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Do The Walls Come Down? - Bitter Suiteness

By John Dorsey

Based on characters and situations created by Robert Taupert and Sam Raimi.

Copyright 1998 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.

This two-part story occurs before, during, and after the events of the Xena: Warrior Princess television episode "The Bitter Suite".

 

 

Part 1

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

Gabrielle.

She is the one I think of. She is the one I fear for.

The Amazons have welcomed me. Ephiny has tried to comfort me, but itís no use. I have never been more afraid in my entire life.

The darkness I sense is overwhelming. The light from the campfire doesnít seem to be enough. I can feel myself shake as I kneel by the flame. I donít know why, but I feel as though some cataclysmic event has been set in motion, something so horrible that it might tear the entire world to pieces.

Xena is not here. Gabrielle is. Iím in love with Gabrielle. I love her more than anything in the world. And itís ripping me apart inside knowing that thereís nothing I can do to protect her, thereís nothing I can no to spare her the agony she is feeling.

This purification ritual sheís going through scares me. The physical torture alone must be unbearable. And if what Ephiny says about the state of her mind is true... I fear she could die.

Itís still hard to understand whatís happened. Ephiny explained it to me, but it just doesnít make sense. Gabrielle had a child? A daughter of evil spawned from Dahak? The girl, Hope, murdered Xenaís son, Solon, and Gabrielle was forced to kill her. She was forced to murder her own child.

This is a nightmare.

And now Xena blames Gabrielle! And, worst of all, Gabrielle blames herself. This is crazy... How could this have happened? How can their friendship be in ruins? Everything is coming down, everything is falling apart, and me, Joxer the Mighty, canít do a thing about it. I canít do anything for the woman I love except pray.

Gabrielle...

Please pull through. Youíve always been so brave. Youíve never given up. I owe you my own life several times over. It was your shining light that turned me around. It wasnít until meeting you that I realized I wanted to be a hero. You were the one who changed my life.

I refuse to believe this is all your fault. You always do the right thing, the good thing. How could Xena possibly blame you for all this? Itís not fair. I believe in you, Gabrielle. I always have, and I always will.

Thatís why youíve got to fight the madness. Youíve got to fight the pain. You canít give in. You canít let it win. You canít let it destroy you. Because if you do...

It might destroy me, too.

For now I will try to sleep. But I need you. I want to hold you, to comfort you. But I canít.

So, once again, Joxer the Mighty isnít quite so mighty after all...

 

 

* * *

 

Pain.

I shriek again, but less frequently now. I think I am slowly becoming numb to the pain.

The whip cracks across my back. It hurts... it hurts so much. But, in a way, the physical pain is a blessing. For it serves as a distraction. It helps divert me from the true pain, the pain in my head, in my mind, in my heart, and in my soul.

This agony is overwhelming.

My whole life Iíve followed my ideals. Iíve always believed in love and forgiveness. I always believed in having faith in people, in seeing people for their good, not their evil. I always believed that in the cosmic battle of good vs. evil that good would always, inevitably, prevail. These ideals have guide my life. These ideals I have clung to, held to so desperately, never letting go. As long as I followed these ideals, I could do no wrong, I could hurt no person, I could cause no evil.

And now these ideals have betrayed me.

These ideals have been shattered, exposed for the sham they truly are. I followed them, and they led to my downfall, my destruction. They cost me the best friend I ever had, and they cost me her son. He, Solon, is now dead. And I am to blame.

I think my life is over.

What is there left to live for now? With Hopeís death, I almost committed suicide. Perhaps I should have. Perhaps even death would have been preferable to this. For the guilt I feel now is worse than any I have ever felt before.

Xena was right. She was right, and I was wrong. Why is she always right, anyway? Why am I always the one to make the mistakes? I feel so angry. I can feel the anger growing inside of me. It is controlling me now. I canít get it out of my head, but thereís no way unless... unless...

Unless I finally vent.

Callisto appears before me. She is not real. She is an illusion. But that doesnít really matter, does it? I listen to her words, and strangely enough... they make sense. Something is finally making sense. I finally have found the foothold Iíve been looking for.

Xena. Xena was the one who brought me to Britannia. She let her anger and her hatred control her. So many times she preached to me about the importance of controlling the anger, yet she did not do so here. She had to go after Caesar. What was the point of that war, anyway? Why was Bodiecia fighting the Romans? Why were we there? The answer is obvious.

Caesar. Xena wanted to destroy Caesar.

She freed Kraftstar. We knew nothing about him, only that he was a prisoner of Caesar. But that was enough for Xena. She freed him, and he filled my head with visions of a god of love and wonder and kindness. But Kraftstar was a monster. He was the Deliverer, a demon in the service of Dahak, the one dark god to whom even Ares pales in comparison. Kraftstar pushed all the right buttons, he said everything I wanted to hear, and then he brought me to the temple of Dahak. A temple that Xena gave back to him.

I was tricked into killing Meridian. I can still remember the shock, the horror I felt looking at my hands coated with her blood. It was the worst nightmare of my life, up to that point. But then I was caught in the clutches of Dahak himself. And Xena did not save me until the damage was already done.

Then I had a baby. I had Hope. Xena wanted to kill her, but I, following my ideals, refused to believe she had no good in her. I lied to Xena and sent her floating down the river in a basket. I believed it was the right thing to do. But I was wrong.

I worshipped Xena. I trusted her. I never looked for evil in her, like so many others did. I only looked for good. Just like with Hope. I would have followed Xena to the ends of the Earth, believing in her and everything she did.

I was a fool.

Xena started this. She let her anger and hate control her, and that is what started this horrible cycle in motion. She is the one who led me straight to Dahak. Because of her Iíve committed murder, Iíve been violated, Iíve been forced to commit murder yet again, taking the life of my own daughter. And worst of all, most unbearable of all, Iíve taken the blame. She has put all of the blame on me and none on herself. If we hadnít went to Britannia, I never would have had a daughter, and her son would still be alive. Yes, that is the truth.

My eyes have been opened. I am blind no longer. I will except no more blame.

Xena is the one. She is the one who has betrayed me. She is the one who has brought about my downfall. She is the one who has destroyed me. My life, my hope, my dreams, they have all been turned to ashes because of Xena. Her noble mask has been removed, and I now see her exposed for the hypocrite, for the sham she truly is. I now see the evil in her that I never allowed myself to see before.

Almost everyone Xena touches is inevitably destroyed. The list is infinite. Marcus, Callisto, Perdicus, Lao Mae, Paliapus, Solon... and now me. I am only guilty of following my ideals. I am only guilty of doing what was right. And still she blames me!

I wish I had never met her. I wish Hercules had killed her. The Warrior Princess is the slayer of my soul, the architect of my destruction, and for that I will never forgive her! That is why I now hate her like I hate no other. That is why I wish she were dead!

My shrilling scream bursts throughout the hut.

For hate is my only comfort.

 

 

* * *

Cold.

I can feel the cold.

But it does not bother me. The snowy cold on the outside is nothing compared to the cold on the inside. It is nothing compared to the icy darkness I have entered.

My voice wails, echoing throughout the mountains. It is the only way to release the pain, the grief, the anger... It is the only way to keep my heart beating.

Solon. He is gone. My only son, he was all that I had. I loved him more than anything. I never was able to watch him grow up. I never heard his first words. I never was able to be his mother. And now he is gone. He is gone.

The tears still fall. I have wept a river of tears in my mourning over him, and I think I could weep another still. But no matter how hard I weep, no matter how hard I grieve, nothing changes. The pain does not go away. It only increases. It grows inside of me, escalating in epic proportions, driving me to point where I feel like diving off this cliff and ending it forever.

But thatís the cowardís way out, isnít it? And Iíve never been a coward.

How could Gabrielle do this to me? I trusted her, believed in her, had faith in her. I saw her as having nothing but goodness, kindness, and love. I looked at her as being someone so good that I myself could never hope to be.

How the mighty have fallen. My image of Gabrielle crashed before my very eyes, and I now see someone I never saw before. And I canít bear to look anymore. I feel so much pain, so much anger, so much... hate?

Is it hate that I feel?

Ares whispers in my ear. He has come, as I believed he would, trying to weave his wicked designs on me once again. But for once, his words make sense. I can sense something in them... logic. It all seems logical now.

For over two years Iíve tried to wash my sins away, Iíve tried to wipe the slate clean. And I canít. The only thing I accomplish is to pay a higher and higher price for my good deeds. Anyone who has meant anything to me has either been destroyed or taken from me as a result of my stupid quest. Marcus, Hercules, Ulysses... and now Solon.

I canít win. No matter how hard I try, I cannot win. For every victory achieved, I am defeated twice over. For every ten lives I save, I lose one who is truly important to me. No matter what I do, no matter how hard I try, I cannot win! I am fighting a battle I cannot win...

Maybe itís time to stop trying.

Ares urges me on. I can feel a warmth, a sweetness in his voice, that slowly begins to soothe my aching soul. And there is something else. I feel something entering my mind... a presence. It is Dahak. His evil spirit is influencing me, tempting me. I donít think I can resist. I donít think I want to anymore. Yes...

Gabrielle.

She is the one who betrayed me. I can deal with Callistoís quest for vengeance, with Dahakís desire for destruction. I can at least respect that. But betrayal I cannot accept. Betrayal I will not tolerate. I looked to this woman for everything I thought I wanted to be, everything that I never could be, and she has proven me a fool!

Once again the time has come to conquer, to destroy. I will take this world by storm, and all who stand in my way will fall. Callisto, Hercules, Isolaus... it makes no difference. I see no more good, no more evil. I see only the enemy. And my enemy is...

Gabrielle.

She is my enemy. She is the one who caused the destruction of everything I held dear. With Solon gone, my life is left in ruins. All my love is gone. And I will now take Aresí advice. I will embrace the hate. I will let it guide me. I will let it be my weapon. And with it I will be invincible.

I mount Argo. I begin to ride. Ares tells me that Gabrielle is with the Amazons. It makes sense. She will not escape me now. It will all begin with her.

Dahak rides with me now. I am helpless to resist. I must obey his command. And his command is...

Destroy Gabrielle.

I will seek out the bard. I will hunt her down like an animal. The Amazons wonít be able to stop me. When it is all over and done, I will stand over her dead form.

Only then will I smile again.

Only then will my suffering ease.

Only then will I have vengeance.

Only then...

 

Part 2

 

 

* * *

 

Miracles.

Iíve never believed in miracles.

They say miracles are for dreamers, for people who have their heads stuck in the clouds, who canít make things happen on their own. Itís been said that miracles just donít happen in real life. I used to think the same way. But now, everything has changed.

My name is Joxer the Mighty. And I have seen a miracle.

The campfire is warm. The night is dark, but finally there is a peace in the air. There is a sense of harmony. I look at the woman sitting beside me, her red hair, her beautiful face, her wonderful smile. I had feared for her life. When I recently looked into her eyes, I saw a stranger. A stranger tormented by agony, grief, and hatred. I think she could have easily died. But now when I look at her, I see someone else.

I see the woman I fell in love with.

Gabrielle smiles at me again as she tastes some more soup. Xena is not far off. Itís still hard to believe how everything has changed since this morning. My head is still sore from when Xena hit me. I remember the fear I felt when I heard Gabrielle scream, and then when I saw Xena attacking the Amazons. Xena knocked me out and dragged Gabrielle off to Zeus knows where.

I remember the shame and guilt I felt when I woke up. I had failed the woman I love. Xena looked like she was out to kill Gabrielle, and I could not stop her. No one knew where the two of them went. The waiting was the worst nightmare Iíve ever experienced.

I can still recall the moment. I saw two figures approaching the village from the distance. They looked familiar. I started to run towards them. They were instantly recognizable.

Xena and Gabrielle.

They were soaking wet. And they were smiling! I was so confused. Only a few hours earlier they were going to kill each other. Now they looked happier and closer than I think Iíd ever seen them. They both told me everything was okay, and then Xena apologized for hitting me. I asked what had happened. Xena smiled and said that Dahak had took control of her, but everything was fine now. They had worked things out. I still couldnít figure out how, but when I looked into their eyes I knew it was true.

Something special had truly happened.

I tried to find out what it was, but they playfully dodged every attempt. They said I probably wouldnít understand it... or believe it. Perhaps some things are better left unsaid. I guess I may never know what occurred between the two of them during those few hours, but somehow I feel like I was a part of it. As crazy as that sounds.

Itís a good thing Gabrielle is an Amazon queen or Xena would have been arrested on the spot. Gabrielle assured Ephiny and everyone else that everything was fine. Xena did have a lot of apologizing to do, though.

So here I am sitting by the campfire next to Gabrielle. Xena walks over and places her hand on Gabrielleís shoulder. Gabrielle smiles at her. Xena sits down and once again apologizes for the big lump on my head. I tell her itís okay.

Gabrielle smiles at me and thanks me for sticking by her doing those torturous days. She reaches out her hand. I take hold of it, squeezing it tightly. As I glance at the wonderful innocence restored in her eyes, I can truly feel the love that exists between us. And does it matter if her love is not as strong as mine?

It is love. And for now, it is enough.

Gabrielle looks at me. Perhaps she does not look close enough. For if she did look closer, then I believe she would see in my eyes the truth. And the truth is...

I will always love you, Gabrielle.

Always. Forever and ever.

My name is Joxer the Mighty. And I have seen a miracle.

The miracle of love.

 

 

 

* * *

 

 

Hope.

I have finally found hope.

True hope. Real hope. Hope that I can hold onto, that will stay with me forever, that I will never lose. Yes, I have found hope.

Xena.

How could I have hated you? How could we have done this to each other? We almost threw away our love, our friendship, and our lives. We almost lost it all. But we have found each other again. We have found love again.

Here I am by the campfire. Today was the most incredible adventure Iíve ever had. It was the most painful, the most horrible, and... the most wonderful. It was all that and more. A land where everyone sings rather than talks.

Xena killed me. Or at least an illusion of me. We were trapped in some dark room with nowhere to go. It wasnít long before the blame, anger, and hate began to pour out. Our hate took the form of separate entities which threatened to destroy us. Our hate almost destroyed us.

Almost.

Somehow we managed to break through the hate and find each other again. I forgave Xena for everything, including the death of Ming Tien. And I know that she forgives me as well. Xena was able to say good-bye to Solon one last time, and then we found ourselves on the beach holding each other. It was a picture perfect ending, the kind of ending you only read in stories. It was a happy ending.

I look at the man sitting near me. So many times Iíve hurt him. So many times Iíve put him down. And yet he has always stood by me. He has always been there for me. He has always believed in me, even when I was blamed by everyone else. He has always trusted me, even when my cockamamie plans made little sense.

Joxer.

My dear friend, I never thought Iíd think this, but Iím not sure what I would do without you. Thank you, Joxer. Thank you for your love.

I still feel guilt over everything thatís happened. But itís under control now. It canít destroy me, like it almost did before. Overall, I feel stronger. I feel as though Iíve grown up in a lot of ways. I donít feel like such a kid anymore. It is kind of nice.

I feel Xenaís hand on my shoulder. I smile at her. I know now that everything is going to be all right. From the ashes our friendship has been reborn, stronger now that it ever was before. I feel I could cry now, not tears of grief, but tears of joy.

Xena sits down beside me and again apologizes to Joxer for clobbering him. I reach out my hand and he takes it in his. I look at him and smile. Then I reach out my other hand to Xena, and she takes it in hers. As the three of us sit there and hold onto each other for awhile, I canít help but think of what we are sharing right now.

It is love.

It is true.

And it is beautiful.

 

 

 

* * *

 

 

Forgiveness.

I have finally found forgiveness.

For so long Iíve been running. Iíve tried to atone for my evil ways. But no matter how much good I did, no matter how many people I saved, it never seemed like enough.

Gabrielle is not far off. I almost killed her. My rage and anger and grief were so great, so unbearable. I hated Gabrielle for saving Hope and lying to me. And I hated myself for not being there for Solon, for allowing to live his life without a mother, and for not protecting him when he needed it most.

The pain was so horrible that I finally succumbed to the influence of Dahak. I could feel his evil power filling my mind, my very soul. Because of the state was in, I was easily entertained by his wicked enchantment. Because of Dahak, I once again turned towards the path of darkness. I once again became the monster I was before.

I can barely remember the ride to the Amazon village. Itís all so blurry. I attacked Gabrielle and dragged her away to a cliff. Picking her up over my head, I almost plunged her straight into the watery abyss below.

It was all part of Dahakís plan. If I had killed Gabrielle I would have crossed over the point of no return. I would have remained a monster forever. But somehow, thankfully, the fates intervened. Or perhaps I should say the muses...

The two of us both wound up falling into the water. When I awoke, my head felt clear. Dahakís influence was fading. But the pain, the anger, and the hate remained. There were so many muses running around, not making much sense. They looked like Ares, Callisto, Joxer, and others but they werenít.

And then I killed Gabrielle. It was an illusion, but I had still committed the act. There was no satisfaction. There was no ease of my pain. There was nothing... but guilt.

Then the real Gabrielle emerged and was angry with me. Soon I began to vent my own rage, and we were almost at each othersí throats again. The echoes of our angry voices started were incredibly painful, and the only way to stop the pain was to stop blaming one another.

Dahak appeared again. His fiery arms reached out and grabbed Gabrielle. I ran to save her, hoping I wouldnít be too late again. But I was soon caught as well, and we were both dragged back to a place which looked exactly like the one where this nightmare began. The Temple of Dahak.

Soon we found ourselves trapped. I was hung up on a cross again, just as Caesar had done to me before. Gabrielle was chained across the sacrificial altar. Then doubles of ourselves appeared. Gabrielle raised a hammer, aiming to smash my legs. The other Xena raised a knife to Gabrielle, plunging it down towards her.

Then it all made sense. It was our hatred. Our hatred was our enemy. The muses were created by our hatred. There was only one way to destroy them and to save ourselves..

We had to stop hating each other.

And we did.

Suddenly, the dark Xena and Gabrielle exploded, as did the other dark muses. My ropes came untied, Gabrielleís chains came unlocked, and we were finally free. Then Solon appeared to us. Gabrielle ran across the waterfall which separated us, but I could not do the same. For I had not confessed all of my sins.

Ming Tien.

I killed him. I allowed my hate and anger to take control of me, and I killed him. I never told Gabrielle. She had believed that I spared his life. Gabrielle was in shock to hear this. There was only one thing I could do. There was only one way to break this final barrier preventing us from going home.

I had to ask for forgiveness.

My words poured out. I asked for forgiveness from Gabrielle. I asked for forgiveness from Solon. And in their eyes I could see their answer. I could see that they forgave me with all their hearts. But then came the hardest part. It was the hardest thing to do, but I was finally able to do it.

I forgave myself.

Iíve finally forgiven myself. And I can tell Gabrielle forgives herself as well. Until we could truly forgive ourselves, we could never put the hurt behind us and move on.

My guilt still remains. I still need to atone. But for the first time I truly feel, I truly believe that I can one day find salvation, that I can one day cleanse my soul of the evil I have done.

We all make mistakes. Iíve made many and so has Gabrielle. And Iím sure weíll make plenty more before weíre done with our journey. But now I know we can live with them. We can accept them, take responsibility for them, and then put them behind us.

Forever.

I walk up behind Gabrielle and put my hand on her shoulder. She smiles at me. I sit down beside her in front of the campfire. Once again, I apologize to Joxer for the big bruise on his head. Gabrielle takes Joxerís hand and then I take hers. The love that we share at this moment is more magical than any spell or power I have ever seen in my life.

As I look at the woman before me, I know that our relationship is forevermore changed. Our roles are no longer unbalanced. We now stand redefined. Not rogue and innocent. Not teacher and student. Not warrior and bard.

But equals. Now and forevermore we are equals.

Amen.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Please send me comments. I love to hear them. Contact me at hart@blast.net. Also be sure to check out my other Xena stories at (www.xenafiction.com):

Do The Walls Come Down? - On a lonely night, Xena, Gabrielle, and Joxer each privately reflect on their times, turmoils, lives, and loves.

Something So Strong - Joxer is transported to an alternate universe where Xena is dead, Callisto rules the world, and Gabrielle is in love with him.

Joxer Takes The Plunge - A missing scene from "A Comedy Of Eros". While being held captive in Dracoís camp, Joxer makes a startling discovery... love for Gabrielle.

Been There, Done That, Too - A Buffy The Vampire Slayer crossover. What if tomorrow never came? Buffy wakes up each morning to find the day repeating itself, and only the Slayer has the power to set the clock right. Not to mention, she encounters a familiar warrior princess along the way...


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