Disclaimer: Not mine, wish they were. Don't sue me... only have a computer, and it's not a good one at that *laugh*
Warning: Two women in love here!!! If you don't like it... then no candy for you! Nothing graphic... just a few 'I love you's here and there.
--- I hope this appeases the slavering readers out there that are hunting for my blood. I have been busily working away on two very large stories, that you will have soon enough, but I thought I'd throw you a bone or two while those are ongoing. No sex here for all you perverts *laugh* sorry! Next time, I promise *grin*
A Scar In The Shape Of A Shark
by: Katelin B.
"Xena, I swear the next time you pull a stunt like that, I'll never speak to you again," Gabrielle seethed, meaning her lover's brief, but painful, incarceration on Shark Island. Her touch contrasted her voice though, as she tenderly swabbed a cluster of rat bites on the warrior's left shoulder blade and applied a healing salve to the broken skin.
The warrior princess, weary from the solitary confinement in the pit with those horrible rats, kept silent, allowing Gabrielle to treat her many wounds. Most of them were harmless rat bites, but her entire body ached from the beating she had received from the guards before being tossed in. And before learning that Thalassa was still alive.
Xena's mind turned back to a vision of that poor woman lying helpless in that cave, watching her scream and whimper as the flesh eating crabs got closer and closer to her. She tensed, remembering the scarred woman that had condemned her to the pit. Seeing that wooden arm had made it even more painful for her. A permanent disfigurement even worse than the slash over her left eye.
Thalassa had been as innocent as Gabrielle once, and Xena's darkness had corrupted her into a mirror image of the part of herself she was trying so hard to atone for. Xena could never forgive herself for what she had done in those 10 long years of darkness... the hundreds she had killed in the name of vengeance... but seeing the people years later, made it that much more difficult for Xena to cope.
Gabrielle finished tending to the stoic warrior's many injuries and quietly put the medical supplies away. She had been so happy to see Xena alive and relatively unhurt when she lied her way onto Shark Island as a healer, but now her fear was coming to the surface, and transforming into anger. The young bard knew Xena felt guilty for what she had done, but she still couldn't believe that the warrior princess would condemn herself to that hell when she evades so many others.
Gabrielle was thankful that the woman Xena had been convicted of murdering was alive, even if she was horribly scarred. She thought it would help Xena lose some of her guilt. But no. The sight of Thalassa so horribly disfigured from her actions, left Xena wallowing even worse in her self-loathing.
The young bard was at a loss for what to do. She had only ever seen Xena in this state once before. When her son had died. But then it had been her fault. Now Xena's comatose state had been induced by the memory of a horrible act she had committed against the town they had just left behind, and a young innocent woman, that had been very much like her before she had met Xena.
Gabrielle place the medical kit back in Argo's saddle bags and took her place by the fire again, right beside her lover, staring into the flames. At times when Xena was this quiet, the young bard would sit opposite her at the fire, letting her have the space she needed. But tonight, she felt that the warrior needed her closeness, though she didn't know why. It was just one of those things she could feel.
A long time passed, and the two women remained silent, the occasional stoking of the fire and the placing of another log or two the only movement made. Gabrielle stared into the flames, remembering the broken expression on Xena's face when they left Shark Island, and wondering what her partner was thinking.
Finally, when Gabrielle had stifled her third yawn, and was deciding that she couldn't stay awake any longer, Xena's soft voice broke the silence, barely audible over the crackling of the fire. It was ragged and filled with strain, telling Gabrielle how much effort the warrior was putting into holding her emotions in check.
"Just like you, Gabrielle," Xena choked out, her haunted face never wavering from the flames.
"Xena?" Gabrielle asked softly, not really understanding, but looking over at her lover and waiting for her to speak again.
"She was just like you when I met her, Gabrielle," Xena explained hoarsely, finally turning her gaze to meet the bard's.
Gabrielle almost cried when she saw the pained look on her warrior's face and instinctively reached out. Xena flinched away before her lover could touch her shoulder, and Gabrielle pulled back, trying not to be hurt by the action.
"Xena," the bard whispered softly, inching a bit closer, but being mindful of her partner's need for space, "It was a long time ago. You're not that person any more." It was a familiar line she used when her lover was beating herself up over past misdeeds.
Xena didn't respond, and Gabrielle knew it hadn't worked. She tried to switch tactics. "Love," she said softly, and watched Xena's eyes close, a few tears trickling down her cheeks, "You may have been a demon before I knew you, but those ten years of darkness made you the woman you are today. Made you the woman I love."
The warrior princess choked back a sob and dropped her head, shoulders shaking slightly. "How?" she whispered raggedly, finally looking back up at her lover, "How can you love me? Knowing what I've done?" Her tear reddened eyes searched Gabrielle's, not knowing what she hoped to find, but still looking never the less.
"Because I know that you aren't that person any more, Xena," the young bard stated firmly, reaching out once again and wiping a thumb across one tear stained cheek and pulling it back to show the warrior, "This shows me that you have changed. You feel the pain of your past, and I know you are trying to make up for what you have done."
Xena's eyes took in the sight of Gabrielle's glistening thumb, wet with her own tears, and she bowed her head again. The emotions she had been trying to keep bottled inside her, came rushing out and her shoulders shook violently with the force of it. Gabrielle moved forward slowly, reaching out and laying a hand on her lover's shoulder, waiting for the silent permission that would tell her Xena wanted the contact.
When Xena leaned into the touch, Gabrielle closed her eyes in relief and darted forward, pulling Xena into her arms and rocking her gently as a mother would an upset child. The comforting was silent, as it always was, the bard knowing that her lover didn't need words, only touch to heal her emotions.
She held Xena for a long time, feeling her shake, but hearing nothing but the crackling of the fire. Xena never made a sound when she cried. For the longest time Gabrielle thought it was unnatural, but then came to realize that it should be expected from someone who was so different from the norm herself.
Finally the tears came to an end, and the shaking stopped, but Xena made no move to leave the comfort of Gabrielle's embrace. And the little bard had no desire to pull her arms away. So they stayed like that for a long time, both staring into the fire, and wondering.
Gabrielle, about what might have happened if she had not managed to convince Thalassa that Xena had changed. Would they have had to fight their way out? Would Xena have been forced to finally kill the woman she thought she had killed so long ago? What would have happened to Shark Island if Thalassa had stayed in charge?
Xena, about what might have happened if she had met Gabrielle during her ten years of darkness. Would she have killed Gabrielle for talking back to her? Would she have sold her to the slave traders? Would she have taken Thalassa's place, with horribly disfigurements and a darkness that rivaled Xena's own?
The images forming from different possibilities made both shudder, and the movement made them lock eyes. An unspoken understanding passed between them, and both turned their thoughts toward the future. Might have's and what if's were a waste of energy, and only caused more heartache. It was much better to focus on the unknown future, and work to prevent these things from ever happening.
The fire had burned down, and the two lovers found themselves lying in a heap of bed blankets, wrapped around each other, neither wanting to sleep because of the dreams that would come, but knowing it couldn't be prevented. Not a word was spoken, but fingers laced with practiced ease, and both began to feel a little better. They had faced Xena's past yet again, and once more had emerged victorious, their bond uninjured by it.
Two sets of eyes closed, and the embrace tightened before sleep claimed them, each hoping to reassure the other that they would never leave. The dreams would come, but each would awaken, and the other would be there to comfort and rock away the fear and pain. That... kept them together. That... kept them strong.
That... kept them sane.
--- okay all... short and gloomy, but all I can muster right now. firstname.lastname@example.org.