Xena Alternative Fan Fiction

Near You Always
by James Bergquist


This story was written without the knowledge or consent of MCA/Universal and is not intended to infringe on any copyrights. This story is for intended for mature readers over the age of 18 as it contains both violence and explicit love scenes between two women. If you are offended by either, or both, of these subjects I suggest you don't read any further.

This story is the work of the author and is protected by copyright. Please gain permission before copying and/or publishing any or all of this story.

Author's Disclaimer: Xena: Warrior Princess and all characters in this fanfiction are copyrighted and owned by Rennessance Pictures and MCA/Universal. No copyright infrigement is intended and no dinars were made. This FF portrays two women in love. If this disturbs you, hit the discard button. I hope you enjoy this. Write to me at jhb3@webtv.net..I can't thank everyone out there enough..You make me so happy..Kisses!

Many seasons have passed in the marriage of Gabrielle and Xena. Gabrielle took her role as Queen and made everyone proud. Treaties were signed, young girls were molded into proud warriors and grew into women before the Bard's eyes. Slight creases now frame the incredible green eyes of the now semi-retired Queen. Gabrielle was proud of the 10 or 11 gray hairs she earned. She remembered what Xena said that first year together. "People in our business don't live to be old and grey"

Xena proudly took the healers position. She also helped out in training in survival and non-lethal combat skills. Since her beloved Argo finally passed away last winter, Xena immersed herself more into her job. It was hard for her but she made it through. Gabrielle and Ephiny started training a new future Queen, Aeon. Aeon was extra special to Gabrielle and Xena. Xena delevered Aeon 12 years ago and her mother died during her birth. With no family, Gabrielle watched over Aeon and saw how gifted Aeon was. At 4, she was playing the lyre and drums and was speaking Chin's language that Xena taught her. At 6, she was reading and writing, beating Gabrielle by 2 years. Aeon was the perfect choice....

Gabrielle was signing the daily logs when Xena came into the hut with two scrolls. "Letter from Hecuba, Gabrielle. I got one myself." Xena held up the scroll.

"Hmm, Lila's doing great. Our nephew is doing wonderfully and she stopped having morning sickness. Lila says thanks for the tea..it helped alot..Oh, Mom. She says Dad's lost some weight, but it's like a second honeymoon. What you have there?"

"Nothing much. I got an idea..let's go visit them. Take a break from this"

"I don't know, Xena. I have alot to do here and Aeon needs her studies. Amazon customs and laws..someone might get hurt while we're gone. We can't just get up and go like the old times."

"C'mon, Gabrielle. We don't see them much and I don't have much to do now. Bumps and bruises. Let's go" Xena rubbed Gabrielle's hand, "Please." Gabrielle softly kissed Xena "OK, Xena. We'll go. If it means that much to you. But, a short visit." "Thanks. Help me pack our stuff?" "Sure thing. Aeon, sweetie. Read your scrolls and don't forget your reports. I'll be quizzing you later, young lady." Aeon groans as Gabrielle hugs her young charge. "I will. Good bye, Aunt Gab." Xena hugs Aeon next..."Don't give Ephiny a hard time. I'll miss you" "Miss you too, Xena."

Gabrielle and Xena start heading for the door as Ephiny joins them. Ephiny kisses both women on the cheeks and says her farewells. Gabrielle goes out the door as Ephiny gently grabs Xena's arm. "Is everything allright?" Ephiny asked with a concerned low voice. "Yeah, I just wanted to see the folks. No biggie." Xena answered quickly and defensive. "It just that you really nudged Gabrielle into this trip back home. Does it have to do with that scroll?" "Ephiny, I don't have time for this. We have to go...take care" Xena snapped and followed Gabrielle to thier hut.

Hecuba had nutbread ready for Gabrielle when she arrived. Herodotus was napping on his chair as Gabrielle kissed him on the cheek. "Hi, Daddy. Surprise" "Oh, hi sweetie. Nice to see you. Hi, Xena. How's the healing business?" Herodotus rose to his feet and hugged his 'son in law' Xena. "Hello, old man. It's doing well. You have lost weight." "Well, I have more help around the farm, but I keep busy." Herodotus lowers his voice "Still getting it 5 times in 7 nights." Xena smirks "You dirty old man.." "That why you like me, huh?" Herodotus answers with a pinch to Xena's rear. "Ow..don't you start" Xena slaps Hero's offending hand. "I got your scroll" Xena started as Hero shished her. "Wait."

Xena looks at her wife and Hecuba drinking tea and laughing about old times. "I'm going to the market for some feed. Need anything?" Hecuba waves him off "No, honey. I'm fine" Herodotus stares for a moment at the woman who, as a young girl 40 summers ago, burned his bread order at the bakery her family owned. She felt bad and Herodotus asked her out for dinner. She accepted and thier feast known as their love was never ending and robust. Herodotus walks over and kisses her goodbye "Love you" "Love you too, dear" Hecuba returns to the conversation without missing a beat. Herodotus then walks to the door and puts on his coat and hat. Xena watches as suddenly, Herodotus face twists in pain as he leans on the door. "You OK, sweetheart?" "Ye-yeah. I just tripped. Bye,honey" Xena drinks her cider quickly. "Let me go with you. I haven't been to Potiedaia in forever. Nice to see some changes."

Gabrielle turns around in her seat. "Don't be a pest to Daddy, Xena. And don't spend too much." "Yes, your Majesty. I'll behave. Love you" Xena kisses Gabrielle.

"Love you too, Xena. Bye Daddy" "Goodbye, Gabrielle" Herodotus smiles half-heartedly as he walks out the door. Xena puts on her cloak and waves good bye as she exits.

Xena helps Herodotus into the wagon as she jumps aboard. "So, how long have you had those pains?" "30 nights. And yes, I went to the healer's. I went to all of them. As far as I could reach. They say the same thing. I don't have much time."

Xena leans in to hear Herodotus' heart. She listens silently. Xena picks up her head and looks around. She curses to herself. "They're right. You'll be lucky to survive tonight. You haven't told Hecuba yet..." "No...I-I just can't. And I won't. You won't. I'm going to the market. I'm getting the feed. I'm coming back and eating dinner. Gabrielle and I will laugh..I'll say goodnight and goodbye to Gabrielle and go to bed. I'll make love to my wife and tell her I love her. Then, I'll will go to sleep..I died in my sleep loving my family and loving...you" Xena rests her head on Herodotus' shoulder as tears start flowing "It's just not fair. What about Lila? and Gabrielle?" "Gabrielle just happend to be here when i passed. Lila is on the way here, but she's going to be late. I'm here with family now. That's what counts." "I have to tell her" "Xena, please. I want you to care for Hecuba and the farm. Lila is married now with her own life and Gabrielle and you are looking for a place, right?" Xena nods "What better place? Gabrielle wants to settle down now in her life. She'll need you more than ever..I hate keeping them in the dark, but I just can't tell them. Will you promise me?" "I promise. You are the father I never had, Herodotus. You and your family has given me so much. I'll do anything for you. I'm sorry" Xena sobbed as they bounced down the road "Xena, it's OK. I'm going to a better place. You can say that you will miss me..say it" "I'll miss you, Daddy."

"I'll miss you, sweetheart" Herodotus said as he hugged the Warrior Princess.

Part 2

"How many this time, Herodotus?" The storekeeper quizzed. "Not much. 20 bags will do." Herodotus answered, in his bored tone. "Did your mare make it?" "Nope. Colic killed her. I tried but failed." Herodotus comes across a bolt of cloth very much like Hecuba's top. He runs his strong hands across the material and in his mind, can just smell her on that cloth..the way she just glides and makes the men just drool over her. Smell of her hair..."So..any chance of another grandson?" "Oh, yes! Lila keeps insisting it's going to be a girl, but I just know it's a boy." "Still keeping up with that first one?" "He's a fiery little one." " Like Gabrielle" Herodotus, Xena and the store keeper all exclaim at the same time...and laugh.." I told Lila to behave herself or the gods would give her a child just like her. She believes me now.."

Xena watched the man who helped mold the woman she loved, then help her by becoming a great friend and father she needed in her life. She never felt helpless as she did now. There was no creature to beat, no war god to defeat. The worst enemy is coming to take away a great man..Time. We all kid ourselves by thinking our parents will live forever and will be there to complain and to get into your business. You go away for a while and time creeps up on them. They grow old and they complain about aches..more lines appear on the face. You bring the grandbaby. And then, they are gone. Like that.

"We need to get back, Xena"

"Right. Bye" Xena waves to the shopkeeper and jumps on the wagon. "Do I have to tell you that I'll might just tell Hecuba...or at least Gabrielle?" "No, Xena. No need. I'm just counting on you keeping your promise." "I keep my promises, Herodotus. I also don't keep important things from my family" Xena sharply reminded Herodotus. Herodotus looked at Xena "I'm not doing that" "Yes, you are..you are dying and you can't face your wife. I have to be there when she finds you dead and explain to her 'Oh, well. He made me promise.' Forty damn summers don't mean anything, I guess." Herodotus flinched at the Warrior's angry words. "You really put me in a spot, Herodotus. I have to tell the bad news." Xena wipes two tears away as she looks away. "I can't keep this quiet..I love you and I love them too damn much to lie to them." "I know what I'm doing, Xena. End of story." Hero' s voice cracked.. Herodotus and Xena rode along in silence from then on. All the way home.

Hero pulls his wagon into the barn as Xena puts the feed into storage. "All done" Xena finally spoke after a candlemark. "Time to eat" Herodotus replied stiffly and entered the house. Xena shook her head in disappointment and followed.

Inside the house, a surprising smell filled the air. A wonderous and divine smell from the old days of being on the road. Gabrielle's dumplings! With that red stuff inside...Xena's absolute favorite dish in the known world! "Surprise!" Gabrielle said as she hugged her love. Xena smiled wide and sighed "Oh, gods. I haven't.." "Had any of my cooking for awhile. I knew you love it. I haven't cooked in forever..since we're being nostalgic, I thought 'Why not'? Having a cook doing that for me made me miss it more." Gabrielle suddenly bolted for the pots to stir the sauce before it scorched and to check on the articoke hearts. Veggies wasn't Xena' s favorite, but a certain Queen made her eat them.. Hmmm. Herodotus and Hecuba disappered. Must be having a private moment. Xena's sharp ears hear a slight thudding on the bedroom.. "Dirty old man" Xena grins to herself... Xena is amazed that Gabrielle can't hear that. The little Bard seems to be in her own world.

"Gabby-Belle! Gabby-Belle!" A small voice fills the air. Lila's son runs to Gabrielle. The Bard picks up her nephew "Hi, sweetie. How are you?" "Good. I'm 4 years old now!" "I know..such a big boy too. You do know my real name, honey?" Astor nods "It's Aunt....Gab..." Gabrielle nudges her nephew along. Astor pauses for a second, then grins "Aunt Gabby-Belle!" Astor laughs as Xena grins to Gabrielle's sour expression. "Mommy's outside, coming in." Xena couldn't believe Lila's timing.. "Ooohh, ohhh. Xena! Xena!" Astor puts his arms out and starts wiggling in Gabrielle's arms. "Zeus, here's Xena. There you go" Xena takes the small boy in her arms as Astor hugs her neck tightly "Ohh! What a hug! How's the handsome boy doing?" Astor doesn't answer. Instead, he takes his little hands and pulls back Xena's dark hair, exposing her ears. He looks in one, then the other. "Looking for dinars, huh?" He nods then grabs Xena's nose. "Nothing there. Wait." Xena puts Astor down, then blows her nose. As if magically, coins start dropping from the Warrior's nose. Astor laughs joyfully as he picks up the dinars...."So funny" he sings.

"Oh, you two. You spoil him so much." Lila comes in and hugs the both of her welcoming party. Xena feels Lila's growing belly.."Any troubles?" Xena asks. Lila shakes her head as she cradles her son's head. Astor runs to Gab's old room and starts jumping on the bed. Gabrielle runs after the tireless Astor. "No. Cross your fingers..everything is going great. Despite the 60 trips to the outhouse, swollen feet and eating like a starved bear...I swear, I can eat almost as much as Gabby." "Hey! I heard that!" Gabrielle yelled from her old bedroom. "Good!" Lila yelled back.. "Still think it's another boy?" Xena nods "I can tell. How you get here so fast?" "Well, I left a night before. I wanted to travel just before I get locked in my home in my delicate condition."

Xena sees Gabrielle put Astor in a headlock.."C'mon, you little...say my name" "Gabby-Belle!" Xena chuckles to herself. "Hey, you two babies. Don't make me come in there."

"C'mon, Astor. Say Gabrielle" "Gabby-Belle!"

"Lila! Make him stop!" "Gee, Gabrielle. Let it go"

As Gabrielle tries to squeeze some sense into her nephew's head, she wonders where her parents are. As if the gods heared the Bard, th e unmistakable sound of a board tapping on the wall. "Oh, boy. No way...I guess that settles that." "Where's Pappy?" "Um, well. Pappy and Granny are....in their room." Astor starts running for the bedroom when Gabrielle grabs his arm "Let's leave them alone, for now." "Why?" "They...they're jumping on the bed and don't want to be interrupted." "I can't jump on the bed." "Well, you didn't build a house. Pappy built this house, so when you do, you are allowed then to jump on the bed" "You and Xena jump too?" Xena walks to the door and gives her beloved a sexy look "Oh, yes...um, yes." "But you did not build a house." Gabrielle huffed to herself for digging herself a deep hole "Well, Astor. I'm the Queen of the Amazons. I can make rules...so I made the rule 'Queens can jump on the bed WITHOUT building a house.' Got it?" "How about here? Can you jump on the bed anywhere?" Xena looks at Gabrielle with one raised eyebrow. Gabrielle has the biggest 'Help me out' look.. "Yes, Astor. We can jump anywhere we want" "Why?" "Because I'm the Queen, now let's eat." "OK" Xena is about to explode in laughter as Astor runs by to the table next to his mother. "Thanks for the help, Xena." "What?" Xena asks innocently. It's great to be home...

"Dinner is ready." Gabrielle calls out, as she starts scooping out portions to everyone's plates. The front door opens, then Astor calls out "Daddy! Daddy!" and runs to his father as Phineas comes into the door. The son of the wheat farmer stole away Lila's heart and was a incredibly gentle man. To Lila, he was the Gods gift to her...

"Hi, everyone. Sorry I'm late. Took me forever to put away the wagon. Hello, Xena" Phineas kisses Xena on the cheeks, then picks up his son.

"Still the most handsome farmer I know of." Xena answers and winks at Lila as Phineas peeks into one of Gabrielle's pots.

"I won't tell Herodotus. How is the most gracious Queen of Amazons?"

"Doing great, thank you." Gabrielle turns to kiss hello her favorite brother-in-law.. "That little troublemaker of yours.." Gab mockly makes a irratated face as she points her spatula at Astor.

Phineas looked at Astor. "Young man, you giving your Aunts trouble?"

Astor shook his head "No, Daddy"

Lila grabbed another roll from the basket on the table "Don't listen to her, honey. Gabrielle is just being a baby."

"Am not! Xena, make her stop it."

"Don't drag me into this, sweet." Xena smoothly retorted to her wife as she slid her arms around Gabrielle's waist from behind.

"Daddy, Gabby-Belle said Pappy is jumping on the bed and Queens can jump anytime they want to and she, she grabbed my head."

"Really? Pappy is jumping on the bed?"

"Yeah! And, and Xena hugged Mommy and made dinars come out of her nose. And Xena doesn't like vegetables so she said I don't have to eat them."

Xena shook her head "Oh, no. I *have* to eat my vegetables, so you do too." Xena poked the little one with her finger as he giggled.

The Warrior Princess usually enjoyed peaceful moments as these, but that damned problem hanged over Xena's head like a sword on a string. How do I tell Lila and Gabrielle that the most important man in thier lives is about to die. "I really hope he breaks down and just tells Hecuba. Gods help us this night." Xena thought to herself as she choked back the stinging tears.

Hecuba smiles and steadies her breathing as she catches her breath. That sneaky and naughty little loverboy of hers tricked her into their bedroom to steal some moments. But, having people in the next room was incredibly exciting to Hecuba and her release was the best one in moons...Hecuba rubs her hands across Herodotus' chest as he snuggles with his wife. "Xena was right. You are a dirty old man.."

Herodotus laughs and thanks the gods for such a great woman. "Oh,really? Well, you are a bad influence on me.. And it wasn't my idea for us in your father's barn that night."

Hecuba blushes "I can't believe you remember that."

"Remember it? You wrestled me to the ground and took my sweet innocence from me."

"Oh, stop it. I thought that Gabrielle told some stories....... I knew I was in trouble when you took that nap.

I heard Gabrielle say dinner is ready. Let's get dressed. You made me so hungry"

Suddenly, Herodotus felt the worst chest pain, like a horse was stepping on his breastbone. Herodotus grabbed Hecuba's arm "Wait..let's just lay here."

"I'd love to, but everyone is waiting for us." Hecuba kisses her husband "We can do this later"

Another chest pain hits Herodotus and he is unable to hide it.

"Hero, what's wrong?" Hecuba feels Herodotus' head and feels him sweating. "What is it? I'll go get Xena."

"No.... Hecuba, sit down."

Herodotus pauses as Hecuba sits as she looks with worry at her beloved.

"Sweetie, I have some bad news" Herodotus pauses as he gathers his courage. "I'm dying..my heart is really bad and I have very little time. That's why Gabrielle and Lila are here."

Hecuba's eyes fill with tears "No..it's not true. You just having some cramps or something"

"No. I went to every healer in my reach. The best ones. It's fatal.."

Hecuba punches Herodotus in the chest "No! No, don't say that. I can't have you leave me. I can't do the farm by myself. I need you. Please don't leave me." Hecuba chokes, then collapses in Hero's arms.

"I got older, Hecuba. We got older. You know that this is the only way I would ever leave you. I don't want to go." Herodotus softly strokes his wife's hair as she sobs on his chest.

"Sweetie, can you hear me?" Hecuba nods as Hero stares at the natural curls in his wife's golden locks and twists one in his finger. "I want you to tell everyone to come in here. I'll say goodbye. After I go, sell the farm. Then, I need you to go with Xena and Gabrielle after you make sure Lila is allright. I'm so sorry I didn't tell you. I'm sorry I didn't tell Lila or Gabrielle. I love you so much."

Hecuba squeezes her man closer. "Love you too, Hero..you are my life." Hecuba wipes her tears away and rises out of bed. She looks at him, slips on her robe, then opens the bedroom door.

"Well, hello there, lazybones. Glad you two tore away for a moment for a meal." Gabrielle teased as she placed plates at her parent's table. Hecuba smiled alittle and Lila looked around. "Where's Daddy?"

"It was so nice of you to cook tonight, Gabrielle. I really enjoy artichoke hearts" Hecuba helped Gabrielle with the food.

"Don't worry, Mom. I got it. You got to tell Daddy to get up and get his dinner. The Queen of the Amazons doesn't just cook everyday, you know"

Hecuba picked up Astor and Astor instantly hugged his Grandma. Hecuba's mind flashed back to when Gabrielle was four and Hero would ask "How much do you love Mommy?" and Gabrielle face lit up and she would spread her arms wide and say "This much." Hecuba closed her eyes as her grandson squeezed..

Gabrielle and Lila both saw the distress on Hecuba's face. Hecuba sat down next to Lila as her youngest asked "What's wrong?"

Hecuba took a breath and paused. "Lila, I need you to brace yourself. Gabrielle.." Xena walked over to Gabrielle and gentley held on to her hand. Already, Gabrielle knew this was bad news. "Your father is in very bad shape..his heart is bad and he doesn't have long. The healers can't save him. I can't believe he's.."

Lila looked at Xena "You can save him, can't you?" Xena's head just shook, then she collapsed in Gabrielle's arms "No, I can't. I can't save him. He just popped this on me today. He sent the scroll to me...It just said 'Xena, I need you and Gabrielle back home. Don't tell her I sent you, but I need to talk to you about a urgent matter' He didn't say anything about this...I'm so sorry, Gabrielle." Gabrielle comforted her Warrior as she knew Xena did all she could. "Xena, I know you love Daddy. You are not a god. Good people die..we can't change that. I'm just glad to be here to say goodbye."

Lila nodded in agreement "Me too." Phineas kissed Lila's hand as he help her out of her chair. "Xena, you did all you could. What counts is that we are all here. Now, let's see Daddy"

The door opened and everyone walked silently into the bedroom..Herodotus looked pale and everyone could see the pain on his face. "Hey, everyone. Why the long faces? Looks like you're going to a funeral" Herodotus asked, trying to comfort his family. Lila went to her father's side as Astor jumped on the bed to see his Pappy. "Hi, Pappy. You were jumping on the bed for a long time"

"Um, yes. Jumping. On the bed" Herodotus looks at Gabrielle, knowing it was her explanation for the noise. "Astor, you know I love my little boy, right?" Astor nods "Are you going somewhere, Pappy?"

"Yes, Astor. I'm going to the Elysian Fields. Lots of old people go there..when they die. I get to see my mother and father and my sisters. I can't come back"

"I don't want you to go" Astor mumbles as Lila holds on to Phineas.

"I have to, but I get to say goodbye...I want you to be good to the new baby and help your mom out with the baby. Just think of me and I'll hear you...Now. How much you love Pappy?"

Astor smiles and spreads his arms "This much"

Herodotus smiles, then grimices in pain.."I'm allright. Lila, my baby. Phineas.." Lila hugs her father hard as Hero feel's his daughter's tears. "I'm going to miss you so much, Daddy..I can't believe you are going. You mean so much to me. I know I stuck around alot and I had jealousy toward Gabrielle, but I don't now. You are such a great man. I know what to name the baby now."

Herodotus kisses Lila's belly and rubs the stretched skin and looks into his girl's face. "I love you, my little precious gift."

"Phineas, come hug me and thank you for taking care of my daughter" Phineas hugs the old man "The priviledge is all mine..it was a true honor to know you"

Hero whispers into Phineas' ear. "Thank the gods you came along. She was eating me out of my house"

Phineas laughed "I noticed..Thanks alot, old man." Phineas backs away to let Gabrielle come to her father's side.

"Gabrielle. What words can say how much you mean to me?" Gabrielle gently placed her head on Herodotus chest "Oh, Daddy. You will love the Fields..so peacef-ful." Gabrielle sobs and her chest jumps as she cries for her father. Herodotus rubs the Queen's soft cheek with his hand.

"Gabrielle, please don't cry. I'm not afraid. I got everything I ever wanted. I get to brag that my daughter is the Queen of the Amazons! That is no small feat..It's just so incredible how beautiful you and Lila became... You both grew up to become great women. You helped turn one of the most evil and hate-filled warlords into a great hero...Plus, I got to meet Hercules!"

Gabrielle laughed and wiped away her tears, still keeping her head on her dad's chest. "You forced the poor man to sign one of my scrolls" "I used to do this all the time when you were just a tiny baby. Your mother was exhausted and you wake in the middle of the night crying. I put you right on my chest and pat your little back and rub your head untill you fell asleep..Your mother would find us out cold on the bed."

Hero motions Xena to come closer to the bed. He takes Xena's hand and Gabrielle's hand. "I want to say sorry to Xena for dumping a big problem on her shoulders. I told her about my dying just today, but I made her promise to tell you all after I died in my sleep. But if I did that, you can't say goodbye. I'm sorry, Xena. You were right. I did want you to be the bad guy...I'm changing my mind. I want Hecuba to be with you and Gabrielle with the Amazons. Sell the farm and show her around a bit. Also, I do want to say sorry to you and Xena. You came back from running away and your dress was gone. All you had was that Amazon green top and that skirt above your knees. You bring Xena along and you told me that you two were in love." Herodotus hangs his head and pauses.

"You wanted my blessings and all I did was blow up at you and call Xena a harlot. You didn't need my permisson, but you wanted to share with me your happiness. You wanted to come home, but I punished you for being a independent person.. I didn't see how much you do love each other. I never did say I was sorry for that. We made up and became real close, but I wanted you to hear that."

Xena sobs and kisses Hero's hand. "Thank you, Herodotus. I forgave you a long time ago, but it's nice to hear that from you. You know how I feel about you and expressed my feelings before. I now can say I did have a father..Thank you so much" Xena turns her head and rises from the bed "Thank you, Dad" Xena whispers.

"I love you, Daddy. You are my foundation which I built my great life on. Thank you for so much" Gabrielle kisses her father for the last goodbye.

"Where's Xena? Where's my favorite girlfriend? Don't I even get a kiss?" Herodotus looks around..Xena appears with a cup.

"Drink this. It's for the chest pains. They will only get worse, but this helps."

Herodotus grimices as the last of the herb potion goes down his throat "Ugh! Just drop a boulder on my head...damn, that's awful. Xena, come here"

"Yes? Feeling better?" Xena bends over to check on Herodotus.

"Little closer" Herodotus whispers.

"What? What is it?" Xena bends over a little more.

"I just couldn't see down your dress before..how long have you had that mole?" Herodotus quizzed about the mole Xena had on the side of her breast.

"Oh, you dirty little..." Xena closed her dress out of his view. "Now, I'm gonna give you a kiss like you asked, but you behave yourself."

"You, too. Keep that tongue of yours to yourself. My wife is here." Hero winked, then closed his eyes.

Xena leaned over and gave Hero a long, nice kiss. "Damn, Herodotus is a good kisser" the Warrior thought. Well, for a man, you know.

"Thank you, Xena. That was great...very soft. Now let me end my life with the woman I love. Come here, Hecuba, and lay with me. I love you all. Bye" Everyone quietly exited the room as Hecuba layed next to that young man who stole her heart away all those summers ago...and smiled and loved her man with all her heart.

Time seemed to torture everyone as they paced and waited for the moment. They all ate dinner and had a silent round of tea. Astor fell asleep and Gabrielle just watched him for couple of candlemarks and starting listening to her parents talk through the walls of her home. Couldn't make out much, but they were having fun, which made the Bard smile. Then, moments later, nothing...just nothing. That was half of a candle mark ago. "Come on out, Mom" Gabrielle pleaded under her breath... The bedroom door opened and for the first time in her life, her mate wasn't behind her or holding her hand...

The family gathered without much words and Hecuba lit the funeral pyre. She threw in the torch to the pile and watched the flames claim the body of Herodotus.

"Xena, you may think there is no one who can ever understand how much you love Gabrielle or nothing can compare to that. I do... My best friend and the missing piece of my soul is in that fire....but I got to say goodbye. He didn't die in the middle of the night. I thank the gods for that."

"We all do, Hecuba. There is nothing I can say to fill the hole in your heart. But, I'm here for you and so is your family" Xena throws her arm around Hecuba "That's what matters"

Hecuba nods and holds her daughters as she watches the fire some more...

The End

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