XENA WARRIOR PRINCESS: TIMEGATE
“The story of a love stronger then death”
Disclaimer: The Characters of Xena, Gabrielle, and all other characters associated with the television series Xena Warrior princess are the sole property of Renaissance pictures. No copyright infringement was or is intended.
WARNING: The following piece of fan fiction contains adult material, and scenes of extreme violence. So if you’re under eighteen or are easily shocked by two people being in love, then perhaps you might like to read something other then this story.
A word from the Author: I’d like to dedicate this piece of fan fiction to Renee O’Connor a truly talented actress who has achieved so much over the past six seasons of Xena, and to Lucy Lawless who is as much the warrior princess in real life as she is on the show, and who still continue to inspire me to become all that I can hope to be…and to my husband Chris the light to my dark.
My email address is email@example.com if you like what I’ve wrote than any comments (only constructive criticism) would be greatly appreciated.
Sword in hand, Xena made her way through the silence which seemed to spread like a disease, fear seeming to seep into her skin like gas, poisoning her thoughts as she called out her friend’s name.
There was of course no reply; the only sound was the sound of her voice as it echoed back at her. For one brief flickering moment she had forgotten the reason for her friend’s unmistakable absence and the sudden realisation hit her like a knife through the heart, Gabrielle was dead. She had been dead for years now, but every day it felt as though the scab was peeled back, so that the wound of her grief might bleed afresh, and she suddenly found herself standing in the middle of a great empty hall.
On the day of her friend’s funeral, facing her friend’s sarcophagus, and for what seemed like the millionth time she imagined lifting away the lid that covered her friend’s body, imagined leaning over to kiss her, imagined those large luminous eyes just fluttering open. Xena was amazed at her ability to recollect things, for Gabrielle was even more beautiful than her memories had been able to retain, the golden hair was still thick and full, the soft velvet skin still immaculate.
How she longed to take the young woman in her arms, but she knew that she wouldn’t have really been holding her, for no amount of wishful thinking could remove the deathlike pallor, or replace the soul.
Gabrielle would never again open those lovely green eyes and drink in Xena’s presence. Xena would never again see the warmth that emanated from those wondrous eyes, every time her friend had spoken her name.
When she and Gabrielle had first met she had at once discovered the bard’s apparent fondness for small talk and chit chat...and by Zeus could this young girl talk...it was quite ironic really thought Xena to herself that this was now one of Gabrielle’s qualities she missed the most.
She also missed the long conversations they used to have over breakfast, but most of all she missed the cheerful smile that would greet her when she rose each morning. So much so that just lately it seemed the cause for good had begun to wear a little thin.
She felt so numb inside, yet still even through the numbness, the beast within her, the monster that was sleeping so close to her heart. The darker side of her nature that demanded her to deal with Gabrielle’s death in a much more physical way grew harder, and harder to control.
The cage she had subconsciously built around it was beginning to buckle from the tension that was threatening to explode, and if that were to happen, then not even Hades himself would be able to stop her.
If only she could somehow make the murdering bastards who had done this pay. If only she could make them live to regret the day they had snatched her beloved Gabrielle away from her.
She was still cursing softly to herself as she gathered together her things, as an image of Gabrielle’s battered and bleeding body suddenly flashed like lightning through her mind, fuelling her frustration, as she hauled herself up onto Argo her war-horse, the route of her destiny uncertain, as she made her way down the path before her.
Pheobus was busy working away on a pile of wood when Xena entered the village, lost in some half-hearted fantasy of the night before. He barely noticed the agitated warrior princess walking towards him, and by then it was too late.
The axe he was holding flew from his grip and impaled itself into a tree behind him as he fell into a heap at her feet.
“Why don’t ya watch where you’re going?” she said between gritted teeth. Fuelled by her anger, an anger that had for to long been suppressed.
Pausing for a moment Xena tried to gather her thoughts together; Phoebus swore he could almost hear her mind ticking over.
She remembered this young man’s face from somewhere…but where in Tarturus could that have been…ah! Of course! He had been one of the many villagers she had saved from the Gorgons so many moons ago.
Cutting her emotions off, Xena stooped to examine the young man before her…noticing that his hands where trembling as he stared nervously around him, and she immediately regretted being so curt with him.
Reaching over Xena tried to reassure him, something she wouldn’t have even considered in her murky past…but the years she and Gabrielle had spent together had made her see the world from a different point of view, and the sudden thought of the young brought fresh tears to the warrior princess’s eyes.
Moving closer Phoebus gently lifted her head up “Xena, are you alright?”
Rubbing her eyes fiercely with the back of her hands Xena tried to regain some of her composure, but found herself barely able to stand. Her unintentional meeting with Phoebus had dragged up all the misery she had been trying to bury within herself.
“I… I should be all right in a minute,” she said
Reaching over Phoebus tightly clasped her hand; his way of showing her that she was not alone. “Would you like to come inside,” he asked, his dark shadow cast eyes almost seeming to brim with understanding “Evelyn’s inside…and she’d love to see you again. We’d both love to see you again”
Phoebus found the whole scene somewhat unsettling, and it was so unlike Xena to be this open about her emotions. Up till now he could never have imagined seeing the warrior princess cry. Yet here she was standing in the middle of the village…his village, sobbing as though her heart would break.
If only Gabrielle where here then she probably would have…GABRIELLE! … His train of thought was suddenly derailed by the empty space where the young woman should be standing…by the Gods where could she be?
He had always thought that the pair had been almost inseparable… but perhaps he had been proven wrong. Maybe they had a fight, that could have probably explained away Gabrielle’s mysterious disappearance…but then even that wouldn’t have been responsible for the state of the raven haired woman before him…unless!
“What do ya want?” sighed Xena heavily, her icy blue eyes revealing the depth of her pain…but the young man’s eyes continued to remain glued to the field, as though the words somehow lay on the grass beneath his feet.
“Come on Phoebus, it can’t be all that bad”
“Well, I was just wondering…err…where Gabrielle had got to, I had always thought that you two where so close. Have you had some sort of fight…believe me whatever it is Xena…then it’s never to late to make up”
For perhaps the first time in her life Xena looked lost for words. She hadn’t expected to meet anyone here, she didn’t know where to start…she couldn’t begin to explain. Already she could feel her mind beginning to whirl at the mere thought of having to reveal the events leading to her friend’s tragic death…but finally…somehow she managed to make the words come out of her mouth.
“No, we haven’t had a fight…Gabrielle’s…Gabrielle’s dead”
Phoebus stared at her incredulously, his mind refusing to register the awful truth before him. Suddenly a voice sounded out from behind them, making them both jump…it was Phoebus’s wife Evelyn. She had been standing in the doorway the whole time, and had obviously heard the last part of their conversation.
She seemed to be almost on the verge of hysteria, as she approached the warrior princess “Gabrielle’s dead, oh Xena I’m so sorry…I know how much that young girl meant to you”
Leaning over towards the taller woman Evelyn drew her into an awkward embrace, then reaching up to Xena face she gently wiped away the tears that were now mingling with the rain, and then after some moments silence…she led Xena by the hand into the waiting warmth of the small shack.
Features softened by the firelight, Xena started on her fourth mug of ale. Phoebus was busy worrying over the amount of alcohol she had already consumed. “Drinking that won’t stem the pain,” he said “But if you do insist on drowning you’re sorrows, then why not let Evelyn, and me join you. Believe me it sure is mighty lonely drinking on your own…I should know”
Draining the mug she was holding Xena agreed with them “I may as well tell you about Gabrielle” she said sighing heavily “The Gods knows you deserve to know” So like a scene from an ancient ghost story, or a tale to be told by a campfire at night, Xena stared into the impenetrable shadows, as she tried to remember those last days she had spent with Gabrielle.
It is two and a half years earlier…
Gazing at the stars scattered across the heavens, Xena gave a lazy contented sigh, as she turned herself over to face Gabrielle. She was talking in her sleep again…laughing softly Xena drew the younger woman closer.
Out of all the people she had met in her life, Gabrielle was the only one, who could make her feel this completely at ease with herself. Removing a strand of Gabrielle’s hair, which had gotten caught between the moisture of her lips…Xena found her thoughts kept wandering to the events of the day before.
They had stopped off at a nearby village to restock up on their steadily diminishing supply of food, and clothing. Gabrielle had been happily chatting away to one of the villagers. A striking young man with a mane of blonde almost white hair, his deep green eyes almost seeming to cast off a strange glow in the half-light
Standing in a shop doorway, her arms folded tightly across her chest…mimicking her melancholy mood. Xena watched in silence, as the young ran his eager fingers through the young girl’s red gold hair… an innocent enough gesture…then by the Gods why do I feel so jealous…thought Xena to herself.
The answer to that question came to her easily enough, perhaps it had always been there buried deep within the armour she wore like a shield to mask her emotions from sight. Just waiting for a time when she would finally be able to come to terms with her feelings for her young friend.
Sorting out her feelings for Gabrielle was rapidly beginning to tie her mind in knots, but she couldn’t help feeling the way she felt right now. She had spent nearly every waking moment with this young girl…the bond they shared growing stronger, as the days turned into weeks, and then months.
Until somewhere along the way, her need for the friendship they shared had suddenly blossomed into a need to love this bright, beautiful young woman. There was just one drawback…the ever-increasing fear that Gabrielle might not f…finding her thoughts suddenly ripped away from her, Xena turned to the source of her distraction.
The loud thunder of horses’ hooves and from out of the gathering dust rose a group of rather fierce looking Scythians. The young man Gabrielle had been talking to, who was now standing just a hand span away from her. Trying desperately in vain to reach down to kiss her, suddenly found himself dragged into death’s gravestone cold embrace, as he stared dumbly at the head Scythians sword protruding from his chest.
Pulling the sword loose in one slick stroke the Scythians watched with contempt, the sound of his twisted laughter echoing around the village, as the young man fell to the cold concrete below. Reaching instinctively for her Chakram, Xena flung it in the direction of the laughing Scythian. Her icy blue eyes widening with sheer disbelief, as she watched him reach out…and grab it… but how?
“Its all in the reflexes” said the still laughing Scythian, as he flung it in the direction of the momentarily startled warrior princess. Flinging herself to the ground, Xena’s eyes followed the rotating flash of silver, which skimmed above head…just missing her.
Instead…it embedded itself into one of the other Scythians, stopping his sword in mid air, and allowing the terrified child he was about to slay to run off towards his cowering mother. Pulling the Chakram loose, Xena yanked her sword from its leather sheath…Gabrielle was in trouble
“Alalalalalalalalala” Letting out her famous battle cry, Xena glided through the air knocking down soldiers left, and right in a dizzying blur, then finally there was a loud inaudible crunch as her heel connected to the Scythian she after, snapping his jaw in half.
The Scythian who mere moments ago had been poised over her friend like a cobra ready to strike, kicking the unconscious man in the ribs with brute force Xena smiled “Didn’t you’re mother ever teach you that’s no way to treat a lady”
Gathering herself up off the ground, and dusting herself down, Gabrielle tried to suppress the smile that was threatening to spread across her face at any moment…as the warrior princess stood up triumphant…but then pride was instantly replaced by concern at the dishevelled state of the warrior…and Gabrielle ran towards her.
“Xena are you okay, is anything broken”
Then her mind trailed off, as she dimly remembered one of the Scythians catching Xena’s Chakram. As a rule the metal hoop had only ever returned to Xena’s hand, but now this new turn of events had put things into a very different perspective.
“Xena, how in the world did that man catch your Chakram.”
Xena didn’t know the answer to that one; apart from Callisto she had never met anyone who had been anywhere nearly as skilled in the use of the Chakram, as she was.
“I don’t know Gabrielle” was all she could think of to say
Gazing into startling blue eyes clouded over with confusion, Gabrielle felt her heart begin to sink… she hated to see Xena this vulnerable. If only she could look into those bright, burning eyes, and never look away…If only she could reach beneath the coldness of the armour to touch the warm unyielding flesh beneath...if only she could
“Gabrielle”…wrap her arms around those darkly powerful shoulders…if only she could “GABRIELLE!”…run her fingers through Xena’s mane of silky black…if only she could… “GABRIELLE!!!”
“Snap out of it…honestly you looked like you where a million miles away just then”
And indeed she had been, in fact she had very nearly lost herself to the intoxicating thoughts that where still running rampant through her head. She could feel the sudden heat creeping up her neck, and face, colouring her cheeks, and she turned around to avoid Xena discovering her embarrassment.
Gods if Xena had by some chance found out exactly what it was that she had been imagining…then she probably would have sent her packing for home faster then little legs could carry her.
Noticing that something was wrong Xena placed her hands delicately on Gabrielle’s shoulders, as she gently turned her around to face her.
“Hey” she said “We’ve been in worse fights then that one…All’s not as black as it seems, I promise you…now how about a smile?”
Giving Xena one of her most dazzling smiles…Gabrielle relaxed a little, as she bathed in the safe feeling of Xena’s arms around her. Her eyes adjusting to the gathering darkness…she remembered Xena’s words as she let Xena lead her into the forest where they would make their camp for the night.
“We’ve been in worse fights then that one”
That was true enough, in some cases, but Gabrielle didn’t know how much longer she could fight the losing battle she was having trying to conceal the feelings she had for Xena.
Gabrielle filled her dreams. The glow of her eyes, the warmth of her smile, the soft curve of her hips, her hair swinging out about her in slow motion, she seemed to be beckoning Xena over. In all her imaginings of this scene Xena had never envisioned Gabrielle with such vividness. Usually the fantasies she kept hidden deep within the darkness of her soul were hazy, easy enough to entomb at the back of her mind.
This was different though. There was something about it all which made it seem to real to be a dream, and now looking over at Gabrielle, Xena found herself wondering how in the Hades she had managed to keep her feelings locked away for so long.
Part of it had been out of fear. Fear that Gabrielle wouldn’t reciprocate her feelings for her, but then there was the fear of her becoming too close. In the past whenever she had opened up to someone, whenever she had lowered down the defences around her heart, and surrendered to her feelings, something bad would always happen.
It had been like that with Renika, a young girl she had met when she been engulfed by her dark side, and in many ways Renika had resembled Gabrielle when she had first met her, but unlike Gabrielle she had only know Renika for less then a moon, but even over that short space of time she had come to mean the world to her. Even after all these years the memory of Renika’s death still haunted her.
For some insane reason she always seemed to lose anyone who meant anything to her. It had been like that with Renika, and it had been like that with her son when she had given him away thinking that it been for his own good. So was it any wonder she was so afraid to lay her feelings out in the open. Would there ever come a time, when she would finally be able to tell Gabrielle how often she had longed to look into those eyes and tell her everything. How she had yearned for so long to be rid of the chains around her heart.
Gabrielle was still beckoning her over, the smile still lingering on her lips. The look in her eyes stole Xena’s breath away, a look of pure need; a flash of burning fire. Xena felt time slow to a crawl, the world around her seeming to dissolve, until there was only the two of them, and this shared moment, this unison of souls.
Xena couldn’t tell how long she had stood there, just taking in the perfect splendour of the women before her, allowing the love that lingered her friend’s eyes, to bathe her with its warmth. Her heart pounding in time with each faltering step she took towards this vision of sheer loveliness, and then slowly ever so tentatively she reached down to lightly brush her lips against Gabrielle’s.
Her whole existence seeming to dwindle to this one point… this one space in time. Drawing back, she fell once more into Gabrielle’s eyes just to make sure she hadn’t simply imagined the burning desire within them…but the thought was instantly thrust aside as she felt Gabrielle’s hands entwine themselves in her hair.
Her breath caught in her throat, as she watched Gabrielle’s beautiful face draw closer and closer, until they where but mere inches apart. Closing her eyes tight, Xena finally gave herself in to the passion coursing through her body as she revelled in their closeness. Her arms reaching out to clasp…Nothing! …her fingers grasping only empty air and coldness.
Thrusting her head back, Xena screamed out the name of her lost love. The face of heaven seeming to shake, as though cowering from the sheer force of her anger, and frustration …her eyes snapping open, as she flung herself up off her bedroll. The sheets that she had covered herself in last night were drenched in sweat, her hands still trembling uncontrollably as she scanned the horizon for any sign of Gabrielle, but there was none. The wood was filled with a deathly silence, and Xena was alone.
The room was permeated in silence, shadows like wraths clung to the walls around her. Gabrielle couldn’t move, she couldn’t speak, and she couldn’t see a thing in front of her.
The darkness down her appeared to be absolute, and the only thing that was keeping the thin line between reason and insanity from breaking where the memories of the woman who had changed her life so completely.
Drifting somewhere between the realms of consciousness and oblivion she wandered through the corridors of her mind, sifting through her memories of the times she and Xena had shared together.
From the moment she and Xena had first met, clad only in her shift Xena had looked astounding as she fought off the slave traders who tried to attack the small village of Potedia, a place that had been Gabrielle’s home for as long as she could remember, and at first she had followed the warrior princess on her quest for redemption, because she was grateful to her, because she admired her, because in some way she wanted to be just like her.
This had only succeeded in her annoying Xena, who found the whole idea of being put on a golden pedestal, as some sort of glorified icon quite disconcerting, and she had tried on more then one occasion to leave the young woman behind her…but this had only made Gabrielle more stubborn to tag along, adamant on the fact that she would not be treated as a child.
Yet as the seasons had passed by, she had begun to notice a sudden change. The young naïve peasant girl she had once been, and who had craved for an adventure outside the confines of her home was gone, and in her place stood a beautiful woman of the world…just getting in touch with her feelings.
Suddenly, somewhere, something deep within her seemed to stir into life whenever Xena was around, and sometimes she had found herself staring awestruck at Xena from across the soft ambient glow of their campfire, and whenever Xena would look at her, whenever Gabrielle would find herself drawn to inexplicably drown within the ocean of those eyes. It had felt to her as though her heart was ripped away each time.
It was astonishing to her that Xena could make her feel this way, with just a simple look, with just a touch of her hand. It had never been like that with Perdicus, of course in her heart she had known she had loved him, but it had been more like the love a sister would have for a brother. The love she had for Xena was worlds apart, but somehow she had never gotten around to telling Xena this.
For a woman who could read her poems out so confidently in a crowded room, she felt insecure, and unsure of herself. When faced with the prospect of telling Xena how she felt, and she definitely couldn’t tell Xena how often she had haunted her dreams, or she had used to make almost any feeble excuse just to be near her. Or how on the cold and lonely nights when the chill of winter had come creeping in, she had secretly snuck into Xena’s bedroll, just to feel the warm safety of her arms around her.
Yet she had just kept telling herself that if she didn’t tell her today then she would tell her tomorrow, and so it had gone on like that. Never speaking out to Xena for fear of what she might say or do, and besides Gabrielle wasn’t even sure if Xena had ever been with a woman before.
She might be disgusted, she might not want to travel with her anymore, and the thought of that was just too unbearable to think about. Besides she had thought that she had all the time in the universe to tell Xena how she felt, and then she had woken up here in this strange room, tied to this strange bed, with no sign of her friend.
Doubts and fears plagued her mind…what if Xena where dead already…what if whoever or whatever had taken her, had killed her, and then left her lying there in a ditch somewhere. She could be calling out for her right now, waiting for her to help, but no help would come.
Her eyes brimmed with tears, as she thrust the disturbing thought aside, and instead she focussed solely on an image of Xena smiling, Xena smiling as she told her the words she had waited almost an eternity to hear, and as she concentrated on Xena’s soothing blue eyes she could hear the words in head as clearly as she would have done if her beloved warrior princess had been standing right next to her.
Xena cursed herself for what seemed like the millionth….damn it Xena…she thought…why couldn’t you just tell her how you felt. Why in the Hades did you have to leave it so long for? The Gods only knew what sort of state Gabrielle might be in at this very moment. Xena shuddered inwardly at the thought. How she had managed to sleep so soundly anyway completely confounded her.
Usually she was up, and on her feet if so much as a twig broke the wrong way.
Yet there had been absolutely no sign of a struggle that morning, Gabrielle’s things had lain where she had left them last night. It was almost as though Gabrielle had simply vanished into thin air.
Her Gabrielle…her poor Gabrielle…who had followed her on her quest for redemption, and who had put up with her unpredictable mood swings with the patience of a saint. She could feel the tears welling up inside of her, as she envisioned her, as she had looked last night. Lying there in her arms, her face a perfect picture of innocence, wearing an eternal smile, a smile that Xena would never lovingly look upon again.
“DAMN IT”! Why couldn’t I…why couldn’t I just tell her that I l…”
Her eyes falling to the ground Xena’s eyes widened with fear as she stared at the object that had frozen her words in her throat…it was Gabrielle’s fighting staff. Or rather it was what was left of it, someone or something had completely severed it in two, and sweet mother of Zeus was that blood smeared across it…Gabrielle’s blood?
She felt as though someone had just tore her world apart, and the tears which had been threatening to consume her finally overwhelmed her, as she gathered the fragments of the staff together, and held them closely to her heart, silently praying to whatever god’s that might be listening.
“Please! …Please! …Let her be all right!”
The door to the room she was in creaked on its hinges as it opened. Squinting hard Gabrielle shielded her eyes from the light pouring in, but even through the prison of her fingers. She could still make out the silhouetted shape of the Scythians bulky form, as he approached the bed where she lay spread-eagled.
Her arms manacled to the bedpost above her, her legs bound so tightly, she was sure she had lost all feeling to them.
Cloaked in darkness like a death’s shroud, the only visible things where his eyes, which where as devoid of light, as the blackness, which seemed to surround him, eyes that burned with a vehement intensity, eyes that in some strange way resembled the eyes that had robbed her of her dreams when Perdicus had died.
In fact most of her good stories had come from her dreams, and without them there had been nothing left, no thoughts, no feelings. Just an emptiness she had never known before which scared her, and in the wake of the aftermath, as the dust began to settle. As the reality of what had happened dawned on her, and grief gave way to a need for vengeance.
She had experienced an emotion so powerful, yet as alien to her as the drawing of blood had once been, rage…raw in its primal instinct. An all consuming feeling that had very nearly robbed her of the one thing she had managed to keep intact despite everything she had been through travelling the world with Xena.
Her humanity, and her ever-unfaltering belief that love alone could conquer all…but Xena had helped her see past all that. Had shown her that if she gave in to the hatred inside of herself, then she would become the very thing she loathed, and fought against every day of her life.
A hideous nightmarish mirror image, of everything Xena had once been. Xena couldn’t bear the thought of Gabrielle treading the path that she had once walked along, and deep down Gabrielle knew that if it hadn’t been for Xena then she would never have found the strength to leave the past behind her, and forgive Calllisto of all the wrong she had done to her.
“If only Xena where here now” she whispered to herself, her heart aching with a terrible longing. Closing her eyes tightly Gabrielle wished like she had never wished for anything before. . that somehow Xena would come bursting through that door at the last possible second like she had done every other time, and that maybe it might not be too late to tell her the one thing she had never been able to admit for fear of the consequences…but as this monster of a man drew nearer she knew in her heart that this would never be.
She could feel her fear coursing through her like a paralysing drug. Dragging her screaming headfirst into the abyss, and she was powerless to do anything.
Like a figure from a thousand frightful dreams, and hidden places of her mind she could sense the beast inching closer, and closer… her heart threatening to burst within her chest, as she felt his putrid breath on her face, making it impossible for her to breathe.
In the blink of an eye she could see the dagger in his hand plunging down towards her, and then like the flick of a switch…something terrifying, and unexpected happened…
The sight that greeted Xena when she re-entered the village she had stopped off at the day before was one of total carnage. Death lingered in the air corroding the streets with its stench. Mirroring the memories of a past she had tried to leave behind.
Bodies lay scattered on the ground beneath her, some of them mere children. Just as her brother had been when he died, and when that had happened, everyone including her mother had blamed her, and they had been right to do so.
She blamed herself for it every moment of her life. Had often wondered how different things might have been, if she had never rallied her fellow villagers into attacking the warlord that had ransacked her homeland. Gods I can’t go through that again…thought Xena to herself. Her life was already full of so many what ifs and maybes, and Gabrielle had come to mean far too much to her.
For when everyone else had turned their backs on her, her family, her friends, and people she had grown up with. Gabrielle had been the only one who had believed that she had changed at all for the better, and that she had left the old Xena. The Xena that she had used to be, buried in the dark where she belonged, and she feared what would become of her if she was to was to lose her…but surely the fates wouldn’t be so cruel, as to try to take Gabrielle away again.
The first time it had happened, she had very nearly lost control, but then she had brought her back, and the light had been restored…but this time it was different…because even when she had been battling to save her, she had somehow managed to convince herself that Gabrielle couldn’t possibly leave her…but now standing here amongst the ruins of a once thriving community, she felt nothing.
It was almost as though a part of her had died also, yet still she continued to search on blindly, clinging on in desperation to the last vestiges of her fading hope that somehow Gabrielle would still be alive when she found her…if she found her.
For there was no sign whatsoever that whoever had taken Gabrielle had brought her here. Xena was almost ready to give up…until she noticed something, something that she had missed before due to her panic stricken state of mind.
One of the small thatched houses still stood upright upon its crumbling foundations. The windows smashed in, the door hanging off its hinges at a precarious angle…and as Xena entered through what was left of the doorway she was overcome by a terrible sense of dread as her eyes fell to the only bed in the room.
The small figure lying there looked lost on the huge mattress, curled up into a tiny little ball, she appeared smaller then she really was, and Xena’s heart nearly shattered into a million pieces at the sight, as she walked over to turn her over with a gentleness that would have surprised anyone who had known her in the past.
Her eyes staring blankly at the ceiling above, her clothes ripped beyond recognition.
The look of twisted terror that was written across Gabrielle’s delicate features was more then Xena could stand, and try as she might she couldn’t stop her eyes from wandering to the gouged out gaping stab marks which still bled incessantly, blotting out all traces of white from the sheets which lay beneath the young girl’s fragile body.
“Gabrielle…Gabrielle…I’m so sorry. I should have been there; I should have told you how much you meant to me…why didn’t I…why didn’t I tell you that I loved you. Oh gods please wake up…you just have to wake up! You can’t leave me! Not now! Not after taking my heart with you, what will I become without you? How will I carry on?”
Her face buried in the colour that had once shone so brightly Xena ripped away the ropes, and chains that bound Gabrielle to the bed, racked by her grief and the burden of her guilt as she pressed Gabrielle’s sweet face close to her own.
Placing a tender kiss upon the dead girl’s icy cold lips, before carrying Gabrielle out into the vastly fading daylight…and that was how Autolycus had found her, after spotting her making her way through the woods, he had followed her to the burning ruins of the little village, and it was there where he had found her wandering around in the rain while the storm echoed around her; echoing the storm that was raging on inside of her. Clutching Gabrielle tightly to her, refusing to let her go, she was never the same after that.
Memories where perhaps the hardest thing to come terms with, for every face she saw, every place she went, reminded her in some way of Gabrielle…and that had been the reason she had regretfully declined when Phoebus and Evelyn had so kindly offered her a room for the night.
She knew she was running away, but she couldn’t help it…it just would have hurt too damn much, being in that place which echoed so profoundly with the ghosts of her past. Yet even though the past hurt her, haunting her night time world she just couldn’t stop her mind from dwelling on it. Even after all these years Xena still couldn’t bring herself to believe that the young girl who had come to cast so much meaning in her life was gone, and with her the last breath of hope that she had.
The wine had lost its taste, the flowers ceased to bloom, life had lost its meaning. Her heart seemed so much emptier, the campfire so much lonelier, the world so much bigger, a cold and colourless place where the sun refused to shine.
All of Gabrielle’s worldly possessions she carried around with her in a small backpack. A locket Gabrielle had purchased in Athens, in which Xena had placed a single strand of her friend’s golden hair. She could still even now, remember how beautiful Gabrielle’s hair had looked, and if she concentrated hard she could picture in her mind Gabrielle writing her stories while the sunlight kissed her hair.
She had kept every single one of Gabrielle’s stories to remind herself of the time they had shared together, and in many ways it was almost as though a part of her friend still lived on. Gazing at the faded scripture formed in Gabrielle’s neat handwriting, Xena read on till she couldn’t keep her eyes open anymore… finally giving in to the exhaustion ravaging her entire body, as she followed the darkness to wherever it would take her.
Fleeting images of Gabrielle’s face, her eyes, and her smile danced before her. Gabrielle laughing, Gabrielle crying, how she longed to put her arms around her, and kiss away her tears.
Gabrielle begging her to help her… Gabrielle screaming out her name…
“NO!!… NOT AGAIN!”
Now wide-awake, Xena couldn’t stop the guilt that was closing in on her like a crashing wave. She couldn’t see the cliff face stretching out in front of her. All she could see was Gabrielle, reaching out like a blind woman she couldn’t find anything to hold onto, she couldn’t see the edge of the cliff getting nearer.
It didn’t matter whether her eyes where opened or closed Gabrielle continued to fill her thoughts, she was all that mattered. Without her she couldn’t think, couldn’t feel the world around her. Materialising above the cliff Gabrielle extended her arms out in silent welcome.
Was this a sign that Gabrielle wanted to be reunited with her, was Gabrielle lonely on the other side. Was this the only they could be together…taking a step forward Xena reached out as though she intended to return Gabrielle’s embrace.
Her eyes tightly shut, cutting off the world around her as she tried to bury herself within the relic of a past that was lost to her…then suddenly Xena’s feet where no longer connected to the ground…
She could feel herself falling, could feel the air rushing past her, as she hurtled down towards her doom. Could see her life flashing before her eyes, her days as a warlord, the reign of terror she had held upon the land and the sea of faceless victims who had died at her command. Each one with a single question formed on their dead lifeless lips…Why Xena? …Why?
The day her life had been forever changed…when Gabrielle had come into it like a vision of hope, and ever since then their lives had been irrecoverably altered. Like dancers they would sometimes part to view the rest of the room, but always they would come full circle to be reunited with each other. For they each shared the same soul, two broken halves formed to make a complete person.
Xena was so wrapped up in her own thoughts and feelings that she failed to sense the small figure materialising at the bottom of the ravine. She felt as if the sky was crashing in on her, as the world turned black around her…
TO BE CONTINUED…
Return to the Academy