He couldn't get enough of watching her sleep. Her face looked so serene, without the usual grief stamped on to it. Ares breathed a sigh of relief, as he realized that finally Gabrielle was moving on from the pain of losing Xena. Just the other day she had been laughing and having a good time at her birthday party. Satisfied that the worst was over, Ares decided his vigil was no longer necessary. He would miss all the time he was spending with her, whether she knew it or not. But he couldn't leave his relatives alone for too long. So, placing a light kiss on her forehead he disappeared.
As soon as the calming presence of her protector was gone, Gabrielle began to toss and turn in her sleep. Images of hell were tormenting her dreams. All around her the flames of Hell licked at her naked flesh. Every inch was seared and screaming in pain. She could hear Lucifer laughing with glee behind her.
Sitting straight up from her pillow she quickly looked around.
"Thank the Gods, that was horrible!" Gabrielle sighed.
Suddenly the bed began to rumble and shake. Before she could jump away hands burst through the coverings and wrapped around her. Gabrielle clawed at the appendages with no effect. She could feel herself being pulled down and grasped for anything that might save her. Her efforts were useless as the hands pulled her farther and farther down. By the overpowering smell of sulphur that assailed her nostrils, she knew exactly where they were going straight to Hell!
She could hear the sound of many wings flapping around her. Almost scared to look, she did. A quartet of demons with Lucifer at the head was coming up to meet her.
"This is a dream...it's a dream! Wake up stupid! Wake UP!!"
A snarling voice whispered in her ear, "This is no dream, love."
Gabrielle could feel a slimy tongue run across her cheek and opened her eyes. The black orbs of Lucifer were looking back at her.
"Welcome home!" he laughed as he gathered her into his arms.
In a chamber she recognized as his private sanctuary, Lucifer's form changed back into that of an archangel. "YOU have some explaining to do, little one! Where is the gift you promised? My minion informed me of Eve's death and yet I do not see her here. Why is that?"
"She is in heaven. Eve was already dead when I found her. There was nothing I could do, my lord." She added with veiled distaste.
"How could you fail me like this? You promised me Xena's child, since the Warrior Bitch was plucked from my grasp." His hand ran down the side of her face leaving a long staggered burn. Tears welled up in her eyes but she refused to let them fall. Pulling herself up to her full height, Gabrielle went on the defensive.
"How dare you punish me? I did as I promised! Eve died a torturous death! I cannot be blamed for the fact that Michael and his Do-Gooders got there before you. Death is your dominion, no mine. Why did you not send your demons to fetch her? I wonder if you are as powerful as you say, if."
"SHUT UP!" Gabrielle flew across from the force of his kick to her stomach.
Bent over gasping for breath, she goaded him further. "You are not what I expected at all. When I saw you with Xena, power flowed from every pore and that is what excited me. But, I think I was mistaken. You are a fraud."
Lucifer charged towards her. Grabbing an ornate iron candleholder, she swept it towards his feet. Caught off guard, Lucifer fell back onto the ground. Jumping back up, he landed several well-placed kicks that nearly did her in. Loath to let him know how much pain she was in, Gabrielle slowly walked towards him.
"Now that is what I was talking about. That power, it's intoxicating. I apologize, my lord. The fault must lie with your underlings, not yourself. I was stupid to believe otherwise. Someone as powerful as yourself, needs someone smarter then these dogs to aid you."
Pulling Gabrielle into his arms, he grabbed the back of her head crushing his lips into hers. His hands running down the length of her body, he transformed the Warrior’s garb into something more sensual. When Gabrielle pulled away it was to find her self covered in black leather and satin. She began running her fingers over the smooth fabric, enticing him to watch. Breathless with bold desire, he pulled her to him once more.
"I suppose you think you should be the one to serve me, instead of the...dogs?"
"I don't know about that. Serve you has such a negative ring to it, don't you think? I'd prefer to rule beside you!"
Pushing her away, Gabrielle landed on the floor at his feet. "You sound like HER! I will not be fooled again! Kryton, to me!"
At his command a demon guard slithered from the shadows. "Yes, my lord?"
"Take her away, you know where. Make sure she stays put until I see fit to speak with her again."
Gabrielle struggled against the demon’s bulk, without luck. Looking back at Lucifer, she pasted the most honest face she could manage and whispered. "I am not Xena."
Lucifer sat on his throne pondering her words. "What did she mean I am not Xena? Doesn't she think I know that? What game is she playing?" Seeing the turmoil on their Master's face a gaggle of female demons sauntered up to his throne. Usually such a treat would amuse him, but the memory of a blond beauty in black leather interfered. Gabrielle had the taste of something he missed, Heaven! Pushing the whores away, he strode out of the hall. A test was in order!
Gabrielle heard the door open, expecting the worst. In stepped the Lord of Hell in all his glory. The handsome visage was gone and the evil smile that played on his face sent chills down her spine. Pulling the leather robe around her she demanded to know what he wanted.
"First, you can remove that robe!"
Letting the garment fall and pool around her feet, she waited. The scant attire left little to the imagination.
"Turn around, I have something for you!"
Her body trembling with fear she obeyed while looking around for a weapon if needed.
Gabrielle felt his gnarly fingers wrapping around her neck and then something cold came to rest against her skin. He lifted her hair and snapped the clasp shut.
Fingering the heavy gold collar, she asked, "What is this?"
"This is a wedding present, My Queen!"
"This can't be happening!” she thought. Her heart and mind cried out for someone to save her from her own tangled web of lies. Stilling herself, she turned and plastered on a smile.
"You honor me, my love" Leaning up she placed a kiss on his gruesome face.
"At the stroke of midnight, you will officially become my Queen, but until then a toast is in order." In a flash two black goblets appeared in his hands. "Drink to our coming nuptials."
Gabrielle remembered what would happen if she were to eat or drink anything while in Hell. Her fate would be sealed. Searching for a distraction she set the goblet down on the bed, "I would much rather seal our deal with a kiss."
Lucifer took the bait. Satisfied that her intentions were real he bent his head down anticipating another taste of Heaven. As soon as their lips touched his softened. Gabrielle watched his face change back to a more pleasing picture. When her eyes met his, she knew that it was literally fire, which she was playing with. As his kiss deepened, her thoughts went to another dark god, Ares. Ares' face replaced Lucifer's face in her mind. The hands roaming down her body were his as well.
There it was again. Ares could hear Gabrielle calling out to him or was it only wishful thinking? Just to be sure, he flashed into Zeus' chamber. The sight in front of him nearly sent the god of war reeling. Gabrielle in an embrace with the Lord of Hell! Anger and jealousy raced neck and neck through him. Then it came again, that voice in his head. It was Gabrielle and she was crying for help.
Although it went against everything being an Olympian god entailed, Ares stepped inside one of the newly erected temples of Eli.
"Yo! Michael get your feathery butt down here!" he bellowed.
When nothing happened he bit his tongue and asked. "Please."
"That's better!" the Archangel Michael grinned as he appeared.
"Whatever works." grumbled Ares.
"I heard that! Now, what do you want Olympian?"
Since time was of the essence Ares came to the point. "Gabrielle is in Hell."
Michael looked smugly at his adversary, "We are well aware of the pain, she is going through, but it will pass."
Ares grabbed the Archangels' head and growled. "You idiot! She is in hell, literally in Hell. Your old buddy Lucifer has her!"
Michael pulled from Ares hold. "How is that possible?"
"You're the Angel, you tell me?"
"I don't know, but we will get her back!" Flying up on a beam of light he was gone.
"You damn well better or I swear by my Godhood, you will pay!"
The witching hour was nearly upon them, and Gabrielle had never felt so dirty in her life. The thought of all the liberties she had allowed that monster to take on her person, made her sick to her stomach. She could still feel his hot hands on every inch of her skin. Now as the hour grew closer and her hopes of escape seemed non-existent, anger took hold. She was going to get out of Hell or die trying.
All the Minions of Hell were assembled to witness the crowing of their Queen. Evil snickers and ribald remarks about the wedding night rang out all over the hall. Gabrielle cringed at the very thought. When Lucifer appeared, in all his un-holy glory the sound was deafening. He approached his bride and knelt to place a kiss on her palm. Gabrielle seized the opportunity and grabbed the sword from his side.
"I knew it! You bitch!" he screamed as he charged at her. Gabrielle fought him off with the sword. When she managed to knock him down with a well-placed kick, his minions jumped into the fight. With the speed of an Amazon, she flipped over their heads coming to rest in front of Lucifer. The sword’s tip embedded lightly in the flesh of his neck.
"Call them off!" she commanded.
"How foolish to think that you can kill me."
"She can't but we can!" Michael called out from behind her. All around her a battle was beginning between the Archangels and the Demons of Hell.
Lucifer hissed "This is not over, Gabrielle. Not by a long shot!" Rushing to his feet, he fled into the shadows.
Gabrielle turned and faced her friend. "Took you long enough to get here!" she laughed weakly.
Michael smiled and put his hand on her shoulder. "I would love to take credit for this one, Gabrielle but it was that Olympian who told us you were here. We had no idea Lucifer had you until he summoned me. "
"Ares told you where to find me?"
Michael shook his head, "Sad but true. We would have heard about it soon enough I'm sure. But by then, it would have been too late."
"Thank you Michael!"
"Your welcome, Gabrielle." Taking her under his wings, he carried her out of Hell.
When Gabrielle was safely back among the mortals she breathed a sigh of relief. "That was a close one.” she whispered to herself.
"Too damn close if you ask me! I can't take my eyes off of you for a minute, can I?"
"I guess not!" she smiled as she rushed into Ares’ arms.
After a few minutes, Ares ran his fingers through her hair soothingly and whispered, "You know, you look pretty good in leather."
"That is sooo not funny." she chuckled pushing him away. "Can you do something about this?" motioning towards her clothes.
"Do I have too?" he quipped teasingly.
The look she gave him was the only answer he needed.
"Ok...ok, Gabby garb, coming right up." he laughed, changing her back to normal.