As stated in the sub-title of this piece, this is my answer to the finale. The muses sent it my way and wouldn't let me alone till it was done. It's a little angst, a little venting, a little wishfull thinking and a lot fantasy. There's no major spoilers but there are references to events depicted in AFIN.

This story came to me as I was crying my eyes out over the spoilers I'd read for AFIN 1 & 2. It became kind of therapeutic and helped ease some of the pain I was feeling even though I haven't yet seen the finale (that comes tomorrow night). I hope you like it. If you'd like to contact me, my e-mail addy is listed at the end of this little ditty.

Disclaimers - the usual regarding RenPics and Studios USA, Xena, Gabrielle, etc. No copyright infringement intended. Missy was borrowed out of my great admiration and respect for her and what she has done this past week to try and soothe our hurt and pain. Dori just kinda popped in there and again, no copyright infringement was intended.

The Truth Shall Set Us Free
(My answer to the XWP finale)


(alias Mikki Hibbens)

It was late evening on a warm summer's night in a quiet town situated near the ocean on the outskirts of L.A. In a cozy little beach front cottage, a couple sat cuddled up together on their couch watching the final credits of what had become one of the most controversial shows to ever hit the airwaves.

"Shh," the taller one whispered as she held her sobbing companion in her arms. "It's gonna be okay. I've got you."

"Oh, gods," the smaller woman said as she tried to control her weeping. "How could they do that? How could they end it like that?" Tear filled green eyes looked pleadingly up into her partner's eyes of cobalt blue.

"I don't know, Gabrielle," The woman formerly known as Annie (or Harry depending on which way you looked at things) pulled her love closer into her arms and rested her chin on the small woman's red-haired head. "Maybe they just wanted a dramatic ending. Does it really matter that much as long as we know the truth?"

"That's just it, Xena," Gabrielle/Mattie said as she sat up and wiped the tears from her eyes. "We do know the truth. And so do they. They've got my scrolls, for Zeus's sake."

"That really bothered you, didn't it?" Xena nodded towards the TV which was now showing the local news.

"Xena, I think that was the hardest, most dangerous mission we ever faced. I never knew, from one minute to the next if we were gonna survive. Then, after you kicked that son of a Bachae's butt from here to eternity and we were on our way home, I was so worried for you. You were so sick from your wounds and the infection that set in, I was terrified I was gonna loose you."

"But you didn't. Everything worked out all right." Xena tightened her hold on her partner and wiped away the tears that had begun to fall again from the green eyes she loved so much.

"Yes it did," Gabrielle replied. "With a little help from our friends. Not to mention that little 'zap' 'Dite gave you when we got back to Greece."

"But it was a slow recovery for both of us." Gabrielle snuggled closer into Xena's embrace as she continued. "It was a long time before I was able to come to grips with everything that happened in that place. You know, it was almost two years before I could bring myself to write any of it down and over a year before I was able to finish that damn scroll. There was three years of blood, sweat and tears in that scroll and what did they do? They bastardized it!"

"Shh, Gabrielle. You need to calm down a little." Surprised by the younger woman's vehement reaction, Xena began rubbing her partner's back in a soothing, circular pattern. "It's just a TV show, after all. No matter how much they screw around with the truth, it doesn't change the fact that we both left Japan alive and, if not exactly well, at least in one piece," the former warrior continued hoping to lessen the anguish she knew her lover felt over the admittedly gruesome ending the show's producer's had, for some unknown reason, decided upon.

"No, Xena. You're wrong." Gabrielle had been keeping one eye on the newscast hoping to get some word on the public's reaction to the finale. Now, as the scene shifted to a local nightspot where a correspondent was interviewing fans who had just watched the show, she turned the volume up to listen to the comments. "Listen to them, Xena. Listen to them and you'll see it wasn't 'just a TV show."

The two woman sat in silence as the newscast shifted back and forth between the anchors and the field reporters stationed at several different fan gatherings across the city. The reaction was the same across the board - grief, first and foremost, hurt, anger, betrayal. Many of the fans were so overcome all they could do was cry on each others' shoulders, unable to respond to any questions. The reporters and anchors were left stunned by the bewildered devastation.

When the cameras cut back to the studio for the last time, it was to the shocked faces of the two anchors. They both sat there, speechless for a moment before the lead anchor was able to pull it together enough to try and close out the segment.

"Wow!. I don't believe I've ever seen anything quite like that. How about you, Mary?"

"I haven't either, Stan. You know, I've interviewed Lucy Lawless on several occasions and I've always found her to be thoroughly delightful. She's a smart, witty, charming, and funny lady who always seemed to be a little surprised by the degree of love and devotion the fans have shown her and the rest of the cast."

"I know what you mean. I had a chance to talk to her for a few minutes earlier this week when she was here in the studio for a live appearance on our morning show. She was very excited about the finale. I remember she called it a great 'roller coaster ride' and she thought the fans would get a kick out of it. Somehow I don't think this is quite the reaction she and the rest of those connected with the show were expecting."

"I don't think so either, Stan. It's a shame, too. Since it first aired, 'Xena' has had such a positive impact on so many people. Having covered the annual convention here the last few years, I've talked to many of the fans and you'd be surprised at the number of lives that have been changed for the better by this show. Stories of women who gained the courage to leave controlling and/or abusive relationships along with many, many others of men, women and children who have been inspired to go after their dreams and try new things, are commonplace among the fans. I read a story on the internet a few years back about a young girl who was so empowered by seeing the show for the first time, she stood up to the school bullies that had been making her life misery for months. Not to mention the hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions, of dollars that's been raised for charities around the world in the name of Xena Warrior Princess. It seems to me almost tragic that millions of fans world wide have been left so clearly broken-hearted by the final episode of a show that has, till now, been a fountain of hope and inspiration."

"I agree, Mary and I'm sure we'll be hearing more about this controversial Xena finale in the days to come. Coming up next, we have a report from the site of the latest Covington expedition in Greece where some new discoveries have recently come to light. Mary?"

"Sounds exciting, Stan. Later in our broadcast - the Xena and Gabrielle Clones, Fact or Fantasy: a report on the latest 'sightings' of the so-called Xena clones. All that and more coming up after this commercial break."

When the commercial came on, Gabrielle picked up the remote and turned off the TV. Then she looked up at her dark haired companion ('boy am I glad she decided to go back to being a brunette,' the thought came to her totally out of the blue), curious as to what her partner's reaction would be.

"I had no idea," the ex-warrior stated, shaking her head in wonder. "You were right, Gabrielle. To those people they just showed and all the others who watch your scrolls, it is more than just a television show."

"Now do you understand what I tried to tell you back then whenever you'd ask me why I kept writing those scrolls? We humans can't keep up the daily grind of life on our own. Every so often we need a hero, someone larger than life to look up to and be inspired by. You were that hero to so many people, Xena. Both back then and now. You give them hope that they can change their lives and the world for the better." Gabrielle paused for a moment to let the truth of her words sink into her companion's mind. When she continued her voice was soft and full of sadness. "I'm afraid, Xena. I saw the look in those fans' eyes. That hope was taken away from them tonight. All because the producers decided that the truth wasn't good enough for them. We have to give them that hope back. And not just for them or us. But for Eve, too. It was her sacrifice that allowed us to leave Japan alive and gave us another twenty odd years together. It was her ashes and her child that we took back to Greece with us. Her story needs to be told as well."

Xena's eyes filled with tears, as they always did, when she thought of her daughter's death. Wrapping her arms tightly around the love of her life, she placed a tender kiss on the soft forehead.

"How did you get to be so wise, O Bard of Mine?" she said, softly, the old endearment coming easily to her lips.

"Oh, I don't know," the bard in question said with a slight chuckle. "Hang around with big, dumb warriors, gods, angels, etc. long enough and something's bound to rub off."

"Funny, Gabrielle." The 'Big, Dumb Warrior just gave the Bard the patented 'Look', which caused the younger woman to dissolve in giggles.

"You haven't lost your touch, have ya?"

"I should hope not." Releasing her hold on her partner, Xena got up and crossed over to the phone. "All right, let's get cracking."

"Who are you gonna call?" Gabrielle asked as she went to stand next to her friend who was fast getting into full warrior mode.

"Someone who, I think, will have a great deal of interest in what we brought back with us from Greece." Xena paused for a moment and listened as the phone was answered on the other end by a rather sleepy voice.

Though Gabrielle couldn't hear the other person, she listened intently to Xena's end of the conversation, hoping to get a clue as to what her warrior was planning.

"Hello?... Is this Missy? ... Yes, I realize it's late where you're at and I apologize for calling at this hour but I need your help.... Oh, sorry. This is Annie -uh Xena.... Yes, that was true and don't worry. I understand why you'd doubt it... Yes we just finished seeing it... Mattie - uh, Gabrielle and I... That's why we're calling... We'd like to set up a meeting with you to tell you the true story about what happened in Japan... Most of it was but the ending was pure fiction... We thought you would be..." Xena paused for a long moment as she listened to what Missy had to say. Her lips began forming into that famous lopsided grin as she pulled her partner closer and turned to look at the three large, bulging duffle bags stacked in the corner of their living room.

"Uh huh... Yeah, we don't understand it either..." Xena continued. "But we think we have a way of counter acting the affects... The scrolls that Tapert has aren't even the tip of the iceberg, so to speak... Oh yeah, there were others... We'd like you to take a look at something we brought back from our honeymoon in Greece... Great. Call us and let us know the flight info and we'll meet you at the airport... Okay, see you then... Goodnight." With that, Xena hung up the phone, a satisfied smirk on her face and a twinkle in her blue eyes.

"Was that Missy Good?" Gabrielle asked, excitement coloring her voice.

"Mmm hmm."

"Great. If any one can get the word out to the fans it's Missy. Besides, I've been wanting to ask her how she knew about Dori?"

"We can find out about that later. I think the next order of business will be a little visit to Rob Tapert." Xena cocked her eyebrow mischievously as she gazed down at Gabrielle. "Maybe I can persuade him to film an 'alternate' ending to the series. Or, better yet, agree to a seventh season."

The warrior waggled her brows suggestively at the bard standing next to her.

"Oh, Xena, you're so bad," Gabrielle laughed as she swatted Xena lightly on her stomach.

"Don't I know it."

The end (or maybe the beginning - depends on how you look at it).

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