Reasons Of The Heart
(formerly Old Lessons)

August 1998

From The Flophouse


Love, I watch you sleep
And I realize you're everything I've ever wanted
Now all of my dreams have come to life
I always knew that you were out there somewhere
And now you're here by my side
I've been waiting for your love baby
I've held this vision in my mind
I've been waiting for your love darling
All this time
I was a lonely girl
'Til you stepped in my world
So glad I never gave up
Anticipating, I've been waiting for your love
Time slipped through my hands
With each grain of sand I felt you get closer and closer
And hope was all that I had to keep me strong
No one could touch the dream I held inside me
That's why I held out so long
I've been waiting for your love baby
I've held this vision in my mind
I've been waiting for your love darling
All this time
I was a lonely girl
'Til you stepped in my world
So glad I never gave up
Anticipating, I've been waiting for your love
I was a lonely girl
'Til you stepped in my world
So glad I never gave up
Anticipating, I've been waiting for your love

Lari White

Xena shifted urgently in her sleep. Muscles, quivering in conditioned response, brought the slumbering warrior into semi consciousness and her arms came up to defend herself against the lingering images of her nightmare. With an instinct borne from years of practiced survival, the warrior let her senses free to assess the danger that had awakened her. The stillness of the early morning air brought with it the musty smell of the room and the smoldering remnants that settled in the fireplace. The inn, groaning like an old man sinking down into his favorite chair, was otherwise silent. Xena blinked away the sleep as her eyes focused in the dark, the subtle ache in her body bringing back memories of the past few days and the recent dream.

The battle had been unexpected and brutal. She had dispatched thirty men before feeling the strain and they had kept coming at her, some with severed limbs, others with life-threatening hemorrhages and none seemed to notice. They appeared enchanted in their effort to kill her. She was so sure she was going to die. That arrow had definitely been her ticket to Tartarus, but in the end she had stood in the center of a growing puddle of life force and a startling flashback of the old days almost brought tears to her moonlight eyes. She had left the field quickly and hid in the tree line to catch any followers not wanting to bring such a fight to Gabrielle and the town. But after an hour, when nothing had moved in the vale and no search parties or rescue missions had ventured out from the camp over the hill, she lowered herself to the dew covered ground after tucking the strange leather pouch into a secure limb. After a candle mark, she located Argo and headed tentatively towards Pardum with occasional glances thrown over her shoulders.

As she thought back, the contents of the leather pouch aroused her curiosity. She hadn't had enough time to really look at the medallion or the parchment with it. She wasn't even sure why she had taken it, but it had seemed important at the time. She had learned to trust her first impressions a long time ago. It might give a clue as to why Diphobus was here and why his men had attacked her with such a fervor and why he hadn't sent out reinforcements. He had surely been alerted to her presence, but he had done nothing. Xena shook her head in dismissal. 'None of it makes any sense,' she thought. 'and it all stinks.'

Inhaling deeply, she closed her eyes again and let the breath go slowly, feeling the tension ease into the chill air of the room. She glanced around the room then at Gabrielle who was sleeping in the hollow of her right arm, her faced pillowed by the warrior's shoulder. She pulled her friend closer and reached over to brush away stray strawberry strands from her face. Xena smiled softly. She felt the dream over yesterday's battle slip silently away while her fingers caressed the sleeping bard's hair. Feeling safe and content, she lowered her face to Gabrielle's and rubbed her cheek against the forehead resting close to her chin. She closed her eyes when Gabrielle moved against her and a small arm tightened around her waist. When Gabrielle had settled back down, Xena moved her lips to the bard's forehead and placed several soft, tender kisses over eyebrows and along the golden hair line. She inhaled the scent of Gabrielle and squeezed the girl to her with both arms wrapped warmly around...

Xena's eyes widened at the feel of the bard against her naked flesh. She had fallen asleep without pulling on a clean shirt and didn't realize it until Gabrielle's hand moved slightly across her bare waist. Xena closed her eyes and breathed slowly, unable to release her grip on the woman. The feel of Gabrielle's soft hair against her neck, the sleeping face pressed into her breast and arm and leg thrown over her body seeking comfort rocked Xena's mind. 'Whoa,' she thought. The intense emotions that surged through her brought a flush to her face. 'No matter how much I want this, I am definitely not prepared for it. It's just so much more than I have ever felt.' Xena reluctantly let her grip on her friend relax and then just laid there and allowed her heart to quiver in her chest. 'Well, I guess that answers that question.' Xena swallowed her heart back down into her chest where it sat and shivered with her at the revelation. 'I've always heard that it would be like this. Hades, even Gabrielle writes poems about how if feels, but nothing could ever brace you for the impact of it. Gods! I'm in trouble.'


The afternoon sun crept shyly across the tanned skin of Xena's back, warming it in place of the sleeping furs she had thrown off during the morning. She had drifted into a light doze not long after sunrise and her tortured body took advantage of the opportunity. She slept hard. The physical and emotional fatigue finally catching up to her. As the sun's liquid rays drifted over her shoulder to settle on her face, it collaborated with a cool breeze to awaken the sleeping warrior. The first thing Xena became aware of was the smell of the market drifting in and the soft sound of birds and children playing under the window near the pallet. She groaned in resistance to the day and continued to lay prostrate, long arms thrust up under a pillow. She slipped an arm from it's warm haven and slid it across the linens of the bed. She opened her eyes and blinked into the sunshine. 'Damn, how long have I been asleep?' Xena raised up onto her elbows and blinked around the room. Gabrielle was gone, her bag missing. Xena smirked. 'Must be shopping.' She noticed her armor stacked neatly on the table and grinned to herself that Gabrielle had taken the time to have it cleaned for her. 'It's the little things.' She muttered as she rolled onto her back and let the sleep seep from her body. Clambering to her feet, with a silly grin and a feeling of complete and utter happiness, she began her day.

As Xena sat on the edge of the bed tying up her boots, Gabrielle came in with a tray of food.

"Hey, you. I thought you were going to sleep all day." Gabrielle remarked setting her packages and bag aside then placing the tray onto the table and uncovering the meal.

"I might have if the blasted sun hadn't poked it's head in on me." Xena grinned at her. "You should have awakened me." She said standing.

"Why? You were exhausted or you wouldn't have slept so long. You really push yourself too hard, Xena." Gabrielle sat down at the table and began to pour a cup of milk.

Xena finished dressing by attaching her chakram to her hip and then raised her blue eyes to meet the challenge of Gabrielle's green ones. "Old habits die hard." She offered.

"Mmm," The bard pushed the tray in Xena's direction. "Here, I brought you breakfast."

"Lunch, you mean," Xena snickered as she took the offered cup of milk and eased into the chair opposite her friend. She emptied the cup and then began to eat.

"You still sore?" Gabrielle asked re-filling the cup and placing it in front of the warrior.

"Nhhhh," Xena grunted around her food. "Will be for awhile. Thanks." She washed down the bite with more milk then looked at her friend. "You sleep well?"

"Not nearly as well as you," She grinned. "I was actually surprised to see you still asleep this morning. I snuck out hoping I wouldn't wake you. I guess I succeeded."

Xena smiled at her and continued to eat.

Gabrielle watched her for a minute, then moved to acquire her bag. "I went shopping," she commented.

Xena snickered. "I figured you had." They smiled at each other. "What'd you buy?"

"Well, a little more aloe for your bruises, it was on sale, and some more comfrey, you know," Gabrielle looked up at her as she placed the small packages on the table. "We go through an awful lot of this stuff."

"Comes with the job," Xena nodded.

"If it's not me, it's you. I hate to see the day when we're both invalids." Gabrielle said off hand and then continued her inventory of her shopping items.

'I hope that day never comes, my friend.' Xena thought. She watched the bard as she packed away the items into their saddle bags, careful to put each in it's place. She talked about the market and people she met and Xena was only half-listening until the bard mentioned something about armed men riding through town. Xena brought her head up from her plate with a snap.

"How many?" She asked urgently.

Gabrielle looked at her. "Not many, ten or so," Gabrielle could tell by the look on Xena's face something was wrong. "Why? What is it Xena?"

"I'm not sure." Xena pushed away from the table and went to the window. Nothing but normal town activity greeted her as she surveyed the area. "Listen," She said turning back to the room. "I don't want you going back into town today, alright."

"Why? Xena?"

"Those are more of the soldiers that I fought last night. Damn, I should have come to get you and left last night." Xena had begun to gather up the bags and bed rolls when she felt a hand on her arm.

"Xena? What is it?"

The concern showed on Gabrielle's face and Xena was helpless against it. 'No more secrets, right?' She heard the familiar voice saying. "Gabrielle, I killed fifty of Diphobus' soldiers last night." She let the weight of the deed sink into her friend. But Gabrielle didn't bat an eyelash.

"Xena, they attacked you..."

"I know but, they way they fought, they way they kept coming back after I would cut them down...Gabrielle it wasn't natural. It was almost like fighting the Horde again. I stayed in the forest for awhile to see if Diphobus would send out a search party, but he never did. He had to have known I was there and he just let me kill his men without retaliation. I was thinking about it last night and it just doesn't make sense." Xena wasn't sure how to tell the bard about the horror of the fight. She knew she would have to tell her just how close she came to dying, again, and that wouldn't be an easy conversation with her over protective partner.

Gabrielle looked at her, confusion written in her eyes.

"I think it has something to do with a medallion I came across last night while in his camp..."

Xena didn't get a chance to finish. Gabrielle threw up her hands and stalked towards her. "You were in his camp last night? Xena, you didn't tell me you were going there. That was crazy." Gabrielle's voice bordered on anger. "Why didn't you tell me you were going to do that? I thought we didn't keep things from each other anymore?"

Gabrielle's voice softened at the hurt look on Xena's face. "Xena, do you know how helpless it makes me feel when you do that? And then you come home trailing blood and I'm just supposed to put you back together and prepare for the next time? I can't do that. I couldn't sleep wondering where you were. Knowing you were out there. Thinking what terrible things might be happening to you and feeling helpless to do anything because I didn't know where you were? I can't help worrying about you. Last night, seeing you like that...Gods, Xena, I really don't know how I managed to not breakdown. I guess seeing you walk through that door was enough, but it's just not enough anymore." A single tear drifted over her flushed cheeks and Xena reached out to take it.

"I'm sorry," Xena said softly.

"Xena, you know, we keep saying that to each other, but when are we going to stop taking each other for granted?"

"I don't mean to..."

"I know Xena, you are just trying to protect me, but you have to think of yourself, too. If I can't be there to watch out for you then you have to take care of yourself for me." Gabrielle gave a small defeated sigh and looked into the brilliant blue of her friend's soul. "I can't be without you again Xena. I don't want you to protect me because if you die, I want to be there to die with you. We can't live our lives tiptoeing around fate. I know one day it's going to happen but, until it does I want you to live, here, now...with me."

Gabrielle heard the words come from her mouth and wondered if she had really said them. The depths of her heart were there on the table for the warrior to see.

Xena rolled the words around in her head. A thousand excuses came to the tip of her tongue about how it was her responsibility to keep the bard safe. A thousand lies to herself stampeded in her mind about staying detached. A thousand rebukes clawed at her lips about not needing anyone to protect her. And as the thousands screamed out, a single voice drowned them all with whispers of love and commitment, a steadfast promise laid out before her and all she had to do was reach out to embrace it. While the demons beckoned her back from the light, her heart, damaged and weak from the weight of the fight to resist for so many years, broke with the strain. The pain seized her chest and stilled her breath. A panic rose up in her eyes with the fear of giving in. But the devotion offered to her softened the blow and her heart was healed before soft, sea eyes.

Gabrielle saw the turmoil reflected on the warrior's face. She saw the fear and trepidation, the uncertainty of the moment in the cool, blue eyes that regarded her. As the silence grew, she began to wonder if she had said too much. Revealed too much. But the steady, unwavering gaze that held her told her that there was nothing to fear. It reminded her of the promises they had made to each other not too long ago. Promises of truth and love no matter the cost. An unconditional honesty that gave them the freedom to give in to their emotions without regret or rejection. They were moving towards an absolution of emotion that neither were prepared to face.

To Be Continued...

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