Letting Go
By E. Pashley


Disclaimer: Xena, Gabrielle, Eve, Argo, et al. don't belong to me, I'm only borrowing them for a little while.

Sexual Content: Nope! Nice, clean, general story here folks.

Tissue Alert: You might need a tissue or two while reading this story. I know I did while writing it.

Spoiler Alert: This story takes place immediately following the season ender “A Friend In Need”, contains spoilers for said episode and “Path of Vengeance”

Comments: Thank you for taking time to read my story. Any and all comments can be sent to me at ShyBard@aol.com.

Camped outside of Amphipolis, I sat beside the fire, holding the ceramic bowl in my hands. Tears welled in my eyes as I stared at what remained of my best friend, my whole world. I know she is there, watching me, sitting beside me. I can feel her touch as she runs her hand up and down my back comfortingly. I know I promised years ago to take her body back to Amphipolis to rest beside Lyceus but I just can't seem to do it. This is the only thing I have left besides her Chakram. I hope I'm not disappointing her by not doing this just yet. I just can't let go.

“You're never a disappointment to me.” I hear her whisper and feel her kiss the side of my head. I turned to look in that direction and am lucky enough to catch a glimpse of her beautiful blue eyes. The tears finally made they're way down my face and I lay down on our blankets, alone for the first time in many years. I pull her blanket up, over my body, it still has her scent on it. I breathe in the scent of leather and cinnamon, the gentle fragrance is a small comfort. I set the bowl beside me and try to get some rest.

Dawn breaks, I am up with the sun, a rare occurrence. I quickly wash up in the cool stream that runs beside my camp and catch a small fish for my breakfast. I smile slightly as I remember when she had taught me to catch fish barehanded.

I go through our bags as I sit there and eat my breakfast. Argo whickers nearby, saddened by the absence of her mistress. I come across a small book, one I have never seen before, and I open it to see her neat handwriting covering the first page. I gently run my fingers over the dried ink and close the cover. “Go ahead, read it.” Her voice whispers in my ears. I nod silently and reopen the book that I now see is her diary.

I sit here and watch her drill with her Sais, she doesn't seem to know that I am watching her. Just as she used to watch me drill with my sword a long time ago. I am so proud of the person she has become. I remember the skinny kid who followed me to Amphipolis and literally saved my hide. Look at her now, a strong and independent young warrior. One I am proud to call my best friend, my soulmate.

“I never knew you watched me, Xe.” I whisper out loud, and smile self-consciously. “I must have made you laugh at the many times I dropped my Sais.” I turned to a later page in the book and kept reading.

It is late, Eve isn't feeling well tonight and it seems nothing will calm her down. My poor baby-girl, she is restless and quite fussy. Gabrielle is trying desperately to sooth her cries with a story but it doesn't seem to be working, so she switched tactics and began to sing a gentle lullaby. Soon Eve is asleep in Gabrielle's arms. I smile at the sight, she is so good with her…

“Oh Xe!” I take a deep breath and try to keep the tears in check. I fail miserably. I wipe them away as they fall. A sudden thought occurs to me, “Eve! I have to tell her that you're gone.” When I am able to curb my tears, I close the diary and kiss the cover before gently placing it back in the bag. I packed up my camp and saddled up Argo.

I pulled out an apple and stood in front of her, “Hi girl. How ya doin' this morning?” She whickered at me and took the apple from my hand. “I know girl, I miss her too.” As she crunches on the treat, I climb up on her back. It is very lonely up here with out her to hold onto or for me to lean back against her chest when I am tired.

I ride into the town and stop in front of Cyrene's Tavern. I dismount and tether Argo to the railing. I walk in expecting to find a room full of strangers. I am nearly knocked off my feet when I see Eve standing behind the bar. “Eve!” I called out.

She turns to look at me, surprised. “Gabrielle!” She shouts as she rushes towards me.

“Hi Eve.” I whisper as I embrace my daughter. “Don't get me wrong, I'm more than happy to see you here, but I thought you went to Chin?”

“I did, but I got to missing you and Mother too much and wanted to come home to see you. I was going to send word to you tomorrow.” Eve explained as she directed me over to a table. “Can I get you anything?”

“Port would be nice.” I said quietly. I saw her look at me strangely but she did as I asked without question. She seemed so happy to see me, and I her, that I regretted what I had to tell her. When she came back with my drink, I asked her to sit down beside me.

“Where's Mother, Gabrielle?” She frowned worriedly.

“Eve, sweetheart, your mother and I went to Japa, a land north of Chin, a few weeks ago. She said she needed to help right a wrong from a long time ago and to help a friend.”

Eve became nervous, “Gabrielle?”

“Eve, honey, I don't know how to tell you this...” I paused as my lip trembled. “Your mother was killed.”

Eve's eyes grew wide and filled with tears as I said her mother was gone. “NO!”

“Yes, Sweetheart, she's gone.” I whispered and tried to wrap my arms around her. Eve pushed me away.

“No! It can't be, I just found her and you!” She shouted, causing the room to hush. “Damn it!”

I cast a harsh gaze around the room, at those who dared to stare at my daughter in her grief. “What are you looking at?” They immediately went back to their own business. I turned back to my daughter but found nothing but an empty seat. I looked up at the door just in time to see her rush out with her sword in her hand. “Now where are you going?” I asked aloud as I stood up and followed.

I found Eve in the woods behind the tavern, hitting her sword against a tree. “Eve!”

“Who did it?” She yelled at me. “Who, in the name of Ares, killed my mother?!”

“Gabrielle, do you remember when you let Ephiny take over so she could talk to Xenan?” I heard her whisper in my ear. I nodded. “Let me in.”

I felt her enter my body and immediately felt loved. I let her take over.

* * *

I watched as my daughter landed strike after strike on the tree. I watched her for a minute, letting her exhaust her grief. After a moment I called to her, “Eve.”

I smiled as she turned in surprise at the sound of my voice. She dropped her sword to the ground and leapt into my embrace. I held her for several minutes, allowing her to cry on my shoulder. “I am so sorry, Evie.”

“Oh Mother.” She sniffled. “Why?”

“I had to Eve.” I whispered. “Ask Gabrielle, she'll tell you everything. I'm sorry that I don't have the time to tell you myself. I don't have much time. I needed to see you and hold you one more time.”

Eve pulled away and looked at me with tears streaming down her face. “Please don't go, Mother. I just got you back!”

I had never seen my daughter break down like this before and to hear her pleading with me broke my heart. “I know Sweetheart, and I am so sorry but I can't stay. I love you with all my heart and I will never be far away.” I pulled her in for one last embrace. “And if you ever swear at your mother like that again…” I warned in a scolding tone and raised my eyebrow.

“Don't worry Mother.” She whispered back. “I love you.”

“Always remember that I love you, Evie.” I whispered just before I let Gabrielle take back over.

* * *

I opened my eyes and found myself holding a sobbing Eve. My normally strong and stoic daughter was crying for the mother she had only known for a short time. I held her close to me and let her cry it out. After a while she looked up at me. “You have a nice chat with mom?”

She wipes her face and nods, “Yeah. She told me that you would tell me everything. Will you?”

“Of course I will, but right now I have another promise to take care of.” I whispered.

“What's that?”

I drew in a deep breath and tried not to allow my tears to fall. “Lay your mother to rest with your grandmother and uncle.”

“Could I go with you?” She asks quietly.

“Of course you can, I wouldn't ask you to stay behind.” I hug her once more. “Come on.”

I watch as she picked up her sword and put it in the scabbard at her back. Together, we walk around the outside of the tavern to where I have Argo hitched. I reach into the bag and pull out the urn containing Xena's ashes. We silently walk across town to the Mausoleum and pause outside, I look over at Eve to see tears streaming down her face. I smile sympathetically and slip my hand into hers to offer comfort.

“Ready?” She asks.

“No.” I shake my head. “But I have to do this, I promised.”

We entered the quiet building and found Xena's mother and brother. I walked over to where Cyrene's body lay. “Hi Cyrene. I brought Xena home to you. Not the way I wanted to but you will be together now. I'm sorry I couldn't protect her like she's protected me all these years. I wish it had been me instead.”

“Gabrielle!” I hear Xena scold. I smile ruefully and walk over to where her brother lay.

“Lyceus, a long time ago Xena asked me if anything ever happened to her, to bring her here to lay beside you. I wish it was several years from now instead of this moment but that's not how things worked out. Take care of her.” I set the ceramic urn down on a stone pedestal that was somehow already there, seemingly waiting. I sighed and pressed two of my finger to my lips and touched the urn. “I love you Xena.”

Suddenly there was a flash of light in the room, when it died down, there stood Aphrodite and Ares. I was surprised to see both of them had tears running down their faces. Before either Eve or I could say anything, Ares held a finger to his lips.

“I only came to say goodbye.” He choked out.

“You're the one who's responsible for the pillar.” I whispered.

He nodded, “Yes.”

“Thank you.” He only nodded at me. I turned to Aphrodite. “Hi.”

“Hi Little One.” She smiled at me. The next thing I knew, I was in her arms crying silently. She held me while I sobbed. “She was a great friend to me, Gabrielle. I will miss very much.”

“Thank you, Aphrodite.” I released my friend and moved over to embrace my daughter. “How ya doing?”

Eve took a deep breath and whispered, “Not so good.”

“I know, Sweetheart.” I wiped away her tears with my thumbs. “Why don't you talk to her for a few more minutes and then we'll go get some rest.”

She nodded and released me. I watched as she stood next to her mother's urn and whispered words of love to Xena. I noticed that both Ares and Aphrodite had left quietly without their usual fanfare. I silently thanked them for that. I was brought out of my reverie by Eve's voice. “What?”

“Look here.” She pointed to the stone in front of Xena's urn. I looked to see the words Xena: Warrior Princess engraved into the stone. On one side of the inscription was a carving of Xena's sword and Chakram, on the other was a carving of my Sais and a quill.

“It's beautiful.” I hear Xena whisper in my ear.

“Yes it is.” I agree.

“What Gabrielle?” Eve asked, confused.

I smiled. “Your mother was just saying that the pillar was beautiful.”

“You can talk to her?”

“Yes.” I nodded. “Why don't we go back to the tavern and I'll explain everything to you.”


* * *

I stayed in Amphipolis for several weeks, helping out with the tavern. When I finally left for the land of the Pharaohs, Eve decided to go with me instead of returning to Chin. She had told me that the people of Chin were having a hard time accepting Eli's Way. So we traveled together, helping each other through our grief over losing our beloved Xena.

The End…for now.

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