Welcome to the home of - A Present from Xena
Teresa M Shafer - For books that kindle thought and ignite the imagination!
A Present from Xena 

The party ran down as all parties do and Gabrielle finally felt as if she had done all that was required of her as a hostess. That’s when Xena led her away into the dark. Gabrielle could not see if they moved in any particular direction… only away from everyone else. Xena wrapped her up in a warm coat and handed her a pair of warm sweat pants that she had apparently stashed along with a backpack full of who knew what. 

“Xena, where are we going?” It was clear that they weren’t going to sleep in the park. 

“Trust me.” It was all she would say. She looked around to make certain that no-one was near and she whistled loud and clear and then she waited. 

A short time later, Gabrielle heard something that sounded like the beating of huge wings. It was a sound that was familiar but impossible. She had not heard that particular sound in a thousand years and more. But she scanned the skies anyway… hoping to see the impossible… and she did. There just above the horizon was a shape. It grew bigger with each beat of its mighty wings. Gabrielle could scarce believe what she was seeing. It was a Pegasus and not just any Pegasus it was a Valkyrie Pegasus. That was when she remembered that many 
of the Valkyrie had come to Mars to bring the scrolls and other items that she had left with Odin. She had assumed that they had gone home… she was apparently in error.

The Pegasus landed and walked over to them. Gabrielle reached up to pet his nose while Xena secured her pack on the back of his saddle. “You can still call them?” She said in wonder.

Xena finished strapping the pack down and turned to Gabrielle with a smile on her face. “We both can. We were both Valkyrie at one time and even though we are no longer we did not leave on bad terms… well I did but Odin forgave me when I had mercy on Aphrodite and Ares. Anyway, we retain some of the gifts that Odin bestowed on us when we served him as Valkyrie.” She mounted the steed.

“And one of them is the right to ride the Pegasus.” Gabrielle was very pleased. She went to get up on back behind Xena but Xena pulled her onto the saddle in front of her.

Xena slipped Gabrielle’s shoes from her feet and tossed them into the grass. “It’s warm where we’re going. If your feet get cold on the way pull the pants down over them… and I hate those shoes almost as much as you do.” She took the reins and clucked to the stallion. He ran for several strides and then took to the air. Gabrielle had forgotten the thrill of taking off on the back of one of these strong and mighty animals.

The wind caught her hair and pulled it from her face. She took a secure hold of the saddle horn and leaned her head back against Xena’s shoulder, closed her eyes and let the cool dry air of Mars chill her face. She was in heaven… a different kind of heaven but heaven all the same.

Xena could feel Gabrielle’s pleasure and contentment. She knew that this would help ease her troubled soul even if it was for a short time. This was not even part of her actual gift but Xena knew that it would be a welcome addition.

They rode for the better part of an hour. Both women enjoyed just riding and holding on to each other. Neither spoke much; they had passed the need for verbal speech with each other a very long time ago. So they rode in almost total silence. Occasionally one of them would giggle or ooh or ahh at the spectacular landscape.

The hand that Gabrielle had wrapped around the saddle horn had gone a bit numb from the cold air when Xena pointed the animal towards the side of a good sized mountain. He landed with grace and trotted to a stop. He wasn’t even winded. Xena slid from his back and told Gabrielle to stay where she was at. Gabrielle lost Xena in the dark but soon a torch lit up the night a dozen feet to her right. Xena was standing beside a cave entrance. She beckoned Gabrielle to retrieve their pack and join her.

Together they walked into the cave and were instantly warmed. The air inside the cave was much warmer than outside. Xena poked her head outside and thanked the Pegasus by giving him a treat and dismissed him. When she rejoined Gabrielle she found her partner looking up at the stars from a hole in the ceiling. It wasn’t a hole really or rather it was a hole but it was covered with a huge crystal much like a hole in a house wall is called a window when glass covers the opening. This was a really big window. Xena took the pack from Gabrielle and began to set up a camp under it. She was half done when Gabrielle noticed what she was doing and tried to help her.

“No, this is your birthday so you go look at the stars or go explore the cave. Go on…” Xena was quite insistent so Gabrielle lit another torch and wandered back further into the cave.

She found a nice natural hot spring swimming hole that had a waterfall at one end and a stream coming off of it at the other. She dipped her foot into the water and shivered as the warmth of the water took the chill from her toes.

Off to one side of the swimming hole she found a shelf with a wide selection of cleansing soaps for the body and hair and another shelf with body oils and other similar items and yet a third and fourth shelf with a wide array of towels and sponges. She smiled when she realized where Xena had brought her.

She heard the solid but near silent footsteps of her soul mate coming up behind her. “So you’ve brought me to the Valkyrie’s little mountain bungalow have you?” Gabrielle put the torch in a sconce and turned around. Xena put a glass of wine in her hand.

“Are you complaining?” She asked and took a sip of wine from her own glass.

Gabrielle took a sip of her wine, tasting it and having decided that she liked it she took a healthy swallow. “Mmmm, not at all, this is really nice.” She said while looking around a little more.

“Really, you like it then?” Despite everything Xena had been a little concerned.

Gabrielle’s response was delayed as she had spotted something else that was a little out of place in the quaint cave and had stepped towards it. She flicked a switch on the wall and soft lights came on in the pool and along its edge. Gabrielle broke out in a smile. “Oh, I really like it a lot Xena.” She finished her wine and turned back to Xena. “This is wonderful, honey.” She was beaming.

Xena hadn’t seen a smile like that on her beloved in a while. It was heart stopping. She held out her hand. “C’mon, let’s get you some more wine. I have meats and cheeses and some bread… and some other stuff you might like… if you’re hungry. If you’re not hungry we can always slip into the pond or I can give you a massage or we can stare at the stars… whatever you want to do love, this is all for you tonight.”

Gabrielle chose the pond first. They relaxed in the water for a while then they took to washing each other and things turned sensual. They were prunes when they finally climbed out.

The air, as warm as it was felt cool against their steaming skin. They rushed to their blankets and crawled under them quickly. The cave bungalow had a stash of thick mattresses stashed in a cupboard. The mattresses were just thin enough to roll up and just thick enough to be really comfortable. Her bungalow bed was comfortable and Gabrielle was really enjoying herself.

“Get warmed up dear, because I grabbed some entertainment before we left the other room.” She said teasingly and held up a bottle of flavored body oil.

Xena saw the oil and smiled devilishly. “Where do you want me to rub it… back or front?”

Now Gabrielle had the devilish look. “Yes” She raised a single eyebrow.

Xena growled deep in her chest.

A few hours later they were back in the pool, this time washing in earnest to get the residue of the sticky oil off of the tops of their heads and other innocuous places. Xena finished first and departed the hot water to flip the mattress and change the blankets out. She also brought Gabrielle a blanket to wrap in so she didn’t have to run across the cave when she was done with her bath.

Sometime later they were once again back under the warm covers. They both lay on their backs looking up at the stars and snacking on what Xena had brought for them and drinking more wine.

“The stars are the same they’re just in the wrong places… kind of.” Gabrielle was commenting.

“Earth looks like a star from here and I can barely see Venus.” Xena was making short work of the sliced roast that she had brought and a good portion of the bread whereas Gabrielle was more interested in the fruit and cheese… and the wine.

“Yeah and I can almost make out the rings of Saturn… God, it is beautiful here Xena.”

Xena leaned up on an elbow and looked over at Gabrielle while she looked at the sky. “Yes it is dear.”

Gabrielle noticed the change in her voice and looked over at her. She was a bit surprised that she had missed it when Xena moved. But as she thought about it she realized that shouldn’t be that surprised. She and Xena had been sleeping beside each other for a very long time… except for that strange seven hundred year gap they had not left each other’s side for close to three thousand years or more. There was absolutely nobody that she trusted more or that she relied upon more. That’s why she hadn’t registered Xena moving… she was used to her moving around in their bed and as long as she didn’t leave it Gabrielle trusted her to do anything. No-one else would ever get this close to her… not without her permission. The thought left a door open that invited darker thoughts and nightmares.

Xena watched Gabrielle think through whatever was on her mind. “What is it dear?”

Her lover’s voice shattered the nightmare that had been forming in her mind. “Xena I don’t understand. I cleansed myself. I was clean and free of this… this thing. So what is wrong with me?”

Xena scooted over to Gabrielle and put her hand on her stomach. Xena wasn’t really sure what was wrong but maybe if she ran through the events as she saw them maybe between them they would figure it out. “Sweetie, you cleansed your body… a body that hadn’t been violated. You came to terms with and accepted the emotions that you had blocked out. You accepted them and felt them and then washed them away. But you can’t wash away the fear until you retrieve the body that felt the pain. You have to go back to that room and take that body out. You have to free it from the torment.” It sounded good but it didn’t really sound right. “I think you’re kind of feeling guilty that your mind escaped but your body had to endure it all… and then you left it there.”

“I left it to rot… alone in a cold dark hole with all the ghosts of the men that had tormented it… tormented me.” She emptied the glass that she had been holding. “I left Hope to have her soul rotted out by her father… then I poisoned her…” She couldn’t finish the thought.

Xena pulled her close. There were no words that she could say. Gabrielle may never forgive herself for what she had done to her eldest daughter. But if there was a way Xena prayed silently that the God that they served would find it. “It was more than just a body that you used for a time. This was Hope’s body. That’s what has you by the throat… your guilt… not your fear.” Xena finally had it figured out.  

Gabrielle looked up at her. There were tears in her eyes that were running down into her ears. “Help me.”

“Oh Gabrielle, of course I will help you. It’s already started, soon we’ll be back on Uranus. We’ll retrieve the bodies and give them a proper burial. Then we’ll train and when we’re ready we’ll confront and defeat Alti…” The rest need not be spoken, at least not yet. They could decide what they wanted to do afterwards when it really was afterwards. There was no sense in counting your chickens before they were hatched.

Gabrielle nodded and then smiled and shook her head. “I really know how to throw a cold blanket on a hot date don’t I?”

“Oh, I think that I can fix that.” She slid her hand down Gabrielle’s stomach and leaned down and kissed her deeply. Gabrielle happily responded by pulling Xena’s head down closer and by throwing her leg up over Xena’s leading hip.

When she came up for air Xena reached over their heads and pulled another strawberry from the bowl and ran it down Gabrielle’s nose, across her lips and down her chin to her breasts. She then gently cradled the strawberry in her teeth and leaned down for Gabrielle to pluck it out with her own teeth. But when Gabrielle tried Xena pulled away. She did this several times before Gabrielle pushed Xena back onto her back. They were both giggling. “Fine woman, this means that I get to be on top this time!” She said triumphantly and she quickly took a bite of the strawberry and watched as the other half dropped into Xena’s mouth. They didn’t wait to finish chewing their respective halves before they were kissing again.

Xena hadn’t lied… she effectively put the warmth back into the date.