"Perdicas, I know what love is now... it's life. Everything is united by love alone." Gabrielle gently caressed her new husband's hair as she gazed into his eyes. Thinking she saw a flicker of something in his eyes, she stood on her toes and kissed him. He returned it in full. As the newlyweds continued their embrace, they were unaware of the danger approaching them.
"Aw... love, love, love, love...Oh it unites, you're right; and hate divides." The sound of the voice caused the new couple to break apart and see who had interrupted them. Gabrielle didn't have to look to know the voice belonged to Callisto. A shiver went up her spine as her fears were confirmed when she found the insane blonde dismounting from her horse. "Let's see which one's stronger, shall we?"
"What do you want? We're unarmed." Perdicas asked with his arms wide as the murderess walked towards them, drawing her sword while she moved. Gabrielle couldn't help but think that Perdicas was being a bit stupid by asking that. What did he think she wanted?
"Good. That makes things simple then, doesn't it?" she asked with a tilt of her head before raising her sword to strike him. Before the blade could reach him, however, a familiar whirring sound reached Gabrielle's ears and she knew they'd be safe. The sound of metal hitting metal filled the air as Xena's chakram hit the blade of the sword, causing it to miss its target. Gabrielle used the distraction to move Perdicas out of danger, since it seemed to her that he wasn't going to do it anytime soon.
"Xena!" hissed Callisto as the dark haired warrior rode up on her golden mare, effortlessly catching the flying disk that came back to her. "So good of you to join us. You're just in time for the main event." the insane woman said.
"I don't think so." Xena growled before flipping off of Argo and drawing her sword. "You're going back to the prison, Callisto." she promised as she advanced on her foe.
"No!" the blonde murderess cried before letting out an earsplitting scream. She charged at Xena with her sword raised, ready to kill her foe. The dark haired warrior met the blade with her own, pushing back towards the blonde before swooping her sword in the opposite direction. Callisto met her blade, but didn't expect the elbow that accompanied it. Xena elbowed her squarely in the face but the blonde recovered quickly enough to parry a fatal blow from Xena's sword. She swung her own sword horizontally, but Xena ducked under it before sending another elbow into her stomach. Taken by surprise, Callisto doubled over. She had known Xena was quick, but she had never seen her move that fast before.
Using the delay to her advantage, Xena brought her knee up and it connected with the blonde's face. Now dazed, Callisto swung blindly at the air in an attempt to block any attacks that were sent her way. That turned out to be a mistake, for once she had swung, Xena used the opening to send the hilt of her sword flying into the side of Callisto's head. This move successfully knocked the blonde murderess into oblivion.
"Are you okay?" Xena asked emotionlessly as she tied the unconscious woman up.
"We're fine. Thank you, Xena." Gabrielle said quietly. She looked over at Perdicas, who was staring at the unconscious form of Callisto. She nudged him in the side.
"Oh! Thank you, Xena. I don't know what we would have done if you hadn't shown up." he said with fake gratitude. Gabrielle made a mental note to herself to give him a lesson in manners later.
"I'm sure." the dark haired woman replied, being just as sarcastic as he was. Without a word, she shackled chains around the ankles of the would be killer, along with her wrists. She also removed the woman's weapons, conducting a thorough search to make sure she didn't miss anything. After that, she grabbed the length of chain between the woman's wrists and pulled her up, halfway dragging her over to Argo.
"Xena, what's wrong?" Gabrielle asked as she watched her friend chain Callisto to the saddle horn. She had never seen the warrior this quiet. Not even when they were first starting out together.
"Nothing's wrong." Xena replied in the emotionless tone she had used earlier. "I'm taking Callisto back to the jail. You two be more careful." she said, looking over at Gabrielle. Her eyes were a bit softer than they had been before, but a hard look replaced the gentleness as she spoke again. "I won't be around to protect you next time." she warned before sending Argo into a gallop.
'Oh Xena... if only you hadn't left me there.' the blonde figure thought as she tried to block out the pain she was feeling. "Why didn't you come back, Xena? Why did you leave me with him?" The blonde whimpered as a new wave of pain wracked her body and another memory filled her mind.
"Perdicas, why were you so rude to Xena? She saved our lives." Gabrielle chastised her husband as they walked home later that afternoon.
"Are you saying that I'm not capable of protecting us?" her husband asked, turning to face her with a strange expression on his face. The bard recognized it as anger; but she wasn't used to seeing it on gentle Perdicas' face.
"Perdicas, Callisto is a raving lunatic. You're a man that has just given up the sword." Gabrielle started off, trying to choose her words wisely, "Even if your intentions were noble, she would have cut you down. You saw what she nearly did when you told her we were unarmed." The bard certainly remembered what had happened, the memory sending a shiver up her spine. "If Xena hadn't showed up-"
Gabrielle's words were interrupted by a harsh slap, causing her to violently turn her head to the side. The blonde blinked as she raised a hand to her cheek. Had Perdicas just hit her? She slowly turned her head to face her husband, finding a man she didn't recognize in his place.
"We would have been just fine if Xena hadn't showed up. I would have killed that bitch instead of just knocking her out!" he hissed at his wife.
"Perdicas, what were you going to kill her with? Your bare hands?" she asked, unable to stop the words from leaving her mouth. Yet another slap, this time harder.
"Shut up! I would have been able to do it, and you know it." he snarled at her. "The only reason she's still alive is because your little bitch showed up." Now it was his turn to be slapped.
"Don't you ever... ever talk about her like that again. Do you understand?!" she yelled at him, losing control of her temper.
A look of shock appeared on Perdicas' face when he felt the slap and Gabrielle immediately felt guilty. What had she done? There wedding had just been yesterday and already her marriage was falling apart.
'And is that really such a bad thing?' she found herself thinking. 'Yes! If this doesn't work out, where am I supposed to go? I can't go back to Xena. Not after I abandoned her.' Gabrielle turned her attention back to Perdicas. "I...I'm sorry. I didn't mean to." she apologized as he shook his head.
"It's alright." he assured her. "Let's just... Let's go home." he said before leading her further away from the beach, back to their small home. Gabrielle looked back to the place she had last seen Xena and sadly wondered if she would keep her promise to visit. In her heart, Gabrielle knew she wouldn't.
As they approached the house, Perdicas turned back to her.
"Gabrielle, I'm sorry. It's just... hard. I'm trying to go back to the peaceful life I had before you left, but it's still so hard being seen as weak..." he apologized. "You know I love you, right?" he asked. When she nodded her head, he continued. "Gabrielle, I would never intentionally hurt you. I sometimes just get so angry, though, that I can't control my actions."
"Perdicas, you aren't weak. It takes the bigger man to not fight; to throw away his sword." Gabrielle assured him. "As for your temper, I can understand that. It's hard readjusting."
"Forgive me?" Perdicas asked with a lost expression on his face. Gabrielle's heart melted at the sight and she nodded.
"I forgive you."
'Those were the second worst words I've ever spoken.' Gabrielle thought as she tried to block out the pain, both physical and emotional, once again. Of course, the worst words she had ever spoken had been the damning 'I do' she said at their wedding. 'You weren't really sorry, were you?' she wondered in her mind, afraid that if she spoke out loud she would wake the man lying next to her in the bed. 'No, I doubt you were ever sorry for the things you did.' The young woman sighed, and immediately regretted it. She just hurt so much.
Xena had always worked so hard to protect her and had worried over every little cut she received when they traveled together. Then, she had left her with the one person that did more damage to her than any mercenary or thug ever did.
'The Gods are probably laughing at the irony.' she thought with a self-depreciating snort. The noise caused her husband to roll onto his side and lay a hand on her tender stomach. Gabrielle drew in a quick gasp of breath, once again trying hard to block out the pain. What had Xena taught her? To focus...
Gabrielle once again found herself in the memories of the good times, before she had committed to married life a little over a year ago. Exciting adventures with Xena filled her mind, blocking out everything else she was feeling. Even though her and the dark warrior didn't always get along, Xena had never struck her. Well, there was the time that Ares had caused her to go into a rage, but Gabrielle didn't think that counted. Now the man that was supposed to love and cherish her forever hit her on a daily basis. The young blonde woman desperately wished for the time she had spent feeling loved by Xena.
The far off cries of a baby drew Gabrielle out of her thoughts. Her body immediately began to respond.
'Oh Gods, not now...' she thought before carefully removing her husband's hand from her midriff. Ignoring the sharp pains shooting through her sides, she got up from the bed and stumbled towards the doorway. Sometimes she wondered if going on was worth it. Sometimes she wished Perdicas would lose control entirely and just kill her. Of course, he was too cruel of a man to do that. Instead, he kept her alive so he could use her as a human practice dummy. Perhaps the only thing that kept her from letting go was the one that was crying out for her.
"Hold on Nexa. Mommy's coming." she whispered as she made her way to the nursery. Nexa. Gabrielle had named her that because she had wanted to honor her friend Xena somehow. She knew that if she named the girl Xena, though, Perdicas wouldn't be happy. So, she simply switched the letters in the name around a bit and Perdicas was none the wiser. Luckily for her, his intelligence hadn't increased during the year that she was with Xena, or he may have figured it out.
"See? I told you I was coming." Gabrielle said gently as she lifted the baby out of the crib. As she brought little Nexa up to her breast, the former Amazon bard looked around the small room. It wasn't much, considering they didn't have a lot of money, but it was enough to get by with. Inside Nexa's crib was the toy Xena had gotten her for Solstice that year; her little Lammy. Next to it was the blanket that Gabrielle had sewn herself. The color matched Nexa's blue green eyes.
That was another reason why she had named her daughter after Xena. She had some of her old friend's eyes in her. Whenever she looked into the orbs, she was reminded of the great woman she had had the pleasure of traveling with. Oh how she wished she could go back to her; but she couldn't just leave Nexa behind and the road was no place for a mother and baby. Besides, she had no idea where to find her friend.
A giggle brought Gabrielle out of her thoughts. She looked down and found sparkling blue eyes looking up at her. She sighed before bending her head down and leaving a gentle kiss on the baby's temple.
"Who's mommy's sweet little girl?" she asked in a playful whisper. In response, Nexa reached out with a chubby hand and latched onto Gabrielle's nose. The small blonde chuckled, causing her ribs to protest once more. "Ow. Don't make mommy laugh, Nexa." she said with a smile. As she gazed lovingly down at her daughter, she felt the urge to do something she hadn't done since her last adventure. "How would you like to hear a story, my little Warrior?" she asked.
"Goo..." was the response she received from the little girl, who stuck her hand in her mouth. Gabrielle smiled and pulled the girl's digits from her tiny mouth.
"I'll take that as a yes." she said quietly before starting her story, "In a time of Gods, Warlords, and Kings; a land in turmoil cried out for a hero. She was Xena, a mighty princess forged in the heat of battle. Her life was filled with power; passion; and most of all, danger. Her courage would change the world..."
'He definitely doesn't tell it as well as Gabrielle did.' Xena thought as she listened to the bard finishing his tale. Of course, Xena figured she was biased, seeing as she had only heard Gabrielle tell the story before. It was the tale of how the Centaurs and the Amazons joined together after years of fighting. The warrior was still amazed by that, but she was sure that the alliance would hold for quite awhile.
"What's on your mind?" Xena's attention was brought to the auburn haired woman sitting next to her. The warrior shrugged and shook her head.
"Nothing." she replied, not wanting to admit that she had been thinking of Gabrielle again.
"Xena, you had better not be lying to your mother again." Cyrene warned, a stern expression on her face. She crossed her arms and stared her daughter down, trying to will an answer. When none was forthcoming, she sighed. "Xena, I know you miss her. Why don't you go see her?"
"Excuse me?" Xena asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Oh, don't try to act like you don't know who I'm talking about. I'm your mother and I know exactly who it is your mind is on." Cyrene scolded her daughter. Xena bowed her head and nodded. "Don't feel embarrassed, Xena. Like I said, I'm your mother. I'm supposed to know what you're thinking." A chuckle came from the dark haired warrior but a sad expression was on her face when she lifted her head up again.
"You don't understand, mother. This is what's best for her."
"So you've told me every time I ask you about it. Yet, I still find you sitting here every week, more miserable than the last. If you miss her that much, go visit." she told her daughter. 'Honestly,' she thought, 'could she be any more thick headed?'
"I can't! I can't go back into her life. I'm just not good for her, can't you see that?" Xena told her angrily; but there was a hint of sadness in her voice. "Besides, this way she can have a chance at a family." she added on. She wouldn't admit that she didn't want to go because it would hurt too much to see how happy her friend was without her.
"Fine." Cyrene sighed in defeat. She looked at her daughter once more. "If you won't go back to her, Xena... will you at least try to find someone else? I can't bear to see you like this."
The warrior blinked. Replace Gabrielle? Noting her daughter's reaction, Cyrene quickly hurried to ease her fears.
"Not to replace her. Just... to keep you company. I don't want to see my daughter eaten from the inside-out by loneliness." Xena seemed to think it over before nodding.
"Maybe I could team up with Hercules for a little while." she conceded, turning her head away from the older woman's gaze.
"That's my girl!" Cyrene chirped before leaving a kiss on her daughter's cheek. Xena immediately blushed and wiped her hand over her cheek.
"Mother!" she hissed, only to find the other woman gone. The warrior sighed and looked down at her drink. She doubted that she'd enjoy traveling with Hercules. He was a nice guy and they worked well together, but that had really just been a one time thing. Besides, he had Iolaus and she would hate to break up their friendship. Again. Her mother was right, though; she did need to find someone. She knew Gabrielle wouldn't want to find her living like this; roaming from town to town without a clue as to what she was supposed to be doing.
Xena swished the liquid in her cup around before taking a long drink from it. It was going to be a long couple of weeks.
'How exactly does one find a sidekick? I can't just hold auditions for it...' she wondered. The last sidekick she had, she didn't even want. A smile came to her lips as she remembered the blonde following her home; and later, on the road. Gabrielle had never asked. She just knew that Xena needed her.
'I need you now, Gabrielle.' she thought sadly as she finished her ale. 'But I'll never get you back, will I?' Not wanting to continue her sad thoughts, Xena decided to turn in for the night. At least in her dreams she could pretend she was with Gabrielle.
The warrior stood from her table and left a tip on the surface before heading for the nearby staircase. She slowly made her way up the stairs until she made it to the second floor of the tavern.
After reaching her room, she stripped down to her night shift and laid in the bed. As she drifted off to sleep, her last thoughts were of Gabrielle saying 'I do'. Only, it was to her; not Perdicas.
Xena was still looking for a sidekick a month later, when a warlord by the name of Galvius threatened Amphipolis. Obviously he was new in the business if he hadn't heard that Amphipolis was the home city of the warrior princess Xena.
"I've warned you plenty of times." Galvius told the village elder. "Now, either you pay up or we raze Amphipolis to the ground."
"I don't think that will be happening any time soon." The warlord turned at the sound of the voice and found the dark warrior standing behind his army.
"Xena! What are you doing here?" he asked, dumbfounded.
"She lives here, genius!" someone shouted out from the crowd of villagers. Galvius turned back to the villagers and scowled.
"I didn't ask you, now did I?" he snarled.
"But they're right. I do live here." Xena said calmly as she took a step forward. "And I don't take it very well when someone threatens my home."
"You can't take us all on by yourself, Xena. Even you're not that good." he growled, turning his attention back to the warrior woman.
"I don't have to take you all on. I just have to kill you." she told him with a devilish grin as she pulled her sword from its sheath. "Ready to die?"
"Get her!" Galvius ordered as he pulled his own sword out; just in case she got past his warriors. The soldiers let out a simultaneous cry as they charged Xena at once. The dark warrior simply rolled her eyes before letting out her own war cry as she jumped into the middle of the group.
"Yi-yi-yi-yi-yi! Cheee-Yah!" Her sword flew in every direction, parrying blows as she fought her way to Galvius. Behind her, the villagers fought as well, armed with pitchforks, scythes, and other sharp farming instruments.
"Was that really the best you had?" she asked the warlord as she knocked out the last soldier standing between the two of them. She saw him visibly gulp before he jumped off of his steed. 'Oh this is just too easy.' she thought as she took in his scared appearance before he tried to hide it.
"Prepare to die, Xena!" he yelled as he charged her. Xena rolled her eyes once more before meeting him head on, something he hadn't expected. Using the distraction to her advantage, she brought her leg up in vicious kick between his legs. "Hope you didn't plan on creating more little warlords." she growled as he doubled over in pain. Shaking her head, she slammed the hilt of her sword into his head, knocking him unconscious.
"That takes care of that." she muttered as she turned to take in the fighting around her. From what she could tell, there were only a few losses on their side and the remaining forces were dying down. 'Good.' she thought as she quickly joined the fray.
She had just sent a third attacker into a dark oblivion when she noticed a little boy being taken by one of the enemy soldiers. Before her hand could reach her chakram, however, another fighter was taking on the soldier. Xena realized that the auburn haired woman used a short sword and was dressed as a warrior. She seemed to handle herself well, also. In moments, the soldier was unconscious and the woman was kneeling down to comfort the small child. Unfortunately, this meant she didn't hear the rider coming up behind her, his sword drawn.
Xena acted quickly and reached for her chakram. Without a moment's hesitation, she let the sharp disk fly.
A loud thud was heard as the weapon buried itself in the attacker's chest and he was knocked off his steed. The horse reared up in fear, legs kicking. Xena saw the other warrior cover the child with her own body, just in case the animal kicked out at them. Once the danger was gone, though, she pulled back and began visibly wiping at the child's tears.
"Nice moves." Xena said as she approached the woman, who was giving the child back to his mother. The fighting had ended a few candle marks before, and Xena considered herself lucky to find the woman again. The woman turned to face her with a smile.
"Not bad yourself, Xena." she complimented the warrior with a chuckle. The girl was almost as tall as Xena; which was quite an impressive feat, considering how tall Xena was.
"I see my reputation precedes me." the dark warrior joked.
"Well, you do have quite the reputation." the other woman told her. "Actually, that's the reason why I'm here." Xena raised her eyebrow at this statement. "Word has it that you're in the market for a sidekick. Well, I'm here to fill the order."
"And your name would be?" Xena asked as her eyebrow arched even higher. Maybe her search for a sidekick was over.
"Amarice the Amazon, at your service." the girl introduced herself with a not-so-graceful bow.
"Amazon, huh?" Xena asked. The other warrior nodded vehemently. "Well Amarice, I think you've earned yourself a test run." she finally decided. "I'm going to warn you though; I'm not a very nice person and it took a lot out of my last companion to put up with me." she cautioned the younger warrior, her tone now serious.
"I understand, Xena. I can handle it!" Amarice replied confidently with a salute. "So when do I start?" The taller woman smirked. It would be fun running this girl off like she had the others.
"How does tomorrow morning sound?" she asked. Amarice beamed at her and nodded her head.
"Perfect!" the woman told her before heading off towards Cyrene's tavern. Xena inwardly smiled.
The kid had potential, but she doubted she'd last a month.
"We'll just see how you hold up." she muttered to herself before following after her. 'Tomorrow is going to be a big day.'