Disclaimer: Xena, Warrior Princess; Gabrielle, Bard of Poteidaia; and any other of the television characters or television stories, are the property of MCA/Universalä and Renaissance Picturesä. No copyright infringement was intended in the writing of this fan fiction. Other characters, ideas, or any other unique parts of this story, are the exclusive property of the author. This story may not be sold or used for profit in any fashion. Copies of this story may be made for private use only and must include all disclaimers and copyright notices. If you want to post this story on any website, let me know first. All works remain the © copyright of the original author. These may not be republished without the author's consent
Warning: Xena and Gabrielle share a transcendent love that does occasionally manifest itself physically. If this is illegal where you live (as if love in any form can be made illegal), or as Austin Power’s says if, “it’s not your bag baby,” if you are under 21, click on something else. Affection abounds, intimacy is described in some detail, there’s plenty of angst as well as XWP type violence.
Summary: Xena and Gabrielle and the events after The Ides of March and Chakram, as if season 5 and 6 never occurred. There is angst, plenty of shmoopyness and XWP type violence.
Spoilers: Any episodes up to and including, The Ides of March and Chakram.
Acknowledgements: A finished story is the work of many. I would have been lost without my beta-reader Kim, who edited, rewrote and plain wrote parts of this, who saw through all my neurosis and despite all my begging never sent one part back for me to delete. Barb many thanks for those eagle eyes of yours. To my beloved friend Nancy Lee Smith 1964-1999, who prods me from the empyreal and without whom I would not be writing this. Thank you Andrew for leaving me alone, “like Stephen King’s wife would.”
-A Quoi Bon Dire, Charlotte Mew 1869-1929 is used without permission.
Bits of: -Medea, Euripedes, as translated by Rex Warner, -Agamemmon, Aeschylus, as translated by Richmond Lattimore, are also used without permission.
Feedback: Pro & Con - Always welcome at - firstname.lastname@example.org Please do be gentle. I’m very tough, except when it comes to my writing.
Gabrielle marveled at the dull roar of the swollen river that never completely faded. The low rumbling could still be heard, even though the sun mottled trail she trod upon was separated from the roiling riverbank by half a league or more. The wan sunlight that passed through the still, leafless trees didn’t provide enough warmth to allow the Bard to remove her tan fur lined cloak, but she was able to unbundle herself enough so that she didn’t feel so much like a mummified Norseman any longer.
She enjoyed the way the rays from Apollo’s Chariot splashed over Xena as she strode a few paces ahead, moving from the sunlight to the dark and then into the light again. Just as in her life, always reaching to the light. The thought warmed the Bard in ways the growing hint of spring around her had not. As always, the tall warrior appeared tuned to the surrounding trees and undergrowth for any form of danger, her large Thracian broad sword sticking up prominently from her wide, fur bundled back. This was the first day that Gabrielle could recall in recent memory that the two were traveling alone and, though she and the warrior exchanged very few, if any, words, she felt a growing delight that it was just the two of them again.
The dark haired warrior glanced back. Maybe it was Gabrielle’s smile, or maybe it was the first touch of spring warmth from the sun, but she was filled with a sense of peace and happiness that brought to mind the vibrant, discovery filled days in India. That recollection was soon followed by the visceral mental image of Gabrielle’s strong, tanned body, wrapped in a colorful Sari. She thought about the many opportunities that it provided for intimate exploration, and how she had availed herself of each and every one. The way of love in all its forms, physical, mental and spiritual, had been discovered, re-discovered and downright invented in her estimation. To have it all end so abruptly, with so much ground lost, brought a sense of melancholy.
The warrior still held tightly to the bitter belief, that it was her fault that Gabrielle had been forced from the path of peace, just as the inquisitive woman had discovered it. Her innate goodness and light had been subverted when Xena led her straight to the Romans and in her own weakness, caused the Bard to take up arms. While Xena knew the light would never go dim, as her own had been for all those years she was immersed in violence, she knew that Gabrielle would never be the same. She smiled ruefully as she envisioned what her spirited, blond companion would say if she ever dared to voice aloud these thoughts that plagued her. It’s not about you Xena! I’m a grown woman, and I make my own decisions on where I go and what actions I take. But for the warrior, it was not so easy to let go of the guilt.
“Think it’s time for a break Bard?” Xena asked with a smile.
“Or time for a Bard break,” Gabrielle quipped.
Xena led the way into a relatively dry, sunny clearing just off the roadway. “That could be interpreted in many ways Gabrielle.”
“It hasn’t been in awhile,” Gabrielle replied, blushing.
“Not with Amarice and Joxer shadowing us every moment day and night.” Xena slung her pack down, dropped to one knee and began unpacking some rations of dried meat, hearty bread, olives and goat cheese. “I hope we still have a bit of wine left...” Xena said looking at Gabrielle expectantly.
The small, but sturdy blond just shook her head and removed her own pack. After a quick check, she hefted a small skin, shaking it at the warrior as she sat down on the chilly ground.
“You’ve been awfully cheerful since Amarice and Joxer decided to take another path back to Greece,” Gabrielle commented, looking at Xena closely.
“They were driving me mad and besides we haven’t had a moment alone since…” Xena said before she realized it and drifted to an awkward stop.
“Since long before you recovered your chakram and regained your memory?” Gabrielle questioned.
Xena muttered and began chewing on a bit of jerky.
Gabrielle nibbled on an olive. “You’ve been pretty angry lately, and it can’t have all been Joxer and Amarice,” Gabrielle said and she was right, Xena had been in full, warrior princess mode for days, often brusque and uncommunicative even to the Bard. She was growing weary of the treatment and of waiting for the reticent warrior to open up.
Xena remained silent still chewing and by all appearances, was deliberately ignoring her.
Rare anger flushed Gabrielle’s cheeks. “Are you going to tell me what’s going on, or are you going to continue to play the Destroyer of Nations?”
Xena’s glacial eyes were the only things that displayed her sudden fury as the temperature around them plunged.
Gabrielle knew that there was no way to take back the words that she had uttered in her own frustration. “I’m so sorry Xena. That was way out of line. You are not that person any more,” the Bard said, her voice breaking. “It’s just that I can feel you taking all the responsibility for everything bad that’s happened, like you can control it all, and you keep getting further and further away from me. I’m not sure how to reach you.”
The dark woman’s fury faded away and she looked down to hide the pain that replaced it. She didn’t quite understand why her emotions kept swinging from one extreme to the other.
“Xena… I spoke out of anger and fear. I was pushing you, and that was wrong,” Gabrielle said, hoping there was some way to reach her friend.
“I understand,” Xena replied, rubbing her eyes. “I just need a little time to sort things out,” she gave Gabrielle a crooked smile.
A tear ran down the Bards cheek and then a second. She ducked her head and tried to wipe them away before Xena noticed, but she was too late.
“Oh Gabrielle. I can’t stand to see you cry,” Xena said and knelt in front of the Bard, placing a hand on her cheek, knowing that she had inflicted her own damage on the Bard with the callous and uncommunicative way she tended to handle any situation. “When we are somewhere safe and off the road, I can start to deal with everything that’s happened.” Her callused thumb caressed the familiar soft skin. “If I do that now, I won’t be able to focus on our safety or on getting us back to Greece.” Give me time, I’ll open up, I swear I, Xena vowed to herself.
Gabrielle sniffed a few times her compassionate green eyes filled with sorrow. “I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
“You’re my heart Gabrielle,” Xena said forcefully, pointing at her heart. “You beat, here, in my chest. Without you, I would breathe no more.”
Gabrielle had not heard the warrior utter such impassioned words to her since before this endless winter in which they had been crucified and then, despite all odds, returned to life again. She never realized how much she needed Xena’s declarations of love until she had gone without. “I was almost beginning to think you didn’t feel that way anymore,” Gabrielle said, tears welling up again, this time in relief.
“I know that I don’t tell you as much as I should, but you don’t ever have to doubt my feelings,” the warrior said, leaning closer until their foreheads gently touched.
The Bard looked into the bluest, most perfect eyes she had ever seen or ever hoped to see. Xena moved closer still and gave her a light, but not quite chaste kiss, and Gabrielle’s heart raced away across the clearing. Only she can do that to me; only her, Gabrielle thought with wonder.
“That seals it,” Xena said with a note of satisfaction. The mist through which Xena had been seeing the world for longer than she could recall, evaporated at the mere touch of her lips to the young Bard of Poteidaia’s, waking her mind, and body, in a way she had not felt since India.
Gabrielle lifted her hand and caressed the warrior’s dark hair. “Yes, it does.”
“You must be hungry,” Xena said.
“Oh, I don’t know any more,” Gabrielle replied, still trying to get her emotions under control. She sniffed a few more times.
Xena tried to lighten her mood. “Are you ill?” She asked teasingly.
“That joke’s getting old,” Gabrielle said with a frown.
“Which one is that?”
“The one about my eating habits,” Gabrielle responded.
“Hmmmm… we’ll have to come up with a new one then,” Xena replied, rubbing her chin with a definite glint in her eye.
“Now that’s a thaw!” Xena exclaimed loud enough to be heard over the river’s roiling brown froth. The water from a nearby rivulet that joined the mighty falls below them that she had used to fill their skins had been so cold that even the thought of it made her teeth ache. She pushed away from the dark rock they were leaning against and moved back to the hard beaten path on which they had been traveling. “No fishing today!”
Gabrielle stood a moment longer and marveled as a towering tree swept by and over the falls. The ephemeral vapor swirled up in fleeting displays of multi-colored spray and settled as a cool mist on her face. This was exactly the type of beautiful, natural marvel that stirred her bardic soul, so it was with regret that she turned her back and rejoined Xena.
A short time later as they walked side by side, a wistful Gabrielle asked. “Do you know what would be lovely?”
“I know you are.”
The Bard gave her a depreciating smile. “Xena.”
“Is this one of your games?” Xena asked suspiciously.
“No game,” Gabrielle replied.
“All right, I’ll bite. What would be lovely?”
“A warm meal, a warm bath, and a warm bed. Preferably under a roof with something at least resembling four walls,” Gabrielle said in a yearning voice.
“Toss in a warm Bard and you’ve got a deal,” Xena quipped. If it were in her power, she would have materialized everything on that list, right then and there.
“Comes with the package,” Gabrielle stated emphatically.
They walked for a time, the warrior deliberating. Finally she spoke. “Once we get close to Doriscus in Thrace, I think we can stop this Hades bent pace, and leave this game path behind. I know I’m tired of living like a rabbit and I think it’s time we surfaced to see what news of us there is,” Xena said, draping an arm over her blond companion’s shoulder. “What I’m saying is, we’ll head into town, find a top notch Inn…” She bent over so her lips were next to Gabrielle’s delicate ear. ”And I will personally ensure all of your wishes are fulfilled.”
The sultry tone and warm breath on the Bard’s ear sent a delicious tingle skittering down her spine all the way to her toes. She slid her arm around Xena, still tingling, and asked hopefully. “Is it far to Doriscus?”
It was actually well before dark for a change when Xena noted an enormous lightening scored tree. She led them off the trail when they reached the ancient sentinel and up the steep rocky hillside. The gray flinty stones bit into Gabrielle’s hands several times as she was forced to grab hold to keep from sliding back down the slope. They helped one another on occasion, while climbing steadily for perhaps half a candle mark. The slope eased a bit and the Bard caught a glimpse of a dark overhang that appeared to offer more than adequate cover for a campsite. Up close, she saw that the site was indeed ideal, and that other visitors must have thought so as well, though none appeared to have done so recently. The rock above protected the site from the elements, a large log laying next to a fire pit was inviting as a seat and the ground all around was smooth and stone free. Some considerate traveler had even left a stock of firewood.
“Wow! Very nice,” Gabrielle said approvingly.
The dark haired warrior flashed a quick, but appreciative smile at her voiced approval as she slung her pack down to lean against the log. The chill of winter had coldly reasserted itself now that they were out of the direct sunlight in the waning afternoon. Xena detached a short handled, wicked looking axe from her pack, and set to splitting some of the well-seasoned wood into kindling.
Gabrielle unburdened herself and pulled a pot out her gear wanting them to have a hot meal this night.
They each readily fell into their regular camp routines.
The two travelers sat side by side on a thick fur, leaning back against the log, and basking in the heat of the first decent fire they’d enjoyed in at least a week. They watched the night slowly claim everything out of the reach of their bright circle of light.
“I was not that mean to them,” Xena insisted. She was feeling quite comfortable with a warm meal in her belly.
A snort. “When is the last time we have had a fire like this for comfort, not just to hastily singe some unidentified piece of animal to bolt it down as we marched down the trail?” Gabrielle asked in a teasing note to remove any of the sting from her words. “As a matter of fact when is the last time we’ve actually abandoned our forced march early enough to set up a decent camp. Is it any wonder they finally fled screaming this morning?”
“Don’t exaggerate Gabrielle, they were not screaming,” Xena said with almost a pout.
“They should have been,” Gabrielle replied, smiling at the warrior’s face.
“You know what would have happened if the Roman’s discovered that we had survived a crucifixion, by all the Gods, and they managed to get their hands on us again?”
“I doubt they’d have volunteered to host the celebratory feast for us,” Gabrielle quipped.
“Oh they’d have hosted a feast all right, with our heads on the main course platter!” Xena retorted.
“All right I do understand that. We’ve kind of gotten off topic though.” Gabrielle shifted, pulling her cloak a bit tighter about her. “Did you see Joxer sprint away after they told us they had another path that they wanted to take back to Greece? Amarice had to run to keep up.”
A not quite so grumpy looking Xena poked the fire with a long branch as the flames glinted off her dark hair. “Maybe they had someplace to be?”
“Since when has Amarice ever followed after Joxer?” Gabrielle replied. The Bard could swear the warrior was now smirking. Good. She needs to let go of some of the weight… the guilt! “Face it, you hardly spoke to them at all warrior, and when you did your tongue was as sharp and deadly as the sword on your back.”
Xena actually laughed at her apropos metaphor. “Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for everything they did. I hope I didn’t make them think anything less,” she said somewhat pensively. She grew a bit wistful looking at the short haired, blond nymph bundled up beside her, unaware of her allure, making it all that much harder for Xena to resist. “Do you realize that we haven’t spent a moment alone in months?”
“Of course I do,” Gabrielle responded emphatically.
“I was longing for things to be just as they are tonight,” Xena said.
“Like tonight? What, warm?” Gabrielle asked innocently.
“No!” Xena looked over at the Bard with disbelief until she saw the sparkle in her eye.
“How about dry then. With a full belly?” Gabrielle continued as she moved a bit closer to the warrior.
“You are an impossible woman,” Xena stated, smiling at the Bard.
Gabrielle slapped a hand to her forehead and rifled fingers through her unruly bangs. “I’m impossible?”
That was all too much for Xena, who gave in to her impulses and slid her hand under the Bard’s to sift through the short silky strands herself.
Gabrielle moved her hand down to grasp her companion’s strong forearm as Xena’s hand moved down to caress the Bard’s face.
Xena spoke then, obviously reciting something from memory.
“So many years ago you said
Something that sounded like
And everybody thinks that you are dead,
So I, as I grow stiff and cold
To this and that say Good-bye too;
And everybody sees that I am old
And one fine morning in a sunny
Two lovers will meet and kiss and swear
That nobody can love their way again.
While over there
You will have smiled, I shall have tossed your hair.”
The Bard slid the beloved sword, hardened hand to her lips, giving it a warm lingering kiss and whispering into the palm. “Where did that come from my closet poet?”
“Something I heard somewhere once, that made me think of you,” Xena said, the emotions showing on her face as she looked down into the Bard’s eyes.
“Ooo, that’s Delphian,” Gabrielle replied.
“Look what you do to me Bard.” Xena clasped Gabrielle’s hand between both palms and held it next to her racing heart. “How’s that for clarity?”
The blond woman leaned in and pressed her warm lips to her companion’s. They shared several soft kisses that escalated until Xena’s tongue implored entry and Gabrielle acquiesced.
It was the Bard who pulled away moments before they lost themselves in each other. Gabrielle could still feel where Xena’s fingers had trailed down her face and all she wanted to do was reaffirm their connection in the most visceral of ways. “I’m sorry…” the Bard said, hugging her close.
“I know,” Xena sighed, as she pulled away. “Not on the road.” She turned her considerable attention to the indifferent fire. She curbed her more prurient desires while she mentally listed off the reasons why they had long ago agreed that it was simply not safe to become so distracted. She loved Gabrielle more than life itself, of that there was no doubt, and the two of them shared a connection that transcended their corporeal existence. Yet her physical desire for Gabrielle had been re-ignited stronger than ever this day, and it took all of Xena’s interminable will to resist. That the warrior couldn’t sense a soul near the campsite and certainly would if any dared to come close was of little consequence. She had to respect the rules they had established as well as her companion. Not like the old conqueror days, she thought ruefully.
After several deep breaths, Xena still tingling where their bodies had touched, felt that at least this night, she could refrain from ravishing the Bard. The dark haired woman tossed a few more chunks of wood on the fire and both pairs of eyes followed the funnel of sparks that disappeared into the stars.
“Look up there Xena,” Gabrielle pointed at a constellation. “That’s Lyra.”
“I see it,” Xena replied, following her finger.
“That’s the musician, Arion’s, lyre,” Gabrielle started, lapsing into full bardic mode easily.
Xena looked back at the Bard, smiling, expectantly.
“Have I ever told you how Delphinus rescued the musician, Arion when he had jumped into the sea to escape murderous sailors intent on robbing him of the prize money he had won with Lyra?” she asked.
The dark haired warrior shook her head no.
Gabrielle paused dramatically and then began her tale.
“Are your feet warm now?” Xena asked solicitously.
“Good.” The warm tone was emphasized with a squeeze from Xena’s arm that pulled the blond a bit closer.
“I like heated stones,” Gabrielle responded.
I know you do.” The warrior began to drift.
“I was almost asleep,” came the grumpy reply.
“I’m glad you scared off Joxer and Amarice,” Gabrielle mumbled into Xena’s shoulder.
“I did NOT scare them off.”
Gabrielle thought of their two friends at a camp someplace in the dark, without Xena or herself to guide them. “Do you think they’re OK?”
“Gabrielle don’t you dare start worrying about them now. You need to sleep. I’m sure they’re just fine,” Xena said exasperatedly.
“I love you.”
“I know that too.”