Disclaimers: Yeah, they STILL don't belong to me, and never will. But for some reason Xena and Gabrielle have decided to come play again, so I'm going with it. Thanks very much to the people who actually own them for letting me do so, without suing me. We appreciate it!
Oh and we're going to put a, naughty bits, warning on this one. ;) If you're shy or blush easily at the thought of love and sex between two women, you might want to pass.
A Bored Warrior
6th in the Eternity Series
By T. Novan
"I'm bored." Xena complained petulantly from her place on the bed.
Lobo slept by the empty fireplace, not bothering to acknowledge the whining of the warrior. He was far too busy chasing rabbits through Morpheus' realm. Besides, he was far more likely to listen to the blonde anyhow. He just preferred her.
"I know. And it's only been a week," Gabrielle answered as she put another pillow under the warrior's plaster encased left leg. "You're going to be an absolute joy to live with for the next two months." She shook her head. "I don't know what made you think you could make that jump."
"I didn't think the branch would break," Xena offered reasonably.
"You didn't think you'd break your leg either, did ya?"
"No, Gabrielle," Xena huffed, as she tried puffing up the pillow behind her back. "I woke up that morning and thought, wouldn't today be a dandy day to break my leg in two places. Just to keep my Bard on her toes!"
Gabrielle ignored that sarcastic comment and found another pillow. She concluded they had gathered up every last one in the inn, and if Xena kept it up, they'd be collecting them from the rest of the city as well. She placed it behind the taller woman's back. "Better?"
"Much. Thank you." Xena looked down and picked at the top of her cast. "I didn't mean to break my leg."
"I know," Gabrielle soothed, leaning over to place a kiss on Xena's temple. "I'm going down and get us some lunch. Can I get you anything before I go? Sword to sharpen?" She gestured to the dog. "Puppy to kick?"
"No, I'm fine," came the rather sullen answer.
"Okay, I'll be back soon. Come on, Lobo. You probably need to pee, too."
As soon as Gabrielle and the dog were out the door, the pouting warrior crossed her arms over her chest and sighed.
"Stupid leg," she grumbled as she glared down as the heavy plaster as if it would somehow become frightened and fall from her broken extremity.
Then she noticed the buzzing.
Narrowing her eyes, she slowly turned her head and focused in on the fly that had found its way into the room through the balcony doors. Her eyes followed the winged intruder as it made its way around the room, landing on the table, the mantle, and then a picture that actually went crooked from the weight of it.
She watched as it flexed its wings and rubbed its face with its tiny little legs. Then it took off again and flew right for her toes, the ones sticking out of the cast. With a growl, Xena flexed her toes and the fly was off again. Then it landed on her cast encased thigh.
"Son of a Bacchae!" The warrior snarled when her hand missed the fly completely and slammed into her leg. Boredom was hard on Xena.
Looking around for a weapon, she managed to grab Gabrielle's scroll bag and she began digging down to the bottom of it.
After so many years of rolled scrolls being used inappropriately, according to the bard, it was agreed that if Gabrielle folded up and creased a piece of parchment, Xena could have it for whatever she wanted. She was happy to find about a half dozen pieces of parchment folded up in the bottom the bag.
Placing the little pile in her lap, she tore off a corner and put it in her mouth. Then she took a half a sheet and rolled it into a tube.
As soon as Gabrielle opened the door, it hit her in the face. The left cheek to be exact. She stopped and closed her eyes, drawing a deep, calming breath. Then she managed to balance the lunch tray on her right arm so she could wipe away the glob of wet yuck clinging to her face.
She flicked it away with a disgusted sigh, "I can't leave you alone for twenty minutes without you finding mischief to get into?" Green eyes bored into those of a now sheepish Warrior in the bed.
"There was a fly."
"Un-huh," the Bard offered as she placed the tray on the bed and took a look around the room. There were dozens of little spitballs stuck to the walls and the ceiling. Gabrielle even brushed one off Xena's big toe. "You've been busy."
"I only used the folded parchment at the bottom of your bag."
"Good. Are you out of ammunition now?"
"Not quite." Xena grinned and rattled a couple pieces of parchment.
"Swell," Gabrielle deadpanned. "Are you willing to call a truce so we can eat before it gets cold?"
"Sure. What do we have?"
"Oooo, I like lamb."
"I know," Gabrielle laughed as she joined Xena on the bed, sitting cross legged, with her back to the foot of it, so they could face each other while they ate. She placed the tray next to Xena and in front of herself so they could both reach it. "There's a nice little cucumber salad and some honey bread too. The wine is very nice."
"You spoil me." Xena winked as she tugged a piece of bread free from the end of the loaf and popped it in her mouth. "Mmmm, that's good."
"Should be." Gabrielle nodded as she began slicing the lamb into pieces they could eat with their fingers. "Three dinars for one loaf."
Xena choked as she swallowed and after several seconds of sucking air, she finally managed to gasp, "For one loaf! And you paid that? Time to check the temperature in Tartarus."
The Bard shrugged. "It's good bread. They sell it across the street. So I talked to the owner of the inn. He's willing to let me do the bard thing to help offset the cost of our room."
"Gabrielle, we still have plenty of money. You don't have to do ‘the bard thing' unless you want to." She smiled as she looked at her partner's face. "And you want to, don't you?"
A blonde head nodded, if somewhat hesitantly. "Yeah, I think I do. It's been a while, but it seems to be what I always come back to. I mean, I've done lots of things throughout our lifetimes. I think it's time to surrender to the obvious."
"I'm always happy when you surrender." Xena commented with a mischievous laugh as she popped a piece of lamb into her mouth. "Oh, that's good, too. And the world needs storytellers, Gabrielle. It always has and it always will."
"I'd have to be downstairs for three or four hours, a couple of times a week."
"I'm a big girl, Sweetheart. I'll manage. Give me a few days and I may even hobble down there and listen to the newest tales."
"Oh, no.." She shook her head. "The healer said, three weeks in bed before you could get up and start moving around. You've got another two weeks, at least, Xena." Gabrielle's tone turned serious, "You have to let your leg heal properly. Eternity is a long time to suffer with a badly healed break."
Xena nodded. "You're right. I promise to be good."
"Thank you. I know it's hard to learn all of this as we go, but clearly illness and injury are still on the table. Could you imagine, say, breaking your neck and not being able to move your arms and legs for all of eternity?" She closed her eyes and shivered at the thought. "We have to be careful."
"Agreed." Xena reached out and took Gabrielle's hand, giving it a squeeze. "I'm sorry I scared you when I fell."
The Bard nodded.
It had scared the life out of her when Xena decided to try and make the jump from the edge of a cliff to a tree several feet below. Her plan had been to hit the top of the tree and then simply climb down it to another of their hiding spots to retrieve a bag of gold.
Unfortunately, Xena had misjudged the strength of the branch she aimed for and as soon as she hit it, it snapped, sending her tumbling some sixty feet to the ground, crashing through the rest of the branches as she did so.
It had taken Gabrielle nearly two and a half hours to make her way down the side of the cliff on a ledge that was barely wide enough to allow her horse to walk. She was grateful for the surefootedness of the animal several times when the edge began to break away under her hooves.
When she had arrived, Xena was unconscious. She knew she wouldn't be dead, but what kind of injuries would she have sustained? There had been several cuts and bruises. And the broken leg was so bad it took Gabrielle an hour to get it set and splinted so Xena could be moved.
Getting her back up the side of the cliff had been an exercise in terror, with Gabrielle leading the horse up the side on the unstable pathway with a semi-conscious warrior who was in a lot of pain draped over the animal's back.
Once they were back in the city, stowed the horses and the wagon, gotten Xena to be seen and treated by a proper healer, and they managed to get a nice room at the inn for the duration of her recovery, Gabrielle collapsed into an exhausted heap.
She had slept for nearly fourteen straight hours. Xena didn't begrudge her tired partner the sleep, but she was very grateful for the use of the chamber pot after she finally waked up. And Lobo had been ready to leap off the balcony; he was more than ready for a walk.
Gabrielle nodded as she looked into sincere blue eyes. "I know, but it did take ten years off my life when you fell."
"Not that that matters at this point," Xena teased and offered the bard a bit of the nice bread from the tips of her fingers.
"Still, don't do it again," Gabrielle said as she took the bread, licking a fingertip as she did.
"I won't. Where's Lobo?"
"Downstairs being spoiled and loved on by the innkeeper's kids. He's a hedonist, just like you."
"I never turn down a good belly rubbing," the Warrior agreed, lifting her shift a bit and patting the body part in question.
Gabrielle laughed and nearly choked on the lamb. "Not nice," she chastised with a smile.
"What am I going to do for the next few weeks?" Xena's hands dropped into her lap helplessly after readjusting her clothes.
"I don't know." The Bard shook her head. "But we've got to find you something to do. How about needlepoint?"
"Needlepoint? Really?" A dark brow arched in disgust.
"Yeah, bad idea." Gabrielle scratched her cheek. "How about some leather working? I could pick you up some supplies. Maybe you could make a collar for Lobo."
"The horses do need new headstalls. The ones we have are close to rotten. I just haven't had time to fix them."
"Well, now you do." Gabrielle leaned over and kissed her partner. "I'm glad that's settled."
"Anything to keep me occupied, huh?"
"Yeah. You're a menace when you're bored."
"Now why would you say that?"
"Xena." Gabrielle closed her eyes and sighed. "Our room is currently covered in spitballs."
"And the damn fly still got away." Xena grumbled.
"Not for lack of trying on your part."
"So, what do you think?" Xena tossed a soft piece of leather to the table a few feet away where Gabrielle sat working on a story for her performance that evening.
When the leather strap landed on the table, she examined it and smiled, "It's too narrow for Lobo."
"It's not for Lobo."
"Mmm, is that so?" A fair head rose. Amused green eyes twinkled even as a brow rose in challenge. "And exactly who do you think is going to wear this?"
"The loser?" Xena grinned, wiggling her brows.
Gabrielle rose from the table and joined her partner. Very carefully, straddling Xena's waist and tucking her legs under her, she leaned forward and pressed the soft leather strip to Xena's throat. "Sometimes losing is winning."
"Oh, I know," Xena husked, nodding as her eyes dropped closed and she licked her lips.
"You do remember you still have a cast on?"
"It's been nearly three weeks, Gabrielle." Xena whined, looking up to her lover's face.
The Bard laughed at the look of desperation in her lover's eyes. "I know, but you also know that the way we get wound up, the stress in your muscles alone could rebreak your leg. I think another couple of weeks should do it."
Gabrielle laughed again as she buckled the soft collar around Xena's neck. "Ooo I like that. It's nice. It's a good look for you."
"Gabrielle, don't tease me. That's just not nice!" She tried the pouty lip approach. "Please, just a little something?"
"Just a little relief?"
"Yes!" Xena nodded emphatically. "Just a little."
Gabrielle sat up and looked down at her companion. Then she slowly reached behind her. She smiled when Xena groaned and moved her right leg a bit.
Giving her Bard more access was a priority in Xena's life at the moment and she was not disappointed. She moaned her approval at her lover's touch.
The blonde watched with a satisfied smile as Xena's eyes dropped closed. Her head fell back and her lips parted, allowing the low breathy moans to escape unhampered. Gabrielle loved to see Xena like this. She licked her own lips, sliding her hand a bit deeper and causing a profound, rumbling groan under her.
A dark head bobbed frantically, but no words could escape the body attached to it.
Gabrielle used her weight to keep Xena's hips pinned to the bed, causing several grumbled words, and she suspected two or three of them were curse words. "No, acrobatics," she warned playfully.
Another warrior whimper, but it didn't last long when Gabrielle decided to end her lover's misery. A few second later, she leaned over and kissed Xena deeply as she swallowed the climatic groan, too. With a few tender kisses, she leaned back and smiled down. "Better?"
Xena nodded. Eyes still closed. Big, stupid smile on her face. "Thank you." She opened content blue eyes, and focused them right on Gabrielle. "I love you."
"I love you, too." She leaned over and gave Xena another quick kiss. "But I have to get ready for work."
"Ah, a quickie." Xena nodded, satisfied. "I can live with that."
"You have to." Gabrielle chuckled as she got off the bed. "Now I should probably go have a nice hot bath. Don't' want to go downstairs around drunk, horny warriors and sailors smelling like sex."
"No, you don't!" Xena grumbled and motioned to the door. "Go on."
Gabrielle gathered a change of clothes and her towel and headed for the door, pausing she turned and gave Xena an evil grin. "Leave the collar on."
"How's that?" Gabrielle placed a blanket over Xena's lap to ward off the morning chill, as the warrior settled into the chair on the balcony.
"It's wonderful! Nice to be out of that bed."
"I thought we had made bed more fun."
"We did, but it's still nice to be out of it. Fresh air is good. Do you know Lobo gets really bad gas if you feed him venison liver?"
"I didn't, but I do now," Gabrielle chuckled as she sat a mug of cold water and bowl of fruit down next to Xena.
"Yeah, I made that mistake the other night when you were downstairs. I gave him the bits from my dinner and I paid for it later. Warlords could use it as a weapon if we could bottle it."
"Is that stool high enough?" Gabrielle considered Xena's leg propped up in front of her.
"Yeah, it's fine. Thanks."
"I am going down to the stable and check the horses and then I need to find more ink and parchment. Can I bring you anything from the market?"
"Figs. Sweet figs. Please?"
"Sure. I saw a vendor the other day that had some covered in honey. Want to try those?"
"Ooo, yes, please!" Xena nodded as she plucked the mug from the table. "Sounds wonderful. You know, I must say, this being waited on hand and foot thing is kinda nice."
"Don't get used to it. Once you're back on your feet, I'm off mine for a month."
"Seems fair. You should get Lobo a new bone, too."
"He doesn't need a new bone." Gabrielle rolled her eyes in mock disgust as she leaned against the railing of the balcony and crossed her arms. "The innkeeper's kids have been sneaking him scraps from the kitchen. I think we might have to adjust to the idea he may be staying behind."
Oh," Xena said quietly as she looked down and plucked the threads of the blanket. "Well, I guess that will be best."
Gabrielle had to pull in her cheeks to fight back the smile. "Ah, Xena, he is our dog. We don't have to leave him. I just thought we had agreed that if …"
"We did." Xena nodded her agreement to Gabrielle's unfinished thought. "But I've kind of grown used to having him around and he's a great hunting partner and a good watch dog."
"Then we'll keep him." The bard leaned over and kissed Xena on the forehead. "I'm going now. I love you. I'll be back later."
"Figs!" Xena reminded.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah."
Xena watched the little corner of the city they occupied come to life. They were at the edge of two districts at this inn.
To Xena's right was the market district, where vendors sold their wares from the buggies, carts and wagons used to travel from farms, mills or local lakes and ponds. To her left were the stores that used those wares.
For two hours, it was a back and forth rush of people; merchants off to buy supplies and suppliers going in to sell door to door to merchants too busy to come to their stalls.
Xena notice one particularly clever flour vendor who had created a distribution system from the back of his wagon. He stopped by every bread baker and sweets maker, and because of his ability to pour flour directly into bags or barrels from a chute on his rig, he could take custom orders. Xena watched two different merchants bypass flour offered in large bags by one other vendor, in favor of this fellow's product. She surmised his flour must be some of the best because his wagon was empty before he got half way down the street and he had to return to his supplies for more.
There was a fish monger who she realized very quickly had a heavy thumb on his scale most of the time. Unfortunately for him, most of his customers knew it, too, and didn't think twice about pinching an extra perch or bass as they walked away while he was occupied with another customer.
She just shook her head and plucked another berry from the bowl on the table next to her. She watched three tow headed boys who all had to be brothers, about two years apart with the oldest being twelve or thirteen. They were apparently the local errand boys and their oldest brother their task master. She watched as he would sort packages and wait for one of his younger brothers to return, then they would be given a package and a note and sent off into the throng. They would inevitably return a few minutes later, and drop a coin or two in their brother's hand before being sent off again.
It was a young red headed man who really caught her attention. At first, with the way he seemed to be making the same circuit around the block, she thought perhaps he was up to no good, especially as he seemed to linger on one corner for a bit longer than the others. About the fifth time she noticed him there in an hours' time, she took the time to follow his line of sight and she smiled.
There, in one of the baker's shops, was a young woman, a little blonde woman. Not her blonde, but a cute blonde none the less. "You've got great taste in women, kid."
As she watched, she could see that he wanted desperately to go over to the baker's but it was clear he had no reason to do so. After standing and staring at the girl for another minute or two, he began his meander around the block one more time.
"Poor guy," Xena mused.
She thought back to a long time ago when her feelings for Gabrielle were just beginning to really form. She had spent more than a few nights staring at the bard from across the fire wondering the best way to break the barrier from friend to more.
Xena chuckled, nearly choking on one of the berries she has consumed when the ginger made his way to the corner for the sixth time. Once, again he stood there, his forlorn visage directed at the baker's shop and the tiny blonde girl working the counter.
She remembered young love, and in an instant, she realized she wanted to help him out. Now, she just had to figure out how to do it. It wasn't as if she could get down there to somehow personally intervene.
She pulled another berry from the bowl and chucked it over the railing, hitting the young man in the side of the head. His hand came up in an irritated way and he wiped away the wet spot, then he turned his eyes up to the balcony.
Xena gestured to him and he shook his head in question. She gestured again. Slowly, he stepped across the street and looked up at her. "Do you always throw fruit at people to get their attention?"
"No." Xena shook her head. "Sometimes I throw daggers. Today was your lucky day. What's your name?"
"Well, Tobias, come up, please. First door on the left at the top of the stairs. I have an errand and I need an errand boy." She gestured to her leg. "I'm not capable of doing it myself at the moment. I pay well."
He continued to look at her for another moment until a dark eyebrow went up, then he shuffled inside. A minute later, Xena heard the door to their room open and close.
"There's a small box on the table next to the bed. Bring it here, please." Xena called over her shoulder.
The young man appeared a moment later and offered her the box.
"Thanks. My name is Xena."
"Pleasure to meet you, Xena."
She cracked the lid on the box and counted out eight dinars. "That bakery there across the street, does it by any chance sell those nice loaves of honey bread?"
"Yes, they do." He nodded.
She offered him the coins. "There's enough for two. My wife loves it and I'll like to have a couple of freshly baked loaves for her to enjoy. Could you go get them for me? There's a couple extra dinars there for your trouble."
He looked at the coins and smiled as he nodded enthusiastically. "I could certainly do that. I'll be right back."
"Take your time!" Xena called over her shoulder again as she listened to him retreat. "Figure out how to talk to the girl," she mumbled as she straightened her blanket. "That's the hardest part."
She realized that had been the hardest part. She knew early on she could ‘say' anything to Gabrielle because she was her friend from the very start. It was when she decided to think about what she wanted to say, when she wanted to ‘talk', it got very complicated. Sensitive chats had never been her strong point.
She watched as her red headed errand boy made his way across the street with a purposeful gait. She smiled, knowing that giving him the money to buy two expensive loaves of bread would bolster his confidence. She wasn't wrong. His swagger as he went through the door, was as best as she could describe it, cute.
Gabrielle dropped a few sacks on the table, eyeing the two loaves of bread. "Where did those come from?"
"The bakery." Xena said in a as-a-matter-of-fact manner from her spot on the balcony.
"Obviously, they came from the bakery." The Bard joined the warrior on the balcony as the sun began to set over the little town. "But how did they get here? Did they just fly across the street or did you, you know, run out and pick them up?"
"Oh hardy, har, har." Xena nodded her head with a playfully annoyed jerking movement.
The warrior crooked her finger and when Gabrielle joined her by the chair, Xena pointed to the bakery, where they were just closing business for the day.
Gabrielle watched as a young redheaded man arrived just as the baker and his assistant were leaving. They exchanged a few pleasant words and then baker walked off, leaving the young man and the blonde girl standing by the door.
As they gave each other shy little smiles, the boy offered his hand to the girl and they began walking down the street together.
Gabrielle smiled. "You've been playing matchmaker."
"Just a little." Xena nodded. "He was pitiful, Gabrielle. He had no chance if he had been left to his own devices. He just kept running around in circles."
"Well, there's a new story for the scrolls, Xena: Warrior Matchmaker."
"Don't you dare!"
"Aww." Gabrielle knelt down and wrapped her arms around Xena's neck. "What's the matter? You don't want the world to know you have a soft side?"
"Not particularly. My reputation serves us well."
"I hate to tell you this, but your reputation is now at least eighty years out of date."
"I know." Xena nodded. "The kid didn't even flinch when I told him my name today."
"Felt good, didn't it?" Gabrielle smiled brightly.
"Yeah, I guess maybe it did."
"It's nice not to be looking over our shoulders constantly." She patted the warrior on the back. "Come on, let's go inside, it's getting chilly and I have our dinner in there."
"Well, yuck!" Xena grimaced at her leg when the cast came away. "Oh," she groaned as she began scratching. "Yeah, that's better. Oh, yeah."
Gabrielle could only stand back and chuckle as the healer's assistant gathered his tools and cleaned up the mess while Xena wildly scratched her leg. The Bard dropped a few coins in the man's hand as he made his way to her. He smiled, nodded politely and was out the door without a word.
Leaning against the door, Gabrielle watched as Xena stood and tested the leg. "Take it easy, love. It's probably going to be weak."
Xena nodded, holding the bed as she took her first tentative step. "It's going to take a few days, but it should be fine. It feels good. No pain."
Relieved, Gabrielle pushed off the door and wrapped her arms around her partner. "I'm glad to hear that. I think I worry more now than I use to. I can't seem to get past the idea of having a permanent injury and having to live with it forever."
"I promise to be more careful." Xena dropped a kiss to the top of her lover's head. "No more crazy leaps off the edge of cliffs."
"Until next time." Gabrielle chuckled, knowing full well that at some point, Xena's natural enthusiasm for the insane would get them into another jam.
Xena could only stand there and shake with laughter as her arms tightened around Gabrielle. "You're probably right."
"I know I'm right. But that's part of the charm of being your partner."
Xena tightened her arms around her lover and kissed her temple. "I'm glad you think of yourself that way. We are partners. I'm empty and incomplete without you, Gabrielle."
"It's always been that way for me too. You are …"
"The other half of my soul," Xena finished quietly as the Bard leaned into the warrior's embrace and nodded against her shoulder.
"Always and forever," Gabrielle agreed quietly.
Click here for more of T. Novan's Fan Fiction
Return to AUSXIP's The Bard's Corner