Praise You

by Xena's Little Bitch aka Julia Noel Goldman

Disclaimers: I don't own the characters, I just love writing about them. Check out the love between women, erotically expressed within!

Description: An excessively romantic first time story taking place after "To Helicon and Back."

Story History: Part of this story is based on a short piece I wrote for the Bardic Circle Writing Challenge "Breathe." (Thanks, guys!)

Didja like it?

copyright March 2001

"We've come a long long way together
Through the hard times and the good
I have to celebrate you baby
I have to praise you like I should."
--Fatboy Slim

Praise You

Tonight we sit together by the campfire like a thousand other nights; you polishing your sais, me polishing my sword. The moon is full and bright, the air is neither cool nor warm. We parted from the Amazons after Helicon. I insisted; you looked so tired of being queen, and I wanted so badly to be alone with you. Now that we are alone, you won't let me in. But because I stare at your breasts I know more about how you feel than I should. I always do. I know when you're excited about something, and I know when you're afraid. I can tell when you're attempting to find your patience, and when you're trying hardest not to let me know how you feel. There are millions of little clues that come from all over your body, but these days, when I really want to know what's going on with you, I just watch you breathe. When we met, it was different. You shared even your smallest thoughts with me; I didn't have to search for you. You used your body like a giant parchment, expressing everything so vibrantly, big enough for all the world to read. Tonight though, you're expending a great deal of energy to keep your body under control. There's a lot going on inside you, and I bet I can guess at most of it. I'll give you as much space, as much silence, as I can bear, but I don't know how much longer I can leave you alone in your suffering.

That night, before Beowulf found us in the tavern and brought back all the nightmares of my history in the Norselands, I had been staring at you. It was your hair this time, and the way the light got caught up in the jagged edges of it. This was the nicest place we'd eaten in ages; the wine was particularly good, the music was lovely, and not a single fight broke out the whole time we were there. As I usually do when we are together, I had regulated my breathing until it was synchronized with yours. I wasn't thinking about anything, just staring at you as I ate, and I got lost again in your beauty.

"What?" You sounded both impatient and intrigued.

"You gonna finish that?" I gestured towards your food.

"All of it."

"I thought the portions here were kinda small."

"You're not getting mine."

"Come one Gabrielle, you're playing with your food."

"No, I'm relishing it."

If you'd looked at my plate you'd have seen there was still food on it. I won't count how many times I've created little arguments just to avoid telling you the truth about my feelings. Luckily Beowulf arrived to distract us from your incessant questioning. Suffice it to say that once I returned to you at the table after speaking to him, our breathing was no longer in synch.

Back in the room we had the same argument we have always had. I withhold things; information, plans, love. (Well, we never say "love".) And why do I have to be that way? I didn't have to look at your breasts to know you were angry, but I did anyway. I hated it that the room had two small beds. I stared at the ceiling and listened to the sounds of you not sleeping. My plan for the next day was simple and thus easy to conceive; abandon the woman I loved and go fight the monster. There it was, the story of our life together. And there you were, still awake. It's not like I wanted to leave you. It's like I had no choice. When it comes to my past, somehow all I can think will fix things is a clear and strong display of force; total physical destruction. I never learn.

But that night, lying in bed, I was anything but angry. Part of me was detached; already on the road, engaged in the hunt, restless. And the other part of me was begging to crawl under the covers next to you. I wanted so badly to hold you, to comfort and be comforted by you. I got out of bed, took off my breastplate and stood looking down at you.

"Can I get in?" I asked quietly.

"Of course," you said, moving over to give me room. You were lying on your side and I curled my body around yours. Your arm moved to cover mine and hug it closer to your stomach. Our bodies relaxed into each other with an almost audible sigh. The relief I experienced as I held you made my whole body feel like my feet do when I take off my boots after a long day. Everything felt right, not like I was about to leave you and probably get myself killed in a place where, if they leave your dead body out at night, the blood freezes in your very veins.

"I love it when you do that," you said.


"Breathe with me."

"You know, Gabrielle," I started, "You know you're the one I want to spend the rest of my life with, right? That it's not like someone's gonna come along and I'm gonna to decide I want to be with them instead of you."

"I know that, Xena," you said, "You know I feel the same."

"Okay, it's a deal then."

"Yes. A deal."

I imagined other people might call it something else as I pulled you more tightly to me and subtly smelled your hair. You were like a bowl of fresh, clean fruit. If you followed me north, or if I survived and returned to you, then maybe things would be different; maybe I could tell you how I felt. Our bodies moved together gently as we breathed, and then as we slept.

Four hours later I was awake and dressed, on the road with Beowulf. I could tell already that he had a thing for you. I wanted to tell him that you were taken, but it was too complicated to explain to him. We trudged north. I knew you would be on our trail by nightfall. In my minds eye, I saw you waking without me beside you. The first thing you did was look at the other bed. You saw the scroll and knew immediately that I was gone. Silently berating yourself for not realizing I would do that, you crossed the room, picked up the scroll and sat on the edge of the bed. Your posture was perfect, your breasts heaved as you tried to control the way your body wanted to react. I knew you weren't gonna like what you read; that I had left you behind yet again. I imagined my beloved, who used to be so afraid of horses, riding furiously onward, determined and underdressed, into the cold to save me. My hero.

Sitting by the fire tonight, listening to your silence, reading your sadness, I think again about the old days; the power of your words. Over people. Over me. Or simply to describe a scene, an emotion. I've heard the best and still no one compares to you. Gods how I used to hate it. Sometimes it seemed like I was given you to travel with just to test my strength against such an endless, unruly onslaught of words. How long would I be able to continue to hide myself from you as I had hidden from everybody else so easily for my whole life? It didn't take long for you to teach me that the bravery was in the showing, not the keeping hidden. All I had to do was sit there and watch you, listen to the glittery waterfall of words, to know how I wished I could be.

A moon or so ago in a tavern in wherever the hell we were you were telling a story about us to a crowd of folks who'd been very excited to hear we were alive. For twenty five years people have been reading your scrolls, thinking we were dead, and here we were good as new. Well, maybe far from good as new, but it doesn't show at first glance. Your voice was deep and husky, the way it gets when you're tired or emotional or you've been speaking for hours. The next line caught my attention.

"ÔShe is Xena, slayer of... well... you don't want to even think about some of the things she's slain'."

I just began to laugh. That said so much right there. A few people turned to look at me as subtly as their drunkenness would allow. Tame as I am, I know I still look formidable. And I am, certainly.

There are days I miss the way your voice used to always be full of wonder. Now it's full of depth and understanding, resigned acceptance; almost never anything at all like wonder anymore. Only sometimes when you speak of me. It makes me want to be as wonderful as I can. It is an endless pressure to be the thing that you love, Gabrielle; you say I can't disappoint you and yet I do. Again and again. Always.

"I want so much to be like you," you said. I said it too, or did I only think it so many times it seemed as if I spoke it? Have a care what you wish for, they always say. I remember sitting on the sand dune at Helicon and watching you climb towards me, literally following in my footsteps in the sand. What would have happened that day so many years ago if we had gone in a different direction and you had not been there to try to save Terreis? Perhaps you would have never even learned to use a weapon. But you were always a fighter. I remember the way you used to be before you mastered the staff, watching me do battle, your fists in the air, willing mine to follow your lead. The things I saw you do at Helicon, your wish to be like me come true before our eyes. The images haunt me. I bet they haunt you too. But you're not talking to me. How do I get through to you tonight, Gabrielle?

I remember watching you fight Varia in the ring; you would've won if you hadn't wanted her to give up so much. It's exciting and terrifying to watch you fight, refusing to press your advantage in the vain hope that your opponent will see the light and give up. Watching you these last few moons as the brave, wise Amazon queen; you amaze me. You've learned so many things from me that I didn't mean to teach you. If I wasn't here, you would go on to be the finest queen the Amazons have ever had.

"You know, I'm the traitor to the nation," you say suddenly, still polishing a sai.

"That's the craziest thing I've ever heard.'

"I always have been. I've never really been an Amazon. My true loyalty has always been to you."

You look straight into my eyes as you say it. I can't disagree. The night is so quiet all I can hear is the fire cracking and popping. Even though it's light enough to see the forest around us, all I see is you.

"I know," I say.

"You are my cause, my homeland, my tribe, my greater good. You are the only thing that matters."

"I know," I whisper. We're both on the verge of tears again, "You made me think that when the war was over, you'd let me comfort you, Gabrielle."

"Come here," you whisper, and I do, sitting down on the bedroll and wrapping myself around your body. You put down the sais and let me hold you.

"I never meant for anything like this to happen to you," I whisper into your ear. You chuckle.

"That's what I get for wanting to be a warrior like the Destroyer of Nations, Xena. Nothing is your fault."

"I only want to ease your pain. Please let me try, Gabrielle. You're killing me."

"Okay," you whisper, "Why don't you start with my back?"

We laugh halfheartedly, and I pull back from you enough to give me room to massage your back, but I keep my legs around yours. Your shoulders are full of tension under my hands. I touch them gently but firmly. It reminds me of being in Africa and washing the blood from your hands; I suppose it's the same thing. Me wanting to cleanse you of your pain, of your guilt, to do for you what you do for me. But maybe I'm foolish to think I can do that for anybody; you can't clean clothing with dirty water. When I convinced the Emperor of Rome to take his own life, I was indeed the devil himself. All my work with Varia did little good when it came down to it. Perhaps blood is the stain that never comes out.

"Please don't be sorry," you say, "you're no enchantress. I made my own decisions."

"I know."

"That feels good."


Without realizing it, my massage has turned into more of a caress. I am stroking your arms and you lean back into my chest. I take the chance of going with my instincts; perhaps tonight is actually the right moment. I wrap my left arm around you, spreading my fingers and pressing my palm against the hot skin of your waist. My right arm wraps around your chest, and my hand holds your shoulder; my body is so close to yours that the warm area between my legs is pressed against your bottom. I touch the skin near your ear gently with the side of my face. I can feel the tenderness coming off me in waves; I've never come this close to showing my desire for you before. This could go either way; it's for you choose, to react to the difference in my touch or not. The speed of my heartbeat in my chest pressing against your naked back asks the question. Your right hand takes mine and slides it down to your breast above your heart; it pounds as if it would jump into my hand. I smell your hair and shiver when you shiver. I kiss your neck. You moan my name. I whisper yours in your ear.

"Why tonight?" you whisper.

"I'm desperate to reach you; you're too far away."

"How could you possibly want me, Xena? I'm covered in blood."

I turn you around in my arms until you're looking into my eyes. The expression on your face is a new one. If I didn't know better I would say it is despair. I have to make it go away. I can't bear this; I'm not strong enough to suffer this pain. My hands touch your face, and I'm unable to control my own tears.

"Gabrielle," I'm whispering, amazed at the words as they pour out of my mouth, "I'm in love with you. I have wanted you for years. I have been a coward. I didn't want to stain you with my darkness but it's happened anyway. Please let me love you."

"Xena," you whisper ardently, your hands cupping my face, "It's my own darkness that courses through my body like flame. The things I've done, the things I've thought about doing; they're me, not you. I never imagined that I would feel these feelings. We've come full circle."

"No. Not until you let me ease your pain. Then the circle will be complete."

We look into each other's eyes. For a moment you look the way you used to, uncertain and full of expectation.

"I know this isn't much, but I'll think of all kinds of other things. I promise I'll make it better," I whisper. I'm begging now.

Your eyes tell me it's the right move. Suddenly you seem to realize what I'm offering, and you slowly push me onto my back, moving forward until you are lying on top of me, your mouth by my ear.

"Hold me tight, Xena," you say, and I wrap my legs and arms around you, pulling you against me so hard it hurts in places. I like the feeling of your thigh between mine, and your breath in my ear makes my heart thump painfully. I allow myself to really feel your skin for the first time in my life; it's indescribably soft and tingly. Touching you makes me feel like I'm fourteen; it feels new.

"Is this tight enough?" I whisper.


"You feel wonderful. You're so strong and gentle, I want to touch you forever. I love you so much Gabrielle."

You prop yourself up on your elbows and look down at me, a smile on your face. "Who are you? I will torture you until you tell me what you've done with Xena." Your fingers run through my hair. Your tongue darts out and licks my lip. "What have you done with Xena?"

I smile back up at you, and though I am still holding you tightly, I begin moving my hands in slow swirls on your skin.

"I am Xena. You made me. I'm like this because of you. But please, torture me some more if you like; I can't seem to stop saying these things."

You stare into my eyes and stroke my neck. Leaning down to kiss different parts of my face, gently and purposefully. "You're magnificent, Xena."

"You're the bravest woman I've ever known," I whisper. You stare at me and then press your lips hard against mine. I open my mouth and you enter with no hesitation. Our kisses are rough and make it difficult for me to breathe, but I can't stop. I've got a hand on the back of your head, and my other hand travels down to the small of your back, holding you against my body. You pull your mouth away and look down at me; already, after just a few kisses, we are lost in our passion. With a soft tug I untie your top, and you shiver as the laces slide along your sensitive skin.

"Your body is glorious," I whisper, letting my hands stray to your biceps, along your shoulders towards your breasts, "You're the most beautiful woman in the world."

You close your eyes when I touch your breasts. I cannot but be gentle with them, smooth and sweet as they are. I lean up and take your hard nipple into my mouth. The feeling of it sends desire shooting through my entire body, and the sounds you make; I want to speak but no words will come. All I can think is that finally, after all these years, what I've wanted so badly is finally happening. I suck and lick at your nipple and slowly you begin to move the lower part of your body against me. Your groans are intoxicating, and my hands are all over you. I thrust my hips up against you; suddenly I realize that I too am making terrible sounds.

I let go of your nipple and pull you down into a kiss. You wrap your arms around my head and rub yourself against me, pulling at the shoulder strap of my battle dress. I continue kissing you as I unlace it and pull it off under my body, ripping off our underpants as I do. Your skirt is caught around your waist but I like it.

"Oh yes," you moan as our naked bodies touch for the first time, "Oh, Xena!"

It takes everything I have to not roll you over onto your back and take you quickly. I want you like I've never wanted anyone or anything; not even power, not even revenge. "You..." is all I can say. You look so fierce above me, passionate and focused like you do in battle. Your body strains to bring me pleasure, to control your own. Your skin is blue in the moonlight, I throw my head back as I press my wetness up against your muscular thigh. You thrust down against me, slowly and sensually. Our bodies slide together; it's more perfect than I had dreamed it could be. You open your eyes to meet mine and you smile.

"This feels good, Xena," you whisper, your voice rough with lust, struggling to keep your eyes open as you slowly ride my body, tracing the curves of my breasts with your hand. "So good..." your voice trails off and your breath catches and you look at me again. The love I see in your eyes is so strong I fear you could kill me with it. Your kiss rips into me, takes the comfort that I so want to share. I want to give myself up to your passion, and I beg you to take me. Never in my life have I begged anyone but you for anything. But begging you excites me. Begging you is right.

Suddenly I feel your mouth, hot against my neck, and then your teeth, hard. I gasp and my body rises up into yours. I feel your fingers snake down my sweating torso until they find the source of my wetness, and enter me smoothly. I groan, my back arching as I push up against you. I open my eyes and see you're watching me with a rapturous look on your face, staring at my body, as you gently thrust your fingers into me, again and again. I smile at you but I can't speak. I pull your head down for another bruising kiss.

I feel your center sliding more quickly against my thigh. I squeeze your backside with my hand, massaging it and pulling you harder against me. I hear your grunts getting louder each time you thrust into me. Your fingers inside me are so strong they push me to a place that I have never been before, an extraordinary place. My pleasure is so great I have to force myself to open my eyes; you're staring at me, your face flushed, your eyes glistening. You give me the particular indication with your eyebrow that we use in a fight as the signal for "Now!" My quick nod confirms your tactical choice, and I drive us harder and faster into the maelstrom of our passion. I feel your climax begin and I let mine follow. Everything is sound and movement and pleasure, an ecstasy past imagining. Your body gently falls down onto mine and I wrap my arms around you loosely. We stick together in places and you make soft, satisfied sounds in my ear. I pull a blanket over us and we breathe.

"Did you really mean those things?" you whisper.

"Yes, all of them."

"Oh, come on, I'm the most beautiful woman in the world?"

"Yes. No contest."

"And the part about being in love with me?" you whisper.

"Yes. But way more so now."

"I feel the same, Xena. So the way it felt when we... danced for Lucifer, that was real."

"Very real."

"Promise me that in the morning things will be between us as they are now."

"I promise."

"Good, because I'm about to fall asleep."

You fall asleep mostly on top of me. I can feel where every part of me touches every part of you, and each spot feels different and wonderful. As if our bodies are awash in vibrant, swirling color. The sky is so beautiful tonight, so clear. Sometimes, on a cloudy day, your eyes are just the same color as the sky. I don't know why people say they're green; they change constantly. I force myself to sleep, and I do, for a couple of hours.

We wake up at exactly the same moment and we're still stuck together in the same position. Except for my bladder, it feels just as perfect as it did last night.

"I'll rise but I refuse to shine," you croak.

"Gods, I wish I'd never told you about that."

"Still in love with me?"

"Yes. More so than when we fell asleep. I have to pee."

I unstick myself from you and go squat in the woods. I feel so good today, so alive. I'm even enjoying the chirping birds. I want to feel this way every day, to make you feel it too.

You prepare breakfast, looking too beautiful for words.

"I don't know why every time I think about how beautiful you are I feel I have to tell you."

"Because you're in love with me, Xena."

"And you're so smart." I am smiling like an idiot. I give myself up to it. I don't care anymore.

"Xena, why am I able to accept in you what I am unable to tolerate in myself?"

"Because you expect more from yourself than you do from me; my sins were part of the bargain going into it. Everyone kept telling you how pure you were for years. You'll love yourself again, I promise."

"How do you know?"

"Because I did, obviously. Admit it's a beautiful day."

"It is, Xena," you pause and reach out for my hand. I give it to you. "Xena, I hate our life. We have to make a drastic change."

"Okay. I can live without all this," I say, gesturing to, well, basically nothing, "Anything in particular on your mind?"

"I was thinking we could move to Athens and learn every position in the Kama Sutra."

"Athens!" I say, "We'll live in Athens and be artists. You'll write and I'll paint and we'll sit in taverns drinking wine and watching people."

"You'll paint?"

"I've always wanted to paint... you." I love it when you blush.

"Then it's settled. Athens. What about the Kama Sutra?"

I blush. "Would you be surprised to hear I've mastered it all?"

"Even that position from Aphrodite's temple?"

"Especially that one." Grinning like an idiot again.


"Yeah?" I am loving this morning. You're Gabrielle again, battered and bruised, but you.

"Could we invite Lila and Sarah to live in Athens? Not with us but near? Just in case?"

"Of course. Anyone you want. It's our life, we'll make the rules this time, okay?"

"You're wonderful. Okay then we've got a plan. I bet we could make enough money on the trip to Athens to set us up there. And you know, when we're there, we'll still help people and solve problems. Just no life or death stuff for a while."

"I understand. We'll do all kinds of good things. Could we, um, just hold each other for a little while now?"

You're the one with the huge grin this time, "You're asking me to cuddle."

"No, I...."

"Give it up," you say as I put my hand on your shoulder and pull you back down onto the bedroll, wrapping you up in my arms. I can't believe Athens sounds good, but it does. Anything does, with you. Especially after last night. "Admit you want to cuddle."

"No. I will admit I want to hold you tight and feel your soft, warm, loving body against mine. But I will never use that word."

You roll your eyes at me and press your lips to mine firmly. Maybe we've still got some of our old selves in us after all.

"We go to Athens, just like that?" you ask.

"Just like that. We should have done something like this years ago."

"What, make love or move to Athens?"

"Both, either, anything," I say, "Just lived our lives."

I got us through. We're together and alive and finally lovers. I love you so deeply, so intensely, that just thinking about it makes my body tremble. I was telling the truth when I said you made me, this strange new Xena that I've become. This Xena who speaks her heart, who shares her thoughts. I have been reborn through you yet again, and I'm not going to fail you this time. I promise.

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