None of these characters belong to me, and like so many worthy people before me, I'm only borrowing them for a short while. All characters referred to herein belong to MCA or Universal or Renpics, whoever owns them. No infringement is intended.
Standard Xena fare.
Nothing much to disclaim. Slight subtext, if you look for it.
Missing scenes from Fallen Angel.
A while back, I was watching Fallen Angel in reruns, and I thought that Gabrielle was acting just a bit out of character, seeming to condemn Xena so easily. Whereas earlier, Xena seemed ready to dive into hell just to rescue Gabrielle. I know that the entire fifth season was just that little bit off, but I thought maybe there was a way to explain at least this episode.
I thought to myself, what if all that was simply part of the plan to rescue Xena after all. So I came up with this. It's short, and mostly happens concurrently with the episode. It's also the first XWP fic I'm posting, although not the first I've written. Hope y'all like it. Let me know what you thought. My address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
"If you're to get your wings, you'll have to undergo a trial of purification," the archangel had said. His words echoed through her mind as she walked into the cavern.
She came through the opening, freezing in place at the sight. Seated on a ledge inside, sat someone she'd never thought she'd see in this place. When she'd seen her earlier, her heart had almost broken. This was whom Xena had sacrificed herself for? Even now, seeing her again, she couldn't bring herself to accept it.
Her face hardened. "What are you doing here?" she asked tersely, anger tingeing her voice.
"Michael told me to wait till you came."
She frowned, confused at the reply. "Am I supposed to fight you?" she asked, wondering if she could even bring herself to do that to this... this seeming doppelganger.
"I'm not a very good fighter," the seated woman replied. "But, if it makes you feel better..." she added, smiling.
That was the last straw. Her temper flared. "Your sweetness act is disgusting," she shot back in disgust. "I'm not buying it."
The taller woman, now the more innocent of the two, stood and approached her. She talked of her evil past, and her lack of understanding about Xena's motives for saving her. Finally, she spoke of love, the kind she shared with her family, evoking images in the shorter woman of the things she herself had lost. Of Xena, of their lives together. Tears pooled in her eyes at the memories as she shook her head in denial.
"Callisto, I am not buying it," she cried out. Her hands reached up to grasp her former rival's shoulders, shaking her, as if that could somehow jar the old Callisto back. "Callisto, stop it! I know you are in there," she said, desperation coloring her tone. "You are evil to the core, and you always will be...," she cried, wondering if her saying so would make it true.
Brown eyes met green, as Callisto placed her own hands on quivering shoulders.
Gabrielle closed her eyes at the sensation. "Don't touch me," she whispered, her voice trembling. But that touch... she knew finally that Xena had done the impossible yet again. She'd redeemed her nemesis. Callisto was no longer the person she'd fought against for so long. She could see it in her eyes.
"I'm so sorry," Callisto said softly, her eyes misting at the revelations about her past that she'd learned from the other angels since her arrival in heaven.
"I am too," Gabrielle whispered in reply, the tears finally falling as she realized what her test had been. Forgiveness, for someone she'd hated so much.
Following on the heels of the realization, came the inevitability of her next course of action. She knew she'd be the only one who could go up against the darkness in Xena and still survive. She believed in her warrior, no matter what Michael said had happened to her. You saved me from hell, Xena, she thought furiously, and I'll be damned again before I give up on you. She felt the fingers brush away her tears, and looked up into brown eyes, laced no longer with the usual madness, but with something almost akin to... friendship? fear? hope? Or all of them?
"Callisto...," Gabrielle began, taking a deep breath. "I need your help..."
And the brown eyes shone in reply.
"Join me, Gabrielle. We'll be together, for eternity," the demon cackled.
Gabrielle looked up, past the scaly skin and the hideous features, and saw the plea hidden in the demonic yellow eyes. Oh, how she wanted to aquiesce. How she wanted to simply melt into those strong arms of her warrior, when she called to her so softly. It would take more than cloven hooves and a hellish visage to make her step back.
It would take the danger to Xena's very soul. The realization broke her out of her daze, and she nearly stumbled as she backed away from the warrior. Xena advanced on her, and she tried to look every which way but directly into those piercing yellow eyes, afraid of being betrayed by her own eyes. Xena had always known her mind simply by glancing at the thoughts expressed by those green windows into her soul. Now was no exception.
And in that instant, the first blows fell. Xena, true to form, fended off the initial attack, and the battle was engaged. Gabrielle knelt next to the fallen archangel, then looked up in search of their last hope. Her eyes caught the blonde hair up in the rocky recesses of the cavern. All around her, the fighting continued, but above her, she saw the new angel hesitate. Gabrielle knew she needed more time. And she knew what she had to do. Before Xena could take out any more of the angels, or escape back into hell.
"I'll draw Xena off," she said to Michael, then turned, and fled. Knowing that the bat-like wings beat the air behind her as the warrior demon gave chase. Their link was strong, even through their transformations. And the former bard knew that her warrior could no more help coming after her than Gabrielle herself could help choosing her current course of action.
She needed to distract Xena, she knew. But how? Before she could come up with an answer, she heard the wild cackle as the demon caught up with her.
Callisto knew time was running out. She remembered Gabrielle's impassioned plea for help back in the cavern. If the two of them had been destined for reincarnation, the bard had said, why not simply go through with what had been intended for them in the first place? If there was no way to save Xena in the heavenly realm, why not just put them back on earth?
A simple solution, no doubt. But putting them back into their old bodies instead of new ones required a mortal bridge to aid in the transfer. And without one...
It was then that she heard the plea from the mortal realm.
"What am I supposed to do?" Eli shouted at the heavens in desperation. "Can you show me?" he cried out, "What am I supposed to do?"
And she finally had the answer. She smiled as the light enveloped her, the caverns dissolving into the snow filled room.
Gabrielle felt the blow coming but couldn't stop it in time. She fell, all the way down into the midst of the battle.
The demon warrior knelt next to her. Looking up, Gabrielle could see the love shining even through the harsh yellow eyes as Xena desperately tried to do the right thing. Tried to ensure that they would be together for eternity in the only way she knew how. In hell.
Gabrielle felt herself being picked up and carried to the precipice, but knew it wasn't yet time. "Xena, don't..." she managed, looking down into the abyss.
Time slowed to a crawl as she heard Michael rush up to save her, to save them both. And speeded up, as all three fell.
I'm so sorry, Xena, she cried silently. I failed you...
And then she felt herself stop falling. The sensation almost felt like she was floating. And she nearly cried out in joy. Callisto had succeeded! She knew it, in her very soul.
She closed her eyes to the rushing cliff walls as they sped by, and opened them again to see the inside of the snow covered chamber. And next to her, she heard the most wonderful sound. She turned, a trembling hand reaching out from under the rough blankets to grasp the hand of her soulmate!
And that, as they say, is that. I don't know if there were similar hidden motives for the rest of the season that just weren't shown on the show. But when I saw Callisto hidden among the rocks, trying to follow the fight below her, I knew something must've been up.
Here's to season 6, and a fond farewell to the show. I've been following it for a couple of years now, and while I'm sad to see it end, I'm glad there are still going to be bards out there, writing the stories that will keep the dynamic duo in action for a while to come. Later...