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Xena sat in silence in a corner of the camp doing her usual camp chores while dinner was cooking bu the fire. Perdicus sat near Gabrielle and was talking to her with a big smile on his face while Joxer was gathering more wood... for the night he said... whatever Xena thought... she wasn't in a good mood anyway. She tried to focus on her task and don't think about the conversation near by.
Gabrielle was keeping an eye on dinner and listening to all Perdicus was saying, but her mind was focused on the tall dark warrior taking care of her armor in a far away corner of the camp.
“Gabrielle? Did you hear what a said?” Perdicus asked.
“Um... I... sorry... my mind is... looks like my head is really somewhere else.” she said lowering her head a little and unconsciously giving in her hearts desire and letting her eyes wander to where Xena was.
“Yeah...” His eyes followed Gabrielle's and watching silently the warrior. Then returning to Gabrielle's face. “I can tell...”
“What did you said?” Gabrielle really got lost in the sight for a few moments but then with a heavy sigh she tried to focus her attention on what Perdicus was telling her.
“Gabrielle... listen to me... I... really have something to tell you...” he took her hands gently.
“I'm listening.” she said casting a glance into Xena's way again and resisting the wish of take her hands away from his gasp. Why am I doing this?? Didn't I just agree to marry him?
“I... told you before I knew that you don't feel about me the same way I do about you... but... I didn't knew then that you had given your heart to someone else...” he said looking over to where Xena was still dealing with her armor. Gabrielle blushed badly at his words and avoided his gaze.
“What are you saying?” she started, she was ready to deny but...
“You don't have to deny it Gabrielle.” he was almost whispering. “I didn't notice at first but... since I arrived and... since I asked you to marry me you've been ac ting different and I saw the way you were talking to each other when Joxer and I came back with dinner tonight...” he stopped. " I saw the way she looked at you and... and just now I saw the way you looked at her. The way you always look at her... and it's the same lovesick look that I have on my face when I look at you..."
“It's not that... at all...” she tried to speak but she was having some problems in finding the right words. Specially because she knew that he was telling the truth. “Xena and I are...” What?? What indeed Gabrielle?? “... we're friends...” she stammered.
“You love her.” he just stated.
"Of course I do... she's my best friend... she's my family.” he smiled. “But, it's not like... it's not what you're thinking... it's not!”
“I should have known when you left...” he smile. “I do realize now that, you must have had a strong reason for leaving that way. Running away in the middle of the night. Without even saying goodbye...” she wanted to say something but he stopped her. “I understand Gabrielle, believe me... I really do. She is...” he looked at Xena again. “She's beautiful, and she has a good heart too... I can tell. Even with that hard face she puts on... even going through everything she went in her life she managed not to loose the goodness of her heart and the kindness of her soul... and the courage to keep fighting for those who can't fight for themselves... just because that's the right thing to do.”
“Yeah...” Gabrielle smiled dreamily. “She is all that... and... so much more. I just wish she could see it sometimes... she suffers so much for the things she'd done in the past...” then she turned to face him and blushed again when she noticed that he caught her daydreaming. “But... we are just friends Perdicus... Xena and I... really. I mean... she would never... you know. She never... I'm just like a sister to her, she told that herself just the other day.” She was babbling. “She always took great care of me and saved my life so many times I lost count, and she always puts up with me and I know that sometimes I must drive her insane with so many questions, or worried sick when I get myself into some kind of trouble and then she needs to rescue me and... and... Well, she respects me.” she finished awkwardly.
“She doesn't know how you feel, does she?”
“No, she doesn't...” she finally admitted. “I'm sorry... I... I'm sorry I don't feel that way for you... I never meant to hurt your feelings. You are a dear friend and I wish I could... love you that way but...”
“We don't choose who we'll gonna fall in love with right?”
“We're both hopeless...” he chuckled “We both fell for someone who is in love with someone else.” she smiled back.
“Yeah... must be something with the water back home.” both laughed. “But at least your love isn't as impossible as mine.”
“What do you mean?”
“I've been thinking... maybe we could still...”
“You still wanna marry me?” he asked incredulous. She just nodded. “Why?”
“Because I know Xena will never feel for me the way I feel for her. And maybe... with the time you could help me forget her and... we could be happy together.”
“And, how so you know that? She doesn't even know Gabrielle... How can you be so sure?”
“Because I know her...”
“Gabrielle... nothing, and I mean it, nothing would make me happier than have you as my wife. I love you with all my heart. But I know you and... I know you would never forget Xena and I will never be able to make you love me as much as you seem to love her and... that way... none of us would be happy. Somethings are just meant to be you know?” she lowered her eyes. “I remember once, before you leave, you told me that if you decided that Potediae were too small for your dreams you would just look for them somewhere else and... would make them come true.”
“Yeah I remember too... but maybe I was being to naïve.”
“That's how you are Gabrielle. That's who you are. You're a dreamer! And you should not stop dreaming... even though you think that... you're dreaming to high.” he smiled. “And... perhaps... who knows... perhaps you're not and all you need to do is... reach out and grab your dream Gabrielle... like you did when you left home.”
Xena started to cleaning her sword and knifes... Joxer entered the camp, arms full of wood and put them near the fire.
“Hey Gabrielle, I think the dinner's almost done.” he said.
“Yeah... I think so...” she left Perdicus still sat on the log and knelt beside Joxer and checked the food. “Xena, the dinner's ready!” She called. The warrior didn't answer. “Xena...”
“I heard you...” she put her weapons away and stood up. “But I'm not hungry... you can eat I... I'm... going... going to check on Argo.”
“Didn't you do that already?” Gabrielle asked moving closer to the warrior and taking her hand she tried to pull Xena to near the fire. “And you haven't eat all day... and you fight those guys, and helped with the hurt people... you must be hungry. Besides I know that's one of you favorites.” she pointed the food. But Xena resisted the pull and tried to disengaged her hand from Gabrielle's.
“Yeah... all very true.” Xena made an effort and smiled, but the bard kept a strong hold on those fingers. “But I'm not really hungry.”
“Are you okay?” she searched the warrior's very blue eyes.
“Yeah, I'm fine... don't worry with me. Go eat and rest... and... go talk to Perdicus I'm sure you have lots of things to plan.” the last bit sounded a little bitter than the warrior had intended. And Gabrielle... suddenly had this strong feeling ache inside of her. And it was followed by an idea that almost made her heart stop. Is she jealous? Maybe... am I making this up or... Upo're been acting different since yesterday Xena... Then Perdicus words just sounded in the back of her mind... “And... perhaps... who knows... perhaps you're not and all you need to do is... reach out and grab your dream Gabrielle... like you did when you left home.”
“No... I... I don't believe you. You're not alright... tell me what's going on.” she insisted.
“There's nothing going on Gabrielle. I'm just not hungry and... and... I think I need sometime to think... alone.” That's it Xena you just said it.
“I... I understand.” No I don't. “Something is bothering you.” Is it what I'm thinking? Is my marrying Perdicus that is bothering you Xena? “And... you don't want to tell me what it is...” she lowered her eyes. “I... understand... you can't trust me with everything anymore since I won't be around soon...”
Oh Gods... now she thinks I don't trust her. Damn it! “It's not that Gabrielle... I do trust you... I trust you with my life, you know that.”
“Then tell me what's going on, what's bothering you...” she said very softly still holding Xena's hand.
“Nothing... there's nothing bothering me Gabrielle, really.”
I'll let it be by now Xena... but this conversation is not over. “Okay...then... then... humor me and eat something... I cooked it this way specially because I know that's how you like it.” She said with a warm smile that melted Xena's heart and this time she didn't resist the pull.”
“All right... if you insist.”
“I do.” Gabrielle's smile grew bigger and both sat near the fire on the opposite side of Joxer and Perdicus. Joxer started a conversation with Perdicus. Xena started to eat in silence and Gabrielle did the same, but while Xena kept her eyes to her boll Gabrielle took her time to observe her best friend. She could feel that something wasn't right, her heart was telling her that there was a sadness in Xena's deep blue eyes but her mind couldn't dare to believe that she was the cause of that sadness.
“That's very good Gabrielle.” Xena said to break the silence noticing the bard's eyes on her.
“Thank you.” Xena finished her boll, placed it near the fire and stood up moving away. “Where are you going?” the bard asked with concern.
“I really need to check on Argo.” she added with a smile trying to convince Gabrielle.Please believe me my friend, I really need sometime alone.
“Gabrielle swallowed a lump in her throat. “You won't be long though... will you?”
“No, I'll be right back.” She watched the tall warrior disappear into the darkness. The lump in her throat getting bigger. Joxer finished his dinner and decided to have some sleep.
“Hei, Gabrielle?” she heard Perdicus' voice. “Where did Xena go?”
“She said she was going to check on Argo.” she answered with a small smile.
“Don't you think you should go after her and... tell her... something.”
“S-So... Something?” she stammered. “What do you mean?” she stared at the fire.
“Yes. Because looks like there is... looks like Xena is bothered. Don't you think?”
“Yeah... it looks like... she is...”
“Well, I'm going to sleep and... since she is already checking on Argo... I think someone should check... on... Xena.” Gabrielle blushed badly as he stood and walked away. Her first wish is to run after Xena and... and... she wasn't sure what she would do then but... all her heart wished right now was do exactly what she did the day she met Xena outside her hometown... follow her. And since that was what her heart wanted to do... she placed her boll in the floor next to the log, stood up and rushed after Xena.
She walked for a few time and saw Argo combing the golden mare. As always the warrior was so careful with the animal. She couldn't keep walking for a while she just needed to stay there, in the dark, just watching her. Look at her Gabrielle, she has a really good heart. She takes care of Argo, of you... she cares so much about everyone. I just wished she could see herself through my eyes once in a while.
“Hei Girl...” Xena spoke in a low voice. “How was your day hum? I hope it was better than mine.” the mare made a sound and Xena just smiled. “Yeah... I know what you mean.” she left a small breath scape. “Yeah girl... looks like it's going to be just you and me again pretty soon.” the mare left out another sound. “Yeah, I'm sorry... I know that you had a bad start. But I know that right now you like her too right?” another small sound. “No... not as much as I do... the gods know but... we knew this day would come didn't we? It was just a matter of time... and now the time has come and... Gabrielle is leaving us.”
“No I'm not...” Gabrielle heard herself say before she had time to think properly.” Xena turned a little startled... she was so distracted with her thoughts that she didn't heard the bard coming. “I'm... not...” the bard said again stepping closer.
“Gabrielle?” What are you doing here? What did you just said? The questions were popping in her head. “What... are you doing here? You should be...”
“I know... I know...” Gabrielle cut her speech. “It's just I... sensed that there was something bothering you... and you wouldn't tell me what it was... so I decided to come after you and...” she didn't know what else to say but she felt that Xena wasn't going to say a thing so she kept going. “ … and I also needed to tell you that... I decided that... I won't marry Perdicus. So... I'm not leaving... so... I'm sorry to ruin your plans, but it won't be just you and Argo... you won't get rid of me so easy Xena.” she gave the warrior a small and embarrassed smile. Xena walked to where the bard was standing and looked at her.
“Gabrielle, if you're saying this... if you're acting like this just because you are worried about me... I already told you and I'm telling you again... I can assure you that I am completely able to take care of myself.”
“It's not that...” she took one more step forward near the warrior. “I mean, of course I worry about you... I...”I love you! She wanted to scream the feeling out loud but... she felt she would just make a fool of herself. How can I not worry about you? “... How can I not worry about you?” Xena opened her mouth to speak again but the bard placed her fingertips over the warrior's lips. “But it's not... just... that...” she removed her hand slowly, fixing her eyes into the deep blue ones that were so close to hers now. “ I love Perdicus...” she saw Xena flinch at the words “ but... not the same way he loves me.”
“You're saying that... you're not in love with him?” the warrior asked tentatively.
“I... no... I never been in love with him. I left because I didn't want to marry him. Don't you remember that?” Xena just lowered her gaze.
“Of course I remember. It's... just... I thought that... maybe after Troy... you had... I don't know... maybe, seen other side of him.”
“Yeah... I did but... He is just a dear friend, Xena. He is part of my life, my story, my childhood... and of course I care a lot about him but... I'm not in love with him.” Xena had to fight the urge to take the bard in her arms and scream in happiness. She doesn't love him! She doesn't love him!
“So, I'm not marrying him. I don't think I should marry him just because I feel connected with him because of our history together... or because I feel sorry for him.” she paused staring at Xena hoping she was able to understand what she was trying to say, trying to tell her. “ Because he lost his courage to fight...”
“I... understand Gabrielle... but...” Xena started but just to be cut again by the bard.
“You do?” Gabrielle asked. “Do you understand then that I choose to leave my town and live this life? The life we have?”We?? Like in you and me Gabrielle?“I talked to Perdicus and he understood. I have my dreams you know? And I'm not ready to give them up just yet.” she smiled shyly.
“And what are your dreams Gabrielle?” she reached out her hand and moved Gabrielle's blond hair out of her green eyes.
“I... I... I...” she stammered. “ I want to be a great bard Xena...” she smiled and the warrior instinctively smiled back at her. “... and a great warrior... like you... I... I... want to be just like you Xena.”
“You already is a great bard Gabrielle.” she said sounding sincere, her hand grasping the bard's shoulder. “And... I already told you that, but... I'm going to tell you again... I'm no hero, you shouldn't want be like me.”
“But I do.” she said tenderly and took hold of the hand resting on her shoulder. “I know you don't see yourself like that. But you are an incredible person, you are good and kind, you're honest and put your life in danger to save other.” Xena tried to deny. “Don't say I'm wrong Xena. Because I'm not. I just wish you could see yourself through my eyes sometimes Xena.”
“You think you see those things in me because you see good in everything Gabrielle.” she touched Gabrielle's face with the other hand. “And that's only because you are innocent and pure and your heart is good.”
“No it's just the truth.” both women get caught in a strong wave of emotion. “So... you better forget about all about this... being just you and Argo... we're together... you and I and... and that's definitive.” Xena couldn't avoid a small smile to scape her lips.
“You know... I worry about you too Gabrielle and I thought that you wanted a family... a home...”
“I do.” Gabrielle smiled up to the warrior. “It's one of my dreams too you know... to fall in love with someone, have this someone to fall back in love with me and... then... have a home and a family.” she gathered her courage. It's now or never Gabrielle. “But it's not... Perdicus is not... the one I'm in love with.”That's it... you said it Gabrielle!
What?? Did she said what I heard... she is actually in love with someone else than Perdicus? “Oh...right.” Xena really didn't want to know that. She was so happy that Gabrielle decided to stay. But it was not because of you... Gods be damned Xena you fool... what the hell were you thinking?
“So...” Gabrielle continued. “That's why I couldn't leave with Perdicus Xena...” Gabrielle moved even closer to the warrior.
“Yeah...” Xena lowered her eyes finding something very interesting on the floor. Gabrielle saw that Xena wasn't understanding what she was trying to say, she saw that she needed to be more clear. It's now or never Gabrielle... tell her.
“So you do understand why I can't marry Perdicus?”
“Yes Gabrielle I understand why you can't marry him.”
“I just can't marry him because I'm in love with... someone else.”
“Really? I... well...I had the feeling... ” Xena kept avoiding the bards eyes. She was trying to imagine who was this person .
“I... I... really couldn't leave.”
“Gabrielle... If... if you found someone that you really love...” Xena let the words trail without knowing exactly what else to say.
“Yes I did.” Gabrielle cut her off.
“I... just want you to be happy and safe Gabrielle. I just hope it's a good person.”
“Yes...” she took a deep breath and reached out her hands and hold Xena's face lifting it up, green eyes meting blue ones. “I think I'm lucky, because I fell in love with the most amazing, the most wonderful person in the world.” Xena was mesmerized by that green eyes. She tried to find the right words. By the gods woman, she's telling you how much she loves someone else and all you can think about is how beautiful her eyes are? You're hopeless.
“I hope you're right Gabrielle and... this person is this good.” Because if it's not I really can grab my sword and... and... But Gabrielle's hands still were holding her face and she gave Xena one of those smiles that could melt an entire mountain of ice.
“That's why I can't leave, you know?” she said still smiling. “I know that I left before... but... I won't do it again because... I can't leave you...”Don't you understand what I'm saying Xena?
What does this have to do with anything? Xena though, unable to think clear with Gabrielle's hands keeping her captive. “What are you saying Gabrielle?” she asked letting sea green eyes hold her gaze.
“Xena, you are the most intelligent person I have ever known.” Gabrielle said with a small frown. “But sometimes you can be so thick that... it really makes me crazy!” she let out a small breath. “What I'm trying, without much success to tell you...” she kept looking in those blue eyes the whole time. “ It's that...” Oh gods I'm so scared. What if I'm wrong??? I don't wanna loose her friendship, I couldn't bare it!, Her hands started to shake...
“Gabrielle?” Xena saw the tremors and looked concerned.
“Please let me finish... If I don't say what's on my mind right now... I may never gather the courage to do it again...” the bard said with urgency.
“Alright.” then Xena did as the bard and hold her face between the much larger hands. “Then tell me.” she ordered with the sweetest tone she could muster.
“What I am trying to tell you is that...” she filled her lungs with air and thought. It's now or never Gabrielle. “ I love you Xena!”
The warrior let out a sad smile. “I love you too Gabrielle, you're my best friend.”
“No, Xena... you didn't understand what I'm saying... It's you!” Xena looked at her completely confuse right now. “You are the one I'm in love with.” the bard said in a rush afraid that the warrior wouldn't let her finish.
“Gabrielle...you're confuse, maybe you're just messing up the feelings...” Xena started but was cut off by the bard again.
“No Xena... you listen to me... I do know what I'm saying. I'm not messing up the feelings. I love you Xena.” And there was only one way she could imagine to prove those words to the warrior. She got even closer and kissed Xena hoping that her kiss could express all her words couldn't.
Gabrielle's words just had turned the world upside down, Xena was still trying to process the information. Still trying to use her rational mind to do the right thing. After all it was no good to Gabrielle to fall in love with a ex-warlord like her. First, it was dangerous, she still had lots of enemies, like Callisto, that would love to hurt the bard to get to Xena. Second, she really didn't deserve to be loved by someone as innocent, as pure as Gabrielle... she was getting ready to do a speech to convince the bard that she was not in love with her when that kiss caught her by surprise and... her own lips betrayed her when she kissed Gabrielle back, and her hands, with life of its own took hold of the bard getting her even closer.
Gods is she really kissing me back? Gabrielle's mind couldn't process what was happening, her hands moved from Xena's face and she throw her arms around her neck and felt when Xena held her closer and deepened the kiss.
Someone gotta be responsible here Xena her conscience screamed to her and she broke the kiss, and held Gabrielle at arms length... “Gabrielle... I... I...” she tried to start but the words didn't come out.Gods be damned I used to command thousands of men and it was so easy...now why is it so hard? Tell her she is wrong, she's not in love with you, that she is too young and... and... make her believe in you. She looked up to Gabrielle and the bard was with her eyes closed, her forehead resting against Xena's. But... you don't really want her to believe do you Xena?
“I know what you're gonna say...” Gabrielle opened her eyes and started. “But... I do know what I'm feeling Xena... I just... I really, really needed to tell you... to tell you how I feel... I've been feeling it for so long...” Gabrielle blinked and then looked back up to the warrior. “It's not just a crush, it's not a hero worshiping thing that will pass... It's love... I know it.” It was hard to start but now Gabrielle couldn't stop the words from coming out. “ I needed to tell you, even knowing that I was risking loosing your friendship, even thinking that maybe you didn't feel the same way about me... but... after this kiss I dare to think that... maybe you... you feel a little like I do... and... I know that you could never fall head over heels in love for someone like me, not you that lived so much and saw so much... I'm just a village girl who talks too much that one day started to follow you around... but... I just... wanted you to know... and if you love me just... a tiny bit I...” she stopped talking looking into the blue eyes in front of her and saw a smirk on the warrior's face. “What?”
“Oh you're so wrong Gabrielle. You are so much more than that to me.” Xena touched her face with her fingertips while the other hand still was holding her close. “I never, ever wanted this for you... to fall in love with someone like me...” Gabrielle tried to speak but Xena stopped her. “But... I can't hide my feeling any longer... and I can't let you go away again. I know now that some things are meant to be... you don't choose with who you're gonna fall in love with right?”
“Right.” She smiled. “There's so much I wanted to tell you but... now it seems I can't find the words.” Xena smiled back. “I know... I supposed to be a bard and all...” both chuckled.
“Well, I'm not much for words myself...” the warrior said getting serious. “But just to be totally clear on the matter... I feel exactly the same about you. I love you too Gabrielle.” and this time she kissed Gabrielle's lips trying to express what her words couldn't.
This ain't happening... I'm dreaming, I'm definitely dreaming. She love's me! She actually said the words. She kissed me back! God's don't let this be just a dream. But if I'm dreaming I never want to wake up.
“I... must say that for someone that is not much for words...” Gabrielle said breathlessly when Xena stopped the kiss. “You use them very well.”
"I... have many skills!"
To Be Continued in part 4
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