"Before the Sacrifice"

by Alan Plessinger

Disclaimer: Xena: Warrior Princess and the names, titles, and backstories used in "Before the Sacrifice" are the sole property of MCA/Universal. The author intends no copyright infringement through the writing of this fan fiction.

Note: This is a short dialogue between two women who love each other very much. There have been plenty of stories that explored what happened or is going to happen after "Sacrifice 2." This is an exploration of what might've happened just before.

What do you say, what do you do in the last hour of your life? How can you sum up your feelings to the woman who has meant everything to you, and who you have treated so terribly? And now there's no time to even try to make it up to her.

Xena sat sharpening her sword with a stone, with a methodical scraping sound. There was no real overwhelming need for the task. Joxer was in the cave, and he had the hind's blood dagger, which was the only thing that could kill Hope once and for all. She was just putting in time delaying the inevitable.

"Which is a pretty good definition of life," thought Xena.

Gabrielle waited for her, leaning on her staff and looking at the ground.

"Gabrielle," said Xena. "It doesn't look like I made it, does it?"

Gabrielle looked to Xena, but Xena was still unwilling to make eye contact.

"What? Where?"

"The Elysian fields. I didn't make it. I really thought we'd have more time."

Gabrielle came and sat by Xena.

"You don't know that. It's up to Hades."

"Gabrielle, I really don't think you know all that I was guilty of before we met. You think you do."

"Xena, the gods are going to owe you for this. You may get to come back again."

"I don't think so. Hades granted me that one favor, with your help, because of what I did to save his sister. But he made it very clear that this is it. There would be no other chances."

Xena stood, and Gabrielle stood with her. Xena looked her in the eyes.

"We really tried, you and I," said Xena. "But I guess I was just a lost cause. There's nothing they can do to me in Tartarus that could be any worse than eternity without you."

"I failed," said Gabrielle. "It was my job to look after you soul and get you to the Elysian fields, and I failed you. We just need more time. You need more time."

"Gabrielle, I'm so sorry I hurt you so terribly. I can't believe that I ever tried to kill you."

"You know that I forgive you, Xena. You've done a lot that you need to be forgiven for, and someone has to start somewhere."

"Gabrielle, I want you to wait here. Please."

"No! Xena, if this is where our journey ends, I won't let you face it alone. You're not going to rob me of our last few moments together."

Xena sighed. She looked away from Gabrielle and cast her gaze across the hills, squinting into the sun.

"Sometimes I imagine every man I've ever killed, living in the Elysian fields, looking at everything I do through the portal. And one by one I win them over. They all see how sorry I am, and how hard I've tried to be good. And they see that someone like you can actually…love me. And they forgive me. They all forgive me. Every one of them. Crazy dream. But oh, Gabrielle, there were times, there were moments when I could actually believe that it was happening. Moments when I really thought that I had a chance. Without you I could never have believed even that much."

"Xena, what am I going to do without you?"

"Gabrielle, you're tough. You're strong. You have a whole other life that has nothing to do with me. By the gods, you're an Amazon Queen, Gabrielle! You don't need me."

"Xena!" she said, and buried her face in Xena's shoulder. "Xena, please don't ever tell me that."

She began to weep. Xena pulled her away. She didn't feel worthy of Gabrielle's tears.

"What have I done to you?" thought Xena.

At that moment she would've given more than her life for another one of Gabrielle's adorable smiles, to take with her into eternity and hold in her heart through the torments of Tartarus.

But it had been months since one of those smiles had brightened Gabrielle's face and made her green eyes sparkle. And when Xena was gone that smile would hopefully return and be shown upon someone else. Someone deserving.

Xena had once prayed that the beautiful light showing in Gabrielle's face might never go out, because she couldn't stand the darkness that would follow. She had prayed "to anyone listening."

"Oh," thought Xena, "if only I had been listening."

"C'mon, Gabrielle. It's time. Let's go."

"No! Xena, please don't do this! There's got to be someone else who can do this!"

"I'm the one who's here, Gabrielle. This can't be delayed any longer."

"You can't give up your life for this!"

"Gabrielle, I know I'm going to die. I accept that. Why can't you? Do these words sound familiar to you?"

Gabrielle looked down.

"That was different."

"Was it? So you're allowed to be brave and noble, but not me?"

"This is suicide! There's nothing noble about suicide! There's so much good that you can still do in the world, and so much that still needs to be done. Isn't there anything I can say or do to stop you?"

"No. Nothing. Let's go."

Xena turned and headed toward the cave, and Gabrielle followed. And Gabrielle muttered just four words under her breath, too low for even Xena to hear.

Just four words.

"We'll see about that."

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