Takes place after The Reckoning

Friends Stick By Friends

by Marie E. Costa

Gabrielle lay still listening to the night sounds. When she'd first started traveling with Xena she'd been afraid of every sound. Now she reveled in knowing what each sound was...the creaking of the tree branches, the night birds, insects and even Argo moving about. Tonight though she couldn't sleep. Had in fact feigned sleep in order to be sure her friend lay down. Their latest adventure had shaken her more than she wanted the warrior to know.

When I asked her if she was all right...that was quite a blow you took? I asked tentatively, afraid of the rebuff I was sure would come. Instead...I do have a throbbing headache...she admitted it! Oh Gaia she must have been hurting, she never admitted to feeling anything.

She doesn't see her own goodness, but I do. Why did you let them capture you? 'They're not warriors. It would have been a slaughter.' And she thinks she is evil? Believe me that's not a comment an evil person would make.

She really expected me to leave and let them kill her. When will she understand - friends stick together. She swallowed back a sob. The horror - when I saw that effigy being dragged through the street. I had to wrap myself up, hide me away in a corner. I needed to prove I believed her comment, cruel as it was - This isn't about you, Gabrielle. I never thought it was...why did she? And her telling me; it was a dumb thing you did back there! Gohds, that hurt! My retort; you would have done the same thing. She didn't even try to deny it, just claimed that was different. That got my anger up. 'Why because you're a warrior?'

Gabrielle opened her eyes and looked at the sleeping form of her friend...you really believe it's different and I will never understand that. You have a thing or two to learn about friends. I meant it when I said; ordinary people like me can defend their best friends too! Her body shook partly from fear and partly from anger...so she was still upset by that exchange...I'll have to find a way to work through that issue.

Unable to rest Gabrielle rose and went to sit by the dying fire. Reliving the events that had so recently shown her Xena's true capabilities.

And when the footprints disappeared...I was so frightened. I finally understood her comment about it being more than I thought...at least one god was involved and not looking out for our best interests. So because it was dealing with a god Xena felt I should run away...leave her to her fate...it's not her fate to die at the hands of misguided villagers. Somehow I have to spread the word of her change, make people turn to her instead of from her.

Then those men taunted her until her instincts for survival took over. She was beautiful in her rage...but I was worried...I called to her, but she was too far gone, she didn't recognize me and she attacked me. It wasn't her fault, she was in a blood rage. I'd read about it. I just never saw it before. I ran away...momentarily afraid...more afraid for what she'd feel when she came out of the blood rage and saw what she'd done.

I stood outside the doors trembling...I didn't know what to do...I knew she needed to be freed...she was never meant to be caged...but she refused to let me free her. She told me to leave her alone. My sorrow, my hurt must of shone through...I was never good at hiding my feelings. She relented. 'I didn't mean that the way it sounded...I'm glad you came back.' She admitted. My heart soared with joy.

Guilty! No! My heart crumbled. How could she go so calmly to her death. It wasn't fair...I'd only just met her...I'd only just began to live...I needed her to teach me...my tears began to fall.

She tricked the god of war! She's so incredible! How does she do it?

I ran to her...she was so surprised. I can't tell you how much you're coming back...after what I did to you...

I smiled. She might get the hang of this friendship thing someday...I trust you...I knew you'd never hurt me. Her hand gently touching my face...as if to say otherwise...

I smile. She is the very soul of goodness...she just doesn't know it.

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