Disclaimer: The characters of Xena and Gabrielle and others from the show Xena: Warrior Princess belong to MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No infringement on their rights is intended. All others are of my own creation and belong to me.

Subtext Disclaimer: This story contains references to a loving relationship between two consenting adults, who happen to be of the same sex. If this offends you, or you are under 18 years of age, or you reside in an area where this type of material is illegal, read no more. There is plenty of general fanfic out there for you. Go find it.

Violence Disclaimer: This story contains scenes of graphic violence.

Shock Factor: 5. Plan D # 22b.

Note: After this story, there won’t be anymore blood and guts for awhile.

Ann - you beta better than anybody.

Please send any comments to asdease1@gte.net

Enjoy, I hope.

part two - conclusion

Written by FlyBigD

Taking a deep breath, Ares strained, shoving the bodies on top of him aside. Rolling half onto his stomach, he grabbed something solid and pulled with his arms, until his legs slid from the pile. Getting up on all fours, he looked around at the carnage. All the way up to and over the steps of the rise that held T’s statue, there were bodies and pieces of bodies either burning, or smoldering. "Xena." Calling to the warrior, he crawled forward, searching through the bodies. "Xena! Ungara!"

"Ares." Hearing his voice, Xena tried to get free of the pile she was under. "Ares."

Scrambling toward the sound, the God of War began rolling over bodies to get to her. "Xena?"

Groaning under the weight, she fought for each breath of smoke and odious air. "Ares."

"I’m coming. Hang on." Tossing flesh aside, he caught a glimpse of her arm. Moving a few more bodies, he finally found her head. "Hang on. I’ll get ya out of there."

"Gabrielle. Find Gabrielle." Closing her eyes against the pain, she shook her head. "Leave me. Go find her."

Ignoring her, Ares got to his knees, lifting another body and throwing it as far as he could. With her upper body clear, he moved around to her head, taking hold of her shoulders. Squatting down, he pushed with his legs, pulling her from the pile. Groaning, he strained backwards, feeling his thighs begin to burn. "Aaaaaaa!" Giving one last effort, he fell back, landing on top of another pile, with the warrior on top of him. "Gotcha."

Rolling off of him, Xena slid down the stack of bodies. Landing on her butt, she sat up, leaning against something that she didn’t care what it was. Breathing heavily, she opened her eyes and saw what Ares had seen a short time before.

Sliding down beside her, he was breathing just a hard as she was. "Are you okay?"

"Gabrielle, Ares. You’ve got to find Gabrielle. I can’t get up. Please find her." Turning her head, she stared at him. "Please find her. She’s by the back wall."

"Okay, Xena. You stay here. I’ll find her." Nodding, he got to his feet and looked around. The back wall wasn’t hard to find, because it was nearly the only thing left standing. Climbing up on the closest pile of bodies, he slowly crawled over them, heading for the place he’d seen Xena lay the bard after she’d passed out. Slipping and sliding, he avoided the bodies that were on fire and managed to get to the wall without collapsing from exhaustion. Taking a deep breath, he followed the edge of the wall, stepping over the few bodies that made it that far and found the bard where she’d been left. Once there, he knelt down beside her, reaching over her body to open the leather jacket. Closing his eyes, his head dropped down and his heart let out a sigh of relief. "Thank you." Opening his eyes again, he smiled down at a face that seemed completely unfazed by what had happened and was smiling back at him. "Gabriel." Shaking his head, he stared at his son in wonder, then felt something move against his leg. Sitting back, he saw Gabrielle’s hand move and took hold of it. Giving it a squeeze, he felt her hand squeeze back and smiled. "Come on, Gabrielle. Come on." Watching her face closely, he rubbed the back of his hand against her cheek.

Grimacing, Gabrielle put her hand to her head and groaned. "Gods, I just got rid of this headache."

"Well, be thankful you have a head left to have a headache." Smiling, Ares saw her eyes open. "Hi."

Frowning, she knew the voice, but her eyes hurt too much to focus, so she closed them. "Ares?"

"Welcome back." Squeezing her hand, he pulled on her arm, trying to get her to sit up.

"Owowowow." Going up against her will, Gabrielle put both hands on her head when he let go of the other one.

"Sorry, but we’ve gotta find a way to get out of here." Leaning over her legs, he picked the Crown and hooped it over his arm, then he picked up his son. "Can you walk?"

Pushing him away, she took a deep breath. "Just give me one friggin minute, okay? My head is killing me."

"Gabrielle, we’ve gotta move. Dahok’s here somewhere and if we’re gonna get out of here, we’ve got to go now." Looking over his shoulder, he stood to search for any signs of life from the smoke.

"Where’s Xena." Wincing at the sound of her own voice, she ventured another eye opening and blinked until she could see clearly, which still hurt, but she kept them open anyway.

"Waiting for you." Bending over, Ares grabbed her under the arm, pulling her to her feet.

"Head rush." Weaving from side to side, she leaned into him and closed her eyes. "Wait." Holding up a hand, she stood up straight and held her breath unil the dizziness passed, then she opened her eyes again. "Okay."

With one arm holding his son, he guided the bard with the other, taking her back the way he’d come. "What happened to you?"

"I had the worst nightmare of my entire lifetimes." Stretching her leg, she half hopped over a body. "Is Gabriel all right?"

"What do you think." Smiling, Ares gave his son a quick visual check. "If I didn’t know better, I’d say he slept through the whole thing, like you did."

"What whole thing?" Her eyes focused on where she was stepping, she felt a tug on her arm and looked up.

Pointing out to the Hall, he shook his head.

Following his lead, she turned her head and saw the devestation. "What happened?" Whispering, Gabrielle couldn’t believe what she was looking at.

"Dahok came back." Condensing the war into three words, Ares pulled her arm again. "Come on."

Completely numbed by the sight, she followed him over a pile of bodies and didn’t know what she was crawling on. Moving in auto pilot, her eyes couldn’t believe the amount of wreckage in front of her.

Coming up on the pile where he’d left Xena, he sat up to swing his legs over and held onto his son, as he slid down.

Hearing something hit beside her, Xena opened her eyes. "Where’s Gabrielle?"

Handing the warrior his son, the God of War held his arms up to the bard. "She woke up, just as I got to her."

Putting her hands on his shoulders, Gabrielle jumped down. "Xena?" Kneeling beside the warrior, she could barely recognize her underneath all the ooze.

"Are you okay?" On the verge of breaking down into sobs, the warrior stared into her wife’s eyes.

"I’ve got a headache, but I’m okay." Nodding, she put her hands on either side of Xena’s head. "How about you?"

"I think my legs are broken, but as long as I can look at you, I’ll walk on water." Smiling, she brought her hand up to gently brush her finger tips against the bard’s cheek. "Have I ever told you how much I love you?"

"About ten times a day." Smiling back, Gabrielle pressed her lips to her wife’s.

Looking up, Ares stared at the statue of T. The figure of the woman he’d loved and lost, stood directly behind them. Her body unmatched in his mind, he saw that her likness was unmarred by the explosion and he closed his eyes against the sight. Shaking his head, he looked down at the bard and the warrior, then turned his head when something sounded from the far end of the Hall. "Dahok."

Looking as well, Gabrielle heard what sounded like bones being crushed. Closing her eyes, she squeezed them shut, then popped them back open again to look up at T. Standing up slowly, she waved to the God of War. "Ares, move Xena and Gabriel back. Hurry and gimme the Crown."

"What?" Snapping his head around, he stared in surprise.

"Give me the Crown." Holding out her hand, she wiggled her finger while her eyes shifted between Ares and the smoke. "Ares, now."

"Gabrielle, what are you doing?" Trying to get up, Xena groaned and fell back in place.

"Ares." Ignoring her wife, the bard moved away from her and took the Crown off Ares’ arm. Grabbing him by the collar, she shook his body to get him out of shock. "Ares, listen to me. Get Xena and the baby back behind the statue."

"No." Reaching out, the warrior got a hold on Gabrielle’s leg. "Ares, don’t listen to her."

Torn between the two women he had promised to protect, Ares looked to the statue for some type of guidence. Closing his eyes, he could almost hear T’s voice in his head. "Gabrielle. . . I"

"Ares, no!" Crawling over, Xena tried to get to the two, but her broken legs held her back. "Dammit." Putting the pinch on them, she started for the pair again.

"Ares, please." Glancing over her shoulder, Gabrielle could hear the sounds getting louder. "We don’t have much time." Turning back, she looked up at T. "You’re gonna have to trust me." Moving her eyes back to his, she could see the turmoil behind them. "Please. I can’t move her myself." Softening her tone, she took a deep breath. "Listen to me. It’s me he wants. Me and this Crown. Don’t ask me how I know, but I do." Searching his eyes, she smiled. "This is it, Ares. It all ends here, one way or the other and all I want to do is give him a piece of my mind. After that, he’s all yours."

Looking deep into her eyes, Ares saw the smallest of twinkles behind the dark emeralds and he also saw something else. Something that made him want to hear what she had to say to Dahok, even though he knew it may be the last words he’d ever hear. "Okay." Nodding, he leaned forward, kissing her forehead, then he turned to do as she asked.

Fighting his hands, Xena’s eyes were glued to Gabrielle. "No. Let me go. Gabrielle, don’t do this. We can get out of here."

"Xena, no." Stepping up on the platform, she placed the Crown on T’s head carefully. "I’ve got to do this."

Straining and being pummled, Ares still managed to drag the warrior and his son around to the back of the statue. Kneeling down, he grabbed Xena’s hands and stared at her intensely. "Xena, I know you’ll hate me to your dying day for all that I’ve done and I can live with that, but I’m asking you to take care of my son. He’s all I have left of T and if I die, I want to go knowing he’ll have the best." Releasing her, he looked around for some kind of weapon and found a sword stuck between two bodies. Pulling it out, he hefted it then looked at Xena. Handing the sword over to her, he looked down at the bundle in her lap. Pulling the leather away, he saw that Gabriel was alseep. Leaning down, he gave him a soft kiss. "Tell him that I loved him, Xena." Looking up into her eyes, he sat back.

Closing her eyes, the warrior squeezed the handle in her hand. "Ares." Growling out his name, she shook her head and opened her eyes.

"Xena, if you won’t do it for me, then do it for T." Smiling, he looked up at the statue. "I don’t know what she saw in me either, but she saw something and that’s all that matters to me."

Growling again, Xena sighed out the last of it. "You let him touch one hair on her head, Ares, and I’ll curse you to Gabriel to the day I die." Raising the sword, she put the edge to his neck. "And that’s a promise."

Smiling a half smile, he turned back, paying no heed to the sword. "You have my word that as long as I live, no one will hurt Gabrielle as long as I have anything to say about it." Nodding, he scooted away to find another weapon for himself.

Lowering the sword, she turned her attention to the bard. "Gabrielle."

Standing in front of the statue, facing the smoke, Gabrielle turned her head. "What?"

"I love you." Her voice low, she looked through the legs of the statue at her wife.

Sending a smile backwards, the bard nodded. "I love you, too."

Coming out of the densest part of the smoke, Dahok stepped on dead bodies, snapping their bones under the weight of his body. Moving at a liesurely pace, he laughed as he went, feeling the full strengh of his power coursing through his body. "Victory is mine! The power of Dahok has triumphed at last and the world is mine!" Roaring out the words, he made his way down what used to be an aisle and was now just a path covered in bodies. "No one can withstand my power! The world will cower at my greatness!" Laughing again, he came out of the smoke and looked down the Hall, seeing Gabrielle standing in front of a statue. "Ahhhh and what sweet spoils await the victor."

Standing alone, Gabrielle watched him get closer. Her heart was pounding, her head was throbbing, but her nerves were quiet. Despite the circumstances and the pain she was in, she was calm and more importantly, focused.

Unlike the bard, Xena and Ares were less than happy with not being out front, but they stayed where they were and watched Dahok come on. Not knowing what Gabrielle had to say, they both knew that whatever the outcome, they would be dead before they let him touch a single blonde hair. Having taken up the only weapons Ares found, they sat just behind the statue, watching carefully and fingering the two swords in their hands. Gabriel was behind them, tucked inside the leather jacket and sound asleep.

Reaching the statue of T’s father, Dahok stopped. Turning his head, he looked it up and down, then smashed the stone with his fist. "Trophies of mortal fools." Laughing, he returned his attention to the bard. "I see my plan was a success, Gabrielle. You’ve come to welcome me to my new home, as I will welcome you into my family."

"You don’t have a family anymore, Dahok." Keeping her voice calm, she stared into his eyes.

A scowl replaced the smile on his face and he shook his head. "I see that you’re not here to welcome me, but your lies are beneath you, Gabrielle."

"Would I lie about the death of my own daughter?" Taking a deep breath, she let it out as a sigh. "Hope is dead, Dahok. So is Drennan and the Destroyer. The family you sent into the void is dead."

Exchanging a surprised look, the warrior whispered to Ares. "Did she say what happened to her?"

Shaking his head, Ares’ eye were still on Dahok. "No and I have no idea what she’s talking about."

Hoping her wife didn’t have an unseen head injury, Xena sighed and returned her attention to Gabrielle. "Gods, I hope she knows what she’s doing."

"Lies. You speak lies to me." Growling, he moved closer. "My children live."

"Believe what you want to believe, because if my being here isn’t proof enough, then that’s your problem. I’m not here to argue with you." Moving her eyes upward, she stared up at him as he came a step closer.

"Then why have you come, Gabrielle?" Looking to either side of her, he chuckled. "Surely you don’t expect these weaklings to spoil my victory now, do you? When all have fallen beneath my power?"

"No, I don’t." Shaking her head. "I’m here to deliver a message."

Staring down at her, he was almost within arms reach. "You’re a messenger." Laughing harder, he smiled. "And who’s message are you delivering? Something from my brother perhaps?"

"Her’s" Pointing behind her, Gabrielle watched him closely.

Looking up at the statue, Ares couldn’t believe what he was hearing and gave Xena a worried stare, which was reciprocated ten fold, as the warrior’s face formed into a deep scowl.

"Her?" Eyeing the statue, his smiled disappeared when he saw the Crown on top of T’s head. "That Crown belongs to me!"

"Here’s the message, Dahok." Stepping back, she pressed her back against he legs behind her. "T says that if you want that Crown, you better come with something stronger than bad breath to get it."

Xena and Ares exchanged a surprised and awed look.

"Oh, my god, she’s gone insane." Ares whispered and brought his sword up.

His hands clenched in rage, Dahok swung his fist violently to the side, hitting Gabrielle in the head and knocking her into the nearby pile of dead bodies. "The Crown is mine!" Reaching for it, he stepped forward and watched his arm drop from his body, then he felt a pain in his chest. Howling in agony, he looked down and saw a golden sword half way in his body. Seeing it sliding inward, he jerked his head up and found two golden eyes glaring at him above. "Nooooooo."

"Oh, yessss." Growling, T rammed her sword into his body with both hands, then leaned on it, yanking it from side to side, shreading Dahok’s chest into ribbons.

"Gabrielle!" Wincing, Xena dropped her sword and began dragging her body toward the bard. "Gabrielle!"

Ares stared, as his sword fell to the floor also.

Shoving off the pedastal with her legs, T drove Dahok back with the force and landed on top of him, when he hit the floor. Getting to her feet, she strattled his body and fought off his one armed assault. With a flick of her wrist, she popped a gold dagger out of her gauntlet and flung it at the floor, impaling his hand. Jerking her sword from his body, she bent down, driving her fist into the gaping wound she’d made.

Screaming, Dahok struggled to get up, kicking at her with his legs, as he felt her hand take hold of his heart. "You can’t defeat me!"

Extending her claws, T wrapped her fingers around his heart and ripped it out of his body. Holding it out for him to see, she squashed it in her hand and filled her lungs with air. Bending close to his face, she released her breath and let loose a low gutteral roar. Glaring at him, as she roared again, she saw the flames disappear behind his eyes, like Hope’s had done. When her breath was expelled, she took in another lungfull, but let it out slowly and growled low. "It’s over, Dahok. No heart, you lose." Squeezing his heart between her fingers, his black blood oozed down her arm, as she slowly stood. Staring out at the Hall, she lowered her arm and closed her eyes.

"T?" Whispering her name, Ares stood on the platform like a statue himself. Unwilling to let his heart believe his eyes, he waited, holding his breath until she moved.

Turning around, her eyes were still closed and she opened them, as she stepped away from Dahok. Sheathing her sword, T’s eyes filled with tears and she smiled. "Ares." Walking toward him, her smile grew with each step.

Releasing the breath he’d held, the God of War took another one, while his feet moved of their own volition. Coming down the steps of the platform, his eyes were locked on hers and he watched them change from gold to the dark brown he loved. His heart pounding, he allowed it to take control and as he wrapped his arms around her, he buried his head in her shoulder and cried. "You’re alive."

Closing her eyes, T held him tightly and laid her head on his shoulder. Her tears flowing unchecked, she matched his joy with her own.


Gabrielle groaned softly and she frowned at the throbbing in her head. From inside her mind, she heard a voice, or voices, she wasn’t sure, that sounded familar, but they were so far away and it hurt to listen to them. Taking a deep breath, she groaned again and felt something soft against her back, which felt soooooo good, but it also confused her, which made her head hurt more. Inhaling again, she stopped thinking and let whatever was cushioning her, then smelled something. Something as familar as the voice and had a unique aroma that smelled like . . . "Xena?"

"Hey." Whispering her greeting, the warrior smiled. "I’m right here, Gabrielle. I’m here." Squeezing the bard’s hand, she leaned down and placed a soft kiss on her forehead.

Opening her eyes, she tried to focus and finally succeeded when her wife sat back. The light was very dim, which she was thankful for, but it kept her from recognizing the surroundings. "Where am I?"

"Home." Leaning close, Xena smiled at the confused expression on her face.

"Home?" Groaning the word, she closed her eyes as another wave of confusion fueled the freight train going through her head.

"Shhhhhhh. Go back to sleep." Brushing her fingers lightly over Gabrielle’s cheek. "Rest now. You’re safe."

Nodding slowly, Gabrielle liked the sound of that and if it weren’t for the throbbing in her head, she would’ve been happy to comply, but her aching noggin had other ideas. Frowning, she tried to put the pain aside so she could start to relax. Pushing it slowly back, she felt something on her forehead which interrupted her concentration for a second, then she could feel the pain slowly subsiding. Falling into the relief, her body went limp almost instantly. Exhaling a sigh, she sunk into the sheer weightlessness of being released from her agony and smiled. Moaning in ecstacy, she heard something that sounded like a laugh.

Now pain free, she was also free to be confused. Frowning again, she thought she knew that laugh from somewhere and her curiosity began making a recovery as well, but as she tried to place the familar sound, the rest of her brain came alive. Almost as quickly as the pain had gone away, it was replaced with nightmarish visions running rampant through her mind. As they passed through, the visions swirled and merged into a whirlwind of faces, sounds and emotions, and at the center was one face she’d had far tot many nightmares about. "Dahok!"

"Whoa, whoa." Placing her hand on the bard’s heaving chest, Xena held her down when she tried to sit up. "It’s okay, Gabrielle. It’s okay. Take it easy."

Her eyes wide open, Gabrielle could still see the nightmare as she stared frantically at the warrior. "Xena, Dahok’s alive. We’ve gotta get out of here. He’s going to kill T."

"No." Shaking her head, she used a soothing tone and smiled. "Gabrielle, Dahok’s dead. You’re safe now. It’s okay."

"No, Xena. He’s alive. He’s coming." Trapped inside her visions, the bard fought to rise. "Xena, we have to get out of here now."

Holding her wife in place, the warrior continued to shake her head. "No, Gabrielle. He’s dead. You’re safe now. It’s over."

In her confusion, she locked on the the last statement. "Over?" Questioning the nightmare, she began to remember something that resembled a chain of events.

"Yes, it’s over." Nodding, Xena smiled. "Dahok’s dead, Gabrielle."

"The plan worked, Gabrielle. Dahok fell for it." An amused smile on her face, T stepped into the bard’s line of sight.

Closing her eyes, Gabrielle shook her head. "Plan?"

"Yes, the plan." Nodding, she took another pace forward to stand behind the warrior. "Dahok fell for my imitation of my statue, lock, stock and barrel."

Listening to T, her mind began to assemble the nightmare into a chain of events. Starting from the very moment they’d felt the first hint of silence and chill, all the way through to the last thing she remembered, which was feeling Dahok’s fist against her head. "It worked?" Opening her eyes again, she looked surprised. "We won?"

Sighing herself, Xena became somber. "We won."

Seeing the sad expression, Gabrielle lost the smile she’d just aquired. "What happened?"

Glancing to the side, the warrior looked up at T.

Stepping closer, T sighed again. "Gabrielle, not everyone came through. We lost more than two-thirds of the Ancients, Cargan, all of the Guards and nearly all of the ensigns. Our victory came at a high price."

Gabrielle’s heart sank as she heard the news. "Bud? Ungara?" Looking hopeful.

"Ungara made it. He’s working with the remaining Ancients to rebuild the Palace and Bud made it. He’s still a little shell shocked, but he’s fine." Smiling warmly, she gave the bard a wink.

Closing her eyes, the bard nodded then shook her head. Trying to imagine the devestaion everyone must be feeling, she felt a little guilty for not having been conscious to try and help. "What will happen to the clans that lost their gods and ensigns?" Opening her eyes with the question, she looked at no one in particular.

"There will have to be some adjustments made, but it’ll be alright." Leaning back into Ares, she rested her head against his shoulder. "The Ungara are strong. We’ll get over the loss eventually, but not entirely. The Ancients were the foundation of the entire culture and to be without your god is going to take a long time to get over."

"There’s a lot to do, but everybody will pitch in." Sounding hopeful, Xena put on a good front. "And I’ve already volunteered us as baby sitters, so T can spend more time doing the King thing."

"Babysitting?" Knitting her brow, Gabrielle took a couple of seconds to remember her namesake, then she slapped her forehead. "Oh, my god! I forgot about Gabriel."

"That’s understandable under the circumstances, but you’ll have plenty of time to make it up to him, because you’ll be the one who’s actually babysitting. I intend to make full use of Xena’s leadership skills when you come." Flicking her eyebrows, T ignored the blue eyed glare she got.

"Another vacation down the drain." Bemoaning her fate, the warrior rolled her eyes.

"Where is he?" Looking worried, the bard turned her head, searching the bedroom.

"I’ll go get him." Volunteering, Ares gave T a kiss on the cheek then left to go get his son.

"You know, T. I can’t believe that I’m going to say this, but I think Ares is going to be a great father." Staring up over her shoulder, Xena smiled.

Smiling, T shrugged. "I knew that."

Feeling like her eyes were on a permanent spin cycle, Xena rolled them again. Settling the blue orbs on a pair of green ones, she smiled. "How are you feeling?"

"A lot better than the other times I woke up today." Another pair of eyes rolled and she sighed. "I was beginning to become afraid of going to sleep." Chuckling softly.

Chuckling herself, T nodded. "I think we’ve both had our fair share of externally induced naps for the day."

"Speaking of which." Glancing upward, Xena gave T a curious stare. "Now that she’s awake, do you mind telling me exactly why you’re not dead?"

"Ahhhh, yes. The epilogue, as it were." Holding up a finger, she turned to get a chair from across the room. Picking it up, she carried it back in one hand. "Unless you’d like to explain it, Gabrielle. You are the bard and I don’t want to cut in on your turf."

"No, no." Shaking her head, Gabrielle waved it off. "Please, feel free. It might give me another headache."

Putting the chair beside the bed, T sat down in it and took a deep breath. Releasing it slowly, she turned to Xena. "I think what happened was this. When I died and you had my son try to bring me back, he succeeded to a point, but that his power wasn’t sufficient to complete the job. This is probably because I’m pure Ungaran and he’s not, but be that as it may, he got me close enough to allow Dahok and Gabrielle to do the rest."

"Dahok?" Surprised, Xena interrupted with a strange look on her face. "What did he have to do with it?"

"Xena." Gaining the warrior’s attention, the bard gave her a look she’d given a million times. One with a slightly stern expression coupled with a hint of exasperation, that basically said shut up and . . . "Let her explain."

Dishing out a little snarl, the warrior acquiesced. "Go on."

Smiling, T gave the bard a nod of thanks, then continued. "Okay, here’s the deal. I think that when you put me in my tomb, I was very close to being alive, or at least at a point where I could be brought back to life and when Dahok used his power to transfer Gabrielle’s mind into the void, I got caught up with her."

Glancing at her wife, Xena visually asked for permission to speak. Receiving a smile, she turned to T. "You told me before that he was tapping into Gabrielle’s mind. How did he get you?"

"Ah, well this is where it get’s complicated." Holding up the finger again, she turned when the door opened.

"Here he is." Aphrodite sang the words, as she came through the door carrying Gabriel in her arms.

Empty handed and none to happy, Ares followed his sister and was followed by Bud. "I think Bud’s come for some tender loving care from you know who." Smiling a little, he nodded at the bard.

Sitting up somewhat, Gabrielle patted the bed beside her. "Come here Bud."

Walking over to the bed, Bud jumped up on it and laid down, putting his head on her stomach.

Giving him a hug around the neck, she kissed his striped head. "You’re such a good boy. Yes, you are. Did you miss me?"

Cocking his head back, Bud stared at her, then tossed his huge paw over her legs and nuzzled against her.

"That’s a yes." Rubbing Bud’s shoulder, Xena smiled at him. "He’s been waiting for you to wake up, so he could come in here and scarf up my side of the bed."

Lifting his head, Bud swiped at her hand, trying to get it in his mouth.

Snatching her hand out of reach, the warrior stuck her tongue out at him. "Snot."

Chuckling, Gabrielle gave him another hug, then layed back again, as he got comfortable.

Holding out her arms, T took her son from the goddess. "Come here, little man." Folding her arms around him, she cradled Gabriel in the crook of her arm and moved the blanket away just in time to see a large toothless yawn.

"Oooo, what a face." Smiling, Aphrodite stood behind T, leaning over to watch the baby.

Pushing the blanket from around his head, she held him up so the girls could see him. "I think somebody just woke up."

"He’s sooooo cute." Smiling big, Xena leaned over, tickling his cheek with her finger and got a sleepy smile in return. Tickling him under the chin, she got a matched set of adorable dimples with his smile. "Okay, you little heartbreaker. Stop trying to tempt me with those dimples. I’m spoken for."

"How did you get his hair to lay down?" Surpirsed to see the unruly stalks under control, the bard smiled at the new look, which wasn’t a suprise in itself, becuase Gabriel’s hairdo now looked just like Ares’.

"Never underestimate the many uses of industrial strength baby oil." Ares laughed, as he carried another chair over to the bed. Sitting beside T, he smiled over at his son and brushed the hair that had been mussed by the blanket back down, giving the front a flip upward.

Chuckling at the God of War, Gabrielle gave him a wink. "Can I hold him?" Sitting up, she held out her arms.

"Ooo ooo me first. Me first." Smiling, Xena held out her arms.

"Thank you both, but if you don’t mind, I’d like to hold him for a little while." Putting the ‘no’ as nicely as she could, she received two very disappointed pouts anyway. "After the story." Offering up a raincheck.

"Okay, let’s have the rest of it." Checking her watch dramatically, the warrior snapped her fingers. "Another five minutes and I’ll start going into withdrawals."

Rolling her eyes, T smiled and cradled her son again. "Alright, here we go. You said that Gabrielle passed out just before Dahok showed up, right?"

"Right." Nodding, she sat back. "She went limp in my arms a couple of seconds before he came through the door."

"Here’s my theory." Taking a deep breath again, shesmiled. "When Dahok sent his power into the Hall, to tap into Gabrielle’s mind, he didn’t want to send it too far away, or he just went with what was easiest at the time. But either way, he sent it in a straight line, pushing her mind beyond the far wall, which I just happened to be in and in the process, he pushed me with it. Like a tidal wave, I was washed into the void with Gabrielle’s mind."

"So, he got two for the price of one." Ares nodded. "That makes sense, but what about coming back to life? When did that happen?"

"Well, like I told Xena," turning to look at him, "Gabriel did all that he could do, but since he’s not pure Ungaran, he didn’t have the power to bring me all the way back, but," holding up a finger again, "guess who did have the power to bring me back to life?"

"Dahok?" Xena asked in disbelief. "How?"

"Because he’s an Ancient god." She continued. "You see, Xena, I have Ungara’s soul. It’s the reason Gabriel wasn’t able to bring me back all the way. Only somebody with Ancient power could do it and the only Ancient left with all his power was Dahok. Ungara and his other brothers no longer have that power, because they gave it up a long time ago. So, when Dahok sent his power into the hall to tap Gabrielle’s mind and he pushed it into the wall, it went through me and that’s what brought me back. Despite the inconceivable irony of it all, Dahok’s the one who brought me back to life."

"And that’s when you got your immortality back." Nodding in comprehension, Ares smiled in appreciation. "I like it."

"Wait a minute." Waving her hand frangically, Gabrielle sat up. "What did I miss?" Staring at T, she frowned at being left out of the loop somewhere. "You never said anything about being immortal again."

"Calm down. Calm down." Rolling her eyes, T shook her head. "Ares is wrong. That’s not when I got my powers back. I think it was a gradual transistion that happened from being in the void so long and I didn’t figure out that I had them back until after you got me out."

"Oh." Slightly mollified, she laid back down.

"Okay, my confusion factor just went up again." Raising her hand, Xena looked from Gabrielle to T. "You want to explain this whole void thing for those of us who were getting our asses kicked while you two were strolling around behind the wall?"

"Strolling?" Turning her head slowly, T gave her friend an indignant look. "Oh, yes, Xena. I always consider having to face down Hope, Drennan and the Destroyer at the same time the equivalent of a walk in the park. In fact it’s quite relaxing. You should try it sometime." Her tone oozing with sarcasm, she smiled rather insincerely.

Wincing in sympathy for the warrior, Ares looked everywhere but at the two women.

Seeing her wife sit up straight, which was a dead giveaway that she was about to get pissed, Gabrielle donned her invisible referee hat and held out her hands. "Just hold it right there. One, nobody strolled anywhere. We were trying to find our way out and if you two want to fight about who had the worst day, then give me the baby so you can go outside to beat each other’s brains out, because you won’t be doing it in here. If T’s dying isn’t enough for you," glaring at Xena, she switched to T, "and if you want to take up where Dahok left off, then please go right ahead. Don’t let the fact that we’ve lost enough of our friends today, stop you. I’m sure Ungara won’t mind adding your bodies to the fire." Folding her arms across her chest, she continued to shift her eyes back and forth, giving each woman a stern admonishing glare.

Ares winced in sympathy for both of them this time and shivered at the sudden coolness in the room.

Xena screwed her mouth to the side and stared at the floor, while her counterpart found the ceiling very interesting.

"And to think, if I’d played my cards right, I could’ve been part of another big happy family." The bard added with a small amount of sarcasm herself.

"Okay, okay." Sighing, Xena closed her eyes. "I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it to come out the way it sounded."

"Apology accepted." T smiled.

Rolling his eyes, Ares sighed and jabbed T in the ribs with his elbow.

"And I’m sorry for going off the handle like that." Glaring at him, she turned back to the bard. "Like Gabrielle said. It’s been a bad day."

There was a long moment of silence, while everybody took a deep cleansing breath and Gabriel sighed at the lack of animosity.

"Okay, now T, finish the story and you," nudging Xena with her knee, "pay attention." Issuing the sentence as a command, the bard pulled off her referee’s hat.

Opening her eyes, Xena looked up from the floor, giving her attention to T.

"Well, that’s pretty much it, except for how we got out." Shrugging, she smiled down at her son.

"Which was? And how did you know where you were?" Ares asked, tugging on her sleeve. "And what happened to the statue?"

"More importantly, how did you get up there without Dahok, or anybody else noticing?" Xena added to the list of things to know.

Moving her head from side to side, T looked at each inquisitor in turn then sighed. "Okay, I’ve got to back up here. First of all, I didn’t know where we were until after Hope showed up and I got some clues from her."

"Like the fact that Dahok had waited for over two thousand years, so he could grab me in this body that somebody just had to pitch a fit for." Staring pointedly at her wife, the bard knocked her in the back with her knee.

"Get out of here." Staring wide-eyed, Xena shook her head. "There’s no way he waited for that body. How did he know she’d ever get it back. There’s no way."

"Afraid it’s true, Xena." Smiling sadly, T chuckled. "I don’t know how he knew, but I asked Hope point blank why he was coming back now and she said it was because he prefered Gabrielle in the same body she’d first entered his temple in."

"So this is my fault?" Putting her hand over her heart, she looked awe struck. "If I hadn’t badgered TPTB to get us back in these bodies, Dahok would still be waiting and none of this would’ve happened? All this is my fault."

Lowering her head, T bit her lip. "Weeelll, it’s not exactly all your fault." Grimacing, she lifted her eyes.

"What do you mean, it’s not exactly all my fault?" Confused again, Xena gave her a curious look.

"I’m partlially to blame, because I kind of interceded on your behalf with TPTB." Closing her eyes, she winced.

"What she’s trying to say is that TPTB weren’t going to give you your bodies back." Ares broke in with a smile. "While you were pitching your fit, she popped in behind you and gave them a set of red tiger eyes as incentive."

"Now, wait a minute." Interrupting his interruption, Gabrielle shook her head. "I saw it all and I never saw T there."

"Oh, that’s when you closed your eyes, because Xena was getting ready to wallop the geezers." Aphrodite put in. "You can ask Michael."

"So, this isn’t my fault?" Still confused, Xena was leaning toward being relieved.

"Well, it was your idea in the first place." T said to share the guilt. "I just gave TPTB a little nudge."

"Gods, I think my headache is coming back." Gabrielle groaned pitifully and covered her eyes with her hand.

"You’ll live." The warrior told her wife and patted the bard on the leg. "Now, get on with the story, T."

T chuckled at the display and nodded. "Well, in an attempt to make a short story even longer . . . the other clue I got from what Hope said was the fact that I wasn’t dead; because she was very irritated that I was there and she actually said that I was supposed to be dead." Rolling her hand, she moved herself along. "The other thing was when she said that the void wasn’t a dream in the truest sense and that Gabrielle’s mind was being tapped. Which I deducted meant that, not only was I alive, but I was also real not something Gabrielle was dreaming up and it also meant that I was fully capable of doing damage."

Nodding slowly, the warrior glanced at the floor. "So, you killed the three of them."

"Yes and that leads me to how I figured out where we were." Taking a breath, she stuck out her tongue then continued. "After I cut off the Destroyer’s head, Hope fought me with balls of energy, which I rebounded with my sword and sent past her at Drennan, which is how he died. But anyway, when I sent the first one past her, it exploded way off in the distance."

"You found the wall." Snapping his fingers, Ares smiled.

"I found something." T amended. "It took a lot more than one to break through the wall of the void and I didn’t know what it was until after Hope and Drennan were dead. Once they were gone, I carried Gabrielle toward the dark spot on the horizon and when I got close, I realized where we were, because the spot turned out to be a big hole in the wall that I could see through, into the Hall of Kings."

"But she couldn’t get through it." Gabrielle added.

"True. Though Hope’s energy had broken through the void, Dahok’s power still held us inside, but while I was trying to break through the invisible barrier, I spotted Gabrielle’s body." Pointing to the bard. "She was laying close to the wall and when I saw her there something clicked in my head. It was like a light flashing and I remembered that the whole thing was coming from her mind. Her brain was being tapped to create the void, so I thought that if I could get her mind back in her body, she’d get past Dahok’s power and then she could collapse the void."

"Wait a minute." Shaking her head violently, Xena held up her hand. "I’m confused here. Even if Gabrielle gets back in her body and the void disappears, that isn’t going to affect Dahok’s power block. How did you expect to get past that and why aren’t you standing in solid rock right now?"

"Ahh, the inevitable crucial tricky part." Flicking her eyebrows, T smiled big. "If I couldn’t get beyond his power before the void collapsed, I’d be trapped, but that didn’t happen. Before Gabrielle got back inside her body, I had her push the void outward, so that the void straddled her body lengthwise, which was a really lucky move, bucause that was when the wall of fire came at us and the void protected both her body and Gabriel." Giving the bard a wink, she went on. "Anyway, immediately after that I knew it was now or never, so I lifted Gabrielle’s body off the floor a little bit and tried crawling under it, to see if the block passed through her."

"Did it?" Ares asked, completely enthralled by the story.

"Nope." Smiling at him, T gave him a quick kiss. "Dahok’s block only went over the top of her body, for whatever reason and in the end, all I had to do was crawl under her body to get out. After that, Gabrielle put her mind back in her body but instead of collapsing the void, I had her keep it intact, so Dahok wouldn’t become suspicious."

"Then, while we were all buried under bodies, you did the switch with your statue." Slapping her forehead, Xena ran her hand slowly down her face and shook her head.

"Yep." Laughing, she nodded. "That was the last part of the plan. To get Dahok close enough that I could finally get his heart. I always knew in the back of my mind that’s what I needed to do to kill him, but I just never got the chance."

"Which reminds me." Frowning suddenly, the warrior gave her friend an incriminating glare. "Who’s bright idea was it to have Gabrielle stand there like a sitting duck? You almost got her killed with that message you gave her."

"Oh, no." Waggling her finger, T’s eye went wide and she shook her head. "Nonononono. That was not my message." Pointing to the bard, she kept her eyes on the warrior. "SHE decided to wing it at the last second. She’s the one who changed the script, with her poetic licensing." Bringing her finger back, she poked her own chest. "I told her to tell him that if he wanted the Crown, all he had to do was take it and then she was supposed to slip out of the way unharmed, so I could do my thing. But neeeeoooooo." Waggling her finger again, she did the same with her head, then shot her arm outward to zero in on the guilty party. "The BARD here had to go and change it, and nearly got her brains bashed in. You want to blame somebody for her injury, there’s the culprit, Xena. Your adoring, irritating wife," closing her eyes, she growled up at the ceiling for a second, then opened her eyes to glare at the blonde, "and I swear if Dahok hadn’t knocked you in the head when he had, I would have. I almost fell off that pedastal when you blurted out that line and where the hell did it come from anyway? If you want the Crown, you better bring something stronger than bad breath to get it? Forget about the fact that you’re a crummy messenger, Gabrielle. That’s got to be the worst line I have ever heard. What were you thinking?"

Bobbing her head, Aphrodite agreed. "That really sucked."

Xena looked from T to Gabrielle, giving the bard an inquisitive stare. "Well?"

Closing her eyes, Gabrielle put her hand over them. "Weeeeeell." Whining out a sigh, she made a face. "I don’t know what came over me. T’s line just sounded so lame, ya know?" Lowering her hand a tad, she peeked over her fingers.

T rolled her eyes, then closed them. Shaking her head slowly, she sighed. "Bards."

Smiling, the warrior pulled Gabrielle’s hand away from her eyes. "Gabrielle. Don’t do that anymore." Trying to sound serious, she was also fighting not to laugh. "Next time, stick to the plan. No more adlibbing messages, okay."

Sighing, she nodded. "Okay and I’m sorry I changed the message. I won’t do it again. I promise."

"Thank you." Still not completely happy, T stood. "End of story."

"Hey, what about the baby?" Watching T, Gabrielle perked up. "Can’t I hold him now?"

"Actually, I think you’re going to very busy for awhile." Smiling at her, she flicked her eyebrows. "And don’t let me catch you drooling after Ares’ butt anymore. I remember what you said in the void about him being cute. You just keep your hands to yourself, you hear me?"

"What?" All of her humor gone in a flash, Xena glared blue fireballs. Turning them toward her wife, she tilted her head. "You’ve been drooling after Ares’ butt? And exactly how long has this been going on, Gabrielle?"

"Nonono, that’s not what I said." Shaking her hand, in Xena’s face. "She’s twisting my words, Xena. I never said that I drooled after his butt, I just said that I thought he was cute in his leathers. That’s all."

"And that’s supposed to make me feel better, how?" Folding her arms across her chest.

Tugging on Ares’ sleeve, T got him to stand, then pulled him behind her to the door.

"T, come back here." Sitting up, Gabrielle pointed at her. "I know what you’re doing, now get back here and tell her the truth. That is not what I said and you know it."

"Don’t blame the messenger, Gabrielle. That’s what I heard you say, or maybe you were lusting after his body. I can’t remember?" Eyes open wide, T batted her lashes innocently. "Have fun."

"Nooooo! T! I never said that!" Watching the door close and the smug smile go out with it, the bard looked back at her wife and saw a green eyed monster where Xena had been a moment earlier. Laying back heavily, she closed her eyes. "My head hurts."

Grabbing, T’s arm, Aphrodite tugged on it until she turned around. "Okay, tell me you were kidding, because if blondie has lost her mind, I’ll kill myself. That’s just too gross for words."

"Let’s just saaaaay, that from now on, Gabrielle will have no problem remembering the definition of verbatim when I give her a message."


The End.

Epilogue: After an hour of leaving Gabrielle between a warrior and a hard place, T finally felt sorry for her and confessed to convienent lack of memory. Then she spent an hour between a warrior and a hard place and it took nothing short of one hungry little boy making his presence known to get her off the hook. After Gabriel was fed, T sidelined anymore ramifications by offering her son up as a peace offering and let him work off his full tummy by taking a long, well deserved and much needed nap with the girls, who only fought over him for the amount of time it took their heads to hit the pillows.

Thanks for reading.


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