I've Seen the Devil's Eyes
Sinful [

Disclaimers: See Part 1

As with all things, there is a beginning and an ending.

Once more, I would like to thank the people who have helped me on my latest endeavor;

MaryD – for creating a place for me to call home.

Kathy, Barb and Kam - No matter how good the story, it flows better when the grammar is fixed and the errors corrected. I thank you.

To my
Angel from Kansas – It hasn't been easy, but my story is done, and you now have my undivided attention, well … until Sinful rises again. – Your Saint


~ The conclusion ~

Rest in Peace

When it all started, it was easy to see,
Who was the warrior and who wanted to be.
A bard soon emerged, but her battle scars grew,
Before you even knew it, she had become just like you.

It never crossed your mind, the price you might pay,
Now you both fight your demons in the same way.
It was never discussed how it would all end.
You were too busy fighting to become more than friends.

Battles you fought, and wars you have won,
But your twilight is nearing like the set of the sun.
The past has been written and your names will live on,
The morning sun rises even after you're gone.

But what is it in life that we all seek to find,
Is it love in our heart or peace in our mind?
Because even in death you will walk side by side,
In fields like Elysian to the world you have lied.


Chapter 34 - the Present

With her small hand, she brushed away the shavings and looked down at the plank she had been carving. The letters were shaky and all different sizes, but she didn't seem to care. The words were hers and they came from her heart. With patience and care, she had been taught to read and write. The skills needed to carve had come naturally, but she still enjoyed the time the warrior had taken to guide her talent.

She traced the letters with her finger as she closed her eyes to envision where the finished plaque would hang. Maybe even on the wall, right next to their battle scarred weapons, also being laid to rest. Following the curves of the letters, she spelled out the letters of Warrior Princess, then her fingers glided over the grain of the wood, until she felt the spelling of the Battling Bard.

With a regretful smile, she opened her eyes and looked at all the hard work she had done. It was finished and it was time for her to let it go. There was nothing more to be added to gift that she had made for her friends.

Tucking the plaque under her arm, she left the little work area Tiberius had made for her in his barn, and headed into the house. He looked up at her as she entered the backdoor and smiled.

“How is it going, little one?” he asked the child as she crossed the room and climbed into his lap.

Tiberius held out one of his scarred hands. “Is it finished? Do I finally get to see this masterpiece you have been working so hard on?”

She pulled out her carved plaque and held it up for him. His eyes followed the carved letters as he admired her work.

“Very well put. You did a good job,” he whispered hoarsely into her white hair. “A good job.” He swallowed the lump rising in his throat. Leaning down, he placed a gentle kiss on the top of her head, but his eyes never left the words carved in the wood.

Chapter 35 – the Past

“Yiyiyiyiyiyiyiyiyiyiyi.” The Warrior Princess flew past Kummel in a blur as she flipped and somersaulted into the air, her hands reaching out after the cut rope.

Kummel turned to face Tiberius, he waited for the break of tension to pull the giant off his feet, but it didn't happen. The longer he waited the more he realized he had been the fool. Tiberius was still on his feet, and there had been no resounding thud of Gabrielle's body crashing on to the deck.

'But what could have gone wrong?' he thought.

Kummel turned to look up at the yardarm to see Gabrielle hanging on to the mast. The white haired child was standing next to her, with a knife in her hand and a smile on her face. The Warrior Princess was hanging with one hand on the cut rope and the other on the yardarm. Xena looked back over her shoulder at the infuriated shop owner.

Only then did he realize he had been tricked. Somehow, that pesky little child had spoiled his plans again. This time she had cut the rope holding the blonde bard. With Gabrielle hanging onto the mast, the child had tied the loose end to the yardarm, to make the rope around Ti's wrist appear to be tight. But when Kummel had cut it, Xena had used the loose end as a swing, and as a quick means to reach Gabrielle.

Kummel looked back at the child and shook his fist at her.

“You little –“ Kummel never had a chance to finish what he was going to say. With his left hand now free, Tiberius reached over the side and grabbed a section of chain holding the anchor. Pulling it up onto the deck, he swung the slack chain around Kummel. The shop owner dropped his knife when the links pinned his arms to his sides. When Tiberius let him go the weight of the anchor slammed his body against the railing of the ship. Kummel's face winced in pain as the sound of his ribs breaking filled the air.

“Tiberius … what are … you doing? You … you have to help … me,” he gasped.

“You are a bad man, Kummel. You hurt a lot of people, people that I like.” He slammed his right wrist against the hardwood railing, breaking the shackle, and setting him free.

“I will make you pay for this, Tiberius … I have gold and that … that buys a lot of friends these days.” As sweat was beading on his forehead, he grunted under the pain and pressure.

Ti looked up as Xena swung down onto the deck. She was hanging onto the rope with one hand, and the pale bard with the other. The concern for the blacksmith was evident on Gabrielle's face, as she kept her hands around the warrior's neck.

“You okay, Tiberius?” Gabrielle asked quietly.

“You will rue the day –,“ Kummel's words were silenced by Xena's flying fist.

“I think we have heard enough from you,” Xena said as his unconscious body dropped to the deck.

“I am much better,” Ti said with a smile.

The child appeared almost out of nowhere and quickly snapped the shackle around Kummel's ankle. She stood up and wrapped her arms around Tiberius but his joy turned to concern.

“Are you okay?” he asked Gabrielle as she looked down at her injured shoulder.

Xena looked down and gave Gabrielle a reassuring squeeze.

“I'll live,” she said as she tried to smile, but the painful cut on her face made it difficult.

“Come on, let's get everyone cleaned up and stitched up.”

The child pointed up at Xena's side. The warrior looked down then ran her fingers over the small cut in her leathers.

“Yeah, me too,” she said as she looked at the blood on her fingers from where Kummel's knife had cut her.

“What about him?” Gabrielle pointed to the unconscious shop-keeper.

“We'll send someone back for him.”

“Why?” Gabrielle's question brought a startled reaction from Xena. Never before had she heard Gabrielle be so callous.

Holding her left elbow in her hands to could cradle her injured shoulder, the pale bard turned and walked away with her warrior by her side.

Once back at Tiberius's house, Gabrielle insisted Xena look after Ti first. The cuts to her face and the wound in her shoulder were nothing compared to the damage to his hands. Looking over her shoulder at the giant and the child sitting at the table, Xena reluctantly had to agree.

She sent the child out for fresh water before she sat down to examine his hands.

“Nothing appears to be broken. Can you wiggle your fingers?” Ti did as he was told, even though the movement was slow and obviously painful. He looked up as Gabrielle came over from the bed.

“I'm sorry Ti, this was all my fault.”

“No, it wasn't Gabrielle. He was my friend, or at least I thought so,” he said.

“I should have listened to Xena, or at least had my Sais with me.” Gabrielle pulled a chair out with her good hand, and sat down. Xena looked over at her, concern was clearly written on her face as she watched the bard holding her injured arm.

“And what if you had, do you think it would have been different? It could have been a lot worse,” Xena said.

“I know, but still …”

“There are a lot of angry people out there, Gabrielle, and most of them wouldn't lose a wink of sleep over killing you, or anyone else for that matter.”

“Yes there are,” the volume of her voice dropped as her eyes drifted down to look at the table. “And there's a lot of innocent people dying because of it.”

It was obvious to Xena that Gabrielle was thinking about something more than the events of the day.

“You okay?” Xena asked sympathetically.

“Yeah,” was all she said as she lowered her head, running her fingertips through her hair, Tiberius saw her wince and so did the child. She had been hanging back, away from the three of them. But when she saw Gabrielle's pain, she had crossed the room to sit down on the floor between the blacksmith and the bard. She looked up at her, and was rewarded with a small smile.

“You have a bump on your head too,” Ti said.

Gabrielle looked up at his comment with the smile still on her face. “Yes, I guess we all have one now.”

“How is your head now, Ti?” Xena asked as she kept her eyes on his wrist and hand.

“It's okay, my head is thick, like yours.” Xena wasn't sure which thick-headed warrior he was referring to, and she decided it was better not to ask.

The three fell silent as Xena continued to work on Ti's hands. It was a slow painful process, but the gentle giant stayed quiet, leaving Xena to tend to his injuries. It was dark outside by the time she was finished. They had a few visitors once word got out as to what had happened, but when Mother 'Been found they were in need of quiet, the polite interruptions ceased. Once all the strangers were gone, the child returned from her hiding place to sit once more between Gabrielle and Ti. When Xena was finally finished with Ti, she and the child helped him to bed. The small child climbed into the bed and curled up next to him, and soon she was fast asleep.

Xena returned to the table, and to the task of tending to Gabrielle's wounds. Reaching for one of the chairs, she spun it around and sat in it backwards. Resting her elbow on its back, she reached for Gabrielle's face.

“Does it burn?” Xena asked as she tilted the bard's chin to get a better look in the candlelight.

“Not much.”

“It doesn't look that deep, but I'll make you a poultice to put on it.” Xena climbed out of her chair and went to look around Ti's kitchen. Luckily, he had what she needed, and she substituted the rest. When she returned, she saw Gabrielle looking over at the two on the bed.

They kept their voices low, not wanting to disturb them.

“I think they'll both rest easy tonight,” Xena said as she handed the poultice to Gabrielle.

“Yes, I would think so.”

“Let me take a look at that shoulder.” The warrior palpated the site around the wound, but stopped when she saw Gabrielle flinch. “Ok, wiggle your fingers. How is that?”


“Can you move your arm?” The moment she tried, Xena saw the flinch and the color instantly drain from her face. Gabrielle knew she could not hide her grimace from Xena's knowing eyes.

“That's not good, is it?” she asked with a weak smile.

“I've seen us have worse.”

A peaceful silence fell between them, as the warrior worked on the bard's shoulder. The pain Gabrielle had upon moving just her forearm gave Xena more concern then she was letting on.

The bard's green eyes drifted away from Xena's working fingers, as she looked out the window into the dark of night.

“Xena?” she said softly.

“Hmmm,” was all the warrior offered in return.

“About the other night in the barn ...”

Xena stopped what she was doing and looked into Gabrielle's face.

“I didn't mean to push the issue, I just –“ Her words faded away when she turned and found Xena's face only inches from her own. Suddenly she found her mouth very dry, as her eyes fell to Xena's waiting lips.

Realizing what she had done, she looked away and fumbled for something to say. “I know things haven't always gone the way we planned them.” She looked back at Xena, and found the courage to say what she meant. “Sometimes, we just do what we think is right for us. I want to be by your side, but not if you don't want –“

Gabrielle's words were cut short by a low moan coming from Tiberius's bed. Everything in her heart told Xena to stay and listen to what Gabrielle was saying, but Ti's immediate health over-ruled her heart.

Seeing the conflict on the warrior's face, the bard urged the healer in her. “Go, go ahead.”

Xena decision was made for her when she saw him trying to sit up in his bed. Quickly, she was by his side. He said nothing, but motioned 'he wanted to get up'. He rose with Xena's assistance and the two walked over to the table.

“Are you okay?”

“I was thirsty and, well … my hands hurt,” he said rather sheepishly.

“It's okay to say they hurt, Ti. I've got a few things here that will help.” The Warrior Princess retrieved some items and mixed them into a cup.

“I didn't want to wake her.” He motioned with his head to the child still sleeping in a tight ball on the bed.

“Ti, what do you know about her?” Xena asked as poured hot water from the kettle over the fireplace, into his cup.

“Not much more than you do. I know she came here from the sea, by herself.” He reached for the cup and then stopped, realizing he was unable to grasp it with his bandaged hands. Gabrielle saw the situation and the uncertainty on the blacksmith's face.

“Try using both hands, Ti.” He tried the suggestion and soon was sipping the hot medicinal tea.

Looking back at the sleeping child, Xena asked, “Has she ever made a noise or even a small sound?”

“Nope, never. Like I said, someone cut out her tongue.”

“I know that, but she should still be able to make sounds. How about when she laughs?” Ti couldn't help but notice how tired Gabrielle's voice sounded.

“I've seen her smile, but I can't say I've ever heard her laugh,” he said with regret.

All three of them held their comments as they thought about the lonely existence she must have lived through.

“Every child needs to laugh, and every child needs a name,” Xena commented as she looked up from her work. “She needs a name, Ti.”

“I don't know how to name a child.”

“Well, we can't keep calling her the child,” Gabrielle said as she lifted her eyes off of the stitching Xena had resumed.

Their conversation immediately ceased, when the child in question stretched awake. She rose sleepily from the bed and then padded over to the table. She rubbed her red eyes as she crawled onto Tiberius's lap. He wrapped his bandaged hands protectively around her small body. Lifting his head over hers, he smiled at the motherly observations from both Xena and Gabrielle.

“Give the child a name Ti. I think it's pretty obvious, she isn't going anywhere without you,” Xena said.

He said nothing as he kissed the top of her head.

Chapter 36 – the Present

Tiberius folded up the leathers, Xena's leathers, which had been delivered to him. Holding the warrior's clothes in his hands gave him a funny, but sad feeling. Looking down at them, he brushed off some of the dried blood that had stained them a lifetime ago. The tips of his fingers traced the stitching where he had mended Xena's leathers, after Kummel's knife had cut her. He recalled now, how Xena had said nothing about the injury she had sustained from the shopkeeper.

The Warrior's armor was in his hands and no matter how he looked at it, it still made him sad as he placed her leathers into a box.

The sound of the backdoor opening drew his attention and his face brightened as the child came through the door. He realized just how much she had changed over the short period of time. Gone was the wild child who had lived in the forest. Her white hair had taken several washings to get it clean and untangled, but it was still a mass of snow-white curls. Her red eyes had brightened, and her smile was seen often through the fading scars that would never go away. Proper clothes had replaced her rags, but shoes were another battle all together. Everyone had tried to get her to wear them, but to no avail. The moment they turned their backs, the shoes were gone and so was she.

Although she was no longer feared in the village, it wasn't a place in which she felt comfortable in. The same went with Ti's home. He had made her bed, but she preferred the hammock she had made with Xena in the barn's hayloft. He offered to build her a room, but she couldn't get used to the confines of the house.

She tapped on the counter, pulling Tiberius from his thoughts. Her puzzled look told him her concern.

“I'm fine,” he said as he looked down at the box. “I just didn't think it would be this hard, that's all.”

She felt it too as she looked out the window and then up at the sky.

“We have lots of time before we need to leave.” Her lack of speech never seemed to bother either of them. She always found her own way of getting her point across.

Gabrielle had taken on the monstrous task of trying to teach her to write. In a very short time she proved what they all already knew, that she was a very bright young child.

Crossing the kitchen she pulled out a chair and hopped up on it.

“Is that the way a young lady is supposed to sit in a chair?” Her features darkened as she crossed her thumb over her finger. It was her symbol for X, which meant only one thing.

“I don't think Xena showed you to sit like that.” She hung her head slightly and then sat down properly. Looking over all the items on the table, she reached for the one that amazed her most.

“Careful with that.” She nodded as her eyes danced over what she had found.

Chapter 37 – the Past

Xena kicked open the back door with her foot, then carried the two buckets of water into the kitchen.

“Hey, can you get the door please?” Xena said over her shoulder to Gabrielle and the child who was sitting at her feet. The child jumped up and quickly closed the door.

“Do you need a hand?” Tiberius asked from his bed.

“No, thank you. Besides you don't have one to spare anyhow,” she said sarcastically, and then she turned to the bard who was getting ready to put down her parchment and quill. “Hey you're on the mend too, teacher, so stay and teach.”

“I think the pupil would rather be doing something else,” Gabrielle pointed out the child at Xena's elbow.

“I see that.” She put her hands on her hips and looked at her white haired shadow. “And have we chosen a name yet?”

The child smiled and shook her head no. Xena smiled down at the playfulness that showed so easily now.

“We have to call you something,” the warrior said, but the child only smiled back.

“How about Ti?” Tiberius said from his bed.

Gabrielle quickly covered her mouth but not before Xena saw the smile, “Ah, I think that one has been taken.”

Xena crouched down to look the child in the face. “I still think you should pick it.” She tapped her chest with her finger, emphasizing her point.

At first the child just smiled, but as Xena watched the change come over her red eyes, she knew she had struck some kind of idea in her mind. They had all learned quickly there was no challenge too big that she wouldn't try.

Her eyes looked around as if she was searching the room for her name. No one said anything as they watched her with interest. With slow hesitant steps, she crossed the room to stand next to Ti, who was still sitting in his bed. She raised her finger up and pointed at his chest.

“We can't use Ti, sweetie, it is his name,” Gabrielle said softly. The child's face changed and she shook her head.

“Not Ti?” Xena asked. She pointed at Tiberius again.

“Big?” Xena questioned.

“Man?” Gabrielle said, but stopped when the small finger was turned and pointed at her.

“Woman?” said the warrior, but the child took her finger and pointed from Gabrielle to Xena.

“All of us?” Gabrielle questioned.

“Family,” Xena said loudly in a guess. Her blue eyes were on the child so she never saw Gabrielle's reaction to what she had called out.

It was something Gabrielle had tried not to think about, but the pain in her heart wouldn't let her. She watched silently from her chair as Tiberius and Xena played the guessing game with the child.

“Father?” Xena yelled out.

“Mother?” Tiberius followed suit. The child clapped her hands in delight. They had discovered it was true. She made no sound at all even when she laughed, but it never stopped her from having fun.




“Aunt?” Tiberius and Xena were laughing at their game of word Ping-Pong.



“Friend?” The child grinned broadly. Signaling they were on to something.

“Friend, you want us to call you friend?”

“I don't think so Ti, but I think it is something close to it.” Xena said as her face turned to serious thought. “Buddy?”


“I don't know. I'm running out of words for friend.”

“Me too,” said Ti from the bed. “Sorry,” he said to the child as he ruffled her curly hair.

Gabrielle looked down at the parchment on her lap, and then said something under her breath.

“What was that?” Xena asked the bard.

“Oh, I was … Maybe we are looking in the wrong direction? I mean we don't know where she came from, so maybe we are using the wrong language.”

“Like what?”

“I don't know, you're more a linguist Xena, than me.”

“Alright … how about … um … amicus?” They look to the child for a sign but the word said nothing to her.

“What was that?” Ti asked.

“Latin,” Xena responded.

“Try something else, Xena,” Gabrielle urged.

“Ok … how about the language from one of my mentors, Lao Ma … shin'yuu?”

She showed no sign of understanding the warrior, but it was easy to see that she wanted to.

“I didn't think she was from there, but I thought it was worth a try. Why don't you try something, Gabrielle?”

“Xena, I have never had a good tongue for speaking different languages. I know bits and pieces but that is it. I just write things down.”

“You do more than that,” Xena said sharply.

“Xena, this not the time nor the place.” Gabrielle turned back to the fire and to her parchment. Sadly, Xena returned to preparing the meal.

Quiet fell over the room as they all listened to the crackle of the fire and the scratching of Gabrielle's quill. It was a bit later when the warrior lifted her head to a low barely audible mumble coming from the bard. Xena's eyes went from Gabrielle to the child who was paying very close attention to the blonde bard's mumblings.

“Gabrielle.” The bard looked up from her parchment.

“Whatever you said got someone's attention.” She nodded over to the bed.

“What did you say?”

“I'm not sure. I was trying to remember the word for friend in different languages and dialects.”

“Well, whatever you said, try it again,” Xena urged her.

Gabrielle bit on her lip before she attempted the word again. “Mon Am, no that's not it. Um mon a … amie.”

The child's eyes grew large as she looked at Gabrielle.

“I believe we have hit on something here. Try something else.”

“I don't know anything else, it's French **. Oh wait … bonjour, amie.” The child had crossed the room and was now standing in front of the bard, holding out her hand.

Gabrielle's smile was no match for that of the child's.

“Amie,” Gabrielle said as she pointed at her chest. The child nodded, pointing from Gabrielle to herself.

“You are Amie … to all of us.” Gabrielle placed the parchment on the floor and then held open her right hand and the child climbed onto her lap.

“What does it mean?” asked Tiberius who was now sitting on the edge of the bed.

“It means friend,” Gabrielle said with a smile as she had her arm wrapped around the very happy child.

They had found a piece of her past and more importantly, they had found her a name.

Chapter 38 – the present

Amie sat very still as Tiberius combed out her hair. It was one of her favorite times, because the only way she would sit still long enough was if whoever was combing her hair told her a story at the same time. Today was no exception. Amie loved how they all told them so differently.

Tiberius told her tales his father had told him. He would change his voice, bringing a smile to her face, even if it was a scary story. Xena had a different approach. Her stories were littered with battles between bad guys versus good guys, and Gods versus monsters. She would go into details about strategies and planning, the art of weaponry and how she did things and why. But what Amie liked the most was when Xena sang for her. If the Warrior Princess was singing, Amie was not far off. She didn't always understand what Xena was singing, but the sound of the warrior's voice soothed her like nothing else.

But the bard of Poteidaia was by far her favorite. Gabrielle's rich and colorful language would paint her a story on invisible canvas. The people she talked about came alive in her mind; the lay of the land on distance shores felt so real. She didn't always believe the stories Gabrielle told. There was no way two people could have lived through so much, but Ti and the people of Brimstone told her the tales were true. Xena and Gabrielle really were the Warrior Princess and the Battling Bard. When Gabrielle began to teach her to write, her reward at the end of the lesson was a story. Whether it was wild tales, or lessons of life, Amie hung on every word Gabrielle spoke.

Amie held up her hand to Tiberius and the blacksmith stopped brushing.

“What is it?” he asked.

She got off her chair and retrieved the tablet Gabrielle had given her. With great patience and concentration, she wrote something down and then brought it over to him. Tiberius studied the words. Though her printing was coming along, she still had problems with the correct usage of words.

“Yes, I believe Xena's daughter, Eve, will be there, as well as Gabrielle's sister, Lila and her daughter,” he said answering her question.

Amie turned her attention back down to her tablet and wrote something else. Ti looked over her shoulder and smiled slightly.

“No, I don't think Ares will be there, this is just for close friends and family.” Amie couldn't help but smile at the word, family.

Chapter 39 – the past

The barn was quiet except for the odd animal noise. The warrior and the bard stood closer than they had in a long time. The ease they had felt for so long had been replaced with an unspoken tension. Their friendship was still intact, but at times they both wondered for how long.

“You're going to have to be careful for a while,” Xena said to Gabrielle as she unwrapped the bandage that had been covering her shoulder wound.

Rolling up the thin cotton cloth, she watched the bard attempt to roll her shoulder around.

“How does it feel?”

“Good. Stiff but good. A little while and I'll be back fighting –“

Xena cut off her words, not wanting to hear what was behind her need for a quick recovery. “Try lifting your hand over your head.” Gabrielle started to do as Xena suggested, but stopped with a grimace.

“It will get better.”

“Will it?”

“I don't know about holding a staff or a sword -” Xena turned her back to the bard and stuffed the cotton bandage into her saddlebag.

“You don't have to worry. I'll be able to look after myself.” Gabrielle made no attempt at keeping her sarcasm out of her voice.

“That is not my concern Gabrielle.” She turned back to face the young blonde bard.

“Then what is your concern, Xena?”

“Where is all this hostility coming from? I have never known you to act so … so,” Xena searched for the right words but couldn't find one.

“Independent. Well, excuse me if I don't want to sit around here being babysat, while playing house.”

“Gabrielle, that's not what I meant.” Once again, she felt helpless in trying to reach the woman who held her heart. “Why don't you look at this like an opportunity? A chance to live our lives without the added emotions -“

“Added emotions! Is that how you look at this?”

“No, Gabrielle, you are twisting my words. I just think the time has come for us to take a step back and look at –“

“Oh, I am taking a step back, then I'm taking a step out of here. I would rather leave now then to have to wade through any 'added emotions'. I know how they can clutter a warrior's mind!”

“Emotions do not clutter my mind!” Xena felt the temperature of her face rising with her anger and frustration.

“Who said I was talking about you?” Gabrielle squared her shoulders and stood an arm length away. The tendons in her neck were extending as she closed her fist by her side.

Trying to calm the rising tension, Xena lifted her hands and spoke softly.

“Gabrielle, all I'm saying is maybe it is time to put down your weapons and look at what we have. Why continue on if this is what the result is?”

Her quiet words had the opposite reaction from Gabrielle. Her green eyes burned in anger as she spat out, “Why continue on at all, if I can't hold a weapon? What good am?” She spun on her heels and almost ripped the barn door off its leather hinges, leaving a bewildered Xena behind.

“Ah for the love of -” Xena turned around and slammed her hand against the railing of one of the stalls. It didn't help. Her temper got the better of her as she kicked out with her boot, sending a bale of hay flying. It felt so good, she moved on to the next one and then other after that. Soon the entire lower half of the barn was raining stalks of hay. Xena didn't stop until there wasn't an intact bale left. Resting against the stall railing, she huffed and puffed against the sudden release of pent-up emotion.

She took several deep breaths before she opened her eyes, then watched as the dust and hay floated back down. Turning around at the mess she had made, something caught her attention out of the corner of her eyes. Looking up, Xena was not surprised to see Amie sitting at the top of the ladder.

“How long have you been sitting there?”

Amie pointed at the door.

“Great, since Gabrielle left.” She nodded and Xena turned away, looking for a pitchfork before she spoke.

“We have discussed that it's not nice to listen to other people's conversations, haven't we?” Amie hesitated, then shook her head yes. Jumping down from her perch, she went over to the side of the barn and pull down a rake.

Xena took it from her hand. “I made the mess, I'll clean it up.”

Reaching out with the rake, the warrior began cleaning up the mess she had created.

“Why were you listening to our conversation?” Amie shrugged her shoulders. She sat and watched the warrior for a while, before she walked over and retrieved a pitchfork. This time, Xena said nothing as the child lent a hand.

The two worked silently side by side, cleaning up the hay. It took a long while, but soon the child was asking questions in her normal way. Xena would stop and watch her movements and gestures, then she would do her best to answer them. But when the questions turned to the subject of Gabrielle, Xena couldn't find the right words to say.

When they finally found the floor of the barn, Xena put the tools away. They headed out of the barn together, almost running straight into Gabrielle.

“I was looking for Amie. It's time for her lesson,” Gabrielle said without even looking at Xena.

“That's fine. I was leaving anyhow.”

“Leaving?” Xena never heard the concern in Gabrielle's question.

“I've got things to do.” The warrior turned without another word and headed into the forest.

The bard and the child stood and watched her go. Amie looked up and saw the hurt in Gabrielle's eyes. The bard saw her looking and attempted to cover her pain.

“Come on, let's go inside.” They both turned and went into the house.

Even for a mute, Amie was very quiet for their afternoon study. They were well past the alphabet by now, and were working diligently on helping her understand the meaning of words. She picked up on things so quickly that there had been times when their lesson had ended early because Gabrielle had nothing else planned.

The bard was watching Amie with her printing. When she was done, she went to hand Gabrielle her tablet. Reaching out with her left hand, she grasped it, but the moment the weight was on her hand, pain flashed across Gabrielle's face and the tablet fell to the ground.

Gabrielle immediately grabbed her shoulder. Amie jumped off her chair and ran around the table to be at Gabrielle's side. Holding her left hand into her left shoulder, the bard attempted to reassure the child.

“I'm okay, really. I am so sorry, I didn't mean to startle you.” Needing one more moment to compose herself, Gabrielle nodded to the dropped tablet. “Is it okay?”

Amie reached down and picked up her tablet, then placed it on the table. Fear and concern never left her young features. The bard tried to smile the whole thing away, but she wasn't fooling anyone.

This was not the first time this had happened, and Amie didn't like keeping secrets from Ti or from Xena.

“Amie, I'm fine. Really.”

She made an X with her thumb and forefinger, then pointed at Gabrielle's shoulder. The bard knew what the child was asking, and she couldn't bring herself to tell a lie.

“No, I haven't told Xena. This is between you and me, remember?” She looked down at her numb and tingling left hand. Squeezing and wiggling her fingers seemed to restore what little feeling she had in her hand, but it did nothing to relieve the emotional downfall she was in.

“Now come on, let's get back to work.” Amie did as she was told, but it didn't stop her from thinking what she already knew. Gabrielle's sick shoulder was not getting any better.

“Good morning everyone,” Ti said as he came into the house carrying one of Amie's baskets filled with eggs. Gabrielle, who was already in the kitchen fixing the morning meal, looked up with a smile.

“Morning, Ti. Xena was looking for you, but I told her you had gone to collect some eggs for breakfast.”

Each morning, Xena would change his bandages and check his wounds. Happily, Ti's hands were improving everyday. The skin that had been ripped open by the rope had healed the quickest. His right wrist and hand were taking longer. Xena was concerned with the skin that had been peeled back by the iron shackle, and she was taking great care to ensure it didn't get infected.

Seeing no Warrior Princess around, Ti turned back to Gabrielle. “Where is she?”

“She said she wanted to get something for breakfast, I didn't ask what.” Attempting to look past the giant she questioned, “I thought Amie would be with you?”

Ti crossed the room and looked out the front window for any sign of Xena. “No, she has left for the cove already.”

“Again?” Gabrielle reached for the basket of eggs. “I thought she would have given up on that by now. I don't like her going there by herself. If something happened to her …”

Ti came up behind the bard, “We may not like it, but we can't stop her.”

“Diving in the sea is dangerous, Ti.”

“We know that and she knows that, but she feels somewhat responsible.”

“Why, because she stopped Xena from almost killing me –“ Gabrielle turned around to face Ti, but it was Xena standing in the doorway with a platter of tarts.

“Xena, I didn't mean that they way it sounded.”

The warrior said nothing as she quietly put the platter on the table and then walked back out the front door.

“Xena!” Gabrielle pleaded, but the Warrior Princess was gone. She stopped just short of the front door and dropped her head into her right hand.

Tiberius felt horrible about what he had just witnessed. He walked over and reached to pull Gabrielle into a much-needed hug. The moment his left hand touch her left shoulder, the bard cried out and immediately pulled away, instinctively protecting her injury.

“Oh Gabrielle.” Ignoring his own injuries, Ti scooped her up and took her over to his bed. As gently as possible he lowered her, but her color told him her pain was still severe.

“I'm sorry, Gabrielle, I didn't mean to hurt you.”

“I know Ti, I'll be fine,” she said as she patted him on the arm with her right hand. The blacksmith noticed that her left arm hadn't moved from its position across her stomach.

“That is bad. You need someone to look at that.”

“I will be alright, but you have to promise not to tell anyone.”

“But Xena should know.” Ti was not comfortable keeping secrets.

“Promise me.”

He hung his head and nodded. “Xena is a good healer.”

“Yes she is, but I don't think she can heal this.”

A few weeks later, Amie was bent over writing slowly on her tablet. Every once in awhile Gabrielle would look over to see how she was making out.

“You are doing so well, Amie.”

The child looked up and smiled at her teacher.

“Your writing has come along so quickly.”

Amie bent over her tablet and scratched out a few words. Then she held it up for Gabrielle to see.

She read the words out loud, “I want to be just like you.” The bard's smile was genuine, but Amie saw a distant memory flash through her green eyes.

“Be very careful of what you want, Amie. Sometimes when you get what you wish for, it may not be what you thought it would be.”

The words she had spoken clouded the child's features. She took back her tablet and wrote something else for Gabrielle to read aloud.

“Your words do not fit.” Amie didn't understand Gabrielle's light chuckle at what she had written. “You are puzzled by what I say. Which means, you are confused.”

The child nodded.

“I guess that's something else that I've learned while traveling with Xena. Her words don't always fit either.”

The bard grew silent and looked away from the table, but she couldn't look away from her thoughts. She felt Amie's slight tap on her arm and when she turned to look at the child, Amie pointed at her eyes.

“I'm sorry, I just thought back to a time long ago, and the journey that brought me here.”

The look on Amie's face told her that the child wanted to hear more.

“We've been through a lot together. Yes, like the stories I have been telling you. Well, sometimes when you are really close to somebody you don't see the whole picture until it is too late.”

She looked down and saw the confusion on the child's face.

“How do I put this? Come over here.” Gabrielle motioned the child to come and sit on her knee.

“It's kind of a long story. Yes, I know you like long stories. See, when I started out, I wanted to see the world. I wanted to be just like Xena - the Warrior Princess. I wanted to learn to fight. I wasn't an oracle … an oracle is someone who can see the future. Ok? See, I knew I would talk to kings and listen to poets. I wanted to fight for good, to rid the world of evil. I wanted nothing more than to stand side by side and fight the good fight with Xena.”

Gabrielle took a deep breath before she continued. “But then things happened and my priorities changed. I killed someone and I got mixed up with some bad people, and some really terrible things happened. For a long time, I blamed her for it. We never really had a good chance to deal with that; we were too busy trying to fight to just stay alive. Than a lot of crazy things happened, and I picked up a sword to defend our lives. A lot of things changed then.”

Amie waited patiently for Gabrielle to carry on. “But it was only recently that I realized two things. The first and the hardest was, just how much I had changed. I killed a young man in the desert, not too long ago. His name was Cora. I didn't mean to kill him. It was a mistake. I thought he was going to hurt Xena. No matter what happens, I will live the rest of my life knowing I murdered someone.” There was a long pause as she looked down at her hands. “The blood has been washed away, but the memories are stained in my mind.”

She lifted her head and looked at Amie before she continued.

“Xena and I talked about it, and that was when I realized that our lives together had come full circle. I was the warrior with the guilt and it was her faith in me that got me through the day.” Amie looked at Gabrielle and then touched her own chest.

“You too, huh.” She smiled and slowly reached up to touch the child's cheek.

“I am lucky to have you and Ti as friends. You are a very special child, Amie, don't ever forget that.”

Holding up her hand, Amie showed the bard two fingers.

“What is the second thing? … I realized it wasn't that I wanted to fight beside Xena. I just wanted to be with her. I don't know when it happened, but it did. I fell in love with my best friend.”

Amie reached up and brushed away a tear. Gabrielle looked down at her and smiled. She didn't even know she had been crying. “It always seems to be one thing after another. We never get a chance to say what we really feel. We have never had a chance to enjoy any peace and quiet before something happens.”

Amie held up her hand and made her X sign. “Have I told Xena? I've tried, but it's too late now.”

She shook her white curls violently.

“Yes it is, I told her a while ago, that I wanted to stop this. Then she told me if we weren't fighting together, then it was time for us to part.”

She shook and her white hair flung back and forth.

“You just don't understand. Our relationship is very complicated.”

The child's own frustration was coming to head. She jumped off Gabrielle's lap and reached for her tablet on the table. Amie rapidly started scribbling out a word, but her frustration opted to draw a picture instead. Gabrielle rose off her chair and looked over Amie's shoulder. The bard felt her mouth drop in awe as she watched it develop before her.

“What is that?” Amie made an X and then pointed at the picture.

“I don't understand. Why … wait … How do you know this?” Amie pointed at her red eyes.

“You have seen it?” She nodded.

“Show me!”

Chapter 40 – the present

Her red eyes followed his every moment as he rubbed the cloth over the Sais that had belonged to the Battling Bard. Finishing the first one, he laid it down on top of the red suede outfit already in the box, on top of the leathers. He finished the second one and laid it across the first.

“You want that to go on top?” Ti motioned to the table and Amie nodded her head yes.

“I guess that's it.” He looked around the room as if searching for something else to add, but he knew there was nothing more.

“Ready to go?” Ti asked. She tucked the cloth-covered plaque under her arm, then nodded that she was. The blacksmith reached down for the box then held out his hand for her. He could see she was more than a little frightened.

“It's going to be alright. I'll be there at your side all day, I promise.” He got only a faint smile before they walked out the door.

Chapter 41 – the past

Gabrielle ignored the pain in her shoulder as she followed Amie through the forest. She was thankful the child knew where she was going, because she wasn't certain she would have been able to find it on her own.

It never crossed Amie's mind that maybe Xena didn't want Gabrielle to see where she had been spending most of her time. All the child knew was that for two adults they sure didn't communicate very well.

“Okay, hang on … I haven't been … doing much lately … I need to catch my … breath.” Gabrielle slowed her pace to a stop.

Amie turned back, grabbed Gabrielle's right hand. With two powerful tugs, the bard had no choice but to follow her.

She had forgotten just how dark and mysterious this forest was as the damp fog floated past them. Keeping her eyes on Amie's white hair was one thing, but controlling her thoughts was another. From the moment she had seen the child's drawings, her imagination had been working overtime. She had never questioned Xena as to where she had been going and where she been spending all her time.

Suddenly, Gabrielle felt the warmth of the sunrays on her arm and it brought her back to the moment. Amie had stopped just up ahead, but their location was still a mystery to her.

When she finally broke from the forest, Gabrielle and found herself in Amie's hidden valley. The perfect oasis of green took the bard's breath away as she looked over the magnificent view. Amie took her hand and pointed out the offerings of the valley. From the cliffs over looking the sea, to the rolling green meadows, to the small creek and numerous distant waterfalls, Gabrielle realized she was looking at the picture Amie had drawn for her, with one exception. The small house on the top of the hill didn't have a roof yet.

“What is this?” Gabrielle demanded. Amie said nothing with her hands as she took Gabrielle's and led her down the faint trail in the tall grass. The closer they got to the house, the bard began hearing pounding and the sound of someone under a great strain.

They approached the house from the side and as they came around the front, what they saw told some of the story. There before them was Tiberius holding up a beam, while the warrior was hammering away furiously.

“What in the name of -” Gabrielle said with her right hand on her hip.

Her words startled Tiberius so much, he almost dropped the beam he was holding.

“oh fa the ove of era's its,” Xena muttered with a mouthful of nails. Which all fell out when she saw Gabrielle standing there.

“Ahhh … we can explain this,” Xena said as she wiped her hands on her cotton shift.

Tiberius looked from Gabrielle's startled red face, to Xena who was fumbling for words to explain. He knew this was not a place for a child, or a blacksmith.

“Xena, this should be fine here. I think I will take Amie and ah … you two need …Ah, come on, Amie, we need to go home.” He gathered the child's hand and the two headed quickly down the hill.

“You were not to ah … see this yet,” Xena said as she cleared off a place for Gabrielle to sit.

“Just … what is this?”

“Ah ... well … see, Ti and I have been building this.” Xena couldn't seem to find her tongue, or a proper explanation.

Gabrielle tried to hide her disbelief as she looked over the stone and log structure. It was not large but it was being built with care. The smooth walls of river rock were supported by massive beams and planks of hand cut wood. The free-standing fireplace was open on two sides, with access to the kitchen on one side and the sitting room on the other.

“And when were you going to tell me?” she asked as she walked over to look out the window at the view of the sea.

“I have been trying to tell you … when it was finished.” Enough time had passed for the warrior to find her words.

“When we were finished.” Gabrielle turned to face her, but she couldn't find the exact emotion to describe her feelings. “And that was when you were going to tell me.”

“Yes, when we were finished. See … I have thought this out and I think it's time.”

“Oh, you have thoughts this out … and you decided.” Gabrielle buried her hurt feelings and then covered them with anger.

“It's time, I know that now. I thought it was what you wanted too.”

“It was … at one time. But I have changed a lot, especially in the last few years.”

“Gabrielle, that's what I am trying to say. I don't like what has happened to us lately. I've seen the changes in you … when is it a good time? When it is too late?”

“You have done all this without me, Xena! I don't need your hammer to hit me on the head to tell me when it is time to go.”

“What? Wait,” Xena reached out and grabbed Gabrielle's arm.

“Ahh…” Xena let go the moment she realized she had grabbed the wrong arm. The bard's green eyes burned with fury as her shoulder fired out a wave of white-hot pain.

“I'm sorry, Gabrielle. Wait.” The bard was out the door before Xena even had a chance to explain.

“Would you listen to me?”

Gabrielle ignored her and kept on marching.

“How do I get out of here?” She looked over the valley, but had no idea which way took her back to Brimstone. Seeing a faint pathway behind the house she followed it, taking her down the hill and then along side a stream. Xena was following either behind her or beside her the entire time trying to explain.

“Would you stop long enough to listen? Gabrielle, please give me a chance.” She reached out to grab her arm again, then thought better of it. The trail they were following had narrowed as it started to climb the hill. Xena attempted one more time to step in front of Gabrielle, but the bard pushed right on past her.

“Gabrielle, give me a chance to explain. Oh for the love of … When did you get so stubborn?”

“Stubborn? Who are you calling stubborn?” She finally stopped and turned, pointing her finger right into Xena's face.

“That would be the pot calling the kettle black, don't you think? If I am stubborn then that would make you pig-headed. Would it not?” She didn't wait for a response, leaving Xena standing with her mouth open and her hands on her hips.

“Are you calling me stubborn? At least I know when to quit!”

The bard did not stop this time, but her voice easily carried over the sound of the running water.

“You never quit a thing in your life, Xena. No, not you. You come on like gangbusters, riding in on your trusty steed to save the day. And don't forget your sidekick! That is what I am, just a sidekick. I hate being called a sidekick. I have saved your butt how many times and all I get is Gabrielle the sidekick. What is it that I have to do to get respect? Overthrow a few warlords, burn down a village or two?” Gabrielle's continuous speech was carrying her alongside the stream, as it grew larger and steeper.

“Has someone hit you in the head again? What are you talking about?” Xena had stopped and was watching as Gabrielle climbed higher. The path had all but disappeared into the wall of rock, leaving the blonde little choice but to climb from rock to rock.

“What am I talking about? We have been through … hell together. Side by side, fight by fight, Xena we have even died for each other, and now you do this!” She stopped on a large rock and turned to face the warrior.

“What is this?” Xena asked in desperation as she looked back down at the valley below them. “I am building us a house!” she said as she turned back to Gabrielle.

“Yes, you are building us a … us … but you said … you said you had enough, that this was it.” The confusion was evident on both their faces.

“I did, this is it? I -”

“But I –“

“I don't want to fight anymore,” they both said at the same time.

“What!?” Again at the same time, but when Gabrielle leaned forward, the rock she was standing on wobbled, throwing her off balance. She started flailing her arms wildly, but when she attempted to lift her left arm over her head, she cried out in agonizing pain and then fell backward out of Xena's sight.

“Gabrielle!” The warrior raced up the side of the hill and jumped into the pool of water below the waterfall. Though small in size, the pool was exceptionally deep, due to the eroding force of the waterfall. The bubbling foam made it hard to see as she dived back into the cool water, desperately searching for her friend.

Xena shot to the surface just as Gabrielle did. The bard coughed and sputtered as she carefully tried to make it to the side, holding her left arm tight against her body.

Gabrielle coughed a few more times, but what really concerned Xena was the ashen color on her grimacing face.

“Are you all right?” she said, and Gabrielle nodded she was.

Wiping the excess water off her face, Xena looked down and reached for both of her hands.

“Let me see?”

“I'm okay, it's still a little sore. Alright, but I'll be back in fighting form in no time.”

“I don't want to fight anymore, Gabrielle.”

“I don't want to fight with you either,” the bard said softly as she looked into Xena's blinking blue eyes.

“That is not what I'm saying, Gabrielle. I am saying, I don't want to fight anymore - period. I thought I had lost you, when I saw that look in your eyes that morning. I nearly went crazy trying to find you. The price for it all is too high, and I'm not willing to risk everything I have to atone for my past. You are everything to me.”

“But you said back in the barn, you didn't want to go one like this anymore. I thought you meant -” She paused and Xena stepped in.

“You thought what? Gabrielle … look at me.” Xena lifted her hand out of the water and took hold of Gabrielle's face. Very gently, she traced the thin red line left behind by Kummel's knife.

“I am … I have known for a very long time … I couldn't go on if I lost you. I can't even think about it. You tried once before to get me to settle down in the Amazon village after Eve was born. I told you I wasn't the settling down type. I still don't know if I am, but I want to try. Then you said that you …I heard what you said in the barn. That we have never been so far apart … “

Gabrielle frowned in puzzlement.

“And then you said nothing would ever change.” Gabrielle's frown faded as a shy smile started in the corner of her mouth.

“Well, I want it to change. I want you to have a roof over your head, and to eat dinner at the same table every night. I want to give you home, a place where you can write all day long, in the shade of that elm tree. I just hope this is enough of a change to make you want to stay. Please … Gabrielle, I want you to stay.”

“Are you sure this is what you want, Xena? Can you put down roots and stay in one place? Can we?”

“We won't know unless we try. Do you want to try?” Gabrielle looked deep into Xena's blue eyes. She hadn't realized just how close they had gotten. She felt Xena's breath on her cheek and the nearness of her body.

“Why weren't we listening closer to what we were trying to say to each other?”

“I thought I was listening Gabrielle, but if I wasn't, I promise I will listen now.”

“You promise?” Gabrielle whispered.

“Yes. I have been where you are, and I know it's a painful place. But you are not alone. I think it's time to lay down your Sais and do what you were born to do.”

“What I was born to do?” Gabrielle's eyes drifted over the Xena's lips as the warrior kept talking.

“You are a gifted writer and that is what you should be doing. I want to wake in the morning and watch the sunrise in your eyes as you search the horizon for the right word to write. I want to see you sipping tea on our porch as you teach Amie how to write her name. There are no old warriors, Gabrielle, but there are a lot of old writers. How do I explain to you just how much you mean –“

Gabrielle leaned forward and silenced Xena with a gentle kiss. A long, slow kiss that crossed over all meaning, until both recipients clearly understood its intent. With tender lips they finally found equal ground on which to communicate. But when they finally parted, neither spoke as they floated on an euphoric cloud in the cool waters.

Xena looked down at the red lips she had just kissed and she knew she wanted more. Seeing the alluring gaze on the warrior's face, Gabrielle offered her bidding.

This time the kiss was without hesitation. They finally found the one part of their relationship that had been missing. The part that the rest of the world had assumed they had found years ago. They shared a passion that had been building through years of desire, as they broke down the walls of fear and their lips drank in their need.

Gabrielle pulled back breathlessly and looked Xena in the eye. “I know I don't have to ask if this is what you want. But I have to know.” Xena's lips stole away her words as the warrior picked her up and floated them closer to the falling water. The cool water did nothing to slow the passion they felt as the water tumbled over their bodies. The fire in their lips burned as they pressed harder, hoping to quench some of their rising want coming from inside.

A low moan sounded as Xena tore her lips away from Gabrielle's. The steady flow of the mountain water was forgotten as Gabrielle tilted her head, allowing the warrior full access to her neck. She groaned unconsciously as she felt Xena's lips travel further down her body, pushing her sexual appetite beyond her control. Tilting her head back, Gabrielle reached for the rocks behind her, thrusting her chest out, offering herself completely to Xena.

The tingle of her body hid the touch of the warrior, and soon Gabrielle found herself naked against the cool rocks. She reached for Xena, pulling her head back up to face her. Her green eyes gazed over the now naked woman in front of her, and she knew a lifetime with her would never be enough.

Putting her hands on either side of Gabrielle's shoulders, she bent her arms and leaned down closer to her face.

“I love you and I will never stop loving you.”

“Are you sure?”

“After all this, you still are you telling me you are not sure? Because I will stop if you are not.”

“I'm sure,” she said solidly and then added, “I just wanted to look at you to make sure this is not a dream.” Xena tilted her head forward and to the side, letting the falling water brush the hair off her face.

“Look into my eyes, Gabrielle.” The bard did as she was told. “I have loved you for a long time. Now I have a lifetime to show you how much, and believe me, this is not a dream.” She leaned forward and kissed Gabrielle hard on the lips.

The bard's naked body molded to the bare skin of the warrior. Gabrielle started to trail her kisses down Xena's neck. The tight muscles of her chest rippled against her lips as the water splashed over their entangled bodies. Gabrielle felt the heat of their two bodies as Xena wrapped her strong arms around her.

Feeling the churn in her stomach and the heavy beating of her heart in her ears, Gabrielle reveled in all that had been missing in her life.

When it was all over, they started again. Together they knew there would never be enough water to cool the fires they had finally ignited. They would need more than this lifetime to make up for all they had lost, because an eternity wouldn't be long enough for them to show the power of the love they had united in their souls.


Lying with their backs to the smooth rocks of the waterfall, Gabrielle was wrapped in Xena's arms as they looked over their valley together.

“This is beautiful, Xena, how did you ever find it?”

“I didn't. Amie led me to it. This is where I first saw her. See down there?” Xena lifted her arm out of the water and pointed to the lower part of the valley where the grass was the longest. “There is a family of deer that comes out and grazes almost daily.”

Then moving her finger, she pointed to an area just beyond the unfinished house. “And see over there, that is a perfect place to put a garden.” Gabrielle choked back a giggle.


“Sorry, I guess I'm going to have to get used to this new side of you … Xena, the Warrior gardener and her tips on seasonal planting.”

“And you didn't think I was a comparison shopper either,” she said with a perturbed look on her face. “Actually, I was thinking you would probably like to do the gardening, and hey … hey stop that.” Xena squirmed playfully.

“Over there I thought would be a good place for Argo and your horse.”



“His name is Rouge.”

“You named your horse, Rouge?” Xena made no attempt at hiding her amusement as she chuckled.

“No, Amie named him,” Gabrielle said flatly.

“Nice name.” Xena wiped the smirk off her face, but when Gabrielle looked back at her, they both were smiling.

Gabrielle turned back to look at their valley and Xena wrapped her arms around her again.

“Why now?” she asked quietly.

“You mean, why stop now?”


“Because I am tired of watching the pain in your eyes grow. I am tired of putting our lives on the line day in and day out. We have lost so much, both of us, we deserve a little happiness in our lives.” She closed her eyes and kissed Gabrielle on the head. “Because I don't want to lose you and I don't want to waste another day pretending what we had was enough.”

“So tell me about this great plan and what happens when the first bad guy finds us, and then the whole known world knows we're here?”

“We will deal with it then.”

“Do you really think we can?”

“I don't know, Gabrielle, but all we can do is try.”

The bard tilted her head back and rested it on Xena's chest. She felt the flex of Xena's muscles as she tightened her hold around her.

“Why did we wait so long before we told each other how we felt?” Gabrielle said quietly.

“I don't know, considering one of us is stubborn and the other is pig-headed,” Xena said as she kissed the top of the bard's head. “But how much longer were you going to wait before you told me how bad your shoulder had gotten?”

Gabrielle closed her eyes. “How did you know?”

“I know. Does it matter how?”

“Someone told you?” the bard said with her eyes still closed.

“No, you did.”

Her eyes opened and she turned enough to look at Xena's face. “I did?”

“Little things, like the way you have been holding your body. You've been holding your shoulder in. And when you get mad, you always put both hands on your hips. I haven't seen you do that in a long time.”

The battered bard closed her eyes in personal defeat.

“Why didn't you tell me?”

“It sounds so stupid now.” It wasn't the answer Xena was waiting for. “Because I was afraid that if I couldn't fight … you would leave me behind.”

“There is no more leaving behind. Where you go … I'll always be right here beside you.”

Chapter 41 – the present

Tiberius and Amie made their way up the hill to the stone and log home. Their moods were quiet and somber. The child motioned a question as they reached the crest of the hill.

“No, it's different. It's not really like that, it's more like a gathering for those people who were close to them.” He watched her hands, until he understood her. “Yes … I guess their lives did warrant something different.”

Amie looked around the quiet homestead and then looked to Tiberius.

“I don't know, maybe we are the first ones here,” Ti said just as he was ready to knock on the door.

The door opened and a gray-haired woman smiled politely, “Hello. You must be Tiberius, and this little angel has to be Amie. My name is Lila, I am Gabrielle's sister.” She opened the door further and then waved them into the house.

“I will introduce you around to the other guests.” Ti smiled at her. He looked around the room and was surprised there were so few people. He was sure that with all their travels, they would have had more friends and family here. Still holding Amie's hand, for both their sakes, they followed Gabrielle's sister as she led them around the room.

An elderly couple looked up as Lila came towards them. The two women smiled and nodded to the giant and the child. “This is Minya and her husband Howar, this is Tiberius and Amie.” They all nodded politely.

Lila directed the two new arrivals over to an elderly man, who was seated next to the window, with a scroll in his hand. It was obvious from the way he was reading that his eyes were not what they used to be.

“Salmoneus … Salmoneus.” He smiled up at Lila, then looked to Ti and Amie.

“I always knew she would become a well known writer. I tried many years ago to get Hercules and Xena to let me write their memoirs, but I think Gabrielle did a much better job.”

He stood up slowly, his age evident in his slouched body. “My name is Salmoneus.”

“My name is Tiberius and this is Amie.”

“I could've made a killing selling the stories of the Warrior Princess.”

He continued to mutter to himself as he sat back down and picked up the scroll he had been reading.

Lila motioned for the giant and the child to followed her. “Eve, Sarah?” A tall dark haired woman was talking quietly with another woman in front of the fire. They both turned at the mention of their names and walked over.

The blonde woman smiled as the dark haired lady held out her hand, “I know from my mother's descriptions you must be Tiberius.”

She knelt down and smiled eye-to-eye with the timid child. ”And you must be Amie. I am Eve, Xena's daughter. And this is Sarah, Gabrielle's niece.”

Sarah nodded to both of them and then shook Ti's hand.

Amie motioned to Ti and he followed her rapidly moving hands before turning to Eve and Sarah, “She said, Gabrielle told her you were both off in a far away land.”

Eve nodded and smiled as she stood back up. “Yes I was, but I got a ride home with a friend.”

“I live with my mother now, my days of traveling are over,” Sarah reached out and held Lila's hand.

Amie looked up into Eve's face, then made a circle motion around her own face and then turned her thumb over her finger in her X. Eve looked from the child to Tiberius for the translation. “She says you look like Xena.”

“Thank you, that is nice of you to say. You are a very smart young lady. I hope in the future we can get to know each other better.”

Before Amie could answer, the room was filled with bright light and a puff of pink smoke. Seeing the fear flash in her eyes, Eve whispered quickly. “It's okay, she's harmless. Her name is Aphrodite and she is the Goddess of love. She won't hurt you, Amie.”

The child heard the calming words, but her mouth still hung open at the sight of the half-naked woman who stood before her in an almost sheer pink gown.

“Okay, is everyone here?” She looked over at the giant and the child. “Ooooh, I know who you are.” She bent over and looked at Amie as she hid behind Tiberius.

“I have heard a lot about you, little one.”

“Aphrodite, have you found Virgil yet?” Eve asked as she crossed her arms over her chest.

“Oh just relax, you and your mother … way too tense for me. No, he was not where Xena had told me he was. I guess he moved and neglected to send out his forwarding address. I am not a miracle worker, you know.”

“He really should be here. After all he is almost family.”

“We still have oodles of time, I'll find him. You mortals get so uptight, you need to learn to take it easy or you're going to send yourselves into an early grave.” Seeing the look of disbelief on Eve's face, the Goddess quickly apologized.

“Oops, sorry. Bad taste, huh. I will be right back with Virgil.” With a snap of her fingers, she was gone.

“Her heart may be in the right place, but her brain is two snaps behind her,” Minya said as she walked through the remaining smoke, towards Eve.

Chapter 42 – the moment

The tall dark haired beauty stood at the edge of the cliff, and looked over the great sea beyond. Xena closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and marveled in the moment. The gentle breeze off the water fluttered her long locks as she turned and looked over their valley.

She was still Xena inside, but the intense look of the warrior had been replaced with a peaceful look of serenity. Her dark warrior leather had been replaced with an outfit made of light brown leather and tight knit cotton. The weight of her sword was gone off her back, replaced by a small knife that hung around her waist, far more fitting for the peaceful life she now shared with her bard.

Turning her back on the valley, she looked at the woman who held her heart. She could see even from here, Gabrielle's quill flying quickly over her parchment. The bard in her had returned with a vengeance even Xena had never before seen. At first, she had written sitting in her favorite chair next to the window overlooking the sea, but it wasn't quite what Gabrielle needed. So, Xena went to work building a chair and a table. When she was finished, she hauled them up the hill, to the highest point. It gave the bard full view of the sea and of their land below. When their world slowed down, it was where Xena found her most afternoons.

The injury to Gabrielle's shoulder had caused her great pain, and no matter how Xena treated it, it never seemed to leave her. Finally one day, they both decided something had to be done. Using all of the knowledge she had learned from all her teachers, Xena performed a technique she had learned in Chin. It was risky, but in Gabrielle's mind it was worth it. With long thin needles, Xena had taken away the pain, but with it had gone some of the feeling and abilities of her left arm.

Most of the time, you couldn't tell the difference, but Xena could. When Gabrielle became tired, her arm would slow and she would hold it tightly against her side, but it was better than having her in pain. The only ones who knew of her disability were Ti and Amie. Their frequent visitors held the secret from the rest of the known world.

Several times Xena found herself asking why they hadn't done this earlier, but she knew the answer. It just wasn't the right time. She feared what the relaxing lifestyle would do to her, and what it might do to their relationship. With a slow spreading smile, she knew their relationship had never been better, and their love for each other had never been stronger.

Tucking her blowing hair behind her ear, she saw the two of them come from the trees. They moved slowly through the low grass, thankfully they hadn't spotted her … yet.

“Here we go,” she said in a whisper to herself. She watched them for a moment, then turned and headed up the hill.

Gabrielle kept her head down, her quill busily scratching out story as it unfolded in her mind. The Muses had kept her mind busy, sometimes too busy. She would be so involved in her writing that she would lose track of time. Then she would be forced to pick her way down the hill in the dusk.

Many times, she had to stop and look over the world she and Xena had created. She would find herself wondering if all this happiness was real, or was it a dream. In her mind, it was perfect and she wanted it to stay that way.

But deep down inside, there was a part of her that was always waiting. She was certain the day would come when someone would find out where she and Xena had disappeared to. There always seemed to be someone who wanted to make their name by killing the legendary Warrior Princess. Or a ghost from their past, who wanted to take revenge for something that had happened many years ago.

“Hey,” Xena's low voice never startled her anymore. Their peaceful existence had been a tonic to her shattered nerves.

Xena smiled, as she looked into the brightly lit, green eyes she had missed so much.

“How is it going?” Xena asked, nodding down at Gabrielle's parchment.

“Better, though some of it is still painful to write.”

Xena leaned down and kissed the top of her head. “We have company.”

“Company? Let me guess, the two legged uninvited kind?”

“Yeah,” Xena said reluctantly.

Gabrielle sighed and looked out over the sea. “This is going to end one day, isn't it?”

Xena said nothing as she looked down at their home and the thin ribbon of smoke coming from the fire left burning in their fireplace.

Gabrielle rolled up her scrolls, put the cork on her ink well, and tucked them all into a leather tube Xena had made for her.

“Well, let's go and deal with our uninvited guests.”

They made their way down the hill, and then came up to the house from the backside so as not to leave them out in the open. It may have been like old times, but Xena knew this one was different. It had been a long time since they had put their lives in mortal danger.

“Ssst,” Xena hissed at Gabrielle as they came around the corner of the house, pointing to the front door. The bard nodded her understanding. Hustling past the window, Xena came up on her side of the front door. Now on either side, Gabrielle counted out with her fingers.

1… 2… 3…

The door flung open and Gabrielle jumped into the doorframe just as the room erupted in a loud, “Surprise!”

The bard stood speechless as she looked over the faces of their family and friends. Turning to Xena for support, she noticed the cocky tilted smile.

“You knew about this,” she said as she poked the warrior in the ribs.

“Knew about it, who do you think planned it?” Xena said as she draped an arm over Gabrielle's shoulder and walked them both into the house.

Once all the pleasantries were over, Xena motioned everyone to sit.

“I'm not one for big speeches but first, I need to thank you all for coming.” The room rumbled with comments and clapping.

“Xena, what is all this about?” Gabrielle said as she reached over for her sister's outstretched hand.

“I thought you had good news to share with us?” Lila said to a stunned Gabrielle, before she turned to look at Xena.

“Let me explain, you were all brought here by Aphrodite, well, except for Ti and Amie. You were brought here to say your final good byes.”

Instantly, the room erupted with questions and comments all echoing the same disbelief.

Xena held up her hands, “Unbeknownst to any of you, there was a burial today in Amphipolis.” Xena turned her blue eyes to the concerned look on Gabrielle's face.

“Xena, who died?” The tall dark warrior knelt down and took the bard's hand.

“We did,” the warrior stated without remorse. She held up her hand, stopping the bard's question before she could ask it. “Let me explain. I knew the only way we could live in peace was if the warrior and her battling bard were put to rest.”

“But people will know it's not us.”

“Not if we were sure someone was seen burying your clothes and your weapons.”

Aphrodite gave a devilish smile and a wink. “Xena asked me for a few favors a little while ago. She wanted me to make replica of your clothes, which was easy enough. But to find duplicates of your weapons, well that was another story to tell. And she had me do it without my brother's knowledge. Let me tell you, THAT, my friends, was not easy.” She looked at her nails and them polished them on her pink top.

“I don't understand,” Gabrielle said as she looked into Xena's eyes. “Our clothes and our weapons?”

“No one will look for us, if the legends are gone.”

“But Xena, what about –“

“I've talked to everyone in Brimstone and they are more than willing to keep our secret. Sabbeen said it herself, the town has never been happier. No more Admetus, no more ghost.” She winked at Amie. “And these woods that surround us have their own mystery, but with a little help from Aphrodite, only those in this room will be able to walk through them to get to here.”

“Ummm … Xena … remember I told you, spells are not my strong suit. I mean … no one should be able to walk through the spell I put on the forest. I mean I tried, and it should work. They will go around and around in circles before they find themselves coming out of the forest at the edge of Brimstone. I mean they could end up some place else, I think I did it right … I don't know … Whatever. Did anyone bring cheese puffs?” She left the attention of the room and headed to the table lined with food.

It took a moment for the room to find its breath, and when it did everyone was talking at once.

Still looking at Xena, Gabrielle shook her head. “So that's it. We're dead?”

“I don't know if it will work, but yes, we're dead.”

“And you think we'll get to stay here and live out our lives together?”

“We try to. I can't promise you how long it will last, or even if we can handle the quiet, but I want to try.”

“But Xena … you are a warrior … we're both warriors. Can we just give all that up to live here?”

“I think we can. I was a destroyer of nations at one time and I left that behind. You have changed the priority in my life, and how I look at things. You said it yourself. We have come full circle, so maybe it is time to try a new direction. I like our life here and I want to stay. Besides, if we get bored we can always head back out and kick a few asses.”

She leaned forward and kissed her tall ex-warrior hard on the lips. When she pulled back she smiled. "I love you, Xena.”

“I love you, too.”

“Okay, is the mushy stuff done? 'Cause I want to open presents,” Aphrodite said as she pointed at her hand, and a pretty, pink box appeared.

“Presents?” Gabrielle looked at Xena.

“Well, I thought we could have a … retirement party, or a welcome to the neighborhood party,” Xena fumbled uncharacteristically.

“You know, happy retirement.” A much older Salmoneus shuffled his way over to them. He smiled as he leaned down and pecked a kiss on Gabrielle's cheek.

“Long time between hellos, old friend,” Gabrielle said as the white haired ex-salesman took a seat.

“I don't think it is fair for you to say old friend when you haven't changed a bit. Though I do like your hair like that.” Gabrielle blushed.

The first box to be opened was from Minya and Hower. When Xena pulled out the whip Gabrielle had once traded for a frying pan, she could only smile.

“I thought maybe you might need this, to keep the flies off your porch.” Xena smiled and winked at the older woman.

Lila walked over and handed Gabrielle a tattered book. The bard looked down at it and knew what it was without even opening it to at all the stained pages. The two sisters held on tight to one another both laughing through their tears. Everyone waited for an explanation, but Xena could only shrug.

“It belonged to our mother,” Lila finally offered. ”It was her cook book.”

Aphrodite handed her present over with a giggle, “You may want to open this one in private,” she whispered to Xena. “The ties go in the back.“ The warrior laughed as Gabrielle turned red as she slipped the gift under the bench they were seated on.

“I guess I am next,” said Eve. “I have been wracking my brain trying to come up with something for you both, but nothing seemed appropriate for the two of you. Until I found this in my travels, it seemed so perfect.” She unrolled a scroll and read from it.

Live life for the moment, for tomorrow will never awaken,
Love for a lifetime, for your heart will not live if it is forsaken.
Free your soul and your mind will be at rest.
For life is but a journey, and your will is but a test.

“I love you both,” she said as she came across the room with her arms open.

Xena held on to her daughter for a moment longer, “I wish I could've done this earlier, so we could've been there for you.”

“You were mother, you both were.”

There were more than a few sniffles around the room when they parted.

Virgil came up from the back of the room. A few words were quietly spoken between them before they all shared a hug. Then with a dazzling sly smile, Virgil handed a box to Gabrielle.

Looks of many questions passed between the three, and Gabrielle wasn't sure what to expect from the son of the comical Joxer. A roar went up when she opened the box and held up matching aprons. Hers was made out of cotton with the words 'the fighter' crossed off, then replaced with 'the cook'. Xena's apron was cut out of leather with 'Warrior Princess' crossed off and replaced with 'farmer' printed below.

Once the laughter died down, Virgil motioned Xena to sit next to Gabrielle. Then he handed them another box. Gabrielle opened it slowly, even more unsure of what she would find, but when she did pull back the cloth, she couldn't stop the tears that came to her eyes. Xena reached in and pulled out the round dented chest plate that had belonged to his father, Joxer.

“I know he would want you to have something to put up in your home. I thought it appropriate from one retired warrior to another.” With tears in his eyes, he hugged both Xena and Gabrielle.

Xena leaned forward and placed the box off to the side when Tiberius approached them.

“This box is from both us, some of it is from me and some of it is from Amie.” Gabrielle and Xena both smiled. Xena ducked her head down and winked at the white haired child hiding behind Ti's legs. She wiggled her fingers and Amie hesitated only a moment, then came and climbed up on Xena's lap.

“Ah, now there is a sight we have never seen,” Aphrodite said to both Lila and Eve, as she nodded towards the child sitting on Xena's lap.

“Maybe this time they will get a chance to raise a child to adulthood,” Eve said with a tearful smile.

Gabrielle pulled back the cloth covering the box and looked inside. She turned to Xena but couldn't find the words.

“Gabrielle?” Xena's voice was filled with concern, but Amie heard the intake of air when the bard pulled the chakram from the box. Xena reached out for it, knowing the moment her fingers touched it, that this was no duplicate. It was her beloved chakram that had gone into the sea.

Xena's misty eyes looked to Ti, but he shook his head and pointed at the child on her lap.

“You found this for me,” she searched the child's face for an answer. Amie pointed at her chest and then at Xena's.

Gabrielle whispered the words for all to hear, “from my heart to yours.”

Amie wrapped her arms around Xena's neck and when the warrior closed her eyes, tears rolled unchecked downed her cheeks. “Thank you, Amie, this means a lot to me.”

“She found it on her own. I asked her not to keep diving for it, but she wouldn't listen and she wouldn't give up,” Tiberius explained.

Gabrielle leaned over and rubbed Amie's back, “Yeah, she is a lot like someone else we all know.”

“There is more,” Ti pointed to the box. Xena released her hug and looked to Gabrielle.

“I am afraid to look, I don't think we can take much more,” Gabrielle said with an emotional laugh. When she did look in, her smile grew as she pulled out her red leather outfit, her smile was big until she felt the round cold metal. She reached in and pulled out her Sais.

“The real McCoys. I buried the fake ones today.” Aphrodite said as she popped another cheese puff into her mouth.

The bard's questioning eyes went from Xena, and then to Ti's.

“I found them in the barn, I wasn't sure if you had left them or forget them.”

“Thank you Ti, they will look good hanging on the wall, collecting dust,” she said with a twinkle in her eye.

The Warrior Princess reached over and placed a caring hand on her back, and the bard turned her attentions back on the box.

“Xena?” Gabrielle reached in and pulled out the carefully mended leathers. The moment she touched them, a whole other world went through her mind.

“Ti?” she said in question.

“I saw you had thrown them away, but I got them and sewed them back up. They belong to you, whether you wear them again or not is up to you.” He nodded his head and Xena whispered a thank you.

It was if the room took a collective breath before Xena spoke.

“Well, this has turned out to be a little more than even I imagined. I know everyone wishes us well and I know you wish us all peace and quiet.” Amie climbed off of Xena's lap and squirmed her way through the crowd.

“I hope everyone visits often.”

“Well, we will if Aphrodite gives us a lift again,” Minya said and the group agreed.

“That would be up to her.” Xena smiled and nodded to the Goddess of Love. “I thank you, Aphrodite, I could not have pulled this off without your help.”

“Oh, you are welcome, warrior babe. Oh bummer! I am gonna need a new name for you now.” She laughed with a wink and then added, “Anything for my favorite duo.”

“Gabrielle,” Xena turned and offered the floor to the quiet bard.

“What more can I say than thank you to all of you? I know this will not be easy and who knows, we may call on you and say we are picking up where we left off, but something tells me I doubt it.” She looked at Xena and swallowed a rising lump.

“I knew a long time ago, that following in your footsteps was going to be hard. But I had no idea how much I would come to love it and to love you.” Xena leaned over and they hugged to a round of applause.

“Well that all said … how about some -” Xena stopped when she saw Amie come back to the edge of the crowd. With her innocent scared face she looked to Ti, who urged her forward.

“Amie has one more gift,” Tiberius said with a shaky voice. Everyone stepped back giving the child enough room to come forward with something wrapped under her arm.

Xena patted the bench between herself and Gabrielle, and Amie shyly took it.

Holding the gift in front of her, she held it with one hand and then handed Gabrielle a piece of parchment.

The bard unrolled it and read it aloud. “When Ti talked to me and said Xena and Gabrielle were going to take a rest, I wanted a gift to make you smile. You both said to me you needed a place that was quiet. I hope you mean here.”

Gabrielle smiled down at that the child and then looked over her head at Xena. Amie looked to Ti and the blacksmith nodded.

Holding the plaque out in front of her, she flipped over the cloth that was covering it. Gabrielle immediately put her hand to her mouth, but she couldn't stop the tears. Even Xena struggled with her emotions as she leaned down to kiss Amie on the head. Then she lifted her arm to put it around Gabrielle's shoulder.

The room was a murmur as everyone watched the emotional display between the three of them.

“I hope we do,” Xena whispered to Gabrielle, as she reached to turn the plaque around for the room to see.

Not a word was spoken when they read the words written by an innocent mute albino child.

Warrior Princess and the Battling Bard
~ Rest in Peace ~


There was a story long ago in a land so far away,
No one has ever been there except for you today.
An angry warrior found some hope in a young girl's eyes.
She was there to save her soul on the day she tried to die.

She had to learn to fight again, but this time for the good.
But her past would always haunt her, even take her motherhood.
Just how much do we have to pay for all that we have done?
In a contrast they began, but then they molded to be as one,

Their balance tipped many times, but always came back true,
For what was one without the other, as the warriors grew to two.
A nightmare knows no shadows for it never really dies,
But love will hold together when you have seen the Devil's eyes.

When life becomes a sunset and you ask, what was it for?
The world cried out for a hero but you gave them so much more.
Two women who fought together, in a time of ancient Greece.
They sacrificed all they had, now let them rest in peace.

The End
Sinful **

{Though French was not spoken in Xena's time. I, as the author, took it upon myself to bend the time line as with everything else in the Xenaverse.}

C.L. Hart; Sinful@telus.net

Time is the most important thing in a person's life, I cannot thank you enough for spending yours enjoying my tall tale.

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