A Gift of the Heart
The story is mine and written by my demanding Muse for your entertainment, but the characters from Xena:Warrior Princess belong to MCA/Universal.
"Gabrielle, I told you that you got me fair and square, now give it a rest!", Xena said with a scowl and a wince. She felt the throb on the bridge of her nose get worse. She rubbed it, and tried to clamp down on the irritation she felt for her friend. Gabrielle was like a dog with a bone sometimes, and she wouldnt let it go. She really had a complex about this subject.
"Admit it. You did feel sorry for me, and thats the only reason I pegged you."
"Gabrielle, the reason you connected was because...", she turned away, and Gabrielle spun her around.
"Don't you leave me hanging like that! Finish it.", she ordered.
Xena managed to look both uncomfortable and angry at the same time. "Because I was so entranced with stargazing with you, that I let down all my defenses. I allowed myself to relax, and it wont be repeated. Last night was a lesson in paying attention, and a painful one at that.", she said with finality.
Gabrielle felt her resentments fall away, and have them replaced with sorrow. Why did Xena feel this way all the time? That enjoyment was actually a weakness? The bard put that question on her mental list for questions without any hope for answers. It was quite a long list, and one she had formed in the back of her mind long ago. Questions that she knew instinctively that were off limits with Xena.
Gabrielle forced a light tone into her voice.
"So I guess this means Ill never pop you in the nose again?", she challenged.
"Thats right. Never again. So dont even think about it.", she said with a crooked grin.
"Would I do something like that?--No, dont bother answering. Ill just think of something else.", she said mysteriously as she turned away.
*Now why dont I like the sound of that?*, thought Xena.
Gabrielle spotted the store she needed, and told Xena she had something to do, and that shed meet her later. Xena lifted an eyebrow, but said nothing, entering the tavern alone.
The bard headed for the shop, and went inside. She looked around, looking for something special. The storekeeper approached her, and asked if she needed help.
"No, I know what I want, but it has to be just right. If I find it, Ill let you know. Thank you."
"But what is it? Maybe I can help.",
"That.", she said as she spotted it. She lifted the item with pleasure, and told him she would take it. He wrapped it in a piece of cloth at her request, and she left the shop in an ecstatic mood.
Gabrielle joined her friend at the table, smiling widely. Xena looked up, puzzled by the flushed face and sparkling eyes. She was very pleased about something. She held one arm behind her.
"What's going on, Gabrielle?"
"Well, I found something for you, but I want something in return."
"Uh huh. This is a conditional gift. I know real gifts don't have strings attached, but this one does. I want you to promise me something."
"I'm afraid to ask--but what?"
"That you allow yourself to enjoy it.", she said simply, and placed the cloth wrapped bundle in her friends hands. Xena looked at Gabrielle, her expression unreadable. She placed it on the table and unfolded the cloth. Inside she found a whip, much like the one Gabrielle had traded away. She picked it up and ran her hands over the soft braided leather, admiring the craftsmanship. It was a gift she would have never expected from the peace-loving bard. It spoke of understanding, acceptance and love.
Xena stood and walked up to her friend, and in spite of the crowd of people around them, gave her friend a hug.
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