7.08 Burying the Dead


ACT TWO

FADE IN

Dawn. A marble statue of Zeus, his arm raised as if preparing to throw a thunderbolt. Instead of the thunderbolt, a stream of water flows from his hand. The camera moves back, and we see that it is a fountain, set in the center of a small leafy garden. The only sounds are the gurgle of water and the chirruping of birds. Xena is leaning on the side of the fountain, looking down into the water.

GABRIELLE'S VOICE:
     There are heralds all over the city, proclaiming Creon's decree.

Xena looks up as Gabrielle comes up beside her.

XENA:
     I know.

GABRIELLE:
     And a permanent guard near Polyneices' body. (fretfully) I would never have expected this of Creon. He's determined to make an example of those men out there.

XENA:
     He made a rash decision, and now he's sticking by it.

GABRIELLE (sighing):
     The years have not been kind to him.

XENA:
     Nor to any of us.

She turns to regard the statue of Zeus. Gabrielle follows her gaze.

XENA:
     He thinks it's for the best. (nods at the statue) So did he. So did Athena.

GABRIELLE:
     You mean, the Twilight? Trying to kill Eve to save Olympus?

Xena talking to Gabrielle

XENA:
     I mean everything. (looks back to Gabrielle) The gods were protecting their own power. We thought that without them, we'd be free to be human. But look at Creon: he may not have wanted to be King, but now that he is, he's making decisions for the city--not the people.

GABRIELLE:
     The "greater good"?

XENA:
     Yeah. You could call it that. (bitterly) Eli was right. We don't need the gods. We make our own lives miserable just as well without them.

Gabrielle looks likes she's trying to make a decision, then speaks.

GABRIELLE:
     We may have even more problems than we thought.

XENA (half-smile):
     Well, it's not like I was doing anything this weekend anyway...

Her smile disappears abruptly at Gabrielle's worried expression.

XENA (alarmed):
     Gabrielle--what is it?

GABRIELLE:
     Antigone. Xena, I think it was her. She did it.

XENA:
     Did what?

GABRIELLE:
     Buried Polyneices' body. (rushes ahead) When the guards told Creon about the burial--the look on her face. She really scared me, the way she looked at Creon. Like she wished it was him in her brother's place.

XENA (slowly):
     It's got to be tough on her, losing both her brothers in one day. Even without Creon's decree. She needs time.

GABRIELLE:
     It's...more than that. There's something about her. She's angry, and alone. I tried talking to her, but she won't let anyone close.

XENA:
     Losing a brother will do that to you. (pause) Antigone has to find her own way to live with the pain. She's lucky to have you there for her.

GABRIELLE:
     She wants to be a hero.

XENA:
     She's young.

GABRIELLE:
     Xena, if she did do it--

Xena gets up, turning to go.

XENA:
     I can't say I'd blame her. Keep an eye on her while I'm gone, Gabrielle.

GABRIELLE (also getting up):
     Where are you going?

XENA:
     To talk to someone who may be able to help.

GABRIELLE:
     Help Antigone?

XENA:
     No. Creon.

GABRIELLE:
     Why don't I like the sound of that?

XENA (shrugs slightly):
     We all do what we've got to do.

CUT TO

Gabrielle walks along a corridor in the palace. There are ornate windows on the right, weak morning light dappling the floor. As the camera follows her, a closed door appears on the left. Gabrielle pauses beside it, then takes a breath and knocks. There is no answer. She knocks again, then tries the handle. Close-up of her hand as she turns the knob--the door swings inwards. Gabrielle pauses in the doorway.

GABRIELLE (calls out):
     Antigone?

She walks through the door and looks around. The camera pans to show the lavish interior of a ladies' sitting room. Several cushioned chairs are set by the window, a loom with a half-finished tapestry stands nearby. There is no one in the room.

GABRIELLE:
     Antigone? Oh!

A servant girl in a cloak tries to slip past Gabrielle.

GABRIELLE:
     Oh, I'm sorry--is your mistress in?

SERVANT (without looking up, mumbles):
     She's...indisposed.

Gabrielle's eyes widen slightly, she lays her hand on the girl's shoulder.

GABRIELLE:
     Antigone? What...what are you doing?

The girl pulls down the hood of her cloak--it is, indeed, Antigone. She is holding something in her hands, trying to conceal it.

GABRIELLE:
     What's that?

ANTIGONE (defensively):
     Nothing important--to you. (hides her hands) I have quite enough people trying to police my comings and goings as it is. I thought you were different. (she narrows her eyes) Or did my uncle send you to...keep an eye on me?

GABRIELLE:
     I'm not here to "keep an eye on you". I want to help you, Antigone--it's a hard situation to be in. And it's not getting any easier. I just thought we could...talk?

ANTIGONE (softening a little):
     So, talk.

GABRIELLE:
     All right... (looks at Antigone's attire) Why are you dressed as a servant?

ANTIGONE:
     Your idea of "talking" is interrogating a princess about her dress?

GABRIELLE (soothingly, but with a slight edge of impatience):
     You don't have to tell me anything you don't want to. I was just wondering why a princess should dress like a servant to go out into the city.

Antigone looks up defiantly.

ANTIGONE:
     You want to help me, Gabrielle?

GABRIELLE:
     Of course...

Antigone draws her hands from under the folds of her cloak: she is holding the toy shovel we saw before.

ANTIGONE:
     Then help me bury my brother.

GABRIELLE:
     Wh... How did you get that?

ANTIGONE:
     It's mine. I took it back. (impatient) So, are you going to help me? I don't have a lot of time before they start looking for me.

Gabrielle talking to Antigone

GABRIELLE (indicating the shovel):
     They'll be looking for that, too. (shakes her head) Antigone... You can't go out there, in broad daylight--there are guards at the body now. You'll be caught, and if you are...

ANTIGONE:
     So all those stories of yours--they were just lies? You're nothing but a coward. (she swallows, then softens her tone) Gabrielle... Please. Try to understand. I know it's too late for my brother. And I know what my uncle's decree says. But I must do this, don't you understand? How would you feel if it was your brother's body lying out there, for the birds and the dogs to pick to pieces?

GABRIELLE (whispering):
     I...don't have a brother.

ANTIGONE:
     Sister then--mother, father... Friend. Xena. How would you feel if it was Xena's body, left to rot because someone said it must be so?

Gabrielle looks faintly sick. A shadow of triumph crosses Antigone's fine-boned face, then she grows earnest again.

ANTIGONE:
     It's the only thing I can do for him now--no decree will stop me doing what is right. And I'm going to do it, with or without your help. Are you going to run to my uncle and report me? You should, you know.

GABRIELLE:
     I'll help.

Antigone scrutinizes Gabrielle's face, then nods slowly.

ANTIGONE:
     You are different.

CUT TO

Outside the city, guards are patrolling the battleground. The sun is well above the horizon now, warming the air. There is a buzzing noise, as the camera moves towards the bodies, swarms of flies and other insects become visible.

The three guards from the night before are sitting on a hillock, playing knucklebones. Beside them, Polyneices' body is lying on the ground, once again unburied. The camera pans around, so that the body is hidden by the hillock.

GUARD #3 (slamming his hand down):
     Ha! I win!

He chokes and starts coughing, then holds his hand over his nose and mouth.

GUARD #1:
     Told you they were gonna smell. (squints at the sun) In this weather, even the dogs aren't gonna want 'em.

He takes a dirty handkerchief from his sleeve and wipes his forehead.

GUARD #2 (to someone off-camera):
     Hey! What do you think you're doin'? No one is suppose' to be out here.

He gets up, reaching for his spear. The camera pans right, to show Gabrielle carrying a closed wicker basket.

GABRIELLE (smiles):
     I thought you could use a drink. (she raises the basket) And something to eat.

Behind them, a small figure scuttles past and disappears behind the hillock, where Polyneices' body is. Gabrielle moves slightly to block the guards' view.

GUARD #2:
     Thank'ee kindly, but rules is rules. You shouldn't be out here.

GUARD #3 (to Guard #2):
     She could jus' leave the food, though, right?

GUARD #1:
     Wait a minute, I recognize you! You're the bard--Xena's friend.

GABRIELLE:
     Yeah--I'm Gabrielle.

GUARD #2:
     I'm Davos. In charge here. Ye shouldn't...

GABRIELLE: (opens the basket):
     Davos. There's bread and cheese, and olives-- (takes out a wineskin) --and wine.

She steps sideways, again blocking Antigone from view.

GABRIELLE:
     Could I sit down?

The guards look at each other uncertainly, then Davos sits back down, leaving room for Gabrielle. She puts the basket over the finished game; the guards reach for the food.

In the background, Antigone's face is visible for a moment, as she checks that the guards aren't watching. Gabrielle again moves, almost imperceptibly.

DAVOS (through mouthful of food):
     You write great stories, y'know.

GABRIELLE (with genuine surprise):
     You've read them?

DAVOS (enthusiastically):
     Oh, yeah. There was the one about the centaur baby--that one's my favorite, but they're all great...I write a bit meself, truth to tell. Nothin' serious, mind--just muckin' around...

Gabrielle and the other two guards look stunned.

GABRIELLE:
     Uh...really? That's wonderful. (gives the man an encouraging smile) I'd love to hear your stories, if you have any scrolls with you.

DAVOS (embarrassed):
     Well, as a matter o' fact...

He fumbles with his clothes, at last retrieving a small, sullied scroll. Gabrielle sneaks a glance in Antigone's direction, then looks back at the guard, who is unrolling the parchment.

DAVOS:
     Yer sure you wanna hear it? It's really not very good...

GUARD #3 (tearing off another piece of bread):
     'Course we wanna hear it! (snickers, elbowing Guard #1) Think ya know a man, huh?

GABRIELLE (sharply):
     It takes a lot of courage to let others hear your work. (to Davos) Go on, please.

DAVOS (clears his throat):
     Ahem. (shift uncomfortably) Won... (takes a deep breath, and continues with feeling) Wonders are many, and none is more wonderful than man; the power that crosses the white sea, driven by the stormy south-wind...

The other guards stop eating and listen, open-mouthed. Guard #1 drops an olive from his mouth; it rolls to the ground. He dives down to pick it up.

DAVOS (continues):
     ...making a path under surges that threaten to engulf him...

He is interrupted by a sudden noise.

GUARD #1 (jumps up):
     The body! (yells) Stop, whoever you are!

Davos stuffs his scroll hurriedly into his sleeve and gets up; Gabrielle follows. The camera pans right--Guard #1 is hauling Antigone back by her arm, she is struggling.

ANTIGONE:
     Get your filthy hands off me!

DAVOS (taking her other arm):
     You're the one with the mud on your hands, princess. (with some sympathy) Sorry--but we gotta take ye back. Rules is rules. (to Gabrielle) I'm awful sorry 'bout this, I 'preciate your listenin' an' all. It was a real honor.

Gabrielle looks horrified, trying to catch Antigone's eyes. The princess looks back defiantly. Gabrielle manages an absentminded nod at the guard.

GABRIELLE:
     Honor. Yes.

Antigone is taken away as we:

FADE OUT

END OF ACT TWO