Xena and Gabrielle belong to Rob Tabert, Sam Raimi and Ren Pic. I thank them for letting me use them in this story.
I portray Xena and Gabrielle as lovers although there is very little sex in this story. People who find love offensive should not read this work.
This is my first effort at Xena fan fic so I hope someone out there finds it enjoyable. Comments are very welcome. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I wrote this piece as a continuation of the episode Siege of Amphipolis. Think of it as happening a week or so after Xena, Gabrielle, and Eve leave Xenas home village on their way to a new adventure.
AN INTIMATE CONVERSATION
BY JACKIE F.
It had been a hot day. Now the temperature was cooling with the deepening twilight. A fresh north breeze stirred through the trees, bringing the pleasant scent of pine into the small clearing. The fire crackled and popped cheerily as the moisture in the green branches vaporized and exploded out of the wood. Gabrielle lay on her blankets, her head resting on her saddle.
"Ooohhh, youre getting so big," she cooed. "Yes you are, so very big."
She lifted the baby up to the limit of her arms then slowly brought her down till their noses lightly touched. Eve gurgled and smiled with delight. The bard laughed and kissed her and pushed her up into the air again with a whooshing sound. Eve giggled and a drop of spittle fell from her lips and splashed on Gabrielles cheek.
"Im telling you, girl," the bard grimaced as she gave the babe a gentle shake, "this teething thing is driving me crazy, yes it is, driving me crazy."
She brought Eve down and hugged her close.
"I never thought such a little person could produce so much drool. Are you sure theres not a river flowing through that tiny body?"
She stroked Eves fine black hair and kissed the top of her head as the baby snuggled on a warm, familiar breast.
"I dont know which is worse," the Warrior Princess said as she walked into the circle of firelight with a string of trout and a fishing pole on her shoulder, "the drooling down my stomach or those two tiny teeth chewing on my nipple."
Gabrielle smiled up at her partner, then laughed.
"It is hilarious to see those faces you make while shes nursing," she said. "Theyre even funnier than that thing you do with your tongue when I bring you to an orgasm."
Xena made a dismissive, youre so clever, face and sat down on a log across the fire from the bard. She started unstringing the fish to ready them for cooking.
"Is she hungry yet?" she asked, glancing at Eve.
"No, were not hungry yet, are we little gurgle pot" Gabrielle cooed as she rubbed Eves back. "In fact, I think were about ready to fall asleep arent we. Yes we are."
As if on cue, Eve stretched her little arms and yawned. The two women looked at each other and shared a smile. Gabrielle carefully eased the drowsy baby off her breast and placed her in the little nest of blankets beside her and pulled one over her and tucked her in. Eve yawned again, then her face relaxed and became placid with sleep. The bard leaned down and kissed her cheek.
"Good night little love," she whispered.
Xena pulled the knife from her boot and began cleaning the fish. The bard lay back and stared up into a clear night sky milky with stars. There was a long silence as Xena expertly gutted and cleaned her catch and arranged them in the battered frying pan. They had just started to lightly sizzle when Gabrielles gaze shifted to the Warrior Princess.
Gabrielle took a breath and swallowed.
"Did you really feel something with Ares?" she asked. "When the two of you were groping each other back there in Amphipolis?"
The Warrior Princess frowned. She did not look up from her cooking.
"Gabrielle, why are you still thinking about that?" she said, exasperation in her voice. "I told you I didnt feel anything."
"No," the bard said evenly, "first you said you did, then when I asked you about it you said you didnt, then you got all defensive and insisted that I drop it."
Xena took a deep breath, it came out as a growl in her throat.
"Gabrielle," she said, a hint of anger in her tone, "why are we talking about this? Its last weeks news. Lets worry about this week. God knows theres enough to worry about."
The bard let her eyes drift back up to the sky and let out a long unhappy sigh.
Xena stared into her pan of broiling fish, and did not notice as they began to burn, her face set hard, eyes concentrated but distant. The tension in the air crackled louder than the blackening trout. Gabrielle rubbed her eyes and started to roll over, her back to Xena,, but she caught herself and forced herself to roll the other way to face her partner. She took a breath and let it out as she gazed at the Warrior Princess hunched over the fire, her powerful, athletic form motionless as a statue, the dancing light of the fire giving her face a yellow glow that made those intense blue eyes even more startling in their cold, crystal clarity. She watched as a slow, lazy curl of smoke began to rise from the frying pan.
Xenas eyes focused and shifted to the bard.
"Gabrielle," she rumbled. "I really dont want to talk about that pathetic excuse for a god. Cant we just leave it alone."
"I just wanted to say, Xena," the bard said quietly, "the fish are burning."
The Warrior Princess looked at the contents of her pan. She flipped the fish around a little and then with a disgusted sigh flung the blackened trout over her shoulder and into the night. She threw the pan to the ground with a contemptuous snap of her wrist, then straightened and wearily rubbed her face with both hands before putting them on her knees. The silence in the air was long and uncomfortable. Gabrielle absently fiddled with the blanket over Eve, shifting and tucking to make it more comfortable. Finally she looked up at Xena staring into the darkness.
She took a breath and swallowed.
"Xena," she said in a near whisper, "why cant we talk anymore? About something besides Eve I mean. I " she hesitated and bit her lip, "I miss talking to you."
"Gabrielle," Xena replied, tension unmistakable in her voice, "with all thats happening I really dont see what talking has to do with " The Warrior Princess stopped and sucked in a breath. She turned her head away and let it leak out. Slowly she ran a hand through her long raven hair and her shoulders seemed to slump.
Gabrielle stared at her friend for a moment, eyes filled with emotion, then she lay back and a drop of water escaped her eye and trickled down the side of her head into her ear. She closed her eyes and sniffed and wiped her nose with the back of her hand. She felt so alone it was frightening. Like her connection to the world had been cut and she was drifting in some black void. The only sensations were the pounding of her heart and the hollow emptiness in her belly.
Suddenly there was a rustling of movement and the bard opened her eyes to see Xena standing close. The Warrior Princess bent down and began rolling up the blankets of her bedroll where they were laid out next to Eves nest. Since her birth the friends had always put down their blankets with a space for Eve between them. Gabrielles heart pounded harder and a tremor of overpowering fear passed through her body as she watched Xena finish rolling the blankets and pick up the saddle she used for a pillow, but she said nothing. Silence had become such a habit these last months that now there did not seem to be any words to speak.
Xena looked down for an instant into the bards green watery eyes, then walked around her feet to the other side and put down the saddle by hers and began rolling out her blankets so close to Gabrielles that the edges overlapped. The bard let out a long trembling breath, then started helping straighten and smooth the roll to make a comfortable bed. Finally Xena was satisfied. She stood by the blankets and began removing her armor and weapons and laying them aside. But to Gabrielles surprise she didnt stop with the weapons. She carefully unlaced and pulled off her boots and then peeled out of her tight leathers till she stood naked in the flickering light of the campfire.
Gabrielle gazed up with concerned, uncertain eyes.
"Xena," she said, "you dont have to do this. I I just meant that I miss you. I want to talk to you again. We dont have to touch till youre really ready. I know it wasnt an easy birth and with all these damn gods chasing us "
"Do I look that bad Gabrielle," Xena interrupted with a slight smile. She moved her hand over her flat abdomen. "Are the stretch marks so obvious. I know the breasts are a little saggy. But that will get better when Eve stops nursing."
"Please Xena," the bard smiled, "you know youre the most beautiful woman Ive ever seen. Even with the stretch marks and droopy tits." The smile faded into intense, serious emerald eyes. "Youll always be the most beautiful woman Ive ever seen," she said with a husk in her voice.
The hard sparkle of the Warrior Princess blue orbs softened. She lowered herself down onto her bed beside Gabrielle. For a long moment they lay facing each other, gazing into each others eyes. Finally Xena reached out and gently caressed the bards cheek.
"My strength is my weakness, Gabrielle," she said in a low, intense voice. "For so long now Ive been completely focused on Eve. Every thought, every emotion centered totally around her. The terrible truth is Ive hardly spared a thought for you. Ive " Xena sighed, "Ive just gone on the assumption that you would always be here, that I could always depend on you in every way."
"Xena I "
Xena put a finger over the bards lips.
"And youve never disappointed me, Gabrielle. Never once."
Xenas hand moved down Gabrielles chin and throat till it was gently massaging her shoulder.
"Ive neglected you, havent I, sweetheart," she whispered. "Ive neglected the most important person in my life. Ive let my focus shut out everything, the way it always does, and its shut you out."
Her hand moved up and stroked the bards short blonde hair, her eyes becoming round and soft and pale blue.
"Im sorry," she said huskily.
The bards eyes were as soft as her partners. She put her hand over Xenas where it rested on her head and squeezed. For a long moment they gazed deeply into each others hearts through the open, unguarded portals of their eyes. Finally Xena let her fingers brush lightly over Gabrielles beautiful face.
"Were you worried, Gabrielle?" she asked, her eyes becoming intense, "because you neednt be. My heart is yours. My soul is yours. Always. My commitment to you is my greatest pleasure and the only thing of permanence that I will take out of this transitory existence."
"No, I wasnt worried, Xena," the bard said, rubbing the Warrior Princess arm, "its just that these last months, weve talked to each other so little, been so overwhelmed with everything thats happening, that I "
The bard hesitated. Xena touched her cheek, the look on her face begging her to continue.
"I I wonder sometimes," Gabrielle began again, "just who I am. I " she shrugged helplessly, " I know that doesnt make sense, but its how I feel. Youre a mother Xena. Eve is part of you, grown and birthed from your womb. You have that connection that can never be broken. Her life, her welfare are your greatest concern, just as it should be, but. . . but Im not sure how I should feel. Im not sure what I should do. And what I shouldnt do." The bard swallowed painfully through the lump in her throat. "Its just that I feel so so uncertain and lost sometimes. I dont know if Im doing right or wrong or too little or too much or " The bard hesitated. Her chin quivered a moment. "I love her too, Xena," she finally whispered. "So much."
The Warrior Princess face was a mask of inexpressible sadness and angry self-reproach.
"Oh sweetheart," she said, the words coming out in a low moan. "Ive failed you terribly havent I. So terribly."
Xena brought her head forward till her forehead lightly pressed against Gabrielles. For a long moment the two partners touched, eyes closed, hearts overflowing with the deepest of emotions. Finally Xena pulled back and looked deeply into shining green emeralds.
"I I dont share myself, my feelings, very well, Gabrielle. Its always the hardest thing for me to do," she said. "I guess I hope my actions will be enough to tell you whats in my heart. But sometimes it isnt is it?"
Xena caressed Gabrielles cheek as an intense sparkle illumined her blue eyes.
"Let me tell you who you are, my precious love," she said. "You are the other half of Eve. The same as you are the other half, the best half, of me. You are our childs parent, her other mother. Shes yours as much as mine. We are partners for life, Gabrielle. You know we are. Its our shared destiny. And the life Eve has as she grows will be the product of our love." A slight smile flashed across Xenas lips. "And of the arguments well have over whats best for her. But I dont fear the arguments, Gabrielle. I embrace them. Because thats how parents figure out how to help their children grow. How we will help Eve become the person she can be. And sweetheart," there was a sudden trembling in Xenas voice, "I need all the love and all the help you have, because because Im afraid, afraid I wont be good enough. Good enough to help our daughter survive all this."
The bard reached over and put her fingers on Xenas cheek. Her thumb moved delicately over her lips as Xena softly kissed it.
"Youre good enough, Xena," she whispered. "Were good enough. Gods, tempests, wizards, demons, hell," the bard smiled, "skin rot and head lice, were a match for anything. Life will never defeat us, my love. And it wont take Eve away from us."
Xena took Gabrielles hand and kissed it. Then she scooted over till she was shoulder to shoulder with the bard, their heads together, hand tightly holding hand, and they lay and gazed up in wonder at the infinite beauty of a starry sky and a brilliant full moon, the way they used too, when they first began their journey together.
Finally, as the moon began to set behind faraway mountains Xena let out a small sigh and squeezed Gabrielles hand.
"I think," she said quietly, "its time I answered the question you asked. As I should have the first time you asked it."
The bard turned her head so she could see the dark silhouette of her partners strong, beautiful face.
"Yes, Gabrielle," the Warrior Princess began in a low, serious voice, "when Ares and I were groping each other, I did feel something." She reached up and rubbed her eyes. "It was a deep, profound lust. A lust that shook me, my love. That still shakes me now." She let out a sigh as Gabrielle watched intently, noting every slight movement and expression. "But it wasnt for that big cock that he is so pathetically, obnoxiously proud of. I could care less about his pretense at being a man." She hesitated and swallowed. "When I was touching him, Gabrielle, and he was touching me, running his hands over my body, I could I could taste it in my mouth, smell it in the air, feel it raise the hair on the back of my neck. It was was that lust for power and glory, for fear and domination. I I felt the Destroyer in me, Gabrielle. I felt her surging through my veins stronger than any sexual desire ever will." Xena looked at the bard with disturbed, haunted eyes and let out a breath. "It frightens me that he could pull those feelings out of me so easily. Feelings I thought I had conquered, that I had buried and left behind. Gabrielle, "a tone of desperation came into Xenas voice, "that lust cost me my son. Promise me, my love, promise me you wont let it cost me our daughter."
The bard put her hand behind Xenas neck and looked deep into pale blue eyes.
"I wont, Xena," she said with quiet intensity, "I swear it."
And the Warrior Princess looked into strong, confident, loving green eyes and the fear she felt drained away into the night. She put her arm out and drew her partner to her and kissed her long and deep. Shortly after that the bard began chuckling to herself as Xena did that funny thing with her tongue.
The End of 'An Intimate Conversation.'
Return to The Bard's Corner - Jackie F