Disclaimer: See Part 1
If you wish to send them to me, my email is jacklavigne13@hotmail .com
I set up camp not far from the Amazon village, in a small but beautiful clearing. My mind was racing with thoughts of Gabrielle. I couldn't help but wonder how she was reacting to my being here. I knew that Alexandria would have told her that I'd camped outside the nation, not wanting to complicate things for my ex lover while also giving her the opportunity to find me if she wanted to talk to me privately. Was she happy that I had come? Or was she angry that I dared to show my face at her wedding? Did she want to see me or would she prefer that I keep my distance? Part of me wanted to run into the village and sweep her off her feet, but instead I hid in the dark forest, waiting until it was time for the Amazon's to start serving dinner.
I sat by my camp fire, staring into the flames for hours just thinking. It wasn't until the sun had almost completely descended before I heard someone making their way towards my camp. It could have been a large number of different people, knowing that the Amazon's were brilliant trackers and could easily follow my trail. But secretly I hoped that Gabrielle had decided to seek me out.
When the footsteps got closer, I knew immediately who it was. They were making noise deliberetly, letting me know they were coming but the step was too light still to be anyone else but Alexandria. I turned my head to watch as she finally stepped into the clearing, smiling happily when she saw me. I returned her smile, happy to see her even if I had been hoping to see someone else.
"Even though I love this plan of yours, Xe, you should have stayed in the village," Alexandria grinned as she sat down on the ground beside me. "Those Amazon beds are just so comfortable."
I laughed at my friend's words, remembering the arguement we had when we last visited the Amazon village. It wasn't one of my happier memories, but we were past that now. I was happy that Alexandria had been able to forgive me after everything I put her through. And even more grateful for what she tried to do for me, and what she was doing for me now.
"Is it time for dinner then?" I asked Alexandria.
"It is," she nodded, turning to face me. She had an encouraging smile on her face, knowing that despite my confident mask, inside my stomach was twisting with nerves.
"How is she?" I asked softly, half dreading and half excited for the answer.
"Gabrielle is Gabrielle," Alexandria replied, her voice equally soft. "On the outside, she looks completely calm. But on the inside, i'm pretty sure she's a complete mess. She smiled when I told her that you were out here."
"Did she now?" I couldn't help but grin at the thought of Gabrielle being happy to see me.
"For about a millisecond, yes," Alexandria's grin mirrored mine, with a little bit of mischief. "But it was definetly there."
I laughed as I scooped up a large handful of dirt and quickly extinguished my camp fire. Alexandria stood up and I took the hand she offered as she pulled me up too. We stared into each others eyes for several moments, silently conversing with one another. She squeezed my hand gently and gave me another encouraging smile before turning around and walking back into the forest, pulling me behind her.
The trip to the Amazon village was a silent one, both of us lost in our own thoughts. Every now and then, Alexandria would squeeze my hand which she still held tightly in her own and I would smile at her gratefully. I was so thankful that she was there for me and I sent a quick thanks to whichever God had sent me such a good friend.
It wasn't long before we were at the village gates and I was nodding towards the Amazon's on guard. They must have known that I was here because none of them looked surprised to see me. The village was quite empty when we entered and I guessed that everyone was in the dining hall so we walked in that direction. My breathing became more eratic with every step as we got closer and closer to the place where the woman I loved more than life itself was eating her dinner.
With her new wife to be, I thought to myself sadly. Alexandria must have sensed my sudden mood change because she looked at me curiously as we finally stopped outside the doors to the dining hall.
"You ready?" She asked me softly, giving my hand another firm squeeze.
"As ready as i'll ever be."
She nodded and started to pull her hand away but I held onto it tightly. She gave me a look but seemed to understand as she turned towards the doors and pushed them open and we quickly stepped inside. The noise stopped almost immediately when we entered, but with a quick glare from Alexandria and myself, the chatter slowly started up once more. My eyes scanned the room and I recognised many faces from my years of travelling and my stays in the Amazon village.
It only took seconds for my eyes to meet hers and I swear my heart stopped. She was staring right at me, nodding absently to the woman speaking to her from across the table. Her eyes held so much as emotion as we stared at each other and I could do nothing but give her a weak smile and a small shrug. My gaze drifted to the woman besides her who was also staring at me, but her eyes held much more anger than those of my ex lover's. I recognised her instantly and I knew that she was Miranda, Gabrielle's consort.
My menacing glare was cut short as I felt Alexandria tug on my arm as she started to pull me towards a table. I looked towards Gabrielle once more but found that she was now deep in conversation with her lover and it broke my heart. I could see from just a quick glance that they weren't having a happy conversation. Gabrielle's forehead was creased with a frown and her hands were clenched on the table as she spoke to her partner and it took everything I had not to go over there and wrap my hands around Miranda's neck.
Once more I was pulled from my thoughts as I was pushed down into a seat. I smiled at Alexandria who sat down besides me before looking around the large table I had been seated at. I found myself surrounded by familiar faces and I couldn't help it when my smile widened. On the other side of me was my mother and my daughter, who were both already eating happily and around the rest of the table were many of my friends. The rest of the table consisted of Eponin, Solari, Hercules, Iolous, Autolycus, Joxer, Meg, Minya, Amarice, Tara, Meleager, Princess Diana and her husband and child.
I greeted everyone, exhanging pleasantries as Alexandria served us both up some food. She had already been introduced to the people she hadn't already met and they all seemed to like her immensly. She put my plate down in front of my as she spoke to Joxer and Meg, her other hand resting on my forearm as she talked. I glanced at her out of the corner of my eye and smiled at how we always fell naturally into acting like a married couple despite the truth. I wondered for a moment if anyone else noticed but decided I didn't really care. They could all think what they wanted.
I ate my food happily, listening to my daughter rambling about her day in the Amazon village enthusiastically. I could feel eyes on my back but I resisted turning around. I couldn't be sure if it was Gabrielle looking at me or her partner and I didn't want to risk it. My mood was much to good to have it ruined by the woman sleeping with my soulmate.
Dinner passed quickly and I was surprised at how tired I actually was. With my belly full, I watched as my friends left the table and returned to their huts, one by one. Soon, it was only Alexandria and I left as my mother had taken my sleepy daughter to bed moments before, both of them tired after the week of travelling. We sat at the table quietly, both of us nursing a mug of port and sensing the eyes that were watching us. The room was fairly empty now with only a few Amazon's left but I knew Gabrielle was still there. I could feel her.
"How long do you think it will take?" Alexandria asked softly as she stared into her mug.
"I'm not sure," I mused, closing my eyes as I leant back in my chair. I knew exactly what she was waiting for, for I had been waiting for it since I had entered the room. "Maybe I should just return to my camp for the night."
"Without even saying hello?" Alexandria said as she turned towards me, her eyes questioning. "Wouldn't that be rude? I mean, you are in her village, for her wedding. You should at least go and say hello."
I sighed softly, staring into the midnight blue eyes of my friend. "Obviously she isn't interested in me being here, Alex. If Gabrielle wanted to speak to me or see me, even just to say hello, she would j-"
I cut off my sentence as we heard footsteps coming towards us. Alexandria glanced quickly over her shoulder before turning back to the table, a small grin tugging at her lips.
My heart was pounding painfully in my chest, searching for an escape as I slowly turned around in my seat to face my ex lover. She was looking down at me emotionlessly with her arms crossed over her chest and she was breathtaking. I swallowed, my hand gripping my mug of port tightly as I forced a smile onto my face.
"Hello, Gabrielle," I managed to say quite calmly and I saw Alexandria give an approving nod from the corner of my eye. "It's nice to see you. You look good."
"Yes. Nice," Gabrielle muttered, her eyes darting between Alexandria and I. Alexandria seemed to take the hint as she looked up from her drink before standing up so fast that her chair almost fell over.
"Well, it's been a big week," Alexandria said as she stretched, her arms reaching high over her head. "It's been a wonderful day, Gabrielle, thank you. Xena, you know where I am."
I barely had time to nod before Alexandria quickly walked away and darted out of the dining hall. I slowly looked back up into Gabrielle's eyes, which had lost most of their indifference and were now filled with emotion.
"I didn't think you would come," she said to me softly, her eyes staring into mine. I wanted desperately to pull her into my arms and tell her I'd never leave if she'd have me, but I stopped myself.
"I didn't have much of a choice," I smiled, my eyes glancing towards the door before back to Gabrielle. She seemed to understand and returned my smile and a small nod of her head. There was several moments of silence as we just gazed at one another before I decided it was time to leave before the silence became awkward.
"Well," I said, standing up slowly. "It's been a long week and I think I'll return to camp for the night."
"You don't have to do that, you know," she said quickly, her hand reaching out to touch my forearm. "I know this is... weird, but you can stay in the village. I don't mind, really."
I smiled at her, slightly surprised at her offer but I then realised that this was Gabrielle I was talking to. She was always so kind, despite the pain people put her through. I rested my hand over hers for a moment before removing it and shaking my head.
"I think it would be better if I just stayed outside the village," I said and we both knew it was the truth.
"Well, if you need anything..."
"I know," I grinned at her and she smiled back. We stared at each other for another moment before I shook my head again, and stepped towards the door.
To Be Continued
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