After five years away, Gabrielle breathed a sigh of relief. She was finally home and she both loved and hated it. When she left it was in the company of her best friend. Now she returned with only the memories and the pain of her passing. In her hands rested the urn carrying her friend's ashes. She had promised, long ago, that she would lay Xena to rest with her family at Amphipolis and she was determined to keep that promise.
The village had prospered since her last visit. Cyrene's tavern was now a peddler’s shop owned by an older couple. When Gabrielle stepped inside, the proprietors welcomed her with open arms. Unbelievably, they remembered the young bard who had first come here many years ago. Three candle marks passed reminiscing about Cyrene and her daughter. During that time, Gabrielle had nearly come to tears several time, but refused to shed a single one. Her tears had dried up a long time ago and now her only thought was completing her task. Excusing herself from their company, she journeyed the short distance to the vault containing the members of Xena's family. Both her brothers and her mother were waiting to welcome Xena home.
"I made it Xena. You are home, just as you wanted. I miss you so much, you know. Sometimes I wake up and expect to see you lying beside me, as if it were all a bad dream. You'd tickle my nose and start grumbling about what a lay-about I am. But, that's not going to happen, is it? You're gone for good and I'm all alone. Everyone I have ever known and loved is gone. It isn't fair! We were supposed to be together forever. I know we're together in spirit, right? Well spirit doesn't help the loneliness or the pain. I love you, Xena and I always will."
Gabrielle set the urn beside Cyrene's cask and slowly turned to leave. A cold chill passed down her spine and she knew she was no longer alone.
When she turned around it was no ghost she faced, but the God of War, Ares.
"Oh it's you!"
Non-plussed by her unenthusiastic welcome, Ares smiled anyway. "Sorry, you were expecting someone else? A tall ghost in black leather, maybe?"
He could see the blood rising to her face and laughed. "Don't get all excited, Blondie. I didn't mean any disrespect. You should know better than anyone how much I cared for Xena. I miss her too, you know. There will never be another one quite like her. But, she is gone. There is no miracle or hocus pocus that can bring her back."
"What do you know about it Ares? You weren't even there. I could have brought her back but I didn't. She wouldn't let me. Now what do I have, huh? I lost the most important person in the world to me for the sake of the greater good. Well screw the greater good, Ares, I want her back and that's not going to happen. I might as well have died too!"
Ares grabbed her arm, "Don't say that! Don't ever say that! As long as I have known you, you have never been a quitter. Don't start now. What would Xena say if she heard you talking like that?"
"That's the point Ares, she can't hear me, not anymore! At least when it first happened, I could feel her spirit around me, now I don't even have that. Somewhere along the way, I lost even that! So you tell me what I have to live for?"
Gabrielle pulled away and ran outside, unable to stand the memories the tomb carried. She had her first real connection with Xena there. She had offered Xena her friendship and surprisingly Xena had accepted. It was just too much. She has spent the last five years running away from this place and now that she was back, leaving again was all she could think about. She quickly mounted her horse refusing to look back.
The tomb was barely out of sight, when Ares appeared in front of her.
"Can we finish? You asked me a question and I intend to answer it, alright?'
"I don't really care what you have to say, Ares, but if it will get you away from me, have at it. What is this pearl of wisdom you wish to pass on to me?"
"Well, what about your family? Your sister Lila and her daughter live near here. I'm sure they would love to see you. What about Eve? Don't you think that she needs you? She doesn't even know her mother is dead, since you didn't bother to send word to her. She has a right to know, don't you think? And last, but not least, who will keep us gods in line now that Xena is gone? " He added with a wink.
Annoyed that his words rang true, Gabrielle simply nodded. "Alright, Ares. You have made your point. I was being selfish, thinking only of my loss." begrudgingly she added, "thank you".
"Your welcome. Now answer a question for me. Can you really use that thing or what?" pointing to the chakram at her waist.
With a slight twinkle in her eye, Gabrielle set the chakram flying. It bounced off a nearby tree and nearly clipped Ares head before returning safely to her hand. "There's the tenacious blonde that I know," he thought.
"Not bad, but I could teach you how to really use that thing."
"No thanks, Ares." she laughed.
"Well it was worth a shot. I guess I'll see you around the Acropolis."
"I suppose you will, Ares. I suppose you will."
Gabrielle waved good-bye as she cantered off in search of Eve.