See Part I for disclaimers:
The next couple of days flew by. Gabrielle steeled herself for the huge emotional effort of placing Xena's ashes in the family tomb. She knew she would need to do this soon, but she quite frankly didn't have the energy. So instead she sat on the front of Virgil's porch trying to relive the good times she and Xena had shared. Gabrielle reminicsed of the fun they'd had and adventures they'd shared. Of course there were bad times, even some awful times, but Gabrielle focused on good memories, as they would need to last her the rest of her life. As she sat and looked over their life together, Gabrielle began to wonder why they had never found what she believed Eve and Terrais had. The two seemed happy. They communicated well and enjoyed each other's company. Xena and Gabrielle had had that, but there had always been one thing missing: physical intimacy. Eve seemed to be very in tune with Terrais, very affectionate, touching her, not in a sexual manner, but in a loving manner. Terrais was still recovering from her injuries, but she was doing quite well. Gabrielle had wanted intimacy with Xena. To be quite honest, Gabrielle wanted unadulterated, passionate lust along with the love that they shared. It just never seemed to come to light. Was it her? Was she not attractive enough? She knew that Xena had had female lovers, so why not her?
Eve, on the other hand, watched Gabrielle closely. Gabrielle seemed to be in a world of her own. Not necessarily painful, just reflective. She knew that Gabrielle was missing her mother terribly, but didn't quite know what to do or say to help. Only time would aid in Gabrielle's recovery. Eve believed it was best to have everyone go to the Amazon village. She knew Gabrielle still had friends there and it would be the best place for Terrais to recover. Terrais was progressing steadily, it was like she was a brand new person. There was something about Terrais that bothered Eve though, something inside the woman. It was an odd feeling, a feeling that Terrais was angry and holding back. Even though Terrais claimed to be fine, Eve could tell she was still struggling over the attack. Eve tried everything to get to Terrais, including being more physically attentive, making contact with her often. It seemed to help.
On Gabrielle's third day, Terrais decided it was time to venture outside. She knew Eve had gone into town to purchase supplies for their two-day trip to the Amazons. Terrais had no idea where Gabrielle had gone. So as not to embarrass herself, she took this opportunity to try and get up. Terrais had always been an independent person and required little, if no, help from anyone. She didn't want to start now. She knew she needed to build her strength for the trip to her home village. Once at full strength, she would seek her revenge on the men that had attacked them. She would ensure those evil men would never hurt her or anyone she cared for again.
While Terrais had been injured, she had slept in only her undergarments. Now it was time to dress. She didn't like wearing the skimpy clothes that most women wore in her village, however, she didn't mind the sight of them. Instead, she wore brown leather pants and a tan, loose-fitting long sleeve shirt. In the hot summer months, she would switch to a sleeveless shirt. She was comfortable in these clothes. Though only five foot four inches, she was exceptionally muscular, but still had a womanly figure. She just preferred not showing it to everyone. Her thoughts naturally drifted to Gabrielle. Now, she had a body. Terrais sat on the edge of the bed remembering Gabrielle in her red velvet top and very short skirt. She had not missed the impressive dragon tattoo that covered most of Gabrielle's back. She wondered why she had it, but did not dare to ask. Until now, they had barely carried any kind of conversation. Gabrielle seemed uneasy around her. She didn't understand why, although Gabrielle must still be mourning over Xena. Eve told Terrais that Xena had been gone for about six months. Even so, Terrais hoped that Gabrielle would be able to open up to her.
Terrais stepped out on the front porch, reveling in the bright sun light of midday. She took a deep breath, which caused her still-bruised ribs to remind her once again of the attack. As she walked, she also realized she had a badly bruised left knee, which did not allow her to move without a noticeable limp. But Terrais was determined to get some exercise and find a creek to bathe. She didn't know how Eve could stand her so dirty, and she was certain she couldn't stand herself another minute.
Gabrielle decided that she was ready to take Xena's ashes to the family tomb. Eve offered to go with her, but Gabrielle felt she needed to do this by herself. As she approached the tomb, she remembered back to the first week after she had met Xena and had followed her to the tomb where Xena was talking to her brother, Lyceus. That day seemed like a lifetime ago. Gabrielle took a deep breath and entered the tomb, feeling the cold grip her.
Terrais felt so much better after a dip in the creek. She decided, though tired, that she could go a little further. She knew that they would be leaving tomorrow and that she needed to get out and walk. The day was too beautiful to waste lying in bed. Besides, the exercise would do her good.
Gabrielle stood in front of Lyceus' tomb and recalled her discussion with Xena long ago, that Xena did have family. That Gabrielle would be her family. Gabrielle still felt that she was Xena's family, not by blood perhaps, but by something even deeper, even thicker than blood. Gods how she missed her. Gabrielle placed the urn on top of Lyceus' tomb and looked for a way to secure it. Gabrielle's tears slowly slid down her cheeks as she prepared a safe spot where the urn could rest.
Terrais walked up the path from the creek, and turned in the opposite direction from the house. In front of her she noticed a mausoleum of some kind, a family tomb. When Terrais and Eve had come to Amphipolis, they had not had time to tour the village, so Terrais was unsure of where she was. She felt some sense of familiarity, drawing her to peer inside. As she approached the door she could hear soft crying. After a few seconds, she realized it was Gabrielle. Terrais realized that this must be Xena's family's resting place. She was torn between entering and leaving Gabrielle in peace. She stood just outside of the entrance for a while, trying to decide what she should do.
Gabrielle found a small casing of stone and rock and built a protective covering for the urn. She had already made a covering with a label to mark the urn. She didn't want to put Xena's name on the covering, but instead placed an inscription, a poem that Xena had given Gabrielle for her birthday. She made a place for the urn, next to Lyceus' tomb, bent down on her knees, and willed herself to give up the one thing she still had, Xena's ashes. Gabrielle was engrossed in her work and the struggle and didn't notice someone watching her from just outside the opening.
Terrais stood quietly watching Gabrielle. Her heart went out to Gabrielle, knowing it must be difficult to turn loose the love of your life. Even though Terrais had not spoken with Gabrielle concerning her relationship with Xena, Eve had shared enough during their travels, that Terrais knew they were close, assuming they were lovers as well as best friends. Terrais hated to see her in pain, and wanted to make retribution for Gabrielle. Terrais could see Gabrielle was struggling, crying openly now. Yet Gabrielle managed to find her voice, "Xena. It's time I let you go. We have seen each other through so much. So much death. I believed I had lost you before, and was blessed to get you back, but not this time. I must let you go. I don't know how I'm going to go on without you. I feel so alone and empty. I hurt inside." Gabrielle sat down and put her head in her hands, calming herself so she could go on. "I feel so alone here. At least I have Eve. And Xena, I think she has found someone. Someone who seems to have an inner strength like yours." Gabrielle paused and then resumed her one-sided conversation, "Her name is Terrais. She's cute, and has the same brilliant blue eyes as you. I think she makes Eve happy."
Terrais began to hyperventilate as she heard Gabrielle's statements. What made Gabrielle think they were in an intimate relationship? Sure she had had feelings early on for Eve, but she and Eve had come to a clear understanding. Eve was not attracted to women and Terrais was. Terrais was okay with that, Eve had been the first woman that she admitted being attracted to. She couldn't believe it had taken so long to come to the realization, since she had grown up exclusively around women. Through her travels and many acquaintances, she had clearly come to the conclusion that men were not for her. Her dreams were of settling down with a female companion. But she knew it wasn't Eve. After she and Eve had discussed Terrais' attraction, she admitted that Eve wasn't the one. At the moment she wasn't sure she would ever get close enough to find the one, not with as much anger as she still had inside after the beating and near rape. Returning to reality, she realized she needed to correct this misconception of Gabrielle's, about herself and Eve.
Gabrielle sat quietly for a few moments, collecting her thoughts. She had said what she wanted to say and couldn't think of any more. As she stood, she felt a presence behind her. Then she noticed another presence, a stronger, more dangerous presence. Gabrielle slowly reached for her sais. She no longer carried Xena's sword or the katana, only her sais and Xena's chakram. She whirled around to face two figures. One safer than the other. First she looked to Terrais, "You should move to the side, I think we have a visitor."
Terrais knew instinctively that it was a strong male force. A man in black leather appeared, between herself and Gabrielle, from a shimmer of light. He was broad and tall, menacing looking, with his back to her. He appeared tense and sad. Terrais stepped inside the tomb, making eye contact with Gabrielle. Terrais was without weapons, but she knew she could put up a fight if she had too. Her injuries were taking a back seat to the protective instinct that she was feeling for Gabrielle.
"Now, now, dear, don't worry, I'm not here to hurt Gabrielle, I think she is doing a fine job on her own," the man said to Terrais, without turning to address her. He stood staring at Gabrielle, looking her up and down, as she stood in a ready stance. Terrais didn't like the way he looked at her, his eyes proprietary and predatory. He approached Gabrielle, slowly circling her. Gabrielle continued to stand ready, but relaxed slightly.
"Ares, what do you want? I really am not in the mood for your games." Gabrielle lowered her sais and put them back in place. Terrais relaxed, wondering if this was really Ares, the God of War. It had to be. He had appeared out of thin air and resembled the statues appearing around Greece. Terrais knew that Xena and Gabrielle, as well as Eve, had ties with the great God of War, but Terrais was still surprised to see him "pop in."
"I came to pay my respects." He walked closer to Gabrielle, stepping behind her, and placing his hands on her shoulders, "I miss her too, you know." He spoke softly, carefully. Terrais eyed him, silently questioning his sincerity.
"Ares, somewhere, deep down you may miss her. But, you know, I just don't want to deal with you right now. I need to walk away from this." Gabrielle shrugged her shoulders, and Ares removed his hands. As Terrais watched the interaction, she felt an unfamiliar feeling, something akin to jealousy. What right did she have to be jealous of anything Gabrielle did. Terrais tried to shake the feeling, with difficulty.
" I'll leave you for now, but know this, I will be watching you closely. I have interest in you and the company that you've been keeping of late," Ares finally looked at Terrais, acknowledging her for the first time, "and I want to make sure my little warrior fares well." Ares patted Gabrielle on the ass and promptly vanished.
Gabrielle was taken back by Ares' action and didn't quite know how to react. She stood there, staring into space, wondering what just happened. Then she realized Terrais was watching her intently. Gabrielle opened her mouth to speak, then closed it. She just didn't know what to say.
"Are you okay?" Terrais started walking slowly towards Gabrielle.
"I'm not sure. I don't know what he wants." Gabrielle faced the stone that now housed Xena's ashes. The ashes were undisturbed, sitting in the stone casing. "Yeah, I think I'm okay. I just need to get out of here." Gabrielle walked towards the entrance. When she reached the opening, she turned to glance at Terrais. She felt a familiarity engulf her, a feeling of home. She looked into the captivating blue eyes, briefly feeling something she couldn't quite define. She had always hidden her feelings of attraction and didn't know what to do with this sudden warmth washing over her.
As quickly as Gabrielle felt it, she moved away. She couldn't handle further complication, not right now. Gabrielle looked away from Terrais and then stepped out of the tomb, waiting for Terrais to follow.
Terrais looked at the stone protection surrounding the urn. Terrais read the inscription, realizing that it was a love poem that probably one of them had written for the other. She read it one more time and then turned and left the tomb, thinking what a lucky woman Xena had been to share her life, however short, with this wonderfully beautiful and strong woman. She hoped that someday she might find someone like Gabrielle to share her life.
Throughout the day Gabrielle, Eve and Terrais were physically apart, but constantly on each other's mind. Terrais shared with Eve the events at the tomb and that Gabrielle thought that she and Eve were together. Eve respected Terrais' request to let Terrais tell Gabrielle the truth. Eve could tell that Terrais was attracted to Gabrielle. Maybe it was subconscious, but Eve knew Terrais was feeling something for Gabrielle. The awkwardness, the long glances. Eve was skeptical, however, because Gabrielle had been so closed off emotionally.
Night approached and they took time to pack and rest for the next day. They would begin traveling as soon as light came. Virgil had come home that evening and allowed the women to use one of his horses to travel to Amazon land. Terrais was not ready yet to ride alone, so she would trail behind Eve. The trip would still take more than a day, with the three needing to camp along the way.
Gabrielle lay on her back, boots and weapons at her side, within reach, looking up at the ceiling. Her emotions were intense, yet unclear. She was saddened that she had let Xena's urn go, but felt some kind of closure. Then there was Ares and Aphrodite. What was going on to cause both gods to visit her within a few days of each other? Neither had really shared anything other than their sadness over Xena's death. Then there were her feelings for Terrais. It was unnerving and getting stronger. She would catch herself looking at Terrais, wondering how she felt and what she was thinking. Her physical prowess was something Gabrielle couldn't help but notice. She tried not to compare Terrais to Xena, but since Xena had been the only woman in her life for so many years, it was difficult not to. Terrais was much shorter than Xena. However, Terrais' physical strength, for her size, matched that of the warrior. Their hair was a strong contrast, Xena's long, black and straight, to Terrais' shoulder-length, light brown, with waives at the end. Their eyes though, were so similar, the same cobalt blue, shining with life and causing emotional and physical reactions that Gabrielle could not explain. But, what was she thinking? Terrais belonged to Eve, and Gabrielle didn't know how to interpret the feelings she was having. She couldn't deny, however, that she was drawn to Terrais. Some unseen force was drawing her to Terrais, to get to know her. Her body was unambiguous. She had laid many nights next to Xena, believing her body could not possibly handle any more tension. This feeling had returned, with a vengeance.
Terrais lay in the other room, quietly contemplating her growing physical attraction to Gabrielle. She knew, logically that she should not be feeling this strongly about someone she barely knew. Eve had told her many stories about Gabrielle and Xena. Now she had a face to put with the stories she had heard. And gods, did she have a body. Even though she had acknowledged her attraction to women, sexual intimacy was something she had yet to experience, and her body was reminding her of this, on this particular evening. Her heart was beating faster than normal, her arms and legs were twitching, unable to relax the sexual tension in her body. She wished she knew how to rid herself of it and relax. She knew that sleep would be difficult tonight.
Sleep came too slowly and morning too quickly, and it was time to travel. The three women loaded up their belongings and began their ride out of Amphipolis. Gabrielle rode slightly ahead of Eve and Terrais, lost in her thoughts and silently bidding goodbye as they passed the family tomb. Gabrielle knew that she would be back one day, when it was her time to join her soul-mate in the unknown realm.
They traveled peacefully through the beautiful countryside, commenting intermittently about the scenery. They road slowly, letting the horses set the pace. Eve guided her horse, with Terrais trailing behind. Off and on Terrais would doze, still recovering from her horrible ordeal. Gabrielle turned around periodically to smile as Terrais leaned against Eve's back as they made their way down the road.
A couple of hours passed and Terrais began to stir. She looked around, initially confused, and then decided it was time delay this trip just long enough to eat, "Hey." Terrais squeezed Eve's side and sat up.
"Hey, yourself. Did you sleep okay?" Eve turned her head to glance at Terrais. Terrais looked much better after yesterday's trek. Getting out had done her some good. Her color was returning and the bruises on her body were all but gone. The only remaining indications of Terrais' injuries were from her left knee and the bruised ribs.
"Yeah, I didn't realize I was as tired as I am. I didn't sleep well last night." Terrais stretched, trying to work the kinks out of her body. She looked up ahead and saw Gabrielle riding elegantly on her horse. She could see the play of muscles in Gabrielle's back and thighs as she moved along with her horse. Terrais continued to think about Gabrielle's thighs and wondered how they would feel wrapped around her, holding her as they kissed. Terrais became lost in her fantasy and didn't hear Eve speak to her.
"Hey, Terrais are you with me?" Eve patted Terrais on the leg to get her attention.
"What, huh? Oh, I'm sorry Eve, what were you saying?" Terrais tried to shake the images from her mind, images of Gabrielle, lying naked beneath her, her thighs gripping her hips.
"I said, are you getting hungry. It's after midday and I think it would be a good time to stop." Eve smiled, wondering what was distracting Terrais so.
"Yeah, I am getting kind of hungry. How about Gabrielle?" Terrais again looked ahead.
"Gabrielle." Eve called out to Gabrielle to see if she was ready to stop and have something to eat.
The three ate their meal, discussing the events in Greece and Rome since Gabrielle had been in Japa. All sad, depressing topics were avoided. Gabrielle did bring up Ares' visit and the three discussed the possible purposes, other than Gabrielle's connection to Xena. After a leisurely lunch, they decided it was time to continue the ride.
Eve decided it was time to push these two a little further, "Hey Terrais, would you mind riding with Gabrielle for a while, my back is stiff from being used as a human pillow?" Eve turned and walked toward her horse.
Terrais turned and looked at Eve, her mouth hanging open. After the previous thoughts Terrais had about Gabrielle's thighs, she didn't know stand to ride behind that beautiful bare back. "I'm sure Gabrielle doesn't want me drooling all over her back when I fall a sleep again." That sentence had not come out the way she had planned.
Gabrielle coughed out the water she was drinking from the water skin, but recovered quickly, "No, really you can ride with me, I don't mind." Gabrielle's body thrilled at the thought of Terrais pressed against her back.
"Are you sure?" Terrais looked trapped and Eve was enjoying the stammering.
"Yeah, I'm sure. Come on." Gabrielle got on her horse and waited for Terrais.
"Okay." Terrais turned and looked at Eve, who gave her a sickeningly sweet smile. Terrais knew that Eve had set her up and Eve seemed quite proud of herself..
The three started down the path, moving quietly through the forest and across the land. Terrais lightly held onto Gabrielle's sides, hoping not to give away her quickening pulse and sweaty palms from being so close to her. Terrais tried to relax and carry a conversation with this woman who completely captivated her mind. They began with mundane topics and then Terrais asked Gabrielle questions about the Amazons of the past, how Gabrielle had become queen, what Terrais, her name sake, had been like. The discussion continued for quite some time, increasing comfortable between the two. Eve rode behind, smiling broadly the entire time, as the women in front of her got to know one another. There seemed to be a connection that was almost palpable. Eve wasn't sure what would happen in the future, but the present looked promising.
After nearly two hours of conversation, a comfortable silence fell between them. Terrais again was feeling the effects of her injuries and getting tired. She so desperately wanted to stay awake and enjoy this physical closeness, but soon she was drifting in and out of sleep. Gabrielle noticed the change in her breathing and loosening of her hold. She couldn't help but chuckle, remembering when she would ride behind Xena in the early days, falling asleep almost immediately. That was before she bore the responsibilities of a warrior. Now, she was always alert, looking for danger. How things had changed over the years.
As Terrais fell into a deeper sleep, she began to dream. She saw images of Gabrielle, younger, with longer hair, obviously very ill. She had looked so helpless. Terrais felt an uneasiness, like she wasn't doing enough to help Gabrielle with whatever was wrong. Gabrielle was telling her she couldn't leave, she had to stay and fight, even if it meant Gabrielle's death. Terrais was heart sick, she felt like she was failing her love, her life. Gabrielle felt Terrais tense, gripping her tighter. She knew Terrais was dreaming, but of what, she was not sure. She could hear and feel Terrais' breathing come in shorter, quicker gasps, and then Terrais relaxed as if the danger had passed.
Following the images of Gabrielle, ill and almost dying, came images of a bath, with she and Gabrielle washing each other's hair. Gabrielle was again younger with long blonde hair, and absolutely gorgeous. Terrais could feel the strands of hair fall through her fingers as she gently washed it for her lover. Their closeness was tension-filled. It was as if Terrais was holding back her feelings, not letting Gabrielle know her desires. All she could do was look at Gabrielle from afar, wanting her, but never believing she could have her.
Gabrielle could tell Terrais was still dreaming, but obviously not the frightening dream from before. Terrais was running small patterns on Gabrielle's abdomen, softly touching her. This elicited indescribable sensations. Warmth began to engulf her and run between her legs. Gabrielle's breathing became ragged as she chastised herself for feeling this way about Xena's daughter's lover. How could she? Had she lost all sense of reason? But this touch felt wonderful and wanted. As Terrais' hand moved toward her right breast, she knew she had to put a stop to it, and yet not frighten Terrais, "Terrais," Gabrielle whispered as she patted her leg, "It's time to wake up." Gabrielle shook her right leg slightly, and Terrais began to stir.
Terrais did not want to be awakened from the wonderful dream, but could hear the voice calling for her. As she awakened, she realized two things which greatly disturbed her. One, she realized her right hand was just underneath Gabrielle's right breast and two, she had developed wetness between her thighs that was now very uncomfortable. Terrais became sick to her stomach as she recalled where her dream was taking her and realized she was acting it out in real life. She abruptly moved her hand and sat straight up, nearly falling off the horse. "Uh . . . um, I'm sorry, I must have been dreaming." Terrais stuttered as trying to think of something to say.
"No, you're alright. I just didn't want you to fall off the horse." Good one, Gabrielle, she thought to herself.
An uncomfortable silence came over both of them as the trio continued to travel toward Amazon country. Terrais was looking forward to seeing her old friends and hearing what had happened after the Battle of Helicon. Gabrielle had described the intense battle and the tragic loss of so many warriors on the beach and in the camp. Gabrielle had told Terrais of Varia, one of Terrais' childhood friends. Terrais, in turn, recounted the story of the death of Varia's sister. Terrais and her adopted family had been away when the attack occurred. Her family had been left intact. Varia, however, was devastated, she was never quite the same. Varia even lived with Terrais and her mother until Varia became Marga's second-in-command of the entire village. Varia, then, had grown ruthless and cold, seeking revenge on anyone who stood in the Amazon's path. Terrais still loved Varia, as a true friend should, and couldn't wait to see her.
Towards dusk they decided to stop for the evening. After setting up camp, gathering fire wood, and catching their food, the three of them sat peacefully around the fire for dinner. Eve and Terrais sat on one side of the fire, with Gabrielle on the other. Silence still hung inhe air, but it was less uncomfortable. Terrais had recovered from her dream and Gabrielle seemed to be deep in thought. At times, Gabrielle would almost seem to be in physical pain, though she was not injured. Terrais tried not to stare openly at Gabrielle, instead steeling glances at her from the corner of her eye.
Finally, Eve had had enough of the quiet and decided to instigate a conversation, "So, Terrais, I bet you'll be glad to see your friends, especially Varia." Eve continued to chew on her bread from dinner.
"Yes, I have missed them. I don't think I realized how much until we decided to return. And after hearing Gabrielle's story about Helicon, I really want to get back and see what is left of my tribe." Terrais set her plate down and bent her knees to rest her elbows on them.
"I'm sorry that you probably have lost a lot of your friends. It was such a wasteful battle," Gabrielle whispered, continuing to apologize for things that she had been a party to in the past. But, Terrais knew that, in fact, everyone probably would have died if it hadn't been for Xena and Gabrielle.
"I wish you would stop apologizing. I know you and Xena, even Varia, did what you needed to do and made the best decisions possible in that impossible situation. I am just glad that some of you are still alive. I have a lot of catching up to do with Varia, she was, is, my best friend." Terrais leaned back on the log behind her.
"I'm sure you are also excited to tell her about you and Eve." Gabrielle propped herself up on one elbow to continue the conversation.
Terrais looked at Eve and thought to herself, ĪDamn, I knew there was something we forgot to fix.' Eve looked at Terrais, thinking the same thing. "Wait Gabrielle, there seems to be a misunderstanding that Terrais and I forgot to fix yesterday." Eve sat up straighter, preparing herself for this conversation. It was understandable that Gabrielle would think they were lovers. They were affectionate, caring and close. And Eve knew that Terrais was a good catch, but it just wasn't there. They were not soul-mates. Eve looked directly at Gabrielle, "Gabrielle, Terrais and I are not lovers. We are friends and we love one another, but we are not like you and mother were."
Terrais knew that she should participate in this conversation, "Eve and I have developed a close friendship, and initially, I will admit, I was very attracted to Eve. But this was at the same time I was realizing my attraction to women, in general. Eve just happened to be the first person I shared this revelation with. After we discussed my feelings, and hers we decided this infatuation was more likely a result of finally admitting my life's calling. I love Eve, but not in that way."
Gabrielle sat in silence, not knowing what to say. She had been certain Terrais and Eve were lovers by the way they interacted and cared for each other. Several times Gabrielle started to speak, but couldn't. She realized that Eve had said that they were not like her and Xena. Eve thought that Gabrielle and Xena were lovers, "Oh, wait. Eve, your mother and I were not lovers. Our relationship never went down that path," Gabrielle said wistfully.
Eve looked first at Gabrielle and then Terrais. Eve had also been convinced that her mother and Gabrielle were lovers. This evening was turning up many surprises. "I'm sorry Gabrielle, after all of those years, the stories, the rumors, I just assumed you and mother were partners."
"Xena and I were partners, we just never took our relationship to that level." Gabrielle stood and started pacing the campsite. "I'm sorry I assumed that about the two of you. Usually I'm pretty intuitive about these things, but I guess I am just not with it lately. My perception is so off." Gabrielle continued to pace, seeming upset about the misunderstanding, both of them, actually.
Terrais continued to watch Gabrielle, not understanding why she was so upset. "Gabrielle, really, it's okay. It was a simple misunderstanding. I'm flattered, Eve is a great woman. I'm just glad that she's my friend." Terrais smiled down at Eve and then returned her attention to Gabrielle. Terrais stepped toward Gabrielle, and Gabrielle backed out of the camp.
"You know, I think I'm going to take a walk. I'll be back in a little while." Gabrielle abruptly turned and left the campsite.
Terrais stood still, not understanding what had just happened and Eve was so shocked she didn't move before Gabrielle exited the campsite. Terrais looked at Eve, and decided she should follow Gabrielle. She didn't like this miscommunication. Eve replied, "Terrais, no, you need to let her have some time. I'm not sure what is bothering her. Quite frankly, I'm not sure she knows what is bothering her. Nevertheless, she needs time alone." Eve stood and touched Terrais on the arm, making sure she had made her point.
"Alright, I'll wait, but if she takes too long, I'm going after her." Terrais stepped away from Eve and went to her bedroll to try and relax. Terrais had not expected this. Was Gabrielle reacting to the news that Terrais and Eve were not lovers, or that Eve thought that she and Xena were? If Xena and Gabrielle had not been in an intimate relationship, did that mean that Gabrielle was not attracted to women? Eve had told Terrais that she was sure that Xena had female lovers, at least one, La Mao. The only conclusion Terrais could draw was that Gabrielle didn't know what to do with Terrais liking females. She seemed okay when she thought Eve and Terrais were together, but now that she knew that was not true, Gabrielle seemed unable to cope.
Terrais continued to sit, staring into the fire while Eve prepared herself for bed. Eve was just as surprised by Gabrielle's behavior, but she knew that sleep should be the priority. Gabrielle would figure out whatever was bothering her, sooner or later. "Terrais, I'm going to get a little sleep. You should do the same. Gabrielle will be fine. She'll come back soon." Eve placed her bedroll away from the fire and covered herself up. She watched Terrais for a few moments, then decided to go to sleep, "Goodnight, Terrais."
"Goodnight, Eve. I'll lay down soon." Terrais sat in front of the fire waiting for Gabrielle to return.
Gabrielle walked along a path from their campsite, deeper into the woods. She needed time to think. These revelations were taking a toll on her, knowing she had wanted to be Xena's lover, wishing Xena had taken that next step, realizing Terrais and Eve were not lovers, and then having to dispel the assumption that she and Xena had, indeed, not been intimate. Why was this bothering her so? It shouldn't matter whether Eve and Terrais were lovers. It shouldn't matter what others thought of her relationship with Xena. But it did. She just didn't understand why.
As Gabrielle continued to walk, she realized that Ares was watching her from some unknown vantage point, "Ares, come out. I don't need you spying on me." Gabrielle stopped and waited for Ares to make his appearance.
"Oh, Gabrielle, I can't believe you can't figure this one out. Even I can see what the problem is." Ares appeared behind Gabrielle, wrapping his arms around her waist, pulling her into him. Gabrielle took a deep breath, but didn't respond.
"Do you need for me to spell it out for you, my dear?" Ares started ran his hands seductively through Gabrielle's short blonde hair. Gabrielle said nothing, but leaned into the touch, even though it was not his touch she wanted. "Alright, let me help you get to the conclusion of this little dilemma. You see, it frightens you that Eve and Terrais are not together, because you don't want to admit that you are attracted to Terrais. That would make you feel unfaithful to Xena, who you never were able to completely give yourself to. Now, along comes a woman who you barely know and you want nothing more than for her to take you to places you have only dreamed of." Ares continued to speak softly in Gabrielle's ear while he held her close. "I think that sums it up pretty well. Of course, if it is just physical attention you require, I would be glad to help you out. No strings attached. It wouldn't be betraying Xena because I'm a man." Ares started moving his hands toward Gabrielle's breasts as he spoke.
Gabrielle suddenly realized how out-of-hand this encounter was getting. Her body needed something, but Ares wasn't providing the desired affect. All she felt was more frustration, "No, Ares." Gabrielle broke their embrace. "You may be right about what I'm feeling, but I am sure, after everything that has happened, you can't fill this void, this emptiness I'm feeling." Gabrielle turned and walked a few steps out of Ares' reach.
"Well, you may think that now, but I assure you, I could take care of your needs, Gabrielle. I took care of Xena's." Ares then disappeared without allowing Gabrielle the pleasure of a retort.
Gabrielle stood in the middle of a very dark forest wondering if Ares was right, at least about her growing feelings for Terrais. She did feel extremely guilty about the attraction she felt, but initially she believed it was because of Eve. Now, she realized it was probably due to her own regrets concerning Xena. Still, this revelation was only part of her dilemma. Now she needed to figure out what to do with her feelings. First, she needed to get her body under control, but wasn't sure how. The desire had been just beneath the surface, but now, it was quickly boiling to the top. It was more than she knew how to handle. She had such limited experience with passion, her only intimate contact had been with Perdicus, her husband for one night. She had no idea how to act on these feelings for another woman. That was probably why she had never taken the initiative with Xena; that, and the fear of rejection.
It was time to return to camp. She didn't want to worry Eve or Terrais any more than she already had. She hoped they both would be asleep by now. As she entered the camp, however, she could make out Terrais, staring into the fire. She wondered what Terrais thought of her actions. Gabrielle sat on the opposite side of the fire and waited to see if Terrais might say something. When Terrais did not speak, and Gabrielle could handle the silence no longer, she said, "I'm sorry for taking off. I don't know what has gotten into me lately." Gabrielle decided she would omit the encounter with Ares.
"It's okay. Everyone needs time to think." Terrais looked up, making direct eye contact with Gabrielle, looking for any signs of disgust. She saw none. As Terrais watched Gabrielle, she decided that something was physically bothering her, "Gabrielle, are you hurt? You're sitting very stiffly, you look uncomfortable."
Gabrielle twisted back and forth, realizing the tension was taking a toll on her muscles, "Yeah, I am. I don't think I injured myself. I'm just sore."
"Come here, let me see if I can help. You need to get a decent night's sleep. I know you haven't been sleeping well." Terrais spread her legs, indicating to Gabrielle to sit in between.
Gabrielle sat rooted in place, contemplating whether it was safe to be this close while her body was feeling this way. But the desire to relax won out. She stood and slowly walked over to Terrais. She glanced over to Eve, saw that her back was to them, probably sound asleep. Gabrielle sat down in front of Terrais, careful to keep a few inches between their bodies. Terrais reached up and tentatively touched Gabrielle's shoulders. Initially, Gabrielle tensed at the contact, but then soon relaxed into Terrais' touch. Terrais noted the obviously knotted muscles and took up the challenge to work them all out.
"I'm sorry about the confusion concerning Eve and I, as well as the confusion about you and Xena. I shouldn't have assumed." Terrais was giving strong, even strokes across Gabrielle's shoulders and upper back. She could feel Gabrielle relaxing under her fingertips. It felt marvelous to touch this woman; her soft skin, the warmth emanating from her.
"It's okay. I assumed, too." Gabrielle chuckled, "At least I got half of it right." Gabrielle allowed her head to drop forward as Terrais continued the massage.
"Yes, yes you did. I hope that doesn't bother you." Terrais wanted to make sure that, at the very least, she and Gabrielle could be friends.
Gabrielle turned to make eye contact with Terrais, "Why would it? No one chooses who they fall in love with." Gabrielle turned back towards the fire. "To be honest, as I look back on my relationship with Xena, I now realize that even though nothing happened, there had been times when I wished it had." This was a big confession for Gabrielle, and what better person to hear it.
Terrais paused only a second, then continued to slowly massage her shoulders. As Gabrielle obviously relaxed, Terrais' strokes began to become softer, more sensual, "It's difficult coming to the conclusion that you may be different, who you love, who you are attracted to."
Gabrielle leaned back into Terrais' touch, their bodies were just shy of contact, "I admire you, though. You know and you are not running from it. I, on the other hand, missed out on the part of our relationship that would have made it complete. Now as I look back, there is one piece that will always be missing." Gabrielle could feel the warmth overtaking her again, but she didn't want to pull away from it, just not yet.
Terrais continued to slowly caress Gabrielle, slow, gentle strokes over her shoulders, down her bare arms. Terrais' breaths became shorter and faster as she closed her eyes and took in Gabrielle's scent. It was intoxicating. Gabrielle continued to lean back, now resting against Terrais' chest. This only seemed to complicate Terrais' ability to breath, but she wasn't complaining. She wouldn't have given this up for anything. If she stopped breathing all together, right now, it would be all right.
Eventually, Terrais stopped moving her hands against Gabrielle's shoulders and instead encircled Gabrielle with her arms, hugging her to her chest. She worried Gabrielle might get up and run, but instead she settled into the embrace and appeared to enjoy it. They sat this way for what seemed like an eternity, neither sleeping, just enjoying the closeness. Terrais, hoping to push a little farther, started running absent patterns on Gabrielle's bare abdomen. As she drew slow circles, Gabrielle took deep slow breaths, in reaction to the touch. Terrais began nuzzling Gabrielle's hair, running her cheek against Gabrielle's ear. It was warm and comfortable, and very exciting.
Terrais was in unfamiliar territory. Sure, she knew she wanted to be with women intimately, but would they want to be with her? Now, here she was nuzzling this gorgeous woman she also might a relationship with. What to do next, she wasn't sure.
Gabrielle was content to stay where she was. She could tell that Terrais was enjoying the closeness. The deeper, more erratic breathing of Terrais paralleled her own excitement. Her thoughts, however, were in conflict. Should she be doing this? Was it too soon to even think about another relationship? Her inexperience made this all new to her. But being this close to someone she'd known for such a short time was completely out of character for her. But she wanted it and she wanted to enjoy it. So much of her life had gone by without this kind of pleasure. Wasn't she due?
Terrais wanted to know where this might lead, "Gabrielle, I don't want to push you. I am so overwhelmed by your closeness. It makes me not want to think," Terrais whispered into Gabrielle's ear, giving her cold chills.
Gabrielle knew it was time for her to take the upper hand. Terrais still needed physical healing and she still needed emotional healing. Besides, Eve was sleeping within 20 feet of them. "Terrais, you make me feel wonderful, but you're right. I have to take this slowly, one step at a time." Gabrielle turned to face Terrais, remaining in her arms, but making eye contact. She stared into the bright blue eyes, hooded with, what she guessed to be, arousal. Gabrielle reached her right hand to stroke through Terrais' hair, looking from her eyes to her lips. True, she didn't want to go too fast or too far at this point, but Gabrielle so much wanted to taste the lips in front of her. She slowly pulled Terrais to her, allowing their lips to lightly brush. The feeling was electric, both of them taking deep breaths, and then deepening the kiss. Terrais then touched Gabrielle's lips gently with her tongue, seeking permission to enter. Gabrielle willingly opened her mouth, connecting on a deeper level still. As they kissed, the two began breathing heavier and holding each other more tightly.
Gabrielle started analyzing both the kiss and her feelings. She thought about whether this was fair to the relationship she'd had with Xena. Here, now, the feeling of connection she was experiencing with Terrais was so similar to Xena, it was frightening. She didn't want to compare Terrais to Xena, but this feeling of coming home, of being bonded with someone, was so familiar. Though frightened, Gabrielle became determined, she would not compare this to her relationship with Xena. It wasn't fair to Terrais. She wanted this to be independent, new. She needed it to be separate. If it didn't work, it was because it wasn't meant to be, not because she wanted to replace Xena. No one could replace Xena. The sooner Gabrielle admitted that, the better off she would be. No, she would enjoy this moment and see where the next moment would take her.
Slowly, Gabrielle broke away, putting their foreheads together, catching her breath, "My, that was nice." Gabrielle continued to allow Terrais to hold her.
"Yes, I have to say, that was the best kiss I have ever experienced." Terrais tried to gain her composure and slow her rapidly rising libido. "But it hasn't been my experience that a kiss like that means slowing down." Terrais smiled, squeezing Gabrielle around the waist.
"Just exactly how many relationships have you had?" Gabrielle had always been afraid to ask Xena this question, but now, she didn't want to hold her thoughts back. She was tired of holding back.
"Well, if we can count this, then one." Terrais smiled. It was a genuine smile that made Gabrielle's heart lift.
"No one before this?" Gabrielle was amazed. She guessed that Terrais was close to her age. Even though she had not had much experience, she had, at least, kissed a few people over the years.
"Don't look so surprised. I've lived most of my life with Amazons, and I was suppressing those feelings. I didn't really encounter men until I started traveling. And believe me, I encountered no man that I wanted to kiss." Terrais looked down and started rubbing her thumb over the back of Gabrielle's hand.
"Well, I feel honored. And yes, it was amazing." Gabrielle giggled and leaned back into Terrais. "I had no idea how tired I was until I relaxed." Gabrielle took in deep sigh.
"Me, too. How about we try to get a little sleep. That should quell this dull roar I have in my head from your kiss." Terrais kissed the top of Gabrielle's head, not quite ready to let go.
"Okay, but that means I have to move." Gabrielle giggled again. Terrais quickly realized that she would do anything to make Gabrielle giggle. She had a beautiful smile and was glad to get to see it.
Terrais started to move, but wanted to make one more request, "Gabrielle, may I ask you for something?"
"Sure, anything." Gabrielle placed her head on Terrais' shoulder, patiently waiting.
Terrais enjoyed this contact, as well. "Could we lay close? I don't want to let you go just yet."
Gabrielle smiled and nodded her head, "Yes, I would like that very much." Gabrielle stood, reluctantly leaving Terrais' embrace and moving toward her bedroll. She picked up the blankets and moved them to where Terrais' blankets were. She stretched out, waiting for Terrais. Terrais smiled, not saying a word, and lay behind Gabrielle, wrapping her arm around Gabrielle's waist. They laid their heads down and closed their eyes, no deep thoughts, no second guessing what had just happened. Sleep claimed both of them shortly, with dreamless, peaceful, contented rest.
Continued in Part 3
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