Disclaimer: I didnt mean to write this. I was working on a few other things, and this character wanted out. So I gave him a couple of hours, but thats it. Sort of a stream of consciousness exercise, and it was interesting to read after hed finished. Several talented Bards made some excellent suggestions for this story, but as is quite clear, I ignored just about all of them.
Violence: Same as the show
Sex: Yes, theyre in love
Ownership: Not me. Xena, Gabrielle are the property of RenPic, MCA, everybody except me. My story, though, and my narrator, just goofing around.
~In Her Eyes~
The first time I saw the Warrior Princess, I was getting ready to kill her.
I had my Das sword out and I was waiting for her and her Amazon, hiding behind these bushes above the road. I mustve been sitting on the rock for about five candlemarks. Ever since I heard they were coming .
I got real good at waiting over the years; you have to if you want to survive in the woods. You learn to sit dead still, let yourself be so quiet, and cold, until nothing can break your concentration; not the bugs biting you, not the stiffness.
I remember thinking about my Dad. Still trying to be cool, though. But part of me was getting my mind wrapped around the idea that I was finally going to have my chance at this bloody butcher, when I heard them, or at least I heard Gabrielle, though I didnt know that was the Amazons name then. She was just talking away as they got closer, and I wasnt breathing, not even blinking, cause I knew that the Warrior had these really sharp ears.
There wasnt much I didnt know about her.
I had got myself in position to jump long before they were anywhere near me, so she wouldnt have any warning. All the pain, and all the planning, coming down to the feel of the sword in my hands. My Das sword. Cold steel.
Well, the Gods planned different, cause it was then I heard a bunch of sounds coming from behind me and Wham! there was like a dozen soldiers rushing straight down the hill at me.
I was turning around when the one in front pointed at me, and the rest went after the princess and her Amazon. It was like the last thing I was expecting, you know? After hunkering down for so long for my big chance, it took me a second to react to the idea that this guy was going to try to take my head off. So I jumped down onto the road, landing bad, stiff muscles and all, and that big greasy soldier followed behind me. But Im like, already turned, expecting him, and he must have been jeezly stupid, because he pretty well leapt right on to the blade I got ready for him. Well, he shrieked like a soul in Tartarus, which is what he was in the next second, and he almost pulled the blade out of my hands with his gut. But his scream got the rest of his gang pretty clued in, they thought, about whos side I was on, and two of them broke away to attack me. I guess it was sort of good in a way, I didnt have time to think about what Id just done. I didnt want to fight them. Tartarus, I wouldve loved to say, hey guys, can I help you? but they werent waiting for conversation.
Meantime, Im hearing these whoops and grunts from around the corner, and I know that someones in a lot of trouble, and Im still hoping its the women; when the little Amazon comes racing around with these little pitchforks and flips one of the soldiers into the second guy Im fighting with. So that leaves me with just the one, and he was pretty big and slow, and Id been practicing for a kill for a long time. But I learned then, real quick, that practice is just practice and real fighting is different. Different when you dont move fast enough, or you take a stupid chance by moving in too close; in practice you dont get a big gash across your shoulder. It didnt hurt right away, and I remember my Da telling me that if you had to make a stupid mistake, fix it quick and get out of there. So while he was still trying to hack at me, I followed through with a cross cut across the side of this guys throat and killed my second human being in less than a hundred heartbeats.
I was standing there, I guess thats what shock is like. Frozen. Staring at the blood all over me and sort of staggering in the middle of the road, when I see Xena leap, like, twenty hands straight up and then land on two of these guys. She fliped again, head over heels and touched the ground. and gutted a third! Meanwhile the little Amazon was giving another guy one of these amazing high kicks, flashing these great legs, when the light went strange, and I knew I was passing out. I remember my last thought before I fell was, that these two were taking out ten guys. Holy Hades, I was frigging lucky I hadnt jumped em.
So I come to, and the first thing I know is that the same blue eyes Id had nightmares about for it seemed like forever, were staring right into me just a couple of sword lengths away. Id heard some stories about how shed changed; but what I saw in that moment was pure, cold killer, nothing more. It was so much like my bad dreams that I mustve started to shake, but there was a voice like my moms saying, "easy. Its OK. Youre going to be OK," and I mustve drifted off somewhere again.
The next time I came to, I was really hurting. Someone was unwrapping some cloth around my chest and I tried to fake that I was still out, when I heard this real cold, low voice, say "hes awake."
So I opened my eyes and there is the Amazon. And she smiles at me like Im her best friend or something, and says with this nice voice, "Youre going to be OK. Im just changing your bandage. You took a pretty bad cut, but its clean and were going to take care of you."
I look over to Xena, and shes still got this truly chilly look, like she knows what really happened and I start to shiver again. The Amazon follows my eyes and stares at the warrior, and I cant believe it, but she actually drops the look and starts throwing some stuff into the fire. The Amazon is like, really pretty, with these wonderful eyes, and when she turns back she still has that smile and asks "Whats your name?" So I shrug and lie. " Alexander."
She keeps smiling and says, "Good to meet you, Alexander. My name is Gabrielle, and this is my friend Xena."
So I nod, to show I know, and Gabrielle sort of sighs, cause she sees I recognize who Xena is, but she doesnt stop wrapping me up.
Late that night I heard them talking and I tried to stay still so I could hear, though it hurt not to breathe. Gabrielle was saying, "You cant know that for sure, Xena. Anyways hes just a boy, and he did help us. Whether..." and theres this hissing sound from the Princess that sort of shuts her up, and I know that somehow she knows Im listening to what I figure is my death warrant. Going to take care of me, I think, I bet.
After that, I cant sleep for a long time, and I notice that theres only one bedroll for the two of them, and though I hardly know Gabrielle, I get sick thinking of what it means. In my head I see Xena using her body. Taking this really nice girl. Kissing her and everything else, and my stomach gets all queasy, and I spend most of the rest of the night trying to think of a new plan to stop her.
When I open my eyes next, its just beginning to get light, and the ground and air are frosty, but Im used to that. Xena was already up, and it looked like shed been moving for a while. She comes over to me, and my heart starts pounding really hard, but she just lifts the sides of the bandages like she cares if Im getting better. She asks me "where does it hurt?", and I cant take my eyes away from hers. Its like shes got me under some fear spell. I feel like such a kid, and I can hear my breath start coming in little gasps. She makes a grimace and puts her hand on my shoulder like to comfort me, and it sort of works, and after checking my cuts, she moves off, back to the Amazon. And Im thinking, "what happened there?" But I figured that I was just seeing things that werent. And I imagine all the people shes hurt, and what she does to Gabrielle, and I start to get real sick again. Gabrielle comes running over after I throw up and gives me some water from a skin, and tells me to drink it slowly. And I can smell how sweet she smells, but I also smell the leather, the heavier scent on her from Xena, and my stomach turns and flushes again.
By the time Gabrielle has changed and cleaned my bandages, Xena has got the fire going good, and Gabrielle goes to cook for her. Xena sits on a log cleaning her armor, looking over to me every little while or so, and I try not to let my hatred show in my eyes. Try to get back under control. And I keep waiting for her to ask me some questions, but she seems to be waiting on something.
Finally, Gabrielle brings me a bowl of some spiced, mushed up eggs she cooked, and at first I think Im going to be sick again, but I try a little bit when she asks me to, and theyre good. I eat the whole bowl and she gets me some more, and sits down beside me. I keep trying not to look at her body, her breasts, but she doesnt seem to notice. Her skin is so nice. She starts talking about how the soldiers we killed were after one of the bounties on Xenas head, and she keeps looking at me with this worried expression, like shes wondering if I know about them. The bounties, at least. Im not going to tell her I know to the dinar what Xena is worth dead, so I just grunt and nod. Finally she asks me what I was doing out there, and I know this is what Xenas been waiting for, and I say, "I live here, " which is true. Now. Thanks to her.
When Gabrielle stands up, her rear end is right in front of me, and I find myself staring at how perfect it is. I see Xena watching me and shes got this big smirk on her face, and I find out, I can hate her even more.
They ask me where Im headed; say I cant hunt with my arm like this; so I ask them if they would take me to Ardus, and I make like theres some family there. So Gabrielle gives the Princess this look and Xena nods and they start breaking camp.
You can tell theyve been doing this for a while, that shes got Gabrielle well trained, cause everything is cleared up real fast. I almost fall over from the dizzies when I stand up, and Xena gives this big exasperated look, and I wait for her to decide to leave me behind. Instead she calls her horse and the big brute comes right over to me like she could talk to it, and the princess picks me up and holds me like a baby until I grab hold of the saddle with my legs. My chest really starts hurting then, and she says, "You all right?", in that smoky voice, and its like she really wants to know. So I nod and somehow she just jumps on, even with me in the way. So, with Gabrielle walking beside us, and me leaning against the woman who killed my family, we move out.
Riding a horse with a serious injury is no fun, and I end up having to hold onto the princess, and I can feel my skin crawling at the thought. But its that or fall. Gabrielle starts trying to talk my mind off stuff, but before I realize whats happening, she catches me in a bunch of lies, but keeps yakking like she doesnt notice. Im getting more confused about her. I keep thinking shes like some kind of slave, and that when I kill Xena, maybe shell thank me, and well, I cant even say what I was hoping for after that. But shes so quick and smart, not like a slave or a kid or nothing. My head starts to ache from her questions and the lying but just like she knew, she changes her questions and starts asking me about how I eat out here alone. So I tell her about the hunting around abouts, and I can tell she thinks Im boasting, but Xena starts in, and boy, I can tell she knows her stuff. She even seems impressed that Ive been doing it since I was eight, that Ive been surviving pretty well on my own for I guess five cycles of seasons. I start to get a warm feeling cause I impressed her; so I think about what they do together and it goes away. But then I cant shake all the pictures in my head, and its a relief when Xena announces were going to take a break. She dismounts and helps me down and I feel that strength again and wonder how Ill ever get my chance.
Well, the break turns into a whole big meal for some reason, and I dont think it was Xenas idea. But she goes off to this big stream, and Gabrielle makes me watch her as she catches fish with her hands. I mean Ive seen bears do something like that, and Im good at spearing them, but this I couldnt believe. And whats really weird is that Gabrielle starts clapping when the princess pulls up a really nice looking trout, and this unholy bitch sort of blushes, yeah, she blushes, and than throws the fish right at Gabrielle. But the Amazon must have been ready for that cause she jumps and catches it, laughing the whole time. I dont know whats going on now, because Gabrielle starts teasing her and Im ready for Xena to take her head off, when she suddenly leaps at her.
I try to stop her but Im too hurt and slow. Gabrielle gets pulled in to the water and they both go under. Theres nothing but me standing in this creek, and the sun and the valley and Im near screaming when Xena comes up for air, with this really scary grin on her face but no Gabrielle. And even though I know shes a killer, I cant believe that Gabrielle is gone. Then theres this big splursh sound right behind Xena, and its Gabrielle! She puts her hands on top of the princess head and shoves her down into the water again, yelling "Gotcha!" She makes like to take off, but before she makes a step theres this big wet warrior standing between her and the shore. And I dont see any fear in her face, but Im still thinking Run!" when Xena gets in a crouch and crooks a finger on each hand, to like, tell her to come closer, all arching her eyebrows like shes going to eat her or something. And Gabrielle is shaking her head and grinning like a moron, and I cant believe what Im seeing. Also, theyre both really wet and they both look so sexy like that, and Im beginning to get embarrassed. I mean, I dont want to get hot about either of them; Xena, cause that would mean she was, well, a woman. I dont know. And I want to respect Gabrielle, but shes so cute and beautiful there that I want to cry. Xena shouldnt ever be this happy, I think, and just like that, I feel real cold inside, just like before a kill, and I leave them to playing, and laughing. Start thinking about my Mom. The dead eyes she had when Da was brought in, after fighting her and her army. When he was just a lump of bones and skin on our table.
On the way up I found some nice green hard wood and I went to my bag and grabbed my knife and a bow string. Thinking I should have made a bow earlier, cause she might be dead already by now. I cut the wood to size and began making the notches at each end. I put it away in my bag before they came back.
Their good mood keeps up for the rest of the day, and when they finally figure out Im not talking, they start playing these dumb guessing games. A couple of times I catch myself about to make a guess out loud, but I bite my lips and keep my mouth shut. So then, Gabrielle starts making up stories about Xena, like she was this hero or something. But she stops sometimes, and then goes back to a part, and begins again. And I realize shes, like, working out the story to tell to other people, maybe convince them that the princess has changed. Telling them lies.
After making camp, and sharing dinner, she starts up again, but this time its about some guy that Xena hurt before she magically became this wonderful person. And how she tried to make up for what shed done, and Ive just about had it. So I blurt out " So what?"
And this stops Gabrielle, and I can see Xena is listening like a cat, and I say, "you cant ever make up for some stuff."
And Gabrielle, gets real sad looking and says, "No, but sometimes, if youre lucky, you get a second chance to try to make it better."
I laugh at her and tell her, "Right. Like if somebody murders or steals, a judge is going to just say, hey, promise to do good from now on and well forget all about it. Thats Justice? For who?"
I can see that I got Xena with that, cause her face closes up even more, but Gabrielle doesnt get fazed at all.
"You wouldnt get much of an argument from her", pointing at the big warrior, "shes turned herself in, and inside out to answer that..."
I just snort.
Gabrielle starts speaking very slowly, like shes thinking it through with each word. "One of the things about growing up, is you find out that there are no easy answers. You discover that bad people can do good things, good people can do evil. Xena and I try to work for what we call the greater good. She, and I, risk our lives all the time now, because we see people who cant help themselves. It doesnt change what bad things we did, but its important, it does make the place we live a little better and safer....Ardis."
It takes me a second to realize that she just used my real name, and I stand up and away from them.
"How do find out my name?" And Im mad and scared, at the same time.
"We heard in the village about this...wild boy. How you lived." She says. "We already knew about , about your family, they told us,... Im sorry Ardis, about your Father and brother..."
Now Im just so cold, theres no feeling in me at all, listening to Gabrielle daring to talk about my family, that SHE killed. My breathing is all harsh and funny, and even though I know Id never have a chance, I grab at my bag. Xena doesnt move.
"Ardis," Gabrielle says softly, "Your mother... she must have loved your father very much...Im sure if she had been thinking clearly, she never would have left you alone like that."
"What do you know about it?" I yell at her, but still in control, I figure.
"I know, I really do. Some kinds of love are just so strong..." and she looks over to Xena, and that tears it for me.
I scream at her. "You think YOU have what my parents had? They were everything to each other! Youre nothing like them! They loved each other so much..." and Im so angry with the tears that start, "They loved each other, not like YOU! They were NORMAL! Not...like.... YOU!"
And I just take off, I dont know where, I just have to get away. As hurt as I am, they could have stopped me easy. I struggle with every breath before I stop and realize theyre not coming. So after a long time, feeling as bad as I ever have in my life, I start back. As I walk, I work on some more arrows. Making em extra sharp.
I spend the whole night just a ways from their camp. And I move around a lot. I keep thinking that Xena is asleep but everytime I lift up my head to look over at them, I can see those icy blue eyes are open and staring right at me.
So morning comes, and Im trying to cool down, to swallow this lump of anger, but my shoulder really hurts. I keep thinking bout how they tried to trick me, knowing who I was all the time; trying to make me like them. Till I hear Gabrielle calling out to me:
"Ardis. We know youre going to follow us, and thats OK. But please, think before you do anything dumb."
And Im thinking all right. Ive been thinking about this for a long time. Dont you worry. And I know my eyes are probably as chilly as Xenas ever were.
They keep moving real slow, and its weird, cause theyre giving me a chance to keep up, to find positions to shoot from. But Ive heard about her catching arrows, so I plan to wait. Im not going to waste a shot. And when they take a break, I start working on one of the arrows real carefully. Knowing its going to be the special one.
So Im still tracking them, and suddenly Xena freezes at what, I dont know. And Gabrielle sees this and gets off the horse fast, and again these guys come charging out of nowhere. Same uniforms as before but more of em. Xenas already got her sword out and I know, Im going to get my chance. So I notch that special arrow, and I wait, just wait for the moment when she cant keep it all in mind.
They were doing fine, I think. The soldiers were getting scared about what theyd started, when I guess Gabrielle slipped or something, and one of the big guys got through and clubbed her really hard, and down she goes. Xena threw that circle thing of hers while fighting like, five of them, and the guy who hit Gabrielle, well, whoosh, his head is gone from his shoulders. But before she can catch the circle, another guy takes his sword and cuts her, bad, along her side, while shes lying there, helpless on the ground. I couldnt believe it. And I look to Xena, expecting that shes going to go completely nuts now, but she drops like SHE was cut, and weirdly, all the fighting stops for a moment.
I know that shes left herself completely open, so I bring up my bow, while the surviving soldiers stop, thinking this is a trick or something. Then they start moving towards her. But Xena just goes over to Gabrielle with her healers bag and throws the guy that cut her aside into a tree, like he was a log in the way. Shes starts acting like theres no one else around, and it looks like Gabrielles not breathing or nothing. But I close my mind to that. Im like ice now. I want to beat the next soldier to the kill and I aim right at her heart, when she looks away from Gabrielle, up at me, not really seeing me.
And shes got the same eyes.
Its like when my mom saw that my dad was dead.
Those cold, dead eyes. Lost, like nothing matters any more.
So I did what anybody would do if they saw a person about to be killed who had their dead mothers eyes. I drew back and shot the guy closest to her right in the meaty part of the gut, and I came charging over that hill like I was a mad man. And Xena seems to come back and see whats going on and cuts the next guy without even getting up. I run through the third, and numbers four and five decide they have better places to be and take off.
So theres just me and the princess, and shes all business now. She grabs my hands and tells me to hold the flaps of the skin where Gabrielles been cut and she starts hitting her and yelling, blowing into her mouth, and all sorts of crazy stuff. But whatever it was, it seems to work, and theres a cough, and her eyes open for a second, and everybodys breathing again. Xena orders me to get water, and starts to work on her, all the time talking and crying.
So, for the next couple of days while shes healing, me and Xena have some kind of truce. We dont talk much, except about hunting, and I find out she doesnt know everything and neither do I. And I show her some things about hiding your scent, and she shows some stuff bout tracking; but theres nothing buddy buddy about it. And after about three days Gabrielle has got some colour, and isnt sleeping all the time, when she calls me over. Shes laying back with her head in Xenas lap, and it still makes me feel weird, and she sees this. And I gotta ask her "Gabrielle,... you could be with anybody you wanted..."
And she puts on this goofy face and she says, "You think I planned this?" and when she says this she pokes Xena hard and gets this mean look from the princess, but this time it makes me laugh. So I get the same look from her and I shut up fast. But Im still grinning cause I see a twitch on her lips like she wants to smile.
Gabrielle sees all this and grins too. But she still wants to talk about it.
"Ardis, I never thought about women, that way, growing up. I thought, like my parents, Id find some nice boy, but maybe Id have a chance to see the world before that. Or with him, if he was special enough. But this" and she poked the princess again, "has nothing to do with Xena being a woman. She could have been a dwarf or a centaur, as long as it was still Xena, the one I was meant to be with." She sees how Im getting really uncomfortable, and but goes on anyways.
" I couldve settled, Ardis. Or I could have let my fear of being different, of going against the way I was raised scare me. But, I took the chance when I found the right person. And its worth every strange look, every bit of danger. Because real love, its so rare, you gotta grab it no matter what container it comes in."
It still feels wrong and I tell her. "But, its unnatural. Look at the animals...."
And Xena puts in her two dinars. "I dont know about all the animals. Anyways, people are pretty unnatural too. Never saw a deer want to get elected to public office yet. Never had a horse tell me how to live." And we look over to Argo, who gives a snort.
I gotta laugh at that, but because I want to understand, I keep pressing. "But what you do, its not..." and I cant find the word.
And Gabrielles got this smile, its not a grin, but a real smile and she finishes for me "...not Right?"
And I look at the two of them, and what they have is so blindingly right that I know thats not the word. She tries again for me. "Nice?" And that makes me laugh, cause I know whatever they have, its gotta be nice... and I start to blush.
Anyways, she says, "Look. You dont have to agree. You can even feel weird about it.. thats OK. But it would be really dumb to decide if you like people, or judge if theyre bad or good because of it. It might even be smart to try looking beyond it, huh?"
Im still feeling strange and sort of mad at them, though. But I figger that its like when Xena was showing me about tracking. I was a bit pissed off learning from her, even though I knew she was right. But I guess its like that with anything new, especially when you think you already know it all.
So, I find out then that wed been heading towards her home town of Amphipolis for a while, and that they would be staying at Xenas Moms, (and that idea threw me, let me tell you) who wouldnt take money from them to stay at her inn. So Xena would usually go out and get some fresh meat or something like that. Her Moms this great cook supposedly, and whenever they were there, people would fill the place to eat whatever Xena caught. But the rest of the time it was pretty well nuts and berries, because theyre only farmers. So she suggested that if I wanted to, I could sort of hang around, and if I ever wanted a warm bed every once in a while, or maybe a stable, I could take Xenas place and help her Mom out. Gabrielle said that she didnt think after all my time alone, Id really want to live in a town, not right away. But I might get used to it. If I felt like it, there were a lot of regular kids there, I could even want to learn to read at the school there, but it was up to me. I could be whatever I wanted, is how she put it.
We got stalled again by some of Gabrielles Amazons on the way, and I got a chance to see she was right. Some are like her and Xena, some arent. They got some nice ladies, a few heavy duty types among em, and some just plan weird. But who they go to bed with doesnt seem to be what divides em into any group that I can tell.
So now were about to go into Amphipolis, and Gabrielle is writing all this down for me, helping me find some of the right words. She said it helps her figure things out to write it out. We did some crying while telling it, but I still dont know what I think about Xena, and what she is now. I dont think that giving somebody a second chance covers what she did, but I know I couldnt hurt her. Gabrielle says love doesnt make any sense. Well, neither does what I did. But I guess after seeing my Mom, like that, I couldnt ever let that happen again. To anybody. Not even to the woman who made her die.
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