What are soulmates? Are they best friends? Lovers? Or both? Gabrielle intends to find out...
Disclaimer: MCA/Universal/RenPics own all copyrights to everything related to Xena: Warrior Princess and I have no rights to them.
Thanks to the creators for this fantastic show. And most importantly to LL and ROC, who made it come to life.
Violence – Nope
Subtext – Certainly
Sex – Eh, implied f/f action but nothing graphic.
If you are under age of majority or this kind of story is illegal or offends ya... go away please.
Story takes place after 'Between the Lines' episode. :D It would help to have seen it but I guess it's not imperative. Enjoy!
Big thanks to Anja for beta.
All comments are welcome at email@example.com Be nice!!
Gabrielle put the finishing touches on dinner, while Xena pulled out the equipment that needed repairs, to work on after they ate. They had been silent most of the afternoon as they tried to find a suitable campsite before dark. The atmosphere hadn't been strained, but it had been heavy with expectation. Well, at least for Gabrielle it had been. She didn't know what Xena was thinking. The dark haired woman had kept her famous warrior's mask in place most of the day. Though Xena hadn't seemed opposed to talking, or listening as was usually the case, Gabrielle hadn't been able to bring herself to say much. Her thoughts had been on one track and she hadn't been sure how they would be received. So she had kept her own counsel to try and work things through. She wasn't any closer to a decision now than earlier, of course. She mulled over the events with Naiyima that had transpired that day.
Gabrielle wasn't sure exactly what had happened, other than the normal run of the mill 'defeat the evil warlord/God/goddess/shamaness to save the world/innocents/themselves'. That was commonplace. And the vision Alti had shown her, well it was a bit worrisome, but people make their own destinies and she sure didn't intend to be crucified with her soulmate any time soon. Soulmates... that's what was nagging at her. What did that mean exactly? She knew what she wanted it to mean. But Xena? Well she could be...difficult to read sometimes. Gabrielle had known for a long while now that her path lay with Xena. It was obvious to her. She wasn't sure how obvious it was to the warrior though, and that was the problem. Did it bother her or make her happy? And did it mean that the feelings Gabrielle had for her warrior-friend were more acceptable since they were soulmates? She shook her head to herself. It was more than acceptable to her, but how did Xena feel? This was her dilemma, and she wasn't sure exactly how to figure it out.
'I'll have to talk to her. Soon. After dinner. Tonight. I'll go mad otherwise.'
Xena watched her friend cleaning up the dinner dishes with a pensive look. She knew from experience that Gabrielle had something on her mind. The Amazon Queen had been quiet since the confrontation with Alti. Xena thought she knew what was bothering her but didn't know how to bring it up. If Alti hadn't already been destroyed she'd kill her all over again for hurting Gabrielle. To show her best friend that torturous vision had been pure evil. Not that it was surprising coming from Alti, but it stung nonetheless. Xena hadn't wanted Gabrielle to know about it. That was one thing she had been grateful to Najara for. Even though the twisted woman knew about the prophecy, she hadn't passed the information along to Gabrielle, deciding that it wasn't her job to hurt Gabrielle, but Xena's.
She sighed to herself and reached for the leathers she had laid out after making camp to oil. One good thing about her new clothes was it gave her a chance to give the battle gear more attention than she usually could. And it gave her something to do until the blonde chose to begin unloading her troubles.
After making sure there was nothing left to do around the camp before bed, Gabrielle sat across the fire from Xena and watched the dancing flames for a while, collecting her thoughts before speaking. How to broach the soulmate subject with her dark haired friend. After considering different options, she concluded the best way would be to work her way slowly to her main point.
“Yes Gabrielle?" Xena hid her smirk and gave herself a mental pat on the back for knowing her partner so well.
“Can I ask you something?”
Xena turned her face aside to hide her wince at the other woman's question. In her experience Gabrielle rarely asked if she could ask her a question unless it was going to be one she thought Xena wouldn't answer or would be painful to her. She thought she knew where this was going.
“Of course. Might not answer though.” she grinned through the flames separating them, hoping to lighten the suddenly somber mood that had descended over the site.
Ignoring the last part of Xena's answer, Gabrielle took a deep breath and sent a silent prayer to the gods for strength.
“What did you think about Naiyima?”
Xena paused in her methodical oiling in surprise; this was not what she had expected. She cast a glance at Gabrielle with confusion written on her face. Gabrielle repeated herself patiently.
“Yes, Naiyima. The Darsham. What did you think about her? I mean.. do you think she was what she said she was?”
'In other words , Xena thought, did I think she was trustworthy? '
“Well I.. I felt alright about her. I'm glad she could help us, even though we didn't even know we needed help at the time. She seemed...wise.”
“Hmmm. So you think she ...knew what she was talking about?” Gabrielle blotted her palms on her new sari nervously. Xena's pulse quickened and her hands seemed to lose strength, dropping limply in her lap. She kept her head down to carry on the pretense of her task, as well as to avoid any direct looks from her astute friend.
“About Alti you mean?” The warrior prayed it was about Alti, but the feeling in her gut told her it wasn't. She wasn't sure which was worse, the subject she had thought Gabrielle was going to bring up...or the one Xena had avoided thinking about all day.
“No. Not Alti.” Gabrielle spoke in almost a whisper, her eyes glued on her friends bowed head, noticing that although the leathers and oil cloth were still on her lap, there wasn't any actual work being done now.
“About us.” she supplied, when it seemed Xena wouldn't respond.
Xena cleared her throat nervously and set the leathers aside. Taking a few minutes to rise and retrieve her sword and sharpening kit, she frantically tried to think of a way out of this. She couldn't let Gabrielle know what was held so deeply in her heart that Xena couldn't even admit it fully to herself. Amidst the chorus of voices that were telling her how wrong it was and how dangerous it would be to let her know, one small insistent one spoke up and asked if she really thought that, after all they had been through, one little thing like this would turn her friend against her for good. Xena had no good response, especially now, when it seemed Gabrielle was going to meet the problem they faced head on.
She settled back down on the ground, taking up her earlier position against a log and began sharpening her sword.
Xena spoke almost hesitantly, “Well Gabrielle, if your'e talking about the karma thing... we've been through so much that I can't think of anything that would tear us apart. As far as other lives go... we got a peek of that today. I guess.. I mean... I … I believe her.”
Gabrielle grinned at the minor victory, turning serious again as soon as she realized that it was only the first small step. The next was the one that could kill her. As she was working up her courage to speak again, Xena surprised her by asking her own question.
“And you Gabrielle, what do you believe?”
The Amazon gazed at her companion across the fire with amazement. Was it really possible she didn't know the answer? If Xena knew nothing else in this world Gabrielle wanted her to know how she felt. It was high time to let her know without a doubt, and however the warrior interpreted the words... well that was up to her.
Resolve strengthened her and, instead of answering right away, the compact blonde got up and paced around the fire to sit at the warriors side. She placed a soft hand on the muscled forearm that was steadily honing the edge of steel propped between the warrior's legs. Xena glanced up shyly and was amazed at the look on her best friend's face. She quickly dropped her eyes again, afraid of what might be visible in them.
“Xena, you don't know that answer by now?” she asked gently.
“Well, I... its not something...we've ever really discussed. One of those 'sensitive chats' I'm not so good at.” Xena shot a sheepish grin to Gabrielle and again turned her attention back to her sword.
Gabrielle shook her head in mild amusement and squeezed the arm beneath her fingers firmly to get the other woman's attention again. When the embarrassed warrior's blue gaze finally met the bard's green one, Gabrielle answered with as much sincerity and love as she felt.
“Xena, I love you. My path is with you. It always has been. Don't you know that by now? You're asking if I believed her when she told us our karma is intertwined for eternity? If I believe we're soulmates? Of course I believe her. I believed her before I even knew she existed, before I ever heard her speak. Our lives are meant to be spent together, and every life after this one...even eternity. Side by side. Forever.”
Blue eyes studied green intently. Finally after what seemed like forever, Xena smiled.
“You don't know how happy that makes me. Knowing I'll always have you by my side. In every life I live.. but...especially... in this one.” She allowed her sword to lean against her inside thigh and covered the warm hand that held her arm, gently brushing her thumb over the top of it.
The wellspring of emotion that Xena's look was causing, along with the soft brush of her thumb on her own skin, was nearly too much for Gabrielle to bear. She was mesmerized by the look in her friend's eyes. It was something much more than friendship she saw there, wasn't it? It was love. And not entirely platonic love either. It was tinged with a desire that mirrored her own. She found herself leaning into the azure gaze. Felt her lips part slightly of their own accord, as if for a kiss. Catching the reaction in time, she forced herself to break contact, pulling her hand out from under the calloused one on top of it and shifting her gaze to the side. Her thoughts were tumbling around with no real direction, and she tried to get a grip on them. That was the first part of her answer. After that look that said a million things words couldn't , the second part wasn't so difficult to think about now, but she was still scared.
“Xena?” the warrior came back from the dreamscape she had immersed herself in after what had just transpired. She was sure Gabrielle had been about to kiss her. Had seen it in her eyes, felt it in the very air surrounding them. Maybe this wasn't a bad discussion to be having after all. She answered automatically.
Gabrielle pursed her lips and gave a glance to her friend out of the corner of her eye, noticing the small flush that stained her cheeks. She had an idea that maybe she affected Xena the same way the warrior affected Gabrielle. She took the plunge. Well, part of the plunge anyway. She just couldn't bring herself to ask outright.
“What does being soulmates mean to you?”
Xena looked confused for a moment as she considered what her friend was asking.
“It means we're gonna be together forever.”
Gabrielle winced, that wasn't what she had meant.
“Xena, we already established that. What I mean is...” She trailed off as she considered how best to phrase what she was getting at.
“OK, let's try this. Do you think we are spending this life together the...way... we should?”
“The way...? Gabrielle I don't understand what your'e asking. We spend our time fighting for the greater good. That's what we both want...right?”
Gabrielle gave a frustrated sigh and rubbed her hand across her face. This wasn't going so well. For such a brilliant woman, Xena could be really dense sometimes.
“Xena.... I... Yes that's what I want. It's not what I meant though. Maybe I should just sleep on this one.”
Gabrielle started to get up, her courage abandoning her abruptly, but a warm hand on her arm stopped her. She froze mid rise, debating on pulling away or giving in. Knowing she couldn't win if she wanted to, and not really wanting to anyway, she sat back down slowly, shooting a quick look of frustration at her slow friend.
“Explain to me what you're asking..... please? I want to.. help if I can.”
Gabrielle was silent for a long time, working on the wording. She knew if she wasn't clear this time that nothing, not even Zeus himself, could make her bring the subject up again. She started carefully, pronouncing each word as you would to a child, at first, then ending in a rush.
“I mean, Xena.. how are we meant to be together . Not so much in other lives, but in this one. Are we meant to be best friends as we are, which is entirely fine with me if it is with you.... or... more?”
Xena sat stunned. She tried to speak, but couldn't find the words. Did Gabrielle just ask if she believed they were meant to be partners in every sense of the word? Never in her wildest dreams had she thought this moment would come. Now that it had, she didn't know what to do. Of course she had fantasies, who wouldn't.. but to believe that it might be possible was something she never allowed herself. Gabrielle didn't think of her that way....did she? Then again, after the last few minutes she wasn't so certain anymore. Her mouth tried to form words but all that came out was a strange sort of squeak that was decidedly un-warrior like.
Gabrielle risked a look at Xena and what she saw made her heart drop to her feet. The warrior princess looked like a fish out of water, which was rather funny, but the look in her eyes is what made Gabrielle's knees go weak, and she was rather glad she was sitting down. It was hopeful, and warm, and ...scared?
“Xena....?” she prompted.
Xena closed her eyes and took several calming breaths before once more meeting the emerald orbs glued to her face.
“Gabrielle... I need to be sure what you're asking. This is... new... and I... I don't want to...” she trailed off with a shake of her head, her anxious gaze still locked with the bards.
Gabrielle, not sure if the last statement was in her favor or not, turned and fully faced the shocked warrior, moving the sword from between the firm thighs so she could turn Xena as well. She took both of the large calloused hands in hers and gripped them tightly, wanting, if nothing else, for this little bit of contact for comfort. There was nothing left for it. She would have to be totally blunt, and damn the consequences.
“I'm asking you if you want to be more than what we are now. If you want to be... together... as ...a couple... lovers.”
Tears threatened in Xena's eyes and she squeezed them shut trying, in vain, to keep them from overflowing. She raised the hands held tightly in her own to her lips before answering.
“I can't believe this is really happening.”
Gabrielle's heart stopped for a moment and all the breath left her in a rush. What did this mean? Before she could think anything else Xena brushed her cheek against Gabrielle's hand and pressed her lips to each finger as she spoke, punctuating her words.
The bards eyes filled as well and she reclaimed the hand that wasn't held to Xena's mouth and brushed the salty tears from her best friend's cheeks with wonder. It was alright. After all these years, all the laughter, the pain, the longing, it was going to be alright.
“Xena, I love you.”
The usually stoic warrior stifled a sob and pulled Gabrielle to her chest, crushing her in a tight embrace. Gabrielle returned the hug as fiercely as she could for a minute before relaxing and breathing in the warm scent that was entirely Xena.
She raised her face and gazed up in to the beautiful blue eyes she so loved. This time, when she felt herself drawn in for a kiss, she didn't shy away.
As Xena's face came closer and closer, images flashed through the bard's mind. The visions of Xena after her wedding, when Xena had kissed her tantalizingly close to her lips as a goodbye. In limbo, when Xena had kissed her while in Autolycus' body. After Chin, when Xena had told her for the first time she loved her. All the loving gazes that she had secretly hoped meant the same as she felt but never had the courage to confront.
Xena, for her part, was hypnotized by the green stare that drew her like a moth to the flame. The blonde's scent was dizzying and the feel of her weight in Xena's arms was almost more than her senses could stand. To not kiss her right now was to not live. She couldn't have stopped herself if she wanted to.
Their lips finally met and together they sighed, relaxing into one another. Wonder won out over passion as they both were filled with the knowledge of how natural, how perfect this was. The taste was familiar, the touches as exciting as they were comforting. Their arms held tightly and their hands stroked softly as their anxious bodies shifted to press as closely together as they could. Soft sounds of desire rose from them both and they melded as if they were one being.
When they broke contact, both saw their own feelings mirrored in the other's face. In unison, they spoke the same sentiment.
Xena reached up and pushed a freshly shorn lock off of Gabrielle's forehead, her gaze following every line of the beloved face in front of her. Gabrielle leaned away to free a hand and traced her soulmate's strong jawline in wonder.
“I never knew...”
“Neither did I...”
They both smiled brightly and their lips met again. It was just as wonderful as the first time.
Xena pulled away first, her breathing heavier than it had been previously.
“Gabrielle.... I think we might be more ...ah... comfortable... over there.” she stated and gestured to the bedrolls.
Gabrielle grinned mischievously and winked at her warrior princess.
“But I'm not tired Xena.”
Xena smirked at the smaller woman and, before Gabrielle realized what was happening, she scooped her up in a quick movement, gliding easily to the blankets laid out for sleep.
Xena followed her friend's body to the ground and placed herself lightly on top, reveling in the new feelings that were being evoked by the contact. Her eyes darkened with passion and she kissed Gabrielle again, delving deeper than she had previously, allowing all of her love, all of her passion, all of her appreciation of this wonderful woman beneath her, to make itself known. For a long while there was nothing in the world besides Xena and Gabrielle. So much more than friends, more than lovers. Gabrielle was the other half of Xena's soul and nothing in this world could ever replace them to each other.
When the fusion of the two souls was complete and they pulled back, both were left breathless. The dark haired woman placed her mouth near the dazed blonde's ear to whisper in a low, suggestive voice.
“I never said anything about sleep, Gabrielle.”
A growl escaped the blonde bards throat as she held her partner's head tightly in place and snaked her tongue around the outer shell of Xena's ear before answering back in her own husky tone.
Those were the last...coherent.. words spoken for a long while, much to both of their delight. When the sun rose the next morning, it found two very spent soulmates wrapped in each other's arms, both exactly where they belonged, for all of this life and beyond.
They had come home at last.
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