A Memory Misconstrued
Warning! These characters (and sadly, the actors who portray them) do not belong to me. They are the sole property of Universal/MCA. This story contains subject matter which those under 18 (or those with little tolerance) have no business reading. This story may contain themes which some would term "alternative" in nature. Beware reader! Beware!
Gabrielle pommelled one of the remaining attackers with her staff, sending him through the air several yards backwards, to land unconscious in a crumpled heap. She turned to face the final one.
Joxer, meanwhile was barely holding his own. He held out his sword while the mercenary before him struck it over and over with a spiked mace, toying with him like a cat with a mouse.
"Who taught ya to fight, mate?" the attacker cackled. "Your grandmother?"
Joxer scowled at the insult, and the warrior took that opportunity to kick him squarely in the chest. Joxer dropped like a lead weight to the ground, and there, saw the abandoned shield of one of Xena's defeated assailants.
Xena catapulted herself through the air, doing not two but three full somersaults before landing behind Joxer's opponent. Without saying a word, she merely tapped the large man on the shoulder. As he spun around, she connected with a powerful kick to the face.
It took the attacker a moment to fully lose consciousness, and in that instant, Joxer arose, lifting the shield over his head. At the exact moment Joxer swung the shield with all his might, the attacker dropped to the ground, and the armament came down strong and hard on the top of Xena's head, making a sharp gong-like sound.
It was nearly a full minute before Joxer realized the ramifications of what he had just done. He braced for the repercussions, but the warrior princess just lay unmoving at his feet, eyes closed.
"Joxer, by the gods, what have you done?!" Gabrielle screamed as she turned, her last foe hobbling lamely into the woods, clutching his leg (which was very likely fractured). She dropped to check Xena for a pulse.
"I she wasn't " he stammered nervously.
She glared at him with an intensity that could make most men sterile from the sheer vitriol of it. "You *hit* her?!"
"I was aiming for the guy," he explained defensively. "It was an accident."
"Well, I think she's just knocked out," the bard said after her quick inspection of the warrior's motionless body. "Help me get her back to camp."
Joxer quickly did as Gabrielle instructed. The two of them each draped one of Xena's arms over one of their shoulders, and carried her the hundred or so yards back to their camp from the previous evening (where bandits had so rudely awoken them).
"Set her here," the bard said. She looked around for a container, and found the pot that held the previous evening's meal. "Take this to the river and fill it with water."
Joxer took the iron pot and scurried away.
"Xena," Gabrielle said softly. "Wake up, Xena." She touched the warrior's face gently, and brushed the dark hair from Xena's eyes.
There was no response.
She scowled. "Joxer, I swear to the gods, when Xena wakes, this time I am not stopping her from tearing your heart through your ribcage," she mumbled angrily.
"Here it is!" Joxer called as he returned, the water spilling from the pot as he ran with it.
Gabrielle sighed in frustration. "Just put it down here," she barked in exasperation.
He did so, wanting to do whatever the bard told him, in case she was still angry.
"What were you thinking?!" she snapped, as she dunked a piece of cloth into the cool water and applied it to Xena's forehead and face.
"Gabrielle, I'm sorry. I didn't know Xena was standing there," he insisted, dropping to his knees so he could look her in the face.
"You mean standing there, saving *you*, don't you?" She looked up to see the remorse on his face and her heart softened. "I'm sorry. I'm just a little worried. Xena's not an easy person to take down."
"What should we do?" Joxer asked with profound concern.
Gabrielle sighed deeply and collected her thoughts. "You are going to go and look for an herb for me, and I am going to stay here and clean her up, in case she wakes."
He squinted as though her instructions were not clear to him. "An herb? To lessen the pain?"
"No. When the herb is ground up, it is extremely pungent," she explained, rinsing out the damp cloth. "While you look for it, perhaps Xena will come to on her own."
"I'll bet if you dumped that water-"
"Joxer!" the bard interrupted in frustration. "Go!"
He did so.
"I'm so glad you missed that," Gabrielle said softly as she stroked Xena's face. "You're going to be just fine, Xena."
Never once did her face or her words show the fear she felt.
Xena's eyes blinked open slowly. As the bright light assailed her brain, it obliterated the horrid smell under her nose. As shapes came into focus, the warrior could make out a young, attractive blonde woman in front of her, and a rather odd-looking fellow with a large nose and armor that looked as though it had been made out of old kitchen utensils.
"Where am I?" she asked, her head pounding. She tried to sit up.
"We haven't left camp," the blonde said, looking a bit concerned. "Are you all right?"
Xena stopped and scowled. "Who are you people?"
Gabrielle laughed. "What?"
"Do I know you?" the warrior asked again.
"You don't know me?" the bard questioned more seriously this time.
Xena squinted at them both. "Well, you look a little familiar," she told Gabrielle. "But I've never seen him before in my life," she decreed as she stood and brushed herself off.
"I'm Joxer!" he asserted indignantly. "You've known me for years!"
Xena looked him over from top to bottom. "Nope."
"Do you know *your* name?" Gabrielle asked as she too stood.
Xena frowned. "Tina?"
"Close," the bard encouraged. "It's Xena."
"Xena," she said in thought. "Yeah, that sounds right. Who are you?"
"I'm Gabrielle. This is Joxer."
"Who are you two to me?" she asked suspiciously.
"We travel with you," Joxer volunteered. "We all fight injustice and evil."
Xena smirked. "Yeah. Right."
"Really!" he insisted.
Xena leaned into Gabrielle. "What's wrong with this guy?" she mumbled to the bard.
"Too many things to go into now," Gabrielle muttered back.
Xena twirled her index finger in a circular motion by her temple. "He's a loon."
"Xena," the bard began. "What he said *is* true."
Gabrielle put her hand on the small of Xena's back. "Maybe you should sit down."
"Because you have lost your memory, and I'm concerned about you," the blonde replied.
Xena sat. "You seem very nice," she remarked.
"Thank you," Gabrielle found herself saying.
"I know!" Joxer said in exhilaration. "I'll do what I did for Gabby when she gave her memories to Mnemosyne!"
"Tell her lies to take advantage of her?" Gabrielle queried sarcastically.
"No. Not that part," he explained. "We could read her your scrolls. Then she'll remember!"
"Hmm," the bard muttered in thought. "That might be a little overwhelming."
"What do you mean?" he questioned in puzzlement.
"I read a story about this once," the blonde illustrated. "A man lost his memory after a horrible tragedy. To cure him, they took him to his family. Eventually, the familiarity of everything brought his memory back."
"That's a good idea," Xena said. "Take me home."
"You don't have a home," Joxer tried to explain.
"What do you mean I don't have a home?"
"You wander around with Gabrielle and me."
The warrior's eyes got big. "You mean I don't live *anywhere*?!"
"We'll take her back to Amphipolis," Gabrielle instructed, attempting to quell the nervousness in the air. "She'll see where she grew up, talk to her mother I'm sure it will all start to come back to her then."
Won't it? The bard wondered.
"And that's how we all met!" Joxer concluded exuberantly, as the three walked down the road, Gabrielle leading Argo by the reins.
Xena scowled. "Are you for real?"
"Well, I think so," he answered unsurely. "Um, yes."
"You were trying to kill what's-her-name, here--"
"Gabrielle," he said helpfully.
"And now, you're her friend?" Xena asked skeptically.
"Well, I know that seems hard to believe," he began self-consciously.
The warrior scoffed. "Yeah, I think so. I'd have cut your head off."
"I'm going to take Argo to that stream for a drink," Gabrielle interrupted. "You two thirsty?"
They both shook their heads, but Joxer fingered his throat as though he were considering Xena's last words carefully.
"So, where do I go for fun?" she suddenly asked, arching an eyebrow.
"What do you mean?"
"You know," she explained, attempting to make him understand without having to say the words. "You said I'm not married. I must get some companionship." She stopped and looked Joxer up and down. "It can't be you."
"Companionship?" he asked, misunderstanding. "You get that from Gabrielle."
Her eyes grew wide. "I do?"
"Sure," he asserted with a smile. "You two are partners."
He fumbled for the right words to explain his friends' very unique bond. "You two love each other you know what I mean?"
"Love each other?"
"Oh yeah. More than anyone else. You do *everything* together. You guys are like that."
Now it all seemed to fit into place for Xena. She and that blonde were lovers! She was truly astonished at the thought!
Of course, now that she stopped and considered the notion, it made sense of some of the loose ends.
That was why, even though she couldn't recall anything else, the one thing that seemed familiar to her was the blonde. That was why the blonde seemed so protective of her. That was why the way this Joxer guy looked at the blonde seemed to irritate Xena so much because she was jealous!
It was odd, because Xena didn't feel like a woman who had spent her life bedding other women, but perhaps she had been just that. She did not find the prospect distasteful to her at all, and she interpreted that as confirmation of Joxer's words.
Xena scrutinized the bard as she walked back toward them. She certainly was a fine specimen, Xena conceded. At least she had very good taste.
"Ready?" Gabrielle asked with a smile.
Xena's gaze traveled all over the bard's face, and she smiled back. "I think I am," she responded with a mixture of suggestiveness and trepidation.
Gabrielle did not understand her friend's words, but right now, that was not her biggest problem, so she nodded and they pressed onward.
They had not gone much further when, while Joxer was continuing his ramblings, Xena leaned over to Gabrielle and mumbled something to her.
"Does he ever shut up?"
Gabrielle laughed. "Sometimes. He means well, though."
"Can we, you know get rid of him?"
"What do you mean?"
Xena thought for a moment. "I think if his presence were going to jostle my memory, it would have happened by now."
"You do?" the bard asked in amusement.
"Perhaps his company is the thing I'm trying so hard to forget. Maybe he's the cause of my memory loss in the first place."
"If you only knew "
"Hey, you er, Joxer!" Xena called.
He stopped walking. "Yes?"
"Gabs here just had a great idea," she began.
"Gabs?" Gabrielle asked quizzically.
"What's that?" Joxer asked.
"She seems to think that if you were to go and find my sister--"
Gabrielle shook her head rapidly.
"Er, brother--"Xena continued unsurely. Gabrielle nodded and smiled. "That might help my memory."
Joxer looked confused. "Your brother?"
"Toris," Gabrielle elaborated, playing along. "Her older brother. He lives outside of Lyricine."
He scowled at them. "Lyricine isn't anywhere near here."
Xena attempted to put on the charm. "That's why it would be so helpful if you could go get him and bring him to meet us in Amphi amph "
"Amphipolis," Gabrielle assisted.
"Yeah?" he asked unhappily.
"Gabby would really appreciate it, if you did," Xena teased.
"Gabby?" the bard questioned again.
"Well, what do I call you?" she posed.
"Gabrielle," the bard enunciated.
Joxer cleared his throat. "So I should go now?"
"Soar like the wind, my friend," Xena recited, much too dramatically.
He chuckled. "Okay then. I'll see you both in Amphipolis." He stopped and turned back for a second. "Toris, right?"
"Right," Gabrielle called after him.
They watched as he walked back the way they had come, leaving them in the road with Argo.
"Do I really have a brother named Toris?"
"You do but he doesn't live in Lyricine."
"Let's ride," Xena suggested, feeling that Argo was somehow a very important part of her.
"You get on first," Gabrielle explained. "I ride behind you."
Xena smiled seductively. "Sounds good to me."
They mounted the horse and continued their progress.
"So, do I like that Joxer guy?" Xena asked.
"Well, I think so."
"In what way?"
"Well, not romantically, if that's what you mean," Gabrielle explained.
"I would hope not," Xena chastised. What kind of relationship did they have anyway? "You know he has feelings for you."
"He told you that?"
"He didn't need to. I could tell by how he watched you, how he spoke to you."
Gabrielle laughed and shook her head. "You don't know Joxer."
"I'm simply watching him through objective eyes. Maybe you should try to do the same."
The bard pondered that. "Well, even if what you say is true, he must know that I could never have that kind of relationship with him."
Xena smiled and brushed Gabrielle's hand intimately as it rested firmly around Xena's waist. Of course she couldn't, Xena thought. She loves me. How lucky I am.
Darkness loomed imminent, so the riders stopped and made camp for the night. Gabrielle attempted to remind Xena of some of the basic predatory principles she had taught her, and they seemed to come back to the warrior easily.
That gave Gabrielle more confidence that her plan was working as she intended. It seemed that with just the slightest suggestion of some things, Xena could reach down somewhere and retrieve the information. It was all still in there, it just was taking its time showing itself.
"So I don't have a nickname for you?" Xena asked as she watched Gabrielle add wood to the fire.
"Do you have one for me?"
Xena had been trying for quite some time to somehow turn the conversation around to their relationship. She needed to know exactly how serious it all was, how long it had been going on, if it was a happy one.
She decided to try a different tactic.
"I've been thinking, Gabrielle. I think we should do something really familiar. You know, to spark a memory or two."
Gabrielle's face lit up. "That's a great idea! I know just the thing!"
Xena smiled seductively. "Me too."
The bard jumped to her feet and grabbed her staff. "Come at me!"
The warrior's eyes widened. "Okay, but what's the staff for?"
"To defend myself, silly. Draw your sword and come at me."
Xena's smile faded. "Oh. Okay."
Xena drew her sword from the sheath on her back, and she found the motion felt very natural to her. She eyed the weapon curiously, liking how it rested in her hand.
"Come on," Gabrielle directed.
"What if I hurt you?"
"Ha! I'd like to see you try!" the bard teased as she backed up a step defensively.
Xena thrust her sword forward, and Gabrielle countered the move nicely. The warrior tilted her head in silent admiration before she attacked again-this time with the same result.
The more Xena advanced, the more some second nature seemed to take over her body. It was as though she had an instinct about fighting, she reasoned. But for every move she made, Gabrielle was able to defend herself ably.
"You're good at this," Xena rasped between blows.
"So are you," she answered, spinning her staff to ward off the blow from the side. "Fighting is your thing. It's what you excel at."
"I hope it's not the only thing I excel at," Xena said provocatively.
"Oh no, you have many skills."
The warrior grinned and took a step backward. "Do I?"
Gabrielle laughed. "That's what you keep telling me."
Xena glared at her opponent and put her sword back in it's sheath. She walked over to a large tree, and found a suitable make-shift staff to continue the rest of their sparring.
"Laugh it up, Blondie." She held her staff out in front of her threateningly.
Gabrielle lashed out, and the attack surprised Xena. She ducked and then flipped over the bard's head, to land feet-first behind her. Xena swung her staff downward, and Gabrielle brought hers up to block it just in time before she spun around to face her.
Suddenly, Xena caught a glimpse of something. There, as she and her bard warred playfully while the sun set, she had a vision. She was standing before Gabrielle, who was in the leather clothing of a warrior, and she leaned in to kiss her.
Just as suddenly, the image was gone.
The staffs cracked together loudly, and another vision came. Gabrielle was stretched out on a table, but she was not breathing. Xena was beating on her chest in frustration, begging her not to leave her. And Gabrielle drew breath.
"Ready to give up?" the bard taunted, sweat beading on her face.
Xena flashed to the sight of the two of them dangling by a rope in a well. Gabrielle climbed up Xena's body to escape.
"We're very competitive, aren't we?" Xena asked, breathing hard now.
Gabrielle smiled. "Well, *you* are."
"So you're just humoring me?"
"I just keep your ego in check."
Xena chuckled. "That's very noble."
"Well, I can't help it. I'm just that way."
Xena swung out again, this time in a series of several fast blows. The bard matched every one, and even added in a couple for good measure.
The warrior stepped back, seeing a fleeting image of Gabrielle suspended over a flaming altar. As the flames died away, the bard began to plummet, and Xena leaped to catch her before she hit the ground.
Xena struck out, and the two staffs met. The women were still, their faces only inches apart.
"Did I ever hit you in the face with an eel?"
"Yes!" the bard answered, dropping her staff. "That's great!" She paused for a second. "Of course, it wasn't great at the time "
"That really happened?"
"It sure did. I think I still owe you one for that, actually."
"So these fragments that are coming back to me are really my past?"
"I guess so," Gabrielle said, putting her hand on Xena's shoulder. "What else do you remember?"
Xena closed her eyes. "Amazons?"
"Right! That all really happened too."
The two walked back to the fire, and Gabrielle began to prepare the bedrolls.
Xena found the sexual tension between them unbearable. She was dying to touch Gabrielle, but she had yet to see one inkling of the depth of their relationship. What did she need to do?
In frustration she decided to just ask.
"Are you happy with me?"
Gabrielle looked at Xena curiously. "Yes."
"Do I treat you well?"
The bard grinned. "There have been a few times when you were less than kind," she explained, brushing off her hands and standing. "But I forgave you for all that."
"Sure, I've had my moments too, you know. I'm no prize."
"Sure you are," Xena insisted, more hoarsely than she had intended. "You know, I may not remember much, but I know I love you. I knew that right away."
Gabrielle beamed at her words. "I love you too, Xena."
Xena patted the spot next to her by the fire. "Bring your cute, little fanny over here."
Gabrielle didn't really understand all this fully, but she was certainly curious, so she sat where Xena instructed. "What are you getting at?"
Xena touched the bard's face gently. "Things are slowly coming back to me, but there's so much more I want to remember."
Gabrielle's face flushed at the words, and her eyes were wide and questioning. "Wh- what do you mean?"
"About you and me," the warrior whispered. "I know there's something between us. I keep seeing snippets of it in the back of my mind that are driving me crazy. It's so intense I can barely stand it."
"Can't you feel it, Gabrielle?"
Xena's eyes suddenly narrowed. "You and I *are* lovers aren't we?"
Gabrielle was close to speechless. "Not exactly."
The warrior's hand fell from Gabrielle's face. "Then what exactly are we?"
"I'm not really sure."
"But haven't we kissed?" Xena asked unsurely, afraid her mind was playing more tricks on her.
"And it seems like you and I have bathed each other has that happened too?"
Gabrielle shrugged awkwardly. "From time to time."
"You said you loved me."
"I do," the bard said without hesitation.
Xena shook her head. "Are you sure we're not lovers? Because this doesn't seem right somehow."
Gabrielle smiled. "I think I would have noticed if you and I had been having sex."
"I hope so. Otherwise we've been doing it wrong." Xena sighed deeply .
"Tell me what you're feeling," Gabrielle coaxed, placing her hand on Xena's.
"Xena--" the bard began.
"I was so certain!" Xena blurted out. "I could feel it between us."
"The heat the desire," the warrior explained, looking deeply into Gabrielle's sea-green eyes. "It was unmistakable. Every time you spoke, my heart would flutter. Every time you looked at me, I could barely catch my breath."
Xena considered stopping, but the momentum of her confession prevented that. "Even now, just sitting here near you, has my insides tied up in knots." She traced Gabrielle's jawline lightly with her fingertips. "You are so beautiful so extraordinary. Even without a memory, I couldn't forget how much I love you how much I want you."
"Gods, Xena," Gabrielle whispered, as though unable to speak.
"I have jeopardized our friendship, haven't I?"
"By telling you all this," she continued. "You'll probably never be able to look at me the same ever again." Xena stared sadly at the ground. "I have--"
Xena's thought did not get more fully explained, because at that moment Gabrielle's lips descended on the warrior's with a hunger that caught them both off guard.
Xena was not slow to react. Once she realized that the body against her was that of the woman she loved, she was beyond a point of control or restraint. The kisses became more urgent and probing, and soon Xena was untying the laces of Gabrielle's bodice.
They could not seem to get enough of the taste of each other's lips, and as night began to fall, the two lovers gave themselves over completely to their desires. Xena touched her bard everywhere, savoring the feel of each curve, each muscle. Gabrielle too explored the naked body of her lover with an unrivaled ardor, afraid that somehow this was a temporary result of Xena's memory loss-that when morning came these feelings would be gone again, locked away somewhere.
The lovemaking was as powerful as either of them could ever have imagined. Neither woman was prepared for this glimpse into the soul of the other the sight of the burning longing that dwelled there, restrained and potent.
As night fell over Xena and Gabrielle, their hunger for each other obscured everything around them. The moon slowly rose in the sky as their mouths entwined and moved eagerly over flesh. The stars became visible to all lovers eyes but theirs. Too enraptured were they with the feel of each other's bodies, and too consumed by each other's climaxes to take note of anything else.
When at last, they lay together, winded and satiated, they stared up at the beautiful night sky and held each other.
"Have you felt this way long, do you think?"
The warrior smiled. "I know it."
"So have I," Gabrielle conceded, nervously fiddling with Xena's hair. "But what made you so outspoken today?"
"I guess I forgot not to tell you." Xena paused as she thought on that some more. "Why didn't you ever say anything to me?"
"That I would reject you?"
"Yes. And that I would lose you. You're the most important thing to me, Xena. I don't think I could let you go again."
"Then don't." She sighed. "You're why my memory is returning, Gabrielle."
"What do you mean?"
"You are everything that is familiar to me. You're my life my home."
The two lay together contentedly, the moonlight washing over them like the rays of a new understanding, a new bond that was forged of even stronger metal than what they held before.
Gabrielle could not think of a time that she had ever been happier. There was nothing more now to life that she needed.
Slowly, sleep began to creep over the lovers like a blanket of fog.
Xena's eyes suddenly shot open. "That bastard!" she hissed as she sat up. "He hit me with a shield, didn't he?! I'll kill him!"
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