Disclaimer: See Part 1
I felt the air leave my lungs and my heart stop as our eyes met. Pale blue meeting emerald green, it was electric. I wanted to laugh and I wanted to cry but I couldn't move, all I could do was look at her. How could this be possible? Was I dreaming or was I just dellusional? My mind raced through thousands of possibilities as she walked towards me in slow motion. I half expected her to fade at any moment like she did on the ship as we sailed away from Japa, but she didn't. She didn't shimmer like the mirage's of her I saw as I stumbled through Egypt, half out of my mind with thirst. She was solid, as solid as the ground beneath me and I couldn't believe it. She looked so beautiful and I longed to touch her, to prove that she was real but a voice in the back of my mind pulled me back. As she reached out a perfect tanned hand to touch me, I stumbled backwards, watching as her eyes flickered with emotion.
"Gabrielle," she said softly, in her most soothing voice. "It's me. This is real, I'm really here."
"But you died!" I gasped out. "You died and you left me. I don't understand. How?"
"It's complicated, love," She said, tilting her head as she looked at me, her pale blue eyes full of so much love. Love for me.
She lifted her hand once more and I stayed perfectly still as her fingertips trailed over my jawline. I could feel the soft skin of her fingers, sending bolts of lightning through my every nerve. She was real. She was alive and she was here, standing before me and my heart almost burst with joy. I threw myself at her, wrapping my arms around her neck tightly and sobbing as she held me in her embrace.
"You're real," I cried into her neck, breathing deeply and sighing at the familar smell of her.
"I'm real," Xena replied, holding the Amazon Queen to her chest tightly and burying her face in her soulmate's hair. "I'm here and I'll never leave you again, I promise."
My body became tense at her words, words I had heard from her so many times before. I pulled back and looked into Xena's eyes, searching them. "You said that before. You said that before and you still left me."
I pulled away from her, something that pained me so much to do, but I had to. I had to know everything and I needed to know now. I could see the hurt in her eyes as I looked up at her and I smiled slightly, trying to reassure her, but it did nothing to reassure me.
"You and I need to talk," I said softly, turning around and scanning the crowd. "I need to find Alexandria, and then we all need to talk."
I turned back to Xena, watching as her eyes flashed with fear before she smiled and nodded. She took the hand I held out to her, squeezing it gently, and I felt alive. By the Gods, Xena was alive.
As soon as I was out of sight, I ran. I ran as fast as I could, paying no attention to the Amazon's that gazed at me in confusion. I ran through the Amazon village and into the forest, pushing myself past the pain, past the tears that had welled up in my eyes and now streamed down my face. I couldn't control anything in my life but by the Gods, I could run. It was all too much, bringing Xena back to life, and then returning her, the woman who broke my heart and took my life to the woman who made me feel alive.
"It will be the hardest thing you've ever had to do."
It wasn't a lie, it was easily the hardest thing I've ever had to do. I've fought battles, been outnumbered ten to one in several of them. I've taken lives, saved lives, done the impossible but none of it was anything compared to what it took for me to bring Xena back. It destroyed me to bring her back to this village and into the waiting arms of the Amazon Queen. It wasn't even that I wanted Gabrielle to myself.
You want Xena to yourself.
"No!" I growled, pushing myself harder, running so fast that I was a blur racing along the forest floor.
No, I don't want her. It had to nothing to do with wanting anyone, Xena or Gabrielle. It was not being good enough, never being good enough for anyone. I was never enough for Xena and I'll never be enough for Gabrielle. And Gods, it hurt. It felt like someone was stabbing me in the chest, right through my broken heart.
I ran until my heart pounded in my ears and I was gasping for breath before falling to my knee's on the damp forest floor. I dug my fingernails into the dirt, the muscles in my arms trembling from exhaustion. I could hear someone running up behind me, but I didn't care. They could cut my head from my shoulders right now and I wouldn't defend myself. And then it hit me that now, that was a possibility.
"Alexandria," Varia gasped out as she fell to her hands and knee's besides me. "For the love of the Gods, I think I'm going to throw up my lungs."
I laughed through my tears, turning my head slightly and catching her eyes. She looked back at me, a sad smile on her beautiful face. She let herself fall gently to the ground, rolling onto her back and looking up at me thoughtfully. Sitting back on my heels, I held her gaze as I tried to calm my breathing.
"What did you give up?" She asked me softly, tilting her head to the side.
"I don't know what you're talking about," I replied, running my fingers through my sweat soaked hair.
"Yes, you do. You can't just bring back people from the dead, Alexandria. Not without a price."
I stared down at her, searching her dark brown eyes and I smiled sadly, before reaching down into my boot and pulling out a small dagger. I twirled it in my fingers, never taking my eyes from my bestfriend's before gently dragging the blade along the palm of my hand.
I closed my eyes as my hand burned with pain. Pain, physical pain, something I hadn't truly felt in so long. When I was immortal, getting hit still hurt, but it was different. It was nothing like what I felt now, as my blood trickled through my fingers. This was real, and I laughed because for the first time since I'd been brought back to the living, I felt truly alive.
"God damn it, Alexandria," Varia mumbled and I opened my eyes to find her crying. "God damn it! You owe her nothing! Why would you do this?"
I looked down at my hand, squeezing it shut and watched as the blood ran down my arm before sighing and ripping off a piece of my shirt to tie around the wound.
"I didn't do it for Xena," I said softly as I wrapped my hand. "I did it because it's the right thing to do."
I looked up as Varia took my wounded hand, bringing it to her lips and kissing it softly before looking up at me. She opened her mouth to speak but stopped as an Amazon ran into the clearing and moved towards us.
"The Queen wants to speak with you, Alexandria," Eponin panted out of breath. "Fuck, you run fast."
I smiled up at the older woman who gave me a small smile in return before letting myself be pulled to my feet by Varia. "Of course she does. What the Queen wants, the Queen gets, right?"
Eponin nodded at me as I felt Varia's hand slip into mine, giving it a gentle squeeze. We followed Eponin from the clearing and I smiled as Varia continued to hold my hand as we walked side by side, back to the Amazon village.
To Be Continued
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