Disclaimer: The characters in this story: Xena, Gabrielle and Eve, are the property of Renaissance Pictures and Universal MCA. This story is not meant to infringe upon their rights or the rights of the actors who portray them. Also, any part of the Stand By You series is not to be copied, whole or in part, without the author's permission, and is not to be copied for public use or for profit.
Stand By You
By: Caina Q. FullerE-mail me and Visit my website
"Solan? Is it you? Is it really you?"
"Of course it's me."
She couldn't believe her eyes! The years he'd spent in Tartarus wanting to remember Xena, Solan had remained a child. In the Elysian Fields however, he'd grown into the man he'd always wanted to be.
He would be a man in the land of the living had I not killed him, Gabrielle thought. He shouldn't be here now. He's dead because of me.
"That's not true Gabrielle. Hatred and evil killed me. Not you."
He'd read her mind and that made Gabrielle very uncomfortable. She didn't like the idea of her thoughts being open to anyone but herself.
"The dead can hear the thoughts of the living, remember?"
Solan hugged her up and planted a kiss on her forehead. "Don't blame yourself Gabrielle. I don't blame you."
"It's not that simple Solan. I can't just snap my fingers and suddenly believe what I did didn't lead to your death."
Solan, an arm wrapped around Gabrielle, began to lead her toward the vast green expanse before them. "What you did. Let's talk about what you did, huh?"
After all that had happened to her so far, Gabrielle was game to go along with Solan's request. She would set things right with him once and for all, even if it meant proving to him she was as guilty for his untimely demise as Hope and Callisto.
"I wanted to believe Hope was good. I was so blinded by my selfish desires for motherhood I chose to ignore the truth that was staring me in the face and it got you killed. It almost cost me my friendship with Xena."
Solan nodded in agreement. "You did all of that true."
"See what I mean?"
"Yes, I think I do. Now that we've looked at the story from your perspective, let's look at it from mine, shall we?"
"The way I see it is simple. You were a young woman who wanted to love her lost child."
Gabrielle waited for him to say more. When he didn't she stopped and stared up at him. "And?"
Gabrielle was becoming frustrated. What would it take to make him understand that she was at fault here? What would she have to do to make him blame her, as she felt he should? He had to blame her, because Gabrielle didn't know if she was ready to accept his forgiveness. Not when she'd been hating herself for so long.
"No, that's not it."
"Only because you won't let it be Gabrielle." Solan lay a hand on each of her shoulders, refusing to let her walk away from the forgiveness she so desperately needed to accept.
"I would have done the same thing for my own child."
"Thanks to me, you'll never have the chance."
"That's where you're wrong. Here in the Elysian Fields, I can have anything I want. One day, I will have a child of my own. When I'm ready. Gabrielle, you have to understand that I don't hate you for what happened. I love you. I always will."
"I love you too Solan."
Solan nodded to the field behind her. When she turned, she saw the unmistakable figure of her parents.
"My God! Mother. Father."
"Your time here is limited. Go to them Gabrielle. Say good-bye."
"Thank you Solan. I wont' forget what you've done for me."
"I know. The soul is eternal. One day, we will all be reunited. Do me a favor will you?"
"Give my sister a kiss. Let mother know I love her."
Solan stepped back, and faded away before her, a smile on his handsome face. Heeding his warning about her time here being limited, Gabrielle turned and ran to parents, to say good-bye.
In the forest Eve was the first to come back. Xena helped her daughter to her feet and gave her a drink of water.
"Yeah, I just...I feel like I'm forgotten something."
"Did Eli say anything to you, on the other side?"
Eve rubbed her forehead in confusion. She remembered speaking with Eli about her entire life, but there was something more she just couldn't put her finger on.
"He said something about...my past life. I just can't remember. I don't think I'm supposed to."
Xena was relieved. The blessing about being reincarnated was losing the pain of your past. The last thing, Xena knew in her heart, Callisto would have wanted Xena to do would be to remind her of all the pain she'd left behind. She would never tell Eve the truth, unless there was no way around it. She decided now would be a good time to change the subject.
"What about Gabrielle?"
"I don't know. She should be-"
As Eve had done moment's before Gabrielle's body jerked and she gulped down as much air as she could. Xena helped her up, and was relieved to see life in Gabrielle's eyes for the first time in over five months.
"How do you feel?"
Gabrielle seemed to have difficulty grasping the idea of feeling anything.
When Gabrielle failed to complete the sentence, Xena stood and sighed in frustration. Apparently the life she'd seen in Gabrielle's eyes had only been wishful thinking on her part.
"Then we've failed. Eve couldn't save you and I don't know that I can either."
"Save me. There's something to think about." Gabrielle said in helpless frustration. She remembered all the kind words of the souls long gone from her life, and the forgiveness they'd given her, but there was one last issue remaining. One last hurdle to clear before her soul could even begin to try to live again, and that hurdle was named Xena.
"Do you have any idea what just happened to me?"
"What?" Xena said, looking around for Eve. Her daughter had mysteriously disappeared.
"I just saw Perdicus and Solan. Mom and Dad too."
This was news for Xena. "Solan? How is he?"
"Thriving. He's a man now Xena. The man he always wanted to be. He says to tell you he loves you."
Fresh tears threatened to spill from Xena's eyes. Her little boy had finally gotten to grow up. Oh how she wished she could have seen him. Her arms ached to hold him, if only for a moment. There was no small amount of jealousy that Gabrielle had gotten that privilege before her.
"Xena, they're happy and...they don't hate me."
"Of course they don't Gabrielle! You just hated yourself. You seem to be under the impression that everyone's love for you is a gift on loan and that we're just waiting for you to do something wrong so we can snatch it away forever. It doesn't work like that. We love you no matter what."
"You're right, I know that now."
"Now that you know, why won't you forgive yourself and allow yourself some happiness?"
As Eve had said before this incredible journey had begun, it was time for her to end this. She took a chance and told Xena what had been eating away at her soul since Xena had found her, nearly dead, on the road the day Apollo had assaulted her.
"You want the truth about what is tearing me apart inside? It wasn't just the ones we lost it
"Say it sweetheart. No matter what it is, it won't make me stop loving you. I promise you. I told you I'd stand by you and I meant it."
"The truth is...I thought I'd lost you."
Xena felt as if she'd been slapped in the face. What could she have possibly done to make Gabrielle feel as if she'd lost her? A burning need to make Gabrielle truly understand how wrong she was took root in Xena's heart.
"You were the victim Gabrielle. You did nothing wrong! How could you think that would drive me away?"
"You seemed to pull away from me after it happened. I was so disgusted with myself...I thought you felt the same way."
"I thought I was doing what you wanted. You needed something Gabrielle and I didn't know what that was or how to give it too you."
"I needed you Xena."
Xena's heart broke at Gabrielle's words. How could she have been so blind? How could she have turned away from her closest friend when she'd her the most?
"Oh, Gabrielle. I'm so sorry."
Gabrielle let herself cry the final tears in this sad tale of rage, vengeance, and ultimately forgiveness. Xena wrapped her in her strong embrace and Gabrielle melted into her. In Xena's arms Gabrielle felt she had finally come home. Peace, sweet peace, replaced the pain in her heart, and once again Gabrielle's soul was alive. She was a long way from being whole woman again, but she was no longer broken and alone. She loved and she was loved in return, and to Gabrielle that was the most precious knowledge she could ever hope to possess.
"I love you Gabrielle."
"I love you too Xena."
Xena caught sight of Eve watching them from behind a nearby tree and motioned for the newest edition to the family to join them. When Eve was next to her, Gabrielle gave her the kiss she'd promised to deliver from Solan.
"What's that for?"
"It's from your brother. I'll tell you all about him some day."
"I'd like that."
"Let's get out of here huh?" Gabrielle suggested. "I have a lot of wrongs to set-" Gabrielle caught herself at Xena and Eve's sharp looks of disapproval. "I have a lot of wrongs to set right, and a lot of help to do it. Thank you Eve. I owe you my soul. I love you, you know."
"And I owe you mine. I'd say we were even and uh, I love you too."
The three women began to make their way from the steadily darkening forest, side by side. Five months ago, Gabrielle's soul had died at the hands of hatred, but on this day, it had been reborn and given a new lease on life by the nurturing hands of love. Pure, honest love. As Gabrielle took her first tentative steps onto the road of redemption, she remembered the words spoken by her old dear friend and teacher Eli. For the first time, she truly understood what they meant.
Love is the way.