Chapter 1: The End of The World: A Prolouge
You know how it goes.
Your neighboorhood gets terrorised by a biker gang. So you and your brother form your own biker gang to fight them off.
You accidently start a gang war spanning half of your home town and six different gangs that gets your brother killed and leaves downtown in pieces and you as the boss of all organized crime in the entire area.
As it turns out, you're a incredibly good fighter. Insanely good. You pick up sword fighting as a light work-out, and you excell. You are the best shooter around. You can pull stunts noone else even dares to try.
And then someone hands you a chakram, sort of a frisbee of death, and it's meant to be a joke, but you fall in love with it, it's the most heavy metal thing you have ever seen and it was meant for you.
You step on the toes of some superheroes. They mess with your business. You decide to become the most powerful bitch ever.
You start hanging out with some super villains. Some real A-Listers; Ares God of War, Kaiser C, alledged reincarnation of Julius Caesar, Borias, and, of course, the lesser known but infinitely more dangerous Alti, witch and necromancer. You take on the name The Destroyer of Worlds and you and Alti come up with a plan to gain inmessurable power by letting the underworld bleed into the world of the living.
This is where you mess up.
Because once the ghost army and the zombies and several incarnations of ultimate evil are let loose, you surprisingly loose all control.
It's so bad that you leave Alti behind as she tries to devour Night itself in a battle between overpowered necromancer and annoyed elder god, to join the superheroes and support them in a desperate attempt of saving the world, and it's a testiment to the direness of the situation that your help is welcomned with open arms.
You kick ass for hours, it's the most glorious thing you've ever been part of, and you and the heroes do manage to save the world, in part because the upheaval of a graveyard uncovers a magic sword that lets you kill the unkillable.
Most of the superheroes die that day. You're one of the few survivors.
The noble and strong, the protectors of the weak, all perished, thanks to you.
Xena Thrace took advantage of the following days of chaos to slip away unnoticed. Inbetween rebuilding leveled houses, relocating fugitives and identifying of all the bodies (some of them zombies that were now fully dead once more), there currently was simply no time for law enforcement to look for someone who had probably been killed anyways. They had found a thin film of blood and bone and Alti's DNA covering the walls of an old farm house and it was assumed that Xena had met a similar fate.
Xena fully intended to make use of that situation and live out the rest of her life in peaceful anonymity.
Instead, she met Gabrielle.
Chapter 2: A Tired Traveller
The suit had to go.
Xena had toyed with the idea of scattering parts of her easily recognisable outfit around the place she had last been seen by other people, to enforce the idea that she was dead, but eventually she decided to just disappear and let herself be forgotten.
She still had the keys to a locker at her hometowns' train station. Being one of the most successful villains around, it always paid to have small places to hide things everywhere she went. That locker contained money, fake papers, a change of clothes, and some snacks, the kind that never went bad.
Post-apocalyptic public transportation was a nightmare. People everywhere. Confused, scared people keeping their families as close as possible to them. Xena had aquired, well, no, let's call it what it was, Xena had stolen some clothes, Jeans and a tank top, and carried her suit of armor and the chakram in a douffle bag through four hours of depressing train ride.
It was late in the evening when she arrived. The train station was crammed with people. Children were crying. Men were complaining, women were scolding, and Xena ignored all of them and walked straight to her locker.
"Hello, Lyceus", she greeted the picture of her brother that hung inside, and went to change her clothes right there, nobody was paying attention in the chaos anyways.
Large brown hoodie.
Messenger bag containing money, fake papers, and food.
"See you, Lyceus", she said as she closed the locker again. She went on her way, let herself be swallowed by the sea of confusion and uncertainty that people currently were.
Xena was planning to take shelter in her mother's Bed and Breakfast until she had decided where to go next. She was taking a chance with that. It was unlikely that her mother would rat her out to the authorities, but they had not parted on good terms, and Xena couldn't be sure she'd be welcome.
There was a bus driving to her old neighboorhood in the morning. Xena had six hours time to sit down on the bench at the bus stop and worry.
Xena was bad at this kind of stuff. At sitting. At not having anything to do. She hated it, it was time wasted.
After a while she lied down on the bench, using her bag as a pillow. She was overcome with exhaustion. The bus stops at the train station had roofs, and she would be protected by any weather.
At some point she nodded off and didn't wake again till dawn, when she startled up to the sounds of men laughing in the distance. Groaning, she pulled the hood deep over her face and turned around to get some more sleep. One of the men said something, and there was more laughter.
Xena couldn't understand a word, and she didn't want to. She just wanted to finish her damn nap. Who knew when she would be able or willing to gather some strength again.
A woman cried out. Xena's eyes snapped open.
Chapter 3: The Bottle
This chapter describes two women being harassed rather graphically. It's short and nothing too awful happens, but read with caution, maybe. If you don't want to read this, I'll put a summary at the end of the chapter for better understanding of the following plot. Also, there's one (1) swear word in this chapter.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
People lost in chaos.
She was out of the equation. What's done is done.
Fear ruling the world.
Let it. Not her problem.
Loud and obnoxious people.
Terrible thing. None of her business.
A woman in distress.
Xena jumped up from the bench, shouldered her bag and followed the noise. She hid behind an advertising pillar to observe the situation and work out a plan.
The scene that presented itself to her told its story with polo shirts and shorts and sneakers that were worn without visible socks, and beer bottles held in hands. The six men, young, lean, but muscular and confident, had circeled two women. One woman, her dark hair neatly done in a bun, held her jacket closed by crossing her arms over her chest, trying to take up as little space as possible. "Please, she said with quivering voice, "we all just want to get to our homes, don't we?"
The laughter of the men, boys really, some of them still having acne on their face and uneven beard growth that they didn't bother to shave, changed into hooting noises.
"You afraid?", one of them, a tall and lean blond man mocked her, and stepped into her personal space. "Why? We're not doing anything. I'm not even touching you, am I?" And he pocked out his tounge at her, way too close, and she flinched. "What? I'm not touching you. I didn't do anything, did I? What did I do, huh?"
The other woman, slightly shorter than the first, the face slightly pudgier, hair strawberry blond, but the same unsure look on her face, the same mixture of fear and disgust in her eyes, decided to change tactics.
"Don't touch her!", she yelled. Her voice was shaking, but Xena sensed it was more out of anger than fear. A little bit of both perhaps. But definitely more anger.
The man harassing the dark-haired woman looked the blond woman straight in the eyes and grinned gleefully.
Not taking his eyes off her, he poked his tongue out again.
He bent down to repeat his almost-licking.
"I said", the blond girl hissed, without lowering her voice, and the ice-cold tone bounced off the tarmac walls; she dropped to the floor and picked up an empty beer bottle, smashed the bottom half open and raised herself to her full eight, her improvised weapon held out, ready to strike, "don't fucking touch her."
Xena decided that this was her cue to pull her hood up and dash forward.
"Gentlemen, I think you should now take the opportunity to back off, before things get uncivilised."
Everyone froze for a moment, then turned their head to look at her.
If she played this right, she could get the two women out safely, not be recognized by anyone and still get a good handful of sleep.
With her hands burried in the pockets of her hoodie, she casually strolled up to the group. Even with the relaxed posture she was tall, taller than most of these boys, and they went out of her way into their circle out of instinct alone.
"Now, now", she told the blond woman, who, even while staring at Xena, held the broken bottle up, ready to strike, "you better put that bottle down, before someone gets hurt."
The blonde wavered for a second only, then her grip around the bottle neck tightened. "That's the idea, actually. If this clown doesn't leave my sister alone right now, he's going to get hurt!"
Xena shook her head. "You don't want to hurt him."
The blonde snorted. "Why, because I'm better than him?"
"No, because, in the eyes of the law, if you hurt him when he hasn't actually touched you or your sister, that is not self-defense, it's assault. It's absolute bull, but it is the law, and it would be a shame if you'd get into trouble because of these men."
The boy who was harassing the blonde's sister was beaming at them. "I don't know what the problem is. I didn't even touch her did I?"
"You shut your mouth, you little twerp!", the blonde yelled.
"Hey. Hey!", Xena got the blonde's attention back. "What's your name?"
For a moment it seemed the woman wouldn't answer, but then: "Gabrielle."
"Gabrielle, very nice. Now look, Gabrielle, I want you to give me the bottle. Hey! Gabrielle! Look at me! Give me. The bottle."
Gabrielle looked her in the eyes for what seemed an eternity. Xena put on her kindest smile. Trust me, please trust me just this one time Xena thought. She really didn't want this Gabrielle girl to get into trouble. She seemed too innocent to deal with either the police or this scum right here, despite her apparent brashness and bravery. These were the eyes of someone who thought that the world should be a good place. These were the eyes of someone worth protecting, and since noone worthy was around to do that right now, this duty fell to Xena.
Gabrielle sighed theatrically, but she handed the bottle over to Xena.
"Thank you", Xena said. She balanced the bottle between her hands, careful not to cut her fingers open. As she considered the sharp object, she walked a little inner half circle, until she stood before the boy who had tried to lick Gabrielle's sister. Gabrielle was right. He was a little twerp.
The sister took advantage of said twerk being mesmerised by Xena's imposing figure, and bolted into Gabrielle's arms.
With purpose, Xena took the bottle by its neck and offered it to the twerp like a flower bouquet.
"She really could have hurt you with that, you know?", Xena said.
Twerp grinned and moved forward to take the bottle.
They locked eyes.
That was when twerp knew that he had made a mistake. But it was too late.
His face fell.
"Oops", Xena said.
Then she let the bottle drop.
She had gotten the angle right; the glass shards shot up like water dropletts after a cannonball landing in a swimming pool, a good third of them disappeared into the legs of twerp's short and burried themselves into his lower body, where exactly they couldn't see, but the placement of blood stains that quickly formed on the fabric suggested it was where you would want it to be.
He stood there and screamed in terror. Then he fainted into the arms of the boy next to him.
"My bad. You should go and take care of your friend", Xena told the other men, "he needs to see a doctor."
They gathered the unconscious twerp and hurried away. Xena turned to see the two terrified sisters. Their faces had paled considerabely.
"That", Gabrielle panted, "was awesome."
Xena couldn't surpress a bit of a smirk as she picked up her dropped bag and started to walk back to her bench.
Reckless, really. So much for not drawing attention.
But, she told herself as she settled back into taking the rest of her nap, this would be the end of it.
Summary: Gabrielle and her sister get harassed by a bunch of young men. Gabrielle is just about to defend herself when Xena steps in. Xena feels imediately that Gabrielle needs to be protected. The men get what they deserve, Gabrielle is impressed af, and Xena walks of to resume her nap.
Chapter 4: That's What You Get For Getting Involved
Xena had done her best to ignore Gabrielle standing there, but it was getting ridiculous.
"I- I just wanted to say thank you?", Gabrielle said. "That was really all-around great of you, so, thank you."
"You're welcome. Now leave."
But Gabrielle didn't leave. Xena curled up closer on the bench and tried to go back to sleep, but she couldn't do that with that girl standing there breathing.
"Go tend to your sister, she needs you now."
"Oh, I was just saying goodbye to her. She's on the bus home."
"You're not going with her?"
"No, I, uh, I live here. I mean, not here, of course, I live in town. I go to med school. My sister was visiting me."
"That's wonderful. Now go. Please." And she closed her eyes.
"I just wanted-"
"No, just, because I recognised your face from the news and-"
"You did WHAT?"
Xena sat up in an instand. Gabrielle swallowed, but didn't budge.
That's what you got for helping. Trouble. Nothing but trouble.
"You are her, right? The one from the news. The Destroyer of Worlds?"
Xena stared at her.
"Everyone is talking about you, you know? They think you're dead. Hey, where are you going?"
Xena had jumped up, picked up her bag and walked away from the girl, very fast. She heard running steps following her and stopped so apruptly Gabrielle almost ran into her.
"STOP. Following me", Xena snarled, "are you insane? I could crush you to death with my tighs, are you even aware of that? What the hell is wrong with you?"
Gabrielle swallowed hard. "Hey", she said quietly, "it's alright, I'm not gonna tell anyone."
"Well maybe you should!" Xena snapped. "You should call the police and maybe the army too while you're at it."
"Why? Why? Do you actually know what I did?"
"Yes. You saved the world."
"I destroyed the world!"
"Ha", Gabrielle said with a bright face, "I mean you tried, but then you ended up saving it. We are still standing here, right? Thanks to you. Come on, that calls fo a second chance."
"You can't possibly..."
"Hey, maybe you need to calm down a bit? Take a deep breath? You have had a stressful couple of weeks I imagine."
"...you know what, just, go, just go." Xena burried her face in a hand.
Gabrielle wiggled her head in a manner Xena had to admit was cute. "Soooo you're not going to crush me to death with your tighs?"
Xena sighed. "No. But if you could forget you met me, that would be great."
"But why? It seems to me you could need a friend."
"I don't need anyone. I'm alright." Xena walked back to the bench. It was no use walking away, not when he bus would be here soon. Gabrielle didn't seem to be a threat either. She was being a bit of a nuisance though.
"I'm serious", Xena said when Gabrielle continued staring at her, "I've managed up till now without some random person following me like a duckling. So could you please leave me alone?"
And with that, she dropped her bag and herself down the bench again.
After a while, Gabrielle took the seat next to her.
"Didn't you listen?" Xena asked disbelieving.
"I did listen", Gabrielle said, and Xena could have sworn it was with a hint of smugness, "but clearly you didn't listen to me when I said I lived in town. We're taking the same bus."
Xena gave up. "Great. Just great."
They sat there for a bit before Gabrielle opened her mouth again. "Don't worry, I'm gonna sit all the way in the back, you won't even know I'm there. I'm not gonna say a word. I'll be so quiet. Eerie, almost. You won't believe it."
"You're right, I won't."