The Path You Were Meant To Be On
This story takes place before the Xena series begins.
Disclaimer: Xena, Gabrielle, Ares, Aphrodite and the others are the property of StudioUSA. I just borrowed them for a short time.
Sex: None, but there are references to same sex desires.
Violence: Some references, nothing graphic.
Gabrielle walked along the brook, thinking to herself. She kicked at the loose rocks in her path. Some she kicked into the brook, others she picked up and threw. She saw one in particular that looked kind of interesting. She picked it up and imagined that it had magical powers. With this rock she could turn herself into a bird and fly to the very tops of Mt. Olympus. There, she would meet Cupid. They would fall in love and marry, then he would turn her into a winged god too. She looked up into the sky and imagined the two of them flying around; she’d fly over her village and continue to soar past it. Gabrielle spread her arms wide and began to run around in circles, pretending to be that free bird. She tripped on one of the rocks she had kicked loose and fell flat on her behind right in the mud. She stood up and looked at herself.
"Oh no, I’ve got mud all over me" she said as she stamped about allowing the offensive material to fall from her long skirt.
But it didn’t help; her clothes had muddy stains all over. She was so mad at herself for doing such a dumb thing. Now she would be in for it. She would return home and her mother would give her the lecture about how she was a young woman now, soon to be married. Her 19th birthday had past two moons ago and with each passing day her mother seemed to get more annoying. She would go on, and on about Gabrielle getting her mind out of the clouds and onto learning the things a wife needs to know. The worst was when her mother told her, her little sister Lila was more fit to be a wife than she.
Gabrielle turned red at the remembrance of that remark; she yelled to the heavens, shaking her fist to the sky "But I don’t want to get married!!!!"
She shook her head and chuckled at herself. "If only I could say that to my mother."
But it was so difficult. Her mother had been preparing Gabrielle for this marriage ever since it was arranged when she was only 8 winters old.
As she headed home Gabrielle thought back over her young life and remembered a time when she wanted to get married and be the loving, devoted, dutiful wife of Perdicus. She was only 12 winters old and she admired many of the older girls, their maturity and their sophistication. She watched these beautiful young vibrant women get married, and instead of flourishing they suddenly became old women. Not old in their look, but in their walk, in their talk and in their attitudes. The girls had lost their zeal and zest for life as they focused less on their personal interests and more on preparing meals, doing laundry, going to the market and eventually taking care of their children. That summer of her 12th birthday she realized that if she followed the path that had been set out for her, the same path all these other girls had followed, she would live her entire life in this town. She would never be more than a peasant girl from a small village.
A traveling bard named Verbatigus came through their village shortly after and told story after story of Athens, Rome, Chin, Gaul and other places she had never even heard of. She became as his shadow, following him everywhere and eventually she persuaded him to give her lessons. By the time he left she’d heard every one of his stories at least 3 times. After he left she sighed to herself, ‘There is a big beautiful world outside of Potadia, and I will never get to see it.’ After that summer she was never the same again. Her family thought she was going through some childish phase, but it never went away, she never grew out of it. Always daydreaming, always telling stories, or making them up.
One day she mentioned to her father that she wanted to leave home and become a traveling bard like Verbatigus, and he laughed heartily. He sat down and lovingly explained to his daughter that women didn’t do such things. A woman was supposed to learn how to cook, clean, do the wash and tend the animals. She could still tell stories, but her skills were to be used for the purpose of putting her children to sleep. She sat there and nodded at his every word. He got up and left, chuckling to himself over the crazy notions this daughter of his always had.
Gabrielle’s face seemed impassive, but she was devastated inside. It was on that day that her father fell off the pedestal in Gabrielle’s heart. He was no longer the all-knowing, all-wise god for all things; that day he became just a man. He became a man who not only didn’t know everything, but knew very little in his daughter’s estimations. Gabrielle smiled a bittersweet smile over her past as she headed back to her house. Hopefully if her mother and Lila went to market as planned the house would be empty and she would be able to change and wash her clothes without her mother’s knowledge.
Gabrielle carefully entered the clearing to her home. She looked around and it appeared that no one was there.
"Yes!" She exclaimed over her good fortune.
She quickly entered her home before her luck ran out and immediately started to strip off the soiled clothing. Just as she finished donning a fresh clean outfit there was a flash of light behind her. Startled, she turned around and her eyes went wide as a man was in her bedroom.
"Who are you? How did you get in here? I know many forms of fighting; I learned them from a traveling warrior who passed through these parts a while ago. I hope you didn’t come to rob the family of our money, because we’re just farmers, we don’t have much." Then she breathed "And don’t you even think of trying to soil my virtue. I have a large family and big huge brothers that will come and beat the stuffing out of you and…"
She was immediately silenced as the stranger yelled "Gabrielle, will you shut up!"
Gabrielle’s eyes went wide again "How did you know my name? Have you been…"
This time she was silenced by a menacing look from the stranger. Once he was sure he had her attention he continued.
"I am not here to hurt you. Actually, I am here to help you. Now if you settle down I will answer all of your questions and much, much more."
Gabrielle cautiously sat down on a chair by her writing desk. She was enchanted by his deep bravado voice; it was almost silky. She didn’t know men could sound like that. She looked the stranger over carefully. She’d never seen anyone quite like him before, dressed in all black leather. He was very good looking too. She sincerely hoped the stranger was telling the truth about not hurting her.
"Let’s establish some rules, if you want to speak raise your hand and I will let you ask one question at a time when it is appropriate, ok?"
Gabrielle nodded her head.
"To start, my name is Ares, god …"
Gabrielle leaped up. "You mean Ares god of war? Ares from Olympus? Ares the son of Zeus and Hera? Ares the…"
She was silenced when she realized that Ares was looking at her with impatience again.
"Oh, sorry. It’s just that I’ve never been visited by a god before, and… there I go again. Sorry. Please continue."
Ares shook his head, ‘how did Xena ever put up with this girl?’ Ares sighed.
"Yes, I am Ares god of war. I don’t usually make house calls, but I am here on some godly business. The fates have smiled upon you this day, and given you something that most mortals only dream of… a second chance."
Ares opened his mouth to continue but Gabrielle’s hand shot up.
"Yes, Gabrielle?" Ares replied.
"A second chance at what?"
Ares turned his head out of her line of vision and rolled his eyes. "I was getting to that if you would let me finish."
Gabrielle sheepishly shrugged her shoulders, "Sorry".
"Tomorrow your village will be attacked by a warlord named Draco. Another warlord will come along and will save you and your village from slavery at the hands of Draco. Here’s where your second chance comes in. I traveled here to warn you, and give you the option to change the course of your life forever. If you proceed on your current path you will leave your village, your family, your friends, and your betrothed tomorrow night to chase after this warlord. These relationships will never be as they were. They forever will be… damaged."
Gabrielle sat there staring at him in utter shock. She couldn’t believe what she was hearing, and she could not imagine herself just running away like that. But she was talking to a god after all, so it must be true. She started thinking to herself, ‘that warlord must really be really something’. She had to see the face of the man who could get her to change her whole life.
"Can I see him, do you have a drawing?"
Ares smiled "I can do much better than that."
He waved his arm and a flat cloud seemed to appear in front of her, then an image came into focus inside of it. Gabrielle inhaled sharply as she got a look at the warlord. To her surprise it was a woman, not a man. She seemed to be fighting some people. Her eyes were intensely blue and fierce. As the warrior fought her motions were like liquid, her long black hair flowed behind her as she moved like the wind. Gabrielle sighed to herself ‘she is beautiful!’ She kept looking at the image playing in front of her and realized that she was attacking helpless villagers. Gabrielle had never seen anyone quite like her; but she couldn’t imagine herself chasing after someone who would do these acts. She herself would never be party to them. The wheels started to spin in her head
"I thought you said she will save my village from a warlord?"
Ares tried to keep his face as nonchalant as possible "She will".
Gabrielle scrunched up her face in thought. "If she saves my village, why would she turn and start attacking another?"
Ares cursed inwardly, he didn’t expect her to catch onto his rouse so easily. "Actually these images are from a time before she came to your village. Saving your village was a first attempt to change."
Gabrielle smiled slightly "So, it’s alright then, she’s a changed person."
Ares nodded his head in agreement and continued on. "It’s true she no longer attacks poor innocent villages; however she is still a warrior, still a killer."
Another scene flashed showing Xena in battle against an army. Gabrielle sat in awe with the warrior’s movements, the fluidity of her motions and the grace in which she used her sword, but inwardly she cringed every time she ran someone through. As the scene continued on, Gabrielle noticed something in the background.
"By the gods, that’s me." She yelled as she stood up to stand in front of the moving images.
Gabrielle was fighting near the warrior with a long stick. Gabrielle smiled as she saw herself use it with speed and strength.
"This is wonderful; I get to be a warrior, except I don’t kill anyone. Look, see… I hit them with this stick and they’re knocked out, not dead. Wow and look at that outfit."
Gabrielle looked down at her peasant dress and ran her hands over her solidly covered abdomen.
"I can’t believe I wear something like that, I’m too shy. But look I… I… I’m sexy and I look kinda tough too. Does she teach me how to fight with that stick, and did she give me that outfit? Gee I must have all the boys following me around to be dressed half naked like that. I…"
Ares pouted slightly at her enthusiasm, then winced ‘how the hell did Xena put up with her?’
"Yes Gabrielle you are tough and yet passive in the beginning, but things change soon enough."
The image flashed to the inside of Dahok’s temple, and Gabrielle is standing over a body with a dagger and blood covering her hands. She’s taken aback by the look of hurt and tears in the eyes of her future self.
"And that’s only the beginning; you completely lose yourself after awhile".
Again the scene flashes and Gabrielle is wearing a red top with only strings covering the back with a matching skirt. ‘My hair is short?!’ She thinks to herself. Gabrielle reaches up and runs her hands over her long, curly, golden locks. As the scene plays out she is excited by how fierce she looks, ‘that’s not some small town peasant!’ As the battle rages on she gasps as man, after man, after man falls by her own hands. It looks like there are two knives in her hands, but they are much fancier. A single tear starts to fall down her cheek.
"There’s so much more Gabrielle. You’re life is threatened almost daily. You end up realizing you loved Perdicus and you marry him, only to have one of her hundreds of enemies kill him the very next day."
The image changed to show Gabrielle wailing over the bloody body of Perdicus. Ares moved on with his tale of Gabrielle’s life, but the image window continued to show Gabrielle’s anguish as her husband lay dying in her arms, his life’s blood all over her hands and clothes.
"You will be turned into a Bacchae, possessed by an evil demon, tied to a cross… twice, shot with arrows, raped by a god and as a result you will bare a beautiful daughter. The warrior will turn on you and try to kill your baby. On top of that she treats you like her little slave. You cook all of her meals, gather the firewood, rub her shoulders, and fetch her water as she constantly puts you down and treats you like a child."
Gabrielle is visibly shaken by these revelations. She is trembling and the tears are starting to fall freely from her eyes.
"Now I’m not telling you what to do, I’m just offering you a very special gift. I’m giving you the chance to change your path. If you want to change what you’ve just seen, when the warlord comes here tomorrow do not follow her. And don’t worry about the horrible memories of what you’ve just seen. Once she leaves and you don’t follow her, your choice will be made and you will forget everything you’ve just seen and heard. That way you can remain happy the rest of your days here."
The girl made mute by what she’d just witnessed nodded weakly. Gabrielle and Ares both looked up as another flash exploded in Gabrielle’s room. This time it left a woman. A very beautiful, but half naked woman all dressed in pink.
"That’s it Bro! I’ve had enough of this; I can’t listen to this head trip anymore! Look what you’ve done to her!" She turned to Gabrielle and smiled.
"Don’t cry Sweet Pea." A pink lace handkerchief appeared in her hand and she gently wiped Gabrielle’s tears away. "Look at how cute you are, so young and innocent."
Aphrodite wrapped her arms around herself and began to make a high pitched squeal as she rocked herself from side to side. Ares was obviously angry.
"Aphrodite! What are you doing here? I told no lies, and didn’t tell her what to do."
Some of the wonder and surprise came back to Gabrielle’s face as she said
"Aphrodite, goddess of love?"
At that Aphrodite just smiled and proceeded to model around "The one and only!"
Gabrielle just shook her head in unbelief. Two Olympian gods in her bedroom?
"I must have hit my head on a rock and now I’m dreaming or something." She whispered to herself.
Aphrodite turned and smiled "Oh no Sweet Pea, you’re not dreaming, but let’s get back to business. He’s right Gabrielle, you do have a big choice ahead of you, the chance to change everything, but my brother is not giving you the full story."
Ares looked as if he could choke the life out of her with his glance alone. He put his hand over the hilt of his sword, rolled his eyes and walked to the far wall.
"He hasn’t lied to you. Life with Xena…"
At the sound of the name Gabrielle stood up again. "Xena: the Warrior Princess?"
Aphrodite nodded. Gabrielle started to pace as her mind started to search for everything she’d heard about this woman.
"I’ve heard of her. She’s also known as the Destroyer of Nations and has caused much sorrow. Why would someone so infamous have me around?"
Even Aphrodite’s patience started to wear thin. "Gabrielle, would you just sit down and listen". Once Gabrielle sat Aphrodite continued
"As I was saying, life with Xena isn’t easy, you do get hurt and will go through a lot of pain, but you’re not Xena’s servant you’re her best friend, her soul mate. You usually collect the wood while Xena’s out catching the food. You always cook because Xena’s lousy at it. You rub her shoulders because you want to comfort her and make her feel better. And she fills up the water skins just as you do. But the part that my dear brother is leaving out is all the joy that’s in your choice to go with Xena. Because of this path, you write scroll after scroll of stories that not only are read and remembered, but become legends. That ‘sexy’ outfit you first saw was that of an Amazon warrior and the beads that are sometimes around your neck are the symbol of your royal status."
With that last revelation Gabrielle’s eyes grew wide again. "Royal status?"
Gabrielle was about to continue when she received a hard look from Aphrodite. She closed her mouth. Aphrodite walked over to Gabrielle and ran a hand over her cheek.
"That scene my brother showed of you staff fighting was when you were a Princess, you later become Queen. But that will never happen without Xena. You risked your life to try and save the Amazon Princess, but her wounds were too severe. Her dying wish was that you would take her place because of your noble actions. You see your character made you royalty, but Xena’s the one who brought you to the Amazons in the first place. Ares and I know you because of her. Yes you do come across monsters and go through a lot of pain, but you also meet people that will never cross your path otherwise. For example there’s Helen of Troy, Queen Cleopatra, King Lias, Ulysses – King of Ithaca, Hercules and a host of others. You gain the opportunity to do more in one week than some people do in an entire lifetime. And you and Xena adore each other."
Aphrodite waved her arm and a second vision cloud appeared with images that shifted every few moments. She’s with Xena and they’re laughing, then they’re swimming, sparring together, eating, playing jokes on each other.
"I look so happy. Aphrodite, is this the right choice?"
Aphrodite only smiled. "You wanted to know how the Destroyer of Nations could want you around. My brother mentioned that she’s on a path of redemption, but neglected to mention that you are instrumental in keeping her on the right path. She’s already turned from being a warlord and will become a warrior of the people, a champion, a hero. We can’t tell you what to do; you must make the decision for yourself."
The weight of everything clearly showed on Gabrielle’s face. "May I make a request?"
"Of course, Sweet Pea."
Gabrielle cleared her throat. "You both have showed me what my life would be like with Xena, can you wave your arm again and show me how my life looks on the path without her?"
Ares started to protest, but a glance from Aphrodite made him back down.
"Sure thing, Sweetie."
The scene in the vision cloud changed and you could see Gabrielle and Perdicus together in a small house. Gabrielle was a bit heavier than she is now. She touched her abdomen again, surprised by the additional weight she saw in the image window.
"How long into the future is this?" ask Gabrielle.
Aphrodite looked inwardly for a moment. "5 seasons, you and Perdicus will be married two moons after Xena saves the town and you start to carry your first child soon after."
Gabrielle’s attention returned to the images in front of her. She was cooking over the hearth. She placed the food in the bowl and then placed it on the table in front of Perdicus. The action was made in silence and there was no expression on her face, as if she were mindless. The older Gabrielle smiled slightly when a little brown haired girl came in from outside.
Gabrielle picked up the little child. "Hi Hope, how’s mama’s little ray of sunshine?"
She kissed the girl and put her down. The smile immediately left again as the older Gabrielle went back into brainless servant mode. She lost all expression in her face and dished out another bowl of food for her child. Gabrielle hummed quietly to herself as she continued her chores dutifully. The image window closed.
"Aphrodite, is there any way I could talk to her, I mean to me, the future me I just saw?"
Ares became animated once again. "I don’t think that’s allowed!"
Aphrodite just shook her head. "Just give me a minute!" She pressed her hands to the sides of her forehead actively thinking things through. "Yes, it can be done. I just have to be careful about how I do this. I will put a spell on her and she’ll think you’re one of her best friends sitting in her living room. This way you can question her and we won’t be breaking any of the rules."
A big wave of Aphrodite’s arms and the plump, tired looking Gabrielle of the future appeared. The clothing was similar between the two, except on the older Gabrielle the colors are dull brown and gray just like a housewife, just like her mother. Her head was partially covered by a scarf made of the same rough, dull colored material. She looked at the younger version of herself
"Mayda, I’m glad you dropped by. I’ve really needed to talk to someone."
Gabrielle was mesmerized as she looked at herself. She stared trying to memorize every line, every strand of hair. She checked out every change of appearance, and noted the dark circles under her eyes and the lines of age around her eyes and mouth.
Young Gabrielle was broken out of her trance, and cleared her throat. "Uhh, Gabrielle I haven’t had a chance to talk to you in awhile. Tell me how are things going? How’s Perdicus and your daughter?"
Gabrielle merely sighed. "I have to tell you, every morning I wake up and try to find a reason to keep going. It’s getting really difficult. I feel like my life has no meaning, no substance."
"How can you say that? You have a loving husband and a beautiful daughter."
"Yeah I do, which is why I always feel so guilty. Perdicus is kind and a good provider. I lack for nothing, but I have no feelings for him. I am bound to him by my weddings vows and no more. Because of those vows I keep his house, cook the meals and do all the things a good wife should do, but I have no joy in them."
"But what about your daughter?"
"Ah yes, Hope. She’s the only good thing in our marriage. Usually it’s the need to see to her well being that keeps me going, but she’s almost more of a burden. Don’t get me wrong, I love her and love caring for her, but everyone says that she’s so much like me at her age. She’s full of wonder and curiosity. She’s adventurous and she loves to make up stories. But my burden is that I don’t want her to befall the same fate as me. We’re required to choose her future husband in just a few seasons. That has always been the way in Potadeia, but I want her to be able to live out her dreams. It would kill me to watch her grow up and take on this lifestyle if it’s not her choice; watching Hope die a little bit each day to the potentials inside her."
"That sounds so bleak. But it makes me think of another question I wanted to ask. Hope, it’s a common word, and unusual for a name, and I…. Um I mean YOU always told me that you intended to name your child something strange exotic like "Calias or Aloje if it’s a boy, and Vashti or Zibohn if it’s a girl."
"Ahhh yes, her name. Gee Mayda I thought I had told you about that before but I must be mistaken. Perdi and I had been married less than a season. I was so sad, my life was over. No more stories, no adventures. Life was passing me by. I may have been joyfully doing my duties, but I was dying on the inside. When I found I was with child I thought it was my chance to gain some happiness in this existence. She was my hope for better days to come, my hope that I would find some happiness, or at least some peace."
"But can’t you do both? Why can’t you be a housewife and still continue with your writing and story telling?"
"Well, the tavern wouldn’t hire a married woman to tell stories to their patrons, it’s bad for business. It’s mostly townsmen who are looking to escape their daily lives for a short time. The owner feels the men would be so concerned that I would run back and tell their wives what goes on at the tavern that they would stop coming around. As for the scrolls I just stopped one day. When every day is the same as the one before you lose some of your imagination. A traveling bard told me once to write about what you know of life. Stories about milking cows and doing the washing are not the substance of epic tales. I just wish… well it’s silly to even think like that. My life is my life and that’s the way it is. Listen Mayda, I’m sorry to not be a better hostess but I’m baking bread and the dough should be risen now. Perdi doesn’t like the bread when I let it sit too long after it rises. See you soon."
The wear of hardship shown deeply in her eyes for a moment and then it was gone as she smiled, and turned to leave the room. She didn’t move very fast, her weight seemed to slow her down considerably. As she moved along she vanished into nothingness. Gabrielle sat in her same position stunned. A few tears ran down her cheek. Aphrodite walked over and wiped her tears away again.
"Have you made your decision yet?"
"No", stated the young girl. "My mother always told me the grass looks greener on the other side. I must see everything before a decision is made. My life is in the balance and I’d better make sure it’s a decision I can live with. Right?"
Aphrodite smiled kindly "Sweet Pea, you are wise beyond your years. What can I do to help you with your decision?"
"Aphrodite? May I speak with myself again, but this time I want to speak with the Gabrielle that travels with Xena. Oh, and Aphrodite, can you take her from the same distance of time, about 5 seasons?"
Aphrodite waved her arm. Gabrielle appeared wearing far less than the Gabrielle she had just witnessed, and with a lot less hair. Her strength was obvious, and her muscles were more taut and defined in person than in the cloud window. She looked at herself with a big friendly smile.
"Minya, it’s good to see you, it’s been awhile." She gave Minya a big hug and sat down next to her. "So how’s everything going? Last time we spoke you had your sights set on being a thespian and you swore you’d never go back to your hometown of Laurel."
Young Gabrielle wasn’t sure how to answer herself. ‘what’s a thespian?’ she thought. She coughed to cover up herself and decided to try controlling the conversation.
"Oh yeah, everything is fine, and I feel just the same as the last time you saw me. But I wanted to ask you about yourself, about your life with Xena."
Gabrielle noted that her future self’s eyes lit up at the sound of Xena’s name. She seemed so vibrant and alive, but she understood that looks could be deceiving.
"Well Minya, did you want to know something specific?"
She stammered slightly "Uh, yes. Are you happy in your life with Xena?"
The older Gabrielle got a far away look in her eye. "Yes I am. It’s been 5 years, but I feel like that’s when my life really began, with her. Over the years we’ve become so close that it’s difficult to describe, except to say that she is my soul mate and without her my life would be incomplete."
Young Gabrielle sat stunned for a second or two with the feeling and passion behind the words she’d just heard. "But Gabrielle, it’s dangerous to travel around with her. You’ve been hurt several times, and not just physically either. If you had a chance to go back and change everything, and not follow Xena… would you? Please think a moment before you answer, I want to hear the truth."
The older Gabrielle just looked at her strangely. "These are odd questions Minya, but if that’s what you want..." Gabrielle looked at the floor for a few moments and smiled, then looked at who she believed was Minya. "If I had it to do all over again, I would follow her without question. There are some things I would change like not following her to Chin, or I’d arrange to go visit my family instead of traveling with her to Britannia. There have been some hard, hard times but they still don’t measure up in comparison to the good times. The joys we’ve shared together, and just the adventure of being around her."
Young Gabrielle sighed. "You make her sound incredible."
Gabrielle laughed "Minya, you sound like you’ve never met her? Think about it, you changed your entire life to try and be like her. But how could you not, she’s got that aura about her, that certain something. The way she looks at you and the deep blue of her eyes that you can lose yourself in."
Now it was time for young Gabrielle to be slightly confused. "Are you talking about me or yourself?"
Gabrielle’s eyes went wide for a moment. "I guess I’m talking about me at this point."
Gabrielle was nearly convinced, but with her entire future on the line, she had to explore everything. "But what about your family, don’t you miss them? And don’t you want to have children of your own someday?"
Gabrielle pursed her lips. "Minya, it’s not like I don’t see my family. I do visit, but I miss a lot of what goes on in their lives. It may seem selfish, but I wouldn’t trade it. I’d visit more often, but my parents don’t really like Xena. They feel that she seduced me away from them. But it’s quite the opposite; I followed her. She told me to leave her, she told me to go home. But I wouldn’t." She laughed to herself and said under her breath "I wish she’d seduce me."
Young Gabrielle leaned in "What was that?"
Ares and Aphrodite both looked at each other with surprise.
Gabrielle smiled "Nothing Minya. I would like to have children someday, but that might require more of a lifestyle change than I am willing to make. I want to stay with Xena, and she just can’t stay in one place too long. She calls it wanderlust. If she does decide to stay put, hopefully I can convince her to settle with my Amazon sisters and perhaps we can raise a child together there."
Young Gabrielle was now dumbfounded. "You would settle down with Xena? How would you have children, and don’t you want a nice man to care for you?"
Gabrielle started laughing again "I’m not ruling out the idea of a husband, after-all anything is possible, but it’s not part of my plan and I certainly don’t need him to take care of me. As for children it’s easy, we could either raise an orphan child or I could find a man to father one with me, with the agreement that Xena and I would raise the child in an Amazon village. I’d probably ask Toris, Xena’s brother that way our child might look like her. But these are just speculations, I don’t dwell too much on my future, I just take it day by day."
The awe was apparent on young Gabrielle’s face. "You’re in love with her." It was a statement, not a question. "Does she feel the same way?"
The older Gabrielle smiled "I know she truly loves me, we’ve just never discussed such things. Her wanderlust encompasses more than just where we spend time. But to love her, is to love all of her, even the part that can’t settle on one place to live, or settle with one... I think I’ve said too much. Why did you want to know all of this stuff anyway?"
Young Gabrielle looked at Aphrodite "I uh, was just…"
Aphrodite put her hands around her mouth and called out in Xena’s voice "Gabrielle! Gabrielle!"
Gabrielle’s head perked up. "Oh Minya, it was great to see you, but I’ve got to go. Talk to you soon." She got up, turned and ran. She turned to thin air mid stride.
"Wow, that was intense. May I speak with Xena?"
Aphrodite shook her head. "I’m sorry, but that cannot be allowed."
Gabrielle sighed "Can I have a few minutes to think before I give you both my decision?"
Aphrodite answered "You need tell us nothing. The course of events are already set in motion. Xena has already separated from her army and as we speak she’s on her way to Amphipolous to make peace with her mother. Draco’s lieutenants are in his camp deciding which villages they will plunder tomorrow. Your village has already been selected. There’s nothing you can do to change events until your moment of action. It’s simple, follow Xena, or stay. Once it is done, there is no going back. Just go over the details until your time comes. Choose wisely Sweet Pea."
Aphrodite and Ares disappeared from her bedroom, leaving a stunned Gabrielle sitting in her room. The muddy clothes she was about to wash suddenly didn’t seem so important anymore.
Events had played out just as the gods told her. Xena was amazing; watching her took Gabrielle’s breath away. As she lay in bed she thought one last time of all she’d heard. She could travel the world, have a life with excitement and adventure but laced with great pain. Or, she could stay here and lead a stable, normal boring life. There was no comparison, but what about her family. If she went Perdicus would be murdered, and then the little girl Hope. If she didn’t stay Hope would never be born, was it fair? Didn’t she deserve the chance to live? ‘If I stay I condemn her to the same mundane existence I want to avoid. I don’t want this life, and I don’t want it for my daughter.’
Her mind made up, she got out of bed, grabbed her pre-packed bag and tried to sneak out of the house. In her haste she woke Lila up, but she kept to her plans and left the house as soon as she could. Once she was on the open road she started to think of how she should write down the regrets her future self had spoken so she could avoid them. She laughed as she traveled down the road, ‘I’m gonna be an Amazon’, ‘I’m gonna know the gods’, ‘I’m gonna write epic stories. Gabrielle was running along and stopped as a light burst ahead of her. Then Aphrodite appeared. Gabrielle was in a mild panic.
"Is everything ok? Have I done something wrong? Did I leave too late, or too early?"
Aphrodite put up her hand to stop the barrage of questions. "Everything is fine Gabrielle, and I’m so glad that you chose this path. Now I’ll have to erase your memories."
Gabrielle’s eyes bulged out. "What?"
Aphrodite smiled to try and keep her calm. "Don’t worry Sweet Pea, it won’t hurt, but I can’t let you walk around knowing your future. As you walk beyond that clearing all knowledge of future events, of our meeting and of your choice will disappear from your mind.
Gabrielle nodded her head "Fair enough."
Aphrodite disappeared from human sight and watched Gabrielle walk through the clearing and disappear into the trees on the other side. She smiled because she knew that Gabrielle was on the path she was meant to be on.
Finis -- September 2003
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