The Healers Kiss
The characters of Xena and Gabrielle and others belong in their entirety to Universal/MCA , Renaissance Pictures, and all the other powers that be. No copyright infringement is intended. I wrote this story at the urging of my muse; it should never be used for profit. Please do not copy or cite elsewhere without express permission of the 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 elsewhere.
This story depicts a loving friendship between two consenting adult women. Sexual relations are not involved, but could be pleasantly imagined. 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.
This story describes events in a Xena episode entitled "The Ides of March." Although I changed the ending to engage in some wish fulfillment, you may want to avoid reading it if you have not yet seen the episode and crave the suspense. This tale presents an alternate conclusion to "Ides" not necessarily better, just different.
I sing a song of a cold March day in the Appenine Mountains and the vision of death found there. The death was to be mine, but I would not die alone in that snowy solitude. My dearest companion, a Warrior Princess, joined me in this final adventure. Captured by a power-hungry Roman despot, destined for execution -- as ever, my friend tried to rescue my fellow captives and me. I sing the tale of our last battle.
In the Prison Yard
Freed from the Roman prison by Xena, the other captives ran towards the woods as the Warrior Princess had instructed. Xena remained behind to stall the guards, cutting them down effortlessly. I started out the gate, then turned back to tell her it was time to retreat.
I watched in horror as Callisto, a madwoman and our sworn enemy, hurled my friends chakram at her back from a high point on the prison wall. Xena failed to see Callistos action and my shout of warning came too late. The weapon struck Xena hard near her belt line and knocked her down with stunning force. She pitched forward to the ground. At first, I thought it had just knocked her breathless, but she remained where she fell, unable to move, her sword in the dirt beyond reach. A massive Roman guard charged the downed Warrior at full run, raising his sword for the kill. She struggled bravely to rise, but to no avail. As he attacked my helpless friend, something inside me snapped.
In that moment, I knew my destiny. I chose the way of friendship and followed my true heart. My mentor, a healer named Eli, had shown me the path of nonviolence. For several months I tried to follow his philosophy, but now I left Elis path choosing human love over perfect love, love of a single Warrior Princess over love of everyone and of nothing.
My choice, and Xenas desperate situation, gave strength to my arms and legs. I possessed no skills with sword or spear, but our plight transformed bard to warrior. Roman lives meant nothing to me now. I would defeat them and carry her to freedom.
To my right, I saw a spear lodged in a body, its shaft standing straight up. I seized the weapon and hurled it at the Roman just as he reached Xena. The spear found its mark deep in his gut and he collapsed. I scooped her sword from the dirt, charging forward to meet the oncoming Romans. Soldiers screamed and fell as I hacked, stabbed, and clubbed them with the Warriors steel.
"Go! Lets go!" I shouted to Xena as I turned a guard with a feint of the sword, grabbed him by the hair, then slashed his throat. He fell with a gurgling noise.
"No," came her hoarse reply.
"Get up!" I screamed.
"I cant, Gabrielle. Its my spine I cant move!" she rasped in a voice filled with helplessness.
I renewed my effort, sweat pouring into my eyes, blood on my hands and arms. A tall soldier grabbed me from behind. I spun the sword and thrust back, catching him in the side. He screamed and released me, then collapsed in agony. The depth of another thrust forced me to push the victim off the sword with my leg and foot. The only way out lay across the dead bodies of our jailers. My breath came in gasps, but I felt a sense of exhilaration and focus unlike anything I had never known. Our survival depended on a small bard, me, waging a one-woman war against all odds.
Whirling and slicing, I went to one knee, taking a soldiers legs out from under him. (Part of me recalled the fierce beauty of my Warrior when she used this move against an enemy.) A solid kick from another guard caught my forehead and I fell back hard, losing the sword.
"No, Gabrielle, no " Xena moaned.
I knew she was watching in terror, not for herself, but for me.
Every muscle of my being screamed for action. I scrambled to my feet and lunged full force at the soldier who dared to kick me, tackling him to the ground. Caesars dogs would not take us while I breathed! The guard looked surprised as I seized him by his leathers and used my head to butt him senseless. (Ow! A small part of me still felt that.) I straddled my latest conquest, tore his knife from his belt and stabbed him again and again .
Something from the past surfaced as I held the bloody dagger in my hand, ready to stab once more. The weapons red-stained blade wrenched memories from another time and place a woman a sacrifice in the temple of an evil deity the first time I killed after vowing never to take human life I felt the warm blood run down my hand and hesitated.
I stared at the dagger. The hand holding it was no longer mine. That hand dropped the dagger and the soldiers surrounded us. We were lost.
The soldiers stripped our garments, then threw us in a cell. Xena had drifted into unconsciousness as they dragged her from the courtyard. She remained so through this indignity. Hungry, vengeful Roman eyes focused instead on me. I covered my exposed body as best I could and tried not to show my fright. For a moment I imagined the guards might exact a horrible revenge before the execution, but no one approached me.
Some candlemarks later, a soldier tossed a few sheets of dirty cloth through the bars. I managed to wrap my friend, then myself. Shivering with cold and fear, I held her, hoping the contact would warm us both. Tears welled in my eyes. I could not hold them back now.
Xena awoke in my arms. I cradled her damaged body in my lap, summoning all the tenderness I could.
"Gabrielle " Xena said, as if my name was a prayer.
"Xena," I managed to whisper back my own supplication.
She saw the tears.
"Crying? Dont cry." she commanded gently.
"I wont," I said quietly. "Rest."
She closed her eyes and perhaps slept.
Her legs were useless, her incredible strength drained by pain and the effort just to breathe. We both realized the hopelessness of our situation. I had given my best to save her, but failed. The only thing to do was wait.
One of the soldiers snarled, "It wont be long now!"
I remembered the Romans building crosses in the prison courtyard. The snarling soldier meant our execution, of course: death by crucifixion under orders from Julius Caesar. Xena experienced visions of our deaths on these crosses several times during the past year. The visions haunted her throughout our travels. She tried to shield me, to change my destiny, if not hers. She considered abandoning me as a way to prevent my death. But, I loved her and did not believe in the visions, until now. How long did we have? I dozed off.
I awoke to the sound of her voice. Even in this dark place, Xena thrilled me as she spoke again.
"I made you leave the way of love. That was my fault " she began.
"I had a choice, " I interjected, "to do nothing or save my friend. I chose the way of friendship."
She paused and closed her eyes. A look of anguish crossed her face, then she continued.
"Im sorry for all the times I didnt treat you right "
Again, I cut her off.
"Xena, you brought out the best in me."
My mind searched for the right words to tell her that she meant life itself to a girl from Potidaea.
"Before I met you, no one saw me for what I was. I felt .invisible. But you saw all the things I could be. You saved me, Xena, and I failed you so many times these past months Forgive me." My voice faltered.
"I wish " she started, then hesitated.
"What?" I asked.
"I had read your scrolls just once "
Now, I smiled.
"You would have liked them," I responded in a voice husky with emotion.
I bent down and kissed her on the lips. With that one kiss, I tried to tell her everything: how much she meant to me, how I looked up to her, my gratitude for the adventure and meaning she brought to my brief season in this world. My soul relaxed into hers. We would be one in death, as in life.
I felt her breath and spirit in that kiss. Her response told me she knew what I knew -- that we were beyond this cruel destiny united forever in what awaited us after the cross.
As the kiss lingered and deepened, I sensed a change in the air around us. The dark, cold cell grew warmer and warmer. Bright, golden light began to pour through the bars and cracks in the stone walls. Xena tensed and struggled to sit up. The soldiers backed away, shielding their eyes. The light enveloped us both. The world around us disappeared in the glow. There was no sound at first, then I heard a deep, but definitely female, voice.
"Xena, Gabrielle, have faith." The voice surrounded us. "Gabrielle do as I tell you."
"Who are you? What do you want?" demanded Xena as she tightened her grip on my hand and pulled herself up as far as possible.
For my part, I could not move.
The voice came back, gently, but firmly: "Peace be with you, Warrior. Your extraordinary love and forgiveness have saved you. But Gabrielle must do one more thing "
"No more sacrifices!" growled Xena. "Gabrielle stays with me!"
She was in full protection mode now, trying to pull out of my arms and come to my defense, but still unable to mobilize her lower body.
"Gabrielle, let Xena go and help her turn over," the voice commanded patiently.
Xena stopped struggling.
I did as instructed and gently rolled the warrior from my lap to the floor, easing her onto her stomach.
"Gabrielle, be careful," Xena warned. She was talking about me, not about herself. I heard her grunt in pain and could feel the effort she made to rise, but she could not.
I found my voice, finally.
"Xena, I dont know what all of this means, but please trust me. Something is happening here. I wont leave you and I promise not to do anything stupid. Lie still, please," I begged. She relaxed onto the floor.
The guards, the prison, our crucifixions all were forgotten as I waited for the next instruction.
"Place your hands on Xenas lower back."
I did as I was told.
"Now feel for her injury, Gabrielle."
I moved my hands lightly up and down Xenaa spine, again and again. They sensed nothing.
"I cant "
"You can " said the voice
"You will." That was Xenas voice, and it was filled with confidence. "I know you can do it, my Bard."
I concentrated on her back, trying to find what?. I didnt even know what I sought. Suddenly, I felt a tingle, as if something pinched the ends of my fingers. My hands lifted slightly.
"Youve found it," said our invisible guide. "Now lay your hands on that spot. Breathe deeply and remember that this is your love, your companion. You will give her a healing gift."
I prepared myself, but doubts flooded my mind. What if I failed again? Could this be a dream? Maybe we were already dead. I heard Xena whisper my name once more, another prayer. I focused on my breathing and her spine.
My hands grew warm, then hot. The heat rose through my arms to my shoulders and then I felt as though my body caught fire. Gradually, the heat reversed itself and traveled downward through my arms and off my fingertips into her back. I sensed a glowing light around that area where her body met my hands. Xena groaned and sighed deeply.
I cannot recall how long I held my hands in that spot where the chakram had injured my friend. I remember seeing her legs start to move and then the world vanished.
I came to leaning against a tree. Xena knelt beside me and gently wiped my face with some dampened moss. We still wore the dirty prison garments, but the fresh air and sunlight told me we were far from the cell.
"What happened?" I asked her. "Are we dead?" "Where are we?"
The questions spilled out. My head felt light and my breath came in short, rapid gasps.
"Whoa, Gabrielle!" Xena smiled and arched her eyebrow in a familiar fashion. "Were in a glen, and it doesnt look like Tartarus or the Elyssian Fields. Were somewhere near Amphipolis, I would guess, and probably not dead." She reported these facts without emotion, as if such miracles happened every day.
She told me that she awoke in the glen after I laid my hands on her. She had scouted the area for Roman soldiers and found none, so we were safe for the moment.
"You can walk," I said as she stood to stretch. I could barely contain the wonder in my voice.
"Thanks to you, my friend," she responded, brushing my hair with her fingertips. Her hand lingered on my cheek. Her eyes shone with gratitude and with love.
"It wasnt me, Xena," I admitted. I didnt feel much like a healer or anything else except tired, dirty, and bewildered. "It was ." I began again and then it struck me that I could not name our benefactor. "Athena? Artemis? Hera?" I listed the pantheon of Greek goddesses.
At each name Xena shook her head side to side.
"If not them, then who Xena?"
"Or what?" added my friend.
You dont think, Calllisto .,"
"Absolutely not, Gabrielle," came Xenas terse reply.
"The voice didnt sound like Eli " I ventured.
"Maybe the one god of the Israelites?" I was running out of deities.
Both of us paused. The idea that the one god might be a woman caught us by surprise.
Xena sat beside me, leaned into the tree, and took my hand in her larger, stronger grasp.
"Gabrielle " she began quietly, "I dont think that was anyone we know, yet. But whoever she was, I am grateful. You healed me, with her help. The Romans are still far away. I can walk, and were alive. This day is a gift." Xena spoke a mouthful, considering her usual reticence.
"I dont know, Xena. I havent been very good at following any kind of path lately Im no longer a bard and dont feel like a healer or a warrior Im just confused, again." I could not hold back the sigh.
She leaned over and kissed my forehead, then the tip of my nose, and finally my lips. As she slowly pulled away, she whispered, "Whatever path you choose, my love, Ill be with you."
"Now thats what I call healing," I murmured with conviction, as our lips parted. Xena laughed.
I closed my eyes and smiled, dreaming of kisses to come.
Comments? Questions? Feedback gladly accepted, but be nice. This is my first fanfic attempt. Email me at: MsCL@ix.netcom.com
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