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This is the story of two friends. Friends who were destined to be lovers. This is the tale of their greatest loss, and their greatest victory.
Winter is a cruel cycle in the seasons of life, but there is a springtime that brings beauty and peace, healing as well. But what of the darkest kind of winter? A winter that encapsulates the soul?
A Heart Made of Steel
On the field of battle, gazing into winter’s sky.
All the pain inflicted spills over in my life.
I shut the world out, unwilling to feel.
The soul’s forge tempers my heart into steel.
The wounds inflicted on my body wear down my soul.
Your love warms me. The winter relinquishes control.
My heart starts beating, once long thought dead.
A heart unfeeling, made whole and caring instead.
My soul sings its joy. My heart starts to heal.
Yes, my heart is alive. Your life it feels.
Your love has unchained me, tempering my will.
Yes, my heart loves. A Heart Made of Steel.
Winter had finally retracted its icy grip and spring was on the mend. The frozen runoff was still enough to freeze you to the bone though. Gabrielle had been dependant on her and Xena sharing a bed at night to keep themselves warm, but these past two months? They hadn’t even spoken before bedtime. Xena had become totally withdrawn with Gabrielle. She would only speak to Gabrielle in a drunken state, the only times she was sobre was when they were fighting. During the fights, Xena took even more stupid chances.
The bar was crowded and Xena let herself be goaded into a test of strength, when she won, a fight broke out. The warrior nearly split her skull in two! She misjudged a feint in this swordfight. Gabrielle finishes her two opponents and turns just in time to throw her staff and take his legs from under him. Xena stood and pummeled an axehandle style blow into his back. He crumbled to the ground. The innkeeper asked them to leave. Xena’s drunken obscenities were endured as Gabrielle walked her to Argo, and they headed to the next campsite.
‘That was close! But she should have had no trouble with him in the first place.’ Gabrielle was glad she had taken up her own training, Xena had ignored all requests for her to spar. She had heard Xena say that the mind is good for thinking, but bad for fighting. "Let your instincts take over." The bard said. She watched and waited for the warrior to say something. She merely grabbed her chakrum and walked to Argo. That night, Gabrielle fixed a fine stew but Xena wasn’t interested. She grabbed a wine skin full of port and walked to a tree, propping up.
Xena had gotten to the point she drank more port than ate food at night.
‘What is she doing to herself? Doesn’t she know it hurts down to my very soul to see her like this? Please, Xena what new darkness is threatening to consume your soul?’
All these questions and more raced through her mind at once. Xena stirred, she looked at the bard watching her, and grabbed some clothes to go take a bath. Gabrielle watched her go, and decided to follow. Once there, Xena stripped her clothes and dove into the water. The temperature of the cold water mixed with the amount of her alcohol intake. Xena’s body stiffened and went limp. Gabrielle, terrified, dove in and dragged Xena’s unconcious form to the shore and laid her down.
"Xena?! Xena? Please wake up!" Seeing she’s making no headway, she drags Xena’s naked form to a blanket and wraps her up. She was so cold! Xena was going into hyperthermia, Gabrielle brought Argo and fashioned a small lingtoo and dragged her friend’s body back to camp. Xena’s body was still shivering, Gabrielle had used the four blankets they had to wrap the warrior in. She had even used the towels they had, and yet, she still shivered! Gabrielle then had an idea, she walked to the fire and started removing her wet clothes, setting them close to the fire and let her naked form absorb as much heat as possible. She then kneeled down beside Xena and opened the blankets. She crawled in and wrapped herself around the warrior’s body, bringing the blankets around them again. Gabrielle held her warrior tight, and prayed that she was doing the right thing.
‘This is not how I wanted to share our first bed together.’ The bard smirked. ‘I wanted it to be more—romantic! I wanted you in my arms, kissing every square inch of your magnificent body. Not trying to keep you from freezing to death! Xena? What have you done to yourself?’ Gabrielle felt like shaking the warrior awake to get the answers she needed. Instead, she cradled the warrior tighter, trying to keep her desires under control.
Gabrielle drifted to sleep once Xena’s body stopped shivering. She dreamed then, she dreamed that Xena had awoke in her arms, and pleaded with her to make love to the warrior. Gabrielle had wanted to hear this since they met! She smiled as the warrior ran her strong hands over the supple muscles of her body. She had never imagined the touch being so gentle. She revelled in the sensuous feelings the warrior brought out in her. Xena rolled her over and straddled her stomach, Eyes flashing blue fire, flames of unconcecrated desire.
Xena leaned down, and kissed her, running her tongue along the edge of Gabrielle’s lips before entering her mouth. Their tongues engaged in dance as Xena strode Gabrielle’s right thigh, sliding her warm wetness up and down the length of it. She rolled her head to the side as Gabrielle took Xena’s breasts into her mouth, engulfing them with her passionate kisses. Taking the tanned nipples in her mouth one at a time, she never wanted to abandon them as Xena lowered herself to nip at Gabrielle’s neck. Xena’s tongue created a firestorm of whitehot fury wherever it touched her body. Xena’s tongue drew crazy eight designs around each nipple of the amazon bard’s perfect, erect breasts. The warrior’s strong hands massaged her stomach and hips before her lips followed the path that her hands followed. Gabrielle felt Xena’s lips kissing her center, gently biting and sucking before her tongue finally entered. Gabrielle felt like her heart would explode! Her body spasmed in ecstacy wherever Xena’s flesh touched her. Suddenly, Xena was astride her stomach, back to her.
Xena then leaned down into the valley between the bard’s legs and began her sweet torture of the bard all over again. Gabrielle looked up into the apex of Xena’s legs and pulled Xena’s hips down. She had heard her sister amazons speak of this position, and of the pleasure it afforded both partners. She ran her tongue along the entrance and found the taste intoxicating.
She enjoyed it immensely as she continued her ministrations. Xena had more experience, and Gabrielle released quickly under her lover’s onslaught. Xena’s release took longer, but when Gabrielle found the center that drove Xena over the edge, she released. It forced a sound out of Xena that Gabrielle had never heard before. It frightened and excited her. Xena collapsed ontop of her in a heap. Gabrielle wrapped her arms around her beloved warrior and laid her back on the pillow for rest. "I love you" were the only words from the warrior’s lips.Gabrielle smiled, it was a wondrous dream.
Morning, Gabrielle looked around and saw that Xena was gone!
She leaned up, and felt her muscles spasm, but that wasn’t what intrigued her now. She could smell it. The musky odor of Xena, a smell she loved, but something else. She looked down at her naked body. She had bitemarks at her collarbone and her left breast, just below the nipple.
It wasn’t a dream! Her exquisite warrior had made love to her in the moonlight! It was the sweetest love making she had ever known. Her first had been her husband. She knew she would make love with others. But her best friend? This exceeded all expectations!
She got up and saw that Xena had headed to the lake, so she headed there. What she saw when she arrived horrified her. Xena had her sword at her own stomach. She was going to fall on her sword! Xena seemed to struggle with herself at first, but she finally brought the sword up high.
Gabrielle was dumbfounded! Xena held her sword aloft as she prepared to drive it home through her stomach. She bolted, as she tackled the warrior, knocking her to the ground. The warrior rolled, throwing the bard to the ground. She had , however, knocked the sword out of the line of sight. She just stared at Xena who had this feral look on her face. It was almost painful to look at her. She could read the pain preseny on her face.
What madness had possessed her friend to take her life? Could what they had done the night before been so wrong?
Obviously, Xena thought it was. It didn’t make sense! Xena just stared as Gabrielle threw the sword away.
"Xena! What has gotten into you?" Gabrielle stared as Xena began to cry.
"Gabrielle, I—I awoke, and I saw that you were-were—" The warrior can barely speak. "I knew that I had—I couldn’t live with—" Realization dawns on Gabrielle, and she holds Xena close. "You that that you--? Xena, you didn’t rape me! WE made love. You didn’t hurt me!"
"You’re just saying that!" she pushes the bard away."Can’t you let me face up to what I’ve done!?"
Gabrielle looks at her friend and sees the despair in her eyes.
Gabrielle gets up and walks over to Xena and reaches out to her.
She feels hurt as Xena recoils away from her.
Xena rises and faints. Her lack of nourishment, combined with her alcohol intake, finally get the better of her. Gabrielle then goes through the task she had the previous morning. It was a good thing she hadn’t discarded that lingtoo.
It was dark when they had finally reached the next town. Gabrielle was exhausted, and Argo was cranky. Xena mumbled every once in a while about never forgiving herself for raping Gabrielle. Gabrielle needed help, and was releived when she bumped into a familiar face.
"Gabrielle? is that you?" Maleager smiled down at her, she had never been so happy to see someone in her whole life.
"Yeah, it’s me. Maleager, I need some help. Xena is ill. She—" Maleager walks around and looks down at Xena’s shivering form, her ramblings and her twitching.
"She’s been drinking, hasn’t she?" He knew these symptoms, he had experienced them when he was battling the demon in a bottle. That demon was Alcoholism.
Gabrielle could only nod. He led them to the house he was living in, the townspeople had hired him as law enforcement until the magistrate appointed a new man for the job.
"How long?" He asked. "I’m not sure, at least three months."
"That’s good, she’s not totally dependent on it yet."
"What do we do now?"
Maleager shook his head,"We keep her away from liquor, inns, and taverns. You look exhausted, go to bed. If she changes? I’ll wake you." Gabrielle literally collapsed in the spare bedroom. Maleager gazed down at the warrior princess, he hoped his first meeting with her would be on a better note.
Xena tossed and turned all night, her nightmares of raping Gabrielle tormenting her. Maleager listened as Xena’s tortured screams relayed everything to him. He looked over to Gabrielle, she seemed unhurt. Was Gabrielle putting up a brave front? Or was the liquor playing with Xena’s mind? He wasn’t sure, but come morning? He and Gabrielle would talk.
That morning, Gabrielle hardly picked her food, Maleager had gauged his timing, and figured now or never.
"Gabrielle? Last night, Xena’s nightmares made her say things. Things I’m not sure to beleive, but can’t discount. Would you please tell me what has happened between you?"
Gabrielle sighs and nods her head. Words were going to be hard to find.
"Two nights ago, Xena got so drunk she started a fight and we were asked to leave the inn. She kept drinking at camp. She then decided to take a bath. The cold water made her passout. She was so cold! She wouldn’t stop shaking! So, I wrapped her in all our blankets and that wasn’t enough.
Next I took off my clothes and warmed my body as best as possible, I then climbed into bed with her. I woke up when Xena asked me to make love to her. I was overjoyed by this." Gabrielle blushes, and Maleager breathes a sigh of releif. "I honestly thought she was sobre! She was so gentle and caring! Maleager, if I had known she was drunk, I wouldn’t have taken advantage of her! She never would have asked, if—iff!" Gabrielle begins crying and Maleager comforts her.
"Shhh. Gabrielle? Did you stop to think that maybe the wine gave her the courage to ask you?" Gabrielle looks at him, stunned. "Listen, You’ve got to understand. I was a drunk before. Alcohol gives a person the courage they think they need to say, and do the things they are too afraid to say and do under normal circumstances. This courage is false, but at the time? You feel like you could conquer the world. Or the yearnings of your heart. Gabrielle, I beleive Xena loves you just as much as you love her. But now?"
"What? What is it?" Gabrielle is really unsure of what she’ll hear.
"Well, now comes the part where you test that love. You’ve got to make Xena understand that she needs your help, your love. it’s a hard road ahead, especially if you face it alone." Gabrielle sees the pain in Maleager’s eyes, She pulls him in for a quick hug and a kiss on the cheek. It must have been terrible, fighting the urge to crawl back into that bottle!
Xena, as if she didn’t have enough darkness in her life? Now, she was going to have to battle a new demon. The urge to seek courage, understanding, and yes, love, inside a bottle. All of it false, unreal. A shade that needs to be brought into the light. Gabrielle prayed that her love was strong enough to see them through this.
"Xena? I’m not giving up on us! Please, don’t you give up! We can beat this!" Gabrielle took Xena’s hand and felt her squeeze it. Gabrielle looked at her, Xena, the greatest love of her life.
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