The Battle For Gabrielle's Soul

by Marion D Tuttle

Standard disclaimers: Same old, same old... I don't own the characters the folks at Universal Studios do. The story idea however is mine. With a little inspiration from friends...

Sex disclaimer: Yep it's going to be in here, two women that are very much in love with each other and once they get over their initial trepidation, have no qualms whatsoever in expressing it.

As always I look forward to any comments about the story , they can be sent to

Author's note: After a brief absence I have come to appreciate more than ever the blessing in my life. I would like to dedicate this story to all of the people that have read my fan fic in the past, people from both this site and the Xena forum that have been a wonderful source of support and strength to me over the past couple of months. And most importantly the one person in my life that stands by me through everything and gives me the strength and faith I need to believe I can do whatever I need to in life. My dear Angel, many people may have claims on parts of my life, but you have sole possession of my heart.

The campfire blazed, the orange glow casting long shadows across the clearing in the fading light of the day. There was heat coming from the fire but it didn't seem to hold any warmth. A cold shiver passed through the young bard's body, even though it seemed like it had been an uncommonly warm day.

Gabrielle stared into the flames, going over the events of the past few months in her mind. The more she searched to find an inner sense of peace, the more turmoil she seemed to feel. There had been so many times since she had returned from her 'death' that she thought she had found the answers. But each time she was convinced that she had finally attained her goal, she was sorely disappointed to find that it had all been lies.

The thing that frustrated her most was that she could not understand why she was feeling this way. She had everything she had always wanted, from the moment she had met the warrior princess all Gabrielle had wanted was to travel with her. She had wanted to become Xena's friend and go out into the world with her and help people. They had been through so much together, life and death circumstances. They had been there for each other through it all. Even when they had not agreed on a course of action they had found a way to try and do what they thought was best for the other.

She knew that she loved Xena, and that Xena loved her. So why could she find no peace from the thoughts that plagued her mind? To tell the truth she was not even certain of what the thoughts were. They were just fragments really, fleeting bits of emotion and ideas that floated just outside of her consciousness, just out of her reach.

She was still lost in her thoughts when Xena approached, holding the fish she had caught for their dinner. Her breath caught in her throat as she saw the way the light played against the planes of Gabrielle's face and body. Shadow and light combined to present a picture that had Xena's thoughts running in a very different direction from a cozy chat around the fire.

She tried to push these feelings back down, why was it never easy? It had taken them years of traveling together for Xena to work up the courage to admit her true feelings to Gabrielle. She had been happy beyond any words when Gabrielle had said she felt the same way. They had become lovers and had shared a very passionate relationship. But then Hope had returned, their efforts to vanquish the evil Goddess and the strain of having Callisto travel with them had put the physical
aspect of their relationship on hold.

When Gabrielle had made the sacrifice of pulling her daughter into the pit with her to save Xena's life the warrior thought she would die right there. What was to point of living without Gabrielle. The dark had seemed to enshroud her until she heard the laughter coming from Callisto. Her rage at her enemy for having the audacity to laugh in the face of the greatest loss she had ever suffered was enough to motivate her to take Callisto's life.

As the Goddess lifeless body crumpled to the ground she felt her desire to live die with her. The only thing that kept her going was knowing that she might have a chance of regaining the bard if she
could only find Hades. He had sent her on her journey to the Amazon land of the dead where she had finally righted a terrible wrong committed against the Amazons back in her warlord days. But she still had not been reunited with the bard.

A vision shown her by Alti of her future death gave her more hope then anything of finding Gabrielle, because even though they were both dying in the vision. She and Gabrielle were together, then it had given her hope for finding the bard, but since then it had haunted her.

She sat down quietly next to Gabrielle waiting for the bard to speak, when nothing was forth coming she started. "Gabrielle, I know that you have been going through a lot lately..."

The bard looked from the flames into blue eye's that seemed like they could see right into her soul. "I don't want to dwell on everything Xena, but the more I search for peace the more it seems to elude me. I don't know what to do anymore."

Xena pulled her into a warm strong embrace. "We will find the answers together Gabrielle. I promise you that, I will do whatever it takes to help you."

Instead of being comforted by the warrior's words, it almost seemed as if they agitated her more. "What if you can't help me? What if the simple truth is I have made too many mistakes to ever find peace? I am so different then the young girl that started traveling with you. Then I thought I could solve the worlds problems, now it seems like I can't even solve my own."

Xena felt a stab of guilt in her heart, she had always harbored feelings of deep regret for the events that had befallen Gabrielle. It had always been her feeling that the pain Gabrielle had gone through
was somehow her fault. But all the blame in the world could not change what had already happened, neither could guilt. That was one of the many things Gabrielle had taught Xena. Now the warrior planned to use the bard's own lessons to bring her out of the mood she was in.

"I won't try and make it sound better by saying you haven't made mistakes....we both have. But a very wise friend once told me that others can not forgive us until we forgive ourselves."

A small smile played around the corners of her mouth. "Pretty smart friend you have there."

"Your right, I think she is the smartest person I know." Searching for a way to help the bard begin to leave the past behind she continued on " The truth is Gabrielle that you have helped my turn my life around. You do so much good everyday, your heart is always in the right place. I don't know if I would have been able to keep my own dark side down if it hadn't been for you."

Gabrielle had always told Xena that she believed, even if they had never met the warrior would have changed and renounced her evil ways. She was already starting on that path when they met. She had tried to convince her that the changes that had taken place in Xena were of her own making, but Xena had always insisted that it was Gabrielle that had helped keep her on the path to redemption. Still Gabrielle was having serious doubts. "I just don't know Xena... You see me as this 'light and guide' that keeps you focused. But if I'm so good then why is there so much evil attracted to me. And why am I so foolish that I don't see it, even when you warn me?" Small traces of tears began to slip from her eyes.

"Evil is always attracted to good Gabrielle, An evil force would want to destroy someone like you because you are good."

"Is that supposed to make me feel better? To know that because I want to be a force for good it makes me a target for evil?"

Xena thought about trying to make it sound better, lighter but decided that honesty was the best way to go. "No Gabrielle, it's not supposed to make you feel better to know that. But it is a fact, another fact is I know that you are strong enough to handel whatever you have to."

Gabrielle's mood seemed to grow darker with each passing moment. "I appreciate what your trying to say Xena..I really do. But if you want to talk facts let's look at them. Najara, Adian, the healing in India... I was so convinced each time that I had found the answers and each time you tried to warn me and I didn't listen. I was so convinced that I knew everything. At this point I'm not even sure what it is I'm searching for anymore. Why do I feel this way?"

The warrior was at a loss, she would and had faced an entire army for Gabrielle. She would fight Gods and man to keep the bard safe, but she could not help her with the demons that where plaguing her soul. Her frustration at feeling helpless only served to make matters worse. She
wanted nothing more than to take Gabrielle in her arms and wipe the pain away, but she couldn't do that. "I don't have an answer for you I wish I did."

Gabrielle stood up and stretched her muscles. "I Think I'm going to take a walk, maybe I just need some time alone to sort through this." She saw the hurt look in Xena's eyes at her saying she needed time to herself. "I didn't mean that the way it sounded...I just want to try and clear my head. I won't be long."

Xena wanted to tell her to be careful, to call if she needed her anything to let the bard know that she had her full support. She decided the best thing to do was to just let Gabrielle have some
space. "What do you say I cook dinner tonight and give you a break?"

This offer did bring a small smile to the bard's lips "Your offering to cook? This is a first!"

Wanting to try and keep the mood light Xena kidded back "Yeah well you better take me up on it, The Gods only know when I'll make the offer again."

"Well far be it for me to turn down such a generous offer. How many people in the known world can say that The Warrior Princess cooked dinner for them?"

"Not many!" The smile that lit Gabrielle's face sent a feeling of warmth to Xena's heart. She knew she would do anything to get Gabrielle through this.

"Thanks Xena, I will take you up on it." Sensing the warrior's thoughts she added "And don't worry I won't go far and I'll be careful."

Gabrielle found her thought wandering as she walked along the shore of the lake that was near their campsite. Part of her was sure that she had everything she had ever wanted or could ever want, most of her in fact was convinced of this. There was one nagging little part of her mind though that kept pushing all these thoughts of what if... and if things were different into her head. She slowly sank down onto a rock, watching the reflection of the moon off the water.

She felt a faint breeze and noticed a light scent behind her that had not been there before. Just as she was turning around to investigate the source she heard her name, almost as if the wind itself was whispering and calling to her. "Gabrielle.... Gabrielle...."

Moving towards the direction the sound seemed to be coming from she was stopped short in her tracks. She was greeted with the sight of one of the most beautiful women she had ever seen. Dark hair and dark eyes were the first thing that captured her attention. It took a brief moment to notice that while the woman was not quite transparent, she wasn't really solid either. A serene look was on her face while she waited for Gabrielle to come closer.

For her part the bard was not altogether sure she wanted to get any closer then she was. The thought occurred to her 'This is just what I need, I don't have enough problems now I'm seeing things that aren't even there.'

As if reading her thoughts the spector spoke to her. "Your not seeing things Gabrielle. I really am here, I have come to help you."

"You seem to have an advantage over me, you know who I am but I don't know I?"

A warm smile lit the face of the woman that seemed to be almost floating before her. "It's true we have never met, but you do know of me. My name is Lao Ma."

Gabrielle felt as if the very breath were being pushed from her body. The world suddenly seemed to tilt out of balance for her. This was not possible. Lao Ma was dead! She couldn't be here now! Reaching her hand out to steady herself, Gabrielle fond herself leaning against a tree for support. Before she could gather her thoughts enough to start asking questions, the vision that claimed to be Lao Ma spoke again. "You are right, I'm not here in the flesh... but I have felt the conflict in your soul and have come to help you find the answers you seek."

"But how?...Your..."

"Dead by my own son's hand, something Xena could have prevented." It seemed odd for the woman Xena had told her was the pillar of strength and peace. But Gabrielle could have sworn that she heard scorn and resentment for the warrior princess in her voice. Her natural curiosity got the better of her.

"How could Xena have prevented your death? By the time we received you message and she arrived in Chin, you were already long dead from what she told me afterwards."

"That is true, but if she had not fallen back to her warlike ways she could have stayed in Chin and helped me rule the land in peace. Together we could have erased the damage she had done to my son, and the hatred his father had placed in her heart. But the choices she made put her forever outside of any help I could offer her, and as a result of the things she had done my son grew into the monster you met in Chin."

The bard felt a combination of anger, resentment fear and awe at the woman before her. She couldn't deny that the actions that Xena had taken had played a large role in shaping Ming Tein into the man he had become. However she had learned the hard way that ultimately each person had to be responsible for their own life. It did no good to lay blame at other people's doors for the paths you choose to take in life. "Xena was evil, I can't deny that. But you can't hold her accountable for the mistakes you son made as a man...."

The only outward sign of emotion from Lao Ma's spirit was a slight flaring of her nostrils "His pain is what shaped him!"

"Xena has known great pain as well, and made many mistakes. But she has tried to take the right path in her life. She is trying to right the wrongs she has committed, Ming Tein could have done the same."

Lao Ma's expression seemed to be one of complete and utter hatred. "No, Gabrielle your wrong. It was Xena if not for her..."

"How can you say that? His father was teaching him to have no mercy for his enemies! You were supposed to have loved Xena, you can't think that she is responsible for all that happened."

"That is exactly what I think! Xena told you she loved me? Well if her love for me was so great then why did she not fight against her darker impulses. No she was more concerned with power! Her lust for power led to my son's fall into darkness and my own death at his hand.That is why I have come Gabrielle. With everything you have been through you still have a strong force for goodness at the core of your being. But if you stay with xena that will slowly be destroyed. You
will never know any peace as long as Xena lives. You need to get away from her, but she will never let you go."

The color drained from Gabrielle's face. "What are you saying? Xena and I have forgiven each other for everything that has happened..."

"I'm not talking about the events of the past,although the do play a role in things that are going to happen, everything is connected. But the pain and turmoil you feel is all centered around Xena and you well know it, even if you don't want to admit it. You are searching for a life of peace, but Xena leads the life of a warrior and always will. You said it your self Gabrielle, she likes the fighting. She masks it with the ruse that she fights now for "the greater good". She may have even convinced herself that it is all about protecting those that can't protect themselves. But the truth of the matter is her dark side will always control her, and if you let it some day it will take you over as well."

"No your wrong...."

Lao Ma decided to try a different approach. "I know it is hard for you to hear this. You love Xena very much, I too loved her at one time. Part of my spirit will always love her. But you must face the truth Gabrielle, Xena is the source of your torment. As long as she lives you will never know any peace. Eventually she will destroy you. The sad part of it all is I don't think she really wants to hurt you, in her own way she does love you. But the darkness in her is just too strong."

Gabrielle felt her world spinning out of control. Here was the woman Xena had described as being a beacon of light and goodness in the world telling her to commit murder. Not just murder, but the murder of her best friend, her lover and the one person that through everything felt like the other half of her soul. It was to much, she couldn't stand here any longer and listen to this. She turned and fled the clearing, tears in her eyes. She wasn't even sure where she was going all she knew was that she needed to be away from this image that was trying to tell her to kill Xena.

Xena placed the cooked fish on a rock close to the fire to keep it warm. It was true that the warrior princess could not really count the culinary arts among her "many skills" but her cooking had gotten a little better over the years. At least now it was edible, she scanned the surrounding area looking for any signs of Gabrielle's return. She debated with herself about going to look for the bard. She knew that Her lover had been very moody of late and probably did need some
space. She did not want to send the signal to Gabrielle that she was being overprotective, but by the same token she was starting to worry.

She finally gave into her instincts and headed off in the same direction Gabrielle had taken earlier. She truly hoped that all she would find was her bard off day dreaming somewhere having lost track
of the time. She would even welcome getting her ears blistered for coming out to look for her. The only concern she had at this point was making sure Gabrielle was safe.

She moved silently through the brush until she came upon a small clearing just before the cliffs. In the distance, standing at the edge of the cliffs she saw Gabrielle. At first glance she looked as though she were just gazing out over the crashing waves of the ocean. Letting her own thoughts wash over her like the water against the rocks and shore line below. Xena almost turned around to go back to camp and leave Gabrielle alone with her thoughts, but something in her mind made her take a second look. There was something about the picture before her that just didn't look right. Coming up behind Gabrielle she heard the soft sobs coming from the bard.

She stood back a safe distance, and softly called Gabrielle's name in an effort not to startle her. "Gabrielle....are you alright?"

The bard turned a tear streaked face towards the voice she had come to love. "Just leave me alone Xena, you can't help one can." With those words she turned back towards the cliffs.

Xena didn't like the vacant look that had entered Gabrielle's eyes. It was a look she had seen many times before in battle. It was the look of some one that had given up and was ready to die. The lump that was forming in Xena's throat was making it nearly impossible for her to breath. She was not sure what had gotten her lover to this point, but she did know that she had to find a way to reach her. "Gabrielle, please tell me what's wrong.

"I can't do it...I just can't. There has to be some kind of mistake...Lao Ma can't be right."

The name of the woman that had been Xena's mentor in Chin captured her attention more than anything else Gabrielle had said. Maybe there was a key there. "Lao Ma? What does she have to do with the way you are feeling Gabrielle?"

The bard looked at Xena, but it was almost as if she were looking through her when she began to speak. "She spoke to me Xena. I know it doesn't make sense but she spoke to me. She knows that I am struggling with my desire to lead a life of peace and the realities of our life together. She says there is only one answer, that your dark side will eventually win out if I stay with you."

Xena didn't like the turn this conversation was taking. She braced herself to hear that Lao Ma had told Gabrielle to leave, and that the bard was trying to find the courage to do that. It would break her heart to let her go, but it would hurt her even more if Gabrielle to stayed with her and suffered because of it. Maybe Lao Ma had appeared because she had knowledge of Xena's vision of their deaths on the cross and knew that if the stayed together that Gabrielle's fate would be sealed. The warrior could accept this as her fate, but something within her refused to let the woman she loved follow her to death because of her past crimes. She held her breath waiting for the words that she knew would end any reason she would have for wanting to live. What came next was the last thing she had expected.

"Lao Ma said there was only one way I would ever find peace, There is no way in the world I can do it I would rather end my own life."

"Gabrielle! your talking crazy now. I can't say I welcome the idea of you leaving, but if that is what you have to do in order to be at peace...."

"Leave you? Is that what you think this is about? No Xena, Lao Ma said you would never allow that.... she said I would never know peace while you lived. The only way to end my torment and live in peace is to kill you."

To be continued

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