Summary: The Conqueror leaves Greece to visit Cleopatra and meets a slave/gladiator named Gabrielle but all is not what it seems.
Disclaimer: See Part 1
Authors Note: If you want to email me about this chapter, my email is jacklavigne13@hotmail .com
It wasn't enough and we both knew it as I left her there in that alley alone. I have never needed someone like I needed her and it terrified me. I knew that walking away now would have consequences but I also knew that it might not even matter either way anymore. She was a slave and she was loyal to Cleopatra. I was just a woman that had shared her bed.
I hardly even noticed Alexandria as she fell into step besides me, too lost in my own thoughts as I wandered absent mindedly back to Cleopatra's palace. How had this happened? Several weeks ago, I had been the Conqueror and the most feared woman in the Known World. I used to laugh at poets and storytellers that would talk about love as if it was something humans needed to survive. And yet now here I am, my heart aching with the memory of seeing a slave being taken by her mistress. A woman that I wanted more desperately than I had wanted to conquer all of Greece.
Is this what love is? I thought to myself bitterly as I strode up the steps and back into Cleopatra's palace. I have been told that love was glorious. Even Alexandria had once told me that love is what gives us our strength and that even the Gods were jealous of us over such feelings. Obviously those poets were all just liars because all I have experienced with love was pain, and so far it hadn't been worth it.
Nor was it worth fighting a war for.
I could hear voices outside my door but I paid them no attention as I wandered around my room, picking up my possessions and putting them in my bag. I had drunk at least three skins of strong port and was half way through my fourth, which had numbed me to almost everything. All I could focus on was the bottle of oil that I still needed to get from the bathroom so I could leave this Gods forsaken place and go back home to my castle. Not very many people liked me there, but I didn't care about them so it didn't hurt.
Being here hurts, I thought to myself miserably as I wandered into the bathroom. Even being in this room is painful.
I glanced down at the bath as I picked up the bottle of oil, memories flashing through my mind of when Gabrielle washed my back on the first night that we truly talked. It felt like years ago when it had actually only been half a moon.
I stumbled back into my room and hardly noticed as my bedroom door opened. I was too busy trying to close my bag to feel the presence of the person standing behind me.
"Don't leave me."
My hands paused in their mission and I closed my eyes as I felt the slave move closer to me, until her chest was brushing against my back. I could feel her fingertips lightly dance over the skin on my arms as she breathed warm air on the back of my neck. It was more intoxicating than the strong port I had drunk.
"Xena, please, don't go. Stay with me." The slave's voice held a hint of desperation.
"I can't," I managed to choke out, my voice thick with emotion. My anger had passed hours ago, sometime after my second skin of port. All I felt now was miserable and empty, like I was missing a part of the soul I didn't know I had.
"Then take me with you," Gabrielle pleaded into my ear, her hands gripping my arms.
"I can't," I repeated, feeling like a complete coward. "You'll ruin me."
"That's not fair, you've already ruined me, Xena," the slave whispered softly, her lips brushing against the side of my neck. "I had finally given in before you came along. I had contented myself to being a slave, to serving others. I was even able to take some pleasure from it after being sent to Cleopatra. But since you came, I can't find pleasure in anything or anyone else other than you. It is only you that I want to serve, your touch that I crave, your passion that I want. It's not fair that you leave me now, not when i'm so close to getting what I've been waiting for."
"What have you been waiting for?" I whispered breathlessly, knowing that the slave had already won me over with her words, once again. I leant back against her warm body, feeling as if my knees would buckle from the amount of emotions I was feeling, or at least from the amount of port I had drunk.
"I've been waiting for you, Xena," Gabrielle smiled against my neck, her arms wrapping around my waist tightly.
"I love you."
With those last three words, my knees finally gave out. I would have collapsed onto the ground, but with Gabrielle's strong arms surrounding me, I was slowly lowered to the floor. She pulled me back against her chest and like a child, I curled up in her arms, feeling the tears that I had been fighting all day finally roll down my cheeks."You're going to be the death of me," I mumbled as I rested my head back against her shoulder. She didn't reply, instead, she just held me tighter and pressed her lips against my cheek. Her hands stroked my arms and she whispered sweet words into my ear as I drifted off to sleep
To Be Continued
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