DISCLAIMERS: Xena: Warrior Princess and Gabrielle are the sole copyright property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement was intended in the writing of this fan fiction. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author. This story cannot be sold or used for profit in any way. Copies of this story may be made for private use only and must include all disclaimers and copyright notices. All works remain the © copyright of the original author. These may not be republished without the author's consent.
Sex, violence, and drugs: No subtext, no drugs, and a little violence.
This is Classic Uber. Enjoy.
Oh fearful chasm!
Deepest pit of Tartaros;
Whither the wicked wither,
And corrupt warlords rot!
Long sinewy limbs bound in manacles, she had long given up the futile struggle to free herself. Dangling in chains to the rock wall, she opened a weary blue eye to catch a glimpse of the prisoner across the perilous chasm, a reminder of the destruction she had caused in the wake of her living years. One does not lay waste to half of Greece and expect to get away with it in the afterlife, do they?
Birds of prey circled above the stony spires of their hell, circling about and casting their large shadows upon the craggy walls of Tartaros. No one could truly get a glimpse of the bird themselves---only their silhouettes or shadows, akin to the reality of Plato's cave. It only further served to increase the horrors of hell several fold.
Resigned blue eyes slowly opened, looking up above at the hovering birds. Sometimes they liked to swoop down and snack on the captives below. The vultures took a real shine to her---Ares never did forgive her for deciding only half of Greece was enough and turning back towards good. Hades decided half of Greece was too much, even though she turned to good and lived out the remainder of her years in peace and charity. Not too eager to dwell on the grim prospect, she lowered her head and shut her eyes.
A jagged voice cut through the cold, dreary mist. "I hate you, Xena," she spat. The tired ex-warlord opened her eyes again, peering across the chasm at the blonde hellcat. She was none too thrilled to have her archival across from her for eternity, but at least she was tethered too. Xena knew it was all her fault---if she only didn't burn down her village it would never have happened, right?
She let her eyes close again, as the hungry hawks screeched above, screaming for dinner...
The jailer's keys jingled loudly, echoing through the rocky crags of Tartaros, awakening Xena from her stupor. She heard a deep, angry voice not far behind, and winced: it was terrible Hades wandering the halls again.
"Why must the three gray ladies trouble me!" he thundered. "They refuse to give passage to my dear Persephone for her to take her royal throne!"
The jailer nodded his head. He was taller and skinnier than his cousin Charon, but terrible and fussy nevertheless. "I do not understand why they must question your judgment," the jailer said. "Elysia or Tartaros, your judgments are final!"
Hades snorted sarcastically. "They think differently. They keep jabbering about this soulmate crap and that Xena and Gabrielle aren't supposed to be separated, yada, yada, yada."
"Why? Couldn't Gabrielle just find someone else?"
"That's the point!" Hades roared. "They claim that no one else can quite fit the role Xena vacated when she passed over."
"Yeah, we can live without someone conquering the known world," the jailer said.
"How do I know that her next reincarnation won't conquer my kingdom?" Hades cried out. "You never know!"
The jailer shook his head. "Unfortunately, the ladies aren't likely to give you back your Persephone until you assent to their wishes."
"Like hell!" Hades shouted. "What does her old mother offer that I can't?"
"The Eleusian Mysteries, for starters," the jailer informed. "It's just all the rage in the Empire right now."
Hades shook his head. "Maybe I can barter a deal with those old hags. Trade that Eleusian hokey-pokey for some real fire and brimstone and I'm very content!" he roared, with a round of disconcerting laughter.
The small blonde set the box of china on the floor, then stood up, wiping the sweat from her brow. "Whew." She sat in the lone chair in the kitchen---she was waiting for her table and furniture to be shipped. It was supposed to be here yesterday, but the company phoned her this morning and said there'd been a delay.
She whirled about when there was a knock on the door. Getting up and walking to the door, she looked through the peephole to see who it was. Recognizing the couple as her neighbors, she opened the door.
"Hello, I'm Linda Sedgewick," she introduced herself, "and this is my husband, Evan."
The small blonde shook her petite hand, then his massive hand. "I'm Gabrielle Neville."
"Nice to meet you, Misses...Miz Neville."
The wife nodded. "If you want, you can stop by our house. We got iced tea and cookies, if you'd like."
"That's sounds great. I could use a break," Gabrielle sighed. They left the house, walking over to the house next door.
Munching on her third lemon wafer and half finished with her first glass of iced tea, she stopped in mid-chew when Mrs. Sedgewick asked her a question.
"Oh, sorry. Could you repeat that?"
"What brings you to these parts?"
"My company transferred me here. It's a small chain." The telephone rang, and Mr. Sedgewick left the room to answer it. Gabrielle looked out the window. "What a beautiful black cat!" she exclaimed.
Mrs. Sedgewick looked out the window. "That is the nastiest cat alive," she said in disgust.
Gabrielle's green eyes bugged. "Why?"
"That little bugger is a handful! He fights with all the other cats, he digs up my garden, eats the flowers, shits all over the place, and all the children in the neighborhood are frightened of him!"
"Oh my," Gabrielle gasped, peering out the window to see the black cat flopped under the shade of the hydrangea bush. "You'd never guess that."
"My advice is to chase him out of the yard with a hoe if you can. Maiming him is even better. We could all live without that pest."
Gabrielle's face paled. Surely the cat couldn't be that nasty to deserve being maimed---
A few days later.
The furniture had arrived three days earlier, the china was unpacked, and Gabrielle felt quite at home in her new home. Still on a roll, she decided to harness her energy to neaten the garden up. It was a nice garden; however, the weeds had taken over since the previous owners left.
"Out you go," she scolded the devil grass that bedeviled her, sprouting up in the most inconvenient places such as between the cracks in the sidewalk. With a heavy trowel and little strong hands, the string of devil grass was unmercifully yanked out from its recluse. "Next!"
She was quite startled to feel something rub against her. Before she could whirl about, a beautiful black cat entered her vision of sight. "Mreow," it purred.
"Well, aren't you a pretty kitty!" Gabrielle exclaimed. Fond memories of her last cat flashed in her head: true, Tiger was a fruitcake but she missed the orange tabby cat she had to leave behind. Maybe this was her chance to acquire another cat that would fill the hole in the feline lover's heart. After all, it is said a house is not a home without a cat.
Gabrielle stood up, admiring her handiwork, the black cat happily rubbing against her legs and weaving figure eights between her ankles. "Whew. At least I'm finished with that section," she exclaimed to herself, wiping the budding beads of sweat on her forehead. "Hmm, what should I do next?" she asked herself. "Mowing the lawn will be tomorrow's project. Might as well weed the flower beds---I can go out shopping for plants tomorrow while running my errands."
"Meow," the cat purred.
"Yes?" Gabrielle asked the cat.
"Meow," the cat said, butting its head against her calf. "My, aren't you the affectionate one!" She walked over to her lawn chair and sat down. The black cat didn't hesitate to jump on her lap.
"Oh, alright," Gabrielle groaned, moving her coffee aside so the cat wouldn't upset it. The cat contentedly kneaded her lap, purring. She bit her lip; those claws were sharp and she had cotton pants on. Maybe she should have worn denim out to garden in after all.
Gabrielle learned to ignore the constant pricking of nails through her pants, and soon the torture was over when the cat decided to settle down and simply purr in her lap. She was quite startled when her other neighbor peeked over the fence.
Gabrielle found Mrs. Jensen to be rather spooky. She was over the hill, Gabrielle estimated her to be nearing sixty years of age. She had long white hair and an assortment of non-conventional jewelry that reminded her of the hippie era. The colorful tribal colors and drape of her clothing didn't dispel her impression either. Mrs. Sedgewick spoke no good of the woman, nor did anyone else in the neighborhood.
Despite her unusual reputation, Gabrielle found the woman to be mysterious and intriguing. She was a little reserved, due to the fact people didn't like her eccentricity and preferred she kept out of their lives. But when Gabrielle dared to break the ice, the woman warmed up and invited her for a visit.
Gabrielle remembered walking through the woman's house. Strange symbols adorned the area above the hearth, with a table beside it filled with a cornucopia of flowers and fruits in season. Two white taper candles accompanied it, and an incense burner to the side. A faint scent of sandalwood lingered from its burning a few nights previous.
Turning her thoughts back to the present, she greeted her neighbor. "Good afternoon, Mrs. Jensen."
The neighbor didn't say anything but grinned. Finally, she said, "She likes your energy."
"Energy?" Gabrielle repeated, unsure of what she meant.
"Yes, your energy. She's never taken a shine to anyone quite like that before," Mrs. Jensen explained.
She looked down to see the cat shut her eyes, still contentedly purring but quieter, satiated. Looking up, she saw Mrs. Jensen turn and walk away, to answer her ringing telephone.
"I don't understand that mumbo-jumbo, cat. Perchance you do?"
Morning wasn't Gabrielle's favorite time of day, but an uncharacteristically frightening nightmare scared her awake. Unable to go back to sleep, she decided to get up and sneak in a view of how the world was at six in the morning. She sat in the living room, watching the sun rise. It was unusual event for her to watch, but she savored it, blind open curled up on the sofa with a cup of coffee and a blueberry bagel spread with lots of cream cheese. She bit into the bagel when she heard an angry commotion next door.
Alarmed, she dashed out the door to see Mrs. Sedgewick chasing the black cat with a broom. "Shoo, you dirty strange beast!" her neighbor screamed at the top of her lungs. Gabrielle walked towards her house.
"What's going on?"
Red faced Mrs. Sedgewick continued to chase the cat with a broom, gaining upon it. There's something wrong for that fleet footed cat to be losing ground to her. Upon closer inspection, the poor cat was limping.
"Leave that cat alone!" Gabrielle yelled at Mrs. Sedgewick, taking a step. The cat saw her ally and ran towards Gabrielle, eluding Mrs. Sedgewick for a few steps, but the middle aged woman made up for it in a few strides, broom arched above her head.
"You wouldn't dare--" Gabrielle challenged.
The cat scampered between the blonde's feet. Mrs. Sedgewick stopped, putting the broom down and her free hand on her hip. "Didn't you remember what I told you about that cat?" she scolded.
"No, not really. Why would you chase such a sweet cat with a broom? Look, she's limping."
"He?" asked Gabrielle.
"Yes," the woman scowled. "He's big and mean like an old tomcat."
The cat laid its head against Gabrielle's ankle, relaxing a little but tensed should the woman decide to poke it with a broomstick.
Gabrielle shrugged. It was a female; she didn't feel like beating a mute point right now. Mrs. Sedgewick continued, "If you don't believe me that the cat is meaner than Hell, you should see the Taylor's boy."
The blonde scrunched her brows. "I'm sorry, I don't know the Taylors," she admitted.
Mrs. Sedgewick checked her watch. "If it wasn't such an ungodly hour I'd introduce you to them. I best be going," she said, turning around, using the broom as a hiking stick to get back to the house.
"You're damn lucky this round, cat," Gabrielle told the black kitty, watching her irrational neighbor walk away. "You better stay indoors." The cat didn't move away as she lifted it. Taking her into the house, setting her on the couch, she sat beside it and pondered, "You need a name."
"Meow," the cat said, crawling beside Gabrielle's leg and curling into a ball.
"Well, they think of you as a strange cat. A stranger." She kept having a name pop in her mind, and couldn't figure out why. "Xena sounds like a good name, don't you think."
"Meow," the cat said.
"Xena it is."
Mrs. Sedgewick insisted on introducing Gabrielle to the Taylors, despite Gabrielle's protests that she needed to run her errands before it got hot outside. Summer was making its call, despite spring's attempts to keep the weather pleasant and livable. A hot front was moving in, according to the news, and perchance of a monsoon later in the evening, which would flood the streets, making it impossible to run errands tomorrow.
Mrs. Sedgewick knocked on the Taylor's door. Mrs. Taylor opened it. She was rather young---not more than thirty, Gabrielle deduced. Close to her age. "Come in, come in," Mrs. Taylor greeted.
She saw the newcomer. Mrs. Sedgewick, realizing she wasn't minding her manners, quickly introduced them. "This is Gabrielle Neville. Gabrielle, this is Marlene Taylor."
"Nice to meet you," Mrs. Taylor oozed.
"Nice to meet you too," Gabrielle repeated, wary.
A young boy ran up and cried out, "Mommy, Mommy."
"What is it, Sam?" she asked. In the daylight, Gabrielle could see the deep scar on the child's face. It ran from his temple to the tip of his chin, dangerously close to the artery that ran on the side of his head.
"See what I mean?" Mrs. Sedgewick said, pulling her aside. "That cat maliciously attacked him!"
She was too busy talking on the phone to notice her son Sam leave the house that late evening. It never occurred to her he would walk right into Harm's way...
The silent prowler slithered through the trees, making her evening rounds. The Keeler's cat was indoors glaring at her, resentful she dared trod on his territory. She perched upon the fence post of the Taylor's house, watching the little boy run around.
She smelled an oncoming storm, but knew there was enough time to finish her rounds before finding shelter. She had a bad feeling about the boy----and lots of remorse, too. She remembered the swipe all too well.
She should have never been in the Taylor yard in the first place, she realized. Marlene was cleaning the pool out, her back turned towards her boy. He was stomping around in the bushes, and disturbed her resting grounds.
"Kitty," he cried out, reaching his hand out and pulling her by the tail and dragging her. Pain radiating from all points he tugged, in desperation she reached a paw out and batted him swiftly.
Unfortunately, her claws retracted in the process of doing so. Straight from his temple to his chin the swipe was eternalized upon the little boy's face. Sam screamed, sending Xena into a dead run. Mrs. Taylor had seen the cat run out of sight just in time to know who did that to her little boy.
The little boy has a real penchant for trouble, Xena mused to herself. She heard a faint rustle in the bushes, and perked her ears. She let her pupils dilate, making out a very unwelcome shadow looming within.
Oh no, that's Crazy Fool, she realized. Crazy Fool the Coyote. She got closer to where the boy was, ready to launch down should the coyote approach Sam.
Crazy Fool was no stranger to mysterious abductions. When they were small enough trophies, Xena was usually blamed, such as when a pair of chickens were found in bits and pieces, but after Crazy Fool had dragged off a little girl's 4H lamb, the neighbors realized that Xena couldn't have possibly been behind all the thefts.
Crazy Fool was none too fond of Xena after the time she chased him out of the yard where he was stalking a Maltese dog. He hated her with a vengeance, having the pleasure of running her up a tree many times just to rattle her. This time, vengeance would be sweet...
Crazy Fool watched Sam intently, the little child squealing with delight as he caught a frog soaking in a puddle. He slithered closer, until he was in striking distance...
Xena made her move. Rocketing off the fence, she ran and pounced on Crazy Fool, clinging to his back and digging her claws in. The yelp of the coyote caught Sam's attention; recognizing not one but two threats, little mischief maker Sam ran into the house, screaming and crying.
Marlene Taylor said into the phone, "Just a minute," and knelt down to ask him what was wrong.
"I was outside an'...an' dis coyote was watching me an' trying to get me an'...an' the nasty cat jumped on his back an'...an'..." Sam sputtered, bawling. Marlene looked outside, to see in disbelief that the Nasty Cat had actually committed an act of heroism. She opened the sliding glass door, shaking her fists.
"SHOO!" she yelled loudly. Xena and Crazy Fool dispersed immediately.
"You'll pay for this," Crazy Fool snarled as they departed. "No one deprives me of dinner and gets away with it."
The rain pattered on the porch roof, twinkling to a steady, soothing rhythm. The neighbors decided to have a get together, mainly for the reason to determine what to do should the impeding storm cause damage. It was a good excuse to exchange gossip, in the least.
The men preferred to hover in the rain, inhaling a can or two of Miller Light while gathered in a circle around the barbecue. The more sensible women of the neighborhood took refuge under the porch, amiably talking.
"...and Nasty Cat jumped on the coyote's back just as he was about to attack Sam!" Marlene said, animated her storytelling.
Linda Sedgewick shook her head. "Unbelievable! You sure that was Nasty Cat?"
Marlene shrugged. "It was limping."
Gabrielle piped in, "That would be your reputed Nasty Cat, then."
"Well, come in," Gabrielle told the black cat as Xena unhappily made her way through the water. The storm already gave a shallow blanket of water in the middle of the street that was unavoidable for all to step through.
"Meow," Xena mewed.
"I suppose you're hungry, aren't you?" Gabrielle said. "Well, it's a good thing I bought some cat food while I was at the store, wasn't it?"
"Meow," Xena purred, the word 'cat food' having caught her attention.
"Alright, let me go find it and I'll feed you." Gabrielle went into the pantry, got the cat food, then closed the pantry door, bringing the cat food in. She tore open the bag, then scooped out a cupful for the cat.
"Meow," Xena mewed, delightfully devouring the cat food Gabrielle put on the floor. It brought a smile to Gabrielle's face, to be able to take loving care of one of God's creatures....
"Oh my," she said, looking at the clock. "It's getting late." Yawning on cue, she then said, "I better go to bed. Night, Xena." She turned off the kitchen light, letting the cat eat in peace and quiet.
She was quite alarmed to her something jump on the bed not too much later after she got into her nightgown and went to bed. She cracked one green eye open to see it was Xena. The cat happily made her way up towards Gabrielle, purring, then settling into a ball beside her new chosen human.
She never got a close enough look at Xena, but there was something about the blue eyes that reminded her of something, she couldn't remember what. Perhaps it was from her dream last night of a beautiful dark woman with blue eyes in Hell....
Maybe she had escaped. Or maybe it was just coincidence. Gabrielle didn't care. She was content now. As was Xena. Sweet dreams...
Written June 28th -- July 2nd, 2000
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