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It's midday. Xena and Gabrielle are walking along the bank of a sparkling blue lake. Xena is smiling and humming a soft tune.
"You must have gotten up on the right side of the blanket this morning," comments Gabrielle. "Why so cheerful?"
Xena chuckles softly and glances at Gabrielle with a gleam in her eyes. "Can't I have a good day?"
"Well...sure. But you have to admit Xena that your good days are few and far between. I'm just not use to seeing you...so relaxed."
Xena casually crosses behind Gabrielle, placing her next to the lake. "Gabrielle, do you remember what I told you after you struck me with that pitchfork?"
Gabrielle laughs, "Do I ever! You said that you owed me one. How could I forget a statement like that?"
Xena turns toward Gabrielle, her eyes wide and only inches from Gabrielle's face. "Pay backs!" laughs Xena as she grabs her young friend and throws her into the lake.
"Heyyyyyy!" shouts an unsuspecting Gabrielle right before she hits the water, disappearing from sight.
Moments later Gabrielle surfaces splashing and sputtering, madder than Hades himself. "XENA! This means war!" bellows Gabrielle as she sloshes out of the water.
Xena can't help but laugh at the sight Gabrielle makes with her hair matted and stuck to her face. Xena holds her side, continuing to laugh, until she sees Gabrielle charging her. "Uh oh."
"AAAAAGH!" yells Gabrielle as she runs at Xena, who swiftly drops down catches Gabrielle with a foot in the stomach and gently vaults her overhead. Gabrielle lands on the ground behind Xena and quickly jumps to her feet. Xena does the same.
"Gabrielle," chuckles Xena still in a playful mood, "you had it coming."
Gabrielle charges again, launching herself into Xena's midsection causing them both to fall. Xena, who is now on her back, is dodging and blocking Gabrielle's flying fists as best she can. She is still laughing when suddenly one of Gabrielle's swings makes contact with the right side of her face. The blow isn't as hard as some she's experienced but it hurt the same. Sitting up, Xena grabs Gabrielle's hands pinning them in front of her. Eyes hard and voice low Xena says, "You're starting to tread on dangerous ground Gabrielle."
Gabrielle, on her knees beside Xena, replies, "Maybe it's time I did."
The mood suddenly changes from being playful to being serious.
"What are you talking about?" asks Xena as she looks directly into Gabrielle's piercing stare. "When did her eyes become so cold?" wonders Xena to herself.
"You've defeated everyone you've ever fought but can you defeat me?" hisses Gabrielle in a dangerous challenge.
"You want me to fight you?" questions Xena in total shock.
The reply she receives is a quick twist of Gabrielle's wrists followed by a knife at her throat. "Now what are you going to do Warrior Princess?" inquires Gabrielle as she grabs Xena's hair, jerking her head back.
"How did she do that and where did she get the knife?" thinks Xena, again to herself, without moving a muscle.
"This is really weird Gabrielle," informs Xena as the knife blade touches her skin. "What's gotten into you? I was just playing."
Gabrielle leans close to Xena and whispers in her ear, "Well I'm through playing. As a matter of fact, I'm getting really tired of you so GOOD-BYE XENA WARRIOR PRINCESS!"
Gabrielle tenses her arm to slash Xena's throat but Xena punches her in the stomach. The wind is knocked out of Gabrielle and the distraction gives Xena the time she needs to grab the knife out of her attacker's hand. Rolling to her feet, Xena looks at Gabrielle who is doubled over at her feet.
"Ok, you want to fight me? Lesson number one, don't leave yourself open," instructs Xena as she tosses the knife away. "Lesson number two, be prepared to get hurt because I give as good as I get," continues the warrior princes, as she kicks Gabrielle backwards with a booted foot. "And lesson number three, and the most important, DON'T make me mad by hurting my FRIENDS, because if you do I'll kill you and send you to Hades so fast you won't have time to ride the boat across the Styx!"
Xena is now standing over a still defiant Gabrielle. Reaching down she grabs her by the front of the shirt, jerking her up to face level. "Now that you know the rules," Xena's voice turns demanding, "Where is the real Gabrielle?!?"
"I'm RIGHT HERE!" replies Gabrielle in an unyielding tone.
Xena shakes Gabrielle hard, "YOU'RE LYING!" shouts Xena as she leans closer. "Who are you and what have you done with my friend?!"
Gabrielle answers by boxing Xena's ears. Xena releases her grip and grabs her head, breaking her first rule of engagement. Gabrielle takes full advantage of the situation by throwing a front kick at Xena's face. The blow catches Xena under the chin, sending her backwards down an embankment toward the waters' edge. She almost goes into the lake but a wet brown boot stops her. Moving her gaze up the body of the person standing over her, Xena is rendered speechless as she looks into the face of yet another soaked Gabrielle.
Gabrielle #2 smiles down at Xena and then looks up to Gabrielle #1 standing on the bank above. "I don't THINK SO," states Gabrielle #2 as she bends down to help a very confused Xena to her feet. Turning to Xena Gabrielle #2 says, "Xena it's me, the real me...well actually part of the real me."
Xena shakes her head, "What?"
"Look, I can't explain now," says Gabrielle #2 as she takes Xena's hand a pulls her away from the water's edge. "But, stay away from the lake."
Xena turns to look at the lake and then turns back around to see Gabrielle #2 climbing the embankment toward Gabrielle #1. Xena follows unsure of what to do. Topping the embankment, Xena notices that Gabrielle #2 is now holding the staff that Gabrielle #1 had dropped before she had been thrown into the lake. Xena closes her eyes, wishing for a bad case of double vision, but opens them again to see the two Gabrielles faced off at each other. And, to make matters worse, both now have identical staffs. "Which one is which?" asks Xena to herself as the Gabrielles start to fight.
Staffs are welded, kicks are thrown, punches are given and received but neither Gabrielle is able to get an advantage. "Come on you can do better then that," taunts one Gabrielle to the other. I'll make you regret those words," answers the other Gabrielle. "You can try but you are nothing more than a pathetic excuse for an Amazon."
Xena watches the struggle from a safe distance feeling completely helpless, as each attack is matched blow for blow, the fighting becoming more intense. Suddenly her eyes open wide with understanding as she looks back at the lake. "That's why the second Gabrielle didn't want me near the water. Somehow it has the power to divide the soul."
Xena shakes her head and grits her teeth. Then she looks up toward the sky and yells, "I SMELL A FISH AND IT ISN'T A TROUT!" Then she starts striding toward the two girls fighting in front of her. "Of all the low down under handed....you just don't give up do you?" mumbles Xena as she grabs one of the Gabrielles from behind and tosses her to the side. Next she knocks the other Gabrielle down with a roundhouse kick. "Sorry Gabrielle," she shouts as she backhands the Gabrielle coming up behind her. "I know this hurts, but I'm stepping in."
Xena continues to fight the two girls, holding back her full strength, until both lay exhausted on the ground. Picking them both up by the back of the shirt, she half drags them to a small drop off above the lake. "It's not over yet," she says as she throws them both off the small plateau.
"Two women enter one woman leaves...I hope," speaks Xena softly to herself as she watches the lake with a pounding heart.
Finally, bubbles appear on the water and Gabrielle's head breaks through. She is gasping, coughing, and splashing around. Xena remains where she is, heeding the earlier warning.
"Gabrielle?" calls Xena in a soft voice.
Gabrielle glances up at her. "THAT'S TWICE you've thrown me in the lake! I only hit you with the pitchfork ONCE, not TWICE! And speaking of hitting....Ohhhh I'm going to owe you BIG time."
A small smile touches Xena's lips as she watches Gabrielle stumble out of the water, uncertainty still reflected in her eyes.
Gabrielle sloshes over to stand in front of a rigid Xena. Reading her body language with a single glance Gabrielle asks, "What?"
Xena doesn't move.
Gabrielle senses Xena's caution. "Ah...you aren't sure if I'm really me...or which me I really am."
Xena's eyes answer for her.
Gabrielle nods and then proceeds to shake her head like a wet dog, sending water spraying all over Xena.
"Hey!" shouts Xena as the shower cascades over her.
Gabrielle laughs and tweaks Xena's wet nose. "Pay backs," she giggles, "but it's just the beginning."
The warm glow returns to Xena's eyes.
"Gabrielle you had me worried," replies Xena as she places a gentle but protective hand on her friends shoulder.
"I had YOU worried? I was worried! It was so strange being divided like that, having to literally fight myself..." Gabrielle's voice fades as she looks up into Xena's face, suddenly realizing what her friend battles every day inside herself.
"I never really understood..." whispers Gabrielle as the truth of the pain her friend hides brings tears to her eyes. Reaching out ever so slowly, Gabrielle touches Xena's neck where the knife had been. A shudder passes through her, unable to accept the idea that any part of her would ever want to harm this woman.
Fighting down her own emotions, Xena gently touches Gabrielle's hand. "Hey," whispers Xena, "I know that you wouldn't do anything to hurt me just like I wouldn't do anything to intentionally hurt you."
Xena now grabs Gabrielle firmly by the shoulders. "And, I'm not alone in my fight just like you weren't alone in yours."
"What do you mean?" asks Gabrielle as a single tear rolls down her cheek.
Xena gently brushes it away, "As long as we are together and there for each other, good will always prevail."
Gabrielle smiles and gives Xena a hug. Looking back at the lake she asks, "Xena, who would use something so beautiful for something so...sinister?" Gabrielle glances at Xena and both answer in unison, "Ares!"
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