Took You Long Enough

by WhymZ

STANDARD DISCLAIMER: MCA, Universal, Renaissance, own all rights to Xe and G. ME? I'm just a fan with a writing bug.

MENTAL DISCLAIMER: WhymZ is certifiable. Though she loves to express this through her writing. Sometimes it's good, sometimes if bad and sometimes it's VERY bad. *BEG* here is yet another of something different oozing from the twisted remnants of my soul. (Flame retardant sssppplllttt!!! )

How could I not have seen through her carefully veiled veneer? She was always surprising me with her vulnerability. I never realized, the position she put herself in. How she readily put herself in harms way, saving my skin more times than I can count. Sometimes I'd watch her do something impossible and would hear her voice in my head, "You're my source Gabrielle, when I do things I'm not capable of, it's because of you. Don't you know that by now?" I can feel my heart flutter just at the weight of her words. Promises never made lightly, requests never denied. Anything I asked of her would be freely given. Her heart? Did she so willingly let me in? No, I pushed, pulled, fought and pried myself into her life. Stood face to face with this, The Destroyer of Nations, I can see her resignedly giving in. Her eye's spoke volumes her voice would not betray. Even from the first moment our eyes locked, it was the primal need in our hearts to have a kindred. Yet, what would this simple, bard from Potadeia have in common with the blood thirsty warrior of nightmares? Something in her eyes betrayed the facade of rumors surrounding her. This person before me had changed and was someone so different. She had a kind, protective nature about her. Having witnessed the death of her own innocence she now relentlessly fought to protect others. Her choice though unusual was the only answer for her true indulgence. Her well hidden, softer, gentler side kept her rage in check. But, that 'tougher than my leathers' warrior thing protected her heart. Somehow I had seen past all the images of my childhood nightmares and only saw the person inside her. She had carefully built up walls to stay safe and never let anyone close enough to hurt her. Looking back on that now, I know it was her consciously allowing me to see her true soul. She often had to think about letting me get close to her. Control her hair trigger reflexes not to swat me across open fields. I forgot sometimes what she was. I've never felt afraid of her, though I knew the damage she could cause. I never denied her strength, and marveled at her abilities. She amazed and delighted me in so many ways. She was intriguing, and beautiful and I caught myself more often than not, simply staring into her eyes unaware of her amused tolerance. I felt so much being with her. I seemed to be merely existing before meeting her and now I was truly alive. Our nights by the campfire after a long day of travel and various scrapes we'd fall into, were quiet with reflection. Just like tonight. I would update my scrolls and re-enact the days' events and she'd meticulously clean her armor and weapons. Sometimes I would watch as she concentrated on a particular piece of dented metal. Eyebrows contracted in frustration. Everything in me wanted to reach out and run a finger over the tense muscles in her face. It was only recently that I felt an unfamiliar stirring in my gut. The way her head tilted in concentration. Her hair falling around her face. Her eyes flickered in the fire's light. Something woke up inside of me. Pushing down these new feelings, I wondered at her ability to just continue to go, and go as if she never needed sleep. How did she push herself so hard, so long? Once in a while she would glance up from what she was doing and I would feel her gaze lingering on me. Sometimes I would catch her eye and she would give me that smile, the one I knew she put her heart into. I would smile back and bend to updating my scroll. Then it got too dark to keep my eyes open, I huddled up in my sleeping fur and drifted off with her still in my line of sight. She seemed to sit up and stand guard throughout the night. I knew better, she would watch me when she thought I was sleeping, she would stare and stare and sometimes I thought I might die from my need to hold her. I could see her fighting with herself to stay rooted to her side of the fire. I watched it get the best of her. She inched closer and positioned herself behind my head and I could feel her hand gently stroking, my hair. A comforting, gesture that drove me almost out of sleep and into her arms. I wondered if she'd heard my heart beating. A simple, silent moment and it was the sweetest thing I felt. I pulled the feeling to my chest and hugged it to sleep. When I woke only a little while later, I'd found her curled protectively against me her arms wrapped around my waist. I felt her stir and knew she would move away when she realized the position she was in. I closed my eyes and allowed myself to feel her power, the gentle beating of her heart and her slow even breathing. I could smell the tang of leather and the sweet almost light scent that was Xena. I couldn't place it and knew it must be the soap she used. Whatever it was, was so intoxicating it took every ounce of self restraint to not turn and bury my nose into her chest and stay there. A thought tickled it's way into my consciousness, would she shift if I happened to turn over in my sleep? In a fitful unrest of one of my nightmares? I moved so slightly and turned in her arms pulling myself closer and into that sweet place of my dreams. I felt her flinch slightly and then settle down. She hadn't moved though. I felt her heartbeat pick up under my cheek, and smiled gently and gratefully to myself. Her hands slowly traced an intricate pattern down my back. My senses were overloaded and I snuggled closer trying to climb inside the safest place in the world. Her chin rested on my head, and was it my imagination? Did she just kiss the top of my head? I hardly let out a breath, and waited, wondering what I should do. I didn't move. Was she dreaming? I felt her mouth near my ear and caught my breath. She gently tugged on the lobe and tickled the very edge of my ear. I never knew I was so sensitive there. Slowly ever so slowly I tilted my head up in the hopes of catching her sleepily wandering lips off guard. I found my prize and was glad of her mouth returning my kiss. Gently pleading, my heart began racing and my kiss became more insistent. Her hands still roaming keeping their steady pace of tracing patterns. My hands began their own journey down the long body that was my life. I felt her heartbeat against my chest. I thought I might be overcome and simply lose control and assault my senses with this feeling. Hoping that I wouldn't wake her in my exuberance, I wanted this so badly. Was she dreaming? Of me? Or was I playing along in her fantasy of someone else. I didn't really care, her eyes never opened, and I needed this attention. From her, no one else could have filled this need for me. I peeked up at her face and was glad of her closed eyes. Am I taking advantage of her? What would she say if she woke to find me in this position? Not moving, I looked up at her and her eyes were still closed a peace on her face that was rare. I smiled and reveled in the feeling of warmth and the tingling sensation that was running up and down my spine spreading throughout my body. I stopped, unable to breath. This was wrong. It was not fair of me to take advantage of her exhaustion. I returned to my previous position, my back against her chest. I felt her breathing slow and heard a soft murmur escape her lips.

"Mmm" Xena breathed and I felt it on my neck. What should I do? Nothing, I'll just pretend nothing happened. Then there was a hand on my face, beckoning me to turn. I rolled over and faced her, trembling. I looked up into eyes crystal blue with moonlight. I wanted to cry, her eyes full of questions and my own eyes betraying my need. She smiled then and pulled me to her, kissing me softly, slowly. Was I awake? She stopped and pulled back again smiling as she said, "I love you. Don't you know that?" I couldn't believe what I was hearing! My heart wanted to dance out of my chest and do flips at this admission. Her eyes held truth that I so long denied myself. I looked her in the eye, and with all of my heart, "Oh, Xena, I love you more than anything in this whole world. Don't YOU know that?" She looked at me and I saw the tears fall perfectly, unblinkingly, down her cheeks and carefully caught each one with feather light kisses. I cradled her in my arms for what seemed like an eternity until I felt the warmth spreading from my abdomen, over my whole body. Her breathing became ragged and desperate. My own matched hers. She claimed my mouth in a kiss that reached out with our souls. Lingering there for some time she pushed me onto my back and hovered over me. Into my mouth she spoke her need, "Open your eyes I want you to look at me loving you." I did. I looked into eyes, never more blue than this night. Never more kind and honest. I could see the love in her heart for me and felt my response in her mouth. She left my lips and traced a healing burn down my neck across my collarbone and into the hollow at the bottom of my throat. Tears streaked my own face as I allowed myself to love her. Never before has something felt so right. It was as if she simply reached in and touched my soul. Speaking in words that only our need understood.

The sun woke us from our slumber. Resting in the comfort of her embrace, I traced idle patterns on her stomach. She shifted and opened her eyes and in her regard I was everything. Her eyes, always told me so much, and now they were screaming with information. I didn't want to move, I never wanted this feeling to end. She squeezed me tighter and inhaled a deep breath. She stretched and ran a hand down my cheek. Smiling she said, "What took you so long?" her eyes, twinkling with mirth.

I could only look at her, in amazement, having finally been given the most precious of gifts. My eyes searched hers and words found their way into my soul . . .

My fear kept my feelings at bay,
nevertheless they grew each day.
Unsure of how you would feel,
silent glimpses I did steal.

Watching you as I often did,
secretly all my feelings I hid.
You captured something deep within
I always hoped you'd let me in.

Now with your heart right here.
I only want to pull you near.
Cradle you in soft forever,
we will always be together.

I took a breath and waited as the words settled down around us. She looked at me in surprise at the words that came so easily to me. Her hand shaking as she cupped my chin and kissed me softly. Wrapping her arms around me I snuggled close. I felt her take a breath to speak and when her words found my ears, I was stunned.

"Gabrielle, I loved you from the start. When you pleaded with me to let you stay, you were already securely rooted in my heart. I never thought I could love one so easily, but something in you spoke to something in me. Thank you, for seeing something that no one else ever did. Thank you for giving me a reason to breathe."

Her words reached in and gathered my heart into her hands. In blissful shock, I could only blink at her in surprise. She smiled down at me, and touched my cheek. "Aww, have I FINALLY caught you speechless?" I smiled back knowingly.

This was right.

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