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A Past Remembered

By Anita Louise

Copyright 1997

Chapter Nineteen

When Gabrielle woke, Sea was not in the cabin. She hurriedly dressed and went topside to find the woman. As she hurried onto the deck, she ran into Saxton who was on his way below. "What's your hurry Gabrielle?"

She smiled at him and said, "Looking for Sea."

He shook his head and said, "Don't you know?"

She asked, "Know what?"

He answered, "The Captain and several members of the crew have gone ashore. They left in the middle of the night."

The woman's face immediately changed from one of excitement to disappointment as she asked, "Sea left the ship last night? Why? She never said anything to me."

He answered, "I never question the Captain, as close as you two are, I would have thought you knew."

"When are they coming back?"

He walked past her and said, "Don't know, we were given orders to anchor here till she returns." Gabrielle watched the man walk away as she walked over to the rail and stared out at the form of land looming in the distance. Why hadn't Sea told her she was leaving the ship? Why didn't she tell her what she was up to? This was not like the Sea she had grown so fond of.

There had been ten turns of the sandglass and Sea hadn't returned. Gabrielle paced the ships deck from stem to stern, she tried to keep busy but there was just so much she could do before thoughts of Sea invaded her mind. Where had the woman gone? Why didn't she tell her. She was beginning to feel despair.

"Look Alive, Captain's coming!"

She heard Saxton's voice booming at the crew as her eyes lit up and a look of anticipation crossed her face. She ran to stand by his side as they watched the longboat pull up to the ship. Sea was standing, she had that authoritative look about her face, her legs spread, hands on her hips as she slung out orders. Gabrielle's stomach was in knots, she was full of anticipation, she hadn't seen the woman for sometime. As Sea's right hand grabbed the railing, Gabrielle reached out and grasped it. The woman stared up at the Bard, then climbed aboard. Gabrielle waited for her to speak but she brushed by her and walked up to Saxton saying, "Everything ok here?" He nodded and she said, "Get the ship ready to sail, we are heading back toward Olympia." She headed toward the cabin. Gabrielle stared at Saxton then she hurried after the woman.

When she entered the cabin, Sea's back was to her, she was going through some parchments that lay on the desk.


"Yes, Gabrielle, what is it?"

Gabrielle approached the woman and said, "I've been worried, you didn't tell me you were leaving the ship."

The woman turned to face the Bard, her veneer was somber as she said, "Get used to it, I am the Captain and what I do is my business. There was no need to worry about me, I can take care of myself."

The words were like a slap in the face as Gabrielle took a step back and said, "I care about you."

Sea's stern look appeared to be failing for a moment then the woman said, "I am taking you back to Olympia, from there you will be on your own. I had no right to think you would want to stay with me." She turned and left the room.

Tears shone in her eyes as she watched the door close. Her body was filled with so much pain at that moment she thought she would die. What had she done to turn this woman against her? She stayed in the cabin for a long period of time before she walked up on deck. It would be hard to see the crew staring at her and even harder to see the woman she cared so deeply about, regard her as if she wasn't there.

Gabrielle worked on the ship along side the men, getting the riggings ready, hoisting them, and maintaining the ship. From time to time she would glance toward the Helm and catch a glimpse of Sea. Several times their eyes met and she turned away. The pain that ricocheted through her body was unbearable, she had never had a feeling like this in her life. She only hoped it would ebb away soon. She was helping Saxton roll up some Hemp when the man looked at her with sympathy in his eyes and said, "What has the Captain so upset at you? I have never seen her like this"

Gabrielle answered, "I don't know."

After mess that evening, Gabrielle went down to the cabin, Sea was standing looking out the porthole. She turned when she heard the door close and said, "You worked hard today, you must be tired?"

Gabrielle bit at her lower lip and said, "No harder than anyone else. Want to tell me what has you so upset?"

Sea walked up to her placing her right hand on Gabrielle's shoulder and said, "Nothing, why don't you get some rest, I have things to do topside." Before Gabrielle could say anything the woman was gone. She waited for Sea to return but finally gave in to the sleep that invaded her body. Sometime during the night, she heard the cabin door open and close. She felt the presence of someone and as they sat on the bed she knew it was Sea. The smell of grog was heavy on the woman. She had managed to remove her boots and fell back on the bed. Gabrielle didn't move, she had been sleeping on her left side, her face to the wall. Sea groaned several times then rolled over and placed her right arm around Gabrielle's waist. The warmth of the woman's body against her's caused chills to travel her body, at the same time she felt a warm feeling flooding it. She placed her right-hand on Sea's and said, "Are you ok?" There wasn't any answer, so for that moment she closed her eyes feeling secure in this woman's embrace.

The next morning, Gabrielle awoke to the sounds of water splashing up against the ship. She looked around the room, it was empty except for her. Sea was gone again. As she dressed she wondered if she had dreamt the woman's arms around her last night. It didn't take long for her to make it up on deck and find Sea standing at the Helm. She walked up to her and said, "Good morning."

She acknowledged the Bard but that was all. Gabrielle walked over to her and said, "I can't take anymore of this. Tell me what I have done, I will change. Your ignoring me is cutting deep."

Sea gazed at her and said, "You are not the only one that is hurting, it is tearing me apart to be taking you back. I know that is what you want. If I distance myself from you maybe I can make it through my loss of you."

"Gabrielle replied, "Life is so short, why must we hurt one another so. I won't lie, I love Xena but I also know I love you. At least don't shut me out completely. About last night, I felt I was home again, in your arms." She turned and walked away leaving Sea to look longingly after her.

As the days passed, the ship was coming closer to Olympia. Gabrielle had found out that Sea had met with envoys of Captain Blackird, the time she was gone from the ship for so long. They had made a deal to join forces. She now knew one of the reasons she was heading for Olympia was to meet with Captain Blackird.

Sea had at least begun to talk with the Bard, she still tried to keep her distance but the tension wasn't as bad as it had been. Gabrielle could see the city of Olympia looming in the distance as she walked up to Sea. The woman smiled down at her and said, "It won't be long, you will be on a journey of your own, to find the woman you love."

Gabrielle sighed as she said, "You are so much like Xena, both of you are so thick at times, you never get it."

Sea replied, "I don't even want to know what it is I don't get. Gabrielle..." Her voice was soft and caring, the dullness had left her eyes as they sparkled into Gabrielle's, she said, "This is really for the best, a life with me onboard The Bounty, may one day end in tragedy, there is a big reward on my head and anyone caught with me would see the same fate. I will always love you but you must go home to Xena You must go while I still have the courage to send you."

Saxton had dropped anchor as the longboat was lowered over the side. Gabrielle watched all the goings on as she said, "What now?"

Sea answered, "You come ashore with us. Then, you go your way and we'll go about our business."

"You would dismiss me so easily? Gods, Sea!"

Sea bent down and placed a soft kiss on her forehead as she said, "Let's go."

Gabrielle sat staring at the form of this incredible woman as she said, "Sea..."

She turned and left the front of the boat, walked back to where Gabrielle sat and plopped down. She raised her left arm to the sky and said, "It's a beautiful day."

Gabrielle's look became serious as she said, "This is happening so quick, there are so many things I need to say."

Sea smiled as she gazed into the Bard's blue green eyes, "We've said all we need to say, tell Xena when you see her, never let you out of her sight again, next time I will not let you go so willingly."

Gabrielle replied, "You may never believe this, but this is the hardest thing I have ever done."

One of her men called back, "We are approaching land, get ready to go ashore."

Sea touched Gabrielle's right hand with her's and said, "This is it."

Her men pulled the boat on land as they waited for Sea and Gabrielle. The two women stood staring into one another's eyes as Sea said, "Go with my love." She turned and walked toward her men who were waiting at the boat.

"Surrender or die!" The words bellowed out at Sea as she turned to see Gabrielle in the hands of a soldier. He held a knife to the woman's throat as many more stepped from behind the rocks their weapons drawn. Sea gasped, "Gabrielle..." There were to many of them and she threw down her sword as her men followed. Their leader walked up to her and said, "I will be rewarded for this. The mighty Sea Troll and her mates, my prisoners."

Sea scowled at the man as she said, "How did you know I would be here today?"

He laughed and said, "Captain Blackird, he told us how to find you."

The woman cursed as she said, "Let the woman go, she has nothing to do with me. She was a prisoner and has earned her freedom home."

His right hand struck the woman with such vengeance it knocked her off her feet as Gabrielle screamed, "Sea! Don't hurt her!"

The man turned to look at Gabrielle as he said, "Just a prisoner, I think not, take them all to the prison!"

Sea was jerked to her feet as they pushed her past Gabrielle, the woman gave her a look she had seen Xena give her before.

The two women were thrown into a cell together and when they hit the floor, they both rolled. Gabrielle crawled over to Sea and said, "You're hurt, is it bad?"

Sea set up and said, "Just my honor. It's not easy being the most feared Pirate on the Ocean. That Bastard!"

Gabrielle replied, "You mean Captain Blackird?"

"I should have known the deal he proposed was to good to be true. I have to get you out of this."

Gabrielle leaned against the cold steel bars as she said, "We need to get us all out of this."

Sea glanced around at the smallness of the cell, it contained a clay pot, and a bare wooden bench, there were no windows. She rose to her feet and began to pace the room. Gabrielle followed suit as she said, "I'm sorry."

Sea turned to her and said, "Sorry, what in Hades for?"

"If it wasn't for me you wouldn't have set sail for Olympia."

The woman snarled, "In case you weren't listening, I made a deal with that sniveling coward, Blackird, la would have come here anyway. This is no fault of yours."

The coolness of the room was penetrating their bodies as Gabrielle said, "The least they could do is give us some blankets."

Sea laughed as she replied, "You haven't been held prisoner much have you? We are just lucky to be breathing, and for how much longer I don't know."

They heard the clanging of metal doors and the footsteps coming their way as they turned to face the impending men. Before long several torches lit up the area as the Captain of the Guards walked over to the bars and stared in at the two women. Sea walked over to the door and said, "Let Gabrielle go, she has done nothing, it's me you want anyway."

He laughed as he said, "That's right, but now I have two for one." He turned to one of the men and said, "Read it."

The man stepped forward as he unrolled a parchment and read, "Sea Troll, and Gabrielle, you have been found guilty of pirating on the high seas. You will be executed tomorrow at first light. This is to take place in the town square."

Sea grabbed for the man and said, "Haven't you any compassion, this woman was in the wrong place, she has family, let her go home to them."

Gabrielle stepped forward and pushed the woman back as she glared into the man' eyes, "Maybe I haven't been a Pirate, maybe I haven't done the things you are accusing Sea of, but if I had it to do again I would. I will only die once, but I will hate you forever. If Sea dies, so do I."

"No, Gabrielle, take it back." Sea was amazed at the courage of this woman.

The man laughed as he said, "Try to get a good nights sleep ladies, for tomorrow you visit Hades." He turned and left followed by the others.

Sea reached out and grabbed Gabrielle by her right arm as she said, "What were you trying to do get us killed?"

Gabrielle replied, "Sounds to me like that is what they have in mind anyway."

Sea grabbed the bars and shook them. She paced the room stopping long enough to kick over the wooden bench. Gabrielle watched the woman until she couldn't stand it anymore and stepped in front of her as she said, "Stop it! This isn't helping."

Sea stared at her in the darkness of the cell and said, "Who is it hurting?"

Gabrielle cried, "Me, it's hurting me. I hurt inside every time I see you in pain. Please come sit down, try to calm yourself."

Sea walked over and sat down on the floor as she said, "I'm sorry, I'm not used to being locked up and I'm definitely not used to being told I have only one night left of my life. I always thought I would die at sea, the result of a lucky swordsman. But to die in a public square by having my head loped of while all these people stand around like I'm some blasted recreation for them. It's driving me crazy."

Gabrielle got to her feet and took several paces as she said, "In case you haven't looked, you are not alone in this, so if your head is going to be loped off, I guess that is what is in store for me also."

Sea jumped to her feet as she reached out and grabbed the woman and said, "I'm sorry, it was thoughtless of me, I have been thinking about myself and this has to be doing the same thing to you. Forgive me."

Gabrielle turned and faced her as she said, "If I have to die, then I will be proud to die by you." Sea gathered the woman in her arms drawing her close as she said, "Dear, dear, Gabrielle, I have been such a fool. Your reference to my being thick, I think I understand it now.

Xena had enjoyed the feel of the Raven as it sped through the water. The crisp taste of salt and sea spray was a feeling she had forgotten. The Captain seemed to be all right, he treated his men with respect and they gave it right back to the man. They hadn't been out to sea very long when she overheard several of the men talking. She was close enough to pick up their conversation. "I hear they will die tomorrow."

A lower voice answered, "I'll bet it was a sight to finally see her caught."

Xena stepped out as she said, "Tell me boys, see who caught?"

They all glanced at one another then one said, "Sea Troll and her friend." He laughed and the others joined in. Xena stepped close to the man, she was holding a strand of Hemp as she said, "Sounds interesting, I could use a good laugh."

Xena sat and listened to the man as he told of Captain Blackird's betrayal. It was all she could do not to give herself away as she said, "To bad about all that bounty."

The men stared at her and asked, "Bounty? what are you talking about?"

Xena told them that all the Bounty that was on Sea's ship was probably now being held in the Prison in Olympia. The men's faces showed greed as one stepped forward and said, "How does one go about getting this?"

Xena replied, "We have to go back."

He replied, "Impossible, Captain will not turn around especially since it was him that turned them in."

Xena seemed to seethe as she said, "Are you going to keep doing his bidding or get smart and go back for all that bounty. It's just waiting for you."

Another man replied, "What about the Amazons?"

Xena asked, "Amazons?"

He continued, "Yeah, we got them aboard, taking them to Gaul."

Xena replied, "They will still be there regardless if we go back today. Think about it, me, I'm going back."

She walked away leaving them in deep conversation. Xena glanced around the ship, then she went below. Slowly she made it to the cargo hold. One of Blackird's men was standing in front of the door as she approached. He looked up and said, "Zandar, you are in a restricted area, the Captain will not like it, better turn around and go back."

Xena somersaulted through the air as her feet made solid impact on the man's face sending him reeling back into the door, his limp body slid to the floor. She reached down and took the key from his belt. Turning the key in the lock she slowly opened the door. It was dark inside but she could hear a few sounds. She stepped back out and took a torch from the wall then re-entered the room.

Holding the torch above her head she surveyed the room. There they were, the Amazons, and in the far corner she saw a beautiful palomino as she walked up to the women and said, "There isn't much time, we have to get out of here and back to Olympia." They asked why this man, they didn't even know, was willing to risk his life and she said, "It's me, Xena." She pulled the mustache off and they all stared in disbelief. Xena handed the key to the first one and said, "Release the others." She walked to the end of the room as she neared the horse she said, "Argo, old girl, I've missed you." The horse looked up as it's eyes widened, it snickered and she reached out and threw her arms around it's neck. "I can tell, you have missed me too."

Xena filled the women in on what had happened as they slowly left the room. One by one they took down the men, the Amazons were now heavily armed as Xena made it to the Captains cabin and yelled, "Captain Blackird, it's Zandar, there is trouble, you'd better come out and see." The man ran from the cabin right into the drawn swords of the Amazons.

Some of his men had joined Xena and the women, those that refused were shackled and taken to the hold. As Captain Blackird walked past Xena he stopped and stared, "I should have had you killed that first night."

She smiled wickedly and said, "But you didn't." She reached out and touched the tip of her sword to the man's throat and said, "My best friend is one of the prisoners that is being held in Olympia, you turned them in. If I don't get back in time to save her, I promise you, you will get to Tartarus quicker than you think."

Gabrielle sat shivering, Sea had been pacing the cell again as she turned and walked back over to the woman. She knelt down and said, "Is there anything I can do?"

Gabrielle replied, "Tell me this is all a nightmare, and I'll wake up and it will all be gone."

The woman sat down and placed her right arm around the Bard's shoulders and pulled her close. "You are cold, maybe if we sit like this, our bodies will give one another warmth."

It was so quiet that there was an eerie feeling in the room. Sea could sense her own body becoming cold as she said, "There is no getting past this, we will die tomorrow. I will be prepared as long as I know you are all right."

Gabrielle sobbed softly as she said, "I don't think I can be as brave as you. An arrow, anything but the ax."

Sea tried to comfort the woman but she, herself was fighting a fear that was mushrooming and she hoped she would be able to control herself for Gabrielle. Gabrielle laid her head on the woman's shoulder and said, "I hope that Xena will be happy."

Sea replied, "From all you have said, she is a strong woman, she will be all right." Sea brought her head down and placed several kisses on the top of Gabrielle's head.

Gabrielle set back as she tried to see the woman's face in the darkened room and said, "I'm sorry it couldn't have been the way you wanted. I will always carry you in my heart."

Sea replied, "Of all the people in this world, if I had to be smitten, I'm glad it has been you. You have changed my life in many ways, my men think for the better. I know it has been the best day in my life and every day after with you in it. My regret is, if I could have taken it back, the day you were shanghaied..."

Gabrielle reached out and cupped the woman's chin in her hand as she said, "Could haves are in the past. I will die tomorrow knowing I have shared a part of your fantastic life. I want you to know, I am proud and happy to have known you."

Sea reached up and grasped Gabrielle's hand and said, "And me also, I love you woman." Gabrielle's eyes never left the woman as Sea leaned over and pressed a gentle kiss on the Bard's lips then said, "Now, come lay with me. For tonight, we can lay close and try to shut out the impending daylight. If my last thoughts have to be, let them be that I shared my last night with the most beautiful woman in the world."

Gabrielle started to say something then she smiled as Sea lay pulling her down beside her.

Continued in Chapter Twenty