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 author’s 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 didn’t 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 she’d once known such happiness on with Hephaestus. 

“I’m lost without you Hephie.  I’m angry.  I’m angry with Xena, with you.  Why couldn’t you just walk away?  Why did you have to get yourself killed?  How selfish of you!”


The sound of the voice of her husband’s 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 of them.

“Xena.  What are you doing here?  I don’t think it’s appropriate for you to be here.  Not after…what you did.”

Just as Aphrodite expected, Xena held her ground, giving her a clear indication she wasn’t going to back away.  “I spoke with Cupid.  He told me you’ve 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 wasn’t about to leave until they’d 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 wasn’t going anywhere soon, Aphrodite decided to put up with her presence.  She didn’t 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.  Isn’t 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 Xena’s 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 Aphrodite’s 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 didn’t know if this was the last time she would ever have Aphrodite’s 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 it’s because they’re beautiful, but that’s 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 you’ve made it through another day.”

“An attack could also come in the night.”  It wasn’t 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 that’s why I cherish sunrises too.”

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 they’d met Aphrodite seemed frail. 

As Xena studied her, Aphrodite was becoming increasingly aware the emotional storm that had been brewing since her husband’s death was coming to a head.  When she looked into Xena’s 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 wasn’t Aphrodite’s 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 Aphrodite’s 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 Aphrodite’s voice now.  Her words were fueled with a fire born of anger.  “This is the place.  This is where he died.  He’s gone forever Xena, because you killed him!”

Aphrodite stood and ran over to the water, and Xena noticed for the first time since she’d arrived that Aphrodite’s feet were bare.  Xena couldn’t explain why, but the sight of the ocean washing over Aphrodite’s bare feet and legs only added to the already powerful impression of her friend’s 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 vulnerable.  So…human. 


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 Aphrodite’s gaze to find the sun was beginning to set behind the ocean’s 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 her safe.”

Aphrodite began to wipe away the tears that were spilling down her face, but Xena gently pulled her hand back.  “Don’t.  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.  “I’m not disputing your reason’s Xena.  I have children.   I understand why, it’s just...he was my husband.  He loved me.”

“I know.”

“No you don’t’!  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 couldn’t 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.  Don’t turn away from me now.  Make me understand.  I know you don’t believe it but I care about you.  I want--I need to know how you’re feeling.  Face this.  Face me.”

Xena’s words forced open the floodgates of Aphrodite’s pain, and for the first time since she’d lost Hephaestus, she found herself confronting her anger and the resentment that had been building up for this warrior she’d once called friend.  Through sobs of anguish Aphrodite let it all go.

“It doesn’t matter if they’re mortal or immortal, when men see me they see a body to be used for their pleasure.  That’s 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 I’m nothing but a stupid blond bimbo, but I’m 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 Aphrodite.

Now that Xena had her talking, Aphrodite’s words came forth faster and faster until they flowed out of her on one massive emotional tidal wave.

“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 my soul.”

Aphrodite turned from Xena, and she was amazed at how Aphrodite seemed to be almost glowing in the deepening gold’s 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.

Aphrodite’s 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. “I’m having to take over their responsibilities.  Somebody has to help Persephone run the underworld with Hades gone.  Someone must look out for Poseidon’s Kingdom and who’s going to heal the sick with Athena gone?  Me.  I feel like I’m caving in under all this pressure and I don’t 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 Aphrodite’s 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 it’s all ok?”

“No.  I came here to tell you that you’re 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 you’ll 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?  It’s 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.  She’d faced Aphrodite’s rage and pain, and they’d come through it with their friendship intact.

“You’ll 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.

The End.

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