The following story depicts two women in love. If itís illegal to read about love where you live or if that concept scares you, please consider whether or not you choose to read this story.
The characters of Xena & Gabrielle are copyrighted to MCA/Universal and Renaissance. They are used here without intent to profit from or infringe upon this copyrighted material. The rest of the story is copyrighted to me (posted July 18, 1997--L.N. James) and may not be used without permission.
by L.N. James
Stone against metal, stone against metal, stone against metal. Each stroke a razor sharp sling against blade. Down and then up, Down and then up. Stone against metal. Each stroke a chord in a song, each stroke a note in the melody. A song Iíve been keeping time to all my life...
I paused at the slight rustling to my left and narrowed my eyes. Gripping the hilt of my sword tighter, I readied. I strained at the noise. Focus. Focus. My legs shifted as I prepared to rise and defend all that was ours.
At that moment, my eyes caught a familiar sight and I relaxed.
"Hey, Xena! You should see the flowers over by the pond bank. Water lilies! Theyíre in bloom too...so pretty. Whatchaí doiní?"
With that, she burst into our campsite all radiant from the sun shining off her skin, the water still drying in her hair. My eyes drank her in as they have since the day I met her. If I were a poet, Iíd say something about how no flower could ever compare, how nothing on this earth could come close to her beauty. Thatís probably been said before and Iím no poet so I just smiled at her. Her eyes lit up and she sat down on the log next to me.
"Donít you ever get tired of sharpening your sword, Xena? You do it all the time."
Chuckling, I looked sideways at her and returned to sharpening my sword.
"Gabrielle, if I donít keep it sharp, it wonít do a bit of good for me to carry it."
Letting out a light laugh, she shook her hair out and tiny droplets of water splashed on me. When she finished and looked at me, I had raised an eyebrow at her and she started laughing.
"Oh Xena! Sorry about that!"
I flexed briefly when I felt her casual touch on my arm as her hand brushed against me wiping off the drops of water. Iíd have gladly left them there to soak in, liquid from her on my body a welcome drink to my skin. Looking over, she was smiling at me, her eyes shining from some source inside I could only guess at, the slight creases at her eyes and around her mouth a testament to how often she smiles. She was dressed only in her white sleeping shift, the setting sun bronzing her skin even more. She was clean and fresh and happy.
I leaned over and kissed her softly on the lips, a gentle brush to taste her and remind myself of her touch. Sometimes I feel too rough next to her. Too much, too dark. But she stays by my side and I give a silent thanks each morning she wakes in my arms.
Pulling back, she looked at me curiously, her words as soft as her lips.
"Hey, what was that for?"
My lips held a slight grin as I smiled at her.
She moved closer to me and rested her head against my shoulder, smiling up at me. I felt the familiar touch of her arm as it wrapped around my back. Her hold on me so gentle yet stronger than all the Gods on Olympus.
I turned and looked at her, my hands stilling the stone against metal. Her cheek was against my arm and her hair cool against my skin. I had removed my armor after she had gone for her night bath and I was thankful for the closeness of her without it. I learned long ago that no armor can shield me against her love and I am happy to be as unprotected as a newborn babe with her. I know that in her hands, I am safe.
I smiled down at her. Anything she asks of me, I will tell her yes. Whether that is said outloud or in my heart, my answer to her is always yes.
"When I was at the pond, I remembered a story I heard long ago. I donít think Iíve ever told you it before. Would you like to hear it?"
Smiling at her again, I set my sword aside and put my arm around her.
Giving her a gentle squeeze, I chuckled down at her.
"Do I have a choice?"
Laughing, she gently smacked her hand against my thigh and left it there.
"Xena! You always give me a hard time about my stories, I swear!"
My smile faded just a bit and my eyes softened at her. Giving her a gentle kiss on the lips, I pulled back.
"Gabrielle, you know there is nothing else in this world I would rather do than be with you and listen to your stories."
Her eyes lit up and she smiled at me, knowing no truer words had been spoken.
"Besides, I give you a hard time because someone has to, my little bard."
Laughing, she squeezed my thigh.
"Oh, is that right? Youíre just lucky Iím here to give you a hard time, Xena, or youíd get all cocky and warlordy again."
I laughed at this because the truth was that Gabrielle is the only one I allow to tease me. She balances me. She reminds me that Iím not all dark. And she lets me enjoy life again. All of this she gives me and more.
"Mm hmm. If you need to believe that, Gabrielle."
I grinned at her and watched her eyebrow raise. I could see she was trying to think of a comeback but I knew there was never any comeback to the line I had just given her. She hates that.
"Listen, if you donít want to hear my story, I could just go over there and sit by myself."
She pouted but her eyes danced at me. I seriously doubt there is anything as cute as my bard when sheís pouting. I turned and scooped her into my arms as I slid down to the ground from the log. She laughed as she slipped between my legs and leaned back against me. I leaned in and placed a kiss against her neck and held her close. Turning her head to look at me, she smiled.
"So I take it you do want to hear it?"
Smiling, I nodded as I pulled her back into my arms. Not many things in my life fit. My leather fits, my sword and chakram fit, Argo fits. But nothing fits better than Gabrielle. Sometimes I think that I was made specifically for her, my body simply a place for her to call home. I think Iíve known this feeling forever.
I heard her sigh as she moved in close to me, her back resting against my chest. I let my lips and cheek move against her hair softly, breathing her in. Clean.
"Mmm...this is nice."
Her words were soft and content as she put her hands over mine against her stomach and pulled me tighter to her. I could feel her ease into that comfortable place we shared together.
I moved my lips to her ear, feeling her shiver when I kissed her and murmured in her ear.
She leaned her head to the side and I could see her eyes were closed and she had a smile on her face.
"Do you ever hear it?"
I breathed in her ear and held her close. My love.
She opened her eyes and looked at me and smiled. Turning back to the pond across the way from our campsite she gazed out across the water. I rested my chin on her shoulder and looked where she looked.
"The swan song."
She turned slightly and smiled at me and returned her eyes to the placid water. Her fingers entwined in mine as she breathed in.
"Long, long ago, back when the flowers were new, back when the birds first flew, a white swan floated down to a small pond where the water was crystal clear. It was said that this swan was born from the tear of Aphrodite who cried for the first time when a mortalís heart was broken. She had never before witnessed love fail. Aphrodite pledged then and there to find and preserve only the purest of love for all eternity."
I gently pulled Gabrielle closer. Her words floated into the sundown sky and swirled around me as they always did. I placed a soft kiss against her cheek, her warmth surrounding me. She turned and smiled at me again, perhaps sensing my need to have her close. Leaning back, she looked over the pond once again.
"Aphroditeís swan held a special gift, born of the Gods but created from the earth. The swan would live and die and be reborn in the turning of a hundred summers. For each lifetime, there are but a few people chosen to hear the swanís song when it dies and is reborn. Its song is said to be sweeter than any nectar on earth, pure bliss. It is also said that when two people hear the swan song at the same time, their destiny together is sealed not only by Aphroditeís vow to keep a love most pure alive, but also by nature itself, keeping balance and harmony in the world."
My heart beat with hers, our breathing matched. Gabrielle turned in my arms and looked up at me. Her eyes were a field of green, a soft Prairie stretching out in front of me forever. I put my hands in her hair and gently pulled her to my lips, wishing only to feel her deeper inside my heart. She closed her eyes to my touch and let me kiss her, her sweetness a dessert I never grow tired of. Her arms went around my neck as she moved closer still, her softness reminded me of how much I needed this, how much I needed her. How much I loved her.
Pulling back from the kiss, I looked at her. Her eyes finally opened and I could see nothing but love in them. Soft, gentle love for me alone. Putting my hands against her cheeks, I softly told her my truth.
"Gabrielle, Iíve heard that song forever."
Her eyes grew serious, her words quiet, a whisper as she came in close to me.
"Me too, Xena, me too."
With that we kissed again, our love bound tightly around us. Even as I lifted her and took her to our blanket, even as we lay gently together, even as I made sweet love to her that night, I heard the notes of our song playing softly in my heart and in my soul. Its a song weíve sung from the dawn of time, a song we sing together now, and a song weíll sing for lifetimes yet to come.
Colophon: The writing of this story was greatly aided by the Prairie sun. Additionally, a couple of Black and Tans were nice and cool. Oh, and REMís song "Swan, Swan, Hummingbird.." constantly went through my head during this story, but it isnít necessarily the inspiration.
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