Yours...Always and Forever
(Chris and Ashley are my own chars)
"Don't leave me...don't...NO!!!!!!"
Those were the last words Xena heard before she descended into Tartarus. She soon found herself
in the Elysian fields with of course the chance to be reincarnated.
Gabrielle woke up from a fitful sleep. It had been three days since Xena had died in her arms, tearing the two soulmates apart until they could meet again in Tartarus. She had cried her heart out for the last three days, and then fallen into a fitful and exhausted sleep each night. She had
finally realized though that there were things that had to be done. She had to go on with her life without Xena.
She left the room and headed down the stairs when she realized that she also hadn't eaten since Xena died. She was famished! As she reached the bottom of the stairs the innkeeper looked up. "Ah, there you are, I was wondering if today you would come to your senses," Chris said. "Are you hungry?" Gabrielle nodded. "Then go ahead and sit down. I'll bring some food over in a second." Gabrielle sat down and watched Chris as he got together a plate of food for her. She remembered him vaguely from when he had offered her a room there at the inn three days ago. He was a rather tall man with a light green tunic, and light brown leather pants on. He turned around
and she noticed he had bright blue eyes and dark brown hair. He set the food down, and sat down across the table from her. She immediately started to eat.
"So, what are you going to do now?" Chris innocently asked.
Gabrielle looked up. "I don't know. I could go and live with the Amazons, or I could go home and settle with someone there, or I could just keep traveling around, alone though this time."
"Well, I've got a forth option for you. I'm looking for someone to help me out here at the inn. I've taken a liking to you, and I really could use the help."
Gabrielle thought about this for a second. "Well, give me a little time to think about it."
"Of course, I figured you would need some time anyways. After all, you did just lose your best friend." Gabrielle almost said that she was more than just that, but held it back.
Gabrielle looked into his kind face, and almost instantly fell in love with it. "Actually, I don't think I need too long. I'll take you up on it."
Chris looked surprised. "Are you sure?"
"I'm positive," she said resolutely, smiling for the first time in three days.
Xena sat down on a rock, surprised at where she was. I didn't expect this at all, she thought.
All of a sudden, Hades popped up next to her, surprising Xena even more. "Well, I'm glad to see you here." He said smiling. "I have a surprise for you." Xena raised an eyebrow. "See, since you and Gabrielle have done so much for me, I'm going to do something for the two of you. I'm going
to give you the chance to reunite with Gabrielle."
"How?" Xena said skeptically. "Your not going to have her killed are you?!"
Hades chuckled, "not at all. Since you have the chance to be resurrected, I'm going to let you
her daughter, since she is already falling in love with someone. I'm also going to give you the option of keeping all the memories you have now, even though you would have to develop all over again."
Xena didn't have to think about it for a second. "I'd love the chance to be reunited and I don't mind having to develop all over again. I think I'll take you up on your offer."
Hades smiled. "I'm glad to hear that. I'll come find you when its time." He then disappeared.
Two months had passed and Gabrielle and Chris's romance had blossomed into one where they both loved each other deeply.
"I love you honey." Gabrielle said giving Chris a long, steady kiss.
I've got something for you," Chris quietly said, and handed her a long, skinny box.
Gabrielle opened the box and gasped. Inside was a blue stone heart on a gold chain. "Oh Chris! Its beautiful!"
"It's a necklace to show you how much I love you and how much I want you to be a part of the rest of my life forever."
Gabrielle felt a tear slip down her cheek, just as Chris put the necklace on her. "I love it and I'm very happy, but..."
"But...I wish Xena could have been here to see us so happy together."
"I'm so sorry. I know she meant a whole lot to you."
Gabrielle stood up on her toes and kissed him again, which lead them into a very personal show of affection.
Xena was enjoying a very peaceful existence, but she knew she missed the young bard that had been so much a part her life very badly, and was hoping that her time to be resurrected would come soon.
As if her thought had been heard, Hades suddenly appeared before her, grinning. "All right Xena, your hopes have been answered, its happened. Gabrielle's pregnant, and now is as good a time as any, to send you back to the mortal world."
Xena fought the urge to hug Hades, and instead grinned and nodded.
"I've been noticing how much you've been missing her, and I figured you would want to know right away."
Xena just nodded. "I thank you so much for the chance. I know it must be pretty unusual."
Hades nodded, "Well, its the least I can do for the two of you. Now, are you ready?" Xena nodded. "Good. Good luck."
Hades then clapped his hands and everything went black for Xena.
Five days had passed, and Gabrielle was feeling nauseous. She had already been to the local healer, who had told her that she was indeed pregnant. Now, to just let Chris know...
"Chris?" Gabrielle said hesitatingly.
Gabrielle took a deep breath. "I'm pregnant."
Chris's head shot up. "Gabrielle, that's wonderful."
Gabrielle smiled, "I'm glad you think so."
Chris came over and held her. "So, that's why you've been feeling so horrible, these last few days," he teased, grinning.
Gabrielle hit him in the arm playfully, then sighed. "Yeah, but there's going to be nine more months of it."
"I'm sure the healer can give you something for it," he said, then he bent his head to give her a kiss on her forehead.
"I just think its incredible though how fast everything has happened so quickly. It's like it was all godsent."
Chris thought about it for a second. "That's true, we did fall in love pretty quickly and you DID get pregnant on our first time."
"I wonder..." Gabrielle thought out loud, then her eyes got bigger. "No, it can't be!"
"Well, if you got to the Elysian Fields you have the choice of being resurrected..."
"You think it might be your friend Xena?" Chris asked, his eyebrows shooting up.
"Well, your right," someone said. Chris and Gabrielle spun around to find a dark figure standing there.
"Hades!" Gabrielle exclaimed.
"I wasn't going to tell you until she started to grow up, but since you figured it out on your own, you had the right to know. Just thin of this as a favor, since the two of you have helped me out quite a few times."
"But... she'll take years to become herself again, and by that time, I'll be a lot older!" Gabrielle said in anguish.
"That's true... tell you what, once she's born I'll bring her back to her old self. But, you'll still have to wait nine months. That seem fair?"
"Yes, very. Thank you Hades," Gabrielle said quietly. She was having trouble controlling her tears, and felt them roll down her face. "Just let me have her as a baby for a couple of days, ok?"
"Of course." Hades nodded to the two of them, then left.
Gabrielle turned to look at Chris whose mouth was hanging completely open. Gabrielle snickered, and then closed his mouth for him.
"You...you...you know Hades?!" he exclaimed.
"Yes, I've met him on a couple of occasions, and we've helped him out also a couple of times."
She looked at her stomach and patted it. "I guess we did enough for him that he felt we should be together. Nine months is not too long for me and I don't think it is for Xena either. I wonder if she can still hear my thoughts."
In the womb...
Xena found that she couldn't move or see anything at all, and couldn't breathe either, but she wasn't surprised. She could hear Gabrielle's thoughts and knew that she was completely surprised when she found out exactly where Xena was.
All of a sudden, Hades appeared before her, and let her know what she already knew, that Gabrielle knew about her. He surprised her though by saying that she would only be a baby for a few days, and then she would be back to her old self. She smiled inwardly, glad to be back with Gabrielle, even if both their lives were going to be changed forever...
As the nine months grew to a close and Gabrielle looked back on them, she realized that it had been a rather easy pregnancy. Yes, she was experiencing all the horrors of pregnancy such as a
bulging stomach, restless nights, being hungry a lot, unusual cravings, being kicked constantly from the inside, (even though she knew Xena couldn't control it) and not being able to move about easily. Chris was a blessing, helping her move about, not making her do much around the inn, etc.
As the time for Xena to be born, Gabrielle grew more restless and even thought that Xena was tormenting her as time went on.
Are you ever going to come out?" Gabrielle said firmly at her stomach at her stomach. "Or would you rather we never be a team again?"
Chris chose that moment to walk into the room. Smiling, he patted her stomach, and kissed her on the forehead. "Talking to your stomach again?" Gabrielle just nodded, embarrassed.
Gabrielle smiled. "You know she's not exactly a usual child."
"Yeah, I know I just wish she would get done growing so I can meet her."
Suddenly Gabrielle's eyes got wide.
"Your going to get your chance soon, I think. I'm going into labor."
Chris immediately ran out of the inn, and went shouting down the street.
Gabrielle leaned back in the chair and closed her eyes as another wave of pain hit.
She couldn't understand any of the talk going around her, as she was concentrating on the pain.
They moved her into a nearby bed, and Chris left the room, closing the door behind him.
The pains started coming faster and faster, and she started pushing.
All, of a sudden the pains ceased, and Gabrielle opened her eyes, and heard the sounds of a baby crying.
The midwife already knew about Xena, and just handed her to Gabrielle with a big smile on her face. "Congratulations." She said. "Do you want me to let Chris in?" Gabrielle just nodded.
The door opened and Chris slowly walked in.
Xena was beautiful as a baby. Her blue eyes were even more intense, and she had a small whisp of black hair on the top of her head.
Chris took a hold of Gabrielle's hand and squeezed it. "So, that's what she looks like."
Gabrielle raised an eyebrow, and said in a tired voice. "Kind of."
"How are you?" Chris asked.
"Exhausted," she admitted. Chris took Xena from her arms and handed her to the midwife. Then he kissed her on the forehead.
"Get some sleep, I'll wake you up later."
Gabrielle fell asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow.
The next few days were full of laughter and joy. Gabrielle knew her time with this Xena was extremely limited. Gabrielle also knew she would miss this time, but she knew she couldn't wait to see the old Xena she knew so well.
Those days were also filled with fun for Gabrielle, and even though Xena couldn't speak, she felt that it was also true for her.
Unfortunately, these days did not last forever. On the fifth day after Xena was born, when Gabrielle was taking a nap and Chris was watching Xena, Hades arrived with the news that it was time to return Xena to her original form.
"She's going to be extremely weak, so get ready to catch her." Hades said.
Chris nodded, but wondered exactly how he was supposed to hold her.
There's no need to hold her, I can do that." Hades said. "Just catch her." Chris just nodded.
Hades clapped his hands and all of a sudden Xena was no longer a small child, but instead, a full grown woman.
Her eyes rolled back in her head, and she fell back against Chris, who lowered her to the floor. He noticed she was unconscious, and looked up at Hades questioningly.
Don't worry, she'll come around in a few moments."
"Ohhh, my head." Xena moaned. She opened her eyes and realized she was on the floor, looking into eyes that were quite like her own.
"Are you okay?" Chris asked kindly. Xena just nodded.
"Where's Gabrielle?" Xena said, looking around the room as she got to a sitting position. "Your Chris right?"
Chris nodded. "She's up in our room taking a nap."
"Hades, thank you so much for what you've done for me and Gabrielle," Xena said as her eyes found his form in one of the shadow-covered corners.
Hades just nodded, then left.
"Can I go wake her?"
Chris nodded. "If you think you can make it."
Xena made it to her knees before realizing, "I think I probably can, but I'll need your help."
Chris nodded, smiled, and helped her to her feet.
It was extremely hard for Xena to walk, since she hadn't in over nine months, and since she was also extremely weak. As they were making their way to the room they heard the floorboards creak
ahead of them, and Xena looked up to find she was staring straight into Gabrielle's eyes, which were quickly filling with tears. Xena pushed herself away from Chris, to take the last few steps to Gabrielle by herself, like a young child taking its first steps.
Gabrielle couldn't believe her eyes. A full grown Xena, with the help of Chris, was making her way down the hallway. Gabrielle just stood there watching, until she shifted her weight and the floor creaked, and they looked up. She felt tears welling up in her eyes at the sight of her best friend the way she belonged to be seen.
Then Xena did something even more amazing. She pushed Chris off and the amazement (and the amusement of an invisible Hades) she took the last steps on her own to her best friend.
It took almost ten minutes for Xena to do it, and Gabrielle could tell by the strain on her face that she was having a hard time, but she was determined to make it to her best friend (and most recently, mother). When she made it, they embraced, and just held each other. Pretty soon, the
three of them had tears in their eyes. After a while they stepped back and just looked at each other.
"It's so good to see you the way you were meant to be seen," Gabrielle whispered. Xena could only nod, choked up as she was. "Xena..."
"You don't have to say anything, I know," Xena whispered. "I could hear your thoughts all these last nine months."
They embraced again, and this time Xena motioned for Chris to join them.
"No, I can't, this is your moment."
Xena nodded. She broke off the embrace. "Look, as much as much as I love this, I'm falling asleep. Is there someplace I can take a nap?"
Gabrielle nodded, "That really took a lot out of you didn't it." Xena just nodded, and whispered, "These last 5 days have taken a lot out of me."
Gabrielle chuckled. "Well what about me? I had to carry YOU for nine months!"
Xena smiled. "I know what that's like remember? Solan?"
"Let's get her to a room before she passes out." Gabrielle said, and winked at Chris, who took her other side.
After they tucked her into a empty bed, they went back down the hall to the main room, and just sat in companionable silence, thinking.
Xena slept through the rest of that first day, and through most of the second. After she woke up that second day, she found Gabrielle sitting in the room, writing on her scrolls and just generally watching Xena sleep.
"Hi," Xena said quietly. How long have been sitting there watching me sleep?"
Gabrielle looked up, startled. "Most of today," she admitted. "I'm just glad to see your ok."
"I'm still pretty weak," Xena admitted. "I'm glad to see you too though."
"It's been a pretty interesting experience," said Gabrielle thoughtfully. "I mean first you die, then I meet I guy who's my perfect match, find out that you're who I'm carrying inside of me for nine months, and then five days later, boom, your you again."
Xena chuckled, "Yeah, I guess that would be about it."
"When you were dead, could you really hear my thoughts?"
"Yep, and I don't think I could have standed it if I hadn't."
"I wish I really could have seen you when you really were a baby."
"Well, 5 days was enough for me, and I'm not exactly back to being myself."
"That is true."
They both sat back and were left to their own thoughts.. Xena eventually fell back asleep, and then Gabrielle left the room to let her best friend sleep in peace.
Gabrielle and Chris woke Xena up later that evening, so she could eat something. They still had to feed her, but at least she didn't have to breastfeed Xena, Gabrielle thought with a grin.
The next few days consisted mostly of Xena sleeping and getting her strength back.
A few days after Xena was herself again, Chris and Gabrielle helped her walk down to the stables to see a very happy Argo.
"You did a good job of keeping her healthy." Xena mumbled as she let herself into Argo's stall.
"It just seemed the right thing to do. I rode her every day for the first six months, and then I got too big, and Chris took over for me, after that, but I still brushed her every day." Gabrielle said quietly.
"Thank you so much. You know how much the both of you mean to me." That got a blush out of Gabrielle. "I'll always be there for you Gabrielle, always and forever."
It took a month but Xena finally got to the point where she could walk fine on her own, unaffected by weakness.
The first day she was able to do that, she walked from one end of the stable to the other, slowly but surely into Gabrielle's open arms, and embraced her. At that point, both of them had tears in their eyes, and Argo was restlessly pacing her stall.
"It's so good to see you able to walk again. When you died, I didn't know if I'd ever see you again, let alone see you walk."
Xena put a finger to Gabrielle's lips. "Shhh. As glad as I am to hear you say that, I'm not totally well yet. I still can't ride Argo, and I still get tired very easily." She let out a sigh. "In fact, I'm pretty tired right now."
"Then let's go lay you down." Xena nodded and with the help of Gabrielle walked back to her room to take a nap.
The next morning when Xena woke up she noticed that Gabrielle was again in the room, but she had fallen asleep in the chair this time.
Boy, Xena thought, is this ever a change. She's watching over me, instead of me watching over her.
Just then, Gabrielle woke up. "Hi," she said. Then she walked over and sat down on the bed before Xena could get up.
"I was just thinking about what we're going to do when you get better. Should we keep on traveling? Should I stay here with Chris? Do you want to stay here and live with us?"
Xena thought about it. "Lets worry about it when we come to it. Right now lets just enjoy the time we have together."
Gabrielle nodded. "Yeah, that seems like the best idea."
Xena started improving a little every day, and before long she was able to do everything on her own, including riding Argo. She still got tired easily and would go to bed each night exhausted, but woke up each morning to find Gavrielle in her chair, keeping her vigil over Xena, though most mornings she was asleep.
As Xena got better, she, Gabrielle, and Chris started having long conversations.
"What was it like being a baby for you?" Gabrielle asked one evening.
"Well, I couldn't control anything at all, but I tried my best not to cry too much.
"Were you able to see anything?"
"Yeah, and when I first saw your face...lets just say it wasn't a coincidence I stopped crying," Xena said, smiling at the memory.
"I was extremely supprised to hear where you were when I found out. Hdes did us both a great service."
Chris cleared his throat. "Umm, I'm absolutely glad for the both of you. But the question is, what now?"
Xena sighed and glanced at Gabrielle. "Well, that's up to Gabrielle. I want to keep traveling, but its up to her to decide if she stays with you."
"You'll have to give me time, because now I've got to choose between my best friend and the man I've come to love."
Chris took Gabrielle's hand. "I've been considering leaving my life here in the inn for quite a few years. As you can see, its not exactly flourishing. I could join you and Xena on your travels." This admission got a raised eyebrow from Xena and a smile from Gabrielle.
"Before you decide to join us take this into consideration. Life on the road is hard on anybody. I take it you don't have any formal weapons training?" Chris nodded. "Then it will especially hard. I'd be glad to teach you eventually. Do you have a couple horses?" Another nod. "Then, when eventually we leave, you can ride one and Gabrielle can ride the other, ok?" A third nod. "Is that ok with you Gabrielle?" She nodded, and they started making plans to leave.
A month later they were ready to go. Xena on Argo, Chris on a jet black stallion named Berlan, and Gabrielle on a dark brown mare named Crodos.
Xena started to notice a bit of a bulge in Gabrielle, but didn't say anything, knowing that if she did, it would change there travel plans, and knowing she would tell Xena on her own eventually.
She didn't know if Chris had noticed it yet, or Gabrielle for that matter, since she wasn't that big yet, maybe two months.
They had decided they would visit Gabrielle's family in Potedia first since they wern't too far from it. Then they had decided to visit Amphipolis since her mother didn't know about what she had been through at all.
When they got to Potedia and they met up with Gabrielle's family, they told hem about what had happened, and why they hadn't heard from either of them for a year. After that, when Gabrielle, Lila, and Chris went to a nearby meadow, Xena told Gabrielle's mother that Gabrielle was pregnant again.
"What?! Does she know?"
I'm not sure. She's only about two months pregnant. But, if your looking for it, there's already a bit of a bulge."
"Geez. That happened so fast."
"I know, but let me be the one to tell her though ok? You can tell Lila."
"All right. Thanks for telling me first."
They stayed the night and started off for Amphipolis to see her mom the next morning.
About midday, when they stopped for lunch, Xena decided it was time to find out if Gabrielle knew.
Xena sighed. "Gabrielle, did you know your pregnant again?"
Both Gabrielle and Chris's heads flew up. "Yeah, I thought I might be," she admitted.
"Why didn't you tell me?" Chris asked, hurt.
"I wanted to know for sure," Gabrielle said turning to him, trying to reassure him. "How far along am I?" She asked Xena.
"I think about two to three months," Xena said.
"Let me just ask one question." Chris said. "You guys don't happen to have any more dead friends like Xena her would you?"
Both Gabrielle and Xena fell over laughing, and Chris soon joined them.
Gabrielle was enjoying being pregnant. This time she felt comfortable, knowing Xena would be there to help her.
They decided to stay in Xena hometown in her mother's inn, when she offered a free room, when she found out Gabrielle was pregnant.
"I'll be glad to hear the sounds of a baby again, even if it isn't mine," she had commented.
As the months wore on, she realized Xena was becoming restless, not used to staying in one place for such a long period of time, even if it was because of Gabrielle. She rode Argo farther every day, often leaving early in the morning and returning late in the afternoon.
One such day she came back with a surprise for Gabrielle. She arrived with Lila hanging on to her for dear life, as they had ridden quicly back. Xena admitted that she had been riding back and forth between the two villages every day, making plans to bring the two sisters together.
"Thanks, Xena." Gabrielle whispered. Xena just nodded.
"Your so big!" Lila exclaimed, patting her sister's stomach.
"Yeah, its almost time."
"Well, when it comes time, we'll be here for you."
Gabrielle insisted that Xena be the one to help her when the time came.
"But...I'm not a midwife!" Xena complained.
"No, but I've seen you help other women before, and this time it would be someone you knew really well. Plus, I would much rather have you help me, than someone I really don't know."
"But, you did without me last time."
"Yeah, but I was having you."
Xena had to admit that was a good point. "All right. I'll help you. But I think its a good idea to tell the midwife." Gabrielle nodded.
Suddenly, Gabrielle felt the familiar pain of labor, and took a deep breath.
"Xena, its time."
Xena immediately left the room, yelling for Chris and Lila.
After a couple of minutes, Xena burst back into the room, with Lila right behind her.
"Gabrielle, just relax," Xena said hurridly.
They pulled her off the chair just as another wave of pain hit. Gabrielle stumbled and fell to her knees. Xena and Lila picked her up and led her to the bed.
Half a candle mark later: "It's a girl!" Xena exclaimed, as she handed the precious bundle into Gabrielle's waiting arms.
"What are you going to name her?" Lila said anxiously.
"Ashley." Gabrielle said, exhausted. Ashley had blond hair and a light brown eyes.
"Do you want me to let Chris in?" Xena asked.
Gabrielle shook her head. "Not right now."
Xena took Ashley from Gabrielle's arms, and motioned to Lila to follow her out the door quietly, since Gabrielle was already asleep.
Seven days later, Xena took Lila home, and Gabrielle knew Xena was getting restless again. That was confirmed one evening.
"Gabrielle, I'm going to leave for a while to travel, but I'll come back in about a month."
"I kind of figured you wouldn't be around forever, but that's fine with me."
Xena left the next morning on Argo, ready for battle in new leathers that the local leather smith had made for her.
It had been about a month and Xena was anxious to get back to the village to see Gabrielle. She had fought a lot of guys on her way south, but she had also saved a village from flooding. As she got closer to the village she noticed that the village was a lot quieter than usual. She creeped closer
and saw that all wasn't well in the village.
The village had been overrun by bandits, and the only building left standing was the inn. There were men milling all over the place, and all of them were dressed in warrior gear. She couldn't see anyone that looked like a regular villager, so she assumed they were all inside the inn.
She sat back on her heels and started making plans to take back the village.
Gabrielle sat in one of the rooms knowing her time would come again soon.
The last four days had been hell. The raiders had come into the village quietly at first, giving the impression that they were just passing through.
Then when they had gotten to the middle of the village, they had started making demands. The battle had been short and bloody. They had killed all the men that fought, including Chris, and all of the very young children, including Ashley. Then the raping had started. She already had been
raped thrice, once every day. She had fought the guy the first time, but gave up when he beat herinto submission.
She knew the town had a friend on the outside. Xena was out there somewhere, hopefully on her way back.
Her stomach rumbled, remindind her that they hadn't fed their prisoners in four days either.
Just then, the door opened.
As night fell, Xena crept closer to the outskirts of the village. She noted that the raiders had not placed any gaurds around the perimeter of the village. "Probably taking with the women." Xena muttered, shaking her head.
She lit a torch, and started all the tents on a fire, even the ones with men in them, then ran the men through that came running out. She quickly put out the fires and then ran fast to the inn, being as quiet as she could.
As she reached the door, she slipped in and started working her way down the hallway which was a slow process, considering she was staying in the shadows andmaking as small a sound as possible.
As she got to the bottom of the steps she could hear sounds. Sounds of crying, struggling, screaming, and love-making floated her way.
Xena stood listenng for a few minutes. Then she ran up the stairs not caring if anyone heard her any more, and pulled her sword out as she ran.
Nobody was standing in the hall so she opened the door to the first room, ready to do battle.
"Gabrielle!" Gabrielle looked like she was ready for anything, except Xena.
"Xena!" Gabrielle jumped up and fell back down again.
Are you ok?" Gabrielle shook her head and started crying. Xena lifted
her onto her feet and embraced her. "I'ts ok, Gabrielle. I'm here for you."
"Xena, Chris and Ashley are dead. They killed them!"
"Shhh, its ok, Gabrielle. They won't be living much longer I think." Xena broke off the embrace. "Let me go take care of them, then we can talk ok?" Gabrielle just nodded.
Xena left the room but left the door opened this time. She took her sword out again, and started opening the doors along the hallway, killing the remainder of the raiders, and letting the stunned women out of the rooms. She found the men that were still alive in a back room, all tied up
together. She took out her breast knife and started cutting away all the ropes.
After she got them all uncut and they thanked her profusely, they headed downstairs.
She watched the reunions for a minute, then she noticed Gabrielle sitting at a table in a back corner by herself, with tears running down her face.
She walked quickly back to the table and put her hand on Gabrielle's shoulder.
Gabrielle looked up, managed a small smile and motioned to the chair next to her.
Xena sat down and took Gabrielle's hand. "What happened?" Xena said gently.
Gabrielle took a deep breath and started telling the story about what had happened over the last month. "Everything had been wonderful for most of the month. Me and Chris were enjoying life together with Ashley. I was helping your mother around the inn, and Chris was working in the stable, helping in the stable with the animals that would pass through. Then, about 4 days ago, on market day, people started to get nervous when they noticed a band of dangerous men traveling through the middle of town. I was shopping the market, but I didn't have my staff, not knowing I would need it. I also had Ashley with me at the time." Gabrielle sighed and Xena squeezed
Gabrielle's hand, reminding her she was there for her, deciding not to give Gabrielle a lecture on keeping her staff with her at all times. "When they got to the middle of town they drew out their sword and started making demands. Obviously, as you might reason, the demands wern't met. They killed any man who tried to retaliate, and that included Chris, who I had been training with my staff. He had grabbed it and quietly walked of the inn hoping to not attract anyone's attention. The raiders were too busy with the other men fighting to notice him. He knocked one out by hitting him over the head, but wasn't able to stop the next one's sword thrust.
He got it right throught the chest and died before he hit the ground." Gabrielle stopped for a second to collect herself.
"After all the men willing to fight were killed they surrounded the remaining villagers and proceeded to start searching the houses and pulling out anyone who was hiding there.
"Then they pulled out all the mothers with children in the crowd, including me, and proceeded to kill all the children right before our eyes, either by snapping their necks, smothering them, or
running them through." Gabrielle stopped talking and they noticed that it was absolutely silent in the room. Xena looked around and noticed that all eyes were on her and Gabrielle.
"How many women lost husbands?" Xena said quietly. Seven hands shot up. "How many lost children?" Almost every hand in the room shot up.
"Oh geez." Xena stood up. "I take it the village leader was killed?" Heads bobbed up and down. "Who do you want in his place?"
Everyone in the room yelled out, "YOU!"
"All right but only for a while. The first order is someone telling me the rest of what happened." Everyone started talking at once. "Silence! One at a time please! Gabrielle, why don't you continue. Then when you don't want to say any more, just say so."
Gabrielle took a deep breath. "They headed everyone inside the inn, and seperated the men from the women. The women got locked in this room, and one by one got taken out. I was one of the first, and I was taken to room. I knew what was to come next. I fought him, but he beat me, so I
just succumbed to the inevidible. It happened twice more, and I was expecting it a forth time when you walked in. That basically is the whole story."
"Anybody have anything else to add?" nobody said anything. "All right, I suggest that everyone let me check them out and treat any injuries tommorow. Now, some bad news. The inn is the only building still standing so you'll have to sleep here at least for tonight.
"I also think we should pick someone to ride to the nearest village for help tommorow."
It was quickly decided that one of the younger men would leave at sunrise.
Xena let the group keep talking and quilckly left the inn to find Argo. Xena soon realized she was being followed, but she knew who it was. She turned around to face Gabrielle.
"You don't have to follow me." Xena said. "You can walk along side me."
Gabrielle smiled and whispered, "thanks," and moved up to walk beside her.
"How are you doing?"
"Not so well, its hard."
"I know what you mean. It's not easy to lose family. At least your not the only one though. Plus, I'll be there to help you." Xena squeezed Gabrielle's shoulder, knowing that the immediate future wouldn't be easy for either of them.
The walked on in silence, Gabrielle not wanting to share her thoughts, and Xena figuring it was best to keep quiet.
When they returned to the inn, everyone had gone to bed, so they decided to sleep outiside, just like the countless times they had before Xena died.
Gabrielle immediately fell asleep, but Xena stayed awake, knowing it wouldn't be a restless night for them. She was right. Gabrielle woke up nine times in the night screaming. Xena just held her, until she cried herself back to sleep.
As dawn approached, Gabrielle relaxed, and Xena could tell she had finally fallen asleep.
In the light of pre-dawn, Xena gently lowered Gabrielle to the ground, stood up, and looked around the ruined village.
She had been right. There were no buildings left standing that were habitable other than the inn.
Xena spun around, and found that she had heard the messenger. "It's not very."
He ignored the comment. "I thought I'd get an early start."
Xena nodded, "Is anyone else up yet?"
"A few. If you want to move your friend, the main room's empty."
Xena just nodded, and moved over to Gabrielle. Xena picked her up like a baby and started over to the inn. She knew she was going to have to be there when Gabrielle finally woke up. That kind of limited what she could do till Gabrielle woke up. That kind of limited what she could do till
Gabrielle woke up.
Xena decided to take a nap since nobody was fully awake yet.
Xena woke up a few minutes later to a hand on her shoulder.
Her mother motioned Xena to follow her. Xena followed her out of the inn.
"How's Gabriellle taking this?" her mother asked.
"Not too well." Xena said with a sigh. "She's taking it pretty hard."
"I'm not surprised. She's taken this whole thing harder than anyone."
"Yeah, in fact I better get back inside. I want to be there when she wakes up." Her mother nodded and followed her back in.
Gabrielle slept most of the morning, and Xena let her, knowing it was good for her. Xena took a nap, since there wasn't a whole lot that she could do.
Xena woke up to screaming. She immediately knew that Gabrielle had somehow woken up and not seen Xena sitting there.
Xena hurriedly sat down next to Gabrielle and took her in her arms. Gabrielle noticed, and opened her eyes in surprise.
"I didn't even see you." Gabrielle whispered.
"Don't worry about it."
Gabrielle quieted down and eventually both fell asleep in the sunshine.
The rebuilding started almost immediately. Xena first checked everyone over.
Gabrielle was first. She checked out ok physically, but Xena knew she was shaken up mentally.
Everyone in the village was all right and Xena only had to fix a few scrapes and cuts.
About midday helped arrived. The brought food, building supplies, and a lot of manpower.
Xena helped wherever she was needed. Whenever she had time, she would sit with Gabrielle.
It took a week to rebuild most of Amphipolis. They had already picked a new leader, so Xena was now just another set of hands, so to speak.
By the end of that week, Gabrielle was in a lot better position than she had been at the beginning. She was helping to do a lot of rebuilding, and with the help of Xena to talk about what had happened to her with a group of other women that had lost their families in the raid.
At the end of that week there was a big celebration, and Xena was the center of attention as the hero, even though she wasn't enjoying all of the attention much.
The next morning, Xena and Gabrielle headed east, off to their destiny.
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