Hope And Light

by Lawlsfan
lawlsfan@aschweb.com

Mild Alternative Content: This vignette depicts deep and enduring love between two consenting adults who just happen to be women. In this story, they share a special ‘something’ that some may find offensive, although I will always fail to see the reasoning of that. So although I truly hate having to disclaim this content I suppose I am bound by convention to do so.

Mild Spoilers: Elements of the third season "Rift" and fifth season "Baby Arc" have been borrowed and incorporated into this story.

Xena:Warrior Princess, its characters, and all related materials are the property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures 1995-2000. The story idea in "Hope and Light" is the sole property of the author (me). This story may not be copied and/or reproduced in any form without express written consent from the author. "Hope and Light" was completed on 2/27/00.

Feedback is always welcome at: lawlsfan@aschweb.com . Don’t be shy, please write and tell me how you feel.

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Stretched out on the grassy hillside overlooking a broad sunlit meadow, the warrior princess was feeling content, more content than she’d been in a long time it seemed. She was watching the young girl running and laughing and trying to keep the parchment at the end of her string afloat in the nearly nonexistent breezes that occasionally ruffled the warrior’s raven hair and only served to raise her spirits further. A broad smile crossed her lips when the girl turned her green eyes toward her and flashed a beautiful toothy grin, her blonde hair tousled and brilliantly reflecting Apollo’s morning rays. Such purity and such innocence the warrior recognized in that face. But just as suddenly as it had appeared her smile slowly faded at the thought of the life the youngster was unwittingly being thrown into. A gut wrenching shudder clutched at her heart; how long could the innocence and purity stand up under the hail of blood and evil that would inevitably rain down upon them because of who the warrior was, of whom she may still be if it weren’t for…

Xena heard it just as the girl once again turned to raise the fallen parchment above her head in hopes of turning it loose to fly free in the breezes. The warrior recognized the sound immediately as the distinctive zing of an arrow leaving a bow and following closely thereafter, another. In a mere heartbeat the warrior was in action, innately calculating instantaneous trajectories and distances. She moved at the speed of lightning lithely gliding down the hill and over the ground, and several somersaults later was holding two arrows, one in each hand poised mere inches away from the young girl’s heart. Glancing quickly and reassuringly at the girl’s startled and wide-eyed face, she closed her own eyes and braced herself. For as she’d caught the second arrow she’d also heard the third already in flight and she knew it was too late to alter its course. It pierced her side with a sickening thud and immediately brought her to her knees. As she felt the blackness threatening, she looked deeply into those eyes of green and thought she saw hope. Then, there was nothing.

******

"Xena! She’s my child…!" Gabrielle screamed.

"She is not a child. She’s a vessel for evil, nothing more." The warrior hissed in response.

The voices faded once more into memory as Xena slowly opened her eyes and without benefit of lighting, looked around her trying to pierce the odd darkness that blanketed her.

"Where am I?" Her whispered voice reverberated and echoed around her as though she was in a deep cavern and then the deathly silence settled in again.

"Finally, you’re here." A voice radiated from out of the darkness, a very familiar voice but one that held a distinctively different edge from that which she loved to hear first thing every morning and last thing every night before she closed her eyes.

"Gabrielle?" she called out tentatively.

"You’ve come home warrior princess."

Xena strained again to see through the darkness around her, tossing her head from side to side. ‘Where am I? Why can’t I see her?’ It was then that she realized she could not move her arms or her legs, they were captured in some sort of restraints. The muscles in her extremities strained until they ached against whatever it was that held her but to no avail, she was captured. "A-a-ack! What is this…?"

"Oh Xena, don’t fight it. This…is your home."

"What?!" The warrior struggled at the restraints. "You’re not Gabrielle."

"Oh you’ve always been so amazingly deductive warrior." Xena sensed a movement to her right and turned her head toward the voice, which continued in a raspy tone. "Except when it comes to accepting the special virtues of certain…children."

Xena’s eyes opened wide in sudden recognition yet still she could not pierce the darkness that engulfed her like the bowels of a tomb. "Hope," she hissed and strained again at her restraints. "NO! This can’t be, this is a dream. Or I’m dead and this is…"

"Oh Xena, why do you fight the darkness? This IS your home."

"This is not my home!" She continued to struggle though her muscles were beginning to feel like they were on fire. "My home is in the light with…Gabrielle."

"Dear, dear mother." The voice softened a bit. "I do miss her you know. Just like any daughter would miss her loving mother. But you, Xena you never gave us a chance to…"

"That’s because I saw your darkness for what it truly was before it was too late."

An evil sounding snicker arose from the blackness to the warrior’s left. Her head swung in that direction following the sound but still unable to see the source.

"Ah that’s funny. You, the darkest pot calling the kettle black. Xena, really…"

"For the greater good you had to be destroyed."

"Oh, and you, the destroyer of nations, had to be given a chance to change and find the light in my mother but I was not permitted? Just who were you to judge?"

"Your mother wasn’t strong at the time, she wasn’t thinking clearly. I had to…"

"She was being my mother, Xena. Wouldn’t you fight for your child?"

Xena closed her eyes to the darkness and allowed a tear to escape and roll down her cheek. "Yes," she said quietly.

"For the child that you love?"

"Yes!" Xena screamed in frustrated resignation and struggled once more with the restraints before she fell quiet in near exhaustion. Another tear escaped her eye and rolled lazily down her cheek. "Yes, she would. Your mother loved you very much, Hope."

The warrior princess lay in deathly silence once more with nothing but the sound of her own breathing echoing in her ears. She tuned her senses trying to pick up any movement but heard nothing. Then she saw it, a dim barely visible light flickering softly above her head. It dimmed and brightened several times before it slowly began to move away from her into the cavernous blackness.

"Thank you, Xena," the raspy voice was heard to exclaim softly as the light was swallowed up by the darkness once more.

The warrior blinked away her tears and tried to lift her arms again but the restraints still held her in place. She closed her eyes and considered her situation. ‘All right, Hope is gone but I’m still here so how…?’ Her eyes abruptly shot open. "Wait a minute. Hope is not gone." She said defiantly and struggled with the restraints again. Thinking she’d felt them budge just a little she softly continued, "Hope is a child." She managed to free her right arm and continued working on the left. "Hope is my child." Her right arm sprang free suddenly and she sat up in the darkness reaching out and feeling around for the restraints on her legs. "And by the gods, hope is worth fighting for."

Just as she felt her legs break free she heard another voice radiating through the darkness. It was very melodic to her ears and she shivered with her instantaneous recognition of it.

"Xena?"

She turned toward where she thought the sound had come from and saw a light, a very bright warmly glowing light coming toward her, beckoning for her to follow.

"Xena, please come back. I need you. We need you," the voice said again as the light came closer and closer and Xena felt its warming rays gently envelop her, lifting her upward out of the darkness.

"Gabrielle?"

*****

The warrior opened her eyes, looked around her, and found herself staring into a sea of green, the worried eyes of both her soulmate and her daughter. Suddenly she found herself being literally showered in feathery kisses from two pairs of overjoyed lips.

"Xena! Momma!" The two shouted in unison as they both literally fell on top of her in exhausted happiness.

"Hey, ouch!" The warrior exclaimed as she felt a searing pain in her side.

Her two favourite girls settled back onto their heals and tried very hard to appear apologetic but their broad, joyful smiles just wouldn’t fit the mold. They all gazed at each other in silence for a long time, lingering on the expressions and features and knowing how close they had come to losing it all.

"Xena, we thought you’d given up…." Gabrielle said quietly breaking the silence.

The warrior reached up and placed her hand lovingly on the bard’s cheek. "Gabrielle, I would never give up on you and…" She hesitated and turned toward Eve who was still grinning broadly with her tiny fingers twirling her mother’s raven colored hair. "…Our daughter."

The bard’s eyes suddenly began to glisten with tears of pure happiness as she bent down and tenderly placed a lingering kiss on Xena’s lips then placed her forehead against her warrior’s. "Our daughter, Xena?"

"Yes."

Gabrielle pulled away and gazed deeply into the warrior’s eyes. "Our hope," she whispered.

"Oh yes," Xena said with a wide smile.

Gabrielle reached over and draped her arm across Eve’s little shoulder pulling her close, then turned her tearing eyes back toward her warrior. "Thank you, Xena."

Xena gazed from her daughter to her soulmate. "Thank you for bringing me home."

Lovingly engulfed in her family’s arms the warrior turned her eyes toward the darkening horizon and watched as the last of Apollo’s rays vanished behind a far ridge. She smiled broadly and then closed her eyes in contentment, knowing that after the darkness there would be light again. Grinning broadly, she kissed the bard on the forehead and pulled her daughter closer to her. Yep, there would always be light in her life, and hope.


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