To Tame A Wild Heart
I had been feeling restless tonight which is how I ended up on the fourth floor of Cleopatra's palace, staring into the night sky and attempting to count the stars. I was sitting on the window sill, my back reclining against the wall as one leg hung outside the open window and the other was tucked up against my chest, contemplating the past few days of my stay in Egypt. It had been a week since my talk with Gabrielle when she said that we could be friends. I haven't spoken to her since and have only seen her in passing. To be completely honest, I was avoiding her which was most unlike me. I would see her every morning and every night when I would meet with Cleopatra but we never spoke and I would avert my eyes when she tried to capture me in her gaze, those green eyes questioning me. And when I saw her while on the practice field or wandering the halls, I would immediately change direction and walk away. I had been rejected by a fucking slave and my ego was bruised. I wasn't acting like myself.
In the past, I would have just taken the slave against her will. I know that she wants me, even if only a little bit and that would be enough for me. Fuck Cleopatra and fuck what the slave wanted; I would have made the gladiator mine. But I didn't feel right about that now.
During the past week, I have spent a lot of time thinking, especially about my one night with the slave. The way I had touched her and the way she had touched me in return had been unlike anything I have ever experienced. It had made me feel so warm inside and I was sure I was going soft. I have been unable to think of anything else since. Everytime I saw her now, all I wanted to do was feel her hands on my skin, her lips on my lips, but I was scared.
I know what you're thinking; the Conqueror is scared of a slave? Yeah, right. But it's true. No one had ever turned me down before and now that she has, it was like she had all the power. Usually after someone spent a night with me, they were begging to be back in my bed again but not her. Instead, she wanted to be friends and I had actually accepted her offer, which again is so unlike me. I had taken a ride straight after and suddenly started doubting myself and the decision I had made. Why would someone want to be friends with me? Why did I even care if she did or not? I had scared myself so much with my thoughts that I had started doing something I never thought I would; I hid. I hid from a fucking slave like she was a hell hound after my soul which I guess isn't too far from the truth.
Since the moment I first saw her, I haven't been acting like myself and people were starting to notice. No one had the balls to say anything, but it was obvious that they were waiting for me to explode. The only person who had the guts to speak was of course, Alexandria. I had found myself in her bed every night for the last week and I could tell it confused her. It wasn't unusual for me to desire her, but for me to sleep by her side or anyone else's for that matter for seven nights in a row was almost unheard of. She had finally spoken up last night after one of the most tender sessions of fucking I've ever had. It was almost like making love.
"Xena," Alexandria whispered to me, running her fingers through my hair as I laid ontop of her, still trying to catch my breath. "Not that I'm complaining, but what has gotten into you?"
"What are you talking about?" I was instantly on the defensive, leaning up on my elbows to look down at her. She grinned up at me before cupping my face gently in her hand and brushing her lips against mine so tenderly that I felt my heart ache.
"This," she whispered against my lips, her thumb caressing my cheek. "This is what I'm talking about, Xena. You've never been like this with me or anyone else for that matter, that I know of. You're softer than I've ever seen you."
I growled as I rolled off of her, wanting to be angry, to rage and scream but I couldn't. She spoke the truth and I couldn't be angry at her for being honest with me. I had gotten soft and it was all the fucking slave's fault. She ruined me. When she had conquerored me and then offered me her friendship, I had felt warm inside. Over the past week, the warmth had grown inside of me until I felt lightheaded and almost peaceful. I had never felt peaceful before.
"Like I said," Alexandria said softly as she rolled ontop of me, entwining her legs with mine. "I'm not complaining. It's just... different."
"Is it bad?" I asked, my voice cracking. I had never felt like this in my life. I felt scared and vulnerable, not strong and invinsible like the Conqueror should be.
"No, oh Gods, Xena, no," Alexandria smiled as she brushed her lips against my forehead, my cheeks and finally my lips. "It's not bad. You still have your fire, Xena. You're still the Conqueror; strong and fierce. But you've regained what I thought you had lost forever. You've regained your heart, the passion that first made me follow you, that made me loyal to you. You're not any weaker for being this woman, instead you're stronger. If I had known getting away from Greece for a while would do this to you, I would have suggested the trip myself."
"But if I let people see this side of me, they won't fear me anymore," I whispered, sounding like a child even to my own ears.
"Maybe," Alexandria smiled. "But they will be more loyal. They won't follow you because they are scared of what will happen to them if they don't. They will follow you because they want to. And plus," she added with a mischievious twinkle in her eye. "Once they see you on the battlefield, they will fear you once more."
While her words had reassured me, they had also scared the Hell out of me. I didn't even recognise this woman I was becoming and I wondered if the slave had put a spell on me. While I hadn't spoken to her recently, everytime I saw her, especially when she was with Cleopatra, I found myself wanting to be better. I wanted to be good and not evil like my mother claimed I was so long ago. I wanted her to look at me the way she looked at her mistress, her eyes full of affection and devotion. I wanted her to touch me like Alexandria had touched me last night, with tenderness and love. How could she do any of those things if I wasn't worthy of it? Could I ever be worthy of it? After all the things I've done, I didn't think so.
"Do you know how long I've been waiting for you?"
Speak of the fucking devil, I thought to myself as I turned my head to face the slave who was leaning in the doorway of the room I had discovered in my wanderings. I had actually found it several days beforehand in an attempt to avoid her. So much for that, I thought bitterly.
"I've been in sitting in your room for almost two candlemarks," she continued as I turned my attention back towards the night sky. I had counted up to three thousand and forty eight stars until she interrupted me.
"Oh?" I muttered absently as I let my eyes flutter closed, wrapping my arms around the leg tucked against my chest and lying my cheek against my knee. I was tired but I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep if I returned to my bed alone. After sharing Alexandria's bed for the last week, I had become used to a warm body besides me which is exactly what I didn't want. And after our conversation last night, I was too scared to return to her arms. By the Gods, I am such a coward.
"Are you okay, Conqueror?" The slave's voice was closer now and I assumed she had crossed the room and was now standing besides me. She was very quiet, hardly making a noise when she moved. She would make a good assasin, I mused to myself with a small smile.
"I'm fine," I replied, finally opening my eyes to look at her. She had a curious look in her emerald orbs as she nodded slowly and I knew the question she was about to ask me before she even opened her mouth.
"Why have you been avoiding me?" Her voice was soft and if I didn't know better, I would think she was hurt by my hiding. I shrugged my shoulders and turned to look back out the window, hoping she would leave me alone.
"Did you change your mind?" She asked, stepping closer to me until I could feel her tunic brush against my thigh. "Do you not want to be my friend?"
Gods, so many questions that I didn't have any answers to. Have I changed my mind? Did I not want to be her friend anymore? I don't know. I've never had a true friend before and I didn't know if I knew how to be one. I wanted to snap at her but I didn't have the energy so again, I just shrugged. Three thousand and forty nine, three thousand and fif-
"What is wrong with you?" The slave asked suddenly, her frustration with me obvious. "Why are you avoiding me? Why won't you talk to me? What have I done?"
"You," I growled back, turning to look at her with narrowed eyes. "You are what's wrong with me."
"Me?" She spluttered, her eyes wide with disbelief. "All I wanted to was to be your friend!"
"Exactly!" I yelled, throwing my hands up in the air. "You want to be my friend. Why? Nobody wants to be friends with the Conqueror. Why do you? What is your ulterior motive? What do you want from me?"
"I- I," She stuttered, stepping back from me. Her eyes darted around the room as if looking for an answer to my question.
"That's what I thought," I said, leaning my head back against the wall as I felt the rest of my energy drain from my body. She finally met my gaze and the look she gave me was so sad that I immediately felt guilty, though I don't know what for.
"I don't want anything from you," she finally whispered, her voice so soft that I had to strain to hear it. "I just.. I thought I saw something in you. I thought that maybe if you had a friend, I would be proved right with everything that I've heard about you. I wanted to be proved right."
"Well, I'm sorry to disappoint you," I muttered as I slid off the window sill. I was too tired to talk to the slave any more and all I wanted was to sleep. Maybe I could slip into Alexandria's room without waking her.
"I know it's there," she said as I was walking past her. I froze mid step, our arms brushing as she spoke. "I know that this mask you are wearing isn't real. I can see the woman underneath, especially when you're trying to hide from me. I can see you watching me when you think I'm not looking. I watch as your hands twitch with want to touch me when I walk past. I've seen you leave your room every night to join your second in bed and I know that you wish it was me in your arms. So, why are you trying to prove me wrong? Why are you trying to hide what I know is there?"
"Because you asked me to," I replied softly, letting my fingers brush against hers. "You wanted to be my friend, not my lover. I'm just doing what you asked of me."
I left the room before she could reply, my feet taking the familiar path to Alexandria's room so I could drown myself in her in an attempt to bury my thoughts of the slave.
To be continued in Chapter Seven.
Return to the Academy