The Gift
By Petra Piperno
Copyright 1999

The main characters in this work of fiction belong to MCA/Universal/Renaissance Pictures; they are merely being borrowed. The story does depict some violence and a loving/sexual relationship between two consenting adult women. If this is illegal where you live, or if the idea bothers you, or you aren't of age, don't read it.

If you would like to send me feedback, here is my email address, but please be gentle as this is my first attempt at Xena fiction.

I have also included commercial breaks for those of us who love to be interrupted in the most dramatic or inopportune moments during this extraordinary television show.

Xena and Gabrielle were making their way with Argo to the next village to pick up some supplies. They still had a good two hours to go when, suddenly, Xena stopped.

"Get ready for a fight, Gabrielle. There are 15 warriors headed for us."

"Fifteen? You can actually tell before you even see them?"

"I have many skills."

"I'm impressed."

Just as Gabrielle readied her staff, over the hill they came. "Wow, she was right," Gabrielle thought to herself. Xena unsheathed her sword and reached for her chakram. The warriors swarmed the two women, with six going after Gabrielle. Swords clashed, fists flew, and the chakram took out two of the warriors that had gone after Xena in the first minutes of the fight. Xena glanced over at Gabrielle, who was holding her own after disabling two of her attackers almost immediately with well placed blows to the knees. The battle continued, but slowly, things began to swing in favor of Xena and Gabrielle.

"This…'grunt'…has not…'ugh'… been easy," muttered Gabrielle under her breath as she matched her last attacker blow for blow. 'Whack!' 'Smack!' 'Thud!' The warrior went down, and was not going to be getting up anytime soon. Gabrielle turned to see how Xena was doing. She was a little ways off, but Gabrielle could see that the last two warriors had their hands full.

Xena back-kicked the warrior behind her as she parried with the man in front of her. He let out a yelp as her foot landed in his chest and he went flying backwards, out of the game. "These guys were good, but not good enough," Xena thought as she went on the offensive against the last man. 'Clash!' 'Clang!' With a kick to the head, he reeled back and then fell to his knees. The warrior princess was on a roll. She moved forward and prepared to skewer him. Xena lowered her shoulder and just as she thrust her sword into his chest, with the last ounce of strength that he had, he yelled, "You are going to Tartarus with me you bitch!" He dug his sword deep into Xena's side and twisted it. As he fell to the ground, his sword came out of Xena's body, followed by a gush of blood. Xena pulled her sword out of him, and fell to one knee, leaning on it.

[Opening credits]
[Commercial break]

Gabrielle came running. "Gods, Xena, he got you! Here, let me help you, it will be alright." She saw the beads of sweat trickling down Xena's forehead and the blood oozing down her side. As she helped her to the ground, she prayed that everything would indeed be alright. Gabrielle ran to her pack and brought water and bandages to the weakening warrior princess. Xena was doing her best to put pressure on the wound, but it was wide and there was blood everywhere.

"Gabrielle, we've got to get…to the next village. I've lost…a lot…of blood," Xena winced with almost every word.

"I'll get Argo in a minute, but I have to do what I can for you here," Gabrielle said as she tried to clean the wound and stop the bleeding. "Stay with me Xena, stay with me."

Somehow, Gabrielle managed to help Xena up onto Argo. With the two of them riding, it would probably take a bit over an hour to make it to Cecillia, and Gabrielle hoped that it would be fast enough. Xena was holding on to Gabrielle's waist, but her strength was failing. She hoped it would be enough.

Gabrielle felt the weight of her friend behind her. Her grip was getting looser and looser, and she knew that they were running out of time. Just as these thoughts crossed Gabrielle's mind, she spied the village in the distance. "Hang on, Xena, we are almost there. Please stay with me," she pleaded.

As they approached the first house, Gabrielle called out, "Can somebody please come out and help me with my friend. She's been hurt and needs a doctor."

A man came outside and noticed the warrior slumped behind a concerned looking young woman. "We don't want people like her in our village."

"But she needs help!"

"Not from us," he said as he turned back into his home.

Frustrated, Gabrielle rode on, looking at the callous faces of the other townspeople who had come out to see what the commotion was all about. No one was willing to help them. As they neared the end of the village, a young boy came running up to them.

"There is a house just around the bend. Go there."

"Thank you, thank you very much." With a renewed sense of hope, Gabrielle urged Argo on.

They rounded the bend and Gabrielle saw a small house with a woman tending to a garden in the front. "Can you please help us. My friend is…" but before she could finish her sentence, Xena slipped off Argo from behind Gabrielle. The woman came running as Gabrielle jumped down beside Xena. She was still alive but unconscious, very pale and her breathing was shallow.

"I have a small hut in the back of the house. It's not much, but it's comfortable and there's a bed. Let's get her in there and then I will bring some medicine." The woman helped Gabrielle get Xena into the hut. As she left, Gabrielle began to gently take off Xena's armor. Her leathers were bloodsoaked near the wound, so Gabrielle was even more gentle removing them. "By the gods, she is beautiful. Why haven't I told her that I love her? Now she may never know." Gabrielle carefully cleaned around the gash in the warrior princess' side as she thought of all the missed opportunities and all the happy times.

The woman returned with more water, clean bandages, and some herbs and ointments. She treated Xena silently as Gabrielle sat, exhausted, but watching closely. "I've done all that I can. She needs to rest now, and so do you. My name is Suriya. I'll bring you some food, but if you need me later, I'll be in the garden."
"Thank you so very much. I am Gabrielle and this is my friend, Xena. Thank you again."

[Commercial break]

The rest of the day passed without incident. Gabrielle sat at Xena's side and held her hand, hoping that Xena would know that she was there, willing her own strength into Xena's body to help in her recovery. But as night fell, Xena's sleep became more fitful. Beads of sweat formed on her brow, yet she was shivering. Gabrielle knew her friend was in the throes of a fever. She ran to the house and brought Suriya back to the hut with more medicine. Suriya gave her something for the fever and urged Gabrielle to eat something. She had noticed that none of the food she had brought had been touched.

Xena was dreaming. She saw her past, her future, her present. She saw battles, and death. She saw M'Lila, Borias, Lao Ma, Marcus, and Gabrielle. She saw them all alive, then all dead. She saw herself as the Destroyer of Nations, she saw all of her enemies, all of the people she had killed, both innocent and not. But of all the things she saw in her dreams, the visions of Gabrielle were the clearest and the most peaceful. "M'Lila…Borias…Lao Ma…Marcus…I loved them all but Gabrielle…I love her like I have never loved anyone before…I must return to her."

All Gabrielle heard was "…Lao Ma……I love her…." Xena had been feverish for two days and these were the first words that were clear. Gabrielle's heart sank as she looked at the woman she loved. She had been tending to the bandages when she heard Xena utter those words. Suriya was applying a cold compress to Xena's forehead as it happened. She glanced over at Gabrielle and immediately knew the impact those words had upon her.

"You know, she is not necessarily making sense," Suriya offered.

"I…I know," Gabrielle suddenly realized that she may have given away too much. She couldn't jeopardize the good will that Suriya had offered them by offending her. "I'm just worried that the fever hasn't broken yet. The longer she stays under, the worse her chances." Gabrielle hoped that this would cover for her reactions.

"Well, yes, that's true. But I think she is actually coming out of it. She is calmer, and her forehead is cool. And, by the way, your feelings for her do not offend me." Suriya left quietly.

Gabrielle thanked the gods for tolerant people. She finished bandaging Xena and looked into her now calm face. As she lightly touched Xena's cheek, she wondered if there was any chance at all of Xena loving her. Just then, Xena's eyes opened.

"Hey, is this another vision or am I finally back?"

"You're back, Xena, and boy am I glad to see you awake. It's been three days."

"Three days?! I guess when I'm out, I'm really out." Xena winced as she tried to sit up. "I see it's a bit soon to start doing backflips. Where are we?"

"We're just outside of Cecillia, at a woman's house, well, in a hut behind her house. She's been tending to you."

"Oh she has, has she? And what have you been up to?"

"Well, we've both been taking care of you, but she's been supplying the medicines. I've been here day and night hoping your fever would break."

"Yeah, I know." The effort of the conversation began to take its toll on Xena. "Thanks, Gabrielle, you're a good friend." She was exhausted from fighting the fever, so she drifted off to a restful sleep.

"A good friend," Gabrielle repeated sadly.

Suriya returned just then. She spoke softly, "I think it will be smooth sailing from here on out. The worst is over. Gabrielle, you should eat and rest."

"How can we ever thank you? The villagers would have let Xena die, they couldn't see beyond her past. You must be taking a risk by having us here."

"I'm not afraid of them. In fact, they are rather more afraid of me. I was a warrior once as well, but my path has brought me here, and I've been a healer for over ten years. They still don't trust me, but I am the only thing resembling a doctor in these parts." This was the most Suriya had said about herself.

"A warrior? Really? You don't seem like someone who would…"

"Who would kill? Oh, I killed alright. And I was ruthless, my goal was to kill more than Xena."

"You knew Xena?" Gabrielle asked incredulously.

"I knew of her, and she knew of me. We even met once. I think to a certain extent, we drove each other. That is the past, however, and, as I'm sure you know, people can change. Luckily, I did, otherwise I would probably be dead right now."

This woman intrigued Gabrielle, but she was finally feeling the effects of the past three days. Suriya could tell it was time to let her rest. "I'll check in with you two in the morning," she said as she left.

[Commercial break]

Xena awoke with the sunrise. She felt much better, although her side was still sore. Gabrielle was asleep on a cot next to her bed. Surveying the room, Xena noted that it was small, but practical. The table in the corner had some food on it, and Xena realized that she was starving. Slowly she raised herself up. It was going better than the last time she tried, but before she could swing her legs over the bed, Gabrielle stirred and then sat bolt upright.

"Hold on a minute. Just what do you think you're doing? Lie back down and I'll get whatever you need." There was going to be no argument with that.

"It occurred to me that I haven't eaten in three days. I didn't want to wake you. I didn't think I would wake you."

"I know I'm a heavy sleeper, but I don't want you to mess up your healing process. I have my priorities," Gabrielle quipped back as she brought over some food.

"So who were those guys, Xena?"

"Oh, if I had my guess, I would say that Ares sent them. Who knows what he offered them, but they won't be collecting."

There was a knock at the door. "That's probably our hostess. Come in," called Gabrielle.

"I've brought some fresh bread and something to…"

"Suriya!" Xena instinctively reached for her sword and realized it was over on the table.


"Xena! This is who has been taking care of us. I don't think it would be a good idea to skewer her."

"Suriya. Is this true? I…I don't know what to say."

"I know it's a shock, Xena, but I have changed. I swear by the gods that I have changed. If you are uncomfortable, I'll leave. If you don't believe me, I'll bring someone from the village to vouch for me. Just tell me what I can do to prove myself to you."

Gabrielle didn't quite know what to do. Suriya almost sounded desperate.

"Xena, she's been a great help. If it weren't for her, you would probably be dead. The villagers didn't want to take us in. She took us in without a word, brought you medicines, and helped treat you. I trust her."

Xena looked into Suriya's eyes and couldn't see anything evil, nothing that indicated that she meant any harm. People could change, and Xena was awfully good at spotting a façade. Besides, the Suriya she had known would have already killed them both. Satisfied that she was for real, Xena let down her guard.

"Well, I suppose an apology is in order. And a thank you," Xena said.

Suriya was relieved. "You're welcome. No need to apologize, though. It must have been quite a shock to see me after all these years. Plus, I've been living a very quiet life, there's no way you could have known."

A week passed without incident. Xena grew stronger by the day and Gabrielle got into the habit of helping Suriya in the garden every morning. One morning as they were working, Gabrielle decided to ask Suriya about what had made her change her ways.

"Are you sure you want to hear this?"

"Only if you are willing to tell me about it. I know Xena doesn't like to talk very much about her past. I think she's trying to protect me. Or maybe she's afraid that my opinion of her will change, but I know who she is now and that's what counts."

"Alright, but I won't leave anything out. If you want me to stop, just tell me." Gabrielle nodded. "I was gathering an army to take over some valley that I wanted. There was a shortage of able bodies, and I heard that Xena and her army were nearby. I decided that it would be easier to take over an existing army than trying to scrounge for enough recruits. There was a small village nearby, and I found out that Xena was going there one evening for a little…umm…recreation. I had some very good spies. Anyway, I was waiting for her at the outskirts of the village. I followed her to a farmhouse and saw a boy, quite handsome, not more than 17 or 18 years old, let her in. It got dark soon after, so I snuck up to the window and peered in." Suriya stopped, looked at Gabrielle, and then looked off into the distance.

Gabrielle was fairly sure she knew what was coming, but this was apparently part of what changed Suriya, and she wanted her to continue. "I think I know what you saw, but please go on, if you want. I know that Xena isn't…innocent."

"Well…although it was Xena and her young lover, what I saw was Xena. That was all I could see. Even in candlelight, I could see that she was magnificent, and I fell in love with her on the spot. I had come to kill her and take her army, and now I was in love with her."

[Commercial break]

That was not exactly what Gabrielle had expected to hear. Suriya fell silent again. "But, Suriya, you said that the two of you had met. She recognized you. Did you try to tell her how you felt, and that's how you met?"

"No. The story isn't quite over yet. As I was watching them, her, I must have made some noise. Xena spotted me in the window and went for her sword. I came crashing through the window with my sword drawn. The young man scrambled for a weapon, but before he managed to take two steps I sent my dagger into his chest. I was angry, jealous, I don't know what I was. Xena was certain I would go for her first and I remember the look of shock on her face seeing the young man in a pool of blood on the floor. I realized what I had done, and I knew I couldn't fight Xena much less kill her, so I jumped back out the window, stole the nearest horse, and disappeared into the night, never to be a warrior again."

"So that's what changed you," Gabrielle said quietly.

"That's it. It's hard to say exactly why, but that was my pivotal event."

"Xena doesn't know about the details?"

"No. All she knows about that night is that I killed her lover, then turned and fled without giving her any chance to avenge his death. At least, not directly. I heard later that she tracked down my men and killed them all, trying to find out where I had gone. But even they didn't know. Anyway, that was all a very long time ago, and we are both very different people now."

Gabrielle wasn't sure if she should ask the question that was burning in her mind, but she had to know. "Are you still in love with her?"

Suriya thought for a moment, searching for the accurate answer. "I think that I have transformed my passion for her into a passion for my work and for life. I am grateful that she was a catalyst in my life. I would not have lived the past ten years caring for others if it had not been for her."

Neither one of them had noticed Xena leaning against the side of the house. She had heard everything from "…and I fell in love with her on the spot…" on. Slowly, she turned and walked back to the hut. Gabrielle and Suriya shared the silence for a while, each thinking about how lives intertwine and the effects that people can have on one another. The morning was nearly gone, and the sun was high in the sky.

"Thank you for telling me your story. I guess I should go and check on Xena, now. Would you like to join us for something to eat?"

"No. I need to go and get a few things in the village. Which reminds me, I'll be gone most of tomorrow. There's a town a couple of hours away where I go to get supplies that I can't get in Cecillia. Gabrielle, thanks for listening. I've never told anyone the events of that night. I'm glad you were willing to hear it."

Gabrielle entered the hut, and saw Xena working on mending her leathers. Xena had been wearing clothes borrowed from Suriya, and the whole image struck Gabrielle as slightly odd. Here was Xena, the warrior princess, in a blouse and skirt, sewing at the table. She smirked just as Xena looked up.

"What are you looking at?" Xena raised an eyebrow.

"You just look so…domestic. It's way out of character, Xena."

"I know, but in a couple of days we'll be on our way and I'm not about to ride out of here naked."
Gabrielle worked that image for all it was worth.

Early the next morning, just before sunrise, Suriya was preparing her horse and cart for the trip. Suddenly, Xena appeared. "Need any help?" she asked.

Suriya turned with a start. "Do you always sneak up on people like that?"

"Not always, but it comes in handy sometimes. Listen, I just wanted to tell you that I overheard what you told Gabrielle yesterday morning. I always wondered about that night, and now I know."

Suriya was quiet for a moment, and then, "I don't know what to say, other than I am sorry."

"Well, we've both done things that we are sorry for. That was the past, and it looks like we are both trying to make up for it. You are a good woman. It's true now, and it will remain true," Xena turned to leave.

"Wait a minute! Xena, I do want to say something. Gabrielle is in love with you."

Xena looked back, "What?"

"Gabrielle is in love with you. Trust me, I can tell. And there were a couple of clues while you were under the fever, but it's unmistakable. She loves you, and she's miserable. You need to do something about it."

Xena's heart skipped a beat. "By the gods, can it be so?" she thought to herself. "I've spent all this time holding myself back because I thought I would scare her away."

"I've been blind, Suriya. Thanks for pointing it out."

"I'll be back by nightfall. The two of you have the whole day to work it out," Suriya smiled as she led her horse to the road.

The sun was just above the horizon when Xena returned to the hut. She looked at Gabrielle as she lay sleeping on her cot. "How beautiful!" But, Xena didn't want to wake her so she went back outside to the garden to collect some fruit for breakfast. When she returned, she found Gabrielle already up and finishing lacing her boots.

"I was just about to go and get some fruit for breakfast. I see you beat me to it."

"I was up, so I figured I would get it, for a change. You've been looking after me all week. It was time I returned the favor."

Gabrielle opened the door and looked outside. "It's a gorgeous morning. Has Suriya left already?"

"Yes, she's gone. She left a little while ago. It is a gorgeous morning."

Gabrielle noted that Xena didn't usually comment on the status of the weather unless it was strategically important. "Are you feeling okay?"

"I feel fine. Why?"

"Oh, no reason." Gabrielle turned to see Xena in bed with the covers up to her waist, but quite without anything else on.

[Commercial break]

Gabrielle was caught off guard, speechless. She was aware of her heart pounding ever more loudly in her chest. "I…I…Xena…you," she stammered.

"Come here," Xena commanded, gently. "Sit."

Gabrielle obediently went and sat down on the bed beside Xena. Now she was also feeling as if her head was about to explode.

"Calm down. I'm not going to hurt you," Xena said as she moved to behind Gabrielle. Reaching around her, Xena slowly began to undo Gabrielle's top. Gabrielle could feel Xena's breasts touching her back. It was almost more than she could stand. As she slipped Gabrielle's top off her shoulders, Xena ran her hands along the warm, soft skin that she had long wanted to feel. Leaning over slightly, she kissed Gabrielle's shoulder and felt the young woman shudder in her arms.

"Do you want me to go on?"

Gabrielle was finally managing to collect herself, "Oh yes."

Xena arched an eyebrow and, grinning, continued running her hands over Gabrielle. Up her arms to her shoulders, down her sides, around her back, to her stomach, along her ribs, kissing her on the neck all the while. Gabrielle shuddered again as Xena cupped her breasts and stroked her already hard nipples. She could feel the heat and wetness between her legs, but Xena was taking her time. Gabrielle turned around so that she could see Xena's beautiful face, her blue eyes flashing. Grabbing the back of her head with one hand, she pulled Xena to her. They kissed passionately.

Xena was also feeling the heat. "Take off your skirt," she said as she took a breath, and Gabrielle quickly complied.

She laid Gabrielle down on the bed and they continued to kiss as Xena ran her hand along Gabrielle's thigh. Xena shuddered as she felt Gabrielle's hands on her breasts. She stopped for a moment to look into Gabrielle's eyes where she saw only love and desire. Xena began to kiss her way down Gabrielle's torso until she arrived at her curly golden locks. As she tasted the woman she loved, she heard Gabrielle moan, "Gods, Xena, release me."

Xena knew that Gabrielle was near the breaking point. She came up, traced the outline of her nipple with her tongue and started sucking on it as she ran her hand along Gabrielle's firm abdomen.

"Xena, please," Gabrielle pleaded.

Finally, Xena placed her hand over Gabrielle's center and began rubbing her wetness. As her fingers worked on Gabrielle's swollen sex, Gabrielle's hips rose and fell rhythmically. "Xena! By the gods!" She was near her climax. Xena watched Gabrielle, whose eyes were now closed, as the moment came. Her back arched and her head went back. "Xena! Oh, Xena!"

[Commercial break]

As she came down, Gabrielle opened her eyes and saw Xena watching her, her eyes deep with desire. She grabbed Xena and pulled her close, and they kissed again with more urgency. "Tell me what you want, teach me," Gabrielle whispered as she took a much needed breath.

Xena rolled onto her back and pulled Gabrielle on top of her. Gabrielle began biting Xena's neck, to which Xena responded with "That's a good start." She felt Gabrielle's thigh between her legs and started grinding against it. Reaching behind her head, Xena grabbed the bedpost as she rubbed Gabrielle's back with her other hand. Seconds later the carved wood broke off in her hand under the strain. With a quick 'Great, I'll have to fix that later' look, she flung it across the room.

Sliding Gabrielle slightly off to her side, Xena guided her lover's hand down to her dark patch.
"Now?" asked Gabrielle. Xena let out a low moan as she felt Gabrielle enter her throbbing wetness.

"Now. Try to match the rhythm of my breathing," Xena managed to say.

Gabrielle marveled at the beauty before her. She watched little beads of sweat form everywhere on Xena's tight body as she worked to bring her to her climax. As Xena's breathing quickened, so did Gabrielle. She saw Xena grip the sheets, "Yes, Gabrielle." Xena's hips rose and she threw her head back as she growled, "Yyyessssss, oh yesssssssss."

A few moments passed as Xena returned to Earth. Gabrielle was lightly tracing all the dips and curves of Xena's now relaxed body. Pulling each other close, Xena kissed Gabrielle's forehead and enveloped her in her arms. The room dissolved and there was only the two of them in the universe.

[Closing credits]

Disclaimer: The viewing audience was harmed during the making of this motion picture due to the fact that deep love and affection between two people of the same gender is considered inappropriate, and this episode never aired.


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