An Alternative Ending
To "A Friend In Need"
Disclaimer: The usual. I'm rewriting this finale to help lighten the heartbreak of all Xena fans who deserve a better ending than the one we got. It's short and simple. The way it should have been. Cause that's the way I like it.
Gabrielle and Xena were startled by the sudden voice. They had been watching the sun set on the last day of Xenas life.
They turned to see the image of Aphrodite materialize beside the fountain.
"Aphrodite..." Gabrielle couldnt believe her eyes.
"In the flesh, Sweet Cheeks."
"Aphrodite, what are you doing here?" Xena was having trouble accepting Aphrodites presence in Japa.
"Hey, Im not just gorgeous in Greece, ya know. I get around."
Despite the levity of the situation, Gabrielle had to smile at the Goddess of Loves double entendre. Then she noticed the horizon.
"Xena, the sun has stopped setting."
Xena followed Gabrielles gaze to see that the sun was no closer to the distant mountain range than it had been before Aphrodite had first appeared.
Aphrodite waved her hand in a dismissive gesture. "Yeah, well, I asked Apollo to hold his horses for a few minutes."
Xena and Gabrielle looked at the each other and then back at the Goddess, completely perplexed.
"Theres something you need to know."
With a snap of Aphrodites fingers, a bright apparition appeared a short distance in front of them. It shimmered for a moment, then settled into the image of Akemi. The spirit did not speak and her head was bowed.
"She lied to you." Aphrodite said quietly.
When the spirit remained silent, Aphrodite glared at her.
There was a commanding edge to the Goddess of Loves voice. Something neither Gabrielle nor Xena had ever heard.
Addressing Xena, Akemi did not raise her head. "When you failed to place my ashes in my family's tomb, I was condemned for an eternity to be a soul slave to Lord Yodoshi. I despised you every day. I cursed you every time I delivered a soul into eternal torment. I tried for years to send for you. I knew you were the only one capable of defeating Lord Yodoshi. When you succeeded, the 40,000 souls he held within his grasp were free. Then I told you the lie. Your death is not required to release them into a state of grace."
Xena did not understand. "Why did you lie to me, Akemi?"
"When you returned to me, I was as overwhelmed as the first time I saw you." Akemi explained. "Again I was filled with love and joy beyond what I could express. I could not bear to let you go. I wanted you to stay with me in the spirit world. I am ashamed and truly sorry for the pain I have caused you, Xena. For me to achieve peace in the afterlife now, I must be forgiven."
Without hesitation Xena said. "Of course, I forgive you, Akemi."
"It is not your forgiveness I seek, Xena."
Akemi looked up for the first time since she had appeared. Looking directly into Gabrielles eyes, she said. "Its the forgiveness of your soulmate that I need."
Gabrielle said nothing and Akemi continued.
"My desires would have condemned you to a life of heartbreak and loneliness. You would have lived the rest of you life without the woman whose love defines you. And yet, for the sake of saving thousands of souls who meant nothing to you, the sacrifice was made."
"Akemi..." Xena started.
"I forgive you."
The words, spoken with such quiet dignity and compassion, silenced the warrior. Akemi nodded her head in respect. She glanced briefly at Xena and gave her a small smile. Then she gradually faded from view.
"Now give me that." The mood was broken when Aphrodite strode over to Gabrielle and snatched the urn holding Xenas ashes from Gabrielle. "Apollo cant hold those horses back forever, ya know."
The Goddess of Love opened the urn and turned it upside down. The ashes floated and swirled toward the Fountain of Strength landing gracefully on the waters surface.
A flash of light hit Xena and knocked her down several feet away. Gabrielle started towards her, but Aphrodite stopped her with a light touch on her arm.
Xenas back was to Gabrielle. She lifted herself up with her arms and shook her head. Then she slowly stood. When she turned, she straightened, lifted her head, and smiled at her soulmate. She walked back to Gabrielle and held out her hand.
The young blonde unhooked the chakram from her belt and extended it towards the warrior. This time when Xena tried to grasp the metal ring, it remained firmly in her hand. She placed it on her hip and her smile grew.
Gabrielle turned and threw her arms around Aphrodite.
"I dont know how I can ever thank you."
The lovely goddess held her friend tightly. Looking over Gabrielles shoulder she caught Xenas eye.
"Anytime, Little One." She smiled at Xena. "Besides, after all youve done for me, I owed ya one."
Gabrielle clung to the Goddess of Love for a few moments more before Aphrodite disengaged herself.
"Now," She admonished her two friends. "I want to see two live, loving bodies on that boat heading to Greece tomorrow morning."
Snapping her fingers, the goddess was gone.
Gabrielle turned toward Xena and pulled her into a tight embrace.
"Yes, Im here." Xena replied holding the bard. "And I always will be."
Gabrielle looked up and pulled her warrior down for soft, yet possessive kisses. This was how it was going to be..... for as long as they lived.
Finally, Xena brought Gabrielles arms down from around her neck.
"Come on, soulmate. Lets go home."
As they started down the mountain, Gabrielle took Xenas hand and entwined their fingers together.
"Ya know, I used your chakram."
Xena sounded surprised. "You did?"
"Yup." Gabrielle responded proudly. "Threw it just like you."
"Oh." Xena said. "I thought maybe you were cutting off fish heads again...."
The sound of Gabrielles laughter was more magical to Xena than anything else shed experienced.
And true to their word, the next day there were two very much alive and very loving bodies on board a boat heading toward Greece.
Only they werent standing at the railing on the deck.......
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