DISCLAIMER: None of these characters are mine. No infringement or profit is intended. I just wanted to see what would happen if they all played together for a little while.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This story was inspired by the new Melissa Etheridge song "I've Loved You Before," hence the title.
CHALLENGE: Written for Passion & Perfection's Big 5000.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

I've Loved You Before
By Calliope


Spencer jerked up from a dead sleep, panting wildly and feeling the chill of sweat cool her fevered body. Every night for a week she had been having the same dream. The terror of prom night had come and gone, leaving her alone while Ashley took off overseas, running from anything remotely resembling feelings. Love, hate, fear, joy. They all melded together for the troubled brunette and Spencer, as always, stayed to face the pain left behind. Ashley hadn't even said goodbye to her before hopping a plane.

The nightly images devolved from a happy Ashley and Spencer dancing and laughing at the prom to nameless women she didn't know. There was violence and blood…so much blood that she felt the slick warmth under her shaking hands or was it someone else's hand. At first it was her but it changed. Another blonde held a sword menacingly forward as rain poured down.

"Give me her head!" she demanded.

Spencer felt the pain, the grief, the loss as if it were her own. But she also felt something else. A thread connecting her to a source of strength and power she couldn't identify.

"No, Gabrielle, you can't," her hands cradled an urn gently over a pool of water. She watched as her hands were pulled back by a beautiful, leather clad woman. An aura of calm and love enveloped her, leaving her feeling cleansed, whole.

The calming images transitioned into a field of blood. Every leaf, even the sky, seemed bathed in it. Even in her dreams, Spencer shook with dread. The invisible thread pulled her eyes to the right and on the horizon stood a proud, dark image. She felt it call to her but before she could make her body move forward, hundreds, perhaps thousands, of arrows descended on the hazy form. She knew she screamed, but heard nothing. The form stepped forward, arrows seemed to come from every inch on the formless body, but it refused to fall. Defiantly, the image stood firm until another series of arrows whizzed by Spencer's ears.

Screaming into the soundless void was the last memory Spencer had before waking.


Swaying on unsteady legs, Xena heard the scream. She couldn't tell if it was real or in her mind. Feeling weak, she dropped to her knees.

"Gabrielle," a choked whisper escaped her lips.

Thinking of her petite friend brought a smile to the warrior's face and she felt a strange tug in her belly. She looked down at the arrows protruding from her body. Closing her eyes images flashed in her mind. She was speeding along a dark solid rock road and a deep vibration seemed to surround her. Furrowing her brow, concentrating on the images, she caught a reflection in a small round mirror. Dark hair was pulled back in a ponytail and fierce blue eyes stared back at her. It was her, but not her. She was younger and this wasn't her world, yet she felt connected to the vibrant brunette.

Xena felt the determination rolling off the young woman as she slid to a stop in front of a large stone dwelling. The blonde that opened the door was captivating. While the two were almost the same height, they were polar opposites. She could sense the struggle in the brunette – intense frustration was counteracted by a raw passion. The words wouldn't come so instead she grabbed the stunned blonde in a deep kiss that was returned in its fervor.

After what seemed like an eternity, the blonde broke away breathless, a smile lighting up her face, "Jo…when?"

"Since," she shrugged her shoulders, "forever."

A sharp pain brought Xena back to the present. Out of the fog, Japanese warriors began to surround her. They moved silently, as if by magic, on the leaf strewn floor of the forest.

She reached down deep for one last surge of strength. A ragged scream of bitter vengeance was ripped from her soul. If she failed, there was no hope of survival, no hope of seeing Gabrielle again.

The warrior stepped forward and kicked the katana from her raised hand. Sneering down at her, he relishing the moment, "So, the great Warrior Princess has fallen."

He raised his sword as Xena closed her eyes, "I love you, Gabrielle."

"Even in death, Gabrielle, I'll never leave you," the words echoed in Amy's head. It had been hours since she had woke from sleep with those words on her lips. She stood on the dais, looking out over a sea of familiar faces, who seemed so alien and foreign now. They were supposed to have been her friends, and they wanted her to lie about the one good thing in her life…Lucy.

She was haunted by the words. They were words of strength and determination, a love so eternal that nothing could keep them apart.

A pain clutched at her heart. She was a coward. She let herself be swayed by her D.E.B. team and truth be told she was scared. Scared to grab at a chance for happiness. She was a perfect liar, so perfect that she even fooled herself. She pushed Lucy away, refused to acknowledge her attempts to reach her, and now she was alone. She let her fear control her destiny.

When she looked up to finish the speech, to end the agony, she locked eyes with the dark-haired criminal. They shared a knowing smile.

"I'll never leave you."

With a certainty she'd never known until this moment, Amy accepted her destiny, "The only brave thing I've done this whole time is what I'm doing now."

A sense of peace enveloped the warrior as she awaited her fate, the katana raised high over her head. Smiling, she closed her eyes one last time, allowing the images of her and Gabrielle - past, present, and future – to float through her mind's eye and wrap her soul in comfort, "Even in death, Gabrielle."

The End

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