Disclaimer: Argo, Gabrielle and Xena all belong to MCA/Renaissance and the author intended no copyright infringement when she wrote this short story. Any other characters are the sole property of Xenrielle, and should not be used without permission and credit.

Author's Note: This is a little quickie I wrote without my muse (who's still on vacation). I was watching an episode of The X-Files, and a monologue caught my eye. It probably could've been done better, but there's not much you can do when you don't have a muse. I hope that you get the general idea.

It Begins Where it Ends



It begins where it ends ... in nothingness
A nightmare born from deepest fears, coming to me unguarded
Whispering images unlocked from time and distance
A soul unbound -- touched by others but never held
On a course charted by some unseen hand
The journey ahead promising no more than my past reflecting back upon me
Until at last, I reach the end
Facing a truth I can no longer deny
Alone, as ever *

I've done a lot of thinking these past few weeks. Thinking is all I really can do now anyway. I've come to the conclusion that I have finally come full circle and it's time to let go.

I've been a stubborn mule all my life. Giving up has never really been my nature. But there's a first time for everything. I have no further need for this world, and it has no further need for me. It's time to move on - to something better.

I can imagine all the wonderful people I'll meet on the other side - all those who left before me. It will be nice to catch up on them. I wonder what they'll say when they see me. I must be the last person they'd expect to see now. Maybe in a few more decades they wouldn't be so surprised, but now? They'll have a heart attack! I can't help but laugh at that thought. I am laughing, right? It's not just my imagination? I can't feel anything. Oh well, I guess that means the end is closer than I thought.

I wonder where I am now. Last I remember was when I was lying in a pallet in some healer's hut, and I couldn't feel anything. My friend was leaning over me, whispering into my ear that I was going to be all right. I wonder what she's doing now. I hope she's not too upset. The last thing I want to do it leave her in a state of helplessness. I could never live with that.

Live. It's funny how you notice yourself using that word a lot when you're dying. It's a simple word. You don't think twice about using it usually. I wonder if I even want to live. It's so peaceful where I am now. Maybe I should just let go right here. Just let myself slip away silently.

No, I promised her. She wants me to be in her arms when I finally leave her. She wants to watch me take my last breath. I wonder why she isn't here now. She must think that I'm strong enough to hold on. Or maybe she's testing me. My final test of strength: to stay alive until she returns. She refuses to let me leave without a fight. I have a surprising amount of fight left in me. Moments ago I was ready to give up, and here I am now fighting to stay in this cruel world. All for her.

My nose if itching me. Should I scratch it? I can't be bothered. I'm dying, who cares about an itching nose.

Oh, great, now my stomach is grumbling. I wonder when I last ate. Boy, right now I could eat a horse. Actually, I should watch what I say. If Argo heard me talk like that, she'd be mighty worried. That makes me laugh. Poor ol' Argo. Ouch! It hurts my side when I laugh. Great, I'll die laughing in pain.

It hurts when I laugh.

By the Gods! I can feel my body! I'm coming back! Sorry Hades, but I've found my reason to live, and I'm not so keen to meet you just yet.

Boy, will she be happy when she sees me. I can hear her footsteps coming up the stairs; they are heavy. She's dragging her feet as if she's on her way to face judgment. She must think I don't have the fight in me after all. She's expecting to see my lifeless body when she comes through that door. I'm insulted! She has always seen me as a child - the weaker one who needs protection. Well, she had better treat me right after this! I can hear her near the door. I shall open my eyes so that I may see her face when she enters.

Ouch! That light is bright. Ahh, so this is what the room looks like. They could've brightened it up a bit. It looks like someone has died in here. The door is opening.

"Gabrielle? Gabrielle!"

She's just standing there. I have to laugh. Ouch! Take mental note: stop laughing.

"By the Gods! You're alive!"

"You can't get rid of me that easily." My voice is hoarse, but it brings a tear to her eye.

"Oh, Gabrielle."

It's not every day I see her cry. It feels good to have her arms around me. It hurts my body, but I embrace the pain, for as long as I'm feeling nothing else matters.

I'm glad I came back. As long as I'm with Xena, I'll never be alone again.


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