Disclaimer: The characters in this story: Xena,
Gabrielle and Eve, are the property of Renaissance Pictures and Universal MCA. This
story is not meant to infringe upon their rights or the rights of the actors who portray
them. Also, no part of the story entitled Barefoot in the Sand is to be
copied, whole or in part, without the authors permission. It is not to be
copied for public use or for profit by any person or organization.
Barefoot in the Sand
By: Caina Q. Fuller
E-mail me: Cainaq@Yahoo.com
Aphrodite knelt to her knees and allowed her gaze to
rest on the exact spot on the beach where her beloved husband had met his end barely two
months before. In the days before she had lost him time had been relative, but now
those months passed by painfully slow. They stretched into what seemed to her to be
a miserable eternity. She missed him terribly, the hurt in her heart sometimes
threatening to kill her soul. The worst part of it all was she knew there was
nothing she could ever do about it. As a god, she didnt have the luxury of
knowing that their souls would one day be reunited after her own death.
I have no soul, she found herself saying
aloud, her once strong, proud tone of voice all but gone. Now her voice emerged from
her lips not quiet but weak. She was just glad there was no one around to hear her
half-whispered words. Or so she believed. Though she was a god, she was
completely unaware she had company on the sands of this beach. A beach on which
shed once known such happiness on with Hephaestus.
Im lost without you Hephie. Im
angry. Im angry with Xena, with you. Why couldnt you just walk
away? Why did you have to get yourself killed? How selfish of you!
The sound of the voice of her husbands killer
filled Aphrodite with rage. Rage she was helpless to satisfy, as she knew Xena now
possessed the power to kill gods. Now she was alone with the woman she was finding
herself despising more and more with each day that passed. Aphrodite looked over her
shoulder to find Xena waiting with a tender expression on her strong, beautiful
face. Aphrodite noted Gabrielle and Eve were nowhere to be seen. It was just the two
Xena. What are you doing here? I
dont think its appropriate for you to be here. Not after
Just as Aphrodite expected, Xena held her ground,
giving her a clear indication she wasnt going to back away. I spoke with
Cupid. He told me youve been spending a lot of time here.
It was our favorite beach. We loved to
come here. Hephie and me, I mean.
Xena knelt down beside Aphrodite. Her sharp
senses could feel her friend stiffen at her close proximity
but she ignored it. She and the goddess of Love still had the issue of
Hephaestus death between them, and Xena wasnt about to leave until theyd
at least tried to settle things. If Aphrodite felt it inappropriate for her to be
here, then Xena would move the conversation elsewhere, but it would be had.
Seeing Xena wasnt going anywhere soon, Aphrodite
decided to put up with her presence. She didnt seem to have the energy to or
the will to fight, especially with the one being who could put her in her grave.
Funny, Aphrodite thought. Isnt that where
I belong? With my beloved and the rest of my family? She allowed the silence
to hang between them a bit longer, then looked over to study Xenas face. What
was there to say with this tragedy hanging between them?
Finally, unable to stand the silence between them any
longer, Aphrodite decided she would just talk and see where the conversation went.
The sun will be setting soon.
The statement sounded out of place in Aphrodites
own ears, but Xena went along with it. It was, after all, a place to start.
Yes it will. I love sunsets.
Why is that?
Xena gave her response serious consideration.
She didnt know if this was the last time she would ever have Aphrodites ear,
and she wanted to make the best of it. If she were to do that, she would have to
take their aimless words and steer it toward the heart of the matter.
I could say its because theyre
beautiful, but thats not the entire truth.
Really? Aphrodite was convinced her tone
of voice sounded glib. Would this little bit convince Xena to give up and leave her
alone with her misery? No such luck. Xena only smiled warmly and continued to
expound on her love of sunsets.
Yes, really. When you live the kind of
life Gabrielle and I live, a sunset is a victory. It means youve made it
through another day.
An attack could also come in the
night. It wasnt lost on Aphrodite that her words sounded like a veiled
threat, though they were not. Would Xena interpret them that way?
If she did, Xena gave no sign of it. She only
nudged Aphrodite gently and winked at her. Maybe thats why I cherish
Once again a heavy silence descended upon them, the
only sound being that of the waves crashing against the rocky shore. Xena took in
the pink shorts outfit Aphrodite had taken to wearing lately. Perhaps it was the
knowledge she was as deadly to this god as she was to any mortal, or perhaps it was the
knowledge this god had a terrible hurt in her heart that was eating away at her soul-a
hurt Xena knew she had put there-but for the first time since theyd met Aphrodite
As Xena studied her, Aphrodite was becoming
increasingly aware the emotional storm that had been brewing since her husbands
death was coming to a head. When she looked into Xenas eyes, the Warrior
Princess could also see it coming. When it finally hit, it was not in the explosion
Xena was looking for. No, that wasnt Aphrodites style. Instead, it
came as those summer rains often did: sudden yet gentle. Slow and steady but
with no sign of moving on any time soon. Xena knew it would take powerful winds of
love and understanding to drive this storm from Aphrodites heart, and she was
prepared to give it all she had. It was the least she could do for a friend as dear
to her as Aphrodite had become.
The weakness was gone from Aphrodites voice
now. Her words were fueled with a fire born of anger. This is the
place. This is where he died. Hes gone forever Xena, because you killed
Aphrodite stood and ran over to the water, and Xena
noticed for the first time since shed arrived that Aphrodites feet were
bare. Xena couldnt explain why, but the sight of the ocean washing over
Aphrodites bare feet and legs only added to the already powerful impression of her
friends frailty. It was all having such a profound and sad effect on Xena. The
sight of her bare feet was making the sometimes-cruel goddess seem so delicate and
Xena watched her friends thin frame shake with sobs
Aphrodite was trying desperately to hide. She decided to follow suit and quickly
pulled off her own boots, then went to stand beside Aphrodite. The water was ice
cold, but Xena refused to back off one step from her. Instead, she followed
Aphrodites gaze to find the sun was beginning to set behind the oceans
horizon, staining the sky with beautiful golden light. It was a sunset like no other
Xena had ever witnessed, and it gave her calm and resolve she needed to make Aphrodite
understand why she had fought so hard to save her child.
A mother, Xena began, will go to the
ends of the Earth to save her child. She will do anything and kill anyone to keep
Aphrodite began to wipe away the tears that were
spilling down her face, but Xena gently pulled her hand back.
Dont. Let them fall.
The goddess took in a deep, shaky breath. The
pain inside was becoming so intense it was difficult for her to even breathe.
Im not disputing your reasons Xena. I have children. I
understand why, its just...he was my husband. He loved me.
No you dont! You have no idea
what that meant to me!
Aphrodite was sobbing now. She thought she would
give anything to be gone from here. Away from Xena so she could wallow in the pain
and misery she was becoming frighteningly comfortable with. Yet somehow she
couldnt find the courage it took to leave. Aphrodite was fighting a battle of
the heart against Xena, an opponent she knew she had no hope of defeating. She tried
to turn away but Xena pulled her around to face her, somewhat forcefully.
Come on Aphrodite. Dont turn away
from me now. Make me understand. I know you dont believe it but I care
about you. I want--I need to know how youre feeling. Face this.
Xenas words forced open the floodgates of
Aphrodites pain, and for the first time since shed lost Hephaestus, she found
herself confronting her anger and the resentment that had been building up for this
warrior shed once called friend. Through sobs of anguish Aphrodite let it all
It doesnt matter if theyre mortal or
immortal, when men see me they see a body to be used for their pleasure. Thats
all they see. I thought that was all I was worth before he came along.
He saw a person to be loved Xena. Everybody thinks Im nothing but a stupid
blond bimbo, but Im more than that!
Of course you are, Xena said. She
was trying, unsuccessfully, to swallow back tears of guilt for the anguish se was causing
Now that Xena had her talking, Aphrodites words
came forth faster and faster until they flowed out of her on one massive emotional tidal
He was the only one to love me for me
Xena. He understood me. He saw I had feelings and dreams and he cared about
those things as much as he did his own. He was half of me! The better half of
Aphrodite turned from Xena, and she was amazed at how
Aphrodite seemed to be almost glowing in the deepening golds and reds of the evening
sky. Xena saw she was a beautiful creature who was suffering in so much pain.
Aphrodite had become real to Xena. So painfully real.
Aphrodites sobs slowly abated, leaving her
feeling drained. Never in her immortal existence had she found herself feeling so
tired and old. She questioned if she ever know happiness again? Would she ever
feel alive again?
My family is gone Xena, Aphrodite said
through the residual gasps of the sobs that had wracked her body only seconds ago.
Sobs that had had an amazingly healing effect on her. Im having to take over
their responsibilities. Somebody has to help Persephone run the underworld with
Hades gone. Someone must look out for Poseidons Kingdom and whos going
to heal the sick with Athena gone? Me. I feel like Im caving in under
all this pressure and I dont have my soul-mate to share this with.
It took Xena quite some time and effort to fight
through her own pain and guilt, but she finally found the words that would lay
responsibility where it was deserved: on her shoulders. Xena realized she was
still gripping Aphrodites shoulders and let go, reluctantly.
I put that pain in your heart Aphrodite. I
am so, so sorry.
Aphrodite took advantage of her new freedom and turned
from Xena, mild disgust tainting her words. Why are you here Xena? To
convince me to let you off the hook? To tell you its all ok?
No. I came here to tell you that
youre not alone. As long as I live you will have me to turn to. I know I
can never replace Hephaestus, but I can be your friend. If youll let me.
Though she was a god and it was utterly impossible for
her to feel physical discomfort, Aphrodite hugged herself as if she were cold. Xena
knew this was not so, but she did for her what she would have done for Gabrielle or
Eve. She took up a place behind Aphrodite and enveloped the goddess small,
stiff frame in her arms.
All the words on the subject had been spoken and
Aphrodite knew she had a choice to either forgive Xena, or let the pain in her heart turn
to hatred and bitterness until it killed her soul. Was she willing to walk away from
an eternity of love and life? Was she prepared to surrender everything to a concept
as foreign to her as hatred? Its now or never, she told herself. What
would she do?
Aphrodite made her choice.
The goddess allowed herself to relax against
Xena. She accepted the love this warrior was offering and the comfort her company
and touch brought with it. She said the only words that could save her heart and
soul from a painful, bitter death.
I forgive you Xena.
Xena literally gasped with the joy those words
inspired within her. Shed faced Aphrodites rage and pain, and
theyd come through it with their friendship intact.
Youll never know what that means to me
Aphrodite. I love you, you know.
I know you do. I love you too.
They remained there like that, barefoot in the
sand. The goddess of Love wrapped in the warm, healing embrace of the Warrior
Princess. They had their friendship, and that was all they needed as they watched
the sun settle behind the Ocean.
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