Convert this page to Pilot DOC FormatDISCLAIMERS: Xena: Warrior Princess, Gabrielle, Argo and all other characters who have appeared in the syndicated series Xena: Warrior Princess, together with the names, titles and backstory are the sole copyright property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement was intended in the writing of this fan fiction. Copyright to this story itself is held by James Fadden
NOT SPEAK HER NAME
by James Fadden aka Ritanserin (c) 1996
In the Sacred Forest, the Book of Life is writ, And no man born of woman can change a word of it.
The gentle pop of the wood in the campfire sent flights of sparks ascending in the night air. From a distant darkness came the soft whinny of Argo, as Xena checked on him before settling in. Gabrielle sat alone, unmoving, staring into the fire. A single tear escaped the confines of her eye and made its solitary way down her cheek.
Her task done Xena returned slowly to the campfire. As she drew closer, she saw the sadness in the posture of her companion, and hurried to her side. Kneeling down, she put her arm gently across Gabrielle's shoulder and bent her head down to look into her face.
"Gabrielle? What's wrong?"
Gabrielle sniffed, and wiped away the tear.
"I don't understand," she replied.
"Understand what, Gabrielle?"
"I don't understand the things I do. Its like I'm not myself anymore...I do things and I don't know why..."
"What things have you done?"
"Like..like..like marrying Perdicus. I don't know why I did it, Xena, I really don't. I mean, I felt sorry for him and all, but why would I want to marry him? But, then I just went and did it. It doesn't make sense..."
"Well, we all make mistakes; It's a part of life."
"But I hurt you Xena. I know I did. You know I would never hurt you, Xena. You know I would never leave you, don't you?"
"I know that."
"But I did, didn't I?"
"That's all in the past now, Gabrielle. Just put it behind you."
"No, Xena, its not. That's just it, it's not!"
Xena leaned closer, the concern in her expression growing deeper. Gabrielle waged a silent internal struggle for a moment. Then, with a deep sob, she recommenced her story.
"I can't say...things."
"What things, Gabrielle?"
"Like the other day,after we fought Callisto...I wanted to say something to you. I wanted...I wanted to tell you how much...how much I loved you...but when I...I don't understand it...when I tried to say your name all I could say was...'Perdicus'. I was going to say your name but then 'Perdicus' came out of my mouth...What's wrong with me?"
Gabrielle now burst into unrestrained tears, flinging herself forward into Xena's arms.
"Why can't I say I love you, Xena?"
Xena pulled her in tight and gently stroked her hair, while Gabrielle buried her face in Xena's shoulder.
"Oh Gabrielle, Gabrielle...my poor Gabrielle."
The two remained locked together , Gabrille weeping softly, and Xena stroking her hair and gently rocking back and forth.
Gadually the weeping diminished in intensity and then Gabrielle wiped a hand across her face and pulled back to look Xena in the eye.
"Do you understand what is happening to me?"
Xena thought for a moment before replying.
"Gabrielle, have you ever heard of The Writers?"
Curiosity was now mixed with the sadness on Gabrielle's face.
"The Writers? The ones who are said to live in the Sacred Forest and write the Book of Life. But I thought that that was a myth."
"No, The Writers are real. They are deities more powerful than the Gods, more powerful even than the Fates. And there is not a word we say or a thing we do, be we mortal or god, that had not first been set down in their writing."
"But why would they make me say these things? Are they cruel?"
"No, I don't think so. You see no one in this world is completely free Gabrielle. Even The Writers may have deities and forces that run their lives...forces that we can barely comprehend. It may be that they do not wish you to do these things, but they may have no choice."
"It sounds like a cruel world."
"Yes, it can be."
They remained in silence as Gabrielle reflected on Xena's story. Then Gabrielle spoke again.
"But what do we do, Xena? I don't know how much more of this I can take."
Xena thought again, and, her face brightening a bit she replied.
"I have a plan."
"You always do," said Gabrielle, the flicker of smile crossing her face for the first time that evening.
"We need a code."
"Remember when we infiltrated the palace of King Melis?"
"Oh, yes! And when you said the word 'wine', that was my signal to take the slavegirls out the back entrance."
"Right. Well we need something like that now. From now on, any time you want to say something nice to me, you just go along with what The Writers want and you say 'Perdicus'. But you will know, and I will know, that you really mean Xena. And if I want to say something nice to you I will use a code name too, say...'Marcus'. What do you think?"
Gabrielle looked sceptical, but the sadness on her face was much less evident now.
"Go on, you try it..." urged Xena.
"I love you...Perdicus."
"I love you, too...Marcus."
The tension suddenly broken, the two of them burst into laughter and embraced once again, this time in boistrous humor rather than despair. When they pulled apart, Xena shifted postion and sat beside Gabrielle.
"You haven't finshed your nutbread..." she remarked.
"You want a piece?" replied Gabrielle, breaking the chunk of bread in two and handing one to her companion.
They sat together, sharing the nutbread and each other's company.
Eventually the fire began to die down, and Xena arose to put on another log. Gabrielle watched Xena as she knelt beside the fire, Xena's face a radiant gold, her eyes shining. Never had she looked more beautiful, thought Gabrielle.
As she watched, her eyes began to smile with a mischievous glint. She shifted position so that she lay on her side with her head on one arm and one leg bent seductively. Then, in a gently mocking sing-song, she called out.
"Hey, Perdicus...your wife is getting lonely..."