For disclaimers, see Part 1.
Reunion Part Two
"Can I help you?" The girl asked.
"I'm, uh… I'm looking for Gabrielle. Does she live here?" Xena asked.
The girl nodded. "Yeah, she's probably sleeping, but that's all right. I need to wake her up anyway." She smiled. "Come in, please."
Xena stepped in to the modest but comfortable house.
"Have a seat. My mom is kind of slow riser, so it might take a few minutes. I'll be right back." The girl stepped through a door on the right.
A fireplace stood in the far right corner of the room with a wooden table near it. A place to prepare food was near the fireplace, and there was a door to the right and the left of the room. Scattered about were several dozen candles, and five or six oil lamps.
The door opened quietly again, and the girl sat down at the table next to the fire.
"Would you like some tea?" the girl asked as she prepared a cup for herself. "And, please sit. My mom might be a few minutes."
"That would be great," Xena smiled and sat.
The girl busied herself getting the stranger's tea ready. Setting the cup in front of her, the girl said, "I'm Melosa, and you are?"
"Xena of Amphipolis."
Melosa choked on her tea. "You're THE XENA? THE Warrior Princess? The one my mom tells stories about?"
Xena smirked. "The one and only."
Just then, the door opened again, and very sleepy Gabrielle shuffled into the room. "And who've we got here?" She mumbled.
Xena thought that her heart would stop. It felt like eons before she could will herself to turn around. Slowly, so that her heart could catch up, Xena turned and stood up.
Half way to the table Gabrielle stopped, her feet glued to the floor, her mouth hanging open. She could hardly believe her eyes. Before her stood her long lost friend, the woman she thought to be long dead.
The warrior tried to swallow, but found that her mouth had gone dry. "It's me, Gabrielle." Xena smiled, but it was a smile of uneasiness.
Before her stood the best friend she had ever had, and although 20 years had passed, Gabrielle did not look that much different. Her blonde hair had gone almost completely gray, and her eyes were still the same deep green that she remembered. There were a few extra lines to her face, but time had been kind to her.
Silence permeated the room. Quietly, Melosa left the table, saying something about taking care of Xena's horse.
"Please say something." Xena begged.
"I must be dreaming."
"You're not dreaming."
"Oh my gods." Her feet became mobile once again, and she ran to Xena. Tenderly, Gabrielle reached out to touch Xena's face. Lightly her fingers caressed a small scar on the side of Xena's face. A soft sob rose from her throat. "It really is you."
As if not believing it herself, Xena touched Gabrielle's hand. "It really is."
"I… oh gods… I thought you were dead." Tears flowed freely from Gabrielle's eyes.
"No. I just… I had to get away." It sounded pathetic to even her own ears.
"Why? Couldn't you have told me? You were my best friend. At least I thought you were." Gabrielle was nearly shouting now, her hands balled into tight fists.
"I had to leave Gabrielle, before I did something that I would regret." Xena whispered.
"Oh? And what was that?" Gabrielle's voice almost sounded bitter.
"This." Xena took a step closer, and kissed the shocked woman gently on her lips. The kiss was gentle and chaste, but filled with emotion that she couldn't show all those years ago.
Taking a breath Gabrielle said, "I see." She looked up into deep blue eyes.
"I had to leave Gabrielle. I just couldn't bear to live knowing that you were with someone else. Seeing you happy and wanting to be with Perdicus reminded me that I lost. So I ran." Xena turned around and sat down at the table. "I ran because I was a coward." She smacked her fist on the tabletop. "And now I've wasted too many years when I could have been here with you. Or at least been your friend, and a part of your life."
"You're here now, Xena." Gabrielle said, putting her arm around the woman and sitting down next to her.
With those words, the floodgates opened. Xena wept. She wept for time lost and wasted years. "I'm sorry, so sorry." She mumbled over and over again.
Taking the warrior in her arms, Gabrielle whispered words of comfort to the troubled woman. Finally, Xena calmed and looked up at the woman who was holding her. Tenderly, Gabrielle kissed Xena's eyes, tasting her tears.
"No more tears Xena." Gabrielle smiled. "You're here now, and we can begin again."
Xena hugged her friend tightly to her chest, feeling the warmth of Gabrielle's body seep into her heart.
The door on the other side of the room opened slowly, and a child's face peeked through. "Can we come out now Momma?" The child asked.
"Of course. There is someone here who I'd like for you to meet." Gabrielle answered.
Melosa and two other girls entered the living space. Gabrielle turned to the girls as they sat down at the table.
"Girls, this is a good friend of mine, Xena." She smiled.
The child sitting across from Xena nearly choked on her tea. "You're Xena?" she asked.
Xena nodded, looking a bit gruff. "Who are you?"
"These are my lovely daughters," Gabrielle answered, with a bit of sarcasm in her voice. "You met Melosa, and these are my twins, Xenia and Lycia."
Xena didn't know what to say. Her eyes found Gabrielle, and sent her some quiet reassurance.
Lycia turned to Xenia. "See I told you she really knows Xena. Pay up." She slid her empty hand in front of her sister. Everyone around the table chuckled.
"All right girls. Get yourselves ready for school. Xena and I will be out in a moment." Taking the other woman's hand, Gabrielle led Xena in to her bedroom. Faint kissing sounds where heard coming from the living room.
"You'll have to excuse them. Lycia is a bit rambunctious." Gabrielle laughed, noticing Xena's nervousness.
"Gabrielle," whispered Xena, "This is your bedroom!"
"Why, what do ya know? It most certainly is!" Gabrielle said in mock seriousness, clutching at her breast.
"I… um… well that is…" Xena stammered.
"Relax princess," Gabrielle chuckled, touching the other woman's shoulder reassuringly, "I didn't bring you in here to have my way with you." She laughed. "I thought you might like to have a bath, to get some of that road grime off of you."
Xena swallowed loudly and replied, "Oh. Oh yeah, that would be nice."
Gabrielle quickly gathered a few towels and some soap. She dragged the wooden tub out of the corner and pointed to the buckets of hot water warming by the fire. "There's hot water for you and a well out behind the house if you need more. I'm going to take the girls to school. I should be back in a few minutes." Gabrielle smiled and left Xena to her bath.
When Gabrielle returned, she found Xena sitting at the table drinking some tea. Across from her was a second cup.
"Thanks, Xena." Gabrielle said, sitting down across from the former Warrior Princes. Sighing, she looked up at Xena. "What brings you Xena? Not that I'm not happy to see you. I am. I just never thought…"
Xena stood up and offered Gabrielle her hand. "Come on, let's go for a ride."
"All right, but let me pack us lunch." Gabrielle said while taking care of the breakfast things.
A few minutes later Gabrielle was packed, and Xena had readied the horse. Storm was a sturdy mount, slightly smaller that Argo, but strong and willing to do what his mistress asked of him.
Gabrielle looked up expectantly at Xena. "Can I ride up there with you?" She asked.
"Sure can," Xena replied and offered her arm to help the smaller woman up.
"Let me up front Xena," Gabrielle said, "I have a great spot for a picnic. It's on a bit of land that I own just outside of town."
Xena nodded as Gabrielle settled herself in front and took the reins. "He's a beautiful horse. What happened to Argo?" She asked as she led them on the road out of town.
"Argo passed away several years ago." Xena answered quietly.
Gabrielle took a hold of the other woman's hand and wrapped it around her waist. "I'm sorry, she was very special." Gabrielle felt Xena nod.
They rode in silence the rest of the way. Soon Storm turned off the road and into the woods. It was a tall grove of pines, where a small lake, with a tiny waterfall hid. Gabrielle busied herself with the blanket, while Xena freed Storm of his saddle.
Gabrielle sat down and patted the blanket next to her. "Come sit Xena." She said, smiling up at the restless woman. "Xena, what's the matter? I've never seen you so… so nervous."
Xena sat, but fiddled with the edge of the woven blanket. "I don't want you to get the wrong idea."
"The wrong idea?" Gabrielle repeated.
"Yeah, about the reason I'm here." Xena took a deep breath. "I'm sick, Gabrielle."
"Sick?", The smaller woman puzzled.
"I'm getting the same tremors that my grandmother had." Xena said quietly. She looked up into Gabrielle's eyes, hoping that Gabrielle understood.
"She died. We went to her funeral." Gabrielle whispered.
Xena looked away, studying the foliage of a nearby bush.
"You came back to me to die. To die!" Gabrielle jumped to her feet, Xena quickly following. "How dare you! I thought you were dead, then you show up here, and finally I have hope again. And now you say you're dying?!" Gabrielle clenched her fists tightly, and beat on Xena's chest. All Xena could do was hold the distraught woman tightly.
"No, no, no!" Gabrielle sobbed into the tall woman's chest.
Xena held her tightly, rocking her back and forth. Both women were crying now. "I'm sorry, Gabrielle. Maybe I should go."
"Don't, don't you dare! Don't leave me again, please." Tears ran freely down the younger woman's face. "Stay, Xena. I won't let you go again. I love you. I've loved you since the beginning."
Not knowing what to say, Xena held Gabrielle even tighter. Several quiet moments passed. Xena felt feather light kisses on her throat and neck.
"Don't leave Xena." More kisses peppered the tall woman's neck.
"All right." Xena whispered, and sat the two of them on the blanket, pulling Gabrielle close. They sat entangled with each other for several candle marks.
Xena woke to a ticklish sensation on her stomach. She cracked open a sleepy blue eye to see Gabrielle running a piece of grass in circles around her bellybutton.
"I always admired your stomach. It's so flat." The blonde sighed and laid back.
"Yours is just as lovely," Xena replied, rolling Gabrielle over, and laying her hand on the other woman's abs.
"Come on," Gabrielle laughed, as she sat up, "I've had four children." She stood and offered Xena her hand, smiling.
"Even better!" Xena smirked at the blonde. She got an elbow in her ribs for that remark. "Hey! It's true! I love women, and women have babies, what's not to love?" Xena was serious now.
"Come on, Xena! Let's get wet!" Gabrielle shrieked, and took off, whipping off her clothes as she ran towards the lake. Xena just shook her head and followed.
Continued in Part
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