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Fire and Water

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Fire and water
Xena kept her head down as she walked into the tavern. She could feel people's glares as she made her way to the counter. It was the same everywhere she went. People saw her for who she used to be. Who would blame them? She had done a lot of awful things. Now she had moved on trying to undo all the wrong she had done. It didn't seem to matter though. People still saw her as the tyrant she used to be.

"Well if it isn't the fearsome firebender Xena. The destroyer of nations." One man in the tavern boldly announced. Xena ignored him like she had the others she had come across. "A mug of ale." she requested to the bartender. She took a swig of her drink once it was handed to her. Her neck tingled as she could sense the men gathering around her threateningly. Xena wasn't scared of them. She could easily take them. She just wanted to be left alone. The men crowed around her spewing insults at her. She just continued to ignore them.

They were getting too close for comfort. "Back off!" She growled. Her threat silenced the men. One however, either had too much to drink or was naturally foolish, pulled out a knife. "What are you gonna do Warrior Princess? Kill me just like all those innocent people you murdered." Xena spun and kicked the knife out of his hand. She jumped up and grabbed him by the collar of his shirt. Her anger fueled her as she pulled one arm back ready to punch. Fire ignited from the fist causing the man to cower. Xena held the fist back contemplating whether to strike. Her anger diffused. The man was a jerk but didn't deserve to be harmed. She was the one who deserved punishment. Xena relaxed her grip on the man and put away her fire. The tavern was silent. She grabbed her mug, chugged down the remaining ale, wiped her chin, and stomped out the door.

She walked her horse, Argo along the trail. Her emotions were tormenting her. Anger raged through her, mixed with guilt and despair. She stopped on the path. She was close to the river. That meant there were water tribe villages nearby. She looked behind her then ahead.  Why should she go on? Why did it matter? She was headed no where. "Go on Argo. Go graze somewhere." Xena commanded the horse. Argo hesitated but eventually turned and disappeared into the trees. Xena headed towards the river. It was still a mile away. Her heart felt heavy with self hatred. She pushed through the trees feeling lost.

The river was now in sight. Xena sunk to her knees and watched the river flow. She stripped off her armor, the thing that marked her as the warrior princess, and buried it under a pile of leaves. Just then she heard voices. She hurried and hid behind some bushes. She peeked out to see a few burly looking men herding a group of girls together. One girl tried to run but was caught by her hair and pulled back into the group. "Please let us go." the girls pleaded. The men just laughed nastily.

Xena watched as a girl with long reddish blonde hair stepped up to the men. "Take me and let the rest go." Xena was amazed at the girl's courage. One of the men back handed the blonde and she stumbled back. This angered Xena. "Gabrielle!" another girl shouted as she moved to catch the blonde. The girl named Gabrielle glared at her captors then moved her arms in an odd fashion. Water from the river rose up and flew towards the men. It splashed them leaving them soaking wet. "She's a waterbender." Xena thought to herself. The only effect Gabrielle's waterbending had was angering the men more. The one who had struck her before now drew his sword.

Xena wasn't sure why but she now found herself stepping out of the bushes. "Hey why don't you scoundrels pick on someone else." The men turned and laughed to see one women standing there. Xena let out her war cry and did a spinning kick in the air, showing off her firebending. The men rushed at her. She quickly learned that one was a waterbender and one was an earthbender. The other two appeared to be non benders. Xena dodged the bands of water being hurled at her. The ground shook below her feet and she jumped to avoid getting caught by the earthbending. She shot fire towards the earthbender. A wall of earth came up protecting the man. She punched and kicked the waterbender unconscious then sent a fireball to shatter the earth wall, knocking the earthbender back. Xena fought the non benders hand to hand. She looked over at the earthbender, expecting him to have recovered by now. He had but he was advancing towards the girl named Gabrielle. Xena noticed he was dripping wet again. "Unbelievable that girl." Xena grumbled under her breath. She launched a fire ball. It hit the man square in the back, knocking him down. Xena snarled and the men scurried away.

The group voiced their thanks as Xena escorted them back to their village. Gabrielle pushed her way through the crowd to walk next to Xena. "That was amazing. How you firebended against those guys, it was really something. When you hit that earthbending barrier with a fireball? How did you learn to fight that well? You took on four men at once and two were benders." "You weren't bad your self. That was quite brave to stand up to them and fight back." Xena replied to get the blonde to stop talking.

It didn't work. Gabrielle had more to say. "Thank you but I didn't help at all. You did everything. I am a waterbender but I don't know how to waterbend very well. I have know one to teach me. I am the only waterbender in my village." Xena was suprised to hear this. "How can you be the only waterbender? This area is waterbending territory. There should be villages full of waterbenders here. Why don't you check the next village over to see if there is anyone to teach you?" Gabrielle shook her head. "There are no other waterbenders around here since Draco wiped them all out. Father forbids me from using my bending because Draco might come and take me away. Today I thought that that would come true. Those men were Draco's."

Xena's mind reeled. She knew Draco. He had been her ally back when she was a warlord. She didn't realize that he had been wiping out benders. He himself was a nonbender but was well skilled in combat. She would have to have a word with him.

The village was grateful to have the girls back safe. "Xena saved us." Gabrielle informed them. "Xena, the Warrior Princess?" One older man asked. "That's right." Xena confirmed unenthusiastically. Gabrielle led Xena to her home to rest. She gave Xena something to eat and drink. Soon a crowd came in including Gabrielle's parents. "We appreciate what you did but you are not welcome here. We know who you are and what you have done." Gabrielle's father said. Xena wasn't surprised by their hostility. "I will be on my way out then." She said.

The crowd left but Gabrielle stayed. She came to sit across from Xena. "Where are you heading?" Xena looked curiously at the young blonde girl for a moment before answering. "Amphipolis." "You have to take me with you, teach me everything you know." "Sorry I travel alone." Xena said as she picked up her sword in its scabbard. She had dug up her armor and weapons and called Argo back after the attack. "But you've gotta let me go with you. I am a waterbender, I want to learn how to use my bending and fight like you. I don't belong here. I feel like I am meant for so much more than a simple village life." Gabrielle pleaded. Xena gave her a look that discouraged any further arguments. Gabrielle's ambitious expression shifted to a submissive one. Xena expected to see fear but instead saw, wonder? It slightly threw Xena off but she didn't show it. "Now don't think about following me." Xena warned before heading out the door. First thing was to talk to Draco and see what he was up to.

Chapter Text

It was night when she arrived at Draco's camp. "Hello Draco." Xena said as she held a knife to his throat. She had snuck up from behind. He chuckled and Xena relaxed the knife. They clasped arms. "Xena, it's good to see you. I was hoping you would come by after my men reported seeing you today. What have you been up to these days? I heard you don't have an army anymore." Xena shrugged. "Who needs an army anyway. I decided to go down a different path, travel on my own for a while."

Draco ran a finger along her jawline. "So your path led you here?" Xena gently pushed his hand aside. "As you have heard, I ran into some of your men today. I thought I would come see what you are up to. I heard you wiped out all the waterbenders around here." Xena informed him. Draco smiled proudly. "That I did. It makes it easier to control the villages when they don't have powerful waterbenders to protect them." Xena paced around his tent. "Those people your men had were non benders, innocent girls. What purpose did your men have with them?" she asked. Draco huffed in disbelief. "You act is if you were never a warlord, Xena. Slave girls. I was looking for a few slave girls to trade. Is that a problem?" Xena fought the urge to punch him. "Yes Draco that is a problem. Those were innocent people."

Draco's expression turned grim. "You've changed Xena. Turned soft. I hope I don't have to worry about  you getting in my way." He challenged her. Xena stood in front of him, her face uncomfortably close to his. She looked him in the eye. "I will if you harm anymore innocent people." Draco didn't dare to respond. She looked as if she would torch him right then and there if he stepped out of line. She left his tent without a word.

The next morning she was on the road to Amphipolis, her home. She had dreaded coming here. It had been years since she had been home. She dismounted Argo and entered the Tavern. The tavern was owned by her mother. Silence rippled through the crowded tavern when they noticed her. Xena had conquered villages, fought numerous battles, and faced dangerous opponents but she felt small standing in that tavern.

Her mother, Cyrene stepped forward, her arms crossed. "Hello mother. I'm home." Xena said weakly. "No. This is not your home. Your actions have disgraced this village. You are no longer one of us. Now why are you here?" Xena's mother said coldly. Her words stung. "I know it's been a long time and I have done some bad things. I am sorry. I am a changed person now. Please give me another chance." Xena told the crowd. Her mother stared her down. "Sit down. I will get you something to eat." she commanded. Xena picked a nearly empty table. The men already sitting at it scooted as far as they could from Xena. Cyrene brought her some stew and bread to go with it. Xena thanked her and began eating. The tavern slowly resumed normalcy. It didn't last long though.

The sound of a galloping horse could be heard from outside. Everyone looked up as a frantic rider entered. "There is an army on its way. They carry the banner of the warlord Draco." He managed to say as he caught his breath. Everyone turned to look at Xena. "She led him here." an angry citizen accused. "She is probably working with him." another suggested. Xena stood up defensively. The others saw this as a threat and a few ignited a firebending flame in their hand. Cyrene interjected. "No firebending in my tavern." The civilians hesitated deciding how to handle the situation. "Very well. Let's take her outside and beat her." One suggested.

Xena narrowed her eyes and prepared for a fight. "Wait." A voice from the crowd objected. A young blonde woman pushed her way to the front of the group. It was the waterbender named Gabrielle. "Hold up. I know you guys think that Xena is your enemy but she's not." Gabrielle defended Xena. The crowd argued Gabrielle's claim. The young woman held up her hands to silence everyone. "I am telling you Xena is good. Despite what I have heard about her, I can see that she has changed." The crowd still threw out arguments. "Listen." Gabrielle continued. "She saved me and several others the other day from Draco's men. She is not on his side. Besides if she was working with Draco, how upset do you think he would be to find that you beat up his partner?" The crowd exchanged glances and hushed discussion in response to Gabrielle's words.

They didn't have time make any further decisions. The sound of approaching horses interrupted them. The people in the tavern waited nervously. Draco came in followed by two of his men. He spotted Xena. "I knew I would find you here Xena." Xena stepped forward. "What's the matter Draco, miss me too much." She mocked. Draco gritted his teeth. "I decided that you are too much of a problem to ignore. I came too take care of you for good." "You wanna fight do ya? Fine you, me outside now." Xena challenged, her hands on her hips. The crowd followed Xena and Draco outside.

Xena set some conditions. "If you win, I will let you be. You can do what you please. If I win, you leave the area or quit as a warlord." Draco thought about it. "Fine. No firebending allowed though." His pride underestimating her ability to fight without her firebending. He convinced himself that she had grown weak since her days as a warlord. He quickly discovered he was wrong. Minutes into the fight he began to fear for his life. He was an excellent fighter but she out matched him. Xena swung her sword. He dodged but not quick enough. The sword grazed his shoulder. This distracted Draco just the slightest bit. It was enough though and Xena kicked the distracted warlord in the jaw. He fell to the ground dazed by the blow. Xena pinned him down with her foot and held her sword to his throat. "I win." She said in threatening tone. He growled in defeat. She stepped back allowing him to get up. He and his men mounted their horses and rode away. Xena hoped he would follow through on their bargain.

The people of her village suddenly had a change of heart towards Xena. They cheered at her victory and a few came up to congratulate her. Xena accepted their sudden kindness. Her mother nodded her approval and Xena saw a hint of a smile. "Using her manners, Xena excused herself from everyone. There was someone else she had come to see too.

Xena stood over her brothers grave. She spoke aloud as if her brother were actually there. "I miss you. I know you would understand and forgive me. The village may have cheered for me but that doesn't change how they really see me. Even mother doesn't trust me. It's so hard to be alone."

"You're not alone." a voice from behind her said. Xena turned to see the blonde girl, the waterbender from Portitadia, the one who had stood up for Xena in the tavern. Xena felt a wave of gratefulness toward the girl. "Gabrielle wasn't it? Come on, let's get out of here before the villagers remember how they really feel about me." Xena said. Gabrielle frowned. "You don't want to try and talk to them? You came here to make amends right? They might be one step closer to accepting you." Gabrielle tried to convince her. Xena shook her head. "It was a mistake to come here. I guess I am not ready to fix things and neither are they." Gabrielle's eyebrows scrunched in concern. "Someday though right." "I suppose someday." Xena reassured her.

The two of them sat by the fire that night. "Alright. I hope you enjoyed your adventure today because first thing tomorrow I am taking you back." Xena told Gabrielle. "Xena, come on. Let me travel with you. You know if you take me back, I will just follow you again." Gabrielle argued. Xena stared at the girl pondering. She supposed having some company wouldn't be too bad. The girl had already begun to worm her way into Xena's heart. Xena tossed a bedroll to Gabrielle. Gabrielle caught it and smiled hopefully. Her smile was contagious and Xena couldn't help return it. "So where we headed?" Gabrielle asked happy to see Xena change her mind. "You want to learn waterbending right?" Xena replied.

Chapter Text

Fire and water Ch 3
Xena sat mindlessly whittling a stick as she watched Gabrielle practice her waterbending. "Look Xena, I think almost got it. Wait, no. Come on almost...darn. I really thought I had it that time." Gabrielle pouted when after about the the millionth time trying had failed.

Xena sighed. "Gabrielle why don't you take a break, you've been practicing for hours." "Fine." Gabrielle trudged over and plopped down next to Xena. "Why can't I figure it out? Xena I have been traveling with you for a month now and have hardly made any improvement."

The girl looked so discouraged, Xena felt bad. She wanted to comfort her somehow but was still uncertain how. Her hand moved and hovered over Gabrielle's shoulder before quickly moving it back. If Gabrielle noticed, she didn't say anything. Xena instead used words to comfort her traveling partner. "Don't be so hard on yourself. Bending is easier for some people so they learn quicker. You will get it. I wouldn't have let you come with me if I didn't see potential in you. That and your stubbornness." Xena teased with the last sentence. Gabrielle looked at Xena and gave a slight smile. "Come on let me help you practice a little bit more before we head towards the next town." Xena said, standing.

She took one of their bowls and filled it with water from the lake that Gabrielle had been practicing with. She brought the bowl over and placed it in front of Gabrielle. Sitting next to her, Xena gathered a small pile of sticks.

"We will start small. I know firebending and waterbending are different so what works for me might not work for you. I thought that teaching you how I learned would work but I guess I was wrong." A flame spread from her palm to light the pile of sticks. Xena relaxed her hands on her lap. "For example, the power behind firebending is in the breath." Xena told her. Xena closed her eyes and began deep breathing. The small fire in front of her rose and fell in rhythm with her breathing.

Gabrielle had seen Xena do this before but now tried to apply it to waterbending. She remembered meeting a few waterbenders while traveling with Xena. One had mentioned something about feeling the chi run through her veins. Watching Xena she made the connection. "Oh! Maybe for waterbenders it is in the blood instead of the breath. Remember what that guy said the last village over? I needed to feel it in my veins." Gabrielle reasoned out loud.

Xena stopped her deep breathing bending and turned to Gabrielle. She was pleased that Gabrielle had already grasped the idea before she even explained it. "Try it out. Use the water to put out this fire " She encouraged. Gabrielle focused on the bowl of water, her hands out stretched. The water rose a few inches then a bit higher. It wobbled as it formed a short pillar. Gabrielle shifted her arms ever so slightly and the water broke from her control and splashed back into the bowl.

Gabrielle dropped her hands in defeat and bit her lip. Xena saw she was holding back tears. She moved closer to her and lifted Gabrielle's arms for her to try again. Gabrielle obeyed and focused again. "Relax." Xena instructed as she gently pressed Gabrielle's shoulders down. Xena leaned in close to Gabrielle's ear so she could speak softly. "Feel the energy within you. With every heartbeat it pulses through you. You can do this. Just let that energy transfer to the water."

Gabrielle focused on her heartbeat and the chi that flowed through her. She let that chi flow to the water. It was working. The energy moving around the water was almost tangible. The water moved more easily. She willed it into a watery sphere and carefully commanded it to float over the fire. She withdrew the energy back. The water dropped and extinguished the fire.

She turned to look in amazement at Xena. "I did it." she whispered. "Thank you. I couldn't have done it without you." She sincerely thanked her. Xena moved back to give Gabrielle her personal space again. "I told you that you could do it. Did it feel different this time?" "Yeah." Gabrielle said thoughtfully. Xena motioned her head towards Argo. "Come on we better get going if we want to make it to town for dinner.

Later that night, the two of them were getting ready for bed. They had gotten a room and supper at a busy tavern after doing some shopping. Gabrielle was repacking the newly bought items in their packs. Xena removed her armor and fell onto her bed.

"Hey Xena, I wanted to talk to you about something." Gabrielle said. She made sure Xena was listening before continuing. "When we were walking around town today, I met a group that are headed to the School of Athens. I have been thinking about it and have decided that is the best place I can learn to waterbend." she stopped to gauge Xena's reaction. "I want to go there but at the same time I don't. I wanted to travel with you Xena to become a waterbender and feel weird to just leave you. You have become my friend and I would miss you. You probably won't miss me much though. Anyway, what do you think?" she waited for Xena's reply.

Xena felt her stomach churn. She didn't want to lose the company of Gabrielle. "Of course I would miss you Gabrielle. Even if I was surrounded by an entire army I would still notice your absence." Gabrielle cocked her head at the statement and Xena quickly moved on. "You want to learn how to waterbend. I think you should go." Xena said. She wanted the best for her new friend.

Gabrielle was glad to have Xena's support. "When I am done with my training in a couple of years, I will come find you and we can travel together again. Did I mention they have a school of bards too? You know how I like to write and tell stories." Xena smiled. She was happy for Gabrielle. "When do you leave?" She asked. "Tomorrow morning." was Gabrielle's reply. Again Xena felt her stomach drop. "Well better get some sleep then." she was losing her ability to act excited.

Morning came and they both parted ways. Gabrielle hugged Xena tight before promising to study hard and someday reunite with Xena. Xena felt a hollowness in her chest as she walked alone with Argo. Gabrielle on the other hand, was bursting with excitement. She talked with her new traveling buddies as they made their way to Athens. Some were benders and some were not. They all liked her stories about Xena.

The second day at the school, Gabrielle's excitement faltered. Learning to waterbend was more challenging for her than the others. Her peers encouraged her but it didn't feel the same as when Xena encouraged her. As the week went on she missed her warrior friend even more. She missed traveling, seeing new places, and sleeping under the stars.

She thought about the last time Xena had helped her waterbend. Xena had asked her if it felt different that time. Truth is that it had. For one thing she was able to focus on the energy of waterbending. Having Xena there, close to her helped calm her down. She felt comfortable around Xena. Being away from her made her feel a bit of emptiness.

It wasn't all bad though. She did improve a good deal in just a week. On one occasion she worked nearly all day with her instructor on a bending move. The instructor's patience ran out by the afternoon and Gabrielle was left alone to practice. Dinner time came and passed. The sun was starting to set when she had her breakthrough. She finally managed to complete the move. A big wave of water swished around her as she moved her arms. She aimed it at the target and was ecstatic as it was knocked down by the wave. She jumped up and down shouting for joy. "Whoo! I did it! I can't believe it Xena I-" She stopped short when she realized she was alone. Oh how she wished Xena could have seen that.

A couple of days later she made a tough decision. A week of being at the school and she decided to quit. There were a few reasons. One was that the teachers had admitted how hard it was teaching her. She could have stayed to be a bard but only men were allowed to be bards. She said her goodbyes and set out in a hurry. She knew the direction Xena was heading but would have to rush to catch up with her.

She found Xena just as she had hoped. Gabrielle casually joined her place on the trail beside Xena as though she had never left.  Xena had heard her catch up and looked at the blonde in surprise. She tried not to react too much but having Gabrielle walking next to her was too good to be true. "What happened?" Xena asked with a smile she couldn't hide. Gabrielle shrugged and smiled back. "That school wasn't for me. I would rather learn waterbending at my own pace. Also they have this ridiculous rule against women being bards." "Your kidding me." Xena shot back supportively. Gabrielle shook her head to confirm that she wasn't kidding. "Well I say you can be the best bard there is and no one can stop you. That goes for waterbending as well." Gabrielle's smile grew at Xena's comment. "Learn anything new at that school?" Xena implored. Gabrielle told her all about it as they walked together.

Chapter Text

"Xena just hold still." Gabrielle instructed as she looked at Xena's wound. Xena looked at the burn on her arm and gritted her teeth. She had gotten careless going against another firebender and had gotten a nasty burn to show for it. Gabrielle pulled out her waterskin.  She used waterbending to wrap water around her hand. The water gave off a faint glow as she applied it to Xena's burn. Xena let out a sigh of relief. "I got to say I am glad you learned how to heal like that." she told Gabrielle. Gabrielle shrugged. "I agree it makes me feel more useful considering I still can't fight well with my bending."

She examined the healed burn. It was nothing but a faint pink mark now. The mark would fade in a week or so leaving no scar. "Xena. Teach me how to use a sword." she said abruptly. "You don't need to." Xena replied. "It would be nice to know how to defend myself." Gabrielle reasoned back. "You defend yourself well I don't see why-" Xena stopped short when she heard something. "We've got trouble. Come on I think they followed us." She pulled Gabrielle along before she could argue.

The next day Gabrielle still had her mind set on learning how to use a weapon. She spotted Xena's sword leaning against a log. Xena seemed preoccupied so Gabrielle picked up the sword. She slashed the air with it trying to mimic Xena. "You want a piece of me?" she said to the log. She swung the sword to hit the log. It got stuck in the wood. "What are you doing?" Xena's voice made her jump. Gabrielle felt embarrassed. "I was practicing." she replied sheepishly. Xena came over and pulled her sword from the log. "This is not a toy." she reprimanded Gabrielle. "Then teach me how to use it." Gabrielle suggested. Xena shook her head. "I need to learn how to use a weapon to defend myself." Gabrielle's voice rose. "That's my job. I will protect you when there's danger. You don't need to learn to use a weapon. Besides your waterbending is coming along nicely and is a good enough weapon." Xena argued.

"Xena you can't always protect me. I need to learn for myself. I want to fight by your side instead of being told to run and hide. My waterbending still has a ways to go and I would like to have some other means of fighting." Xena sighed. "Listen, the moment you pick up a weapon, you become a target and when you kill, it changes everything. I don't want you to have to experience the level of violence I do." Xena said nothing more as she finished packing their things on Argo.

Gabrielle thought about what Xena said as they walked. Despite her desire to fight alongside Xena, her peaceful ways were the core of who she was. She was always talking to Xena about ending the cycle of violence and establishing peace. Was Xena right to keep her from being a part of such violence? She decided to brush it off for now. Her waterbending was sufficient at the moment. Also she could heal with it and not every waterbender could do that. Being able to heal people made her feel good. Healing was a way of peace.

A couple of weeks passed. "Hey Xena look what I found." Gabrielle said showing Xena a long stick. "Its a walking stick." she explained. "Here let me see." Xena said reaching for the stick. She examined it before spinning it around skillfully. She nodded her approval and handed it back to Gabrielle. They proceeded through the forest. Gabrielle was babbling on about something but Xena was too focused on listening to the sounds around them to pay attention. She knew where they were and expected an ambush any minute.

She stopped Gabrielle. "What is it?" Gabrielle asked, more alert. Noise rustled in the trees and down came a group of woman armed to attack. Instead of preparing to fight, Xena held her hands up and told Gabrielle to do the same. "Who are they?" Gabrielle asked as she glanced around jumpy. "Amazons. We are in Amazon territory." Xena explained in a low tone. One of the Amazons stepped forward. She had red hair and wore a brown buckskin dress. Xena kept her hands up, a signal known by the Amazons. "We come in peace. We are just passing through." Xena announced. The Amazon who had stepped forward looked to the others around her before responding. "Very well. We will escort you through our lands. You must be a friend of the Amazon's if you know our signal for peace."

Xena and Gabrielle walked with the wild looking women. Gabrielle was her cheerful bubbly self again and made conversation with the red head. She learned that the Amazons were a tribe of woman. They were skilled fighters and mostly nonbenders. No men were allowed to be an Amazon. Gabrielle was fascinated to meet such a unique band of women. They seemed so fearless, so different than another woman she knew and met from more civilized places.

All conversation was interrupted unexpectedly. Arrows whizzed past. Everyone ducked and dodged the arrows. The Amazons retreated to the treetops. One was shot down. It was the red head. Gabrielle didn't think, just acted. She threw herself over the woman to protect her from any more arrows. The attack soon stopped. Xena checked to make sure Gabrielle was unharmed then scouted for the attackers.

Gabrielle held the injured Amazon in her lap. An arrow had pierced her chest. Gabrielle comforted her while the others returned from the trees. "Gabrielle, what you did, protecting me like that, was something only another Amazon would do. I want you to take my ranking status." The women's voice was weak. She slipped away as death took her. Gabrielle look up at the Amazons around her. They had all heard the dying request.

Xena and Gabrielle returned with the women to the Amazon village. Xena was determined to find who was behind the attack. The Amazons accepted her help. They also had the matter of initiating Gabrielle as an Amazon Princess according to the dying wish of the Amazon who was killed. An Amazon named Ephiny took Gabrielle under her wing. Gabrielle was dressed in Amazon attire. Ephiny then wanted to see how well Gabrielle could fight. Any Amazon had to be a skilled fighter. Gabrielle showed Ephiny her waterbending and her healing abilities.  Ephiny nodded her approval but told her she still had a lot to learn.

"How much experience do you have with weaponry?" She asked leading Gabrielle to where they stored the weapons. "Not much." Gabrielle admitted. "Xena says that with my waterbending, I don't need to know how to use a weapon." She left out the part about Xena wanting to protect her from violence.

Ephiny gave her a look. "Xena is a firebender but uses a sword, does she not? Yes your waterbending will become a powerful weapon in itself but it is good to know how to use other ways of defending yourself as well. There may be times when you can't use your bending. Then how will you protect yourself?" "Times when I can't use my bending? When would-" Gabrielle asked before realizing. She remembered Xena's fight with Draco. The rules had been no bending. Xena also knew how to temporarily disable someone's bending. There was bound to be others who knew how to do that too.

"I see your point." Gabrielle said. "Choose a weapon to practice with." Ephiny motioned to the stockpile. Gabrielle glanced over the many types of weapons available. She saw several swords and almost reached for one when she remembered the incident with Xena's sword. Xena's resentment towards her using a sword stuck in her mind. She spotted a staff and remembered Xena's demonstration with her walking stick. She choose the staff. 

Xena wasn't around much the next day or so. She was off tracking the attackers who had killed the Amazon. She wasn't aware that Gabrielle was being prepared for her role as an Amazon Princess. That night the Amazons danced around a bonfire to celebrate Gabrielle becoming an Amazon. It was part of the ceremonial tradition. Gabrielle wasn't sure about the dancing at first but eventually got into it.

It was late into the night when the Amazon Queen appeared. Gabrielle was brought to stand next to her to be recognized. "We welcome you as our sister Amazon, Gabrielle. There is just one thing left to do for you to become an Amazon. Bring forth the prisoner." The Queen commanded. A man was brought forward, his hands tied. He pleaded his innocence. The Queen turned to Gabrielle. "My Amazon scouts tracked down the man behind the attack. You must kill him to restore justice." "I, I can't kill him." Gabrielle stuttered. "You must. To refuse would be an insult to the Amazons. At first light, he dies." The Queen announced.

Where was Xena. It was morning. Gabrielle stood in front of the Amazons anxiously hoping Xena would return soon. She didn't think she could kill anyone. The Queen announced the man's charges and handed Gabrielle a sword. The man pleaded again that he was innocent. Gabrielle felt like he was telling the truth. "Doesn't he get a fair trial first? How do you know for sure it was him?" Gabrielle questioned. "He was found sneaking around our territory. Tracks from the attack site led directly to him. I think that is enough proof." The Queen insisted. She motioned Gabrielle to get on with it.

Gabrielle slowly raised the sword to the man's chest. Her heart raced. The sword felt so heavy. She tried to wrap her mind about what she was about to do. How could she stop it? "Hold up!" A voice shouted. It was Xena. "Oh thank the gods." Gabrielle breathed a sigh of relief. Xena had brought a man with her. He was tied up and didn't look very happy about it. "The man you captured is innocent." Xena informed the Amazons. "We found a trail that led directly to him. Why would you say he is innocent?" The Queen questioned. "He was set up by this man." Xena explained, shoving the guilty man into the center of the crowd. "Don't believe me, then take a look at the arrows I found with him. They are the same from the attack." The Amazons examined the arrows. Sure enough they were the same.

Xena walked up to Gabrielle while the Amazons were deciding what to do. "What's all this?" Xena asked, referring to Gabrielle's new Amazon attire. "I'm an Amazon Princess now." Gabrielle shrugged. "Great." Xena replied sarcastically. They both turned when a commotion broke out. The guilty man had gotten lose. He was shot down before he could escape. The Queen apologized to Gabrielle that she wasn't the one to bring justice. Gabrielle was more than fine about it. Before they left, Ephiny pulled Gabrielle aside to give her her a staff. It had been her mother's. Gabrielle was touched by the gift. She thanked Ephiny. Xena and Gabrielle were back on the road, Gabrielle walking with her new staff. "Xena the Warrior Princess and Gabrielle the Amazon Princess," Gabrielle was saying, "that's going to make a great story."

Chapter Text

Months and scrolls full of adventures later the two women sat at the local tavern celebrating another job well done. They had just helped another village. It was their life now, travel, help people, fight the bad guys. This time they had solved a mystery of things going missing. The two of them were able to catch the group of thieves who had been robbing people.

Xena sat back in her chair with her feet up on the table. Gabrielle was next to her carrying on a conversation with a villager. The conversation ended and the villager left. Gabrielle rested an elbow on the table, her cheek resting on her fist. Her dazed attention focused on a hole in Xena's boot. She reached out to examine the boots closer. "Xena you should get some new boots. The soles in these are getting worn out." Xena shrugged. "You're probably right. I can survive a bit longer with these though." Gabrielle rolled her eyes. "There is a hole in one of them. Next place we get to we are getting you some new ones." She pressed her concern. It was Xena's turn to roll her eyes now, teasing Gabrielle with a smile.

Little did they know, bad news was just about to find them. A man had just came in and sat at the bar. He was telling the bartender and who ever was listening about a rumor he had heard. Xena and Gabrielle's ears perked up at the mention of Xena the Warrior Princess. "She has been raining havoc around Greece. Several villages have been burnt to the ground. She is a tyrant firebender and needs to be stopped." The guy went on about this Warrior Princess that clearly wasn't Xena. The village knew that this "Xena", the man mentioned couldn't have been the same person that had helped them, the person sitting there listening to the man. The bartender was the first to point it out.

"That rumor you heard can't be true because Xena the Warrior Princess just helped our village against a gang of thieves. She is sitting right there." He pointed to Xena. The man turned and Xena waved. The man displayed a expression of fear and confusion. Xena stood up to confront him. "Where did you hear this rumor?" She asked. He swallowed nervously. "I heard it from a group of people I met on the road. They said that they were fleeing because Xena had burned their village."

Gabrielle moved to stand with Xena. She looked up at the warrior in concern. "Well obviously this firebender isn't me. Can you tell me which direction you met these people?" Xena said. "About 15 miles south of here." the man answered.

"Why would someone do that? Impersonate you and do awful things in your name?" Gabrielle asked as she helped Xena saddle Argo. "Who ever it is wants to get my attention and they have it." Xena said in a hard tone. They followed the man's directions and reached the nearest town within that distance. Xena was anxious to get some answers. They asked around and unfortunately the rumor was confirmed. There was even worry that the imposter would raid that town next.

Xena knew she should get some rest but sleep failed to come that night. Gabrielle tried to distract Xena to ease her mind. She pulled out a new scroll and her quill. "I can see that you are not going to sleep much tonight. Don't worry I know we will stop who ever is impersonating you. It's probably just some wannabe warlord." Xena paused from polishing her sword. "Yes but this person is killing people and burning villages in my name. They are calling me out. I am itching to put a stop to all of it." Her voice was full frustration. Gabrielle looked at her with sympathy. "Why don't you think about something else. It won't do much to worry about it until morning comes."

She changed the subject. "Tell me again how you learned to redirect lightning. I don't think I have written that one down yet." Gabrielle pulled a lantern close so she could see while she wrote. Xena knew Gabrielle was trying her best to change her mood but she really didn't feel like talking. She put away her sword, Gabrielle waiting for her to say something. Reluctantly she pushed the imposter from her mind and told the story Gabrielle wanted to hear.

"I learned it back when I worked with Ares God of War, back when I was a warlord and only sought power and to conquer the world. He taught me many skills and redirecting lightning was one of them. Not many firebenders have that ability. I have yet to meet another who can do the same." Gabrielle scribbled on her scroll, fluffing up what Xena had just told her. "What about the pressure points and temporarily disabling someone's bending? Did Ares teach you that too?" She asked. Xena shook her head. "No I learned that earlier from someone else, a young woman named M'lina." Gabrielle thought before jotting that fact down as well. "Now can we be done for tonight? We really should get some sleep." Xena said. She still wasn't about to sleep but was definitely done talking. Gabrielle nodded and put her scrolls away.

Xena lay awake as she listened to Gabrielle's breathing change as she fell asleep. Eventually sleep over came Xena as well. Morning was normal. Xena woke up early like usual and let Gabrielle sleep a bit longer. She took a walk, trying to decide what they should do next. They could stay in the town and wait to see if the imposter showed up like some of the townspeople thought or they could go over to the next closest town and ask around there. She would ask Gabrielle what she thought they should do once she woke.

They ended up spending the morning waiting and leaving in the afternoon. Just as they were leaving town, a stranger wearing a ridiculous excuse for armor  approached them. "Name's Joxer, Joxer the Mighty." He proudly introduced himself. "What can we do for you." Xena politely asked. "Well as you can see I am a warrior and I would like to offer my assistance to you Xena Warrior Princess." Joxer explained. "Thanks for the offer but I think we will be fine." Xena said dismissively. Joxer tried to convince them of his strength and courage as they walked away. They paid him no attention.

The next town wasn't very far perhaps three hours away, faster if Gabrielle had horse too. No more than an hour into their journey though, they heard someone galloping toward them from the direction they had came from. They stopped, guard up. The rider came into view. He shouted something as he approached. "The town is being attacked. She's a firebender, claims to be you. Hurry you have to stop her." With no time to waste, Xena got on Argo and pulled Gabrielle up behind her.

They rode into the chaos as the town was under attack. People ran frantically, buildings were on fire, screams filled the air. Xena looked for the leader as Gabrielle rushed to help protect the civilians. Xena's experience as a warlord had taught her how to pick out the leader.

She saw her, the leader, the imposter. She was tall, thin, and blonde. She wore a black leather outfit. The imposter spotted Xena, her expression looking like a predator spotting its prey. Her eyes narrowed and an unpleasant smile flashed at her opponent. Xena watched as the woman flexed her arms to strike. Xena expected firebending but got a unbelievable surprise. A bolt of lightning erupted from the woman's hands. Xena was startled but reacted without hesitation. She redirected the dangerous energy, meeting the bolt with her two fingers. Carefully she guided the energy through her body, avoiding a pathway across her heart, and released the lightning harmlessly into the sky. Out of the corner of her eye Xena spotted the woman advancing. Fire flared from the blonde's hands as she marched forward.  Xena prepared to meet the attack. The battle began.

The imposter was a skilled firebender. She had to be in order to know how to use lightning. The woman occasionally let out wild high pitched screams as she attacked. It was like Xena's war cry, it was meant to unnerve the enemy. They skillfully dodged and countered each other's blows. Fire shooting and wrapping around their fighting space. The wild blonde sneered as she grabbed Xena's wrist to block an attack. "It is such a pleasure to meet you again Xena."

Everything about this woman was confusing to Xena. There were so many questions running through her head. "Who are you?" Xena asked, breaking from the other's grip. "Does it matter? As long as everyone sees me as you. You have a reputation that I want to protect. A reputation as a ruthless warlord, a murderer of women and children." The blonde jeered. "I never murdered women and children." Xena replied adamantly. The blonde sent a giant flame right towards the lodge nearby, catching the building on fire. "Now you have." The blonde woman accused.

Xena had seen people run into the lodge for protection and knew she needed to help get them out before they died in the fire. She turned back to see that the imposter had disappeared. She called for Gabrielle and rushed to open the doors to the lodge. A strong kick busted the doors open and she yelled for everyone to get out. Gabrielle fought to put the fire out. She had gotten the hang of waterbending by now and soon the fire was extinguished.

Xena spotted one of the enemy and caught him before he could escape. She used her pressure point skill to get him to talk. "I've just cut off the flow of blood to your brain. Tell me who was she what does she want." Xena commanded.

Gabrielle came over to stand by Xena. She was covered in sweat and soot. The man obeyed and told them what he knew. "Her name is Callisto. She says you made her. She wants revenge, to have people see you as the monster you are." Xena took a moment to digest the information. "Where is she headed?" she wanted to know. Blood was beginning to drip from the man's nose. "Eleusis, she plans to assassinate the high priestess during the ceremony." he blurted out. Xena released him and he gulped for air.

Xena looked around the damaged village. She felt responsible for what had happened. It was because of her that this Callisto was doing these things. At least most of the buildings had been salvaged thanks to Gabrielle. Xena put a hand on her friend's shoulder. "Good work." she nodded. Gabrielle nodded back wearily. Xena turned back to the man still on the ground recovering. "Callisto is right, I did make her and now I am going to stop her."

Chapter Text

"Are you going to tell me what happened?"  Gabrielle said softly. Xena's gaze broke from the campfire to look at the girl. "What do you mean?" she asked even though she knew exactly what Gabrielle was asking. "I mean about Callisto. She is someone from your past isn't she? What did you mean when you said you made her?"  Gabrielle questioned.

Xena idly dug her boots into the dirt. "I have never meet her before, well I guess not directly. It was an ordinary day for me as a warlord, just another village to plunder. Something went wrong though. I still don't know if it was the wind or my men being reckless but once the fire caught, it became uncontrollable. I took pride in the fact that I spared the woman and children wherever I attacked. Perhaps it eased my conscience, I don't know.

Anyway what happened to this village was unfortunate. The fire claimed most of the lives including woman and children. This Callisto must be one of the children who survived." Gabrielle could see the ghosts of the past in Xena's distant gaze. This was one of those moments where Xena's darkness taunted her.

"Why do you say you made her? You're not responsible for what she has become." Gabrielle charged. Xena's jaw clenched. "I destroyed her life. I took her home and family from her and left nothing but hate and revenge. I put her on the path she is on." Xena replied. Gabrielle shook her head. "She is responsible for her own actions not you." Xena was silent for a while. Gabrielle wasn't sure if she was even going to say anything more. She was familiar with silent Xena and was thoughtful to not push.

Xena's voice eventually broke the silence. "Can't say I blame her for wanting revenge. I know from experience how hard it is to turn away from." Xena stated. Gabrielle studied Xena. It broke her heart to see her like this, reliving her troubled past. She knew though that it was part of who Xena was. As her friend she accepted this aspect of Xena just like everything else about the strong warrior woman. 

"Yes but you overcame it." Gabrielle replied. "Because I saw how awful I had become, but even now if anything happened to my mother or to you I don't know.." Xena trailed off. "No! You listen to me." Gabrielle's voice cracked. She knew how far Xena had come in the time she had known her. "You promise me that if anything happens to me you will not become a monster. The only way to end the cycle of hate is through love." Tears brimmed Gabrielle's eyes as she spoke with such emotion.

A tear ran down Xena's cheek. Xena gave a little shake of her head with a small smile. She pulled Gabrielle's head to her shoulder. "Don't let anyone mess with that head of yours Gabrielle. I like you just the way you are. Now why don't you get some sleep." Gabrielle pulled away to look Xena in the eye. "Promise me." she asked firmly. Xena gave in quickly. "Alright, I promise." Gabrielle wiped a tear from the warrior's cheek. Xena felt embarrassed by her tears and jerked away. Gabrielle didn't back away but instead rested her head against Xena's.

Once in Eleusis they hid undercover. They anticipated the possibility of Callisto knowing they would be there. They paraded in with the crowd cloaked by their disguises. Xena scanned the room for any sign of Callisto. The high priestess stood on the platform completely exposed to any attack. Xena wasn't sure what much she could do to protect the woman. Without drawing too much suspicion she glanced around the room again.

A glint of steel caught her eye. Callisto was several feet behind her. The glint of steel came from a knife in Callisto's hand. Less than a second later the knife was sailing through the air, headed right towards the priestess. Xena grabbed a vase that someone was holding and threw it at the knife to knock it out of the air.

The crowd gasped but Xena hardly noticed. She turned to see Callisto already on the run. She chased her through the city dodging fireballs thrown by Callisto to slow her down. Callisto stole a chariot to escape. Xena did the same. She was not about to let this woman get away.

They were now outside the city limits racing across the barren landscape. Xena urged her horses to run faster. Callisto yowled in frustration as she saw Xena gaining on her. Xena knew the horses couldn't keep up the pace forever. She had to act while she had the chance. She swung her arm creating a fire whip. It struck Callisto's chariot sending it tumbling. As Callisto flew she managed to launch a fireball at Xena causing the same thing to happen to her. Both hit the ground, their momentum tossing them tumbling through the dirt.

Xena hurried to get her bearings before Callisto. The blonde scrambled to escape but Xena tackled her down. Xena held the yowling and screaming Callisto down as she tied the woman's hands behind her back. Gabrielle caught up with them on Argo.

Xena asked for her help to put Callisto on the horse. Gabrielle stepped closer but it turned out to be a mistake. "Gabrielle, watch out." Xena cried. Callisto breathed fire in a last attempt to attack. Gabrielle was quick though and managed to jump out of the way.

"Get me that bottle that's in that pack." Xena instructed Gabrielle. Gabrielle retrieved a small bottle from the pack on Argo. Xena sprayed whatever it was into Callisto's mouth. Calllisto spat with disgust. "This temporarily disables a firebender's fire breath. Tastes awful." Xena informed them.

They got Callisto on Agro and headed back to the city. "What are you going to do with her?" Gabrielle asked. "She will be put on trial and the townspeople will decide what to do." Gabrielle glanced at Callisto. Callisto seemed preoccupied with still trying to escape. She kicked Argo, trying to get the horse to react. "Argo won't listen to you so I suggest you stop kicking her." Xena commanded calmly. "Hmmf." Callisto pouted but stopped kicking.

"Listen, I know what happened to you was horrible. I am sorry for what I did." Xena said after a long period of silence. "Oh well that makes it all better. Now we can be the best of friends." Callisto replied sarcastically before spitting on Xena. "I can handle whatever the townspeople have in store for me but can you live with it Xena." Callisto taunted.

"Don't listen to her Xena.  You are not responsible for what she has done." Gabrielle reminded her. "No it's not her fault at all that my parents are dead." Callisto fired back with malice. "I hope you sleep well at night." She continued. "No I don't." Xena replied softly. "Good. Take me to the mob then." Callisto replied bitterly.

They locked Callisto up in jail once they returned to Eleusis. Bringing Callisto to a city of angry firebenders turned out be a bad idea though. Xena stuck around for Callisto's protection until her trial but the people sent fire into the jail. Callisto caught Xena off guard and escaped when Xena came to Callisto's help.

Xena rushed outside to find that Callisto was gone and had taken Gabrielle. Xena followed Callisto's trail. When she found her, Callisto demanded a duel to save Gabrielle. Xena fought Callisto and saved Gabrielle.

Gabrielle thanked Xena for saving her. "Now what?" she asked Xena. "Callisto will go to jail for who knows how long. She had her chance." Xena replied, glancing at Callisto being dragged away. Gabrielle gave a nod. "Well now we can focus on other things like finally getting your boots fixed." Gabrielle's comment made Xena smile and her serious mood faded. She placed a hand on Gabrielle's shoulder. "Come on. Let's go." she said guiding the two of them away.

Chapter Text

"There is no way that happened." Gabrielle charged. "Sure it did." Xena defended. "So you are saying that you caught the jewel in mid air then safely slid down a hill amongst a landslide, jumping and landing perfectly on Argo?" Gabrielle was skeptical. "Uh huh, and that wasn't even the hard part. The hardest part was..." Xena stopped mid sentence. She looked around. Gabrielle knew that Xena had heard something. Seconds later she heard it too. Someone was in trouble. "Come on." Xena led the way towards the shrieks.

A man lay on the ground while three other men towered over him. The man on the ground had been beaten bloody. He cowered in fear as the three men shouted insults at him. One of his attackers raised a heavy booted foot and stomped down on the injured man's leg. There was a snap. The victim screamed in pain. Xena and Gabrielle had come just in time to see the man's leg get broken.

"No!" Gabrielle shouted as she charged at the man's attackers. Xena whipped out her fire. They fought off the men with ease. Gabrielle knocked out one of the men with her staff and Xena took out the other two. They then attended to the injured man on the ground. Xena looked him over and tallied up his injuries. He had a broken leg, cuts and bruises, and and arrow in his shoulder. "Man are you a mess." Xena commented. "You have a name?" She asked as she stood."Wyatt." The man managed to say despite the pain.

Gabrielle adjusted the man so that his head rested on her leg. "Don't worry Wyatt, I am a waterbender and know how to heal. My name's Gabrielle and this is Xena." Gabrielle reassured the man while Xena collected a couple of long sticks. The man raised an eyebrow. "Xena? I've heard of you." "Good things or bad things?" Xena asked as she knelt by the man's broken leg. "Both." The man replied hesitantly. Xena gave a small nod of acknowledgment.

"Gabrielle." Xena said. Gabrielle knew what Xena wanted her to do. She put a comforting hand on the man's arm. "Okay we need to correct the break the place it in a splint. It will hurt a bit. I'm sorry." Gabrielle warned him. Xena twisted the broken limb. The man shrieked. She tied the two sticks to each side of the broken leg to hold it in place while it healed.

"Now the arrow in your shoulder. I need to pull it out." Xena said. She grasped the arrow shaft. She stopped to make sure the man was somewhat prepared for the pain that would follow. She snapped off the end of the arrow and slowly pulled it out. The poor man was panting in pain. "I'm sorry. This will hurt the worst. I have to cauterize the wound." She said looking at the man with sympathy. She took two fingers, glowing with firebending and brought them to the open wound. The man jerked and screamed. Gabrielle smelt a hint of burning flesh and she held the man still until Xena was finished.

Gabrielle used her waterbending to sooth the pain from burn. The man relaxed a bit as Gabrielle placed cold, healing water on the wound. Gabrielle watched Xena look around them, then at Argo, then back at her. "It will be dark before we make it to the nearest village. We should make camp here so you can do your healing." Xena reasoned to Gabrielle. Gabrielle nodded her agreement.

Carefully they moved the man so he had his back propped up against a tree. They placed a bundled up blanket behind him to make him more comfortable. "I'll take care of camp while you take care of him." Xena said to Gabrielle. "Put my scrolls by my sleeping roll would you? I would like to look over them tonight." Gabrielle requested. Xena gave her a nod.

Gabrielle turned her focus to Wyatt. She washed his wounds and analyzed what needed to be healed the most. She started with the arrow wound first. She brought the water to the raw skin and concentrated until the water glowed. She held it there for a couple minutes. She would need to perform this a few more times for the next couple of days before the wound would be completely healed but it already was looking better.

"Is it true that she has really changed, has really become good?" The man asked. Gabrielle followed his line of sight. He was watching Xena unpack their supplies. "Yeah she has." Gabrielle nodded. The man didn't look convinced. "Let me tell you about the time she rescued a baby from being executed. See Xena and I had found a baby in a basket by the river. Turns out a king wanted the infant killed to prevent a prophecy from happening. Xena was able to convince the king to spare the infant. She not only saved the infant but changed the king's heart. The king ended up taking in the child as his own. Because of Xena, more than one life was changed for the better."

Gabrielle worked on healing while she told the story. "I bet she does it for the money though. She must have loads hidden away from all her plunders and warrior work." The man said, still trying to see Xena as bad. Gabrielle felt pity that so many people failed to believe that Xena was a good person. Gabrielle knew that Xena had done bad deeds on the past but she knew her heart. Xena had a good heart and worked tirelessly to make up for the bad. Gabrielle swore all that atoning  would be the death of Xena someday.

"Perhaps she once had riches but I don't think money matters as much to her as it might once have. She often turns down payment for the services she does. We only accept enough to afford the things we need. Between her warrior services and my work as a bard, we make enough to support us in our travels." Gabrielle explained to Wyatt.

Wyatt was silent as Gabrielle finished healing him. Gabrielle stood and let out a breath. Healing could be exhausting work. She noticed Xena carrying a load of firewood. Xena set the wood down near them and brushed off her hands. "Feeling better?" She asked Wyatt. "A bit." He nodded. "Gabrielle is amazing at what she does isn't she?" Xena replied, smiling at Gabrielle. Gabrielle felt a tinge of pride. Xena walked back over to their packs. Gabrielle picked up her waterskin. It was empty now that she had used the water in it for healing.

"You have got to be kidding me?" Xena sounded frustrated. Gabrielle turned to see what the problem was. "There is a hole in our food bag. Half of our food is gone." Xena continued. Gabrielle came over to inspect the bag. Sure enough there was only a small loaf of bread and a few pieces of fruit left. All their cheese and dried meat was gone. "What are we going to do for supper?" Gabrielle wondered.

Xena dug into her pack for her fishing line. "There's a stream nearby. I will see if I can catch us some fish. Any requests?" Gabrielle knew how much Xena loved to fish and how good she was at it. "Surprise me." Gabrielle shrugged. "Okay be back in a while." Xena said. Gabrielle figured she would fix the hole in the bag while she waited for Xena to return with supper.

She settled against a tree next to Wyatt and began stitching up the hole in the bag. Wyatt shifted his weight. Gabrielle looked up to see if he was still comfortable. He replied that he was fine. "Is it true that Xena can command lightning?" He asked. Gabrielle nodded. "It's pretty incredible to see. I have even seen her use it to resuscitate someone before. Despite her being firebender rather than a waterbender, she knows a lot about healing people."

Wyatt tilted his head in curiosity. "Really? Like how she cauterized my arrow wound?" Gabrielle nodded. "She told me that she had to do the same on herself once. "That would have taken some courage." Wyatt admitted. "Have you ever had to have a wound cauterized before?" He asked. Gabrielle shook her head. "No, but Xena used her knowledge of medicine to heal some minor wounds I have gotten. She taught me some of what I know. She even... Well she saved my life once with her knowledge of healing. I was nearly dead and she brought me back." The man seemed impressed with everything Gabrielle was telling him. Gabrielle suddenly felt odd sharing so much about Xena. She changed the subject.

"How come those men attacked you? I guess we never asked." Wyatt shrugged. "They were thugs. They wanted money." "Typical. Xena and I run into those types way too often. Well I am going to get a fire going. With any luck, Xena will return with something to eat."

The three of them sat around the crackling fire, content. Sure it wasn't much of a meal but it satisfied their hunger. Gabrielle offered to clean out the pan they used to fry the fish. After she had washed everything and healed Wyatt again, she sat by the fire with her scrolls.

She tapped the tip of her quill to her lips as she thought. "Xena, how would you describe the forest we traveled through last week?" Xena was busy making a travois to transport Wyatt but paused to give a reply. "The forest? I don't know it was green. It had trees?" Gabrielle gave her an exasperated look. "More description then that." Xena shrugged. "You're the bard not me." she said as she continued with the travois. Gabrielle thought a bit longer before finding the right words to put on paper.

The fire died down and Gabrielle gave up trying to write in the dim light. Xena had finished the travois and checked on Wyatt before climbing into her bedroll. Gabrielle tucked her scrolls safely into her pack and retired to her bedroll as well. She was glad they would be spending the next night in a town with a bed and a proper bath. She couldn't wait to wash the dirt out of her hair and no offense to Xena but the woman smelled of fish.

Chapter Text

Xena guided Argo along the trail at a slow pace. She didn't want to cause any extra discomfort to Wyatt as he lay in the travois being dragged behind the horse. Once they got to the nearest town, they got two rooms at the tavern, one for Wyatt and one for themselves. It would take a few days for the man's injuries to heal and they didn't want to leave him until he could move more on his own. They got the man settled in his room then went out to get supplies and tour the town.

It was a nice little town. It had a great marketplace. It was home to sheep and cow farmers so livestock flocked the outside fields. Chickens were also abundant and Xena and Gabrielle couldn't help but smile as they watched children chase the squawking fowl through the streets. After they had done the shopping, they took care of Argo.

Gabrielle used her waterbending to help clean the horse as Xena wiped the mare down. "Xena, we could use a nice bath as well." Gabrielle suggested. "Already ahead of you. There is a bathhouse not far from the tavern. We can head there after we are finished with Argo." Xena cleaned the hooves while Gabrielle brushed Argo. The horse nuzzled her thanks. They put her in the stables with a load of hay to munch on before heading to the bathhouse.

The bathhouse was built out of stone and was rather small. It housed pool of water that filled the round hole in the ground. The pool was lined with stone. The two women undressed. Gabrielle was the first undressed and dipped a foot in the water. Immediately she pulled it back. "Oh that's cold! They forgot to heat it for us." Xena shook her head. "Nah I told them not to worry about heating it since I am a firebender." "Well then get over here and heat it." Gabrielle was impatient to have a warm bath.

Xena stepped down into the water. She worked her way until she was all the way in. She took a deep breath. Steam filled the air as she exhaled. "How is it? It it warmer now?" Gabrielle asked bent over, arms hugging her chest from being cold. "Come on in." Xena welcomed. Gabrielle sighed with relief as she melted into the bath. Xena showed a proud smirk at Gabrielle's satisfaction. Gabrielle dipped her head under to soak her hair. "Here's the soap. Want me to wash your hair?" Xena offered. Gabrielle glided closer to Xena in response.

As Xena scrubbed her hair, Gabrielle played with the water using her bending. Xena worked slowly as she watched the girl. "Hey Xena?" Gabrielle asked after she had dunked under to rinse the soap. "I overheard some people talking about a talented waterbender that lives in the area. I wanted to see if they would be willing to teach me a few things. What do you think? Should we go?" "Sure. I'm up for it." Xena was willing to do anything to make Gabrielle happy. "Great! After Wyatt has healed some more, we can go find this waterbender." Gabrielle said, pleased. "Now come here and let's see if I can rid that fish stink off of you." She commanded, grabbing the soap from Xena.

The next couple of days went by at a relaxing pace. They paid a small fee to a local farmer to let Argo graze on his land. It was a pleasant day. The sun shone high in the sky, occasionally disappearing behind scattered clouds. It was warm but there was a cool breeze. Xena and Gabrielle laid in the lush green pasture watching the horse munch happily. "Are you Solomonias?" Gabrielle guessed in a game they were playing. "Nope." Xena replied playing with a long strand of grass. "Are you a warlord?" Gabrielle asked again. "Nope." They kept this up until Gabrielle eventually guessed correctly.

That evening Gabrielle preformed as a bard to earn some money for them. The audience loved her stories like always. The next day they checked on Wyatt's progress. Gabrielle held her hands over his broken leg. Water floated between her hands and the leg. The water glowed as she used waterbending to analyze the leg. "Good news. The bone is repairing and you should be ok to put a small amount of weight on it." "We have to be on our way tomorrow but you will be fine without us. I got you crutches to use and you can hire a wagon to take you back to your home town." Xena informed him.

It was evening and Wyatt was practicing using the crutches. He was rather bored from being cooped up. He also was curious to see more of what was written on those scrolls the blonde woman had. Xena and Gabrielle were out and would be gone a while. Wyatt snuck into their room to find the scrolls. The first couple of scrolls he looked at told of their adventures. One scroll though got his attention more than the others. It seemed to be a collection of Xena's dark past, of when she was a wardlord. He was surprised to see Ares God of War written. He sat on the bed and began reading.

Xena had made a reputation for herself. This ruthless reputation caught the attention of none other than Ares God of War. He visited her one night after a brutal conquest. She stood in her tent reviewing the attack plans for her army. The lantern flickered, causing shadows to dance across the map on the table. Xena stood hunched over examining the map, plotting out strategies.

She suddenly felt like she was being watched. She looked up to see someone standing by the entrance way. The person wore a black cloak with the hood up so she couldn't see their face. She pulled out her sword defensively. The mysterious person slowly raised their hands and removed the hood. "Who are you?" Xena questioned the man. "Allow me to introduce myself. Ares God of War." The man stepped confidently closer to Xena. Xena lowered her sword, intrigued. "See Xena, you've caught my attention. I have seen how you command an army, how you conquer."

Ares's gaze roamed her body as he stalked seductively around her. "I have an offer for you." He brushed her hip with his hand as he moved behind her. His chin hovered possessively over her shoulder and his arm found its way around her waist. Xena let him. "I want you. I want you as my queen. With you by my side we could rule the world. In exchange I can give you power. I can teach you things no other firebender knows. What do you say?"

Xena was surprised by his offer. Pride engulfed her as well as the lust for power. If Ares could give her power then she would take it. Ares taught Xena how to bend lightning. He taught her powerful firebending techniques. He told her to use rage and desire for power to fuel her bending. That partnership between Xena and Ares didn't last of course. Hercules helped set Xena on the path of good.

There was more to the scroll but Wyatt didn't get to finish. Xena and Gabrielle came in to find him reading the scrolls. He looked at them like a deer in the torchlight. "Wyatt?" Gabrielle asked, surprised to see him in their room. "I'm sorry. I was bored and wanted to read more of your stories." he confessed. "Oh um ok. Next time I would prefer you ask fist. I don't share everything I write." Gabrielle told him. Wyatt apologized again. "Well Gabrielle and I have an early morning tomorrow so we are gonna hit the hay." Xena stated. Wyatt understood and left the room. Gabrielle gathered up her scrolls to pack them up. The rest of what was on the scroll Wyatt had read was a story for later.

Chapter Text

It is later. Gabrielle had written down the stories Xena had told her about her past. They weren't in order of when they happened but of when Xena had told them. Wyatt had only read through one. Next on the scroll was the story of Xena learning pressure points.

The young girl had stowed away on Xena's ship. When discovered, she fought against Xena's men and even Xena herself. The girl did something that Xena had never seen before. When Xena went to kick attack, the girl gave two little jabs to Xena's leg with her fingers.  Immediately Xena's leg went numb. Shocked, Xena fell to the ground. She poked her numb leg wondering what had happened while the girl fought the rest of the crew.

Xena snapped out of it when she noticed one her men had gotten a hold of the girl and held a knife to her throat. "Stop!" Xena ordered. Her men backed off as she limped up to confront the stowaway. "I want to know what you're doing on my ship but more importantly I want to know what you did to my leg." The girl gave Xena a look of defiance.  Xena didn't think the girl spoke her language. Xena pointed to her leg. "My leg. Undo it." She reenacted what the girl had done to help explain what she wanted.  The girl nodded that she understood but was not happy about having to cooperate. She jabbed Xena's leg again. Xena was relived when feeling came back. She was also amazed. Just think. If she could get the girl to teach her this skill, she could not only fight her opponents but immobilize them as well.

"Teach me." she commanded the girl when they were alone below deck. Xena used actions to help express what she wanted. The girl reluctantly brought her fingers in position on Xena's neck. A warning bell triggered in Xena's mind but she was too eager to learn to heed it. The girl made the move and Xena was incapacitated. Xena fell to her knees as she felt trapped under a huge weight. Dizziness threatened to make her lose consciousness. She knew she was dying. "Now release it." She commanded, struggling to get the words out.

The young girl stood over Xena not coming to her rescue. Xena knew time was running out. She begged this time for the girl to undo the pinch. The girl brooded down at Xena seemingly trying to decide whether to save her captor or not. Finally the girl's hard stare faltered and she released the pinch from Xena. Xena gasped for air. She took a moment to recover. She was relieved to be alive but furious that the girl had played with her life like that. Didn't she know who she was dealing with?

"Again." Xena demanded. Confused, the girl moved her fingers towards Xena again. Xena stopped her. "No. On you this time." she pointed to the girl's neck. The girl understood. She took Xena's hands and positioned them correctly on herself. She gave a nod and Xena used the pinch. It was the girl's turn to fall to her knees. She looked up pleading for Xena to show her mercy. Xena let the girl wait while she nonchalantly examined her nails, passing the time. Serves her right. Satisfied that the girl had learned some respect, Xena removed the pinch.

The pinch, Xena discovered, could be used to numb pain and disable a person's bending. This valuable skill proved useful and worth the risk of trusting the girl. A close bond formed between the two as they sailed for some time. Fate took a tragic turn however thanks to a man named Julius Caesar.

Caesar and Xena intertwined paths when Xena captured him as a prisoner. His cocky attitude intrigued her and she sought to get close to him once she realized how valuable he was. He believed he would be a powerful ruler one day and conquer the world. Conquering the world was right up Xena's alley. Caesar was an Earthbender but hardly used his bending. He didn't like lifting a finger to do the dirty work. Xena fell for him but later learned that he could not be trusted.

Xena had not seen Caesar for a while since their flirtatious affair and was ecstatic when she saw his ship sailing towards hers. She instructed her crew to let Caesar and his men on board. The girl recognized Caesar and warned Xena to use caution and not let him on board. "It's ok. He is a friend." Xena assured the girl. That statement turned out to be false when after coming aboard Caesar ordered his men to attack and capture Xena and her crew.

Betrayed and chained with her crew, Xena helplessly waited the ride to shore. Once on shore, Caesar had his soldiers tie each of the prisoners to a cross where they would be left there to die. Caesar stared up at Xena hanging from her cross. "You should be grateful Xena. I could have sold you to slavery. Rome comes first and justice to anyone who opposes it." Xena spit at him in response. Caesar glared at her. "Break her legs." he ordered before leaving. Following his orders, one of his soldiers lifted a boulder in the air using earthbending. He punched forward and the boulder slammed into Xena's legs with great force. Xena screamed in agony as the bones shattered.

She hung there til nightfall. She waited for death to come but knew it was far off. Feeling beaten, betrayed, and ill from hanging on a cross in the sun all day, Xena's energy was drained. She faded in and out of conscious watching the few guards left to watch them. There was a sudden outburst of voices. Xena tried to focus on what was happening but couldn't. The ropes holding her up were cut and she dropped to the ground into someone's arms. She realized it was the girl. Xena wondered if she was imagining being rescued. How did the girl get safely from the ship? Xena fell unconscious as the girl took her away.

The girl brought Xena to a healer. The healer reset the bones in Xena's legs and placed braces on them so they could heal. Xena didn't have much time to heal before Caesar sent men after her. They burst in through the door attacking the girl, the healer, and Xena. Xena fought the best she could with her broken legs. The girl took out most of the soldiers. The girl saw one of the soldiers aim his crossbow at Xena. She threw herself in front of Xena to protect her. Xena stared in horror at the lifeless body that had fallen into her arms. She turned to the remaining soldiers. There was no mercy in her eyes. They would pay for what they had done. Something snapped in Xena that day, something that set her on the ruthless path of the evil Warrior Princess.

Chapter Text

"So do we know what this Waterbender looks like?" Xena asked as she pulled Argo along. "I was told she is an older woman who lives alone on Euras Hill." Gabrielle replied. Xena was a bit skeptical about this mysterious stranger they were headed to meet. She knew people lived alone for a reason. "Anything else they said about her?" Xena pryed. "Not much aside from the fact she is a respected bender. Many waterbenders in the area go to learn from her." Gabrielle shrugged.

When they reached Euras Hill they saw a little cottage near the base of the hill. It had a well kept garden and a small pond by it as well as a stable for Argo. Gabrielle was sold. "Look at this adorable place!" she exclaimed. Xena breathed easier. It did seem like a nice place. They knocked on the door. An aged woman with wispy white hair in a bun opened the door. She smiled and welcomed them in before they even explained who they were. She probably was used to having strangers knock on her door.

She offered them something to eat and drink which they gratefully accepted after traveling all that way. The old woman sat at the table with them as they ate. "So how can I help you two ladies today?" she asked. Xena looked at Gabrielle and motioned for her to explain. "My name is Gabrielle and I am a Waterbender." Gabrielle started. "I heard about you being a talented bender and wanted to come here to learn. This is my friend Xena. She's a Firebender."

The Lady smiled, the wrinkles around her eyes creasing deeper. "Well Gabrielle and Xena, I am more than happy to teach you what I know. My name is Aricia and I have had many students throughout the years. There is a room in the back you are welcome to use while you stay. We can get started as soon as you are ready." Gabrielle set their things in the guest room while Xena tended to Argo. Aricia was waiting by the pond when Gabrielle was finished.

"Show me what you know already." Aricia instructed. Gabrielle bended the water of the pond. She demonstrated the many Waterbending moves she had learned. Aricia stood watching, her hands clasped behind her back. She nodded her approval once Gabrielle had completed her demonstration. "Very good. You have good form. You lack in power but we can work on that. I didn't see you freeze water at all. Can you show me how you work with ice?" Gabrielle hesitantly nodded. She hadn't quite mastered freezing water.

Xena had returned from the stable and sat watching. Gabrielle raised her hands and bended a stream of water upward. She focused on turning it into ice. It wobbled a bit before bursting and splashing all over the place. "Let me try again." She said embarrassed. She quickly bended the water again. It took a moment but soon the pillar of water was frozen solid. Gabrielle breathed a sigh of relief.

"Why don't we work on controlling ice first." The lady suggested. "Ice bending can come in handy. Let me give a demonstration. Bend water at me." She instructed Gabrielle. Gabrielle did as told. Aricia met the wave of water head on. The water changed to snow in an instant and landed harmlessly around her. "See? One of the many ways to use your bending." Aricia explained. Gabrielle was impressed.

Xena watched them practice for a bit longer before finding something else to preoccupy her. Aricia worked with Gabrielle all the next day as well. Xena kept busy by doing work around the house like chopping wood and fixing a hole in the roof. It seemed like a nice thing to do in repayment for teaching Gabrielle. 

Xena would watch Aricia and Gabrielle while working. Gabrielle picked up pretty quickly on ice control and they had moved on to more advanced moves. Xena smiled as she watched Gabrielle. Her long blonde hair fanned in the air as she moved, water danced around her. Xena was proud to see her come so far.

The next day was much of the same. Aricia was pleased with Gabrielle's progress and thrilled by her enthusiasm. "Gabrielle! Come here. I want to show you something new." Aricia requested. She led Gabrielle to the stable. "I learned this some time ago when I was in a desperate situation. Now I don't show this to many people because they don't understand. Some disagree with what I am about to show you so just have an open mind." The old woman cautioned.

Gabrielle felt uneasy about what the woman would do next. Aricia turned to her horse and raised her hands. The horse quivered and slowly bowed down on its front legs. Aricia relaxed and the horse stood back up and shook its head, annoyed. "Gabrielle stared wide eyed at the woman. "What did you just do?" "It's called bloodbending. Waterbenders can use the fluid in a animal's or person's body and control their movements." Aricia explained.

Gabrielle shook her head in horror. "That's not right. Bending is about controlling the elements. Bloodbending? That is going too far. How did you ever discover...why would I ever want to use this." Gabrielle was disgusted. "Give it a chance. Try it. Feel the power behind it. You will change your mind." The woman encouraged. Her voice had become ominous. Gabrielle turned and fled the stables. She didn't get too far. Her legs stopped moving. She stared down confused. In her head she screamed at them to move but they didn't.

She involuntarily spun around to face Aricia. The woman had her under her control.  "Don't you want power? Don't you want to be able to help and protect others?" The woman taunted. "Yes but not like this." Gabrielle replied, struggling to move on her own. Aricia shook her head at Gabrielle's struggle. "You will only be free if you give in to Bloodbending. Use it to take back control." "No!" Gabrielle shouted.

Xena heard Gabrielle shout and came rushing over. "Gabrielle? What's going on? Are you ok?" Xena asked. She had no idea Gabrielle was under Aricia's control. Gabrielle felt released from the Bloodbending and she watched as Xena's body went stiff. Xena's eyes widened in shock. She looked from Aricia to Gabrielle searching for answers.

Now that Gabrielle was free, she could fight. "Let her go." she yelled as she released an attack. Aricia sidestepped the wall of water, while still maintaining control over Xena. Gabrielle went to strike again. "I wouldn't do that if I were you. Not unless you want to see your friend get hurt." Aricia warned. Gabrielle held her pose, water hanging in the air beside her.

Aricia moved her hands and Xena unwillingly drew her sword. Aricia smirked at Gabrielle. "Bloodbend or I will command her to use the sword on herself." Gabrielle dropped the water. "Why are you doing this?" Gabrielle's voice strained. "You have such potential. It would be a shame if it was wasted. Now please cooperate and make this easier for everyone." Aricia tried to convince her.

Gabrielle shook her head. She was determined to stay true to what she felt was right. Aricia rolled her wrist and Xena ran her blade across her arm. Xena voiced her pain as a trickle of blood ran down her arm. Raged, Gabrielle sent a spiral of water at Aricia. Aricia calmly raised a hand and the water changed its course. It sped back towards Gabrielle and knocked her down.

Drenching wet, she watched Aricia make Xena run her sword down her arm again. "Stop!" Gabrielle pleaded. Tears of frustration brimmed her eyes. Aricia flicked her chin and Xena raised the sword, the end aimed at her chest. Gabrielle was on her feet in an instant. She ran towards Xena to stop her from using the sword. A block of ice came out of nowhere and hit her in the midsection, sending her flying back. She shook her head to recover from hitting the ground. "Gabrielle!" Xena called. Gabrielle's heart sank to hear fear in Xena's voice. What could she do? She was no match for Aricia.

Xena watched as her arms raised the sword higher, preparing to run it through her chest. It would soon impale her heart that was beating out of her chest in terror. She heard a gasp. At first she thought it had come from her and the deed had been done. No, instead Xena felt control of her body again. The gasp had come from Aricia. The woman had become stiff.

Xena looked at Gabrielle. She was using Bloodbending on the woman. "Xena, get our things and load them on Argo. We are leaving." She said with authority as she glared at Aricia. Xena instead grabbed some rope from the stable and tied the old woman's hands behind her back. She was not about to leave Gabrielle alone with the woman. Aricia just smiled at Gabrielle as Xena tied the rope. "Congratulations, Bloodbender." she declared. Her words hit Gabrielle in the pit of her stomach.

Gabrielle felt awful. She had gone against what she had thought was right. There was no other way though. Xena would've been killed. They gathered their things and left Aricia tied up. Xena had no doubt the woman would eventually break free. By the time that happened though, they would be long gone. They set up camp in the woods once it was too dark to travel.

Xena watched Gabrielle collect firewood. She knew the girl wasn't ok. "Gabrielle, you saved my life. Thank you." she said to ease her mind."Gabrielle plopped down on a log. "Ugh, I just feel so disgusted. I actually Bloodbended. What kind of person have I become to give in like that?" she wrapped her arms around her middle.

Xena came over and sat next to her. She placed a hand on her shoulder. "There is a big difference between you and that crazy old woman. You have a good heart Gabrielle and the fact that you are so against Bloodbending shows that. I know if there had been another option for stopping her, you would have chosen it."

Gabrielle leaned into Xena, wrapping her arms around her for comfort. "The thing that bugs me though is it came so easy to me. Easier than regular Waterbending and icebending. I felt the power she was taking about. It was scary." she whispered. Xena rested her head on Gabrielle's. "I'm sorry you had to go through that Gabrielle." "What if I end up in a desperate situation like that and have to use it again?" Gabrielle thought aloud. "I hope that never happens. If it does then you will make the right choice." Xena replied. "Now let's get some sleep." she suggested.

Xena lay awake long after Gabrielle. Guilt kept her awake. Because of her, Gabrielle was being exposed to more violence. She was being forced to act against her peaceful nature. The young innocent girl was becoming a mature woman and a fighter. Some of that was good, yes but how much longer before Gabrielle was forced to kill someone? Xena wanted to take her back to the little village she came from and leave her safe and sound there. If only Gabrielle would stay.

No Xena decided to do nothing. She would let Gabrielle continue traveling with her. She winced at her selfishness. Doing what was best for Gabrielle meant losing a friend and Xena wasn't ready for that. Xena pushed the argument from her mind. She didn't want to think too much into it. She would just have to do better to protect her. Staying away from mysterious strangers was a good step.

Chapter Text

Their travels had taken them all over Greece and now they where sailing a ship across a sea. Gabrielle wasn't too thrilled about it at the moment as she stood with her head hung over the side of the boat. Every big wave that rocked the boat, made her head spin and her stomach lurch. Xena came to check on her. "How are you holding up?" Xena asked. "Not very well but I think I'll live." was Gabrielle's reply.  "Here try this." Xena said grabbing Gabrielle's wrist. "Ah!" Gabrielle exclaimed as Xena hit a pressure point on her wrist. "That should calm the seasickness." Xena then gave an amused grunt. "What?" Gabrielle asked. "I think it's interesting that you, a waterbender, has gotten seasick. You would think that wouldn't be possible." Xena shrugged. Gabrielle didn't share the amusement. "Xena." A voice called. The voice belonged to the captain of the ship, Ulysses. Xena turned and went to see what he wanted.

Xena and Gabrielle were helping Ulysses get home to his kingdom safely. The God Poseidon was determined to stop Ulysses from making it home. Xena was enlisted because of her experience dealing with gods. Gabrielle was useful because of her Waterbending. Of course Gabrielle wondered how well she could fight the God of the sea when she felt sick and disoriented.

Xena stepped up next to the wheel where Ulysses stood steering. "Your friend, is she going to be ok?" Ulysses asked looking down at the blonde still leaning over the railing. Xena looked back over her shoulder at Gabrielle too. "Yeah she'll be fine." Ulysses turned his attention back to Xena. "We are approaching the area where the Sirens dwell. We need to prepare for what Poseidon has in store." Xena nodded. They would need to tie Ulysses up so he couldn't respond to the Sirens' call. Xena and Gabrielle would be unaffected because a siren's call only affects men.

Despite clear weather an hour earlier, a nasty storm had overcome them not long after they had gotten Ulysses tied up. It had to be the work of Poseidon. Xena took the wheel while Gabrielle guarded Ulysses. Xena fought to steer them through the storm. Gusts of wind pulled at the sails. Waves crashed over the railings. Xena was drenched by the rain and the crashing waves just added to it.

Gabrielle was miserable as the floor kept moving under her. She sat on the floor holding her head, her elbows resting on her knees. Ulysses was standing in front of her, tied to a pole. Gabrielle grabbed the bucket next to her as her stomach reacted to the motion of boat. As she lifted her head out of the bucket, she heard something. It was...singing? The voices were pleasant and angelic. She wondered if it was the Sirens. To answer her question, Ulysses struggled against the ropes. Gabrielle tried to snap him out of it. "Ulysses stop!" "Can't you hear them Gabrielle? It's the most beautiful sound I've ever heard. They're calling me, I must get to them." he replied and continued to attempt escape. One rope snapped, then another. Gabrielle knew she had to stop him but she struggled to get to her feet. "Ulysses don't listen to them. It's the Sirens. Poseidon is using them to try and stop you." Ulysses ignored her. Gabrielle was finally on her feet, ready to stop him. Ulysses wouldn't have it. He kicked her right in the gut, knocking her down. He untangled himself from the ropes and fled to the upper deck. The attack had knocked the wind out of her. Gabrielle remained on all fours struggling to get a full breath.

Xena spotted Ulysses come up on deck. She called to him but he didn't listen. He made his way to the edge of the ship. Xena wasn't sure what to do. She had to keep steering or else the ship could be lost in the waves. She began singing. She hoped to compete with the Sirens. Surprisingly it worked. Ulysses turned and looked at her. The trance was broken only for a minute though. Ulysses continued his route to the edge. He only made it a few steps before ice creped up his feet, past his ankles and up to his calves. The ice froze him to the deck, stopping his progress. Gabrielle had made it to the upper deck. She kept reinforcing the ice as Ulysses tried to hack away at it. Eventually they stopped hearing the Sirens. The storm eased off. Gabrielle released Ulysses.

"Thank you. I..." He noticed a red mark where he had kicked her. "Did I do that? I'm so sorry." Gabrielle tried to make her grimace look like a smile. "It's fine. I know you didn't mean to." That evening Ulysses made them all supper and they reflected on what had happened. Ulysses reached for the last piece of fish but Xena grabbed it first. Xena had found out about the kick Ulysses had landed on Gabrielle and wasn't too happy about it. "Do you think we will actually see Poseidon?" Gabrielle asked them. Both shrugged. "Well Poseidon has an issue with all three of us so it's possible he could make an appearance." Xena said.

"Why would he have an issue with me?" Gabrielle asked. "Because you're a waterbender." Ulysses said simply. "So it's really true? Poseidon hates waterbenders? I wasn't sure if it was just a myth." Gabrielle said in amazement. Ulysses nodded. "You know why? You know the story?" He asked her. She nodded hesitantly before starting the story. She was a bard after all and couldn't pass up a good story to tell.

"People didn't always have the ability to bend the elements. Long ago humans were given the ability by the great Lion Turtles. Once Poseidon discovered that humans, which are inferior to the gods, possessed such power, he became angry and jealous. Any waterbender is seen as a threat to his Godhood." Xena nodded. "Yep. In the early days he used hunt down any waterbender that touched his seas. After discovering that he still had much more power than even the most skilled waterbender, he backed off." Gabrielle picked at a fish bone. "I still wouldn't want to come face to face with him." "I'm sure we won't. Poseidon avoids confrontations with humans unless necessary." Xena affirmed.

They only had one more day of sailing. The weather showed no signs of a storm the next morning. They hoped it would stay that way. The three of them kept busy making minor repairs to the ship and keeping an eye out for any trouble. Xena was mending one of the sails when she saw something out of the corner of her eye. "Ulysses! Look, land!" she pointed. Ulysses beamed with excitement. "Thank the Gods." Gabrielle said with a sigh of relief.

They then saw a strange giant wave rise from the ocean. The wave came straight toward them. "Poseidon!" Xena cursed under her breath. "Never mind. I take back my comment." Gabrielle said moving closer to Xena. Xena looked at Gabrielle. She was still pale from seasickness. "Gabrielle do you think you can get us to land safely?" Gabrielle looked unsure but gave a firm nod. She rushed to side of the ship. It made Xena nervous to have her so close to the edge of the ship.

The wave was upon them now. Gallons of water started to drop. Gabrielle raised her hands above her. The wave was now under her control. She commanded the enormous wave to retreat back to the ocean. Just as it did, another wave rose on the other side of the ship. Xena launched a fireball at it but it dissolved amongst the wall of water. Gabrielle was now at the other side of the ship ready to stop the wave.

As Gabrielle was handling the wave, a watery arm snuck up and grabbed her. It lifted her high above the boat. "Gabrielle!" Xena shouted and released a stream of fire. The fire cut the arm of water and Gabrielle fell. Xena caught her. Gabrielle had a second to thank her before another attack. "Xena!" She warned. Xena looked up to see a pillar of water diving towards them. Xena's instinct was to shield Gabrielle with her body but instead ducked her head down so Gabrielle could raise her arms. They both winced, preparing to get drenched.

Seconds went by and they remained dry. Both opened their eyes and looked up. The water appeared to have been stopped by an invisible shield. Xena's lips twitched into a a smile of pride for Gabrielle. She set the waterbender down so she could do her job. Gabrielle dispersed the floating pillar and everything was calm.

"Ha! That's it!" Gabrielle shouted "That's the best you can do Poseid-" Xena grabbed her and covered her mouth. "Shhh! I wouldn't be egging him on." Gabrielle raised her eyebrows. "Right sorry I got kind of excited." Gabrielle said once Xena removed her hand. Ulysses sailed the ship to land. He was so glad to have finally made it. He jumped off the ship and knelt in the sand. Gabrielle followed just as happy to be on land again. She fell to the ground and kissed it. Ulysses thanked them and offered them a place to live in his kingdom. They declined. They had plenty of people to help and adventures to have. Xena wasn't too worried about sailing back now. She worried more about convincing Gabrielle to board a ship again more than she worried about Poseidon.

Chapter Text

It was the middle of the night. Gabrielle hadn't been able to sleep so she snuck away from the warmth of the fire and Xena to think. She thought about her daughter, the one who she will never get to raise.

It had started with Caesar and Boudicca. While Xena was helping Boudicca fight Caesar, Gabrielle had been tricked into losing her blood innocence. She had taken her first life. She remembered vividly the resistance of the the knife as she shoved it into the woman's chest. She remembered staring in shock and then guilt at the blood staining her hands.

As if that wasn't enough, the deed had summoned the evil Lord Dahak. Xena returned to fight but Dahak's presence had Gabrielle in his grasp. Gabrielle swallowed hard as she remembered. While Xena had fought to save her, she remained suspended above the altar. Flames had snaked around her, wrapping and weaving around her trapped body. They had wrapped between her thighs. Gabrielle shuddered as she remembered the unpleasant and terrifying feeling of someone violating her body. She could only tilt her head back and gasp.

Xena had saved her life but couldn't undo the damage. Gabrielle had taken shelter in Xena's arms after the temple had come down. She had felt so many emotions and most of them unpleasant. She emotionally felt like someone had raked her insides, leaving her feeling raw.

This event led to the birth of her daughter. A smile touched the corner of her lips. Her beautiful daughter she named, Hope. Her smile disappeared. If only her daughter hadn't been evil incarnate. Gabrielle spared Hope's life like any mother would. She sent her down the river in a basket, hoping that the goodness inside of her would out rule the evil. The pain of giving her up was still there but the pain of the memories lessened each day. She used to have nightmares. She used to resent Xena for wanting to kill the child because it was evil. Because of this she refused to find comfort in Xena. Xena didn't give up though. Eventually they became close again. Xena worked hard to make Gabrielle feel good again, to feel beautiful again, though their intimacy and every day life. Now when she went to be alone at night, peace filled her heart more than sorrow or anger. She thought about her daughter and tried to send positive vibes to wherever she may be.

Xena rolled over that same night to find her sleeping companion missing. She went to check on her. She found Gabrielle leaning on her staff, staring at the stars. "You ok?" Xena asked softly, coming up behind her. Gabrielle smiled at her. "Yeah." she collected herself and turned to Xena. "Thank you for helping me get through everything." she thanked Xena. "Of course." Xena replied. They both noticed someone hiding behind them. It turned out to be a messenger. The Green Dragon was getting too powerful and Xena was to do something to stop it.

The next day they went into town to buy supplies. Gabrielle didn't get why Xena was going and why she wasn't invited. Gabrielle was even more furious when it turned out that Xena was going all that way to kill someone. Xena wasn't an assassin. It hurt Gabrielle to see all the change Xena had made to just dissolve. She insisted that Xena at least explain why she was doing this. Xena agreed and over the next few days while they traveled, Xena shared a new part of her history.

It came from a time when evil Xena existed. After Caesar had broken her, made her snap, she had found Borias. Borias was a firebender same as her so it made sense that their relationship was a heated and passionate one. It wasn't really love though. They both used each other for their purposes.

They had come to make a deal with the emperor of Chin. Xena was reluctant to cooperate. She had too much pride and anger to think straight those days. The first time they had met with the emperor, he had brought his little boy. Borias had instructed Xena to behave but she didn't like being told what to do. As the meeting went on Xena couldn't resist acting out. Borias rushed out to apologize to the offended emperor leaving the little boy alone with Xena.

She didn't like how he was watching her. Wouldn't be fun if she made him cry? She snarled as she breathed fire. The boy's eyes widened and he ran out of the hut. Xena was pleased. His family descends from a long line of firebenders but she doubted the boy or his father could do that trick.

Her moment of satisfaction was gone when Borias returned. He hastily pulled her to her feet, making her bad leg hurt. He reprimanded her. She bared back while enticing him in a way she knew he couldn't resist. He let her off the hook with a warning.

The next meeting with the emperor, Borias had tried to leave Xena behind. She wouldn't have that. She showed up just in time to see a well dressed woman step out instead of the emperor. Xena stepped next to Borias as the woman, Lao Ma, introduced herself. Lao Ma was the wife of the Emperor, Lao Sho. Xena saw the warning Borias directed at her. She decided to heed the warning, for now. Lao Ma didn't seem like a threat. She was quiet and humble. Xena figured even with her bad leg, Lao Ma would be no match for her.

The meeting went well into the night. Lao Ma and Borias ate while they conversed. Xena opt out of the meeting but remained present. She watched them as she smoked her pipe. The smoke made her mind fuzzy. The more she watched, the more her drugged mind was convinced that Lao Ma was trying to take her man.

As Lao Ma was reaching for food, Xena threw a knife. It made its mark, inches from the woman's hand. "That's my piece of meat you're reaching for." Xena cryptically threatened. It didn't seem to faze Lao Ma. "You're wrong. I don't eat meat." she calmly replied, reaching for bread. Frustrated, Xena stormed out.

Later that night Xena found the woman alone in the hut. Lao Ma's back was turned. Xena angrily launched a fireball. Without looking, Lao Ma used a whoosh of air to send the fireball back in Xena's direction. Surprised, she ducked, and the fireball passed her. Scrambling, she rushed to attack the woman. With a simple movement of Lao Ma's arms, a burst of air knocked Xena square off her feet and out onto the ground. Xena gasped for air as her mind reeled. Lao Ma was an airbender! Did anyone else know?

Borias appeared. "What happened?" he asked concerned. All Lao Ma said was, "The deal is off.", and walked away. Xena knew Borias was furious at her but she didn't care. She had a plan B. "Wait did you really kidnap that boy?" Gabrielle interrupted. Xena nodded. "I held him for ransom. You understand Gabrielle, that I was a different person back then." She continued with her story.

When Borias found out what she had done, he wasn't sure whether he was frustrated or astounded. "You are a crazy person!" He shouted as he approached her. She just smiled proudly. She explained her plan to him and told him to get the Emperor. While she waited, she "entertained" the boy, demonstrating her firebending. She couldn't do as much as she used to until her leg had fully healed. Borias returned with the emperor. It did not go as Xena expected. Borias had knocked her out and handed her over to the emperor to do as he pleased.

A few days later, Xena bitterly gripped the bars of her bamboo cage as the wagon pulling her bounced along. The wagon stopped and Xena watched Lao Ma approach the emperor and his son in front of the wagon. Xena felt humiliated by the situation she was in. She silently watched the exchange between them with the slightest curiosity.

Lao Ma casually asked about Xena in the cage. The emperor explained that he was planning on hunting Xena for sport. Lao Ma commented that it wasn't very sporty to hunt an injured woman. The emperor didn't care. Lao Ma then turned to the boy, her son, and offered him a gift she had made for him. The boy took the gift and tossed it to the ground. Xena was shocked by his disrespect. Did he know how powerful this woman was? Lao Ma's face fell as she bowed and bid them goodbye. The emperor instructed one of his men to show him the gift the boy had thrown. " Ah, she knows my nickname for you." he said after seeing the stitch work of a green dragon.

They gave Xena a head start but it didn't seem long enough. She ran, her past injury making her stumble. Xena heard the dogs not far behind her. This was a new kind of fear. They had blocked her bending and she had no weapons. All there was to do was run. It seemed hopeless. Eventually they would catch her. They were already gaining on her. She tried not to think of what would happen when they did catch up. She knew how hunting parties went and how the dogs were used. Her leg shot up with pain. It was too much. She tripped again. She glanced behind as she crawled. When she turned back around, it took her a moment to realize what was in her way. It was Lao Ma.