This collection of one-shots pertains most to Xena: WP character Gabrielle and her thoughts, feelings, and experiences with and around her daughter.
Trigger warning for scenes of sexual violence.
The swoop in her stomach told Gabrielle that she was still falling to her doom, her daughter no longer in her arms.
But her feet were on hard ground. Slippery-with-the-dew-so-often-found-in-the-forests-of-Brittania ground, but hard ground nonetheless.
Apart from her stood Xena and the person the bard had been several months ago. Having sobbed her breath away in the shade of Dahak’s collapsed temple, that Gabrielle was a hollow shell. She followed Xena red-eyed but silent to the edge of a creek.
Pale blue eyes scanned her sidekick doubtfully. “Let’s get cleaned up, hm?” she offered after forcing a smile on her face.
Past Gabrielle nodded wordlessly.
“You’re probably thirsty too, huh?” Xena tried to say gregariously as she turned from her friend to remove her breastplate and other armor. She whipped around at the sound of a muted splash, thinking the girl had keeled over into the water. “Gabrielle!” she cried in even greater surprise as the blonde walked straight into the little river, boots, clothes, and all.
She hadn’t even dropped the staff Xena had darted back into the smoldering ruins to retrieve and then pressed into her right hand before taking the left and leading her into the forest. Nor did Gabrielle let her friend take her weapon from her. Fire sparked in green-blue eyes as a guttural refusal rose from her chest. “Mm!” Gabrielle wrested her staff from the brunette before half-crouching into a defensive position.
“Gabrielle…” Xena murmured in a stunned sort of way. Then she tried to smile once more. “Well, let’s at least take our clothes off!” Her eyes glanced down, and she groaned, having tramped into the creek without thought to help her friend. “Our boots will take long enough to dry as it is.”
The bard did not move. That is, until Xena uncertainly reached out and began to untie her top. Then Gabrielle whimpered desperately and turned away from her friend, pressing her forehead to her staff and grasping it tightly in both hands.
“Gabrielle… Alright, alright!” The warrior held up both of her own hands in surrender. “You take care of you; I’ll take care of me.” Again, she turned her back on her friend…
The scene changed ever so slightly. Out of the creek and sitting around a campfire in the dimming sunlight, their boots and one set of clothes laid out on the rocks between them, Xena and Gabrielle ate quietly.
Much sooner than she usually would, Gabrielle stopped. The spoon she had brought to her lips hovered in the air for a moment; the next, it fell into her bowl which too fell to the dark earth.
Yet again, Xena took up the unfamiliar role of trying to strike up conversation. “That bad, huh? Let’s just leave the cooking up to you from now on, hmm?”
Her friend nodded listlessly.
Xena sighed. “I’ll clean up. Why don’t you go lay down and get some rest? May-” One of her own hands dropped her bowl to grab Gabrielle’s as the girl pressed past her. “It will get better, little one. I know it doesn’t feel like it right now, but it will. Pr-”
A shadow of a smile tugged at the bard’s mouth though a cramp pinched in her cheek. Too, she pressed her fingers over lying lips, not wanting to hear another promise that would soon be broken. “Good night, Xena,” she said, the first thing she’d uttered since echoing the warrior’s own words back to her about everything having changed. Her hand very briefly caressed her friend’s cheek but fell before the woman could hold it to her face. Too, Gabrielle trudged the few paces away to their bedrolls and collapsed onto them without waiting to hear a return greeting.
The Gabrielle unnecessarily hiding in the bushes watched as light blue eyes filled with tears until the warrior had to close them.
The pale face they were set in lost more color. And as the life drained from Xena, her lips began to move again.
For the first time ever, Gabrielle witnessed her friend pray over her, her light and spirit, a second time. Too bad they’d already been squelched, the bard thought dully.
The invocation was jarring enough in itself. Another shock came several minutes later, after Xena had gotten into bed, tried to put an arm around the girl, got unconsciously rebuffed, and then rolled over to sniffle into her elbow. Other figures joined the scene, passing right through the present-day Gabrielle to get to the one with whom they shared time and space.
She shrieked soundlessly as one of the hooded figures crept between the slumbering friends and passed a hand over each of them at the same time.
Something like dark sparkles fell onto the reclining figures and made them go completely still. Past Gabrielle and Xena fell into such a deep sleep that they barely seemed to breathe.
Two other intruders dropped to their knees and grabbed the blonde. Wrenching her from her blankets, they dragged her closer to the fire. One hand each of theirs slammed down on her splayed hair to hold her head to the ground while their others clapped over her mouth. The fourth stranger attacked her top, untying it with ease and then ripping it open. His hands instantly went to roughly massaging her breasts and pinching her nipples. At last, the first figure knelt down as well, his job being lifting her skirt and working his fingers into her just as all the cult members had done to Gabrielle after Khrafstar found his first release inside of her.
Lowly, they started singing their usual chant. The two people by her head pulled out vials from under their robes, alternating forcing open her mouth and then rubbing her throat to make her swallow their potions and dripping other potions onto her nipples. They also shook a separate, more viscous, liquid over the first cultist’s hand to lubricate his way into her body and to further prepare it for motherhood to the prophesied child. Once their work was done, they sat back on their heels and released her. Their song changed to bring Dahak forth from the fire until he consumed her once more.
The horrified, motionless Gabrielle of her present day heard their god’s praise too.
You have done well, my good and faithful servants. My child will grow as I have commanded, thanks to you. The new kingdom of Dahak will rule! And you will my nobles. Your work is complete. Now, go. Tomorrow, I will require Alistair, Llewellyn, Isolde, and Leland. See to it that no more of you fail. Each of you must take The Deliverer’s place until the child is born.
“Yes, my lord,” each of the quartet murmured in turn, heads bowed respectfully, before getting to their feet and disappearing from the clearing.
The chosen one floated in the fire, its heat activating the potions on and within her, until Dahak saw fit to lower her, redress her, and then tuck her into bed.
I am with you always, burned in all four of the girl’s ears.
Silent tears slipped down both her faces.
Now I know why I always felt him and his cult on and in me even after leaving Morpheus’s realm. Why waking up feeling sick to my stomach wasn’t surprising. Those weren’t nightmares. …And my nightmares weren’t only of Meridian, like I told Xena they were.
You will never be free from me, even out of my reach! Dahak added viciously as he snatched Gabrielle’s hidden memories from her.
“It’s okay, little one. Nothing can hurt you. I’m not going to let a single thing hurt you. I’m here; I’m here. Shh…” a familiar but unidentifiable voice whispered into her ear, not searing it but soothing it.
Gabrielle left her pain behind temporarily to snuggle up to the source of her comfort and security.
“I know; I know. It’s okay. I’m here, love. You’re safe now. I promise.”
She spent the next day in catatonia as far as Aphrodite could tell, trapped in her traumas but also relishing getting to be with Hope again.
Gabrielle did not care even when Dahak captured and confined her present mind into the body of her past self, just as he’d done with her wandering consciousness while holding her in his flames the first time. Unable to move, unable to scream, but fully conscious and able to feel everything they did to her, she experienced being abused by him and his cult nightly until all sixteen lesser members had acted upon her and then gathered around her in their circle to sing her unto wakefulness with a third chant that awakened the child within her too.
Thus, she relived the day she had birthed Hope, trapped in her own body and mind but not able to affect the past. Gabrielle withdrew from her younger self’s head and feet, not wishing to hear her wounded thoughts or walk that same path. Instead, she curled into a protective ball around her Hope, whispering love, light, and goodness over the fetus, while the same tingled over her skin. Then she stroked her baby’s hair and kissed her cheek.
Dahak could not part them. The only time he got close was when her present-day body felt an impending assault, more deities seeking to desecrate her sanctity moving against her. Half-conscious of that world, she felt herself flail and cry, heard Aphrodite and Athena try to reassure her. Satisfied that they wouldn’t try to touch her like that again, she returned her full attention to her child.
The scant hours she had actually gotten to be a mother to her baby, especially their flight from Xena, she threw herself into full-heartedly. Every moment, she recorded in her mind. Every sensation of her baby’s skin, hair, or weight against her, she soaked in until she was full fit to bursting. Each sight of her tiny child, each sound, each scent, she drank in like life-preserving water. Gabrielle even found herself unconsciously trying to possess Hope, to fill the child with goodness that way, leaving no space for evil to take root, and to experience their time together through her baby’s perspective, learning how she thought and felt about everything. To find something to hold onto in that unknowable entity.
But then she was letting her child go. Against her deepest wishes, against her higher sense, she let go of that basket once more. She repeated her long-forgotten prayer, slumped over her knees, arms outstretched, hands in the water, and face in the gravel, even as her past self staggered to her feet, then toward the rocks she would soon lead Xena up.
“Aphrodite, please keep my baby safe. Teach her love, goddess. Let her be filled with it.” She said it over and over until she felt herself drift away as if too in a basket on the slow-moving stream.
“Sweet pea?” the goddess asked ecstatically. “Hi, honey!”
Gabrielle blinked sedately. Then her eyes widened. You’re the one who keeps trying to hurt me. You did it again a little while ago when I was having that bad dream about Xena again.
Aphrodite bounded toward her.
No, please! Gabrielle hid until she no longer knew who she was. All her memories flowed from her conscious mind as she cowered under a bed she did not recognize.
A loving voice called out to her anew. “Little one? It’s okay, baby. I’m not going to hurt you.”
Mommy? But she could not move or even open her mouth to answer back.
“Come on,” Aphrodite tried again after another few minutes of silence. “Don’t you want to see me? I’ve been dying to see you! H-haha. Ooh, I know! You love this stuff, don’t you? …Mmm, smells yummy!”
Gabrielle reemerged into the light.