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Xena: Warrior Princess, Gabrielle, Argo and all other characters who have appeared in the syndicated series Xena: Warrior Princess, together with the names, titles and backstory are the sole copyright property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement was intended in the writing of this fan fiction. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author. This story cannot be sold or used for profit in any way. Copies of this story may be made for private use only and must include all disclaimers and copyright notices.
NOTE: All works remain the © copyright of the original author. These may not be republished without the author's consent.
STORY INFO: This short story takes place after the first two episodes of the new X:WP season. I confess that I felt the new season was going to be a wash, but I was proven wrong. The characters have grown beyond my imagining, and I was drawn to their anguish and confusion. I needed to write a story that went deeper into what happened after they were resurrected. I hope you like it.
By Lynne Knowlton
"Gabrielle. The love we have, it…it's stronger than Heaven or Hell! It transcends Good or Evil! It's an end in itself! Our souls are destined to be together! Gabrielle…you can't let me walk through Hell alone!"
I can hear those words even now. They are burned deep into my soul. I'll carry them with me forever, along with the shame I feel when her demon voice echoes in my mind. I look at her now, and wonder at how I could have given up on her so easily. But I did, and I hate myself for it.
It sounded so weak then, and it still does. Year after year I was by her side, insisting that where she would go, I would go. And when it mattered, I left her alone to face the thing she feared the most.
She came to me, you know…when I was taken to Hell by Callisto. She never, ever would have let me walk alone through that kind of eternity. It was beyond her imagining. Michael told me what she said to him. The thing that moved him so…
"Gabrielle and I have already been through hell together. I didn't come all this way just to lose her now…Michael, Gabrielle's soul and mine are destined to be together. I can't let her walk through Hell alone!"
My God she was so beautiful, descending from Heaven with that brilliance surrounding her. It was blinding. She was radiant; and I was dark and ugly. When she looked at me then, she remembered me. She saw through that slavering, horrid thing covered in filth…and she saw…me! It didn't matter what I was. What mattered was that she loved me, and that she would find a way to bring me back to the light.
When Michael told me what she had done for Callisto, I was so full of righteous rage. God help me, but part of me felt that she deserved Hell. She told me that she would never leave me, even in death, but she did…and I was angry! I know it's the rage that caused my voice and my heart to fail me. The words choked me like dust from a long dead fire. It makes me want to retch every time I remember it.
"You understand there's no saving Xena? The only way to stop her now is to cut her up and let her spend the rest of eternity in pieces."
I accepted the archangel's words without much consideration. It was the only way. Wasn't it?
I wonder, to this day, what would have happened if I had even the smallest sliver of faith in her. I've racked my brain since then, trying to figure out why? WHY? Why did I give up on her? Why did I accept his judgement for her? She wasn't there to defend herself and I was too much of a coward to do it for her.
I remember when the plan formed in my mind. I was going to lead Xena away from the main body of demons, and then we were going to hack her to pieces…the archangels and I. I knew I could do it. I had killed Romans to protect her. I used those dead men to build a wall around me, a wall that would allow me to do what was necessary. I could destroy her to protect eternity. I was certain of it. I was, after all, a newly born archangel; the timeless instrument of justice.
I stood waiting for her, and I wasn't disappointed. I knew she would come for me. But when I faced her, what I saw horrified me. I tried to see her underneath the demon, but I couldn't. God forgive me, but I just couldn't! And when she asked me…begged me…to join her in Hell, my soul shriveled.
I was sorry for so many things then. I was sorry that she had sacrificed herself for one of the damned. I was sorry that we weren't going to be together after all we'd been through. I was sorry that I was going to let her spend eternity in Hell…alone. I was sorry that I didn't have the courage to give her my light, as she had given hers to Callisto. And I was sorry that I was such a horrible excuse for a soul.
I took advantage of the battle raging around us to escape into the sky. We swirled up through the clouds, higher and higher. Hot tears stung my eyes as I led her away. I was about to perpetrate the ultimate betrayal…a betrayal that would last throughout eternity. How could I ever be forgiven for such a thing?
"Gabrieeeeeelle!!!! I can smell you!"
And so she could. She found me quickly and then we began our macabre dance. Down and down and down…and then the pain. As I lay there, staring up at her, I felt the strangest sense of relief wash over me. I knew what she was going to do, and I made no move to stop it. She picked me up, carried me to the edge of the abyss, and leapt into it. If I'd had the strength to laugh, I would have. It was the perfect punishment for the perfect betrayal.
It's been some days now, since Eli brought us back from the brink of Hell. I don't sleep much. I'm afraid that if I do, I'll fall back into that nightmare. Funny isn't it? That Heaven, for me, was a nightmare?
She catches me staring at her sometimes, but she doesn't say anything. She's waiting for me to talk, but I don't think I can. Not about this. Not ever.
A quarter moon had passed before she finally approached me. She gently took my face in her hands and forced me to look at her. God, she was so beautiful in the firelight.
"Gabrielle. I know…and there's nothing to forgive."
"Alright. If it'll help you…you're forgiven."
Her eyes were so full of light that I couldn't bear to look. "I don't deserve it."
She wrapped her strong arms around me and pulled me in close. "You do. Everyone deserves forgiveness."
"Not for what I did."
"Gabrielle." She held me at arms-length. "I. Forgive. You. And…I love you. It's unconditional and it's forever."
I began to cry…deep, gut-wrenching sobs that I thought would never end. She held me until the storm was over.
"Now…" She kissed the tears from my face. "Now, you just need to forgive yourself."
I smiled into those exquisite, blue eyes radiating love and kindness. "I'll try. But for now, do you think you have enough forgiveness for both of us?"
"Always, my love. Always."
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