Description: This story takes place during and after "Return of the Valkyrie." It's a first time story in which Gabrielle waxes philosophical.
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by Xena's Little Bitch
(aka Julia Noel Goldman)
Thoughts, fantasies, and memories weave their way through my mind; sometimes just moments, sometimes lengthy scenes. For periods of time I am in control of them, I can make them take me where I want to go. And at other times I am powerless; I can only watch. I have been under spells before but this is very different. Somehow I know it's not an evil spell but I can't remember now why, or how it happened. Whatever the case, I know Xena will come for me.
I have never believed that what happens to us is preordained. I believe that every little thing that occurs effects everything else that follows in its wake. I remember so well the day Eve was born. How because Hercules was there, I went to sit with him by the river instead of staying there with Xena and our baby. Maybe if I had stayed with them that afternoon, shared in their first intimacies, things would have gone differently, Xena would have really thought of her as my child. But I played the hostess or followed his lead or gave Xena her privacy or whatever I did and Hercules and I ended up spending a couple of hours together in which he told me the most interesting story.
He had been asked by some peasants to save them from a monster, and though it was the eve of Iolaus' wedding, they both set out. Soon enough it became clear that it was Amazons they were up against, and one of them killed Iolaus. Things went from bad to worse with the Amazon Queen Hippolyta, though she and Hercules fell in love. It all spun out of control, and of course Hera was to blame. Hercules stood in front of Zeus, advocating for all those who had died due to Hera's attempts to hurt him, and begged his father to turn back time. After much verbal sparring, Zeus agreed to do it, to change the past. So he did, and things were as they had been before Hercules set off on the quest. Except that Hercules was changed dramatically by the experience. But what does it mean? Was the world supposed to be as it was before time turned back, and ended up like this because of Hercules' request? In that world, did I kill Meridian? Did Gurkhan kill my parents? Did Eve kill Joxer, and Callisto Perdicus? Did I even leave Poteidaia at all? Hercules saw the question in my eyes and told me another story. Or rather, details of the story about Callisto and Iolaus and Hope and Ares and the Cronos Stone that I'd never heard before. For a brief period of time, the world was changed because Callisto killed Hercules while he was still in the womb. The part I hadn't heard was that in this world, Xena ruled as the Conqueror, and she had me crucified because I tried to remind the people they had a voice. They changed the world back. But Iolaus and Callisto remembered, so the world was different anyway. Wasn't it? I now realized it had been foolish of me to think a different world meant a better one.
I wonder if anything we do really matters when it comes to directing the course of our lives. We tried for months to elude the crucifixion. Yet there we were, dead on crosses. We performed amazing feats in endless attempts to avoid the twilight of the gods, and yet it happened. If destiny has a plan, the complexity is too great to conceive of; consider the conception of Eve. If Xena and I had not joined up together, nothing in her life would have gone as it has. Callisto's life would not have followed such an unusual path, Xena would never have befriended Eli, perhaps never come to the attention of his god if not for me. Could all the decisions we made, the actions we took, have been different and culminated in producing Eve anyway? Do Xena and I have some purpose; do the two of us in combination create a unique force that puts us in a category all our own? Like Dahak chose Seraphin, there is always another person ready to be manipulated towards someone else's ends. Naturally, I like to think that there is also always another hero waiting to take action. Of course I do; when Xena was the Conqueror I was the hero. Until she had me killed.
This is nothing like sleep. This is like my brain working constantly, as if to make up for the immobility of my body. I remember when I was a kid and I heard the phrase "I love you so much I hate you" and I didn't understand how that was possible. Now I do, all too well. Xena's lack of attention when I am not in mortal danger is truly painful sometimes. It has been so many years now that I have loved her with such constancy, yet there are moments when I want to hurt her purposefully to get her back for all the accidental slights.
When these thoughts become too much, I think of my dream Xena. Oh, she is Xena, but she is all the time like the real Xena is only in her most unguarded moments. My dream Xena is sweet and funny, and, unlike the real Xena, she tells me she's in love with me, and acts on her desires. She does anything I want her to do, and she does things to my body that I bet the real Xena never did with anyone. Sometimes I like to think that if things had happened differently between Xena and myself in all sorts of ways, it would have created a different life for us. If we had made different choices, been slightly different people. So sometimes I play over scenes from our journeys and change them in ways I think would later improve our life, spare us at least a modicum of pain. It's not always who you kill and don't kill; it's sometimes who you kiss that changes your fate.
The moment I saw her I knew she was what I wanted. Tall and strong and beautiful. So sad, but I would fix that; I knew I was the only person in the world who could make this woman happy. That my parents hated her was proof she was the one. My hero, come to take me away. I wanted to be like her, and with her, and of her. As I lay there on my back in the middle of the road between Poteidaia and Amphipolis, trying to hitch a ride, it occurred to me that behavior this rash could only mean one thing: love.
It hurt me so to see how they treated her in her village. Even her mother. Especially her mother. I saved her life for the first time in her childhood home. I remember looking up at her on the horse.
"You will regret it if you don't take me with you," I stated with certainty. Then she reached down to pull me onto the horse and we touched for the first time; the way it felt confirmed my suspicion that we were right together. When I wrapped my arms around her waist I could swear I felt her shiver. I pulled myself tight against her as the horse took off at a trot. The way she talked to her brother made me want to cradle her in my arms. She was so big and strong, but I saw inside her, I saw how sad and lonely and gentle she was. I wouldn't let her hide from me. I would save her.
Of course she left Amphipolis without me and I had to follow her on foot again for hours. I had wanted to watch her from the bushes for a while but she sensed my presence and drew her sword. I revealed myself and she didn't seem all that surprised to see me. I sat on the log next to the one she was sitting on.
"I was gonna follow you until you were in some jam..it's so cold out there and I couldn't get a fire started...and the mosquitoes are as big as eagles..."
"You know I'm sending you home in the morning," she said.
"I won't stay home. I don't belong there, Xena. I'm not the little girl my parents wanted me to be...you wouldn't understand..." I knew I had her.
"It's not easy proving you're a different person...you can sleep over there."
Easy as that. This part would be more difficult, but I was determined. With a woman like this it was clear I could not give up one inch of territory once it was gained. Hesitation was my enemy.
"Here is fine," I said, dropping the fur she had thrown at me to the ground next to her bedroll. She caught my eye. I held her stare. Not backing down now would constitute the most important victory of my life so far.
"I have nightmares," she said.
"I can handle nightmares."
She moved to her bedroll and began taking off her armor, and all sorts of other things I couldn't quite identify, until she was wearing only her leather battle dress. She was so graceful and economical in all her movements. She turned over on her side away from me and threw a blanket over herself. So I lay down next to her, facing her back, so close I could feel her heat. I had practiced minor seductions with my girlfriends; they spoke of future husbands and I did not speak. However, this was Xena, Warrior Princess, not some unsophisticated villager. But even Xena had, well, breasts, and a mouth, and silken hair and hot skin, just like any teenage girl in Poteidaia. I wanted to touch the soft part of her just as much as I did the part with the leather and the muscles and the smoldering blue eyes.
Xena's arm lay on her side, above the blanket. I reached out my hand and stroked her muscle. It felt so good. Hot and smooth, like a girl, but big and hard, like a warrior. I let myself concentrate on the wondrous feeling of her skin under my fingers, and I focused on my desire for her, hoping it would show in my caress. She exhaled loudly.
"What are you doing?"
"Touching you," I said quietly.
"Why?" she asked.
"Because I want to."
"I'm a warrior."
"And warriors aren't human?"
"No. We kill."
"Are you killing now?"
"No. I'm dying," she whispered, "I can't let you touch me like this."
"I would think the reasons are obvious."
"There's as good an argument for the other side, Xena. You don't always have to be the strong one. I am strong. Watch me; you'll see." I moved so my body was pressed against her back, and I let my arm encircle her waist under the blanket. I rested my cheek on the naked skin between her shoulder blades. My body responded intensely and immediately, and I let her hear my gasp, feel my breasts press more solidly against her back. I touched my lips to her skin.
"Tell me what you really want," she whispered as her body shivered from my kiss.
"I want to be with you. I want to share your life," I said, surprising myself with the husky depth of my voice, "I want to be your lover. I want to feel your hands all over my body." I kissed the back of her neck. I knew that what I really wanted was for this to be our primary bond; however else we came to love each other, I wanted the most powerful and uncontrollable of all connections to define us.
"What if I leave you in the next village?" she whispered.
"I will follow you," I whispered near her ear, letting my lips graze her skin, thrilled at her body's reactions.
"What if I tell you it's too complicated, I have nothing to give, I don't want what you're offering?"
I smiled into her neck as I licked it and she gasped, "I won't believe you."
"And if I hurt you, again and again, even when I don't mean to?" she whispered.
"I will forgive you," I said, "and hope you learn to do the same for me." I let my hand slide along her leather bodice and come to rest on her breast. I spread my fingers and squeezed, producing a low moan. I felt her bottom grind against me as the blanket slid to the forest floor, and I let my hand slip down her body to her naked thigh. I kissed the side of her neck and I whispered into her ear that I wanted her to take me now, hard and fast, in this huge, dark forest full of sounds. I ran my hand slowly along her thigh, just at the edge of her britches. I could feel her desire building, her control of her body slipping. I bit her neck and slipped my hand between her legs; she rubbed herself against it. I ground myself against her bottom. I whispered desperately into her ear, "Please!"
And suddenly there I was, on my back under the Warrior Princess. She shoved my skirt up around my waist, pushing my thighs apart with her knee and I lifted my leg between hers. The contact was wild; I pushed up against her and moaned, gripping her arms. She pushed down into me and I pushed up again immediately; it was so much more powerful and uncontrolled than I had been expecting love making to be. I lost track of time, transported to another world by my senses and our rhythm.
"Kiss me," I whispered. Xena opened her eyes and looked down at me. She was panting. I reached up and pulled her down to me by the back of her neck. Her kisses were sloppy and exciting, like an inexperienced kid. I felt her strong hands slowly ripping my shirt down the front, then pressing my naked breasts together and running her calloused thumbs over my nipples. I had to pull out of the kiss to groan her name while she did this, and I let my mouth rest against her shoulder. Her weight was on top of me, her long dark hair in my face. I felt my britches being ripped off, and then the sensation of my sex sliding against her skin ripped sounds from my throat that I couldn't understand or control.
"Is this what you wanted," she panted, "Tell me!"
"Yes! Yes, this is what I wanted Xena," I moaned, "What I want."
Xena sucked my neck and I ran my hands through her hair. I was panting too by this time, and I grasped her backside with both hands, pressing her against me more roughly and deeply, pushing up into her with such fierce determination that I did not recognize myself at all, and I did not care. Our climax was rapturous. And loud.
Oh gods now begins one of the endless endless scenes of Xena and Callisto fighting that float through my mind daily. Has it been days? How long have I been here? Why is Xena not with me? Because she's fighting Callisto, in a huge green field. They are both covered in blood and exhausted, but they fight on doggedly. Soon she will come for me and end this. Xena can't be dead. She will always come for me. The things I have been through in my life because I love Xena the Warrior Princess. I wince as Callisto wounds Xena in the thigh.
Then I am surrounded by fire again and I feel Xena's lips on mine. I see images of our past together, moments from our first months on the road. I open my eyes and look into hers and it's real. I know it's real. She is so beautiful. The way her hands feel on my skin is different now, as if something in her has changed, and I like it. The spell is broken.
We fight the momentary enemy, betrayals are apologized for and forgiven, monsters transformed, leaves taken. Another piece of history fallen into and out of. Should I bother searching for meaning?
Tonight we sit by the campfire, just outside the tent Odin gave us. The sky is black with tiny stars. It's cold.
"Sitting with you...by the campfire, at night. It's the time I feel most at home," Xena says, staring at her sword as she sharpens it.
"Me too," I say, looking up from my wine at her, "as if all the world is our home."
"Seems that way," she says and she gives me a little grin. I love these new grins. She was happy that I followed her north; I could tell the first time she smiled at me. How many times do I have to risk my life for her before she understands how much I love her? Perhaps I am as misguided as Brunhilde was.
"We really shouldn't try another vacation, then," I say. "considering the last two times lead to the death sentence in the desert and the almost getting eaten by cannibals."
"It was your idea to go out to have that expensive dinner that caused this last little adventure in the first place," Xena jokes, finally catching my eye. Maybe she's right in a way. We could be doing it all wrong. We smile at each other, bittersweet.
"Did you know," I say, "That over this past year I became known as the Lady of the Ring, and that heroes came from all over to try to free me? That some died in the flame, not for want of the ring, but of me." My voice trails off.
"No, I didn't know that. I'm sorry," she says as she gets up and comes to sit next to me. She puts her arm around my shoulders, pulling me tight against her. "You'll never guess what I did."
"You got married."
"How'd ya know?''
"I just picked the most outlandish thing you could do. Who'd you marry?"
"King of Denmark."
We both begin to laugh and don't stop for a while. I put my arms around her waist and press my face into her chest.
"I guess we're in shock," I offer.
"Good analysis," says Xena, pulling the white fur up around our backs. "or maybe we've gone mad. How could we have lost another year?"
"At least you lived it."
"I wouldn't call that living." She looks out into the forest with a very sad expression on her face. "Without my memory I was peaceful, Gabrielle. Even docile."
"Doesn't surprise me. I'm not the one who thinks you're a violent, nasty person at heart."
Slowly it starts snowing. Small flakes that dissolve almost on contact. They look beautiful in Xena's hair before they melt. I could sit beside the fire with her forever. Sometimes it feels like I have.
"I feel like we've been together forever ," I whisper.
"Haven't we?" whispers Xena, pulling me closer under the fur.
"I guess so." I get a flash of Naima saying we'd been together for many lives. Then it's Joxer, terrified but determined, telling me "I'minlovewithyou," like it was one word. Suddenly my throat aches. "I still haven't cried for Joxer."
"He was in love with me."
"Of course you know," I mutter. "How do we stop this cycle, get a rest from gods and the sins of your past?"
"You think it's possible?" I can hear her smile, feel her hand running along my arm. It makes me shiver.
"I don't know." The snow is starting to stick to the leaves on the trees around our campsite. There is only one question in the world that really matters tonight. It is: am I as brave as Joxer? The answer is obvious but the point is to prove it.
"You broke the spell by kissing me," I say, hoping she doesn't notice how deep my voice goes on the last two words.
"Both the spells."
"How did you know?"
"I saw you. You were the prize we sought. You were beautiful and gentle. It was the obvious thing to do."
"The monsters are all gone now."
"All but one."
I squeeze her, "Yeah, but you're the kind of monster I like."
"More than anything. More than ever."
She slowly reaches out her hand and rests her fingers where my breasts press against each other, held in place tightly by my red suede top. She grazes her knuckles along my sensitive skin, and I look up at her. I can feel my breasts heaving, pressing hard against the material that binds them, my heart clamoring for freedom. I whisper her name.
"I don't know what terrifies me more," she whispers, "losing you, or having you."
My eyes close and I hold my breath. Xena's hand slips from my chest to the back of my neck. Her touch is so nice, so much warmer than my dream Xena. Her hand strays back to my cleavage and her fingers singe my skin. Suddenly my check is touching hers and I'm whispering into her ear. "I know everything about you," I gasp, feeling her hands grip my waist and begin caressing me there, "I know what makes you happy and what makes you sad. I know what motivates you. That excites me." I press my stomach against hers and I caress her shoulders, her chest, and her neck. Her breathing is uneven now, to say the least. I touch my lips to the skin near her ear.
Suddenly I am sitting in Xena's lap, looking into eyes full of barely restrained desire and fear. She puts her hands on my butt and pulls me up against her torso. I wrap myself around her slowly, letting my hands caress every part of her body as they pass over it. She is cold and wet from the snow and so am I; it feels good. She lowers herself off the log and onto the fur on the ground.
"You don't know everything about me," she whispers.
"It's not the details that matter," I whisper back, grinning as she runs her hands along my naked thighs. I throw my head back in pleasure and she kisses my neck. Snowflakes fall into my eyes so I close them.
"Oh, Xena," I sigh, like I have so many times in my dreams. In her lap I am taller than she is so when I lean in to kiss her, I bend my neck. Her lips are so familiar it is as if the kiss in that in-between-world all those years ago never really ended. I feel my long hair fall down around my face to frame the kiss in an unfamiliar golden mantle. I feel beautiful. Her mouth is ravenous, it feels so good it makes me want to die. She licks my lips and I can tell she's smiling. It makes me smile too.
"Stop smiling and kiss me!" she whispers.
"That's a great line," I whisper, nipping and licking her lips. I put one hand on either side of her head and pull her into a deep kiss, setting free my urge to devour her. Her response is huge, both within and outside of the kiss. Her hands are everywhere, on my stomach, my breasts, my thighs. And inside the kiss, well, she gives me Xena. She sets my cold skin on fire and fills me with herself. It's beautiful and it hurts, because it's her. Her love is full of pain, regret, remorse, but gods, it is the most potent drug I have ever ingested. Each stroke of her tongue is like a delicious tear. For years I've watched as she's shown herself to me. Every revelation a riddle, every intimacy open for interpretation. My warrior princess; the title alone invites ironic comment. But tonight, finally, she is my lover. What she is is for me to find now, not for her to choose to show. Everything I've dreamed of and more.
Her hands are all over me, causing a constant throbbing between my legs. She bites my neck and whispers in my ear, "In the cave...you were so cold...I had nothing to give you. The cannibals had more to offer than I."
"Bravest thing you ever did," I muttered, "giving me up to them."
I am on my knees, straddling her, kissing her. Her hands caress my body from below, making me groan into her mouth. The snow begins to fall more heavily and the wind to howl. She asks me to wrap my arms and legs around her, and I do. She crawls the few steps to the tent, with me hanging underneath her, smiling into her neck. Inside the tent she gently rests me down on the blankets and continues to kneel over me as she lights a lamp, then looks down into my eyes.
"I love you with this hair," she says. I smile.
"Don't think small talk's gonna get you out of this."
"You've had too many suitors lately for me to risk any other course of action." She leans down and captures my lips, "Besides, I can't keep running from my destiny."
Waves of contentment rush through my body and I pull her into another kiss. The snow that continues to fall outside the tent blankets everything in silence. The only sound there is is our breathing in this close space. Our bedroll is surrounded by our possessions, and we could sit up if we chose; the tent is no larger than that. But it's warm, and getting warmer. How many times have I dreamed of her body on top of mine, my fingers gripping her leather bodice, her strength pressed against my own? Gentle and deliberate would be the words I'd choose to describe the way we touch each other.
"I love you so much, Gabrielle," she whispers, kissing my neck, her hands on my breasts. Suddenly she pulls up into a sitting position again, and we kiss as we untie the laces at each other's backs. Her task is easier than mine, and in an instant I feel her hands on my naked breasts, and her lips, and her tongue. I cry out, pushing her face into my cleavage. I am straddling her again, and I feel my pelvis pressing against her stomach wildly. I reach behind her and finish unlacing her bodice and I pull it over her head. I force myself to sit back on the bedroll for a moment as we remove the last of our clothing, and I stare at her in the near-dark before climbing back into her lap. She smiles shyly. The real Xena, waiting for me. She's sitting cross-legged and I wrap my legs around her, then my arms, and then I bend my neck to kiss her. Her naked skin, warm and damp against mine, makes me moan, and we continue kissing as we hold each other tightly. Suddenly everything slows down, our kisses, my hands caressing her shoulders, her hands on my butt, as she spreads her legs and I am sitting on the bedroll between her thighs, my legs wrapped around her waist. We continue to kiss and press against each other, every part of my body longs for contact with every part of hers, and I deny my body nothing. Xena's hands on my butt pull my center up against hers and the feeling is indescribably lovely. I lean back a little to look into her eyes, my mouth open in wonder at her gentle love making.
"I'm speechless," I whisper, because I am. Words are meaningless when it comes to describing how I love her, how it feels to inspire passion in this incredible, impenetrable, goddess of a woman. To finally have what I want. My thoughts further inflame my desire and I find myself pushing Xena onto her back, straddling her thigh. I cup her sex in the palm of my hand and press. She arches her back, and moans my name, opening her legs wider for me. I grind myself into her thigh as I make small, strong circles in her wetness with the heel of my hand. Xena stares into my eyes, caressing my face, whispering words of love and lust that I barely register. I find my center is pressing harder into her thigh, and Xena is thrusting up against my hand with abandon. We bring each other to the peak of ecstasy, and she gazes up at me in wonder as we come. I let my body fall to the bedroll and I wrap myself around her, I kiss her head, we breathe, we gasp each other's names. I love the way she says my name.
The snow lands softly on the sloping top of the tent as we continue to lie together in the small space. My entire body feels different, like everything has changed. We have given each other that last thing, the only part we had been holding back.
"I love you more now," I whisper.
"Yes," she whispers, "wouldn't think it was possible."
We hold each other in the silence and after a time I say; "I wish I knew what the answers were, Xena, about life and death and destiny."
"There are no answers, Gabrielle. You have to learn to accept the ambiguity."
We laugh. I'm naked in her arms and nothing else matters; maybe that is the lesson.
"You are so not yourself tonight, Xena."
"And you like that, don't you?" she says with a grin, pushing me over on my back.
"Yeah. Like I've said a thousand times before, I love you no matter what, despite you and everything else. You have the most beautiful eyes in the world. I want to make love to you again."
"Still the poet after all these years," she says as she leans down
and kisses me. I don't care if the gods rain fire on us or curse us or
we sleep for a century; Xena is the meaning in my life.
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