Misery in the Desert
Eve glanced up, shielding her eyes from the glare of the sun. Early afternoon. Not that she cared much. She dropped her hands to the ground and screamed in pure frustration: why was she still alive? She had no idea how long she had been wandering the desert, looking for some way to end her pain. She knew she didn't deserve to find it. No one who had committed the crimes she had did. All she deserved was to die in the slowest, most agonising way possible.
She hadn't had any food or water since that day, that day she had taken her troops to Ostia, where she had expected to find a group of Elijians ripe for slaughter. It made her feel sick even to think it. But instead, there was Xena, her mother, ready to fight her to the death... More than that, she was prepared to lose, in the vain hope that Eve - Livia - would see reason.
Reason, Eve thought bitterly, is sometimes best ignored. If the notion of reason came into things, her mother would not look practically the same age as her, and certainly wouldn't be in competition for Eve's own boyfriend. Or even, Eve would not be in competition for.... She wasn't even sure how to describe what she had seen of the relationship between the God of War and Xena. Ares clearly desired her mother, yet he seemed exasperated by her in equal measure. She honestly couldn't tell how deep his feelings for her went, but the look of total shock she had seen on his face in the arena when the warrior had caught them kissing had convinced her that they were more than mere lust. She just didn't know why it upset her so much; they deserved each other.
As for Xena, Eve had no idea. In the arena she had seemed repulsed, but she didn't know whether that was because of Ares himself or the fact that he had been kissing Livia. But if there was one thing Eve was sure of (and she wasn't sure of much anymore) it was that Xena could have made her point at the bacchanelia without looking as if she had enjoyed it nearly as much as she had.
Eve stumbled as she walked, rolling from reflex to minimise the impact as she hit the sand. The sun had burned her skin, though, and all she was wearing was the tattered remnants of her uniform. Grains of sand rubbed against her body, the pain intensified by their heat. Pinpricks of blood appeared all over her. She retched violently, although there was no food inside her to vomit up. Even that would have been something of a release.
Everything was slipping out of focus, and Eve wondered if she had finally pushed her body to its limit. She wondered how she would be remembered. Rome's Champion, adored in the city, despised everywhere else. Although Augustus had been shocked to learn of the truth about her and Ares, she knew it wouldn't surprise many other people, if it ever became more than one of many rumours about her. Those who supported Livia could see the benefits to the Empire; those who didn't had plenty worse to say about her.
She wondered what it would be liked to be spoken of only in the past tense, and, for some reason, this struck her as absurdly funny. How could they do that when she was younger than most of those who would be doing the speaking?
For years, Eve had felt like she had been existing to please others - predominantly the bodiless entity that was Rome, Augustus, and to a lesser extent, Ares - never herself. Life seemed a chore; things that people viewed as wonderful generally weren't. All they showed you was that there was no magical pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, you could never achieve happiness. There was never a reward for struggling through it all, and Eve was sick of trying. Yet now, surely within moments of seeing which of her childish fantasies of the afterlife was most realistic, she wondered if there had ever been a chance of it all being different. She realised, with an odd, light, almost liberating sensation that it no longer mattered. She just wanted it to end.
The sun beat down on Eve, as she lay in the sand with the wind blowing around her. She was vaguely aware of some horses nearby, which relieved her. Perhaps the riders would kill her cleanly, save her these last few moments of torture.
A sharp whizzing noise aroused a dormant instinct in her, somehow enabling her to sit up in time to see what looked like Xena's chakram coming towards her head. Eve gazed at it fixedly. How fitting it was that her mother had 'enlightened' her, made her back into her daughter instead of a soulless butcher, yet now that her task was accomplished she had decided she didn't want a daughter.
Suddenly, barely a hand span from her, the weapon split into two pieces. They spun past her ears and rejoined behind her, continuing on their course.
The effort it had taken to sit up was too much, and Eve fell back, blacking out as she hit the ground. Her last thought was that it was incredibly ironic that one of her greatest desires had always been to have a mother of her own, but now that she did, she just wished the woman would leave her to die in peace. But then, her life had been violent, why shouldn't her death be?