Disclaimer: Theres sex and violence in this story, and the only characters that belong to me are the ones NOT seen in the series.
Studies In Light
Chapter Four-Evenings Love
Written By: Caina Q. Fuller
I cant believe what Im seeing. Gabrielle said. She was standing on the outer rim of the camp theyd made for the evening. Sitting around the fire as the sun began its decent behind the mountains was Xena (still dressed as Athenas Champion), Callisto and a younger version of herself. To see Callisto, one of the people she had hated most in the world for killing the only man shed ever loved hanging on desperately to the girl who was the innocent child she used to be before shed met Xena It was strange to say the least.
The younger Gabrielle was eyeing her older self as well. Gabrielle had spent the last hour telling them of the life shed left behind in her own universe and none of them could believe it. The young Gabrielle stood and walked over to her.
So Im supposed to become a warrior? A warrior who kills people? I cant imagine that.
Not necessarily, Xena answered. They had barely managed to escape Athena, and Xena had taken a small but nasty cut to her left arm to save this younger version of Gabrielle. For now however, they were safe.
You dont have to make the same choices I have, Gabrielle explained. She ran a hand over her younger selfs strawberry blond hair. You and I are two different people. To tell you the truth, sometimes I wish I had never
Her eyes met Xenas and she left the sentence hanging in the air. Unfortunately her alternate tried to pick up where she left off. You wish youd never met Xena?
No, Gabrielle said, a little more sharply than shed intended. She softened her tone at the look of hurt in her younger selfs eyes. No. I would be incomplete without her. I was going to say that sometimes I wish I had never touched a weapon. Gabrielle, hold on to your innocence. Once you lose it, you can never get it back. Tell me, how is Perdiccus?
Gabrielle gave her a frown of confusion. Ive never met him. Perdiccus Should I look for him?
Gabrielle was saddened at the lack of recognition in her alternates eyes but it may have been just as well. She wanted this girl to know the happiness shed known with Xena, and that wouldnt be possible with Perdiccus in the picture.
No, never mind.
Callisto still sat by the fire, hugging herself and looking between Xena and the two Gabrielles. I was an evil warrior who killed your husband and did all those horrible things? Then I became Xenas daughter?
In an unusual display of kindness Xena made an effort to comfort the girl. Not you. Someone else.
But you two are lovers on her world. I guess that means you dont need me anymore Gabrielle.
Callisto stood from her place by the fire and ran into the trees. She didnt want anyone seeing her cry, especially Xena. It seemed from the story Gabrielle had told them the Warrior Princess was determined to make her miserable regardless of what world they were on.
Callisto, wait! Gabrielle took off into the forest after her friend, confused by the sudden display of what looked like jealousy on the surface. When they were alone again, Xena went to Gabrielle.
I dont think this thing with me and the other Gabrielle is going to work out. Look at her! Shes practically a child and shes already got her own girlfriend.
No, I dont think its like that with them.
Xena had been willing to risk her life to save the three women but she wasnt about to stand there while Gabrielle denied the truth of what was before them.
Come on Gabrielle, admit it. Its not meant to be.
So youre not even going to try?
With her? No, Im not. I have you. Like it or not Gabrielle, youre trapped here forever. Im meant to be with you, not this other girl.
Gabrielle turned away from Xena, the truth of her situation seeming to slap her in the face. She was indeed trapped on this world forever, and she was never going to see her Xena ever again. It was all so unfair yet she couldnt quite bring herself to regret what shed done. Though the Lila of this world was not her sister, she couldnt have loved her any more if she were. She wouldnt have been able to live with herself knowing shed allowed an innocent to die when there was something she could have done to save her. Especially when that someone wore the face of her sister.
So you just expect me to forget my Xena and live happily ever after here with you?
I dont expect you to forget her. Xena pulled Gabrielle around to face her. I just want you to give us a chance. I know you could come to love me every bit as much as you did her. Gabrielle, youre good for me. I need you.
Gabrielle searched Xenas eyes and found nothing but truth within. Xena honestly believed she needed her and part of Gabrielle agreed. That had been the reason shed stayed as long as she had right? To try and point this Xena on the right path? Now she was here for the rest of her life, it wouldnt hurt to try.
I only ask one thing of you.
Dont rush me. If it happens then it happens, but dont try to force it. Accept the possibility we may never be lovers.
If I have to be content with nothing more than your friendship to have you in my life, Ill gladly accept that. I love you Gabrielle.
The words flowed from her lips so naturally that Xena wasnt even aware shed said them until a few moments later. They sounded so natural to Gabrielle that it broke her heart to know shed never hear the words come from her soul mate ever again.
Gabrielle broke the silence that wasnt entirely uncomfortable as she noticed storm clouds moving in from the north. A storm is moving in Xena. Wed better take shelter.
Xena examined the sky and agreed with Gabrielles conclusion. There arent any caves nearby to speak of, but I have some Dinars. Well take shelter in the next town.
Whos going to go and get them? Gabrielle asked. Truth be told, she needed a few moments to gather her thoughts and feelings.
Gabrielle watched Xena move into the steadily darkening forest then looked back up at the churning sky. Something about the sudden storm felt dangerous and unnatural, but she shook the thoughts away. This wasnt her sky, her world or her Xena and she would never allow herself to love this place. It would never feel like home.
There was nothing that happened on this world the mighty Zeus wasnt aware of, especially when it concerned one of his children. As his eyes looked down upon the storm brewing over his beloved Greece, Zeus knew something was amiss. Hed been sensing discord in Athena, his favorite child, as well as something new he couldnt identify. He felt as if something had happened to the fabric of the universe itself, and it was only worsening.
Athena. Come to me my child.
Hed spoken the words softly. He was the creator of the earth he called his playground and the gods that ruled over his beloved Greece always heard his voice, no matter how far from home they may be. Obediently Athena appeared before him, and bowed her head respectfully.
Zeus stood from his throne and came to stand beside her. Of all his children Athena was his favorite creation. She was wise as well as beautiful, and she was as loyal as she was obedient. They loved each other, and unlike his relationship with most other gods, he could say he genuinely enjoyed his relationship with her.
He took her out to walk above the surface of the lands, just below the rolling clouds of the storm. The cool breeze always felt good to them both, and today they had it in abundance. As they walked, they took in the site of the lives of the mortals hed created. For now there was no need for words as he simply shared the pain he could feel in her heart. However when Athena wasnt forthcoming with the truth of her recent actions that brought the storm about they were now walking beneath, he pressed the issue.
Something is troubling you my child. I feel your pain every bit as much as you do. Why dont you tell me? It might help you.
I dont think anything can ease my suffering father.
What? Athena said, looking up at him in confusion. She loved her father dearly but sometimes he said things that even her wisdom could not discern.
Time heals all wounds. Even for the gods. It is one of my favorite creations.
This storm, he said, motioning to the sky, which was beginning to churn worse and worse. It is unnatural. Demeter does not have her hand in it. You do. Tell me how it came to be.
Sensing he was stating a demand with his gentle tone and not a request, Athena launched into the account of what had happened over the past three days. When she was finished he was nodding his head and stroking his beard.
You have made a grave mistake my dear, he said. His voice reflected no anger, only disappointment, and that hurt Athena more than any punishment he could have dreamed up to mete out to her. Shed never disappointed him before, and she would never be able to take back the fact that she had this day.
What kind of mistake father?
Zeus began to explain the facts of inter-dimensional travel. You know the universe is infinite, each one separated from the next by an unknown force.
Athena nodded her head yes. Only the gods are allowed to pierce that force, I know.
Yes, and there is a reason we do not.
What is that reason? Youve never told me before.
Zeus came to a stop and at the vast ocean that was his brother Poseidons kingdom. It was one of his favorite sights when his mood was lighter. However after hearing of his beloved Athenas recent exploits he was anything but happy.
There is a delicate balance that is provided by keeping each universe separate Athena. Whenever an object passes from its home to a separate universe, even so much as a spec of dust, it upsets that balance. Gabrielle is like that speck of dust. She doesnt belong here.
Athena agreed whole-heartedly. I know father. Shes done nothing but make my life miserable since she arrived.
Zeus almost laughed at how childish Athena was being at this moment. Not because shes stolen your toy Athena. She is not of our world. Her presence here is like a virus, making our universe ill. She must go back. If she does not, she will destroy our world.
Athena nodded then straightened her back with determination. Ill kill her and that will settle the problem.
Im afraid not daughter. She must leave this world completely or this universe will collapse. Whats worse is it will cause a chain reaction-
And the other universes will fall as well?
Zeus nodded, relieved hed gotten his point across to her. Send her back my child.
But what about-
The time for being gentle was over and he reflected this in his voice. Now Athena.
Athena bowed respectfully once more. The last thing she needed was for Zeus to become angry with her and do something to punish her recent actions of poisoning their world. I will find her and send her back. But I will send her back dead.
Will that make Xena love you more or less?
I dont care about Xena anymore father. Shes become my enemy.
Zeus kissed her forehead gently. Somehow I doubt that. It is because you love her so that you are in such anguish. A word of advice my child: kill Gabrielle and you will lose the one you love. Forever.
With that Zeus was gone. He had a way of simply vanishing that she found nothing short of amazing as well as frightening. She looked down upon the earth, knowing that somewhere in her beloved Greece the woman she loved was on the run with Gabrielle. She had to find her fast. Not just to save her world and put right her wrong, but to avenge her honor as well.
By killing Gabrielle.
Amaranda looked down at her latest lover, enjoying the site of her face in the light of the fading day. Sweat still coated her brow from their impassioned lovemaking and Amaranda took in the sound of her breathing as it slowly settled into a relaxed rhythm. The woman, like all of Amarandas lovers, was a complete stranger. A whore in this small tavern in a town that she was only passing through.
As she watched the stranger sleep, Amaranda wondered just why it was she was so afraid to fall in love. She knew mentally that she wasnt bad for others. She knew people didnt die just because they loved her, yet she couldnt stop herself from believing that very same thing whenever she tried to form a lasting relationship. Every woman she met that got to close recalled the fear of loss that had haunted her since her mother had died at the hands of the army that raided her village as a child.
She died to save me, Amaranda whispered. Because her mother had loved her so much shed given her life to save her. Amaranda truly believed in her heart of hearts that if she had died with her father in the flood that had swept through her village the year before that, her mother would have been able to escape.
She wouldnt have had to worry about me, Amaranda mused.
Her father was another story. Hed loved her too. Hed loved her every bit as much as her mother which was why hed died to rescue her from the waters that had destroyed her village. Both of her parents had lost their lives to save hers, and she hated herself because of it.
After she was orphaned she learned the painful truth about men: The good ones were few and far between. As far as she was concerned, her father had only been one good man in her life and hed died because of her. How could she ever get past that?
As her eyes took in the sight of the beautiful young woman again, her heart longed to stay to get to know her. No, Amaranda thought. Im going to leave this village. I wont allow myself to stay and love her. I wont allow myself to fall in love and cause the death of another innocent person.
My poor, tortured child.
Amaranda started at the unexpected voice in her room, and she had to bite her tongue to hold back her angry remark. The voice did belong to her goddess after all. It would be unwise to be disrespectful to Athena. Besides that she loved the old gal.
My goddess. What brings you here?
Athena waved a hand over Amarandas plaything and the petite beauty faded away. No doubt Athena had placed her in her own bed to sleep so she could have time alone with her third in command.
You are the third most powerful woman in my legions Amaranda, Athena said, taking a seat on the sheets that were still sweat drenched from her passion with the tavern whore. The goddess of wisdom took in a deep breath of the scent of her guards body, and Amaranda couldnt help but to wonder just what Athena wanted here.
Second only to Xena.
A fist of fear as cold as ice grabbed onto Amarandas heart and it began to pound in its effort to break free. Athenas law stated that should something happen to her Champion the Second was to take his or her place. Now it seemed Athena was here to promote her, meaning Xena had either fallen in battle or fallen out of favor with their goddess.
Whats happened to Xena? Is she alright?
Very few things in this world could genuinely scare Amaranda, and the site of her goddess as she began to cry was one of them. Amaranda hated to admit it but shed allowed herself to love both Xena and her goddess. She began to wonder if her curse had done something to hurt the two people on this world she cared for most.
Athena please. Tell me whats wrong.
Xena is alive but she has lost my favor.
Unbelievable, Amaranda thought. Xena and Athena had practically been married. What could possibly have come between them to the image of the blond that had rescued them at Aphrodites temple days before came into mind. Amaranda knew love when she saw it, and Xena had fallen head over heels for Gabrielle upon first sight.
Apparently her instincts that had told her the new woman would be trouble for Xena and Athena had been correct. There was something in this world that could drive Athena and Xena apart, and it had come in the form of a drop dead gorgeous blond named Gabrielle.
Goddess, Im so sorry. I I dont know what to say.
Theres nothing to say really. Athena stood from the bed and walked over to the window. The sky was even darker than before, and lightning flashed bright and furious in the darkest reaches of the clouds. Athena told Amaranda everything that had happened over the past few days, including what shed learned from Zeus.
So we have to get Gabrielle back to her world. From the looks of that storm wed better do it fast.
More than that. I want her dead.
Amaranda didnt know why but her heart immediately rejected the idea of killing Gabrielle. My goddess, she may be something of a home wrecker but-
But what? Athena interrupted angrily. She wasnt about to tolerate even a hint of sympathy for Gabrielle. What?
Killing her isnt going to ease your pain over losing Xena. Whats happened has happened.
I dont believe this! Athena turned and came back towards the bed. Your on her side too!
Amaranda, still naked from her passion with the tavern whore, walked over and took Athena in her arms. Im your friend as well as your servant Athena. Im loyal to you and that means Im always on your side.
Amaranda took Athenas face between her hands. Because of the love I have for you I feel I dont have a choice but to be brutally honest with you. Do you know what attracted me to you in the first place?
Athena began to calm under Amarandas gentle touch. My legs?
They shared a brief chuckle. Your heart. Athena, you are a womans best friend. You stand up for us like no other god on Olympus. What Im trying to say is dont allow the need for vengeance to soothe your wounded pride make you go against every standard you have. Youve taught me many things, and forgiveness was one of the first. Forgiveness is the key-
-To my happiness, Athena said, finishing the sentence with her. Athena had become so obsessed with Xena over the past few years that shed forgotten what a jewel Amaranda really was. She told her so now.
Thats why you pay me the big Dinars right?
Youre my new Champion Amaranda. You will rule my legions in Xenas place. As is my custom, you will take her place in every way.
At one time the thought of becoming Athenas Champion and thereby her lover had been very appealing to Amaranda, and shed even been jealous when Xena won the position over her. Now Athena had given her what shed once sought for and she wasnt as thrilled as she should have been.
Athena noticed this. Does the thought of sharing my bed on Olympus not appeal to you anymore?
Amaranda turned away and went back to the window to examine the black clouds rolling across sky. Somehow the very heavens seemed about to fall on the earth. She debated how honest she should be with Athena, then quickly came to the decision that she would be honest with her god or she would be nothing at all.
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