When Love Is Found 9

by Wildbard

Disclaimer: The following characters of Xena Warrior Princess are property of MCA/Universal. It is not meant to infringe on any copyrights whatsoever.

However this story is mine and mine alone. ©

WARNING! Subtext, YES!! There is graphic violence, some strong language as well. If this bothers you please leave. I write stories in ways that I see them. I try to make it as real as possible, NOT for the ratings of television. So if youíre NOT 18 or older, go read some Barney and have a glass of milk with your cookies.

Enjoy. Please let me know what you think. Thanks!

Wildbard@yahoo.com


 

"Youíve been really quiet tonight, are you alright?" The question floated onto death ears. "Luna?" Gabrielle reached out and placed a gentle touch to Lunasí arm which suddenly jerk out from under her. "Hey, hey, hey Luna itís okay." Gabrielle saw the panic look in her eyes. "Hey you alright?"

Luna blinked a few times then rubbed her hands across her face as she came to rest on her elbows. Luna let out an aggravated sigh, "Iím fine. Have a few things on my mind thatís all didnít mean to let it ruin your dinner.":

"Luna you didnít ruin my dinner." Her eyes stayed on the older woman across the table from her whose eyes were anywhere but looking at her. " The chicken it really good, thank you."

Luna looked up finally, making a quirky face, "Well I have to eat too, ya know." That got a chuckle out of Gabrielle. "SoÖ..How is the knee feeling?" Luna placed another piece into her mouth. "Any better?"

"Well it was really sore when I got out, but it doesnít feel as tight as it did a few days ago."

"How about your ribs?"

"Better, itís a lot more tolerable. Just a little annoying now more than anything. But my shoulder still hurts." Gabrielle eyebrows knitted with concern as her eyes moved down to her wound. "Iím a little nervous about it, itís looking better itís just not feeling better."

Luna frowned at this news. "Hmmm, well whatís bothering you about it? Are you still having a lot of pain?"

"Well pain has let up but I just canít lift it any higher than this." Gabrielle proceeds to show Luna by lifting her arm level with her chest, but couldnít go any further. "I simple just canít do it. It feels like I have no strength left."

"Well thatís something differentÖÖ. Iíll need to look up a few things and besides youíve has enough excitement for one day. " Luna raises herself out of her chair and moves behind her cooking area. "Let me make you some tea before I head out to tend to the animals for the evening."

Gabrielle gets up out of her chair slowly using the crutch she was provided she limps to a chair and sets herself down with a grunt, pain tightens in her chest as her healing ribs were tested a little to much. "Oh was that uncomfortable."

"Well donít do that." Luna replies to Gabrielle's comment as she handed her a mug of steaming sweet smelling liquid. "Her ya go, it will help you relax. I remember you said you didnít sleep very well last night, and this should hopefully help you tonight."

"Thanks." Gabrielle takes a sips as her taste buds snap alive. "MMmm. This is wonderful.."

"Glad ya like it, too sweet for me."

"Luna do you have any blank parchment I could have?"

Luna nods her head and moves over to her sleeping area and digs through a leather bound box. "Which quill do you perfer, feather or non?"

"Feather, they last longer." Gabrielle reached out and took the quill and parchment. "Thank you."

"Do you need anything else?" Gabrielle shook her head. "Iíll be back in a few hours."

Luna retrieved her cloak and headed for the main entrance. "Oh if you hear anything noise in the morning itís just Don."

Gabrielle looked confused. "Don?"

"Yeah he has no sense on how to be quiet. Weíll be checking the traps before dawn."

"Alright."

Luna turned on her heels and was gone. Gabrielle sat in her chair, tipped her quill in the well and began catching her life up to date. The crackling of the fire and the scratching of Gabrielle's quill were in constant competition with one another.

Well itís me again. The last few days have been strange being here. Luna has grown very quiet, she about took my head off at dinner tonight. She didnít do it on purpose, I think she was thinking about Xena. Every time she comes up in conversation or in thought she, well she gets angry and I canít totally blame her either. I will admit Iím worried for Xena when she gets here. Gods I hope she gets here soon. I havenít been able to stop thinking of her. I miss her so much it hurts.

I hope sheís alright and hopefully she hasnít gotten into any trouble. I know how angry I became when I thought she was dead. It still hurts to think about that. We never did sit down and really talk about that whole situation, she always changed the subject.

Did she, does she feel the same way? She has been on my mind for the last two days, I canít stop think about her. Please Xena be alright, I need you here with me. Please.

Gabrielle places her quill down as a sob that couldnít be contained any longer emerged, she placed head in her hands and sobbed uncontrollably as her heart ached for her friend.

*************************

The light glistening off the snow was brilliant. The snow covered hills on the horizon were breathe taking. The winter night sky was crisp and clear as all the stars twinkled against their black curtain

Argo moved in a steady and comfortable trot as her hooves kicked up snow along the freshly covered path. Jasmine was a few paces in front of her, her gray muzzle was covered in snow and ice, but it didnít seem to bother her one bit. Xena was relaxed and in a haze as she let her gaze extend over the vast open frozen land before her, the snow has a light blue tint to it as the moon shone brightly across the land. Her memories drifted to a night not long before this entire nightmare began.

"Xena?"

"Hmm?"

"Are we going to stop soon Iím starting to fall asleep back here, and Iím getting cold."

Xena smiled at her friends question. "Well I would if there was anywhere to stop." Xena felt the bard let out a frustrated sigh. Xena brought Argo to a stop, swung her leg over the horses neck and slid off.

"Xena what are you doing?"

"Relax." Xena called out. "Move up into the saddle."

Gabrielle did as she was asked. She grabbed onto the saddle horn and pulled herself up into the saddle then rearranged her cloak so that it wasnít all bunched under her.. "Xena why did.." Gabrielle was cut off at the sudden shock of ice cold hands around her bare waist. "Hey! Hey! Your hands are cold, wait till I get my cloak on will ya?"

That comment got a laugh out of Xena who proceeded to situate herself behind Gabrielle. Xena placed her feet into the stirrups as she leaned forward into Gabrielle's ear and whispered. "Hey, I meant it, relax alright?"

Gabrielle nodded her head and leaned back into Xena. The warrior then began to bundle them up into her cloak trying to use body heat to keep them warm, as Xena kept telling herself that was the real reason. Xena lightly wrapped one arm around the bard and she grabbed onto the reigns with the other nudging Argo into motion.

The feel of Gabrielle next to her, who was completely relaxed at the moment, felt like heaven. Xena became lost in the hypnotic canter of the horse and the warm feeling of the soft body in front of her and Gabrielle's hair smells so wonderful just like fresh lilacs. Xena let her mind wonder as she let herself drift further and further into the feeling that she was experiencing. The tranquility of her day dream was broken by the sound of fighting animals, Xena looked around only to see a few birds fighting over a meal. Little did she realized that some point during her little day dream she dropped Argosí reigns and now both arms were nicely wrapped around her precious cargo.

Xena tilted her head to get a better look at her bard to see she was peacefully sleeping and Gabrielle could stay there as long as she liked. Xena leaned a cheek against her soft sweet smelling hair and slowly drifted off into a light slumber thinking to herself. ĎDid that kiss mean to her as much as it meant to me?í

The question lingered in her mind as the rhythm of Argos hooves help the warrior drift off once again in this wonderful feeling. This must be heaven.

*****************

The barn was noisy as the animals talk loudly through their dinner. Luna made her way from the grain bin with two buckets over flowing with food and headed towards the horses.

Blue was pacing back and forth in his pen nervous about something. Luna looked over to her friend and frowned at the behavior Blue was showing.

"Whatís the matter boy?Ö.Huh, ya smell something?" Luna dumped the last of the grain into the trough then placed both buckets next to it. Luna stood there for long moment her eyes were locked on Blue's whose big brown eyes were concerned. Blue craned his neck out to Lunas face as his soft nosed brushed against hers. Luna responded with a loving scratch behind his ears. "YeahÖ..I knowÖJasmine is close isnít she boy?" Blue snorted and began bouncing his head up and down in agreement with his mistress. Luna walked over to the window and looked at the clear night sky sniffing the crisp night air and knew. Xena was coming.

***********

 

Xena,

Hi. Well if your reading this then you must have reached your mothers. Xena I sent this to let you know that Iím alright. Iím not sure how I did it but I did. I know I should have written this sooner but it wasnít until a few days ago that I started feeling human again.

A woman named Luna found me near the river and she sent someone named Jasmine after you to bring you back here. Luna saved my life Xena and I know the two of you have a past. Xena even when she found out that I knew you, she still continued to help me. Please think the best this time okay?Donít worry I have been taken good care of and if it wasnít because of her I would have died. I was told that Iím near the valley of Sutra and there is a blacksmith named Jimis that will tell you the rest of the way.

Xena I havenít been able to stop thinking about you. I hope your alright, I know Iíve seen better days. Xena please be safe.

I love you,

Gabrielle

 

Gabrielle placed the top back on the ink well, then put the note into a larger one and finished it off with a wax seal that was all her own. Gabrielle put the scroll on the table next to her then curled up into the soft pillows around her letting her eyes fall on the dancing fire . Her palms were sweaty the lump in the back of her throat was back as her stomach was doing flips and her heart was being torn apart. She couldnít stop thinking of Xena. Fear entered her chest as the thought of not knowing where she was began to haunt her. Gabrielle pondered on that thought for a moment as tears threatened to over flow. The thought of being with out Xena entered her mind and that thought was almost over whelming more so then dealing with bringing her body back home.

That same cold feeling settled on her shoulders as she sat there and thought of the lonely nights she spent looking at Xena's sarcophagus. Loneliness, fear, heartbreak was the only emotions that her heart kept fighting with and slowly loosing. Her head felt like it was going to explode and her heart felt as if some one was squeezing it. Gabrielle's entire being was yearning for that one person who could make everything alright, Xena. Did Xena have similar feelings that she did? It was only a moon or so since Xena came back from the dead and things were noticeable different especially at the little tavern the had dinner at one evening.

Normally Xena was all business, but lately she was actually becoming more affectionate. They stopped at this little tavern one night and a group of traveling muse were earning their keep singing for everyone. Mostly Xena would want to eat and leave, but that night she stayed. Gabrielle remembers they moved from their table to let another couple have dinner when they were finished and sat at the bar. She took the stool as Xena stood against the bar wall next to her, drinking her port and watching to show. Xena was even sang a few verses to an old warrior hymn the muses sang at the request of another. Gabrielle felt Xena's breath on her ears as the warrior softly sang to her private audience.

Gabrielle couldnít remember when they had that much fun. As the night wore on Xena had moved next to and at one point placed an arm around her shoulder, the contact was wonderful, words couldnít express the feelings that were jumping around her heart. Xena stayed at her side all night, occasionally making little circular patterns with her fingers against the small of her back. Xena's touch was so soft and gentle it was making her a mushy inside, not to mention the fire burning between her thighs. Gabrielle didnít want the night to end, but the muses finally grew tired and the tavern began to clear out. Xena held out her hand to help her off her chair then placed a gentle hand on her back as they headed back to their room. Xena opened the door for her that led down a sort hall to their room.

"After you." Xena spoke with a soft smile.

"Thank you." Gabrielle smiled back as their eyes caught one another. "Thank you for staying tonight I had a really nice time." Gabrielle placed a gentle tough to Xena arm then continued down the hallway.

Xena followed suit. "No thanks need Gabrielle. I had a nice time just being with you." Xena thought her eyes were gonna bug out of her head after realizing what she just said.

Gabrielle turn just before the door at the surprised response out of her friend. " You did?" Her heart was pounding so hard she thought for sure that Xena would hear it.

Xena moved in a little closer as she became lost in those green emeralds that have always had an hypnotic spell over her. Xena was dangerously close, so close that the heat emitting from them could now be felt. "Ya, I really did." Xena answered in a low whisper as she leaned in to capture those soft lips but were interrupted by running footsteps, as Xena paused inches from Gabrielle's lips

"Xena." The man stopped in midrun when her realized what he had just interrupted. "Gee Xena Iím ÖIímÖsorry."

"Itís alright." Xena looked from Gabrielle to the bar keep. "So whereís the fire?" Xena asked in a calm collected voice as she began to lightly rub Gabrielle's arms. "Hmmm?"

"OhÖUm thereís this guy at the bar that keeps asking for ya, said he has some information on who has been stealing cattle from the King."

"Alright Iíll be right there."

The bar keep nodded, turned and headed back from where he came from. Xena was face to face with Gabrielle once again. "I promise Iíll try not to be to long okay?"

"Alright." Gabrielle whispered as she pushed some stray stands back behind Xena's ear. "Go..Gwan." Gabrielle just grinned little a little kid.

Xena couldnít take her eyes of her she just didnít want this moment to end as the gentle touch made her very warm inside, but she couldnít let an old friend down and Gabrielle knew it. Xena leaned in kissed her and on the cheek. "Iíll be right back."

 

"Gabrielle are you okay?"

The voice didnít register at first until she looked up and saw Luna standing at the edge of her pallet. Gabrielle took in a deep breathe and let it out.

"Iím sorry, I was just thinking about some things." The silence was unnerving. "Did you finish what you needed to do?"

"Yes." Luna turned and walked over to the fire and added a few more logs to it. "Itís cold out but it makes it for a nice evening sky, so hopefully Iíll get lucky and my traps will be full in the morning."

"What are you trapping?"

"Anything that will fetch a price with the fur dealer in town, mostly fox and rabbit." Luna started to make another pot of tea when she noticed Gabrielle was starting to nod off. "Tired?"

"Yes, I guess that little dance in the spring really wore me out." Gabrielle covered her mouth as she yawned her eyes watered and he body became very heavy. "What did you put in that tea?"

"Something for the pain as well as to help you sleep." Luna saw slight concern on Gabrielle face. "Donít worry it was just enough to give you a good nights rest. Youíve earned it today." Luna walked over to her pallet and snuffed out her candle as her eyes fell onto a sealed scroll.

"Would you like me to send this out when I go to town?"

"Itís for.."

"I know who itís for." Luna answered with annoyance in her voice then lettting her gaze fall on Gabrielle's eyes which were glazed over with exhaustion. Luna flipped her wrist with scroll in hand looking for an answer.

"Thank you."

Gabrielle didnít have the strength to hold open her eyes any longer. Luna watched over her for a moment letting the days events swim around in her mind. What was she going to do when Xena did indeed arrive, because she knew Xena would. What did this girl hold over Xena? Did she cast some spell over her? What? Luna bent forward and pulled the blanket up over the girls arms making sure she was warm. ĎIím must be crazy.í

Whimpering caught her ear. "What?" She asked as the large dog pawed at his owner in urgency. "No itís okayÖsheís just sleepin." Luna pats the dog on the head for reassurance then retreats to her bed side desk. The older woman lit a few more candles so that she can have a better look into a book she pulled from a bottom drawer. The fire crackled in the back ground as she continued to read page after page in her healers book to see if she could find something to help out Gabrielle's shoulder. So far there was nothing.

*******************

Hours have gone by but Xena wasnít sure how many. Argo was in a slow walk and Jasmine figured out some way to lay just behind her and Argo didnít seem to mind. The cold was beginning to settle to her bones as she thought a nice warm fire would be good right about now, but shelter was limited. Some caves were big enough for her and Jasmine, but not enough room for Argo and that wouldnít do so Xena kept moving. Water falling caught her ear causing her to pull Argo to a stop to try and pinpoint itís direction. ĎCould it be?í

"Roo!" Jasmines sudden outburst made Xena almost jump out of her skin. In a blink of an eyes Jasmine leapt off Argos back and began running around in circles howling into the night sky.

Xena sat there staring at the wolf in disbelief at to where her journey had led her. Xena kneed Argo forward and followed Jasmine until the rushing sound of water was almost deafening. The moon light up the entire clearing in the forest where the mighty abyss rested. Xena dismounted from the war horse and walked over to the edge looking down into itís belly only to see Gabrielle falling into itís depths. A chill ran though her body as she could hear Gabrielle screaming as she fell to her death, or thatís what she thought until now. Tears began to roll over weather beaten cheeks reddened from the cold night of traveling as she thought back to that horrid day. Xena steadied herself against the tree as the emotions were almost to much to handle. For a brief moment Xena actually thought she was going to pass out.

"Rooooo! Roo!"

Jasmines insistent barking brought her back to her mission at hand. Xena could hear Jasmine but didnít see her until falling snow caught her attention. Xena looked up to see Jasmine sitting at the edge of another road. Jasmines tale was wagging with such excitement. Xena looked over in the direction of a lower slope hoping Argo could make it up the steep hill in all this snow and ice. Xenas boots made crunching sounds in the snow breaking up the intent sounds coming from the abyss behind her.

"Well girl?" Xena's voice was soft as she gentle stroked the animals neck. "Do ya think you can do it?" Argo looked around then nuzzled her hair. "Okay letís give it a try." Xena thought in the back of her mind that they made it up this hill for the simple reason it would cut hours off their travel time.

Xena pulled herself up into the saddle. Placing her feet in their desired position and using her knees she urged Argo forward. The war horse snorted and began her assault on the small snow covered hill. Xena tightened her knees and leaned forward in the saddle as Argo aggressively charged full gallop at the upcoming hill. Breathes were labored by both horse and rider as each began their fight up that hill.

Argo was pushing with all the strength her legs would give her but the hill was becoming more of a fight than she thought. Xena was also fighting to keep herself in the saddle as Argo clawed and slipped her way up to the top. Xena was having a difficult time holding on due to the cold weather her hands didnít want to work correctly in the cold so her legs were taking the brunt of the punishment and were paying for it. She needed something to visually focus on. Xena began quickly looking around when her eyes came to rest on a gold tipped hawk perched on a rock near the goals edge. Steel blue eyes lock onto their target letting the mind relax on one thought, the bird. Xena focused on the great beast with his chest all pushed out symbolizing itís kill.

He was majestic looking with his dark brown beak that matched his coat his tail feathers were tipped with white and the plume on top this master of the sky was a rich golden color. Some people even say that their plumes are really made of gold thanks to the gods. Xena always did think that story was nonsense just something to tell children at bed time.

Xena could feel the sweat soaking into her shift as she continued to fight to hold on. The pain in her fingers was becoming almost unbearable, the harder she squeezed to hold onto the reigns the more pain she inflicted on herself. The muscles in her legs were starting to shake as they were coming to the point of exhaustion. If Argo didnít make it to the top soon she was going to be heading back down in a very painful way, possible even death.

Xena wasnít going to be able to hold on any longer until she caught the hawks watching her. Deep red eyes were so intense Xena couldnít take her eyes off them. Suddenly a calm washed over her she felt as if she was floating on air. There was no pain, no anger, no heartbreak just a calm cool feeling over came her being. Xena focused on that feeling as she continued to keep eye contact. Moments passed, then suddenly this majestic bird spread his wings and called out as he took to the air snapping Xena's senses back to ground zero. Xena looked around to see that Argo had indeed made it to the top.

Xena let out the breathe she was holding as she tilted he head up to the stars letting her aching arms fall lifelessly to her sides. The burning sensation in her legs were beginning calmed down to the point of tolerable as for her shoulders and back, now thatís a whole new battle field.

"Good job Argo." Xena whispered leaning forward hugging the animals neck. "Thank you girl, thank you." Xena continued to stroke her friends mane when Jasmine began to whimper for them to continue on. "Go on girl follow her, Iím just gonna stay her a moment, K?"

Argo continued after Jasmine down a tree cover path while Xena laid limp around her neck recovering from her exhausting battle. Xena was warming up from the heat coming from Argo. Her head was starting to pound as the aches and pains slowly disappeared into to stiff joints. Slowly she sat herself upright in the saddle pulling her cloak over her legs to keep them warm. The sounds of rushing water were becoming silent with ever new step they took closer to Gabrielle. Xena looked towards the heavens as the beginnings to a new day were taking itís hold onto the night sky. Knowing that day break was close at hand Xena needed to look for a place to sleep for a while, her body was completely exhausted.

***************

The air in the cave was cool as the scent of a dying fire rose from its finally resting place. Luna padded across to the fire pit dumping the final contents of oil into the fire pit bringing the fire back to life. By the time she retreated to her living space the fire was subtle orange glow, enough to see what she needed to do but not bright enough to wake Gabrielle. Luna sat at the edge of her pallet putting on her boots as Chance watched from Gabrielles bedside. Luna crossed the room with light steps gathered her cloak and cover, placed some bread and cheese into her bag then proceeded to leave when Don walked up behind her.

"Hey."

Luna jumped out of her skin at the unexpected presence. Luna turned to face the terror with death in her eyes. "How many times have I told you never sneak up on me?" She hissed in a whisper.

"Sorry." Don whispered back. "I thought you heard me come in. You normally do." He finished with a grin. "Mind preoccupied?"

"Shut up." Luna answered then gave the boy a playful shove. "Come on weíve gotta go."

"Hey what about Ms. Pretty over there?" Don asked jerking his head in Gabrielle's direction.

"Sheíll be asleep till I get back." Luna continued to the entrance pick up a large bag on the way.

"Howís that?"

"Gave her some good stuff before she went sleep." Luna stopped quickly and turned around as Don almost walked into her.

"Hey what did you stop for."

"Well if you werenít attached to my ass or keeping your eyes where they should be you wouldnít have now would you?" Luna stated with a smile.

"Oh whatever." Don quickly pushed passed his friend, but was stopped short by an arm.

"Let it go Don." Lunas voice has a serious tone to it. "Sheís Xena's property."

"ButÖ

"No." Luna wasnít playing with this situation.

"How the hell can a fire happy witch end up with a beautiful person like Gabrielle." The silence between the two was becoming uncomfortable. "How Cricket?"

Lunas brow creased at the question. "I donít know Don, but maybe you can ask her when she gets here." Luna turned and walked down the entrance hallway leaving Don in his thoughts.

Don looked to his feet then over to the sleeping bard as his brain made to connection of what Luna just said. "When she gets here?" Don's eyes grew as his stomach dropped. "Oh gods."

Then retreating down the hall after Luna as fear followed.

*************

The sky was turning a radiant red as the sun began to wake up and rise above the land. Xena didnít want to stop but she was beginning to nod off in the saddle and Argo was slowing down also.

"ROoooROOROORORO!!!" Jasmine was barking her head off and running around in circles again. The sudden outburst startled Argo jerking Xena into full alert.

"What theÖ" Xena didnít finish her sentence when she looked up to see smoke climbing to the early morning sky. Xena made a clicking sound with her tongue walking Argo to a clearing off the roads path to see a small dwelling protruding from the rock face.

"Roo!!!! BrROOOO!!

"Gabrielle." Xena whispered to the wind. Tears formed as the warrior kicked Argo into a gallop following Jasmine down the winding road. The anticipation was incredible. Her heart was pounding out of control as she continued to get closer to the small farm. Xena could see horses in one pen and sheep in another. A large barn covered on huge section of rock face as a small over hang extend over the cave entrance. Argo rounded a small set of trees that led into the main gates of this orderly dwelling. ĎShe always was nurotic.í

Xena wanted to jump out of her skin the closer she got to Gabrielle. Jasmine stopped as Xena pulled Argo up to one animal pen dismounting then leading her inside. "Iíll be back for ya girl." Xena quickly turned but didnít want to waste anytime unlocking to gate again she simple jumped over it. Xenas breathe was labored as she thought of finally making it to her destiny she though she would have never see again. Her head was spinning as the emotions and adrenaline began surging through her veins.

Jasmine entered the cave entrance and Xena followed suite in a complete haze. Xena walked down the hallway looking at the end catching shadows dancing in the back ground. She could hear and feel her heart as she came closer to end of her journey. Over 2 agonizing months with out her heart, with out her soul, with out her love. And she did love Gabrielle.

Torches flickered as she passed by each one giving the entire situation was almost scary. If Xena was going to be afraid of anything in her life it was walking into that room and finding nothing. That thought made her stop right before the edge of the hallway and main chamber met.

Her skin felt like it was on fire as her heart continued to pound against her chest. Xena placed a shaky hand against the cool rock wall to steady herself trying to bring her emotions under some type of control. Closing her eyes taking in deep slow breathes, "Please what ever god is up there, pleaseÖ" Xena took a step forward into the open chamber, paused for a moment longer. "Please." Xena whispered as she opened her eyes.

Her heart stopped at the vision before her as she quickly placed a hand over her mouth as she was over come by emotion. Tears were over flowing as she slowly took shaky steps closer to the end of this chapter to her nightmare. The warrior stopped at the bottom of the steps looking up at Gabrielle watching her chest rise and fall as she slept. Something tugged at the bottom of her cloak. Looking down to see yellow eyes looking up to her. "Thanks." Jasmine sneezed in return then left the warrior alone as large black dog followed Jasmine away.

Xena walked up the steps, her boots never making a sound as her eyes looked over her friend. Xena saw the bruises on her face and shoulder, her heart pained for Gabrielle as the realization of what she went through was tormenting her heart. Once again the warrior was over come with heartache as her knees gave out on her, Xena collapsed next to Gabrielle's bedside in tears as her mouth opened in a silent scream.

Xena looked over her friend with bloodshot eyes, her heart and mind were screaming at the sight of her injuries. But the torment in her heart stopped when she came to rest on a set of the most beautiful green eyes sheís ever seen. For a long moment the two women regarded one another, not one word was spoken between them. Gabrielle reached out from under her covers placing a soft warm hand against Xenas cheek lightly rubbing away falling tears with her thumb. Xena quickly brought her hand up covering Gabrielle's then brushing back a few strands of the bard hair with the other. They stayed that way for a long moment not wanting to break the bond between them , but sleep was once again over coming the bard. Xena could see Gabrielle was fighting to stay awake.

Xena choked back a sob as she continued to stroke the bards hair, "HeyÖ.sleep nowÖ donít; fight it." She gave Gabrielle a smile as the tear continued to fall. "Iím here now." Blue eyes regarded the young woman before her as sleep slowly took control once more. Xena leaned forward kissing Gabrielle on the forehead watching her breathing deepen into a fitful sleep. Resting on her knees again, Xena leaned against the pallet placing her head on the bards thigh, lightly tracing patterns on her arm watching her sleep. "I love you Gabrielle."

Xena closed her eyes falling into a light slumber unaware of the loving eyes that were now watching her. ĎI love you too, Xena.í

*****************

Note: Chapter 10 will be the conclusionÖ.

 

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