of Heart Pt. 2
Xena Fanfiction, Xena fanfic, Xena fan fiction, Xena and
Gabrielle fanfiction, Xena fiction
These characters arenít mine. They belong to Mr. Tapert and
Co. Iím just borrowing them to vent. Itís not a happy tale
and it involves two women who once loved each other deeply. If
either of these facts disturb you donít read this tale. Also
it contains spoilers for the last few eps of season five.
Note: Like most Xena Gab shippers season five was a joke
and the ender, with Xena hitting Gabby in the head with her
chakram was the straw that broke the camel's back. I wrote
this series in response to my anger and the total character assignation
of season five. Enjoy!
is traveling alone after 'Motherhood' (Season Five) when she
finds a young admirer, while Xena and Eve continue to travel,
searching for an old friend, Hercules.
Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Changes of Heart
Itís a gloriously
sunny day; not that one could tell by the dim in here.
Gabrielle sat at
the bar in the dark tavern, her back to the barkeep and her
eyes watching the patrons around her. Perhaps itís an
unwritten rule in every drinking establishment that they have
poor lighting and even poorer clientele. She was on the verge
of taking a sip of her ale when she noticed a woman
approaching her on the left with a crooked grin. She looked
like a walking tree, as tall as Xena, but not nearly as
beautiful. A small scar ran down the right side of her cheek
and her broad shoulders were protected by armor that looked
like it hadnít seen polish in about three years. Oh boy,
Gabrielle sighed nervously to herself as the woman got closer
and the smile got wider.
name?" the woman asked cocking her head waiting for a
A few seconds
passed and Gabrielle added no more. Get a clue Adonis wannabe.
The woman released a chuckle at Gabrielleís Ďhard to getí
"Why donít I
buy you a drink? It will loosen you up, Iím sure," she
replied, running her fingertips down the bard's arm.
thanks," Gabrielle said finally making eye contact.
"I have one already. See?" the bard replied, showing
her mug of ale before taking another sip.
notice, but a cloaked woman at the far end of the bar was
taking the scene in with a great bit of interest, however she
The admirer was
starting to lose her patience, however, and her finger trail
became a firm grasp on the bardís arm.
acting like youíre too good for me missy or Iíll show you
just how well suited I am for you." The woman tried to
nuzzle against Gabrielleís ear, but the bard reared her head
back and hit her admirer square in the forehead, knocking the
intruder a good four feet back.
want any trouble," Gabrielle announced. Damn it my
head hurts. How in the hell does Xena do it so easy? Right.
Sheís hard headed. Shake it off. Shake it off. "Iím
not looking for a one night stand or happily ever after. Iím
looking for... me. Thank you for the offer, but I'll repeat, Iím
The woman cracked
her neck and menaced closer to Gabrielle.
not good enough," she said getting closer.
Gabrielle held her
ground, keeping an eye on the intruder, but also staying aware
of her surroundings. Stay focused, Gabrielle. Even breaths.
Be bold. The advice of Xena came to her mind. 60
percent of any battle is between the ears, the other is just
muscle. Who ever can psyche the other will always be the
winner. Gabrielle threw a cocky grin on her face, although
at the moment she felt anything but confident. "Do I have
to kill you? How about if I just beat the stuffing out of you
gambling woman, eh?" the admirer taunted.
not a bad idea. "Yeah, Iím a gambling woman. What
do you say? Do you feel like youíre in a winning mood? Iíve
got a proposition for you if you do," Gabrielle offered
in a lusty tone, taking a step closer in challenge, teasing
her, taunting her.
grinned. Knew she was just playing hard to get. "What
do you have in mind, beautiful?"
Gabrielle proclaimed with a wide grin. "Winner take all
to the warrior left standing. How much do you have on
the woman answered.
"I can meet
that bet," Gabrielle answered confidently. "So pick
your weapon and your conditions."
the woman laughed heartily. "Iíll battle you, but itís
not your money I want when I win."
Oh lord. Could
she leer and drool any more? How disgusting!... Okay.
Think, Gabrielle. Could you really go through with this if you
lost? No, you couldnít, but that doesnít mean that youíre
going to lose. Sure, sheís big, but you knocked her back
with one headbutt. She obviously doesnít have your speed
either. The bardís grin widened.
she replied confidently. "Iíll take that bet. 20 dinars
vs. my... ahem... virtue," she teased with a wink.
"Show me the money and weíll get it underway,"
it," the woman said defensively.
Gabrielle said staying as cool as the Ganges. "Show it to
upstairs," the woman grunted, motion her head toward the
upstairs? I thought you said you had it?" Gabrielle
toyed. All part of the game. All part of the game.
"Anyway, doesnít matter where itís at right now.
Later it will be in my hands. Still Iíll wait for you to get
it," Gabrielle counted with a grin. "Unless of
course youíre not a warrior of your word," she added in
That put the woman
in motion. She stomped up the stairs and Gabrielle casually
went back to her drink as all eyes on the tavern were on her.
"Ahh... this is good ale," she told the barkeep in a
The cloaked figure
came behind the bard and whispered, "Sheís gotta glass
jaw. Go for the face."
recognized the voice, but couldnít quite place it. She tried
to turn to see who was giving her instructions, but the clang
of change purse next to her got her attention.
"You can count
it if you like," the woman said.
Gabrielle answered. "Donít mind if I do."
Just as the woman
said 20 shinny dinars were in the bag. Casually, the bard
tossed it back to her.
we?" she asked with a grand gesture toward the door.
At this point, the
entire tavern had come to a stop Ė no one was eating,
speaking or even moving for that matter. As the intruder made
her way out, Gabrielle followed close behind. Before they
could clear the door, the tables began to rise spot by spot,
following the women outside. THIS they had to see.
outside, toward a weapons hut located adjacent to the
"Mind if we
try out a few weapons," the woman called over to the
"No, be my
guest," he said hoping to make a sale. He did start to
wonder, however, if that was the intention when the bar
patrons all followed behind them.
The woman then
turned back to Gabrielle. "Since weíre going to be
getting to know each other much better after this little duel
perhaps we should be on a first name basis. Iím Gailes,"
she introduced gallantly.
I can play along.
"Pleasure to meet your acquaintance... And Iím sure
thatís all it will be... an acquaintance... With that aside,
letís get down to business. I made the challenge so you pick
The woman could
tell this little blonde was a queen at being evasive. After
all this trouble, she STILL didnít have her name. Gailes
noticed the sais on Gabrielleís boots so she opted for a
more Ďtraditionalí and Ďold schoolí weapon, something
she was sure the young woman would be unfamiliar with.
staffs," she said firmly, taking one in her hand.
Gabrielle gave the
largest of grins and went over to collect her weapon. She
walked back into the street to meet her challenger, but asked
for a small moment to Ďget acquaintedí with the weapon.
time," Gailes answered, certain she had made the right
choice. Her smile crept away more and more with each drill she
watched the bard preformed, getting faster and faster as the
weapon settled into her hands as if it were an extension of
way," the bard told her, coming to a stop. "My name
is Gabrielle of Potiedaia."
bard who travels with the warrior princess?" the woman
asked, a sudden quake coming to her voice.
Is she starting
to sweat? "Yep thatís the one... well, at least I
USED to travel with Xena, but Iím on my own now... I must
confess, itís been a few years since I seriously picked up
one of these," she said with all the confidence in the
world. "But Iím sure Iíll get back into my groove.
The staff was one of the first weapons I mastered incidentally...
Good choice," she mocked. Gabrielle watched the woman
give a hard swallow, but say nothing. "Anytime youíre
ready," she told Gailes.
Gailes took a deep
breath to steady herself before taking an uncertain step
toward Gabrielle. Thatís all the bard needed. She opened up
with a yell deep from her diaphragm and rushed Gailes with
blow after blow. Gailes tried for a sweep, but Gabrielle on
pure instinct jumped and avoided it. She chuckled loudly.
"Not bad, but you did it wrong," the bard teased.
Without adding more
Gabrielle made two strikes and one sweep that promptly took
Gailes on her backside. Gabrielle moved to give her a chance
to stand and grinned down at her.
proper way to sweep," the bard remarked egotistically.
The folks who
gathered to watch the battle began to chuckle, especially the
cloaked figure. Gailes confident facade began to unravel, but
instead of backing down, just the opposite occurred. She got
angry. And when she got angrier she was unable to even strike
Gabrielle, let alone do any damage. She got sloppy. At one
point, Gabrielle tried the turn and pivot move the amazons had
shown her years before, but as times past she nearly knocked
herself in the head. Enough of getting fancy bard. Take her
down. And with that, Gabrielle saw her opening and took it.
With Gailes trying
to regain control of the staff, Gabrielle let loose and
whacked her clean across the face. The warrior dropped the
staff and wobbled back on her heels. A second later she fell
backward, the force so great that the impact lifted the
warriorís legs off the ground before they came crashing back
to the dusty main street. She was out cold.
A cheer went around
the crowd and the spectators began to throw their own dinars
at Gabrielleís feet.
What?! Why are
you-?! "Whatís going on?" she asked taking one
of the on-lookers by the sleeve.
waiting years to see someone put Gailes in her place," a
man chuckled. "Congratulates sweetie. Youíre one
helluva fighter," he chuckled. "Here," he added
putting five dinars in her hand. "This is well worth
Group by group, the
villagers made their way back to the tavern. Since a bet was a
bet Gabrielle snatched Gailes change purse that was on her
waist and filled the bag with the rest of the dinars sheíd
earned from the townspeople. After she was finished she looked
back at the unconscious woman. Gabrielle took 10 dinars from
her pouch and closed them in the womanís hand.
need an ale later to nurse that jaw," Gabrielle teased,
although the woman couldnít hear a word. The bard wasnít
about to leave her Ďpennilessí. Sheíd put up a good
Gabrielle picked up
the staff and gave it a few light tosses feeling the weight.
The shopkeeper looked at her and grinned. Gabrielle returned
the gesture and asked, "How much?"
"For you... five dinars."
the bard answered and handed over the coins. Thatís when
Gabrielle noticed the reflection of the cloaked figure behind
her in a shield that hung outside. Before the informant could
move away Gabrielle went over to her.
"Your turn and
pivot is off," the unknown figure told her.
Who are you? "Yeah,"
Gabrielle said slowly, trying to find out who the figure was
behind the cloak, not quiet able to see. That voice - I know
that voice. "Seems the problem lies with my-."
the two said in harmony.
The cloak hood came
down to reveal a woman with salt and pepper hair, perhaps in
her early 50ís, maybe late 40ís. "After all these
years, I figured youíd have mastered that by now. But I can
see you still nearly chuck yourself in the head," she
"It canít be...
Is it really you?"
Gabrielle itís me... But first things first, whatís your
secret? How did you manage to stay so young?"
the bard thought as her jaw fell and she gathered the woman
into a tight embrace.
Xena grinned when
she spotted Hercules in the distance putting the finishing
touches on a stone retaining wall that surrounded a small
house. Xena climbed aboard Argo and called down to Eve,
"Iím going ahead. See you when you get down
She took Argo into
a full gallop, kicking dusty behind her on the trail.
Hercules looked up
when her heard the hoofs approaching. Is that Xena? No she
canít look that young... Well Iíll be. It is Xena. He
gave a smile and chuckled as she approached. He hopped the
fence with ease to meet her. Xena reeled Argo in when she was
close enough and leapt from the mare, jogging over to see her
They both laughed
as they embraced and Herc gave her a playful twirl in the air,
gently putting her down.
Gabrielle?" He asked with a smile. But soon his smile
began to fade realizing that perhaps Gabrielle was no longer
on the earthly plain.
"We decided to
go our separate ways... well, she decided that, but weíll
discuss that later," Xena gave a nervous chuckle. He
looked as old as when he had battled Zeus for Eveís life and
not a day older. "Anyway, youíre looking as young as
ever," she commented on his appearance.
talk," he said pulling her arms up and away from her body
giving her an appraising eye. "Did you find the Tree of
Xena smiled. Ah
ha. "So you do know where the tree is? Any mortal
that eats the fruit is said to become immortal? Looks like itís
Herc smiled and dug
his toe in the dirt a moment. "I didnít want to do it, but
Iolaus convinced me otherwise."
"Damn right I
did. The world needs the big guy around," they heard a
voice behind them add. Iolaus, it appears didnít eat the
fruit. His hair was thinning and graying. The laughlines
around his lips and eyes were more prominent, but he still
appeared very dashing with the same mischievous sparkle in his
blue eyes. He offered his arm to Xena in greeting.
"How have you
been, Xena? Forgive me for saying it, but the last we heard...
you were dead."
"We were in a
way I suppose," Xena said before silently cursing herself
for using the word Ďweí. We? Sheís not here anymore.
When are you gonna realize that? "Gabrielle and I, I
mean, we... ". Why the hell am I stumbling all over
this? Just spit it out already! "Ares froze us
accidentally when he thought we died, but we managed to escape
and come back. Some... things... happened and she decided to
go out on her own."
cracked and Hercís eyebrows crunched in examination.
heard part of the story already. My sister told me. Are you
Sister? Ahh - Dite...
Xena chewed on her lip to push down the tears that threatened
to come forth with Hercís question.
doing okay," she sighed. "Itís been about two
months now since she left. Iíve been so busy with dealing
with Ares being a mortal and getting to know Eve that I havenít
had much time to really consider things with Gabrielle...
I mean I think of her all the time, but I just havenít
thought about it... Does that make any sense?" she asked
exasperated at trying to explain to the men who stood silently
"Well, do you
mean that you miss her? You just havenít had time to realize
that itís over...for good?"
"Yeah." Xena smiled
bitter-sweetly. "Gabrielle was always good with words
like that." The smile was only brief as she began to hear
Hercís words sink in deeper... Itís over. For good...
She shook her head to rid herself of the thoughts. The sooner
she could get Ares out of her life the better. She pointed up
the path to Ares and Eve who were now almost within earshot.
got ex-god trouble and thought you could lend a hand,"
With that Herc,
looked up the path and he saw Ares and a young woman walking
girl?" Herc asked, nodding toward her.
You did it again
- using words like Ďourí as if Gabrielle is standing right
here. Xena took an unsteady breath. Come on and get a
grip here. Why are you acting so mushy now? Pull it together
warrior. Xena wiped her eyes with her fingertips to guard
against any tears that might escape. She didnít think being
near Herc would have this kind of effect on her - the
overwhelming urge to Ďspill her gutsí as it were. At the
moment, she couldnít even lock eyes with the demi-god for
fear of losing what control she had over her tear ducts.
"Ares gave up
his godhood to save Eveís life... and Gabrielle... I
donít want to make him a god again, but life as a mortal is
just too painful for ME with him around," she joked.
"And itís tough for him too I guess. Will you help?...
Make him immortal, I mean? Obviously you have the answer to
immortality," she teasingly prodded.
looked up to see the beam on Hercís face as he watched Eve
come down the path.
beautiful girl, Xena."
is," Xena answered. "Does that mean youíll help
Ares?" Herc chuckled.
Xena simply nodded.
Herc answered. "But Iíll help you. And who knows since
he did something unselfish for ONCE in his life... perhaps he
could change too... but Iím not holding my breath." The
Xena called out, pulling her closer. "Iíd like you to
met Hercules and his partner, Iolaus."
"Nice to meet
you sounds like an understatement," Eve said offering her
Herc took her
gently by the hand and gave a light kiss to her knuckles
instead. "Itís my pleasure." He grinned warmly. He
escorted her over to Iolaus who still stood behind the wall
where they shook hands.
everyone," Iolaus instructed. "Yes... even you,
Ares," he teased.
Ares rolled his
eyes, but joined the group passing through the gate, making
their way to the house.
"So this is
the kinda pad heroes have when they retire, huh?" Xena
said giving the home an appraising eye. "Not bad." She grinned.
"Kinda reminds me of Gabrielleís hut at the amazon
thereís no naked woman running around in the front
window," Iolaus teased as they walked inside which earned
him a jab from his buddy. "Have a seat. Supperís almost
done," he said pointing to the dinning table.
Xena noticed a limp
as Iolaus went to the stew pot.
"Hurt your leg
Iolaus?" Xena asked.
old war wounds catching up to me. It comes and goes and today
itís flaring up. Come on and grab some spoons and bowls.
There should be enough for everyone."
As Xena and Eve
went to the kitchen area, Herc and Ares spent the time just
looking at each other, neither one willing to lose in the
Ares finally asked irritated.
"I could kick
your fanny allllllll over the place right now," Herc
"Well, why donít
you give it a shot tough guy?" Ares taunted.
Xena could hear
their voices behind her, beginning to rise. She didnít even
bother to turn around to face them. "Canít you two give
it a rest?" she sighed.
"I take it
they donít get along too well," Eve whispered to Xena.
Fire and water," Iolaus said whispering into the
that," Herc called into the kitchen.
not like itís untrue," Iolaus said bringing a bowl for
Herc too as he sat down at the table.
Xena had two bowls
and she slid one over to Ares. "Donít argue. Just eat.
That will keep your mouth busy for awhile."
it," Ares rebutted pointing his spoon at his
Daddy were around you could go back and cry to him. But since
heís not, shut up and eat," Xena warned.
Herc could tell by
the snap in her voice that Xena had about all she could take
of the former god of war.
sorry," Herc apologized to the group, hoping it would
give Xena a respite he felt she very much needed. "I
promise Ares, no more arguing. Agreed?" Herc offered his
hand in truce.
Ares pushed Hercís
hand away, along with the bowl.
outside if you need me," he told Xena.
Herc shrugged his
shoulders and settled himself down to eat. "Well, so much
for trying," he replied before putting a spoonful of stew
in his mouth. Xena and Eve ate in silence until Xena
complimented Iolaus on the food, a comment that Eve quickly
echoed with a thanks.
mention it." He grinned. "Itís just nice to see you
again, Xena. We havenít see our old friends in ages,"
Iolaus added before turning to Herc. "How longís it
been since we seen Autolycus?" he asked. "At least a
year I think."
"Yeah around last summer."
"You mean the
King of Thieves is still around?" Xena smiled warmly.
"Whatís he doing?"
"Well, he DID
about 15 years in prison after getting caught in a diamond
mind." Herc grinned. "But he paid his debt to
society and decided to take up woodworking."
Xena couldnít hold back the laugh at the thought. "Youíre
pulling my leg, arenít you?"
Iolaus said shaking his head. "That sofa over there was a
house warming present he made for us when we built this place.
Heís really creative and heís got a knack for that kinda
stuff. Heís actually making a better living doing that than
thought Autolycus had other skills," Xena said checking
it out from across the room.
Everyone took a
moment to go back to their stew. Autolycus is still alive.
I wonder now about mother. And Lila! Lila is probably still
alive. Damn it! We should have gone to Potiedaia. Maybe thatís
where Gabrielleís gone too. Maybe we should-.
okay?" Herc asked.
Xena realized Herc
had been talking to her, but she got so caught up in her mind
she didnít hear him. "Iím sorry." She grinned
bashfully. "I didnít catch that."
seem pretty distracted. Are you finished eating? Would you
like some more?" the demi-god asked.
"Oh no, Iím
fine. Thank you both. It was very good," Xena remarked.
welcome," Herc answered. "Now, letís go out back.
Iíll show you the pond we made. Iolaus... maybe you can show
Eve some of those scrolls weíve got?"
"Do you like
scrolls?" Iolaus asked, the young woman.
kidding?! I love them - especially the oneís my mom wrote- I
have a couple of Gabbyís scrolls." He winked.
Eve and Xena both asked in harmony.
say sheíd given any away... but then again I never
asked," Xena replied guiltily.
The room fell
quiet, not sure of what to add at the moment. The tone of Ďregretí
hung in the air a few more seconds until Herc spoke up.
be back later. Come on, Xena," Herc said wrapping his arm
around Xenaís shoulder and leading her out the back door.
"So are you
ready to tell me what happened?" Herc asked.
what?" Xena said evasively. Herc didnít reply. He just
gave her a Ďlookí that spoke volumes. No getting around it
with him. "Iím not sure. I mean I know why I just...
Oh, damn it." Xena broke down into sobs.
She wasnít sure
how long it lasted, but when she calmed her breathing enough
to speak again she noticed that Hercís shirt was slightly
I donít know why I did that," Xena chuckled nervous.
sad... youíre confused... and if I know you, you havenít
taken time to grieve yet. Youíve been babysitting Ares
because of some unspoken debt you feel you owe him for saving
your family and as a result... youíve avoided dealing with
your breakup with Gabrielle."
Xena gave a genuine
chuckle of amusement for the first time since her arrival.
"Youíre good." She smiled. "I guess thatís
exactly whatís going on."
Herc took Xena by
the hand as they walked toward the waterís edge. They stood
there for a moment and just looked out at the water and the
small rippling when a fish would jump now and then. "Are
you going to look for her?" he asked quietly. "Or
have you given up on getting her back?"
Xena sighed and
consider the question. Yes. No. Maybe.
decided," she answered. "I figured that if she wants
to see me then sheíll come to me."
"What if sheís
thinking the same thing?" Herc asked. "What if sheís
waiting for you? Someone has to make the first step. You said
itís been what? Two months?"
"Are you ready
to see her?"
sure," Xena answered honestly. "I took Gabrielle for
granted in many ways, but... "
what?" Herc asked sincerely.
"But she let
me down too... No... she spent some time examining who she was
and I didnít see us having a future. She always did though...
I was scared of her... and me."
her, of loving her... I mean she was on a path of
non-violence. With our life itís not the safest path to be
on and I worried that I might not be able to help her. And
then later... when she realized that the warrior life was what
she was truly destined for instead of supporting that I... I
got scared again. My brother was a warrior and I lost him.
Then a time came and I lost myself. I was worried that
Gabrielle might die. I was worried that I might lose her to
the darkness of war someday - just like my soul had been lost...
I didnít say anything though. I just... shut her out.
comments about how much she loved Eve and how we could build a
future together and instead of loving her like I should have...
like I wanted to... I turned away because I was scared to get
TOO close. I could give this woman my sword and my body... but
I couldnít give her my heart. And when I reacted and struck
her with my chakram... that was it for her. Sheíd had enough
and left... and the sad part is I donít blame her. And the
really sad part is what I feared most... losing her...
came true in the end anyway."
speechless. Heíd never heard Xena be so Ďwordyí; so
open. He wondered if Gabrielle had heard all these thoughts
Xena just expressed to him.
my story." She grinned for show. "If I could take it all
back I would. If I could show her how much I love her and
trust her I would. But it doesnít look like thatís meant
to be. Iím sure sheíll move on. Sheíll fall in love. Sheíll
find someone who sees how wonderful and special she is...
that person could have been me if I hadnít been so proud or
so cowardly... perhaps both."
Sheís really gone now.
Xena started to cry
hysterically at that point. She never took the time since
Gabrielle left that night on the beach to really cry. Her time
was spent training Ares on being human or telling the Ďhappyí
stories about Gabrielle to Eve. It kept the darkness of it all
at bay. But now. Now that she had time to think about it.
Emotions she didnít have time for before hit her full force
- the devastating feeling of loss and dread and on a certain
How could she
just leave? After five years just walk away.
Xena pulled away
from Hercís embrace and she found herself starting to pace. Okay.
Enough is enough. Quit feeling sorry for yourself Xena... Iím
gonna find that damn tree. Iím gonna lay out all the cards
for Eve about Gabrielle and I from now on, even the ugly ones.
Then with Ares out of my hair and Eve knowing the whole truth...
Xena wiped her eyes
and looked at Herc. "I need your help," she told
"You got it
Xena. You know that. What do you want?" he asked noticing
a shift in her mood to one of gloom to one of determination.
find that tree. Will you help?" she asked him.
there," he smiled.
"Good." She grinned
confidently. "Because after that... Iím gonna find my
back, the amazon queen raised her staff behind her head
blocking the sword strikes of the two men that worked their
way behind her. With cat like reflexes, she spun around taking
one man out with a quick strike and then the other. As both
men lay scattered across the ground, unmoving, she was finally
able to rejoin her partner.
"Good work." Gabrielle smiled.
"Come on," she said as she motioned her traveling
partner toward a young woman who was curled up on the ground,
timidly watching the action.
okay?" the bard asked.
to you," the young woman answered. She finally had the
chance to look up and when she did she found herself getting
lost in the green eyes that shined down upon her.
needed," Gabrielle replied with a comforting grin.
"Did you know these men?" she asked pointing behind
her to the four men that lay unconscious on the ground.
not from my village. Iíve never seen them before," the
young lady replied. Aside from a little dirt and some scraps
the lady was quite beautiful Ė dark, flowing brown hair and
eyes to match. "I was doing the laundry and they came out
the woman off a bit and stood up offering her arm.
get you home. Whereís your washings?" the bard asked.
there," she pointed meekly, still a bit shaken by the
events of the day.
over it," Gabrielleís new partner replied, before
starting toward the bank to get the womanís belongings.
"Iíll tie the men up and catch up in a bit."
Gabrielle gave a
nod and turned back to the young woman.
you back to the village and notify the sheriff,"
Gabrielle said starting to walk down the path.
The young woman
couldnít take her eyes off the bard and she tripped on a
rock in the road. Gabrielle helped her catch her balance and
couldnít help notice the sense of awe transpiring in the
young womanís eyes. There was a time when you were in awe
yourself Gabrielle so tread lightly here, she warned herself.
"Are you sure
youíre okay?" Gabrielle asked.
Donít blush now. Sheíll
think youíre just some stupid kid, the young woman
berated herself silently. "Yes Iím fine. I guess I just
never saw a real amazon before... I mean you are an amazon,
"Last time I checked yes I was still an amazon," she
teased. "My name is Gabrielle."
the amazon bard?! Is that Xena?!" the young woman asked
excitedly, looking back over her shoulder to the woman just
putting the finishing knots on the attackers.
the amazons' bard." I guess my reputation DOES
proceeds me at this point. "And no thatís not Xena.
Thatís Eponin Ė sheís an old friend of mine thatís
been traveling with me for the past moon now."
"Oh... " Come
on! Come on! Think of something witty or clever. Youíre a
poet for gaiaís sake. It was obvious the young woman
didnít know what to add so Gabrielle picked up the
August," she answered. Yeah, that will really wow her.
"Iím a writer too. Not stories. Just poetry. My folks
think itís a silly waste of time, but someday Iím going to
be famous - like you!"
famous," Gabrielle chuckled.
kidding?" the girl said excitedly, the pace of her speech
quickening. "Every traveling bard that comes through our
town has at least one story of the Warrior Princess and the
Amazon Bard. I know lots of the tales about your journeys.
Would you like to hear one?! How about Cecrops? Or Baccus? I
could tell you one if you like. I said I write poetry, but I
know I could do a good story too if you want."
Oh boy. Did I
sound this over anxious when Xena road into town? Yep. You
probably did. No wonder Xena was always so quiet. I did all
the talking, Gabrielle chuckled out loud and the girl gave
her an inquisitive look. Gabrielle shook her head to clear her
mind of the memory and to let the girl know it wasnít her jabber jaw
that was making her grin. "No, thatís okay,"
Gabrielle told her. "Iím sure youíre a great
storyteller. Letís just get you back home safe, okay?"
The rest of the way
Gabrielle learned practically everything about the young girlís
life. She was non-stop and very open about everything. The
more Gabrielle listened, the more it sounded like an echo of
years ago. But soon they were at the girl's home where she was
met by her parents and her brother.
for the evening at least," her mother insisted. "A
hot meal and a warm bed are the least we can offer you for
Gabrielle looked at each other and nodded in agreement to each
other before taking the offer. Later that night, after dinner,
Augustís father offered to give Gabrielle one of their
horses, but Gabrielle solidly refused. Dinner and shelter for
the evening was more than generous enough. Augustís father
relented, but made the bard promise if she ever needed
anything that their door was always open. That was an offer
Gabrielle could accept in good faith.
As Eponin and
Gabrielle walked around the village after supper they noticed
August trying to follow close behind, but also trying to be
inconspicuous. Eponin couldnít help, but take note of the
smile that played on the bard's lips.
awfully happy this evening."
around the town and then back to Eponin. "This little
place reminds me of my hometown. Itís funny. When I was
Augustís age I could wait to leave it, but looking back now...
it was a peaceful place. Quiet. Sometimes I miss it."
settle down my queen," Eponin teased.
it," Gabrielle chuckled. "Poteidaia is a nice place
to visit, but I donít think I could ever live there again.
Kinda like you and the amazon village. You miss it... but then
again you donít. Do you understand?"
the question. "Yeah... but I left because of love,"
Eponin countered. "After Ephiny and I broke up... I
couldnít sit by and let Solari build the life I hoped to
share with Ephiny. It was too hard... I left because of
Poteidaia because of love too." Gabrielle smiled.
"Although the circumstances were different... the end
result seems to be the same though, huh? Abandonment." I
traveled the world with Xena and came full circle and what do
I have to show -- numerous notches of kills on my swords and
once more, a staff in my hand.
Gabrielleís mind at work and she could tell it wasnít
anything good. Gods how I wish I could make that ache go
away thatís in her eyes, her soul.
"At least weíre
not alone," Eponin countered optimistically.
"I get the
feeling in this village weíll never be alone,"
Gabrielle teased pitching a thumb over her shoulder toward
their Ďshadowí who quickly turned to act like she was
looking at some scarfs.
"You know what
I meant," Eponin pushed. "Weíve got each other
now. Itís been a long time since I had anyone I could relate
too. I make a pretty good sidekick even though Iím almost 50
Gabrielle corrected. "Iíll never have a sidekick...
Eponin gave an
agreeable nod and let the conversation be. So what did the
hero do to you Gabrielle? Whatís happened that the word Ďsidekickí
brings such pain to your eyes? Gabrielle had opened up and
told her of some of the facts that drove sidekick and hero
apart. She was sure there were many more tales to be told and
she was confident that in time Gabrielle would confide them to
Weeks before she
was delighted that Gabrielle had recognized her. It HAD been a
long time since she had a real friend to relate to. The years
she spent away from the amazon village consisted mostly of
traveling from place to place doing odd jobs here and there.
Then suddenly she was there... And as gorgeous as ever. Eponin
felt herself admiring her traveling partner a little too close
and looked for another distractions. She soon found it when
she turned around to see August move a few stalls closer.
"What are you
going to do about her?" Eponin teased, nodding toward the
young woman. "Sheís been bitten by the love bug you
know." She smirked.
"Believe it or not, I remember what thatís like... hero
worship I mean. I had Xena so high on a pedestal youíd never
think she could fall," Gabrielle answered with a grin.
"It seems like another lifetime some days."
"You gonna set
her straight?" Eponin asked.
set straight? Nothing wrong with admiration," Gabrielle
Thatís good to
know for future reference. "Thatís true,"
Eponin answered out loud. "But still... "
Gabrielle put down
the bottle of wine she was looking at and faced Eponin.
"I gotta tell
Eponin shrugged her
shoulders. "Itís your call... your admirer," she
Gabrielle answered sarcastically before giving a sigh.
"Why donít you head back to the barn for the night
while I have a sensitive chat, okay?"
Eponin gave a
hearty chuckle. "Sensitive chat?" She grinned.
"I like the sound of that... Okay, Iíll catch you later...
Gabrielle saw her
young admirer taking a sudden interest in some horseshoes when
the duo had turned around.
she yelled over toward her. When the girl looked up Gabrielle
waved her over.
"Did you need
something, Gabrielle?" the girl asked excitedly, nearly
tripping over herself willing to help as she passed Epinon.
Gabrielle did her
best to hold back a smile. "Youíve been following me
around for some time now. Is there something you want to ask
me? Something you need from me?"
You bet there
is, the young woman thought lecherously. "Youíve
done so much I really couldnít ask for more," she
"Care to tell
me why youíre following me around?" Gabrielle asked
without malice. The bard saw Augustís cheek grow crimson and
her suspicious were confirmed. "Look, August,"
Gabrielle began, "Youíre a very beautiful young girl
and we have a lot in common. I can see you admire me-."
think Iím beautiful?!" the village girl replied
Oh no, now youíve
done it. "Yes August, but let me explain. Youíve
got a family and life here and come sunrise Iíll be leaving
"Then take me
with you! I can cook for you and clean for you. I sharpen my
fatherís sword all the time so I can even do that. Please
say you will. Iím not meant for this town, Gabrielle. Iím
not the little girl my parents wanted me to be. Iím meant
for bigger and better things."
What?! Oh great.
I should have let Eponin do this. "I canít,"
Gabrielle replied. Why canít you? Xena did. Oh shut up
you donít know what youíre talking about. Youíre not up
to babysitting a starry eyed kid. You could do it you know.
You could be a mentor to her... Just great. Iím
arguing with myself and losing. I think my mind IS going.
"August," Gabrielle said holding her temples trying
to regroup. "You donít understand what youíre
"Yes I do. I
want to be a poet. I want to go to Athens. I canít be a poet
here. If I want to be someone - ANYONE - who leaves a mark it
wonít be in this little town. I mean look at you! You did
it, didnít you?! I could do it too if the right opportunity
comes along and like it or not YOUíRE that opportunity... So
Iím begging... Please... Take me with you. You canít leave
me here in-."
Gabrielle mustered with a far off look in her eyes completing
the girlís sentence.
Potiedaia is at least 10 towns away," August answered
Gabrielle asked reflexively before coming back to the present
conversation, pushing the one from years back further into her
memory. "Anyway, August, the answer has to be no. Iím
to walk away, but she heard Augustís voice behind her. that
stopped her in her tracks.
Gabrielle from taking another step away.
Dreams. Yes I
did have dreams and despite the pain, the suffering most of my
dreams came true... except for Ďhappily ever afterí... and
the reason they did was because of Xena. She believed in me
when no one else did. I was never the proper young lady and if
I had stayed in that little town I would have been dead years
before... perhaps not physically, but spiritually. You gotta
do it. You gotta say yes.
Gabrielle sighed before turning to face the girl. "But
you have to tell your parents youíre leaving. No sneaking
out. Understood? I made some mistakes when I left home and I
donít want to see you repeat them. Got it?"
August stood slack
jawed, but quickly recovered. "I got it! No problem. Weíll
go right now and Iíll let them know that Iím going to
Athens with you! This is so great! I canít believe it! Maybe
while weíre on the road you can give me some bard tips and
have yet to agree," Gabrielle pointed out. "If they
say no, then I say no."
"Of course, of
course. But I doubt they would say no. If I leave then father
doesnít have to pay the dowery for me to marry Erereous - heís
a nice guy, but very dull and boring... Hey! You know what?!
Maybe at night I can read my poems to you? Would you like
that? Iíve got one that Iíve been working on for the last
was all Gabrielleís mind could repeat.
She had been crying, but
Xena didnít turn around to face Eve who was whispering from
her bedroll. "Iím okay. Just get some sleep. Weíve
got a big climb tomorrow. Youíll need your strength."
Xena felt her daughterís hand upon her shoulder as the young
woman took a seat next to her on the boulder looking out over
the valley they traveled through earlier that day. The Tree of
Fietus, which only bared the special fruit once every ten
years, would be in bloom this season. Many people tried to
attain it and met their demise in the process. If the mountain
didnít kill them the wild animals of the area did. The odds
were against them, but what else was new.
beautiful view from up here," Eve commented. "But I
donít think itís the majestic scenery that has you so
"No, I canít say Iíve been one whoís moved by
does move you?"
There was no pause
between question and answer. Xena knew it immediately,
instinctively. Xena loved her daughter dearly, but nothing,
absolutely nothing compared to Gabrielle. Itís true I CAN
live without Gabrielle, but itís not a life worth living at
"Sheís got a
wonderful way of looking at life," Xena offered.
"She sees beauty and meaning in everything - even a
broken down ex-warlord. I always loved your mom, but lately,
with her gone, I realize just how much. I can see that I took
her for granted in many ways. And I pray that Eli finds
someway from the heavens to bring her back to me. Even if I
never have her as my partner again, I just wish I have the
chance to tell her how much she means and how much she changed
my life for the better."
"After we get
Ares out of the way, weíll search," Eve responded.
"Weíll find her again, Iím sure."
sure if she wants to be found, Evie. Thatís the problem. I
did so many terrible things to her over the years. I let my
anger do things I swore Iíd never do. I blamed her for Solanís
death. I asked her to choose me over Hope. I shut her out at
times when she needed reassurance and all because I was
scared. I even hit her with my chakram while her back was
turned. Some brave warrior that makes me, huh? I donít blame
her one bit for leaving. In fact, Iím surprised she stayed
as long as she did."
Eve began, "You said yourself that Gabrielle doesnít
blame you for those things and sheís found
forgiven me, yes, but I havenít forgiven myself. Iím not
sure Iíll ever find that. Eve, I told you that I was a
terrible person for many years, but the worst things Iíve
ever done have been to Gabrielle... I know now that I will
never... ever... harm her again. But I donít even know how
to convince her. Hell, I donít even know if sheís okay. Iím
on top of a mountain, helping a man I canít stand to be
around when I should be at her side."
"You will be
at her side again, Mother," Eve answered. "I have no
doubt in that. Just be brave when you see her. Tell her all
the things you never told her while she was here. Thatís the
first step... well, after ditching Ares that is," she
whispered conspiratorially. "You canít really expect to
work on things with Gabrielle as long as Aresís in the
background. Youíre doing things the right way. Get Ares out
on his own so you can focus on Gabrielle... I have faith that
things will work out."
optimist." Xena grinned. "Your momís that way too with
Xena looked over to
Eve and she watched as the young woman sat cross-legged, her
elbow on her knee and her chin on her fist, deep in thought,
looking at the valley below them. I havenít realized it, but
Gabrielle does the same thing when sheís pondering
it?" Eve asked facing her mother after feeling she was
And those eyes!
My god those green eyes! I have blue. Callisto had brown. The
green of those eyes. Could it be? Is it really possible? But
me whatís wrong?!"
Xena held a finger
up for Eve to hold on for a moment. She darted over to Ares
bedroll and tore the blanket away. He woke with a start as
Xena grabbed him by his leather vest.
answers and I want them now," Xena began, giving him a
shake for good measure.
morning to you too, Sweetheart," Ares retorted.
At this time, Herc
woke up with all the commotion. "Everything, okay?"
"Yeah, as soon
as Ares answers a few questions. Such as who's Eveís
mother?" Xena said pushing him back to the ground.
are," Ares answered. "Is this is a trick
else?" she pressed.
least that's what Iíve heard," he replied.
who else? Come on Ares. Iíve been watching Eve for weeks now
and the more and more I see, the more thereís someone else
thatís not being figured in here. Tell it to me straight.
Whatís the real story here? Why were you trying to talk
Gabrielle out of leaving Eve and me? You of all people would
love to see her go... so why the change of heart? Hmm?"
Ares looked to Xena
and then Eve standing behind her.
supposed to know," Ares muttered.
answer," Xena replied, pulling Ares to his feet. He oofed
and ouched until they stood toe to toe. "I want the truth
or youíll be dead before you ever see that tree," Xena
pressed as she poked him in the chest with a pointed finger.
Ares looked to Eve
and then Xena and then back to Eve again.
Gabrielleís daughter too - flesh and blood."
I knew it! That
son of bitch knew the whole time and never said a word. But
"Who gave the
helping hand Ares? You? Your sister, Dite?"
Ares answered. "But it wasnít help. Call it
serendipity. I didnít know Calli gave you the little twerp
when I did the meld."
"When you put
Gabrielle and I in one body then-."
Gabrielle became part of Eve," Ares finished. "Her
love of scrolls, her blue-green eyes, her bad temper," he
chuckled. "Boy does that bard of yours have a temper when
pushed, Xena. Worse than you or Callisto. Sometimes worse than
the two of you put together... Eveís that way too whether
she admits it or not." He smirked.
Herc mutter in amazement from his bedroll.
it," Eve reiterated. "So I actually have three
mothers?" she asked Ares who answered with a nod.
"This is incredible... So Gabrielle IS my mom... Weíve
got to find he, Mother! Weíve got to let her know," Eve
said to Xena taking a step closer.
things first. Tomorrow we get that damn fruit and you my dear
ex-god of war will kindly get the hell outta our lives. You
got that?" Xena said continuing to poke him in the chest
with the end of every sentence.
"Yeah, I got
it," Ares answered without argument. "Now that the
family tree is all in order do you mind if we get some
He didnít wait
for a reply. He crawled back under his bedroll and covered up.
Herc followed suit.
on," Xena said tugging her daughter to their bedrolls.
"Letís at least TRY to get some sleep."
Eve agreed and they
snuggled into the bedroll, getting situated for some shuteye.
Eve cleared her throat a bit and asked, "Do I really have
she heard three voices answer. "Now go to sleep,"
Ares mumbled gruffly.
Xena and Eve gave a
chuckle. "Heís awful grumpy since heís lost his
godhood, isnít he?" Eve teased.
that," Ares said.
Hercules piped in. "Shut up and go to sleep."
everyone should shut up at this point... Starting now,"
Eve lay next to her
mother and watched her. Xenaís eyes were closed and she was
beginning to breathe deep. My mother... the hero. And if you
donít find her... I know I will.
"I love you,
Mother," Eve whispered.
"I love you
to Part III