Winner of an Amazon Ice Award
Xena: Warrior Princess, Gabrielle, Ephiny and all other character who have appeared in the syndicated series are the sole copyright property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement was intended in the writing of this fan fiction. Copies of this story may be made for private use only and must include all disclaimers and copyright notices.
LOVE/SEX WARNING DISCLAIMER:
This story graphically depicts a love/sexual relationship between two consenting women. If you are under 18 years of age or if this type of story is illegal where you live, please do not read it.
As far as Xena goes, the violence is minimal. No lives were lost. There is some emotional violence, but not to the extent that any of the characters needed to seek out psychiatric counseling.
This is my first attempt at fan fiction. The plot is sparse at best. It's basically another 'first time' love story. (What can I say. I'm a sucker for these.) The story is a blatant tease with a bit of a wicked twist. (Hey, half the fun is getting there.)
Having no writing experience, I was extremely reluctant to post this. My partner, and infinitely patient proof reader encouraged me until I relented. Let me know what you think. I welcome comments or constructive criticism at email@example.com. Please refrain from sending homophobic comments. They will be ignored. For those adventurous enough to continue, thanks.
You can find more stories by Friction at Mary D's The Bard's Corner
Gabrielle could not remember when she felt so relaxed or happy and although Xena had reluctantly agreed to this short visit with the Amazons, it seemed to be benefiting her as well. Over the past few days, the bard had noticed a change in the warrior's behavior. Her posture was more comfortable. All outward signs of tension were gone.
The bard thought about how difficult the past months had been for her friend. Circumstances had necessitated that Xena be in a state of constant readiness. In an attempt to stay focused on the problems at hand, the warrior distanced herself from the bard, acting even more detached and aloof than usual. Their friendship had suffered as a result. Now, in this peaceful village, their interactions with each other seemed less strained. Things were definitely better.
It was wonderful to look into her friend's eyes and not see the edgy tension she had come to expect. In fact, she found it wonderful to gaze into those blue eyes regardless of their condition. As she sat watching the dark-haired warrior spar, she knew she could be content looking at nothing but Xena her entire life.
Ephiny took in the scene from a discrete distance, smiling lightly. A line of eager Amazons waited patiently to take their turn sparring against Xena. She was an excellent instructor. Regardless of the physical cost, the young women were eager to benefit from her vast experience. The lessons they learned made the soreness and bruising worthwhile.
The Regent caught sight of Gabrielle in her peripheral vision. There was a warm glow in the bard's expression as she watched her companion patiently train student after student. Indeed, Xena was spectacular to observe. On occasion, Ephiny couldn't resist gazing upon the magnificent warrior herself. But for Gabrielle it was obviously more than a physical attraction. The affection in the bard's eyes spoke volumes.
It amazed Ephiny that Xena didn't seem to notice. Maybe she attributed it to hero worship and casually dismissed it. Oddly, the warrior was one of the few who still regarded Gabrielle as young and naïve. The majority of Amazons viewed the Queen as mature and capable. She had proven herself time and time again. It made the Regent wonder if Xena had reasons for needing to retain her slanted view when it came to the bard.
Ephiny took a seat beside Gabrielle. "She seems more at ease than when you first arrived."
The young woman smiled and nodded. "We both needed a break." She focused her attention back on her companion. The look on her face made Ephiny suddenly envious of Xena.
A small crowd had gathered around the practice range, all eyes intent on the warrior. "We should have sold tickets," Ephiny said wryly.
"Yeah, and I would have been first in line. I never tire of watching her." Gabrielle spoke with sincerity. "I love the way she moves." A lovely blush rose to the bard's cheeks. "I mean… she's so graceful."
Ephiny gave her a knowing smile. "Let's go for a walk."
"Okay," The bard reluctantly shifted her gaze from the warrior as the Regent pulled her to her feet.
Xena glanced up from the action as the young woman straightened her skirt. Catching her eye, Gabrielle called to her. "I'll see you at lunch time."
The warrior nodded, without missing a beat, she knocked her opponent on her butt.
The two women walked a secluded forest path. The bard, generally awkward with silence, spoke first. "So, was there something you wanted to talk to me about?"
The Regent hesitated, wondering if she should mind her own business. "Gabrielle, we have known each other for quite a while. I consider you a close friend."
The young Queen turned to face Ephiny and lightly touched her arm. "Thanks. I consider you a good friend too, to both Xena and myself. Is there something I can help you with?"
"No, it's... well... I don't want to pry."
Gabrielle smiled nervously. "What is it? You can ask me anything. I'm not sure I'll have the answer, but I'll try."
Ephiny tried to think of an easy segue to the subject and failed. She decided to come right to the point. "How long have you been in love with her?"
"What?" It was the last question the bard expected.
The Regent repeated her question. "How long have you been in love with Xena?"
Gabrielle blushed profusely and turned away. For a fleeting moment she considered denying it. "I... I... is it really that obvious?"
Ephiny laid a gentle hand on her shoulder and shifted to face her. "I don't think she knows, if that's what you mean. But, I'm sure I'm not the only one here who has picked up on it."
"I guess I have become a little careless. We spend so much time alone... I didn't think how it might look to other people. I never thought any one else would notice. Gods, how embarrassing." Gabrielle groaned and sat on a log, covering her face with her hands.
The Regent sat beside her. "It's nothing to be embarrassed about. I'm just a little worried about you. I... I don't want to see you unhappy. I know it's none of my business."
The bard looked up and shrugged. "I appreciate your concern. It's kind of a relief to be able to talk to someone about it." She folded her hands in her lap to keep them from shaking. "It's something I have learned to live with. But lately, it's been more difficult. My feelings seem so much stronger, closer to the surface. I've just got to learn to deal with it. What else can I do?"
Ephiny took her hand. "You could tell her how you feel. I've always thought it best to be honest with the people you care about."
"No, I couldn't." Gabrielle insisted. "She doesn't have those kinds of feelings for me."
"Are you sure?"
"I watch her pretty closely, I think I would know if she felt anything. I... I don't even know if she has ever been with... or is even attracted to women in that way." Gabrielle picked nervously at a loose piece of bark.
"I think it's fairly safe to assume that she has... and is. There are a lot of stories... I mean I don't think lack of experience is a problem for Xena." Ephiny smiled, trying to be as tactful as possible.
"Great, I guess it's just me she's not interested in," Gabrielle said with a weak smile.
"You will never know unless you talk to her."
"It's too risky. What if she's offended, or so uncomfortable that she doesn't want to be around me anymore? Ephiny, it would kill me. I need her in my life, even if we're only friends. I... her friendship is everything to me."
"There is risk in silence, too. If she thinks she doesn't have a chance with you, it might leave her open to meet someone else. If she doesn't know how you truly feel... then there is no chance."
"Don't think I don't live in dread of that. Although for some time, she hasn't shown an interest in anyone in that way. She's been working so hard, keeping herself so busy helping other people that she hasn't had time for anything else."
"Did you ever think that's not accidental? That she keeps herself busy so she won't be tempted?"
"Tempted by what?"
"Maybe having you by her side… is the temptation."
"What, me? No, I can't believe it. She has never shown any indication..."
"Xena is very good at hiding her feelings. Are you sure you haven't missed something? It's quite obvious to everyone that she cares about you very much. Maybe more than you know."
"Ephiny, I can't.... There's more... I mean... I wouldn't know what to do." Her face felt very hot. "I've never been with anyone."
"Well, you were married, that's a start."
Gabrielle looked down at her boots and rubbed her forehead with her hand. She spoke softly, unable to look up. "We never... it was a long day and I had a lot to drink. I think I was running away from the feelings I had for Xena. The wedding was a terrible mistake. Anyway, I never... I don't have any experience."
"I have found that experimenting... getting to know your partner is half the fun," Ephiny said, attempting to cheer her friend.
"Yeah, but sometimes I wonder if the reason Xena doesn't notice me is because I'm so naïve about these things."
Gabrielle hesitated, feeling awkward. "There has never been anyone I felt I could talk to about being with a... a woman."
The Regent smiled in understanding. "It just so happens you're in the right place, we have the best information around on that topic. Let's walk back to my hut. I have some scrolls I think you might find quite helpful."
The young woman beamed. "Thanks, Ephiny, this means a lot to me."
Gabrielle was so immersed in her reading that she lost all track of time. She never heard Xena enter.
"Hey, I thought we were going to have lunch?"
The bard jumped, letting the scroll roll closed. "Ah, sorry I was so wrapped up in my reading that I forgot." She couldn't bring herself to look the warrior in the eye.
"Must be some story to make you forget about your stomach." Xena smiled and walked toward her.
She got up quickly. "Now that you mention it, I am pretty hungry."
"Now, that's the Gabrielle I know." She laughed and put her arm around her friend's shoulder as they headed out of the hut toward the dining area. "So, what story were you reading that was so fascinating?"
"Well, it wasn't a story, exactly." Gabrielle tried to keep the nervousness she felt from finding its way to her voice. "They're kind of educational scrolls. I'm trying to learn more about... the Amazon culture, so I can... so I can have a more thorough understanding of what they like. I mean what they are like."
"Sounds like pretty dry reading to me."
"Hmmm." Gabrielle decided it was best not to comment further. Instead she began piling her plate high with food. "So how did the sparring go?"
Xena smiled at the size of her friend's portions. "It was a good workout. I enjoy teaching them. They're so quick to pick things up." She made her way to a private table.
"That's a reflection on your teaching ability," Gabrielle stated proudly as she envisioned the warrior enthusiastically working with each student. Suddenly, the thought of Xena interacting with all those beautiful women made her a little edgy. "Anybody stand apart from the crowd?"
"Nah, you're still my best pupil."
"Really?" She could not suppress the smile that lit up her face. Compliments from her friend were few and far between, so they always meant a lot.
"You've gotten quite good, in a short time. You could easily handle most of the women I worked with today and they weren't at all bad."
"Maybe you could help me give a demonstration tomorrow morning."
"Sure." Gabrielle felt truly happy and attacked her meal with relish.
Xena silently laughed and shook her head. She had never seen anyone enjoy food as much as her friend. "After lunch, I promised to take a watch on the southern perimeter."
She thought briefly of asking to go along but hesitated, remembering Xena's need for solitude. "I'll see you later then."
Xena smiled in appreciation.
Gabrielle filled her in on the village gossip while they finished their meal. When it was time for Xena to leave, her eyes followed the warrior until she was out of sight.
The bard spent the rest of the day reading. Some scrolls were strictly educational while many others were erotic lesbian love stories with rather graphic descriptions. Deep inside, they struck a cord, making feelings surface that she had not known existed. Over the past few months something had awakened in her… something wonderful.
Gabrielle had never thought of herself as a lesbian. Those things were not spoken of in her small village where she had been regarded as a misfit. The interest she had shown an interest in boys was out of a need to fit in... out of a curiosity to discover what all the fuss was about. There had never been any true attraction.
At last, the pieces were coming together for her. As she read these stories and visualized Xena and herself, she began to understand for the first time what the fuss was about. Since she had no past experience, she had always viewed her attraction to Xena in the abstract. Now her mind was running rampant with fantasies of how things could be between them. She was aroused in a way she had never dreamed possible and acutely aware of new and powerful feelings.
Clearing her head of images of the warrior, she put the scrolls neatly on the shelves and headed for her hut and a nice hot bath. She was so engrossed in her thoughts, that the sound of Xena's voice startled her.
"Didn't you hear me? I called to you several times." The warrior said in frustration.
"Ah, sorry I was lost in my thoughts. I'm kind of tired."
"Must be all that reading," Xena smirked.
Gabrielle turned her head to hide the flush she felt rise to her cheeks. "Well, I'm going to take a hot bath. I'll see you later." She wondered suddenly if it should be a cold bath.
"Hey, you mind sharing? Not all the accommodations here come with hot baths. I think they reserve that honor for the Queen."
Gabrielle's breath caught and her heart hammered loudly in her chest. Surely Xena could hear it pounding. Fear raced through her as she tries to imagine how she would conceal her feelings from the warrior if they shared a bath.
Xena looked at her with a sly smile. "So what do you say?"
"Ah, sure." Gabrielle said meekly, strangling the words from her throat.
"Great," Xena tapped her on the back. "You go first. Come and get me when you're done."
Gabrielle released a breath she didn't realize she'd been holding. She wasn't sure if she was disappointed or relieved.
Back in her hut, she washed quickly, then allowed herself to lounge decadently in the water. It was a luxury she rarely experienced. She laid back in the tub, letting the penetrating warmth soothe her and thought back to the scrolls she had reviewed earlier. The bard longed to experience what she had read. Inquisitively, she place her hand between her legs and gently parted her lips. Her fingers slowly glided through the moisture she found there, so slick and creamy that the water surrounding her felt like warm air in comparison.
The bard closed her eyes as she moved her fingers over her sex. A moan escaped her lips as her body began to respond. Wondrous sensations rippled through her. She envisioned Xena and tried to imagine that it was the warrior touching her. An incredible tension grew deep inside. Her excitement escalated. She quickened her movements, then slowed, remembering what she had read about the benefits of allowing the pleasure to build. It was delicious. If only….
Gabrielle visualized the endless blue of the warrior's eyes. She imagined Xena bending to kiss her. Suddenly, she was exploding in a world of sensation. Her body spasmed as she felt herself falling, floating. The sweetest exhaustion swept over her, unlike any she had never known. She felt herself drifting to sleep. The world slipped away and it was just she and Xena.
A loud knock at the door startled her awake.
"Gabrielle, aren't you done yet?"
"Yeah, I just ..." She climbed out of the tub and wrapped herself in a towel, quickly trying to collect herself. "I'm done. Come in."
Xena wore only a simple shift and the young woman tried not to stare. She could see the outline of the warrior's breast through the thin material. She fought to tear her eyes away and glanced up quickly to see if Xena had noticed her attentions. Luckily, the warrior was oblivious.
In a motion so fluid and uninhibited that it startled Gabrielle, she discarded the shift and stepped into the water. "Mmm, it's still warm."
The warrior's naked body was a rare sight for the bard. She took a deep breath and struggled for control.
"So tell me what have you learned about Amazon culture." Xena asked casually as she began washing herself.
Gabrielle's mind went blank. "Uhhh...... just the usual stuff."
The water level was substantially lower on Xena's taller form, leaving her breasts partially exposed. They rested sensually on the water's surface. Gabrielle swallowed hard. A shiver ran down her spine.
"You had better dry off and get something on or you're liable to catch cold." Xena's voice brought her back and she quickly toweled off and put on her shift. The warrior looked at her with a concerned expression. "Is everything okay? You seem a little quiet tonight."
Her mind raced. Oh, everything's terrific. I just experienced my first orgasm. Wish you could have been there, but you were the focus of my fantasy. "Yes, I'm fine, just a little tired. How was guard duty?"
"All's quiet. But I did have an interesting experience. I was crouched by a tree when I saw a deer approaching… a white deer. She was beautiful, Gabrielle. I wish you had been there to see her."
"Me too, I've never seen an albino deer before."
"As soon as I saw her, I thought of you. I knew you would appreciate her beauty, her uniqueness."
Gabrielle brightened. The idea of the warrior thinking about her as she stood guard alone in the woods pleased her. "Xena, could we walk in the woods tomorrow? Maybe we will run across her."
"Sure. Now, how about scrubbing my back?" She tossed a soapy cloth in her friend's direction.
Gabrielle managed to catch it but soap suds sprayed her face when it collided with her open palms. "Hey!" She complained. "Ouch! I've got soap in my eye."
"I'm sorry , I got a little over zealous. Come here." Xena cupped her hand into the clean bucket of water beside the tub. She stood and cradled her other hand behind the bard's neck. "Tilt your head back." Gently, she rinsed the eye. "There. Is that better?"
Gabrielle opened her eyes and gradually focused on the woman before her. Xena stood, rivulets of water cascading down her bronzed skin. She was magnificent. The bard cleared her throat to answer. "Yeah, now turn around so I can get your back." Free from Xena's scrutiny, she allowed herself a moment to take in the sight of her extraordinary companion. She could feel the taut muscles of her back through the cloth and rubbed slowly, gently, reveling in the task.
"Come on, I can't be that dirty," the warrior quipped. Gabrielle smiled mischievously and stopped, allowing her friend to drop down to rinse. Suddenly, she slid both hands up to Xena's shoulders as if she were going to continue scrubbing and forcefully pushed her under. The warrior surfaced immediately.
Not sure which one of them was more surprised, Gabrielle smiled broadly. "Actually, your hair needed washing too." Instinctively she knew she was in trouble and took a quick step back. Xena caught her by the wrist. In a movement too fast to follow, she pulled Gabrielle toward her and dumped her into the bath.
They splashed each other playfully until there was almost more water on the floor than in the tub. The sounds of their laughter echoed through the room. "I got you. Didn't I?" Gabrielle said triumphantly.
Xena climbed out of the tub and wrapped herself in a dry towel. She looked at Gabrielle curiously. "Yes you did, my bard." She grabbed her shift and headed out the door. "I'll see you at the training field bright and early."
Gabrielle stood in the now cool water dripping wet, with a smile on her face. My bard she thought. I like that. I like that a lot.
Having tried more of her newly acquired skills alone in bed late into the night, Gabrielle had a difficult time waking up. Xena was already practicing with her staff when the bard arrived.
"It's about time. You must have had trouble getting out of bed with that swelled head." Xena smiled, referring to her dunking last night. "We'll see who gets who today, ready?"
Gabrielle came up beside the warrior, raising her staff in acknowledgment. She found herself immediately on the defensive, but managed to block the majority blows. For a moment she thought Xena was going easy on her. But suddenly it occurred to her that she had indeed improved. The moves had become second nature to her and her muscles took the hard blows with little complaint. Her confidence surged.
She stepped back, as if succumbing to the force of the blows and bent agilely at the knees making a sweep for the warrior's legs. It was an unexpected move and although Xena was able to correct for it, she was out of position and took a mild blow to the hip. The tall woman smiled with pride. Without thinking, Gabrielle dropped her staff and hugged her companion excitedly. Xena laughed.
They had drawn a crowd. A large group of Amazons began clapping. Gabrielle had been the first to land a blow against the warrior thus far. Xena ruffled her hair. "Good job." The bard beamed.
Xena spoke up, attempting to build the bard's confidence further. "Who will volunteer to be her next victim?" The women had already formed a line and eagerly stepped up to spar with the Queen.
The warrior stood back and watched, her expression unreadable. Ephiny came up alongside her. "She has become a force to be reckoned with, hasn't she?" Xena nodded and watched Gabrielle maneuver with a clinical detachment.
"She's hardly that naïve young woman I first met." The Regent commented. "Gabrielle's become a competent fighter with a lean, strong body. A beautiful woman."
Xena turned to see Ephiny rather brazenly gaze at the bard. She regarded the Amazon curiously, then glanced at the many spectators who seemed to be watching Gabrielle with more than an educational interest. She then turned back to her young companion, watching her through slightly different eyes. Yes, Xena thought, she has changed and somehow I missed it.
At breakfast, they were besieged with young Amazons, wanting to praise the Queen and get her advice. Xena felt uneasy. This sudden discomfort confused her. People always gathered around her friend. She was a performer after all, a people person: friendly, talkative, and extremely approachable. That was nothing new.
But something was different. These women were not interested in the bard with wonderful story-telling ability. They were interested in Gabrielle, the woman. Something tugged at Xena from the inside. This new development concerned her. When she looked at Gabrielle she saw a lamb, surrounded by wolves.
Xena waited patiently for an opening in the commotion. "Come on, let's see if we can catch sight of that deer." She grabbed her friend's hand and led the way to the door, clearing a path as she went. Ephiny smiled from across the room, wondering if the seed she had planted had begun to grow.
They walked until they were close to the area she had seen the deer the previous day. The warrior motioned for Gabrielle to sit beside her. Xena leaned against a tree and closed her eyes.
As the bard watched the rhythmic rise and fall of the warrior's chest, she marveled at how there relationship had changed over the seasons. Xena had become much more comfortable with her talking and she had become more at ease with the warrior's silence. It was a nice balance. They complemented each other well. She laid back on the warm ground and closed her eyes.
Gabrielle was just beginning to doze when she felt Xena clasp her hand. She awoke to blue eyes gazing at her. The warrior's finger gently pressed to her lips in a gesture for quiet. She motioned for her to get up. The dark-haired woman stood on tip toes and easily peered over the brush.
The bard mimicked her actions but was not tall enough to see and shrugged. The warrior pointed to a branch above them and laced her hands together. Gabrielle placed her foot in the step formed by Xena's hands and sat noiselessly on the branch overhead.
The warrior watched affectionately as the young woman's eyes filled with wonder. They observed the animal for several minutes before the breeze caught their scent, causing the deer to bolt.
"She's incredible." The bard looked down at Xena with tears in her eyes. "Thanks for sharing this with me." As she looked down at the dark-haired warrior, she thought how like the deer Xena was: beautiful, unequaled.
The warrior held out her arms up to catch her as she slowly slid off the branch. The strong hands grasped her securely at the waist and lowered her slowly to the ground. Gabrielle couldn't help but think how easy it would be to put her hands on the tall woman's shoulders and pull her in for a kiss. Instead, she stepped back, a blush heating her cheeks. It seemed for a moment that Xena stiffened.
"I… I was thinking about heading out tomorrow," The warrior said abruptly.
Things were going so well. Gabrielle hated the idea of leaving. Unable to disguise her disappointment, she shrugged. "Okay, if that's what you want."
Suddenly Xena felt guilty. Why was she asking Gabrielle to go so soon? Why was she feeling so uncomfortable? "Look, I'm getting a little restless, that's all. I could leave you here for a while. Stop back in a moon and get you." She paused. What was she saying? She didn't want to leave without her, especially now, with the way so many of the women were looking at her. The bard seemed naïve compared to her Amazon sisters. But even as these thoughts ran through her mind, Xena realized they were unwarranted. Gabrielle was their Queen; she would be safe here.
The bard panicked at the warrior's suggestion. A deep seeded fear clutched at her. What if Xena got hurt while traveling or decided not to return for her? "No, really I'm ready to leave too. We could head out tomorrow."
They walked back in relative silence. Both trying to sort out their feelings. As they entered the village, Xena broke the silence, tapping her friend on the shoulder. "How about some lunch?"
"No thanks, I think I'll spend some time with Ephiny since we're leaving. I'll meet you for dinner."
Xena looked puzzled. "Okay. I'll tend to Argo. See you later." She couldn't shake the uneasy feeling she got as she watched the bard quickly head toward the Regent's hut. Conflicting emotions raced through her as she walked toward the stables.
Gabrielle knocked before entering Ephiny's hut. The Regent opened the door and motioned her in.
"Leave it open. It's getting warm in here." She took a seat and gave the bard her full attention. "So, tell me how's it going with Xena."
"No change that I can tell." Gabrielle paused and looked sadly at her friend. "I need your help. She wants to leave tomorrow."
"Maybe she is beginning to get uncomfortable having you around so many women who desire you."
"Me?!" Gabrielle laughed.
"Did you ever think that part of the reason Xena doesn't see you as a mature, desirable woman is because you don't see yourself that way? Believe me: you are. Many of our villagers find you attractive."
Gabrielle shook her head doubtfully.
"Yes, I'm one of them."
"Really?" Gabrielle looked at her momentarily stunned.
"Truly, and I'm not alone. If you spent more time looking at women other than Xena, you would have realized it long ago."
"I... I..." Gabrielle was completely surprised by this information.
Suddenly Ephiny had an idea. She smiled and looked up at her friend. "I'm going to throw a party tonight. Since we don't know when we will see you two again, I want to send you off right."
"Thanks, that's really nice of you. But I'm not sure I'm up to a celebration."
"Oh… you'll be up to this. I think you should preside over the event as Queen. I have a special costume in mind."
"What kind of costume?"
"Something I think even Xena will notice."
"I don't know about this." She was beginning to feel a little nervous.
"Do you want my help or not?" Ephiny smiled playfully.
Gabrielle laughed. "Why do I get the feeling that I could live to regret this?"
"I have a plan of sorts." The Regent quickly continued. "First make sure you don't drink any alcohol. You might need to have your wits about you. Second, for one night forget about Xena. Concentrate on focusing your attention on other women. I'm sure you'll have many opportunities." Gabrielle looked horrified.
"I'm not telling you to go through with anything… Of course that's always your prerogative." She winked. "Just be sure to notice and speak with them. If you find it difficult, try to think of it as collecting material for a story. Take in all the details. I think you'll be surprised."
Gabrielle winced. "I'm afraid to ask, but what's the third part of the plan?"
"It depends. How have you been coming along with your reading?" Ephiny grinned mischievously.
The bard decided to play along. "Well, I do have a few questions, since you asked. Do you do demonstrations?" The Regent's grin disappeared and it was Gabrielle's turn to smile. By the time they got to part four which included a brief demonstration, they were carrying on so that their voices carried outside the hut.
As Xena approached, she heard peels of laughter coming from inside the Regent's hut. She walked through the open door and stopped in her tracks. Something in the exchange between the two women made her uncomfortable. It was more than friendly. Ephiny seemed overly physical and all too familiar with Gabrielle.
The warrior coughed loudly, making her presence known. They both looked up. "I brought you some lunch, thought you might be hungry." Suddenly she felt awkward, intrusive. She stood holding the plate of food, feeling like an outsider.
Gabrielle jumped to her feet. "This looks terrific. I'm starving! Thanks." She ran her hand softly down Xena's arm before taking the plate. This was also part of Ephiny's plan. More physical contact. Nothing major, just frequent contact, casual contact, innocent contact. The idea was to leave a physical impression, even if slight.
Ephiny smiled. The young woman was certainly a quick study. She found herself feeling a little sorry for Xena. Unless her heart was made of stone, the warrior didn't stand a chance.
As the festivities unfolded Xena waited for Gabrielle to arrive. The food was great. She had already sampled it while waiting for her friend to arrive. This was the type of celebration the bard loved: food, music and dancing. As she thought of her young companion, she leaned back against a tree and listened. There was something compelling about Amazon drumming. The music was low and seductive.
Suddenly she heard a murmuring through the crowd and turned to see the cause. She nearly dropped her plate. It was Gabrielle. Her hair was styled differently. It looked fuller, wavy. She was dressed in a very revealing outfit. The top was a single thin strip of a rich rust-colored material. It was cinched in the middle, then widened just enough to cover her breasts. The skirt matched. It was longer than the one she usually wore, with a dramatic slit up to her hip on one side. As far as the warrior could tell, there was nothing underneath it.
Xena swallowed hard. She had seen her friend dressed in skimpy clothes before, but it always looked like play acting… like a child dressed in her mother's clothes. Gabrielle was no child in this outfit. The warrior fought the urge to cover her with something and waited for her friend to approach. To her surprise, she never did. Surrounded by women, Gabrielle made her way to the other side of the fire.
The warrior looked on as several Amazons engaged the bard in conversation. A striking woman handed Gabrielle a plate of food. The bard smiled at her gratefully. Xena put down her own plate, suddenly not hungry. She waited for the bard to look her way but she never did. She was too preoccupied.
There were Amazons sitting on either side of their stunning Queen. Xena was distressed to see the way they were looking at her friend. Gabrielle seemed oblivious to their true intent. It was all the warrior could do to stay where she was and not interfere.
Feeling extremely uneasy, Xena got up to leave. It wasn't the desire to protect her companion that made her uncomfortable, but a deeper urge that disturbed her. She was just about to go for a long walk when Ephiny approached her.
"Xena, I hope you're not leaving the party already?"
"I was going to take a walk."
"Oh, come on. Sit and have a drink with me. Who knows when we will get to see each other again?" She made sure to position herself so that Xena had a clear view of Gabrielle. "Here, my friend, drink up." She handed Xena a large mug of wine, hoping to keep her from running off before the show was over. The warrior had obviously taken the bait and the Regent wanted to give Gabrielle a chance to set the hook.
"Not much for celebrations, huh?" She poked Xena lightly in the ribs.
The warrior took a long drink. "No, but I appreciate the gesture." She couldn't even force a smile.
"Now Gabrielle, she really enjoys this. Just look at her. She's really in her element."
Xena couldn't stop looking. She took another swig, nearly finishing the mug. "Yeah, I guess." The warrior watched the Amazon to the bard's left. The woman used her hands rather expressively as she talked to the bard, never missing an opportunity to touch Gabrielle when making a point. Finally she let a hand come to rest on the Queen's thigh.
"Gods, I never knew she had such a figure!" Ephiny exclaimed. "Look at the crowd around her. She's the most popular woman here." Xena's eyes were locked on the Amazon's wandering hand. She never heard the Regent last statement. Instantly, she was on her feet heading toward the bard.
"Xena!" Gabrielle greeted her happily." Despite the constant attention she was receiving, she had missed her friend's company. "What a great party. I'm having so much fun."
"That's nice, Gabrielle. I think Ephiny wants to speak with you." The Queen excused herself and started toward the Regent. When the touchy-feely woman got up to follow, Xena stepped in front of her. Her icy blue eyes burned into the woman. She uttered only two words: "Back off." Their meaning was clear. The woman left the festivities and didn't return.
Xena stood stunned. She couldn't believe what she had done.
Never in their years together had she interfered in Gabrielle's life
in this way. She was confused and angry with herself.
Grabbing a flask of wine, she headed into the woods.
The warrior rose early and made the necessary preparations to leave. In no time they were saying their good-byes.
Gabrielle and the Regent embraced. "I think we made some dents in that armor. I wish you luck." Ephiny whispered.
She released her friend and turned to Xena. "Don't wait so long to visit the next time." The warrior merely nodded, greatly relieved to be leaving. She longed to immerse herself in what was familiar and hoped things would return to what she had come to regard as routine. At the same time, she feared that although she might be able to ignore certain changes, she was not sure if her companion was willing or able to do the same.
If Gabrielle was sad to go, she did not show it. The bard walked behind Xena and Argo as always, chattering away. She told Xena about all the things that had happened at the celebration, giving very detailed descriptions. This filled the warrior with hope. She found herself more at ease with each mile they traveled. Things seemed to be returning to normal and she, for one, couldn't be happier.
About midday they came to a clearing. Xena spotted something in the distance and decided to surprise her friend. She dismounted and asked Gabrielle to wait. The warrior walked about a hundred feet through the clearing to a patch of strawberries and was just about to pick some when her instincts caused her to spin around.
"Xena. It's been a while." His powerful voice filled the clearing.
"Not nearly long enough. What do you want?"
He ignored her question. "I see you still haven't managed to shed that pesky little brat."
"Leave her out of it."
Gabrielle approached quietly behind him. He turned to face the bard, not surprised in the least. "Ah, but she's already in it isn't she? Tell me, Gabrielle, does Xena know just how far in it you are?"
The bard blushed and tightened her grip on her staff, taking a defensive posture. They stared hard at each other, Ares making it clear to the young woman that he would never allow her the kind of hold on Xena that she wanted.
The god pulled his sword. Gabrielle held her staff in front of her. "That piece of wood will never protect you from me." He raised his eyebrow mocking her.
Xena flipped over him, placing herself between them. "No, but this will." She growled, drawing her sword. Distracted by Ares' chilling laugh, she failed to notice that Strife had appeared behind the bard. His chuckle alerted her and she turned, giving Ares the opening he needed. In one swift movement he brought the hilt of his sword down on her head. The last thing she heard was Gabrielle scream her name.
Gradually Xena regained consciousness. Her first sensation was a dull ache at the back of her head. The encounter with Ares came flooding back. She quickly appraised her situation. Surrounded by darkness, she squinted to clear her vision and felt the roughness of the blindfold that covered her eyes. Standing in bare feet, she felt the bite of the cold stone floor. The air was damp, moist against her skin. She knew she was naked, stripped of her clothing. Her ankles were bound snugly to a frame behind her, with her feet positioned more than shoulder width apart, her wrists secured above her head about four feet apart. She concentrated, trying to break her bonds. The thick leather straps that held her had no give. She was effectively disabled. The warrior's mind flashed to Gabrielle and her heart filled with dread at the thought of what might have happened to her. A feeling of desperation threatened to overwhelm her. Xena fought it and listened for sounds around her. She detected a presence nearby.
Ares watched her with an air of respect. She remained calm, though her situation was quite hopeless. In fact the purpose of the blindfold was to heighten her sense of powerlessness. While waiting for her to regain consciousness, he blatantly admired her well muscled body. Her full breasts, taut stomach, and long legs excited him. She was quite magnificent. Ares was charged with anticipation. Soon this body would be his. He released a heavy sigh. Xena turned her head in the direction of the sound, guessing the identity of her captor.
"Ares, you coward, not enough of an advantage that I'm bound. You need to blindfold me as well." She hated her helpless state and hoped she could goad him into evening the odds.
"Ah, Xena it's so nice to have you back."
"I'll never come back to you." She replied with conviction.
"Never," he mocked, laughing. "Oh, I wouldn't be so sure of that. In fact it won't be long before you'll be begging me to come back. You may need to believe that your little friend has changed you, but I don't accept that for a minute ."
He paused, lost in his thoughts. He would never stand back and allow the bard to get a tighter hold on Xena. Gabrielle had forced his desperate action. He had no intention of losing the warrior. No matter what it took. "Anyway, I'm afraid the bard is out of the picture now."
Xena's anger flared. He had hit her where she was most vulnerable. "If you've done anything to harm her, I swear you'll regret..."
He interrupted her. "You're not in a position to make me regret anything right now. But I'll put your mind to rest. I haven't harmed the little brat. I have no need of her now. It's you I want." She could feel his hot breath close to her ear.
Relieved that Gabrielle was safe, her adrenaline surged. She focused on her own predicament and she turned her head in his direction. "You'll have to kill me; I will not give in to you." Suddenly, he wished he could see the fire he knew was flashing in her eyes.
"Ah, but I want you alive. Soon you will be mine, body and soul."
"In your dreams." She spat the words. "I don't know what you have planned. You can rape me, but I will never be yours."
He smiled and ran his index finger across his upper lip. "On the contrary, I think it will be you raping me." He paused for effect. "Of course, I know I will need some help getting you to that point. Have you heard of the berries of Narcis?" Xena tensed, trying to recall what she knew.
"Let me refresh your memory. Enchanted by Aphrodite, they act as a catalyst to a person's innate passion… when applied to the appropriate places, that is. The greater the individuals sexual appetite, the stronger the effect." He smiled wickedly. "I guess I don't need to tell you how suitable you are for this type of enchantment."
He paused to let his words sink in. "Do you want me to tell you how it works?"
"Could I stop you?" she replied bitterly.
He laughed. "I'm going to tell you, because I want you to know exactly what's going to happen." Ares bent to pick up a small clay pot containing a thick syrupy substance, bright red in color. He twirled a small brush through the liquid. "As I was saying, after I have painted you, I think you will have a complete change of heart where I'm concerned." He sighed, savoring the moment. "In fact you will beg me to take you." She tensed as she heard him approach.
"Although I've never seen this stuff in action, I've heard a person will do just about anything to have the torment end. The first person who brings you to climax will be the recipient of your undying desire." He laughed lightly and caressed her cheek. "Of course, that would be me." She flinched from the contact. "Don't worry, I won't make you suffer too long. I'm not an ogre after all." He laughed again. His voice sending a chill down her spine.
"Shall we begin?" He purred.
She heard him take a step toward her. "Ares, know this… if you manage to break my will with this magic, you still will not have me… the real me." Her voice was tinged with a note of desperation.
"I'll have your mind, your heart, and your body." He sighed, smiling. "I guess I will just have to be content with that." He dipped the brush into the red liquid and poised it inches from her right nipple. "Any last words?"
She spat in the direction of his voice.
Gabrielle mounted Argo and frantically made her way back to the Amazons. Ares had taken Xena and she had to find a way to help her. She pushed Argo hard, nearly out of her mind with fear. Gabrielle remembered Ares' last words before he disappeared with the warrior cradled in his arms: "You always were her weak spot, but no more."
His words stung even though she knew they weren't entirely true. It was her love for Xena that Ares feared. She had seen it in his eyes. And she had seen something else there too. Maybe there was more to the warrior's feelings for her than she had known. This was a bold and possibly desperate attempt on his part to get Xena back. She couldn't guess what it might mean.
Things had been going so well. If only they had stayed with the Amazons longer. If only she had been able to tell Xena how she felt. Now, she could only wonder now if it would have made a difference.
Time passed painfully slowly, until at last, she neared the village and was met by guards. After a brief acknowledgment, she pushed Argo all out until she reached the gates.
Ephiny was sent for immediately. As soon as she saw Gabrielle she knew something was terribly wrong. "Are you all right? Where's Xena?" The Regent could see her friend was beside herself with worry.
"Ares has her. He knocked her unconscious and took her away. I've got to find her."
"I'm sorry." Ephiny's voice was choked with emotion. She placed her arm around the bard. The situation was nearly hopeless. There wasn't anything she or her warriors could do against a god. The only hope was enlisting the help of their goddess. "Let's go to the temple. Maybe Artemis can help."
Ares wiped the spit from his face. "For that, I am going to make you suffer." He touched the brush lightly to her nipple, delicately painting the entire area. He paused, waiting for it to take effect. Xena felt the coolness of the liquid as it made contact with her skin. Her nipple tingled and immediately formed into a tight knot. The warrior struggled futilely against her bonds. The sensation was erotically teasing, delectably maddening, like an insistent itch she couldn't scratch. Reflexively, her arms jerked, trying to alleviate her discomfort.
"Let's see just how much you can take before you beg, shall we?" Ares dipped the brush in the thick syrup and coated the other nipple.
Xena gasped as she felt the enchantment's effects deepen. Her breasts felt large, hot. The need for contact, any contact against her hardened nipples was so intense that it was all consuming. She pulled desperately at her restraints. Her teeth clenched. She tried to block out the sensations by conjuring images and escaping into the recesses of her mind. Ares smiled at her in wonder. "You really are quite amazing."
Xena's body began trembling as she fought to maintain control. She moaned as he traced a path down her abdomen into the dark patch of hair between her legs. "Relax, it's just my finger… love, just my touch." Reaching his goal, he parted her lips with his coarse fingers. "You're even wetter than I remember. She tried desperately to move her hips, to get away from his invading fingers. It was impossible. The muscles in her legs strained in vain to protect her from the hand that held her open and vulnerable.
"Easy now, don't worry, I'll make this very quick. I wouldn't want your climax to be… premature." His voice was cruelly gentle, soothing. "Remember, I owe you for your little act of defiance." His thumb grazed the hood covering her sex. Pulling it back, he effectively removed her last defense. With one swift stroke, he coated her clitoris and removed his fingers.
He stood back, enjoying her torment. Her face mirrored her distress. She threw her head back, a loud groan escaping her lips. Tremors racked her body and every movement caused a riot of sensation. She tried desperately to close her legs. Her body screamed for release. She was awash in a primal heat that radiated off her body in waves. Her hips undulated wildly. Ares admired the sensual flush and lustrous sheen her body had taken on.
"Now… we wait to see just how tough you really are." The warrior clenched her teeth to keep from speaking, from screaming, afraid she might indeed beg. She knew she could not hold out long under this torment. Her body writhed in exquisite anguish. She had to have release. This need could not be denied. Xena's control snapped. Her mind no longer controlled her body. There were no more lucid thoughts. She was driven by one goal: consummation. Nothing else mattered.
Ares watched her tortured body squirm. Xena was the most sensual being he had ever encountered. She wouldn't have to endure his teasing much longer because he was tiring of the game. He felt his own body stir in response to her wild gyrations. Oh, yes, this would be fun. Only he, a god, could fully command the passion of this woman. He began to slowly unfasten the ties of his shirt.
Outside, thunder sounded, completely out of place in the stillness of the mild evening. Ares tensed at the loud clap. He immediately recognized the source of the noise: Zeus. His body told him to ignore the command but he knew how foolhardy that would be. Gritting his teeth, he retied his shirt and tried to collect himself.
"It seems I have been summoned. Pity, I was enjoying this." He lowered his voice, crooning seductively. It was a cruel means of reasserting her helplessness and his complete control over her. "I do so hate to leave you this way, but I will take comfort in the fact that you'll be thinking of me while I'm gone." He laughed and kissed her lightly on the cheek. "Good-bye Xena, and try to be ready for me when I return." In a flash, he disappeared, leaving her in agony.
Gabrielle entered Artemis' temple and knelt at the alter. The bard had few belongings and little of value to offer the goddess. She placed her most prized possession on the dais: a necklace with a jade stone that Xena had given her.
"Artemis, please hear me. I need your help."
The air before her shimmered as the goddess appeared. Gabrielle remained kneeling. "Rise, my child. Tell me what it is that you need."
"Ares has taken Xena. She needs my help, but I don't know how to find her."
"I am aware of what has happened. Ares has overstepped his bounds this time. Zeus has commanded him to cease his manipulations. I have been permitted to take you to her."
"Thank you." Relief washed over her knowing she would soon be with the warrior.
"Be warned. Xena has been put under a devious and powerful enchantment. She is not same the woman you have come to know. This could be dangerous for you."
"I don't care. I have to help her if I can. Is there a cure, something that will reverse the magic's effect?"
"There is a valley two days south of where Xena is being held. At the edge of the steepest part of the hillside, in a cavern. There you will find a witch who may be able to remove the enchantment. I cannot interfere beyond this. I have been forbidden."
"Please take me to her." Gabrielle's voice had a desperate edge
"I need to be sure that this is what you really want."
"Please I need to be with her."
"As you wish." Artemis held the Queen's jade necklace in the palm
of her hand. It seemed to glow with an unearthly light. "You
are my chosen; I am not in need of this token. Keep it close.
Let it remind you of the reason you summoned me." Then, with a wave
of Artemis' hand, Gabrielle disappeared.
The bard reappeared at the entrance to a cave, Argo by her side. As her eyes adjusted to the torch light inside, she looked in horror at the sight before her. Xena stood in the center of the cavern, strapped, spread eagle to a wooden frame, naked and blindfolded. Her body was covered in a thin layer of sweat. She moaned and whipped her head from side to side, her wet hair partially obscuring her face. The dark tendrils clung to her damp skin. Red lines that looked like blood ran from her nipples. Another streak of red ran down her right thigh.
The warrior's head snapped upright. The sound of her friends sweet voice brought her momentarily back to her senses. "Gabrielle, Ohhhhh..."
"You're hurt!" The young woman rushed forward, assuming the red lines were blood. As she came closer, she realized she was mistaken. Her mind reeled, trying to understanding the meaning of the strange substance. She could not conceive of the nature of the torture Ares had devised.
"Get it off!" Xena screamed. Gabrielle quickly unfastened the blindfold. What she saw terrified her. The warrior's eyes were wild, feral, hardly human. She reached up to untie her wrist. Xena's head snapped forward. "Nooo," she growled, straining over and over again at her bonds. She couldn't trust what she might do to her young friend.
"What should I do?" Gabrielle was near panic at the warrior's condition.
Xena groaned. Speech was nearly impossible in her condition. "Off... Wipe it off!" She clenched her teeth to prevent herself from screaming.
Gabrielle tore the bottom of her skirt and reached up to wipe the substance off Xena's breast. The warrior stiffened, eyes locked on the bard as her hand raised to her breast. The first contact had a searing intensity. A curious mixture of pleasure and pain. Incredible sensations jetted through her. Each touch of her swollen nipples brought jarring explosions of pleasure. Gabrielle froze momentarily, not understanding the warrior's erratic behavior.
Her heart tightened in her chest as she realized she was witnessing her friend's unbridled desire. She continued to gently wipe the sticky substance from Xena's breasts. The warrior's breath was ragged, coming in shuddering gasps. She cried out in rapture. "Yessss." Her muscles flexed again and again as she strained at the straps holding her.
She arched her back, attempting to push into the bard's hand. Moans tore from her throat continuously. "Ohhh Gabrielle... Ahhhhhhh..." She shivered and groaned miserably as the bard lifted her hand away. The young woman knelt down in front of Xena, her face flushed with embarrassment at the intimate touch she was about to give. So close now, she could smell the warrior's essence. Streams of moisture ran down the inside of Xena's widely spread thighs.
Gabrielle's trembling fingers parted her lips. As gently as possible, she wiped the smooth cloth across the warrior's swollen clitoris, carefully removing all traces of the red liquid. Xena's hips froze at the delicate contact. Tears streamed down her cheeks. "Ohhhhhhh... please, ...ahhhhhhhhh ...don't stop pleeease." She writhed against Gabrielle's fingers unable to bear the sweet sensations. The warrior needed her touch, a lover's touch.
Something snapped deep inside the bard as she listened to the desperate pleas from the woman she loved. Unable to contain her own desire, she dropped the cloth and let her fingers glide against the warrior's hot sex. Gabrielle felt nearly delirious as she tried to keep pace with the frantic rhythm of the warrior's rocking hips. "More, more, more...." Xena's voice echoed in her mind like an erotic chant, keeping time with her rapidly beating heart.
Suddenly the warrior's body stiffened. "Yes... Yes.. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh..." Cries jerked from her throat. Her body shook with a tremendous force as spasms wrenched from her depths. The wooden scaffolding holding her prisoner creaked from the strain as she pulled with all her strength against the straps. She screamed Gabrielle's name, the one to end her suffering, the only one who could satisfy her now. Her climax tore through her in wave after unending wave of ecstasy, finally rendering her unconscious.
Gabrielle rode out Xena's pleasure before removing her hand. She looked down, unable to tear her eyes away from the moisture that coated her fingers. The young woman sat in shock, desperately trying to sort out her emotions. She was ashamed of her behavior and at the same time amazed at the intensity of her own arousal.
The bard had longed to make love to Xena, to have Xena make love to her. But… not like this. How would the warrior react when she regained consciousness? Would she remember and be appalled that Gabrielle had taken advantage of her when she was completely vulnerable? She wept, shaking uncontrollably. Gods how she had enjoyed it. Xena's scent was like an aphrodisiac. She lifted her wet fingers to her lips. Without thinking she slid them into her mouth. The taste was indescribable, unlike anything she had imagined.
It took long moments to compose herself. She stood on shaky legs and carefully released Xena from the straps that held her. The warrior's wrists and ankles were torn, bloody and bruised from her tortured struggle. Gabrielle removed their supplies from Argo's saddle bags. She took care of her friend's wounds and washed Xena's body with the tenderness of a lover. Dressing her in a clean shift, she laid the spent woman on her bed roll. Lovingly, she pushed stray locks of hair from the warrior's face, admiring her beauty.
Gabrielle lay awake, watching her companion sleep and tried to imagine what lay ahead of them. There would be no rest for her this night.
Xena awoke in her bed roll a few hours later, completely disoriented. She looked up to see Gabrielle watching, eyes filled with concern. "What..." she stopped mid-sentence, the memories flooding back. Overcome with shame she closed her eyes, covering her face with her hands.
The bard spoke softly. "It's all right, you're safe now."
Gabrielle's voice stroked her like a caress. Xena looked down unable to meet her friend's eyes. She was awash with conflicting emotions. The bard reached over and laid a hand on her shoulder reassuringly. The warrior trembled at the contact and glanced up into the hypnotic green eyes. How could she not have noticed the incredible beauty of the young woman she traveled with? Her body was gorgeously toned, her hair was golden and radiant in the fire light, her skin was so smooth, flawless and oh gods... her lips. Xena quickly pulled away. She felt a pulsing in her center. Her desire reawakened. The warrior's expression changed to anguish as she struggled with her desire.
"What is it, what's wrong?"
"It's not safe,... not safe for you." Xena searched for words to explain the situation to her innocent friend. "I'm under an enchantment and you are the focus of my… I… I don't know if I can control my need… for you."
Gabrielle swallowed hard. It was a cruel joke. For so long she had longed for Xena and never seen even a small inkling that the warrior felt the same. Now it was unmistakable. She could see Xena's passion clearly in her eyes.
Her mind flashed. For an instant she thought of not telling her friend about the cure Artemis had told her about. Instead, she could explain how she truly felt. They could become lovers as she had always hoped. It was a fleeting dream. The truth was that Xena's feelings were not real and that broke her heart.
The warrior's hands clenched into fists. She couldn't bear to look at her friend. Her body trembled when she thought of what she wanted Gabrielle to do to her. She could read the distress in the bard's eyes. Gods, she could loose herself forever in those eyes. "Gabrielle, you have to leave me. At dawn you have to go."
Xena's words cut her like a knife. "No, I can help you! Artemis told me of a witch in the valley who can cure you. We can be there in a couple of days. Please, don't send me away!"
"I… I can't trust myself around you. I couldn't live with myself if I did anything to... hurt you. Do you understand? You have to go!"
"I can't leave you. I.. won't!" She spoke with the conviction she felt deep in her heart.
Again, she thought of confessing her feelings to the warrior. If she did, would Xena still want to be cured? Could she stand the guilt, knowing she had convinced the warrior to live a lie? If Xena did want to find the witch, they would have a few days of passion. But then what? Once she was cured, would her friend hate her? The situation was hopeless. Gabrielle knew she couldn't let her own desires stop her from doing what was right for Xena.
She took a deep breath. "I promise you I won't let anything happen. I can help you maintain control. I know you would never hurt me. If you really wanted to hurt me you wouldn't even think about sending me away. Deep down, you know I'm right."
"Even if I could keep control, Ares could be back at any time. It's too dangerous for you."
"No, Ares has been forbidden by Zeus to interfere. Artemis was given permission to send me here to help you."
The last thing Xena wanted was to be apart from Gabrielle. She wanted her close, very close. The need for her new lover was utterly compelling. She longed to feel her touch again, that heavenly release. Her body screamed for more of what she had so briefly sampled. The warrior struggled against the carnal thoughts flooding her mind. She knew she should send the bard away but just as surely knew she did not have the will to do it.
"We can think of something to keep your mind active, your body exhausted. It's only two days." Gabrielle spoke optimistically but Xena looked doubtful. The warrior could feel the moisture overflowing her lips, making her thighs wet, and she trembled. She was ready, so ready. Xena turned away, a groan escaping from her depths. She leaned into the wall of the cave, pressing her face against the cool surface.
"What can I do to make it easier for you?" The bard asked gently.
Xena ran her fingers roughly through her hair and covered her ears in an attempt to shield herself from the sensuality inherent in the bard's voice. "Your voice, your smell, your touch, the mere sight of you instills such desire..." Her voice shook with need.
The warrior grabbed her sword, startling her young companion. She began swinging at the scaffolding with a vengeance. The sound of metal striking wood reverberated throughout the cave. Gabrielle watched, tears coursing down her cheeks as Xena spent the next candlemark exhausting herself. Her labored breaths echoed though out the cave.
Abruptly, the warrior stopped, as if in contemplation. Suddenly, she removed the wrist straps from the wooden frame and walked toward Gabrielle, passion burning in her eyes. She tossed the straps into the bard's lap. "Put them on!" she commanded. The tone of her voice left no room for discussion. Gabrielle looked down at the leather bindings. Her abdomen fluttered and a hot sensation radiated through her center. With trembling fingers, she slipped the firm strap around her left wrist and struggled to find her voice, to find the courage to protest something she had not even realized she desired until that instant. Reluctantly, she raised her face to look at the warrior.
Xena stared at her in disbelief. "Not on you... on ME!" The warrior loudly expelled the air from her lungs in frustration. "Gabrielle, you've got to stand up to me or this is never going to work. I need your help here."
"Oh gods, I'm sorry I..." Her face was bright red with embarrassment.
A heat spread through her body that threatened to engulf her. She
abruptly got to her feet. Quickly, she interlocked the straps and
tightened them around the warrior's wrists, using the utmost care that
her fingers did not make contact needlessly with Xena's skin. Whether
that was for her benefit or the warrior's she wasn't at all sure.
Although the restraints served as a reminder that she needed to fight her growing hunger for Gabrielle's sake, the nearness of the bard was weakening what was left of her resolve. Xena turned away and tested the strength of the straps. She was not at all confident that they would help. If she wanted Gabrielle, she knew nothing short of death would stop her and she desperately wanted her. She paced back and forth like a caged lioness, not daring to look at the prey, so close within her reach.
They both needed sleep. Their nerves were rattled and they had a long journey ahead. Gabrielle reached for the saddle bags on the floor and retrieved a bag of white powder. Clearing her throat, she held up the bag, waiting for Xena to respond to her idea. The warrior smiled in spite of herself. It was a good idea that might just work.
"Put about a quarter of the bag in a cup of water. It's a pretty strong mix. I think it will knock me out. We're going to have to pray we aren't attacked for the next few nights." The bard handed her the cup and nodded, quickly turning away. In her mind, it was worth the risk.
Xena continued to pace the floor after drinking the mixture. It was nearly half a candlemark before she dropped to one knee then passed out completely. Gabrielle sighed with relief and covered her friend with a blanket. She went to her own bedroll at the other side of the room. Hugging her arms to her chest, she cried herself to sleep.
"Wake up, my sweet bard." Gabrielle lazily opened her eyes, surprised to see Xena standing over her. She tried to sit up and realized that her hands were bound behind her. The warrior smiled wickedly and held her free hands in front of Gabrielle wiggling her fingers for emphasis. "You didn't tighten them nearly enough."
The bard struggled in vain at the leather now holding her hands securely. "I did a much better job on you, don't you think?" She ran her tongue suggestively across her upper lip. "Don't look so distressed. Isn't this what you wanted?"
The warrior knelt down and reached for something on the floor. Gabrielle saw it was a small bowl and even in her panic she knew what it contained. "Now," Xena said sensually. "I'm going to paint you."
Gabrielle's heart fluttered wildly but she managed to find her voice. "Don't do this."
The warrior's eyes shimmered in the firelight, alive with lust. "Oh, but we could have such a good time." She swirled the brush in an exaggerated motion for Gabrielle's benefit.
"Don't." Her voice sounded stifled, weak.
"You don't sound all that convincing," Xena purred. "But then, I don't really need to use this on you do I? You're ready to beg me right now, aren't you? I can see it in your eyes." The bard looked away, knowing that her eyes would indeed reveal the truth.
Xena took the bard's face in her hand, forcing her gaze. "You will have a very long wait. I don't want you!" She laughed cruelly. "What made you think I could ever be interested in an innocent girl like you? What could you know about pleasuring me?" Tears rolled down Gabrielle's cheeks. She knew the warrior was right; to think that Xena could desire her was a very naïve fantasy.
The warrior continued her verbal assault. "I trusted you and you failed me. I would have been better off with Ares. At least he could keep me satisfied." She turned and walked away. The bard watched her go until she faded into the darkness. She tried to cry out but no sound came.
Gabrielle's eyes snapped opened as she awoke from the nightmare. She tried to focus in the dim light of the cave. Her breath was coming in great gasps. She looked across the room and saw Xena lying where she had left her, moaning in her sleep. She got up and walked over to her. Carefully, she lifted the blanket, reassuring herself that the straps were still secure.
She packed up their belongings, letting Xena sleep. In truth, she wasn't sure if she could face the warrior. Although she had no appetite, she made a half-hearted attempt to eat. She set out dried meat and fruit for Xena and saddled Argo. Once she had everything ready to go, she stood over her companion, watching her sleep. The warrior was the most exquisite woman Gabrielle had ever laid eyes on. Relaxed in slumber, she was even more lovely.
Xena had saved her life on too many occasions to count. They had even triumphed over death together. The good times they had shared were her most precious memories. She couldn't help but love this woman who had been her traveling companion for these many seasons.
Gabrielle was determined not to fail her. The bard would set her desire aside as she had always done. She would be cold, distant, whatever it took to get her friend through this. If she succumbed, she knew Xena would never forgive her. She gently nudged the warrior's shoulder with her boot. Though still drugged, the dark-haired woman sat up quickly. She tried to stretch her arms and was harshly reminded of her current circumstance.
Gabrielle stood behind her. When Xena started to turn to face her, the bard spoke sternly. "Don't turn around unless I call for you. We need to get moving. I want you to walk ahead of me, lead Argo. Now let's go!"
It was the longest day of Gabrielle's life. She spoke as little as possible. It had practically driven her mad listening to Xena murmuring to herself, waging an internal battle with desire. Fortunately, it was and isolated area and they had not met anyone on the road.
The warrior stopped at dusk to locate an appropriate area to camp. Immediately, she went about the task of gathering fire wood. It was laborious with her hands bound, taking much longer than usual, but it kept her occupied. They quickly set up camp. Xena sat with her back to the fire as the bard instructed.
Gabrielle watched her from across the fire while they ate. She noticed the tremors that shook the warrior's body and longed to give relief to both herself and Xena. It would be so easy to give in and go to the woman she so desperately desired. Instead, she held fast to the jade stone around her neck and tried to focus on her true purpose, as Artemis had suggested. Unfortunately it gave her little comfort.
Immediately after eating, Xena drank the sleeping potion. "I need to stretch my shoulders. Can you release the straps for just a few minutes?"
Gabrielle had thought about this earlier. She knew that her friend must be in considerable discomfort from her restricted position. The potion would take effect soon. Surely the warrior could not stay awake much longer. The bard made the decision to release her.
Xena stretched her arms, wincing at their stiffness. Picking up her sword, she began to work through well-practiced maneuvers with the grace of a dancer. The sight was hypnotic. It took several moments for her to realize that the warrior had stopped practicing and was watching her intently. Gabrielle quickly broke eye contact. "Go back to your bedroll. I have to apply the restraints."
Xena groaned and squeezed her eyes shut as a series of spasms passed through her. It took all of her self-restraint to obey and take her place next to the fire. Gabrielle bent down and secured the straps.
She could smell the young woman's scent. Reflexively, she reached for the bard's hands, pulling them to her. The touch was electric. Gabrielle's eyes met Xena's without meaning to. The warrior's voice was low, sensual. "Please... kiss me." Her eyes were radiant, pleading. Gabrielle watched as she parted her lips and slowly wet them with her tongue. She felt lightheaded as she bent toward the inviting mouth.
The campfire crackled loudly, breaking the bard's trance. She pulled away. Xena moaned and reached for her. Gabrielle backed up, putting distance between them and walked over to Argo to collect herself.
The bard nuzzled her face in the mare's neck, letting her tears fall. She was so lost in her misery, she didn't hear Xena come up behind her. "I'm sorry."
Gabrielle spun around, startled by the voice so close behind her. It was a mistake. She found herself only inches from the warrior's chest. She turned away quickly.
Xena lifted her hands, still tied in front of her, and pushed the golden hair to one side. She was thoroughly aroused by Gabrielle's nearness. Her heart pounded furiously. The warrior tilted her head forward, inhaling the sweet fragrance of the bard's hair. Her lips grazed the soft skin of the young woman's neck. She moaned, pressing her mouth insistently against Gabrielle's hot flesh.
"Please..." Xena's voice was ragged with desire. "Gabrielle... I need you. Please, I ache for your touch. You are the only one for me. The only one that can please me... only you." The bard's heart was racing. How she had dreamed of hearing the warrior speak those words.
"No! You don't know what you're saying." She turned to face Xena and pushed her roughly backward. "You don't really want me; it's the magic at work. We've got to keep going."
The warrior stepped forward. Hunger raged in her eyes. "I'm not moving. I can't take it any more," She growled. Her need had built to a level that was more than she could control. "Why won't you help me? I thought you were my friend." Although she pleaded innocently, a lustful fire blazed in her eyes. "You helped me before." Her manner changed as her voice took on a sultry, persuasive tone. "If you help me, I'll return the favor. I can make you feel things you never dreamed." Gabrielle's head was reeling. She turned away but the warrior's voice was hypnotic, inescapable. If she had to listen to her much longer, she would surely give in.
"I'm an extremely attentive lover," Xena promised. To prove her point, she caught Gabrielle's ear lobe gently in her teeth and grazed it erotically with her tongue. The bard shivered from the touch and turned to face her. The heat of the warrior's breath was making her dizzy. "Should I tell you what I would like to do with my tongue? Once you've experienced what I can do, no one else..."
The slap was so unexpected, so powerful, Xena did not have time to block it. Her head snapped back from the force of it. They looked at one another equally stunned. The warrior's eyes cleared and she seemed to show signs of comprehension.
Gabrielle's hand stung from the blow. "Get up on Argo, I'm going to give you more sleeping powder. I'll lead you the rest of the way."
Xena complied, swallowing the liquid given her and mounted Argo. Tears spilled from her eyes. "I'm sorry I..."
"Save it!" The bard snapped. She was nearly at her breaking point. Gabrielle led Argo forward, careful to keep an eye on the warrior. When Xena seemed to tire, slumping slightly in the saddle, the bard mounted in front of her and commanded the warrior to encircle her waist with her bound hands. The young woman hoped she was strong enough to keep the warrior on the horse once she lost consciousness.
Soon, Xena was asleep, slumped heavily against her back. Gabrielle urged Argo to a steady gait. She hadn't slept well in two nights and had never felt so weary. Now solely responsible for their safety, she was compelled to stay alert. That combined with the additional stress of turning down Xena's much wanted advances, made her situation nearly intolerable.
Then, there was her guilt to contend with. Gabrielle had treated her friend badly. She had used her, taken advantage of her when she was completely vulnerable. To make matters worse, Xena's face carried the imprint of her hand. She was sure it would turn black and blue. The warrior didn't deserve any of this. It was all Ares' fault. He was a monster. She shivered to think what would have happen if things had gone his way.
Her legs ached. Every time Xena shifted in her sleep, Gabrielle had to tighten her grip to keep them from sliding off. Nevertheless, she relished the pain and the distraction it provided. She pushed Argo mercilessly. The obedient mare trudged forward with the promised of a long rest when this was over.
They traveled through the night and into the following day. The light was beginning to fade when, just ahead, she saw the valley. She checked for the steepest side and urged Argo toward it. Xena moaned in her sleep, calling Gabrielle's name. It sent shivers down her spine.
In the distance, she could make out the mouth of a cave. It was dark by the time she stopped Argo alongside the entrance. With a great deal of effort, she lifted Xena's arms over her head and slid down, attempting to guide the warrior to the ground without hurting her.
In spite of her rough dismount, Xena never stirred. She was out cold. Gabrielle prayed she had not given her too much of the sleeping powder. She walked to the cave entrance and peered in. The soft glow of torch light shone deep inside. "Is anyone here?" She cautiously entered. There was no reply. The bard made her way into the cave and tried again. "Hello," her voice had a frantic edge.
A tall figure stepped out of the shadows. "What is your business here?" Gabrielle spun around in the direction of the voice. She squinted in the dim light to make out the figure.
"My friend is hurt. Can you help her?" The tall, red headed woman stepped out into the light. The bard was relieved by her non-threatening appearance. "I was sent by Artemis. She said you would be able to help my friend."
The woman smiled softly. "You look tired. Come in. I will get you something to eat."
"No, thank you ... My friend is outside. Please, she needs help!" Gabrielle did not temper the distress in her voice. The woman nodded and they made their way out of the cave. Gabrielle dropped to her knees beside her friend. "I had to drug her to keep her asleep. She hasn't stirred in almost a full day, I'm worried that maybe I've harmed her."
The slender woman knelt down and quickly appraised Xena's condition. "Don't worry, this one has a strong constitution. She will get over the drug with no ill effects, although I don't think she will awaken for many hours. Come, help me get her inside and we'll talk."
The two women settled Xena comfortably on the bed. Gabrielle stood wearily. "I have to take care of Argo..."
The woman laid a gentle hand on her shoulder. "You stay with your friend and I'll tend to the mare."
"Thank you," Gabrielle said wearily.
The witch returned to find the young blonde asleep, sitting on the floor next to the dark-haired warrior. Her head rested on the bed next to sleeping woman's shoulder. The witch draped a blanket over Gabrielle's shoulders and watched over the two women as they slept.
Many candlemarks later, Gabrielle awoke, relieved to see Xena sleeping comfortably. "You look like you could use some breakfast." The bard turned to face the woman seated at the table across the room.
"You have been so kind, thank you." The woman motioned for her to sit in a chair. Gabrielle smoothed her hair away from her face. "I must be a sight."
"It looks like you and your friend have been through quite a trial. My name is Ariel." She offered her hand graciously. The bard shook it lightly.
"I'm Gabrielle and my friend is Xena."
"… Xena, I have heard that name." The bard glanced up defensively, waiting for her reaction. The witch's expression was neutral. "Please fix yourself a plate and tell me your problem."
She briefly related the story. The telling weighed heavily on her as she relived the painful memories. Gabrielle was near tears. "Can you help her?"
"Maybe, the chances are good. She looks to be very strong and that will help." Ariel's optimistic words washed over her, calming her jittery nerves.
"The warrior is fortunate to have such a caring companion." The woman's kindness put Gabrielle at ease. "I'm the lucky one. I... I don't know what I would do without her."
"It must have been very difficult for you to keep your feelings from her, under the circumstance." Ariel's sympathetic expression confirmed her understanding of the situation.
"I love her so much. I don't know if I can hide it any more." Vocalizing her feelings caused a dam to break in Gabrielle. She began to cry. Ariel took the fragile woman in her arms, rocking her gently until she stopped.
A moan from Xena got their attention. "I think your warrior is waking up. I would like you to wait outside. I'll take care of her. When we have finished, I'll send her out." Ariel knew what was to come would be very unpleasant and wanted to spare the young woman.
"I…I can't leave. I need to be here for her." Gabrielle firmly stood her ground.
The witch placed a reassuring hand on the bard's shoulder. "It will be all right. You have to trust me. I need to work alone if you want your friend to get better." Gabrielle nodded and got up reluctantly. Hesitating at the door, she looked back one last time.
Xena jumped to her feet and looked around the room frantically. "Where's Gabrielle?" she demanded.
"Gabrielle is fine."
The warrior shifted uncomfortably, looking for the exit. Her body trembling. "Where is she?" Xena asked forcefully, a desperate edge to her voice.
"She's waiting outside," Ariel answered calmly.
The warrior rubbed her arms as if she were overcome with a chill. Gabrielle could give her relief. Gabrielle could release her from this torment. She headed toward the exit.
Ariel stepped between her and the doorway. Xena's eyes became menacing. "I have to go to her!" She warned, "Get out of my way!" The warrior raised her arm to strike the frail looking woman. But something in the witch's eyes stopped her. "I need her." She pleaded. "I don't want to hurt you."
Ariel held up a vial of amber liquid. "I have something that will help you."
"Get out of my way," Xena repeated, threatening to push past the fragile figure.
"And what will you force her to do when you find her? She has been through quite enough. If you care about your friend, you will drink this."
Xena stopped and turned to face the woman, a battle raging within her. She was trembling with need.
The witch spoke in a soothing voice. "Drink this and you will have the relief you crave."
Xena grabbed the vial and drank the contents down in one gulp. She was overcome with dizziness. Head swimming, she dropped to her knees. The warrior gasped as her throat suddenly closed off, blocked by some thick, unyielding tubular object. She couldn't breathe. Helplessly, she clutched at her neck. She began to swoon from the lack of oxygen, her strength slipping away. Completely defenseless, she sensed death was imminent. Gabrielle would at last be free of her. Xena closed her eyes and envisioned the beautiful bard, determined her last image would be of her friend.
Ariel waited for her to weaken to the point of unconsciousness, then stepped behind her. In a quick motion she wrapped her wiry arms around Xena's waist and forced the air from the warrior's stomach through her blocked windpipe. A cloud of red dust filled the air, swirling ominously until it gradually dissipated. Xena took in great gulps of air until her breathing stabilized.
"How do you feel?"
Xena took a quick inventory. "Better, I think."
"Here, sit down and rest for a moment." The warrior eased herself down into the chair. An incredible weariness came over her and she drifted off.
She opened her eyes and cried out Gabrielle's name. Ariel was sitting beside her.
"Gabrielle's safe. She is waiting outside. You were only asleep a few minutes. It is part of the healing."
"The enchantment is broken?" Xena asked in disbelief.
"Yes, your will is your own, for better or worse."
"I don't know how to thank you." Relief coursed through the warrior.
"You have a good friend in that young woman, I hope you will treat her well. She has more than earned it." Ariel smiled wistfully.
Xena shook her head in acknowledgment. She was filled with dread at the thought of facing her friend. The shame she felt was all-encompassing. Although she knew she should go to her friend, she was paralyzed with fear. She could not imagine Gabrielle choosing to stay with her after her appalling behavior. The bard had glimpsed a part of her she hoped never to reveal.
Ariel watched the warrior struggle with her thoughts. "You shouldn't keep her waiting. She was very concerned."
Xena stood on shaky legs and turned to find Gabrielle.
The bard was pacing nervously outside the cave when Xena approached her. She glanced anxiously at her companion. "Is everything okay?"
Xena looked at Gabrielle, an odd expression on her face. There were no words to express what she felt. "I'm fine. Thanks... I…"
In an effort to put her friend at ease, the bard laid her hand on Xena's shoulder and gave it a encouraging squeeze. "I'm just happy you are all right."
The warrior shrank from her touch. Gabrielle stepped back, wounded by her reaction. "I... I... have to go back," Xena stuttered. Abruptly she turned and disappeared inside.
In that instant, Gabrielle knew that things would never be the same between them. Something fragile had been broken and could not be repaired. It was obvious Xena could not forgive her for her actions. There was only one thing to do.
After a few moments, the bard solemnly followed her inside. The warrior was alone, slumped in a chair next to the bed. She immediately straightened when she noticed the bard.
"I wanted to talk to Ariel," Gabrielle said quietly.
Xena stood up nervously, carefully avoiding eye contact. "She left." The warrior's voice was void of emotion. "Maybe we should be going too."
Gabrielle shifted uncomfortably, digging deep within to summon the courage she required. "Xena, I can't go with you. I… I can't travel with you anymore."
The warrior inhaled deeply as she absorbed the impact of her friend's words. She starred at the ground, wishing she could disappear. It was her nightmare come true. Gabrielle had glimpsed the darkness within her and decided to leave.
"I don't blame you." Xena's voice trembled as she fought to keep her emotions from overwhelming her. "I... I know how difficult this has been. The way I… behaved… I'm so sorry… for everything… I… I understand." She swallowed hard, biting back her pain.
"No, I don't think you do." Gabrielle couldn't let her take the blame for events that had been out of her control. The pain she saw in Xena's eyes weighed heavy on her conscious. She steeled her nerve and tried to put the words together. "It… it's not what you think." She took a shuddering breath. Even though now there was nothing to lose, the words still caught in her throat. "I'm in love with you. I have been for some time." Her hands trembled. "I desire you… But there's no magical cure for me."
Xena looked at her in disbelief. "Why didn't you tell me? I..."
"I knew you didn't feel the same. I was afraid it would ruin our friendship, that I would lose you completely. And then after Ares… I felt like I had taken advantage of you, used you. I couldn't bear for you to know. I... I have felt so guilty. Gods, what you must think of me." Tears overflowed the bard's eyes. Xena took a step toward her.
"I... I have to leave. I can't bear being near you feeling the way I do. Not after everything..." Gabrielle stepped back clumsily. "I… I can't sleep. You haunt my dreams. I... have such a need…" She stopped suddenly, embarrassed by her admission. When at last she summoned the courage to look at her friend the anguish she saw in the warrior's eyes cut her deeply. "I can't bear your pity. Please… just go." She turned away, choking back her tears.
Xena searched for words to explain the inner battle she'd been fighting. Her declaration came out a strangled whisper. "Gabrielle, there's no cure for me either."
The bard turned to face her, not believing her ears. "I... I don't understand."
"When I came out of the cave and heard your voice… I felt..." Xena paused, gathering the strength to speak her heart. "I felt such love, such desire..." She quickly diverted her eyes. "I went back to see the witch because I thought her cure didn't work."
Shyly meeting her gaze, she continued. "I felt less desperate and more in control, but as soon as I saw you, I wanted you all over again. That hadn't changed. I went back to tell her the potion had failed. The witch insisted it had worked perfectly… that what I was feeling was real. She said the enchantment had broken down my defenses, allowed me to face what had always been in my heart, feelings I had buried. Gabrielle, It's true… I've known for a long time that I was in love with you."
For a few moments, an awkward silence hung between them. Xena was the one to break it. "I know I have no right to ask any more of you, but I love you with all my heart. I... I need you. Please don't leave me. Not now." She bit her lip nervously. "This is new for me. If you give me a chance I promise, I'll give this my best effort."
"Oh, Xena." Tears of happiness streamed down the young woman's cheeks. The warrior reached out and lovingly wiped them away. With a will of their own her fingers tangled in the bard's hair, reveling in its silkiness. The warrior leaned in and inhaled the intoxicating scent. She moaned in pleasure.
The sound stirred something deep within the bard. She melted into Xena's touch.
Gabrielle's obvious willingness to surrender, to be taken, stirred the warrior's passion beyond her wildest dreams. Xena reined in her desire, determined this would be a tender seduction. There would be time later, time to show her things she knew would drive the young woman beyond her understanding of ecstasy. She thrilled at the idea of using her vast experience to give pleasure to the young woman she loved so deeply.
The warrior's hand settled gently at the base of Gabrielle's neck. Excitement coursed through the bard at the contact. Her breath caught in her throat as Xena bent toward her. This was real. The bard's heart raced at the first touch of the warrior's lips to her own. Her mouth opened in response, releasing a moan. When their tongues touched, she felt a burning heat all the way to her core.
The warrior spread her hand across the small of the young woman's back, pulling her close. Close enough for Gabrielle to feel her need, to leave no doubt about her intent. The young woman quivered with desire. "Yes... ohhh yes..." Her voice was filled with passion.
Xena's strong arms surround her, lifting her gently onto the bed. Gracefully she eased down beside her. The need in Gabrielle's eyes urged her on. Hypnotized by the sensual rise and fall of her chest, she slowly untied the laces of the bard's top. The young woman's beauty took her breath away. A sigh escaped the warrior's lips. Tentatively her fingers traced the swell of each breast.
The mere anticipation of Xena's touch caused her nipples to hardened. She groaned as the warrior's fingers deliberately avoided them, slowly moving lower. The bard's belt, skirt and undergarments were quickly discarded as Xena's hands followed the curve of Gabrielle's hips, grazing the golden patch of hair between her legs. The gentle pressure of her thumbs parted her lips, revealing a glistening moisture.
Xena closed her eyes. Breathing deeply, she took in her lover's scent. In a fluid motion, she pulled her tunic over her head and focused once again on her lover. She lowered herself, the full length of her body pressed needfully against Gabrielle. The young woman shivered at the contact and moaned as the warrior recaptured her mouth. The heat was consuming, never-ending.
She gasped as the warrior's lips descended, mercilessly teasing her nipple before hungrily closing on it. Gabrielle had never experienced anything like this. The intensity made her dizzy. While Xena's mouth feasted on her breasts, the warrior's hand moved toward the heat radiating from her center. She eagerly spread her legs.
The warrior was thrilled by the slippery softness that awaited her. Gabrielle gasped as Xena's strong fingers slid across her wetness.
Carefully avoiding her clitoris, Xena gently guided a finger inside her lover. It immediately met with resistance. She searched the young woman's eyes, requesting permission.
The bard gazed back lovingly. "Please... I want it to be you... It's always been you…"
"Oh, Gabrielle," Xena pulled her into her arms and held her tightly. She desperately needing to communicate how much this gift meant to her. When words failed her, she revealed the depth of her love with her kiss.
The bard trembled in her embrace. The warrior's kiss was searing. Before she could recover, she felt Xena's fingers glide across her sex. The sensation took her breath away. The warrior carefully pressed into her. Gabrielle cried out in a blend of ecstasy and pain as the thin membrane surrendered to the pressure.
Xena's finger created a delicious friction as it caressed her inner walls. The warrior's rhythm was slow and deliberate as her long digit slid back and forth in fluid motions. She groaned as Xena eased out, emptying her and clutched desperately at the blankets The desire to be filled consumed her. As if sensing her need, the warrior once again slid deep inside. Gabrielle cried out in pleasure, her hips rising off the bed to give herself fully to each fluid motion. All the while, Xena's thumb teased her aroused clitoris, her rhythm unrelenting.
The bard was delirious with pleasure. She moaned unrestrained, her arousal reaching a fevered peak. There was no holding back. The orgasm rolled through her in great waves. She clung to Xena tightly as she fell over the precipice, exploding in sensation. At the crest, the warrior thrust deep inside her. The tip of her finger stroking the sensitive nerves of her inner wall. Gabrielle moaned in ecstasy as the warrior drew out her climax, testing the limits of her endurance. She murmured Xena's name over and over as she dissolved blissfully into her lover's arms.
Gabrielle knew she was forever changed. A part of her had merged with the warrior. Xena held her close, whispering words of love until she drifted to sleep. They slept long and hard, a tangle of limbs entwined together… just as their hearts were.
The bard was the first to awaken, her head pillowed on the softness of the warrior's breast. The happiness she felt was indescribable. It was so right, so perfect. She would endure Tartarus to be with this woman. Xena was her destiny.
Gabrielle marveled at the sound of their hearts beating in time. She lay on side, her leg draped across her lover's taut abdomen. The fingers of her left hand were firmly laced with Xena's. She felt as if she had died and gone to the Elysian Fields.
She contemplated what would happen when the warrior awoke. Would she want to make love? Gabrielle desperately hoped she would. Would Xena hunger for her touch as she had under the enchantment? The bard prayed to any gods who might be listening that she could bring the warrior pleasure. She hoped that what she had read would be enough, that she could make Xena feel a fraction of the ecstasy she had experienced at the warrior's hand. Gabrielle longed to discover Xena's deepest desires. She was willing to do anything and everything to please her lover.
Slowly the warrior began to stir. Nervous with anticipation and concerned about the warrior's initial reaction, Gabrielle looked anxiously into the brilliant blue eyes. Xena smiled. Her loving expression was unmistakable. The bard took a relieved breath as her tension melted away.
"Good morning. You're awake early." Xena commented, allowing her eyes to take in the naked bard. Without hesitation she leaned in to taste the bard's lips. They were soft, warm and yielding.
"I didn't want to miss anything," Gabrielle replied as she took a deep breath, trying to steady her racing heart.
"Hmmm, you thought you could sleep through my caresses?" Xena's eyes were filled with mischief. She ran a finger lightly down Gabrielle's neck, sending shocks through the younger woman. Her touch was so erotic that it warmed her skin on contact.
"Well no, I... ahhh, with you near me, I don't know if I will ever be able to sleep again."
"Oh, I think I can put you to sleep without much trouble, or have you forgotten?" The warrior winked.
Gabrielle tried to find her voice. "No, I could never forget that." Her were words barely a whisper. She raised her hand nervously to push back a stray lock of hair.
"And neither can I, my..." The warrior stopped mid-sentence as she felt the bards arm accidentally brush her nipple.
The young woman noted her lover's sharp intake of breath with great interest. In that instant, she realized her own power. "I seem to recall putting you to sleep once also." She smiled. Her new found confidence asserting itself.
The memory of her wanton lust for the bard made the warrior blush. She observed the playful change in the bard's eyes and smiled, arching a brow. "Mmmm yes, I remember."
The deep, sultry tone of Xena's voice drew her in. Gabrielle gently pushed the dark-haired woman onto her back and straddled her. Slowly her lips descended, her tongue inquisitive, probing. The kiss was a union of body and soul. It went on and on leaving them dizzy. Xena moaned when the bard finally pulled back.
Gabrielle let her hands glide down the warrior's bronze arms. Her skin was soft, resilient. The bard's eyes admired her lover's firm breasts. She lightly brushed the small nipples with her thumbs and thrilled as they hardened in response to her touch. Xena took a deep breath and close her eyes.
The young woman smiled and traced small circles around the hardened points. Xena arched into her touch. The warrior's reaction urged Gabrielle on. She firmly grasped the erect nipples and pulled them softly. Xena gasped, and locked her hands around the bard's waist.
"You have such beautiful breasts. I love the way they respond to my touch." Gabrielle rolled the sensitive nipples between her thumbs and index fingers, squeezing them. Xena's eyes closed. Her head fell to the side as she moaned with delight.
She pinched the warrior's nipples firmly and stopped all motion. Patiently, she waited for the warrior's eyes to open. When they did, Gabrielle saw what she had hope for. Xena's need burned like a flame. The bard lowered her voice and spoke seductively. "I'm going to make love to you... slowly." Her fingers began working the warrior's breasts once again.
Xena breathed heavily as her arousal surged. "Yes, please, yesss..."
Gabrielle bent to take an aching nipple into her mouth. Her tongue twirled around it, savoring the taste and texture. Xena moaned loudly, her hands grasping the bard's head in an effort to control her. The bard immediately stopped her ministrations and grasped the warrior's wrists, pinning them above her head. She watched Xena intently, gauging her reaction.
"Don't move... or I'll stop." She warned.
The undiluted lust she saw in the blue of the warrior's eyes made her stomach flutter wildly. Xena's fingers dug into the blankets overhead and gripped them tightly.
The bard rewarded her lover with a kiss. The warrior's lips yielded instantly. Her young lover's tongue entered her mouth for only a moment, purposely not giving Xena the full, sensual contact she longed for. When she broke the kiss, the warrior groaned.
Gabrielle's mouth was on her neck now, gently biting. Again, she took a nipple into her mouth, nipping it lightly. Xena's breathing was labored and her moans grew louder. The bard's hands took over, tormenting the warrior's nipples as her mouth began a slow journey down Xena's quivering abdomen.
The bard thought back to the warrior's fervent pleas by the camp fire and smiled. "I think you're about to find out what MY tongue can do," she said wickedly as she pushed Xena's legs apart, positioning herself between them.
"Gods Gabrielle, pleeeese." The warrior's hips were writhing, the anticipation torturous.
"Shhhhh, not yet," She slowly lowered her mouth to her lover's dark triangle and blew lightly against the moist lips. The warrior was beside herself with desire. It was all she could do not use her powerful hands to guide her lover where she needed her most.
With the lightest touch of her fingertips, the bard stroked between Xena's legs. The warrior raised her hips, desperately trying to increase the pressure against her heated center. "Please...." Xena groaned loudly.
Gabrielle was enjoying every moment of Xena's torment. "You're so wet, so hot." Her sensual tone caused the warrior's pulse to quicken. She could feel the moisture building, collecting in her sex.
"I know you're ready." Xena spread her legs wider to show just how ready she was. Gabrielle's tongue licked at the inside of her thigh. Above the blanket tore. The bard smiled.
"I can't wait to taste you, to feel you climax." Xena released her breath in a low hiss, the bard's words exciting her beyond anything. She moaned as she felt her lover's hot tongue trace her labia, sampling the smoothness of her inner folds.
Gently, Gabrielle stroked the length of her, only briefly teasing the engorged nub that throbbed for attention. She continued her loving caresses until Xena's moans turned to cries. Without changing her rhythm, she slid two fingers deeply into the warrior and pumped slowly, deliberately curling her fingers against the sensitive spot deep inside.
Xena thrashed so wildly that Gabrielle had to use her left hand to hold her steady. As she focused her attention fully on her hardened clit, the warrior began to tremble. A long low cry tore from her throat as she exploded in orgasm. Her body arched as her climax shot through her like a jolt of electricity. She stiffened then shuddered as a series of spasms coursed through her. It was long moments before her body went slack.
But, Gabrielle was not done. She stilled her tongue but remained pressed firmly against her sex. Deep inside, her fingers continued stroking her tight walls in a gentle teasing motion. The warrior felt the clear intent of her lover's fingers. The bard wanted more. To do it, would make her utterly vulnerable. She would be giving Gabrielle what she had never given another: control.
The love she had for the bard was unparalleled. She set her mind free, releasing it from its constant vigil and embraced the trust she felt for this miraculous young woman. A calm washed over her as she gave in to Gabrielle's tender loving, allowing herself to truly surrender.
Gabrielle noticed the subtle change--- a softening, a nearly imperceptible shift. At that moment, she knew the warrior was hers. She felt Xena open to her like a flower. Her tongue moved gently to drink in her nectar, moving slowly across her lover's delicate flesh. She felt the warrior's hips begin to rock ever so slightly to the rhythm of her gentle caresses.
Her tongue began an erotic dance around Xena's anxious sex, the gentle strokes gradually becoming more insistent. Gabrielle could feel the warrior's arousal growing, an immense energy refusing to be contained. With a forceful thrust, She gave her release. Xena screamed, not holding anything back as a second orgasm rolled through her. A myriad of colors burst before her eyes. Her body shook uncontrollably.
The bard slowed but did not stop her ministrations. She marveled at the stamina of her powerful lover. How many more times could she climax? The bard did not intend to stop until she had the answer.
Her young lover was relentless and infinitely patient. Each time the climax plummeted Xena screaming over the edge, Gabrielle pulled her back only to release her again and again. The aftershocks increased after each climax, eventually, leaving the warrior's body quaking helplessly. The intensity overwhelmed Xena and she burst into tears. Gabrielle took her in her arms and rocked her gently, softly murmuring her unending devotion.
The warrior had never felt so loved. She was forever changed.
Gabrielle was up hours before Xena. She had never seen the warrior sleep so hard. At last, she saw her stir and sat on the bed beside her with a mug of hot tea. "Hello, sleepy. You were really out of it."
Xena sat up smiling wryly. "It's no wonder, after what you did to me. Gods, Gabrielle, I have never..."
"Was it good then?" The bard questioned, sincere in her innocence.
"It was like nothing I have ever..." She detected the anxiety in her lover's expression. "It was good, Gabrielle, very, very good."
The young woman dove into her arms, grinning from ear to ear. "For me too! Isn't this wonderful? I knew it could be like this for us."
"Yes, it's wonderful, You're wonderful." Xena smiled and shook her head in disbelief. "Don't you ever get tired?"
"I've wanted you for so long... something came over me. I... I just couldn't get enough." She looked away shyly. The warrior hugged her fiercely.
Gabrielle looked at her thoughtfully and smiled. "My mouth is my trade just like fighting is yours."
"Well, my bard, your tongue rivals my sword any day." She winked and smiled at her mate.
"I love it when you call me 'your bard'. I like feeling I belong with you."
"I like that feeling too." Xena kissed her passionately. There were many, many things she could teach her young lover.
Much later that afternoon, they began to pack up their things, readying to leave. "Can we stop to see Ephiny? I want to let her know you're okay."
"Sure, after what we've been through, I think we are ready for another break."
Xena mounted Argo and looked thoughtfully at the bard. Taking a deep breath, she posed the question she dreaded the answer to. "Gabrielle, just how did you become so... so knowledgeable?"
The bard couldn't stop the heat from rising to her face. She didn't want to embarrass Xena by revealing her conspiracy with Ephiny. "Well... I made some observations... learned a few things along the way and tried to make them work for me, that's all." She looked away shyly, worried her answer would not suffice.
Xena smiled at the young woman's attempt to dodge her question. In the end, she would know everything. She had very pleasurable ways of extracting the information from the reluctant bard. Her mind flashed to Gabrielle's expression when she tossed the leather straps into her lap. "Yeah, I made some observations along the way too, maybe they can work for me as well." She winked and urged Argo on.
They headed in the direction of the Amazon village, both eager to try out more of what they had learned.
Copyrighted October 1997 by Friction
Continue on to the sequel Enchanted Again?