Time Is On My Side

by Stacia Seaman


* * * * *

Disclaimers: If they were mine, I'd be out on my yacht right about now.

No violence, bad language, or sex -- sorry! But the story is about two women who are very much in love.

As always, half the credit goes to Faithful for drawing out my thoughts, correcting my mistakes, and wading through all the e-mail I throw her way.

* * * * *

I sit by the fire, sharpening my sword. The familiar sound of stone on steel calms my nerves. Looking across the flames, I see only darkness where Gabrielle used to sit; a tear makes its way down my cheek as I remember green eyes and silky blonde hair. I brush it away angrily.

I'm sorry, Xena, but this is how it has to be. I'm going home.

With a long sigh, I put away my things and lie down. Sleep, however, does not come. I always knew the day might come when you would realize the violence that was such a part of our lives was overwhelming you, destroying you, but with my usual arrogance, I assumed that our love would overcome it. Your faith in me has always been so strong, even when I no longer believed in my own goodness. I roll over and try to clear my mind.

You know that I love you, but it's just not enough. I need to get away from all this...death.

I look up at the stars and smile at the memories they bring. It's taken a while, but I've gotten used to being alone again. I hardly notice the silence anymore. I've covered a lot of ground, visited some old friends, and when anyone asked about you, I told them you were visiting your family. It was the truth, after all, and I know you will be back. You've left twice before, and you've always come back. A thin cloud drifts across the moon and I sit up, knowing that I won't be sleeping tonight.

I won't be back this time, Xena. I can't do this anymore.

I stir the embers and put some water over the fire to heat. I've made sure the Amazons know where I am, but I've resisted the urge to ride past Poteidaia. You obviously need time to work things out, and I have plenty of time. Pushing you would only make things worse. You know that I love you. You want to follow the path of love, and I know that path will lead you right back to me. I prepare an infusion of herbs and add the hot water to my cup.

Please respect my decision, Xena. Don't try to follow me.

I gently blow on the tea, cooling it slightly before taking a small sip. You have grown so much over the three years that I've known you. I can barely see the village girl in the beautiful, confident woman that you have become. I remember smelling the sunshine in your hair when I held you as you drifted off to sleep. I can almost smell it now. The herbs in the tea have done their job and now I'm drifting off.

Just...please remember your promise. Don't give in to the darkness.

I shift positions, trying to get comfortable. There's no need to doubt me, Gabrielle, not as long as you are safe. The rage that filled me for so many years is gone, replaced with warm feelings of love and belonging. These feelings come from inside of me, from a place that I had given up for dead. You saved me, Gabrielle, and like it or not, you are a part of me. You'll come back. It's only a matter of time. I finally drift into an uneasy sleep.

* * * *

Hours -- or minutes -- later, I awaken to hushed voices. I try to sit up, but strong arms restrain me.

"What is it, Xena? Can I bring you something?" The world swims into focus; I look into concerned blue eyes as Hercules brushes my hair from my face.

"Is she here?" My voice is weak.

I look over to Iolaus, who shakes his head. "No, Xena, she's not here."

"She will be." I know this as surely as I know my own heart. "It's just a matter of time."

I see the quick glance that passes between my friends.

"Xena," Hercules says gently, "she's not coming. Those raiders--"

"She'll be here." I put as much strength into my words as I can. "Read her letter. She's on her way."

I smile gently at Hercules, trying to chase the sorrow and weariness from his face. I say, softly, "She's coming back. You'll see. I just have to give her more time."

Iolaus shakes his head at Hercules. "Why don't you try to get some sleep now, Xena," gently pushing me down into my sleeping furs, "we can talk about this later."

I'm tired, so very tired; I need to sleep. She will be here soon. Clutching the splintered remains of the amazon staff, I close my eyes.

I'll wait for her forever.

She'll be here. Time is on our side.

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