by JS Stephens
Copyright 1998. All Rights Reserved
Comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Usual tedious disclaimer:
MCA/Universal owns the rights to the characters of Xena, Gabrielle and whoever else might cross over from their Xenaverse. Any other characters are my creation and merely interact with MCA/Universal's characters. There may or may not be relationships between two consenting women and/or a consenting woman and a consenting man.
Gabrielle had turned over the active management of the inn to her goddaughter Cyrene Ruth within a few months of Xena's death three years ago. Since then, she had kept busy re-copying scrolls and writing new ones, trying to document Xena's life as thoroughly as possible for future generations. It helped heal her heart to re-live their adventures, to laugh about the silly events and to cry over the tragic events. She had also visited the various members of Xena's extended family over the past year, as well as visiting her sister Lila and her family. Yet, in it all, she felt like she was merely marking time until she joined Xena in death, despite the fact that she was not very old yet, only fifty-five.
But life must go on, Gabrielle kept reminding herself. She had Xena buried with her full armor and sword, yet had kept the chakram, which Xena taught her to throw shortly before her death. She kept it on the floor beside her bed, ready to be snatched in a moment. She also kept her staff with her at all times, now more to help her walk than as a defensive weapon. When it rained, her ankle would become very painful to walk on, a leftover injury from the time she tried to do an aerial summersault without assistance. She smiled to herself, remembering how stubborn she was in not letting Xena look at it immediately.
Enough reminiscing, she told herself sternly. Time for breakfast, a thought that perked her up somewhat. After Xena died, Gabrielle had lost a great deal of weight, then finally regained some of her appetite and had gained back most of her weight. Besides, Little Cyrene, oops, make that Cyrene Ruth, ran an excellent kitchen, as evidenced by the smells wafting up the staircase. Yup, time for breakfast indeed. Gabrielle washed up and dressed, then made her way down to the dining room.
"Good morning, Gabrielle. We have a fine selection of fruits and breads for breakfast. What would you like?" Cyrene asked her godmother.
"Oh, just fix me a mixed selection, Cyrene. Thanks sweetheart." Gabrielle watched the tall young woman stride back to the kitchen. In the past few years, Cyrene had become an excellent manager and had added on to the inn again, proving that she was also an excellent carpenter as well. She also enjoyed playing aunt to her five year old nephew, Xeres, but had not shown any romantic interest in anyone, man or woman.
Sometimes Gabrielle wondered about her goddaughter, but didn't ask. Cyrene seemed to have her grandmother Diedra's temper combined with her father's gentleness, but one was never really sure which would predominate at any given time. Cyrene came back with a plate of apples, figs, grapes and wheat bread. "Thanks," Gabrielle said as she picked up an apple slice. "Won't you join me this morning?"
"Sure, why not?" Cyrene asked as she reached for a fig. "By the way, a woman come here late last night saying that she knew you. Her name is Kaydus and she is on her way to Athens for some type of festival or something. Who is she, Gabrielle?"
Gabrielle swallowed, then took a long drink of cider and wracking her brains before replying. "I'm not really sure, Cyrene. The name sounds familiar, but I don't remember meeting anyone by that name. What does she look like?"
Cyrene immediately answered, "Oh, about my height, short dark and silver hair, pale eyes, tanned skin, built somewhat like Xena was, but wears her clothes looser. I got the feeling that she had been a warrior, but she claimed to be only a poet. I guess she's around your age or so, I couldn't tell for sure."
Gabrielle searched her memory, but could not remember meeting anyone like the woman described. "Maybe I've heard other bards tell of her, but I don't remember meeting anyone like that."
"Oh, my heart is crushed, then." Both women turned to face the speaker, who broke into a shy smile. "Gabrielle, I met you and Xena on the road a long time ago, probably thirty some odd years ago."
Gabrielle looked intensely at the woman, then shook her head. "Sorry, I don't remember you, but Xena and I met many people on our travels and I've met many more since we settled down. Won't you join us for breakfast?"
Kaydus sat down. "Don't mind if I do. Oh, I did hear of Xena's death, Gabrielle. I know it's late, but please accept my condolences."
"Accepted. Cyrene, could you get our guest some breakfast?" Gabrielle prompted.
"Sure." Cyrene bounced up and hurried to the kitchen. Gabrielle watched her, wondering where the young woman's manners had gone to. She usually was had food and drink on the table before a guest could ask. Gabrielle turned back to Kaydus, asking, "So, when exactly did we meet?"
Kaydus stretched her long legs under the table, looking at the bard. Was Gabrielle just pretending to not remember, or had something happened? She had heard of the many adventures that Gabrielle and Xena had, so maybe she really couldn't remember. Anyone who had been bounced around by the gods so much...focus, Kaydus, she reminded herself. "I met you and Xena on the road. I remember you telling me about Xena at Troy, about the infamous Callisto, among other adventures. Actually, I don't think you and Xena were lovers yet."
Gabrielle looked at Kaydus for a long moment, then finally announced, "I still don't remember, but I did try to forget a few things and nearly lost my memory at a temple once. I have heard of you, now that I think about it, you studied with Sappho for a short time. What was she like?"
Cyrene brought back a plate and mug for Kaydus and nearly tripped sitting down on the bench next to Gabrielle. Gabrielle was puzzled over the usually graceful Cyrene, but dismissed it as she ate some figs. Kaydus was answering her question, saying, "Sappho writes beautiful poetry, and I was lucky to study under her for about a year. I had been a warrior for hire and poet, but after spending time on Lesbos, I decided to become a poet full time. I've done a lot of epic poems for different rulers, but some of it has been destroyed in various wars. Actually, I've been wanting to settle down somewhere, in some nice town. Amphipolis seems pretty nice and it is fairly close to Athens. Any work for a retired poet?"
Gabrielle smiled, pointing to the stage. "I usually perform several times a week, but I'd be glad to share the stage with you. But, you'd better talk to Cyrene here, she runs the inn and tavern. Xena and I made her our heir."
Kaydus turned to the young woman, asking, "Oh honored tavern owner, may I try out for the entertainment slot this week?"
Cyrene blushed, a very rare occurrence, and answered, "Sure, you can start at lunch today. I have a bunch of traders coming in for lunch and need someway to keep them entertained. Um, come by my office in a few hours and we'll draw up a preliminary contract. I'd better go back to the kitchen, the crew might need me. Bye." She jumped up, started to rush off, then came back, hugged Gabrielle briefly, then fled the room. Gabrielle and Kaydus watched her depart, then turned to each other.
"If I didn't know any better, I'd say that you have flustered Cyrene, Kaydus. I've never seen her act this way, even when her mother reprimanded her as a child," Gabrielle said, a hint of humor in her eyes.
Kaydus chuckled. "To be honest, Gabrielle, I've seen this happen before. Oh, I don't want to sound like I'm bragging, but I've had a lot of women fall for me."
Gabrielle looked at Kaydus for a long moment, then said lightly, "Well, if Cyrene is falling for you, fine. Just don't break her heart or you will have me and most of Amphipolis nailing your hide to the stable wall next to Argo the Third. Now, if you will excuse me, I need to go the the market." Gabrielle left the table.
Kaydus finished her breakfast, thinking about the time she had met and tried to seduce Gabrielle. Had Gabrielle really forgotten? She was still a vitally attractive woman, but Kaydus sensed a "Do not disturb" sign on her heart. But Cyrene...Kaydus scratched her chin thoughtfully. She had made it a rule not to get involved with women much younger than herself after getting kicked out of a school in Crete for seducing a student nearly twenty-seven years ago. Cyrene seemed to be older than her years in some ways, but was refreshingly innocent in other ways...Kaydus, she scolded herself, don't even go there.
Somewhere, Kaydus had picked up the habit of singing her poems. She remembered to recite them at lunch, but for the after dinner crowd, she started thinking about lost loves and sang without thinking:
"trail of broken hearts
looking back at you
now and from the start
broken trail so long
a long and tired past
an emptiness has gone...
As Kaydus sang in a low, mellow voice, Cyrene sat spellbound. Gabrielle watched her goddaughter, not sure whether or not she approved of the growing infatuation. True, she and Xena had been ten years apart in age, but these two had to be closer to thirty years apart. She couldn't even consult with Diana and Joxer, they had gone to visit Rebecka, Saul and Xeres in Corinth. Should she say anything?
She had already warned Kaydus not to trifle with Cyrene, she supposed that she should say something to Cyrene. But, then again, Lila had tried to talk Gabrielle into staying home when she visited her family soon after hitting the road with Xena. It took many years to mend that rift, she resented some of the things her family had said about Xena. Maybe she should let well enough alone.
Kaydus finished singing and came to the table where Cyrene and Gabrielle sat. "So, Cyrene, do I have a shot at the job? Gabrielle, would you be willing to let me recite some nights?"
Cyrene said enthusiastically, "Yes! You were terrific, Kaydus. Wasn't she, Gabrielle?"
"Sure. Better draw up that contract, Cyrene. If you two will excuse me, I'm rather tired and want to go take a nap now." Gabrielle kissed Cyrene on the cheek, nodded to Kaydus, then ascended the stairs.
"What's with her?" Kaydus asked Cyrene.
"I'm not sure, Kaydus. Gabrielle is usually really nice, but she does seem, well, maybe distant. Maybe she doesn't feel good or something." Cyrene mused. "Hey, there's a full moon out tonight, would you like to walk along the river with me? It's really pretty."
Kaydus hesitated. She remembered all too clearly leading Gabrielle out on a similar walk many years ago, convinced that Gabrielle had feelings for her. She also remembered Xena's defense of the other woman and the resounding slap she had received. Cyrene was a beautiful woman and looked like she could take care of an army by herself, but Kaydus felt like she was taking advantage of the situation. Why couldn't Gabrielle be attracted to her again? At least she and Gabrielle were roughly the same age. But, if they walked in the town limits, surely there would be other couples strolling in the moonlight. "Yes, I'll go with you," she finally agreed.
Cyrene led the way that night, chattering about running the inn, corralling drunkards, Xena's leading the militia, and Xena's funeral. "Gods, I thought we would lose Gabrielle as well. She's come around well, but I swear sometimes that she'll be much happier when she can join Xena in the Elysian Fields. I don't know why I am telling you all this, Kaydus, but you seem so, well, attentive." Cyrene stopped by a fallen log and sat down, motioning for Kaydus to join her. "Your poems tonight reminded me of tales of love I've heard from Gabrielle. I've also heard my mother talk about her mothers, Diedra and Rebecka, and how they faced many odds. At least they didn't have gods and goddesses trying to tear them apart like Xena and Gabrielle had."
Kaydus thought, Maybe that's it. Gabrielle and Xena fell in love after I tried to seduce Gabrielle, but some god or goddess wiped it from their memories. Sounds like what some would do. She cleared her throat and asked, "Who tried to break them up?"
"Oh, I think that Ares did, Aphrodite did, and others. I think Dad had a crush on Gabrielle for a while, but he met Mom soon after and fell in love for her. Do you think that everyone has a soul mate, Kaydus?" Cyrene asked, waiting anxiously for the answer.
The poet thought, then asked, "You mean like a force that pulls souls together, a constant craving, someone who will save you? I don't know, Cyrene. To be perfectly honest, I've had affairs with a lot of women, but never one who touched my heart."
Cyrene looked at her for a long moment, then asked softly, "Then who broke your heart?"
Kaydus looked at the young woman for a long moment, drawn to those blue eyes, wanting to run her hands through the dark auburn hair, to touch the creamy skin. She struggled to master her desires and answered, "A woman many years ago, child. I doubt that she even remembers me."
Cyrene looked at her, adding up the evidence. "Was it Gabrielle?"
"What makes you think that?" Kaydus asked, startled by the girl's perception.
"Well, I've seen the way you look at her when she's not looking at you. You tried to get her to remember you, but something prevented her from remembering you, or you never impressed her." Cyrene sighed. "I know the feeling."
Kaydus tentatively touched the young woman on the shoulder. "I'm sorry, Cyrene. Yes, I was attracted to Gabrielle, it's true. She obviously doesn't remember it."
The younger woman half turned toward the older woman, placing a tentative hand on Kaydus' cheek, tracing her cheekbones. Kaydus turned slightly, covering Cyrene's hand with her own. "My dear," she said in a strained voice, "don't start what you can't finish. You are too young for me..."
Cyrene dropped her hand angrily. She stood up, glaring at the older woman, sputtering, "What does age have to do with anything? Here I try to tell you how I feel and you try to make me feel like a baby. You can continue to entertain, you've signed the contract for a year. Good-bye." She strode off, a magnificent figure in the moonlight.
Kaydus shook her head, wondering how she got into these situations. Normally, she would take advantage of the situation, get her kicks, then move quietly out of town. Maybe there was more to this attraction than met the eye, she thought. She lifted her head, staring at the moon, whispering, "What should I do?"
Gabrielle listened in horror as Ephiny told her about the war that had broken out between several cities near the Amazon Nation headquarters. The Amazon queen concluded, "I'm sure that Ares is behind this. Somehow, Amazons keep getting pulled into political squabbles, and I'm not sure I like it. Times are changing, Gabrielle. The Amazons have lost strength lately, many of my best warriors have been killed in ambushes. Ares was pretty mad last year when we defeated a warlord he had hand picked to be his representative. I know that you aren't a strategist, but maybe you can at least come back and tell some of your stirring tales about how you and Xena overcame various warlords. I'm nearly out of ideas and my successor was killed in battle last month."
Gabrielle stood up and walked to the window of her office, looking out to the peaceful village square. She didn't want to get involved in war, but Xena would have jumped at the chance, asking questions later. She owned it to the memory of her beloved to at least try to help. "I'll come with you, Ephiny. I'm not really needed here anyway. Cyrene is running the inn and tavern, Kaydus has been hired to provide entertainment, I've written down all the tales I can think of and sent them to Athens. I've visited relatives. Nothing is holding me here."
Ephiny smiled. "I knew I could count on you," she said. "Besides, some of the younger warriors would like to meet the famous former queen of the Amazons."
Gabrielle laughed. "You mean that they want to meet the widow of the famous Xena, Warrior Princess."
"Whatever." Ephiny stood up and walked over to Gabrielle. "Thanks, Gabrielle. Can we start in the morning?"
"Sure." Gabrielle looked at her old friend for a moment, thinking of past battles. She smiled and reached out to hug Ephiny. After a moment, she let go and said, "I'd better get packed. I'm sure that Cyrene, like her namesake, will provide more food than we can eat for our journey."
Ephiny snorted. "More than you can eat? I'm not sure that my horse can carry that much food."
Gabrielle just grinned and shooed the Amazon queen out of her office.
The next morning, Cyrene watched as Gabrielle finished packing her bags. "I don't understand why you have to go," she grumbled.
Gabrielle tied her bags and sat down on her bed, motioning for the younger woman to sit beside her. Cyrene sat and Gabrielle wrapped her arms around her goddaughter. "Cyrene, the Amazons need me. You've been running this place practically by yourself since Xena died. You have an entertainer who is bringing in business, your parents are still supplying standard and exotic foods for the dining room. You don't need me any more. I'm getting restless anyway and need to travel."
She hugged Cyrene, adding, "I also sometimes get very depressed still. I keep thinking I will see Xena coming around the corner, or pull me out of bed in the mornings. Maybe I just want to get away from my memories here." She pulled back and looked Cyrene in the eye. "Maybe, too, I don't want any more responsibility since you have taken over so well. If something happens, remember that you inherit the whole place."
Cyrene hugged Gabrielle back fiercely, then stood up abruptly. "Don't talk like that, it's as if you weren't coming back," she pleaded, a tendril of foreboding crawling up her spine.
Gabrielle shrugged as Cyrene reluctantly helped pick up her bags. Gabrielle paused a moment, then picked up Xena's chakram and tied it to a loop on her belt, then grabbed her staff. "Let's go," she said.
Cyrene led the way to the common yard, where Argo the Third was waiting patiently. The gelding was calm enough for Gabrielle to ride him willingly. Cyrene tied the bags on, then helped Gabrielle mount up. She watched as Gabrielle clapped her heels to the sides of the horse, taking off at a fast trot. She watched until Gabrielle was obscured from sight, then turned back to the inn, feeling empty and lost. True, her parents would be back from visiting her sister tomorrow, but that didn't help today. Besides, she had a strong feeling that she would never see Gabrielle again.
Ephiny watched as Gabrielle held her warriors spellbound by her tales of Xena. She was glad that Gabrielle came and that she was much better than she had been three years ago. Ephiny didn't dwell on it, but she still remembered how utterly withdrawn Gabrielle had been before the funeral. It was awful, but Gabrielle seemed better now. She came out of her reverie as Gabrielle wound up her last tale and bowed as the young women applauded.
"Stirring as usual," Ephiny commented as Gabrielle sat down at the table.
"Thanks. It seems strange to be back here, I don't think I've visited in ten years or so. No, longer, wasn't it when we rescued Rebecka?" Gabrielle asked.
Ephiny thought back and answered, "I think so, it sounds about right. That reminds me, I saw Rebecka and Saul recently. Little Xeres is growing like crazy, takes after Joxer in looks, such dark hair and pale skin. How's Little Cyrene?"
Gabrielle smiled. "First, she's not little, you saw her. About as tall as Xena was, or as tall as her parents are." The smile faded as she thought about recent events. "Ephiny, do you know anything about a former warrior named Kaydus? Fairly tall, darkish hair, pale blue=gray eyes, somewhat flat cheeks, studied for a spell on Lesbos with Sappho?"
Ephiny scratched her head, thinking. "I've heard some. She has quite a reputation as a heart breaker, some of my warriors have tangled with her. But I haven't heard of her being with anyone for the past few years either. Why do you want to know?"
"Because I think that she and Cyrene are falling in love. I'm not sure I approve of such a great age difference, especially since Cyrene has never fell for anyone before," Gabrielle explained.
Ephiny groaned. "Gods and goddesses, Gabrielle, what a woman to fall for! I'll be curious how this turns out, but it might be Kaydus who has her heart broken this time. Come to think of it, one of my warriors said once that Kaydus supposedly had fallen in love with you and you broke her heart."
"Me?" the bard squeaked.
"Yes. I'm not sure how the rumor started." Ephiny started to say something else but was interrupted by a scout rushing up to their table. "Pardon, my queen, but we have an army trying to overrun the village."
Ephiny sighed. "Okay, sound the general alarm. Gabrielle, care to join the fight?"
Gabrielle grabbed her staff. "Sure, let me at them."
Spears and arrows whizzed through the air, catching Amazon bodies and slamming them to the ground. Gabrielle stared in horror at the enemy: The Horde. She also thought she saw Ares in the back, urging them on. "Ephiny, that's the Horde. Xena and I ran across them many years ago, they are brutal." She swallowed hard, remembering one of the few enemies that caused Xena to temporarily revert back to being a pure warrior and absolute terror. "I think I also see Ares back there."
Ephiny shaded her eyes and looked where Gabrielle was pointing. "It looks like him. I guess there was too much peace for him, so he stirred the pot. We'll give him a fight, don't worry." She moved away, giving orders to her troops as Gabrielle stared at the masses of brutal men surging toward the Amazon lines.
The battle seesawed all day, neither side able to push the other decisively. Finally, Gabrielle decided to try something. She conferred with Ephiny and her lieutenants and was granted a small force and permission to implement her plan.
Ares was bellowing at the leader of the Horde. "A bunch of women! You can't defeat a bunch of women! Too damn much soft living around here, not enough strife. I sure miss Xena, she could always give me a run for my money."
"I miss her too, but I don't start wars." Ares whirled around to face Gabrielle, mouth hanging open in surprise. "Yes, it's the 'irritating little blond', " she growled, "and I intend to nail your butt."
Ares laughed and mockingly bowed to the bard. "My dear Gabrielle, what a pleasure! I had hoped that your tales of Xena's deeds would stir some pockets of battle, but you told them too well, people have avoided her mistakes." The God of War draped an arm around Gabrielle's shoulders.
Gabrielle spun around, pulling away from Ares. "How dare you. No wonder you asked me to keep Xena's memory fresh, you wanted to use it for your own means!"
The God of War laughed unrepentantly. "Guilty as charged. Although I meant it sincerely at first, and I do miss Xena. Lord Hades still won't let me see her, says that I can't ever go to the Elysian Fields. Ah, she was such a worthy opponent, someone to really challenge me." He strode back toward a cave, beckoning for Gabrielle to follow him. "You see, even the God of War needs a challenge. I could never subdue her, never seduce her, so I've started a little war in her memory. But, the Amazons are just too good at helping keep the peace, so I intend to wipe them out, using my friendly little Horde."
Gabrielle stared at him, wondering if he had gone mad. "You intend to wipe out the Amazons?"
"Times are changing, Gabrielle. I think I'll try resurrecting your little daughter Hope next and loosing her on this miserable world." He laughed, then added, "Perhaps I should bring back Callisto and Velesca while I'm at it. Without Xena, with Hercules in semi-retirement, no one can stop me and the world will be full of war, glorious war!"
"No," Gabrielle said firmly.
"What, dear?" Ares mockingly cupped a hand to his ear, grinning at the bard.
"NO!" Gabrielle shouted. Without thinking, she whipped out Xena's chakram and let it fly with all of her might. The circle of death zinged off several cave walls, triggering an avalanche, walling Ares off from the front of the cave. The chakram broke in half, part of it lodged in the rubble, the other part lying on the floor. Gabrielle picked it up, then flung it into the next room and ran out of the cave, right into the thick of battle. She remembered her staff and started swinging wildly, knocking men out of her way, fighting her way back to the front lines.
Ephiny saw the puff of dirt flying out of the cave and started running, fearing that Gabrielle had been trapped. "Gabrielle!" she screamed as she ran. Gabrielle turned toward the voice and didn't see the arrow flying toward her, slamming into her side...
Several days later, the Horde had been beaten back. Ephiny had killed the leader herself, and the rest just melted away. Gabrielle had lost a lot of blood and the best healers were called upon to save her. Even though they managed to extract the arrow, they were doubtful that she would live long. Ephiny sat by Gabrielle's bed, scarcely taking any breaks. Finally, Gabrielle roused for a few minutes, requesting to be taken home to Amphipolis. Ephiny argued, saying that the journey would surely kill her. In the end, though, she agreed and arranged for an honor guard to transport Gabrielle back home.
News traveled ahead of the contingent. Xena's son Solon and his family had arrived, as had Rebecka and her family. Lila had arrived as well and spent several hours with her dying sister. Joxer and Diana also managed to get back before Gabrielle's death.
Gabrielle spent her last days in hers and Xena's room, surrounded by family. Kaydus found herself helping Cyrene run the inn, mostly by playing bartender and bouncer, as well as her usual daily entertainment routines. Cyrene was devastated, Gabrielle had been her mentor and beloved godmother, as dear to her as her own parents. She, Lila, and Ephiny sat by Gabrielle's bed most of the time, waiting for the inevitable end.
It occurred one clear morning. Lila was sponging her sister's forehead when Gabrielle woke up for the first time in two days. "Lila," she croaked, "what are you doing here?"
Lila replied, "I'm tending you, sister. You have been mortally wounded."
Gabrielle let her gaze wander around the room, taking in the sight of her sister, her regent and her goddaughter. "Oh." She slowly remembered the last battle. "Has anyone seen Ares?"
Ephiny stirred from her seat. "No. We defeated the Horde, Gabrielle. Some say that Strife is so angry that his uncle is missing that he is trying to be the God of War. The oracles are saying that Ares has disappeared and that Olympus is full of gods pointing their fingers at each other."
Gabrielle smiled briefly. "It was Xena's chakram. I think that it was blessed or something. She never said, but I think La Mao gave it to her." Suddenly she sat up, staring at the fireplace. "Xena! Wait for me! I'm coming, dear!" Her body fell back, the life gone from it. The three women looked at each other, then Lila reached over and gently closed her sister's eyes.
Gabrielle's funeral was even larger than Xena's had been. The Amazons wanted to give her body to the traditional pyre, but Diana and Joxer overruled them, saying that she should be buried in the cave with Xena and her family. Lila agreed, saying that she would not take her sister's body back to Potedaia since her home had been in Amphipolis for so long. Many people spoke at the funeral, including Ephiny, Diana, Joxer and Lila. Dorcas, the Amazon priestess, presided, saying that it was probably her last funeral.
After the funeral, friends and family gathered back at the inn, eating and remembering. Stories were told of the bard, tears shed, toasts proposed. After several hours, Kaydus noticed that Cyrene had disappeared. She asked several workers if they had seen Cyrene, but received negative responses. Worried, Kaydus started searching for Cyrene, finally leaving the inn and going toward the river.
Kaydus found Cyrene sitting on the same log that they had sat on when they walked along the river several months ago. "Cyrene?" she said softly. She sat next to the other woman, not sure how to proceed.
"Kaydus." Cyrene gulped back tears, rubbing her face fiercely. "I just came out here to think, to get away from the crowd." She stared out at the water, then asked, "Do you think they are together? Just before she died, Gabrielle called to Xena to wait for her. Do you think she saw Xena?" She turned to Kaydus, searching her face for an answer.
"Well, anything is possible, but with those two?" Kaydus reached over to brush a tear off Cyrene's cheek. "I am convinced that Xena came back for Gabrielle, just as she did in life so many times." She thought back briefly to the time she had tangled with Xena, how possessive Xena was of Gabrielle. "Yes, I know that Xena came back for her, it was Gabrielle's time."
Cyrene leaned her head against Kaydus' shoulder, shuddering with the effort to hold back her grief. "Hey," said Kaydus softly, lifting Cyrene's chin, "it's okay to cry. You miss her, Gabrielle was your mentor. I can understand, I miss her too."
Cyrene asked plaintively, "Will I ever find a love like theirs?"
Kaydus gently stroked Cyrene's face, saying, "I don't know, Cyrene. As as poet, I would say that a love like theirs comes once in a generation, a love to burn brightly through the ages. If I could find just half of their love, I'd be richly blessed." A surge of tenderness went through Kaydus. She had to admit to herself that she was in love with Cyrene, not just attracted, not just desiring the young woman. She cautiously reached up with her other hand and ran trembling fingers through the deep auburn hair, feeling the thickness, the silky texture, wondering what it would be like to rain kisses on that hair.
"Kaydus?" Cyrene spoke softly.
"Yes?"the poet replied.
Cyrene scooted closer and cupped Kaydus' face in her hands. "I'm not a poet, but you've been so kind to me these past few days. I don't know how I could have survived Gabrielle's death without your support."
Kaydus felt disappointed. She was sure that Cyrene was about to proclaim her love. Swallowing, she answered, "It was my pleasure to help you."
Cyrene leaned forward, whispering, "Some say that you are a heart breaker, but I can't see that. Unless, of course, you've changed, some say that love does that to a person." She leaned even closer. "I'm trying to say, don't break my heart." She closed the gap and touched her lips to Kaydus' lips for the first time.
Diana stared at her younger daughter. "You what?" she bellowed.
Cyrene held her ground and Kaydus' hand. "I want to marry Kaydus. We have fallen in love."
Diana looked over at her husband, then back to her daughter. "But the age difference..."
Kaydus spoke up. "True, but I've been around and I've never been so captivated by any woman before. I've never wanted to settle down, never wanted to form a commitment. Cyrene has been teaching me about running an inn and tavern. I admit I'm a better bartender and bard than manager, but I'll do what I have to for Cyrene."
Joxer finally spoke up. "Cyrene, do you love her with your entire soul?"
"Yes, Dad," she answered firmly, proudly.
He sighed, then turned to his beloved wife. "Diana, I had a reputation as a loser and clown be when you fell in love with me. Give them a chance, like you gave me."
Diana threw up her hands. "Okay, I'm outnumbered. I agree under one condition."
"What?" Kaydus and Cyrene said in unison.
"That I get to cater the wedding." Diana crossed her arms, repressing a small grin.
Several months later, they were married. The wedding was the event of the year, with a huge turnout and a lavish party afterwards. Cyrene had remodeled one of the older rooms, the one that belonged to her namesake, as their quarters. When the lasts guests either left or staggered up to a room, Kaydus and Cyrene finally went to their room for the first time.
"Here we are at last," Kaydus said as she flopped on the bed, reaching for her wife.
Cyrene jumped on the bed with her, covering Kaydus' face with kisses. She suddenly stopped and sat up. "Kaydus?"
Cyrene blushed becomingly and confessed, "I'm a virgin. I don't know what to do."
Kaydus reached up and traced Cyrene's breasts for the first time, then slowly started unlacing her top. "Oh, you'll figure it out," she chuckled as she pulled the younger woman on top of her. "Besides, in a way I'm a virgin too."
"Why?" Cyrene asked.
"Because," Kaydus said very seriously, "I'm about to make love to the woman I love for the first time. I've never made love to anyone I love before, so therefore, I'm a virgin too. Now, shall we see about discarding our virginity?" she asked.
"Yes, beloved." Cyrene answered shyly. She bent down to kiss her wife again, tentatively, then with increasing desire. Kaydus was right, she was figuring it out, she thought as she unlaced her wife's top and started licking her nipples for the first time.
And in the Elysian Fields, Xena and Gabrielle looked on with approval.
The End. Yes, truly the end of my Xena/Gabrielle saga.
Return to the Academy