Characters: Xena, Gabrielle, Argo and any other text or characters mentioned from the original series are owned by Renaissance Pictures, Studio USA. No copyright infringement is intended. This is fan fiction just for fun. Any resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental. Some of the characters may be theirs but the story is mine. Copyright Jul, 2001. Rev. 1b Dec 2001
Warning: Rated as adult material for violence and a loving relationship between two consenting adults. If you are easily offended please read something else.
Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org Constructive comments and criticisms or just plain chats, whether you liked it or not are most welcome. No flames please.
Warning: If you haven't seen 'The Last Battleground: A Friend in Need' STOP! This story contains spoilers!
Where You Go
She stood on the ramparts, in the predawn light, her short golden blond hair blowing in the light breeze. The guards knew to leave her some privacy in her early morning vigils. She was dressed for the battle to come, in the armor made for her in Japa, her katana riding her left hip, the chakram on her right, and her sais in her boots. She had come to love this time of morning. It was the time when the world was at peace before a new and busy day. It was one of her favorite times to talk to Xena, something she had not done in some time.
'Are you there my love?'
She waited patiently while watching the silent camps of the armies that surrounded their fortress. The forces had been gathering for several days as they had goaded them to do. So far they had not attacked merely put on a show of force. That would change soon.
'Xena. Are you still mad? I could use your support right now.'
She could see the first few signs that the armies were beginning to come awake. Soon it would be time to make their final preparations. Behind her she could hear the activities, of her army, as they prepared for battle.
'Xena. It's my last day. Don't you think you've been silent long enough?
She felt a feather light touch on her shoulder and much of her tension faded away.
'Thank you. I really would like to have you near right now.'
'I'm here, Gabrielle.'
'Are you still mad at me?'
'Yes. What you're doing is madness. You had your whole life ahead of you.'
'No Xena. My life ended on Mount Fuji when you refused to allow me to bring you back to life.'
'You know I had to stay or all those souls would have been lost, Gabrielle.'
'Yes. I know. Just as you know that Akemi is to blame, not you, but still you stayed.
'No Gabrielle. I started the fire, I….'
'Xena can we not do this again. It doesn't matter anymore.'
Xena sighed and gently squeezed her shoulder. 'You're right, it doesn't.'
'Any problems with my plan?' She kept her thought neutral.
'Tactically, in this situation, with your goals, no.'
Gabrielle smiled to herself. Xena may have been silent but she had still been watching.
"What?" Then she said. 'Quiet or your men will hear you!'
'I knew you didn't leave.'
'Oh.' Xena chuckled. 'Very clever my bard.'
Gabrielle raised her hand and Xena gently enclosed it in her larger hand. Gabrielle squeezed it tightly.
'I know. It's natural before a battle. It will leave you when the fight begins.'
'I know but right now it feels really good to know you're here. Especially for this battle. I wish I could have been there for you. I hate that you died alone.'
'I'll be right by your side, Gabrielle and I wasn't alone. You were with me every step of the way.'
Gabrielle heard footsteps coming towards her.
"Good morning, Commander Andrius," she said without looking around.
He stopped next to her, towering over her by more than a head.
"Good morning, General Gabrielle," he answered.
'Gods I feel ridiculous when they call me that, Xena.'
Xena chuckled. 'Part of the price you pay when you're in charge, Gabrielle. Men need a leader to have a respected title.'
"Are we ready for them Commander?"
"Yes General. Just as you planned."
"Good. Remember we want them to come through the breach in the wall. We want them to come in the back way. Entice them, then get out of there."
"I understand General. Have you spotted their leaders yet?"
"They're setting their formations so that their leaders should appear within that area there. They will be easy to spot. In all their prancing around yesterday there appears to be five, besides the Khan, that I need worry about. They will line up behind the Khan to watch the battles progress. To be successful in our goals I must at least get the Khan then the other five, if possible. When that happens the armies should withdraw. With luck Commander, some of you may survive."
"Gabrielle, I wish you would reconsider and let us try."
"Thank you, Commander Andrius, but no. We must get the Khan to dissolve his armies, or he will overrun all of Greece, slaughtering everything in his path. I stand the best chance."
"Then let me send a larger contingent with you."
"No Commander. I stand a better chance with the small contingent I have now. They won't think us much threat until it's too late. Thank you for your concern but it's more important that you attack the two armies flanking the Khan, to draw them away from him. Remember to keep your men hidden until they have committed, then we go out to meet them."
"Yes General," he answered, then turned to her and extended his arm. "It has been an honor to know you these few months, Gabrielle."
She grasped his arm firmly. "Thank you, Andrius. I feel the same way."
He stepped back and saluted her then turned away.
'Do you think I stand a chance of getting them all Xena?'
Gabrielle snorted. 'No you don't!'
Xena sighed. 'Just get the Khan and you will have succeeded, Gabrielle.'
Battle horns blared around them and the armies began to form up. Her decoys ran up the steps to man the ramparts.
'Hold me, Xena.'
She felt Xena's arms wrap around her and pull tight.
'You must be strong, Gabrielle.'
'When it starts. Right now I need you to be strong for me.'
Xena chuckled. Gabrielle had wrapped her arms tight to Xena's arms. 'If your men look up here, Gabrielle they may think it odd that you are hugging yourself.'
'I don't care. Just don't let go.'
She watched in silence as the armies finished forming up. Finally the Khan rode out to the little knoll with his five chieftains behind him. It was time.
Horns blared, but no one in front of her moved. Gabrielle released her hold on Xena and turned to watch the action behind them. Men came pouring over the hill towards their damaged fortress. It had taken them three long days and nights to cause the damage to lure them in.
'You'll stay with me?'
'I said I would, Gabrielle.'
She turned to Xena looking into her dazzling blue eyes and brushing her hand lightly over her cheek. "In case I don't get a chance later, I love you, Xena."
"I love you too, Gabrielle." Xena leaned down and kissed her lightly. 'For luck.'
'I'll see you soon.'
'I'll be waiting.'
Authors Note: The essence of the story is complete. For those who prefer the gruesome and sappy details, please read on.
Gabrielle walked slowly down the steps and took the reins, of her horse, from the young soldier trying to calm him down. She spoke soothingly to the agitated animal rubbing her hand affectionately along his neck.
"Easy boy, I'm here. Settle down. Easy. Good boy." She continued to rub his nose and neck, soothing him and he settled considerably, nuzzling her chest.
She had had Nightmare for nearly a year. He was a large, black, warhorse, very powerful, fast, and young. He got his name from the men that tried to break him. They tried for several months, but though they sometimes got a saddle on him, no one could stay in it. No one wanted him and he was about to go to the meat market when Gabrielle saw him. She bought him over Xena's loud protests. Gabrielle had given more than she probably could have but much less than they asked, when she inquired. She had studied the situation first and knew the horse was unmanageable.
They were amazed when she was able to bridle him after only a quarter hour. Within half an hour she had him saddled and her gear loaded. She calmed him again then gently climbed into the saddle. Nightmare reared once, screaming his protest, to let her know he was still in charge, and then she rode him away without further problems, to the astonishment of everyone else there, including many who had bets that he'd injure her.
With Xena's help she had trained him until he was as well trained as Argo had been, responding to the reins and to the touch of her legs.
Someone once tried to ride him and if Gabrielle hadn't come on the scene Nightmare would have killed him. The soldier that brought him out was tolerated to feed, groom, and lead him by the reins; after much persuasion by Gabrielle, but no one else went near him.
She climbed into the saddle and Nightmare let her get settled before rearing to let her know he was still in charge.
'I still think you bought him to break your neck, Gabrielle.'
She felt the pressure of Xena's arms around her waist.
'I would have been with you sooner if he had. I had nothing to lose. Besides, I couldn't let them make dinner out of him, and he reminded me of you.' She answered.
'Me! Why would he remind you of me?'
'Cantankerous crusty old warrior, unmanageable by anyone except a certain bard, who has them wrapped around her little finger. He's just like you really.'
'Gabrielle, I am not old!'
'Neither is he!' She chuckled.
Nightmare continued to move around in an agitated fashion and she continued to speak to him softly. He could sense the emotions, caused by the coming battle, and he wanted to get into the action.
When the gates opened, Gabrielle lifted her katana in salute, as Nightmare reared, and the army began pouring out the gate.
A shouted chant, to honor this little warrior they had known for so short a time, but come to love and respect, went up from her army. "Gabrielle! Gabrielle! Gabrielle!" they shouted as they passed by her, and ran out the gates.
She had all she could do to hold Nightmare back. Finally the last warrior was off the ramparts and through the gates leaving no one inside. With the enemy coming up behind her, through the empty fort, she walked Nightmare out the gate. A dozen warriors closed the gates and dropped a heavy beam into place to bar the door from the outside. The army entering the rear of the fort would be stopped, at least for a while. Long enough, she believed.
Gabrielle sat quietly just outside the gates with the six mounted warriors behind her, lined up like the Khan's leaders, and waited while her armies engaged the enemy to both sides of the Khan's position. She opened her senses in preparation for the battle. When the Khan's armies diverted left and right, leaving her an opening, she waited a little longer, until the gap had widened.
She screamed a battle cry, similar to Xena's, into the air and, once her men had passed her, nudged Nightmare into motion. She had to hold him back to keep him from running over her own men.
Her lead guard took her through the first wave of defenders, but only two were ahead of her when they hit the second. Then she was alone, and her katana sang a song of death around her, as Nightmare literally ran over anything in his path. A blade cut a long gash in her left leg before her katana removed the offending blade and hand.
She was through and on to the next group of twenty men; all that stood between her and the Khan. She went into them at full speed, her katana cutting them down like a scythe through grain. Nightmare screamed as he drove his way through them. She knew he was injured, but he gamely continued up the hill towards their target.
The Khan had turned to retreat and his chieftains came to meet her. She fought them on both sides, her heightened battle senses anticipating their every move. As her katana took the sword arm off of one, that would have decapitated her, another drove his sword through her side.
"Xena!" She screamed as she took his head off and her name became Gabrielle's battle cry. She deflected the blade of the next one, then slashed back across his throat, screaming the warrior's name. She sensed the knife coming and ducked as much as she could and still deflect the descending blow. It went into her back, high on her left shoulder, as she turned to the man on her left. She ducked his blow and her katana went through his heart; then she felt Nightmare stumble. She blocked the sword of the last man as Nightmare dropped beneath her, then kicked free of the saddle and landed on her feet, as her trusty warhorse went into the dust. Three men rushed her on foot and she could sense the fifth rider as he turned back for the kill. She was weakening from her wounds. She was nearly out of time. She fought furiously, killing two of the three, taking several injuries herself, one of them through her lung, but she was in battle frenzy and still had a little time. She had an instants clear view of the Khan's fleeing back. She tossed her katana to her left hand, to hold the last warrior at bay, then lifted the chakram and released it towards the Khan with all her strength. In the same motion she pulled a sais from her boot, flipped it to grab the blade and threw it over her shoulder into the last man's chest even as he bore down on her and swung his sword. The last thing she saw, before the blade cut into her neck was the chakram plunging deep into the Khan's back severing his spine.
She stood surrounded by white mist, her katana still in her hand. She looked herself over, surprised to find the chakram on her hip. She found no injuries.
"Xena?" she said, into the impenetrable mist, then looked all around her, but she could see nothing.
The mists began to thin and she found herself near a large rock, near a sparkling pool fed by a delightful little waterfall.
"Xena, where are you?"
She returned the katana to its scabbard, and sat on the rock, gazing into the pool, waiting for Xena. Her senses warned her and she turned. A tall, dark complected, heavy man with long flowing hair and beard, wild black eyes, and soft leather garments, strode towards her. He had his sword in his hand.
She stood, pulling the katana, moving away from the pool to give herself room to move.
He stopped less than five paces away from her and she could read the fury in his eyes.
"This cannot be true!" he stormed. "You are nothing but a small worthless girl! I'm the great Kherstis Khan! No girl child can defeat me!"
"This worthless girl child did," Gabrielle said coolly.
He growled in rage and attacked her. She deflected his blows, giving ground while she studied him, then, in a blur, she had disarmed him and her katana pressed hard into his neck.
"The battle is over. You have been defeated. Fighting here does you no good," she said softly. She stepped back and he disappeared.
Another form darkened the mists and stepped into her view.
"Commander Andrius. I'm sorry," she said, tears clouding her eyes, as she returned her katana to its scabbard and moved towards him.
He stepped forward and took her hands, smiling. "Don't be, Gabrielle. We knew what we were going into. We did it to stop that monster, and it worked. Besides, the battle swept past me, and I got to see one of the most magnificent warriors I have ever known, in action. There is none better than you, Gabrielle."
"There is one, Andrius. She is truly the greatest warrior ever, and the most selfless. She willingly gave up her life to fight the eater of souls, here in the spirit world, to free forty thousand souls. I wait for her now."
He nodded. "Xena. Your stories do her great honor, Gabrielle."
"Not as much as she deserves," she answered.
He bent low and kissed the back of her right hand. "I shall never forget you, Gabrielle." He released her hand and faded from her sight.
"Are you quite through entertaining?" Xena said from behind her.
"Xena!" Gabrielle cried, turning and throwing her arms around the warrior and sobbing into her shoulder.
Xena wrapped her in a bear hug. "I'm here, Gabrielle," she whispered, tears running down her face. Gabrielle raised her tear stained face and pressed her lips softly to Xena's. Then she pushed away and slapped Xena hard enough to make her eyes water. Xena was so startled she dropped her, looking in amazement at the rage in her eyes.
"Don't you ever do that again!" Gabrielle screamed. "We're partners! Soulmates! Where you go, I go!"
"Gabrielle…." Xena started, backing away from the irate bard.
"Don't you Gabrielle me, warrior princess!" She stormed after her shaking her fist in Xena's face. "You left me, Xena! How could you!"
Xena found herself backed against the rock near the pond, and sat down suddenly. Gabrielle put her hands on Xena's knees and leaned across her until their noses almost touched and said, in a threatening growl, "Next time you leave me, warrior princess…."
"What?" Xena said grinning. "What will you do, little warrior queen."
Gabrielle kissed her softly, then said. "This!" She tweaked her nose.
"Ouch! Hey!" She reached for Gabrielle's ribs and Gabrielle squealed and squirmed away.
Gabrielle backed away and held her hands out in front of her. "Wait, Xena!"
Xena paused and Gabrielle unbuckled her katana, removed the chakram, and her sais and gently laid them down. "Just wait now!" she said backing away, then she turned and ran. Xena dropped her sword and took off after her.
"I want my chakram back, Gabrielle!"
"It's mine, Xena! You left it behind, wouldn't take it when I offered it!"
"I couldn't take it! I want it back now!" She lunged at the bard.
Gabrielle squealed and ran faster, but her legs were shorter than Xena's and the race was soon over. Xena dove at her, wrapping her arms around her and taking her off her feet and into the pond.
Gabrielle came up sputtering. Xena came up behind her and grabbed her ribs.
"Xena, no!" Gabrielle squealed, trying to get away.
Gabrielle turned and pushed her backwards and she sank into the water. Gabrielle looked around expectantly as the water calmed.
"Xena?" She began to look frantically around. "Xena!"
Suddenly there was a loud splash behind her. Xena's long arms wrapped around her and they fell into the water. Gabrielle came up sputtering again and Xena was facing her, grinning.
Gabrielle put her arms around Xena's neck. "I love you more than my life, Xena. Please don't ever leave me out of your decisions again." She kissed her gently.
"Gabrielle. I couldn't ask you…."
Gabrielle put her finger to Xena's lips. "Shush. Xena, we're soulmates. You are a part of me. When you died, part of me died. The thought that you could leave me, without even telling me, and giving me the opportunity to plan together with you, and go with you, almost killed the rest of me. Leaving me behind was not a kindness, though I know you meant it to be. I have been living in Tartarus for the time since you died. I would rather be with you, alive or dead, than to be without you."
Tears were running down Xena's face. "I'm sorry I hurt you, Gabrielle. I promise I will never leave you out again."
Gabrielle smiled then whispered, "Thank you." She kissed the warrior then ran her fingers gently over the red mark on Xena's face. "I'm sorry I hit you, Xena."
"Don't be, Gabrielle. I deserved it." Then she smiled. "Come on. I've got something to show you. They waded out of the pool and Xena whistled.
Argo came rapidly towards them, out of the diminishing mists.
"Oh, Xena! You've got Argo back!" Gabrielle said excitedly, stepping forward to hug the mare's neck.
"Yeah," Xena replied, grinning. "She just came to me the day you bought Nightmare."
"That's great, Xena!" she said, hugging the mare again. "Hello, Argo. It's good to see you again!"
Argo tossed her head and nuzzled her in the chest.
"Hey! Don't push, Argo!" She rubbed the horse's nose. She turned to Xena, smiling radiantly. "Just like old times!"
Xena shook her head. "Not quite, Gabrielle." She whistled again, a different sound, a sound Gabrielle immediately recognized and she spun around to see Nightmare galloping towards her.
"Nightmare!" She squealed and wrapped her arms tight around the stallion's neck, then stroking his long nose. "I'm sorry boy. Sorry you had to die." Nightmare whickered tossing his head, then nuzzled her.
Gabrielle turned and threw her arms around Xena, shaking with sobs.
"Hey, Gabrielle. It's okay. Without Nightmare, you never would have reached the Khan. He did what he had to do, so you could do what you had to do. He loves you very much."
Nightmare whickered tossing his head and Argo answered.
Gabrielle raised her face to Xena. "It's so sad that we have to kill each other and destroy such magnificent animals in battle."
"I know, Gabrielle, but we are a jealous, greedy, and hateful people. As long as we are, we will fight. It will be man's downfall." Xena kissed her on the nose then on the lips. "Enough of this sadness, Gabrielle. We have so much to do. There's a whole tribe of Amazons waiting to see you. Ephiny made me promise not to keep you to myself too long."
"Yeah. They're all here waiting for you," Xena said, handing her her weapons and leading her to Nightmare. "Up you go, my bard. We have things to do."
Xena climbed into Argo's saddle and they set off towards the mist together.
"So what's to do here, Xena?" Gabrielle asked.
"Not much, until you got here. Now, well let's just say we won't be bored." Xena said chuckling.
Gabrielle reached out and clasped Xena's hand. "Do we stay here forever?"
"No. Eventually we'll have to be reborn." Xena said.
"Oh, Xena! They won't separate us, will they?"
"No my bard. You are stuck with me forever."
"Oh. Well, that might be long enough," she said. "I doubt it though."
They faded into the mist hand in hand.
On the battlefield, a warrior held the head of the blond warrior high in triumph, not realizing they had won the battle but lost the war. Behind him the great Kherstis Khan lay on his face, a gaping hole in his back. There was no sign of the chakram.