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Obligatory Disclaimer: Nope, characters are not mine...wish they were <<<heavy sigh>>>...but they belong to MCA/Universal/Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement is intended by the author. Please...this story may not be sold/posted/archived or printed without the permission of the author (ya want it, ya got it...just ask first, okay?)
Secondary Disclaimer: Did ya ever get a song stuck in your head? Don't ya hate when that happens? Blame it on the MTV influence...I see everything as a music video. <<<grin>>>
This is it (the song is: In My Life)...combined with my reaction to the episodes Sacrifice1 and 2. Song lyrics by J. Lennon and P. McCartney, quotes are from the many excellent writers at X:WP.
IN MY LIFE
Xena stood barely conscious of any rational thoughts and stared down into the lava filled chasm. The din of the temple was deafening as Dahak's disciples sought to flee from the retribution of the people they had rounded up as sacrifices. The fighting raged on but the Warrior heard nothing but her own heavy breathing and her heart as it shattered into a million pieces. Callisto's cackling and tormenting laughter broke Xena out of her entrancement. The blond Goddess' absolute glee, at Gabrielle's ultimate sacrifice was too much for Xena to bear. Somewhere deep inside the recesses of her mind, Xena snapped. Reflexively, she spun around and in one movement struck out with the dagger.
"No more living for you!"
Xena spat the words out deliberately as she looked through her own hooded eyes deeply into the face of her worst enemy. Callisto's face first showed surprise as she felt the knife pierce her bare abdomen, then her features took on a calm relieved look. Her brown eyes showed gratitude and then...almost...love, as she accepted the ultimate gift of oblivion, what she had craved above all else. Callisto, as her strength began to fail, leaned forward and lovingly caressed Xena's face. Then she wordlessly, bonelessly slid to her knees as the hind's blood took effect. Xena stared down at the warrior/goddess but in her mind she did not see the lifeless body...her mind kept replaying Gabrielle's plunge into the pit. In shock, her fingers slowly opened their grip and the god-killing dagger dropped to the stone floor.
Xena blinked slowly and took a deep breath then looked over her shoulder to see Ares depart in a puff of blue smoke...apparently to go somewhere to lick his wounds. He had betrayed more than she, he had betrayed his fellow Gods...they could and would mete out much worse punishment than she ever could.
Xena turned back to the burning pit, resting her hands on the edge, she again stared down into the smoky abyss. Her eyes were dry and stinging from the vile, noxious fumes but she remained where she stood...staring, unfocused...remembering... questioning...mourning.
Again and again, in her mind, she watched as the nightmare unfolded and her whole world fell apart. She heard Gabrielle cryout "Hope" as she leapt up, clutched her daughter to her in a mocking embrace and then deliberately threw them both over into the molten pit. For an instant, their eyes met as Gabrielle was precariously balanced on the edge. Gabrielle never said a word but her eyes begged for forgiveness. They pleaded with Xena to accept this final, desperate act of love as some payment for all the betrayals and pain she put her, best friend, through these last several moons.
Xena brought her hands up to her ears in an effort to block out the sound as her mind echoed, again and again, Gabrielle's final heart wrenching scream of "Xena" as she descended into the molten pool...to disappear forever.
"Gabrielle, how could you?"
"How could you...sacrifice yourself?"
"It wasn't supposed to be like this..."
"It was supposed to be me..."
"You had your whole life ahead of you..."
Xena turned and leaned back along the rock wall and slid to the ground. She buried her face in her hands and began to weep. Her body quaked, wracked with tremendous sobs as all the emotions she had ever locked up behind the Warrior persona burst forth in a torrential flood. She finally had revenge upon the two responsible for her son's, Solon's, death but at what cost. She lost the one person she most wanted to save in this world, the one person she treasured above all others. Her thoughts drifted as her life rapidly flashed before her eyes in a montage of emotions and memories.
There are places I remember,
all my life, though some have changed.
Some forever, not for better
and some have gone and some remain.
All these places have their moments
with lovers and friends I still can recall.
Some are dead and some are living.
In my life, I love them all.
"Gabrielle, I want you to understand something. We both have families we were born into but sometimes families change and we have to build our own. For me, our friendship binds us closer than blood ever could."
But of all these friends and lovers,
there is no one compares with you.
"Even if I had my army around me, I'd still notice you were missing. Thanks for being my family."
"When I look at you I see the purest, the kindest person I have ever known. Someone who is full of wonder and stories and would never give up on anything...or anyone."
"Gabrielle you are part of my heart."
"Gabrielle, you are a gift to me."
"You are the most dear thing to me in all the world."
And these memories lose their meaning
when I think of love as something new.
"Gabrielle, You've been so good for me. I don't think I would ever have let myself feel the way I feel now, if it wasn't for you teaching me how to love."
"You're my source, Gabrielle. When I reach down and do more than I'm capable of, it's because of you...don't you know that by now?
Though I know I'll never, ever lose affection
for people and things that went before.
I know I'll often stop and think about them.
In my life, I loved you more.
"Even in death, I'll never leave you, Gabrielle."
I love you more
I love you more.
"I love you, Gabrielle."
Xena looked over and saw Joxer silently weeping as he continued to lean over the edge of the pit. Xena stood up. The Warrior's jaw clenched as she fought for emotional control, forcing her hurt and anger down into the deepest parts of her being, slamming the door and locking them away. Joxer heard Xena's movement and looked over into the frozen blue eyes.
"Let's go, Joxer," Xena commanded.
"Go, what do you mean...go?" Joxer said as he sniffled and wiped his tears with the back of his hand.
"We have to find Gabby...save her...c'mon Xena...we can't just...go," Joxer pleaded.
"There isn't anything we can do," Xena said with tired resignation.
"No...No, Xena," Joxer said and then gulped hard.
He took an unsteady breath and calling forth all the courage he could muster....
"I'm not leaving...I'm not afraid of ...Dahak...," he said, his voice rising an octive as he uttered the demon's name and he quickly spun, looking all around.
"How can you just leave...give up...without even trying?..."
"She is your best friend...I thought you lov..."
He felt it hit before he saw it coming, Xena backhanded him with enough force to send him sprawling 10 feet away. Joxer raised himself up on his right hand and gently, with the other hand, wiped the blood from the corner of his mouth.
Never breaking his stare with the Warrior he softly offered, "she loves you."
"I know..." Xena replied, her head dropped to her chest and she swallowed hard, trying desperately to bite back another flood of tears.
She walked over and presented her hand down to Joxer. The wannabe warrior took the offered hand and was pulled up.
"I'm sorry, Joxer...so sorry..."
"I know you loved her too, " Xena said, as her eyes filled with tears again.
Joxer moved over closer to the Warrior Princess. He had never seen her so vulnerable. He thought about wrapping her in his arms for a moment of comfort and then, somehow, found the courage to do it. Xena returned the hug and held on tight...lost in the shared emotions.
"I don't know what to do..." she admitted, in a soft whisper, between sobs.
They stood together for a few moments and then Xena broke the embrace. The temple was now rocking with small explosions and the walls were beginning to collapse. The building was selfdestructing around them. They had to leave immediately or be caught in the rubble. Forcefully, she wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. The Warrior's persona and walls back up. She then looked one final time around the deserted temple. Trying to forever imprint the scene upon her heart's memory. Her eyes spied Gabrielle's amazon staff.
As she bent down to pick it up, her eyes caught on another object lying close by...the hind's blood dagger.
She stepped to it and quickly picked it up. Xena closed her eyes as her hand caressed the hilt. She felt her despair slowly ebbing away.
"Let's go Joxer...I have an idea."
As Xena turned toward Joxer, he looked into her eyes and saw them not shining with tears but glimmering with hope.
"Xena?" he called out with question.
"Idea?" he added, under his breath.
Joxer's eyes grew wider at the prospect of a plan, not just any plan...a Xena plan.
"Where are we going?" Joxer asked as he followed her out of the temple, all the while resettling his armor and adjusting his helmet.
"To Hades, Joxer, to Hades...," the Warrior replied and she stepped from the darkness into the bright sunshine. Xena stopped and shut her eyes for an instant, relishing the warmth of the sun upon her face.
"Oh..." Joxer said quickly as he unwittingly walked past her, then...
"What?" Joxer asked, in absolute surprise, as he spun around to look at the Warrior, incredulously.
"We need to see a God about a bard, Joxer."
"I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse..."
Xena tossed the dagger up in the air and smiled as she watched it return to her hand, caught easily by the hilt.
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