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Teresa M Shafer - For books that kindle thought and ignite the imagination!
The End of the Road 

Many years later Xena and Gabrielle found that they had reached the end of their road. Their children were all grown and married and had children of their own. The world around them had changed and grew and in many cases the habits that others had adopted as new fads had somehow remained. Their presence had changed the course of the history of the human race once again and neither of them noticed or really cared. All they knew was that they were near the end and they needed to be at home.   

“Well we’ve reached the end of another lifetime.” Xena said in a weary voice as she sat down on the back porch swing with a groan.   

Gabrielle smiled at her and laughed weakly. She slid her feet across the smooth boards of the porch and sat down next to her lifelong love. “I have to admit that this one is ending much calmer than most of them and it was a lot longer.” Her voice gained a little strength. She looked out at the trees that lined the river that flowed less than a hundred yards from their back porch. “This was a good home Xena and a good life. I’m glad that we shared it together.” She leaned her head back onto Xena’s ever present arm. It was as usual draped over her shoulder.

“Speaking of which… I wrote a little something…” Xena was digging through her pockets with her free hand.
 
Gabrielle thought maybe she had heard wrong but Xena was still digging in her pockets. “You wrote something?” She was surprised.
 
“Yeah, it’s just a little poem. It’s called a Haiku. I learned how to do it a long time ago. Ahh, here it is.” Xena finally pulled a scrap of actual paper from down the front of her shirt.
 
“Haiku, isn’t that Japanese?” Gabrielle said with some suspicion in her voice.
 
“Now Gabrielle, just because it’s Japanese doesn’t mean that it’s bad.” Xena handed her the scrap of paper and Gabrielle looked into Xena’s eyes for a moment more.
 
She shook her head at her silly machinations. How could she still be jealous after all this time? Gabrielle unfolded the paper and read aloud. “A lifetime with you… in your comforting embrace… was my everything.” Tears sprang to her eyes and dripped onto the paper. She was speechless.
 
“D ‘ya like it? I figured that Sappho wasn’t here and well… I’m not as good as her but… I mean what it says.” She smiled that endearing crooked smile of hers.
 
Gabrielle had covered her mouth with her hand and was looking at Xena. “It’s all the more precious because you wrote it.” Her voice was cracking and her heart was growing tired.
 
“Yeah, this life was precious. I mean we killed Alti… finally and now we don’t have any more missions to go on. So this one… this mission, and this life were the last. That’s probably why He actually reincarnated us into bodies that were our own from the start... to give us the life together that we never had.” Xena was looking Gabrielle in the eyes. They were still the beautiful blue green hazel windows of light and life that they had always been for her. One of her greatest joys was looking into them and knowing that the woman that owned them loved her and would never leave her. That knowledge brought to her a peacefulness that nothing else ever had.
 
Gabrielle was looking as deeply into the baby blues that had seen so much pain and so much joy. She had never imagined that she would love so deeply or feel so safe with anyone. But this woman, this beautiful Warrior Princess had taken the young naïve Bard from Poteidia and shown her the world and so much more. She had been Gabrielle’s rock and life preserver and shown her a love that was epic. “You’re right this will be the last like this. But we still get to go back to our house in heaven… I think. But that’s not quite the same. I suppose we’ll have to figure out what to do with ourselves.”
 
Xena chuckled lightly. Her chest was growing heavy. “I can think of a few things… that we haven’t had the strength or the inclination to do in a while.” She chuckled again but then began to cough. It took a minute or so for the coughing to stop. When it did Xena was wheezing and she tasted blood in her mouth.
 
“Too many times blowing fire huh?” Gabrielle offered. Her voice was barely above a whisper. Her chest was so heavy. It reminded her of something… another time she had died… no, she hadn’t died… not that time… it had been a poison arrow… but Xena had saved her, she had saved them both. Xena can’t save them from this. “Xena do you remember when the Persians… Xena? Xena, honey…” She reached up and put her finger to Xena’s throat. There was no pulse. She smiled sadly. “I’ll meet you on the other side dear.”
 
Gabrielle leaned against the unmoving chest of her partner. The last time that they had died she had been the first to go. Waiting for Xena had been near torture… until Hope came to talk to her. She thought back on the events that had given her Hope, her eldest daughter. It had been so hard and she had been so afraid. It was a long time ago. But Hope was safe now. Her family was safe now, she was safe now… Xena had… she had… Xena…
 
Gabrielle’s head dropped down. Her fingers opened and the scrap of paper that Xena had given her fluttered in the breeze. It tried to escape but her hand had tipped open onto an edge. It was just enough weight to hold the scrap in place.
 
When their family would arrive an hour or so later to enjoy the afternoon with their aging matriarchs they would find the lovers sitting on their back porch swing. Gabrielle would be lovingly cradled in Xena’s protective arm and in Gabrielle’s lap they would find the piece of paper with three lines of poetry and a distinctive X signed to the bottom. Strangely it was written in English; apparently Xena didn’t want to hide this thing from them.
 

The heroes would be cremated and instead of placing yet another set of urns into the Society’s special room. The house that Xena and Gabrielle had built would be turned into a museum and their final set of ashes would be stored there in a special case in the living room where so much love had been shared. The Haiku would be stored in the same case beneath the urns and not a single one of their descendants would fail to know the words by heart.