DISCLAIMER: As characters, Xena and Gabrielle, and any others borrowed from the show, Xena: Warrior Princess, belong to MCA Universal and Renaissance Pictures. As fantasies, they belong to us all. Now, in Season 5 more than ever, the only way the relationship will survive is, indeed, through these fantasies of our own. The following brief entry in Gabrielles Diary is written just before the opening of "Punchlines." This is right after "Seeds of Faith" when the truth of the parentage of Xenas baby is revealed (in other words, SPOILERS), but before the birth in "God-Fearing Child."
The Importance of Being Gabrielle
It has been so long since I picked up a quill, since I heard the crackling of parchment under my hand, that I feel almost silly doing this. But Ive gone and spent a good amount of dinars on ink and quill and paper, Xena is tucked into her bedroll, and the night is young. I remember that little pack I used to carry around stuffed with scrolls and how every night before bed, while Xena sharpened her sword or mended her gauntlets, Id be hunched over my scroll recording the events that had transpired during the day. I remember that life as though it were a dream, some charmed existence that belonged to another age, when Xena was my mentor and I her eager student, the innocent child that seems long dead now. I guess thats because she did die and Im the one who came back, same body, same face, but a completely different heart and mission. My mission then was to be a bard and to write down Xenas adventures for posterity. My mission now is to protect Xena. I, who demanded protection, who expected her to defend me day and night, am now the warrior and she, if not the bard, is now the one who requires protection. I guess one could say that the baby developing inside her is as much her creation as those stories were mine. Who knew I would be so prolific as a writer? Who could have foreseen that Callistos soul would choose Xenas womb in which to come back into the world, or that Xena would even want to bring this mysterious birth to term?
I never thought I would be a bard again. After we left Lesbos (unlike Xena, my memory came back intact, and I can feel myself blushing right now as I remember that incredible night and day we spent at Sapphos villa, learning all sorts of new tricks from Doctor Love) I think I swore off writing, not because Id left most of my scrolls in Sapphos library (some I just could not part with, like "Return of Callisto," which I kept to honor Perdicus, not realizing the role that Callisto would continue to play in our lives). Xena was right that the scroll bag was getting heavier and heavier, and it made sense to me after all of our intimacies with Doctor Love to leave them in Sapphos care, to be read by all the women and other travelers who pass through her gates each year. Carrying them around with me certainly wasnt giving them the audience those stories deserved. But I think I gave up writing because it seemed to me that Xena didnt really respect my writing that much. For her it meant extra cargo, something else to worry about, that collection of scrolls. But I cant really blame Xena. Shes the practical type, and for as much as she loved, or said she loved, hearing me read my stories, I know that life on the road must needs be light. Bedrolls, blankets, cooking gear, clothing, weaponsthis is the essential stuff. Of course, now that I have my own horse, a gentle amber-colored mare I have named Aegis, we can haul twice as much gear, good thing, too, now with Xenas baby on the way. Who knows how much else well need to carry as the needs of a child are greater, even, than mine.
This is what I notice of our life together since we were brought back from those strange realms of Heaven and Hell. We are soul mates, yes, but its not the same kind of mating that we had before we died. Then, our mating was physical, our loving was stormy and passionate and tender. Now, its as if we have mated our minds, as if an alchemy occurred in which a part of me became like Xena and a part of her became like me, so that, in essence, we have become so much alike we are almost mirror images of each other who no longer relate physically because we are one mentally. Thats one way of explaining why we dont touch anymore, let alone really talk to each other, or make love.
Maybe I just feel left out of Xenas pregnancy. I know it took a long time for me to get over the fact that she was pregnant, and I did not, in my heart of hearts, believe that as she said she had remained a "love-free zone" for a long time. This, apart from hurting my feelings because it insinuated that what we had done for the last four years was not "love," made me wonder about her commitment to our relationship. So when Callistos spirit (its still so hard for me to accept the turning of Callisto) admitted that she had chosen Xenas body to reincarnate in, I was both relieved and angry. Relieved to know that Xena had been telling me the truth, that she had not been unfaithful to me with any man, or worse, Ares, whos always had an itch for her, but also angry that Callisto had gotten her way after all. The old Callisto, the plotting, evil, vengeful, crazed Callisto, always wanted to be with Xena, and now she found a way to link her life force with Xenas, for eternity. Her maniacal hatred of Xena, as well as her shrill jealousy of me, were a thin mask for her total devotion to the Warrior Princess. This is why I could not, and still cannot, share Xenas joy in knowing the true "paternity" of her child. I guess the gods, whether they dwell in Heaven or Olympus, really do work in mysterious ways.
And now the Fates have decreed that Xenas child will bring on the "twilight of the gods," and the gods have vowed to come after us with a vengeance. This will mean a lot more fighting for me, especially as Xenas time draws nearer and her belly gets wider and heavier. It amazes me how she can continue to fight despite that belly, to jump and kick and somersault and be the warrior that shes always been. But she isnt my warrior anymore. We are twin warriors, now, and at night we settle into our bedrolls like two comrades in arms, exhausted from the days good fight and wanting only the company of Morpheus. Funny thing is, I dont even feel any desire these days. Even when we lie side by side and I feel her body breathing next to me, I dont have the same response as I used to. Must be that belly of hers and the idea that theres this child forming in there that frightens me off, sexually. Some nights, in her sleep, Xena touches herself in an almost frantic way, and relieves whatever desire may have crept into her dreams. I watch her and feel sad, and make no attempt to substitute her hand with mine. The most I will do is kiss her very lightly on the lips. Its as if I feel Ive lost the right to touch her, somehow, lost the right to demand that she touch me. Is this another facet of the Greater Good, I wonder?
But none of this is what I wanted to write about. Here I am at the bottom of the scroll and still I have not recorded my real reason for picking up the quill again. I want to remember myself as a bard. I want to remember that Gabrielle, her innocence, her wonder at the world that she and Xena were discovering together. I want to remember the way Gabrielle could sit in silence for a full night watching the shifting of the moon, the patterns of the stars, listening to the howling of the wolves in the distance, to the rippling stream by the camp, to the crackling cinders in the fire. I want to remember the feeling of joy each time I thought about a new story that I wanted to write, a new adventure that needed to be recorded. Maybe, if I can remember that old Gabrielle, if I can become her again, I will bring the person I am now back in touch with the person I was before my body was nailed to that Roman cross, and in this way learn to love the act of writing again, and live each day filled with the wonder of being alive and being with Xena.
Truth is, Im worried about being an invisible parent. I dont think Xena really believes me when I tell her how devoted I am to this child, that I consider it my own because it is a part of her, and so, a part of me as well. I dont know if she really wants us to raise it together. Weve always been family to each other, but now there seems to be this biological connection between Xena and the baby that I dont share. Im worried Xena will stop loving me altogether and devote herself entirely to the child. Im worried I will always compare Xenas baby to Hope and that this will fill me with such bitterness I will be forced to leave Xena. I dont want to be alone, but I dont want to live in Xenas shadow again, and I certainly will not compete with a child for Xenas heart and attention. I am Gabrielle, the Amazon Queen. Gabrielle, the Bard of Potidea. I am Xenas soul mate. I am also a warrior, and, for the time being, Xenas Protector. Must remember all that I am and cast my doubts and fears into the flames.
And now I see that something is beginning to change, very very slightly. A frozen body begins to thaw, to awaken, just barely, a tiny twitching of the eyelids and the fingers. Maybe the act of pushing a quill across parchment is what this body needs to get the blood flowing and start feeling again. Or maybe its just Aphrodite inserting herself into my thoughts. We are camping out in her temple, tonight.
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