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FRIEND?

Part 1 and 2

By: Bard2Dbone
Bard2DBone@aol.com


DISCLAIMER: This story contains extreme violence and blood and guts type stuff so if that grosses you out then you might not want to read this story.


Xena and Gabrielle had been traveling all day were visibly tired from the long journey. It was getting dark and they decided to stop for the night. A long stretch of tall grass by the side of a pond was to be their campground for the night.

"I think I could sleep forever, Iím so tired," Gabrielle said as she fell to the ground in exhaustion.

"Iím pretty tired too. Letís set up camp by those two trees over there and then call it a night," Xena said as she dismounted from Argoís back.

The night was calm and still, hardly any breeze at all. Gabrielle slept like a log, snoring away. She turned over to get more comfortable and felt a brisk breeze blow by her. It was enough to awaken her from her deep sleep. She sat up and immediately looked over at Xena who was fast asleep. Gabrielle remained very still, only her eyeballs moved as they scanned the area but only found darkness. After a moment, Gabrielle laid back down and shut her eyes but still opened them every so often to check and make sure all was clear. Something felt wrong to her but nothing appeared to be wrong. She didnít get much sleep for the rest of the night.

In the morning, Xena awoke to find Gabrielle gone. "Gabrielle?" Xena yelled. "Gabrielle?" she yelled again as she stood up and grabbed her sword from where it laid on the ground.

Gabrielle came around by the other side of the tree, "Iím over here. I was getting some water. You all right? You look a little spooked?" Gabrielle walked past Xena and started to pick up their gear so that they could continue on their way.

As they walked along, Xena walking beside Argo and Gabrielle doing the same while twirling her staff, Gabrielle asked, "So...where are we heading anyway? Whatís our plan?"

"No plan. Just would like to head towards Amphipolis to make sure everything is safe and sound," Xena said as she sauntered along.

"Why? Do you think maybe thereís trouble there?" Gabrielle asked as she stopped twirling her staff and became more attentive.

"Letís just say Iíve got this funny feeling and when I get this funny feeling that usually means something is wrong at home. I just want to check it out is all," Xena explained.

"Iím sure everyone is fine. Letís take the eastern route and head up that way instead," Gabrielle suggested.

Xena stopped dead in her tracks, "What for? I just said, weíre going to Amphipolis because I think there might be trouble there and now you want to go somewhere else instead?"

"Xena, I just think that youíre being paranoid is all. If your village was in trouble, wouldnít they have sent out a messenger to tell you?" Gabrielle said.

"What the hell is wrong with you? Youíre never like this." Xena started to get mad and was also a little confused as to Gabrielleís behavior.

"Iím sorry. I didnít mean anything by it. I just think that if there was trouble, someone would have sent for you. Iím sorry. If you want to go to Amphipolis, fine, weíll go." Gabrielle took her eyes off Xena and continued walking. "Come on, letís go or itíll take forever at your pace."

Xena just stood there for a minute and shook her head. Something was wrong but she couldnít quite figure out what.

"Weíre almost there. Two more villages to pass through is all. We should be there before dark," Xena said as she and Gabrielle headed through a dense Forrest.

Suddenly a man jumped out of a tree and landed on his feet in front of Xena. He held a sword high in the air, "Why hello Xena. Going somewhere?"

"Whatís it to you?" she answered sarcastically as she unsheathed her sword.

"Well...letís just say that me and my friends think that it would be in your best interest to turn around and go back where you came from. But if you insist on pressing forward well then...youíll just have to die by our swords." The man let out a loud laugh.

Xena remained calm and cool and seemed unaffected by his threats. "Friends? Heheheh youíve got friends."

The man looked at Xena and then clapped his hands twice. Suddenly, men appeared out of no where armed with swords, axes and cross bows. "Yes Xena...meet my friends." The men stood there and waited for Xena to make a move. She remained still, probably trying to decide what to do. Then the man yelled at the top of his lungs, "KILL HER!!!!"

Then men came charging towards Xena and Gabrielle. Xena gave Argo a slap on her butt and sent her off so she wouldnít get hurt in the fight. Gabrielle got her staff ready but none of the men charged at her, the only went for Xena who had now yelled her battle cry and did a flip in the air, kicking two men in the face on her way down to the ground. For some odd reason, Gabrielle froze and all she could do was watch as these men came at Xena. Xena seemed to be holding her own nicely for men were flying left and right, most not even being able to get up and re-attack. After a few moments there were only about ten men left. Two of them charged at Xena while the others held back, waiting for the outcome of their friends attack on the warrior. The leader of this group was one of the charging men. He whipped his sword around towards Xenaís stomach but only caught air as she side stepped his attempts. The other man came at her with an ax, but was soon knocked to the ground as her sword pierced through his chest like a knife through butter. The leader of the group put a hand up as the rest of the men started to charge forward, "NO! Sheís mine now! I want her blood on my hands!!!" he yelled as he lunged forward at her with his sword. She deflected it and knocked the sword out of his hand. He reached behind his back and pulled out a large dagger. He twirled around and kicked at Xena, missing the first time and then making direct contact the second time. He hit her in the jaw, the jolt sent her back a bit. While she was stunned by the blow he twirled around the other way and landed a kick to her sword hand, knocking her sword to the ground. Then he hurled a punch that caught her square in the face, sending her to the ground as blood poured from her nose. He stood there and laughed as she tried to remain focused. She got to her feet and then he lunged toward her with his dagger. The dagger sank deep into her left side. She fell to the ground in pain, grabbing her wound and realizing the dagger was still in there. Gabrielle was still frozen during all of this until she felt something push her forward, knocking her out of her trance. She ran to Xena who was still lying on the ground under the manís feet.

"NO! STOP!" she yelled. She looked at Xena who was in obvious pain but was struggling to get up on her feet.

The man took a step back and wondered how this girl was going to attempt to stop him from killing Xena, "If I were you little girl, Iíd get out of the way and let me finish giving Xena what she deserves."

"NO! I wonít let you!" Gabrielle yelled at the man.

"Youíre starting to annoy me. So unless you want to die along with your friend, youíll get out of the way," the man said as his eyes pierced through hers.

Xena was now sitting up and was starting to get to her feet when Gabrielle yelled, "Youíre not going to kill her alone then. Iíll help you!" Gabrielle turned to Xena and looked her straight in the eyes. Xena quickly got to her feet but stumbled a bit.

"Men! The arrows please if you will!" the leader yelled to his remaining army. The men launched four arrows at Xena. She tried desperately to duck out of the way but one arrow managed to hit her in the right shoulder, sending her down to the ground again. The arrow head had made it all the way through but got shoved back in a bit when she landed on her back. She reached up with her left hand and grabbed part of the arrow and did the same with her right hand and broke most of the arrow off. She felt that she could lose conciousness any minute but struggled to stay alert for she couldnít figure out why Gabrielle had turned on her. Blood poured down her arm and back from the arrow wound. And blood poured down her leg from the dagger wound. Still, she fought the pain and remained alert.

Gabrielle approached Xena and stood over her. "Oh..whatís the matter. Canít get up? Well...get up!" Gabrielle kicked Xena in her side, the side with the dagger protruding out of it. "Get up! What kind of a warrior are you...GET UP!" Gabrielle grabbed Xena and yanked her up onto her feet, but Xena slumped a bit due to her wounds. Xenaís face showed emense pain but Gabrielle didnít seem to care.

"Why Gabrielle? What is wrong with you? Who did this to you?" Xena asked as a tear came to her eye.

"No one did this to me Xena. Iíve felt this way for so long and I canít surpress these feelings any more. And if I have to lose my blood innocence by killing you...so be it!" Gabrielle turned away from Xena as Xena fell to her knees. "You men can go now. I want to settle this."

The leader of the group had never anticipated that Xenaís little friend would turn on Xena like this and was a little shaken by it. He thought a moment and then spoke, "Very well...Iíve had my fun for one day." The leader and his men headed out of the forest, leaving Xena and Gabrielle alone.

Xena, still on her knees doubled-over in pain, strained to look up at Gabrielle, "Why?"

Gabrielle got her staff and walked over to Xena, "Because you deserve it. Can you think of any other reason?" Gabrielle then took the staff and struck Xena in the face. Blood started to stream the side of her face by her left eye. "You make me sick, Xena! All those terrible things you did to Callisto and everyone else. Youíve never fully paid for your crimes...until now." Gabrielle raised her staff once again, Xena closed her eyes and held her breath. Gabrielle stopped and froze once again. Xena waited to be struck for she didnít have the strength to defend herself, but the strike never came. She looked up and saw Gabrielle looking right in her eyes and as still as a statue. Then Gabrielle snapped out of it and appeared confused. She put her staff down and rubbed her eyes. Then looked over and saw Xena. Her hands flew to her face, "XENA! Oh no!!! What happened to you? Who did this to you?" Gabrielle took Xena in her arms and cried uncontrollably. It was almost as if Gabrielle wasnít around to see what she and the attackers had done to Xena.

Xena was tired, hurt and confused. Xena fell back and lost consciousness.

Gabrielle needed to get Xena some help, fast. She remembered Xena saying that Amphipolis wasnít too far from where they were so she made a litter, laid Xena on it and headed to Amphipolis.

The journey seemed to take forever, probably because Gabrielle would stop every so often and tend to Xenaís wounds. When they got to the village, Xenaís mother was just coming out of the tavern. She looked up and recognized Gabrielle but thought it was odd that Xena wasnít by her side. "Help!" Gabrielle yelled. "Its Xena. Sheís hurt really bad and needs help."

Xenaís mother came running over and saw Xena lying on the litter covered with a blood stained blanket. "What happened?" her mother cried.

"We were on our way here because Xena thought the village might be in trouble and then these men attacked us...well...her...and I donít know what happened after that. Its a long story. We need to help her!" Gabrielle started crying.

Some villagers ran out of the tavern when they heard the commotion and came over to help get Xena into the house. The village doctor came running into the house with all of his medical supplies and tools. He removed the blanket, revealing the severity of her wounds. Xenaís mother saw the dagger sticking out of her daughterís side and fainted. The villagers tended to her mother as the doctor continued to inspect Xenaís wounds and make a diagnosis. Gabrielle stayed by Xenaís side, holding her hand to comfort her dispite the fact she still remained unconscious. "I donít think the dagger punctured any organs so thatís a good sign. The arrow made a clean pass through. Sheís lost a lot of blood though, thatís my main concern. Letís clear this place out so I can get to work," the doctor said as he started to set up the tools he needed.

The villagers left the house, taking Xenaís mother with them. The last thing she needed to see when she wakes up is her daughter being sewn up. "Iím not leaving her," Gabrielle said. "I want to stay and help. Sheís my friend and Iím NOT leaving her." Gabrielle started to cry.

The doctor sighed, "Okay you can stay." He could see the look in Gabrielleís eyes that she cared very much for Xena.

They worked long into the night. Gabrielle was exhausted beyond belief but made herself stay awake. When morning came Xena rested comfortably, Gabrielle at her side still holding her hand. Xena stirred a bit and then opened her eyes. Gabrielle looked back into those baby blues, "Morning. How are you?"

It took a moment for Xena to focus but then the picture cleared and she saw Gabrielleís face. She jumped a bit, remembering what had happened, and winced in pain when she did so. "Gabrielle..."

"You okay? You had me so worried last night," Gabrielle said as tears started to fall from her eyes.

"Iím okay." Xena was still unsure as to whether or not she was talking to Gabrielle or that impostor that she had met up with yesterday.

"Iíll go get your mother, Iím sure she canít wait to see that youíre okay," Gabrielle got up and ran out of the room.

Xena was still a bit confused as to where she was. Then her mother entered the room and she came over to Xena. "My little one. Donít you go scaring your mother like that again!" Her mother hugged her and wanted to squeeze her tight but didnít want to hurt her.

"Mother. How did I get here?" Xena asked.

"Gabrielle took you here. Its a good thing you werenít far away or...," her mother started to cry.

Xena put a hand on her mothers hand, "Iíll be all right. Iíve been through worse."

"Rest now. Rest and get strong. Iíll come back in a little while to check on you." Her mother gave her a kiss on her cheek that was now black and blue, then left the room.

Gabrielle re-entered, "Iím gonna go help your mother for a bit in the tavern while you rest. Give a yell if you need me." Gabrielle gave Xenaís hand a quick squeeze and left the warrior to sleep.

Xena still continued to wonder what had come over Gabrielle but was getting more and more sleepy just thinking about it. The medicine the doctor had given her was still making her drowsy. Within a few minutes, she drifted off to sleep.

A few days had past and Xena was healing fast, as usual, but her sword arm was still not 100%. She'd try swinging it around but didn't get very far as pain rushed through her body. "Damn!" Xena said under her breath.

Gabrielle came into the room and saw Xena with her sword in her right hand and her left hand clutching her arrow wound. "What are you doing?" Gabrielle asked her, hands on her hips. "You can't expect to go twirling that sword around...its only been a few days. You'll end up making it worse, so stop it and put that thing away!" Gabrielle went over to her friend and grabbed the sword from her hand. Xena backed away a bit as Gabrielle took the sword from her. Nothing ever seemed to scare Xena but the thought of her best friend trying to kill her did. "Now, sit back down and rest," Gabrielle instructed her.

Xena wanted to talk to Gabrielle about what had happened the other day but didn't know how to bring it up or quite explain what had happened for it was just too bizarre. But she knew that sooner or later she'd have to mention it, for it wasn't a no-big-deal situation. Xena sat down in a chair by the window and eyed her sword that was still in Gabrielle's hand. "Can I have it back now. I want to sharpen it."

"Only if you promise not to go twirling it around," Gabrielle said as she gave the sword back to Xena. "I'm gonna go check on Argo and see that she's fed before I turn in for the night." Gabrielle turned and headed out the door.

Later that evening, Xena could hardly sleep. She would wake up every half hour or so in a cold sweat. This whole issue with Gabrielle was nagging at her something fierce. She knew that the next morning she had to talk to her about it. She turned over and closed her eyes, in an attempt to fall back to sleep. Suddenly, she heard a noise and her eyes flew open. She sat up in bed and as soon as she did there was someone behind her with a dagger to her throat. "Move and I'll slice your throat," the voice said.

Xena knew that voice all too well. "What is it you want? If you wanted to kill me why didn't you do it before when you had the chance?"

The dagger dropped from Xena's neck and the owner of that dagger came around her to look her in the eyes. It was Gabrielle. "It was too easy then, now that I think about it. Those men did most of the work. I want to kill you from start to finish so I can enjoy every single moment of it." Gabrielle got off the bed and walked around in front of it. Xena remained sitting up in the bed and looked to her right where her sword lay on a chair. It was out of reach and would be even harder to get considering her right shoulder was still not fully healed. "Oh no you don't," Gabrielle said as she saw Xena look at her sword. She quickly went over there and grabbed it.

"Gabrielle, what happened to you?" Xena asked. She didn't want to have to hurt Gabrielle but knew she might not have a choice.

"Why Xena? You don't like the new me? I like it...in fact I LOVE it! I feel so much power rushing through me." Gabrielle paced back and forth as she spoke. "But still you wonder where all this stems from don't you? Well...seeing as we're best friends and all I supposed I could share my little secret with you." Gabrielle started to laugh and then took a step back. Right before Xena's eyes she transformed into...Ares.

"Ares! I should have known you were behind all this. What now? You've left me alone for so long and I was enjoying it," Xena said sarcastically.

"You should know that I never give up. Sure I might lay off you but I'll NEVER give up. I still want you to lead my army, Xena. There is NO ONE else for the job but you. So here's how we do this...you either lead my army or I leave your precious little Gabrielle the way she is, with these terrible outbursts of violence towards you. You see, I can control how violent they get and Xena my dear...they'll get VERY violent if you chose not to lead my army. And I know you don't want to hurt Gabrielle so you'll just let her beat the crap out of you like the noble little warrior you are." Ares let out a loud laugh.

"Why can't you just face it Ares, I'm NOT going to fight for you! I'd rather die!" Deep down inside Xena didn't really want to die, but fighting for Ares would be a mistake and would be close to death anyway. "Leave Gabrielle out of this," Xena pleaded.

"Oh but that's what makes it so fun, Xena. Gabrielle is your friend and watching her kick your ass all over Tarterus and back brings me so much joy!" Ares let out another laugh. "She's just doing my dirty work for me is all. You think about it Xena, and think fast for you never know when Gabrielle might throw a hissy fit on you!" Ares laughed, waved a hand over his face and disappeared into the night.

Xena didn't know what to do. She leaned back against the wall and spent the rest of the night trying to think of a plan.

Morning came and Xena went into the tavern for some breakfast. Gabrielle was already there, as was Xena's mother and a few villagers. "Gabrielle, we have to talk." Xena put a hand on Gabrielle's shoulder.

"Sure...what about," Gabrielle asked with a concerned look in her eye.

"Let's go sit over at a table in the back." Xena and Gabrielle sat down and Xena started to tell Gabrielle about what was going on, "Remember the other day how you just froze when those men came and attacked me...well...it wasn't because of fear, someone made you freeze like that. It was..."

Before Xena could get the word out Gabrielle said it, "Ares!"

"Yes, I'm afraid so. He's using you to get to me so every once in a while he takes control over your mind and turns you against me." Xena looked at Gabrielle and could see all of this sinking in.

"Oh no! Then I did this to you!" Gabrielle's hands covered her mouth and tears started falling from her eyes.

"Well...you didn't do all of it. You hit me pretty good though with your staff." Xena looked away from Gabrielle.

Gabrielle reached up and touched the black and blue mark by Xena's eye. "Xena, I am soooo sorry! I can't believe I did that to you."

"Gabrielle, YOU didn't do it to me Ares did. Its not your fault," Xena assured her as she took Gabrielle's hand in hers.

"So this is going to happen again then, right?" Gabrielle asked, unsure of whether she really wanted to hear the answer because she knew what the answer was.

"Yes...it will. But there may be a way that we can stop Ares from doing this. I need to talk to Hades, he might be our only hope." A tear came to Xena's eye.

"I can't believe this is happening. I feel sick now," Gabrielle's face turned white.

"Gabrielle, I just want you to know that if and when it does happen again, I'm not going to fight back. I don't want to hurt you, that's what Ares wants and I'm NOT going to do it!" Xena said in a stern voice.

"But Xena, what if I really hurt you. You have to at least defend yourself," Gabrielle said as she wiped tears from her eyes.

"I can't Gabrielle, and won't. I need to talk to Hades though right away so I'm leaving for his castle after breakfast. I want you to stay here with mother. If you're here and I'm there then we won't have a problem...I hope," Xena said as she got up and walked towards the tavern bar.

Gabrielle remained seated and spoke softly under her breath, "Hope won't help you Xena." Gabrielle had a wide smile on her face but Xena couldn't see it because her back was turned.

After Xena had eaten, she set out to Hades' castle.

She had reached the gates of the castle and successfully fought off Hades' guards. Hades was seated behind a large table, dressed head to toe in black. "Hello, Xena. What brings you here or can I guess," Hades said.

"I need your help. Ares has taken over Gabrielle's mind and makes her very violent towards me. As you can see by my face, we had an incident recently. He gave me a choice, I can either lead his army or if I say no then he'll leave Gabrielle the way she is. There must be some way to stop him!" Xena pleaded.

"Ares never ceases to amaze me, Xena." Hades rose from his chair and paced back and forth.

"Please, Hades. I can't go on with Gabrielle like this. She's my best friend and I can't hurt her. I could easily stop her when she attacks me but that's what Ares wants! He wants me to kill my best friend so that will just add to the needless deaths on my conscience. Please...there must be something," Xena said as she stood there with clenched fists.

"There might be something. I have a powder that can be given only to those who have never stained their hands with blood," Hades said.

"Gabrielle has NEVER killed anyone so this will work!" Xena yelled.

"You must give this to her only when you are completely sure that Ares is NOT in control of her mind. If he is in control of her mind at the time, it'll make him even stronger," Hades told her as he reached for a key in his jacket. "Meet me by the entrance and you will have this powder." Hades exited through a small door next to a book shelf. Xena headed for the entrance.

 

Xena raced back to Amphipolis. Even though it was dark and should have stopped to sleep, she kept on. When she reached Amphipolis the sun was just starting to come up. Xena looked in Gabrielle's room but she wasn't there. Maybe she got up to make an early breakfast, Xena thought. She went into the tavern only to find it empty. Maybe she went to the near-by creek for a morning swim, she thought. Xena then went out into the village courtyard to take Argo's saddle off when Gabrielle came around the corner. "Gabrielle! There you are." Xena almost ran to her but then stopped herself, remembering what Hades had told her about making sure that Ares wasn't in control of Gabrielle's mind when she gave her the powder.

"I went out for a walk to clear my head," Gabrielle said as she walked closer towards Xena.

Xena didn't quite know where to begin as far as giving her a test in order to find out if Ares was in control or not. "Tell me about your sister and about your village," Xena instructed her.

Gabrielle chuckled a little, "Why? You've heard those stories before."

"I like them so much I want to hear them again," Xena said as she removed Argo's saddle.

"Let me help you with that," Gabrielle offered as she reached out to grab part of the saddle.

Xena looked at Gabrielle's arm and noticed some blood on it. "What happened?"

Gabrielle looked at her arm and saw the blood, "I must have cut myself. I was eating an apple and must have slipped with the knife."

"On your arm?" Xena questioned.

"No...I cut my finger and must have somehow got blood on my arm," Gabrielle said as she wiped the blood away. "So you sure you want to hear those stories again?"

"Yup...let er rip," Xena said as they carried the saddle into the tavern.

Gabrielle told the stories exactly the same way she had told them the first hundred or so times Xena had heard them. Ares must not be in control of her mind, he couldn't know how those stories went. Xena reached into the small pouch that was attached to her belt and took out a small sack that contained the powder. She went to the tavern bar and got mug of water and poured the powder into the water. She returned to the table where Gabrielle was still telling the stories, "Here...after all that story-telling you probably need a drink of water," Xena said as she handed the mug to Gabrielle.

Gabrielle took it and drank every drop then set the mug on the table. Xena watched and waited to see a reaction but didn't see one. "Enough of those stories. Be honest, you didn't want to hear them again did you?" Gabrielle asked.

"Oh I did...they get better each time I hear them!" Xena said as she was confident that everything was going to be fine now that she gave Gabrielle the powder.

"By the way...I almost forgot. I have something to show you. Go out into the courtyard and I'll bring it out," Gabrielle said as she got up and dashed out of the tavern.

Xena got up and went out into the courtyard, waiting for Gabrielle's little surprise.

Gabrielle came out shortly, pulling a small cart. The cart had something on it that was covered with a blanket. "I've been wanting to do this for you for the longest time!" Gabrielle said as she pulled the blanket away, revealing Xena's mother in a pool of her own blood.

Xena's eyes grew wide with surprise and anger. "Mother!"

"Yup...looks like you wasted your time in going to see Hades, Xena. I killed her before you gave me the powder so...your little plan backfired!" Gabrielle let out a loud laugh. "Blood innocence! HA! What a joke!"

Xena fell to her knees and wept, "Stop it Ares! Just stop it!"

Gabrielle continued to laugh, "Oh Xena, you're pathetic! You made this all too easy for me. Now...shall I tell my men that you'll be leading them to great conquests, hmmmmm."

"I told you I'd rather die then come back to you!" Xena screamed.

"Very well then." Gabrielle walked over to Xena and took her sword. Xena didn't try and stop her, she gritted her teeth and clenched her fists. Gabrielle took a step back and then lunged forward plunging the sword into Xena's stomach.

Xena cried out in pain, "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" Suddenly Xena woke up in a cold sweat, breathing as if she'd run a mile without stopping.

Gabrielle rushed to her side when she heard the warrior awaken abruptly, "Its okay Xena. Must have been a dream. Its okay...go back to sleep." Gabrielle put a hand on Xena's shoulder.

Xena rubbed her forehead that dripped with sweat. "Gabrielle?"

"Go back to sleep, Xena. You must have had a nightmare or something." Gabrielle said as she tried to console her shaken friend.

"Yeah...it was a nightmare all right," Xena said as she laid back down to sleep but knew she wouldn't sleep again that night.

 

 

TO BE CONTINUED....


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