The Shrine Del kaidin

'How much? and for how long? Sometimes I get tired of being the strong one. Sometimes I need comfort too. But no one offers it to me. Yes, Gabrielle's child died, but so did mine. Couldn't anyone see that I was destroyed by his death? Or maybe no one truly cares.' Looking back over her shoulder Xena saw the Amazon's rush to Gabrielle to comfort her. 'Yes Gabrielle, you said you were wrong. But was it because you meant it or because you wanted me to say it was ok and comfort you? When is it my turn?'

With her knees she urged Argo forward away from the Amazons, away from Gabrielle, away from a funeral pyre. Her thoughts continued to race. 'Gabrielle, Joxer, Diana, Meg. Gods, everyone comes to me with their problems, then expects me to fix them. But, when I have a problem I have to solve it myself. Sometimes I get so sick of being the one too fix everything. Why can't someone else do it? Gabrielle you always claimed to be one to handle the "sensitive" talks. But you don't, handling them entails helping the person through it, helping them deal with it, and getting past it. You just want to tell them how to handle it.'

Village after village fell behind her as she continued on her way to nowhere. Gone was the Warrior Princess, in her place was a mother who's child had been tragically taken from her. For once the murderous rage was not immediately taking control, she was numb she realized. Not aware of where she was or where she was going she rode ever forward.

After what seemed like days of travel she realized Argo needed a rest, seeing a small farm ahead she patted the mare's neck and whispered, "Just a little farther girl. We'll rest there." As she reached the house an old woman exited the house.

"Come in. My son will put your horse in the barn and give her feed." Turning she called into the house "Jason! Come take care of this lady's horse."

"Yes Ma." exiting the house, a young man took the reins from Xena's hand. "What's her name, Miss?"

"Argo. Go with him girl." She watched as the mare quietly followed the man to the barn. The woman's voice regained her attention.

"Come inside. I have a nice stew made, and it looks like you haven't eaten for days." With a slight sad smile she asked, "If you don't mind me asking, did you loose a child recently?" Startled by the woman's perception Xena could do no more than nod. "I thought so. Had that look in my eyes when my first child died too. Why don't you sit and tell me all about it."

"I couldn't burden you with my troubles..." She began.

"Nonsense. Who better to understand than someone who has been there. Now tell me all about it." The woman returned her attention to the fireplace stirring the stew. Reaching up she grasped a bowl and filled it. She put it before Xena and sat across from her. "What was the child's name?"

"Solon..." Tears began to flow down Xena's cheeks as she remembered and told this stranger everything. Leaving Solon with the Centaurs, Seeing him 10 years later as a young man, then the last time she saw him alive. "He wanted to go with me. I was afraid for him but thrilled he wanted to be with me. I was going to take him, tell him the truth finally then he was murdered."

A hand touched her cheek, Xena looked up at the woman, "It's hard I know, and you feel you let him down, but everything you did was to protect him. He knows that. From what you have told me he wouldn't want you to grieve, but to continue protecting others. Years ago my husband built a shrine for mothers who's children had died. A place they could visit and deal with their loss. Come I'll show you."

Xena allowed herself to be led out of the house and near a stream. The shrine was beautiful, a sculpture of a woman holding an infant was the center piece. A feeling of peace filled Xena as she looked at the sculpture. "I'll leave you now, and have Jason tie your horse outside. When you are ready you can go back to your life."

Silently the woman slipped out leaving Xena alone. Hours passed. From the door of the hut the woman watched as a pale horse it's rider now tall in the saddle galloped away from the shrine and back towards her life. A hand on her shoulder caused her to look up. "So did you help her?"

"Yes, I think I did. But dearest..."

"I know, why do you think I stayed in the house. She was your younger self, Xena, The Warrior Princess not Xena the wife and mother. Come inside. I had almost forgotten how sexy you looked in those leathers."

"Hercules..." A laugh rang out as she was picked up and carried into the house.