The sand blew across the barren landscape. One would hardly believe at one time this had been a rich fertile valley full of trees and plants and a lake. Now it was barren destroyed because of evolution and construction. This area had once held the home of the Warrior Princess and her Battling Bard after they settled down from life on the road.
From several scrolls found at other dig sites this one was translated by Dr. Melinda Pappas and Dr. Janice Covington February 1946 from the scrolls of Gabrielle Amazon Queen and Battling Bard:
We have been here for over two months. We both settled into this life fairly easily. Well I did it a little faster than Xena. But she's content here. It's like this had been missing from her for so long and she finally feels at home. I know I do. As much as I want a home and all this I know deep in my heart I will follow Xena anywhere for she is my home. I feel so safe and secure in her arms. Enough of the mush; as I said we have been here over two months and things are great well better then that. Farming seems to agree with her and I. We both have our set of chores and a routine but the best routine is at night when we have dinner. I cook she cleans. It's much safer that way for both of us no matter how hard I've tried to teach her to cook it is not one of her many skills. Although she can make a great cup of tea and almost manage to make toast without burning it. She cleans up the kitchen and then we both settle down in front of the fire or sit on the porch with me cradled in her arms and her head resting on mine. She hasn't worn her leathers and armor since we've been here. She put them in a trunk in the barn along with my set of leathers. Both of our weapons though are under a floor board just in case. We raise chickens; a few goats; cows; sheep and a few pigs and we have a few horses as well. Hopefully in the spring we might have a few new additions. We trade with the local village. Well, I do for the things we need that we don't have here. I have a very large vegetable garden that Xena helped plow for me and then helped me plant the crops we need to sustain ourselves. Today when I went into town we had a few messages waiting for us. One was from Virgil. He got into the Academy at Athens and thanks us both. The other was from my sister wondering when we might come to visit hoping we would be there for winter Solstice and the best one of all was the one from Eve. She was coming to spend some time with us and bringing along someone with her. She's been keeping in touch with us a lot and she's still spreading Eli's teachings although now she carries a sword to help those who can't help themselves but she only uses it in self defense. Xena wasn't here when I came back so she had either gone fishing or hunting or trapping to keep up her skills. Ah I hear her heavy footsteps on the porch.
Xena (walking into the house): Hi honey. I'm home (holding up the string of fish.)
Gabrielle (shaking her head): I heard you coming up the front steps. Xena what did you do roll around in the mud to get the fish and Goddess woman you stink.
Xena (smiling wickedly): No I did not roll around in the mud and I stink because I was trying to patch the roof to the storage shed before winter (bending down to kiss her soul mate softly.)
Gabrielle (smiling against the soft lips): Go on take a bath and I'll fix these for dinner. (Noticing the sheepish look on her partner's face) yes Xena (smirking mischievously.)
Xena (playfully pouting): I was wondering if um maybe you could join me if you weren't too busy with writing and stuff.
Gabrielle (shaking her head since they had settled down Xena was different in a lot of ways not so rough around the edges and more likely to share her feelings and emotions): Honey I'm never to busy for you and oh hey we got a message from Eve.
Xena (face lighting up): What did she say? Is she alright? Where is she?
Gabrielle (placing the fish in a frying pan): She's fine. She's coming to visit and bringing someone along with her. (Seeing the concern and clouded look on her partner's face) Xe she's a big girl. Xena (rolling her eyes): I know, I know. But I'm worried about… Gabrielle (understanding): About her getting hurt. But I think that might be why she's bringing whoever it is home with her. She wants our approval and as long as that person whoever it is loves her and cares for her then she has it. Right Xena? (Noticing the scowl and look of concentration on her partner's face.) Right Xena (arching her eyebrow?)
Xena (shaking her head): Brie that`s your bag. I'm here to throw them out on their bum if they aren't good enough for her ouch (rubbing her arm where Gabrielle had hit her.)
Gabrielle (standing toe to toe with her soul mate): That didn't hurt and you know it. Now Xena she's bringing someone here to visit and let us meet them. You are going to be polite; not glare; not threaten body parts and refrain yourself or else.
Xena (smirking): Or else what.
Gabrielle (wrapping her arms around Xena's neck and leaning up to kiss her; to Hades with the dirt and the stench this was all that mattered ): Or else you will be sleeping in the barn alone.
Xena (picking her up): You said something about a bath.
Gabrielle (laughing): You need a bath although now I do too. And don't change the subject. I want you to be nice.
Xena (walking into the bathing room): I'm always nice love. (And she proceeded to show her how nice she could be.)
Two figures where riding their horses through the woods. One figure pulled the horse to the side of the road and the other followed smiling, wondering.
Varia (leaning up to help Eve down): How you doing? Are your ribs bothering you? Do you want me to (fingers against her lips gently silenced her.)
Eve (softly): I'm fine. Just relax. You're tense and I don't like you tense.
Varia (wrapping her arms around her being careful of her injuries): I can think of all sorts of ways you can relax me. But seriously, Eve maybe you should go to your parents alone and talk with them. I don't think they'll be too happy with me showing up on their doorstep. When they see the injuries you got, your mother her Chakram and I are going to be the best of friends and not in a nice way. Or better yet Gabrielle will use me… (soft lips covered her own silencing her.)
Eve (breaking the kiss): Varia we talked about this. In fact we went over it in great length. Ares poisoned you; your mind and that's not who you really were. Besides your tribe was dying and…
Varia (caressing Eve's face): I had to do what I had to do in order to ensure their survival. But I treated you like some piece of trash; tried to kill Gabrielle and tried to seduce Xena. The odds aren't in my favor and when they look at you now they are going to think the worst. I can't blame them though. They are your parents and if they don't want me to be with you then…
Eve (softly): Varia stop that. I've forgiven you and in a way they've forgiven you. I know what your saying but I'm a grown woman and I know what I want (leaning in for a passionate kiss) and it's you. I've never felt this way with anyone love (arching into Varia's touch) and it's about what I want love. My parents will come around. I know them it's just going to take some time; we both know my parents aren't all that bad.
Varia (shaking her head): No just a two woman wrecking team who can take out Gods; armies; warlords and…
Eve (brushing the hair out of her face): But they are also two wonderful people who helped me and who helped the Amazons. Now stop worrying things will be fine. Ok. (Varia nodded) that's my girl. Varia (smiling and looking into soft blue eyes): I love you Eve. I know I don't say it as often as I should but I love you (placing her hands on Eve's hips.)
Eve (smirking): I love you too. And I know you love me just by the little things you do. You know it's probably going to be a while before we can be together. You know my mother and her endless series of questions…
Varia (nipping her earlobe): Which one (moving down to her throat?) Eve (moaning): Both oh Eli's God, Varia (as strong hands caressed her body sending bolts of desire roaring through her. She had never felt this intense of emotions with anyone before; never felt the love being offered and she surrendered willingly.)
Varia (gently pushing Eve to the ground): Forget telling you let me show you. (And show her she did in great detail.)
Gabrielle was outside feeding the animals. Xena was off checking her traps. Gabrielle looked up when she heard hoof beats. Turning around she noticed two horses coming up the road; grabbing the pitchfork just in case and waiting; she smiled when she recognized the lanky brunette on the white horse.
Eve (waving): Mom hi.
Gabrielle (leaning the pitchfork against the fence): Hi Eve who's your… (the words died on her lips; she saw Eve had some bruises and riding beside her and to the rear a little was Varia. She put some pieces together and prayed that she could restrain Xena from doing anything rash.)
Eve (holding up her hand as she halted the horse): Now wait a minute it's a long story but let me tell you before you go jumping to conclusions .Varia didn't do this to me. It was a small band of Roman soldiers who were drunk and thought they would have a little fun. Varia happened to be nearby on a scouting mission when she jumped in to save me. You should see the gash on her back (dismounting slowly.) Gabrielle (looking at Eve then at Varia): How are you (hugging Eve tightly and noticing her wince?) Varia, nice to see you under better circumstances than the last time.
Varia (dismounting): Same here my Queen (bowing her head respectively figuring anything she could do to ease the tension was worth it.) Eve (biting her bottom lip to keep from laughing; Gabrielle and Varia were both Queens of the Amazons but Varia being younger had yielded to Gabrielle): So where's mother?
Gabrielle (running her fingers through her hair): Varia it's Gabrielle no need for formality unless by chance you did give my daughter those bruises (noticing one that resembled a hickey. She would talk with Eve later about that one.) She's checking traps and hopefully staying clean she brought more dirt in than I wanted to imagine.
Varia (taking the reigns of both horses): Alright I'm going to take care of these two and then I'll be inside, gives you two a chance to catch up (squeezing Eve's shoulder affectionately which Gabrielle noticed.)
Eve and Gabrielle walked into the house and Gabrielle put the pot of water over the fire for tea. Eve knew her mom had questions and knew once her mother got in then sh
e would be asking the same if not more questions. Gabrielle (taking out several packets of tea leaves): You ok sweetie? I mean you look pretty banged up. We both missed you.
Eve (sitting down in one of the chairs): Just sore a little tired but Varia has been keeping a pretty close eye on me. She really helped me out when those soldiers picked a fight with me. I was able to hold off two or three of them but they kept coming. That's when Varia showed up.
Gabrielle (pouring water into the mugs): Where you near Amazon land (Eve shook her head?) But Varia was close by. What's going on? I thought the treaty was supposed to keep them away from that territory. Eve (halting further inquisition): Varia was off checking out the reports of Roman soldiers in the area. I guess the new emperor doesn`t bother reading or he`s ignoring things as of lately..
Gabrielle (remembering Eve had been the one to initiate the treaty between Rome and the Amazons): Yeah and you did a great job with it too. Saved a lot of people and protected the land.
Eve (taking the tea cups from her and setting them down on the table): Thank you mom. But I got a lot of ideas from you and mother and from your travels. How are things here you seem to have settled in nicely. Which I'm very happy for the both of you.
Gabrielle (thinking): I never thought she would take to settling down like she has but it has been good for her.
Eve (smiling): For the both of you I gather. You seem much more relaxed.
Gabrielle (thinking of one of the reasons that could be and trying not to blush; since the incident in Jappa and settling down they had connected in so many different ways; not that they weren't before; it was just now there was more time for cuddling and just being together ): We are.
Eve (sitting down): So tell me what been happening the past few months.
Gabrielle smiled and began telling her daughter of life on the farm and settling down.
Xena came into the barn carry an empty trap whose hinge was broken. She saw movement out of the corner of her eye and tensed readying herself.
Varia (holding up her hands): Whoa there. Sorry I startled you but I was settling the horses down and you came in.
Xena (clenching her jaw): What you doing here Varia and where's… Varia (noticing the look in Xena's eyes): I brought her home Xena. She got attacked near our territory and I made sure she made it alright. Listen Xena I know you and I have some issues between us but I thought we moved past all that…
Xena (nodding): We did unless something has happened to Eve and I find out you were the cause of it (her voice low and menacing) you'll regret the day you were born Varia.
Varia (shaking her head): Xena I never meant to hurt her or Gabrielle. I just wanted what was best for the tribe.
Xena (turning and leaning against the work bench): By trying to kill Gabrielle on the beach at Helicon; or by beating her to unconsciousness in a fight; or walking Eve to a pit filled with acid and sulfur. You have a lot to prove and right now it would be best if you stayed out of my way. Those wounds run deep we talked but it doesn't mean I forgot. You hurt my child in any way (fingering her Chakram.) One wrong move Varia and I'll send you to Hades in pieces (she turned to leave and felt a strong grip on her arm.) Varia (sincere): Xena I'm sorry (swallowing hard as she looked up into ice blue eyes.) She lowered her head as the Warrior Princess walked out of the barn without another word and Varia followed silently behind her wondering is she should just camp out somewhere.) Gabrielle heard heavy boot steps and looked up to see icy blue eyes watching her. She knew something was bothering and her and knew it was Varia.
Xena (softly): Where's Eve?
Gabrielle (sensing her soul mate's dark mood): Xena relax Eve and I talked things over and things are fine; seems as if Varia saved her from some soldiers who can't follow a simple treaty.
Xena (nodding): Yeah Varia and I talked and I warned her about crossing me again.
Gabrielle (pleading): Xena…
Xena (trying not to take it out on her partner): Gabrielle don't. Ok I almost lost you both because of her.
Gabrielle (shaking her head): Yes what Varia did was wrong and there's no excusing her behavior but face it there was extenuating circumstances love. You know how things get under Ares influence and that's what happened.
Xena (defensively): One wrong move from her and she'll regret being born.
Gabrielle (kissing her softly): Go clean up I made some venison steaks for dinner and some other stuff (Strong arms wrapped around her) Xena we have company and…
Xena (nipping her earlobe; needing their bond): Then come and help me clean up (someone clearing their throat brought a halt to their attentions.)
Varia and Eve were standing in the door way both looking tired and run down.
Eve (teasing): When you two can tear yourselves away from each other I was wondering where you wanted Varia to sleep (wishing that they could sleep together in her room.)
Gabrielle (looking up at her soul mate who seemed to be thinking about something): We could put a couple of bedrolls on the floor in front of the fireplace on that nice thick fur.
Xena (eyeing Varia warily something was up): Sure you'd be nice and comfortable wouldn't you (personally Varia could sleep in the barn for all she was concerned.)
Varia (nodding): Sure I would even sleep in the barn if need be. Eve (looking at her): No friend of mine is going to sleep in the barn, mother (looking at Xena.)
Gabrielle (looking at Eve then at Varia; oh dam): No, no one is sleeping in the barn unless a certain Warrior Princess doesn't clean up and stops making a mess of my kitchen and starts being a little nicer.)
Xena (rolling her eyes): I get the point I'll go clean up and get the bedrolls from the barn (she walked down the hall to the bathing room mumbling something about uptight featherheads.)
Gabrielle shooed the girls out to finish dinner and set the table. She was grateful at dinner that it was more relaxed filled with lively conversation and everyone catching up on everything. Eve and Varia cleaned up while Xena and Gabrielle went and sat in the living room snuggling together on the couch Gabrielle held in Xena's arms with Xena's head resting on Gabrielle's.
Eve (walking out to the living room): Hey Varia and I are going to take a walk. We'll be back later on.
Xena (looking up at her daughter): Alright. We'll see you in the morning (watching her daughter and Varia with a weary eye and her body tensed a little.)
Gabrielle (rubbing Xena's arm): Relax. They're just going for a walk. Xena (nuzzling her neck): Something's up. I just can't put my finger on it (smiling as Gabrielle turned herself in Xena's arms and straddled her lap.)
Gabrielle (playfully biting Xena's bottom lip): True but I can think of a few things that would take your mind off of it.
Xena (smiling mischievously): Mmm I like your way of thinking (tensing her muscles than standing with Gabrielle wrapped around her body.) I love the way you like to distract me love (walking towards their bedroom.)
Gabrielle (running her fingers through the dark locks): And I have ways of distracting you all night long (laughing as she was tossed on the bed and pounced on by her soul mate.)
Xena (untying Gabrielle's tunic): Then distract me already love (moaning as Gabrielle's lips moved up and down her neck and across her chest. It was going to be a long pleasurable night of distractions for the both of them.)
Eve and Varia were walking alongside the barn; hands entwined and not more than two inches between them and enjoying the cool night air. They rounded the corner of the barn away from prying eyes and ears. Varia (capturing Eve's lips in a soft sensual kiss): I love you. Eve (wrapping her arms around her partner): And I you. I'm going to tell them. I don't feel right keeping this from my parents (tilting her head back as Varia kissed her exposed skin.)
Varia (softly): You think that's a good idea (moaning as small hands massaged her shoulders and moved down her chest cupping her breasts.) Eve (nodding and continuing with the teasing explorations): Yes. I want you.
Varia (panting as Eve teased and tormented her body): Yes Eve what are you; out here; now love.
Eve (smiling wickedly): Yes and not another word (both were soon lost in each other and would be for most of the night not caring about the temperature or anything else and they never went back in the house instead they detoured to the barn where they spent the night lost in each other.)
Early the next morning Gabrielle was up making breakfast when Varia and Eve walked in the door. It confirmed Gabrielle's suspicions and she knew she had to talk to both of them before this went any further. She wanted Eve to be happy she could also see how much Varia had changed as well.
Gabrielle (softly): Sit down the both of you.
Eve (holding up her hand): Mom (Gabrielle looked at her and she knew she meant business.) Ok but listen…
Gabrielle (shaking her head and taking a deep breath): Eve I just want you to be happy and so does Xena. I have no problem with the two of you together as long as Varia is honest with you and takes care of you.
Varia (gently): I love her Gabrielle.
Gabrielle (smiling noticing some marks on Eve's neck and Varia's as well): I can see that. How long has it been for you two (pouring tea for the three of them?)
Varia (getting up and helping with the tea): Um about two months. I know I screwed up and all but I was blinded before by hatred and blood lust and I realize I was wrong about so many things and I owe you and Xena a big apology. I just hope she doesn't kill me for falling in love with Eve (tensing.)
Gabrielle (looking at Eve then at Varia they reminded her of her and Xena): Varia you and Eve have talked about and settled things between you two. And I'm glad you realize your shortcomings. You have to move on in life or you'll miss some really great stuff. Just don`t hurt her.
Varia (lowering her head): I promise. I'm more worried about Xena though.
Eve (shaking her head): Varia things will be fine. Speaking of which where is she?
Gabrielle (smiling): Still sleeping. I should be getting her up or she'll never let me here the end of it…
Xena (walking in the kitchen): Hear the end of what and what's all the noise first thing in the morning?
Gabrielle (smiling and hugging her partner tightly): Nothing and everything (handing her a cup of tea.)
Varia and Eve laughed and then quieted down when Xena looked at them. Xena (concern): Eve is everything all right?
Eve (softly): Mother I just want you to listen please. (Xena nodded and looked at Gabrielle then shrugged.) Varia and I are together like you two. (For a moment the world just stood still then faster then anyone could blink Xena was up and had Varia pinned to the wall by her throat.) Mother…
Xena (growling): You. You're dating my daughter. The woman you tried to kill not once but twice.
Gabrielle (already moving): Xena sit down…
Varia (grasping and looking up into eyes so cold so devoid of emotion she sure she saw her life pass before her; at least they had the time they did): Xena please…
Xena (tightening her hold): Please. I seem to remember those words coming from Brie's mouth several times after you refused to listen and tried to kill her too.
Gabrielle (pushing under Xena's arm and going to toe with her; feeling Varia pressed against her back): Xena knock it off (watching as Eve tried to get her mother's arm to loosen) Xena right now I mean it put her down.
Eve (reaching out to caress Varia's face): Baby it's ok. Just relax baby. Mother put her down, now (growling.)
Xena (reluctantly doing so): How dare she? How dare she seduce you after all the shit she's pulled.
Eve (pushing her mother back): I'm a grown woman.
Gabrielle (stepping in front of a gasping Varia): Xena knock it off. Eve back up please.
Xena growled and slammed her fist on the table behind her and stormed out the door.
Varia collapsed on the floor and Eve knelt beside her.
Eve (gently): Relax ok. I'm here and I`m sorry…
Gabrielle (realizing it was better to let Xena cool off for a bit): You all right (pressing a cold cloth to Varia's throat? Varia nodded weakly.) Easy now, deep breaths.
Eve (helping Varia stand): I can't believe she went off like that here let's get you on the couch.
Gabrielle (bringing over some tea): Here drink some of this it'll help ease your throat (brushing back some of Varia's hair that had fallen in her face. She couldn't believe some of the physical similarities Varia had with Xena; both were tall with dark hair and muscular for one.)
Varia (hoarsely): I'm just lucky she didn't break anything (shaking her head.)
Eve (agreeing): Yeah but you're probably bruised…
Varia: Like I said I was lucky.
Xena was in the barn cursing and trying not to put her fists through something. How dare that little Amazon harlot seduce her daughter; how dare she (slamming her fist into the wall, feeling the bones crack underneath; she kicked the nearest thing in sight (a bucket) and sent it flying.)
Aphrodite (materializing): Whoa chill babe.
Xena (growling; her nostrils flaring): I'll chill you…
Aphrodite (rolling up her sleeves): You want a fight Warrior Princess. I'm not afraid of you. At least I don't go hitting defenseless people.
Xena (angrily): I can blame you for this. You and your interfering. After what that bitch did to my partner your friend I might add and my daughter you expect me to be calm. No fucking way.
Aphrodite (rolling her eyes; this was going to hurt for the both of them): Like you have room to talk Xena. Or did you forget (seeing the shoulders tense.) Yeah I didn't think so. But she looked past all that. She looked past your ten years of evil and being a bitch and she still loved you even when you almost raped her.
Xena (drawing her dagger): I did not rape Gabrielle.
Aphrodite (producing her own sword): Yes you did but she still loved you. Still offered you her heart and soul. Even after all that shit with Dahok and Illusia and everything else she still loved you.
Xena (taking a deep breath): Get out of here. I don't want to hear this…
Aphrodite (grabbing Xena by her vest): I don't care you're going to hear it (shoving her back.)
Xena (angrily): Get out just get out…
Aphrodite (hearing the wounded tone in the woman's voice; since the mess in Jappa and the time they had spent together she began to see Xena in a different light): I think you need to remember what you almost did so you can see how they can be together.
Xena (softly): It's not the same.
Aphrodite (reaching out and touching Xena's forehead): I think it is (instantly Xena was on her knees) here think about things for a minute I'm going to check your punching bag (and vanished leaving Xena gasping for breath and struggling to fight the hurt in her heart and soul.)
Flashback to 29 years ago shortly after the incident with the Horde and Ulysses. She had too much energy strumming through her veins nothing she did could ease the feelings rampaging through her body. Fighting her more primal desires and urges and slowly walked back to the camp she and Gabrielle had set up. The sight was beautiful actually perfect. She never wanted Gabrielle to see this side of her and she vowed to take something to knock her out for the night before she hurt the woman she loved more than life itself more than anyone before her.
Her fate had been decided though as she entered the campsite; Gabrielle was half naked stretching on the bedrolls apparently in the middle of changing into her sleep shirt. She could feel the darkness; her primal urges awakened after so long and she reacted shoving Gabrielle face down onto the furs and pinning her body with her own. She had foregone her armor and was clad only in her leathers. Extracting her breast dagger she lay on top of Gabrielle pushing her hips against the strong lithe body beneath her.
Gabrielle (struggling): Xena what's wrong?
Xena (yanking a fistful of blonde hair and pulling her head back): Nothing. Everything's fine now (reaching with her free hand to squeeze Gabrielle's breasts) perfect in fact. Gabrielle (not understanding and trying to push Xena off her to no avail): Xena come on… Xena (shifting her legs and pushing her thigh between Gabrielle's): You're going to do as I say Brie and enjoy it. Enjoy everything I'm offering you (shoving her hand inside Gabrielle's panties; enjoying the warmth that greeted her.) Oh yeah (thrusting her hips into her friends' back side) yeah just like this.
Gabrielle (realization dawning on her and renewing her struggles): Xena no dammit…
Xena (growling and nipping her neck): You will not refuse or deny me. All day you torture me and expect me to sit by and not touch you, bullshit (thrusting two fingers into her friend and groaning as her climax approached.)
Gabrielle (softly): This is what you were. Don't let it rule now. Xena (cursing): Shut the Hades up woman…
Gabrielle (trying to fight the sensations building in her body): Xena you're not like this anymore. Don't let this come between us like this…
Xena (angrily; pulling her fingers out and flipping her over on her back): You asked for it (shoving three fingers inside Gabrielle) has anyone made you feel like this (pinning her arms) touched you like I do. I bet no one has and no one ever will. You're mine Brie (groaning as her drenched sex found purchase on Gabrielle's thigh and she thrust her hips frantically needing the relief promised.) I'm the only one Brie…
Gabrielle (struggling and eventually freeing one arm): Dammit Xena (and surprisingly punched Xena in the face. For a moment no one moved Xena just lay on top of her with a look of shock on her face; the results of the punch evident on Xena's face immediately.) Xena… Xena (growling and backing up): Oh God (the punch had knocked some sense into her and she began regretting her actions.) Brie… Gabrielle (trying to calm her): Xena no. I would gladly give myself to you but not like this. Not with you like you are. Don't you know you're the only one Xena, the only one who has my heart and soul? And when you realize you don't need to rape me to be with me and truly show me your heart can this ever happen between us. But you have to want it Xena and not just for the sex. I willingly want to spend my life by your side and for eternity but not like this. Not when there is no love Xena (tears falling down her face.) If you can't love me as much as I love you then there is nothing to discuss. But when you can come to me as the woman I know you can be then I will gladly lay down and make love with you (reaching out to touch her and Xena recoiled. She could see the tears; feel the pain evident in those soft blue eyes and she watched as the woman who had come to mean everything to her took off like a scarred rabbit into the dark night of the forest.) Someday Xena you will understand I love you beyond everything and anything. Perdicus was a mistake I know that now. You are my tree in the forest the one who completes me, my soul mate. (She didn't know if Xena heard her but she hoped she did. Gingerly she sat up and grabbed a towel and went to wash up not to clean herself or rid herself of Xena's scent but to ease the ache from what had happened.)
Xena had heard Gabrielle but still ran wanting to get away from her, needing to. She slumped against a tree tears falling unashamed down her face and she cursed herself; her body and Ares for causing this mess. What did she know about love? Nothing. At least not of the unconditional selfless love Gabrielle professed for her. No one had ever touched her heart and soul like the young blonde did and she cursed silently. She would find a way to open up and let her in. Thinking she began laughing the little blonde had already done that slowly chipping away her walls until she created a spot for herself so entrenched in Xena's heart that Xena knew this was their destiny together. But how to show someone love when she didn't even know herself what that meant.
Xena sat back against the wall of the barn shaking and upset. She couldn't believe what she had almost done and it hurt her knowing in truth she was worst than Varia. Tears of anger and pain fell down her face.
Aphrodite (materializing): Hey little one. Tall dark and deadly got nasty didn't she. (Noticing the bite marks and hickeys on Gabrielle's neck.) But not before she had you for lunch.
Gabrielle (happy to see her friend): Aphrodite hi. Have you seen Xena?
Aphrodite (nodding): Yep I gave her something to think about. You look good Eve put on a little weight not so scrawny. And you here (reaching out to touch Varia's neck) let's get rid of that (gently caressing Varia's throat and healing the bruises) there you go. Eve (smiling): Thank you. Is she all right?
Aphrodite (nodding): She's fine. Just thinking.
Varia (taking a deep breath): Thinking about how to kill me…
Gabrielle (rolling her eyes): No. Probably thinking of why she went off like that, right (glancing at Aphrodite.)
Aphrodite (looking at the floor): Um not really something else (looking into soft green eyes.)
Gabrielle (realizing): No. Aphrodite tell me you didn't. We've…I never thought…well maybe but…
Aphrodite (holding up her hand): I'll be right back (disappearing and leaving behind pink sparkles and red hearts.)
Eve (worry): Mom is everything all right?
Gabrielle (concern): Let me go see where she went. You two going to be all right (they both nodded) keep dinner warm I'll be back with her shortly (softly under her breath) I hope.
Varia (standing): Gabrielle it's ok. I understand… Gabrielle (reaching out and cupping her face in her hand): Varia I'll only say this once you hurt Eve, our daughter, well what she did to you will be mild but as long as you make her happy you have my blessing ok (Varia nodded) I'll be back. Eve (softly; following after her): Mom thank you.
Gabrielle (hugging her tightly): We just want you to be happy (pulling on her cloak) now let me go find her.
Eve (noticing the bite marks): You better before she uses you for dinner (snickering.)
Gabrielle (biting her lip): Well make sure you feed Varia then (walking out the door leaving Eve to stand with her mouth open.) Eve (shaking her head): She didn't just go there did she? Varia (walking up behind her and wrapping her arms around her): Yep she did and I would do just that but I think I'll keep my hands to myself for now.
Eve (turning and kissing her softly): Later then. (Varia nodded deepening the kiss.)
Aphrodite (sitting down beside Xena): Well how you feeling? Xena (sighing): You came here to gloat…
Aphrodite (shaking her head): No not to gloat. I came to talk with a friend (Xena looked at her; tears streaming down her face; a look of shock) yes you Miss I'm too tough for my leathers. I didn't do that to hurt you I did it cause I wanted you to think about things.
Xena (softly): I wanted to teach her another way, beyond violence, beyond pain and with Gabrielle we could have done that but I guess it was out of my hands. I just want her too be happy and be loved for who she is inside.
Aphrodite (understanding and carefully wrapped her arm around Xena; feeling the woman tense): Easy. Everyone needs to be held and I would put you in my lap but you're too dam big (that got Xena to smile.) Xena (relaxing): I think my heart knew what my head refused to accept that I loved Gabrielle from the moment she saved my bum from those villagers. I didn't realize just what she meant to me until it was too late. When she married Perdicus I vowed never again I would rather be alone then to suffer the pain and agony I did when she left with him. But fate intervened again and I got a second chance and it took me dying to get it through my head then that I needed to tell her how I felt. But she was so young and innocent and I never wanted her to hurt and I did that anyway. I was the one who caused her the greatest pain; the greatest hurt. I don't know how she ever looked beyond my past; my attitude; the way I was then but she did… Aphrodite (seeing Gabrielle in the shadows listening): And she still loved you. Still opened her heart to you despite everything you had been and done even after Britannia and Illusia. And you want to know something (Xena shook her head) I had nothing to do with it. I helped push things along at times but you were destined to be together in this life irregardless. So I think you owe Varia an apology and Eve… Xena (thinking): And Gabrielle…
Aphrodite (leaning over and kissing her cheek): Give her a chance
their love is special like yours and the little ones. I'll be around if you need me.
Xena (standing): Wait. Are they…
Aphrodite (pressing two fingers to her lips): I can't say but trust me (winking and vanishing.)
Xena (turning around): How much did you hear (locking eyes with her soul mate?)
Gabrielle (walking into the barn): Everything. I heard everything Xena.
Xena (shifting nervously): And…
Gabrielle (shaking her head but understanding her partner): Xena if I didn't feel certain things with you then I would have never given you my heart and soul. I knew you were a good person with a good heart and intentions you just needed a push in the right direction. Give Varia a chance love. She might be the best thing for Eve I know a certain village girl who happens to know that a certain six foot blue eyed warrior was and is still the best thing she ever met. (cupping Gabrielle's cheek): I owe you an apology for that night all those years ago. I just…
Gabrielle (pressing her lips to Xena's): Leave it in the past Xena. I'm over it I was over it shortly after you walked in the forest that night (feeling strong arms pull her closer.) I love you all of you. Xena (resting her head on top of Gabrielle's): I love you too. Gabrielle (scratching the back of Xena's neck): Come on let's go see them and enjoy dinner.
Eve sat curled in her partner's lap watching the flames consume the logs that's how she felt with Varia. This woman walked in and consumed her she wasn't protesting one bit.
Varia (nipping the back of her neck): What are you thinking? Eve (setting her tea cup down): Wouldn't you like to know? Varia (trying to push her down): Yes I would (hugging her tightly.) Eve (leaning down and nipping the tip of her nose): I love you. Varia (kissing her lips softly): And I you.
Gabrielle (walking): Eve, Varia hey oh (trying not laugh at the bewildered and startled look on Varia's face.) Dinner will be on the table in a moment (reaching behind her and pulling Xena along with her.)
Xena (shaking her head): She gets that from you ouch (in mock pain as she was backhanded in the stomach the playfully.) Don't they have their own room (backing up as she was hit again playfully?) Gabrielle (smiling): Behave (seeing the mischievous look in her partner's eyes) save it princess.
Eve (trying not to blush): Come on love.
Varia (softly; following her partner): You're a trouble maker. Xena (teasing): Save it princess (noticing the look of discomfort on Varia's face) come on featherhead get in here and sit down. Gabrielle (passing Xena the food to set on the table): Xena stop tormenting everyone.
Xena (mock innocence): Who me?
Varia (sitting down): I don't get it and I probably never will. Eve (shaking her head): Don't ask because it would take a long time to figure out.
Dinner was a little more relaxed filled with questions and playful banter. Later that night as Xena and Gabrielle were walking to the barn to settle things up for the night, Gabrielle stopped and pointed out a few stars. Gabrielle (softly): I used to make so many wishes when I was a kid. One of them being that one day my knight would come in and take me away from there and give me adventure and love.
Xena (kissing the top of her head): And what happened?
Gabrielle (wondering just how thick headed her partner could be): Every wish I ever made came true (locking eyes with Xena.) Xena (softly): Even after…
Gabrielle (wrapping her arm around Xena's and continuing into the barn): Xena like you said to me that one time you have to know your darkness and your light to be complete. I took a chance and I've never looked back. The good and the bad Xena have made us who we are and we're stronger for it. I wouldn't change anything Xena. Not one. Xena (understanding): You're right. You saved me that day love in more ways than one.
Gabrielle (leaning up and kissing Xena on the cheek): And you saved me. Love you Warrior.
Xena (smiling and opening the door to their hut): Love you Warrior Bard.
Xena (putting hay in the troughs for the horses): I just don't understand this between them.
Gabrielle (gently): And what about you. When I first met you, you were trying to turn your life around. You changed so why can't she? And you can't help who you fall in love with. It was bound to happen sooner or later. Please for me give her a chance.
Xena (lowering her head): I'm trying love. I know we talked but I just can't get my mind to wrap around the fact that well you know. Gabrielle (nodding then taking pity on her partner; she couldn't blame her totally; Xena had two things in her life she valued more than anything and that was her and Eve): Eve's a big girl and she can make her own decisions and if she needs us she'll come to us.
Xena (taking a deep breath): I know.
Gabrielle (leaning up and kissing Xena softly): I love you. And they're in love ok. So just leave it alone.
They walked back in the house where Xena did apologize but didn't say another word. It wasn't until the next morning she was repairing some tack that her and Varia got a chance to talk.
Varia (walking in the barn with some hand tools): Xena… Xena (stretching some leather strips out): Yes.
Varia (taking a deep breath): I'm sorry about so many things. I love Eve I think I did from the first time I saw her. Xena (nodding): It's hard trying to be a different person. I'm trying Varia for both of them.
Varia (softly): You would know.
Xena (understanding): Yeah I guess I would. Just please don't hurt her.
Varia (moving to the work bench): I won't I promise. Can I help? I never learned how to do this.
Xena (smiling): Yeah sure you see these pieces here well they need to be crisscrossed but remain flat so you can make the bridle (she went on explaining in detail on how to repair and make tack for horse riding.)
Eve and Gabrielle walked in the barn looking for the two of them and watched silently as the two dark haired women worked together. Eve (softly): It's a start.
Gabrielle (nodding and wrapping her arm around Eve's shoulder): Yep and it will only get better I promise.
Xena (hearing them): You can come away from the door way all the weapons are out of reach.
Varia (pounding the small tacks in just as Xena showed her): Xena this right?
Xena (picking up the piece and eyeing it): Yep except make this a little tighter and you've got a great piece of craftsmanship. Varia (putting it down and beginning on the next one; she never saw Eve playfully shove her mother aside but felt the strong arms wrap around her from behind): Um Eve… Eve (smiling): Yes Varia.
Xena watched the two younger women interact; she saw how happy they were and knew even if she tried she couldn't stop them and in truth she didn't want to.
Gabrielle (tugging gently on Xena's arm and leading her out of the barn): They're fine. They love each other and you know that you can't help who you fall in love with.
Xena (entwining her hand with Gabrielle's): True. I learned something today I think.
Gabrielle (looking up at her lover as they sat on the swing on the porch): And what is that (running her fingers through inky black tresses.)
Xena (softly): You might not turn out to be the person everyone expects you too nor can you help who you fall in love with. But you can try to be a better person for it.
Gabrielle (smiling): Well I think I rubbed off on you (leaning against her partner's strong shoulder.)
Xena (nodding): Among other things (smiling.) I love you.
Gabrielle (leaning up and kissing her softly): And I you. Come on let's go take a walk.
Together they walked down the path into the woods hand in hand. Four days later Gabrielle and Eve were standing by the porch watching their other halves ready the horses. Gabrielle (handing Eve a small wrapped bundle): Now you promise you'll be home in time for Solstice.
Eve (taking the bundle): Yes mom (laughing as Gabrielle playfully smacked her arm.) What did I do?
Gabrielle (shaking her head): You're as bad as your mother at times.
Xena and Varia came walking over talking about some weaponry or something.
Eve (hugging Gabrielle tightly): We'll be back in time for Solstice I promise.
Gabrielle (softly): You better be.
Varia reached out her arm to shake Xena's but was surprised when she was pulled into a tight hug.
Xena (softly in Varia's ear): You bring her back for Solstice; you need anything let us know.
Varia (nodding): I'll take care of her I promise. Gabrielle (patting Xena on the back and then hugging Varia): You better. Take care of yourself too ok.
Xena (kissing Eve's forehead): Just be careful ok. We'll see you come Solstice. (Hugging her partner to her she watched as Varia held Eve's horse while she mounted then mounted her own. They turned toward the road waved and were gone.
Gabrielle (hugging her partner tightly): Come on inside I'll make us some tea. (She knew Xena harbored regrets about not raising Eve but it wasn't her fault.) Xena she'll be fine.
Xena (watching the road that her daughter and Varia road out on): I just wish sometimes things would have been different with her. But I treasure the moments we have together.
Gabrielle (smiling): Like the day before you two came in covered in mud and smelling like never mind. It's ok Xena I understand. She turned out alright though (getting a nod from her partner they walked into the house together.)
I wanted to write things down. So much has changed. Xena and Varia seem to have come to an understanding and Eve is happy. I'm happy for the both of them. They have both seen so much pain in their young lives. I had to give Xena something to help her sleep. It is at times like this that she lets go of her emotions and becomes so vulnerable. I held her while she cried. The tears she cried were for Solon; for Eve and I know partially for me. I grew up on the road with her. A road I look back on with no regret only fond memories. True we had some rough times but they helped in making us who we are and as long as I am beside her I don't care where this life leads. I'm looking forward to our first of many Solstices' here. One I know that will be filled with joy and hope.
Xena (walking in): Sorry but I woke up and you weren't in bed so I came in here.
Gabrielle (putting her scroll and quill down on the desk Xena had made for her): It's ok. I'm just getting ready to go back to bed. Come on I need my beauty sleep.
Xena (picking her partner in her arms): No ya don't (kissing her gently.)
Gabrielle tightened her hold on her lover and leaned against her chest. They had come a long way from those first few days outside of Amphipolis. She never knew if she did something wrong if Xena would send her home. But the days turned into months and the months turned into years and neither of them ever separated for long. They were meant to be.
Gabrielle (leaning back on the bed): Xena thank you.
Xena (crawling into bed): For (softly.)
Gabrielle (leaning over and kissing Xena): Allowing me to come with you; changing my life and for loving me.
Xena (smiling): And I thank you. You taught me about love and friendship.
They moved into each other's arms holding tightly to the one constant they had. They were home and both knew somehow that they were always meant to be.
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