by CN Winters
See Part One for disclaimers.
Gabrielle crouched on a limb next to a young man high above the tree. He can't be much older than the boy from the village when Xena pit Caesar and Pompy against each other. So young and already getting a taste of war.
"See anything yet?"
"Not yet ma'am," he answered politely.
"Well, keep watch. I'm sure they'll be back before sunrise," she told him. "Just remember to release that yellow scarf when you first see them and the red one when they are within a league. Okay? The runner down there will take care of the rest."
"I will ma'am," he answered confidently, proud with the trust the town was putting into him. His warning was key to the town's plan of defense.
"Gabrielle?" they both heard a voice call up. It was Xena's.
"On my way," Gabrielle hollered down. "You'll do just fine," Gabrielle commended the boy with a pat on the back before she scurried down the tree.
Moments later she was on the ground next to the warrior. "Everything okay?" she asked.
"Yes everything's in place," Xena answered. "Now it seems we wait . . . I thought now might be a good time to talk."
Gabrielle felt a little knot in her stomach that came up unexpected. She knew that she promised to converse with Xena but she still was unsure of what to expect. "Okay," she said as carefree as she could muster. She didn't want Xena to see the depth of her nervousness. "Where would you like to go?"
"Let's go check on the water brigade and make sure things are in order," Xena suggested as they began to walk through the town. "I'm not sure where to start," Xena grinned. "I guess I've learned things that you should know . . . I'm just worried you might think I'm holding it over your head as a way to get you back. It's not I assure you . . . but then again I'm not quite sure if my 'assurance' means anything to you," Xena said honestly.
Give her a break. "Look Xena, I spoke with Eve earlier today and I promised her I'd try to look at things from a different perspective. You've kept your word to me on more occasions than not. I'll just have to go on faith and say that whatever you tell me I'll believe," Gabrielle interrupted. "So out with it . . . What have you learned?"
Should I just blurt it now or do I put a little scenario to it first? "Eve's your daughter." Well that ended that debate didn't it warrior?
"Yeah you told me that the last day we were together. 'We've got OUR daughter back.' I-"
"No Gabrielle," Xena stopped her, giving a slight look of apology. "I mean she's YOUR daughter. Your flesh. Your blood . . . Ares told me and although I don't put much faith in Ares as a god, he had no reason to lie to me as a mortal. Besides he didn't come right out and tell me," Xena chuckled. "I had my suspicious after spending weeks watching Eve. She reminded me of someone - then one night it hit me. That someone was you. I rousted Ares awake and threatened to rearrange his face if he didn't 'fess up."
"So you threatened him until he told you what you wanted to hear?" Gabrielle asked, the condescension hung in her voice.
"No," Xena said quickly. "It wasn't like that," she added.
"No it wasn't and if you were there you'd understand what I mean," Xena snapped.
Gabrielle released a sigh of impending frustration. "Yeah I know I wasn't there Xena. You didn't leave me much choice."
"I didn't leave you much choice?! Who left who here?" Xena countered. "Who was willing to talk about things and who tried to sneak away in the middle of the night?"
"Look I'm not gonna get into this now. We have an upcoming battle to face and-"
"And what?!" Xena replied getting louder. Both women looked around them when they noticed a few heads turning in their direction at the noise. "What else is going to come up Gabrielle?" Xena asked, her voice lowered again. "How many more things can we manage to put ahead of this relationship? If it's not this battle then it will be some other excuse - some other thing that needs your attention, everything except us," Xena hissed. "Well I'm sorry Gabrielle but I'm not buying any more of your 'reasons'. You want to blame me for all of this that's fine but you've got a fine list of sins too so don't you dare stand there and play the martyr for me. You might have moved on with Eponin but I need some kind of closure here."
"Look I'm not saying I'm perfect Xena."
"No Gabrielle you're just saying I'm completely wrong . . . That's not much of a difference if you ask me."
Gabrielle didn't respond and she noticed that Xena was actually walking away. "Where are you going?" Gabrielle called out. "I thought you wanted to talk."
"Talk yes," Xena stopped as she turned around to face the bard. "Yell no. I'm not going to get into a shouting match and that's where this is heading. I'm willing to take responsibility for the wrongs I've done Gabrielle but I refuse to be the only one here that's to blame for our problems. Once we cool down then perhaps clearer heads will prevail. Until then I'm checking on the archers."
What the hell does she want from me?! Gabrielle screamed in her mind as Xena continued to walk away from her. Why does she do this to me?!
"Love," Gabrielle heard a voice say behind her. "She does it because of love. And as much as I hate to admit it, she's right . . .I thought you were ready but looks like even the Goddess of Love still makes mistakes."
Gabrielle turned to see Aphrodite behind her, a pitiful look on her face.
"Don't torment me," Gabrielle groaned. "I have enough torment going on in my life at the moment."
Aphrodite cocked her head as she looked at Gabrielle standing defiantly, with her hands on her hips. "You reap much of the heartache that you sow with your shortsightedness."
Gabrielle shook her head trying to comprehend what Dite was saying. "Huh?" was all she managed to get out.
Dite chuckled. "Sorry let me put it in simple terms - you feel bad because you're not looking at the whole picture which is partially your fault."
"I'm not looking at the whole picture?" Gabrielle challenged. "The woman took the back of my head off with her chakram."
"After you stabbed her daughter," Dite pointed out.
"It wasn't my doing Aphrodite," Gabrielle answered. "That was your sisters and her friends the furies, if you fail to remember."
"Yeah I know . . . but did YOU ever apologize to Eve or Xena for those events. Did you ever explain why? I'm sure they understand the situation. But did you ever voice your regret over it all . . . at least once?"
Gabrielle threw her hands up in the air. "I should apologize for Xena striking ME with HER chakram? Oh that's rich."
"No," Dite answered. "You should apologize to both of them for playing a part in the stabbing - unintentional or not . . . Of course there's more, much more, that you need to make amends for but we'll take it one step at a time 'k?" Dite winked.
Why is it so hard to stay mad at her? Gabrielle thought as her anger began to give way to understanding.
"Because," Dite grinned. "I'm adorable. Admit it."
Gabrielle chuckled. "Yes Dite, you are adorable."
"Well at least we agree on one thing . . . Think you could give the warrior another shot before the impending battle? I don't think either of you want to go into this thing with all that 'unresolved' kid stuff. Do you?"
No I don't Gabrielle considered. In fact I never did really give voice to the news that Xena told me. Eve is my daughter - MY daughter . . . No OUR daughter. She gave a small smile and took a breath to speak to the goddess.
"Save it," Dite told her. "You're welcome. Now go find that warrior of yours already?" she added with a shoo of her hands.
"I'm all over it," Gabrielle grinned as she began to jog toward the archers.
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