Disclaimers: The characters of Xena: Warrior Princess and all others associated with the television series of the same name are owned by Studios USA. This is a work of fan fiction and no copyright infringement is intended.
Subtext: I guess with my writing so far we'll just quit calling it subtext and call it maintext. Yes, they are in love with each other.
Sex: Not in this one.
Violence: YES! There is violence in this story and it is directed at Gabrielle, although it IS NOT at Xenas hand and it is not by any means described as it happens, but if this bothers you. This may not be the story for you. This is a story about homophobia and the violence that can erupt as a result. It is still very raw and very real for a lot of us. And a very good reason why a lot of couples never come out or reveal the true nature of their relationship.
Language: There is foul language in this one.
Gabrielle smiled and moved quietly across the room to where Xena was snoring none to softly from her spot in the bed. She pulled the blankets a little further up the warriors body and tucked them around her shoulders. She knew if Xena didnt stay warm shed be cranky in the morning and Gabrielle hated it when Xena was cranky. And the rest of the world pretty much regretted it too.
Xena rolled over into the blankets and ducked her head until she had nearly disappeared under them. The bard smiled and returned to the second bed and her newest scroll. She wasnt quite tired enough for sleep yet, but she knew Xena was exhausted by the time they had gotten to the inn. It had been a long, cold day full of helping the villagers get cleaned up after the skirmish between two warlords that had taken place near their land.
Even after all these years, they still got to beds when they took a room in any lodging they didnt know well. They never used two, but they always got two. Which was fine by the bard, because Xena could sleep and she could stay up and write if she chose to do so, but when it was time for bed she always went where her warrior slept.
She set her scroll aside and stared out the window into the night, watching the snow fall and let her mind drift back to a time a very long time ago now
Xena pulled the saddle from Argos back and lifted it easily to the stall of the wall. "Im going to give her a good brushing before we turn in Gabrielle. Shes earned it today."
The bard gave the mare a gentle, loving pat to the neck. "She certainly has. Ill go see about getting us a room and some hot food."
The warrior took the time to wrap her arm around the bards waist and give her neck a little kiss. "Hmm perfect. And a nice warm bath?" She whispered into a pink ear, as she nuzzled past long blonde hair. "Can we afford it?"
"Oh I think we can afford it." The young woman shivered a bit as Xenas warm breath sent chills down her spine. She placed her staff against the wall and allowed her body to melt into her partner. "Ooo thats nice."
The warrior chuckled and lifted her lips from the bards neck, grinning as glazed green eyes. "Yes it is, my bard. Tell you what, you go get the room and the bath and well make it even nicer. I wont be long."
Gabrielle took a deep breath and blew it back out to calm her pounding pulse. "Room. Bath. Right. See you there warrior. Dont take to long."
"I wont be long. I promise." She returned to Argo and pulled a blanket from her back and draped it over the wall too.
He watched the little blonde leave the stables. The warrior inside might be too much for them, but the blonde wouldnt and it would serve as a nice warning that they didnt like their kind in this village. He tightened his cloak around his shoulders as the snow began to fall harder.
The stalker followed her until three others joined him and they ducked into a small alley where they could cut back and head her off before she would reach the inn. They moved into the shadows and waited. Waited in the darkness. Lurking in the shadows.
The bard, tapped her staff as she walked. She was pretty pleased with life as it stood at the moment. She and Xena had just left from a long visit with the Amazons and they were enjoying the newness of their relationship. It was kind of like a honeymoon. And they were both enjoying it as much as possible.
She enjoyed it because she finally understood what it felt like to love and be loved and the smile on Xenas face was worth more than all the dinars and gold in Greece. Gabrielle was also delighted to have recently discovered that she could make the warrior blush. It wasnt something she did often, but it was delightful to know that she alone had that power over the mighty Warrior Princess.
She chuckled again at the thought. She never heard them as they grabbed her from behind and pulled her into the alley.
Xena closed the stable doors. She had been a little longer than she had intended but she had found a particularly nasty knot in Argos tail and needed to get it brushed out. She pulled her cloak over her shoulders and headed for the inn.
There was a silent beauty to a freshly fallen snow that hadnt been disturbed by man or beast that Xena always found relaxing and this one was no different. There were no footprints in this snow, and she almost hated it that her own were disturbing the natural beauty of it all. She took a deep breath of the crisp cold air before heading into what would most certainly be the foul air of the towns inn and tavern.
The room went quiet when she entered the building. She was use to it, but it still made her nervous and always sent her senses on high alert for trouble. She knew she was being stared at. She ran her tongue over white teeth and leaned on the bar with an elbow as she surveyed the room. A half dozen men sat scattered about drinking and trying to feign various levels of interest in her.
"What can I do for you warrior?" The innkeeper at least tried to pretend to be polite.
"My friend. Came in and got a room. Should have ordered two meals and a bath too. What room is ?"
"Im full up." He wiped down the bar. "There are no rooms here."
"I see." Xena watched as a couple of the larger men moved a bit closer to the bar. She let her hand slide to her chakram and just let it rest there. "So is there another "
"No." He stacked a few mugs.
"Havent seen her."
"I dont recall saying my friend was a woman. But now that you mention it," She reached over and tugged the innkeeper toward her, keeping her eyes on the room and its occupants. "Where is she?"
"I havent seen her." He stammered again. "I swear, I never laid eyes on her."
There was the answer the warrior was looking for. She shoved him back and stood up straight, glaring at every man in the room. "Where is she?" Her voice was low and even and not one man in the room realized how dangerous it was that she was remaining so calm.
Every pair of eyes dropped until Xenas sword cleared her scabbard. "You all have about one moment to start talking before I start cutting. Where is my friend?"
One man was actually stupid enough to try and walk out past her. A move which cost him, as he found himself flung backwards by her when she put her hand in his chest and threw him across the room, crashing into a table. "No one leaves until you tell me where she is!" Her voice was rising as was her blood pressure and they could see she was about to go off like Greek fire.
"Out back." A lone, small voice offered from the corner.
She sheathed her sword and ran out the back of the tavern into a small trash disposal area. The light of the moon barely illuminated the area and the odor threatened to overwhelm her. "Gabrielle!" She began moving frantically in the small area, searching it carefully, moving slowly toward the front of the alley next to the building. "Gabrielle!"
She heard a slight moan to her left and dropped to her knees, feeling more than seeing and listening. She whispered for her bard again. "Gabrielle, come on love. One more, let me hear you."
"Xe " A low moan and some movement near a pile of snow covered trash.
The warrior crawled quickly to the area and brushed away the garbage that had been piled on top of the young woman. "Gods!" The warrior quickly pulled her friend out of the muck and pulled her into her arms. She was cold and badly hurt and it was apparent she had been here for quite awhile.
The bard couldnt help but cry out when Xena pulled her into her arms. "Hurts " It was the only word she could say before she passed out.
The warrior was grateful Gabrielle had passed out. It would make moving her easier. Easier on them both, Gabrielle was less likely to feel the pain and Xena was glad she wouldnt have to hear her friend moan and whimper in pain as she moved her to get help.
She carried her as gently as she could. Trying to clean the dirt and the garbage away from her face and take an inventory of the injuries she could see. She stepped out into the street from the alley. Looking around quickly she could see the sign for the healer a few doors away. Moving quickly she didnt bother to knock she simply kicked the door open and moved into the room.
She placed Gabrielle on the table, finally getting a good look at her battered face. Tears sprang to the warriors eyes as she ran a gentle hand over the bards features. "Why? Why would they do this to you?"
"We dont want you kind here." A husky voice called from the side.
The warrior pulled her chakram from her hip and turned to the voice. A man stood in a doorway, wearing a nightshirt and holding a lamp. It was obvious that her sudden entrance had woken him.
"Are you the healer?"
"Help my friend. Shes been beaten."
"I wont treat her. She got what she deserved. You both should have been taught a lesson, but you frighten them."
Xena couldnt quite understand. Her mind firmly fixed on helping Gabrielle. "I said help her!"
"No. I wont do it." He turned and walked away, returning to the interior room from which he had come. Xena heard a bolt thrown and knew he had locked himself away for the night.
She turned and lit a candle and then closed the door, blocking it with a chair to keep the wind from blowing it open. She removed her cloak, lit some more candles to cast the room in muted glows and shadows. Before attempting to help Gabrielle she draped her cloak over her shivering, injured friend while she build a fire in the stove.
She looked over her shoulder when Gabrielle moaned. Xena placed another log into the stove and closed the grate. Standing she removed her weapons and laid them on the table near her hand, preparing to do what was necessary to care for her lover. She leaned over Gabrielle, looking to her bruised face and running her fingers gently through her hair.
"Xena " The bard moaned, slowly opening her eyes. "Sorry. They just grabbed me "
"Shhh, its okay. Its not your fault."
"Tried to talk, tried to run, tried to "
Tears crept down Xenas cheeks as she listened to the bard. "I know. You did everything Ive taught you. You just rest now. Ive got you and Im gonna take care of you."
Gabrielle nodded. "I know."
The warrior wiped her eyes and cleared her throat, knowing she would need an answer to her next question and hoping the bard would be able to do so. "Gabrielle, did they rape you?"
She shook her head slowly. "No. Just beat me up. Said, were not welcome here."
"Well," Xena continued to push her fingers through blonde hair. "They made that pretty clear, but theyre stuck with us now, until youre better and can travel."
"Stomach hurts." She whimpered a bit, tears sliding down her cheeks. Xena wiped then away gently, knowing that Gabrielle had done everything she could to hold them back.
"Okay. Ill take care of you, sweetheart. You just relax. Youre gonna be fine."
A slight smile worked its way to Gabrielles lips and she slid her hand into Xenas. "I know." Then her eyes closed and she was once again asleep.
Xena sat back in the chair and closed her eyes. Two hours it had taken her to care for her bard. The beating was a bad one and she had to stitch up several small cuts, set her broken wrist, wrap her broken ribs and generally just clean the dirt and the grime from her body from where she had been dumped in that trash pile and covered over.
The warrior hadnt even tried to salvage the bards clothes. She simply burned them and put the young woman in a clean shift and winter leggings to keep her good and warm. She had found everything she needed to care for her injured friend, from medicines to warm blankets. While she sat with her eyes closed she took an inventory of the things they didnt have.
They didnt have any food and they didnt have any money. Xena noticed that Gabrielles satchel was missing, which meant that most of their dinars were too. There were a few that Xena kept tucked back, but they wouldnt be nearly enough to buy the things they would need. She snorted with that thought, as if anyone in this village would do business with them anyhow.
Her eyes opened quickly when she heard movement from the back part of the building. She sat very still waiting for the attack. She was actually quite relieved when she realized it was the healer leaving by the back door. The last thing she wanted was a fight in this small space where Gabrielle could be hurt further.
Gabrielle opened her eyes and groaned. Her head hurt, her body hurt, her oh well, everything hurt. She let her fingers crawl over the blanket she was covered with and took a moment to get a feeling for exactly where she was. She knew she was in a soft, warm bed and she was very grateful for that when she looked to the window and could see the snow falling outside.
She listened carefully, as Xena had taught her to do. She could hear a fire crackling and when she inhaled she could indeed smell the wood burning. So she knew she was warm and safe for the moment. What she didnt know was where Xena was and that started to worry her. But as she had learned she didnt want to call out in case there was a reason she shouldnt. And as far as she was concerned the beating she had taken was reason enough.
She tried to push herself up but her wrist and her ribs quickly put and end to that idea and she simply groaned, sliding back down into the bed. It wasnt long after that, that the door to the room opened and Xena came in carrying a small tray.
"Well, good afternoon beautiful." The warrior smiled, placing the tray on a small table next to the bed and taking a seat next to Gabrielle. "How do you feel?"
"How do I look?" the bard asked, realizing for the first time that her lips were swollen and that she must really be a pitiful sight.
"Actually Gabrielle," the warrior sighed picking up a bowl from the tray. "You look like centaur shit. You look like you were run over by a large group of Roman chariots coming from one direction and then a group of Greek chariots coming from the other " she stirred the stew, looking at the bard through amused eyes.
For some reason Gabrielle actually found the warriors description funny and tried desperately not to laugh because it hurt. "Dont! Dont make me laugh."
"Only hurts when you laugh huh?"
"No, it hurts a lot anyhow, but it hurts worse when I laugh."
"All right. I promise not to make you laugh anymore, or at least not until youve healed up a bit."
"Thanks," The bard sniffed and lifted her head a bit showing an interest in the bowl. "Would that by chance be for me?"
"Well, I cooked it, so Im not going to eat it."
"Im so hungry I can even eat your cooking right now." The bard teased.
"Yeah, youre feeling better."
"What is it?" Gabrielle tried to get up again, this time Xena sat the bowl down and helped the young woman sit up. "Thanks. So whats in the bowl?"
"Rabbit stew. You want to give it a try?"
"Yeah, but Im not sure " She lifted her broken wrist.
"Its okay. Ill be happy to feed you." The warrior picked the bowl back up and stirred through it one more time, making sure it wouldnt be too hot for her bards tender, cut flesh, in and around her mouth.
"Where are we?"
"We are currently held up in the healers house. Were, eh sort of just hiding out at the moment."
"Not the most popular couple in town are we?"
"Thats the problem."
"That were a couple. Seems these folks dont like the thought of us being a couple." Xena fed the bard a spoonful of stew.
"I noticed." The bard grimaced a bit as pain shot through her ribs when she swallowed her first bit of stew. "They kept saying that this would teach me a lesson for being that way."
"Yeah, it taught me that I need to work with my staff more because Im not taking another beating like this."
Xena chuckled a bit and handed the bard a mug of tea. "That is a good plan my love. Or give me up." She raised a brow.
"Never going to happen." She sipped the tea. "I suppose my staff and bag are long gone?"
"Well, I havent really ventured out too much. One, I didnt want to leave you alone and two Id rather not remind them were still here. Im just waiting for the healer to come back and demand his house and shop back. I wonder why he hasnt yet."
"Maybe its just his way of helping. Letting us stay here."
"Could be I suppose. He couldnt be seen helping you for fear of retribution of the other villagers at a later time "
"But if he said that the big bad warrior tossed him out who would doubt him since they obviously didnt want to fight you "
"Right." Xena nodded. "Anyhow I managed to convince one of the local boys to snoop around and he found your staff but he hasnt come across your bag."
"All our money was in that bag Xena. Im sorry." Tears began creeping down Gabrielles cheeks as the weight of what had really happened began to settle in.
"Hey," Xena sat the bowl down and took the mug from the bards quivering hand. She scooted closer and pulled the young woman close. "Its just money. It was just a bag. We can replace those things. Im just grateful youre okay."
"How can they hate us so much? They dont even know us." She whimpered into Xenas shoulder finally just giving over to the emotion of the moment.
Xena joined her in the bed and really pulled her close, holding her as tight as she dared to comfort her. "They just dont understand. And what they dont understand frightens them."
"Were not hurting anybody."
"I know." Xena kissed the top of her head. "Come on sweetheart." She slid down into the bed. "You need to rest and get better and not worry about this."
Gabrielle looked over when Xena groaned. She had been so lost in thought she had lost track of time. The candle was nearly out; the snow was deep and still falling outside their window.
She realized that when it got cold, her wrist still hurt from that beating so long ago. She looked at her hand, made a fist and flexed her wrist. Of all the old injuries she had sustained over the years this one probably hurt the most. It wasnt the physical pain; it was the thought that someone could hate her for being in love with Xena.
Xenas head lifted a bit and she squinted at the blonde. "You gonna sit there all night or come to bed?" She grumbled.
The bard smiled. "Oh, Im coming to bed. Just give me a minute."
"Kay." The warriors head dropped back to the pillow.
She stood up and pulled the blankets from the bed she had been sitting on to give it that used look. Then she moved across the room and slid between the covers and into Xenas arms.
It wasnt fair.
But over the course of all their years together, the one lesson Gabrielle had learned very well, was not everything in life, or death, was fair.
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