One Candle Mark

By

Lady Razeli

"Gabrielle?" Gabrielle looked up from her bed next to Xena's in the home of a farmer in a small village, they had just saved from bandits turned slavers. The poor farmer's wife's two sons had died fighting them, and she had gratefully offered them the beds when they had brought back her three older daughters being used as sex slaves. Xena had also taken care of her husband's wounds when the father's throat had been cut.

"Yes, Xena?" Gabrielle spoke quietly as she did so as not to wake the children. Xena fiddled with a thread in her shift. "Xena is something wrong?" Xena knew that Gabrielle's eyes now looked concerned. Xena took a deep breath and let it out before meeting her eyes.

"Nothing is wrong, I mean there is, but you'll understand when I tell you." Gabrielle nodded. She came over and sat in front of Xena on her bed. They had to talk, when was the last time they had talked the feeling of things not being said filled an empty space between them halting most conversations lately.

"Its okay Xena you can tell me anything," Gabrielle told her resting a hand over her own. So like her to assume it was just about her, and not about them together as friends. And even if it was what made her so sure she'd tell her these days? Xena nearly scowled at herself for not wanting to trust Gabrielle, hadn't they worked through their issues? Yes it had been one trying year breaking their trust in one another repeatedly. Of course it had resulted in Gabrielle killing a vessel of evil that had appeared as her child more than once, and Gabrielle having to cause her death more than once. But it had also resulted in the death of her child, her son all because of the lies that had built up between them. "Xena?" Xena shook herself out of her thoughts.

"I'm sorry I just…this year…" Xena took another deep breath and she could see that Gabrielle immediately feared the worst. "It's not whatever it is your thinking."

"So you don't want to leave me, the way you've been lately I thought…" Xena shook her head. How could she ever doubt that Xena wanted to leave her? Did she not travel to the Amazon land of the dead for her and back? She had even fought Alti and won to get back to her. How could she doubt? What reason had she to doubt her? She knew what reason; and it hadn't done either of them any good.

"No, not at all we've been through too much," was Xena's outward reply. Gabrielle nodded.

"Than what is it I've never seen you so in pain, except when…" She stopped herself, Xena realized that Gabrielle was about to bring up Solan. She patted her arm reassuringly though inside she still cringed at Gabrielle speaking his name. Yes she would mourn him all her days, that she knew and nothing would ever change that. She would always wish him beside her and she would always regret that he had been born at a point in her life where she could not make the change needed to raise him. And yet she would be grateful that his birth had changed her, her turn had been slow, but he pushed her forward. Always growing inside her, a constant reminder in her soul that if she were better she could hold him again, tell him how much she loved him. Gods had she not practically jumped with joy when he told her he loved her and wanted to be with her. She had been so filled with happiness that she could practically feel him lying next to her as she sang him to sleep at night, not that he probably would have let her at his age, but the thought was there. The feeling of contentment was there. How quickly had an arrow gone through her dream cloud turning it to smoke? How quickly had the light in his blue eyes and his very smile been taken away from her? A matter of candle marks? No one candle mark, yes that was it one fatal delusion, a mountain of lies, unquestionable trust, and one short candle mark took away her son.

"Xena?" Xena looked at Gabrielle again and she realized that she had a tear running down her cheek and the rest were threatening to follow. She wiped it away quickly before blinking several times to keep the rest back.

"Goodnight Gabrielle." She had to discontinue this conversation before she got more angry than sad. Yes sure they had gone through illusia but had it really dissolved her anger? At best it had given her a clear head, but did they mean she had no right to be angry or couldn't be even now? Certainly not by her standards, there were other ways to express anger than through killing right? And anyone would hurt her, Xena reminded herself. Not even illusia could dissolve grief. And grief came with two very powerful emotions.

"Xena what's..." Gabrielle started. Xena closed her eyes a moment than opened them before she spoke.

"Goodnight Gabrielle." Xena pulled the covers indicating she was on them. Gabrielle frowned, but she got up like Xena intended and went to her own bed. Xena quickly covered herself and turned away from Gabrielle whose eyes bore into her back, as she began to think of her son once again. She barely realized that one candle mark later Gabrielle put out the light of the candle. One candle mark she thought.

THE END