MY CUP OF TEA
Copyright - Xena and Gabrielle are Universal/MCA characters. I don't own them. I just like to play with them. No copyright infringement is intended. This is not to be used for profit.
Subtext and Sex - Yes and yes. If the idea of two women loving each other is not your cup of tea; go get a glass of milk and skip this. If you are under the age of 18 years of age or this type of story is illegal in your state or country, please do not read it.
Violence - Not this time.
Spoilers: This takes place between season four and season five. This story line is completely my own and sadly contains no spoilers.
Dedication: This is for "Shamrock 233". You bring luck to my life everyday. Thank you for your support and understanding.
Thank You: Big hugs to Cindy at ForevaXena, Stacia, Tracey and "B" for beta reading and for your words of encouragement. Thank you to Mary D for the Xippy on Written in My Days. That award encouraged me to write on. Kisses to the ex-Guards for all the wonderful feedback and for giving me a home in your talented community.
"It's only a couple of candlemarks' ride from here," Xena said looking down at the blonde walking next to her. "See that mountain over there?"
"The one that looks like a bear's head?" Gabrielle asked.
"What is it with you and bears? It looks like a mountain, nothing more, nothing less," Xena retorted.
"Come on Xena, be a little creative once in a while. Let your mind's eye see past the obvious and envision what could be." Gabrielle rolled her eyes.
"That's your job. My job is to get us to Rhapsody, and I can tell from that mountain that we're very close," Xena said.
"Why don't you ride with me so we can get there faster?"
"Xena, you know I like my feet on the ground when at all possible," Gabrielle reminded her.
"Head in the clouds. Feet on the ground," was the sarcastic reply.
Gabrielle stopped dead in her tracks, hands on her hips, watching Argo and Xena move on ahead.
Thinking silently to herself, Gabrielle let out a heavy sigh. 'It's a good thing you're so beautiful, warrior. I can't imagine why I put up with you.' Staring in amazement at the tall, strong woman, Gabrielle let her expression warm and a smile came to her lips. 'You've got me tied on a string to your little finger and you don't even know it.'
"Wait up, Xena!" Gabrielle yelled to the advancing woman in front of her.
"Come to your senses finally?" Xena stopped, turning in her saddle to watch the bard approach.
"Yeah, yeah, give a hand up will you?" Gabrielle said reaching her arm up, allowing Xena to lift her effortlessly.
Settling in comfortably behind Xena, Gabrielle tightened her grip around the warrior's waist, partly for security and partly because it felt good.
The building warmth between their bodies was inviting and comfortable. Gabrielle allowed herself to melt into the feeling. Soon, her body and mind drifted off into a dreamy slumber; visions of Xena holding her was the last thing she consciously remembered.
Xena felt the weight on her back shift and settle. Taking advantage of the state Gabrielle was in, Xena reached down, laying her hand and arm on top of the bard's. She squeezed lightly and left it there, intertwining her fingers into the small, soft hand.
Xena knew Gabrielle would love Rhapsody. She'd be in her element and Xena planned on letting her indulge herself as much as she wanted to. With all the artists and musicians around, she was sure Gabrielle would end up telling stories and enjoying the creative energy that flowed through the village. The vision made Xena's heart warm. Seeing Gabrielle enthralled in a good story and watching her smile was worth more to her than any of the healing herbs she'd be gathering.
"Gabrielle . . .Gabrielle," Xena was saying softly.
"Huh," came the sleepy reply from behind.
"We're here," Xena replied.
Lifting her head slowly, Gabrielle gathered her senses. Waking up, she realized that her arm, wrapped securely around Xena's waist, was covered by a strong arm and her fingers were interlaced with the warrior's. This was a new development and Gabrielle sat still enjoying the feeling. Emotion engulfed her, her breathing became shallow, and she could feel her skin begin to burn and her hand tremble.
Xena wondered why Gabrielle was so quiet. Looking down quickly, feeling the heat and movement, she realized her mistake and let go immediately. The silence from her companion worried Xena. She silently hoped she hadn't been caught. With swift skill Xena lowered Gabrielle to the ground.
The stunned bard hit the earth quickly. Her legs were shaky and her face flushed. Gaining her balance, Gabrielle tried to bring her breathing under control.
"You okay, Gabrielle?" Xena asked cautiously.
"Huh . . . a . . . yeah, just got down too quickly is all," Gabrielle replied, looking down at the ground which was curiously rocking back and forth.
"Why don't you take a look around. I'll get a room and check into a stall for Argo." Xena looked at Gabrielle, hoping everything was all right between them.
"Sure, if that's what you want, Xena," Gabrielle finally pulled herself together enough to look up. She saw the worried expression on Xena's face and smiled, hoping to diffuse the tension and embarrassment of the moment.
"Meet me at that tavern over there in a couple of candlemarks and we'll get a bite to eat." Xena said, pointing to the wooden structure across the road.
Gabrielle took a deep breath. "Sounds great, Xena. Now that you mention it, I am a little hungry." Gabrielle continued to smile, looking up at the woman who made her thinking cloudy.
Xena let herself relax as she rode away. Seeing Gabrielle's smile and hearing that she was hungry was enough for Xena to believe that all was well. "Oh . . . that was sooo close, Argo," Xena said, patting the side of the mare's neck. "I'll have to be more careful in the future, won't I, girl?"
Two candlemarks later Xena sat inside the tavern waiting for Gabrielle to join her. A young bard was telling a story. He was nowhere near as talented as Gabrielle was and most patrons ignored and even spoke over him. Xena was slightly embarrassed for the man. It made her appreciate even more the talent that Gabrielle possessed.
Xena looked over to the door and saw a radiant Gabrielle. Her smile was wide and deep and Xena chuckled to herself. She'd known Gabrielle would love this village, and from all appearances she did.
"Hey, did you find anything interesting out there?" Xena asked, standing to greet Gabrielle.
"Oh yeah," came the excited reply. "There're all kinds of talented people in this town. You wouldn't believe the arts and crafts, and the street musician around the corner is amazing."
"I'm glad you're enjoying yourself." Xena said, motioning Gabrielle to a stool next to her.
"There is something I'd love to do while we're here," Gabrielle was saying as she sat down.
"What's that?" Xena inquired, thinking that she already knew what the bard was going to say.
"There is a famous woman in town. She is known throughout the land for her ability to predict the future. From what all the villagers say, she's remarkably accurate. I'd love to pay her a visit, but only if you'll come with me," Gabrielle added.
That wasn't at all what Xena was expecting. She thought that Gabrielle would want to tell her stories, not visit a fortuneteller.
"A fortuneteller?" Xena asked totally surprised her eyebrows furrowed and her lips pursed.
"You know how I feel about that stuff Gabrielle. We make our own destiny and nobody can predict what we'll do. Hades, we don't even know from day to day ourselves where we're headed."
"Come on Xena, just indulge me on this. I have a feeling about her and it's not a bad feeling. I think that what she is going to tell me will change my life and I'm sure it's for the better," Gabrielle explained as she reached over and grabbed Xena's hand. "Please come with me."
Xena felt the hand on top of hers squeeze a little. Relieved that Gabrielle still felt comfortable enough to innocently touch her, Xena looked at the green eyes across from her and melted. 'Damn it,' Xena thought, 'how does she talk me into this stuff?'
"All right, but not until we get something to eat," Xena demanded
"Oh, thank you, Xena. You won't regret this I promise."
"We'll see about that." Xena said.
After a filling lunch, Xena and Gabrielle stood in front of a large wooden door.
"Are you sure this is the right place, Gabrielle?" Xena asked, looking for the usual signs indicating a fortuneteller's hut. There were no benches out front for the waiting clients, who usually sat patiently, ready to throw their dinars away. Also, there was no sign indicating a price for this service. Xena was getting a little concerned.
"Trust me, this is it," Gabrielle said as she knocked softly on the wooden door.
The door slowly creaked open, revealing a dark-haired, dark-skinned woman dressed entirely in black. A small rope hung around her neck displaying a large crescent moon medallion. A fragrant aroma seeped past the mysterious woman and spilled out into the street.
"Hello, my name is Gabrielle and this is my friend Xena," Gabrielle said, turning so the woman in the door could get a better look at her visitors.
The warrior gave the woman a smirk as hazel eyes looked up at the tall blue-eyed woman standing behind the blonde.
"I understand you are an amazing oracle and well respected. I hope we're not interrupting you, but I've come here to ask for your assistance. I've had a premonition that you will be able to tell me something about my life that will change my future." Gabrielle said, hoping for an invitation to enter.
"I see," came a quiet reply. "Premonitions can be good and bad. You have thought of this before seeking my guidance?" the woman inquired.
"Yes, I have, and from what I feel in my heart it will be good news. But I understand you can guarantee nothing." Gabrielle wanted to make sure the woman would continue.
"Very well, please come in.'
Xena grabbed Gabrielle by the arm and brought her head down close to her ear. "Aren't you going to ask how much this is going to cost?" Xena whispered.
"No. Whatever it is, it'll be worth it. Trust me, Xena, I can feel this in here," Gabrielle said placing her hand on top of her heart.
Gabrielle walked in and Xena followed behind, keeping a watchful eye around the interior. The room was decorated with ornamental wall coverings and burning candles of all shapes and colors cast a peaceful glow in the room. A small circular table covered by a blue and gold cloth stood in the middle of the room.
"My name is Minerva," the woman said. "You may please take a seat here." she motioned for Gabrielle to sit on a wooden stool next to the table.
Gabrielle sat down, looking back at Xena, who was standing within inches of her.
"You will please take a seat over there," the woman said, pointing to a bench along the wall while staring at the tall woman.
Xena stood still. She wasn't going anywhere.
"It's okay, Xena, have a seat. You'll be able to hear everything. It'll be all right." Gabrielle smiled at Xena.
Obediently, Xena sat down, but she didn't like this one bit.
"Shall we begin?"
Gabrielle nodded her head yes.
Minerva placed four highly decorative ceramic bowls on the table. Reaching behind her, she brought out four different wooden boxes and a kettle full of boiling water. She poured about a cup of water into each bowl.
"First," she began. "I will look at your early years."
Reaching in a wooden box with her fingertips, Minerva dropped a small amount of herbs into the first ceramic bowl. Closing her eyes, she waved her hands in front of the bowl, humming a chant, and then peered inside the steaming bowl.
"You come from a small family. I see a mother and father figure present and one sibling of the female gender. Also, you left home of your own accord with intentions of a different life than that which was planned for you," she finished, looking over at the green-eyed woman.
"Yes, that's amazing," Gabrielle said, looking back at Xena, who gave her a half-smile.
Xena silently concluded it was a lucky guess and kept her mouth shut.
"Next," Minerva continued. "We will look for a turning point in your life."
Repeating the same steps as before, but with different herbs, Minerva closed her eyes and then opened them, looking at the contents of the bowl.
"Yes, . . . this is very disturbing. You were tricked into thinking you were protecting someone, when really they were using you for a great evil. Your hand shed blood. Life changed for you at that moment," she again lifted her head from the bowl, looking at Gabrielle.
"By the Gods, you're right again! I thought I was protecting a man seeking good. He was showing me the way of the light, or so I thought. He was to be sacrificed and I stepped in, stabbing a young woman. It was a trap to catch an innocent and I was the bait," Gabrielle brought her head down to her hands as she remembered the horrible events of the past.
Xena hated to see Gabrielle upset. She didn't like where this was going. Her guess was that this woman had heard of Dahak and the events at the temple. The story of Hope and the Destroyer were legendary and tied directly to Xena the Warrior Princess and her poor innocent friend. She must have pegged Gabrielle for the sidekick that everyone talked about. It meant nothing, but she could tell Gabrielle was getting sucked in.
Gabrielle lifted her head. "Please continue, Minerva."
"The third step will be to look for a great joy bestowed upon you." Minerva looked directly at the bard.
Herbs dropped into another steaming bowl, hands moved and the chant began.
"A forgiveness was given from a friend. You worried that your lives would be torn apart. A young boy named . . ." she looked closer at the bowl, trying to make out what she saw. "His name was Solan, yes, that's it. He brought you and this friend back to a place of forgiveness and your heart was mended with a great joy and love." she let out a deep breath and looked up at Gabrielle.
"How could you possibly know that?" Gabrielle asked with emotion in her voice. "Losing my friend was devastating, unbearable, but we were healed of our hate with the help of Solan, and I thank the Gods every day for my friend's forgiveness and love," she said, looking back at Xena, who also seemed to be visibly shaken.
Xena sat speechless. How did this woman know about this event and her son's name? She wasn't sure if she should be angry or not. Could this woman really be able to see all these things?
"Are you all right, Xena?" Gabrielle asked with concern.
"Um . . . yes. Are you all right?"
"I'm fine, really, and I want to continue. Okay?" she asked, looking at the face of the woman she loved.
Xena nodded her head.
Turning back to look at Minerva, Gabrielle asked. "What's next?"
"Next, I will ask for the question you have come here today to have answered," Minerva said, straightening her medallion and crossing her arms in front of her.
"Well," Gabrielle began. "My life has been dedicated to the greater good of mankind. I fight alongside Xena to protect the innocent. Even as rewarding as this is, I'm missing something that I hope lies in my future. What I would really like to know is if there is someone in the universe that looks at me through love's eyes and desires me as a woman? Is there someone out there to share an intimate life with?"
Xena started sweating. If this woman could really see things, Xena's cover was about to be blown. Fidgeting, Xena brought her right hand to her forehead and wiped off the perspiration with her fingers. She thought about not letting this go any further by making up some excuse, but her mind was racing. Nothing seemed coherent. 'Gods! Think of something!' she mentally cursed herself.
Looking up, Xena realized the herbs had already fallen into the last bowl.
"Oh yes . . . I see this person very clearly," Minerva stood now, looking directly at the swirling herbs. "The love that this person holds for you is like nothing I've ever seen. You are very lucky Gabrielle. To them you are the reason for living. They feel you in every action they take. The sun sets and rises in your eyes and you are the reason that their heart beats."
Xena wasn't breathing anymore. The room was getting fuzzy as she braced her hands on the bench for support. The words definitely described the emotion that she felt for Gabrielle. Maybe this was a good thing, she thought. It would finally be out on the table. With that moment of clarity, she took a deep breath.
"Can you tell me what this person looks like? I want to make sure I don't pass them by if I should see someone who fits the description." Gabrielle said, leaning on the edge of the stool and trying to peer into the bowl herself.
'This is it!' Xena cried silently to herself, closing her eyes and praying to the Gods for a good outcome.
"She . . .," Minerva began. "She is of average height, brown eyes, light-skinned . . .
"What? What are you talking about?" Xena stood with her hands on her hips, eyebrows raised in disbelief.
"That's not right! She's at least six feet tall, she has blue eyes and . . ." Xena realized she was describing herself, but it was too late. Gabrielle and Minerva were both looking at her with a questioning gaze. Xena swallowed hard and blinked her eyes.
'Damn, this was not good,' she was thinking to herself.
"I'll just wait outside," Xena blurted out and bolted for the door.
Once the warrior was outside, Gabrielle turned to Minerva.
"That worked perfectly!" she whispered, trying to hold back her delight.
"Unbelievable, Gabrielle! It couldn't have worked better if we'd had an entire season to plan it. I'm so happy for you!" the fake fortuneteller said, coming over to hug the blonde.
"You're an even better actress than I remember, Marta. The Community Theater in Potedia must really miss your talent. You memorized everything I told you earlier. Nice touch with the candles by the way and hey, what's up with these bowls and herbs?" Gabrielle inquired, picking up one of the wooden boxes.
"Well, you only gave me a couple of candlemarks to pull all this together. I didn't have any cards, or anything that would pass as a crystal ball, so I just used what I had plenty of . . . tea leaves." Marta said, laughing quietly.
"I'm so glad I ran into you today. Thank you for listening to my dilemma and for agreeing to do this for me. I had to try and find out the truth without making it obvious. I was afraid if I came right out and asked her, it would ruin everything." Gabrielle held her friend's hand and reached up to put a small kiss on her cheek.
"I should go check on Xena," Gabrielle stepped back from the embrace. "I want to make sure she doesn't leave."
"Are you going tell her, Gabrielle?"
"Tell her what . . . that I love her?"
"No, tell her that you set her up?" Marta questioned.
"Oh, that minor detail. I'm not sure, Marta. It depends on how the next part goes. Wish me luck. Thank you again, I'll never be able to repay you."
"The only payment I need is to see you two together. Good-bye, Gabrielle, all the best to you!"
Gabrielle walked outside and looked for Xena. At first glance she was nowhere to be found. Gabrielle's heart was beating fast. She turned the corner and let out a breath. Xena was sitting on the stone steps of the inn, her head in her hands.
"Xena?" Gabrielle whispered, sitting down next to her.
"Just let me explain . . ." Xena started, head still hung low, not making eye contact with the bard.
Gabrielle interrupted her immediately. "Xena, remember how I said I was sure that this visit would change my life for the better? Well, I believe that even more now." Gabrielle said, lifting Xena's head with both of her hands. "Your addition to the reading guaranteed that for me."
Xena looked into Gabrielle's eyes almost like it was the first time. She saw tears forming and brought her hands up to brush the drops away with her thumbs.
"So you're crying because you're happy?" Xena asked trying to make sure she was on the same page with Gabrielle.
"If you're the one who desires me, than yes . . . I would be the happiest woman alive." Gabrielle said as more tears fell from her eyes.
Xena took a deep breath. The realization of what she was hearing made her weak with emotion. She wanted to make sure she said the right thing.
"You're the reason my heart beats, Gabrielle. I'm in love with you." Xena said, moving closer and wrapping her arms around the woman she wanted more than anything in the world.
"Oh, Xena, that's all I've ever hoped for. I wanted it to be you . . . I wanted it to be you so badly." Gabrielle said kissing the side of Xena's face as she held tightly to the strong embrace.
It seemed like their hold was only for an instant, but Xena noticed people looking in their direction.
"Will you come up to our room with me, Gabrielle? People are starting to stare!" she whispered into the bard's ear.
Both women laughed with nervous tension. Neither wanted their declaration of love to be a public spectacle. On shaky legs they made their way hand in hand to the room.
Xena closed the door behind them and still holding hands, walked the pair to the bed.
Sitting on the edge of the bed, Xena looked at Gabrielle and a sadness came over her suddenly. "I only see one problem Gabrielle. That woman was so accurate. Maybe. . . maybe there is another that you are meant to be with. A woman who fits the description she was giving you and whom you are meant to be with." Xena hated to say this, but Gabrielle's happiness was the most important thing to her. She loosened her grip on Gabrielle's hand.
"Xena, I'm exactly where I want to be and well . . . well, to tell you the truth, um . . . you see," Gabrielle was tripping all over herself.
Gabrielle stood up from the bed moving directly in front of her love and looked directly into her blue eyes.
"I hope you won't be too mad at me, Xena, I never meant to deceive you . . . I hope you can forgive me . . ." Gabrielle tried to break the news as gently as possible.
"What are you talking about, Gabrielle?" Xena demanded softly.
"Remember you said it was my job to be the creative one, to see past the obvious and envision what could be?" she said dropping to her knees in front of Xena as tears welled up again.
"Yes. . ."
"Well, . . . I guess I got a little creative and well, Minerva is really Marta, she's not a fortuneteller but an actress, she's an old friend of mine from Potedia and I ran into her earlier today - are you with me so far?" Gabrielle wasn't sure if what she was seeing in Xena's eyes was anger or confusion.
"Yes . . ."
"Well, . . . I told her how much I was in love with you and we kind of planned the whole thing. I only did it because I was afraid to ask you how you felt and I was even more afraid to tell you my feelings. I was afraid I'd ruin everything and I just couldn't live without you, Xena . . . even if it meant I would be nothing more than your best friend for the rest of my life. I know it was wrong and I'm sorry. I just hoped that you'd give me a sign and then you did and . . ." Gabrielle was crying in earnest now. She couldn't continue her apology.
"You set me up?" Xena asked softy.
"I guess . . . I guess you could say that . . ." Gabrielle breathed out between sobs, finally rising and sitting next to Xena on the bed.
Xena turned and pulled Gabrielle's face to hers.
Gabrielle looked through her tears and she thought she saw compassion and even understanding in the crystal blue eyes staring at her.
Xena began kissing away the tears from Gabrielle's cheeks.
Between kisses she said, "How could I be mad at you for trying to show me that you loved me? I was too afraid to do it. Hades, if you had left it up to me, we'd have NEVER gotten to this place. If I had to be played for a fool, there isn't any better outcome than this." Xena finished kissing away the tears and for the first time, brought her lips to Gabrielle's.
The passion of four seasons passed through each woman as the kiss deepened.
This was exactly what Gabrielle had hoped for. She felt Xena's fingers run along the side of her head tenderly, slowly. Upon reaching their resting-place on the soft of her neck, Gabrielle felt her head pulled even closer to the eager lips of her new lover. Gabrielle's desire spilled out as a sigh, as Xena's tongue ran it's way across her lips. Gasping deeply, she opened her mouth more, allowing Xena to explore even further.
Pulling back to catch her breath, Gabrielle looked at Xena. "I've dreamt of this but I never expected it to feel so beautiful, Xena. I'm . . . I'm a little nervous. I've never been with a woman before," she said shyly, looking down.
"Is it moving too quickly for you, Gabrielle?" Xena asked tenderly, running her hands along the sides of the bard's arms.
"No, Xena, I don't want to stop. It's what I've wanted and waited for. I just never knew it would feel so incredible." Gabrielle said as her face flushed with desire.
"Please . . . please kiss me."
Xena brought her hand back up and pulled Gabrielle closer, bringing their lips together again. Seductively, she kissed her lightly, and then taking her time, more deeply. Eventually, Xena made her way to a perfect ear, gently sucking and licking. The whimpers of delight coming from Gabrielle were all the encouragement Xena needed to continue her exploration.
Xena's skin was dewy with perspiration and the heat between them was stifling.
She took Gabrielle in her arms, all the while kissing her face, her throat, murmuring softly.
"I love you Xena," came a passionate sigh.
"I'm so glad my love," Xena said as she breathed in the sweet scent of Gabrielle's desire.
"I want you so badly, Gabrielle. Are you sure you want to continue?"
Gabrielle nodded and finally replied, "I need you."
Xena slowly and tenderly helped Gabrielle out of her clothes as she continued to caress and kiss the beautiful woman before her. After she lay Gabrielle back on the bed, Xena stood and removed her leathers. Bending over the bed, Xena slowly brought her mouth to a hardened nipple as Gabrielle sat up, wrapping her arms around Xena's waist, pulling her closer as she cried out. Xena sucked gently as she laid them both down on the bed.
Gabrielle gasped as Xena moved back and forth between each breast, stopping in the hollow to lick and kiss. Xena could feel the warmth beneath her as Gabrielle's hips involuntarily rocked up to meet hers. Feeling her own wetness growing between her legs, Xena slowly moved her hand down Gabrielle's firm stomach, stopping just above the blonde curls. Gabrielle sighed and rocked a little harder.
Xena tenderly reached her hand between Gabrielle's thighs. She was wet and slippery. Gabrielle groaned; her heart seeming to pound out of her chest. Xena lightly stroked back and forth, feeling the bard respond by moving her soft wet center in the rhythm of Xena's fingers. She gently inserted her fingers just inside.
Wanting to feel more of her lover, Gabrielle pushed her hips up and Xena thrust her fingers deeper. Xena brought her lips back to Gabrielle's kissing her passionately as she continued her in and out movement with her fingers.
"Oh Xena. . . Oh Xena . . . ," Gabrielle murmured.
Xena felt tiny contractions beginning to grip her fingers. Kissing Gabrielle harder, she felt the orgasm deepen. Gabrielle brought her hips up to meet the sensation as the feeling overtook her. Falling back to earth, she pulled Xena completely on top of her, holding her closely as she allowed her breathing to return to normal.
Xena was sure she was crushing the smaller woman, but every time she tried to move, Gabrielle's hands held her in place.
"Please stay Xena, I want to feel you on top of me."
Xena thought she heard soft crying.
"Are you okay, Gabrielle?" Xena needed to know.
Soon Gabrielle's hands were making small circles on Xena's back. "Yes, Xena, I love you," she whispered.
"And I love you."
"I want nothing more than to make you feel like that my love." Gabrielle said.
"I've never . . . I've never had this experience before. I'm afraid you'll have to teach me," she added softly.
Gently moving to the side of the woman who was just beneath her, Xena propped herself up on her elbow, resting her head in her hand.
Xena looked over at the green, passion filled eyes and said. "It's all right, my beautifully creative bard. That's my job, your job was getting us here."
They smiled lovingly at each other. As Gabrielle's smile grew, her hand reached up behind Xena's head, pulling Xena's lips to hers.
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