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 now. Thank you all for reading and I hope you enjoy the chapter.
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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.
Gabrielle looked at Xena to see her appearance was worse for wear also. 'She looks worn out, and her eyes are colored like rubies. Must be from exhaustion after staying up all night thinking about Akemi and Japa.'
Xena bent down beside the cot, grasping Gabrielle's hands in hers, and surprising the bard whilst 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'd threatened you, but you know 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, and the anger inside Gabrielle subsided. She tried to pull her extremities free so she could caress Xena, but the tall warrior had a lock on them and wasn't letting go.
"What is it, Xena?" Gabrielle asked warily. "Tell me what it is that has you this way."
"Do you love me?"
The Amazon couldn't fathom why her lover would ask such a question. "You know I do."
"Say it to me, please." Xena pleaded. "I need to hear your beautiful voice declaring 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 feeling 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.
She raised up to capture Gabrielle's rosy lips with a powerful kiss that spoke of the vehemence their relationship always incurred, coaxing the little Amazon into wanting Xena in the most profound form of love possible. Shoving everything she had discovered earlier, Gabrielle begun sliding the straps to Xena's battledress off her shoulders, while their tongues persisted engaging in what lovers had 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're forever connected and I hate it when we aren't on the same path. Now make love to me. I want to link with you, so we won't become desultory from each other."
Xena rose onto her feet. "Not yet. Come sit with me real quick. There's something I want to show you."
She tugged on the bard's arms, causing Gabrielle to stand, bringing her to the middle of the cabin where the Sacred katana lied, and they both kneeled in front of it. The petite blonde couldn't stand for what the Japian blade represented, preferring that the damned sword hadn't appeared in their lives.
"Give me your hands." Xena adjured.
Gabrielle did 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."
The Warrior Princess knew Gabrielle was referring to Akemi, but it didn't alter her stance. "No. No, today more than ever... I want you to know what I know. Please."
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 pulse on her neck, Gabrielle felt when the pinch was applied.
"Why are you doing this?" She questioned.
"Gabrielle." Xena wheezed, feeling the pressure build inside her brain. "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.
They took the pinch off and Gabrielle wiped the crimson liquid from Xena's upper lip.
"Why would you teach me this now?" Gabrielle hoped it had nothing to do with Akemi, 'cause she was weary of her. "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, who was quizzical. "This has nothing to do with Akemi?"
Xena briefly teetered. "No... Come to bed with me now."
Gabrielle caught the hesitation in the tone, and standing up, she accused, "You're lying, Xena! I'm certain you are. What, you want 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, keen instincts kicked in as she compendiously surveyed the room. Gabrielle's sais were embedded in the wall, and Xena derived that it was thrown from anger. The Warrior Princess had mistaken the blonde'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 taken its toll on the Amazon. Nonetheless, 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. "Were you planning on some other conjured lie?"
"What did you hear?"
"Enough to learn 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 depart the conversation between Harukata and I 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 it only a prelude to emptiness? Gabrielle shoved Xena away with great force, almost knocking her down.
"This is a game to you, isn't it?" Xena's puzzled expression fueled Gabrielle's agitation and tears welled up. "I'm a stupid fool, aren't I? I heard your declaration of Akemi's importance over me. Still, I was 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 Akemi was more important than you!" Xena shouted, wondering how things became so construed.
Gabrielle cleared the droplets off of her eyes in irritation and held back a sob.
"Just stop, okay. Just stop with the lies. I heard you, Xena. I remember your words well. You'd explained to Harukata 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 a mixture of sadness and animosity. "When Akemi calls, you avowed 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!" Gabrielle retorted 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. However, being so close to Greece, Gabrielle would beg for Xena to not go through with it and she'd relent in her duty.
On the other side; Xena could play off Gabrielle's ignorance and let her remain thinking she wanted Akemi. It was wrong by moral standards and it'd hurt Gabrielle, but it would shield the short-haired blonde from learning she'd lose a part of her soul also. All she had to do was get the Shogun, including his Samurai, to swear an oath not to inform her lover 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 queried, 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 remained quiet, causing Gabrielle to grab both her shoulders.
"Say something!" She yelled emphatically. "Tell me it's not what I think it is! Tell me I'm more imperative than her, and that our love is greater than all of this!"
'Forgive me, Gabrielle.' Xena ruminated, sheltering her true feelings and letting her stoic facade 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, whilst her fist pounded on Xena's chest. "You're lying! You don't mean that! You can't! You can't, Xena!"
"I do." Xena purported impassively. "Akemi's my real soul mate. I realize that now."
Gabrielle's knees buckled, making her fall to the floorboards, still crying as her arms enclosed Xena's boot.
"No! 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 softer. "We're to be married, Xena. It breaks my heart to watch you love others, because you are the only person I want. Look at the ring I gave 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 warrior professed.
"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 bard 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, rather than 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 disregard for me when sharing what I be telling you about my past with others, grates on my nerves."
"And you don't have flaws, Xena?" Gabrielle countered. "I'd mentioned of the concernment I had about my dream last night that left me uneasy. There weren't any inquisitions from you that showed you care. What of my scrolls I pour my all into? You take no interest in reading any further than the few you've already read. Also, sometimes it's seems you're not interested at all when I speak of how much I feel about us, but that doesn't change the veracity of the fact I'm in love with you, and you know it. Tell me you don't love me anymore."
Xena barred out Gabrielle's pronouncement. "What point will that serve. I'm going to Akemi. That's the end of it."
"If you honestly say you're no longer in love with me, I'll let you go, Xena." Gabrielle fabricated.
Still clutching the bard's wet face, Xena's sapphire irises locked on hers when she falsely elucidated, "I love you, Gabrielle. I told you that, but I'm not in love with you anymore. Guess I should tell you now, I can revive Akemi and be with the person I truly am in love with."
Instantly, Gabrielle jerked her distraught mien from Xena's grasp and slapped the Warrior Princess hard across hers, wanting so badly to erase the expressionless mask she remained wearing. Nonetheless, Xena 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 stopped and begun caressing 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 apprise, and you were right; I was hoping to get you in bed one last time."
Gabrielle was seeing red and went to strike again, but Xena quickly captured her wrist.
"I allowed you to hit me enough." She squeezed the tendons painfully, making Gabrielle hiss before pushing the Amazon to the floor.
Xena picked up the Sacred katana, rising to her full stature. Next, she hastily equipped her entire armor and weapons, as Gabrielle laid where she was pushed, holding her aching wrist, that nowhere near compared to the ache in her heart.
Splashing some water on her face, Xena was hardly able to keep up the performance. Inside, she'd bled for what she was doing and wanted to remit. Notwithstanding, the dark warrior knew she had to finish the deception.
Glancing over her shoulder at the prone blonde, Xena demanded, "Get up, Gabrielle. You look pathetic lying 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 were bound for a settling couple that would, sooner or later, find peace in their lives.
So she thought.
'It was all a dream.' Gabrielle cogitated 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 fretted 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 remaining here where you have put me. So please, just go and leave me be. 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 sorrowfully gazed at her. "I trusted you, Xena. You promised I could trust that you wouldn't hurt me. You're heartless. Go be with your 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, feeling dispirited from the analogy. "This is all my fault. You did warn me when I first tried to give you my heart. You'd 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, removing the gold circlet off of her index finger. "You'll be needing this for whenever you choose somebody for the proposition of marriage, 'cause it won't be me."
Watching Xena set the ring on the table, Gabrielle began wailing as the realization that she 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 lament was making Xena come undone.
Still, she didn't falter, figuring perhaps she could talk her into disembarking the ship now. "Gabrielle."
The bard did not answer, but her wails muffled some.
Xena walked towards her, coaxing Gabrielle's attention. "You don't have to journey to Japa with me. I can have Harukata steer the ship back to port. You can stay in Greece."
Gabrielle was hyperventilating, while she explicated, "You... Really want... To be rid of me... I could... Never... Never leave your... Side, Xe-"
"Don't you get it!" Xena became adamant, because 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 dejectedly. "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 proclaimed, bending to touch Gabrielle's arms.
"Go!" Gabrielle deplored Xena touching her, before announcing quietly, "I renounce you."
The young woman's predication pained Xena, but she didn't dwell on it. Giving up on trying to make Gabrielle return to Greece, Xena straightened and opened the cabin door to exit.
"Good-bye, Gabrielle." She bade 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 of the floor. She chose to ball up into a fetal posture to let 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. Alas, there was one other thing that needed to be taken care of in order to seal the plan she'd put in motion. Getting to her destination, she knocked on the door, then entered without waiting for an invitation. The only couple of occupants were an unmasked Shogun who was sitting and speaking to Koska whom had his helmet off as well.
Harukata's scathing stare fell on her. "By all means, Xena. Come in."
Xena ignored his sarcasm and Koska's glare, proceeding 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 decreed.
"Gabrielle San is staying?" He questioned. "I'd deduced you would be requesting we head back to Greece."
"Swear!" She bellowed.
"Who do you think you're talking to in that manner!" Koska rebuked, reaching for his blade.
Xena already held the Sacred katana in her hand and brought it inches from his throat. "Unsheathe your weapon, Samurai, and your head will be rolling before you used it."
Koska slowly raised his hands in surrender.
"Xena." The Shogun aimed for appeasement to dissipate the current situation. "You have my word that none of my warriors, including myself, will avouch to Gabrielle San what is to happen in Japa, anent to your death. Now, remove your katana from Koska."
Xena lowered the sword away from the sunfire armored man, bringing him relief, and offered Harukata her gratitude, "Thank you."
"You're welcome." The Shogun acceded. "But I do think it'll be best if you tell her the truth."
"Stick with what you know and so will I." Xena repudiated. "Gabrielle is relentless when it comes to getting her way with me lately. If she discovers I am to die, she'll coerce me into jumping overboard 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. There's no way your forces can prevail without me."
"True." Harukata acknowledged. "What of Gabrielle San? We aren't too far from Scione. Surely you want me to go back."
"She won't leave and I will not force her." Xena uttered. "I'll work out something to ensure her protection. In the meantime, 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 confirmed. "Also, to find out if they can follow commands."
"They handle themselves well." Harukata became, 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 put 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. No Samurai will listen to you."
"But reluctantly, they'll obey their Shogun if he order them to follow my commandments." Xena opined.
Harukata frowned, contemplating what Xena wanted.
That made her unwittingly become abrasive. "I train them and witness what they are capable of, or I walk."
"We don't require you training anybody." Koska reaffirmed. "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." The third-in-command Samurai retaliated. "You must die, so that the innocent people you've killed can be liberated."
Xena gripped the katana tightly. She was sure slaying Koska would cause Harukata to be highly pissed and nothing more. After everything she'd been through lately, what else could befall her; she was already doomed.
"That is it!" The Shogun exclaimed. "You are dismissed, Koska."
Starting to protest, Koska 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. Nevertheless, 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 as far as I want."
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 at noon. Consider this the concluding favor you'll get from me."
"Very well." Xena expressed, adding, "One other thing. I need another room. The cot isn't comfortable for me and Gabrielle... It's too small."
The Shogun glanced at her disapprovingly and conceded, "Kenji will set you up in a cabin of your own."
"That will be my last request, Harukata." The Warrior Princess' visage was smug. "For today."
To Be Continued
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