Without You

by Darkone

Disclaimers: The usual...

Written February 1997

Xena awoke, screaming, the nightmare had returned. More intense than ever, Gabrielle's scream as she pushed Xena out of the firebolt Ares's chosen, Nadamius, fired. The shock had thrown her back and Gabrielle's staff was a charred peice of timber. Her screams turned to body racking sobs as Nadria and Sia rushed in to comfort her. The amazon ranger, Nadria, and her lover, a lean warrior, Sia, had stayed with Xena since their failed attempt to stop Nadamius. Xena hadn't given up though, they had tracked him for 2 weeks, and were finally on the outskirts of his camp. Sia was mute, so Nadria posed the questions on both their minds.

"Xena? We're hear for you, we know your pain, let us help you." Xena looked at them, her anger welling up inside her. She threw Nadria back and leapt on top of her, punching as Nadria sheilded herself with her forearms.

"You know?! You know?! How dare you say that! You don't know what I'm going through! Gabrielle is gone! I failed her! My love wasn't enough to sheild her, my strength wasn't enough to protect her. What good can I be now that she's gone?" Her rage spent, she collapsed on top of Nadria, crying as her body shuddered in spasms, her heart breaking and falling to shatter at her knees on the ground. Sia, sure that Xena was no real threat to her mate, walked over and grasped Xena's shoulders. Xena lay back as her greif consumed her.

'This greif will kill her or get her killed!' Sia used the Ledra's cant, a form of sign language, invented by a deaf amazon of the same name. Nadria nodded her head in agreement and looked at Xena.

"Xena, this greiving is killing you, slowly, surely. How do you expect to defeat Nadamius if you fight him like this? How do you expect to go on?"

Xena looked at the ranger, a weariness only the pain of loss could bring to the soul, "I don't." Xena rose to her feet and fastened her armour, a task she had become familiar with once again. A task she had hoped would be the bard's till the day they settled down. But that day would never come, the amazon bard had gone to the Elyssian Feilds without her, she had no reason to go on. Even if she went to Tartarus, the pain inflicted there would be more bearable than this soul shattering emptiness. "I loved you so, You can't expect me to forgive this? Much less go on? I can't! The pain is too much!" Xena discarded the armour and headed back to the fireside.

Nadria and Sia couldn't beleive what they heard. Xena couldn't be serious, she wasn't going to do something stupid to get herself killed was she? Xena returned, a look of emptiness in her eyes. Her eyes, those blue orbs had no light in them, all that was there was a shattered window to a lost soul. She grabbed her scabbard, sword and chakrum and went about placing them on her body in the proper places. That's when the amazons saw that Xena hadn't put on her armour.

'Your armour.' Sia signed.

Xena shook her head,"I won't be needing it. Let's go."

Nadria bowed her head,"Folish." The ranger grabbed her bow and quiver and strapped them to her back alongside her ssword's scabbard.

Nadria started out to her vantage point, hopping from treetop to treetop, snapping arrows out and firing at the sentries. They never got the chance to raise alarm. Sia was going around, covertly taking out warriors as quickly as she could. Sia looked up to see Xena, maniacally weaving a dance of steel at six attackers, she showed no mercy, and once done? Four soldiers were dead, and the other two decapitated. She waded through men, cutting them down with single thrusts. There was no laughter in her eyes, no smile on her face, as in the past. No, there was only that maniacal stare that had been her driving force as a warlord. The remaining troops saw what she had been, and with common sense, and fear?, as their motivation they fled.

Nadamius was alone, the golden bracer, a magical weapon from Ares, glowing on his forearm. Xena smiled then, only it was the joy of finding her prey that brought it to her lips. He wasn't sure if he wanted to face this Xena, but now was too late for second thoughts. He brought his hand up and fired, a firebolt seared Xena's left shoulder. She flinched, then resumed her path to him. He fired again, burning her thigh slightly. He fired once more, and Xena somersaulted through the air.

She came down behind him, she punched her fingers into the warlord's throat and watched him fall to his knees, spasming as a stream of blood trailed his nose.

Nadria ran up and stared as the man began turning purple, "Xena! Release him!" Xena started to turn and walk away as Nadria spoke again,"So, You are willing to part with your soul? Willing to break the one promise you made to the one you loved? Your soul is cheaply purchased!"

Xena turned, murder flashing in her eyes, and released him. He collapsed as Xena removed the bracer, tossing it on a rock, she shattered it with a strike of her chakrum. She stood and walked to the edge of Nadamius's camp, and collapsed, the last words from her lips before fatigue drug her down: "I can't go on without you. Please, take me to my Gabrielle."

She awoke two days later at the inn at Vandios, an inn run by a wise old centaur named Kryminor. He had become famous for the spirits he brewed, and opened an inn with that brew as his main attraction. It tasted so sweet, and quickly intoxicated the drinker. It was served in glasses so short, you could take one quick slug and it was gone. The liquor made the customer hungry as well. Some customers had even claimed it to have healing properties! Xena stood and inventoried the wounds on her body and saw that she was going to live, not even a scar!

'Damn! Nadria and her Artemis given ability to heal!' She stood and went downstairs and saw the centaur tending bar.

"You! 'Keep! I want Port!" The centaur looked at her and nodded, grabbing a stein and a bottle. Xena grabbed the bottle and abandoned the stein.

After about two weeks, Xena sits alone everynight, drinking the brew that Kryminor invented, she has moved to drinking bottles of it.

Kryminor comes to her table and grabs the bottle.

"I beleive you've had enough warrior."

Xena glares at the centaur;"Enough? Ha! I haven't even schtarted yet!" She slurred. Kryminor slammed his hand on the table and looked her in those blue eyes.

"If you keep this up? Especially with that stuff, you'll be dead in a few days." He holds her glare as she looks up at him.

"Good." was the only word she said. Two hours later, she is asleep at her table when familiar hands rest on her forearm.

"Gabrielle?" Xena raises her head and in the enebreated blur of red hair and slightly tanned skin, she smiles. Nadria shakes her head and slaps Xena slightly, trying to wake her up. Xena snaps out of it quickly, and catches Nadria's hand; "Touch me again? I'll break this off!" She shoves Nadria back. Sia steps up and glares at her, Nadria places a hand against her mate's chest, shaking her head 'No'.

"Xena? It's time for bed. Come upstairs and sleep." Xena spits out her next statement, uncaring of the damage she might do; "Sure! Why not! Just keep it down you two! If I hear you two making out one more night? I'll scream!"

The two amazons look to the floor, the statement had hurt. But Nadria knew it was said in anger. Sia,however, was agry and slapped Xena hard, knocking her over the table. The fall, and Xena's drunken state, make her lose conciousness. Sia looked down at her and slung the tall warrior over her right shoulder and headed for the stairs. Nadria stopped to talk to Kryminor.

"Our friend is having trouble sleeping. Do you have something that will put her down for the night?"

The centaur smiled as he grabbed a vial of powder and mixed it with water in a stein. "This should give her sweet dreams. Don't let her drink too much at once though." Nadria smiles her thank you and heads upstairs.

Nadria arrives and hands the mug to Sia and tells her to let Xena drink. She holds Xena's head up and holds the mug to her lips, the warrior grabs it and begins guzzling the liquid, but Sia grabs her and pulls the mug away.

Xena immediately succumbs to the mixture and falls asleep. For the first time in five weeks, Xena dreams. But the dream is not of a crime from her past, but of making love to the only person she loved more than anything. Long red-gold hair, blue-green eyes. Firm erect breasts, toned thighs. A smile so lovely, the gods themselves would melt. Lips so tender and young. Those lips hold the promise of love. Arms so fragile, yet strong enough to hold her as they kiss and explore one another's body. This moment could last forever.

"Gabrielle? I've loved you so long. I was afraid to give my love a name! But it had one. You." Gabrielle merely smiles as she kisses the warrior princess. Gabrielle lays her back, skin touching everywhere, Xena's senses went into overload as the bard gently, timidly made love to her for the first time. She couldn't beleive that she surrendered control so easily. The bard's touch was everywhere. Igniting her passion as she moved her hips in rhythm to Gabrielle's motions. She lets herself lose the need for control. Her Gabrielle was here, making love to her, slowly, sweetly. She could hardly wait her turn to please the woman she loved. She felt her hands run up those satin smooth thighs as she closed her mouth around Gabrielle's breast. Teasing, Tasting. Then the bard said six words, "I need you. Come to me."

Morning, Xena opened her eyes, smiling, until she looked down to see a pillow clasped in her embrace. The reality was too much. She felt it, the emptiness was beaconing her to it. She began to weep and she screamed.


Suddenly, she was in the undergod's throneroom.

"You called?" The Underworld King's smile was genuine.

Xena sneered at him as she spoke: "Where is she! Take me to her! NOW!"

Hades is puzzled; "Take you to whom?"

"Don't talk down to me, Hades! You know who I'm talking about! Gabrielle! Take me to her."Her voice cracked and become low, childlike: "Please?"

Hades got up, looking at Persephone, who only shrugged. "Gabrielle? Xena, I don't have her. She's not in the Feilds." Xena looked at him, anger welling within as she shoved him. "Don't try to trick me! I saw her die! I know she's here!" She draws a sword from a wall and holds it to his throat.

"Xena?" She turns and Persephone is walking to her, arms outstretched,"If he says that he doesn't have her, then she can't be dead." Xena is slumping against the table as this idea is presented to her. "Of course! Xena, Let me show you something, alright?" He takes the warriors hand and a cyclone of images appear around them. After a few moments, it is over. "She isn't here. That means she is still alive. Go where your heart leads. I'll help you find her if I can."

Xena awoke in her bed, Nadria and Sia standing over her. The expression on her face confused them both as Xena wrapped them both in a hug. "She's alive! She's not dead! We have to move south!" The two amazons looked at each other confused as Xena packed her things.

At that moment, in the fortress city of Epenos, two figures are running from roof to roof. One tall and thin, the other, short and trim. They stop at the oblisk in the center of town. They give each other the 'thumbs up' signal and begin scaling down the hole in the roof of the obelisk. There, the objective, a huge emerald eye held by a statue. The statue of Peiros, a titan of the forest. The statue has a trap, however. If the emerald is tampered with? The obelisk collapses. The short figure has a ball of melted sugar, colored with dye. The second the tall figure lifts it, the short one replaces the emerald with the sugar ball. The tall one places his hand on the emerald as the short one holds the sugar ball close. The tall one pulls up on the emerald as the short figure rolls the ball into place. The statue still stands! The two figures give each other the 'thumbs up' again as they scale the ropes again. Once uptop, they remove their masks.

"Very good, Sylva! You're an excellent student!" the man has long straight black hair, tyed back in a ponytail, a goatee, and mustache. He smiles at his prize pupil, who removes her mask, long red hair, and smiling blue green eyes flash as she smiles. "Thank you, Hermes! I had an excellent teacher!" She hugs her teacher closely.

Four days later, at the tavern they live in, Sylva was quiet. Hermes looked at her, smiling, "Problem?"

Sylva jumped,"No! Nothing, I just--" Hermes leaned over and tweaked her nose.

"You don't lie well, Sylva! Out with it!" He chided.

"Have you ever thought that your life wasn't your own? Like the life you lived was a lie?"

"What's wrong with this life? Haven't I taught you well? Showed you all the skills you possess? Even your sword skills are improving. Your acrobatic skills are showing progress too. But I do wish that you would stop doing that infenal yelling as you flip through the air. And this finger jabbing in the neck? What's this "I've cut off the flow of blood to your brain. You have thirty seconds to live, if you don't tell me what I want to know?"

Sylva is unsure as she answers,"It seems to be a part of me, I can't explain it, but it's familiar."

At that moment three women walk in, Nadria, Sia, and Xena. Hermes looks up and smiles as Sylva turns in the direction of the three women. Xena and Sylva lock eyes as the two women look on in shock. All the hope, compounded by the greif and Xena's breakneck pace without rest take their toll on Xena's mind, body, and soul. Sylva snaps out of it, and Xena collapses.

Sylva instinctively runs across the room and cradles the warrior in her arms, not knowing why. Sia is in shock as Nadria looks down at the redhaired woman holding Xena.

"Who? How?" Nadria is dumbfounded. Sylva lays Xena down on the floor and stands.

"Your-- Friend? Is she alright?" Nadria helps Sia lift her up and they carry her to a room. Nadria returns and looks at Sylva from head to toe.

Sylva looks at her,"Yes?"

"I'm sorry, but you look so much like a friend of ours. Xena was really close to her. We're sorry to have startled you. Would you join us for our evening meal?"

She looks at Hermes who nods his consent. "I would love to." Sylva flashes a wicked smile at Hermes as she leaves.

That evening, Sylva's eyes are locked on Xena's. Her body begins shaking as she sees Xena smile. She feels a warmth between her legs as she continues to gaze into those eyes. She smiles, a smile she knows is familiar and sees how Xena shakes at the sight of it. 'Why? Why does this woman make me feel this way?'

"I'm sorry, I shouldn't stare. But you look so much like her, I can't help it."

"It's okay, Xena." For some reason she reaches out to touch Xena's shoulder, and the warrior shudders again. Sylva pulls away; "I'm sorry! Tell me about your friend. She sounds special to you."

"She is--was." Xena begins drinking again, and finally, she's so drunk she falls over, asleep.

Nadria gets up to help the warrior, but Sylva waves her back. She gets up and walks the warrior to her room. Once there, she lays Xena down and starts to pull back, when Xena leans up and kisses her. It's a kiss she had been wanting to give Gabrielle forever, Sylva didn't fight it, enjoying it until she felt herself push her tongue into Xena's mouth. She pulls back and leaves, startled. When she's down stairs she waves good-bye to the two amazons. As she walks, three thugs surround her in the alley and push her up against the wall. She reaches out to grab something, anything. She wraps her hands around a pole, as tall as she is and begins weaving an intricate box around herself as she fights the thugs.

"Hey, Girlie! We just want some action!"

She smiles;"Action? Here you go!" She proceeds to disable them, one at a time, until she stands alone in the alley. Suddenly, Hermes appears at her side.

"Well-well, my prize student doesn't need anymore instruction. You've made your decision?"

Sylva is confused; "Decision? Hermes, what are you talking about?"

He shakes his head; "That woman you can't keep your eyes off of? The way you react to her smile and her reaction to your touch? Think Sylva. What do you remember before us."

She tries to concentrate and the memories flood back. All the adventures, all the time spent together. The memory of her first realizing she loved her warrior princess. She looks at her former mentor and smiles, "Can you change me into my old clothes?"

Hermes smiles back; "I've got something better!" He snaps his fingers and a cloak appears around her. She looks down to see her old clothes and smiles at him one last time. "Thank you." She kisses his cheek and he vanishes. She walks into the inn and waves at Nadria and Sia.

"Hello, sisters." They look up and are amazed as they stand and look at their friend.

"Sylva, this is one sick trick to play on Xena! She's heartbroken--"

"Nadria. It's me, Gabrielle. I can't explain now, but-"

"Really? If you're Gabrielle, prove it!"

Gabrielle raises a finger to her lips and smiles; "Nadria, I presided over your Kamfar. In Melosa's place while she visited the centaurs."

"Xena could have told you that."

"Yes, she could have, but I know something she doesn't. Something that only the ones in the ceremony, and those bearing witness to it would know. Xena was sent to the border of the village, remember?"

"Yes, so?" Gabrielle looks her in the eyes; "An amazon wouldn't betray the trust I'm about to tell you. Sia danced for you."

Realization dawns on the amazons at this statement and they hug the amazon bard tightly.

"I have to go to Xena now, we have so much time to make up for." Gabrielle walks to the stairs and gets to the door. She takes a deep breath and opens the door. Xena was asleep as she walked in, she pulled the cloak over her shoulders and the hood over her head. She walked to her beloved's bed and placed a finger to her lips. Xena's head rolls back and her eyes open.

"Gabrielle?" Her eyes are pleading as the figure pushes the hood back. "Sylva?" Her heart sinks as quickly as it rises.

"No, Xena. It's me, Gabrielle." She pulls the cloak over her shoulders and her body is naked, all golden brown, toned, and needing her warrior's touch. She falls to her knees on the bed and kisses Xena possessively.

"Hermes, saved me from Nadamius's firebolt. He trained me to be a theif, and how to defend myself. But what I had learned from you only made his teachings redundant. It was a test." Gabrielle's hands are busy pushing Xena's chemise over her shoulders as she kisses them.

"A test? What kind of test?"

"Hermes wanted to prove my love wasn't just a phase I was going through, before Cupid had me made to fall in love with you. But my love was real. That's why my fighting style mimicked yours, even your battlecry. My love wouldn't let me forget. Xena even in my amnesiac state, my love held true to you. Hermes wiped my memories away to hide me from Ares and to try to cut our bond. It hid me from Ares, but it didn't sever the bond."

Xena realizes the reason why she headed here now.

"Gabrielle, you are my heart, that's why I came. Without you in my life? I'm nothing. All I am is empty without you. Please say I'm not dreaming. I couldn't take waking up without you in my arms tomorrow."

"Xena, I doubt either one of us will get any sleep tonight. I'm going to make love to you until sunrise. That's a promise." She smiled as she began tracing her fingers down her warrior's body, paying close attention to what made her jump, contract, moan. Gabrielle continued her exploration with her lips and tongue as Xena tried to hold on, the dawn's light was something she was looking forward to.


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