Remembering The Past
By Jessica M. Hudson
The heat of the day passed slowly as the two figures traveled the empty rode. Both lost in their own thoughts as the sun rose high in the sky. Gabrielle found herself continuously looking to the stoic woman riding next to her. Trying to figure ut why she was so intrigued by the strength that emanated her. ‘Who are you?’ She wondered as she watched. Stealing the courage she knew she needed to get to know this woman. Whom she knew had entered her life for some unknown reason. Perhaps by way of the higher powers she was set to learn as much from this beautiful creature as the days ahead would allow.
“Tell me about yourself?” She realized that she had spoken with out thinking of what the outcome would be. ‘Xena always said that I could get a clam to open up and tell me it’s secrets. Maybe that is what she needs. To have someone push her to talk.’
Maddie pulled herself from her momentary reverie. Realizing that the blonde had spoken for the first time in several hours. “Oh um, not much to tell really.” She glanced over at the understanding face of her rescuer. ‘I guess I should try and be nice, after all the woman did save my life.’
“I would like to know, if you don’t mind.” Gabrielle tried to gently encourage the women to talk.
“I guess I should start from the beginning. My parents died when I was 12 and I was sent into foster care. I was lucky and an older couple adopted me and took me to raise. They treated me well and gave me every advantage. When I graduated high school I joined the army and left them. We still talk every now and then but I have not seen them in many years.”
“You mentioned someone named Lisa?” Gabrielle did not want to seem eager, but her curiosity had gotten the better of her. She felt a strange feeling weighing on her heart and tried hard to understand it.
“Lisa is my family, my best friend. She and I work together. When she became a police officer and joined the department where I work, they teamed her up with me because we are the only women. I have to say that she annoyed me in the beginning and I tried as hard as I could to get her placed with someone else but my caption insisted that we work together. I guess you could say after all this time she has kinda grown on me. I could not imagine my life without her.” Maddie looked thoughtfully into the distance, a lost look in her eyes.
Gabrielle realized the look she bore was the same one she herself had seen in her own reflection. “Do you love her?” She knew she was taking a chance but for some reason she felt the need to ask this personal question.
Maddie paused for a moment bringing Argo to a brief halt. “She is my family...” Thinking she wanted to say more but knowing in her heart she could not she continued on. “We should make camp soon. I want to be well rested tomorrow hopefully we can make better time.”
Gabrielle quickly realized that she would get no more information on that subject, she conceded and allowed the stoic stranger a change of subject. She followed and began to look for a suitable spot to bed down for the night. Remembering that a stream was not to far up the road she urged Joxer into a light canter and motioned for Maddie to follow.
Several candle marks later the pair had stopped and cared for the their horses before setting up camp. Gabrielle built the fire pit and Maddie set out in search for wood. Returning she handed the wood over and began to lay out their bed rolls. Along the both had silently noticed the ease with which they worked. Almost as if they had been doing the same tasks for many years. Maddie hummed as she worked and thought of Lisa. Her heart ached at the thought of the younger woman being alone. ‘Does she miss me, God I miss her more then anything. Sleep will not some easy tonight. What I would not give to wake up with her in my arms as we did before.’
Once all chores were complete Gabrielle broke the long silence. “I am headed to the water to get us some fish. We can bathe before we fish.” She moved toward the water and Maddie followed close behind. Pausing in her tracks when she noticed the Bard had stopped near the water and began to remove her clothing. Turning around she began to feel very shy, not understanding why. She had bathed with women before. And sometimes with men near by when she was in the army. Weeks spent out in the field ensured that everyone got the eyes full when bath time approached.
A soft voice pulled her from her thoughts. “Are you coming?” She turned around saw the bard had entered the water and was looking on with confusion.
“Yes, just give me a moment.” She cleared her throat and ran her tongue over her suddenly dry lips. Quickly removing her clothing and leaping into the slightly chilled water. Gabrielle had noticed her shyness and moved away keeping her back to the blushing woman.
She began to wash herself. After a few moments Maddie gathered her courage and moved toward the blonde. Without thinking she reached over and removed the cloth from her hands. Still facing away Gabrielle froze. No one had been this close to her when she was naked, except for Xena. Maddie used the soap and lathered the cloth. She began to wash the bard’s back and shoulders.
Gabrielle stood frozen then forced her self to relax at the sweet gesture. Leaning into the woman behind her she closed her eyes and thought of Xena. Not being able to control the low moan that escaped her lips. She felt the hand washing her stiffen. Realizing what she had done she quickly turned around. Discomfort was plain between the two when their breaths mingled due to their close proximity. “I’ll wash your back.”
Maddie blushed turning around and allowing the small blonde to caress her sore back. Once finished Gabrielle noticed the stiff muscles in her neck and back. She reached over and handed the cloth to Maddie, who began to wash her arms and chest. She paused when she felt the bard’s soft, warm hands begin to knead her back. ‘God, she is good with her hands. Oh, this could not be good. I can not be attracted to her. I will be leaving soon.’ When finished washing she spoke, “thank you. I needed that.” She handed the soap and rag to the bard and quickly swam away.
Gabrielle finished bathing herself and used the skills Xena had taught her to catch fish. Two big trout lay on the shore in a matter of moments. Maddie had already exited the water and was drying with a clean cloth near by. Putting on her cloths she walked over the fish. “Not bad, I will clean them if you will cook them.”
“Sure, I always did the cooking anyway, with Xena, I mean.”
Maddie nodded, picking the fish up and moved to some flat rocks with a knife. She neatly filleted the large fish and took the meat back to camp where the bard waited. Handing them over she watched as she wrapped them in seasoning and some kind of leaf. Placing then on a flat rock in the center of the fire. Sitting back she looked across the fire at the dark woman. Taking in a quick breath and turning away when she noticed Maddie staring back.
Maddie began to speak, “I should sharpen my sword. You would not happen to have a sharpening stone in your saddle bags would you?” Gabrielle got up and walked to the bed roll on her side of the fire. Rooting around she found Xena’s old stone. Caressing the object as she would her lover’s face she walked to Maddie and handed it over. Returning to her side of the fire. Closing her eyes allowing the sound of the stone as it was dragged across the blade, sooth her.
She had not realized until that moment how much she desperately missed that sound. After a long day of fighting she and Xena would sit by the fire of their camp and she would write about the days events as the warrior sharpened her weapons. It soothed even her deepest hurts more than once during their travels.
Now each night all she heard was the sound of the creatures in the woods. The occasional owl above, or the movements of deer and the like on the ground. She had not written much since she lost her love. Instead, she found herself sitting in front the fire and just looking into the flames as they danced erotically in front of her. Now after so much time of being alone and empty she found her self sitting across from a woman so like her soul mate she found it hard to breathe when she looked at her.
Gabrielle was very confused. She knew she was attracted to dark woman from the start. What she had not planned on was seeing that attraction reciprocated. She missed Xena with all that she was, but she knew she needed to move on. She had to continue living, she had to find some one else to help fill that empty void in her heart, even if not completely. Knowing deep down that only her soul mate could succeed at such a task.
She thought back to that morning when she woke up in Maddie’s arms. How she could have sworn it was the warrior holding her. For a brief moment she was elated. All that she had been feeling the emptiness the longing. They had all vanished, leaving a sense of peace and serenity she had not felt in months. ‘She smells like my warrior, she even felt like her when she had her arms around me. Oh, by the Gods! I am going insane. I know it!’
The smells of fish cooking filled the air and the bard checked the meat satisfied it was well done she divided it on two plates adding a peace of bread and some cheese. She walked to the other side of the fire and handed one the meals over to Maddie. She laid her sword and sharpening stone aside and eagerly devoured the meal. Pausing after the first few bites to compliment woman next to her. After dinner Maddie walked to the water and washed the plates as Gabrielle made tea.
The air was becoming cooler as the night progressed. It was going to be a cold winter. She shivered slightly. Feeling a blanket drop to her shoulder’s, she looked up to see Maddie had returned and was standing over her. “You looked cold...” She shrugged and moved to her side of the fire and continued with her sword.
Gabrielle passed the tea when it was finished and pulled out her journal for the first time in months. Pausing occasionally to sip from the hot liquid. She poured her heart out on the parchment starting first with the death of her love and ending with her growing attraction to the beautiful stranger sitting across from her.
Candle marks had passed before she finally looked up to see that dark woman had finished with her sword some time ago and was now happy to sit and watch the bard write. She blushed when those dark brown eyes met her own. She got up and put her writing away and began to settle into her bed roll. Maddie quickly followed suit.
“Good night, Gabrielle. Thank you.” Said the deep voice from across the blazing fire
“Good night, Madeline. I hope you have pleasant dreams.”
“You too.” Both woman lay awake for only a short time before Morpheus claimed them, never realizing the two entities watching from a short distance away.
“Well, hmmm, I think I can fix this.” Aphrodite was trying her best to get the two woman to sleep next to one another. Knowing both souls needed to connection if their plan was to work.
“How do you plan to do that?” Michael had come to like to Goddess and could see why Xena had spared her. Her heart was always in the right place even if she did not always do the right thing.
“Watch and learn, sweetie.” She blew a kiss to the angel before getting up from her hiding spot and walking nto the camp. Once there she waved her hand and extinguished the fire. Walking back towards her spot she blew a light kiss to the Bard and waited. The air became cold around them. She noticed the small woman begin to shiver. She moved next to Michael who watched in disbelief as Gabrielle’s teeth began to chatter and she moved herself into a small ball, trying to conserve her body heat.
The sound woke Maddie, she sat up on her elbows and looked over to the now dormant fire between them. Getting up she moved to relight the fire and noticed how the bard lay freezing. Once the fire was going strong she moved her blanket over to the small blonde and covered her with it. Not bothering to wake her. She returned to her side and laid down on the bed roll. Glancing up at the stars. Morpheus once again claimed her.
A candle mark or so later Gabrielle awake feeling very warm. She looked across the fire to notice Maddie was without her blanket. She looked around and saw that she was covered by both furs and instantly felt bad. ‘She gave me her blanket. She must be cold. Even if she conserve heat like Xena.’
Aphrodite and Michael looked on as the Bard rose and went Maddie. “Watch this, Mikey.” She blew a kiss and sent a spell to the blonde. Gabrielle instantly felt the need to be held by this strange woman. Without thought she covered her with both blankets and moved to get beneath them as well. Maddie wrapped her arms around the small woman and nuzzled her neck, never waking up. Gabrielle sighed and cuddled into the strong embrace. Allowing herself to drift off.
“So good.” The Goddess was rubbing her hands together and smiling wickedly.
“Well, well. I see you know your stuff. The question is what do you plan to do when they reach your temple. Clearly they feel the pull of their souls. However I doubt very much they will act on their feelings willingly. We can not force them. If this is to work, they have to go to one another of their own free will.” Michael crossed his arms over his chest and looked at the Goddess. A friendly smile on his face.
“Yadda, yadda. You and Eli need to work on your ground rules. You take the fun out of it when you set all these guide lines.” She waved a dismissive hand toward the angel.
“If we are bring Xena fully back before Maddie is sent back to her time we have to ensure that they bond their souls once again. In doing so Eli will give them a second child. Gabrielle will carry Eli’s spirit the same way Xena carried Callisto’s . He will be reborn and will help Eve to teach the people about the Heavenly Father.” Michael knew time was of the essence if Eli hoped to achieve his objective. Not only did he plan to give Xena her life back but he also planned for her to father a child, the same as Gabrielle had done with Eve. The conception had to take place in the next 7 days. Which did not allow much time to get the two women back together.
“Why don’t I jsut put a spell on Gabrielle so that when she looks at Maddie she will see Xena. Then you know they will do their thing and that will be that?” Aphrodite was quickly becoming annoyed with all the cryptic talk and games the angel wanted to play on her two friends.
“I wish we could but their souls have to recognize each other. It is the only to get Xena back. Gabrielle’s love for her soul mate has to happen on its own. Her love for Xena was always unconditional. That is what will give her the power to bring her back and to create a child with her. If we interfere at any point and she does not fall in love with Maddie then it will never work. She has to love Maddie as she is. Only then will her love for her soul mate be truly unconditional. She has to prove she loves more than just the person. She has to prove her love for the soul.” Michael felt a mortal headache coming on. He rubbed his brow.
Aphrodite looked confused. She had always been the one to bring people together. Only on rare occasions did she ever not cause love to bloom between two people. One such couple was Xena and Gabrielle. She had never had a hand in their love. It had happened on its own. In doing so it proved they were destined to be together always. She had seen soul mates come together over the years. Knowing the power between souls was stronger then any magic spell she could conjure. Or sharper then any arrow Cupid could make. It was an end in its self.
They watched the two women for while longer before both disappearing into the night. She wanted more than anything to help her friends. Over the years they had been like family to her. She knew that Ares had a connection to Xena. She knew the warrior’s true parentage. For that reason she had always kept and eye on her. Making sure that enough love remained in her heart to always give her the strength to over come the darkness in her heart. She had even made sure that the Bard and Warrior met. Knowing the pure love in Gabrielle’s heart she was sure she could help fight the darkness. But even she had to admit she had never planned on the two women loving each other.
With time she knew the two souls would reunite. Until then she would help them every step of the way. After she would love to be Godmother to their next child. Just as she was to Eve.
Continued in Part 5