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A short conversation between a halfgod and a warrior princess.
"She's taking it badly."
"I thought she might. They were close, probably closer than either of us imagined."
"He mentioned her often."
"And she him - until the last time we were together in Thrace. When we all parted she hardly spoke of him at all. I thought she was finally getting over her crush. Or maybe they'd argued. But it didn't seem like it."
"I know. I saw it too. The way they held onto each other. For awhile there I didn't think we'd get them apart. It was as if they ..."
It then struck them at the same time.
So obvious really.
"My poor Gabrielle."
I don't think anyone will understand because I don't really understand it myself. I knew when he died.
We were traveling, Xena and I, and as we walked I felt it - an emotion, a dread so raw I hardly knew what to think. It pierced my heart, just as the dagger did it's job on my beloved.
Xena thought little of my change - only that I was still trying to get over our experiences with Hope and Dahak. She knew and still knows that I am searching for something. A peace, perhaps even a spirituality, which has escaped me.
I'm growing up in so many ways, the little girl I once was disappearing into an abyss where she may never return. But I almost came back to myself in Thrace so many months ago.
Hercules and Iolaus were there and we ran into them quite by accident. A street fight, of course. Xena and myself against twenty men. We were badly outmatched, but I've seen Xena accomplish a miracle, one woman against an army.
Still, I was nervous until I heard his voice and saw the golden sheen of his tousled hair. He'd come to me before this way. Showing up just at the perfect moment. It was a talent of his.
We fought and we celebrated.
With the four of us, the warlord and his minions did not have a chance.
We spent three glorious days together, the four of us - and I spent time with him. We talked, joked, told stories and played....and we made love.
It happened so suddenly -- or no. NOT suddenly. We were holding each other close as he was preparing to say goodnight. Then, unexpectedly we were in a passionate embrace. He was hesitant to carry it further, fearing what, I'm not sure. Damaging my innocence? An irrevocable truth? We talked afterwards, holding one another close.
I didn't want to speak of it. I wasn't ready. I loved him dearly and we established something between us that night - but I also knew that Iolaus was ready to settle down even if he wasn't certain of that fact himself. He wanted a wife and children and if he couldn't have it with me it would be with someone else. He didn't say this to me - he wouldn't - and I'm sure it never occurred to him until that moment ... in Sumeria ... when she held him in her embrace.
Me - I needed to roam a little longer. Something was out there beckoning me.
There was time - I thought.
I was such a fool. I couldn't see his yearning.
Nebula apparently did.
Those words he said to me so long ago, how you always think there is time to speak what's in your heart to the person you love, came back to me. Iolaus was referring of Xena at the time, when we thought her dead and gone from us forever, but now -- it's him -- and those words were never so true.
If only I could go back.
If I can only tell him how much I love him and of the agony I felt when we parted.
How could I know it was going to be forever?
Now there are only tears, grief, loneliness -- and guilt.
The love of my life is gone and I have come to a irreversible conclusion. If I hadn't been selfish he would still be alive. His death is my fault. If I had held onto him, not allowing him to leave ... if I had agreed to be there for him ... if I had become his bride, the mother of his children ...Iolaus would still be alive.
Yet, even as I think these horrible things I understand something more: Had Iolaus stayed with me, the sacrifice of his warrior heart would have gone to another and we may now be living in a world dominated by Dahak. An evil so devastating could we, any of us in the world, be truly content?
What's done is done.
I will survive.
Perhaps some day I will look back on this and it will make sense; my heart won't break at the thought of his warm blue eyes, golden hair and those lips that were so sweet as they pressed mine.
Now it's time to move on - and be a strong, brave hero.
He watches over me.
(Feb. 2, 1999)