The characters Xena and Gabrielle do not belong to me. I take them out to play with and then return them safely. This story contains subtext, a non-traditional and explicit relationship, and attempts at humor. If you don't like those things, don't read it. Otherwise, enjoy it.


Conversations in the Dark




All light suddenly vanished.

“What happened?” Gabrielle asked, blinking in the absolute blackness that surrounded her and holding the now unlit candle.

Xena fumbled for the bard's arm. “It's the storm. The wind must have blown out our fire as well as your candle. We'd better head back. Come on, this way.” She held firm to the blonde's elbow and began to guide them back through the cave to the little cove just off the entrance where they had made camp.

“By the gods, it's dark.” said Gabrielle, a touch of panic in her voice. They had taken refuge in the cave when the storm became too intense to endure without shelter. By evening the rain had come down in torrents and the wind had become a tempest. With only occasional flashes of lightening to provide light, Xena had built a small fire out of what bits of dry wood they could. They had weathered the storm for hours in the dark cave. But when the thunder and roaring wind made it impossible to hear themselves think much less hear each other talk, they had ventured farther back into the cave. Light from the little fire had cast a glow on the rock walls which together with the single candle Gabrielle was carrying had provided just enough for them to see their surroundings. Now they could see nothing.

Xena gave her a reassuring hug. “We'll be okay. I don't think we have gone that far from the camp.” She was not as convinced of that as she tried to project. They had made at least two turns, probably more, so it was not a direct line back to the entrance, she knew. But she had many skills and trusted she could lead them back.

Gabrielle stopped. “Wait. Wait. I can't see a thing. Maybe we should just stay here until daylight.”

“No, you never know what critters might be in here. The storm has probably spooked them.” She turned her head as if she could see anything in the dark. “And I left my weapons at the camp fire.”

Gabrielle sat down on the bench-sized rock she had just banged her knee on. “Xena, I'm telling you it's better to stay put. Besides, I've just hurt my knee.” Stretched out her injured leg and leaned forward.

“Well at least it's not your ankle again.” Xena chuckled. She reached down to where she estimated a standing Gabrielle's knee should be located. “Yep, it feels kind of soft and swollen.”

“Xena, that's not my knee.”

“Oh!” The warrior pulled her hand away. “Um, at least your breast is fine.” She smiled a croocked smile that the bard could not see. “Help me find your knee.”

Gabrielle guided her hand to the proper body part. “I just skinned it. But worse will happen if we stumble around in the dark.”

“We need a torch.” Said the warrior. “Do you still have the candle?”

“No. I dropped it when I hurt my knee. It's probably lying around the floor in a hundred pieces.”

Xena got on her hands and knees and crawled around looking for a length of wood. Finding one, she felt her way back to Gabrielle. “Now we just need something burnable to wrap around this.” Her hand found the bard's bilious green sports bra, this time intentionally, and tugged.

Gabrielle folded her arms across her chest to block the warrior's grasp. “Oh, no you don't!” she warned the warrior. “Use something you are wearing.”

“My armor is metal,” Xena pointed out.

“How about using your underwear?” Gabrielle suggested.

“No, no. I just felt your top piece and it's all dry…”

“Your underwear is wet?” Gabrielle asked with an eyebrow arched. “Really! Xena! Even in this situation?”

Xena shrugged. “Not my fault. I was touching your breast and you know what that can do to me.”

Gabrielle nodded. “Okay, but before I sacrifice my dignity tell me how you plan to ignite my top.”

“Under different circumstances, I know exactly how to...”

“Xena! You know what I mean.” Gabrielle stammered.

“And I'm more than willing to give it a try here.” She winked an unseen wink. “But first, I need to light up the torch I'm trying to make.” She banged together the two rocks she was holding. “I think I can get a spark out of these.”

Gabrielle unlaced her garment and shoved it against the warrior's arm.

“Thank you, my dear.” Xena wrapped it around the top of the stick and handed the future torch to her partner. Then she knelt down beside the bard and struck the rocks together. Nothing happened. She tried again and again and again with the same lack of result.

“I'm getting a headache.” Gabrielle said after what had to be the fiftieth try. “And it's chilly.”

Xena wiped the sweat from her forehead. “I'll warm you up in a minute.” She struck the rocks together a few more times before admitting defeat. “Okay, it's not going to work. There's too much moisture in the air and no kindling.” She gave the BGSB back to Gabrielle and sat down beside her. She hugged the bard and held her to warm her up. They could hear the storm raging outside the cave.

“How long can this last?” asked the bard.

“Hours or days, it's hard to tell.” Xena replied. “At least we will have light in the morning to make it back to the camp and can start our fire back up. The wood here is dry enough so we should gather some.”

Gabrielle leaned her head against the warrior's shoulder and placed her hand on her midriff. “Do you remember that innkeeper the other day?”

“You mean the one who called you Mrs. Princess?”

Gabrielle felt Xena's abs tighten in a silent chuckle. “Yes, that guy. What did you tell him, anyway, when you checked us in?”

Xena took a moment to recall exactly what she had said. “I asked for a room with a fireplace and a sturdy bed. He was rather full of his officious self so when he insisted I sign my full name on the register, I signed Xena W. Princess. The ‘warrior' word can intimidate strangers and he looked more than a little strange. Then he must have seen you and I go to the room.”

Gabrielle bobbed her head in understanding. “So when I checked us out, he thought I was your wife, for lack of a better word. Mrs. Xena W. Princess.”

That or the room's thin walls.” Xena thought. “I can be Mrs. Gabrielle Bard, at the next inn. Or we could hyphenate everything and both become Mrs. Xena-brielle Warrior-Princess-Bard. I think Xena-brielle sounds better than Gabri-xena. What do you think?”

Gabrielle punched her in the shoulder. “I think there's a reason I'm the bard and you're the warrior.”

Xena stood up. If they were going to spend the night right where they were, she decided, she needed to clear a space on the floor so they could at least lie down and try to get some sleep. Gabrielle listened to Xena shuffling around and the sound of rocks and pebbles being tossed against the side of the cave. She felt a chill but was no longer apprehensive about their situation. She always felt safe with Xena. Fear was something she felt only when her warrior was away or in danger. She rubbed her hands over her arms to ward off the cool damp air. And truth be told, she didn't mind being referred to as Xena's wife. Being loved by Xena was, above anything else she might become, the one thing she cherished most.

They lay down on the hard floor. Xena was on her back and Gabrielle was curled beside her. The storm still raged in the distance showing no sign of lessening. A flash of lightening momentarily provided a dim light around them and they saw that they were looking into each other's eyes. Then the light was gone and blackness swallowed them again.

“I would miss seeing your blue eyes the most, if I became blind.” Gabrielle said softly as they cuddled.

“I see your green eyes even in my dreams, Gabrielle. I will never see anything more beautiful or anything I love more. Being blind would be bearable as long as you are with me.”

“I love you, Xena.”

“I love you more.” The warrior gently pushed the bard onto her back and leaned over her to deliver a kiss.

Only Gabrielle arched her back and pulled a rock from beneath her.

“You missed one.” She noted as she tossed the rock aside.

“Sorry.” Xena continued with the idea of delivering a kiss. She tried to put her hand lovingly on Gabrielle's cheek, but ended up poking her in the eye.

“Ouch.” The bard cried out. “I'll be with you if you're ever blind, Xena. But I may need armor.”

“You can use mine then, I won't need it.”

“As if my bosom could fill the breastplate you wear.” Gabrielle rubbed her eye.

“You're young. Things may develop.” Xena knew a second too late she shouldn't have said that.

Gabrielle turned her head and sighed.

“Your bosom is perfect.” The warrior attempted a quick recovery. “Your everything is perfect. You are beautiful and warm and loving and…”

“Okay. Okay. Don't panic.” Gabrielle laughed.

Releasing an audible sound of relief, Xena lowered her head and placed a tender kiss on a surprised nose.

“Close.” Smiled the bard. “Keep trying.”

The warrior did and finally achieved her goal. They shared a long, passionate kiss. Then another and as their passion built they removed bits of clothing and started to make love. It required true love because the floor was hard and uneven. Xena brought Gabrielle atop her to shield the bard from the discomfort of the cold rock floor. Their hands had to both touch and see and the sound of their moans was drowned out in the wind and thunder. Passion, of course, would win out or so they believed. Despite the dirt and the dust which caused each of them to cough at critical moments. They were determined to savor the pleasure of their love making, even when Gabrielle inadvertently kneed the warrior in the stomach. And they persevered when Xena elbowed her partner ‘s thigh.

“Ouch!” Gabrielle let out, surprised by yet another stab of pain.

“Sorry,” the warrior grimaced. “Try to stop moving so much.” She was finding it frustrating to feel her way to the bard's sanctum sanctorum.

“That's not possible.” Gabrielle told her then blew a stray hair out of her own eyes.

“Just give me one more flash of lightening, please!” Xena asked the gods.

They ignored her so she made her best guess. Gabrielle jumped up with a yelp. “That's not my…the right place.” She said exasperated.

“Sorry,” Xena said stating to laugh and trying desperately not to. “I mean it, Gabrielle, I'm really sorry.” Then she couldn't help it. She laughed loud and long until the bard punched her.

“I thought warriors had much better aim.” The bard chided.

“Not the blind ones,” Xena stifled her merriment.

Gabrielle accepted defeat and crawled over to the rock she had sat on before. Xena didn't move from where she lay. “Gabrielle, are you sure?” she asked recalling their first time together. This time they both laughed.

“I'm sure we should retreat and make love another day.” The bard told her.

Xena rose and joined her on the rock, bringing a few pieces of clothing to the bard. “It was only a battle,” she philosophized. “Not the whole war.”

They cuddled and listened to the storm roaring full force outside the cave. There was no food or water and it was getting chillier as the night wore on. Xena wrapped her arms about the little blonde who had actually started to shiver.

“We need to move about.” She said standing and pulling Gabrielle to her feet. “It will warm us up. Here you hold onto my leathers, I'll lead and we'll see if we can walk around without falling.”

They ran into the far wall on their first attempt. Then counted the steps it took to make it to the opposite wall. It took twelve steps for Xena of the long legs, fifteen for the shorter bard. They marched back and forth between the walls a few times, picking up the pace each time. Then to save them from the monotony, Xena took the bard in her arms and began to dance. They danced back and forth between the walls. Xena hummed a familiar theme song as they danced and the bard spun. Taking the lead from time to time, Gabrielle endeavored to dip the warrior and dropped her only twice. When Gabrielle felt warm enough they inched their way to the sitting stone where they sat gathering their breath and once again became disembodied voices in the impenetrable dark.

“When I was a child I used to wonder if this was what death was like - total blackness.” Gabrielle chose a thought from among the many swirling in her brain.

“I can't imagine you as a morbid little girl, Gabrielle.” Xena turned her head toward the bard she couldn't see. “I envision you playing with rag dolls, your hair all in pigtails and layers of pretty clothes.”

Gabrielle shook her head. “Hardly, no dolls, although I did have pigtails.”

Xena gathered the bard's hair into crude pigtails with her hands and laughed. “Wish I could see this.”

“Rather glad you can't.” said Gabrielle as she retrieved her hair and smoothed it down.

“I, on the other hand, played with swords, practiced jumps and kicks, and...”

“Beat up your brothers.” Gabrielle finished the image. “Your mother told me.”

“That was me all dressed in leather and tossing my baby chakram at the boys.”

Gabrielle formed a mental image of the little girl Xena described. “Can't say that image works for me, Xena” I think you were a pretty little girl dressed in ruffles and lace, all legs and elbows.”

“Nope, no ruffles or lace…or leather either.”

“Well, I'm sure the leather started sometime. Maybe when you were a teenager.” Gabrielle mused.

“We are not going there.” Xena drew the line. “I'll share the sins of my warlord past with you, but never, never ask me about my teenage years.”

”Nor will I ever reveal details about mine.” They shook hands on it.

“We had to be similar to the people we are now.” Gabrielle's thoughts veered in a new direction. “Our essence doesn't change. What do you think about …”

The sound of tiny feet scurrying across the floor distracted the bard. “What was that?”

“Probably one of the critters I was concerned about.”

“Critters?” Gabrielle climbed to her feet on the rock she had been sitting on and grabbed for Xena. “Kill it. Kill it, please.” She begged.

“Could you stop pulling my hair first?” Xena requested. “It's probably a rat. It's more eager to get away from us than anything else. I ‘m more worried about bats.”

“By the gods, Xena! Rats! Bats!” She climbed onto the warrior's shoulders.

None of which are as dangerous as a hysterical bard.' Xena felt her throat closing between Gabrielle's thighs. “Gabrielle, I need to breath!” She pulled on the bard's legs loosening their grip only slightly. “Listen, it's gone.” She rasped. “It's gone, I promised.”

Gabrielle clutched Xena's hair as she leaned forward to listen. After a few moments, convinced the critter was gone, she relaxed her strangle hold on the warrior's neck . Xena took a deep breath and lifted the bard off her shoulders, setting her gently on the ground.

“Sorry.” Gabrielle apologized sounding more than a little sheepish.

“No need.” The warrior replied. “You know me, I'm always willing to try a new position.”

Xena! Your mind just goes there automatically doesn't it.”

“Me? You were the one wrapping her thighs around my neck.” She bent and gave the bard a quick kiss. “With a few adjustments, I think we can make that one work. One of us should face the other way though.”

Gabrielle blushed and Xena knew it even in the dark. They settled back down on the rock and leaned against each other. The storm was still fierce and the blackness was still absolute. And there was nothing much to do. Gabrielle considered suggesting that they meditate, but decided Xena was suffering enough. Charades was out of the question. There was nothing to drink or eat and no place to go. And yet it was nice to just sit and be with each other. The bard wanted nothing more than to be with her warrior forever.

“What do you think about this reincarnation business?” She asked picking up the earlier conversation.

“I find it a comfort,.” Xena thought for a moment then explained. “I like that we will be together, sharing lifetimes for eternity. It gives me courage because I know I can never really lose you. Even in death, remember?”

Gabrielle took the warrior's hand in both of hers. “I felt that way at first. But now I'm not completely happy about it. I mean I've given it a lot of thought since we had that vision of one of our future lives. And I think there are serious drawbacks.”

“Like what?'

Gabrielle sighed. “We will have different relationships in those lives, Xena. I can't accept that idea completely.”

“You mean you will not always be a bard and I may not be a warrior.” Xena waited for Gabrielle to say something but the bard simply squeezed her hand. “Ah, you mean we will not always be lovers.”

Gabrielle heard a sympathetic smile in the warrior's voice. “Yes.” She said softly. “I cherish being your lover, Xena. I love to touch you, to see the pleasure it brings to those blue eyes. I love the way you touch me and I need the way you make me feel. I know we will always love each other, but that's not the same as being IN love. And I can't imagine not being in love with you.”

Xena gathered the bard close and kissed her on the top of her hair. “I can't imagine it either. Being your lover is the greatest joy in my life. But my love for you is so much more, Gabrielle. You are my soulmate, my source. I will always be in love with you, Gabrielle. And I prefer to believe that it will be just as wonderful without the physical closeness. We will be together forever and that knowledge alone gives me comfort.”

“How can you be so sure?”

“Well, we just failed at the physical part, didn't we? Do you love me any less now?”

“Of course not!” Gabrielle shook her head. “So what you're saying is that it's the love that endures. The love making is just one way to express that love and not really that important.”

“I am definitely NOT saying that.” The warrior sounded horrified. “I don't care what some future life looks like. In this life I want to do the horizontal with you every chance we get. It is highly important.”

“Promise?” Gabrielle sounded much cheerier.

“Warrior-princess-lover's honor.”

Gabrielle smiled. “I can deal with that.”

Things were getting much too serious and Xena tried to lighten the mood with a suggestion. “Tell me a story. You know, like you were reading me one of your scrolls.”

“They are all about you, Xena. You know the stories. You lived them.”

“That's okay. I like listening to the sound of your voice.”

Gabrielle thought for a few moments. “Once upon a time…”

“What?” Xena interrupted. “Gabrielle, no story should begin with once upon a time. That's as bad as they lived happily ever after for an ending.”

“I like ‘once upon a time' and ‘happily ever after'.” Gabrielle said giving Xena a nasty look which of course she couldn't see. “Okay, how about it was a dark and stormy night.”

“It IS a dark and stormy night, Gabrielle.” Xena tapped her fingers on the rock. “Tell me a story that takes us away from all this. A story that is uplifting, bright, sunny. You know, what I mean?”

Gabrielle twirled her hair as she thought some more. “I've got it. It's a story I call A Day in the Life. We are…”

“Not interested.” Xena stopped her right there. “I want something fresh, something exciting. Not the humdrum of everyday life.”

“Everybody's a critic.” Gabrielle moaned. “Well, there's the story about the day that kept repeating itself.”


“Been there, done that. Don't want to do it again.” Xena sounded quite firm. “What about the Warlord and the Slave Girl?”

“I didn't write that one! In fact, I wouldn't write that one.”

“Pity.” Said the warrior. “I, ah, heard it was pretty good.”

Gabrielle sighed. Her list of possibilities was growing shorter. “Maybe we should pick a genre,” she said through clenched teeth. “Do you want a love story?”

Xena shook her head. “I don't think so. That didn't work out too well earlier.”

“Do you prefer drama? Action?”

“Depends, I'd rather not think about Calisto or Ares or Draco or…”

“I get it.” Gabrielle crossed several more scrolls off her mental list. “How do you feel about humor? I can think of something funny. Maybe.”

Xena crossed her legs and nodded. “I'll go with that. Tell me a funny story.”

Gabrielle cleared her throat. “The day began with Joxer…”

Xena put her hand over Gabrielle's mouth. “Ix-nay on the oxer-jay. I want to be entertained not driven to dementia.”

Gabrielle wanted to scream. Instead she pulled Xena hand away from her mouth and groaned. Xena let a moment of silence pass and then asked. “So, come on, Miss Bard. What other story comes to mind?”

“The one in which you get crucified.”

A flash of lightening revealed the stunned look on Xena's face and the exasperation on Gabrielle's.

“My bad!” Xena said contritely. “Maybe it's a good thing I've never read your scrolls. I am a trifle hard to please.” She passed the back of her hand along the bard's cheek. “How about I tell you a story?”

Gabrielle was surprised. “I'd like that.” She said sincerely.

Xena stood and faced the audience of one she couldn't see but knew was there. “Once upon a time,” she started intentionally and smiled at Gabrielle's little chuckle. ”A warrior woman was headed home. Her heart was heavy, her soul sick unto dying, and her will to live hung by its last thread. Darkness and hate had consumed her and hope of a fresh start was her only companion. She passed the remains of villages she had destroyed and she heard whispers from the ghosts of people whose lives she had laid waste. She had become evil itself but she longed to find peace. She rarely ate, slept in nightmare filled fits, and felt only darkness and pain.”

Gabrielle felt tears gather in her eyes. Xena had never spoken this personally about her dark night of the soul. The warrior's voice was solemn and low and tinged with the pain of which she spoke. Taking a deep breath, Xena continued in the low, soft tone. “When she at last reached her home, she found rejection instead of redemption and she reached the lowest level of despair. Convinced she was utterly alone, all that remained was death to end her suffering. And the warrior welcomed it.”

Gabrielle wanted to hug the warrior but she knew that was why Xena had stood up out of reach. The warrior could only speak her story while alone in the dark, a disembodied voice. Her dark side was the one thing she had never allowed the bard to get too close to. In her mind, Gabrielle saw the sadness that was undoubtedly on the warrior's face. It was a look she had seen before and it pierced her heart every time.

“Some say the warrior woman's story should have ended right there. And it would have ended by the warrior's own hand except for the intercession of a brave young woman who said to the dark stranger ‘You must take me with you.' Those six words are engraved on the warrior's soul, the soul they saved. The young woman was beautiful of body and spirit. She was innocent and naïve, but filled with optimism and the ability to love. She was the purest person that the warrior had even known. She saw the good in everything and over time she helped the warrior to see beyond her own evil past. The young woman was the one light in the warrior's dark existence. And like a moth to a flame, the warrior could not look away.”

Xena sat down beside Gabrielle. “You still listening?” she asked with a small self-conscious laugh. Gabrielle nodded and uttered “Uh huh.” in a husky voice. “I think you must add bard to your many skills.” Encouraged Xena continued.

“The warrior came to love the young woman who gave her life meaning and joy. And in time, she realized an even greater miracle had been given to her. The bright young woman had come to love the warrior in return. Theirs is a love that transcends time, or distance, or even death. The love the warrior and her bard share is the essence of life itself.” Xena paused and wished she could see Gabrielle's face. ‘Did the bard agree?' she momentarily wondered. Then she felt Gabrielle squeeze her hand and she knew her lover did. So she brought her story to an end.

“Strangers who became friends and finally lovers, they travel their journey together, I am told, even to this day.” Xena held tight to the bard's hand. “And the warrior holds deep in her heart the hope that they will live happily ever after.”

Gabrielle threw her arms around Xena's neck and hugged her tight. Xena hugged her back.

“I thought you didn't want a love story.” Gabrielle said.

“It is a love story, isn't it?.” Xena stroked the bard's hair. “I probably should have put a few fight scenes in it though.” They laughed.

“Listen!” Gabrielle remarked. “The storm has calmed down. I can even hear birds chirping.”

Xena listened to the sound of rain falling lightly to the ground. “The storm is nearly done. And dawn is coming. That's why the birds are singing.”

They sat beside each other, holding hands and let the gentle sounds of life settle over them. The first rays of sunlight illuminated the way out of the cave. The warrior princess and the bard packed their belongings and step out into the day to continue their journey. They felt light and free as they stowed one more memory safe in their hearts. The night in the cave and the conversations in the dark were thenceforth part of the tapestry of their extraordinary lives.

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