Biancaneve's bedtime stories series
Disclaimer: I do not own X:WP. It belongs to MCA Universal.
Author's note: I wrote this short story in three parts for someone special despite the fact I dun like writing this ship *sigh* but here goes part 2...
Aristaeus and Xena shared a lovely breakfast together, they had spent the last few days getting to know one another and resting. Neither had any wish to move on, but Xena knew she couldn't really on without Gabrielle. She didn't want to look that Gabrielle would just run away and not talk to her. She hadn't misinterpreted anything to her knowledge everything had seemed so clear lately.
"You're thinking about Gabrielle again," Aristaeus commented. He didn't know how he felt about this Gabrielle on the whole, but one thing that was clear was that she must never come between him and Xena. It was also clear that no one else was a threat of this no more than Gabrielle, out of all the people Xena had talked about.
"Hmmm…yes, I was, but I left her no more than a few candle marks ride from here. No matter her decision she should have come into town."
"Yes, well maybe she's not who you thought she was after all." Xena shook her head.
"No, Gabrielle and I have been through Hell and back again together, she would not do me as you say." Aristaeus nodded.
"That's quite unfortunate for me than." Xena shook her head.
"No, you have a place in my heart now and forever, Aristaeus nothing will change that."
"I shall pray to the Gods that this is so." He kissed her cheek.
"It is so." She kissed his cheek in turn.
"A las my fair maiden I must attend to something things out side of town, care to join me?" Xena shook her head.
"I want to remain here in case she comes, this business will not take long will it?"
"No, not too long I hope, if it will I will send a messenger."
"If she is not back than I will meet you there." Aristaeus nodded. They hugged before he gathered his things and departed.
He whistled as he walked casually and unafraid of anything that might cross his path. He looked into the sun directly which no one else could ever do and smiled before continuing on looking absolutely gorgeous in the sunlight. Aristaeus was unimpressed when he found himself surrounded by the same bandits as Gabrielle had, but anyone looking would have found no signs of her having come that way to begin with.
"Is that how you boys surround just anyone on the path?" Aristaeus asked with a grin. They were all silent for a moment before grinning back.
"We're not surrounding just anyone Sir, we're surrounding the great Aristaeus son of the Sun God and fierce warrior."
"Well than at least you're all a smart lot." They laughed and followed Aristaeus to their camp. They hadn't really been bothering anyone on the road, though every now and again they came out in the night to poke fun at a passing traveler. They would keep them overnight or a few days until Aristaeus could have his own fun with them. A little plundering would be nice, but Aristaeus had cautioned that this wasn't their home and they didn't truly know what the Greeks were capable of even if they did worship their Gods.
"You men look quite delighted who did you pick up on the road?" They chuckled.
"You know us so well." They went over to a box shape covered with furs. They didn't waste any time pulling back the curtains. Aristaeus was shocked to see Gabrielle. He didn't need her to tell him, almost immediately he recognized her description.
"Let me out!" Gabrielle screamed grabbing the bars and peering at Aristaeus, it was quite clear to her that he was their leader.
"Why?" Aristaeus asked. "Have the men been inappropriate with you?" Gabrielle was taken aback by the question, warlords didn't ask you that ever, but he had asked and he deserved an answer.
"No, actually they haven't been as inappropriate as the usual bunch of brutes you get around here." Aristaeus nodded.
"And you've been allowed to bath right?"
"They even washed my clothes yes, but let me out." Aristaeus looked confused as if he couldn't fathom why she should want to leave.
"Well they at least haven't fed you properly correct?" Gabrielle looked shocked when she thought about the food.
"Well no, the foods been outstanding, I've gotten choice pieces of meat and a wide array of side dishes to choose from, but…."
"Then why would you want to go?" Aristaeus asked. Gabrielle frowned.
"Look here warlord if you don't let me go sooner or later Xena will find you and she'll free me, and if she has to free me you won't be happy about it."
"Ha ha if you ask me Xena could come kick my ass any day," One of the warriors laughed making the rest laugh. Aristaeus however was not laughing, which Gabrielle thought might be a good thing, but then again sometimes it was better they were stupid.
"Silence!" They all shut up. "Hear me now, there will be no talk like that about Xena ever, you understand me?" They all looked shocked, Aristaeus usually enjoyed a good joke. "Do you understand me!"
"Yes sir," They gulped. Mentally Aristaeus had them by the balls and he had no intention of ever letting go.
"You meet her anywhere you are to treat her with respect, understood?" They all nodded gulping a bit more. Aristaeus looked at Gabrielle a bit menacing. "And as for you, well don't worry you won't be staying with us much longer little girl." He closed the curtain of fur. It was thick enough that any sounds outside were muffled. She could do nothing but sit in her corner and finish her lunch.
"Sir, what would you like us to do with her?" Aristaeus looked at his Captain, he didn't have a second in command, the right person had never walked a long until now. Xena would be his equal if nothing else, he knew she would never be anything less even if he tried.
"Whatever you do, don't let her go."
"Don't let her go sir?" Aristaeus nodded as they entered his tent. He went to his desk and looked at the map, he was headed for Amphipolis, but he wasn't interested in going anymore, he just wanted to go home. Home was in Libya once where he had ruled over a small and prosperous kingdom in happiness. But the Romans had been cruel and so he turned his people into nomads and traveled with them to Ethiopia. It was a nice place to live, and so his people turned warrior and conqueror some territory taking the people as their own, they settled down and conducted peace treaties to keep what they had stolen. And then Aristaeus was able to show them bee keeping a very useful gift.
"Yes, you see, Xena is in town, where the woman was headed, and if she makes it there I know that Xena will leave me."
"Sir what are you saying?"
"I intend to make Xena, my queen, you must understand that she and I have a connection and must never be parted. And Xena must love our people if she is to stay."
"So you wish to kidnap Xena to Libya?" Aristaeus rolled his eyes.
"No, never!" Aristaeus exclaimed. "To claim a woman like Xena is not through kidnap." The captain nodded
"But sir, she will come here than one day, she will see Gabrielle." Aristaeus shook his head.
"No, pick two men and bring them to me immediately." The captain nodded and did as he was told. Aristaeus first confided in all his men that he longed for Xena to return with them to home, and that Gabrielle was a threat. Everyone soon was in agreement that she should leave, but out of respect for Xena she would not leave by way of death, for that would be an ultimate crime against their future Queen.
"Listen carefully." The two men nodded as they listened to their King. "We will drug Gabrielle as soon as she is out, you will take her and travel to Chin." They nodded. "When you get to Chin I want you to head north, you will go so far NorthEast that there is hardly anyone around. Mind you to keep her drugged the entire way, she is not allowed to feed herself or do anything wrong."
"What do we do when we get that far Northeast?"
"Leave her, build a hut, map out water sources, get her a herd of goat or sheep, collect furs. I want you to make her a home, and make it seem like she's been there for years, understood?" They nodded. "Plant her a garden if you will, I want her to feel like she's already settled in."
"But she will follow us back to you." He shook his head.
"No, first be sure that she's in a spot where it will be years before any other human comes her way, second don't leave her a horse or anything, and thirdly drug her one last time before ridding yourself of the drugs and ride off. When she wakes I want no one there to answer her questions. I want her in perfect health and clean. She must not suspect a thing. We must be a distant memory that she's not quite sure is real."
"She'll come back for Xena, if they are as close as you say they are."
"Yes, I know, and I shall accept her than, that I promise, but for now she will come between Xena and I." They nodded. That night Gabrielle was drugged and they began their journey keeping to Aristaeus orders.
"Great, now I've been left by two people," Xena sulked. She had been out four times to their last camp site and there was no sign of Gabrielle anywhere at all. She had even spotted signs of an army, but found them more concerned with playing games and contests than actually doing anything bad. A strange bunch she had to admit, she even did a little digging for Gabrielle, but found quite literally no sign of her, though there were signs of a girl recently having been in their cage, but it was quite comfy and respectable for a cage, made Xena doubt they had even held her for very long and let alone harmed her, so she let them be, no need to cause trouble, not all armies had one agenda.
"Two people now?" Aristaeus asked. Xena smiled and hugged him fiercely kissing his cheek.
"You're back, I thought you had gone and deserted me as well."
"Not even close, I just had to prepare some things." Xena nodded.
"Than sit and have dinner with me, the look on your face tells me you've got something to tell me." Aristaeus nodded.
"I do have something to ask you, yes." Xena waved the barmaid over and soon he was eating while she drank some of her cider having already eaten her dinner.
"What's it you want to ask?"
"Well, we've known each other for a few days now, and I feel that's quite reasonable as we've got the rest of our lives to keep getting to know one another and I want you to be my Queen."
"Queen?" Xena asked suddenly confused. "You said you were a warrior."
"I am yes, first and foremost a warrior, I neglected to tell you that my father is Apollo, I grew up in Libya, but because of the Romans I have since taken my people to settle in Ethiopia. They need a queen, Xena and you are it."
"I don't do well with power, Aristaeus." Xena rubbed her arm nervously.
"It's not about power, this is about helping me guide people, I am like a father and you are like a mother. Are you going to tell me you don't know how to be a mother?"
"No, I learned to be one well enough," Xena told him sadly thinking of how she had missed out on both of her children's lives. After all these years it was the only thing that hurt her heart like nothing else even Gabrielle couldn't cause her that pain.
"What about Gabrielle and I simply can't leave Eve."
"We'll invite Eve along, I want her to come to my people and spread the message of love, being with you has made me realize the time of the Gods has come and gone."
"Apollo won't like me being your Queen."
"No, but it is not his decision anymore. How can you be sure that you and I were not destined to be King and Queen together?" Xena smiled.
"I do not see her here, she's not the person I wanted her to be for you, but I know I can make you happy." Xena gave it some thought, Gabrielle should have been here, and Xena would know if she were dead. She stopped thinking noticing that Aristaeus had more to say. "Besides why should you waste your time after a woman who obviously doesn't want to be chased."
"I cannot leave Greece without Eve by my side." He nodded.
"Than we shall send her a letter." Xena nodded happy with this arrangement concerning Eve.
"And Gabrielle?" Aristaeus knew Gabrielle was a big part of Xena's life, but he needed her away so that he would be too, than she could come back and he would share.
"We will leave her a note here or anywhere you like." Xena nodded.
"I know just the place." She sent a note to Gabrielle's hometown Lila would see to it that she got it if she ever showed. She sent another letter to Eve to meet her at the Athens harbor.
"Where am I?" Gabrielle groaned. She smelled fresh earth of the early morning, but her eyelids were far too heavy to lift. Besides she knew the moment she did sunlight would hurt her eyes and she didn't want that. In any case she knew she had too, it was quite obvious she wasn't in the cage anymore. She found shackles around her hands and feet making them even heavier, but before he knew it someone was shoving delicious meat into her mouth cooked and seasoned to perfection she began to tell them so and ask could she be released when they gave her several cups of water. Afterwards she felt so drowsy that any questions or thoughts were immediately put to rest.
"This is your army?" Xena asked. Aristaeus nodded. "I should have known, they were a little too docile to be a warlord's army." Everyone laughed and she was greeted with respect and served a delicious lunch to rival her mother's cooking.
"Men time to move out, Xena's daughter will be waiting for us at the harbor." They all nodded quickly packing up. Xena was satisfied with their efficiency and speed before they moved out heading for Athens. It was only two days to Athens harbor where a boat awaited them. Xena was seeing to getting proper feed for Argo on the ship when Eve arrived on their second day in Athens loading up supplies. After all they had in fact come to Greece for a reason hadn't they.
"Mother!" Eve exclaimed. Xena smiled widely and hugged her only child tightly.
"Eve, darling, I'm so glad you will come with me."
"I'm so glad you found happiness despite what Gabrielle has done." Xena nodded.
"I don't understand her after all we've been through, I guess I just must have been extremely wrong." Eve nodded.
"Aristaeus will not mind I brought some people with me, some rulers are not so kind and they have been traveling me in hopes of finding a place to settle with their families." Xena smiled and cupped Eve's cheek she was such a gentle soul.
"He will not mind, he has several poor families of Athens joining us, he's had to commandeer another boat." Eve nodded highly pleased with this. "Do you have any horses?" Eve shook her head.
"We borrowed some for the trip, but a man who intends to stay behind will take them back for us." Xena nodded. She led them to the ship for the poor.
"Aristaeus!" He came down off the boat with his shirt off. "This is Eve, my wonderful daughter."
"Nice to meet you, I look forward to learning the teachings of Eli." Eve smiled as he kissed her hand. She liked Aristaeus immediately finding a connection with him in some way. She hugged him.
"Nice to meet you, I look forward to seeing your home." Aristaeus nodded and bowed to the people behind Eve and motioned for them to go onto the boat. They did so immediately.
"If you ladies would join me over here, we need all the help we can get with organization and taking items on board." They nodded. Soon they were helping to load livestock onto the ships. Cattle, sheep, goats, horses, chickens, ducks, and gooses all to be domesticated and bred. Aristaeus had a talent for husbandry he had said.
"He treats you like an equal."
"Because he knows that I am his equal, I like it, it's a nice change from most men." Eve was silent nodding as she saved a young bird from the water.
"So… have you done it?" Xena raised an eyebrow at her usually pious daughter. "Oh don't look surprised, I have different values and beliefs, but I am still me no God can change that." Xena nodded satisfied with her answer.
"No, we have not done it as you say, it just hasn't felt right, I'm just content you know, it's not so important."
"Mother, no you don't not test ride the horse before you buy it." Xena snickered at her daughter, who looked at her quite seriously. "You mother need to test drive immediately before either of you get settled into this life your forming around one another. I haven't been here that long and even I can see you two are ready to settle down and be happy. And Aristaeus seems like a good man, but he doesn't seem like a very happy man at least not for some time until now." Xena sighed. "Mother, really what happens if you have sex later, but you're both settled and it's not good."
"We never have sex again?" Eve looked at her skeptically.
"Mother it maybe has been years for you and you should be fifty, but physically you're still in your early thirties, you need the sex." Xena looked across the way at Aristaeus with his shirt off she was attracted yes, and Eve had a point, you did not buy a horse before you rode it only a fool did.
"Eck! Do you always have to be right."
"I learned from the best." Xena nodded.
"HELP!" Gabrielle screamed.
"Damn it," the soldier muttered, they had just entered Persia a week ago, and Gabrielle had missed her dosage of drugs. He loaded up his dart with the drug and inserted it into the blowgun, soon she was out cold.
"All right let's get her cleaned up and moved on," muttered the other guard pleasantly. "We'll warm her meal up and feed her on the way. He nodded and they got her cleaned up and snug in her litter hiding the chains under her furs. No sense in attracting unwanted attention, but just in case, she was cold blooded assassin they were delivering back to Chin out of the goodness of their hearts. There was no need to attract thieves who would want her either thinking there was a reward. If they were dead, she would soon be killed when they figured out there was no reward in bringing her to Chin, and if she got away from those thieves, they will have also failed their job miserably, and that could not be allowed.
"Oh I'm sorry we have to keep you drugged, but we need Xena, want Xena to be our Queen, and you would ruin that happiness," One guard muttered to her.
"We can't let you convince her not to stay before she's stayed," the other guard muttered. Soon Gabrielle was being dragged further and further away.