Being dead sure is boring, thought Xena as she sat on a deck rail watching Gabrielle and the crew clean up from the storm the night before. Part of her was wishing that she had let Gabrielle bring her back in Japa. For a while she'd had some fun haunting the crew, but the bard had insisted she stop since many of the crewmen were threatening to quit when they reached the next port, saying they would spread the word about the haunted ship. So the warrior had stopped.


Now all she could do was watch as Gabrielle and the crew went about their daily tasks.  At night though, when the bard was alone in her small cabin, the two of them would talk. That is until the fair haired woman fell asleep.  After that she had nothing else to do. Maybe she should talk to Gabrielle about leaving the ship at the next port.


But first Xena wanted to find a way to end the nightmares that Gabrielle had been experiencing since leaving Japa. The warrior was concerned that if the bard wasn't getting enough rest, that she would be more likely to be hurt in a fight or even killed. She had an idea on how to end the bad dreams, which she planned to try tonight.


Gabrielle placed her gently steaming bucket of water near the small table in her quarters. The storm the previous night had reeked havoc on her stomach, as well as the ship, but it had also provided her with plenty of water for washing up herself and her clothes.


"Rough day." The bard jumped at the warrior's quiet words. "Sorry. Didn't mean to scare you."


"I should be used to you appearing out of nowhere," said Gabrielle. "Since you've had a habit of doing that ever since we first met." She looked up to see Xena's half grin at the comment.


"So how's your seasickness?" asked the warrior.


"Well after last night," replied Gabrielle washing up while they chatted, "I wasn't sure I'd ever be able to eat anything again. But it's better."


"Glad to hear it," said Xena.


"I'm tempted to leave the ship at the next port though," said the bard, "I'm not sure my stomach would be up for another round if we run into any more storms before reaching Egypt."


"Well now that you mention it, I was planning on talking to you about doing that." Said the warrior. "Its pretty boring not being able to do anything."


"Being dead does limit your options." Agreed Gabrielle grinning.


"Very funny."


"I'll talk with the captain in the morning." Said the bard, yawning as she climbed into her hammock. "I wish you'd said something sooner."


"I should have," agreed Xena. She had decided not to share her idea with the bard about her helping stop the nightmares. She didn't want to give Gabrielle false hope in case it didn't work. The warrior watched the younger women until she was sure she was deeply asleep. "I hope this works."


Gabrielle looked over her shoulder as Argo galloped along. So far there were no signs that Talmadeus's men were chasing her. She turned back around, and was surprised to see Xena standing a short distance ahead of her.  She managed to reign in the mare before it ran over her friend. "Xena?"


"Yes. Its really me," Replied the warrior as Gabrielle dismounted from the horse.


"How is this possible?" asked the bard, reaching hesitantly for her friend.


"Its part of what I learned from Alti." Answered Xena. "But I wasn't sure if I could make it work or I would have told you before you went to sleep. I was hoping to help you end your nightmares."


"Well I'm glad you're here." Said Gabrielle. "So now what happens?"


"That's up to you. I can only appear in your dreams, you have to provide the rest." Xena replied. "Or at least most of it."


Gabrielle thought for a moment about what she wanted to happen in her dream. Suddenly they were no longer standing on the road back to the village, but in a camp beside a creek. Their bedrolls were placed neatly by a small campfire, and Argo was grazing on some grass nearby. The sun was just setting behind the trees.


"Nice." Said Xena, giving her approval. "Now what do you want..." Her words were cutoff when Gabrielle kissed her.  Good idea, she thought.


"So will you be able to do this every night?" asked Gabrielle sometime later as they lay in the blankets looking at the stars.


"I sure hope so." Grinned Xena. "I'll do my best to help make you have better dreams from now on."


"Good." Answered Gabrielle. "I really wish that I didn't have to leave her though. But I know I can't stay."


"No." said the warrior. "You're still very much a part of the real world.... And if I'm not mistaken, I believe that the sun is coming up now."


"Well I still have a bit of time before I have to be up then." Replied the bard.


Gabrielle was finishing up her supper, for once looking forward to turning in, when one of the sailors approached her. "What can I do for you?"


"I heard that you'll be leaving in a few days." He said. "I was hoping maybe you would tell some stories before you do."


"Well," said Gabrielle thoughtfully. "I believe that can be arranged." She hadn't felt up to telling any of her stories or writing since leaving Japa. Now she was eager to tell a few. She knew that her dream time with Xena had a lot to do with that feeling. To her surprise, the sailors quickly cleared one of the tables and placed a chair on top before lifting her up to it. "How about the story of how Xena helped break the curse of the lost mariner?" The crew gave shouts of approval.


Nearby, Xena stood leaning against the wall. She hadn't really paid much attention before when Gabrielle told their stories of adventure. Now she was glad to have the opportunity, especially when the bard finished her first story and went on to tell the story of how they, had been trapped underwater in a ship along with Autolycus, a few prisoners, the owner of the ship and his wife.


Gabrielle sighed as she settled into the tub of hot water. The last few days aboard ship had gone quickly, with her daily work with the crew, the story telling in the evenings and her dreamtime with Xena. She was glad to finally be back on land. She looked up as the warrior appeared before her.


"We need to talk." Said Xena. "Tonight will have to be the last night for my dream visit, at least for a while."


"But why?" the bard protested.


"You know why," answered Xena. "I want to be sure that you're safe and I can't look out for you when I'm in your dreams."


"Well then," said Gabrielle, "I better make this a fast bath."


"I'm really going to miss our dreamtime together," Sighed Gabrielle. "I wish now more than ever that I didn't have to wake up from this."


"I know," said Xena. "I wish we didn't have to stop this. But...."


"What is it?" asked the bard. She noticed the warrior had a strange look on her face.


"I don't know." Replied Xena. "I feel kind of strange."


"What's going on," gasped Gabrielle. "You're fading." She reached for the warrior, but as she did so the dark haired woman disappeared completely. "Xena!"


Xena couldn't believe what she was feeling as she opened her eyes. She reached for the pulse point in her neck, surprised that she could actually feel her heartbeat. Next to her, Gabrielle was waking from her dream. "I don't know how this happened...but I'm alive."


"Its because you have been forgiven," said Akemi as she appeared before them. "Once the souls reached the afterlife, my family told them about my father. My grandfather explained how he had granted me the right to avenge them. And for the past several days they have listened as Gabrielle told her stories of you. Many of them decided that for them to truly be at peace then they needed to forgive you for what happened to them. Some though weren't ready to give theirs, still it was enough for you to be returned to your life. There is a condition that you must keep - never return to Japa in your lifetime."


"I think that is something I can agree to." Said the warrior. "Tell them I am truly sorry for what happened and thank them for me."


"And for me too," added the bard.


"I will." Said Akemi, bowing her head and disappearing from the room. "Enjoy your new found peace, Xena."

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