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The Deepest Wound
by J L Peterson
Copyright 1997 © Ruth2Naomi@aol.com
DISCLAIMERS: Xena: Warrior Princess, Gabrielle, Argo and all other characters who have appeared in the syndicated series Xena: Warrior Princess, together with the names, titles and backstory are the sole copyright property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement was intended in the writing of this fan fiction. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author. This story cannot be sold or used for profit in any way. Copies of this story may be made for private use only and must include all disclaimers and copyright notices.
WARNINGS: This story depicts (1) sexual relationships between two consenting adults of opposite sex, (2) a few scenes of low level violence, and (3) a love relationship between two consenting adult women. IF you are disturbed by or sensitive to this type of story, you may want to read something else.
I have heard one of the greatest bard's alive tell stories about the Warrior Princess, Xena and Gabrielle. Why it was Gabrielle, herself, told the adventures to me, that many years ago. Now I spin the stories that take folks' imaginations on journeys their bodies will never travel. If you are not in a hurry, pull up a chair and a drink and I'll make your time with me worthwhile... And if you be pleased with my tale, a coin or two will feed and sleep me. If not, then I wish you a good eve' and fare you well.
" 'Tis a night that looks like any other at first. Xena, the Warrior Princess and her companion, the Bard Gabrielle, choose to spend it at an inn - much like this one here. They had been sleepin' outside for nights on end and they decide to be comfortable this time. They bathe and sup, and they go to their rooms to sleep. But sleep is not to be found...
Gabrielle lies on her pallet thinkin' about how to present their latest adventure. Her stories are as food to her. She makes them like recipes into special meals that she shares with her guests. Each time she adds a little more of this, a bit less of that, seekin' to better the flavor with each servin'. After seasonin' a part she thought was just 'so', she wanted to share the tale's tasty morsel with her friend, who she ventured would still be awake. Now I have to explain, you see, that the warrior woman was plagued with bad dreams of the evil she'd done years before. She had since turned herself around by an intervention of the gods and with the help of the demigod Hercules. He made her to see that the darkness of her ways would very soon send her to Tartarus. The gods gave Xena one more chance to redeem her soul from eternal damnation.
So Gabrielle wanders down the candlelit hall to Xena's door and opens it wide, lettin' the light into the dark of the room. There she sees on the pallet the lean and muscular backside of a young blonde-headed man between the thighs of you know who. The man and woman look to the door. Xena calls out "Gab-" but the door is so quickly closed shut, she stops. Gabrielle walks back past the door to her own room while hittin' an open palm on her forehead sayin' "Stupid, Stupid, Stupid," each time she makes contact. For a moment she recalls the time as a child, she busted in on her parents. Then she recalls Xena's surprised expression and feels a wrenchin' in her gut, a turn of her stomach and a sharp twistin' pain in her heart. She goes runnin' out of the inn to find a place to be sick. And she cries all through the night.
Early the next mornin' Xena's downstairs in the dining room alone and drinkin' a herb concoction that she'd learned would stop a child from growin' within her. Gabrielle comes down with her bags packed and her staff in her hand. The staff is a special one she carries with her like a body part - but the story of the staff is another tale. The bard keeps her reddened and puffy eyes to the floor, walks silently past Xena and out the door. Xena's young male lover is nowhere within sight or earshot.
The warrior woman walks up behind Gabrielle and reaches to place a hand on her shoulder. The bard shrinks from the touch and quickly steps away without turnin'. "Gabrielle," Xena calls to her, but she doesn't answer. From a distance Xena sees her body move with muffled sobs and approaches her again. "Gabrielle, what's wrong?" she asks with gentleness. The bard keeps her back to Xena and answers "Nothing" as best she can to hide that she's cryin'. "Please leave me alone, " she bids.
Without further words Xena gets Argo from the stable. She and Gabrielle start their walk back on the road. The bard is mindful to stay well behind the warrior woman so her pain and her tears won't be seen. It does her little good as Xena knows and is feelin' frustration in not being able to talk with the bard. The warrior tries, but all she gets from Gabrielle is "okay", "yes" or "no". The bard is all confused about why she hurts so bad, like her heart was ripped out through her chest and she's left bleedin' to death.
"When they stop for their noontime meal and rest, neither of them are hungry. Xena decides to leave the bard be by herself a while and tells her "I'm going to have a look around. I'll be back in about an hour or so." Then she walks off. Gabrielle bursts into loud sobs soon as she figures she can't be heard. Her discomfort is too overwhelmin'. She decides she can't stay, so she writes a short note on a piece of parchment. She leaves it for Xena to easily find when she gets back.
The warrior returns an hour later and finds the note which reads thus:
I found it too difficult to stay with you so I am returning to my family in Poteidaia.
I have some things I have to work out ALONE. Please do not come after me!
I assure you that I still care about you very much.
However, I do not want to see you again.
PS Don't get yourself killed!"
Her urge is to run after Gabrielle but the bard had clearly wrote "Please do not come after me!". By this note the heart of the warrior is slain. She doubles herself over in pain and sobs uncontrollably for another hour. Though it's not like her to cry, you know, she figures there's none there to see her and she lets herself go. A fierce pain takes hold of her body and shakes her as if she'd no bones. "Oh Gabrielle, " she says, "don't you know yet that I love you so." Then she turns her teary-eyes skyward and yells "You damnable Gods! Why show me a compassion so deep! And soul so loving! She loved me more than I'll ever understand. Why bring me such a priceless gift just to steal it from me at the very moment I know its worth! Go to Hades - all of you!" And she goes back to sobbin' again.
In the meanwhile, Gabrielle walks along the road to her home village, about a three-day journey by foot. She has her bag, bedroll, a water skin and her staff. She cries as she walks, sometimes tryin' to find the source of her tears, other times too immersed in her pain to think.
That night, she tries but cannot sleep. Her mind sees moments of her time with Xena and then it comes back to the night before. She concentrates on findin' the root of her pain. Her seekin' thoughts stop when she discovers the deeply wounded hope in her heart. She had hoped that Xena would be her lover. "Why couldn't it have been she on the pallet with Xena?" She asks. "Not, not some strange young man with nothing but lust in his body! Oh Gods, when did this happen to me? When did I fall in love? How did it happen?" She asks herself questions like these again and again but the answers are slow in comin'.
A thousand longing looks, a hundred tender touches, a few dozen soft kisses on her cheek and brow... When did these actions move her past the affectionate love for her best-friend to the passionate love for her hoped-for lover?" And the hope was made so strong after the soul-touchin' kiss Xena had given to her. Gabrielle brought her fingers to her lips in a try to remember the pleasure she'd once felt there. She had dreamt about that kiss over and over.
She was waitin' for Xena to make her next move. Months passed and it hadn't come. Instead she saw her warrior most intimate with another. A stranger! Gabrielle feels such a fool. Why did she allow herself to dream so? She cannot undo the hurt inside her. She did not know how she fell in love, and sure doesn't know how to fall out of it!
Miles away, Xena walks with Argo along the road to a village in the opposite direction from Poteidaia. She is disconsolate, switchin' between cryin' for her loss and tryin' to figure out why the bard left so quick. She realizes the only odd event in their lives just before Gabrielle's change was when she was caught havin' sex. For a moment she thinks if she'd have locked the door all this might've been avoided. "Why did the Gabrielle take it so hard?" she asks herself. "After all," she thinks, "We aren't in a sexual relationship. We've each got those needs."
Then she decides to turn it around. "How would I have felt?" She tries to picture herself walkin' in on Gabrielle and Perdicus. "Very embarrassed for one thing" Xena adds, "and very hurt." She recalls how painfully sad she was when Gabrielle decided to marry him. It was near more than she could bear. She admits she was jealous of Perdicus and then she feels twice the guilt for his death at the hand of her enemy, Callisto.
Xena tries to convince herself that her night of casual sex was nothing, nothing like Gabrielle's commitment to a marriage. Gods how that hurt her. She'd given up on any return of physical affection from the bard apart from a touch or kiss on the cheek. It hurt like Hades to want her so and not have her. So she'd decided to leave it at that and find other ways for release.
Now Xena is tryin' to console herself that maybe it is best that Gabrielle left her. After all, her life will be much safer at home. "She'll make new friendships," Xena thought aloud, "and maybe go back to the Academy in Athens". And then the warrior thinks, "Maybe she'll fall in love again." With that thought she becomes solemn. She camps under the stars, thinks about Gabrielle, and, feelin' the emptiness inside, she cries quietly.
The next day Gabrielle skips breakfast and is back on the road. Her appetite is gone and she's tired from lack of sleep. Two men on foot ambush her. She quickly fells one with her staff, knockin' him unconscious, and she threatens the other with fury she didn't know she had "Come one step closer and I'll KILL you!" He gives her ample room to pass and goes to his companion who he thinks is really dead.
When the sun is high, she finds her a nice restin' spot just off the road and, still not bein' hungry, she tries for a nap. Then she hears this kind of hummin' and listens intently. She almost looks like she's tryin' to hear with her eyes and furrowin' her brow. It's a man's hum to a tune which sort of goes "Hm hmmm hm hmm hmmhmmmm" - well, maybe you get the idea! She gets up and sees this fellow just amblin' along and smilin' as he goes. "Hi!" She says to him, "are you going my way?" After this mornin' she'd be happy to have a friendly travelin' companion. "Well Hello to you fair lady!" he grins, "If you're going to Poteidaia, then yes I am!" She gives him a big warm smile sayin' "Great!" and then she relates about the ambush that morn.
They walk a ways down the road and she says "I'm Gabrielle" to which he replies "I'm Dweebulus" and he puts out his hand to shake hers but she's put her hand to her mouth tryin' hard to hide her laughter. She takes a breath and his hand sayin' "I'm sorry. I couldn't help it. I am pleased to meet you." He, bein' used to folk chucklin' at his name, tells her "It's okay. Really. It used to bother me when I was a kid but now I think it's a very special name just because it makes people laugh. Laughter's good for the soul." Gabrielle figures she's really goin' to like this guy. A conversationalist with a lot of humor! What a pleasant change from Xena's sparse talk and dry deadpan style! But when her mind says "Xena" she feels a sharp quick pain in her chest. She decides her best medicine for it is a light conversation with this happy man.
"I'm a bard" she says.
"So you say" he replies, and "Good with words then?"
"Oh yes, stories and poetry." she's gettin' excited, thinkin' maybe he'd like to hear one.
"Lyrics then? That'd be great!" he's grinnin' away, "I'm a musician!"
"Wow. You mean I could put words to your music?" the bard asks him.
"Yeah. Don't you think it'd be fun?"
That's all it took. Gabrielle's spirit picks up.
Dweebulus asks her if she'd like to share his noontime meal with him, although it is by now way past that hour. She says that she's been troubled lately - what with that earlier attack and all - and she hasn't been feelin' hungry for quite awhile. He tells her he might be able to help her out there and they find themselves a nice wide spot in the road. He pulls a pipe and a pouch out of his bag and they sit down on a grassy patch. "Do you smoke?" he asks, and she says "No I never have." He goes on to say, "Well this smoke is special. It'll bring back your appetite!" And then he laughs. So she has to ask "What's so funny?" He says with a twinkle in his eye and an evil little grin, "You'll see."
A couple hours pass and Dweebulus and Gabrielle are still in the sittin' in same spot. The bard laughs "It's a good thing I'll be home tomorrow because we sure don't have enough food for another day! I can't remember the last time I was THAT hungry!" To this the man says "Told you it would work!" Then he pauses and puts his flute to his lips. He fingers the tune he was hummin' earlier. You remember? I can't make flute sounds so you'll have to pretend to hear the notes that go with the words Gabrielle wrote: "We sang in the sunshine" and so on. I can tell stories but I don't sing.
Finally Gabrielle remembers that if she's goin' to make it home tomorrow, she'd better put more distance behind her. Both she and the flute-player get up and back on the road. He's playin' and she's singin' this song they just made. Eventually the bard runs out rhyme and Dweebulus' lips are tinglin' numb from playin' so long. She says "It'll be dark before another hour. We might as well make camp for the night." "Fine with me," he replies. Havin' had lots of experience settin' up camp, Gabrielle found a good spot and set to it. Seein' that she seemed to be doin' all the work, he offers "What would you like me to do?" This gives the bard pause and she thinks she knows what the warrior'd be doin'. She asks him "I don't suppose you can hunt rabbits or catch fish?" He sadly nods his head no. Then he pulls out his pipe. "That'll just make me hungry again!" she says "We'll be lucky if we ANY food left for tomorrow!".
They eat everything. The bard's a little worried about that but mostly she giggles. It seems like everything Dweebulus says is funny. The sun is long gone and the campfire is low. He smiles broadly at her laughter and moves to kiss her. The bard's defenses are gone. It was a tentative kiss and it made her think a moment of Xena. Then she remembers seeing Xena and the stranger in bed together. As if to force the vision from her mind, Gabrielle reaches up and kisses the man. He welcomes it with a hunger that's not for food. He lays down beside her, keeps his lips upon hers and holds her head in his hands. Their bodies begin to move together and he brings his lips down to her neck then over to an ear. Well, you can just imagine what happened then!
The two men who'd tried to get the jump on Gabrielle earlier in the day were just waitin' for the lovers to fall asleep. Once certain they were sleepin', one of the men places a very sharp long-blade knife at the bard's throat. She immediately opens her eyes and he says "Scream or move - you're as good as dead." Dweebulus is snoring loud otherwise you'd think he WAS dead. The men rummage through the bags and find only a few dinars, a pipe, a pouch and a flute. The man she'd hit with her staff earlier in the day then picks that up and takes it with as he and his accomplice run down the road. The bard turns to her oblivious lover, shaking him vigorously. "Get up! Get up you... Dweeb! We've just been robbed!" She stands and as the blanket falls off them she realizes they're both naked. "Oh my gods!" she thinks.
Farther away as the distance between the bard and the warrior grows, Xena arrives at another small village. She goes to the local tavern, proceeds to get drunk and starts a fight. Now you've all seen enough of those scenes I'm sure so I won't be goin' into the details here. But I do have to say that the booze slows her reflexes and she only half-heartedly fights. Her carelessness costs her a few cuts and bruises but she still decks all her opponents and an innocent bystander to boot! The tavern owner kicks her out. She camps outside town tellin' herself she prefers the outdoors anyways. She sleeps fit-fully, a dark depression inside. She feels like she's lost her soul - again.
Come mornin' Xena has Argo in tow and is back on the road. She has a nasty hangover but doesn't want to ease the ache with her herbs. Instead, she welcomes the discomfort in her head and her belly because it diminishes, a bit, the horrible pain in her heart.
She comes upon a family who is on the move to another town because their home had just been destroyed by a group of thugs. The warrior shows little compassion for their plight and trudges on ahead of them. She doesn't seem to care where she's goin' anymore or of what she will do when she gets there.
Gabrielle arrives home alone before sunset and her sister and mother run to greet her. It appears that Dweebulus was pretty angry when he finally got his wits about him and realized he'd been robbed of all but his clothes. Plus he was cranky hungry and they didn't have any food or smoke. This was a side of the man the bard hadn't seen so she decided to head off on her own.
Three full moons pass and Gabrielle is restless. For the first full moon it felt good to be back home with her family and all. She had so much catchin' up to do with relatives and friends. Always wantin' to know about them and the children, she'd question and question everyone in town until they'd begun to get weary of it. Her problem was this. The bard had spent the past more than two years travelin' with Xena but, 'cause it hurts to remember, she can't now share 'bout their adventures. She's desperately tryin' to fill the empty space.
You must understand the change in the woman caused by her bein' with Xena. Almost every day her strength and energy were demanded to deal with the danger and challenge surroundin' her. These things made her skin tingle and her blood rush. And when they'd survive victorious, which of course they always seemed to do, it was such an emotional bliss. Well, I'm goin' have to say that for Gabrielle, it was better than sex.
And if that weren't enough for any soul, think on this, not only did Gabrielle live the adventures, she re-lived the adventures every time she'd tell about them. Her voice and body would recall the sensations of actually bein' there. This is one reason why she could capture her audience so. It was happening to her as she spoke and we were as witnesses to the events. Now do you understand what I mean was happening to her without neither the stories nor the adventure? Did I not say that the bard's stories were as food to her? Then you'll know what I mean when I say she was starvin' to death!
To make matters worse still, Gabrielle didn't have Xena. Even if you were to put the adventure and the stories aside, there was her relationship with Xena. The warrior wielded more power over the bard with a word, a look or a touch than she ever could with a sword, a dagger or a chakram. For one, there was a way Xena would say "Gabrielle" that'd make her weak in the knees. When the warrior would raise her eyebrow at her, well, she might as well as put a hook on a string and pull it up from Gabrielle's center. And when Xena would touch her, so gently, it would send a message from the point of contact right to her heart and cause it to miss a beat. When Xena kissed her lips, that made Gabrielle feel like a goddess. Believe you on me, that's not the half of it!
The second and third full moons are like years to Gabrielle. No unusual events to set off one day from another. The days, they all run together in what is for her a monotonous boring routine. Even Gabrielle's famous appetite for food has dwindled. There's nothing to challenge her in this town but her own existence. She briefly considers leaving to return to the Athens City Academy of Performing Bards. But then asks herself why? It's too painful to tell stories of the times she was so happy. And there are no new adventures to share. Instead she hopes, then despairs, when she hears Xena's name. It pains her fierce every time she says the name herself. Gabrielle is empty, hungry and missin' her warrior so. And she doesn't know what to do. But what she does is this. She prays to the gods for help, and soon.
Xena's reputation as a helper of the poor and defender of the oppressed has become tarnished. While she hasn't become the evil warlord of her past - at least not yet, she has become an aimless and belligerent drunkard. She and Argo almost always are sleepin' under the stars these days, or in caves when it's wet. The warrior is moody and depressed. It's so easy for her to anger, as if she's tryin' to take revenge on the gods. She wants to hurt them and in her frustration lashes out at us mortal folk.
What anger she can't vent she pulls into herself. There it seems to gnaw at her being like a hungry and wild beast. She thinks one day it will have eaten away all her pain and, she hopes, her memory of Gabrielle. The beast will leave her unloved and unable to love, like a body with no soul. As each day passes, she becomes more careless and less cautious, and she waits for the challenge from a lethal opponent to end it all.
Then one evenin' the warrior sits in a tavern, drinkin' and eatin' at the back of the room when in walk two men. One of 'em is holdin' Gabrielle's staff. Her heart jumps to her throat. Surely Gabrielle wouldn't discard the staff identifyin' her as the Queen of the Amazons. No matter what the bard felt about Xena, the warrior was sure she would not willingly give her staff to these two.
Xena approaches the men and inquires about where they got the staff. They ignore her. She grabs one of them by the neck, chokin' he says that they found the staff abandoned on the road to Poteidaia months ago. Xena releases the man, grabs the staff and walks out of the tavern without further comment. Her actions put terror in the people at the tavern and she's not followed. She gets Argo and heads off for Poteidaia.
Many days later and a few miles away from the town, Xena encounters a young man headed that way. Don't you be thinkin' it's Dweebulus, for he's long gone! Anyway, Xena asks this (other) man to do her a favor and take the staff to Gabrielle who lives there. He agrees to the favor and he goes on into the town. In the meanwhile, Xena finds herself a place to hide where she can watch the man unnoticed. He finds Gabrielle's home as Gabrielle rounds the corner. Xena's soul leaps at the sight of her. The man offers her the staff. She has questions. As instructed, the man cannot say who gave him the staff or when. She's about to let him keep it and then reconsiders thinkin' "It would not be right for the staff of the Amazon Queen to belong to a man." So she accepts it and thanks him for it.
For the next three days, Xena watches Gabrielle from a distance. Seein', sometimes hearin', the bard is her only comfort. She stopped eatin' days before and she drinks what's left of her port at night while the Gabrielle sleeps. The warrior wastes away. She thinks she's goin' to die. Not wantin' Argo to join her, she unties mare and returns to her perch. She waits to see her love come into view once more. Not long after, the fallen warrior drifts into unconsciousness.
A riderless Argo wanders into town. Gabrielle recognizes the horse as soon as she sees her and runs to her. Argo, recallin' her human friend, comes to and nuzzles her. Gabrielle can see that the horse is very lean. She considers whether she should feed the horse or use her right away to find Xena. Believin' the warrior in danger, she puts her mouth near Argo's ear and asks "Where's Xena , Argo? Where's Xena? Show me Xena." She thinks if she says "Xena" enough to the mare, she'll head for her. The bard is right on that one and the horse leads her to the body. Gabrielle is pale with fright and tries unsuccessfully to wake her. With a burst of unexpected strength the bard manages to lay Xena across the horse's back and then she hurries for her home.
The warrior is delirious but they get water and some soup into her. After a day she awakens while Gabrielle is attemptin' to feed her. When her eyes open she starts to sob hoarsely, "I'm so sorry, Gabrielle. I'm so sorry. I didn't know. Forgive me please. Please forgive me." The bard holds the warrior's head to her chest and rocks her back and forth. "You'll be okay, Xena. It will be okay. Hush. Hush, now."
The sobbing stops but the tears continue their course from Xena's closed eyes. Gabrielle continues to rock her loved one. After a while, she tells the woman these things not knowin' if the warrior can hear, "I thought you were in love with me, Xena. It was my mistake. I thought you told me with your kiss, but you never said the words."
Xena, lookin' like a peaceful child in a mother's arms, slowly opens her eyes. She says these things to her, "I am in love with you. You were not mistaken. I tried to tell you with a kiss, but I should have said the words. I love you, Gabrielle, and I am madly in love with you." At these words the bard starts to cry but this time they be tears of joy. The drops fall on Xena's face and mix tears of her own. Xena reaches up to Gabrielle, pulls her head down to hers and kisses her lips soft and breathless-like.
Next mornin' Xena's wide awake, her color back in her cheeks. She waits in the bed for Gabrielle to come into the room and when she does the warrior's eyes are on her like bees on honey. The bard walks across the room and smiles down at her warrior, filled with so much love it seems to fall from her face. Xena says to her "By the Gods! You ARE beautiful!" To this the bard laughs back "You took the words right out of my mouth!"
"And so, Xena recovered her health, repaired her heart and regained her soul. And Gabrielle knew that there would be no more leavin'... Never again..."
I thank you for allowin' me to have been your guide on this journey. And if you're in a mood for more tales about the life of the warrior and bard, a generous offerin' will ensure I'll stay on another night!
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