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Xena: Warrior Princess, Gabrielle, Argo and all other characters who have appeared in the syndicated series Xena: Warrior Princess, together with the names, titles and backstory are the sole copyright property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement was intended in the writing of this fan fiction. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author. This story cannot be sold or used for profit in any way. Copies of this story may be made for private use only and must include all disclaimers and copyright notices.
NOTE: All works remain the © copyright of the original author. These may not be republished without the author's consent.
This story depicts scenes of violence and/or their aftermath. Readers who are disturbed by or sensitive to this type of depiction may wish to read something other than this story.
SPECIFIC STORY DISCLAIMER:
The story itself is about two women who are madly in love, and there will be some scenes depicting that love. There will, however, be NO explicit sex in this story! I figure you all would rather use your imagination for that stuff.
By the way, this is my first attempt at fan fiction, so please let me know what you think by e-mailing me at email@example.com. Constructive criticism only! All other kinds will make me cry...
Last, but definitely NOT least, I need to thank my partner in life for being so supportive in my endeavor. I love you!
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THE DARKLING - PART SIX
By Lynne Knowlton
They broke camp quickly, speaking only when necessary. Each of the three women took on their separate tasks, working together as if they had always done so.. They were back on the path to Amphipolis shortly after the sun reached its zenith. As they traveled, each was absorbed in their own thoughts of what had happened and what was to come.
The bard was deeply concerned by what she had experienced inside her mind. Gabrielle had always been aware of Xena's dark side. She may have been a bit naïve about it when they first began travelling together, but the bard had seen that part of the warrior enough to force her to face reality. The first time she had been with Xena during a fight, she couldn't believe it was the same person.
The warrior had seen the bandits long before Gabrielle did. The bard found herself pushed into the bushes with a hissed warning to stay put. She had just begun travelling with the warrior and hadn't yet learned how to defend herself. Needless to say, she didn't need to be told twice to stay out of harm's way. Xena approached the five men, not so much trying to defuse the situation as to provoke it. It didn't take much, and what Gabrielle saw that day would be forever etched in her mind. The bard immediately realized that the bandits were horribly outmatched. The warrior knew it as well. Even so, she played a macabre game, toying with the men, taking her time killing them. When she was finally finished, she calmly used the cloak from one of the corpses to clean the gore from her sword. When Xena finally moved toward the bushes, there was a feral fire in those blue eyes that made the young bard shudder.
The warrior placed her sword back in its scabbard. "Are you alright?"
Gabrielle slowly moved from the bushes, wary of approaching the tall woman. "Yes. I'm fine. Are you...alright?"
The warrior raised an eyebrow and smirked. "I'm always alright Gabrielle." She noted the look of horror on the bard's face. "So. Still willing to travel with me?"
Gabrielle knew the answer even though she had seen what her friend was capable of. She saw the dark unleashed, but still couldn't bring herself to abandon the warrior. She knew now that her reasons were twofold, although she didn't realize it until later. The bard was certain she could help Xena find the path back to herself. What she didn't know at that time, however, was just how much the warrior had insinuated herself into the bard's heart and soul.
Xena had changed so much since that first day, Gabrielle couldn't imagine that there was a part of herself that was still afraid of her friend. She had to admit that she had been at first, but now she knew who the warrior was. She had peeled away layer upon layer until she reached the vulnerable humanity underneath. After that, she could never be afraid again. She didn't think the dragon was about Xena. It was something deeper than that, but it would take a little more introspection to figure out just exactly what it meant.
Xena shook her head, unable to believe that, just hours ago, the blonde bard was near death. She turned to look at her friend, who appeared to be very much lost in thought as she walked beside Argo. Gabrielle had been, for the most part, silent ever since they left their camp. The warrior suspected that Gabrielle was most likely trying to analyze what had happened while she was "in between". She knew that the bard would talk to her when she thought she had everything sorted out. Xena was actually surprised that her young friend wasn't being more vocal in her search for answers. Gabrielle usually liked to think out loud, waving her arms and thumping her staff into the dirt to emphasize an important revelation. It concerned the dark-haired woman that the bard wasn't her normally expressive self. It indicated that her friend was deeply troubled by what happened. The anger at herself surged at the thought of Gabrielle once more being forced to reevaluate herself and the path she had chosen. She decided she would again try to talk the bard into going back to Poteidaia. She would be safer there than she would be travelling with an ex-warlord. The tall warrior sighed at the thought of again broaching the subject with Gabrielle. It was their oldest argument and one that the bard had always won. "Not this time."
With a gentle nudge, Xena coaxed Argo into picking up the pace a bit. She wanted to see if she could get any information out of Callisto, who had managed to push several yards ahead. Looking down, she realized that Gabrielle had barely noticed the horse moving away from her. "This is really eating at her. Maybe the skinny chick can shed some light on what happened." With that thought, she had truly admitted to herself that this Callisto was, indeed, from another reality. Xena didn't know why or how, but her world was connected with another...similar yet different. She couldn't even begin to fathom the ramifications of the 'rift' that had been helped into existence by someone on the other side. She shuddered to think of her alternate self, and what would happen when they met. They would meet...of that, she was certain. What she wasn't certain about was whether she would win the contest.
The sudden interruption of her thoughts startled the slim, blonde woman. She had been trying to wrap her brain around what had taken place between herself and the bard. Nothing like that had ever happened to her...then again, she had never taken part in the thumos doron in another world, away from her Athena. Xena's appearance at her side shook her from her thoughts. She gazed up at the warrior astride the tall horse, tilting her head slightly. "Hey yourself."
With fluid grace, the dark-haired woman dismounted, taking Argo's reigns in one hand. "I need to know what happened."
"Don't we all." Came the sarcastic reply.
A long arm snaked out, grasping Callisto's wrist in a crushing hold. The warrior wheeled the slim woman around to face her. Electric blue eyes flashed in barely controlled anger. Callisto's eyebrows rose in challenge to the action. Although Xena's face acknowledged the unspoken threat in the liquid brown eyes, she did not release the woman. "Looks like she's got some things in common with our Callisto after all."
The blonde woman wrenched her arm away from the warrior with a snarl. "Fine. I was there. Gabrielle was there. We fought a dragon. I gave her a gift. She lived. Satisfied?"
"No. I'm not satisfied. She's having a hard time dealing with whatever it is that happened." Taking in the dark circles under Callisto's eyes, the warrior realized that the woman hadn't been as unaffected as she had made it seem earlier. "And by the looks of you, you're not doing much better. Look...just let me help. Okay?"
The woman's gaze softened and she gave the warrior a tired smile. "I'm sorry. It's just that I'm still trying to figure it out myself. It's so odd how it worked out here."
Xena motioned for the two women to continue down the path to Amphipolis, taking care to make sure Gabrielle was still behind her. The bard seemed completely oblivious to the exchange that had just taken place. She stared ahead with a far off look in her green eyes, not really focusing on anything in particular. "She's not concentrating on her surroundings, which means that she's putting herself in danger...again." The warrior couldn't help but be annoyed with her young friend. It seemed that no matter how many times she had told Gabrielle to be more aware, she would just stroll down the road concentrating on her latest story rather than what could be around the next corner. It frustrated the Xena to no end. Leading Argo and a slightly confused Callisto, the warrior positioned herself behind Gabrielle. "It's easier to keep an eye on her if we're back here." Xena explained.
The two women walked in companionable silence for quite some time before Callisto began to speak. "It's called the thumos doron. It's the ability, given to me by Athena, to gift another person with a fragment of my spirit. We're not all so lucky, though." She said with a sarcastic tone. "As far as the 'why' of it, the closest I've ever gotten to an explanation was when one of the priestesses said that there were certain of the favored who were a little more than special to Athena. She had given us these gifts because the Fates had set us on a special course in our lives." She shook her blonde head, chuckling. "I guess being propelled into another world would qualify as a 'special course'."
Xena raised her eyebrows, giving Callisto one of her trademark half-smiles. "Yep. You're little impromptu trip would definitely qualify." The warrior was impatient to get to the heart of the matter, but she didn't want to push Callisto too hard, for fear the woman would close herself up.
"When we were being trained in the use of our gift, we were told that there would be very specific indicators of how to transfer the spirit from ourselves to someone else. I've only done the thumos doron twice before, and both times it was exactly how the priestesses described it would be. This time there was a completely new twist thrown in and, to be perfectly blunt, I was clueless. I didn't really have a frame of reference. I just did what I felt was right at the time. When I arrived on the plane where Gabrielle was, she was about to be incinerated by a dragon. Somehow I knew that she had control of that dragon. I told her as much and I also told her that if that dragon killed us where we were, we would die in reality. So...she shrunk it."
"I would have just killed it."
"Me too." Callisto grinned. "As a matter of fact, I stomped on it."
"Stomped on it?"
"Yep. Squished it flat. Didn't kill it though."
Xena chuckled. "Why not?"
"Gabrielle was the only one who had that power. " Callisto paused, tilting her head in thought. "You know, she has an incredible amount of insight. She recognized that the dragon, whatever it was, was a part of her. Killing it would have irrevocably changed her."
"I don't know. It would have depended on what part of her was the dragon."
"So. What did she do when she saw you stomping on her dragon?"
"Ha!" Callisto laughed out loud. "She tackled me into the dirt, ready to kick my butt from here to Tartarus."
The warrior joined in the laughter. "I can see that. She tends to get upset when defenseless creatures are harmed."
"Yeah. Well...she forgot about the fact that the 'defenseless creature' was about two seconds from frying her before she shrunk the damned thing."
The warrior waited a few moments before pushing on with her questioning. "So... I need to ask you something else."
"I think I have an idea of what you want to ask." Callisto responded softly, unable to meet the blue eyes she knew were staring hard.
"Really. What would that be?" Xena asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Why didn't I heal her sooner? Right?"
Several minutes went by. "Well?" Xena prompted.
"The thumos doron is a last resort. It has to be. I need you to understand that every time I give up a fragment of my soul, I give up a fragment of my life. I'm not an unlimited resource. It's not that I didn't want to help...I just needed to be sure that it was the only choice left." Callisto paused again. "She's very special, you know. You're lucky."
They walked quietly as Xena absorbed everything that Callisto had said. She knew now that whatever was bothering Gabrielle had to do with the dragon that had nearly killed her. She recalled her friend saying that she, Xena, had changed into the dragon. Was that what the bard truly thought of her? That she was as evil as that dragon? Sadness swept over the warrior as she realized that was the only possible explanation for its presence within Gabrielle's mind. That fueled her resolve to talk to the bard and get her...force her, if necessary...to go back home. She and Callisto could handle the 'other' and her friend would be safe from harm. Gabrielle would be safe...from the warrior and her dark past.
As they walked, the sun began to set, coloring the sky with soft reds and pinks. The gentle rays seemed to infuse warmth into everything they touched and the leaves on the trees glowed with the glorious light of sol sinking into the horizon. Callisto wondered if this would be the last time she would be able to enjoy such an incredible sight. She hoped not.
Neither woman spoke for quite some time after the sun had disappeared into the earth. The blonde woman wanted to clear up one more matter between the two. "I've answered your questions, Xena. Now you need to answer mine." Her voice became hard.
Xena raised her eyebrows and glanced sidelong at the slim woman walking next to her. "Go ahead."
"After the thumos doron, I noticed your sword lying on the ground back at the camp. I also noticed a rather large...shall we say...gouge in dirt the right next to where I was sitting. So...planning on killing me, were you?"
"Gabrielle was dying. As far as I was concerned, you were our Callisto. I figured we were better off with you dead than alive."
"What stopped you?"
"The thumos-thing worked."
Callisto looked at the warrior, brown eyes as hard as granite. "Don't try it again. You have no idea who I am or what I'm capable of."
A dark eyebrow crawled up the warrior's forehead. "Threats?"
"No. Reality. After what I've seen in my lifetime, there isn't anything or anyone that I fear. It's a glorious way to fight, you know."
"I do know." The warrior replied.
The blonde woman snorted, waving her hand dismissively. "You may have known in the past, but not now Xena. You live with a certain fear now, and that's what changes the way you fight. It's going to kill you one day."
"What do you know about a damned thing, Callisto?" Xena snarled, angry because the slim woman was right. She had thought as much herself, but she certainly didn't like hearing it from someone else.
"I know enough." Callisto shrugged, unfazed by the warrior's anger. "The way I see it, you have two choices."
The warrior's eyes narrowed. "Oh really? You gonna enlighten me?"
The blonde woman grinned, annoying Xena even more. "Why yes, as a matter of fact I am. However did you know? Choice number one, keep your bard and constantly worry about watching your back and hers. Choice number two, get rid of her and be free to hack and slash with rabid abandon! Of course, you'll still be wandering the countryside doing good deeds..."
"Of course..." The warrior was seething at this point. It took every ounce of willpower she had not to throttle the woman. "I thought you said I was lucky to have her with me."
"Oh, you are. I'd give anything to have the kind of...friendship...that you two have. It's not possible for me, however." Callisto shrugged again. "It's quite a little dilemma you have, isn't it Xena? I mean, do you live with her, or without her? With or without? Hmmmmm..."
"Oh shut up, will ya?" Xena snarled through clenched teeth.
"GODS! You're almost as exasperating as the other Callisto! As a matter of fact, you two are more alike than even I thought."
The blonde woman burst out laughing. "Oh come on, Xena. I can't be that bad, can I?" She paused to take a breath. "Or...maybe I can, since I have no idea what this other Callisto is like."
Xena looked at the blonde woman with barely disguised aversion. "Well, I can definitely say that the laugh is the same."
Callisto covered her mouth with one hand, trying to stifle the laughter that seemed to be grating on the warrior's nerves. "Ok. Here's the deal. I'll try not to laugh if you stop calling me 'Callisto'. I've always hated that! Gods, it reminds me of...well...nevermind. Anyway, just call me Calli."
"Calli?? What kind of name is that?" Xena's eyebrows scrunched in distaste.
"What's wrong with it?" The blonde woman was indignant.
"It's...dainty." The warrior replied with a smirk.
That remark caused Callisto to start laughing all over again. "I'll show you just how dainty I am when I kick your butt all the way across Greece and back!"
The sound of Callisto's manic laughter reached into Gabrielle's reverie, bringing her focus back to the present. She immediately realized that Xena wasn't in her usual place beside her, nor was she in front of her. The bard spun on her heel to find Xena and Callisto several paces behind her. The blonde woman was laughing that...laugh...and the warrior wore a decidedly annoyed expression on her face. Argo, quietly plodding along beside the women, seemed to be completely ignoring everyone. As Gabrielle waited for her friend to catch up, she noticed that the sky was dark. "Hmm. Now when did that happen?" She wondered. "I have got to start paying more attention!",
The little bard grinned at the women. "Hey, why are you guys all the way back there? Spying on me?"
Xena's eyebrow rose as she replied with more than a little sarcasm. "Yeah, right. More like making sure you don't walk off a cliff in your haze."
"Well excuuuse me, Xena Warrior Crab!" The bard huffed.
Callisto snorted and the warrior spun around, poking one long finger into the blonde woman's chest. "And don't you start that laughing again!"
"If you two can stop your bickering for long enough, do you think we could find a place to stop for the night?" Gabrielle thumped her staff into the dirt. "Besides, I'm starving."
Xena chuckled at the indignation of her friend. "Well...looks like you're back to normal." The tall warrior surveyed their location and headed off the path and into the trees. "Come on!" She called over her shoulder. "There's a small clearing right next to the stream up here."
"How does she do that!" The bard's eyebrows crinkled together in consternation. "That is so annoying!"
Gabrielle shook her head, allowing herself a little smile. "She just knows things. We could be dragged off to a completely different land on a completely different world and she would somehow find a small clearing next to some stream somewhere." The bard chuckled and turned to follow her friend into the trees.
Callisto shrugged, trailing after the blonde bard. When she emerged into the clearing, she could hear the trickling of the stream. The sound made her cringe. "Gods, I hope they don't try to feed me fish again!" Xena had busied herself taking care of Argo. The warrior had removed the saddle and bags from the mare and was in the process of giving the horse a good brushing. Argo was in heaven enjoying the ministrations of her 'person' while munching on some fine tasting oats. Gabrielle was tramping around the outskirts of the clearing searching for wood to build the fire. "I might as well make myself useful. Besides, if I don't it will be fish....again..." The lithe blonde sidled up to the warrior who was still tending to her mare. "Dont worry about dinner. I'll catch it."
Xena glanced sidelong at Callisto with a half-smile. "Fine by me. Just don't get lost."
Callisto rolled her eyes and snorted. "Oh please." She turned on her heel, ignoring the smirking warrior, when she realized something. "Ah...I need to borrow a dagger."
"What? I should think you'd be able to kill your prey with your bare hands." Xena smiled, gently teasing the woman.
Brown eyes darkened at an unbidden memory come to surface. "I can. And I have." The blonde's eyes cleared up as she pushed the memory back down where it belonged. "I'd like to dress it while I'm out there. I get the impression that Gabrielle would rather not see the blood and guts involved."
Xena sensed that she had unwittingly stumbled onto a very sensitive subject. She never really gave much thought to what this Callisto was like or what she had to do to survive in her world. The warrior had a healthy respect for inner demons. Gods knew she had enough of her own. She fought them every day of her life, winning most of the time. Every so often, however, one would creep up on her taking her unawares. She regarded the blonde woman defiantly standing before her. With a lift of her chin, the Warrior Princess acknowledged the darkness within Callisto. More than that, her expression told the woman that she understood it, that she would not be judged for it.
Callisto smiled, accepting the warrior's assessment. "Well, are you going to cough up the dagger, or am I going to have to use my teeth?"
The warrior rolled her eyes as she tossed her breast dagger to the blonde woman.
By the time Callisto returned to the camp with three plump rabbits, the fire was going. The bedrolls were laid out around the fire in a triangular fashion. She was curious as to why two of the rolls weren't next to each other as they had been the first night she was in camp. Perhaps it was because the warrior no longer felt the need to protect the bard from the 'Evil Callisto'. She shook her head, wondering why they just couldn't go ahead and admit their feelings to each other. The little dance the two women insisted on playing was getting on her nerves. She couldn't believe that they were completely clueless as to their feelings for each other. She had seen them interact enough to know that it was as obvious as the battered nose on her face that the two women were in love. Well, if Xena wasn't going to anything about the bard, perhaps she should. Callisto's teeth shined in the firelight as she grinned. "Let's see if we can get a rise out of you that way, Xena Warrior Blockhead!"
"Agh!" Gabrielle yelled as three rabbits came sailing out of the dark. "Good grief, Callisto!"
"Call her 'Calli'."
Gabrielle stared at Xena in total confusion. "What?"
"She prefers to go by 'Calli'."
"Ooook...now...before I was so rudely interrupted...good grief, Calli!" Gabrielle eyed the three skinned and dressed rabbits, admiring their size. "Wow! These are huge! How did you catch three this big?" The bard began rifling through her cooking pouch, searching for the right herbs to use on the meat.
"Ohhhh...I have my ways." Calli smiled as she sat on one of the bed rolls.
"Oh great." The bard snorted. "I've got one Warrior Princess with 'many skills', and I've got one...I don't know what, who 'has her ways'." The little bard continued to mumble under her breath as she prepared supper.
Xena gave the bard a smirk and a raised eyebrow for her trouble. The warrior continued sharpening her sword as she reveled in the normalcy of the evening. Just this morning she had come within a hair's breadth of losing her dearest friend. "But she's so much more than a friend to me. She's the other half of me...the light to my dark. Gods, I have loved her for so long that I can't imagine not having her by my side." The warrior was startled at the revelation she had just come to. Deep in her heart, she had always known she felt...love...for Gabrielle. Not the love of one friend for another, or even the love felt for one lover by another. It was a kind of love that one soul felt for its other half. Now that she had admitted this to herself, how could she admit it to Gabrielle? The answer was, she couldn't. If she did, one of two things would happen. Either the bard would run screaming all the way to Chin, never to be seen again. Or...she would feel obligated to stay with the warrior, and that was something Xena couldn't abide. She simply couldn't bear to think that Gabrielle would stay with her out of some misplaced sense of duty. No, she couldn't, wouldn't tell Gabrielle. She rolled her eyes at herself. This was all moot anyway, since she was going to convince her friend somehow, someway, to go back home to Poteidaia. Once she was back in her home village, the warrior wouldn't have to worry about it.
It never once occurred to the warrior that Gabrielle could possibly love her. It was that undying belief she still held, in the dark corners of her mind, that no one would ever love her. The bard had chipped away at that, and had almost made her feel redeemable. Even so, Xena could only look back at who she had once been and not who she was now.
The savory smell of rabbit stew was filling the camp. The growling noises emanating from Calli's stomach resembled an angry mountain lion. "Hey bard! Is it time to eat yet?"
Gabrielle, kneeling in front of the pot hanging above the fire, smiled at the hungry woman. "As a matter of fact it is. By the way, why were you so anxious to catch dinner anyway?"
Calli stood, rubbing her empty stomach. "I hate fish." She shrugged as she reached for one of the wooden bowls sitting next to the pile of packs near her bedroll.
"Hate fish?" The bard was incredulous. "How can anyone in their right minds hate fish?" She took Calli's bowl, filling it with a generous portion of stew. She handed the bowl back to the obviously ravenous woman and tilted her head.
"I hate fish with every fiber of my being." With that, Calli wrapped her lips around the bowl and proceeded to slurp the contents. "AAAAGH! It's HOT!! Ow, ow, ow, ow, OW!!!" The blonde woman began sucking air in and out of her mouth, sounding like a smithy's bellows.
Gabrielle tossed a waterskin and a spoon over to the agonized Calli. "Hey. Wanna try eating like a regular person?"
Calli took a long swallow of water, cooling off her sizzling mouth. "Sarcasm, I don't need." She mumbled under her breath.
Later in the evening, the women worked together to clean the dishes and secure the camp. It took all of five seconds for Calli to fall asleep. Gabrielle and Xena lay awake on opposite sides of the fire, both contemplating the day. The warrior was wondering when Gabrielle would open up about the previous morning when she heard a small voice.
"Can I talk to you?"
"Well, I think it would be better if I moved my bedroll over next to yours. That way we won't wake Calli up. Is that ok?"
Once the little bard was situated next to the warrior, she propped herself up on one elbow to watch her friend. She reached out and took Xena's hand in her own. The warrior's breath caught in her throat at how such a simple gesture made her feel. The warmth rushed through her, making her break out in a sweat. She pushed the blanket away from herself, exposing her upper body to the cool night air.
"Xena, what's wrong?" Gabrielle's voice was filled with concern.
"Nothing. I'm fine. Just a little warm, that's all."
"Oh. Ok." The bard paused for a moment. "Xena, I've been thinking a lot about what happened. About you, and the dragon, and what it all means." When the warrior didn't respond, the little blonde took that as her cue to continue. "You were in my mind, and you changed into this evil, horrible dragon who tried to incinerate me. I know you Xena. All day you were probably thinking that my dragon was really all about you...how I really feel about you...how I really fear you deep inside."
Unshed tears shone from the warrior's electric blue eyes. She didn't answer the bard...she couldn't. There was a lump in her throat the size of Mount Olympus and she couldn't speak even if she wanted to. She never ceased to be amazed at how easily Gabrielle read her. It was maddening, really...
If the bard noticed Xena's reaction, she chose not to express it. "It's not about you, Xena!" Gabrielle sounded almost happy. "It's about me! After I found out about another you, I think I was faced with my own arrogance in a way. I walk around each day with the incredible audacity to think that if it weren't for me, you would still be what that other Xena is. Who am I to think that I have such an incredible influence on your life? Sometimes I think I expect you to be perfect, Xena and that is so unfair. What if, someday, my unreasonable expectations push you away...from me? I think, Xena, that the dragon was about my fear of failing you. It was about the possibility that deep inside, there's a part of me that has a hard time accepting you with all your flaws...with all the darkness...with all the nuances that make you you." Gabrielle flopped onto her back as if exhausted. "I'm so very sorry, Xena."
The warrior could hear the tears in Gabrielle's voice and her heart ached. She rolled over, tentatively reached out, and brushed the tears from the bard's soft cheeks. "Don't cry, Gabrielle. You do have an incredible influence on my life. If it weren't for you, who knows where I'd be? And you have more faith in me than anyone I've ever known. "
Sea-green eyes locked onto electric blue and Gabrielle was startled by what she saw. It was...love! Her heart began beating faster as her trembling hand reached up to caress Xena's face. Suddenly, the warrior jerked her head away as if the bard's touch would burn her. Gabrielle tried to cover the hurt by quickly rolling onto her side. "Well, that's what I came up with anyway." The bard's voice was thick with unshed tears.
Xena mentally kicked herself for hurting her friend. "But it has to be done. I can't have her thinking that I feel more for her than friendship." In the warrior's twisted logic, revealing her feelings would somehow wind up killing the bard, herself, or them both. She flopped down onto the bedroll, watching the stars. It was something she and Gabrielle did together on occasion. It was a kind of game they played. Each seeing the heavens through the eyes of the other...
As much as Gabrielle wanted to, she couldn't bear to lay next to the warrior. The hurt was just too great. She wiped the tears from her eyes, stood, and moved her bedroll to it's original position. She pretended not to notice the intake of breath that came from the warrior at the sudden disappearance of the bard's warmth.
On the other side of the fire, Calli listened to the entire exchange. She was impressed by Gabrielle's interpretation of the dragon. It was very plausible. Calli was certain that if the Gabrielle in her world had lived, she would definitely have been one of the favored. The lithe woman was more concerned, however, with the fact that now she would have to put her plan into action. She was hoping that perhaps this talk would lead to something more between the two, but she was sorely disappointed. Callie shrugged her shoulders, thinking that now was as good a time as any. She rose and placed her bedroll next to Gabrielle's. She grasped the bard's hand in a gesture of friendship and nothing else...although Xena wouldn't know the difference.
"I have no idea why I even care about those two. I should concentrate on catching that sadistic bitch and getting back to my own world." She sighed deeply. "I guess I'm just a romantic at heart. Ok, Xena, get ready for...Calli The Thief of Hearts!" She laughed at the ridiculous nickname she had just given herself. A ridiculous name for a ridiculous quest...somehow getting the stoic Warrior Princess and the talkative Amazon bard together.
CONTINUED IN PART SEVEN
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