Xena awoke in the middle of the night to the sound of her hut door opening quietly. She squeezed her eyes closed, remember the last time this happened, over two years ago. To Tartarus with you, Gabrielle, she thought to herself angrily as she heard the soft footsteps cross the room. Why couldn't this woman just listen to her? Didn't she understand that she had a lover? A woman that she cared for deeply. She didn't want to hurt Alexandria, but as she heard Gabrielle stop besides her bed, she knew she wouldn't be able to resist her. She knew, despite everything, that she still loved her.
"Gabrielle, please," She whispered, her voice cracking. She didn't dare open her eyes, knowing she'd be lost if she gazed into those emerald green orbs that she loved so much. She desperately hoped that Gabrielle could hear the plea in her voice, whether it was to leave, or to join her, Xena didn't know.
"Well, that wasn't what I expected." A low voice rumbled, full of hurt.
Xena's eyes flew open, looking up at the woman that was bathed in moonlight beside her bed. It wasn't Gabrielle, as she had expected.
"Alexandria," Xena choked out, sitting up quickly as her lover stepped away from the bed, crossing her muscular arms over her chest. "Alex, it's not what it sounds like."
"Oh?" The red headed woman asked emotionlessly, though Xena could see the pain in the woman's midnight blue eyes.
"Alex, I, I," Xena stuttered, her mouth opening and closing as she tried to find the words to explain to her lover.
"Save it," Alexandria replied, raising her hands as if to ward off an attack. She blinked her eyes rapidly, willing the tears not to fall. She had planned this, but it still hurt more than she could have imagined. "It's okay, Xena. I understand, but I need to leave now, okay?"
Xena watched in horror as Alexandria turned away from her, pulling the robe she was wearing tightly around her body as she hurriedly made her way to the door. This couldn't be happening. How had she so quickly ruined another relationship? How had she betrayed this woman that loved her so much, when she swore she never would? She was supposed to have changed! She was supposed to have given up her old ways. She wasn't able to for Gabrielle two years ago and she lost her. She wasn't about to let that happen again.
"Alex, wait!" She said, climbing from her cot and following the red headed woman to the door. She resisted the urge to flinch when Alexandria turned her head and looked at her through pain filled eyes. "Alexandria, I'm sorry. I need to be honest with you. I thought when I heard you come in here that you were Gabrielle, because earlier this evening, she visited me to say goodnight."
"Something happened," Alexandria said softly, more of a statement than a question.
Alexandria turned away from her lover, her heart shattering in her chest. By the Gods, she does still love her. She closed her eyes, forcing herself to remain calm despite the heartbreaking sadness and anger rising inside of her. She had planned this. She had planned to break her own heart so that Xena could truly be happy. A small part of her though, had hoped that maybe Xena had moved on from Gabrielle and loved her now instead.
"I can't do this again," Alexandria whispered, her voice trembling. "I can't watch you fall into someone else's arms again. I love you, Xena, I always will, but I need to go."
"Please," Xena pleaded, reaching out to grab Alexandria's hand as it reached for the door. "Alexandria, don't do this. I love you."
"No, you don't!" The red headed woman growled, turning around to face her lover. Her midnight blue eyes blazed with anger as she ripped her hand from Xena's grasp. "Stop lying to me, Xena, and stop lying to yourself! You don't love me. You want to love me because it hurts less than loving Gabrielle. But that's what love is! It hurts, but at the end of the day, it's worth it. You can't turn to someone else when things get hard. You need to stop running away, Xena. Gabrielle loves you, she has never stopped loving you. You're just to scared of getting hurt again to realise that you still love her too."
"Alexandria, I made a mistake, that's all it was. It was a mistake," Xena said softly, her eyes pleading with her lover to believe her, while her heart screamed that she was a liar. "Please, don't leave. We can work this out, I know we can. We have to work this out, because I'm not ready to lose you. Stay with me tonight. Stay with me and tomorrow, we can talk about this. Stay with me, please."
Alexandria gazed into her lover's ocean blue eyes, considering the woman's words. Her mind was begging her to turn away. Don't listen to this, Alexandria. It will only hurt more if you stay. Just turn away and leave. Leave and don't look back. But as her mind pleaded with her to go, her heart urged her to stay. Stay with the woman she loved more than her own life, even if it hurt. Because despite all the pain and heartache of staying with her tonight, only to maybe lose her tomorrow, it would hurt more to walk away now.
"Okay," Alexandria whispered, her voice barely audible over the screaming in her head. She watched as Xena breathed a sigh of relief before pulling the red headed woman into her strong embrace.
"Thank you," Xena said as she pulled her lover to her bed before lying down and pulling Alexandria into her arms. She wrapped her arms around her partner's waist, pulling her back against her chest as she buried her hair in the woman's short red hair. "Thank you."
A few hours before dawn, Xena awoke once more as her hut door opened. She felt her heart ache in her chest as she pulled her lover closer to her before turning her eyes to the figure in her doorway. Pale blue met emerald green and Xena pleaded the woman with her eyes to leave. She could see the pain in Gabrielle's eyes as she looked down at her body, entwined with Alexandria's. She wanted to tell the bard that she was sorry but instead she turned away, burying her face once more in her lover's hair and inhaling her scent.
She felt her heart break as she heard the door close once more as Gabrielle left and quietly, she sobbed into her lover's dark red hair as she felt the other half of her soul leave with the bard.
To be continued in Chapter Nine.
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