Gabrielle stood facing the Colonel and the Captain. They were in someone’s office high in the upper floors of the building. Clearly the two women had been having an argument. She addressed the Captain. “Your first name is Sonya is it not?”
“Yes ma’am” The Captain used her parade field voice but not its volume. It was flat and disciplined.
“May I call you that?” Gabrielle had never been in the military, but she had been an Amazon for a very long time. Amazons usually had a bit of trouble restraining their passions. She was no different than any other Amazon. So her voice was a cross between annoyed, impatient and coldly courteous.
“Thank you.” She looked directly into Sonya’s eyes. “You and Hope were friends.” It was not a question.
“Yes” Sonya was afraid of where this might lead. Her eyes told more than her schooled voice.
“You were best friends.” Again it was not a question. But Gabrielle watched Sonya’s reaction closely. She was certain that Sonya had reacted just a little more to the statement.
“Yes” She sounded proud and nervous.
“You were more than friends… quite a bit more.” She watched Sonya’s eyes try not to dart a look at the Colonel.
Sonya chewed on her answer and almost looked like she was going to refuse. But in the end she spit it out. “Yes” She did not sound ashamed, Sonya sounded proud.
“And Amy, she was more than a friend as well.” Gabrielle was going to get to the bottom of this game that these two had been playing. Clair stirred beside Sonya and Sonya looked like she was going to lose her composure and actually move. But their training held.
“Yes” She said boldly earning her a sideways look from the Colonel.
“And you knew about it.” Gabrielle only moved her eyes to look at Clair. “And Lori knew and Sean knew.”
“Yes” She bit the word off and scowled. “Had Hope asked Amy would have left her family.” Clair was angry, she lost her composure and said more than she had wanted.
“But Hope never asked.” The thought pained her because of the realization that it brought.
“No” Clair sounded relieved.
“I seriously doubt if Amy would have left the children. She would have left Sean but not them.” Gabrielle was absolutely certain about this and Clair should be as well.
“You are most likely correct.” Clair’s words left room for wiggle but her voice didn’t.
“This is why you were arguing?” Finally Gabrielle asked another question.
They both grimaced but finally Clair spoke. “No, I did not want her to be close to you. I feared that she would somehow distract you. We can’t have that.” She turned her head for the first time and looked directly at Gabrielle. Her eyes were pleading.
“I don’t understand how could she be a distraction?” Gabrielle was truly confused.
“I don’t know either. Sometimes you act so much like her. I guess I was a little afraid that more of her was left in there than even you knew about. I can’t allow there to be any distractions. Surely you understand?” Her eyes were still pleading but her voice was clinical.
Gabrielle nodded slightly and turned back to Sonya. “Is there any call for her concerns?”
“No my Queen, there is not and I have told her as much.” There was vehemence in her voice.
“Now tell me Sonya.” Gabrielle had another bone in her teeth and was not going to let go until she was satisfied that she had gotten all she wanted from it.
“You are in her body…and you do… as the Colonel says often act like her and sometimes you have similar expressions. But I know the difference… you are not her.” She seemed to be struggling with a thought so Gabrielle let her take her time to answer.“Sometimes I think that I see her in your eyes. But then I realize that it is really you. She was so much like you that it’s like seeing a ghost; it’s her and not her. Do you see?”
“I think that I understand.” Gabrielle turned to Clair. “Clair there is no need for you to be concerned. Even if Sonya were inclined and I’m not convinced that she is… I would not be. My heart and soul belong to only one person now and forever and that as you should know is Xena. I know that it must be confusing for you to see the body of someone and to know that the soul inside is not that person.” She smiled at a fond memory. “Believe me it was even more difficult with Cara and Margo. Please put your mind at ease Clair. Xena and I know what we need to do and nothing will hinder us in any way.” Clair seemed to take her words to heart but she did not relax.
“That’s good Gabrielle because your foe will not hold anything back.” She sounded as if she wanted to scare Gabrielle.
Gabrielle laughed at her presumption; it was a cold laugh with little humor in it. “Clair, I have fought creatures that you cannot even imagine. I have done things that would test the mettle of any hero you care to name. I have fought Alti before and lost… and won. I know what kind of woman that she is and what kind of being that she is becoming and I have fought those as well. Do not presume to frighten me like a child in a crib. I will fight to my last breath in this life and a thousand others if need be to put this evil to rest and I dare you to find one other person besides Xena in this entire universe who would so quickly and easily say the same that is not a pompous fool.” She seemed to be completely focused upon Clair’s eyes but something told Clair that Gabrielle was still seeing everything around her. She had underestimated the woman.
Clair swallowed hard and dropped to her knees before Gabrielle. “Forgive me my Queen for my stupid and unthinking words.”
“Get off your knees Clair!” Xena had been right. She had gotten angry but not for any reason she could have imagined. “I am not Hope; she is dead and the sooner that you get that through your thick skull, the sooner we can move forward with the business at hand. The only distraction that I see here is you. Your sister felt more for Hope than you like… so what… get over it! We don’t have time to sort through your personal prejudices or demons or jealousies.” She was quite annoyed with this woman and how she had been treated by her. “You’re dismissed.” She said curtly. “Go find Xena she wanted to talk to you.” Gabrielle watched Clair leave and then turned to Sonya once again. She let her temper evaporate.
“Now, please take a seat and tell me about Hope.” She sat on a big sofa and patted the cushion next to her. Her demeanor was completely different, her annoyance swept away.
About an hour later Sonya was just leaving and Xena was coming in. “Hey so what did you say to Clair? Do you always have to yell at the Amazons?”
“Who told you that I yelled at the Amazons?” Gabrielle was baffled by Xena’s comment.
“Ahh no-one told me. I could tell that you scared the hell out of her. That’s not an easy task mind you. She’s a tough bird and yet you managed to shoot her out of her nest.” Xena was amused.
“Yes well she was nesting on Hope and I wasn’t going to have it.” Her annoyance at Clair flared.
“Care to explain that.” Xena said curiously as she plopped onto the sofa next to her and started rubbing Gabrielle’s arm on the back of the sofa with her thumb. It was an unconscious action on her part.
Gabrielle smiled; she always liked it when Xena absently touched her. “Apparently the reason that Hope never got married is because she couldn’t decide on a partner.”
Xena’s eyes got a little bigger around and she grinned devilishly. “Oh really, who were the candidates?” She was trying to sound as if she were not interested but her expression told the true story.
“Well there was her beau Sean, and then there was Amy…” Xena touched her chest and mouthed this Amy and Gabrielle nodded and smiled playfully “… and there was Sonya.” She raised an eyebrow at her lover.
“You mean Captain Gellman? Wow!” She was only partially mocking her surprise. “That explains the odd feeling that I was getting when I left you alone with Gellman on the shuttle. I was pretty sure that I didn’t feel threatened but I think Amy would have. Not to mention Sean’s reaction.”
“Hmm, that’s interesting. It’s strange how these bodies seem to have some kind of residual feelings and emotions.” Xena nodded her head in agreement. “Anyway I get the sense from what Sonya told me and from what I’m feeling in here that Hope loved them all but she didn’t love them enough to want to spend the rest of her life with them. She was still searching for someone or something to fill a kind of void in her soul.” Gabrielle got the sense that Hope had been only half a person, but that made no sense whatsoever. Unless of course Hope had been her daughter Hope reincarnated. It might be possible then. She voiced this theory to Xena to see what she thought of it.
Xena pondered the idea for a time. “Well, I suppose it’s possible that the One God redeemed a few souls from Tartarus that He thought had promise when He took over. I don’t know… but I’ll tell you what I do know. I do know that this God that we serve is real big on second and third chances, and maybe even more depending I suppose on the soul involved.” She hoped that her words would help to console Gabrielle. For Xena knew that the subject of Gabrielle’s daughter Hope was a sore one.
Gabrielle wanted to believe what Xena had said. She wanted to believe that Hope had been redeemed. “You once said that she was only a vessel for evil and that Dahak owned her. Have you changed your mind?”
She knew this was coming and because she did Xena was ready with an answer. “At the time that I said it she was only a vessel but what if the One God killed Dahak? Wouldn’t that leave Hope free of the evil that had made her? Wouldn’t that leave only the good that is you left inside her?”
It made a certain amount of sense to Gabrielle and she said as much. “It would also explain why If eel as if the soul of this Hope was searching for the other half of herself.”
“I’m not so sure that she’s going to find that in another person Gabrielle. She had a God filling that empty spot. I think she’s going to have to find another God to fill it again. Let’s just hope that she chooses the right one.” Xena’s look of concern caused Gabrielle to smile reassuringly.
“I think that she already has chosen the right one. She just hasn’t realized how well He can fill the voids in one’s life yet. She is still on a journey.” It all made sense now to her. She put the comments made by Belle and Chance and the comments made by Sonya and Clair and the feelings that Gabrielle couldn’t shake, all together and she came up with hope for Hope. And it made her smile. Gabrielle finally felt a smidgen of peace concerning her eldest daughter. She thought that she had lost her for all time and now she believed that God had redeemed her and sent her back into life for another chance. Now she knew why God had waited for this particular body to be available.
She looked at Xena and smiled one of those melt the polar ice cap smiles. “Do you know what you just did?”
Xena shook her head. She didn’t care what she just did as long as it made Gabrielle smile again she was happy.
“You just acknowledged that God was the power behind Hope’s redemption.” Xena looked at her like she was not making any sense again. “I think that I figured out why we were allowed to sleep together and why we did not dream. You prayed.” Xena started to protest but Gabrielle would have none of it. “No, you didn’t actually do the praying but you believed that if Margo prayed she would be heard and you believed that God would have the power and perhaps even the inclination to answer the prayer. That’s a huge step for you to take Xena. I’ve heard you pray only a few times in all the years that we have been together. The last time that I heard you pray you were not yourself at least not completely yourself. Since then you have cursed and killed Gods at every turn. Until you had Margo pray. Now you seem to have accepted His power and His ability and maybe even His desire to help.”
Xena shook her head and smiled. “Don’t get carried away dear. I’ll give you that He seems to be the man in charge right now and we seem to be on His good side for the time being. It just seems prudent to me to stay on His good side. That’s all.” Xena tried to sound nonchalant.
“Okay Xena keep talking but you’re not fooling me I know what I heard the first time.” Gabrielle had her finger in Xena’s face. She was deliberately provoking her.
“Fine, you think what you like.” Xena said as she grabbed Gabrielle by the collar under her chin and pulled her closer. “I think that I’m through talking for right now. I have other things on my mind.” She pulled Gabrielle closer until they were face to face and Gabrielle had thrown both of her arms around Xena’s neck.
“Mmmm, then I think it might be time for you to find a different use for your mouth… and tongue.” She managed to get it out before they kissed each other deeply.
“You know…” The GEV voice came over the speakers in the room. “…that this is Lieutenant Colonel Clair Rayne’s office and although I don’t really care one way or the other, she can be a very particular woman.”
Gabrielle started to giggle when Xena very quietly whispered something about shooting the speakers out.
“You do know that I can hear you?” The GEV said in an almost playful voice. “I do have a better idea for you. Unless of course your goal is to do what you want and annoy Lieutenant Colonel Rayne.”
“Hhmmm, you better talk quickly GEV.” Gabrielle was having her neck and ear chewed on by Xena.
“The great Supreme Commander Cara Rayne had part of a floor in this building designed and maintained solely for your use.” The GEV responded.
That comment slowed the lover’s lips. “Where?” It was the only word that escaped Xena’s mouth. After that the two simply followed the computer’s instructions and found themselves on another floor in a huge apartment complete with a small kitchen, dining room, living room, and bedroom and of course a huge bathroom with a Jacuzzi bathtub built for two.
They locked the door, and didn’t come out until they were called the next day.