Disclaimer: Xena, Gabrielle and all the other Xena characters are property of MCA and company, I'm just playing in their sandbox for awhile.

*This story takes place sometime during the third season.

The Waterfall

From a top the cliff water rushes forth with unbridled fury. Freed from its earthly confines it cascades down the face of the sheer rock wall. Indifferent to the dizzying dive sunlight and water intertwine sharing an intimate dance known only to them. Their coupling produces delicate rainbows, which appear randomly up and down the rocky wall. Reaching the end of its elegant descent the free falling water crashes into the calmer waters below with a deafening roar. Having returned to the slower moving waters of the river it reluctantly reins in its awe-inspiring power. Beginning it patience wait for the next cliff so it might dance with the sun once more. It is so beautiful, yet at the same time so deadly.

'Just like Xena.' I chuckle softly to myself. It's not often I get to compare my best friend to a waterfall. 'Wonder what she would compare me too?' I shake the thought from my head. Knowing the Warrior Princess's sense of humor, that might be a question best left unanswered.

Taking a deep breath, I close my eyes trying to absorb all the gifts offered by this small piece of paradise. From the surrounding forest birds sing soft, sweet notes, which mingle with the buzzing of insect wings and the croaking of nearby frogs. Together with the steady roar of the mighty waterfall they form an earthly orchestra unrivaled by the hand of man. Recently bloomed flowers fill the air with wondrous fragrances the likes of which perfume merchants can only dream of capturing. The water even smells cool, clear and inviting.

Opening my eyes I search out the hidden treasures, savoring each one. It's all so enchanting. The waterfall, the crystal clear waters of the river, the luscious green forest, even the sheer cliff wall is lovely with it's interwoven rocks of brown and gray, each working together perfectly.

Even the large flat boulder lying beneath me seems to have been hand placed there by the Gods. Gently sloping into the river it makes a natural plank into the slow moving waters. An old log serves as a perfect backrest as I revel in this natural wonderland.

Glancing at the scroll resting upon my lap, a sigh of frustration darkens my good mood. For two days now the blank parchment has begged to be filled. Several tales have risen to the surface of my thoughts. Yet each time I attempt to form the thoughts into written words they escape me. Most of the time being a bard is exciting and fulfilling, but other times it can be a royal pain in the butt. This is one of those times.

Unable to fill the waiting scroll I allow my mind to drift, pondering the events which lead to this self imposed vacation. When Xena suggested we stop and make camp this morning I really thought she was teasing. She never wants to stop so early in the day, it just not in her nature to sit still. Yet here we are. 'Well why not?' We've certainly earned a little rest and relaxation. Swimming around the small river had been relaxing and Xena seems pleased with the fishing. Sitting here now watching the clouds drift by I can't think of anywhere else I'd rather be.

Eyeing the waiting scroll I consider writing about our latest adventure. Though truth be told there isn't much to tell. Disbanding a group of local slave traders had taken little more than Xena bloodying the leader's nose. With their leader defeated the others had run for the hills. Not much of a tale but it still might make for a good short story. Shrugging I lift the quill preparing to scribble out the events of the last few days.

Movement near the waterfall catches my attention. My jaw drops in disbelief as I realize the bronze figure steadily working it's way up the wall is Xena. 'What is that crazy warrior doing?' The thought of her even considering such a climb astounds me. But I cringe at the realization she is climbing those sharp rocks with no clothing or boots to protect tender skin. Though if the warrior feels any pain it is not obvious, for she scales the sheer cliff with amazing speed. Her arms and legs are in constant motion finding each foot and handhold as if she had used it a dozen times before.

As she climbs onto a small ledge I realize she is more than halfway to the top. Just looking up the face of the monstrous bluff makes me dizzy. 'Wonder if she can get down as fast as she went up?' In answer to my question she steps to the edge studying the water below.

"No," I gasp aloud, rising to my knees. "she wouldn't." Raising her arms out to the side like a giant bird preparing for flight, I know she is going too. Praying I'm wrong I still can't help but wonder at her confidence as she prepares for the dive.

Standing tall and proud, sunlight glistens off her reminding me of a bronze statue. Then her body dips slightly and powerful legs lift her up and off the ledge. With arms spread wide and head thrown back, she soars skyward. Looking like a majestic bird I could almost believe she's learned to fly. Reaching the height of the leap she seems to hover for a moment adding to the illusion of flight. Then nature begins to pull her earthbound once more. With the change in direction her powerful body turns in a series of twists and rolls. Just when I'm certain she will crash painfully into the water, her long body stretches out to it's fullest. Entering the water as straight as an arrow, a small ripple is the only evidence of her presence.

Watching her disappear beneath the surface I realize I've been holding my breath. Slowly releasing the breath I ease back to rest against the log. Staring down at the still blank, now slightly crinkled scroll I realize I have forgotten what I was going to write. Straining for some thread of the lost tale I know it has escaped me.

Water droplets spatter on the clear parchment waking me from my thoughts.

"What's wrong, run out of things to write?" teases a velvet voice from above me.

Looking up I find Xena smiling broadly. Water runs along the valleys of her well-defined muscles to gather in a small puddle at her feet. The slowly spreading puddle creeps toward my dry perch.

"You're getting my scroll wet." I scowled teasingly.

"Oh, really." she coos. From the playful glint in those sky blue eyes I know I'm not going to like what is about to happen.

With a mock battle cry she leans forward shaking her head violently. Long black tassels send a shower of water down upon me.

Trying to shield the precious parchment with my body, I'm finally forced to surrender to the attack. "Enough! Enough!" I plead begging for a truce.

As the water assault ends joyful laughter fills the evening air. Though I'm thoroughly soaked and the scroll has barely survived, it is hard to be angry with her. Xena rarely let's herself relax so completely and being one of the few witnesses to it is something I cherish.

Feeling victorious she moves to a smooth, sunny spot on the boulder. Lowering her large form to the ground she stretches out face down, folding callused hands beneath her head as a pillow.

Watching her settle down for an evening nap I'm touched by her trust in me. Staring at her bareback I realize she is completely at ease with me watching over her. Even after all we've been through she still trusts me with her life, just as I trust her with mine.

As her breathing becomes more rhythmic I know she is asleep. Complete trust. But isn't that what love is, complete and unconditional trust? Staring down at the blank parchment all thoughts of other stories are gone. Another is taking shape in my mind and I know this one won't fade away. Placing the quill to paper I allow the words to take form.

From a top the cliff water rushes forth with unbridled fury. Freed from its earthly confines it cascades...

The End

-------- Onora

Hope you enjoyed the journey.

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