General Disclaimer: Xena, Gabrielle and Joxer (and their modern day incarnations of Mattie, Annie and Harry) are characters owned by MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement is intended, and no profit gained by this piece of fanfic.
Subtext: Nothing graphic, but if the idea of women loving other women offends you, or youre legally not allowed to read this for whatever reason - please, do us all a favour and skip this.
Timeline: Following on from where "Deja Vue All Over Again" left off - what did happen to Harry/Xena and Mattie/Gabrielle?
Write Me Pleeeeaase: Let me know someone reads this stuff! I dont bite (unless you want me too) and I might even write back ...... so make a poor girl very happy and gimme some feedback! But be nice - otherwise Ill set Xena on you. Or if youre really awful, Ill send our favourite bard round. You know what she can do with a staff and some sais.
Mattie sat, her hand absently squeezing the knee under it as memories of their time together came whirling across her mind; adventures theyd had, pain theyd shared, friends theyd grieved for and love theyd made. The love, above all - a bone deep love which even now flooded her marrow and fired through veins and capillaries, burning through every vital organ . Kindled by the vision of a midnight haired, cobalt eyed woman with a smile as promising as the Mona Lisas. A face shed been searching for all her life without even realising it.
"Oh, Xena!" she breathed. A note of wonder threaded through the words as she sunk into a half remembered life with the woman who had always been the template against which shed measured all her lovers; and always found them wanting. Well, whod have thought it, she mused in astonishment - there really was something to this past life thing after all. Karma, man.
Breathing the scent of leather and horse, and seeing the pictures in her minds eye had carried her away to a dreamscape. Body relaxing against the firm, thin contours behind her as she lived again, in the space of a moment, her years with Xena. And then realised abruptly that the body she was pressed so tightly against felt alien. No prickling of breastplate, no feel of soft skin tickling her midriff as strong arms encircled her protectively, no long, soft hair caressing her cheeks. Nothing familiar.
Harry sat with the slim woman tucked firmly into his side and marvelled at the sensations he was feeling from the young counsellors presence, enjoying the electric tingling coursing through his body where her heat warmed through his jacket. Not to mention the weird stuff in his head - still half convinced that the Xena memories were vaguely recollected snatches of stories picked up from Annie; he still had a long way to go before believing in this past life stuff. But there definitely was some connection between himself and the young woman - he could feel things that hed never felt in his life before, not with any other woman. Not even Annie, and for a while there hed thought she had been The One. A little crazy maybe, but still..... He struggled to clear all traces of Xena from his mind - way too weird to have a long dead woman living in his body. He was Harry, not this Xena....and obviously responding to Gabrielle - Mattie, he quickly reminded himself - on a very masculine level. Boy, was he.
The hand absently stroking his knee had stilled, and Mattie had been saying something but hed been too busy getting his head straight to really listen. She half turned towards him, and pulled his arm tighter around her. Mesmerised, he stared into wide green eyes and rich brown hair that he thought shouldve been blonde really. Would really set off the colour of her eyes and skin - he wondered if shed dye it. Mattie opened her mouth to speak again, and again he didnt listen. He just leant in closer, drawn in to capture those mobile lips and cup her soft cheek. It felt so familiar......it felt right. And it sure was the best kiss hed had in a long time.......
Matties eyes had closed until all she could see was two piercing blue eyes staring down, a soft loving light shining deep in them. She could almost feel long tendrils of hair wound around her curling fingers as she leaned up and fastened hands at the back of a head., and she knew she could hear the low, seductive purr of her lovers voice whispering "I love you Gabrielle. I will always love you."
But the lips were hard and insistent, the skin bristly and the hair sparse and way too short. Undeniably male. Not Xenas. The realisation cut her heart open, and she broke away desperately, whirling round to hide the anguish she knew would be plain to see in her eyes and the sob that caught fast in her throat.
"What? Whats wrong Mattie?"
Dumbly, she shook her head, chest pounding and heaving as she struggled to calm herself whilst Harry joined her and placed broad hands onto small shoulders, rubbing them absently whilst he imagined - for some bizarre reason - caressing well defined muscles that werent actually there. Oh well, he grinned wryly, dont like my women too well developed anyway. Now, well endowed, thats a different story......he turned her round and ran an appreciative gaze over shapely contours and firm young bust before meeting the gentle green gaze. God, but those eyes looked so familiar....?
"I know - its all a bit much, isnt it? I feel quite emotional myself." He tried to comfort her as she slipped out of his arms. Mattie cocked an eye - he certainly didnt look particularly emotional, but then this was Xena..... He draped his arm casually over her shoulder and reached down for another kiss. Her heart slammed against her breastbone again as she felt two souls touch, until again she was ripped apart by the realisation that this body wasnt her Xenas. It - God, it was Joxers, of all people.
Mistaking her sudden pallor and shove for something else, Harry clucked soothingly as he stroked her hair. For some strange reason, he couldnt stop touching this woman. Needed to feel her. Ached to make love to her.
"Xena?" Her voice was small and more than a little sniffly.
"What?" Two confused, teary eyes met his.
"My names Harry. Dont call me Xena."
"Harry." She stated flatly, with an appraising stare over her shoulder.
"See. That wasnt so bad, was it?"
Mattie scooted over to the far side of the room and fiddled with a candlestick, turning it in her hands and experimentally weighing it as he continued. "What say we go grab something to eat? Maybe talk things through?"
"Sure. Sounds.....sounds good." Her stomach chose that moment to growl into life, and he laughed.
"Guess some things never change, huh?" He prodded and tickled her stomach gently before curling an arm round her and steering her out of the door. "Sure have missed that!" Completely missing the anguished, lost expression that swept over her face as she recognised the playful teasing that her lost lover had so delighted in.
They had sat in a small Italian restaurant for several hours, drinking wine and struggling to make polite conversation. Never the most verbose man in the world, Harry had battled to maintain a discussion with the attractive woman opposite him; hed noticed how, as the evening wore on, shed grown quieter and had sunk her nose deeply and frequently into her wine glass. Not used to having to make such an effort - for some reason, hed always dated chatty women whod complemented his own taciturn personality - hed finally exhausted his tiny stock of small talk and sat, pushing a stray piece of spaghetti around his plate.
"Um. You.....you have a little something....." Mattie gestured towards her own chin meaningfully.
"Oh." He quickly used his napkin and smiled a thanks. Liquid green eyes smiled back at him, then bent back to her own barely touched plate.
"Werent you hungry?"
"What?....Oh, no. Not really."
Silence fell for a long five minutes, broken finally by the harsh scrape of Matties plate as she pushed it away and took another deep draught of wine and cleared her throat. "Harry......Harry. We need to talk." He sat quietly, waiting for her to continue but she didnt; she just twisted the stem of her glass. Annoyed and sighing loudly, he plucked the tortured glass out of shaking fingers and placed it back on the table.
"Its alright, Mattie. Im finding this all a little strange too. I feel like Ive known you for ages, but obviously thats not so." Wincing when she felt her sharp glare land on him, he burbled "I cant explain what happened earlier, but I put a lot of it down to some sort of post hypnotic effects. Im sure that sort of thing can have side effects, especially when its...."
Finely shaped eyebrows arched as she caught his meaning. "Especially when performed by some half-assed amateur?"
"Look, I just meant that I dont buy all that past lives stuff....."
"How can you say that after what we both saw? How else do you explain it?" Her hands were flat on the table, body leaning over at him and obviously very angry.
"Well I dont......Ive seen the show. Annie watches it all the damn time. God knows, you cant move in our flat for Xena crap. Its not surprising really - weve probably picked up stories from the show without even realising it."
"No. I dont watch that show. Bunch of chop-socky crap. Cant stand programmes like that."
"Look, Im telling you Mattie - it was probably stress brought on by....I dunno! Maybe we werent out of the hypnosis properly. Maybe someone planted those memories."
"Are you accusing me of.....?"
"No! God - it was probably Annie. Shes crazy enough to want to believe anything."
"Xena! You dont really believe that....."
"Dont call me that! How many times - my names Harry, dammit!"
Mattie stumbled to her feet, gripping the back of her chair to steady trembling legs as she rose to her full height. "I think I should go. Thank you for dinner." She ground out before grabbing her coat and pushing her way out of the busy little restaurant. Sighing, Harry fumbled a wad of notes onto the table and ran out after her.
"Mattie, wait!" He caught her at the corner of the empty road.
"What do you want Harry?"
"Please dont leave like this!"
"Youre kidding, right? Youve practically accused me of incompetence, rubbished everything I believe in and denied........us. Our past. What do you want from me?"
"I was.....I was hoping to see you again."
"Why? Did you miss something out when you were criticising me back there?" Her tone was nearly as sharp as her eyes.
He winced. "Gabr...Mattie! I just....please! Dont storm out on me like this. Please?"
The woman stood stiffy, hands dug deeply into pockets as her eyes flickered around the street, resting everywhere but on him and the face she didnt want to see. He took her silence for something else and quickly kissed her; both felt the tingle as it warmed lips and jolted hearts. He felt Matties sigh through sealed lips and pressed his tongue against her, seeking entrance. For a moment, she succumbed, then pulled back sharply with a desolate look in her eyes when she finally brought them up to his.
"Im sorry Harry. I cant do this. Not with you."
"What? Why? Mattie!" He was begging - to his astonishment, he was begging a woman hed only known for a few short hours. Dont leave me again. Ive only just found you. "Please, I....." I need you.
She started to cry softly. "Oh God, Xena! Im so sorry..."
She cried even more, but jumped out of his arms when he tried to hold her. "Im sorry Mattie. I didnt mean to upset you. I think youre a good hypnotist. I really do." He was desperate now, and sounding pathetic to himself. But he didnt care. "And if you really believe in this past life stuff, then thats okay. Mattie - we can work this out, cant we?"
"No. We cant."
"But why?" Almost crying now, he could feel the best thing in his life slipping away, falling through his fingers like loose sand.
"Xena!" She was sobbing furiously now as she held onto his sleeve, staring frantically at him as if searching for something and as his heart broke, he knew what she was looking for. Xena.
"Im here, Mattie! Underneath all this, Im still me!"
She shook her head wildly, tears spilling over shining lashes. "And Im still me, Xena! Thats the problem!"
"I dont understand...."
"I still love you Xena! I still love you - not this mans body youre in now! Im still gay, Xena! Harry, Im gay!"
"Gay? But.....but you....you can still love me, right? Maybe you just havent met the right man....."
Two small fists thumped his chest as tears tricked down streaked cheeks. "Dont be so bloody stupid!" He caught her hands and rubbed them desperately; she tore herself away and headed down the street. He had to run to keep pace with her.
"You think Im Xena. Well, I am! You love me, dont you? So stay with me! So what if Im a man? Its only a body......its only sex!" He pleaded and circled her, touching anywhere he could. "Its only sex. Men and women do it all the time. You might even like it......Im.......Just because youre gay doesnt mean we cant be together!" Hed never had dealings with a gay woman before. Male pride was hurt, and the Xena inside him was screaming at him to grab hold of her bard.
"Its not just a sex thing for me! Its who I am! Dont you understand that? I cant just switch it on and off....." She wiped her face brusquely, then took his shaking hands between hers and kissed them lightly. "When I close my eyes, I see you and I remember all that we were to each other. All my life Ive been looking for you; your face has haunted my dreams. Did you know that every girlfriend Ive had has had dark hair and blue eyes? But when I open my eyes and look at you......I see someone else. Its not you. Not the woman Ive dreamed of, waited for - for so long. Not the woman I fell in love with. Im gay, Harry, and youre in denial. Its not a good combination."
"We can work it out."
"Jesus, Harry! A relationship between us would never work. I dont want to make love with you! Do you understand me? I want to make love with Annie, not you! I feel like my love has been torn in two - I want Xena, in Annies body. I want my Xena!" She broke down, and he gathered her into his arms, feeling her wracking shudders shake her slight frame.
"I could be your Xena."
Sighing, she broke from him and stroked his cheek, gently brushing away the tears that lay there. "I cant change Harry. Not even for you. Its the way I am."
She kissed his knuckles, turned and walked quickly down the floodlit street, shoulders hunched against the swirling, icy sleet as it beat against her face. "Gabrielle....." He whispered, "I love you." Watching the back of the woman he had always loved grow smaller as she walked out of his life, the echo of her footsteps dying as sleet turned to snow and lit the sky with an eerie glow, carpeting the filthy ground in a blanket of grubby white, like a shroud. He turned, and made his way home.
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