Disclaimer:I do not own Xena Warrior Princess, or any of the characters portrayed in my stories. Xena and Gabrielle are my friends --- and you can’t own your friends J
Violence:Not in this one. This is a love story.
Subtext:No--- it’s MAINTEXT in my stories. Xena and Gabrielle love each other. Get over it! If the idea of two women who love each other with every ounce of their being bothers you, then don’t read my stories.
About Me:I am a 50 year old Xenite, and proud of it. I am also not gay (for those who care). I am a woman who firmly believes that love is love---no matter what package it comes in. And if you have been lucky enough in this cold, hard world to find your special someone, I am happy for you J
Special Thanks:To Mary D at AUSXIP for giving me the opportunity to be one of her "Bards". It has been truly a dream come true. To Ginny who wrote me my first fan letter and has become my best friend---I treasure you every day. And to all of you who read my stories, and especially to those of you who take the time to write----thank you for giving me the encouragement to keep writing.
Comments are always welcome. You can reach me at:
The Greatest Gift
December 15, 2002
The sun was just beginning to rise in the eastern sky. The air was clear and crisp, and there was a slight breeze. It was just enough to fill the house in Amphipolis with the smells of the pines in the woods. It was going to be a beautiful day.
Xena knew this was going to be a wonderful day, no matter what the weather might have in store. She had been up already for several hours. It hadn’t been easy disengaging her body from Gabrielle’s grasp without waking the small blonde.
Gabrielle had this wonderful habit of using Xena as a pillow. No matter where she fell asleep in the feather bed, she usually ended up laying sprawled on top of her: her face laying against Xena’s breast, her arm entwined around Xena’s back, and her leg draped over Xena’s thigh.
Xena never complained. That would be the last thing she would ever do. Gabrielle was not heavy, despite her firmly muscled body. And she found great comfort in feeling Gabrielle’s heart beating against her body, the warmth of her skin, and listening to the sounds of her sleeping so peacefully.
During their rift, when Gabrielle had left her for several months to go live with her Amazon family, Xena had come to fully realize how much she needed to feel this closeness. Even when Gabrielle had returned, it was quite awhile before she felt comfortable sleeping close to Xena again. Xena had realized that besides hurting Gabrielle, she had taken for granted what they had come to share. When it was gone, she fully realized what she had lost. And she ached to have it back again. Waiting and hoping to fully regain Gabrielle’s trust was one of the most difficult times of her life. Xena had died and come back many times during her life. But when Gabrielle returned to her rightful place in her arms, Xena had felt truly reborn.
The small, blonde Warrior-Bard had brought her out of her darkness. She gave companionship, friendship, and love, and never asked for anything in return. No one else had ever made Xena feel so afraid, so vulnerable, so weak. No one else had ever brought out her gentleness, her warmth, or her sense of humor. No one else had ever made her feel so alive, so loved, or so human.
Xena had vowed she would spend the rest of her life making Gabrielle happy. And this was the perfect day to do that.
Dressed only in her linen sleep shift, she moved barefoot around the house. Her years as a Warrior had taught her how to move with catlike stealth. She didn’t want to wake Gabrielle, although she was well aware that Gabrielle could sleep through almost anything. There had been times in the past when Gabrielle had slept through a surprise attack, leaving Xena to deal with the intruders alone. Xena smiled as she recalled one of those times, remembering Gabrielle’s innocent look of surprise as she inquired "Did I miss something?" Xena carried so many beautiful memories of her Warrior Bard within her heart.
Xena often wished that she could do more----be more----give more----say more to her small blonde Soulmate. She had been planning this day for months. And she was very, very happy.
The table in the kitchen area was covered with a pale green linen cloth. Xena had secretly bought it in Amphipolis. The color reminded her of Gabrielle’s beautiful eyes. In the center was a vase filled with Gabrielle’s favorite pink and lavender wildflowers. Xena had snuck out of the house and picked them in the woods under the light of the moon. The many vases of perpetual flowers Aphrodite had given them as a wedding gift were beautiful, but the simple wildflowers were still Gabrielle’s favorites.
The table was set with one bent pewter plate and a dented pewter mug. It had been all that Xena could salvage from the burned rubble of her Mother’s tavern. When they awoke from their twenty-five year sleep in the Ice Cave, Xena had returned home and learned of Cyrene’s brutal death at the hands of the townspeople. She dug on her hands and knees through the ruins seeking anything to keep as a reminder of the Mother she had known. These two items were all that she had found, and she treasured them. They usually had a place atop the fireplace mantle, but today they would be used. Today was a special day.
Xena opened the door of the wood burning oven and peered at the loaf of nutbread browning inside. She could cook if she had to----but she hated doing it. An open fire at a campsite was easy: kill a rabbit, catch a fish, clean it, and stick it on a spit. But actually making something and using this wood stove was a bigger challenge than fighting an army of Persians.
Slipping a wooden paddle under the pan, she pulled it out of the oven, and set it on top of the stove. It looked like it was supposed to look. And it smelled pretty good, too. Xena smiled at her accomplishment. If only some of her former soldiers could see her now!
She wiped the sweat from her brow with the back of her hand. It wasn’t just the heat from the oven. She was nervous. She, Xena---Warrior Princess, Conqueror of Nations, Destroyer of Warlords, felt butterflies in her stomach. And it was all because of the small, blonde woman sleeping in the other room.
"Xena?" called a sleepy voice from the bedroom, "What are you doing?" Well, she had been asleep. If there was one thing that could wake Gabrielle, it was the smell of food.
Xena walked across the room and into the bedroom. She smiled at the sight of Gabrielle laying on her back on the feather mattress. Her short blonde hair was unkempt. The sheet was covering her beautiful naked frame up to her neck, but one bronzed, well toned leg was sticking out over the sheet. Green eyes greeted Xena with love and tenderness. Xena fell in love with her all over again every time she looked into those beautiful eyes.
"Cooking," Xena answered casually, pulling her black hair back over her shoulders. She realized she probably didn’t look her best, with traces of flour on her shift, and her body glistening from the nervous sweat she was experiencing. "Gods," she thought, "She can still make me feel like a lovesick puppy." It was an analogy she would never admit to Gabrielle----she had to keep up some of her stoic appearance.
"Cooking? You?" Gabrielle’s face broke into a grin at the thought. "You hate to cook." She sniffed the air, her nose twitching slightly. "Do I smell nutbread?"
"Hopefully," said Xena, approaching the bed. Gabrielle raised her arms up, but Xena shook her head. "I’m a mess."
Gabrielle smiled at her Soulmate and kept her arms raised. "I"ve kissed you under worse conditions. Or have you forgotten about the ‘good old days’."
Xena let her eyes drop shyly to the floor. No, she remembered it all very well. The times after a particularly long and difficult battle when she was so overcome with emotions that she would practically drag Gabrielle off to a secluded spot and ravish her. Xena called it "battle lust". It was an overwhelming desire just to feel human again after the horrors of a fight. She had satisfied that need many times as a Warlord with any willing man or woman. It wasn’t until she and Gabrielle had become lovers that she had expressed her need to the small blonde. It was true that at first Gabrielle was overwhelmed and afraid. There were times when Xena was covered in blood and sweat, and she was not particularly gentle. But Gabrielle proved her love and devotion over and over, helping her to release the demons inside and find her humanity once again. "Gods, I love her," Xena thought to herself.
She leaned down over Gabrielle and gently kissed her waiting lips. "I never forget anything that involves us, my Love." She drew back slightly and whispered, "Happy second Anniversary, Gabrielle."
Gabrielle slid her arms around Xena’s neck, and pulled her down for a deep, passionate kiss. "Happy Anniversary, Xena."
A kiss like that was always enough to turn Xena’s strong long legs to jelly. Still in Gabrielle’s embrace, she dropped to her knees on the bed and lowered her body to cover her Soulmate. She kept most of her weight on her elbows, not wanting to crush her completely. Xena sought her lips, and gently asked for an invitation with her tongue. Gabrielle welcomed her immediately once again, and even separated by shift and sheet, they could feel the heat building in each other’s bodies.
Xena forced herself to pull free, and rolled onto her side, facing Gabrielle. She brushed a strand of tousled blonde hair from her eyes and whispered, " We never did have a proper first anniversary." That was for sure. They had been on their long adventure in the Northlands searching for the missing Rheingold. Xena had forgotten all about it being their anniversary until Gabrielle reminded her. Gabrielle seemed alright with her lapse of memory, but it had upset her to have forgotten the most important day of her life. And she had vowed to make this anniversary very special.
"Xena," said Gabrielle, gently stroking her cheek, "You have that look in your eyes. What have you been up to?"
Xena frowned. "What look?"
Gabrielle laughed. Gods, how Xena loved her laugh. "The one that says you’re very pleased with yourself."
Xena rolled onto her back on the mattress, folded her hands across her chest and thought a moment. "Yes. I guess I am at that." She admitted. Gabrielle tossed the sheet from her body and began to scoot over closer to Xena. She turned her head to admire the now naked body of the woman she loved. Gabrielle’s firmly muscled frame and tanned skin was so incredibly alluring. Xena knew every inch of her by heart, but she still felt herself aroused at the sight of her, even after all these years. But today she was forcing herself to keep control. "Later." She said, just as Gabrielle began to raise her body to lay on top of her.
Gabrielle froze in position, a puzzled look on her face. She wasn’t used to being rejected. Xena was always in the mood, even if it was just to snuggle together and enjoy the closeness of each other. "Later?" she asked quietly.
Xena reached up and touched her face. "All day if you want. Right now, I want you to get up."
Gabrielle smiled broadly. "All day? Oohh…..that sounds promising." She turned away from Xena quickly, grabbed her sleep shift from the bottom of the bed, and slipped it over her head quickly. She practically jumped off the bed and declared, "I’m up."
It was Xena’s turn to smile. One of the many things she loved about Gabrielle was that she had never lost that that childlike innocence. Even with all the horrors they had seen together, all the times that they had suffered and died, Gabrielle could still be the small blonde Bard from Poteidaia that Xena had first fallen in love with all those many years ago.
Xena stood up and motioned with a flick of her head. "Follow me."
She followed Xena out of the bedroom, and her eyes immediately fell on the table. The new green linen table cover, the precious plate and mug, the beautiful flowers. "Oh Xena," she gushed, "It’s beautiful."
Xena put her hands on her hips. "It’s not bad."
Gabrielle turned and threw her arms around Xena’s neck and gave her a big hug. Xena returned the hug warmly. How she enjoyed making Gabrielle happy. Gabrielle sat in her usual spot in front of the plate and mug. She ran her hand carefully over the cloth. "This must have cost a fortune," she said, admiring the workmanship of the linen.
"You know the odd jobs I’ve been doing for people in town? Well, the shopkeeper has a roof that doesn’t leak anymore. Do you like it?"
Gabrielle smiled. "We never had a table cover before. It makes everything look so pretty."
Xena smiled in return and picked up the iron fry pan. "Now…..what do you want for breakfast? Eggs with trout? And how about some of those sliced potatoes you like?"
Gabrielle couldn’t help but laugh. There was Xena, standing in front of the wood stove, totally out of character with a frying pan in her hand. The sight was precious. She still even had bits of flour in her black hair. This was the great Xena, Warrior Princess. Her past enemies would never believe this. "Xena, I know how much you hate cooking. You don’t have to do this."
She twirled the handle of the frying pan around in her hand. "Today, I don’t hate anything." She said with a grin.
"How about some tea and a piece of that nutbread?" Gabrielle asked, craning her head to see the pan of bread on the top of the stove. It smelled wonderful.
"You don’t trust my cooking, do you?" Xena asked, trying to act hurt. She was well aware of her lack of cooking abilities. Gabrielle was the real cook in their house.
The small blonde Warrior-Bard got up from her chair and leaned over to sniff the nutbread. "This smells safe," she joked. "Think I’ll stop here."
Xena poured tea into the pewter mug on the table and filled a wooden mug for herself. She saw that Gabrielle had turned the loaf of bread out onto a plate. "Hey, I’ll do that. Sit down." She protested.
"Xena, let me do something," she said, slicing the nutbread. "It’s your anniversary too, you know."
"It is?" she gasped, putting two slices of bread on Gabrielle’s plate.
Gabrielle looked at her strangely and shook her head. "Xena---you’re not acting like yourself at all."
Xena slid her strong hands around Gabrielle’s waist. "I haven’t lost my mind, Gabrielle," she said, looking deeply into her beautiful green eyes. "I’ve just got so much happiness in me today that I can’t control myself."
Gabrielle reached up and gently touched her face. "So this is the real you, huh?"
Xena nuzzled her hand with her cheek. "It’s what you’ve made me. With you love and gentleness, and patience, and forgiveness. You freed my soul. You’re the only person in the world I can bare myself to and feel safe."
"I can remember a time when it was hard getting a complete sentence out of you. Look at you now. Quite the Bard, Warrior Princess."
Xena smiled. "Words from my heart. I love you Gabrielle."
The small blonde embraced her Soulmate tightly, nestling her cheek against Xena’s breast. "I love you, Xena. So much. You’re my life."
She heard Gabrielle’s voice crack with emotion, and knew she was going to start to cry if they didn’t stop. Xena pulled out of her embrace. "No you don’t. No crying before breakfast. At least not until you taste the nutbread. It might be so awful that you’ll want to cry."
Gabrielle sniffed back the tears, sat down and hesitantly took a bite of the bread. Her face broke into a grin. "Not bad," she said quickly devouring the first slice.
Xena sat across from her at the table, broke off a piece and tasted it. No, it wasn’t bad at all. "Thank the gods for small favors," she thought. They ate and drank their morning tea in relative silence. This was not unusual for so early in the morning. There was no need for words.
Gabrielle finished her third slice, and broke the silence. "I have a present for you." She jumped up and went to the small pantry beside the window.
"You hid it in there?" Xena asked with a frown.
Gabrielle opened the door, and got down on her hands and knees. "Well," she said reaching far behind the extra sack of flour and sugar, "I figured you’d never think to look in here----Oh Great Cook."
"Hey, you seemed to like my nutbread well enough," said Xena, trying to sound hurt.
"True," she said feeling around the bottom of the pantry. "Maybe I can make a cook out of you yet."
"You’re the cook in this family, Gabrielle," Xena replied, as Gabrielle rose to her feet holding something wrapped in a piece of soft leather, and tied with a leather cord.
""I made this for you," she said quietly. She held out the gift to Xena shyly. "I hope you like it."
Xena took the small leather wrapped package, and carefully untied the leather cord. For a moment, the great Warrior Princess was speechless. Inside was a wood carving. It was about 7 inches tall. It was a beautiful carving of a horse. Xena could tell immediately that it was Argo. The lines and features were very distinct. She looked up at Gabrielle. "You made this?"
Gabrielle nodded, and a beautiful blush descended up through her cheeks. "I got some pointers from Theramus in town. He showed me how to do it, and loaned me some of his tools. I worked on it while you were out doing odd jobs."
Xena turned the exquisite carving over in her hands. "This is beautiful, Gabrielle."
"Well, I wanted to give you something special," she said quietly, "And I know how much you love Argo."
She looked up at her Soulmate. "Never as much as I love you."
Gabrielle was close again to tears. She still found herself so overwhelmed at times that this beautiful, strong, woman felt so much love for her. She had always known how she, herself, felt. But to have those feelings returned was the greatest gift of all.
Xena set the statue on the tablecloth carefully and announced, "I have something for you, too. I didn’t make it myself, though."
Gabrielle folded her arms casually. "Okay----where did you hide it?"
Xena motioned her head toward the bedroom. "Come on." Gabrielle followed her into the room, and flopped onto the bed, sitting crosslegged and looking at Xena with anticipation. Xena picked up her scabbard from atop the dresser, and pulled out her sword. "I knew you’d never look in here. Hold out your hands." As Gabrielle cupped her hands, Xena shook the scabbard, and a small suede drawstring bag fell out. She loved the excitement that filled Gabrielle’s eyes as she looked at the bag. Even after so many years of hardships, the small blonde could still slip back to become the Gabrielle she had first met. The one filled with childlike wonder.
Gabrielle carefully opened the little bag, and reached inside. Her fingers found something, and she pulled out a thin silver chain. On the chain was a small round silver medallion. The edge had been forged to look like a chakram, but the curved handle in the center was missing. This looked like Xena’s old chakram. In its place was an ornately carved X, and on top of that was an equally beautiful G. The letters were intertwined---just like the people they belonged to.
"Oh, Xena!" she exclaimed, as tears streamed down her face. "It looks like our tattoos----only better." She was referring to the small tattoos that each of them wore on their left breast, bearing the other’s initial. Gabrielle had done that workmanship herself at the lake on a beautiful sunny day.
Xena sat on the bed and took the medallion from Gabrielle’s hand. "I had the silversmith make it from my drawing." She turned to face Gabrielle, and reached up to put the chain around her neck. Gabrielle leaned forward to accept her gift. "There’s no fastener, so when I join the two pieces of chain, you can’t take it off unless you break it."
"Taking it off would mean breaking what we have, Xena. I’ll never take it off."
Xena joined the two ends, and closed the link with strong fingers. She admired the way it lay just above the cleavage of Gabrielle’s breasts. It did not interfere with the beaded necklace that she always wore. Yes---it looked very good on her. Very good, indeed. "Happy anniversary, Gabrielle," she whispered.
The blonde Warrior-Bard fell into her arms, and kissed her. "I love you, Xena."
Xena held her in a tight embrace. "You’re the best thing that ever happened to me, Gabrielle. I’ll never stop loving you." Gabrielle sought her lips once again, and Xena met hers with a wave of passion. It never ceased to amaze her how deeply her emotions ran when she held Gabrielle in her arms. She fought her inner desires to pull her down onto the bed and ravish every inch of her beautiful tan, muscular body. Pulling her lips away, she whispered, "What do you want to do today?" She had tried to make her voice sound normal, but it came out deeper and more sensual than usual.
Gabrielle ran her hand softly down Xena’s cheek. "Can we just stay here a bit and hold each other?"
"That’s all?" she asked, an eyebrow raising slightly.
"For now." Came the reply.
Xena nodded. "That’s easy enough." She tugged at her sleep shift. "On or off?"
"On." Gabrielle said without hesitation.
Xena was a little surprised that on this special day, Gabrielle did not seem to want to have what to both of them was just a normal part of their life together. But she always respected the wishes of her Warrior-Bard. She nodded and lay down on the bed, raising her arm as Gabrielle snuggled up against her side, then lowering it around her shoulders.
Gabrielle wrapped her arm around Xena’s waist, her head nestled in the hollow of her shoulder. "Don’t worry," she whispered, "I’m not done with you today. I want to drag this day out, Xena."
Feeling a bit more relaxed now that she knew she had done nothing wrong, she smiled. "I’m beginning to like your plan of attack," she said playfully.
Gabrielle looked up, and her sparkling green eyes met the deep blue of her dearest friend and lover. "I plan on taking you higher than you’ve ever been, Xena. I…..I still have lots of things from…..well…..from the Amazon secret scrolls that we’ve never…..ah……..tried." She couldn’t believe that she was suddenly feeling shy, thinking about some of the things she, as Queen, had been allowed to read.
Xena knew Gabrielle had felt her body shudder at her words. Gabrielle was not usually so verbal about their lovemaking, even if there still was a definite shyness in her tone of voice. Xena liked it. And she liked the idea that Gabrielle was willing to "try out" some ideas on her. "I want to make this day last too, Gabrielle. And I’ve got something special in mind, too."
"Ummmm", Gabrielle purred, giving Xena a gentle squeeze. "Sounds like we’re going to have a wonderful anniversary."
Xena smiled and whispered, "The best ever." Holding each other tightly, locked in a warm and safe embrace, they drifted off to sleep, both smiling with happiness.
Xena and Gabrielle spent the day doing everything together. This was a bit unusual in that they had established a certain routine over time, and each had just gravitated to accomplishing certain chores during the day. It actually wasn’t much different than their years on the road together. They had just seemed to naturally fall into getting things done.
But today was different. They fed the chickens and milked the cow. They weeded the little garden beside the house, and decided on which vegetables to have for supper. They brushed Argo together. This was very unusual, as that was usually solely Xena’s job. The golden palomino was not used to so much attention from her two favorite mistresses, and she let them know her pleasure with soft sounds, nuzzling, and gentle nibbles to their arms and necks. Gabrielle’s horse, Storm, was not left out. She received the same amount of attention from both women, and seemed equally happy.
Once the chores were completed, they decided on a leisurely ride out to the lake. Argo proudly carried them both. Xena let Gabrielle ride up front instead of behind her in the saddle. It allowed her to wrap her arms around Gabrielle, who always relished the feeling of leaning back against her Soulmate. Gabrielle had worn her usual shorts and halter top, and Xena wore her leather dress, minus the armor. There was no need to wear it unless she went to town or there was a threat of danger. The only danger was in the way that Gabrielle moved her body against her. The small blonde loved the feel and the smell of the leather against her back. And several times during the ride, she had leaned her head back to capture a kiss. Xena complied willingly, fully aware at how the ride was affecting them both. Argo knew the way to the lake by heart, which gave them the freedom to explore each other as Argo walked along slowly.
They stripped off their clothes as soon as they reached the lake. It was a beautiful sunny day, and Gabrielle watched as Xena climbed to the top of one of the rocks, paused a moment to stretch, and dove into the clear cool water. She never tired at looking at her tall, muscular frame. She was so beautiful.
Not to be outdone, she waited till Xena surfaced, climbed up on the rock, and paused just long enough for Xena to scan her body. There was no shyness in either of them. Gabrielle was rather proud of the way she looked. She was strong, muscular, tanned. A far cry from the skinny, flabby little girl from Poteidaia. That seemed like so long ago. She waited till she saw Xena smile approvingly, then dove into the water. When she surfaced, Xena playfully splashed water at her, and laughed. Gabrielle loved these times when the real Xena came out to play.
The Warrior Princess had spent so much of her life in darkness and despair. The road of evil she had inflicted had been a long one. But Gabrielle had saved her. Saved her from herself. And Gabrielle was the only one who saw this side of her.
They swam for awhile, playfully dunking and splashing each other. They bathed each other and washed each others hair. Gabrielle had packed a scented soap that they both loved. So many times over the years they had done this for each other, and it was a deeply intimate satisfying act for both of them. It did not always lead to more. But today was a special day.
As they lay in the grass letting the sun dry their skin, it was Gabrielle who made the first move. It wasn’t unusual anymore for her to take charge. There had been a time when she would have always waited patiently for Xena to decide when the time was right. But since their journey to Japan, when Gabrielle had lost her Soulmate to save the souls of Higuchi, things had changed. Gabrielle became the Warrior-Bard, equal in strength and desires to her Warrior Princess. And when she managed to bring her back from the Elysian Fields, she had secretly sworn to the gods that she would not wait any longer. She would be the aggressor at times, because she never knew if this could possibly be the last time they would ever have together.
Xena was always rather pleased to see this side of her Soulmate. She didn’t mind giving up control to the small blonde. Gabrielle was her life. There was nothing she wouldn’t do for her. But she was the only one who held such power over her. She was the only one who still make her legs feel weak with just a smile and a flash of her green eyes.
Gabrielle set the ground rules, and she made Xena promise to obey. It wasn’t an easy request, but Xena felt comfortable playing Gabrielle’s games. That time at the lake, when Gabrielle had blindfolded her and tattooed the small chakram with a "G" on her breast had been the test of total trust----and Xena had banished her worst fear of the unknown darkness. There was nothing Gabrielle could do now that would be as terrifying as that had been.
This time, the rules were simple. Gabrielle spent an unusually long time lavishing her love on Xena. But she wouldn’t let Xena return the affection. She had to just accept the gift Gabrielle was giving her. Now this was not an easy thing for Xena to do. But she could see and feel how much her Warrior-Bard was enjoying herself, and so she gave her body over to her freely.
And Gabrielle kept her promise. Being totally ravished by her Soulmate took Xena higher than she had been in a long time. At the point where she could control herself no longer, she screamed Gabrielle’s name into the wilderness, and her body collapsed in exhaustion. Gabrielle was very pleased with herself, and smiled broadly, cuddling the Warrior Princess in her strong arms as they settled down for a much needed nap in the warm sun.
They fixed dinner together later that day, although Xena let Gabrielle handle most of the cooking. She knew it was safer that way. But she had caught the fish---by hand, as usual. And the fish and vegetables and a skin of wine served on the new green tablecloth made for an elegant meal.
As darkness fell, Xena got the fire burning brightly in the fireplace. The carved image of Argo looked very nice on the mantle, set between the pewter mug and plate that had belonged to her Mother.
They put on clean linen shifts, and curled up on the fur skin in front of the hearth. Xena sat with her back against several of Aphrodite’s large colorful pillows, her legs straight out and crossed at the ankles. The fire warmed her toes, and she felt very much at peace. Gabrielle was laying on her side, her head cradled in Xena’s lap. She played with the silver medallion around her neck as Xena gently stroked her hair and hummed softly. These were the best times for both of them. The feeling of peace and contentment was so complete.
Xena could feel no tension in Gabrielle’s body. She was so relaxed. And she decided that this was the perfect time to talk about her true surprise for their anniversary.
"Gabrielle," she said quietly, "Can I ask you something?" She felt oddly like Gabrielle: that was her favorite way to start a conversation.
Gabrielle’s eyes were closed, but she answered, "Anything, Xena. You know that."
She took a deep breath, and said, "Do you still want to have a baby?"
Gabrielle’s eyes snapped open, and she bolted upright. "Don’t Xena," she said, her eyes a mixture of anger and tears. "Don’t spoil our day, please!" She got to her knees as if she was actually begging.
Xena very gently grasped her arm. "I’m not bringing up the past, Gabrielle. I’m not going to hurt you again. I need an honest answer. Please---tell me the truth."
"Why?" she said shaking her head. "Things haven’t changed, Xena. There’s only one way it can happen----and I swear I’ll never do that to you."
Xena’s mind flashed back to the time of their rift. Gabrielle had brought up the idea of having a baby. And when she casually mentioned the "Amazon Way" of using a man to complete her plan, Xena had allowed her rage to grow inside. When Gabrielle’s own anger surfaced at Xena’s inability to even discuss the matter, Xena had lashed out and hit her, unleashing all the power and darkness of her past. It was a time that nearly destroyed them both. And neither had ever mentioned a baby since that fateful day.
Xena wasn’t quite sure how to explain this to her Soulmate. She wasn’t sure she really believed it herself. "What if it was my baby, too?"
Gabrielle’s eyebrows knitted together tightly. "Xena……How much wine did you drink tonight?"
She shook her head seriously. "I’m not drunk, Gabrielle. Do you remember when I stayed with Aphrodite……while you were with the Amazons?" Her voice dropped at the end, almost afraid to bring up the whole incident, but knowing that she had to.
To her surprise, Gabrielle smiled. "She took good care of you."
"I finally came to realize what a good heart she has," said Xena, smiling.
"Well, she is the Goddess of Love," Gabrielle chided. But suddenly her tone turned serious. "Xena, if she’s going to change you into a man---forget it! I like all your parts just the way they are!"
This somehow broke the tension for the Warrior Princess, and she laughed. "Nothing that drastic. Well? Do you want to know? I leave it all up to you, Gabrielle."
Gabrielle sat back down on the rug and stared into the fireplace. "A baby," she said as if testing the words. "Our baby. I want that so much, Xena, but…." She looked over into the deep blue eyes of her Soulmate. "Do you?"
Having had a lot of time to consider the idea, Xena didn’t hesitate to answer. "A child with the best parts of both of us? Who wouldn’t want that, Gabrielle." Her voice was warm and filled with emotion. She even surprised herself at how deeply she felt that this was the good and right thing to do.
Gabrielle slowly grasped Xena’s left hand in hers, their scared palms gripped tightly together, and asked quietly, "What do we have to do?" Her green eyes were filled with so much joy and love that Xena felt the tears welling up in her own eyes. This was the woman she had chosen to be bonded to forever. And grasping their hands together like that----joining the symbols of their union, seemed so perfect at this moment.
Xena squeezed her hand gently. "Wait here." She jumped to her feet, and quickly headed for the bedroom. Once inside, she lifted her leather pack onto the bed and rooted around inside. She smiled as she removed a small leather pouch. Inside was her sewing kit. With the items in that kit she could repair her leathers, fix a rip in Gabrielle’s clothes, stitch a wound shut without pulling out her medical kit. She made sure what she wanted was inside, grabbed a blanket from the closet (pausing to look at the beautiful black and silver armor outfit that she had worn on their wedding day), and returned to the main room.
Grinning widely, she sat down on the fur rug facing Gabrielle. "Got it," she said cheerfully.
Gabrielle frowned. "You’re sewing kit?"
"Ah, but the secret is inside," she said, actually trying to prolong the mystery.
Normally Gabrielle loved surprises, but this one was driving her crazy with anticipation. "Xena, show me, please!" Xena nodded and slowly and carefully removed a small gold item from the kit. She held it up, and it gleamed from the light of the fireplace. "It’s your sword!" Gabrielle exclaimed, staring intently at it. It was true. It was an exact replica of Xena’s sword, only this one was gold and only about three inches long.
Xena smiled as she turned it to catch the light. "A gift from Aphrodite." She gently lay the miniature sword on top of her sewing kit on the fur rug, and, grabbing the hem of her shift, she pulled it off over her head. She motioned to Gabrielle. "Out of yours, too."
Gabrielle quickly tossed her shift aside. With Xena, there was no modesty. They had been together for so long and shared so much. There was no other human being that Gabrielle felt so comfortable with just being in her own skin. No barriers between them.
They sat naked by the glow of the fireplace. Xena fought the flames of desire rising in her as she gazed at the beautiful body so close to her. Gabrielle had not allowed Xena to touch her earlier that day, and she ached to make love to her now. But for a bit longer, she had to keep control. This was too important to both of them to let her appetite for the blonde Warrior-Bard have its way right now.
Gabrielle looked down at the small gold sword/knife and said quietly, "Well, we already cut our palms, and I tattooed both of us. So I guess I’m up to something else that involves cutting."
Xena smiled. "Don’t worry. You won’t get cut this time.." She picked up the sword/knife and looked into the eyes of her Soulmate. "Gabrielle," she whispered almost reverently, "The secret is in me. It’s in my blood."
Gabrielle frowned skeptically. "Your blood has the ability to give us a baby? But how?"
"When we bonded," she said turning over her scared left palm, "our blood was joined. I already carry some of you in me, and you have some of me in you. Aphrodite used a bit of her magic with this knife."
"But you’ve always been against using the gifts of the gods."
"It’s already in my blood. This is the gift that will make it happen. And I would take every gift from Aphrodite or Ares himself to give you…..to give us… what we want."
The tone of the black haired Warrior Princess was so sincere that Gabrielle gulped back tears. "What do you have to do?"
"I have to be cut," Xena said laying her fingers on her skin very low in her groin. "Here".
Gabrielle grabbed her arm. "Xena, no----you can’t."
She smiled at her concern. "It’s alright, Gabrielle. I want to do this. As much as I wanted us to join our blood at our wedding. I want this."
Gabrielle nodded. "I do too, Xena. What will we have to do?"
Xena took a deep breath, not sure that she was going to like this part at all. "The cut has to be deep, so that my blood is flowing freely. As I make love to you, my blood needs to cover you and flow into you." Xena paused, then asked "Does that repulse you?"
Without a moment’s hesitation, Gabrielle replied, "No, of course not. But you’ll be in pain."
"No I won’t." Xena smiled at her lovingly. "When I slashed my palm at out bonding, all I could feel was the love that I had for you. The joy in knowing that we were going to be bound by blood for eternity. This is the same, Gabrielle. I’ll be giving my blood to you…..for us."
Gabrielle smiled. "And who says you can’t be a hopeless romantic."
Xena shrugged shyly. "I’m still learning."
"Do you know how much I love you?" she asked, touching her face gently.
"As much as I love you," the dark haired woman replied, kissing her fingers softly.
Gabrielle took the blanket and lay it out on the fur. She sat on top of it and smiled. "Tell me what to do."
Xena held out the small gold sword/knife. "Take this. And cut me," she pointed to her groin, just below the line of soft black hair.
She took the small implement, but her hand was shaking. "I….I don’t think I can do this."
"Yes you can," Xena reassured her. "Cut deep. Aphrodite promised it wouldn’t be painful. And when we’ve finished, it will close up. But I get to keep the scar to remember always." She smiled at the thought of wearing that scar as a remembrance of the this night.
Gabrielle took a deep breath, and positioned the sword/knife just below the hairline of Xena’s groin. Surprisingly, Xena was able to keep her body still. She had to be brave for Gabrielle. Only by Gabrielle’s hand could this miracle take place. Gabrielle fought her fear and plunged it deeply into her, then pulled sideways making a cut over an inch long. Immediately, Xena’s blood began to flow freely, but she merely smiled as she watched what was happening. She felt amazingly calm.
"Did I hurt you?" Gabrielle gasped, dropping the blood covered gold sword/dagger.
"Not at all. Aphrodite kept her word. Lay down, Gabrielle."
Gabrielle lay spread out on the blanket covering the fur. Xena thought that she had never looked so beautiful. The look of love was shining from those beautiful green eyes as she raised her arms to accept her Warrior Princess. The firelight glimmered off her bronzed skin. "Make love to me, Xena," she whispered in an unusually deep, passionate voice. Xena covered her body with her own, overcome with a passion that she had never known to be so strong. She would make sure that this was a night that neither of them would ever forget.
Xena finished her mug of herb tea in the moonlight of the kitchen. She set the cup on the table, and padded barefoot quietly back to the bedroom. The tea would ease the pains. It never failed. But right now, she felt miserable and cold, despite the heavy linen sleep shift she wore.
She crawled back into the feather bed slowly, trying not to wake Gabrielle. But when she got settled on her back, the small blonde snuggled up close to her side. "You alright?" she asked quietly, laying her warm hand on Xena’s arm.
"I didn’t mean to wake you," she replied, putting her arm around Gabrielle’s shoulders as the small blonde found her favorite spot to lay her head---in the hollow of Xena’s shoulder.
"I was awake," she said, draping her arm around Xena’s waist.
"Damn cycle of the moon hit----right on time!" It was the one major part of being a woman that Xena hated with a passion.
There was a long pause in the semi-darkness. Then Gabrielle said quietly. "Not for me."
Xena thought a moment about that statement. She and Gabrielle were synchronized perfectly after having spent so many years together. She frowned and looked down at her. "No?" she said, as a realization suddenly came to her mind.
Gabrielle was smiling up at her, and she started to giggle. "No."
"Xena," she said, trying to keep her composure. "I think I’m pregnant."
Xena sat up quickly, pulling Gabrielle up with her. She searched deep into her loving green eyes and saw overwhelming joy. "Gabrielle?"
The small blonde giggled again and nodded. "It worked."
She drew her into her arms in a fierce hug. "Oh, Gabrielle."
"Are you happy, Xena?" she asked, stroking her long black hair lovingly.
Xena pulled away just enough for Gabrielle to see her face. Tears were streaming down her cheeks. Unbridled tears of joy. "Our baby! Oh, gods, I love you so much!"
Gabrielle began to cry. She ran her thumbs over Xena’s cheeks to catch her tears, and then began to kiss her face. "I love you, Xena," she whispered between the warm soft kisses. "Thank you for this gift."
Xena lay down slowly, carrying Gabrielle with her, cradled in her arms. "It’s Aphrodite we really have to thank." She said, planting a warm kiss on the lips of her Soulmate. "It’s a gift for both of us."
"Can we go to her temple tomorrow?"
Xena smiled. "I think that’s a wonderful idea."
Gabrielle settled down again, feeling very safe and secure in her Soulmate’s arms. "Sleep now, Warrior Mom."
Xena smiled. "I like that. But what do you want to be called?"
Gabrielle thought a moment. "I sort of thought that I’d be ‘Mother’ and you would be ‘Mom’. Is that alright?"
Xena kissed the top of her head. "I like the sound of both," she said, drawing Gabrielle close.
As they drifted off to blissful slumber in each other’s arms, Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love, appeared in the room. She made sure that she would remain invisible and unheard on this visit. She was wearing her signature frilly pink outfit----in this case, a frilly pink negligee. Her blond hair sparkled, her eyes shined with love.
"You don’t have to thank me, Warrior Babe," she said, smiling. "I’m glad you’re happy. Gabby has wanted this for a long, long time. And I know you have, too. I see all the love inside you, Miss ‘I’m so tough in black leather’ Warrior." She walked over closer to the bed, and looked at the two sleeping Soulmates. "And you, little blonde I adore……I’ll take good care of that Warrior-Baby growing inside you." Aphrodite glided to the foot of the bed. "I love you both." She giggled happily and corrected herself. "I love all three of you." She raised her hand and blew on her palm. Tiny twinkles of light scattered about and settled over the sleeping Soulmates. "Sweet dreams." And Aphrodite vanished, as Xena and Gabrielle both smiled in their sleep.
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