Changes of Heart: Knowledge
By CN Winters
"Up and over. Up and over. Again. Up and over."
August released a deep sigh and let the staff fall to the ground. "I told you I dont want to be a warrior."
Gabrielle released a sigh of her own and picked up the fallen weapon. "Thats good," she said as she tossed it back to her student. "But this training isnt about war. Its about self-reliance and protection. If youre gonna be living in a big city like Athens you better damn well know how to protect yourself."
"Arent you the one who said to run away if trouble comes?" August questioned.
"Yes," the bard answered. "But there might be a time when you have to stand and fight. If that time comes its better to be prepared."
"Okaaay," August groaned and rolled her eyes.
Impulsive, stupid kid. Come on breath Gabrielle. Take it easy. "August," Gabrielle said in the most even voice she could muster, "why dont we take a break from this huh? Go see if you can work on your fishing skills and get us some lunch okay?"
August grumbled as she went to the fishing poles. "Yet another skill I dont need fishing. There are tons of inns and taverns in Athens."
Gabrielle heard the comment but let it go. Sure there are lots of place to eat but lots of places want money and if money is short you have to make due. "Oh boy," Gabrielle sighed as she made her way over to Eponin who was trying to hold back a chuckle. She plopped down next to Eponin with a soft thud. She was already exhausted from todays lessons not a physical tired but an emotional and intellectual tired. For every reason Gabrielle gave in their discussions August had a counter point.
"Shes a head strong kid," Eponin remarked. "Not unlike a certain amazon princess once upon a time."
"You must be thinking of some OTHER amazon princess because it certainly couldnt be me that youre making the comparison to," Gabrielle grinned.
"Ohhh noooo," Eponin teased.
Gabrielle considered for a moment. "Was I really like THIS?" she asked, waving a hand toward August who was now at the riverbank, casting off.
"Like her? No. You were a different kind of head strong," Eponin answered.
"Meaning you had ideals but you didnt narrow yourself into a corner. August is very used to village life. I think shes going to have difficulty adjusting but who knows a few more weeks with us, a small scuffle to see how dangerous life really is . . . it might be enough to turn her around."
Gabby watched the young woman as Eponin spoke.
"You do realize shes in love with you dont you?" Eponin remarked.
"Yeah I realize."
Now or never. "You do realize that Im in love with you dont you?"
Eponin could feel herself swallow hard. There - I said it. Gabrielle gave a crooked grin but continued to watch the young woman in front of her.
"Yeah I realize."
Eponin played with one of the sais that Gabby gave her to hold onto during the staff sparing session with August. The longer the silence lasted the heavier it felt in her grasp.
"So tell me the truth," Eponin asked when Gabrielle didnt add more. "After all these weeks on the road so far . . . do you think its possible for a lovely, young lady like yourself to fall for an aging ex-amazon with graying hair?"
Gabrielle turned to face her companion, hoping to choose the right words. "Its me . . . Im not ready to move on . . . but if I were . . . then yes Id say its quite possible. "
"Well Ill tell you what?" Eponin said cheery, rising to her knees to face Gabrielle.
"What?" Gabrielle smiled warmly.
Eponin closed the distance between them to where they were mere inches apart and her voice took on a deeper, more serious tone. "Ill stick it out my queen and when youre ready . . . Im all yours."
Eponin closed the distance and proceeded to leave a slow burning kiss on Gabrielles lips. Gabrielle for her part felt herself sinking into the kiss. Oh my! How longs it been since Ive been kissed like this? Dont worry. Just enjoy. Her eyes closed and she could feel her temperature go up a notch. When she felt Eponin pull away she opened her eyes to see her friend smiling at her.
"Shh," the ex-amazon said placing a soft finger against her lips. "Whatever argument youre going to give please dont." Gabrielle complied and with that Eponin rose to her feet and dusted herself off. "Im gonna help the young one with lunch. Why dont you get a fire started."
Gabrielle could only nod and soon she watched Eponin walk over to August to give her a few pointers before she mindlessly began picking up sticks.
Oh boy. Oh boy. Oh boy. Come on Gabrielle. Dont start feeling guilty here. It was just a kiss. A wonderful intense mind to the sex to the toes to the sex again kinda kiss. But still its just a kiss. And besides youre free. You washed your hands of the warrior princess. You dont owe her anything. Youre not being unfaithful. Of course you were almost unfaithful that night you learned Xena was pregnant and you were SURE she cheated on you . . . but that was different. You were drunk and angry and if not for Amarise stumbling into the back of that tavern you might have very well did more than share one kiss with that barmaid . . . That was foolish and stupid . . . but this is nothing to feel foolish or stupid about. Eponin is a wonderful friend and judging by that kiss shes probably a wonderful lover. But no more kisses. Youve got to figure out what you want for your life before you bring anyone else into it . . . Okay . . . What was I doing? . . . Oh yeah, firewood.
"Look at this!"
The excited voice of August waving a huge salmon in Gabrielle face caught her attention to say the least.
"And she did it all on her own," Eponin commended, patting the girl on the back.
Gabrielle smiled. "And I bet it will taste better than any fish you could buy in Athens," Gabby winked.
"Can you show me how to cut it Eponin?" the young woman asked wiggling it in front of her.
"You mean gut not cut . . . and yes Ill show you," Eponin said waving the girl over to a nearby rock. "Come on over."
Gabrielle watched her sidekicks begin the procedure as Eponin took a moment to look up and admire the bard for a moment before getting to her task. She gave a small wink and Gabrielle could feel herself blush.
"This trip is turning out a lot longer than I plan," Gabrielle mumbled to no one but herself. "and quite educational."
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