Disclaimer & Notices: See Chapter 1.
The Loudest Silence
by Red Hope
Xena’s right hand shot out, grasped the rail of the bed, and kept her and Gabrielle from tumbling out of bed. The ship’s roll was harder than last time, and Xena wasn’t opt to falling out of bed.
Gabrielle opened her eyes and looked at her lover. “I hate this.”
The warrior quietly laughed. “I agree.” She took a deep breath and closed her eyes again. “It’ll slow down once we get around this point.”
“How you figure it’s a point?” The bard closed her eyes too and snuggled her head under her soul mate’s chin.
“The waves picked up and only half a candlemark ago. I felt the ship begin to turn so that means we’re rounding a point.” Xena had a faint grin because of the bard’s dubious look. “There’s wind coming around the point from the sea.”
Gabrielle was still suspicious, but Xena was the pirate.
“Too many years on the seas,” the former pirate mentioned as if reading the bard’s mind.
Gabrielle chuckled then lowered her head down into the pillow. “I’m glad I wasn’t there… you’d probably have hung me off the side of your ship for barfing too much.”
Xena couldn’t stop her laugh at the mild joke. She tugged the furs back over them. “Go back to sleep… we’ll probably be there in two candlemarks or so.”
The bard hoped she could fall back to sleep, but the rolling had subdued already. She let out a small yawn then closed her eyes. She unknowingly kissed Xena’s chest in an affectionate manner.
Xena smiled at the old habit that she’d missed over the past months. She and Gabrielle drifted to sleep rather soon. But a few candlemarks later, several loud pounds to their quarter’s door made them get up and get ready. The captain had ordered them to come up on deck.
Gabrielle had shot out of bed and quickly got ready after Xena told they needed to pack their things. The warrior needed to get her armor, boots, and weapons back on and secured.
“So want to tell me about this… town?” Gabrielle teased after coming out of the small head.
Xena grinned at her partner and stood up from the chair that was bolted to the floor. She had her boots on, which was the last thing. “You’ll see shortly.” She could tell the bard already suspected her.
Gabrielle shook her head, yet she had a soft grin. She collected their packs and made her way out of the quarters. She sensed Xena right behind her.
Once on deck they were greeted by the captain and his warm smile. Captain Alexander went by plain old Captain Alex and was a rather jolly man.
“Yes, the dinghy is ready for you.” The captain led the warriors to the rail of the starboard side of the ship. He pointed over the rail.
Xena and Gabrielle glanced over the rail and spotted the small, wood rowboat bobbing up and down in the water.
Gabrielle straightened up but kept her hand on the railing. She now had a chance to study the island that she’d spied once they were up on deck. She suspiciously eyed her partner.
The older warrior developed a smirk, yet she went serious and turned to the captain, an old friend. “Thank you, Alex.”
“Anytime, my friend.” The captain inhaled the salty air then explained, “The rowboat is stock for three days worth of food. I believe the island contains fruit. You’ll both be fine ’til we return.”
“Great. I owe you.”
The captain instantly shook his head. “For old time’s sake, Xena.” He held out his arm.
Xena smiled warmly and took the large arm in a brisk shake. “Thank you. We’ll see you tomorrow or the next day.”
Alex grinned. “Enjoy the vacation.” He released arms then went back towards the helm.
The tall warrior gazed over to her partner. “Come on.”
The bard simply nodded and followed her lover while checking that the packs wouldn’t fall off her shoulders. She came to a rope ladder that was slung against the haul of the ship.
Xena told Gabrielle to wait a moment while she boarded the rowboat. She hurried down the ladder, which slightly rolled from Xena’s weight. She’d seen the supplies earlier, but Xena now realized how much the captain stocked her and Gabrielle. There were six, big packs filled to the brim.
Xena shook her head in disbelief, but she looked up and called, “Toss me the packs.”
Gabrielle nodded and tossed down each pack one by one. Once they were gone, she climbed down the ladder and got into the rowboat.
“Grab the painter, Gabrielle.”
Gabrielle furrowed her eyebrows. “The who?”
Xena quietly laughed and sat down in the middle seat of the boat. “The bowline.” She pointed at the sailor back on the ship who was holding it out.
The bard slightly flushed. “Right.” She yelled up, “Throw it!”
The sailor nodded and tossed the painter.
Gabrielle easily caught it and turned back around but sat down in the bow seat. She quickly coiled up the rope and watched her partner, who was arranging the oars into the oarlocks.
Xena turned the boat so that the stern faced the island despite her back faced it.
The bard had put the coiled line down on the floor, at her feet. She leaned back into her seat a bit, propped her arms up on the rowboat’s rail, and enjoyed her lover’s rowing. She crossed her right leg and grinned at Xena’s muscular, hot form. Gabrielle’s butterflies returned in her stomach that she hadn’t felt in a long time.
“What?” the Warrior Princess inquired. She had a smug look because she knew what Gabrielle was thinking and feeling.
The bard lifted her right hand and mentioned, “I feel like a queen.” She pointed to the island behind Xena and teased. “That way.”
Xena rolled her eyes but stayed focused on her rowing, and she could feel a sweat breaking out over her skin.
Gabrielle lightly swayed her foot in the midair that was crossed over her other one. She tilted her head and remarked, “You look good for a woman pushing her sixties.”
Xena chuckled and shot back, “You’re not bad yourself for being in your forties.”
The bard smirked for a beat, but she looked back at the beautiful island not far from them. “So… how long are we staying on the island?”
“Until Alex makes it back… maybe a day or two. It’ll depend on how quickly he makes his trade.”
Gabrielle bobbed her head. She studied the island and tried to imagine what her and Xena were going to do until then. She didn’t expect such plans from Xena because they both could go stir crazy just sitting around. But maybe it wouldn’t be so bad, actually. “So what made you think of this idea?”
Xena grinned at the bard’s question. “I think it was when I thought to myself that I’d like to disappear on an island with you for a day.”
Gabrielle quietly laughed and shook her head. “I agree.” She sighed contently. “It’ll do us some good.”
That was Xena’s thought too. She stole a glance over her shoulder and noted they were close to the island.
Within a few moments, the rowboat ran onto the shoreline, and Xena hopped out with her soul mate. They pulled the boat onto the beach and unpacked all the supplies onto the beach.
The warrior went back to the boat and reached inside to pull out a long line. “I want to leave the boat out in the water.”
Gabrielle glanced up. “Why is that?”
“Well right now it’s high tide and if we leave it on shore it’ll be stuck on land at low tide.” Xena grew smug at her partner. “Now if you want to spend two candlemarks shoving the heavy rowboat into the water we can.”
Gabrielle shook her head. “No, that’s alright.”
“I agree.” Xena turned to the main area of the island, which contained a tiny forest. “Come on, I wanna show you something.”
The younger warrior followed behind, and they came to a tree.
Xena uncoiled the rope and dropped it to the ground. “Okay, we’re going to tie this rope to this tree and tie the other end to the bow of the boat.”
The bard crossed her arms against her chest. “So, then we can leave the rowboat floating out in deeper water.”
“Exactly.” The warrior wrapped the one end of the rope around the tree’s trunk. “You’re going to help me with this knot.”
Gabrielle was skeptic but offered, “I’ll try.” She stepped up beside her companion and gazed at the end of the rope in Xena’s right hand and the other in her right hand. “So, what knot are we doing?”
“We’re going to do the bowline.”
Gabrielle nodded and confirmed the name. “Bowline… sounds good.”
“It’s a perfect knot to use for anything.” The warrior took the main part of the rope and made an eye and still held the tail in her left hand. “Okay, here’s how you do this knot… there’s a story with it.”
The small warrior grinned. “Perfect for me.”
Xena only grinned in response then seriously explained the knot. “First, with the eye here.” Xena pointed. “Make sure that the main part of the line leads under the tail half.”
Xena tilted her head at her partner. “Now the story is about a rabbit…” She wiggled the rope’s tail in the air as an indicator to the rabbit. “A hole.” She pointed the tail at the eye, which was the rabbit’s hole. “A tree.” She pointed the tail at the main line for the tree. “And a fox.”
Gabrielle bit her lower lip yet her grin couldn’t be stopped. She patiently listened to her lover’s instructions.
“So,” Xena continued, “the rabbit comes out of the hole.” She brought the end through the hole. “He sees the fox and runs around the tree.” Xena now wrapped the end around the main line. “Then runs back in the hole.” She put the end back through the hole. “That’s all to it.” Finally, she tugged on the main line and tightened up the knot. “Honestly, this will hold a warship.” She yanked on the main line one last time, and the knot only tightened. “And easy to undo.” She quickly demonstrated it then held out the rope to her partner. “Your turn.”
Gabrielle found it easy to demonstrate the knot simply because of her lover’s story. She easily did it then jerked on the main line to tighten the knot. She grinned up at her partner.
“Nice job,” the older warrior complimented. She then asked, “Can you do another in the metal eye on the bow of the rowboat?” She pointed to the eye that protruded from the rowboat.
Gabrielle nodded and took the rope’s other end down to the rowboat.
Xena had followed but went into the rowboat. She dug around until she had a mushroom anchor, which Gabrielle curiously studied.
“It’s a mushroom anchor,” Xena explained, “for putting a boat on mooring.” She grabbed the painter, hastily did a bowline knot through the anchor’s eye, and got her boots off next.
“Xena, I can take it out there,” the bard offered.
The Warrior Princess devilishly smirked and teased, “But not too far out.”
Gabrielle slotted her eyes at the height joke.
“Be back.” Xena waded into the water and drew the rowboat out into the water until it was just over her chest. She then dropped the mushroom anchor to the sandy bottom. Once she arrived back on the beach, she said, “Let’s set up a camp.” But she asked, “On the beach?”
Gabrielle had her hands on her hips yet dropped them and agreed to the question. She knew it’d be chilly at night but that’s what a campfire and Xena were for in times of cold.