A Peaceful Night's Sleep
By Ceridwyn2

Okay, here goes. This is my first Xena fanfic story. Hope you like it. Comments, criticisms, and virtual chocolate can be sent to me at: E-mail Me

Disclaimer: The characters belong to MCA/Renaissance, but the story is all mine.

It had been three days without having to defend a village from attack, rescue women or children from slavers, Callisto was still in Tartarus, and Joxer had wisely decided to avoid the duo since their last encounter. And Xena could only hope that it would last for more than five minutes longer.

Fortunately, there was a town within a half-day's journey, and maybe they could get some decent sleep. Two nights of bed-rolls by the fire and lousy camp rations, combined with Gabrielle's appetite for food, and lack of action was making Xena anxious and Gabrielle nervous. Though there was no guarantee that either would get a good night's sleep. The previous night, Xena woke three times short of breath and covered in sweat. Nightmares were again taking their toll on the beautiful warrior princess. And when Xena woke, so did Gabrielle - with worry.

The two walked on for nearly two hours, as Gabrielle spun a tale of a battle of Hercules and Iolus. Xena's horse Argo plodded on behind them, carrying their wares. Gabrielle stopped and looked at Xena, who appeared to have a remote stare on her face.

"Xena, are you all right? You look kind of distant."

"Umh?"

"Xena? Are you okay? I'm worried about you. You didn't sleep much last night. I saw you wake a few times. The nightmares have returned, haven't they?"

"They never went away. I'll be fine." She glanced over to a companion, with a slight smile on her face. "You were up all night watching me? No wonder it was so hard to wake you this morning."

"I'm serious, Xena. I still have several dinars left from the last village. Why don't we go into this town, get some food, and get a room at the inn. Perhaps it will do us both some good."

"I hope so, Gabrielle. I hope so." Xena pulled herself up onto her saddle and lent a hand down to Gabrielle. The bard declined as she preferred to walk.

Several hours later, after they had put some food into their stomachs, Gabrielle laid a few dinars down on the desk of the innkeeper, the two women ascended the stairs to one of the rooms. Gabrielle placed her staff against the stone wall and walked over to the window. Below the sill, vines were weaved through the trellis, and she leaned out, then inhaled the wonderful scent from the roses. Beneath them, and further out into the garden, was a lilac tree. Gently, she reached up and pulled the ribbon which held the drapes to cover the window. She pulled off her boots, placed them near her staff, then she unlaced her top and laid it on the small bureau at the side of the bed.

It was then that she noticed Xena, sat against the head of the bed. Xena had brought her knees up against her chest, and her head rested on the crest of her knees, her deep brown hair cascaded around her shoulders and over her arms. Though she was quiet, her body was lightly racked by sobs. Gabrielle reached over to her and placed a gentle hand on her arm, which caused Xena to jerk her head up. Gods, she looked so despondent, Gabrielle thought. Her eyes still had a far-off look; the crystal blue, only slightly marred with watery tears.

She gathered her friend into her arms, and simply held her for the longest time. After a little while, Xena pulled back.

"Thank you." Xena stood silently, divested herself of her chakrum, boots, skirt, breastplate, and top and placed them carefully aside. And just as quietly she returned to the bed, the muscles of her body still taut with strain that had built up over the years. Though she'd been a warrior for many years, Gabrielle thought she was the most beautiful woman she'd ever seen. Gabrielle, too, had removed the rest of her clothing and joined Xena in the bed.

Gabrielle asked Xena to turn over onto her stomach, then she sat astride her and began to massage the muscles of the warrior princess' shoulders and back. She moved with equal pressure using the palms of her hand until she reached Xena's midback, then she lightly fingered a long thin scar which ran perpendicular to the spine. She stopped, and moved her body alongside her companion's. Gently getting Xena to lie on her side, Gabrielle curled herself up against Xena's back, then she wrapped her arms around her friend and lover.

And this night, both women slept soundly, with no nightmares, or disruptions of any kind.

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