Hard To Say Goodbye
By Heartstarter

DISCLAIMER: The characters of Xena, Gabrielle and Argo remain the property of MCA/Renaissance Pictures and Studios USA. No copyright infringement is intended and this is a non-profit story. (Damn!)

PLEASE NOTE: This story is the 1st in a series of 5… the stories which follow are: The Weekend Visitor; That Scroll; Wasted Moments and The Fallout.

WARNING: This story depicts love (very deep) and friendship (that can never be broken) between two women. If you don’t want to read about this sort of relationship, or for some silly reason it’s illegal where you live, then you should boycott this story. I am very sorry for you because real love - between any two people should be celebrated and chronicled.

I want to thank my beloved, who helped with the editing on this wee story. Thanks babe. All comments and suggestions are welcome and I promise I’ll write back! Write to Heartstarter at: ripley@corplink.com.au


She can see I’m retreating into myself. I can’t stop it. The town is beginning to become oppressive. I yearn to be away from the buildings that are threatening to devour my soul and drive me insane. I don’t want to be anywhere particular – just not here. Not here where I can’t think properly.

I couldn’t concentrate on the conversation they were having at dinner. I was too lost in my own thoughts. Occasionally she would touch my arm or ask me something. I tried to answer in a sociable way, but my heart just wasn’t in it. I long to be at the beach, watching the waves roll in, letting my thoughts go where they want. My thoughts are too jaded here. They’re tired and I can’t express them properly. I long to be out in the fields or off the beaten track, sitting on a rock or against a tree with nothing but space around me and just her there with me. Anywhere I can just think about whatever I want and it won’t seem rude. I long to just sit and think. To tell a story. To be.

Everyone is getting up from the table, our guests are leaving. Xena says we’ll ride with them to the turn off. Now we’re outside, they saddle up their horse and Xena gets onto Argo. She holds her hand out for me to join her. I start to say no, but I can tell by the look in her eyes that she wants me up there. I take her hand and sit behind her. This is unconventional – I never ride with her unless we’re in danger or I’m sick, so she must sense that something is chewing at me. They don’t stop their conversation and still I don’t join in. I lay my head on Xena’s strong shoulder and put my arms around her waist. There is a slight breeze so I let my hand open up to it, it caresses my fingers and starts to soothe my soul. I look back towards our room at the Inn, the distant sounds of other guests’ laughter and merriment follows us. Why do I feel like this about the town now? Last night when we’d finally arrived it had felt like such an exciting place. Full of fun and laughter, challenges and promise (a promise of a real bed to sleep in!). Today though, it seems depressing and suffocating.

Xena’s voice echoes through her back and into my ears. I tune into what she’s saying, it’s directions for the next part of our guests’ journey. They’re going to visit someone they and Xena knew from times when I hadn’t known Xena or this life. Xena puts her hand over mine and squeezes it. I squeeze hers back. Just knowing that she is here with me makes me feel safe. She is my light, my hope, my inspiration. What will I do when we part company? It’s a thought I can hardly bear to think and as I do a sharp, deep ache forms around my heart. I reposition my head on her shoulder and close my eyes.

Xena and I have known each other for quite a while, but it’s only recently that we’ve become lovers. It wasn’t anything we’d planned or even really talked about. It just happened and when it did we were both surprised by its’ arrival and intensity. That’s not to say that I hadn’t thought about it… but it was more subconsciously thinking about it, rather than fantasising or dreaming about it. When we met it was never something that I expected or yearned for. But over time I have fallen in love with her and the night that we faced our love was so special because I finally knew how she felt about me…

*** 4 moons earlier…***

The night was hot, even out in the forest. Xena had been asleep pretty much since the sun went down but I just couldn’t get comfortable. She was lying so close to me that I could feel her breath on the back of my neck. I was restless and the ground was unforgiving as I tried to find the ‘right spot’. Xena put her arm over me, trying to help I suppose, so I guessed she wasn’t heavily asleep. I got up and walked over to the stream. I dipped my hand in and was surprised by its’ coldness. I heard Xena moving around behind me. I turned and saw she was now propped up on her right elbow, staring at me.
"What’s wrong?" She asked. I took my time to answer and when I did it was very quietly.

"I want more." I said.
"More? More what? More excitement? More travelling? More adventure? More what?" I walked back over to our beds and sat down next to her.
"More love." Xena took my hand and pulled me close. She placed my hand on her heart and said,
"All the love I have in here is for you. You’re the one who showed me that it’s okay to feel love and to express it." I couldn’t say anything. I felt a sudden ache in my gut and such adoration and love for this woman, my best friend, basically my only friend these days. I lay down next to her, leaving my hand on her heart. I was spellbound by the look in her eyes, it wasn’t anything I knew so I let her speak.
"Gabrielle, you are the reason I get up in the morning – to see you, to feel your strength. You have saved me from becoming someone I wasn’t meant to be. When we sit together at night I can hardly wait to hear you tell me a story. You have this gift that I don’t know how to describe, but it engulfs my whole being and takes me somewhere I never thought I’d be. You are so beautiful and I love you very much and I’ve wanted to tell you that for such a long time." I lay very still, not knowing how to respond. All I could murmur was: "Thank you…" I tried to go on, but she put a finger up to my mouth and said,
"Please. Don’t say anything." Then she leant down and kissed me. It was the softest kiss I’d ever felt. It didn’t last long and I wasn’t sure if I’d dreamt it.
"I love you." Xena whispered.
"I love you too." I replied. This time I kissed her. It was a risk, but I felt this immense. Ache for her body, her power and her passion, I needed to know how she felt. So I kissed her long and sweet. She didn’t pull away, in fact she kissed me back. When we stopped kissing I looked at her, deep into her eyes. She said,
"I need you. I want you. But I won’t make you do anything you don’t want to." I looked her straight in the eye and slowly said,
"I just want you."
"You’ve got me." She replied. She kissed me again and her hand went from near my mouth down my neck. She gently stroked it and gradually got lower. Her hand brushed my breast and I moved closer to her, putting my right leg between her thighs. She started undoing my shirt. My hand was still over her heart so I gently started to caress her breast. Her nipple became hard and she stopped kissing me, she looked at me for a moment and said,
"Are you sure?"
"I’ve never been more sure of anything in my life. I promise… Are you?" I replied.
"Yes. Oh yes..."


At the fork in the road we say goodbye to the others. I pull myself closer and wrap my hands tighter around Xena’s waist, letting the smell of her intoxicate me. Xena turns Argo around and we go back towards the Inn. When we arrive Xena helps me off Argo and looks at me with her piercing eyes. Those eyes. Those eyes that can look deep inside my soul and heal me. Those eyes that can stop me in my tracks… Turn me on… Those eyes that are part of that face, that person, that soul, that often mirrors my own. I know I should apologise for being stand-offish, they are, after all, her friends. But I can’t seem to find the words. I am suddenly hot, so I walk over to the well, pulling the bucket up and splash the cool water on my face. I want to tell her how I feel, but when I open my mouth nothing comes out. She puts Argo in the barn beside our room and walks over to me. She puts her hand on my shoulder and says,
"I know. I feel it too." I am so relieved and I put my hand on hers. I lay my head back on her shoulder and close my eyes. She wraps her arms around my waist and kisses my neck very gently. She’s so powerful. So intoxicating. So tender. We’re silent for a long time then she whispers,
"Let’s go inside."


Xena lays down on the bed and pats the spot beside her. I keep brushing my hair, pretending not to notice.
"Okay Gabrielle. What are you thinking?" She asks.
"Nothing." I reply.
"Uh-huh. You want to be more specific than that?"
"What’s this? You lost for words?" Xena flashes a cheeky grin at me, but I’m not in the mood to bite tonight. She tries again.
"Come on… You know you want to talk… it’s what you’re good at…"
"Flattery will get you nowhere Xena… You know what it’s about anyway." I say tiredly.
"Gabrielle, it’s going to be fine…" I glance over at her, she’s still smiling.
"So, what do you think of my friends? They’ve got some stories haven’t they? Don’t you just love the one about…."
"Stop it Xena! How can you ignore this? How can you even think of having fun when this is between us?"
"What? I can’t even have fun now? Well I’m sorry Gabrielle but you’re not going to make me feel guilty about this. It’s the way it has to be and that’s all there is to it. End of story!" I slam the brush down on the small wooden table in front of me and get up angrily.
"You’re really not going to talk about this are you? Don’t you care that we may never see each other again? Or that you might be killed and I wouldn’t know and then I would miss your funeral or…"
"Gabrielle! Breathe! Slow down!" Xena yells. I stop, take a deep breath and concentrate on a thread that’s hanging off my skirt. Xena comes over to me and puts her hands on my shoulders. I concentrate even harder on the thread as she says,
"We will talk about this, I promise. But I just don’t want to think about having to say goodbye to you. You have changed my life so much and I can’t comprehend how it’s going to be without you by my side. But at the same time, I know that it’s time for you to move on, to follow your dreams, to become the best you can. And that’s why I won’t stop you going to Athens and the Academy."
"But what if that’s not really my destiny? What if I’m really meant to be with you?"
"Well… you’ll know."
"You just will. The Fates will show us both. Trust them. They’ve got a plan for us all."
"But Xena… I love you. I’m going to miss you so much. You’ve changed my life. You’re my everything and it hurts so much to think about leaving you. What if I’m not strong enough to do it?"
"Gabrielle, you often doubt your inner strength. But it’s there. I’ve seen it and it will carry you through." Xena leans down and kisses my forehead.
"It will. I promise…"


"Morning lover." Xena’s voice echoes through my dreams. I open my eyes and look around. Where am I again? Oh that’s right, the town, the inn. My eyes focus on Xena. I smile and stretch. She rolls over onto me and runs her hands up my arms, effectively pinning me to the bed. She puts her hands in mine and kisses me.
"Hi." I say.
"You wanna play for a little while?" She asks.
"Maybe!" I reply, flashing Xena a cheeky smile.
"Playing hard to get?"
"Who? Me? Never!"
"I would hope not." She says. She kisses me again, then moves down my neck planting soft, seductive kisses everywhere. My body begins to respond almost immediately and Xena plays it for everything it’s worth! She stops kissing me and moves down to my chest, I can feel her breath against my skin and it sends goose bumps down my spine. My breathing becomes faster, I close my eyes as she starts to suck my nipple through my nightshirt. She runs her tongue over it until it’s hard and I arch my back up. Xena stops, giving a wicked laugh and moves back up to kiss my lips.
"Oh Xena… please..." I whisper.
"Well, well, I didn’t think you were in the mood!"
"I… ah... changed my mind…" She lets my hands go so I take her face in my right hand and kiss her. Then I push her off me and onto her back. I lay over her and run my index finger from her cheek to her belly button, effectively undoing the lace bow of her nightshirt. Her skin becomes goose bumpy and a shudder runs through her. She grabs my buttocks and pulls me closer, but I say,
"Uh-ah. It’s my turn to play."
"But I woke up turned on!" Xena complains.
"Too bad. This is my treat! I can take as long as I want!" I tease.
"Okay." She says reluctantly. I kiss her lips and remove her hands from my buttocks. Then very slowly I slide down her body planting soft kisses up and down her stomach and chest. More shudders affect her body and I know it won’t take long for her to get there, but I want to have some fun! I slowly go lower as Xena whispers,
"Yes… oh yes…" But instead of kissing her most intimate spot, I keep going down to her thigh. I softly bite and kiss the top of her thigh. A growl escapes from Xena’s mouth, so I bite harder. She shudders again and reaches down to run her hand through my hair. I’m getting pretty excited myself so I pull myself back on top of her. I kiss Xena and begin to lift her nightshirt up. She helps me take it off and I take mine off. I’m now sitting on top of her. She looks at me and says,
"I guess you’re ready now huh?"
"Oh yeah." I reply. She takes a long look at me and says,
"I love every inch of your body… and I love that it’s all mine!"
"Do you now?"
"Well that’s very nice to know." I bend down and kiss her.
"Any favourite parts?" I ask between kisses.
"Mmm. Nope. It’s all just… Mmm.…" She runs her hands down my arms and pulls me the rest of the way down on to herself. She keeps kissing me as her hand travels lower…


"Okay. So let’s talk." Xena says, getting up from the bed to put her leathers on.
"Are you serious?" I ask, not believing what I’m hearing.
"Okay… where do you want to start?" I say slowly.
"Is there really a start? I think I’ll just say something and see where that takes us." Xena draws in a big breath and starts.
"Well… I understand you wanting to be a bard and as hard as it is for me to say this, I have to. This is something that you need to do. It’s your destiny. You don’t need to be with me to find strength. You need to go and make a name for yourself as a storyteller, a bard, as ‘Gabrielle: Bard of Poteidaia’. You were so young when we first met and over that time I’ve watched you change and mature. You’re so different now, not that that’s a bad thing… it’s just that I’ve really noticed it lately and when you said you wanted to go to Athens, I just knew that it was the right choice…"
"But…" I start. Xena holds up her hand.
"Let me finish. Believe me when I tell you that now is the time to work towards what you want to do – while you’re young. Sometimes goals and dreams take longer to achieve than we thought they would, so it’s important to go for them as soon as you recognise them. A year ago you wouldn’t have been ready. But now… well... now you are, and it was your decision, not mine. That’s so important."
"So what you’re saying is that you’ve been thinking of telling me to leave for a while now. Leave the exciting, loving life I have with you and become a lonely bard… and you still get to do all the fun stuff?" I ask impatiently.
"No. Well, yes. Sort of. You know what I mean. I don’t always enjoy what I do and now there will probably be more times when I don’t like it because you’re not there with me. But don’t ever think I’m telling you to go because I want to get rid of you. It’s because you should go."
"Right. Got someone else lined up to take my place too I suppose?" I say selfishly.
"Gabrielle…" Xena says, walking back over to the bed. She sits down and takes my hand.
"There’s no-one else. There could never be anyone else. You hold my heart. Always have, always will."
"Sure. What about before I was here, you were with heaps of people then, how can you be so sure that you won’t get it on with everyone again?" I take my hand from hers.
"It’s true that I’ve been with others, but I didn’t love them. They were just people. I experienced things with other people so I could be good for you. I always knew I was practising for someone very special!" Xena smiles and touches my cheek, I turn away and she lets her hand fall back beside her.
"Yeah, good line Xena, maybe you should be the one going to Athens." Xena takes my chin in her hand and turns my face to look at her.
"Don’t do this Gabrielle. It’s not who you are. You know that this decision is the right one to be making."
"Well you would say that." I say, removing her hand.
"Fine. I’m not going to fight with you about this. I’m going down to feed Argo." Xena says. She gets up and leaves the room. I want to run after her, to tell her I’m sorry. But I can’t move. I don’t know how to deal with this… and her wanting to talk about it… what was that all about? I lay down on the bed and close my eyes, begging sleep to come so I won’t have to think about this anymore.


"How much further is it?" I asked Xena. We’ve been travelling all morning and my feet are killing me. Xena is riding Argo and I – as usual – am walking.
"Not much further, there’s a large camping site not far from here. We’ll spend the night there and we should arrive in Athens about this time tomorrow."
"Why don’t we just keep going today?" I ask.
"Because I don’t wa-… because we’re just not." Xena stumbles. I look up at her. Are those tears forming in her eyes? I look back at the road again, I’ve been tricking myself into not thinking about our goodbye all morning by seeing how many different trees I can name (about 10 all up). Xena has been quiet too, neither of us really know what to say after the small fight we had last night.
"Would you like to ride up here with me for a bit?" Xena asks suddenly.
"Um… sure." I reply, surprised. Xena moves to the back of Argo and lets me sit in front. She’s becoming more and more puzzling by the day.
"Are you comfortable?" She asks.
"Yes. You?"
"Mmm-hmm." She puts her arms around my waist, holding me tightly. I hold onto Argo’s reins as she lays her head on my shoulder, humming softly to herself. I can feel how tense she is. What’s wrong Xena? You can tell me.
"Nothing. I just want to feel your body." She replies. Gods! Did I say that out loud? I hate it when I do that…
"Is that why you want to camp out tonight? So you can feel my body?" I ask, half-serious, half-seductively.
"Maybe. You realise that tonight will be the last night we’re together for a long time… maybe forever."
"Don’t say forever Xena it’s too long… and what about when we get to Athens tomorrow? Won’t you stay just one night with me?"
"I can’t Gabrielle." Xena takes her head from my shoulder and looks away. I make Argo stop and turn around to look at Xena. Her arms are still around my waist, but not as tightly now.
"Can’t or won’t?" I ask evenly.
"Can’t." She replies.
"Gabrielle please. Just leave it." She goes to get off Argo but I grab her arm.
"Answer me Xena."
"No. One day maybe, but not now." I take my hand from her arm and say,
"No, don’t get off. I will." I jump off Argo as Xena says,
"Gabrielle. Don’t get defensive. It’s not you, it’s me."
"Yeah, that’s original." I mutter under my breath. Xena either doesn’t hear or chooses to ignore my comment, she moves back to her original position on Argo and we continue towards the camping spot.


"Okay, let’s set up here." Xena says. It’s the first time she’s said anything for hours and it snaps me out of my daydream. We set up camp and I look for firewood while Xena gets Argo settled. I find quite a lot of good dry wood and make a fire. Xena mutters something about going to kill something and leaves the clearing. The fire has caught nicely so I set up our beds. I lay them beside each other, as always. Wondering if we’ll make love tonight or ever again for that matter. Xena has seemed so distant the last few hours and I contemplate separating the beds altogether. But then again, I don’t want to seem presumptuous, maybe she’ll take it the wrong way and our last night together will be ruined. What should I do? I leave them side by side for now and go back to play with the fire. I’m still poking at it when Xena returns.
"I got us some pheasant." She says.
"Hmm… what?" I ask, startled.
"I said, I found some pheasants."
"Oh, great. Would you like me to start cooking them now?"
"Yeah, I’m starving." Xena replies. Neither of us say anything while the pheasants cook or when we’re eating. We are sitting so close, yet feeling so far away. If only I could find the right words to say all the things inside of me.
"I’m going for a walk." Xena says almost as soon as she’s finished her dinner.
"Where?" I ask, surprised. Does she really want to be away from me that much already?
"I don’t know yet."
"Would you like some company?"
"No!" Xena shouts. Her face softens when she sees the surprised look on my face, she smiles, kisses me on the forehead and says,
"I mean, thanks for offering, but I just want to be alone"
"Okay. Well, I’ll be here."
"Good. See you soon."
"Yeah, bye."


There it is again. What is that sound? Surely it isn’t Xena… But then again she has been gone for an awfully long time… what if something’s happened to her? Maybe if I stand up I’ll be able to see what it is. Should I get dressed? No. I’ll take a look first, then decide. I stand and narrow my eyes. I can just make out Xena’s familiar shape through the trees. She seems to be fine so I lay down again in the bed. Do I really want to talk to her? All we seemed to do today was fight, that or not talk at all. I know it was my fault earlier – at least for some of it, but she can be so frustrating sometimes! I don’t want to hurt her, but I also want to know where we stand. Maybe tomorrow on the road will be a good time to bring that up. But by then it will be too late, won’t it? Tomorrow is THE day. The day to say goodbye. Oh Gods, don’t cry Gabrielle! Just don’t cry.

Xena enters the clearing quietly. I lay as still as I can, pretending to be asleep. I can feel Xena’s eyes on me, checking the steadiness of my breathing. I will myself to make it slow, but I can’t really tell how well I’m doing. A few moments later I hear the familiar clinking of her armour being taken off. She lays down on her bed and puts her arm around me. She kisses my shoulder and quietly whispers in my ear.
"Gabrielle, are you awake?" I stay silent, trying to keep my composure.
"I’m sorry I had to go Gabrielle. I just couldn’t handle being so close to you knowing that… well… you know… um… damn… I’m glad you’re not awake to hear me stumbling through this… my heart is breaking the closer we get to Athens…" I feel a tear drop down onto my shoulder.
"I’m trying so hard to be strong, but I figure that if I keep my distance then saying goodbye will be easier… Gods! Who thought I’d ever feel this way? I mean dealing with Marcus’ death was hard, but I could accept that because it was out of my hands. But saying goodbye to you is so much harder because you’re not dead. You’re just leaving."
"I’m not asleep." I say quietly.
"Can you forgive me?" She asks, running her hand from my shoulder to my fingers.
"How could I not?" I reply. I roll over onto my other side and drink in the beauty that is my partner, my best friend, my lover. For someone who doesn’t wash her hair very often I can’t believe how much it shines in the moonlight! I wipe away the tear that is running down her cheek and open my covers. She gets in, kissing me gently.
"I love you." She whispers.
"I love you too." I reply.
"I’m sorry I’ve ruined our last full day together. I just don’t know how to handle this."
"Neither do I. Do… Do you want to make love or something?"
"No. I just want to feel your body close to mine."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes." I lie in the comfort and warmth of Xena’s body, not wanting to ever break this contact. So many questions fill my mind and sleep will not come. Will this be the last time I ever hold her? Will I be able to sleep without her by my side? How different is it really going to be with me in Athens and her out in the world, away from me, fighting the Gods and other mortals without me by her side? What if she needs me and I’m not there?
"I’ll manage…" Xena mumbles.
"What?" Damn I did it again!
"You said, ‘What if she needed me and I wasn’t there?’ and I said I’d manage. I’d learn that you weren’t there any more, so I wouldn’t be looking to you for support."
"Oh." I reply.
"Don’t worry about me. I can take care of myself, I did it before I met you, I’m sure I can do it again."
"Yes, but we’ve been together so long, what if you forget that I’m not there and you rely on me and I let you down and you get killed? I could never forgive myself." I say, the words tumbling out before I can stop them.
"Hey shh… I’ll be okay. I promise. Nothing will happen to me… except I’ll become hugely famous because of all the stories you’ll write and tell about me wherever you go!"
"Don’t joke about this Xena. I really mean it… what if you need me and I’m not there?"
"That will never happen because if I really needed you I’d send someone to find you."
"You would?"
"Oh." I reply, not knowing what to say.
"Now go to sleep. We have an exciting journey ahead of us tomorrow." My chest suddenly tightens and my heart feels heavy again. This is the last night we will spend together as the Warrior Princess and the Bard, for who knows how long. I close my eyes, silently praying that tomorrow will never come and we won’t have to say goodbye.


The sun streams through my closed eyelids. Surely it can’t be morning already, I only just fell asleep. My back is cool, Xena isn’t beside me. I roll over and rub my eyes. I look around and my gaze focuses on the fire, which looks like it’s been out for ages. Xena stares into her cup. I prop myself up on my elbow and look at her. Her muscled arms are still, she looks tense. There is someone sitting on her left side, I can’t quite make out who it is from here. I fumble for my clothes, which are beside the bedroll, put them on and walk over Ah… it’s Hercules…
"I’ll see what I can do. But I’m not promising anything…" Xena says quietly.
"Thank you. You’re really my last hope…" Hercules looks up at me.
"Ah... the sleeping beauty awakens at last."
"Hello Hercules." I say, placing my hands on Xena’s shoulders.
"It’s good to see you Gabrielle."
"You too. What brings you to these parts?"
"You two actually… as I was just explaining to Xena…" Xena cuts him off saying,
"I’ll tell you later Gabrielle." Hercules looks as surprised as I am but doesn’t say anything.
"You go back to Iolaus. We’ll pack up here and I’ll meet you in Kremus sometime between today and two or three days, depending on the weather." Xena says.
"Okay. See you then. Goodbye Gabrielle." Hercules replies. He and Xena stand, they shake hands, he nods to me and then leaves. I turn to Xena.
"What’s going on?"
"Nothing. You’re going to Athens and I’m going to help out an old friend." Xena throws some dregs from her cup and starts to walk towards the beds.
"Uh-huh. So why don’t I believe you?"
"I don’t know Gabrielle, why don’t you?" Xena says, annoyance evident in her voice.
"Xena. Let’s not do this again, yesterday was bad enough." I grab her arm and spin her around to face me. She seems surprised by my strength. Her eyes soften and she says,
"Look, Hercules has this young girl he wants me to meet. He says that her parents were killed and she’s got no-one to look out for her. He wants me to take her under my wing."
"Right. Well why didn’t you just tell me then?" I ask, jealousy creeping into my heart.
"Because, you don’t need to be thinking about what I’m doing… you’ve got to focus on your journey."
"Did you know about this girl the other night when I asked you if there was someone else?"
"No of course not. Hercules just arrived this morning and asked me."
"Great, so you’re going off on some fantastic adventure with some new babe and you want me to focus on my studies?!" I yell.
"Gabrielle stop it!" Xena shouts, grabbing my shoulders tightly.
"This is what I was talking about! You’re over reacting."
"I’m not over reacting!" I shout back. Xena says nothing, just arches her eyebrow.
"Don’t give me that damn eyebrow look!" I yell. I turn from Xena and start to pack up my things. Xena senses that I won’t listen to her, so she doesn’t even try, she just packs up her bedroll as well. I finish and say,
"I’m gonna start, I’m sure you’ll catch up to me on Argo. Which way is Athens?"
"North… The way Hercules went."
"Thank you." I reply and walk off in that direction.


We have finally arrived in Athens! Thank the Gods. Things are still tense between Xena and I, but I’m sure it’ll get better now. Xena jumps off Argo and lands beside me. ‘Show-off.’ I think to myself. Xena starts to fiddle with her leathers - a sure sign that she’s uncomfortable. She unhooks my bag from Argo’s saddle and we look around, then she says,

"Well, here we are in Athens. There’s the Academy. Do you want me to walk you over?"
"Of course." I reply. Why would she even ask me that? We walk across the courtyard and I take my bag from Xena. I take out my application form and hand it to a woman sitting at a crudely made table with the sign ‘APPLICATIONS LODGED HERE’ stuck next to it. She studies it for a moment then says,
"You’re in Room 4. You will be sharing it with two other young girls. They have not arrived yet. The kitchen is only a short walk from your room. I hope you have a pleasant and rewarding time here. Thank you…Next!" Xena and I move away from the table.
"Well she was rude." I say.
"Yeah, and she talked in such small sentences."
"Gee Xena, if you start noticing that sort of thing then maybe you should join me here!" I say, trying to ease the tension between us.
"I don’t think so." She says solemnly. We come to the door of my new room. I open it and go in, Xena follows me closely, subconsciously checking for booby traps and ambushes. Of course there are none, so I choose a bed and put my bag on it.
"Well, I’d better get going." Xena says.
"Yeah, I’m not sure where I’m camping out yet and I’m sure you’ll want to get comfortable before your room mates get here."
"I suppose. Are you to meet Hercules and Iolaus tonight?"
"No. I’ll catch up with them tomorrow."
"Well wait here, I’ll get you something from the kitchen."
"You will wait, won’t you?"
"Yes. I promise."
"Okay. I’ll be right back." I walk out of the room and over to the kitchen. Why is she anxious to leave. What will I say to her? I don’t want to say goodbye. I can’t… not yet. A large woman comes bustling over to me.
"Hello. I’m Gabrielle. I’m new here." I say, flashing my best ‘I’m so innocent and charming’ grin.
"Hello Gabrielle. I’m Chef - for obvious reasons. Is there something I can get for you?"
"Yes actually, my friend has a long journey ahead of her and I was wondering if I could get some sandwiches for her."
"Of course you can dear. How many?"
"Um… three if that’s all right, she’s not a fussy eater so just whatever you have."
"Okay dear, won’t be a tick. Why don’t you have a seat and I’ll bring them out."
"Thank you so much Chef… Oh… would you have some parchment I could borrow, I’d like to slip a note in with it."
"Of course." Chef opens a large cupboard and takes out a piece of parchment. She hands it to me, and I start this note to Xena:
First of all, I love you very, very much and I will miss you… Why does it hurt so much to say goodbye? It’s not forever. I can always see you when you’re in these parts, and that’s fairly often. But… things will change so much. Nothing will be as it has. I’m not scared, well maybe a little. But it feels like a piece of my heart is being broken off and taken away. If only I could tell you this. If only I could find out if you feel the same. If…

I finish the note and roll the parchment up as Chef returns with the sandwiches.
"There you go dear."
"Thank you Chef. I’ll be back later for some food for me!"
"Okay then, take care!" Chef chuckles. I hide the parchment in the sandwich wrapper and return to Xena who is patiently waiting in my room. The other two girls still haven’t arrived so I hand the parcel to Xena and say,
"Do I get a goodbye kiss?"
"Ah.. no I don’t think so Gabrielle." My heart lurches… what did I do? What did I say? Why doesn’t she want to kiss me?
"Okay." I reply quietly.
"You’re not mad are you?" Xena asks. She lifts my chin and stares deep into my eyes.
"No. Why would I be mad? It’s just that I thought that because we were… well, you know… that… oh look, it doesn’t matter. How about I just walk you out? You should get as far from here as you can before nightfall, it’ll make your journey faster tomorrow." Xena continues to stare at me, but I won’t budge.
"Okay. That’s a good idea. I suppose." She concedes slowly. We walk back through the courtyard to the city gates. Xena turns to me and says,
"Gabrielle, I want you to know that I’m grateful for all you’ve helped me become. I love you so much and I want you to be happy. I would love for you to stay with me, but this is where you really belong - in Athens…" She bends down and kisses me on the cheek.
"I’ll be back to see you soon. I love you."
"I love you too." I kiss Xena on the cheek. She turns and gets up onto Argo. She smiles at me and waves, then slowly turns around and leaves me. Forever? I silently wonder.


As I lay in bed I realise how lonely I am. Neither of my room mates have arrived and Xena’s been gone almost half a day. I wish she was here to hold me in her arms. I hate the way she left. I didn’t get to…
"Gabrielle!" Is that Xena’s voice? I sit up in bed. No, I must be hearing things - wishful thinking.
"Gabrielle!" There it is again. I push back the covers and go to the door.
"Xena?" I whisper through it.
"Yes. Open up." I quickly open the door and Xena rushes in. I close it quietly and say.
"What are you doing here?"
"Um… I found the note you sent me… thank you. I couldn’t leave things the way they were. You mean too much to me and it was wrong of me to treat you that way. Will you come with me?"
"Now?!" I ask, not believing what I’m hearing.
"Yes now. I set up camp just outside the city walls, I’ll bring you back in the morning. But please come with me now."
"Okay, just let me put some clothes on."
"Okay. But hurry." Xena replies. I get dressed in record time and follow Xena to where she left Argo. She climbs up and helps me on. We ride to where she is camped and I let the smell of her leathers and her own scent surround me. We get to the camping spot, and without saying a word she takes me to her bed. She lays me down and starts to undress me. I try to help her take her leathers off, but she swats playfully at my hand and does it herself. Once we’re fully undressed she opens up the bedroll and we get in. I run my finger down her neck and between her breasts. She shudders at the touch and I catch her lips with mine. Her tongue enters my mouth, hot and horny. I let her fill my mouth with hers, groaning with satisfaction. She breaks the kiss (a little too quickly for my liking!) and takes the rest of her clothes off. She smiles her thousand dinar smile and pulls me in close. She kisses me again, long and sweet.
"Take me!" I demand playfully.
"With pleasure!" She replies and does, running her hands all over my body as though for the first time. She kisses me in all the right places and lets her fingers do the talking. When we finish we lay in each other’s arms, lost in our own thoughts.


I’m massaging her neck, shoulders and back. She lays her head against my stomach and puts her right hand over mine.
"Mmm… Feels so good. I’m going to miss this."
"Well then, you’ll have to come back once a week. I won’t even charge you for it!" I say. I stop massaging and put my arms around her neck, hugging her tightly.
"Sounds good. A week is a long time away, will you be okay until then?" She asks.
"Sure… Just think… now you’ll be able to do things without thinking now! Without me fighting you because I want to follow you into danger! Where I’m staying no harm can come to me, that should make you feel better."
"You, not get into trouble? Sure, I’ve heard that one before!" I give her a gentle slap. Xena is quiet for a minute then she says,
"You’ve kept me from going back and living in my dark side so many times. I just hope I can do it without you."
"You’ll never go back to that life. You are too different now." I say.
"Am I? Sometimes the old feelings and self-destructive behaviour are so close and it would be easy to just slip back into old habits."
"You won’t. You’ll be carrying around a piece of me with you everywhere and that will ensure you don’t. So don’t make the stories I write and tell about you be nothing like the woman I know and love."
"Thank you Gabrielle."
"You’re welcome. Now, I really must go."
"Just one more massage?"
"No, you’ve already had more than enough! What I’ve given you will tide you over until you come back next week."
"Oh okay. But why do you have to leave this morning, why can’t you leave later this afternoon or tonight?"
"Because I’ve got some sort of orientation thing today. Getting to know everyone or something."
"Oh okay. I’ll take you back."
"Actually, I’d like to walk. It’s a beautiful day."
"You won’t be late will you?"
"No. Why?"
"Oh, no reason, it’s just that I know how you like to ‘smell the flowers’!"
"Ha, ha. I promise I won’t dawdle, if you promise to come back in a week."
"It’s a deal. Now come here." Xena grabs my hand and pulls me in close. She kisses me sweetly and whispers.
"I love you Gabrielle."
"I love you too Xena." I reply.


Please stay tuned for the next exciting instalment in this Xena and Gabrielle series… called The Weekend Visitor… Proudly brought to you by Heartstarter and Ripley. Enjoy!

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