Disclaimer: This was written as a overnight homework assignment for my Beta Reader, MyWarrior, while working on a much larger piece, and was intended as an exercise for those writing areas I felt I was weakest. Being extremely nervous about its reception, I cannot thank her. This story, any blame, and its appearance here are entirely due to her, and her encouragement. The characters Xena, Gabrielle, and Autolycus belong to RenPic and MCA, and I have placed them where I think they are happiest, Merwolfs Xenaverse, in that our heroes have a home in Amphipolis. I did not ask permission to do this, and it is entirely for my own pleasure and not profit.
Sex: Were going for short and cute, here people. But if two women in love is a problem due to age or residence, please move on. I blushed only once while reading it to my daughter, so Id say PG 13
"Done." I said.
That had been last night. Now, I stood about to knock on my own door, remembering why I was here, feeling like an idiot.
It had started as always with Gabrielle saying, "Xena, can I ask you a question?"
As always, I tried not to roll my eyes.
"You went out on dates with...boys...didnt you? Just regular dates?"
We were at home in Amphipolis, alone in our bed, and whatever question I might have expected that wasnt it.
I thought. "I guess, before Cortese, and if I wasnt beating them up, I guess, sure, there were a few boys. Who hasnt..." and I stopped. Saw her eyes in the moonlight.
"But Gabrielle, weve been out on dates, you and me..."
"And theyve been...magical, my love. But we, I..well, never really had... a first date. But when I was little, I always imagined...". She sounded so wistful.
My surprise must have shown because she continued. "Maybe it was my father, maybe it was because I was ...different, I dont know, but no one..." and her voice trailed off. And once again she was that young girl from Potedeia And because I would do anything for her, I said "Could I do that for you?" And I saw the anticipation in those beautiful green eyes.
"Just a regular village date, no capturing a thousand butterflies, no Goddesses showering us with surprises, just a first date?"
"Done." I said.
So, feeling naked without weapons and uncomfortably squeezed into a dress that I had worn when I was fifteen and a lot, well, smaller all over, I gripped my bouquet of flowers and knocked on our cabin door.
I waited for Gabrielle to answer, but instead another familiar face appeared.
"Yes?" said Autolycus, standing in the doorway of my home.
Reminding myself that I could never repay the debt I owned this man, I tried to keep the growl to a minimum. "What are you doing here?"
He lowered his voice. "Xena, I just want you to know, that Im only doing this as a personal favour to Gabrielle, and not because of any personal pleasure I might get from it."
"Uh huh." I said.
Then looking at the flowers in my hand and raising his voice, he said "You must be here to see Gabrielle. Come in, " and with his damned shit eating grin, he let me enter my own home. "Im sure my daughter will be ready in a moment."
Oh Gods, Autolocus, cant live with him... cant tie his mustache and goatee into a knot...
Then I realized that he was wearing one of MY leather vests as he motioned me towards a stool in the centre of the room. He made himself comfortable in my favorite chair.
"So Xena, is it?" He idly stroked his mustache.
I squatted down onto the stool and put my elbows onto my knees. Clasped my hands. Running my tongue along the inside of my mouth, I managed a nod.
"If you dont mind me asking, what exactly is it that you do?"
My warlord stare came quite naturally. "I kill people." I said brightly. He didnt flinch.
"Is there a lot of call for that?" he asked, the sincerity just dripping off of him.
"Right now? In this room? Oh yeah." I smiled, showing him all my teeth.
"No, I mean, are there many dinars in it?"
"No, its just for recreation." I didnt know how much more I (or he) could take of this.
"Gabrielle?" I called to our bedroom.
"Now, now, mustnt rush the ladies, youll learn that. Give them their time so they can look pretty for us."
"Gabri-elle!" Now I noticed an almost frantic note creeping in.
"So, what sort of people do you come from?"
"Autolycus, youve passed out in my mothers tavern."
He shook his head. "I didnt hear that." He paused and began again. "What does your father do?"
I put my hands on my knees and stared directly at him. "Well, either he was killed by my mother with an ax before trying to sacrifice me, hes the God of War, or hes the ruler of the underworld. Either way, if youd like to meet him, it...Can...Be...Arranged."
This finally broke his nerve, and he moved out of the chair and away from me staring with relief towards the door. "Ah, here she is."
Gabrielle appeared in the doorway. She was in a light green sheath that covered her from neck to her sandals, that I had never seen before, and someone, my mother? had braided her honey red hair into an intricate bun, leaving just the wisps touching her ears. She seemed very young, and uncertain, and I realized for the first time, that for her, this really was a first date. And my anger disappeared in that moment, seeing her standing there, to be replaced by a unfamiliar nervousness.
We both stood staring at each other, not really noticing Autolocus.
"So Pumpkin? When will you be coming home?" Gabrielle just gave him a warm hug,
but as we headed to the door, I turned and grabbed him, and hissed into his ear " DONT wait up DAD. I have a camp outside of town, and if dear old Pop shows up anywhere near there tonight, Im going to be stacking your body parts like firewood." and let him go.
I heard him as we closed the door. "I like this one, Pumpkin. Seems like a keeper."
As we made our way to the stables, I found that not only couldnt I think of what to say, a quiet Bard not being a part of my experience, but for the first time since I was a kid, my arms seemed too long and I was swinging them around not sure where to put them. I looked at the hand nearest mine and blurted out, "Would you mind if we held hands?" And the Gods only know why, but I added,
"Just while were walking?"
And she smiled and softly said. "Yes. While were walking."
So, of course I had to let go of her hand when we got to Argos stall, and I felt the loss immediately.
I think she did as well and but she said, "Is this your horse?"
I grinned and said, "Yes, her name is Argo." And got the most peculiar look from my mare, while Gabrielle gently patted her flank. I mounted and gave her a hand up, but she gripped me around the waist in a parody of her old style, making it difficult for me to breathe. I shifted her hands slightly, saying, "like this."
And she just murmured "Oh." and we rode off.
She had to know where we were headed, traveling theatre companies being as rare as hens teeth, so there had been publicity, but I wasnt expecting much. Sure enough, the orchestra was just stairs leading from the stage to the ground for the minimum chorus of five. And the resting area was merely a screen on stage and there were none of the opulent sets we had seen in Athens. But instead of 10,000 or more in a huge amphitheater straining to identify who was wearing what characters mask, there were about 500 resting about the hillside, and there were no bad seats. I gave a quick security check, but it was clear that no one would bother two village girls, and even without arms, I was hardly defenseless.
Her disappointment was quickly masked when she realized that I had timed it so that we had already missed the first two plays in the trilogy, but that was overcome by her obvious amusement that it was Sophocles they were performing. My tastes generally ran towards the more action oriented Euripides, whereas, she preferred the mental tortures of Aeschylus. So Sophocles was a good compromise, especially since we both appreciated the rich poetry. Since this was a first date, I couldnt refer directly to that old argument, but instead for some reason said "Euripides pants, Eumenides pants."
If I had been a teenager, I think I would have wanted to be swallowed up by the ground at the look I received. So I tried a small smile and mumbled, "Its my only theatre joke." And when she smiled and then laughed as if Id just quoted one of Aristophanes better lines, I was so pathetically grateful that, if I hadnt already loved her with all my heart, I would have fallen for her again right there.
So, it didnt matter how poor the players were, she was happy to hear the words clearly for once, and I was content just to be with her. And when Antigone defied the king, I couldnt ignore the similarities with the brave and stubborn woman beside me. When it was over, and her tears, (and mine) had been dried, I led her to the top of the hillside, spread a blanket, and we sat down and watched the small cast dismantle the stage. I unpacked the saddlebags and laid out a picnic in the dark. Her eyes glowed as she recognised most of the delicacies, and I know she timed it so that I was right in the middle of bite when she asked with an evil grin, "Did you make these yourself?"
I nearly choked on the meatpie, but I managed to swallow it down and gasp out, "No. Umm, my mother made them."
She covered her mouth to hide her smile. "Oh. Because theyre very good." I said as seriously a I could, "Someday you should meet her." And in the same spirit she replied, "I think Id like that."
So, we sat on the empty hillside under a thousand stars and talked about the play. Whether it was right that it was the princes death that was the focus of the tragedy, not the womans, and she pretended to be surprised when I was able to quote portions of the play. I remember at some point I looked into her eyes and said "My way is to share my love, not share my hate."
As her eyes softened, I leaned forward to kiss her, but she quickly ducked and replied in her Kings voice "Well have no womans law here, while I live." Of course, then she looked to the position of the dipper and said, "I should be getting home." So we gathered our things, and set out to whistle for Argo.
I wasnt sure what was going to happen when we arrived at the camp. The fire was ready to be lit, and our bedrolls were already laid out. She let me help her off Argo, turned to me and said, "Thank you, I had a wonderful time."
I blinked, and moved towards her, assuming that there was a good night kiss to finish off our evening.
She chastely pointed to her cheek and closed her eyes, waiting, but I could no more do that, than sprout wings. So I lowered my head and as gently as I knew how, kissed those softest of lips. And it was as it always was, from the first to the last, almost like drowning. And I believe I was turning and saying goodnight when I walked straight into that tree.
Gabrielle immediately dropped all pretense on the impact, and she pulled my hands away from my aching nose to examine me. There must have been no visible injuries, because she bit her lip, and began laughing, right in my bruised face. So, of course, I had to grab her, hold her down and begin to tickle her sensitive ribs. I remember I was straddling her, when the mood changed, and her body was completely still. With my head just above her ear, I whispered to her, "I have an impossible wish." And I moved closer to her ear, and extended my tongue, and carefully ran the tip of it along the base of her earlobe to where it attached itself to her jawline. Even in the darkness I knew that it had swelled slightly, reddened. Her breath caught and she waited.
"I wish that I was with a mature woman, and that she was the other half of my soul. That no matter how long I was with her, no matter how many lives I lived with her, she would always be the most arousing, the most courageous," As I whispered I was slowly making my way by nips and kisses to the base of her throat, "the sexiest woman I had ever known. My best friend. My sister. And that by some miracle, she believed the same of me."
And she caught me offguard then, quickly flipping me over, so that we had traded positions, and as I looked up into those wonderful green eyes, now touched with passion, she gave me that smile that lights up every dark space in my heart.
"Done." She said.
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