It had been months since Gabrielle had seen Xena every moment of which her heart ached from the absence of her soul mate. The bard was still punishing herself for what had happened to Solan that dreadful day. Even after their trip to Illusia Gabrielle couldn’t face Xena let alone remain her partner feeling she would only be a burden on the warrior at this point. Ever since that horrid day Gabrielle seconded guessed herself at every turn questioning whether her decisions were the right choice or not. After many heated arguments Gabrielle had told Xena she was staying with the Amazon’s making it abundantly clear she wanted her gone. She had thought taking her place as queen would heal her wounds but it was the biggest mistake she had ever made.
Ephony was now second in command but she might as well have be the queen for Gabrielle never made a decision without her consult in fear of making a disastrous choice. The tribe was not blinded to their queen’s heartache the pain in Gabrielle’s eyes never seemed to leave. Ephony thought that time would heal the wounds Hope had made but the Amazon was so very wrong; time had only made things worse.
The Queen now sat upon her throne watching the festival taking place in front of her with a distant look in her eyes not paying attention to her surroundings. The drums played a slow rhythmic beat that filled the night air and echoed off into the distance while Amazons danced around the fire. Gabrielle stood having had enough of the festivities she disappeared into the darkness away from the light of the bon fire. Making her way slowly across the camp The Queen thought about the moment after she had poisoned Hope and the brief instant after were she almost took her own life. She had not gone through with it simply for the fact that her love for Xena was to strong and she couldn’t image being without her. Even now the love she felt for her burned stronger than ever making her regret of pushing Xena away that much worse. But the blonde felt she didn’t deserve the warrior’s love anymore and thought it best she was no longer at her side even if it meant heart break.
Slipping into her tent Gabrielle undressed letting her clothes fall on the floor not bothering to pick them up as she lay on her bed. Sleep seemed to be the only thing that brought her some resemblance of peace lately and she welcomed it. Though it took several candlemarks she finally felt her eyes start to close praying sleep would bring her some resemblance of peace. Shutting her eyes Gabrielle surrendered herself to Morpheus and embraced the only thing that could take away her pain.
The next morning Ephony entered Gabrielle’s tent seeing her friend still asleep in her bed. Hesitantly she walked across the room over to the naked queen who laid face down as she slept. Sitting down next to the blonde she gently shook the woman awake causing Gabrielle to moan her displeasure at being awoken from her slumber.
“What,” Gabrielle hissed turning to look up at the amazon. Ephony avoided eye contact knowing what was about to happen was not going to end well.
“Gabrielle there’s, there’s someone here to see you.” The queen turned away from her friend uncaring of who it was that was here to speak with her.
“Can’t you handle it? I’m not in the mood, Ephony,” she spoke bluntly.
“No, my Queen, I cannot. It’s of the upmost importance.” At this statement Gabrielle sat up pulling the covers up to her chest. “You should get dressed,” Ephony spoke quietly gathering the clothes from the ground and handing them to the blonde.
“Alright,” she nodded quickly getting dressed seeing the worry in the amazon’s eyes. “Ephony, who is here?”
“Gabrielle, please do not be angry with me. I know you said not to allow her into the camp but this can’t be ignored. I had to let her enter.” Sympathy flashed across Ephony’s face as the door behind her opened. Gabrielle almost collapsed upon seeing the woman who walked through her door,
“Hello, Gabrielle.” The warrior’s ice blue eyes showed obvious signs of heartache upon seeing her again.
“What are you doing here, Xena?” The queen tried to hide her pain unsuccessfully as she spoke. Unable to maintain eye contact she turned her head trying to gather herself.
“I’m here to help,” Xena moved closer. “There is a war party camped at your western boarder led by a very dangerous man.” Gabrielle stood her ground,
“Nothing we can’t handle Xena, we don’t need your help.” Hurt flashed across the warriors face at hearing Gabrielle’s hostility toward her.
“Gabrielle, listen to her,” Ephony moved next to Xena. “The warlord is Osirus.”
“This far south that’s impossible.”
“He’s set his sights on the Amazon nation and you know as well as I do he’ll stop at nothing to achieve victory over his opponent.” Gabrielle knew Xena’s words were true if Osirus had set his sights on her tribe it ment major trouble. Osirus was a complete mad man showing no mercy to his enemies and taking pleasure in wiping them off the face of the earth.
“He must be stopped Gabrielle now felt the seriousness of the situation at hand.
“Yes, if we can capture Osirus before he starts an invasion his army won’t proceed.”
‘They won’t fight without their leader,” Gabrielle agreed with Xena’s statement.
“I’ll go summon the council for an emergency meeting.” Gabrielle nodded her approval before Ephony hurriedly left to gather the others.
This was the first time the pair had been alone with one another as silence feel between the pair. Xena stepped closer trying to close the space between them but the blonde backed away keeping her distance. “I’ve thought about you every day.”
“Xena, don’t,” tears filled the younger woman’s eye’s as she spoke.
“Look me in the eye and tell me you haven’t thought about me as well.” Gabrielle let her approach, “I need you.” Tears slide from her eyes as she spoke. Reaching out a hand Xena gently grazed the bard’s cheek stroking her soft skin. “I’ve missed you so much.” Gabrielle looked up at the warrior finally making full eye contact,
“Xena, I-I don’t deserve your love, not anymore,’ she turned her back on the warrior.
“Is that what you think?”
“I pushed you away because you deserve someone who won’t hurt you again,” she confessed letting tears streamed down her face as she turned to face her.
“It wasn’t your fault I don’t blame you. Gabrielle, my heart hurts without you.”
“So does mine, can you forgive me?” the bard turned tears streaking her face.
“I forgave you so long ago, my love,” Xena pulled her close. “Don’t punish yourself anymore Gabrielle, please.”
“I’ve missed you so much,” she pulled away slightly still remaining in Xena’s strong arms. “I was a fool to make you leave,” Gabrielle looked away. Xena put a gentle hand under her chin forcing her to make eye contact,
“I should never have left,” leaning down Xena captured the blonde’s lips with her own. Gabrielle wrapped her arms around the warrior’s neck leaving no room between them as she pressed herself against the taller woman. Xena had so missed her bard’s familiar touch as she parted her mouth to let the blondes tongue explore her own.
“Gabrielle I’ve…” Ephony burst through the door, “Oh, I’m sorry.” A small smile on her face seeing the pair interlocked in a passionate kiss. Pulling away from one another they turned toward her,
“Is the council summoned?” Gabrielle asked trying to catch her breath.
“Yes, they are awaiting your arrival.”
“Alright, let’s go,” Gabrielle took Xena’s hand leading her out the door.
The council sat in a circle letting Xena explain her plan to get past Osirus’ men,
“They have already made camp on your western border Osirus has no idea we know of his location. This will make it easier for me to sneak past the guards around his camp,” Xena pointed to their position on the map.
“How many warriors will you need?” Ephonin asked.
“I’ll be going alone.” Gabrielle looked up at her warrior placing a hand on she arm,
“No, I’m coming with you.”
“It’s less likely I’ll be spotted if I’m by myself and I won’t put you in that kind of danger.”
‘Xena, I am coming with you I’m not going to let you do this alone. And you know as well as I do that we make an excellent team.”
“I can’t argue with you there,” Xena paused. “Alright, we go together.” Gabrielle placed both her hands on the table leaning forward to speak to her council,
“If this doesn’t work we will need a defense around the camp if they attack.”
“We have already begun preparing our fighters,” Ephony reassured her. “Xena,” she turned toward her friend, “do you plan on killing Osirus?” She knew the warrior was not an assassin and had never approved of such methods.
“I plan to capture him alive but I will kill him if necessary. His army won’t fight without him leading the charge and I’ll make sure that happens one way or another.”
Gabrielle hoped they could capture Osirus alive but she was not a fool The Queen knew how fast things could get out of hand and was prepared to do whatever necessary to save her tribe. Dismissing her council Gabrielle made her way with Xena to ready Argo for their trip. Gabrielle watched as Xena swiftly saddled Argo pulling the straps firmly around the mare and grabbed her staff to place next to the saddle bag.
“You ready?” Xena asked.
“As I’ll ever be,” she replied as Xena helped her onto the horse. The blonde had never been a fan of riding Argo but she felt safe in Xena’s arms as they wrapped securely around her waist. Giving the horse a gentle kick of her heals Argo set out in a gallop toward the tree line.
Xena slowed Argo about half a candle mark after they left the Amazon village she wanted to be as quiet as possible while approaching Osirus’ camp. Feeling the younger woman place her hands over her own Xena smiled. Having Gabrielle back in her arms again made her feel complete; these last few months alone had been pure torture on the warrior. Before Gabrielle she never could have imagined one person being so much a part of her soul that being separated made it hard to even function by herself. The blonde was so much a part of her now and the long separation from her was almost unbearable for Xena. Never again did she want to experience life without her fighting bard at her side.
Feeling the warrior’s body pressed against her own sent shivers down The Queen’s spine even after being lovers for almost two cycles the passion between them never seemed to dull. The long separation made Gabrielle’s own desire hard to resist even in such a serious matter as this. At that moment she wanted nothing more than for this night to be over so she could show the warrior just how much she missed her. But the time for play would could later after they had captured Osirus and stopped the threat against the Amazons.
Neither woman spoke during their ride content with just being in one another’s arms. Shortly after nightfall Argo made it to the clearing two clicks south of Osirus’ camp.
“We need to stay as silent as possible Osirus’ men could be anywhere though I assume he won’t expect any company just yet.” Xena helped Gabrielle down from Argo, “Keep an eye out for movement in the trees.”
“Alright.” Gabrielle took her staff from Argo’s side, “Ready?” Pulling her close Xena kissed her once on the lips,
“I am now.”
Gabrielle could only see a few feet in front of her in any direction the moon was half lit giving off little light. Following Xena who crept silently ahead of her Gabrielle listened for any slight movement that may indicate an attack as they moved. Their trek through the woods seemed endless until Xena stopped and signaled for her to crouch down behind a bush. Looking through the brush she saw they had finally come across Osirus’ men.
Xena gestured for Gabrielle to follow her as they circled the camp observing each guard post and tent location around them. They did this for around a candlemark Xena wanted to be sure of her entrance and exit strategy once she apprehended Osirus. Memorizing the layout of the camp she turned to Gabrielle,
“I want you to go back to the clearing and get Argo,” Xena whispered.
“What. Xena, no I thought we were going to do this together,” she protested.
“We are, listen. I need you to go get Argo so once I grab Osirus we can have a quick get away from the camp without being noticed.” Gabrielle now understood she didn’t want the guards catching up them in the woods if they carried him by hand.
“Alright, where do you want me to meet you?” Xena pointed to the night sky,
“When the moon is at its highest peak I’ll meet you on the eastern border of the camp. It’s the least guarded. I’ll have to take another horse from camp Argo can’t carry three people.”
“Okay, I’ll meet you there.” Before she left Gabrielle placed her hands over Xena’s, “Be careful.”
It took a while but Gabrielle managed to find her way through the forest to Argo who stood patiently in the same spot they had left her. Ever the loyal companion she neighed her sign of relief upon seeing one of her masters. When she had first started traveling with Xena the horse had made her uneasy but now she trusted her implicitly.
“Hey, girl it’s just me,” she grabbed her reins. “Xena needs us to hurry we don’t have much time.” She jumped onto the horses back placing a gentle hand of Argo mane, “Let’s go.”
Riding hard she made it to the eastern border of the camp with only minutes to spare; the moon was nearly at its highest peak in the sky. All she could do now was wait for Xena to arrive. Her pulsed raced faster with each minute that went by until a rustling noise from behind made the bard jump. Turning toward the noise Gabrielle prepared for a fight but let out a relieved sigh as Xena appeared dragging someone behind her,
“Here,” Xena threw the warlord over Argo. “Get back to the camp as fast as possible.”
“Wait,” Gabrielle looked around realizing Xena hadn’t taken another horse. “You never planned to go back to the camp did you?” Anger flashed in her eyes.
“No Gabrielle, I’m sorry. It was the only way I knew to make you go without me.”
“I’m not leaving.” Xena looked up at her with pleading eyes,
“Once his men find out Osirus is gone they will attempt to get him back. If I can keep them occupied long enough for you to return to camp and bring back a party of Amazons we can stop this before it starts.”
“Damn it Xena, I hate when you are right,” she leaned over and kissed her warrior. “Be safe I’ll be back as soon as I can.”
“I will, now go.” Nodding Gabrielle dug her heels into Argo’s side and vanished into the forest.
“Time to have some fun.”
Argo must have felt Gabrielle’s urgency because she made it back to the Amazon village in record time. Jumping off the horse she ordered Osirus to be thrown in jail bound and shackled until she returned.
“You did so well,” she patted Argo gratefully knowing the horse was spent and called to a nearby Amazon. “Take Argo to the stables and get me another horse,” she turned to Ephony. “We must hurry I don’t know how longer Xena can keep them at bay.”
“If I know Xena she is probably having the time of her life,” Ephony slightly smiled helping Gabrielle onto a fresh horse that was just brought to her.
“You’re probably right.”
Upon arriving it seemed Ephony had been right about Xena having a little too much fun harassing the men at Osirus’ camp. Men were dashing every direction trying to get away from the Warrior Princess who had apparently blown a few things up in her absence. Signaling her troops Gabrielle charged into the camp following the sound of Xena’s war cry.
In the middle of camp Xena fought her enemies as they attacked swinging her sword with grace as well as power. Hearing the Amazons bird calls she knew the fight would soon be over. About half the camp was already down for the count most knocked out from the blast Xena had caused and the other by her own hands. There was nothing the warrior enjoyed more than a good explosion to start off the day.
The Amazons had no trouble quickly and efficiently surrounding their disorganized enemy giving them no choice but to surrender or die. Soon realizing their defeat the soldiers one by one put down their weapons accepting the odds were not in their favor.
After the surrender the queen made her way toward Xena who stood looking rather proud of herself next to several unconscious men.
“Nice work,” she reached down to help pull Xena onto her horse.
“I know,” the warrior smiled wrapping her arms around Gabrielle.
“You just had to blow something up didn’t you?” she looked over her shoulder.
“Of course, wouldn’t have been any fun otherwise.” Ephony appeared at their side looking up at the pair,
“I think we’ve got it covered here,” she knew how exhausted the pair must be.
“I think so too. We’ll head back and inform the others what happened,” Gabrielle agreed aiming the horse back towards her village.
“See you when you arrive,” Xena called back as they took off back towards the forest.
Both women were exhausted by the time they returned and after telling the others what had happened the pair took a well-deserved soak in the hot springs. Bathing with Xena had always been one of Gabrielle’s favorite endeavors watching the water glisten off the warrior’s skin drove her wild. As she watched the warrior bath from across the pool she realized exactly how much she had missed her,
“Come on,” she reached out a hand, “let’s get out of here.” Pulling Xena out of the spring she handed her a towel, “I need you to make love to me,” she smiled making her way out of the hut.
As soon as they entered the tent Xena couldn’t restrain herself any longer pulling Gabrielle close kissing her with all the passion and desire she felt in her heart. Gabrielle welcomed the kiss without hesitation grasping Xena’s raven hair in her fingers drawing her impossibly closer. The bard never felt more alive than when she was in the arms of her gorgeous warrior princess,
“Xena,” she moaned. It had been such a long time since the pair had been together and each longed for the others touch. Xena pulled at Gabrielle’s towel watching it fall to the floor as she took in the beautiful site of her lover’s naked form. Candle light flickered across the blondes golden skin casting shadows across her body,
“I’m never letting you go again,” Xena promised. Letting her towel fall Xena closed the space between them, “I love you, Gabrielle.”
“I love you too, Xena.”