In Need Of A Friend
Gabrielle awoke the next morning, her face warmed by the sunlight streaming through her window. She blinked sleepily as the images of her dream replayed over in her mind. She had dreamed that Xena had been brought back to life and they had been reunited. She smiled, still feeling her lover's arms around her even as the last images of her dream faded from her mind. The hand resting on her stomach gently caressed her soft skin and with a start, Gabrielle realised that last night had not been a dream and it was Xena's arm wrapped around her waist. She rolled over to face her lover, feeling as though she could cry from the happiness she felt.
Leaning up on her elbow, she looked down at her soulmate, trailing her fingertips over the dark haired woman's jaw. By the Gods, she was alive. It was still hard for the bard to accept the fact that Xena had been brought back to her. The past year had been the hardest of Gabrielle's life, and now it was finally over. Xena had returned to her.
She grinned as the corner of Xena's mouth curled into a smile, before the warrior opened her eyes to look up at her lover. Gabrielle returned her smile with one of her own, before leaning down and brushing her lips against her companion's. She rested her forehead against Xena's, closing her eyes as she enjoyed the moment she had wished for, for so long.
"I love you," Gabrielle whispered, her voice choked with emotion as she pulled back to look down at her lover.
"I love you too," Xena replied, gazing at the bard with a warm smile. Her finger's gently caressed her soulmate's cheek, needing to touch her lover to reassure her that she was really there. She smiled as Gabrielle leaned into her hand, closing her eyes.
"It's late," Gabrielle sighed softly, turning her head to look out the window as the sun continued to rise higher into the sky. "We have to go and meet Alexandria and Varia to discuss the final battle plans."
"I think Alex and Varia can wait a little longer," Xena whispered as she leaned up on her elbow to trail kisses along Gabrielle's shoulder.
Gabrielle moaned, biting her lip and dropping her head back to give her lover better access as she tangled her fingers in Xena's dark hair.
"Yes, they can wait a little longer," Gabrielle breathed as she pulled Xena's mouth up to meet hers and kissing her passionately.
Several candlemarks later, Gabrielle and Xena finally entered the Council hut at noon where Varia and Alexandria were awaiting their arrival. Gabrielle smiled at the two women, blushing profusely at the two raised eyebrows she got from the warriors at her slightly dishievled appearance. She ran her fingers through her messy hair as she walked to the table with her lover to go over the battle plans.
Xena nodded at the two women, trying not to be bothered by Alexandria's complete disinterest in her existance. It had hurt more than she cared to admit that she had received the silent treatment since she had been brought back to life by her once closest friend and lover. She had hoped that they would be able to work things out, and maybe Alexandria would be able to forgive her. Though, she expected nothing less than anger and hatred directed at her from the red headed warrior, Alexandria's indifference was much worse. With a sigh, she looked down at the parchment on the table, containing maps and the plan for the upcoming war between the Amazon's and King Delvin's army.
Gabrielle and Xena were both impressed by the plan laid out before them. It was a simple plan, but the way it was set out almost completely ensured their victory against Delvin's army. As Xena looked more closely though, she read something that made her stomach tie itself into knots unexpectedly.
"It's a good plan, Alexandria," Gabrielle smiled at the red headed warrior, recieving a small grin in return from Alexandria.
"I don't like it," Xena said simply, crossing her arms over her chest as she looked up at the red headed woman.
Gabrielle looked over at Xena in shock, glancing between her and Alexandria, who's eyes were flashing with anger. "Xena, this is flawless. I don't understand, what's wrong with it?"
"She doesn't want me on the front line," Alexandria growled between clenched teeth as she glared at the dark haired woman. "You forget, Warrior, I'm immortal. I'm the best person to lead the Amazon's from the front."
"If you're immortal, why don't you just walk into the battle alone and take them on yourself?" Xena asked, raising an eyebrow at her ex lover.
Alexandria sneered at the dark haired warrior, stepping forward menacingly only to be stopped by Varia's hand on her chest. She bared her teeth at the Amazon before turning back to Xena, growling her reply. "I already offered to go alone, but Gabrielle refused. The Amazon's won't allow me to fight their battle's for them, but the least I can do is stand on the front line and try to help them the best I can."
The two women glared at each other for several moments as Alexandria clenched her injured hand behind her back. She was wearing a pair of fingerless leather gloves to hide her wound from her companions. She didn't want them to know that she was going to be practically walking into her death when the battle started. She jumped when she felt a warm hand on her shoulder, turning her head sharply to look at Varia, who gazed back at her sadly. She could see what her friend was trying to say, the words shining brightly in her dark brown eyes. You are not alone. She smiled at the Amazon before turning back to Xena, her face an emotionless mask.
"I will be at the front with the best warrior's the Amazon's have to offer. Queen Gabrielle will be with the cavalry while you come down from the hills behind the battle with the rest of the Amazon's and take their army from the back. You are our element of suprise as no one knows that you're alive, no one will be expecting you. It's actually a very simple plan. We are outnumbered two to one. This is the only way we stand a chance. Deal with it."
With a nod towards Gabrielle, Alexandria turned on her heel and stalked from the Council hut, wanting to be away from Xena's intense gaze. She made it to the safety of her own hut before she heard the warrior following her and with a snarl, she turned to face the dark haired woman. "What is your problem, Xena? We've used this plan hundreds of times in the past with me on the front line and you never cared before. Why is it a problem now?"
"This is different," Xena replied angrily as she slammed the hut door closed behind her.
"How is this different? If anything, this should be easier. We have nothing tying us together anymore, and better yet, I can't get hurt. You have nothing to worry about," Alexandria said in frustration, clenching and unclenching her hands at her sides. She felt her anger rising higher and higher, along with her excitement at being so close to the woman she loved.
"Stop lying to me," Xena whispered, closing her eyes. "We both know you can get hurt, Alex."
"What are talk-"
"I saw your wound!" Xena shouted, stepping closing to the red headed woman and grabbing her injured hand. "I saw it yesterday when you came to Gabrielle's hut to speak to her. You tried to hide it but it didn't work. You gave up your immortality to bring me back, didn't you?"
Alexandria stood in the middle of her hut, her eyes wide with shock as she was caught red handed, litterally. She regained her senses quickly, pulling her hand from Xena's grasp to run her fingers through her hair.
"It doesn't matter," Alexandria whispered as her emotions threatened to overwhelm her. "Not anymore. You have Gabrielle to worry about now, you need to stop worrying about me. You love her. You don't love me anymore."
"I never stopped stopped loving you!" Xena shouted once more, shocking them both with her confession. She stared sadly at the red headed woman before sighing softly. "I never stopped loving you, Alexandria. I always have and I always will, nothing will change that. Yes, I have Gabrielle now, and I do love her. I love her more than my own life, but I don't want to lose you. I don't want to go into battle in two days time, knowing that I will have to live without you again when it's over."
"Xena," Alexandria said softly, reaching up and gently caressing a bronze cheek. "Whether we win or lose, you're going to have to live without me when this is over."
"Alexandria, no," Xena whispered, her heart aching. She wanted so desperately to make Alexandria understand how sorry she was. She wanted her to know how much she regretted hurting her. She wanted her to know that a part of her had been lost forever when Alexandria had died. She couldn't say any of these things though, knowing that no matter how sorry she was, nothing would ever be the same between them. No matter how much she still loved Alexandria, they were not destined for one another. As much as it hurt, she had to let Alexandria go.
"I can't..." Xena breathed, closing her eyes as she leaned into Alexandria's touch. It was like she'd returned to her past as she felt the red headed woman's fingers on her skin. All the emotions she had once felt for this woman seeped from the tightly closed box she had locked in her heart.
"I know," Alexandria said softly, biting her lip as she gently ran her thumb over Xena's full lips. She resisted the urge for a moment before giving in and brushing her lips against her ex lover's. She closed her eyes, kissing her more firmly before pulling away as Xena started to respond. With one more final look into Xena's sad blue eyes, she turned away. She shook her head as she walked away from the dark haired woman and out of the hut, holding her hand over her heart as she felt like she was dying all over again.
To be continued in Chapter Eighteen.
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