"The Mind of Love"

by FreeBard

Chapter 3-"A Thin Line Between Love and Hate"

Gabrielle stomped down the path to the stream. Well, stomped as much as her frame could allow. ‘She can’t do this to me every time we face something unpleasant. She can’t! I am…I am-’ She stopped a few feet away from the gurgling stream and sighed. She wiped another tear away from her right cheek with an impatient flick.

‘Get hold of yourself, Gabrielle,’ she offered to her overtaxed brain. ‘Your anger will get you nowhere…it never gets anyone to the place they want to be- just look at…’ So many glimpses of her life from the past few months completed this thought. Xena filled this thought. Realizing once more this most painful of truths, she reinstated the quiet resolve that she had leaned upon so heavily of late. She let the sounds of the stream clear her senses.

She was weary. Her bard’s soul grasped that word completely, for it embodied all that clung to her heart and mind, and fit too, for her body. Just…weary, to the core of her being. Weary.

She rubbed her eyes lightly with the tips of her fingers, and shielded a yawn. If she didn’t watch herself, she would betray her own sleepless nights to Xena. Keeping up an exterior peace was taking its toll, especially when Gabrielle wanted nothing more than to finally lay to rest the turmoil that consumed her thoughts. Now, though, to release this all now could be fatal. Xena would take her stance as protector, as hardened warrior, and as self-hater. ‘We have done much to heal these wounds,’ she clung to this thought. It was the truth, they had. Solan, Hope, Ming Tien…these words did not hold the terror for her now. It was Trust and Love that loomed like the monsters they should not have been.

When will she trust me to relieve some of her suffering? When will she trust me to battle some of my own? The pain was real. But it was wrapped in and infused with a much deeper love. It was always there, just beneath the surface. An equal love. ‘Xena will someday share her soul, no matter how dark, with me,’ she thought, sighing. And I will be waiting.

‘But until then?’ her mind demanded. ‘I have no answer to that question,’ her heart replied. She lost her concentration.

"Ah," she said finally, aloud, "just get the water."

"All right Ares, what do you want from me?" she said, eyeing him darkly.

"Oh, no Xena you misunderstand. I’m not here for you."

She stood up a little from her stance. Her eyes widened briefly and then returned to slits as she realized his intentions. He smiled, for although she remained silent and composed, he knew her so well that her moment of expression betrayed her to him. That moment where she glanced toward the stream had told him enough. He laughed a little, still gazing at her intense face, studying her fierce expression.

"Oh Xena, she will be your downfall," he paused thoughtfully, "or you will be hers. It is that way with all warriors."

Xena’s stare remained fixed on his now grinning eyes. She vaguely heard some noise from the trees where her friend was retrieving the water, but continued watching him intently as she prepared to battle anything he would send her way.

"You know I will do all in my power to stop whatever it is you have planned," she said ardently. "Hmmm," he smiled again wickedly and disappeared in a flash of light, as Gabrielle emerged from the woods, water skin in hand.

"What’s going on?" she issued as she approached Xena, who was still tensed.

"Nothing, Gabrielle."

Gabrielle looked at her, doubtful. "You don’t look like it was nothing."

"Gabrielle, let it go."

"I need to know. I need to know if it concerns me-"

"Gabrielle-" Xena insisted, raising a hand up to silence her.

"It concerns me if it concerns you-" she insisted, nearly pleading.

"Gabrielle!" she screamed. There was silence for a moment, as Gabrielle stood, slightly shocked and utterly still. "Enough…Trust me, please."

Gabrielle nodded slowly, silently handing her the full water skin as the word ‘Trust’ echoed in her mind. Xena looked down at it, surprised to see it and not remembering her use for it. She took it, mumbling thanks as Gabrielle turned and walked away toward Argo on the other side of the clearing.

To Be Continued...


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