At Your Side

"…And the two friends watched the sun set on their final evening together."

Her sweaty palm unclenched the feathery white quill. Holding up the papyrus scroll, she performed her final evaluation. This was it. The final chapter of the Xena scrolls. No longer would there be new, exciting adventures to write about. No longer would they outsmart and outperform grotesque fiends and warlords. No longer would they sit by the fire, sharing thoughts, ideas and stories. And, no longer would Xena be there, to hold her when she cried.

Gabrielle was alone. And she had to accept that. But, it was impossible. Dozens of sleepless nights plagued her aching body. She still laid out the bedrolls every night. But she had no idea why she bothered. Nightmares would infest her mind. Worse ones, than the ones which occupied her while she was awake. Perhaps it was habitual, something she had been doing over the travels with her friends for years. But a new habit busied her now. To sit, and stare at the large orange flames, while adorning a dazed, hypnotic state. Dreaming of the things that were, and the things that might have been. It was an illusion, among all things. Life had grabbed her by the throat and violently shook her body. Her lifeless limbs dangled, hung and remain motionless. But she didn't fight back. There was no will left. To live and carry on was highly overrated in her eyes.

Gabrielle subconsciously brought her hands up to her neck. Grazing her fingers along her pale skin, she felt the horizontal scar. Her fingers traced the deep cut from one side of her neck to the other. So many times, she had found herself gambling with death. With the chakram gripped in both hands, she would firmly press it against her vocal chords. Waiting… To see how long it might take to draw blood. Crimson, deep liquid poured from the wound. She would hazily watch as it dripped from her hands to the muddy earth. Some flowed down her fingers, staining trails over her forearms. Following, she dropped the bloody weapon, and slowly raised her fingers to her succulent lips. Her tongue would lick up the life sustaining juice, which had once filled her veins. It possessed such a bittersweet taste. It gave her freedom, redemption… yet at the same time loneliness and sorrow. Adding more pressure to the wound to force more blood to release, she would spend her days and nights drowning in her red sorrows.

Multiple times she had passed out after performing this routine. Unfortunate for her, she had awakened every time. Why must she arrive to this cruel and lonely world? Total oblivion had felt so good…

Crusted blood formed underneath her fingernails. It could have been so easy, to perform the pinch on herself. Or to drive the chakram further, deeper into her throat. Then, she would be with Xena again. It was all she wanted. But that was the problem. It was too easy. One thing she had learned over the years she experienced with Xena was that the right thing is never easy. Their relationship had not easily come. There were many ups and downs. But it was the only right thing in her life.

A deep bitterness filled her. The "right" thing. The right thing, what she had always believed everyone should aspire to. Every being should strive to be respectful, to love others. And to stop the cycle of hatred. The right thing betrayed her. The right thing had killed the only person she had ever truly loved. The Greater Good took away her life and stability. In her time alone, Gabrielle had become a person she never thought possible. Never again could she imagine such a lonely and depressed soul lay dormant inside of her. Her insight had changed to chanting sadistic death wishes, instead of reciting beautiful stories the bard in her used to do.

1 "I can't come back…"

"Xena… That's not right!"

Gabrielle choked as tears formed in her eyes. No matter how many times she had attempted to block out these thoughts, memories always returned to disturb her. Her face burned from sitting so close to the fireside. It mattered not to her, as she remained fully unaware of this. Only her last vision of Xena's face was in her sight, staring at her through the flames. She too, was crying. Unconsciously, Gabrielle reached her hand out to the fire, hoping to feel Xena's soft cheeks. But all she received was a sharp sting from the fire. The burnt skin pulsated and she was shaken out of her daze. Just the fire with its dancing flames was staring back at her, not the gaze of the lost warrior.

A pure stroke of rage and sadness coursed through her blood. In her anger she grabbed a log next to her and threw it into the flames. Not thinking that she was only nurturing her temporary enemy. Sparks flew, and the flames began to dance faster now. They were mocking her. They thought she was stupid, and pathetic. But what did they know? They had never known true love…

"How am I supposed to live without you? You're all that matters to me…"

Mirthlessly, she picked up the scroll and rolled it back up. She had no other purpose to live… If Xena's life was over, then so was hers. Because Xena, she was her life. Gabrielle did, at first have every intention of going south, to the land of the Pharaohs. She was indeed, a girl with a chakram. But not the one they were in need of. Gabrielle knew she could never replace the Warrior Princess. Neither did she wish to try. So instead, she went back to Greece. Continuing to travel, but this time without a partner. All she had was a worn piece of pottery.

Gabrielle clutched the urn filled with the warrior's ashes and clung it to her breast. Salty tears slid down her cheeks and splattered onto the beautiful ceramic. It glazed, and its glossy coating forced the tears to fall onto the earth. She cried for herself. For her own, selfish reasons. She cried for her beloved one. Who passed over long before her time. And she cried for the people. The ones who were going to suffer and die, because there was no one to help them. The beautiful jar, for what the people of the rising sun were known for, went with her wherever she went. Various cities of Greece, but going on without Xena was too much. The thought of it was unbearable. And because of this, time had frozen. She was stuck, somewhere between the past and future. Somewhere between heaven and hell.

Gabrielle set the ashes onto Xena's old bedroll. It was all laid out, and ready for her. She knew she had misplaced hopes. As farfetched as it might seem, inside she wished that if, perhaps one night sleep were to befall her, Xena would be lying down beside her. Smiling, watching her and waiting for her to wake up. Then Gabrielle would greet the new day, with Xena by her side. They would talk and laugh, as if nothing had ever changed. She couldn't decipher fantasy from reality, and so many times Gabrielle had held long, in-depth conversations with herself. But, that's what people do when they're alone.

She briskly picked up the chakram. Every time, she gave in to this addiction of hers. The feel of the cold steel inside her skin felt so relaxing. Purposely, she applied more pressure than normal. Maybe this time, she wouldn't return to this cruel planet devoid of love. The night wind howled louder, and just as Gabrielle was thrusting the chakram to her last motion of her earthly body, the voice of her lost love whispered to her through the wind. Gabrielle dropped the chakram, gasping through her tears.

"Wherever you go… I am at your side, Gabrielle…"