And if you have a minute why don't we go
Talk about it somewhere only we know?
This could be the end of everything
So why don't we go
Somewhere only we know?
Keane- Somewhere only we know
Copyright Disclaimers: Xena, Gabrielle, and other characters mentioned in this story that appeared in Xena: Warrior Princess are the sole copyright property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. It's just for fun! No profit is sought from this.
Violence Disclaimer: There is little violence within this story.
Subtext disclaimer: Gabrielle and Xena are lovers. There is no graphic sex in this Fiction. If this bothers you (the lovers' part rather than the lack of graphic action, but I am guessing that will bother some!) or is illegal for you to read in your neck of the woods, please do not continue. A M/F relationship is also described, although not graphically.
Bad Language Disclaimer: There is bad language. Again not excessive and in keeping with the show.
Angst Disclaimer: Yes!
Author's note (1) Comments, tips, hints, constructive criticisms will be most welcome. Please send to email@example.com . I will reply. And thank you for the supportive e-mails I have received in the past. They are greatly appreciated.
Author's note (2) This is slightly different to what I am used to writing, but wanted to do this for a dear friend.
Tag Line This fiction takes place after Motherhood. Xena is determined to get to the bottom of what is bothering Gabrielle and is stunned by the bard's confession.
“It's getting dark,” remarked the young dark haired woman at the back of the palomino.
The woman at the front, turned to give her a smile. “Is that a not so subtle hint that you'd like to stop, Eve?”
“You read me so well,” said Eve with a laugh and mirrored her Mother's smile. She then turned to face the blonde woman on another horse. “Is that ok, Gabrielle?”
Gabrielle shrugged her shoulders and turned to focus on the path in front of her. Mother and daughter both lost their smiles and exchanged an anxious look.
After a few minutes of gentle paced walking Xena drew Argo to a halt. “This looks fine,” she said and in a fluid movement dismounted Argo. Eve also jumped off and started to remove the saddle bags that adorned the palomino. Xena walked towards Gabrielle's horse. Gabrielle was still sitting astride it and was looking into the distance. Xena approached the horse and gently stroked the coat. “You OK?” she said gently.
Gabrielle turned to look at her with a passive expression on her face. She swung her leg around and landed the opposite side to Xena, so the horse was between them.
“I'll get dinner,” she said and walked off into the forest before Xena could reply.
Xena untied the bridle and removed the saddle from the horse. “Damn, “she said as she threw the saddle down on the ground. “Damn, damn, damn!”
Eve watched as Gabrielle stirred the stew and added more spices. She then turned to look at her mother who carefully tending to a rip in her leathers, although she was watching Gabrielle with equal measure.
“I wish I had your skills as a cook,” said Eve. “I've inherited Mother's talents, or rather lack of.”
Gabrielle gave a quick smile that fading quickly and carried on tending to their dinner. Eve turned to look at Xena with a questioning gaze.
“That's right, I don't know what we would do without your cooking ability,” said Xena with forced brightness. “Starve, probably.”
“I'm sure you'd cope,” said Gabrielle tonelessly.
The other two women stared at her, shocked that she had spoken after silence for so long and at the words she said. Gabrielle dished up three plates of stew seemingly oblivious of the stares she was receiving. She handed the plates of stew to the other two women and then sat down by the fire.
Her head was cradled in one arm while long fingers made circular movements over her stomach. She breathed in deeply, and opened her eyes and smiled at the loving face that moved nearer to hers. Their lips met-
Gabrielle turned to look at Xena. “Are you going to eat anything?”
The bard looked at her untouched plate dumbly and then looked up at Xena.
“You need to eat something,” said Xena with more than a hint of exasperation in her voice. “When was the last time you ate? Or slept for that matter?”
“I'm fine,” said Gabrielle firmly and stood up. She walked to where Xena and Eve had placed their empty plates and picked them up and strode off.
“At least she's talking,” said Xena sarcastically. She got up and started to pace around the campsite.
“Mother,” said Eve. “You are not making this easy for her.”
“Easy for her,” said Xena, her voice rising in pitch. “She has spoken fifteen words today. And that's an improvement on the last couple of days. She has barely eaten anything in a week or slept. This is not Gabrielle.”
“She's been through some pretty big events, Mother. She nearly died.”
Xena smiled grimly. “Old hat.”
“She nearly died,” repeated Eve, “by your hand.”
Xena closed her eyes and inhaled deeply.
“You need to talk about it,” continued Eve.
Xena opened her eyes. “She was going to kill you,” said Xena, sharply. Another deep breath. “I couldn't lose another child,” she added quietly.
“It wasn't her, though, was it? You said yourself it was the Furies. Gabrielle wasn't in control of her mind. That must have been-“
“Terrifying. Frightening.” Said Xena softly. “I know what it is like; the Furies invaded my mind before.” She looked at her daughter with anguished eyes.
“I know, Mother. I have read it in Gabrielle's scrolls. You appreciate what it is like. Tell her that. I don't blame her for what she did, you shouldn't either.”
Xena turned away from Eve's gaze. “Supposing she blames me.” Xena sounded like a child seeking reassurance from its mother, and Eve smiled at the irony of the situation.
She approached her mother and gave her a hug. “Then we'll both have to make it up to her then.”
Xena returned the warm hug. “Let's get ready for bed,” she said pulling away.
Eve gave her a smile and headed towards her bedroll.
The camp was quiet as Gabrielle approached. The small fire gave Gabrielle just enough light to find her way. She listened to the breathing. Eve was definitely asleep, her gentle snores making the point vividly. But Xena was awake still, although her breathing was deep as if she wanted Gabrielle to believe she was asleep. Gabrielle gently laid the clean plates down and tiptoed to her bedroll.
“Everything alright?” came Xena's voice.
“Fine,” said Gabrielle quietly. She could see Xena raised herself up on an elbow. “You go to sleep,” she added.
“I-I love you,” said Xena. “I'm worried about you.”
There was a pregnant pause. Gabrielle slipped into her bedroll that was next to Xena's. “You go to sleep,” she repeated. “Good night.”
“Night,” whispered Xena and watched Gabrielle turn away from her. She lowered herself down and stared at the bard's back until she drifted into an uneasy sleep.
Xena rolled over and automatically stretched an arm over the bedroll where Gabrielle should be. As her arm fell onto the cold bedroll, she cursed under her breath and then opened her eyes. Gabrielle had gone and had been gone a while. She lay staring at the bedroll for several moments and then in a fluid movement jumped to her feet. She stretched her spine, easing the aches from her back and turned to face Eve. Her daughter was still asleep. She noticed that the fire had been well banked, but for good measure she added a further log. Then Xena stood quietly listening for the sounds in the forest as dawn broke. Smiling to herself she headed off.
Her head was cradled in one arm while long fingers made circular movements over her stomach. She breathed in deeply, and opened her eyes and smiled at the loving face that moved nearer to hers. Their lips met and she accepted the gentle probing of the tongue. She could feel her face being framed by tender hands.
Their lips parted and Gabrielle opened her eyes. She smiled shyly and started to move her hands beneath the pale shirt. In a heartbeat her expert hands had removed the shirt and Gabrielle could feel soft skin reacting to her caresses. Within moments lips were on her neck sucking and biting while the straps on her halter top was being pushed down. Hands roamed freely over her chest and-
Gabrielle jumped in surprise and the memory was lost. She turned toward the direction from where the shout came from; knowing just who had shouted, but not appreciating until she saw the dark face scowling and the blue eyes steely, just how angry that person was.
“For Gods sake, Gabrielle. I could have been anyone. Anyone. You need to keep your wits about you. You should have learnt that by now.” Xena was shouting, her anger fuelled by the concern she felt over the listless appearance of the bard. She stepped towards Gabrielle who continued to stare at her without saying a word.
“What was so important it was worth dying for anyway?” said Xena. After days of having little opportunity to talk to Gabrielle she wasn't going to miss this opening. She noticed the blush of Gabrielle's cheeks before Gabrielle looked down at the ground and turned away from her.
Xena instinctively grabbed one of her arms. “No. Not this time. What is happening to you? You don't eat or sleep. Or talk.”
Gabrielle shrugged and tried to pull her arm out of Xena's grip. The dark haired warrior merely tightened her hand around her wrist.
“This is no life for you. For us. Talk to me!” Xena spoke in desperate tones.
“Perhaps Ares made a mistake bringing me back,” said Gabrielle quietly.
Xena's eyes widened in shock and for a millisecond her grip was loosened around Gabrielle's wrist as she digested what Gabrielle had said. That was all the time Gabrielle needed to try and pull away. As she pulled away, Xena automatically gripped harder and pulled Gabrielle towards her. There was a sickening “pop” and a moan from Gabrielle. Xena dropped Gabrielle's arm in horror, and the bard moved her hand to her shoulder.
“I'm so sorry,” said Xena tearfully. She looked at Gabrielle's face and instead of pain, or anger she still saw a passive face looking back at her.
“I hurt you, get angry at me,” said Xena. Gabrielle merely dropped her eyes to the ground. Xena took a step towards Gabrielle who moved slowly backwards. Xena increased her pace, but was surprised to feel a tugging on arm. Taking advantage of a distracted Xena, Gabrielle headed into the forest. Xena turned to look at Eve angrily.
“Why did you-“
“Because it's not wise to talk to her in the mood you are in,” said Eve calmly.
Xena ran a hand through her hair. “Gods she doesn't want to be with me any more.”
“I'm sure she does, Mother. But we need to find out what the problem is.”
“That's obvious; me. I hurt her. She's with me and I always hurt her, one way or another.”
“And she's still with you, Mother.” The younger woman patted her mother's shoulder. “She loves you, more than anything in the world. “ She inhaled deeply. “Let her go,” she raised her hands at Xena's horrified look. “I meant so you can calm down and get some medical supplies for her.”
Xena turned to look towards the forest where Gabrielle had disappeared into. She nodded.
“Come on, let's get back to camp.” Eve led a concerned looking Xena towards their camp.
Xena sat down nosily on a log and placed her head in her hands. Eve smiled weakly and started to rummage through Xena's saddle bags.
“There they are,” she murmured to herself quietly and looked up. Her mother was still sitting head in hands. She took the items from the bag and placed them on the ground and then went to the fire. She placed the filled water pot over the fire and again started to rummage through bags, this time looking for tea.
“Gabrielle never keeps her bags as neat as yours,” she said loudly.
Xena grunted in response.
“Mother,” Eve said with a sigh.
Xena looked up.
“It's going to be fine. You can work it out, you always have before.”
“I don't know,” said Xena and looked away.
“I have read of you two battling the odds so many times. This is just another hurdle to overcome.”
“The difference is we are battling ourselves.” Xena turned back to look at Eve. “And that usually doesn't end very well.” Her voice was resigned.
“Perhaps you need to remember the good times,” said Eve and picked up a bag and threw it towards Xena. The warrior watched it drop short of where she was sitting. She looked at Eve puzzled.
“Gabrielle's scrolls. They-they are beautiful mother. Not just the way she writes, but what she writes about. “
Xena stared at the bag thoughtfully.
“And it's usually about you. You can feel her love for you oozing through every stroke of the quill.”
Xena continued to stare at the bag for a long moment, and then moved towards them. She gently, almost reverently pulled out a scroll case and started to read.
“Enjoy,” said Eve softly and walked into the forest with Xena oblivious to the fact she had gone.
When Eve returned she was surprised to see her Mother still at the camp. She had left her for so long she had felt sure that she would have already set off to see Gabrielle. Instead she was packing a small bag. She was putting the items that Eve had left out into the bag when she looked up. Eve was gratified to see a warm, genuine smile on the dark face.
“Thank you,” said her mother simply and held out her arms. Eve crossed over to her and found herself wrapped in a bear hug.
“Just bring her back safely,” said Eve, her voice muffled as she tried to talk with her mouth pressed against Xena's shoulder.
“I will. And thanks to you, I know what I have to do to get her back, and it won't be easy, for either of us.”
Xena could see the bard sitting on the ground, awkwardly holding her shoulder. The warrior approached her quietly and it was only as Xena was a mere three paces from her, did Gabrielle respond. She started to rise, but Xena quickly strode to her and gently eased her back down. She then crouched down so she was level with Gabrielle.
“I'm not going to shout at you for not listening,” she said brightly, “and I'm not going to force you to say anything. Speak, yell, cry if you want to; I don't expect anything.” There was a pause and Xena searched out Gabrielle's blood shot green eyes. The bard nodded, but kept a passive look on her face.
“I want to fix your arm, is that alright?” Xena smiled reassuringly, and Gabrielle nodded again. Xena then gently probed around Gabrielle's shoulder and winced when she found the swelling. “This will hurt, but you know that?” She smiled at Gabrielle who nodded silently for a third time. Xena gave Gabrielle a piece of leather which the bard looked at and then placed in her mouth.
“I'll be as quick as I can, then have some herbs,” said Xena. “Only if you want,” she added quickly with a hint of nervousness.
Gabrielle closed her eyes in anticipation of the pain ahead. A muffled scream and a loud pop were then followed up by coughing as Gabrielle spat out the leather strip and heavy breathing by both women. Xena put her arm around her and the warrior was gratified that it wasn't pushed away and in fact the bard laid her head on her shoulder. For several moments Xena drank in that simple pleasure before she punctured the silence.
“I realised something back in the camp; I never thanked you for everything you did when I was pregnant with Eve. And after I had her. You were amazing; standing up to Gods, protecting us both, looking after Eve. Do you remember she would never go to sleep until you told her a story? That day you were feverish, I tried everything to get her to sleep and finally in the middle of the night I dropped off and she was still awake. And then when I awoke you were telling her a story and she was fast asleep.” Xena smiled and rubbed Gabrielle arm. “I can't imagine doing all that for the person who stalked you and forced you to give up your child.” There was silence while they both cast their minds back to a troubled time.
Xena inhaled deeply. “I have so many things to apologise for, Gabrielle. There are so many times that I didn't treat you well, that I hurt you or took you for granted. I thought that was why you were so upset, so distant.” Xena tightened her hold on the bard, who continued to sit impassively. “But when I read your scrolls, I realised that when you are introspective and absorbed the most are when you feel you have done something to hurt me. When you feel guilty.” Xena felt the bard try to move away, and merely tightened her grip.
“Whatever it is, whatever you think you have done, or have done; I forgive you. It doesn't matter. I forgive you.” There was a pause. “Gabrielle. Please forgive yourself.”
There was silence and then Xena felt the bard shake. She tightened her grip, and felt the tears on her neck and then heard the sobs which got louder and louder. Xena said nothing, merely encircled the bard and when finally, after an hour, the sobbing stopped, Xena lowered the bard, so she had her head on the warrior's lap. Xena gently massaged Gabrielle's head, and within minutes the bard was sleeping. Only then did Xena relax and shut her eyes, and gave a long sigh.
Gabrielle opened her eyes and blinked quickly. Her shoulder was throbbing and she had beginnings of a headache. She closed her eyes and breathed in her surrounding. The smell was unmistakable, leather and lavender, and she could feel a hand gently stroking her arm. She opened her eyes and sat up gingerly.
It was as she expected; she had been asleep across Xena. She swallowed and looked down.
“Ah, sorry about that,” she said, her voice a little croaky.
“Don't ever apologise,” said Xena warmly. “Thank you for letting me help.”
Gabrielle looked away, slightly embarrassed.
“How's the arm?” said Xena when the silence had become awkward.
“Sore,” replied Gabrielle.
“That means its agony. Let me get some herbs. “She jumped up and stretched out, being stiff after so long in the same position. She hadn't wanted to wake Gabrielle and so remained still.
Gabrielle looked around the forest squinting through the murky light.
“I haven't slept all day?” she whispered to herself.
Xena chuckled, and handed her a mug. “Yep you did. And you needed it,” she added gently.
Gabrielle took the mug and swallowed the bitter liquid quickly with a grimace.
“How about we head to camp?” asked Xena. She started to fix a sling on Gabrielle's arm.
Gabrielle nodded. She closed her eyes and inhaled deeply. She opened them and stared into Xena's concerned ones. “I'm sorry.”
“You don't have to keep saying that,” said the warrior. She held her hand out for Gabrielle who took it and deftly she pulled her up until they were inches from each other.
“Gabrielle,” started Xena gently. “Whatever has happened, it's in the past.” She cupped Gabrielle's face with her right hand. “Tell me if you want, if you think it will help you. I am here for you, and I always will be.”
Gabrielle stifled a sob and covered Xena's hand with her own. She brought it to her mouth and kissed the long fingers.
Xena smiled and moved both hands so they framed Gabrielle's face and gently kissed her forehead before bringing the bard closer. She then kissed the blond head. “I love you, bard. I always have and always will. And nothing will change that.”
She felt Gabrielle nod against her chest and she smiled. “Good girl. Let's get back to the camp, and get some food into you.”
Eve looked up as she heard the two women approach the camp site. She sprung up and immediately went to Gabrielle's side. After wrapping her arm around the bard she guided her to a spot near the fire. After easing the bard down Eve noticed the grimace on the pale face.
“Can I get you anything, Gabrielle? Tea, bread, cheese?”
Gabrielle smiled weakly and rubbed her shoulder. “Tea would be nice, thank you Eve.”
Eve kissed the blond head and started to take herbs from a bag. Xena watched interestedly as she packed away the unused supplies. Eve poured the water into three mugs and after handing a mug to Gabrielle gave one to her mother.
“Well?” she mouthed.
Xena shrugged her shoulders, and her daughter nodded.
“Here's some bread and cheese if you fancy some later,” Eve said brightly. She handed the plate to Gabrielle who nodded her thanks.
“I thought it best if I didn't cook,” said Eve.
“Oh believe me, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts…and stomachs,” deadpanned her mother.
Her head was cradled in one arm while long fingers made circular movements over her stomach. She breathed in deeply, and opened her eyes and smiled at the loving face that moved nearer to hers. Their lips met and she accepted the gentle probing of the tongue. She could feel her face being framed by tender hands.
Their lips parted and Gabrielle opened her eyes. She smiled shyly and started to move her hands beneath the pale shirt. In a heartbeat her expert hands had removed the shirt and Gabrielle could feel soft skin reacting to her caresses. Within moments lips were on her neck sucking and biting while the straps on her halter top was being pushed down. Hands roamed freely over her chest and she arched her back as her body started to respond to the touch. Suddenly and without warning the hands and lips were removed and her body stilled. She looked into concerned eyes. She knew what the unspoken question was.
“Please,” she said. She grasped two fingers and kissed them gently. “Please,” she repeated.
Lips replaced the fingers and they started to kiss, as their remaining clothes were removed clumsily. Their bodies moved with each others, as they lost all rational thought.
Gabrielle covered her eyes that were full of tears with her hand. She wiped some away and then looked up. Xena was sitting close to her watching her anxiously. Eve was no where to be seen.
Gabrielle started at the worried countenance of her partner and then looked at the ground.
“Gone for a walk,” said Xena.
Gabrielle nodded silently.
“Hungry?” asked Xena.
The bard shook her head. “I feel a bit off. Probably herbs and this,” she moved her shoulder gingerly.
There was an awkward silence and Gabrielle shut her eyes and inhaled deeply. When she opened them she looked straight into Xena's cerulean eyes.
“I want to tell you what I did,” she started. “There are no excuses, no justifications,” Gabrielle swallowed and looked away. Xena moved closer and took her hand. “But I want you to understand why I did it. And know I am so, so sorry.”
Xena nodded but continued to hold Gabrielle's hand.
Gabrielle swallowed several times and then looked up at the sky. She shut her eyes and then shook herself, and turned to face Xena opening her eyes.
“When you were pregnant with Eve and after having her, I felt so ineffectual. I didn't know what I should do-so I tried to protect you both as best I could. But you accused me of being over zealous. I just felt whatever I did was wrong.”
Xena opened her mouth to speak but thought better of it. Gabrielle continued, “And then to lose twenty five years of our life. For everything to be changed so dramatically for us, for Joxer to die, like that,” Gabrielle sobbed, “because of me.”
“Joxer died a hero, saving you. It was the death he would have chosen. And you certainly were not ineffectual. You saved us so many times. I needed you.”
“Not in the bedroll,” whispered Gabrielle and looked away.
Xena looked at her momentarily shocked. “I was pregnant, I was tired and a mess. I didn't think you found me attractive. And then once she was born, if it wasn't hard enough raising a child we had half of the residents of Mount Olympus after us. I love you. That never changed.”
“I didn't feel loved,” said Gabrielle quietly. “And after we awoke, I just felt,” she didn't finish, just looked down at the ground.
Xena withdrew her hand and stood up as realisation suddenly began to dawn on her.
“Tell me,” she said coolly.
Gabrielle sighed. She knew that Xena had guessed the truth. “After Joxer's death, I just wanted, I just needed comfort.”
“Who?” said Xena sharply?
“Virgil,” was the whispered reply.
Xena spun around keeping her back to Gabrielle and shouted a curse. The bard stood up as Xena turned to face her.
“Do you love him?” The face was angry but the tone had a hint of vulnerability about it.
“No, yes, of course,” said Gabrielle. She looked at Xena's widening eyes. “He's Joxer's son, of course I care for him.”
Xena inhaled noisily twice. “I would have been there for you. You make it sound like we have not made love in years. There was the time in Amphipolis-“
“Oh yes right after you told me you had feelings for Ares. Was it me or the God of War you were thinking of as you screwed me? Gabrielle's anger matched Xena's.
“That's not fair, I have never cheated on you,” said Xena her voice rising.
“So what were Anthony and Ares then? Perks of the job?”
Xena's face darkened with anger. “They were parts of a plan that was all.”
“So that's what it's called,” retorted Gabrielle.
“What about Lin Qi? You two were pretty close.”
“He had a crush on me. Of course that has never happened to you has it,” said Gabrielle sarcastically, and turned away.
Xena mirrored her action and took several breaths to try and calm her spinning head and her racing heart.
“ Do you love him?” She repeated. She kept her back to Gabrielle.
There was a long silence before Gabrielle replied,” No, not like that.”
“How many times?”
There was silence punctured only by their breathing.
“I love you,” said Gabrielle and started to sob. “I am sorry.” She sunk to her knees and her crying was at odds with the quiet forest. “I don't expect you to forgive me after hearing the truth, and what you said earlier, I don't expect–“
Xena turned and walked to her, dropping to her haunches. She wrapped an arm around her.
“I promised I'll forgive you. And I am keeping my promise.”
Gabrielle sobbed even louder. “I'm sorry,” she repeated.
After a few moments Xena released her grip. Gabrielle looked into the blue eyes that usually radiated so much emotion but saw nothing. The barriers were up. She sighed.
“I think I'll go and get some water, have a wash,” said Gabrielle, wanting some time to sort through her feelings.
Xena looked relieved. “I'll go and find Eve,” she replied, and strode off into the wood.
As she left the campsite, her strides became faster and she soon she was running. She continued even after her side burned with exertion and the darkness of the forest meant she stumbled twice. When she finally stopped she leant her head against a tree. After several moments she started to kick the tree.
“Why of all the-“she muttered under her breath. She stopped kicking and then withdrew her sword and started to hack away at the defenceless tree with such force her hands burned. This pain she did not mind, welcomed in fact as a distraction.
“How… could…. she?” She shouted and each word was punctuated by the sword hitting the tree.
“With that…that pissant.” She carried on striking the tree even as sweat poured down her face and stung her eyes.
“Mother?” The voice was quiet and tentative.
Xena spun around, embarrassed that her daughter had managed to evade being detected.
“Did you know?” she asked harshly?
“Know what?” asked Eve warily.
“Gabrielle… and….and Virgil,” her voice cracked on his name and she sunk to her knees.
“Oh Mother,” said Eve sympathetically and walked to where Xena was kneeling and knelt next to her, wrapping her arms around her. She could feel her mother's body shudder and the tears roll down her cheeks. The parted slightly and Eve stroked her mother's ebony hair.
“What ever happened and why, Gabrielle still loves you.”
Xena nodded dumbly.
“And she obviously feels guilty about it.”
Xena rubbed her eyes with the back of her hand. “I need to go back and see her. There are things,” she sighed deeply, “things I need to say.”
“I love you Mother,” said Eve. “And I love Gabrielle too. Tell her, please.”
Xena nodded. “I love you too, Evie. Can you give-“
“Don't worry I have found a nice spot,” Eve smiled, although it quickly faded. “Mother?” her tone was questioning.
“I'll see you soon, Eve.” And with that Xena sprung to her feet and strode into the dark forest.
As she approached the campsite she stopped and watched Gabrielle. She could see the way the bard moved she was still in pain. She watched as Gabrielle collected items and stuffed them into a bag. She shook her head and walked noisily into the campsite. Gabrielle looked up, but quickly looked down at her bag.
There was an awkward silence.
“I didn't think you'd be back,” said Gabrielle still staring at her bag. “I wrote you a scroll.” Her voice quietened to a whisper.
There was no reply. Gabrielle didn't look up but took a scroll that was laid by her bag and placed it in between them.
“It's best if I leave,” said Gabrielle when she realised Xena was not going to answer. “I can't bear to see the disappointment in your eyes or worse still nothing when you look at me. I don't want to ruin your life.”
“Gabrielle,” said Xena.
“I'll go to my parents. That is if they are still alive.” Gabrielle continued to stare downwards and rubbed her eyes with her hand.
“Gabrielle,” Xena repeated. “Look at me.”
Gabrielle continued to stare downwards, so Xena took a couple of steps toward her, bending over to pick the scroll up. She threw it in the fire without reading it. She then hooked a finger under her chin and brought her face upwards. Gabrielle still kept her eyes looking downwards.
“Aaah,” said Xena. “Not making this easy,” she said under her breath. “When I said you were the most pure thing in my life, I was wrong.” She watched the shoulders opposite her hunch over and could feel the head trying to drop. “Gabrielle, you are my life. And the only way you could ruin it, is to leave me.” Xena smiled. “Please look at my eyes. There is no disappointment. Not for you anyway.”
Slowly, so slowly Gabrielle raised her head. She looked into the face of her lover and saw no anger or bitterness reflected into it. And when she looked into those beautiful baby blue eyes she felt herself falling into them as she did every time she looked at them. There was no disappointment, only love.
She sobbed. Xena wrapped her arms around her. “If you want to go to him, I understand. He could give you things I can't,” said Xena quietly.
“It's you I want,” said Gabrielle.
“Believe me the feeling is mutual, Bard. But there are things I need to say. And that's I am sorry.”
“What for?” said Gabrielle incredulously.
“You needed comfort and to feel loved. I wasn't there for you. Every day you make me feel loved. I can under-“
“NO!” shouted Gabrielle. “I am not letting you take the blame for this. You are not having this guilt. It's mine, not Virgil's and certainly not yours.”
“Sssh. I let you down. When you needed me, after Joxer's death, I should have been more understanding.”
“It's not your fault,” whispered Gabrielle. “You had Eve to worry about.”
“I shouldn't have neglected you. But I did. And for so long.”
Xena eased the pair down onto the ground, and supported Gabrielle against her. She carried on stroking the blond hair with one hand and her face with the other. For several moments they sat there until Xena spoke.
“You need to forgive yourself. I can't deny I am hurt, but we have got through worse. We can get through this. But you need to let go.”
“I can't get it out of my head,” whispered Gabrielle. “All the time, it's there.”
Xena gently laid Gabrielle down and cupped her face with her hand. “Let me show you how loved you are,” she said huskily. “Let me give you more memories.” She lowered her lips on to Gabrielle's and felt the pressure returned. So gently she started to move her hand underneath Gabrielle's tunic.
“I'm yours,” whispered Gabrielle.
“All mine,” whispered Xena.
Gabrielle groaned as pain shot through her arm as she sat up. She felt light headed but gained strength as she felt a strong arm around her.
“Morning,” said Xena. “OK?” she added anxiously. “You look very pale.”
“My arm,” said Gabrielle, although her hand rested on her churning stomach.
“You need to eat, make you feel better.”
Gabrielle nodded, “first to get dressed.” She wrapped the blanket around herself, and Xena pulled her up. “Thank you.”
“My pleasure,” drawled Xena.
“I meant for last night,” said Gabrielle, giving Xena a kiss on her cheek.
“So did I,” responded Xena.
Within minutes she had dressed and was sipping the tea Xena had made, resting her head on Xena's shoulder.
“Eve,” said Xena simply. And sure enough Eve came walking into the campsite, grinning when she saw the two women together.
She sat down and took the offered mug.
“So where next?”
“Thought we'd introduce you to the grandparents; Amphipolis first then Potidaea ,” said Xena.
“Sounds like a plan.”
“And then who knows,” said Xena, clutching Gabrielle's hand.
“As long as it is together,” said Gabrielle quietly.
“Always,” said Xena. “Where you go I go.”
Gabrielle's only response was to burrow her head even deeper into Xena's shoulder and emit a long sigh.
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