~ The Long Journey Ends ~
by daviderl

Pen Name: daviderl
Preferred Email: davideml@bellsouth.net
Short summary: Xena and Gabrielle return to Mt. Olympus to battle Ares. Gabrielle asks Aphrodite to betray him.
Character listing: Xena, Gabrielle, Aphrodite, Ares, Michael the Archangel
Rating: PG for violence
Genre: Drama

Series Note: This is a continuation of the story began in The Long Journey Back, The Long Journey Begins and The Long Journey Continues.

The Long Journey Ends
by daviderl

"So you really expect me to believe you this time?" Michael, the Archangel, said to Xena. "You seem to have this habit of telling the truth whenever it serves your purpose, but when it doesn't...."

"I told you, give me another chance. This time it'll be different."

Michael didn't answer, but he was watching Xena's eyes, trying to determine if she was telling the truth or not.

"Send us to Mt. Olympus and we'll take care of Ares. I don't know what else to say."

"All right, Xena. We'll send you back. This is against my better judgment, but I've been overruled. But I'm telling you -- don't fail us. Do what you promised."

Before Xena could answer, she and Gabrielle were standing at the foot of Mt. Olympus.

"Xena, I have to know something. You told me that you could never kill Ares because of the debt you owe him for saving my and Eve's lives, but you told Michael that the next time you and Ares meet you would kill him. So which is it?"

Xena looked deep into Gabrielle's eyes, and then put one hand on her shoulder. "Just know this, I will never lie to YOU."

Gabrielle nodded her head in understanding.

Then without saying anything more Xena was moving along the base of the mountain, as if she were searching for something.

Following behind, Gabrielle said. "Xena, if you're looking for something, maybe I could help if I knew what it was."

Xena stopped and looked up and around as if she was afraid someone somewhere was spying on them. Then in a low voice she said, "I'm looking for the entrance to the Cave of Hephaestus."

"Hephaestus? That name sounds familiar. Wasn't he the blacksmith of the gods or something?"

"Hephaestus was the son of Hera, but because he was so ugly, Hera cast him down from Mt. Olympus, and he became the blacksmith of the gods just as you said."

"That's right! He forged the gods' weapons."

"Yes he did, and also chains that can't be broken, not even by the gods. So if I can't kill Ares, then there's only one other alternative."

"You want to imprison him somewhere with unbreakable chains!"

"Yes. That's why we need to find the cave. I'm hoping we can find chains there to bind him."

For several days the two searched the base of the mountain, stopping only to eat and when there was no longer enough light to see.

The fifth day they found the opening. There were large rocks and small boulders covering it, and brush had grown up around the area, but Xena's exceptional eyesight discovered it.

It took the better part of the day to clear away all the rocks and debris. Xena fashioned torches out of the branches and by dusk they were entering the Cave of Hephaestus.

"Be careful where you walk and don't touch anything." Xena warned Gabrielle. "There are traps everywhere."

They walked almost thirty paces and made three turns when they came to a large room with passages leading off in all directions.

"This is it." Xena said as she pointed to the forge in the center of the area.

"Look there." Xena said pointing her torch at one wall. Gabrielle walked over for a better look and saw a large red jewel mounted high in some kind of stone carving.

"The Eye of Hephaestus." Xena said. "Look around, see if there's anything we can use."

Gabrielle took a quick walk around the room without much success.

"There's not much here." She commented.

"Then we're going to have to make a thorough search. Look in all the corners, all the nooks, everywhere. You might even want to check down a couple of those passageways, but don't go far. You don't want to get lost in here."

Gabrielle nodded and began a closer inspection. Soon they both were finding things -- blanks for swords and daggers, almost completed swords and knives with cracks in the blades or handles, unfinished shields, even an occasional chain link or two, but not enough to make a useful length of chain.

"There are an awful lot of broken weapons here." Gabrielle said to Xena.

"Well, my guess would be that they are probably some of the very first things he tried making."

"Then why didn't he just throw them out?"

"He didn't dare. They can't be destroyed, but even weapons that are broken and useless to a god would make a mortal almost invincible."

"Then I guess we should be glad they're still here."

After a light supper, they went back to their searching.

Xena was about to suggest that they get some sleep and continue the search in the morning when she heard Gabrielle call to her in a very odd voice.

"Xena . . . by - the - gods, Xena. Will you look at this?"

Xena walked over to Gabrielle and held her torch closer, and saw that Gabrielle was holding up a Chakram -- an exact duplicate of the Dark Chakram Xena carried for so many years.

"What? How? Where?" Gabrielle couldn't find the words.

"Let me see that!" Xena said as she took Chakram from Gabrielle's hand.

"Hold this." Xena said as she thrust her torch toward Gabrielle.

Using the light from both torches Xena looked closely at it, examining it over and over. Then she found something.

"Feel right here." Xena said as she held out the Chakram to Gabrielle, who had to put both torches in one hand to touch where Xena was indicating. She felt a nick in it, a very small notch.

"What is it?" She asked Xena.

Xena held it up and then pulled, straining, on opposite sides, and a small sliver of a crack allowed the yellow-orange light to show through.

"It's flawed." Xena answered. "It must have cracked somehow just as he was finishing it. So he made another one, the one Ares stole from that temple and gave to me."

"Why do you think he made them in the first place?" Gabrielle asked.

"I have no idea. As much as he hated Hera, maybe he was hoping someone would use one or the other to kill her. Or maybe just for his own pleasure. You know, something no one had ever made before. But then I'm just guessing."

"I didn't find any chains, did you?" Gabrielle asked.

"No, but I think I found something almost as good. Look over here."

Gabrielle followed Xena to the other side of the room where the Eye of Hephaestus was.

"What is it? It looks like a large bath tub -- or a stone coffin."

"That's what I was thinking. If Hephaestus made this as well, it could be used to hold Ares."

"Do you have any idea how to actually get him in there?"

"I'm still working on that." Xena answered. "If we can get him in here, in this cave, I may be able to make him climb into it on his own. Or die."

"I thought you said . . . ."

"Or make him THINK he'll die if he doesn't. Now, how to get him in here is the problem."

"Maybe if you just call him out he'll appear."

"No, that won't work. This cave is as god-proof as the chains. If he comes in he'll have to walk."

Neither one spoke, looking to the other for an idea. Gabrielle opened her mouth as if she was going to say something, then didn't, but the expression on her face interested Xena.

"You have an idea?" Xena asked.

"I'm not sure. I mean I have one, but I don't know how good it is."

"Well, spit it out! It can't hurt to tell me what it is."

"I was thinking, what if we get Aphrodite to help? I'll bet if it came down to either her thinking you would kill Ares, or helping us lock him up, she'd rather help."

Xena thought for a while. "It might work. But before we let her in on this, maybe it wouldn't be such a bad idea if you talked to her. You know, just to see how she feels about this change in Ares. I'm sure she can't be happy about it."

"That's not a bad idea. Now all I need is some kind of reason to get her down here."

Again both women were quiet, trying to come up with a good excuse.

Finally Xena asked, "Gabrielle, your scrolls are in Poteidaia, aren't they?"

"Yes, I left them with Lila for safe keeping. Why?"

"What if you asked Aphrodite to take you to Poteidaia to get them and then bring them back here?"

"I guess I could. But why would I want them here?"

"Why not? Can you think of a safer place for them? What would happen if Poteidaia was attacked by some warlord and they were destroyed?"

"Xena. . . ." Gabrielle started to say.

"Or what if there was a fire? Or if they were stolen? And don't forget, things in here don't age. They will look just the same in a hundred years as they do now."

"Okay, okay, you've convinced me. Now that I think about it, this probably is the best place for them. First thing tomorrow morning I'll try to get in touch with Aphrodite and see what she says."

The next day Gabrielle left the cave and called for Aphrodite. Xena decided to stay inside and look around to see if there was anything else of any value to be found.

"Gabrielle! Oh I'm just SO glad to see you! Things have been so terrible this past year! First I heard that Xena died. And then you were gone for so long looking for her. But I heard she's alive again, and I'm really happy about that! Is she here?"

"You know Xena, she's around somewhere. But it's good to see you, too. It has been a hard year, I just hope things get better real soon."

"Oh, me too. So what do you want to do? We could go shopping or something."

"Well actually, I was hoping you might flash me back to Poteidaia so I could get my scrolls."

"Oh," Aphrodite said a little disappointed. "Sure, be glad to."

"While we're there we could walk through the marketplace." Gabrielle suggested. "It's not a particularly large one, but there are always interesting things there."

"Okay!" Aphrodite said, brightening up. "Let's go to Poteidaia."

By midday Gabrielle and Aphrodite were back with Gabrielle's scrolls. "I never realized you had so many." Aphrodite was saying as she helped Gabrielle carry them into the cave.

As they walked down the passage, Aphrodite was becoming a little apprehensive. "Are you sure this is where you want to put them?" she asked Gabrielle.

"I just want to make sure they're safe. And this is just about the safest place I can think of."

"Okay, if that's what you want to do. You know, I never did like it here. It's so dark and damp and all. Did you know that Hephaestus was in love with me? My own brother! I was so glad when he was thrown out of Mt. Olympus."

"So you've been in here?"

"Just a couple of times. I tried to stay as far away from Hephaestus as I could."

"This looks like a good spot," Gabrielle said as she stopped walking. "I think they will fit nicely in these little nooks."

As Gabrielle began to put the scrolls in one by one, she casually asked, "Have you seen Ares lately?"

"Gabrielle, if you don't mind, I'd rather not talk about Ares."

"Why, is something wrong with him?"

"Come on, Gabrielle, I may not be the smartest god there ever was, but we both know what's going on with him and Xena. He told me she tried to kill him."

"Did he tell you why."

When Aphrodite didn't answer, Gabrielle went on. "In order for Xena to get her body back, she had to promise to kill Ares. Haven't you noticed a change in him since he came back from Japa?"

Aphrodite nodded slightly.

"He has been infected with this terrible evil spirit. The spirit of a Soul Eater. He had eaten the souls of 40,000 innocent men, women and children. Xena destroyed him, but his evil was still there, hiding. And when Ares took me to Mt. Fuji, this evil spirit got into Ares. Aphrodite, Xena doesn't want to kill Ares. She tried but she couldn't do it. But he has to be stopped, you know that don't you?"

Aphrodite nodded again

"Aphrodite, we need you help."

"You want me to betray my own brother?" Aphrodite asked incredulously.

"I want you to help us not kill him. Xena has a plan to imprison him here in this cave somehow, but we need you to get him down here."

"I don't know, Gabrielle. I mean, I know there's something wrong with him. I've never seen him so cruel and so heartless, but still. . . . "

"Aphrodite, there are only two options here. Either we lock him up, forever, or Xena will have to kill him. Which would you rather happen?"

"I don't want him to die, Gabrielle. Can you promise me that Xena won't kill him?"

"Why don't you ask me?" Xena said as she walked up to them.

"If I help you, do you swear you won't kill him?"

"I can only tell you his -- if he cooperates then he won't have to die, but if he fights me I may not have a choice. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I don't want Ares to die any more than you do."

Aphrodite was silent, the agonizing conflict playing across her face. Finally she said, almost in a whisper. "All right, I'll help you. What do you want me to do?"

"Well, I was thinking," Gabrielle said. "Why don't you tell him you saw someone come into the cave, but assure him it wasn't Xena. And when he comes to see who it is, he'll only see me with these scrolls. And while he is distracted, Xena can, I don't know, knock him down or something. And then you can take off. You won't even have to be here after that."

"Good plan." Xena said. "Good and simple. Just the way I like `em."

"Thanks!" Gabrielle said, beaming with the compliment. "So have you come up with anything?"

"Actually, I have. I found out that the Eye of Hephaestus is actually some kind of trigger. If it's hit in a certain place there is a stone door that comes down and seals off the cave."

"Well, yeah." Aphrodite said. "Everybody knows THAT."

"Everybody mortal, or everybody god?" Gabrielle asked her.

"Oh. Well, all the gods know it, knew it."

"Is there anything else about it we should know?" Xena asked.

"I can't think of anything, except that once the door has been sealed it won't open again for a couple of thousand years."

"A Couple of Thousand Years!!" Gabrielle cried out. "You mean I won't be able to get to my scrolls for two thousand years? Xena, I can't leave them here. What if I want to read them again, or...."

"Gabrielle, how long do you think they'll last if you don't leave them in here? Thirty, forty years? I thought you said you were writing them so that future generations will be able to read them and understand how things really happened?"

"I thought they were just about Xena." Aphrodite said to Gabrielle.

"They are about her, and me and you and Joxer and Ares. They're about all of us. Xena's right, as usual, this IS where they should be kept."

"Is there anything else?" asked Xena.

"No." Aphrodite said. "I think that's about all."

"So, Xena, do we have a plan yet?" Gabrielle asked, changing the subject.

"Still working on it. Aphrodite, why don't you go on back for now, and that will give us a chance to get ready. And then tomorrow morning you tell Ares what Gabrielle said."

"All right. You really do promise you won't kill him?"

"I will do my best not to, I swear to you."

Aphrodite looked at Gabrielle for confirmation and then walked to the entrance of the cave, and disappeared.

"Xena, what if I made a mistake? What if she tells Ares everything?"

"Then we'll come up with a new plan. But for right now, here's the rest of the old one. I didn't to want to say too much in front of Aphrodite, just in case."

"What do you mean? Someone's in the Cave of Hephaestus? That's been blocked off for years."

"No, you're wrong, the entrance is clear and I saw someone go inside."

"Xena! I'll bet it was Xena! She's looking for some kind of weapon to use against me!"

"No, it wasn't her, I know Xena when I see her. Do you want me to go down there and see?"

"And what could you do? No, I'll go. You stay here."

Ares flashed in front of the cave entrance and then peered into the darkness. "There's no way I'm going into a dark cave." He said out loud. Then with a wave of his hand, the interior of the cave was lit up, as he had done to Gabrielle's cell in Japa.

Ares slowly walked down the passage, then paused and listened before making the first turn. He heard someone, not far ahead. He balled up one fist, getting a fireball ready. He looked around the corner but no one was there. They had to be after the second turn. When he turned the corner he saw Gabrielle doing something with the scrolls that were in the fissures of the cave wall.

"Hey! Just what do you think you're doing?" he yelled at her.

"Oh!" Gabrielle cried out. "You scared me! I didn't think anyone else was here."

"I said, What are you doing here?" Ares repeated, becoming angry.

"What does it look like? I'm storing my scrolls here for safe keeping."

Becoming extremely suspicious, with a fireball ready, Ares demanded, "Where's Xena? If you're here, I know she's here."

"Xena? Well, let me think. I saw her sometime last night, just before we turned in."

"I've had enough of this!" Ares shouted, and started to throw the ball of fire. But before he could, Xena appeared from the entrance of the cave and with a series of running kicks propelled Ares farther back into the cave. Before he could recover, Xena repeated the kicks a second and then a third time, until he was in the central room.

By the time Gabrielle caught up to them Xena had Ares against a wall, her sword pressing against his chest, ready to plunge it into his heart if necessary.

"Go on, Xena! DO IT! Get it over with!" Ares shouted angrily. "What are you waiting for?"

Calmly, Xena answered, "You don't want to die, Ares. And believe it or not, I really don't want to kill you. But like I told you on Mt. Fuji, you can't be allowed to start your bloody reign of terror. So you have only two options -- either I can kill you, or you can stay in here as a prisoner."

"And just how do you propose to keep me locked in here?"

"The Eye of Hephaestus. I know all about how to seal the door to this cave."

"How did you find out? Who told you?" Ares demanded.

"Maybe she's just smarter than you give her credit for." Gabrielle told him.

"See that big stone bath tub with the heavy stone top over there to your right? Your OTHER right!"

"No! There is NO WAY I'm getting in there!"

"Suit yourself." Xena said as she pushed the tip of the blade through Ares' leather shirt and into his chest to the depth of one finger's width. As the blood began to trickle down over his belt buckle, Ares pressed flatter against the wall, trying to get away from the point.

"I'm moving. I'm moving." He said as he walked sideways along the wall toward the stone coffin.

"That's right." Xena encouraged him. "Now just climb right on in there. Lay down; that's good!"

"You'll pay dearly for this one day, Xena. You just wait!"

"Yeah. Yeah. Sure. Now slide the top, that's right."

"You'll never make it." Ares warned. "There's no way you can keep me in here and still get to the Eye, and then make it out of here without trapping yourself and you dear little friend!"

"Got it ALL worked out." Xena replied, as she held up the flawed Chakram.

"What? Another one? Where did that one come from?"

"Don't you worry about that. You just lay back and get comfortable. The top -- slide it the rest of the way."

As the top was slid into place, Xena held the Chakram up for Gabrielle to see. Gabrielle nodded once and took the Chakram she carried from its clip and held it ready.

Suddenly Xena threw the Chakram. It ricocheted off one wall and then hit the Jeweled Eye. As it flew back across the room, Xena yelled. "NOW, Gabrielle!"

Gabrielle threw her Chakram and it too ricocheted off one wall, then a second. Then as the two crossed, Gabrielle's Chakram hit the one Xena had thrown, and it broke into two pieces. Each piece rebounded off the walls until they each disappeared down two separate passages.

Gabrielle grabbed hers out of the air as it flew past.

From the entrance of the cave a deep reverberating rumble could be heard -- the stone door was lowering to seal the cave.

Xena and Gabrielle raced toward the opening and managed to dive underneath it to the outside just as the heavy door crashed down, sealing off the cave for the next two thousand years.

As they were brushing the dirt off each other, Aphrodite appeared.

"You didn't -- you know." She asked fearfully.

"No." Xena answered. "We wouldn't have had to seal up the cave if I had. He's alive, mad as he can be, but alive."

"You know, I'm really going to miss him. Except for Hercules, who I never see, he was the only family I had left."

"Well, we're almost like family." Gabrielle said, as she put a hand on Aphrodite's arm.

"That's true. If I had to pick my family, you'd be it."

"To tell you the truth," Xena said, "I don't think you're going to have much time to miss anybody for a while. There are an awful lot of people out there needing that one thing only the Goddess of Love can provide."

"Thanks. You guys are the best. I guess I better get started. You two take care. And if you ever want to hang out, just call me."

"You can count on it." Gabrielle replied.

After two quick hugs, Aphrodite disappeared.

No sooner as Aphrodite left, they heard a voice behind them.


Xena and Gabrielle looked at each other with here-we-go-again looks on their faces. Then they slowly turned around to face Michael.

"You did it again, didn't you? You told me you were going to kill Ares, but he's still alive. So what happened this time?"

"This time I put him someplace that he won't be able to cause any problems for two thousand years. So as far as I'm concerned, he's as good as dead."

"But that wasn't the deal. You were supposed to kill him. Twice you had the chance, and twice you didn't. So it looks like you're going back to Mt Fuji. . . . "

"Wait just a minute! All Eve ever talked about was how compassionate and merciful and forgiving this God of Eli is. So now you're telling me that's just an ox cart full of horse droppings?"

Michael tried to think of something to say, some answer, but could only stand silent.

After a few moments he said, "You're right. And since you're in such a merciful mood, then you won't need the Power anymore."

Suddenly Xena was hit with a flickering red light from above, hit with such force that if Gabrielle hadn't been there to catch her, she would have been driven to the ground.

Just a quickly as it started, the light was gone, as was Michael.

"It's gone again?" Gabrielle asked.

As she began to recover, Xena said. "Yep, it's gone again." As she stood up she said, "But how many gods that need killing are left anyway?"

"Not too many I would guess."

As they began to leave Mt. Olympus, Xena noticed that Gabrielle was lagging behind, and acting a little -- odd.

"So, what would you like do?" Xena asked brightly.

"I don't know. It doesn't matter."

"Hey, are you all right?" Xena asked, now with some concern in her voice. "You're not hurt are you?"

"No, I'm fine, really."

"You don't sound so fine to me. Come on, Gabrielle, talk to me. What's wrong?"

Gabrielle took a deep breath, trying to find the right words.

"I was just thinking about how I messed up back in Japa. Here I was going to be the Big Hero. I was going to save you and bring you home, but all I did was get beat up, get thrown in jail, got my hand broken, and what was even worse, my spirit was broken. I knew I was going to die, and I accepted it, almost welcomed it. I just didn't have the will to fight anymore. I felt like such a failure."

Xena put her fingers over Gabrielle's mouth.

"That is something I NEVER want to hear you say again. You have proved yourself, over and over and over. And I am so sorry that I haven't told you that, over and over and over. We both have our strengths and we both have our weaknesses. That's what makes us such a great team, we compliment each other. We're partners, Gabrielle, neither one of us is any better or stronger, or any worse or any weaker than the other. That's what makes us unstoppable."

With glistening eyes Gabrielle put her arms around Xena, and Xena returned the hug.

"I need you Gabrielle," Xena whispered. "Even more than you need me." And Gabrielle held her even tighter.

When they finally stepped back from each other, Xena continued. "Now, as I was saying, Partner, what do you want to do?"

"Well, I guess we should look for Eve. I'm sure you'd both like to know the other is alive and well."

"You're right. It's been too long since I've seen her."

"I wonder if she's still traveling with Hercules."

"Never can tell."

"That'd be really great if they were."

"I don't think either one could do any better."

"Me neither. And after that, we should go see Meg and Virgil. I told her we'd bring her coat back before next winter. And I missed seeing Virgil the last time I was by."

"That sounds good, too. I'd like to see them both again."

"And I was thinking I'd kind of like to go to back Amphipolis for a visit."

"Oh yes, your special someone. What was his name?"


"You kind of like this guy, huh?"

"You know, Xena, I really do. I only knew him for one day, but there was just something about him."

"Then we definitely have to go. I should check him out, just to make sure he's good enough for you."

"He has a friend I think you might like."

Xena laughed. "Let's just take one thing at a time, okay?"

Then putting her arm around Gabrielle's shoulder she said, "Come on, Partner, let's go find my daughter."

As the two Soulmates walked away from Mt. Olympus, their laughter echoed throughout the countryside as if all was right with the world again, now that they were together . . . . as they were meant to be.

Only the disappointment, sadness, and anger at the ending of FIN 2 was destroyed in the production of this fan fiction.

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