Part Eight

Day. Night. Days. Nights.

I can't stop. I can't stop running. Dreaming.

During the day, she runs. Her feet do not abide walking or standing still. She runs until every muscles aches. And even then, she keeps going.

Night slips down and she does not fight the slumber, the heaviness of her eyelids or the shallow intake of air into her lungs.

It is a fitful sleep, full of visions and realities... nightmares... wishes...

Sleep. Wake. Sleep. Wake.

I don't know who I am anymore.

And now, Gabrielle begins to talk back to this voice, this deep timbre lurking in the shadows.

"Who are you?"

'I am your salvation.'

"Why are you talking to me?"

'To save you.'

In her dreams, Gabrielle finds herself in a great hall. Marble and gold, airy and bright... And some part of her feels at home, though she has never set foot in such a place.

The sound from her lips is deep. The strength in her body is tenfold what she possesses now. I am like a god.

In other dreams, Gabrielle feels warm arms around her waist. The promise of love, shown in a kiss upon the lips... Sweetness lingers, the wonderful taste of Xena. Eyes shine back, blue like the sky in summer. And a smile, turning the bard's insides to liquid. I am in love with this woman.

'You can see her again, you know. I can make that happen.'

The bard knows this is a lie, perhaps made of her own mind. After endless moments of fleeing and hiding, Gabrielle is ripe for a delusion.

Or two, or three... I don't know if I can keep fighting...

"How can you help me?" She asks softly, letting the words drift into the early morning dew. And a touch against her brow, determined and dangerous...


Xena feels her thoughts working together, the knowledge of Artemis like a second mind. And that is a good thing, because this isn't going to be easy.

The home of the Amazons - empty as a tomb.

Huts abandoned. Fires long dead. Hides removed and dust in their place.

The warrior knew it would not be simple. Nothing ever is...

The subtle pull in her gut, telling her to go south. South it is.

And the last of her human form, eyes finding clues and tracking the Amazons. The pulse within her neck beats faster. My excitement or hers... I do not know... Probably both.

And the questions do not stop, even as she searches.

Who cares for Eve?...Eli. Can I reach Gabrielle?...She is hidden now.

All answers within. Is this what it is like to know all?...Yes and no.

Xena cannot help but smirk to herself. I knew there was a reason I never wanted to be an immortal. You have to know too much about too many.

Something draws her attention to the left and Xena pauses mid-step. I am not alone.

She circles back about twenty feet and then launches herself up, landing quite comfortably in a tree.  Silence at first, but then a familiar voice echoes to her ears.

"Xena. You might as well come down..."

Hmmm. How might this work? The warrior drops down effortlessly and finds the god of war standing, arms crossed.

"I wondered when you'd get back to Greece. How long has it been? A year?"

"Something like that."

"Did you finally miss me?" That familiar grin, familiar humor...

He has no idea what has happened. Or is happening. Or does he?

Xena is never one for sidestepping an issue and she grins back. "Heard from your father lately?"

Ares loses some of his good nature, but keeps the grin in place. "Just as...humorous as ever. I didn't miss that part of you, Xena."

He senses that things are changing. Talk about the Amazons.

"I hear that someone has taken a real shine to hunting Amazons. Know anything about that?"

"Surely you are not pointing the finger at me?"

"No...not yet."

At this, Ares chuckles and comes closer. "I don't have to waste my time with Amazons, Xena. What, is your little sidekick in trouble? Again?"

Smug bastard, I should...Don't hurt him. He knows something. Or he might be in league with Zeus...I wonder how the pinch would work with all this new power?

The inner thought process finally over, the warrior princess finds Ares staring at her.

"Xena? Still there?" 

"Ares, do you know what happens to the spirits of dead gods and goddesses? They don't go away. They just find new bodies." With that comment, the warrior pushes at the god of war, sending him flying back.

And Xena wishes this was not such a dire situation, because nothing is as funny as a shocked god.


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