Sanctuary March, 1998

by Lady Catherine

Sex/Violence: No violence this time. The story does depict the physical expression of love
between two consenting adult women. If you are under 18 or this is illegal where you live, do not
read it. If it might bother you in any way, you have been warned, so you're on your own.

Copyright: The characters of Xena and Gabrielle belong to MCA/Universal.

Dedication: I wrote this a few weeks before Lucy and Rob (a.k.a. the luckiest man in the world)
got married. Though I didn't have them in mind when I wrote it, I am dedicating it to them to
wish them a long, happy, healthy life together. I hope they find their own private sanctuary, away
from all the craziness from time to time. It's also dedicated to all of us. Lucy and Rob have
found each other, and Xena and Gabrielle will always find each other in my stories (sorry if that
ruins the ending for you). Here's hoping that the rest of us find what they each have, and never
settle for anything less.

Thanx: My thanx goes to Bobbie (B.S. Barber), Janet C. (Garnet), Bonn (Beaugrnt) and Laurie
for their keen editing eyes and words of encouragement.

Responses welcomed and encouraged at:

Looking back, I believe we had been drifting apart for some time. The occasions on which we
would actually talk were becoming less and less frequent. At that point it was as much my fault
as hers. We would go for long stretches with no interaction whatsoever before we had even
realized our neglect of each other. The irony is so clear now. We were both lost in thoughts that
owned us, thoughts that we feared and hid....thoughts of each other. Thinking back I wonder
why we never talked about it. Seems I remember wanting to, planning to... There was always
some distraction, some excuse... a village to save, an event to attend. We kept moving, kept
helping...kept avoiding. To be truthful, it was easier that way. The diversions were good reasons
not to face each other. When we did have time alone, our fears got the best of us. Or at least
mine of me. Would she hate me? Would she leave me? Is it worth losing my friend? It all seems
so silly now. Thanks mostly to that wonderful place....


We were covered with dirt after helping an innkeeper rebuild his business, burned down by a
drunken, angry customer. We were both desperately in need of a bath. At that moment,
inattentive to anything but the worries that invaded our minds, a bath was our only goal. We
proceeded in virtual silence.

The clearing seemed to appear before our eyes. Xena usually told me when we were approaching
our destination...yet the place seemed to be as much a surprise to her as it was to me. It was the
most magnificent place I had ever felt. That's the only way to describe it. It wasn't simply the
majesty of the mountains or the stark beauty of the lake and trees, but a feeling of peace and calm
that was almost tangible. It was as if my worries of only moments before had been stripped from
me. I tried to recall the thoughts that were distracting me, but they were somewhere just out of
reach in my mind.

I realized we had both been standing there, completely still, for a few moments. I turned my eyes
toward my friend, wanting to see if she felt it too, or if it was my sometimes overly dramatic
imagination. She felt it. I could see it on her face. Actually, it was more like what I couldn't see
on her face. It was free of all the worry, anger and concern that were a constant drain on her
beautiful features. None of it was there...and she looked completely stunning.

Surprisingly, despite their intensity, I had no desire to vocalize any of these observations of our
surroundings. I didn't want to ruin this moment. It was as if speaking would break the magic.
Our bodies remained still, drinking in what lay before us. It was like something had guided us to
this haven, its peace, which nourished parts of us we didn't realize needed healing. I felt a
connection to this place and to my friend. The connection had always been there with her, but
there was always so much in the way, so many reasons to ignore it, to run away from it, to deny
it. But not now. The place soothed me, rid me of everything but a feeling of absolute serenity. I
wondered if she was feeling the same. Just then, I felt her fingertips ever so lightly seeking out
mine. Our hands intertwined slowly, delicately, as the connection flowed through us and between

Since we had entered the clearing, all of our actions had occurred in absolute sync, without
words. It seemed like it had been planned and practiced forever. It felt as if something inside me
knew what we both should be doing, what we both were thinking and feeling. She was
experiencing the same sensations, I was sure of it. There had been no need for words. Still
holding her hand, I led her toward the lake. We still needed that bath, and I couldn't think of a
better place. We undressed and entered the water separately. As I entered, I was completely
refreshed, revitalized. Although there was a soothing nature about this refuge, there was also an
energy coursing through it, through us. We swam, we laughed, we relaxed, and just completely
enjoyed ourselves, in almost constant silence.

I looked at her from a few yards away. We both stood still, staring at each other, yet completely
at ease. We both knew it was time.

I swam under the water towards her. When I reached her, I placed my hands lightly on her hips
and guided myself upward to surface closely in front of her. I pulled her gently down so that we
were eye to eye, bodies submerged to the shoulders. I draped my arms loosely around her neck
as hers encircled my waist. We both stood, staring. Finally, I broke the silence.

Our faces were only inches apart. I could feel her breath on me. My eyes locked on hers, lost for
a moment in an indescribable blue. Her fingertips began to stroke my lower back, breaking me
from my trance. I looked deeply into those eyes and asked, "Do you feel it?"

"Yes."she replied softly, never taking her eyes from mine.

I needed to know the truth, to know if it was just the magic in our surroundings. "Is it just this

A slight smile crept onto her face. She took one hand from around my waist and stroked my
cheek with a wet thumb. "No. I've felt it forever."

I smiled and nodded slightly, conveying to her that I felt the same. I continued my inquiry,
needing words to reinforce what her eyes were telling me. "Are you afraid?"

Without hesitation, she admitted, "Yes."

"Do you want it to go away?"

She paused, her mouth slowly forming into a gentle smile. Her eyes sparkled, more beautiful than
the lake. "No. I never want it to go away."

My smile told her I felt the same. Opposite hands went to stroke each others faces, smoothing
hair, tracing lips, studying each other with our hands. We learned every feature that we had seen
every day over the past two years. We leaned in sync, brushing our lips softly together, lingering.
Our fingertips continued their curious explorations, still patient. I remember everything so clearly.
What I remember most is how absolutely soft her lips were. We continued our tender kisses for a
very long time, pausing occasionally, to admire the beauty we saw in each other. We both felt the
need to remind ourselves that it was real. It was. No dream of mine, awake or asleep, had ever
been this wonderful, this perfect.

With one last kiss we exited the lake and proceeded to make camp. There was no awkwardness
in the silence. There was simply an overwhelming feeling of peace and satisfaction. No words
were necessary.

The sun began to set. The play of light and the colors it created served to increase the beauty
around us. My love approached and sat behind me, pulling me close between her legs. Her arms
wrapped around and rested in my lap. I covered her forearms with my own, and held her hands in
mine. Leaning back, I rested my head against her shoulder. I felt her head rest lightly against
mine as her arms tightened slightly around me.

I felt her breath on my ear as she whispered, "Just want to hold this."

" too."

"I...I..." She started to say something, but couldn't. I felt her forehead come down to rest upon
my shoulder in frustration.

I turned my head awkwardly, trying to see her face."What is it, love?"

Her head came up slowly, revealing a brilliant smile and closed eyes. "Gods, hearing you call me
that feels" She continued softly, "I don't want to go any further right now. I
feel so peaceful, so perfectly content. I can't explain it. I just don't want to shatter the moment."

"No need to explain." I placed our right hands over my heart. "I feel the same."

Light touches and easy caresses continued until after the sunset. We curled up on our joined
bedrolls to welcome our first night together. We held each other long into the night. Neither of
us slept much. We simply looked at each other, comforted each other, feeling free to do so for
the first time. Without words, we both realized that we would have this forever.

The next morning we stood in the same location we were standing the day before, when Xena's
hand had found mine. We stared at our sanctuary, taking as much of it in as our senses could
handle. We regretted having to leave, but knew we had to in order for this place to remain
special, to be something to look forward to. We knew we would return to its tranquility... to be
cleansed, to be reminded, to give our thanks.

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