DISCLAIMERS: the usual... all things Xena belong to Renaissance Pictures. No infringement is intended. This is purely for amusement. This story takes place immediately after "Sacrifice Part II", so if you haven't seen it and don't want to be spoiled, you might want to skip this one. Feedback is welcome at geobon@frontiernet.net


by Georgia

Is it possible to be to be utterly blind to something for over a year and suddenly have it become crystal clear in one catastrophic moment? How? Somebody please tell me how this can be. I don't understand. I'm trying, but I don't understand.

I've loved her for so long, I can't remember when I didn't. From the moment I tried to kidnap her for Callisto and she beat the stuffing out of me defending herself, I've loved her. I've loved everything about her... her kind heart and giving soul, her shining eyes, the way she swings her staff, her beautiful body, her off-key singing. I've worshipped her endlessly, always with the hope that one day she'd see it and return my love. Now I realize that, not only can it never happen, it never would have happened.

It was the only way, I know. The only way to stop Hope *and* save Xena. I see that. I see it, but it doesn't make it any easier. I also see her... her face as she wrapped herself around her evil daughter and pulled them both into fiery oblivion, the only way she could keep the Fates from snipping Xena's life thread. I'll see that look on her face for the rest of my life... that beautiful expression, so full of pain and sorrow and guilt and apology and all those overshadowed by pure, blinding love... love so true it radiated off of her like heat. But she wasn't looking at me. Those emerald eyes weren't focused on me. She didn't even know I was there.

She saw only Xena.

And then I knew.

All this time, how could I not see it? All the moments came flooding back to me, making me sick to my stomach. All the times it was the three of us, and I got the distinct impression I was intruding. That afternoon outside the Temple of Mnemosyne, Xena's sarcastic words when I asked if they were forgetting about me. łNo, Joxer. Even Mnemosyne couldn't help her with that.˛ Gods, how could one man be so incredibly stupid? She could never love me. She *would* never love me. She loved Xena.

Now, the air is deathly silent, except for the crackling of the falling sparks, the occasional rumbling of the shifting stones of this gods-forsaken place, and the soft sobs of Seraphin, who has rolled herself into a ball in the corner. Ares has disappeared, the big coward. The dead body of Callisto lies sprawled on the floor within arm's length of me. I feel no pity for her. Much of this is her fault.

I can't move. I don't want to stay here, but my legs won't obey me. Xena seems to be having the same trouble. The heat is unbearable, but I think we both know if we leave this building without her, it will be real. It will be final. Neither one of us is ready to deal with that.

Xena looks stricken. I've never seen her like this. The mighty Warrior Princess looks like a little lost child. Her knees seemed to give out immediately after Callisto took her last breath, and she sat in a heap near the edge of the pit. Now, her hands are shaking, and her sapphire eyes keep spilling tears out to roll silently down her cheeks. I'm shedding my own quiet tears. She has said nothing. Neither have I. My throat is too constricted anyway, and I fear that if I try to speak, I will break into sobs, something I refuse to do in front her.

Now what? The world is safe from Dahok's evil, at least for the time being. We should be rejoicing, celebrating our victory. I look at Xena, and she meets my eyes for the first time in a long while. I wonder if I can possibly look as devastated as she does. We both seem to come to the realization at the same time. We don't know how to help eachother. Our hearts are broken. Our lives are shattered.

Gabrielle is dead.



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