That Question, aka 'Soulmates'
Copyright June 1998
Completed April 30, 1999
Xena, Gabrielle, Argo, et al, belong to UNIVERSAL/MCA and RENAISSANCE PICTURES. No copyright infringement is intended. Any new characters belong to the author.
This story has taken me longer to write than any of my other attempts at Xena fanfic, not because it's long, I had some things to take care of and this is the first chance I've really had to complete the story. I hope it's worth your time, I consider this a "Romantic Friendship" piece. Thoughts, and/or feelings are denoted within the text by the < > symbols.
At first I had no intention of intergrating any of the episodes into the story, but then I realized that in order for the story to work, it would have to take place after, "The Return of Callisto." I have also added, due to the ending of the story, spoilers for "Destiny" and "The Quest" as well as "Is There A Doctor In The House" and "The Greater Good."
Go to my beta-reader, Tracy. This is only the second Xena story she has edited for me, although we have worked on other stories before and she continues to be a Godsend. Thanks Trace... oh... say hello to Kevin for me... (S)
"Xena, how do you know when you've met your soulmate?" the bard asked out of the blue.
"What?" answered the warrior princess.
"How do you know when you've met your soulmate?" Gabrielle repeated as she gazed up at her friend.
"Um... I'm not quite sure," Xena replied, a puzzled expression on her face.
"I mean... does it just hit you, or is it something that creeps up on you?"
Xena started to do something she hated...
She never liked these conversations.
Ask her to plan an assault, rescue someone, anything at all and she would be in her element.
This was entering the uncertain domain of 'sensitive chats'.
Which she could handle with the best of them, or so she thought.
If she really...
Not this time.
And definitely not with 'that' question.
It was a virtual quagmire with no easy way out.
Until 'that' question, she and Gabrielle had been enjoying the serenity of the afternoon, relishing it and the peace they rarely had the opportunity to take advantage of.
They had found the perfect spot overlooking the ocean, watching as the waves crashed against the reefs below, taking in the wondrous site before their eyes.
Every so often, a gentle breeze would bring them the clean, crisp scent of salt in the air.
Though the weather was perfect for swimming, they had kept their distance from the beach.
Gabrielle had pleaded with Xena to go for a swim, to 'frolic and play' in the inviting surf.
Xena raised her left eyebrow, 'frolic?' she had silently asked.
Xena turned her gaze back to the ocean, before answering Gabrielle's plea with one single word:
"Right... Poseidon," Gabrielle replied, her shoulders drooping slightly.
Xena hated to deny the bard, but she couldn't take a chance that Poseidon might take his anger at her out on Gabrielle.
Right now, facing Poseidon started to look like a viable option to the warrior princess.
"We should head back to the inn. It's getting dark," Xena offered, getting up and brushing the sand off her leathers.
"You're not getting away without answering my question Xena," Gabrielle said, while rising from her spot, picking up her staff.
"I wasn't planning to. It's getting cold and it's about time for supper," Xena replied all the while thinking, <Why is she asking this now?>
"All right, let's head back," the bard acquiesced.
Humming to herself, Gabrielle started back down the path that led to the inn they were staying at for the night.
Xena stared at the retreating figure, shaking her head. She knew the bard would not let this go, that Gabrielle was giving her a reprieve until later, when Xena would have no choice 'but' to answer the question.
Either that, or Gabrielle would pester her about it the entire evening, ending any chances of her getting a good night's sleep.
The inn was well kept, the fragrant aromas coming from the kitchen had the bard's mouth watering as soon as she entered the dwelling. Knowing that Xena would be following her in shortly, Gabrielle's green eyes took in the dining area.
It was bright and cheery, the warmth from the fireplace was inviting, without being stifling.
Spotting a table in the back, Gabrielle made a beeline towards it. The young woman had traveled with Xena long enough to know that this would give her friend a prefect view of the entire area.
She had just finished placing their dinner order, when Xena finally entered the room.
Gabrielle watched in silent wonder.
It never ceased to amazed the bard.
The room grew perceptively quieter.
They had been to numerous taverns and inns all over Greece during their travels together, yet the effect was always the same.
'Everything' stopped when Xena first entered the room, her presence demanded it.
Xena stood in the doorway for a moment.
Her blue eyes sweeping the room, making contact with various patrons who turned away suddenly, finding their meals far less threatening.
Seeing where Gabrielle sat, she thought, <She's learning.>
Walking across the room to reach her companion, Xena sat down, her back facing the wall.
"Very nice Gabrielle," Xena told her.
"Thanks. I've already ordered dinner, your port should be coming shortly," Gabrielle answered, secretly pleased that she had chosen correctly.
"What about you?" Xena asked.
"Oh... I'm having water," she replied.
Looking over to the young woman, Xena had a perplexed look on her face, "Water?"
"Umhmm," the bard answered absentmindedly, looking around the dining area.
"We can afford to buy you something to drink Gabrielle," Xena stated.
"I know... I'd rather not," she replied.
<This is 'not' good> the warrior princess pondered. <Water... not watered down wine... water.>
"Aren't you going to eat?" Gabrielle asked.
"Eat?" the bard asked as she pushed the plate of food towards Xena.
"Oh... yeah, eat," Xena said.
She had been so preoccupied, that she hadn't heard the server bring their food, which was a dangerous habit she hoped she wouldn't develop.
After they finished dinner, Xena informed Gabrielle that she'd return shortly, that she wanted to check on Argo before turning in for the evening.
"No problem, I'll work on my scrolls for awhile," she answered, smiling.
They parted company.
Xena could smell the ocean in the night air, as she walked over to the stables.
Once Argo's needs had been taken care of, she whispered to her trusted war horse, "It's too bad you can't talk girl. You'd probably have an answer for Gabrielle wouldn't you?"
The golden colored mare whinnied, butting the warrior in the chest.
"I thought so," Xena whispered.
Gabrielle walked up the steps that led to their room.
Entering, she proceeded to light some candles.
The room was furnished with a table, a few chairs, a washbasin and two beds.
The beds were a luxury this night.
There were times when they could hardly afford a room and a meal.
If it hadn't been for the insistence of the villagers they had helped earlier in the week, pressing the dinars in her hands...
And the almost imperceptible nod Xena had given her...
"Well... let's not think about it," Gabrielle murmured.
She knew of Xena's reluctance to take money for her deeds.
Taking one of the candles with her, Gabrielle gathered her scroll bag from her bed and sat down at the table that had been placed next to the window.
She had been working on her scrolls when she heard a noise.
<Who's whistling?> she wondered.
Gabrielle stood up and looked out.
A smile came to her face when she saw her best friend walking in the moonlight.
She didn't think she'd ever tire of watching Xena.
There was something intrinsic about her.
Xena had become a source of inspiration and courage for the young woman from Potedaia.
<How long are you going to stay out there hmm?> the bard asked herself.
"I can't stay out here all night," Xena muttered. Glancing up, she could make out the bard's silhouette in the window. "She's waiting for me... Tartarus. Well, looks like it's time to face the music."
She made her way back to the inn...
"How's Argo?" Gabrielle asked, looking up from her scrolls when Xena finally entered their room.
"Oh... she's fine. She sends her regards," Xena replied with a smile on her face. "I like it when you do that," the bard said.
"Smile. You should do that more," Gabrielle replied.
Both of Xena's eyebrows shot up, "Yeah... right Gabrielle," Xena snorted.
"Honestly Xena... you have a lovely smile."
"Okay... okay, I'll smile more. So, how are the scrolls coming?" she asked, as she proceeded to unbuckle her armor, placing it on the chair next to her bed. She laid her sword and chakram within easy reach. <Huh... you weren't expecting that, were you Gabrielle?> Xena mused.
At first, it seemed like the perfect counter maneuver...
Get the bard preoccupied, then perhaps Gabrielle wouldn't remember the question she had asked earlier. But the more Xena thought about it, the more she realized that she didn't ask Gabrielle about what she wrote.
And, for some reason she couldn't quite grasp...
Somewhat startled by the question, the bard replied, "I've touched them up here and there thanks."
After changing into her sleeping shift, Xena got into bed.
Gabrielle waited until Xena had gotten comfortable when she asked:
"So... Xena? How do you know when you've met your soulmate?"
She watched as Xena rolled her eyes.
<Thought I'd forget, didn't you?> she told herself. Her brow furrowed, <Wait? Is that why she asked me about my scrolls? Was she trying to distract me?>
"Aggghh! Can't we talk about this in the morning?" Xena asked Gabrielle.
Shaking her head, the bard replied, "Nope. Right now."
Propping her head on her hand, Xena looked over at the bard.
"Okay... how do you know when you've met your soulmate?"
"Right," Gabrielle replied.
"That's not an easy question to answer..." she waved her hand in front of her to cut Gabrielle off, "but I'll try."
Gabrielle moved from her seat at the table and sat down by Xena's feet at the edge of her bed.
"Well..." Xena began as she moved to give her friend more room. She decided to sit up, propping her back against the wall.
"Stop hedging," the bard said, as she wrapped her arms around her knees.
"I am 'not' hedging... I'm regrouping," Xena saw the disbelief on Gabrielle's face. "All right... all right. You asked, 'Was it something that just hit you, or if it crept up on you', right?" she watched as the bard nodded her head. "It could be both... it depends on the persons involved. I think perhaps you'd know the moment you saw your soulmate, that you'd sense it somehow, deep down. You'd feel whole... complete, as if you'd found the final piece of a puzzle and were finally able to see the entire picture," she shrugged, hoping that Gabrielle would accept the answer.
"Okay... I'll buy that, but what about when it creeps up on you?"
"That just 'it'. It creeps up on you, you could be with that person everyday and you wouldn't know it until something happened... some outside force that made you 'look' at the other person in a completely different way than you had done so... say seconds, minutes before."
"Like what?" Gabrielle interrupted.
"I don't know... maybe the person was injured... or went away for some reason. You'd feel different."
"Lonely?" Gabrielle ventured. <Empty inside> she thought.
"Yeah... lonely," Xena agreed. "But... 'not' because you were alone and you missed their companionship," she shook her head. "You'd know... 'in here'," Xena stressed, placing her hand over her heart. "You probably couldn't put your finger on it right away," she said, her eyes moving from side to side, as if trying to physically locate the answer in the room. "You'd ache and
wouldn't know 'why' or what to 'do' about it. Only... only when the person returned, you 'felt' better... whole. I don't know how else to put it," Xena concluded, noticing the look of concern on Gabrielle's face. "Hey... are you okay?" she asked reaching out for her friend.
"Fine... I'm fine," Gabrielle responded, "I think I'll get some sleep now."
Getting off Xena's bed, the bard proceeded to clean up. Placing her scrolls back in the bag, and changing into her sleeping shift.
"Gabrielle?" Xena said softly.
"You do realize that not everyone has the same definition, don't you?" she asked.
"Yeah... I do," the bard replied, after blowing out the candles.
"All right... g'night Gabrielle," Xena said as she got back under the covers and closed her eyes.
"Night Xena," she said, as she settled in her bed, alone with her thoughts.
The morning came to soon for the young woman from Potedaia.
"Come on Gabrielle, rise and shine," Xena said, trying to rouse the bard.
"Don't wanna," came the sleepy reply.
"You'll miss breakfast if you don't," Xena told her, going after one of the few things that would get her friend up in the morning.
"Breakfast?" she said, slowly opening one of her eyes, the green orb sparking at the thought of 'seeing' food.
"Yeah... it's pretty good too. Warm cereal with honey, hot bread..." Xena let the rest of the words trail away.
"You are trying to torture me," Gabrielle grumbled, getting up slowly.
A cross between a smile and a smirk appeared on Xena's face, "I wouldn't do that... yet."
"I'll meet you downstairs," Gabrielle said, her feet finally touching the wooden floor, she quickly snatched her feet back up. "Brrr... why didn't you tell me it's cold?"
"It won't be for long, hurry up, we're leaving today," Xena told her, as she made her way to the door.
"Right... I'll be there before you know it," the bard replied watching Xena leave the room. <A few more minutes won't hurt.> she thought, slowly sinking back into bed.
"Gab-bri-elle...." she heard Xena's voice coming through the door.
"I'm up... I'm up."
Gabrielle made her way down to the dining area, just as the server had dropped of a tray loaded down with food at the same table they had eaten last night.
"I hope you like it," Xena told Gabrielle when the bard finally arrived at the table. She watched as her friend's face lit up in anticipation.
"Ummm... that was delicious. You were right Xena," Gabrielle stated patting her stomach after polishing off the large meal.
"Told ya," Xena replied with a smirk. "I've got Argo tied to the post outside, meet me out front when you've got your gear together."
Gabrielle nodded and quickly went back to the room and picked-up her things.
They left the inn, thanking the owner for the pleasant stay.
While Xena mounted Argo, Gabrielle started walking down the road.
For the most part, Xena had been satisfied to let Gabrielle drift from one conversation to the other, only adding to it when necessary, which wasn't very often.
She grew concerned however, when the bard had stopped talking a candlemark later...
It wasn't like her.
"Gabrielle?" Xena asked.
"Is something wrong?" Xena questioned.
Turning to face her companion, the young woman shook her head, "No... nothing's wrong. Why?"
"Well... I was just wondering."
"What?" Gabrielle prodded.
"That question... about your soulmate," she watched as Gabrielle nodded. "Was there a specific reason you asked?" Xena watched as Gabrielle lowered her face, averting Xena's gaze.
"No..." the bard answered quietly.
Reining Argo to a stop, Xena quickly dismounted, placing her hand on Gabrielle's shoulders, she turned the young woman around to face her.
"Gabrielle... is there something you want to tell me? Talk about?"
Xena's heart rate picked up as she looked into the bard's mist green eyes, seeing unshed tears threatening to spill over.
"Gabrielle... what's wrong?" she pleaded.
"NOTHING!" the bard answered angrily, as she tore herself from Xena's grasp.
Gabrielle had managed to walk a few feet away when she felt a powerful hand spinning her around once more.
"Something's wrong... maybe... maybe I can help. Please tell me Gabrielle," Xena said. She was startled by the bard's reaction to the question.
"Oh... so it's 'tell me Gabrielle'. I'm supposed to let 'you' know what's wrong," the bard shook off Xena's grip and started pacing. "You 'never' tell me what's wrong, I have to pry it out of you, even then, you don't tell me everything!" she shouted at the amazed warrior.
"Gabrielle... this... this isn't about me," Xena said, wondering at the turn of events.
"The TARTARUS it isn't!" Gabrielle countered.
Xena walked over to the young woman, grabbing her by the arms, "What do you mean by that?" she demanded.
"Xena... let go. You're HURTING me!" Gabrielle cried out.
Xena couldn't release her hold fast enough, she could see the discoloration already beginning to appear on Gabrielle's arms.
Wincing, she silently berated herself.
"I'm sorry Gabrielle," she said as she walked back to Argo. "We... we better keep moving," she told the bard after she got back in the saddle.
Except for an occasional word here and there the rest of the day passed by in silence.
"Here," Xena said as she handed Gabrielle a waterskin.
"Thank you," she replied, taking a sip and handing the skin back.
"Keep it, I'll be right back. I'm going to scout ahead, there's a nice shady spot," she gestured with her head towards some trees, "if you'd like to rest for awhile."
"Fine," the bard answered, walking over and sitting down.
"Come on Argo... hiya," Xena said, urging her trusted mount into a fast run.
Watching Xena ride off, Gabrielle thought about what had happened.
<What am I going to tell her?>
While the bard searched her thoughts for the right thing to say, Xena berated her actions in several different languages. She didn't deserve to have Gabrielle by her side, it was too dangerous, didn't she byher own hands prove that point?.
<Gods... what have I done? She'll never forgive me. I'll... I'll send her back home.>
Xena quickly tossed aside the last thought.
<No... I couldn't send her back there, they'd probably want to marry her off to someone else as soon as they could. To someone she didn't know, let alone love. I can't do that to her... not after all the things we've been through, it would kill her.>
The landscape was rushing past her eyes, she didn't care. Xena had enough faith in her horse to know that Argo would keep them from harm's way.
<The Amazons, yeah, they'd take her in. She is their princess.>
Xena thought that would be the perfect solution until another thought popped into her mind.
<You'd miss her though... wouldn't you?>
"Yeah... I would," she answered herself.
She traveled for another mile before coming across a suitable location for them to make camp for the night.
She reined Argo to a stop, and dismounting, she let her horse forage for food.
Glancing at the sky, Xena knew she had some time to spare before returning to the bard.
Sitting down on a fallen tree trunk, Xena placed her head in her hands, trying to figure out what Gabrielle was telling her.
<Gabrielle, this isn't about me.>
<The TARTARUS it isn't.>
"What are you trying to tell me Gabrielle?," Xena said out loud.
She knew she cared for the young woman...
That she would willingly lay her life on the line for her, without a second thought.
She also knew that there had been times when they first began traveling together when Xena wished the bard had never followed her.
Now, she couldn't stand the thought of Gabrielle ever leaving her side again.
Which was a 'total' contradiction to what she herself had planned.
What was about Gabrielle that made her act in this manner.?
She kept thinking back to the conversation...
<This isn't about me....>
"Oh... Gods... this 'is' about me," Xena whispered.
She sprang to her feet, whistling for Argo.
Quickly mounting her trusted war horse, she headed back towards the bard.
Gabrielle sat underneath the tree waiting for Xena to return. Looking at the discoloration on her upper arms, she knew her friend hadn't meant to grab her so forcefully.
<Perdicus? I know you can hear me, what am I going to do? Have I ruined the best thing that's ever happened to me...? Um... no offense.>
The bard thought back to her wedding day.
<Were you 'really' happy for me Xena?>
"Who knows? If it hadn't been for Callisto, there might be a baby Xena on the way," Gabrielle said out loud.
Getting up, she started pacing back and forth, muttering to herself.
"Why did I ask that stupid question!?" the bard shouted, flinging her arms in the air.
She knew why...
She had known for quite sometime...
That her friend growing up...
A certain warrior princess...
<I love her Perdicus and I'm afraid of losing her again, I'd rather die. She 'is' my other half. I wasn't sure at first. 'Oh... it's a silly infatuation, I'll get over it.' That's what I thought, it wasn't until I
thought she'd died. Perdicus... I never knew such anger and betrayal in my life. Anger at myself, because I didn't tell her...betrayal, because she left me... alone. She had become everything to me... and she was gone. I haven't had the courage to tell her yet, even after she came back. I... I
couldn't stand it if she sent me away. I 'know' she cares for me... she just shows it differently, that's all>
"I'm truly sorry you died Perdicus, thanks for listening," the bard whispered.
Argo's hooves kicked up dirt as they flew past the landscape.
Argo had been on many urgent rides before, but this was different.
They were not being chased by others of her kind, and she was not following anyone. Argo 'did' notice that the smaller human was not with them. Perhaps they were going to find the one called 'Gabrielle'.
"Come on girl, we're almost there," Xena urged her horse on, leaning forward in the saddle.
<What am I going say to her?>
Xena allowed Argo to ease from her run to a canter.
<What 'was' she going to say to Gabrielle?>
"Easy girl... easy," she told Argo. "I'll let her bring it up, that's what I'll do," she said out loud. <Coward>
"Did you find a place to camp for the night?" Gabrielle said, as Argo slowed down.
"Yeah... come on, we'll get there sooner if you ride with me," she said as she offered her arm.
The young woman grabbed onto Xena's forearm and hoisted herself up, settling behind her friend. She hoped Xena hadn't heard the sharp intake of air.
<I've hurt her again> Xena thought, after listening to Gabrielle's gasp.
"Come on girl, just one more time today, I promise. I'll brush you down as soon as we get there," Xena told Argo.
Gabrielle slid off Argo once they had made it to the proposed campsite. Looking around she spotted the perfect location to dig a firepit.
"I'm going to see if I can get us something to eat," Xena said after taking care of Argo.
Gabrielle had been laying out their bedrolls when Xena returned.
"Dinner," Xena said holding up the field dressed rabbit she had caught, then placing it next to the fire Gabrielle had going.
"How about some stew? We still have some dried vegetables left over," Gabrielle asked.
"That sounds good, I'll... I'll go get some water, be right back," Xena replied grabbing the cooking pot and heading towards a small pond she had spotted earlier.
<I wonder if she's going to bring it up?> Gabrielle thought as she began cutting the rabbit into smaller pieces.
<I hope she doesn't bring it up> Xena mused, filling the cooking pot with water.
She started walking back to the campsite, when she picked up the faint smell of...
Smiling to herself, she placed the pot on the ground, glancing to her left, she reached up and took a few leaves from the branch.
She quickly fastened a small container from the leaves.
<Oh yeah, Gabrielle's going to love these>, she thought.
"I was about to send a search party for you," Gabrielle told Xena once she had returned to the campsite.
"Sorry..." Xena said, placing the cooking pot next to the fire.
"That's okay... you really didn't take that long," Gabrielle replied as she placed the ingredients in the pot and moved it closer to the fire.
They spent the time waiting for the stew to finish cooking by completing tasks around the campsite.
Gabrielle added a few herbs to the simmering liquid, while Xena set about brushing down Argo, as she promised.
"Do you think she'll like what I brought?" Xena whispered to her four-legged companion, as she took out the small container she had made earlier.
The mare sniffed at the contents, the blew a breath at Xena.
"Does it meet with your approval?" Xena asked.
Xena smiled, taking a brief moment to stroke the mare behind her ears.
"Thanks... I thought so."
Xena walked over to the saddle bags, placing the container in the bag and out-of-sight until later.
She sat down next to the fire, having taken her sword out of its scabbard. She checked the blade for the slightest imperfections, and satisfied that there were none, she proceeded to sharpen the blade.
Rhythmically moving the stone down the blade, first one side, then the other. Taking a moment and wiping it down with a soft cloth infused with oil.
Gabrielle listened to the somewhat comforting sound.
She understood how important it was for Xena to keep her blade razor sharp.
It had saved them on more than one occasion and most likely continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
Gabrielle had thought about working on her scrolls or updating her diary, she decided to wait until later in the evening and update her diary.
There were no other sounds by the campfire except the occasional popping of a log, the stone on Xena's blade or the crickets that had come out.
Xena would pause from time to time, finding her gaze settling on her traveling companion.
Turning quickly if she thought Gabrielle spotted her staring.
The imposed silence was starting to get to her.
"Yeah?" she replied, sliding the blade back in the scabbard.
"Smells good," she said, getting up and taking the bowl Gabrielle offered her, sitting down on a nearby log.
"This is good Gabrielle," Xena said after tasting the stew.
"I... uh... I tried some new seasonings," the bard replied smiling shyly.
The conversation died out.
After finishing her second helping, Xena went to the saddlebags and took out the container. Turning around slowly, she hoped this 'peace offering' would do the trick.
"Um... Gabrielle?" she said hesitantly.
Gabrielle turned to watch her friend walking towards her.
<Gods... I hope she's still my friend> she thought before answering, "Yes Xena?"
Clearing her throat, "I... um, I found these," she said, shrugging her shoulders, holding the container out in front of her. "I... uh... I thought you might like them?"
Puzzled, Gabrielle reached out for the small container.
The exchange had only taken seconds...
But it seemed like a lifetime to Xena, before Gabrielle looked at the contents.
<What if she doesn't like it?> she thought briefly.
"Oh... Xena," Gabrielle said choking on her words. Getting up quickly she crossed the distance that had kept them apart and hugged the warrior, startling her.
"Uh... Gabrielle? They're only berries," she said, confused by the bard's reaction.
How could Gabrielle explain to Xena that it wasn't the simple fact that she had given her berries...
It wasn't that at all...
It was the fact that she had gone out of her way to get them for her, even when she hadn't asked for them.
She still cared.
Not knowing what to do, Xena carefully wrapped her arms around the younger woman.
She found herself gently stroking the bard's strawberry blonde hair.
"It's okay Gabrielle... it's going to be okay," she whispered hoping she was doing the right thing.
"I'm sorry..." Gabrielle said after the tears had finally stopped.
"It's okay... they'll dry."
"What?" Gabrielle asked looking up.
Leaning back to get a better look at the bard, Xena repeated:
"They'll dry... the leathers?"
"Oh," Gabrielle replied.
Xena realized that she would have to release her embrace of the young woman shortly.
Slowly, she took a step back.
Gabrielle knew what Xena was attempting to do and reluctantly let her go.
"I... I don't know what got into to me," she said, feeling the loss of warmth that had surrounded her seconds ago.
"Well... it hasn't been a long time... since."
"Perdicus..." Gabrielle whispered.
"I... I guess you're right, thanks for the berries... and for being around," she said glancing down at the container.
"You're welcome... Gab... Gabrielle?"
"What's wrong Xena?" she could see the conflicting emotions on her friend's face.
"I'm... I'm sorry... about what I did... earlier," Xena said, seeing the bruises on Gabrielle's arms.
"I know... I'm sorry too."
"Let's just put this behind us, wadda say?" Xena asked.
"If that's what you 'really' want," Gabrielle replied.
"It's what I really want," she answered.
"All right," Gabrielle said, disappointed that Xena didn't want to talk about what had passed between them.
"You know... there's someplace I'd like to visit. It's only a few candlemarks from here," Xena said, moving back to her bedroll.
"Sure... anyplace I know?" Gabrielle asked, selecting a berry and popping it into her mouth, savoring the taste.
"No... it's a small village my army rode through."
The comment caught Gabrielle's attention.
"Are you sure you want to go?" she asked moving closer.
"It's important," Xena replied.
"Okay. I guess we'd better turn in if we want to get an early start," the bard suggested.
"Good idea, I'll just check around one last time..."
"I understand," Gabrielle said.
Nodding, Xena quietly left camp and patrolled around the perimeter.
When Xena didn't return right away, Gabrielle placed a few more pieces of wood on the fire.
She laid down on her bedroll with every intention of waiting for Xena to return.
She never felt the sleeping fur placed over her.
They quickly broke camp in the morning, eating on the way.
They arrived at the remains of the small village shortly after three in the afternoon, having stopped briefly for lunch.
Xena urged Agro forward after speaking with Gabrielle.
By the time she reached the ruins, Xena had been caught up by flashes of memories...
Screams filling the air...
The sounds of metal slicing through soft flesh.
The past tried to drag her back to what she once was.
Argo couldn't gallop fast enough for Xena as she rode away from the past...
And rode to her present...
"Gabrielle!" she called out, wondering where she could have gone to.
A sinking feeling filled her as she spotted the bard's staff lying on the ground.
After retriving the staff, she rode after her, knowing whoever had Gabrielle couldn't have gotten very far.
She finally caught up to them.
Gabrielle was being held captive with a smaller group of villagers.
The fight that ensued was short, she used her chakrum to cut through the bindings holding Gabrielle and the others.
Xena knew after tossing Gabrielle her staff, that she was in a better position to defend herself and the other captives.
Xena fought against the leader of the group that had taken Gabrielle prisoner...
She had beaten him...
She was careless...
Had she paid more attention she would have seen what he was doing and could have stopped it...
She shoved the child away at the last possible moment, as the log came rushing towards them...
She felt the air rushing out of her body as she flew through the air from the impact.
She had no idea how far she would have traveled, except for the tree she collided with.
She could recall mumbling something to Gabrielle before passing out from her injuries, letting the darkness claim her.
Xena was reliving moments that shaped her...
Made her who she was...
Prior to Gabrielle entering her life...
Suddenly, she knew...
She was dead.
And just as suddenly she knew...
She had to get back...
No matter what it took.
Xena had found a way to 'merge' with Autolycus.
At first the self-proclaimed 'King of thieves' thought he was going mad.
Everyone had heard the news:
Xena had died.
After explaining what she needed, Autolycus agreed to assist Xena in getting her body back from the Amazons.
Their plans hit a major snag when he was caught by Gabrielle, near Xena's sarcophagus.
Of course Gabrielle didn't believe the explanation he told her...
That Xena was in him...
And that she wanted him to get her body back.
Gabrielle looked at the man she had considered a good friend, she couldn't believe that he would steep so low.
She had him thrown into jail, she would decide what to do with him later...
After the Amazon ceremony honoring Xena.
Gabrielle had explained to Ephiny earlier that she would take Xena's ashes back to Amphipolis to be buried next to her brother Lyceus...
Then she would return...
As the new Amazon Queen.
"No... wait!" Gabrielle cried out watching Autolycus knocking off the logs that had threatened to consume Xena's sarcophagus. "Xena?"
Gabrielle couldn't allow herself to believe what she was witnessing.
The 'King of thieves' using moves she had only seen Xena use.
Watching as Argo responded to the whistle coming from 'his' lips...
"I've got to go," were the last words Gabrielle had told Ephiny before racing over and climbing onto the sarcophagus being pulled away from the village by Argo and Autolycus.
The conversation was brief...
Far too short for the bard...
Xena realized in the brief moments she had been able to stand face-to-face with Gabrielle in the dreamscape, she knew that this courageous young woman had become her soulmate.
What shocked her most about the realization was 'why' she didn't recognize how she felt before. When she thought Gabrielle was lost to her, during the Gods awful time in the temple, where Ephiny had given birth to her son, Xenon.
She had panicked when the bard had gone into convulsions she had no idea what to do.
She knew she wouldn't give up on her, unlike everyone else who had urged her to 'let her go.'
Xena 'had' to get back to Gabrielle.
The pain she saw and heard was far worse than any judgement Hades could ever have given her.
Hanging on the crucifix was nothing compared to what she witnessed on her friend's face, hearing it in her voice.
Nothing would comare in her eyes, because she was the cause of the anguish on Gabrielle's face.
She would find a way to tell Gabrielle that she understood...
Xena would explain, before she lost the chance to ever say anything again...
That Gabrielle had become more than 'just' a friend...
Gabrielle was her...
And that yes...
She did love her...
No matter what happened to them after this moment.
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