Page last updated: January 1, 2005
"I'm not saying it again, Gabrielle."
"Oh yes you are. You can't just drop something like that on me and then walk away. By the gods, Xena, this changes everything!"
Xena stopped walking away and turned around.
"It doesn't have to," she said quietly, a sudden fear of losing her best friend subduing the normally forthright warrior.
"It's just, I mean, I-I've never.. I've never really thought of you like that. I mean, not really... Uh.."
Without warning, Gabrielle remembered all the times she'd completely lost her train of thought because Xena had suddenly appeared naked in front of her from bathing in a lake or stream. All the poems she'd written about Xena's beauty, both inside and out. The insane jealousy she'd always felt towards anyone who seemed to come between her and Xena. She'd always needed Xena's attention, not just her approval.
"I, um, I mean, I never thought you thought about me like that."
"I'm sorry, I shouldn't have told you. Just forget I said anything."
"I can't forget something like that, Xena. You're in love with me. That's what you just said."
"Yeah, and I'm starting to regret it more and more," Xena mumbled.
"How... I mean, how do you know that's what it is? I mean, I love you, you love me. How do you know it's more than that?"
Xena looked away. Gabrielle could be really dense sometimes.
"When you married Perdicus, you knew what you felt for him wasn't just friendship, right? Well, it's the same for me."
It was Gabrielle's turn to look away. She'd known no such thing.
"I think that was a little different, Xena."
"How? Because he was a man and I'm a woman? That really doesn't change anything, Gabrielle. It's just a preference."
Gabrielle shook her head.
"That's not what I meant. I know all about that, Xena. I'm the Queen of the Amazons, remember?"
Xena nodded and looked around at the trees on either side of the trail they'd been walking along. She really just wanted the conversation to be over with so they could go back to normal.
"It's just that I didn't feel anything more than friendship for Perdicus."
Xena's head snapped back around to peer at Gabrielle's face. What was she talking about?
"You married a man you weren't in love with?"
"He needed me."
"I needed you."
Xena clamped her mouth shut. That shouldn't have left her lips. Hades.
"You never said anything."
Gabrielle was right. She'd put on a happy face and given her blessing and never said a damn thing to give Gabrielle any reason to reconsider her decision. She'd never offered a second option.
"I'm sorry. I thought he was who you wanted."
"I didn't know what I wanted. I just knew he needed me and you're so capable of taking care of yourself."
Xena smiled ruefully at herself. She did present that image, didn't she. Xena shook her head.
"I'm sorry I didn't tell you sooner, but would it really have changed anything? You said yourself, you don't think of me that way."
"I said I..."
Gabrielle looked away. She had said she'd never thought about Xena like that before, but now she couldn't seem to get the thoughts out of her mind.
Xena studied her smaller companion. She was obviously having some sort of internal struggle, but Xena couldn't figure out what it was about. Was she worried about hurting Xena's feelings? Or had Xena's accidental confession sparked some hidden feelings of her own?
"What is it, Gabrielle?" Xena had never been one to beat around the bush once something was out in the open.
"I don't know."
"Are you worried about letting me down easy? You don't have to be. We've been friends for a long time. It's fine with me. I don't expect you to feel the same way."
"It's not that."
Xena focused on controlling her breathing. The idea that Gabrielle might actually feel something in return for her had always been the one fantasy she'd never allowed herself. It would hurt too much when she returned to reality.
"I-I don't know. I, um, I think I need to think for a while."
"I don't know, Xena."
Xena nodded. That was better than a no and more than she could have ever hoped for.
They walked on in silence. Xena vacillated between apprehension and elation, while Gabrielle puzzled over feelings that felt vaguely familiar, but now were suddenly magnified by newfound knowledge.
There had always been a connection between them. The very first time they'd laid eyes on each other, the world had seemed to stop moving for an instant. That bond had only grown with the passage of time.
But Xena? In love with her? And did she feel anything like that in return? She loved Xena with all her heart. She had no doubts on that account. They'd survived too much for her to even question such a thing. But did her love go in that direction?
Gabrielle remembered kissing Iolaus. She remembered kissing Perdicus. There were others, too. But each time, there had only been a kind of disappointment afterwards. She even remembered thinking after her first real kiss, "Is that all?" If that happened with Xena, she didn't think she could handle it.
Gabrielle grinned at herself. She was already thinking about kissing the warrior? Well, that was a good sign, wasn't it? Well, depending on what she considered good. Gabrielle let her eyelids half-close and imagined Xena leaning down to kiss her. Her eyes snapped open. That had already happened! Gabrielle stopped walking and turned to face Xena.
"You kissed me!"
Xena halted her forward movement and looked puzzled. Then her own eyes widened and she looked away. Whoops.
"Uh, yeah, I guess I did."
"I didn't mean for it to happen. I didn't know if I'd ever see you again. You didn't remember that until just now?"
"Yeah, I was... um.."
Gabrielle blushed and looked down.
Xena kept her smile firmly inside.
"So, what did you think of it?" Xena asked quietly.
"I-I don't know. As soon as we touched, Autolycus was... By the gods, how could I have forgotten something like that?"
It had been a very stressful time for the bard and she'd obviously blocked out huge chunks of it.
Xena internally squared her shoulders. Now or never...
"I could, um, refresh your memory, if you wanted."
Xena tried not to notice that her own cheeks were flushing with heat as she saw Gabrielle's skin turn a little more pink.
They stared at each other for a full minute. A whole world of hopes and fears passed between them, before Gabrielle whispered two words to encompass the most predominant emotion both of them were feeling.
Xena nodded in agreement and admission, but remained silent.
"What if it's like how it's been with everyone else? I remember when I opened my eyes after kissing Iolaus... I just felt... empty. I tried to smile and act like everything was great, but I couldn't do that with you. I love you. I just don't want to disappoint you or disappoint myself."
Xena took a step forward, and then another, until she was only inches away from the bard. Words weren't her specialty, but she did know how to use them when she had to. Charisma had never been a problem for Xena.
"That was a long time ago, right?" Gabrielle nodded and Xena breathed a sigh of relief. "You didn't really even know Iolaus back then. But you know me. You know who I am. And you love me. No matter what does, or does not, happen, we'll still have that. Nothing can change that. I think we've proven that."
Gabrielle nodded. They'd been to Tartarus and back and still had their love and their friendship. Whatever happened, they'd be able to work through it.
Xena placed a finger under Gabrielle's chin and pulled up slightly.
Gabrielle just barely nodded and Xena leaned down. It was deja vu as Xena's lips brushed against hers, but there was no jolt back to reality. This was reality.
Gabrielle tilted her head slightly and pursed her lips to intensify the soft contact with Xena's lips. She felt Xena's lips change shape to match hers and Xena's head tilted in the opposite direction to twist against her mouth. Gabrielle's hand came up to cup Xena's neck and hold her in place and Xena's hands slid around Gabrielle's waist and pulled her body a little closer.
Xena eased off on the pressure and then pressed forward again. In the time it took for Xena's mouth to begin moving away, Gabrielle parted her lips. When Xena moved in again, and the wet open lips registered with her brain, she didn't even think twice about opening her own mouth and letting her tongue move into Gabrielle's mouth.
Gabrielle felt a charge go through her body and her other hand slid up to cup the other side of Xena's head, while the hand that was already there scraped up the back of Xena's neck. Gabrielle moaned slightly and Xena responded to that sound by gripping Gabrielle's hips a little tighter.
Xena couldn't think about anything, except how her body was reacting to Gabrielle's. This was way beyond what she'd thought it would be like to kiss the bard in reality. She'd only been able to imagine it in comparison with other experiences. They just didn't compare. Love made the difference.
Gabrielle tasted the sides of Xena's tongue as it moved around inside her mouth. She pushed her own tongue past Xena's and began exploring the older woman's mouth. It only took a second before she was overcome with an overwhelming urge to press harder and go deeper and she strained her neck muscles to make her wish come true. She used the leverage she'd gained from her hand at the back of Xena's neck to pull Xena down even more.
Xena let herself be pulled down and her hands moved lower to grasp at Gabrielle's buttocks. She pulled Gabrielle tight to her and groaned with the young woman, as the added contact increased their mutual stimulation.
Finally, by mutual consent, they pulled away from each other, though Gabrielle kept her hands around Xena's neck and Xena refused to remove her hands from the bard's butt.
"That's what was missing," Gabrielle mumbled.
Xena looked into green-blue eyes.
"That doesn't look like disappointment on your face." Xena smiled as she spoke.
"No. No disappointment here." Gabrielle grinned back. She licked her lips. "You taste really, uh... Good doesn't really apply. It's not really a flavor, but more a feeling. It's just you," Gabrielle rambled.
"So, you're saying you liked it. Enough to do it again?"
Gabrielle tilted her head up to receive Xena's mouth again and it was only a heartbeat before their tongues met for round two. There was no rushing. They simply explored, tasting each other, enjoying the sensations of wet muscle and slippery skin. When they pulled away for the second time, Xena's heart was thudding in her chest, though her breathing was only slightly accelerated. She tried to take slow deep breaths to get her heart under control again.
Gabrielle relaxed her body into the arms that were cradling her. She was already thinking about the future. Like how they were going to get any traveling done now that she had a new favorite activity. Well, maybe if she rode Argo more. Backward. Yeah, that could work.
"You okay?" Xena asked.
"Yeah, I'm great. Do you think we can do this a lot?"
"Whenever we want."
They looked at each other for a few more moments and then turned to walk side by side, hand in hand, down the road.
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