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Solitarius

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A sharp wind cracked against a young boy’s cheeks as he climbed a small hill. The satchel on his back pitched first to the left with the wind and then the right as he overcorrected, nearly throwing him over the edge. Years of climbing this hill had seasoned him to the harsh climate -- many a time had he rolled back down the muddy terrain. As he reached the crest of the grassy knoll with a heaving chest he stood, tossing a dour look behind him. Once he began to march again, a snapping below caused him to topple and nearly roll back through the tall grass he’d just ascended. He looked down and rolled his eyes, of course his sandal would break halfway through this behemoth of a hill.

 

He prayed to the gods that he would be paid extra for his speed. In this heat, no one was really out doing anything but swimming in the river. The ladies at tavern he was delivering to had been telling him for years not to venture out if the conditions outside or his health were poor. They were nice to him, as were most of his customers. But the oldest woman had a kind twinkle in her eye that made him comfortable --- also the frequent tips and food were a plus.

 

At just eight summers old, he was the fastest way to get a message anywhere. One time, he delivered a message three days away in only two days. That was what he told people when the asked why he was always running around towns instead of playing with the other children. His own mother had died some summers ago, so he’d gotten a job doing the thing he was greatest at - running around.  Maybe he’d get some food from them today too. If not, there were plenty of Inns in the next town that would give him scraps for work.

 

Deciding that no shoes was better than one, he strapped the sandals to his pack and walked the rest of the rough trail barefoot. He would be fine, he’d taken his path probably more than a hundred times since he’d begun his career as a messenger. He opened the small gate within the huge wall with his key - a gift from the household. It meant a lot that the family trusted him so much. Why they kept the tavern walled in like a prison he did not know.

 

After a little bit more walking he saw the familiar old porch up ahead. He had heard many a tale about the ghost and spirits that haunted the old tavern behind the wall. But, he assumed that those people had never actually been brave enough to visit with the women who lived there. He only really knew the elder woman. There was blonde lady named Sarah who was his late mother's age, and a tiny girl younger than him who never spoke more than a word to him. When she answered the door, she would alway sneak him treats or toys. He’d tried asking if they were related but the little girl wouldn’t tell and her grandmother ignored him whenever he asked.

 

Last solstice season, he had taken a whole pouch of scrolls from four days away, and travelled back to the tavern in time for the Solstice festival and they’d given him double the money and fed him until he could not fit another bite in his stomach. He’d accidentally fallen asleep at the table and he had woken to a pack of leftover food, a thank you note that was unsigned, and a small toy lamb. He’d ran out of the house, not ashamed to say that the dark tavern was very scary in the middle of the night.

 

Just when he was about to knock, the door flew open and youngest girl opened the door. She smiled at him and waved to him, curls bouncing every which way. She’d never spoken to him before, but he didn't have conversations during most of his jobs anyway. He smiled back and waved back. Once he slid his bag off to get the messages, the girl made a grunt type noise at him. Before he could ask what she was doing, the girl stepped outside the door and shut it behind her. She motioned for him to stay quiet and then to follow her. He nodded and looked curiously at her while he tucked the scroll back into his pack.  

 

She grabbed his hand and tugged him around the side of the building. He winced as his bare foot made contact with an errant rock but he did not make a sound. They ran through the grass and rocks all through the back yard and into the wall of trees behind the property. He was curious about where they were going but also a little worried for his safety. The girl stopped running and he stood next to her trying to catch his breath. The noises of the forest were punctuated with the yells of a lot of people. It sounded like a huge party was going on. When he finally looked up at the site before him, he gasped in amazement. There was nothing, no one: no animals and no people. All he saw was trees for miles and the setting sun. But where had the noises come from?

 

He heard a branch snap above him and a muffled cry. He and the small girl gasped in unison. The forest went silent and fear rose within him. Quickly the girl tugged on his arm and they both took off towards the front of the Inn. Once they reached the front, the girl ran back up through door and slammed it shut. He stood there for a minute, dumbstruck. What had just happened?

 

Just as quickly as she’d disappeared, the young child opened the door again - this time accompanied by Sarah. The older woman  smiled at him and handed out a bag of food to him. She looked down and frowned at his bare, dirty feet and tossed him an irritated look.

 

“Where are your shoes?”

 

He shrugged off his pack to show her the broken strap, “Broken ma’am.”

 

“Well we can’t have that. I’ll have mother fix them. Do you have a few minutes?” she asked him, stepping back into the house with the door open.

 

This was his only stop today and his only plans were to take a swim in the river before heading back to town. He nodded as she opened the door and he slipped in, careful not to trek too much filth into the tavern. His tiny friend was nowhere to be seen so he turned to Sarah for direction.

 

“You can sit on that chair over there, that way you won't track mud everywhere. Goodness me, I forgot how dirty little boys could get.” She winked a him. “It’s been a long time since we had any here. I’ll be right back!”

 

He waited patiently and tried his best to be still. The young girl appeared around the corner after a while and looked both ways before sneaking over to him. She handed him another pouch and motioned for him to hide it. He stuffed it into his bag with the other one and smiled at her.

 

“What, what was that I heard back there? It was amazing.The forest was talking!” he whispered quietly to her.

 

“It’s a secret; can’t tell no one,” she whispered right back. “Gramma’s coming, gotta go!”

 

Footsteps could be heard again and the little girl ran out of sight as the older woman walked slowly into the room holding his repaired shoes in one hand and a glass of water in the other.

 

“You know, I told Sarah to tell you not to come here if it’s too hot! There’s nothing important enough to give us that can’t wait ‘til the next day. Okay? Now, let me see what you brought.”

 

Quickly she traded the glass for the pack of scrolls ,and he waited diligently to see if she was going to send a response. He watched as she mouthed the words out loud. He couldn’t read lips or letters so he didn’t try to be nosy. He was a messenger not the town gossip. As she read, he studied her with great detail. He had never really talked with her. She looked like any town elder, although she wasn’t as old as some of them. Her hair was still mostly black with grey streaks throughout, and her face looked like she spent most of her days smiling. She looked up at him, which startled him into looking at the floor hurriedly.

 

“Thank you for bringing this today. I won’t have a another message for at least a fortnight. Could you come back then?” he nodded and shut his pack.

 

“Thank you ma’am, I’ll be back then. Thank you for fixin’ my sandals. I think I need to look into some boots.” he muttered as he stood to leave.

 

“I’ll make you a deal, son. Come back in two weeks, and I’ll have some boots here for you too. I appreciate all that you do for us. I know we are hard to get to and you have never let us down. What’s your name?” She patted his head gently.

 

“Mathias, ma’am.” he held his hand out to take hers.

 

“Nice to meet you,” she took his hand gently. “My name is Lila.”

 

Far off the in the distance he heard yelling and the whole house seemed to explode with action. People ran in the door clutching a body. The woman who was being carried had a bloody wound on her head. It looked pretty bad.

 

He took this opportunity to slip between the crowd’s legs and dart out of the front door. Whatever had just happened, it didn’t seem good. He briefly considered peeking around the Inn to see if he could find the noises in the forest, but deep down he know that being nosy never helped anyone. Plus, his brow was sweatin and if he didn’t get to the river soon he’d probably pass out.

 

He descended the grassy hill, imagining what he could have heard. Next time he came here he would ask them what it was.




Chapter Text

Darkness was everywhere around her; swallowing her like a chilled, oily quicksand. It embraced her senses and pressured her mind. Every thought she had was permeated by the contagious syrup. It was quiet, yet deafening. She took deep breaths and was surprised to not hear a single noise coming from her lungs. She exhaled quickly, trying to provoke the silence with no success. She was helpless; the darkness slipped between her lips and down her throat. She gagged on nothing, feeling so completely overwhelmed by the pool of darkness she was drowning in.

 

A harsh jerk pulled her from the silence, she felt the whoosh of it coming back up and out of her. It pushed her away like a scorned lover and shoved her to the ground. Disoriented, she hit the cold floor with a thump and gasped for breath. The back of her head burned with a fiery pain from the impact and for a brief moment she believed herself to be dead. Many hands wrapped around her and rolled her over. The harsh sunlight burned her at her eyes and she prayed for the darkness to return. Her vision was blurry, a kaleidoscope of nature and bodies.

 

Arms made their way under hers and she was pulled to her feet. Many voices rang out but she was not coherent enough to recognize any of them. She felt her head grow heavy as she finally succumbed to the siren’s song of slumber.

 

Some time later, a cooling sensation woke her from her sleep. Slowly, and with great difficulty, she opened her eyes and found that the bleary eyesight from waking up would not dissipate no matter how many times she blinked it away. The world around her was pitching to and fro- bringing up the seasickness that had not plagued her in decades. Mostly because she hadn’t set foot on a godforsaken boat of any sort in many years. She felt her breakfast climb higher and higher. She slammed her eyes shut, praying to anyone to end her pain.

 

“Hey now, don’t move,” A voice whispered in the blurry room. Was it Lila? The cooling sensation happened again. The splashing sound of water seemed so far away as the damp cloth was placed over her eyes again.

 

“Wh-” She tried to speak but the pounding behind her eyes started it’s drumming twofold.

 

“You were knocked out of a tree, Gabs. You’re getting too old to be running with the children. I don’t care what lesson you were teaching the kids. Let the teacher you hired do her job.” Lila, lectured her once more.

 

Gabrielle just grunted in response. Being unconscious was looking better than being scolded like a pup. Lila was the only person who could make her feel like a petulant child.

 

After a few beats of silence, both women sighed. Gabrielle shut her eyes and grabbed a pillow from the stack next to her and placed it over her eyes.

 

“Okay, be like that. You’re always so quick to get defensive! Oh, and before you throw a  tantrum. Yes, your scrolls made it from Virgil. Everything is okay. Sleep.” Lila stood and left the room in a huff.

 

Gabrielle exhaled slowly, hoping to ease the pounding in her head. It had been a long time since she’d been taken so off guard. It was really her fault for not being aware of her surroundings. She was teaching the youngest class how to hide and call each to each other in the trees. She was right in the middle of explaining how to listen beyond the natural noises when she’d spotted Kalliope and the messenger boy on the edge of the woods. Those two beats that she spent trying to see what they were doing ruined the whole rhythm of the lesson. At least she showed the girls what not to do. It was still blurry but she’d probably been knocked out of the tree onto the forest bed. Although by what, she did not know.

 

Her students, a gaggle of rescued girls from the a few villages away, were set to partake in their Amazon judgement in a few moons, so Gabrielle had been refining their skills by teaching technique thats would ensure that all of the girls passed. Then, after they all received their first weapons from their Blacksmith, they would be free to move on to the adult Amazon career paths like being cooks, scouts, or defense.

 

But, Lila’s Granddaughter Kalliope was too young to participate and as someone who used to be in awe of the band of women warriors, Gabrielle understood the envy. The larger-than-life band of matriarchal warriors was so...romantic in a sense. She knew it was only time until the small girl would be interested in learning the Amazon Way but that she didn’t expect that to happen so soon. Maybe she would talk to her niece Sarah about starting her into the new band of girls arriving. Perhaps after the Joining ceremony.

 

Many, Many summers ago, an emotionally beaten and very broken Gabrielle had washed up on the shores of Greece with nothing left to give. Her soulmate, her partner, her lover, her everything was gone. There was no purpose to life anymore. Her parents were dead, Cyrene was dead. She hadn’t heard from Lila or Sarah in a very long time. She didn’t even know what day it was - the time between the awful boat ride from Jappa and her stepping foot on Grecian soils was unknown. Still in mourning, Gabrielle spoke to no one and only ate when forced. Only once during her trip home was she visited by Aphrodite in a dreamscape only to forget most of it when she woke. This self-inflicted time of spiritual mourning carried on for quite a long time.

 

Penniless, emaciated, and emotionally vacant. Gabrielle went to the last place she’d felt safe - Meg’s tavern. Even though Joxer was gone and Meg nowhere to be found, Virgil still was around and had a healing effect on the bard when he was near. When she’d arrived, he’d taken her into his arms and they’d wept for all they’d lost in the past. Soon, they packed their things and headed to Amphipolis. Every night they’d talk about their families, their loves, and make plans for the future. Sometimes they spoke of the Elysian Fields and how their relatives must be upset at how they were reacting. Sometimes they screamed at those who had left - especially those who willing sacrificed their precious lives. Occasionally one would wander off for some time alone. This made their journey pretty long, but with nothing to live for and no one waiting for them, who was in a hurry?



Chapter Text

Virgil and Gabs had gotten very close to each other on the long journey. One particularly poor night in Thessaly, after too much port and a lot of venting, Virgil had stopped them while walking home and taken her face in his hands They stood nose to nose under the moon. For a brief second, Gabrielle thought he was going to kiss her. The idea didn’t seem to bother her, but she knew that she was thinking from a place of vengeance towards Xena and didn’t view the man in front of her as anything more than a brother. To most of the people in the town  they must’ve looked a pair of passionate lovers. Alas, they were simply two forlorn people who had dealt with more grief and despair than any human should have to endure.

 

Virgil had thickly whispered to her and she replied the same. Together, they made a pact. They promised one another that no matter what troubles they may find in life, they would make Gabrielle’s scrolls and his poetry be known;  that everyone in Greece and beyond would know the tales of Xena the Warrior Princess, and Gabrielle the Battling Bard. Gabrielle had sobbed on Virgil, muttering over and over that Joxer was a hero too and that Virgil’s poetry about his father would be famous. Together they laid in bed that night, arms entangled and sobbing.

 

They’d awoken with a new sense of purpose and devised a plan: Virgil would stop in Thrace and hire a crew to transcribe Gabrielle’s stories and scrolls to send to libraries all around the world. As an added bonus, he promised to tell her tales at all events at taverns and city celebrations. No longer would the names Xena and Gabrielle be a set of mysteries and gossip told in kitchens and servant’s quarters. No longer would the name Joxer the Mighty be a crass, emasculating insult thrown to warlords under the table.

 

While he was building his literary empire, Gabrielle had trekked on. Once she’d gotten to Amphipolis, she’d paid the due taxes on Cyrene’s tavern and claimed ownership of the building. No more than a few candlemarks into her new endeavor, she’d broken down and sprinted out of the tavern. She ran that like for so long, her legs went numb and only stopped to vomit on the road with no one but the moon to keep her company. She’d continued to jog at a much safer place and by sunrise the next morning could be found fast asleep at the foot of the door she hadn’t seen in ages. When Sarah opened the door and started Gabrielle awake they had sat there for a minute. No one asked where the other half of her heart was. It seemed that everyone had simply understood. Gabrielle had been welcomed into the house by her niece and her sister for a while to heal and decompress.

 

Lila sobbed hard when she’d recounted the events of Jappa to her. It was obvious to anyone that Xena had not been her favorite but Lila had stated on more than one occasion that the Warrior Princess was a blessing to their family from the Gods. A few weeks later, Gabrielle, Lila, Sarah, and all of their belongings were on the road to Amphipolis with determined faces and aching hearts.



Now, Gabrielle had single-handedly built the foundation for a new Amazon Nation. The first year was cleaning and rebuilding a lot of the tavern. Virgil had come to visit with a couple of helping hands. They’d taken the stables and tripled the size to hold their horses and  their weapons. Out back very deep into the woods had a large clearing for huts and training facilities. Inside was either given to newcomers, or used as a makeshift hospice.

 

Now many years later, Virgil esteemed bard of Thessaly - whos prose was sung from Greece to Chin - had formed a Bibliotheca where a team of scribes translated Gabrielle’s scrolls into 8 languages and sent as far as they could get them. She would send him one via messenger and a season or so later, get the same scroll back along with a small update on the business. Sometimes she visited them when scouting for potential sisters, but it had been quite a while. Due to the rising number of Amazons developing and her aging body, Gabrielle’s travels had dwindled significantly.

 

The first few years had been a bit slow. But, once they had acquired enough trained Amazons to form a scouting party that was bigger than just Gabs and a horse, the numbers had climbed exponentially. Now at almost 3000 sisters hidden away Gabrielle had found a new sense of purpose.

 

Every summer a band of Amazon scouts travelled to all corners of the known world looking for women and children who wanted to join in rebuilding the Amazon nation. Most of the women were widows and the children, orphans but even then they always came back with almost triple the women that they left with. Sometimes they were friendly, sometimes not. But, she always made sure to acquaint herself with all of them and to form relationships with all of the women - especially the ones who left their homes with nothing but the clothes on their back. Every time a new batch of recruits came, Gabrielle would recount her story of becoming an Amazon during a large welcome dinner. Many times the dinner was a great experience, usually a large celebration of new life and destinies. Those who were with child were honored as well, for birthing the continuation of a strong Amazon Nation.

 

Gabrielle made it a specific point to be at every birth within the nation.The girls were kept as Amazons in the camps along with their families. The boys were taken to Virgil and his community for education and boarding. It was common for families to go back and forth between the two camps. The Amazon Academy of Amphipolis and the Bibliotheca of Thrace were the two greatest things borne of such horrific loss and sadness.

 

Gabs laid back and tried to refocus her eyes to to avail. Based on her teachings from Xena and her days in the field, she estimated that the trauma to her head would heal in a few days. These next few days would be unpacking what Virgil had sent back and going over what the next batch of scrolls to him would be. If there was one thing she was terrible at it, it was being patient.







Chapter Text

 

 

It was the smell that hit her before anything else. Sweet, almost like a berry jam, but not too gooey. She couldn’t identify the exact taste but memories of indulging in similar sweet treats in her youth made her mouth water and her cheeks hurt. It didn’t help that she seemed to be ridiculously hungry. But, that was something that the Warrior Princess had learned do in her years of travelling. Wait, why was she hungry?

 

She was dead.

 

Dead people aren’t hungry.

 

Wasn’t she dead? She had specific memories of her lips on Gabrielle’s salty skin as she was transported by a force far greater than anything she’d ever encountered in wave of ethereal twinkles. After that, everything was blank - as if someone had stolen the memories right from her mind. Was this Hell? Was she doomed to live out a sentence of fleeting memories?

 

That was not what she expected.

 

She tried to open her resistant eyes and let loose a feral scream when the blazing light overwhelmed her vision until tears formed and spilled forth. A billion tiny starlights danced in front of her mimicking the shaking a dirty rug. Her lungs filled with a deep breath to scream again and the thorny scratch of the air tearing through her paperlike chest killed the yowl in her throat before it could even form. To even breathe felt like sharp grass slicing her flesh piece by piece. Her grip tightened on the edges of the wooden pallet she was on, making her joints crack in deep, echoing pops.

 

Where was Gabrielle?

What was this place?

Was she dead?

Maybe she was in Tartarus?

 

No. Couldn’t be.

 

Xena quickly ignored the screaming in her bones as she moved her body slightly to get a better look at her surroundings. The pushback of her unused muscles was pretty intense. Every movement was a serious effort and she could already sense it would take a while to even get her mobility back to a fraction of what it was in her prime. There was something familiar about the sweet smell, the large ornate ceilings, and the very obvious...fur beneath her?

 

She quickly did the math and curled one lip in anger. What had that mad harpy done now?

 

“Aphrodite!”

 

She waited a moment and flinched when more light beams hurt her still-sensitive eyes. The recognizable tinkle of love bells echoed throughout the chamber and suddenly Xena felt a wave of warmth and comfort pour into her body.

 

“Hey Warrior Babe!” The bodacious blonde seemed very excited. “I’ve been waiting for like a millenia for you to wake up!”

 

Xena’s eyes widened. Was Aphrodite dead too? She didn’t look dead. Honestly, she looked the same as the she’d remembered her, tall hair and all.

 

“No, silly!” the Goddess rolled her eyes. “I saved you. Hello, a ‘thank you ‘dite’ would be pretty appropriate right now.”

 

Xena groaned, of course the Aphrodite could read her mind. They must be on Olympus, or whatever survived the twilight of the Gods.

 

“What..how?” Xena paled. “Those four-”

 

“-ty thousand souls. We get it. It’s okay! I pulled a few favors and batted my Lashes o’ Love at a few important deities. I’ve been healing you slowly! Since I’m the only Olympian God around, my powers have kinda dipped. It’s a major bummer but that’s how it unfolded.” The Goddess motioned for her to get off the stiff wood she’d been lain on. Xena looked around where they were. Everything was a varying shade of pinks and purples and almost everything sparkled. It was almost cute in a fairy princess type of way. If fairy princesses kept well-oiled men in collars around. She opened her mouth to ask Aphrodite if she’d seen Cupid lately but changed her focus when she realized what the Goddess had said.

 

“Only god on Olympus? Ares?” Xena sat up and groaned at how stiff she felt. It was no secret that the God of War was a permanent thorn in her side. Even after seducing her with tales and promises of great power many, many years prior, the oblivious man-child would always have a special place in her heart. Dare she say...she kinda liked him?

 

“Ugh, he decided that Greece wasn’t happenin’ enough for the God of War. You can find him going by Mars in Rome. But, don’t call for him, he won’t answer. He’s completely cut ties with us.” Aphrodite shrugged and looked morose for a moment. After a few seconds of silence, the Goddess looked up and let out an exasperated sigh.

 

“Xena, just ask. Seriously.” I can FEEL how much you want to ask - it’s okay.”

 

“Gabrielle?” the crack in Xena’s voice was very noticeable. She didn’t even have the full details of her resurrection worked out but the only thing she truly cared about was her soulmate, her lover, her best friend. She could definitely handle a world without Ares. Gabrielle, though, was not a negotiable clause.

 

Aphrodite sighed and nodded a few times before she shrugged towards Xena.

 

“She’s had it rough, Babe. She almost didn’t make it off the boat from Jappa. It was bad. I don’t even like to think about it - I get the heebie jeebies. For a while I didn’t feel anything from her; no emotions at all. She’s much better now, but I can feel how much she misses you. She looks pretty good too. I mean, for a mortal. She looks better than most do after a twenty year sob fest.”

 

Xena’s jaw dropped and her hands flew in the air. She’d estimated that she’d been on Olympus for a season or so, not an entire lifetime!

 

“Twenty years!” Xena cried out, the defeated words contorting into a sorrowful howl. “That’s a whole lifetime!” Not only had she missed out on even more of her daughter’s life, she’d likely missed out on the majority of Gabrielle’s too. Would they even remember her? She’d spent more time away from Gabrielle than with her. Eve had barely even known of her? Two decades was an eternity to be alone.

 

“I said almost, geeze! Also, I couldn’t heal you faster without losing my immortality and ruining everything! I mean, you look hot too! Being in the dark is good for the skin!”

 

“Can you take me to her?” Xena hopped off the pallet and grimaced at the pain that trickled down her legs.

 

“Hey! Be careful! I healed you but you’re still not as spry as you were when you weren’t dead. Oh Gods, that is such a weird thing to say.”

 

Xena walked tentatively towards one of the many mirrors in the Goddess’ lair to inspect herself. She noticed that her hair was much longer that it was back in Chin. It was messy and snarled, the exact same way it had been during her years as a warlord. How fitting. Back where she started. Other than that and a few small changes to her face, there really wasn’t much of a difference from the last time she’d seen her own reflection.

 

“Can you take me to her?” the vulnerable warrior asked again, almost afraid of the answer she’d get.

 

“See, I would. But, I can’t leave Olympus anymore. Since I’m the only one here now, every time I leave the powers keeping it hidden start to fade. If a mortal finds us here, it could be the end for me.” Aphrodite frowned and shrugged. “I can, however, drop you back down with the mortals. Would you like that?”

 

“So I could find Gabrielle myself? I can do that. Do you know where she is?” Xena asked, already stretching her limbs. She slowly went through some basic combative moves and started working out the kinks in her muscles.

 

“I don’t, I’m sorry. I looked after her for a long time. But, eventually she stopped talking to me. She probably thinks I’ve abandoned her. Oh, this is so upsetting!” Aphrodite collapsed onto a large cushion that appeared underneath her and started to fan herself. “I can feel her love, same as any mortal. But, I can’t see her, I hope you understand.”

 

“So she hasn’t forsaken love?” Xena’s breath hitched as she spoke.

 

The Goddess looked appalled at the suggestion - her hair clips bobbing with the incredulous head bobble she gave Xena. “Uh, no! I’m offended. Gabs? Give up on love? Do you even know who you’re talking about? Did that big giant death nap make you a big giant dummy?”

 

Xena laughed off the half-hearted insult and threw her hands in the air. “If she still believes in love I will find her. Where am I getting dropped?”

 

“I’ll drop you on the foot of Olympus.” Aphrodite looked like she wanted to say something else but kept quiet.

 

“Of course. That’s fine. Closer to home than Jappa. Do you have my weapons?” Xena felt like a part of her being was missing without the familiar weight of her leathers and accessories.  Something about parading around society with just a night shift and a stiff neck didn’t seem appealing.

 

Aphrodite shot her an innocent look and backed away towards the

 

“I don’t, actually. Gabs took them all when she left Jappa. All i can give you is one of my dresses and some dinars. Before you get mad, it’s actually a good thing because no one - God or human - knows you’re alive. You’ll have to lay low babe, I don’t want anyone to meddle with this.”

“So let me get this straight,” Xena started with a grimace. “You steal my body, take twenty years to revive me only to drop me on earth with nothing?”

 

“I mean when you say it like that!” The Goddess’ lip started to tremble.

 

“I’m sorry Aphrodite! Come here. I’m just grumpy.” Xena held her arms out to the blonde in front of her. When they embraced, she placed a kiss against Aphrodite’s blonde-brushed temple and whispered, “Thank you.”

 

“You’re welcome! I know it’s not fair, but you and Gabby are my favorite mortals. You’ve both been to Tartarus and back trying to get your happy ending. I sure hope things work out. Oh, and when you see her, give her a big ol’ kiss from your favorite Goddess and remind her that I’m still here for her.”

 

Xena arched an eyebrow and laughed when the Love Goddess winked back at her. She paced nervously and eventually hopped from foot to foot as she waited for the familiar sensation of being teleported by a God surrounded her. She closed her eyes and let the feeling envelop her. As her body transcended time, she let herself be filled with the joy that she was now alive and in the same world as Gabrielle.

 

But would Gabs still be the kind-hearted Amazon that Xena had left all those years on the seas of the far east? Hell, was she still in the far east? There was only one way to find out.