~ Do You Know? ~
by Lawlsfan

Mild Alternative Sexual Content: This vignette depicts deep and enduring love between two consenting adults who just happen to be women. In this story, they share a special 'something' that some may find offensive. Although I really hate having to disclaim this content I suppose I am bound by convention to do so. So if you are not at least 18 years of age or this type of material offends you then perhaps you should read something else. There are plenty of great classic general X:WP stories out there.

Mild Spoilers: Elements of the third season episode "One Against An Army" and the fourth season episode "Ides of March", specifically the dungeon or jail scene, have been borrowed and incorporated into this story.

Xena:Warrior Princess, its characters, and all related materials are the property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures 1995-1999. The story idea in "Do You Know?" 1999 Lawlsfan. Any resemblance to real persons or locations is strictly coincidental. This story may not be copied and/or reproduced in any form without express written consent from the author. "Do You Know?" was completed on 11/12/99.

A super big "Thank You" to MaryD at the Australian Xena Information Page for the XIPPY Award. I am truly honored.

Feedback is always welcome at: lawlsfan@aschweb.com. Don't be shy, tell me how you feel.

"Even in death Gabrielle, I will never leave you?"

Your words of the past are a thankfully numbing mantra to my brain as I listen to the sounds of crosses being built beyond the confines of our cell. Death will come soon and we will face it together, you and I. Here we are at the hour and I am finding myself humbled and reverent in your unfaltering grace, not that I would have expected anything less of you. But you're a broken mass of flesh and bone, and your pain is so obvious as you lie unable to move in my arms and still you are able to draw from a well of strength deep within to reassure me, "don't cry." I smile and beseech you quietly to close your eyes and rest. You do so while I lose myself to my own resignation. We wait in silence for the hammering outside to cease and for our destiny to be fulfilled.

Funny thing destiny, I would have died before I would have ever brought you to this. Ha, how ironic. And you knew you could have changed it for yourself and yet you stayed true to its course, for me. Indeed, we've known for some time that it would confront us. But while you envisioned it, I denied it and while I denied, you believed. So now here we are, and as destiny would have it, you the mighty warrior have been finally felled by a simple unrelenting wickedness that has tortured both of us for so many moons. Such pain and misery they have indeed wrought upon us. We have both tried to get past it; past the hatred, past the bitter longing for the sweetness of revenge. But the haunting would never cease. And now at this moment it continues and all I can think is that I want their revenge to be bittersweet, I want it to sting their souls as a serpent's venom. But bittersweet is that as we face our darkest night we are together, always together...always. Oh I truly believe Callisto will not win this last battle. She cannot because we will not lose. There is no way that we can because we've got each other. No, the tortuous darkness will be hers to suffer alone. And as for Caesar, well in destiny I believe he will also find his match. Yes, vengeance may actually be ours in the end and I can almost taste its sweetness on my tongue. I believe?.

You moan softly then and open your eyes, your head resting lightly in my lap. I watch spellbound as a tear escapes from your eye and rolls slowly down your cheek. Down, down it flows and with it descends my heart. By the gods fate is cruel. I long to stroke and sooth your pain, to feel it come upon me, to embrace it as though it were my own. Let your suffering be mine. Sweet Zeus, please let her suffering be mine! But still you hurt and I can only close my eyes and curse the heavens for the fates' merciless cruelty. My thoughts spiral momentarily into regret, a ride through deep dark self-doubt spurred on by your pain.

What could I have done to alter this destiny? If only I had not walked blindly down that path. If only I had fought it by your side all along. But it was just my way: the way of growth, the way of learning, the way I had chosen for a time as my own. And it was your way to have stepped aside to watch me grow from a child, to a friend, to a woman, and finally to a believer in my own inner power. Patient and unassuming you watched it all and allowed me the freedom to stumble along my road of self-discovery. You held me up, let me fall, picked me up, let me fall, let me learn, and most importantly allowed me to be human. Yes my friend, only human; so what could I have done to alter this destiny? I look at your face and into your eyes so soft and filled with an odd peace and I realize that regret has no place here, only faith and love. But still I must inquire of myself, what could I have done to show you how much I love you for allowing me to be human? There must be something I can say now so that you will know. I feel my heart begin to race as the sound of hammering abruptly stops. They are ready for us.

Oh truly, what can I say? Words, words, words, they mean nothing. They are but empty sounds we utter when the mood so inclines us in a world that at times is far too noisy for us to hear or to even comprehend them. Swirling in that din of everyday existence, words are merely interpretive pretenses of our souls' truest meaning and they are quite often fleeting. Yes words are so beloved to a bard that I somehow feel they are the masters of my soul. Yet I truly like to think that I master them as well, just as you the warrior master your sword and chakram. But today your chakram has turned on you at the hands of another and it seems that my precious words have forsaken me as well and left me a slave to their uselessness. For here we are at the hour and I know not of what to say to express how I truly feel. Could you know anyway? Do you know? Your eyes gaze up at me in wonder, in pain, in sorrow, in anger, in relief. Those menacingly beautiful, penetrating eyes; it sorrows me to see the tears that fill them and that wash away your indomitable spirit. No you don't have to say a word, I know. Words cannot save us now.

They're coming for us. I can hear the footsteps down the corridor. Closer?closer they come and nearer to our dark destiny we are falling too quickly. "I will never leave you?." My swirling thoughts are rapidly racing toward despair; I despair for the truth. Do you know the truth? You have to know the truth. By the gods you are so beautiful. "Even in death?." Hold on to me and don't ever let go! You appear startled as menacing, cold hands are reaching and pulling?pulling us apart. In desperation I hold on to you and propel pleading words in an attempt to shun their intrusion.

"No! Not yet!" I have not told you. I must tell you. They must give me time. "Please just one more minute! Please?"

The nameless and faceless abductors slowly and reluctantly relent for the moment and I gaze into your face once more in silence. Love is the most powerful force in the universe, right? So why do the words 'I love you' sound so hollow in my mind at this moment? I cannot force them past my lips. Instead I draw your head back into my arms and cradle you close to my breast. You seem content to rest there and to breathe your last. If only it could be so easy. But the end will be cold and stark and painful. You know that. Yet your face is aglow with bravery, dignity, and trust. Can you hear my heart beat for you? I place my hand against your jaw and draw your face toward me. There is a chill there, upon your skin. But your icy eyes they burn with fire. Your eyes defiantly declare, "I will never leave you?."

Our moment is up. The menacing hands impatiently and mercilessly descend once more, grabbing at you and trying to tear you from my embrace. I pull you closer, tighter to me, holding on, fighting them off with every ounce of strength I've got. With the power of love, our love, I'm holding on. I know the truth?do you? Words have failed me but love has not, and it never will. I believe in its power. For the first time and the last, I place my lips upon yours in love and for that one precious moment in time our silence is broken. Your lips are warm and soft and lingering and responsive to my tentative and silent declaration. And then, I realize that you know?you've known all along haven't you? "Even in death Xena?I will always love you."

We can only smile at one another in silence as they drag you away from me. But it's enough because I know that you know. Alright then, let eternity begin?.

The End

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