Copyright Zealander1@aol.com
Darkbard Fantasies September 9, 1996

The characters of Xena and Gabrielle are the property of MCA/Universal. The story is all mine. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Xena, I've done all I can for you. Now, it's your turn to fight this battle."

Gabrielle, tears streaming down her cheeks, slowly caresses Xena's face. Xena's head is lying in her lap, her body limp and lifeless. Her eyes are closed and her breathing is shallow and unsteady. Occasionally, Gabrielle feels the warrior's temple for a pulse... hoping. Her armor has long been removed, yet her boots are still on - the bard's choice. Her leather tunic is ripped and is covered in blood. Four small holes dot the center. It cannot be removed - the arrows that have tightly embedded themselves in Xena's body made sure of it. The feathered shafts have been broken off and lie wasted on the ground. They cannot be forced through without certain death; all surround the brave woman's heart. The two lovers are in a field, alone; Gabrielle is sitting in the grass with her back against a tree. The sun is high in the sky, uncluttered by clouds. It is a beautiful morning.

"And, and, you'd better fight hard, dammit! I cannot lose you a second time in only a few short months. You owe me! You promised me after the last time that you would never leave me alone. Now, look at us. You're lying here with arrows in your chest and I'm holding your body to mine - my hands covered in your blood! I don't want you to leave me!!!" Gabrielle starts to shake Xena, to slap her face, then stops; realizing the futility of it. The warrior must choose.

"You're gonna just wake up, right? Like last time. Remember that? I wasn't there with you then and I vowed sitting there saying my good-byes that I would be if here if it ever happened again. Oh, Xena.... I... That was the first time I ever got to touch you; to caress you. I wanted so badly to kiss you long before that day. I wanted to run my fingers through your hair so many times. To just feel your breath against my skin, your warmth near me..." Gabrielle lets out a loud, pathetic sigh. Her sobbing is growing softer. Her mind is far away. Resignation covers her face.

"Xena, you've been lying here like this for hours now. I don't know how much more you think I can take? Just wake up or die already!" Gabrielle looks up to the sky, her hands start to shake. New tears rush in.

"Oh, Xena... I... I didn't mean that! What am I *saying*?? Please believe me! I, I... I don't know what I'm doing here or what I'm thinking! I want this to end, for you to wake up, smile at me, comfort *me*, hit me, anything! Gods, why did this have to happen to you? Things have been so wonderful lately. It's not fair!" Gabrielle shifts her body and her gaze back to Xena. She bends down and kisses her lover's forehead lightly, then her lips. She wraps one hand in Xena's, kissing her fingertips. Her other hand holding her around the waist.

"I feel so helpless and alone. You were always there to help *me* and now I have no idea what to do for *you*. Remember when we first met and I forced myself into your life? I thought traveling with you would be so exciting - so adventurous! I wanted to be a great warrior, just like you. I had dreamed about it for years. Did you know I waited my whole life for you? Yeah, I did. You were my hero. I'd heard so many tales of you and your conquests. I just had to know this noble woman - Xena, the Warrior Princess! I wondered how a woman could be so ruthless, conniving, and cruel. And powerful. I wanted to know what it took to stand up to men and rule the land. I wanted to learn to fight and to have people obey me. I prayed nightly for you. I knew the Fates had it in my destiny that we'd be together. I never doubted them. Or you... Hmm... Now, look at us. Things sure turned out differently. I'm not disappointed, mind you. I just never expected things to turn out like they did. I certainly never planned on falling in love with you. And I *know* you didn't me! But, I did and it changed my life. That very first day in Potiedia. It seems like a lifetime ago and it hasn't even been a year... "

Gabrielle shifts again, reaching for one of the saddlebags lying next to her. She opens it, takes out a small cloth pouch, and unfolds it. She stares at it intently, shaking her head and the fears it contains.

"Xena, I bought you this in Athens. I know you aren't in to material possessions and all, but I wanted you to have it anyway. I saved some money along the way from telling stories, just so you know I earned it myself. I thought it was so beautiful. I wanted to give it to you on our anniversary but maybe... maybe you'd better have it now..."

Gabrielle, sniffing back her tears, reaches down and puts an exquisitely carved silver ring on Xena's slender finger. It fits perfectly. Gabrielle smiles sadly and kisses the bond between them.

"I hope you like it. It's the reward for your last battle. You remember the one - you conquered my heart."

Gabrielle can't contain the tears anymore. They flow down her face and on to Xena's. She tries to wipe them away.

"I never deserved a gift such as you. You always said I taught you goodness and light. That I helped you peel away the dark crust around your heart. It was never me, Xena. It was always inside of you. You just needed someone to tell you it was okay to be yourself. You showed me your gentleness and caring. That never made you weak, did it? You made love to me with untamed abandon. That never made you superior. You let me wrap my soul around yours. That never left you vulnerable. You let yourself go in my arms many nights, Xena. You woke up in them the next day, didn't you? You still had your power, your strength, and your dignity. Those were things you were born with and will take with you. And I will be with you, too. Always."

Gabrielle picks up a cloth and wipes away some of the blood that has trickled onto Xena's arm. She has tried to stop the flow by stitching the wounds around the wooden arrows but she knows it is in vain. They need to be removed to give her a chance. But she knows they can't. She goes back to caressing her, playing with her hair.

"Xena? You aren't gonna make it, are you? I'm sorry, but I always imagined your death differently. This may sound selfish but I'd thought you'd end up saving me from something, not a stranger. I thought that'd be more glamorous for us, especially since we became lovers. Oh, Xena... I would trade my life for yours if I could just see your eyes one more time. Sometimes I look at you and see your eyes staring back at me like that very first time: it was night and we'd made love for hours when you looked up and your eyes were like freshly cut diamonds in a blue horizon. Please, open your eyes and look at me again, Xena. Please? I've never begged you before but I am now... Please open them! You're too young to die! Remember that day when we were walking towards Corinth and you asked when my birthday was? I told you it was in June. You said yours was in November. Then you asked how old I was. I remember the shock on your face when I told you. You thought I was younger, didn't you? You were quiet for a very long time after that. Then you softly told me you were only three years older. I couldn't believe my ears! I had imagined you much older - you were so wise for your age, Xena. So experienced. By the Gods, you were just a child when you became a warlord. Aires was so cruel to take you...."

Gabrielle turned her head to a sound nearby. It was only Argo inching closer to her master. She knew something was wrong and wanted to be near if needed. Gabrielle called out her name and that eased her back to munching on fresh clover. The young bard frowned and hoped Argo could adjust to her new handler.

"Xena? Wake up and tell me what to do! W_a_k_e up!! This isn't any fun, you know. I have other plans so if you could just 'live', we could move on. Do you even hear me?! Give me some sign, Xena. I'm not going to shut up until you do. I'll ramble on for as long as it takes. Gods! Xena, I can't stand this! You are driving me crazy! I love you - now come back to me! We are supposed to have more time! I'm NOT ready!!! I'm not! You love *me*, right? Then prove it! NOW!... XENA!!!!...XENA!!!!!!!!!!

Gabrielle pressed hot kisses all over the warriors face. Her tears were flowing freely and she made no move to stop them or push them aside. She raised Xena's hands and kissed them, too. She ran her fingers all over the woman's body, gently touching her in all the places that had made Xena shudder with passion. She had to stir Xena. To wake her emotions. To get her blood moving. To save her. She would try anything.

Gabrielle held Xena's hand with the newly acquired ring close to her own heart. She gazed down lovingly and saw the woman open her blue eyes for a fleeting moment then felt a soft ripple run through the length of her body.

Xena was gone.

Gabrielle pulled her empty body close and held her tightly for what seemed an eternity. Blood stained them both. Gabrielle felt her heart being pulled upwards. The force almost crushing her. Tears flowed silent rivers down her face. She heard Xena's faraway voice for the last time, a near whisper on the wind:

"I love you, Gabrielle - heart and soul. And, don't worry - I will see you again someday. I will be right here waiting. I'm sorry..."

Gabrielle kissed her cool lips for the last time. She gently laid Xena to the side and stood. She walked over to the horse, got out a blanket, and placed it over her lover. She put her astride Argo, who stayed perfectly still, never flinching a muscle. Gabrielle strapped Xena's fallen sword on to her back.

Together, they slowly started for the long journey home.


The Bard's Corner