~ Echo ~
by Lexx23


AUTHOR: Lexx23 (a.k.a. Lexx223 :P )


RATING: PG (if that)

SUMMARY: Inside Xena's head in the moments before she and Gabrielle are crucified.


AUTHOR'S NOTES: I insinuate repeatedly that Xena loves Gabrielle, but I'm not explicit about physical intimacy or anything like that. This is a little grief spiel. But if the suggestion that Xena loves Gabrielle makes you feel uncomfortable? I recommend flying a kite. It's quite fun! And you'll forget all about being traumatized by my fanfic.
As for you perverts, this one is but an innocent little piece. Instead of offering you crumpets (read: sex), this one's a bit more disturbing. Like fruitcake (read: psychosis). Suggestions of violence ensue. Etc, etc. Blah, blah blah. Enjoy!

How often does history repeat? Seven times seventy, and over and over again. Nails hammered through flesh and bone and the cross that bears a body condemned, are repeat sentences of the damned; victims of Caesar's Rome. The scent of wood - familiar, and the bark reused; the nails, gouged through flesh before me, now placed to pierce my own palms. But this is none of my concern. All pain is wrought by you alone.

Hair, blonde as the day I met you; eyes lightened by alabaster skin, you lie condemned with me, damned by me. A prisoner of Rome to die by crucifixion. A poet dying a warrior's death; betrayed by the romance on which you were raised, fed by, believed. How many of your ideals have died before this moment? Before you raised a weapon and slaughtered all who stood against me; before your mind realised the horror of your desperation; profound desire to protect me?

What was that flash of passionate fear and anger? A searing fury of blindness and need as you abandoned your philosophies to share in the ugliest of my flaws. What juvenile age brought that same awakening to me? When I saved my village from Cortese? When I longed to consume the world and recast it as my own? I am loath to imagine you too, Gabrielle, have fallen to the wretched temptations of my past: my mistakes and failures that have sealed my fate. Who would you be, if life permitted we live, wandering the land; growing old and tired and sick of violence, settled in seclusion, away from the world that harmed us? I imagine we would be damaged indeed, but spoilt together. And you would understand me still.

Why risk all your innocence, your intelligence for this? A bard, a peacemaker, a prisoner, a corpse. You wanted more, I remember; I know. And did you find what you craved? You know what I know now, I'm sure. Life and death, love, hate, murder and blood and rape: reality, cruel and unrelenting. Murder. A world that you despised has become your home. Violence, the womb that I crawled from, mutilated and unforgiving. Now, you tremble in the cold, your body destined to be nailed to a cross. I should have left you in Potidaea that day.

Do you deserve your death? Do you find it fitting for all of the lives you've taken? Divine punishment; justice. Tragic heroes, you and I. With death, your debts are paid, while mine lock me into an eternity of servitude. To what god do I owe my soul, and with my sins, what god will take it? Lives are wasted, Gabrielle, and I suffer now from the grief and agony of lost time. You believed our flaws gave us strength when you were pure, a prophet. Did you foresee my mistakes destroying me; killing you? Perhaps Epicurius was right and you and I were wrong.

Still, remarkably, you turn to me, eyes dark and unafraid; a slight smile on your lips as you speak. Beautiful.

- I love you, Xena.

I smile back, but it is an apology. I can hear the footsteps on the snow approaching, a soldier. The gap between your cross and mine is too large to bridge; my wrists are firmly tied. I cannot reach for you. How useless we are. Our connection is lost. I am greedy for it; I am human. Desperate.

You see the soldier and your eyes change. Fear replaces courage; so you are human too. Of course you are, despite what I imagine you to be, despite what I want. It is your humanity that brought you to me, and what binds you to me still. You must see it now, how sorry I am. I can no longer pretend. I have crucified you. But I worship you, adore you.

The knowing look in your eyes is enigmatic. Clairvoyance. What do you see? Weakness; vulnerability, our ultimate defeat. The soldier places the mallet beside your head and still you stare, eyes guarded now; the half-smile faded. I hear the nails clinking, moved in frost-numbed hands above your palms and feet; yet your gaze holds mine. My forehead is creased with tension, I feel it, and the guilt is overpowering. You see it. You know it. And you turn away from me.

The greatest sin of all my sins; the most regrettable mistake. I craved you, needed you; covet you still. I am your murderer.

I look to the sky so I cannot see you. You will scream when the nails penetrate and it will hurt; the pain will be unbearable. I want to die.

The soldier lifts the mallet up. I hold my breath. I'm sorry, Gabrielle. I'm so sorry.

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