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Turning A Corner
By Web Bard
This story picks up at the end of the "Is There a Doctor In The House" episode. Xena comes to grip with the fact that she almost lost her bard for good and how much their friendship really means to her. Rated G.
Xena's head moved from side to side as she restlessly slept.
"Don't you leave me! Don't leave me! Don't leave me!" screamed Xena as she pounded frantically on Gabrielle's chest.
Startled by hearing her own voice screaming in her dream, Xena sat straight up from her bedroll. She quickly looked toward her sleeping friend.
"By the gods...you're still here," she whispered. Fighting back tears, she quietly moved toward Gabrielle and gently pushed a lock of blond hair away from her face.
"There. I can see you better now, sweet friend," she said as she wiped the tears away from her own face with the back of her hand.
Not wanting to wake Gabrielle up, she rested with her arms around her knees and watched Gabrielle's chest rise and fall in a normal rhythm. She never thought she'd be moved by just watching someone breathe before. Only two days earlier, she had given her friend the only gift she couldthe breath of life. Over and over, she tried to breath air into Gabrielle's lifeless lungs. In desperation, she pounded her friend's chest, screaming at her, begging her not to leave her. Near an emotional collapse, Xena had delivered one last shuddering blow to Gabrielle's sternum. Gabrielle gasped and found herself being pulled into the arms of her best friend.
Xena's silent tears were now turning into racking sobs. "Oh Gabrielle...I'm so sorry."
"Xena?" whispered Gabrielle as she slowly opened her eyes and looked up. "What is it? What's happened?"
Gabrielle carefully lifted herself into a sitting position, trying not to put a strain on the stitches on her chest and arm. "Xena, please...please talk to me!" she said, trying to brush the tears from Xena's face. But the tears never stopped. Gabrielle had never seen her friend this distraught before. Sensing that no verbal response was coming, she gently pulled Xena's head into her lap. She carefully stroked her friend's hair away from her tear-stained face and put her arms around her. She leaned down close to Xena's ear and whispered, "I'm right here...right here...just let it go."
Xena grabbed her friend's arms and held tight while the two friends rocked slowly in front of the fire.
"I've got you. I'm not going anywhere, okay?" said Gabrielle to her still silent friend. "Xena, can you at least look at me if you're not going to talk to me?"
Xena unlocked her arms from Gabrielle's and slowly rolled over on her back. Gabrielle shifted her legs to straighten them out and reached down to cradle her friend's head and pull it toward her chest. She cupped her hand and turned Xena's face toward hers.
"Look at me...please," pleaded Gabrielle. "If you're not going to tell me what's wrong, then I have some things to say to you."
Xena had never felt so vulnerable in someone else's arms. Or, so safe. She reached up to touch Gabrielle's cheek.
"Sorry...so sorry," Xena started to say. Gabrielle placed her index finger on Xena's lips.
"No, you just rest. There are some things I need to tell you," said Gabrielle. "I know you're feeling guilty about me being hurt. It wasn't your fault and you know it. I just couldn't stand by knowing that a little boy could be injured. I had to look for him. You would have done the same thing."
"No, I could have stopped you. I...I could have gone in your place," stammered Xena as she looked into her friend's green eyes.
"Shhh...I'm not finished," said Gabrielle. "You saved my life the other day and it's not the first time. But, you've also saved me from the life I was forced to lead at home. Now, you are my home. You've given my life meaning. You've showed me how to fight for what is right. And, you've protected me with your very life. No matter how hard you try to take on the guilt of world, I refuse to let you add this to it."
Xena turned her head toward Gabrielle's chest and felt the tears brim to the surface again.
"My warrior princess friend," said Gabrielle as she tenderly held Xena close to her. "Listen to me. I love you. I...love...you. Do you understand me? You are my best friend. My family. My very reason to wake up every day. I can't even imagine my life without you in it."
This time, it was Gabrielle who couldn't control the tears. "I don't expect you to feel the same way. I...I just had to let you know how important you are to me."
Xena pulled herself away from Gabrielle and sat on her knees facing her friend. Gabrielle dropped her head in her hands and wept into them.
"So, are you finished talking now?" said Xena with a smile as she lifted her friend's face with her hand. "Now, it's my turn. C'mere little one."
Xena embraced her friend, being careful not to hold her too tight because of her chest wound. She ran her fingers through Gabrielle's hair and pulled her head, ever so gently up under her own chin.
"I don't bring just anyone back from the dead you know," said Xena, trying to coax a smile from her friend. "Only the person who means more to me than my very life. Only the person who completes who I am. Only the one who I love as my best friend and family. Only...you."
Xena bent down and kissed the top of Gabrielle's head. Gabrielle wrapped her arms around Xena's waist and held her closer than she'd ever held anyone.
"Thank you," whispered Xena into Gabrielle's ear. "Thank you for loving me."
Gabrielle reached for her friend's hand, kissed her palm and rested it against her own cheek.
"I will always love you," said Gabrielle.
"And I, you," said Xena. "Always."
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