The Truth

By Xena's Protegee

 

"I couldn't have picked a more perfect day to go home" Gabrielle thought to herself. She had been walking all day but she wasn't tired. The thoughts of seeing her family again, especially Lila, made her somehow feel refreshed again.

She had been so tired lately, burned out. It seemed that every time she thought that she and Xena would be able to spend some quiet time together someone would need their help. She didn't mind, not really but sometimes she felt she had to give so much of herself to others, Xena included, that well, never mind she was just being selfish. Anyway, that's why she was going home. She knew that her family would be able to give to her what Xena had never been able to give. Yes, sometimes she needed a little emotional stroking.

Xena could never let her defenses down enough for that. She couldn't understand why. They were best friends. Weren't they? They had been through so much together and she had showed Xena she could depend on her yet it was like Xena still didn't trust her completely.

It hurt Gabrielle. If only she could understand why. "Why can't I break down her walls" she shouted. Then looked she see if there was anyone around that could have heard her. Thank the gods she was alone. If someone had heard her they would have thought her to be crazy. "Maybe I am". She thought to herself and laughed.

Adora lay on the ground. Unable to move because of the stakes she was tied to. One stake at each hand and one at each foot.

She tried not to think about last nights ordeal but couldn't. Donard had been so angry with her for trying to run away, so angry that she thought, hoped he kill her for sure. He hadn't though. He knew that's what she wanted and he wouldn't give her the satisfaction. He wanted to go on torturing her forever. That's just the way he was.

He had allowed his men to take turns with her, usually he kept her for himself, but last night was special, she had defied him. Then he had beaten her and left her tied there until he returned from his raid. Then the torture would continue.

Her side felt like a knife was sticking in her, she knew it was not so she must have a broken rib. She wanted to cry out from the pain of just breathing but she wouldn't allow herself to do that, he could already be back and just watching her so just in case she wouldn't lose control.

She prayed to the gods to let her die before he returned but the gods had never been kind to her before. She didn't expect them to start now. So she laid there waiting for Donard's return and the torture to begin again.

Gabrielle decided to try to not think about what had brought her to the point of needing to go home and just enjoy her journey. She loved fall, it was her favorite time of year. Everything was so colorful. The nights were already starting to get chilly but the days were just right.

It was still another 2 days walk home but she was in no hurry. It was nice for a change to not worry about anyone but herself. Before she had actually finished this thought, she looked through two trees and what she saw made her come to a sudden halt.

She was still too far away to tell for sure but it looked like a woman tied to stakes. She looked about carefully and didn't see anyone around so she decided to take a closer look. Hopefully, she was mistaken. All she needed was to find someone else in need right now. But as Gabrielle got closer there was no mistake about it, someone was hurt and needed her help.

After carefully making sure no one else was around she ran to the wounded girl to see if she was still alive. When Gabrielle got to the girl she realized she was alive but badly hurt. She took off her cloak and laid it over the girl then began to untie her.

The girl opened her eyes and began to struggle. "It's all right. You're safe now. Just lie still", Gabrielle tried to reassure the girl. The girl finally able to focus her eyes realized this was not Donard or one of his men, relaxed a little. She had seen this girl before, somewhere.

Where? Then she knew. "You're...you're, Gabrielle." Adora winced and tried to fight the pain.

"Yes. Have we met?"

"No. I've......seen you. You're a friend of Xena." The pain was almost unbearable when she tried to talk.

"Oh, you know Xena then?"

"No. Not really at least....at least not anymore". The pain was so bad she couldn't control herself anymore, she cried out.

"Take it easy. Don't try to talk anymore, just rest. You have some broken ribs but you'll be fine. I know of a cave that's near here. I'll take you there and you can rest until you're stronger".

"No! You have to go Donard will be back soon and he'll kill you for helping me. Please just go. I'll be all right now".

""You'll be safe in the cave. Come on, he won't find us there. You might as well give in I won't leave you here alone". Gabrielle helped the girl to her feet.

""It's not just that. You don't understand. Xena will be upset if you help me. She.....she hates me". Adora turned her face from Gabrielle so she couldn't see the tears that were starting to flow.

Gabrielle lifted the girl to her feet. "I can handle Xena, come on". The girl weak from the pain and the shock of last night could fight Gabrielle no longer so she gave in.

Gabrielle finally made it to the cave with the girl. As she laid her down on the floor of the cave, the girl lost consciousness.

Well, at least they would be safe here. Xena had shown the cave to Gabrielle and told her that she and her men use to hide out in it after a raid. It was almost impossible to find the entrance unless you knew where it was. Gabrielle would have to find wood for a fire before dark but for now she needed to rest.

"Who is this girl? How does she know Xena? Why does she say that Xena hates her? Who is this Donard and why would he do this to her"? So many questions ran through Gabrielle's mind. Well, all she could do was wait until the girl was able to answer them.

Then Gabrielle's mind went to Xena. She and Xena had met Hercules on the road and Xena wanted to spend some time with him so that was when Gabrielle had decided to go home for a while. Xena told her she would join her in a few days. Xena had never really gotten to know Gabrielle's family so maybe this was what they both needed. Maybe in that situations Xena would be able to relax and let down her defenses, at least with Gabrielle.

""It's too bad Hercules had to leave so soon but he was needed so I understand". Xena thought to herself as she rode along on top of Argo. But as least we would be able to spend more time with Gabrielle and her family.

For some reason Gabrielle really wanted her to spend some time getting to know her family. It really wasn't Xena's sort of thing, the family thing and all, but it was important to Gabrielle so Xena felt it was the least she could do for her.

Xena had noticed that Gabrielle had been acting very strange lately yet she didn't understand why. They had been extra busy lately, so much that she was just tired. Yes that had to be it, she's just tired. This visit at home is just what she needs and then she'll be back to her old self again.

Xena enjoyed Gabrielle’s company and help but she worried about her also. This was not the kind of life for Gabrielle. Many times she had thought about how she should send her away but she hadn't gotten around to it yet. "Maybe she'll want to stay home this time". Xena said to herself but she knew deep down it wasn't true. Gabrielle loved the adventure too much to give it all up.

Now Xena longed for the quiet life but knew it wasn't possible for her. She had to make up for all the terrible things she had done in the past and what she was doing now was the only way, well at least she had to try to make up for what she'd done.

Although Xena knew that the path she was going down now was the right path, sometimes she doubted that she'd really changed. Probably because the old Xena would show up occasionally without warning. Xena felt she had no real control over that terrible person who stayed just beneath the surface just waiting for the opportunity to emerge. And maybe the next time the "good Xena" would not be able to regain control. The term "good Xena" brought a smile to her face. "Yeah, right".

Then of course, there was a problem being the "good Xena". Even as the "good Xena" she had to be careful. "I've opened myself up too many times and all I ever got for it was pain. Sure I want to be a good person but that doesn't mean I have to be stupid too." she thought. Xena also knew, unfortunately, that when you put up your wall of defense it defends you from everyone, even Gabrielle. Gabrielle could sense this was between them and it hurt her, Xena knew that. "Gabrielle is my best friend and I care about her but this is part of me so she'll just have to accept that". Xena knew that Gabrielle needed emotional support from her, and sometimes Xena wished she could tell Gabrielle how important she was to her she had even tried to tell her but the words just wouldn't come out. That was just one thing Xena could not give to Gabrielle. But spending time with Gabrielle and her family was something she could give.

Xena soon spotted a camp ahead. There didn't seemed to be any one around but she decided to take a closer look.

She was right, no one was around but there was evidence that whoever was staying there had thrown a party recently. That's when she spotted the stakes in the ground. She noticed that the stakes had ropes tied on them. "Looks like they had an unwilling quest at the party" she said to herself.

She got off Argo to take a closer look and that's when she saw the foot prints. The reason these prints were so obvious was because this person wore no shoes. There was also another set of foot prints, near the first set of prints, but this person wore boots. The person wearing the boots was either a child or a woman, the tracks weren't deep enough to be from a man. She noticed that the person with no shoes seemed to having trouble walking and the other person was having to support them. Actually, carry them was more precise. This meant that the one with no shoes was injured. Xena had no choice but to investigate. She started following the tracks.

It took a while for Adora's eyes to focus, after she opened them. But as soon as they focused she realized she didn't know where she was. She tried to get up but the dizziness and pain forced her to lay back down. After the dizziness passed she opened her eyes again. She was alone in a cave. How did she get here? Someone must have brought her because there was evidence that another person had been there. Personal things lying around that weren't hers. At least she didn't think they were hers.

"OK. Just take it easy. Relax. Maybe it'll come back to you" she said quietly to herself. In just a few minutes it did. "I remember now. It was that Gabrielle, Xena's friend. She brought me here. I have to get out of here. If Donard finds us he'll kill her or worse and if Xena finds us, well that might be just as bad. I have to leave" she said this louder than she meant it to come out. But her second attempt to get up brought the same results as the first time with one difference. The pain was worse. Gabrielle returned just in time to see Adora collapse back onto her pallet.

"Just what do think you're doing?" Gabrielle almost shouted. "You have at least one broken rib, maybe more. If you don't keep still you could puncture a lung. I had to get some wood and while I was out I got these herbs. I can make a potion that will ease the pain."

"Not necessary, I'm fine.” Adora said half-heartily.

Gabriella smiled to herself. “Humor me". Gabrielle thought how much that sounded like something Xena would say. “Are you hungry?"

"No".

"Well if you want to get stronger you have to eat something.

By the way, you know my name but you haven't told me yours. "Adora, I can tell by the look on your face that Xena has mentioned me."

"Are you the Adora that used to live with Xena and her family?"

"That's right. Did she tell you what happened?"

"She only said that you had lived with them, then suddenly left for no apparent reason."

"Did she not mention the letter?" Adora couldn't help but look away as she waited for Gabrielle's response.

"No, I don't think so. I tried to talk to her more about it but she changed the subject. She tends to do that when she's upset."

"It doesn't matter. At least you know now why you shouldn't have helped me."

"Well, it's too late now. Besides I didn't have a choice. Try to rest for a while. I know you're in a lot of pain but this potion and the food will be ready soon. "

Xena followed the tracks for a while then realized they seemed to be headed toward the cave that she knew about. It seeded strange because very few people knew about it. It was very well hidden. But there was no doubt that's where they went. She'd better check it out.

"Adora, OK drink this" Gabrielle raised Adora's head up enough so that she could drink the potion. Adora wanted to refuse but didn't have the strength.

"Good. Now lay back that should start to work soon. I need more water, I'll be right back."

Gabrielle was bent over the stream about to fill her water bag when she heard something or rather someone behind her. She laid the water bag down slowly then whirled around expecting danger only to see Xena standing there instead.

"Xena! By the gods, you scared me half to death. You could have said something, you know. What are you doing here? Why aren't you still with Hercules? How did you find ....before Gabrielle could finish her sentence Xena put her hand over Gabrielle's mouth.

"Hold on! Hercules was needed somewhere else so he left. I was on my way to your village when I came upon this camp. I had a feeling there was trouble so I followed some foot prints here. I didn't know I was following you. Are you all right? What happened?"

"Well, I was on my way home when I found the camp. There was this woman tied to some stakes. She needed help.

"Yes, I saw the stakes."

"Well, she was hurt pretty bad, at least one broken rib. She said the warlord that hurt her was coming back so I had to get her away from there. The cave was the only safe place I knew of close by."

"I'd better take a look at her." Xena headed toward the cave entrance.

"Xena, wait. Ah, there's something I need to tell you before....Xena was already in the cave by this time.

When Gabrielle got there Xena was just standing there staring at Adora. Adora opened her eyes and saw Xena "Hello Xena" . Then there was silence. To Gabrielle it seemed to last a life time.

Finally it was Gabrielle who broke the silence. "Xena. That's what I was trying to tell .....Xena did not speak but she did turn toward Gabrielle, who was still standing in the mouth of the cave. "Xena I know you're upset but we can work this out." Xena pushed Gabrielle out of her way and walked out. Gabrielle had seen many different looks on Xena's face before but she could read this one. Was it anger, pain or something else? Gabrielle just couldn't tell. All she knew was that the look scared her.

"I tried to warn you" Adora said softly with tears in her eyes.

"I'll talk to her. It'll be all right'. Gabrielle said to Adora but she was really trying to reassure herself. "I'll be right back", Then in spite of her fear Gabrielle went to find Xena.

Xena was standing by the stream staring into the water when Gabrielle found her. "Xena?"

Xena turned to face Gabrielle. “You know who she is?"

"Yes."

"Yet you're taking care of her".

"Xena, she's hurt".

"How could you do this after what she did to ......my family?"

"What did she do to you?"

"I told you about her."

"All you said was that she lived with you and your family a while then left. Was there more?"

"The letter."

"What letter?"

"She left me a letter before she left."

"I thought you didn't know why she left. What did it say?" Gabrielle hadn't noticed until now that Xena held something in her hand. A letter.

"Here. Read it for yourself."

Gabrielle took the letter from Xena and began to read it:

Xena,

Well, it's been fun, but playing family gets to be boring after a while. I need a more exciting life. It was nice for a while, living with a family that gave me everything I wanted. I never had that before. You know, you and your family need to learn to be more careful. It was easy to wrap you around my finger. And you, well, you were the easiest target. I really had you where I wanted you. You actually thought I really cared about you. What was it you always said? Oh yeah, "We're as close as sisters. You're my best friend". I could barely keep from laughing in your face whenever you would say that. You don't really think I could care about someone like you. Someone who always had every- thing handed to them. To tell you the truth, I think you're the most selfish person I've ever met, besides me of course. Anyway, I found someone who can give me more and I don't have to pretend with them. I can just be myself.

Good-bye. Adora

Gabrielle stared at the letter a long time after she finished it. She just couldn't believe that the same person she'd been taking care of for the past few days could have written this. Could she have misjudged her that badly? It just didn't make sense. Gabrielle had seen the hurt in Adora's eyes when Xena walked out. The tears that come after Xena had gone. "Well, I guess if she could fool Xena and her family she could fool me" she decided. But still, something didn’t feel right about all this.

Gabrielle handed the letter back to Xena and said. "I'm sorry. This must have hurt you very much."

"I got over it"

"What do you want me to do about her?"

"I've told you how I feel but it's not my decision. Do what you have to do."

"Xena, I can't just leave her alone out here. she can't take care of herself. Xena I don't want to hurt you but...".Gabrielle didn’t know what else to say. Xena turned and walked away without saying anything else.

Gabrielle stood alone thinking. She was worried. Was Xena and her friendship strong enough to survive this? Xena acted as if I just stabbed her in the back, betrayed her or something. Well she didn't have a choice. She had to believe their friendship would last through this.

Gabrielle headed back to the cave. She was hoping Adora would be asleep so she wouldn't have to face her, just yet. But no luck she was awake.

"Well?"

"We talked."

"And?"

"She's still upset." Gabrielle said more harshly than she meant for it to sound.

"I'll leave in the morning."

"No. You wouldn't make it a hundred yards. Nothing has changed. I'll take care of you until you're well."

"Why would you jeopardize your friendship with Xena for me?"

"I'm not. Xena and I have a very strong and solid relationship. Nothing can change that." Gabrielle needed to believe what she had just said.

"Adora, Xena just let me read the letter you wrote her."

"She still has it?"

"I've thought about it and I just can't believe that you and the person who wrote that are the same person."

"Ask Xena if it's my hand writing."

"That's not what I meant. Look, I saw how hurt you were when Xena walked out. I saw the tears. If you hated her as much as that letter implied then you would have enjoyed seeing her upset. There has to be more to all of this. Tell me please."

"I don't know what you're talking about. I wrote the letter."

"Why? Look, after all that's happened, don't you think you owe me the truth?"

Gabrielle was right. She had risked her life and her friendship with Xena to help her. But she had never told anyone the truth. She had promised herself that no matter what happened Xena would never know the truth. Deep inside she need someone to know that what she did was because she loved Xena not hated her.

"If I tell you, will you give me your word you won't tell anyone, especially Xena?"

"Yes, I promise."

"It's a long story but I need to start at the beginning."

"I'm not going anywhere."

"Where's Xena?"

"She rode off on Argo. If she comes back we'll hear her."

"I was born in a small village. My parents were my only relatives. My childhood was a happy one. My parents and I were very close. One day when I was 15 a warlord named Tearach came and burned my village and killed everyone, everyone except me. To this day I still wonder why he spared me. He took me with him. It was a nightmare. I tried to run away many times but he always found me. I was there almost 2 years. I decided to run away one last time. I was determined to either get away or make him have to kill me. As I was running I heard this horse coming up behind me. I knew it had to be Tearach or one of his men. I had no place to go so I turned to fight. It was Xena, she saw me being chased so she told me to get on behind her. We found a place to hide until he gave up looking. We talked and I told her everything. She said I could stay with her family as long as I wanted. It took me a long time to trust her. I couldn't understand why she would help me. I thought she must want something but she never asked for anything. So I finally trusted her. For the first time since my parents were killed I was happy." Adora had fought to control her emotions but lost the fight at this point.

Gabrielle put her hand on Adora's shoulder to comfort her. Adora pulled away "I'm all right, sorry."

"No need to be sorry. There's nothing wrong with crying." Gabrielle smiled at her.

"I loved Xena and her whole family very much but Xena and I had a special relationship. She was the big sister I always wanted. We talked about everything. She helped me like myself again. Believe me that was hard after everything Tearach had done to me. Then one day I went to the market to get something for dinner. Tearach and some of his men were there. I didn't know it, at the time, but he had been watching me for days. He told me that I belong to him and I was coming back with him. Somehow I grabbed his knife and before he knew it I had it on his throat. He told me to kill him but if I did his men would kill Xena and her family. So I threw the knife down. He said if I didn't go with him he'd make sure Xena and her family were dead before sunrise. I knew he meant it so I had no choice. He and his army could have destroyed the whole town."

Adora was silent now. Gabrielle noticed how drained she looked, but she had to ask one question. "But why did you write the letter?"

"Even though Xena wasn't the warrior she is now, she was still head strong. I was afraid she would try to find me if I just left. I knew I couldn't look her in the face and lie to her, She knew me to well, she would have known it was a lie. So I wrote the letter. I had to make her hate me enough that she wouldn't come after me." The tears started flowing again. "I didn't want to hurt her but it was better for me than Tearach. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do, except for watching my family being killed. I knew once she read it, no matter what happened, things would never be the same between us again."

Adora was back in control again now. "I stayed with Tearach until about a month ago. That's when Donard killed him and took me. You know the rest. I've wanted to die for many years. I even tried to kill myself once when I first when back to Tearach but he stopped me and told me if I left him even in death he'd kill Xena. But after Tearach was dead I was free, free to die. Donard didn't know to hold Xena's life over my head. If you hadn't found me it would have been over."

"You're exhausted, rest now. We'll talk more later. I know it was hard to tell me this but I'm sure once Xena knows...."

Adora sat up. "No! You can't tell her! You gave me your word. Please!"

Gabrielle grabbed her. "Calm down. I didn't say I would tell her. But I think you should."

Adora fell back. “ I can't, won't tell her."

"Why?"

"Even if she believed me, which I doubt. Things would never be the same. The damage has been done. I can never have her love again and I won't settle for gratitude or pity. I have to sleep now. Please don't tell her. I couldn't....." before she could finish her sentence she was asleep.

Gabrielle went outside, she need air. Knowing this would make it easier to take care of Adora but things were still a mess.

If Xena only knew the truth that would change everything. But she couldn't tell and Adora wouldn't. Didn't Xena have a right to know what really happened? Gabrielle decided to worry about it tomorrow. She was very tired too. She went to bed but before sleep overtook her she wondered where Xena was and when or if she'd be back.

The next morning Gabrielle woke before Adora. Yesterday had been hard on Adora so Gabrielle let her sleep. She decided a bath in the stream was what she needed to wake her up. On her way to the stream Gabrielle noticed Xena wasn't back, at least there was no sign of Argo. She was almost to the stream when she saw riders coming. Gabrielle had become pretty good with her staff but there were maybe 10 of them, she wasn't sure she was that good. She decided the best thing to do was go back to the cave and hide. As she turned around to run to the cave she stood face to face with a horse and it's rider. Apparently one had come ahead to scout the area. Gabrielle's staff was in the cave and the other riders were approaching fast. She had to do something.

"I give up. Don't hurt me, please." she told the rider.

You're smarter than you look." he replied. When the man started to dismount his back was to Gabrielle. She quickly plucked a nearby branch she had noticed beside her foot and hit him across the back. As he slumped to the ground she ran for the cave. She was sure the others would see her before she got inside.

Gabrielle ran into the cave. "Adora, he's coming get up we have to leave, he saw me. Hurry!"

"Gabrielle, no. It's over. You go. All he wants is me. If I stay here he won't follow you. Go now."

"I'm not leaving you. Come on."

"I won't spend the rest of my life running. He's too much like Tearach. He considers me his property. He'll never stop chasing me. I'm tired Gabrielle, tired of everything."

"Look, there's no time to talk about this now. I'm not leaving you so let's go."

"I'm sorry Gabrielle." Gabrielle had been watching out the mouth of the cave but turned now to face Adora. As she did, Adora closed her fist and hit Gabrielle knocking her unconscious. "For that." Adora left the cave to meet Donard.

Donard was almost to the cave when Adora reached him. "Looking for me?"

"So kind of you to make this easy for me. In return I'll make it a little easier for you." Donard laughed.

"I'm sure you will. Let's go." Adora said wanting to get away from there before Gabrielle regained consciousness. Donard tied one end of a rope to Adora's hands and the other end to his horse.

"Follow me."

Gabrielle woke to find Adora gone. "No." she said to herself. "I can't believe I let her get away." Gabrielle head throbbed but no time to feel sorry for herself she had to find Adora. What she would do once she found her, she wasn't sure yet. But first things first.

Gabrielle heard a horse approaching. "Maybe they've come back for me. Well at least it'll be easier to find her that way." She looked to see what awaited her and saw Xena and Argo. "Xena thank the gods you're here. He has Adora. We have to find her."

"Why didn't he take you?"

Gabrielle told her what happened.

"Let me look at your head. Are you all right?"

"Xena I'm fine. We have to go get Adora."

"Why?"

"Xena she went with him willingly only to protect me."

"Good. I'm glad you're all right." Xena began to rummage through her saddle bag..

"You're not going after her, are you?"

"No."

"Then I'll find her without your help."

"Gabrielle, don't be a fool. That's what she wants you to do. You've fallen for the same tricks I did!"

"No Xena, you're wrong about her!"

"She not worth wasting your time over. I won't make that mistake again!"

It was all Gabrielle could do to not tell Xena. Instead she turned and started following the tracks. "I'm going after her."

Gabrielle followed the tracks of Donard and his men, careful to be on the lookout for any rear guard. As the day began to turn to evening she finally spotted the camp. Creeping closer Gabrielle moved behind a tree observing the camp. There was at least twenty men she would have to get through to rescue Adora.

She could see Adora, she seemed to be safe for the moment. Gabrielle decided to get closer and try to attract Adora's attention.

She found a hiding place near her. Once she felt secure she picked up a small stone and threw it at Adora. Adora turned and saw Gabrielle. Gabrielle was motioning with her hand for Adora to come to her. Adora only shook her head and formed the word no with her lips.

The refusal to be helped burned in Gabrielle’s mind, why was she doing this. Gabrielle decided she had to take action. She would grab her and drag her off if that's what she had to do.

With staff ready for action she ran toward Adora. A guard turned at the sound of her footfalls, a well placed blow to the mans side with her staff dropped him to the ground. Gabrielle continued on.

The sight of Gabrielle running through camp was enough, all of Donard's men were now aware of what was happening and headed for her. But before they could reach her they heard Xena's war cry and the Warrior Princess landed between them and Gabrielle.

While Xena was fighting Donard's men Gabrielle started pulling Adora away from the camp. This proved to be difficult because Adora continued resisting her efforts.

The sight of Xena caused most of Donard's men to run, only a few were brave enough to take on the Warrior Princess. As Xena slashed and punched her way through the unfortunate few Adora spotted Donard holding a crossbow, he was aiming it at Xena.

As Xena was finishing off the last man, unaware of the danger, Adora ran to Xena. Xena heard the sound of the crossbow bolt headed for her and reacted just as Adora's body slammed into her. Adora knocked Xena out of the path of the bolt but was hit by it in the process. Adora fell to the ground, with the wooden shaft sticking out of her chest.

Xena looked down at Adora and then ran after Donard who was now running for his life.

Gabrielle ran to Adora. "Take it easy, you'll be all right".

"Xena?" Adora tried calling to her but only a whisper came out.

"She's fine. Don't talk save your strength. As soon as Xena gets back we'll get you back to the cave and Xena can take the arrow out."

"No, please, I just want it to be over." she whispered.

"Stop talking like that I've gone through to much in the last few days to let you die now." Before Gabrielle was through with her last sentence Adora had passed out from the pain.

Gabrielle looked up as Xena returned. "Did you get him?"

"No. He was too far ahead. I decided to come back and see if you were all right."

"Are you going to take the arrow out here or wait until we get back to the cave?"

Xena looked down at Adora and the bolt in her chest. "I guess I can help you take her back to cave if that's what you want."

Gabrielle nodded.

When they got back to the cave Gabrielle started preparing things that were needed to remove the arrow. "Do I have everything you need here?"

"Everything I need for what?"

"To take the arrow out."

Xena started to walk away, "You do it."

"Xena, I've never done it before!" Gabrielle followed Xena out of the cave.

"You've watched me do it."

"Xena, please. She's already weak and the arrows in a tricky place. I could kill her."

Xena had started to brush Argo and was trying to ignore Gabrielle, at least that's the impression Gabrielle had. Gabrielle couldn't believe what was happening. She had seen Xena help people that had tried to kill her. Yet she wasn't going to help Adora who had just to save her life. "OK, Xena. I'll do it. At least if she dies I'll know I tried to save her. How will you feel then?" Gabrielle turned and walked back into the cave.

Gabrielle was scared. More scared than she'd ever been. What if I do something wrong and she dies? I'll have to live with that the rest of my life. I don't have a choice. Gabrielle was disappointed in Xena. She had never felt that way before about her. Xena had to be in a lot of pain to act this way, she had to remember that. The arrow hadn't gone through so she'd have to push it through. She grabbed hold of the arrow and was about to push when she felt a hand on her shoulder.

"Get out of the way. I'll do it." Xena inspected the wound carefully.

Thank the gods Gabrielle thought to herself.

"You hold her shoulders down and make sure she doesn't move." Xena took hold of the arrow and pushed it through. The pain brought Adora back to full consciousness and she screamed. Xena broke the arrow head and pulled the shaft back through. Adora screamed again then lost consciousness once again.

"Xena will she be all right?"

"Yes. She just passed out from the pain. She'll be fine." Xena turned and walked away as Gabrielle bandaged the wound.

Adora woke the next morning with Gabrielle standing over her. "Good morning. How do you feel? I still have some of the potion I fixed for the if you need it. Adora just turned her head away from Gabrielle.

"You're lucky Xena's such a good doctor."

"Yeah, lucky." Adora said sarcastically.

"Adora. I know you're feeling bad right now but things are going to work out. Xena doesn't hate you. She took the arrow out, didn't she?"

"She only did it because you wanted her to do it."

"Xena doesn't do anything she doesn't want to do."

"I'm tired Gabrielle. I'm not going through the pain anymore. If you really want to help me, you'll go away and leave me alone. I want to die. Why can't you get that through your head?"

Gabrielle reached down and put her hand on Adora. "I understand that you're upset over the way Xena's been acting but if you'd only tell her the truth things...."

Adora grabbed Gabrielle "No! No! I want you to go away and leave me alone." Gabrielle was trying to hold Adora down so she wouldn't open her wound back up and that's when Xena walked in.

Xena must have thought Adora was trying to hurt Gabrielle. She got between them. "Xena! No!" But Xena already had ahold of Adora.

"How dare you treat Gabrielle this way! She's done nothing but try to help you. But you never did appreciate anything anyone did for you. Did you? If I ever catch you trying to hurt Gabrielle again I'll..."

Gabrielle grabbed Xena's arm "Stop it! Xena that's enough. She wasn't trying to hurt me she was trying to hurt herself."

"I'm tired of you defending her. Why can't you see what she's doing?"

"Xena! Shut up and listen to me." Gabrielle pulled Xena away from Adora. "I've had it. It's time you knew everything.

"Gabrielle, no. Please. You gave me your word. I'm begging you." A stream of tears flowed from Adora'seyes.

"Adora, you shut up too. I've have my fill of both of you. You're both too stuborn for your own good. Now you both keep your mouths shut and listen to me." Gabrielle was almost in shock that she actually had their attention.

"Are you going to tell Xena the truth or am I?" Adora said nothing. "Ok. I will." Gabrielle told Xena everything Adora had told her about Tearach and the threat against Xena and her family. When she had finished Adora was crying and there were tears in Xena's eyes as well. "Now I'm going to brush Argo and you two had better work this out before I get back." Gabrielle walked away feeling very proud of herself for talking control. But also feeling very lucky that she was still alive after telling Xena to shut up.

Xena went to Adora's side. "Is it true?"

"Yes."

"You should have told me."

"And let Tearach kill you? I couldn't. Xena....I'm sorry I hurt you but it was better me than him killing you. I had to write the letter to make you hate me so you wouldn't come after me."

"I should have known something was wrong. I should have read between the lines and gone after you."

"No. I didn't want you to find me."

"All these years I've wondered what I did to make you hate me."

"Xena, I'm sorry. I know you'll never be able to forgive me for hurting you but.......please don't hate me."

"Adora. I wanted to hate you when it happened. I thought the pain would go away if I did. Then when I saw you again the other day all those feeling came back so I wanted to hate you again. But don't you see, I couldn't hate you, then or now." Adora was sobbing now. Xena reached down and brought Adora to her. "Stop crying. It's over now. Everything's going to be alright I promise."

Gabrielle walked in and realized it was finally over for both of them. It would take time but they could begin to heal now.

The next morning Gabrielle was preparing breakfast she didn't realize Adora was awake until Adora spoke."Good morning."

"Well, good morning. How do you feel?"

"Gabrielle.....thank you."

"You're welcome. You know you could have saved yourself a lot of misery if you'd told her sooner."

"I was afraid. It was all I had left. I could almost make myself believe if Xena knew the truth everything would be alright. If I'd told her and it didn't make a difference. Well, I wouldn't have anything left to hold on to."

"But not telling her almost destroyed you."

"I know."

"What do you want for breakfast?"

"Where's Xena?"

"I don't know. She was gone when I got up." Then they heard a horse approching. Gabrielle looked out the mouth of the cave. "It's her."

"Morning." Xena tossed a bag to Adora as she walked in.

"Where you been?" Asked Gabrielle.

"I went to find Donard."

"Did you find him?" Adora looked inside the bag. She found a few small items, nothing special. She was about to set the bag down when something caught her eye, a small gold locket, her locket.

"Yes. It looked like his horse stumbled. He was lying on the ground dead, looks like he hit his head on a rock." Xena looked at Adora. "You don't have to worry about him anymore, your free. I found that on him, it looked familiar." Adora said nothing as she placed the locket around her neck. "I need to feed Argo." Xena walked out of the cave to avoid another imotional moment

Gabrielle turned to Adora. "I'll be right back." Gabrielle followed Xena out of the cave.

"Xena, can I talk to you?"

"Sure, what's up?"

"I just want to say I understand now why there was always a wall between us. You were afraid I'd hurt you like Adora hurt you."

"Gabrielle it wasn't that. I trust you completely. It just seems that no matter how hard I try to not let my past affect me now, I just can't control it. I know the way I act sometimes hurts you. But always remember I care about you."

"Xena, it's OK. Now that I know it's not me I can handle it. I care about you too. So whatever you can give it's enough." Xena smiled and turned back to Argo.

When Adora had recovered Gabrielle went to her and said. "So what are your plans?"

"I don't know. I never thought about it. Maybe I do some traveling. I've always wanted to see Athens."

"Well if you don't have real plans, maybe you'd like to come with us. We're going to visit my family."

"I don't know. I'm sure you've had enough of me for a while."

"Actually I could use your help. Xena isn't very good in a domestic situation. I could use your help to make sure she behaves herself." Gabrielle smilled at Xena.

"I think you should come along because if her family is anything like her, I'll need someone sensible to talk with." Xena looked at Gabrielle and smiled.

"Well, ok. Maybe I can find work there."

"Alright then, let's go. Gabrielle said then continued. "There's so many adventure I have to tell you about. Oh, stupid rock. I could feel it through my boot. Hey Xena, can we afford me another pair of boots? Anyway, as I was saying. There's many adventures I.....".

Adora leaned close to Xena "Does she always talk this much?"

"Yeah, but in time, you'll learn how to tune her out like I do and just listen for the important parts." Xena and Adora laughed.

Gabrielle hadn't noticed, she was too busy talking.

The End
Judy(Xena's Protegee)
 
 

Here are some special people I would like very much to thank for helping me get through my first story. But please don't blame them if you don't like it. I take full responsibility for the poor story line.

First of all I would like to thank Sithus. He did so many things to help me I can't name them all. He encouraged me. He took care of my terrible spelling and without him I couldn't have gotten through the fight scene. He put up with all my stupid questions and never lost patience with me. He made it possible for me to post this. Just to name a few things he did.

I would like to thank Writer2B for her kinds words of encouragement. She never seemed to get tired of my endless chattering about this story. She urged me to keep on going when I was discouraged.

I would like to thank Nudderfan for encouraging me and giving me advice on how to make the story more interesting. I'm not a good enough writer to do everything she told me to do or this story would be 10 times more exciting.

Last but not least, I want to thank my friend of 13 years Linda M. She always encouraged me to try new things to not be afraid to fail and she has been my friend for 13 years she deserves alot of credit just for that.

All the people I've named are acomplished writers themselves so that made it all the more special to me that they would take time to help a no talent rookie like me.

If you have managed to read all of this I thank you too.

Judy(Xena's Protegee)