by Phil D. Hernández

GENRES: Xena: Warrior Princess, drama. VIOLENCE: A few past acts of violence are remembered. SEX: Gabrielle and Perdicas are a young married couple. Think Dharma and Greg. LANGUAGE: Squeaky clean. RATING: PG-13. SUBTEXT: None. SPOILERS: "Sacrifice II," "Adventures in the Sin Trade" I and II.


(Note: Hades is alive. Gabrielle is slightly dead. All other active characters in this story are seriously dead.)

Gabrielle     the Bard of Poteidaia
Hades        God of the Dead
Callisto       Psycho Dollä , fiery warrior goddess
Solan          Xena’s son
Kaleipus     Solan’s guardian, a centaur
Perdicas     Gabrielle’s husband

                   Gabrielle’s grandmother
                   Callisto’s family
                   other spirits of the dead

          For all she had tried to reassure Xena with that last glance before she grabbed her daughter Hope and toppled into the fiery pit in the temple of Dahak, Gabrielle was still badly frightened those last few seconds as she fell to her death.
          There was a brief moment of intense pain as the flames seared her body, then nothing.
          As though she had awakened, instantly alert, from a long, dreamless sleep, the bard stood in a familiar room.  Hades’ judgement hall.  The god himself, handsome and smiling, arose from his throne.
          "Welcome, Gabrielle.  I would have preferred seeing you here many years from now under happier circumstances."
          "I had to die, Hades.  You know how many people died because of me – and last of all my own daughter.  I had to kill her; I had to die."
          "No, Gabrielle.  Do not blame yourself for the choices Hope made."
          "But I brought her into the world and saved her life!"
          "Could you have done otherwise?  That’s why that foul Dahak picked you."
          Gabrielle shook with the horror of it all.
          Hades put a friendly hand on her shoulder to comfort her.
          "Because of you, and people like you, Dahak cannot prevail.  Even Xena does not understand yet, but her love for you will guide her to that understanding."
          "I couldn’t let her die for me."
          "So you would let her live without you?  She was here before, you remember.  I have a nice place set up for her in the Elysian Fields, good fishing, pasture for Argo.  She wouldn’t have any of it.  She just wanted to get back to you.  Both of you have done so much for me already.  Not just me; Celesta, too.  I could hardly stop Xena."
          Gabrielle smiled.  "She’s a stubborn woman."
          "That she is.  She won’t accept your death, you know.  Neither will your friend Joxer."
          The bard paused in thought for a moment.  "Xena was right.  I can hear her thoughts, and his, too.  Joxer must be crazy with grief.  He thinks he loves me."
          Hades smiled enigmatically.
          For that matter, I won’t accept your death.  You see, Hope couldn’t be killed that way.  You should have taken the dagger from Xena and used it.  Now you’ll have to fight her again, and you can’t do that here."
          Gabrielle’s face fell.  "I didn’t kill Hope," she said sullenly.  It didn’t even register that she herself was to return to the living world.
          "No, but don’t blame yourself for that, either.  I want to rest here for a while to soothe your troubled soul.  Then you must go to the place set aside for your sister Amazons.  Melosa will be glad to see you, and Terreis.  Afterwards, you shall go home."
          Still listless, Gabrielle nodded.
          "There’s something else I need you to do here.  It’s a task you gave yourself.  Callisto is about to join us –"
          "Callisto!" she gasped.
          "Yes.  Xena killed her.  Not strictly to honor her word, but because Callisto would taunt her with your death."
          "More blood on my hands."
          "Gabrielle, stop doing this to yourself!  Xena created her; it was Xena who would have had to destroy her eventually.  Do you understand?"
          "Yes," she replied, wiping away a tear.
          "Good.  Now I know you forgave Callisto everything, even the murder of your husband.  I’ve heard the prayers you said for her.  She’s for Tartarus anyway, but because of you she will have a little consolation even in the midst of her eternal torment.  I want you to take her on a little visit…"  He filled in the details.

          This time Callisto was buried to her neck in ice under a leaden sky.  Even her fire powers could do nothing to release her wiry, willowy body.  But she would not scream.  Even the shock of Xena killing her after all, after the taunt she flung at her because she feared the warrior woman would not give her oblivion, would not unhinge her enough to make her scream.
          I loved Xena, she thought.  She made me, released me to kill, and kill, and kill…
          "And there’s someone I should have killed," she said aloud.
          Gabrielle approached her slowly, picking her way across the slippery, boulder-strewn terrain with the aid of a new staff, a present from Hades.  She shivered from the cold breeze that tousled her strawberry blonde hair.
          "You never did, though," the bard said, not unkindly, when she was only a few feet away.
          "No.  I wonder why not?" Callisto asked herself in a singsong voice, a puzzled look appearing within the madness on her face.  She cocked her head to one side.
          "Because our positions could have been reversed.  Xena could have destroyed Poteidaia and killed my family, then someday come to Cirra to start her life over."
          "Then I would have been the irritating blonde and you stuck here?" the dead goddess laughed.
          "Why not?" Gabrielle replied, seriously.
          "Yeah, Xena made you, too.  But philosophy bores me.  Or are we supposed to be each other’s torturers here in Tartarus?"
          "No, nothing like that."
          The bard raised her staff, and the ice cracked and fell away from Callisto’s body.
          "Nice trick.  Don’t tell me they made you a god down here."
          "I’m still the same Gabrielle, except I’m dead.  Hades wanted you to see something.  Come with me."
          In silence they passed through the icy region, now and again encountering others chained to the boulders or buried in the ice.  Gabrielle forced herself to ignore the piteous cries of the doomed.  They moved on past Ixion, strapped to his burning wheel, the Danaids running with their leaking water jars, and many other torments, lesser and greater.  Callisto looked around with smiling mad eyes at the fascinating vistas.
          They entered the anteroom of Tartarus and continued beyond to a golden door.  "We’re going to the Elysian Fields," the bard told her companion.  "No one will be able to see, hear or feel us, Callisto.  Part of you will find peace, though."
          "There’s no peace for me.  Just the pain…and the emptiness.  Don’t feel sorry for me," Callisto said scornfully.
          "I don’t.  This isn’t about feeling sorry.  Are you coming?"
          "Why not?  Anything’s better than the ice."
          They passed through the door.  Callisto was disgusted at the sight of so many happy people, of heroic warriors at rest when they could be battling her.  Maybe it wouldn’t be as delicious as fighting Xena for all eternity, but…  She noticed a man and a woman, laughing at the antics of a little girl playing in a tree.
          "Mother!  Father!  My sister!"  She would have run to them, but Gabrielle held her back.
          "They can’t hear you.  You can’t touch them."
          Callisto subsided.
          "They’re happy, Callisto.  They resisted Xena and saved your life.  Small acts, but heroic enough to earn them a place here."
          "Happy…happy…but they deserved more."  For the first time since her family died, Callisto wept.  Gabrielle took her hand.
          "So did you."
          "Xena took it all away.  She even stood up and admitted it.  But the pain never went away.  I had my revenge, but it didn’t fill the emptiness."
          Gabrielle held Callisto in gentle arms.  "Xena will always suffer for that.  She remembers Cirra and the other villages.  Because of them she’s saving lives now."
          "I could have done that…I could have done that…"
          Callisto suddenly turned her back on the sight.  The madness was gone from her eyes.  "Thanks for showing me this," she told Gabrielle.  "We’d better go back.  I couldn’t bear much more, knowing I can’t be with them."
          They retraced their journey.
          "Do they know?" Callisto wondered.
          "Hades told me they remember you and figure you must have gotten away.  Beyond that…no, nothing.  He kept them from hearing your thoughts of madness.  They expect that you’ll be somewhere else in the lands of the dead.  They pray for you, too."
          "It’s better that way, I suppose."
          Arriving at their starting point, Callisto clasped hands with Gabrielle.
          "Thank you," the fiery blonde said.  "This is better than oblivion.  Knowing my family is happy will make it easier.  Go ahead, put me back in the ice."
          "I can’t.  It’s like healing a condemned prisoner so he can walk to the gallows."
          Callisto studied the bard curiously.  "You have a lot of love in that small package.  It’s all right.  Hades!" she called.  "I’m ready!"  And Callisto was frozen again.  This time, though, she was smiling a genuine smile to reassure her longtime adversary.
          Gabrielle wept openly, but brought herself to smile in turn.  "I hope Hades will send someone to scratch your nose once in a while."
          "I’d like that.  Tell Xena I forgive her.  Tell her I forgive her everything."
          "I will, Callisto.  I will."
          The bard left the warrior goddess then, and did not see the madness re-enter Callisto’s eyes.  Perhaps it was for the best.
          "Someone I should have killed…someone I should have killed…someone I should have killed," Callisto recited softly.  A corner of her soul, though, was glad she hadn’t killed her.

          Time matters little on the other side, so Gabrielle got in some visiting.  "You’re really dead this time," her grandmother observed.  "Stay with us."
          "I can’t," Gabrielle replied sorrowfully.  "Xena needs me."
          "Nice girl, that Xena," the older woman approved.  "Well, any friend of my granddaughter’s…"
          Gabrielle could not bring herself to see Solan, but Xena’s murdered son came to her, along with his guardian, the centaur Kaleipus.
          "Don’t cry," the boy said in a failed effort to prevent just that.  "I never blamed you.  I’m just glad you and Mother are friends again."
          "He’s right, Gabrielle," Kaleipus added.  "You couldn’t know the child would seek him out.  Solan was always in danger of his life.  No more than you.  Hope killed us to drive a wedge between you and Xena.  Thanks to Solan here, that gambit failed."  He nodded his head toward the boy.
          "Yes.  The world needs both of you to stop Dahak.  I know you have to return," Solan said, "but while you’re here – how about we race to that boulder and back?"
          His eyes twinkled.  Before Gabrielle could dry her tears, he was off.
          "Hey, wait for me!" she cried, and soon forgot her sorrow.
          Last and best of all was Perdicas.  Husband and wife rushed into each other’s arms.  They vied to see how many kisses they could plant on lips, cheeks, ears, necks.  It had been so long since their glorious wedding night, and they had not been granted even another full day together when Callisto killed him.
          Some time later they lay side-by-side on the grass.
          "I always knew you would be with me, Gabrielle."  Her face clouded at that.  "Why so sad, my pretty one?"
          "I can’t stay.  I have to go where the Amazons rest, then return to Xena."
          "Don’t go.  You don’t owe her anything."
          "I don’t owe her anything, but I owe her everything."
          "Spoken like a true bard.  It doesn’t make any sense."
          "I have a daughter now, Perdicas.  An evil daughter.  Spawn of the evil god who raped me.  I have to fight her."
          Perdicas stared at his wife in horror, though he already knew most of the story.  Her troubled thoughts and nightmares had come to him, and each time they did he prayed for her release.  He had hoped this would be it.  He took her in his arms again.
          "That’s all over now.  Let the living deal with it."
          "They need me.  Hades said so."
          "Then I want to go with you."
          "I want you to.  Hades wouldn’t allow it.  He said it was my job, mine and Xena’s.
          "But not mine," Perdicas said bitterly.  "All right.  But I’ll travel with you as far as I’m permitted.  I love you."
          "I love you, too."
          They kissed again, and after a short time reluctantly arose.  They strolled, taking their time and with many breaks to enjoy each fleeting moment of each other’s presence.  They touched and caressed, kissed and fondled as much as they could, as a young husband and wife are wont to do.  Eventually, though, they reached the Amazon lands.
          "So bleak," Perdicas said.
          "Looks that way," Gabrielle agreed.  "But I’ll be welcome here."  She started to cry.  "I don’t want to leave you, Perdicas!"
          He kissed her tears away.
          "You’ll come back someday," he replied.  "I’ll be waiting."
          "I love you."
          "And I love you."  They embraced and kissed one last time, then Perdicas was gone.
          Gabrielle gathered up her staff and continued toward her future.


          No subtext advocates were harmed by Gabrielle and Perdicas doing what comes naturally in the course of writing this story.

Author’s note:
          I would like to credit Mary Morgan with first giving me the idea that Gabrielle would kill herself in the act of killing Hope as atonement for that killing.  A similar motif occurs toward the end of "Maternal Instincts."

Episode references:
          "Death in Chains," "Mortal Beloved," "Is There a Doctor in the House," "Callisto," "Return of Callisto," "A Necessary Evil," "The Debt II," "Maternal Instincts," "The Bitter Suite," "Tsunami," "Sacrifice II," "Adventures in the Sin Trade I" and "Adventures in the Sin Trade II."  There may be some unintended discrepancies between this story and the latter two episodes.

Other references:
          Dante’s Inferno.

          Xena: Warrior Princess, Xena, Gabrielle, Joxer, Callisto, Perdicas, Solan, Kaleipus and all other characters who have appeared in the series, together with the names, titles and backstory are the sole copyright property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures.  No infringement of copyrights or trademarks is intended in the writing of this fan fiction.  This story is copyright © 1998 by Philip D. Hernández and is his sole property along with the story idea.  This story cannot be sold or used for profit in any way.  Copies of this story may be made for private use only and must include all disclaimers and copyright notices.

          Unless your sole purpose is to bash Joxer or Ted Raimi, your comments would be greatly appreciated.  You can e-mail the author at

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