Disclaimers: The characters of Xena: Warrior Princess and all other associated with the television series of the same name are owned by MCA/ Universal Pictures. This is a work of fan fiction and no copyright infringement is intended.
Subtext: I guess with my writing so far we'll just quit calling it subtext and call it maintext. Yes they are in love with each other.
The Importance of Family
Xena sat slightly slumped in the saddle. She coughed several times, causing the bard to grab Argos bridle, stopping the animal.
"All right that enough." The bard reached up to her partner, placing a gentle hand on her arm. "Youre sick. Were getting off the road "
"Gabrielle " The warrior looked down to the bard. Her illness clearly cut across her features making her look drawn and haggard.
"Dont you Gabrielle me." She tucked her staff on the loop at the back of Argos saddle, took a deep breath as she considered the horse, then climbed up in the saddle behind the warrior. She wrapped a firm arm around the warriors waist then nudged Argo with her heels. "I swear Xena the lengths you will go to just to get me on this horse." She teased as she took the reins from the warrior. She thought she heard the warrior give a soft laugh before another fit of coughing broke loose.
The bard placed one hand on her partners forehead. She felt the fever raging in the warriors body. She gave Argo another nudge causing the mares pace to pick up just a bit. As they continued down the road it was quite clear to the bard that Xena was getting worse with every passing moment.
Gabrielle had been excited about the trip back to Poteidaia to see her family. Xena had promised her the trip and they had been on their way when the rainstorm hit. The storm itself hadnt been a problem. The problem had arisen when Xena had helped a family caught in a flooded river. They had been traveling with their children to go home and see the womans family when the storm cropped up suddenly, trapping their wagon in the river.
Xena spent three candle marks in that cold, raging water, unloading all their belongings and finally freeing the wagon. By the next morning it was quite clear a cold had taken hold in the Warrior Princess body, but being her stubborn self she refused to rest. Taking a few herbs from her pack she had mixed some concoction assuring the bard that it would "do the trick".
Gabrielle frowned as she realized that the mixture hadnt done the trick and her partner was getting worse. "You know Xena one of these days youre going to wish you had listened to me."
"Already do" The warrior replied softly as her head drooped a little more.
The bard was relieved to see her childhood home. She knew a warm bed, good food and some real medicine was what the warrior needed to get better. She reined Argo and started to get off until she realized that Xena was now so weak she could no longer hold herself in the saddle. She tightened her grip around her partner, holding her in place.
"Lila!" She yelled hoping her younger sister was close and would hear her. "Lila its Gabby. I need your help."
The front door opened. Lila and Hecuba stepped onto the porch. Their smiles faded when hey saw Gabrielle holding the nearly unconscious form of the warrior. Rushing to her side she allowed her mother and her sister to help her ease Xena from the saddle and to the ground. The bard all but jumped down and knelt next to her partner, checking the fever again.
"Weve got to get her inside." Gabrielle looked up to her mother and sister as she began lifting the warrior.
"NO!" All three women turned to face Herodotus. He was wiping his face and neck with a rag as her stood at the side of the house, having just come in from the fields for the mid day meal. "No you will not take that woman into my house."
"Dad shes sick." Gabrielle looked up to her father from her position next to her warrior.
"Then let Hades have her. You wont be giving her comfort in my home."
"Father " Lila started only to be given a glowering look from her father, which silenced her immediately.
"Herodotus please "
"No wife! That woman will not be taken into my home. She can lay here and die in my yard, but she will not be given aid in my home."
Gabrielle gently lay Xena back to the ground. She stood and moved to her father, clenching and unclenching her fists as she did. "You have no idea do you? You have no idea how many times she has saved my life "
The farmer raised his hand to quiet his eldest daughter. "Yes Im sure she has saved you from all kinds of danger. Danger you would not have been in if she hadnt taken you from home in the first place."
Green eyes raged at her father as she yelled. "She didnt take me. I left with her because I couldnt stand it here!"
"So be it then. If you hate it here so much take that murdering bitch and leave." The farmer turned and walked away, leaving a shaking Gabrielle behind.
The bard drew a deep breath and returned to Xena. "Well partner." She whispered as she began gathering the warrior into her arms cradling her in her lap. "I need you to hold on until we get to the village. Ill get us a nice room at the inn with a big fireplace." She stroked the warriors hair and placed a soft kiss on the burning forehead. Quiet tears ran down her cheeks as she felt the heat coming from her partners body. "Just another candle mark Xena. Please just hold on a while longer."
"The barn " Hecuba said softly as she knelt down next to her daughter.
"What?" Gabrielle looked to her mother as she wiped away her tears.
"Well take her to the barn." The older woman helped the bard lift the warrior from the ground. "Lila go get blankets." She smiled at Gabrielle as they tightened their hold on the warrior, struggling with her weight. "Shes a big girl isnt she?"
The bard smiled and nodded as they moved slowly and carefully toward the barn with Xenas limp form between them.
Lila ran to the house to gather blankets. She slipped quietly past her father into her bedroom and collected the items, including Gabbys favorite pillow. She clutched the items to her chest as she started out the door. She stopped and stared at the door then turned and decided it just might be better to go out the window.
Gabrielle piled straw for a soft bed as Hecuba checked the warriors fever. "Its very high."
"I know." She said softly as she moved and began unbuckling armor and removing weapons.
"You know Gabrielle once a fever get so high "
"Dont say it Mother. Shes not going to die." She gently lifted the plates over the warriors head, laying them to the side. She removed the bracers and armbands tossing them with the plates. "Hey partner. Come on open your eyes." She caressed her cheek not caring that her mother was standing right behind her. " I love you Xena. Come on open your eyes for me."
The warriors eyelids fluttered open, she gave a weak smile to the bard as she licked her lips. "Miss me?"
"You know it." The bard smiled as she continued to caress her warriors cheek. "Were in Poteidaia, in my fathers barn. Were going to stay here until your well." A weak nod from Xena as her eyes closed again. "And you will get well. Do you hear me princess?"
Lila entered the barn. She looked to her sister crouched by the warriors side. If she didnt know better she might think that her sister was in love with the tall, dark woman. The tenderness that Gabby was showing to her friend was something she had only seen between couples who were married. Not that she had ever seen it between her own parents, she hadnt, but the younger couples around the village were a different story altogether.
Gabrielle stood and took the bedding from her sister. "Thanks Lila. Will you go get Argo for me? Ill need our saddlebags."
"Sure." Lila looked to the warrior again and then to her sister and left the barn. The word our hadnt escaped the younger womans attention.
Gabrielle spread the blankets over the straw fluffing it up to make sure Xena would be comfortable. Her mother knelt down and helped her prepare the bed. "Gabrielle do you love her?"
The bard didnt look up, she just continued preparing the bed for her warrior. "Yes."
"Are you." The woman paused and looked over at the warrior resting against the wall of the barn. "Lovers?"
"Yes." Gabrielle put the pillow at the top of their bed and spread the top blanket. She leaned back with her hands resting on her thighs. "I promise you mother well leave just as soon as Xenas fever breaks and she is well enough to travel."
"I didnt ask you to leave Gabrielle. I asked if you loved her."
"Are you upset by it?" Gabrielle returned to Xena and knelt down running her fingers through her lovers long dark hair.
Hecuba stood and looked down at her daughter. "Watching you with her now no. How could I be upset by something that makes you such a kind, caring person? Your devotion is tangible Gabrielle I can almost see it."
"She is my life." Gabrielle began to move Xena toward the bed once again her mother assisted her.
They gently lay Xena down as Lila brought Argo into the barn. Gabrielle covered her love and rose to go to Argo.
"Thanks Lila." She lifted the saddlebags off and dropped them to the ground. She then began unfastening the saddle.
"Ill do this Gabby. You go take care of Xena." Lila patted Argos neck and was rewarded by the horse with a little nuzzle.
Gabrielle smiled at her sister and retrieved the saddlebags. She dropped them next to the bed, removing Xenas sleeping shift. She laid it to the side as she began stripping off the warriors leathers. "These are soaked." She wrinkled her nose as she tossed the leathers to the foot of the bed. She redressed Xena and recovered her, kissing her on the head once again. "Time to get better my warrior." She whispered as she pulled the covers up a little further.
"Ill go make you some food and bring Xena some soup. Do you think you can get her to eat?" Hecuba watched as her daughter tenderly cared for the warrior and her heart melted at the picture.
"Oh Ill get her to eat it. She knows better than to give me trouble." The bard laughed as she stood and stretched. All and all she hadnt had a great day and she was already feeling a little tired. "Mother do you think Dad will let us stay until shes well?"
"Oh Im sure of it." Hecuba replied with determination as she turned and left the barn.
Lila finished taking care of Argo, which included to Argos delight, a complete brushing and a bag of sweet oats. As she put the horse in a stall she turned to her sister and gave her a shy little smile. "Gabby?"
"Hmm?" Gabrielle was removing things from the saddlebags and didnt look up to her sister until Lila came over and sat next to her.
"Whats it like?"
"Being in love?"
Gabrielle smiled at her sister. "Its wonderful." She looked over to Xena who coughed again sending the bard right back to her side until the jag had passed. "She completes me. She is the other half of my soul. She make me believe I can do anything."
"Anything. I can be whatever I want to be. Do whatever I want to. She gives me strength and confidence I never knew I had until she came into my life."
"You loved her the first time you saw her didnt you? Thats why you followed her."
"I felt something, but Im not sure what. It wasnt until I nearly lost her when we were on the way to the Amazons that I knew for sure. When she came back to me that time I knew that I couldnt live without her." She sighed as she considered Xena again. "I need to get some water from the well. Will you stay with her?"
"Umm sure. You know I can get the water."
"No thats okay. I can use the fresh air. Ill be right back." The bard rose and stretched again before leaving the barn.
Lila sat down next the warrior, leaning back against the wall watching the woman sleep.
"Gab ri elle " Xena tossed her head just a little as she moaned the bards name. "Gab rielle "
Lila knelt next the Xena and took her hand. "Shh its okay. Shes gone to get some water."
Xena opened her eyes and tried to focus on the woman at her side. "Lila?"
"Yeah youre okay."
Xena nodded and closed her eyes again. Lila continued to hold the warriors hand. Even in her current condition, Lila could feel strength in her hand she hadnt felt before. "No wonder my sister loves you."
Gabrielle returned to the barn to find her sister holding the warriors hand. "Problem?"
Lila looked up and smiled. "No. She woke up a moment ago."
"Did she say anything?" Gabrielle sat the bucket down, dropping a rag in and wringing it out before placing it across Xenas forehead.
"She asked for you. I told her you were getting water." Lila released the warriors hand and stood, smoothing out her skirt. "Youre very lucky Gabby."
"I know it." She used a second cloth to wash Xenas face and arms.
Hecuba sat the tray on the counter, placing the plates on it quietly. She spooned some soup into a bowl adding a little black pepper to it.
"What are you doing woman?" Her husbands deep voice echoed from behind her.
She took a deep breath and straightened as she placed the bowl on the tray. "Im preparing some food for our daughter and Xena."
"You took that murdering bitch in didnt you?"
Hecuba turned to face her husband. "No I gave my daughter and her friend a place to stay while Xena is sick."
"I told you I didnt want her here. Since when have you taken to disobeying me?"
"You said you didnt want her in your house. Shes not in your house she is in the barn. Im not disobeying you I am caring for our daughter."
He stared into the eyes of his wife. "Two days. They can stay for two days then I want her off my property." He turned, leaving his spouse in the kitchen watching his retreating back.
Gabrielle stirred the soup, cooling it before trying to get Xena to eat. She sighed and looked to her mother. "Well be gone in two days Mother. Im sure Xena will be better by then, or at least strong enough to travel."
"No Mother. I dont want to cause trouble for you and Lila."
"Listen to me. You just care for Xena. Ill handle your father."
She smiled at her mother. "Thank you."
Hecuba reached down a caressed her daughters face, cupping her chin in her hand. "Take care of Xena and dont worry about anything but her."
She nodded and turned to the warrior. Hecuba smiled before turning away leaving the two women alone.
"Hey warrior. Come on its time to eat." She gave Xena a little shake.
She opened her eyes, smiling at Gabrielle. "Youre back "
"Un-huh and I brought food." Gabrielle grinned as she stirred the soup. "Come on lets get a little down you." She help Xena sit up just a bit before spooning the soup into her. "Just so you know, my dad is being a little less than friendly about this."
Xena nodded and swallowed. "That would explain the barn "
"Yeah apparently we arent good enough to stay in his house."
"Im not "
"You and I are one my love."
Xena smiled as she took Gabrielles hand. "I love you bard."
"And I love you warrior. Now eat." She slipped the spoon between Xenas lips once again.
"Hmm its good."
"Yup my mom makes the best soup."
"Second best." Xena smiled before she began coughing again, Gabrielle sat the bowl aside and drew the woman into her arms holding her until it had passed. "Thanks." Xena buried her head in her lovers shoulder and relaxed.
The bard soon found herself with an arm full of sleeping warrior. She rested her cheek on the top of the dark head and drifted off as well.
As evening settled over the valley Gabrielle woke and stretched, trying not to disturb the still sleeping warrior. She pressed her lips to Xenas forehead, feeling a great deal of relief when she realized the fever was starting to come down. "Good job warrior. Amazing healing abilities youve got there." She pulled the warrior closer recovering them with the blanket.
"Its your Moms soup." The warrior mumbled as she readjusted her head on the bards shoulder.
"Hey you faker. I thought you were asleep."
"Nah just too comfortable to move. I dont get to use you as a pillow very often. Normally Im your mattress."
"Are you complaining?" She pulled back and looked into her partners blue eyes, which looked much healthier than they did earlier.
"Noooo not me. You know its a stoic warrior thing." She smiled and snuggled closer.
"Un-huh." The bard replied as she wrapped her arms tighter around the warrior.
"Gabrielle Im sorry I caused trouble for you with your family."
"Youre my family Xena." Lips found a dark brow.
"Hmm Im glad."
"So am I warrior. So am I."
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