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This takes place after The Return. You will find out what Xena and Gabrielle have been doing since they found their way back to one another. A Past that has been hidden for so long finds its way into the present.
Hurt/Comfort Warning Disclaimer: This story may be best classified as a Hurt/Comfort Story involving the characters of Xena Warrior Princess. Readers who are disturbed by or sensitive to this type of issue may wish to read something other than this story.
Love/Sex/ Disclaimer: This story depicts a love/sexual relationship between two consenting adult women. If you are under 18 years of age or if this type of story is illegal in the state or country in which you live, please do not read it. If depictions of this nature disturb you, you may wish to read something other than this story.
It follows the television series in the respect of violence, subtext, the closeness the two women share.
The television series: Xena Warrior Princess belongs to MCA/Universal... This is merely one fan's story about the travels of our beloved couple.
A Past Remembered
By Anita Louise
The horse had been traveling the twisting mountain trail for sometime when the rider felt a warm whisper in her left ear, "I don't know about you, but I need to rest. My legs hurt and I might add other places." Xena smiled as she reined the palomino to a stop. She answered, "How about here?" Gabrielle slid off and stared up at her friend who was trying to hold back a grin.
"Xena, what's so funny?" The bard now had both hands on her hips.
The woman's feet hit the ground before Gabrielle could get out the last of her words. Xena answered, "Nothing, It's another beautiful day." She rested her left hand on Gabrielle's right shoulder as she said, "I owe it all to Aphrodite."
The bard smiled at her friend as she turned and walked over to a large, flat rock and sat down. She leaned back on both hands as she stretched and said, "I never thought I would see the day when you would actually take the time to notice what day it was, much less beautiful." Xena had walked over to where the bard sat. She dropped to her knees and handed Gabrielle the water skin and said, "Here, drink up, from the looks of you I'd say we stopped none too soon." Gabrielle took the waterskin and took several sips. She said, "Here, I don't want to drink it all."
Xena pushed it back and replied, "I've had some."
The bard raised it to her mouth letting the liquid flow. When she was satisfied she handed it back to Xena and said, "How much longer do you think it will take?"
Xena had sat down on the ground. Laying her right leg over her left she said, "We should be getting there by tomorrow. I hope Argo remembers me."
Gabrielle took in a deep breath of air as she said, "In case you haven't noticed it's kind of hard to forget you." The warrior had scooted back and was resting against the rock that Gabrielle was laying on. She had let her head fall back against the stone. Suddenly she could feel just how tired she was and she closed her eyes.
Xena's mind drifted back to the day she and Gabrielle had been reunited. Words could not have expressed the joy she had felt on that day. Xena knew better than to try to figure out what had happened or why. She only knew that they had been given another chance and that she would be more careful the next time. She smiled as her mind brought forth the picture of Gabrielle's face when she had entered the cave. The bard had been telling her that most caves all looked alike, they were dark and musty and had creepy things in them.
Gabrielle's face had lit up at the beauty of the interior. The bard had danced around gazing at the beautiful hanging formations and said, "It's amazing, if it all looks like this, then we are home."
Xena had smiled as she replied, "Oh, it does. I think you will fully enjoy the rest of it."
Gabrielle had walked over to help Xena take their things off the horse as she said, "With your strong arms and my ideas, I believe we can spruce this up in no time."
Xena had marveled at the bard's homey touches. She had immediately set about making the large room livable. The warrior had never cared for such things; to her if it was there, it was all right.
Xena had gathered wood to start a fire and she had asked Gabrielle if they had anything to eat. The bard had answered, "I can make us a good pot of stew. There is plenty of water and we have the ingredients."
Xena felt a strange wave pass over her as she said, "Stew sounds good." She always thought it was odd, she had such good recollection of their trip to the cave but the bard had no memory of it.
She had relished the time they spent in their new home and in the bard's enthusiasm for it. She had never taken the time to think that maybe Gabrielle missed a home, a connection to something she could always have to go back to. The time seemed to pass so quickly for the two of them as they worked and turned the cave into living quarters. Time spent cutting logs, weaving springs for the two cots she had managed to put together and the little things the bard wanted to have put up. During this time, Xena and Gabrielle also found the opportunity to frolic and enjoy their time while working together. The warrior never told the bard of the other secrets of the cave she let her discover that herself.
The dozing warrior uttered a low laugh. As the bard glanced down at her, she shook her head and said, "Xena is probably having another of those dreams. This time I won't wake her up, not yet anyway."
The bard was ecstatic when she discovered the warm water in the cave and couldn't wait to test it out. They shared many special moments in that spot. Gabrielle was so happy and elated that Xena felt she too would burst at times. The warrior had found that she also had become excited. Not in battle, but in the tranquil, joyous life they were now leading. There was no way to tell how long they had been in the cave, except for a few side trips to a neighboring village to get supplies. They hadn't spoken to anyone in depth.
Gabrielle had removed a small piece of fiber from her skirt and was now holding it above the warrior's head. The bard grinned impishly as she let it dangle lower coming to rest on Xena's nose. She held back a snicker as Xena's right hand hit out at it. Gabrielle imagined that Xena probably thought it was a pesky flying thing. She did it several times each moment pulling it back before the warrior's hands hit it. The bard's face was now red because she had been holding back the laughter. It was as she went to tease Xena once more that the woman's right hand shot up and caught her by surprise and pulled Gabrielle off the rock onto the ground.
She landed with a thud and looked up to see Xena straddling her as the woman said, "Very funny."
Gabrielle tried to move but the warrior had her pinned down and she knew she wasn't going anywhere as Gabrielle said, "Can't you take a joke?"
Xena smiled as she said, "Definitely, but you do know that pay back is..."
The bard squirmed as she cried, "No, no Xena don't you do it."
Xena laughed as she raised her left hand and brought her fingers down on Gabrielle. The bard knew that Xena knew where all her ticklish spots were and she said, "I won't do it again, I promise." Xena smiled as she began to tickle the woman in areas that were sending the bard into hysterical laughter. Tears had began to run down her cheeks as the bard pleaded, "Please, I can't take any more of this. Stop."
Xena reached out as she held Gabrielle's hands firmly against the ground and said, "I can't hear you... What did you say?"
Gabrielle smiled up at the face that was now teasing her as she said, "I'm sorry, I'll do anything just stop tickling me."
Xena rolled off as she said, "I have to admit, you certainly know how to get a person's blood flowing. And I might add, out of a really good dream. I was tired, now that I'm rested I think we should go. That is if you are able."
Gabrielle set up as she brushed dirt off her arms she said, "Oh yes, I'm able and Xena?"
The warrior had gotten to her feet as she said, "Yeah." Gabrielle walked up to her as she motioned with a finger. Xena knew the bard wanted to tell her something. As she leaned down. Gabrielle whispered in her right ear, "Remember, pay back's a..." The Warrior grabbed for the bard but Gabrielle was already standing by the horse as she said, "We're ready." Xena smiled as she vaulted into the saddle and reached out a hand to help Gabrielle up. She said, "Let's call a truce at least until we get to the Amazon village." Gabrielle had placed her hands around Xena's waist as she said, "Whatever you say. But when you least expect it, I'll be there."
Xena grinned as she replied, "Wouldn't have it any other way." She pulled her legs in on the horse as it began to trot along the trail.
As dusk began to settle in, they had reached the grassy meadow land and all Gabrielle could see for miles was beautiful rolling hills and lots of flat land. She said, "Thank the Gods we are off that path. I hoped we would be before nightfall."
Xena pointed to the right and said, "Over there, I see a spot we can camp at tonight." She turned the horse toward a crystal blue lake setting in front of them. It had a beautiful waterfall emptying into it. Gabrielle laughed and said, "I still don't know how you do it, but you manage to find the best camping sites. I can't wait to take a dip in that."
After the horse was taken care of and the camp had been set up Gabrielle walked over to the woman and asked, "Don't you miss it? The sword?"
Xena answered, "After what happened to you I will never miss it."
Gabrielle replied, "If you remember, a good friend of mine had put down the sword and was confronted by a group of thieves and he couldn't defend himself and is now dead. Aren't you even afraid that this could happen to us?"
Xena smiled as she said, "In that case I guess you would have to defend us with your staff and me with my other skills." Gabrielle shook her head as she walked over to the fire and removed a pot. She poured some of its contents into two mugs, turned and walked back over to Xena. "Here, I think this will just hit the spot." She handed one of the mugs to the woman and sat down on the ground by her. Xena sipped the warm liquid and said, "Nice, it seems to me you can make tea from almost anything that you set your mind to."
Xena was thinking about the bard's words, 'Aren't you even afraid that this could happen to us?'
She knew Gabrielle was right. But, she had put her sword down and vowed never to use it again, and she would honor that vow if she could. If the time, were to ever come, when she would have to pick it up again, she had no doubt she could use it. They had dined on a nice meal. Later, after cleaning up the dishes and picking up odds and ends, the bard walked down to the lake. She removed her clothes and walked into the water. Xena watched the woman splashing in the water for several minutes before she rose to her feet and went to join her.
Xena had taken a bar of soap from the saddle bag as she walked toward the waters edge. The bard waved to her and called, "Feels great, hurry up." Xena slowly removed her leathers. She had left her boots at the campsite. Stepping into the cool water she shivered. As her body drifted into the deeper water she could feel it relax and she swam over to the bard. "It's cool enough to wake you and definitely restore all your senses. Here, I brought the soap." She reached out and handed it to the bard. Gabrielle put the leather tie around her left wrist as she said, "Lets swim over to that inlet. It looks shallower and I'll wash your hair."
Xena nodded as she headed in the direction. As the moonlight descended upon the water it cast a radiant light over the two women. Gabrielle was enjoying soaping Xena's hair and as she was rinsing it off she couldn't resist reaching up and pushing the woman's face under the water. Xena came up spitting and tossing her head as she said, "Why did you do that?"
The bard smiled and said, "My hand slipped."
Xena brushed her hair back over the top of her head with her hands as she said, "Turn around, it's my turn."
The bard said, "My hair is fine. It doesn't need washing."
Xena grinned as she began to soap up her hands, "Oh but I need to do it." The two women frolicked in the water for a long period and when they had tired they stepped out of the water and turned to glance back. The moon was enormous now and was sending down beautiful light. It was illuminating, not only the water, but the magnificent falls. Xena turned to Gabrielle and said, "We had better get back to camp and dry off, and get a change of clothes. After that I know I will sleep well tonight."
Gabrielle laughed and replied, "I've noticed Xena, you do seem to be sleeping a lot better these days. Race you..." The bard was out of sight before Xena even knew what was happening. And as she walked into the camp site, her eyes caught Gabrielle standing by the fire holding out a towel to her.
Xena reached out and took it as she said, "You are always a great surprise to me, I never know what you are going to do next." The bard smiled as she handed Xena a clean shift and said, "And I am loving every second of it." The sounds of a night bird could be heard as Xena, turning onto her right side, bid the bard good night. Gabrielle sat across from her and gazed at the peacefulness in the woman's breathing. She was happy to see Xena more at ease with herself as well as others. She sighed, "I do miss the Warrior though."
Gabrielle brought her knees to her chest as she leaned against them and stared at the sleeping form of her friend.
Her mind began to wander back to the day Xena showed her the cave, their cave.
It was everything Xena had said it was and then some. Although quite beautiful, when she first laid eyes on it, the cave was a wonder to behold now. The two of them had labored long, hard hours putting all of Gabrielle's ideas to work.
She loved everything about it and she especially loved the warm water. Gabrielle was extremely happy to have found the woman again. She could not have asked the Gods why, she only knew she was grateful, they had found the path back to one another. She had been so excited to see Xena again, that at first she hadn't noticed how much the woman had changed. She had become very gaunt looking and quite pale. Later they had discovered time to talk with one another and find out what each had been up to. She cried as the warrior told her of her remorse, her traveling, and not caring where she was going or where she had been. Gabrielle wanted to make it all better for Xena. Seeing the woman in so much misery, tore at her heart leaving it in pieces.
She could still see the expression on Xena's face when she had placed her fingers on the spot where Callisto's blade had struck. The woman was shaking as she traced the area and said, "There is nothing there. What happened, I saw it?"
Gabrielle had grasped her hand and said, "I felt it, but there is nothing there now Xena. Let's not dwell on the past, let's look to the present."
That is what they did and were now doing. Xena missed Argo and wanted to get the horse back from Ephiny. Gabrielle knew now, she owed Xena's life to the Amazon. The bard smiled as she whispered, "Thank you Ephiny, for caring for Xena. I shall do something special for you."
Gabrielle was awakened by the smell of food cooking. Turning over, she rubbed her eyes. She smiled as she saw Xena move something in a frying pan. "Good morning," the bard's cheerful voice sang out.
Xena turned and replied, "I trust you had a good nights rest." Gabrielle got to her feet as she walked over and stood by the warrior. Xena's face seemed to be radiating in the morning glow of the sunlight. Gabrielle bent down and whiffed the aroma of the food as she asked, "What did I do to deserve this? You never cook."
Xena arched an eyebrow and said, "Are you complaining?"
The bard stretched out her arms and yawned as she said, "Oh no, I think it's wonderful. It's just, you have said so many times that you don't cook. Your mother told me she couldn't get you to even boil water."
Xena had divided the food on plates as she said, "Set down." Gabrielle obliged as the woman set the plate in front of her and said, "It's my first time. thought I would see what it felt like."
Gabrielle stared at the food as she asked, "What is it? Did you enjoy cooking it?"
The warrior sat down by her and crossed her legs as she gazed at the burnt food on her plate. "It's a surprise and feel lucky, I gave you the part I didn't burn. This is a first and a last, I definitely do not like cooking. You are so good at it." Gabrielle sampled a piece and chewed it carefully as Xena watched her with a quizzical look. The bard could see that Xena was waiting for her to tell her what she thought as she smiled and said, "Good, the texture is remarkable. Want to tell me what it is?"
Xena smiled as she said, "No, glad you like it, I've been at this half the night."
Gabrielle did not have the heart to tell the woman that it was tough and the taste was not what she had expected. She asked, "Did you make anything to drink?" Xena set her plate down as she walked over by the campfire and brought a mug back. "Here, it's tea." Gabrielle took the mug and immediately began to swallow the liquid. Xena had been watching her and was now sure the bard was only eating what was on her plate to please Xena. She had tried to take a few tastes of the burnt food on her plate and couldn't stomach it as she set the plate down
Xena reached out and grabbed Gabrielle's left hand as she said, "It's all right Gabrielle, you don't have to eat it, I will understand. At least I can boil water now."
Gabrielle's eyes beamed up at her and she said, "Well maybe you don't like it but I love it and just knowing you cooked it for me is enough. I know we have a long way to go today and I am hungry." Xena smiled as she took a sip from a mug of tea.
The woman stood staring at the water, it shined like glass as the suns rays rested upon it.
Xena approached her and reaching out her right arm placed her hand on the bards left shoulder. Gabrielle looked up and said, "Are you ready?"
Xena smiled and answered, "All packed, fires out. It is beautiful isn't it?" The bard nodded as Xena said, "We'll have to come back sometime and you definitely can do the cooking." Gabrielle laughed and turned as she walked with Xena to the nickering horse.
They had passed a few travelers along the road, Gabrielle waved and visited with each of them.
Xena didn't stop, she had the horse keep up the pace she had been setting for them. The woman knew that Gabrielle would catch up and would never deny the bard the chance to visit. The bard's voice called out to her, "Xena, wait up. I just heard the most amazing story."
Xena stopped the horse and as she dismounted she said, "None the likes of yours I'm sure."
Gabrielle's face was full of delight and joy. As she began walking, Xena said, "You certainly seem to be happy this morning. Couldn't have been the breakfast." Gabrielle skipped a step as she caught up with the woman. "I've always loved the mornings, everything is just waking up. There is always a freshness in the air and a new day to greet."
Xena had glanced around as she said, "I believe if it was a dark, stormy day you'd still find something to love about it." Gabrielle smiled as she wrinkled up her nose at the woman and replied, "You know, it's all in the eye of the beholder."
They had approached a coppice of trees, Xena had been listening to Gabrielle tell her some of the stories she had recently learned. The two were laughing when they found themselves surrounded by a band of ruffians. The men were brandishing swords, as their leader stepped forward and said, "Good day to you ladies. If you give us your valuables we won't do you any harm." The others laughed. Xena reached out and pushed Gabrielle behind her as she said, "Cover the back, I'll take care of the front."
The man grinned as he said, "Looks like we have hit pay dirt boys." His sword was now within striking distance as he glared into Xena's icy blue eyes.
The woman didn't flinch a muscle as she coldly said, "Think better of it boys. What we have we mean to keep and that goes for our lives. Turn around and go about your business and we will be on our way." The man laughed, lunging straight for her as Xena went down on one knee coming up with her fists between his legs. His sword hit the ground at the same time, he screamed in pain. She didn't give him a chance to get his bearings back, as she jumped into the air sending a mighty kick with her right leg across the side of his face.
Gabrielle had moved further back and was taking on each of the men that had made it their duty to attack the woman. As they went down they all had the same shocked look on their faces. One even stuttered, "You are so pretty, you are a woman, how can you be so strong?"
Gabrielle held the end of her staff to his throat as she said, "Pretty doesn't have a thing to do with it, It's all in the hands." She raised the staff sending it along the side of his head, knocking him out. She turned to glance in Xena's direction and could see the woman was handling the men as if they were merely an inconvenience on an otherwise normal day.
Suddenly, Xena found herself confronting two more burly men who had stepped out from behind the trees as one said, "Xena Warrior Princess, everyone believes you are dead, and now you will be." Xena was focusing her eyes on them, at the same time she felt a blow to the back of her head. The woman staggered giving the first man the opportunity to strike out at her with his fist. She felt the crunch as it made contact with her jaw and she jerked back as his fist slammed into her stomach sending her to the ground. Gabrielle heard the sound and turned to see what was happening. But, before she could get to Xena she found herself confronted by several thugs that were now bearing down on her. Xena lay staring up at the sky. She heard Gabrielle's cry of warning and looked up to see the man's sword raised as he brought it down toward her he cursed, "Die bitch!"
His sword was within inches of her body when she threw both hands up and clasping it between her palms stopped the descent. Her right leg kicked up knocking it from the man's hands, she was on her feet in seconds. The sounds of her battle cry echoing as she leaped into the air, somersaulting over his head. Before he knew what was happening she struck out with her left leg hitting him solidly in the back, sending him face first onto the ground. She heard the other man running up behind her, she quickly kneeled down and he went flying over the top of her head landing with a thud beside his accomplice. Xena struck out with her fingers sending them both into a very peaceful sleep.
Gabrielle had bested the two that had ran for her and was now turning toward the warrior as she said, "Looks like a good day's work."
Xena answered, "Yeah, but we were lucky this time. They were stupid. What would have happened if they had not accosted us like they did? What if they had attacked from the trees?"
Gabrielle smiled and answered, "You would have thought of something. I have no doubt. Who do you think they are?" The warrior had knelt down and checked the pockets on several as she said, "Just a band of mercenaries, who thought two women traveling alone were going to be easy pickings." Xena was now standing and Gabrielle walked up to her and said, "Guess they don't know you very well."
Xena smiled down at her friend and replied, "Nor by best friend. You are a marvel to behold when you swing that staff."
The two turned, walking away from the bodies lying on the ground. Xena found the horse and guided it toward Gabrielle as she said, "Come on up here with me we have lost some time and this way we can make some of it up. They traveled the rest of the way at a gallop and as they neared the Amazon perimeter Xena said, "We can walk the rest of the way, it's not far."
As Gabrielle's feet touched the ground she said, "Thank the Gods, the horse must be tired. As Xena dismounted she reached up and patted the horse and said, "He's fine, if we walk the rest of the way he can rest and so can you."
Nearing the lookout, Xena cupped her hands around her mouth and let out an Amazon cry. There wasn't any answer so she repeated it. Still no answer and Gabrielle said, "Must not be anyone there."
Xena answered, "They always have a lookout. Something doesn't feel right. Be alert, let's go the rest of the way very carefully." Entering the village they could not see anyone and Gabrielle became apprehensive as she whispered, "Where are they? I've never seen it like this."
Xena motioned for her to take one side and she would take the other. They set about trying to find someone. As the two women later met in the middle of the village. Xena looked worried and said, "Something has happened. I don't like the feeling I am having. They would never willingly leave and not take their belongings with them. Did you find anything?"
Gabrielle glanced around and answered, "No, not even an dog. Ephiny did know we were coming didn't she?"
Xena replied, "Yeah, let's go check out the corral area." Walking from the village to the wooded area, Xena spotted the form of a horse laying on the ground as Gabrielle uttered, "Xena, it's a palomino!" The warrior's heart skipped a beat, her breath seemed to be catching in her throat as she ran toward the motionless animal calling, "Argo! Argo girl..." Leaping over the fence, she landed by the animal. Xena kneeled down and reached out to touch its face. The animal was dead. Gabrielle ran up behind her and asked, "Is it..."
Xena stood up and said, "No." She held up an arrow and said, "This is what killed it. We now know they were attacked. Now we have to find out what has happened to them.
Continued in Chapter Two