|DISCLAIMER: The characters Xena
and Gabrielle, along with others who have appeared in the TV
series XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS, are the sole property of
MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. Their use in this story
does not constitute the author's intent to make a profit or
otherwise infringe on the existing copyright. The interpretation
of the characters in this story is purely the author's own.
Copyright for this fanfiction held by Eva Allen, May 1997.
Constructive criticism and any form of praise are always welcome!
Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
BE ADVISED: While this story contains no actual sex, it
nevertheless depicts a loving relationship between two women. If
this offends you, please find something else to read!
Gabrielle woke with a start in the night and reached instinctively
for her staff. She thought she had heard someone cry out, but now the
forest glade was silent. Even Argo, tethered not far away by the creek,
made no sound. The moon wasn't up yet, so they couldn't have been asleep
more than an hour or two, she estimated. As her eyes searched the
darkness, she made out Xena's huddled form nearby. The warrior woman sat
on her bedroll, hugging her knees and staring out at the dark trees.
"I'm sorry," Xena said without turning. "I didn't mean
to wake you."
Gabrielle let go of her staff and sat up. "Was it another
"Yes. I'll be all right--just go back to sleep."
Gabrielle moved over to sit closer to Xena. "Was it Cirra
again?" she asked.
"Tell me about it."
"What's to tell? There was nothing you haven't heard before--the
fire, the screams, the smell of burning flesh-- And all the time I'm
frantically trying to stop it somehow, but I can't." Xena looked at
Gabrielle for a moment, then turned away again. "I guess I'll just
have to live with these nightmares the rest of my life. It seems to be
part of my penance." With a soft sigh, she let her head rest on her
Gabrielle put her arm around Xena's shoulders. "I wish I knew
what to say to you at times like this. You've done so many good things.
Surely you won't have to--" She stopped suddenly. "Xena, you
feel really hot to me. Are you sick?"
"I don't know. Maybe." Xena's voice sounded flat and
Gabrielle ran her hand across the strong shoulders and back. Xena's
nightshirt was soaked with sweat, and through it, Gabrielle could feel
the hotness of her body. She slid around to sit in front of the warrior
"Let me see," she said softly. Parting the dark hair, she
lifted Xena's face and smoothed back the tendrils that clung damply to
it. She laid her hand in turn on Xena's forehead, temples, and cheeks.
"Your hand feels cool," Xena said.
"That's because you seem to be running quite a fever. No wonder
you're having nightmares!" Gabrielle frowned and considered for a
few moments, then asked, "How's that wound in your thigh?"
"Let me look at it."
Xena straightened out her leg, wincing as she did so. "You won't
be able to see anything in the dark," she said.
"I'll get a light. Why don't you lie down again?"
Xena lowered herself back onto the bedroll and closed her eyes.
Looking at her, Gabrielle felt a little chill of fear deep in her gut.
She thought about the battle, two days earlier, when they had helped
defend a village against a raiding warlord. While kicking out at one of
the attackers, Xena had been stabbed with a dagger. That hadn't slowed
her down, of course. The fight was over and Xena had already tied up the
wound with some old bit of cloth she'd found before Gabrielle even knew
her friend had been hurt. They had been busy afterwards--first tending
the injuries of the villagers, then travelling to this secluded area
where they hoped to rest for a couple of days. Xena hadn't mentioned the
wound and Gabrielle had assumed it was not serious.
She walked over to the fire circle they had made beside a fallen log.
There were only a few embers left within the ring of stones. Feeling
along the ground beside the log, she located the small saucer of oil
that served as their lamp. Then she found a stick, caught it on fire in
the coals, and used it to light the twisted wick. Holding the lamp
carefully in one hand, she picked up the waterskin with the other and
carried it back to where Xena lay. The warrior princess stirred at
Gabrielle's approach and opened her eyes. Gabrielle set the lamp on the
"Do you want some water?" she asked.
Gabrielle lifted Xena's head and steadied the waterskin while she
drank from it. Then she knelt beside the wounded leg.
"Okay," she said, trying to force as much cheerfulness as
possible into her voice, "let's see how this looks."
She folded back the hem of Xena's nightshirt to reveal her thigh,
then picked up the lamp and held it as close to the wound as she dared.
What she saw made her suck in a quick breath. In the flickering light,
Xena's thigh appeared grotesquely swollen, with ominous red streaks
running up the inside of her leg. The skin felt hot and tight to
Gabrielle's touch. The wound itself was not large--about the length of
her little finger--but the swelling was worst in that area.
"How does it look?" Xena asked in the same curiously flat
tone she had used before.
"Not so good. It looks like it hurts a lot." She looked at
her friend's face. "Xena, I can't believe you didn't take better
care of this wound--it's not like you to be so careless! If you had just
told me it was getting infected, we could have done something about it
right away, but now--" Gabrielle looked at the wound again. "I
suppose it's all my fault because I didn't keep checking up on
"Gabrielle." She felt Xena's hand on her arm and suddenly
realized how hysterical she must sound. "Gabrielle, you're right. I
should have taken better care of myself, but it won't help to blame
Gabrielle took a deep breath and let it out again. "I'm
sorry," she said. "What do we need to do here?"
"You'll have to lance the wound."
"You know, cut it open so it can drain. Use that little knife
that's in one of the saddlebags--it's pretty sharp."
"Xena--" Gabrielle swallowed hard. "Xena, you want me
to actually cut you? I don't think I can do that!"
"You'll have to, Gabrielle." Her voice sounded tired, weak,
distant. "I'd do it myself, but right now my head feels like a
roasted egg that's about to explode."
"Okay." Gabrielle closed her eyes for a moment and blew out
her breath. "Okay, I can do it. Just give me a second to get used
to the idea."
She got up and went over to the saddlebags. It didn't take long to
find the knife, and while she was at it, she pulled out a couple of old
pieces of cloth. The moon was coming up, she noted. Soon it would be
high enough to shine into their little grove.
Returning to Xena's side, Gabrielle positioned the lamp on the ground
close to Xena's leg. She tested the knife blade with her finger. It
seemed fairly sharp, but how sharp did a knife need to be for this sort
of thing? Tucking back her hair, she bent over the wound, and tried to
steady her trembling hands.
"Well, here goes," she said through gritted teeth. She felt
Xena tense up as she pressed the knifepoint against the swollen skin
near the scab. To her relief, the wound broke open rather easily. There
was a sharp intake of breath from Xena, but she made no other sound.
"You are one tough woman," Gabrielle commented as she
mopped at the draining wound. "I'm sure I would have screamed my
She glanced at her warrior friend so see how she had taken this
compliment, but Xena lay with her eyes closed and made no response. Her
breathing was rapid and shallow. Gabrielle hurried to finish her task,
fighting off a wave of queasiness.
"Xena," she asked when she was done, "is there some
kind of poultice I could make to put on this leg?"
The warrior princess turned her head restlessly, but gave no answer.
Gabrielle laid down the cloth she had been using and took Xena's face
between her hands.
"Xena! Can you hear me? Talk to me!"
Xena opened her eyes and slowly focused them on Gabrielle.
"What kind of poultice should I make for your leg? Tell me what
herbs to use." She spoke carefully and distinctly, as she would to
someone who was just learning the language.
Xena stared at her for a long moment, then spoke slowly, as if the
words were hard to find.
"We don't . . . have the right herbs. I used them all up."
"I can go get the herbs if you tell me what to look for."
Xena frowned and then said, "You can't find them."
"You mean because it's too dark?"
"No. It's not . . . the right place. They grow--" Xena
stopped speaking, and her eyes began to lose their focus.
"They grow where?" Gabrielle prompted.
"Open country," came the answer finally, with much effort.
Gabrielle sat back. "And here we are in the woods," she
said. Xena closed her eyes. After a second, Gabrielle leaned forward
again to smooth the damp, black hair away from her friend's face.
"You're slipping away from me," she said softly. Then she
bent and kissed Xena's forehead. "Just don't go too far. And don't
forget the way back!"
Reaching for the lamp, she blew it out, then jumped up, grabbed the
big cooking pot from the fireplace, and carried it to the creek to get
cold water. The moon gave enough light now for her to see the way
easily. When she got back, she found an agitated Xena plucking at her
nightshirt and muttering. She set the water pot down and knelt beside
"What is it? What's wrong?"
"Too hot!" she finally made out. "Get this off!"
"Okay. Sit up and raise your arms." She helped Xena into
position, then pulled the shirt off over her head. "Now lie back
down again." Xena sank back onto the bed. "You know,"
Gabrielle mused, "you're really obedient when you're sick. I kind
of like that!"
She rolled up the shirt and tossed it into the grass nearby.
"I'll wash that out first thing in the morning," she promised.
The nightshirts had been a thank-you gift from a woman whose daughter
they had rescued from a slave trader. Simple, shift-like garments, sewn
from soft, thick linen, they were especially warm and nice to wear on
cool nights spent out in the open. In fact, Xena and Gabrielle agreed
that the nightshirts were among the the best gifts they had ever been
Now Gabrielle pushed up the sleeves of her own shirt, dipped a cloth
into the cold water, and began to sponge off Xena's face with it. Then,
with long, gentle strokes, she bathed the warrior woman's neck, breasts,
and stomach. The moon cast a pattern of shadows and light across Xena's
bare, white skin.
"Your body is so beautiful, Xena," Gabrielle said quietly.
"I've always loved it." She dipped the cloth in the water
again and wrung it out. "But I probably wouldn't be saying that to
you if I thought you were really listening," she added with a
little smile. Xena moved restlessly under the cool cloth. "Hey,
remember that first time we went swimming together? I was pretty shy
about it, but not you! There's no reason to be shy about having a body
Gabrielle was silent for a few moments, and her smile faded. "I
can't help thinking about the last time I washed you like this,"
she said. "Except I don't want to think about it because I was
doing it then so that we could--" She stopped with a shudder, as
tears stung her eyes. "Bury you," she finished in a whisper.
She rubbed her sleeve quickly across her eyes. "I really think it
would kill me if I ever had to do that again."
An hour crept past. Then another. And maybe another. The moon was
sinking into the trees again, and the only thing Gabrielle knew for
certain was that she had made four more trips to the creek for cold
water and had drained the wound twice. Her hands were cold from being
constantly in the water, and she couldn't tell by touch whether there
was any change in the fever. Xena's breathing continued to sound ragged;
her pulse was fast and weak. She tossed and shifted restlessly, and
pulled at the bedding, her hair, or Gabrielle. She talked sometimes, but
Gabrielle could understand little of what she said, and when spoken to,
she did not respond.
"This fever of yours is really starting to scare me, Xena,"
Gabrielle said at last. "I don't know if you can hear me or not,
but if you can, please help me fight it! I know you're strong
enough--you've just got to fight! Think how silly it would look if the
great warrior princess died from a simple little dagger wound! Please,
Xena! Please fight!" She hid her face in her hands and fought back
the tears. She tried not to think about a young girl she had once known
in Poteidaia. That girl had fallen ill with a fever and had survived,
but afterwards, her mind had never been the same. Xena, the
Simpleminded. No, Gabrielle could never let that happen!
She dipped the cloth for what seemed like the millionth time and
turned toward Xena just as the warrior princess suddenly sat up. Staring
intently into the dark trees, Xena said, in a perfectly clear voice,
"Callisto, put that sword away!"
Gabrielle whirled to look in the direction of Xena's gaze, but she
saw no one.
"This is not a good time for your tricks," Xena continued
in a low voice. "You know I can't fight you right now, so have some
compassion, for once!"
Her heart pounding, Gabrielle looked again at the spot where Xena's
eyes were focused.
"Xena, I think you're hallucinating," she said. "Callisto's
not here." The warrior princess did not respond, but a look of
terrible fear came into her face.
"No. Not that!" Xena said. "Kill me instead!"
Gabrielle took ahold of Xena's arm. "Listen to me," she
But Xena seemed to hear only the phantom Callisto. Trembling now, she
held her arms stiffly at her sides, making no move to defend herself.
"No, Callisto!" she began again. "No! I beg you--don't do
it!" The fear in Xena's face gave way to sheer terror.
"Xena!" Gabrielle grabbed the warrior by the shoulders and
shook her. "Xena, it's me, Gabrielle! Callisto's not here--you're
just hallucinating. Callisto won't hurt you. I won't let her! Can you
hear me? It's me, Gabrielle!"
She was shouting now, but Xena's terrified gaze never left the dark
trees. "No!" she said again. "Please don't. You'll
destroy what I love most in the world!"
Gabrielle caught hold of Xena's face and forced her to turn toward
her. "Xena, listen to me. It's Gabrielle. I'm going to take care of
you. Callisto can't hurt you. You're safe. Please let me take care of
Then, somewhere deep in the blue eyes, Gabrielle saw a dawning of
recognition. "Gabrielle?" Xena whispered.
"Yes! It's Gabrielle. I'll take care of you. I love you. You're
safe with me."
"I can't save you this time."
"It's okay. I don't need saving. Let me do the saving for a
Xena reached out then--slowly, as if she were trying to break free
from some spell--and caught hold of Gabrielle's arms.
"Don't leave me!" she said.
"I will never leave you, Xena. I'll always be here for you.
Don't you know how much I love you?"
Gently, she pulled Xena toward her, until the dark head lay against
her breast. She held the trembling warrior tenderly, stroking her hair
as she would a child's. "You'll be all right now," she said.
"I'm not going to leave you. You're safe with me."
Slowly, very slowly, she felt Xena begin to relax in her arms.
"I love you so much," Gabrielle continued. "I think I've
loved you from the first moment I ever saw you. I could never leave you.
I want to take care of you the way you've taken care of me so many
When Xena's trembling stopped at last, and she sank heavily against
her, Gabrielle lowered her friend carefully onto the bed. Xena lay very
still, her eyes closed. The breathing was still rapid, but seemed more
regular now. Gabrielle touched Xena's face and thought the skin felt
cooler than before. Was she just imagining that Xena might be better
because she wanted it so much? Some crisis had passed, she was certain,
but what would happen now? Did the path lead on to recovery, or did it
"I can't even say the word," she whispered. Sighing, she
dipped the cloth, wrung it out, and began once more to bathe Xena's body
with cool water.
The moon had vanished and the night was dark again. It can't be that
much longer until dawn, Gabrielle thought. This must be what they mean
by the darkest hour. She moved slowly now; she felt incredibly tired. If
she could just lie down for a few minutes, she would be all right, she
said to herself. If she could just close her eyes for ten minutes . . .
that's all she needed, just ten minutes. She set the water pot aside,
curled up next to Xena, and closed her eyes.
She awoke suddenly. How long had she been asleep? A few minutes? An
hour? Xena was shaking her by the shoulder. "Gabrielle, I'm cold!
Where are the covers? Why don't I have any clothes on?"
Gabrielle scrambled into a sitting position and reached out to touch
Xena's face and arms. The skin felt damp and cool.
"You're cold?" she asked in amazement.
"Yes! I'm freezing!"
"Xena, that's wonderful!"
"Well, it doesn't feel wonderful. I'm shivering so hard that my
teeth are chattering! I need my nightshirt, a blanket, anything!"
Gabrielle snatched up Xena's shirt, felt it, and tossed it aside
again. "I can't put this on you--it's too wet. Sit up. You can wear
In one swift movement, she pulled the garment off over her head. Then
she slipped it on Xena. "It might be a little tight in the
shoulders," she said, "but at least it's dry and warm."
"What will you do?" Xena asked.
"Don't worry. I'll be fine. Now lie down on your side--this one,
so you won't hurt your leg."
Xena eased herself down and Gabrielle spread a sheepskin over her.
Then she slid in under the cover and snuggled up to Xena's back,
nestling her face against the strong shoulder. "We'll have you warm
in no time," she said as she put her arm around the warrior
By the time Xena had stopped shivering, Gabrielle was fast asleep.
* * * * *
The sun was high when she woke up. She opened her eyes just long
enough to note this, then snuggled back down into the sheepskin cover
which had been tucked so warmly around her. Gradually, memories of the
previous night came to her, along with the realization that, although
she had gone to sleep wrapped around Xena, she was alone in bed now.
Raising up slightly, she looked toward the fireplace. Xena, dressed
in her leathers and a light cloak, sat on the log, staring into the
fire. She held a mug cupped between her hands, and sipped from it
occasionally. She seemed to be deep in thought.
Gabrielle sat up, holding the sheepskin around her, and then noticed
her nightshirt lying neatly folded nearby. She put it on, walked over to
the log, and sat down by Xena. "How do you feel?" she asked.
Xena looked up. "Kind of weak, but definitely better than I did
last night. I think if we stay here and rest for a day or two I'll be
"How's the leg?"
Xena set down her mug and held aside the cloak. "I don't know
how it compares with last night, but take a look."
Gabrielle squatted down next to Xena and laid a hand gently on the
thigh. "Well, it's still swollen, but it seems better than
before," she said. "The wound itself is looking pretty
"I lanced it again this morning," Xena said. "I seem
to remember getting a lecture last night about taking better care of
myself," she added with a grin.
"And a well-deserved lecture it was!" said Gabrielle. She
smiled as she sat on the log again.
"So you think I'll live to kick another warlord?"
"Yes, I do, but there were a couple of times last night when I
wasn't so sure."
"Gabrielle." Xena laid her hand on Gabrielle's arm.
"You took good care of me last night, and you probably did a lot
more than I'm even aware of."
"You would have done the same for me." Gabrielle gave
Xena's hand a little squeeze.
"Yes, of course I would have. But I still want you to know that
I appreciate it."
Gabrielle squirmed and looked away. "Any time, no problem. Just
don't make it too soon!"
"Do you want some tea?" Xena asked.
"Sure. I can get it."
"No, sit still. I'll get it. I feel the need to demonstrate the
results of your good nursing."
Gabrielle smiled and watched Xena get tea leaves out of a small pouch
and put some in each of their mugs. Then she got up and stepped to the
fire to dip hot water out of the pot. Xena moved stiffly on the injured
leg, and Gabrielle suspected that it hurt more than she was willing to
"I need you to tell me some things," Xena said. She handed
the steaming mug to Gabrielle, then filled her own and sat down.
"What kinds of things?"
"About last night. I remember some of what happened, but there
are a lot of gaps. And I'm not even sure that what I remember really
"You were out of your mind with fever, Xena. I'm surprised you
remember anything at all."
"Tell me about it. What did I do? What did I say?"
Gabrielle blew on her tea for a moment to cool it, then took a little
"Well," she said, "you thrashed around a lot, and you
said you felt really hot. You wanted to take off your nightshirt, so we
did that and then you spent most of the night naked while I kept putting
cold water on you to get the fever down."
"Uh-huh. What else?"
"You talked some, but I couldn't understand much of what you
said. I think you were already hallucinating then, but it got worse
later on." She turned to look at Xena. "Do you remember that
you thought Callisto was here?"
"Yes, I remember."
"Then I don't need to tell you that part."
"Yes, you do," said Xena. "I want to hear about it
because I don't know how much I remember."
Gabrielle turned her gaze back to the fire and took another sip of
tea. "It was weird, really. You just sat up all of a sudden and
started talking to someone--to Callisto--except when I looked over where
you were looking, I couldn't see anyone there. And you said things like,
'No, don't do it!' And you got really scared. In fact, I've never seen
you so frightened." She looked at Xena, and the warrior met her
"That went way beyond fright, Gabrielle. It was terror, pure and
simple. I don't think I've ever felt anything like it--" then she
stopped and looked away again. "No, I'm wrong. I do remember one
other time when I felt that kind of terror."
"When was that?"
Xena turned back to her. "It was that time when you were hurt
and then you stopped breathing and I thought I had lost you."
"Really?" Gabrielle swallowed hard. "You never told me
She stared at Xena until the warrior dropped her gaze. "No, I
never told you," she admitted. "But I don't think I knew it
myself until just now."
Gabrielle looked down into her tea mug. She swirled the liquid,
watched the leaves slowly settle, and then took a drink. The two women
were silent for several moments, then Gabrielle asked, "So why were
you so afraid of Callisto? You've fought her many times before."
"I was afraid because this time I couldn't fight her. I had no
weapons; I couldn't even move. It was like I was paralyzed or something.
The only thing I could do was plead with her, and you know how much good
that does with Callisto."
Gabrielle turned to look at Xena again. "So she was going to
kill you and you couldn't defend yourself," she said.
"No, she wasn't going to kill me. Not physically, anyway."
Xena paused and looked directly into Gabrielle's eyes. "She was
going to kill you."
Gabrielle blinked and shook her head. She opened her mouth, but no
words came out. Finally she turned away to look at the fire.
"I couldn't save you, I couldn't save myself," said Xena
softly. "I was totally helpless, and that's what was so
scary." She took a drink of tea. "But I need to know what
happened after that," she continued. "When you saw that I was
so scared, what did you do? How did you get through to me?"
"I just started yelling at you. And I was shaking you. I kept
saying, 'It's me, Gabrielle!' and trying to tell you that Callisto
wouldn't hurt you. I said I would take care of you."
"And what did I do?"
"You finally seemed to recognize me, and when you did, you
started saying things like 'Don't leave me,' and I said I
wouldn't." Gabrielle paused and looked at Xena again. "Why is
this so important to you?"
"I'm trying to understand something. Just humor me, okay?"
"Did you say anything else besides that? Just that you would
take care of me and you wouldn't leave me?"
"You remember this, don't you?"
"Maybe. But I want to hear it from you. Please, Gabrielle."
Gabrielle took a deep breath and slowly let it out again. She didn't
look at Xena. "I said I love you. I said I think I've loved you
from the start, and that I love you very much." She waited, but
there was no response. Looking over, she saw that Xena was staring at
the embers, her face impassive. Gabrielle reached down to pick up a
stick and poked the fire with it. Then she added a couple of small logs.
She drank the last of her tea, dumped out the leaves, and set the mug
down. Her hands were trembling, she noticed, and there was a dull ache
in her heart.
"Do you want some more tea?" Xena asked.
"No, I guess maybe I should get dressed and think about what
we're going to eat today. And I have to wash out your nightshirt."
She stood up, but before she could move away, Xena took hold of her
"Please don't go, Gabrielle," she said, looking up.
"There are some things I need to say to you, if you'll listen. I'm
just sitting here like a coward, trying to figure out how to get
Gabrielle sat down. Her insides suddenly seemed to be trembling just
like her hands were.
"Now would you like more tea?" Xena asked.
"Yes, I guess so." She handed over her mug.
Xena got up to refill it and said, "Sometimes I still wonder why
you stay with me, Gabrielle. I'm not an easy woman to live with. I'm
always leading you into danger--not to mention being haunted by all
these nightmares and demons from my past." She brought the tea to
"Xena, you know why I stay with you. I've told you
The warrior put her fingers on Gabrielle's lips. "Your job right
now," she said with a smile, "is simply to listen and not
talk, no matter how long it takes me to say this. Do you think you can
Gabrielle grinned as Xena removed her hand. "I'll certainly
try," she said, "but you know how I am!"
"Yes, I know," Xena said with a wink. She dipped water into
her own mug, then sat down and stared at the fire again.
"Gabrielle," she said, after a moment's pause, "you
always seem to know how you feel about things, and you're so good at
expressing your feelings. You say things that make people feel good,
that inspire them. Sometimes I wish I could be more like that, but
obviously, I never will be."
Xena blew into her tea mug, and Gabrielle watched the wisps of steam
rise past her face. Xena had never talked to her quite like this before,
and it made her feel oddly nervous.
"I guess a lot of the time I don't even know what my feelings
are," Xena continued. "At least, I don't stop to think about
them--I just act on them. That's why it was so scary for me last night
in that dream, or whatever you want to call it. I couldn't act at all. I
could only feel my terror, and I thought it would consume me. Maybe you
could have talked your way out of the situation, but not me." She
took a sip of tea, then looked at Gabrielle. "Is this making any
kind of sense?"
Gabrielle nodded and smiled brightly. Then she placed her fingers on
her lips, just as Xena had done earlier. Xena stared at her for a second
and then laughed. Reaching over, she rumpled Gabrielle's hair.
"You silly thing!" she said. "I'm really glad you keep
sticking around--even though, like I said, I'm not sure why you do. It
must be really frustrating for you to be with someone who has so much
trouble just talking about how she feels."
Gabrielle bit her lip hard. Not only did she desperately want to
talk; she wanted to give Xena a hug. But fear of rejection stopped her.
After a moment, Xena began speaking again. "Last night when I
was so scared and was feeling so totally helpless, something really
amazing happened, and that's what I've been sitting here trying to
understand. Right in the midst of all that terror, I started hearing a
voice--your voice, Gabrielle--and it was saying things like, 'I'll take
care of you,' 'you're safe with me,' and . . . 'I love you.'"
Xena turned toward her, and the intensity in the blue eyes was almost
more than she could bear.
"Gabrielle," Xena said, "I'm the one who always does
the taking care of people. I help people, I heal people, I rescue
people. I'm used to doing it all, without asking for help from anyone. I
guess it's just hard for me to believe that anyone would--or could--want
to help me. I can't seem to trust people--though I'm not sure why."
"Xena, why wouldn't you have trouble trusting people?"
Gabrielle broke in. "Look at all the times you've been betrayed!
Your father abandoned you, Ares has tricked you more than once, Julius
Caesar crucified you--" She stopped abruptly when she saw the
warrior looking at her with one eyebrow raised.
"Oh my gosh! I'm sorry!" she exclaimed. "I forgot I
wasn't supposed to talk."
Xena grinned. "It's okay. I knew you wouldn't last too long, but
at least it gave me a chance to get started. And what you just said made
a lot of sense." She gave Gabrielle a quick hug. "But I'm not
quite done yet, so you'll have to be patient."
"Okay. I will be."
"The thing is," Xena said, gulping the last of her tea and
setting the mug down, "last night when I knew how helpless I was, I
realized I would have to try trusting someone else for a change--that I
had to trust you to save me." She looked at Gabrielle. "I
can't tell you how hard it was. It felt like I was throwing myself off a
cliff without a rope--with only your arms to catch me somewhere, far
below. I know it's the kind of thing I've asked you to do more than once
. . . and now I appreciate how much courage it took to do it."
Xena reached out for Gabrielle's hand and cradled it between her own.
Gabrielle felt her heart pounding. She couldn't speak; her eyes never
left Xena's face.
"The amazing part about it," Xena continued, "is that
when I finally did it--when I trusted you to save me--I suddenly felt so
free. All the terror vanished. I could move again. It was
beautiful." She lifted Gabrielle's hand and kissed it. "You're
"Xena--" Gabrielle whispered. But no other words would
"It's taken me all this time to see it," Xena said softly.
"Your love is my salvation. I've been trying so hard to save me
from myself, but I can't do it. Only you can do it. I just have to let
Then she put her arms around Gabrielle and pulled her close.
Gabrielle hid her face against Xena's chest and let the tears stream
down her cheeks. "I haven't done anything to deserve so great a
gift," Xena said, "but thank you. I love you with all my
heart, more than life, more than anything in the world."
Gabrielle felt Xena kiss her on the top of her head. "Hey,"
said the warrior princess, "have I finally caught my gabby
Gabrielle without anything to say?" Gabrielle nodded and looked up
into the blue eyes.
"What are the tears for?" Xena asked.
"Because what you said was so incredibly . . . beautiful."
"My incurable little romantic," said Xena with a smile.
Then she began to kiss Gabrielle's tears away.
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