A Journey of Love & Life
They arrived in the outskirts of Amphipolis a few days later than they had expected, and it had been a long and worrying journey for Gabrielle.
It had begun on the first day they as they headed out from their camping site, early in the still grey mist of pre dawn. Xena had wanted to get an early start and try and make it to Amphipolis in a few days. Gabrielle was not sure that would be possible, they still hadn't gotten too far from Caleb's house where they'd left Eli, and she was pretty sure it was more than a few days ride to Amphipolis, she'd been thinking that when she'd seen a look of tiredness pass over Xena's beautiful face. She knew they had both been through an emotional and physical roller coaster in the last few months, so much had happened, so much had been discovered, but she had been unprepared for seeing it effect Xena so physically, so she had quietly suggested that they stop for awhile and rest, had made some lame excuse about not being used to horses again.
Again she had been unprepared for the grateful look she'd caught on Xena's face before she covered it up with a teasing remark about her need for naps when they were travelling. She had really looked at Xena then, knowing Xena wasn't aware of her watching her, she was busy trying to start a fire, and had seen the circles under her eyes, the look of plain exhaustion, unhidden on her strong warrior's face and it had worried her immensely. Xena rarely got sick, nor was she prone to letting her emotions drain her physically. She didn't know whether to talk to Xena about it, ask her about her tiredness, and wondered if there was more to it, she had been different since they had come back from the brink of hell, and she realised she needed to tell Xena soon, this fighting their love had to stop or it was going to finish them, but now wasn't the time for that, Xena needed to be at her best so they could get this war over with and move on, so instead she made a promise to herself to make Xena rest more on this journey, hoping to appeal to the warrior's common sense, so that she would be at her best when they rode into Amphipolis.
She had started insisting on them stopping to rest every few hours or so, even if for only a few moments especially when Xena had begun falling asleep on Argo, and it had been a strange few days, with Gabrielle's role changing to become the one alert to attacks and she knew that would be bothering her usually strong warrior, she only hoped they would not run into trouble on the way to Amphipolis. And thankfully they hadn't, they'd made it to Amphipolis without busting any heads this time.
"So Xena feeling up to a counsel of war? Gabrielle asked jokingly and was very worried to see that Xena was anything but, she was half asleep from the looks of things and struggling to stay awake.
"I- yeah I'm fine, at least I'll feel a bit better when I've seen mother" Xena admitted not wanting Gabrielle to have any idea just how not ready she was for this, this tiredness was unnerving, she had never been this tired before and she was starting to worry that she had caught a bug on the way here, she just couldn't shake it, and it was only getting worse, she was hoping they had gotten a better healer than the last one they had when she'd been here last, maybe Athena would know what it was, since she was the goddess of healing too.
"Hey earth to Xena, where did you go just then? You have been worrying me you know, what with this tiredness you seem to be getting all the time, are you feeling sick or something?" Gabrielle asked glad she'd finally gotten that out, over the last few days she'd felt a bit of a role reversal between them and it had been strange yet a little satisfying, to be able to take care of Xena, something she got to do so rarely that she almost relished the way she felt when she did.
"Sorry, I don't know what's been up with me lately, all I know is that I can be fine for a while and then out of the blue, I feel like I haven't slept in weeks and it's all I can do to stop myself from falling asleep, I think after we've checked things out and got the ball rolling, I'll go and see a healer, find out what this thing is so I can get back to peak for this war" Xena remarked, seeing the naked worry in Gabrielle's eyes, knowing she felt the same way, she didn't know what this was and it was scaring her to have a vulnerability like this when they were walking into a war.
"It'll be ok Xena, I'm sure whatever it is you'll beat it, you'll just have to let me take care of you a little, so you can keep the whole warlord act up huh?" Gabrielle asked wanting to wipe the look of fear and worry from Xena's face. The fact that this scared Xena only made her worry more, but she was glad she hadn't had to push Xena into seeing a healer.
They had reached the front of Xena's mother's inn by the time they finished their conversation, and had seen the 40 or so tents set up not far from the town out near the forest. Xena knew the men in those tents would be at her command and couldn't stop the feeling of excitement from flooding her, her warlord days were firmly behind her, but there were parts of commanding an army she missed, she missed using her intelligence to outwit her opponents and the feeling of being in command, of knowing that every man she commanded knew what she was capable of and respected her for it.
That little bubble of excitement pushed away some of the foggy tiredness that had settled over her for a while, but knew it still wouldn't be long before her body was demanding sleep again.
She had been so deep in thought she hadn't heard the group of men approaching them as they got down from Argo, and when she did, she turned and saw it was obviously the General of Athena's army and his guards.
"Xena, glad you made it here safely, hello Gabrielle, it's a pleasure to meet you both, Athena has left instructions that after a few hours sleep she would like a meeting with you both, she has instructed me to tell you to meet her in a childhood place you used to visit Xena, she said you would know where, but she insisted that you should rest first, she will send one of my men, when you should come" The General informed Xena noting that both of them did look in need of rest, he had been curious as to why his Goddess had insisted on them resting when they arrived, and had thought they would have arrived here a few days earlier than this but it seemed his Goddess wasn't surprised in fact she had seemed pleased that Xena hadn't rode here at break neck speed.
"Thankyou ah, you didn't mention your name" Xena replied feeling the tiredness creep through again and knew in a few minutes she would be showing that tiredness whether she wanted to or not, she felt slightly dizzy from the tiredness and grasped Argo's saddle to steady herself.
"Forgive me my rudeness in not introducing myself, I am General Adobe of Athens, at your command, well my Goddess awaits, she asked that I report to her as soon as you had arrived safely and were settled in" General Adobe informed them and saluted to Xena, then they left them standing, Gabrielle secretly wondering what was going on, did Athena know what was wrong with Xena, she probably did, why would she have insisted on them resting before meeting her if she didn't know, she only hoped that this wasn't going to be another of those times when they got used by a God wanting something and knowing they were the best way to get it. If Athena knew Xena wasn't at her best then why would she insist on Xena taking command of her troops, the salute by General Adobe hadn't gone unnoticed and she wondered what Xena was thinking and turned to ask her just catching Xena slumping to the floor unconscious.
"Gods Xena, Cyrene!" Gabrielle yelled at the top of her lungs, her worry for her soul mate deepening, Xena had never in the time they had been travelling together fainted, and that spelled trouble in her books.
"Gabrielle? By the gods what happened?" Cyrene asked as she came running out of the tavern having heard Gabrielle's anguished cry, to find Xena out cold in Gabrielle's arms. One look at her daughter and she knew something was very wrong, fainting was something her Xena just didn't do.
"Help me get her to the healer, we just got a new one she is really good, she'll know what's wrong immediately" Cyrene reassured Gabrielle seeing the frantic worry on Gabrielle's face, and almost smiled seeing the love the bard clearly felt for her daughter and wondered when were they ever going to admit to that love, she knew Xena and Gabrielle told each other that they loved each other, but she hoped they would admit the true depths of their love for each other soon.
So they somehow managed to get Xena to the healer, thankfully by that time she had woken albeit groggily and had managed to speak to her startled partner and mother, although she was still feeling really foggy and all she wanted to do was sleep for at least a good two hours or more, but knowing her mother and Gabrielle, the way she did, she knew they would need assurances that she was okay before she would be allowed to do that. She couldn't believe she had fainted, she had never done that before and was worried about what the healer would have to tell her.
"Okay Xena, how have you really been feeling, none of that I'm a tough ex-warlord I don't get sick crap okay, it wont wash with me, so from the top" the healer who had introduced herself as Ryane told Xena firmly, knowing how her type were like. never wanting to admit to a vulnerability even though it was clear as day on their faces.
"Well I've been getting these waves of tiredness for the past week, one moment I'm fine next moment I feel like I could sleep for weeks, I've been falling asleep on my horse, even rode her into a tree, lucky Gabrielle was awake enough to save us from that fate, and up until today that's been my only noticeable symptom" Xena replied truthfully wanting to dispel that myth about warlords and warriors, in her line of work making sure Gabrielle knew when she was compromised was very important, and no amount of pride was going to make her put Gabrielle in danger.
"Okay so from that I cant say with any certainty what's wrong so lets so we'll probably have to wait a few days till more symptoms come out, this could be a bad illness or it could just be a fleeting thing, I can't tell you which, so why don't you pee in that cup, I have some herbs that we can use to put in it and I might be able to get an answer to what's ailing the warrior princess" Ryane told Xena giving her a clean cup to pee in and watched the warrior walk off obviously still shaky and frowned worriedly, she knew of only one thing that would make a woman like that faint and from the looks the blonde one was giving her, someone was not going to be too pleased to find out the truth of Xena's illness. She watched silently as Xena walked back in a few moments later and decided from the look of this woman that if she kept her awake any longer she would fall down where she stood, she could see the control it was taking to stop Xena from doing just that, oh boy was she ever in for a bad time she thought worriedly knowing Xena 's purpose for her visit to Amphipolis.
"Why don't you get some rest and try to sleep for at least 2 or 3 hours, fainting can really take it out of you, I'll let you know if I get anything from this" she suggested taking pity on the worn out looking warrior, almost certain in her diagnosis now, and knew that feeling the way Xena did right now there was no way she was going to be able to take the news without fainting again. She watched with a small smile on her face, she had no idea how welcome or unwelcome this news was but one thing was for sure, it was going to make her job real interesting. She did, however hope that Xena and Gabrielle worked things out, they looked too good together, even if they didn't know that they were both in love with each other. She stifled a chuckle as Gabrielle and Xena's mother helped Xena back to the tavern, knowing it would not be an easy few days for Xena, in fact the next few weeks, maybe months were going to be a nightmare for her.
"Xena, you can stay in the same room as usual, with your illness its probably best if Gabrielle stays in the same room as you, do you think you can make it up the stairs okay?" Cyrene asked worriedly, she knew how rare it was for her daughter to be sick, but to be sick when the fate of her home village and Gabrielle's village was in her hands was even worse.
"I'll be okay, soon as I get some sleep, I'll be fine, sorry I worried you both, I've never done that before, not even when I was pregnant with Solan" Xena replied hoping that her mother would be reassured and she could get up stairs to sleep. Now why did I mention that? It had just come out, she still missed her son every day and still thought she should have been able to save him even him being gone so long, she knew now that she had been powerless to save her son, she had never seen it coming, had never realised just how much Gabrielle had believed in Hope's innocence as that moment, and even when she realised that Gabrielle had inadvertently caused Solan's death, she still couldn't blame Gabrielle for that even though she had once told Gabrielle that it was her fault, she knew it was her guilt that had caused those accusations to come from her mouth. She looked over at Gabrielle smiling as she tucked her into the bed knowing nothing would ever make her hate this beautiful, unselfish woman and she would spend her life trying to make this beautiful woman happy. If she hadn't been so tired and had not seen Gabrielle giving her disapproving looks that she was still awake she would have told her then and there that she was in love with her, she sighed feeling sleep claim her knowing she could battle it no more.
Gabrielle smiled as her warrior's face turned peaceful with sleep, she still felt worry over Xena's illness, and she felt this overwhelming urge to get Xena out of here so she didn't have to deal with this. She wanted to tell Athena to go find someone else to fight her wars, but was reminded that Athena was actually here to help them, that it was their war and Athena had come to help, she wasn't sure what the price was going to be, but she knew right now that Xena was anything but ready for a fight, and part of her knew this was not your regular run of the mill illness, this illness had made Xena faint, something even pregnancy hadn't been able to, and she just wanted to get it over with, to find out what was wrong so they could begin fighting this, begin treating it. She was not going to lose Xena to this war she refused to. So she lay down next to Xena, gently stoking her hair knowing she would have to talk to Xena and soon, she didn't want to distract Xena from this battle, their lives depended on that, but Xena deserved to know how she felt, keeping her feelings from Xena weren't right and she wanted to give Xena as much joy as she could in this life and in all of their lives, knowing that their love would survive for ever.
She thought of what Xena had said when she had been a demon, some of the most beautiful words had come out of Xena's mouth, she hadn't been sure if they had been a trick to get her to join her in hell, but when they had come back Xena had told her that she'd meant it. Gabrielle the love we share its stronger than heaven or hell its an end in itself, she shivered remembering the words, remembering Xena repeating those exact words to her after they had come back, trying to prove to Gabrielle that she had indeed meant them, even then she was trying to tell me that she was in love with me and I couldn't see the message she thought chiding herself for not seeing the open look of love displayed clearly on Xena's face.
"Oh Xena, please let this be a fight we can get out of" Gabrielle whispered, and smiled when in her sleep, Xena turned and curled her arms around Gabrielle's waist affectively pinning her to the bed, and Gabrielle, felt sleep beckon her as it always did when Xena was this close to her, she always felt so safe in those strong arms, it was something that had never changed, no matter how much hurt they unknowingly caused each other. She gave in finally to sleep dreaming of love and safety.
Xena awoke to the feel of Gabrielle curled around her body and smiled thinking this was a great way to wake up. It felt so good she almost fell asleep again, but was roused a sick feeling beginning to build in her stomach, and she groaned hoping it would go away. She wanted nothing more than to go back to sleep, but the nausea she was feeling was making sleep impossible, she could feel it building and knew it wouldn't be long before she wouldn't be able to keep it down.
"Oh Gods" she exclaimed as she ran to their wash basin and began retching, the nausea throwing itself out of her, wave after wave assaulting her, until she was sure she would pass out from the dizziness it created. She heard Gabrielle come up behind her supporting her, felt her wipe her hair from her face, and she felt relief flood her as the nausea subsided. She turned to Gabrielle and saw the worry on her face and knew what she must look like.
"I don't care about Athena's meeting I am not letting you out of here, by the Gods Xena, you are so pale, we should go back to the healer see if she has any answers for us" Gabrielle told Xena knowing she was rambling, but she was so afraid, she'd never seen Xena this sick, and she just wanted to get Xena to that healer and make her do something to get this fixed.
"Its okay Gabrielle, I feel a bit better, Gods I haven't been that sick since I was pregnant with………" She trailed off as she realised what her words meant and all the symptoms fell into place, and she realised the reason she was sick was because she was pregnant. She looked over at Gabrielle trying to gauge if she was on the same page as her, but her vision was already blackening as the shock of her situation caused her to faint for the second time that day.
Gabrielle just managed to catch her as she went down again, her mind had been so on Xena's last comment that she hadn't seen Xena's face go white and her begin to slump to the ground unconscious.
"Hades, Cyrene!" She called angrily, as she realised what Xena had realised before she fainted, wanting to get as far from Xena as possible in one moment and then her love and worry for her friend would pushed its way to the front and she knew she had to get Xena back to the healer, no matter how she felt about her right now, Xena had fainted again and she was pregnant, gods knows what this could be doing to the baby, and Xena herself, Gabrielle felt tears start to build in her eyes, wondering how this could have happened, she had been so sure of Xena being in love with her.
She was roused from her thoughts by Cyrene running into the room. She didn't want to look at Xena's mother, afraid she would see the anger in her, she still loved Xena but gods this hurt.
"Not again? Gabrielle are you okay?" Cyrene asked seeing that Gabrielle was clearly avoiding looking her in the eye and seemed upset.
"Yeah, lets just get her to the healer this can't be good for her, I'm just really worried about her" Gabrielle said nonchalantly hoping this would satisfy Cyrene, she really didn't want to talk about this right now, she needed time to stop being angry and she wasn't even sure she was right in thinking that Xena was pregnant, something about Xena's reaction just told her Xena thought she was too.
"Okay love but if you need to talk, I know it isn't easy loving someone like my Xena, but I know what's in her heart love, she would never hurt you on purpose" Cyrene told Gabrielle as gently carried Xena down the stairs. She got one of the lads to help them get Xena to the healer, since she hadn't regained consciousness, and Gabrielle wasn't sure they should try to wake her, besides she knew Xena would sense that something was wrong and she just wasn't ready for that conversation yet.
How did this happen, when, we've been inseparable since we came back from the dead, how could she, I know she is in love with me, Gods I wish id told her as soon as we got back from the other side. Gabrielle thought her world in turmoil, at one point she was so angry with Xena for betraying her and then she was angry with herself for not revealing her love for the warrior princess until it was too late.
She looked at Xena's peaceful face as they arrived at the healer's not knowing how to feel about this possible development, but she knew she had to find out.
"By the God's it happened again get her in here, lay her on that bed, thanks" Ryane the healer instructed the man carrying her.
"How long has she been out?" The Healer asked looking at Gabrielle worriedly, something told her the Bard had an idea about Xena's condition and although she liked conflict she wasn't sure she wanted to be a part of this one.
"A few minutes, will she be ok?" Cyrene answered when Gabrielle wouldn't, she wasn't sure what was going on here but the anger on Gabrielle's face didn't fit, she looks like Xena has betrayed her in some way she thought wondering what Xena could do to make Gabrielle look that angry.
"Ok well I'll try and rouse her-" Ryane told them before being cut off by Gabrielle
"No, you answer me something first and don't give me that I cant talk to someone else about a patient's business, Xena is pregnant isn't she?" Gabrielle asked angrily, and was getting angrier by the second at the Healer's silence.
"Tell me is she pregnant? Is she? Is she!!" Gabrielle yelled not caring if she woke Xena, as she grabbed the healer by the scruff of the neck, showing her with her eyes just how close she was to pummeling her senseless.
"Okay let me go and I'll tell you" Ryane pleaded, as Gabrielle's fingers dug in. "Its not going to make you feel any better, but yes she is I'd say she is about 2 months gone" Ryane told Gabrielle almost wishing she hadn't, but was relieved to see the anger replaced by tears before Gabrielle ran out of the room.
She just kept running and running, with no idea where she was headed she just knew she had to get out of there. Xena was pregnant, she had slept with someone, and she'd been to damn pigheaded to tell Xena how she felt. She could feel the wind whipping past her as her tears blinded her and she fell sobbing to the ground. She didn't feel the person come up behind her, pulling her to them as she sobbed into their chest.
"Gods Gabrielle I'm so sorry, I don't know how this happened, you must believe me" Xena whispered, more scared than she had ever been in her life.
"Yeah, that's really convenient Xena, I was about to tell you how much I love you and then I find you were rolling around with someone else, and you know what the funny thing is? I thought you loved me too, guess I got that wrong" Gabrielle replied sarcastically, trying not to see the hurt in Xena's eyes, still wondering how the woman who had been unconscious before she ran out of the healer's cabin had managed to find her so soon.
"I do, Gabrielle, I'm so in love with you I haven't even thought about being with anyone else, I cant imagine being with anyone else but you, I wish you would believe me, I don't know how to convince you of that" Xena replied tears beginning to fall down her face, she didn't care about appearing strong right now, she knew Gabrielle had every right to be angry, she would be if the situation were reversed, but she had thought that Gabrielle, being the person that knew her best in this miserable world would know she hadn't lied, she truly didn't know how this had come to be, and she was seriously wanting to strangle Athena.
"Xena go to that meeting with Athena, I wont go anywhere, I just need to think, I need to be alone for a bit, I'll come and find you when I'm ready to talk" Gabrielle told Xena, trying not to see the tears streaming down Xena's face, her Xena who hardly ever cried, just wanting to get some distance between them so she could think clearly on this, being around Xena just made her want to believe Xena, no questions asked because she loved her so much, and had once believed that the warrior princess would never intentionally hurt her.
"Promise?" Xena asked in no way ready to let Gabrielle go, but knowing that she had to or face losing her for ever.
"I promise, go I wont leave you" Gabrielle told Xena gently hoping the warrior would do as she asked, and breathed a small sigh of relief as she watched Xena get up shakily, all of her willpower was taken in stopping herself from helping Xena back to meet Athena.
Continued in Part 3
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