by Zealander

Darkbard Fantasies

The characters of Xena and Gabrielle are the property of MCA/Universal. The
story is all mine but the inspiration came from elsewhere, including the
horrendous pain of seeing Xena standing at the altar - alone.

"Keep it Precious" lyrics written by Melissa Etheridge. Thank You.

"A demon's day in madness kissed
<I swear, I never had it like this>
Forbidden, yet I cannot - resist."
Melissa Etheridge

To my warrior, from your little one…

"I just had to see something."
"Your face. I haven't stopped thinking about you since the last time I saw
you. Gabrielle, we've always been close - uh, ah, you were my closest friend
and, well, Gabrielle, will you be my wife?"

I knew it was coming. He came out of the darkness like a fool. No one in
their right mind would come upon us while sleeping. My attentions are always
on edge, ready for any attack. When I saw it was him, I knew there was no
danger. Any friend of Gabrielle was a friend of mine. Even him. But his
voice... the stuttering, the inflection. I noticed how he looked at her, how
he touched her. Her innocent face only registered joy at seeing him. I knew
before she did. My soul cringed when I saw him bend down on his knee and ask
her to marry him. My heart stopped. NO! I shouted inward. NO! NO! She turned
and looked at me. Was it surprise or shock? Was she asking my permission? She
was my lover - what did she think I would say?

Gabrielle came to me after sitting by the fire with him. Our fire. She tells
me he is upset. Desperate. Tired of fighting. Lonely. Wants to settle down.
He talked about not being ready for marriage when she left Poteidia. He says
he understood her reasons. She left him for ME! Now, just because he has
grown up and seen how cruel this world is, he thinks he can walk right back
into her life and marry her? He says *he* is ready now. Suicidal idiot. I
would rather he have taken his own life than mine from me!

Now, she sits softly by my side, her hands intertwined with my own. She wants
my advice. What do I tell her? She is a gentle soul. So kind and forgiving.
She opens her heart and says that maybe she does love him, that maybe she
always has. That she wants a family. Then she drives a final knife through my
heart: she says she loves me, too. Tears are streaming down her beautiful
face. I reach up and wipe them away. I hold her close and she cries on my
shoulder. She professes her undying love for me over and over. I say 'I love
you, too'. However, the words are not enough. I feel something so much
greater. Much bigger than life. Larger than the heavens. I feel inadequate to
express myself. How do I explain to her that she is my very being? That my
soul is wrapped inside hers? That my very existence depends on her being
beside me every day? To hear her voice, see her smile, shudder at her touch?
That I love her, enough? Enough to set her free? I cry my own tears...

The next day we were walking down the beach. We were holding hands. He is
with us, but out of earshot. I ask her about the proposal.
"So, what's your answer?" I am petrified with fear over the answer. I am
"No. Of course." I sense uneasiness in her voice. I am casual in my next
question. As if that will help her.
"So, why don't you tell him?" About us Gabrielle. Tell him about us. I don't
care if the whole world knows.
"I'm waiting for the right time." Uh, oh. Not good. She isn't sure. Damn! I
bite my tongue.
"Hmm... He's a good man." You don't have to hurt him - just tell him.
Please? And soon? Before you change your mind.
"He is. He is so sensitive and kind. You know, I've never known anyone that I
have ever been so comfortable around. Besides you." Oh, Goddess! She is
gushing! I don't believe it! He's gotten to her. The whole bloody straight
thing has gotten to her. She feels guilty. I am about to kill myself - I hope
she doesn't notice.
"Look ,Gabrielle. If it's me you are worried about, let me set your mind at
rest. Seeing *you* happy will make *me* happy. And if that means settling
down with Peridcus, then... you have my blessing." Now, who's the bigger
fool? I just let her go. 'Xena, Stupid Princess'. I shake the thought away
and gaze into her eyes. I am going to kiss her. Long, tenderly and with much
love. I hope he sees us. Maybe then he will leave...

Damn Joxer to Hades! I had my entire being on the line for that kiss. It
never came. He says Callisto is free. Can my day get any worse? Can the Gods
punish my love even further?

I don't remember arriving at the village and battling her: my sworn enemy; my
nightmare come true. All I can recall now is that one heady moment during a
fight and seeing Gabrielle bending over him. Touching him. Talking to him.
She walks away. I join her. Ready to do more. Excited; caught up in the
emotion. I am feeling invincible. Callisto has already lost. I have love and
she does not.
"Where's he going?" I ask her. I had seen him bending over a fallen corpse. I
fought the urge to go to him myself. Nevertheless, I left him there - for her
to deal with.
"The answer is 'yes', Xena. I'm going to marry him." Can she hear the sound
of my heart falling in little pieces all over the battlefield?

I had a lot of time to myself after that day. Gabrielle and Perdicous had
many wedding plans to make and it was a special time for them. They certainly
didn't need a third wheel tagging along, so I was alone quite a bit. I took
many walks. I went for rides on the beach with Argo. I practiced with my
sword. I just tried to gather my thoughts or was it to hold on to them? At
night, Gabrielle always came back to me. We would sit close by the fire, just
holding each other. She would tell me stories until very late. Sometimes, she
was still talking when the sun came up. Many of the stories I had heard
hundreds of times - my favorites she'd wanted to retell - or new ones I had
yet to experience. It seems like we were trying to make up for a lifetime of
lost memories. And, memories we would never share. We relished in each
other's company; afraid the next day would be the last. Sometimes we made
love so slowly, just to avoid the climax so as the night would never end.
Other times passion over took us and each time was like the first. Or last.
Every night when she joined me, I could still feel her kiss from that morning
on my lips. I hoped that would last forever. I *did* know she loved me. And,
that she always would. I could feel it deeper than the very core of my
essence. She was a part of me he could never take. She owned me.

I recall the moment when she asked me for a wedding present. I was lying in
her arms, our naked bodies being warmed together in front of the fire. We had
just made love for hours. I would have given her the moon. Anything.
"Xena?" She was slowly stroking strands of my hair, wrapping them around her
fingertips. I was lying back between her legs, my arms behind me, holding her
around the neck. My head against her breast.
"Hmmm?" My eyes were closed.
"Will you give me something special as a wedding present?" Her voice was so
"Sure. Anything. You want that full moon above?" I opened my eyes to see it
cast it's light on us.
"I want something in particular." Her hands had pulled my arms downs and she
was caressing them.
"Mmm. What?" She felt so warm.
"I want you to write me a song." Her hand trembled.
"You want me to sing at your wedding?" I was slightly surprised. But, with
Gabrielle, anything was possible.
"No. Though that would be nice. You have a beautiful voice."
"What then?" I was curious. I tried to turn and face her.
"Write me a story." She kept me down. Afraid of my gaze?
"A story? Gabrielle..."
"Please, Xena? A poem will do. I... I want something I can look at years from
now. When memories of these last few nights start to fade." I felt her whole
body tremble now.
"Gabrielle, I doubt either of us will forget the other." I did turn and
reached up to kiss her tenderly.
"Will you?" Her eyes pleaded with mine.
"Yes." How could I resist her? My love, my life?

The day of her wedding I was as nervous as anyone. Joxer was there. And the
priest, of course. And, the three of us. Gabrielle was so beautiful in her
white linen dress. She had a bouquet of wild flowers. I don't know where she
got them. They were not from me. She looked very happy. And scared. I wanted
to hold her tight or better yet, kidnap her. Take her far, far away from him.
I wanted to be the one standing there with her, taking her home forever. I
would surely lay my sword down for her, if only she asked. I would do
anything for her. Anything at all.

After the ceremony, we walked together for the last time. I put my arm around
her. I told her of my happiness, my undying devotion, and my love. She
nervously talked about when she fell in love with him. I told her this was
not goodbye. That I would see her someday soon. I bent down and kissed her,
right there in the church. I held her tight.

She handed me the flowers.
I handed her the parchment.

I stood at the altar and set her free.

"You brought me to trust, you brought me to tears,
In one tender touch, the pain disappears.
I have been to the sword,
Seen it come, seen it die,
As we enter the dark, I beseech you to try;
In prophecy - all good things must end
So take care my love, my friend;
Keep it precious.

"This yielding is fine, this promise rare,
One day at a time, we've agreed to dare.
Holding you tight with wide open arms
I'm letting you go, no stranger to harm,
Go on, ride your way,
Do not break or bend
Just take care my love, my friend;
Keep it precious.

"And the wonder, let the wonder
Never cease.
And the madness, of the pleasure
And ecstasy,
Danger, believing me,
Wounding and healing me, please!
Keep it precious.

"I believe in your eyes.
I believe in your fate.
I believe we can fly home on the wings we create.
A voice from behind, calls up
Anger and fear.
We can silence that scream,
It's simple and clear.
Nothing must die only if failed to mend,
So take care my love, my friend;
Keep it precious. Keep it precious..."

"Goodbye, Gabrielle." I hope this is what you wanted. I love you.


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