by Xenut

Gabrielle awoke, sobbing wretchedly, to find herself being held securely in Xena's arms, the firelight from their small campfire showing the worry on Xena's face. The warrior was whispering reassurances and words of love into the bard's ear, while she rocked and kissed her softly on the forehead.

Gabrielle's tears slowly stopped, but she clutched the warrior desperately.

"It was so horrible, Xena; I was so terrified." After a pause, she continued, "We had to go to Jappa to avenge a girl from your past called Akimi and you had to redeem 40,000 souls that claimed you caused their death. So you let yourself be killed, just unspeakably butchered, and I had to carry your ashes to some spring up in the mountains." Gabrielle began to sob again, wretchedly. "And then you wouldn't let me bring you back to life.....You left me, Xena. You said you'd never leave me, but you did--I was so alone."

Gabrielle cried softly, while Xena stroked her gently. Finally, the bard looked up to see a slightly puzzled expression on the warrior's face.

"Gabrielle," she said, "I will truly never, ever leave you--and besides, I've never even been to Jappa and I have no idea of who Akimi might be, since I've never met anyone by that name."

All was quiet for a few moments while Gabrielle calmed down and finally even chuckled. She looked up again. "Xena, will you teach me the pinch?...Please?"

"All right, my love. I've never taught that to anyone before, but anything for you."

"Thank you, sweetheart. I love you--so very much."

"And I love you, my bard."

Xena had finally relaxed as Gabrielle quieted. Suddenly, Gabrielle said, sleepily, "If you'd really like to go back to the land of the Pharoahs, I think I'd like that too. As long as I'm with you....." as her voice trailed off into quiet regular breathing and her face relaxed completely.

"So will I," said Xena, as she closed her eyes and joined her soulmate in sleep.

This time, both of their dreams were happy.

The End (for real)


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