Summary: Xena ponders the progression of her relationship with Gabrielle. This is a first time story taking place just after The Quest.
Subtext: Yes. There is most definately subtext in this story.
Author's Note: There is more to this story than just a sex scene between Xena and Gabrielle but there is a sex scene. It's not explicit, or all that graphic but it's not for the kiddies either. Mature audiences only.
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I never started out wanting her. But it appeared that I needed her. She saved my life, after all. Me, a warrior. She a young village girl. Yet, she stood for me in front of my townspeople and saved my life. And so I let her stay.
It was a decision I was never quite sure of. There were so many times I thought about going back on it but then something would happen and she would prove to me, once again, how much I needed her. She was young and idealistic and she became my moral compass.
More than that, she made me feel like a person again. She treated me with a compassion I knew I did not deserve and a kindness I didn't quite know what to do with.
It seemed like a fair trade though, because she needed me too. She needed someone to take her away from the life she had been born into. Someone to protect and defend her while she travelled around collecting stories and experiences.
I didn't realize that I wanted her until it was too late. Until I had lost her. Even now I can still feel that moment of panic when she told me she was leaving, going to Athens to become a bard. I knew that it was the right thing for her. This life, our life, was not for her but still I wanted her to stay.
Without my really being aware of it she had become a true friend, not just a traveling companion and the salve for my soul but someone I enjoyed spending time with and genuinely liked. I said nothing though and let mer make her own decision.
I guess there was a part of her that wanted me too though, because she came back. She always came back. That time when she left for Athens wasn't the only time she left me. There were others and every time I pushed my feelings aside and tried to be a good friend. Even if it meant losing her. I never wanted her to feel obligated stay with me.
And somehow my feelings for her developed into something different. A whole new kind of wanting. I can remember the exact moment it happened.
A rainy summer evening. It had been raining hard all day and as evening encroached everything was still dripping wet. I didn't think I was ever going to find place dry enough to camp. A small patch of land under an outcropping of rocks in an old riverbed. There was just enough room for a fire and our bedrolls, with one minor adjustment. Instead of sleeping on opposite sides of the fire we would have to sleep side by side. Or else one of us would be out in the muck. So we laid our bedrolls out side by side. She against the inner wall, me beside the fire. We went about our normal evening routine the same as always and then lay down for sleep.
I woke in the middle of the night to find Gabrielle practically wrapped around me. Her head was resting on my shoulder, her warm breath tickling my neck. One arm was draped across my stomach, her hand resting against my side.
That wasn't what was surpising. She'd done it before. There had been other occasions when the two of us had to sleep close together, inns with only one bed or cold nights when our combined body heat would keep us warm. And every time I would wake up at some point in the night to find her cuddled against me. So, finding her curled up next to me was not what surprised me. It was her knee that did. One of her legs was draped across mine, her knee lodged securely between my thighs. And every time she shifted in sleep, which was often, it drove itself up against me and my body responded in a way that was natural and familiar and very, very unexpected.
I had never thought of her like that before. I had always thought she was beautiful. But I had never been attracted to her, physically before. Until that moment.
And after that moment I couldn't stop thinking about her. I'd notice things that I'd never given much thought to before. The silky smoothness of her hair, the softness of her skin, the fullness of her lips. I noticed the developments her body had gone through since we'd started traveling together. The plump, roundness of her breasts, the smooth flatness of her stomach and the curves of her hips, accentuated so nicely by her latest traveling skirt.
I wanted to run my fingers through her hair and caress that velvety soft skin. I wanted to kiss those lips, and those breasts and down that tanned, toned stomach and continue on to what I knew lay beneath her skirt.
I never said a word to her about it. I couldn't. For all her development and maturing in the two years we'd been traveling together she was still a young, innocent village girl. One who fell for every good looking boy we came across.
I wasn't going to burden her with my desires. I wanted her body. But I wanted her friendship more.
She didn't exactly make it easy for me though. By nature, she was someone who used touch, she was always grabbing my hand or my arm or my shoulder when she wanted my attention or to make a point in conversation. Not to mention the hugs, the back rubs and the way she used me as a pillow, back rest or arm rest. Two years of travelling together had lowered the boundries of personal space that generally existed between two people and Gabrielle had no hesitation in using my lap for a pillow, my thigh for an arm rest or my shoulder as a back rest if it was convenient for her.
It had taken me awhile to get used to but I'd stopped minding long ago. I couldn't exactly stop her without raising questions and having to explain so I subjected myself to her exquisit torture.
And to be fair, there was more to it than just the sexual. I'd started to enjoy the warmth and companionship of it myself. A simple hug at the end of a long day could work wonders on a tired soul. I felt contented when she was curled up next to me, head resting against my thighs as she worked on her scrolls and I fixed a piece of Argo's tack or my armour.
But those feelings were always there, somewhere, lurking. Waiting for her to move a certain way and bring them forth.
It was a price I was willing to pay to continue traveling with her though. And my instincts about keeping my feelings to myself were confirmed when she decided to marry Perdicus.
Standing beside her in that chapel, watching her take her vows and prepare to leave with her husband were the worst moments of my life.
Knowing that she was going to do with Perdicus what I had been longing to do with her for months now was torture. He would get to touch her, kiss her, hold her in a way that I never would be able to.
It was then that I realized that I loved her.
It took every inch of will power for me not to ask her to stay with me. But I didn't. I pushed my feelings down and gave her my blessing, knowing that this was the kind of life she was meant for.
That time when she came back to me, I felt guilty for my happiness. A good man had died so she could return to to my side once again.
Before I really had a chance to examine this, I died. Hanging on that cross in Tartaurs reliving every mistake I'd made,or bad deed I'd done, listening to the thoughts of every person who I'd hurt there was one person who's thoughts stood out from the rest. And I knew I had to go back. She needed me. She loved me.
So, I came back. It's been almost a week now and we haven't talked about any of it. Not my death nor her feelings for me. Or the kiss.
The kiss. My lips still tingle from where they brushed hers, ever so lightly, before I faded out. It was supposed to let Gabrielle know how I felt about her but I don't know if she understood. I lost control and Autolycus took over.
So now I sit beside her by the campfire, watching from the corner of my eye as the dancing flames cast shadow and light across her features. She has a scroll open in front of her, quill poised between her fingers but she has not written a word since dinner. She has been staring off into space with that faraway look she gets whenever she is deep in thought.
I've been wating for the perfect opportunity to broach the subject but none has arisen yet. Maybe there is no perfect opportunity.
"Gabrielle." The word is out before I have even consiously come to a decision.
"Hmmm?" She turns her head to look at me.
"I love you too."
For a moment she simply stares at me, then her eyes, hazel in the firelight mist over and the warmest, brightest smile I have ever seen lights her face. The next moment she is in my arms, or maybe I am in hers. I can feel the heat of her breath against the side of my neck and the warm wetness of tears on my skin. I wrap my arms around her, pulling her tightly too me as she clutches convulsively at my leathers.
"I'm sorry I didn't tell you sooner," she whispers into my neck. "I always thought that we'd have more time. That-"
"Gabrielle," I interrupt her gently. "It's okay." Gripping her shoulders I ease her away from me so we are face to face.
"It's not okay," she protests. "I could have lost you forever and you had no idea-"
"But you didn't lose me. I'm right here," I point out, reaching up and wiping the tears from her eyes. Our eyes meet and hold for a moment then, slowly I slide my hand around to cup the back of her head and gently pull her forward.
Our lips meet, brushing together faintly, more of a tease than a touch and then they meet again. And again. The kisses deepening with each contact. And then my tongue is in her mouth, and she welcomes it with a faint moan.
The need to breath eventually forces us apart. Gabrielle gazes up at me, dazed and grinning.
I am sporting an identical grin. And I'm guessing that my expression is equally as dazed.
Then her lips are on mine again, and I am lost in the warmth of her breath and the softenss of her lips against mine until once again the need to breath makes itself known and we part once again.
With a soft sigh Gabrielle settles herself against me. I tighten the grip of my arm around her waist and tip my head to capture her lips once more.
In the past, I have always been attracted to people of power. It held a sort of challenge for me, to see if I could dominate them, have them bend to my will. I enjoyed the tactical excercise as much as the physical. But there is just something about the way Gabrielle looks at me, that combination of desire and earnest affection in her eyes that effects me like nothing else ever has.
She is not very experienced. And she lacks sexual confidence. It took me two days to get her past just kissing me on the lips. Though, demonstrating the other places that she could also kiss me was fun. I thought she was going to pass out, she started breathing so hard when I nibbled on her earlobe. And when my hand brushed against her breast she practically levitated out of my arms. But she is inquisitive by nature and a fast learner. Her hesitant progression of kisses and caresses is actually turning out to be enjoyable.
I'm letting her set the pace, not pushing for any more than she is ready to give. The funny thing, I don't even mind. I definately want to make love to her. More than I've ever wanted anything else in my life but I'm enjoying the slow build up to it. The almost adolescent courtship progression. A lot of kissing, some caresses and a lot of cuddling.
We spend most evenings together by the fire, after dinner has been made and the clean up finished and all our other chores have been completed we settle together on the bedrools, lying or leaning against Argo's saddle in each other arms. She fits quite snugly against my side, as if our bodies were designed to fit together.
Tonight is one of those nights. We are lying on the bedroll, staring up at the stars, which are out in clear view. Gabrielle is lying on her side, her head on my shoulder, flyaway wisps of hair tickling my chin as I hold her close with an arm wrapped around her waist. She has one hand wrapped around my bicep, the other is resting on my stomach, tracing idle patterns on my leathers.
"I love you."
"I love you, too."
"I'm sorry it took me almost losing you to be able to say it."
"Stop saying it's okay, because it's not okay," she interrupts me fiercely. Her hand stops tracing patterns on my stomach and lies there firmly. "I took you for granted. I got caught up in living my adventures and I just always assumed you would be there. I never made an effort to tell you how much I valued our friendship. How much you meant to me." Her words are rapid fire and jumbled some of them running together and becoming almost nonsensical. She has obviously been working herself up about this for some time. "I'm sorry."
I didn't realize until she said the words how much I needed to hear them. Her actions had hurt me but I'd assumed responsibilty for them because I'd never told her how I felt. And then once I'd learned the truth I told myself that it didn't matter anymore because we were together now. But to have her apologize, to recognize her part in this soothed something inside me that I hadn't even realized needed soothing.
"You're forgiven," I say softly, truthfully and turn my head to brush my lips against the top of her head.
Snuggling closer to me she lets out a soft sigh. A moment later I feel feathery kisses being brushed along my collar bone. I tilt my head back, extending my neck and offering her easier access. She takes it, trailing kisses up the side of my neck, stopping to nibble on my earlobe for a moment then continuing along my jawline. I turn my head as her lips inch closer to mine, parted and waiting to receive her. When her lips close over mine the touch is light and sweet.
"Mm," Gabrielle murmers as we pull apart. "I used to dream about doing this," she whispers.
"Really?" This is news to me.
"Mmhmm. Especially after...after Bacchus." I can feel the warmth of the blush that rushes to her cheeks as she admits this.
I close my eyes and remember how it felt to be a bacchae. It had certainly been a sensual experience.
"But, you thought about it before?" I ask gently, the use of "especially" hinting that might be the case.
A moment of silence then a nod. "Yes. I was always attracted to you. I mean, by the gods Xena, you're gorgeous."
Another revelation. Not that I am physically attractive. Not to be arrogant but I am well aware of my looks but that Gabrielle had been effected by them.
"I didn't think I had a chance with you. I'd seen your type."
"Yeah. Tall, broad, muscled. Male," she ads cheekily. "Hercules. Marcus. Ares."
She does, I admit, have a point there.
"I thought it was just a crush. And I mostly ignored it. Then, I became a bacchae and it..it stirred up something inside me. I started thinking about you more, in that way."
"I had no idea," I admit. And I feel bad about that. I can't help but wonder how things would have worked out if we'd both been a little more honest about what we were thinking.
"It doesn't really matter now though, does it?" Gabrielle murmers, once again bringing her lips up to mine.
I suppose it doesn't.
I'm not sure if I say the words or merely think them.
As her tongue parts my lips, seeking and being granted access, I let my hands wander, caressing the smooth, silky skin of her shoulders before gliding down her back and along her sides my fingers sliding along the faint protrusions of her ribs. She moans softly against my lips and shifts closer. Her hand splays across my stomach, massaging gently through my leathers before sliding upward and resting against the underside of my breast. The contact sends shivers coursing through my body, but does not sustain them. It's not enough. My body craves more. I gently take her hand in my own and slide it upward so she is cupping my breast and then I press down. Her touch remains light for a moment after I move my hand away then slowly gains weight. As the kiss deepens she begins to knead me and the shivers return with more force.
Her lips leave mine and begin travelling down my neck, across the base of my throat and lower. She stops though, when she reaches the top of my cleavage and peeks up at me, uncertainly.
I nod, nearly salivating at the thought of her lips there. Gently she lowers her head again and kisses across the top of my breasts, inching her way down until reaching the seam of my leathers. After what seems like a moment of indecision she reached up and slides one strap down my arm and my leathers peel away. Her breath is hot and moist against my skin. Her kisses are hesitant, tentative at first and that makes it even more arousing. I can feel my muscles growing tighter from the teasing touches. One, then the other and then she is tilting her head up to kiss my lips again.
We have never gone this far before. I hesitate a moment then gently roll her onto her back. I hold my pose, suspended on one elbow above her giving her the chance to say no, to pull back. She gazes up at me in perfect trust. With my free hand I undo her top and slide my hand across her chest, palming one of her breasts. She lets out a low moan and her eyes close for just a moment, then she is staring up at me, eyes darkened with desire. After a moment of fondling I lower my head, taking her into my mouth and rolling my tongue across the sensitive surface. She shivers and arches into me, pushing herself farther into my mouth. I open a little wider to accept her offering as I continue to lick and suckle.
She is making these soft little mewling sounds now and her hands clutch convulsivly at my back. Deliberately I gentle my motions to little nibbles and move upwards. She is breathing heavily, her whole body wracked with shivers.
"You okay?" I ask.
"Never better," she mumbles breathlessly. "The things you do to me, Xena."
Her hands are wandering across my body now, exploring the newest discovery of skin. I can feel my body starting to respond.
"I could say the same thing to you."
"Really?" There is an endearing note of sheer pleasure in her voice.
"You're not just saying that?" she asks, her insecurity popping up again.
"Definately not." And, it's true. I am not just saying it for her benefit. We haven't gone very far, but my body responds more to these simple touches than it has ever responded to the most skilled of partners I've taken before.
"I just want to please you," she says softly. "But I don't know what to do," she continues. "I've never..." she trails off.
It takes a moment for her words to register. "You haven't...You and..." I can't form a coherent sentence.
"Not all the way, no. We kissed, and touched and..." she trails off and I can hear the embarrasment in her voice at having to admit this. "It was late and we were tired and...well we thought we'd have more time so we didn't rush..."
I can't pinpoint my exact emotions right yet. I'm sad for her, that she never got to experience this gift with the man she married. A man she did truly, I believe, love. And at the same time I'm incredibly happy that I will be her first. That I will get to introduce her to pleasures of love making.
"Don't worry about it. You're doing fine."
She nods, accepting my assurances.
I lower my lips to hers and capture them in my own. She moans and deepens the kiss as her hands continue their explorations. I let my own wander as well, gauging her reactions to my touch, ready to pull back at any time I sense any discomfort. But as I slide my hand lower, across her abdomen she shifts her hips upward towards my touch and parts her legs. She might not know what to do, but her body knows what it wants.
Before we take this any further, I need to know if this is what she wants. I need to let her know that she can put a stop to it at any time.
"I want you to show me what to do," she replies before I have even formed my sentence. "I want to make love you you. Tonight. Now."
"I love you, Gabrielle," I tell her.
"I love you too," she whispers against my lips then pulls me in for a kiss.
As my hand continues it's descent towards her thighs she lowers her head and closes her lips over my breast. Her tongue flits out and against my nipple and I cry out. I can feel the self-satisfied smile on her face as she repeats the motion.
I slide my hand between her thighs, towards her center and let it rest there for a moment before sliding a finger inside. Her whole body grows taunt with tension as her hips buck upwards. A low, long groan escapes her lips as I begin moving inside her. Another finger slips inside her and she is positively writhing now. The tension inside her is mounting, getting more intense. I can tell from the way she throws her head back and presses all of her weight into the handsthat is palming her center and the motion of her hips as she urges me on. I push her further and further to the edge and just as she is about to go over I pull out. Ignoring the moan of protest I grip her hips and lift them upwards, then replace my finger with my lips and tongue. Kissing, touching, teasing and finally, as her moans become a continous drone and her fingers dig into my shoulders I bring her to release.
Her whole body shudders with the force of it and she cries out, a long, drawn out, guttural version of my name. As her muscles quiver with tiny aftershocks I pull myself up and bundle her up into my arms, massaging her lower back gently and brushing kisses against her cheek and forehead.
"By the gods, Xena," she mumbles. I grin, very satisfied with myself.
Then, I find myself being very gently pushed onto my back and her weight centering itself over me. She is kissing my everywhere, face neck, across my chest and down. Her kisses are slow, contemplative, sampling every texture. Her tongue is languishing in it's attentions.
My whole world, all of my senses are now centered around Gabrielle's lips and tongue on me, inside me. I can do nothing except lie back, gazing up at the stars as she kisses and licks and suckles. My body is no longer my own, it is hers. As my tension grows, rolling over me in waves, I force my head up, meeting her eyes as I shatter. Her name coming to my lips like a prayer.
The next thing I know she is in my arms again, cuddled up like she had been all evening.
"I love you."
"I love you too, Gabrielle."
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