Author: Tareena
Story Title: Hurtful Memories
Characters: Xena & Hercules
Rating: NC-17
Summary: After witnessing a distressing massacre, Xena reflects on her past and needs to be consoled by Hercules.
This rating is for explicit m/f sex and violence.

Any characters belonging to the XWP or HTLJ networks that appear in this story do not belong to me.

There are depictions of graphic violence and sex between two consenting adults in this story {X/H} so if you are under 18 or this is illegal where you live then please leave now. I believe that Xena and Gabrielle have a very strong friendship and nothing else so please be aware of that when reading this story. Enjoy!


Hurtful Memories
by Tareena

The tavern was the main building in this small town, so naturally it got all the income, drunks, and its fair share of brawls. The atmosphere didn't seem to bother Xena but Gabrielle felt uneasy, especially after a fat ugly man tried to chat her into going to bed with him. Xena quickly dispatched of him though, broken nose and all, and after that everyone seemed to know better than to confront either of them. Xena was casually sculling her ale whilst Gabrielle ate her soup and bread.

"Good food here, Xen…"

Gabrielle was interrupted as a man frantically ran into the tavern. He was bloody and sporting a couple of broken bones. His hair was slicked to his head with a combination of dirt and blood, his clothes were torn and stained, as if he had been attacked and repeatedly dunked in a pot of mud.

To top it off, he wore a wild look on his face - his eyes were wide and his skin pale under all the grime. He was mumbling repeatedly and incoherently. Xena put her ale down on the table and ran over quickly as he collapsed onto his knees. She lay him down, noticing that he was trembling and frothing at the mouth.

"I'll need some water, new clothes, bandages, salve…."

 She started to list her requirements as members of the tavern staff scrambled to fetch things, confused and not knowing what else to do. Gabrielle stood, staff in hand and walked over to Xena. A complete lull shrouded the tavern; even the drunks were quiet. As Xena looked up at her face, she saw Gabrielle was pale and obviously shocked at the state of this man.

"Sit down, finish your soup, I'll fix him up." Xena stated.

"But Xena…."

"No, Gabrielle," Xena interrupted her.

She stood and lifted the man, and stumbled up the stairs to their room to place him on the bed. Several tavern staff followed her with what she had requested. Gabrielle turned and sat back down at the table, and stared straight ahead as she ladled her soup into her mouth in a state of delirium and shock.

    *  *  *

Xena headed down the stairs, exertion plain on her face. As she walked over to the table where Gabrielle sat, the whole tavern silenced and she felt many eyes focused on her.

Turning, she said, "he's fine, in shock and he'll take a few days to recover, but he'll be fine…physically."

She sat down, opposite Gabrielle, and the tavern resumed its rowdiness, but at a considerably lower volume.

"Are you alright?" She asked, concern for her friend in her strong voice.

Gabrielle nodded and looked up at Xena.

"Thank-you…for letting me get over this, I just…I guess he shocked me a bit."

Xena nodded knowingly.

"He was slightly delirious but I managed to understand some of what he said."

Gabrielle looked up at Xena as she continued.

"He was mumbling about a massacre at his village, Cryptos. It's about a day from here."

"Then that's where we're headed," responded Gabrielle, affirming Xena's unspoken question.

She reached over for her staff and stood up, ready to head out. "I've paid for the food already."

Xena nodded and stood beside her friend. As they were about to head out the door, an Amazon ran in and almost collided with Xena. Xena managed to dodge but the amazon swiveled around to look up at her.

"I…I'm so sorry, Xena," she apologized, fear evident in her voice. Xena was slightly amused at this young Amazon's fear of her. "You know me?" she asked in a commanding fashion, enjoying the Amazon's discomfort.

"I have heard of you. I come bearing a message for Queen Gabrielle."

"Let's speak outside then, shall we?"

Xena moved outside closely followed by Gabrielle, the Amazon and the stares of the tavern's occupants.

Once in the stables Xena started to saddle Argo. Realizing that Xena was leaving the conversation up to her in her usual fashion, Gabrielle started to talk to the Amazon who relaxed after a while.

"I have a message from the Regent Ephiny." Noticing Gabrielle's sudden interest she continued. "You are needed urgently to settle some affairs between the Amazon nations. As the Queen is needed for these procedures, Ephiny cannot continue without you."

After a brief silence Xena added, "well, looks like we're going to Amazonia then doesn't it."

"No, Xena. We can't just abandon that village."

"Alright, we'll have to split up then. Will you be alright to get to Amazonia by yourself?"

Gabrielle stared at Xena with a malicious look in her eyes. "I am NOT a baby Xena. I have picked up a few things travelling with you, you know. Besides, I'm not alone." She said as she gave a pointed glance at the young Amazon.

Xena scoffed but replied, "I'm sorry Gabrielle. We'll meet up in about a week then? I'll meet you there."

"Alright," Gabrielle said brightly, overcoming her anger. "Good luck, Xena."

"You too."

They both headed off in opposite directions determined to do good as always.

    *  *  *

Xena could see the village up ahead; it was strangely quiet, abnormal for a village of this size. Xena dismounted quietly and led Argo past the bordering buildings and into the Village Square. She heard faint footsteps behind her. Alert as always, she let go of Argo's reigns, drew her sword and swung around to face her would-be attacker. Only to find Hercules standing at the end of her sword looking amusedly at her.

"So much for 'Hello Hercules.' I suppose I should know better than to sneak up behind you," he said, barely able to contain his grin. Xena sheathed her sword and hit him on the arm.

Smiling as well by now, she added, "you deserved that."

Unable to contain themselves any longer they both laughed.

"Good to see you, Hercules."

"You too, Xena. Where's Gabrielle?"

"Amazon business. We met a guy from this town, he said there was a massacre. I came to check it out."

"Me too. I ran into some thugs not far from here. Iolaus is visiting his mother. I didn't
want to intrude on their family time."

Xena smiled. "Well, this village is much too quiet. Something has definitely gone on here."

"I agree. Shall we check it out?"

Xena nodded and patted Argo on the neck. "Be on your guard girl," she whispered into the horse's ear. Argo whinnied in response.

Smiling at Xena's relationship with her horse, Hercules came to stand beside her. "I'll try over here," he said, pointing to the tavern and a cluster of other small buildings to his right.

Xena nodded and headed off to the other side of the town. After a short while, Xena headed back to the square after searching the buildings but finding nothing. Seeing Hercules was still busy, she headed for a large stable, which was obviously communal judging by its size. She sheathed her sword and heaved open the doors. She gasped and stiffened as she saw what they barn contained.

About fifty people, probably the citizens, where inside the barn. The men had been hung from the low rafters and the women and children lay in heaps on the ground, all ruthlessly slaughtered.  She scanned their faces. The men's were blue, the result of a broken neck and lack of blood flow due to the hanging. The women had been slain were they stood and had been left. Xena guessed that they had probably been made to watch the murder of their husbands and family. Some of the women were naked and bloody - the signs of rape. As she saw the children, some as young as two, dead, murdered ruthlessly, she turned quickly and strode out of the barn.

She stood, clinging to the door and breathing in air as she recovered from the sight of this atrocity. Few things had an effect on her but the way these people, women and children, had been ruthlessly slaughtered turned even her stomach.

She raised her head as she saw Hercules approach. The worry was evident on his face as he saw her, pale and clinging to the door for support. He placed his hand on her shoulder, a questioning look on his face. She stood up straight and turned. As she opened the door, he saw the cause of her grief - a massacre, worse than he had ever seen before. He turned quickly and gasped. Xena raised her head at his sharp intake of breath and saw that he was as sickened as she was.

"We can't just leave them," she said quietly, feeling the need to break the silence.

Hercules nodded.

"The easiest way would be to burn the barn. Maybe we should check for survivors first."

"There won't be any. I met one at the last village, if there were any, they escaped, but they would be very few."

After a short silence, they both set off to find firewood, to set small fires around the barn.
As it was by itself and not close enough for flames to reach any other building, after they had lit it, they left to find a suitable spot to stay for the night.

    *  *  *

From their camp, Xena could see the faint light of the burning barn in the valley below. They had set up camp and had a campfire of their own but she could not tear her gaze away from the distant blaze. Seeing this, Hercules realized that he had to speak.

"Xena…would you like to talk about it?"

Xena's head shot up to meet his worried glance. She quickly looked into the campfire. "I'm sorry," she said, giving away no emotion.

Hercules realized that this was going to be more difficult than he had thought. She had withdrawn; it was her way of dealing with things. He stood and walked around the fire to sit next to her. She was unsure, so kept her gaze on the fire. Hercules sighed.

"I know this must be difficult for you," he said, unable to go on for a moment. After a brief pause he continued. "I realize that you deal with things in your own way but…I'm willing to listen if you want to talk."

Xena raised her eyes from the fire to look at Hercules. He was obviously worried about her.

She sighed heavily, "I can't guarantee that this is going to help, Hercules." Hercules smiled and nodded.

Xena let out a breath she didn't realise she was holding. "When I started out as a warlord, just after my village was destroyed, I realised that my village would never accept me. My army was made up of the villagers that I had managed to get to fight with me. They were weak, I decided that the only way to harden them up was to make them kill. We plundered a village, much like this; I made the soldiers hang the men. I lined some of them up and my soldiers went along and killed them in cold blood. We let all the women and children go, though. I just…it's just like what I did but much, much worse." There was an awkward silence for a while. Eventually Xena said, "did you see those children Hercules?"

When he didn't answer she continued anyway. "Imagine what they must have gone through, to see their fathers murdered, their mothers raped and slaughtered and then to be slaughtered themselves, they don't deserve that kind of suffering."

Hearing her voice waver as if she was about to cry, Hercules reached his arm out and hugged her. Xena stiffened but then warmed to his embrace and rested her head on his shoulder.

"It's not fair," he whispered, trying to console her.

"What bothers me most is that I destroyed thousands of lives in that very way. Innocent people saw their friends and family slaughtered by a blood-thirsty…animal."

Hercules realized what she was going through and felt he needed to say something. Desperately he said, "Xena, that was a long time ago, you've changed now. You're a different person."

She seemed unconvinced and didn't move. He unconsciously kissed the top of her head to try to console her. Realizing what he had done, he felt a blush rise to his cheeks. Xena stiffened, but then relaxed, as he didn't let go. She raised her head to look into his face. As she searched his eyes he said, somewhat breathlessly, "don't ever lose that confidence and fire that I love about you, Xena."

Her eyes widened. "Did you say love?"

Hercules searched for words. He had spoken his mind, as he often did. He had strong feelings for Xena, but was too afraid to admit to them. But looking into her beautiful, radiant eyes, he felt he owed her the truth.

"Yeah, I guess I did," he said in a whisper.

Xena smiled that beautiful smile and he could see tears welling up in her eyes. Suddenly aware that he still had his arms around her, he pulled them away. She moved her chin upward, so that their lips were a hair's breadth away from touching. Moved by need and long-pent desire, he placed his hands on the back of her head and moulded his lips into hers. The simple contact was electric.
Xena moved closer to him and draped her arms around his neck without breaking the kiss.

Suddenly, Hercules pulled away. Xena looked up at his face, suddenly panged with loss.

"Sorry, forgot to breathe," he confessed. She laughed, keeping her hands around his neck, moving so that she was sitting on his lap.

"Are you sure about this, Xena?" he asked her, making sure he wasn't taking advantage of the situation.

"Surer than I've ever been about anything. I love you and I've wanted this for a long time." She confessed, settling his doubts.

Hercules smiled and let himself fall back onto Xena's bedroll. She sat on his stomach and looked down at his handsome face and muscled chest. Xena placed her hands on his chest and slid his shirt off. He raised his shoulders so she could remove it completely. She could feel something pressing against her buttocks. Xena smiled as she realised what it was and Hercules blushed.

"It's a bit too late for shyness now," she said, grinning.

Xena stood and started to remove her armor. Hercules propped himself up on his elbows. Xena could feel herself getting considerably wet and could see the signs of Hercules' arousal, evident by the swell in his pants. This turned Xena on and she made sure that as she bent to remove her boots, he could clearly see her ample cleavage. Hercules swallowed and looked up at the radiant beauty standing before him. She wasn't the regular town beauty; there was something exotic and mysterious about her that excited him. Not that there was anything wrong with her body, she was beautiful and as far as Hercules could see, was quite perfect.

Xena was standing just in her shift and Hercules was aching for her to remove it -  literally. His pants where rather painfully constricting his growing erection. He watched as Xena slid down her underwear, from beneath her shift. She was rather enjoying teasing him. Relenting, she slid down the straps and dropped her shift. Hercules' eyes widened and he gasped and squirmed as he saw her body in all its glory. She was perfect. Her legs were long and tanned and not over-muscular at all, surprising considering her strength. She had curvy hips, a flat stomach and a defined waist. Her breasts were beautiful - large, full and high, with large nipples. He saw her, for the first time, as an extremely feminine woman.

Xena was getting quite aroused by the way Hercules was looking at her. She walked forward and knelt, without breaking eye contact. Hercules quickly reached down and undid his pants and Xena helped him to slide them off, along with his boots.

They were both totally naked by now and extremely aroused. Hercules rolled over and claimed Xena's mouth with his. She ran her hands over his back and down to his buttocks as they kissed and could feel his enormous erection pressing against her stomach. Eventually, he ended the kiss and started to kiss a line along her jawline, then down her neck and between her breasts. She thrust her chest towards him but he ignored her nipples and started to lick her breasts. Xena groaned and dug her fingers into his shoulders, she felt like she would die with need.

Taking her hint, Hercules closed his mouth over one of her nipples, Xena thrust her hips, bringing her groin into contact with his. They both groaned as sensations flooded their bodies. Hercules ran his hands down her stomach and parted her lips with his fingers. Xena shuddered as she felt the cold air against her white-hot bud. Hercules placed two fingers on her sex and could feel that she was soaking wet. Assured that she was ready, he moved back up her body and looked at her face.

Her dark eyelashes fluttered upwards, revealing breathtakingly crystal blue eyes. She smiled at him and he could feel her spread her legs to urge him on. Assured, Hercules gently slid inside her, not wanting to hurt her, after all he didn't just inherit his strength from the gods. He met with no resistance and started to thrust. Xena groaned and wrapped her legs around him. She arched her back and thrust her hips and he could see her breasts move and bounce slightly from her rapid breathing and thrusting.

He became bolder and started to thrust harder and faster. He could feel his pleasure increasing and Xena matched him thrust for thrust. He leant forward and his body brushed her clit sending her spiraling to the heights of passion. Hercules momentarily stopped thrusting, more for her sake than his, he was almost bursting with need. As she opened her eyes she thrust her hips to urge him to go on, Xena could sense his need. He started thrusting again and this time, as he grasped her breast and claimed her mouth with his own, they climbed to the heights of passion together. Hercules gently withdrew himself and lay beside Xena, her chest still heaving from the experience. Xena rolled over and propped herself up on one arm, to look at Hercules.

"I love you, Xena," he said as he gently brushed the stray strands of hair away from her face.

"I love you too, Hercules."

Hercules smiled and reached for his coat to cover them both. They fell asleep, Xena with her head on Hercules' chest and leg wrapped around his and his arms around her shoulders, happier than they had ever been.

The End

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