“Her Gabrielle: A Response”
by Rebecca Hall
Note: This story was written as a response and continuation of Della Street’s excellent story “Her Gabrielle.” If you do not read that story first, this one will not make sense.
Xena was dreaming; a sweet pleasant dream when she was woken by a sound that pierced through her unconscious mind, bringing her instantly alert: Gabrielle, crying out in fear, in pain:
“No! Please don’t…”
Gabrielle’s body was rigid, her arms thrashing out at an invisible tormentor.
“Gabrielle. Its OK…Gabrielle…calm down. It a dream! Just a bad dream…” Xena clasped the younger woman to her, trying to calm her. It took Gabrielle a moment to fully wake from the dream, but still her eyes darted around wildly as she tried in vain to get her bearings.
The haunted look in Gabrielle’s eyes nearly broke Xena’s heart. Her Gabrielle never looked like that had never been given cause to. In this world, their roles were truly reversed, everything turned upside down. Here it was Xena whose words and touch finally gentled Gabrielle-head held tight to Xena’s breast as she softly stroked her hair, driving the nightmare away with her words and touch. She wondered if her own pain at night hurt Gabrielle like it was hurting Xena now…
“Its OK. Your safe here. I will protect you…”
Gabrielle tried to just let those words wash over her; words she had dreamed of hearing but never had. No one had protected her. Not since Draco and his men had captured her, brutalizing her before selling her into slavery, and the years since had been more of the same…the seemingly endless parade of vile warlords using her a painful blur.
But she had dreamed these very words, and now she recognized the dream voice. The voice that had been with her, locked deep inside, had been Xena’s all along. At first the voice had only come to her in dreams. Then even while awake, if she was very still, she could hear it: **I’ll protect you…** How was this possible? How could she dream of Xena’s voice before she had even met her?
How was any of this possible, for that matter? The most beautiful, amazing, powerful woman she had ever seen had come from nowhere, rescued her from slavery, kept her safe, made love to her, giving her feelings and sensations she had never experienced before. This miracle woman, who answered her body’s questions before they had even been asked…
No. This was not real. None of it was. Just a dream. Any minute she would wake and find herself in that Mezentias’ bed…
Suddenly Gabrielle felt completely and utterly desolate. She began to cry, quietly at first, then sobbing on the shoulder of the dream woman, who held her gently while she cried. “I wish you were real…”
“I am real, Gabrielle. This is real.”
Gabrielle hadn’t realized she had spoken her thoughts until she heard Xena’s response.
She pulled her head from the woman’s shoulder, meeting her eyes, heart pierced by the compassion she saw there. She had never seen eyes that color before, crystal blue and silver all at once. She didn’t know blue eyes could be so warm. And as she continued to hold Xena’s gaze, the fear began to recede. This was her dream, after all. The fear drained from her, and a profound passion took it’s place. She shivered from the strength of it.
“Make love to me one more time before I wake, Xena.”
Gabrielle’s words were so sad that Xena’s heart dropped to her stomach, landing with a painful thud. Her eyes closed reflexively, in a vain attempt to shield her heart from her lover’s pain, but she didn’t want to protect herself from it. She wanted to share it, and then make it go away, to kiss it out of her, to replace every cruel touch with a loving one, until there was no room left to hold the violation. This alternate world was wrong. Very wrong. In this world Xena hadn’t been there to protect Gabrielle, and she knew that protecting Gabrielle was what had kept Xena alive… in the real world.
Gabrielle’s plea broke through Xena’s dark thoughts and she moved quickly, not wanting
Gabrielle to believe for an instant that she was being denied. She slid a large hand behind the younger woman’s head, fingers wrapped in her hair, and pulled Gabrielle’s mouth to her own. Gabrielle’s lips were soft and warm, and the contact instantly sent a jolt throughout Xena’s body.
“Yes…” Xena moaned into Gabrielle’s lips. Then pulled away just a little, to tell her; “I will make love to you all night, and again in the morning. I will make love to you for however long it takes until you realize that this is no dream…”
Their lips met once again for a searing kiss. Long moments passed in this way, until Gabrielle cupped Xena’s soft face between her hands. The kiss had left her dizzy, and it took time for her vision to clear, for her to be able to focus, but as soon as she could, Gabrielle leaned Xena back on the bed and buried her head in large full breasts. She kissed all along the undersides, fingers curling around one breast as she pulled Xena’s nipple into her mouth and sucked on it.
Xena held Gabrielle’s head to her chest, supporting her as she suckled with pure abandon.
Her Gabrielle loved Xena’s breasts, would spend forever there, lavishing her with lips, tongue and teeth, driving Xena crazy. Driving herself crazy as well. Like now the moans would start low, deep in her throat then grow louder as Xena’s nipples responded visibly. Sometimes Gabrielle would come hard just from this, before Xena had a chance to touch her. This Gabrielle was responding similarly, she seemed to have let herself go even more than yesterday, perhaps because she believed this was just a dream. Xena’s head fell back against the head board, sighing, eyes closing as Gabrielle made love to her breasts. Wrapping both hands around one, she pulled it into her mouth, rubbing Xena’s full nipple back and forth along her teeth and tongue before sucking the whole breast into her mouth. “Yes,” Xena moaned. This is when No. Not like this. Xena wanted to taste Gabrielle while she came, legs spread wide apart for Xena’s pleasure. She wanted to feel those hands pushing her head into her sex, wildy stroking her hair…
In one fluid motion Xena turned Gabrielle over on her back and sliding down her body she used her hands to spread Gabrielle’s legs wide like she wanted them. Her lips were beautiful: swollen, glistening wet and Xena smiled at the sight.
“I guess you like doing this,” Gabrielle said. Xena looked up at Gabrielle ‘s face and saw a small smile begin to tug at the corner of her mouth.
“No, I love doing this. I love you…”
Now Gabrielle was smiling full out, a broad grin that reached her eyes, the first true smile Xena had seen from Gabrielle since the Fates took them back to this time, and it made Xena’s heart glad. “And you’ll love this-”
Without breaking eye contact, Xena wrapped her hands around her breast and pushed it into Gabrielle, brushing her hard nipple up along the inside of her labia before pressing it hard into Gabrielle’s swollen center. Gabrielle’s eyes grew wide as a loud groan tore from her throat, her whole body shuttering violently as the sensations washed through her. Before she had a chance to recover Xena speared Gabrielle’s opening with her tongue and then began a slow circling stroke deep inside. Gabrielle spread her legs even wider then before, and yes, there it was, her hands tangled in Xena’s hair, stroking and caressing with a rhythm that matched the movements of Xena’s tongue. Xena took two fingers and pushed them deep into Gabrielle’s core, then she began to slide across the wet silk, hand movements matching tongue movements. Gabrielle felt herself begin to melt, and then it started. First it felt like a distant echo and then it quickly became a loud crash as passion broke through her body with blinding force. She clutched Xena’s head tightly against her center, dimly hearing Xena’s cry of pleasure and then she surged up reflexively before letting her body drop back against the bed. Xena moved up quickly to cover Gabrielle’s body with her own, the soft weight of her sending a few more exquisite shivers through the woman beneath her.
Gabrielle pushed her thigh up between Xena’s legs and sighed as she felt Xena’s wetness against her. She was so swollen, Gabrielle could feel the outline of Xena’s folds against her thigh. She slid her leg up and down to feel more of Xena, and her movement caused Xena to begin a passionate rocking motion with her hips, grunting softly with each thrust. Gabrielle grabbed Xena’s hips in encouragement, squeezing her hands in sync with Xena’s movements. She slid herself down a little further to raise her thigh up more and to give her mouth access to Xena’s incredible breasts. She caught the one closest to her with her mouth and began to suck, hard, pushing Xena’s nipple against her teeth with the tip of her tongue. Xena’s moans were coming louder now, and Gabrielle relished the sound and the feel of Xena in her full passion. Xena’s arms were braced on either side of Gabrielle’s head and she could see muscles flexing with each thrust of her hips, and she wanted her mouth on them. Looking up she saw Xena’s mouth, lips swollen and parted, sweet sounds passed those lips, sounds Gabrielle could feel spearing through her body. She wanted her mouth there, too, wanted to pull those sounds into her own throat. In the end she settled with sucking on Xena’s breasts, watching Xena’s full mouth and curling her hands around her biceps; all her senses happily engaged.
Xena felt almost disembodied by the sensations flowing through her. The feel of Gabrielle’s hands around her arms served as an anchor, keeping her from being washed away. She could hear Gabrielle’s cries in counter point with her own, bodies and souls aligned in that magic symmetry where the distinction between giving and receiving pleasure becomes meaningless, where it all becomes one. As her passion peaked, Xena began to shutter uncontrollably and she cried out loud and long as orgasm took her. Panting and entirely overwhelmed, she let her head drop into the warm space between Gabrielle’s breasts, let Gabrielle stroke her, run her fingers through her sweat-soaked tangle of hair, whisper words into her ear that had no meaning. Xena responded anyway, telling Gabrielle how much she loved her, and then she let Gabrielle’s touch gentle her into sleep.
Xena put up the last of the mugs and then turned to look at her love, but the smile faded from her lips as she saw Gabrielle. She was sitting on the floor by the hearth, even though there was an empty chair right next to her. Her knees were drawn up tightly against her chest, hands wrapped around them while she rocked back and forth, staring blankly into the fire.
Xena walked over to her, put her hand on her shoulder and then pulled it away as Gabrielle flinched reflexively from her touch. Xena sighed in frustration and Gabrielle turned to look at her.
“I’m sorry,” Gabrielle told her. Xena could see the haunting behind Gabrielle’s eyes, and it made her terribly sad.
“No, I’m sorry,” She responded, and then sat behind Gabrielle, pulling her tight against herself. Xena placed a gentle kiss on Gabrielle’s shoulder and felt a scar under her lips. She slid Gabrielle ‘s blouse from her shoulder just far enough to run kisses down the length of it. “Very sorry, Gabrielle.” Gabrielle sighed and leaned her head back against Xena’s shoulder.
They sat togther like that for a long time while Xena was plagued with regrets. This was not how it was supposed to be. Things were supposed to be better in this reality where she had never become a warlord. But she came here only to find her mother dead, the proud amazon tribe subjugated by a man she had dispatched to Tartarus last year, the land and people oppressed by evil men who stood unopposed. And then she saw Gabrielle, a burnt out husk of an abused slave and it was enough to make her want to call on the Fates then and there, to take it all back.
But she thought she could stay in this reality and change things, without becoming a warrior or a warlord. They had managed to beat back Mezentias and Krallus and break the tenuous alliance, at least for now, without Xena having to draw blood in anger. And she had rescued Gabrielle, convincing herself she could make it all OK again.
It was not OK. Gabrielle had been with her for two weeks now and Xena had come to see that she could not make Gabrielle’s painful past go away just by willing it so. That no matter how much love and affection and passion she lavished on her, none of it changed the fact that in this world, Gabrielle had been sold into slavery by Draco and the years of abuse had scarred her forever. In this world there had been no Xena Warrior Princess to rescue Gabrielle, to protect her, to watch her blossom into the kind, trusting, loving and passionate bard she was destined to be.
And it was all about destiny, wasn’t it? Xena believed that if she could only start over, if she could only prevent herself from becoming a warlord, all the pain she had caused in the world would disappear as though it had never been, and the world would be a much better place. But that wasn’t how it was. Other people, more ruthless and evil than she had ever been, ruled the world now. Xena finally understood that, although she had done terrible things, it had made her into what she was and Xena the ex-warlord had set more things right than she had set wrong. This didn’t matter of course to the widows and orphans she had left in her wake before Gabrielle helped set her back on the right path, but there were widows and orphans in this world too. And in this world there was no Xena to try to set things right.
The consequence of this fact was no more evident too her than here, seeing Gabrielle, haunted by her past a past that should never have been. She understood now that her desire to do it all over again was selfish, that she couldn’t alter her fate without effecting everyone else’s, particularly the fate of those closest to her. Particularly Gabrielle. And she was only kidding herself by thinking she could fix it all now.
“Can I tell you a story?”
Gabrielle nodded, and smiled as Xena pulled her onto her lap. Turning around enough to get comfortable, Gabrielle rested her head against a strong shoulder and sighed, settling herself into the welcoming embrace.
“Once upon a time,” Xena began, giving Gabrielle a brief squeeze when she smiled at Xena about the worn out opening. “There was a peasant woman, a daughter of innkeepers in fact, who lived in a prosperous but small little town called Amphipolis. Well, one day an evil warlord came to conquer her home, and she convinced her fellow villagers to band together as she lead them in the defense of her town. Well they did, but they were only partially successful. The did manage to save their village from total subjugation, but much was destroyed and many lives were lost, including the life of her dearest younger brother. In her anger and rage she became more powerful, more violent, gathering an army around her to hunt down those responsible for her brother’s death. She told herself that if she just conquered the neighboring villages in the valley, she could keep her village from being invaded again. With that done, if she conquered the villages in the next valley, and the next, she could be even more certain…and so it went until the whole land was hers, and all lived in fear of the mighty Warrior Princess. But, you see, somewhere along the way she lost herself. Lost the reason she started the whole thing in her obsession for power and revenge. She lost the ability to feel anything but the false joy power brings. She had become what she had initially fought against, conquering and killing without mercy.
“Well, time passed and she finally began to realize that she hated what she had become.
That she had become the enemy. That if her brother could see her now, he would hate what she had become in his name. Her army, detecting her impending change, turned on her and cast her out, and the Warrior Princess traveled the land, surveying all the horrors she had wrought with her own hands. And one day, when her soul was too sick to carry on, she set her horse free, went into a forest and buried her weapons, meaning to take her own life.
“But it was not to be, because just then she heard the sounds of women struggling and saw Dr , saw a warlord’s soldiers rounding up a group of women to sell them into slavery. There was one girl that caught the Warrior Princess’s eye. She was beautiful and brave, and fought the warlord’s soldiers, though she had no weapons, no training and no chance. Something about the girl and what she tried to do re-kindled the Warrior Princess’s heart, and she fought the soldiers, saving the girl and the others from slavery.”
Gabrielle sighed wistfully as she snuggled deeper into Xena’s arms. “This is a nice story,” she told her, meeting Xena’s gaze. Gabrielle was surprised to see the silver-blue eyes fairly brimming over with tears. Xena took a shaky breath, wiped at her eyes, and continued.
“Well, the girl insisted on following the Warrior Princess, she was very stubborn and persistent, and nothing the Warrior Princess could do worked to drive her off. She was stuck with the girl. But deep in her heart she was glad: glad of the cheerful company, glad of the loving companionship. And the girl, she stayed by the Warrior Princess’s side through thick and thin, teaching her how to feel again, how to trust and be trusted, how to love.
“A year went by, and the girl grew into a beautiful young woman and at long last, the woman and the Warrior Princess admitted their true feelings for each other, making love in a peaceful meadow as a full moon shone down on them-making love until the sun rose, when they finally fell asleep in each other’s arms. You see, it was a first for both of them; the first time the young woman had ever been with anyone, and though the Warrior Princess had had sex countless times, it was the first time she had lain with someone she loved, the first time she had truly made love ”
Another wistful sigh escaped Gabrielle’s lips, interupting the story for a moment. “I wish my first time had been like that, instead of…well… I wish my first time had been with you, Xena.” Gabrielle’s face was bright red from both embarrassment and shame.
Xena looked down at the woman cradled in her arms, and this time, her heart truly broke. Now she was certain. She knew what she had to do.
“Do you really mean that Gabrielle ?”
“Of course,” she told Xena, looking up at her. Her hand reached up to stroke Xena’s cheek. “More than anything. It is so sad that we can’t go back, change what happened…” her voice trailed off when she saw the intensity of Xena’s gaze.
“Gabrielle. I’m going to ask you something. Something that is going to sound really strange, but I want you to go with it, just for a minute, OK?”
“Sure, Xena. Whatever you want.”
“Pretend for a minute, that the story I told you was true, and that I was the Warrior Princess, and you were the young woman-”
“That would be wonderful, ” Gabrielle said starting to smile, but then she stopped when she saw how serious Xena’s facial expression was. Obviously for some strange reason, this game meant a lot to her.
“I mean it Gabrielle. Just, play along for a minute, OK?”
“OK.” Gabrielle didn’t understand why this was so important to Xena, but over the past two weeks she had come to the understanding that she would do anything to make this amazing woman happy, anything in her power, as she had tried to make Gabrielle happy.
“If you had it in your power to make this story come true, for it to be the real story of your life, and all this just a bad dream, would you do it? Would you want that? You would have to give up everything from this life, even the good things.”
“You would be the warrior, though, right?”
“So I would be with you. And it would still be me, though, all my hopes and dreams, the family I had before…”
“I could be a Bard…”
“Yes, but you would remember nothing from this life.”
There was a moment of silence, and Xena could almost hear Gabrielle’s thoughts racing through her mind. Then:
“What about you, though? I can’t bare to think of you hating yourself. You would have had such a hardlife. I wouldn’t want that…”
“True, but I would have you, too and you would make it a little better each day-”
“But I wouldn’t be able to fix it for you. You would be the only one who could do that. In this alternate world, would the warrior come to understand that what she had done was what made her who she is now? Would she come to forgive herself? Xena, why are you crying?”
“Its just you are incredible, do you know that? In any life…”
Again Gabrielle didn’t understand, but it didn’t matter. She brushed a tear from Xena’s eyes with her thumb, and Xena took it and pressed it to her lips. Opening her eyes, she looked down at Gabrielle before starting again.
“So. Lets say the warrior does come to forgive herself. Then would you trade this life for that one?”
Gabrielle didn’t hesitate. “In a minute,” she said, emphatically. Then, after a pause, Gabrielle added: “You know what is really strange? Well everything about my life the past couple of weeks has been strange, but…well, this alternate life you describe… I’ve dreamed about it. Really. Before I even met you, I dreamed about you, and that life. Just disjointed images, but they feel so real, almost like memories. You standing, proud and beautiful, dressed as a warrior, or you and I swimming together in a mountain stream, or sitting around a fire while you sharpen your sword.” Gabrielle snuggled in a little closer, head on Xena’s breasts. She felt so safe and warm with Xena holding her and the fire warming her skin. Suddenly she was very sleepy. She continued to speak just the same, the rest of her words muffled, and barely mumbled as though she spoke only to herself. But Xena’s hearing was keen, and she heard it all: “You don’t even have a sword. It is so easy to see you with one, striking down rapists, oppressors…saving me like you did last week…”
Then Gabrielle drifted off to sleep.
Xena laid her sleeping lover down on the bed, tucked the covers up to her chin and kissed her lightly on the forehead. She whispered softly so that she would not wake the young woman or disturb her sleep:
“Good bye, Gabrielle. I’m going to set things right. I’ll see you again very soon. And when you wake, everything will be as it was.”
Xena took a few moments to watch her brother unnoticed. She had come upon him so quietly that he didn’t see her watching from the doorway. His back was to her as he sat at what had been their mother’s desk, reviewing accounts by candlelight.
He turned, slightly startled. “Xena! I hate it when you sneak up on me like that what’s wrong? You look terrible. Did you have a fight with your new love?”
“No, it isn’t that. Its just…Lyceus, do you know how much I love you?”
Lyceus crossed the room and placed his palm on his sister’s forehead. “You don’t feel feverish, but you are acting really strange again. Maybe you should get some rest. Perhaps you should lay off the midnight snacking.” Lyceus smiled warmly at his sister, and Xena forced herself to return the smile. Then he turned his back on her and settled into his work.
Xena walked towards the door, and picked up her brother’s sword that lay against the door frame. Her hands curled around the unfamiliar hilt and she felt her body automatically adjusting to the difference in its size and weight. And just as she was about to cross the threshold into the common room of the inn, her brother spoke once more.
“Xena?” He called to her without turning around to face her.
“I’ll see you in the morning.”
“Of course…” For the second time this evening, Xena barely managed to choke back her tears.
The warlord Mezentias was celebrating with his men as Xena flew in through a window, and with two forward flips she landed on the table, sword pointed at his throat.
“Arm yourself, Mezentias. Arm yourself so I can kill you,” Xena bit out.
“You, kill me? Is this a joke?”
“Its no joke, you slime.”
Mezentias looked up at the woman who towered above him. Tall, beautiful, and proud with silver-blue eyes that glittered with a cold rage.
“Who are you?”
“I am Xena. Your death!”
Mezentias jumped from his seat and grabbed a sword from his lieutenant who stood next to him, completely dazed. He whispered harshly in his ear: “You and the men keep out of this. I’m going to kill her. But on the off chance that she seems about to defeat me, you know what to do.”
They circled each other warily and then Mezentias lunged at Xena with his sword, but she no longer stood where she just was. He heard a maniacal laugh behind him, and turned quickly to find the mad woman staring at him. He lunged again, poured stroke after stroke down on her like rain while she effortlessly parried each one, still grinning at him like a skull. She wasn’t even breaking a sweat, while Mezentias’ lungs were heaving from the fight. He looked over his shoulder at his soldiers, and Xena’s eyes narrowed briefly at the gesture. She reached for her breast dagger and flung it behind her at the lieutenant who was trying to cut her down from the rear. It landed square in his throat, slicing his vocal cords and stifling his death scream. The whole time Xena stared at Mezentias unflinchingly.
In a final forward motion, Xena deflected his blow and with a flick of her wrist, disarmed him, his sword flying point first into the air until it thunked into the wooden beam above them. Then as fast as lightning she plunged her brother’s sword into Mezentias’ heart and twisted it, rage pouring through her as she yelled: “This is for Gabrielle!”
“Xena, behind you!”
Xena turned to see a man in black armor lunge for her, but with Gabrielle’s warning she had time to deflect the blow without killing him. As he fell to the ground, his helm fell off, revealing a young blonde haired boy. It was then that Xena realized that she was back in front of the temple of the Fates.
“You’ve been awfully quiet today. I mean even more than usual. And you just don’t seem yourself. Do you want to talk about it?”
“What seems different about me?”
Gabrielle laughed and looked up into Xena’s face. Xena was holding her tightly against her chest as they sat before the fire. “Well, for one thing, you haven’t stopped touching me since we left the temple. Not that I’m complaining, mind you ”
“You? Complain? Perish the thought!” Xena responded, giving her lover an extra tight squeeze, her wry comment drawing yet another laugh from Gabrielle. Such a wonderful laugh, so care free. Xena was so happy to have her Gabrielle back in her arms.
“So what’s wrong?”
“Nothing. Nothing’s wrong. Every thing is perfect, in fact.” Xena leaned down and kissed Gabrielle ‘s forehead. “Gabrielle? How about I tell you a story tonight.”
“I’d love that. Something from your past?”
“Sort of. Not really. Are you ready?”
“OK. Once upon a time-”
“Xena! You can’t start a story like that,” Gabrielle laughed, while kissing the point of Xena’s chin.
“Hey, its my story. I’ll start it any way I like. Where was I? Oh, yeah. Once upon a time there was a Warrior Princess, who prayed to the Fates to undo her horrible past, to let her start over. They granted this wish because they were in her debt, but, as it always is with these things, there was a price…”