Xena, Gabrielle and Callisto do not belong to me. They belong to MCA/Universal/Renaissance.
Part 15 of the Guardian Series
On a warm summer's day, Gabrielle was sitting under the shade of a large tree and writing her latest scroll. She hadn't written anything for a while, so now was a good time to write down their latest adventures.
Xena was sitting underneath another tree only a few feet from Gabrielle, she had her eyes closed as if she was meditating. She was listening to the silence around her, until she heard a small sound that disturbed her. The sound of tree leaves rustling just above her. Xena didn't react when someone jumped down from the tree, did a somersault and had her fist heading straight towards Xena's cheek. Only a few inches before the fist managed to touch the warrior, she had raised her hand in a swift motion and grabbed the fist, now holding it tightly in her grasp.
Xena smiled and said to the “attacker”:
“I heard you, you have to be completely quiet to surprise your adversaries.” Exl sighed knowing that this time she had been very close to surprising her friend, but failed yet again.
“Xena you're just too good. I don't think I'll ever learn to wait patiently and quietly enough to master the silent attack”, she said looking at Xena who had turned to look at her and let go of her fist.
“You're getting better every time you practice. Trust me, someday you'll be able to surprise even me”, Xena said patting her warrior companion's shoulder. Gabrielle smiled and looked at her warriors, it was nice to see Xena teaching Exl new skills.
“Don't worry Exl, I haven't been able to surprise Xena no matter how many times I've tried and no matter how many times she has tried to teach me”, she said to their Guardian.
Exl knew it had taken Xena a long time to become the excellent warrior that she was today, she hoped she could become as good as Xena was.
The family was on their way to the Amazon village because in about a week's time, it would be their first anniversary and they wanted to celebrate it in the place where they had been joined. It had been nearly a year since Xena and Gabrielle had met Exl for the first time and after getting some encouragement from her, they had confessed their love towards each other and gotten married in front of the entire Amazon tribe. They had faced a lot during that year and survived everything that had come up.
Xena decided to show Exl how she should wait for the right moment to strike, timing was very important. Xena looked up the tree to see for a branch where she could jump to and seeing one about 12 feet up, she shouted her battle cry, leaped up and swung herself to the chosen branch.
Exl looked at the performance and was yet again amazed by Xena's amazing talent.
But even though Xena was a great warrior, she was still just a human being. No human being is perfect, not even the Warrior Princess. When she reached the branch and thought everything was under her control, disaster struck. The branch was more easily breakable than it seemed and it couldn't bear Xena's weight. Xena realized what was about to happen, but despite her effort to catch another branch, she fell like a rock. There was nothing Exl could do to help Xena, she could only watch her fall and hit the branches on her way to the ground. Gabrielle was alerted by Exl's sudden calling of the tall warrior's name.
Her gaze was immediately drawn to the dark, falling figure and her heart jumped up her throat.
When Xena finally hit the ground, she hit her head on a rock and fell unconscious.
Exl and Gabrielle were by her side in a heart beat and they tried to wake her but she just wouldn't respond. Gabrielle already feared the worst, when Exl felt Xena's neck for a pulse. She was very relieved to find one and placed her ear near Xena's chest to listen to her breathing.
“Her breathing sounds normal and her pulse is strong. Hitting her head knocked her out, I don't know what kind of damages she might have sustained until she wakes up”, Exl said to the worried bard. Gabrielle was thankful that Exl was nearly as good a healer as Xena, she herself had learned a lot from Xena over the years, but she didn't know what to do right now.
They set up camp on the spot, it was starting to get dark soon. Exl said she didn't want to risk moving Xena much because she didn't know how badly she was injured. Later, as Xena was still unconscious, Gabrielle and Exl were sitting by the campfire and eating a small dinner. Gabrielle kept taking a look at her spouse and sighed because there was no change in her condition. Exl saw the sad look on Gabrielle's face and knelt down on one knee next to the bard and took her hand. Feeling the warm squeeze of Exl's hand, Gabrielle looked at her friend and Exl said:
“Don't worry Gabrielle, I know Xena will wake up soon. She hit her head pretty hard but thankfully she has a hard head and she's strong. When she wakes up I can see how badly she was hurt by that fall.” Gabrielle knew exactly what Exl meant by Xena having a hard head, it was true in more than one way. But it was hard for her to see the strong warrior like this, she barely ever got hurt that badly. Exl suggested that Gabrielle should get some rest, she would keep watch in case Xena would wake up or something else would come up. Gabrielle rolled out her bedroll next to Xena and Exl leaned against the tree behind her keeping a close eye on her Couple. She was also worried about Xena, but she had faith that everything would turn out okay.
In the morning when Gabrielle woke up to sound of the roaring fire and the delicious smell of breakfast, the first thing on her mind was Xena. She turned over and was upset to see that the warrior was just as still as before. Gabrielle got up and walked over to Exl who handed her a plate of food and wished her a good morning.
“Good morning Gabrielle”, Exl said and saw how Gabrielle took a quick look at Xena.
“Did anything happen during the night?”, Gabrielle asked as she turned to look back at her Loyal and began to eat breakfast. Exl shook her head and replied:
“No, I stayed up nearly the entire night and hoped for some kind of change in her condition, but everything is just as it was yesterday. I'm sorry.” Gabrielle wasn't that hungry, which was unusual but her concern for Xena made her lose her appetite.
Then something happened what both Gabrielle and Exl had been waiting for. Xena moved, she was finally waking up. She sat up carefully, she had one mean headache and she felt very dizzy. When she managed to open her eyes she saw two people in front of her. A beautiful blond, with bright green eyes and a younger woman, who had short light brown hair, eyes both blue and green and a long scar over her left eye. They were both staring at her but she couldn't understand why. The younger one handed her a water skin and said:
“Here Xena, drink some water.” Xena took the water skin and took a long sip of the cool, refreshing water. She handed the water skin back to the young one, who asked her:
“How do you feel? Does it hurt somewhere?” Xena didn't know what to say, she felt fine but her head was aching like she had been run over by a chariot.
“I'm fine, my head is just hurting”, she answered and both women seemed to be very relieved.
Gabrielle was glad to hear that the dark warrior had survived her fall without any serious damage.
She smiled at Xena and was about give her a hug when the warrior moved back to escape the embrace and she asked:
“Who… who are you?” Gabrielle thought this was one of Xena's little tricks and said:
“Come on Xena, stop joking around. You really had us worried.” But Xena didn't understand what the blond woman was talking about and she said:
“No I'm serious. Who are you?” This time both Exl's and Gabrielle's relieved expressions turned into expressions of amazement and worry. Exl placed her hand on Xena's shoulder and asked:
“Xena, what do you remember?” Xena tried to think hard and she saw flashes of her past in her mind. She saw her mother and her brothers, Toris and Lyceus. She saw how their town was attacked and how Lyceus died in her arms. That's all she could see, she turned to Exl and said:
“I remember how Cortese and his men attacked my hometown. My brother Lyceus and I tried to stop him, but Lyceus… he was so brave and he died right in my arms. I couldn't forgive myself for getting him killed, and neither did my mother or Toris. So I left and then…”
She looked at Gabrielle and Exl and continued:
“The next thing I remember is waking up and seeing you.” Gabrielle couldn't understand what was going on, why was Xena acting like this? Gabrielle stood up and walked to the campfire staring into it. Exl gave Xena a medicine to help her headache and then she went to Gabrielle.
When Gabrielle saw Exl walk next to her, she asked the short warrior:
“Exl, what is going on? What is wrong with Xena?” Exl took a look at Xena, who was looking at her surroundings and the clothes she was wearing, as if she had never seen them before.
“I'm not exactly sure, but I think that the blow on the head Xena sustained when she fell must have affected her memory. The last thing she remembers is leaving Amphipolis all those years ago”, Exl said looking into Gabrielle's eyes.
“It could be just temporary, once her headache disappears and she takes it easy for a few days, she should be back to her usual self. At least I hope so”, Exl said not really knowing what to say to comfort the bard. Exl took Gabrielle's hand and squeezed it as a sign of comfort.
Xena looked at the two women thinking they must be good friends, she could sense they were kind and loving people. She raised her voice to ask the two:
“Excuse me, but when are you going to answer my question?” Exl and Gabrielle walked back to Xena and sat down next to her. Gabrielle asked:
“What question?” Xena rolled her eyes and said:
“I asked you twice who you were and you still haven't told me your names.” Exl looked at Gabrielle and then at Xena.
“My name is Exl and this is Gabrielle”, Exl introduced herself and Gabrielle. Xena turned to Gabrielle and said to the bard:
“Gabrielle, what a beautiful name.” Gabrielle smiled, even though Xena was acting a bit weird, she was still as charming as always.
“Xena, what do you remember? About who you are?”, Exl asked.
“Well, I'm the second child of Cyrene and Atrius. I have an older brother named Toris and… I had a younger brother named Lyceus. My hometown is Amphipolis where my mother is an innkeeper”, Xena said. Gabrielle looked at Exl and Exl looked back at Gabrielle with the same concerned look.
“Now that I know your names, would you tell me more about yourselves?”, Xena said to the others.
It took Gabrielle and Exl a while to tell Xena about themselves. Finally Exl said:
“Xena, you and Gabrielle are married… to each other and I'm your Guardian.” Exl took both Xena's and Gabrielle's left hands and showed them to Xena. She could see the wedding rings on their fingers, but still couldn't remember either of the two. Exl told Xena about her accident:
“Xena, when you fell, you hit your head very hard and are now suffering from a loss of memory. But things will turn out okay, trust us.”
Xena was very baffled, all she could remember was leaving Amphipolis and now these two women have told her that they have traveled together for quite some time and that she's married to one of them and the other is their “Guardian”. Xena said she needed to rest and think about the things she had just learned, Exl and Gabrielle thought it would be wise.
For the next few days, Xena kept asking the others more about them and about herself. Gabrielle thought that telling Xena about things that were familiar to her, she might get her memory back sooner.
But things didn't change much, Xena's head was now filled with details about herself and her wife and Guardian, but she just couldn't connect the details to form a solid memory.
Gabrielle and Exl knew they had to continue their journey to the Amazon village if they wanted to be there by their anniversary day. Xena was excited to meet the Amazons Gabrielle had told about.
Their peaceful walk was stopped by a group of thugs, which wasn't anything new to them.
“If it isn't the mighty Warrior Princess and her little friends”, one of the men said. Exl looked at Gabrielle and said:
“I hate it when they crack jokes about our height.” Gabrielle knew what Exl meant; it was easy for any bandit to think they could beat them because they were so short. The men ran towards the women and before they could strike, Gabrielle was ready with her staff and Exl had drawn her axes. The thugs attacked and Exl and Gabrielle showed them they weren't just Xena's little friends. Xena couldn't move, she was just too startled to do anything. She just watched as Gabrielle hit the attackers with her staff and Exl blocked the enemy's strikes with her weapons and gave back fierce strikes of her own. Then one of the thugs faced Xena and he could see that Xena wasn't completely herself. She just looked at him with a hint of fear in her eyes. Before the thug could make his move, Exl jumped between him and Xena and she was slashed in the left bicep by the thug. She kicked him hard in the chest and he fell hard to the ground. Most of the thugs who were still able to move grabbed their injured comrades and made a run for safety.
Gabrielle looked around and saw that Exl and Xena were safe even though Exl's arm was bleeding.
“Are you alright?”, Gabrielle asked the warriors. Exl nodded and Xena said still slightly startled:
“Yes, but without Exl, I wouldn't be. She took a strike for me. Why Exl?” Exl was holding her bleeding arm and said while Gabrielle was getting some bandages from Argo's saddlebag:
“Because that's my duty. Xena, you may not remember but I have vowed to protect you and Gabrielle from harm, to help you in your time of need. I'd give my life for you.” Xena listened to the words with very mixed emotions. She was happy to hear how loyal Exl was, but also a bit scared and sad that if things would go bad, Exl would die for her. She must mean a lot to the young warrior for her to make such a big promise. Gabrielle wrapped a bandage around Exl's bicep and said:
“We have to get to the nearest town. It's not safe for us to wander around while Xena is…”
But Exl disagreed:
“No, it's safer for us to keep to ourselves and get to the Amazons as soon as possible. Think about it Gabrielle, if we walk into the next town we can find, who knows what will be waiting for us there. The people see Xena and ask for her help, but she won't be able to help. Or there could be a group of bandits wanting to challenge her and she won't stand a chance. Either way, things don't look good because she isn't herself.” Gabrielle thought about it and knew Exl was completely right. Xena looked at her friends and said:
“I want to remember. I want to be myself again. Will you help me?”
Gabrielle and Exl knew it wouldn't be easy, they had to tell everything about Xena's past and they had to teach her how to fight again. But they would do it, they wanted to have the old Xena back.
Close by, a couple of the thugs had been listening to the discussion. They quickly returned to their camp and told the others what they had seen and heard. Some of the thugs had once been in Xena's army and were very surprised to hear about the great Warrior Princess' memory loss.
“So you're certain that she has no memory of anything?”, one of them asked.
“Yes, they kept saying something about her not being herself”, another replied. The so-called leader of the group had an idea. He told the others what he had been thinking and his plan was approved. Now they just had to wait for the Warrior Princess to make her move.
Finding a safe place to camp, Gabrielle began to read her scrolls to Xena, since they were about all the adventures they had had together. She also told about things of Xena's past which Xena herself had told her during their travels. Listening to stories did help Xena remember some things. She could vaguely remember some of their friends like Joxer, Autolycus, Hercules and Iolaus. She surprised Gabrielle a few times by correcting small details in Gabrielle's stories, but even though how many stories Gabrielle told her, she just couldn't entirely remember neither Gabrielle nor Exl.
Exl gave Xena fighting lessons, some were the same lessons Xena had given her. Xena started to remember some of her old moves and techniques bit by bit. Exl even gave Xena some lessons in sword fighting even though she had never been that good at fighting with a sword.
After another long day of practicing and reminiscing, the trio was sitting by the fire and when they had finished eating, Xena said:
“Thank you Exl, for teaching me all those tricks and techniques.” Exl smiled and replied:
“Don't mention it Xena, you taught ME most of them.” Then Xena glanced at Gabrielle and said:
“Gabrielle…” The bard turned her gaze towards warrior, the way she said her name was like the times when Xena was about to say something deep from her heart.
“Thank you for reading me those stories, they were all so wonderful. It's almost hard to imagine that we've done all those things. I wish I could remember everything, some things are still a bit fuzzy but I'm sure that we'll get through this like always”, Xena said looking deep into the bard's eyes. Gabrielle looked into the icy blue eyes like many times before, but as tears started to form in her own eyes, she stood up and walked away from camp quietly crying.
Xena was unhappy to see Gabrielle this way, it hurt her inside. She looked at her young companion and asked:
“Exl, why is Gabrielle so sad?”
Exl was looking towards Gabrielle's direction, then turned to look at her friend across the fire.
“I'd be sad if I were her. The woman she loves most in this entire world can't remember who she is, can't remember all the things they've shared, the love they have. Wouldn't you be sad Xena?”, Exl replied. Xena's head sank and she was feeling sad, she didn't want to hurt Gabrielle's feelings even though she didn't know what her own true feelings were exactly.
“I'm so sorry, I wish I could remember. I remember things Gabrielle has told about in her stories and some people as well. The Amazons, Joxer, Autolycus and others too, but still I can't completely remember her or you. Just tiny bits and pieces here and there. I can see that every time she looks at me she wishes that I would be my old self again and I can see how disappointed she is every time because I just can't remember. I don't want to hurt her Exl, I can feel it in my heart.” Exl walked over to Xena and sat down next to her.
“I know that Xena. I know that even though your mind isn't clear about everything, deep down your heart and your feelings towards Gabrielle are as strong as always. I have vowed to help you two in anything and everything that happens. I'll do my best to help you remember, not just for your sake but for Gabrielle's as well.” Xena smiled at her friend, in her heart she felt like this young warrior was really dedicated to her duty.
“Thank you Exl”, Xena said and Exl got up, patted Xena's shoulder and said:
“I'll go and talk to Gabrielle, I think she needs a comforting shoulder.” Xena nodded and Exl walked out of camp to find Gabrielle.
Gabrielle wasn't far from camp, just far enough to be alone for a while. She heard footsteps and saw her Loyal emerge from behind the trees. Exl's heart felt heavy seeing Gabrielle's tear-filled eyes, she couldn't stand to see either one of her Couple unhappy. She walked right up to Gabrielle and because Gabrielle was sitting down on a fallen tree, Exl was taller than the bard. She opened up her arms and embraced the sad Gabrielle without saying a word. Gabrielle tightened the embrace and held her ear next to Exl's steadily beating heart. She stopped crying after a few minutes and let go of her comforter. Exl sat right next to Gabrielle and wiped the tears from her cheeks.
“Please don't cry Gabrielle, everything will turn out okay”, Exl said with a calm, comforting voice.
Gabrielle took Exl's hand and then looked at her Guardian, saying with sadness in her heart:
“This is so hard for me Exl. That woman over there isn't the warrior I love, the warrior I married. She is not the Xena I know, it's just her outer shell. When I look at her I can see that she is there, but not completely. What if this is permanent? What if Xena will never remember us?”, Gabrielle said with tears falling on her cheeks. Exl stroked Gabrielle's cheek with her thumb and let Gabrielle press her head against her hand. She looked deeper into Gabrielle's eyes, knowing that it always gave her comfort and a feeling of safety and love.
“Gabrielle, I know how sad you are because Xena isn't herself. I know how it hurts you that the woman you love more than anything is not there when you look at her. But Xena has been working very hard, she is improving every time we practice and she remembers something new every time you read one of your stories. The day you were married, I made a vow to stand by your side through everything and help you in anyway I can. Xena hasn't gone anywhere, she's right here”, Exl said placing her hand softly on Gabrielle's heart.
“We have to help her remember, she can't do it without us. Everything will be okay, I promise”, Exl said without taking her gaze from Gabrielle's. Gabrielle was silent, she just stared into the Guardian's eyes. Then without a warning, she closed the distance between her and Exl and gave the warrior a kiss on the corner of her lips. When she pulled away, neither of them could say anything. Neither one of them knew what had just happened.
Not far away, Xena was watching the two from behind some trees. She couldn't hear anything they said, but she saw the kiss and it hurt. All this time Gabrielle and Exl had tried to help her remember her past and told her that they were a family. Maybe they had been lying the whole time, that everything they had told her was just one big lie. Xena walked back to camp and took her wedding ring from her finger and placed it on Gabrielle's bedroll. Then she disappeared into the night.
Gabrielle and Exl were still silently looking at each other when they heard branches break near camp. They ran back to camp to find it completely empty, Xena was gone.
“Xena!”, Exl tried to call out for her friend but no-one answered. Gabrielle looked around to see if there were any signs of a struggle, but everything looked the way they had left it. Then something caught her eye, something gleaming in the light of the campfire. She picked it up and saw it was Xena's ring. Exl ran to Gabrielle when she saw Gabrielle had found something.
She was just as worried as Gabrielle when she saw the ring on Gabrielle's palm.
“What can this mean? Why has Xena left?”, Gabrielle asked. Exl shook her head and responded:
“I don't know but we have to find her. She might be in trouble.” They broke camp and began searching for Xena.
Xena had been walking around for candlemarks, covering her tracks so no-one could follow her. That's something she remembered, she was a good tracker and good at covering her own tracks.
She sat down to rest for a moment, she knew Exl and Gabrielle wouldn't find her, at least not for a while. She heard footsteps, but they couldn't be the footsteps of two women. It sounded more like a dozen men. Xena jumped up and was ready to try her newly learned skills in action when she saw the men approaching her. But they didn't want to fight, one of them said:
“Xena, how wonderful it is to see that you're alright.” Xena had no idea what the man was talking about. She didn't recognize any of the men, she asked the man who had addressed her:
“What do you mean alright? Has something happened?” Some of the men laughed and one of them replied:
“Well after you were captured, we thought you were a goner.”
“Captured?”, Xena asked, things were getting stranger every moment.
“Yes, don't you remember? You're Xena, a feared warlord, the Destroyer of Nations. You're known and feared everywhere. We are you're loyal men, part of your great army. You were about to lead us into another victorious battle when those rebels attacked.”
“Rebels? You mean Exl and Gabrielle?”, Xena said with amazement.
“Yes, they are the rebel leaders, fighting against you. To stop you, they captured you and knocked you unconscious. When you woke up, they tried to convince you they were your friends, tried to convince you that you're a warrior fighting for good, a hero. But you're smarter than that Xena, you saw right through their tricks and escaped and returned to us. You know your destiny is to rule the world and nothing can stop you”, the man told Xena with enthusiasm. Suddenly Xena began having more flashes about her past. She saw herself as a fearsome pirate, she saw the moment when she decided to turn into the vicious warlord and how she led her great army into battles, crushing everything in her path. She remembered who she was, she was the one who would rule the world. Her calm expression turned into a dark smile and she said:
“Yes, I remember now. No rebels can defeat me, they can't stop me!” The men cheered and led Xena back to their camp to celebrate the return of their “great leader”.
Gabrielle and Exl had been walking all night searching any signs of the Warrior Princess. Exl had found some tracks, but they ran out soon because Xena had covered them. But Exl still knew which direction Xena had gone to.
“Exl, how do you know Xena has gone this way? I can't see any tracks, she has done a good job covering them”, Gabrielle asked. Exl was crouching down, searching the ground for Xena's tracks.
She turned to look at Gabrielle and smiled.
“Because no matter how well Xena has tried to cover her tracks, she has still been a bit careless.
Because she isn't quite herself, she has tried too hard to cover her tracks. Look, this path is covered with far too much twigs and leaves to blend into the surroundings”, Exl said and pushed away some leaves to uncover some footprints.
“And I know that Argo knows Xena's scent, if we start going in the wrong direction, Argo will follow Xena's trail”, Exl said standing up and patting Argo's neck. Gabrielle was worried about Xena, but she knew that Exl would find her. They heard voices nearby and quietly sneaked closer to the direction of the voices. They hid behind some bushes and saw some men walking around with weapons. Gabrielle recognized a few faces and said to Exl:
“Some of those men look like men from Xena's old army. I thought they were all imprisoned but apparently not all of them.”
Then they saw Xena walking amongst the men, they were surprised to find Xena here.
“Oh no, Xena must have been captured by them. We have to get her out of there”, Gabrielle said.
Suddenly, Gabrielle and Exl heard something behind them and when they turned around, four men were holding their swords drawn at them. The men took their weapons and dragged them into camp. Their hands were tied and they were taken to the commander. When Xena approached them with one of the men, Gabrielle said to her:
“Xena, thank the Gods you're alright. We were so worried about you”. Xena looked at Gabrielle and Exl with a cold gaze and said:
“Silence.” Exl struggled in her restrains and said:
“Xena, what's wrong with you?” Xena walked over to Exl and looked down at her. She lifted her hand to touch Exl's cheek softly, before hitting her hard enough to knock Exl down.
Gabrielle looked at Exl, then at Xena. What was going on, why was Xena behaving like this?
“You lied to me. You told me we were friends, that we were a family. That together we were fighting for the greater good. And I believed you, I trusted you. But everything was just a lie”, Xena said with a strong, cold voice.
Exl had stood up, she ignored the pain and asked Xena:
“What? What are you talking about?” Xena looked around her and continued:
“My men have told me the real truth. About your lies and attempt to stop me from reaching my destiny to rule the world. I am Xena, the Destroyer of Nations!” Gabrielle's heart ached, what had Xena become?
“No. Xena, that is not true. That was who you once were, not who you are now. They've brainwashed you Xena, don't believe them”, Gabrielle said to Xena she never thought she would see. Xena walked to Gabrielle, looked at her and whispered:
“I remember everything, I remember who I am. I can remember everything about being the leader of a great army, but I can't remember being warrior for good. So everything you've told me has to be a lie.” Gabrielle looked into Xena's eyes, but she only saw darkness in them. Like nothing was left of the Xena she knew.
“Xena, what do you to do with them?”, one of the men asked. Xena turned away from Gabrielle and said:
“Kill them both.”
Exl and Gabrielle both tried to struggle but it was no use, they were outnumbered and overpowered. They were pushed down to their knees and two men with swords stood behind them. Xena walked away with her back to the prisoners, she didn't care to see their execution.
Exl was very angry and she shouted to the warlord:
“Xena, you can't do this! This isn't you! You're my best friend!” Xena stopped as the words “best friend” began to ring in her head. She closed her eyes and saw flashes about all the times Exl had helped her and had fought beside her, about Exl's friendly smile and the times they had laughed together.
“Exl…”, she said to herself remembering the warrior, but her heart was still filled by the memory of her own violence. Gabrielle couldn't believe that Xena was about to kill them, no matter how hard they had tried to help her remember, the only thing she remembered was her past as a warlord.
Gabrielle tried to reach through to her warrior one last time:
“Xena, I love you. I have always loved you, nothing can ever change that.” Gabrielle's words kept ringing in Xena's mind and then she saw with more flashes. This time she saw Gabrielle smiling, all the times Gabrielle had hugged her and kissed her. She remembered every single time that Gabrielle had told her how much she loved her.
“Gabrielle…”, was all Xena could say before more flashes filled her mind. She saw how all three of them were together and how happy they were. She saw their wedding day remembering everything about it and it filled her heart with love and happiness.
The men had swung their swords towards Gabrielle's and Exl's head, but the blades were broken by Xena's chakram before they reached their targets. Xena caught her chakram before drawing her sword and starting to kick some butt. The men realized things hadn't gone as they had planned when Xena attacked them. Exl stood up and kicked the man standing behind her. He threw his sword in the air and when it fell, Exl held out her hands and ropes were cut from around her wrists.
She picked up the sword and cut Gabrielle's ropes as well. Xena had already beaten half of the men when she saw a big thug with Exl's weapons on his belt. She flipped right in front of him and before he knew what to expect, Xena had knocked him down. She grabbed Exl's axes and called for her companion. Exl turned to Xena, seeing she was holding her weapons. Xena threw the axes at Exl, who made a back flip, caught her weapons and landed firmly on the ground. Xena smiled at her and Exl smiled back at Xena. Exl disarmed a man with Gabrielle's staff by hitting his fingers and when he dropped the staff, she knocked him with it and threw it to Gabrielle. A while later, the women had defeated the thugs and when one of the men was trying to crawl away, Xena walked to him and grabbed him by the throat. She looked at him filled with anger and whispered to him:
“You made a big mistake trying to change me back to my bad ways. As long as I have those two by my side, there is no way I will go back to who I was.” The man was very afraid what Xena would do to him, but she just let him go. He knew it was best to get out of there as fast as he could.
Xena sheathed her sword and walked to Gabrielle and Exl. Both women looked at Xena and Gabrielle raised her hand to Xena's cheek asking her:
“Xena, is that really you?” Xena looked deep into her bard's eyes and replied:
“I'm Xena, former Destroyer of Nations, now known as the Warrior Princess and the consort and Champion of you, Gabrielle, the Battling Bard and the Queen of the Amazons. And that warrior, is Exl, our Loyal and our Guardian and together, we're a family. I love you too Gabrielle, and I won't let anything change it.” Gabrielle was happier than she had been in a long time, it really was Xena! Exl patted Xena's back and said:
“Xena, what happened?” Xena looked at both women and smiled.
“These men used to be part of my army long ago. Some of them must have been the thugs we ran into before and they saw I wasn't myself. They thought they could trick me into becoming the ruthless warlord I was. For a moment there, they nearly succeeded. But when you reminded me of the important things in my life, I got the rest of my memories back and then it was time to kick some butt”, Xena explained grabbing Gabrielle in one arm and Exl in the other.
“I knew you were under there somewhere. You couldn't have hurt us, no matter how evil you were”, Exl said. Xena brushed Exl's cheek that was entirely red and a bit swelling.
“Sorry for that Exl, apparently I was able to hurt you”, Xena said but Exl shrugged it away saying:
“That wasn't you Xena, it was the old you.”
“Let's get away from here, before these guys wake up”, Gabrielle said leading the two warriors away from the unconscious men.
That night everything was like the way it had been before Xena's accident. All three of them were sitting around the campfire and they were all happy everything was alright again. Xena asked Exl if she could have a word with her in private. She led Exl away from camp and when she stopped, Exl asked Xena:
“What is it Xena, is everything okay?” Xena's smile revealed that everything was fine, she ruffled Exl's hair and said:
“Thanks Exl.” Exl fixed her hair and asked:
“What for?” Xena patted Exl's shoulder and continued:
“For what you did to help me. At the same time you helped me and Gabrielle. You were there for her when I wasn't.” Exl looked into the eyes of her companion and said:
“Of course, I only did what I've vowed to do for the rest of my life.”
“I can see now how hard all this was to Gabrielle, I'm glad you were there for her.”
“It was hard for her, and a few times it was hard for me as well. I had to do everything I could to help you remember and I also had to comfort Gabrielle when she was feeling down. But we made it through, just like always”, Exl said offering Xena her arm. Xena was happy to grasp it and she pulled Exl to a big, friendly hug. Xena heard someone approaching and Exl saw Gabrielle walk from camp. She released herself from Xena's embrace and walked to Gabrielle.
“I'll leave you two, I think you have a lot to discuss.” Gabrielle smiled at Exl, who left the couple and returned to camp.
Gabrielle walked up to Xena and wrapped her arms around the warrior's waist. She looked deep into her wife's icy blue eyes and saw the love in them she hadn't seen for a while.
“I'm glad that you're back to your normal self again”, the bard said. Xena's smile grew and she kissed Gabrielle's forehead.
“It's good to be back. The past days have been very unusual, haven't they?”, she said.
“They have, Xena you can't imagine how hard all of this was to me. You were here, but still you weren't”, Gabrielle said looking up at the tall warrior.
“I know, I saw it in you. I can remember everything that happened after I woke up, I remember every story you told me and all the lessons Exl gave me. I remember looking at you and seeing how sad you were looking at me. I'm sorry it took me so long to remember”, Xena said softly stroking Gabrielle's cheek.
“Xena, why did you leave? Exl and I were very worried about you when you disappeared”, Gabrielle asked. Xena remembered what happened the previous night and answered:
“When you left camp and Exl came after you, I followed you as well. I could see you talk, but I couldn't hear you. Then you… you suddenly kissed her and it hurt me inside. You had been telling me how we were married and that we're a family and then I see you kissing our Guardian. I was so confused.” Gabrielle's face turned as red as a cooked lobster when Xena said she had seen her kiss Exl. Gabrielle took Xena's hands and said:
“Xena, I want to tell you something about that kiss. When I talked to Exl, I was nearly heartbroken, but when I looked deep into her eyes and listened to her comforting words, something happened.
It was as if suddenly she wasn't there anymore and you were there in her place. I wasn't looking into Exl's eyes anymore, I was looking into your eyes like I'm looking into them right now. You were the one saying those comforting words to me and I was so happy to see you, the real you. I love you so much and I wanted to show it to you, so I kissed you. Well, at least I thought I was kissing you. The next I knew I was sitting there looking at Exl who didn't know what was going on. You will always be in my heart, no matter what happens.” Xena listened to Gabrielle's words and understood what had happened.
“It was just like the first time I met Exl. When I looked into her eyes for the first time, it was like you would have been there with me all along”, Gabrielle said looking deeper into her warrior's blue eyes.
“I've always known there's some kind of magic in those eyes of hers. When I've looked into her eyes a few times, it's like they've turned completely green and I've seen you there”, Xena replied with almost a whisper. She moved towards Gabrielle and gave her a long kiss which seemed to last forever. When Gabrielle pulled away, she saw a sparkle in Xena's eyes. She said:
“I have something of yours.” She put her hands behind her back and then presented something to the warrior. It was Xena's ring, but when Xena tried to take it from Gabrielle, the bard pulled her hand away and said shaking her head:
“No Xena, let me.” Xena smiled giving Gabrielle her hand and Gabrielle placed the ring back on Xena's finger.
“There, much better”, Gabrielle said looking at the warrior's hand. Xena took Gabrielle's hand and gave it a kiss.
“Happy anniversary Gabrielle”, Xena said with a loving smile. Gabrielle shook her head and noted:
“Xena, it's not our anniversary yet. It's tomorrow.”
“I know that, I just wanted to wish it in advance, in case something would happen”, Xena replied.
Gabrielle laughed and pulled Xena into another long kiss. The world disappeared around them and there was nothing else left but just the two of them.
Together they had yet again overcome another adversity, and knowing them, it wouldn't be their last.
End of “Do You Remember?”
The series will continue in: “The Race of Warriors”
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