Xena and Gabrielle run into trouble on their way to Amphipolis, where they plan to celebrate Cyrene's birthday. Xena does not care if she dies, but can she live without Gabrielle?
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Xena and Gabrielle were headed to Amphipolis to wish Xena's mother a happy birthday. They had been traveling for five days and decided to stop for the night in an area not too far from their destination.
Earlier that day they crossed paths with the warlord, Zagreas. Xena rode with him once upon a time. They parted ways under less than amicable circumstances. This chance encounter was an opportunity for Zagreas to try to even the score. Or so he thought. A fight ensued and well lets just say that Zagreas won't EVER try that again.
Fighting always tired Xena out. She was ready to settle in for a good night's rest. It was a cool evening and it was going to get even cooler by morning. Xena built a fire that would last throughout the night.
They ate what was left of their rations except for some traveling bread they would eat in the morning. After supper they sat close to the fire. Xena mended a tear in her sheath and Gabrielle wrote in her scroll. Both were secretly content to be in each others' company.
"Xena? Do you want me to read to you what I wrote about today's fight with Zagreas?" Gabrielle asked.
"No. I was there. Remember?" Xena replied.
"Okay," Gabrielle said with a singsong lilt in her voice hoping Xena would realize she was really missing out on something.
The duo sat in silence for a few minutes then Gabrielle spoke softly, "Xena?"
"Yes," the warrior replied.
"Can I tell you something I never told anyone else?" Gabrielle asked innocently.
The warrior wasn't sure what to make of the request. What could it be? She couldn't imagine after all this time traveling together there could be anything left unsaid between them. Well, except ...
"Sure," Xena said.
Gabrielle's head was down but her eyes scrolled up and met Xena's. There was an obvious silence then Gabrielle whispered, "Perticus and I, well we, we never..."
Xena's heart sank and rose in an instant, "Gabrielle. What are you saying?"
An even softer whisper came from Gabrielle, "He well, he was sick Xena. Something he caught while fighting in battle and well he couldn't..."
The blue-eyed friend grappled with what to say, "Gabrielle. I am sorry."
"Don't be. It's alright. Really. I loved Perticus, but not the way...." Gabrielle stopped short.
"Not the way what?" Xena asked.
"Nothing. Now I feel embarrassed that I brought it up," Gabrielle sighed.
"Don't be embarrassed, Gabrielle. I would be hurt if you if you kept it to yourself any longer. I am your friend, right? That's what friends are for," Xena said trying to be reassuring.
Gabrielle sat and reflected on what she had just said. She wondered why she felt compelled to tell Xena something about herself that was so intimate.
"Wait! Gabrielle? Does this mean you are a virgin?" Xena asked.
The green-eyed bard nodded, "Yes."
Xena moved and sat next to Gabrielle. She put her arm around her to comfort her. Gabrielle took advantage of the large shoulder Xena offered and rested her head upon it. When Gabrielle began to cry, Xena stroked her hair and assured her everything was alright. They sat like that until Gabrielle stopped crying.
"Sorry, Xena. I just needed to get that out. It was eating me up not being honest with my best friend," Gabrielle whimpered.
Xena kissed Gabrielle gently on her head. Gabrielle gave Xena a halfhearted smile in return.
Xena got up and poured Gabrielle a cup of herb tea and handed it to her. After she stoked the fire to her satisfaction she sat back down next to Gabrielle and together they watched the flames as they performed a familiar seductive dance.
"How about we get some sleep," Xena suggested.
The warrior laid out her bedroll next to the fire and Gabrielle did the same, but then Gabrielle picked up her bedroll and laid it next to Xena's. "It's really cold Xena. I thought maybe we could share our blankets," Gabrielle said.
"Well then. Let's get settled in," Xena said.
Fully dressed, they laid down on the bedding. They slept in their clothes while on the trail because they never knew who or what might awaken them. It wasn't comfortable, but they were use to it.
Xena laid on her back with her arms raised above her head and her hands under her head. She was propped up just enough to watch the fire for a few more minutes before drifting off to sleep.
Gabrielle tucked herself completely under the blankets and stared up at the stars. She pretended to be studying the constellations, but she was really trying to get up the nerve to ask Xena something that had been weighing heavily on her mind. "Xena?" Gabrielle asked.
"Yes," Xena answered after yawning.
"You know ever since you..I mean Autolycus...I mean you...Remember when you almost died and we kissed?" Gabrielle asked.
"Yes. I remember," Xena answered.
Gabrielle stuttered, "Well...You know...I um...We um...”
Xena chimed in, "We love each other."
"Well, yeah but...Never mind," Gabrielle said.
Xena sat up on her elbow and faced Gabrielle, "What is it?" she asked. She was pretty sure what Gabrielle wanted to say. It was the same thing she wanted to hear Gabrielle say. But it was also the thing she was afraid of.
Gabrielle turned her head and looked Xena in the eyes. "Really. It's nothing. Let's get some sleep," with a sigh Gabrielle turned her back to the fire and looked out into the darkness. Xena sat perplexed. She asked herself if she should prod the bard a little more. Her thoughts were interrupted when the Gabrielle spoke again, "Xena? Will you hold me tonight?"
Xena's face felt hot. Was it the fire? Xena wanted more than anything to hold Gabrielle. She longed to be that close to her. But could she keep her physical desires in check? She answered Gabrielle before her head could talk her out of it, "Sure."
Xena rolled over and cuddled up next to Gabrielle. She draped one arm over her friend's tiny waist and nestled her face in her blond curls. Her thighs touched the back of Gabrielle's thighs and she felt the heat radiate under the blanket.
Gabrielle laid still waiting for Xena to get settled then she took Xena's hand into her own hand and held it close to her chest. Xena could feel Gabrielle's heart beat.
Xena felt excited and didn't know if she could hold back her desires. Was Gabrielle giving her the go ahead or was she just needing to be held? Xena was confused.
For the longest time neither of them moved a muscle. But after what seemed like an eternity to Xena, Gabrielle took the hand she had been holding and put it to her lips.
Xena couldn't hold back any longer. This was surely the sign she had been waiting for. She lifted herself up on her elbow and rolled Gabrielle onto her back. She reached over and kissed Gabrielle on the lips. At first they kissed gently but when Gabrielle moaned and opened her mouth for Xena to explore with her tongue, passion became the ruler of their bodies and minds. They kissed deeply, passionately and sensually. Their hands and mouths explored eagerly where ever they could, considering they were both fully dressed.
"Gabrielle? Can we get undressed?" Xena asked.
Gabrielle responded by unlacing her top, exposing her young round breasts. Xena removed her leathers and boots then helped Gabrielle remove the rest of her clothes. They looked at each other as if for the first time. "Gabrielle. You are beautiful," Xena said with fire in her eyes.
They laid back down on the bedrolls. Then Xena took Gabrielle's breasts into her hands and kissed them softly. Never before had she felt such pleasure. She looked up at Gabrielle. She could see the veins in her partner's neck pulsating. Xena felt as if she would bust and she might have had she not released a primal sounding groan that came from somewhere deep inside her. A place she was not familiar with.
Was she feeling love for the first time? She thought she had been in love with Marcus, but sex with him had never felt like this!
"By the gods Xena! I love you!" Gabrielle shouted.
Xena pulled herself up so her lips met Gabrielle's. They kissed lovingly. Then once again the gentle kisses turned into passionate kisses and passionate kisses turned into lustful desires for more. Xena climbed on top of Gabrielle and they moved together in time to music only they could hear. Gabrielle whispered in Xena's ear, "Take me Xena. Please. I beg you,” If Xena had been standing she surely would have collapsed.
Xena kissed Gabrielle's neck and nibbled on her ears. Then she slipped down until her head was between Gabrielle's legs. The tuft of hair she found there was soft and smelled as sweet as Aphrodite's breath. She stayed there for a brief moment until Gabrielle writhed letting Xena know she wanted more. Xena ran her tongue over Gabrielle's bundle of nerves, which caused Gabrielle to gasp and raise her hips pressing hard against Xena's tongue. Xena sensed Gabrielle's urgent need for satisfaction and began lapping vigorously at her swollen bud.
Xena looked up at Gabrielle and saw Gabrielle looking back at her. Gabrielle didn't say a word. Her eyes said it all. Xena, being the older and more experienced lover, wanted to wait until Gabrielle climaxed before entering her. She didn't have to wait long. Gabrielle let out a scream "Oh! Xena!" and without missing a beat, Xena placed a finger inside Gabrielle's sacred portal. When she did not feel any resistance, she placed another finger inside Gabrielle. She could feel Gabrielle's muscles contract around her fingers. She almost climaxed herself. She moved her fingers in and out in rhythm with Gabrielle's hip movements. They moved together as if they were one.
When Gabrielle finally went limp, Xena fell gently on top of her. There were no words to speak. There was only love.
After a short while Xena stood up to stoke the fire but she didn't get far. Gabrielle took Xena's hand and pulled her down onto the bedding next to her. Gabrielle, being the fast learner that she was, made love to Xena. The forest shook as if Zeus himself was applauding the long awaited union of these two lovers.
As usual, Xena was up before Gabrielle. Gabrielle loved to sleep in whenever possible. This was one of those mornings. There was nothing pressing and it was really cold out from under the blankets.
Xena was an early riser. Usually, she liked to exercise and meditate before Gabrielle got up, but this morning she picked fruit to go with their bread for breakfast, got Argo ready to travel and picked up the camp before Gabrielle even stirred.
Xena sat near the fire waiting for Gabrielle to wake. She gazed at the young woman's face who laid in her bed. She was so beautiful. The best part; Gabrielle was beautiful inside and out.
The blond haired girl turned woman sat up and stretched. When she realized Xena was watching her she became a little shy as she was still naked from the night before.
"Good morning Queen Gabrielle," Xena said smiling at her new lover.
"Good morning to you Warrior Princess," Gabrielle said smiling back.
"Hey, get dressed and come sit by the fire. I have something here for you to eat. It's not much but we don't have far to go before we reach Amphipolis," Xena said.
Gabrielle dressed under the blankets then appeared next to the fire eager to eat. She always had a healthy appetite. Xena and Gabrielle sat next to each other, their bodies touching, eating in silence. When they were finished eating, Xena asked Gabrielle, "Are you all right?" Gabrielle took Xena's hand and held it to her cheek, "I have never been happier, Xena." They embraced each other for a long time, until the road beckoned them.
"Let's go! We have a birthday celebration to go to. Mom sure is going to get a birthday surprise this year," Xena laughed.
Xena and Gabrielle started out on what was going to be a half-day journey to Amphipolis. Xena asked, "Gabrielle, do you want to ride Argo or walk?" Gabrielle replied, " I think I would rather walk. It will help keep me warm and well, I am a little sore this morning." "Me, too," Xena confessed.
The woods where they camped opened up into rolling hills and grass. The sun peaked out from behind the clouds and it looked like it was going to be a gorgeous day.
All of a sudden Xena realized they were being followed. It was Zagreas' men.
"Hello boys," Xena said with a smirk.
"Xena! We're here to avenge Zagreas' death. You have a choice. Join us as our leader or die!" demanded Zagreas' second in command.
"Well, boys it's your lucky day. I happen to be in a very good mood this morning. If you leave now, I won't kill you," Xena said earnestly.
"Get her!" the leader shouted. He drew his sword and the others followed his lead.
Xena drew her sword and took a fighting stance. Gabrielle took a couple of steps back and readied her staff. The fight was on!
Eight warriors against two were not bad odds for Xena. She had faced multiple attackers before and triumphed over them but now she had Gabrielle to worry about. The stakes were higher than ever before. If she died it would not matter. But could she live without Gabrielle?
Zagreas' men were goons. Their fighting skills were elementary at best. But they were dangerous because they had no scruples. They would just as soon stab you in the back as look at you.
The first two men attacked Xena from the front. She roundhouse kicked them across the face with bone crushing force breaking both of their jaws. Two more men came at Xena with swords cocked above their heads ready to strike a deadly blow. Xena quickly blocked one sword and then the other with her god-like strength pushing them back to regroup like a couple of kids in a play yard.
One knucklehead got past Xena and went after Gabrielle. Gabrielle spun around in a circle to gather momentum then cracked the guy's head open with the end of her staff.
Xena was almost laughing at their competition when she saw the biggest nitwit of them all sneak up behind Gabrielle swinging a sword. Xena leaped into action, but she was too late. The blade of his sword cut through Gabrielle's upper arm like it was butter. Xena reacted fiercely and decisively. First she lopped off the ratbag's arm with her razor sharp sword then she cold-heartedly stabbed him in the heart. He crumpled to the ground watching the fingers twitch on his severed arm as his blood pumped out of his open chest.
"Gabrielle," Xena muttered as she moved closer to her wounded lover. "It's hardly a scratch, Xena," Gabrielle winced. "Come on. Let me take a look at that," Xena said. There was a lot of blood and Xena was afraid of what she might find. The laceration ran from Gabrielle's far upper arm down to her elbow. The bone was exposed near the elbow but the main blood vessel had not been compromised. "Gabrielle. I am going to dress this here and now. You have lost a lot of blood so you will probably pass out. Don't worry. I've gotcha," Xena said.
The ride to Amphipolis was going to be tricky. Xena was going to have to ride Argo with Gabrielle saddled in front of her. That way she could hold on to Gabrielle, not if, but when Gabrielle passed out. She helped Gabrielle get saddled then she mounted Argo. "Yawh Argo!" Xena yelled. Off they went at a full gallop.
Xena rode Argo hard and made good time getting to Amphipolis. The sentry posted on the outskirts of town rode ahead and notified Cyrene and Toris that Xena was on her way in with a wounded Gabrielle. They were waiting when Xena arrived at the Inn. "Quickly! Toris help me get Gabrielle down from here. Take her inside. Mother, get me hot water, clean rags, a flame of some kind, a surgeon's needle and some thread. Go!" Xena ordered.
Xena went to her saddlebag and found her medicine kit. She sorted through a number of herbs until she found what she was looking for; pain medicine and something to help prevent infection. With those two things in hand she joined her mother, Toris and Gabrielle in the makeshift operating room.
Gabrielle kept going in and out of consciousness. It was too risky to knock her out with a nerve-blocking pinch so Xena gave Gabrielle a small amount of morphine. Just enough to help the Amazon Queen sleep while she sutured the arm. It was going to require a lot of stitches. Xena whispered in Gabrielle's ear, "Go to sleep my love. I'll be here when you wake up." When Xena was sure Gabrielle was out, she began to stitch.
Cyrene wanted to know what happened so Xena recounted the events as she remembered them. Cyrene tried not to be judgmental but she couldn't help but scold Xena for putting Gabrielle in danger in the first place. Xena reminded Cyrene that years ago she tried everything to get the young girl from Poteidaia to go home, but in the end, it was Gabrielle's decision to walk this path with her.
Xena didn't worry much about aesthetics when stitching wounded soldiers on the battlefield, but she took an extraordinary amount of time suturing Gabriele's arm to avoid infection and to minimize scarring. When she was satisfied with her work, they moved Gabrielle to a room next to Cyrene's at the Inn.
It was late now. Xena laid next to Gabrielle in the darkness of their room. She wasn't much for praying, but tonight she took exception. With a stiff upper lip she reached out to the gods she wasn't sure she still believed in.
There comes a time in a person's life when they have to think of others more than themselves. To think of one's self, must only be for the betterment of others. So, if anyone is listening....Give me strength to fight my greatest enemy, me. And blow your healing breath upon my greatest ally, Gabrielle.
Xena held Gabrielle's hand and fell to sleep.
Xena was awake and dressing Gabrielle's wound when Cyrene came in with breakfast for the two of them. Gabrielle was awake too but she didn't feel much like eating. Her arm throbbed and she was nauseous from the pain. "Hello, Cyrene. Thank you for bringing me something to eat, but I think I'll just drink some tea." Gabrielle said with a weak voice. "Hello, sweetie. Thank the gods you are okay. I know it seems bad now but trust me, you will feel better soon," Cyrene said lovingly. "Xena? How are you? Did you sleep?" Cyrene asked her daughter. "Yeah, Mom. I am fine," Xena replied.
"Gabrielle. I am going to give you something for the pain, but you need to eat a little something. Here. Eat a bite or two of this muffin," Xena pleaded. Gabrielle really didn't want to, but she saw the worry in Xena's eyes and agreed to eat. "Okay. But just a bite or two," Gabrielle said. Xena put a small dose of morphine in Gabrielle's tea and within minutes of finishing it, Gabrielle was asleep again.
"Mom. I was going to give this to you last night, but well...Here. Happy birthday," Xena handed Cyrene a package wrapped in velvet. "What is it?" Cyrene asked. "Open it," Xena said shyly. Cyrene opened the package carefully. "It's a necklace. Oh! Xena! It's stunning!" Cyrene exclaimed. Xena took the necklace and fastened it around her mother's neck. "There. Every time you wear it, think of Gabrielle and me. It's from the both of us," Xena said with pride.
Xena turned her attention back to Gabrielle. "Mom, will you check in on Gabrielle periodically? I have to go see someone about a dead rat," Xena said. "Sure, honey. I'll be right here," Cyrene replied.
Several days passed before Gabrielle could sit up and eat anything of substance. The lack of fever and having an appetite was a good sign that infection had not set in. Xena had been at Gabrielle's side almost without interruption since that dreadful day. So both Gabrielle and Cyrene insisted she take a break. "Go take a walk, run, exercise. Do something to burn some energy," they insisted. "Yeah. Okay. I'll go get Toris. Maybe he'll spar with me for a little while. I'll be back soon," Xena replied with some reluctance in her voice. She walked over and kissed Gabrielle on the forehead. Cyrene watched Gabrielle's reaction to Xena's loving attention. She noticed something was different about them. Gabrielle had always shone a childlike adoration toward Xena but now...Now she...Could it be? Cyrene took her daughter's hand and led her outside where they could talk in private.
"Xena, are you and Gabrielle.... I mean...Xena?" Cyrene was at a loss for words. "Yes, Mother. But don't expect grandchildren anytime soon," Xena chuckled. Cyrene was beaming. She had never seen Xena so happy. "Well, thank the gods. I wondered if you two would ever figure it out," Cyrene gloated. "Mom?' Xena looked puzzled. "Oh, Xena. We've all wondered when this day would happen. It's no surprise to us. Now get out of here! I'll take good care of Gabrielle," Cyrene said while shooing Xena away.
Cyrene had waited years to share stories about Xena to someone who could then pass them on to Xena's heirs. Cyrene pulled up a chair and sat next to Gabrielle. "Gabrielle? Has Xena told you about the first time she met Poseidon?" Cyrene asked. "No. Tell me," Gabrielle replied eagerly.
Cyrene could not wait to get started, "Xena was very young when she decided she wanted her very own horse. Her father and I prayed to Athena for wisdom. She told us to take Xena to get Poseidon's blessing, as he was the creator of horses as well as the creator of the creatures of the sea. We began our journey in the hills above the Aegean Sea, a days walk to the seaside. We stopped only when Xena's little legs grew tired or when we were hungry.
We arrived at the edge of the sea before the evening breeze started. Xena's father stood at the waters edge with Xena by his side and respectfully summoned Poseidon from the depths of the great mass of water. Nothing happened at first, but then the calm waters began to churn and swirl upward like a cyclone. Xena's hair blew back and I saw her being lifted up off the ground. Poseidon reached out from the cyclone and pulled Xena in close to him. I think I should have been scared for Xena, but I wasn't. Poseidon looked Xena in the eyes and said, 'the oceans provide life as long as mortals remember that and take care to preserve its goodness. Do not be afraid, little one, of its vastness or the creatures therein. Be wise, but do not be afraid. The horse and the dolphin are sacred to me. Go forth and tell others what I have told you.'
Poseidon returned Xena to the sand and then disappeared into the sea. All that was left of him was a ripple in the calm waters."
Cyrene told Gabrielle many stories about Xena's youth over the next few weeks. Gabrielle remembered every little detail and wrote about them in her scrolls.
The day finally came when Gabrielle was strong enough to travel. Xena was more than ready to get back on the road. She figured one day she and Gabrielle would settle down in Amphipolis. Maybe they would even have children. But for now, the road was their home.
With Argo in tow, Gabriele and Xena walked out of Amphipolis. They did not know where they were going exactly. Anywhere was okay with them as long as they were together.
"Xena? Can we make camp early and stay up all night?" Gabrielle asked.
"What? Are you a mind reader now?" Xena replied with a broadening smile.
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