And so it ends
The rhythmic beat of blood struggled to reach the dying heart. Its long journey was winding down to a close. The oozing red liquid had started to thicken, it was not going to make it back for one last go around.
The icy blue eyes tried to focus once again at the woman dying in her arms. Her once youthful face had given way to age and gracious beauty. The lines of wisdom had gathered around her still vibrant green eyes. Time had been kinder to the bard then it had been to the warrior, but her health had robbed her of her golden years. The last few years were spent coughing and resting, resting and coughing. Now with her weakening heart Gabrielle offered a small smile as she tried to lift her hand to Xena's weathered face. Releasing her arthritic hold on the green bottle of nightsbane, Xena reached to guide Gabrielle's hand to her face.
Feeling the coolness of the bard's fingers, she knew her ailing heart was finally giving in. After all the battles they had been through together, their struggles just to survive the death of their children and the twilight of the Gods, but they had made it. Hand in hand and heart in heart they had walked into their golden years together. Now as the fates would have it, they could not fight any longer. Gabrielle's health was failing horribly due to her ailing heart, and the once mighty warrior princess, now struggled just to open the bottle of nightsbane. Neither had held a weapon in years, not that they could have even if they had wanted to.
Xena's blue eyes misted as she gazed down at the green bottle of poison, they had been through too much together for the warrior to allow her bard to die alone. She had contemplated taking her life once before, but Gabrielle had entered her life and she had never looked back. As strong as she once was, she knew she had no desire to live in this world without her soul, without her light, without her Gabrielle.
Xena watched as her friend's eyelids lower, allowing the warrior to close her blue eyes on the silver streams of tears racing down her face. No, they had been through too much for her to let Gabrielle fight her last battle without her warrior by her side.
She felt her own heart slowing and she knew the nightbanes was taking effect, it would be quick, and that was what she wanted.
The warrior brow furrowed as she caught the movement of Gabrielle's lips, lowering her head, she tilted her ear so that it was just mere inches from Gabrielle's mouth.
Say it again, I couldn't hear you.
The bard's broken whisper words lifted one corner of Xena's lip. "Xena ... In case I never ... enough ... I love ... you."
As Xena felt the poison taking over her system, the raven-haired warrior released her friend. She could no longer hold the woman who held her heart. Time was running out, for both of them. So with her last ounce of strength the warrior princess laid down next to her bard.
"I think ... somewhere ... down the line ... I knew that." She reached for Gabrielle's hand and brought it to her chest. A wave of impending finality swept over her as she felt the cold touch of death taking its hold of the bard's dying body.
Gabrielle's strength was all but gone. She had lost her beloved gift of speech, no longer could she tell the world what she was thinking. Her hand lay flat on Xena's chest as she felt the warmth of love encircled her own slowing heart. Her green eyes were closed for the final time as she concentrated on the final beats of Xena's heart.
"Gab ... rielle ... forever," the warrior's lips softly breathed out their last world as Xena saw with open eyes the shadow of darkness as it ended her life. It was over. There would be no more battles, no more wars, and no more struggles, no more need to survive until tomorrow.
Gabrielle couldn't help but release a moan, as she felt the last push of air escape from her soulmate's chest. It was over
Xena felt the cold first, and then the black of a moonless night. Her world was empty, it was ... without. She was alone now, death had ended their life together. Never could she have imagined it would be so painless, so ... so ... final. The absolute emptiness was something she had never felt before. She brought her arms up and wrapped them around her shoulders. It was so damn cold! Try as she might she couldn't see anything, nothing, only black. Was this how she was going to spend eternity? The thought only made her feel colder. She hadn't been alone for a long time, and the silence wasn't something she was used to.
Suddenly a wave of desire tore through her. All she wanted was her bard, her companion, and the part of her that gave her strength.
'Gabrielle,' try as she might to say the name out loud, Xena still heard nothing. If this was Tartarus, eternity was going to be a long time.
Xena turned her head to see if she could see anything, but it was so dark she wasn't even sure if she had even moved her head. Squaring her broad shoulders, she furrowed her brow. This was not going to beat her, nothing in life had except ... death.
The eerie silence roared in her ears, wave after wave as it curled and rolled. It was then she heard it, there was a pattern, and it wasn't just a constant roar. Xena questioned, 'if it was silent, how could she hear the surge of ... of what, of sound?'
Without warning the roar of nothing was broken by the sound of peace. There was no other way to describing it. It was like the silence had become harmony. Her blue eyes watched with open amazement as the darkness changed to black. Something was out there. Something she couldn't see, couldn't hear and couldn't sense. But no matter which direction she turned she could feel it coming towards her.
She felt the bitter cold surrounding her, chilling the very essence of her being. A raw naked cold that suddenly exploded with warmth and then she felt a presence. An entity, but there was nothing she could see. It was only an inner feeling, something she had possessed all her life. Xena knew it couldn't be a God, there weren't any more Gods. Ares and the rest of his family had ceased to exist. Their immortal lives had been taken by their own twilight. No, this wasn't a God, this was something far more powerful than a God.
The blackness around her was no longer empty and cold, it was as if ? Xena opened her mouth to speak, but there was only silence. A flutter of movement went past her, but again she saw and heard nothing. Feeling the changes in temperature and a breeze of air that did not exist, she felt her old warrior instincts coming back to life. Her body turned with a heighten sense of knowing. Then she felt the presence again.
Radiating warmth cascaded over her body, as if something was observing her, studying her with all too knowing eyes. Every one of her nerves tingled with awareness. Her warrior's instinct for survival sharpened, heightening her sense of self-preservation. Whatever this was, it knew her and it knew her well.
Something was moving up her body. Walking itself over her back and shoulders. Everywhere it pasted over, Xena could feel the hair on her body reacting. Wave after wave it came, an unnerving mixture of warmth and coolness, until the touch of knowing fingers gently collected her hand.
It was like the birth of a new universe, everything around them burst with a vibrant light. Cascading over them in multitudes of sunshine colors, the world seemed to harmonize as the two intertwined their hands.
The balance of time and space came back into alignment, and all that had been broken was now whole. The shadows and shades of light and dark had found themselves again, as the yin yang of life, was now back in harmony with death.
Gabrielle smiled up into the bluest eyes she had ever seen on her dearest friend's face. The grey hair had been replaced with the raven hair of old. Her bronzed body was once again strong and tall as the hands of death wiped away any remnants of old age. Her long slender fingers, no longer crippled with arthritic old age, once again had the power and the tenderness that was the essence of the warrior princess.
Xena pulled her little bard into a powerful embrace, wrapping her bronze arms tightly around the small frame. She couldn't be certain if they had been separated for minutes, days or hours, or if possible even longer.
Gabrielle was engulfed with the show of affection, which she was not used to it. Even after all these years, public showing of emotions were something she never got used to. The bard smiled, and the warrior delighted in the youthful look that had returned to her friend's features. She couldn't help but smile at the return of the tight muscles Gabrielle had once been so proud of.
"Xena. I knew you'd be here."
"I told you long time ago, even in death Gabrielle ... I just didn't think you would beat me, that's all."
So is this it? Are we really dead this time?
I think so Gabrielle, but
So now what? I mean is this it?
I don't know." Xena said as she scratched at her ear. "I've never been dead before, well I have. I mean we have, but I don't remember any of ..."
Taking Gabrielle's small hands into her own, they walked side by side towards a distant shining light that seemed to be growing and growing.
"You know ... When we died before and I don't remember any of this." The bard's brow furrowed.
"Does it matter? I mean really, does it matter? It not Tartarus, nor is it Hell." The warrior whispered as she pulled Gabrielle into her shoulder.
I don't really care either way, not as long as you are by my side Xena."
"I told you I would never leave you. And I meant it. Without you, there is no me. Without you, I never would have survived myself." Xena leaned down and kissed the top of Gabrielle's head. Both women seemed to pause for a moment before the warrior spoke again. Somehow I just knew, I knew we needed each other, and that we had to stay together.
"I know ... I've been trying to lose you for the last fifteen years." Gabrielle gave Xena's ribs a little jab as she looked up at the radiant smile of her warrior.
"For eternity," Xena's said in a husky whisper.
Gabrielle snuggled a little closer into her warrior's shoulder, she closed her eyes to the familiar smell of leather. She never opened them again as they continued towards the light.
"I think I could get used to that." Xena looked down at the woman she had shared her mortal life with.
What's that, Gabrielle?
Spending eternity with you. Opening her green eyes, Gabrielle looked longingly into Xena's oceans of blue. Time was no longer an essences, it didn't matter anyhow, they had each other and that was enough.
Gabrielle's face pulled into a frown
as she waited a response.
"Would you do it all again?" Xena whispered.
"Without hesitation, ... In a heart beat, as long as I had my warrior princess by my side!"
The words didn't surprise Xena, she had been listening to Gabrielle's gift for too long, but it didn't stop the small tears from gathering in the corner of her eye. She placed a gentle kiss on the bard's forehead.
Are you ready? Xena motioned with her head in the direction of the bright light.
Like always Xena, I'm right behind you.
No. The warrior pulled her bard next to her. Beside me Gabrielle, that is where you belong. Beside me.
I hoped you have enjoyed my small tale. For questions and comments I can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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