This story pretty much spoils most of the fourth season and the India arc.
This story depicts a love/sexual relationship between two consenting adult women. If you are under 18 years of age or if this type of story is illegal in the state or country in which you live, please do not read it. If depictions of this nature disturb you, you may wish to read something other than this story.
Each and Every Day
by Tonya Muir (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Each and every day the sun rises on this land as it does every other. It starts with the barest hint of violet blue in a midnight sky. Then it lightens slowly into pink, towards orange, to a vibrant red that lashes out and touches the prairies, mountains, and trees with dancing fingertips. The path it paints is revered the land across, the sun praised each day that it rises, every person held immovable in its glory.
Some mornings are harder than others because of rain or snow, or foul moods or unforgiving ground. This one is a good one. Dark and light move with and around each other, packing belongings and dousing flames. The two women finish the meal one has prepared, punctuating the relaxed silence only occasionally with murmured words and gentle touches. It’s a morning born of familiarity and habit but not made less special for its predictability. Every morning when the sun rises and the mood is pleasant is one to cherish.
They set out after a quick bath in the nearby stream. This morning’s bathing is accompanied by laughter and bantering. The words that carry across the murmuring water to the leaves beyond are gentle but good-naturedly biting. They are barbs that can be shared between two close friends without risk of anger or hurt feelings. It is an example of trust that is built through years of understanding and learning and growing.
Each and every day a path is walked, if not this one then one very much like it. The sun beats down on the two travelers and the endless trail behind and before them.
The one with the golden hair spins stories and weaves tales with a gentle voice and a softer smile. Her companion is tall, dark, and dangerous except when her eyes turn to her companion. Then her ice blue eyes melt into the gentle blue of the ocean shallows. When she smiles at her young friend her face doesn’t appear as harshly planed. She elbows her companion lightly and teases her with a husky voice that has taken on the timbre of humor instead of the dark tones of hostility.
“It’s true, Xena,” the blonde insists, raising her head to peer at her leather clad friend. She runs a small hand through short shorn blonde hair.
The dark haired woman grins, loving these moments in the sunshine with this small woman. “How do you know?”
“Eli told me,” Gabrielle says, turning her attention back to the road. Her hands feel empty without her staff and she misses the even beat of it on the path beside her where she would let the weapon double as a walking stick. She threw it away, and all that it symbolized, so now she walks without the burden of the staff. Or the safety it implied. The love she embraces is her solace instead.
“I don’t care how long you boil that root, Gabrielle,” Xena continues, unmindful of her companion’s feelings of loss. “Ya can’t eat it.”
“You could eat anything,” her companion grins. “So don’t you start lecturing me on the finer points of cooking.”
Xena nods her agreement with an answering smile before she turns her attention back to the road. Gabrielle still wears the cloth of India and marks of Mendhi. The warrior loves both on her friend, enjoying the smooth contours of the silk and the gentle lines of the ink. The memories each beckon are not as fond so she lets them trail away and looks down to Gabrielle’s bare feet. “I could paint your nails,” she says softly.
Gabrielle blinks at the complete nonsequitur, glancing to her toes to study them and then to her friend to pin her with a curious gaze. “That would be fun,” she says at last though it lilts like a question.
The dark warrior smiles, nods, looking forward to the event. Her sky colored eyes scan her partner again, taking in her small stature and mostly revealed body. She no longer carries a weapon and would look completely vulnerable if not for her well muscled physique and the warrior by her side. Xena hopes others don’t see her companion as defenseless. She respects her friend’s desire to follow her own path, that of peace and love, but secretly she dreads Gabrielle being hurt in a scuffle should her warrior guard not be fast enough or smart enough to stop them all.
Gabrielle has fallen silent this last candlemark, thinking about things here and beyond, back in Greece, forward in India. Xena offers her companion bread and cheese, they share a flask of wine.
Each and every day they share this meal and the camaraderie it entails. Bread is given and fingers touch while passing food and drink. They’ve learned in three years that silence can speak almost as much as words, sometimes even more in the right situation with the right people. Today the silence tells each woman that it’s better to be together than apart. That their paths are not always the same but will always mingle and cross. That there is no where else either would rather be.
So they eat their bread and nibble on the cheese in absolute quiet, enjoying instead the sound of feet on dirt road and the babbling of a nearby brook. Xena notices that Gabrielle still spends a lot of time running hands through shortened hair. She regrets having caused that loss, regrets more the vision Alti shared. She knows Gabrielle lived the vision, felt the pain and the anguish of being nailed to the cross. It was something she’d hoped to spare her friend. Now it looked as though she would live it twice. Maybe she wouldn’t die the second time, either, the warrior muses, raising a silent eyebrow. She would do everything in her power to make that thought reality.
Gabrielle kicks at a stone with her bare toe and yelps at the contact. Xena chuckles dryly, shaking her head, stowing their food away. “We should get you some boots,” she says.
The blonde smiles, wrinkling her nose and squinting into the sunlight. “I like going barefoot. Makes me feel … freer.”
“Makes your feet as rough as bark,” Xena counters. “Keep them to yourself at night, then,” her voice is teasing, though. She loves the way the smaller woman wraps around her at night. She relishes her solid yet gentle touch. It is reaffirming even in the worst of times. It is pure bliss in the best of times.
Gabrielle laughs. “We can get some oils or something at the next marketplace we find.”
The warrior nods, finding that to be an acceptable solution for the time being. Besides, she enjoys being able to see her partner’s toned calves and tapering feet. She is a woman of great strength and beauty and Xena feels no great inclination to hide her in cloth and leather. There are times when others notice her young friend’s attributes that the warrior wants to drape her in a sheet and spirit her away … after threatening the gawkers within an inch of their worthless lives.
Each and every day the unexpected happens and is mistaken for routine. Today it is a scuffle with armed bandits. Xena realizes the group wants nothing more than some flesh on which to act out their intoxicated fantasies since it’s obvious she and Gabrielle harbor little of value.
There are three ruffians armed with broad swords and Xena engages them quickly in battle, pushing Gabrielle behind her with a gentle hand. It is the first time they’ve fought since Gabrielle gave up her staff and the young bard is ashamed at the thrill she gets in her spine when she hears the familiar hiss of steel leaving scabbard. Her hands twitch with the need of a weapon. She feels guilty that Xena is forced to defend her.
The warrior dispatches the group quite easily and they all stumble away from the women slightly dazed. The smile that graces Xena’s lips is an odd mixture of wild pleasure, gentle affection, and sad guilt.
“You okay?” Gabrielle asks quickly, running her fingers along her companion’s exposed arms and shoulders. Her eyes scan the woman’s legs. She sees no indication that her friend has been hurt this time and for that she’s grateful.
“Fine,” the warrior’s word is clipped. She’s still embarrassed to express the pleasure she finds in a good fight. She’s afraid of what her companion must think of her at moments like this. “Are you?”
“Yeah. Great,” Gabrielle smiles as she squeezes the warrior’s hand. She has sensed the change in demeanor and can guess the cause. “Hey, just like old times, right? You saving my helpless butt.”
Xena smiles gratefully at her friend, appreciating the effort. “I worry about you getting hurt around me.”
“I’m not a target without a weapon. You taught me that, remember?”
The warrior resumes her pace down the path, Gabrielle turning and joining step beside her. “I am your weapon, Gabrielle. You’re a target as long as you’re with me.”
“Then paint a big red circle on my forehead and yell bull’s eye because I’m not going anywhere.”
Xena chuckles and shakes her head, the long dark locks dancing around her shoulders.
Each and every day one says something to the other that redefines existence and shapes the world. Today it is Gabrielle. They’ve walked for several candlemarks, long enough for the sun to dip lower in the horizon, long enough that the evening is sneaking upon them like a panther on rabbit in the brush on a mountain side. The shadows are falling along the edge of the path in deep purple blues, a precursor to the color of the horizon when the sun recedes at last.
The blonde bard, knowing her partner’s guilt and wanting very much to relieve it, looks up into the darkening sky and takes a deep cleansing breath. “I’m done judging you, Xena.”
The dark woman nearly trips with her surprise but tries to hide it. Though she fails miserably, neither woman comments on it.
Where most people would be discouraged by the silence, Gabrielle takes it as her cue to continue. She’s used to living with this woman’s stoic ways and has adapted by speaking freely unless told otherwise. It isn’t often that the warrior stops her flow of speech. “At first I was in awe of you, worshipped you, wanted to be like you. Then I learned to fight and stand by your side so you would respect me and keep me near. I spent a lot of time searching for myself, having Hope, losing my innocence, killing my daughter,” these words tumble out of the small woman without any hint of the pain behind them. “Then I started a crusade to change you, to make you more like me because I couldn’t be like you. And I so wanted us to be together. I thought that we needed to have the same path to travel the same road.” The bard pauses in her soliloquy, giving her companion a moment to think.
She continues with a rueful smile. “Somewhere in the middle of all that I fell in love with you. All of you. The warrior, the woman, the friend. And now I understand that the love we share is what holds us together. Not the path we travel. And as long as we hold onto that love, our paths will always come together in the end. I’m done judging you for being a warrior because you are a warrior. I can’t change that.”
“Do you still want to?” Xena whispers after a moment of silence. She is moved by her friend’s words though still doubts their sincerity. Her journey to redemption and the bard’s journey to find herself have been filled with thorny walls and gaping pits. It has been a road with blind curves and steep caverns and they have tripped along for many years. She wonders idly if the blonde’s words are yet another obstacle in the course, that she’ll later regret having said them and giving Xena the freedom to be a warrior.
“No,” Gabrielle assures her, reaching a hand out to twine their fingers together. “I want you to feel confident that what you do won’t chase me away. I will never think any less of you for being dedicated to your path. In the next life, you’re a saint and I’m a warrior. What right have I to judge?”
The warrior smiles, raises their joined hands to kiss the back of Gabrielle’s. “Thank you,” she murmurs, content with the answer as well as their gentle delivery. The words have their desired effect and some of the weight has toppled from her shoulders to rest on the path behind them where they leave it, an ineffectual pile of rubbish that grows smaller in the distance with each step they take together.
Each and every day they find a clearing, preferably by a lake or stream, and make a camp. Today is no different. Gabrielle sweeps away forest debris to make a fire to cook and eat by. Xena tosses down the bag she has been carrying. They travel light these days with only minimal utensils and one bed roll to share. Without Argo to help carry their load, they find there is less in life that is truly necessary.
When the fire is blazing, Xena catches two large fish which they spit and hang over the flames to roast. Side by side they watch the meat cook. Gabrielle clears her throat and begins a story. It’s an old one, about her time at the Academy for Bards, and Xena welcomes it as a coming home of sorts. It is a gentle reminder of how far back their past together reaches. There’s comfort in the knowledge they share so much. The warrior is glad this story is familiar, it makes everything more intimate somehow.
The fish is finished before the story so Xena slices it up in silence, peeling off the silver skin and pulling out the fine bones. She piles the shredded meat on a leaf for her partner, watching as the bard’s nimble fingers join in the task. She continues with her tale, all the way to the end when young Gabrielle rejoins Xena’s path. It’s not until this moment that the warrior realizes why her friend chose this story.
She laughs, the flames glinting off her white teeth and blue eyes. Gabrielle smiles as well, placing tasty morsels of fish on her tongue. “We always come back together,” the warrior muses.
“Regardless of our paths,” Gabrielle nods her agreement, running one hand through her hair.
“Not used to it yet?” Xena asks gently.
Without having to be told, Gabrielle knows her friend is asking about the short blonde locks she sports with some dismay. She wrinkles her nose slightly in thought before speaking. “Not yet. But I like it, I think. It’s easier to take care of.”
“I think it makes you look older,” the warrior offers, reaching out to tousle the hair herself and then running fingertips down the soft skin of her companion’s cheek. “Either way, you’re beautiful.”
The blonde blushes, leaning slightly into the familiar touch. “You’re biased.”
Xena shrugs, resumes her meal.
Each and every day there are the tender moments between two women who are more comfortable together than by themselves. Xena has extracted a small container of enamel from their bag as well as a pot. She puts water on the flames and withdraws a rag from their belongings.
“I didn’t know you had that,” the bard says, indicating the container of paint.
Xena smiles and nods. She wets the rag in the warming water and wipes Gabrielle’s feet with delicate hands. She is firm enough that the touch doesn’t tickle as she cleans away the road’s dust and grime. She travels slightly up the young woman’s legs to her knees, reasoning she would look strange with sparkling white feet and dusty calves. If she were to be honest with herself, her lingering cleaning is just an excuse to touch the younger woman as much as possible. It is healing and sensual and gentle all at once, completely encompassing and always welcome.
There was a time when Gabrielle would have been nervous by this touch: what does it mean, where does it lead? But tonight she relaxes easily to the gentle care. She knows this woman better than anyone and trusts her implicitly. Wherever this act may lead she will surely follow so there are no questions to ask or fears to harbor.
The blonde leans back on her arms, elbows locked, face turned to the dark sky. She watches the sparkling stars that twinkle like diamonds and wink at the land below. They share secrets she will never know but she looks upon them hoping to find out nearly every night. In the smoke of the flames she sees the fluttering of moths and countless other flying insects as they travel from one place to another, as intent on their journey as the warrior and bard are on theirs.
When the small delicate feet are cleaned and dried, Xena places one in her lap and begins the cherished job of painting her partner’s nails. Gabrielle looks on in silent wonder at the amazing tenderness these hands possess. They are the hands of a warrior, callused where the hilt rests, scarred where a blade has gotten through. They look like they would be rough and rugged. But they are also the hands of a woman, of a lover, and they apply the enamel tenderly with a short horsehair brush and sure strokes.
Occasionally Xena looks up to meet the other woman’s gaze, finding affection in the endless depths of emerald green. She realizes tonight, not for the first time, that all of the rough road they have traveled to come this far has been well worth it. Because she would go to Tartarus and back to see that look on that face, that sparkle in those eyes, that smile on those lips. In fact, she muses, she has. And she’d do it again.
Gabrielle spreads her toes and examines the work of the warrior with a discerning eye. She grins, teeth sparkling in the firelight. “I love it,” she says.
The dark woman nods. “I love it, too. I won’t mind you walking barefoot tomorrow. Can I do your hands, too?”
Without hesitation, the blonde offers her right hand and watches as her friend repeats the process with just as much tenderness and infinite patience. In the eyes of a warrior, anything worth doing is worth doing well and Xena embraces this belief with open arms. There is little she embraces in this life aside from her warrior code and the bard at her side but each is held with unending tenacity.
She accomplishes the task and holds the hands still, blowing on them, waiting for the enamel to dry. It is a deep red color, the only she could find which surprised her in a land of silk and jewelry. But the color is flattering on her young friend and Xena smiles.
Silently, Gabrielle leans forward and places a kiss on her partner’s cheek. Her breath is warm and sweet, Xena catches a whiff of it before the blonde backs away. The warrior wants more, usually does, but in intimacy issues she is more than willing to let the younger woman before her set the pace. She is honored merely to be here with her.
Each and every day, when the fire is banked for the night and the moon is high in the sky, these two women settle in for a good night’s sleep. Sometimes they merely touch, other times they snuggle closely, often they make love.
Tonight is a night for loving and touching and drawing out deep emotions that are whispered into the darkness of the night. Red tipped fingers dance across tanned skin with sensual abandon. This long dark body is as familiar as the husky voice, the sword, and the chakram. Gabrielle knows it well and has become an expert of sorts in drawing out gasps of passion and murmurs of pleasure. It is one of her favorite skills.
The warrior responds with her own gentle touches and whispered words. Legs slide easily against each other and she can’t help but chuckle when Gabrielle makes an obvious point of rubbing her callused foot along a tan calf. Gabrielle returns with a laugh of her own, muffled by the warrior’s breast. Caresses are exchanged and kisses given freely until they are spiraling together above the bedroll, above the ground and the treetops and the lake. Raising into ecstasy and beyond, crashing to earth but landing softly on the blankets and in the arms of the other. They lie panting but sated, melting into the body of a lover and feeling, not for the first time, that they are two parts of the same whole. They are light and dark, hard and soft, peace and war. They are nothing without the other and everything with her. The path suddenly is more clear and their future together without question.
Each and every day there comes a time when the events of the day catch up with the mind and the soul and living beings need the respite of sleep to recharge for the coming morning. Under the full moon, Xena lies on her side and watches her lover silently. Gabrielle is on her back, face painted with silver hues and the shadows of leaves. The warrior fondly brushes aside short tendrils, traces fair eyebrows and full lips.
She silently thanks whatever deities may have brought their paths together that fateful day just outside of Poteidiea. They seem so far removed from that now, the blonde having become a mature young woman with the wisdom of experience and the eloquence of words. The warrior has become more rounded, her heart more full, her touch more tender. Her wisdom has been widened to encompass more than the intelligence of a warlord and the tactical mind of a destroyer. She now knows enough to seek out the best way to peacefully resolve conflict, the surest way to appease everyone involved. She knows how to let her words do the talking more often than her sword, how to apply pressure without breaking, help without charity. But best of all she knows how to live and laugh and love. And she knows how to make a certain bard’s moss colored eyes twinkle with good humor and affection. That expression on her lover is the greatest gift of all.
Finally, with a gentle kiss and murmured words, she settles beside the young woman and pulls her close. Tomorrow is another day of walking and meals and fights and conversations. But whatever it may bring, the warrior and bard will face it together.
Each and every day the sun rises on this land as it does every other.
It starts with the barest hint of violet blue in a midnight sky.
Then it lightens slowly into pink, towards orange, to a vibrant red that
lashes out and touches the prairies, mountains, and trees with dancing
fingertips. The path it paints is revered the land across, the sun
praised each day that it rises, every person held immovable in its glory.
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