Confessions After Twilight
by Marion D Tuttle
Disclaimers: This is a short little piece that takes the head nodding acknowledgement at the end of Motherhood just a little further. I always thought that their should have been a conversation between Ares and Xena that brought some closure to all that had happened.
Night had fallen on what might just have been the longest day Xena and Gabrielle had ever faced together. The battle for Eve's life and their own, Gabrielle's own battle with the Furies, and the death of most of the Gods. It all seemed surreal, Gabrielle looked back on the events of the last few weeks since they had awakened from their icy tomb. A small sigh escaped her, if someone had told her six years ago, no make that twenty six years ago counting the time the were literally dead to the world. That her life would have turned out this way she would have told them that they were crazy. She had always known she was destined to be more than just a simple farmers wife. But she never would have imagined back then that she would have ended up where she was.
Xena had been watching the silent play of emotions that were crossing her lover's features. She had been lost in thought herself. So much had happened that they hadn't counted on. So many things that should have ripped them apart, and at times nearly did. But somehow they had managed to come through it all, together. That night when the three of them had made camp they had talked. Xena had told Gabrielle that she was sorry for the attack she had made with her chakram. Touching her golden locks Gabrielle had smiled what could only be termed a bitter sweet smile. She had told Xena that she understood why she had taken the action she had. It seemed funny to her that this was another thing that she had come to have an understanding for. Her best friend and lover had for all intents and purposes tried to kill her. But it had not been like the last time. There was no anger or desire for vengeance in Xena's actions. It was simply a reaction to a Mother's fear of seeing her child in danger. Odd that in the beginning Xena had been the one to tell Gabrielle "Act don't react." But Xena was human after all and as such couldn't help having human reactions to some things.
The truth of the matter was Gabrielle did fully understand, she thought is anyone was going to have to beg forgiveness it would be her. She had tried to kill Eve. Had she succeeded it would have been the second time she would have been involved in the death of one of Xena's children. It was her not telling Xena her feelings that she thought had brought things to the level they had been. She couldn't help but feel if she had said something about the thoughts she had been having about Eve that her attempt to kill her could have been avoided.
Xena and Eve assured her that there was nothing she could have done to change the events as they had happened, none of them could have. And they held no blame, it was understood between the three women that they were going to move forward and not dwell on what had been. It had taken many hours of talk and it had been painful in parts but they had worked through it.
Now as Xena and Gabrielle sat in the waning light of the fire there seemed to still be something hanging in the air between them. Eve had decided that her Mother and Gabrielle could use some time alone to talk. She had sensed that there were other issues that did not involve her that needed to be discussed. But she also know that Neither Gabrielle or her Mother would talk about it with her in the camp. At first they had both protested, but she had told them that she wouldn't be far away but in truth she could use some time to herself to think things through as well.
Gabrielle looked to the trees that were outlined in grey against the black of the night sky. "He's out there watching. You know that don't you?"
"I know." Was the short answer. She had hoped against hope that this moment would not come, knowing the whole time that it would.
"Do you want me to go out with you?"
Swallowing the lump that was starting to form in her throat Xena shook her head. "No this is something I have to do myself." She saw Gabrielle's gaze drop to the ground and she reached over, lifting her chin so that she was looking in her eyes. "I am not trying to shut you out. But if we are ever going to move past this point I have to settle this with him once and for all. And I have to do it myself, do you understand?"
"I understand, but that doesn't mean I have to like it...." Gabrielle grazed the back of her fingers lovingly against her warrior's cheek. "Go, talk to him. Make him understand..."
"I will." With that she got up and headed towards the line of trees. Her heart was hammering in her chest, it occurred to her that he had never had this much of an effect on her as a God. But then she had never been in debt to him before, that cast their relationship in a whole new light. As she reached the area that she sensed he was she called out to him. "Alright Ares I know your here, come on out. We need to talk."
He stepped out into the moonlight, she thought she saw something in him that had never been there before. Almost a softening he seemed...vulnerable. "Don't go there" She told herself. "Xena, it's nice to know you can still sense my presence even without my powers. It just proves what I have said all along. I am a part of you..."
"Ares, I wanted to thank you for what you did...."
This is what she was afraid of, she had thought he was going to want something. Ares never did anything for nothing and he was going to draw this out and play on her gratitude. "I know I owe you....But Ares I have to tell you...."
To her surprise he held up his hands. "You know what Xena I can't do this. I have to admit I was going to pull a guilt trip on you, try to shame you into giving me what I wanted. But believe it or not I have learned something from all of this. I could probably use your guilt against you and wear you down, your code of honor would demand that you do something to repay me for saving your daughter and Gabrielle, but I can't. Even if I could force you into being with me through your guilt I know now that wouldn't be enough."
She arched a brow at him as he continued on.
"Even if you gave into me Xena, I might have your body. But I would never have your heart. it's clear to me now that Gabrielle has your heart, she always has and she always will. So Xena my final gift to you is this. You are free of me, consider what I did a sort of payback for all the nasty little things I have done to you in the past."
Xena couldn't believe what she was hearing, there had to be a catch. She narrowed her eyes at him. "What's the gimmick Ares? This sounds to good to be true."
"I'm a lot of things Xena, but stupid isn't one of them. I have tried for years to get to you. I have tried to come between you and Gabrielle. And every time I though I had effectively driven a wedge between the two of you, you come back together stronger than ever. Even an Ex God Of War knows when it is time to give up the battle."
He turned to leave, almost as an after thought he turned back to her. "Just so you know Xena... When I said I love you, I meant it."
She stood starting at his departing back feeling an odd mix of emotions. Relief that their years long game of cat and mouse was finally at an end. A bit of sorrow for him for all he had lost because of her and her child and strangely enough a sense of loss that he would no longer be a part of her life.
As she walked back to the campsite her heart lightened, it truly was over. Her daughter was safe, and just as importantly she and Gabrielle were, after everything going to be able to move forward. She saw the bard's expression as she came closer. "Gods this has been hell for her." Xena said to herself watching the woman that was her soul mate.
Rising to meet Xena's return Gabrielle felt the knots in her stomach tighten. She knew that Xena's intention had been to tell Ares that there was no chance for them. She had almost expected to hear the sounds of battle come from the trees when Xena had told him this. But when there had been nothing forthcoming but silence Gabrielle had grown more and more apprehensive, wondering if the warrior had lost her resolve in the face of the tremendous debt that they all owed Ares.
Two words from her warrior and she felt the tension start to drain from her body. "It's over."
"How did he take it?"
Xena found herself marveling again at the second most unselfish thing Ares had done. "He surprised me, he told me he understood that there was never going to be a future for us and he walked away."
Giving this information time to filter Gabrielle let this idea go through her brain several times. "He just...?"
"I know, I told you it was the last thing I would have expected of him." Reaching out she pulled Gabrielle to her placing tender kisses along her jaw line. "We won Gabrielle....we have our lives back."
A deep sigh escaped the bard, letting the feeling of being wrapped in Xena's arms envelope her. This was what they had gone through everything for, all that had been thrown in their paths over the years. There had been obstacles that had times had seemed like they would never get past but in the end they were brought to this. A love that could not be broken. They didn't fool themselves at all, just by the nature of the lives they had chosen to live their would be other challenges to face. Their would be other threats that would test their resolve to be together. But the one thing they knew above all else is that no matter what The Fates threw at them they would handle it, as they always had ...together.
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