Disclaimer: The characters of Xena, Gabrielle, and Argo belong to MCA/Universal and not to this poor author. They were borrowed with no intent of infringement or profit seeking.
This story contains hints of love between two consenting adults females. If you find this not to your liking, feel free not to continue reading.
My deepest appreciation goes to roc-it scientist for her comments, guidance and friendship and to Alwayslooking for inspiring me to dust off my muse. My gratitude also to LynKa for agreeing to post my first attempt at fan fiction. Bless you all, forever.
"What is this?" she thought. "I sleep through sneak attaches and Xena flinging frying pans over my head! All seems quiet. What could have awakened me?"
She lay very still and tried using the skills of listening she was learning from her friend. Every nerve in her body was ready to spring if she was to perceive any intrusive sound.
For some reason, Xena had chosen a cave for them to spend the night in instead of camping in the nearby clearing as they normally would. Gabrielle had been too tired to ask the reason for this last night and wasnt sure she would have received an answer anyway. The usually reticent Xena had seemed more introspective then usual the entire day and especially so when they stopped to set up camp.
They had done the usual chores of collecting wood, building the fire,
Xena trotting off to return with the usual rabbit for supper and
Gabrielle preparing the meal. After supper was finished and the
evidence of same cleared away, Xena retreated to sharpen her sword and clean her armor while Gabrielle worked on her scrolls. Few words were spoken that evening.
Finally with a stretch and a yawn, Gabrielle announced she was going to sleep. She arose, retrieved both her and Xenas bedrolls from where they had been left near Argos saddle. Quietly she spread them out on the cave floor.
"Gods, I am tired tonight," she thought. Glancing at the still silent
Xena, she sat on her blanket, said a quiet "Good Night," lay down on her
side facing the back of the cave. Early in their travels together she
had discovered when they slept in a cave, Xena always took the position
nearest the opening ever on guard for any eventuality.
Gabrielles eyes began to close the moment her head touched the arm she
used as a pillow. Just before Morpheus took her to the land of dreams
and sunshine, she heard a very quiet "Good night, Gabrielle, sleep
well." If she had had more energy, Gabrielle would have thought those
five words were more than Xena had spoken all day.
Having re-capped the previous evening, Gabrielle continued her musing. "I was sleeping so soundly, I dont believe I moved all night. Nope, still have my head resting on my arm just as I lay down. So what woke me up?" Gabrielle thought.
Slowly and quietly she rolled unto her back, turned her head to the left and saw Xena still asleep.
"I dont get it," Gabrielle thought. "Shes the one who always wakes first, especially if something is amiss. Oh, Gods, is she ill? Is that what awakened me?"
She raised herself unto her left elbow to take a closer look. "No, her breathing seems normal. I think shes all right. Come on, Gabrielle, think. What is different?"
Then she heard it. A quiet rustling in the leaves outside their cave camps door came to her, accompanied by a fresh clean smell.
Chuckling silently to herself, the bard realized it was raining. That was the sound that had awakened her. She lay back and enjoyed the sound and smell of the gentle rain.
Suddenly she sat straight up, "Oh, Hades!" she said aloud. Then she clasped her hand over her mouth before completing her thought, "Xena never stops for rain, we will have to travel through this all day long. I can feel the wet, cold and mud now."
Xenas sharp ears had heard the mild expletive uttered by the bard and she said, "What is it, Gabrielle? Why are you awake?"
"Its raining, Xena."
"Yeah, I sensed it coming when we made camp last night. Thats why I chose the cave instead of the meadow. Now, lie back down and go to sleep. We wont be traveling today."
"Xena, do you feel all right? We always move along, rain or shine. Are you okay?"
"I feel fine, Gabrielle. This is a special day and we will not be
traveling. We will stay here safe and warm. You were too tired last
night to notice I brought in extra firewood. And we have provisions
enough to last a while. Besides, my bard, I have a story to tell you for a change and it may take a little time."
"A story, Xena? What kind of story?"
"Gabrielle, today I will tell you of my deepest love and hope you understand."
"Is that what you were thinking of yesterday, what made you so quiet? Is it Marcus? Is it Hercules or someone I dont know of?" the bard questioned incessantly.
"No, Gabrielle. This is not someone from the past I will be telling you of, but someone from the present."
"Oh," gulped Gabrielle. "Whom could you have met without my having known?" The very words almost choked her as she spoke them.
"You know this person, Gabrielle. Why dont you go back to sleep? It isnt even dawn. There will be plenty of time to hear my tale since well be staying here today."
"My sleep is done for tonight, Xena, so if you are awake enough, Ill put more wood on the fire and you can tell me now." While speaking these words she thought, "I knew she would tire of me, but I didnt expect our journey to end today. I may never sleep again."
Xena stretched and answered, "Actually, I slept quite well last night and feel totally rested. Another log or two on the fire sounds nice though. There is a bit of a chill in the air from the rain."
Gabrielle rose slowly, walked over to the neatly stacked firewood Xena had brought in the night before, chose two large branches and trudged back to the dwindling fire.
"Shall I put some water on for tea before you start, Xena?" she asked trying all tactics possible to delay the inevitable doom knell she felt was coming.
"Sounds good. A bit of bread might go good right now, too. This rain has made me hungry."
"Sure, Xena. Ill get it."
"Why is that water heating so fast today?" Gabrielle wondered as she
placed herbs into their cups.
Soon she was handing Xena hot herb tea and a crust of bread to go with it. Then she settled herself on Xenas blanket with both hands wrapped around her own cup.
"Arent you going to eat anything?" Xena asked.
"No, I am not hungry right now," the bard replied.
"Uh oh," Xena thought, "Gabrielle not hungry? Thats a bit unusual. Of course, she did put away the majority of the rabbit last night."
"Gods, she seems so relaxed and happy," Gabrielle thought. "Whoever it
is, Im glad theyve brought her to this point. I still cant help
wonder who it is though and when did this happen? Could it be when we
were fighting the Horde? One of the soldiers, perhaps? We were not
together too much then as I couldnt stand her warlord mode."
"Gabrielle? Gabrielle, are you okay?"
"Uh, sure, what is it, Xena?"
"Nothing really. I had just remarked how good this warm tea tastes, but you didnt hear me and seemed so far away."
"Oh, I, uh, was just thinking about the story you are going to tell and wondering who .."
"Gotcha!" Xena chortled.
Gabrielle managed a feeble smile, gently slapped the warrior on the knee and said "Yeah, ya got me. Now give."
"Sure you dont want some bread first?" the warrior teased.
"No, now give," the bard stated a bit more forcefully, as she thought "Might as well get this over with. I guess I will be heading to the Amazons as soon as the weather clears. At least Xena and I will have some time together before I have to leave."
"Where shall I start?" Xena asked, more to herself than to Gabrielle.
"The beginning is always a good place," Gabrielle answered.
"The beginning, huh, okay. Actually this has been going on for some time, almost two years now, I believe."
Gabrielle choked on her tea and coughed several times to clear her windpipe.
"Two years? Why have you waited so long to tell me about this? Xena, that is not fair; I could have been making plans for my future all this time! Why didnt you say something?"
"Well, Gabrielle, you had just left Poteidaia, your family and friends to travel with me. I really didnt think you could handle one more thing."
"You knew this in Poteidaia and didnt say a thing? Damn it, Xena, sometimes you make me so mad."
Xena ducked her head and said quietly, "Shall I continue?"
Gabrielle sighed, "Yes, by all means, do."
"Well, this was not as if I had planned it. It was not something I was looking for or even thought I wanted ever again in my life. I was walking the path I had decided on and I did not believe there was room on that path for love. But love does not always ask if it can come for a visit; it just shows up unannounced, uninvited. Thats what happened to me. Im a warrior, Gabrielle, and believe me I fought this with every skill I had. But this was one battle I could not win. If my old troops could hear me say this, they would not believe it. Old hard heart they used to call me behind my back, thinking I wouldnt hear of it. But I heard and could not take exception because it was the truth."
Glancing at her now empty cup, Xena asked, "Is there enough water left for more tea, Gabrielle?"
"Yeah, there is plenty. Ill make you another cup. I think Ill have another also." Her mind kept going after her mouth stopped, "Another brief stay of execution," she thought.
As Gabrielle handed Xena the second cup of tea, Xena smiled up at her and said, "Thanks. Now, come sit beside me while I continue. Where was I?"
"You said your troops called you "Old hard heart", guess they didnt know you very well, did they, Xena?"
"Oh, they knew me all right and that is the way I was, too." She added, "Then."
"Sure you dont want some bread, Gabrielle, it is great with this tea."
"No, Im fine," she answered, taking a sip from her steaming cup. "Go on."
"Well, as I said, an emotional entanglement was the last thing I ever expected. So much so, I denied it was happening for the longest time. But finally I could not deny it any longer. This old warriors heart had been captured. I guess I should have told you sooner, Gabrielle, but you know how hard it is for me to speak, particularly about such things. Forgive me for waiting so long?"
"I forgive you anything. Xena. Unless you dont hurry up and tell me who this person you have fallen in love with is."
"That is the best part; I hope you will think so, too. Its you, Gabrielle. You have snared my heart and are holding me a prisoner of my love for you."
Gabrielles hold on her cup of tea gave way and she dropped it, splashing bard, warrior and bedroll with the warm fragrant liquid.
"Gabrielle?" Xena questioned with a tremble in her voice. "Im sorry, maybe I shouldnt have "
"Dont you dare apologize for giving me something I have wanted for so
long! Oh, Gods, I thought you were going to tell me I had to leave
because you were settling down with someone else. Gods, Xena, I love
you, too." She threw her arms around the smiling warrior who wrapped
her long strong arms around the bard as well.
Finally they pulled apart, Xena laughed and said, "Well, its a good thing you do love me, too; looks like we will be having to share a bedroll. Someone spilled tea all over my blankets!"
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