walks off.
"Gabrielle, wait." I catch up to her
and grab her arm to halt her.
"You’re not going to talk me out of this,
M'lila." She was so tense I could just feel the anger flowing through her.
"No, I'm not going to stop you, but I
promised my friend that I would keep you safe." She closed her eyes and the
tears fell again.
"I failed her, I should have stayed to
protect her." She dropped her head and just let her emotions go. There’s
nothing worse in the world than the feeling of guilt.
"You're wrong, Gabrielle." I lifted
her face. "You saved her soul by loving her, something she's never had in
this life." She throws her arms around me and I let her cry.
"Let’s finish this," she says in my
arms. All I could do is nod. We quickly made our way towards Caesar's chamber.
There he is, sitting at his desk full of glory. He glances up and just smirks.
"Well, if it isn't Xena's little
Playwright. Sorry, but you’re too late." He stands putting his hand
behind his back and walks to us. "I'll deal with you later, M'lila,"
he sneers. "So, tell me Playwright. Didn't find the Empress talented in
bed?" he taunts. I start to charge but I am held back by Gabrielle.
"You want to know the truth about
something, Emperor?" The little one slowly walks up to him and he’s very
amused by this. "I'm not who you think I am." His smile grows wider at
"By all means, please tell us who you
are." He sits on the edge of his table, seeming very unimpressed.
"Well, what I've been called recently was
The Battling Bard Of Poteidaia." I watch as this gentle Playwright does a
perfect roundhouse kick to the Emperor's stunned face. Then she pounces on him
with all her rage while I handle the few guards who come in to check on all the
commotion. She has him on the ground ready to land another punch to his face
when I hear a bunch of heavy footsteps heading our way.
It is Brutus and his men.
Gabrielle continues to hold the Emperor by his
throat and I go into a defensive stance. Caesar is happy to see someone come to
his aid. He pushes the little one off and rolls quickly out of her way.
"Brutus. Take this blonde harpy and this
traitor to the dungeon." The bloodied, wounded-pride Emperor whimpers out.
I keep my eyes on the soldiers and move by Gabrielle's side.
"The only traitor here is you,
Caesar." He takes out a scroll
and flings it at the Emperor. Caesar begins to read, mouthing the words and
looks up with horror.
"You can't honestly believe the words of
this mad woman over mine!" Caesar bellows with all his arrogance. Brutus
"That mad woman you are referring to, was
my Empress and the true leader of Rome."
I'm not sure who is more shocked by all of this,
Caesar, Gabrielle, or I. Brutus continues, looking right into Caesar's eyes.
"Caesar, you have been found guilty by the Roman Senate for crimes against
Rome, humanity, and the Empress, and the sentence is death by crucifixion which
will be carried out immediately." The Emperor is silent. Brutus just shakes
his head in disgust.
"Guards, take him." The little one and
I watch as the Emperor is led away to justice. Brutus then turns to us.
"I'm sorry for your loss, she was a good
woman." His eyes well up.
"She was everything to me." Gabrielle
said, trying hard not to cry. "I want you to nail him to that cross he had
her on. Then break that bastard's legs." She says this in such a tone that
it stuns both Brutus and I. She has
no tears, her eyes just clouded with pain.
"It will be done." He bows his respect
to the little one, and goes to carry out the orders. She stands there silent. I
feel bad, for I had no words that could comfort.
"M'lila?" she whispers. "I want you to stay
here and make sure he's dead."
I am puzzled by this. "Where will you be,
She looks at me. "The Fates." Then
turns and walks off quickly. I will let her go settle what demons she has with
the Fates. I will gain much pleasure seeing that bastard get his.
in my life did I think I would be without my love.
took Xena and I so long to find one another. Just to have that man destroy it.
My only thought now is to make things right, even if I have to turn the Fate’s
Temple upside down. I run quickly outside to my horse. It is cold, and raining,
very fitting for a day like today. As I start to trot away I hear a piercing cry
from the fallen Emperor, and that brings a smirk to my lips.
for Xena." I say into the wind. Riding hard with only one goal in mind: I
will get my Warrior back and nothing will stop me.
a good candlemarks hard ride, I can see the Temple. It looks abandoned. I am
cold, tired, wet and just numbed by it all. I arrive, dismount, and dash inside.
What I see shakes my very existence.
horrible," I whisper, staring at the jumbled up loom.
oldest of the Fates says, “When Caesar left us chained...."
turn to see all three of them chained behind me and my heart falls.
we could not mind the loom," The youngest Fate adds.
a world full of chaos and confusion," The middle Fate says with a look of
stuck in this world because of you?" I spat angrily, grab the torch to the
side of them, and make my way the loom. I'm
stuck here in the cursed world? I can't believe it! Caesar won by taking Xena
away from me and there's nothing I can do about it? Another person messing with
our lives and this has to stop. To Tartarus with it all; without her I have
nothing. I turn with the torch towards that blasted loom that sentenced me to
this darkness, for now it was my turn to get the last laugh. "I love you,
Xena." I whisper with my destiny in hand. My turn to laugh indeed.
Burning the loom...," The oldest started.
destroy everything!" The youngest finishes in dismay.
be it!" The idea of living in this world without Xena means a death for me
anyway. With all my strength I toss the torch into the loom and watch it burn.
This will be the end of Caesar's nightmare.
feel this flash of fire going through my body taking my breath away. It's so
bright and it burns, bringing me to me knees. Then I feel my body being pulled
fire is gone and I am in what looks to be the forest. I quickly look myself
Amazon outfit? With my sais's strapped to my boots? I start to walk, wondering where Xena is. What was going on?
I begin to panic, then from behind me I hear the pounding of hoofs. I turn and
see the prettiest sight for my sore eyes.
halts Argo II and just looks at me.
"Hey." She has this utter look of
"Hi." I could barely get it out.
"You brought the world back to us."
She's got her warrior's mask on slightly, but I can see the tears ready to fall.
"I'm glad. I like this one better."
All I want to do is hold her.
"Even though you're not a famous
playwright?" she asks shyly. As though she was afraid to hear my answer. I
need to lighten her up.
"Fame. Who needs it?” She seems almost
relived and gives me a hand up on Argo.
I knew what Xena was asking.
"I destroyed the loom."
She just nods, and before she slips into her
dark, blaming herself mode, I changed the subject.
“Did you really like my play?" I know
what she is going to say.
"It was all right. Maybe it could have had
a few more fight scenes."
That's my Warrior. I smiled and we ride off.
"Everyone's a critic." We both
laughed. I lay my head on her back
and hold her tighter. It's so nice to be home.