saw her play tonight

Recently, I’ve seen a lot of posts taking stabs at Xena for taking the ‘subtext’ way out of LGBTQ+ representation during its six-year run. I would totally be on board with that if the show stopped at, say, season 3 or 4. But it didn’t.

The first few seasons showed our heroines in an unusually intimate friendship because that’s what the writers originally had intended Xena and Gabrielle to be, based off the Hercules and Iolaus mold. But their relationship seemed to grow beyond the writers. It developed a life of its own, and the writers began shifting their angle from 'intimate, saving friendship’ to 'lovers and soul mates.’

After season 6, I struggle to think who can call it subtext. Yes, it’s true that they never took the Ron Burgundy route and had Gabrielle scream out, “Xena and I had sex and now we are in looooove!”, but let’s face it, would that be in character? For either of them? By this stage in the game, the way I saw it, it didn’t need to be defined because it was pretty explicitly laid out after six years of following them around.

For instance, we’ll take the reincarnation episodes. Sure, the first stunt they pulled had Xena and Gabrielle getting romantically together while Xena was reincarnated into a man’s body. Technically gay because we tend to think of them as we knew them best: both women. But by the last reincarnation episode, 'Soul Possession’, we see Ares swap Xena and Joxer’s bodies so that she’s a woman again, more palatable to his taste. And what happens at the end of this episode? Xena and Gabrielle are still together. There’s nothing subtexty about Xena with her arm around now-red-headed wife Gabrielle saying, “I liked ya better blonde, but I can go with this!” Or let’s look at the Rheingold trilogy. They pulled the Disney, true love’s kiss can break Gabrielle’s sleeping curse move, but the trick was, only Gabrielle’s soul mate could walk through the flaming prison that kept her away from harm. Xena walked right through it and kissed Gabrielle- not on the forehead, not on the cheek, but on the lips- and, in true Sleeping Beauty fashion, Gabrielle was awakened. 

The Rheingold trilogy really opened the doors for our leading ladies’ sexualities. Xena was shown first manipulating Odin into believing she loved him, and then doing the same for the Rhine-Maiden. We’ve seen Xena’s varied past, explicitly shown with Borias and Ares, for instance, and heavily implied with Lao Ma and M'Lila, but, with the exception of Gabrielle, this may be the first episode we’ve seen Xena openly flirtatious and sexual with two sexes in the span of 43 minutes. Gabrielle, whose sexual history had been decidedly hetero for the first few seasons, had been gaining quite an array of romantic interests in the last few. It became a joke of the fandom that “everybody loves Gabrielle.” In the Rheingold trilogy, we see another woman take interest in Gabrielle: Brunhilda. The two develop a reliance upon each other until Brunhilda declares her love for our battling bard. And let’s also keep in mind that during all this, she was also dealing with Beowulf’s well-meant but badly-timed advances.

Gabrielle’s sexuality had also been explored with Aphrodite, let’s keep in mind. The goddess of love had always had a weakness for Gabrielle, and in season six’s 'The God You Know’, she essentially makes out with her, much to Gabrielle’s surprise. 

Of course, there’s the episode 'You Are Here’, one of the crackiest, strangest and most fantastic episodes in Xena history. We see defensive Xena telling the stage manager to “watch his hands” while giving Gabrielle a mic and we see, as love is restored with Aphrodite’s godhood, pink hearts falling all over our heroines as they gaze into each other’s eyes and smile. What’s drawn some heat is the end of the episode, where the reporter asks them for the hundredth time what the true history of their relationship is. Xena asks, “should we tell him?”, which is, of course, not a question you’d ask if you had nothing going on between you and your friend. But as she launches into her explanation, the camera “cuts out”. I don’t think this was the writers opting out. I think this was the writers having a laugh with the image of a straight man puzzled by their relationship to end an episode that was nothing short of ridiculous.

The most damning of all evidence is 'When Fates Collide.’ Basically AU fanfiction of itself, the episode explores what would have happened if Xena and Caesar had ruled together. Spoilers: Caesar is still a dick. Gabrielle is a playwright in this universe, and her play is being shown as entertainment in the Roman court. Xena automatically feels an attraction toward this work and to its creator. After the play is shown, they share this exchange:

Xena: “In the third act, you had your hero throw himself over the
cliff with no fear of dying– all for her. Do you really believe
that kind of love exists?”

Gabrielle: “That’s what we all dream about, isn’t it? Someone who
looks so deeply into our soul that– they’d find something worth
dying for.”

We see Caesar becoming bitter and jealous as he watches the women interact, and later on we hear Alti taunting Xena with, “I saw the way you looked at her tonight during the play. Wouldn’t Caesar give anything to have you look at him that way?”

As the plot goes on, Caesar has Gabrielle wrongly imprisoned, and Alti shows Xena what her true life really was. And as Caesar is about to crucify Gabrielle, she admits her connection with Xena, despite knowing nothing of her former life: "Xena– Xena– when I thought I was going to die– it all became so clear. My life is empty– despite my success. I write about love, but I’ve never felt it before. I will never forget you.“

Alti is sent to kill Gabrielle, and shows us foreshadowing of the Xena finale: "your story will end with your playwright unable to save her fallen angel.”

As they are recaptured, another exchange is had:

G: “Xena– when I’m with you– this emptiness that I have felt my entire life– is gone. You have to tell me what’s going on.”

X: “Caesar changed our fate– giving us this godforsaken world.”

G: “There must be something that I can do.”

X: “No– what you can do is get out of here alive. I have to go
through this alone.”

G: “I can’t let you die.”

X: “Some things are worth dying for. Isn’t that what your play
was about? Being prepared to sacrifice all for love?”

G: “For love.”

X: “In the other world, my destiny was linked to Caesar– and
that cross– and I hated them both– but now I realize that–
everything happens precisely as it should– precisely. …I’ll love you forever.”

It boggles my mind that people claim that is simply subtext. This is the quintessential Xena/Gabrielle episode in my mind, because it shows that no matter how fate is changed or manipulated, these ladies will always find each other because they are meant to be. And of course, we have, in A Friend in Need, Gabrielle’s tearful pleading that Xena is “all that matters to her”, Xena introducing Gabrielle as “her soul mate”, and Xena teaching Gabrielle the pinch while saying, “if I only had 30 seconds to live, this is how I’d want to live them- by staring into your eyes.”

In my opinion, the writers of Xena did not choose the easy way out. Seasons 5 and 6 blast through any and all subtexty vibes. They raise a child together, Xena has a poem written for Gabrielle by SAPPHO OF ALL PEOPLE, they are married in reincarnated forms, they are shown through all lands and fates as soul mates and two people who are madly in love. The intensity of their relationship defies explicit terms like 'girlfriends’ that the wider audience would comprehend, and after six seasons of watching these ladies grow and love, who needs that label, anyway? My grief with the writers is in episodes like 'Antony and Cleopatra’ where, I’ll admit, they made Xena treat Gabrielle like shit because of a guy. But for some reason, that blunder can almost be absolved by the beauty of the story they’ve put forth through six seasons, beauty that most shows nearly twenty years later are still afraid to put forth because of societal norms. 

Could Xena: Warrior Princess be told as a more explicit LGBTQ+ love story? Absolutely. But the show was never just a love story, even if it revolved around the relationship between its two protagonists. The show is about perseverance, overcoming odds, redemption and the power of forgiveness- both from others and from yourself. Xena is a powerful character behind a powerful story whose life was shaped by the love and unconditional support, understanding and forgiveness of Gabrielle. Their story moved at a pace that was realistic for the damage in Xena’s heart and the confusion surrounding Gabrielle’s character development. Their love proved to defy time and death, over and over and over again. 

Music of the Night (Part Six)

Hello Tomcats and Ladybugs! The last chapter! I hope you all liked this one! It wasn’t easy to write especially with the ‘Phantom of the Opera’ being one of my FAVORITE musicals of all time. Thank you for all the reblogs, likes, follows and comments. Only one more day till new year’s eve! vanilla107 xoxo

Dedicated to: thelastpilot for her amazing fanfiction that made me cry, laugh and squeal like a little girl.

Part one: http://vanilla107.tumblr.com/post/135734918500/the-music-of-the-night-part-one

Part two: http://vanilla107.tumblr.com/post/135735369620/music-of-the-night-part-two

Part three: http://vanilla107.tumblr.com/post/135837965125/music-of-the-night-part-three

Part four: http://vanilla107.tumblr.com/post/135994539435/music-of-the-night-part-four

Part five: http://vanilla107.tumblr.com/post/136208151645/music-of-the-night-part-5

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Marinette didn’t visit Adrien before the show. She was too caught up in the drama of one of the props going missing and the fact that he was Chat Noir. She found the missing prop when screaming was coming from Chloe’s dressing room.

“No! I must go on stage! It’s the final night! Let me go-!” The words were interuptted by a series of loud coughing. Everyone was crowded in front of Chloe’s door. Sabrina walked out with a frightened expression.

“She’s got bronchitis! She’ll never be able to reach the high notes and she can’t just start coughing when she needs to act!” Sabrina wailed. The whole cast froze. None of them really liked Chloe, but they didn’t have an understudy. Chloe insisted that she would be healthy during the show so that she wouldn’t need one.

The whole room erupted with panic.

“What are we going to do!”
“Chloe’s the only one who knows the part for Christine!”
“Will we have to cancel?”

“Everyone! Calm down! There’s no use in panicking about something that we can easily solve. We just need to find another Christine!” Ayla said confidently stepping forward. There were murmurs of uncertainty. “I know who can play the part!” exclaimed Adrien.

The crowd gathered around him. “Marinette.” he said. Marinette froze in shock and everyone stared at her. “I…I…” she stuttered nervously. Adrien took a step towards her and clasped her hand in his.

“Marinette, I know that you auditioned for Christine, I know you didn’t get the part because Chloe sabotaged your audition, I know that you know all of her lines as well as the songs because you were at all the rehersals even though you didn’t need to.” he whispered into her ear. Her eyes widened with surprise and he looked a her, pleading.

Marinette, please do this.“ All eyes were on her and Adrien. Marinette hesitated. She was still in shock from finding out he was Chat but the show needed to go on. “I…I’ll do it!” she said. The whole cast cheered with relief and Marinette was sent off to a dressing room.

She was dressed and had make-up on in less that 10 minutes. She hurriedly stepped on the stage and waited for the curtain to go up.

*******************

Marinette smiled as she and Adrien walked onto the stage for curtain call. The applause grew louder as the two walked on. Marinette smiled wider when she spotted her parents in the crowd. Roses were thrown into the stage as the curtain was slowly lowered.

Once they were all backstage, Marinette was in a tornado of hugs and compliments. Most of the hugs came from Ayla. “Marinette! I had no idea you could sing so well!” Rose squealed. “And your acting was amazing!” said a blushing Nathaneal ,who acted as Raoul. Marinette was just about to answer them when Chloe stormed in.

“So, Mariette managed to pull it off? *cough* Well that’s a miracle! *cough* considering that she had to take over from me! *cough*” Marinette glared at Chloe when her eyes wandered to two huge bouquets of roses sitting on one of the props tables. The one was a crimson red and the other was a pale pink.

Chloe spun around to see what Marinette was staring at. “Oh! They’re gorgeous! Probably for me!” Chloe said sashaying to the table. She picked up the card laying next to the red one and gasped.

“My Dearest Princess

I know that only leading ladies get bouquets like this but…you’re the leading Lady in my life.

XXX
Chat Noir

Chloe stared at Marinette with a new fury. ” HOW DID YOU GET CHAT NOIR’S ATTENTION?“ she coughed. "YOU’RE JUST A NOBODY!” Chloe screeched. Marinette felt anger wash over her and was about to say something when a warm hand touched her shoulder.

“Shut up, Chloe. Marinette is anything but a nobody. She’s kind, thoughtful and smart. I know that you sabotaged her audition.” he growled. There was a gasp from the cast.

“Adrikins…I don’t know that you’re talking about.” Chloe said quickly. “Don’t play dumb! You filled her water bottle with soda water, so that she got hiccups during her audition.” Mariette felt her heart squeeze with relief. “So, if anybody is a nobody around here…it’s you!”

Chloe turned bright red and she ran out of the room.

After all the props had been checked, Marinette walked to her dressing room to take off her costume. She wondered how she was going to talk to Chat that night. Just thinking about it made her bundle up with nerves. When she walked intoher heart stopped.

“C…Chat?” she whispered. He smiled his famous feline smile and swaggered to her. “Hello, Princess. I saw the play tonight.” Marinette swallowed. “Did you like it?” she asked. “Oh yes, very much. Although I liked tonights Christine better that the normal one.” he purred.

“You did?” Marinette felt her face go warm. “Yes, she sang better, acted better-” he paused and took another step forward until he was only a few centimeters apart from Marinette. “-She also kissed better too.”

“Chat!” Marinette squealed and he laughed. “I see you got my message.” he said looking at the crimson roses on the vanity. “Yes..they’re beautiful.” she said. “Who are the pink ones from?”

I don’t know…I haven’t checked.“ she said as she walked over to them and too out the card. It said:

Marinette

You can’t understand the joy in my heart. I’ve found my Lady. And it’s you. The only thing I want to know is…will you be my Lady?

Adrien.

Marinette too one of the pink roses and clasped it in her hands. He was standing right behind her. "Yes.” she whispered.
Marinette spun around and kisses him. His one hand in her hip and the other cupping her cheek.

His lips were soft and cool against her warm ones. There was a flash of green and Marinette new that she was now kissing Adrien. She gripped onto his shirt and deepened the kiss.

They must’ve kissed for a long time because once they came up for air ,they noticed that the whole crew was staring at them from the door. “Well it’s about time!” yelled Alix and everyone laughed. “After party anyone?” Rose asked. There were murmurs of agreement and they all went back to packing up.

“So…what is the plan now?” asked Marinette still a little overwhelmed from the kiss. “Well, continue our normal lives and Ladybug and Chat Noir…only we’ll be together.” Adrien said softly curling a finger around one of her curls.

“I like that plan.”

Laugher echoed down the corridors, kisses were taken and hugs given at the theatre. And no one could’ve asked for a better night.

Caesar runs his hands up and down Xena’s hips then leans in to kiss an exposed shoulder “it’s been a long time”, he whispers. Xena smirks and pats his hand. “ it’s been a long day” she tells him. There is nothing friendly about it at all. She is surprised though wen he turns away wanting to know were he is going. Since he is not needed here (translation not getting any tonight) there is a matter he needs to discuss with Brutus. Xena watches him leave then goes out on the balcony to stare at the night sky. Directly across from her is another balcony, and guess who should choose this moment to walk out? no other then the young playwright herself. Now dressed in blue and clutching the front of her gown. Xena looks surprised, then retreats to the shadows. I find that very odd..I don’t know why she is playing peek-a-boo because she slowly steps forward again, staring plaintively at Gabrielle as their eyes meet Gabrielle. Gabrielle bows slightly looking embarrassed and retreats back into her apartment as a voice sounds a voice behind Xena. It’s Alti.  

Alti smiles pleasantly and tells Xena “I saw the way you looked at her tonight during the play” Xena has the stoic mask firmly in place as Alti continues “wouldn’t Caesar give anything to have you look at him that way?” Uh hum (read in to that what you will) Xena is tired of this and demands what she wants.