DISCLAIMER: I do not own Gabrielle, Xena or any of their companions, other than perhaps in my dreams. I mean no offence to any creature large or small (especially not the large ones), and hope none is taken.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is meant to be a part of a story that began in "Fragments: The Gift", though if that story ever gets finished, this part is further along in it. It probably makes little sense unless you've read The Gift first, though I'm not promising it will even if you read that first. ^-^;
The story this is meant to be a part of is a Conqueror tale (with Gabrielle as the Conqueror though), and has of course a lesbian theme.
The first part is available as a "picfic" on the site XENARIO, at http://www.angelfire.com/art2/xenario3/fragments.htm or in text on Passion and Perfection.
By Carola "Ryûchan" Eriksson
I am leaning back in the warm, rose-scented water, fully enjoying how the heat loosen up those muscles that have wound tight during the day. So wrapped up in this am I that it takes me some time before I even realize that Xena is still standing at the edge of the bath.
Even longer before I realize that there is something different about my beautiful companion tonight.
She stands there directly in front of me, still wrapped loosely in a silky towel, looking shy and waiting. Waiting for me to notice. And I do.
Once she has my undivided attention, Xena begins to ever so slowly let the wrap fall to the floor, leaving herself naked and revealed to my gaze. I cannot tear my eyes away.
She stands like this for a long moment, as if to let me stare my fill before taking that next step. Then, just as slowly as her movements before, she enters the water with me.
The very air is charged with the change between us tonight, and it surprises me with the strength of my desire for this woman. The attraction was always there from the start, in the background whenever we have interacted, but this raging, undeniable thing I am experiencing now is something new. New not only to my dealings with Xena, but new to my life at large.
But it is still just desire.
What is more surprising to me is the gust of other emotions that rush in alongside it. Has Xena decided? Is she choosing to come to me now, willingly, freely?
Not for convenience nor release, but for
My train of thought is stopped as Xena reaches my side, coming to a halt in the water right in front of me. Her eyes are averted, and I am surprised to notice that Xena is blushing.
I wouldn't have thought it possible.
Xena's gaze moves up to meet my own. Our laboured breathing matches one another's perfectly, this has been long in coming it seems. Xena's movements are so agonizingly slow and hesitant, yet I would not attempt to move. This has to be her choice, or not at all.
Then I notice that Xena is trembling. And that there is fear in her eyes.
She touches me. It is a small, gentle touch, a mere tiny caress of my face that one might see in public between friends or lovers, but filled with such reverence and affection it moves me deeply. I answer it in kind, caressing her face with my hand, and she leans into it. That pained and almost desperate longing that is clearly displayed on her features reverberates within me.
Yes, I can hear you, my Champion. And I feel it as well.
Then Xena leans in to kiss me. It is meant as a passionate, rousing kiss, and it is. Yet I answer it as gently as I can, aiming for affection rather than passion. Perhaps even for dare I think it? love.
As we break apart her trembling is more pronounced, and I see tears glittering in her eyes. I smile as reassuringly as I can muster, and pull her into my arms gently.
"I am not her." I say, not with accusation or resentment, but simply. A muffled sob escapes her as she hears me acknowledging the spectre that hovers between us.
I pull her down into me carefully, until her head is resting on my shoulder. Although we are both naked, and the buzz of desire not far away, it is not a sexual gesture. I am merely holding her to me. Offering protection. Offering love.
"I am not her and one day you will know that I am not."
She starts crying in earnest then, at once relieved and ashamed that I know what ails her. That I am saying I will wait for the day when she can come to me without pain. I think it hurts her that she feels she is denying us both what we want most, and I will not even resent her for it.
But how could I? I know what Lao Ma did, how deeply and utterly Xena was hurt. After all these years of pain and betrayal, she finds herself falling again. Falling for me, a woman in a position to hurt her all over again. And even though her mind knows I will not, not ever, fear is not so easily dissuaded.
So she is falling for me, wanting to be with me, and yet at the same time, terrified of loving me.
What can I do? I want to ease her pain, relieve her fears, heal her, and I have been trying to do so long before I realized that she was attracted to me. How can I prove to her that I am not Lao Ma, and that if she ever comes to me I will love her with all that I am? And I will accept her love in return. I have no answer as I hold her and she cries into my shoulder, but I make a decision.
I will be your Tree, Xena of Amphipolis.
The great tree in the forest that will hold you, nurse you and protect you. That will grant you shelter and lend you strength when you need it. And one day when you come to me, there will be no room for the ghost of the past between us.
When her tears have run out I pull her with me out of the bath. She seems so tired after the outpouring of emotions that I do not even consider what I am doing as I towel her off before leading her back to my bed.
I realize that others would think it strange, this relationship we have. She shares my life and my bed, others know her as my woman, and in our own way we are most dedicated to one another. Yet we are not truly lovers.
Or perhaps we are. Tonight something changed, no, she changed us. And I must believe it, we are lovers already, it is just a matter of time before the ghost of Lao Ma is exorcized. Otherwise I fear I shall do something rash.
I lay Xena down in the bed and get in beside her, pulling her close. Although we have slept in each other's arms for some time now, this would be the first time for us to lay naked like this with each other. If she seems at all uncomfortable I will retreat my embrace, I do not want her to ever be ill at ease with me.
But she is not. Instead she sighs quietly and curls into me tightly, wrapping her arms around me and resting her head on my chest. It pleases me greatly, and I wrap myself around her, entwining my fingers in her hair and planting a goodnight kiss on her temple.
How ironic. The one thing in my life since my mother's death that means this much to me, and it was given to me by Lao Ma whom I despise. I am sure the Gods are laughing at their ingenuity.
But I love her. I truly do.
And for the first time since I was a young girl I can feel the darkness in me receding. The brooding melancholy that has been my constant companion for so long can not compete with her. I love her.
One day, she will let me show her that I do. One day, she will believe it. And even if she does not, if this is as far as she will trust me, then I will spend the rest of my life this way, holding her.
And I will have no regrets.
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