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NOTE: The story takes place during the last few minutes of "Is
There A Doctor In The House?," as Gabrielle is trying to decide whether
to stay in the underworld or return to Earth.
Darkness and light.
She was torn. It felt warm and inviting ahead of her, cold and empty behind her, so she decided to walk into the light, and was immediately met with a sense of utter peace and tranquillity. For the briefest moment she closed her eyes, and when she opened them again, she found herself in a very different place. It was comfortably warm, yet a cool breeze played against her skin. There was a sea of green grasses as far as the eye could see, fields of flowers in every imaginable shape and color. A bright blue lake overlooked by a towering waterfall was nearby, the gently running water was like music to her ears. She also saw trees, bigger and more beautiful than anything back home, some loaded with a sweet red fruit she remembered eating as a child. She glanced up as a flock of birds passed overhead, and she couldn't help but smile. This just felt...right.
Come on Gabrielle, wake up. Come on, wake up. You're scaring me, wake up!
"Gabrielle!" Hearing her name, she turned around, and found a young man in a robe approaching her from out of the trees. "It's good to see you!"
She smiled, cordially, but it took her a moment more to recognize him. His curly blond hair was somewhat longer than she remembered. "Talus!" Gabrielle threw her arms around him, he happily returned the embrace. "I never thought I'd see you again. I mean, after you...died." It seemed odd to say that, considering the young man she had been so fond of was right her in front of her, as real as anyone else. "How are you?"
Talus shrugged. "Oh, I'm great. It feels wonderful just to be able to take in a deep breath without feeling so much pain. Until I came here I'd forgotten what it was like."
Gabrielle, breath! Come on, come on, breath! Breath!
She nodded. "I was so sad when you went away. I've thought about you..."
"I know. We can hear it whenever the living think about us." Talus took her hand. "It would have been so much harder to adjust down here, if I hadn't been able to hear your voice every once and a while. Thank you."
Gabrielle felt her cheeks flushing. "Y-You're welcome. I must admit, it's even more beautiful here than I ever imagined. And I have quite an imagination."
Maybe she just needs air. I need to get some air in her lungs.
Come on, breath!
"Oh, where are my manners?" Talus smiled. "I almost forgot, I'm supposed to be your guide. Let me show you around the Elysian Fields." They started to walk, but after only a moment, he felt her arm tense as she stopped. "Is something wrong?"
"No." Gabrielle looked over her shoulder. "I just feel...alone. I don't know quite how to explain it...like there's something I'm supposed to see. Or hear."
Don't you listen to him. Gabrielle I know you're in there, prove it! You can show 'em, wake up and breath.
"I guess if it's important, I'll remember sooner or later." She tightened her grip on his hand. "So, where to first?"
Talus nodded toward the trees they were approaching. "There are a few other people who want to see you. We can start with them..."
Gabrielle felt a rush of cool air, as they if they had passed through an open door, and suddenly, they found themselves in another part of the Fields. The first person she saw was an older woman, in a dark blue dress with a cloth over her silver-gray hair. She was sitting at a spinning wheel, and whistling a hauntingly familiar melody. "Mamma?" It was the only name she had ever used for her mother's mother, because she'd died when Gabrielle was young, and wasn't able to say the word grandmother. "Is it really you?"
"Yes, dearest one..." The nickname rang in her ears, and her heart swelled with love. "I've been waiting for you, child. There are so many things I want to know."
"And there are so many I want to tell you..." Out of the corner of her eye, Gabrielle saw another figure leaning against a tree, and she turned. "Uncle Morose!" He was a big man, it was one of the things she remembered most about her favorite uncle. It looked as if he had been working in some field, his hands and clothes were dirty, yet his face was sparkling clean. Between his teeth was the grass reed he always seemed to be chewing on, she could never figure out if he had a single one he kept in remarkably good condition, or whether he always found a new one. "It's great to see you! Are you here to greet me too?"
He nodded. "Of course. Didn't I promise I'd always be here for you, Gab?" Uncle Morose was the only person in the world she had ever let call her that. It always bothered her when anyone else said it, only slightly less than 'Gabby'. "You look beautiful, all grown up."
"Come child..." Mamma stood up from behind the spinning wheel. "There is much to see, but we have all of eternity to show it to you."
You never ran from anything in your whole life!
Come on, fight! Fight!
Mamma, Uncle Morose and Talus all stopped and looked at Gabrielle as she stopped again. "I don't know..." she said to their questioning faces. "I-I feel so strange. It's like...something is trying to pull me back. But, back where?"
Come on, Gabrielle! Come on! Come on!!
"It's so strange." She touched her forehead, which was throbbing. "Someone is calling me. I can almost hear it. But who? Everyone I know is right here."
Mamma and Uncle Morose glanced at eachother, sadness on their faces. Talus just lowered his head. "It looks like I was wrong, Gabrielle. Maybe it's not your time yet. I think maybe the world of the living is not quite done with you yet, you're still needed."
Gabrielle's eyes began to water. "N-No...what's back there for me?"
Don't leave me.
Don't you leave me!
Don't leave me!! Don't leave me!!!
"I think you already know the answer to that question." Startled by the strong, powerful voice behind her, she spun around. A strikingly handsome man was standing there; he had his hair slicked back, and wore glossy black body armor. He held a golden, and strangely familiar looking, helmet under his right arm. "It's not your time, Gabrielle."
"Who are you?" She was both awestruck and angry. "How do you know my name?"
"I know everyone who enters my realm."
Gabrielle's face paled. "Hades?" She could hardly believe she was in the presence of the God of the Underworld. "So, I-I'm really dead?" It sounded like an odd question now, she hadn't thought to question her condition before.
"Yes. But as I said, it's not your time." Hades looked around. "Few mortals get a glimpse of my realm, only to return to Earth. Most do not remember..." As he touched her shoulder, she felt a sudden coldness surrounding her entire body. "You are strong of will, some of it may remain. I have done what I can."
"NO!" Gabrielle shook her head. "I don't want to go back." She looked to her family, hoping to see one of them trying to help, but Gramma and Uncle Morose were gone. Only Talus remained, looking up at her with an infinite sadness in his eyes. "Talus?"
Talus smiled warmly as her body grew intangible. "Goodbye, Gabrielle. We will see one another again, someday..." She was all but gone now. "Tell Xena hello."
Gabrielle fought back to consciousness, grabbing at the hand striking her chest, trying to see the person leaning over her as she blinked through hot tears. Finally, her eyes focused, and she had to gasp. Xena? Crying? She couldn't believe it, the warrior princess was actually crying. For her. She couldn't remember ever feeling so happy and sad and confused all at once, as Xena took Gabrielle in her arms and kissed her on the forehead.
"Now I know what Hades meant..." she said to herself. "What I have to come back to. Or more precisely, who..." Gabrielle wasn't sure why, but she got the feeling that Xena had taken part in her returning to Earth, an ache in her chest told her as much. When she got better, she would tell Xena what she'd seen on the Other Side. Though, not that she thought about it, she really couldn't recall all that much. She blinked.
What a wonderful dream.
Gabrielle closed her eyes, and allowed herself to relax. She felt so safe and warm, nestled in the arms of her best friend.