The Battle For Gabrielle's Soul Part III
by Marion D Tuttle


Standard disclaimers: I do not own Xena, Gabrielle, Lao Ma or any of the other characters that are making an appearance in this story. I do own the story idea however.

Sex disclaimers: Yes it is there, there are scenes that depict a very loving relationship between two women. If this sort of thing bothers you then there are many other great stories you could read but this one is probably not for you.

Xena had ridden for three days none stop to reach her destination, she hated the fact that she had to go to the Gods for help with this but she saw no other choice. If the spirit that had presented herself to Gabrielle had been a fake she would find out here. If she had, in fact been real maybe she could plead her case and win Gabrielle's freedom. She wasn't about to let the bard suffer for mistakes that she had made in her own life.

None of this made any sense to her, and she was determined to get to the bottom of it. She had pushed Argo as hard as she dared, her faithful mount seemed to sense her mistress' urgency and pressed on with little or no rest. Now she was at the foot of Mount Olympus and ready to take on whomever she needed to in order to get answers. Her mind went back to the last time she saw Gabrielle, just before she had disappeared. She had begged her lover not to go with the spector, something just didn't seem right. There were to many things that just didn't add up. But Gabrielle had become so confused as to what was happening that it was almost as if she were under some sort of spell or enchantment.

The warrior was starting to feel the strain of all of this as well. She had begun to wonder if she was in fact being called to account for her past crimes.What she could not understand was why now? Why after she had turned her life around and dedicated herself to help those that she had once
victimized. She dismounted Argo and felt her knees give way under her, she was exhausted but she couldn't stop, there was to much at stake here. Gabrielle's life might well depend on the answers she got here today. She had already made the decision that no matter what happened she was not going to let the bard sacrifice herself.

She looked towards the peak of the mountain that was home to the Gods. As far as she had come, it still seemed like she had forever to go to reach her goal. In her frustration she found herself screaming into the air. "Damn it Zeus! You are the king of the Gods, nothing happens without your knowledge. If for some reason you want to call me to judgement then go ahead. But leave
Gabrielle out of this!"

A flash of light appeared before her eyes, once they had a chance to clear she found Zeus himself standing in front of her. "You are the only mortal that dares speak to the Gods in such a way. I wonder why that is?"

"Because I don't fear any of you." Was the response "There is nothing you could do to me that could be worse then the tortures I endure every day over what I have done in my past, or so I thought."

Zeus lifted a questioning brow at the warrior "You thought? Has something changed?"

Xena's shoulders slumped "Yes, everything has changed. If you are going to demand payments for my past crimes, I am here to take whatever punishment you are going to dish out. As long as you promise to leave Gabrielle in peace I won't fight you."

Instead of starting to make sense to him, things were becoming more and more confused. "Xena I don't know what you are talking about. I have not called for a judgement on you. And I certainly have not done anything concerning the little bard you travel with." It was his turn to look at the ground. "If I am going to do anything where you two are concerned it should be to thank you for everything you have done. You have helped many people, including my son Hercules. I have a softer spot for mortals than my children and the rest of the Gods seem to."

Now Xena was even more perplexed, she had alternated between being sure that something was very wrong to being certain that she was finally being called to account for her past. The strain and exhaustion was starting to take it's toll on her. "So you have not called for a judgement?"

"No Xena."

"Do you know anything about why I am here?"

"I can't say that I do, no."

Taking time to look into his eyes for any sight of a deception, Xena saw none. Zeus was able to sense her thoughts, he told her. "Xena, I know that you have little or no reason to trust a thing any of the Gods tell you. But I am telling you the truth, I don't know what you have come here for."

She considered not saying anything, but in the end decided that she would tell him. She had traveled all this way and maybe just maybe there might be something he could do to help. "I have to find Gabrielle, a spirit appeared to her claiming to be Lao Ma." For some reason she just assumed that he would know who Loa Ma was. If for no other reason, Ares might have said something. "She had Gabrielle ready to kill herself because she was trying to convince her that the only way she could find peace in her life was to kill me. She convinced Gabrielle that the evil in my soul was going to take her over and that as long as I lived Gabrielle would forever be haunted by the guilt she has been feeling lately."

Zeus just took in this information, an idea was starting to form in his mind. But he didn't want to say anything until he knew all of the facts. "When I found Gabrielle ready to jump off a cliff, I tried to get to the bottom of things she seemed so lost. Then when this spirit appeared to both of us it seemed to have changed tactics. She told us that the Gods had decided that the time had come for me to answer for my crimes. That the only chance to save me was for Gabrielle to plead my case. If she could convince them of the changes I had made in my life then I would be allowed to live my
life in peace with no further interference from the Gods. However if she failed in her attempt to
win forgiveness for me then she would have to take on my punishment."

He considered the things that Xena had told him for a moment. The things she was saying would have made no sense at all if not for something he had heard just days before. "I think I may be able to help you Xena, but my help does come with a price."

She couldn't keep the sneer out of her voice when she answered "Doesn't it always? Normally I would tell you no, but the truth is I have a feeling that I am going to need your help to save Gabrielle and I would do anything for her."

"Even put yourself in a position to be indebted to the Gods?"

"Even that." Was the simple answer

"Very well then. I will tell you what little I know, but first to be fair I am going to tell you what I expect in exchange for my help."

Xena didn't really have the patience she needed for this right now but she willed herself to keep from making any remarks that might break the tenuous bond she had formed here. She knew she needed Zeus' help.

"If it's all the same to you I would just as soon get on with saving Gabrielle. You have my word Zeus that whatever you ask of me I will do, but right now I only care about....." For the briefest of moments Xena could have sworn she say something close to emotion and understanding in his eyes.

"I understand Xena, nothing but the bard matters to you now. So be it, the spector that has visited you and Gabrielle is not your friend Lao Ma although she is indirectly involved in all of this."

The warrior breathed a sigh of relief, for some reason if it had been Lao Ma, Xena had feared that all would have been lost. She had never been able to reach the level of powers that Lao Ma had ben capable of on the mortal plain, except for that one time in Chin. If she had needed to meet Lao Ma now in spirit, she was sure she would have lost. "So if it was not Lao Ma who was it, and how is she involved?"

"Lao Ma's spiritual form has been manipulated by one of equal power, but an evil that few in this world have ever seen. Lao Ma was caught of guard and as a result this person was able to basically take over her spirit, her essence...what have you. It is Alti."

Xena felt her heart sink, She and Gabrielle had fought Alti in India and even though she knew from the words of the Indian goddess they had saved that she would meet Alti again and again in other lives. She had hoped that for this lifetime at least, she was free of her."

"I don't....."

"Understand? It's not that hard really. Alti knows that Gabrielle means everything to you. She is the key to you Xena, so if she destroys Gabrielle she will in turn destroy you. And have the pleasure of watching you suffer in the process. I can not directly interfere in this...."

"I know, I know rules of the Gods and all that.. what I don't understand is why you are offering your help at all. From what I have heard from Hercules you were never in any real rush to come to his aide when he needed you and you are his Father."

"I have done all for Hercules that I could in every way that I could. He fights me at every turn though, I do love him and would never allow him to be hurt if I could prevent it."

She thought back to the time that Hercules had given up his strength so that he and his wife Serena could have a normal life. As alway Ares had gone back on his word and Strife had killed Serena, tormenting the then fully mortal Hercules with dreams that led him to think he may have murdered his own wife. Zeus had intervened then and returned Hercules' strength to him when he found out that it was all a grand plan by Ares to take Hercules down. Xena had to admit that Zeus has looked like he truly cared about the outcome of the battle and wanted his half mortal son to win. "Alright, you have made your point. Now tell me what I need to do to save Gabrielle from Alti."

"You have to make Alti think that you are going to give her the one thing she has always wanted more then anything in this world."

A dark sardonic brow rose high above one crystal blue eye. "And that would be?"

"Your soul." He waited for the impact of his words to set in. "You have to make her believe that you are going to return to your old ways and once again become the Destroyer Of Nations."

Xena was not sure how to react to what she had just heard. "After all that has happened what makes you think that Alti would believe that and even more important. Why would I want to make her think that?"

"Alti is planning on getting an army together that will wreck havoc in the world. She is not mortal at this point but nor is she a God. That is her ultimate goal. She wants to turn the world upside down and then rule over it as a God, she knows even if she can find Ambrosia at this point she is going
to need more than that. Alti is not stupid and she has learned from others past mistakes that have tried to take the short road to glory and power. She will not be easy to defeat but you must
if you have any hope of ever seeing Gabrielle again."

Cold blue eyes narrowed "You bastard! You have known all along what was going on! You could have warned us but you allowed Alti to capture Gabrielle because you knew that was the only way I would fight this battle for you. If Alti succeeds in her plan she will destroy the Olympian Gods."

He tried but he could not hide the reaction in his features to her realization. He decided that his best course of action was the truth. "Yes Xena I have known for quite some time now what Alti is up to. And I did allow things to get to this point before coming to you in order to secure your help....But the truth is even though I knew that Alti had plans that involved gaining your strength. I did not know that she was using Gabrielle" A look at the storm brewing in her eyes told him what it was about this woman that had so bewitched his son Ares. "You are the only one that can defeat Alti."

She closed her eyes in an effort to regain control. "The next time you want something from me...ask. I don't like it when my life is played with...even by the Gods themselves." She had turned to leave and then looked back over her shoulder to deliver one last message. "Oh and Zeus, if Gabrielle is harmed in any way when I find her. Alti will be the least of your worries."

The darkness in the small cell she was being held in wasn't that bad, she had almost adjusted to it. It was the constant assortment of noises that were just out of her field of perception that was beginning to get to her. In her mind she knew she had only been her for two days, but it was starting to feel as though it had been years. With each passing hour her hope of Xena finding her and releasing her from the hell she had fallen into faded. It first when she had awoken from the deep sleep her head felt fuzzy. There were flashes of memory, but nothing tangible. Nothing that made any sense to her anyway. She seemed to recall talking with Lao Ma. After some thought
though she knew that couldn't be. There where haunting images of attempting to kill Xena, only to stop at the last moment. Then thoughts of causing her own death to end everything. She was playing it all over againin her head trying to understand how she had gotten here.

She had not been awake long when the nosies had started, nosies from old battles she and Xena had fought together. Sounds from the time she lost her blood innocence in the temple of Dayhok. Fragments of memories from when Hope killed Solan, Xena's attempt to kill her, The pain and betrayal she had felt...All the pain she had lived through, it seemed like it was all concentrated in this one place to torment her.

Then without warning or explanation the voices and noises just stopped and she was greeted with nothing but silence. She raised her face looking up from the corner of the cell she had settled in trying to find refuge from the torment. She tried to focus her eyes in the near total darkness. She saw a form approaching her cell "Xena?"

The woman stood outside and just looked at her, saying nothing. She looked like the warrior but there was a coldness about her "In trouble again I see. I guess you think I am going to get you out of this once again don't you?"

Gabrielle felt an emptiness she couldn't explain. Here was the woman she loved acting like she couldn't care less that she had found her. She reached out her hand to her and felt the cold fingers of dread clamp around her heart when all Xena did was stare at her and made no effort to touch her. "You know something Gabrielle? I've had a chance to do a lot of thinking since you came up missing. And the truth is that you have made me weak, I don't think I like that very much. With all
your talk of peace and love you really have taken my focus off of what I had set out to do in the beginning and that is to rule the world. I really think you would be doing us both a favor if
you just put and end to it."

The tears were streaming down Gabrielle's face at Xena's harsh words, she didn't know what to think anymore. She had gone with the spirit of Lao Ma to try and save Xena. Then before she knew what had happened she had found herself imprisoned in this dark, dank cell. There was no council of Gods for her to plead Xena's case to. No one was there at all, even the spirit that
had brought her here had vanished. She had begun to think that she had truly gone crazy and was destined to die here. Then the sight of Xena had raised her hopes only to have them dashed into deeper despair when the warrior seemed to be telling her that she was a burden in her life.

Seeing the pain on the bard's features Xena knelt down by the bars and reached a hand through, touching Gabrielle to gain her attention. Emerald eyes, bright with unshed tears turned towards her. "Gabrielle, I don't want to see you suffer anymore. I don't hate you, the truth is I even have a bit
of affection for you. But the bottom line is you have really outlived your usefulness to me..."

This bought the bard to her feet, a fire flared to life in her eyes. "You have an affection for me! I have outlived my usefulness! What happened to me being the love of your life, your guiding light, the person that helped you to stay on the path of right? What about all that Xena? Was it all just

A smirk touched the warrior's features "Not lies exactly Gabrielle. They served their purpose, after all you being an innocent and all I had to tell you something to get under your skirt. I'm sorry to say it really wasn't worth the wait.. You were a nice distraction but I've had better." She held
out the vial that had seemed to materialize out of no where. "Here, like I said I don't want you to suffer....Drink this and you will just go to sleep...."

Gabrielle took the vial that was offered, could it be that easy? Just one drink and she could put a stop to all the lies and betrayals..all the pain. Could it be that easy? There was only one way to find out. She raised the vial to her lips what did it matter anymore? Everything that mattered to her
was a lie. Xena never really loved her she had just been using her as a toy, a distraction. She felt as if her heart had been shattered. As much as she wanted to hate the warrior for the pain she was feeling, she couldn't. The truth was at this point she couldn't feel much of anything, she was numb.
"Good bye Xena...." She swallowed the contents of the vial and laid down waiting for the darkness to come and take her away for the last time. As Xena stood there and watched the bards slow even breathing her face and form changed until it was Alti standing before the cell.

The corridor leading into the abandoned underground prison was close to pitch black. Cold water ran down the stone walls that were covered with moss from years of neglect. Xena felt her way along the walls with her hands, it made moving much slower this way, but she did not want to use a torch and possibly alert anyone up ahead to her presence. She had heard the sound of Gabrielle's voice although she could not make out the words. Strangely enough she had thought she had heard her own voice too. Moving forward she felt cold fear at what she was going to find, she knew now what Alti's plan was, or most of it anyway. Zeus had said that Alti's main objective was to rule the world, and Xena had no doubt that this was in fact a large part of the plan. Her heart told her however that Alti wanted more than anything to spill Xena's blood and take her revenge. She had thought aboutZeus' plan to make Alti think she had returned to her old ways. If it had been anyone else She might have agreed but Alti would see through that in a moment and Xena knew it. Alti could see into people's very heart's and souls. Then a plan had come to her that would allow her to convince her nemesis at least temporarily, that her heart had blackened. She could only pray that her bard would forgive her for what she was going to do. She closed her eye's briefly "Please Gabrielle....please forgive me for what I am about to do. Even if it makes you hate me it will be worth it if it gets you to safety." With this thought in mind she set about the process of
making her mind and heart blank of emotion.

Stepping out into the main room she saw the cell, her bard was huddled in the corner. She looked like she was near death. There was no response from her at all. If it had not been for the iron control Xena had she would have rushed over to where Gabrielle laid and found a way to get through the bars to the woman she loved. The memoryof the last night that the had shared together kept trying to pry it's way into her mind. She shook her head to clear it of the thoughts, if she was
going to save Gabrielle she was going to have to stay focused. One slip and Alti would have them both right where she wanted them.

Stepping out into the dim light offered by the torches Xena called out "Alti, I know that your here. Why not just show yourself, I have news for you." She waited, she was not aware she was holding her breath until she heard the voice behind her.

"Well Xena, I must admit I'm not surprised that you figured it out. I am however surprised that you took such a direct approach to save your little bard."

Xena just shrugged her shoulders. "I don't know why you bothered really....If you were trying to get my attention there were better ways."

"I want more than your attention Xena, I want your soul. I want to destroy you. Your little friend their is the key by destroying her I get the ultimate revenge. I get to watch you suffer of course the bonus to all this is you will be so stricken with grief that when I form my Army you will be
powerless to stop me."

A small smirk crossed Xena's face "There's only two holes in your plan Alti, first of all I have gotten a little tired of being the hero warrior. I spend more time pulling Gabrielle out of one scrape or another and frankly I'm a little worn out. Secondly, who ever said that I planned to stop you?"

Alti was not buying it for a minute. "Don't try the games with me Xena. You know as well as I do that your one thought is for that pathetic little bag of bones over there. But you are too late any way so I guess it doesn't matter,she'll be dead soon anyway." She waited for the response from the
warrior, she wanted to see what was going to happen when Xena heard from her own lips that her lover was in fact close to death."

"You know of course that killing her would be a mistake."

"So now your true feelings are going to come to the surface. Just for fun, suppose you tell me why killing her and making you suffer would be such a huge mistake."

Xena had to get a grip on her feelings and she knew it or she was going to cost her and Gabrielle their lives. She also knew that she had to move quickly. "I already told you that what happens to Gabrielle is no longer a concern to me. However think about how she is. If you kill her you will
incur the wrath of the entire Amazon Nation. I know when you are at you full strength this would not be a problem for you. But do you really want to risk an all out battle with the Amazons before you have emassed your Army?"

Alti hated to admit it but she had not considered this. She had not seen much past the point in her plan of destroying the Warrior Princess and then putting her legion of death together. "If what you say is true Xena what am I going to do about it?"

"Let me help you, whether you know it or not appearing as Lao Ma was a brilliant idea as it got me rethinking a few things. There was a lot of truth in the things you have told Gabrielle. There is a darkness in me that needs to come out, I have tried to control it and be the good little warrior
but you were right all those years ago. My destiny is to rule the world with you. I tried to deny it but I can no longer fight it. I guess hearing the words again and thinking that they had come from Loa Ma...Even for a little while helped to open my eyes."

The doubt was clear in Alti's voice. "You expect me to believe that even after everything you have seen in India you have had a complete change of heart? You know you are meant to be reborn as some type of saint .... Why would I even be that stupid?"

"Life as a saint would be boring at best. Let me prove it to you then. Let me take Gabrielle out of here and kill her myself.... The Amazons will blame me for her death I'll take care of them and you will be free to emass the army we need."

"We? When did I make you a partner? Besides even if you were being straight with me it's to late. If she isn't dead already she will be soon. She went a little crazy I think when I appeared as you and made her belive that you never really cared about her and that you thought it would be best if she just ended it. A pity really, if I had known that you felt this way I could have waited and let you do it yourself. It would have saved me the trouble. What I gave her was a very fast acting poison I'm sure she is gone by now........"

The rage welled up in Xena, she could no longer carry on with this charade. If Gabrielle were really dead then her life would no longer hold meaning for her. In blind fury she lunged at Alti "You BITCH! You are going to pay!"

"The truth comes out now, doesn't it Xena? You should have known that you could never hide your true feelings from me." An evil laugh escaped Alti. "Shall I let you into the cell so you can kiss the cold dead lips of your lover one last time?"

Xena could feel herself being lost to the darkness, she felt her control slipping away and the worst part of it is she was powerless to stop it. "Go ahead Xena, unleash all the anger and pain you feel. Why hold it in? Your little bard isn't here anymore to make you feel guilty about it is she?"

Xena felt the hatred, she tightened the hold she had on Alti's throat. She wanted to choke the very life out of this woman. She wanted her dead once and for all. A glimmer of sanity broke in when she realized that Alti was not fighting her at all. Her mind cleared and she threw the woman to the
floor. "Get out!"

"Your not going to fight me Xena, you have gone soft."

"I'm not going to give you what you want." It had all become clear to her in a flash Her anger and rage. It had all been a part of Alti's plan. She needed the fuel of Xena's rage to accomplish her goals. "I won't dishonor Gabrielle by giving in to you."

It was Alti's turn to howl in rage, she had been so close to making Xena fall into her trap killing the bard should have destroyed her with grief. There should have been nothing left but anger pain and rage. Rage that Alti could have used to fuel her powers. She needed to do something to get Xena
to give in to the darkness something thatwould pull her in so deep she would never be able to fight against it.

While these thoughts were going through her head a bright light appeared to them both. A vision of Lao Ma appeared. She was visible but she had the appearance of not really being there on a physical plane. She reached a ghostly hand out to touch Xena's cheek. The touch was cool and bought the warrior a sense of peace. "Xena, it has been a long time. You have learned

"Lao Gabrielle is...."

"Dead? Love never dies Xena, not as long as you hold true to what you know. Remember everything that I taught you Xena and use it well. Don't let lies blind you to what you know to be true." With those words the vision of Lao Ma faded. As the spector faded away so to did Xena's anger. She turned from Alti and went towards the cell where Gabrielle was lying. Using her chakram she broke the lock and reached to open the door.

"Xena have you forgotten something?" Alti's voice rasped behind her

"No Alti, I haven't forgotten a thing. As a matter of fact I have remembered something. You only have as much power over me as I allow you to have, I won't give that to you anymore." She turned to see Alti ready to strike her with a bolt of energy, like the ones she had used in India. Reacting on
reflex alone Xena sent her Chakram sailingtowards her enemy. The blast Alti had sent out was reflected back to her from the chakram sending her back against the wall. Her body slid down the
wall to land with a sickening thud on the floor. "I finally know what Zeus meant about me being the only one that could stop you. You needed me to give into my old ways, to become the old blood thirsty warlord consumed with a lust for power that I used to be. I will not give you the power you need, your finished."

Xena turned and walked back towards the cell to take the body of her love from this place of darkness. She had no more concern for Alti, it was clear that there was no life left in her body. Her only thoughts now on the grief she was feeling at the loss of her love. She reached down to tenderly pick the bard up in her arms, all she wanted now was to get Gabrielle away from here. A tear slid down her cheek as she held the smaller woman's body to her. She whispered to the lifeless form in her arms. "You deserved far better than I could ever give you my love, I am so

The darkness of the cell was suddenly filled with a bright light. "You have nothing to be sorry for Xena."

"Zeus! Haven't you done enough? I fought your battle for you, Alti's dead but so is Gabrielle...."

A smile smile touched the King Of The Gods lips as he looked at the scene before him. It was hard to believe that the mighty Warrior Princess could have been so willingly enslaved by the goodness of this little bard. "Xena, this was in a very real sense a battle for Gabrielle's soul more than
anything. Alti felt if she could destroy Gabrielle she could destroy your resolve and turn you into what she needed. At first she did want you dead, but she began to realize that she needed you alive more. But that didn't mean she couldn't achieve her ends and make you suffer at the same time.
Gabrielle was willing to sacrifice all for you....What would you sacrifice to get her back?"

"Don't play games with me...she's gone....There is nothing I can do. If there was I would do it."

"But there is something. You see she is not really dead, I intervened as it were. Gabrielle is a good soul and deserving of the best there is. If you can promise me that you will do whatever it takes to give her that I will restore her life."

Xena's heart alternated between joy and despair. "I have caused her so much pain already, a know she should have...."

"Why don't we let Gabrielle make the choice?"

He placed his hand over the bard's closed eyes. When he removed his hand green eyes were looking up into the teary blue eyes of the warrior that held her. "Xena? What happened?" She looked over from her position in the warriors arms to see Zeus standing before them. "Zeus?"

A benevolent smile touched is lips "Yes Gabrielle it is me." He moved closer to the two women, A light touch from his hand and all the visible signs of Gabrielle's ordeal vanished. She looked to the casual observer like this was just another day and she had not spent the last few days in the grips of a mad woman. "It would seem you have a decision to make my dear."

She looked back to Xena who was still holding her in her arms. "What is he talking about Xena? What is going on here?"

Letting Gabrielle down so that she could stand beside her, Xena supported her with one arm. "Do you remember anything that has happened in the past few days Gabrielle? Anything at all?"

Gabrielle slowly shook her head as if to clear it. "Only bits and pieces really. Nothing clear though. I remember something about Loa Ma and going with her to try and help you. Then it was almost like... I was reliving things from the past." Suddenly an expression of hurt crossed her face. "You
came to me Xena... You told me to end it...That you never loved me...."

Xena pulled the weeping woman into her arms. "No Gabrielle, it wasn't me. It was Alti, she wanted you to believe those things. But I swear to you Gabrielle it is not true." She could not see the bard's face but she did feel her relax against her.

"Why?" was all the bard had managed to say.

"She wanted to get to me. To drive me back to the darkness so she could use that power for her own ends. She knew that you were the best way to get to me. It almost worked, when I saw you...." Tears began to choke of her own voice.

"But what is this decision Zeus is talking about?"

The King Of The Gods had stayed out of the conversation up until this point, trying to let Xena explain things. But he knew this had to come from him. "The decision you have to make Gabrielle involves Xena and whether or not you think staying with her is the best thing for you. She hasn't meant to but but xena has put you in great danger, more than once. You were dead, from the potion Alti gave you, or would have been had I not stepped in. Xena said she would do anything to have your life restored to you...Even leave you if that was what you wanted. So you have to make a choice. I will return your life to you if you leave Xena then you will live in peace. If you stay with her then I can not control what happens. You must understand the possible dangers if you stay....."

Gabrielle held her hand up to signify that she did not need to hear anymore. "You say I have a choice to make, but there really is no choice. My life is with Xena, she has not placed me in any danger at all. You see for that to be true it would have to be said that Xena has forced me to stay with her against my will. And nothing could be further from the truth. I made my choice long ago when I followed her from Potidiea."

Xena felt the heavyness that had been weighing on her heart lift with each word the bard spoke. Gabrielle wanted to be with her no matter the possible outcome. "So be it then" Zeus waved a hand and transported them out of the cave back to the clearing they had been camping in when this whole night mare had started.

They clung to each other as much to comfort themselves as the other. Xena's eyes shone with emotion as she looked down at the smaller woman she held. "Thank you" She whispered.

"For what?"

"For making me feel more love than I ever have before."

"No need to thank me for that. Oh and Xena just so you know, the feeling is very mutual."


The End

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