Disclaimer & Notices

Copyright: Universal and MCA own Xena, Gabrielle, and others but I own the plot.

Violence: There’s no violence

Subtext: That’s the only thing I know how to write, hehe.

Summary: A short story where Gabrielle plays a small trick on Xena to find out the warrior’s feelings for her. Xena decides to play along until she can figure out why her friend played the trick.

Started: April 16th 2000 on Sunday
Finished: April 16th 2000 on Sunday
Revised: March 4, 2007 on Sunday

Series: Putting the Puzzle Together, Story #2

 


Walking Separately
by Red Hope

Section 1

~*Part 1*~

The man lifted his head and observed a young woman walk into the tavern. The young woman was short with long strawberry-blond hair, green halter top on with a brown skirt, boots, and a staff. She gazed around and then walked up to the bar beside the man.

“What’s your name, beautiful?”

The young woman turned her head to the man. “I’m Gabrielle. Yours?”

He smiled. “Mark.” He shifted a little against the bar. “Never seen you here before.”

Gabrielle turned away but casually mentioned, “No, just passing through the area.”

“Really? For how long?”

The bard considered but shrugged. “Only for a candlemark or two.”

Mark mumbled under his breath, “Pity.” He then smiled warmly. “Where you headed to?”

“Um… east.” Gabrielle turned around and leaned against the bar then her eyes fixed on the door to the tavern.

“Are you visiting family?”

The bard averted her eyes away from the door and back to Mark. She studied him and noticed he was older than her, taller, and brown eyes. She didn’t like him one bit. “Sort of.” Gabrielle offered a faint smile in a polite manner.

“What’s sort of?” Mark had a grin and winked at her.

Gabrielle mirrored the grin yet quickly lost it and sobered. “Sort of is sort of.”

“Interesting.” Mark was leaning against the bar on his right side so that he faced the young woman. “So where are you from?”

“Potidaea.”

Mark’s head bobbed a few times. “I’ve heard of the place. It’s big into shepherding right?”

The bard smiled. “Yes, Potidaea is.” She then sighed. “Are you from here?”

“Yup, born and breed here.” Mark then took a deep breath. “So… are you traveling alone?”

Gabrielle shook her head then answered, “No.” As soon as she answered, Gabrielle spotted a tall, dark, and dangerous female warrior walk into the tavern. Her emerald eyes stayed pinned on the warrior and watched her sit down at a table in the corner.

“Your friend?” Mark signaled the warrior with his chin.

The bard turned back to Mark. “Something like that.” She then flashed a considerate smile. “I have to go.”

The man’s expression became leering, and he grabbed Gabrielle’s closest arm. “Stay here for a minute or two. Your… friend can wait.”

“No, she really can’t.” Gabrielle brought up her right hand and left her staff to lean against the bar. With her right hand, she lifted the man’s hand off her arm. “She’ll get angry to say the least.” She relinquished her hold as if she was dirtied.

Mark stood up from the bar stool. “And why is that? Or are you,” he emphasized, “with her?”

The bard slipped off the stool and grabbed her staff in her right hand. “Actually we’re…”

“You’re what?”

“We’re…” Gabrielle paused and absorbed Mark’s skeptic features. She steeled herself then proclaimed, “Well we’re lovers.” From the corner of her eye, she saw the bartender’s head snap up.

Mark started to laugh then after he shook his head. “Sure, sure. I bet she doesn’t even know you.”

Gabrielle’s grip on her staff tightened. “She does know me… really well in fact.”

Mark grunted, yet he didn’t lose his smirk. “Uh huh. Come on, I’ll show you a good time.” He tried to grab the bard, but she stepped back with irritated features.

The young woman stepped back. “Excuse me.” She stalked off and went through the tavern. She could sense the man’s eyes followed her. Gabrielle spotted her friend and smiled to her, but it was sheepish.

Xena saw her best friend coming so she inquisitively arched an eyebrow because of the odd look she received from Gabrielle. She watched Gabrielle come up and dropped her staff to the table. Then well, the next thing that happened went quickly and surprisingly.

Gabrielle sat in Xena’s lap and faced her while she straddled the warrior’s lap. She then brought her right hand up behind the warrior’s head and quickly pulled her in for a long, deep kiss.

Xena, who rarely was surprised, overruled her initial shock then faintly responded to the kiss because she was not sure what else to do. Her eyes slowly opened back up as her friend pulled back from the kiss. Xena’s eyes slotted, and her voice came out low and dangerous. “Gabrielle, what in Hades do you think you’re-”

“Xena wait, I can explain.” Gabrielle coyly smiled in hopes it would calm the warrior.

Xena took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “So start explaining.”

“Okay, see that man over there by the bar?”

“The one you were standing by earlier?”

Gabrielle tightened her hands around the warrior. “Yeah well that’s Mark.”

Xena inhaled carefully then drew out, “And Mark has to do with this because?”

“Well…” The bard shifted uncomfortably, and she didn’t notice her movements affected the warrior. “He was hitting on me and then you came in. So I was about to come over here, but he stopped me. Then he said I didn’t know you so I said I did.”

Xena’s features darkened then her huskily mentioned, “Gabrielle you’re still not telling me why you’re in my lap and kissing me.”

“Right.” The bard toyed with her hands nervously for a beat. “Well I kinda… well I told him we’re lovers.”

“Gabrielle,” the warrior growled, which captured nearby people’s attention again.

Gabrielle quickly ducked in, and she captured her friend’s lips again. She showed she was sorry through the kiss; she just hoped it would help. Slowly she pulled back with her eyes slightly showed fear. “Xena, don’t get angry. Please?”

The warrior dipped her head then gained control of her emotions. She knew she couldn’t remain angry at the bard despite she had a reason to be. She slowly lifted her head and murmured, “You owe me big.”

The bard released her held breath then professed, “Thank you, Xena.”

“Mmmm.” Xena then placed her hands on her friend’s sides. “Come here.”

The Amazon Queen followed the physical command and turned around then let her back rest into Xena’s body. She felt the warrior’s arms circled around her stomach, and Gabrielle dropped her head against her friend’s shoulder. Her eyes drifted over to the bar to see Mark staring at the pair; she shut her eyes. “Gods, he’s still watching.”

“He’ll leave… one way or another.”

Gabrielle could only guess what the Warrior Princess would do if Mark didn’t opt to leave. She bit her lower lip then gently called, “Xena?”

“Mmmm?”

“I’m really sorry.” Gabrielle slowly opened her eyes.

The warrior was briefly amused as her eyes gleamed. “It’s okay. Just relax ’til he leaves huh?”

“Yeah.” Gabrielle had her hands resting over top of her friend’s hands. “We should do this more often.”

Xena had a smirk, yet she warned, “Gabrielle.”

The bard chuckled. “I was kidding… really.” She took in a huge breath. “Next time we need to pick a better spot to meet.”

Xena rolled her eyes then replied, “To say the least.”

“It could have been worse, Xena.”

“Uh huh.” The warrior grinned. “I could have been kissed by a centaur.”

“Xena, gods am I that bad of a kisser?” Gabrielle sensed her friend faintly stiffen then relaxed again. She wondered, yet she grinned in satisfaction.

“I didn’t say that, Gabrielle.” Xena glanced at the bar, and the man was still there.

The Amazon Queen smirked then teased, “Well… it’s good for you to get kissed by a woman once in a while.”

The Warrior Princess closed her eyes and held back every comment that wanted to spring from her lips. She slowly opened her eyes again, and she replied. “Just end it right there, Gabrielle.”

The bard released a chuckle. “Oh boy… is this a bad topic huh?”

For an answer, the warrior tightened her arms really hard against the small woman’s stomach.

Gabrielle coughed then grinned. “Guess that’s my answer.” She settled back into her partner’s body. “Tell me when he leaves.”

“Trust me I will.” Xena then observed that Mark was already watching them. Her features darkened considerably then her sneer showed.

Mark fidgeted, turned his head away, and stood up from the stool. He tried to casually stroll out of the tavern, yet his steps turned dramatic and fast.

Xena grew smug. “He’s gone.”

The bard opened her eyes and saw that Mark was indeed gone. She silently grumbled but cheerily stated, “Great.” She stood up after Xena released her. Gabrielle snatched her staff off the table and faced Xena. “Are you ready?”

The Warrior Princess slowly stood up. “Yup so let’s go.”

Gabrielle turned around, and she walked to the door of the tavern with her friend following behind.

As soon as they left the tavern, Mark came around the corner of the tavern. He grinned at the two women walking together. “Good luck, my friend.” He chuckled as he strolled back into the tavern.

Xena and Gabrielle trekked through the village together and eventually onto the road that led out of town. They were silent and sensed the awkwardness.

The Amazon Queen peered up at her friend, and she tried to decipher the expression on her friend’s face. “So how much do I owe you?”

The warrior kept stoic, yet a grin curled her lips as she drew out, “A lot.” Her eyes then narrowed. “A whole lot since you played a trick on me.”

Gabrielle abruptly stopped. Her stomach jumped to her throat then fell back down. “What?”

Xena had stopped walking. Her arms were against her chest. “I saw you talking to that man, Mark, before you went into the tavern.”

The bard averted her eyes then focused back on her partner. “I’m sorry.” Her voice was a low whisper.

“Uh huh. Why?”

Gabrielle’s left hand went up to her hip as her eyes harden. “Because I wanted to find out what you’re feelings are for me, Xena. I can’t figure it out.” She turned away but Xena’s right hand halted her quickly.

“What’s that suppose to mean, Gabrielle?”

The bard’s shoulder slumped, and she turned her head sidelong. “It means you’re so damn blunt with everything but your emotions. Hades if I can count on you to tell me.”

“Why didn’t you just ask?”

“Xena, are you serious?” Gabrielle finally turned around and showed her frown. “Would you really tell me?”

The warrior stared at her friend then dropped her head.

The bard released a sigh and shook her head. “Exactly.” She pulled her arm free. “Xena, I’m so sick of you playing games with me.”

“What?” Xena’s features tightened as she took a step closer to Gabrielle. “How in Tartarus do I play games?”

Gabrielle bit her lower lip, stopped, and composed her thoughts. She inhaled slowly then carefully explained, “It’s not you… directly but gods, Xena I can’t understand where we’re going or what you want.” She lowered her head after she saw the warrior’s worried features. “First you died and then you kissed me in some dreamscape alternate world thing.” The bard raised her head up and met the warrior’s gaze. “Then a few days later you’re flirting with me while we’re trying to stop a giant and an army.”

Xena became a mixture of defensive and angry. “Oh like you weren’t flirting right back, Gabrielle?”

The bard became frustrated and yelled, “Hades Xena, I did because I thought I could get you to make a move!” Her temper instantly deflated when Xena’s hurt showed. Gabrielle turned around, walked away for a few steps, and faced Xena. Her voice filled with desperation. “I don’t know whether you’re coming or going. One day I feel close to you then the next I feel leagues away.”

Xena felt a sense of fear course through her. She hated seeing Gabrielle this distraught and for once she wasn’t sure what to do. She stepped up to the bard and collected a small hand into hers. “Gabrielle… I…” She lowered her head and desperately tried to gain control.

Gabrielle squeezed the warrior’s hands then let go. “It’s okay, Xena.” She kept her pride as she nodded and softly added, “I understand.” She turned around and continued the journey down the road alone.

The Warrior Princess stood motionless. Her glossy blue eyes locked on the bard’s receding back. She grew angry suddenly, not at Gabrielle, but at herself for her silence. She suddenly took off at a run and easily caught up to Gabrielle. She came in front of the bard, put up her hands, and made the bard stop walking.

“Xena-”

“You don’t understand,” Xena quickly cut off. She kept her hands up. The plea showed in her face as she lowered her arms to her side, and she stepped closer. “I’m scared… I’m scared for you and I’m scared… for me,” she whispered. “You’re already a target, Gabrielle and if… if we’re together that makes you a bigger target.”

The bard tapped her staff against the ground. She carefully considered the warrior’s words then she nodded once upon making a choice. “Either way though I’m still a target.”

Xena sighed sadly upon hearing the logic.

“I’m scared too, you know,” Gabrielle softly admitted. She sensed Xena’s quick protective reaction so she explained, “I’m scared of not knowing… of not finding out what is between us.” She stepped closer so that her body almost touched her friend’s. “You know why I’m more scared of that than being the next enemy’s target?” When silence met her answer, her next words were a choked effort. “I’m scared that I’ll wake up and find you dead again. I’ll wake up and realize I never took the chance to be with you.” She covered her heavily rising and falling chest with her freehand. “I don’t want to wake up to that day, Xena.”

The warrior hastily gathered her friend into her arms and held her. She heard the bard’s staff fall to the road then strong arms clung to her. She lowered her head down until her lips were close to Gabrielle’s ear. “I’m so sorry, Gabrielle.”

Gabrielle’s tears broke and not because of the warrior’s apology but simply because of her fears. She cried from her memories of Xena’s death and the hardships she suffered without Xena beside her. “Don’t be,” she managed in a choked voice.

Xena closed her eyes and thanked whoever had given her this beautiful woman. She knew Gabrielle had years ahead of herself, yet Xena imagined Gabrielle’s beauty would be magnified. After some time, she pulled back and lifted her left hand to Gabrielle’s face. She gently caressed the bard’s cheek.

“You know the risks?” Xena murmured.

“I do,” Gabrielle gently agreed, “and I know the risks if we don’t try. I don’t want to walk this road alone, Xena.”

The warrior sadly smiled then brought her head down closer. “You won’t ever have to… you should know that by now.”

Gabrielle’s rare smile that made her seem so young finally appeared. “I do know, Xena. Thank you.” She turned her head and placed a light kiss to the inside of Xena’s palm.

Xena’s heart leapt into her throat, fell down, and her heartbeat remained fast. “They’re going to talk about us.”

The bard rolled her eyes, but her devilish grin appeared. “And half of Greece already gossips about us being lovers.”

“Well you certainly helped those rumors today in the tavern,” Xena chided.

Instantly Gabrielle blushed a rich crimsoned. “I won’t apologize for it,” she declared quite proudly.

“I don’t think you should either,” Xena whispered. She lowered her head closer.

Gabrielle coyly smiled, but she grew nervous and excited just as Xena’s lips touched hers. She closed her eyes then she couldn’t help the moan when her lips melted against Xena’s. She pressed her body against Xena’s and strong arms held her close by her hips.

Xena let the kiss go slowly so that she could entertain every amazing feeling she felt this time. She’d tasted them before in the previous, quick kisses but this was alive to her.

Gabrielle came out of the kiss with a gasp for air. Her frantic heartbeat told her how much she enjoyed it. She had a shy smile yet asked, “So, am I good kisser?”

“Very,” Xena murmured.

The bard tilted her head when she read the creasing lines in her partner’s face. She watched as Xena’s jaw went set then there was the wildness that filled Xena’s blue eyes. She leaned in and uttered, “How many?”

The Warrior Princess could no longer hold back her cat grin and especially because Gabrielle knew her so well. Her right hand slid off the bard’s hip and crept over to her chakram. “There are six behind you… five hundred paces.”

Gabrielle’s eyes slotted when she heard the distinct sounds of boot scrapes. She then tensed when the low ping of Xena’s chakram freeing rang in her ears.

“Now,” Xena ordered who lifted her retracting right arm.

The Amazon Queen ducked, swooped up her staff, and spun away until she came to stand at her partner’s side. She raised her staff just as the chakram soared towards the bandits. She smirked when Xena’s battle cry rang through the air. “It’s never a dull moment,” she muttered to nobody but herself.

Xena was already gone, in a sprint, and extracting her sword in midstride.

Gabrielle joined into the fight by collecting two opponents. She spun her staff and prepared for bandits to strike her first.

“Gabrielle,” Xena called over the din, “I promise we’ll continue the conversation later.”

The bard yelped when a sword tip breezed past her throat. She then parried another attack and muttered, “And Xena always keeps her word.” She chuckled at the bandit’s confused features so she took her opening and struck them across the faces. Her earlier smile reappeared because her plans worked out, despite the minor alteration in her plans, but she was certainly flexible nowadays. Today had turned out to be an amazing day.

The End