This is my attempt at getting a story out of my head while paying homage to the ambiguous writing style of XWP as well as creating my own takes on some of my favourite aspects/events of the series.Inspired by discussion in this here thread, I now present you with a little post-AFIN/AU tale in 9 instalments. Still polishing off the later parts, but if I don't start posting it I'll never push myself into finishing. Also I thought I'd use your help and to make the story tight before posting it on some host-site. So if you take time to actually read, constructive criticism is very much welcomed. And I'll never say no to words that might stroke my ego.
Disclaimers: XWP and all characters associated with it are the property of Universal and Ren. Pics. However I am using them for my own non-profit entertainment. As for the "original" characters in there, they're not mine either. All of this is merely my interpretation of things that interests me greatly.
As for contents disclaimers, what you see on the show is what you get here. Nothing more, possibly a little less.
A very heartfelt thank you to gravitystar my brilliant beta and idea-bouncer.
I sing the song of Xena the mightiest warrior of her time. A hero born out of pain and sorrow. A legend created from the ashes of a destroyer. The noblest of creatures, the bringer of justice. The other half of my soul.
I cry for the death of a legend. On the hills of the land of the rising sun she made her final selfless sacrifice, while bringing closure to the souls she once hurt as she laid down her own life.
A living legend is dead. Xena the Warrior Princess has met her death, but her memory will live forever in the hearts of those looking for a hero and a defender.
The blonde put down the quill when no more words would come to her. Her eyes were brimming with tears as she put the scroll aside. As she looked up into the clear night sky the tears fell down the blonde eyelashes, rolling down her cheeks to wet the fur wrapped around her shoulders. The firelight reflected in her green eyes creating a sparkle that had for many months been missing in those soulful eyes.
It was not pain, it was grief and there is a difference. While the tears marked her cheeks the grief marked her soul. It had been the right decision at the time. It had been the only decision at the time, but as that same time passed the questions appeared. Xena had once claimed that there was something that went beyond the Greater Good for each and every one of us. For Xena it had been Gabrielle's life, now it was Gabrielle's time to figure out what that meant for her.
Without warning a figure materialised next to her.
"I think she would prefer a few more fight scenes," the humourless voice Ares added.
"Probably. But she's not here, so it's not up to her," she replied sourly without looking up at him.
"Score one for the blonde," he said, still standing in the same place. If a god could have appeared awkward he would have.
The air stilled and the silence grew between them. Gabrielle knowing what to say, but without the will to speak. Ares not knowing what to say, but with a need to speak.
"It doesn't look like she's coming back," he said, his voice dry, cool and without emotion. Only his eyes reflecting the emotions on Gabrielle's face.
"No," Gabrielle reluctantly acknowledged.
In order to goad her into an argument he added, "Perhaps it is time to look for a new warrior. Eve might be ready to give up all the peace crap and come back to me." A confident grin appeared on his lips.
Not rising to his challenge Gabrielle merely refused to answer.
"You should have brought her back when you had the chance," he said accusingly, an almost human sorrow to his tone.
Green eyes looked at him, bore into him. Red-rimmed eyes filled with grief pinned him in place. "But I didn't," she replied. Her jaws clenched shut, muscles playing under the fair skin trying to contain anger, grief and hopelessness.
He took a step closer to her. "You never had what it took," he growled into her ear.
"No, but I had what she needed," she spat back at him.
A fire blazed in their eyes, threatening to consume them both.
Having paid her final respect to her soulmate by abiding to Xena's wishes and placing her ashes next to her kin in Amphipolis, Gabrielle slowly began to drift from the world around her. Friends and family were neglected as solitude and strangers became her new world. Finally her only emotional link to the world was through the God of War, but shared grief makes for a hollow bond and soon not even that connection could rouse her emotions.
The only time she allowed herself solace was in her dreams. Dreams that brought happiness which at the break of the new day disappeared, and was replaced by an all consuming grief
Reality was transformed into a game of survival, but held no sentimental value to her. Hope….she had lost hope a long time ago, it was something others had and she would devote her life so that they would never lose it. She was the warrior she had always dreamt of, she made herself into a tool, stripped herself of relationships and lasting connections. The Greater Good was a purpose, a purpose she single-mindedly lived.
With each kill, with each experience she slowly lost yet another part of herself until grief was the only thing that held her together.
In a world she had lost contact with the nights became her only reprieve.
On a bed of pure obsidian a tall figure was sprawled. Her long dark tresses fell along the dark stone, the icy blue eyes opened and lazily regarded the person in front of her. The bed was surrounded by blood red flowers, starkly contrasting with the darkness of the cavern. Where or how she got there was irrelevant as Gabrielle, hypnotised, watched the full lips of the creature in front of her as she began to speak.
"Good evening Gabrielle," the figure said, not only in appearance was this Xena, but the voice was so familiar that it brought tears to Gabrielle's eyes.
"Am I dead?" the blonde asked as the tears slowly ran down her cheeks.
"Oh, I really do hope you're not," the creature said the wording as unfamiliar and out of place as the voice was familiar. "Would spoil all my plans," she added with a dramatic sigh.
"You're not Xena," Gabrielle accused without much emotion.
"No, should I be?" The creature wearing Xena's physical form sat up and gracefully inched to the edge of the bed. "I just thought you'd feel more comfortable if I wore this face. After all this is what you pray for every night as you fall asleep, is it not?" The Xena that was not Xena let its long legs fall over the edge as she leisurely picked up one of the red flowers and brought it to her nose. "Intoxicating." A lecherous smile spread on its lips and made Gabrielle's stomach flutter. "Clearly I am making you uncomfortable," Xena said with a small chuckle. "Perhaps you're more comfortable with this face," it now asked in the body of Perdicus. Slowly he got to his feet subtly swaying his hips as he got closer to her. "Or this one?" it wondered this time as Joxer.
The tears continued their river down Gabrielle's cheeks as her loved ones paraded in front of her. "Stop, please," she begged of the shape shifter in front of her.
"Do I make you uncomfortable?" he asked with yet another transformation. This time the impressive build of the God of War stood before her. "I quite like this one myself," he said and with a grin on his lips as he flexed his muscles. "A lot actually," he said with a laughter so cheerful it was entirely out of character for Ares.
Whipping the persistent tears off her cheek she asked, "Who are you?"
With another laugh at her determined expression he reached out a strong hand to wipe away some of the tears. "You my friend, are absolutely adorable," he paused for a second to look into the cold green eyes. "Despite that entire grief thing."
"What do you want with me?" she asked him without moving.
His hand slowly trailed down her streaked cheek as he replied, "You were once to be my bride."
She stared blankly at him before finding her voice and wit. "You have to be more specific. I've been engaged a lot of times," she said without humour.
The God of War clone laughed once more. "Oh, we would have made such a lovely couple," he said, laughter still in his voice. All of a sudden his appearance shimmered in front of her and where Ares had stood was now a man she had never seen before. As tall as the God of War, but shoulders much less wide, arms slender but powerful. On his head was soft curls of hair as dark as obsidian. His eyes were just as dark and held the same sparkle as the volcanic rock. As appeared to be the custom among Greek deities his costume consisted of dark leather beautifully adorned with bright red details. The dark roughness of his clothes contrasting spectacularly with his smooth pale skin.
"I'm Morpheus," he said as he gallantly took hold of her hand and bestowed a chaste kiss on it.
"Morpheus?" Surprise for once overrode Gabrielle's grief.
"Indeed," he said with a charming smile, brilliant white teeth shimmering. He took her hand and led her towards his bed. "Sit down for minute, darling. We have something to discuss."
"What have I ever done to any of the gods?" Gabrielle asked with defeat.
"I don't know, darling. But you've got that special something," his hands vividly gesticulating in the air. "You've got something that speaks to a god. I think it might be your willingness to accept. Something we find incredibly attractive," he said in a husky voice and with a purposefully raise eyebrow. Gabrielle's eyes widened in shock causing him to clutch his stomach in laughter. "Broken and defeated by life, and still you can pull off the innocent indignation. Why wouldn't we gods like you?" he said wiping tears of laughter from his eyes.
"Why am I here?" she asked gruffly. "Am I dreaming?"
"So many questions, so little…actually we've got all the time in the world," he said with a smile. "To be honest with you," he continued as he put an arm around her shoulder. Her eyes narrowed, but refrained from interrupting him. "I'm only the messenger. However much it pains me to admit it, I'm doing someone else's dirty work." He grimaced in faked distaste.
"And that someone would be?" she asked not expecting an answer until he had had more time to play with his monologue. No matter what one could count on a god to be self-obsessed.
"Of course we are self-obsessed. Wouldn't you be if you were worshipped?" he asked her, but placed a finger to her lips before she could reply. "Don't answer that. I'll skip to the proverbial chase instead, surprise you a little."
"Please do," she interjected sourly.
"Such a lovely pout," he said and traced her protruding lower lip. "Nyx wants you for her plaything," he frankly told her.
"What?" she asked baffled. "Why?"
"I thought we went through this before," he said with a most dramatic frown. "You're entertaining and with that pretentious bunch over on Olympus being gone…well, most of them anyhow. Where were I? Ah, yes, we take our entertainment where we can find it. And we've found you." He got to his feet, meticulously straightening the leathers which were immaculate. He unnecessarily cleared his throat and with a melodramatic sweeping of his hands he said, "Nyx presents you with the opportunity to go back in time. She is willing to drop you down in history right after Xena returns from having met a certain individual by the name of Lao Ma for the first time."
"Why would you refuse?" he sincerely asked her. "This is your opportunity to go back in time and make things right. You can prevent Xena from ever going to Japa, no one will ever have to die."
"There is a reason why the world is what it is," she commented.
"Yes, because we've made it into what it is," he said nonchalantly. "This is your opportunity to make the world into a better place."
"For all I know I could be making it all worse," she said.
"Do you really have that little faith in yourself?" he wondered as he gently stroked her shoulder. "Trust the bond you have with Xena." His voice was as soft as his hands on her skin, seductively enticing her with his gentle words.
"What does Nyx get out of all this?" she asked him suspiciously.
His gentle laughter began to tax her nerves as it once again hit her eardrums. He looked at her, studied her face, his eyes caressing her lips, brow, nose. "She hopes you'll restore the balance among her children," he answered truthfully.
With a frown Gabrielle looked at him, "I don't understand."
"Xena caused imbalance to our order by her rampage of gruesome murder among the Olympians." He wrinkled his nose as if he had just smelt something three days past foul.
"Why would I agree to this? I stood beside her during that time," Gabrielle informed him.
"Yes, but imagine a world where she wouldn't have to defend herself against them. Imagine a world where we all could continue existing." His dark eyes sparkled like stars in the night sky.
"There's no guarantee for that."
"No, but there is potential for such an outcome," he succinctly told her.
Night surrounded her, devoured her body and soul. Darkness so thick it made breathing difficult and seeing an impossibility. A velvet smooth voice belonging to a seductress disturbed the silence, "You accept?"
Gabrielle wanted to deny her wishes, wanted to rebel against the oppressive presence around her, but her mind failed her. "I accept," she replied.
"Once you've gone back, you can never return," the seductress' voice informed her.
In a sea of darkness the only thing that existed in Gabrielle's mind were the memories. The image of her soulmate's body strung up in the rain bombarded her, an image so vivid it came to eclipse all other memories. "Why would I want to return?" she asked while tears flowed down her cheeks.
The seductress laughed, a sound that could be felt in the pit of your stomach, spreading goosebumps all over your body. "Why indeed."
The darkness evaporated, leaving room for a full moon that created shadows where nothingness had existed. A silvery light highlighted the details of the night. Lying on her stomach Gabrielle took a deep breath, the air turning to fog in the cold. Slowly and painfully she sat up. Her body felt defeated, beaten. Everything hurt.
She looked around to find her camp in much the same way she had left it when she Morpheus had lured her into a deep sleep, but that was the only thing that was right. Other than the cold biting her exposed skin there was something else out of place. She was out of place, gone were the leafy threes of the forest she should have been in. Instead the ground was covered in dry grass, the horizon stretching out into seemingly infinity.
Around her the night celebrated the rebirth of a new world.