By spheeris1

Disclaimers: I do not own Xena, Gabrielle, Amazons, Ares, Aphrodite or other sundry characters. I do own this idea and fic.

Warnings: Subtext is now Maintext. Deal with it.

Notes: This is a multi-chapter Post FIN fic… Hopefully it is not too convoluted or badly written. There is shifting POV’s and flowing words and some violence. Take a chance, you might like it [lol].

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Part One

She didn't know how long she had been asleep, drifting in and out of the and out of time. Xena knew that her own soul had reached peace, but her body would not catch up as quickly. The muscles and the bone and the tendons, living and breathing, walking and running and jumping - none of that here. Wherever here is. This calm limbo, this bright oasis... this serene nothingness.
For a few months, the warrior could stay in the land of the still alive. She could coast alongside ships, could dissolve into sand, could reach out and touch... You. I could once touch you, Gabrielle. I said that death could never separate us. But each day pulls me further away and now you can't see me as well.
There was not a supreme being to greet her at the end of her days. No voice, no light, no Eli or archangels. Just day upon day of silence. And for a while, that was a good thing. Xena let the quiet wash over her, finding her mind clear of dark thoughts and guilt. She even could share this bliss with the bard, once or twice... Wind for fingertips, spelling messages to Gabrielle in the desert. And the bard would smile, albeit a sad form of smiling.
"I'm happy for you, Xena."
That was the last time they saw each other, really saw each other. Then the tug of some unknown place slowly took Xena away from Gabrielle and Egypt and grass and sky and everything. Her soul, now clean and unblemished, is free. And freedom means leaving for good. Freedom means no attachments to the earthly realm.
Leaving for good... My soul is free from pain and hate and sadness. Yet, it is not free from you, Gabrielle. Nor do I want it to be, but when you call for me and I cannot come to you... My soul can still ache for you, Gabrielle. My soul can still hurt for you. How can I leave you behind when you are a part of me?
These thoughts are persistent now, with each passing moment that Xena cannot see the bard. The warrior feels the stirrings of discontent once more, only this time it is not a need for redemption - it is a need for love.
And with that very thought, so concrete and true, Xena finds the ethereal turn to blackness. For the first time in a long time, the warrior can feel something on her skin, along her arms and legs - it is the air. 
Like an apple from a tree, she is falling..........................

* * * * *

Dirt. I feel dirt. And roots. And my back hurts like a centaur kicked it... which means... that... But that's impossible.
Xena opens her eyes slowly, finding herself surrounded by trees. Trees and the night sky of the living world swirling above... But that's impossible...right?
"I'm alive again." 
And Xena grins to hear her own voice echo out into the woods. She stands like a newborn, shaky legs and curious looks. But each step gets braver, more broad and sure. Every intake of air is deep, her lungs filling up with a substance she never thought she would miss.
Gabrielle... The name is a mantra in Xena's head. Gotta find out where I am, how to find her, what is going on... And the warrior does wonder what is going on. How did this happen? And why? 
That is when she notices something in her hand. Was that there the whole time? Parchment, slightly torn and crumpled, revealing a crude drawing of weapons. And a reward for the...
"The last of the Amazons." Xena finishes out-loud, the words getting tangled up in her throat. The tattered poster offers huge sums for the capture of whatever is left of the Amazon nation.
A familiar name tops the list. A blonde warrior, a fair queen, a talented bard. Xena grips the parchment tightly.
"Is this why I was brought back?" She shouts to the night. And somewhere, in the darkness, a whisper answers 'yes'. A shadow follows Xena, watching the newly returned hero stumble and run.
A shadow watches and waits to see if Xena will succeed...or fail.


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