Tripping Sideways on Soul's Edge  
by katharsis9

Disclaimer: The characters of Xena, Gabrielle, Hercules, and Iolaus belong to Renaissance Pictures and MCA/Universal Studios, blah blah blah. The story is mine, though.
Warnings: Rated R for raunchy dialogue, graphic violence, smoking funny flowers, some language, and "Sex! They're having sex!" If this sort of thing is like, illegal where you live, then stop and turn back. If you're under 18, what the heck are you doin' here? Buh-Bye! Scram! Scatter! If it is legal and you are of legal age, and this sort of stuff bothers you, then you have one of two choices: one, take some time to re-evaluate your sexuality, or two: GIT!!! If you've got a problem with the funny flowers, too bad. I'm not going to waste my time arguing over THAT issue, and besides, I was stone cold sober when I wrote this. Really. 
Spoiler Alert: This story takes place somewhere around the third season, after ONE AGAINST AN ARMY, before FORGIVEN. 
Notes: I came up with this idea after watching WHEN FATES COLLIDE for the billionth time. I just can't get over that uniform Xena was wearing. Kudos to whoever designed it, I bow before thee. And, as much as it pained me to watch FRIEND IN NEED, I also fell in love with Gabrielle's final costume. You know, the one where she's got this cool, kick-ass samurai get-up. Then, wicked thoughts began to swirl in my head. Wicked, indeed. What if they were, (in my sick, twisted mind, anyway) alt-versions? And met up with the classic versions of our grrls? (Yeah, the BGSB rears its ugly green head once more) And what if...Iolaus dreamed about it? After all, it was his eyes that saw the Conqueror. I got the idea for Soul's Edge from skimming around the web looking up gods that never made an appearance: Circe, one point I was looking up the Pre-Olympian gods. Yeah, yeah, the Titans, but I don't think they were all giants (I found the ep THE TITANS a little hard to swallow, enjoyed it, but...). That, and I'm a bit of a continuity freak, having read all those where was I? Oh, yeah. Anyway, keeping in line with the show (HA!), what if there was an epic battle a long time ago, and...whoops. There WAS an epic battle. Hmmm. Yeah. Oh! Okay. What ever happened to all the other gods? They couldn't ALL be dead, could they? And if so, what if there was some sort on realm where they were trapped (hey, not all of them were trapped in stone, ya know), and Soul's Edge was born. I'll be coming back to this wonderful place, so PAY ATTENTION I will be referring to this place is future stories.
Obligatory Updated notes: Hef on crutches, I've gotten so many e-mails on that dang movie: "Are they making a movie? Really?" "What movie?" "What's this little note among your disclaimers..." Okay, three e-mails. (No, four. With more to come after this, I suppose). Now so everyone's clear, here is how I cam across this little bit of information. A buddy of mine, with whom I chat with daily (who by the way is a budding bard himself and I'd wish he'd hurry up and finish his story so I can beta) told me last week that there was going to be a movie. I just happened to be editing my last story at the same time, and when he dropped that bomb...well you can figure out the rest. And how HE came across it, well, he said that he was on a TV Guide meet-the-celebrity type deals and that Lucy Lawless herself told him that there was going to be a movie. Boy, did I fall out of my chair (and onto my cat) when I heard that. "Luh-luh-luh-LUCY?!?" Then after I got The Pinch put on me several times, I decided to put it on my buddy, and he said, "They should start production in October if all goes well." And that's the story. And...if I hear more I will write it up. Hmmm, maybe I will design a Countdown clock after all...
Mythological Notes: The name Moira that appears in this story is that of the Goddess of Fate, said to be more powerful than all the other gods combined. I'll let you figure out who the Son of Night is...  
Please feel free to drop me a line at the e-mail address above. If you're nice I'll answer ya, but if ya flame me, feel the wrath of my adamantium claws. Anyway, now that we've lost the prudes, the kids and the confused, onward shall we go...

That's all there is
Nothing more than you can feel now
That's all there is

Depeche mode
"World in my eyes

        Maybe I shouldn't have smoked those herbs. Hercules had warned me that the stuff would give me whacked-out dreams, but did I listen? Noooooo. Typical.
        We'd run into Xena and Gabrielle just the other day. Herc and I were on our way to visit an old friend, and they offered to walk with us. Gabrielle, of course announced that they were now on a vacation, needing a break from all of the battles those two had been fighting for the greater good. Xena smiled at that remark and mumbled something about "maybe taking a rest". If you ask me, I think they needed it. They had just gotten back from trouncing the Persian Army, or at least Xena had, all by herself. (Gabrielle had been dying from a poisoned arrow, I was told later). It was good to see them again, anyway. I couldn't help but notice that the two of them were somewhat...closer, it seemed. They walked close together hand in hand, a brief touch here and there, a smile, eyes full of longing. No doubt, those two were in love. I chuckled to myself as I sidled to Herc's side and whispered, "You owe me."
        "What?" he said, puzzlement furrowing his brow.
        "Don't tell me you forgot about our bet."
        "And what bet was that, Iolaus?"
        "You know...that bet."
        He flushed red when he finally remembered what it was. "Ohhh, that." He turned to peer at the women behind us as if to check and flustered when he caught sight of Gabrielle nuzzling the warrior's neck. As if she felt they were being watched, Xena's cold blue gaze met his. He chuckled a bit and turned back to me. "Okay, okay. You got me bang to rights. Rabbit stew for a month, wasn't it?"
        I smacked his arm. "See? I told ya."
        "Yeah. Never mind the shock you gave me last year. First you run all the way to Cornith to tell me Xena died and back again, and just when I was about to accept it, you run all the way back the following week to tell me she's alive. Then you slap me with that bet..."
        "Which I won."
        "Oh, rub it in."
        I'm sure Xena had heard every word we said, with those animal-like senses of hers. Still, she didn't mention it when we finally made camp. Just smiled at me knowingly, making me blush. She went off hunting with Hercules while Gabrielle and I began preparations for dinner. I was just gathering some wood when she found these herbs growing in the wild. "Ooooh," I said. "Cannabis."
        "Want me to put them in the boiling water?" she asked with a wicked quirk of the eyebrow. "Might make the big guy loosen up a bit."
        "Ohhh, I dunno. You know Herc, clean living and all that. The man doesn't even get drunk."
        "Well, maybe he should, for once. I would like to see him kick back and enjoy himself."
        "I take it, you and Xena...ah...indulge in that sort of thing?"
        "When we get the chance. Not too much, though. If you have too much of it, motivation to do anything just flies off the cliff and keeps running. But after what's happened-" She paused to finger the scar on her right shoulder. "We really need to unwind."
        "Yeah? Now THIS I gotta see."
        "Really? Then what's this I hear about you and her sharing a hot tub once?"
        "Uhhh, well...."
        They came back with several rabbits. Joy, oh joy. I helped with the skinning, of course. Gabrielle waved those herbs around like they were some prize, "Looky what I found." I swear, Xena's eyes lit up. Hercules just shook his head, looking at us with the utmost disapproval. Spoil sport.
        By the gods, Gabrielle can cook rabbit. Sorry mom, but she's good. The meat was tender and juicy, seasoned with the myriad of spices that were stored in Argo's saddlebags. We all had hearty meal, feasting and laughing, trading jokes and stories.
        "Hey, I've got an idea to enjoy the cannabis." I said. I got out this hollowed out fruit I'd been carrying around from when we went to the land beyond Egypt. I got my knife, punched two holes on either side, then slid a bamboo rod in each of the holes. I stuck the round part of an acorn with the tip punched out onto one of the bamboo and filled the hollow fruit up with water. "Eureka!"
        "Guys, I can't believe you're gonna do this," Herc groaned.
        "Hey, your loss," countered Xena, who was busy cleaning out the dried flowers, picking out the seeds and stems. "Really, Hercules, you could really use some loosening up."
        Using a stick with a glowing end, me, Xena and Gabrielle passed the thing around. Well, you couldn't exactly call it a hookah, it had no multiple stems to speak of and barely resembled an urn, or something. I think Gabrielle came up with a name after all, when after a few passes she started rocking and humming to herself and blurted out, "Bong!" Xena broke into one of her rare smiles and leaned over to me, whispering about the time her bard had ingested some henbane. I took one hit and jumped when a seed popped in my face. "What the fuck?!?" I cast a glare at my raven-haired friend, who merely shrugged. "Whoops." I blew a cloud in her face, making her cough. Gabrielle started giggling and couldn't stop. Herc wrinkled his face up and tried to wave the smoke away, to no avail. The we all blew in his face at once. "Contact buzz!" I sang. The three of us were just laughing about anything and everything while Herc just sat there shaking his head and-
        What was that? Oh yeah. Get to the dream, if you could call it that...
        I passed out sometime, I don't even remember when, and the next thing I knew, I had woken up, with everybody at camp fallen fast asleep. Xena and Gabrielle were off by themselves, snuggling close to each other. The big guy just sat there on a log, snoozing. I still can't get over how he can do that. I got this stick I had in my pocket and walked over to him, intending to whack him with it.
        Imagine my surprise when the branch went right through his head, as if he wasn't there. Cautiously, I reached out a hand to my sleeping friend.
        I couldn't touch him. Or anything else for that matter. Everything I tried to pick up or touch slid through my hands. What's happened to me? Am I dead? Is there a god behind this? What is this illusion?
        I heard a howling wind and suddenly, I wasn't at the camp, but a clearing of sorts. It wasn't night, but day. The sky was bright with a deep blue with not a cloud in sight, but there was no sun. I still couldn't touch anything. There was something ominous about this place, as I realized I was in a dream realm of some sort. Soul's Edge a voice fluttered in my mind. Listen...
        I heard voices to my right, and I saw Xena on her horse with Gabrielle walking alongside. I called out to them hoping they knew more than I did about what this place was. They didn't hear me. I went right up to Argo, knowing from experience that sometimes animals can see things than humans can't. I looked into the horse's eyes and I thought for a moment she really did see me, but then, she trotted right through me. The sensation was a shock. It felt as if was being peeled apart and put back together again. So much for that idea. I watched them disappear into the woods, oblivious to the ghost that was me.
        Something told me to follow them, and I did, finding it easy to do so, as I merely passed through trees and other obstacles. Hey Xena, guess who's managed to shadow you without being seen...
        I saw a building up ahead on a mountain. It looked an awful lot like the one on Mount Olympus, where all of the gods live. Sorry, Heph. "Hey, I'll scout up ahead," I said to deaf ears. I ran towards the mountain and was surprised to find that I could walk on air, scaling just a hairbreadth's from the side of the giant hill. I looked down and saw the two of them stopping at the foot of the mountain. I guess they were making "a pause for the cause", if you catch my drift.
        The world swam around me once more and I found myself inside the palace. It was so dark inside that it took a while for my eyes to focus, but but I could finally see the room, I found it to be most magnificent. The walls were lined with tapestry and gold braids. The ceiling was so high, it seemed to reach the sky. The Dorian-style columns which rose tall and never seemed to end were made of the smoothest marble. I was so taken in by the sight, that I almost missed the sounds coming from the next room.
        Door, what's that? I passed through it as if it was smoke. By this time I was used to this little phase. And there I saw it. Or, them.
        There was Xena and Gabrielle in the bedchamber tangled in each other's arms. You know, melding of bodies, meeting of souls, beast with two backs, toss in the hay, root and crank, bump and grind, knocking the boots, the nasty, the horizontal cha-cha...
        Sex! They were having sex, all right? I really shouldn't be watching this, I mean these are two of my closest friends, right? But I couldn't help but watch. Man, but were they all over each other. I don't know how, but their bodies were twisted around each other in what seemed like impossible poses. Hey, I didn't know Gabby was double-jointed.
        Thank the gods they couldn't see me, I'd probably be dead, now.
        As I watched with fixed fascination, it occurred to me that there was something...different. Okay, quite a few things different. The one thing that stood out was Gabrielle's hair, or lack thereof. It had been cropped close to her head, making her look older. Xena looked the same as always, with wild blue eyes and jet-black hair.
        I looked over to the side and saw what looked like their clothes. There was one outfit, which I assumed was Xena's because it looked bigger, which consisted of a pair of black leather trousers and a the most wondrous vest I'd ever seen. The black vest was criss-crossed with leather strips adorned with seven gold discs, upon each were tiny reliefs of lions, horses, or designs of circles. When I looked closer, I noticed that the discs were arranged in such a way that it one were to connect them, together they would look like the ancient rendition of the Tree of Life. At the shoulders were tiny pleats with smaller, silver discs. And from the waist were larger pleats of similar designs. There was a belt with a gold buckle depicting a lion. If I didn't know better, I'd say it was an elaborate Roman battle dress. The sword beside it was huge. It looked like it was too heavy for even a man to handle. Its grip was bigger than my fist, adorned with the design of a charging lion.
        Didn't Xena mention something about meeting Caesar once?
        Gabrielle's clothes were much different. At first glance, it looked like a robe of some sort. I thought back to the time when I was thrown into an alternate timeline where Hercules was never born and Xena was The Conqueror, and had control over Chin. The design of the clothes reminded me of that land, but it was different. It was made of silk dyed a deep midnight blue. It might have felt like gossamer, if I were able to touch it. There was a long skirt made of, maybe wool. It was brown and could almost touch the ground. Where was the staff?
        Who were these people? I knew who they were, of course, but they were not the ones I knew. I got a sense of foreboding that maybe I'd skipped into another time-line like the one I was before where my best friend was a tyrant and Ares was the God of Love. Where in the name of Zeus was I?
        As if in answer to my question, I felt a hand on my shoulder. I tensed, thinking that maybe I'd been caught after all. Fear not, a voice whispered in my head, the same one I'd heard in the forest. You are in this place for a reason. I looked up to find a hooded figure standing over me. Xena and Gabrielle, oblivious to everything but each other, continued their carnal exploration, the grunts and groans getting louder by the minute.
        "Who are you?" I couldn't help but ask, marveling that I was being touched at long last.
        That is not important, young one. You are here to bear witness to an epic battle in this place. You, who have traveled beyond the realm of time have been chosen for this honor.
        "For what purpose?" I snapped back. Truth be told, I was getting angry, having been manipulated by the gods before.
        Here in this realm lies the meeting of souls, dark and light. One cannot exist without the other. These pair and the others must meet.
        "So, they are different versions of my friends," I said. "There's no question in my mind whom I'm rooting for. So tell me. What happens if they lose?'
        Did I see a smile under that hood? Nah. Like I could see the guy's face. Does it really matter? Let the battle begin... And with a wave of his hand, we were in the dark room I was in before with the very high ceiling. The Xena and Gabrielle that I knew burst in, obviously as confused at being there as was I. Again, I called out to them, even getting in their path, but I was intangible and silent to them once more.</script> Then I found myself in the dead centre of the room, transfixed, unable to move. A shaft of light just as wide as my body shined on me from overhead. All I could do was simply look around.
        Xena unsheathed her sword, sensing danger, the cold look of the warrior burning in her blue eyes. Gabrielle stood her ground, staff at the ready. I looked to the other side of the rooms and saw the other Xena and Gabrielle dressed in their strange garb emerge. Just to keep everything straight for you guys, I'll call them X and G.
        Straight. Ha!
        As I thought, all four were quite surprised to see themselves, and vice versa. They circled each other around my unseen form, sizing each other up. As I stood there, I noticed the hooded figure off to the side where X and G were and behind me was another hooded figure on the other side where my friends were. One moment frozen in time, and the seven of us formed The Tree of Life.
        This is the point where I start to get it now, right?
        With a pair of the most feral grins I have ever seen, X and G charged the invaders. G drew a sword I had missed earlier. It was thin and light, yet looked like it could slice a mountain in two.
        Xena's hand flew to her hip and half a heart beat later, the familiar whine of her chakram danced upwards. I looked up and saw sparks where the disc bounced off invisible walls. Still getting over the shock of seeing double, Xena nearly wavered as she raised her sword to parry G's downward swing. She swung left and right to avoid several killing blows. The usual look of fierce determination was gone from my friend's eyes. Still, she battled.
        Seeing her friend in trouble, Gabrielle rushed towards the dueling pair only to be blocked by X. The young bard's eyes grew wide as the larger woman's massive sword thrust towards her. I thought that staff of hers was gonna be chopped in two, but by some miracle, it wasn't. She managed to parry the blow, but it would be a matter of time before she would succumb before X's prowess. As I knew she would, she started talking with that silver tongue of hers.
        Xena, what are you doing?
        Are you talking to me? Replied the taller woman with a half-smirk and cocked eyebrow.
        It's me, Gabrielle. Your best friend? You wouldn't hurt me, would you? Then yelped when the giant sword got past her staff and cut her arm just above the elbow. Within moments, the arm was a river of blood.
        Who said anything about hurting you? A black leather boot shot out and connected soildly with Gabrielle's mid-section. The bard sprawled on the floor, swinging her staff with her good hand to parry the sword that was plunging towards her heart.
        Xena, stop this. Please.
        Why? When this is getting to be so much fun? She thrust her sword downward once more and it clanged loudly against the stone floor. Gabrielle had rolled away from the attack, thank the gods. Just then, X's head snapped up, listening. She cast a grin at Xena, still fighting G, as she casually raised her sword and deflected the chakram spinning towards her head. The formidable weapon clattered to the floor. Sneaky. I like that. Got any more tricks? Then she charged after Gabrielle once more.
        Xena's battle with her soul mate's double kept on. G was as good with a sword as she had been with a staff (if she ever wielded one). G was taking full advantage of her opponent's hesitancy. What are we fighting for? It's only me. What's the matter, dear, sweet Xena? The face was the same. The heart beneath it was not. Afraid of hurting me?
        Gabrielle, listen to me. This is not you. Amidst the flurry of metal against metal, Xena tried to reason with her.
        Is it? G smiled. Look more closely. I followed you. You took me into your life, your heart. You molded me into what I am. Aren't you pleased to see how I turned out?
        I don't want to fight you.
        Really? That's too bad. Then got close enough to slash a line of red down the length of Xena's thigh.
        Wincing in pain for only a moment, Xena backhanded G across the face, sending her spinning. Not anymore, I'm not. She looked down to find her leg red, rivers of blood pouring from the thin cut. The sword had cut deep, through the muscle. She'd be limping for a while. You little shit! She charged the prone form, with sword raised. As she neared, though, G's legs swung in a devastating sweep and Xena's face contorted with pain as her bad leg buckled from under her. She fell to one knee. G scrambled up and quickly jabbed two fingers into the shoulder joint of her sword arm. Xena's sword clattered uselessly to the floor, her arm paralyzed. She looked up in surprise as two more fingers jabbed, rendering her other arm limp.
        Oh, don't look so shocked. The voice of Gabrielle was as sweet as ever, but it belonged to a demon, now. After all, you taught me.
        In spite of the fact that they were all over the room; right, left, behind me, I could see everything from all angles at once. It was the shaft of light, I suppose. I tried to ponder which god it was that imposed this cruel trick on me. Who has done this and what have I done to deserve it? I looked upon the hooded figures on the opposite ends of the room. Gods in disguise, perhaps? Probably, since all they were doing was watching. "Are you enjoying this?!?" I roared at them.
        My screams fell on deaf ears. These monsters were killing my friends, and there was not a damn thing I could do about it. "For what purpose Am I doing here?!?" I screamed at no one, anyone. "You call this an honor to be here? To watch my friends die? You gods think that just because you created us you can torment us in any shape or form just so we could worship you?!? Well what if there was no one to worship you? Then what?!?" The hooded figures, remaining where they were, merely stood there, heads bowed. I turned away from them in disgust. Maybe if I couldn't do anything physically to help my friends, I could at least bear silent witness in order to later wreak vengeance, somehow.
        I couldn't watch yet I couldn't look away. I stood there helplessly as the great Xena was on her knees at the mercy of the devil which bore her love's face. I could feel the pain flicker in her sky blue eyes. Her arms hung limply at her sides, and her cut leg was covered in gore, ruined now. G dropped to her knees and caressed the stoic face before her with slender hands. I've always loved you, did you know that? she murmured. So strong, so beautiful, so lethal. She trailed a finger along a hard-set jaw. And to think I've always been the only one to do this to you. Her fingers curled around Xena's head and she leaned forward for a light kiss on the lips. My love, my heart...
        Gabrielle ran from X, her injured arm spurting tiny jets of red with every step. She darted behind a column just as the giant Roman sword sang through the air before burying its edge into with marble-
        Putting one foot against the column, X heaved the sword out with two hands. You can run, Gabrielle, but you can't hide! She peered into the darkness. Ga-bri-ellllllle! she sang. Come out, come out wherever you aaaaareee! She began to advance slowly into the blackness dragging the tip of her sword on the cold stone floor. Now, where could my little bard be? A flash of wood sped towards her and she easily caught the advancing staff with her free hand. Naughty, naughty. With a mighty heave, she yanked the staff to the side, with Gabrielle still holding on to it. My friend hit the ground with her weapon rolling out of reach. She scrambled after it and just as she had the staff within her reach, X drove her sword through her hand, pinning it to the floor.
        Gabrielle shrieked in pain as a fountain of gore sprayed from her impaled hand.
        X simply laughed and leaned forward, pressing her foot into the back of Gabrielle's neck. Does that hurt? She twisted her sword, eliciting more screams and sobs. Keeping her foot in place, she removed her sword from the twitching appendage and held it upright, gazing at it with that crazy look. Extending her tongue, she slowly licked the blood off the length of the blade, her eyes closed in rapture. My, aren't we tasty, my bard.
        Gabrielle could only whimper. Xena...please... she whispered, tears rolling down face.
        X released her foot just enough to roll her victim onto her back with a kick to the side for good measure. She pressed the tip of her sword into Gabrielle's throat. Is there something you want, my sweet? If there is, all you have to do is ask...
        Ask me nicely, G purred as she continued to stroke Xena'a face. Tell me your heart's desire.
        Even paralyzed and helpless, the warrior princess still clenched her jaw. Let Gabrielle go, she growled.
        G pouted. But I'm Gabrielle. Don't you find me the least bit alluring? Am I not your heart's desire? Do I not set your blood ablaze with passion? Hmmm, you must be thinking of someone else.
        I don't care what you do to me. Just let her go.
        G shrugged and stood. She asks, she shall receive. Oh, Xena! she called to X. Be a dear and release her friend, would you?
        But of course, X answered with a smile, and eviscerated Gabrielle with one stroke. Crimson-hued guts splashed everywhere.
        Eyes popping wide, Gabrielle sat up and tried to gather her bloody intestines back into her body, to no avail. She tried to speak, but a gush of blood poured out from her mouth. She cast a fearful glance at her fallen companion, her eyes pleading. her lips moved, perhaps to bring forth last endearments, regrets, and promises. Her eyes still open with shock, she slumped to the ground, motionless.
        GABRIELLE!!! Xena's howl reverberated throughout the hall. She shifted, as if she could pretend she didn't have one functioning limb left.
        G knelt before her again with an angelic smile. You called ? Here I am.
        Kill me, Xena groaned. Just fucking kill me and get it over with.
        Her tormentor cocked her head to the side. And I was just starting to have some fun. Very well. She held up two fingers on each hand. You taught me well, you know...and jabbed both pairs of fingers into Xena's neck.
        The warrior stiffened, feeling the effects of the technique she'd inflicted so many times on others. A drop of blood trickled from her nose as the pressure on her brain tightened. The seconds dragged by and I watched the light fade from her eyes. In the final moments, it seemed she saw me at last. Her gaze met my own, full of fear and pain. "I will avenge you," I told her. "I swear it on the heart of Moira."
        Her face twisted into a half-smirk. Not now, Iolaus. Don't you see her there? Gabrielle is waiting...for...m- She slumped forward, her eyes unseeing, the death rattle escaping from her lips.
        They were gone in a blink of an eye, the four of them. I still stood transfixed in the center of the room. I tried to process what I had just seen to no avail. What was next? Watching a version of myself torture and murder Hercules?
        I felt the hand on my shoulder again and I turned to find the hooded figure. It is done.
        "I hope you had your fun," I spat, throwing off the hand with a shrug. '"I've just watched two of my best friends die because of you. Got any more tricks?"
        Fear not, young one. What you have witnessed was a vision not of the past, the present, or the future. Your friends yet live.
        "Then why am I here?"
        To open the way, you who have crossed the tapestry of time. Thine eyes hath seen the Conqueror and the Rebel.
        My mind flashed to that horrible scene where Xena the Conqueror ordered the Rebel Gabrielle's execution on the cross and shuddered. I have never been able to tell anyone about that event during my trip in time, not even Hercules... "Open the way? To where?"
        We were back in the clearing of the forest where the sky was bright blue and the sun was nowhere. The other, silent apparition stood on the other side of me. I could move again. I peered into their hidden faces, trying to see if they were anyone I knew. At their touch, I could see forward, things that were to happen in the future. It was all a blur, and the impact of it all may me stagger.
        Know this, young one. Your vision is far-reaching. Moira has you in your favor, as well as yours.
        I looked at them with new understanding, still not able to comprehend all that I had seen. "My place in destiny..."
        Is to go forth in passion and meet thy doom.
        Soul's Edge began to fade away, bringing me back to where I was before, back to my friends. I still had questions to ask, what shall pass, what can I do? "But who are you?"
        I am the Son of Night, Brother of Death...

        "Hey, sleepy head! Wake and bake!"
        "Ya snooze, ya lose."
        "Guys, willya give it a rest? Bad enough you're hung over...Iolaus, wake up!"
        Was that who I thought I heard? I opened my eyes to find the towering form of Hercules hovering over me. "Hey, Herc." I yawned. A playful kick to my side made me turn my head to find Gabrielle over me as well. She was alive, after all. She squeaked in surprise as I stood and grabbed her in a massive bear hug.
        "Hey!" Xena yelled from behind. She advanced with a jealous look in her eye which turned to shock as I went to embrace her as well. "Uhh, Iolaus? I know we have a history and all, but..."
        "Just glad to see ya." I smiled. I let go just long enough to grab Gabby once more and hugged them both.
        Herc just stood there scratching his head. "Did I miss something?"
        "Just a nightmare." Oh, was I so happy to see my friends alive again.
        "Really?" Xena said as she untangled herself from my arms and yanked Gabrielle into hers. "I take it we were in it?"
        "Yes, and no. I went to this place after we fell asleep. It was a realm. not unlike the Netherworld, called Soul's Edge."
        "Soul's Edge?" An eyebrow quirked above blue eyes. "I've heard of that place. Hercules?"
        "Don't ask me." The big guy held up his hands. "I've heard of it too, but not much. It's not exactly a subject the gods on Olympus like to discuss."
        "Okay, you guys." I said as went over to the fire where breakfast was cooking. "Why don't I tell you about it over breakfast? Mmmm, whatcha got cooking, Gabrielle?"
        The bard smiled. "Oh, just some dumplings, some stew, the usual." She wrapped her arms around Xena's waist. "Just waiting for your sleepy head."
        "Yeah? What's this I hear about a wake and bake?" I started looking around for that hollowed out fruit, knowing damn well that somebody already had her hands on it somewhere.
        Xena rolled her eyes. "Now he remembers. Hef on crutches...uh, no offense, Herc."
        "None taken." Herc-clueless shook his head as he went to sit on a log. "You guys go on, smoke your funny flowers. Just please don't blow any in my direction. My head's still swimming from last night."
        "Don't knock it till ya tried it, big guy." I stuck my tongue out at him. "So ladies," I turned to the soulmates whom Moira had smiled upon. "What time is it?"
        "Four-twenty!" The double shouts rang out as poor Herc put his head in his hands...


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