Bonding of souls pt.iII
Disclaimers in Part One
"Did you love him?"
The question was spoken so lightly that, even with her acute hearing, Xena almost didn’t catch it. Her hand, that had just begun to work it’s way to Gabrielle’s breast, came to a sudden halt. The lips Xena was kissing just moments before were now trembling.
"Did I love him?" Xena repeated in a much clearer voice.
All she got was a weak nod.
I thought we went over all this earlier today. Xena paused a moment and realized that in the bard’s mind perhaps they didn’t. She asked if I slept with him but she didn’t ask if I loved him. "The answer is no. I didn’t."
Gabrielle gave another nod and tried to pull Xena back to her for another round of kisses. But Xena couldn’t comply. At least not yet when she knew something was weighing on Gabrielle’s mind. "Why do you ask?" the warrior posed.
"Curiosity," Gabrielle answered with a grin. A shaky grin at that. Xena knew that the bard was trying very hard to get past her recent nuptials . . . and not having much success.
"C’mere," the warrior whispered.
Xena rolled over onto her back and pulled the covers over their naked bodies. She opened her arms and the bard took the invitation by snuggling into the warrior’s shoulders before giving a deep sigh.
"I’m sorry for ruining ‘the mood’," Gabrielle told her sincerely.
"You have questions that need answers so this can wait," the warrior answered with a sweep of her hand at the way they were embracing each other. "What can’t wait however is putting your mind at ease, k?"
Xena could feel the grin on her shoulder although she couldn’t see it. When Gabrielle didn’t add more the warrior continued.
"I didn’t love him. I was grateful that he had found me. I was grateful that he took care of me. And with no memory of myself I didn’t have much to depend upon."
"I’m not blaming you Xena," the bard remarked.
"I know that," Xena said pausing to kiss the blonde crown under her chin. "I just want you to realize that I agreed to marry him because he offered. I agreed because he told me I was this other person – that he and I had plans for our lives. With no other memories I guess I felt I had no choice but to believe him. But the longer I stayed with him the more memories would creep back. I couldn’t fall in love with him Gabrielle because I think deep down I knew I loved you – or at least someone else."
"What does that mean? Someone else?" Gabrielle asked moving to her elbow to look at Xena.
"I mean. I didn’t think Hrothgar was my soulmate. It felt like there was someone else out there for me but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. And the nearer I got to the wedding day the more flashes of memory would come back to me. Images of you, of the ring, other people we knew. I had events, I had faces but I didn’t know how to put it all back together . . . So no Gabrielle. I didn’t love him. And I certainly didn’t care for him in the way I love you. I’ll never love anyone the way I love you my bard."
Gabrielle leaned up and placed a slow burning kiss on Xena’s lips. "Thank you," she whispered.
"For tellin it like it is?" Xena replied.
"For putting my mind at ease," Gabrielle answered.
"My pleasure," Xena grinned. She felt the bard take each of her hands in her own, pinning them to the bed as she straddled her waist.
"Your pleasure huh?" Gabrielle replied, her voice so smoky, Xena found it difficult to breath. "As you wish."
Xena was never comfortable at first when it came to being ‘captured’ but with the right inspiration she often gave up her need for ‘control’ and simply sank into the bards domain, giving the little blonde anything she requested. Xena, warrior princess, destroyer of nations, 6 foot tall and 200 pounds of muscle lay helpless under the 5 foot nothing, 130 at best, battling bard of Poteidaia. And the warrior wouldn’t have it any other way.
Gabrielle saw the look in her warrior’s eyes and she knew – Xena was offering her everything. Her trust, her heart, her soul. It was all there for the bard without reservation. Marriage or no marriage Gabrielle realized that Xena was hers, would always be hers and nothing would change that. Gabrielle also knew that she would live and die for this glorious warrior that lie waiting beneath her.
The bard cocked her head and examined her closer. Slowly a grin grew on the warrior’s face.
"What?" Xena finally whispered.
"Do you realize how much I truly love you? Everything about you – darkness and light?"
"If it’s anything like I feel for you then yes, I do."
Gabrielle smiled and stroked the warrior’s face that soaked up the attention like a sponge in an ocean.
"So beautiful," Gabrielle whispered. "So incredibly beautiful."
"We have a lot in common," Xena replied before kissing the fingers that swept by her lips.
"Well then," Gabrielle said with a husky sigh. "We must look spectacular together."
"Ares said he’d pay to see that," Xena replied.
Gabrielle stopped kissing Xena’s earlobe she was working on and chuckled into her shoulder instead. "Well if we’re ever hard up for cash-."
"Well never be THAT hard up I can assure you," Xena said as she chuckled too.
They both calmed down a bit and stared deeply at each other.
"I love you Xena."
"I love you Gabrielle."
Gabrielle’s face wore a coy grin that Xena loved greatly. "Then show me."
And show her she did. Repeatedly.
Spent, thirty and hungry the duo decided to leave the quietness of their room to travel downstairs to the noise of the tavern. Looks like the rift raft haven’t moved on, Xena said making a mental note.
"I think I’m beginning to loose my appetite," the bard confessed.
After some chitchat at the bar Gabrielle could tell by that look in Xena’s eyes trouble may lay ahead. It never ceases to amaze me Gabrielle thought. A lover one moment and a fighter the next. She grinned inwardly. For as gentle as those hands were moments ago I’m sure they’ll do some serious damage in this bar if need be.
And sure enough as Gabrielle predicted the fur began to fly. She found herself reluctantly called to action and with a roll of her eyes she jumped into the melee too. And as the last man fell she realized . . .
I love this life.
DOWN HOME (set after 'Old Ares Had A Farm'. Sidenote: This was one of the stories read by Claire and Alex during their triple X show in Pasadena 2001)
Xena had a grin as they lead their horses down the path. The bard couldn’t ignore it any longer.
"Okay, tell me. What is it?" Gabrielle asked with a chuckle in her voice.
"It’s nothing," Xena smiled.
Gabrielle paused a moment to examine Xena. The grin wasn’t leaving.
"No, it’s something. What is it? Thinking about kissing Ares one last time?"
Xena lost the grin and did a double take. "Noooo," the warrior answered indignant.
"Okay," Gabrielle conceded, satisfied that Xena was being truthful. Still something was up and she didn’t let her eyes leave the warrior.
Xena knew she’d have to give an answer. "I was thinking bout you, me and Ares in bed."
"Oh that’s a lovely thought," Gabrielle answered sarcastically.
Xena did laugh out loud at that reaction.
"You find that funny?" Gabrielle prodded with a playful grin.
"It’s not what you think," Xena sighed with a smile.
"Alright Xena – out with it."
Xena knew the time to be cryptic had passed. "When we were in bed that night you kinda forgot where you were."
"Meaning?" the bard asked utterly confused.
Xena knew there was no turning back now. She had to finish. "Well . . .You rolled over and kinda . . . snuggled . . . with Ares."
"Bull SHIT !"
Xena laughed heartily at the bard’s reaction. "No, really, you did."
"I did?" The bard looked truly horrified but Xena had to laugh in spite of it. "And just what did I do?!"
"Well let’s just say that one hand landed on his forehead and the other . . . well, let’s just say it landed farther south."
Gabrielle paused a moment soaking up Xena’s words before she burst out laughing. "You’re full of it! I did not!"
"Wanna go back and ask Ares?" Xena challenged, pointing behind her toward the farmhouse they just left.
Gabrielle quickly realized Xena was being honest. "Just how far south?" Gabrielle asked cautiously.
"All the way to the Egypt sweetheart," Xena chuckled.
Gabrielle closed her eyes and her head hung back in total disbelief and disgust. "Oh Eli give me strength," she sighed.
Xena started to laugh so hard she almost fell off her horse.
"I’m glad I’m here to humor you," Gabrielle said as she took her mare a few paces ahead of Xena.
"Gabrielle," Xena called out as she composed herself. The warrior picked up her pace until she was beside the bard again. "You didn’t know what you were doing. You were asleep. Hell even I rolled over and nuzzled into Ares."
"You did?" Gabrielle asked.
"Yeah but when I felt the stubble I knew - this is not my bard. My bard is not hairy," she chuckled.
"Well you think I would realize that MY WARRIOR doesn’t have that ‘equipment’," Gabrielle chastised herself.
"Not most nights but in that saddlebag back there we’ve got that -."
"Very funny," Gabrielle answered, trying not to laugh.
Xena reached out and gave Gabrielle a light ‘chuck on the shoulder’ that eventually made the bard smile.
"What did Ares do?" Gabrielle asked.
"He said he was in Tartarus," Xena answered in deadpan.
Gabrielle threw her head back and laughed. "Good," she answered. "I finally found a way to get his goat."
"You got more than his goat that night," Xena replied, earning her a playful swat from the bard.
"Don’t worry," Xena added, "I ‘extracted’ you before anything happened. I mean you have a habit of cupping me when-."
"Yeah, yeah. I know," Gabrielle answered. "You don’t need to explain." Gabrielle paused a moment. "Wait a second. You mean Ares didn’t ‘remove me’? You did?"
"I think he was in shock," Xena laughed. "And I wasn’t about to let him get any ideas."
"Lookin out for your bard umm?"
"Always," Xena grinned.
"Well I’ll have to do something really special tonight to thank you," Gabrielle answered in a sexy purr.
"Oh really? And what did you have in mind?" Xena asked, a huskiness coming to her voice with the arrival of her arousal.
Gabrielle wiggled her eyebrows. "If we find an inn tonight . . . make sure you bring in the saddlebags."
Xena quivered in anticipation.
AMAZON QUEENS (set after 'Dangerous Pray')
Xena and Gabrielle lay curled up in the ‘make shift’ hut of straw and burlap. The nation had changed so much in the last 25 years. What was once a powerful village now consisted of scattered tents in a forest.
"Hope it doesn’t rain tonight," Xena remarked as she lie on her back with the bard in her arms.
Gabrielle gave a light chuckled. "Well we’ve stayed in worse conditions," she offered.
"Too true," Xena remarked casually.
A quiet sigh came from the bard.
"Feeling okay?" Xena asked.
"Yes just thinking."
"Melosa – Ephiny – Chilapa – Margot – Varia . . . I’ve had the queen’s mask for a lot of years and I’ve outlived all but one of the acting queens."
Gabrielle rose and looked over at the warrior confused. "You forgot Valaska," Xena added. "She was the queen too until you came back to town."
"I’m not sure if she counts," Gabrielle grinned.
"Well from where I was standing, inside Autolycus that is, she was very much a queen until you arrived and caused her grief," Xena teased.
"I caused HER grief?" the bard chuckled. Xena just smiled and scrunched up her nose in playful gesture. "Well we can joke about it . . . now," the bard added.
Xena pulled the bard back into her arms again. "In any case it seems that being an amazon queen shortens one’s life expectancy drastically."
Gabrielle grinned into the warrior’s shoulder. "That’s just what I was thinking . . . That, and the fact that Varia now has the mask."
"Do you want it back?" Xena asked. "By rights you could challenge her for it."
"No," Gabrielle answered soundly. "But if the moment came and I had to challenge her for it I would."
"You could kill her?" Xena asked.
"Yes," Gabrielle replied, convinced of her answer. "I wouldn’t want to. I’d try to reason with her. But if she gave me no other choice then I would. What was that expression some wise woman told me - ‘Wisdom before weapons’.?"
"It’s true," Xena grinned.
"Yes it is. But sometimes talking gets you nowhere and you have to take action. And if need be, I would."
Another brief silence passed between them until Xena spoke. "Did anyone ask you about Eve while I was gone?"
"You mean did they interrogate me for setting our daughter free and hightailing it out of town?" Gabrielle chuckled.
Xena just nodded.
"Nope," the bard answered. "I think they realized they had a much bigger problem and enemy with Prince Whats-his-face to worry about Eve or my role in her escape."
"Well, he was a scary guy. No doubt about that," Xena answered.
"He scared you?" Gabrielle asked sincerely.
"Well, not me – I’m the warrior princess remember?"
Gabrielle chuckled. "How could I forget," she joked.
Xena smiled. "No seriously. He didn’t scare me so much as ‘worry’ me. But once I had him figured out I realized it was just a matter of time before I could defeat him. Lucky me, that time came sooner than I expected. And I think I taught Varia a little something - - sometimes walking away from a fight is the best way to win."
"Walking away from a fight? Are you SURE you’re the warrior princess?" Gabrielle teased.
"Should I get naked so you can see the scars to prove it?" Xena asked wiggling her eyebrows.
"If we had my old queen hut I’d say yes but these quarters lack the privacy. I’ll just have to take your word for it," Gabrielle answered, giving the warrior a light kiss on the shoulder. "So what’s your opinion?" she added after a bit of silence.
She’s hot headed, over reactive, dedicated to her sisters with a two ton chip on her shoulder. "She’ll make a good queen," Xena answered with a grin.
"Really? I think she’s too short tempered and reactionary myself. But she does love her tribe I’ll give her that. If only she’d realize she can’t do it all on her own she’d do alright."
Xena covered her mouth to stop from laughing out loud as her body began to shake.
"What’s so funny?"
"You," Xena grinned down at the bard. "There was a time when we were so opposite of each other. But to tell the truth, I was thinking exactly what you just said. However, in light of all that, I still think – with time – she’ll make a good queen."
Gabrielle grinned and snuggled deeper into Xena’s embrace. "Guess we really have come full circle haven’t we?"
"Um hm," Xena answered.
The bard could tell by the answer that Xena was getting sleepy. Her fingers began to play with the ends of Xena’s hair. It was so soft and smooth to the touch. And the smell – a mix of cinnamon and vanilla – was wonderful. Gabrielle always loved how the warrior smelled. She felt her arousal start to grow but she pushed the thought aside. Tonight her warrior needed rest. It had been a very long day and the warrior took her fare share of hits today during the battle. Tomorrow however might be a different story and Gabrielle looked eager to the possibilities with a sly smile.
"Goodnight Xena," the bard whispered.
The reply she got was a light snore.
TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES (set after 'You Are There')
Gabrielle’s head shot out around the corner quickly look east then west, then east then west.
"Is the coast clear?" Xena asked.
"Yeah," the bard answered. "Now’s our chance! Go!"
The warrior and bard darted out from their hiding place inside the tavern and moved briskly out the front door.
"I think he’s gone Xena," the bard answered as they walked quickly toward the wooded area. "I don’t know why we just don’t stay at the tavern tonight."
"Well I think this is safer," Xena told him, "For us and for him. Eli help him if he shows up with a spot light on our bedrolls tonight."
"Another world exclusive huh?" Gabrielle answered.
Xena smirked. "Something for that channel . . . What did he call it? Playboy?"
Gabrielle chuckled. "What a silly name eh? Of all the reasons to use that image stealing device of his, you’d think people would have a better use than just sex."
"Sex can be very wonderful to watch," Xena counted with a playful smirk.
"Well that’s true," Gabrielle bashfully admitted. "But think of all the wonderful, emotional stories you could tell instead – the fall of Troy, the death of Caesar or Cleopatra . . . and Sparticus!! Sparticus would make a GREAT story to tell don’t you think! Epic chariot races, struggles within class structures, a romantic love story."
"I’m sure you’d know just where and how to use that viewer thingy that Nigel’s buddy was carrying around wouldn’t you?" Xena chuckled.
"Of course. I mean just think about how you could open the story of Troy. A pan around the room until you see a beautiful woman but you realize that the viewer thingy isn’t on Helen – it’s her reflection you’re seeing and you show her looking at herself in a mirror as she slowly becomes despondent and you have to wonder - What makes a woman so beautiful that unhappy? Then you start to tell the story-."
"I’ve lived the story," Xena reminded her.
"Of course you did and I’D make sure to include you. Of course I’m not sure if folks would think Helen was all that beautiful compared to you," the bard answered affectionately, wrapping her arm around the warriors.
Xena chuckled. "Oh you don’t have to play up to me Gabrielle. I’ve already decided you’re gonna get lucky tonight."
The bard slapped the warrior arm putting on an offended demeanor. "I wasn’t ‘playing up’ to you," Gabrielle answered. "You know I think you’re the most beautiful woman in the world – strongest, quickest . . . great in the bedroll."
"Great in the bedroll? You make it sound soooo romantic," Xena teased.
"Well that’s better than saying you’re the best lay in any village," Gabrielle retorted.
Xena began to laugh, her shoulders rolling. "That’s very true. . . So tell me director Gabrielle, what do you see for tonight?"
"No lights, no camera and lots of action."
When Xena didn’t reply Gabrielle looked up to her for a response.
"Yep," Xena finally said, "If Nigel shows up tonight - he’s a dead man."
Continue to Part IV