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While Iím Waiting…

 

By JL Peterson (Jeri) 2-27-98

Copyright 1998 Ó Ruth2Naomi@aol.com


DISCLAIMERS:

This story is based on the "Xena: Warrior Princess" syndicated television show. All the characters in the story belong to Renaissance Pictures and MCA/Universal. The plot and almost all the action and dialog is mine. This is a not-for-profit public piece of fan fiction that I hope you'll enjoy.

VIOLENCE WARNING / DISCLAIMER

This story depicts scenes of violence and/or their aftermath. Readers who are disturbed by or sensitive to this type of depiction may wish to read something other than this story. It doesn't contain anything more violent or graphic than the television show, so, if you can handle that I'm sure you can handle this.

IMPORTANT:

This story is called "While I'm Waiting…" for two reasons. It immediately follows "BITTER SUITE" (if you havenít seen it or read the spoilers for it, you should do one or the other before proceeding). I, personally, am waiting to see what XWP (the show) will do to at least recover from the wounds it has inflicted on our heroes (and viewers like me) this season. Secondly, in the beginning of this tale, Gabrielle waits for Xena to return from checking on Argo. The story then unfolds while she's waiting…


The blank parchment: Gabrielle gazed at it, stared through it, imagined scenes upon it, knitted her eyebrows, put the tip of her quill to her bottom lip, tapping… "Hmmm…" She pursed her lips, put down the quill and rolled the scroll.

Xena crossed the campsite, placed her hand on the bard's shoulder and reassuringly said, "It will be alright Gabrielle. It will take some time, but you'll get through this - we'll get through this together."

After a moment, Gabrielle stood and walked away, letting Xena's hand drop from her shoulder. She put her writing paraphernalia back in her bag. She returned to sit opposite the fire from Xena and seemed to lose herself in the dancing flames.

Xena looked through the flames, hoping to catch the bard's eyes with hers. "Please talk to me Gabrielle... I want to help - tell me how you feel."

Gabrielle continued to stare blankly into the fire and sighed, "My heart feels so heavy, Xena."

The warrior resisted her urge to move closer. She sat down, looked at the bard intently and patiently waited for more.

"I keep telling myself ĎAll is forgivení... but then I remember everything as if it just happened again. The emotions - the horror, the despair, the pain - they all come back... I murdered a stranger and killed my own daughter... I lied to you and now your son is dead... You battered me and were going to kill me... How can I let go of all these things Xena? How can I go on as if these things never happened? They are like a consuming darkness closing in on me. I feel like Iím losing my faith, Xena... My faith in good rising above evil... My faith in myself... My faith in you.

A look of grief covered Xenaís face. She was going to tell Gabrielle that she just has to fight that darkness - at least thatís what she was going to say until she heard "My faith in you." It was a cut to her heart that tightened her throat. She couldnít speak. Instead she stood, turned and walked away from the fire to the place where Argo was tied. I know how she feels. Until Hercules saw that there was any good in me, I was lost. And then the most loving, good-hearted person came into my life like a guiding light. You, Gabrielle. And now that light is fading and I donít know how to bring it back... If that flame inside her dies...

"CURSE YOU ARES!"

"Itís not my fault Xena." A disembodied voice replied.

Xena turned around to find Ares materializing before her.

"You made the choice Xena. I told you to destroy the temple. You chose to destroy Caesar."

Xena's anger caused her voice to rise. "How could I believe you Ares! I thought you were trying to trick me! To get me back!"

Ares looked back at her in mock disbelief. "Have I ever lied to you? Deceived you a little? Maybe... Hidden the truth from you? Sometimes... Tried to tempt you back to me? Always... But tell you an outright lie? I think not."

The warrior started pacing in an attempt to vent some of her outrage. "I canít believe Zeus sent you - of all people - to tell me! It doesnít make sense! Why didnít you gods just destroy it yourselves!"

"Gods donít build the temples, Xena. People do. As you know, the more worshippers a god has, the more temples and the stronger the god. If I, or even Zeus, showed up to destroy the temple, it would have only served to strengthen the beliefs of Dahak's followers."

In frustration, Xena stopped her pacing and stared up into the clear night sky. "ZEUS! Why send a god I donít trust to warn me! Youíre an IDIOT!"

Within an instant, the entire sky flashed pale blue and everything everywhere disappeared into a blinding white.

A few minutes ago Xena had spoken with Boadicea and was encouraged by the advances her army had made against the Roman army. Although it appeared to be Boadicea's forces that were attacking the Romans, Xena was using her once again, only this time to avenge Xena's personal hatred for Caesar. She had been bolstered by Ares to war with Caesar and to destroy a temple his troops had taken. Xena and Boadicea reclaimed the temple for strategic purposes but left it standing so that the religious cult of the "one god" could resume their worship in it.

As Xena rides into a grassy meadow on her way to monitor the progress of her troops she sees ARES standing in the field swinging his sword in a figure-eight pattern. She dismounts and approaches him.

ARES (bringing his sword down and looking at Xena intently):

The temple? Did you destroy the temple?

XENA (she comes closer to him, glaring at him as she drawls out the words):

What is it about that temple that bothers you so much?

ARES:

There is no place for ONE god in our world.

(He spreads his arms out and shouts)

This is a world that WE created! Zeus, Athena, Hades, Poseidon - It is OUR world!

XENA: (unimpressed)

And before that is was the world of the Titans! Oh - thatís right - Zeus overthrew them didnít he? (Ares looks down as Xena continues with a sneer) Youíre just afraid that history will repeat itself!

ARES (looking back at her):

Whatever you might think about us Xena - You know us. You might love us - you might hate us, but we are NOT evil. THIS god IS.

XENA (with disdain):

Evil to you.

Suddenly HERCULES appears out of thin air.

HERCULES (surprised):

Xena-

XENA (equally surprised):

Hercules-

ARES (irritated):

Hello bastard. Doesnít father trust me?

HERCULES (to Ares, pointing with outstretched arms to Xena):

Xena doesnít trust you.

XENA (confused):

Just whatís going on here?

ARES (ignoring the question and Hercules' intrusion):

Xena, you've got to destroy that temple! Yes, that god is evil to me and to all the gods on Mount Olympus. This "one god" of theirs is nothing but pure, unadulterated, all-consuming EVIL.

XENA (to Ares):

Itís just a frigginí temple! YOU do it!

ARES (logically and with a sense of déjà vu):

"Gods donít build the temples, Xena. People do. As you know, the more worshippers a god has, the more temples and the stronger the god. If I, or even Zeus, showed up to destroy the temple, it would have only served to strengthen the beliefs of his followers."

XENA:

Hercules, why donít you destroy the temple?

HERCULES:

Fatherís blood - it canít even be a demigod... If a *mere* mortal can destroy the temple of their god -

XENA:

- Their god will be exposed as fallible… So only I can destroy this temple, huh?

HERCULES:

Itís not the building you need to destroy Xena. It's the followers.

XENA (in concerned disbelief):

You want me to slaughter them?

HERCULES:

No, Xena. You donít need to kill them. You need to destroy their faith -

ARES (shrugging his shoulders at Xena):

- It wouldnít hurt if you killed one or two -

HERCULES (ignoring Ares' comment he approaches and places his hands on Xena's shoulders):

Listen to me Xena. Once this god enters our world it will not stop until it has destroyed everything that is good. It will crush the goodness in your heart - Zeus knows what it would do to Gabrielle -

XENA (with a look of realization):

Gabrielle! Oh no! They have Gabrielle! - I've got to go -

HERCULES (restraining Xena):

You need to stop them from bringing this god of hate into the world.

XENA (angrily):

And just how the Hades am I supposed to do that!

HERCULES:

Every god has an Achilles heel, Xena. Look for it...

We both know that you are Aresí weak spot.

ARES (scowling at Hercules):

Now wait just a minute there-

And with that both Ares and Hercules vanish.

While Xena had basically ignored Khrafstar, she now remembers that he claimed to be the "High Priest of the One God". With an adrenaline-fueled terror, Xena mounts her horse and gallops to the temple.

Not waiting for the horse to come to a halt, Xena catapults herself from the saddle and lands neatly at the temple doors. She sees Gabrielle and Khrafstar from behind as they talk peacefully. Other members of the group start to prepare for a ceremony.

GABRIELLE (to Khrafstar, unaware that Xena has arrived):

Is it okay?

KHRAFSTAR (smiling sweetly):

Our god is open to all.

XENA (standing in the doorway):

Stop!

Gabrielle and Khrafstar turn around to face Xena.

GABRIELLE (happy but confused):

Xena! What are you doing here? I thought you'd be fighting Caesar!

XENA (walking quickly up to the two of them):

Caesar can go to Tartarus without my help. Gabrielle, I need you to come away with me - now!

GABRIELLE (distressed):

Khrafstar said I could stay for their ceremony - it's going to start soon -

KHRAFSTAR (entreating Xena):

It won't take long Xena. I will bring her safely back to you.

XENA (nearing rage, glaring at Khrafstar):

Liar!

GABRIELLE (with a look of disbelief):

Xena!

XENA (turning her eyes back to the bard):

Gabrielle - I don't have time to explain but this *thing* is evil -

GABRIELLE (shaking her head):

No Xena - you've got it wrong. This god is a loving god. Khrafstar told me that his god would bring love and friendship to everyone when he brings his kingdom to earth -

XENA (impatiently):

He's lying to you Gabrielle - everything he's told you is untrue! He's just telling you what you want to hear so he can use you!

GABRIELLE:

But Xena! He said his god stopped him from killing despite his rage and hate. Surely that's not the work of an evil god!

XENA (shaking her head and moving in closer):

You're not listening to me Gabrielle! (She takes a deep breath) Khrafstar is not the kind sweet soul that you think he is. He is using you to help bring a force of destruction into this world that is so powerful even our own gods tremble!

GABRIELLE (wide-eyed):

Xena, how do you know these things? How do you know his god is so evil that our gods fear him?

XENA (sucking in another breath and exhaling):

Ares told me.

GABRIELLE (angrily):

ARES! Hades, Xena! Do you expect me for one minute to believe anything that Ares would tell you? Of course our God of War doesn't want this God of Peace in the world! Ares is using you!

Khrafstar continues to observe, impressed with Gabrielle's stunning defense of himself and his god.

XENA (puts her hands on Gabrielle's shoulders to calm her down and looks her in the eyes):

Gabrielle. It wasn't only Ares who warned me. Hercules told me as well.

GABRIELLE (confused):

Hercules?

XENA:

Yes. Hercules warned me that once this god comes into our world it wouldn't stop until it has destroyed everything that is good.

KHRAFSTAR (sensing he last lost some ground, speaking gently):

Gabrielle. It's not true. My god is the god of goodness. He is a god of peace and love. I fear that your God of War has tricked Xena. Your Ares is trying to stop the God of Peace from saving people from the bloodshed and misery that war creates.

GABRIELLE (searching his eyes with hers for any sign of deception, finding none):

I don't understand. Khrafstar, I want to believe you -

KHRAFSTAR:

Then believe me. I have given you no reason not to trust me Gabrielle.

XENA (taking a hand from Gabrielle's shoulder, placing her fingertips under her chin and tilting her face back towards her):

Gabrielle. Have I ever lied to you? When Ares came to me I thought he was trying to trick me. I thought Ares was only trying to protect himself. But then Hercules appeared. I know Hercules. I knew it was not a false image. He told me… I believe him and, right now, I need you to believe me.

GABRIELLE (looking from Xena to Khrafstar and back):

I want to believe both of you! I'm just too confused by all this right now. I need time to think…

XENA / KHRAFSTAR (in unison):

There is no time!

Gabrielle shifts away from Xena's hands and starts to run toward the temple doors.

KHRAFSTAR (to the worshippers):

STOP HER!

Two hooded men grab Gabrielle's arms and keep her in place.

Xena jumps into action and quickly dispatches the two men with her fists.

XENA (close to Gabrielle's ear):

Get out of here! NOW!

Xena moves to threaten any interference in order to buy Gabrielle just enough time to make it out the door. From outside the entrance she looks back expecting Xena to follow.

KHRAFSTAR (his look reveals an idea forming):

Take them BOTH! Dahak will be most pleased with this sacrifice!

Khrafstar begins to laugh. His laughter becomes more sardonic and deeper. Xena, trying to create enough space for her to dash to the door and ride off with Gabrielle, continues to fight her attackers. She has not yet resorted to her chakram or sword.

Khrafstar appears to be engulfed in flames, still laughing as he transforms into a horned muscular two-legged beast. The flames disappear and he thrusts a hand towards Xena while yelling, "I AM THE DELIVERER!"

At the motion of his hand, Xena is thrown back into the air and against a pillar. She slumps to the floor, unconscious.

Gabrielle instinctively rushes to her, bends down, and, finding her still breathing tries to waken her. The hooded figures surround them and easily take Gabrielle by the arms, forcing her to stand. Xena's weapons are removed and she is carried to the stone altar in the center of the temple.

GABRIELLE (in horror as she struggles now to free herself):

NO! What are you going to do to her?

KHRAFSTAR (now THE DELIVERER):

Ah Gabrielle. This is even better than I imagined. Dahak will be twice as strong when he arrives. Your friend will soon be part of our god.

Gabrielle's captors bring her closer to the altar as she watches Xena's wrists and ankles being bound by leather straps to metal rings in the stone slabs.

GABRIELLE (struggling and yelling):

XENA! WAKE UP! WAKE UP! XENA!

A woman clothed in a long white dress cinched with golden cord approaches the altar. Gabrielle continues to twist and bend in the grips of her guards while screaming at Xena to awaken. Unnoticed, the fingers of Xena's left hand start to move.

All eyes except Gabrielle's are on the wooden box that the priestess, Meridian, has placed in another's hands so that she could open it. She slowly removes a sacrificial dagger of silver and gold. The Deliverer stands gloating at the foot of the stone altar while the priestess holds the dagger high above Xena's chest. The chant of the worshippers ringing the altar is building in volume and intensity.

MERIDIAN (looking up through an opening in the ceiling):

The kingdom of Dahak is at hand!

She brings the knife down towards Xena's breast.

GABRIELLE (as loud a scream as she can manage):

NO!

Gabrielle twists free and jumps close to the altar. This is the moment The Deliverer has been waiting for *kill her Gabrielle!* - his thought is almost audible.

Just as Gabrielle's committed her left leg to throw a kick to Meridian's side she sees the flash of Xena's left arm move across her prone body. Xena has grabbed Meridian's hands with her own, instantly turning the blade back around. Gabrielle's kick forces the priestess onto the blade and she falls, dead, onto Xena's body.

THE DELIVERER (shaking his head and fists, furious):

NO!!!

The temple starts to shake. Gabrielle quickly runs the few paces to where Xena's weapons were placed and tosses the chakram to her.

The Deliverer takes a single step towards Xena who has now sliced her right wrist restraint with the chakram. In one swift motion she pushes the priestess from her body and launches her chakram at The Deliverer's exposed chest. Gabrielle rushes back to the altar to hand Xena her sword. She cuts away her ankle bindings. They start to run for the temple door.

The Deliverer is still standing at the foot of the altar, in shock, looking at the chakram protruding from his chest. The worshippers have started to flee the temple because of the growing earthquake. He pulls the weapon from his body and looks at it while blood starts to flow from the open wound. With all his remaining strength he throws the chakram at Xena.

The stones of the altar blast upward. Huge flames reach up from below where the altar had stood. As the chakram approaches Xena, she turns to the side and grabs the oncoming weapon with her right hand. She swings fully around with it until its momentum is spent. Xena yells as she backflips to the temple's entrance where Gabrielle is watching.

The altar's stones come crashing back down, one of them knocking The Deliverer into the pit of fire. Xena pushes Gabrielle through the opening as the pillars and ceiling give way behind them, accompanied by more explosive blasts. The entire temple and its perimeter are covered with thick gray and black smoke and soot.

As the smoke clears, Xena sits amongst the rubble cradling Gabrielle in her arms, stroking her ash-covered hair.

XENA (smiling down and trying to wipe a tear from Gabrielle's cheek with the back of her hand only to cause a dark smudge):

We did it Gabrielle…

GABRIELLE (looking up at Xena's dirty face and tear-swelled eyes):

You're crying -

XENA (as a drop escapes down her cheek):

I'm so glad I have you.

Xena pulls Gabrielle's head gently to her chest and places a small kiss on top.

GABRIELLE (tilting her head back so she can see Xena's face):

I'm sorry I doubted you for even a moment. I promise I'll never lose my faith in you.

Gabrielle nestles her head against the warrior's shoulder and snakes her arms around Xena's waist.

The SEQUELS:


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