Disclaimers: The characters of Xena: Warrior Princess and all other associated with the television series of the same name are owned by MCA/ Universal Pictures. This is a work of fan fiction and no copyright infringement is intended.
Subtext: I guess with my writing so far we'll just quit calling it subtext and call it maintext. Yes they are in love with each other.
Other: Part Sixtysix in the series "Raising Melosa". Takes place right after "Decisions, Decisions." This is from Xena and Gabrielles POV.
What Do You Fear
My arm hurt like Tartarus and my shoulder throbbed, I felt the numbing in my fingers. I knew it would only be a matter of time before the arm was completely useless. As we continued down the tunnel Mel and Autolycus followed behind me. The two healthy ones, following the wounded one. Im so proud. I sighed. "Umm Mel maybe you should take the lead here."
"Okay." Mel moved forward slowly taking point. She moved tentatively, carefully paying attention to every little thing. "So would any one like to bet on what were gonna find?"
"Artemis?" Autolycus offered.
I couldnt help it. I turned around and smacked him on the arm.
"Hey! No beating the thief."
"Yeah, well keep your stupid answers to yourself." I growled as we stared at each other. He just grinned at me and I felt my frustration melt away. "Im sorry Autolycus. Im afraid my arm is making me a little cranky."
"Gee and I just thought it was your personality that made you that way."
"You know, its a good thing ." I couldnt finish the sentence. Pain shot through my arm causing my to suck in a gulp of air and collapse against the wall. Autolycus caught me once again helping me sit down.
"Mel hold up." He called as he knelt down next to me. He began checking my bandages. "Xena you need to get this treated."
"No time now. Well deal with it when were done."
"Look I hate to argue with you on this one ."
"Then save us both the trouble and dont." I glanced up to see Mel returning to us. I lowered my voice, so only Autolycus could hear me. "I dont want her to worry. Ill be fine."
He took my dagger from my boot with a disgusted little breath then cut one of the sleeves from his shirt. Then he split it into two pieces. "Well lets at least bind it to your body. If we can keep it from moving around, that may help with the pain."
I nodded as he began binding my arm. "Your clothes are really taking a beating my friend."
"Yeah, well you dont know it yet, but youre buying me a new shirt when were done here." He tied my arm off with the strips, making sure it wouldnt move anymore than necessary. "Nice blue Egyptian silk I think." He grinned at me as he finished with my arm.
"It will be my pleasure."
Mel knelt down, offering me a water skin. "How you doing?"
"Eh, Ill live." I took the skin and took a nice long drink.
"Maybe you should go back outside and wait." Mel quirked her brow at me. "Your arm ."
"I am not going back outside. We are going to see this through together." I handed the water back to her and forced myself up. "Ive still got one good arm and I know how to use it." She nodded as she capped the skin. I looked to Autolycus who also nodded. "Well Im glad thats settled. Lets go."
We continued into the tunnel. Mel stopped to examine some writing on the wall. She cocked her head as she passed the torch over the inscription.
"What does it say Mel?" I asked as she ran her hand over it to brush away some dust.
"It lives deep inside. It destroys from within." Mel turned to us.
I heard Autolycus suck in a deep breath. "Oh thats not good."
"Well so far I havent been pleased with most of this trip." I stepped past him to look at the inscription.
"What do you think it means?" Mel brushed a little more dust away.
"I dont know. Im thinking that its not talking about whatever is in the tunnel."
"So its not deep inside the caves? Where then?"
I put my finger to her head. "Here," I moved to her heart. "And here."
"Ah I got you. Theyre going to play with our minds."
"So it would seem. Okay now we have to be prepared. The things we see and feel may not be real."
"Great," Autolycus grumbled. "Just great. There I was," He mumbled as he ripped the other sleeve from his shirt. "Just about to go up to my room and spend the evening with myself blissfully wrapped around some nice young lady and now Im in a tunnel ." He trailed off as he just shook his head.
"Id much rather be home taking care of my little girl and wrapped blissfully around my wife too, but ."
"Yeah, I got you my friend. In for a dinar, in for a for gold piece." He smiled at me. "So what kind of mind games do you think we can expect?"
"Oh who knows. These are Gods were dealing with and Hera has never been known for her sense of humor." I draw a deep breath. "Ready?"
"As ready as we can be." The both agree.
As we approach a larger part of the cavern I saw some carvings I recognized. I grabbed Mel by the arm as the realization started to set in. "Mel whats your worst fear?"
Whats your worst fear?"
"I never really thought about it ."
"Autolycus? Your biggest fear, what is it?"
"Umm well ."
"Come on now is not the time to be shy what is it?"
I managed to hold back the laugh as I turned to him. "Mice?"
"Yeah its a long and painful story, but lets just say that after youve had mice in your pants you develop a whole new respect for them."
"I can only imagine." I turned back to Mel. "Mel honey think hard this is going to be very important. Whats your worst fear?"
She looked to me as she licked her lips. "Losing you."
"Okay," I moved to the inscription on the entrance of the bigger cavern. "We are about to face our biggest fears. Can you do it? Mel can you continue without me?"
"No." She grabbed my good arm. "No I cant do this without you."
"Mel if your biggest fear is losing me, it could happen. Youll have to go on without me. Mel promise me, no matter what happens Kessas life and the lives of a lot of amazons depend on it."
"I cant ."
"Not too long ago you were willing to kill me to protect your Mom. Its the same thing. Its up to you and Autolycus."
She nodded. I looked to my friend, he agreed. "Mel get my sword." She pulled my sword from the sheath. I gripped it in my left hand adjusting the balance as we entered the cavern.
I paced around the main room of the house. The messenger stood waiting. "I cant leave right now."
"But Your majesty we need you."
"My little girl is sick ."
"Yes Your Majesty I know and Im sorry, but a lot of amazons have this fever. Eight of the twelve queens have also died because of it. The nation is crumbling. We need your leadership."
A knock on the door disturbed my thoughts as I crossed the room. I opened to door to find Ephiny and Delia. "Gabrielle we came as soon "
I nodded and ushered them in. "Eph we have a big problem."
"Whats going on?"
"Mira," I gestured to the messenger. "Is here from the tribes from the north. The fever has claimed all of the queens from those tribes. They want me to come and try to help them regroup."
"What about the regents of those tribes?" Ephiny directed the question at Mira.
"Regent Ephiny, with all due respect, not all the queens of our nation have the leadership qualities and foresight that your Queen has. Not all of the tribes had regents. Not all of those Queens were willing to share their rule or their power. That is why the tribes have voted to seek out the guidance of Queen Gabrielle. We believe she is the only one who can lead the survivors of the plague from the darkness."
"Its not a plague Mira, its a fever." I said as I took a seat at my desk and began writing a letter.
"Ive lost many friends Your Majesty. To me its a plague."
I nodded as I continued to write. "Ephiny take Kessa over to the village so Delia can care for her. Kai, Bailus and Rosa are still with Solan and Alana. The fever hasnt seemed to disturb the Centaurs or Solans place so we dont need to worry about them."
"Of course Gabrielle. What are you doing?"
"Im going with her." I finished the letter, blowing on it gently to dry the ink before folding it and sealing it with my wax seal. I kissed it before standing and crossing to Eph. "Give this to Xena when she comes home." I pressed the parchment into her hands. "Tell her I love her and Ill be home as soon as I can."
Ephiny nodded as I turned to my room to pack. I packed and changed into my traveling clothes, as I sat down on the bed to pull on my boots I looked over to the table on Xes side of the bed. On a display stand was a medallion I gave her many seasons ago. It was a gold medal with chakram with a scroll etched in the center. She never wore it, telling me that she was afraid shed lose it. I know the truth, she never wore it because Xe didnt wear a lot of jewelry. Our bonding bracelet was almost too much for her, I smiled as I took the medallion from the display and slipped it over my head, tucking it in my tunic. I need her close to my heart for this trip.
I grabbed my saddlebags from the bed and returned to the main room. Ephiny was sending Delia back to the village with Kessa. I stopped them at the door as the healer held my little girl in her arms I said good-bye to her. She still burned with fever and I doubted that she heard my words, but I kissed her forehead and said them anyhow. "Love you Princess. Hold on."
"Shell be fine Your Majesty." Delia gave me a warm smile as she wrapped Kessa in a blanket. "She has a good strong bloodline."
"That she does. Thank you Delia."
"Ill make sure to tend to her personally Your Majesty. Please be careful. Your people need you too."
"If we are lucky," Mira started. "She will be my Queen soon too." She smiled at me.
"Well let me go saddle a horse ."
"Gabrielle," Ephiny moved to me gripping my arms. "Take my horse, its saddled and ready to go. Please be careful. Hurry home my friend."
"Thanks Eph. Take care of things and please make sure Xe gets the note."
"I will, on both counts."
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