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By Bardic
January 28th, 1999

Rated: PG - No, still no sex. How amazingly depressing... a small amount of violence. Simply reminiscing about it though. Author's Note: This one is a short thoughts story from Xena's POV. Finally! Hope you like it! Please contact me if you do. Or if you don't. Or if, like me, you often find your e-mail box depressingly empty - I'll accept anything (Almost. Except those "Free product" brochures that aren't free at all. They make me mad)

Disclaimers: Xena and Gabrielle belong to me! They're all mine! Mine I tell you! No one's taking them away from me this time!! Erhm, I mean, The characters of Xena and Gabrielle belong to MCA and all associated companies. See, I told you I was getting better, they're safe here for a little while longer...

I look down at my hands as they lay on the table, palms facing skywards in questionable offering. I see hard calluses from well-used weapons, and a faint scar from my early Chakram tossing days. There is another on my finger where I was line cut while fishing with Lyceus in my youth. Turning my hands over, they show clear signs of warrior-aging. Straining veins and tendons that roll like gentle waves as I move my fingers.

It is my hands that are my most stunning defeat.

With long practiced accuracy, my fingers can dam the flow of blood to a tight-lipped enemy's little used brain, or deaden the feeling of a friend who is hurting. Once, I would use them to snap a neck, or break an arm in my all-consuming blood lust and anger. With the wave of my hands I could ensure a man's death. Even now, I can see the rust colored stains of the blood that rests on my hands. No amount of scrubbing can cleanse this image from my mind; or my hands.

And yet, when she holds them...

When she holds them, she doesn't seem to notice just how blood-stained they really are.

I pick up my mug of ale and try to drink away the image of my unfaltering grip.

When she places her hands on mine, the contrast startles me. I am so ashamed by the vision that I have to look away. Her hands are so soft and so clean. Milky white where mine are caked and black. So pure and untouched. She has barely developed the calluses of her defensive weapon. She even supports the peaceful impression where her quill rests so naturally between her fingers.

And she holds my hands.

I look down at my hands, and I picture her fingers entwined and interlaced with mine.

It seems so natural for her to hold my hands. They become inseparable. Sometimes it is hard to tell where her hands end and mine begin. She clasps my hands as though they were her strength; her lifeline.

My hands mock me.

My hands, so gentle when she holds them, mock me now with their cold strength against the hard wood of the table. They mock me as I firmly grasp the handle of my mug and drain the warm liquid to dampen my reflections. Her hands: so lovingly caressing my own with the illusion of peacefulness they hold as she touches me. When her hands are on mine I can almost believe there is pure cleansing within them. And yet, I grip my sword after dressing her wounds and they scream their truth once more.

My hands are my most stunning defeat.

My hands are the constant reminder of the warrior I am, and the war they create to bring a sense of peace. Peace to everyone but me, with my bloodied hands. As I push myself away from the table and stand myself on unsteady feet, my hands glare back at me. Open fingers and palms facing skyward; my hands defeat my facade once more. Weapon calluses and warrior wounds, it is my hands that reveal the gateway to my soul.

I am the greatest enemy defeated at my own hands.


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