The Battle For Gabrielle's Soul Part II
by Marion D Tuttle
Standard disclaimers: As you must know by now These characters are not of my own creation, they belong to Universal Studios. The story idea however is mine. Xena, Gabrielle and company are just out on loan. I promise to return them unharmed when I'm finished.
Sex Disclaimer: Yes there is going to be more than a passing mention of a relationship between two women that share a deep bond on all levels.
I welcome any comments at firstname.lastname@example.org
"I can't do it Xena.... I can't kill you... But if what you have said about Lao Ma is true then I can't live with you either....I know I would never be able to leave you, whether you tried to make me stay or not..."
"Gabrielle" The hurt was evident in her voice. "I hope you know that I would NEVER force you into anything, including staying with me."
The anguish she heard in the warrior's voice just served to fuel her desperation. "I know that Xena, that's what makes this worse. I can't leave you because of me, not because of you. You are so much a part of me that I don't think I could live without you, I know I couldn't Yet if I stay it will destroy us both anyway so what choice am I left with. At least this way maybe you might have a chance."
"Gabrielle! Think about what you are saying! You are talking about
ending your life to save mine, there is no way that would ever work
for several reasons. First of all you are my life, there is no way
that I could just stand here and let you die, even if I did I swear I
would follow you to the other side. I lost you once, or thought I had
and that very nearly killed me. How could you even think that this
would be the answer?" She moved closer to Gabrielle, she wanted to
have the bard in the protective circle of her arms so she could
prevent her from doing something on impulse that would bring tragedy.
Folding Gabrielle into her arms she continued on. "Secondly, don't you
think it rather odd that Lao Ma of all people would appear to you and advocate the use of violence to solve a problem. Even if her spirit did believe that my soul was lost and beyond redemption, she would never want you to blacken your soul with cold blooded murder. It just doesn't make sense." She held the trembling bard close. "Remember when I told you about Ming Sue? Lao Ma kept me from killing him, even though there was no way that he would ever change and she knew it. She would not allow murder to be used to solve a problem then."
"But when you killed Ming Tein..."
"I was wrong to do that! I let my own anger twist things to fit what I wanted. I knew even before I got to Chin that Lao Ma was dead." her eyes clouded over. "I sensed it, and I wanted to take revenge, it was my way Gabrielle not hers."
Standing still within her warrior's embrace, Gabrielle considered everything she had just heard. What Xena was saying made perfect sense, she had felt confusion at the suggestion that murder would bring her peace. Aside from the fact that from everything Xena had told her about Lao Ma was completely opposite from the woman she had encountered. This woman, or spirit of a woman had presented the outward appearance of peace. But there had seemed to be something, just under the surface that had made Gabrielle think she was dealing with her own conflicts. "Why Xena? Why would Lao Ma's spirit try to do this?"
"If it really is Lao Ma.... It wouldn't be the first time that the Gods or someone else with powers tried to interfere in our lives."
This revelation seemed to bring Gabrielle back from the precipice she had been poised on. Her mind began to go over all the possibilities that Xena's suggestion raised. "Ares?"
"No, at least I don't think so, this isn't his style. Ares can be
deceptive alright but he normally is more directly involved in his
schemes, and he would never hide behind the guise of a woman. His
Godly pride would never allow that."
"I'm not sure, but I intended to find out. One thing I am sure of, whoever you met,it was not Lao Ma. I can not believe that she would ever tell anyone to commit murder. She died to preserve the inner peace she had found. She wouldn't even use her powers to save her own life because it would involve killing her son."
The tension broke in the bard and she pushed herself closer to Xena, who in turn tightened her arms around her. "What are we going to do Xena?"
"We are going to find out who wants to destroy us and why. And then we are going to stop them." She lowered her lips to Gabrielle's and gave her a kiss of infinite tenderness. there was no sexual demand or need in the kiss. It was one of simple comfort and an expression of the deep love and commitment both women felt for each other. Their lips parted and Xena looked down at Gabrielle and saw all the emotions she felt for this small woman reflected back at her. "I love you Gabrielle, and I promise you we will get through this...together."
The scene the two women presented caused nothing but anger and frustration in the spector that watched them. So close...she had come so close to success. She had been convinced that after their talk the bard would either kill Xena, or in her confused state over her conflicting emotions end her own life. At first it hadn't mattered which outcome her plan had. Either way the warrior princes would have been destroyed. Her murder, obviously would have eliminated her. But as the plan had moved forward a larger and larger part of her wished that Gabrielle would choose to end her own life and allow Xena to live. She still would have been utterly destroyed by her lovers death. And her tormenter believed she would have taken her own life in her grief or been in such a weakened and vulnerable state that delivering the actual death blow would have been easy. The pleasure would have come in watching the once invincible Destroyer Of Nations suffer over the death of her lover. She saw now that another, more direct approach would have to be taken. She had not counted on Gabrielle's strength, thinking she was nothing more than a weakling that had somehow
managed to capture the hardened warrior's interest with her innocence. Fading back into the darkness of the surrounding forest Xena and Gabrielle's enemy withdrew to form yet another plan.
This had been just one more in a long campaign of trying to gain
control over the Bard. At first, she had viewed the young woman
traveling with Xena as little more than a passing nuisance. But it
rapidly became clear that Gabrielle was Xena's one soft spot. Whatever happened to the bard had a direct affect on the warrior. With this powerful knowledge a war had been waged to throw Gabrielle into turmoil. Making her doubt her choices in life, throwing her into a sense of needing something more in her life. Something she was not getting and could never get from Xena. It had come as a surprise at first to find out that Xena and her friend her lovers, but in a way that was even better. It would make it much easier to execute her plan if the warrior did in fact have genuine feelings for this woman. It should have been so easy.
When Gabrielle had first encountered Najara with all her talk of peace
and the light she was certain she had won. The bard was having so many
doubts that were brought on by the insistence of this seemingly
upright paragon that wanted nothing but to bring love healing and
peace to the whole world. Even Xena had been nearly convinced, she was
ready to leave Gabrielle behind for her own good. Her heart breaking
over all the pain she had brought into her young lover's life. Had she
not found that warlord that told her of Najara's penchant for death she would have ridden away, without the bard and without the will to go on.
That plan had been thwarted and after a fight that should have left the warrior dead, she had tracked Najara and Gabrielle down. Calling on some of her old fire and determination she had vanquished Najara and reclaimed the woman she loved. The first mistake had been in underestimating the warrior princess and the power of emotion between the two women. She wouldn't make the same mistake twice.
All the efforts in India, Adien, the possession by the evil spirit making
Gabrielle believe she was a Devi gifted with the power of healing. Even
fool Eli had played right into her plans, with all his talk of love and
peace, he helped further plant the seeds of doubts in the bards mind. The
beauty of it was he was not even aware of the service he had unwittingly provided. It all should have been so easy, but the one thing she had not counted on was that the love shared by these to women would be so strong.
By posing as Lao Ma she was sure that she would finally bring Gabrielle under her control, or drive her so far into despair that she would seek release in death. She had nearly succeeded, now she knew it was going to take a little more.
Hair prickled on he back of Xena's neck, she had looked around for someone. Her senses told her she and Gabrielle were being watched. It was a fairly new sensation to her. She knew they were not being watched by a mortal, but at the same time she also knew that there were no Gods present. She had always been able to detect their presence in the past. What she was feeling now was a sensation that had just started in recent months. She made an effort to keep her concerns to herself though. Gabrielle was still in an extremely fragile state and the last thing in the world Xena wanted to do was bring up anything that might create more problems.
They walked back to the campsite in relative silence, each woman wrapped in their own thoughts. The sight of their forgotten dinner reminded Gabrielle that she was hungry. Xena smiled at the rumble she heard coming from the bard's stomach. 'At least she still has her appetite' Xena thought to herself. Looking at Gabrielle Xena's mind once again went back to when all these changes started taking place. It came as no surprise to her that Gabrielle felt the need to find a sense of peace. The past year had taken an emotional toll on both of them. The had been through so much, it still amazed the warrior at times that they had survived it all. And while Xena had felt the effects dramatically of all that had happened, she still felt an emptiness over the loss of her son. She had come to terms with what had taken place and gotten past laying blame at Gabrielle's door. The truth was if she still blamed anyone it was herself.
The problem was, even though Gabrielle had worked through the anger and no
longer blamed Xena as she once had. She was still shaken and doubting the
choices she had made that had brought her to this point in her life. The
only thing she had no doubts about was her love and commitment to Xena.
Which in it's own way caused her more problems. She could never leave the
warrior, even if she wanted to, the attraction was too strong. But by staying she was constantly put in positions that challenged her desire to lead a life of peace. There seemed to be no way out.
Gabrielle's thought's were running along a similar line. She had never
really advocated the use of violence. In fact there had been many times in
which she had convinced Xena to try another way first. There had been times
when it had worked, and others when it had not. That was what bothered her.
Before in her travels with Xena she had always fought beside the warrior
when there was no other way. She had accepted that there were times when
there was no choice but to fight. What was so different now? She knew in
heart that Xena only fought when she had to for their own protection or
of someone that was unable to fight for themselves. So why was she having
such a hard time with it now?
Part of her wanted to just go back to the way things had been before, She and Xena, fighting for the greater good. Always there for each other, ready to protect each other. Everything had been so simple then, no choices as to whether or not her actions were right in the overall scheme of things. She knew she was doing what she was meant to until recently. "Xena, do you think that this is some kind of test?"
"All of this." She waved her hand around them as if trying to detect a
physical presence in the midst of all the emotional turmoil she was
"I have made a commitment to live peacefully, not to fight. Maybe this is
some kind of test to see if I really am committed to the path I have
Xena could tell at this point the bard was reaching for something, anything
that would help her make sense of all that was happening to her. She felt a
need in herself to reassure Gabrielle that it was going to be all right,
that everything that was going on would be over soon, but she couldn't do
that. Every instinct she had told her there was more to this and she was not about to let Gabrielle fall into a false sense of security by thinking that this was just some test to her faith. Still she didn't want to seem like she was dismissing what the bard said out of hand, that could cause even bigger
problems. She decided cation would be best in this instance.
"I don't really know what to think at this point Gabrielle. I have a few ideas but none of them seem to add up right now. We're both tired let's just try and get some rest and maybe we can get a fresh look at this in the morning."
Gabrielle let Xena led her to there bed roll, she laid down in the comforting circle of her warrior's arms. Xena dropped a light kiss on her forehead "Good night Gabrielle."
"I don't want...I mean I'm not sleepy right now. I need to feel you make love to me please."
Normally these words alone would be enough to start a fire in Xena that would take the rest of the night to put out. But they had not been in normal circumstances for quite some time now. She felt like she was back in the days when she and Gabrielle had first become lovers, unsure of how far she should go for fear of going too fast with the young woman she loved so much. She heard herself saying the words that she had not said in over three years. "Are you sure Gabrielle?"
Gabrielle pulled her head down so that their lips were barely touching. The look in her eye's and her whispered words were all the warrior need to see and hear. "Yes Xena, I'm sure. Everything else may have me confused right now but one thing I know for sure is that I love you and I always will. I need to feel close to you right now."
Xena felt her breath catch in her throat at Gabrielle's words. She had been waiting for the bard to make the first move as far as love making. The last thing she had wanted to do was make her lover feel like she was being pushed, and here she was, begging the warrior to give her what she had been wanting to for weeks now. Her mind told her they should wait until they found the solution to what was happening, but her body wasn't going to let her. She rolled over until her body was stretched out full length on top of Gabrielle's. Lowering her lips for another kiss, she poured all the love and tenderness she felt for this woman in to this one kiss. Her heart soared as she felt Gabrielle respond to the touch of her hands and lips.
Not breaking the contact of their kiss, she let her hands wander to the ties that held the top together in the back. Soft skin was revealed to her touch as she slowly pulled the laces from their places. She pulled the garment from her lover's body and let her hand settle over a breast. The warm touch of Xena's hand increased the tempo of Gabrielle's breathing. She arched her back to increase the contact of her body to the warrior's "God's I have missed having you touch me like this" she gasped as Xena moved to take the hardening nipple between her lips.
"You're so beautiful Gabrielle....I want you..." The words were choked off by the urgent need Xena felt to fulfill everything Gabrielle wanted from her. The bards needs were fast becoming her own and she needed to be inside of her lover, to show her that she was the most important thing in all the world to her.
Gabrielle sensed the change in the warrior and urged her on. There was no
time tonight for long drawn out embraces and gentle caresses. Both women
were in a state of need that had been heightened by the recent events they
had faced. They needed to know that there was still the passion there that
marked them as belonging to each other. A bond that could never be broken
forged out of the love and desire they felt for one another. "Yes Xena...take me now!"
Those words were the only encouragement Xena needed to know that this was what Gabrielle wanted. Her heart burst at the sound, she had feared she would never hear this from her bard again. Just knowing that all the love was still there fuelled her on. She wanted to make this perfect, like the first time for both of them. But this would be even better then the first time, this was a reaffermation of the love that they knew was there.
Her hand moved to claim her lover in the most intimate way possible. Blue eyes locked with deep green just before they were covered by lids made heavy with passion. "I love you Gabrielle...so much." With these words she entered Gabrielle's willing and eager body. She tried to set a slow pace but, Gabrielle would have none of it. She pushed her hips up against Xena's hand demanding more from the warrior. It was a gift Xena was more than willing to give.
A low moan escaped her lips as she came closer and closer to her climax,
sounds she was making were almost enough to put Xena over the edge. without
stopping the motion of her hand she found a way to straddle one of
Gabrielle's thighs. The wetness coated the bard's leg as Xena began to rub
against her in the same tempo that she was moving inside of the bard. "Gods
Gabrielle....can you feel what you do to me?"
She could feel it, Xena was as close to release as she was and both women
knew it. They were torn between wanting the feelings they were having to go
on forever and desperately needing to allow their bodies the release they
craved. Gabrielle moved to shift their position, that was their undoing. By
moving on top of Xena the warrior's fingers were pushed even deeper into
bard's body just as she pressed her leg against Xena's warm center.
Both of them felt they orgasm rock through their bodies at the same time.
The torrent of emotion and passion left both women breathless and clinging
to each other. Limbs intertwind as they laid together in the afterglow of
the love that they shared. They waited for their heartbeats to slow to
normal and their breathing to slow.
Xena felt Gabrielle's lips pressed against hers, kissing her back to her senses. "Thank you."
A smile touched the warrior's features "For what?"
"For making me feel more love than I ever have in my life."
Xena stroked her fingers through silken strands of hair as she answered "The feeling is very mutual my love, now let's see about getting some rest. We have quite a lot ahead of us tomorrow if we want to get to the bottom of this."
Pulling the blankets over them, Xena pulled Gabrielle closer to her and settled her head on her shoulder. For her part Gabrielle was feeling better then she had in weeks. She was convinced now that someway the would find a solution to this.
The spector that had been watching them felt the rage at the failure of her
plans so far build up in her. She made the determination that tomorrow was
going to be the day that all of this came to an end. She had decided that
the best revenge on the Warrior Princess was going to make her suffer
through the death of her dear bard. And tomorrow was when it was going to happen. "Enjoy or night with your lover warrior, because it will be your last!"
Morning found warrior and bard waking up at the same time, having their sleep interrupted by a bright light. At first Gabrielle had thought the sun was in her eyes. when she opened her eyes though she was greeted with the sight of the woman she had encountered in the clearing the night before. Xena was already awake and staring in disbelieve at the semi transparent woman standing before them. She could not deny that what she was seeing looked like Lao Ma....If this was what Gabrielle had seen last night...maybe there was more going on then she knew.
"Xena, I see you were able to convince Gabrielle once again to turn from what she knows to be right."
The venom in the voice rocked Xena, this may look like Lao Ma, but it sounded nothing like her. Oh the sound of the voice was the same, but the things she was saying could never come from Lao Ma. Something was very wrong, the problem was she didn't know what it was. She decided the only way to get answers was to play along, at least for a while.
"And just what is it that she know's is right? Murder? Is that the way for her to unburden her soul and get away from violence? Seems strange to me that you of all people would want Gabrielle to murder me."
"So the bard did tell you what needed to be done then."
"She told me what you said. Did you know that Gabrielle had made the decision to end her own life rather than mine? Or was that your plan all along?"
Gabrielle felt the tension build up in her. Was it possible that this
had been trying to trick her into taking her own life all along? She began
to feel assailed by all the doubts again, she wanted to believe that her
choices had been right but it was seeming more and more like she was
more problems then she was solving with the way she had choosen to live. She saw Xena advance on the semi transparent vision of what she thought was Lao Ma, Something inside told her if she did make contact it could prove to be fatal. "Stop! Xena, we can't fight this anymore." She turned with resignation to the spirit. "This is to much, I don't know what to do...."
The spirit had to fight to keep the smile from her face. She had done it, she had both women right where she wanted them, and they didn't even know it. She would have to be careful, now more than ever. She had come this close so many times before to seeing her plan for vengeance carried out. Just to have it fall apart at the last minute in the face of the strength of the love between these two. She looked from the warrior to the bard, her next move would make all the difference in the world. "There is another way....but it is risky."
Gabrielle's response was immediate "What?"
The reason you have suffered so much Gabrielle is you have taken the weight of Xena's sins upon your own soul. Retribution is required for this turmoil to be resolved. Normally you would never know peace while the person that caused this lived." She cast a meaningful glance at Xena. "If you are not willing to take her life to save your own there is only one other course of action available to you that may allow you both to move past this."
Xena's sense were on full alert, there was something here that just was not making sense. "What is that?"
"Gabrielle must win forgiveness for you Xena, for everything you have done. All your crimes, all the pain and death you have caused."
"Xena has changed." Gabrielle protested "She is not like that anymore, what she does now she does to help people."
"That is what you must convince the Gods of..."
Here it was, now the were going to find out what involvement the Gods had in all of this. "The Gods know that Xena is not a blood thirsty warlord anymore. You saw the potential for good in her all those years ago. How can you say now that she has to pay for past crimes? What about everything she has done to make up for that?"
"That is part of the problem Gabrielle. There is a faction of the Gods that
think Xena has not really changed her original goal of trying to rule the
world. She has just changed the face of her tactics. She still kills, when
it suits her purpose. There have been times in fact where she has shown a
wanton disregard for life. Remember Krasus? She told you then his death was not the issue, she convinced you that his life was nothing compared to getting Verkinix free. How many other people have meet there fates at the end of Xena's blade or as a direct result of a plan she had. And all for
what, because Xena thought it was the right thing to do? Ask yourself Gabrielle if she truly wanted to change then why does she still employ the tactics of a warlord?"
Gabrielle felt a lump form in her throat at Lao Ma's speech. She didn't want to believe any of the things that were being said, but the truth was that there had been times when Xena had killed that Gabrielle had questioned in her mind if there could have been another way. She loved the warrior and had always tried to stand by her, but it was becoming more difficult to reconcile herself to the fact that sometimes there was no other way to handel things but the way that Xena had chosen. "Is that all I have to do? Convince the Gods that Xena has changed?
"There is more to it then that, it's not as easy as it sounds. The Gods
determined that payment must be made for all the crimes Xena has committed.
If you can make them believe that Xena has truly changed you will be
returned here. And you and Xena will be left to resume your lives with no
further interference, you will at last be granted the sense of peace in your life you seek. All past guilt and doubts will be removed. But, if you go to them and fail to convince them Xena's punishment will become yours, you will take her place and your life will become forfeit and you will spend eternity in Tarterus."
"Gabrielle no! I can't let you do this!"
"Xena we don't have a choice! I know that I have had doubts for a long time now. But the truth is I know in my heart that you are not the person you once were. If we try to go on this way it will destroy us both. I have to do this..."
Embracing the warrior tears began to stream down her face "I love you Xena."
"Gabrielle, please don't do this...."
Before she had a chance to say anything further Lao Ma interceded. "If you
have made your choice Gabrielle we must go now. The Gods have held back
enough they won't wait on this matter much longer before they take their
course of action. I was only able to do as much as I have because I felt I
owed it to Xena." The lie was clearly evident in her voice but she went on.
"There was love there once Xena, I didn't want to see you suffer anymore than necessary."
"It sounds like I have already been tried and convicted. If that is the case then why should Gabrielle risk her life and soul for me?"
A small slip, but one that could be recovered quickly enough "There is a
chance, a small one. That Gabrielle can convince the Gods that you have
changed it will take all the love she feels for you to do that. If you were
to go before them to plead your own case, it would just look like you were
trying to save your own skin. But, Gabrielle's pleas may carry more weight."
"I'm still not convinced. I have had many dealings with the Gods, Ares, Aphrodite, Artemiss they all know what is in my heart. Ares especially has tried on more than one occasion to get me to go back to my old ways. He even tried to get me to kill Gabrielle for Zeus sake. Who are the Gods you speak of that are asking this?"
She knew she would have to move quickly, Gabrielle was not going to be a problem her only concern was saving Xena. She had been so worn down by all the events of the past few months... But the warrior was another matter entirely. "That is not for me to reveal, all I can tell you is there is a demand for action now." Turning to the bard she added. "It is time Gabrielle."
Xena tried one last attempt to make Gabrielle see that there was something wrong in all of this. "Gabrielle, this just doesn't make any sense. I'm asking you not to do this, there has to be another way."
The tears streamed out of Gabrielle's eyes, she touched Xena's cheek softly as she spoke. "I wish there was Xena, but I have to go... if there is any way that I can save you." She turned to the spector of Lao Ma "If this is the only way that this can end then I have no choice."
The spector held out her hand to Gabrielle "It is time then." She waved a hand and both her and the bard disappeared before Xena's eye's
"Gabrielle....." Xena called to the bard but there was no answer except the wind in the trees. Tears fell down her cheeks. No matter what Lao Ma was saying the warrior knew that something was very wrong. The only thing she could think of to do was to go to Mount Olympus for answers.
"I'll get to the bottom of this love, just hang on for me please."
To be continued........
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