DISCLAIMER: Don't own 'em. Wish I did. Xena and all things Xena are the property of Universal/Renaissance and no infringement is intended. Subtext, as well as sex are present...read at your own risk. I wanted to try to explore how this new life of nonviolence might be affecting our bard. You let me know if I did so. This takes place during The Convert, just after Xena defeats Najara, but before the final scene in the hospital. I suppose this could be considered a bit of a spoiler for that ep (though very, very minor), so if you havent seen it and dont want to know what happens, you might want to skip this one.
Special thanks to Syz for beta-reading and putting up with my brainstorming! Shes a sweetie, no matter what she tells you.
OBSTACLES IN THE WAY
The night air was cool, and Gabrielle raised her open palms to the crackling flames of the campfire, then rubbed them together vigorously. The comfortingly familiar sound of whetstone against metal sang out to her, and she raised her green eyes to meet pale blue ones sparkling back at her.
"Hows the leg?" she asked the warrior softly.
"Much better," came that deep, sultry voice that never failed to shoot down the bards nerve endings, and settle low in her body. "I think Ill live."
Gabrielle went around the fire, and sat down next to the warrior, leaning against the same log, their bare thighs touching. She turned her eyes to study the catatonic form of Najara lying to their left. Tomorrow, they would leave her with the sisters at the institution on the hill. She hadnt opened her eyes, hadnt uttered a sound, since the fight with Xena, even after theyd removed the knife, and dressed her wound, which Xena swore was not life-threatening. She just lay there, her heart beating, her chest rising and falling as she breathed, her mind in a far away place. Maybe never to return.
"I misjudged her again."
"Youd think Id learn, you know? This just hasnt been my year."
"You shouldnt be so hard on yourself. You look for the good in people. Theres nothing wrong with that."
"Well, if I could start looking for good in people who actually have some, that might help."
That got a chuckle from the warrior, and she nudged the bard playfully in the ribs. "Youve got a point there."
"I was going to help you."
Xenas eyebrows furrowed in puzzlement. "Help me what?"
"When that guy got the shot at your leg in. I was going to help. She wouldnt let me. Thats why she grabbed me. She didnt want me to help you."
"Mmm," Xena said simply. "Ironic."
It was Gabrielles turn to look puzzled. "Ironic how?"
"That somebody as crazy and violent as Najara actually kept you from leaving your Way."
Gabrielle nodded, turning her gaze to the orange flames before her. Her Way. The Way of Love. It had only been a few weeks since shed begun her new journey, and twice now shed had to be physically restrained by another to keep from jumping into the fray to help Xena. Once by Eli in the temple of Indrijit, and once today by Najara. She never expected to have problems this quickly, but there were some things she didnt understand. She wished Eli was here now, so she could ask him some questions that had been bothering her.
The Way of Love.
She pondered that phrase. It sounded wonderful, but is it the Way of Love to stand by, and watch an innocent person be killed, simply to avoid being violent? Is it the Way of Love to let Xena -- the person she loved most in the world -- be chopped down by a dozen swordsmen, and not do a thing to help?
Following the Way of Love hadnt been as simple as shed expected it to be.
She stood, and began to pace. She had so much pent-up energy lately, but wasnt sure why. She wasnt sleeping well, and she hadnt written in a scroll in over a week. She sighed in frustration, turning to the warrior who was still stroking stone across blade in a soothing, even rhythm.
"Xena, Im gonna take a walk, okay?"
"Sure," the warrior answered. She watched as the bard scurried into the near-dark woods, heaving a deep breath. Gabrielle was struggling, she knew. Yet, there wasnt a whole lot the warrior could do to help. This was something her beloved bard was going to have to work through on her own. But Xena knew her well...better than Gabrielle knew herself...and she knew Elis so-called Way of Love was not Gabrielles Way. Just as she had, at long last, come to the realization and acceptance that the Way of the Warrior was her own path, Gabrielle needed to discover hers as well. And she would.
She cast a glance at the blonde form next to her. "Sometimes, nonviolence just sucks, doesnt it?" She looked up at the spot in the woods where Gabrielle had disappeared, a glint in her heavy-lidded gaze. "But, I know just how to ease the frustration a bit."
Gabrielle rambled quickly through the trees, her mind a whirlwind of scattered thoughts. She hated feeling this way...nervous and jerky, like shed had too much henbane-laced nutbread again. She was furious that she was having so much trouble staying on her path, following her Way. Shed wanted nothing more than to slap that Djin-hearing grin right off of Najaras face today. And when she saw the gash in Xenas leg, all she could think of was knocking that soldier senseless with her staff, which she was missing terribly at this point. She trotted into an easy jog, gritting her teeth against the anger setting in. Why in Tartarus was Xena even putting up with her now? She certainly wasnt any help in a fight. The damned smoke-blower was a joke, even she knew that. Her anger built. She pictured herself ringing Elis neck with her bare hands, and grinned maliciously at the vision.
She increased her speed again. A thin layer of sweat appeared, and she was at full sprint when strong arms suddenly appeared out of nowhere, catching her around the waist, a strong hand clamping over her mouth. She was jerked back against her captor, held tightly as she struggled.
"You gonna fight me?" a familiar voice whispered, the breath caressing her ear. "Oh, you want to, dont you?" A tongue flicked her earlobe, causing a jolt to shoot through her body. "But you cant. Youre practicing nonviolence. Too bad."
The arm around her waist tightened, dragging her backwards, her feet barely touching the ground, until they reached a small clearing covered with grass. Gabrielle waited until they had stopped, and the arm loosened a bit. She jerked her body forward, attempting an escape, but her captor was ready for her, and she was snapped back against the familiar metal. "Oh, yes. Thats my girl. Fight me."
The hand left her mouth, and grasped a handful of sun-kissed hair, slowly pulling Gabrielles head back. "No," the bard answered through clenched teeth.
"No?" Lips and tongue descended on the waiting neck, causing the bard to inhale sharply. The hand around her waist slid up, cupping a breast, rubbing a thumb over the burgeoning nipple poking at the gold fabric of the bards shirt. The breath in Gabrielles ear came a little faster, as did her own. Gabrielle squirmed in the arms of her captor, her arousal growing quickly.
The warriors other hand grasped the other breast, giving it the same treatment as the first. Gabrielle felt her knees go weak, and she leaned against the body behind her for support, pushing her hips back into Xenas. The two of them were slowly grinding against one another, in a mutual rhythm chosen together. Xena put her lips to Gabrielles ear.
"Way of Love," she spat suddenly. "Horseshit." Then she roughly thrust the bard forward, and walked away from her.
Gabrielle stood, stunned and panting, on the edge of the clearing. Slowly, she felt it. The burning anger and frustration of all the holding back... the hour, the day, the week before...and it began to smolder in her core. It ignited quickly, spreading like wildfire, until she could see nothing but red. She whirled to face the back of the warrior who was leaving her alone and frustrated in these woods. In the next instant, she was hurling herself at Xena, a rage-filled cry tearing itself from her throat.
The corner of Xenas mouth curved up slightly just a split second before she turned, catching the bards body in mid-air, both of them slamming to the grass-covered ground. Gabrielle was straddling the warrior, and swung a fist at her. Xena deflected it easily, catching the next one with her other hand. She let the bard continue to strike at her for several minutes, screaming in rage all the while, even allowing her a lucky shot every now and then, before bucking her off, and flipping them around.
Now, she had the bards body beneath her, as the blonde continued to swing with all the fury she could muster. Xena caught her next two shots, and pinned Gabrielles hands to the ground over her head. They were both panting hard, their faces scant inches apart, ice blue locked with sea green, the sizzling connection between them electrifying the very air surrounding them.
Xenas mouth crashed down hard on Gabrielles, both of them groaning. The kiss was anything but gentle, lips bruising, possessing, tongues warring for space, both women moaning with hunger. Xena shifted both Gabrielles wrists to her left hand, using her right to grasp the bards left knee, forcing her legs apart, and allowing the warrior to settle her own hips against the bards center. She ran her hand up Gabrielles thigh, over her hip, along her side, and under her top, pulling it up roughly to reveal her heaving breasts.
She pulled her mouth from the bards with effort, closing her lips over a swollen, aching nipple. Gabrielle arched into Xena, whimpering while trying to no avail to free her hands from the iron grip that pinned them to the ground. Xena switched to the opposite nipple, while capturing the first between her fingers, causing the bard beneath her to gasp.
The warrior smiled against the soft flesh in her mouth, sliding her hand back down its previous path, up the inside of the bards creamy smooth thigh, and under her skirt. Gabrielle writhed beneath her, her attempts at escape becoming more and more feeble as her energy tapered off. Her excitement was more than apparent, as Xenas fingers met with wetness several inches from their destination. She maneuvered past the waistband of the bards underwear, slicking her fingers through the wet folds of skin she found there, closing her eyes with a sigh at the feeling. Gabrielle groaned as she lifted her hips to meet the touch. Xena knew her bard well, and knew release was only a heartbeat away for her.
"Gabrielle," she called softly, waiting for the bard to open her eyes, and meet her gaze. She smiled at her beloved. "I love you."
She slipped her fingers into the bard, whose hips jerked as she threw her head back, and wrapped her muscular legs around the warriors waist. Xena used her thumb to apply a steady, circling pressure as she slowly slipped in and out of the beautiful woman beneath her. Within a mere few minutes, Gabrielles breath held, and her body stiffened. Her thigh muscles tightened around the warriors sides, heels digging into her back. Her hands, still in Xenas grasp, clenched into fists, as she pushed up into the warrior, a primal groan of pure sexual ecstasy wrenched from her throat, shattering the peace of the woods around them.
Xena rested her forehead against the bards collarbone, waiting until she felt Gabrielles muscles relax slightly before she gently removed her fingers, an involuntary shudder running through the smaller woman. She released her hands, and Gabrielle immediately used them to cover her now tear-filled eyes. Xena gathered the blonde up in her arms, and held her as Gabrielles emotions overtook her, and she began to sob uncontrollably.
"Im sorry...I love you, Xena," she said hoarsely through her tears. "Gods, I love you so much."
"I know you do, baby," the warrior assured her, rocking her gently. "Shh...its okay. Ive got you now."
It was still another two hours before dawn. Xena sat against the log, gazing into the dying campfire. Gabrielle was seated between her legs, her body resting back against the warriors, sleeping soundly. Xena gently kissed the golden head, and wrapped her own legs around those of the bard, pulling her closer.
She turned her attention to the quietly breathing body of Najara, studying her slim, blonde form for several long minutes.
You just couldnt keep the illusion going, could you, you whacko bitch? She directed her thoughts towards her enemy. Nonviolent, my ass. You only wanted Gabrielle. Did you really think you could give her what she needs? You have no idea what that is. And she almost bought it, didnt she? Again. Pity you couldnt hold it together, huh? You hear me, you psycho? You know what? You were wrong. Its not my job to hurt Gabrielle. Its my job to love her. And thats what I do, better than any of you. Better than you, better than Perdicus. With everything I am, everything I have, everything I can give, I love her. And you know what else? She loves me back. This pure, honest, genuine, giving heart loves me. Youll never know what thats like.
Gabrielle stirred in her sleep, snuggling deeper into the warriors embrace. Xena smiled, tightening her arms around the bare waist. She kissed the blonde head once more before allowing herself to drift off.
Copyright June 1999
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