Destinies to Fulfill
The original general disclaimer in the first section is applicable.
Continued from Chapter 2
The early morning rays shone through Gabrielles window and onto her face, effectively waking her from an uneasy sleep. When Gabrielle gathered the strength to open her eyes and look around, she was momentarily disorientated as she was not in her bedroll camping but indoors and lying in a comfortable bed.
Remembering the events of the day before Gabrielle threw her blankets off and quickly jumped out of bed, getting changed and grabbing her staff she climbed down the ladder and into the barn where Argo was noiselessly eating some hay. She gave Argo a quick pat and set of towards the house hoping for some breakfast.
Xena woke as she always had, just before dawn. Hercules' arms held her close to his muscular body and his chin rested on the top of her head, effectively stopping her from getting up. What was surprising to Xena was that for the first time in many years she couldnt bring herself to open her eyes much less get out of bed. She moaned and in her semi-conscious state tried to move a little, in the hope that if she got her body moving she would be able to fully wake. Her moan woke Hercules who released his grip on her and pushed himself up so that he was leaning on his elbow facing Xena, who by sheer stubbornness had managed to open one eye.
Seeing her struggle, Hercules bent close and whispered in her ear.
"Stay, get some more sleep......"
Xena moaned more forcefully and made a weak attempt to rise. Hercules pushed her back down again with ease and Xena resigned to a few more hours sleep. Hercules gave her a light kiss on her forehead and removed himself from the tangle of blankets. He clothed himself in his usual garb before tucking the blankets around Xena's body. Xena although presumably asleep took his hand and kissed his palm, thanking him for the extra warmth the blankets provided and snuggled deeper into the pillow seemingly lost her battle with Morpheus. Hercules smiled and left the bedroom.
The first thing he did was relight the fire in the fireplace before boiling some water in small jug which hung over the fire, Then he walked into the kitchen hunting out the possible ingredients for breakfast. Fortunately there were some eggs left over as well as a large quantity of bread. Hercules smiled once again - he could make Xena's favorite.
When Gabrielle entered the house she could smell something cooking. Puzzled she followed the smell and wound up bumping into Hercules who was busy soaking slices of bread in egg yoke.
Both apologized and the first thing that ran through her mind was that Hercules cooked?
'No wonder Xena liked it here' she thought 'speaking of Xena...where is she'
Gabrielle asked Hercules where her friend was and Hercules explained that she was still in bed.
"Still in bed!!" Gabrielle explained stunned.
"Shhh" Hercules warned.
"Sorry" Gabrielle whispered. " Do you want me to go and wake her?"
"No need." Xena's voice came from behind.
Gabrielle turned and was amazed by what she saw...again.
Xena was dressed in a simple white shift that was laced up at the front. It had short sleeves and came to her mid thigh - much like the one she wore when she was being tried for murdering three villagers almost two years ago. Her raven hair was free, flowing down over her shoulders and down her back. She wore brown leather boots that were shin high and attached to her belt around her waist was a long silver dagger in a dark brown leather sheath.
She looked stunning.
Hercules sighed. "I thought we agreed that you would sleep for a while longer ?"
Xena smiled seductively, "Well, I was planning to but your cooking my favorite and I wanted it while it was still hot."
Hercules shook his head defeated.
After what had been one of the best breakfasts Gabrielle had ever eaten, Xena and Hercules gave her a guided tour. The only room that she hadn't seen in the house was the bedroom. She had never imagined Xena sleeping anywhere else than next to an open fire or in some cheap inn. The room was the most beautiful bedroom she had ever seen, the bed frame was made of sculptured wood and the bed head was engraved with a Lion and a Falcon surrounded by intricate patterns. Next they lead Gabrielle to a nearby fresh water stream that Xena told her was plentiful of fish. No more that a minutes walk from the stream was a silo full of grain, wheat, flour, dried fruit and barrels of port. Gabrielle was amazed by how fertile the land was and if she hadn't been there already she would have sworn that she was in the Elysian Fields. Grape vines heavy with fat, juicy grapes intertwined with apple trees while pheasants happily pecked away at the ground.
Xena had never seemed more content in all the time she had known her. The usually stoic warrior smiled and laughed, her body was completely relaxed probably for the first time since Cortese attacked her home village. Hercules laughed with her and Gabrielle couldn't understand why Xena had left this apparent paradise.
Not suprisingly the day passed into night quickly and the three retreated to the house for dinner. During the early hours of the afternoon, Hercules caught and skinned a pheasant which along with the young sweet vegetables that had been growing in the garden, provided a more than adequate meal. The atmosphere was light hearted with laughter all around especially when Hercules started telling stories about Xena and his time there three years ago. None was more amusing than the one he told just before they went to bed.
Hercules looked at Xena and laughed. Xena unaware of what he found so amusing exclaimed "What ?"
"I was just thinking about the oak tree incident." Hercules replied taking another sip of his port.
Gabrielle always eager for a tale asked what Hercules was referring to.
Xena looked straight at Hercules. "Don't you dare.."
Gabrielle getting for intrigued by the second prompted the demi god.
With one more amused glanced in Xena's direction Hercules began his story.
"Well, we had camped here for about a week and we both really liked it here but the problem was there was this small waterfall that we needed to cross to get to this really green pasture. See Xena wanted the best for Argo and she was so stubborn to get Argo over there, and *laughs* so I suggested that we build a bridge further down the river."
"The one we passed over yesterday..." Gabrielle questioned in Xena's direction.
Xena just nodded her head and rolled her eyes.
"Anyway, Xena said that would take too long and that she would find a quicker way. On the other side of the waterfall was this huge oak tree . . it the largest tree I have ever seen and the lowest branch would be no less than eighteen feet high. Xena thought that she could jump it and secure a rope bridge across it so that later we could build a more secure bridge across the top of the waterfall. I said that she couldn't make it and so we made this bet. So Xena never one to back up from a challenge tied a piece of rope around her waist an LAUNCHED herself into the air. I couldn't believe it...she made it... and then the branch broke."
Gabrielle and Hercules laughed while Xena gave a bemused expression wondering why they were laughing at her expense and why she was letting them get away with it.
"You should have seen her!" Hercules continued totally involved in the memory " She landed in the water with a great splash just missing going over the waterfall. She had the whole 'I'm going to kill the first person I see....." look on that beautiful face of hers and I'm thinking ' crap, I'm in for it now' She just wades out of the water and says to me ' you won ' and walks off back to the house."
They laughed again and this time Xena managed to break half a smile. Everyone was tired and Gabrielle offered to clean the table but Hercules insisted for her to go to bed while he cleaned up. Xena escorted Gabrielle back to her room and tucked her in before sitting on the side of her bed.
"Xena?" Gabrielle questioned.
"Yeah?" Xena answered gazing down on her with content eyes.
"You really love him...don't you. It was not a question. I see the way you look at him and the way your body relaxes when he is near...and I just want you to know that I'm happy for you and that if I'm getting in the way..."
Xena shook her head cutting of any argument. "Gabrielle, Hercules may have unchained my heart but you were the one that kept it there. I don't know what I'm going to do yet but he needs my help and I owe him more than you could possibly imagine... You don't see it but he is so afraid, last night he held me so close that any tighter and I wouldn't have been able to breathe. During the night when he thought I was asleep he kept on stroking my hair as if to make sure I was there. When he finally did fall asleep he started crying in his sleep calling out my name."
"What is he so afraid of ?" Gabrielle whispered.
Xena looked down at her lap before looking straight into Gabrielle's eyes. "He is afraid that he will lose the last person he loves."
"Yes, and if he does...I'm afraid of what he might do."
Hercules was waiting for her when she entered the house. He was sitting in front of the fire staring at the flames with unseeing eyes. Xena approached slowly before sitting down herself behind him and encircling her arms around him, her chin resting on his shoulder. They sat that way for a while until Hercules broke the blanket of silence.
"I'm sorry about keeping you up last night..."
"You have nothing to apologize for, you did the same for me more times than I care to remember."
Hercules turned to face Xena. "It's so hard...I don't know what to do or what to think, all I know is that you are the only one who knows what I'm going through and that you are the only thing I have left to hang on to."
"I'm here for you always...you know that."
Hercules nodded and pulled Xena into an embrace wanting never to let go. Xena pulled back and stood lowering her hand to Hercules. He grasped it and stood before Xena led him to the bedroom.
Hercules sat on the edge of the bed looking up at Xena who was standing very close to him, looking down. She caressed his left cheek with the back of her hand and lowered her head to gently brush her lips upon his. She then slowly removed his shirt before lowering her head once more to trail butterfly kisses along his jaw line. Pulling back she climbed onto the bed behind him, needing the tense muscles in his back. Hercules closed his eyes and blissfully reveled in her magical touch. Only a moment before hand he had been depressed, stressed and lost and Xena managed to turn his emotions around just by her simple touch. She amazed him every moment of everyday, she was so gentle and loving, her mere presence can cause a man to fall head over heels in love or tear apart his soul. Both extremes could be altered by her beautiful eyes. She could at will change them to the most tender innocence of a child to seductive or to an expression that would make the strongest of men fall to their knees in fear.
He wondered at the mystery of her. She was different to any mortal or god for that matter that he had ever come across. Some rumored that she was none other than Ares daughter but he didn't believe that. It was Ares way to struggle with others but Xena's only struggle was with herself. It was as if she was torn in some way. He knew he was one of few to know her heart. He doubted even Gabrielle knew what Xena felt deep down in her heart. She buried everything so deep inside her that he believed that even Xena herself knew what she felt half the time.
Xena had finished her massage and he couldn't tell how long had passed. She just sat behind him, her face pressed into his back, giving him the time that he needed. Hercules grabbed one of her hands that was casually draped by his side and kissed her palm, mimicking Xena's actions earlier that day. Xena pulled away and lay down on the bed, Hercules followed suit and lay facing her, the top half of his body propped up by his arm. He lowered himself so he could nibble at Xena's long neck. Xena lifted his chin so he was at eye level before claiming his lips with her own.
The next morning after much pleading on Gabrielle's part Xena had agreed to show her the famous oak tree. They left Argo behind and crossed the bridge that Hercules and Xena had built together. After a long walk of about two hour they finally reached the tree. The Oak tree was every bit as enormous as Hercules had said. Fortunately it was much easier to access since they had gone the long way, avoiding the waterfall. Gabrielle commented on the age of the giant and claimed what a fantastic view would be visible at the top of the tree. Xena smiled and told Gabrielle that she was right and that it offered a stunning view of all that lay below the mountain. Gabrielle asked how she knew and Xena told her that she would show her. Gabrielle worried about what *brilliant* idea Xena had come up with said to Xena " Your not going to try and jump up that tree again are you ?"
Xena just smiled and Hercules said " Don't worry she has done this before a million times, and besides, the branches are must more stronger this side . . . aren't they Xena?"
Xena just smiled wickedly and somersaulted a full sixteen feet and landed gracefully on a branch. She then proceed to climb steadily up the tree until she was out of sight. A few moments later a rope ladder came tumbling down towards the ground. Where it originated Gabrielle couldn't tell. With Hercules' encouragement Gabrielle soon found herself standing a large wooden floor made of large wooden planks nailed together, much like the boys used for their treehouses back in Potedaia. The view was just as awe inspiring as Xena said it would be. Soon Hercules stood beside them and together the looked out at the horizon. Xena looked down at Gabrielle and said "We used to camp up here sometimes, when it wasn't to cold, and spend the night gazing at the stars."
Xena remembered those nights as if it was yesterday. She would rest her head on Hercules' shoulder, his arms holding her lovingly under layers of soft furs, comforting her while she spilled her soul to the only one who cared whether she lived or died.
A shrill shriek broke her out of her reverie followed by a seductive " Xeeennnnnnnaaaaaaaaa......."
Her heart froze as she realized it could mean only one thing.
Continue on to Chapter 4
Return to Chapter 2
Return to XenaCrazed's General Fan Fiction and Poetry
Go to the Absolutely XenaCrazed Home Page