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Based on characters and situations created by Robert Tapert and Sam Raimi.
Copyright 1997 by John Dorsey
Xena: Warrior Princess and all characters are the sole property of Universal. No copyright infringement is intended through the writing of this fan fiction.
Do The Walls Come Down?
By John Dorsey
The name echoes through my mind, unending and unresolved.
Iím sitting alone by a fire. The night is clear. The stars are shining. But all I can think about is her. I can never seem to think about anything else.
I wonder where she is. I ache to be near her, to hear her voice, her laugh. I would even endure her twisting my nose if it meant I could be close to her. As I think of her now, I remember the last time I held her in my arms. It was only a few months ago, yet it seems like an eternity.
Iíve wanted to be a warrior my whole life. I canít remember having any other interest. Being a descendant of a long line of warriors, that career path was expected of me. I always pictured myself as a ruthless marauder, plundering villages and slaughtering any who would stand in my way. Funny how you can set out to do something, yet never really take the time to think things through. I certainly never did. I didnít know who I really was or who I was really meant to be... until these two very special people entered my life.
Xena and Gabrielle.
I had heard about Xenaís dark past. I figured she was the one I would follow, not knowing that she had changed. I tried to act tough in front of her and bragged about how I loved to kill. Xena was disgusted with me, telling me to get lost, among other things.
I still remember the first time I saw the "irritating blonde" named Gabrielle. I scoffed upon her, calling her a little girl. She seemed so annoying. I pushed her out of my way, not being able to stand the sight of her. If anyone had told me then the extraordinary events that would happen between the two of us, I would have given a hearty laugh at the mere thought.
After being rejected by Xena, I went to Callisto, her greatest enemy. In order to join her army, she ordered me to kidnap Gabrielle. I couldnít believe my good fortune to have been given such an easy task. A little girl like her, she was no match for Joxer the Mighty. Was I in for a surprise...
When Gabrielle separated herself from Xena, I threw a net over her. She quickly got free and pummeled me senseless. I couldnít believe it. Even after trying a second time, she still clobbered me, breaking my nose in the process. It was truly humiliating.
But I was so desperate to be a warrior that I pleaded with Callisto for another chance. She gave me another chance, all right. Gabrielle had been captured. All I had to do was slit her throat, and I would finally become the man I always wanted to be. A warrior. A murderer.
Theodorus handed me a knife. I looked in Gabrielleís eyes and I saw her trembling fear. In that instant, I suddenly knew that all my dreams and desires had been a joke. The man that I always dreamed of becoming was not the man I wanted to become. One glimpse of her lovely innocence, and I knew I couldnít kill her. I would die first.
I dropped the knife. As I released that cold instrument of death, I was finally letting go of everything I had been a fool to believe in. I was finally letting go of my familyís expectations. I was finally realizing what was most important to me. And, most of all, I was finally becoming the man I was meant to become.
Xena saved me and Gabrielle from Callisto. From that point on, I still wanted to be a warrior. But I wanted to be a warrior fighting for the common good, roaming through the countryside, never needing a place to hide, righting wrongs and singing songs, being mighty all day long...
I wanted to be a hero.
So much has happened since then. Iíve teamed up with Gabrielle and Xena more times than I can count. Together, weíve saved the world from Bacchi, saved kingdoms from being overthrown and catapulted into war by Xena look-alikes, stopped Callisto again, and... so much more.
And through it all, Gabrielle befriended me. Despite the fact that I had attacked her, she forgave me and even wound up saving my life a few times. She and Xena have always been annoyed when Iím around, but Iíve always been able to tell that, deep down, they really do care about me. They just donít like to show it.
They have, though. I was about ready to give up being a warrior after Aphrodite used me as a weapon to try and save some of her temples. I felt so worthless. But Gabrielle cared enough to stay with me a few days until Xena returned from a mission, and she got her to cheer me up. Xena showed me that deep down, in my heart, I really am the warrior I always wanted to be. Aphrodite simply brought out what was already there. When I think about the way I started feeling about Gabrielle at the time, I think Aphrodite may have also brought out something else that was already there.
I truly felt closer to Xena and Gabrielle than ever before. Theyíre the two best friends Iíve ever had. I knew then how much they cared about me, no matter how hard they tried to hide it. When I heard that Draco was going to try to capture a group of hestian virgins to sell into slavery, I had a feeling Xena and Gabrielle would be there. I wanted to do something to help them in return, so I showed up.
It was an amazing adventure. Xena inexplicably fell head over heels for Draco. She mistakenly tried to get him to change, and he played her for a fool. While Gabrielle and I were guarding the temple, he and his men took us prisoner and tied us up. Xena eventually freed us, and that was when it happened.
As I pulled myself out of the ropes that held me, I turned and saw Gabrielle staring at me. When I looked into her eyes, what I saw was the beginning of something that would change my life forever. I didnít realize it then, but, looking back, it was all so clear.
It was love.
Gabrielle was in love with me. Moments earlier she had been irritated by the fact that she had been tied up against my back, but somehow that had all changed in an instant. She was now absolutely, totally, and completely in love with me. It was so strange.
I still remember how confused I was at first. I couldnít understand why she was acting the way she was. I mean, she actually wanted to learn my song! We sang it together several times that day. Later on, when I hurt my hand punching Draco, she tended to me. Iíll never forget when she said, "Pookie!" I guess that was when I finally started to realize how she really felt about me.
Then Draco captured both of us again. All of a sudden, he was in love with Gabrielle! I remember entering his camp, the frightened look in Gabrielleís eyes. But she was more concerned about me than herself. She kissed me when Draco momentarily disappeared, and that was when it all hit me at once. That was when I realized the truth.
I was in love. With her. With Gabrielle. After everything we had been through together, I finally realized I loved her more than life itself.
Xena rescued both of us. We defeated Draco and his men at the temple under some very weird circumstances. Love turned out to be our most powerful weapon. Draco, out of his love for Gabrielle, vowed to reform and change his evil ways.
Eventually, I found Gabrielle. We held each other for a long time. I couldnít believe it. I finally found someone who loved me as much as I loved her. Not even Meg looked at me like Gabrielle did. I knew I wanted to marry her, to spend the rest of my life with her, to make children with her, and to hold her forever. And I knew she felt the same way about me.
But, suddenly, her expression changed. She looked bewildered, confused, wondering what she was doing in my arms. I didnít realize it at first, but this was all the cruel joke of a two-year-old Cupid. Gabrielle was cured of her love, but there was no remedy for me. I was in love for real. Forever.
And I still am.
I never would have believed this could happen. But it did. So here I am tonight, sitting in front of a campfire, just like I did that other night. Gabrielleís words echo through my mind. Can you imagine the two of us in love? Kind of makes you laugh just to think about it.
I could laugh, but Iíd much rather cry.
What do I do now? I know that I will love her forever. And I also know that she will never feel anything for me. It tears me apart just to think about it. All I can do is to stand by her and protect her, and to love her as much as I can. No matter what happens, I will always be there for her. Perhaps, someday, I will tell her. Perhaps someday. Until then...
Wherever you are, Gabrielle...
I love you.
I sing the song of Perdicus... the boy I knew, the man I loved.
The stars are out tonight. The campfire is warm. Yet, inside I feel a chill. I feel this way so much of the time. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever truly feel warm again.
Perdicus was my husband. For one night, we had all the happiness that two people could possibly have. It was everything I had ever dreamed of. Just like in a fairy tale. Unfortunately, as I was to find out, not everyone lives happily every after.
The day after our honeymoon night, that was when Callisto came. Seeking revenge on Xena, she wanted to kill me. Xena saved me, so she settled for Perdicus instead. Iíll never forget the horror of watching Callisto cut Perdicus down with her sword. And then I held him in my arms, but it was too late. He was gone.
Callisto died the next day, a fitting punishment for her crimes. But it didnít matter. Not to me. She was still the winner. And I the loser.
It never ceases to amaze me. Iíve traveled through the land with Xena for so long now. Weíve won so many battles, gained so many victories. Yet no matter how many times we win, we always seem to lose whatís most important to us. I lost Perdicus. Xena lost Marcus, and then Ulysses. Weíve managed to save the world a few times, yet we canít seem to save or be with the people who mean the most to us. I would laugh at the irony of it all if it wasnít so horribly cruel.
Iím sitting alone by the campfire, staring at the twilight. Xena walked off somewhere, but sheís not far away. Itís just the two of us. Itís been like that for so long. Sometimes I wonder if thatís how it will always be.
Xena and I are closer than family. She is my soulmate, and I am hers as well. I would do anything for her. Iím so lucky to have her, and yet... sometimes, I feel so alone. Sometimes Iíll sit at night and think of Perdicus, and the grief I thought gone will surface once again and put a stranglehold on my heart. Then Iíll bury my head in my hands and pray to Zeus that the pain doesnít tear me to pieces.
I never let Xena see me this way. She worries about me enough as it is.
Although Iíve only been traveling with Xena for two years, it seems like Iíve experienced enough to last a lifetime. The two of us together have saved people, cities, kingdoms, and the entire world itself on a few occasions. Iíve made a lot of special friends along the way: Hercules, Isolaus, Ephiny, Autolycus, and, although I would never admit to anyone, even Joxer.
But itís not an easy life we live. The hero business comes with a heavy price.
A day in the life of Xena can be a bit overwhelming. The constant travel seems so glamorous on the surface, but itís so exhausting. Living off the land can be a struggle, although Xena usually takes care of that.
But the worst part of it all is the danger. Time and time again, we throw ourselves into life-and-death situations. Weíve defied death more times than I think weíre entitled to. Deep down, I think it scares me more than I realize.
I know itís not easy on Xena. She respects me as a warrior. She has confidence in my abilities. Best of all, she doesnít treat me like a kid or try to overly protect me. But I can tell, just by looking in her eyes, how she worries about me. I think Iíve helped her keep on the straight and narrow, but I sometimes wonder what she would do if I was to die. Would she be able to move on and stay on the right path? Or would the guilt, compounded with the guilt she already bears, simply destroy her? I donít even want to think about it.
I wonder how long this journey of ours will last. We constantly travel, with no particular destination. Will this quest of ours ever end? And would I even want it to? I sometimes yearn for a simple life, a simple existence: a husband, children, a little home. Yet I still want adventure, to see as much of the world as possible. With the constant danger we face, I sometimes doubt I will ever live long enough to settle down with anyone. I really canít imagine finding anyone else, anyway. As long as Iím with Xena, it seems impossible. Virtually everyone who has gotten close to either of us has been destroyed. Funny, the only man who is a constant in my life is Joxer.
Xena is searching for something. But will she ever find what sheís looking for? Will she ever find peace? Or will her past haunt her forever? I wonder if sheíll ever do enough good to feel that sheís cleansed her soul and can finally drop her sword and find someone to settle down with.
And what about me? What is it that Iím searching for? Am I just as lost as Xena is? Maybe Iím just running... running because Iím afraid to get close to anyone again, running because Iím afraid that, without Xena, Iíll be vulnerable to Callisto or Velasca or whoever else comes along. Maybe Iím just afraid of everything...
I donít know what the answer is, but I will stay by Xenaís side until we find whatever it is weíre looking for. The two of us together, someday, will find it. I believe it is out there.
For now... I sing the song of Perdicus, the boy I knew, the man I loved.
I have seen things that precious few have ever seen.
From the towering walls of Troy to the glorious Acropolis of Athens, from the shining blue of the Aegean to the wondrous tundren plains of the Far East. All of these things I have seen and so much more.
My eyes have bore witness to both the darkness and the light. From the noble kindness of David to the arrogant deceit of Caesar, from the ultimate evil of Ares to the courage and compassion of Hercules.
Iíve traveled from one end of this world to the other. Iíve waged the greatest of wars. Iíve fought the fiercest of battles. Iíve been a savior, a destroyer, a healer, and... even a murderer. All of these things I have been. All of these things I still am. And all of these things I will remain for the rest of my days.
I look into the night. The darkness runs so deep, much like the darkness that fills my soul. So many questions burn in my mind, as if from the pits of Tartarus itself. Can I ever do enough to make up for the death and destruction I have wrought? Can I ever save enough lives? Can I ever stop enough evil?
Gabrielle is not far away. She is my anchor, the beacon that always guides me to safe haven. Without her, I would have returned to the darkness long ago. I donít believe I could survive without her guiding light. But for the moment, my focus is not on her, but on someone else.
I miss him so. I never let on to anyone, not even Gabrielle, how much his loss still haunts my mind. I should have been able to save him, to stop the arrow which ended his life. But I did not. Of all the lives I have saved, how ironic that Marcus, the one I loved, was among the few that I lost. It is the cruelest joke. I can save entire kingdoms. I can save an entire world. But not the one man I truly loved.
And then there is Ulysses.
After losing Marcus, love did not seem possible. It did not seem like an option. But, inevitably, it would come to me again. Gabrielle and I aided Ulysses in his quest to return home to the island of Ithaca where he ruled as king. He thought his wife dead, and during the trip, we eventually found ourselves in each other arms. Perhaps the loneliness I had felt for so long was finally getting to me. I wonder if I let myself fall for him too easily. But, looking back, I do believe that what I felt was love.
Ulysses was truly in love with me. After he reclaimed his kingdom, he still wanted to journey with me. Even though his wife turned out to be alive, he still wanted to be by my side. But I would not let him leave his people. I would not let him throw away everything that was truly important to him. I would not deny him his destiny.
Iíve always believed in destiny, and I still do. But now the idea of destiny scares me. I fear my destiny. The reason I fear it is because, deep in my heart, I believe that my destiny may be to die. And what I fear most of all is that Gabrielle may share my fate.
It always comes down to sacrifice. We sacrifice everything for the greater good. We sacrifice our hopes, our dreams, and even the ones we love just so we can do the right thing. I want to do the right thing. Iíve done all the wrong things a thousand times over, and if I canít do whatís right at this point in my life, then I suppose I might as well just lay down and die.
And yet... I feel selfish. I resent sacrificing Marcus and Ulysses. I resent putting my life on the line every time Ares goes ballistic, every time another warlord gets full of himself. I resent fighting a battle that goes on and on with no end in sight.
Tonight, I find myself yearning for an ordinary life. To have a husband. To live in a home. But it is impossible, a fantasy of fodder. For there is always another enemy on the horizon. And if I donít go straight to the enemy, then the enemy is certain to come straight to me.
And the enemy never seems to die. Look at Callisto. No, the enemy keeps getting stronger, more powerful, more ruthless, more deadly. Every victory we achieve, no matter how decisive, is never the end. There is always another enemy. There is always another evil.
I donít think Gabrielle knows just how much I fear for her life. At times I feel wrong for taking her away from Potaidaia. Of course, it was her decision to follow me. Sheís never shown any regret. But the odds we often face are so enormous, so overwhelming, that I canít help but wonder if I have doomed her.
I canít bear the thought of losing Gabrielle. If that was to happen, the guilt that already tears me to pieces would be magnified a thousand fold, and what is left of my soul would be shattered forever. I donít think I could go on.
Do the walls come down? Can we ever break the barriers keeping us from what we want most? Will I ever win a final, decisive victory that will finally appease the guilt which rages in my heart? Or will I be trapped inside this torture chamber forever?
Gabrielle. Hercules. Isolaus. Joxer. We each dance the dance, the oblivion dance, each step taking us closer to the edge. How many more Callistos will come and go before we see the sheer futility of it all? How long can we forestall what may be our mutually assured destruction?
So many questions. As I stand here and gaze at the stars, I can find no answers.
But I will push on. We will all push on to meet our destinies, whatever they may be. My soul is in need of redemption. I will either find it, or I will die trying. There is no other path for me now. For I learned long ago that there is no denying destiny. Not now. Not ever. That is the way it has always been, and that is the way it always shall be.
Tonight, I think of Marcus. I think of Ulysses.
And I yearn.
Note: This story was inspired by the song "Do The Walls Come Down" by Carly Simon, in case anyone cares. Itís a great song.
So... did you love it? Hate it? I love to hear comments, or just to get in touch with other Xena fans who are as obsessed with the show as I am. Please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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