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Water and Fire

by Tim Wellman

WARNING! This story is Alternative Fiction and contains scenes of an adult nature (two fictional characters exploring their sexuality). You must be at least 18 years old to read this.

"Xena, it's so beautiful, here." Gabrielle looked around the site they had picked for their camp. "The trees, the clear stream..." She breathed in the air, so different from the dust of the road they had traveled. The sun cast long shadows across the clearing, and as she walked around, the light caused her hair to shine, as if she were a goddess, walking among her minions.

Xena could only watch her in silence, afraid, if she spoke, her voice would wake the dream. She took a deep breath and smiled. She had to admit, it was beautiful.

"I would love to stay here, forever." Gabrielle wrapped her arms around herself and spun around. She looked at Xena and noticed there was a tear rolling down her cheek. "Xena, what's wrong?" She walked to Xena and touched her arm.

Xena smiled. "You know, there are tears of joy, too." Her eyes never moved from Gabrielle's. Gabrielle dropped her stare, then looked back and smiled. "But, enjoy the dream while you can, tomorrow we have to go." Xena said the words as much for herself as Gabrielle.

"We should do something, so we'll always remember this place." She looked around, forgot the words, and went back to exploring the camp. Xena smiled again, and looked at the ground. She marveled at Gabrielle's energy and innocence, and thought about her own... once forgotten, but slowly being renewed by Gabrielle's companionship.

Xena shivered from a cool breeze, and prepared to build a fire. She picked up a limb and tossed it into the middle of the clearing, then found another. She tried to clear her thoughts, and act the part of a warrior, again. "Gabrielle, you think you can help?"

Gabrielle looked up from studying a flower. "What?"

"We need to have a fire. Help."

Gabrielle joined Xena in gathering wood, and soon Xena had a small fire burning. They both stood close for a moment, holding their hands toward the flame. "Don't you think it's too early yet to start a fire? I mean, it's not even getting cool, yet."

"Gabrielle, the first thing a warrior does is build a fire." Xena looked at Gabrielle and smiled.

"Oh, yea, right." She bumped her shoulder into Xena's. "More wisdom from the warrior princess." She turned her head to meet Xena's eyes, then they both laughed. "Come on, let's sit by the water." Gabrielle started walking toward the stream, but Xena didn't move. She looked back. "Are you coming?"

Xena smiled and looked away, then back to Gabrielle. She walked toward Gabrielle, and together they sat down on the bank. They were both silent for a few moments, looking over the water as the fading sun caused it to glow bright red. "What do you think of when you see a river?"

The question surprised Xena. She thought in silence, then shook her head. "The river Styx, I guess." She dropped her eyes to the water's edge. "I've sent so many people across it." She knew it was not the kind of answer Gabrielle was looking for, but it was not easy for her to say words which she would like.

Gabrielle smiled. "I see a woman... the surface hides the turmoil and darkness, but it also hides her heart." She turned to Xena, trying to tell her she was the woman. But as she turned to face her, she could see that Xena understood. She felt like telling her anyway, but let the moment pass.

"Gabrielle, you imagine me much more interesting than I am." She took a deep breath and looked out over the water. "My heart?" She looked at Gabrielle and smiled. "I'd forgotten I had a heart till you came along. It was buried so deeply in the darkness." She quickly lost her nerve and dropped her stare in silence.

Gabrielle smiled, sensing the nervousness in Xena's voice. "Xena..." She searched for the words she wanted to say, but settled for the ones she felt she had to say. "Thanks... for everything."

Xena looked at Gabrielle and tried not to laugh. She nodded her head and bit her bottom lip, but she could hold it no longer. "That was the silliest remark I've ever heard." Gabrielle started laughing with her. "I search for just the right words to say to you, and you say, 'Thanks for everything'?" She pushed Gabrielle's arm with her own. "Why not just say, 'Have a nice day'."

"Well, what did you want me to say?" Gabrielle raised her eyebrows and stared at Xena.

Xena's laugh became a smile. She dropped her head and looked up at Gabrielle. "Say what you want to say."

Gabrielle smiled, knowing it would be impossible, and tried to stand, but she lost her balance. She started to fall into the stream, but Xena grabbed her arm and pulled her back. "Gez, now what I want to say, is 'Don't let go'!"

She pulled Gabrielle back to her feet and released her grip. "It's all in the training..." Before she could finish the sentence, the sandy ground beneath her feet gave way, and she fell straight into the stream. "Damn!" She sat for a moment in the knee-deep water, then smacked her hand on the surface.

"If you find your heart in there someplace, bring it out, will you?" Gabrielle could hardly control her laugher. She had to walk away and allow Xena to get herself out of the water. As she walked back into the camp, she thought about how close she had come to saying something she would've regretted... something Xena would have hated her for. She felt relieved.

She leaned against a tree, getting her senses back, as Xena sloshed up behind her. "Gabrielle, this is not funny." Xena was trying to hold back her own laugher. "This is water-soaked leather... I feel like I'm wearing lead."

Gabrielle turned to Xena, trying to stop laughing, and as she looked at her wet armor and wet hair, she suddenly felt sorry for her. "Oh, Xena." She still smiled. "I'm sorry. You look so pitiful."

"Believe me, Gabrielle, I feel just like I look." She undid her wrist armor and threw it on the ground, then looked up and started to laugh, again.

Gabrielle put her arm around her and led her back to the fire, which lit the camp with more light, now, than the sun. She took her blanket and put it around Xena's shoulders, then took the end and tried to dry her hair. "I didn't mean to laugh."

Xena turned to face Gabrielle, still smiling faintly. "Yea, well I guess I needed the bath, anyway." She looked down at her body. "But my armor didn't."

"Xena, you're going to have to take everything off. You'll catch your death of cold." Gabrielle took the blanket and laid it on the ground. Her throat was dry, partly from laughing and partly from fear of doing or saying something that would drive a wedge between Xena and her. "Sit down, and I'll pull your boots off."

Xena looked at Gabrielle. "I'll be OK." She tried to squeeze some of the water from her leather armor. "I think I may have a fish in there." She pulled her top out and looked down.

"Sit." Gabrielle nearly forced Xena to the ground. Xena stretched out her legs and Gabrielle sat down on the ground and started removing her boots. The smell of wet leather was oddly appealing, only because it smelled like Xena on the rare occasions when they had been close. "You can wrap a blanket around you till morning. Your armor should be dry by then." One boot slid off in her hand. Gabrielle looked at the rare sight of Xena's naked leg, and allowed herself a small fantasy, but when she looked up and saw Xena looking at her, she quickly dropped the thought. She pulled off the other boot. "Now, take the rest off."

"Gabrielle, a warrior without her armor is..." This time, the words escaped her. "I'm usually much more clever than this."

She rubbed Xena's feet and toes, trying to bring back some warmth. "Is that better?" She looked up at Xena, who nodded. She couldn't keep herself from one last touch before standing.

Xena turned so her feet were near the fire, and wiggled her toes. "Gabrielle, I've been wet before. I'll survive."

Gabrielle didn't seem to hear her. "OK, now the armor." She walked around Xena and knelt down. She removed her sword and the metal armor, then reached around Xena's waist, undoing her belt. She paused again, breathing in the fragrance of Xena's damp hair. She thought of a thousand things to say, of a thousand stories. She started to raise her hands up to Xena's breasts.

"Gabrielle, stop!" Xena jumped up and stepped away. Gabrielle had gotten too close, and Xena didn't know how to fight this time. She looked into her eyes, finding a calm surface like the water; if Gabrielle got any closer, Xena was afraid she would fall in again.

Gabrielle, at first shocked with herself, and nearly crying, started to explain that it was all a mistake, but then she noticed something in Xena's eyes. Perhaps what she had done was not so unwelcome. She stepped closer. "I know the answer."

"What are you talking about?"

"A warrior without her armor is... a woman." Gabrielle touched Xena's face and smiled. "So, what are you afraid I'll see?"

Xena looked down and took a deep breath. She looked back at Gabrielle, gathering her strength. "I'm afraid you'll no longer see your warrior princess."

Gabrielle felt a tear fall to her cheek. "Xena, you'll always be my hero."

Xena smiled and slowly stepped toward Gabrielle... she had heard the words she needed to hear. She searched her eyes and realized she had already fallen in. She lifted her arms in the air and allowed Gabrielle to loosen her armor and pull it down to her waist. Xena turned around, then Gabrielle picked up the blanket and began to dry Xena's back. Xena still stood, silently, holding up her arms. Gabrielle ran the blanket under Xena's arms and then hesitated.

"Go ahead." Xena spoke in a low voice, afraid, if she spoke louder, that Gabrielle would hear the quiver, but she had never wanted anything more than to feel the hand's of her friend exploring her body.

Gabrielle then reached around her body and rubbed the blanket over Xena's breasts, losing courage for a moment. She closed her eyes, and buried her face in Xena's hair, slowly closing her grip, feeling Xena's breasts beneath the cloth. Xena dropped her hands and cupped them over Gabrielle's. They seemed to breathe together.

She turned around and took the blanket from Gabrielle's hands, then stepped back and dropped it on the ground.

Gabrielle suddenly felt awkward, and she was losing her bravery. She had never seen Xena so vulnerable; she had to fight to keep from running to her arms and cradling her like a child. She swallowed to get the lump from her throat, but it only made it worse. She looked at the ground, then felt Xena's hand on her chin, lifting her gaze back to her sea-blue eyes. "Xena...." She smiled and touched Xena's hair. "I don't know if I can...."

Xena reached for Gabrielle's hand, kissed it, then held it against her breast. She saw Gabrielle's eyes close, and suddenly her legs felt weak. "So long.... For so long I've looked at your face and imagined... this."

Gabrielle opened her eyes and another tear rolled down her cheek. "My sweet warrior... do you know how my heart leaps every time you touch me?" Gabrielle gathered her strength and slowly found Xena's mouth with her own, softly, at first, satisfied just to feel the warmth of Xena's skin against her own. But when she tasted the sweet warmth of Xena's lips, she became more eager. As Xena opened her mouth, Gabrielle felt her breath on her face, and opened her mouth to capture the precious sigh. And as their lips touched again, she fell into Xena's arms, unable and unwilling to allow another moment to pass without exploring the body she had touched a thousand times, but never known. She moved her hand to Xena's back and slid her armor the rest of the way over her hips and allowed it to drop to the ground.

Xena stepped out of the leather and pushed herself away from Gabrielle's grip. She raised her eyebrow and smiled. The firelight made her naked body shimmer in the shadows of the cool evening... a shiver went through her body, but she was unsure if it was from the cold, or from anticipation. She looked into Gabrielle's eyes, and saw the reflection, not of a warrior, but of a woman who had lost all will to fight. She was ready to drown. She dropped to her knees and placed her hands on Gabrielle's thighs, then ran them up her legs and under her skirt... she found the thin cloth and slowly slid it down her legs, then moved her hands back up, lifting Gabrielle's skirt.

Gabrielle tilted her head back, then reached out for Xena's head, and from instinct alone, pulled her face to her body. She gripped her hands in Xena's hair as she felt her mouth, finding, finally, the gift she had waited for so long to give her. "Xena..." Her voice was barely above a whisper... the name said only for her own ears to hear... a confirmation of the dream, fulfilled. She looked at the stars, imagining everyone shone just for them, tonight... the whole world had stopped for this moment. And as she felt Xena's tongue, the stars splintered into a thousand shards of brightly colored glass, falling through the heavens... she closed her eyes and melted in Xena's mouth.... She opened her eyes and looked at Xena, then bent down and lifted her head, and as their eyes met, Gabrielle fell to her knees and kissed Xena's glistening face and lips. Then, pushing her backward till Xena was arched on her hands and knees, Gabrielle bent over her and kissed her breasts, then her navel, finally resting her mouth between her legs. She couldn't control herself... the smell, the taste of her friend overpowered all her senses. She wrapped her hands around Xena's body and lost herself in the poetry of the battle. Glancing upward, she caught Xena's stare with her own. She watched as her eyes widened and her body began to anticipate every move. She heard the rhythm of Xena's breath quicken; she felt her body stiffen, then soften in her hands... finally, the battle decided... the warrior, conquered... the moment forever shared....

As the morning sun woke Xena from the night, she saw Gabrielle squatting by the dying fire. She felt her body, half thinking she would still be dressed, as if the night before had been a beautiful dream.

Gabrielle heard her wake, and turned to her and smiled. "You're armor is dry. Boots are going to be a little squishy, though." She grabbed the leather from the ground and took it to Xena.

Xena smiled and stretched her arms into the sky. Then, keeping the blanket over her body, she stuffed herself back into the familiarity of her armor. "That's better." She stood up, and walked to the fire, then bent down to absorb the little heat that was left. She sat down next to her boots and began to pull them on.

"Xena, do you think we could stay here one more day?" Gabrielle smiled and looked around. "It's just so beautiful."

"And so are you, Gabrielle." Xena looked up at her and smiled. "So are you."

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