Disclaimer: This is a story of fan fiction based on characters owned by Universal/MCA. No profit is intended. The story includes in graphic detail a sexual relationship between two adult women. If this offends you, do not read it. This is a continuation of an earlier short story, "Betrayal". As always, your comments are welcome.
Carefully Xena made her way through the lush, verdant growth of the forest as she moved in the direction of the stream, following its sounds over rocks. As there was no path she made one as she went along, sometimes up and over undergrowth, always with long graceful strides. Birds high overhead broke the stillness. The early morning sun danced its way down to the forest floor casting a myriad of shadows through the trees. Xena moved carefully, in part due to the lack of a path, and in part because she felt somewhat confused. She could not remember where she was or why, only that she felt compelled to keep moving. There was no time to stop and think. She moved purposefully in the direction of the stream, following its sounds. Soon, as the water tumbling over the rocks grew louder she saw the thinning of the trees and quickened her pace, breaking free of the forest and into the clearing. The sky was a cloudless, brilliant blue. Orange and purple wildflowers bordered both sides of the stream. Xena scanned every direction but saw no one. This place was unfamiliar. She braced herself against a growing anxiety. Slowly she approached the stream, stooped, cupped her hands to freshen her face and sip the cool, clear water.
Where in Tartarus am I? And where is Gabrielle?
The sound of broken twigs startled her and in an instant the broadsword was unsheathed and extended. Her every sense went on full alert as she braced to respond to the unknown source of the sound. Instantly she spun completely around, surveying her position, only to find nothing.
Xena turned a second time, the sun reflecting brilliantly off the polished weapon. There across the stream, hands clasped in front of her, adorned in silk of the deepest red, stood a stunning woman of Chin. Xena's pulse quickened and she instinctively reconnoitered the area yet again. Far as she could discern, there was only she and Lao Ma in this strange and beautiful place.
Okay, now this makes sense. I'm dreaming. It's not real.
"You're right, my love, I'm here in your dream state." Her voice was just as Xena remembered, soft, melodic and completely irresistible.
"Lao Ma?" Xena whispered in disbelief.
"Yes, come to me. I cannot cross the stream, but you can." She made a gesture to extend her hand. "Please."
I'm not that gullible! Which god's amusement will I be sacrificed to this time?
"Xena, darling, I can hear your thoughts, and I assure you, you are safe. I have come to talk with you and thought it best to meet you in this way."
Xena again surveyed the area suspiciously yet saw no one. A cool breeze rippled the tops of the wild flowers into orange and purple waves.
Hades, if this is a dream, then it could be Lao Ma. On the other hand, what if ...
Slowly Xena lowered her sword and scrutinized this one who called herself Lao Ma. If she were not Lao Ma, Xena thought, she was her body double. The same luxuriant black hair, ebony almond eyes, delicate features, the way she stood with her right foot slightly in front of her left, one hand resting peaceably in the other at her waist. Suddenly a rush of emotion filled Xena.
"Lao Ma, is that really you?"
"Yes, my love." She laughed in the manner so familiar to Xena that a flurry of warmth instantly filled Xena's entire body. "Oh, Xena, I have missed you so." Lao Ma held out both arms again inviting Xena to her.
Xena sheathed her weapon and with uncharacteristic abandon made her way hurriedly over the rocks and into Lao Ma's arms. She lifted Lao Ma from the ground and twirled her around. Everything was the same, her feel, her scent, and in an instant all of the years and pain vanished. Time had ceased. When finally she opened her eyes, Xena could see the stains from her tears on Lao Ma's red silk wrap. Gently Lao Ma caressed her face, placing soft kisses on Xena's forehead.
Lao Ma gestured to a tree near the stream and they sat beneath it together in the soft grass. Xena took the woman's hands tightly. "I just want behold you, and fill myself with you. I've missed you so. There was so much I wanted to ...........it was too late when I got to Chin...........I......."
"I know. I know, my love." Lao Ma reassured her with soft caresses on her cheeks and a thumb lightly across Xena's lips. "Ssssshhhhh. All is well."
Xena leaned forward and tenderly brushed her lips against Lao Ma's. Delicately Lao Ma parted her lips to accept Xena's kiss, ever so light at first, and then increasingly intense. Xena then cradled Lao Ma's cheeks in her palms and Lao Ma could feel Xena's tears follow the same path down her face as her own. Xena was certain her heart would burst. Each enfolded the other in her arms until their mutual breathing and heart rates calmed.
Lao Ma spoke first. "Darling, I have come to help you. I know you are confused about the child and worried about Gabrielle..." Xena caught her breath and Lao Ma sensed the tightening in Xena's abdomen. "Please, my love, it's all right." Lao Ma carefully propped herself against the tree and Xena instinctively laid her head on Lao's shoulder. Lao then cradled Xena in her arms. Xena realized she felt completely safe. Lao Ma sensed this and continued. "Xena, the child you carry is a gift and belongs to both you and Gabrielle. Indeed, the essence of the child comes from the two of you. The birth of the infant is the fulfillment of the reconciliation of the dark and the light. The separateness of you and Gabrielle is only an illusion, Xena. You have always been one. These last years and the trials you have experienced have all been part of that process. Your love for Gabrielle has been the way for you, the way back to her and the light into which you were born. Gabrielle's love for you grounded and fulfilled her and returned her to the oneness she cannot realize without you."
Xena considered what Lao Ma said. "I believe this is good, good for us both, but haven't understood why. Gabrielle is so upset that she's left. She promises to return, and I believe she will...........eventually, but don't know who she'll be once she does. I think she'll be protective and committed because that's Gabrielle, but I fear that our love will have been lost. You know, Gabrielle can deal with chaos all around her as long as she has inner peace. She left, I think, in search of that. She loves me, but she is confused and uncertain."
"I know. That is why I have come to help you and Gabrielle. When she returns, tell her about our meeting and of what I have said here. Reassure her the child is of your essence, the fulfillment of your love, Xena. Then be patient, darling, and trust in the certainty that all will be well."
Xena could feel her own throat tighten at Lao Ma's words. "Then she won't really leave me?"
"Oh, Xena, no. Neither of you could ever leave the other. You are life longing for itself. It is an eternal imperative, Xena. Gabrielle inhales, you exhale. Yet it is a single breath. Can you consider the day without the night? Of course not. Is there comfort in the warmth of a summer breeze without remembrance of the biting winter cold? No. All are connected. Likewise, you and Gabrielle are one."
Xena could not guess how long she'd rested next to Lao Ma with her head on Lao's shoulder, when she moved and sensed Lao Ma's wakefulness.
"I'm still here." Lao Ma's voice was as soft and rich as everything else about her.
Xena lifted her head and kissed Lao Ma gently on the cheek. She felt a bit stiff from the position she'd been in for she didn't know how long and sat up.
"Let's walk." Lao Ma stood and offered her hand.
Xena rose and they strolled in silence, each relishing this time together. The sun was still high overhead when they stopped near the stream. Xena stooped and pooled the clear cool water into her palms, drinking and then washing the tears from her face. She stood and stretched lazily, turning to Lao Ma who had moved a few paces away to gather a handful of orange and purple wildflowers.
"Inhale." She offered the small bouquet to Xena.
"Ohhhhhh ..." Xena was pleasantly startled. "What is that?"
"It's ambrosia." She laughed softly taking in Xena's wide-eyed response.
"Didn't know ambrosia came from a flower, did you?" Lao Ma played with her teasingly waving the bouquet in the air.
"Uh, no. Oh, and it's so fragrant." Xena followed the bouquet with her eyes until Lao Ma handed it to her.
"Walk with me further, darling." Lao Ma invited her, taking Xena's free hand as she led Xena along the streamside. "I have a second message for you."
"Go on." Xena looked at her and felt curiously free of anxiety or fear. She was with Lao Ma. She was safe in every way.
"Xena, do you remember the lesson of the will?"
"Yes, 'give up will over others and you give up power. Give up will over yourself, and know the way.' It was among the first lessons you taught me. I have found the first easier than the second though." She laughed in the familiar manner Lao Ma had always found endearing.
"Good. Good." Lao Ma stopped and turned to the warrior. She reached for Xena's other hand and held them both gently in front of her. She looked up into the intensity of Xena's blue eyes, a world unto their own, Lao Ma thought to herself. "Then you must still your will, be patient and give Gabrielle the time she needs to return to you. Trust in her love for you that she will return. Quiet your impulse to go after her. Allow her to make her own way back to you and the new life you will share. Her return, of her own free will, will be the basis of your deepest peace.
"But I..." Xena began to protest.
"Darling, it's as complicated and difficult as you will it to be, or it can be as simple as intended."
"I...I don't understand."
"You and Gabrielle are in each other's lives for a purpose. You are eternal lovers, together now on this earthly plane. You have so much for each other yet need so much from each other. We are all incomplete in various ways. You and she complete each other. You cannot deny the passion between you and still fully realize your individual destinies. For years you focused on denying yourself because of your fear of intimacy and self-hatred and you failed to recognize you were denying Gabrielle, too."
Though she was certain there could be no tears left, Xena could feel the pools behind her eyes and the quaking in her abdomen as she struggled to control her emotion. Her hands, again in Lao Ma's, began to tremble. Lao Ma held them tighter.
"Tell me, Xena, what on this earth would you deny Gabrielle if you knew she needed it and it was within your power to provide?"
"Nothing." Xena answered without hesitation.
"Oh, Xena!" Lao Ma laughed aloud as she felt her deep love for Xena fill her heart to overflow. "In matters of the heart, you can be so obtuse!!! You still see only what you can tolerate. With your warrior heart you can do battle with a force ten times greater than yourself but you close your eyes to a love so great ... oh, what am I going to do about you? You do not fear death, yet at times you seem to fear life." Lao Ma paused and inhaled, gathering her thoughts and began again. "Then wait for her return. Trust life."
"I do love her with all my heart and soul, Lao Ma. She is my life. She and now the child."
"Lovely, isn't she?" Lao Ma gestured toward the stream. Her thoughts interrupted, Xena followed Lao Ma's cue and looked in the same direction. There was Gabrielle, picking the unusual orange and purple wild flowers. The breeze was enough that Xena could hear Gabrielle humming to herself. The desire that shot through Xena was so great she could barely stand. Lao Ma steadied her by placing her arm around Xena's waist.
"She loves you, Xena. And she needs you because she loves you. You have been through so much together. Welcome her when she returns. Fear nothing. You will always be together. Just as I promised you I would never leave you, she will never leave you, nor you her. It is intended. It is eternal. Accept love. Be happy, my darling." Xena felt Lao Ma's tender kiss on her cheek. She turned back toward Lao Ma only to find her gone. Xena instantly felt a sharp, intense pain which took her breath, the old familiar pain of loss and loneliness.
Xena turned. Lao Ma was nowhere to be seen, but suddenly Xena sensed her everywhere. The angst in her abdomen was replaced with a sense of sweet calm and warmth. Soft, melodious notes distracted Xena who looked again across at Gabrielle, arms filled with wildflowers.
"Gabrielle, Gabrielle!" Xena felt as if she were a child again, pushed her strong legs into the firm earth, and jumped the width of the stream. She landed solidly two feet from Gabrielle who turned in surprise. Xena watched as Gabrielle's green eyes twinkled and she opened her arms, allowing the bouquet to fall to the mossy carpet of the forest's edge.
"Xena! What are you doing in my dream?" Quickly Gabrielle closed the distance between them and threw her arms around Xena's neck.
Xena lowered her face to Gabrielle's cheek and kissed her with joy. She then took the small bard's shoulders in her hands and challenged, "Your dream? This is my dream!" Xena insisted with a broad grin.
Gabrielle answered Xena by reaching up to gather Xena's face in her hands. She traced the outline of Xena's mouth with her fingertips. "Oh, Xena, I always want you with me, awake or dreaming. I love you so."
Xena looked into Gabrielle's seafoam eyes and allowed herself surrender, this time without fear. "I love you, too, Gabrielle. I love you, too. Never doubt that."
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