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Disclaimer: This story contains a love relationship and a hurt/comfort theme. Read at your own risk.....


by Mailis Rigey


In my life, I have killed.I have destroyed entire villages, killed mothers, babies, children.... I killed without discrimination. Randomly. It didn't matter to me who died. Now it seems as though I am to pay for my past mistakes. I suppose I deserve what has happened. I deserve to lose her.

I lift the pliant Gabrielle into my arms and carry her away from the burning village. She is badly hurt. She probably will not make it to morning. She is light in my arms even though all of her weight is completely limp. I cradle her head against my chest so that she will hear my heart and be comforted.

I reach the woods and lay her down. I check her over and don't have much hope. There is nothing I can do for her and there is no village for miles. The arrow narrowly missed her heart and she is bleeding profusely. I don't dare remove the arrow for fear she will bleed worse.

I sit down beside Gabrielle and pull her on to my lap. I speak soothing words and stroke her hair and face. She is white as a sheet, but burning with fever. I reach for my water cask and pour some cool water on to her forehead. She doesn't stir, and I don't expect her to.

I look down into the face of my best friend of two years. She is beautiful, even in near death. Her hair falls over my knee in a golden cascade and her long eyelashes rest gently on her round cheeks. I touch her eyelids gently and begin to cry. I cry for the innocence that once shone from those very eyes. Green eyes full of a mixture of fire and ice. They are closed to me now. Probably forever.

I cry harder. I love her. I love her more than life itself. I hold her more tightly. It is true that I deserve to lose her, but it is also true that she deserves to live. She has an inner fire, rare in someone so young, that is not ready to go out. I couldn't bear to see it go out.

I love her so dearly and I descide to tell her so. I know that she can hear me and I whisper it softly into her ear. I whisper it over and over like a mantra to ward off evil spirits. I am aware that I want to feel her lips on mine. Such beautiful lips. I lower my face to hers and I can feel her ragged breath on my mouth and cheeks. Warm. Too soft though, as if she were running out of life. I lower my lips on to hers and feel every last ounce of strength leave my body and course into hers. I kiss her as though both of our lives depend on it, and for a moment I actually believe that they do.

I collapse against her bare abdomen and cry exhaustedly. Tears mix with blood. I feel sleep enveloping me and can't imagine anything more natural than the sound of Gabrielle's heart beating so close to my ear.

I awake at dawn and feel a strange peace. I do not understand where it comes from, and then I know. Gabrielle's hand is in my hair. I listen and I hear a heartbeat, wonderfully strong and healthy. Slowly, I turn my head and look at her. Her eyes are open and shining with such love that I am breathless. I wonder if it is all a dream, but then notice the arrow lying beside her. There is dried blood on the ground, but her wound has closed completely. She forms a word, Xena, on her lips and the love from her eyes is in her voice. She loves me. I don't pretend to know how, or why, but it is written on her face as it must be written on mine. I begin to cry again and she wipes my tears away. I can't fathom why, but the fates have given me another chance.

I realize now that it was not I who saved Gabrielle, but Gabrielle who saved me. Saved me from myself. I let her wipe away my tears and then I lean towards her and kiss her own tears away. She trembles and I run my hands through her hair, kiss her cheeks, eyes, nose, and finally I capture her mouth. This time she kisses me back. This time we draw strength from one another.

So there it is. What did you think? Any comments would be appreciated. You can e-mail me at