FIN: The Proper Ending
Gabrielle reached the plateau beside the Fountain of Strength and paused to catch her breath. She looked around. She listened as Xena had taught her seeking the 'sounds behind the sounds'. All was quiet. The setting sun reminded her of the time slipping by. She moved to the fountain and opened the casket she carried.
"I'll soon have you back, Xena," she murmured and lifted the casket on to the edge of the Fountain.
Gabrielle swung around and found herself facing Xena's form behind her.
"Xena!" What do you mean, no?" Gabrielle stared in stunned disbelief at the apparition of her soul-mate.
"Gabrielle, I must stay dead to allow the 40,000 souls to receive grace by having their vengeance".
"What!. .But Xena..."
"I know, Gabrielle, but this is how it must be."
"Who says so?," Gabrielle stared horror-stricken at her soulmate.
"Akami. She says she didn't tell me before because she was afraid I wouldn't go through with it"
Gabrielle was silent for a long moment. Her mind was in a whirl. Then it cleared. Something wasn't right here.
"What makes you so sure she is telling you the truth, Xena?"
"Why would she lie to me?" replied Xena, astonished.
"Think, Xena. She has lied to you many times in the past. She lied to you about the ransom. She lied to you about where you were going when she took you north instead of south to her fathers house. She tricked you into giving her the knowledge about the pinch so she could use it to kill her father. And she would have known that the townspeople would be against her ashes going to the family crypt because she had dishonoured herself by killing her father. I bet she expected them to kill you so she would have you with her in death as she wanted. It all fits, Xena. Can't you see that? Please Xena," Gabrielle pleaded.
Xena's heart was wrenched as she saw her soul-mate's tears. But still she hesitated. She gazed at her friend. Her beloved. She saw the tears trickle down the beautiful face.
"If only I knew for sure, Gabrielle. I feel responsible for all those 40,000 souls."
"Xena, the fire was an accident," wailed Gabrielle desperately.
"Xena. Gabrielle. Be easy."
The sudden sound of a third voice startled both Xena and Gabrielle and they both looked around for the source. A glowing figure of a man in a green robe slowly materialised beside Xena's form.
"Eli," gasped both women.
Eli smiled and gestured Gabrielle closer. "That was clever of you Gabrielle."
"Clever? What do you mean, Eli" Gabrielle reached out with both hands tentatively and they were gently caught in Eli's. He smiled gently.
"I mean to reason out the truth like that, my friend. Akami, come here."
Akami's form materialised before them. "Xena what are.." Then she saw Eli's form and immediately bowed low. "High One.."
"Akami, you will tell Xena and Gabrielle the truth." Eli's voice was quiet but stern.
Akami looked away.
"I.. I only wanted Xena to be with me. She loved me before she met Gabrielle. She should be with me."
"Akami when did I say I loved you," Xena demanded in astonishment.
"You would have come to love me. I could have convinced you. I know I could have made you happy. I still can... Please Xena, I love you."
"You love getting your own way don't you, Akami," Gabrielle was staring coldly at Akami.
"Xena should be with me. She belongs to me."
"That's not how love works Akami," Eli's voice was calm. He looked at Akami gravely. "Akami it is time you faced the consequences of your actions. It was not Xena's fault the fire took those 40,000 lives... True she must bear some of the blame but you are the one who must bear ultimate responsibility for the fire. Not Xena. It was your action in killing your father and getting Xena to take your ashes to the family crypt that caused the fire. It is you who must pay for the tragedy, not Xena. You may go."
"Nooo..," Akami's voice fades as her apparition fades away.
Eli turns to Gabrielle. "Gabrielle, put Xena's ashes in the fountain. There is still just time."
Gabrielle turned and poured the ashes into the fountain. The water clouded over then began to bubble as if it were boiling. A steam-like cloud rose from the water. When it cleared Xena's head was visible gasping for breath and her arms thrashing the water as she struggled to stay afloat.
"Gabrielle...I'm coming." Xena reached the edge and tried to heave herself out of the water. But she was to weak. Gabrielle grasped her soul-mate and helps her out of the fountain. She was naked. Gabrielle grabbed her and hugged her tightly. The hug was returned with gusto.
Gabrielle looked at Xena through her tears of joy. "Oh dear, I haven't got a cloak or anything for you."
"Ahem. Allow me."
As both women turned to Eli he gestured and Xena is clothed in her usual leather outfit complete with sword and armour.
"Thanks Eli," said Xena.
Gabrielle held out the chakram and Xena takes it with a smile.
Gabrielle turns to Eli. "Eli how come you could interfere with things here, so far from Greece or Rome?"
"Because you are needed Gabrielle. There is still much for you and Xena to do in this life. Also it is clear that the two of you work best together. You need each other. Now I must go. I suggest you head for Egypt. I think it was your original intent was it not? You will find you are needed there. Until next time ladies." He faded from their sight.
Gabrielle turned and hugged her partner again. "Don't you ever do that again! Understand?"
"Die without my permission. I forbid it. Is that clear?"
Xena returns the hug. "Perfectly clear, my love. Come on. Egypt awaits us."
Arm in arm, they set of down the mountain.