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Teresa M Shafer - For books that kindle thought and ignite the imagination!
Decisions, Decisions 

Galatia spent the day at school accepting Birthday tokens from a good portion of the school. She wasn’t overly popular since she wasn’t like Gabrielle in any way. The general consensus was that she was neither a Bard nor a Warrior and that made her a type of outsider with everyone. She thought that it was funny in an ironic sort of way that they would make such a judgment based upon her own writings. They only knew the Gabrielle that she had written about… they didn’t know Gabrielle or Galatia very well at all. None of the people at school or her own little family knew that Galatia had kept a running journal ever since she had learned how to write. In her journal she told the stories of her friends and of her family upon occasion but mostly she wrote of their imaginary adventures on the untamed planet of Mars. 

Another oddity was that had there been fewer members of her family she would have been more readily accepted but there were literally multiple dozens in multiple age groups for people to choose from to follow. She had her group of friends and that is what she had. The sad thing about that was that her friends were all members of the Families and up until yesterday morning they had all followed Nadia. 

But because Galatia was a member of the Family she was given lots of little tokens of esteem by the staff and students of the Academy. Mostly she got single roses or small bars of chocolate or special fruit snacks. She didn’t get a lot but then again she didn’t really expect a lot. It was all the same to her she liked her small core of friends and really didn’t feel that she needed anything more. 

She went through school that day sometimes holding Zaria’s hand and sometimes someone else’s. They hadn’t yet decided if they were going to announce their relationship to the school. None of them thought that it was anyone’s business anyway and the lovers were content just to be in each other’s presence. It was a non-issue for them all.

At one point she was confronted by Lance who held out a red rose to her and suggested that he had a better present for her if she would only reconsider her position with him. She declined the rose and the other offer. He had made the offer publicly so he was subsequently denied publicly. This news traveled quickly and the Amazons were notified that Lance was not allowed into the party at all. It might take him years to live down the humiliation… if Gabrielle did not come out and tell who she was. If she did then all would be forgiven and Lance would be lauded for having been her boyfriend at all regardless of how she had broken up with him.

The day dragged on as these types of days do. Even her practice time was slowed to a crawl when Peace found herself unable to lift a staff and had to be taken to the hospital for x-rays. Nothing was broken but the nerves in her collar bone had been inflamed and she had to wear a sling until they healed. Cadence was beside herself, first with worry and then with anger and she took out the frustration of both on Galatia. 

She threatened to call off the birthday party at least a dozen times but had to recant the threat when she remembered that the grandmothers would be there. “I don’t know why they give a damn about you let alone show you special interest!” She said just after getting the prognosis while in a rage. It of course made Galatia wonder exactly what she was talking about. She would have to ask the grandmothers at the party.

Finally after much verbal torture from her mother and having to return to school for more classes the day was finally over. Galatia looked forward to the relative anonymity of a party, even one that had her as the guest of honor. There were far more children that demanded and received a great deal more attention than she even at her own party. What she was really looking forward to was speaking with Faith, Solace and Dura again. They had been so young the last time that she had seen them, but that had been thirty-nine years ago. And of course she had not forgotten that after the party Zaria had promised that they would be alone for a time and that was the big promise that kept her from decking Cadence hours earlier.

She and her group of friends had walked back to the park where they met and departed each day. The park was a flurry of activity as it always was for a birthday… which were quite frequent. But because the grandmothers were coming to this party some of the seating had been changed from the ordinary seating to accommodate the honored guests. Galatia looked at it as if she were seeing it for the first time. She had never really noticed which parties the grandmothers attended. She just remembered that she always loved seeing them and sitting on their laps until she was too big to do so. They always asked her to tell them stories. She had told them stories from her journal. Those seemed to make them very happy.

“Okay girls” Xena began. “Tonight Gabrielle and I are going to speak with the grandmothers, and if the timing is right we’re going to tell them who we are. Stay within sight ‘cuz you may get called into the conversation.” They looked a little nervous at the prospect of speaking to the grandmothers concerning this particular topic. Since they were Family they had often sat with the grandmothers but this was a particularly important topic and it made them nervous.

“Don’t worry I don’t remember them biting.” Galatia offered when she saw the faces. The girls all nodded and said their farewells. They would all be seeing each other in an hour or so. “I suppose you’re going home as well?” Her voice was sad. This was really hard on her for some reason.

“Gabrielle, you know that I have to go home. I can’t go with you to your home right now.” She thought for a moment. “You’re going to have to either be the sixteen year old teenager or the Amazon Queen. But stop jumping between them. It’s gonna drive us both nuts.” Right now she was being the teenager, but at school she had been the Queen.

“You’re right. My emotions are flip flopping so quickly it’s tough to keep track of them; it’s got to be the hormones. Which should I be?” It was almost as if she was lost.

“You really don’t remember what you were like at this age do you?” Gabrielle shook her head. “You were naïve and innocent but at the same time you were brave and decisive, where is that Gabrielle?”
Gabrielle barked a soft laugh. “I am no longer naïve or innocent… those are gone… forever.”

“But you weren’t like this two days ago. So there is hope.” Xena said.

“Two days ago I didn’t have the memories of what has happened to us… to me. Two days ago I was innocent and naïve. Now I’m… I don’t know… something else. Do you remember when you told me that taking a life changes everything? Well… what happened to me on Uranus changed everything too. It’s a distant memory but it is a memory.” Gabrielle’s eyes begged Xena to find a solution for her aching soul.

Xena stepped closer to Gabrielle and took her hands into her own her heart ached for her beloved. “Gabrielle, I know that you were hurt… deeply. But remember that this is what Alti wanted… for you to lose your innocence and hence your purity. Don’t let it happen… don’t hide what you think that you have lost by being a brat or a bitch. Please, don’t do what I did and try to take out your revenge on anyone who happens to cross your path.”

“I didn’t realize that I was doing that… but you’re right I have started to do just that.” She began to shake her head. “Poor Peace… that was unnecessary. I was willing to get the shit kicked out of me just so I could land a few humiliating blows of my own. That is so not like me.” She was realizing what Xena had been seeing was true. “But until I can get some balance what do I do?”

“Don’t lose your sense of wonder. You may not be innocent or naïve but you also don’t know everything. Remember how you used to stop and smell the roses and listen to the Sea Gulls?” Gabrielle was smiling faintly. “Do that Gabrielle. This is a whole different planet with all new smells and sights and sounds. Take it in and marvel at it. Your God… I bet He made this planet too. Check it out and see if you don’t find something that sparks your curiosity and renews your innocence.” Gabrielle was nodding her head and smiling widely. Xena had found the solution for her, just like she knew that she would.

“How do you do that Xena? How do you just pull that kind of philosophy out of your head? You’re a Warrior for God’s sake. Why couldn’t I see that?” She was amazed once again.

“Sometimes when you’re so close to the problem, it’s near impossible to see the answer. You’ve always seen the answers for me and I seem to do the same for you. That’s why we need to stay together from now on. Every time that we split up… no matter how good it sounds… we get messed up. I left you in Greece when I went to China the first time and we both made some bad decisions and I almost got killed. I went to the North lands without you and nearly got myself killed. I went to Japan without you and did get myself killed. You lived the rest of your life without me and went mad and then got yourself killed. And you went into the Castle alone and I was to go into the spirit world alone and we both got ourselves killed.” She stopped to make sure that Gabrielle was tracking with her.  

“We know how to kill her. We know exactly what we have to do. But we must do it together. We can’t do it alone… never again can we do it alone. You and me… we’re soul mates. That’s what it means to be soul mates. Just like Aella said. I didn’t really understand it then but I get it now.” Xena had dropped Gabrielle’s hands and taken her shoulders.

“I need you and you need me… we can’t do it alone. Now that makes all the sense in the world.” Gabrielle had brought her hands up to rest on Xena’s wrists.

“So what say we whip our four friends into the meanest and leanest fighting machines since the three hundred so they can occupy Alti while we both go into the spirit world and kill her and sever her link with Luce? After that we can take her body and burn it and be done with her forever. Then we can go home if that’s what you want.” She sounded excited at the prospect and probably was.

Gabrielle was nodding and when Xena was done she said, “Sounds good babe. When do we start?”

“Tonight… starting with a conversation with the grandmothers.”

Gabrielle nodded but she was hesitant. “Can we retrieve their bodies first?” She didn’t need to specify which 

“Of course we can, that’s one of the topics of discussion for tonight.” She was still looking at Gabrielle intently. “So Gabrielle, if you decide to be the Queen, can you kind of keep the teenage… energy. I kind of like that.” Xena was looking a bit too intently at Gabrielle.

Gabrielle had to think really hard to figure out what the heck Xena was talking about. Then it hit her and she had to shake her head in wonder. “You just like the teenage libido that’s what you like.” She chided.

“Well not just the libido dear but that too…” She said judiciously.

Gabrielle didn’t buy the innocent look that Xena was giving her. “Don’t worry honey, I don’t think that I could turn that off if I wanted too… you’re just too cute!” She said and laughed as Xena’s face turned from joy to surprise and then to her I’ll get you for that look.

They parted ways so that they could both accomplish a few tasks before the party. But they both felt better for their short talk.