Author: Kat Lee
Dedicated To: With all my love, to my darling, most cherished Drew! I love you, my heart!!!! Happy Birthday!!
Fandom: Xena, Warrior Princess
Word Count: 1,795
Date Written: 10 January 2017
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to their rightful owners, not the author, and are used without permission.
They've fought all day today. They've been at each other's backs for hours, pressed together against the tight, almost overwhelming throng of the enemy. They almost died today, and she knows they would have if not for her love. Xena saved the day again. She saved the world, and she saved their lives. Gabrielle's thankful to her; she can't blame her if, in all that was endured today, one little thing went forgotten.
Xena reaches for her hand. Gabby takes her hand in hers and threads their fingers together. She scoots closer to her on the cool, green grass. The stars are brilliant tonight, reaching as far as they can see. On a better night, she'd create a story about another cluster of stars or perhaps share one of the hundreds she's heard. On a better night, she'd cuddle Xena closer, rest her head on her breast, and go to sleep listening to her warrior's soft breathing and gazing up at the stars.
But tonight, her head still aches from the screams of the day. Her heart is still heavy for all the lives that were lost needlessly before Xena finally managed to stop the war and save what was left of two kingdoms. Her back aches, and she can barely move her writing hand for the dagger that pierced it today.
Xena saved more than her life today. She saved her heart. She stopped the darkness that had consumed two kingdoms from consuming the world. She stopped it from consuming Gabby and saved her writing hand, too. It may take a month, but she'll be writing again sooner rather than never. She'll be writing again and penning another story of how Xena saved millions of souls who will never know her light, the light that shines brightly on this field tonight and which Gabrielle loves so much.
So she can't be angry. She can't feel hurt or let down. Xena's done so much today. She's saved her again. So what if she forgot today is her birthday? With everything that's happened, Gabrielle can't blame her. She'll remember tomorrow. She'll tell her "Happy Birthday" tomorrow and somehow manage to procure some sort of present for her.
She surprises her every year. Why, Gabby wouldn't even be surprised to learn that her present's already with them, nestled deep and securely in one of Argo's saddle bags. She glances at the horse who's quietly nibbling sweet grass and wonders, if she can lure Xena to sleep, what she might find in her bags.
Xena squeezes her hand gently. Gabrielle stirs slightly in surprise. She'd thought her lover was closer to sleep, but the simple gesture makes her think that perhaps Xena has been laying still and awake all this time, contemplating thoughts weighing heavy on her mind. She knows she regrets not being able to stop the war sooner. Where Gabby counts every life saved as a victory, Xena looks at every soul she didn't reach in time and counts the failures.
The hope fades from Gabrielle's face with that thought. Here she is worrying about her birthday and the lack of it being remembered today, and her love is berating herself for not saving more lives than she did. Gabrielle's mouth opens but then closes. She wishes Xena could see the world as she sees it. She wishes she could see how important she is to the world and how every one would have been lost if not for her actions today, but she knows already that no amount of talking can persuade Xena to see how utterly amazing she is.
The whispered words that are accompanied by another squeeze of her hand take Gabrielle by surprise. She turns to look at Xena, but the night frames her face, keeping it from the bard's view. "You remembered," she whispers, surprised.
Xena squeezes her hand. "Of course. I'm sorry I don't have any presents for you today. I had a new dress on order, but the . . . the sewer was killed before she could complete it today."
Gabrielle suddenly feels awful. Xena had remembered her birthday. She'd even had her present planned and almost ready, but the person making her gift had been unable to finish it not because of anything simple, not because she was too busy or didn't have enough funds or material, but because she was killed. Not finishing her present seems the least of the things the poor woman will never get to do.
"I have what she started," Xena continues. "I'll finish it tomorrow."
Gabrielle leans up and gazes down into Xena's beautiful face. She sees the worry in her baby blue eyes as her long, blonde hair falls and sweeps softly against her lover's armor. "You are amazing," she tells her. "You know that right?" She searches her eyes, but she already knows the answer. Xena doesn't see the wonderful qualities she possesses as Gabrielle does. She doesn't even see what others not close to them sees in her.
She smirks at Gabby's question instead of smiling. "I'm glad you think so," she answers curtly and thrusts her fingers up into Gabrielle's hair. "Now come here." She brings her head down and kisses her with more force than she intends.
Gabrielle still wriggles free after a moment. "No," she says, her voice both determined and hushed. "You are. You saved the world today. You saved so many lives. We almost died today, but you saved us all -- "
"Not all," Xena says quietly with a sigh full of sorrow.
"You saved thousands, Xena. Millions. You saved the world."
"You said it yourself. That curse that made the villagers fight as they were would have poured over to the rest of the world if you hadn't stopped it."
"Some one would have stopped it."
"That some one was you."
"But it might not have been. If we hadn't come along, somebody else would have. Hercules or -- "
"Hercules wasn't here today. You were, and you're the one who saved the world. Again."
"Gabby -- " Xena's voice breaks.
"Hush." Gabrielle places a finger to Xena's lips. "You are amazing, Xena, and not just because of all the things you can do that no other person."
"I can't -- " she starts to protest against Gabby's finger.
Gabby presses down harder, silencing her. "Yes, you can, and you do, and you are," she insists. "You risked everything today to save the world, and you do it every time we find somebody in trouble. You give your all to help everybody, to save anybody we find who needs saving. And you do it again and again and again. But somehow, even when you're giving everything you have and risking all you are, to save strangers, you still remember me. You protect me. You'd keep me from battle every time there's an enemy to fight if you could."
"I saw that look in your eyes today when that arrow pierced my hand. I saw how you ripped it out and broke it apart with your bare hands. I saw how you located the one who shot me and tore through that battle to find him, to reach him, to make him pay -- "
"Yeah," Xena interrupts, "and I remember how you pleaded for his life, even after he'd hurt you so badly -- "
"He didn't know what he was doing. He was under Ares' spell."
"But you still pleaded for him. That arrow could have hit your heart, Gabby, and with your dying breath, you would have been begging for me to save people. Don't you know you're the reason I do what I do? You inspire me every moment."
Gabrielle grins. "Then we inspire each other," she tells her, "because I'd never have courage to do half of what we do every day if it wasn't for you. If it wasn't for you, I would have never even left my village -- "
"Yes, you would have eventually. You aren't the settling down type."
"I could settle down with you, but you aren't the settling down type either."
"You're right." Xena entwines their fingers again and holds Gabrielle's hand right above her own heart. "But I am settled. I 'm content to stay with you, Gabby, wherever this life takes us. I could settle down if you wanted to."
"You wouldn't be happy -- "
"Yes, I would as long as I had you, but you wouldn't be. You tell me every day how I'm changing the world, but you're what's changing it. You changed me, and it's for you that I do all I do. I wouldn't bother to be involved in half the fights I am if you didn't want me to right the wrongs we encounter."
"Yes, you would," Gabrielle counters with a knowing grin. "You might not think you would, but you would with or without me."
"Gabby," Xena's emotions strangle her voice, "if it wasn't for you -- "
Gabrielle raises her hand and kisses its back. "I know, Xena. I feel the same way. If it wasn't for you, I wouldn't be here either. I guess I am settled down. It's just not in the way most people think of being settled. I'm settled, because I have you and you are my home. I don't need a present," she suddenly realizes. "I have everything I could ever want right here with you, in you."
Xena beams up at her. "I feel the same way, but you're getting that dress tomorrow."
"And I'll wear it with pride. Especially since you helped make it."
Xena shakes her head. "She would have done a better job."
"Maybe, but I'll still be honored to wear something that's had your hands on it."
Mischief suddenly dances in Xena's blue eyes. "Oh, you do that every day any way."
"I do?" Gabrielle asks, clearly puzzled.
"Uh huh." Xena nods. "You definitely do." She runs a hand through her love's long, blonde hair, cups her hand behind her head, and pulls her back down. "Your skin," she whispers against her lips before kissing her again long, slow, and with enough heat to keep all the villages around them warm all night long and for many nights to come.
Gabrielle kisses her back in full. She should never have worried about her birthday or her present, she knows now. Her birthdays doesn't matter; what really matters is that she spends every day with the woman she loves. And as for presents, she's never spoken truer words except, "I love you," when she told that same remarkable and amazing woman that the best present she'll ever have is having her. She only hopes that they have many more years to share ahead of them, and many more victories, carved by love and Xena's skills as well.