*Xena, Gabrielle, Eve, and Gurkhan don’t belong to me. Yadda Yadda Yadda, you know this one by heart.
*This story was inspired by Rob Tapert. And yeah, I know, all of em should be. But what I mean is, I was watching "The Making of Who's Gurkhan”, when Rob talked about them filming a scene of Xena and Gabrielle that was never shown in the episode. Since he mentioned what they were doing, I felt inspired to go ahead and write, what might've been.
*Once again, my usual maintext thingy is applied. They're in love, they know it, and they got no problems with showing it and they don’t mind kicking the ass of anyone who does.
*My family unit is applied here. Xena and Gabrielle are Eve's parents. Period.
*No violence, at least in present tense. There's also no swearing, and nothing graphic sexually. This is just a lil fluffy piece that wouldn’t leave me alone!
*With this piece I did something I hadn’t done in years, which was to write it out by hand first. What follows is 10 1/2 pages, a case of cherry coke (not all at once sheesh), two jumbo bags of m&m's, and at least 8 bean and cheese burritos worth of work.
*The way this ends is on purpose. It picks up where the scene described begins in the episode.
*I only know how my work affects other people, if they tell me. Comments, suggestions, questions and constructive critics can send me email at firstname.lastname@example.org
She knew that the vision of Gabrielle was just a hallucination brought on by the beatings, but she didn't care. She allowed herself to drift in and out of the fog, comforted by the memories of the stolen moments of bliss they'd had. They kept her going during times like these. She fell into the abyss of her subconscious mind willingly, as it brought up images of their most recent day off, a day that would always be a favorite memory.
Eve had wanted some time alone to think, so the warrior had saddled Argo, and taken the bard for a run down the beach. They laughed and screamed, enjoying not only the ride, but being together again, and having everything right in the world around them. Xena wrapped the reins loosely around the saddle horn, allowing the young mare free will to run in and out of the surf. She reached down and cupped the bard's hands with her own, squeezing gently. Gabrielle lightly began tracing small circles against the lower part of the warrior's leather covered abdomen, knowing it was a sensitive spot for her. A soft moan floated back to her ears, and she leaned up and softly kissed a bronzed shoulder, before laying her head against her partner's back.
"We're going to tell her as soon as we get back. I won’t go through what we did before, with all the sneaking around" Xena said over her shoulder.
"But Xena, I don't want to be the reason that might send her away" Gabrielle replied.
"Sweetheart, she may be my child, but you are my world, in a place above even her. She needs to understand that without you, she wouldn't be alive to be around me to begin with, nor would she want to be a part of my life if it didn't involve you" the warrior said solemnly.
She reached down and gathered the reins in her hands, gently pulling the mare to a stop. She stepped down from the saddle, and then caught the bard as she followed suit. She let the small form slide down her own until they were eye to eye, and smiled when the bard wrapped her arms around the warrior's neck. Long moments passed as green eyes stared deeply into sky blue, before their lips met n a soft kiss. In that one moment they bond they had that had kept them inseparable for nearly the last thirty years was renewed, just as strongly as before.
When they separated, they rested their foreheads together, each just enjoying the quiet closeness of the other. They'd come home again, at last.
"Twenty five years without this is far too long" the warrior burred.
"I completely agree love" Gabrielle whispered back.
Xena gently put the bard on her feet, smiling as a pair of arms wound themselves around her waist. She wrapped her own around the bard's shoulders, and the blonde head gently came to rest on the warrior's chest as they both watched the sun sink into the horizon.
The sky was turning a soft purple when Gabrielle's head lifted, turned, and she began nibbling at the soft skin that was visible above the warrior's leathers, getting another soft moan. In response the warrior's fingers slowly drug up and down the bard's back before tangling themselves in the leather cording of the bard's halter. Gabrielle could feel the slight tremor running through the warrior's frame, and noticed the apprehension of the warrior's actions.
"If I didn't know better I'd say you were nervous" the bard murmured.
Xena smiled softly.
"I’m not nervous, just doubtful. My old pessimistic self has come out of the box again." she replied.
"Doubtful? What on earth could you be doubtful about now?" Gabrielle asked.
"Gabrielle, no matter how many times we go through something like this, I'm always going to expect the worst when it comes to the possibility of losing you, especially when the Gods are involved. As much as you always try to convince me otherwise, I'll never stop expecting something to take you away from me. I never have, and doubt I ever will. So when the day goes along perfectly, I have my suspicions about us being set up for something. I always doubt that we’ll ever just have the chance to have a day where something won’t go wrong" the warrior explained.
"I'm past the point of arguing this with you. I know by now that I can’t change your mind, and to try would only make things worse. While I wish you wouldn't think that way, I've accepted the fact that you do, and hope the fates will always give me the opportunity to prove you wrong. And if I have my way, you'll never have the ability to say 'I told you so' “Gabrielle said.
"You know how I am about you getting what you want" Xena said with a smile.
"I do, and if that's the case, then right now, what I really want is..." Gabrielle started before her lips were captured in a soft kiss.
"Y'know, those are two of your skills I never get tired of" Gabrielle said as they parted.
"I hate to spoil the moment, but we'd better be getting back. I don't like the thought of Eve being alone. Especially if it gives Ares the opportunity to create chaos" Xena said before giving a two note whistle.
Argo appeared, and Xena boosted the bard into the saddle, before stepping up behind her. She wrapped a long arm around the bard's waist, and took up the reins in her other hand. She kicked the mare into a trot, and headed back toward their camp.
When they arrived back at camp, Xena pulled Argo to a stop just outside the fire's circle of light, and they both quietly dismounted. During their ride back, they had both decided not to change anything about their normal routine, and just answer their daughter's questions as they came along. As Xena began stripping off the mare's tack, Gabrielle walked into the camp to retrieve the brush and currycomb. She came to an abrupt halt when she noticed the silent tears streaming down the girl's face.
"Eve? Sweetheart?" she said as she looked down at the girl in concern.
A quick glance upward told the bard that her partner had heard her, and had dropped the saddle, and was now moving towards them. Gabrielle knelt next to the young woman, and tucked a lock of brown curls behind Eve's ear. Gabrielle noticed that Eve was clutching a scroll tightly in one hand, and so she began to gently pry it from her grasp as Xena moved to the other side and dropped to her knees beside her daughter. Eve let go of the scroll and turned, curling into her mother's arms as the sobs began to shake her slender frame.
"Sweetheart what is it? What's wrong?" Xena asked, glancing back up at Gabrielle, becoming more worried at the grim look on the bard's face.
Gabrielle had gotten a good look at the scroll, and could probably guess why Eve had gotten upset. This wasn't one of her lighter stories, and she'd told the warrior that "Looking Death in the Eye" would serve as a testament as to what happened to them both, if they failed to survive their battle with the gods. Eve's broken speech explained why the story upset her as badly as it did.
"S...s...she nearly d...d...died trying to save m...m...me from them, and I t...t...tried to kill her. How c...c...can you even s...s...stand to be around m...m...me after what I d...d...did?" Eve asked, her eyes haunted by the memory of what she'd nearly done to the bard.
Gabrielle gently took one of the younger woman's hands in her own and squeezed it, as Xena wrapped her arms tighter around Eve's shaking form. The warrior chose to remain silent, knowing that this was something the bard would have to explain, because in this case it was an answer only she knew. Gabrielle looked into eyes filled with tears of disbelief, and for a moment, found herself transported back to a time when Eve was only a few months old, and all it took was a cuddle, and soft words to soothe the child's unease. She knew that things weren't going to be that easy this time.
She kissed the back of the young woman's hand, and offered her daughter a reassuring smile.
"When your mother first told me she was pregnant, I'll admit I was a little upset. The life we lived at the time was no place for a baby. But I chose to accept this card the fates had dealt us, for whatever reason. And then one night, after dinner, you decided to let us know that there were soon to be three of us, and you were already logging in some serious training hours. From that moment on, it was hard to say which of us was more anxious to finally meet you. Then, the afternoon you were born everything changed. Suddenly there was a reason for everything your mom and I did. You became a living reminder as to why anything should be done for the greater good. When we found out the reason why the Gods were so interested in your birth, things changed again. The greater good was put aside, as we fought to ensure your safety and survival. And that meant that we may have to risk our own lives in the process, which is something we accepted.
When we woke up, and found ourselves twenty-five years in the future, our first thoughts were of you. Sweetheart I knew you would do what you did before I ever put myself in harm's way. But then I also knew that I had to do something to stop your mother from treating you with kid gloves" Gabrielle explained.
"That night, after they took you into custody, I gave my second strict orders that you were to remain untouched and unharmed. They thought it was because I wanted you alive at dawn, to kill you. But I wanted you alive period. I had already begun to doubt myself then. And your words that night hit home more than you knew. When I threatened you, I was bluffing. I was grateful that mother showed up to call my bluff when she did. I made it appear that I had planned to gut you, but what I actually had in mind was to cut you free. I never intended for Joxer to be run through, but theatre was never my strong point growing up. I never learned how to fake killing someone" she said.
Eve looked down at that moment, and examined her mother's right arm, before doing the same to Gabrielle's. She knew that there was more to be said, and decided that tonight was as good as any to get everything out into the open.
"No bracelets. So you don't wear them, or you lost them, or..." she said.
"Bracelets?" Gabrielle asked.
"I thought that was the preferred jewelry of choice for an Amazon bonding ceremony" Eve said.
"They are. But what lead you to think that we had them?" Xena asked.
"Well, you're my birth mother, and I know enough about Amazon law to know that I became Gabrielle's adopted daughter when she gave me the Rite of Caste. And as for the two of you together, past that, it doesn't take a genius to figure THAT one out" Eve said with a giggle, drawing chuckles from her parents.
"And before you ask, yes I'm okay with it, and no I don't have a problem with knowing about it. While it isn't something I'm interested in personally, I don't have issues being around anyone else who is" she said.
"Well that's one way of doing it" Gabrielle said.
All three laughed. At that moment two stomachs rumbled loudly, earning a full belly laugh from the warrior.
"C'mon, let’s see what we can do about feeding those beasts" she said with a grin.
After dinner had been eaten, and the mess cleaned up, the three sat around the campfire in quiet comfort. From her bedroll Eve smiled to herself as she watched her parents interact with each other. Xena was comfortably sprawled, reclining in the vee of Gabrielle's thighs, as they chatted back and forth quietly.
"Hey over there, where'd you go?" Gabrielle called gently.
"Huh? Oh sorry. Got lost in thought I guess. This is all pretty weird for me" Eve said.
"Anything you wanna talk about?" Xena asked.
"You'll just think I'm being silly" Eve replied.
"Doubt it" Gabrielle said in return.
Eve sighed, but decided that it was pointless to put it aside, when her parents might actually take it as something more seriously than a childish fear.
"I'm just scared that's all" she said.
"Scared? Of what?" Xena asked, concerned.
"That I'm gonna wake up, and this will just be a dream" Eve replied, her voice quivering.
Xena snorted and felt the tremor as Gabrielle chuckled.
"Don't get your hopes up little girl. You're stuck with us" the bard replied, and all three laughed.
The rough bang of metal and wood against stone brought the semi conscious warrior out of her dream. She tensed her body as she heard the guards move into the cell. She knew she was in no position to fight back in any way. She also wasn't sure she could take much more abuse. Heavy shackles were fastened around her ankles, and she was hung in the air a considerable distance from the ground. Through the one eye that wasn't swollen shut, she watched the guards leave the cell. Boot steps told her that she wasn't alone, and soon she found herself looking at the man responsible for this entire mission.
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