Disclaimer 1: The characters Xena, Gabrielle and Argo are owned by MCA/Universal and they own all rights to them. I only borrowed them for this story. The rest of the story is mine.
Disclaimer 2: This story is NOT subtext, it is main text. It talks about two women who are in love with each other. Nothing graphic, just talk. So if this offends you, head somewhere else.
Author's Note: This story takes place just after the episode, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. After watching this one, I am sure that the bite Gabrielle gave Xena would have changed things between them. And I also know this change and the fear it might have caused Xena is the reason that things happened the way that they did in Return of Callisto. This is the discussion I think might have happened between them about it.
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"So where are we headed anyway?" Gabrielle glanced up at Xena sitting astride Argo as they continued to walk east.
Xena glanced down at the young woman walking alongside her, a strange expression on her face. Her eyes were drawn to the Amazon battle staff that was then being used as a simple walking stick by her blonde companion. For some reason, it brought to mind the events that had recently transpired in the forest of Bacchus.
It had been a little over two weeks since she had battled the wine god; two weeks since Gabrielle had been turned into a Bacchae; two weeks since she herself had been bitten by Gabrielle; two weeks that had seen something begin to change between them. And while those two weeks had been relatively quiet for them on the road, they had been anything but peaceful or quiet for Xena's frame of mind.
Xena had been riding Argo in silence for most of the morning, her mind wandering more and more as the day passed. Returning again and again to that moment when Gabrielle's fangs had pierced her flesh. No matter how much she had tried to stay focused on her surroundings and the words of her companion, her attention had kept drifting. And she had lost track of their destination some time ago.
She shrugged slightly at the question hoping that Gabrielle would drop the subject for a bit longer and give her some time to figure out what in the name of Hades was bothering her. She jumped slightly when Gabrielle's hand touched her leg and realized that she was going to have to do something about her strange thoughts, and soon. She couldn't afford the weakness or inattention; someone was going to end up hurt.
"Xena, is something wrong?"
Xena shook herself from her thoughts as she looked down at Gabrielle giving her a small smile.
"No, what make's you say that?"
Gabrielle shrugged, letting her hand fall back down.
"Well, I've been talking most of the morning and you haven't heard a word I've said."
Xena focused on their surroundings, extending her senses to their utmost. Searching for anything out of place as she recalled what the young girl had been prattling on about earlier that morning. All the while thanking whatever god had decided to gift her with the skill of almost perfect recall; even when she wasn't paying close attention.
"Something about Orpheus right?"
Gabrielle gave her a strange look, a somewhat annoyed expression crossing her face as Xena displayed another strange skill.
"Just so you know that's kind of creepy. Okay so maybe you did hear what I said but I still don't think you were listening."
It was Xena's turn to look annoyed.
"Now why would you think that?"
Gabrielle shrugged slightly ignoring the glare that she knew Xena had turned on her.
"You just seem distracted, that's all. I didn't think that was possible."
"Nope, just staying focused."
Gabrielle snorted loudly.
"Anymore focus and you'll set something on fire." Her voice was low but not low enough.
Xena's keen ears picked it up easily enough and she sighed. She could feel a touch of annoyance from both the blonde's attitude and her tone. She reined in Argo sharply forcing Gabrielle to stop walking and face her.
"If I didn't know any better, I'd say someone missed breakfast. Why don't we stop for lunch? Maybe you'd be in a better mood if you ate."
Gabrielle gave her a sweet, much too pleasant smile.
"I'm not hungry." There was sudden loud grating, growling noise from the vicinity of her stomach.
Xena gave her the look and Gabrielle grinned sheepishly
"Ok, maybe a little."
The found a nice somewhat shaded area off the road and Xena turned her attention to pulling food out of the saddlebags. Once their small repast was out, she let Argo go to graze quietly for awhile.
She sat down next to Gabrielle, eating slowly her mind turning inward once more.
"So what were you thinking about so hard today?"
Xena nibbled on a piece of cheese, her eyes unfocused and staring off into the distance. She had hoped that Gabrielle would leave her be but she should have known better. She decided to play dumb.
Gabrielle nodded, even as she continued to eat. How the girl could talk so much even while she ate was beyond the warrior.
"Yeah, I know you said that you were just focusing but a couple of times, I thought…I don't know it was probably nothing."
Xena continued to stare off into the distance but watching her traveling companion out of the corner of her eye.
"Well, you looked like you were thinking about something and it was bothering you. I just thought you might want to talk about it."
Again, a ghost of a smile appeared on her face.
"I'm not one for talk."
"Tell me about it. But sometimes it helps if you just let out what's bothering you. This isn't about Solon is it?"
Xena turned to her, a look of anger crossing her face as she set her food aside, her appetite suddenly gone.
"No, look would you just drop it?" She snapped at Gabrielle. Even as the words left her mouth, she mentally cursed herself. She had no desire to hurt Gabrielle but she also had no desire to discuss what was bothering her either. Somehow, she'd stupidly hoped that Gabrielle would just let the matter lie. She should have known better.
"All right if you don't want to talk about it."
Xena drew a deep mental sigh of relief.
"I don't." The matter in her mind closed.
"It's just that I think it'll help."
Despite herself, Xena chuckled at the persistence of the young Amazon. If the questions had been from anyone else, she would have felt hard pressed to resist beating them into a bloody pulp. As it was, she was somewhat amused by the tenacity and quick wit that Gabrielle was displaying. She pitied the people that might underestimate the young woman because she appeared so sweet and innocent.
"Is this how you got your way all the time as a kid?"
Gabrielle smiled as she finished wolfing down her food.
"Yeah, I just wore everyone down. Eventually they all figured it'd just be easier if they let me have my way."
This time Xena laughed, her low rich voice filling the area.
"I can see it now, Gabrielle, verbal terror of Potedia."
They both laughed at the image, falling silent after a few moments.
Gabrielle turned to face the warrior, her green eyes troubled as she returned to the subject at hand.
"If it makes you feel any better, I've been thinking a lot today too."
Xena scoffed. "I'd never have known with all the noise you were making."
It drew another smile from her companion as the young woman chuckled.
"But that's the beauty of it; I can talk and think at the same time. It throws everyone off guard. Not expecting that were you?" Her eyes twinkled with an impish light as Xena chuckled.
Xena packed the rest of the food back into the saddlebags and settled back into a comfortable position. She knew that Gabrielle was often more determined then she could be; especially when she thought something was bothering the ex-warlord.
"And you call me maniacal. So what were you thinking about anyway?"
Gabrielle settled next to her and they gazed up into the sky.
"So you expect me to talk when you won't?"
Xena lay back, closing her eyes as she tried to relax, knowing where the conversation was likely to head but still trying to keep the tone light.
"Hey, you're the talker, I'm the fighter. I thought we had this settled."
Gabrielle was silent for several moments as she stared into the sky.
Xena opened her eyes as she nudged Gabrielle's arm, giving the young woman her full attention.
"So what were you thinking about?"
Gabrielle frowned, her face troubled. "Bacchus."
This time Xena frowned.
"Kind of heavy thinking for such a nice day."
She felt Gabrielle shrug.
"Yeah, but I couldn't help it. I just keep thinking about it. I could have been trapped as a Bacchae forever. It was really strange. Everything seemed so strange; colors, sounds, smells. It was all so overpowering."
Xena turned her attention to her companion, rolling over to face her as Gabrielle collected her thoughts on the experience.
Gabrielle's brow furrowed as she tried to find the words to express what she'd felt at that moment.
"I could feel something else inside of me, something dark and thirsty. It changed me."
Xena understood and without thinking reached out to grab Gabrielle's hand with her own.
Gabrielle rolled onto her side to face the warrior but her eyes were focused inward as she recalled what she'd done during those strange moments.
"I could feel Joxer's fear and I didn't care. I relished it, I enjoyed it and I wanted to drink it in." She shuddered slightly, feeling Xena squeeze her hand. "And I could feel this hunger inside me for blood. Almost like I was starving and could never be full."
Xena rolled back onto her back, staring up at the sky but still holding onto her friend's hand.
"You were a Bacchae, they drink blood; its what they do."
There was silence between them for several moments as they each became lost in their own thoughts once more. Xena could still feel the weight of Gabrielle's eyes on her but ignored them hoping that the discussion was finished.
"Did I hurt you?"
Xena looked at her in surprise.
"Did I hurt you, when I bit you?"
"No, no you didn't."
Gabrielle lay back down, turning her attention back to the clouds in the sky as well.
"It was strange. I could everything you were feeling. You were afraid for me; afraid that you wouldn't be able to defeat Bacchus and save me. And I could hear your heart pounding in my ears. It was a little unusual. What did it feel like for you?"
Xena paused for a moment looking for the right words to explain what she had felt. She remembered that moment, reliving it once more. The sensation of Gabrielle's breath brushing her neck, the feel of her soft lips touching her skin; the slight prick of her teeth as Gabrielle bit down and began to feed. The sudden loss of herself, both physically and mentally as Gabrielle drank from her. The deep pull throughout out her body as her blood was sucked from her veins.
Ah the exquisite torture as Gabrielle had fed on her. There had been such pleasure, such ecstasy, such intimacy. She had fallen into a red haze, feeling something come awake inside of her. The bite had aroused her to a fevered pitch in a matter of seconds. She gave herself over to it willingly, gladly, fervently hoping that it would never end. She had felt Gabrielle feeding on her, taking her blood and it had touched a sexual cord for the Amazon that she never knew existed.
How could she explain to Gabrielle that she had been overwhelmed with passion and lust? How could she explain that she'd nearly come apart at the seams from that intimate touch? How could she explain to her that the heartbeat Gabrielle had thought was hers had in fact been both of theirs, beating as one. How could she explain that she had been drowning in the emotions of her friend and that it had made her realize just what she had been feeling herself? How could she ever tell Gabrielle that in that moment, she realized that she was in love with her?
The truth was that she couldn't; she could never tell Gabrielle the truth. As much as she loved her, as much as she wanted to simply let go and fall at Gabrielle's feet professing her undying love, she couldn't. It wouldn't be fair to her.
Xena was looking for her path of redemption, a way to atone for all of the crimes she had committed in her days as a bloodthirsty warlord. It was unfair to let what she felt for Gabrielle ever be known. And not just because she thought that she didn't deserve happiness for herself, but also because it would make Gabrielle a target. Even if Gabrielle felt the same way and was willing to accept the risk, Xena was not. So there was no way that she could ever tell Gabrielle the truth about the Bacchae bite. She knew that, she accepted that and so she did the only thing she could do, she lied.
"It was very…pleasant."
Gabrielle looked at her for several moments, weighing her words before turning back to the clouds.
"Yeah, I guess it was."
"Yeah well it's over with. I killed him and you're back to normal. No harm no foul, right?" Xena squeezed the young woman's hand firmly.
"Yeah, right." Gabrielle looked at her, a touch of sadness in her eyes as she smiled slightly.
The look tugged at Xena's heart and it took everything she had to simply smile back and then return her attention to the clouds in the sky. She felt Gabrielle shift next to her, pulling her hand away from Xena's and she fought back the tears such a simple rejection could cause.
It's for your own good Gabrielle. It's for your own good. But deep inside she heard a part of herself laughing at the stupidity of the statement. Is it for her good, or yours?
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