For The Greater Good
Gabrielle gazed out at the familiar landscape as she walked down the dirt path. She had planned on traveling to Egypt or somewhere far from Greece to get her mind off of what had happened in Japa. But she'd had second thoughts and felt the need to find Eve and tell her about Xena's death. She didn't want Eve to learn about it through the grapevine.
The blond paused when she heard the rustling of bushes nearby. Her hand reached for the sword that was strapped to her back. Gabrielle felt fairly confident of her fighting skills; but she still wished Xena could be there to watch her back. She knew she'd never be as skilled as the Warrior Princess and one day, well, she'd be joining her partner in death.
During the first days after Xena's death, the bard had wished she had died as well, and cursed the fact that she remained among the living, separated from her soul mate. She knew she couldn't take her own life, but that didn't stop her from thinking about it and hoping perhaps someone would come along that would assist her with her wish to be reunited with Xena. Until then, she would continue her journey fighting for good and search for a way to bring her beloved Xena back to her.
Her attention was brought back to the present by three men stumbling out of the shrubbery in what they thought would be a surprise attack. In one deft movement, Gabrielle drew her sword and readied herself for an encounter with the strangers.
"Oh look. The little girl wants to play the big, bad warrior." The tallest man taunted upon seeing the slight woman with the drawn weapon.
Gabrielle shifted her weight. "Why don't you just go back where you came from and no one will be hurt." As she spoke she watched the men intently for their next move.
The trio laughed and began to advance on her. The shortest member of the group stopped suddenly when he spotted the chakram attached to Gabrielle's belt. "Whoa! That's Xena's ring of death. I'd recognize that thing anywhere."
His companions chuckled at him. "Come on Tyrus. Don't be such a girl. It's probably a copy. I bet she can't even use the thing. I mean how could SHE get the weapon from the Warrior Princess?"
Tyrus's eyes moved from the round weapon to Gabrielle's stone cold face. "I don't know Clydus, it looks real to me." He said as he took a step back.
The taller man rolled his eyes as he raised his sword and pointed it at Gabrielle. "Come on girlie, show us what you've got."
Gabrielle had grown tired of this situation and wanted nothing more than to be on her way. She took a strong step forward and brought her sword down in a powerful arc.
Having been knocked away by Gabrielle's blow, Clydus' sword fell useless to the ground. The man watched as his companions ran back into the woods. He cursed their cowardness. "You just got lucky there blondie. It won't happen again."
The bard sighed, she didn't want to hurt the man, but he was giving her few options. She sensed he was about to make a move and she waited. He lunged at the blond, but she easily avoided him and spun quickly as she kicked him in the backside, causing the man to run head first into a tree and collapse to the ground unconscious.
Gabrielle replaced the sword in its sheath and continued on her way, hoping for no more interruptions.
The bard received her wish and there were no further delays in her trip. She'd spoken to a couple of Eli's followers who informed her Eve could be found in a nearby Temple. Gabrielle steeled her nerves as she entered the structure. She wasn't sure what she was going to say to the girl.
As she glanced around, she viewed the brunette kneeling before an altar. A man watched Gabrielle standing there and walked over to Eve and whispered something to her.
Eve stood and turned. She smiled as she caught sight of the bard and quickly scanned the room for her mother. The closer she got to Gabrielle, the dimmer her smile became. The young woman noted the dark circles under her friend's eyes. Eyes that seemed to have lost that sparkle she remembered seeing in them the last time they were together, their brilliant green color now muted and dull.
The blond watched as Eve came towards her. She saw her search the area for Xena. Gabrielle tried to swallow the lump that had formed in her throat and also hold down the nausea that was waging a fierce attack on her stomach. " Eve." She got out with a forced smile.
"Gabrielle. It's good to see you. Where's Mother?" Eve tried to keep the panic that was starting to take hold of her out of her voice.
The bard took a deep breath and slowly released it as she tried to capture the words that were eluding her.
"She's gone Eve." Gabrielle began as she balled her hands into fists and dug her nails into the soft skin of her palms in hopes the pain would keep her mind off the words she must speak. "Xena was killed during a battle in Japa. I'm so sorry Eve."
"No! No, that can't be. You're lying, she can't be dead!" She threw herself at the bard and began pounding her fists against the smaller woman's chest. "They can't take her away from me again. It's not fair!!"
Gabrielle grabbed Eve in a tight embrace as hot tears coursed down the brunette's face. "We'll always have her with us Eve. She'll always be in our hearts, and as long as that's true she'll never truly be gone." She'd tried to convince herself of this fact, but it didn't help ease the feelings of loss and emptiness she felt inside.
"I don't care!" Eve yelled as she pushed away angrily. "I don't want the memories, I want the flesh and blood version of my Mother. And where were you when she was out there dying? Why didn't you stop her? Help her?"
"I tried Eve, but it wasn't that easy. Xena made a choice and I abided by it, she felt it was the right thing to do." Gabrielle tried to explain.
"I wish it was you that was dead instead of her!" Eve spat out as she turned and stalked away leaving Gabrielle standing there wishing the same thing.
Aphrodite watched Gabrielle sitting next to the fire, a small urn held carefully in her hands. Her heart went out to her small friend as she observed a tear escape from the corner of a green eye and roll down a fair cheek. She was the Goddess of love, but she had no power to heal a broken heart. She could only be there to comfort her friend, something she could sense the bard needed.
Gabrielle gazed at the urn in her hands, the only physical thing she had left of her soul mate besides the chakram. She glanced briefly up at the stars, but they no longer held the same appeal as when Xena was there to share them with her. She used to enjoy when night fell so she could relax with her warrior by the fire, and snuggle up against her as she slept. But now the darkness held no feelings of joy or peacefulness, just nightmares and thoughts of regret.
"Hey there little one." A familiar voice announced as the figure sat down next to her.
"Aphrodite." Gabrielle greeted warmly as she hugged her friend. "It's good to see you again."
There was a moment of silence as the pair decided what to say next. Aphrodite motioned towards the urn. "She loved you very much, Gabrielle."
The bard smiled sadly. "I know. I felt the same way about her. It was as though we were one soul in two bodies, and now that she's gone....." A few tears spilled from her eyes.
"A part of you is missing too." The goddess finished as she gently brushed the salty drops from her friend's skin.
Gabrielle just nodded unable to speak.
A red flash of light startled both women. "Oh, isn't this touching." Ares remarked sarcastically.
"Not now, Ares." Aphrodite warned.
"Yes, now!" He shot back.
The God of War strode over to where Gabrielle was sitting. "You say you loved her Gabrielle, yet you had the chance to bring her back and you didn't. What kind of love is that?" He asked angrily.
The bard's jaw clenched as she stood. "It was HER choice Ares. Xena was the one who didn't want to come back, she said it was for the greater good."
"The greater good" He mocked. "And do you think Xena would have given a damn about the 'greater good' if she hadn't met you? Do you, for one second, believe that she'd have sacrificed herself if it hadn't been for you and your do-gooding ways? You changed her Gabrielle and it cost Xena her life. I should have let you die in that fire pit."
"That's not true Ares." His sibling protested. "If it hadn't been for Gabrielle, Xena would have been dead long ago. Gabrielle gave Xena a new chance at life and the warrior took it. It was their love that kept them going."
"Keep telling yourself that fairytale, sis. But I know the truth." He pointed his finger at Gabrielle. "And YOU can try to make up excuses, but I think you know deep down inside what the truth is Gabrielle. Xena is dead because of you." He disappeared in another flash of light.
Aphrodite wrapped an arm around Gabrielle's shoulders. "Don't listen to him. He's taking this pretty hard himself. In his own warped way he loved Xena too."
"Do...do you think I did the right thing by not bringing her back?" The bard in a strained voice asked quietly. "It seems I'm the only one who believes I did what Xena wanted. And even I have second thoughts about that decision."
"You did what she asked you to Gabrielle, what Xena thought was the right thing to do." The goddess assured her. "And of course you're going to second guess that, especially during the times you miss her." A mischievous grin appeared on her features, there had been enough talk of sadness. "Have I told you how much I like the new tattoo? Very stylin' my friend. Now just how far down does that dragon go?"
Bidding her friend goodbye Aphrodite told Gabrielle not to give up hope. That she had to continue on the journey she and Xena started and to keep the warrior in her heart.
Gabrielle placed the urn next to her pillow before laying down herself. "Good night Xena. I'll always love you, and we will be together again."
Aphrodite materialized deep in the Underworld. It was time for her to call in a favor, she just hoped Persephone would agree to help her. It made her heart ache to see Gabrielle so devastated by the loss of Xena, and the Goddess of Love was worried the bard would do something drastic to end her despair.
The rain came down in sheets and she had trouble seeing where she was going as the water streamed down her face, but she didn't need her vision to know what was about to happen. She had the same dream every night, she was helpless to stop it. She would turn and find Xena's lifeless body hanging from the tree, arrows still embedded in the soft skin she had once taken so much pleasure in touching. A lightning flash would reveal the final blow that had taken the Warrior's life.
Gabrielle prayed she would wake up from this night terror. Her eyes moved to the tree, but there was no body suspended from its branches. Then the rain stopped falling around her.
A figure dressed in a black cloak appeared in the distance. "I know your heart is filled with deep sorrow." A female voice announced. "I will give you the chance you so desperately want, Gabrielle. A chance to bring Xena back."
"But how? Why?" The bard questioned but was interrupted by the upraised hand of the woman.
"I will allow you the chance to go into the past and change what began this chain of events, Gabrielle. Are you strong enough to do what must be done? You must be willing to sacrifice your beliefs for Xena's life. Can you do that?"
"Without hesitation." Gabrielle replied.
"I hope you mean that." Then the figure vanished.
Gabrielle awoke from her dream feeling disoriented. Her brows drew together as she glanced around with the realization she was not in the same place she had fallen asleep.
She recognized the background as that of the Far East, and her dream came rushing back to her. She had been given a second chance to right the wrongs of Xena's past, she had the ability to get her soul mate back. Her heart soared with this information. Now she just needed to decide what her next step would be and how to proceed.
Xena liked being a teacher to Akemi, teaching her the ways of a warrior gave her a feeling of power. She stood on the boat's deck with Borias and the young woman they'd rescued in order to collect a reward from her father. The women were about to disembark the vessel to begin their journey to Akemi's home.
After Xena and Akemi were settled in the row boat, Borias reminded the warrior that half of the money was his. She smirked in return at the man and the pair headed for shore.
Gabrielle had committed to memory the story Xena had told her about Akemi and their trip together to the girl's house. The bard was traveling to the village where Xena would acquire the sacred Katana. She hoped she would be able to somehow convince the warrior to trust her so she could stop Xena from showing the pinch to Akemi.
Of course Gabrielle realized the girl would probably just find another way to kill her father, so there was really only one way to truly stop Akemi. Gabrielle needed to take the girl's life and in the process save Xena and the 40,000 souls doomed because of Akemi's treachery and quest for revenge on her father.
The bard neared a hut and heard the sound of metal blades clashing. She thanked the gods she hadn't been too late. A moment later, Xena emerged from the structure with Akemi in tow. The warrior was admiring the Katana she held in her hand, its blade shining.
Gabrielle watched from the cover of a hut, unshed tears glistened in her sea green eyes at the sight of her beloved alive and well. She fingered the chakram that hung from her belt as she considered using it against the girl. But there was the chance she would miss or Xena would somehow use herself to block Akemi from the weapon, something Gabrielle couldn't risk. Instead, she chose to follow them for a short while.
Xena paused to listen, she knew someone had been following them since they'd left the village and she figured the person was trying to edge in on her reward. She'd had enough and was ready to confront the individual. "Stay here." She told Akemi as she headed into the woods.
"I know you're out there." She growled menacingly as she drew her sword. "Show yourself now and let's get this over with. I have a reward to collect."
A look of surprise briefly captured Xena's features as she watched the small, blond woman step out from her hiding spot, but it was quickly replaced by one of suspicion. She admired for a moment the muscular build of the stranger's legs and shoulders, and the finely defined abdominal muscles that showed in the Amazon-like outfit that covered her. "Why are you following me?"
Gabrielle slowly closed the distance between them, holding her hands up in a non-threatening gesture. "I want to join you." She announced. "I've heard the stories of your conquests Xena, and I want to be just like you." She resisted the urge to touch the taller woman, knowing that would end with her missing a hand or worse.
The warrior laughed harshly. "I'm not a babysitter, kid. Go home before you get yourself killed.
"I can hold my own in a fight." Gabrielle informed Xena. "Try me." She pulled her sword.
Xena sighed, it seemed the young woman had a death wish or something. Oh well, she would send her to Hades soon enough and make the wish a reality. "All right. Are you sure this is what you want?"
The blond nodded her acknowledgement. "Fine then." But there was a nagging feeling in Xena's subconscious that there was something special about this woman, and she discovered she really didn't want to kill her. "How about we put away the swords."
Gabrielle breathed a sigh of relief with that comment. She knew she'd improved in using a sword, but she was in no way the swordswoman Xena was. But in hand to hand fighting, she might have a chance to prove her skill to the Warrior Princess before she was beaten senseless.
"Okay. I agree." She replaced the weapon into its scabbard and removed it from her back before laying it on the ground along with her knapsack.
The women squared off, each apparently waiting for the other to make the first move. Then Xena launched into a fury of kicks and punches that would have devastated most opponents, but the smaller woman managed to block or avoid most of them and had even placed a counter attack or two of her own.
Xena took a moment to rethink her strategy. This woman could make a nice ally, at least until she outlived her usefulness or got herself killed. But there was one more test she had for her. "Okay kid. You're an average fighter. I guess you can hang around for a little while." She motioned her over. "But you're not getting any of the money."
Gabrielle retrieved her weapon and pack and walked to Xena. She could sense a tenseness of sorts in the woman's stance as she approached her and they began traveling back to Akemi. The bard kept her senses on alert and was thankful she did when Xena suddenly spun and swung a fist at her face.
The warrior's mouth turned up in a slight smirk when the blond ducked her punch and remarked she trusted no one. "What's your name?"
"Well come on Gabrielle we need to get moving."
Akemi eyed the newcomer cautiously when Xena returned with the blond. She didn't like this change of events at all. How could she gain the Warrior's trust by pretending to be in love with her if there was now another person involved? She'd have to find a way to get rid of the stranger before she disrupted her plans. She needed to learn the pinch technique. She put away the scroll that contained a love poem she planned on giving to Xena.
Gabrielle nodded at Akemi as Xena introduced the women to each other. She remembered how the woman had betrayed her soul mate and she wanted nothing more than to hurt Akemi, she wanted the woman to suffer as much as she had since Xena's death. But this wasn't the time for that, she would have to wait to exact her revenge.
The trio set up camp as darkness began to fall. Xena caught some game, which Gabrielle offered to cook. She wanted to make sure the warrior kept thinking of her as someone useful to have around.
Akemi followed Xena into the woods under the pretense of helping her gather some wood. The smaller woman picked up a few small branches then stopped and watched Xena split a large piece of wood with her new sword. "Xena, can I ask you something?"
"Umm. Sure." Xena answered as she continued to cut the log into smaller pieces.
"What do you know about this Gabrielle person?" She asked innocently. "I mean she just shows up out of nowhere and says she wants to travel with you. How did she know where you'd be?"
Xena had asked herself the same questions hours ago and had come to the conclusion that she really didn't care at this point. Gabrielle was there and she seemed to know how to take care of herself when traveling, and for some reason, she just enjoyed the blond's company.
"I don't know." Xena admitted. "But I wouldn't worry about it Akemi, I don't think she's much of a threat."
"Maybe not to you." Akemi thought dryly. "But she is to me." The smaller woman pulled a piece of parchment from her robe. "I wrote this for you Xena."
Xena took the paper and opened it; she frowned at the foreign characters scrawled on it. "Uh, thanks."
"It's a poem about how much I care for you, Xena." Akemi tried to explain, but noted angrily that the Warrior was no longer listening to her.
Xena took in a deep breath. "Something smells good. I think we have enough wood, let's head back to camp." She shoved the paper into a pocket and picked up two large hunks of wood.
Akemi reluctantly followed the warrior. She was going to have to move quickly if she wanted to get rid of the blond woman and earn Xena's trust. They were nearing her home.
Gabrielle cleaned the cookware and put it away. She smiled as she recalled how many compliments Xena had given her on the meal and how angry that made Akemi. She was aware of Akemi's frustration with her presence and how it impeded the woman's plans. It gave her a morose sense of pleasure to know she was the cause of her enemy's scowl. But the bard knew how traitorous Akemi could be and she knew the woman would stop at nothing to make her plot successful. She needed to watch her back.
When she returned to the fire she noted, with a little jealously, that Akemi had placed her bedroll next to Xena's. "She's not your Xena yet." She reminded herself silently as she fought the urge to throw the bedroll in the fire and replace it with her own. Instead, she unrolled her sleeping fur to be as close to the warrior as she could be without being too far from the fire and risk freezing during the night.
Xena lay awake for some time thinking. She found she really liked Akemi, and she might have even loved her a little, but there was something that prevented her from giving the woman her heart. The warrior glanced over at Gabrielle's sleeping form, an unconscious smile tugged at her lips. What was it about the small blond that she found so appealing? She mentally shrugged as she closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep.
Gabrielle's eyes popped open when she sensed movement around her. Her eyes tracked a figure in the darkness and recognized it as Akemi's. The woman crept into the woods. The bard quietly stood and followed after the girl. She knew she was up to something but wanted to know what. Xena also heard the movement, but thought Akemi was probably answering the call of Mother Nature.
A moment later Gabrielle heard clothing rip and Akemi began screaming for Xena at the top of her lungs. Gabrielle knew this didn't bode well for her and she was torn between running and trying to convince Xena that Akemi was using her.
The side that wanted to stay and fight won out and she quickly went to confront Akemi. When she found her, a few feet away, Akemi's hands were bound with rope and there was some slight color to her face as though she'd been slapped. Her lips twisted into an evil grin when she saw Gabrielle.
"What do you think you're doing?" The bard asked angrily.
Akemi remained silent until Xena came bounding through the woods and found them. The warrior took in the scene with one glance around and frowned.
"Oh Xena! Thank goodness you're here." Akemi announced in a relieved voice as faked tears ran down her face. "Gabrielle was planning on taking me to my father and collecting the reward herself. I tried to fight her, but she said she'd kill me if I didn't go with her." She held up her tied hands.
"That's a lie!" Gabrielle protested vehemently. "I woke up to see her going into the woods so I followed her and..." She stopped when she saw Xena's cold, piercing blue eyes bear down on her. She'd seen her soul mate give that look to many people, but she never thought she'd be on the receiving end of the deadly glare. She instinctively took a step back and searched the area, wishing fruitlessly she'd brought her sword with her.
If there was one thing Xena would not tolerate, it was disloyalty from her troops, especially when it dealt with her and money. She brought her sword up; flashing pale eyes focused on the small blond. "I should have killed you when we first met." She growled. "A mistake I'll now correct."
Gabrielle located a fallen branch on the ground that was roughly the size of her old staff. Now if she could just stay alive long enough to convince Xena that it was Akemi and not her that was the betrayer.
Xena lunged at Gabrielle, who in turn, dropped to the ground and rolled, picking up the stick as she sprung back onto her feet. She held the weapon in a defensive stance. "Don't do this Xena. Just listen to me." She pleaded. "She's lying!"
The warrior ignored the woman's words and attacked again. She brought her sword down as Gabrielle moved the staff upwards to block. The Katana split through the wood effortlessly. The blade of Xena's weapon made contact with the bard's forearm, leaving a fine line of blood behind as it sliced the delicate skin.
Grimacing with the burning pain in her arm, Gabrielle looked at the two pieces of wood she now held in her hands. Deciding it might catch her opponent off guard, which would be her only chance, Gabrielle went on the offensive. She charged Xena, using her weapons and feet to land several well-placed blows to the larger woman's body. The bard was about to retreat and take her chances hiding from Xena, but before she had the opportunity, the warrior recovered from the unexpected attack and countered it.
A strong backhand to the face sent Gabrielle reeling backwards as blood spouted from her nose. She recovered only to be struck with several more vicious blows until she dropped down to her knees. A crushing kick to the midsection and the bard found herself flat on her back looking up at a towering Xena.
Xena looked down at the battered and bloody woman as she raised her sword for the final, killing blow.
Gabrielle hurt so badly, not from the physical assault she'd endured, but from the knowledge she had failed in her quest to bring her soul mate back to her. "I'm sorry, Xena." The bard announced in a whisper.
The warrior hesitated a moment when she heard the words. She noted the look of total hopelessness in the green eyes that stared up at her and was confused by it.
Akemi had watched the battle with a look of satisfaction on her face. Xena would soon take care of the one thing that stood between her and the warrior's total trust. And maybe she could use the event to get Xena to show her the pinch for future self-defense.
Yes, everything was going as she'd planned.
The blond was helpless on her back and Xena was about to go in for the kill. Akemi congratulated herself on being so brilliant. But then Xena hesitated. What was she waiting for? "Kill her Xena! She betrayed you!" Akemi shouted.
Xena glanced over at the small, dark woman and then back to Gabrielle. What WAS she waiting for?
Gabrielle watched in stunned amazement as Xena turned and walked away from her. The bard said a silent prayer of thanks for this event, knowing it meant there was again hope that she'd be reunited with her soul mate in the living.
Xena walked past a raging Akemi as she headed back to the camp. "What are you doing Xena? Why didn't you kill her?" The smaller woman yelled.
"She's had enough." Xena replied. "Let's go."
The distance to the campsite seemed like miles to the injured Gabrielle as she limped her way back. There was no sign of Xena or Akemi when she arrived. A quick look around revealed Xena had left Gabrielle's knapsack behind. The blond sat down and picked up the object and found there was a full water skin under it. As she rooted around in her bag, Gabrielle noted besides her chakram and other supplies she'd brought, there were several items that did not belong to her in there.
A container of ointment and a roll of cloth bandage had been placed inside, along with a portion of bread and dried meat. Gabrielle smiled slightly despite the discomfort it caused to her swollen and bruised face. She had to hurry if she wanted to stop Akemi from destroying Xena.
The bard hooked the chakram to her belt as she stood slowly and grimaced against the pain the movement caused. "Get over it Gabrielle." She chastised herself. "Just think about the pain Xena will go through if you fail." A flashback of her beloved's headless body littered with arrows filled her mind. Gabrielle took all the hurting and anguish and pushed it deep down inside. She didn't have time to be slowed down by such things, Xena needed her, whether the warrior knew it or not.
"Can we stop, I need to rest." Akemi complained. She really didn't want to delay her trip home, but she also didn't want to arrive there unprepared to face her father.
Xena sighed in irritation. "We're almost there, Akemi."
"I know. Just for a minute, Xena. Please." She gave the Warrior Princess one of her best pleading looks.
"Fine. But just for a few minutes." Xena leaned against a tree as Akemi sat down on a log. The warrior was deep in thought about Gabrielle and wondering what the young woman was doing. Xena hoped she was okay.
"Xena. Uh, I was really scared when Gabrielle tried to take me away from you, I felt so defenseless against her. Do you think you could teach me your pinch move so I can protect myself next time."
"Huh. What?" Xena was a little bemused at having been brought back from thinking of Gabrielle.
Akemi tried to keep the frustration she was feeling towards Xena out of her tone. "I was asking if you would teach me your pinch technique so I can use it to defend myself."
Xena frowned. "I don't know Akemi. I think I could teach you some basic blocks and attacks that would be of more use to you."
"But I really want you to teach me the other technique, Xena. I want to know what you do."
"Okay." The warrior finally conceded. "Put your fingers here..."
Gabrielle had pushed herself harder when she'd seen the house come into view, she only hoped she would be on time. As she approached, she saw one of the paper doors had been ripped through. "No. Please don't let me be too late." The sound of fighting inside gave her a renewed sense of hope.
Akemi allowed Xena to occupy her father's men while she went in for the kill. She stalked towards her stunned father when she heard an odd, whizzing sound. Akemi turned to see what it was when a searing pain tore across her throat. She dropped to her knees as her hands instinctively gripped her neck as she tried to stop the flow of warm blood that gushed from the wound and soaked her chest. The dying woman caught a glimpse of Gabrielle holding the bloody weapon in her hand. Akemi attempted to cry out to Xena, but found herself unable to. She knew she'd been beaten. Her lifeless body collapsed to the ground.
Gabrielle watched Akemi go towards her father and knew she needed to act quickly or risk losing Xena and the 40,000 other souls. She skillfully grabbed the round weapon from her belt and launched it at her target. The bard watched in both horror and relief as the chakram hit its mark and then ricocheted off a vase before returning to her. She looked down at the blood-stained weapon in her hand and then at Akemi who was clutching her own throat, blood running through her fingers.
With a turn of her head, Gabrielle saw Xena finishing off the last of her opponents and noted Akemi's father hurrying away. Then the blond returned her attention to her victim. Akemi was now starring straight at her, although Gabrielle wasn't sure the mortally wounded woman could actually see her.
"I want my life back." The bard announced as she watched her enemy collapse to the ground.
Gabrielle sat beside the campfire and noted she'd been returned to the point of time it had all began. She gazed up thoughtfully at the colored ribbons of light that drifted across the night sky. "Looking out at the cosmos makes you think. About where we are, where we've been, where we're going now."
The figure next to her shifted and Xena pushed herself up onto her elbows and regarded her soul mate reflectively. "Yeah, and the bigger now. I mean, Gabrielle, what are we going to do? Wander around Greece our whole lives looking for trouble." The warrior paused a moment. "Why don't we go away, far away. What do you say?"
Gabrielle smiled at her soul mate. "I can't believe you're awake, much less listening to me." She teased.
Xena leaned closer to her partner. "Let's go south, to the land of the Pharaohs. I heard they're in need of a girl with a chakram.
Gabrielle sat silently as she waited to hear the rustling in the bushes that had announced the monk's arrival, and the beginning of the end the last time this scene had played out.
The sound of her beating heart was almost deafening to her as she strained her ears for any sign that she had not changed the past and was doomed to repeat it. But Gabrielle heard nothing but blessed silence mixed in with the noise of insects and nighttime creatures going about their lives.
Xena viewed the pensive look on Gabrielle's face and frowned. "If that's not what you want Gabrielle that's okay, maybe we can..."
"No." Gabrielle interrupted as she took Xena's larger hand into her own. "That's sounds like a great plan." She leaned over and kissed her soul mate. "I love you, Xena."
Xena smiled lovingly at her bard. "I love you too Gabrielle, and I always will."
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