Spoiler: Friend In Need part I & II
A cool breeze swept across the bow of the swift sea vessel. Gabrielle sat on the sides watching the dolphins jumping and playing in the wake of the large ship. Her arms lay on her lap and her head tilted forward. She was tired. Hell was easier on her than the last forty-eight hours. But she smiled.
All along the way she struggled with the idea of life without Xena. Her heart held her soulmate, but her arms no longer did. And they hurt. Like they had never hurt before. A tear slipped down her cheek and she brushed it quickly away. She didn't want Xena to know her true heartbreak. The pain she had consumed her being. Gabrielle considered falling on the katana she had recovered. It was an honourable way to die. But that was a lie; she felt there was never honour in death. There was only theft. Theft of love, of sensation, and theft of peace. A memory is good, a spirit is enduring, but human touch…
Like a pat on the back, a massage to soothe aching muscles, a sweet gentle caress and a loving kiss. All these things she had shared with her soulmate, were memories. Nothing else, wonderful and bittersweet as they were, and that is all they would ever be.
How will she go on, how could she?
Xena's voice drew her attention and she looked up and closed her eyes. Just as in the encounter with Autolycus she appeared before Xena.
"Gabrielle, you're crying. Don't cry." Xena said with an incredible attempt at controlling her own emotion.
"I'm trying, Xena."
"I ache to hold you. To touch you again. My heart..." Pain clutched her throat and she could not speak. Tears slid down her face.
Xena wiped away the wetness and smiled sadly. "I'm sorry."
"No, Xena," Gabrielle choked out. "I don't want you to feel sorry."
"Gabrielle, I don't want you to hurt so. I wish this was easier."
"If I could join you Xena. We can reunite and we could truly be together again."
Xena's faced flashed hope and then anger. "Gabrielle! Don't!"
Gabrielle flinched away from Xena's reproach. She lowered her eyes and Xena cupped the bard's chin.
"I love you Xena. I need you."
"I'm here." Xena stroked Gabrielle's tear streaked face.
"But you're not."
Xena lifted Gabrielle's chin and their eyes met. She smiled a crooked grin and brushed the hair away from Gabrielle's green eyes. "You still have much to do. The world needs your love. You still have so much to offer."
"But Xena, I can't do it alone. How will I explain this to Eve? I don't understand it myself. Please."
"Gabrielle," Xena said sharply. "You must. This is hard, the hardest thing in life to endure, but you must do it. You can have a family. Your lifeline needs an heir. We'll meet again in the flesh. It's just, time. time for you, to go on, without me. Time for you to do what you must do in life. In time we will forever be together within the bonds of our soul and now I will still be in your heart but you must go on."
Gabrielle felt better, but her heart still thudded. "How?" She asked. "I can find no reason to want to go on. Not one."
Xena smiled and looked into the green eyes once again. "If I give you one reason will it help?"
Unsure, Gabrielle swallowed hard and slowly nodded.
"Where are you?" Xena asked.
"On a ship to Greece." The bard answered.
"A day." Gabrielle perplexed listened intently.
"Have you been sick?"
"No." Gabrielle's eyes opened and she looked out at the great expanse of the sea and cocked her head slightly. "No, I haven't been sick once." She smiled and shook her head. "I'll try Xena."
Xena's voice whispered, "You can do it."
No, it is the beginning of the new life for the Bard of Poteidaia.