Subtext Reports
Those crazy posts about the episodes originally posted to the nutforum and saved here for posterity in their error riddled entirety (since they were written 'on the fly'). 
Homecoming Series
A series of five (not so short) stories about Xena and Gabrielle building their life together as a couple. 
Magic Series
Janice Covington and Melinda Pappas find love as they uncover more writings of Gabrielle about her warrior princess. 
Conversations by Campfire Series
Set during Season Four, parts of the episodes are worked into chats between Xena and Gab, particularly the subject of Najara and the bard. 
Changes of Heart Series
My take on what happened after Gabby got Chakram'ed upside the head by Xena in the Season Five ender. 
Bonding of Souls Series
This series picks up where 'Changes of Heart' ends with Xena and Gabby back together. Each 'episode' is an expansion of the episodes of Season Six.
Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace
How DID Ares get stuck in that tomb from the Xena Scrolls? This story answers that question. 
The Play
Xena and Gabrielle have to play the leads in a performance for a ruthless king to save Salmoneus' neck. Unexpected consequences and confessions are the result. 
The Queen, the Regent, the Warrior
Xena leaves Gabrielle in the care of the amazons, only to have Ephiny and Gabby fall in love. Xena does return and chaos and secret confessions follow.
The Contest
Ares and Aphrodite battle over Xena's spirit. 
Loss of Virginity
Romantic musings from one of our gals. 
Moment of Truth
Gabrielle does anything it takes to keep Xena out of a battle that's foretold to take the warrior princess' life. 
Thank the Gods For Henbane
At an Amazon festival Gabrielle has one too many henbane brownies, which results in a funny and sexy night for Xena. 
As It Should Be
The Queen gets taken by the Warrior Princess at the Amazon Village.
Family Ties
Xena takes Gabrielle back to home to spend a little time with the 'in-laws'. 
Dueling Cousins
Xena's look-alike cousin, Sappho, has always been competitive but now the Tenth Muse wants the ultimate prize - Gabrielle. 
The End
Alternate 'demise' of Xena and Gabrielle based on the Season Four crucifixion. 
Truth or Dare
Sexy romp between Callisto and Gabrielle set during 'A Necessary Evil' 
November 29th, 1942
A little romance fic between Janice and Mel. 
Inside Outside
Set after the events of 'A Family Affair', it's a scene told through the eyes of four people - Gabrielle's Father, Mother, Gabrielle herself and Xena.
Something To Talk About
Xena and Gabrielle's friends are all surprised that the pair aren't lovers so they consider why not.
Henbane, Horsenappings and Other Obstacles
A 'murphy's law' comedy where everything that can go wrong for Xena and Gabby but, of course, they still end up saving the day.
All That Matters
During Gabrielle's birthday party in' Takes One To Know One', Xena reflects on her love for the bard.  
Warlord
What if Gabrielle was actually the one behind all the folks who influenced Xena's journey toward good? 
Have Yourself a Merry Little Solstice
A little Winter Solstice tale that's available in general (not lovers) and alternative (lovers). .
Little Moments: A Day in the Desert
A tale told through the eyes of Janice and then Mel while on a dig.  
Candy or Chaos
'Classic Xena' general Halloween story with Xena and Gabby return for the Potiedaia Harvest Festival.
Conquering Heroine
Gabrielle is the Conqueror in this piece. How exactly? Give it a read and find out. 
Watching and Waiting
Set after FIN II, Xena watches from afar as Gabrielle moves on with her life. 
1971
Police Office Carol and Protestor Erin clash but find they're fighting for the same things. A short story based on my novel, 'One Belief Away'. 
March 26, 1943
Sequel to November 29, 1942. This time it's Janice's birthday and Mel has some sexy plans for her lover. 
The 10th Muse
In this traditional subtext story that's part French farce; part musical, Gabrielle has a Doppelganger, the Poetess Sappho. It's up to Gabby, Xena and Sappho's friend Aphrodite to guard Sappho during the 10th Muse Competition...Of course they must also try to repair Sappho's damaged relationship with her lover (a woman, and bandmate, who's the spitting image of Xena).

Title: Home At Last Part 1

Author: CN Winters

Fandom: Xena Fanfiction, Xena fanfic, Xena fan fiction, Xena and Gabrielle fanfiction, Xena fiction

Rating: R

Disclaimers: Xena, Gabby and the rest of the crew are not mine but this story, however, is. It contains adult themes and should be viewed only by adults. If you are not an adult (18+) that means you have to go away. If you live someplace where reading things of an adult nature would get you into trouble you should also go away and do some other reading... or just move to a different city, find a new job and start a new life<G>.

Author's Note: This is the final story in the ‘Homecoming’ series. I was going to finish the series with ‘No Place Like Home’ but reader demand was too great that I continue it. I received many letters in regard to the last one and a few people did some pretty harsh name calling - their personal attacks against me almost prompted me NOT to write this for spite (maybe that’s why it’s taken so long<G>). But in any case, majority ruled and I listened not to the cynics but the people who really cared about the relationship I created for Xena and Gabrielle. Unlike the producers of the series, when ‘I’ killed Gabby I had a plan and a reason for her demise. As well as a plausible way to bring her back<G>. I always loved "Clash of the Titans" with Harry Hamlin. So using poetic license I changed the tale a bit. Hey! If Xena can change history so can I!<BG>.

Synopsis: Xena struggles with motherhood alone after Gabrielle's death...But a deal from the Gods might be what they need to continue their lives together. 

Feedback: Drop me a line at cnwinters71@yahoo.com.

Home At Last Part 1 of 2

CHAPTER I

"I know you can hear me, Gabrielle."

The warrior whispered as she made sure all of Gabrielle’s buckles were in place of her queen’s armor. "I’m not sure how I’m going to do this alone."

Terris walked into the royal hut unnoticed to the grieving warrior. She listened to Xena’s almost silent confession.

Xena turned and took a startled look at Terris.

"I’m sorry," Terris said quickly. "I didn’t mean to scare you."

Xena took a breath and ran her fingers through her hair. She was exhausted and she looked it. 

"It’s alright Terris," she reassured the healer with a grim smile. "You meant no harm."

Terris paused, summing up the warrior, wishing there was something - ANYTHING - she could do to ease her suffering.

"The pyre is ready," she said softly. "I’ll call the amazons."

"Wait," Xena softly ordered. "Please send Lila here before they take her."

Terris looked puzzled, but she nodded just the same. Moments later, Lila arrived, creeping in quietly.

"You sent for me, Xena?" she asked.

Xena wasn’t sure how to begin. She had debated this issue back and forth for the last three days since Gabrielle’s death.

"Yes, Lila. I... I don’t want to do this," Xena sighed with frustration.

"Do what?" the bard's sister asked softly, slightly confused.

"Burn her," Xena began choking back tears. "I don’t want to ‘sacrifice her to the flames’."

"But it’s customary to all amazons; especially the queen," Lila pointed out.

"I know that, but I can’t do it. I want to take her to Amphipolis... to my brother."

"But Ephiny said –."

"I don’t give a damn what she said!" Xena replied harshly, a blaze of anger passing in her azure eyes. She paused a moment. Lila didn’t deserve her wrath. The bard's sister was only being the voice of reason. A voice that would be mimicked by the entire village.

"I can handle the amazons," Xena finally continued. "What I need from you is your blessing... if that’s alright."

Lila considered what Xena was asking. It was going to be a ‘hard sell’ to the amazons, but all Gabs ever wanted was Xena’s happiness. And if taking Gabrielle to Amphipolis made Xena happy... 

"You have my blessing," she said soundly, hugging her bond-sister. "I’ll deal with Ephiny." She grinned affectionately.

Xena pulled back and studied Lila. She looked nothing like Gabrielle, but in many ways they shared a certain renegade spirit.

"Thank you, Lila. I don’t know why, but I just can’t... "

Xena couldn’t continue. She couldn’t even say the words out loud again. But she finished it in her mind... Burn her. She’s too beautiful to reduce to ashes.

"I’ll take care of it," Lila whispered as she placed a kiss on Xena’s tear stained cheek. "Don’t worry."

Xena closed the lid on the coffin as Lila gave the guards orders to fetch Ephiny. When the regent - now queen - entered Lila went straight to the point.

"Xena is taking Gabrielle to Amphipolis," the princess informed her.

"The pyre is prepared. We –."

"Xena is taking Gabrielle to Amphipolis," Lila repeated more sternly.

Ephiny couldn’t believe what she was hearing. "Do you have any idea what you two are doing?! The council –."

"Leave them to me," Xena said softly, entering the conversation. "I’ll explain my reasoning to them, but either way, I’m taking her to Amphipolis. Don't try to stop me."

No one in the royal hut spoke - each woman contemplated what the other’s argument would be and were considering their own words. Lila’s voice finally broke the growing silence.

"I’ll see that the litter is prepared," she said making her way outside, finishing the debate.

Ephiny and Xena stood sizing each other up. Both warriors looked tense and on edge, waiting for one of them to make the first move. Ephiny spoke first.

"You realize," she began, "her spirit will never be released as long as she’s in that tomb."

"Says who?" Xena argued. "Artemis? The Goddess who tried to keep me from Gabrielle so many years ago? The goddess who couldn’t protect us from Zagreus attack? The goddess who –."

"I get the point, Xena," Ephiny said cutting her off. "You have contempt for our goddess. That’s fine, but many amazons here will fear her wrath if you take their queen without a proper burial."

Xena’s determined icy blue eyes meet Ephiny’s. 

"She’s coming with me. Send a runner to Amphipolis to warn my mother of our arrival."

Ephiny was still unsure until Xena uttered one word.

"Please."

The single, gently spoken word made Ephiny feel totally helpless to comply. She could hear Xena wasn’t up for the battle right now, yet she was willing to fight if need be to see her wishes carried out. Ephiny slowly walked over and pulled Xena into a tender embrace.

"Alright, my friend," she whispered, stroking the warrior's hair, letting her know that the warrior princess would win this fight. "Alright," she said more firmly pulling away just a bit to face the warrior.

Xena began to cry... for the tenth time that morning.


"Okay, sweet cheeks. Where’s your token?"

Gabrielle felt around her clothing, "I don’t have a token."

Charon looked her up and down. "Well, sorry toots. Gotta have a token if you wanna ride. Neeext!" he yelled.

A man pushed Gabrielle aside, taking a spot on the boat to travel the river Styx.

"Hey!" the bard exclaimed. "Watch it!"

"Look lady," Charon began. "I got paying customers here, so if ya don’t mind move along."

Gabrielle’s mind raced. She didn’t want to be stuck on the docks forever and she had to find someway across. Suddenly it clicked in her mind.

"Looks like a long journey," Gabrielle commented to the ferryman. "Probably gets pretty boring, huh?"

"Yeah. Some trips feel like forever," he replied casually until he realized he was STILL talking to the bard. "Hey! I thought I told you to get lost!"

"Now hold on a second. You need something to pass the time and I have just want you need."

Charon chuckled. "And what’s that, sweetie?" he said doubtingly.

"Stories." Gabrielle grinned. "I’m a bard. A pretty good one too. What do you say? You let me aboard and I’ll tell you some tales?"

"No thanks," he replied, taking another paying customer.

"Fine," Gabrielle replied casually walking away, "but it’s not everyone who has the tale of how Xena: Warrior Princess returned Hades helmet. In fact, no one but me."

Gabrielle paused a few beats with her back turned, her grin well hidden.

"No one knows that tale," Charon said with amazement. "How do you claim to know it?"

"Because I was there," Gabrielle said triumphantly, walking back toward him.

Charon took all of three seconds. "Alright. You win. Get on the boat and don’t leave out the good parts!"

Gabrielle stepped aboard with her smile of victory firmly in place.

CHAPTER II

Ephiny’s plan worked - Xena, Terris, ‘the girls’ and two royal guards had left under a shroud of secrecy. She said she would discuss things with the council first and then later the tribe.

The team traveled all day long. Night had just begun to fall in Amphipolis as they arrived. As Xena directed the guard on where to take Gabrielle’s body, Terris and the other guard offered to take the children while the warrior sought out her mother.

She didn’t have to look far. Cyrene and Taria were cleaning up for the night.

Upon looking up and seeing her daughter, Cyrene began to cry.

 "Oh little one," she sobbed as she walked over with open arms. Xena nearly collapsed in her mother embrace, shaking uncontrollably.

"She’s gone," Xena whispered between sobs.

"The runner told us everything Xena. I’m so sorry," she said squeezing her tighter. "Here," she said leading Xena to a chair. "Have a seat. I’ll get you some food and something warm to drink."

"I’m not hungry mother," Xena answered.

"You may not be, but I’m sure those babies are. You need to keep your strength up for them... Am I wrong?"

Xena gave a half grin of defeat. There was no sense in arguing with the old woman - she’d only lose. 

"Whatever you have will do," Xena said.

"No," Cyrene answered. "Whatever you want is what you’ll get," she said rising, tussling Xena’s hair. It made Xena chuckle. Here she was: a fearsome warrior; a grown woman, nearly a foot taller than her mother. And yet she was still coddled like a small child.

But she realized since having children herself that no matter how big her kids may become, no matter how powerful or how popular to the masses - they too would still be HER little ones. Hers and Gabrielle’s...  Gabrielle... The name spoken only in her mind opened the flood gates.

When Cyrene returned Xena told her all in her own sob-filled words, even her non-attachment to Karis.

As if cued Terris and the guards walked in with Cyrene’s grandchildren. Terris felt Xena wasn’t quite up for introductions so Terris did it for her. The older woman took the newborn Karis in her arms. Lexia, Xena’s oldest, was fast asleep so Taria pointed out the kitchen and showed the guard where to carry the baby to bed.

"She’s beautiful," Xena’s mother cooed. They were now alone in the dimly lit dinning room.

Xena’s face was grim in this light, although she grinned softly. "She is," Xena agreed. "She’s got Autolycus’ dark hair, but that nose and those eyes are Gabrielle all the way."

Cyrene cocked her head as if to say something, but changed her mind.

"Out with it mother," Xena ordered playfully.

"She really looks like Gabrielle," Cyrene acknowledged. "Has anyone told you that?" she added.

Xena reflected for a brief moment. No, she decided. They haven’t. Come to think of it no one has said much about Karis at all.

"There really hasn’t been time," Xena confessed, she started to tear up. "With everything that’s happened... "

Cyrene put her hand on Xena’s to let her know that she understood and Xena didn’t have to finish the thought.

"She really is quite beautiful," Cyrene whispered again. "I look at her and I can see Gabrielle," she said trying to sound cheery.

"Really?" Xena asked. "You see it too?"

"Oh absolutely!" Cyrene agreed. "Does she eat all the time too?" Cyrene teased.

The more Xena thought... 

"Yeah," she began with a sincere grin of joy. "She does. I’ve had to wean Lexia. Karis was taking all the milk for herself."

Cyrene smiled and stroked Karis’ face tenderly. "Gorgeous green eyes, bottomless pit of a stomach... I bet 15 years from now she’ll be beatin’ them off with a stick... literally!"

Xena giggled at the comment and the mischievous look in her mother's eye.

"Oh yes," Cyrene considered aloud in baby talk to Karis, "You’re your mother’s daughter alright." Cyrene looked up at her own child. "You know, little one," Cyrene told Xena, "instead of looking at this child as the one who took Gabrielle, maybe you could look at her as her legacy. I can already see so much of Gabrielle in her. Maybe instead of the negative, you can look on Karis and see all the things you loved about Gabrielle."

She could see Xena was strongly pondering the suggestion.

 "Thanks, Mom. No one has mentioned that to me until now."

Cyrene sighed. "Good, I’m glad," she teased. "It’s nice to know you can still only get motherly advice from your mother."

Karis began to bellow before Xena could reply. Cyrene tried to comfort the child since Karis began to scream from out of nowhere.

"Forget it mom," Xena said offering her arms to take the infant. "She’s hungry. And we’ll never hear the end of it until she eats."

Cyrene chuckled before she turned the baby over to Xena. "Like I said... Gabrielle."

As Xena settled into the chair to feed the baby, she smiled a genuine smile for the first time in days, perhaps even weeks. She looked down feeding her lover’s child - and for the first time, her child as well.

CHAPTER III

Xena awoke after breakfast feeling more rested than she did in weeks. As she wiped the sleep from her eyes, Terris entered with Lex in her arms.

"Good morning," the healer said putting Lex on the bed. "Your mother saved you a few eggs and some pork downstairs."

"Thanks Terris," Xena replied. The warrior watched her daughter struggle up the thick quilt, grunting all the way. Xena waited until she was half-way there before giving her daughter a hand.

"Good morning sweetie," Xena cooed to Lex bringing her nose to nose. Xena was met with a barrage of ‘mama’s’ strung together repeatedly.

"Who’s your mama, huh?!" Xena asked the baby. "Who’s your mama?"

With that, she laid the baby on her back and began to tickle her feet. Xena found herself giggling along with Lex and felt a pang of guilt strike her hard. She could play with Lex. Gabrielle never would.

Terris watched Xena’s happy expression fall in an instant and recognized it.

"It’s okay to play with your daughter and enjoy it Xena." Terris smiled warmly. "Gabrielle would have wanted it that way," she added sincerely.

Xena smiled again and they watched as Lex awkwardly tried to get herself upright again. She soon was on her knees again, crawling into Xena’s strong arms.

"Where’s Karis?" Xena uncharacteristically asked.

Terris was surprised. Usually Karis was brought to Xena. The warrior never asked for the child.

"She woke early. Your mother is downstairs with her now."

"What about her breakfast?" The breast-feeding warrior grinned.

"We gave her a bottle of goats milk and decided to let you sleep in." Terris waited nervously. She wasn’t sure if Xena would be upset since the action was done without approval. "It was Cyrene’s idea," the healer added, hoping to lessen any backlash.

"It’s alrrright, Terris," Xena drawled as she chuckled. She stood up and stretched, working the kinks out of her over-rested muscles. "Please tell mother I’ll be down after I get cleaned up."

"Certainly," Terris nodded as she reached for the baby.

"That’s okay," Xena said stopping her. "I’ll bring Lex downstairs with me."

Xena noticed Terris’ shock for the second time that morning and Xena knew she had to address it.

"Terris," Xena began, "Gabrielle is gone. And these kids need their mother. It’s time I got on and started ‘being’ their mother instead of just playing the role."

"Xena," Terris insisted. "You’ve done the best you could under these circumstances. No one blames you for filling only their basic needs."

"No one but me," Xena argued. "I miss her...  but I can’t stop living because she’s gone. Because these kids need their mama." She grinned.

Lex made her presence known again with her mama repetition all over again.

"Yeah!" Xena said in baby talk. "You tell her Lex!"

Terris chuckled and walked toward the door. "I’ll let your mom know you’re on your way down."

"Hey, Terris," Xena called making her stop. "Thanks," she said sincerely. "Thanks for everything. I don’t think I would have made it through this as well without you."

Terris nodded her ‘welcome’ and closed the door leaving mother and child alone.


"Are you Gabrielle? The amazon queen?"

"I am," the bard replied as she shuffled along with the crowd leaving Charon’s boat.

"I am Nices. Servant to Lord Hades. He requests I meet you here. Please follow me," she said softly.

Nices was a beautiful blonde woman, but small in stature - smaller than the bard in fact. She was dressed in white and glided gracefully as they moved along.

After a short walk down a corridor they reached a room filled with lush tropical surroundings.

"Is this Elysia?" the bard asked innocently.

Nices smiled. "No Gabrielle. Elysia is much more beautiful... Have a seat. Lord Hades will be with you shortly."

Gabrielle looked around. There was no furniture but there was a fallen tree by a beautiful stream. She took a seat and played with a fray in her skirt.

"Hello, Gabrielle." The God of the underworld smiled.

Gabrielle shot to her feet at the sound of his voice, looking quite startled.

"Sorry to frighten you... You have nothing to fear here, my dear. Please have a seat."

Gabrielle did as he instructed and he took a spot next to her.

"You’ve probably wondered why you’re here," he said conversationally.

"The thought did cross my mind," the bard admitted with a nervous smile.

"Relax," Hades soothed again. "You’ve done nothing wrong."

Gabrielle took a deep breath to calm her racing nerves. "Well, it’s not everyday that Hades singles you out on a boat load of people... At least, I don’t ‘think’ it’s normal... Is it?"

"That’s correct," he agreed with a nod. "But you have unfinished business."

Gabrielle thought hard and recalled her last earthly memories. Xena... the kids... Oh gods, the kids! ... And Xena, left to tend to them alone!

"She’s ... doing okay," Hades assured Gabrielle, sensing the bard's discomfort. "Would you like to see her?"

"Yes!" Gabrielle answered immediately.

Hades took her by the hand and led her to a reflection pool. Slowly an image formed in the pool, becoming clearer and clearer. It was Xena at her mother's inn. She was taking turns between combing Lex’s hair and her own. As she finished, she heard Xena ask if they should go find her sister, Karis.

Gabrielle smiled knowing that Xena was doing alright, but she couldn’t help feeling jealous at the same time.

"It’s okay," Hades said with a strong hand to her shoulder. "She misses you greatly, Gabrielle, but she wants to make you proud by raising happy, respectable daughters."

"I should be helping her," Gabrielle said feeling angry with Hades. Soon, she was poking him in the chest as she spoke. "I should be with her now and instead you took me and stole me away from her and our children!"

Hades looked down at his chest the bard was recently jabbing before he answered. 

"I have my reasons," he answered coolly, walking away.

"Oh yeah?! Well, clue me in ‘cause this I gotta hear!"

"Does the name Perdicus sound familiar?" he taunted. "The one that showed you the ‘true meaning of love’," he mocked. "You’ve forgotten him, haven’t you?"

Gabrielle turned away. "I’ve never forgotten Perdicus," she answered. "But... "

"You didn’t love him," Hades offered. "At least not like Xena anyway... It’s a shame too because you still wed him, although you knew your heart was for Xena."

Gabrielle closed her eyes. Hades wasn’t lying. And the truth hurt.

"What was I supposed to do?" Gabrielle whispered. "I never thought she loved me... at least not in the respect that I loved her."

"I can’t change the past. I can only help you deal with the future...  Like I said, you have unfinished business. Perdicus waits for you... Is he the one you want or is it Xena?"

Gabrielle hadn’t considered the ramifications her love with Xena would cause in the after life. And she remained silent. Hades voice pulled her from her thoughts.

"Who’s it going to be?... If you want Xena, I’ll send you back to her. If you chose Perdicus, you will stay. It’s your choice, Gabrielle?"

"I want Xena," Gabrielle answered without reservation.

"So be it." Hades smiled and added, "but there’s a catch... "

Gabrielle tensed. The gods could be petty and cruel. And she held her breath as he continued.

"... You must tell Perdicus who owns your heart. Once, and only if, you have HIS blessing may you return. Do you understand?"

Gabrielle sighed. This was not what she expected - not at all. But she knew what she had to do.

"Take me to him," she whispered.

Hades took a moment to admire the bard's courage and her undying love for Xena.

"As you wish." He smiled.

CHAPTER IV

Cyrene felt it was her grandmotherly right to spoil the girls rotten. She told Xena to go for a walk, get a hair cut or do whatever warriors do with their free time. The kids were in good hands so Xena decided to visit Argo.

"Hey girl," Xena called softly as she entered the barn.

Argo whinnied her response, happy to see her mistress.

"Probably been feeling neglected, huh?" Xena began. "I know you have, but it couldn’t be helped... " Xena started to think of all the events of the past moon, but she pushed her sorrow down and continued. "That will change now," she said getting the brush and going to work on Argo’s mane. As Xena worked on the mare's coat she could tell she was being watched.

"You can come out, Ares," she announced with a smile.

As she turned she watched a gray-haired man transform before her. "Ares didn’t lie. You really can sense us," he chuckled.

"Have we meet?" Xena asked, irritation heavy in her voice.

"Not formally... I am Zeus."

Xena looked him up and down, unimpressed, and turned back to Argo. With a little persistence, she knew that pesky knot would come out of the cream colored mane.

"I said ‘I am Zeus’," he repeated.

"Heard you the first time," Xena answered. "Am I supposed to be in awe?"

Zeus smiled at the defiant warrior and moved around the mare to be face-to-face with Xena. "I guess you really are disenchanted with us."

"See, there’s where you’re wrong." Xena grinned wickedly. "To be ‘dis’ enchanted would mean that - at some point - I WAS enchanted with you. And to be honest, I haven’t met many god types I’m impressed with... including you."

Zeus rested his hands on Argo’s back. "What if I could give you what you most desire?" he questioned, hoping to peak her interest.

"What I most desire is gone. Even you can’t get that back," Xena answered. "So kindly get your hands OFF my horse and LEAVE!" she added hotly.

He maybe the king of the gods, but in any case Zeus’ hands shot away. He looked deep into Xena’s eyes realizing he had to form a new tactical plan.

"Yes... I know... Gabrielle."

With the mention of her name, Xena looked up and studied the aging god.

"I can bring her back," he said meeting her gazing, knowing he had her interest now. "If you succeed in a task I need done."

"What?" the warrior asked unsure if she heard the king of the gods accurately.

Zeus sensed her confusion. "Yes. You heard me correctly... See to this task I need and Gabrielle will be yours forever."

"What’s the task?" Xena asked skeptically.

"My son needs your help –."

"Ares now has you trying to win me back?! Of all the low down –."

"Not Ares!... My mortal son, Perseus... He loves a princess, Andromeda, but Thetis has unjustly deemed her for sacrifice. The Kracken will be released in 20 days. I need you to meet Perseus at the Ferryman’s Docks to travel to the Isle of the Dead.

"What’s the catch?" Xena asked, knowing the gods all too well.

Zeus smiled. This mortal was quite smart, and determined and angry. No wonder Ares loved her so.

"You must bring back the head of Medusa to defeat the Kracken."

Xena chuckled in misery. "Oh boy," she muttered.

"It’s a lot to ask... I realize that... But think of the reward, Xena! You’ll have your Gabrielle back, the mother of your children... She will be able to watch them grow as you do. She’ll support them and raise them at your side... I’ll return to you when you have your answer. Think hard, Xena. I’ll only offer this once since time is a great factor."

With that, Zeus vanished. And after several minutes of brushing Argo absently, she made up her mind.

CHAPTER V

Xena found her mom and Terris in the living area, playing peek-a-boo with Lexia.

"I have to leave," Xena announced to the room.

Cyrene and Terris looked at each other, confused by the urgency in Xena’s voice.

"Leave?" Cyrene asked.

Xena explained her conversation with Zeus and as she finished Cyrene expelled a long sigh.

"What makes you think you can trust him?" Cyrene questioned. "And what ... what if you don’t return? What about the children?"

Xena paused. She’d considered these fact before even stepping foot in the house.

"Lila will raise the children," Xena replied convincingly.

"And if Zeus lies?" Cyrene pressed, still unsure of her daughter's determination.

"That’s a chance I have to take," Xena said softly.

Cyrene was uncertain of Zeus' deal. She already lost one daughter - Gabrielle. The older woman didn’t feel any comfort in the fact her blood daughter was heading into unspeakable danger. But she also knew Xena had her mind made up. And when her stubborn offspring was determined... 

"Go," Cyrene said, trying to muster up enough pride in her voice to inspire Xena. "Bring her back and have your family together once more."

Xena hugged Cyrene tight to her.

"I will," she whispered. "Thank you for understanding," she added with a kiss to her cheek.

"Go on," Cyrene shooed her. "Get packed."

Xena started on her way, but stopped in the doorway, looking back at the four of them now in front of the fireplace.

Guilt washed over her for leaving them and a familiarly haunting feeling. The sting grew the longer she watched and she recognized it - she felt it the night she gave Solon to the centaurs.

This is different, she told herself. You’re not leaving. You’re bringing their mother back.

Cyrene could see Xena’s ambivalence.

"It’s okay, little one," she said softly comforting the warrior. "Go and get your bard," she added with a grin.

With a quick nod, Xena turned and made her way up to her room.


"Gabrielle? Is it really you?"

Gabrielle smiled warmly, masking her discomfort well. Perdicus rushed over to greet her with open arms. He picked her up and twirled her around.

"Gods, how I’ve missed you," he sighed before pulling her into a deep kiss. "How long has it been?" he asked pulling away, looking deep into her eyes.

"What do you mean?" Gabrielle asked.

"How long?" he repeated before pausing. He realized she didn’t understand the concepts of Elysia yet. "Oh, time here has no meaning - a year could be as short as a day."

Gabrielle took a deep breath. "It’s been about... ten years."

"Ten years?" he replied. "That’s a long time." He smiled. "But you’re here now and that’s all that matters."

Oh boy, the bard considered, this is going to be harder than I expected.

"Well, a lot changes in a decade," Gabrielle informed him as diplomatically as possible.

Warning flags went up in Perdicus' eyes. 

"Like what?" he asked pulling back from her embrace.

Gabrielle didn’t answer. She didn’t know where to start. Perdicus, however, knew what the indecision was about. After a few moments of silence, he asked, "What’s his name?"

Gabrielle gave a nervous grin before answering.

"Xena."

Perdicus blinked, uncertain of what he was hearing. 

"The warrior princess?" he asked, astonished, turning away.

Gabrielle followed him. 

"I didn’t know what to make of it at first either," Gabrielle sympathized. "But as the years went by - with all we had been through - I realized she was my heart's desire. Perdicus, I loved you. I always did, and in many ways I still do, but that love... one that a ‘spouse’ has... well, that love is reserved for Xena."

Perdicus shifted his eyes from his feet to Gabrielle’s face. 

"Xena?" he asked again, still trying to take everything in.

Gabrielle only nodded this time and held her tongue, which wasn't an easy task for her. She waited for him to continue. The second she saw the look of hurt and anger in his eyes she wondered if she had made the right choice.

"Where is she now?" Perdicus asked. "Is she in Tartarus?" His voice held a burning acidity that Gabrielle didn’t challenge at the moment.

She held back defending her bondmate, thinking it better to just answer the question.

"No. She’s still alive," Gabrielle answered.

"What happened?" Perdicus taunted. "Did an old enemy of hers run you through with her sword too?"

"No," Gabrielle said staying remarkably neutral. "I died after complications in childbirth... We have two daughters, which she’s now raising alone."

Perdicus looked shocked. Xena was doing all the things with his Gabby that he dreamed of for so long. 

"I guess a lot has changed," he said with a touch of sorrow.

"If you give me time, I can explain everything," Gabrielle insisted.

Perdicus took Gabrielle’s hand in his. The more he thought about it the less selfish he became. What was she supposed to do? Wait to be with me again? he considered. It was obvious to him that, for whatever reason, Xena made her happy. Gabrielle left the village - left him - for Xena years before. Why would they NOT be together now.

"Go ahead Gabrielle," he said sympathetically. "Tell me everything. I’ve got an eternity."

CHAPTER VI

"All packed?" Cyrene asked from the doorway of Xena’s bedroom.

Xena nodded briefly as she fastened the latch on her saddlebag, not able to face her mother. She felt selfish and spent most of her packing time second guessing herself. Was she making the right decision by helping Zeus? Was it worth the risk to perhaps leave her daughters motherless? Cyrene’s voice interrupted Xena’s thoughts.

"I’ve got a basket for your journey," she said walking over to her daughter. "Dried meats, cheese... some bread... It’s not much, but –."

"Thank you, Mom," Xena whispered sincerely yet still not looking up.

Cyrene cocked her head and Xena could feel her mother's examination of her.

"Do you think I’m making the right choice?" Xena said almost too soft to hear. When Cyrene didn’t reply, it forced the warrior to meet her mother's eyes.

"Does my opinion matter?" Cyrene asked with a warmth in her voice.

"It does... It always has deep down... and now more than ever," Xena admitted freely.

Cyrene paused.

"Gabrielle was like a daughter to me - no, she was my daughter," Cyrene added in afterthought. "When we got word... I cried in Taria’s arms for hours... I still cry, but I try to be strong for you," Cyrene said choking on her words as she thought of the bard's death.

Xena stood motionless as she listened to her mother continue.

"But you have the chance to bring her back again. You have the chance to allow her to see the kids grow... I always regretted that about your father... "

As she paused, Xena watched her swallow hard, trying to continue.

"I don’t want to lose my other daughter." Cyrene sniffled. "But taking this chance... it’s for the greater good. For yours, for the girls; for all of us."

Xena let her mother’s words rattle in her head a few moments.

"So you think I’m making the right decision?" Xena asked tentatively.

Cyrene stood on her tip toes and brought Xena’s head down to her lips, lightly kissing her forehead.

"Yes, little one," she whispered into Xena’s over grown bangs. "I do."

Xena smiled despite the unshed tears in her eyes. She wrapped her arms tightly around the older woman burying her head in the dark hair that matched her own.

Cyrene stroked the warrior's back as they held each other, comforting each other for many reasons; not just the bard's death and Xena’s soon departure, but for the sins both mother and daughter inflicted upon each other over the years. They both said they forgave each other often, but for the first time both finally felt it.

"Come on," Cyrene said, taking one of the bags. "Say Goodbye to your daughters."

Once downstairs, Taria hugged Xena goodbye and took the bags to the door. The warrior walked over to Terris in the living room. Both children were sleeping soundly for their afternoon nap, despite the sounds of the lunch rush.

Terris rose and lightly stroked the warrior's arm as she left the room, letting Xena know she was giving her some privacy.

Xena put her pinky down to Karis’ fist and watched the infant grab it reflexively. She felt the small tug on her finger go all the way to her heart. Carefully, she raised the tiny hand and kissed the even tinier knuckles. Lightly, she stroked the dark hair that was beginning to thin. With a small chuckle, Xena softly disengaged herself from the vice grip her daughter had on her. She’ll be a strong one, Xena thought proudly.

Next, she looked over at Lexia. She looked so much bigger by comparison when, only months before, she was Karis’ size. Xena smiled as Lex opened her eyes, seeing her mother's appreciative gaze. She senses me, Xena thought before she whispered, "You’re so much like your Mama Gabby like that."

Lex popped her thumb from her mouth, but Xena replaced it. "Shhh, sleep sweetie," she whispered softly. "When I come back... I’ll bring your momma home again. I promise."

Lexia’s eyes grew heavy again and soon closed. Somewhat reluctantly, the warrior rose and walked out of the tavern. But not before turning back, getting one last look. When she did she saw Zeus give a brief nod before vanishing. The deal was set.

Terris and the amazon guards were talking at a table. Cyrene walked over and offered a wordless hug before going in to sit with the children.

Terris went to the door and handed Xena her bags.

"You TAKE CARE," the healer ordered sternly with a warm smile. "We’ll see to the children."

Xena forced the tears down. She didn’t think leaving would be this hard. She knew in an instant her days of travel were over. Her thoughts went out to Terris who had become not only a trusted ally, but a good friend.

"You’ve got plenty of goats milk for them, right?" Xena asked.

Terris smiled. "Yes, Xena. They’ll be alright."

"And powder? Sometimes Lexia gets that rash –."

"Xena!" Terris said with a chuckle. The warrior had to smile too. Could she help it that she was a protective mother? 

"Between the years of experience of me and your mother, we’ve got it covered, okay?"

Xena fell into her ‘stoic mode’ as Gabrielle had called it and she nodded.

She was almost out the door when she stopped and turned around.

"I gotta question," Xena said. Terris walked over with a huge smile.

"Yes, Xena," she said with mock irritation, teasing the warrior.

Xena just grinned and brushed it off.

"Karis has been losing her hair. Could she have some kind of...  condition or illness-."

"No." Terris smiled. "It’s quite natural for children to lose their ‘birth hair’ before the real stuff comes in. Some babies keep their ‘birth hair’, like Lexia, and some don’t, like Karis."

"So she’s not doomed to baldness?" the warrior chuckled as embarrassment flushed her cheeks.

"Far from it." Terris smiled. "I know your experience with children is ... minimal... at best. But trust me - everything will be fine."

Xena smiled, happy with the answer. "Thanks, Terris."

"Hey! That’s what I’m here for."

Neither woman said a word more. Terris made the first move and brought Xena into her arms. 

"Come home soon," she said softly. "Be safe."

"You too," Xena said returning the gesture. Without so much as a backward glance Xena finally left the inn.

CHAPTER VII

Xena camped for the night. That evening as she sharpened her sword she looked across the campfire. For a brief moment she expected to see the bard working on a scroll - her tongue slightly protruding to one side, looking at the parchment deep in thought.

But tonight she was alone. Without her friends, her family or her daughters... Xena felt truly alone for the first time since the bard's death... for the first time in years, in fact.

She thought maybe sleep would be the best solution, but as she lay still she found sleep wouldn’t come.

Her thoughts traveled to the bard and how Gabrielle felt tucked away safely at her shoulder. The way her hair smelled. The way her skin felt. Xena’s mind replayed their first couplings on Lesbos so many years before. And with the memories her hands began to wander over her body.

The way Gabrielle sounded in rapture. The way she kissed so deeply. The way she tasted. The way she was always wet; always ready for her warrior. As wet and ready as the warrior was now.

Xena closed her eyes. Her fingers and her palms - they were Gabrielle’s now in her mind. Touching her; loving her; soothing her.

Xena teased her sex and in her mind’s eye she saw the coy bard, smirking from between her legs offering release, but ‘all in good time’.

Xena smiled at the memory before ‘Gabrielle’ gave her the release she craved. The warrior's hands worked frantically now as she felt herself approach her climax.

"Gabrielle!!"

The name broke from Xena’s throat strangled, but surprisingly loud.

As the quakes began to die down the warrior opened her eyes to find herself still alone, truly alone.

Xena finally did fall asleep.

But not before wrapping her arms around herself, coiling into a ball with silent tears staining her cheeks.


"I could stay," Gabrielle said as she held Perdicus’ hands in hers. "But my heart belongs to Xena. You would be cheated and you deserve so much more."

Perdicus considered her words. He had the power to make her stay. Gabrielle told him of her conditions to return to mortality. But he didn’t want the power - he wanted her love. He wanted her to stay by choice and not force. He wanted her to be his and his alone. Finally after hours of conversation he realized what he had to do - not just for her, but for himself as well.

"I think you should go back and have a wonderful life with Xena," he said as heart-felt as possible.

"Honestly?" Gabrielle disbelieved what she heard at first, but she knew Perdicus well. He didn’t lie.

"Yes honestly," he said trying to smile. "This hurts like Tartarus, but I think you’re right... We should both move on."

As soon as he finished, Hades materialized behind the bard. 

"That’s what you need Gabrielle," Hades said proudly of the bard's ability.

"Could you give us a minute?" she asked.

Hades didn’t understand. She had what she wanted. What more could she want? Confusion played clearly on his face, but he gave them the space she asked for.

The two former lovers encompassed each other in their arms. "I love you, Perdicus. You were always my best friend in Poteidaia."

"I know Gabrielle," he whispered and pulled the bard away slightly. He raised her chin and placed a loving kiss on her lips. "Go find your happiness."

Gabrielle had the strangest feeling she was being watched. She turned to see a brunette looking at the two of them.

"Who’s that?" Gabrielle asked in a teasing voice.

Perdicus chuckled. "That’s Sara. We met a time ago."

"Oh really?" Gabrielle continued to tease.

Perdicus could feel his cheeks grow warm. "Hey! I waited for you," he chuckled again.

Gabrielle joined him this time before turning serious again. "Perdicus," she said nudging her head toward the woman. "Go find your happiness."

Perdicus considered it a moment and smiled. 

"I think I will," he said stroking Gabrielle’s cheek.

As he walked away, Hades returned to the bard's side. 

"Are you ready?" he asked.

"Yes," Gabrielle smiled as she watched the two figures in the distance. "Take me home."

"Not yet," Hades answered as they started to disappear together. "You have more work to be done."

The God and the bard had vanished, but those in the fields could hear a frustrated Gabrielle’s reply loud and clear.

"What?!"

Continued in Part II

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