Xena, Gabrielle, Argo, and the Amazons do not belong to me. They belong to they wonderful folks at MCA/Universal, who do not know I'm borrowing their characters. (Don't sue me! I'm a poor graduate student!) I'm not making any money from this story, and I promise to return all the characters in one piece when I'm done.
Yet another disclaimer: This story contains love scenes between two consenting, adult women. If this bothers you--what are you doing on this page anyway?--or if you just don't see this in the show--were you *asleep* during 'ADITL' and 'The Quest'?--then read no further. Also, if you're under 18 or live in a state where this is illegal, don't you read it either. The Censor Gods will confiscate your computer--really.
Spoiler warning: Vague references to 'The Quest'.
I, like all fanfic authors, live for feedback. Write to me, Dani Metadi, at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me what you think. Constructive criticism is welcome. Flames will be doused with an accelerant and returned to the sender. And now, if you're still here after all that, on with the show...
Everything To Do With Love
By: Dani Metadi
Xena and Gabrielle had been in the Amazon village for several days. Argo had been injured--a cut on her right foreleg, not terribly serious, but needing time to heal--and the Amazons had happily taken them in for a while.
Xena was sitting in one of the large, open rooms where the Amazons ate and met with each other and held their festivals. She was eating dinner and talking to one of the Amazon guards. The Amazon woman--perhaps a few years older than Xena herself--had introduced herself as Inra. She and Xena had been talking for about twenty minutes when Xena became aware of Gabrielle coming up behind her.
There happened to be a mirror on the wall across from Xena, behind Inra, in which the warrior could see the approaching bard's reflection. Actually, though, Xena would have sensed Gabrielle's presence even if she had not seen her. She fully expected the younger woman to simply walk over and join them, so what happened surprised her.
Xena watched in the mirror as Gabrielle walked up behind her. A moment later, she felt and saw the bard put her hands on her shoulders. Looking at Gabrielle's reflection, Xena was startled by the look in the girl's eyes and the way she was holding herself. She was standing there with an expression that brooked no nonsense, her hands resting on the warrior's shoulders heavily enough to convey an unmistakable message. Mine. Back off.
Inra was no fool--she understood the unspoken directive. She stood gracefully and said, "Good evening, Queen Gabrielle. It was an honor to meet you, Warrior. I'll be needed at my post soon." She turned and disappeared into the crowd.
Xena didn't miss the look of satisfaction that momentarily crossed Gabrielle's face before she stepped over to the vacated chair and sat down. That wasn't accidental, the warrior realized. She knows how possessive a gesture that was, and she knows exactly what she just did. Interesting.
"What was that about?"
Gabrielle knew better than to ask what she meant. "Did it bother you?"
"That depends on your motivation," Xena replied neutrally.
"She was flirting with you."
"Yes, she probably was. I repeat, what was all that about?"
Gabrielle was suddenly unsure herself. "I just... It bothered me."
"Jealous?" Xena asked, knowing the chance she was taking.
There was a pause. "Yes, you could say that. I wanted her to leave you alone."
Xena smiled slightly. "I can look after myself, Gabrielle. I am a warrior."
"Yeah, but you're my warrior, and it wouldn't hurt anything for people around here to know it. She's not the first one to...do what she was doing."
"A little possessive, aren't you?"
"And you're not?" the bard retorted. "People call me 'Xena's bard,' so I feel somewhat justified in thinking of you as my warrior."
She's better able to explain herself than I thought. "You do realize that she probably now thinks we're..." She trailed off and left the sentence hanging, not really thinking the bard would finish it. Gabrielle surprised her.
"Lovers. I know. I don't mind." Then her voice, which had been strong, softened a bit. She suddenly sounded much more the vulnerable girl she had been when Xena met her. "Do you?"
Xena thought about that. "No," she finally said. "I don't mind. Considering that you're Queen of the Amazons, it probably does wonders for my image." She noticed the look on Gabrielle's face. "Of course, that's not the only reason why I don't mind."
Xena smiled. "Really. You're a very beautiful young woman, Gabrielle. Beautiful...and special. If people think I'm your lover, then I'm flattered."
"You actually mean that," Gabrielle realized aloud. At Xena's nod, she said, "You know...they say that rumors have some basis in fact."
"Where there's smoke, there's fire," Xena said quietly.
"Is there?" Gabrielle asked.
Xena was startled by the intensity of her friend's question. Somehow, this conversation had gotten much more serious than she'd intended. "Maybe we ought to talk about this somewhere else."
Gabrielle considered that response--and the possible implications thereof--and nodded. "Maybe we should."
They returned in silence to the large hut that had been designated as Gabrielle's for the duration of her visit. Gabrielle was trying to convince herself that she had not just gotten into something totally over her head. Xena was trying just as hard to reconcile the events of a few moments ago with her long-standing impression of Gabrielle. Neither of them was having much success.
As soon as they stepped inside the hut, Gabrielle took a deep breath and turned around to face Xena, prepared to say that she wasn't sure what had come over her in the meeting hall. When she saw the look in the warrior's eyes, though, she remembered exactly what had come over her. Gods, she looks so... The bard was uncharacteristically at a loss for words.
Xena, on the other hand, found herself in the unusual position of doing the talking. "I think there was something you wanted to discuss," she prompted.
Gabrielle found her voice again then. "Yes. I'm trying to tell you-- Uh, I've been trying to tell you--" She shook her head abruptly and closed her eyes, sitting down heavily on the bed behind her. "Gods, I have no idea what I'm doing."
Xena tried very hard not to smile. "Is that 'I have no idea what I'm doing' as in 'I really shouldn't be doing this' or 'I have no idea what I'm doing' as in 'I want to do this, but I'm at a loss as to how to go about it'?"
Gabrielle opened her eyes. "The latter, definitely." She looked up at Xena. "Ever since we got here, Xena... No, I might as well be honest...for almost a year now, I've been feeling... I'm not sure how to describe it. I really care about you. That's been true the whole time, and I hope you know that." At the warrior's slow nod, she went on. "Lately, though, it's different. It's more than just friendship caring. Here, with the Amazons, it's even stronger. I know a lot of them feel about each other...the way I feel about you."
Uh-oh. She's way ahead of me here. She's clearly been thinking about this for a while now, but I've been caught totally off-guard. Xena slowly walked over and sat down next to Gabrielle, close but not touching. "Gabrielle, I know what I think you're saying-- what I hope you're saying, but I have to be sure. I'd never want to do anything that might hurt you. You sound a little...confused." She fully expected the bard to bristle at that.
Instead, Gabrielle nodded slightly. "I am confused." She sighed. "I grew up in Poteidaia, for the gods' sake. Until I met the Amazons, I had no idea that it was even possible for two women to...to love each other. I know how I feel, but I don't have any...basis for comparison. I'm not sure what it's supposed to feel like to be in love."
I hate to bring this up now, but we're going to have to talk about it sooner or later. Might as well drag it all out now. "Perdicas--" she began.
"Was a serious mistake," Gabrielle cut her off. "I know that now. He was a good friend. I trusted him. I even cared about him. I'm terribly sorry to have gotten him killed. But I didn't love him." She shook her head. "Isn't that strange? I'm better at telling what love isn't that I am at telling what it is."
She sounds pretty sure about all of that. When did she start being like this--a grown woman? Where was I when all this happened? "It's not so strange." She paused. "Gabrielle, did anyone ever talk to you about...this?"
Gabrielle shrugged. "My mother talked to me about marriage. She was definitely talking about men, though. Some of my friends talked about...sex. But love...no. It's always been sort of a mystery to me. It still is."
"I understand." The younger woman looked at her skeptically. "Really, I do. I was your age once, you know, hard as that may be to believe." Xena was hoping to get a smile out of Gabrielle. She succeeded.
Actually, Gabrielle laughed a bit. "It's not so hard. I'm just so afraid that whatever I say will come out sounding...stupid."
"Gabrielle, nothing you could say to me would sound stupid. Just talk to me." Gods, did I just say that? "Tell me how you feel. Don't worry about how it'll sound. Take your time."
She did take her time. In fact, she took so much time that Xena thought she wasn't going to say anything at all. Finally, though, she did. "For a long time now, I've been catching myself watching you when you aren't looking. I've lain awake sometimes at night and watched you sleep. I don't think it's something even the closest friends do. It's not like I'm really checking on you or anything. I just like to look at you. You're beautiful. There've been so many times I've wanted to reach out and touch you--not for a reason, particularly--just to touch you." She stopped, seeming to expect Xena to say something.
"That's been mutual," the warrior admitted quietly.
That seemed to encourage the bard. "For a while I thought there was something wrong with me. Then, when we were here after...after you died, and I was feeling so confused...I met Ilona and Alia." Xena recognized the names of two of the older Amazons, who had been a couple for the better part of twenty years. She nodded to indicate to Gabrielle that she knew who they were. "I guess they made me realize that what I was feeling was normal after all. I was trying to get over thinking you were... thinking I'd lost you forever. I wanted so much to say something to you, but..."
"But?" Xena prompted after a moment of silence.
"But I didn't think you... I mean, you kissed me, and then you never said anything about it. I never really thought you could feel the same way about me that I feel about you."
"Because I'm not...your type, I guess." She sounded resigned.
"My type? What do you mean?" Xena was startled at the hurt tone in her friend's voice.
"I'm not a warrior. I'm not particularly tough, really. I talk all the time, which I know you absolutely hate. Sometimes I feel like you just put up with me because it's easier than trying to get rid of me."
"Oh, Gabrielle, that's not true." She reached out and put her arms around the bard. "You're a lot tougher than you think. I certainly don't hate you because you talk to me. And I do not just 'put up with' you. I want you with me, Gabrielle. I should tell you that more often, I guess, instead of just assuming you know."
Gabrielle drew back a little to look up at Xena. "You mean you want me with you as a friend, or..."
Xena smiled, one of the rare, special smiles she generally reserved just for the young bard. "That's up to you, Gabrielle." Her voice was gentle. "You're very special to me-- more than anyone else ever has been. I don't want to lead you into anything you don't really want. I need to be sure you know what you're getting yourself into."
"I'm not sure I understand what you mean." She really didn't.
How can I explain this? "You know...what I was. I have changed, Gabrielle, but I can't just suddenly turn myself into a totally trusting, happy person. I have my demons to deal with. I'm afraid I always will. I don't want them to be your demons, too. I don't want you jump off a cliff without looking at what a long drop it is. Do you really want to spend the rest of your life with an ex-warlord who still has nightmares about her past and still isn't sure whether she'll ever be able to make up for the things she did?"
Gabrielle was amazed by Xena's monologue, which was quite probably the longest and most sincere thing the warrior had ever said to her. One phrase in particular leaped out at her. "You want me...for the rest of my life?" she asked, hardly daring to believe it.
"Yes." She cupped the younger woman's face in her hands and slowly forced intense green eyes to meet hers. "I couldn't have you for just a little while, Gabrielle. My feelings for you are too strong for that. I don't think I could let you go. So yes, I would want you for the rest of your life if..."
"If what?" Gabrielle asked softly.
"If you love me," Xena whispered back. "If we make love." Now you've done it. That probably scared her off.
But it hadn't. Gabrielle studied Xena's face and eyes. The warrior looked more vulnerable than she ever had before. Gabrielle knew instinctively what an amazing gift that was, that Xena trusted her that much. She almost looks afraid. Gabrielle had to show her that that trust was not misplaced. Almost before she realized it, she said, "I love you." Her voice was low but strong. "I've loved you for so long..."
Xena could feel something stir inside her, a part of her heart that hadn't been touched in a very long time. "I love you, too." She watched as her words changed what she saw in Gabrielle's eyes. Xena suspected that the feelings there reflected her own-- relief, joy, caring...and most of all, love.
Simultaneously, they leaned toward each other until their faces nearly touched. Xena paused and allowed Gabrielle to slowly close the final distance between them. The moment their lips met, any lingering doubts either of them might have had evaporated. Nothing had ever felt so right. It didn't take long for a kiss that had started out slowly, the barest touch, to deepen. Soon they were exploring each other's mouths, stroking, caressing, memorizing.
It was when their hands began to move as well that Xena forced herself to draw back. She caught her breath and said, "Gabrielle, you don't have to do this. Don't rush into--"
"I want this." She leaned forward to murmur into Xena's ear. "I've wanted this for a very long time." Her voice was breathy and low. "Show me..."
There was no way Xena was going to refuse a request like that, but she still felt compelled to say something else. "If I do anything that hurts you or makes you uncomfortable, you tell me, and I'll stop. Same thing if I scare you or if you just want to stop. You can change your mind, okay?"
"Okay," Gabrielle whispered against Xena's neck. "And if something feels good?"
Xena smiled. Somehow, Gabrielle always knew exactly what to say to dispel her tension. "Well, tell me that, too." She slipped her hands around Gabrielle's waist.
"Mmm. That feels pretty good," she murmured as Xena's hands lightly stroked the bare skin just above her skirt.
Also at this end, Xena thought. The bard had started nuzzling her way down Xena's neck, working her way toward the hollow of her throat. It was the sort of thing that could easily make a person lose her concentration, which was not what Xena wanted--not yet, anyway. She drew her hands back up and started unfastening the laces on the front of Gabrielle's top.
"No fair," the bard protested. "You're still wearing all that armor." She felt rather than heard the laugh that rumbled in Xena's chest.
"So I am," she admitted. "I take it you think you could do something about that?" She stood slowly, drawing the bard up with her.
"Definitely." Gabrielle smiled up at her warrior. "I'd hate to wake up in the morning with armor prints all over me."
Xena shivered slightly as Gabrielle began removing her armor. By the time her breastplate, bracers, greaves, and boots were off, she was having to remind herself that Gabrielle was supposed to be the novice at this. She worked hard to find her voice. "Now you're wearing more clothes than I am," she said.
Gabrielle's eyes sparkled. "And whose fault is that? I've
been busy getting your clothes off."
Once again, Xena was amazed at how relaxed Gabrielle seemed. "So I've noticed." She went back to working on Gabrielle's clothing. This time the bard submitted gracefully.
A few minutes later, their clothing lay in a mixed heap around their
feet. They had seen each other naked before, of course, but this
was different. Now they felt perfectly comfortable to stare at each
other with open admiration. Xena reached out to run her hands down
Gabrielle's sides, closely observing the effect the light touch had.
"By the gods, you are beautiful," she murmured.
Xena was unaware of the unintentional quote until Gabrielle laughed. Even that was suddenly an erotic sound. "Isn't that my line?"
I've never had a lover who could actually make me laugh at a time like this. "Yeah," she chuckled. "I guess it is." Then she slid her hands around Gabrielle's waist and pulled her close. They both gasped as softness met softness in such an intimate way for the first time.
Their hands explored freely until Gabrielle finally said, "I think I need to lie down before I fall down."
"Mmm. Good idea." Xena gently lifted the bard in one quick movement and laid her back on the bed, quickly covering the smaller woman's body with her own. She held most of her weight up on her arms, not wanting to frighten Gabrielle.
Gabrielle, however, was having none of that. "Come on down here," she half- growled, putting surprisingly strong arms around Xena and pulling her down.
Xena let herself sink down into the softness of her lover's body. They fit together perfectly. Somehow, at this point, that was no surprise. "You feel so good," Xena managed to get out before Gabrielle's lips found hers again. This time there was absolutely no hesitation in the kiss. It was long and slow and deep and conveyed all their hunger for each other. When they finally came up for air, Xena started working her way down Gabrielle's neck, kissing and nipping lightly.
Gabrielle's hands moved restlessly from Xena's back to her shoulders to her hair, where they happily tangled themselves. Without even realizing it, Gabrielle was instinctively pushing Xena lower. When the warrior had absorbed enough of the feel of the bard's pulse under her lips, she obeyed the silent command and worked her way downward.
Gabrielle was rapidly losing herself. She had never known anything could feel this good. The feelings intensified even more when Xena's mouth found her breasts. Gabrielle wasn't even aware that she was moaning, but her soft sounds of pleasure were encouraging her lover. Actually, Xena didn't need much encouraging. She knew she'd never get tired of the feel and taste of Gabrielle's breasts. Which, in turn, made her wonder about the feel and taste of other places...
For a moment, Gabrielle was aware only that Xena's mouth and hands had left her skin. She arched upward to try to renew the contact. Then she felt her lover's touch again--hands gently parting her thighs, fingers probing, and finally Xena's warm mouth on her. The moaning became constant. Finally, she couldn't stand it anymore. "Please," she whimpered. She wasn't even sure what she was asking for, but she knew she couldn't wait any longer for it.
Xena heard Gabrielle's soft plea. She nearly came herself from hearing the desperate note in that familiar voice and knowing she had put it there. She clamped down on her own emotions and resolved to concentrate on Gabrielle. Slowly, she slipped two fingers into the soft, welcoming wetness of the bard's body. Gently stroking her fingers in and out, she located the small, hard nub just above them and laved it with her tongue.
That was all it took. Xena felt a shudder run through the small body under hers and heard Gabrielle cry out--her name, long and loud. She stayed where she was a moment longer, moving her fingers just a bit more. Then she slowly withdrew and moved up to take the still-shivering young woman in her arms.
Gabrielle didn't know where she was, or who she was, or anything else--and she didn't care. She felt as if she had fallen from a great height, but when she finally returned to herself, she didn't hit the ground. She found herself cradled tenderly in strong arms. When she opened her eyes, she saw deep blue ones staring into hers. "Xena," she murmured.
"I'm here," Xena assured her, understanding her disorientation. "Are you okay?" She was pretty sure she knew the answer to that one already.
Once again, Gabrielle quoted something that was familiar to both of them. "Oh, yeah. I can't see, but I'm good."
Xena kissed her gently and then smiled against her mouth. "That good, huh?" she joked.
"Mmm-hmm," Gabrielle murmured.
Xena was touched by the obviously sincere response. "I love you," she whispered.
Gabrielle focused on her eyes and said seriously, "I love you, too." Then she grinned. "Give me a minute, and I'll prove it." She was pleased to feel the tremor that ran through Xena's body.
Xena willingly gave her the minute, keeping her arms around the smaller
woman and lightly stroking her back. She had almost forgotten what
a pleasant feeling it was just to cuddle with someone. She hadn't
really expected Gabrielle to reciprocate. Once again, though, the
bard surprised her.
Gabrielle proved herself to have been a remarkably quick study. Her instincts for knowing just where Xena liked to be touched were amazingly good. Whatever she lacked in skill, she made up for in tenderness and heartfelt passion. Xena had never felt more loved or more satisfied than when she returned to herself in Gabrielle's arms after her climax. She fell asleep with her head on the younger woman's shoulder, feeling content and safe and cared for. For the first time in a long time, she slept dreamlessly and deeply.
When Xena woke up the next morning, she was immediately aware of three things. One, she'd slept much more soundly than she usually allowed herself to. Two, she felt unusually good this morning. Three, she was being watched. She opened her eyes slowly and was mildly startled to find another set of eyes--deep, green ones--just inches from hers. She recognized those eyes, though. Gabrielle.
It all came back to her in a sudden rush. Oh gods, I can't believe I've done this. She told me she loved me, and I-- All thoughts along that line ended abruptly when Gabrielle bent her head and kissed her lightly. "Good morning," the bard whispered. Well, Xena thought, I guess she is okay with this.
"Good morning," she responded, letting herself smile.
"You okay? You looked like you were going to bolt there for a minute." Gabrielle sounded a little unsure.
"I'm sorry. I'm just not used to waking up with someone on top of me like that. Not that it's unpleasant or anything--I have a feeling I could get used to it pretty easily. I was surprised, is all."
"I was a little startled when I woke up myself. I'm glad I woke up first, though. I got to watch you for a while. You seem more...at peace with yourself." She smiled. "Or am I totally overestimating my own importance?"
"No, you're not. I am more at peace. Love does that to people." She hugged Gabrielle tightly.
"I know. I can feel it, too. We're good together, aren't we?"
Xena smiled amusedly at the understatement. "Oh, yeah."
"Mmm." She settled herself comfortably against Xena. "I hope you're not going to insist on getting up before dawn today."
"Nope. This warrior is taking the day off."
"I see. And what are you planning to do with your day off, warrior?"
"Oh, I have a few ideas about that."
I'll bet. "Any of these ideas involve me?"
Xena chuckled. "They all do." She rolled the two of them over so that she could look into Gabrielle's eyes. "My plans for the rest of my life all involve you."
Gabrielle's eyes widened. "You realize," she said softly, "that I could take that as a proposal."
For a long moment, Xena didn't respond. Finally, she said, "Well?"
"Well what?" Gabrielle asked.
"Yes or no?"
Gods, she actually meant it. "Yes," she whispered. Then, a little louder, a little stronger, "Yes."
Xena buried her face in Gabrielle's neck for a moment to hide her relief. Gabrielle picked up on it immediately. "You didn't actually think I'd say no, did you?"
"No, not really, but..." She pulled back to look at the bard. "I guess I just still have a hard time believing how lucky I am."
Gabrielle drew her down and kissed her deeply enough to make her forget her lingering fears. "It has nothing to do with luck...and everything to do with love."