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By Your Side

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Why do you do that? Why do you constantly punish your self for a past that has been erased? I asked you that when we got back from Shark Island once and I want to scream it again and get you to answer me. You never will. You always wish to keep me innocent and on a pedestal and you never want me to live or relive that pain with you. I just want to walk through this life with you. Many times I ask myself these questions and it has been weeks since our run in with Najara. We sleep together, we eat together but when it comes to our paths we could not be any different. You are a warrior, starving for action, and I am … I don't know. Sometimes I'm a bard, and sometimes I am … a sidekick. Yes, I know I am a tag along even now but at the campfire as you sharpen your sword I see your gaze a thousand miles away. The steady metallic sheek sheek sheek of the stone on the sword tells me you are not here, well not mentally of course, but you are in a distant place in your memories. I sigh and open a scroll and begin to chronicle our journey this far.

SHEEK SHEEK SHEEK… you almost did it. you almost left me. My source, my reason for living, almost left me for a blonde psychopath hell bent on winning your heart. Oh wait what about that parachute pants wearing wacko in the cave wanting to suck out your soul and turn you into a blue statue? Oh Gabrielle, you give your heart so willingly and easily. It's one of the very things I love about you, your innocence. You yelled at me a few days ago about no longer being innocent and for that I have to give to your end of the argument. You have shed blood, taken the life of another but it was to save a life. Your soul is pure and clean but your hands are stained red. It is the innocence of your soul I wish to protect that is why I wish not to tell you of my past and the events I should atone for. We are lucky we ran into Nayima in India or I would be on the wrong path myself. Thanks to Krishna, the path of the warrior, I scoff at it too with you as my partner, is my way. When I see you with your smile and your glow I wish sometimes I never took you from Potadeia. I wish we never went to Britannia, and I wish I had never fallen so helplessly in love with you. Yes I admit it, I have admitted it for a while now. I don't want you to see my darkness. I have grown quiet and withdrawn and for that I am sorry.

Thoughts of those women sounded out louder than thunder in a thunderstorm to the Goddess of Love. She sighed and the only thing she can do is shake her head that these two very suborn women. One wants to love the other so badly she would kill to keep her and the other loves her partner so much she sometimes looks pathetic waiting for a sign that her love is reciprocated. Xena stopped sharpening her sword and stood up and stretched. She walked over to Gabrielle and crouched down and pulled the blanket up to her chin and then placed a stopper in the ink well and the quill and the inkwell to the side on the ground. Aphrodite saw the woman and her own heart swelled then she saw the thin almost translucent … push toward the women.

"You are on my turf Aphrodite," whispered a voice to Aphrodite's left. The Goddess turned and found a brunette, lean, and gorgeous. Aphrodite smiled as she walked toward the other goddess. She put her arm around the brunette and kissed her cheek and a millennia passed before her eyes as there lives were once inseparable but dearest daddy of the Greek gods didn't want her cavorting with the luscious, delectable, wonderful, lovable roman goddess of love, Venus. Venus looked toward Aphrodite and pressed her lips to Aphrodite's then looked back to the women before her.

"I missed you Greek Goddess of Love," Venus purred as she clasped Aphrodite's hand with her own but her eyes never let go other the mortals before her.

"I missed you as well Venus," Aphrodite admitted with a smile as she kissed Venus's hand then looked in the same direction as Venus, "You did something to my girls, what was it?"

Venus finally turned from the pair before them and place her index finger on Aphrodite's lips and then her thumb followed making Aphrodite's eyes darken and Venus pulled her finger from silky lips and then pointed toward Xena and Gabrielle. They both watched as Xena pushed a stray strand of Gabrielle's bangs from her forehead and then stilled her hands as Gabrielle spoke. She has been muttering in her sleep for months, even more so in recent weeks since Najara but not crisp loud words. She was shocked to stillness as she remained crouched next to Gabrielle. Her hand clenched into a fist as a tear slid down her cheek. She stood and shook out her legs and took one last glance at the woman she loved and walked down to the water of the river they camped next to.

"Oh you are good," Aphrodite praised the goddess before her and pulled her into a hug then before their lips met Aphrodite snapped her fingers. Both goddesses molded to each other in an embrace then looked to the sleeping mortal and then watched her rouse from sleep looking for something, or someone. Gabrielle stood up and looked around the campsite and then followed Xena's tracks toward the water.

"How long has it been since we worked together, love?" asked Aphrodite in a sweet voice.

"Its been too long," Venus let go of Aphrodite with a frown, "It been too long since you left for the chains of Olympus." Venus slowly walked toward the waterfront after Xena and Gabrielle and Aphrodite followed and caught Venus's hand.

"Its because Zeus made me, and you know he would tear this world apart if we children are not at his beck and call," Aphrodite defended herself but even as the words left her lips she thought they sounded shallow. Venus turned around, her brunette hair shinned in the campfire and then she took a step to Aphrodite and caught her goddess's lips with her own. Venus crushed this creature to her entire body, and drank hungrily from her lips and it was only when she heard voices did she come back to earth. Aphrodite stood before her exposed.

"If you want me to forgive you, then I have centuries ago," Venus took Aphrodite's hand and walked toward the voices of mortals and then muttered, "I just wish you came to Rome sooner love," it was only loud enough for Aphrodite to hear and the sultry sound of Venus's voice made her knees shake and her heart pound, and a smile slipped upon her lips.

Footsteps, They were behind her. If she didn't listen to those foot falls she would have launched a dagger into the woods claiming her prize. But she knew those steps, and when she listened further, and the way she breathed. She cleared her throat and wiped away any traces a tears and looked into the water. She sat still watching those midnight depths, deep and dark, like her past, and she dared to believe her soul. She flinched as a small hand slid to her shoulder. Before she spoke that hand pulled back. Xena's hand shot out and pulled Gabrielle's hand to her shoulder and intertwined their fingers. They watched the water.

"I love you, Xena," whispered Gabrielle. Xena's ram rod straight back slumped. And she put her palms to her face and scrubbed her cheeks then stood up away from Gabrielle.

"By the gods Xena," Gabrielle threw her hands in the air, and turned to walk from the water then she was stopped by words she hoped to hear but resigned to never hear in this lifetime. Gabrielle looked behind her and saw Xena standing by the water with her arms crossed over her chest. Then Gabrielle took a longer look. No, they were not crossed over her chest, they were folded, over her heart. Xena faced Gabrielle but still looked at the water and she saw a tear slide down Xena's chiseled cheek. Gabrielle placed her hands on Xena's folded arms, and pried one, then the other from her warrior's body. Xena still did not look at her.

"Why, Xena?" Gabrielle asked as she stepped close to friend but there was no answer other than a head shake, "Are you afraid of me?"

Xena slid her gaze to Gabrielle and Gabrielle gasped. Pain, anguish and self-loathing trapped in those baby blue eyes that bore into her very soul. Gabrielle clasped their hands and twined their fingers together and then held her warrior princess in one spot. She should have known she would have to be the first one to say it, the first one to accept it, and the first one to do anything about it. Gabrielle rose onto her toes and kissed the softest lips she has ever felt. Her lips were even softer then the silks from Chin. Then she pulled away and she heard her strong warrior whimper from the loss of contact. Gabrielle let go of Xena's hands then slid her hands around her waist pulling them close. Gabrielle prayed she was doing the right thing. Her fears were resolved as she felt Xena's strong arms slipped around her shoulders pulling them tightly together.

Elysium, it must has been Elysium standing there feeling Gabrielle's lips against her own. She almost dropped to her knees when Gabrielle pulled from her then she found paradise when she embraced Gabrielle. She took a deep breath inhaling the scent of Gabrielle's hair and then her paradise was jarred back to reality by a question.

"Answer me Xena. Are you afraid of me?" Gabrielle asked into Xena's shoulder. Xena clenched the woman she loved tighter to and closed her eyes. She nodded. She confessed the real reasons why she kept Gabrielle at arm's length.

"I am afraid of giving you my heart," whispered Xena then Gabrielle moved to argue but she was silenced as she slammed Gabrielle to her chest holding her.

"Please let me finish then you can yell at me," Xena took a deep breath, "I am afraid to give you my heart because every person I gave it to has died or left me," Xena swallowed tears, "I can't bear it if you died , and couldn't handle it if you left me. And recently you almost did," Xena swallowed tears.

"Recently you have ripped my heart out from my chest and left me choking on that loss. And it was all of my fault," Xena finally confessed her secrets to the one person she loved most in this work and let those tears she had been hiding for years run down her face in rivulets.

"You have to give this a chance Xena. We were meant to be together, and you know that our souls are forever connected through our past and future lives. Please let this happen for the both of us."

"I can't Gabrielle, the vision it was too real," Xena pulled from Gabrielle to look into her green eyes and then smooth some of her bangs from her forehead and then tightly embraced her partner.

"We control our futures Xena and mine will always be by your side, in life and in death," Gabrielle saw that vision, she saw the future Alti streamed into her mind. The future Xena was afraid of, and the future she was determined not to let rule her life.

"Gabrielle…" Xena began but was stopped.

"Say it again Xena," Gabrielle softly commanded as she clutched Xena tighter.

"I love you Gabrielle," Xena whispered into Gabrielle's hair.

Gabrielle looked in to Xena's eyes, "Then that is enough Xena."

Xena stood rooted to the spot with the woman she loved wrapped around her. IF this was not Elysium, or Illusia, or even paradise it must be a dream. If it were a dream she wished she would never wake.

Aphrodite and Venus stood next to each other watching hearts bloom before their eyes. As the two soon to be lovers made their way back to the campfire and slept wrapped around one another the two goddesses walked along the water's edge. Aphrodite admitted it was gorgeous in Rome and many times in the past she wished she would have stood up to her father but they were both goddesses with responsibilities. They loved, it was their nature, their way, and their job. Aphrodite will admit she fell in lust often, and fell into just as many beds, but she very rarely loved. When she did she would fall hard, and be heartbroken. Yes, a goddess can be heartbroken. Venus was the opposite. She loved to bring love to the world just as Aphrodite did, but Venus loved, truly deeply madly loved only once in her eons of existence and it was that kind of love she felt for the woman next to her.

"If I became mortal would you come with me?" asked Venus as her sandal kicked a pebble. Aphrodite looked to the roman. She was perfect from the shine of her hair, the grace in her step, even in the way her roman toga in shades of mauve, and blue draped over her body. To Aphrodite she was perfection, and the only woman she ever loved.

"Oh Venus. I would, I really would but if we left what would the world be like without love?" Aphrodite asked with a pout about her lips.

"It would be a wasteland. I know, I was just thinking out loud," Venus also pouted.

"No lover, you wanted to know if I would make the choice to be with you," Aphrodite clarified and Venus nodded, "Then yes I would."

Venus whipped around and looked to the blonde goddess. Her face said more than any words and then there was a crack of thunder that had nothing to do with Zeus as they came together hands, lips, mouths, and bodies.