Shark Island Salvation

By Blind Faith

Disclaimer: All the characters in the following story belong to Universal Studios and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright violations were intended. This story was written purely for entertainment purposes and not for profit of any kind.

Subtext notice: The following story is about two women who are deeply in love with each other. If you do not like to read this type of story, you should stop here and find a different one to read. The events depicted here are not graphic, but they might be rated PG-13.

Spoiler Alert: These events immediately follow the events at the end of the episode "Locked Up and Tied Down" in the fourth season.


It was one of the most beautiful sights she had ever seen. The sky was an artist’s canvas painted in brilliant oranges and reds, providing a magical light show for mortals on earth. The cirrus clouds blanketed the sky from the horizon to a point just beyond the island, and the setting sun’s rays were caught and reflected back to the earth off the underneath side of the billowing puffs.

As Gabrielle stood in the tower window and gazed in awe at the sight, the sun dipped a little lower, and the colors changed from bright orange to muted shades of pink, laced with swirls of lavender. Deeply moved by nature’s beauty, she felt her throat tighten, and tears threatened to fall, her emotions rising quickly to the surface.

It had been a tough day, rougher than normal, but somehow they both had survived it. Somehow. The word echoed hauntingly in Gabrielle’s mind. Xena had nearly been tortured to death, and she had nearly been hanged for trying to help her partner escape her cell. What a day!

She glanced lovingly over her right shoulder to gaze at the tall, dark-haired form of her partner, and her gaze softened, filled with tender concern. Xena was reclining in a tub of soapy, scented bath water with her head tipped back and resting on the edge of the tub. The warrior’s eyes were closed, her long, dark lashes resting on her pale cheeks. The bruises from her ordeal were starkly visible on the smooth flesh, and cuts and abrasions from a variety of tortures liberally covered the skin exposed above the water. She was obviously exhausted, and Gabrielle was afraid to know when Xena had last eaten or slept.

Xena knew that Gabrielle had turned from the window and was watching her. She didn’t have the energy to open her eyes all the way, but she did manage to crack them open a little to covertly watch the bard. She wondered what thoughts were running through her partner’s head. They had hardly spoken since Thelassa had left them in her office. Of course, there hadn’t been much time to talk either. She wondered if Gabrielle were mad at her for not fighting the original verdict harder. Damn it to Hades and back. If only I could explain my feelings to her and why I had to do this. She closed her eyes the rest of the way and sighed wearily.

Meanwhile, Gabrielle was watching the warrior and was remembering the events from earlier today. When she had first seen Xena in the courtyard, she had been shocked by her ragged appearance, but at the time they had been in the middle of a fight and she had been still in shock from nearly being hanged. They had acknowledged their relief at seeing the other alive in a brief touch and an exchanged look, and then they had been fighting for their lives.

After the fighting had finally ended, Gabrielle had rushed into the courtyard to grab Xena and walk with her back to the commandant’s office. The warrior had been shaky and weak, and Gabrielle had draped the warrior’s arm over her shoulders, helping to support her weight as they climbed the stairs.

After Thelassa had spoken to them and left the room, Gabrielle had moved to stand in front of Xena and had looked her over carefully. The pain and exhaustion had dulled the natural gleam and had tamed that spark of fire that usually lit up the warrior’s eyes, and Xena had sat slumped on the table, a blanket wrapped around her to keep off the chill. Gabrielle shuddered to think about the toll this ordeal had taken on her partner. Xena looked shaken and vulnerable, and Gabrielle was truly afraid for the woman she loved. Gabrielle knew her partner well enough to know when she was miserable. And this was one of those times.


They had been shown to this chamber in the commandant’s tower a candlemark ago. When they had finally arrived at the room, she had helped Xena over to the closest chair and had helped her pull the chair up to the table. Xena had simply collapsed forward to lay her head on her forearms, resting while servants brought in a tub and began to fill it with hot bath water. Thelassa had ordered this service as a small measure of thanks for saving her life. It certainly wasn’t much, but at the moment, Gabrielle was thankful for anything that would make Xena more comfortable.

Then later while Xena had still rested quietly, her head on the table, Gabrielle had spent some time out in the hallway talking to one of Thelassa’s guards to find out exactly what had happened to Xena during her stay at the prison. Unfortunately, the guard couldn’t tell her about the things that had happened inside the prison because he was a periphery guard stationed near the gate, but he could tell her about the amazing things he had witnessed in the courtyard.

All the horrors were described in vivid detail to Gabrielle, and she worked to maintain a stoic appearance in front of the guard even though the details of Xena’s struggles broke her heart.

She had returned to their room once the tub was filled and had barred the door to insure their safety and their privacy. Then she had carefully helped Xena to remove the rag that had been substituting for a shift and had lowered her injured partner carefully into the tub. After helping Xena to scrub with soap twice, she had moved to look out the window, struggling to maintain her composure as the warrior soaked in the warm, comforting water.

Now, as she regarded Xena’s reclining body in the tub, the details of Xena’s tortures flashed vividly in the bard’s mind. The waning light in the room seemed to fuel her depression. Why had Xena let all of this happen to her?

Gabrielle knew that the answer would not be a simple one. Xena’s personality and thinking processes were as complex as anyone’s she had ever met. Just when she thought she had a certain aspect of her partner figured out, something would happen that would reveal an amazing new dimension.

Gabrielle sighed and smiled gently at Xena’s relaxed features. The bard was sure that for as long as she lived, she would never tire of trying to understand all the elements that were a part of her soulmate.

She moved softly across the cold stone floor and knelt down beside the tub. She reached out and rested her hand lightly on the warrior’s forearm that was lying along the top edge of the tub. "Hey," she whispered tenderly. "Are you still awake?" She watched carefully as Xena blinked her eyes quickly and struggled to orient herself to her surroundings.

Gabrielle could see her partner’s muscles tense with the initial confusion of coming awake, the gut-level instincts and the heightened reflexes reacting to the unknown. And then as she murmured soothing words and caressed the smooth skin under her fingertips, she watched Xena relax again when the warrior realized that she was safely tucked away in their room and that the hand on her arm belonged to her partner.

"Sorry that I startled you," Gabrielle spoke softly, the regret obvious in her voice. "I’m just worried about you. You need to get out of this water before your skin shrivels and before you get chilled. Then I can get you into a clean shift and into bed."

Gabrielle leaned forward and placed a gentle kiss on the warrior’s forehead and then wrapped her arms around the strong shoulders and hugged her partner. Gods, this closeness is better than all the healing medicines in Greece, Gabrielle sighed. "I needed this," she whispered quietly into Xena’s ear, resting the side of her face against the warrior’s temple.

Xena released a ragged sigh and rested the weight of her own head against Gabrielle’s. "Me too, my bard," she whispered weakly. "Me too." For a long moment each of them simply held on to the other one, enjoying shared love and comfort.

Gabrielle felt Xena’s body begin to tremble, and she rocked back on her heels and looked worriedly into Xena’s face. "Xena, are you all right?"

"I’m c..c…cold," she managed to utter despite the chattering of her teeth.

"By the gods! Let’s get you out of there." Gabrielle mentally whipped herself for not being more aware of Xena’s discomfort. She quickly helped the warrior to her feet and wrapped a large, warm towel around her torso. "Here, let me help you get dried off, and let’s get you into bed."

Gabrielle rubbed a towel gently over the warrior’s tender flesh, her brow furrowing as she wondered what had caused the small cuts along her arms and back. She decided to wait awhile before asking about them; the warrior’s exhaustion was too evident to bother with explanations now.

Once the skin was dry, she helped Xena pull a soft cotton shift over her head, avoiding the scrapes as much as possible.

"Gabrielle, let’s just… s..sit over by the fire for a little while, O.K.? I’m… tired, but I can’t sleep yet. I…n..need to sit and hold you for awhile." Xena’s shaking voice trailed off wistfully, and she leaned forward and rested her forehead against the top of Gabrielle’s, breathing in the gentle scent of lilac that the bard had used earlier in her own bath.

Gabrielle basked for a moment in the warrior’s warm embrace and then wrapped Xena’s arm over her shoulder as she had before and moved her to the fire. "Come on. Let’s get over here where it’s warm," she coaxed.

There was a pile of furs on the floor near the hearth, and Gabrielle collapsed down onto the softness. "Gods, I’m tired." She looked up at Xena and then patted the lumpy surface beside her. "Interested in snuggling with a warm bard for awhile?" She smiled lovingly up at her partner and reached up to grasp Xena’s closest hand, giving it a little tug.

Xena looked down into Gabrielle’s smiling eyes and was reminded all over again of what she had come so close to losing. Briefly, she felt the panic she had felt earlier when she had heard the guards capture the bard, and the panic must have shown briefly in her eyes because Gabrielle squeezed her hand in reassurance. She sank down onto her knees on the soft furs and rolled onto her right side, stretching her legs out behind the bard. Then she pulled Gabrielle down to lay in front of her and spooned her body around her partner’s, absorbing her warmth. She draped her left arm over Gabrielle’s ribcage and pulled their bodies snugly together. "I love you, you know."

She could hear the smile in the bard’s voice, though she was facing away from her. "Yeah, I know that. I love you too, and don’t you ever forget that!" Gabrielle reached down and pulled one of the furs over them to use as a blanket.

Xena leaned forward and gently kissed Gabrielle’s hair. "I won’t. And….um, thanks."

"For what?" Gabrielle rolled back slightly so she could look into Xena’s eyes.

"For coming after me to this place." Xena’s blue eyes were somber. "I’m sorry. I’m… so very sorry." Xena’s voice caught as she struggled to maintain some sort of emotional control.

This time Gabrielle turned all the way around in Xena’s arms so she could look her fully in the face, her unblinking eyes studying the warrior carefully. "You don’t have to be sorry about anything, Xena. You did what you needed to do. It worked out fine in the end."

"But, Gabrielle, I know that I hurt you. Please, I need to explain why I did this." She saw Gabrielle’s frown and knew she was about to protest. "I NEED to, Gabrielle. Please?"

The bard stopped the protest before it left her throat and nodded silently. She reached out and wrapped her right hand behind Xena’s neck and slowly pulled her forward so that their lips met in a gentle kiss.

Gabrielle pulled back slowly. "It’s because you felt guilty about Thelassa’s death wasn’t it?" Her eyes shifted slightly, searching Xena’s eyes for the truth.

Xena took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Yeah, that’s part of it. No matter how much good I do, I can never escape those feelings of guilt from the horrible things I’ve done."

"But, Xena, this time there was no death. Thelassa survived, and what she became was her own choice. It wasn’t your fault!" Gabrielle found Xena’s hand resting between them, and she grasped it, squeezing it in reassurance.

Xena lowered her eyes to look at their clasped hands. Her thumb traced over a slight scar on the back of Gabrielle’s hand. "Gabrielle, that’s only partly true, and we both know it. But, it’s not just that." Here she hesitated, and raised her eyes to look directly into the sad green eyes only inches from her own. "I’m hurting inside, in ways I’m not sure I can describe."

Gabrielle felt a trickle of alarm run along her spine. "I’m not sure I know what you mean," she whispered.

Xena took another breath and tried again. "I….I wish…"

When Xena didn’t finish, Gabrielle slid forward on the furs so that she could pull Xena’s head down to rest on her chest. She curled her arms around the warrior’s body and pulled the larger woman’s weight down on her own. She felt Xena slowly relax in the cradle of her arms. "It’s O.K. You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to." She lifted her hand and stroked the back of the dark head that was tucked under her chin.

Xena didn’t respond for a moment. She just simply wanted to enjoy the feel of Gabrielle’s body close to her own. There was a time down in the pit with the rats that she was sure she would never see the bard again. She had allowed her soul to retreat into the darkness. It was a survival mechanism, and it would have been the only way she could have survived under Thelassa’s rule. But then she had rediscovered "the light," her personal savior. Gabrielle had found her and saved her soul yet again. She still could hear the words spoken earlier by the bard. "Not as long as I’m around." Those words of love and assurance had wrapped around her heart, beginning the healing process.

This love gave her the strength to continue. "Ursina said something to me when I first got here," she began. "She said she had always hated me because I had never paid for my crimes." A painful breath. "She’s right you know. I’ve never served time in prison for my crimes, though I’ve sent many others to jail for theirs. Where is the justice in that?"

Gabrielle could hear the plaintive note in the warrior’s voice. "Xena, you taught me a long, long time ago about the Greater Good. These others that you are referring to, they were hurting people and you stopped them. You shouldn’t feel bad about that. If you hadn’t been there, so many people who were helped would now be dead."

For a long moment the only noise in the room was the crackling of the fire. Xena shifted up onto an elbow so she could look into Gabrielle’s face. "There’s more. When I thought you were dead, I went to a very dark place inside myself." Unable to face the love and compassion of the bard’s eyes, she looked into the red flames of the hearth. The heat and volatile nature of the fire was a mirror of her own soul, she reflected sadly.

Gabrielle reached up and pulled Xena’s head around to face her. "You mean when you visited the Amazons and fought with Alti?" She quickly reviewed the events that Xena had related to her after they had been reunited. Was there something more that Xena hadn’t told her?

"Yeah. It’s just that there was so much of my past that I hadn’t thought about in a long time, and now it’s all fresh in my memory again." She stopped here. How could she tell Gabrielle that the image that had been haunting her nightmares since that time was the image of Gabrielle’s death on a cross? How could she express the guilt she felt knowing that if the bard stayed with her, she would die a horrible death?

She couldn’t.

Alti had truly known how to torture her soul. The visions had driven her deeper and deeper into a depression that she was no longer able to hide from Gabrielle. But there was no way she could explain it to her either. She simply couldn’t do that to the bard. She loved her too much.

"Hey." Gabrielle’s voice drew her back to the present.

"Sorry," she murmured sheepishly. "I was out of it for a moment there."

Gabrielle pulled the warrior’s head back to her chest. "Shhh. Just rest for now. You know that no matter what I’ll be here for you. Nothing in your past will drive me away from you."

When Xena didn’t comment, she continued. "All of us have things in the past that we wish we could change, but The Fates won’t allow us to go back. So, we don’t have a choice. We have to go forward. We have to use what time we have here on earth to help others, to make a difference."

She gave the warrior a hug, mindful not to squeeze too hard. "And, my warrior, that’s just what we have been doing."

Xena closed her eyes and let the healing words slowly relax her. There was no easy solution to wipe out Alti’s vision, so she hugged Gabrielle’s words close to her heart and surrendered herself to the bard’s love and care.

The exhaustion that she had been holding at bay would no longer be denied. Her eyelids blinked closed, and she was having trouble opening them again. "Gabrielle, I think I need to sleep now. I can’t keep my eyes open anymore," she murmured sleepily against the bard’s chest.

Gabrielle smiled slightly as she bent her head down and kissed the top of Xena’s head. She gently massaged the back of the warrior’s neck, feeling the tension slowly drain out of her injured partner. "It’s all right now. You go to sleep, and I’ll watch over you. I love you."

Xena mumbled something unintelligible and then her breathing deepened and evened out. Gabrielle lay there thinking over the things that Xena had said. She was sure that there was something the warrior was not telling her, but what that was she couldn’t even begin to guess. Whatever it was, it was enough to cause Xena to take some pretty drastic actions these past few days.

The headache that she had been ignoring for the past few hours was reminding her of its presence. The dull pain was distracting her from her thoughts. "Two blows to the head and I’m still functioning. Not bad," she thought wryly.

She thought back to that moment in the courtyard when she was about to be hanged and remembered once again the coldness that had filled her gut. Her one regret had been that she had failed Xena. First, she had been unable to get the chakram into the pit, and then she had been captured.

She looked down at Xena’s face, relaxed in slumber. "I should have known that you would find a way for things to work out, Love. Now, I just need to get you to tell me all about it tomorrow." She smiled gently and then closed her own eyes, surrendering herself to Morpheus’ realm.


Gabrielle stirred slightly, the stiffness in her back a brutal reminder that she had slept on the floor all night without changing positions. "Ugh. I knew that I would pay for that," she moaned to herself.

She opened her eyes and saw that the sun was already up above the horizon, its soft yellow light just beginning to glisten on the walls she could see outside the tower window. She glanced down and was surprised to see that Xena wasn’t yet awake. She carefully slid her body out from underneath the warrior and then climbed slowly to her feet, stretching out the tightened back muscles as she straightened.

"Feeling a little stiff this morning?"

The question surprised her, and she looked quickly down at Xena, who was awake and watching her with amusement. "Hey, you’re awake!" She stated the obvious and then grinned at her own response. "Of course you are."

Xena grinned in response. "Oh yeah. I’m awake; I’m just not UP yet!" She climbed slowly to her hands and knees and then pushed herself up into a standing position, grimacing slightly. "Ouch. I think I’m going to be sore for a few days after all that."

Gabrielle walked forward and circled her arms around the warrior’s waist. "Well, I would certainly think so after all you’ve been through. Other than the stiffness, how do you feel?"

Xena took a quick inventory. "Pretty good. I need to put some salve on these rat bites, but…."

"What?" Gabrielle’s shocked question cut her off in mid-sentence. She paused and looked sheepishly into the bard’s outraged glare. Uh oh!

"Um…Gabrielle, it’s nothing really. There were just a few rats down in the pit with me. They were hungry." She couldn’t find an easy way to break the news to her partner.

"That’s what caused those cuts on your arms and back isn’t it!" This was not a question.

Gabrielle knew that Xena was sugar-coating the reality, and she let her imagination fill in the blanks. Her glare softened as she took in the remorseful look on her partner’s face. "Oh, Xena, that must have been awful. I wish you had told me last night. We should have treated those right away." She grabbed the warrior’s arm and pulled her over to sit on a chair next to the medicine she had laid out the night before. "Let’s get these treated, and then I’ll see what I can round up for breakfast."

Xena sat quietly as Gabrielle’s gentle hands applied the salve to the bite marks. She let her chin drop to her chest and thought again about how lucky she was to have a friend who would follow her into hell and back. "You wanna know something?"

Gabrielle continued to work as she answered. "What?" Her brow furrowed as she applied the salve to a particularly red and swollen cut.

"When I was in the pit and heard your voice, I thought I was dreaming." Xena paused to collect her thoughts, and Gabrielle remained silent, though her hands moved to massage the tight muscles in Xena’s shoulders. "I couldn’t let myself hope….I couldn’t be weak…I.." Here her voice trailed off into silence.

"Shhh. It’s O.K. I think I understand," Gabrielle soothed. "You couldn’t let yourself hope for a rescue because if you did and then I didn’t come, then you would have had to suffer even more mental anguish and would have been weakened in front of Thelassa." As she spoke, the bard wrapped her arms around Xena from behind and rested her head against the warrior’s. "I understand."

Xena let herself absorb Gabrielle’s comfort for a moment. "I couldn’t just assume that you would be able to come for me or would even want to after the trial – after I had just accepted the verdict without argument. Thank you, Gabrielle. Thank you for saving both my body and my soul."

The warm tears ran down Xena’s face, and she turned to hug Gabrielle’s body close. She could feel the bard’s own tears as they soaked through her cotton shift.

"Xena," Gabrielle mumbled into her shoulder. "There is nothing here on earth or in the heavens that could ever keep me away from you. Don’t you ever doubt that!" They embraced each other for several minutes and then pulled back to look into each other’s eyes.

"I love you," they said in unison, smiling at the shared sentiment.

Gabrielle patted her lightly on the shoulder. "You stay here. I’m going to find us some breakfast, and then we’re going to pack and get out of here. The boat is scheduled to arrive in a couple of candlemarks, and I want to be waiting at the docks. The sooner we leave the better!" She smiled warmly into Xena’s deep blue eyes. "Why don’t you just sit here and rest until I get back."

Xena raised her left eyebrow until it disappeared under her bangs. "I’ll stay here for now, but if you aren’t back soon, I’m coming after you!" Her eyes twinkled with humor, but Gabrielle could also hear the serious tone of the warrior’s voice and knew that it was a promise.

"Thanks." She leaned forward and brushed her lips against Xena’s and then turned towards the door. "And be good!" she added over her shoulder, missing the brief outraged glare of her partner before disappearing out the door.

Xena sat for a moment, appreciating the silence and the peace. Then she moved to the window and looked out over the shimmering blue of the sea, ignoring the stone walls of the prison around her. "What would I ever do without her?" she asked herself. "When I was lost, she found me. When I was shattered, she made me whole." She gripped the windowsill tightly for a moment as she wrestled with the painful memory of Alti’s prediction of their deaths.

Then she took a deep breath and exhaled heavily, shaking off the feeling of doom. Her breath left a trail of steam in the cool morning air. "Well, now that I know one version of the future, I can at least fight to keep it from happening. I defeated Alti once; I won’t let her win this time either." This thought gave her some comfort, and she turned back to the room when she heard the door open softly behind her.

Gabrielle was smiling and carrying a tray loaded with an assortment of breakfast foods. She smiled sheepishly as she looked over and saw Xena’s surprised look. "I guess the cook thought I looked famished. She gave me enough food for several people."

"Oh, I don’t know, my bard," Xena teased. "I’ll bet that between us we’ve missed several meals. Now is our chance to catch up." She grinned and caught the muffin that Gabrielle tossed her way. As she watched, the bard returned her smile and began stuffing a piece of nutbread into her mouth.

Xena paused to just watch her partner and enjoy the moment. She thought to herself, "Regardless of the future, I’m going to make sure that I enjoy every moment of life along the way, and with Gabrielle beside me, that will be the easiest thing I’ve ever done." Then she set aside all these thoughts and just concentrated on enjoying two of life’s pleasures: breakfast and, of course, Gabrielle.

The End

Sometimes we get to view a good episode, but because of time constraints in production, we don’t get to see a satisfying resolution. For me, the episode "Locked Up and Tied Down" seemed to need a little follow up, so I couldn’t resist. J Please let me know what you think. Thanks, Blind Faith


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