Timeline: Sometime during the third season.
Poem: The passage used is from a wonderful book entitled Imzadi by Peter David.
Author's Notes: Just another one of my quick short stories. All POSITIVE comments are welcome. Negatives I will simply ignore. Send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I awoke late for some odd reason. Gabrielle was already up. I could see her in the grass off to my left, practicing with her staff. As I sat up, I remembered a very strange dream, about Gabrielle. I sure hope I don't talk in my sleep. I stood, stretching. I turned and looked at her again. Seeing a stump, I sat and watched my friend. How in the world do I tell her that I had a passionate dream about her? Do I tell her?
Gabrielle is becoming a true master of the art of staff fighting. True, I have shown her the basics and a few of my own moves, but she has combined her style with mine. I watch as she thinks the movement out, tentatively strikes, and then strikes full force. She came up with a very impressive leg sweep just yesterday. The kicks I taught her are worked into her movements. I smile as she executes a perfect front kick with a twist combination. Wouldn't want to be on the end of that one. I see that she talks to herself as she thinks. I have never been one to think out loud, until met her. It actually helps with the creative process, as I have found.
She is barefoot. Her boots are here in camp. I know why. The grass is wet. She and I, though I don't think I'll ever admit it, love the feel of wet grass on our toes. Another habit I picked up from her. I find myself staring at firm, tan calves with a smile on my face. Whoa! What am I doing? I shake my head, clearing out that dream. She brings her right foot up and holds the kick, a true test of balance. She stands solid, not wavering in the slightest. Concentration is etched in her face as she swings her leg around into another kick, adding a slight yell. I grin and start to clap. She turns with a surprised look. Gabrielle bows. "Thank you, thank you." I stand and move across the grass to her, barefoot.
"How was that?"
"Great." She smiles at my compliment. "Wanna spar?"
"Sure." She brings her staff up. "Chase?"
"Yeah." I take up my stance.
Chase is a game we invented to improve her speed and ability to predict movement. I am the unarmed target and she tries to hit me. I used to call this an 'exercise', but I found that I have almost too much fun doing it. It is also a challenge for me. She is constantly inventing combinations. I have to do my best to dodge her attacks and counter with my own. When she does connect, she takes care not to hit me too hard. Not that I can't take it, but I really scared her when she struck me in the head. She rang my bell that day. I fell to the ground, blinked twice, and then passed out. She said I was out for over three hours. The first thing I said when I came to was, "Nice hit." Still, she felt guilty. It took me awhile to convince her to play with me again. I smile as I remember when her guilt phase ended and her bragging phase began. She told Autolycus and Hercules that she 'knocked me on my ass'. They teased me relentlessly. She even demonstrated for them which strike did it, but she never told anyone else. She could have told Joxer or my mother, but she didn't. It was our little secret.
I felt a strike to my leg. "Gotcha." she smiled. I was temporarily frozen by that smile.
"Are you okay, Xena?"
"Ohhh...yeah I'm fine. Just thinking."
"Your beautiful....breakfast!" I caught myself before I said it. "Breakfast. I was umm going to go down to the river and get a few trout." I gestured as I moved away and back to camp. She followed.
"Okay. I'll build a new fire."
"Great." I said a little loudly as I put on my boots. "I'll be back." I slapped my forehead when I was out of sight. "Beautiful breakfast." I hissed. "Idiot." I made my way to the river. I slid down the almost cliff like embankment.
It didn't take long to get three very nice trout. I crawled back up to the shore and started back to camp. Something brushed my senses. I scanned my surroundings, listening. Then the intruder stood in front of me. "Oh boy." I said to myself. It was fairly large bear. I looked down at the fish in my hand. Not good. I reached for my chakrum, only feeling my hip. Oh great. I left it back at the river. "Easy big fella." I started backing up, after dropping the fish. I saw all the signs at he was going to charge. I turned and ran. He ran right past my catch, after me. I ran the short distance back to the shore. I didn't stop until I jumped off the cliff, into the water. Knowing that is was not that deep, I went in feet first. I landed solidly in the mud of the bottom. My head surfaced. The water came to just below my chin. I moved to try and see my pursuer, but I couldn't turn around. My left foot was wedged into something. Realizing I couldn't move I yelled, "Gabrielle!" Almost immediately afterwards, I heard her voice. She was scaring off the bear.
"Xena," she called down. "What's wrong?" She knew that it was not just the bear or else I wouldn't have yelled for her.
"My leg." I groaned as I tried to move it. "I can't move."
"Hold on." I heard a big splash as she jumped off the cliff and into the water. She surfaced on my left. "Are you hurt?"
"I don't think so. My left foot is stuck." I watched as she took a deep breath and disappeared. Despite the fact I was stuck, I groaned as I felt her small hands as they brushed down my thigh and moved to my calf. I felt her give a healthy tug and my leg popped free. She resurfaced.
"I think you might have hurt your ankle. It was wedged between two rocks. Can you put any weight on it?"
"Yeah." She took my arm and helped me maneuver to shore. "Thank you."
"No problem. I get to save you for once." I smile at my bard.
"How did you show up so fast anyway?"
"I was following the bear. I caught him trying to loot our camp." She grinned as we climbed up and back to where I leaped off. I picked up my chakram and placed it on my hip. "When I saw he was heading for the river, I followed to make sure you'd be okay. Nice hustle by the way."
"You saw that huh?"
"Yep." she chuckled. We sloshed back to camp, picking up the untouched fish along the way.
We were both soaked. I removed my leathers and placed them near the fire to dry. I grabbed a spare shift out of my saddlebag. Gabrielle did not have one. So I was forced into watching her move through camp in nothing but her breeches. Not forced really, more like tortured. Those droplets of water clinging to that beautiful body. She did wrap a blanket around her frame when she got comfortable. We ate in silence, well I did. She commented on this and that while I ate. "Xena?"
"Did I do something wrong?"
"Huh?" I looked up from my breakfast. "No, of course not."
"Well you seem awful quiet since we came back from the river."
"I'm sorry. Just preoccupied I guess."
"With what?" How was I going to answer that, when I didn't know exactly why I feel this way?
"Its....a bunch of things. Nothing firm." Except those...Oh gods. I'm looking at her chest! I averted my eyes. I couldn't look my best friend in the eye anymore. I was looking everywhere, but her eyes. Damn dream!
The day continued much the same as the morning. Gabrielle wanted to stay here, rest. I can't deny her that. I have pushed her hard lately. Now we are bathed in firelight. I am not sharpening my sword tonight. I am merely watching her. I sit with my knees bent and my arms resting on top of them. She is writing some fantastical tale I bet. "What?" she grins without looking up. "Do I have a bug in my hair or something?"
"No." I chuckle. "I was wondering what you were writing."
"I'm writing about you."
"Me?" I ask. "Again?"
"Yes....Why do you keep staring at me, Xena?" Her eyes shoot up and lock with mine. I sighed.
"No reason. Bored I guess." I said, trying to sound that way. She didn't buy it. I knew better than to think she would. Before she could tell me that, I said, "Goodnight, Gabrielle." I turned over and crawled under my blanket.
"Xe...." She started to say as I turned over, not being able to face her. "Never mind." she said softly.
Oh gods, Gabrielle." I moaned. "I love you so much....Please love me." My eyes shot open. Same dream, almost. This time I was talking while she caressed my body and made love to me. This morning Gabrielle was still asleep when I woke. I laid in my bedroll and watched the rise and fall of her body with each breath she took. I couldn't stop myself. I crawled over to her and placed myself next to her. Her hair shined. It always does. The blanket was at her waist, leaving that taunt stomach open to my gaze. Knowing she's a sound sleeper, I reached out and ran my hand over that tummy. What am I doing?! Get your hands off her! I chastised myself, but it wasn't working because I was still touching her. Now my hand was on her bare breast. I closed my eyes and relished in the feel of that flesh in my grasp. My thumb grazed her nipple. I was surprised to see it react to my touch. Fearing I would wake her, I moved my hand to her neck, feeling her pulse point. It was slow. She was still asleep. My fingers continued until they brushed lightly against her cheek. You are beautiful, my bard. Mine? She wasn't mine. I was hers. Even if she doesn't hear it from me with passion, while she is awake, I still wanted to say it. "I love you with all my heart. That's why I stare at you." I whispered softly into her ear. I realized I was barely breathing as I touched my companion. If she ever knew I did this, she would leave me. I just know it.
Those consequences didn't stop me though. I am possessed by something. There is no way I would do this on my own. I closed my eyes and pressed my lips to hers. Oh so soft lips. I have only felt them on two occasions. I want more. I ran my tongue down over her neck. A hand shot up and went into my hair. Oh gods! She's awake! "Xen..." Before I heard the 'Get off me!' I silenced her with my mouth. Her mouth opened quickly and I dove in. I was not going to miss this once in a lifetime chance. I heard a moan rise from her throat. I almost missed that because her hips started grinding against mine. The sensation stopped the kiss cold and I groaned loudly.
"Oh...I love you." I breathed as I descended to her mouth again. She didn't have a chance respond, at least with her voice. She reached down and moved the blanket between us. I came to the sudden conclusion that she was naked, totally and completely. Now I know
she went to bed with her breeches on. Oh who cares! I rotated my hips with a moan.
"Xena stop." she said on my lips. My head flew up, my eyes wide.
"Oh gods, Gabrielle. What am I doing?" I scooted away from her.
"Hey, get back here." she said sternly. I moved cautiously back to her side. Her hands snaked out and grabbed my shift. I was mesmerized as she pulled off my garment. I looked at her, she looked at me. "Why didn't you tell me?" I shrugged.
"You deserve better than me." I admitted. The fire in her eyes was very noticeable. She hates it when I put myself down, but I didn't state anything that wasn't true. "I'm dark...and your light." She held up her hand.
"I love you, Xena....Do you want to love me?"
"Yes." I whisper.
"Then bring your beautiful butt over here." she said with a smile. I was more than happy to oblige. I leaned forward and followed her down to the bedroll.
I sank into her body. It was better than my dream. Ten times better. I heard every tiny sound she made, every syllable of my name. Her small hands clung to my forearms as she climaxed. Her small body shaking under mine. "I love you, Gabrielle." I kissed her temple as I listened to her breathing as it normalized.
"Love you." she mumbled from under me. I moved off her, pulling her to me. I just made love to my best friend, my bard. I glance over and notice that my love is fast asleep, with a content look on her face. My eyes were getting heavy too. I thought I had more stamina, but I guess not. My eyes were drifting shut.
When she awoke, still my arms, she was smiling. "Morning." she yawned. Looking down at herself and then over at me, she said, "It wasn't a dream after all." Ironic choice of words. I pulled the sleeping fur closer around us as a morning breeze blew through.
"Afraid not." I smiled.
"What's this?" She reached for a piece of scroll she spotted near my feet. She returned her head to my shoulder.
"Uhh that's mine." I reached for it, but she snatched it away. "Give it to me." I grinned. She started to read it. I closed my eyes. She is going to laugh in my face.
I hold you close to me
Feel the breath of you, and the wonder of you
And remember a time
But only as one would remember
A bleak and distant nightmare
And you shudder against me in your sleep
Do you share with me the memories of dark times past?
And you smile
Do you share the memory of times to come?
The future holds such promise
And just as I cannot imagine how I survived the past
I cannot imagine a future
I watched her as she read. No emotion showed on her face. Gabrielle looked up and met my gaze, staring. " I know its trash." I sighed. "Give it back." I again I reach for it and again she pulled it away.
"This is beautiful, Xena." A wide smile broke across her face.
"I wrote it this morning." I said quietly. "I didn't think it was any good...You're the bard."
"I love it."
"Yes....and I love you." I reached for her and held her. She snuggled into my body so naturally. "Xena?"
"I don't sleep want to sleep on the other side of the fire anymore." I smiled.
"You can sleep right here." I rubbed her back gently.