Disclaimers: See Part 1
Additional Note (Please Read): ): This story is tied in with, The Conqueror & Ri: A Twist of Destiny. If you have not read both story's chapters preceding this one, you should do so. Also I would like to thank the readers that take time out for my stories, especially Silvermoonlight, Bexteron, Nancy G aka Bumbling Bard and Marijke Bush. Your comments mean a ton to me. Enjoy! :-)
Feedback always welcomed, sometimes needed at, Alexjanos612@yahoo.com
Xena and Gabrielle,
A Turn of Fate,
Chapter 10: Good-Bye
The Warrior Princess saw that Gabrielle had red rimmed eyes, suspecting her own were probably the same color from crying and tiredness.
The bard also looked at Xena to see that her appearance was worse for wear. 'She looks worn out and her eyes are like rubies. Must be from exhaustion after staying up all day and night thinking about Akemi.'
Xena bent down beside the cot, grasping Gabrielle's hands in hers and kissing them. "Gabrielle, in all the world, the most blessed poet couldn't sing of my love for you. They wouldn't be able to, because the level of passion I have for you is beyond words. I adore you with every ounce of my very being. We said some-"
Xena paused and corrected herself. "I threaten you, but you know that I would never cause you physical pain ever again. I would destroy myself before I'd harm you. You're my light. My source. My Angel." she kissed Gabrielle's hands once more, then placed her face on them to cease the tears that were forming.
The anger inside Gabrielle subsided. She tried to pull her appendages free so that she could caress Xena, but the tall warrior had a lock on them and wasn't letting go.
"What is it, Xena?" she asked weary. "Tell me what it is that has you this way."
"Do you love me?"
Gabrielle couldn't fathom why her lover would ask such a question. "You know I do."
"Say it to me please." Xena plead. "I need to hear your beautiful voice saying what I swore was meaningless in my life. Please say it."
Gabrielle haven't ever seen Xena act like this in all their years together. She was a mix of vexation and astonishment at Xena's display of emotions.
"I love you."
Xena released Gabrielle's hands and gazed into her aqua orbs. "One more time."
"I love you, Xena." Gabrielle stated.
Xena raised up to capture Gabrielle's rosy lips with a powerful kiss that spoke of the vehemence their relationship always incurred. The little Amazon wanted Xena in the most profound form of love possible. Shoving everything she had discovered earlier, Gabrielle begun sliding the straps to Xena's battle dress off her shoulders while their tongues persisted engaging in what lovers been doing since the Titan, Cronus gave his name to time.
Xena halted the intimate moment. "No, Gabrielle."
"Why?" she inquired, sucking the dark warrior's neck as she spoke. "You need me exactly like I need you. We are forever connected. Now make love to me. I want to link with you, so that we won't become desultory from each other. I hate it when we aren't on the same path."
Xena rose onto her feet. "Not yet. Come, sit with me real quick. There's something I want to show you."
Next, Xena tugged on the bard's arms, causing her to stand and brought her to the middle of the cabin where the Sacred katana laid. Xena kneeled and Gabrielle did too, all the while preferring that the damned sword hadn't appeared in hers and Xena's lives. She couldn't stand for what it represented.
"Give me your hands." Xena said.
Gabrielle did so and watched Xena bring them up below her jaw line.
"Alright. Here. Feel the surge of blood under the skin. Now just behind-"
"Xena." Gabrielle got the concept of what she was doing. "You don't have to do this. I understand why you would never teach me the pinch."
Xena knew that Gabrielle was referring to Akemi. Still, it didn't alter her stance. "No. No, today more than ever... I want you to know what I know. Please."
There the word, uncommonly utilized in Xena's vocabulary, was uttered again and Gabrielle caved in to her lover's will. Concentrating on Xena's direction and feeling the pressure on the Warrior Princess' neck, Gabrielle felt when the pinch was applied.
"Why are you doing this?" she questioned.
"Gabrielle." Xena wheezed. "If I only had thirty seconds to live... This is how I'd want to live them... Looking into your eyes..."
Seeing the blood trickle from Xena's nose, Gabrielle couldn't take the sight of watching the person she cherished suffer. "Stop this. Stop it!"
"Always remember, I love you." Xena declared.
Gabrielle took the pinch off and wiped the crimson liquid from Xena's upper lip.
"Why would you teach me this now?" Gabrielle hoped it had nothing to do with the Japian girl. She was tired of, Akemi. "I don't understand!"
"There's nothing to understand..." Xena replied, getting her breath back in control. "I just wanted you to know everything I know."
The raven haired woman kissed Gabrielle's forehead.
"This has nothing to do with Akemi?" the Amazon was quizzical.
"No." Xena responded. "Come to bed with me now."
Gabrielle caught the hesitation in the tone.
Standing up, she accused. "You're lying, Xena!" her rage began surfacing once more. "I'm certain you are. What, you wanted to get a final good fuck in before you leave me?"
"Gabrielle, that is absurd. What are you talking-" Xena stopped her sentence.
Her natural instants of compendium kicked in as she surveyed the room. Gabrielle's sais were imbedded in the wall, probably from rage. The Warrior Princess had mistaken the bard's eagerness to talk and her red eyes for Gabrielle being upset, or sad because of Xena's intentions to hurt her at the meeting with the Samurai. She assumed, that had taking its toll on the petite warrior, but with Gabrielle's accusation of her leaving, all the pieces started to fit together.
'She knows?' Xena feared.
"What were you gonna say, Xena?" Gabrielle's fury was unleashing. "Was you planning on some other conjured lie?"
"What did you hear?"
"Enough to learn that I'm not important to you!" Gabrielle yelled. "You could've spoken to me. You didn't have to tell, Harukata!"
Xena stood on her feet and hugged her supposed future wife. "You're correct, Gabrielle. I should've talked to you first, instead of making an impulsive decision without your acknowledgement. I shouldn't have told you to leave the conversation between me and Harukata to begin with, but now that the truth is unveiled, you do conceive why I have to do this, don't you?"
Gabrielle's heart froze. After everything that just happened. Xena's loving confession and her plea for the bard's love was only a prelude to emptiness.
Gabrielle shoved Xena away from her with great force, almost knocking the woman down. "This is a game to you, isn't it?"
Xena's puzzled expression fueled Gabrielle's anger and tears welled up. "I'm a stupid fool, ain't I? I heard your declaration of Akemi's importance over me, however I was still willing and ready to give myself to you. I decided to eject all I've discovered out of my mind and allow you to use my body. I'm a fool."
"I've never said that Akemi was more important than you!" Xena shouted, wondering how things became so construed.
Gabrielle cleared the droplets off her eyes in irritation. "Just stop, okay." she held back a sob. "Just stop with the lies. I heard you, Xena. I remember your words well. You explained that I was and will always be important to you, but the situation is bigger than me. Too extreme to ignore."
Gabrielle looked at Xena with mixture of sadness and animosity. "When Akemi calls, you said that you'll go to her. Did I get it right, Xena? Do you recall those statements made by you, because I do."
If the circumstances weren't dire, Xena would have laughed at Gabrielle's misunderstanding. "What else did you hear?"
"Does it matter! Isn't that enough!" she answered loudly.
And here it was, the two sided dinar to Xena's question of whether she should tell Gabrielle about her upcoming death, or keep it a secret. On one side of the coin, she could disclose all the details concerning Higuchi as well as Yodoshi and how it coincides with her demise. But being so close to Greece, Gabrielle would beg for Xena to not go through with it and she'll relent in her duty.
On the other side, Xena could play off Gabrielle's ignorance and let her remain thinking that she wanted Akemi. It was wrong by moral standards and it'll hurt Gabrielle, but it would also shield the short haired blonde from learning that she'd lose a part of her soul. All she had to do was get the Shogun, including his Samurai to swear an oath not to inform Gabrielle about the events that was to unfold and the plot could work. If Xena played her role really well, she could cause Gabrielle to despise her and return to Greece where she would be safe from the battle in Japa.
A verdict was in. Xena chose to keep Gabrielle in the dark.
"Why are you going to Akemi?" Gabrielle inquired, not liking Xena's silence. "Have I misinterpret what you were saying? Is Akemi the key to defeating her father, that's the reasoning for summoning you and the purpose for you to go to her?"
Xena was still quiet, causing Gabrielle to grab both her shoulders yelling. "Say something! Tell me, it's not what I think it is! Tell me, I'm more imperative than her, that our love is greater than all of this!"
'Forgive me, Gabrielle.' Xena ruminated while sheltering her true feelings and letting her stoic mask grace her features.
"Tell me!" Gabrielle screamed.
"You didn't misjudge anything." Xena's cold response shook Gabrielle to her core. "I loved Akemi before you and now I have the opportunity to be reunited with her again. I haven't stopped loving her, so I am seizing this lucky chance."
The Amazon began to cry uncontrollably while her fist pounded on Xena's chest. "You're lying! You don't mean that! You can't! You can't, Xena!"
"I do." she replied impassively. "Akemi's my real soul mate. I realize that now."
Gabrielle's knees buckled, making her fall to the floorboards.
"No!" Gabrielle cried, her arms enclosed Xena's boot. "No! You can't abandon me! You can't! We've been through so much for one another! I'm sorry for what I said to you! I was jealous and angry! Please!"
Her voice became more softer. "We're to be married, Xena. It break my heart to watch you love others, because you are the only person I want. Look at the ring I have given you. The words are right there for you to see. I meant them. You are my soul. You are my life. I'm lost without you."
"Speaking of rings. You've paid a large sum for this silly thing." the apathetic woman said.
"Silly?" Gabrielle felt like she was in a nightmare.
"Yes and you wasted almost all our dinars on it. We had one hundred fifty-seven, but when I searched the saddle bags, I've only found five. We're damn near broke if you ask me, Gabrielle."
The Amazon couldn't believe her ears. In Potidaea, just a few days ago, she had haggled the merchant into selling the ring and engraving it for one hundred fifty-two dinars, instead of the three hundred he originally wanted. Either way, it shouldn't matter how much the band cost. Xena never cared about the amount of money they had, besides it was symbolic for their love and future union.
Xena's deportment became extremely bizarre to her. "Xena, why are you doing this to me? I find nothing you say to be credible any longer."
"That's because you don't want to accept what I am saying." Xena bended down and cupped Gabrielle's face, going for a different tact to be believable. "I'll be honest with you, Gabrielle. I did have intentions to marry you, but your jealousy and the disregard for sharing what I be telling you about my past with others, grates on my nerves."
"And you don't have flaws, Xena?" Gabrielle retorted. "I mentioned of the concernment I had about my dream last night, that left me unease. There weren't any inquisitions from you that showed you care. What of my scrolls that I pour my all into? You take no interest in reading any further than the few you've already read. Also, sometimes, it's like you don't feel at all when I speak of how much I feel about us, but still I'm in love with you and you know that. Tell me you don't love me anymore."
"What point will that serve. I'm going to, Akemi. That's the end of it."
"If you honestly say that you're no longer in love with me, I'll let you go, Xena." Gabrielle lied.
Still clutching the bard's wet face, Xena's sapphire irises locked on hers when she said. "I love you, Gabrielle, I told you that, but I'm not in love with you anymore. Guess I should tell you now that I can revive Akemi and be with the person I truly am in love with."
Instantly, Gabrielle peeled her face from Xena's grasp and slapped her hard across hers, wanting so badly to erase the expressionless mask she remained wearing. Nonetheless, Xena's facade was unfazed, so Gabrielle hit her again.
"Liar!" she sobbed anew, then smacked her once more. "Liar!"
Gabrielle's hand was aiming to attack a fourth time, but she instead begun to caress Xena's stinging jaw.
"I'm insecure of you, but I know you couldn't ever leave me. I sense it in my soul that you are lying to me. Your actions when you came in here was-"
"A ruse." Xena interrupted. "I felt sorry for you, because of what I had to tell you and you were right. I was hoping to get you in bed one last time."
Gabrielle was seeing red and went to strike again.
Xena quickly captured her wrist. "I allowed you to hit me enough." she squeezed the tendons painfully, making Gabrielle hiss in advance of pushing the petite Amazon to the floor.
Xena picked up the Grand katana and then stood to her full stature. Next, the Warrior Princess hastily equipped her entire armor and weapons while Gabrielle laid where she was pushed, holding her aching wrist that nowhere near compared to the ache in her heart.
Xena splashed some water on her face, hardly able to keep up her performance. Inside she was hurting for what she was doing and wanted to remit, however the dark warrior knew she had to finish the deception.
Glancing over her shoulder at the prone bard, Xena said. "Get up, Gabrielle. You look pathetic laying there."
Gabrielle didn't respond. She was completely confused by her now ex-lover. The happiness she had always desired was within her reach. Xena and herself was bound for a settling couple, that would sooner or later find peace in their lives.
So she thought.
'It was all a dream.' Gabrielle introspect sadly.
Xena turned back around, her voice becoming menacing. "Get up, Gabrielle."
"Why?" Gabrielle broke her silence. "I should have known you were breaking off our bonding. I feared it, but I should've known. Akemi won and you will soon have what you want too. How am I hurting you, or causing you any discomfort by laying here where you have put me. So please, just go and leave me alone. You freed me from this relationship."
Xena let her own jealousy play a role. "Well at least you're free to be with that blue armor wearing boy. What's his name? Zicalus, is it?"
Gabrielle gazed at her. "I trusted you, Xena. You promised me that I could trust that you wouldn't hurt me. You're heartless. Go be with that body slave whore. You're both manipulative people who deserve each other."
Xena smirked. "Your mouth isn't my favorite aspect of you. It's never quiescent."
"You could've fooled me. You don't seem to have a problem when I'm using it on you." Gabrielle affirmed. "This is all my fault. You did warn me when I first tried to give you my heart. You confessed that you would use me and hurt me. That's why I married Perdicus. He'd loved me and possibly was my true love."
"Yeah, maybe." Xena hid her dismay, before removing the gold circlet off her index finger. "You'll be needing this for when you choose somebody for the position, because it won't be me."
Watching Xena set the ring on the table, Gabrielle started wailing as the realization that her and the love of her life was really ended. She placed her head in the crook of her forearm and cried. The sound of Gabrielle's cry was making Xena come undone, nevertheless she didn't falter.
Perhaps she could talk the Amazon into disembarking the ship, now. "Gabrielle."
The bard did not answer, but her wails muffled some. Xena walked towards her and coaxed Gabrielle to look at her.
"You don't have to journey to Japa with me. I can have Harukata steer the ship back to port." Xena said. "You can stay in Greece."
Gabrielle was hyperventilating as she spoke. "You... really want... to be rid of me... I could... never... never leave your... side Xe-"
"Don't you get it!" Xena became adamant, she was worried for Gabrielle's life. "I don't want you by my side."
"How can you... be so cruel... to me, Xena?" Gabrielle asked. "It's so easy... for... you to let me go... It always been that way... It's probably a skill... you acquired from... Ares. However... the God I give my faith to... is full of love. I couldn't, nor wouldn't... hate you, or... hurt you... deliberately. Right now though, I can't stand the sight of you... so just leave me be."
"This battle will be dangerous. You could die. I'm trying to save your life." Xena professed.
"Go!" Gabrielle shouted, before saying softly. "I renounce you."
The young woman's statement pained Xena, but she didn't dwell on it. Giving up on trying to make Gabrielle return to Greece, Xena arose to her feet and opened the cabin door to exit.
"Good-bye, Gabrielle." she said her farewell. "I won't ever bother you from this point to the end of my days."
After the door closed and Xena was gone, Gabrielle failed to lift herself off the floor. She chose to ball up into a fetal posture, letting the tears fall silently.
"I'm okay." she fibbed to herself. "I'm okay."
Xena trekked languidly to Harukata's conference cabin. Her resolve was falling faster than a landslide for what she had done to Gabrielle. Still, there was one other thing that needed to be taken care of in order to seal the plan she'd put in motion.
Xena knocked on the door and then entered without waiting for an invitation. The only occupants was an unmasked Shogun who was sitting and speaking to Koska, whom had his helmet off as well.
Harukata's attention fell on her. "By all means, Xena. Come in."
Xena ignored Koska's glare and proceeded to move forward, halting her steps once she was standing in front of the old man.
"I need an oath from you and all your Samurai, on the Bushido Code, that no one will divulge to Gabrielle my fate." Xena demanded.
"Gabrielle San is staying." he query. "I thought that you would be requesting we head back to Greece."
"Swear!" she yelled.
"Who do you think you're talking to in that manner!" Koska growled, reaching for his blade.
The raven haired warrior brought the Sacred katana she already held in her hand inches from his throat.
"Unsheathe your weapon Samurai and your head will be rolling before you used it." she promised.
Koska slowly raised his hands in surrender.
"Xena." the Shogun aimed for appeasement to end the current situation. "You have my word that none of my warriors, including myself will avow to Gabrielle San what is to happen in Japa dealing with your death. Now remove your katana from Koska."
Xena lowered the sword away from the sun fire armored man, bringing him relief.
"Thank you." Xena offered her gratitude.
"You're welcome." Harukata replied. "But I do think it'll be best if you told her the truth."
"Stick with what you know and I'll stick with mines." Xena responded. "Gabrielle is relentless when it comes to getting her way with me lately. If she discovers that I am to die, she'll coerce me into jumping over board just to escape it. I'm positive that all of Japa would be under Yodoshi in a matter of no time while I am living happily ever after in Egypt. It's no way your forces can prevail without me."
"True." Harukata acceded. "What of Gabrielle San? We aren't too far from Sione. Surely you want me to go back."
"She won't leave and I will not force her." Xena answered. "I'll work out something to ensure her protection. In the mean time, one of my ideas is to inspect your men."
The Shogun was curious. "For what purpose?"
"To see how good they are in combat when it comes to individual and team battle." she said. "Also to find out if they can follow commands."
"They handle themselves well." Harukata was somewhat bothered.
"Under your guidance, not mines." Xena announced tersely.
"You want leadership over my Samurai?" he inquired defensively.
"No." Xena assured him. "I need to know that Gabrielle is in safe care. I must be able to weed out the weak from the strong and place Gabrielle with the strongest Samurai. She will place herself in harms way to save a person and I don't want her throwing away her life for anyone worthless."
"No man on this ship is worthless." Koska argued. "You are a woman, Xena. None of the men will listen to you."
"But reluctantly, they'll obey their Shogun if he order them to follow my commandments." Xena deduced.
Hatukata frowned, contemplating what Xena wanted. However, she was growing abrade.
"I train them and witness what they are capable of, or I walk."
"We don't require you training anybody." Koska stated. "We need you to die."
Xena's temper flared. "I'm not dying only to leave my best friend to be slaughtered by Yodoshi's forces, you dumb bastard."
"Fool." he retaliated. "You must die so innocent people that you've killed can be freed."
Xena's hand gripped the katana tightly. She was sure that slaying Koska would just cause Harukata to be highly pissed, nothing more. After everything she's been through lately, what else could befall her. She was already doomed.
"That is it!" the Shogun exclaimed. "You are dismissed, Koska."
Koska started to protest, but thought better of it. He bowed and departed the cabin.
Placing his focus on Xena, Harukata told her. "Although he has a right to not tolerate disrespect, I do not like Koska's attitude. You are very insolent and are pushing my limits of toleration as well."
"I am a dead woman walking." Xena didn't back down. "I'll push far as I want."
"Be that as it may." Harukata expelled a sigh. "I will assemble a quarter of my Samurai warriors. You can instruct the first two hundred tomorrow, and so on, until you've viewed all eight hundred. Since it isn't adequate space inside the armory, they'll be on the bottom deck waiting for you come noon. Consider this the concluding favor you'll get from me."
"Very well." Xena replied, before adding. "But one other thing. I need another room. The cot isn't comfortable for me and Gabrielle, it's too small."
Harukata gazed at her disapprovingly and then conceded. "Kenji will set you up in a cabin of your own."
"That, Shogun, will be my last request." Xena smiled. "For today."
To Be Continued
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