Disclaimers: The characters of Xena and Gabrielle are not mine I only borrowed them for a little while no infringement was intended.
The story is mine and may not be reproduced in any format without my permission.
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“By the gods Xena!” Gabrielle said exasperated.
Xena looked over at her partner coolly.
“When is it going to be enough?” she said struggling with tears as she came to kneel beside her best friend. Resting her hand on Xena's shoulders, she tried to force the warrior to maintain eye contact with her to no avail.
“When will what be enough,” Xena asked bitterly even though she knew where her bard was going with this.
“You've been punishing yourself for your past before we even met,” the blond bard said as she stood up angrily to pace. “It's like no matter how much good you do, no matter how many battles you fight for good, for others, it's never enough for you. Every day you wake up and you don't see the hero that everyone else does,” she argued as she stopped pacing to face the haunted expression on Xena's face.
Gabrielle knelt down in front of her this time and took her face in her hands to force her to pay attention for once. What she saw in the warrior's eyes was an expression so bleak that it broke her heart into a million pieces.
“Why is it no matter how many people sing of your exploits, no matter how many scrolls I write detailing how much you've changed and how much good you've done, all you see is your bloody past?” she finished, her voice barely above a whisper.
Jerking her head free of the bard's hands Xena stared determinedly off into space, her eyes bright with the pain of unshed tears as she struggled to remain stoic in the face of the one person who could always see through the facade.
“Xena, please,” Gabrielle pleaded as she openly wept for the woman who would not allow herself to cry. “This has to stop, all the nightmares, the putting yourself through the wringer every time a memory of the past comes up, the blaming yourself for everything. If it doesn't stop then you'll run yourself straight into the ground,”
“Gabrielle,” Xena started still refusing to look at her.
Sitting cross legged next to the leather-clad warrior she waited quietly for Xena to continue even though she knew, with a sinking heart that she had still not gotten through to her.
Xena shifted so that her head was pillowed by the bard's lap as she watched the lake shimmer in the sunlight. Her keen eyes picked out the shadows of fish swimming just under the surface and the animal life all around them not quite hidden in the deep green of the forest. She almost purred with pleasure as Gabrielle stroked her long black hair.
“A couple times, I was almost able to put it behind me,” she started softly, “but no matter what, it never lasts for long. I inflicted so much suffering because of my own hatred and anger,” she said remorsefully as she sat up.
“I can never undo that damage, I can't get back those lives,” she explained haltingly as she searched the bard's green eyes for the understanding she always found and the security that kept her from buckling under the weight of her guilt.
“Xena living half a life won't undo your past either. The dead can hear your thoughts. They know you've changed and that you're sorry.” Gabrielle said as she pulled her partner close to her.
Xena stayed silent as she thought through what Gabrielle said and eventually she went limp with sleep. Shifting them both onto her bedroll Gabrielle cradled the woman who was usually too stoic to be babied. Not for the first time she wished there was a goddess of mercy. Even though she disdained the gods who were forever using them for their petty purposes, she would not have minded praying for the goddess of mercy to take away her friend's pain even if she had to pay a price for it like she had paid to Ares.
The only reason Xena was asleep now she knew, was because the warrior princess had barely slept at all for the past few nights. She'd been restless for close to a moon, pushing herself to do more, help more, to the point of exhaustion only for them to set up camp and then toss and turn in her bedroll all night. The only time she seemed to be having a restful sleep was right now in Gabrielle's arms.
“Wait for me by Aphrodite's temple. I'll go ride up ahead and see if that merchant was right about the pass being blocked,” Xena said.
Gabrielle nodded as she leaned on her staff. She sighed as she watched Xena ride off on Argo, her long black hair flying behind her as she got further away from her. Clad in her usual black leathers she looked gorgeous and formidable, a far cry from a few candle marks ago where the mask slipped to reveal the vulnerable woman underneath.
"Your greatest enemy isn't the warlords or bandits or even your past my dear friend, it's your heart. Your quest for a redemption you won't allow yourself to have will be your undoing and I can't stand back and watch it happen Xena," Gabrielle sighed as she walked into the temple."Gods, there must be something I can do to stop this."
"Actually Gabby there totally is and I'll do it for you in return for one itty bitty little favor." Aphrodite grinned as she appeared in a burst of gold sparkles in front of Gabrielle.
"Aphrodite!" Gabrielle exclaimed as she gave the goddess a hug. "You heard me?"
"I've been hearing you now for about a moon all worried about your bestie. I swear the two of you are just adorable together and a glaring walking advertisement for me," the goddess said delightedly.
"So what can you do to help us?"
"Well today is Remember Me Day. It's really Mnemosyne's day which is like so totally unfair. I mean come on, why does she get a whole day for herself when she's not even that great and I have to share all my days with Cupid," Aphrodite rolled her eyes obviously miffed.
"Aphrodite," Gabrielle said impatiently as she tried to get the goddess back on track.
"Oh right, well even though it's her day and all, since the day is about her essence which you've already experienced, I can do one of her spells. It's like the only time I can tap into her powers for this stuff which is like fine with me because my powers are way better anyway. I mean, duh, look at all this," she giggled as she twirled around gesturing to her temple decorations.
"Yes your temple looks wonderful." Gabrielle said dutifully, "so you can use her spell to take away Xena's guilt?"
"Well I was thinking," Aphrodite's voice trailed off as she focused on something Gabrielle could not see.
"You thinking is probably not such a good idea," Gabrielle muttered under her breath.
Aphrodite shot her a hurt look before snapping her fingers. The book Gabrielle barely caught in time felt like it weighed a ton and she struggled to keep holding it as Aphrodite casually flipped through the pages until she found the spell.
"You're gonna have to get me something of Xena's and some forget me not flowers, those things just keep cropping up everywhere, it's so annoying," Aphrodite said irritated.
"I have the necklace she made before Cortese struck," Gabrielle said as she unhooked it from her neck.
"I was wondering what that was," she exclaimed as she studied it.
"So I get the flowers and then what happens?"
"Oh, well, I say the spell and the part that holds all her guilt is forgotten."
"So the favor you want in exchange would be?"
"Oh that. You have to write a story about me. A good one that makes everyone want to worship me more. All your scrolls do more for Ares than me."
"When have I ever portrayed Ares as anything but a manipulative, self-absorbed god?"
"Duh, your stories are about Xena in battle. Doesn't really matter which side she's fighting for it's still a win for him," Aphrodite pouted somehow still managing to look perky in the process.
"Does it have to be about you or can it just be about love?"
"Well how can you write a story about me without me in it?" Aphrodite said as she tossed her hair back.
"How about I write about the advice you gave me to tell Xena how I felt. Look how well that turned out." Gabrielle suggested. "The whole world will see you as the divine force that got us together,"
"That is absolutely perfect," she squealed.
"Great, I'll go get those flowers now," Gabrielle said as she left the temple to start looking for them.
"There, that should make Aphrodite happy," Gabrielle grinned as she rolled up the scrolls and put it in the saddle bag.
"I got us rabbit for dinner," Xena gestured to the burlap sack leaning against a log.
When Xena came back two candle marks earlier she had found Gabrielle scribbling furiously in her scrolls so instead of suggesting they leave she had gone into the forest to hunt.
"I'll get some firewood,"
"Already did that," she smiled gesturing to the nest pile at the centre of the clearing.
"You look happier," Gabrielle said in surprise as she took in the warrior.
Xena's long hair hung free around her shoulders, her armor was off leaving her in just the leather tunic and boots with a glistening sword in front of her as she polished it off.
"Aphrodite," Gabrielle murmured.
"What about her?"
"Nothing," she answered quickly.
Shrugging, Xena went back to her sword while Gabrielle made dinner.
"By the way we're changing routes to get into Athens,"
Gabrielle looked up at Xena in confusion, "why?"
"There's a small army led by Meltizia heading in the same direction as us. A lot of innocent people are going to be hurt and I'd rather you weren't one of them,"
Gabrielle stared at Xena in shock, searching for some sign that she was either joking or had an additional part to the plan that involved stopping the warlord.
"Xena I can hold my own, we should track them down and stop them,"
"What do you mean why?" Gabrielle sputtered as a sense of foreboding came over her.
"Why risk our lives when we don't absolutely need to?"
"For those people. They need us."
"You can't save everyone Gabrielle. I was thinking if we leave at first light we could make good time getting into Athens and see that play you've been going on about for nearly a moon."
Gabrielle stared at the stranger in front of her as she ate her dinner, barely tasting it.
"I forgot something back at the temple, I'll be back in a bit," she said as she left Xena and practically ran back to the temple.
"Aphrodite!" she screamed. "Get down here,"
"What's up Gabster?" she grinned appearing on the throne at the head of the temple.
"What did you do to Xena?"
"I did what you asked me to do. I took away her guilt. By the way I looovvvveeeee the story," she squealed in delight.
"Aphrodite are you sure you only took away her guilt? She doesn't even want to help those villagers and when she did it before she wasn't doing it out of guilt. Something's wrong you can't keep Xena away from a good fight."
"Oh something's wrong alright but it's not Aphrodite's spell," Ares said angrily as he appeared between Gabrielle and Aphrodite.
"What do you want now bro?"
"What I want is for you to stop messing with my warrior."
"Oh please Ares, that's rich coming from you. The amount of things you've put her through I never would and it's all been for you. We're not doing anything but make her less tortured."
"You took way her zeal! That fire and passion that made her my warrior princess is gone because of the two of you," he thundered.
"I didn't do anything with her spirit Ares,"
"That's where you're wrong. It was a need for vengeance that ignited the bloodlust in her and even though she veered off my path when she went on that whole atonement kick, she turned the anger and guilt into this passionate need for redemption. And you two," Ares shouted as he glared at them, "took away her guilt of the past which was already interwoven with her drive so now, not only is she not on my path for world domination, she's not on any path that would involve being a warrior."
"Oh no," Gabrielle moaned. "How do we fix it?"
Ares just glared at her.
"Can you undo it?"
"No," Aphrodite said apologetically. "It's like too late now. The holiday is over so her spells aren't accessible to me anymore. That's why I did the spell before you finished the scroll because if I waited the window of opportunity would be lost."
"So there's nothing you can do? What about a spell that trumps the old one?"
"Oh Aphrodite's love spells won't help you," Ares scoffed.
"Well you got a better idea?" Gabrielle shot back.
"Yeah as a matter of fact I do," he grinned evilly. "You won't like it much but hey, I never liked you anyway so who cares what an annoying mortal like you thinks."
"What are you going to do?" Gabrielle asked apprehensively.
"Oh my warrior is coming back to me. Without your influence anywhere near her,"
"She'd never leave me for you Ares. Even you're not that dense."
"If she didn't know you and didn't remember any of this," he said gesturing around them with a self-satisfied smirk, "she'll follow me just like she did before."
"You're going after her reincarnated soul," Aphrodite gasped.
"Yup, she'll be masterful in a new time and the best part is, I won't have to do anything more than just being around when she gets there," he grinned.
"Ares you can't"
"Oh but I can," he laughed as he evaporated in a cloud of smoke.
"I'm sorry Gabby," Aphrodite said remorsefully.
Gabrielle shook her head and ran back to the campsite. She was in over her head. She would just explain what happened to Xena and they would come up with a plan to stop Ares.
"Xena!" she shouted as she stepped into the clearing only to find it empty. She ignored the years of experience and training that said not to announce your presence and gave in to the pure terror of Ares' promise. She couldn't find any signs of a struggle and there was nothing to indicate her partner had gone somewhere in the forest, it was like she had never been there.
"No. This can't be happening," she whimpered as she sank to the ground. Even the spicy scent of her lover was gone.
"Gabby," Aphrodite approached cautiously. "I can't undo the spell sweet pea, but I can do a love spell that might help,"
"She's not even here anymore,"
"I know. Ares took her so he could send her soul forward and track it. You're her soul mate so I don't need to know where he's sending her. All I have to do is send your soul to meet your mate's. Unlike what he's doing, I'm going to send you with knowledge of this life. You won't have access to that knowledge until you find her. Once your soul recognizes hers that will be your key, you'll remember everything."
"What happens if I never meet her?"
"I spoke to the fates, you will. Just remember when you do that Ares got to her before you did so the past will be repeating itself,"
"So all this was for nothing," Gabrielle said stricken. "She's still going to be guilty and it's still going to destroy her."
"There are some roads you mortals just have to walk and there's no stopping it,"
"Ok, send me to where she is then,"
Taylor struggled to juggle her books and the bag of groceries as she loaded the car her parents had gotten her as a university present. Tossing her short blond hair away from her face she made her way to her apartment building. She was so focused on not dropping the precarious load that she didn't hear the footsteps until it was too late. The impact knocked her to the ground, her books slid along the pavement and her groceries spilled across the road. The skinny boy remained on top of her using his elbow to choke her he grabbed her purse and stood up.
"No! Wait! All my IDs are in there, just take the money and leave the rest. You can't use it anyway and if you take my money how will I pay for replacements?"
Dark eyes stared at her in disbelief and before she could blink he reached down and yanked her necklace off. She watched in horror as her mother's engagement ring slid off the silver chain and into his hands.
"You can't take that." she exclaimed struggling to get up. "It's the only thing of my mother's I have left so give it back."
"Don't push it," he sneered before running off.
She had lost both her parents to a house fire the year before. The only reason she had her mother's ring was because the stone had fallen out so it had been sent to a repair shop. It was all she had left of them and she was not losing it to some random skinny kid.
"Give it back to me!" she screamed as she chased him.
He glanced back at her in surprise and then ran even faster. She followed him into the poorly lit park, gaining on him with every step. She had no one and nothing left to lose so she was getting that ring back. The boy stopped abruptly and faced her.
"Are insane? Go away."
"Not without my things,"
"Girl you're on my turf now. You won't need this stuff where you're going."
She looked around at the deserted park. The city hadn't bothered to replace the lights in this area so it looked like menacing shadows were closing in on her. No matter how loudly she screamed she doubted anyone would hear her or come to her aid. When one of the shadows moved she realized he was right about being on his turf. He had stopped so his friends could surround her.
"Bobby dude, you're not suppose to bring people back here,"
"I didn't bring her. The stupid bitch followed me," he laughed.
The shadows turned into faces, none of which were friendly.
"Well it's too late now she's seen your face and our faces so she can't just be left alone."
The skinny boy shrugged, "well I did warn her."
Taylor screamed as two of the men descended on her. She kicked and punched and clawed back even though she knew she would not be a match for them.
"Help!" she screamed. "Somebody help me!"
"Shut her up man,"
A well placed kick to her jaw caused her to see stars. Her mouth filled with the salty taste of her own blood.
"What are you doing?" a menacing voice asked softly.
The beating stopped immediately and Taylor was left on her knees struggling to remain upright.
"She saw our faces Kai. She couldn't just walk back out and she would have gone straight to the cops."
"What exactly is it that she saw that could be taken back to the police and used to arrest you?"
It sounded to Taylor like the owner of the voice was speaking to them like five year olds.
There was the sound of flesh meeting flesh and the skinny kid slid on the floor next to her.
Taylor looked at the pair of black boots that came to stand right in front of her. Her eyes trailed up taking in the black jeans with a studded skull belt and a black form fitting shirt. When she got to the ice blue eyes that currently looked at her like she was an insect, she froze. Her mind was bombarded with images of Xena and Gabrielle. Aphrodite hadn't lied when she said the past would repeat itself, Taylor thought morosely.
The tall woman reached down and pulled Taylor to her feet. The minute she let go of her though she began to tilt backward.
"What are you doing here," she growled holding on to her chin, forcing her to look up into cold eyes.
"He stole my ring and my purse."
"Didn't anyone ever tell you your life is more important than a few things you can replace?" the woman said mockingly.
"It's all I have left of my mother everything else was incinerated in a house fire. I couldn't let him take that too."
She arched an eyebrow at her and Taylor struggled to stay standing.
"If you're going to kill me could you be quick about it?"
The ice blue eyes appraised her thoroughly taking in the bruises and scrapes that littered her body.
"You know, if we're going to win this turf war and take over you don't have time for petty stealing or assault," she said angrily as she looked around at the rest of the group.
She scooped Taylor up and started walking deeper into the park.
A muscled woman with short spiky hair jogged up to them, "yeah boss?"
"Get her stuff back from Bobby and then dispose of him,"
The woman nodded and walked back to the skinny kid who was now getting up.
"Where are you taking me?" Taylor asked apprehensively.
Sure this woman was her soul mate, but she wasn't Xena anymore and there was a good chance that whatever Ares had done would make it harder for her to gain the woman's trust. The Xena that Gabrielle had known was the one seeking redemption and not the one on a path of destruction.
"You and I are going to have a little talk about what you shouldn't do when someone tries to rob you."
They went out through a rusty gate into an alley. The last thing Taylor saw before she blacked out was a black jeep.
“What are we supposed to do with her?”
“I couldn't just leave her there. She'd have died from some kind of head trauma in the park,” an exasperated voice defended.
“Yeah but bringing her back here isn't going to make things better,” another voice hissed. “At least if she'd died or gone into a coma or something she couldn't pick anyone out of a line up.”
“Maybe she won't go to the cops,”
“That little spitfire?” the familiar voice scoffed. “We're talking about somebody who wanted to fight a group of thugs for a ring they might have been able to get back at a pawn shop.”
“Well it's too late to let her go now then. We don't need a reason to bring any scrutiny our way right now. I'm telling you to get rid of the problem before it comes back to bite us later,” a dark voice demanded.
Taylor struggled to focus as the last voice reminded her of someone but she couldn't figure out who. The niggling sense of familiarity dissipated as the voices faded and Taylor gave up trying to place it. She was in a small room on a soft couch covered by a thin scratchy blanket that did little to keep her warm. She tried to sit up but the instant headache and nausea caused her to abandon that idea in favor of lying there with her eyes closed. Her memories of her life as Gabrielle were hazy at best leaving her to doubt the wisdom of trying to reason with the woman her soul mate was now. Maybe she could find another way to get to her now that she knew who she was looking for.
“You're awake,” a cold voice said.
Taylor 's eyes jerked open to find familiar blue eyes regarding her.
“Can you sit up?”
“Not very well,” she admitted.
Despite the conversation she had just heard all her instincts told her she would be safe with Kai. No matter what Ares had done he could never break the tie they had to each other.
Kai regarded her for a moment and then left as silently as she had entered. When Taylor woke again the feeling of safety was replaced by terror.
“Niko said for Kai to take care of her so we could just do her a favor and dispose of her now, that way we can show Kai that we can take the initiative,”
“Yeah I see what you're saying. We take care of this chore and Kai might move us up the ladder,” an eager voice replied.
Taylor opened green eyes to find two men standing right in front of her. The muscular, dark skinned man noticed she was awake first and nudged his friend. Knowing she would be in imminent danger from them Taylor ignored the pounding in her head and leaped off the couch, darting around the surprised men she raced for the door, the room spinning dangerously as she ran. She heard them behind her and sprinted down the stairs of the warehouse but missed the last few stairs and tumbled to the floor below. Rough hands grabbed her a moment later and hoisted her onto powerful shoulders.
“You know what's funny?” a familiar voice said mockingly from the floor above them.
Both men turned to look at Kai as she descended the steps slowly. Taylor could barely see her from her perch on the burly man's shoulders.
“This is the second time tonight that I didn't give an order to do something and yet I find someone engaging in behavior they need my permission for,” she said angrily as she came to a stop facing them. “Did someone ask you to take her somewhere?” her voice took on a silky soft tone that highlighted the dangers of giving the wrong answer.
“We heard Niko say she had to be gotten rid of and we thought…….”
“Since when do I ask you to think for yourselves?” she growled. “All I want you to do is exactly what I tell you.” Kai said as she grabbed the first man by his shirt and dragged him to her, forcing him to stand on tiptoes to reach eye level with her six foot frame.
Both men remained silent, terrified of the direction her anger could take.
“We thought we'd be helping you out,” the burly man said hesitantly.
“And that is why I don't pay you to think,” Kai shot back angrily.
“Give her to me before you mess this up any further,” she said as she took Taylor from his grasp.
“If I want you to do something I'll tell you. If I don't tell you then don't do it. Understood?”
Kai's blue eyes flashed with fury and both men nodded instantly.
“You're way more trouble than you're worth kid,” Kai said angrily as she carried Taylor out of the warehouse and into a black Subaru sports car.
“I stayed on the couch where you left me. It's not my fault those guys decided to attack me,” Taylor defended hotly.
“No, but for some reason trouble just seems to find you,” Kai shot back as they sped away.
“Where are we going?”
“To a friend of mine so he can check you out. I want to make sure you're not in a vegetative state come morning because I didn't take you to the hospital.”
“Why take me to get checked out if your boss wants me dead?” Taylor asked curious.
“Because for some reason that I can't figure out, I can't bring myself to kill you,” Kai grimaced.
“Maybe you're tired of this way of life and want to find a new path. Maybe this is your first step,” Taylor suggested softly.
“Or maybe I just have indigestion and tomorrow I'll decide Niko's right and you're not worth the trouble it takes to keep you alive,” Kai said with an arch of her eyebrow.
“You're so much better than this life Kai,”
“And you know this from less than ten minutes of conversation?” she asked sarcastically.
“Maybe I know you better than you know yourself. Maybe that's why you can't kill me,” Taylor grinned triumphantly.
“Do you always ask so many questions?” Kai asked exasperatedly.
“I have to if I want to balance out your strong silent type personality,” she mocked.
“Something smells good,” Kai said walking into her apartment.
“It's just stuffed dumplings and Chinese style vegetables,” Taylor shrugged.
“My kitchen never smelt this good before you came here,” Kai grinned.
Taylor had been in Kai's apartment since the night they had met almost a week ago. Kai hadn't wanted to send her back home for Niko to find while they were still in the middle of ousting the previous gang who had claimed Taylor 's neighborhood as their turf. They had had an easy camaraderie from the first day and had developed a routine that worked well for them.
“How goes the war effort?” Taylor asked disdainfully.
“We're winning.” Kai answered confidently.
“But for either side to win innocent people will get caught in the crossfire,”
“Which is why you're here so that you're not one of them,”
“Those casualties have families, people who love them,” Taylor said heatedly. “If this neighborhood is so important why can't you fight in a way that ensures only you guys get hurt.”
“Doesn't work that way. All wars have casualties, including wars between countries. Have you ever seen the presidents of two countries decide to kill each other in a room where only they get hurt? They send their soldiers Taylor and civilians always feel the pinch.”
“It's not the same thing,”
“It's close enough,” Kai shrugged as she helped herself to dinner.
“Soldiers fight for a noble cause, street gangs fight for turf for their illegal activities that hurt people. It's not close at all,” Taylor argued defiantly.
“What do you want from me?” Kai sighed.
“I want the part of you that believes in fighting for a better world not a worse one,”
“What makes you think that part of me even exists,” Kai scoffed.
“Ok maybe on your own it's too hard to change but I'm here for you. I know you can be a better person and if you feel like you can't turn it around on your own that's ok because I'll be there with you. I know you've lost your way but underneath that tough exterior there's a champion for good waiting to come out,” Taylor argued softly as she held Kai's hands in her own.
“You're serious aren't you?” Kai asked in disgust.
“You think all I need is you and then I'll be reformed?” she asked incredulously. “I'm stronger alone, all you'll be is a liability, someone who wants to make me soft.”
“Sometimes being soft can be a good thing and having someone who loves you unconditionally can actually make you stronger because then you're not alone,” Taylor argued.
“Do you really believe that kind of love exists?” she asked incredulously.
“It's what everyone dreams about isn't it? Finding someone who looks into our souls and finds something there worth risking everything for.”
“There's nothing in me worth risking your life for Taylor and that's exactly what you're doing by volunteering to go down this path with me. Even if you were right about me finding a better path in life leaving this gang is like leaving family and they won't just shrug their shoulders and let me go. I……, I care about you and they'd hurt you to get to me.” Kai said struggling to find a way to express her feelings.
“There can't be an us Taylor , I can't sully you with all my darkness or risk losing you to enemies who don't recognize a truce,” Kai said regretfully as she pulled her hands away from Taylor .
“That's where you're wrong Kai. We were meant to be, when I'm with you it's like this emptiness I didn't even know was there is gone. Tell me you don't feel it too and I'll walk away.”
Kai struggled to avoid her gaze.
“I can't” she finally whispered brokenly.
Taylor pulled the taller woman close to her fitting perfectly in her embrace.
“When I'm with you, it feels like I'm coming home,” Kai said as she played with a blond strand of Taylor 's hair.
Suddenly she wrenched herself away and started pacing, making sure to keep a safe distance away from Taylor .
“This is ridiculous, I don't even sound like myself. I sound like a love struck fool and the worst part is I haven't even known you for a week.”
“You've known me forever, you just don't remember,” Taylor said softly.
Kai stopped pacing and turned to face her, her eyes narrowing suspiciously.
“What do you mean I don't remember?”
“You won't believe me if I told you. Hell I barely believe me and I actually have the memories to prove it.”
“Tell me,” Kai growled.
“We're from another time.” Taylor blurted out.
“Great I'm in love with a nutcase,” Kai rolled her eyes.
“No we were together before. We're soul mates, destined to always find each other. I loved you so much in that other time that I wanted to rid you of the burden of redemption and it turned out badly.”
The disbelief in Kai's eyes changed to something unreadable.
“Why did I need redemption?” Kai asked guardedly.
“Because you were on a dark path before I met you, you hurt people, innocent people. And eventually you found your way. You wanted to right all those wrongs and fight for the greater good but your past haunted you. It got to a point where I could tell you were tired of your soul never feeling cleansed and it hurt me to see you hurt.”
“If it hurt you so much and I did so much evil why'd you stay?”
“Your path is my path. I could never leave you.” Taylor said as she stroked Kai's face.
“I had to do something so I asked Aphrodite, the goddess of love for help. Things went wrong and you lost more than your guilt. You lost your passion to be a warrior and the god of war was furious. So he came forward in time with your reincarnated soul to get you away from me, erase the mistake Aphrodite made and set you the path of destruction you had left before.”
“And she sent you after me?”
“So you get to remember all this and I don't?” Kai asked with skepticism.
“I told you that you wouldn't believe me,” Taylor said dejectedly.
“I believe that you believe it,”
“Oh well that's so much better,” Taylor said sarcastically.
“Oh come on, you show up in my life claiming we had this past life together that some Greek gods took away from us and you expect me to buy not just that but the idea that I should change my life and turn to good or something, and you expect me to just swallow all of that?” Kai demanded.
“Why do you have to be so cynical about everything? You're so frustrating sometimes,” Taylor said aggravated.
“As opposed to believing whatever you tell me?”
“Listen with your heart Kai, not your head. The answer is in there even if the memories are gone, if you're not too afraid to find them that is,” Taylor taunted before walking into the guest bedroom and closing the door behind her.
Taylor slumped against the door dejectedly. There had to be some way to get Kai's memories of Xena back.
The burst of gold sparkles startled her almost as much as the sudden appearance of the familiar goddess.
“Aphrodite!” Taylor exclaimed hugging her close.
“Hey Gabby, I mean Taylor ,” Aphrodite grinned.
“You were right she doesn't remember anything from before and I'm not sure if I didn't make things worse by telling her about it,”
“That's why I came to see you. The anniversary of Remember Me day is tomorrow. I can work a spell that will give her back the past but it will only work for that one day. After that no matter how hard she tries she won't be able to recall it.”
“So she remembers for a day and then forgets that she ever remembered in the first place?” Taylor asked confused.
“No she'll know you're telling the truth but those memories will go back to the vault Ares made for them.”
“There's no way to mess this one up right? I don't want to be reincarnated to fix something again,”
“No she just remembers for the day. I don't even really do anything special for it. It's the day where the veil between this life and your past life is the thinnest so a little push in the right direction is all she'll need and since it's the anniversary of the last spell we did for her it'll be twice as potent so it can temporarily break the barrier Ares erected.”
“Thanks Aphrodite,” Taylor sighed.
“Don't mention it.” Aphrodite smiled. “Gotta go, I think I hear tall, dark and gorgeous heading this way,”
Before Taylor could respond the goddess was gone as if she'd never been.
“Hey, can we talk?” Kai asked softly as she opened the door a crack.
She came fully into the room and for a moment they both just stood there.
“I'm sorry, I didn't mean to mock you,” she said finally.
“No I shouldn't have expected you to just accept something so fantastical,”
“No you're wrong. The truth is,” Kai struggled as she sat on the edge of the bed, pulling Taylor to stand in front of her. “I'd been feeling like I had gone so far astray that I'd never be able to find myself again. You're right when you say this isn't me.”
Taylor smiled in encouragement.
“Having you believe in me even the way I am now, means so much to me. It's like I've been searching for my way for so long and feeling more hopeless each time I got sucked back in to the darkness but from the moment I met you, I finally had a light to guide me.” Kai looked up at Taylor as she pulled her close enough to wrap her arms around.
“Are you sorry the memories you got back yesterday are gone again?”
Kai gave her a small smile. Aphrodite had kept her word and from the moment Kai had woken on Remember Me day she had been bombarded with memories of her past life, her quest to conquer the world and her life with Gabrielle. Unlike Taylor who felt only momentary confusion at the onslaught of memories, Kai experienced blinding headaches with them that kept her at home in bed in Taylor's arms for most of the day. When she finally woke, exhausted from the pain of the day, her memories were gone, replaced by fuzzy half images that skirted around the edges of her mind never quite coming back into focus.
“Not really. I wish I could remember the ones with you in them but the rest of that time felt so dark to me that I think I'd rather not bear the weight of remembering two dark pasts.”
“I never thought of it that way,” Taylor said chagrined and she held snuggled closer to Kai.
Kissing her forehead Kai grinned down at her. “We have a whole new life together to live. We'll make lots of new memories.”