“It’s so good to see you again,” Cyrene said. She greeted Gabrielle with open arms. Cyrene gave Gabrielle a hug.
“Cyrene, this is Eli and Amarice,” she pointed to her friends.
“Nice to meet you,” Eli said. He held out his hand to Cyrene.
“Where’s Xena?” Cyrene asked. She looked around for daughter. Xena was usually never far behind, this time she was.
“She’ll be along shortly,” Gabrielle said. At least she hoped she’d be along. With Xena you never know. And when Callisto was concerned, it was a different matter all together. But Xena could take care of herself, and Gabrielle had to believe that everything was okay. If she didn’t believe in this, she couldn’t go on without having concern for Xena. Gabrielle knew that Xena was the same way.
Cyrene sensed Gabrielle’s concern all over her face. “You must be hungry. Come sit down.” It was a mother’s intuition. She knew that Xena and Gabrielle were best friends. And when it came to something being wrong with either of them, it was written all over their faces. Gabrielle looked sad.
The trio followed Cyrene into the Inn.
“You’ll need help,” Ares said.
“What is you interest in all of this Ares?” Xena asked.
“Pay back for her killing Strife. Just ordinary revenge. She doesn’t deserve to live,” Ares said.
“You got that right,” Xena said. She continued on ahead. She wasn’t concerned with Ares at this point. His being here didn’t bother her. She had no interest in what he had to offer her or what he had to say to her.
“I can arrange it so you can defeat her,” Ares said.
Xena stopped and turned to face Ares. Her stoic manner brought a smile to the War God’s face. He loved this warrior. He still hoped that she would come back to him. She wanted nothing to do with him.
“How can you possibly arrange it?” Xena asked. “Don’t answer that. I’ll take care of this my way. The last thing I need to do is to owe the God of War favor. Much less have to worry about some other scheme you have worked up.”
“You can’t defeat her.”
“I beat you didn’t I?”
Ares gave a little smirk. “Yeah. You beat me because I let you beat me. That’s all in the past.”
“I can help.” He was insistent on his willingness to help his favorite warrior. He thought he could this problem to his advantage.
“No deal.” She didn’t want nor did she need Ares’ help. Xena was to smart for the War God. She knew him too well, maybe too well.
“It’s your funeral. That vision of yours can and probably will still come true,” Ares said. He disappeared.
“Probably. I have to live with it.”
“I was beginning to worry about you,” Gabrielle greeted her friend with a hug. “You’re hurt.” She eyed Xena’s injury on her side. She tried to look at it. Xena move away from her touch.
“I’m fine,” Xena softly said. She moved away from her friend. She didn’t Gabrielle to concern herself with her right now.
“You saw her didn’t you?”
Xena ignored her question. “They’ve stopped looking for us.” She didn’t look at Gabrielle.
“That’s good. You saw her didn’t you?” Gabrielle sensed that her friend had encountered Callisto on the path.
Xena didn’t ignore Gabrielle’s question any longer. Gabrielle would pry on this matter. “She’s up to something. She’s only after me. There is no reason for you or for anyone else to get involved.” She wanted to keep Gabrielle safe.
“Why is she back?”
“She’s up to something,” Xena said. She took the saddle off the horse.
“Are you alright?” Gabrielle was concerned.
“Why wouldn’t I be?” She didn’t bother looking up. She continued on ahead with bedding the horse. The torment of Callisto was evident in her voice.
Gabrielle found it hard to leave, but decided that Xena obviously needed some more time to herself. “Goodnight.” Gabrielle left the stable. Xena’s acting strange bothered her a great deal. Getting Xena to talk about how she felt was often a task better left not attempted. Xena wasn’t one for giving out her true feelings.
Xena didn’t look up. She started to brush the horse. She was lost in her thoughts. Xena finished up a few moments. She bedded the horse and then she herself retreated for the night. She didn’t bother saying hello to her mother. Like with Gabrielle, she knew when something was wrong. There was nothing either of the two could do for her at this point. This was a matter for Xena. She maybe finally able to close the book on Callisto after all.
“Something is wrong, isn’t?” Cyrene asked.
Gabrielle sat down at a table. “Something wrong is right. Yeah, she’s usually not one for talk but this unusual for her. She couldn’t even look at me.” Gabrielle knew Xena wasn’t being truthful with, at least partly not truthful. Xena was sometimes brutally honest with Gabrielle. Sometimes she would leave parts out, because they were unimportant. Other times, Xena would out right lie to Gabrielle to protect, or what Xena thought was protecting her. Gabrielle didn’t like it when Xena got this way. It usually led to trouble for her friend. And it sometimes led to some very painful events.
“Is it this thing with the Romans?” Cyrene knew about what happened at the prison. She had a conversation with Eli and told her of how Xena and Gabrielle saved his life on a couple of occasions. He told Cyrene that her daughter was a truly a good person. She should be honored to have a daughter like Xena.
“I think it is a part of it. But they aren’t looking for us anymore. There is something she isn’t telling me,” Gabrielle said. She was concerned. Cyrene comforted her. Gabrielle was hurting on the inside. She knew that the monster that lives so close to Xena’s heart is often at risk to come out. Gabrielle has been a first hand witness to Xena’s ‘dark side’. It may scare her, but she knew that without it, neither of them would be here. Gabrielle knew that when Xena got like this, that monster was coming out. She couldn’t stop it, but she knew how to deal with it. She knew how to control it.
“You have to put the bounty back on Xena’s head,” Callisto said to Octavian.
“I don’t have to do anything. With Caesar out of the way, she won’t be a problem anymore.”
“Don’t be so sure of that. Xena has a tendency to make herself a problem. It’s these sentimental missions she goes on. This goodness and the ‘way of the warrior’ just really isn’t her,” Callisto said.
“Who are you?” Octavian had no trust for this beautiful woman. He wasn’t going to be dupe like his uncle. He was far to smart for that. He didn’t need help in fulfilling his destiny.
“I’m a friend that can insure that Xena doesn’t make herself a problem for you and that you get what your Uncle Caesar didn’t. I’m a servant of a person who can promise a great many things,” Callisto snared. “Xena was responsible for Caesar’s death. She convinced Brutus that Caesar was a tyrant bent on becoming an all- powerful being. Which he would have if it hadn’t been for Xena. Xena, she is always messing with my plans. She’s really good at it too. Gets my nerves a lot.”
“If Xena becomes a problem, I’ll deal with it myself. I will get what is best for Rome. Unlike Caesar, I won’t let my weaknesses get in the way of my mission. Leave before I have the guards arrest you,” Octavian ordered. “Don’t come back.”
Callisto left. She was most displeased with this turn of events. She knew she couldn’t succeed with Xena. Xena’s will was far to far to powerful to break.
“Damn!” Callisto shouted. “Xena has my sister and she is casual about it.
Octavian doesn’t care about Xena, or that she could become a threat to him. Oh well,
back to basics I suppose. Time for a rematch Xena. This time, I’ll win. I know how to
win. Your precious Gabrielle.”