THE BETWEEN THE LINES SERIES
(or what happened between the episodes)
For Disclaimers, see "Looking for Trouble"
2.22 The Object of My Affection
Second Season Finale
(post "A Comedy of Eros")
Draco: "Wait! Give me the girls and Gabrielle -- or I will torch the place and everyone inside it."
X: 'You would kill the woman you love?"
D: "The question is -- would you?"
-- A Comedy of Eros
My breath is coming hard and fast, fogging the night air. I'm panting in fact, riding high on a wave of incredible pleasure, as she touches me in the nicest of ways. I arch into her and bury my face against her shoulder, muffling my cries, curling myself around her as my climax rises with unexpected force.
She continues to play me, stroking me, rubbing my back and holding me close, riding it out with me. I can't speak just yet and she knows this. I feel her lips, soft and gentle against my neck, and vaguely hear her shushing me. Her voice is a soothing balm, washing over me and anchoring me to our bedroll. Our mingled scent drifts up around me, and I just hold onto her, her body warm and solid against mine, her skin as petal-soft as silk.
I find her lips and linger there, paying homage to her, thanking her wordlessly for the gift of her love. I still can't believe how far we've come together, where the journey has led us, and how much the girl from Potadeia has come to mean to me.
"You need more?" Her voice drifts over me and I laugh, then flop back on our bedroll, pulling her body against mine and tugging the furs up over us to ward off the chill. I glance over at the fire, grateful I built it up to bonfire proportions before I succumbed to her charms. I've no inclination to get up anytime soon.
"No. You've tamed the beast, my love, utterly and completely." I kiss her forehead and my hand wanders down, rubbing her back. "You?"
"Gods, no!" She releases a long shaking breath. "I think it's finally out of my system."
" 'It'? Don't you mean 'Joxer'?" I give her a little slap on the behind and receive a poke in the ribs in return.
"Uggh." She crawls up and hovers over me, pressing a finger against my lips. "Shhhhh. Don't ruin what we just shared. Besides, you have no room to talk, Draco-lover." She frowns and tilts her head, and I see the question coming long before she finally asks it. "Did you? With Draco? Not that I would hold it against you. I mean, you were under godly influence and all. I just --"
It's my turn to press a finger to her lips. "No." I see the surprise in her eyes, and she kisses my finger.
"Really?" I nod. "I just thought, you being the lusty woman you are, and him being a warrior with no scruples --"
"Hey! Lusty?" I huff in mock indignation. "Give me a little more credit than that, my bard. Even at the height of Bliss' spell, I knew who I belonged to."
"Oh." Her smile is relieved and she ducks her head, pecking me on the lips. "That's sweet, Xena. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside."
"Heh. Kind of like your outside." I ruffle her head and catch her hand, as she tries to poke me again.
"I am NOT fuzzy!" She scowls at me and I tickle her, feeling her laughter as she falls against me, her body shaking as I continue to tease her. "Oh, Xena! Pleeaassse! I can't take it. Please, not now. I don't have the energy for it." Her voice drops to a pleading whisper and I relent, and go back to rubbing her back, this time with both hands.
She slumps against me as I massage the muscles along her spine, and I hear a few whimpers of satisfied contentment. "Better?" I press her earlobe between my lips and flick it once with my tongue, before releasing it.
"Oh, gods, that feels good." She nuzzles my shoulder and I chuckle, continuing with the firm touches that make her go even more limp than she already was.
"You sure you're not up for one more round?" I nibble at her neck and she pinches my side in answer. "No?" I feel her shake her head. "Okay." I laugh lightly. I knew the answer before I asked, and truthfully, I'm not up for it either. I just like to play with her sometimes after we make love. This is one of those times. I have an absolutely evil thought and I grin, then brush my lips against her ear. "Did you and Joxer? Hmmmmm? A little hot monkey love?"
"Monkey love?!" She shoots straight up, bracing her weight on her forearms on either side of my head. "No! Ick! Xena, how could you even think that? I can't even imagine --" She wrinkles her nose in obvious disgust. "I should spank you for that." I raise one coy eyebrow at her and she laughs. "Oh, you!" She playfully slugs my arm, so softly I barely feel it.
"That could be fun," I purr. "It was a fair question. You did ask me about Draco, first."
"True." She smiles sheepishly, a light blush coloring her cheeks. "But at least Draco is a manly man. Joxer? Please. Xena, if he and I were the last two people on earth, the human race would die out. I'm just saying."
"Really? Even if he were the very last one?" I squeeze a butt cheek, making her squirm.
"Cut it out!" She laughs helplessly, reaching behind herself and grabbing my hand, dragging it around and between us, capturing it between our stomachs. "Even if." She leans closer, her face so close to mine that my eyes almost cross trying to focus. "I have much, much better taste than that, don't you think?" She kisses me. "Hmmmm?"
I smile, acknowledging her compliment. "Mmmm." I kiss her in return. "Maybe. But not nearly as good of taste as I have." I roll her over and she laughs giddily, settling back into the furs as I cradle her in one arm. Our eyes meet in mutual renewed passion, and I know I'm glowing. She certainly is. This time is going to be slow and sweet, not fevered like our earlier encounter.
I laugh and duck my head, sampling her lips, my free hand already wandering over her body. I rise up and ease myself over her, slipping my knee between her legs, then lower myself, brushing my skin all along the length of her. I feel her arch against me and then she wraps her arms and legs around me, as I go back to kissing her. This time it's about us -- not relieving pent-up lust for Joxer or Draco -- just us. "I love you, Gabrielle."
She murmurs something halfway intelligible, that I understand to be return affection. Then we get lost in each other for a long while, as the fire burns down to red hot coals, and the moon rises, illuminating our clearing in ethereal light. It's a joining of hearts and souls, here under the stars, in an age-old dance that is at once comforting and energizing. I know her body like my own now, and she knows me equally well. There is no more shyness between us in this, and I revel in a moment of pure and intense joy, my heart so light it threatens to float away over the treetops.
Much later, I'm holding her while she sleeps, completely sated and relaxed against me. I lift long pale locks, watching that same moonlight paint the strands silver and gold, as I sift them through my fingers. On this night I find her impossibly more beautiful than ever, shaking my head in wonder all over again at the surrealness of our joined and very naked bodies.
If anyone had told me, when I tugged that kid up on the back of Argo, that this is where the path would lead us, I'd have dropped her like a hot potato and run from Amphipolis as fast as I could. It's a blessing of the gods that we don't have the ability to know the future. I could never have foreseen all the twists and turns in the road that led us to this place in time.
Sleep escapes me as yet, and I think about that kid, musing at each of those twists and turns --
A wide-eyed girl, bravely talking down my entire village, saving my life and stealing my heart at the same time.
Waking up the next morning and spying that same girl across the fire from me, knowing even then that I could never send her away.
The pride in her voice as she told me of besting Morpheus, and me realizing how far she'd come, in such a short time.
Mourning Marcus, and acting like a complete ass toward her. Pulling her up on Argo after she hurt herself, and finding comfort in the most unexpected places - the circle of her arms around me as we rode together. Picking out a silly blue hair ribbon and looking at it, wondering how it came to be in my hand. Giving it to her, her shy wonder and smile a soothing balm to my aching heart.
Knocking her across a jail cell in a blind rage, and watching her run away and thinking I'd driven away the only true friend I'd ever had. My own surprise and renewed hope when miracle of miracles, she not only came back, she forgave me and wanted to defend me.
Following Hercules up a mountain with a sword strapped to my back, thinking I'd never see her again, and knowing both our hearts were breaking. Comforting her during the nightmares she had afterward, and feeling her hand curl around my arm as she fell asleep, not daring to sleep myself for fear of missing that one, sweet moment.
Freeing Celesta, and holding Gabrielle while she cried over a boy she barely knew, not knowing how to comfort her, but feeling her pain as if it were my own.
The pride in her eyes as she named me her champion, and the pride that welled up in my own chest as I stood for the challenge. Knowing afterward that something had fundamentally changed between us -- the traditions of an ancient sisterhood now binding us together forever.
Her cleverness as she snuck into the prison with me and the Black Wolves, bringing me my much-needed whip and chakram.
Trying on boots she bought for me and sitting together in a quiet moment afterward, her head on my shoulder not for comfort, but just because.
Revealing my relationship with Helen, afraid she'd find it repulsive. My complete surprise when she not only understood, it was obvious it was no big deal to her. Her kissing my hand when she thought I was asleep, leaving me wondering if there might be hope for us, somewhere way down the path.
Letting her go to follow her dreams to the Academy, and curling up in a cave, crying my eyes out at the empty place she left behind. The joy in my heart when she came back to me -- so overcome with happiness I could barely speak.
Seeing the change in Princess Diana, knowing it was all due to Gabrielle's influence, and realizing for the first time, that Gabrielle was now fully capable of taking care of herself. Dancing close with her at Diana's wedding, knowing I was falling helplessly in love. Carrying her to our chambers afterward and the sweet torture of falling asleep with her in my arms.
Swimming back from the depths of Tartarus, hoping and praying that the only person who mattered to me in the living world was still waiting for me at the surface. Her comforting me and an accidental kiss that left my lips tingling for hours afterward.
My heart breaking again, as I watched her walk away, home to Potadeia and a family that had not bothered once to come after her. Holding her after she came back and comforting her as she cried. Sharing one chaste, not-so-accidental kiss, and aching to make love with her.
A cave full of nutbread crumbs, and a bard under the influence, professing truths she'd never dared to express while sober, and making my heart well up with hope. Holding hands while we counted stars, me making silent wishes on every last one of them.
Getting a dose of reality at the end of a pitchfork, knowing how much courage it took for her to hit me, and realizing with sudden clarity that she is my family now, not a father long dead to me.
Almost dying in a barn, and watching her step up to a challenge bigger than both of us, shoving aside her own growing grief, and finding strength and skill inside herself to forge forward on behalf of strangers who counted on us both. Hearing her stand up to a man twice her size to fulfill a promise, and finding my own strength to live, wrapped up in her devotion and courage. Later holding her and kissing her senseless, stopping just short of crossing a line neither of us were ready to cross. Telling her I loved her and no longer hiding exactly what I mean when I say that.
Her dying in my arms, and a sense of loss that threatened to bring me to my knees. Hearing her gasp for air and my own heart beating double time, as its other half came back to life.
Foolishly trying to fight the inevitable, pushing her further and further away, and making us both miserable in the process.
Sharing with her the shame of giving away my own son, and finding at the end of a difficult path, nothing but acceptance.
Understanding for the first time that I ended up in Potadeia at precisely the right time -- that by some miracle of the Fates, I had made a profound difference in her life, and despite myself, had rescued her from an alternative future of miserable existence. Realizing for the first time that maybe, just maybe, we really are meant to be together.
Standing alone in a window on a stormy night, knowing I was going to take sides against a friend -- feeling her hand curl around mine and realizing I was no longer alone.
A bite on my neck that made me desire things I believed I had no right to want. Trying once again to push her away. Hearing her sobs through thin inn walls, knowing I was the cause of her pain, and my own heart breaking, right along with her.
Standing up at her wedding, kissing her lips for what I thought was the last time, and watching her walk out the door with him, taking all my reasons for living with her. Crying like a baby, knowing I'd let the love of my life slip away because of my own damned fear.
Watching her husband die in her arms, my own guilt almost crushing me, knowing he died, really, because of me, and knowing that on a very deep and shameful level, I wasn't sorry he was gone. Comforting her in her loss, and hearing her confessions, realizing how much we both sacrificed in an attempt to run from the truth. Finally, finally, admitting our feelings for each other, no more questions between us.
The hopelessness of being trapped inside a body I feared she could never love, and knowing I deserved it for letting Callisto die.
The wonder of getting my body back, and a special time in a cave -- all my senses heightened, both of us knowing where we were going. Undressing her for the first time and the overwhelming sensation of our first skin on skin contact. Getting lost in her, loving her, hoping it was everything gentle and special that she deserved. My surprise when she loved me equally in return. Holding her afterward in a moment of complete peace, wondering why something that felt so right took us so damned long.
The giddiness of new love found, laughing and playing with her like a child, and loving her every chance I got.
Dying in confusion, and coming back to life in her arms. Hearing her pain as she walked back down that mountain, fearing she would harm herself before I could find my way back to her. Knowing her from the inside out and understanding on a new level the depth of both her courage and her love. My absolute pride in the beautiful young woman she's become.
Making a difficult choice in order to save both her and the Amazons, hoping she could forgive me, fearing she would hate me. Watching her deal with Callisto with absolute dignity, even as that bitch did her best to peel away Gabrielle's defenses.
Dancing with her for the first time since Diana's wedding, at a village festival. Understanding that our relationship is fundamentally based in trust. Telling her my life is nothing without her, and making her cry.
Fighting and making up, more than once, and overwhelming relief when we realized we could fight and make up.
Losing my sight and fearing I'd never see her again, and much worse, fearing I'd have to leave her in order to protect her.
Facing the Horde and becoming a monster, and in my blind fear, ordering her to walk down that dark path with me. Watching her defy me to follow her own code, while continuing, impossibly, to love me with no strings attached. Hearing her tell me I'm her responsibility, and thinking it was the most amazing thing I'd ever heard.
Making an impossible leap, propelled by a love greater than any fear or doubt, knowing that life without her would mean no life at all. Finding a way back home and off that ship, simply because she believed I could.
Getting hit by Bliss' arrows and laughing inside, as I realized not even the power of the gods could make me forget the true object of my affection, or separate me from a love that now runs bone deep inside of me.
It's been an amazing journey so far, and I shake my head in wonder all over again at this incredible young woman who, against all reason, has chosen to spend her life with me. It's a gift I know I don't deserve.
I hug her close and close my eyes. If I've learned anything on this crazy journey, it's that you never know what might be lurking around the next corner. A wave of protectiveness washes over me, and I kiss the top of her head. She murmurs in her sleep and her arm tightens around my middle. It's a contented murmur. It's nice, and I hear myself echo her. I quit fighting sleep, and float away with her, wrapped up in this one moment of pure happiness.
Next in the BTL series - Who's Your Daddy? (post "The Furies")