Xena, Gabrielle, Argo and all other characters who have appeared in the series Xena: Warrior Princess, are the sole copyright property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement was intended in the writing of this fan fiction. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are my property. Please do not use my characters without my consent. NOTE: All works remain the © copyright of the original author.


This story depicts scenes of violence and/or their aftermath. Readers who are disturbed by or sensitive to this type of depiction may wish to read something other than this story.


This story depicts a love/sexual relationship between two consenting adult women. If you are under 18 years of age or if this type of story is illegal in the state or country in which you live, please do not read it. If depictions of this nature disturb you, you may wish to read something other than this story.

Synopsis: Gabrielle has no choice but to stay and be Queen after yet another Amazon battle, but not everyone wants her there.

Returning Queen

Part 1


Chapter 1

The funeral pyres light up the night with the shadows of the dead's spirits dancing in the flickering flames. Xena's  hand is on my shoulder, giving a little squeeze to show her empathy. Every visit here seems to be a bad one, someone is always dying and a fight for the survival of the Amazons is required. Once again I stand here as a Queen, stoic and strong for my Amazon sisters. I will stay here,  standing in this spot, until the fires burn down to embers.

Slowly, one by one, the weary Amazons disperse back to their huts. I wonder if I do any good when we come here. They don't  need me coming in and out of their lives, and this whiplash effect may be detrimental.  Xena won't stay here, not even for me, we've established that. She's threatened to leave me once before. 

"You can go to sleep Xena." I put my hand over hers.

"You know I won"t." Her voice is gentle.

"I know." Her body moves closer to mine, nearly touching me but not quite. "Xena, I feel torn." I turn, facing her.

"Torn?" Confusion ripples across her face.

"I know I can never stop being the Queen, but I can't  just keep coming and going. They need somebody to lead them." Her face turns stoic. I know what's  going on in her head. "I know, you can never live here, but I still have a responsibility." I can't  look at her, I remember how she looked the last time I said this. Now it's not about settling down, but about keeping the Amazon Nation alive. I don't  think that will make a difference with her. Xena's finger hooks under my chin forcing me to look at her. Her eyes are watery, but she doesn't look angry or disappointed.

"Gabrielle." She sighs. "If this is something you need to do, then I'll stand by you." I don't really believe her.

"But you.."

"I know, I know." She cuts me off, shaking her head. "I was being selfish, I wasn"t even thinking of you."

"No, I know you can't live like this." I look around us. "I understand if you…." I don't  even want to finish my thought. Her hand comes up, cupping my cheek. I watch as a tear slowly descends from her eye.

"You have done so much for me. This time I can do something for you."

"Xena, I can't let you do that. After last time." I shake my head.

"No, I mean it." Xena wraps her arms around me, pulling me against her body.

"I'm not saying I want to be here forever, but I need to be here now."

"We'll stay as long as you need." I'm afraid she won't be able to last longer than a month, maybe not even that. At some point I am going to lose her to the pull of the road and adventure. I promise myself I won't hate her for it either.

I stand, encircled in her arms half the night till the fires burn down to almost nothing. Slowly we make our way to the Queen's hut in the thick darkness. The exhaustion of the past few days is weighing heavily on me, causing my legs to move as if in quicksand. Xena dismisses the Amazon watching Eve as we enter the hut. I can hear her soft breathing as I stop at her crib; she looks so peaceful, so innocent.

"I think they'll understand if you sleep in." Xena's  pressed against my back, looking over my shoulder at her daughter. The sun is only a few hours from rising, signaling a new day. I can neither argue nor agree with her at this moment, as I don't  know what I want to do yet. Turning to face her, I wrap my arms around her neck. Xena's hands move to my hips, resting there gently.

"Thank you." She shakes her head at me. "No Xena I mean it, I know you don't  want to stay here." Her head cocks slightly to the side as she gives me a small smile.

"I want to be wherever you are." 

"Isn't that my line?" I grin at her.

"Maybe it's time I used it. Come on, you need to sleep." Xena pulls me toward a pile of pillows and furs. I had refused to sleep alone since we got here, and there are only two small beds. I know that every Amazon knows about our relationship, so I can't  help but wonder why they refuse to give me a bigger bed. I am the Queen after all.

The Amazons aren't necessarily into women only relationships. While it's true they seek comfort and warmth in each other's arms, most only see that as a way to keep the moral up and to bond. Very few Amazons actually chose a female as their one sole lover. Most in fact preferred to seek out a man to sate any lustful urges they may have.

I stop Xena before she begins to lie down. She looks at me curious. We're both in our deer skin outfits, and that's just not what I want to feel against me right now. I help her out of her clothes, then she helps me out of mine. We get under the furs, her warm skin pressed against mine as her arms wrap around me. I rest my head on her chest, not sure if I can really sleep. As Xena's  fingers stroke through my hair, my eyes begin to become heavy. Just being here in her arms I feel so safe and loved that I manage to let go of my worries for a moment, making sleep within easy reach.


I wake to the sun streaming in through the opened vent slats in the roof. It seems to be afternoon, and I'm surprised I slept this long. But Xena is still here, arms wrapped around me as she sleeps. I can't  believe Eve hasn't woken up yet. A sudden fear hits me and I jump up to check on her. Her little bed is empty and there is no sign of her anywhere.

"Don't  worry, there's a gaggle of Amazons fighting to play with her." I turn at Xena's  calm voice. My heart rate begins to slow back down.

"You've been up already?" I get back under the furs, cuddling up against her.

"Yeah, Eve was crying."

"I didn’t even hear." I can't  believe I slept so deeply.

"You have a lot to deal with." Her voice is 

low and soft. "And you could sleep through a stampede of centaurs."

"You weren't walking around out there without any clothes on were you?" Not that any Amazon would be bothered by the site of a naked Xena. She chuckles though.

"No, don't  worry I didn’t scar any of your people."

"Hmm I don't  think scarred is the right word." I shift my head till my lips meet her neck. There's this smell about her that I can never place, but it always seems to draw me in.

"Don't  start anything you can't finish." Her hand is running up and down my back in slow flowing movements.

"Have I ever?"

"Yes." Xena's voice is low and sinuous. She shifts to face me, her hand stroking my cheek as if in amazement. When Xena looks at me like this, I know that no one could ever love me as much as she does.

"You know Xena, there are days where I feel like I'm just your sidekick, then there are days like this where I feel like I'm the only person you see."

"You are the only person I see." Her lips meet mine briefly. My hand strokes her hair, the strands flowing through my fingers.

"What am I going to do?" I whisper. 

"That's only something you can figure out." I give her an annoyed look. I hate when she says that.

"Am I the best person for the job?"

"You may be the only one." Xena kisses my forehead. "Come on, your Amazons can only wait so long." I sigh as she pulls me up. I'm pretty sure we could have stayed a bit longer.

Chapter 2

Xena walks a step or two behind me; this is the only place where she ever does that. It's her way of showing respect and reverence to my position in this society. I've told her it's not necessary but she insists. There seems to be a mixture of emotions in the Amazons as I make my way through them, unsure of what my announcement is going to be. Some are hopeful that I will be staying for good, others are indignant and insist I'm not needed.

I reach the dais and step upon it with only Xena at my side. I hold my arms up for silence and wait for the crowd of warriors to settle.

"Fellow Amazon sisters. I have come here yet again in a time of strife and I feel I can't  just pass on the responsibility and walk away this time. It's my duty and responsibility to see that the Amazon Nation lives on, and I need to be here in order to make that happen. There will be a meeting with the council and a reallocation of duties and responsibilities. Tonight we will celebrate and rejoice in the lives of our fallen sisters, and tomorrow we will rebuild our nation. To a strong Amazon Nation!"

"To a strong Amazon Nation!" The words echo in the air as the women disperse, some with pride and belief restored, others still in doubt of this queen that never stays. Xena clasps her hand on my shoulder.

"I think you got most of them." She whispers close to my ear.

"But not all." I watch a small group of women talking, all making an occasional glare my direction. I do not know all of these Amazons and that is my fault. I can't  blame them for not trusting me fully, but I am the Queen and they have to trust in that. "Xena, we need to talk." We turn back towards the Queen's hut as an Amazon hands Eve back off to Xena.

I pace back and forth across the hut a few times as Xena feeds the baby. "Xena, now I know you are going to be bored so I did some research." I can hear her sigh. "So there are a couple of things that can happen and I'm not sure how you'll like either of them." I stop pacing and finally look up, a little worried to tell her. Xena's  eyes narrow at me.


"Wellll. One; you can become an Amazon."

"No." She cuts me off firmly.

"Two; umm you sort of like….. Well I as the Queen am the only one who can marry, though its rare cus it's like slavery and whatever and it's usually to a man but the law isn't actually specific and it doesn't have to be to an amazon but that does make them a citizen though not an amazon, I don't  know it's kinda of complicated. But then you can have jobs but you don't  really have any say in the politics and things we do. The last Queen to marry was something like 200 years ago, so it's not like this would be completely crazy, but maybe not make my detractors the happiest." I think I stopped breathing somewhere in there. Xena is looking at me with one eyebrow raised, and I think Eve is too. "So those are some options." I feel like maybe I should run, I suddenly feel self-conscious. Xena takes a deep breath.

"So. Either I become an Amazon or we get married?"

"Well nooo. Like I said, they are options." I can't  seem to look her in the eye.

"And what kind of job would I do?"

"Well you could hunt, help train, patrol, fight, do everything pretty much."

"Would I have to wear the clothes?"

"Not necessarily." Xena nods. "You're not actually considering it?" She shrugs her shoulders, bouncing Eve on her knee.

"Maybe." I narrow my eyes at her; she's toying with me.



"Ugh." I throw my arms up as I stomp out of the hut. I can hear her laughing as I leave, which of course only infuriates me more. Anyway, I need to stop thinking about Xena and think about my tribe. I have to see where we stand now, who are the leaders and the elders, and read up on some basic laws. There are some traditions here that I'm not too fond of and I do hope I can find a loophole. Of course this is me being very optimistic.


The hours tick away as I read each scroll, sometimes twice to make sure I've read it correctly. My neck is sore and my stomach is grumbling, but I'm determined to get through the bulk of these documents. Xena walks in, Eve strapped to her back, a tray of cheese, meat and honey in her hand.

"Figured you could use a break." She smiles brightly at me. My stomach growls in response.

"Xena, some of these traditions are archaic."

"Then change them." Xena sits the tray down then takes the pack off her back. Eve is sleeping soundly.

"You know it's not as easy as that." I try to keep my voice quiet. Xena takes a small wedge of cheese, swipes it through the honey then offers it up to my lips. I take it gently into my mouth, sucking her fingers a little longer than necessary. I try to concentrate back on what I was doing.

"Before winter starts, the best warriors of the tribe go out and get themselves pregnant to make sure the tribe lives on. The Queen is supposed to do this too if she has no heir." Xena's  face suddenly changes into complete shock then anger. "Well as Queen, i'm meant to pass on my lineage." I think my voice is squeaking. she's clenching her jaw at me. Then she calms suddenly.

"So if we get joined or whatever it is, won't that make Eve your child?"

"Well I have given her my right of caste already, but I may still have to have a child by blood." Her teeth grind again but I hold my hands up in defense. "I'm still looking though so it's not definite." Xena begins to mumble under her breath.

"Now tell me why you should be the Queen again, because this is starting to sound worse and worse." We're walking through the center of the village, Xena fake waving to adoring fans that squeal as she walks by.

"Well, I admit I should have looked a little more into it, but that doesn't take away the fact that they need someone to lead them." I'm not even convincing myself with this argument. Xena is practically on top of me as we walk, whispering harshly in my ear.

"Gabrielle I don't  want Eve to go bathe in blood at age three, and get pregnant at age 14!"

"Not 14, 18." There's a tirade of curse words as she waves her arms about in exasperation.

"This is not funny." She glares at me, her lips pressing together in a firm line, before giving a fake wave and smile at a group of young warriors.

"Hey I'm the one that has to go out and kidnap some man just so I can have sex with him."

"I swear, if you…"

"Xena, calm down." I'm suppressing a giggle by covering my mouth with my hand. I grab one of the guards trailing us around, whispering in her ear. She nods her head and gives a near imperceptible bow.

"Come on, I have a surprise for you." She just continues to mumble, not really paying attention. I take her down a long trail, one that's a little overgrown as it isn't used often. After a few minutes the trail opens up to a little waterfall that pools next to a cave. This is one of the streams that feed the communal bathing area further down. Xena's  grumbling has stopped and I smile brightly up at her.

"I know how you hate everything 'together.' The Queen does have her own bathing area, it just isn't commonly used." A grin begins to spread across her face. "And the guard has to keep a wide perimeter." Xena loves a good bath, or swim, or anything where she can submerge in water. She's throwing her clothes off  before I can even blink. I swear I hear her giggle.

"Come on!" Xena yells before dunking her head under. It takes me just a little longer than Xena, but in seconds I dive into the clear pool of water, my fingertips touching the bottom before I shoot back up to the surface.

"Why isn't this used?" She asks, swimming within inches from me, her dark hair slicked back.

"Spirit of community, bonding, blah blah." My nose wrinkles up as I grin at her. I can feel her fingertips lightly touching my hips.

"Sooo we're the only ones who can use it?" A mischievous smile is playing on her lips.

"Technically, just me, but I don't  think anyone would mind you using the privilege." I lean in, giving her a playful kiss on the lips. "Turn around." She turns in the water, offering up her shoulders and back. Xena never fails to have knots that need to be worked out. My fingers move deftly. This is a task I've done so often before.

"I've been thinking about what you said." Xena says after a while. I wait for her to continue, but she turns to face me again. "Don't  take this the wrong way…"

"Xena, stop. I never expected you to give up your life." I shake my head, resting my hands on top of her shoulders. She wraps her arms around me, pulling me in close.

"If I'm not with you, I have no life." My eyes begin to tear at this sweet sentiment.

"So what are you going to do?" I don't  want to know really, I wish there wasn't this ultimatum hanging over our heads.

"I'll do whatever I need to do." She leans close, her forehead dropping against mine.

"I don't want to force you to do something you'll regret." She scoffs at me.

"How could I regret anything that keeps me with you?" I lift my head, looking her in the eyes.

"You wouldn't do it otherwise."

"Maybe not but the point is I am doing it, I want to." I'm finding it hard to be convinced of her sincerity. She can see the doubt in my eyes and pulls away, swimming backwards toward the waterfall. I could never really ask her to stop her life, to put it on hold for who knows how long. I feel she would wither away and come to resent me and all I stand for. I'd rather let her go than let that happen.

Making my way back to the shore, I pull my clothes on over my still dripping body. Sitting on a log, I watch as Xena stands under the waterfall. The water cascades over her body as her head flips back in an almost erotic fashion. She's angry with me; I can tell by the way her jaw is set and her eyes narrow. I haven't said anything she wouldn't if our roles were switched. In fact I'm sure she'd do her best to push me away to ensure that I left. But I'm also not her, and I find it hard to just let her go. It will be her decision, but I need her to know that this is not something she has to do. There is no obligation to me that needs fulfillment.

I leave her to wash and calm herself. I have things I need to attend to, people I need to assess. I have to get to know these Amazons like I have in the past. They have to believe I'm one of them, not some glorified outsider. I have a feeling I will be challenged more than once before the week is up.

Chapter 3

The Amazons dance about the fire as they have done for centuries. Writhing, twisting moves that I can never seem to grasp quite like they do.. These songs and traditions passed from mother to daughter; grandmother to granddaughter. Tonight we celebrate the lives that were lost and those that still live. Xena is not yet welcome to these gatherings so she is in the hut with Eve, sulking I'm sure. We haven't had a chance to talk since this morning and all I've been able to get from her is the occasional grunt and glare.

I listen to the stories of bravery and cunning. Drink and eat with the elders of the tribe; dance all the traditional dances and some I've only just learned. As I walk away from the revelry, my Amazon sisters are nowhere near finished with their tributes for the night. I however am tired and being a Queen has to have some privileges.

The only sound I hear is the melodic scraping of Xena's whetstone against her sword as I walk into the hut. There's no pause, no hitch in movement as I enter; just swipes as her back is to me. Standing in the doorway I watch the movement of her arm in its up and down motion, waiting for her to break the silence. I'm just as stubborn as she is, so I can stand here all night, though I know I won't have to.

"Are you going to listen to me this time?" She asks, a slight growl in her voice.

"I listened last time." I walk over to where Eve is sleeping. My fingers brush her cheek before I move on to my bed. Her arm stops it's movement for a moment before she continues again.

"I'm trying to compromise." Her voice is less gruff but the frustration is still there.

"Maybe you shouldn't, maybe I don't want to be a compromise. Maybe I don't want to be something you settle for. " Finally I decide to just tell her what I'm thinking. "You'll decide this isn't what you want, that I'm not what you want. The last time we were here, Antony…." I can't seem to stop the flood of words that are pouring out. "It's so easy for you to push me aside. And don't lie to me Xena. I can see through it. I can see between the words. You'll hate me for what you'll turn into."

"Why would I hate you?" Xena drops her sword on her bed but moves no further.

"For making you someone you're not." Her head falls as she sighs.


"Please, you don't owe me anything." Her head pops up and suddenly she comes rushing over, falling to her knees in front of me.

"I owe you everything." Her eyes glisten with unshed tears as she looks at me earnestly. I can only manage to shake my head. She grasps my face in her hands, forcing me to look at her. "I owe you my life and my soul. I wouldn't be here if not for you." She's said this countless times before, but lately,  I just don't know. "I could never hate you." 

I've become lost in the depth of her blue eyes and the way they shimmer. I can't  hear anything outside, only the words drifting off her lips, and for a moment, I can't  even hear that. I've fallen down in front of her, we kneel before each other as if in worship; each clasping the others face. Sweet words drip like honey every time she speaks. I fall into the abyss that is my love for her.

"You're killing me with your words." I whisper.


"I mean every one." Her jaw clenches and I watch the muscles fluctuate.

"Are you sure?" The last time I'll ask.

"Are we soul mates?" She leans in a little closer.


"Are you sure?"

"Yes." She just looks at me as if I've answered my own question. I have to give her the benefit of the doubt that she loves me as much as I love her. No matter the questions that still plague me.

"Do you trust me?"

"With my life." Always.

"What about your heart?"

"Yes, without hesitation." She's hurt me, but she will always have my heart, even after death has claimed me.

"Stop fighting me." She whispers, lips reaching mine just as she finishes her sentence. Usually I'm the one pleading, wanting her to give in. Now, for the first time, I have to let go and fall into her hands. Sometimes I feel there is something forbidden about us, especially when the Gods work so hard to pull us apart. Her lips brush across my cheek as they once again drip with sweetness, melting my heart, making me cry unabashedly.

"Why?" I somehow manage to ask.

"What?" Her eyes search mine.

"Why is it important for me to know now?" Her head drops as if ashamed; her hands fall as she sits back on her heels. Taking a deep breath she looks up again. Her eyes brim with tears but she refuses to let them fall.

"I should let you know every second of every day. I know more than anyone that today might be the last day I have with you, but I take it for granted." Xena sighs, running her hand through her hair. For a moment, she's a completely different person. Then she stands, turning around to sit back on her bed. I'm left by myself, still kneeling on the floor. "You gave me my heart back, now I give it to you. I'm sorry for how I've treated you." Xena looks at me straight on, refusing to waver in her gaze.

"What are you saying?" I finally manage to stand, her words rattling around in my head. She gets up, meeting me in the center of the hut once more.

"I'm not doing this because I have to." She grabs my hands gently, her face soft as she looks down at me. "I don't  have a way with words like you do; I don't  express myself like you do and maybe I don't  love like you do." She pauses, searching for the words she wants to use, so I wait patiently. "You have sacrificed so much for me and sometimes I don't  tell you how much I appreciate everything you do. I love you and I.." Eve suddenly cries out in hunger. I laugh at Xena's  frustrated expression as she walks over to her daughter, mumbling under her breath.

Cradling Eve in her arms, Xena sits on the bed. Sitting next to her, I watch quietly as the baby suckles contentedly, eyes half closed. Xena hums softly as she rocks Eve back and forth gently. We forgo our conversation until Eve is once again fulfilled, sleeping soundly again. I grab a wineskin to slake my thirst and listen to the Amazons in full swing outside. The beating of the drums, the laughing.

"Gabrielle." Xena brings me back from my thoughts. I turn and she's just inches from me yet again. She's losing some of her earlier bravery but seems steadfast and resolute. "It would be an honor." Her voice is strong but she can't  seem to look me in the eyes. "To stand by your side for all eternity." Xena clears her throat, finally managing to look up. It's not like we haven't said things like this before, so I'm not sure why she's embarrassed now.

"Xena?" I reach up, her cheek leans into my palm. I don't  know what to say, her words have left me speechless and my heart aching in a good way. All I can think to do is pull her face to mine and kiss her with as much ferocity as I can muster. This is Xena, not the average farmer your parents want you to marry. She doesn't settle down, doesn't even stay in one place long unless she has to wage war there. This is how much she loves me?

The realization strikes me like a hammer, it serves to drive the building passion, deepening the kiss we've just begun. My hands search desperately under her deerskin top, trying to reach the warm skin that rests underneath. The music and singing outside begins to build as if in tandem with our passion. Hands roam over and under clothes till finally we manage to discard them altogether.

She lifts me up, my legs wrap around her waist, my arms around her neck. Tongues continue to duel in a battle that neither of us is really trying to win. Her hands grasp at my back, walking us slowly to a bed then laying me down upon it. Her body never leaves mine, her lips never break contact. But as the crescendo builds outside, so does the fervor between our bodies.

Our lips break, leaving us gasping for air as we explore every exposed area of skin. She's lying between my legs and half of my brain is desperately pleading for her to do more than rub her stomach against me. The other half relishes the feel of those toned muscles sliding erotically up and down in enticingly small movements. These thoughts are banished once her mouth encircles my nipple. Hot moist air colliding with the cold hard nub sending shivers racing through my core.

 I'm lost for a second, my hands looking for something to grasp finally latch onto the back of her head, shoving it against me further. I throw my head back, relishing the feel of her hot tongue before cold air hits my skin once again.

She's on the move, trailing in a zig zag pattern down my body, making stops to kiss or suck until the blood rushes to the surface. Then time slows down, coming in tantalizing increments once I feel her tongue sweep up into me. Her name drops from my lips like a waterfall, a rush I'm unable to hold back due to the overwhelming sensations rocking through my body. For a split second I manage to look down to see blue eyes staring right back at me, passion and lust blazing deep into me.

Her body slides up against mine with a friction that causes sparks to fly between us. I feel the need to cry at the loss of her tongue, but before the tears can fall her fingers are teasing me then thrusting. I can't  breathe for a brief minute as my body arches high up into hers. Lips are against my ear, whispering erotic words, enticing me on as her fingers move in a rhythm my body almost can't handle. My fingers cling to her back, drawing blood but that only seems to make her moan and drive her passion on.

Time comes rushing back all at once, my breath catching in my chest, body tensing as stars explode before my eyes. As my senses return, she's still whispering in my ear, fingers still moving in the slowest pace. I bite my bottom lip. I feel so good right now and I want more, but more than that I want her to feel it too.

I breathe in deeply, her smell a mixture of sweat, leather and soap. I repeat her own words into her ear, my lips grazing across her taught neck where the muscles are standing out. She becomes bolder, saying things I'd never repeat otherwise but every time I say something back to her,  she moans in satisfaction.

My fingers roam, searching for sensitive spots, anything to cause her to squirm in my arms. It's becoming hard for me to continue in my efforts as her fingers are starting to pick up a rhythm again, more insistent than the last. But in-between my hips moving to the rhythm, in-between my own groans; I manage to repeat her words, though barely.

Before I can lose it completely, my fingers search her body, looking for that spot between her legs to reciprocate. The distraction is almost too much but they find the slick warmth, sliding in causing her to stop completely in surprise. Then we both move in rhythm, bodies rocking as our lips meet gasping in each other's mouths. Neither of us can speak at this point; feeling is everything, there's no need for words. Soon we come at nearly the same time, collapsing in a pile of arms and legs. We don't  move, her weight on top of me not uncomfortable but warm and inviting. I can feel her fingers playing in my hair, hot breath against my neck.

"Love you." She whispers, barely audible. I smile, eyes closed.

"I guess I love you too." I feel her pinch my arm before she goes back to playing with my hair

Chapter 4

I'm looking at the Amazons before me and I don't  know half of them. I can't  believe war has wiped out so many of my friends. I'm trying to memorize their names, to watch their body language as they talk to me. There are two that are openly hostile; Ainia and Lykopis. They sit close to each other and, while next to the other Amazons, they seem separate from the group. There's an air about them, like they are better than the rest, better than me. 

Marpesia is my regent; a tall woman with lean muscles and a willingness to learn. She's still quite young but seems mature for her years. For the moment I've let everyone else keep their leadership positions, not wanting to cause too much turmoil within the tribe too soon. I have no doubt everyone deserves their positions, so there is no need to question their ability. One thing I have found out is most of the older Amazons are not happy about Xena. 

The younger generation seems enamored by her and all the tales they've heard. To them she's a hero and someone to be worshipped. To the older group however, who know the true depth of her past, she is a scar upon the tribe. I'm the Queen but they still have to agree with my decision; I'm beginning to think it's not going to be an easy task.

Afternoon rolls around and Xena doesn't show up to eat; so I grab some food and set out to find her. I have a pretty good idea where she might be; finding her with Eve at the Queen's private bathing area, playing on a blanket next to the water.

"Brought you some food." Xena looks at me with a smile as I sit down next to her. I pull Eve into my arms after I hand over the bundle of food. "They decide to kick me out yet?" Xena asks with a little chuckle as she starts to open her bundle.

"No." I blow on Eve's stomach causing her to go into a fit of giggles. "But they haven't exactly gone for our idea either." She just shrugs, tossing a hunk of bread into her mouth.

"What will you do if they don't?"

"I guess I'll leave." Her arm stops mid movement and she turns to look at me.


"You really think I could stay here without you and Eve?" Xena studies me for a moment.

"What about the Amazons?" Her eyes narrow at me.

"Xena I'll worry about that when the time 

comes." I don't  want to worry about all the what if's right now. I feel her stare at me a second longer before she goes back to eating. Xena knows my conflicting thoughts.

I bounce Eve in my lap as she giggles and coos at me. "I would like to have a balance of Amazons and family, but if I am forced to choose I will always choose my family."

"Did you find a way to change any of the customs?" She's trying to change the subject.

"No, you know that will be near to impossible." I sit Eve down and she begins playing with her feet. Looking out at the water, I sigh inwardly. I've always been able to use Xena as an excuse to leave here, but that's not the entire truth. I'm just not completely suited to their way of life and the customs that I'm meant to follow. These women have taught me so many things, and I love them dearly for it, but I could do without quite a few traditions. "In the next couple of weeks I will have to decide who the best warriors are." I look over at Xena who's nodding her head thoughtfully.

"Are you going to do it?" Her ice blue eyes look at me.

"I don't  have a choice, and I'm the only one who seems to have a problem with it." My gaze falls back to the churning waterfall. Until I can figure something different out, this is how the Amazons are staying alive.

"Demeter." Xena suddenly says, her whole body turning towards me.


"I have an idea." She stands up, pulling Eve into her arms and kissing her cheeks.

"Wait, what?" As I stand she's handing Eve back to me, kissing my forehead. "Xena?"

"Don't  worry, it won't take long." She takes off in a run down the trail.

"I swear your mom can be annoying." I readjust Eve in my arms as we watch Xena disappear. I hate when she doesn't explain what she's doing.


It's sometime in the middle of the night when Xena returns, shaking me awake. i'm yawning and wiping the sleep from my eyes as she checks on Eve. I was having a really good dream that I wouldn't mind going back to, unless of course Xena wants to reenact it.

"So are you going to tell me sometime tonight or are you just trying to torture me?" I hear her chuckle quietly before walking over and sitting down next to me on the bed. Xena turns slightly, lifting her foot for me to unlace her boot and take it off.

"Long story short, Demeter owes me a favor. I've never really needed anything from her, but I figured maybe she could help out." I'm not entirely sure where she's going with this.

"You never said you helped Demeter before." I pull her boot off and she switches legs.

"Yeah, it was a long time ago." She shakes her head dismissively. "The point is she's the God of fertility." Her eyes are going wide, like she's trying to say something without saying it. I pull her other boot off, depositing it on the floor.

"Wait, are you trying to say.." She can't  really be saying what I think?

"If God's can have sex with mortals and have demigods, I don't  think it would be that hard to simply, I don't  know go poof." She waves her arm at me.

"But Xena, wouldn't that make it a Demigod like you said?"

"Not necessarily." Surely it can't  be that simple. Nothing is ever that simple.

"What's  the catch?" I narrow my eyes at her, prepared for something truly horrid.

"Well….. all we have to do is name the kid after her."

"If it's a boy I'm not allowed to keep it." Xena gives me a somewhat shocked expression.

"You would really give your child up?"

"No." I was just saying. And somehow I feel like there's more than she's telling me. 

"What do we do? And what about the twilight of the God's?" She smiles widely at me.

"Well an exchange for her life is pretty tempting, and when the time comes it will just take a small ceremony in her temple." I nod my head slowly. So first off, don't  get my hopes up because it may not happen.


I feel like I'm watching a female version of posturing play out before me and it's just as annoying. I focus my attention on Eve even though she's rather happy entertaining herself. Apparently if there is no war going on, being a Queen is extremely boring. I make sure everyone has food, shelter, clothes, I resolve disputes, oversee training and education. I'm basically a mother to a bunch of grown women, and girls in various stages of development.

Then there is of course the time when I have to decide who gets to go out and hit a man over the head and get pregnant. That's the part that I find most fun; I'm being sarcastic of course. If I try to go into this tribe and take away customs that were set in place long before I was born, they will never accept me as their Queen. I will truly be an outsider with an outsider's point of view.

I have no idea where Xena is, I've barely seen her all day. Really the only time I saw her was when she dropped Eve off after lunch claiming she was going to go take Argo for a run. I dismiss everyone with a wave of my hand, all these obnoxious people are making my head hurt. Gathering Eve in my arms I decide it's time to relax. Taking my time, I stroll through the village and up the path to my bathing area. I can't  believe I didn’t find this sooner.

Holding Eve's chubby little body close, I twirl with her in the water; her hands splashing excitedly with every movement I make.

"You know Eve, one day you can be a Queen too. I bet you'll be the best Amazon Queen this land will ever see." I can tell that Xena is sitting on the shore watching us; has been for a few minutes now. "I hope you plan on taking advantage of this privilege." I call out without bothering to look up.

"Which privilege is that?" She asks suggestively.

"Getting the stink off you." Eve even giggles at my comeback. Xena comes splashing into the water seconds later.

"Are you trying to say I smell?" She takes Eve from my arms, kissing her plump rosy cheeks.

"Yes." I nod as I shoot away from her, swimming backwards toward the waterfall. Xena gives me an offended look and starts talking to Eve like she actually understands or cares. I ignore all the comments she's making about me as I float on the water's surface, the sun warming my exposed skin. The headache I had earlier is slowly draining away.

"Some of the best warriors are pretty young." I say offhandedly.

"Do they know?"

"Did you know you were the best?" She scoffs out loud. Of course she knew. "I'm afraid there's nothing I can do. It's an honor to be chosen." I sigh inwardly. I'm doing this a little too much lately. 

"Don't worry about it then." She shouts as she carries Eve out of the water, wrapping a fur around both of them.

"I'm Queen, what good would I be if I didn't." I languish in the water for a few minutes longer before slowly making my way to the shore. I watch as Xena feeds Eve as I pull on my Amazon garb. I wish I could stay and just be for a little longer, but there are still so many responsibilities and tasks to be performed before I can sleep. So I leave one family for another. My fingers brush across Xena's  arm as I silently walk away.


Marpesia is trying to contain the look of utter horror when she realizes that I don't  have quite the vast knowledge of Amazon law and culture that I should. Each time I come, I of course read more scrolls and listen to more tales that are passed down. Being on the outside means I haven't been immersed in the culture like all other Amazons have.

"The best are already established, but as you have only just arrived we can arrange for all Amazons to compete. Then you can judge for yourself." I shake my head, waving my hand at her.

"No, I'm sure they are all just great." I squeeze the bridge of my nose and sigh. 

"So I'm sure there's some ceremony?"

"Of course." I wait for her to go on, but she doesn't.

"And that is…..?" She almost rolls her eyes but manages to stop before the act is complete. She stands straight as an arrow, body tense and uncomfortable. "Wait, you know what, never mind." I don't  think I want to go into the details of another ceremony right now. "It would be really helpful if you didn’t look so uncomfortable around me." Marpesia seems to only become more uncomfortable with my statement. I crack my neck, trying to restore alignment to my own body. "What is it?" I finally ask; she is giving me a headache.

"Queen Gabrielle. " Sigh, I hate being called that. "There is talk of a challenge."

"And?" I've been expecting this, they seem slow in coming though. I should have been challenged within days of my announcement.

"There is more than one, and they can challenge you all at once." I see why she's so uncomfortable now. I have to go up against more than one Warrior at the same time, and my trusty regent doesn't believe I'll come out the winner. "As Queen, you should be able to meet any challenge." Her eyes continually shift away from me. I dismiss her, slumping in my chair as I think about what to do. I have to fight, I have no choice. I could, I suppose, have Xena fight for me, but I don't  have a good excuse to do that, and I'm not about to back down. If I am to be Queen, I have to fight everyone that challenges me, otherwise I'd just be seen as weak.

Xena walks in, a smug look on her face; I have no doubt she scared the guards into letting her enter.

"You here all by your lonesome?" She's so weird when she tries to be cute.

"I don't  know if I'm cut out for this."

"You are either born a leader or you're not. But you still have to learn how to be a great leader for your people, and that takes time." I follow her out of the hut; the cool night air feels refreshing after being cooped for hours.

"Xena." She looks at me, eyes twinkling and smiling brightly. "We figured I'd get challenged right?"

"Yeah, someone finally step up?"

"Um, not one." She stops mid step.

"What?" Her eyes narrow but she's already prepared to start looking for people so she can kick some ass.

"I don't know how many, but I might have to fight them all at once." I shrink away a little, prepared for the yelling that is about to come.

"How is that possibly a fair fight?!" She throws her arms up in the air. "You have to let me do it."

"You can't."

"What do you mean? You don't  know how many plan to challenge you?" Her eyes develop this crazy look when she starts ranting and raving. Most people would be running away scared right about now.

"You can't. I have to do it, I'm the Queen."

"Gabrielle." She scoffs. "You can't  be serious?"

"You don't  think I can handle it?" I try to turn the tables on her, make her backtrack enough to calm down a little.

"That's not what I said." She points her finger at me, trying to dodge my new tactic.

"That is exactly what you're saying." She grits her teeth, growling under her breath. Moving closer, I place a hand on her arm. "Xena, I have to fight for them to have any belief and trust in me. I have to do this." Xena sucks at her teeth, the anger still simmering. Growling again she stomps off towards our hut. Well that went better than I expected.

Chapter 5

"Are you sure you want to use the staff?" Xena is twirling the weapon in her hands as if it's nothing.

"Yes." I just need a little practice.

"Ok." She shrugs as she tosses it at me. I catch it out of the air, smirking at her as I twirl it into a fighting stance. "Don't get cocky." Xena warns; eyes narrowing as she grabs another staff. It's been a long time since I've felt the weight of this particular weapon in my hands. It feels good, familiar and in some odd way like home.

We spend the entire day doing nothing but sparring out by the Queens bathing area. At first I was a little rusty but soon the moves came to me as naturally as breathing. So now I can make flourishing movements, move effortlessly from one position to the next as I watch the subtle body movement of my opponent. Xena doesn't hold back, leaving me with a few more bruises then I started out with.

"So, do you think I have a chance?" I ask, bent over with my hands on my knees panting. Xena for her part doesn't even look tired. She grins at me, leaning on her staff.

"No one can touch you." Her smile fades, and I can tell she's worried despite her encouraging words.

"Xena, I’ll be fine." I caress her arm, trying to reassure her.


"Against a group of warriors?" Her voice is laced with anger.

"I can handle it."

"I know you can." She sighs. "It's just, I don't  want to see you get hurt." I move up to her, wrapping my arms around her waist and pulling her in close.


"Come on, let's clean up. I'm sure your daughter is having a fit by now." Xena squeezes back, kissing the top of my head.

"Race you!"


I stand up on the dais, mask in place as two Amazon guards stand by me like statues. The time has come, I know I'm about to be challenged. Marpesia stands in front of me, donned in her ceremonial garb.

"A challenge has been presented to the Council. They have deemed it legitimate and now the challenge must be made in front of the Amazon Nation." Her voice booms, and there is a slight murmur in the crowd to her statement. No doubt half the tribe probably knew before I did. "Stand forward and make your challenge known." 

There's a shuffling in the crowd; a hushed murmur follows three women as they make their way forward. They stop before me, standing in a line shoulder to shoulder.

"I Xanthe, challenge the Queen."

"I Lykopsis, challenge the Queen."

"I Eugenia, challenge the Queen." All three stand with steely glares and stiff bodies. There are gasps from the crowd, no one ever having seen more than one person challenge the Queen at once. These warriors are young, nimble women, but they do not have nearly the same amount of experience as I do. My hope is that my experience is what will save me.


"I accept the challenge." I roar back at them, letting everyone know I am not afraid. Marpesia turns to me.

"Since you are the one being challenged, you may choose the weapon."

"Staff." I watch as the three women before me smirk. Never underestimate your opponent.

"The challenge will be carried out on the morrow." The Amazons disperse, everyone going back to their duties with excited chatter. I watch my three challengers strut off, a few Amazons circling them as if they are Gods. I pull my mask off, looking over to Marpesia who is shifting uncomfortably on the balls of her feet.

"Do you have no faith in your Queen?" I ask the nervous looking woman. She immediately comes to attention, back straight, chest out.

"No QueenGabrielle. I mean yes I have faith in you my Queen but…."

"You think the odds aren't in my favor." She bows her head slightly.

"It is an unfair fight. I don't understand why the council approved this." She looks genuinely confused.

"The fact is they have approved it. I will need you on my side, believe that I can do this. I know it's not going to be easy, but I don't  plan on losing." I give her a reassuring smile before dismissing her and walking back to my hut.

"Well it's done." I tell Xena as I walk in. She's sitting on the floor by the fire, stitching up her leathers.

"How many?" Xena asks, not turning away from her work. I take a deep breath.

"Three." She lets out a small hiss between her teeth.

"Are they good?"

"Yes." I hear Xena sigh loudly as I move up behind her, my hands resting on her shoulders. "I can beat them Xena." I'm really not sure if it's true, but I have to at least make her believe that I don't have doubts. Leaning down I whisper into her ear. "I love you." One of her hands comes up, covering mine.

"I love you too."


If I said I wasn't nervous, I'd be lying; but I can't  let it show. I've spent hours telling myself that I can handle this, no problem. If Xena can take on a whole army, surely I can take on three Amazons. Outside the hut, the village is alive with excitement. The sun hasn't even risen yet, but every Amazon is up and waiting.

"Are you sure?" Xena asks quietly, Eve in her arms.

"No." I give her a little smile.

"If they hurt you….." She shakes her head, trailing off.

"No." I put my hand on her forearm, trying to get her to look at me. "Don't  let them kill me if it comes to it, but don't  interfere." Her jaw clenches. "Please." Xena gives me a small nod, returning her attention back to her daughter.

"When?" She asks simply.

"About an hour." Xena sighs deeply at me, kissing Eve on the forehead as she does so. I play with the baby's soft hair tufted on top of her head.

"And if you don't  win?"

"Well then there are a lot of things that I don't  have to worry about anymore." I smile, trying to get her to relax some. She doesn't bite.

"Gabrielle.." I cut her off before she can continue.

"Xena I have been fighting alongside you for years, my life is always on the line. How is this any different?"

"Because I won't be next to you." A brief flash of anger lights up her eyes. Xena needs to control; she finds herself lost when she can't  control everything around her. Part of me is angry that she doesn't believe in my skills, but part of me loves her need to always protect me.

"You don't  have to come." Her eyes narrow as she glares at me.

"I'm coming." Xena growls between her teeth. Leaning over I kiss her cheek softly, calming her down slightly.

"I can do it, but only if you believe I can."

"Of course I believe you can." She looks at me shocked that I would even say such a thing. But she calms visibly, the tension in her shoulders easing up. "Just remember to look for their tells. Feet, hips, shoulders; these will telegraph their next move." I nod at her. "Just, don't  go getting yourself killed." I bring my lips over to hers, softly kissing her.

"I won't." We both look away as the Amazons outside get louder, nearly becoming a roar. "Time to go." I take a deep breath, letting it out in a rush. Xena grabs my wrist before I can move.

"Go kick some Amazon butt." She grins at me in that irresistible way of hers. I give both baby and mother a parting kiss before making my way out of the hut. The village seems to be brimming with Amazons; and even though there are no more people here than usual, it feels like a thousand more.

"Are you ready?" Marpesia asks as I reach her side.

"As ready as I'll ever be." I'm trying to keep myself from panicking. She leads me out onto the practice fields; the Amazons lining up at its edges forming a large square. Marpesia starts talking, saying something to the other Amazons who roar. I'm too focused on the three bodies pushing their way through the crowd and out into the square. They look bigger and more intimidating than they did yesterday.

More formalities, more talking, then suddenly it's just me and the three warriors with hatred in their eyes. It feels like there's more than just dislike in their motivation, something else is fueling them. I stand tall, back straight, staff in hand. My competitors begin to heckle and taunt me, hoping to instill fear. I can feel Xena's  presence, her strength radiating towards me.

"So what will it be?" I grin at them. "One at a time, or all at once?" There's no point in trying to reason with them, to use my words to whittle away their hatred. One woman steps forward, the others slapping her back in encouragement. Eugenia. She is a tall woman, taller than Xena even. Her muscles bulge unnaturally, her body is packed with them. She cracks her neck, snarls at me, then is rushing at me.

I wait, don't  move till she's close. Eugenia raises her staff up ready to swing, but I easily sidestep the powerful blow that slaps at the ground. There's no finesse in her fighting, no real skill, just brute strength. She growls, gnashing her teeth. Again I wait. This warrior has no tactic other than to charge me continually, hoping her staff makes contact with me. This woman is obviously not the most skilled in the staff. I need to make it a point to beef up everyone's skills.

I can hear the other two yelling, above the roar of the crowd. Eugenia is tiring quickly. I haven't even made a move yet, except to dodge and duck. Her eyes flick behind me, and if it hadn't been for that I might have missed the warrior sneaking up. Swinging my staff back over my head, I block a jarring downward blow. Eugenia slinks off the edge of the square, trying to recover her strength.

Pivoting on my heel, I glare at my new competitor before backing away into a ready stance. Xanthe. Just a bit taller than I am, her body lean with muscle. She twirls the staff in her hand with a flourish, grinning as she glares at me. We circle each other silently. I try to watch her subtle movements so I can see when she will pounce. Her hips and shoulders shift slightly out of the defensive stance just as she comes at me, her staff moving through the air with fury. Our weapons connect as I block her strike again, but this fighter has more skill than the last.

We become a blur of movement as she continually strikes and somehow I manage to block. My luck runs out when I misinterpret her movement, stepping directly in the path of a well-placed liver shot. My body crumples under me as the air rushes out of my lungs. Rolling, I avoid another strike aimed at my head. As I scramble to my feet, I sweep the staff low at her legs. It connects with her calf causing her to stumble and curse as she scrambles to stay upright. My chest is heaving but I know I can last a lot longer.

Xanthe looks back at her fellow fighters, all forming the same evil grin. They step up as a team, forming a circle around me. I think they're tired of playing with their prey and just want to kill me now. I can really only focus on one warrior at a time, the others making sure to stay out of my line of sight. I need to focus or this won't last long.

Boom! A staff slaps across my back sending me flying forward. Instinctively I roll away, twirling the staff around me as I regain my feet. 

Eugenia is the closest to me right now, and she is definitely the weakest. It's time for me to become the attacker. I do a small flip, landing directly at the large woman's side. She is caught off guard, not expecting me to attack, or maybe even to flip like that. My staff slams into the back of her knees, instantly she crumples to the ground. As she falls, I twist and thrust up, my staff hitting her directly in the mouth. She falls unconscious, blood seeping from her mouth. Now for the hard ones.

They position themselves; one in front and one behind. With a yell, they both charge me at the same time. I can only manage to block one strike as the other hits my liver again. Suddenly I feel like it's raining staffs as they swing at me in crazed fashion. They're flying at me and I'm barely able to dodge or even counter. Somehow I roll out of the tumult, but my arm gets a painful whack before I'm away.

Again they both lunge at me, but both are in front of me now. They are moving in tandem; one strikes for my lower body as the other strikes for my upper. I'm having a hard time trying to block both, and I can feel myself wearing down. I try to back away from them, but they continually push forward offering me no escape. So I charge them. With my staff extended I just run straight at them, making them scramble at the sudden change in tactic.

Somehow this manages to give me a second to gather myself before I need to duck a strike aimed at my head. My staff makes contact with Xanthe's body. First I strike her stomach, spin and strike her across the back. She's not down for good but she's going to be down for a minute.

The last warrior standing, Lykopsis, wastes no time as she lunges at me with flourishing movements. Her staff and her body are twirling and flipping through the air with embellishment. While I manage to block her first strike, I miss the next one at my arm. A pain explodes in my bones, and my hand drops to my side; my arm is broken. This is a very bad disadvantage for me, it's a lot harder to fight one handed. The warrior pounces, knocking the staff from my hand, then swinging hard at my jaw.

Stars explode in front of me as I drop to my knees, vision blurry as my head swims. I can barely make her out, standing over me. The woman crouches down in front of me, squeezing my face in her hand. She snarls, leaning in close.

"I will die knowing I've killed you." She drops the staff, reaching for her boot and pulling out a dagger. Shit. My vision darkens and I feel myself falling forward, hitting the hard earth with a grunt. Did she kill me? I try to open my eyes but i'm finding it too hard, my body wants me to surrender.

My eyes open slowly, blinking at the bright light. I think it's the sun, but I can't  get my eyes to focus. Everything hurts; I must be alive still.

"Gabrielle, stay with me." Xena's  voice pushes through my consciousness. I can feel her arms under me, carrying me I think. But I can only seem to focus for a minute. My body seems too weak to even breathe as I struggle for air. The blackness pulls me under again.

Chapter 6

Over and over I watch myself being stabbed and hacked at by deranged Amazon warriors. All I can seem to do is ask why? I scream the question every time the blade pierces my skin. Blood gushes from every wound and there doesn't seem to be anyone willing to stop the madness. Where are the guard? Where is Xena?

My eyes fly open as I suck in a lungful of air. Panic fills me, my chest is heaving as I try to get the air I need. Xena is half on top of me, tears streaming from her eyes. She's saying something, but the pounding of my heart is so loud in my ears that I can't  hear anything else. Energy is seeping from my body and darkness consumes me.


 Feeling just as drained as I did before, my eyes creep open. My breathing seems loud, coming fast and shallow. It's darker than it was before, and I wonder how long I've actually been asleep.

"Heeyy." Xena's voice is in my ear. She's laying next to me, head above my shoulder and an arm draped across my chest. Her hand comes up, fingers sweeping across my cheek.

"Xena?" My voice sounds rough and dry. Jumping out of the bed she runs across the hut briefly before running back with a mug of water in her hand.

"Here." She lifts my head a little, offering the mug up to my lips. At first, the liquid feels soothing against my throat, but soon it becomes too much as I cough and sputter. Xena quickly puts the water down on the floor, leaning over me with concern. Everything hurts, so with some effort I manage to lift my hand to her cheek. Her eyes are brimming with tears, a mixture of pain and happiness continually floats across her features.

"Sorry." She takes my hand in hers, kissing the back of my knuckles.

"You did nothing wrong." Xena whispers against my hand.

"I lost….badly." I watch as the tears finally spill over, cascading down her cheeks.

"You died." Her voice cracks.

"Again?" I manage a small smile, I don't  want to think about death just yet.

"Gabrielle." She admonishes as anger flares briefly in her eyes.

"Who's Queen?" I feel sick to my stomach, my head is swimming.

"Don't worry about that right now. You have a fever. You were stabbed." Xena barely gets the last sentence out as she clutches my hand to her lips.

"No wonder I feel like Tartarus." My eyes close as I try to will all the aches and pains away. Her head falls to my shoulder, body shaking as her tears spill out onto me. With some difficulty, I reach my other arm over, resting my hand in her dark hair.

"I love you." I whisper as her pain seeps into me. She seems to cry harder against me. "Xena, it's ok, I'll be fine." A growl emanates from deep within her throat as she lifts her head, glaring at me.

"I lost you, I actually lost you. I didn’t stop her in time." Xena shakes her head; obviously the conversation in her head is not reaching her lips. I want to tell her it's not her fault, she only did what I told her to do. How were we supposed to know? But I can't  manage to get any more words out. My stomach is twisting and turning as the room rocks back and forth, as if on waves. "Gabrielle?" She gasps my name as her hands start feeling my forehead and neck. 

Despite the pain, I sit up and lean over the side of the bed. My stomach muscles convulsing painfully, trying to relieve me of my stomach contents. All that comes is some bile as my body continues in its effort to make me retch. With each muscle spasm I feel like I'm being stabbed again and again.

I collapse back against the bed when it finally stops, the event having taken everything out of me. I want to take account of all my injuries but I'm finding it hard to lift my head at the moment. Gently, Xena lifts a cup to my lips; this time it's not water.

"You need to sleep." She whispers, and I understand what she's given me as a fog clouds my mind and sleep overcomes me.


Leaning up against the wall, I pull the blanket up around me as I wait for Xena to return. I barely leave the confines of this hut, unable to move beyond a few shuffling steps in any direction. My eyes are just starting to drift closed when Xena comes in carrying a large platter of food. I can't  help but smirk and raise my eyebrow in question.

"You said you could eat a horse." She cocks her eyebrow up at me.

"So, are you going to tell me now?" She sighs, but sits the platter on the bed in front of me. Pulling a chair close, she sits down with a look of sadness.

"You did, nearly win until….. They basically were an assassination squad." Her face turns grim. I try to bite my tongue to keep from asking questions. "There's a faction of Amazons that want you dead. They basically worship Valaska and they want true royal blood in power."

"Valaska?" I gasp. "She's not back?" I've lost my appetite now.

"No. But her sister has decided to follow in her footsteps."

"She had a sister?"

"Yes, apparently she's just a minor person in the tribe but has been garnering the support of some of the younger Amazons. Airla." My eyes squeeze shut. Of course she is.

"So, what do we do now?"

"Well, you get to stay Queen." She smiles. "And I will be your champion for any other challenges." Her eyes turn dark. "I will not let this happen a second time."

"What happened to the warriors who challenged me?"

"Dead." I shouldn't be shocked, but somehow I am.


"I only killed the one that stabbed you." She snarls at the memory. "The other two slit their own throats, the cowards. This group is serious Gabrielle." She looks at me with such fear and worry. Xena's not afraid of them, she is only afraid of what they might do to me.

"I can't  leave." I say softly. Her head falls as she sighs in frustration.

"I know. I was hoping…..but I know." She's looking down at her hands; I think I can see a tear slide down her cheek.

"Xena, you should take Eve and go somewhere safe." Her head snaps up, eyes flashing with anger.

"I will not leave you here." Xena growls, tears still silently falling down her cheek.

"But Eve could be a target. We don't  know what they will do." These women have a twisted sense of honor, God's know what they are capable of.

"If I can't keep her safe here, I can't  keep her safe anywhere." She clenches her jaw causing the muscles to stand out. I want to fight her more on this, but I simply don't  have the strength right now. My job is not only to keep my people safe, but I have to protect Xena and Eve; no matter how much she might hate it.

Xena sits back in her chair, closing her eyes. She's trying to calm the raging anger that's inside, keep herself from reaching that dark part that lies dormant. When her eyes open again, she's calm and her emotions have been hidden somewhere down deep inside her.

"I thought you were hungry?" Her voice has become soft, but there's still an edge of anger.

"I'm too tired." She cocks her head, looking at me questioningly. "And my arm is killing me." 

"Just a little then." Reaching over to the platter, she grabs a piece of dried meat and hands it to me. "If you don't  eat you'll recover slower." I put the meat in my mouth, chewing slowly, not really enjoying it. I hate when she changes like this; becomes the hard stoic warrior that has no emotions.

"Xena, don't  do this to yourself." She refuses to make eye contact with me as she continues to put food in my hands. "Please." She ignores me, grabbing the tray and carrying it to a table. Turning, Xena looks at me with a fake smile.

"I have to go check up on Eve. You get some rest." She walks out before I can even protest. Even with everything we've been through, she can still shut down and lock me out. Every time she does, it hurts; but I know that is her coping mechanism, it's how she's survived. I eat what's  left in my hand then ease myself onto my back.

My wound hurts with every movement, even with just breathing. I'm not sure how I survived it, I should be dead right now. I shudder at the thought. It's not a struggle for me to get to sleep, the exhaustion is my aid with this at least.


My eyes open to the sound of Eve crying. With much effort, I push myself up into a sitting position and gaze about me. Xena is sitting by the fire in the center of the yurt bouncing Eve on her knee. The baby seems inconsolable as her face screws up more and her face turns red.

"Let me hold her." I watch Xena's  shoulders tense for a moment as she considers. Then, wordlessly, she stands carrying the crying baby in her arms.

"If she stops crying…." Xena grumbles to herself as she sits Eve down in the crook of my arm. It takes merely a minute of me cooing at her for the tears to stop. Xena throws her arms up in exasperation, and I can't  help but giggle. Pulling her shamaness skins off, she throws a shift on and climbs into the bed next to me.

"You look tired." I say, as she lays her head in my lap. She just yawns in response, Eve following suit. Soon both are asleep, breathing slow and even. My fingers tangle in Xena's  dark hair, playing with the strands and letting them flow off my hand like water.

I wonder if maybe I should just leave now, before anyone else gets hurt. I know it's a stupid idea as soon as I think it. Leaving will not solve the problem; it will only become a burden for the next person. These women are depending on me to lead them in the right direction, to keep the Amazon Nation alive. But our numbers dwindle every year, no matter how many girls are born unto us, they can't  seem to make up for the sisters that are lost.

What is the solution here? I have to find out what their true purpose is and maybe I can….I dunno, maybe I can come to a compromise. I'm sure Xena, and any other Amazon, believe we should just cast them out. That won't stop them from coming back for my blood, or the blood of their sisters.


Thunder shakes the ground under me as the rain pours down in a never ending torrent. My wound still hurts, slashing across my abdomen in an angry red slice. I've been out of commission for far too long as it is. Even though most of my sisters are safely ensconced in their yurts, I still need to step out and prove to them their Queen is alive.

Xena wanted to follow, but I somehow convinced her that she needed to stay with Eve. Frankly, it was too easy to win that argument and she's probably prowling around out there right now. I need to meet with the elders; something needs to be done before the dissent turns into an all out civil war.

My guards are following me, in their usual Amazon gear despite the rain. An amazon must be able to adapt to any weather. Luckily I have the excuse of almost dying so I'm wearing my rain gear. I find the communal hut full of children being taught Amazon history; the girls are all sitting in rapt silence.

"Queen Gabrielle, how are you?" Various elders greet me as I enter the meeting hut.

"Not quite ready to fight, but I am well." I smile, various other greetings and informal pleasantries subside.

"My Queen, we have a problem that is secretly infesting the young minds of our nation." Elder Elia informs me, the gravest expression on her face.

"I did not realize that it was so bad."

"We are finding that Airla is gathering supporters within the ranks of the youngest warriors. Those that are still young and can be easily led astray."

"What are her ideas?" I think I get the main idea, but i'm sure there's more i'm missing.

"She believes a Queen should be an Amazon by blood, not just caste. They want to return to some of our older traditions, ones that call for war for very little reason."

"And what can we do to stop it? Any action we take can only spur her supporters into action sooner." I look around the room at the counsel. Apparently they haven 't thought that far ahead. 

“She has many followers among the younger warriors and is gaining more with each passing day.”

"Give me time to think this over and confer with some others." Everyone leaves, murmuring among themselves. My gut is twisting with tension. If I can't  solve this problem then I only prove Airla right, if I chose the wrong course, again this only feeds into her hands.

"Xena?!" I'm not surprised that she's here; merely that she's standing outside the hut in the pouring rain.

"What? It's just a little rain." She smirks. I'd run back to our yurt, but I fear my wounds won't allow me to even jog.

"Come on." I smile, linking my good arm in hers. Surprisingly, the pace is leisurely; I'm really just enjoying this closeness we're sharing. Out in front of people, Xena rarely touches me. My head falls against her shoulder as we walk, my injuries beginning to get the best of me. I'm glad when we reach the dry warmth of our little home. Xena dismisses a young Amazon who is sitting on the floor playing with Eve.

"You need to lie down." Xena commands me.

"And you need to change." We stare at each other, eyes narrowing. Smiling at the same time, we move to carry out our prospective tasks. I, of course, stop and pick Eve up the best I can with one arm as I walk to the bed. Somehow, after I was injured, Xena convinced the carpenters to make us a proper bed. She wanted me to recuperate in comfort. I haven 't had a chance to properly thank her for it yet. I sit Eve down in front of me, she immediately begins to roll around with her fingers in her mouth, gurgling and cooing.

Stripped down with a dry shift on, Xena sits down in front of the fire with her sword and wet stone. Sharpening her sword is almost like a meditative act for her, each movement she makes deliberate and steady. So all I can do is stare at her, and wait for her to decide she wants to talk.

"So, is there a plan?" She asks after a while, eyes still focused on her sword.

"No." This response elicits a growl from her. "Well we have to be careful how we deal with this."

"I can take care of it easily." She grunts.


"Ya, I know, I know." I think she rolls her eyes at me.

"I have to prove that I'm good enough to be their Queen." Xena stops her movement, glaring up at me in anger.

"You mean fighting three warriors and nearly dying isn't good enough?"

"For her followers, you know it's not." Laying her sword down, Xena rests her forearms on her knees as she leans forward.

"I know that you can't  win everyone, and you can't  have dissension." I tickle Eve's belly, knowing Xena is right but knowing I can't  rule like a tyrant. "These are warriors Gabrielle, not farmers and villagers. They understand strength and power, you can't  promote peace and love here and expect them to follow."

"Damn it, I know that!" I hate when she treats me like I'm an idiot.

"Then you know what you have to do." Her voice is softer, but no less strained.

"Xena, I want to be different, I want to be better."

"You are different." She finally walks over to the bed, sitting on the edge and taking my hand in hers. "You can change these women for the better, but it doesn't happen overnight. Your way of thinking is a weakness to them, not a saving grace."

"So what do you suggest I do?" I stare down at my fingers, as they twine into hers.

"I’d say fight her, but that's out of the question. I could always challenge her?"

"For what reason?" You can't  challenge for the sake of challenging. Well, actually you probably can.

"Because, I'm your consort." She says the word uneasily. "And I'm your champion. What more reason do I need?" Xena's eyebrow arches as she smirks.

"Well, can we try it my way first?"

"We always do, and we end up going my way in the end. We can just skip the first part." I slap her arm playfully.

"We don't  always."

"Yeah, we do." She nods her head seriously. Grabbing her face, I pull Xena in for a deep kiss.

"By the way? When are we going to do that whole….you know?" Her eyebrow arches, acting like she has no idea what I'm talking about. "You know, you and me, in front of the Amazon nation. Commitment and all that good stuff."

"Yeah, I've been thinking about that…"

"Xena!" I push her shoulder. "Don't  you dare." I know she's teasing me, and her grin soon reveals itself.

"Anytime you want babe." She says, laying down on her side, propped up by an elbow.

"Babe? Seriously?" Xena ignores me, playing with Eve as if I didn’t say anything. "Is that what warriors say?"

"No they say wench among other colorful phrases."

"And this warrior says babe?" I poke her shoulder.

"No, this warrior says, baby, sweetheart, beautiful, sexy," she's crawling her way toward me with each word. "But most importantly, Queen."

"Queen huh?" Her lips are a hair's breadth away from mine.

"Mhmmm. Queen of my heart," A soft lingering kiss. "Of my soul." A nip at my bottom lip. "Of my body." She sucks the lip gently. "Of my sword." This time she kisses with more purpose, her tongue snaking into my mouth to tangle with mine. it's all too brief, and she knows it. Pulling back with a ravenous grin, she stands up and stretches. "Now it's time to eat." She throws her wet leathers on and strides out the door. She's such a tease sometimes.


My fingers knead at my forehead. There's beginning to be a visible shift in the mood of the village. Tension is beginning to fester, and once that sets in, it rots away at my control.

"What's  wrong?" I ask as Marpesia comes rushing in.

"An army is amassing outside our territory." She reports between gasping breaths. I sit up straight in my chair.

"Do we know who it is?"

"It doesn't look like any warlord we've had dealings with."

"Prepare our defenses. Have the scouts send continuous reports on any movements. Tell everyone to get ready." Marpesia simply nods before running back out.  If it's not one thing, it's another. It only takes a few minutes before Xena shows up, Eve balanced on her hip.

"What's  up?" She looks down at Eve who babbles something. 

"Trouble on our borders." I walk over, grabbing Eve from her arms.

"Any idea who?" Her body shifts to warrior mode.

"No." I sigh. "Xena, Airla is only going to use this to her advantage."

"I'll scout and find out what we're up against." I reach out, grabbing her arm.

"Be careful." She just smiles before jogging off. Marpesia steps back up to me from out of nowhere. 

"Here, let me hold her. Your arm must hurt." There's something off about her, and it causes me to take a step back. It's too quiet. In fact, the only other Amazon I see is Airla.

"There is no army is there?"

"Please Queen Gabrielle." Marpesia pleads. 

"I would hand the baby over if I was you." Airla says calmly. I spot multiple Amazons in the trees.

"You realize what you're doing is cause for your death." Airla just laughs at me.

"You're not our Queen." How did this happen? How did this go so wrong so quick. 

"Where are the others?" 

"We don't have time for this." Airla flicks her hand in the air. In seconds an arrow comes screaming at me implanting in my thigh.  I clutch to Eve with my broken arm as I stumble backward. “Take this as a warning Queen Gabrielle.” She practically spits the title out. “Leave now with your life and never come back. Be grateful for my one act of kindness.” I’m desperately trying to keep Eve in my arms and stay upright.

“What you’re doing is wrong, Airla.” She laughs almost hysterically. I begin to sway on my feet.

“I’ve taken the privilege of packing your things for you and putting them on your horse. There’s no reason for you to come back. You can also take these weak traitors with you.” She jerks her head and a group of Amazons are pushed and shoved towards where Argo stands. “Now go.” Bird calls start to go off all around us in warning.  Xena must be headed back this way. “Go now unless you want the precious baby of yours to die.”  One of the outcast Amazons rushes towards me, hooking her arms under mine. Another grabs Eve from my arms as I feel my legs begin to give way. More circle around me, pulling me swiftly into the tree’s with Argo in tow.

“Hurry.” I hiss between gritted teeth. “Hurry before she changes her mind.”

“Gabrielle!”  Xena’s calling my name as she runs headlong into me.

“I’m ok.”

“You have an arrow in your leg!”

“We need to leave, we don’t have time for this.” Xena stands stocks still, listening and looking at the trees above us.

“Help me.” She says to the Amazon holding me up. Together they get me onto Argo. “Hold on, understand me?” I don’t think she means to the horse.

“Yes.” Xena’s hand flies out, her chakram singing through the air. I can hear the impacts it makes as it hits it’s targets in the trees. As soon as she catches it back out of the air, Xena urges everyone forward at a run.


For more stories from Ellixer, visit her page on The Bard's Corner

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