General Copyright Disclaimers
Characters and backstory of Xena: Warrior Princess are the property of Renaissance/MCA/Studios USA. This story is not meant to infringe upon their rights. This story was not written for monetary gain. Anything not copyrighted to the above mentioned parties is copyrighted to me. If you wish to archive or link this story, please contact me.
This story is rated R for sexual situations.
This story contains themes and descriptions of a loving, sexual relationship between two consenting adult women. This story is intended for a mature audience with an open mind. If it is illegal for you to read this story for any reason at all, please close this web page and find something that is legal for you to read.
The concept of time is a curious one. From Star Trek to Don Quixote, it has always perplexed me. If you think about it too hard, you're liable to get one heck of a migraine, but it is intriguing. Threads of time, parallel universes, folk tales of enchanted caves that spell time differently, they warp and tease our limited understanding...and it's all in our minds. The story is part of the Sacrifice for Love Series.
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One Thread In Time
Copyright June 20, 1998
There was not anything spectacular about the thread to simply gaze at it, except for its color. At one time, it had been pure white as the driven snow high in the mountains. Through the years, though, with experiences both happy and sad, the thread had become golden, and at times, almost dusky.
But one moment in time, one second of thought, one unplanned action, caused the thread to lighten in hue, to gather a bit of pink, blue, and gray. The resulting color was not actually as pleasant as it was intriguing. So much wisdom, love, and experience in one who lived only a short time.
The thread had been woven with many others. Some of those had ended abruptly, some had gone on to lighten themselves. Others had wound themselves tight to the one thread, but none as tight as the blue one - the one that had also started out white, but changed to almost black, and then gradually to the shifting colors of the early evening sky. The two threads clung to one another, defying gods and mortals to separate them.
It had almost happened. They, the ones who were supposed to know the destinies of all, had underestimated the God of War, the ambitious seed of Zeus. They had been blind to his machinations. All of mankind would have ceased if they had not bowed to the threats that had been levied against them. Their powers of fate would have been stolen, their looms and shears and spinning wheels would have been possessed by one who would not be impassive.
And so, when the one thread was meant to come to an end, to be severed from the infinite tapestry of time, the Fates hesitated. One brief moment passed until they felt the presence of Dahok no more, and they nodded their heads in acknowledgement, solemn for their purpose. They had once given another a second chance to change destiny. They would do so again. While the other gods might shrug off any debt they owed to the saviors of their world, Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos understood the true gift mankind had been given.
Closing their eyes in unison, their hands never wavering from their tasks, the three goddesses concentrated on the one thread that vibrated with vitality and righteous purpose. With powers that even the King of Gods feared, they anchored the thread even tighter, binding it forever with the strong, dark one that had helped them not so long ago.
Gabrielle opened her eyes and moaned as the mid-afternoon sun blazed with a blinding intensity that precipitated a pounding headache. Rolling over to her stomach, she inhaled deeply of warm earth and cool water that reminded her of a thousand campsites. When the throbbing was dulled to an uncomfortable pressure, she rose and found the lake by which she had wakened.
The water was sweet on her tongue and soothed her parched throat. As she splashed her face and neck, she wondered absently where she was. Her thoughts drifted as snatches of a song claimed her lips and she hummed as the sun bathed her in warmth. Suddenly, her brows furrowed in confusion. She was alone. With a shuddering breath, she stood and gazed over the tops of the high grasses that framed the shimmering beauty of the lake.
She knew, without knowing, that there was another who should have been with her. Her companion's absence was the only thing that would have explained the feeling of loss within her heart, her soul. She sat upon a rock, pondering this forgotten loss when a soft sound pricked her ears. An instant wave of fear was replaced by jubilation as she recalled the beast's name. "Argo!"
The warhorse, recognizing the bard's voice, whickered in joyous greeting and trotted over to the river bank where she nuzzled the fair woman's neck. Her scent had not been forgotten in the time that she had been gone. Once greetings were exchanged, the mare stepped over to the lake where she began to drink contentedly.
Gabrielle's eyes studied the warhorse still in full tack, and wondered where the owner might be. Surely, if the horse's presence had triggered a memory, then the person who owned it would, also. Her thoughts were interrupted by the hiss of a sword leaving its scabbard.
"I don't know who you are, but if you ever touch my horse again, I'll make sure you regret it."
A shiver coursed through the bard's body. Not sure if it was in excitement or apprehension, upon hearing the voice that tugged at the edges of her consciousness, she raised her hands to show her lack of weapon and turned slowly to meet the woman who belonged to the horse.
She was a warrior, obvious by her leather and armor and the various weapons that were visible on her person. The bard's brow puckered in thought when her gaze trailed up the warrior's body from her booted feet, and stopped at the swirling patterns on her armor. Needing to see the warrior's face, Gabrielle found the courage to raise her curious eyes.
Xena's breath stopped for a long moment before the painful thudding of her heart made her inhale with something akin to pain. She stumbled back against the rock upon which the woman had been sitting before Argo had found her. The warrior's long, tapered fingers found her throat which began to convulse in disbelief and anguish.
Gabrielle's eyes widened in recognition. Although somewhat older, evidenced by the gray that shot through the warrior's raven locks, the blue eyes that searched hers with a burning intensity, made her blood run hot and her world to darken.
"Gabrielle!" Xena came out of her daze when she saw the young woman falling unconscious. Although her rational warrior's mind argued that the honey-haired, green-eyed, petite woman in Amazon clothing could not be her long-deceased companion, her heart rallied, sensing the easy comfort she always felt when in the presence of her bard.
The bard's eyes fluttered opened and she winced with pain.
"I'm sorry, Gabrielle," the warrior whispered. "I moved too slow. I couldn't catch you before you hit your head. Are you all right?"
Gabrielle struggled to sit up and faced the warrior. "Xena? What happened to you? And what are we doing here?"
Feeling the anguish in her friend's questions, the warrior moved to put a comforting arm around the young woman who accepted it without thought. "Don't you remember anything?" When the fair head against her shoulder indicated the negative, the warrior chewed on her bottom lip. "Gabrielle, you died."
"Of course, I died," the bard responded with a soft snort. "In Thessaly, but you brought me back."
"No," the warrior corrected, "you came back on your own that time. But that's not what I was talking about."
Pulling out of the secure embrace, the young woman looked up into her aged friend's features for answers to questions that wanted to pour out of her mouth. "What do you mean?"
Xena sighed and ran a trembling hand through her bangs. When the bard reached up and took that hand between her own, the warrior found her voice once more. "Gabrielle, you died, almost fifteen years ago, when you pulled Hope into that chasm."
The bard's eyes widened in disbelief. Assuming that Xena was...Xena, and this was her own time, then she had lost fifteen years of her life. The warrior's strong arms comforted her when she curled her small frame into a ball and began to cry.
"Shhh...it's all right, Gabrielle. You saved the world that day," Xena revealed with a sad smile. "Because of you, Dahok never came into the world."
Gabrielle straightened and raised a hand to trace the worn lines on her friend's face. "But what about you, Xena? What happened to you?"
The warrior clasped her hand and gave in to the impulse to lay a gentle kiss on the palm. "I've never forgotten you, or the lessons that you worked so hard to teach me. I hadn't realized how well I learned them until I survived my first year without you. I made it through one of the darkest times of my life, and I did it without betraying my promise to you." The warrior's brow lifted in question. "What?"
A giggle turned to laughter that rang through the clearing along the lake's edge.
"Oh, Xena. I can't ever remember hearing you say so much in one breath. Are you sure you are who I think you are?"
Her mouth lifting slightly at the corners, the warrior chuckled. "Yeah, well, without you around, someone had to keep up the conversation."
The mood turned serious when the bard realized just how long she had been away from the warrior. "I don't understand, Xena. I don't remember falling to my death. In fact, the last thing I do remember is saving those Hestians from Bailius." She took a breath and closed her eyes, trying to remember anything else. "You say it's been almost fifteen years?"
"Yes." Xena was losing a hard-fought battle against the tears that threatened to cascade.
Gabrielle raised her head at the choked tone of her friend's response and smiled wistfully. With a gentle hand, she wiped away the warrior's tears and let the older woman fall into her warm embrace.
"I don't understand what has happened here," Xena began as she regained control over her voice, "but I'm not going to question the reasoning of the Fates," she finished as she snuggled her head into Gabrielle's neck. "But I will say something that I should have told you long ago," she whispered then inhaled deeply to bolster her courage. "I love you, Gabrielle. I've loved you for what has seemed all my life. After I lost you...all that got me through the nights was thoughts of you. And each morning when I woke up alone, I hurt just a little more inside. I never had memories of waking up in your arms, of waking you with a morning kiss...." Xena started when she felt a hesitant finger under her chin.
"Xena, look at me," the bard urged, her own emotions threatening to block her voice. "I don't want to think about that right now. All I know, is that when I first found myself here, I felt alone, and I didn't know why. When I saw Argo, something clicked inside, and then I saw you. I knew right then at that moment, that you were what was missing, why I felt incomplete." Gabrielle smiled as her hand caressed the warrior's face and threaded through her graying hair. "What didn't happen in the past was unfortunate, for both of us," she stated emphatically. "But that was then," she purred and paused as her lips found the warrior's, "and this is now."
After almost fifteen years of separation and carrying guilt and unrequited, unrealized love within her, Xena melted into the bard's kiss with a desperation that fueled the fires within them both. Their breaths mingled and their passion arced between them as they rose to their knees to disrobe.
"I've waited so long," the warrior moaned as the bard's lips fastened to the skin over her throbbing pulse.
"I've loved you so much," Gabrielle whispered as her advances became more bold, and she found herself lying atop her friend.
And so, without the comfort of bedrolls, nor the light of a fire, the two made love as the day's light faded. The bard reveled in the fact that although more mature, the warrior had maintained her toned and muscular body, and Gabrielle was grateful for the ecstasy that she found within the warrior's loving embrace. Xena, overwhelmed with the unexpected and unexplainable reunion, merely immersed herself in the tactile sensations of the bard's soft skin under her hands and the incoherent cries of the young woman's release. After exhaustion begged them no more activity, they curled up into each other's warmth and drifted off to sleep, mindful only of the other's presence.
Xena woke as usual before the first rays of the sun were over the horizon. A warm body next to her prompted a muttered oath, as she could not remember picking up a lover at the last tavern she had visited. But when the young woman pressed her lips against the warrior's breast and uttered soft words of love, Xena smiled brightly and hugged the smaller woman with whooping enthusiasm.
Gabrielle opened her bleary eyes and took the ride with the jubilant Warrior Princess. The air was squeezed from her lungs on several occasions, but the soft body pressed to hers made the pain more than bearable. Finally, she was given the chance to fix Xena with a wary glance when she was set back within the embrace.
The warrior's exhilaration wound down to a satisfied chuckle. "I'm sorry, Gabrielle, but I just couldn't believe it. After so long without you and wishing this had happened, I woke up to find that it did."
"Oh, Xena, you can be so romantic sometimes."
Feeling more alive than she had since before Gabrielle's death, the warrior stood and glanced around a moment to get her bearings. "Breakfast?"
The bard's stomach answered before her mouth could, and Xena pulled the smaller woman up into a quick embrace. "Gods, how I love you, woman."
Gabrielle blushed and returned the fervent morning kiss.
"Tell you what, I'll catch some fish for breakfast, and you can gather some wood for a fire. All right?"
Without even questioning the deal, Xena turned and ran for the lake, shouting happily when her flawless dive took her through the crisp morning air. Gabrielle shook her head and fell into the routine that had been established between them so long ago.
By the time that Xena had arrived with two large fish that were sure to satisfy even her bard's voracious hunger, Gabrielle had unsaddled Argo and had fashioned a relatively comfortable camp. A blazing fire greeted her and she smiled as she crept up on the bard who was looking through the scroll bag that Xena had kept through the years.
"Aacckk! Xena!" Gabrielle spun to fix a reproachful glare on her lover, but her face fell in shock.
"What?" The warrior was becoming alarmed with the chatty woman's silence. "Gabrielle, what is it?"
"You," the bard answered with a tinge of awe. "Look at you," she whispered as she ran a curious hand up the warrior's naked arm. "What happened?"
Xena's eyes narrowed in confusion before Gabrielle lifted her hand so that the warrior might turn her head to see what had captured the bard's attention. It took a moment before understanding dawned. No longer was her hair streaked with time's fingers. It's raven luster had been restored, and with a gasp, she saw that fine wrinkles that had begun appearing several years ago on her scarred hands, were no longer visible. With trembling fingers, they both traced the unmarked smoothness of the warrior's face.
Gabrielle's eyes sparkled with unshed tears as she the warrior's image that she last remembered. "By the gods, Xena."
The warrior could not take her eyes off her own body, once again vibrant with youth. Personally, she believed that Gabrielle's love had something to do with the change, but she could not find the appropriate words to express such a sentiment.
When Xena's shocked eyes met hers, Gabrielle cried out and threw herself at the woman who was once again young and strong, unhindered by the minor inconveniences of age. "I don't understand, Xena. But like you said, let's not question the reasoning of the Fates, all right?"
Xena could only nod mutely as Gabrielle embrace her once more and then stepped away again. "I would really love to see how you've changed...ALL over, Xena," she hinted seductively, "but I really am hungry. I can't remember the last time I ate."
Patting the bard's lean stomach, Xena was brought back to the present and its curious reality. "Trust me, my bard. I'm inclined to say that it was a long time ago, even by my standards, but now, I'm not so sure," she chuckled as she ducked her head for a quick kiss.
Gabrielle's protests were stifled just a moment before her lover pulled away. "Okay," she said breathlessly, "first breakfast, and then a bath, and then...a more detailed examination of what has happened to us."
"Much more detailed, by the light of day," the warrior promised solemnly.
They both grinned at their own pleasurable thoughts. It had been too long for them, and they had no plans to let embarrassment or fear keep them from their heart's desire.
As they watched the one thread, the anchor to so many others, wrap tightly around the blue one, the Fates smiled at the rosy hue the two acquired. It had been an afterthought, to return the blue thread to an earlier time in that one place of the tapestry. It had been a decision that was obviously greeted with much happiness from the two women who continued to rediscover each other over the course of several mortal days. The Fates themselves had forgotten how quickly time passed for those over whom they had jurisdiction. For the immortal gods, it had only been a blink of an eye, but it had seemed a lifetime to the warrior. With sober nods of their head, Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos agreed silently that their debt had been repaid. And as that concluded their personal involvement in the matter, they resumed their weaving of the Great Tapestry of Life.
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