Destinies to Fulfill
The original general disclaimer in the first section is applicable.
Continued from Chapter 1
Three long hours had past before Hercules reached the end of his story. Gabrielle listened with much enthusiasm as was unique to a good bard while Xena leaned against the far wall, an unrecognizable expression on her face. The light from the flame occasionally catching her eye making her resemble a dark shadow, peering out of a closet. The tale was a sad one telling the end of two great men each valiantly fighting for a lost cause. The flickering flame making the tragic story seem even more dramatic.
At last when it was all finished Xena, Hercules and Gabrielle spent minutes silently observing each others reactions. Gabrielle turned her gaze towards Xena. Xena herself was staring at the Back of Hercules' head and her face was set in an expression that Gabrielle knew was utter determination.
After what seemed forever, Xena spoke - her voice was smooth and was not in the least wavered as Gabrielle would expect anyones to be after an emotional tale like the one, that had chilled her heart.
"Its late, I think we should all get some rest."
Gabrielle could hardly argue that, they had been traveling for days and she was exhausted physically as well as emotionally.
"Will you be all right up here by yourself Gabrielle ? - I'll stay with you if you want."
Gabrielle looked around the room, obviously Hercules had gone to a lot of trouble to set this up for her and she had to admit that it was rather comfortable.
"I'll be fine, Where are you guys sleeping?" Gabrielle questioned.
"I'll think I'll sleep in the house, I need to talk to Hercules for a while."
"Shout if you need anything."
"I will. Goodnight."
"Goodnight Gabrielle, I'll give you a tour tomorrow."
"Sweet dreams Gabrielle" said Hercules before both he and Xena left Gabrielle alone with her thoughts.
When Xena and Hercules entered the house, nothing was said. Hercules set about stoking up the fire which had almost extinguished. It was a cold night, the air was crisp and chilly and numbed already tired bones.
"It's late, I better get changed..." Xena stated solemnly.
"Yeah." Hercules replied.
Leaving Hercules and the warm fire behind, Xena entered the bedroom for the second time that day. She removed her armor, weapons and clothing and laid them in the large chest that lay at the foot of the bed. She took out the silk robes and adorned it, tying the sash around her waist. Once again she took in the sight of the room which by now was almost pitch black. As if on queue Hercules appeared in the doorway, holding two candle each in one hand.
Xena turned and met his eyes.
"I ..uh...thought you might be needing this..." He explained as if uncertain of himself.
"Thanks." Xena said before moving to take one of the candles and placing it at the side of the bed, illuminating the blankets and furs that covered it.
Hercules cleared his throat. "Do you want me to sleep on the floor ? I understand that..."
He didn't get a chance to finish "No, stay, it's our bed remember ?" Xena smiled which lightened up the atmosphere, slightly.
Hercules removed his shirt. The candle that he had been holding by now had dripped hot wax over his hand. He cursed under his breath.
Xena laughed, "Want me to take a look at that?"
"No its fine." Hercules replied placing the offending candle on the other side of the bed.
"Come 'ere" Xena encouraged.
Hercules clamored over the bed and sat over its side facing Xena. Xena sat down beside him on the bed and grasped his burned hand and began to massage it. It didn't really hurt, but it wasn't helping the situation at all. Xena concentrated on Hercules' hand, not wanting to look up and face the inevitable confrontation. Hercules fixed that.
"I havent seen you in that robe since the day you left." Hercules continued as Xena had said nothing. "I always thought it looked beautiful on you, the blue matching your eyes...then again anything looks good on you."
Hercules interrupted. "You know, come to think of it you never did tell me why you left...and here I was thinking you were happy, that we were happy. Obviously I was wrong."
Xena looked up. "Thats not true! I was happy...that was the problem."
"What do you mean? That doesn't make any sense."
"Don't worry, Its not important."
"It's important to me!" Hercules almost shouted. " After all this time, please tell me why you left me." It was almost a plea.
Xena sighed and looked away.
"I left because I was happy...because I didn't deserve to be...I didn't deserve to have you...I don't deserve to have you."
"Xena you do deserve to be happy...like anyone else...let it go."
"I can't!" Xena yelled " You don't know what it was like, for the first time since Amphipolis, the nightmares where gone. I felt so safe in you arms, so complete, but every morning when I woke up and looked at you I was reminded what a murdering, filthy, maniac of a Harlot I was. I didn't deserve you and you didn't deserve to have someone like me either. I kept on imagining you being spat at on the street, your name being cursed and your reputation suffering all because you felt for me. I couldn't stand it. I'm not worthy."
"Why didn't you tell me ?"
"Because I love you." Xena looked down once more, a tear threatening to roll down her cheek.
Hercules reached over and brought a hesitant Xena into his arms, cradling her like a scared infant.
He whispered into her ear. "You've changed Xena, I see it in your eyes, I hear it in your voice, and nothing you did in your past could ever change the way I feel about you. You know sometimes I dont feel worthy of you."
"Oh come on." Xena managed.
"Its true, your so complex, It would take more than one life time to figure you out, you can be as gentle caring as a mother carrying her newborn for the first time and as dangerous as Ares at the same time. Do you know what I love about you the most?"
"That you allow me to see this side of you."
Xena sniffled and pushed herself up.
Hercules went on staring right in to Xena's eyes. "You're the only one I have left and I am not going to lose you."
Xena looked down into Hercules' eyes. "It not going to be easy."
Hercules smiled up at Xena and pulled her down onto his lap. Xena let out a small yelp.
"Since when has anything been easy for us ?" Hercules said before pulling them under the furs.
They embraced the night together, baring the essence of their souls to each other as if when the sun came up, it would mark the beginning of the end of the world.
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