Into the Light
by: de Bonheur
Disclaimer: The characters of Xena, Gabrielle and Argo belong to MCA/Universal, and are used without intent for commercial profits. Author's copyright does not extend to said characters.
Notice: The author retains all rights automatically attached to the creation of this work and all independently created characters.
Warnings: This is a work of alternative fan fiction and in addition contains depiction of violence. Caveat emptor.
Their quarry had vanished, the brute force of their charge left the two marauders impaled by each other's sword up to the hilt. They remained standing, facing each other. Their life force pooled beneath their feet.
Another shrill cry, leather and muscles lashed from the roof in a somersault whipping a gust of wind. As her foot impacted the ground, she shot forward like an arrow, cutting down another man with her sword.
Swinging around to block another blow, the warrior spared a glance towards the bard who had just downed her three attackers.
Another charged from behind. The sword in his right hand thrust forward, and all Xena could see was the sharp bright lightning of the blade aimed at Gabrielle's back.
Reflexively, the Warrior Princess set loose her chakram at the man, the circular blade sliced through his brain stem.
The body tumbled forward, its large form overwhelming the startled smaller one of the blonde, taking her down, with a loud thud.
Fear and fury unbound, Xena made quick work of the remaining raiders and rushed toward her friend.
Pulling the larger body away with a quick jerk, the warrior staggered half a step backwards.
Green eyes shut tight; pale face under the blazing sun looked deathly pallid.
She bolted up.
A sudden constriction seized her heart as she searched the empty room.
Very slowly, Xena lifted herself from the imprint of events from the day before, and sank back into the pallet.
Static moments later, she hopped up again, this time completely out of bed, hearing footsteps approaching and stopping, and the door soundlessly opening.
Ardent embrace eliciting a slightly bewildered but happy squeal.
Enthralling moments later...
"Good morning," smothered squeak.
"'Morning," still not willing to let go of the precious warmth.
"Have you been up long? How's the arm?"
"No, not long. It's okay."
Nimble fingers probed, checking for themselves. Satisfied, they strayed and flitted over pliant contours. "Hey, what's with all the knots?" Muffled query, with audible concern.
Larger hands captured the smaller wandering ones and wrapped them around her own waist. "Nothing a good work out wouldn't take care of, Gabrielle. I'm fine."
The bard mentally rolled her eyes and gave the warrior an earnest squeeze.
Then, tender palms cupped delicately flushed cheeks, lifting them from their soft haven. "How are you, my bard?"
"Couldn't be better." Yet, she noticed a bit of uncertainty and anxiety clouding otherwise clear blue eyes. "You're not still worrying about yesterday, are you?"
Silence. Furrowing dark brows.
"Really, I'm fine." Gabrielle bounced up and down a little to prove her point.
Then the bard remembered the packages still scattered on the floor, "Oh, I've got a surprise for you!"
"What's all this? Did you buy the whole market?" The warrior teased with a cautious grin and a raised eyebrow, helping her friend pick up the parcels, and setting them on the table.
Unfastening the largest bundle, Gabrielle unfurled a sheet of white fleeced sheep skin and laid it by the fire place.
"Isn't this nice? It was quite a bargain, and since we needed something toasty for the winter..." the bard proceeded, taking the warrior's hand, and grabbing a smaller package.
Settling into plush soft warm pile, Xena smiled appreciatively, "It's perfect."
"And here, I brought you something to eat," unwrapping breakfast pastries which were the warrior's favourite.
"You?" offering them to the bard before she dug in.
"No, thanks. I'm still stuffed. Ilia sat me down at the table as soon as I got downstairs this morning. She insisted that I bring something up to you, so I picked these; she also said to thank you again for saving Mikis yesterday," Gabrielle explained, while fussing over the remaining bundles and packing items into their saddle bags.
*Yesterday...* The warrior was involuntarily transported back to the disturbing episode which invaded her earlier dream...
'Gabrielle!' she had called out in panic, after seeing the pale form of the bard, heedless of what the people gathering around them might think.
Hands holding breakfast still quavered in response as she remembered lifting trembling fingers to touch the bard's throat, seeking the pulse, the palpitation of her own heart erratic, until she felt the steady beating pounded against her flesh...
Perceptive bard caught the slight shaking of dark head as if to clear unpleasant thoughts, "Hey, you okay?" She disregarded the unpacking, moved over to kneel behind the warrior and ran firm hands over strained arms and back.
Xena leaned back, and let herself be engrossed in the present, in what was reality.
"Yeah, I'm fine," she inhaled deeply, and proceeded to finish the pastries, playfully feeding and sharing bits with her bard.
Nevertheless, muscles tensing under Gabrielle's adroit hands betrayed her preoccupation, "C'mon, talk to me."
"It was just too close..." the warrior sighed in surrender.
*Gods, how do I get you to stop worrying about this, Love...?* "But you took care of things, as you always do."
"But I may not always be able to be there..."
"Well... if you're so worried, you'll make sure to always stay close by me!"
"Gabrielle, I'm serious about this. What if one of these day I couldn't..."
"Xena, you do impossible things... I know, I know, 'don't put people on pedestals;' I'm aware that even the gods are fallible, Love. Just as long as we try our best, and our intentions are honourable - That's all anyone can ask of us, that's all we can ask of ourselves."
*Come on, work with me here,* as she watched the subtle march of emotions across the warrior's face. A smile of relief broke out as the blue orbs finally cleared.
And it drew forth a responding upward quiver of lips which transformed into the familiar, endearing crooked grin.
"So, you wanna know what I had planned for us?"
Blue eyes twinkled, catching the excitement, momentarily taking the bard's breath away. Gabrielle hurried on, lest she loses her train of thoughts.
"Well, before I went to the bazaar, I stopped by the stable and checked on Argo, she's groomed and very well taken care of." The bard also gave her four-legged friend a couple of apples as a treat, but she decided her warrior didn't need to know that.
"I also talked to Mikis, and he doesn't mind if I skipped the story-telling tonight. And I told Ilia that we'll be taking dinner downstairs this evening whenever we're ready, rather than having it sent up here. So, my warrior, the day is absolutely our own...
"What do you say we christen our new sleeping rug?" She growled softly and nuzzled her partner's neck tenderly.
Gentle stroking and touches sending sparks of sensual pleasure through the warrior.
"Kiss me, my warrior," slender fingers winding into dark locks, pulling close, "Kiss me and I'll show you how closely by me I'd like you to stay."
She did, and both bodies tingled and buzzed with the heat of the contact.
"I'd like that very much, my bard," radiant blue eyes sparkled with passion, melting, promising ecstacy.
Heads thrown back, turning from side to side. Faces resting on firm bellies. Lips and teeth spreading torrential blazes of wild fire through open plains.
Hands and limbs rubbing against and draping over body parts. Fingers and tongues teasing through secret playgrounds known only by the other. Senses savouring distinctive then mingling essences.
Eyelids squeezed tight only to flutter open again to hold onto each other. Sweet mouths opened, gasping for air, moaning love-words and Love's name with ardour and bliss.
Sometimes it was slow and languorous, taking the time to explore and savour every touch, every sensation. Other times it was fiery, passionate, desperate, wanting to consume and engulf as much as needing to be devoured and overwhelmed.
They spent the day playing, discovering and rediscovering the joy and treasure in each other, cherishing and tasting pleasures. Each committing the sensations firmer into her entire being.
Much, much later, without meaning to, they fell asleep.
. . . . . . .
When Gabrielle woke up, the sun had dropped to an oblique angle, and the room was in shadows.
Braced up on her arm, she looked at her warrior still peacefully resting in her embrace, her dark head nestled between soft comforting pillows of her breasts.
She remembered the scene by Zeus' temple earlier in the morning: A priest wielding Hermes' ceremonial wand conducted purification rituals on worshippers who had lost their blood innocence; on skin of a sheep sacrificed to the King of the gods.
The bard knew it would be unrealistic given their lifestyle for Xena to go through the ritual; and most importantly, it would go against who the warrior was. However, it didn't stop Gabrielle from choosing sheep skin over other animal skin for their bedroll (especially since it WAS a very good deal).
Thinking about their own rite got a sweet silly grin plastered all over her face. Her hand, unbridled, began to stroke the soft hair, coaxing the warrior from Morpheus' domain in the most pleasant of ways.
The room was completely darkened by the time they left for the dining area downstairs.
. . . . . . .
Mikis met them enthusiastically and led them to an empty table.
The innkeeper could not have been more thankful to his two saviours. Situated on the outskirts of the village, his inn was the first target of pillage for the raiders. Tried as he might to protect his family and defend his property, had the Warrior Princess and the bard not been there at the time, all would have been lost.
Soon after they were seated, Ilia brought their plates, topped with lamb shank, semolina, dried currants and spinach pie. Made to Gabrielle's order, as the warrior fancied them; she did as well.
The bard's mouth watered, her stomach rumbled gratefully. She ignored her partner's amused smirk at the sound, and wondered how much she could eat without making herself sick.
Shortly after the friends began dining, a big man approached their table. He met openly Xena's instantaneously wary gaze.
"You're Xena, right? And you're Gabrielle?"
A responding nod from Xena and a smile from the bard.
"I heard what you did yesterday; thanks for ridding us of the marauders."
The bard handled the brief conversation; and after the exchange of a few pleasantries and well wishes, the man left.
She turned to the warrior and practically beamed. Xena just shrugged uncomfortably.
Dinner continued; and food had never tasted so good.
Then, Xena found herself captivated by the bard. The genuine enthusiasm she seemed to have in all things. The utter enjoyment she allowed herself to experience. Her intensity, her passion in everything.
Desire rippled without warning over and through her as she watched Gabrielle eat.
Ilia came around with refill of wine. The warrior was drinking a dry variety, but she looked across the table into the entrancing green eyes, and heard herself say, with a smile, "Sweet."
She didn't take her gaze off the bard as her mug was being filled. A blush spread over the beautiful face, and Gabrielle looked down.
"Very sweet." Xena whispered, after tasting the wine.
Gabrielle nearly dropped her fork.
"Careful." Her suddenly deep blue eyes warm and her lopsided smile searing.
The fair woman grinned to hide the deepening blush, then took a huge gulp of cider to allay the throbbing of her heart.
Which only caused a pair of dark brows to rise, in a manner Gabrielle thought devastatingly provocative.
Dinner continued. Many delightfully and torturously flirtatious glances and equally numerous heart-warmingly affectionate looks were exchanged throughout.
Few words were spoken; they weren't necessary.
. . . . . . .
Lazy from the great meal, the pair went for an evening stroll towards the countryside.
In the darkness occasionally interrupted by orange glow of torches and candles from far away, the warrior was fascinated. Her attention captured by the outlines of the slim body snuggled beside her own, and how, depending on the light, the boundaries of the two would blur.
Xena felt moisture behind her eyes and blinked.
Somehow sensing the waver, Gabrielle paused and twisted around to face her warrior. Green eyes shown upward and seemed to glow along with the stars.
"You okay?" She quietly inquired.
The warrior nodded feebly.
Then her lips curled in that sensual, taunting smile that never failed to arrest the bard's heart.
"Make it last, Gabrielle," was all she said.
"It will, my Love, it will," Gabrielle whispered, straining up to the taller form, her lips seeking. Bending to meet them, the lovers fell into a dazzling realm of the beautiful.
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