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Disclaimer: Xena: Warrior Princess and the names, titles, and backstories used in "Before the Sacrifice" are the sole property of MCA/Universal. The author intends no copyright infringement through the writing of this fan fiction.

Note: This is a short dialogue between two women who love each other very much. There have been plenty of stories that explored what happened or is going to happen after "Sacrifice 2." This is an exploration of what mightíve happened just before.

Before the Sacrifice
by Alan Plessinger

What do you say, what do you do in the last hour of your life? How can you sum up your feelings to the woman who has meant everything to you, and who you have treated so terribly? And now thereís no time to even try to make it up to her.

Xena sat sharpening her sword with a stone, with a methodical scraping sound. There was no real overwhelming need for the task. Joxer was in the cave, and he had the hindís blood dagger, which was the only thing that could kill Hope once and for all. She was just putting in time delaying the inevitable.

"Which is a pretty good definition of life," thought Xena.

Gabrielle waited for her, leaning on her staff and looking at the ground.

"Gabrielle," said Xena. "It doesnít look like I made it, does it?"

Gabrielle looked to Xena, but Xena was still unwilling to make eye contact.

"What? Where?"

"The Elysian fields. I didnít make it. I really thought weíd have more time."

Gabrielle came and sat by Xena.

"You donít know that. Itís up to Hades."

"Gabrielle, I really donít think you know all that I was guilty of before we met. You think you do."

"Xena, the gods are going to owe you for this. You may get to come back again."

"I donít think so. Hades granted me that one favor, with your help, because of what I did to save his sister. But he made it very clear that this is it. There would be no other chances."

Xena stood, and Gabrielle stood with her. Xena looked her in the eyes.

"We really tried, you and I," said Xena. "But I guess I was just a lost cause. Thereís nothing they can do to me in Tartarus that could be any worse than eternity without you."

"I failed," said Gabrielle. "It was my job to look after you soul and get you to the Elysian fields, and I failed you. We just need more time. You need more time."

"Gabrielle, Iím so sorry I hurt you so terribly. I canít believe that I ever tried to kill you."

"You know that I forgive you, Xena. Youíve done a lot that you need to be forgiven for, and someone has to start somewhere."

"Gabrielle, I want you to wait here. Please."

"No! Xena, if this is where our journey ends, I wonít let you face it alone. Youíre not going to rob me of our last few moments together."

Xena sighed. She looked away from Gabrielle and cast her gaze across the hills, squinting into the sun.

"Sometimes I imagine every man Iíve ever killed, living in the Elysian fields, looking at everything I do through the portal. And one by one I win them over. They all see how sorry I am, and how hard Iíve tried to be good. And they see that someone like you can me. And they forgive me. They all forgive me. Every one of them. Crazy dream. But oh, Gabrielle, there were times, there were moments when I could actually believe that it was happening. Moments when I really thought that I had a chance. Without you I could never have believed even that much."

"Xena, what am I going to do without you?"

"Gabrielle, youíre tough. Youíre strong. You have a whole other life that has nothing to do with me. By the gods, youíre an Amazon Queen, Gabrielle! You donít need me."

"Xena!" she said, and buried her face in Xenaís shoulder. "Xena, please donít ever tell me that."

She began to weep. Xena pulled her away. She didnít feel worthy of Gabrielleís tears.

"What have I done to you?" thought Xena.

At that moment she wouldíve given more than her life for another one of Gabrielleís adorable smiles, to take with her into eternity and hold in her heart through the torments of Tartarus.

But it had been months since one of those smiles had brightened Gabrielleís face and made her green eyes sparkle. And when Xena was gone that smile would hopefully return and be shown upon someone else. Someone deserving.

Xena had once prayed that the beautiful light showing in Gabrielleís face might never go out, because she couldnít stand the darkness that would follow. She had prayed "to anyone listening."

"Oh," thought Xena, "if only I had been listening."

"Címon, Gabrielle. Itís time. Letís go."

"No! Xena, please donít do this! Thereís got to be someone else who can do this!"

"Iím the one whoís here, Gabrielle. This canít be delayed any longer."

"You canít give up your life for this!"

"Gabrielle, I know Iím going to die. I accept that. Why canít you? Do these words sound familiar to you?"

Gabrielle looked down.

"That was different."

"Was it? So youíre allowed to be brave and noble, but not me?"

"This is suicide! Thereís nothing noble about suicide! Thereís so much good that you can still do in the world, and so much that still needs to be done. Isnít there anything I can say or do to stop you?"

"No. Nothing. Letís go."

Xena turned and headed toward the cave, and Gabrielle followed. And Gabrielle muttered just four words under her breath, too low for even Xena to hear.

Just four words.

"Weíll see about that."

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