"The Heart Of Aphrodite"

By Silence



I just can't stop reading or writing about the ending of Xena. Each and every tale I write or read helps heal the wound inflicted by RenPic's. So here's another. Don't own them, not sure who does. Xena now lives with us bards, so lets keep the true Xena alive. Long live the bards. Alt, yep. Thanks to Kamouraskan and Temora for the betas. Link to Sappho's poetry. http://www.sappho.com/poetry/historical/sappho.html

On the throne of many hues, Immortal Aphrodite,
child of Zeus, weaving wiles--I beg you
not to subdue my spirit, Queen,
with pain or sorrow

but come--if ever before
having heard my voice from far away
you listened, and leaving your father's
golden home you came

in your chariot yoked with swift, lovely
sparrows bringing you over the dark earth
thick-feathered wings swirling down
from the sky through mid-air

arriving quickly--you, Blessed One,
with a smile on your unaging face
asking again what have I suffered
and why am I calling again

and in my wild heart what did I most wish
to happen to me: "Again whom must I persuade
back into the harness of your love?
Sappho, who wrongs you?

For if she flees, soon she'll pursue,
she doesn't accept gifts, but she'll give,
if not now loving, soon she'll love
even against her will."

Come to me now again, release me from
this pain, everything my spirit longs
to have fulfilled, fulfill, and you
be my ally. ~Sappho~


All these moons of being the Goddess of Love can really be a bummer at times. No matter how much love I spread, sorrow can always seem to find a way to overthrow that at times. All my immortal life no one bothered to take me seriously. No one just cared for me without wanting something, until I met one person. Of course like all friends.... 'Like wow, I said friend, she is my friend'... As I was saying, like all friends we had our ups and downs but stood together in the end.

At first I was jealous of the little bard, she was cute and everyone seemed to just love her, even one tall, dark, leather-bound princess. She was also one person who could tell me off where I felt the reasons for it was that... she cared about me. I cared about Gabby too. We had so much fun on her birthday we celebrated not so long ago.

Poor Gabby, it’s so hard to watch her all alone now.


I've known of the Great Warrior Princess since the day she was conceived, Ares has been drooling after her for that long. Xena was meant to follow Athena as her chosen mortal, but Ares did everything to intervene with that. So Artemis, Athena, and I got together and sent Xena the missing part of her soul. She was a little waif of a thing with way too much life and spirit for just one mortal to contain. A person I had no idea would find a way into my heart.

My sisters and I knew that if we didn't find a way for Xena to have love in her heart she would have been lost for all time, that and because Athena wasn't going to lose to Ares any time soon. With Gabby, who was to be Artemis's chosen, her circumstances were different yet similar to Xena's. If Gabby didn't get out of 'Potatoville' all her dreams, the light within her heart would have died. So we three sent her on the path to finding her soul.

It's sort of ironic. I felt this ache in my chest with the memories of my sisters. None of us had any idea that the 'Twilight' was anything more then a child's fable to scare us. Or that the two people we cared for so much would be the ones to bring it upon us. For a split moment in time I was angry with the bard and warrior. They took my family away. Then I realized that I never had a family in the true sense of the word.

And that it was giving me wrinkles.

Also, that man does hold his own destiny in his hands. I guess we Gods couldn't get past our own egos to admit we wouldn't be needed anymore.

I know soon as well as Ares, that love and war ... hate so to speak, is born with every mortal and not decided by a God. Soon my name will be nothing more then a fable to be read by children or muttered in memory on an old person’s lips. One proven case of love being from one’s heart and not from a God, was the love Xena and Gabby had for one another. I may have pointed them to each other, but the love was theirs. I did nothing to create it. Love was in them all along, as was the hard dark times they had way too often. Yeah, part of that was from my stud muffin of a brother, that's because he couldn't get over being rejected by Xena. Male ego, need I say more?

Ares always had this overwhelming, obsessed kind of love for the Warrior Princess. He spent all of her mortal life trying to get her in his grasp and keep her there. But "Miss Many Skills" would have none of it. At the end they became more like loving brother and sister. Ares finally realized that Xena's heart and soul belonged totally to Gabby. He tried everything you can imagine and then some, to break them up, but all he did was make their love stronger. Poor Ares, Xena's loss affected him so hard... I've never seen my big brother look so devastated.

"Hey Big Bro, what's shaking?" I gave him my cute little nose wrinkle while just popping in. Then I noticed something terribly wrong, he was just leaning over the viewing pool we always use to keep up on the little bard and warrior ... trembling???

"Ares???" I sauntered over to him and put my hand on his back. He still didn't take his eyes away from the pool.

"She gave up." I barely heard and it certainly didn't sound like my brother, more like a hurting child. I walked to the side of him and bent to see his face. What I saw, I thought I would never see in my everlasting life.

"Ares, are you crying?" I looked towards the pool and saw Gabby standing on a boat.

"I can't believe it, she gave up." I hugged my brother to me and let him sob and I found myself sobbing also. I had no idea what was going on and my make-up was totally getting messed up.

"I've got to get out of here." He pulled away, wiping the tears from his face. "I ... I ..." He looked at me with such horror it scared me. Then he backed off and he was gone.

That's when I went over to the pool and set things back so I could take a peek at what had gone on to spook Ares so much. I can't put into words what I witnessed, but it took my very breath away to watch. How could she do that to Gabby? How dare she bow out like that because she was too tired from all the guilt to carry on? It was so hard to watch Gabby go through all that. What on earth was Xena thinking? Now Gab's to be 'Little Xena'?? Nooooo way, not if I can help it.

I paced back and forth for some reason. I've never felt this feeling before... Rage?? Screw rage, I'm more on the pissed off side of things. How can Xena, of all people, not see that little Akemi ho's just using her? Ahh, I can't think and be tense at the same time. I snapped my fingers and lay on the table to let my masseuse work the knots out while I stewed and planned to slap one warrior back into place.

After several blissful candle marks of pampering, it was time for Dite to rock a certain Warrior Princess' world. I zapped myself to the leathered one with plan in mind. "Yikes," I muttered to myself while looking around the sterile looking tea house. I finally found the warrior sitting on the pier, looking rather lost. Well tough. She asked for it.

"Xena?" She continued to stare. "Xena!" She jumped and looked at me in surprise. I bet she could tell by the look on my face this wasn't going to be a pleasant visit.

"What do you want, Aphrodite?" she said somberly, turning her head to stare back into the water.

"What I want is it to punch you in the nose, but I just had a manicure so you got lucky there." She hung her head more and that made it way hard to stay pissed at her.

"I had to do it Aphrodite." Sounded more like a question than a statement.

"Oh my lacey ass, Xena." That made the leathered one's head snap up. "What you did was for selfish reasons and Gabby is suffering for it." She winced a little, but hey, the truth hurts. "The only one who did a selfless thing here was Gabrielle, she let you go knowing in her heart it was what you wanted, not had to do." Ok, so my anger was back. "She loved you that much, too bad you didn't love her enough."

Ohhhh baby, wrong thing to say, we now had a pissed off leathered one.

"What do you know about anything?" I had six feet of growling warrior, only this time she can’t do anything to me, so ha.

"I know plenty, ghosty pants." Ha, take that. "You have any idea what Gabby is going through right now?" I glared at her wondering what I had to do to wake her up.

"Gabrielle is strong, she has my skills. She'll be fine." Miss Stubborn One went back and sat on the pier looking away from me. "Stay out of this, Aphrodite, it’s for the best."

This was going to be way harder then I thought.

"I thought I knew a lot about Xena." I walked behind her. "I thought you were strong, smart, and had many skills." She got all huffy and I chuckled. "What I didn't know was what a coward you are." She looked up at me with such an angry face and through clenched teeth she spoke.

"Get away from me now or I'll show you what a coward I am." Hard head, and it was tit for tat time.

"Silence, mortal!" I glared right back. "You’re in no condition to make any threats, but I sure as Tartarus can." Then it hit me. I knew what I must do.

"Xena of Amphipolis, you are charged with crimes against my friend Gabrielle of Poteidaia and your ex-soulmate, how do you plead?" She almost broke me when she looked at me, startled, with tears. Very lightly she said, "Guilty." Such pain from that one word, it tore at me to hear it.

Stay strong, Dite. It was time for some tough love.

"Very well Xena, you are found guilty and your sentence will be carried out now." I snapped my fingers and she and I were on top of the Warlord's Castle in Japa. She looked around trying to figure out what I was up to.

"What is this?" as she noticed the Chakram on her hip.

"It's called a Chakram, Xena, you remember it?" I had to lighten it up some. This stress, it’s just too much on my Karma. "You know round spinny killing thing." Ut oh!! I ducked quickly as it whizzed at my head.

"This is Gabrielle's, why do I have it?" She held it up, ready to throw it again.

"Oh chill babe, let me explain." I smiled but it wasn’t impressing her. I cleared my throat, such a tough crowd. "You see, I set time back two days and changed a few things, you have no choice but to go along and watch." Before she can threaten me or give a pithy reply, I crossed my arms and she looked at me like I snorted some Ambrosia.

"You'll see every detail and you can't do anything to change it."

"Xena??" Xena's eyes widened and I swear her chin hit the dirt.

Gabrielle called her again and she was looking at me, like totally confused. "Time to walk in another person’s shoes, warrior." Gabrielle called her name once more. "You'd better answer her, she's worried." Then I disappeared to watch where she couldn’t see me.

"I'm over here, Gabrielle." She turned right to see Gabrielle walking to her.

"You said you had to teach me something?" Xena just looked at her, and then the memory hit.

"Yes, I'm going to teach you how to hear." Gabrielle just smiled and I watched how Xena taught her how to hear the sound behind sounds. Xena had such a look of pride watching Gabrielle learn. I heard Gabby ask how many and Xena starts explaining about the army and makes a plan for attack. Then that cute bald guy and creepy Ghost killing man came and interrupted.

This time around Xena was too nervous being around him and she went off to warn people while Gabby stayed and talked. This is where I had Xena appear in her ghost form so no one could see her, but she could hear all. She looked all over trying to figure out what was going on and then saw me. I gave a cute smile and wave.

"What is this?" Geesh, being dead hadn’t changed her attitude, her breech's were still cutting off the flow to her sense of humor.

"Told ya Sweet Cheeks, you're going to know and see all." She rolled her eyes. "Now shhhhhhhhh!" I hushed her and pointed towards Gabby. Gabby was still staring where Xena disappeared then started to speak

"You know she's changed, Ghost Killer?" Awww, that's Gabrielle, always ready to defend her mate. Xena watched but kept her head slightly hung. "She isn't the same woman she was back then." Sigh, I doubt Xena will ever see that Gabby. "These souls who were taken are eating her up inside, it was an accident." That a girl, you tell him.

"Yes, I can see the change, but forgiveness will take time, little one." Oh boy here it comes.

"Let me ask you Ghost Killer, why haven't you just taken out Yodoshi?" I watched as he looked deeply into her eyes, then I looked over to Xena who was making her way closer to Gabrielle.

"He is not of the spirit world or the purest of souls, Gabrielle," said Kenji. It took Gabrielle a minute, she looked at him and nodded her understanding.

"No, no, no!" Xena looked at me knowing what was going to happen. "You can't let her do this Aphrodite." I just stayed quiet and let her ramble. "I love her too much, please I can't bear to lose her." Whoa, now that made me angry. It was time for some Dite tude.

"You have some nerve, Xena. Did you bother to think of how much this would have hurt Gabby when you pulled your little suicide stunt?" I couldn't believe how narrow minded this one was. "The sentence stands, Warrior, now deal with it." I snapped my fingers and we appeared in the tent where now Gabby was praying.

"Xena, I know what I must do, but I’m afraid that on this day, what’s done may not be undone." Oh man, this was way too hard, I snapped my fingers for a hanky. Xena knelt and studied her love’s face, just about ready to wipe a tear that was close to falling on the bard’s face, when she disappeared and went into her mortal form which came through the tent flap calling her bard’s name.

"Gabrielle, the militia is prepared. Why aren’t you ready?" Always have the one track mind, huh leathered one?

"Xena, come here. (Sniffs) Come here. Give me your hands. All right?" I watched as Xena, confused, knelt giving her love both hands. The bard grabbed them and kissed each one.

"Xena, my love." Come on, Gabby, don't cry. I popped my server dude in to bring me a stiff drink and another hanky.

"I want you to know how proud I am of you, Xena." Xena was sort of confused and blushing now.

"Gabrielle, don't get mushy on me right now." Geesh! Tall, dark, and dangerous could also be so dense.

"No. No, today more than ever-- I want you to know how proud I am of you. Please." Ok, now the warrior was confused, dense and scared all at once. I snapped my fingers to the dude for more drink.

"Why are you doing this?" Xena was just scared and their eyes never left one another.

"Xena -- if I only had thirty seconds to live -- this is how I’d want to live them-- looking into your eyes knowing our love for each other."

"Stop this. Stop it," said one scared warrior.

"Always remember, I love you." Gabrielle leaned forward giving her love a peck then pulled back seeming to memorize every inch of Xena's face.

"Why would you tell me this right now? I don’t understand!" You will soon Xena, you will soon. I thought. I took another swig of that awful stuff hoping to dull the pain.

"There’s nothing to understand. I just wanted you to know how proud I am of you and how much I love you." Gabrielle tried to smile, stood up and turned to the warrior.

"Let’s go. We got a battle to win." Xena slowly stood, still clearly confused. This next part I had to Godly intervene. I made Xena hear the soldiers gathering to the East, and pushed her take Kenji and the Ghost Killer with her. Wasn't easy to do with 'Miss Many Skills', let me tell you.

"Wouldn’t it be better if we stayed with Gabrielle?" Kenji asked.

Ut oh. The warrior stopped for a split second to think, then said, "Gabrielle wants us to lead a contingent to the East plain. She said a group of Yodoshi’s archers are gathering there." She had a look on her face like she couldn't believe her words, knew they weren't right, but she had to follow them. I pulled Xena’s soul to me so she could watch Gabrielle watching her human form walk off. Gabrielle had this painful look on her face, saying with no words. 'Good-bye' then turned, walking off to her destiny.

"Please don't do this, Aphrodite." All I could do is sigh. "I love her so much, I can't bear to lose her," she begged again, now that made me more angry with her.

"You're a real piece of work, you know that?" I glared at her. "Do as I say and not as I do?" Before she can utter a word I continued. "You never gave her a choice, nor will you get one from me, Xena." I took her spirit form with me and we popped in on Gabrielle who was burying her clothing and weapons.

"No, Gabrielle!" Xena rushed over to stop her love, but just ran right through her.

"She can't see or hear you Xena." I popped us a couple comfy chairs and motioned for the warrior to take a seat. If I had to watch this, I might as well be closer to the ground just in case I faint. Of course the stubborn warrior didn't budge and continued to try to interfere. Gabby stood with her eyes closed, seeming to be listening.

"Gabrielle they're coming! There are too many!" Xena was practically hysterical at this point. Gabby still had her eyes closed, focusing on the task soon to be at hand, totally oblivious of her warrior’s pleas. There were these freaky drum sounds and Xena was now pacing around the bard and I could see those wheels in her mind turning.

"GABRIELLEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!" All three of us looked skyward as Xena's voice shook the earth.

"You've just figured out you've been tricked by Gabrielle and you’re on your way here." I told the hurting warrior. Xena stood there as she watched Gabby take a deep breath, and bend to pick up the bow and arrows. In a quick motion she strung the bow and fired her first shot off. Right on the mark and the man fell in a gross thud.

I'm not sure who was more shocked; Xena or I as we watched Gabby literally walk up a tree while shooting off very precise arrows, all hitting their marks. Then we heard it. Xena's eyes went up to see the sun blocked by a sea of arrows returning fire on the bard.

Gabby quickly jumped down from the tree and tried to take shelter behind it. Xena was trying her hardest to block or catch the arrows, but they went right through her each time. One hit Gabby in the shoulder and Xena screamed louder then the bard did.

"Oh Gods, Gabrielle, please," the Warrior cried as Gabby broke the arrow and made her way toward the overturned wagon when another arrow hit her in the left ankle. She shrieked and hobbled the rest of the way.

"Aphrodite, please, please, don't let her die." Tears were streaming down Xena's face, but I didn't answer her, I had to stay strong. We watched as another arrow hit Gabby in the other shoulder, then in her right forearm. She was so brave in the face of death that I was in awe of her. Xena was trying again to stop the arrows.

My tears were flowing freely down my own face and I could care less about my make-up at this point. Gabby broke all of the arrows shorter and stood, took her katanna, and limped into her attack on the advancing men.

At this point both Xena and I were frozen in place when Gabby took an arrow to her stomach. As blood came from her mouth, she pulled it out saying, "Now you asked for it!" Xena and I both gave a small ironic chuckle through our tears at that statement. With Xena's name on her lips she took down one samurai after another until.....

Gabby was dying and she didn't see the leader.... He took her head and I had to pop out of there. Xena's wailing was too hard for me to hear. I went to my temple and fell to the cold marble flooring and cried, "What have I done?"

I took some time to change into my black lacy mourning outfit and fixed my make-up. It's going to take like eons to get these worry lines off of my face. I zapped back down and saw the warrior on her knees, crying and rocking herself. So much blood... Like ewwwwwwwww.


She turned with fury in her eyes and ran at me with pure hate on her face.

"You let them butcher her, you bitch." Part of me wanted to squeal and pop right out of there, but the circumstances were different. She ran right through me and fell flat on her face. Just stayed there weeping. As much as I wanted to, I couldn't allow myself to show any signs of weakness.

"Get up, Xena." We were both startled by her live form running right past me, frantically trying to find the bard. Hot on her heels was the baldy guy and the Ghost killing thingy. Xena notices the trail of blood and Gabby's katana lying next to it.

"The ghost killer. What’s he doing?" she stood and asked the little baldy dude.

"His job is sending wandering souls on their way before they can be devoured by Yodoshi, perhaps he sees Gabrielle." Gulp, wrong thing to say, dear, as he was trapped in an iron grip with an icy stare to match.

"Gabrielle is alive! Do you understand? She is alive." He nodded quickly like a good boy and she dropped him. Then followed the blood trail.

"Well, Xena, I'm going to skip the part of your reunion with (Gagging) Akemi. That’s irrelevant for now and has nothing to do with Gabrielle," I told the warrior, who was on the ground hugging her knees to her chest in silence. "Akemi will be something I bring up later, so keep that in mind Xena." There was not a sound from her.

"No, we will go all the way to the part where you must recover her body." I looked down to her. "I believe one of the conversations you had with Gabby was..." I waved my hand so we could see the vision.

"Xena." Gabrielle was so relieved to see her love.

"Gabrielle? What are you doing here?" Xena on the other hand was shocked to see Gabby.

"I was so worried about you. I found your chakram. There’s so much blood." I still can't figure out why Xena did it that way.

"I’m all right." Liar!!

"What’s with the robes?" Poor Gabby, still holding onto hope.

"Gabrielle, I’m going to kill the lord of the dark land." Yeah, as Xena The Warrior Ghost.

"You’ll need this." Gabrielle sighed. She still had no idea that her world would be crashing down in a blink of an eye. Xena's hand passed through the chakram and the look on Gabby's face said it all.

"Freeze it!" I yelled, making sure Xena gets a real good look at the bard’s face. "You see that Xena?" She closed her eyes as more tears fall. "That's her heart breaking. Resume." The vision continued.

"I can’t take that. It’s difficult to explain." Well duh!!!!!!!

"You’re dead."

And right there you took half her soul away.

"You’re dead. How could you let yourself be killed?" Now Gabby is in shock and angry.

"I’m sorry, Gabrielle. I couldn’t tell you. You’d have tried to stop me, and then we’d both be dead." Yeah, like that would make her feel better?

"Is that supposed to make me feel better?" See, what she said.

"We’ve overcome death before. We will find a way to bring me back. But only by becoming a spirit can I kill Yodoshi and free those souls that I condemned to torment. Don’t you see that?" I could see you’re so full of it, I can smell the dung from here. I just shook my head.

"You’re my whole life, Xena. I won’t lose you." Poor Gabby.

"You won’t lose me." Liar times two? The vision stopped and my anger rose.

"You should be ashamed of yourself Xena." She just sat with her eyes closed, rocking herself while weeping. "Let’s go Warrior." In a flash we were in the rain outside the leader’s camp. I waved my hand and turned her into her mortal form. She looked around getting her bearings straight.

"We're now at the part where you must collect her." I snapped my fingers and disappeared out of her view. I watched how she slowly walked into camp, took her whip, cracked it around one guards neck and then kicking the other, knocked them both out.

She searched for her bard, looking all over, turned to her left and took a few more cautious steps and stopped. The wind was sucked out of her and her legs gave out at the sight of Gabrielle's headless, arrow-filled body hanging there naked on display for all to see. I heard her making gagging sounds as she tried to keep her stomach from spilling. I popped in right behind her and my legs nearly left me.

"How does it feel to see the person you love so much hung like a piece of meat, Xena?" She made a few more gagging sounds and looked up. "How does it feel to know your love committed suicide?" A low anguished wail came from her throat as she looked over her bard’s body. "I tell you what she thought, Xena."

We hear Gabrielle’s voice. "I failed her."

I could see Xena shaking after hearing Gabby's words.

"Give me her headdddddd!!" She stood quickly, surprising me. She walked to the tree where the ropes were holding Gabby's body and cut them and the body thudded to the ground. She gasped for air, the crying took her wind away. She pulled the fabric off a flag hanging from the building to cover her. Xena made sure the body was secure and heard the samurai leader behind her.

"I’ve been expecting you. Your friend was a fine opponent. She provided me with one of the greatest trophies an honorable samurai could ever claim."

"You call yourself honorable? You outnumbered her a thousand to one. You’re not a samurai. You’re a fraud." Those eyes when Xena's pissed can make you freeze quicker than seeing Medusa herself.

"I think it is you with a death wish!" Hello, could we say... idiot here??

"I accept the challenge." I swear Xena had an orgasm saying that.

"It will be the greatest honor of my life to send you to a early grave, Xena." Yeah, ok.

Xena stood there and they circled in the rain. Like before, he wasn't much of a challenge and he asked for Xena to give him an honorable death and take his head with one clean stroke. Ok, what is it with these people with the cutting off the head thing? Xena more than obliged him with that request. There was definitely a difference between bard and warrior. Gabby wouldn't take his head. Why give that bastard honor for killing her friend?

The other samurai’s bowed to honor her then stepped aside giving a path to..... Breathe Dite, breathe, Gabby's head. Xena let the sword fall and slowly made her way there. With each step her crying got louder and louder, almost deafening to me. Xena knelt down and caressed her love’s cheek, then carefully collected it and made her way to her horse.

I sat in the distance as I watched the lone warrior commit her bard to the flames, then honored her with a funeral song. I think that day I witnessed the truest sense of love die. I closed my eyes and mourn my friend.

Oh Gabby.

"Aphrodite?" I popped over to where Xena was sitting.

"Yes, Xena." I was at a loss of words right then.

"Is this torture over now, can we go back to how things were?" Son of a Bacchae, so frickin dense.

"Yes Xena, this torture is over for you," I screamed, then snapped my fingers, bringing us to Gabrielle's cabin on the boat. She was lying in bed soaked in sweat clutching that damn urn.

"She on the other hand is living through it." I pointed at the bard who was having a nightmarish unrest. "It's eating her up inside Xena, can't you see that?" We both looked towards her as we heard a whimper, and her breathing picked up, tears fell, then she shot up screaming Xena's name.

Gabby realized that it wasn't a dream and fell back in the bed and wept. She covered her face with her hands and it was breaking my heart. "Oh Xena," said the distraught bard. Xena sat beside her and tried her best to comfort, but it was just not the same.

"Let me ask you, Xena." Her eyes never left the bard. "You’re supposed to always be with her, in ghost form?" Hmm, therapy time. I waved my hand and laid the Warrior on the couch while I sat with my scroll and quill at the ready. Plus I looked darn cute with my glasses on. I waved my hand again and gave Gabby a peaceful sleep so I could work on the dense one.

"Say Gabby does move on ,and say even marries?" I took my glasses off and put one earpiece in my mouth. "Are you going to able to handle that?" Haha, the thought of it made me chuckle. "I can just see you Xena, when she tries to make love with another."

She didn't like to hear that.

"Gabby won't even have an awesome sex life with you there haunting, or trying to kill her new mate or...." I laughed. "Even coach." I stopped laughing when she nailed me with that glare.

"I’d be happy for her and let her live. She can call for me when she needs me," she said through clenched teeth.

I needed to make this chair taller, it was getting deep in here.

"That's one of my points, she needs you now." I said that a lot harsher then I meant to. "You left her with only half of a soul and she's dying inside." How could I show the leathered one that redemption is through love and forgiveness? Then it hit me like a ton of Centaurs, Dite. You are good, girl. "Time to bring out the big stuff." I closed my eyes, and there was a great light.

"Hello, Xena." We both saw Eli before us. "Thank you for calling me, Aphrodite."

"Eli??" Xena was glad to see her old friend and they embraced. "Why are you here?" She acted all surprised that he would come if I called him.

"Gabrielle mostly, she's the first one to ever believe in me, so she holds a special place in my heart." He's pretty cute for a love dude. Now it was time for me to relax and maybe he could talk a little sense in to that thick skull of hers. I took a seat by Gabby, who was now having good dreams thanks to yours truly.

"Another reason I'm here is for you." Xena sat, sighing and shook her head.

"Let’s try it this way, Xena." He sat across from her and I wished him luck. "Your daughter killed more civilians then you have, more brutally than you. Even went a step further by killing women and children at will." He raised the warrior's face so their eyes met.

"Though her sins will never be forgotten, she is forgiven." Vision time, this part of my Goddess job just rules.

"Do you admit your trespasses?" The Baptist asks.

"Yes," Eve sobbed.

"I now cleanse your body-- with these sweet waters-- and initiate you-- to the way of love." Ok, this was a bad memory for me. This was where Xena gets the ability to kill Gods.

"If it wasn't for me Eli, she wouldn't have done any of that, I wasn't there to raise her." Defiant as ever.

"Xena, not everything revolves around you, not everything is your fault." He put a finger on her lips to silence her. "No matter how many lives you live Xena, you'll never find redemption. You'll never allow it." Amen brother, he hit that nail on the head.

"Did you find redemption with this violent death, or emptiness?" Ohhhhh! Good one Eli.

"I'm empty. But it had to be done, Eli. For Gods sakes, I killed off whole families." She hung her head and let her tears spill. Oh man, hanky time.

"It was an accident Xena, a mistake." He put his hand on her shoulder for comfort. "If we all condemned ourselves for mistakes, there wouldn't be a soul left on earth." She wasn’t buying. I looked to Gabby and wondered how she put up with "Miss Stubborn One" for all these years.

"You've made mistakes all your life Xena, and you have paid for them." She looked up at him. "People have forgiven you, but they will never forget. And for that price you'll be reborn into several lives to set things straight." Oh, did I see a glimmer of hope then?

"You've suffered, saved lives, and you were even purified for your past sins just to give that all up for Callisto's soul." Vision time!!!!

"You've walked through the fire of purification. Now-- as the divine water sanctifies your existence-- your cleansing is complete." Archangel Michael said.

"You've followed your path of the warrior fighting for the weak, and the greater good while learning to love." Now his face got very serious. "This violent, suicidal death you decided to take... It wasn't your time, Xena." She sniffed and finally spoke.

"Forty thousand souls said it was my time Eli, I couldn't let them suffer for something I did. They had to find a state of grace." He smiled, closing his eyes like a bright beam with many shadows in the light.

"You mean these souls, Xena?" Ok, now my chin joined the warrior’s as they both hit the ground. "When you released them from Yadoshi's grasp, they found grace, Xena." I had tears in my own eyes to match the warrior's as we heard voices saying, "We forgive you Xena." Another thanked her for freeing them.

"These souls hold guilt of their own, Xena." He opened his eyes. "Some feel guilty for attacking you that day, which started that fire." Xena was just frozen in her seat.

"They didn't see a person in so much pain and in morning for a friend." I thought he may have broken through. Eli motions for one of those souls to come out, looked like a middle aged man.

"Xena?" She can't meet his eyes. "We're sorry , we never knew what Yodoshi did to his family or that you were keeping your word to a friend." She lifts her head and the tears have streaked her face.

"I'm so sorry..." She's just weeping and the man embraces her. "I'm sorry." We were all crying now, even Eli let a tear slip. Eli walks over putting a hand on the mans shoulder, he stand holding Xena face in his hands. "You are forgiven Xena, thank you for freeing us." Then he joins the others and they vanish.

Eli let her cry it out until the sobs lessened, and she tried to speak.

"Bu... But Akemi said I had to stay so they could find grace." She was breathing hard and has this horrific expression on her face as it sinks in. This was where I had to step in.

"Warrior babe, you didn't wonder why you and Akemi are the only ones left in that tea house." She glanced around trying to think, then glanced over to me.

"Why?" She focused on Gabby and balled her fists up.

"She loves you and wanted you for her own." She looked up, trying to fight the tears and her hands were turning white from the pressure of being balled up so tight. "She knew Gabby stood in the way, she knew she couldn't harm her, so she did the next best thing." Xena was about ready to explode.

"She pretends to protect your love while lying her little buns off to you." Gabby turned over at that time and exposed part of that ugly tattoo. That must go. A little wiggle of my fingers and there was nothing but bard skin left.

"When you redeemed those souls, you redeemed hers also, as well as yours." Eli tried to explain. "Akemi should be with the others but chose to stay with you." Xena just looked at Eli with this agonizing expression on her face, an utter look of disbelief.

"I can't fix this, can I?" Xena made her way over towards the bed and sat down. "I'm sorry, Gabrielle." She touched her hand.

"I'm afraid not this time Xena, you made your choice." Eli said to Xena then stared towards me. Bummer, Xena's stuck there? Baby blues was too heavy in thought and my curiosity got the best of me, just wondering what she was thinking.

"Do you really believe that kind of love exists?" Empress Xena asks

"That's what we all dream about, isn't it? Someone who looks so deeply into our soul that-- they'd find something worth dying for." Playwright Gabby answers. Or......

Xena?? "There is only one way to end this cycle of hatred and that is through love and forgiveness." Their campfire scene where she was reliving Cirra.

"You didn't die for love Xena." Eli and I said together which made her mad.

"I know what I did!" She glared at us both through the tears. "You have any idea what I felt when I found out about those souls here? That I did this and it was said in front of Gabrielle? So she can see I'm more of a monster then we both thought?" She walked to the corner and hit the wall in anger.

"What's with the ‘we’?" I had to ask.

"Gabrielle never felt you were a monster, Xena." Eli piped in. "She loved you heart and soul, faults and all." He put his hand on her shoulders. "Until you choose to forgive yourself Xena, you'll never have redemption you so sorely wish for. It's time to end this hatred for you and find a sense of forgiveness." He gave her a kiss on the cheek, nodded towards me and left we three alone to ponder his words.

"It's time to go back, Xena." I hated to say it, but it was.

"Can I have a moment with her please?" Now how could I refuse that? I nodded my reply and she laid next to Gabby, pulling her close. I moved away to give them some privacy, sad that Gabby won't have a clue that any of this went on.

I stared out the porthole, 'Eli, there has to be a way.' Goddess’ pray also and he and I both stand for love, so give a girl a break. I gave them a candle mark.

"You ready, Xena?" She kissed the sweet head and gave it one more sniff for memory sake. The Warrior made her way towards me and I zapped us back to the pier outside the tea house.

"Aphrodite, thank you for showing me the truth, you and Eli both." She whispered. "Promise me you'll take care of her. Please let her be happy. I can't bear the thought that...." Her voice caught and then she did something I wasn't ready for. She pulled me in for a tight hug and wept on my shoulder. I held her the best I could, then that Akemi person came out.

"Xena?" Ooooooh I would have loved to just slap her silly and I felt Xena tense up in my arms.

"Yes, Akemi?" Xena pulled out of my embrace and I caught that icy stare.

"As much as I would love to stay and watch you kick her ass, I've seen enough goo for one day." I gave her a quick smooch and zapped out of there. Ok, I zapped to where she couldn't see me, truth being, I wanted to kick some Akemi butt too.

"I was so worried about you?" GAGGING! Oh please, she wanted in Xena’s breastplate so bad she could taste the metal. She walked over and put her hand on Xena's arm. Blue eyes just stared at it. I swear I could hear that girl growling.

"Akemi, stop." That made the little concubine jump. Xena turned her back and stared in the water.

"I know the truth, Akemi." You could tell Xena was trying to control her temper.

"What truth?" I’m rolling my eyes, this Miss Innocent shit wasn't going to work anymore.

"You lied to me again, and now I'm trapped here. You know. That truth?" Can ghosts turn pale? Xena turned to her, pinning her with those eyes. "Why? Why would you do this to me? Take me away from my soulmate?" Xena grabbed her and shook her.

"I was your soulmate first." Hello, as if. She pulled out of Xena grasp. "I was your poet first, we were meant to be together." Xena was in like shock here, so was I. "I love you Xena." Ohh please, this was making me nauseous. Xena slumped down on the pier in defeat.

"Akemi, I loved you, but never like that. You were a friend to me and back then that was rare to nil." Xena tried to reason. "Gabrielle is my only true love, my only soulmate, and it's torture being here without her." Xena broke down. "We're going to be together in this life as well as many others, we're connected." The warrior barely got that out.

"What about us, Xena?" She was crying now.

"THERE WAS NO US!" she growled. They were both silent until the warrior broke it.

"I want to you leave, Akemi, and join those other souls." Xena looked up towards her. "Please." She begged and you could hear the pain in her voice. Akemi bowed slightly as to respect her wishes. Xena's closed her eyes, hmm wonder what she's thinking again?

"I have been blessed, or cursed with the ability to see into the souls of others. You don't know it yet, Xena, but you're a remarkable woman, capable of greatness." Lao Ma was the first to believe in the warrior.

"You've been a dead woman for a long time now, Xena. I'm offering you the chance to live." Lao Ma tried hard back then to reason with the hard headed Warrior.

"I'm not looking for redemption any more. Gabrielle, we're always talking about your spiritual quest. You say that you need something to make you feel complete. Well, so do I." Xena told Gabby as they dragged her onto a prison ship. Gabby is begging her not to go. Hello? When did this happen?

"I'm sorry Xena, I never meant to hurt you." Xena didn't answer. "Please forgive me?" The kid made us both jump, damn forgot her was still there. The Warrior still gave no reply, and the look on Akemi's face....Well, I actually felt bad for her.

"Gabrielle told me one time... that to stop this cycle of violence I would have to learn to forgive." Her chin trembled and she looked up to Akemi with tears in her eyes.

"It took six long years, but I've finally learned that." She gave an ironic smile. "I forgive you." Akemi ran into Xena's arms as she stood up. "Now go to your family, I know they're waiting for you." Xena gave her a peck on her head and Akemi turned into a ball of light and floated away. You could hear in the wind, 'I'll always love you Xena.' The warrior sat back down to stare into the water.

"See Gabrielle, I learned something." Xena smiled and more tears slipped down her face. Damn, I've never cried so much in my immortal life. Today of all days I had to choose not to wear my water proof make-up.

"Yes, you have, Xena." Whoa, where did he come from? Eli scared the dickens out of us both. I hear this India music and he was dressed in this white outfit with a glowing light around him. I must say he could wear white well, on me it would make my butt look too big. I had to pop in on this and she stood up to greet him.

"Eli?" They embraced. He pulled her back.

"Do you admit your trespasses, Xena?" Come on Xena babe, you can do it.

"Yes," Xena sobbed.

"I now cleanse your body-- with these sweet waters-- and initiate you-- to the way of love as well as warrior." She dropped to her knees in front of him as he poured the water on her head. She glowed brightly and inhaled sharply. When the glowing stopped....."Oh my!!!"

"This is your last change, Xena." He smiled as Xena just figured out, she has her life back. "Not many mortals have come back from death like you have. So make this one count." She gave her a peck on the cheek and disappeared. She smiled broadly, did that battle cry and flipped in the air. That's my warrior babe. She grabbed me in a crushing bear hug, and I'm going to have her breastplate mark on me for some time.

"Gabrielle?" She kissed me then started off in a sprint. I was wondering if Miss Many Skills realized Gabby is on a boat to Egypt. I popped in front of her and she skidded to a stop, ready to protest.

"Hold your breeches, babe. Geesh." I gave a double finger snap and there was a very confused bard looking around until she spotted me.

"Aphrodite??" What in...." Before she could finish, Xena called for her and the bard just spun around.

"Xena??" Gabby covered her mouth and they both bolted to one another. They held each other tight.

"Am I dead?" Gabby said hopefully

"No, I'm very much alive though." The warrior gave her bard a flashy tearful grin. "You can thank Aphrodite and Eli for that." Gabby pulled her in tighter and cried. I just love happy endings, now where was that hanky again?

"Aphrodite?" I peek up towards my friend.

"Hey, Sweet Pea." The little bard threw her arms around me and kissed my cheek.

"I'm not sure how I can repay this, but I'll spend the rest of my life doing so."

She cried, I cried, the warrior cried. "Thank you so much." I gave the little bard one more pat on the back.

"Just continue to be my friend and we can call it even."

She smiled. "It's a deal." She hugged me again.

"You'd better go hug your warrior, she just might get jealous from all this attention you're giving me." We all had a chuckle at that. I watched as my friend ran back to her love. The warrior pulled her tight and Xena looked at me mouthing, 'Thank you.' I gave her my cute nose wrinkle.

Gabby pulled back a bit and looked up to the sky. "Thank you, Eli." Xena glanced up.

"Yes, thank you." The warrior seconded it, I of course thirded it. A bright beam from the sky formed down on us. "You're welcome my friends." This was like too cool for words.

"Xena, can we go home now?" The bard was just physically and mentally exhausted. The warrior pecked her on the head.

"We'll go where ever you want, my bard." They've been through so much and their love is stronger for it.

"Ok ladies, Dite needs some R&R too, so let's all go to the Island of Lesbos and just kick back for bit." They needed some time alone and I needed a lot of time getting these worry lines off my face. I watched as they're too busy in a lip lock to answer. It's so nice to know that love does conquer all.

The end.

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