I know what I have to do. I have to leave. Now. This won’t wait until dawn. If morning comes and I’m still here... I know she’ll talk me out of it, the same way she has many times before. Too many times actually.
Gabrielle checked to make sure her sais were in place and with her old satchel in one hand and her bedroll under her arm she walked out of the camp they set up at the beach that evening. Only thing she left behind was a parchment. Scribed inside was a simple statement, ‘I love you, Xena, but my life has no place in yours any longer. I see that now. Goodbye and good luck.’
The chatty bard has finally become the stoic warrior, Gabrielle thought bittersweetly as she had placed the scroll beside Xena.
But there’s no need to ramble on. She knows. She’s known for quite sometime now where things were heading, but she did nothing to stop it.
And Eve... if she’s not the spiting image of BOTH her mothers... How many times did I wish I had the power to creating another human being with the great warrior princess? How many? 1000? 2000? The honor, however, went to Callisto, the woman that killed my husband... Xena has her daughter alright and I played no part whatsoever.
No, Xena didn’t acknowledge that I had a place in Eve’s life. I spent months defending that child, laying my life down for that child, gave her my rite of caste. And what did Xena do? She scoffed at my every attempt in trying to create a family... She said we got OUR daughter back today. But today was just a little too late... Today, like many days this past year, was a living Hell. I can’t live in Hell any longer.
Gabrielle continued her journey down the beach lost in her thoughts.
I should have left sooner. I should have left in Egypt. Her attraction to Antony was almost more than I could handle. And her betrayal of him... well, let’s just say it didn’t seem all that different than what Caesar had done to her years before - winning her affections and stabbing her in the back. If Caesar was evil for doing that, what did that make Xena? Maybe Najara was right... In fact, maybe I should have left then; made Najara see the err of her ways and build a life together with her instead.
As Gabrielle continued to walk, she saw another figure heading toward her on the beach. She picked up her pace and within a few 100 yards she recognized the figure.
And just when I couldn’t feel any worse.
"Hello, Gabrielle. How’s the head?"
Are you really up for chitchat now, Gabrielle?
"Fine," she replied. "I didn’t get the chance to thank you earlier. You didn’t have to heal me too, but you did." Gabrielle looked at the former god of war and began to grin. Look at that. He’s blushing. Ha ahh.
Ares played nervously with the scruff on his face.
"Yeah, well ... You and Xena are a package deal and I accept that now. In fact, I think it sounds pretty damn interesting."
Oh jeez, Gabrielle thought as she watched Ares’ mind going off... imagining... well... she didn’t want to know precisely what he was imaging, but she had a fair assumption of what Ares found ‘interesting’. She wasn’t going to stick around to find out more.
"Hold up," he shouted and began to walk after her. "Where are you going?"
"Yeah, but you're coming back, right?"
"No. I'm leaving."
"Leaving for good? Just like that? Does Xena know?"
"She’ll learn soon enough. Especially when you go back there, fall on one knee and propose. She’s gotta thing for bad boys Ares, but between you and I, I don’t think Xena’s the marrying kind. You’ll just have to make do as her love toy - the position is official open now."
It took a lot to stun the now mortal god of war, but he looked truly mystified as Gabrielle continued along the beach.
"Wait a minute," he called jogging up after her. Gabrielle stopped again releasing a long sigh. "You can’t just walk away."
"Yes, I can," Gabrielle countered. "Watch me."
"Hey," he said as he grabbed her arm halting any movement. "Look I’m not good at these sensitive chat things... Where’s Dite when I need her?" he muttered under his breath.
Gabrielle and Ares turned to see a glittering shower quickly transform into the Goddess of Love.
"I’ve been following you for awhile, Ares. You look pretty pathetic by the way," she jabbed.
"Can we put the sib rivalry on hold a moment here?" he asked.
Aphrodite cocked her head and examined Ares. He was actually being... sincere.
"What’s up?" she asked taking a new interest in the conversation.
"She’s leaving Xena," he stated flatly looking for support.
"I don’t blame her," was the response. Ares eyes widened and Gabrielle pointed to Dite in a ‘See? She agrees’ manner.
"Thank you," Gabrielle nodded to Aphrodite. "I’ll be on my way now."
"If you go, it will kill Xena," Ares argued.
Gabrielle continued on her way as she spoke with the siblings who were following her. "Xena’s a strong woman. She hasn’t needed me for sometime now. I, however, will die if I stay with her. You can only survive so many chakrams to the head before you realize enough is enough."
"She was protecting Eve," Ares argued.
Protecting Eve my ASS!
"I noticed you didn’t get an open head wound for going after Eve so don’t give me that shit, Ares! I don’t believe it for a second!"
Gabrielle picked up the pace while the two of them continued to follow.
"That was different," she heard Ares whine behind her.
"How so?" Gabrielle countered as she spun around.
Ares immediately looked to Dite, hoping she’d toss him a line. The goddess just folded her arms and smirked.
"We’re waiting," Dite ribbed her brother.
Ares ran his fingers through his hair in frustration.
"Women!" he yelled. Gabrielle slapped him in the chest with the back of her hand as they heard the noise vibrate through the area.
"Keep it down. You’ll wake her up," Gabrielle said pointing back to the camp.
Ares got a glimmer in his eyes and Gabrielle regretted putting the idea in his head. She pulled her sais as Ares took a deep breath to yell again.
"Do it and your life as a mortal will be reallllly short."
Dite stepped between them, placing a hand on each of their shoulders. "Settle down boys and girls. Nobody’s gonna start yelling like a child for their warrior princess and nobody is gonna slit the throat of an ex-god, okay? Sheesh!"
"She started it," Ares muttered like a spoiled child.
"This is so idiotic," Gabrielle sighed. "Can I go now?" she asked Dite.
"Look," Dite began speaking to Gabrielle, "I don’t blame you for wanting to leave. There have been many times lately when she’s barely acknowledged you. There have been times when she’s been... less than attentive-."
"Less than attentive? She was willing to walk away from me because I wanted to rule a village and all because she was ‘bored’. Another amazon wanted to be her new ‘sidekick’ and Xena took advantage of that by turning her into a maid for the afternoon, all the while misleading me into thinking she wanted to settle down with me. You call that less than attentive!"
"No. I call that stupid." All three of them turned around to see Xena standing in her battle dress, armorless. "I can’t deny I did all those things. But I also read your scrolls as I had promised. And I came to my senses and realized... I need you in my life."
"You might need me, but you don’t want me," Gabrielle argued. "I don’t think a ‘needy’ relationship is best for either of us, Xena. I want a lover who WANTS me in her life and frankly I’ve felt like a nuisance. I’m tired of feeling like I’m asking too much of you. I’m tired that every attempt I make to get closer is seen as trying to control you or manipulate you. I’m tired of watching you and Eve and feeling like an outsider... That’s a terrible way to live. I can’t live that way any longer."
"We can change things-."
"You said that after we left the amazons remember?... What did I get in return? Huh? A ringside seat to watch you fuck Antony and a chakram upside the head? Pardon me if I’m a little leery with the ‘change things’ attitude. It’s been months, Xena, and nothing’s changed."
"I don’t want you to leave," Xena said trying to step closer.
"It wouldn’t matter if I left," Gabrielle retorted. "That’s the problem. My exist... it doesn’t mean much when it comes to your future."
"Gabrielle, you’re my soulmate," Xena tired in a final attempt.
"We WERE soulmates. But we haven’t been soulmates in a very long time. Apparently souls can have a change of heart too... Goodbye, Xena."
Don’t do it. Don’t start crying now. Just turn and walk away. Keep walking. That’s it. Keep walking. Left. Right. Left. Right. Left. Right...
Xena imploringly looked at Dite for help, but the goddess showed no sign that she would intervene. Xena realized she’d sealed her own fate and all the potions and spells and arrows weren’t going to change that fact. Besides she’d always wanted the bard's love and not an illusion.
"I’m sorry," Dite offered sincerely before transporting away in a flash of light.
The wind picked up, leaving Xena and Ares alone on the beach. Finally, Ares spoke, "Mind if I camp with you tonight? I’m kind of stuck for a place to stay and I’m not quite sure where I’m going from here."
Xena grinned bitter-sweetly.
"Come on." She motioned him to follow her. "That makes two of us."