CROUCHING DRAGON, HIDDEN XENA
Gabrielle thought she was to begin a new scroll. She was sitting, legs crossed, between two barrels, her trembling hand held her quill tightly but no ink would touch the parchment. She'd been in this position for quite some time. She'd been sailing for days now... countless days, long days, longer nights. She didn't care; she just wanted to get as far away from where she'd just been as possible.
Xena is gone. Gone gone. Her spirit would fade at times but on one particular night, she vanished. It happened shortly after setting sail from Japan, Xena and Gab were on deck talking under the stars about their life together and what it might have been like if they'd known each other as children. Xena admitted that she might have tormented Gab because that's what she seemed to do to the two kids that she did like. Gab said she knew she would have driven her mother crazy because hanging around with Xena probably would have resulted in a lot of dirty clothes. They laughed. Gabrielle's eyes filled with tears at the thought of this conversation. How many nights ago was that? Xena's spirit was just plucked away in mid-conversation. It was as if something or someone had just carried her off from where she sat. Gabrielle distinctly remembers that at the very moment Xena was taken she had a strange burning feeling in her back... much like she felt after being tattooed. It's as if the dragon had moved.
Xena? Xena, where are you? Why did we go to Japan? Why didn't we just stay on this ship and keep sailing? We were happy. Gabrielle threw the quill down and put her head in her hands. She sobbed. She felt her hair. She hadn't bathed in days. She didn't care. She lifted her head up and wiped the tears that were streaming down her face. She was amazed at the fact that she still had tears to shed. Her body ached from crying... or hunger... she didn't know. She didn't care. Xena I know you... WE, did the right thing for those souls in Higuchi but why does it feel so wrong? She lowered her head and closed her eyes. please, by the Gods, have mercy, let Celesta herself take me in my sleep this very night.
She awoke at the sudden blast of sunlight that hit her face when a sailor moved one of the barrels she was sleeping against. 'Pardon me miss, we're about to hit land... you've been sleeping for three straight days. Are you all right, can you get up?'
Gab looked up at him, one hand shading her eyes. 'What? Where are we?' Gab asked, realizing she was still alive.
'We're on the shores of Madagascar, off of South Africa. Can you walk? You seem a little weak.'
'I'm all right, thanks, really.' Madagascar, how did I... She waved the sailor away and walked wearily to the ship's rail. She took a deep breath of the salty air and noticed that it actually hurt to breathe. She felt the warm breeze blow across her face. Xena is that you? She searched the air. No. She observed the activity on land as they approached the port. People going about their lives. Living. She gathered her packs and headed to the ship's exit. She heard bells ringing. Maybe a nearby temple? As she slowly made her way towards the comforting chiming sounds, she noticed a few odd glares from some of the villagers. Strange looks. Looks of pity and concern. I must look like goat poo. She arrived upon the temple steps and looked for anything familiar but there was nothing.
No one was either going in or out. She opened the door. The smell of frankincense wafted through the thick air. There were no seats, or statues of any kind, just some large vases and some very old and worn ornate rugs strewn across the ground. She set her packs down and stood for a moment, not looking at anything in particular. There really wasn't much to look at. Where am I?
'Can I help you, my child?' a voice came from behind her. She turned to find a petite and somewhat frail dark-skinned woman standing near some candles, preparing to light them.
'I... I was just looking for some place to rest.' Gab answered.
'You are alone, my dear? the woman inquired.
'Yes... I am... alone.' Saying that out loud stung.
The woman looked at Gabrielle and wondered what had caused the great sadness behind those emerald eyes.
'I'm sure I can help you. Please follow me and I will show you where you can get comfortable and then have a good meal,' she said as she gestured to Gabrielle to follow.
'Thank you,' Gab said quietly as she picked up her packs and followed.
'My name is Kadeem, this is the Mission of The Mother of Peace,' the woman said kindly as she led Gabrielle down a long corridor of open portals. The Mother of Peace!?
They came to a stop at the end of the corridor and Kadeem pointed to a beaded archway and said, 'You may bathe and rest in here, when you are ready for a meal walk down to the other end of this corridor and you will find a dining area. There is plenty of food and drink, please help yourself to anything.'
'Thank you, you are very kind,' Gabrielle said gratefully. Then added, 'My name is Gabrielle.' She felt the need to say more but instead opted to stand silently.
'Welcome Gabrielle. Please make yourself at home and if you need me I will know.'
Gabrielle watched as Kadeem slowly made her way back down the corridor and out of sight. Gab turned and walked through the beaded archway and looked upon a simple room with a small straw bed, a table next to the bed with two candles on it, and a wash basin at the foot of the bed. I need to get clean. She searched through her packs for soap and found it under the small black urn. the urn. Xena. Gab's heart sank as all the recent past events flashed through her mind. She rubbed her eyes and returned the urn to the pack and grabbed the bar of soap and a sponge. She proceeded to remove her clothes, placing her sais and chakram gently on the bed, and knelt by the wash basin. As she began to wash she remembered the last time she did bathe. It was with Xena. It was the morning of the day they got to Japan. Before everything. They were washing each other. Xena gently rubbing soap onto Gab's back and as always letting her hands wander around to Gab's breasts -
'My, my, how did my hands get there?' Xena would ask slyly.
'Where? Here?' Gab would play along grasping Xena's hands in her own guiding them to caress and explore even more.
Now aching from these images in her mind, Gabrielle managed
a smile as her eyes began to sting once again. She washed her body with the
cool basin water and her own tears. When she had finished she was exhausted.
I'm so weak that just bathing has left me unable to move. She laid down
on the straw bed with only her undergarments on and fell into a sleep that came
heavy and fast. Her last thought was of Xena. 'I will always be with you Gabrielle'
'Well, well, look whose newly dead... AGAIN.' Ares laughed, folding his arms across his chest.
'Ares?! What are you doing here?' Xena shouted in confusion.
'I live here, as for you, well, you might want to ask yourself what it is that YOU are doing here.'
Xena rolled her eyes and clenched her jaw anticipating another one of Ares' games. 'What's going on Ares?' she asked impatiently.
'Oh nothing, really, just taking advantage of an opportunity. You know me, never one to pass up the chance to be with my favorite Warrior Princess.' He began to circle Xena closely.
'Ares, I really don't have time for this. Gabrielle...'
'Gabrielle, Gabrielle what? Needs you Xena? You're dead, she's alive. What can you two possibly do that way?' He was smirking delightfully.
Xena put her hand to her head, rubbed her eyes and sighed loudly.
'Oh Xena, don't be blue.' He put his arm around her and she quickly withdrew. 'Did you ever know that when a warrior... that's you... gets killed in battle... that's what happened to you, ouch, not pretty... that the God of War, that's me... gets to choose what to do with the soul of such warrior... uh, you again.'
Xena kept up a steady cold blue stare as she wondered what the Tartarus he was getting at. 'What are you talking about Ares?'
'I'm talking about you and me Xena. Your little foray into martyrdom won you a seat by my side.'
'Cut the crap Ares. I'm getting out of here.' Xena tries to move but Ares grabs her arm.
'I don't think so Xena,' raising his voice. 'Not this time. You see, its like you said so sweetly to Gabrielle on Mt. Fuji, 'I can't come back'.' He pursed his lips and wiped a fake tear from his eye.
'You're ridiculous, I'm going back.' Xena snapped.
'Now Xena, don't lose your head... oops, did I really say that? I'm afraid that's not what I have planned for you... er, us.'
Xena turns and tries to go out the door behind them but can't open it. She tries running through it but can't do that either.
'Ha ha ha ha Xena! You're too funny! You're also not a very good listener. I said you ain't goin' nowhere! Now when you've settled down,' he motioned theatrically with his hands, 'I'll be back and go over the details of our new partnership. You're going to actually love some of my ideas!' he added flippantly as he vanished.
Xena stood there expressionless wondering how she was
going to get back to Gabrielle.
Kadeem approached Gabrielle as she lay sleeping. She watched her silently for a few moments taking in the woman's small but muscular form on the straw. She noticed the sais and chakram at the bottom of the bed and wondered why she had such items. She looked closely at the tattoo on Gabrielle's back. Gab stirred when Kadeem put her hand on her shoulder. Xena? Gab turned over to see Kadeem's kind face looking upon her.
'Hello, Kadeem. How long have I been asleep?'
'Too long, my child.'
Gabrielle sat up and rubbed the dried tears from her eyes.
'Gabrielle,' Kadeem hesitated for a moment thinking, if you wish to die, you will not do so here... 'Let me help you, come with me.' She took Gab's hand and wrapped a brightly colored robe around her shoulders. She walked Gabrielle down the long corridor.
It was night. Gabrielle felt weak. Her head hurt.
'Please have a seat.' Kadeem said as she gently placed Gab in a chair at a large table. Gab sat and watched Kadeem gather some bananas, grapes, several different cheeses, milk, and a loaf of bread and placed them on the table.
'Eat.' Kadeem stated plainly.
Gab eyed the food and wondered if she could.
'Here, start with some grapes.' Kadeem handed Gab the grapes. Gabrielle started to eat. She ate everything that was placed in front of her. Kadeem watched in silence. 'Do you want more?' Kadeem inquired smiling.
'No, thank you... that was quite enough... thanks... thank you.'
'Walk with me Gabrielle.' She took Gab's hand once again and noticed a bit more strength in it than before. They walked out of the dining area and into an open garden. The smells of the herbs and flowers permeated the still night air. Candles lighted their way. Gabrielle took a deep breath and admired the beauty of her surroundings.
'I know you must be wondering what I am doing here.' Gab broke the silence.
'I know you may tell me when you are ready.'
'I , I... haven't always been... alone.' The words formed slowly on Gab's tongue.
'I know you are suffering from a great loss my dear.'
Gab looked away and fought another urge to cry.
'What is it that I can do for you, Gabrielle?'
Gab thought for a moment while looking at all the tiny grains of sand on the ground. She replied softly, 'Let me stay here until I am strong enough to go out there.' She pointed to the door she came in.
'Is that all you require of me?' Kadeem asked.
'No, let me do something for you. Put me to work. Whatever you need done, let me do.' Gab offered earnestly.
Kadeem tilted her head and looked at what she thought might be life behind the eyes that held so much sorrow. 'Fine. That's what we will do then. Tomorrow I will introduce you to someone who will show you what is required of us daily here.'
The two women smiled faintly at each other.
'Thank you,' said Gabrielle, 'really, thank you so much.'
With that, Kadeem told Gab to feel free to explore and relax. She left Gabrielle in the garden. Gab took several deep breaths and sat by a trickling fountain. She swished her hand around in it appreciating the coolness. Fountain... the fountain at Mt. Fuji... the water... the kiss... Xena. Gab removed her hand from the water and placed it to her lips. Xena come back to me. She let the water seep from her mouth. She ached for Xena. She remembered the last time they made love. It was her birthday. Xena had given her an incredible gift and then took her flying. When they came back to earth they were overcome with emotion -
'Xena, take that crazy helmet off and come here...' Gab summoned her seductively.
'You don't have to tell me twice...' Xena answered as she tossed the helmet off quickly with one hand and grabbed Gabrielle with the other.
Their kissing began softly but deepened quickly as they both became filled with desire. Clothes just started coming off wildly and Xena inadvertently pushed Gabrielle against a tree and they both fell to the ground laughing -
'Ooof, ow... a little eager today are we?' Gab teased as she pulled Xena on top of her.
'Today and everyday for the rest of our lives Gabrielle...'
She loved the way Xena loved her. Xena loved with all
the might in her body. Their passion brought them to cries of ecstasy, which
they caught furiously in each other's mouths. Gabrielle reeled from the memory.
I love you Xena. She looked up to the empty sky. An odd feeling on her
back jarred her thoughts. Gab tried to look over her shoulder and then backhandedly
touched her tattoo. I swear it feels like it moves sometimes.
Xena sat a table in Ares' temple tapping her fingers loudly. So many thoughts were racing through her mind. Gabrielle where are you? What are you doing? Are you allright? I miss you. I need you. Tears were welling in her eyes. She put her head down on the table and pounded her fist once, hard. All right, calm down Xena, I've been in tough situations before, get a grip. She wiped her tears and quickly stood up, she gave the room another once over with her eyes.
Everything she had tried so far to get out of there failed. 'Oh Gabrielle, what have I done?' she said aloud to herself softly.
'Aw, Xena, this is too touching.' Ares mocked handing her a handkerchief as he appeared from behind her.
'Ares has anyone ever told you what prick you are?'
Stunned at Xena's choice of words he grabbed his chest and feigned, 'Ow, Xena, that one hurt. Come on now, play nice. I'm not going to hurt you.'
Xena figured sparring with Ares was getting nowhere. 'Listen Ares, you've been fine all this time without me. We've gone over this again and again. We're bad for each other, you don't need me, I don't want to be here, and I don't love you. What could you possibly gain from having me around when you know that this is how I feel?'
'An heir.' Ares stated flatly.
'An heir? This again? Just the very thought makes me ill to no end! Besides, I'm dead for Zeus's sake!!'
'Xena, Xena, baby, honey, Warrior Princess cakes... you've been dead before. We can easily solve that problem. I'm a God remember?!'
Xena was exasperated. 'What's the frickin' deal Ares? Go ahead, dazzle me with this little bit of brilliance,' she said sarcastically.
'Simple, you give me a child, I give you immortality. Just think, no more of these pesky deaths to deal with! And maybe, just maybe, you'll be able to see how your precious, irritating, little friend is fairing all by her very lonesome. She looked pretty pathetic the last time I took a glimpse.'
'You saw her?!' Xena bore a hole in Ares' head with her steely gaze.
'Yeah, I took a peek. She wasn't as, hmmm, how would you say, FEISTY, as she usually is.' He paused then added. 'Nice tattoo though. Gotta love a woman with tattoos...'
'Ares you bastard!' Xena shouted as she lunged at him. He easily moved from her path. She shook her head, took a deep breath and tried to regain composure. 'What if I told you that Gabrielle will be just fine without me?'
'Ha ha ha ha, there you go again, being funny... she could barely bathe herself... ha ha... and besides, you never know WHAT or WHO could happen to her.' He bellowed.
'Now times awaistin' Xena, we only have, lets say, until... ETERNITY to decide! Ha ha ha ha.' He laughed as he vanished again.
Xena sat back down at the table and put her head in her
hands. Gabrielle, forgive me for what I've done, and for what I'm about to
Gabrielle had just finished dressing... her skirt and top had been cleaned and placed at the edge of her bed while she was sleeping. Kadeem walked in and kindly said good morning. 'Gabrielle, I have someone here I would like you to meet.'
A tall, young, dark-skinned woman with closely cropped hair entered the room. She was wearing yellow flowing pants and wore a loose top to match. She was beautiful. A large dog stoically entered beside her. It was striking as well... albino with fantastic pink eyes. Quite a contrast to the woman, but an excellent complement.
'This is my daughter, Johannah.' Kadeem said proudly.
'Hello Gabrielle.' Johannah offered her hand.
'Hello Johannah.' Gab took the young woman's hand and shook it lightly. Johannah's eyes looked fixed forward. She is blind.
'This is my dog, André.' Johannah said releasing Gab's hand.
'Hello, André.' Gab extended her hand to the dog's snout and he sniffed and then licked her fingertips.
'Johannah will show you how we start our days here. Are you feeling up to it?'
'Yes, Kadeem, thank you... I helped myself to some more food last night, well, actually, earlier, and I'm feeling much better.'
'Good then. Johannah, let's put Gabrielle to work.'
They all walked down the peaceful corridor to the dining area where they were greeted by an explosion of color and energy. Children bounded from everywhere... jumping up and down and then running straight for Johannah.
'Johannah! Johannah!' they squealed with joy. Johannah opened her arms and hugged as many children as she could reach.
'Good morning children,' Kadeem and Johannah both said. 'please calm down and take your seats. Where are your manners? We have a guest today.'
The children listened obediently and scattered back to their seats at the table. They were squirming with excitement.
'This is Gabrielle.' Kadeem said. 'She has decided to visit us and help us out at the Mission. Please welcome her.'
The children stared at Gabrielle. One even came up to her and touched the tattoo on her leg and said boisterously, 'Hello white woman!' Everyone laughed.
Gabrielle hardly knew what to say. She smiled and nodded shyly and said 'Hello, thank you for letting me be your guest.'
'OK, lets settle down and get some breakfast!' Kadeem ordered.
The children sat wiggling about in their seats and waited for their meals.
'We serve them breakfast each day before they go to class.' Johannah informed Gabrielle while handing her a plate of fruit and eggs to pass to the table. There were two other adults helping pass food around... Ndukwe and Bethina, brother and sister of Johannah. Gabrielle said hello to each child that she handed a plate to and they responded politely. Andre's job was to scarf up the scattered bits that often hit the floor. He was very good at this and seemed to find it rather tasty. When breakfast was over the children scattered out to another part of the mission for their classes. A little girl stopped on her way out and touched Gabrielle's arm and said, 'Please don't be sad white woman.'
Gabrielle knelt, hugged the girl and said 'Don't worry about me little one, go have a fun day.'
The adults shared breakfast once the children had cleared out. All were very attentive to make sure that Gabrielle ate.
'Well, how do you like the job so far Gabrielle?' Kadeem inquired.
'I have a feeling I'm going to love it.' Gab responded.
'Good girl. Johannah will now show you where we keep our animals. They need tending to next.'
'Lead the way Johannah.' Gab said as she swallowed her last bite.
'André... lets go boy!' Johannah whistled for the dog to guide them to the corral where the chickens, goats, sheep, and two cows were kept. Gabrielle spent the rest of the morning with Johannah feeding and milking the animals. It was sweltering hot but she felt good keeping busy and using her hands. She was amazed how Johannah managed these tasks without being able to see, except for the occasional bump into an animal, one could barely tell she was blind. When they had completed these chores Johannah asked Gabrielle if she was doing all right. Gab said that her arms were a little tired, but otherwise, she was OK. They went back inside to have lunch and to rest a bit.
'No kids at lunch?' Gab asked.
'No, the children are only here for breakfast... thank goodness.' Johannah laughed. 'They go to class while their parents work in the fields. Later, they get taken home. Sometimes we have one or two that may need to stay for a while.' she added.
'This is a lovely place. How long have you been here?'
'All my life, and my brother and sister's too.'
'You are very lucky. I feel so much love here.'
'Yes, indeed, love is everything. This is the way of The Mother of Peace.'
'The Mother of Peace. Who is that?' Gab asked, hesitating somewhat.
'It is Kadeem. Then, one day I may possibly hold that honor.'
There was an awkward pause as Gabrielle's mind flashed with memories of a future life experience where Xena was in fact, The Mother of Peace. She stroked her head and neck as she contemplated the complexity of the memory.
'Your heart, it is tired?' Johannah asked sensing her furrowed brow.
'Yes, my heart is tired.' Gab answered solemnly. What's left of my heart. Gab excused herself politely and walked slowly back to her room.
Kadeem walked into the dining area and sat next to Johannah. 'How is she doing?' mother asked daughter.
'She is hurting... greatly. Many things weigh heavy on her mind.'
'Has she told you anything about herself?'
'No, it seems she can not speak for very long without shedding tears.'
'We can help her get her strength back, but as far as her heart, I'm not sure what we can do.' Kadeem added.
'I don't know mother, I don't know.' Johannah patted André for support.
Gabrielle returned to find Johannah and Kadeem sitting at the table.
'OK, what's next?' she asked, noticing what looked suspiciously like conspiring faces.
'We meet my brother in the vegetable garden.' Johannah answered cheerfully.
'Lets do it!' Gab said.
Johannah, Gabrielle and André were off to the
Xena didn't know just how long she's been held prisoner, but she's now thinking she's in hell. Tartarus, Hades, Hell... I don't know... this is some really messed up afterlife. Just as she was getting ready to throw the chair she was sitting in across the room, Aphrodite nonchalantly walks in.
'Aphrodite!' Xena shouts.
'Xena! What are you doing here?'
Xena ran to Aphrodite and hugged her profusely.
'Xena, OK, OK, hey, what's wrong with you... save that for Gab, girl!' Aphrodite joked.
'Aphrodite, you've got to help me...'
'Wait, let me guess, my dear brother has something to do with this, right?'
'Yes, listen, we've got to hurry, please, help me get out of here. I need to find Gabrielle.'
'What's wrong with Gabrielle?' Aphrodite asked with genuine concern.
'Nothing, I hope. I don't know. It's a long story, just get me away from here and I'll tell you.'
Aphrodite saw the desperation in Xena's eyes and said,
'C'mon, I've got just the place.'
In the evening, after Gabrielle had finished helping in the garden and having another good meal, Johannah and André took her for a walk through the village. The village was sparsely populated, but what inhabitants were there seemed to be very peaceful and happy. No sign of a warlord here. There were colorful fabrics and textures to their clothing, drums beating in soothing rhythms, fragrant aromas in the air. life. Johannah informed Gabrielle that she always knew where she was going because of the certain smells in the air, stones in the road, voices, and sounds. And André, of course. They walked for a long time. They came upon a field where some children were playing. Some of them came running over to Gabrielle and Johannah and urged them to go see something. One of the children took Gab's hand and led her to a tree then pointed up high to one of the branches where a ball they were tossing got wedged. 'Can you get it, can you get it?' the child asked anxiously.
'Sure.' Gab said as she looked for a way to scale the tree. Wait a minute... She then grabbed the chakram and side-armed it up in the air just with enough touch that it beaned the ball and down it came. She caught the chakram with ease and glared at it proudly.
'Thank you! Thank you!' the children bounded. A little boy then excitedly asked if he could touch her 'yellow hair'. Gab obliged and laughed.
'What did you do?' Johannah asked curiously.
'Oh, I helped them get a ball out of the tree.'
'What was that odd sound... a whoosh?'
'I have a weap... I carry something called a chakram. It was a friend of mine's.' Gab stated somberly.
'It comes in handy, yes?' Johannah smiled.
'It comes in handy, yes.' Gab answered as she regarded the chakram.
They walked on in silence for a while. Gabrielle was thinking of Xena. She would love this place: the fertile land, the energy of the people, the warmth of the sun, the food, the peace...
Johannah broke the silence, 'Gabrielle, there is a very nice place to sit by the water just over here.' She took Gab's arm and led her to a large stone formation in a niche by the water. 'André and I usually spend some time here each day just to enjoy a few moments alone.' André jumped in the water and just stood there very content.
'It's very beautiful here.' Gab said as she sat.
'Yes, it is.' Johannah answered solemnly. There was silence for a few moments as the two women enjoyed the peacefulness.
'Johannah,' Gab began slowly, 'you and your family have been very kind to me. I appreciate it so much.'
Johannah just nodded in acknowledgment.
'I, I'm usually a lot better company...' she added softly.
Johannah interrupted her. 'Gabrielle, my mother and I know that you are going through something very hard. We would like to help you if you let us. We have helped many people.'
Gabrielle was watching Johannah speak and was overwhelmed by her kindness.
'Johannah, I had a soulmate...'
Gabrielle proceeded to tell Johannah of her life with Xena... from incredible beginning to devastating end. She paused several times to cry. As she spoke of the most recent events she sobbed heavily in Johannah's arms having recalled the horror of seeing her lover's desecrated body.
'I'm sorry, I'm sorry...' Gab said as she tried to compose herself.
'Shhh, no, no, don't be sorry Gabrielle. I'm glad you were able to share this with me.' Johannah assured as she held Gabrielle.
Gab sat up straight, sighed, and wiped tears from her eyes. 'I'm such a mess.'
'No you're not Gabrielle. You're very strong. You are a survivor and this too you will survive.' Johannah now too, was crying.
'Oh, don't cry... please... I'm sorry I've saddened you...' Gab apologized as she tried to help Johannah wipe her tears.
'Its OK, you have not saddened me, its just that from what you told me of your life, you must be very bored now.' Johannah gave a slight laugh through her tears hoping a light shot of humor would help Gabrielle feel somewhat better. It did. Gab laughed through her tears. She appreciated that, she needed it. The two women hugged, each still wiping tears from their eyes. They sighed deeply and decided to go back to the Mission. Once there, they bid each other goodnight and separated.
'Johannah,' Gab called as she was walking away, 'thank you.'
'Sleep well Gabrielle,' she said solemnly, knowing very
well that Gab might not sleep well for quite some time.
'OK Xena, you should be safe here. Ares never comes here. He knows its where I come when its... you know... that time of the cycle.' Aphrodite gives an impish smile. She then snaps her fingers and two chalices of wine appear; she hands one to Xena. She continued to speak, 'So, tell me what's this all about?'
Xena tilted her head back to stretch and told her the whole story... Japan, her death, the ship, Gabrielle. Aphrodite listened intensely and made faces at all the rough spots.
'Whew, that's some story... you really got your head cut off?... eeeww, nasty!' Aphrodite cringed.
'Yeah, yeah, listen we've got to find Gabrielle.' Xena said impatiently.
'Allright, that shouldn't be too much of a problem. Hearts in peril, that's my specialty. I bet her heart isn't in the best of shape right now, poor little cutie, so I should be able to track her rather easily.' Aphrodite closed her eyes and put her fingertips to her own temple as if her brow contained a crystal ball.
'Gabrielle, Gabrielle, where are you sweetie... OH! There you are! Gotcha!'
'You found her?!! Xena grabbed Aphrodite's arms.
'Yep, yep, hang on, WHOA!!'
'What? What?' Xena yelled.
'Oh yeah, you go girl! What an awesome tattoo!'
'You can see that? Is she all right? Where is she?' Xena was ecstatic.
'Hmm, by us Gods... how did she get down there...'
'She's near South Africa. Or more precisely, a place known as Madagascar.'
'South Africa? What the...'
'She seems to be OK. She's dreaming right now... aww, she's dreaming of you Xena. Oh my...' Aphrodite was fanning herself, 'this is quite the porn show, wohoo, Gabrielle you little demon you!'
'Aphrodite! Aphrodite!' Xena wished she could see the dream. 'Can we get her? Can you get her? How can we get her?' Xena was excited and confused.
'Actually, I can probably get her right now. It's easier to transport mortals through their dreamstate - less of a bumpy ride and all.' She shrugged her shoulders... 'I'll be back in a jiff... you know what they say... 'Gods speed!''
Before Xena could get another word out Aphrodite had disappeared.
She got there quickly. She gave the place a quick once over. how rustic. She looked at Gabrielle sleeping. Sleeping beauty... with a bitchin' tattoo! I'm serious!
'Gabrielle, sweetie, it's me, Aphrodite, I know you're asleep... and what you're dreaming!... I'm going to grab your things, hold on, uhh, you're quite a handful... OK lets go...' She grabs Gabrielle's clothes and packs, holds Gab tightly and a zaps out of there. In moments she places Gabrielle's sleepy form in front of Xena.
'Honey, we're home!' Aphrodite exclaims.
'Gabrielle, Gabrielle!' Xena grabs Gab and starts crying. She kisses her head wildly, her eyes, her cheeks, her lips.
Gabrielle responds, 'Xena? Xena?' She opens her eyes. 'XENA?!'
Xena is holding Gab's head in her hands, her eyes searching the gorgeous green.
'Am I dreaming? I'm dreaming.' Gab says and starts to cry not believing her reality.
'No, no, sweetheart, it's really me, I'm here. I'm here...' Xena sobs.
'Xena...' Gab catches a glimpse of Aphrodite out of the corner of her eye... Aphrodite gives her a quick wink and a wave. 'What's going on? Is this real? Aphrodite?'
'Gabrielle,' Xena starts speaking slowly, 'I'm really here, you're really here, and we're with Aphrodite.'
'Xena...' Gab squeezes Xena hard. 'I thought I lost you... I mean, really lost you...' Gab cries.
'Do you even know how glad I am to see you?' Xena says as she squeezes back just as hard.
'Right back at ya...' Gab responds in bliss.
'Well, isn't this quite the reunion?!' They all turn at once to see Ares leaning on a pillar.
'Thank you little sister. I can always count on you to betray me.' He sneered at Aphrodite.
'Ares, calm down, we can all work something out here.' Xena said slowly moving towards him.
'Hmmm. Let me think. He pauses briefly. 'No, I don't think so... could get messy... you know the same 'ol love triangle and all... been there, done that.' With that, Ares wound his arm and slung a fireball straight at Xena. 'See ya! Wouldn't want to be ya!' he guffawed.
'NO!' Gabrielle shouted as she jumped in the path of the onslaught. The fireball hit her instantly... on her back. THE DRAGON. She propelled forward colliding into Xena. She grasped Xena's hands, looked in her eyes, and said, 'Hold on... We are one.' The flames ignited a glowing entity that formed from the tattoo and engulfed their bodies, lifting them several feet off the ground. Several seconds passed and when they came down Gabrielle released Xena and turned towards Ares. Fire was in her eyes. Gabrielle grabbed Ares by the neck with one hand and then with great ferocity shouted, 'If you EVER come near my woman again I will snap your head off and shove it so far up your ass you will have to find a whole new way of dining!' She dropped him like a lead weight.
'Gab, Gab, Gabrielle,' he was choking and gasping for air, 'I mean it, where did you girls get this language?' He vanished.
'Gabrielle!' Xena rushed towards her soulmate.
'Xena!' They came together and dropped to their knees kissing each other crazily.
'Oh, you girls are sooo cute! I love happy endings! My work here is done. Later!' Aphrodite disappeared.
'Gabrielle, the dragon... it has power!' Xena marveled as she touched Gab's back.
'I kinda thought it was itching to do something.' Gab said matter-of-factly. Gab saw her two packs on the floor and quickly grabbed the one with the urn.
'What are you doing?' Xena wondered, not wanting to release Gab.
'I've got to check something.' Gab grabs the urn, opens it, and finds it empty.
'Look Xena!' Gab turns the urn upside down and nothing comes out.
'What do you think that means?' Gab asks excitedly.
'I think it means I get my chakram back.' Xena answers wryly.
'Oh, you think so...'
'Well, you'll never need it, now that you have this wild, mad dragon thing going on...'
'Yeah. Did you have to use it at all?'
'As a matter of fact, I did, but just once.' Gab smiled from the memory. 'I'll tell you all about it. In fact, you know how you wanted to go south? Well, there's this incredibly beautiful place with some wonderful people that I want you to meet.'
'Madagascar? Gabrielle, how did you get that far south?' Xena teased.
'Well, I kinda overslept and...'
* Epilogue *
Gabrielle returned to Madagascar with Xena. They remained
there for several months helping run and renovate The Mission while also sharing
with Kadeem and Johannah some of their healing techniques. They were to experience
many more years of love and adventure together as they traveled to other lands
organizing and opening numerous Mother of Peace Missions. Xena rarely fought
after Japan, whenever trouble dared to cross their path Gabrielle's Dragon protected
them swiftly. The last chapter of their lives prepared them aptly for their
next incarnations... in which Xena (born Armenestra), eventually became The
Mother of Peace, and Gabrielle, (Shakti), her favorite and most faithful warrior.
THE (happy) END