DISCLAIMER: All characters and their backgrounds mentioned in this story that are also present in the television show Xena: Warrior Princess are the sole property of MCA/Renaissance Pictures and the author intended no copyright infringement. All other characters not already owned belong to the author and copyright laws apply. This story cannot be archived without permission from the author. If permission has been granted, this complete disclaimer must be attached along with any other general notes and warnings.
NOTE: Yes, it's yet another depressing story from jolly Xenrielle :) Sorry I seem to keep doing this to you all. Feel free to read one of Joanna's stories to chear youself up :)
NOTE II: Yes, not one of the best titles, but I was too ... what's the word? ... morbid to think up a decent title :) Maybe Solan's Revenge? Or not .....
Escaping Through Death?
It was late and Xena didn't know where Gabrielle was. But, more importantly, she didn't care. Callisto had been right when she said that the death of your family pulls out your gut so all that's left is the pain. Solan was dead. Because of Gabrielle.
Her once best friend had deliberately betrayed her. She had ignored all common sense and trusted that ... that vessel for evil that had only by chance been Hope -- her daughter. Why was she so blind to the obvious? Why had Gabrielle gone out of her way to save that ... thing's life when it didn't deserve to breath the same air as anyone. Especially Solan.
"Oh, Solan," Xena moaned as she sat down on the log in the woods. "Why didn't I tell you? If I had only known you were to be whisked away from me, I would've made up for all those years I missed. We could've been a proper family." Tears sprang to her eyes and she put her head in her hands. "Why? Why?"
A sound beyond the trees made her lift her head. Talking. One sounded like a child, while the other ... .
"Gabrielle," Xena hissed as she rose to her feet, her muscles tightening. She walked silently through the trees until she saw Hope in a small clearing. Hope. The murderer of Solan.
Rage contorted the chiseled features and the icy blue eyes shot daggers through the rows of trees as Xena watched Hope talk to Gabrielle.
"Why are we stopping mommy?" The child asked innocently.
"It's late, Hope. We need to camp here for the night. We'll set out in the morning." Gabrielle's voice was just above monotone and with no emotion.
"What shall we do for food? I'm hungry."
"I'll find something." Gabrielle rose to her feet, then stopped. "Are you thirsty?" Xena's eyes narrowed through her hiding place in the trees.
The bard stooped and picked up the waterskin. She paused for a split second before presenting it to her daughter. "Here. Have some of this then while I find some dinner." She turned and walked into the trees to the right of Xena.
"You do that, mommy," Hope said bitterly when Gabrielle had gone. She let the sour smile pull the corners of her mouth as she uncorked the waterskin and drank its contents. Slightly bitter liquid slid down her throat, but she was too thirsty to notice at first. Suddenly, a sharp pain stabbed her stomach and she doubled over. Xena's eyes widened.
Gabrielle stepped through the trees and stood on the edge of the clearing. She watched as Hope clutched her stomach, gasping for breath. After a few agonising seconds, the child collapsed onto the grass and her chest was still. The waterskin teetered for a second before rolling out of her small, lifeless hand.
The bard stared blankly at her daughter for many minutes before finally walking over and placing the blanket she had hidden in the trees over Hope's body. She knelt down and bowed her head. She had just killed her own daughter. She had finally done what Xena wanted her to do, but it had taken the death of Xena's own son, Solan, for the bard to take action. Her best friend's son was dead. Because of her ignorance.
Xena watched with narrowed eyes as Gabrielle slowly picked up the waterskin still filled with some poison. The bard's eyes were stormy as she lifted the tip to her mouth and tilted her head back.
The warrior watched silently, not knowing whether to listen to the part of her that still loved her friend and could not bear to be without her, or to the part that had lost its only son and wanted revenge for his death. Just as she was about to make a decision, Gabrielle stopped and pulled the waterskin away, tipping its black contents onto the grass beside her. She let go of the skin and it landed with an empty thud beside her.
Something in the trees moved and the bard lifted her head, half expecting to see Ephiny or a curious centaur standing there. She raised her stormy eyes in morbid surprise as the tall, dark figure of Xena stepped out from behind the trees. The look on her face told Gabrielle that she had seen everything.
Xena stood and looked at the bard. The one who was responsible for her son's death. The one who ....
Gabrielle held her head higher. "Well," her eyes spoke silently, "I finally did what you wanted. I killed my daughter."
The sudden realisation of what Gabrielle had just done shook Xena momentarily. She had indeed killed her only daughter. She had premeditated and executed the murder. Gabrielle. The one who opposed killing and had been torn apart when she first took a life. Gabrielle, who ... had nonetheless caused the death of Solan; who had betrayed Xena's trust.
The bard's heart ripped open as those blue eyes once again sunk into the depths of the pain and suffering their owner was going through. Gabrielle had never thought it possible for her actions to cause that amount of suffering in her friend. She lowered her head as Xena turned and walked away. She just hoped the warrior would be able to forgive her. She hoped like she had never hoped before.
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