Written by ?

Disclaimers: the characters of Xena, Gabrielle and all the others belong to MCA/Renaissance. This is a work made only for fun and not for profit.

Violence: well, when we talk about Xena...

Subtext: see about violence.

Rating: PG-13 due to violence and subtext implied.

Sex: absolutely NO (I'm sorry).

Any comment, may be sent to ?

As you will surely have supposed, this is another alternative ending to "A friend in need 1 & 2 ". I have to make a statement: I live in ? and, we have not seen the sixth series episodes (and I don't know if we will see it due to censorship and bad time scheduling) so, all I know about the end, I've learned it through news, spoilers and so on through the internet. However, I have wanted to imagine an alternative ending.

Okay, let's begin with the show...


It was raining hard. A knock on the door, quickly followed by another one woke them. They went down to the living room and, after the husband took up a sword, they opened the door. She was standing there, crying and holding a baby in her arms. They could not believe to what they were seeing "Hey - said the wife - come in and have a seat". The blonde woman entered the room and took a chair. She was still crying. The man patted his wife on harm "What in Hades is going on?" "I don't know my dear. But, if we ask her, I think she will tell us all". The blond woman sighed, "She is my daughter. I can't hold her with me on mount Olympus because Zeus doesn't want any mortal. I had a relationship with a man I have never seen again. And she has born. Zeus told me that I could choose between keeping her with me but I would have to renounce to my godly powers and live between the mortals and remaining on mount Olympus but I have to renounce to my daughter" "From what I see - said the man - I suppose you have chosen to stay on mount Olympus. How can you renounce your daughter?" "It's not an easy choice. If I stay with her, I would left the hole world without the power of love to balance the power of war and you surely know my brother" she started crying again. She took off a leather strap and she neared her baby to a breast. The sucking rumours of the newborn filled the room. The blonde woman waited till her son finished feeding and, giving her to the other woman stood up "Please - she was crying - take care of her" she disappeared.

On Mount Fujii.

"No, it is not right, Xena. You've paid enough with your suffering. Borias, Solon, Marcus Your parents. Why, why has it to be this way?" Gabrielle watched her friend, her eyes filled with tears, which she didn't fought back "Gabrielle, please try to understand. I've killed Yodoshi and the 40,0000 souls are free from him but, in order to what happened in Higuchi a long time ago, I have to stay here so the souls can be avenged" the warrior princess was desperately trying to fight the tears back from her eyes. Gabrielle was still holding the urn with the warrior princess' ashes near the fount "Xena, it doesn't have to be this way. I can't bear loosing you" "Gabrielle, you'll not loose me. I will always by your side. Even in death, I will never leave you" said Xena. They seated contemplating the sunset. Slowly, Xena's form begun to fade. Gabrielle cried till she was exhausted then, she fell in a restless sleep.

She woke up the next morning in a room. Xena was near her "Gabrielle..." "No. Don't you dare to justify your actions Xena" "Gabrielle, listen. The needs of the many, out ware the needs of the few, or one" "Oh gods - said Gabrielle sarcastically - when did you become so philosophical?" "It's not philosophy Gabrielle" "NO, you are right. It's not philosophy. It's your stupid and idiot sense of honour. Why is that you've always got to take the weight of the whole world on your shoulders Xena?" the warrior princess remained silent. Gabrielle looked at the ghost of her friend. She saw sorrow and desperation in those blue eyes...Oh Xena, I've made you suffering another time. How can I be so blind? How couldn't I see the desperation in your eyes when you told me 'I can't come back'? How can you bear all this suffering and remain with me? She thought. Xena looked back at her friend "Gabrielle, you are the best thing that could happen in my life. I understand that you've not accepted my death yet but you will have to do it if you will be able to live. Do you remember what did I say to you on mount Fujii? I said that I would have always stayed by your side. It's real my friend. I will always be with you" Gabrielle run to her friend and hugged her "Please forgive me Xena. I'm selfish. I was only thinking for me and..." "No Gabrielle - Xena caressed her friend's hair - it's all right. Don't worry my friend. I understand your behaviour" the two women looked in each other's eyes. Gabrielle smiled back: it was the first time since Xena's death "You know, I've just thought about your state" "And?" asked Xena "And I think you are lucky. At least you will not have to hear 'Joxer the mighty, master in geography...'Gods. I've dreamed about him last night. His song was in my head all night long. It was like being in Tartarus no, Tartarus would have been a prize" Xena laughed back "Hey, You can't talk about Joxer in this way. He saved your life. He was a good and loyal friend" "I know - said Gabrielle - I was only joking." Gabrielle took up all her belongings: the urn, the chakram and a saddlebag with the scrolls where she was going to write the events of her trip to Japan and went to say goodbye to the monks.

In the temple of Aphrodite. Greece.

Gabrielle entered the temple of the goddess of love. She put the saddlebag and the chakram down, keeping the urn with Xena's ashes in her hands "Aphrodite, please show you. I need your help" there was no response. She tried again "Please, oh mighty goddess of love. I need you" "Boo!" Gabrielle jumped and turned back. Aphrodite appeared in a glitter "Gabrielle, what's the matter?" Gabrielle put the urn on a stone "That's the problem" said indicating it. Aphrodite watched the urn then, looked back at Gabrielle "You mean the urn is the problem? I'm sorry little one but, I don't understand" "You know. Xena is..." the tears begun forming again in Gabrielle's eyes. Aphrodite suddenly understood and put her hand on her mouth "Oh my, you mean she's..." "Yes. She is dead. That urn with her ashes, is all it remains of her" she begun crying. Aphrodite hugged Gabrielle tightly "No little one. No. Don't cry. Do you think she's happy seeing you crying like this?" "Aphrodite. I know she will not be happy but I can't live without her. I can't. It' like...Oh Hades. I can't explain it" Aphrodite looked her "There is no need to explain what you fell, Gabrielle. You love her" "Of course I do - said the blonde woman back - she was my best friend" "Don't joke with me warrior bard. It does not work. I mean that you are..." Gabrielle blushed "What is it Gabrielle? There's nothing to be ashamed of. It's a natural sentiment" "I don't know what to say Aphrodite. When I first saw her. I felt a strange thing that I could not explain. I decided to follow her. I felt that we were destined to be together" she shook her head smiling sadly "Gabrielle, I don't think I can help you. I'm sorry. I can't bring her back to life" "But there has to be a way. I can't bear to live without her. There has to be a way" Gabrielle took her head in her hands "I was on mount Fujii. I was near the fount, which could have brought her back to life. All I had to do was to put her ashes in the water and she would have been with me again" "What happened? Why didn't she come back?" " Because she told me that the 40,000 souls which she fought for, were free from Yodoshi but, she had to stay dead in order to avenge them for her sins" "Gabrielle, I know that it's hard to you but, can you tell me what exactly happened? Maybe I can suggest you something" Gabrielle sighed "All right. We have received a message, which came from Japan..."

It took two candle marks for Gabrielle to say it all. Aphrodite listened her, caressing her hair to comfort the bard, which often interrupted herself crying desperately. Aphrodite hugged her tightly crying herself too I f you only knew my little one, you would probably send me away and you would be right. I wish it could have been different...She took Gabrielle and put her to bed. Pulling the blanket over her. She watched her and begun singing a lullaby "What an incredible vision: mother and daughter finally together after all these years" his voice was unmistakable "Okay brother, just show yourself" said Aphrodite. He appeared in a puff of smoke and light "I was going to pay you a visit and when I arrived I saw you singing so..." "So you have discovered my secret" "Oh no, my little sister. I have always known it" Aphrodite watched her daughter, who seemed peacefully sleeping "I don't deserve her, I know but when she came here and she told me about Xena..." "What happened to Xena?" asked an astonished Ares "Hey brother, don't you tell me you don't know she's dead" it looked like Mjiolnir, Thor's hammer, had hit Ares in his chest. He remained silent, no word came out of his mouth "Look, see that urn over there?" Aphrodite pointed at the urn, which was standing on a stone. Ares nodded with his head "Good. It's all remains of Xena. Her ashes". He laughed back "You are joking" "Oh do you think so? Do you want I wake up her - she nodded to Gabrielle - so she can tell you the entire story?" a tear fault from Ares' eyes. Aphrodite neared her brother pattering him on his right shoulder "She had to fight an evil spirit, a soul eater named Yodoshi but, she had to die to do so. She fought him and, of course she won. Forty thousand souls were free from Yodoshi' but not from Xena's sins so she had to stay dead so that these souls could have been avenged" "What happened?" Aphrodite told Ares the story as like as Gabrielle told her. He stood still then he waved his hand and disappeared I in the same manner as he came: in a puff of smoke and light.

"Why didn't you tell me?" Aphrodite turned back: Gabrielle was awake and was looking at the goddess of love. There was sadness, confusion and rage in her eyes "Gabrielle, I would..." "You would what? You have renounced me and now, after my friend's death and after I have pleaded you for helping me to bring her back to life, you came out telling me that you are my mother? Well mother, let me ask you a thing: where in Hades were you when we were suffering? When I was shot back by a Persian dart? Where were you when I was dying in Thessalia? Where were you when I was dying on a cross? Where were you when I was crying on the ship, which was carrying me home, and I was alone without Xena without someone to comfort me?" Gabrielle picked up her belongings and went for the exit of the temple "Please honey, let me try to explain" Aphrodite kneeled down in front of her daughter holding the hands like in act of prayer. Gabrielle looked at the goddess who revealed to be her real mother. She saw all the pain, all the sorrow, all the desperation that a mother could express with a look but she didn't care "Don't you dare, so called mother. If you really cared for me, you could have come out a long time ago. Farewell" Gabrielle shifted her mother and went away. She didn't see her mother sobbing and crying.

She leaned her back along a tree, her eyes red from the tears which fallen freely since when she left Aphrodite's temple She is my mother. She renounced me and now she comes back pleading me to let her to can she claim my forgiveness? She left me alone for all this time and...her thoughts were suddenly interrupted by the touch of a ghostly hand "Gabrielle, you are probably making the worst mistake of her life" she turned back and saw Xena beside her "How can you say that? How can you know what does it fell like to be renounced?" a slap made her head turn form side to side "Don't you dare to address your mother in this way! She has renounced you. That's true but did you let her explain why had to do so?" Gabrielle lowered her head: Xena was right "I don't know what to do Xena. I've lost you and now, Aphrodite comes out telling me that she is my real mother. How am I supposed to feel right now?" "I guess you should feel sad and confused" answered the warrior princess.

A puff of smoke announced his arriving "Great. As I haven't had enough of a god, here comes another one" said Gabrielle. Ares stood still: he was looking his nephew, reading confusion, sadness and shame in her eyes "There's nothing more to add to what Xena has just said you. I only want to say this. If anything should happen to my sister related to you, you better prepare to face my rage, Gabrielle. You have mistreated your mother, you did not give her a chance to explain why did she do this to you" Gabrielle kneeled down and took her head in her hands crying. She wanted to come back to the temple and beg her mother for forgiveness but she was afraid of doing it "Gabrielle - Xena kneeled near her friend - what's the matter? Why don't you come back to the temple and talk to her?" "I can' t Xena. I'm so ashamed of what I've just done her that I'm afraid if I come back she will send me away" "Honey, I would never do it. How can you think I would send you away?" they all turned to Aphrodite which was standing in front of Gabrielle "I'd like to have some privacy. I've got to talk with my daughter" she said to Ares and Xena. The god of war and the warrior princess disappeared. Mother and daughter stood silent for a long time, looking in the eye of each other. Finally Aphrodite lift her daughter up and hold her tightly, crying and sobbing "I'm sorry my dear. I'm so sorry that you don't ever have an idea. Can you forgive me?" "Aph...Mother, there's nothing to forgive. You've had to take a decision. You've taken it and, you've accepted the consequences of your act that were the renounce of your daughter" "Gabrielle, believe me, I would have never have to make a terrible decision like that" "Mother, can you tell me the whole story?" Gabrielle and Aphrodite seated down one near the other.

"And that's all. I have always taken a look on your progresses. I have always watched you growing up and becoming such a beautiful woman, with a heart so great and so kind. It does not surprise me you have made Xena fall in love with you" Gabrielle blushed "What is it honey? It's so obvious that even my brother would be able to see it and, believe me, there's nothing to be ashamed of" said Aphrodite "Mother - Gabrielle took her mother's hands in hers - I know but, I'm afraid that if I tell Xena what I feel for her..." "She will send you away, isn't it?" Gabrielle nodded "Well, there is a possibility but, I can assure you that it won't be so. She feels the same feelings that you feel and she is in the same situation" "Mother, you are telling me that you have..." "Oh no honey. I don't work like this even if I would be able to do it. I only do the little things such as you met Xena when Draco's army raided your village, making you been stubborn and telling her that you've always wanted to travel to known the whole world, you've told her she needed a friend and so on. The remaining part, is up to you" "Mother, you mean that it's due to me if Xena..." "Has fallen in love with you? Yes, little one. That's it," said Aphrodite laughing.

"Ares, you knew that Gabrielle was..." "Aphrodite's daughter? Yes. Aphrodite had a story with a man and Gabrielle came to life but, as she was the son of a mortal and a goddess, due to a word that Zeus made a long time ago, Aphrodite was not allowed to keep her daughter on mount Olympus so, she had to make a choice: she could have lived with her daughter but she would have to renounce her godly powers or, she could have kept her godly powers and..." "Leave her daughter," said Xena. The god of war nodded and went on "Aphrodite went in a village and had to entrust her daughter to a couple of mortals named Hecuba and Herodotus. They lived in Potidea. The remaining part, is a well known story"

"Mother, did you found something that can help me to bring Xena back to life?" "Well, when you went away, I've given a look to my private library. I've found something about Japanese laws and traditions and I've discovered something that's very interesting" Gabrielle's face light up with hope "Mother, you mean that..." "Yes. There is a possibility that Xena could come back to a flesh and blood body but, I have a condition to pose" "Mother, tell me what have I got to do. I will do everything in my power to have her back with me and, I swear you that if I had to give my life so that I can live with her by my side as a soul mate even for only a moment, well I would not think twice about it. I would do it" Aphrodite stood still: her daughter was really in love with Xena. The look in her eyes was a confirmation "Well, as you've told me it before, there's no condition to pose. I have just told you that I have found something about Japan. Well, I have thought about what you told me of your travel and, I think that your beloved Xena has been tricked" Gabrielle could not believe her mother's words "Wh...wh...what?" "I said that Xena has been tricked. I will try to be as clear as I can: someone lied her" Gabrielle thought back to when se was on mount Fujii and a tear rolled down on her cheek "You mean that it was unnecessary that she..." "Yes darling. It was unnecessary that she has to stay dead. Someone has planned to convince Xena that she has to stay dead for the redemption of the souls or to avoid the punishment for this situation" "Akemi!" shouted Gabrielle. Aphrodite nodded "Yes Gabrielle. It's been Akemi" "But, how did she..." "According to Japanese laws and traditions, if you kill one of your parents or friend in way that's not the honourable one, you will be cursed by your parents and by everyone that knows you" "I don't understand mother" "Of course you don't. There's something more. You have told me that, Xena burned the town of Higuchi, did you?" Gabrielle nodded "Well, when Akemi died, she asked Xena to put the urn with her ashes in family's mausoleum but, due to what I have told you, Akemi killed her father Yodoshi which became the soul eater, it was not allowed to put the ashes of a cursed person in her family's mausoleum. She was cursed by all the people, which lived in Higuchi. They acted exactly like Akemi had planned. Xena was drunk, she become furious and the rest is history. Xena burned down the town of Higuchi..." Gabrielle stood still: Xena was innocent and had to pay for someone other "Mother, it's not right. It doesn't have to be this way. There must be a solution. Mother, I love Xena and I don't want to spend the rest of my life with her at my side like a ghost. Every time she fades in the sunset it's like she dies again. You don't know what does it feel like" Aphrodite hold her daughter "Gabrielle, there is one possibility. You have to travel back to Japan and you have to convince Akemi to take her responsibilities for the events. She will have to confess her crimes" "Mother, it wont be easy to do so" "What is it? Are you saying you're going to give up fighting for the woman you love honey?" "Mother, she will never admit her responsibilities for what she has done" "Gabrielle, honey - Aphrodite took her daughter's hands in hers - you've got an invincible weapon that can make the difference" "You mean the chakram?" "No - said Aphrodite - I mean that you have got an incredible talkativeness and that will be your weapon. You will have to resort to it if you want have Xena back at your side" "I would die for her, mother and I swear you that she would have done the same for me" "I know darling, I know" said Aphrodite.

"Xena, where are you? We need to talk" "Gabrielle, I'm here" the blonde demigod turned to her friend's ghostly form "Xena, what would you say if I could bring you back to life or at least if I would have a possibility to do it?" "Gabrielle, I think I've been clear. I have to..." "Damn it Xena! Can't you see I can't bear to live without you by mi side?" "Gabrielle, I've told you on the ship that wherever you would have gone I would have always been by your side" "I know it Xena but, I can't bear a life like this. I can't bear having you only half a day; I can't bear seeing you fading away in the sunset. It's like seeing you die every day. Xena, you are the most important person in my life, I..." her mouth continued to move but no word came out from it. Xena stood still: she understood what Gabrielle was trying to say but she didn't want to believe it. It was too beautiful to be true "Gabrielle what is it? What do you want to say and you can't?" Xena caressed her friend's cheek "Xena, when I first saw you in Potidea I felt a strange feeling: when you went away I followed you because I felt that my destiny was to be at your side. During our travels a strong friendship between you and me was born and, as we travelled together, I felt that this friendship was becoming something more..."Xena could not believe what she was hearing "I have always hided these feelings because I thought that if you knew what I Felt for you, you would have sent me away" tears begun to flow freely from Xena's eyes. They were tears of joy, of happiness "Gabrielle, I had the same feelings for you too for a long time and like you I was afraid that you would have sent me away if I would have told what I felt for you" Xena hold her friend tightly "I have waited so long for these words from you Gabrielle. Every day I watched you smiling, crying and telling me your stories I felt my heart melting and when I died in Japan, the last word I said was your name. I cried your name when I saw the blade descending on my neck. I was not afraid of dying. I was terrified that I would have never been with you but luckily, we can be together even if for half a day" "Xena, even if there is no need to say, I love you and I always will and I will try everything in my power to bring you back. Do you understand it?" they looked in each other's eyes "Gabrielle, I love you but I'm so scared of loosing you" "Xena, it's going to be all right, believe me. We will make it through and you will come back to life again"

"What is it Ares? Is there something wrong?" "Well - the god of war was looking Xena and Gabrielle - I can say that I've seen what does the word 'love' means for the first time in my eternal life" "Ares, don't joke with me. You've seen the way they look at each other so many times and now you came out telling me this incredible amount of bullshit? Try this trick with anther one" "Okay, okay. You are right. I've seen their looks but I've refused to accept it but now after seeing this, I've finally accepted it but I'm afraid that they will have..." Aphrodite looked at her daughter, who was resting her head on Xena's shoulder "You mean that it will be hard for Gabrielle to convince Akemi?" "Yes. I'm afraid that she will have to fight for Xena" "What in Hades do you mean, brother? Explain yourself" "Well, do you remember when I went to the temple?" "You mean when I was singing a lullaby?" "Yes. I went away and I've made a little trip to the land of the spirits in Japan. I had to disguise myself. I've talked with one of the 40,000 souls and I was told that Xena was forgiven for what she has done. It was also told me that Akemi told them that Xena has decided to stay dead for their complete redemption. I want to say that they don't think that Xena was guilty for burning down the town of Higuchi even if she technically did it. She did so because she was drunk and she was going to keep the promise she made to Akemi" "Ares, why did you do this?" asked the goddess of love "Well, as I have said before, I've accepted that they are made for each other and, as Gabrielle is my only nephew well, I can't..." "I can't what?" Aphrodite was smiling "Hey, it's hard for me to say it and you're not making it easy acting like this" "I'm sorry brother - said the goddess of love - go on" "Well, as I was saying, she is my nephew and I can't bear seeing her suffering. I want to do everything is in my godly power to make her and her soul mate happy" "Ares - Aphrodite couldn't believe to what she just heard - I don't know what to say" "Well, you could say thank you at least" he said.

She was looking at her soul mate. Her blue eyes were full of tears made by the happiness of coming back to life. Gabrielle run to her smiling and crying too "Oh Xena, I've waited so much for this moment. I can't believe you are back to life," she said. They looked in each other's eyes. Xena took her friend's head in her hands "I've waited this moment for too long, Gabrielle" "Me too" said the blonde warrior bard. Their lips for an endless time... "Honey, wake up, wake up" Gabrielle opened her eyes and saw her mother which was smiling "Oh mother. I've had a dream so beautiful. Xena was back to life and she was kissing me" "Well honey, it's up to you to make this dream become reality," said Aphrodite smiling. Gabrielle stood up and took her belongings "Mother, I'm ready" "Gabrielle, I can only make you go to Japan in a quickly way. I would be able to help you but I can't. I'm sorry" "There is no need to be sorry mother. You have helped me. You've discovered that Xena is innocent by saying me all these things about Japanese laws and traditions. If it wasn't for you I don't think I would have been able..." "Gabrielle, you are my daughter. It was the slightest thing that I could do for you" "I love you mother," said Gabrielle holding Aphrodite "I know Honey, I know. Now go and come back with your soul mate," said Aphrodite.

A flash of light and the Sais appeared. Gabrielle and her mother stood still unable to say anything "Hey Gabrielle, at least you could thank me" his voice was unmistakable "I've already got my Sais. I don't need another two" "Oh do you think so? Gabrielle - he appeared - these Sais are special. You can use them either in the spirit or in the living world" he disappeared as fast as he appeared. Gabrielle looked back at her mother "It's his way of acting, darling. He cares about you but he doesn't want to admit it. He told me that he thinks you and Xena are perfectly made for each other but don't tell this to him. He's too pride to admit it" said the goddess of love. Gabrielle walked to the center of the temple "Are you ready?" asked Aphrodite. Gabrielle nodded. The goddess of love waved her hands and everything around Gabrielle become light.

She opened her eyes. She was near the temple on mount Fuji. Kenjii saw her approaching "I knew you would have come back Gabrielle" "You are right Kenjii. I have come back for my friend. I have discovered she is innocent and does not have to stay in the spirit world" "Gabrielle, Do you know it will be hard? Do you know what will you have to do?" "Yes Kenjii, I know" "Well, if you are so decided, then so be it. Come with me" they walked through various corridors till they reached a large room "We will make the ritual tomorrow morning on behalf of Amaterasu, goddess of the sun. You will have to rest for this night so that you will be at your best tomorrow. I will bring you a potion that will help you to relax and sleep," said Kenjii.

She woke up at first rays of light. Gabrielle put on the dresses that Kenjii gave her the evening before and waited for the young monk. Kenjii arrived and saw her waiting "Are you ready Gabrielle?" she nodded "Good. Come with me" they went in the central room of the temple. A large altar was placed in the center. Gabrielle put the urn with the ashes of Xena on it "Xena. The moment has come my friend" said. She went back to Kenjii "Gabrielle, you will have to kneel down here in front of the altar and, you will have to join your hand as if you were in an act of prayer" she did what she was told to do. Kenjii neared the altar and lift his arms up in the sky. He said some words in a strange language. It was a ritual to obtain the protection of Amaterasu. Gabrielle felt like flying away: she saw her body and everything went blank.

She was in a forest, which immediately recognized: it was the place where Xena has fought her last battle. She remembered those moments: Xena's body butchered hung on a pole, her head on a plate like a grim trophy. Gabrielle quickly dismissed those thoughts from her memory. She felt Xena's hand on her shoulder "Those moments are over, Gabrielle. You've got other things to think about" "I know Xena but, when I remember those moments..."she cried. Xena hold her friend tightly caressing her hair "Don't cry Gabrielle, don't cry. It's all right" "I know Xena but, when I remember those moments. You can't imagine what I felt like. When I saw your body, your head...I immediately thought it was a dream. The worst of all then, when I approached and touched you it was like the entire world was falling down on me. I can't explain what I felt in those moments. I can't" "Gabrielle, I know that it's still hard for you to accept that I'm here with you in a ghostly form but you have to do it. And, you have to be able to take all these memories and throw it all away. You have told me, in the temple of Aphrodite that you would have tried everything to bring me back. Didn't you?" "Yes Xena. I did" the warrior princess nodded and smiled "Good but, if you want to do so, you have to focus on this objective and, to obtain this, you have to clean your memory. Of course I don't mean that you have to act like all these things never happened but, you can't allow that these memories take control over your mind, and your actions" Gabrielle looked her friend "I love you Xena" was all she simply said.

They walked through the forest till evening "I think it's time to set up a camp "" I will go hunting. Will you prepare the fire?" "Yes Xena" Gabrielle made a circle with some stones. She quickly light up the fire. Xena went back after some time with two rabbits. She skinned the two animals and put them on two so-called spears. Gabrielle cooked the rabbits. They ate in silence; the only sounds were the rumours of the wild animals and insects.

"It's like the old times," said Xena. Gabrielle smiled "Yes. Like old times" she took one of Xena's hands in hers. She was starting to say something but the tears stopped her words "Gabrielle, what is it? Please tell me. I don't want to see you crying: I can' bear to see your beautiful eyes and your beautiful face ruined by tears" Gabrielle remained astonished "Xena, these are the most beautiful and sweet words I've ever heard from you" "Well - the warrior princess, oddly thing this one for a ghost, blushed - you know, there is always a first time" Xena took Gabrielle's face in her hands and gently kissed her. It was the beginning, and it led to something other.

Gabrielle woke up with a wonderful dream: she was lying on the ground tightly embraced with Xena. She turned her head back and saw her friend sleeping...Oh my... have we...she thought. Xena opened her eyes and saw the beautiful image of her soul mate in her arms "Hey" "Hey yourself" replied Gabrielle. The warrior princess traced a line with a finger on Gabrielle's right shoulder "Gabrielle, I've waited for this moment for so long" she said "Xena, it's the same for me. You don't even have an idea. However, I have to admit that I was a little scared" "Why were you scared Gabrielle?" "I have never made love to a man or a woman a ghost" "Well - said Xena laughing -you could say you have taken two pigeons with one broad bean. You have made love either to a woman and a ghost" "The woman and the ghost of my dreams- said Gabrielle with a wonderful smile- I love you Xena" "So do I Gabrielle" It was Gabrielle who took the initiative: she brushed Xena's lips with hers. They stood for a long time exploring and flavouring each other's tongues. Finally was Gabrielle who broke contact "Whoaaa! Let me regain strength," said the strawberry blond bard. Xena watched her friend: it was so wonderful, so beautiful but... "Xena, what is it? What's the matter?" "I was just thinking about what happened between us. You were scared and I was too" "Xena you're telling me that you have never made love to a woman?" "No, no - said Xena - I have been with women before but, I used it to release my tension after a battle. Sometimes I took women in presence of other people but, some springs ago a thing happened me" "What happened?" asked Gabrielle "You happened. You have been like a ray of light in my dark life. Gabrielle, what happened between us was making love and not only sex. Do you understand what I'm trying to say?" the answer was the tears from Gabrielle's eyes.

They dressed up and resumed walking "What do you think Akemi will do Xena?" "I don't know Gabrielle. She will surely have known that we discovered that she is guilty for the events happened in Higuchi and she will try her best to make you fall from your proposal" "She can try but I don't think she will be able to do it" "Gabrielle, you have to convince Akemi to take my place to avenge the deaths in Higuchi. It won't be easy. She will certainly refuse to do it." "Xena, when my mother accepted to help me, she posed a condition. I said her that I would have accepted every condition you were too important for me. I said her 'if I have to give my life to live a moment with her by my side as a soul mate I would do it'. I don't want to break that oath Xena and I will do everything to keep it" "Why? Tell me Gabrielle, why did we found ourselves so late?" "I don't know Xena, I don't' know but, the most important thing is that now you are here with me as a ghost for now and in flesh and blood shortly" Xena hugged her friend "I love you Gabrielle" "I love you too Xena".
They walked through the teahouse "I felt her presence Xena she is here. I must go" "Please, be careful Gabrielle. Akemi will try everything to trick you" "She will fail Xena. I would pay a too high price if I should fall. I would loose my soul mate. I would loose you. Have faith my friend: I will make it through".


Gabrielle walked through the forest. She hold her Sais and her chakram tightly "Well, I knew you would have come back, stupid blonde" "You are right. I have been a stupid. I've discovered you're guilty when it was too late; at least that's what I thought. I have found a way to make my friend come back and I swear you that I will try everything to succeed" said Gabrielle "Gabrielle, you have to convince me to take Xena's place. I have NO intentions to do it" Akemi appeared through the mist. The two women stood in silence for a long time then Gabrielle walked to Akemi "I don't want to fight. I just want to talk. I just want to understand" "There is nothing to understand, Gabrielle. If I can't have Xena, then nobody will" "You are jealous. You can't bear she doesn't love you the way you would" "Yes. I can't bear it" "Akemi, I know you've suffered a lot but, I don't think this is the right way to resolve things. Your father has mistreated you, and I understand your rage against him but I don't justify your way of killing him. You should have killed him in a honourable way if you wanted it" Akemi didn't say a word "I understand your feelings Akemi. I feel you're thinking that you've done the wrong thing" "Shut up Gabrielle, you don't even have an idea of what I am feeling" "No Akemi, you are wrong. I can see through your heart. I can see you would like to make amends for your mistakes but you don't know how. There are two ways" Akemi looked at Gabrielle: she saw the determination and an incredible love for Xena in those green emeralds eyes. She understood she was incredibly wrong. She didn't have the right to keep Xena in that place "Gabrielle, assuming you are right. What should I have to do?" "You can take Xena's place or, you have to ask for forgiveness from her, from me, from all the people who suffered for your actions including your father Yodoshi" "My father deserved to die" "You're probably right Akemi but, have you ever asked him why did he behave that way? Maybe, he would have told you it" "I have never thought about it. I was so blind because of my rage that I have only thoughts of revenge by killing him. I have asked Xena to teach me everything she knew about the way of killing my father - tears begun to flow from Akemi's eyes - in order to make him pay for my sufferings. I swear you I didn't know that he would have become the soul eater Yodoshi. I only wanted him to pay for what he has done to me" she kneeled in front of Gabrielle "Gabrielle please help me. I want to make amend for all these things and I swear you I'm ready to face all the consequences" "Akemi - Gabrielle took the young girls' hands in hers - I will help you. That's what friends are for" "Friend? You mean that you..." "Yes Akemi, I forgive you with all my heart" Gabrielle embraced her.

"Yes. You should have seen her. I took her head in my hands and I watched her hair. She asked me if she was loosing hair. I said 'no, you've got loose'. You should have seen her face," said Gabrielle laughing, "Gabrielle, I want to thank you. You have showed me a different way for resolving things" Xena appeared in front of the two women "Xena - Akemi stood up - I can't say you how much I am sorry for what you have suffered" she lowered her head "I was so blind for my rage against my father and for my jealousy for Gabrielle that I didn't see there was another way to resolve problems. What have I obtained? You are suffering, I am suffering, Gabrielle is suffering, and my father is suffering too. I am the only guilty for these things. I can only beg your forgiveness, if you will give me it" "Akemi, if I would have been you, I would have done the same things. You were blind due to the rage for your sufferings; I was blind due to the hate for Caesar and the people in Higuchi so I did what I did. Let's all forget these things: I forgive you with all my heart Akemi" they looked in each other's eyes then Akemi run to Xena and hugged her "I'm sorry Xena, I'm so sorry. I lied you and now you have to stay dead" she said crying "Akemi, I believe that there will be a way for me to come back in a flesh and blood body. I will find it with the help of Gabrielle, of course" Akemi turned to Gabrielle "I don't know what to say" "Well don't say nothing. I have forgiven you Akemi. Even if when I arrived here in Japan I was so blind with my rage for you but when I saw you something strange happened. It was like a flash of light went through my mind and my heart. I immediately understood that I had to take Xena back by using words. Words of love and forgiveness. I also had to understand why did you do those horrible things to your father and to my soul mate. I did it and I forgave you. Now go and rest in peace my friend" she hugged Akemi then went to Xena "may you find the love that you deserve" were the last words that Akemi said before fading in a shimmering light. Gabrielle turned to her friend, tears falling form her eyes "We did it, Xena! We did it" "No Gabrielle, there is another person who will need our forgiveness" "What are you saying? I have..."she understood what Xena was saying "You mean that I have to forgive Yodoshi" "No Gabrielle, you will have to forgive him" Xena pointed at a space on Gabrielle's left side. A flame ball materialized and vanished: in its place remained a glass sphere. Gabrielle saw Xena's last moments of life. She stood still when she saw a samurai's katana cutting her friend's head off then taking hit by her hair and showing it to the other samurai warriors as a grim trophy "Xena, you mean I have to forgive the man who killed you" "Yes. - Said the warrior princess - Your heart was so full of hate for the man who killed me that I was really scared. I thought that you would have come back to Japan for me but for vengeance too" "You were right Xena. I wanted you back but I wanted vengeance too. I was so full of hate that you can never imagine. I wanted to make all the people who made you and me suffering paying inflicting them the same treatment that you had to bear but, luckily, when I saw your eyes in the forest after our first time together, so full of love, I realized that your love for me had to be the only reason for my coming back to Japan" the sphere took a human form and the man who beheaded Xena, the blooding katana still in his hands, was in front of the bard "I have killed and beheaded your friend - he said - but lately, that night, I had the worst nightmare of my life. I saw my actions and the look on your friend's face. I saw fear, terror and suffering. I woke up in the night and I saw her blood still on my hands. I tried to wash it away but I failed. Every time it reappeared. I understood that I did a terrible thing and I had to live all my life with a terrible remorse: it was told me that she was the human form of evil and I have to do everything in my power to kill her. I did it and now I will have an eternal suffer fro my action" he lowered his head. Gabrielle stood in front of him "No. You will not live your life in this world with this eternal suffering. I forgive you. We all were blinded by our rage, our hate, and our fury. Let's all get these things back" she embraced him. He cried.

"How can you forgive him?" Gabrielle turned back and saw Yodoshi in front of her. He was laughing "He had beheaded your friend and you forgive him: I don't understand" "Of course you don't. - Said Gabrielle - You don't understand these feelings because you have locked them deep in the darkest part of your heart but I swear you that you still have them. If you want they will come back and you will learn to love again Yodoshi. Believe me. It's not so hard" Yodoshi watched the blonde girl: he was not be able to understand why, after all these suffering she still had that smile and that happy look on her face "Yodoshi - she said - you have to give yourself an opportunity of loving someone" "Who am I supposed to love?" he asked in a low tone of voice "It's me, father" Yodoshi turned back: in front of him there was Akemi, his daughter "How dare you! How dare you to call me father?" "Father, I can feel that you are still angry with me. I understand it and I can only beg for your forgiveness knowing that it will be hard for you to do so but please, give us a chance. Let's try to love ourselves again before it's too late. Please father, I love you. I can't bear to see you suffering forever" Akemi was kneeled in front of her father crying "If it wasn't for you, I would have never become the soul eater" he said in an angry tone "I know, I know that it's my fault if you are damned forever but please father, listen to me. I think that, if there is a second chance, it' for everyone and therefore, for you too. Please father, it's your daughter, your little Akemi. I'm imploring you. Please, don't let me again. Please forgive me father" Yodoshi looked her daughter. Tears were beginning to form in his eyes. He kneeled in front of her daughter "Even in my darkest days - he said crying - I have always thought of you. I thought how cruel I have been with you and sometimes I found myself crying but, I quickly fought the tears back because the darkest part of my soul always took control of my actions but now, after having seen you crying, little one, I finally understood that I have been wrong. I went mad after your mother died during your bird. I blamed you for her death and I mistreated you every time I have the opportunity to do it. I'm the one who must beg for forgiveness". There was a silence, which you could have touched with your hands. Akemi embraced her father crying and sobbing "Oh father, there is no need for forgiveness. We were all blinded by our rage and our fury. Come on, now that I have met you again - she said smiling - I don't want to lose not even a blink of an eye with you" "It's the same for me, my daughter" said Yodoshi. The former soul eater turned back and looked Xena "No Yodoshi - said the warrior princess smiling - don't say a word. You did nothing to me. It was a cruel soul eater that's now gone forever" Yodoshi and her daughter faded in the light.

Gabrielle looked in Xena's eyes "It's over Xena - she begun crying - it's finally over" she hold her friend "Yes my love - said Xena caressing her soul mate's hair - it's really over" "Xena, I have to come back to the temple. I have to complete the ritual" Xena smiled back at her friend "Gabrielle, you are the best thing that could happen in my life," said the warrior princess kissing her friend passionately. They looked in each other's eyes before that Gabrielle disappeared in a white light.

Gabrielle opened her eyes: Kenjii was kneeling in front of her "From the look on your face Gabrielle, I could say that you've made it through" Yes Kenjii - she said back with tears of joy in her eyes - I've made it through. Now it's time to have Xena back". They walked through the temple till they reached the fount of spring. Gabrielle held the urn with Xena's ashes tightly in her hands. They reached the fount. Kenjii told Gabrielle to put the urn on a little altar near the fount "Now Gabrielle, you will have to ask Amaterasu, goddess of the sun for her presence here at the fount. I must warn you that she will ask you why your friend must come back in a flesh and blood body" "I will tell her everything Kenjii" Gabrielle kneeled near the altar "Amaterasu, oh mighty goddess of the sun, I'm begging you. Please show yourself. I need your help" there was silence followed by a hiss and, in a white blinding light, Amaterasu appeared "My name is Amaterasu, goddess of the sun. Who has called me?" "My name is Gabrielle, bard of Potidea. I've called you oh mighty goddess because I need your help" answered Gabrielle "Tell me, Gabrielle: what can I do for you?" asked Amaterasu "This urn - Gabrielle pointed it - is what remains of my friend. Her name was Xena..." "Xena the conqueror, the destroyer of nations. She was the human form of evil" "Yes, she was. But, she took a hard road to redemption" "And did she gain redemption?" asked the goddess of the sun "Yes she did but, she paid a price that was too high" "Too high for her or, for you?" "It was too high for both of us" answered Gabrielle. The goddess of the sun looked at the blonde woman and, at the ghost, which was behind her "I can feel and see your friend. She is right behind you, Gabrielle" "She told me that she would have never leaved me, even in death" "I don't understand what you want, Gabrielle" Amaterasu had understood from the beginning what Gabrielle wanted but, she wanted to hear it from the bard's voice "Gabrielle, I think I've understood the why of your request for my presence: you want your friend back in a flesh and blood body, don't you?" Gabrielle nodded "Why do you want it?" "It's a long story and I will tell you it. We were called in Japan..."

Gabrielle took three candle marks to tell the whole story to the goddess of the sun. She cried and sobbed in some moments but, every time it happened, she felt Xena's soft hand on her shoulder and her sweet words "Come on my love, I know you can do it, come on". Gabrielle finished her story and held her hands in an act of prayer "Please Amaterasu - she said crying - I need her back by my side. I can't bear living with her like a ghost. Every time I see her fading in the sunset, it's like seeing here dying again. I can't go on living like this. Please Amaterasu, help me to take her back" she held her face in her hands "I fell that there is something more than a simple friendship between you and Xena, is it true, Gabrielle?" "Yes. In these years, my friendship for Xena has become something more. It was something strange that I felt from the first time I saw her in Potidea. I denied it, because I thought that it was bad and nasty but, as the time went on, I understood that it wasn't nasty. It was only pure and unconditioned love. I finally realized that I have fallen in love for my friend" Amaterasu saw the tears from Xena's eyes "I see that your friend feels the same way for you and, I can say that it took a long time for both of you to admit your feelings. Am I right?" both Xena and Gabrielle nodded. The goddess of the sun took the urn with Xena's ashes in her hands. She opened it and said some strange words and threw the ashes into the fountain of spring. Xena's ghostly form was suddenly surrounded by a shimmering golden aura then, she was whole in a flesh and blood body again. Gabrielle stood still: what she has dreamt in so many moons had finally happened. Xena was back again. She stood in front of her friend unable to say a word, due to the joy of what had just happened "There is no love stronger and bigger than yours. - Said the goddess of the sun - Xena, you've willingly accepted to sacrifice yourself, your love for Gabrielle so that those forty thousand souls could be avenged. You did it for the greater good but, you made your friend suffering" "I know - said Xena lowering her head- and I will never forget myself for this" "Xena, you have nothing to be forgiven. You did that thing because you thought that it was the right thing to do" Amaterasu looked at Gabrielle "Gabrielle, your love for Xena, is the most powerful thing I have ever seen. It made you able to do and accept everything to take your friend back, including your supreme sacrifice if it should have been necessary" "Gabrielle - Xena looked at her friend - you..." "Yes Xena. I would have died if it should have been necessary" "I love you Gabrielle" "I love you too Xena". Amaterasu put her hands on Xena and Gabrielle's foreheads "May your love be the guide on your life. Gabrielle, Xena, may your life bring you all the satisfaction you deserve" the two women felt a warm sensation entering their bodies then, the goddess of the sun disappeared.

They woke up the next morning and, after breakfast they went to Kenjii "I can see that you both have found the other half of your soul" said the young monk "Yes" said Xena and Gabrielle in unison. They walked together to the exit of the temple and after having greeted Kenjii they headed for the port. Xena was not able to understand what has jus happened: she was back to life again and, she has finally found what she had not seen in so many springs: the love of her life, the other half of her soul "What is it Xena? What's the matter?" asked Gabrielle "I ...I' m not still able to realize that I'm back" "Oh, I can assure you will" said Gabrielle with a malicious smile. The warrior princess raised an eyebrow "You know Xena, just before my departure for Japan Aphrodite, my mother, gave me this little flask" Gabrielle took the flask from one pocket "It's essence of elder. Do you know its use?" asked maliciously the bard...

                           THE END.

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