-as sung by Sarah McLachlan on 'Rarities, B-sides and other Stuff'
And Water'd Heaven With Their Tears. . .
details from the ep. 'Is There a Doctor in the House?' were altered
during the production of this fanfic, but for lovin'
purposes.** SUBTEXT ALERT!!
Gabrielle had been in the nicest place, a meadow that seemed idealized in it's existence. Never in any of the places she had been to had she seen such a peaceful, beautiful spot. She was walking in from the outside edge, into this big green meadow, the green so bright and healthy that she thought it should hurt her eyes. It occurred to her momentarily that she didn't seem to have eyes.
There were other. . .beings here too, and she seemed to recognize her. Her grandma, this is who this energy ball to her left. . .left?. . .was. And over here, her uncle, oh she had cried at his funeral. . .wait. If she was here, among the dead, then surely she was dead aswell. She was here, in the Elysian Fields.
What had happened to take her away from the land of the living? The war, the Thesslonions, Ephiny, her little centaur baby. Gabrielle had ran out there, been attacked. She had been in so much pain, so much agony. She had never felt that much suffering in her whole life. Xena over her, hands so gentle, not a warrior when she touched you. Stitching up her neck, quick, efficient movements. No one had seen how her right hand, hidden under Gabrielle's neck, had been lightly caressing her. Comforting her, connecting with her bard, so only the warrior and the bard knew.
Oh, Xena. As she wandered through the Elysian Fields, love all around her, she felt her soul ache. She had left Xena, she was here alone, so alone. Maybe-maybe this was how it was supposed to be. Maybe this was for the better. Xena had always seemed to be reluctantly bringing Gabrielle with her. Maybe she was doing Xena a favor, and her thinking that she would be grieving Gabrielle's death was probably just self-flattery. Yet even though she thought of this all, the ache within didn't seem to get any duller.
That was when she heard it. It was very faint, like a whisper floating on the gentle breeze that winded its way across the Fields. It was a voice, so familiar, saying her name. Gabrielle stopped her procession, and turned towards the noise. Her hearing seemed to come from every side of her, and she found that as she focused on the voice, everything else grew dim.
It was someone begging her to fight, to come back, to not leave her- Gabrielle froze. It's Xena. She's-she's. . .begging me to come back, to not leave her, fight she's saying over and over, fight, fight, fight, don't you leave me. Gabrielle began to feel a pounding on her chest, realizing she had a chest again, a semi-formed body at least. Oh, and Xena. Xena's crying, sobbing even. She can't ever remember Xena sobbing, especially not like that. Gods, could that mean, that maybe, Xena feels the same towards her as she did for the warrior? She had to go back, to Xena, to see for herself, to see Xena's face.
The ball of souls around her try to deter her, try to keep her there. Gabrielle began to flail aimlessly, fighting, struggling. No, I can't stay here. You don't understand, I love her, and she just may love me. No I can't be here for so long without her. I miss her already. Please let me go to her, let me go to Xena. I need her, and she needs me. Listen, I say, listen to her voice, begging, weeping for me. This isn't my time. This is my time to be with Xena, my Xena.
Gabrielle turned around sharply to be face to face with Athena. Glowing, beautiful, wise, the owl sitting high and noble upon her shoulder. Just like that grand, tall statue in the Parthenon, in Athens. Overwhelming in her reserved and confident power. She's speaking. This isn't your time to be here, Gabrielle. Go back to the warrior princess. Is that Aphrodite and Cupid I see smiling broadly over her shoulder?
Suddenly I am falling, from an incredible height. Colours blur beside as I fall in such rapid speed. And then I am back. My body reacts, sucking in a great gasp of air, my whole being springing back to life. She is here, all I can see is her hovering over me like some beautiful Nike, she fills my entire world. She pulls me up into her embrace, coddling me like a mother to a child, grasping me in a tight grip with her hands.
Gabrielle grasped her wrists, and gazed up at her in awe. Tears, there are tears in her eyes, her beautiful blue eyes, now so happy, tears of sorrow, of disbelief, now tears of joy. Oh Xena, and I thought I wasn't even wanted here. Gabrielle looked up at her, not registering others around her bed, or even what Xena was saying. Just watching, seeing her mouth, pink, so soon before crumpled in sobs like a child's, now forming her words. Her voice ringing like a reckoning in Gabrielle's ears, like the speech of a goddess. She looking upon me again, speaking with such love, saying I preformed the miracle here. No, Xena. It was you. You brought me back, after the fight had left me. Your voice, your touch, your refusal to let me go.
Xena kissed her bard's forehead, clutching the young girl's head to her breast, holding on like she would never let go ever again. This had been too close, she had actually lost Gabrielle, her Gabrielle, for a while there. And as sure as this young woman was in her arms right now, she was not going to let it happen again.
The crowd that had gathered about them as all the events had taken place was dispersing now, the drama seemingly over. Even those who had watched with such great interest, those who had interjected, realized this was becoming a private moment. They need to connect in their own way, needed it to be the warrior and the bard, binding one to the other in that silent way which no one would be aware of. Xena's hand was on Gabrielle's neck, and it gently caressed her, speaking in the silence. I'm here, Gabrielle, don't worry, I'm right here.
Gabrielle was too overwhelmed to even attempt at muttering a word. Xena still had her pulled into her embrace, still rocked her slightly, looking down, their eyes locked. The tears that had been resting in Xena's eyes before now trailed down her cheeks. Gabrielle felt her own chin trembling. No words could say it, no words needed to. Gabrielle could hear Xena as clearly as she had in the Elysian Fields, her actions speaking the words. She was terrified, that Gabrielle had almost left her, that she had almost been left here all alone. Almost, almost, almost. Her mind reeled at how close it had been.
Xena begun to take deep breaths, trying to calm herself, to get her self-control back. Gabrielle had never seen Xena in such a state, in this place of complete emotional chaos. She, even now, held Gabrielle to her body with such intimacy, an intimacy foreign not only between her and the bard, but to Xena in general. Was this the same woman who flinched whenever Gabrielle would grasp her hand in a crowd? Xena held her with the tenderness of a lover, gently stroking Gabrielle's cheek, still kissing her forehead every once in a while.
"You-you. . .um. . ." Xena struggled to speak, trying to keep it lighthearted, yet her voice clogged with tears. "You gave me quite the scare there, little bard."
"I heard you." Gabrielle's voice cracked as she spoke so softly Xena had to lean towards her to catch it. "I heard you, asking me to fight. To not leave you. I had thought that me leaving was for the best, but then I heard. . ."
Gabrielle was trying so damned hard to fight her fatigue, but it was now overtaking her, her body so warm in Xena's arms, feeling so safe, protected. Surely Death itself could not claim her here as she laid in her warrior's strong embrace. Before she dropped off completely she twined her weak fingers in Xena's hair, pulling her down to her. "Please stay here with me while I sleep. . .in case. . ."
"Shh, Gabrielle, go to sleep. I won't leave, you know I won't." Xena began to rock her again, gently swaying, caressing the young girl's neck with her fingers, playing with the fine hairs there. "Sleep, my bard, I won't leave you ever again, I promise."
Gabrielle finally dozed off, slipping into Morpheus' comforting arms. Xena held her tightly, the tears still tracking their way down her cheeks. That had been close. Too close. Her heart was still going a thousand beats a minute. Even when Gabrielle's death had been looking her in the face, Xena refused to accept it. She wondered about when it really was Gabrielle's time, if she would be able to let her go, if she would know it was her time. Xena's life without this little red head seemed a very cold, dark place. The thought made Xena grip her tighter, hold her closer to her body. When had she become so dependent on this little girl? When had she allowed her to get a hand on her heart? It frightened Xena, the amount of hold that this sleeping girl had over her. It had been a long, long time since Xena had ever felt like this towards another, and even then it had been nothing like this.
But now, now she had to be strong again, had to be the warrior. Gabrielle was still weak, out of the woods, yes, but still very sick. Xena needed to be strong, to help Gabrielle recover. To help in these negotiations. And Ephiny, help to her a safe place. They would have to rest for awhile while Gabrielle's bones mended. Maybe they would stop at the Amazon camp where they took Ephiny, let them help take care of their Queen. Most of all Xena had to get her control back for her own sake. It had been a long time since she had gone completely hysterical and frantic like she had. She took this time, quiet, undisturbed, unnoticed, with her bard in her arms, alive and safe, to regain her composure and smooth out all the emotional wrinkles.
After a half a candlemark, the tears had stopped and her breathing calmed. She had loosened her iron grip on Gabrielle considerably. In fact, now, as she stared down at the sleeping bard, she was terrified. Terrified that this woman's passing had invoked such a feverent and crazed state in her. She shouldn't have put so much of her emotional stability on Gabrielle. It was frightening for Xena to think what she would do, where her mind would go if Gabrielle were to leave her. She owed it to herself, and to Gabrielle, to try and break this dependency, regain the emotional distance she had desperately tried to keep intact in the start of their time together. The wall was already going up.
Maramax said he would gladly arrange for some of his men to bring Ephiny to the nearest Amazon camp, so some of the load was taken off her shoulders. He also had insisted that she take Gabrielle to his mother's old home, empty now, and they could stay there undisturbed for awhile. He knew Xena couldn't help Gabrielle get well if constantly worrying about being attacked. She had agreed to his offer, thanking him, but he wouldn't allow her to, saying it was the least he could do.
When he had returned awhile later to say his final farewells, Gabrielle had awoken while Xena was away. When she returned to her bedside, Xena was upset to see that she had awoken without her beside her.
"I'm sorry Gabrielle, I just stepped out to talk to Maramax, I was here the whole time, I promise-"
"It's alright Xena." Gabrielle smiled weakly at her, taking the warrior's hand in hers and squeezing it. Xena jumped at the contact and pulled her hand away. She couldn't meet the confused gaze Gabrielle gave her, instead fiddled with the bard's bandages.
"Maramax has offered us a place to stay for awhile, so that you can rest, mend. It's a nice private home, well-protected and off the beaten path according to him. Does, um, does that sound okay to you?" she spoke with a nervous undertone, her hands moving about almost aimlessly.
"That's fine." Gabrielle spoke in a soft voice, under her breath. She felt lost as to Xena's withdrawal, how the warrior had closed all her emotional doors.
"Kay, I'll go and settle everything here. You okay to meet me outside in about 10 minutes?" Gabrielle nodded meekly, and with that Xena turned and went to her business.
Gabrielle sighed with a great amount of sadness, and pushed herself up into the sitting position. Xena's arms would really help me right now she thought as she struggled to sit up with her badly bruised ribs. As soon as she thought it, arms were around her, stiffly, but there, helping her to her feet. She turned around to find Xena there, still avoiding her eyes.
"Thank you." again it was soft, barely
audible. Xena nodded slightly, then left her again. Ye gods,
Gabrielle thought this is gonna be a fun little time out for
They arrived at the small cottage the next afternoon, the trip being a slow process due to Gabrielle's injuries. Xena had helped her as they traveled, taking her arm on occasion, letting her ride over rough terrain, and even resting much more than usual. But it all seemed very sterile to Gabrielle, very uncaring. For as Xena would help her she would avoid the bard's eyes, and barely spoke two words to her the entire trip.
When they arrived, Xena made up the big comfy bed first off for Gabrielle, filling up the mattress with new hay and grass, putting on the softest pillows and sheets and layering it with blankets. Gabrielle sat in the corner, smiling to herself as she watched the warrior do this, seeing this little gesture of seemingly benign affection. When Xena was done she turned to Gabrielle and held out her hand.
"Come get in here, Gabby." It was the first full sentence she had said to her since they left the temple, not to mention the fact that she was actually looking her in the eye now.
Gabrielle stood up with much effort and pain in her sides and hobbled over to the bed. Xena very gently put her hands under her arms, picked her up and put her in the bed, like a mother to a little child. She tucked the blankets in around her, propping her up on the pillows, smoothing out all the sheets. Finally, once she was convinced she was settled she laid a soft hand on her forehead.
"Your forehead's a little warm, Gabrielle, are you sure you're okay?" Gabrielle nodded, with a small smile at her concern. "Well, you sleep, and I'll fix up everything in here."
Gabrielle laid her head back and watched as her warrior moved about in a hushed pace. She was no fool, she knew the reason for Xena's emotional distance. She was scared now, that she had freaked out in front of her, in front of so many people, and now she was trying to hide again. She always hid behind the emotionally- blank warrior shield, it was the only thing that kept her sane in the past. But now is different, Xena, now you have to face up to these feelings, admit that I am a part of you, that you need me with you.
As she watched Xena move about, she felt her eyelids grow heavy, and soon she was drifting off. She was just in the beginning layers of sleep when she felt a hand on her face, softly caressing her cheek. She knew it was Xena.
The hand was so gentle, barely even there, moving up into her hair, lightly stroking it. Gabrielle turned her face and laid against the hand, nuzzling into it. This reaction must have spooked Xena, for she drew away quickly. She felt her face grow cold without the warmth of Xena's touch there, and an unconscious frown line formed between her eyebrows.
"Xena," she said, her eyes still closed.
"Gabrielle? Are you awake?" the warrior watched as the younger girl sat up in bed, gingerly, and faced her. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to- I was just checking your fever and-"
"Xena, do you want me to leave you?" Gabrielle asked, ignoring Xena's stumbling.
"What?! Gabrielle, how can you even ask something like that after what we've just gone through?" This had snapped Xena's attention to the forefront, and she had leaned forward to grasp the bard's arms in her hands, looking at her with wide eyes.
"You just seem very annoyed with my presence since- since I woke up, and I feel like I'm burdening you. . ." It was a fib, Gabrielle knew what was wrong with Xena, but she had learned over the years that the straight out approach rarely worked with anyone, making them feel trapped instead of revealed.
"No, no, that's not it. . ." Xena voice went soft, her eyes floating down to the hands that were now encased in the bard's. White little dimpled hands, soft, unmarred, holding her brown, sword calloused ones. Like a child to a mother. . . Then added with a bare whisper "You could never be a burden to me."
Gabrielle watched the warrior's downturned face for awhile, waiting for her to admit what was wrong. She knew Xena enough to know that even her emotional walls wouldn't keep her from losing the bard.
"I-I. . ." she was struggling, fiddling with the bard's long white fingers, her eyes already filling with tears. "I was scared."
Gabrielle was surprised that Xena was even able to say that out loud. Fear, loss of control and all their siblings were not things that the warrior admitted up to readily. She could feel Xena's tears splashing onto their joined hands, as she waited, waited for her warrior to open her heart again.
"I am scared," her voice was a whisper, slightly wavering from her tears. "It's been awhile since I lost control like that, since I had a reason to. I couldn't even fathom or try to envision life without you, Gabrielle, and it scared the life outta me."
"That's good to know, Xena," Gabrielle said now, her words drawing Xena's sparkling, tear-filled eyes up to her own misted green ones, "Cause I'm not going to be leaving you for a long time yet."
Xena bit in her bottom lip upon hearing these words, trying so hard to hold back the tears of joy, of relief, trying to keep her control, trying to stay the warrior. . .
"Xena, let it go, it's just me here now. It's alright." Gabrielle pulled Xena's chin up to face her, drying the stray tears that had fallen. They locked eyes for a while, then Xena began to move.
She stood up and unhooked her armor, laying them aside, then removed her boots to crawl up into the bed beside her bard. Xena got under the blankets and laid a ways away from Gabrielle, not wanting to crowd her, yet looking at her with eyes desperate to hold her close.
"Come here," Gabrielle said laying her
arms open. Xena smiled the most relieved smile as she scooted over to
her bard's arms and was taken into the most loving, warm embrace
she'd felt in so long. Her she was able to let the tears fall, let
the woman replace the warrior, as she burrowed into the softness of