Disclaimers: Please see the first installment.

A Conversation by Campfire – Episode Two

By CN Winters

"Please tell me. Is it me? Have you changed your mind about-?

"No," Xena affirmed quickly, cutting the bard short. "I love you in ways I never dreamed possible. I’m all right really. We need to get moving to warn the city."

"No." The defiance in the bard’s voice stopped Xena in the task of rolling their bedroll. Their eyes locked and the bard moved to her knees in front of the warrior. "Tell me what’s going on. I’m not a mind reader Xena . . . I have to admit this . . . resistance. . It makes it difficult to believe I’m not the problem."

Xena took the bards hands in hers, giving each one a single affectionate kiss. How can I make her understand without hurting her even more? Xena thought silently before speaking. They had already endured so much pain together. She didn’t want their road to being lovers see any more harm.

"Honestly. It’s not you. Yes there is something wrong but it’s nothing that you’ve done Gabrielle. It’s me. It’s my problem. My burden. . . It isn’t your concern."

"By Tartarus it’s not!" Gabrielle said snatching her hands away from Xena’s embrace. "You promised me – no more secrets, no more silent treatments! And if you have a problem then ‘I’ have a problem."

Why can’t she just let it go? Xena wondered.


"No Xena," the bard said beginning to sob. "You’re reluctance to talk to me . . . to be honest, it hurts. And it worries me . . . if you can’t trust me then I can’t move forward with you. And I know I can’t move back to where we were last week."

"It’s not about trust. It’s about protecting you," Xena plead. "Please don’t make me explain any further."

The bards sigh was deep. Xena was missing entirely missing the point. "Don’t you see by now that I’m not the only one who needs protection and care. You need it too . . . and whatever it is that’s haunting you now . . . it’s destroying us before we even have a chance to truly begin . . . Whatever it is . . . have faith that I can handle it . . . Please."

Xena released a raged sigh. She had to tell Gabrielle of the vision now. And she realized what the bard said was true. If they were ever going to survive as a couple they had to have equal footing with one another. That equality was something that was missing from all her previous relationships.

She usually had the upper hand with her lovers. She could take them or leave them. But Gabrielle . . . she realized she couldn’t just leave her. She never could. She always came back to her, even in the worst of times. And the thought of being so taken by someone who was so taken with her, frightened her, excited her but above all else comforted her. With that she went into the vision that Alti showed her, hoping upon hope that Gabrielle wouldn’t leave screaming for the hills. On the other hand part of her was hoping that Gabrielle would depart, saving her from an untimely and young death. Xena felt truly torn.

After she finished, Gabrielle’s reaction surprised her. She seemed almost angered by what she had been told and most certainly disbelieving. Xena knew in her heart the vision was real although Gabrielle denied it. So much of what Alti showed her had come to pass. The burning village as they fought the Romans, the battle with Najara. She had to make the bard see the threat was real but Gabrielle just wouldn’t buy it. As they loaded up the camp Xena, realized it was a lost cause.

"Gods forbid should I mention it again," Xena said lightheartedly. But her heart was anything but light. Gabrielle wanted the truth – now she had it. And Xena wondered if perhaps it was a mistake. She could tell that even in her resistance to believe, the bard was now troubled. Her burden was now Gabrielle’s and she wondered yet again . . . How many times am I gonna hurt her?


It took time and few deaths too many but Xena uncovered her former slave’s plan. She had spared the city from ruin but in doing so she had to walk through one of the most painful times of her past. She sat at the campfire with Gabrielle, once more, as always, at her side. The bard’s presence comforted her. Gabrielle wanted trust. She wanted the walls around Xena to come down so they could ‘move forward’ as the bard had called it.

As she told the tale of watching her lover die and giving her son away, Xena bared all to Gabrielle. She knew the bard understood how it felt – leaving the child you bore. Xena did it to give Solon a better life. Gabby did it to save a life – to save the child from Xena herself. Xena’s tears fell more frequent as she continued. It wasn’t just the pain of the distant past but the recent past. The bard had given up so much for her, more than anyone should be asked. However, despite all that, here she sat – close at hand, stroking the warrior, consoling her. Had Xena ever consoled Gabrielle at the loss of Hope? No, she realized. She had not. Yes the child was from Dayhok himself but Gabrielle bore the brunt of that terrible fact. She should have done more. She should have done something to help the bard heal. In that instant she realized she would show no more restraint with Gabrielle when it came to showing her feelings of affection.

Gabrielle kissed her lightly at the temple and murmured words of reassurance. Xena turned and faced the woman she had grown to love. The woman she would never let go – under any circumstance. They belonged together – their love could transcend anything. Vision or not, they were destine for each other. Xena cupped the bard’s face and she brought her in for a passionate kiss. Gabrielle was well aware of the intent behind it.

"Xena you’re really upset right now. And I think-

"Then comfort me," Xena answered going back for another kiss, which Gabrielle was more accepting of this time.

Gabrielle groaned in frustration at her lack of reserve. They had shared many passionate kisses since the confession the week before, even some light petting. But Gabrielle knew Xena wanted more tonight. And if things kept up there would be no going back – for either one of them. The ‘point of no return’ was getting shorter and shorter with each day that passed; each caress they shared.

"Please Xena," the bard begged. "Not like this. You’ve been through so much tonight. I want you to be sure you’re ready."

"I’m ready," Xena grinned mischievously.

"Okay," Gabrielle replied with a grin as well but keeping her hands on Xena’s shoulders. "I need to be sure you’re ready . . . And I’m uncertain . . . You need comfort now . . .I know. I can see it in your eyes . . and I’ll give you comfort." Xena moved in closer but Gabrielle stopped her. "But not that kind of comfort," she grinned. Xena looked defeated and slumped back to her side of the bedroll, giving up the pursuit.

"Hey," Gabrielle said getting her to meet eyes. "I’m not playing the tease here."

Xena’s eyebrow shot up in question making Gabrielle laugh out loud.

"Honestly I’m not . . . Just think for a moment Xena," Gabrielle replied, her voice becoming serious again. ". . . Have you ever given yourself to someone expecting nothing in return?"

The warrior considered it and after a brief time realized no, she hadn’t. With Borias and the men in her army it was about power. With Marcus it was about her release. With Hercules it was about . . . comfort . . . Xena realized Gabrielle was different then all of them put together. Gabrielle wanted her – mind, body and soul. Tonight, Xena realized she couldn’t give Gabrielle that. And after all that the bard had been through, that was what she deserved.

Once more Xena started to cry.

She cried because she couldn’t be what the bard needed now. She cried because the bard continued to stay by her side – both in joy of the situation and in fear. Fear of the path Xena might lead her on. Xena never imagined in all her dreams that falling in love could be so painful but she realized she built many walls around her - walls that were tumbling into rubble more and more everyday with Gabrielle’s love and commitment. It would hurt, Xena resolved. But to have the bard, on the terms they decided, well that would make it all worthwhile.

Gabrielle scooped her into her arms. "Shhh, it’s okay," the bard cooed. "We’ll get there Xena. We will . . .I have faith." Although Gabrielle claimed she wasn’t a mind reader, Xena had to admit the woman did have her moments. Moments like this one where all her doubts and insecurities were displayed in a single second.

No more words passed between them that evening. Gabrielle gently laid the warrior down, gathering the strong, trembling body in her arms. Xena’s shaking subsided and her breathing evened out. She was fast and deeply asleep, safe in the crook of the bard’s arm.

Only then did the bard cry silently, not wanting to wake the sleeping warrior beside her. She cried for Xena’s pain, perhaps even her own. The vision worried her as well but she had to go on living. Right now she had to be strong for both of them. But in the shadows of night and the light snore of her warrior, Gabrielle let go of her strength. And in spite of losing that strength she showed all evening, she still had one thing.

She had faith.



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