"Since you've been gone, I kind of lost my way. Now, I found it. I
thought I could start over. But no, they don't trust me. Not even
Mother. I can't blame her. She can't see into my heart. But I've got
to believe that you can. And I wish you were here. It's hard to be
"You're not alone."
-- Xena to Lyceus at his tomb, answered by Gabrielle, in SINS OF THE
Well, Lyceus, I did it
again. You warned me. Bellos was the first. Remember? Idiot dwarfed
me, but I wouldn't let him bully Seneas. Typical of the others I took
on. You'd be so afraid they'd hurt me. "Xena! Have you lost your
mind?!" Except, I saw pride too. The shine in your eyes. "That's my
big sister." Heh, couldn't fool me. Just like I couldn't fool you.
And I never wanted to make one of you. Too bad it didn't stop me from
doing it to myself.
All those years plundering
like a madwoman. Throwing myself into battles I had no business
winning. Getting cozy with snakes. Traipsing around the world with a
chip on my shoulder. Discovering too late it'd become a boulder.
Weighing me down for the rest of my days. Pfft. Doesn't compare to the
ball and chain I've got tied to me now.
That girl who came to your
tomb? Caught me talking to you? Still here, like she said. Her
bedroll right next to mine. Took awhile, but she seems to be sleeping
okay. Been a rough day for her. She lost a friend. Only knew him a
few days, but not someone you could easily forget. Talus. A good soul,
taken by Death far too young .… Huh. Guess that's why it kinda got to
me too. Why I've been sitting here staring at the fire. Thinking of
It started out like a
typical enough caper. Well, the chasing bad guys part. People not
dying put a different spin on things. And Hades showing up. Telling me
his sister Celesta – aka Death – had been captured by King Sisyphus.
You know my attitude about the gods. Surprised I'd agree to help them,
huh? Thing is, the favor wasn't just for them. Mortals do need Death’s
hand for relief from pain and suffering. Not to mention from the bad
guys popping back up after I'd gutted `em.
I go off to free Celesta.
Gabrielle's supposed to stay at a hospital with Talus. Naturally she
didn't. Don't ask. Let's just say she's as good at following orders as
you were. And as prone to worry about me when she needn't. She found
out I'd die if Death touched me. Like I wouldn't know that. Can't be
too hard on her though. She's only begun to learn about me. To see for
herself how far my world extends. Olympus being one of many realms
where I have … "fans."
So Gabrielle and Talus show
up at Sisyphus' castle. They get separated. That's when I catch him
bending over in pain. He was dying. Gabrielle didn't know. Not until
after I'd kicked butt and freed Celesta. Oh, the look on Gabrielle's
face when Death said she'd be taking, not Sisyphus, but Talus. The
grief. The love and compassion. I felt it too. And remembered.
Blood oozing from your
chest. Me, desperately trying to stop it. Begging you not to go.
Bereft of the one person who believed in me, in the need to defend our
home. Alone with the awfulness that it's why you followed me into
battle. Watching Talus go with Celesta …. The way he turned to smile
at us? Lyceus, he was so much like you! Such grace and courage.
Unafraid it was too soon. Both of you, in your few years, already
having given so much more than you took. At peace. Wanting us to be
Humph, you chided me for all
my weeping and gnashing of teeth. "No time for sissies, Sis. I held up
my end. Go hold up yours." Yeah. I did all right. Then buried what
you should've meant to me. Hung on instead to the bitterness and
guilt. Sure, I stopped fearing death too. But not for the same
reason. Without you, I stopped valuing life. Stopped caring about mine
or anyone else's. Talus brought it all back. When his face suddenly
became yours ….
Not sure if I would've
focused on myself as usual …. You know, the emotions I'd pushed away
for so long. Missing you. Missing what I gave up because you died ….
Anyway, I'm looking at him, when next thing I know, Gabrielle's turned
to me. For solace. Whew. Talk about catching me off guard. What I
felt about you? Wasn't all I'd distanced myself from. If anybody
depended on me, it’d better be for a good sword arm. That’s how I
wanted it. Assumed I had little else to give anyway, not tainted with
blood or selfish desire. Yet there's Gabrielle, acting as if I did.
See? You in a skirt. With better legs.
Know what's even scarier?
Not death. I mean, I do fear it again. After Hercules, I hoped for
suns enough to pay at least a little toward the bad I’d done. Yet
here’s this kid, basically saying there’s more to it than that.
Convinced I actually have something else to give. Something she
wanted. Needed. Forcing me to search for it no matter what I thought.
Maybe quiet, sad or joyful moments I’m not supposed to waste or
dismiss. Chances to share somebody else's burdens. Things I’d
When Talus disappeared with
Celesta – Lyceus, he left me holding Gabrielle. And her, me. A …
promise … in a way, like you were. That I wasn’t alone. As if, by
accepting her, I could finally let you go. Release myself as well from
the dark place I’ve kept you. Your soul shining in mine as it should’ve
so long ago. Weird, huh? I mean, if I do – you know, let Gabrielle in
– it could mean having you more the way you wanted. And deserve.
Neither of us so worried about what might come of me by myself. Maybe
then you could …. You could truly rest … in peace … .
Ah. Sorry. Told myself I'd
never cry again. Saw it as a weakness before. Figured now I had no
right. Guess that's gone too. Don’t seem to have much choice. All
those tears unshed. For you. Me. Everyone I’ve harmed. A well,
Lyceus. So full and … . Ahhhh ….
S'okay. You always could
coax me out of my moods. Another thing Gabrielle's good at. Listening
with her heart. Talks more than you though. Probably a good thing.
Makes up for all those words stored up in me too. Gotta be careful.
Let them out in dribbles. Can't have the flood drown her. Or me.
Lucky she has your sense of humor. Your way of taking the edge off,
making everything around her brighter. Even me.
We'll see how it goes. As
for you, you'll always be with me. Except not chained anymore to
saving me from myself. Not that I don’t still need it. Those bullies I
used to whomp? After I became an even worse one myself …. Ah, the
freedom, Lyceus. To do, to go or take whatever you want. No heart
vulnerable to mortal cares. Oblivious to spinning out of control ….
Mmmm …. The feel of a god in your blood? Once it’s there ….
What I’m saying is, for now
I’ve got another hardheaded tagalong to help me stay grounded, on the
straight and narrow. Someone else whose eyes shine when she looks at
me. Tempering those urges – that exhilaration – of a past with no
restraints. A link to memory and promise honored before your big sis
lost her way. Pfft, only a few weeks with Gabrielle, I’ve done what
makes us both wonder if I've lost my mind. Keeping her around – humph,
more accurately, letting her stay – proves I already have, eh? Lost my
Oh, well. Now that’s
settled, guess I can hit the sack. Maybe lie a little closer to my
young friend tonight, just in case. Somehow I think she'll like that.
You used to. Oh, don’t give me that. When else did you ever know me to
“sleep walk?” Fine, so I'm nuts. Nothing new about that. Except it's
not so bad this time. A "good" nuts? Heh, chew on that for a
while, little brother. A substitute for my old fare. And better
Be well, Lyceus. Me? Well,
Lyceus. Better than I've been in quite some time.
“Most people think of death as the end – when, in fact, death can be the
beginning -- of a wonderful tale.”
-- Gabrielle, introducing her story of Celesta’s capture, in ATHENS CITY ACADEMY OF THE PERFORMING BARDS