Gabrielle lay in her bedroll in pure pain. She was really angry with herself for hurting her back the way she did it. What got her goat was that it wasn't from battle or illness, Oh no, I bend over to pick up a scroll from behind a large log and pop I'm in agony. I pulled the muscles in both my back and leg just from that simple movement. I am such an idiot! I can hardly move at all and I don't think even that arrow with the poison from the Persians caused me such pain. Gabrielle thought to herself, her eyes closed as tears fell down her cheeks from her anger at herself and the pain.
Gentle fingers wiped the tears and a soft comforting voice said, "Would stop beating yourself up? Anyone can pull a muscle in their back."
"You never have?"
"Sure I have, lots of times."
Green eyes snapped open, "You have?"
"Yep, many times my back is always popping out on me."
Xena smiled as she gently wiped the sweaty face with a soft cloth as she replied gently, "More times then I can tell you. Really Gabrielle it could happen to anyone."
"But you never seem to be in this kind of pain."
Xena shrugged, "When you lead an army you learn to hide the pain. Remember I carried Solan and the men never even knew I was pregnant."
Gabrielle closed her eyes again as another wave of pain washed over her. She felt her face suddenly fill with sweat as she shook with the effects of the cold sweats that wreaked havoc with her body. Xena pulled her into her arms to warm her up and dried the sweaty brow with another cloth.
When green eyes opened again they were met by very compassionate blue, "How?how?do you?do that?"
Xena was gently drying her skin as she answered the question, "Practice. Practice that is born of necessity which thankfully you don't have to learn to do."
"Why don't I have to learn it?"
Xena smiled and said, "Because you have nothing to prove to me. I know your in real pain and I all want to do is help ease it. I have nothing but sympathy for you and I wish I could just take it away."
"But?But doesn't it make me weak?"
"No it makes you human. We all have pain it really is ok to show it."
Gabrielle smiled very slightly for the first time since she hurt herself. "Thanks Xena, I really needed to know you felt like that."
"I know you did. Ok, drink this tea it will help take down your swelling."
"You're a great healer did you know that?"
Xena shrugged, "I am a good field healer. I don't think I'd like to be cooped up in a temple."
"You did pretty good in Thessaly."
"Well I had some inspiration then."
"You did? What was it?"
Xena snorted and shook her head, "You."
"Of course, do you think I would have tried to stop that war if it wasn't for you? Then well, all those things started to happen one after another. First finding Ephiny then you getting hurt?I did what I had to do. I did it because of you though."
"Xena?" The warrior's fingers covered dry lips. Xena brought some water to them and said, "You are going to get dehydrated again. Drink some water please?"
"I get dizzy when I go?"
"That was from pain and dehydration; keep drinking."
Gabrielle sipped some water and then pulled back asking, "I was what made you get in the middle of that mess?"
"No not exactly, I knew that you were right that madness was only making Aries happy. That pissed me off so I set off to end it. It was as simple as that."
"Gabrielle, don't you have enough on your shoulders right now? Let's just concentrate on easing your pain."
"You're doing that but I don't?"
"Shhh, that enough of this. I did it for all the right reasons. Please stop fussing?you did nothing wrong?"
"I endangered you?"
"No Gabrielle, I endangered you, I'm the one who thought it was no big deal to cut through a battle zone. I'm the one who put us in the middle of a war in the first place. You never would have been hurt if I wasn't so arrogant in my belief that I could handle it all. No it was me, not you?"
"I went out there with my eyes wide open?"
"I got us there in the first place?"
"I don't think of it like that?"
"Well, I don't either."
They were silent for few minutes then they smiled at each other and chuckled. Xena shook her head and said, "You do realize what a ridiculous argument that was, don't you?"
Another tiny smile and Gabrielle nodded her head. She was pale and sweaty and she lay back against the pillows suddenly sleepy too. "Yeah, I do?.um, I just care what you think of me."
Xena tilted her head as she replied with smirk, "I care what you think of me too. Right now though I am more concerned with how you feel. Nap time!"
As sleepy as she felt Gabrielle shook her head, "No Xena?"
"I could use alternative methods."
Gabrielle gulped and Xena had to bite her cheeks to keep from chuckling. "Come on you know sleep is the very best healer."
"I thought you were."
"Ok, ok," she said as she settled back against her pillow allowing herself to fall asleep as her body pulled her under the medicines power.
"That's a good girl you will feel a bit better in the morning."
"Go to sleep."
"Ok," she slurred as the gentle stroking against her hurt back lulled her to sleep.
*** *** *** ****
Green eyes blinked open, she didn't hurt at the moment but she knew as soon as she attempted to move she would.
Xena smiled from above her and said, "You know you will have to move sometime."
"How did you know what I was thinking?"
"Been there, done that, didn't like it a bit. Now put your hands at the curve of your back and very slowly raise yourself up. It will still hurt but not quite as bad."
Gabrielle did what she was told and moaned as she sat up. It did hurt but not a tenth as it had the day before. Xena was above her hands outstretched toward her and said, "Ok, grab on to my hands and stay very straight. I will pull you up so it will hurt as little as possible."
Xena gently pulled her up and into her arms cuddling her close. Gabrielle hung on to the taller woman with her arms around her neck with her head nestled against her shoulder. "Ok, Lets go wash up and then I want to put a cold compress on your back for a while then we'll switch to hot."
"I'm sorry," said Gabrielle quietly against the Warrior's neck.
"Why are you sorry?"
"For slowing you down."
"Um?. You know?.your?"
Xena slowly pulled back and tenderly cupped one of Gabrielle's cheeks in her hand as she replied in a whisper, "You are the most important thing in my whole life. All I want to do right now is help you to heal."
"But what about??"
Xena rolled her eyes, "You know as well as I do that there will always be thugs who want to take me on. As long as they are not hurting innocents I am not going to chase after every thug. And here we are in the middle of nowhere, I doubt anyone will turn up here. So lets work on easing your pain."
"Thank you Xena I do feel a bit better now."
"Your welcome, now lets try to get you to feel a whole lot better."
*** *** *** ***
Gabrielle was truly feeling human again for the first time since she hurt her back. She was lying on her stomach comfortably on her bedroll with a cold compress on her back. The icy coolness was easing the pain and making her feel like she would survive this thing.
Xena was working on an herbal remedy for Gabrielle. She smiled slightly as she looked at her friend the color was back in her cheeks and her breathing was now relaxed. She would never tell Gabrielle just how scared she had been the first night that she had hurt herself. She had been almost non-responsive a couple of times and as pale as death. She knew that it was a very bad sprain but she had never seen anyone react the way her friend did before and it terrified her.
I turned as pale as she did; no I think I turned green. I was so upset. She just needed to go and I was helping her because I knew it would be difficult for her. I never expected such a dramatic reaction. She fainted in my arms from the pain and it took me a while to revive her. I don't think I have ever been so scared before?no I would have just taken care of the person. I would not have reacted like I did with Gabrielle before. This was so very different.
She thought to herself as she carefully measured each herb for the medicine to help her friend heal even more. She looked at the now comfortable blonde and sighed, I have never seen anyone get so sick from some pulled muscles. I am going to have to keep an eye on her till she is completely healed; I have to make sure she drinks a lot of water. I can't let her get that dehydrated again.
She put the medicine down and started to work on the broth they would have for dinner. As she stirred she thought over her own reaction to what had happened. She knew it was very unusual. She was usually an efficient healer but she never got emotionally involved in her patients. She just helped them.
She had seen several times in their relationship how important Gabrielle was to her. After Thesally, she knew that her friend meant everything to her. Her reaction to this injury just reconfirmed what was already obvious to her; Gabrielle was now the center of her existence. She would do what ever she needed to make sure she was well, healthy and happy till she was no longer around to do protect her.
"What are we having for dinner?'
One eye opened, "With some kind healing herbs in it right?"
"Don't you want to get better?"
"Of course but?"
"Do you want it to take longer then necessary?"
"Stop with the buts, I don't want to hear it. Now stop being difficult and drink your medicine."
"Oh, ok," The eyes closed and Xena smiled as she stirred the broth over the fire. The broth needed to heat for about 15 minutes, and then she would add the herbs to Gabrielle's bowl. She started to work on repairing the leathers that she had only time to do temporary repairs to earlier.
"Nothing, I just wanted to make sure you were still there."
"Yep, I am not going anywhere," she said out loud and her smile broadened as she watch Gabrielle sigh in relief. Nope, I am never going anywhere if I can help it. She thought with an affectionate look at her now sleeping friend.