I Can't Go On Like This

by Alan Plessinger

 

Disclaimer: Xena: Warrior Princess and the names, titles, and backstories used in "I Canít Go On Like This" are the sole property of MCA/Universal. The author intends no copyright infringement through the writing of this fan fiction.

This is just one of the heart-to-heart talks that you wish theyíd have a lot more of.


When they got back from Egypt, Gabrielle asked Xena to stop and take a rest. She had something she needed to say.

"What is it?" asked Xena, sounding annoyed as she held Eve.

"Xena, weíve got one of our little hideout cabins nearby, donít we?"

"Yes."

They had a few well-stocked cabins dotted about the Greek countryside, in case they should ever need to hide out somewhere in a hurry.

"I want to spend a few days there. You go on to the Temple of the Fates yourself."

"What? Why?"

"I just need to think about some things. Iím sure you can protect Eve without me for awhile."

"Whatís wrong?" asked Xena, but there didnít seem much concern in her voice. She just sounded impatient and exasperated.

"I canít go on like this. Iím scared, Xena."

"Gabrielle, I know itís frighteningÖ"

"Itís not that. Itís justÖwhen I killed BrutusÖIím sorry, this is difficult."

"Go on."

"When I killed Brutus I felt such hatred, Xena. More than Iíve ever felt in my life. Iíve never felt anything like it before, even when I wanted to kill Callisto."

"You killed Brutus in self-defense."

"I know. I donít understand it. I shouldnít feel this way, but I do. I mean, I accept that I have to kill sometimes, butÖto feel this kind of hatred. It scares me."

"Want to talk about it?"

"No. I know I spent all last year being selfish and demanding everything my own way, but Iím afraid Iím going to have to be a little selfish again. I just need some time to think, thatís all."

"How long?"

"Could I have three days? You can be to the Temple and back by then, canít you?"

"Gabrielle, should I be worried, here? Thereís no chance of the two of us splitting up, is there?"

"I donít know. I donít think so."

"Please donít scare me like this, Gabrielle. Weíve been down this road before."

"Three days, Xena. Thatís all I ask. We can talk after that. Please."

Xena relented, only because she saw that their relationship was in trouble, and arguing with Gabrielle wouldnít help matters. She accompanied Gabrielle to the cabin, made sure there was plenty of provisions, and made her way alone, leaving Gabrielle behind.

The first day was spent by Gabrielle in quiet meditation. There was some writing, some hunting, some fishing, but mostly Gabrielle was trying to get her thoughts in order and figure out what was happening to her and what her next move would be.

On the second day, an unwelcome visitor shimmered into view. Gabrielle wasnít at all surprised.

"Hi, babes," said the goddess.

Gabrielle sighed.

"I really donít have time to play, Aphrodite."

"Time? Youíve got enough of it to waste, looks like," she said as she sat next to Gabrielle.

"Aphrodite, I am in no mood for your hot tubs and your chocolate aphrodisiacs and your cute little pink pajamas. I just want to be left alone, now."

"Oh come on, Gabrielle, donít be that way. Iím here Ďcause Iím worried about you. Iím taking the time to drop in and see how you are, and this is the thanks I get."

"Donít you have enough to worry about, Aphrodite? The whole Twilight thing?"

The goddess shrugged.

"If it happens, it happens. Weíve had a good run. If it all has to come to an end, well, it could be worse. Iíve heard all about Heaven and Hell, and if He decides to let even one god or goddess into the Pearly Gates, Iíd say my chances look pretty good, donít you?"

Gabrielle gave the goddess an annoyed look.

"Aphrodite, I have some things to figure out, here. I need solitude. Do you not understand the subtext of what Iím saying?"

"Oh, donít even get me started on that, babe."

"Iím asking you to clear off. Go. Shoo."

Aphrodite gave the bard a look of resignation.

"Very well. Can I just say one thing first?"

"Can I stop you?"

"No."

"Then go ahead."

"Gabrielle, you know youíre my favorite mortal. Iíve never told you so, but you know it. And I never expected to give a damn about any mortal, ever. If I were allowed a chosen, youíd be the one. Youíre my favorite because I admire the love between you and Xena so much. Iíve never seen a love so powerful, so complete. I couldnít create a love like yours if I worked on it for a hundred years. And letís be honest; itís mostly due to you. I wish youíd give me a chance to help you. It breaks my heart to see you like this. But maybe youíre right. Maybe I canít help. Iíve never had to kill anyone. And Iíve never had to love anyone who tried to kill me. I donít know if I could ever do some of the things youíve had to do. You humble me, Gabrielle. Youíve humbled a goddess. Doesnít happen very often."

Gabrielle almost smiled.

"Thanks, Aphrodite. Iím sure thatís probably the nicest thing youíve ever said to anyone."

"Yeah, well, being near death and all."

"But I meant what I said. I need some time alone."

Aphrodite sighed and stood up.

"OK, you win, adorable. Feel better, OK?"

And the goddess was gone.

On the third day, Xena, instead of galloping full speed back to Gabrielle, led Argo by the reins back to the cabin, taking her time. She saw Gabrielle out front, watching the sunset. Gabrielle gave Xena a glance, then went back to enjoying the evening.

"Hi," said Xena, once she had Argo tied up. She sat next to Gabrielle and handed her Eve. Gabrielle held the baby in her lap.

"Hi. Did you get to the Temple of the Fates?"

"No."

"Why not?"

"I couldnít."

"What do you mean, you couldnít?"

"I couldnít go without you. I canít do anything without you, Gabrielle. I canít get up in the morning, I canít play with Eve, I canít do anything without missing you. I need you, Gabrielle."

Gabrielle sighed.

"Youíre not making this easy."

"Iím sorry," said Xena. "I know I brought this on, myself. I see that, now. You know what I was thinking about, on the way here?"

"What?"

"The time Ares had me on trial for my life. I was ready to give up, but you wouldnít let me. And when they were ready to tear me apart between the horses, you took the rope andÖand you put it around your own throat. You were willing to die with me. Gabrielle, I owe you so much. I donít know what Iíve ever done to deserve someone like you. Iíve screwed up every good thing in my life, and now I might lose you because I took you for granted. I never paid enough attention to your feelings, Gabrielle, and Iím sorry. Iím asking for another chance."

Gabrielle looked at Eve. She couldnít look at Xena just yet.

"Xena, there was a time I thought you would go back to being a brutal psychopath if I ever left you. But I donít think that any more. Youíve got Eve, now."

"Eve is one of the most wonderful things ever to happen to me. Sheís almost the most precious gift Iíve ever been given. Almost. You know, I always like to think Iím in control of my life and my destiny, but the two most important people in my life are the ones I never asked for. Eve. And you."

"Xena, let me ask you something. We were safe in Egypt. Eve was safe. Why didnít we stay?"

Xena looked down into her lap.

"Is that what this is about?"

"No. But Iíd like to know."

"We didnít stay because I believe I owe it to the One True God who gave me Eve, to stay and fight, and make our stand. Because every instinct I have tells me I should trust the One who gave me Eve. If heís bringing about the Twilight, then heís bringing freedom for all of us. Freedom is worth fighting for. Yes, even if it means risking my daughterís life. Do you think thatís wrong?"

"No. Youíre a warrior; I could never ask you to run from a fight. But I just donít know if I can be a part of this battle any longer, because itís destroying me inside."

"I have many skills, Gabrielle, but they donít seem to include talking about your feelings and being able to say just the right thing to make you feel better. I canít seem to do for you what you do for me. But I can learn. Can you tell me what you felt when youÖhad to kill Brutus?"

Gabrielle held Eve a little closer to her.

"Iíve never felt such white-hot hatred for anyone in my life, and it scared the shit out of me, Xena. Iíve told myself it was self-defense and he had it coming, but that doesnít seem to help."

"That hatred saved your life."

"Thatís another thing Iíve told myself. Itís what I used to say about your dark side, whenever it would scare me Iíd remind myself how many times itís saved both of us. But now Iím developing my own dark side, and it scares me almost as much as yours. I donít know. Iím starting to feel that youíve become enough like me, and Iím becoming too much like you."

"Iím sorry, Gabrielle. You know I offered to stay with you at the Amazon village and watch you be Queen, and I meant it. If you want to go back you only have to say so."

"Iíve thought about that. But I just donít have the right to deny the world your protection, Xena. Too many people need your help. Iíve been proud to help you make a difference in the world, but the cost is so great. It scares me to think what I might one day be capable of. If this darkness is what keeps you alive, then I should be grateful for it, but itís just not enough to be merely alive. Not any more."

"Gabrielle, why is it a bad thing to hate a man that stood by and did nothing when we were crucified? Who killed Cleopatra and tried to kill you? It seems pretty human to me."

"I donít know. I always felt like I was the one who could forgive anything. If I canít even do that any more, what good am I?"

Xena took a deep breath.

"Gabrielle, please donít say that. I love you and I canít live without you, and I know you think Iíd be OK if you left, but I swear thatís not true. Eve isnít enough. I need you. I keep telling myself I should be noble and make it easy for you to walk away from me, but I just canít do that. Iím sorry for the price youíve paid, being with me. Iím sorry for all the pain youíve gone through, and Iím sorry I canít make it go away. And Iím sorry Iíve been ignoring you and concentrating on Eve, but I swear thatís going to change if youíll just give me another chance. Just, please donít say ĎWhat good am I?í, Gabrielle. What good are my tears?"

Gabrielle wiped the tears away from Xenaís face. Xena turned her face away.

"No, I wasnít going to do this," said Xena. "Iím thinking about myself again. Gabrielle, if you really can feel yourself turning into me, then maybe we should part. Thatís asking too much of anyone."

"Xena, how do you live with it? How do you deal with it?"

"I try to keep busy and I try not to think about it. I always have to have plenty to do. I have to keep my mind occupied."

"Thatís why you couldnít stay with me at the Amazon village?"

"Thatís one reason."

"Donít you ever feel the hatred, like I did? Doesnít it ever scare you?"

"Gabrielle, I tried to kill you once. Nothing could ever scare me any more than that. Thereís nothing I can ever tell myself about that time that could make it alright. The best I can do is remember what it felt like, so I never get close to it again."

"Xena, do you know what Iíve been thinking about the last three days?"

"No, what?"

"I was trying to remember what it was like to be that naïve peasant girl starting out on a grand adventure. I told Lila I was following you because I wanted to be a warrior. All the epic tales made it out to be a grand and glorious life. They never mentioned what a price you pay. What it takes out of your soul. You know, all my life Iíve only wanted to help people and make a difference in their lives."

"You have. And not just my life. How many lives have you been able to save, Gabrielle?"

"I know. And Iíve traveled all over the world and met so many incredible people. When I compare that to what my life wouldíve been in Poteidaia, it makes me wonder how I could ever consider giving up my time with you. I had peace, back in that little village. Plenty of comforting, boring peace. To think that I should ever be nostalgic for that!"

"Are you?"

"Yes I am, a little bit. And the Amazon village could be perfect for me. The perfect combination. Plenty of peace of mind, with a little adventure thrown in, and women who respect me and look up to me. Everything I need. Everything except you."

"Gabrielle, just say the word, weíll be back there so fastÖ"

"OK," said Gabrielle as the last rays of the sun framed her lovely face.

She stood up and gave Eve to Xena.

"The word," said Gabrielle, "is Twilight. Itís getting dark. Letís get some sleep. Weíve got to head for the Temple of the Fates in the morning, and this could be our last night in a bed for awhile."

Xena stood up, with Eve in her arms.

"GabrielleÖ"

"You donít need to say anything."

"JustÖthank you, is all."

They hugged, very carefully, with Eve between them.

"Are you sure?" asked Xena.

"Iím sure. Iíve examined and re-examined everything I ever did, and everything I felt, and everything I thought and everything I ever wanted to do. And through it all thereís just one fact that I canít get away from. I still love you, and I always will. And even if I donít believe any more that you could never live without me, I know that I could never live without you. Even if it destroys my soul bit by bit, Xena, weíre staying together."

"Iíll try and help you. I will. Did I say anything to make you feel better?"

"Not really. But you tried, and you canít imagine how much that means to me."

"I love you so much, Gabrielle."

"I know. And itís nice to hear it, again."

THE END

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