Standard disclaimers: As always I do not own these characters, just the
idea behind the story. This story does show a loving sexual relationship
between two woman. If that sort of thing bothers you than this would not be
the story for you to read. This story begins shortly after the episode The
Abyess Comments are welcomed and encoruged at

On Her Own Terms

Marion D Tuttle

A velvety blackness had desended with the setting of the sun, the only
light coming from the camp fire. The silence that filled the space around
the campsite only seemed to add to the darkness. The usual task of
prepareing for the the night having been completed there was nothing to do.
Nothing but sit and stare into the flames waiting for a sign, any sign that
the inner turmoil that raged within her compainion was something she could
help with. Xena didn't like feeling like this, she was used to being in
control of things. She was used to being in control of any and every
situation. This was something that was beyond her control and she didn't
know what to do about it.

When Gabrielle had been delerious and spoke to her, thinking she was Hope,
Xena understood. She understood for maybe the first time the pain and
angish the Bard had felt at the loss of her daughter. She had finally
admitted it to herself. Hope was Gabrielle's daughter, even with her evil
father's influance she still was half of her soulmate. She couldn't help
but wonder if Gabrielle had been right, if Hope had been given the chance,
would she have beat her dark side? Xena had never really appreciated the
feelings Gabrielle had been forced to deal with until she was faced with
nearly the same delima with her own daughter. Eve having turned into the
monster Livia, and Xena not being able to kill her. Eve had changed, would
Hope have done the same? They would never know, or that's what Xena had
thought. Now they had the chance to find out.

When Eve had first told them about this Xena felt the old anger and
resentment rise. To her Hope represented nothing but pain. The loss of
Gabrielle's blood innocence, the pain of the rift it had caused between
them with the despair Xena had felt at her son, Solan's death. Xena had
wanted nothing more than to tell her daughter to forget about it, not to
even say anything to the Bard. But she realized she didn't have that right.
This was a choice Gabrielle had to make and Xena had sworn that no matter
what her partner had decided to do she was going to give her the full love
and support she deserved. After everything she had stuck with the warrior
through she could do nothing less.

Suppressing the urge to reach out and draw the young woman into her arms
Xena moved a little closer, hoping to show Gabrielle that she was there for
her without crowding her. Finally when she thought she could take the quite
no longer Gabrielle spoke in hushed tones. "You haven't said one word to me
since Eve told us about this. What do you think?"

Xena felt the tightness in her chest, every fiber of her being wanted to
scream 'leave well enough alone' 'Don't drag all this pain out again.' But
in her heart she already knew Gabrielle was going to want this chance to
see what would happen if her daughter could have been raised by them. Or at
the very least if she hadn't killed her in the lava pit and then again in
her family's barn. Hoping for just the right words to answer her question
Xena answered. "In this case what you think is more important. I want you
to do what you feel is right..." Lowering her eyes to the ground she went
on. "I've interfered far to much as it is... If I hadn't."

Gabrielle lifted her face gently so she could look into deep blue eyes,
swimming in the beginings of tears. "No Xena, We both hurt each other
deeply. But we both did what we thought was right, we can't change that. I
have spent so much time the past year wondering what would have happened if
I had done things diffrently. I've done things I never thought I would be
capable of...Some of it has been very bad, that's true, but most of it has
been good and that is largely because of you Xena. You are the reason I
have been able to grow."

"I've forced you into things....If it hadn't been for me..."

"If it hadn't been for you I would have had a boring life in the village,
being a wife and Mother and always wondering what might have been." Xena
had never told Gabrielle about the alternante life that she would have had
that had been shown to her by the fates. She never knew that had Xena not
been there to save her she would have ended up as a bitter slave. Even
knowing this, the warrior still felt guilt at times for the things that had
happened to Gabrielle. True she had saved her from slavery but what about
all the other things. She couldn't help but wonder what would have happend
if after she had saved Gabielle she had just walked away from the young
blonde when she had followed her. The truth of the matter was as many times
as she had thought about leaving Gabrielle behind for her own good, had
even tried to, she knew in her heart she couldn't. And that led her to
berate herself for being selfish.

Searhing the eyes of her soulmate Xena knew that Gabrielle needed to make
the choice that was going to be best for her. And that would be to see if
Hope could have been saved. "Gabrielle, from what I am understanding in
this, Micheal is offering you the chance to bring Hope back...To see if she
has any chance of being turned from evil. I think you have to do this. Even
if she doesn't change at least you will know, there won't be any more

The saddness that she saw in Gabrielle's eyes tore at her. "But how will
you feel? Seeing Hope again, after what happened with Solan? Can you handle
that Xena? Maybe we should just leave well enough alone. You have told me
so many times that you can't change the past?"

"That's just it though in this case maybe we can. I think you need to do
this... I think we need to do this."

Tears streamed down the bard's face as she moved into her warrior's
outstreached arms. "Just when I think I couldn't love you any more than I
already do, you do something to prove me wrong. I know this is going to be
hard for you..."

Xena pulled her bard closer. "That doesn't matter, none of that
matters...All that is important to me is giving you the chance you never
had...The chance I took from you."

"We're agreed then." Gabrielle smiled at her warrior "Let's go tell Eve
that we want to do this.


Eve had been waiting for her Mother and Gabrielle to come back ever since
she had brought them the news of Micheal's offer. She had never known Hope
herself but she had read Gabrielle's scrolls and she had heard stories from
others. Never from her Mother or Gabrielle though, that seemed to be a
subject neither one really ever wanted to talk about the few times Eve had
tried to ask questions about the bard's daughter. She had a hard time
understanding why now, after everything finally seemed to be setteling down
Micheal felt the need to bring this back into their lives. But as he had
explained to her, Xena and Gabrielle would never truly know peace until
this issue had been faced.

When she had asked him if he knew what the outcome was going to be. He had
told her he had no idea what was going to happen, it wasn't his place to
determine that. He had just been told that this was a choice that had to be
given to Gabrielle and Xena, what they did and the outcome relied on them
and nothing else.

She could tell by her Mother's reaction when she had first told her about
this that she was not pleased. She was surprised however by her Mother
saying that she had to tell Gabrielle. Eve had gone to Xena first in the
thoughts that that the warrior would simpley tell her to forget about it
and say nothing to Gabrielle. In a way that was what she had been hoping
for, she had come to care a great deal for Gabrielle and she knew this
could do nothing but cause her pain. But she had to admit a part of her was
proud, not only of herself for having the courage to deliver the message
she had not wanted to. But proud of the warrior for letting her soulmate
make the choice that she thought would be right.

Her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of Xena and Gabrielle returning
to the clearing the were camped in. She could tell by the looks on their
faces that they had made a desicion. "You're going to do this, aren't you?"
Was the question that came out of her mouth before she had the chance to

Gabrielle sat down next to Eve. "Yes we are." She reached for Xena's hand

A mix of emotions played through Eve's mind, of course she wanted Gabrielle
and her Mother to find peace with this. But she couldn't help feeling that
this was going to cause problems that would be beyond fixing. "Your sure?"

Xena answered her daughter's concerns with a surity she hadn't felt until
that moment. "Eve, there must be a reason Micheal told you to come to us
with this now. I don't know what that is but we have to have faith that
things are going to happen the way they are supposed to."

The bard turned to Xena with a slight smile. "I never thought I would hear
you say this. You have always been so sure we control our own destinies."

"And I still am, maybe this is just a chance for us to correct some
horrible mistakes we made. Not many people get that chance, if we're lucky
enough to get it I think we should take it that's all."


The night had passed with neither woman getting much sleep, both lost in
their own thoughts about the events that were about to unfold. They hadn't
been given a lot of detail, they hadn't even been told how Hope was going
to reenter their lives. Just that she was going to be reintroduced into
their lives today. Xena moved to put her arms around Gabrielle, only to
find she was already up out of thier bed roll. She say up to see the bard
looking into the flames of the fire they had left burning the night before.
Moving behind her lover she pulled her back against her, kissing her in top
of the head. "Dinar for your thoughts?"

At first Gabrielle didn't answer, just continued to stare into the flames.
Xena could tell that the bard's thoughts were of her daughter, more to the
point of the day she had held her daughter and dragged her to what she had
thought would be sure death in the flames of the lava pit. She had done it
to save the world from Hope's evil, and to save Xena from the death the
Fates had said would be forthcoming for the warrior if she had been the one
to kill Hope.

But somehow they had both survived that ordeal, after that Gabrielle had
found herself having to go through killing her daughter all over again.
They had thought it was over, now it would seem it wasn't. Finally the bard
spoke. "I don't know if I can handle this Xena. What if Hope can't be
changed? Can I go through that again?"

The pain ripped through the warrior, this woman was her heart and soul. to
see her seffering like this was the worst torture Xena could imagine.
"Gabrielle, I'm not going to lie to you, this is not going to be easy. And
it is possible that Hope will remain evil and not change. But you are the
strongest person I know, whatever happens we will face it together."

Their reflections on events passed were interrupted loud voices. "Sounds
like trouble." Xena told her.

With a smale smile Gabrielle answered her. "What else is new?"

Running towards the disturbance, weapons raised and at the ready, they were
greeted with the sight of about a dozen men surrounding one woman. From
their actions it looked like the men were intent on tearing the woman
apart. a piercing cry of "Ayayayayay" split the air as Xena sommersalted
her way into the middle of the fray.

She kicked two of the attakers away as soon as she landed on her feet.
Gabrielle took on two of the men, engaging them with her sais. The woman in
the middle of the crowd continued to fight. The tables were starting to
turn, before they knew what was happening the men found themselves being
soundly beaten by the three woman. Finally, good sense started to
prevail...the remaining ruffinins saw that they were fighting a losing
battle. Dropping their weapons they turned and ran. Hoping that they woman
that were soundly thrashing them would not follow.

Turning to see if the woman they had rescued was alright they found
nothing. They hadn't gotten the chance to see her face, it had been covered
by a hood. Now it was as if she had never been there. Xena looked around
and was unable to even see tracks were she may have left. A chill went
through both woman, they both had the smae thought but neither one
vocalized it, they had just had an encounter with Hope.


From her vantage point above Hope watched her Mother and Xena search for
her. She had very limited powers. Just enough in fact that she was able to
get away undetected after the beating she had taken. She cursed Micheal
again for what he was doing, but there had been no other choice. She had
been between worlds ever since she had died with her demon spawn son in her
Grandparents barn. Not really dead, but not alive either.

After her failure to kill Xena and Gabrielle the last time her Father
Dayhock had abandoned her, leaving her to whatever fate might await her.
That was where she had stayed in a limbo that was worse than death itself.
It was impossible for her to move into the next realm she had been told
because she had died with unfinised buisness, but she hadn't been told what
that was.

It hadn't been until Gabrielle had made her fevered statements in the cave.
It was then that Micheal had realized the time had come, he had taken the
information he had to his God, telling him that Gabrielle was now ready to
deal with the issues surrounding her child and so was Xena. There had been
some hesitation but as Micheal had pointed out, they deserved this one last
chance to set things right with Hope.

For her part Hope had not been so sure, true she had come to a point where
she wanted this limbo she was in to end. But she didn't really think that
Xena and Gabrielle were going to harbor any wish to see her. She still had
enough of her Father ingrained into her that she saw hate before love.

These were the thoughts that ran through her mind as she watched the two
woman search the area. 'They seem so devoted to each other' She mused. 'And
the time the speand trying to help all these people. I wonder what they get
out of that?' Her reflections were interuppted by words from below.

"What now?" Asked Gabrielle

"I'm not sure, if that was Hope we saved, we'll know soon enough. If it
wasn't then we may have other problems on our hands."

Gabrielle moved closer to Xena. "I know I have said this already, but I
just want to tell you again the fact that you are willing to do this... To
give me the chance to find out if Hope could be saved...It means a lot to
me Xena."

"We both need to know." Was the simple reply.

Hope found herself wondering at the unfamiler feelings that were passing
through her. It sounded like her Mother really did care. But that couldn't
be, she had been taught from her very first memories that all that mattered
was power. Hadn't Gabrielle abandonded her to the tender mercies of the
river? It was her Father that had saved her, it had been Dayhok that had
rescued her from the lava pit. But he had abandodned her too hadn't he?
Suddenly it occured to her, her Mother wasn't the only one that wanted
answers, she wanted some too.

A noise to their left distracted the warrior and the bard, looking at each
other Xena motioned for Gabrielle to circle around to the left while she
went to the right. Maybe this could be what they had been waiting for. They
moved on silent feet towards the noise they had heard. They came face to
face, not finding the source of what they had heard. "Something strange is
going on here."

Xena nodded her agrement to Gabrielle's comment. "It fits in with the rest
of the events that have been going on though doesn't it?" the warrior
looked around them her senses on edge, something was getting ready to
happen, of that she was sure. Gabrielle sensed it too. "Let's head back to

Walking back into the clearing they had spent the night in they saw a
figure sitting, talking to Eve. In a way they weren't suprised, they had
almost expected it. They knew before they got close enough to hear that the
cloaked figure they recognized as being the woman that they had saved
earlier was Hope.

Eve looked up from the conversation she was having with Hope. "Here they
are, I knew it wouldn't be long before they got back."

Hope turned to face the two woman she had been sent back to see again.
"Mother,'s been a long time."

Gabrielle felt her heart lurch in her chest, here she was, faced with the
daughter she had wanted so despretly to save but had died at her hand on
more than one occasion. "Hope...I don't know what to say.."

The younger version of the bard felt her anger rushing to the fore front.
She had been sitting here listinening to this Eve woman tell her of all the
good Xena and Gabrielle had done in the world. How they had found her when
she had become a murdering bitch and had turned her from her darkness. Why
hadn't her Mother loved her enough to try and do that for her? "You don't
know what to say Mother? You didn't have any trouble telling me the last
time we met what you thought did you?"

Her heart ached to reach out to this woman, to tell her that she had been
her child, would always be. But she had done what she thought was right.
Even given her gift for words though whatever she said in her mind sounded
weak at best.

Xena watched the silent exchange going on betwen the two woman that were a
mirror image of each other. It stuck her again how the woman she loved and
the woman that she had hated above all others could be so much alike on the
surface and so diffrent underneath. Her first reaction was to tear this
woman apart for causing Gabrielle pain. But her quick reactions to Hope had
been a large part of the problem in the past. No she was not going to do
that again, as long as Hope did not appear to be causing a threat to
Gabrielle's safty she was not going to take action against her.

"Hope I wish I could just say a few words and make everything better but I

"No Mother you can't"

"Was this your idea? To come back and try to resolve things?"

The thought occured to Hope to lie, but what would be gained at this point
from that? The truth was she was as much in the dark about this as anyone
else. "I don't know why I am here to tell you the truth. I was told I had
unfinished buisness. Maybe I was sent here because I was not successful in
killing you." She sneered at Xena

Eve inturupted "Hope you know that isn't true!"

"Of course you would say that, you preach of all this love and light but I
don't see it."

"That's because you have never known love in your life, if you would give
it a chance."

She wirled angrily on Eve. "That's right, I never have known love! All I
have ever known is a Mother that abandoned me in a river, tried to poison
me and finally threw me into a pit of lava. All because the mighty Warrior
Princess deemed me unsavable!"

Xena could see the tensions escalating, she knew something had to be done
soon. "Hope can I talk to you for a minute...alone?"

All three woman stooped at this request, Xena alone with Hope? This
couldn't be good, Gabrielle started to protest but before she could say
anything Hope answered. "I think that might be a good idea Xena, we never
really have had the chance to talk have we?"

She turned and walked towards the forest, expecting Xena to follow her.
"Xena, I don't think I like this."

"Gabrielle I promise I won't hurt her."

"But what about you? What if she does something to hurt you?"

Hope heard the concern in her Mother's voice for the warrior and it was
like a kinfe in her heart. Once again she was demonstrating where her
loyilties lie. "Are you coming Xena?" She called over her shoulder.

"I'll be right there." Looking deeply into the bards eyes she held onto
her. "I can't explain it, but I think this is something that I need to do.
Hope doesn't have any chance of finding her true self and we can't help her
until she gets past her anger at me. She sees me as the reason you betrayed


Xena place a finger over Gabrielle's lips to quite her protests. "Don't ask
me how I know this I just do. Trust me?"


With a quick reassuring kiss Xena walked to catch up with Hope. They walked
in silence for a while until Xena was sure they were out of ear shot of the
campsite. "Ok Xena you wanted to talk....Talk."

"Hope, I owe you an apology."

For the breifest of moments Hope was stunned into silence. She wasn't sure
what Xena had in mind when she asked to talk to her but this had been the
last thing she would have bet on. "You owe me an apology? Forgive me if I
seem a little slow on the uptake but just what would you be apologizing

"For everything, for my rash choices when you were a baby. My actions were
what forced Gabrielle...your Mother to do what she did. When you came back
as a child I acted on my fears instead of giving you a chance...If I hadn't
been so quick to judge you as a baby maybe Gabrielle wouldn't have been so
afraid to tell me the truth. If I had known right away...."

"If you had know right away what? You could have killed me before I got the
chance to kill your precious son? Xena I wasn't there for a family reunion
I was there to destroy you. And I very nearly succeded, the fact that you
and my Mother were able to reconcile after what happened still astounds me
today. You should have killed her for what happened."

Xena looked done at her boots with a mixture of anger for this woman and
her apparent lack of feelings and shame for the fact that she had in fact
tried to kill the bard. "I did." She said quitely "I went to the Amazon
village, dragged her behind my horse for miles and then tried to throw her
of a cliff."

Hope had known none of this. "You mean to tell me that you tried to kill my
Mother? Do you really expect me to believe that? I have seen the lengths
you two will go to for each other. She tried to kill her own child for you
Xena...why would she do that for someone that had tried to kill her?"

"Because that is what can happen Hope when you let hate take over, at that
moment in time I hated Gabrielle, I hated her for what I saw as her
betrayal, I believed she had thrown you from that cliff. And then to find
out not only had she lied about that she had been lying to me about who you
were. Because of that I blamed her for my son's death. And she hated me, in
her eyes I had not only forced her to give up her child once, but after she
had made what to her was the ultmate sacrifice of posioning you I turned my
back on her and walked away. There was so much pain there and the hate
drove us both. The only thing that brought us back together is we realized
that the love we felt was stronger than all the hurts and betrayals. The
only way we could survive what had happened to us both was to hang onto

It wasn't often that Xena said that much at one time to anyone, but her
words seemed to have an effect. "Still, that doesn't explain why after
everything you feel the need to apologize."

The warrior knew she had to choose her next words very carefully, they
could well have a major impact on how things turned out. "I feel that
because I feel now that if I hadn't been so quick to condem you maybe
things might have been diffrent. Your Mother tried to tell me that she
could help you get past the darkness born into you. Much like she helped me
get past my dark side. I wasn't willing to take that risk. If I had given
her the chance to raise you....who knows things might have been diffrent."

A sharp retort sprang to Hope's lips, but she swallowed it back. Could what
she was hearing be true? Even if it was what diffrence did it make really?
Her Father had taught her that her Mother never cared and she had become
bitter in her belif of that. It had to be true, she had seen the way her
Mother fought for those she loved but she hadn't been willing to do that
for her. "You have given me some things to think about Xena." Was all she
had said.

"I know I don't have any right to ask you for any favoers Hope, but I am
going to ask for one anyway."

This made Hope raise a quizacal brow at the warrior, who was struck again
by how much this young woman looked like her Mother. "What favor could you
possibly ask of me Xena?"

"Don't make the same mistake I did. Don't rush to judgement on your Mother
Hope. She did love you, she stil does in her heart. you are her child and
the things that have happened have weighed heavily on her heart. Take the
time to get to know her before you condemm her for what you believe to have
been her crimes against you." With that Xena turned from Hope to head back
to their camp, leaving Hope alone with her thoughts.

Hope watched the retreting form of the warrior, the thought occured to her
that she could kill Xena right there with no effort. Her gaurd was
completly down and one quick blast with even her weakened powers would send
the warrior to the other side. She even raised her hand to send a jolt
through Xena's body, but something stopped her. Maybe it was worth waiting
for a while, just to see what happened.

Xena made her way back into camp, she could see the tension in Gabrielle's
features. Before the bard could ask Xena eased her fears. "Hope is fine, we
talked." She shook her head as if to clear it. "I don't know if it did any
good. She is very angry, the sad truth is I can't really say I blame her
for that."

Gabrielle looked at Xena, confussion kintting her brow. "What are you
trying to say?"

"I'm saying that I can't really blame her for her anger where I am
concerned Gabrielle. Maybe if I just give you two some time...."

Looking at Xena only one thought sprung to Gabrielle's mind. She reached
out, taking her lover by the hand. "Don't you even think of walking out on
me now Warrior Princess. We're in this together remember?"

Even with all the turmoil that surronded them it warmed Xena's heart to
hear these words from her bard. Pulling the smaller woman closer she
answered. "Forever."

Feeling that they were no longer alone the looked up to see Hope standing
at the edge of their campsite. Gabrielle had to fight the urge to run to
her Daughter, taking her presence as a sign that she was at least willling
to try. All three woman stood wordlessly looking at each other. Hope was
the one to finally break the silence. "I won't say that we are going to
turn all warm and fuzzy now, but I have to admit something. If nothing else
I would like some answers." She looked at Gabrielle. "I realized that the
only things I have ever had to form an opinon on is what my Father told
me...Maybe there is another side to all of this."

Gabrielle moved towards her daughter but was stopped by Hope rasing a hand.
"I do think we should talk, but not tonight. I need some time...I'll
contact you in the morning."

Watching her child retreat back into the forest Gabrielle had to fight the
desire to go after her. She wanted to tell her the had lost to much time
already. She felt Xena's hand on her arm. "Let her go Gabrielle. It took a
lot for her to come to you like this, give her the time she asked for."

Tears formed in the bard's eyes as she nodded her agreement. "Your right
Xena. this is just so much harder than I ever thought it would be."

"We knew when Eve told us about this that it wouldn't be easy. We still
don't know what is going to happen but at least she is willing to talk."
Putting her arms around the bard she leaned down and kissed her "I know it
doesn't seem like it right now, but this is happeneing for a reason. right
now though I think you need to try and get some rest."

Gabrielle knew slepp would most likely elude her that night but she agreed
to at least try and get some sleep. Neither of them noticed Eve as she
slipped out of the encampment.


Hope hadn't gone far when she left the clearing. Part of her had wanted to
do nothing but just keep going. She really saw no point in this excerises
in futility. She was torn between wanting answers to the questions she had
and feeling like the whole thing was useless. She thought about just going
off and picking up where she had left off, but this time in her own name,
not in the name of a Father that had abandonded her.

That was the thought that kept her rivited to the spot she sat in now. a
small cliff over looking the campsite of her Mother and the warrior. What
was it that held her attention to these two? She should just kill them both
and be done with it. That was the thought that played through her head, but
a small part of her kept breaking through, telling her that she needed to
resolve the questions in her mind if she was ever to know any peace in her
own heart. It seemed strange that she should want that, and yet she did.
For a woman whos whole life had been directed towards destruction and
mayhem she despretaly wanted to find some peace.

A small sound behind her snapped her thoughts back to her surroundings. she
spun around, seeing Xena's daughter stand there brought a cold smile to her
lips. "Here on you Mother's orders are you?"

"No Hope, Mother and Gabrielle have no idea I came to find you. you can see
for yourself they are in camp..."


Return to The Bard's Corner