A Case Of Mistaken Identity
Picture - #11
DISCLAIMER: Story mine, Characters not.
What had she done?
Gabrielle’s head lay on her arms as she contemplated the question. Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! She banged her head onto her wrist time and again.
Xena had picked the one time to read her scroll when she didn’t want it read and now she was paying the consequences for it. Why didn’t she just let her be to do her bardic thing like she always did?
Gabrielle took a deep breath and stood, bracing herself for the hurt she knew she would see in those amazingly blue eyes. Xena didn’t scream or yell, instead hiding behind her stoic exterior and hurt in silence. She had to make things right.
She collected her belongings and stepped out of the darkened inn into the sunlight, waiting for her eyes to adjust to the brightness. Now, if she were Xena which way would she go? The coastal village gave her one obvious choice so she mounted her horse and galloped off towards the cliffs.
As usual Gabrielle found Argo loosely tied to an overhanging branch. She smiled, safe in the knowledge that she knew Xena as only one in her position could… intimately. She dismounted and tied her horse next to Argo before going in search of her friend.
It was the rock outcrop near the cliff edge that caught her eye. No, it was the woman seated on a rock who had her attention. Xena’s arms were resting on her thighs as she looked out over the ocean. Gabrielle approached tentatively, not sure how to fix this.
Xena glanced over her shoulder at the sound of footsteps. “What do you want?”
Gabrielle heard the heartache in her friend’s voice. “I want to explain.”
“There’s nothing to explain.” Xena’s fingers tightened around the crushed scroll in her hand. “How long has this been going on?”
“Nothing has been going on.”
“Nothing?” Xena loosened her grip on the scroll and tried to flatten it out so she could read it aloud:
“My heart is aflutter with her nearness
My skin grows warm with her touch
I cannot deny my love for the woman
Whose golden locks frame a countenance
That sets my passion aflame.”
“‘Golden’, Gabrielle? Is…,” Xena took a deep breath, “Is it Ephiny?”
“I knew it. It wasn’t Eponin or Solari. It had to be Ephiny.” Xena muttered to herself. “When did this happen? No! I don’t want to know.”
“What are you talking about?”
“You’re in love with Ephiny,” Xena said stiffly.
“I love her as a sister, yes, but you’ve got it all wrong.”
“Wrong? I have it here in black and yellow!” Xena’s voice rose as she waved the parchment in the air.
“Whoa! Hang on there!” Gabrielle dropped to her knees in front of the seated Xena. “I do not love Ephiny. I love you, you dummy!”
“So you say…”
“Yes, I do say. Do you remember that time when you went fishing and I was chasing three naked Gabrielles?”
“Yeah,” Xena said guardedly.
“Remember how it all started? You said to stop writing about you and write about someone else?”
“So you decided to write about your love for Ephiny? That makes me feel a whole lot better!” Xena replied sarcastically.
“Xena! I was writing about you! I just changed the color of the hair, that’s all. You are my one and only love, in this life and the next.”
“You know I haven’t been writing much lately.” Gabrielle saw the slight flinch and continued. “But that’s my fault.”
“Don’t start that, Xena. It was always my choice, remember?” Gabrielle reached for Xena’s hand, feeling the slight tremor. “I don’t regret a moment of it. Do you believe me?” Xena refused to answer, silently staring at their clasped hands. “Xena! Do… you… believe… me?”
“Yes.” But there was doubt in Xena’s uttering.
“Anyway, I was afraid to pick up the quill again. I thought that maybe I had lost it.”
“But why the ‘golden locks’? Were you afraid to say something about me?”
“Xena, every stroke of my quill speaks of my love for you. I’m still coming to terms with how my life has changed… ”
“Before you take the blame let me finish. I’ve just got writer’s block, Xena, I was trying to… to…” Gabrielle stopped to think.
“Start with something easy, I can understand that. But ‘golden’?”
“Is that all that’s worrying you? Give me the scroll…”
“Get your hands off that!” Xena smacked Gabrielle’s hand as she reached for the parchment, finally grabbing the hand in her own.
“Change it. Don’t change it. Make up your mind, Xena! Look, I know we’ve both made mistakes during our life together, but there’s still a part of me that wonders at your magic.”
“I know, but it’s a part that I jealously guard and when I write about it I want to be sure that I get it right.”
“Because it’s all you have left?”
“Why are you trying to depress me?” Gabrielle didn’t really know what made her pick up the quill and try to write a Sappho poem… at least not until now. Maybe…
“You were frowning. Did you forget something?”
“Yeah, something very important.” Xena tried to let go so that Gabrielle could get up. “You don’t have to do that.” Gabrielle reinforced her words by holding on firmly. “I was wondering why I wrote that poem and I just realized why.” She tugged gently on Xena’s hand, drawing her down for an eager kiss.
“It’s been a while,” Xena murmured.
“Yeah, it has.”
“Let’s go find a room somewhere…”
“My thought exactly.” She snatched back the crumpled parchment and scanned the words written on it. “I was trying to write like Sappho but it’s not very good.”
“Maybe not,” Xena answered lovingly, “but it’s pure Gabrielle.”
Story by: AURELIA
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