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Xena, Gabrielle, Najara and other characters from the tv show Xena: Warrior Princess remain the exlusive property of MCA/Universal and Rennaisance Pictures and are used within for non-profit, entertainmental purposes.
This story takes place some indeterminate time after Crusader and Convert and may contain spoilers for any of the previous episodes.
Appropriate additional warnings will be added to each new chapter as they are written. If you are not a fan of alternative fanfiction, or of two women who fall in love with each other, abstain from reading this and I'll abstain from telling you in graphic detail just what you're missing out on.
Passing on the Pain encompasses the Hurt & Comfort, First Time and Mystery genres. Feel free to email me comments, constructive criticism, chocolates and the ilk. I also accept amazed ravings about how you didn't know I wrote anything other than comedy. *EG* As always flamers will tell me to burn in Tartarus...with Xena...
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Passing on the Pain
"We want you to kill Gabrielle!"
Najara bolted upright on the narrow pallet. "Is that you, dear djinn?" she asked, her voice raspy with pleading. The vigillant sister by her bedside offered her water which she turned her cheek to. "Have you returned to me, my masters?" Najara begged, her hands clenching at her covers spasmodically.
"We want you to kill Gabrielle!" The voices were insistant.
"Anything you say," the Crusader swore, spreading her hands wide in a worshipful gesture, wanting to soak up the holy essence she felt emanating from her invisible benefactors.
The sister only shook her head disapprovingly at this odd display. Najara was among their most unruly patients, waking often from the unnatural sleep which claimed her to spout delerious ramblings to her deities. The sister knew from experience that although her patient seemed to be awake, she was still pacing the pathways of her own personal dreamscape.
"Poor child," mused the sister, shaking her graying head slowly back and forth, "her mind is gone all away."
* * *
Gabrielle stared aghast over the tavern table at Xena, who was blowing bubbles in her ale. "Xena!" she whispered harshly, mortified and a little shocked at such uncharacteristic behaviour.
"Yes?" replied the warrior calmly. She licked the froth from her lips, distracting the bard's line of thought. "Yes?" Xena prompted when no explanation was forthcoming. Gabrielle simply sat there, her dreamy gaze riveted on Xena's moist lips.
The warrior shrugged and blew more bubbles. Gabrielle sighed heavily and scratched her upper thigh, near the apex of her legs. Xena's lips parted to accomodate her mug and Gabrielle's hand shifted accordingly to part her own nether lips, through the thin material of her breaches.
"Now that's what I call a sword!" enthused Xena, bright blue eyes avidly following the progress of a handsome young soldier as he strode to the bar. Snapping out of her reverie, the bard began to choke. Anxious blue eyes were diverted to her as the Warrior Princess carefully thumped her friend on the back. "Better?" asked Xena.
"Yeah," wheezed the bard. She felt her face growing warm. "I choked on my drink," she offered by way of explanation.
"Gabrielle," husked Xena, deep voice rich with amusement. The bard shivered in delight. "You're drink hasn't come yet."
"Oh," murmured the bard before finally catching on. "Oh!" Xena struggled to contain her mirth at Gabrielle's renewed furious blushing. Eager to change the subject, the bard turned to check out the object of Xena's lustful thoughts.
The young man did seem a mite young for a woman of Xena's years. He was also kind of short. Gabrielle estimated that the top of his reddish-gold head would probably barely reach the warrior's sculpted chin. Suddenly he looked their way and the bard caught her breath as his brilliant green eyes caught the candlelight. He smiled at her and she was struck by the extraordinary kindness scribed in his features. Handing his spear over to the proprietor, he made his way to their table.
"He reminds me of someone," mused the Warrior Princess, chin in hand.
"Me too," agreed Gabrielle. "I can't think who though."
* * *
Chapter 2 (Djaki & Djahera are all mine!)
Something soft and wet was tickling Najara's face. Prying open her eyelids, she found herself nose to nose with a foul smelling rodent.
"My Mistress!" she gasped out, eyes brimming with ecstatic tears. "Is it time?"
"The sister is being seduced by Djaki," the rat informed her with an imperial twitch of its whiskers. "There is no mortal yet born who can withstand the raw sensuality he exudes with every hungry breath."
"I knew you would not abandon me," husked Najara, kneeling beside the pallet, head bowed, awaiting instructions.
"Long have you been our faithful servant," noted the rat. "In over a century, the twin djinn, Djaki and Djahera, have not found one so...malleable as you." With a beatific smile, the Crusader spread her hands wide.
"I live to serve, Bright Spirit."
"We shall see." The rat's yellow orbs flickered with unnatural intelligence. "Do you understand why Gabrielle must die, my child?"
"Yes," whispered Najara, chin suddenly falling onto chest. When she spoke next, her voice was wistful. "I had thought she might be for me. We could be joined and serve you as one, a powerful force for the darkness to reckon with."
"That is not to be," decided the rat. "Djahera too liked the Little Light but the Warrior Woman has defiled that which was once pure."
"Oh my mistress," murmured the Crusader. "Will you not reconsider? Xena hurts Gabrielle. It is only a matter of time before the bard leaves her!"
"Djahera has spoken," grated the rat, a merciless light reflecting off the yellowed ivory of its long sharp teeth. "Gabrielle has made her choice. For that Gabrielle must die."
"Yes," whispered Najara. "It's for her own good."
"Djahera sees that you have learned a little in the time we have been apart," purred the rat approvingly. "The longer we wait, the less the light shines on the little one's face and her chances of redemption are fading fast."
Najara smiled at her benefactress. Lit by the sun's last lingering ray, the blond had the aura of a saint. "Gabrielle will be a martyr for the light!" she proclaimed joyfully.
"The Djinn shall see to it," promised the rat, closing its eyes in order to concentrate. Najara watched in rapt reverence as a scarlet cloud boiled and glimmered its way into existance, surrounding the rodent. When it dissipated, a lovely young woman stood in the rat's stead, the yellowish light fast fading from her beryl-green eyes.
* * *
"Hello there. I'm Talon." The soldier's smile lit his whole face. Gabrielle smiled back impulsively. Xena drank in the hard musculature of his body. "May I join you, ladies?"
"Pull up a chair," invited Xena, at the same time the bard burst in with,
"Maybe another time." The companions stared at each other, Xena inquiringly, Gabrielle with yet another blush suffusing her cheeks with colour.
"I'll just sit here while you make up your minds," laughed the soldier, settling himself rather close to the embarassed bard.
'What's up with her?' wondered Xena, smiling hungrily at the young man she was sure was soon to be her latest aquisition. 'I know what's up with him.' She smirked and turned back to the bard. There would be time enough for Talon in the relative privacy of Argo's stall. In the meanwhile, she would enjoy watching her bard's reactions. Gabrielle always looked so cute when she blushed.
"What'll it be?" chirped the barmaid, bustling up to their table in a rushing of pleated skirts. Xena blew more bubbles in her ale, anticipating the rise that would get out of her bard, who always demanded best behaviour in public places. To her chagrin, Gabrielle's mind was elsewhere, gladed green eyes fixed firmly on the plush bossom straining against the ties of the barmaid's bodice. Xena's mouth dropped.
"I want a double of..." Talon never got to finish his sentence. Before he knew quite what had happened, the warrior princess had grabbed him by the collar and hefted him out of the nearest window. Fierce azure eyes directed any undue attention away from their table.
"We have to talk," growled Xena, placing a firm hand on Gabrielle's shoulder and maneuvering the startled bard up the steps and into their hired room.
* * *
Chapter 3 (Specific Spoilers for The Debt I & II and The Deliverer)
Faster and faster the Crusader rode through the fields, spurring her horse towards the sleepy village where the djinn claimed Gabrielle was staying. "I'm coming, Gabrielle," she shouted, smiling widely through the tears coursing down her wind-burned cheeks. "I'm coming to kill you! Wait for me!" Her mind whirled wildy.
* * *
Faster and faster a little girl whirled, pink and yellow flowers blurring before her watering eyes as she spun around and around and around.
Only ten years old, this little girl was trying to escape, to concentrate on something other than the aching void which filled her every time she wondered why her parents had to go away. Why did they let themselves be killed by the Warlord Woman? Why did they just stand there and watch while she impaled them on her bloodied blade? Why did they leave their precious Najara all alone?
"We think she's everything we wanted," breathed Djahera into Djaki's mind, from her vantage point on a budding flower near Najara's whirling feet. She was a butterfly, with beryl-green wings which fluttered in agitation against his emerald ones.
"Do you now?" he wondered, longing for his twin to leave this newest quest behind before it had even begun. "But why, Djahera? Why these ceaseless games with foolish mortals? The nymphs are already frolicking towards the new world! When will you leave these changing times behind and follow me there?"
"Our brother is fixated on the enchanting nymphs," noted the beryl-green butterfly sardonically. "He doesn't understand our preoccupation. We are discontent. We wish to be mortal."
"Why!" cried Djaki, completely at a loss for perhaps the first time in millenia.
"We wish to know love," sighed Djahera, launching herself up into the clear spring sky. The breeze created by Najara's frenzied whirling buffered against her fragile wings but she concentrated, creating a shimmering scarlet cloud about her being, which thickened into a seething pillar. The terrified little girl stopped spinning to gasp at the wonderous creature stepping out of the airy column and into her life.
"Najara," smiled the lovely young woman, brushing away the thinning cloud to take a terrified Najara into her embrace. "Do not shiver and shake, my child. We are here to care for you. We will show you the light."
* * *
"I saw the way you looked at her," accused the Warrior Princess, pointing a shaking finger at a confused bard. They were in their bedroom, Xena having dragged Gabrielle all the way up the stairs and shoved her towards their bed, before slamming the door and getting down to her interrogation.
Now the bard was esconed on a pillow, squinting up at the warrior and scratching her ear.
"How many drinks did you blow bubbles in, Xena?"
"What does that have to do with anything!" screamed the warrior, completely loosing control.
"Just thought you might be drunk," sniffed the bard, trying to unobtrusively catch a whiff of her warrior's breath. "It's the only explanation for why you're acting like a harpie on henbane."
"Answer my question," seethed the said harpie. Gabrielle studied her nails.
"So I looked down the barmaid's cleavage. So what?"
Xena started hyperventilating. Gabrielle reached up and delivered a stinging slap across her cheek. Xena stopped hyperventilating.
"Why'd you do that?" demanded the warrior in an injured tone, feeling her heart race even faster as the blood rushed straight from her cheek to her loins.
"Why'd you like it?" grinned the bard, loving the way Xena's eyes bulged at her. Opening her mouth to deliver a smarmy retort, Xena clamped her mouth shut, then opened it again, then shut it with a click of teeth. Studying the smug bard across from her, she deliberated on her plan of attack. Remembering their horrible rift, she decided that honesty had to be the best policy.
"Gabrielle," she began, struggling to find the right words. The bard nodded encouragingly, insides growing pleasantly warm at the thought of what might be coming, at long last.
"Gabrielle, we've been together for over four years now," started the Warrior Princess. "Uh, we've been through a lot. Tons. Um, I started out not even liking you..."
"What?!" screeched an outraged bard. Xena poured the pace on.
"...then of course I realised I couldn't get rid of you..."
"What?!" screeched the bard, beginning to look very hurt. Xena started sweating. How she hated these attempts at sharing her feelings.
"...then I started to enjoy having you around. I mean, I'm a really bad cook..."
Gabrielle stared at Xena as though she'd grown another head, one that was yapping insults at her. This was not the way she had imagined it at all.
"...besides which I really love you..."
The bard's face melted into a sappy smile. Ah, this was how she had imagined it.
"...but by Hades' Helmet! I never figured you to be a Sapphic Lover!"
All the blood drained from Gabrielle's face.
"After all the boys you've gone through, Gabrielle, how was I to know you were one of them?!"
Gabrielle put trembling hands to her cheeks. Her hands were like ice.
"I suspected a couple of times but I always told myself you related to people by touching them. When you hugged me, when you kissed me, when you curled up next to me at night, it was entirely innocent."
Gabrielle wondered why she couldn't hear her heart beating.
"I should've known you were trying to trick me! Trying to make me have...thoughts about you! Gabrielle, I thought you were my friend!"
"I am your friend," whispered the bard. Nobody heard her.
"Lao Ma did this to me too! She pretended to be my friend, to help me. She even healed my legs! What a fool I was. She didn't love me, she only wanted to get me into her bed." Xena's voice was bitter, her shoulders hunched almost defensively. "She didn't really love me," she repeated in a whisper. Their last words had been hurled at each others' hearts like her mentor's mutilated vases. Then Lao Ma had died and that had somehow been Xena's fault too. Everything always was.
"Just tell me one thing, Gabrielle," begged the warrior, looking away from the blank shock she saw brimming in her bard's gladed green eyes. "Tell me you haven't been trying to make me love you, that way. Tell me you care about me as a friend. Tell me you'll try to change! I'll help you! We'll find you a nice young man to settle down with..."
"I care about you as a friend, Xena," admitted the bard, her voice small and distant. Xena breathed a giant sigh of relief. She even swept Gabrielle up into her arms, pressing her tightly against her own body, trembling with the aftershock of discovery.
"I'll help you with this, Gabrielle," she swore fervantly. "I won't leave you. We'll go to Athens, they have a temple there that I've heard about." Xena had visited it after Bodaceia. That memory still clung to her like a corpse's clammy hand. The Brittish warrior had the gaul to accuse Xena of betraying her! What about her betrayal? What about what had happened on Bodaceia's bearskin, her breath reeking of honeyed mead, making Xena's head swirl, making her fingers trace the coined edges of that magnificent breastplate...
"You should have told me," scolded Xena, rubbing her hands up and down the rough material of Gabrielle's garish orange semi-sari. "You can change, my bard. You helped me change from a bloodthirsty monster to a..."
"Hero," whispered the bard. "You're a hero now, Xena. Let's go to bed. I'm so tired."
"Alright," agreed the warrior, staring at the waxy whiteness of the bard's face with some trepidation. She reached out to brush her palm down that soft cheek, then forcibly stopped herself. "You go first. I, ah, I have to...to, do some things downstairs."
She watched silently as Gabrielle got into bed and turned to face the wall. She hadn't undressed and for that Xena felt a secret pang of disappointment.
Gabrielle closed her eyes tight and bit down on her lip hard. She heard Xena close the door and her slow heavy footsteps down the stairs. She thought of the hope she had carried inside of herself for so long and heard somebody scream inside her head. Tears wouldn't come. She couldn't leave.
"I do need help," she choked into the pillow. "I need Xena."
TBC in Chapter 4
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