DISCLAIMER: Xena and the rest of the Xena universe are copyrighted characters owned by Ren Pics and Universal. Lucky bastards!
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This takes place in between scenes (i.e. commercial breaks) of the episode "Antony & Cleopatra."
CHALLENGE: Written as part of the 1001 Nights Challenge - jealousy.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Under the Pyramids
I can't believe she's doing this! What is she thinking? I know she's shrewd and calculating, but this this is playing with a fire we've already been burned with. Doesn't she remember Caesar, Rome, and the crucifixion? She toys with the gods, yanks Ares around by a chain, and fights warlords and crazy women like Callisto, but this this is getting too close for comfort.
The last time we played cat and mouse with the Romans we ended up in an ungodsly battle with each other. I crossed over and saw my own demons literally. I understand now why Xena runs from hers. I relished in torturing Callisto with my words, wanted to see her anguish. I'm not ready to go back there again. All I wanted was peace and time alone, finally, with Xena and Eve. We see how well the whole "let's settle down with the Amazons" went over. She was going to leave and take Eve with her! Xena has to satisfy her wanderlust and as always, I follow, never letting on how much more I need and want from her. Now I watch her getting drawn into a web that I'm not sure she even sees. It's her old self, her old ways. For a brief moment she gets to revel in the ruler she could have been. Yes, I'm afraid for her. But, I'm also afraid for us.
When I watched her kissing Antony and feeding him fruit, giving him that sexy smile that can either set you on fire or strike fear in you, depending on her mood, I couldn't hold back anymore. She said that it means nothing to her and that she has him right where she wants him.
"Where? Between your legs?" The words escaped my mouth before I could snap them back. She leveled that withering glare at me and I knew I had gone too far. I couldn't help myself though. That damned flower he gave her lay between us, separating us. As usual, there was something else that had to be done, something important to take care of, another village to save, another warlord to defeat, or another hot warrior guy to tease into submission. Always something else.
I was angry, and not the "you used our good pan for a weapon" angry, but a viciousness that can only come from too many moons of repressed jealousy. Now she had plans for a romantic rendezvous under the pyramids with him. Great! I felt sick and everyone saw it on my face, except Xena.
My reactions have become more erratic and my comments more biting. I nearly gave into Ares myself and joined him, for Zeus' sake! For five years I've been watching her seduce and destroy men. Sometimes we deliberately plan it that way, like when she blindsided Ares to save Amphipolis, and sometimes we don't, like with Antony. It was her idea alone to impersonate Cleopatra, but I had no idea the extent she planned to take it. First she said that she felt "a little something" for Ares, now she's got Antony in her seductive grip. She says she's just teasing me, but the game is growing old.
Leaning over the ledge of my room looking out into the moonlit desert night, I watch emotionlessly as Xena exits the fortress to meet Antony. My instinct is to follow, as always, but I hold firm to my resolve to stay. Not this time, I won't do it this time. I won't torture myself with the game.
A quiet shuffle breaks my desperate thoughts, "It must be difficult to watch the one you love leave to see another." Shiana spoke in hushed tones. The clever comebacks weren't there, but my clinched jaw must have revealed more.
"A beautiful woman like you shouldn't be alone, Gabrielle," the dark haired woman stepped closer, grazing my arm with a slim finger. I could smell the scents of the desert emanating from her, warmed skin from the intense sun, incense, and sweet wine. The awareness of breasts teasing through the thin material scarcely separating our skin caused a shutter to run through me. Her hand moved higher into my hair where she ran her fingers through it, the other hand drifted across my bare belly. Despite my best intentions, my head lulled back to rest on her shoulder.
I desperately wanted to stop this, but images of Xena under the pyramids with Antony doing gods knows what pushed me beyond reason. Shiana wouldn't be the first woman I had succumbed to when I ached for Xena. Usually I sought them out, the shy barmaid watching me while Xena watches the bad guys or the merchant girl offering more than just her merchandise for sampling. Shopping wasn't high on the warrior's list of fun things to do so those stolen moments were always easier. Despite what my heart knew and my body craved, I surrendered myself to the moment. The guilt would come tomorrow. Tonight, I needed what Xena hadn't been giving.
Quickly turning in Shiana's arms, I pulled her to me, kissing her fiercely, before my mind could develop a coherent response to my body's demands. It had seemed like moons since I had felt this fire stir in my belly. When the soft lips of this exotic Egyptian woman opened for me, releasing an achy moan, I was undone completely.
In a harsh attempt to gain access to the supple body pressed against me, I unconsciously ripped the gossamer material barely covering her. The fire in her dark eyes stirred a need in me I didn't know I possessed. Her smaller, lithe body so different from Xena's muscular frame excited me but for very different reasons. For once, I felt strong, powerful, and desired. I saw her looking at me with the passion Xena had shown Antony earlier. A feral growl rolled in my gut. I pushed her back toward the bed with one hand and stripped myself with the other. Landing on top of her, I claimed her with little pretense.
Shiana's moans and screams echoed in my head as the pulsing around my fingers ebbed. It wasn't until our heartbeats slowed that I sensed it, her presence. I didn't have to see or hear her to know she was there.
"Xena?" I jumped from the bed as I barely caught a glimpse of her retreating from the doorway. "Gods be damned!" I cursed under my breath.
It didn't occur to me that I was racing naked down the hallway, but it didn't matter. In true Xena style, she was gone. No lingering trace at all.
Shiana was putting the remnants of her clothes back on when I returned.
"Sorry about that," I flushed with the memory when she looked up from the ripped material.
"You shouldn't be apologizing," the Egyptian hesitated, "I should. It was stupid of me. If you want I could talk to her."
"Oh, no, trust me, you don't want to do that!" I reached for the remnants of my clothes on the floor, doing my best to get the flimsy material back on.
"Are you sure?"
Setting my jaw, "Definitely, this talk has been a long time coming. I'll take care of it."
Stepping up to me, she gently took my hand and kissed the tips of my fingers, "I could take care of you, if you want."
Looking at her incredulously, "Well, that apology didn't last long, now did it?" She looked at me for a long moment, staring into my soul.
"Just checking," she brushed by me to leave.
"Checking what?" This woman was more confounding than a prophecy from The Fates!
Turning, she tossed a lopsided grin my way, "That's there is only one woman that can truly have you." The truth hit me. No matter what I had done, or would do, only Xena had my heart and my body. She was the only one I wanted to belong to completely. I knew exactly what I had to do.
"I I," Standing in front of her, the words just wouldn't come out. I had searched for her throughout the palace last night, finally giving up. It was just like Xena to take off when emotions got involved, but I had found her at the end of a long day. Octavius wasn't involved in the plot to kill Cleopatra, that much I had figured out. Xena hadn't been so fortunate. She had left to find out if Antony and Octavius could work together on taking Brutus down, but she had learned that Antony's thirst for power was stronger than she had first anticipated. At my prompting, I had asked her if we could talk when she returned, and of course, when I needed my words desperately, I was speechless. For years, my words and Xena's cunning and brute strength had gotten us out of terrible situations, even death. For the first time in my life though, I wasn't sure if I could fix this with words.
"Well? You what?" I stood there mute, her etched face and icy blue eyes inches from mine. "What Gabrielle?! Say something if you're going to say it!"
Shaking her head, she turned in a huff to leave. The images and the imaginings of the past few days flooded my mind even while my legs were pinned down as if all the gods on Olympus were sitting on my shoulders. I felt the words stumble from my mouth with years of pent up anger and hurt behind them, "Who in Hades do you think you are, Xena?!"
The echo of my voice reverberated off the cold walls and vaulted ceilings. She stopped dead in her tracks at the edge of the long doorway. The guards on either side of her, once looking on in abject fascination, attempted to retreat inconspicuously into the darkness, cutting their eyes to each other in the universal "we didn't see a thing" look.
"What did you say?" Shades of disbelief with highlights of indignation colored her voice. It's moments like this that I see the Destroyer of Nations residing just underneath the surface. The thought sent a flicker of fear mixed with anticipation down my spine. This wasn't the way I envisioned this conversation going, but we were on this path now and it had to be finished.
"You heard me," my tone was deadly calm, a challenge to the foreboding woman slowly approaching me once again, "How dare you get angry with me? You've done all but beg Antony to let you carry his first born male child, and you expect me to feel nothing!"
"I was trying to gain his trust, not fuck him."
"Yet," the chiseled face moved quickly from shock to anger. Her body coiled, wanting to strike, but I refused to blink. Long moments passed.
"You bitch," she growled out.
"Am I? For wanting to feel the warmth of another?" She shook her head at me and started to turn around to leave again. "Don't you DARE walk away from me, Xena!" She stopped again but didn't look at me. I took a deep breath and continued, "Blame me fine. It was wrong and I know I shouldn't have slept with Shiana, but there was a reason."
"And I bet it was a really good one, right?" When she finally looked at me, her smirk wasn't convincing. I could see a tiny quiver at the corner of her mouth. Gods, what have I done?
Throwing my hands up in the air, "It was jealousy, Xena. Pure and simple. For moons, you've hardly touched me. Hades, you've hardly looked at me! But I see you falling easily into a role with Antony, one that was so natural to you, and I was afraid I was losing you. I could never compete with Antony for you. I certainly could never compete with your lust for power. I'm not a warrior like him and and, gods, I felt so insignificant, so unimportant to you," I turned away so she wouldn't see the tears starting to fall, "For a brief moment, I I felt, I don't know, needed, wanted desired," I shook my head to clear it, "I can't say much except I'm sorry." So much time passed that I thought she had left the room. I dropped my head in defeat and turned to leave.
The kiss came so hard and fierce that I thought I was, at first, being attacked. Then I felt the familiar mouth and the taste of the woman I had always loved. Her dark hair falling around us, creating a cocoon. The sensations stoked the fires I had put on hold with Shiana last night. I was losing myself in the feel of her hands and mouth, but knew that more needed to be said, knew we had to understand each other, before we could move forward. Gently, I pulled away and looked at her. Her iridescent blue eyes had turned dark with desire.
"Xena," she put a finger to my lips.
"No, Gabrielle, let's not talk. Just know I'm sorry for neglecting you and you will never, ever have to compete with anyone for my heart," she sealed her promise with a kiss. This one tender and lingering.
The tears fell freely again, but this time in joy.
"Don't cry, baby," gently she reached her fingers up to wipe them away.
I pulled her to me fiercely, "Gods, Xena, I'm sorry."
"Hey, stop apologizing."
"I'm sorry," she paused and looked at me with a quirked eyebrow before we both burst out laughing, "Okay, okay got it."
"Good," she held me loosely in her arms, letting her fingers trace my spine, exposed by the next-to-nothing outfit I wore, "But, you know what?"
"Ummm, what?" The devilish look on her face made me wonder what she was up to.
"I think I kind of have a thing for bad girls too," she flicked her eyebrows up and down.
"Oh really, well, um, how bad do you like your girls to be?"
"Bad enough to make me beg," she pushed her hips into me, making me groan.
I licked my lips, anticipation building with our familiar banter, "Hmmm, for mercy or for more?" Oh yeah, I had missed this.
She leaned down close to my ear and nipped at the lobe, "Both."
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