By Joseph Anderson

Refers to the episode Antony and Cleopatra and takes place sometime after Motherhood and the 25-year deep freeze.

Xena and Gabrielle belong to Renaissance Pictures and King Features. No copyright infringement is intended. This may not be sold and must contain notice of copyright.

The carefully catalogued shelves of scrolls surrounded them. Gabrielle's eyes lit up as she looked around the famous library. When they arrived in Alexandria, Gabrielle insisted on immediately coming here. The library eunuchs welcomed them courteously and led them to this room. There were scrolls here that would be of interest, they said. Gabrielle felt something odd in their manner but she thanked them. Sitting at a table her friend looked resigned, took out a slim knife and began cleaning her fingernails. The bard frowned at her.

"You know, Xena, there just might be something here you would be interested in."

"Yeah, sure. Whatever you say," the warrior muttered, examining something she'd dug out from under her thumbnail. She glanced up and saw the look on her friend's face. "Um...yeah there probably is stuff here I'd like."

Gabrielle rolled her eyes and disappeared into the stacks of scrolls. She reappeared with several that she carefully laid out on the table. Xena aimlessly picked one up and glanced at it as her friend eagerly opened another.

Xena opened her eyes and at first didn't know where she was. Then she remembered and slid her eyes over to see if Gabrielle knew she'd fallen asleep. Her friend was engrossed in a scroll. Xena said, "Yup, that was a pretty good epic ode thingy I just read there. I sure do feel all elevated now. I was just contemplating there a minute, how deep and all it was." Her friend hadn't reacted. "Gabrielle?" The bard raised her eyes and looked at her. "Gabrielle, what's wrong?"

In a choked voice the bard said, "I found something pretty interesting. They were right. I wonder what else is here."

"Why? What are you reading?"

"It's about Augustus Caesar...I mean Octavius. About what happened with Cleopatra and Brutus...." Her voice trailed off.

Xena finished her sentence for her. "And Mark Antony. Gabrielle, it haunts me...using him like that. I know killing Brutus was hard for you too. He used to be a good man. But it was for the best. We cleared the way for an idealist to rule Rome. I'm surprised Octavius managed to keep it though. He was such a na´ve kid."

"Xena....that's not what's bothering me."

"What is?"

"Xena, it's not surprising Octavius held onto power."


"This is a memoir by Agrippa, one of Augustus's generals. He's been with him since the early days."

"What's he say, Gabrielle?"

The bard cleared her throat and read; "Young Octavius spoke often with Great Caesar. Far into the night they discussed war and statecraft. Great Caesar knew his own weakness of arrogance and warned the boy against it in himself. Octavius agreed. He does not need others to acknowledge his brilliance."

Xena's mouth was dry. "Go on."

"I heard them speak once of Caesar's Thracian whore, the so-called Warrior Princess. Great Caesar told the boy how he divided her mind from her heart and crucified her. But since then she had eluded him and been a thorn in his side. Young Octavius said, 'Uncle Julius, she has eluded you because your own mind and heart are divided by anger. Uncle, if you had a magnificent horse and in its high spirits it kicked down its stall or even bit you, would you destroy it?'"

Gabrielle lowered the scroll. "Xena..."

"Keep reading, Gabrielle."

The bard continued, "Great Caesar warned, 'Xena is not to be underestimated. Perhaps my rivals will assassinate me. Then she will be your nemesis as she is mine." Gabrielle stopped again.

"Go on!" Xena hissed.

"Young Octavius replied, 'Uncle, if you are assassinated, Jupiter grant you are not, Xena herself will make me the greatest man in Rome. I will yoke the whore to my chariot, she will destroy my enemies, and I won't have to lift so much as a finger. And, Uncle Julius, afterwards I will not vaunt over her but smile and thank her, so she will aid me again if the need arises. The murderous harlot will serve your family more faithfully than any slave. Is that not better than wasting such a wonderful beast of burden?'

Great Caesar laughed and said he hoped Octavius could perform such a feat. They began to discuss other matters and Octavius asked many questions about Caesar's good friends, Mark Antony and the noble Brutus."

Gabrielle said, "After that it goes onto other stuff. Xena, there's something else I found too."

Xena put her face in her hands. "What?"

"Gaul and Egypt are Roman provinces now. Britain is conquered."

The dark woman said, "Well, that's not exactly a surprise, considering. Anyplace else?"

The bard said, "Greece."

Xena looked up.

Gabrielle continued, "And Spain and North Africa. The Mediterranean is a Roman lake."

The Warrior Princess rose, "It's all right. Pax Romana. He took care of Eve for me. Oh gods! I left my baby with him!" She stopped herself and said in an artificially calm voice "Octavius is a good ruler. That's why I helped him with Livia and Ares. Just like he said I would." Her voice was ragged. "It's justice."

"Justice? He used us!" Gabrielle said. Then she blushed as she remembered what she and Xena had done to Brutus and Antony.

Xena looked at her friend and her eyes were red. "He loved me, Gabrielle. Mark Antony loved me....and I could have loved him. But instead I betrayed him. I deserve this."

The bard was shocked. "You aren't going after Augustus now?"

"Kill him? Risk a civil war that could kill millions of innocent people? Antony loved Rome. He wouldn't want to see it ripped apart. I owe him that much."

"I'll bet he's worried about you reading this, Xena. At least Octavius is sweating." Gabrielle said grimly.

Xena smiled wanly, "I doubt it."

The End