Upon entering the bathing room, Xena closed and locked the door. They didn't need anyone interrupting a chance for them to relax. The room was dark, perhaps to give bathers a sense of privacy and was lit by only a few candles and lanterns. In the center of the room was a steaming tub, large enough for maybe five people. On a shelf off to the side of the room were folded clean towels and several bars of soap. The warrior grabbed a bar and set it on the side of the tub. She then turned to Gabrielle. The little bard looked almost asleep on her feet and Xena knew it was a combination of many things. With a hand on the girls shoulder, she led her to the tub. "Clothes off Gabrielle, and then into the water. You'll feel better once you're in," Xena told her. With a small nod of acknowledgement the blonde made to do as she was told. At the same time Xena too began to remove her armor and leathers. She heard a disturbance of the water and saw her companion seated in the water, head leaned against the back, eyes closed. The warrior removed her last article of clothing and slipped into the water opposite of Gabrielle.
Grabbing the soap bar, Xena quickly lathered up and washed herself, effectively removing the road dirt from several days travel. Once her body was clean, she moved on to her hair. As she rinsed the soap from her dark tresses, she saw Gabrielle looking at her. Smiling at the bard, she passed the soap to her and finished rinsing her hair.
Across the tub, Gabrielle hadn't meant to stare at Xena. She had simply opened her eyes to be caught with the sight of the warrior emerging from the water, the droplets running down her face catching the light from the candles and making her skin glow in the darkness of the room. Seeing this she couldn't seem to look away. Xena was beautiful; everyone knew that and no one could dispute it. But Gabrielle got to see a different type of beauty from her. The beauty of the woman, not the warrior. The woman who held her at night when she got scared, who believed in her no matter what she did, whose gentle touch cared for her wounds, whose smile could brighten a room. It was the same smile she was being given now as Xena passed her the soap. She was kind enough not to comment on having caught her staring and continued with her bath.
Xena sat back to relax in the warm water once she was finished bathing. She looked about the room in curiosity, examining its layout and contents. As she moved her gaze across the tub she caught a wince and a grimace from Gabrielle as she tried to reach up. She called softly to the girl. "Gabrielle, come here." The girl looked at her questioningly but moved all the same. "What Xena?" she asked. The warrior took the soap from her friends hand and gently turned her around. "I saw your face," she said. "I know it hurts to move your arm. Let me wash your hair for you. Just sit there and relax." And as strong but gentle fingers began working through her hair, Gabrielle could do nothing but. A few minutes later the bard felt Xena's hands pushing against her shoulders, lowering her further into the water, then a large hand tilting her head back. The warrior proceeded to rinse the soap from the blonde locks. When the hands left her body, Gabrielle sat up a bit more. She was afraid that if she stayed in that position she would fall asleep so she moved back to lean on the side of the tug again.
The older woman watched her friend, and as much as she wanted to let her stay and soak she knew that she needed to stitch her arm before it got too late. She stood up and stepped out of the tub, grabbing a towel as she did. Wrapping it around her she reached for another and called out to her partner. "Gabrielle," the girl turned, "I wish I could let you stay longer, but I really need to work on your arm before it gets much later. And I promise that as soon as I'm done I'll let you go to sleep." The blonde opened her eyes and stood, taking the towel Xena offered. When she too was wrapped up in the soft towel, Xena walked with her over to the door, unlocked it and led the way back across the hall to their room.
In their room, now chilly due to the burned down fire, they changed into clean nightshifts. Xena stirred up the coals and threw another few logs onto the fire to warm the room. When the fire was burning stronger and the room brighter, she sat Gabrielle down in the chair next to it. The warrior pulled out the supplies she needed and set them on the bed so that they were close by. With a small stick, burning only on one end, she sterilized a needle and then threaded it. She rubbed a small amount of ointment along the length of the thread, then turned her attention to the young blonde. "Gabrielle, I'm going to stitch it up now. It shouldn't feel too bad because of the herbs from earlier, but you will feel little sticks and some pressure, alright?" Gabrielle nodded in agreement. In one last reassurance Xena told her, "I'll be as quick and gentle as I can. I promise." The young woman looked up at her best friend, "I know Xena, it's ok. Just do what you need to."
Xena took the girls arm in her hands and started her work. With the first stick through the skin, she looked up to check on Gabrielle. Her face showed the recognition of what had happened, but the combination of the herbs and the long, tiring day had drained her past truly feeling the pain. The gentle warrior continued, making the fewest number of stitches necessary to get the job done. It only took about 15 minutes to finish and as she placed the needle back in her pouch, Xena heard Gabrielle let out a shuddering sigh. Returning to her friend the dark-haired woman carefully applied a salve to the wound and wrapped it in a bandage.
Gabrielle reached with her good arm to touch Xena's hand, "Thank you Xena." The woman gave a little chuckle, "What for," she asked. "For helping me out, and being so gentle with me," was the reply. Xena pulled the girl up and lead her to the bed. "Don't worry about it Gabrielle. I just want you to be alright. Now get in bed; you need a good nights sleep." As the warrior pulled the covers over the young woman, she was stopped. "Aren't you coming to bed too?" Xena smiled softly at her, "Yes. Give me a moment to put away my things and I'll be right back."
She put everything away and walked back to the bed. Gabrielle watched her as she slid under the blankets. Hesitantly the blonde spoke up, "Xena?" "Hmm…" "Would you hold me? It helps me to sleep, and I'm feeling a little funny from all that stuff you gave me earlier. I really just want to be close you right now." Xena immediately shifted her position and moved to pull her girl into her. "Of course Gabrielle. I'll hold you whenever you want." The younger woman buried herself into the other woman and the two of them quickly fell into a peaceful sleep.