Summary: Gabrielle is hurt over the relationship between Xena and Marc Antony, and can't stand to be around her lover any longer. Will she leave Xena forever, or will Xena find a way to win her back?
Disclaimer: See Part 1
Comments are very much appreciated.
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Enjoy the show! Or so to speak.
It had been just over a month and a half of hard travel. The sun had shown me no mercy once I set foot in Greece and my shoulders ached with the burn they had recieved, but I paid it no attention as I rode into my hometown of Amphipolis. I was finally home, and for the first time since Gabrielle had left me, I felt something other than pain. A small ray of joy broke through my darkness and flickered life into my broken heart. I could feel my daughter's warmth from the moment I flew through the gates of the city I was birthed in. A smile lit up my features and shone brilliantly as I galloped the last few feet towards my mother's inn. Swinging my leg over the saddle, I slid off Argo, handing the reins to the stable boy and gave the horse a quick pat on her neck before striding up the steps of my childhood home. I burst through the door, almost swinging it off it's hinges in my excitement to see my daughter and scanned the room for the dark haired woman that would lead me to my child.
I found my mother behind the bar, gazing at me in shock at my sudden arrival, before the older woman smiled happily and strode towards me, engulfing me in a bone crushing hug. I returned the embrace, squeezing the air from Cyrene's lungs in my happiness to be home. For the first time in almost two moons, I was glad to be alive.
"Xena," Cyrene gasped, pulling away from her daughter and looking up into the pale blue eyes that were so much like her own. "It's so good to see you."
"It's good to see you too, Mom," I replied, gazing around the room impatiently once more. "Where's Evie? I've missed her terribly."
"She's in your room, come on," Cyrene smiled warmly, taking her daughters hand and leading her towards the stairs. She froze mid step and I almost slammed into her back at the sudden stop. She turned around quickly and glanced behind me, frowning before letting go of my hand and walking to the entrance of the inn. She looked out into the darkness, her eyes searching, before turning back towards me, confusion etched into her features.
"Where is she?"
My heart plummeted and my happiness at being home to see my mother and daughter vanished. My shoulders slumped in defeat and I averted my eyes from the woman who gave me life. I couldn't bear to see the dissapointment in her eyes when she realised what I done, and what it had cost me. Suddenly, the thought of being home to see Eve made me feel empty. The moment wouldn't be perfect without my lover by my side. Gods, how I missed her.
"Where is she, Xena?" My mother repeated as she walked towards me slowly. "Where is Gabrielle?"
I swallowed, trying to force the lump in my throat down as I desperately tried to think up a reasonable lie to tell my mother. How could I tell her that Gabrielle had left me? How could I tell her that my daughter had lost one of her mother's because of my stupidity? Gabrielle was the only reason I had even managed to mend the relationship I had with my mother, without her what would happen?
Who are you kidding? I thought to myself angrily. Gabrielle is the only reason you have anything in this life. If not for her, you wouldn't even be here, you would have died long ago without her by your side. You wouldn't have your mother, you wouldn't have any friends, and you sure as Hell wouldn't have Eve.
"She's...I..." I stuttered, avoiding the piercing blue gaze that was somehow holding me in place.
"She left you."
I looked at my mother in suprise, before sighing and dropping my head, nodding. I listened as my mother made her way towards me, half expecting to be slapped in the face, and completely shocked when she pulled me into her arms. That was it, the final wall came tumbling down and my cold mask of indifference shattered right there in my mother's embrace. I burst into tears, my chest heaving with sobs as I cried in the middle of my childhood home, not caring about the eyes that stared at me from around the dining room. My chest burned from lack of air and the tears never seemed to stop as my mother whispered soothing words into my ear, leading me towards the stairs and away from her customers.
I didn't even notice we had moved until I found myself in my old bedroom, sitting on the cot in the corner, still wrapped in my mothers arms.
"She's gone, Mom," I hiccuped pathetically. "She's really gone."
"I know, honey," my mother said softly, stroking my hair like she used to when I was a child. "I was wondering when this would happen, to be honest."
I pulled away from her abrubtly, gazing at her with eyes full of hurt at her harsh words. I couldn't deny it though, I had been wondering the same thing for years.
"That came out all wrong," Cyrene muttered, rubbing her forehead before smiling weakly at her daughter. "I didn't mean it like that, dear. And I don't mean to be hurtful, but I had to admit, I was expecting something like this to happen between you eventually. You are both very strong, independant women, and with the distance that has come between you lately..."
Cyrene let the rest of her sentence drop into silence, gazing sadly at her heartbroken daughter. Now that she looked closer at her, she could see the distress the woman was in, her eyes held such a deep pain in them, the dark circles underneath showing her lack of sleep. And her leather and armour hung loosly on her thin body.
"It's okay, Mum," I replied, smiling sadly. "I know. Nothing has been right between us lately, and after our last mission, I gave her no reason to want to stay with me. I just miss her so much."
I could feel the tears well in my eyes once more, but before they could fall, a loud cry broke the silence of the room.
"Eve," I whispered, standing up quickly and striding towards the cradle in the far corner of the room that I had passed by unnoticed in my misery when I had entered.
I smiled as I gazed down at my daughter. I hadn't realised how much I had truly missed her until this moment. I gently traced my fingertips over her cheek before reaching out and gently picking her up and pulling her into my embrace. She was somehow even more beautiful than before I left for Egypt. Her raven coloured hair was longer than before, falling into her pale eyes, and she was so much bigger. I held her tightly against my body, cradling her in my arms as I rocked her back and forth in an attempt to soothe her.
"Hey baby," I crooned softly, leaning down to press a gentle kiss to my daugher's forehead. "Don't cry, Momma's home. I got you."
I continued to whisper words of love to her, until her cries ceased and she was asleep once more in my arms. Turning back towards my mother, I gave her a watery smile, recieving a warm one in return. I had my daughter, and for a moment, the emptiness in my heart was filled with my complete love for her. I closed my eyes against the pain of not sharing this moment with my soulmate, unconciously pulling Eve closer to my chest.
"Everything will be all right," I heard my mother's soft voice, cracking with emotion. "You have your daughter, and eventually, Gabrielle will come home. She loves you, both of you."
I could only nod, my throat tight as I fought against the screaming in my head, telling me that nothing would ever be alright as long as my lover was gone. And I desperately hoped that my mother was right, and that she would return, if not for me, then for our daughter.
The next few weeks went by slowly, as I spent most of my time with Eve and my mother. I had hoped that being home would help with the pain I felt over the loss of Gabrielle's love, but it didn't. There were moments when I was so content with Eve, that I almost forgot that my bard wasn't there with me, but then I would turn to speak to her, and I'd find myself alone. It was even worse at night while I laid in bed, Eve sleeping peacefully in her crib. I missed her strong arms around me, holding me as I fell asleep, and soothing me when I woke from my nightmares. I missed whispering to her in the dark, telling her how much I loved her, and making love under the stars.
The feeling of being completely alone was almost overwhelming, and most nights I cried myself to sleep, praying to whatever Gods were left that they would return her to me. On the outside, I was the epitome of calm and indifference, but on the inside, I was a mess. The shattered remains of my heart ached, and my soul felt broken and battered to the point of no return. I threw myself into helping my mother out with the Inn in a desperate attempt to quench my thirst for her love. I fixed the roof, repaired every piece of broken furniture, served customers their meals, and even sat on the stage and sang to the crowd a few times. But nothing could help me forget Gabrielle.
This morning, I had been returning to the inn after a hunting trip in the forest surrounding Amphipolis, and walked by a man on the edge of town filling his wagon with possessions. I frowned, repositioning the deer that was slung over my shoulder, and watched the man curiously.
"Thatcher," I called the man's name, watching as he started, fumbling with the vase he held in his hands before turning towards me. "Where are you going?"
"To Athens," he replied, smiling at me brightly. "My son got accepted into the Academy of Bards there, so we're leaving."
I felt my heart throb painfully in my chest, closing my eyes against the flash of aguish that gripped me at the reminder of my soulmate, before smiling weakly at the dark haired man.
"Oh? What are you going to do with your house?"
He frowned, turning away from me and gazing at the small cottage. It was nothing special, simple wood and stone, with a small garden by the front door. A thought buried itself in my mind, and I couldn't help the small smile that slid onto my lips.
"My house?" Thatcher mused, setting his vase down on the wagon and rubbing his chin thoughtfully. "To be honest, I hadn't really thought of it. It's not worth much. Why, are you looking for a place, Xena?"
I shrugged uncaringly, letting my gaze roam over the cottage in indifference. It would be perfect for Eve and I, a nice place to settle down, and what was left of my heart started to beat faster with excitement.
"Not really," I replied in a bored tone, showing none of the thoughts racing through my mind in my expression. "I could take it off your hands if you want, but I don't have much."
Thatcher smiled at me, shrugging slightly as he picked up a wooden chair, and placed it into his wagon, before grabbing a rope to tie everything down.
"Like I said, it's not worth much, and I'm in a good mood today, consider it yours, free of charge."
I could only raise an eyebrow at his words. I was shocked at the man's kindness, and I couldn't help the grin that took over my face.
"Thatcher, I couldn't," I said, dropping the deer on the ground and walking towards him. "It's worth something, you started your family here."
"Xena," he laughed, his brown eyes twinkling as he gazed at me. "You've done enough for this village in the past few years, it's time we give you something back. It's only a house, and I don't need it, or your money. You have a daughter now, you need somewhere to start a life with your own family. It's yours."
She had practically skipped home after giving the man an unexpected hug, feeling excited about something for the first time in moons. She spent the rest of the day filling the house with spare furniture that her mother had given her from the inn. It wasn't much: a bed, a cradle for Eve, a couple of chairs and a table, but the house already had a fireplace and a stove, and she could build whatever else they needed.
She smiled in the darkness of her new home as she laid upon the bed. Everything was starting to change, just as she had planned. If only Gabrielle could see her now...
Her eyes narrowed and she released a soft sigh of frustration as she heard the front door open quietly, before soft footsteps made their way across the living room floor.
I knew I should have fixed the lock on the front door before I went to sleep, She thought to herself, remaining in bed as the footsteps stopped outside her bedroom door. The first night here, and there's already someone breaking in.
She listened as the door creaked open, inch by inch, turning her head slightly and gazing at the shadow as it entered the room. Ever so slowly, she reached for the dagger underneath her pillow, and as her fingers grasped the hilt, the figure stepped into the soft moonlight that filtered through the small window besides the door.
She couldn't hold back the soft gasp as the emerald orbs connected with her own pale blue, sending a lightning bolt through her body and warming her immediately. She held the dagger loosly in her grip, her mouth agape as she stared at the woman in the middle of her bedroom."Hi Xena," Gabrielle whispered.
To Be Continued In Part Five
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