Disclaimer: Xena, Gabrielle, Argo and any other text or characters mentioned from the original series are owned by Renaissance Pictures, Studio USA. No copyright infringement is intended. This is fan fiction just for fun. Some of the characters may be theirs but the story is mine. Copyright Jul, 2001. Rev. 1a Dec 2001
Warning: Rated as adult material for violence and a loving relationship between two consenting adults. If you are easily offended please read something else.
Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org Constructive comments and criticisms or just plain chats, whether you liked it or not are most welcome. No flames please.
Warning: If you haven't seen 'The Last Battleground: A Friend in Need' STOP! This story contains spoilers!
The early morning sun sparkled off the rippling waters of the small stream, while birds twittered and chirped a greeting to the new day. A light, cool breeze rustled the branches of the trees, and the golden hair of the small blond sitting beside the stream. Her eyes were downcast staring into the water without seeing. Tears dropped down her lovely face.
She jumped, startled, and wiped hurriedly at her face. "Oh, Xena! You startled me!" she said without turning.
"Gabrielle, are you crying?" Xena asked, as she knelt beside the bard, resting her hand on her shoulder.
"Crying? Oh, no. I just got something in my eye," she said, brushing at her eye. "Probably one of those pesky gnats."
"Gabrielle. You're a lousy liar. Look at me," she said.
Gabrielle slowly turned and looked up at the warrior. "What?" she asked. Her voice a little husky.
"What's wrong?" Xena asked softly, seeing her puffy eyes.
Gabrielle's composure broke and she threw her arms around the warrior. Xena gathered her into a tight hug, brushing at her hair, while the bard sobbed into her neck.
Xena was at a loss and waited helplessly while Gabrielle cried. Finally she pushed away from Xena, and timidly smiled at the warrior. "I'm sorry, Xena. Come on. I need to finish getting ready." She turned away from Xena and got up, walking towards her camp.
Gabrielle stopped and turned back to her. "What?" she asked.
"What's wrong," Xena asked tenderly again.
"Nothing's wrong Xena. I just get moody every month. The girl thing. You know." She turned and started to the camp again and Xena followed frowning her concern.
Gabrielle busied herself packing things away for the days travel. Xena stood at the edge of the camp, hands on hips, watching her.
She finished packing her saddlebags, saddled her horse, and loaded her gear then grabbed the saddle horn to mount. She hadn't said two words while she packed.
"Gabriele," Xena said softly.
She paused with her foot raised and looked to Xena. "What now?"
"It hurts me when you lie to me," she answered.
Tears welled in Gabrielle's eyes and she dropped her foot back to the ground.
"I'm sorry, Xena," she said sadly.
Xena went to her and wrapped her arms around her.
"Please tell me what's wrong," she said tenderly, and Gabrielle broke down again.
When her shoulders stopped shaking, with her sobbing, and she had quieted, she said, in a very tiny voice, "I miss you, Xena."
"I'm here, Gabrielle. I'll always be here for you."
"I know, Xena. I couldn't live if you weren't."
Xena led her to the fallen log, she had used as part of her camp, and sat down with her, looking into her tear bright eyes.
"Then what's the problem?" she asked, confused.
Gabrielle's face shattered again and her voice choked with emotion.
"You're dead, Xena. I just miss you."
"Gabrielle I've been dead for nearly three years," she said in mild exasperation.
Gabrielle hung her head. "Three years today," she whispered.
"Oh." Xena put her hand under Gabrielle's chin and lifted her head, to look into her pained eyes. She kissed her tenderly then pulled her into a tender hug. "I'm sorry Gabrielle. I... you've never... I thought you had gotten past that."
Gabrielle's head snapped back and her eyes were blazing. "Past that!" She leaped to her feet and walked away from Xena, her posture rigid with anger.
She turned to Xena and her whole body was shaking. "Past that! Xena, you're dead! You're my soulmate and you're dead!" she screamed. She advanced on the warrior, murder in her eyes. "Gods damned you, Xena!" She slapped her with all her strength knocking her backward off the log.
Xena rolled and came to her feet unable to believe what had just happened. She backed away from the irate bard.
"Shut up, Xena! I'm not through!" she said, storming right up to her. "Don't you ever say anything like that again! You're not a pet dog, Xena. You're not some pony I had. You're my SOULMATE!" she screamed. "I will never get past that! I still cry myself to sleep nearly every night! Your death is just as fresh in my nightmares as if it happened today! How can I get past that!" She raised her fists as she spoke pounding futilely against Xena's armor. "How can I, Xena? How can I ever get past that?" She wrapped her arms around Xena sobbing uncontrollably.
Xena wrapped her arms around her again and kissed the top of her head, tears dropping from her own eyes.
"I'm sorry Gabrielle. I didn't know. I didn't know."
"How could you, Xena? How could you know what my nights are like? How could you know how much I hate to see you fade with the sun and how long, how terribly long, my nights are waiting for you to return in the morning." Gabrielle lifted her head and looked into Xena's beautiful blue eyes. "I love you, Xena. You're my life. When you're not here my life ends. I die for you every night, Xena."
"I'm so sorry, Gabrielle. Why didn't you say something sooner? I had no idea what you were going through. If you had only told me...."
"To what end, Xena?" she said sadly. "There's nothing we can do about it. You're in a different place now. At least I have you part of the time. I just miss having you, the real you. Some of my fondest memories are of our quiet nights around a cozy campfire. It's not even what we talked about; itsÖ just being with you, even if nothing was said. And the nights we would lay under a clear sky and find images in the sky and most of the time neither of us could see the other ones image and that was part of the fun. It's making the evening meal after you brought back fish or a couple rabbits. It's watching you practice, or care for Argo, or just sharpening your sword. It's the little things I miss, Xena. Scrubbing your back, or helping tend your wounds, or taking care of you when you were sick, but too darned stubborn to ask for help. I miss those things, Xena. I miss all those things."
Xena was crying openly while Gabrielle talked, feeling her pain mirrored in her own feelings. Feelings that she was so good at hiding even from herself.
"Gabrielle. You can't know how I long for those very same things. I loved watching you while you fixed our dinner, or sat writing in your journal, or on a new scroll. I miss listening to you talk about the day, or tell your stories, or listening to you argue about one of your new ideas. I, too, miss laying under the stars and arguing with you over the things we saw there. I ache for the nights when I was having trouble sleeping and could look across the fire or next to me and see your face, so childlike when you're sleeping. My nights are no less fraught with pain than yours. You're everything to me and for half of each day I am unable to be with you.
'Oh," Gabrielle said, searching her soulmates face, "you never said anything, Xena."
"Neither did you, Gabrielle," she answered.
"I justÖ I thoughtÖ."
Xena smiled, "I know. You thought my tough old hide would protect me from all that." She reached out and touched her fingers to Gabrielle's face. "Not since I met you, Gabrielle. You taught me how to love and how to care and the thing I care for and love the most is you."
Gabrielle leaned against her shoulder. "I'm sorry, Xena. I guess I was being selfish. You never said anything so I thought it didn't bother you like it did me."
"I thought the same thing, Gabrielle," she said softly.
"I'll quit living the lie if you will," she answered.
"I thought you'd never ask," Xena said. "Gabrielle?"
"We can still do a lot of those things we miss, you know."
"True. Except the stars," she acknowledged.
"Can we start today, Gabrielle?" Xena asked.
"What would you like to do?" Gabrielle asked.
"Everything, but can we camp early? We can change our day and make the afternoons evening."
Gabrielle looked at her and grinned. "I'll scrub your back if you'll scrub mine!"
"Only if you'll tell me a story after we go to bed," Xena said.
Gabrielle held out her hand. "Come on warrior princess let's set up camp now."
Xena grinned and took her hand. "Yes, my bard."
When Gabrielle had the camp set back up she turned to Xena. "Will you answer a question?"
"If I can."
"Why did you let me hit you, Xena?"
Xena took Gabrielle's hands as she sat down, pulling the bard down beside her. "Gabrielle. I may be a dumb old warrior, but I'm not completely stupid. I knew my death hurt you badly. When I found we could still be together, I vowed to make myself as real to you as I could."
"But you had to know I was going to hit you, in time to do what ever you do to let it pass through you."
Xena looked sheepish. "I didn't expect it, Gabrielle. You surprised me, and I wouldn't do that anyway. Your pain is my pain, Gabrielle, and right then you needed to hit me and I probably needed to be hit, for being an insensitive dope."
Gabrielle smiled. "Thank you."
"For what? Letting you clobber me?" Xena asked.
Gabrielle swatted her playfully. "No silly. For understanding."
"Oh. Right. Of course." Xena stood up and held out her hand. "Come on little Amazon Queen."
"Where are we going?" Gabrielle asked, taking her hand.
"You owe me a back scrub and a bedtime story."