DISCLAIMER : Xena, Gabrielle, and all the other guys are ©copyright MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. I don't own them, I just like to write about them! So trust me there is absolutely no Copyright infringement intended in the writing of this fiction. It's my way to do a homage to the creators, writers, and actors of the characters. All other characters that appear are mine own and I really don't mind if someone uses them to have a little fun. But I ask to you guys don't use the story for profit in any way. No problem in making copies for private use only and I'd appreciate if you included all copyright notices and this disclaimer.

VIOLENCE WARNING: Of course there is violence, it's Xena, she is a warrior we gotta keep her busy and in shape right?

SUBTEXT: Yes, it's there somewhere. That means, it's based on the premise that Xena and Gabrielle are more than just best friends. It's not gratuitous, and not much explicit (I hope). But c'mon, they're soul mates and are obviously in love with each other. So get a grip!

Well, is hard to know if people like what I'm writing so… if you do just send me a feedback or a suggestion, or anything to: skald.bard@gmail.com or skald.bard@ymail.com . But if it's a bad comment keep to yourself OK?


The Long Walk into the Light
By Skald The Bard
© 2009

Part 1

Xena was sat bay the fire, sharpening her sword for the last fifteen minutes while Gabrielle was very concentrated writing on her scroll as usual. The Warrior finished her task and the silence took place in their camp. She turned her head to the other side of the fire to see a fair head still low, still writing, so focused that she couldn't help smile to the scene. She shook her head back and forth. It's been a year and a half since the kid followed her to her hometown and saved her of being almost stoned to death because she couldn't take anymore to carry the burden of her guilt.

Curious green eyes left the parchment for a second, searching something in the dark, maybe some kind of inspiration for the story or whatever she was writing this time. Xena took a look around and thought that check the place before going to the sleeping furs to rest a little was a good idea.

“ I'm going to check things out” she said startling Gabrielle who was miles away from the camp.

“ Uh… ah… okay.” The girl said. She was having big problems to concentrate, to even write her diary. Her mind seemed more concerned with the tall, dark, strong... and breath taking beautiful figure sat across the fire, the other side of the camp. “Be careful! And don't take too long, the camp is a little creepy when you're not around.” she added with a shy manner that made Xena smile once again.

“ Don't worry, I'll be right back.” Then left.

Gabrielle sighed in disgust. A little creepy when you're not around? Where that came from Gabrielle?? Now she definitely will think you're a coward! Or worse, she thinks you are a big fool. She is probably laughing her head off of you right now. That was dumb. Dumb, dumb, dumb thing to say! And you want to be like her… right… as if! One day she will just get tired of you and your messes, and your babbling Gabrielle and will just drop you back home . She told to herself. She felt a little … no, she felt a lot sad at the mere thought of Xena leaving her… following to her adventures alone . I would miss her so… maybe she wouldn't miss me but… boy… would I ever miss her.

She was a lot confuse. Lately she was loosing track of her mind around the warrior. Well... that's not a surprise, really... I want to bad to be like her. A hero... like her. It's kind of nature I feel a little clumsy around her. A little shy. Try to make her proud. Why am I feeling like this? I mean... Of course I love Xena, she is my best friend... We lived so many things together. But, why I keep... since... that occasion where... She got herself drugged with some poisonous nut bread and just spill out how beautiful Xena was, she has been feeling kind of out of it near the warrior. Not that she never noticed before how beautiful Xena was, she did, of course she did. But, that day... she wasn't sure it was the drugs but, that day it was like she... kind of got herself lost in those big blue eyes of hers, both of them perfectly framed by the dark hair... She got lost in the thought. And when she smiles is like... like... Damn!! What Hades is going on with me?? She mentally slapped herself. Xena already thinks I'm a goofy kid with a deadly case hero worship. If she could read my mind she will be sure of it.

Well, it's not just a case of hero worship... During all this time with Xena she saw so much, learned so much… she lived. Yes… that was exactly the word! She was finally living her life. If she'd stayed at Podediae, and had married Perdicus how her parents wanted her to, her life would be so different right now. She probably would be a mother already, probably carrying the next child and completely unhappy. But right now she was… happy… with the life she was living. She wouldn't say completely happy because… since, she left Xena to risk her luck at the Academy of Bards in Athens, she was having some problems. She missed her best friend too much while she was in Athens. More than she thought she would. Or should for that matter More than she missed her father, mother and sister.

Then she left again, back home this time. She'd helped save her town and then… when the task was over… all she could think about was finding Xena and tell her everything she had done. She remember thinking that Xena would be so proud of her. When she met the warrior Xena just landing near her after one of those marvelous flips. She wished she could just hold her tight and… never let go. And just tell her how much she had missed this smile, those blue eyes…

Well that was kind of normal right? After all they spend all the time together. Night and day… it was natural right? Right! Before leaving, Xena had said that would notice her absence even in the middle of a battle… Xena said herself that she, Gabrielle, was her family; she actually said she was like a sister. She smiled remembering the moment they shared. Since Xena feel so attached to her why couldn't she feel the same? Because that' what I'm feeling right? She is like… like a sister to me . Then she thought about her sister Lila . Well, maybe a little more than a sister. Maybe a lot more… I feel more close to Xena than I ever felt with Lila. After all she never felt close to her sister. They were too different. Well, Xena is a lot different than you too… a little voice inside her head spoke. Yeah, yeah… we are… but… there's something that kind of links us. Sometimes is like I can almost feel it. Or maybe your romantic mind is juts imagining things. Maybe I am… maybe she thinks I'm just an annoying kid. An annoying chatterbox that she cares like the sister she never had.

Well, can't blame her, can I? I always put myself into trouble a lot . She thought. Xena had just risked her life to save her from a bunch of bacchae. She even got herself bitten! Well, I mean… I bit her! She felt a little embarrassed.

“ What is your problem Gabrielle?” Xena's remarkable voice sounded behind her…

“ Xena!” She jumped startled. “Don't you do that! You scared the Hades out of me!”

“ Sorry.” Said the warrior chuckling. “I didn't meant to scare you.”

“ Yeah, right. I think you just like to sneak around people. Wait… that's how you practice right? That's your way of keep up your many skills…”

“ Maybe.” Xena said with a charming smile. “Maybe I just like to sneak around you.”

“ Yeah, like you have a choice. I'm the only one around you all the time.” Now, where this came from? Xena thought to herself.

“ So, are you gonna tell me?” The warrior asked.

“ Tell you what?” Gabrielle blinked looking at Xena's face.

“ What's bothering you?”

“ What makes you think that there's something bothering me?”

“ When I left you were writing, when I came back you were mumbling. So I thought, maybe something is bothering her.” Xena praised herself for being so smart. Guess I hit the bull's eye. She saw Gabrielle blush a little.

“ Mumbling?” Gabrielle tried to avoid the question.

“ Yeah, like babbling to yourself.” Xena explained calmly. “Spill it!”

“ Don't be goofy Xena. There's nothing bothering me… I… I was… just… you know… just thinking… about… s-stuff! She stammered.

“ You're not going to tell me what kind of stuff.” Wasn't a question. “It's okay. You can keep it to yourself Gabrielle. You're entitled to have your secrets and keep them to yourself. I didn't mean to intrude.” Damn! That serves you right for trying to talk to her. Xena said to herself. Talking is not really your thing, you should know it by now. Xena said, turning around and walking back to her sleeping fur in the other side of the camp. Gabrielle felt her heart small on her chest. When the warrior sat there alone, looking down at her boots, looking a little embarrassed, or disgusted with herself. Gabrielle put her scrolls down and went after her friend. She crossed the camp and sat beside Xena, arms brushing lightly.

“ Sorry… I didn't mean to shut you out…” she tried to smile. “You know there's nothing I can't tell you right?” Well almost nothing that is. She knew she was blushing badly.

“ I know” At least I think I know . Xena mused.

“ You're my best friend.

“ You're my best friend too Gabrielle.”

“ It's… hum… I mean… I was really just thinking…” She paused and took a deep breath. “I was thinking about the two times I left...” The two times I left you . “First time when I went to the academy and the other one when I went back home for a while.” Xena felt a shiver run through her spine and it was like a dark hand was squishing her heart. Does she want to go away again? Gods, I knew this day would come one day but…

“ Right!” Xena tried to keep her voice calm..

“ Well, actually I was… thinking about… how much I missed you when I was away.” Xena felt a smile scape her lips without her permission, but she couldn't help it.

“ Did you?” She asked almost in a whisper.

“ You're kidding right? Of course I did!” She gave Xena a more confident smile. “I was just thinking about it you know… it was so funny… I … I mean… not funny really... it was weird... While I'm here I miss mother, and father… and… most of all I miss Lila a lot… but…” then she felt shy again. “But while I was away I… just… I've missed you so much. I've missed you more than I miss my family right now”.

“ That's…” Xena swallowed hard trying to get rid of the lump in her throat. “Thank you Gabrielle. That's very important to me. It's very important to me to know you feel that way about me. I want you to know that.” She reached out her hand and took the bard's hands on her bigger ones. Gabrielle actually stopped breathing for a few seconds. Then she just gathered her courage and looked up to Xena's blue eyes and smiled.

“ I... yeah... I know that Xena. And I want you to know that you are very important to me too.”- she kept hold of the warriors fingers. “There's the family we were born to. And there's the family that we choose... that's what you are to me, a sister that I choose.” Xena smiled, a little embarrassed Gabrielle could tell. “I'm bothering you with all this mushy stuff aren't I?” Xena chuckled.

“ Well, I'm supposed to be the big bad warrior Gabrielle... as a rule...” Xena said in a amused tone. “And as a rule big bad warriors, specially former warlords... don't talk mushy stuff.”

“ I know... I'm sorry...” Gabrielle tried to apologize.

“ And you know also that there's always an exception for every rule right?

“ Right...”

“ So... that's what you are to me Gabrielle... you are the exception to the rule who says that former warlord don't speak mushy stuff. You know that don't you?”

“ N-no... I- I didn't know.”

“ You know now.”

“ That means I can talk mushy stuff with you whenever I feel like it?” She asked in a playful manner.

“ Sure..” Xena kept smiling.

“ Can I... I mean...” Oh hell, she cursed herself. “Oh... never mind...” she got up at her feet and tried to push away, but Xena kept hold of her hand.

“ What?” She looked right to the green eyes. Gabrielle gathered her courage again and... Just act on it Gabrielle. Stop thinking about the whole thing so damn much . She told herself and...

“ I just...” She thrown her arms around de warriors neck and just gave her a bear hug. Squeezing as hard as she could. And have the most happy surprise when she felt the warrior hug her back. Damn! This feels sooo... good . She felt Xena body shake with a laugh. “Does this rule of your says I can get a hug from time to time?” She asked not releasing her hold.

“ No....” Xena said still smiling. “The rule also says that you can get a hug whenever you feel like Gabrielle.”

“ Really?” the smile she already had grew bigger.

“ Really” said Xena laughing more. Feeling completely happy just to hold Gabrielle like this.

“ That's very, very good because... Had anyone ever told you how good you are at giving hugs?” she said releasing Xena against her will after a while.

“ No, never. You think so hum?” she said ruffling the bard's hair with affection.

“ Yeah... I do.”

“ Okay... let's get some sleep. We have a long road ahead us tomorrow.”

“ Okay.” then went each one to your own bedroll. “Goodnight Xena.”

“ Good night Gabrielle”.

Once the silence took the camp Xena let her mind run free. She closed her eyes, just pretending to sleep. Feeling strongly Gabrielle's eyes on her. She didn't know what was going on inside the bard. But she was aware of little changes in her best friend's ways. She was aware also of her own feelings. In the firsts days with Gabrielle how many times she cursed herself for letting the kid come along? She was better off home with her family and her betrothed, the one who looked like a nice guy, and that Gabrielle with her loving manner would definitely learn to love sooner than later.

And she was better off on her own. Searching... forgiveness. Her body shifted uncomfortable at the thought. She used to make things harder than they already were, just to try discourage the kid but the little blond chatterbox seemed to be as stubborn as herself. She smiled lightly. When did I stop looking for a good reason to send her back home? When did I start to feel bad with the idea of her leaving for good?

Wasn't that first time, when she left to the Academy. Was it? She remembered feeling lonely that night. For the very first time since Gabrielle's voice. She used to like the silence but... she kind of get used to that sweet little voice of hers always making a question, or telling a tale or even babbling around, blushing a little, eyes glued to the ground, incapable of meeting Xena's blue gaze sometimes. She had felt very lonely that night, hearing the fire crept, the sounds of the forest surround her, the lump in her throat getting bigger and bigger and … for the first time facing what would a lonely life would be... She thought about going to Athens and saying goodbye to Gabrielle, but the bard would certainly try to follow her again and she didn't want to take the girl away from her dream. So she took the road and went to fix the cyclops problem.

She really had a nice surprise when Gabrielle met her a couple of day later in the road. She couldn't believe her ears when she heard the familiar small footsteps over the grass running to reach her. The next night was not lonely at all. Gabrielle's melodic and dreamy voice fulfilled the entire camp and something else inside the warrior, that sat next to her in front of the fire while the bard told her about everything she'd done, everyone she met and how she managed to win the competition.

It was amazing Xena, really, you would have been proud of me” she said with that bright smile of hers.

I am proud of you Gabrielle. I just don't understand why you didn't stay there. You could have learned a lot of things. Bards things you know?

I know... but I told you why already. Being part of the tale, see everything is much more fun...”

It's a dangerous life Gabrielle, and you're...”

Don't tell me I'm just a kid Xena. I'm not a child.” she said with sadness in her voice.

I was going to say that you are romanticizing the whole thing.” Xena changed tactics. “ You can get hurt, get sick... it's dangerous and you know I'm right. You would be better if you had stayed there. At least I would know you were safe...” She stopped as she saw Gabrielle's eyes fill with sadness. For a second Xena thought she saw the beginning of some tears. But everything was so fast. “But... I'm...” the words escaped from her lips without her permission. “I'm glad you're here.” She finished with a quiet smile when green eyes looked up at her. “ I missed you.”

Did you?” the hesitant question came out with an hesitant smile.

Yeah... you're not only my best friend Gabrielle, you... are... my... only... friend!” Xena said punctuating each word with a light poke her. What got a real smile out of the girl. Ah... that... Xena thought to herself. I like that look on her face so much better than the sad eyes.

I Missed you too.” She smiled. “ I think a let everybody crazy at the academy because all I did was to talk about you all the time.” Xena smiled. “Well, yeah... I know, I always talk all the time...”

It's okay you talking all the time Gabrielle. It was... kind of... too quiet without you here. “ There... I said. And the smile grew bigger.

I'll remember that when you complain about my babbling.” Gabrielle teased.

Okay.” she paused. Both smiling into each others eyes. “Welcome back Gabrielle.” Just... like... that...and then came the blush and Gabrielle dropped her eyes to the ground...

What did she tell herself when she first noticed that sometimes the unstoppable talk of Gabrielle would turn into a nonsense babbling and she would go very shy, her face red and...? Oh, yeah... it's just a bad case of hero worshiping Xena. Humpf, the kid thinks I'm a hero! Just because I beat the crap out of some morons! Hero... me... yeah... as if!! Let it be... she'll grow out of it . But she just decided to think about it later because she was so damn happy with the return of her best friend. Anyway, it was just a matter of time to the kid wake up one day, take good look at her and just see that she wasn't any hero. Just a grumpy old retired warlord trying as hard as she can make up to the wrong she'd done.

Since when she started to notice that Gabrielle was growing into a beautiful young woman? How many times in the last moons she caught herself thinking how cute she was, or how funny, how smart the little blond was. How her hair looked perfect under the sunset dying lights... Since when she had... let her enter your heart and rule it as her kingdom Xena?

Maybe since that bacchae accident when she was at first nervous wreck because something could really happen to the bard, then, Gabrielle was bit and turned into one of the creatures and had no choice, but to become a bacchae herself to try and save her friend. She just never expected to feel her body to respond so strongly to Gabrielle's bite on her neck. After that she avoided stay too close to the bard. Gabrielle's loving manners, always reaching out a hand to touch her, always throwing herself at her and hugging her... she didn't need this kind of complications. Not with her best friend.

Who am I trying to fool? She smiled sadly to herself... that bacchae incident just opened her eyes to the fact that the young bard was settled in her heart, and was settled for good. Now, she could never take Gabrielle out. I never let her in did I? She just came in and make it her home...

In their first days together she had to warn Gabrielle not to touch her so suddenly, she could get hurt if I react too fast Gabrielle, she'd said. After a while, she grow more used to the bards presence, relaxed a little more, so Gabrielle felt more free to get near, give her a hug, a kiss... the problem now was that... she was liking to much of feeling Gabrielle's occasional touches.

She is nice, and sweet and innocent Xena . She told herself. Someday, someday she will go home again, she will find some nice guy and marry him and have lots of children and... just be happy.. And you will be just a memory, maybe less, maybe a bunch of old scrolls in Grandma Gabrielle's shelter . So if you really do lover her you will let her go when she's ready. Just... stop thinking about it too much and... enjoy her company while you still can. Don't screw everything up. She's a kid, she sees you as a friend, and a fried is all you'll ever be to her... so get a grip! She let the words roll on her mind dreamily for a few seconds ... I love her...

In the other side of the camp Gabrielle had settled herself in her own bedroll and was watching Xena's profile. She saw she close her beautiful eyes and try to sleep. But she wasn't sleeping, Gabrielle knew the warrior to well. Even in sleep Xena's face was always twitching. Like she was always paying attention in something, keeping guard of their surroundings or something like that. But when in sleep she looked much more younger. Gabrielle always wondered how old the warrior really was. It was not like Xena to tell her... no... no Xena at all. Or even tell her when her birthday was. She wouldn't like to let her fuss over her, and make a party or something. She would love to... throw a party for her friend, or give her a birthday present but...

There's always a but Gabrielle . She thought to herself. She saw Xena shift. She is thinking hard about something. I mean... I can tell. I mean I watch her all the time. I know when she is sad, or when she is worried, or nervous. Wait a minute! I'm doing again... why do I do that all the time anyway.... keep watching her like... like... like some kind of freak. She felt herself blush again... Xena took a deep breath, her chest going up and down... By the gods! She is so beautiful! I wonder if she knows how much... Humpf Gabrielle, get a grip... of course she knows how beautiful she is... Gabrielle got lost in admiring her friend's strong yet delicate profile. You're doing it again Gabrielle! She called herself out of it. Gods... what is happening to me? She let out a frustrated breath. I'm definitely acting like a... a... then the truth hit her hard on the head like a rock on the head... oh gods... no I'm not.... I can't be... She looked again at Xena's profile and realized ... But I am aren't I? Yes... I'm acting like a love struck teenager around her. Be honest with yourself Gabrielle. It's not a bad case of hero worship, not just a crush on her beauty, not even a misunderstood feeling of friendship. No, I... am... in... love. She told herself very slowly savoring the moment of finally admitting her own feelings for Xena . I'm in love with her, with my best friend. I'm in love with Xena. She saw when Xena's breath was even, falling asleep at least. Gods... I'm doomed! She felt so sad all of sudden. Xena was the most beautiful person she ever, ever saw, and she was kind, and good, and strong, and the best warrior... she would never fall for a farm girl from Podediae.

She likes me as a friend, her best friend. But that's all I am to her... the gods know I'm no Hercules, no Marcus... no Ares... she felt like crying. Love was supposed to make you happy... she remembered reading those love tales and wishing one day to find a love greater and stronger than any other love in the world. One that no mortal had ever shared before. It wasn't a question of how big it was, Gabrielle could feel it was big enough to make her heart ache as if it was about to explode. Not a question about how strong it was, so grasped in its claws she was... It just never occurred to her that when she let this love get inside her heart, she wouldn't be loved back with the same intensity. I'll never tell her. She doesn't need to know. I would dye of embarrassment if she... gods! She rolled herself up facing the stars while the fire started to die. You're just a big full Gabrielle! She told herself ignoring a tear that rolled down her face.

She thought about Perdicus, for the first time since Troy. Now I know how he must have felt when I left him back home. She thought about the boy who always loved her. Always followed her around. Pretty much like she was doing with Xena right now. And she never noticed, she never really cared about his feelings for her. If she only could meet him right now, she would ask her to forgive her... that she never meant to hurt his feelings. She just never felt the same way about him... and that's why she left... to search for her dreams. And she had found it... in that blue gaze... She would say that she was sorry because she knew now how he felt then, because she was feeling exactly the same, in love with someone that would never love her back, the same way she did. Then she said a little prayer to the gods wishing that right now, Perdicus was happier than her, so she could feel a little better and finally let sleep claim her.


Xena woke up before the sunrise as usual. She opened her eyes and let them get used to the low clarity. Not that it was hard, it was quite easy for her to see in the dark. Something her little friend really couldn't do so well. Gabrielle... she thought and then turned her head to the other side of the camp to see the fair head of the bard half hidden under her own sleeping furs. She smiled at the scene. She still is just a kid Xena.... look at her... no worries... no regrets. You just should get her home Xena, she already had some adventures in the time you've been together. She will have tales to tell... and you won't need to worry about her so damn much. She felt a shiver run through her spine remembering that time when she almost got Gabrielle killed traveling through a land in war... What if she'd died? What if she hadn't decide to come back from the Elysian Fields when you called her back Xena? What would you have done? And what will I do if I take her back home and she decides it's a good idea staying with her family? What will I do if she decides to leave again? To leave you for good this time? What will I do?

She shook her head and ran her fingers through her hair trying to put some order to it and stood up pushing away the doubts, the questions. I'll face this problem when the time comes. Now, I just don't want to thing about it. She walked to the fire and put some more wood to burn. Then she put some water to boil to make some tea in a pot. Then she stood up, got cleaned up and crossed the camp one more time and knelt beside the bards bedroll.

“ Gabrielle” she called very softly.

“ Hummm” Gabrielle moaned...

“ Wake up sleepy head” she pushed the fur away from the bards face allowing the firsts rays of sun light to hit the small bards face. “We gotta hit the road soon”.

“ Yeahhh, yeahhh, I know, I know..” she rolled over to face the warrior.

“ Good morning” Xena said with a smile. “Did you sleep well”

“ Since I didn't get enough sleep...” Gabrielle sat on the sleeping fur. “The answer should be no...”

“ Go get yourself cleaned up while I go catch us some breakfast... you look like a mess.” She poked the bard under the ribs and disappeared in the woods.

“ Very funny!” she screamed to the dark forest where her friend had just disappeared to. “Easy for you to say.” she stood up trying to put some order in her hair. “You wake up gorgeous...” she said to herself. She splashed the cold water in her face. “Oh Gods! Ok, ok, I'm awake!!! How does Xena do that without even flinch?” She saw the water already boiling. “Well, let's make some tea while Xena get the breakfast”.

She made the tea and let it near the fire to keep it warm so her warrior friend wouldn't take her tea ice cold. If was before she would take her cup while waiting for Xena but... lately she decided to wait for her. While she waited she started to pack camp. Xena wanted to hit the road early then she thought it was a good idea to get everything more or less packed. She had just finished putting the sleeping furs into their places inside Xena's saddlebags when she heard a faint sound of Xena returning.

“ Didn't take that long...” she commented as the warrior sat next to her in front of the fire.

“ I wasn't feeling like eating fish stew this morning” Xena said putting down some apples and some berries. “I thought we could just eat them with some cheese and bread.”

“ That's good enough for me” Gabrielle replied.

“ But I will need to hunt for something before lunchtime or even dinnertime because we are at least two days away from the nearest town.”

“ Okay.” Gabrielle went to their supplies to get the bread and the cheese. Xena reached out and gave her a cup of tear when she returned. “Thanks”. Then Xena poured another cup to herself. “You could try to hunt something on the way to our next stop, what do you think?”

“ If you stay quiet enough I can try.” Xena said biting a piece of bread and chewing.

“ Xena... I'm not that loud” the warrior just smiled. “I can keep quiet if I need to... and don't smirk at me like that, you know I can.” The bard warned her.

“ Okay, I'll try to get something... just promise me that if a fluffy little rabbit pops out of a bush you won't jump on his defense like you did last time. I almost knocked you over with that rock Gabrielle.”

“ I'm sorry... It's just... I couldn't stand the sight of you killing it. But I'll try not to do that again.”

“ Thank you.” she ruffled the bards hair with affection. “Now finish your breakfast so we can get going.”

“ You too.” Gabrielle pointed at the piece of cheese and bread still in Xena's hand. The warrior smiled and kept eating.

After the breakfast they finished packing the camp and took the road again. After several candle marks walking the sun started to get strong. Xena decided to leave the road and go by the forest to avoid the sun a little and maybe try to catch something to lunch. As usual Gabrielle was chatting about a story that she was writing.

“ What do you think of it Xena? Do you think I should change it?” she asked thinking hard.

“ It's nice Gabrielle” Xena said looking away into the woods.

“ Are you really even listening to what I'm saying?”

“ Yes Gabrielle... I am listening to you.” Xena took a rock and faster than a blink of an eye she killed a rabbit with it. “Gotcha!” she said smiling. Gabrielle just shrugged. She's not listening to your story Gabrielle, why do you bother??? “I think it's funny...” Xena said returning with two rabbits that she tied to Argos sidle bag so she could skin them later.

“ What?!?” Gabrielle asked puzzled.

“ You're story, it's funny... I liked it. You shouldn't change it at all.” And repeated the exacts words Gabrielle had said a few seconds before asking if Xena liked. “That was my favorite part.” finished Xena with a smile.

“ Really?” Gabrielle smiled blushing a little at the praise.

“ Yeah, really.” Said Xena returning the smile. “There's a nice spot a little ahead... we could stop there for lunch what do you think?”

“ Good, I'm starving.” she said with a wink.

“ When you're not starving Gabrielle?” said Xena with a chuckle.

“ Ha ha... very funny Xena.”


So here we are, one more night, one more camp. Xena is.... as always checking the perimeter, while I'm here writing into my diary.. It's been a long week. Lots of bad guys and... and... Gods I'm just can't concentrate. Lucky me Xena never touches my diary. If one day she decides to read it I... I... I don't know what I'm going to do, maybe I'll run, I'll ride... I... I just don't know. Sometimes I think that she should discover, that it would be great and would put an end to this torture. But most of the times I'm so scared that she... Well, why bother, I know she doesn't feel the same...

By the gods, I thought love was supposed to make us happy. Not confused, or sad, or doubtful as I've been feeling. Maybe I'm just wishing more than I can reach, dreaming to high. She is so... so... gods she's just... I can't even begin to describe what she is...

“ She's just perfect Gabrielle.” She said in a whisper to herself. She could hear her mother saying. In the name of all the gods Gabrielle, when love strikes you, it's going to be quite a fall . “She was right... I couldn't fell harder... Gods be damned!” She covered her face with both hands. “Focus!”

“ Having problems?” Xena's voice came from the trees, startling her.

“ Ahhh sort of... I'm a little... I'm having this... block...” She said raising her head and regarding those amazing blue eyes studying her.

“ Maybe you should try to rest a little.” She said smiling. Gods when she smiles... lucky me I'm not standing or my legs would give away. “Tell you something. Tomorrow we get to the town. We can get ourselves a room at the town's inn and you get to sleep in a real bed? How does that sound? And she's so cute when she tries to be totally nice... gods... find you tongue Gabrielle... fast!

“ That sounds terrific Xena, thank you!”

“ Not a problem. Besides you deserve it. It's been a rough couple of weeks.” she ruffled the bards hair. “Now go to sleep.”

“ Sure.” Gabrielle answered dreamily watching Xena go to her own bedroll. “Goodnight Xena.”

“ Goodnight Gabrielle.” Gods, the way she says my name... I'm going insane... Get a grip on yourself Gabrielle... Bad bard, very bad bard!!! Gabrielle cursed herself, putting her writings away and stretching on the bedroll. She was really tired and despite her mind going around her feelings for Xena she couldn't stay awake too long. Soon the warrior heard the bards breath change to a deep rhythm.

She finally slept . Thought Xena. Her bardic friend was acting a lot stranger lately and she couldn't stop imagining that maybe the reason was exactly the same one that she herself was acting differently. It was hard for her to fall asleep too. So many things in her head. She promised herself that she wouldn't give her heart again. She swore she wouldn't fall in love. Open herself up to the risk of having her heart and soul ripped apart like she had in the past.

But Gabrielle... that noisy kid that looked up to her. That decided to believe, in all her innocence, that she was some kind of hero. How was she supposed to know that those trusty green eyes were more dangerous to her heart that all the seductive smiles she ever faced? She should have known. Because the love reflected in those eyes were true and there's nothing more dangerous than keep close to you someone whom loves you truly. Specially someone as Gabrielle. Day after day Xena saw herself giving in the affection for the kid. Reciprocating the smiles, the hugs. Opening herself up, her heart to the bard.

She tried to convince herself that she was juts caring for the kid. It was just a way of feeling a little human. She reminds me of Lyceus, she said trying to convince herself that there was no harm in warming up for the little blond. Then... they crossed a land in war and she almost lost Gabrielle... She swallowed hard the lump in her throat. When the bard came back from the dead, when she felt her breathing again it was like... she felt like laughing and crying all at once. She wanted nothing more than hold Gabrielle in her arms and never ever let her go. It was so strong she couldn't explain it then. And she still was trying to understand this link she felt with her.

She remembered staying up all that night, just watching Gabrielle's chest rise and fall. Hypnotized by her breathing. She remembered sitting on the floor next to her and watch her in silence for a long time and being happy that her friend was there alive. She tried to promise herself that she would talk Gabrielle out of this dangerous life, she promised herself that she would convince the bard to go back to the Academy in Athens. She couldn't risk her life like that. She already had the guilty of her brother's death to live with. She wouldn't live with the guilty of Gabrielle's too. Even though she knew how would hurt to send the bard away. She got hurt when she left the other times. And she wasn't even aware of her own feelings for Gabrielle. Now that she couldn't deny it anymore, it would certainly hurt much more. But she could take the pain, could take the loneliness and the dark. But she couldn't live in a world where the light of those green eyes were no longer shining.

What if she feels the same way about me? She mused. What if...??? No... It's no possible. She tried to shake the thought. Is it? Well... it wouldn't be the first time someone fell for those baby blues... stop that immediately Xena! You're no good for her and you know it. She told herself. After Thessaly she didn't said a word to Gabrielle. She didn't told the girl to go away to the Academy, she didn't take her back home. She pretty just let her be and kept going, enjoying her company praying to all the gods that nothing bad happened to the bard and secretly wishing Gabrielle never left her again. But that was hard to admit even to herself.

What am I going to do if she feels the same? She asked herself turning her head to face the sleep bard. Can we just, keep being friends? Can you not act on it Xena? The excitement of the conquest she always cherished so much. It was a kind of battle too, wasn't it? Win someone else's heart without letting them have yours. And she loved to win. But that wasn't the case anymore. She never tried to conquest or enchant Gabrielle, the girl already came to her with a bad case of hero worshiping. She just acted as her usual self...

She watched Gabrielle smile in her dreams and sighed. No, wasn't the case anymore. It was worse. How am I gonna be able to stop myself of act on it if that's exactly what my heart wants? Only two things kept her from act on it until now, first she was afraid that Gabrielle didn't feel the same way and second she was sure that Gabrielle shouldn't share her path, that the life that she was living wasn't the right path for the bard.

She was deep lost in thought but her senses were too sharp to miss the faint sound of footsteps approaching. Careless footsteps she shrugged. These morons never learn? She kept her eyes closed and waited for the stupid invader to approach. She felt the person pass through her bedroll and walk to Gabrielle's. Heavy footsteps, a man... definitely a man Xena thought. She felt a jolt of electricity run over her body feeling the menace getting closer to her Gabrielle. She stood up and went after the shadowed figure silently, like a wild animal she hit the man hard on the face with her right fist. The figure fell, scrambled and stood up again turning around to face her. Then, almost unconsciously she released a powerful kick and... stopped millimeters before her foot hit the target.

“ Hello Perdicus!” she said with a amused smile recognizing the young man.

Gabrielle woke up with the noise, she barely saw Xena move and punch some guy right in the face... she stood up as fast as she could. She was going to grab her staff when she heard the name.

“ Not the smartest way to pay us a visit.” said Xena with a smirk putting her leg back on the floor.

“ Perdicus!” said Gabrielle surprised throwing her arms around the man's neck and giving him a hug. Xena kept washing the exchange with a faint curiosity. Then the bard hold him at arms length. Perdicus then took her hands into his bigger ones.

“ I just had to see something.” he said looking to the bard.

“ What?” Gabrielle asked.

“ Your face!” he said. “I haven't stopped thinking about you since the last time I saw you. Gabrielle we've always been close. You're my closest friend....” he stammered. “ And well...” he got down on his knees still holding her hands. “Gabrielle... will you be my wife?

Gabrielle got speechless... What??? she thought. Be his wife??? What in the Hades is he talking about? Where in the Hades is his mind?? I... I... oh shit!!! she cast a glance over her right shoulder just to see an astonished Xena watching their linked hands... “I... I...” she tried to find her words, to say something.

“ I'll...” Xena cleared her throat. “I... I... will... just let you talk in private...” she said and left.

“ Xena... I...” Gabrielle took her hands back and said in almost a whisper... Then she turned back and faced the knelled man before her... “Come on sit by the fire... so we can talk, okay?” she said with a faint smile. He stood up and followed her. She cast a glance all over the camp looking for Xena but she was nowhere to be found. Damn it all to Hades! What she must been thinking? Where did she went? She sat near the fire and Perdicus sat beside her but she kept looking around...

“ Are you okay Gabrielle?” He asked concerned.

“ Yeah, yeah... I'm fine...” She smiled back at him. “So... What have you been doing since you left Troy?” She asked, more to break the silence than anything else.

“ Fighting. It's all I've been doing it seems.” He faced the fire and she looked at him for the fist time this night paying attention to his voice. And feeling his pain. “After Troy I... wandered into another war... one day I killed three men.” he made a pause. “I started to have dreams about all the men whose lives I'd taken. I couldn't stand it.” Gabrielle felt sorry for him... but then again her mind drift over to Xena... How many lives she'd taken too... He didn't live this warrior life as long as Xena did and he can't stand it anymore. I wonder how heavy is Xena's burden. “One night...” he kept on saying. “ I had my dagger at my heart... then I saw something...” He paused.

“ What?” she asked.

“ Your face.” she looked up to her.

“ Perdicus... I don't know if I'm really who you think I am... I mean, I fight!” she said in a gentle tone looking at him. Wasn't I just thinking about him the other day? How sorry I am for never being able to love him back?

“ But you never killed. I know that!” she faced her fully. “Gabrielle... we would've be married once and you've decided that that wasn't to be.” she wanted to say something but he stopped her. “ And you were right, you were right...” Gods please, make him stop, I don't want to hurt his feelings... How do I make him understand if I can't understand myself?? “I wasn't ready either. But I am now.” Please don't say what I think you're going to say, please gods, please... “ I love you...” Gods.... he said it! What am I supposed to say? What am I going to do? “And if you take me... I want you to be my wife.” Gods, gods! That's it, it's official I'm doomed!

“ I' sorry... I... just excuse-me? Okay?” she stammered then stood up, turned around and went to the other side of the camp leaving a confuse Perdicus behind. Hades Xena where are you??? She thought about dug herself into the woods after the warrior but then she saw the tall dark figure entering the camp with hesitant feet. “Xena...” she said with relief reaching out a hand and grabbing the warrior's hand... not sure of what to say she just looked at her friend's deep blue eyes trying to decipher the feelings behind them. “Hi...”

“ Hi.” Xena said looking at Gabrielle. “ Did you guys already talked?” she asked shyly spotting Perdicus still sat near the fire.

“ Yeah... I mean.... I guess...” she whispered. Xena walked ti her own bedroll and Gabrielle followed her.

“ Good, I'm glad.” The warrior said with a smile.

“ You... you are?” she mumbled.

“ Yeah, sure.” She sat on the bedroll and started to get prepared to sleep, once again. “Hey we can share the sleeping fur and the covers... so Perdicus can get some rest too.

“ Yeah... yeah... sure... I... of course.” She was trying to wrap her mind around what Xena had said.. Did she just said she was glad Perdicus had just proposed to her??? Did she??? No... she didn't, she couldn't... she... Damn... you didn't even told her yet Gabrielle! You piece of...

“ Hey Perdicus!” Xena yelled. “You can sleep near the fire...”

“ Ah... thanks Xena... I...”

“ We better get some rest... it's late already..” stated Xena laying on the sleeping fur.

“ Sure, sure...” he said still puzzled settling to sleep. Gabrielle followed Xena's lead and set herself beside the warrior.

“ Xena...” she said after a while.

“ Yes Gabrielle?”

“ Perdicus just proposed me.” she said in a whisper.

“ Yeah??” she asked in a tiny voice.

“ Yeah...” the bard released a soft breath. “It was so strange... I... I... wasn't expecting...”

“ He still love's you Gabrielle.” wasn't a question.

“ Yeah, I thing he does.” she said reflexively.

“ Did you give him any answer yet?”

“ No... no, I didn't...”

“ Okay.”

“ Aren't you going to ask me what my answer is Xena?”

“ No Gabrielle I won't” Why should I ask you that my friend? Just to hear sooner than later that you are going to leave me again? Get a grip on yourself Xena, you knew that this day would come didn't you? “You're entitled to have your own opinion and make your own choices...” fast Xena completed trying to hide her own feelings.

“ You think so?” Are you telling me that I'm on my own on this one Xena? That you don't care? Or that you just think that it's better for me to be with Perdicus because of the danger? Gods... I just wish I could read you mind Xena... “You're not just trying to send me back home as always, are you Xena?” she asked gathering her courage.

“ No Gabrielle... thought I do think this road life is not for you... I can't make you stay someplace safe... I know better than that.” She said turning her head and facing the bard with a smirk. “But I want you to understand that I will be by your side whatever choice you make. And I trust you can make your own choices.”

“ T- Thanks Xena... I... It means a lot to me... your trust.”

“ You're welcome Gabrielle. Good night...”

“ Good night Xena.”

But none of them could get some sleep.... Perdicus proposal really had capt Gabrielle by surprise. But that wasn't bothering Gabrielle so much... she was much more concerned with her friend's reaction. At first Xena looked as astonished as her... then it was like... she knew it all along. Her head was in a turmoil... her heart was aching. She was dead scared... What were you thinking about Gabrielle? Did you just thought that she would wake up one day and find out that she was deadly in love with you? Just like you are with her? She looked to Xena, the warrior looked asleep. Gods, she is so beautiful. Forget about it Gabrielle, she would never fell for you .. Perdicus on the other hand... was in love with her. As he always had been... Some things never change.

She always had been a dreamer. She always wanted to live adventures, to do things... to meet someone like Xena and... yeah... to fall in love with this someone. Just like the tales she invented. But in her dreams her warrior loved her back. And somewhere along the way they would find out that they were more than two lovers... they would find out they were two soul mates. She let out a concerned breath. But... you didn't fall back in love with me Xena... Yeah... You're just a fool Gabrielle. Maybe there's no such a thing of soul mates, of destiny... Maybe I'm just a fool, maybe I'm just trying to reach too high. Wishing more than my hands can ever achieve...

Xena couldn't sleep either... when Perdicus showed up she never could imagine that he was going to do what he just did. Propose married to Gabrielle. Of course she knew that the boy loved the bard. But... act like that, was certainly a surprise. But, what was really bothering her was that.... Gabrielle didn't say no... she didn't give an affirmative or a negative answer. She was probably thinking about accept it. Xena get a firm hold on her own body to stop it from twitching... She could feel Gabrielle still awake lying there beside her.

She didn't know even what to think about... She was angry, but... mostly she was sad. A deep sadness that was threatening to overwhelm her. She tried to think about the next day. The road they should take to get to the near town faster. But she couldn't concentrate. Her mind would go back to Gabrielle. And she felt the night engulf her in its darkness. That's exactly what's going to happen... the darkness will consume you without her light to guide you.. Xena swallowed hard, she felt like crying, feeling more lonely that she ever felt in her entire life. That's it Xena... you were so happy a couple of days ago... happy just to hold her near. Now you're facing the dark knowledge how empty your life is going to be without her. Just accept it warrior, when you embraced this life you knew happiness was not a possibility anymore. Not for you. You should have learned that by now. You should have learned when your brother died and your mother turned her back on you... no more friendship, no more family, no more love for you Warrior Princess.

She just couldn't stand the feeling... she just sat on the bedroll startling Gabrielle.

“ Xena... what happened?” Did you hear something?” the bard asked...

“ No... it was nothing Gabrielle.” she looked the green eyes so close to her. “I just... I remembered something... go back to sleep... I'll be right back, don't worry.” she said standing and walking away into the darkness.

Gabrielle felt strange. Like something was just aching inside her in a place so deep she couldn't locate precisely. She just watched the tall warrior disappear


To be continued...


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