It's a slow process I think, one that perhaps we both know too well. This time thought, it's different than all the other times. It's been years since she was a whole person, since she was simply alive. I find it painful to leave her side, but I have no choice at the moment. We are very close to a village abandoned in the night. The storm brought a sea of mud down upon the small enclave, destroying nearly all the homes and shops.
I do manage to find Xena some clothes, though they were made for a man; then I scrounge up the bits of food stuff that hasn't been destroyed. I try to do these things quickly for I can't help but worry that Xena will not be in the cave when I return. I'm plagued with an anxiety that I can't shake.
Xena is sleeping silently when I return; I don't think she even moved while I was gone. I wish there was a way that I could preserve this image of her. Every second I spend gazing at her I feel like I want to cry. My heart and soul were broken and now it feels like each piece is putting itself painfully back together.
The sun is high in the sky and I find I haven't moved for the longest time. The fact that Xena is finally beginning to stir is the only thing that breaks me from my trance. My heart is beating hard against my breast; I'm waiting for this dream to end.
'Stop staring at me.' Her voice is still weak, her body moving slow as she tries to sit up. The fur falls off her shoulders, pooling at her thighs. Scars mark the points on her body where arrows struck; they dot her skin like the spots on a leopard.
'How are you feeling?' My eyes can't stop scanning the bit of skin she's exposed to me.
'I'm feeling.' She winces slightly. 'I feel like I've been brought back from the dead.' She smirks at her own joke. I don't think it's even a little funny.
'Xena, I nearly gave up.' I'm shaking my head at her; I just don't find any of this funny right now. There's been too much pain for far too long. I think I've had this conversation with her a million times now; but have I really? 'We're you really here with me? I wasn't crazy this whole time?'
'I've always been here.' The seriousness returns in her voice. 'They could take my life, but they couldn't take my soul. That belongs to you.' Sometimes she just says the exact perfect thing. My eyes tear again, and I'm beginning to annoy myself.
'You know I haven't cried in such a long time, and now I just can't seem to stop.' I laugh a little, furiously wiping the tears from my cheeks.
'But they're happy right?'
'Yeah.' My nose is running now. God's I'm a mess. 'Jeez Xena; I don't know whether to hug you or to hit you right now.'
'Come here.' She nods her head just slightly. I get up and walk the few steps to where she is sitting among the furs. 'Come on.' She reaches up for my hand, guiding me to sit down in front of her. Despite the paleness of her skin and her weak demeanor, she still has the air of a true warrior. Our fingers intertwine, her hands don't seem to feel as calloused as they used to.
Turning her hand over, my fingers delicately trace the life lines of her palm. I remember the nights when I would massage the tired muscles; each line and crease in her palms became etched into my brain.
I used to push those memories down deep; it was the only way to stay sane. I've been able to see her, and talk to her, but not really touch her. Not like this. This is real. She's not a ghost anymore; she's not a figment of my imagination.
'Xena.' I breath her name out in a long sigh. Her fingers curl around my hand, stopping the flow of memories for a brief moment. But as my head lifts and I look into her eyes, those memories jump around in my brain once again. The chaos they are causing is immense.
'Shhhhhh.' Her hand cups my cheek, and as I lean into it, her thumb gently swipes across my lips. God's. My heart is jumping in my chest; my lungs refuse to suck in air.
'I feel like I'm about to die.' It's hard for me to get the words out. Her other hand comes up, cupping the other cheek as she tries to get me to focus on her eyes. She swallows hard, her breathing becoming just as fast as mine. All of this is happening because of a look, because of a small touch. Because I love her beyond any love ever described. I refuse to dwell in the fact that she was gone; no, at this very moment I want to revel in her body. I want to feel everything.
I find myself surging forward, my lips crushing against hers. Even as the tears slide down my cheeks, I'm forgetting why I'm sad. And as her fingers sink into my skin, I forget for a moment what sadness is. Her tongue touches mine for the first time and this moment is all I can think about.
My hands curl into fists as I grasp her hair; my legs wrapping around her waist. I don't care if she's sore or in any pain; I can't contain the fierceness with which I want to show my love. I take her bottom lip between my teeth, tugging, perhaps a little too hard. Xena only groans in response, her body pushing a little more into mine.
My tongue pushes its way into her mouth and I'm tasting her again for the first time. It makes me hunger for more; makes me desire to make my body and my soul merge with hers. My lips are becoming bruised with each kiss, but I can't stop.
My hands begin to dance across her body; remapping skin I once knew so well. Despite the scars, she still feels exotic under my touch. Her body still responds like she was made specifically for me; to be manipulated only by my hands.
Finally a migration begins. Her lips move down my neck; teeth grazing my skin, making me gasp. My clothes are removed in a frenzy of movement and thrown to the side. Her eyes sparkle as they dance across my newly exposed body. She needs me as much as I need her; I can't begin to imagine what's going through her mind.
Her hands rake up my sides as her lips and tongue tease my breasts. My emotions are quickly beginning to overwhelm me. As I bring her lips to mine, I can feel the sobs building up inside me; and incredible pain seems to be etching itself across my heart. I'm beginning to feel strangled by my own grief; grief I thought I had buried so well long ago.
Xena senses this change in me, but I refuse to give in to my pain. I can taste the salt of my tears on her lips as my tongue dances across them. With each breath she manages to gasp, she is saying my name; asking a thousand questions with just one word.
I just want to be a part of her, to feel the heat of her body surrounding my fingers. It takes very little time for my hand to drop and find my way inside. She lets out a startled gasp, her body constricting momentarily with shock. I feel desperate to show her how much I need her right now, so my fingers move in a hard rapid pace in and out.
My head falls to her shoulder as I cry and groan and let everything go.