Disclaimers: The characters Xena and Gabrielle are owned by StudiosUSA, and are used here without permission. This is a work of Sapphic fiction.

Setting: This story takes place immediately after the sixth season episode Return of the Valkyrie

Ever so lonely
Ever so lonely without you
Ever so lonely

Sink into your eyes and all I see
Love is an ocean
And you for me

Gabrielle tapped her quill to her teeth, and frowned at her parchment. Then her face relaxed and she looked up. "Hey Xena, love is an ocean. What should come after that?"

Xena was in the process of adjusting the saddle on her new horse, and cast a sideways glance at her bard. "What's in an ocean? I don't know. Seaweed?"

"Not exactly the imagery I was looking for," Gabrielle replied, getting up off her log, "but thanks anyway."

Xena adjusted the bridle a bit and stepped back, gesturing grandly at the horse for Gabrielle to see.

Gabrielle looked over their new steed, a palamino. The farmhorse had to be at least eleven years old, and had a big belly where muscles should be. "You traded your royal comb for this?"

Xena nodded, looking back to the horse. "I don't think she'll be charging into battle anytime soon, but she'll get us back home."

"I still wish we had those flying steeds." Gabrielle muttered, rolling up her scroll. "We'd be back in Greece in a fortnight."

"Only if I agreed to become a Valkyrie again." Xena said. "And frankly I've had enough of being bossed around. I'd rather boss you around."

"Uh huh." Gabrielle replied as Xena mounted and helped her soulmate up. The horse complained at the added weight.

"Xena, are you sure she can carry both of us?"

"You're free to walk." the warrior scoffed, taking the reins. Gabrielle's arms snaked around her waist.

"But you're sooo warm..." Gabrielle murmured, her breath warming Xena's ear.

Xena shook the reins and clicked her teeth at the horse. "Let's get a move on before you give me other ideas."

They rode for awhile in silence, the soft morning fog dissipating before the sun. A year had passed since they travelled thus, together as if nothing had happened. In large part, nothing had. Xena had lost her memory after donning the ring of the Rheingold, and nearly married the king of Denmark in the process. Gabrielle had smitten one of Odin's Valkyrie, who turned herself into a living flame to protect her in deathless sleep. Now Odin had his ring and they had their lives, and it was enough.

"So, what's the inspiration for the scroll?" Xena finally asked. "It's been a long time since you've wanted to write."

Gabrielle paused before answering, leaning back in the saddle. "I know, that's kind of the reason I started. When I was a tender age, I'd write silly love poetry nonstop. Drove my sister crazy reading it to her."

Xena patted her thigh. "You're still tender, here and there. Read me what you've written."

Gabrielle read the verse she had, and Xena whistled. "Doesn't rhyme."

"It doesn't have to rhyme!" Gabrielle replied. "It's open verse."

Xena chuckled. "Just getting a rise out of you, that's all. You're so easy."

Gabrielle stayed silent.

"Love is an ocean..." Xena repeated, mulling it over. "It's mysterious, and distant. I guess being asleep all that time gave you time to dream."

"I dreamed," Gabrielle said, trying to remember, "but I think it was the same dream over and over again. I think if I had been been able to think clearly, I would have found it frustrating. But I'm remembering bits of it."


"More of feelings than places or things I did." Gabrielle responded, nearly dropping the scroll as the horse struggled to extricate its hooves from the muddy road. "I hate traveling through Germany."

"I'm just glad to be out of Denmark." Xena said over her shoulder. "We'll take the road south to Marseille, and then we'll sail for Sardinia."

"Sardinia sounds good." Gabrielle nodded. "I'd as soon not cross the Rubicon."

"Likewise." Xena said in a low voice, as they began moving again. A Roman highway marker loomed ahead. "So uh, it's a love scroll?"

"I'm thinking more along the lines of obsession." the blonde replied. "The thing Brunhilda did for me..."

Xena winced. "I feel a stick in my craw. You're not going to hold this over my head, are you?"

Gabrielle hummed. "Don't mix metaphors. I'm tempted, really. But you walked through the fire for me, remember? Kind of hard to forget."


"Brunhilda was pretty obsessed alright." the blonde wondered, shaking her head.

"And she wasn't the only one." Xena reminded her. "There was Beowulf and a whole year's worth of love-struck Vikings trying to awaken you."

Gabrielle laughed. "That must have been a sight. Weren't there enough blondes in the North to obsess over?"

"You are an obsession." Xena said simply as the horse lurched.

"And I'm supposed to be flattered by that?" Gabrielle said, holding on for dear life. "Some people become obsessed with what they can't control. Brunhilda was like that."

"Well that rules me out, I could never control you."

"Ha ha." Gabrielle dead-panned.

They were silent for a time, and Xena spoke up. "You want to break for lunch?"

"No, let's ride until noon." Gabrielle sighed, resting her head against her love.

Sink into your eyes
your eyes
are all I see
Your love is an ocean

An ocean refuses no river
Ever so lonely
An ocean refuses no river
Waiting for the time when we can be alone together

Alone together

"Nice boots, you guys selling polish?"

Xena looked up at the faces of the Roman soldiers in front of them.

"You've got a smart mouth, considering you're talking to the Ninth Expeditionary Legion." the soldier replied. "I asked you who you were and what your destination is."

"My destination is to be far away from here." Xena said levelly, her hand dropping to her sword hilt. "As for who I am, you really don't want to know."

The soldiers were startled by a creaking sound from behind Xena, as her companion leaned into view with a longbow aimed squarely at their leader.

The soldier went white, but quickly recovered his composure. "Be off with you then."

Xena slowly walked the horse past them as they stepped aside, their expressions saying it all. Her companion relaxed her grip only when they were some distance away.

"Well that was a surprise." the blonde said, putting her arrow away. "You didn't even bruise him."

"I can be discrete at times." Xena said, fixing the road with her glare. "The next group of rude soldiers may not be so lucky."


"If you want, we can ride back there and thrash them." Xena asked.

"No thanks."

"We'll ride through them, I'll decapitate their leader." Xena described. "You'll disarm one of his men, and the other will rap you in the back. Afterwards I'll tend your wounds, and you'll write one of your 'hurt/comfort' stories about the whole thing."

"Lay off of my writing," Gabrielle chided, "I can always revise my glowing descriptions of your exploits."

"Read me what you've got of your poem so far." Xena prompted.

Gabrielle read her new verses carefully, full of longing and feeling, and waited for Xena's response.

"I like it." Xena replied at some length.

"You do?!" Gabrielle asked, astonished. "You never like my poetry, rhyming or otherwise."

"It's full of flowery nonsense," Xena said, "but it's sad, too. I like sad stuff."

"Thanks!" Gabrielle mocked. "I'll try to be more depressing."

"You ask for my take, you get it." Xena said simply, spurring the horse faster. "Go ahead and write your happy stuff, if you want."

Gabrielle glared at the back of Xena's head.


Xena inspected the horse's hoof, and set it to the ground again.

"How far are we from Marseille?" Gabrielle asked.

"About a week." Xena replied, stroking the horse's cheek. "We'll have to walk the rest of the way alongside her."

"Maybe we'll find you a new farmer to live with." Gabrielle said to the horse, offering her an apple. She snapped her hand away as the horse took it in one swallow. "You're welcome, sheesh."

Xena tethered the horse to a tree. They sat down against it as a soft snow was falling. Gabrielle snuggled closer to Xena, and then abruptly sat up. She stood and faced the warrior.

"Xena, are you still in love with me?" Gabrielle asked, her hands on her hips.

"Where, where did this come from?" Xena asked, amusement crossing her face. Then her expression changed. "Of course I am."

"Say it."

"What?" Xena asked.

"I said say it." Gabrielle asked again.

Xena blinked. "I love you."

Gabrielle nodded, dropping her hands. "I know. I've always known."

Xena rolled her eyes in exasperation. "Then why ask?"

Gabrielle took a deep breath. "We've traveled together for years, all this time I've written and talked about the love we share. Yes, the flowery happy stuff as you put it."

"You've written about it enough, haven't you." Xena said simply, looking away. She had a sudden desire to feel every curve of the tree roots.

"What's that supposed to mean? Are you saying it wasn't real?"

Xena fixed her gaze on her, and got up. "Yes it is flowery nonsense, of course it isn't real."

The blonde stepped back a bit. "What do you mean?"

"Gabrielle," Xena emphasized her name, "you've always held me up to an impossibly high standard, you've written and talked about a perfect love, two soulmates and destiny and all that."


"I'm a real person, Gabrielle. I can't live up to the ideal you've set for us." Xena repeated. "I've tried to do my best by you, but the 'ideal love' you write about is only in your mind. Ink on a page."

"It's real to me." Gabrielle said softly. "Even if it doesn't describe a day in our lives. It should be real."

Xena smiled at her confused bard. "Don't you get it? That's the whole point. Such love doesn't exist, Gabrielle. It never did."

"I'm not following you."

"No one can achieve the kind of love you write about." Xena replied, taking Gabrielle's hand in hers. "But you believe in that flowery nonsense, you make it real for the both of us. That's what matters. Even if I don't believe it myself."

Tears welled up in the bard's eyes. "I never knew... Why didn't you just say so?"

"And stand in the way of your flowery prose?" Xena said seriously, and then smiled. "You inspire me, my bard."

"I'm glad." Gabrielle said, wiping her eyes.

Xena sat back down, and her companion joined her. Xena stroked her hair, now long again. "We've seen the future, Gabrielle. Whether in heaven, hell, or some new life, we'll be together in some way."

"Now who's getting flowery..." the bard breathed as she snuggled against her. Her breath caught as she felt Xena reaching into her blouse.

There was a rustling sound as Xena fished the scroll from Gabrielle's shirt. She handed it to the bard. "Now finish your poem."

Somewhat disappointed, Gabrielle sat up and tapped her quill to her tongue.

The ocean, your ocean
refuses no river

ever so lonely
ever so lonely without you
your ocean
your ocean
refuses no river

Alone together

--- The End ---

Reference:Ever So Lonely/Eyes/Ocean by Sheila Chandra, from her album Weaving My Ancestors' Voices.

Email me at jo567779@pegasus.cc.ucf.edu

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