The Scroll

by JS Stephens
Copyright 1999, revised 2013. All Rights Reserved.
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Obligatory Disclaimer: I don't own Xena, Gabrielle, or any other RenPic characters who might appear in this little tale. There are slight spoilers for episodes of seasons four and five, so read at your own risk. Of course Gabrielle and Xena are lovers, this is my Xenaverse. I may mix up the sequence of the season four episodes, so don't toss rotten fruit at me, but I am taking a little liberty here. I don't intend to make a profit, etc.

I'm pretty bad with words, but I wanted you to know something, if you ever get this scroll. I've messed up pretty badly from time to time, misjudging that Najara creep, letting myself get arrested, allowing us to go on this strange journey against my better judgment. I sit across the fire from you and contemplate the vision of death, the vision of us both on crosses, yet you insist that it won't come true. Well, I don't trust any gods, my love, I can't even trust myself these days. I keep trying to send you away, but it seems that our destinies are intertwined, like some sort of fable or something. That last little adventure in India, the mendhi drawings, weird stuff, that woman stating that our souls would always be drawn together, that nearly freaked me out, my love.

Anyway, if anything ever happens to me, know that I've loved you since I first saw you fighting back against those slavers, I just wasn't aware of it yet. Then when Death was held hostage and you cried in my arms, cried for the boy who was freed from pain by Death. I'm no good with words, but you kept getting under my skin. I thought it was hero worship for the longest time, at least until after you married Perdicas and Callisto killed him in cold blood. You were so hurt, I was hurting because you were going to desert me for him, I think it is pretty safe to say that we were both confused.

But then we holed up in that cave for several weeks and we found our love for each other. Gabrielle, I'll always remember those days fondly, shining like gold in my memory. I want to believe that we'll always love each other, like I said, we've been told we're destined to stay together. Wouldn't it be strange if Krishna got it right and we do get reincarnated again and again? Will we have to fight to share our love each time, or can we fall in love like two ordinary people? Will we always be drawn together? What if this life is just a prologue to the rest of our lives?

Xena stopped writing and dropped her pack over the scroll when she noticed Gabrielle stirring. She waited to see if Gabrielle would wake up completely or go back to sleep before deciding where to hide the scroll. Gabrielle mumbled something, then sank back into a deeper sleep. Xena silently let go of the breath she had been holding, retrieved the scroll, rolled it up, then once again confronted the problem of what to do with it. Finally, she smiled as she thought of the perfect place: Gabrielle's scroll pack. Gabrielle rarely got the chance to reread any of her old scrolls anyway, so why not hide it there? She fit actions to thought, then yawned and slid under her own blankets, wondering when Gabrielle would let her sleep with her again.

Gabrielle had to bite her lip to keep from screaming at Xena. Xena was so nonchalant about her various injuries, Gabrielle thought as she stitched the ragged slice on Xena's thigh, so nonchalant about Gabrielle being between her thighs, half naked under the fur around her shoulders. Since their run in with Najara, distrust came between them, yet they had been promised eternal life together...

A hole. Statues in blue. A steamy bath, a wonderful massage, a feeling of emptiness. Xena screaming like a maniac, recognizing that Gabrielle's very soul was being siphoned away.

The cave again. Gabrielle and Xena avoided each other's eyes as they built a fire and fixed supper, did routine tasks. Gabrielle finally picked up her pack, fingering her scrolls, wondering if she should work on any. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed Xena watching her with sudden interest as she fingered the scrolls. Curious, Gabrielle held the pack up a little higher, opening it further, trying to determine what Xena had seen, only to have the pack taken away from her. Xena had silently crossed the distance and was standing before her, laying the pack on the ground. "Gabrielle, can we talk?"

"Sure." Gabrielle said.

Xena leaned over, laying her hands on Gabrielle's thighs in an unconscious imitation of Gabrielle's stance just days ago. "You know how I don't like talking about feelings and stuff like that, but something is happening. I feel like we're on a cusp, like we are going to be ripped apart if we're not careful."

"Xena," Gabrielle interrupted, "not the vision again. I think Alti was just-"

"No, you don't understand!" Xena leaned forward, her voice hoarse and urgent. "I've nearly lost you, first to that damned so called preacher, then to this so called guru, I can't afford to lose you! When was the last time we made love?"

Thrown off by the abrupt switch of topics, Gabrielle fumbled for an answer. "I don't know, several months? I haven't really kept track, Xena." She shifted on the natural ledge uncomfortably. "We've been busy."

Xena sank to her knees, face beseeching. "Do you love me?"

"Of course I love you, Xena! We will share an eternity together," Gabrielle protested.

"No, I mean right now, Gabrielle, do you love me now? I need you, but I need to be sure that my jealously hasn't torn out something precious from our marriage. Do you love me? Heart and soul and body?" Xena pleaded.

Stunned by the usually taciturn warrior's vulnerability, Gabrielle considered her answer more closely than usual. A simple flip "Of course I love you, we fight warlords and other nasties together daily!" would not work here. She looked into the worried blue eyes, unsure how to reply. Unbidden visions of Najara floated up to torment her, aware that Xena had seen Najara as a real romantic rival. Was that what Xena was worried about? "Xena, I do love you, heart, soul and body. I admit, life has been rocky lately and I'm sorry if I hurt you." Xena nodded slowly and stood up as if to leave. Fear flooded Gabrielle; she reached out and grabbed Xena's hand. "Hey, don't leave me!"

Xena turned back, looking at Gabrielle sadly. "I won't," she said simply. It just wasn't time, she thought.

Xena stared at Ares, wondering why he chose to appear before her. It was confusing, having so many people telling her who she had been, how she should act, what she should say. The god of war was handsome and sensual, luring her to him, prodding her to nearly join lips when Gabrielle burst into the room. The other woman looked horrified, then furious for a second, then schooled her face to blandness as she explained the latest crisis, something about the chakrams. Xena watched as Ares winked out of sight, then puzzled over Gabrielle's expression as she dried off and got dressed. Why was she filled with sadness over Gabrielle's look?

The rest of the day was a nightmare. Xena regained her memories, her dark side and a new weapon, all in a fight that seemed to last for hours but really lasted for minutes. Gabrielle wandered aimlessly around the building where they were staying, still trying to assimilate the events of the past few weeks. They had been crucified, went to hell and heaven, then came back to life, only to have Xena lose her dark side and her memories of their life together. She still wasn't sure if Xena remembered their marriage, or why they wore matching pendants around their necks, given to each other in marriage three years ago. She idly traced a crack in the balcony wall, then stiffened as she heard Xena's footsteps behind her.

"Gabrielle," Xena said as she approached the younger woman, "may I join you?" Gabrielle shrugged, shifting to make room. "You know, I prayed before. I prayed for a sign, a sign to tell me what to do and you showed up. You were my sign that I was the one to take the chakram, to blend them together, like the light and dark we have been and have become." Gabrielle looked up into Xena's serious blue eyes, surprised by her speech. "I just wanted to say, I remember everything now." She laid a hand on Gabrielle's shoulder. "Everything."

"Everything?" Gabrielle questioned.

"Yes. You were the only one who seemed familiar to me. Joxer asked me what to say to you and I told him what to say." Xena smiled a little. "After he left, I remember saying, 'of course, you could just kiss her.' At the time, I wasn't sure what I meant, but I had a funny feeling that I'd kissed you before."

"Well, yes, you have," Gabrielle agreed.

"And I'd like to again," Xena continued. She hesitated, then said, "My memories are still returning, but the emotions are here. I know I love you, Gabrielle, more than I've loved anyone before." She took a step closer to Gabrielle. "Would you let me kiss you again?"

Gabrielle answered by reaching up and pulling Xena's head to hers, barely touching lips. For once, she was in control, she realized, she had the experience and Xena, however temporarily, was the innocent here. She closed her eyes and concentrated on kissing Xena lightly, like a butterfly repeatedly landing and taking off, only to land again. She could feel distant heat gathering, something that she had not experienced for many months as they adventures had nearly torn them apart. She could sense Xena quivering, unsure what to do or what to say, so she showed her by kissing her again, this time a little longer with a little more pressure. Gabrielle finally slid her arms around her beloved's neck, encouraging her to kiss back more thoroughly, igniting the distant heat into a hotter glow, enveloping her senses, urging her to take Xena right then and there, but a small voice told her that this was her only chance to make it Xena's first time.

Xena stifled disappointment as Gabrielle broke away, staring into her eyes. She wanted to pull Gabrielle back to her, but was too unsure of herself, of them, to do anything. Gabrielle took over, leading Xena by the hand to their room, then resumed the kissing, this time with more passion. Xena felt her body responding, wanting something from Gabrielle. She had flashes of memories of Gabrielle's naked body, but no memory of what she had done. Gabrielle brought her back to the present with a lurch by sliding her hands over arms, then resting on the buttons of Xena's top, asking permission with her eyes. Xena nodded, fascinated by Gabrielle's small fingers carefully unbuttoning the top until she could simply slide it off of her shoulders. Even though Xena had not felt shy in front of Ares, she felt shy in front of this wonderful blonde woman before her.

Gabrielle took her time, fighting her own building urges to divest Xena of her garments in the most agonizingly slow manner possible. She didn't want to rush things, she had to admit that it was a rare feeling of complete control to make Xena wait. When Xena was completely naked, she took Xena's hands and placed them on her top, encouraging her to help Gabrielle out of her clothes. Xena complied, a look of wonder and awe filling her face as she unveiled Gabrielle's body, but too shy to touch. Gabrielle suppressed a mirthful grin as she took Xena by the hand, taking her over to the large bed, pushing her down and slowly lowering her own body on top of her partner's body. They signed in unison as their bodies made contact, then giggled at their sighs. Gabrielle teased Xena with a few nips to the earlobes, then started her way down Xena's body, lavishing extreme attention to all parts on her way to her ultimate goal.

Gabrielle finally finished writing a summary of their adventures together. She still had trouble believing that Xena was dead for real, they had each died several times before settling down in Amphipolis, taking over Cyrene's inn and tavern from her. She reached for her old scroll bag, thinking of the many times she'd stuffed new scrolls in there, the many adventures she had shared with her wife, the love she still felt for Xena. It had been foretold that they would always be together, that they were true soulmates. As she turned the worn out pack over, a folded piece of parchment fell out. Curious, Gabrielle opened it to see what it was. Xena's bold handwriting leapt out at her, starting off   "I'm pretty bad with words" and ending with "What if this life is just a prologue to the rest of our lives?"

"The rest of our lives," Gabrielle read out loud. "Multiple lives? So, how will we meet? Will we know the chakram and cross symbol? Will we always be lovers?" She smoothed the parchment out, lost in memories for a bit before shaking her head to clear the visions. "Beloved, I'm coming soon," she promised as she stuffed the parchment back in her bag. "I'll be coming home to you."

Dr. Melinda Pappas took the ancient pack out of her small collection of "Xenabilia" as Janice had called it. Her lover, Dr. Janice Covington, had managed to rescue some of the items found from being donated to any museums. She missed Janice tremendously, but knew that it was only a matter of time before she joined her partner in the afterlife. At least their nieces were still here, but how much funeral leave did the two women have?

Mel absently fondled the bag, marveling at how well it had held up over thousands of years. She and Janice had argued for years about what the bag actually was, Janice always said that Gabrielle kept stuff like clothes in it, Mel had always argued that it was the right size for the scrolls. "I guess I win for now," Mel said to her dead lover as she opened it. She ran her hand inside, unable to keep from making this small connection to their ancestors. But what was this? She pulled out a folded piece of parchments, forgetting for the moment to pull on cotton gloves, unfolding it and smoothing it out on the table. Bold handwriting leapt out at her, someone pouring out her heart. "Oh my God," Mel breathed when she started translating, "something actually written by Xena!" She started to call for Janice, but caught herself in time. "Sorry honey," she murmured, "if I call for you, Helen and Brigid will think I've lost my marbles!" She looked at the parchment for a moment longer, then remembered her cotton gloves. She glanced at the clock; it was late in the night. Damn, she'd have to wait until morning...

"Aunt Mel?"

Mel smiled. Brigid, lover of Helen, descendent of Gabrielle, would certainly understand. Mel motioned for her to come in, drawling, "Brigid, have you ever seen one of the objects of Janice and mine's? This," she said, tapping the scroll with a cotton covered finger, "is what is known as a Xena scroll. Most of them were written by Gabrielle, bard and one time Amazon queen, companion of Xena, righter of wrongs, seeker of truth." She stroked the scroll lovingly, then motioned for Brigid to sit down in her visitor's chair. "But this one is very special, it appears to have been written by Xena herself." Mel cleared her throat, then started translating on the fly,

I'm pretty bad with words, but I wanted you to know something, if you ever get this scroll.

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