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The Crucifix

by Helissa Begnoon (Sall)

Disclaimer: The characters Xena, Gabrielle, and Argo are products of MCA/Universal Channel. All others are real people some with names you recognize and some are names made up, for their names were never disclosed.

Warning: This story is jammed with religious content. There is hardly any violence, and no implied love between two women, only the love of God for his children. If you don't like it, read it anyway. Maybe you'll learn something.

Part One: The Passover

"I cannot believe I'm back on a boat! " Gabrielle said starting to get woozier. "You'd think I'd learn after that trip to Ithaca."

"You'll be all right," said her friend Xena: The warrior princess, as she patted the bard's back. "Besides, you were the one who wanted to go to Jerusalem in the first place."

"Well after we get back to Greece," Gabrielle started, "and if I even think of going any where that requires me riding on a boat, I want you to kill me." At hearing this the warrior bit the corners of her mouth to keep a smile from emerging.

 The travelers boarded the ship after Xena had received a message from a friend named Saul, a Roman soldier she met in her years as a warlord. He helped her escape from a Roman prison. In the letter he wrote of a man named Jesus, whose sole existence seemed to be angering the religious leaders in Jerusalem. Or so Saul thought. Gabrielle begged Xena for days, that they go to Jerusalem.

"What do you want to go there for?"  She asked the bard.

"Xena this is an opportunity to learn new stories and I get to travel the furthest I've ever traveled in my life!"

"We have to ride a boat," the princess warned, but the bard insisted.

"I can handle it."  She continued on and on until Xena finally gave in. Now there they were on the boat. The poor bard draped over the railing, and her friend, the warrior, was holding back her hair.

As Gabrielle recovered from her recent bout with her stomach, Xena said, "Remember that place at your wrist I showed you in Cecrops' ship, that would help you deal with seasickness?" The bard nodded her reply. "Use it," the warrior continued, "Trust me I wont let you eat anything that would kill you."  Gabrielle turned to face away from the water, frantically pressuring her wrist.

 Xena shook her head, sighed, and leaned back on the railing. The warrior observed the passengers on the boat, and also the crew. They had already been on the ship for four days. The passengers were mostly Jewish and very passive. Xena didn't feel threatened at all by them, The crew though, was another story.

"Land ho!" The shout came from the mast. Xena turned around and sure enough there it was, land!

"Yes!" Gabrielle replied in relief. Soon everyone on board ran to the railing. So Xena and Gabrielle went to get their things.

Xena couldn't bear to leave Ago behind, So she managed to get, or forced the crew to let her take the mare with her. Argo looked agitated, she was skittish. Xena stroked the majestic animal and said to her, "I'm sorry girl, it's almost over. I just didn't want to leave you back there alone for so long." Xena saddled Argo up, and led her out by the rains. As she emerged on deck Gabrielle reached her with their packs. "Let's get off this ship," she said rushing ahead of Xena. The warrior couldn't help chuckling at the bard's rush. She followed the bard calmly, there was no rush. Gabrielle's pace finally slowed as after she realized she was off the ramp. She looked back at the warrior, who was leading her horse with a grin on her face.

"What are you grinning at?" Xena only shook her head.

The bard walked on, after the woman with the horse caught up with her. "I know what you're thinking, but I just had to get off that ship... Hey!" The latter she added after realizing no one was outside. There it was the middle of the day, yet no one was there. Those who were out were either Roman soldiers, or in a hurry. "Why is everyone in such a hurry?"

"I don't know Gabrielle." The warrior stuck out one long arm, caught a man rushing by them with a large jar, and asked him, "What's the rush?"

The stunned man quickly recovered an answered, "It's Passover!"

"Passover?" asked Gabrielle.

"It's the day of unleavened bread. The day in which the Lord passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt, and spared our homes when he struck the Egyptians down."

The warrior let the man go, satisfied with the information. She watched the man more closely now, and found that he wasn't a man at all. He was a boy. Tall with dark hair. He kind of reminded her of her brother just before he died.

The boy looked them over as if he had just realized that they were travelers and said, "Hi, name is Jarrus. Have you any place to rest for Passover?"

Xena opened her mouth to say something but Gabrielle was faster. She said, "No, do you know of a place we can go?"

"Of course, but you can't go to the inns. They are all full. Come, stay with my family, we have lots of room."

"That would be great!"

"Follow me. I just need to get some well water."

"I don't think..." Xena started, but Gabrielle stopped her with an elbow to the stomach.

The warrior stared wide-eyed, and the bard knew she was in trouble. "It's a good way to get new stories." She added in an attempt to explain. Then the bard lunged forward after the boy, who had already started ahead. "Figures," Xena said under her breath, and followed behind them.

When they reached the well, twelve men were standing there. Xena and Gabrielle hung back to observe. As Jarrus approached the well, they stopped talking, and watched every move he made. Xena was watching too, and Gabrielle was no slacker either. They all watched each other warily.

"Hi," one of the men said, "I'm Matthew, and these are my friends." He introduced each of them by name. Then he added "Our teacher asked us to ask the master of your house for a room so that we could make preparations for our Passover meal." Xena raised a suspicious eyebrow but somehow she knew these guys were telling the truth. "Follow me," Jarrus said, and led his guests, male, female, and four-legged to his home.

The master of the house came to the door as he saw them approach. "Father," Jarrus said nervously, "these men are here because their teacher needs a room to make ready for Passover."

"Certainly," his father responded, "follow me." As he led the men they could hear him say, "I have a large upper room, all furnished, take a look."

The boy now turned his attention toward the warrior and her companions. "I suggest you care for your horse before sundown, that's when Passover starts. I'll take you to our stables."

He put the jar of water down by the door and started for the stables. Xena followed Jarrus, confident that she could trust these people. At least as far as I can throw them. She smiled at the thought as Jarrus opened the stable door.

"Thank you," she finally said. Jarrus gave her a sheepish grin and walked away. The travelers worked to care for the horse before sundown. Surprisingly, Gabrielle hadn't said a word since Matthew and his friends had joined them. Concerned, Xena asked, "Are you all right?"

"Yeah," was the bard's response.

"What's wrong Gabrielle?" the warrior insisted.

"Nothing, I was just thinking about how trusting Jarrus is."

"Not too long ago you would have done the same thing Gabrielle."

"But, what surprised me the most is that you trusted them too."

"Why do you say that?"

"You didn't say anything to the boy."

"Gab it wasn't my place to say anything."

"That never stopped you before!"

"Gab, do you trust me?"

"Yes but..."

"But nothing, let's leave it at that."

 They both grew silent for a moment, busy with their task. Then as an after-thought the bard asked, "How did they know to ask Jarrus?"

"They'd probably been asking every one who came to the well."

"But how did they know that anyone at all would come? You saw how empty the streets were."

"I don't know, maybe their teacher prophesized it. Who knows, there could be thousands of reasons."

"I guess you're right." The travelers continued their chores quietly. There wasn't that much to do except to feed, water, and brush Argo. They were through in no time. Xena decided against exercising Argo because of Passover. With my luck it might be taboo, she thought.

As the women walked toward the house, a man clad in white robes and red sash walked toward the house. Two of the men, Matthew, and one the travelers recognized as John, walked out to greet him saying, "Teacher, all is prepared."

"May God bless this house and the souls that live within it," the teacher replied his gratitude.

Before the teacher entered the house, he glanced at the two women, then walked on. A sense of peace filled the souls of the visitors as they entered the house of the father of Jarrus.

"Come in!" Jarrus said as they entered. "Let me introduce you to my father. Father, this is uh... what's your name again?"  he said to Gabrielle realizing he had never asked.

Quickly the bard extended her hand and said, "Hi, I'm Gabrielle, and this is Xena."

The father warmly took her hand and said, "Welcome, I'm Zeth and this is my wife, Sarai. Of course you've met my son." The latter he added as he extended a hand toward the rigid warrior.

Xena took his hand, smiled as warmly as she could, and said, "He's been very popular." Jarrus blushed at this comment. Xena smiled at him as she shook his mother's hand.

"Take a seat, Passover is about to begin. Let's say our prayers and eat," Sarai said. Xena and Gabrielle looked at each other and shrugged.

After a series of prayers imploring to their god for forgiveness and blessings, they started their meal. After dinner every one but Xena sat in rapt attention listening to Gabrielle, whom was dazzling their hosts with stories of Xena's adventures.

"And the bacchi descended on their victims like a pack of hungry wolves..." Xena's attention was interrupted by the slamming door of the upper room. Xena walked to the window. She saw the man she recognized as Judas, run down the street.

She didn't trust that Judas. He had a wild-eyed look about him. The kind that came from greed. Many of her men had the same look, and most of them ended up in Draco's army.

As she watched Judas run, the sun set completely. When she finally turned to her attention back to Gabrielle she was finishing the story from Xena's death.

"That's impossible!" replied Zeth, "She could not have awakened after being dead for three days!"

"She could, and she did." The bard said defiantly.

"Something like that happened here not too long ago," Jarrus started.

"It did?" Gabrielle brightened at the prospect of learning the story. Xena sat next to her interested in hearing something new for a change, yet she seemed apathetic.

"Yes but she was only dead for a few minutes," Zeth answered.

"It doesn't matter, dead is dead." Jarrus said

"These people don't want to hear that," Sarai said reproachfully.

"No!" Gabrielle replied "That's why I'm here. I wanted to learn your stories."

"Well," Zeth began, "a man named Jesus from Galilee, came to Jerusalem a while back. He is a great prophet, so a crowd welcomed him as he came into town. Then a man, the ruler of the synagogue came and crumbled at his feet. He was begging Jesus to come to his house because his daughter was dying."

"Jesus had been known to perform miracles, you know." Sarai picked up the story, "but something held him up in the crowd."

At this Jarrus jumped in. "It was a woman. She had been hemorrhaging for twelve years. She touched his robes and healed herself with it. He felt the touch even though there were many people around him. So he asked loudly, 'Who touched me?. Then the woman confessed in front of everyone. She wasn't even supposed to be around people."

"Why not?" Xena asked

"Because she was unclean," Sarai answered.

"Is she really healed?" asked Gabrielle fascinated.

"Yes, I saw her," Jarrus interjected, "I helped her."

"Why did you help her, if she was so unclean?" Xena asked

"If she hadn't gone to touch his cloak she would still be unclean," Xena nodded her approval.

With a questioning look Gabrielle asked Jarrus, "Was this man...this Jesus...was he angry with her?"

"No, he told her,  'Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.'"

"Wow," was all the bard could say about Jesus' compassion. Xena was impressed too.

"What does that have to do with waking from the dead?" the warrior asked.

"Well," Zeth answered, "She was the one who delayed his arriving to heal the sick girl! See, just then someone came from the house to say the girl had died, and not to bother Jesus any more. Jesus then turned to the rabbi and told him that all he had to do was believe and she would be healed. Jesus picked only two of his followers and headed into the house. He sent away every one but family members. That included the doctor. When he came out he laughed at Jesus because he dismissed everyone saying the girl was only asleep. He assured us she was dead and there was nothing any one could do for her. Minutes later the girl was up and about the house."

"Later we found out that all he had done was say 'My child get up,' and she did," Sarai continued

"Wow," Gabrielle said again in awe. The room went silent. Suddenly the bard asked, "Tell me the story of Passover. You told me that your god struck down the Egyptians. How?"

The family was happy to tell the story, and the visitors were eager listeners. Yes, even Xena; for she had never met anyone who put so much faith in a god.

The family told of Moses being found by a princess in a basket by the river. Xena and Gabrielle smiled, and thought of little Gabriel, found in a basket by the river by the warrior princess.

They told about how Moses got Israel out of bondage and the rules that their god had given them. Again the visitors remembered helping the Israelites, along with Autolycus to recover them. Xena remembered Autolycus reading those rules, the look on his face was priceless, the warrior thought with a smile.

They told another story of a man named Noah, he built an ark. It sounded incredibly similar to a story Gabrielle had once told her. The one about Deucalion and The Great Floods of Zeus. So many stories were so similar that she wondered if they were the same one . What if Zeus was actually the god they spoke of. Nah, their god is love, I know Zeus, and he only loves himself. She thought putting that thought out of her mind.

Passages taken from: Luke 8:40 - 56 Luke 22:10 -12

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To be continued in Crucifix Part 2