Time As Long
Disclaimer: Yep, I own 'em! They're mine! Mine I tell you! MINE! Wait...what?
I'm not Rob Tapert? Oh, heh...sorry, my mistake. Okay, nope don't own them, RenPics,
MCA-Universal, and the rest of TPTB do. I'm just playin' with 'em and I bet I
treat 'em better than they do! No copyright infringement is intended, and I'd
really appreciate it if you didn't sue me, I'm broke already.
Subtext Disclaimer: It's subtext-y, I guess it could be maintext-y depending
on where you draw your line, but it's not really beyond what we've seen on the
more subtext-heavy episodes. There is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING graphic in this story;
they don't even kiss, so it's safe for everyone. Still, if you don't like the
idea of Gabrielle and Xena loving each other (in one form or another), go 'way,
this isn't for you.
Violence Disclaimer: Uh, a bit, but it's nothing more than you see on an
average episode. In fact, it's probably less.
Hurt/Comfort Disclaimer: Kinda-sorta, of a variety. I'm not really sure
what category this fits into, but I guess that's the closest. So if you only want
stories where everyone's all happy, this story isn't for you either.
Further Author's Note: 1) This story has LOTS of angst, in fact, it's a
veritable angst-fest. It has a resolution, I swear, but there's plenty of angst
a long the way. You have been warned. Now go read it anyway, you'll like it.
2) If you don't like, that's 'cause I can't write and you should drop me a line
and tell me so. Maybe I'll get better that way. Hey, it could happen!
3) If you do, for some reason, like it, drop me a line and tell me so. It'll make
me happy and inspire me to write more, and then you'll get to read more stuff
that comes from my strange imagination. Won't that be fun? Email me at Lungodrom@aol.com
4) Flames will be used to heat my cauldron as I curse you...you've been warned.
If you wake up in a coma, that's not my fault. <G> And if the idea of woman
loving each other, even in this very mild way, bothers you I don't need
to know. I have enough neuroses of my own; I don't need to know about yours. (Unless
of course you'd like to pay me $200 an hour, in which case, I'm all ears.)
5) Okay, I wrote this because the idea came to me and I really needed to write
something that I could finish. I'm working on another story called Hades' Daughter
and it's turning into just a really long process and right now I'm having a whole
writers block moment. I thought maybe seeing a completed something would help...now
I guess we'll see.
6) It didn't. In fact, I finished this story MONTHS ago, and then it sat on my
hard drive and never got posted, and I've hardly done a thing with the other one.
I've dug this one out, and am going to post it now. Just so everyone
knows, this is my own timeline. I don't know where it fits in the Xenaverse, exactly;
somewhere in the third season I guess, but I've taken liberties with that too.
The events of season 4 and beyond didn't happen (if only), and FiN CERTAINLY didn't
happen. Just go with it. My world is better than theirs anyway!
7) If you've made it through all that, the story comes next. Promise! (Further
author's notes at the end.)
"I know I will see a light when the dawn finally comes.
The cool white light of the moon shining forever in a starry universe that goes
on forever, or the warm light of the sun, burning brilliantly in a sky all its
own, a sky that lasts only a day.
I know I will either live or die.
I wish I could say which it will be."
I've never understood why it happened. I've thought it about until I thought I'd
go crazy from the trying; and I've not thought about it until I thought I would
lose my mind. Still, the answer hasn't come. I don't think it ever will. It's
been...what, a year now? Maybe more ... Time, well, time doesn't mean what it
used to mean, not for me anyway. Somehow, time stopped that day. Oh, I know the
world keeps going forward, the seasons change, people age, fields are harvested,
and crops are planted. I see that, I watch life go on all around me, but I know
that I'm not part of it. Not anymore. Time. I didn't understand it before. I mean,
I knew the basics, but what I didn't comprehend, what wasn't real to me until
that day, was what happened when time ran out. It does, you know. I used to think
that was just an expression that people used. One of those things said to warn
people not to be foolish or waste their lives. It isn't. Time really does just
'run out.' No, not the way people usually mean it; it has nothing to do with death.
Time doesn't run out for the dead. Time runs out for the person left behind. For
the dead, time has ceased to have meaning; they're in a place where time, where
existence itself is different for them "time" just doesn't matter
anymore. It's the person still here, the one with all the things left unsaid and
undone. The one who never kept all the promises they always meant to make, that's
the person whose time has run out. I didn't know that then, but now, it's my one
There's been no time for me, for a long while now: no time to forget, no time
to move on, no time for anything but remembering. For that I have all the time
in the world, and still it's not enough; and still, it's far, far too much.
The day was no different than the one that came before, and no different, I was
sure, than the one that would follow. We rose early, as we always did, just after
dawn. Breakfast, and packing up, and then on the road again. This day we were
going to Athens, to watch a competition at the Academy. It seemed like a good
idea: a chance to relax, stay at an inn, and do nothing but enjoy ourselves. No
problems to solve, no villages to save, no despots to foil. Just some quiet time
in which to be just two people like any other two people. Well, maybe not quite
like any other two people, but sometimes it was nice to pretend. And so,
we were headed for Athens.
We should have been there by nightfall. We'd been traveling toward the city for
a good while now, having set off in plenty of time. We knew, after all, that we'd
get held up at least once along the way, probably twice, and had planned accordingly.
It was a good thing too, because we had been delayed: three times, to be
exact. Two villages to save from marauding warlords, and one family whose wagon
with the children in it had to be retrieved from a raging river.
The usual. So, there we were, a day outside of Athens and two days before the
competition. No problem, plenty of time, we could probably even still get that
room in the inn.
The day was gorgeous. Absolutely stunning, actually. Good weather wasn't that
rare, but that day it was really making a show of being even better than usual;
as if it had something to prove, or...something to hide. Nothing about that morning
suggested anything of the events to come. I know, I was watching carefully. There
was nothing, nothing until we got to the village where we planned to have lunch.
I didn't know the name of the place then, and I still don't. It was just some
small fishing village on the coast, entirely unremarkable. Except for those fabulous
fishcakes made by that special chef, and so we were stopping there for lunch.
I don't know how many times I've wondered since then what would have happened
if we'd simply by-passed the village.
We were sitting in the tavern, which happened to be as unremarkable as the town,
and watching the patrons who were equally unprepossessing. Our guard was down,
maybe more than it should have been I've wondered about that too
as we sat waiting for those fishcakes and the ale we'd ordered. People had been
traveling through there in droves for the past several weeks: great for business,
not so great for the tension unaccustomed encounters with foreigners bring. That
many travelers always makes local people nervous. Still the people seemed pleasant
enough under the circumstances, certainly unassuming and more concerned with the
latest catch than the latest visitor. No one even glanced our way as we settled
into our corner table. That should have been our first warning; that it wasn't,
was our second mistake.
The fishcakes *were* fabulous, and I understood why people talked about them as
if they were from Olympus itself. And the ale hadn't been half-bad either. We
were just getting ready to go when the first sign of something unusual caught
my attention. It wasn't anything especially noteworthy, but maybe that was why
I noticed it. In any case, I saw it. On the wall of the tavern, just to my left:
Ares' symbol had been newly burned into the wood. I think it was the freshness
of the brand that caught my attention more than anything. Walls of taverns, as
well as floors, tables, chairs, bars pretty much you name it are
often marked with carvings and brandings and whittlings of all kinds. People get
drunk, or get bored, or get stupid and decide that marking up the establishment
is a damn good way to pass the time. Tavern keepers generally don't care, because
it pays better not to. Seeing the mark on the wall shouldn't have mattered really;
it did though, and I paused to study this recent addition to tavern's decorations.
Maybe that was the third mistake. I had leaned close to the mark, my finger tracing
its rough outline, my mind puzzling over what about it had captured my attention,
when began what would turn into the most horrifying chain of events in my life.
It was a tiny thing really, and I had no way of knowing its import at that moment.
A couple of men at the bar had got themselves into an argument over which of them
was the better fisherman, and, as was the way in small villages, the tavern occupants
instantly took sides. No big deal, they'd get over it quickly for better
or worse, people fight over petty insults all the time. Not surprisingly, it escalated
quickly, and soon an all-out barroom brawl was on. We'd decided to leave quietly,
not really caring who was the better fisherman, and figuring this wasn't really
our concern. We never hesitated to defend those in need, but we certainly couldn't
stop every roadhouse dustup in Greece; besides, we had somewhere to be. We had
just made it through the fray, amazingly unscathed, and were about to step out
into the sunny afternoon, when it happened. We should have kept going. That was
our fourth and biggest mistake. Gods, how I wish we had just kept going. If I
could do one thing, ANYTHING, to go back to that moment and just keep walking,
I would do it. But I can't, and we didn't, and so things are...well, how they
It was the sound of a woman's shriek that stopped us. We turned back to the tussle
going on in the tavern, our eyes scanning the interior. Chairs and tables had
been broken and upturned and lay scattered about the room. The floor was covered
in spilt ale, and mead, and wine; the place was filled with the smell of it. Men,
and a few women, were fighting it out: pushing and shoving, throwing punches,
kicks, the occasional plate or mug, and more than a few insults. One man even
picked up a chair and tried to crack it over the back of another man. Unfortunately,
for the attacker, he slipped in the ever growing puddle of liquor on the floor
and managed to drop the chair on his own head and knock himself unconscious. It
would have been funny, if at that moment I hadn't watched my partner launch herself
over the heads of two scuffling, burly men. She landed with her feet on the chest
of one particularly large man who had his beefy hands wrapped around the woman
whose yell had caught our attention. The man let go of the struggling woman the
moment my companion landed on him, and stumbled backward. I don't think he would
have fallen if he hadn't slipped on the wet floor and tripped over the leg of
the upturned table lying just behind his right knee. But, he did fall, and with
a resounding crash he came down on top of a chair that had been over-turned mere
moments before. If you had asked me five minutes previously, if what happened
in that next moment was possible, I would have laughed at you, before asking if
someone had possibly dropped you on your head as a child.
The humor is gone for me now. I will never, ever know how or why what happened
next happened. A joke of some God gone horribly wrong, a cruel twist of the Fates,
some strange alignment of the energies in the universe? I have no idea, all I
know is that it happened and now my life is irrevocably changed.
The crash as the man fell, managed, in some inexplicable way, to freeze the whole
tavern and rivet every pair of eyes on the scene. As my partner stood there, frozen
as the rest of us, we all watched in awe as the giant of a man fell onto that
upturned chair that should have splintered into a million pieces under
his weight. It should have, but it didn't. In that moment time stopped; permanently,
it would seem. Not only did the chair not break, but, beyond all sense and reason,
that huge behemoth of a man was impaled on one of its upturned legs. For all eyes
to see, it entered his back and stopped halfway through his bulk, eliciting the
faintest gurgling noise, easily heard in the now dead silence of the room. It
sounded like the echo of a tortured scream. Blood gushed from his mouth, and his
eyes were frozen open in shock as if he hadn't expected to die in that
moment. Just as my partner hadn't expected to kill him, the people hadn't expected
her to attack, and I hadn't expected that quiet lunch in the tavern, with the
best fishcakes in all of Greece, to end in such a terrifying tableau.
I know I was watching the scene before me, I know I was watching my partner as
she watched the life drain from the stranger's face, but I swear to you: I do
not know what happened in the next instant. I blinked, I think, or maybe just...breathed,
I'm not sure. But my partner was lying on the floor, her blood flowing to mix
with the wine, and the ale, and the mead, and the blood of the unknown man she'd
tried to stop from accosting the young woman. The young woman who was now holding
a bloody knife in her bloody hands and staring at my partner, whose blood it all
was. The young woman who was the wife of the dead man; who had shrieked because
another brawler had tripped her; who had been caught in her husband's arms (how
could we have known?). The young woman who had killed my friend and partner in
a moment of fear or was it anger, or desperation? I would never know.
I moved, I must have moved, although I don't remember doing it, because I was
kneeling in the grotesquely colored puddle that reeked of alcohol and blood, and
holding my partner's body in my lap. She looked up at me, and blinked so slowly
that for a moment I was certain her eyes were closing in death, before they opened
again and focused on mine. So clear and bright and cognizant were they, that it
felt almost easy, in that moment, to believe that she was going to be fine. I
couldn't believe it though. I've seen death too many times, watched peoples' final
moments, held their hand and comforted their minds as they breathed their last.
I've listened to their parting words, as I was about to listen to hers. There
is something about that moment, right before a soul leaves its body and goes on
to the next world, when clarity descends upon the dying with a kind of burning
vitality that seems in such contradiction to their true state. *That* is the moment
to fear most, because that is the moment when you know, beyond a shadow of a doubt,
that the person is leaving you; and nothing you can do will get them back.
I watched her eyes burn brightly up at me, and couldn't stop the choked sob that
escaped my throat, nor stem the tears that leaked from my own eyes to fall and
mix with the macabre cocktail soaking the floor and staining our skin. She reached
her blood-coated hand up to touch my cheek and brush the tears away, gentling
the pain of a soul losing its mate. She smiled ruefully at the site of the crimson
trail she left on my skin, and opened her lips to speak. She was having trouble
breathing, her voice so low it was barely a whisper and I had to lean forward
to hear it.
"I'm sorry," she breathed against my cheek. "I think I have to
go now. From this world." She had to stop to cough, and I shook my head in
denial even though I knew it was truth that she spoke, and nothing I nor anyone
else (except the Gods or the Fates, perhaps) did would change it, could change
"No. No, you have to stay. I need you here, the world needs you here,
I said, grasping her hand in my own and holding it against the side of my face.
She smiled at me then, in the way that only those who've accepted their fate can
"I'll be here with you always, you know that. Nothing can separate us, not
even death. You must remember that. I have to go for awhile now, but I'll be back."
"NO!" I denied. I wouldn't accept it, I couldn't. She wasn't meant to
leave now, she wasn't. I knew that, I knew it as surely as I knew that the sun
would rise in the morning.
"I have to go now, Xena. But come find me again, I'll be waiting. Remember
I love you, and Xena?" She looked at me, and there was something unnamable
in her eyes that arrested my attention, staying, for that brief second, the breaking
of my heart and the shattering of my soul. I looked at her, my raised brow asking
the question I couldn't find the voice or the words to ask. "Remember that
you love me, remember our love and remember where we found it. I'll be there,
you just have to look."
"I'll remember." My voice was nothing more than a whisper and it was
I who felt life slipping away from me as her eyes closed, and the final breath
escaped her lips. I sat there for a long time, just staring at her lifeless body
and wondering what I was supposed to do now. The rest of the tavern appeared as
frozen as I; no one moved, not even to breathe, it seemed. They all looked as
lifeless as my partner, and as the man beside her whose life had ended so suddenly.
I don't know how long I sat there, how long the room remained frozen, but at some
point later an impossible breeze stirred the air around me and I heard her.
"Remember Xena, and come find me."
My head shot up and I looked around, certain that she would be there; smiling
at me and telling me it had all been a terrible dream. But she wasn't there and
the body in my arms remained still and lifeless. Blinking the last tears from
my eyes, I rose with my friend in my arms, and left that unremarkable tavern full
of equally unremarkable people in a village whose name I would never know. I can't
tell you where I went when I left, because I don't remember. I can't tell you
what I did, or whom I met, or what I said, or even if I cried; I don't remember
any of that either. The only thing I do remember is a feeling of such complete
emptiness that I was sure that I was as dead as the woman who was the other half
of my soul, and the better part of my heart.
I have often wondered in the months since that fateful day whether time ever started
up again for the people in that tavern or if it was as frozen for them as it was
for me. I've thought of going back there to find out, but somehow I know I can't
go back there until I've found her again. And I will find her again. It
took me months of doing I still don't know what, to realize what she meant. I
didn't actually realize it. I'm sorry to say that my brain, usually so quick,
never did grasp the meaning of those final words spoken that day, in a tavern
filled with blood and liquor and anger and death and love. I honestly don't know
if I ever would have. Lucky for me, my partner had a friend who was determined
to bring us back together, and to make me remember what I'd forgotten. Even if
she had to hit me over the head to do it; which was a good thing, because that
was exactly what it took. I don't know if a Goddess has ever hit you on the head,
but it certainly is an eye-opening experience well, at least for the moment
before you lose consciousness. When I came to, Artemis was standing next to me
with a hand on her hip, a look of bemused annoyance on her face and a foot tapping
the ground impatiently beside my head.
I blinked at her a couple of times, wondering what she was doing there. I've had
my run-ins with plenty of the Gods and Goddesses of Olympus in my time - Ares
most often, unfortunately - but I had never met Artemis before. I wasn't really
impressed. Why should I be? The Gods, for the most part, were good for nothing
but causing trouble, and I really wasn't looking for trouble. A nice hole to crawl
in and die maybe, or a big man with an even bigger sword to end everything, but
I wasn't looking for trouble, or Gods, or Goddesses; and I certainly wasn't looking
for my partner. Apparently, that was the problem.
Don't get me wrong. I missed my partner, missed her terribly thought about
her every moment of every day, in fact. Every time I closed my eyes I saw her
face, saw the moment when she left this world; left me. And every time I opened
my eyes I saw a thousand a million things that reminded me of her.
Nowhere I went could I escape the torment of my memories, and I wasn't even sure
I wanted to, really. I wanted something, but somewhere along the line, I forgot
how to go about getting it. Forgot how to listen and know. Forgot how to live.
Artemis stared at me for a few minutes, then reached down, grabbed the front of
my leathers and armor and hauled me to my feet. She looked me up and down, poked
me a few times, waved her hands in front my face, and tapped on my head. Frowning,
she stepped back and crossed her arms in front of her chest and shook her head,
still staring at me.
"Well, you certainly seem fine. A little thinner maybe probably
haven't been eating but...you don't look crazy or anything. You're not
crazy are you?" She finally asked, inclining her head as if appraising me
from a different angle would root out the answer. I don't know whether it was
the absurdity of the experience, the ridiculousness of the question, or the fact
that this was a Goddess standing before me talking to me as though we were just
any two people, but I answered her.
"No, I'm not crazy. What in Hades do you want?"
"Well, I don't get it!" She said after another long moment of staring
at me. Throwing her hands up in the air, she spoke to what looked to be the clouds
in the sky, or maybe it was the bird flying over our heads I certainly
had no idea. "I don't suppose you could explain this to me? I thought you
told her what to do? Why hasn't she done it?"
I started to wonder if maybe Artemis hadn't flipped her gourd. She was certainly
acting like it. Never one to shy away from confronting a God or anyone
else for that matter I asked her: "Are you sure *you're* not crazy?"
She laughed. She really laughed, guffawed actually. I've seen Gods snicker,
and cackle, and laugh in that menacing, threatening kind of way, or even giggle
condescendingly; but I'd never seen one ACTUALLY laugh from genuine amusement.
Until that moment. When she finally managed to get herself under control she glanced
back up at the sky for a moment and, it seemed to me, smiled at nothing.
"Well you were right about that," she said to the
air? This did
little to convince me of her sanity, I can assure you. But, then she turned her
attention back to me and her smile was gentle and her voice remarkably soft. "No,
I'm not crazy. I'm here because, in your mourning, you seem to have forgotten
something very important."
The mention of mourning threw me back into the funk I'd briefly escaped while
watching the Moon Goddess' escapades, and I could feel myself deflate in that
very instant. Apparently, Artemis noticed too, because she stepped forward and
tapped me on the arm. I looked at her, and she must have seen the sorrow in my
eyes because she clucked sympathetically. The humor of a Goddess clucking in sympathy
eluded me at the time, and I just stared blankly at her.
"You miss her, don't you?"
That fired my ire, if only for a moment, and my eyes snapped with fury. "Of
course I miss her," I hissed. "She was my everything. She was my everything..."
My voice trailed off, and the anger that had filled me for that brief instant
slipped away again to be replaced by the same soul-consuming sorrow I'd lived
with since the day in the tavern.
I had taken my partner to Amphipolis and buried her beside my brother. She'd told
me that was what she wanted: to lie with my family, with me. I wouldn't deny her
that, I wouldn't forget that request I couldn't. I will never know how
I got from that small village outside of Athens to my childhood home, but I did.
I think my mother tried to comfort me, when I was there, but I don't really remember
that. What I remember, all I remember, is standing in the crypt and looking at
the graves of my brother and my heart and wondering when I would join them there.
I left after that, and went...somewhere. I just traveled: kept walking, kept riding,
kept moving, hoping that if I went long enough or far enough, I would finally
meet the end I sought. I wouldn't take my own life, wouldn't betray Gabrielle
that way, but I wouldn't fight too hard to keep someone else from doing the job.
Oddly, I didn't meet anyone who tried. I don't know why, but that hadn't seemed
strange to me, probably because I'd stopped thinking or feeling altogether by
then. For whatever reason, I was still alive the day Artemis came and conked me
over the head.
Artemis looked at me for a very long time. Then she touched my cheek with her
index finger, and her voice, when she spoke, was so ethereal I wasn't sure I was
really hearing it with my ears. "I think it's time you find her, don't you?"
I must have looked confused, because she smiled gently at me and blew out a breath.
The air circled my head and in it I heard her voice, the voice I was sure I would
never hear again: Gabrielle's voice.
"Remember Xena, and come find me."
I looked at Artemis, asking...what, exactly, I'm still not sure. She nodded once.
"Go find her, Xena, she's been waiting." And then she was gone and I
was alone on the cliff over-looking the sea, about a moon's journey from Potedaia.
Looking out and down, I realized suddenly what I'd really come there to do: the
thing I hadn't done for these long months, the thing I was sure I would never
do. But, all-consuming pain can change a person beyond recognition. Somewhere
along the line, it had changed me. For the first time in a long time, I truly
had something to thank the Gods for.
My voice was soft and sincere when I looked up and whispered my thanks to the
Goddess of the Hunt. "Thank you for not letting me end it." And then,
little more than a breath, "Thank you for saving us both."
Time stands still for those of us who are left behind. I don't know whether that's
so we have a chance to grieve or the chance to find answers we didn't even know
we were seeking. For some of us, I think, the halt of time gives us the opportunity
to realize that those who left us, left us timeless, haven't really left us at
all. All we have to do is find them.
Finding them, I realize, means different things to different people. Sometimes
it just means finding the meaning of their passing; sometimes it means finding
their legacy; sometimes it means finding yourself; and for the very, very lucky,
sometimes it means finding THEM, because they never really left.
Gabrielle isn't gone, although in a way, she really did leave. I know where to
find her though, and there's nothing that can stop me, now that I remember. It
will take another fortnight to reach Potedaia, or more precisely a tiny little
clearing just north of the village, where once, a very long time ago, I saved
a spirited young woman from a group of slavers. She's waiting for me there, as
she was the day we met, and as she will be until I come for her again.
Time 'runs out' for those of us who are left behind, but if we're lucky enough,
sometimes it comes back to give us another chance. It will take me two more weeks
to reach the other half of my soul, but that's okay. Time's moving on again, for
me. I wonder if it's moving on in that tavern.
Gabrielle and I will have to find out
"I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge.
That myth is more potent than history.
I believe that dreams are more powerful than facts.
That hope always triumphs over experience.
That laughter is the best cure for grief.
And I believe that love is stronger than death."
A Final Author's Note: I
had intended to leave the ending ambiguous, letting each reader take from it
what they would. Of course I have my own ideas about the outcome, and the characters
have theirs, I've no doubt. However, it now seems the characters are clamoring
for a sequel. I guess Gabrielle wants her say. J
So, one will be forth coming
probably. (If you really want one, I suggest
you write to me no, I'm not above blackmail and let me know. I
might continue the story anyway, but then again I might not
so why risk
it? <G>) I don't know how ambiguous the sequel will leave things, but
I guess we'll have to see. I promise if I write a sequel I'll put a warning
at the top if it offers complete resolution.
So, with that in mind
to be continued (?) in (tentatively titled) In
Stillness Waits the Hope of Love.
A Note of Thanks: I have to add this because I owe so very much to my
excellent beta readers and they deserve their due. To Inga who has read and
reread this story, despite the fact that she HATES being depressed by it. Who
has listened to me whine and complain about the writing of it, and has graciously
accepted my 101 excuses about just *why* it wasn't done yet. On top of all that,
she's given immeasurable advice about making this story into something worth
reading, and respectfully accepted when I disagreed with her about certain aspects.
She is, hands down, the best and most patient person, and I owe her a great
debt. THANK YOU! (And I promise, even if the sequel *doesn't* resolve it, I'll
write one especially for you, that does. J
To Eliza who is, absolutely, the best friend a girl could ask for. Not only
does she listen to my demented ramblings about all things Xena, she too has
read this story in its many incarnations and never once griped about reading
the exact same paragraph 50 times because I kept changing a few words or sentences.
I don't know what I'd do without her, but I do know I'd never finish
a story. Thanks darfin, you're a gem!
To Im, who offered some incredibly helpful and extremely constructive advice
and criticisms on this story in its baby stages. Her contribution to the production
of this piece is no small thing, and I'm incredibly grateful to her for taking
time out of her very busy schedule to help me. This story would not have been
what it is without her. Thank you so much for your help!
And last, but definitely not least, to my mom who has read and reread this story
to just about the point of insanity. Her own skills as a writer have been immensely
helpful, and if it weren't for her this story would be one big mess! Her edits,
and then edits of my edits, have saved this story from an early death when I
got fed up with trying to make this what I wanted (and what the characters demanded)
it be. Thanks to her, there actually *is* a story. Gracias madre! Gracias!
And one final note of explanation: At the end of the story it says Belum.
Belum means not quite yet, which is, I think how this story finishes.
Is it done? Belum. Not quite yet. An argument could be made, rightly I believe,
that no story is ever done because, even when the author stops writing, the
characters go on. Fan fiction is, in itself, proof of that
it's a continuation
of the stories and characters the writers for the shows have left unwritten.
So, in the spirit of the immortal nature of these characters and their story,
and this story in particular, I've chosen to end the story with an ellipse and
a Not Quite Yet.
I hope you enjoyed reading this story, I definitely enjoyed writing it.
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