Xena was making the coffee for herself and her companion. She was very worried about her best friend. They had been together for about a moon and until the day before her new friend was always light hearted as sunshine. Now she was very worried that her friend was home sick her attitude had changed and she wasnt acting like she normally did.
Gabrielle had been moody and very quiet. It took Xena the whole moon to get use to her friends constant chatter. Now she enjoyed the sound of her voice and found it fun to hear her friend work on her tales as they traveled together. It cheered her up and kept her from her own dark thoughts.
Xena looked across the fire and saw that Gabrielle was still fast asleep. Her face looked drawn and her body was pulled into a ball instead of lying on her stomach like she usually did. She walked over and gently put her hand on her shoulder.
Pain filled green eyes blinked open. "Hi um, I will cook breakfast as soon as I go to river to wash up, ok?"
Now very worried by the obvious strain on the pale face Xena gently felt her cheek, "Gabrielle youre burning up. Why didnt you tell me you werent feeling well last night?"
"I didnt want you to think I was a weak little girl."
Xenas face look like she had been struck, "After all we have been through in the last moon why would you think I would? Do you think I am that blind or stupid?"
Xena stood up went back to the fire to get some water from carrier she brought up from the river to brew their coffee. She brought that and clothe from her bag and then went back to her friend. She sat down beside her and gently wiped her head with the cloth.
Gabrielles eyes were closed and she whispered, "Thank you."
"Your welcome. So?"
"Huh?" One eye opened.
"Why would you ever think that Id leave you behind for any reason?"
"Im not well, I dont want to mess you up I mean "
"I thought when you came back from the academy you figured it all out?"
"I knew I belonged out here with you."
Xena shook her head as she went through the saddlebag looking for some herbs for her friend. "I must be one of hell of a friend to inspire these thoughts."
Gabrielle groaned and curled into a tight ball. "Its not you at all."
Xena gently ran her hand against her cheek and supported her friends back with her arm as she said, "Then why do you think I would abandon you because you were sick?"
"Its not sickness. Its my moon. I just I dont want to be weak in your eyes "
"Oh for . Gabrielle that does not make you weak and you should have told me. I just pulled out the wrong herbs."
"Sorry, Ill be hurting for at least two days and I get a bad headache. I thought if I just stayed quiet you wouldnt notice it."
Xena rolled her eyes as she replaced one set of herbs with another. "I must be some friend. You think I wouldnt notice that my best friend was silent and moody? I am so self absorbed I couldnt see the difference?" She got up and went to the fire to put the herbs in special bag that she used to mix medicine in. It was a special combination that helped both ease the pain and relaxes the tense muscles that a womans moon gave her.
Gabrielles eyes filled with a flood of tears as she watched Xena. She could see that she hurt her and the thought cut at her heart deeply.
Xena returned with the medicine in a cup of tea. She saw the tears falling from the closed eyes and felt her own well up. Xena put the cup down and pulled her friend into her arms hugging her tight. "Im sorry, I am just an insensitive oaf "
"No, I am. I hurt your feelings "
Xena pulled back and looked into her friends very upset and contrite face. "Are you crying because .Gabrielle I ? Xena was truly stunned. She cleared her throat and reached over to pick up the cup of tea. She brought it up to her friends dry lips and said softly, "Sip this, it will make you feel a bit better."
Gabrielle sipped the tea and then whispered, "Im sorry."
"Dont be silly. Why should you be sorry?"
"I told you, I feel horrible about hurting your feeling before."
Xena snorted, "Im a tough old war horse I dont have any feeling to hurt."
Gabrielle smiled a tiny bit and shook her head, "Sure you dont. Where have I been for the last moon? I know you have deep feeling and I I just dont want to disappoint you."
"You will never disappoint me. Youre my inspiration. I dont know if I could have stuck to this path that Hercules put me on if it wasnt for our friendship. Come on sip some more of this it will ease your cramps."
"It tastes terrible."
Xena shook her head and said with a slight smile, "Drink it."
With a scrunched up face Gabrielle sipped the tea. Xena silently chuckled at the funny expression, "Come on drink all of it. I promise it will help with the pain."
Gabrielle opened her eyes and saw the slight smile and the amused blue eyes, that pleased her and made her smile a bit more. "Thanks for taking care of me. You dont get cramps at all do you?"
"Yep, come on drink the whole cup."
Gabrielle sipped a bit more but then pushed it away and said, "You do?"
"Yep I suffer with four days of pure Tartarus once a moon. Finish."
Gabrielle took a deep breath, scrunched her face again and finished the cup. Xena put the cup down and said, "Ok that should make you nice and sleepy."
"But What about "The medicine was already working she couldnt put her thoughts together.
"Shh, dont worry about it. Lie back down and let it work." Xena gently eased her back down onto the bedroll and tenderly tucked her in.
*** *** *** ***
Gabrielles eyes opened slowly meeting concerned blue eyes. Xena smiled gently and asked, "Do you feel any better?"
"A little. How long have I been asleep?"
"All day and half the night," Xena replied her smile widening at her friend wide-eyed reaction.
"Xena!" she croaked, her throat hurt. So did her eyes and she felt groggy.
"Hey, Im the one who gave you the herbs. I know exactly how they work. After you eat a little something I am going to give to you another dose."
"Xena, no Ill mess you all up. I feel ok, really "Xena covered her mouth gently with her open palm. She shook her head and said, "Gabrielle, It is not a big deal. Really it isnt. I care about your health far more then making it to the next town. Now lie back and relax while I finish our dinner."
"But what about you um, mission you know?
"It can wait till you feel better."
"Dont argue." Xena got up and got their meal of bread and soup. Then she came back and said, "Ok, let get some food into you."
"Come on you need something in your stomach or youll get sick."
"I am sick. I cant eat anything."
"You know I havent had to get tough with you in quite a long while but "
"Xena Im sick "Said Gabrielle pathetically.
"So?" She looked at her friend and tried to keep the smile from her face, Gabrielle looked like a pathetic puppy, but she couldnt hold it back any more and she laughed.
Gabrielle was pleased cause she knew that she was laughing for all the right reasons and she wasnt upset with her. "You know youre a great healer."
Xena shrugged and started to gently pop pieces of bread into her friends mouth.
"Youre my best friend and I care about you."
"No problem, could you do me a favor from now on?"
"Tell me when your not feeling well."
Xena tenderly lifted her chin till she could look into her friends eyes and said, "You are my dearest friend I dont want you to suffer to show me how tough you are. That is not necessary. Is that a deal?"
Gabrielle drank some soup that Xena had held up to her then she looked into compassionate eyes and said, "Deal."
"Good now eat the rest.
"Im really not hungry."
"Do I have to?"
*** *** *** ***
The next morning Gabrielle woke up to find herself alone. She saw Xenas stuff so she knew her friend was proably taking her bath. Gabrielle sat up and stretched. She did feel much better for the rest her friend had forced her to take. She smiled because it had worried her for a long time that Xena would leave her behind for her own good. Now she knew that she had no intention of doing that.
She also knew that Xena, though she was very subtle about it shared her affections in kind. Having that precious piece of knowledge was the best healer.
"Feeling better?" Xena asked as she came back from the river.
Gabrielle nodded smiling, "Yep, thanks to you."
Xena shrugged, "You would have done the same thing for me."
"Yes, thats nice to know isnt it?"
Xena sat across from her and nodded, "Very. You know I havent had a friend in a really long time. Not a real one. Not like you. I am very glad that you are in my life." She was busy folding up her bedroll not meeting Gabrielles eyes as she said all this. The last was said very quietly but Gabrielle heard every sylable. "You mean a lot to me."
Gabrielle blushed and she had to swallow a couple times to reply to that. "You mean a lot to me too."
Xena finally looked up and their eyes met and held for a long time. The connection that had always been there strengthened and they smiled at each other in understanding.
"Are you hungry?"
"Good, youve eaten like a bird the last couple of days. I really missed watching you devour enough food for a whole army. Would you like some fish?"
Gabrielle chuckled, "Sounds good."
"Ok, Ill catch it if youll cook it?"
Xena nodded and headed back to river.
*** *** *** ***
They were walking slowly to the next town. Xena was walking beside Gabrielle with Argo trailing patiently behind them.
"You said you suffer for four days?"
"When you were at the Academy."
"Uum how what ."
Xena stopped and smiled with her arms folded. She tilted her head and asked, "What are you trying to ask me?"
"When you were a um ."
"What did you do?"
Xena shook her head as if trying to clear it. "About what?"
"Nothing, I just ignored it."
"But you said it was really bad."
"It was then and it is now."
"So how could you ignore it?"
"I led an army of cut throats and murderers. I couldnt let them know I was weak in anyway. I just worked so hard that I forgot about till I was alone. It was hardest at night but I had my own tent and they well lets just say that any of my men that would try to enter it unvited didnt ever do that again."
"Does that answer your question."
"Yes and no."
"What doesnt it answer?"
"What is your method to deal with it? To ignore it."
Xena shook her head and put her hand gently on her friends arm. "I now know when your moon is, so you dont need to worry about it. All I ask is that you let me take care of you."
"Are you sure?"
Xena smile broadened, "Yes?"
"What are you like?"
"Pretty much the same as I always am. I am a bit quieter I guess and more moody. Sometimes you can get my temper going a lot easier then normal. I really dont think youd notice I am not exactly patient normally."
"I think I could tell the difference."
Xena looked deeply into the sweet green eyes and nodded. She mussed her friends bangs and said softly, "Yes I guess you would be able to. You read me pretty well in just a casual situation so I dont see why you wouldnt be able to then. Come on, lets get going Argo is getting bored."
They started walking again as Gabrielle chuckled and said, "Now we cant have that can we?"
"Nope, dont want my baby to get bored."
Gabrielle shook her head, "You and that horse."
"Shes been with me along time."
"She hates me."
"No, she doesnt."
"Well she sure doesnt like me."
Xena shrugged, "Shes just jealous."
Gabrielle stopped suddenly. Xena took a couple steps and then turned around to find her friend with a shocked expression that was almost comical. "What did you say?"
"Shes jealous. She has to actually share me with someone I care about. She has never had to do that before but dont worry shell get used to you."
Xena nodded, "Sure, what else would call it?"
Xena put a hand on Gabrielles shoulder and said softly, "She knows I care about you a lot. She doesnt really understand it cause she has never had to deal with that before. Shes a good girl though she will accept you. Youre the human here so be patient with her shell come around."
"Uh, ok. If you say so."
Xena petted her nose like she was a horse and chuckled at the reaction she got from the amused but distracted blonde. "Come on lets get a move on you have a lot of meals to make up for."
The warrior pulled the bards hand and started them down the path again. Argo snorted shook her head following her Mistress and strange friend.
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