See part 1 for disclaimer

There is violence, and some sex, and a loving relationship between two consenting adults...oh yeah and they're the same gender. If any of this bothers you, or is illegal where you are, or you're not 18 yet then please delete this now and find something else to read. Angst Warning: Some pretty intense emotions here so I was told a tissue alert was in order.


Dedication: For Niki, my inspiration, and the keeper of my soul, my angel. If not for her belief in me this story wouldn't exist. Thanks chére!

Also, a big thanks to my beta, Diva, you're the best, babe, but you already knew that.


The Keeper of My Soul--Always 20

By: Alex P.


Xena landed in the clearing ready for just about anything, from massive monster beasts to a huge army of demon warriors. Even as her feet touched the ground, she was crouched, ready for battle; sword raised in one

hand, chakram ready to throw in the other. Her eyes narrowed as she searched the clearing for the enemy that was keeping her away from her Gabrielle.

All she found was several young women dressed in diaphanous silks. Some skipping (yes skipping) through the peaceful clearing gathering wild flowers, while others braided the flowers into each other's hair.

Following the instincts ingrained into her from years of fighting, Xena refused to take the idyllic scene at face value and continued to scrutinize the surrounding treeline, every sense alert, straining for the

first sign of the trap the warrior knew must be there. Waiting for her first mistake.

She watched warily as one of the beautiful young women skipped over to her and tried to place a wreath of flowers on Xena's head.

"No thanks, honey," the dark warrior snarled. "I'm not the flowers in the

hair type."

All the women looked at her shyly and giggled lyrically and continued with their tasks.

"My sisters and I made these for you, great warrior," the girl with the flowers said, her voice was soft and sweet to Xena's ears. "We only wish to give these to you to honor you for your presence here in the land of our Goddess."

On hearing the word "Goddess", Xena became extra nervous and took a cautious step back from the girl. Every time something went wrong, there always seemed to be some "God" or other at the bottom of it.

"Alright whoever you are," Xena called out with a menacing growl. "Show yourself. This game is getting really old. You damn "Gods" think you can just play with peoples lives and get away with it. Well, face me now you coward and pay the price. No tricks, just you and me, right now."

The still giggling gaggle of pretty young women skipped across the clearing and disappeared down a path, leaving Xena alone with the flower presenter.

"You have been granted your wish, warrior," the last maiden said as she turned to join her companions. "Our Goddess has decided to grant you audience, but the reason may surprise even you."

That said, the girl turned and ran across the peaceful clearing, her golden hair flying, and her musical laughter filling the air behind her.

As Xena watched the girl disappear into the treeline, she noticed the sky was darkening and changing colors. The ground in front of her split open, emitting a large black chariot drawn by two black horses with red glowing eyes and smoke coming from their nostrils.

The chariot drew up next to the Warrior Princess and stopped. A tall, well-built man in full black armor stepped out of the chariot and stepped around to face Xena.

"We can fight if that is you wish my child," the man said. "But since I'll not raise my weapons to you, it will be rather one-sided, and not much of a challenge for you."

"Alright since you won't fight," Xena growled impatiently, "maybe you'll answer some questions."

"Very soon, my child," the man promised his voice hypnotic and soft. "All

your questions will be answered in their time. There is another who wishes to be here. When she arrives, then our conversation can at last begin."

Xena went over a few feet to a large boulder and sat down, sheathing her sword and replacing her chakram on her belt.

"I'll just sit and rest while you guys get it together," Xena said sarcasm oozing from her words. "Unless you have a problem with it."

"No problem, warrior," the man said holding his hand up as a sign of peace. "Make yourself comfortable. If you hunger or thirst, I can provide

for you."

"No thanks," she answered with a feral smile. "The price of a bite in your realm is way too high. Don't forget, I have someone very important waiting for me, I hope."

"I can assure you, my child," the man said. "Your golden Amazon Queen anxiously awaits your return to your body. She is in fact transporting you home as we speak."

"Thank you," Xena said with a genuine smile of gratitude. "Is my Gabrielle okay?"

"Yes, she worries for you, but is otherwise is in good health," he answered then held up his hand to stop her next question. "As soon as this meeting is finished, you will be returned to your soulmate without delay."

There was a quiet flap of wings and a large white owl landed on the rail of the chariot. It seemed content to perch there and observe the two beings, trying to come to a decision.

Then with a screech, the big, snow-white, night predator took flight and as it appeared to land next to the armored man, it metamorphosed into a tall, regal woman wearing a highly polished breastplate and helm. Under the breastplate she wore a long flowing white gown. Her black hair fell in thick waves from under the shining helm to the middle of her back.

Her classically chiselled features were set off by a pair of disturbing eyes that seemed in a constant state of change from an almost colorless grey to dark violet and every color in between. The woman's piercing gaze seemed to bore straight into the soul and could read every secret there in an instant.

The knowledge she held gave her full sensuous lips a permanent smirk. In her hands was a long heavy spear.

The woman looked Xena in the eye and after a moment the smirk turned into

a gentle, loving smile that lit up the entire clearing. Xena felt the warmth of that smile fill her with a safe comfortable feeling that she only before felt in the presence of her Gabrielle and her mother.

Xena became disturbed that this strange woman could invoke these feelings and rose from her rock, slowly pulling her sword. From the tingling at the back of her neck, the warrior knew she was in the presence of gods and to her that always meant trouble.

"Alright, I think we've wasted enough time here," Xena growled impatiently. "Just say what it is that you have to say so I can get back to my wife."

"You see, uncle, I told you," the woman said proudly. "I knew if I didn't

interfere with her life, she would be the best of the lot. Now that that bastard Ares is out of her life, and she has found real love, it seems she is the one."

"Yes, it would seem you are correct," the man said thoughtfully. "But it would have been better if you had informed the rest of us that she was yours and was to be left alone."

"That would have gone against my agreement with Cyrene's mother," the woman said sadly. "And with her wife being the chosen of Artemis, I couldn't very well have let everyone know, and, well, Ares would have killed her, and I couldn't have taken that."

"Excuse me folks," Xena said loudly. "I am here so have the courtesy to include me in a conversation about me. Now, I think some introductions are in order. I already know who you are, Hades, we've had dealings before."

The tall man removed his helmet to reveal the god of the underworld's darkly handsome features. He smiled and nodded a greeting to the subject of their conversation, and the reason they were meeting in his Elysian Fields.

"May I say I am glad to see you again, Xena," the god spoke his deep resonant voice filling the air. "Time has been kind to you, my child."

"Thanks, I think," Xena answered the stiffly formal but friendly god then turned her attention to the woman. "I don't believe we've met and considering the way you guys interfere in my life, that's a surprise. Who

are you and why do you have me here?"

"It's a kind of long convoluted story," the woman began. "I don't know if

you possess the patience to hear it all."

"Just hit the highlights will ya'," Xena snapped a little insulted at the patience comment. "It's always a long convoluted story with you Olympians."

Hades snorted a laugh at the warrior's impudent remark.

"First of all let me say how proud I am of you, with the way you have taken control of your life and turned away from that walking hormone, Ares." The woman saw Xena about to protest but stopped her before she could start. "I swear you will have all your answers by the time I've finished my tale."

"Many years ago, a very brave woman risked everything she had to save a group of my Priestesses from a band marauding barbarians. With her help, they reached the Amazons, who at the request of my sister,

Artemis took all of them in and kept them safe," the tall beautiful woman

began, her ever changing eyes holding Xena's attention. "I was very grateful to this woman and offered her any reward she desired. She choose to have me look upon her daughter with favor, and I gladly agreed."

The woman's eyes settled into a deep blue as she looked into an almost identical pair of eyes and continued her story.

"The minute I saw the daughter, I fell in love. I wanted to go to her, but out of respect, I asked the mother's permission," she continued, diamond tears fell from the woman's eyes. "Unfortunately, the daughter had

met a wondering soldier, and before I could return, the two were married.

"He turned out to be an abusive drunk, and the only time the daughter got

any peace was when the dolt was off fighting someone else's war. The daughter became so forlorn and lonely, that she prayed for a child to call her own, a daughter."

The woman became more animated as the story progressed and by now she was unable to remain seated.

"I saw this as my way to be a part of her life, so I asked for and received the ability to go to her as her husband, and implanted her with my own essence." The woman slowed down now as her story saddened. "Her husband returned home the next day, and though confused, she went on with

her life. "

"Soon, she grew great with child, and I went to her mother to give her the

joyous news of her granddaughter, and the child's lineage. But the grandmother was not happy, and fearing some curse would befall her daughter and grandchild, she made me promise not to interfere in their lives."

"To my eternal shame I agreed."

Tears were falling from the woman's eyes freely as for the first time she was allowed to tell the whole story.

"When the child was born, the soldier could tell almost from the start that the child wasn't his, and resented it, and her mother, for saying it was. "

"He became worse than he was before but the mother protected the child from the worst of his behavior." The mysterious woman's voice never quivered but her tears made her pain obvious as she continued. "Finally, the soldier's alcohol-soaked mind snapped and he decided to sacrifice the girl to his patron god, Ares, hoping to gain the war god's favor."

"The mother tried to dissuade her husband, but to no avail. Finally, in desperation, she used force to stop him and as a result, he died. I saw it as a very small loss but, the guilt of his death has weighed heavily on her soul."

"I kept my word to the grandmother and watched as others used my precious

daughter as a tool and exploited her formidable strengths and her equally powerful weaknesses to their own agenda."

"It has been the greatest bane of my existance, and because the pain it caused was so intense, I had to turn my face away from the land in order to preserve my sanity."

"I hadn't seen or heard from my daughter in quite some time so that I wouldn't break my word to her grandmother, a woman long at home in the Elysian fields."

Seeing the course this conversation was taking Xena decided to get some answers of her own. She had an idea of who the mysterious woman was but the warrior was determined not to make it easy for her.

"So what makes you think this so-called daughter of yours would want to see you or even know who you are?" Xena asked out of curiosity. "You've ignored her all these years when she truly needed you and now that her life is getting some meaning, you want to step in and be the parent you weren't capable of being before."

Knowing that the intelligent warrior had figured who the Goddess was speaking of and decided to stop the unnecessary babble and get to her point, she confided in the warrior, besides she hadn't really worked all that

hard to conceal the


"There are several reasons. The first was that as long as you were a follower of Ares, it would have endangered you. "Second is because I saw that you had finally found true love, and was ready to except the truth." With a sigh of hopeful resignation she added.

"And third, I am here to reveal all this because your mother told me to."

Xena looked at the woman, her eyes wide open in surprise and some anger.

"You mean my mother knows this story and didn't tell me!" Xena shouted angry that her mother had hid this from her. "I can't believe she'd do this to me."

"Hold on, Xena," Hades spoke for the first time. "You have just come upon

the reason for my presence. You know me and you know I don't lie, I don't have to. "

"I am here to verify to you that your mother, Cyrene, knew nothing of this until recently and she hasn't had a chance to tell you. Also, that as soon as she learned of it, she insisted that you be told. I was asked to do it but my niece asked that she be allowed. She wanted to see you so badly. She was afraid that after you knew, you would never want to see

her again."

The God of the underworld turned to Xena and placed his hand on her forehead, and looked solemnly skyward.

"I am also here to formally witness and confirm that you, Xena, are the true daughter of the Goddess Athena." The god turned his eyes down to meet the warrior's. "From this time forth, let all the Olympians know your

true heritage and accord you the respect you are entitled to."

Hades vanished, as did his chariot, and left mother and newly discovered daughter alone. They stared at each other for a while, then Xena spoke.

"This is going to take a while to get used to." Xena sighed unsure how to proceed. "One thing I must know, are you and my mother together or is this just a courtesy visit before you disappear?"

"I have made my intentions quite clear to your mother and I left the decision up to her where she and I go from here," Athena said quietly. "I

have loved your mother since the day I first saw her and still do, but she must decide if she feels the same for me. I will not force myself on her. As I am sure you understand, Cyrene has asked for some time to consider it and I have no other choice but to respect her wishes."

Xena nodded her understanding and looked into the now violet eyes of her newly discovered mother and saw no deceit there.

"I am grateful for your honesty and for respecting my mother's wishes," Xena began, then taking Athena's hand, she spoke her heart. "I have no doubt that in time you and I will come to terms with this, and even now I feel a place for you in my heart."

"However, it will take time to get this all into my mind and until then, I

need to return to my love and soulmate Gabrielle. I do however, expect to

be able to see you when I want or need to if that is allowed."

The Goddess beamed at the words her daughter spoke and the promise those words held.

"I will send your spirit back to your beloved right now," Athena promised. "But first, I want you to know that I have seen into the heart of this woman, and daughter, I want you to know how fortunate you are to have someone in your life that adores and treasures you the way this young Queen does. Please take care of her and don't let anything come between the two of you."

"Also know that anytime you wish or need to speak to me, go to one of my temples and call my name, I will come to you as quickly as possible. That is all I need to say, now go back to your beloved, she waits patiently for your spirit to return."

"Thank you, mother," was all Xena could say. The next thing she knew, Xena

felt she was lying down and being jostled terribly.

The warrior felt something heavy on her chest and looked down to see a mass of golden hair and she could hear the light snore that told her her lover was asleep.

The last thing she wanted to do was awaken her bard knowing the the small woman wouldn't have slept much while Xena was unconscious, but the dark-haired warrior also knew how upset the little Queen would be if she didn't wake her.

So gritting her teeth, Xena began gently shaking the small blonde.

"Brie, are you alright? I'd really love to see those enchanting green eyes of yours about now," Xena whispered softly. "Come on, sweetheart, I love you."

"I love you too, Xena," a sleepy voice answered, "but can I just sleep a few more minutes, please?"

"Sure you can, my love," the warrior answered with a smile. "You can sleep all you want, I'll be right here when you get up."

"Thanks, love, I'm really tir..." a blonde head flew up and surprised green eyes opened wide, focusing finally on the laughing blue eyes that returned her gaze. "XENA! You're awake I...I mean you're here and oh my goddess your back. I knew you'd come back to me. Where have you been? I...

wow, I know your body was here, but where was your mind? Are you back for real or am I dreaming?" She pinched herself. "Ow! I guess I'm awake alright. I was so scared I was afraid yo..mufumble"

Xena stopped her lover's excited babbling the only way she knew how. She pulled the woman into a deep, hot, wet, soul-searing kiss. The Warrior Princess didn't release her bard until they were forced apart by the need for oxygen.

Gabrielle was still unable to talk, giving Xena a chance to get a word in.

"If you'll give me a minute and get me something to eat please," Xena laughed at her love's flushed face. "Once I get something to eat and drink,

I promise I'll tell you all about my little side trip, and believe me, I have got some truly surprising news for you, a story truly worthy of your talents, my love."

Gabrielle returned as quickly as she could with a full skin of water and some food. As Xena ate, she told her bard of all the things she'd learned

while Gabrielle sat entranced by the story Xena was telling and reveling in the sound of her lover's voice.


END 20

TBC ???


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