This is a true recounting of a tale told by Xena to me, the Roman Bard, Diana. I hope I have done it justice.
Prologue: taken from the scroll of the bard Diana.
The scene: Xena lies half on, half off a sleeping fur. She is nude but for the body of a second woman, also nude, with deep golden hair, swollen eyes and a very puffy face. The smaller woman has her body oddly wrapped around the warrior princess complete with the fingers of her right hand splayed between and within Xenas' eyes and ears. The positions of the fingers of her left hand will remain unspoken. Xena, looking up into the heavens, speaks softly to no one obvious.
Marcus, I know you can hear me, you told me that before, remember, the dead can hear the thoughts of those who love them? Yes, I do love you Marcus that has not changed. The type of love, the quality and quantity, by the gods Marcus, if I had only known! I am telling you this because I need to share this with someone or I will burst. I know this is perhaps odd that I should be telling you, of all people, but I do love you and I know you love me enough to be happy for me, so, here goes. Of course much of it is sketchy but I will start at the turning point of it all. Of course you know whom I am talking about don't you, yes, Gabrielle. You met her that time we were trying to get back the helmet. Yes, 5'4, golden hair, green eyes to die for? Don't laugh, its not polite, anyway it was not-
Part One: Chapter 1
It was not the blood that was making me wet, nor was it the rain. Somehow, in the back of my mind, I knew this. I remember the heat. I acknowledge the agony. It was a sharp, a white, searing pain. As I watched the blood that pulsed from my wounds I could still feel the smile form on my lips as I saw Gabrielle working, low in the dirt and mud, to crawl to me. Of course by then enough time had passed that there was little danger. Had there been, only terror would have been my death mask. At least I thought it was my death mask. There, I could watch as each thin thread, which held it hovering above me, snapped, thread by thread. It felt so strange. I wanted to just close my eyes, sleep, but I could not miss these last visions of Gabrielle
No, it was not the rain, nor was it the blood pulsing from my wound that was making me wet. Me, lying there, eyes which beheld the world before me without fear or judgement, and I felt the wetness and the pain of battle only as a fly walking on my leathers would feel. I knew it was there but not worth the effort of acknowledgement. What I noticed was the woman dragging herself towards me and the heat and wetness within me that it aroused. I was grateful that this was to be the world from which I floated, a world of heat and wetness and love. I remember my heart thanking Gabrielle for this, then nothing more.
Still to this day I have never asked how long I was out. I do remember climbing out, or rather being pulled out, by sensations I had only dreamed of before. First there were the voices. I knew they were far away, as if two, perhaps three thick oak doors were doing their best to keep a loud world quiet. I do not know. Still, as I felt my senses rising to the surface there was the bare hand on my bare skin. It reminded me again of the heat and of the wetness. This reminded me of my death and Gabrielle, my Gabrielle.
Yes, yes, I am here, she replied sobbing . Xena!
Yes, there it was- the heat, the wetness. Her hand searched my skin for life and spirit. Again I knew the smile on my lips, though faint, was there. I worked to open my eyes. My skin, where her hands sought life, burned. I had to stop her, she was killing me. She was calling me back to life, but a life that was only in my heart, not my physical world. I reached to stop her hand. Please, you're killing me, I thought. I heard her grasp. I felt her intake of air and her shedding of tears and I felt her breasts and her arms upon me. She leaned into me and I was smothered by her neck and her golden hair. I welcomed the smothering, come death, come. If this is my destiny, then in the arms of this woman, let it be here, now. Her hands and skin and tears washing over me, come now, hurry. I again fell into the bliss of heat. I knew living without this heat was not living. My heart, my soul, these were the injuries I feared most and could not live with. Gabrielle, take me or let me go. Suddenly I realized what a coward I was, mentally I screamed out my shame and anger with my self and then realized my eyes had opened and I was looking into the depths of my heart, my Gabrielle. She lowered herself more firmly onto me. My being was there with her. I let myself have the moment, the heat, and instead of falling to my death, I slept.
Again I was unclear of the time that passed but the world had settled. I was struck with surprise at my longing for the world of death; I missed the heat and wetness that was allowed there. Here, in the real world, the restrictions were too hard. Here, in this world of duties and honor, the rules were too painful. Though I had regained much of my physical strength, my will to go on in this world, ebbed. Strange, this feeling. My life now surprised me, shamed me, my weakness exposed and growing from such depths I was, for the first time in years, afraid for myself, my soul. I wept; there seemed little choice in the moment. I needed to work this out if I hoped to continue living as I had. Something had to change, no, it had changed everything had. I know it had been a long and slow progression. Actually I knew it had happened in an instant, a glance. It had been my acceptance of my feeling that was the slow drip of torture. Well, that was over now. That, if nothing else, was clear. Truly here was where my true warrior spirit would met its real test. Now, finally, a challenge which allowed me to regain the smile, and even a little of the heat. I opened my eyes, then my mouth, and called, Gabrielle
How are you? These were the words that tumbled from my lips, You OK? Her smile was beautiful, of course, and she tentatively reached for my hand and raised it to her cheek. I could see her eyes answer, 'Yes, now I am, I thought I might lose you but Thank the gods, she said loudly, then in a softer murmur, thank you Xena for coming back to me. We were silent. There was nothing to say. Not now anyway.
I felt no need to glance around my surroundings, I knew we were safe. I could hear the birds calling to each other, I could hear the stream that must have been close by and I felt a breeze which was soft and warm enter through the window. We must be further from the battle then I imaged, there was no smell of smoldering destruction here.
Sensations flooded into me but I pulled from them suddenly focusing on the face of the bard, no, the battling bard. Gabrielle, I need to eat, is there food here? I asked this to free myself from her presence. It was too much. I am too weak not to speak the words I long to speak. The questions I long to ask. I was too weak to get up and leave myself, so perhaps I could gather my strength and resolve during her absence. Of course! she said as she hopped up to gather a meal for me. Thank the gods, I muttered to myself, thank the gods.
It was very strange to feel so weak. My body was racked but that was different then weak, I could live with that. This weakness in my heart, in my mind and soul, this was what worried me. This was not who I am or how I live. What is happening to me? I turned my face away from the open door when I realized tears were falling from my eyes. What's wrong? I heard her voice before her movements towards me, Xena, what's wrong? I could not send her away, so I lied, nothing, don't worry, I'm fine, just tired I think. Of course I was not lucky enough for her to believe me. She put the tray down and tried to look into my eyes. I would not allow this. I could not. More tears flowed. I hated my weakness, my lack of control. I tried to turn further away from her frightened eyes. Gabrielle please, leave me now, it will pass, please. Gabrielle sat and pulled me towards her. Cupping my body within hers, she hummed and stroked my hair.
I don't remember falling asleep but when I woke she still held me, stroked me, humming an old tune I remembered from childhood. She must have felt the change of my breathing, for she spoke. Xena, you can not leave me, swear it, now! You swear it! Do you hear me? Now! Her voice was angry. Her fears soften the edges while making the words all the more poignant. I'm sorry Gabrielle, I said, I can't promise that. You know I love you. We are best friends, soulmates. Never doubt that. I love you; you are my destiny, but . No buts! the words burst from her lips, I could tell the force of them surprised even her. We both laughed, tensions loosening just a little. The movement reminded me of my tortured body and the tears that flowed were mixed this time. You don't understand. My lips formed the words though I did not hear the sound. The bard heard them though; this was clear from her face. What don't I understand Xena? Please tell me. Not knowing is the worst thing, I know something is wrong, terribly wrong, talk to me. Her words were so soft, no, they were not words but a plead.
Gabrielle I said her name as I met her eyes and continued. How I feel is too much for me right now. I am swimming in emotions I never expected, never wanted. Each time I awake from the purgatory which I have been in I wake to the same fear, the same desire, and I need to work these things out in my own heart, my own time. Please, try to understand. Gabrielle took my hand and said, have you ever considered that I might have some fears, some desires within my heart, my soul too? Have you ever considered I might be living in a similar purgatory? Have you the power or strength to remember these past 20 months since you saved me from those slave traders? That the dilemma might also be going on within me?
Xena, during your illness you spoke to me. You told me things I do not think you accept even now. Still, as I sat beside you I heard the words I have been longing to hear since the first time my eyes fell into yours. No, don't speak, she placed her fingers across my lips. I don't take your words as anything other then what they were. You were dying, weak with fever. You must know Xena; I never left your side. Such was my longing for those words to come and wrap me together with you. When you called my name I too became weak, but for me it was wonderful . Her eyes lowered as she spoke her next words softly. Xena, you are my heart. If you should ever leave me, wherever you go, I will follow. You know this. What you may not know is that I ache to be with you. There are sensations within me that I too have never felt. No, you don't need to speak but I must. I have felt you turning from me at a time I am beginning to realize how much more I need to turn towards you! This is new for me, as I suspect it might be for you too. I can only hope you might have similar feelings. I can only hope you might be happy to hear the words of my heart. Since this last battle, seeing the life flow from you yet recognizing the beautiful smile on your lips when you saw me coming towards you, I realized how my love for you has grown, and how it has changed. I hoped your smile might mean the same adjustment has taken place in your heart. You needn't tell me now. It is not the time, I know. Perhaps my telling you while you are still so weak is not fair. Forgive me, forgive my selfishness, I just had to tell you. At this Gabrielle opened her mouth and then, changing her mind, stopped. She saw my tears despite my turning away. She brought her hand to my face and caught them as they fell. I turned towards her and she embraced me. We exchanged no words, only heartbeats.
Though it had been over a moon there is
little I remember. I do remember the healing. Strength gained in slow steps
at first then more steadily. Argo was being well tended to by a gentle stable
boy, and though she was content I guessed her restlessness would be growing
each day. Gabrielle and I felt the same. We had not yet spoken of my first waking
days but our lives were full of peace, of harmony. Gabrielle worked on her scrolls,
her staff, her being. I worked on my strength, my wellness, my being. We were
good; it was wonderful. We were looking forward to regaining both our mobility
and our lives. There were no regrets or worries. This was a time of healing
What is it Gabrielle? I asked as she rushed into the room. Xena, the healer has freed you! Of course we will need to build your strength back up, but we can begin the process. Isn't that wonderful? She bent down and embraced me. I could feel her soft lips brush the hollow of my neck, her hand brush and gently squeeze my arm. Again heat and wetness flooded me, but I remained still and silent. That's, great! I replied, I feel it's time too, I'm ready! She held me for just a moment longer and when she pulled back there was only joy in her eyes. This was so nice I smiled up at her and said, I bet Argo will be ready to leave soon too, she must be just as restless! She squeezed my hand and nodded, yes.
Another half moon passed and we began our preparations to go. There were no plans before us, we simply decided to head east, towards my favorite fishing spot with fields and mountains and peace. Our hopes were unspoken and I sensed neither of us held any expectations. This was a wonderful time for me.
Gabrielle, thank you for helping me though these past moons, you were, well, I have no words You're welcome Xena, it was my joy to share this time with you, I feel so much stronger, so much clearer. I should be thanking you!
Our silence as we walked embraced us, was our friend. Each day we walked, leading Argo, and I could feel my muscles, vigor and enthusiasm wax with each step. Sometimes I was forced to stop and breath, my heart would be so full it felt my chest could not gather air. During this time I found myself with a smile, both on my lips and in my heart. I did not seek reasons; just the living of it all was enough.
We arrived and set up camp near the lake. We built two fire pits, one near our bedrolls, one for cooking and smoking the many fish I was certain we would catch. This was not only a luxury but also a subtle statement of commitment. We wanted time here. We were homesteading, for however long it took. Took to do what, I did not yet understand. It felt so strange not to have a goal, not to have a purpose. This was not 'my way' yet it was, none the less, my current path. I decided to walk on and discover what lessons might unfold. This was not my old nature, but who and what I seem to be evolving into, the new me now. I was curious. I felt like a child, not a warrior. I was waiting to see if I was losing my self or simply adding to it. My gut told me if I allowed myself this time of discovery I would be a better Xena. My gut told me this was also an important time for Gabrielle. This was not so much about our love, rather about our souls. It seemed ok to be so gentle.
I walked over and spent the next candle drips brushing Argo. There was nothing more important then that in this moment. Gabrielle was gathering wood. We were organized and soon fishing for our dinner would be the most important thing in the world. By the time dinner was cooking Apollo had already returned home and only the flames licking our movements existed. My heart was expanding. The ache in my jaw from the beauty of it all made eating difficult. Gabrielle looked over at me with soft eyes, she reached out with her hand to cover mine. I turned to face her and with my other hand reached to stroke her cheek. Ready to sleep? I asked. Um, she replied. We rose, rinsing our dishes in the lake, taking a quick bath afterwards and laid down near the second fire. This is wonderful, we both said at the same time, with the same release of breath and emotion. We laughed and said our goodnights. Sleep came easy that night. I could hear Argo nearby and this was the only thing in my head as I withdrew from the world.
My body was becoming stronger each day. Both my physical and mental states were feeling normal again. The smile of wellness filled me only as one who looses everything might experience. Gabrielle and I were closer then ever. Nothing was hanging over us. Although we had still not spoken any words about these feelings within us, the feelings were known and not feared. I knew the time was drawing near for this to change, but somehow I also knew I needed to be my self again before anything real could take place. It was clear to me Gabrielle understood this too. Although there was no pressure involved, I could definitely feel anticipation growing. I felt it in my own heart and I could see it in the gentle smiles on the bards' lips. I felt we were like children knowing that the circus would soon be coming into town. There was a promise involved. A promise we both knew would be kept in time and we were so very patient. I smile at the thought of it all now.
I rode Argo hard for the first time in too many moons and it felt good. The wind we made, the sweat, the smells, I knew I was alive and whole again. Without any conscious decision, a decision was made. I was myself and I was ready for the evolution to take place. My guess was that Gabrielle was ready too. I decided to ask her if I was right. I decided to ask her if she was ready to love me with not only the warmth of love but its' heat. My heart pounded in my chest and Argo could not speed home fast enough for me now that the decision had been made.
I think I scared Gabrielle as we flew in like a bat out of tartarus. What's happening Xena? she cried as we came into camp. I smiled down at her and said, I have decided something. Here, come with me before I brush Argo down, let me tell you my heart and then you can think about it. When Argo is done we can really talk. I am ready, I think you might be too. Here I put out my hand, smiling as she gave me hers, and we sat by the lake.
Gabrielle had no fear in her eyes, just a hint of curiosity and a smile. Yes, what a wonderful idea, I would like that every much. I am ready for this too. I am so happy that it is you bringing it up. I am so happy Xena. Please, go on.
Gabrielle, I began, my heart is filled with you. In the past this filling was there but I kept it in a conditioned state. This is no longer possible for me as the love I feel is out of my control. The love I feel is unconditional. Before I felt bound by something, I'm not sure what. Society, norms, fear for your safety, I can not really label it but I no longer hold any of these things as exclusive. I do not understand the change in me, but my love for you is no longer bound, in fact it is boundless. This is how I want, no, how I need to live. I want to touch you, feel you and be felt in return. My love for you fills me with desire to be one with you. Now this might feel like I am expecting something from you but this is not the case. This is unconditional. Of course it would be wonderful if you wanted me as much as I want you but.. Gabrielle looked into my eyes and said. Yes, this is the way of my heart too. I believe Xena that if we were to wait much longer my heart would break. We are here, now, and as I sit with you so close to me my skin, my very pores, are reaching out for your touch. I really don't feel like we need to talk about this after you finish with Argo. Why don't you take care of her, we can eat and just go from there. If I touch you now Argo will be angry with both of us, and that is never good. I will try to keep myself busy. I have already caught dinner but there are many chores yet to be done and this will free us later. I'll tell you something Xena that I feel a little embarrassed about, but if you don't go now I will not be able, or willing, to let you go for a very long time, so
I jumped up, reaching my hand out to help her up and gave the bard a very swift kiss right on her lips. I stroked her fine cheekbone and escaped towards Argo. Later my love I called over my shoulder and a rise of color flushed us both.
It was my need to be with Gabrielle that kept me longer with Argo. I don't understand why, but I do know it is true. I could feel the young bards glances, I could hear her humming just a little louder then usual and all I could do was smile. Finally when I glanced at her the forth time she was standing there, one fine hand on her hip, looking as though she was about to head our way. I finally put Argos' things away and looked out across the lake, deep in thought. I heard, then felt her voice, her breath. Are you afraid Xena? she asked. Concern was on her breath, mixed with her own fear, so I shook my head indicating, No. I was just thinking my love. Life, yours, mine, will never be the same, you know that don't you? Yes, it is my greatest longing Xena, this, now more then ever, is what I need, have needed, for so long. Please
I turned towards her, looked into those deep green eyes and brought my lips down, a breath from hers. We froze in time and space, only breath mixed, warmed, exchanged. To say my heart beat wildly in my chest, to say my soul exploded and was reborn, to say my knees sagged and my world shattered would not do the moment justice. I could feel Gabrielle as she leaned into me. I could feel Gabrielle as she slid her arms around my waist and rubbed her body into mine. I could feel Gabrielle as she moved that expanse of a hair so that our lips met and the world, as I had known it, ended.
So Marcus, that's about it. Yea, I know, what about all the juicy bits um? Well, my friend that's the thing of it. There were no juicy bits it was all juicy. Every particle, every follicle, every pore, curve and mound, it was incredible, I blush at the thought of it even though it has barely been a candle mark or so. Do you remember Marcus when I told you about the bard called Diana outside of Rome? Remember I told you how deeply her poem, her song affected me? The one about the change her life went through when she finally experienced true love and the finding her soulmate? I am sure I would have mentioned it to you since she reminded me back then of how much you meant in my life. The kind of changes we would have been willing to go through for each other, and why. Of course that was a different time and place oh Marcus, please be happy for me, you know, I'm sure you are, you are that kind of ..
At that moment Gabrielle turned her head nuzzling more deeply into Xenas neck. Her face came across a trail of her own drool and she gasped up in surprise, rising herself on her right hand and ever so slightly raising up her left. A bolt shot through Xenas groin and her hips bucked in reflex. By the Gods, Gabrielle, watch what you're doing .
Oh Xena I'm sorry I, Xena, um Sing the song, the verse.
What verse Gabrielle?
The one Diana wrote.
I didn't know
You just told me
Ah, I see, ok. Xena gathered the bard in her arms, nestled her lips into the top of Gabrielle's head and softly sang, I've been changed, I think it was the tone of your voice when you said you loved me, you loved me .
Hum, that's nice, and true, isn't it Xena?
Yes my love, yes oh yes, yes .
Fade to black as the battling bard uses that renegade left hand for purposes other then applauds.
FIFTH YEAR ANNIVERASY OF THEIR JOINING
(One year after season 6 China fiasco.)
Two women, one leaning against a fur draped saddle, the other leaning against the first woman, between her legs. A soft conversation is in progress.
Xena, why do you say my name like that?
I've told you this before Gabrielle, you remember; the love, the soft strength, the mantra which is so you?
Yes, but I love the way you say it and how you explain it to me, over and over again so patiently, well, it warms me to the marrow.
I'm glad my love, hey, what do you think of the bards scroll, a nice gift, um?
Yes, but it makes me wonder where Diana got the details.
Oh Gab baby, don't be mad, there aren't that many details
That's the point! That was a fantastic night and it seems so, well, so tame.
Baby, anyone who knows us will know there was nothing tame about that night. Hey, after that whole China fiasco and, what did our clones call ALTI? The Maybelline cover Girl?
Yea, I think that was it, do you think that's just a longer version in the 21st century for the word that we called her?
Looking at each other they said in unison, The Bitch! They chuckled and continued.
Well Xena, she sounds like she is still a bitch but she did help us out by that whole clone thing, right?'
Yea, I guess you're right. Them and those videos and of course the infamous slip about the time machine . That was the break they needed to make the whole thing click.
Do you really think you would have left me alone in China?
You know Gabrielle I have given that a lot of thought. After our clones told us the whole story and how it ended up messing up so many lives and made you so miserable . What was it your clone said Gab? There was no way she was going to let her past self wander aimlessly around hot dirty old Egypt with just that 'flying round killing thing' clipped to her instead of a love meant for a lifetime? Yea, I think that was how she put it
Well Xena, she is my clone, she knows how I feel about you, what did you expect?
I don't know Gabrielle, they know about cars and time machines and videos and something about seasons 1 through 6 but she doesn't know the chakram? Explain that to me!
Xena, I think she was teasing you. By the way, what's a car?
I don't know honey, but it sounds really great, and Red!
Hum. So what matters is that they saw the videos, found out about the time machine, figured how to hang in those ice caves so they did not get to old to meet up with us right before the monk found us to bring us to meet up with Akemi again. I still can't believe you taught her the pinch Xena! That really hurt me!
Get over it Gabrielle. Remember that was just on the TV, I told you I didn't really teach her that. I knew it would be trouble. I was right, see? Besides we just tumbled like bunnies, that's all. I got the ransom and went on my way with Borias. The rest of it was simply wrong. I thought we went over this all before. You know I could never love anyone but you so much that I would do all the things the clones told us about. You know better then that Gabrielle. Especially back then in my good ol' bad ol' days It was all Altis' doing Gaby we know that, her fingers stirring the pot, so to speak. The biggest dreamscape ever. Even our clones were confused, why not everyone else. That 'Maybelline Cover Girl is good baby, way too good. It worries me.
Yes, but why did they say
Gabrielle, it doesn't matter what anyone may say. We know how we live our lives remember they implied all that stuff about you and Joxer. And the stuff about you and Aphrodite of course if she had looked anything like the picture they showed us Yea, she was a babe
Remember they never said anything about us, being lovers and all, I mean baby, how could they leave that out?
You're right Xena, anyway, we are fine, our clones are fine, I am working to organize the truth in my scrolls and with all the other bards like Diana helping, it should be alright. That thing about me betraying you to the Green Dragon, who would believe stuff like that?
I don't know baby
Anyway Xena, I don't understand why the whole China thing went so wrong, that they could take that beautiful head off, well, I never!
I think, Gabrielle, sometimes people get tired and want an excuse to end something I think Salmoneus did something like that when he got bored selling those pots and pans; he turned them to rust so he wouldn't have to sell any more, remember? It is our life, love, why would anyone else really care anyway. Six years of glory is more then most get, admit it. The actresses they had playing us were really hot too, you gotta love that
Well anyway, I still can't believe no one noticed the switch? Did you notice the ribs on your clone Xena? I didn't think you had so many! Yea and mine was cute, but did she seem just a little butch to you? Do I come off like that? Tell me the truth here Xena, it wasn't a bad thing, I just never noticed .
Gabrielle, lets step back. You were asking if I really would have stopped you bringing me back, remember? You know it seems strange to leave you over something done by mistake. It also seems odd that 40,000 people burned to death when they lived on the waters' edge, or am I confused? Remember, none of this actually happened but wow, what a fantastic story! It almost feels like it was some karma catching up to them and I was simply an instrument of some kind I don't know, it just feels so odd. It was not an honest response. It seemed more of a manipulation of some kind. Anyway I am glad our clones had things figured out so well that they were able to meet back up with new lives in Florida, where ever that is.
Xena, what are computers and chips?
I don't know for sure Gab, but I think the chips are something cows make. You can burn them for fuel or use them to grow things .
Oh. I think your clone said people eat them too!
I don't know, that's a very modern idea I guess, I don't think Anyway, we are together, our clones are tucked away in a safe place; with wind, a beautiful land with ocean, fish, chips and lots of dinars so it seems all turned out for the best. It's strange this whole China thing caused such an outrage in the future though. Funny to think our lives will be meaningful even then. I guess you were right about the scrolls honey, thanks for keeping such good track of our adventures .
Xena and Gabrielle looked into each others eyes. Gabrielle turned to face Xena as arms, lips, and groins merged. Xena looked into those deep green eyes and brought her lips down, a breath from Gabrielles'. They froze in time and space, only breath mixed, warmed, exchanged. To say hearts beat wildly in their chests, to say their souls exploded and were reborn, to say their knees sagged and their worlds shattered would not do the moment justice. Xena could feel Gabrielle as she leaned into her. She could feel Gabrielle as she slid her arms more tightly around her waist and rubbed her body into hers. She could feel Gabrielle as she moved that expanse of a hair so that their lips might met and their world, as they had known it, might end- when Gabrielle pulled back and asked, Xena, what's a video?
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