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For several days now, the normally talkative bard had been very quiet and pensive. She did her chores allright and kept up with her warrior friend on their journey to Athens, but her thoughts seemed elsewhere. She could stare at the tall warrior with a sad look on her lovely face. Xena might have made fun of it many times before, but she had to admit it was awfully boring, without the bards' happy chatter. And it worried her, no it alarmed her! Once or twice she had asked Gabrielle what was bothering her, but the young woman had dismissed her and said she had to work something out and that she would tell Xena when she was good and ready. Xena had to make do with that. This realy must be no small issue her friend was struggling with!
It was a good thing the thugs they met on the way were an unorganised bunch. Xena could of course teach them a lesson with her eyes closed, but Gabrielle had not been any help at all.
Finally, one late afternoon, when they had set up camp, Gabrielle anounced nervously: "I think I'm ready, Xena, I need to talk to you".
Xena wisely dropped what she was doing and sat down against a log near the fire.
"Allright, Gabrielle, out with it", she said, with an anxious feeling in her stomach.
"It's not going to be easy for me, Xena. I've thought about it for a long time. I want you to hear me out and not say anything untill I'm trough. And I don't want to look at you."
Xena was more than a little concerned.
"Come here, you", she said and put one arm around the girl. Gabrielle settled her back against the warrior. Xena gently stroked the short blond hair and her narrow shoulders with the other hand.
"Now you shut up and listen untill I tell you to speak, okay?"
Xena didn't dare confirm, she just nodded. Gabrielle took a deep breath.
"You know I love you", she stated softly, staring into the darkening sky. "What you don't know is that I don't just love you like a friend." She paused. "These last few days I realized that I've fallen in love with you. Badly. It's been like that for months now and I won't grow over it." She paused again.
"You don't need a lovesick bard around. It is dangerous, I can see that. All I do is look at you and admire you when you walk or talk, and even when you fight or sharpen your sword, all I can think about, is how beautiful you are and how much I love you." Gabrielle sighed. "And how much I want you", she added in abarely audible voice.
Xena held her friend a little tighter. Silence hung between them.
"In a few days we are going to be close to Poteidea. That is where I will leave you. You can travel on to Athens, and I will find work at the tavern. I will tell stories about the adventures of …of the beautiful Warrior Princess and maybe even write a few poems about the woman I love... " She sighed again. "There, I've said it. Now you can talk."
Xena pulled Gabrielle close, but said nothing. Gabrielle didn't dare look behind her, not just yet. The bard waited, holding her breath.
"Xena?" she asked finally. Still getting no answer, she turned, to look right into the loving eyes of her warrior friend.
"Don't leave", Xena said in a husked voice. "Please don't leave".
"But Xena...?", the bard began.
"No Gabrielle, now it is my turn. I am not a woman of many words. But let me tell it to you my way". She turned the girl around in her arms and began kissing her face, slowly and tenderly, starting at the bard's eyes.
Gabrielle slowly felt the pain and the sorrow of the last few days melt away and relaxed into the strong arms of the warrior.
"Why ...?" Xena smothered the question in a long, warm kiss on the bards' lips. Gabrielles' heart jumped with joy but she still couldn't quite believe what was happening.
"Do you...?" she tried again, when the kiss finally broke.
"Shh...", Xena said. "Let me put it to you this way." And she kissed Gabrielle again, hungrier this time. Their lips parted and their tongues met passionately. Xena's hands trailed off to lower regions.
It must have been long after nightfall, the campfire had died out, but the two women hadn't noticed, when Gabrielle first regained her ability to speak. She finally panted with a satisfied grin: "I'll have to take that as a yes".
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