The Path of Forgiveness
by S Derkins
March 3, 1998
Disclaimers: This is an alternative piece of fiction. If you are underage or if this type of story offends you, please find something else to read. The characters from Xena: Warrior Princess belongs to Universal/MCA and no infringements are intended. The story is mine, mine, mine : )
Warning: This story does have some strong adult content about rape. I'm sorry, but I just didn't feel like writing a piece of romantic fluff this time.
"What's Xena doing? Doesn't she want to be forgiven?"
Tara's words repeated themselves over and over in Gabrielle's mind along with the image of the expressed anguish on her friend's eyes. The Warrior's stoic mask had almost hidden the pain she felt as she watched her Bard and new friend as they asked for forgiveness from the priest.
Gabrielle had felt the shame Xena felt for her past as though it had been her own. It twisted her stomach, her spirit grabbed by an icy hand. The Bard had the image of that brief moment engraved within her mind so deeply that she was sure she would never forget it. Every time she allowed herself a pause in her thoughts, every time she turned silent, and every time she saw Xena look off into the distance, the moment came back to her unheeded.
The petite Amazon looked at Xena's profile as the Warrior once more gazed off into the night. She sat perfectly still, cross-legged with her arms resting against her thighs. The glow of the fire danced across her tanned flesh, leaving shadows and highlights that only emphasized the woman's strong features. Her full lips were pursed tightly, a sign she was holding in her emotions, which worried the gentle Bard. She decided to act in her friend's best interest.
She scooted closer to the statuesque woman and placed her arm around her shoulders gently, then put her cheek against the strong shoulder. She raised her free hand and put her warm fingers on Xena's forearm, rubbing the skin lightly before coming to a rest on the crook of her arm, stroking the Warrior's biceps with her thumb.
"Are you okay?" the Bard whispered softly. A response wasn't quick to come. Long minutes passed by before the taller woman took a deep breath and moved. She lifted her hand and leaned towards her smaller friend, placing her fingers on the Bard's jaw and bringing her face closer to her own. Xena softly kissed Gabrielle's brow before resting her cheek on silky red-blond hair.
"Hmm," was her only comment.
"Xena, that didn't answer my question. You've been quiet for days and I worry about you. Can you talk about it?"
"Not yet. Maybe later. Right now, I just I just need to think I guess. I know you want to talk about how I'm feeling, but the words aren't there yet. Give me time, okay?" Xena gave her Bard a small smile of encouragement, placing another kiss on her brow once she felt the slight nod of her friend beneath her cheek. The former warlord was grateful that Gabrielle was willing to let it go for now. Usually, the younger woman would chip away at her defenses, forcing her to talk through her feelings. Tonight, she just didn't want to face them.
Scattering images and emotions flashed through her mind as she relived the moment she almost brutally killed her best friend and lover: The seductive thrill of allowing the hatred and rage their full rein, the power she felt that day when she held Gabrielle's battered body above her head and screamed 'Vengeance!'-and the few seconds it took for the Bard to look upon her with pure anger and hatred.
The Warrior didn't want to live through this again. She whimpered pitifully in her sleep, wishing to escape. With a panicked start, she awoke from her dream. Xena remained perfectly still, her heart pounding, her sweat-soaked skin chilling as she gradually realized she had been asleep.
It took a few minutes before the former warlord could relax against the sleeping figure next to her. Gabrielle was spooned in front of her, her warm body still in deep slumber. Xena took a shaky breath and willed herself to ease the tension in her body. She knew she couldn't sleep again that night, but also knew that Gabrielle would awaken if she moved away from her.
"Are you alright?" Gabrielle asked unexpectedly.
Xena jumped slightly, wondering why she hadn't sensed that her lover was awake. The Warrior couldn't bring herself to speak yet, so she tightened her hold on the smaller body in front of her. Gabrielle reached behind her, running her palm over the dark-haired woman's hip sympathetically.
"Xena?" The Bard turned within her arms in order to face her. Xena lifted her leg and allowed her companion to move in closer and then wrapped the leg behind Gabrielle's strong thighs. Xena looked into the concerned green eyes of her best friend and wondered how in Tartarus she could have ever gotten to the point of wanting to kill her.
Yes, her friend had been blind to her daughter's faults, but as a mother, Xena should have realized the gentle girl from Poteidaia would have never killed her own child at that time. She just hadn't seen the evil that had existed in the form of a baby. The Bard's fault was that she loved too deeply-and forgave those she loved. The Warrior knew that was the one thing that truly saved their relationship.
The Warrior wasn't sure which god to thank, but she was grateful that her Bard had forgiven her for what had happened between them. Xena had to admit to herself that hating Gabrielle for what she deemed a betrayal on her part had been what had driven a wedge between them. *But how could have she forgiven my actions? What I did * She couldn't even allow herself to think about it. The intense guilt Xena felt for that morning's events surpassed even that of Lyceus' death.
"Xena?" Gabrielle repeated with worry.
Panic rushed through Xena. The Warrior wasn't sure why she felt that way, but suddenly, she focused on Gabrielle's eyes and desire coursed through her blood. She pulled the smaller woman closer and began roughly kissing her.
Gabrielle felt her heart begin racing. The look she saw in Xena's eyes frightened her. The Bard didn't know what exactly had brought it on-but Xena was scared! The irrational panic she saw reflected in those blue eyes was exactly like the fearful and aggressive look she had seen in Xena's eyes when they had faced the Horde. The Bard saw it for just the merest moment before her lover began taking her lips in a punishing kiss.
The bard tried pushing the larger woman away, needing to get her to stop long enough to speak, but Xena would have nothing to do with it. Gabrielle felt her hair being held in a tight grasp and her wrist taken and pinned by another powerful hand. The Warrior pushed the petite woman onto her back with her body weight and held her down. The assault on her mouth continued.
Gabrielle felt sharp teeth bite her lower lip and knew her mouth would be swollen and sore in the morning. She tried once more to end the kiss and failed. The bard knew nothing would stop her Warrior now. Gabrielle allowed herself to relax and stopped fighting the larger woman. Almost instantly, the intensity eased just a little, letting her get caught up in the same wave of desire.
The Warrior dominated the smaller woman. There was no concern about drawing out the act. It was a fast burning inferno that left both women weak and in tears.
Xena gasped for air, panting against the shoulder beneath her cheek. Her eyes were tightly closed in disbelief. She couldn't deny it though, the pounding heartbeat under her ear gave testimony to what she had just done to her best friend.
Never in all the time they have been lovers had she ever just taken what she wanted sexually from Gabrielle. Their unions had always been gentle and caring: Long drawn out evenings of mutual sharing, playful afternoons under the trees, and indulgent morning sunrises-but never rape.
The horror of what had just happened hit Xena like a clap of thunder. A sob tore from her throat as she tried desperately to untangle herself from the Bard's limbs. She had barely managed to rise up when Gabrielle grabbed her.
"No! Don't you dare leave me now! Xena, Xena! Listen to me, damn it! You are not going anywhere in order to hide from this. Do you hear me?" Gabrielle demanded as she took the Warrior's face between her hands and made her look at her.
Xena looked down into the pooling green eyes below her and collapsed against Gabrielle's breasts, sobbing. Strong arms enfolded her, stroking her back and hair as she spilled hot tears onto soft flesh. The Warrior heard Gabrielle's sudden inhale and lifted her head. Xena looked at the Bard's face, seeing her scrunch up her face in pain. Looking down, Xena saw lightly bleeding teeth marks that were stinging because of her salty tears.
"Oh Gods, Gabrielle. I'm so sorry," she whispered as she leaned down to brush a soft kiss next to the wounds in apology before she broke down in tears once more. Again, the Warrior felt the smaller woman console her, murmuring hushed assurances of her love and caring-which only made the fierce Warrior cry all the harder. She didn't deserve to be forgiven for what she had done. Finally, the weeping ended, leaving them both emotionally exhausted.
"Are you ready to talk now?" Gabrielle asked softly, "I know it's the last thing you want to do, but-"
"-Gabrielle I don't know what to say other than I am sorrier than you could ever know. I don't have a clue to why it even happened!"
The Bard was quiet for a moment before she spoke. "What were you dreaming before you woke up?"
"I I was dreaming about that morning, you know-in the Amazon village when I "
"Tried to kill me?" she whispered.
Xena nodded and attempted to pull away from her Bard. Gabrielle followed her as she rolled, then quickly pushed Xena by the shoulder, indicating for the larger woman to roll onto her back. Xena was confused but did as she was bid. She watched as the smaller woman reached into her discarded leather tunic and retrieved the breast dagger the Warrior kept there.
Gabrielle lifted the sharp blade and looked at it without any expression upon her face. She merely gazed at it indifferently, casually taking in the sight of the weapon. She then tilted it sideways, bringing up her other hand to test the sharpness of the blade, running her thumb near the tip.
Xena just watched, mesmerized, her eyes locked on the face of the woman she loved. The Amazon Queen finally took her eyes from the dagger and turned her eyes to blankly gaze at her. The Warrior's breath came in tiny pants as she watched the Bard lower the weapon to her throat. Gabrielle ran the blade ever so softly along the skin of her exposed neck.
The dark-haired woman remained still, unsure what was going to happen, but convinced whatever did occur would be for the best. If Gabrielle ended her miserable existence, then who was she to stop her? Over and over, she brought suffering, danger, and pain into Gabrielle's life. The Warrior had taken the impressionable young girl from her home village and exposed her to the harsh realities of the outside world. She had taken her into situations beyond her limited experiences and changed her forever-and because of her, Gabrielle had truly lost her blood innocence when she poisoned her own child.
By every right, the young woman had just cause to finally put an end to everything-all it would take is a quick movement of the knife. Xena felt her own heartbeat throb as the cold blade ran lightly against her. Blue eyes firmly locked with gray-green eyes, refusing to close even as the Bard flexed.
"This is what you want, isn't it Xena? For me to kill you for what you think you've done." Gabrielle placed one hand next to the Warrior's head in order to lean closer, her voice a low whisper. Her voice came out emotionless.
"I know you all too well. You may not understand why you just attacked me, but I do. Would you like to know why?" Xena nodded, both fascinated and calm.
"You still don't believe you should be forgiven. Not for your warlord days, Solon, Hope, or even me. Deep down inside you_still_hate_yourself. Even when I first met you, I knew you had a self-destructive streak a league wide-even a blind man could see it. I see all the foolish chances you take with your life, I hear the jokes about not living to old age, the comments about your probable afterlife in Tartarus. You just want to end it.
The only thing that has held you on this earth is the overwhelming guilt you carry. You wear it like a hairshirt, punishing yourself for everything. You don't even think you deserved to be loved. You are so damned sure you don't deserve *anything* good in your life that you undermine your own happiness without even realizing it. What just happened was just another step on your path to self-destruction-and I *won't* make it easy for you." Gabrielle tossed the dagger over her shoulder in contempt.
"If you want to kill yourself-go ahead. But I want you to know something. I love you. No ifs, ands, or buts. I will love you all of my days and even beyond. Nothing will change that. Either accept it inside or end it now, because I can't go on like this anymore." The Bard stood up and walked away.
Gabrielle stood on the edge of the cliff that overlooked a large pond. The sunset was coloring the sky in oranges and purples, saying goodbye to another fair day. She had stood there for hours, her heart breaking. She listened to the silence of the peaceful setting, gazing at the mirror-like pond, and prayed. She feared going back to their camp. What would she find? Her imagination provided far too many scenarios to horrify her, so she fearfully kept away. As the time passed, each minute became worse than the last. As the hours crept by, the tears began silently falling.
The night was now approaching fast and the Bard realized she would have to return. She told herself to move but her body wouldn't respond. All she could do was hug herself in misery. She lowered her chin and allowed her tears to become sobs, weeping for it all.
Then Gabrielle felt a touch. Soft as a butterfly's wing, a hand brushed her hair. The Bard lifted her head but remained still, wondering if her imagination had taken flight. She waited with bated breath. A warm breeze ruffled her hair and she felt the heat of a body close to her. She closed her eyes in hope.
Strong arms wrapped around her, pulling her close. Soft lips touched her cheek. She let out her breath is a painful sigh.
"I love you Gabrielle," came the voice she needed.
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