Author: Klancy7
Story Title: Ides of March Revisited
Characters: Xena/Gabrielle, Xena & various centurions, Gabrielle & various centurions
Rating: NC-17
Summary: Ugly gang-scene written to burn off Klancy's angst after end of 'Ides'.
This rating is for explicit f/f and m/f sex, bdsm, sexual violence and gang-rape.

The characters belong to Studios USA and Renaissance Pictures and were used without permission. No copyright infringement was intended and no money was made.

Please note warning for STRONG non-consensual sex. Really. With men and everything. Watching those damn crucifixions took a lot out of me, and I used this story to work out pent-up angst, so it is ug-lee. This picks up in the cell scene. I thought the things the lead characters said to each other in the script needed to be said, so assume they already have been. I've just taken the liberty of adding a few more lines of dialogue, and then twisting the outcome of the scene all to fuck and gone.

You can find more of Klancy7's stories at her web site Klancy7 Fan Fiction and at XENADOM.

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Ides of March Revisited
by Klancy7

"It won't be long now."

Gabrielle acknowledged the centurion's warning with a glance. Then she rested her head back on the pillar, and returned her gaze to the woman lying in her lap. Her hand moved in soothing circles across Xena's waist.

The warrior had been fading in and out for awhile. She'd taken several telling blows in the yard, even before the chakram Callisto cast nearly crippled her. Gabrielle shuddered at the memory, the echo of the chakram pounding into Xena's back with a base chime that left her faintly nauseous again.

The bard told herself to get a grip. Worse was coming for them both, even before the horror of the nailing. Stories of the punishments inflicted before crucifixion had wrenched Gabrielle out of deep sleep more than once. Flogging with steel-barbed whips to the point of unconsciousness, for one. Gabrielle closed her eyes, and resolved to pull every string available to a condemned Amazon Queen to see that they were tortured separately.

She bent over Xena and rested her lips against her damp forehead. "Artemis grant us that much," she whispered.

Vivid blue eyes opened abruptly, startling her. "I feel you."

"What?" Gabrielle stammered.

"I feel your hand, Bri."

Gabrielle's fingers stilled for a moment, and then a smile broke over the younger woman's face like sunrise. "Xena -- that means your spine's not severed."

Xena smiled back, but it was a feeble effort.

"It does not mean you should entertain any crazy ideas about moving, however."

Xena lifted an eyebrow, amused by the Amazon-Queen resonance in her young partner's voice. Then her face relaxed into a pleased drowsiness, and they lay quietly for awhile, watching each other.

It had been so long since she'd truly studied Xena's face, Gabrielle thought. Funny, she used to do it constantly, when they were first together. She'd skip backward down a treacherous, sloping path in front of Xena, trying to discern the tall warrior's mood from the slightest flick of dark eyelash. And the effort was worth it; she had learned Xena so well. Not just her facial expressions, but the eloquence in her broad shoulders, her expressive hands. Now the smallest change in the deep music of her voice sent such clear signals, Gabrielle assumed she divined them. She drank in this last chance to imprint her lover in her mind; she would need that sweet distraction, soon.

Xena's eyes moved over the bard's face, enjoying the soft loveliness of her features; a sentimental luxury for a warrior on the brink of execution, but she didn't care. She figured this was the best possible way to spend the time they had left, and she wouldn't waste it on machisma.

"I've watched you grow up," Xena said.

"You've helped me grow up."

Xena shook her head, making a mental note that that small movement, at least, did not bring on any killing pain. "Not so much as you think, Gabrielle. I'd love to take full credit for shaping such -- an amazing young woman. But your Artemis would smite me for slander." Xena smiled and shifted, and the smile became a rictus as a spasm of pain shook her. Her sprawled body tightened in the bard's arms, and Gabrielle strengthened her own hold around her bruised shoulders.

"Xena! I saw that chakram hit you, okay?" As always under this kind of pressure, Gabrielle's fear emerged as anger. "I heard that chakram hit you. I can still hear it hit you, now stop jerking yourself around, and lie still."

The terse command gave Xena something to focus on until she got the pain under control. Finally she lay still in Gabrielle's lap again, relaxed, but shivering. The cell was cold.

"I'm just saying," Xena said carefully, "that you turned out very well, I think."

"Thank you." Gabrielle smiled, and her green eyes filled again. She patted Xena's shoulder until her vision cleared. Then she combed her fingers carefully through the dark, tangled hair warming her thigh.

The bard's voice was low and sweet when she spoke again. "Xena. I don't want you to worry about me. I'll be all right. This next part will be over pretty quickly." She nodded in the direction of the snow-shrouded mountain. "We've been afraid of this for so long. It's easier to handle, now it's here. It's not the end, not for us. We'll find each other again, wherever we end up. That's good enough for me."

They both started as they heard the rattling of keys in the rusted lock of the cell. Green eyes met blue ones and held, and Xena lifted her hand to touch the side of Gabrielle's face.

"Too soon," the warrior murmured. Gabrielle nodded, and then closed her eyes on fresh tears as the barred door clanked open.

Their dismal cell had begun to feel like hallowed ground, and the intrusion of the tall centurion was jarring. Xena felt Gabrielle's fingers clench over her shoulder, and she noted their chill. The warrior closed her eyes and tried to prepare herself.

Five of Caesar's soldiers stood just inside the cell door. They carried few weapons and wore no helmets, but each boasted a full complement of shining body armor. The eldest of them reached the two women and and stood at attention, folding one arm behind his back.

"Gabrielle, queen of the eastern tribe of Amazon Nation," the centurion intoned. "You slaughtered eight of our men today. A grievous loss to one of the finest regiments born of holy mother Rome. The time has come to satisfy Roman justice." The man's eyes met Gabrielle's for a moment. "Whether our ranks support the Amazon proposal is immaterial. We have a sentence to carry out."

"You wear Brutus's crest," Xena noted quietly.

The centurion's nod was barely visible. He was middle-aged, but looked older. The scarred condition of his leathers and armor testified to long years of fighting in Caesar's service. It hadn't twisted this one, yet, though, Xena thought, or not entirely. Beneath the demeanor of the professional soldier, something human still flickered in the man's eyes.

"I am Trikus, second in command of Brutus's regiment. Xena of Amphipolis -- twelve of our number fell by your sword in the yard. For this, and nefarious past crimes, Caesar has ordered your crucifixion, and that of your confederate." He turned his gaze on Gabrielle. "My Lord Brutus sends this message to the Amazon Queen. He has no power to commute your sentence, Gabrielle, or that of the warrior princess. But he does have jurisdiction over the punishment inflicted before the sentence is carried out."

Xena felt hope and struggled against it. The sudden tension in the thigh beneath her neck told her Gabrielle realized the implication of the centurion's words as well. The brutality of Rome offered a variety of pre-execution penalties; none were pleasant, but not all were bloody.

"Brutus reminds you that you slaughtered half a battalion," Trikus continued. His voice was unreadable. "There will be punishment, certain and sure. But Brutus has fixed on the penalty he has deemed most fitting. He bid me tell you he prays his instincts are correct." He nodded, curtly. "You have a moment to prepare." He turned and stalked back to the group of huddling soldiers at the cell's entrance.

Xena waited until his shuffling fell silent. Her throat was bone-dry. "Bri. Do you understand?"

"I do." Gabrielle couldn't suppress the tremor in her voice, but she shook her head sharply when Xena looked up at her. "Xena, don't you dare fight them."

"How can I?"

"Xena . . . this is a gift. If we make it one." Gabrielle swallowed. "I don't know if it's intended to be a blessing, from Ares or Artemis --"

"Don't credit Ares with anything resembling compassion, Gabrielle," Xena snapped.

"It doesn't matter." Gabrielle cupped Xena's face in her hand and turned her head carefully. "Listen to me. If this is our fate, we have to accept it. But didn't you teach me we can make what we will of our lives? We still have some power in our hands, Xena, and some choices." The bard's eyes were afraid, but her tone was even. "Better this than a night of torture. I'd rather we were raped than beaten, or branded. That's my choice. And I've made one other."

"Gabri -- " Xena's brow furrowed as she looked up at her partner. "All right. Tell me."

"I'll be doing it for you," Gabrielle said. She hesitated, and then nodded. "Everything that happens to me, everything they -- make me do. It'll be for you, for your pleasure. I owe you so much, Xena. Please, this could be a gift, the last one I can give you. Let me."

"Gabrielle." Xena swallowed and tried for calm. "This is no time to go touchy-feely cryptic, honey -- "

"Will you shut up and listen? Xena, I know you fantasize about it." Gabrielle saw something vulnerable rise in Xena's eyes, and her voice lowered. "Look, I know you'd break the kneecaps of anyone who dared touch me against my will. If you could." Gabrielle paused. "Or you'd hold them while I did it. Anyway. I'm safe with you, Xena. That's why it's all right that you imagine -- forcing me, sometimes. I just wish you'd admitted this a little sooner, to be honest." The smile creeping over Gabrielle's face was half-gamine, half-seductive. "You never learned what I might say -- honey."

"Gabrielle, nice try, but -- "

"They won't hurt me." Gabrielle pressed Xena's shoulders quickly. "I'm hardly a virgin, right? We can do this."

The soldiers had entered the cell, and Gabrielle's smile faded as they surrounded them. "Xena, I love you."

"I love you back, Bri."

"Get them up." Trikus was purely in professional mode, now, and his eyes were dispassionate as his squad surrounded the two women.

Xena tried to brace for the jolt of being lifted off Gabrielle's lap. She was only partially successful, and a grunt of pain escaped her as two of the soldiers grasped the warrior's arms and dragged her upright.

"Hey. Hey!" Gabrielle scrambled to her feet. "You can't yank her around like that -- "

The bard's arms were snatched in burly fists, and she was hauled bodily to the far wall of the cell. Gabrielle jerked herself free and elbowed a soldier aside to see Xena. The warrior was held erect between the two men, her face white with pain.

Trikus began without ceremony. "Strip, girl."

Gabrielle turned to stare at the centurion. The men around them grew silent, but the musty air of the cell pulsed with a dark eagerness. The girl could feel their gazes on the swell of her breasts. She knew Amazons had long inhabited the dark fantasies of most of the military sons of Rome.

Trikus frowned. "You heard me. Strip, Gabrielle, or your garments will be taken from you."

Gabrielle's eyes moved again to Xena's pale face. Not in entreaty, or out of fear, but because she needed something from her lover before she could begin. She found it in Xena's eyes, as she'd found so many answers there -- the cobalt blue of them had gone white-hot. The scathing indifference the tall warrior focused on thin air all but sizzled through the cell. Gabrielle felt herself fill with it, a defiance of the enemy only the doomed can dare, and a savage joy went through her.

The young bard hesitated one more moment, watching the flames dance in the bracketed torches high on the wall, lighting the cold, silent cell. Lighting her. Then Gabrielle's shoulders relaxed, and her green eyes emptied. She reached back and silently untied the rough muslin strip wrapped around her chest. She freed the wrap, and a wash of dank air swept coldly over her naked breasts as she bared them.

The sleepy gray eyes of the soldier next to Gabrielle went vulpine as he saw the full mounds bounce when they escaped the cloth. He stared at the girl's nipples sharpening in the chilled cell, her aureoles pebbling visibly and flushing with color.

They would both hang naked soon, Gabrielle thought, feeling her arms break out anew in gooseflesh. Their clothing would be ripped from them at the base of the cross. Now Gabrielle revealed herself, with her own hands, and not for her captors' pleasure. She dropped the muslin strip, and her cold fingers moved to the swath of material covering her hips.

As she pulled the cloth free, Gabrielle shifted slightly to face the captive warrior as she exposed her softly furred mound. It was a subtle, but deliberate movement, establishing for all concerned the true owner of the goods on the block. The corner of the dark woman's mouth lifted as her gaze moved over her young wife's body.

Gabrielle's nakedness was something exotic, arousing, and sweetly familiar all at once. The delicate lacework of mendhi stood out against the girl's tanned skin, and the sapphire eyes were eerily remote. She stood with her arms graceful and still at her sides, making no effort to cover herself. She was the essence of passive composure.

Xena started in the grip of the two soldiers, and they both tightened their holds. She'd been startled by an unexpected sensation -- a quivering tendril of heat snaking through her belly. She closed her eyes briefly in relief -- then opened them again. What was she grateful for? That feeling might return to her legs by the time the spike crushed the bones in her feet?

Trikus jerked his chin at the two soldiers flanking Gabrielle, and they took hold of her arms again quickly. The two holding Xena promptly lowered her to the ground, stretching her out on her back. Trikus had been in the yard that morning, and he had seen the fury of the younger woman's attack when the warlord fell; he knew to restrain her before her partner was suspended. Gabrielle hadn't resisted the men's hold on her arms until now, but she fought when Xena's wrists were clapped into cuffs linked to heavy chains strung over the floor.

"Trikus!" Gabrielle's tone was sharp -- but with command, as well as fear. "We all know this penalty, and we know what Brutus commanded. You saw what happened to Xena in the yard, she can't be -- "

"Brutus selected your punishment, Gabrielle." Trikus studied the young queen evenly. "He allowed me to choose the warrior's. Up."

The long chains were thrown over a thick beam high in the ceiling, and Xena was pulled erect in grinding jerks and starts. Her arms were stretched into a tight Y. Her useless legs dragged on the floor until she was high enough that they hung, dead weight, beneath her. The iron cuffs dug cruelly into the warrior's wrists as her body steadied, rocking slightly between her outstretched arms. Her feet were level with the knees of the soldiers locking down the chain. The sound of Gabrielle's cursing struggles reached her, faintly.

"Gabrielle." Xena had to fight down the concussive bolts of pain pounding through her back in order to speak calmly, but she managed it. When she finally opened her eyes, they were dispassionate again -- just cool, blue jets of light on Gabrielle's face.

It might have been an illusion, but it was a good one. The condemned cripple vanished, if she had ever been; a warrior woman hung chained in her place. The champion of an Amazon Queen, Gabrielle's lover, her closer-than-sister, her best friend.

The stoic dignity of Xena's carriage didn't falter when the two soldiers began ripping the thin muslin wrap off her body, rocking her tall form painfully. Her firm breasts were revealed, capped by tan nipples, and then unexpectedly feminine, lush hips. Even hanging naked, her strong body swaying, covered with bruises and cuts and still mud-streaked from the yard, Xena's cerulean blue eyes remained coldly, distantly fixed on nothing.

As she'd remembered only minutes earlier, Gabrielle spoke Xena fluently. Her green eyes glowed with pride. The bard straightened and stood still, breathing deeply from her attempts to free herself, but no longer fighting the hands grasping her arms.

Trikus nodded at the two soldiers who had secured Xena's chains. "Bring the barrel."

"Wait, Trikus." The husky, brutal-looking soldier clenching Gabrielle's right arm frowned, his brown eyes muddy above a ragged mustache. "I'm to be first at this Amazon bitch. It's my right, it was my brother her spear took out, pierced him through before he could -- "

"I remember my promise, Zaccheus." Trikus sounded tired. "You can have her first, after she's restrained -- "

"I want her here. Now." Zaccheus yanked at his belt, his face flushing red. "I want the bitch spread for me by my brother soldiers. It's my right, Trikus."

Gabrielle stared at the man's profile, feeling his fingers dig cruelly into her upper arm.

Trikus looked up at Xena. Then he nodded at his men. "Don't bloody her," he said quietly.

He went to stand beside Xena as the four men fell on Gabrielle.

They may have been led by an ethical commander, but they were soldiers of Rome, and they knew how to position an unwilling woman.

Two of them pulled Gabrielle's arms over their burly necks and held her hands fast, as if they were comrades assisting an injured man off a battlefield. A third braced his arms under the girl's round buttocks and lifted, suspending her hips at waist-height. He put one hand in the small of her back to keep her naked body level. He gripped Gabrielle's left knee with the other, and the man Zaccheus came around and lifted her right knee. The two men spread her legs wide and held them open. They looked toward Trikus, as if holding the prisoner ready for his inspection.

Gabrielle's body was rigid, her eyes squeezed shut, but she still offered no resistance. She felt greedy eyes dig into her small, neat vagina, exposed and glistening between her wide-spread thighs. Then Gabrielle looked up to see Xena's impassive blue gaze fastened on her twitching nether lips, and she felt a spasm of arousal tighten her vaginal walls.

"He was his mother's youngest, Amazon." Zaccheus fumbled with his breeches, his eyes smoldering as he took in Gabrielle's large breasts. "Come dawn, I'm going to hammer those spikes through your hands myself. But first I'm going to pound home a spike of my own . . ."

The man freed his organ, which bobbed pink, thick and long between the girl's muscular thighs, its bulbous head moving up toward her slit as though sniffing for it. One of his compatriots muttered, "Dig her out, Zaccheus -- "

"Xena," Gabrielle whispered. "For you."

There was nothing ceremonial in Zaccheus's movements; he was on family business, and he was brutal and quick. He took hold of his thickening penis and socketed it snugly in the opening of the girl's vagina, clenched her buttocks in his hands, and drilled up inside her. Gabrielle shrieked in a ragged breath. The other three soldiers unleashed hoarse shouts of approval, crowding tightly around to watch the young queen's first rape.

Xena reacted in spite of her resolve to remain impassive. She saw Gabrielle's face contort, and her head ground back against one of her captor's shoulders. The pole rooting up into her was stretching her, hurting her. Xena knew it by the small moans escaping the bard, the heaving of her full breasts. The most inner reaches of the diminutive bard's body were fairly narrow, and had to be coaxed open gently at first. Xena was master of the subtle melodies that made those muscles relax -- but now Gabrielle was being skewered, impaled on a burly man's thick cock. The warrior's body temperature lowered by entire degrees as she hung from her chains, watching.

Gabrielle gasped raggedly as the muscled pole dug repeatedly in and out of her. She fought to maintain a mask of remote composure. But then Zaccheus grunted, loudly, and screwed his crotch in lewd circles against her groin. She lost the battle with her demons and rebelled, twisting and crying out in the iron grip of the soldiers. But she could feel Xena's fevered gaze on her body, and even in her horror, Gabrielle's arousal surged higher under those heated blue eyes.

"Warrior princess!" The tall, blonde soldier with the pocked face struggled to hold Gabrielle's thrashing body still to receive the grinding thrusts. "Want me to suckle your little Amazon whore for you?" He plunged his head down and fastened whiskered lips around Gabrielle's large pink nipple, swirled his coarse tongue across it, and began to suck and chew. Gabrielle's eyes widened as she stared at his churning mouth.

Xena closed her eyes, but the sounds of the brutal rape were as bad as the images, as Gabrielle cried out again. The warrior's heart, and her mind, still rebelled at the thought of finding pleasure in this chillingly violent performance -- but her body was turning traitor, and she could feel her soft inner muscles clenching in response. Gabrielle whimpered at a particularly punishing thrust, and Xena jerked, as if in denial of her rising lust.

"Trikus," Xena gasped.

"Her skin won't be broken, warrior." The tall centurion stood by Xena's swaying hip, his eyes avid on the sentence being carried out yards away. "That's all Brutus promised."

Zaccheus pumped in and out of the young prisoner faster, bellowing, and then he stopped dead and bent his knees as his seed spurted deep into Gabrielle's cavern. His comrades gave him a ragged cheer, and the blonde soldier's tongue scrubbed one last time across the turgid nipple.

Gabrielle lay still in the mens' grasp, her face a mask of revulsion. But then her green eyes opened, and sought her chained lover across the cell. After a moment, the corner of Gabrielle's mouth curved into a smile. It was even a bit smug. Xena's eyes took on a low, gleaming light.

Zaccheus stumbled backwards, bent, and pulled up the breeches that had snarled around his ankles. He stared down at Gabrielle, weaving slightly, lacing up the front of his pants.

Gabrielle looked up at the man who had raped her. Her mouth opened twice before she could manage coherent speech, but she was finally able to produce sound.

"I can't be sorry I protected my lifemate, soldier." Gabrielle cleared her throat. "But I am sorry your brother had to die. You've avenged him here, and you will again at the cross. Let your family's part in this stop, with my death."

Zaccheus said nothing for a moment, his grizzled features still slack and sated, but apparently he was thinking. "All right." He met the young queen's eyes for the first time. "Blood will be satisfied at the cross. Then I'll carry no grudge, into what comes to your Amazons."

Gabrielle nodded, and then she closed her eyes, and tried to prepare for whatever came next. The night had only begun.

"The barrel, Kronius. Cedrin." Trikus shifted, for the first time since he'd reached Xena's side, and drew out the long, coiled bullwhip he'd held beneath his cloak. Xena saw it out of the corner of her eye, and she drew in a long breath.

"Your brother fell, too, Trikus?"

"My lifemate," Trikus corrected. "By your hand, Xena."

Xena watched the two soldiers roll a waist-high wooden keg into the cell's torchlit square, their breath steaming out in white clouds. There was an eagerness in their movements that chilled the warrior far more than the cold air could.

Gabrielle was allowed to stand and walk to the big barrel, but her arms were crossed cruelly behind her, held high up against her back. Her shoulder-blades stood out prominently as she turned, her breasts jutting forward with the forced arch of her spine. Trikus moved in front of Xena, not blocking the view of her lover being pushed down backwards over the curve of the barrel, but facing her.

"He was everything I've ever wanted to be, myself." The centurion's voice was mild, and Xena tore her eyes from Gabrielle to stare down at him. "Platius wasn't long for Caesar's service, he was better than this. I've never known a braver man, Xena, or a kinder one. You took him from me."

"It might have been my strike." Xena's voice was almost kind. "But war widowed you, Trikus."

"Ready, Trikus!" The bellow came from one of the men milling around Gabrielle, whose arms were securely tied down, anchoring her upper body over the swell of the barrel. Her feet dangled a foot above the floor. Her legs were untied, and Xena could see the play of muscles in the bard's thighs as she held them together.

The centurion nodded, and folded his hands together behind his back, still clutching the coils of the bullwhip, still looking up at Xena. "Tobias," he called. "The Amazon cut your uncle's throat in the yard. You're next. Cedrin, you and Kronius each lost close comrades at arms. Take her in turn. Zaccheus, you may go again if you're ready by then. All of you, remember -- never block the warrior princess's view of the prisoner. Begin."

Gabrielle had time to lock eyes with Xena for one second before they swarmed over her again.

Xena used inhuman force on herself to look away from Gabrielle, and down again into Trikus's strange eyes as the men's shouts rose a second time. "You know better than to ask a fighter to regret a kill, Trikus. But for what it's worth, if you're the one that raises my cross, I won't grudge you your vengeance."

Trikus nodded, but he didn't move. "Brutus left your punishment to me, you know. I could have had you raped, in front of the girl, or alongside her. It's what my men wanted. Or tortured, really tortured, not this petty beating I'm about to administer. I chose the whip, though, because I'm the man to swing it. I'm going to scourge you, Xena." Trikus's hands flexed powerfully around the whip coiled behind his back. "And I'm going to enjoy it."

"I know." Xena nodded. "And I do regret that."

Trikus averted his gaze, and then ducked beneath Xena's outstretched arm and went around behind her, snapping out the long bullwhip with an automatic grace that spoke of years of skilled practice.

The blonde soldier named Tobias was buried deep in Gabrielle. He had one of her legs hooked over each brawny arm, and he'd pushed her knees up against her belly as he drilled into her. His face was a fixed mask of effort and grim pleasure, his squinting eyes locked into the air above him as he pounded relentlessly between the young queen's open legs.

Kronius stood beside the barrel, grinning down at the bard's bobbing breasts. He held up a long string of twine before Gabrielle's wide eyes, and then lowered the strand to run beneath a protuberant nipple. He sawed the twine back and forth gently, laughing as Gabrielle gasped and tried to shrink away from his touch.

"Give me the end, Kronius." The smallest soldier, Cedrin, hands trembling, took the other end of the twine, and together the men strung the harsh cord beneath both nipples. They scraped it back and forth across the sensitive buds. This was entertaining for an amazingly long time as Gabrielle surged painfully up and down on the barrel, impaled on Tobias's fleshy cock, grunting softly and helplessly.

Xena's eyes were filling with lavender as she watched. She could feel it happening. Lavender is a very different shade than sea-blue -- it gives off a lighter, faster heat, and much more intense. Only Gabrielle could summon this color to Xena's eyes, and that rarely. But Gabrielle could see it rising now, and her lover's arousal increased her own.

Then she saw Xena's eyes close abruptly, and in the next instant she heard the thunderclap of an oiled bullwhip striking its mark. Xena shuddered deeply, and her body rocked slightly between the chains binding her wrists.

And suddenly Tobias was flying across the cell, propelled by a sudden shove of muscled legs. Gabrielle smashed her knee into Cedrin's nose, and then kicked viciously at the other men trying to duck her flailing legs.

"Trikus!" Gabrielle gasped. "It's enough, leave her alone!"

Xena struggled to contain the pain of that first strike. She realized, with no little relief, that the bullwhip was not studded. Without steel barbs embedded along its length, the bullwhip would bloody her, but it wouldn't tear off chunks of flesh with each blow. Ares must be disappointed, Xena thought, but she wasn't.

Her vision cleared enough that she could see Gabrielle again. "Think of it as payback, Gabrielle."

The bard stopped thrashing, and stared at Xena. "Wh-what?"

"It's payback, I said. If we choose it."

But then the second lash cracked across Xena's back, and the bard rebelled outright, struggling viciously again in the soldiers' hands. The men had recovered sufficiently to mount an offense, and it was quick work; Gabrielle's hands were too securely roped to the barrel to allow any real chance of escape.

"Bind her tits, then flip her over." Kronius's face was brick-red as he moved to the end of the keg, untying his breeches. "Zaccheus, you take the twine to her -- "

"No, those are mine," Tobias wheezed, limping up to shove Zaccheus aside, so he could stare down into Gabrielle's heated eyes. Smiling slightly, he took the long string of coarse twine and began weaving it in figure-8's around the bard's full breasts. He pulled the slack hard as he encircled the pale globes, watching their tips flush with color as they were constricted in the biting cord.

The bullwhip snapped again, and Gabrielle saw the warrior clench her teeth against the fire streaking across her shoulders. The bard looked back up at Tobias, and spat directly in his face.

Xena's breathing grew more ragged. Studded or not, a bullwhip was designed to elicit impressive suffering, and Trikus was wielding it with considerable force. The next crack of the lash across Xena's back sent a small spray of sweat blasting through a sunbeam lighting the suspended warrior.

Gabrielle's hands were untied, and she was grabbed and turned roughly over on the barrel so that she lie face down. Her arms were extended in front of her again, and the weight of her upper body was forced down on those twine-bound breasts, pressing the sensitive globes hard against the gnarled wood. She cried out as her large nipples scraped across the surface of the keg, but she kept her eyes on Xena.

The warrior was struck again, and Xena's powerful body flexed to absorb the blow. She was beautiful -- all tawny strength, tanned muscle, and wild midnight hair writhing under the lash -- and her lavender eyes were on her lover.

Both were remembering how many times Gabrielle had performed this very dance beneath Xena's whip -- scourgings much more gently administered, true, but thorough ones. The bard understood, very well, how a flogging aroused the recipient. Now, for the first time, she understood why they aroused the flogger.

Xena smiled down at Gabrielle with eyes so feline, the bard moaned aloud with the carnal rush that washed through her groin. The warrior was more poignant, and more powerful in her chains than Prometheus himself.

"I'm going to drill you from behind like a dog, your majesty." Kronius clenched Gabrielle's hips in his hands and rolled the barrel upwards. He pulled on her waist until it smacked against his crotch, then reached down to position his prick between her inverted lips. He plunged into her, hard, and Gabrielle surged over the barrel, her bound breasts scraping painfully against the weathered wood.

Trikus drew back the bullwhip and sent it hurtling forward again, this time to curl over the top of Xena's right shoulder. A line of blood appeared in the lash's wake, and Xena's head dropped back briefly as pain overwhelmed her, her breasts twisting sinuously, the tanned nipples full and hard, now.

It went on for a very long time. Tobias clenched Gabrielle's blonde hair in his fist and twisted her head on the barrel, forcing her to watch Xena's sentence, not knowing the bard could not look away in spite of herself.

Kronius thrust rapidly in and out of the girl's straining cunt, his groin slapping wetly against Gabrielle's shuddering buttocks. He squirmed his hands between the bard's thighs, and his groping fingers found her turgid, quivering clitoris. He scrubbed the nerve-rich knob hard with three fingers, gasping as he felt himself build toward explosion.

Xena's breasts shuddered as the bullwhip thundered again across her back, and her lavender eyes drilled into Gabrielle's wide, staring green ones. The long lines of the warrior's suspended body swam in Gabrielle's vision. The thunder-clap strike of the bullwhip rocketed a cruel a bolt of fire through her clitoris, and all the bard's muscles locked. The oncoming force of her climax terrified her.

"For you, Gabrielle," Xena murmured, and the bard imploded, shrieking in breath between clenched teeth.

The four soldiers had to struggle to hold the thrashing, muscular body of the young woman as she convulsed with pleasure, spears of it streaking through her, pulsing in her large, pressed nipples. Tears rose in Xena's eyes as she watched. Even Trikus was captivated by the image of the blonde prisoner's insensible writhing, and he let the bullwhip's long lash drop to the hay-strewn floor. Silently, he coiled the whip and attached it again to his belt.

When Gabrielle finally quieted, she was weeping. The tears were simple release -- there was no sadness or fear in them. The four soldiers assembled, silently, behind the barrel, standing shoulder to shoulder over Gabrielle's hunched body, and Trikus came up to stand beside Xena's chained form. The cell was silent for a long moment.

"Untie me."

Gabrielle's voice was low. The command was spoken quietly, but the queen expected it to be obeyed. She kept her eyes shut, her long lashes dusky against her pale cheek, while the soldiers looked to Trikus. Gabrielle couldn't know whether Trikus nodded, but she suddenly felt hands on the ropes binding her.

"Stand down," Zaccheus growled, as he worked loose the knots. His words were directed at Tobias, who did not seem happy at this turn of events. "We've had our fill."

Gabrielle sat up on the barrel and looked up at Xena, pulling the twine snare off of her breasts with a last shudder. Her breasts bounced free, encircled by red lines that contrasted cruelly with her milky skin. Her face was calm, even regal as she swung her legs over and dropped lightly to her feet. She stood still a moment, swaying, and Xena thought she was going to faint. She was shockingly pale, she'd gotten up too swiftly, and her legs were probably numb.

But Gabrielle had no intention of fainting; she steadied herself. The naked queen could have been draped in royal robes -- her shoulders were level, her posture almost imperiously relaxed. The green eyes fixed on Xena's as she walked toward her. She crossed beneath Xena's outstretched arm and turned to look at the warrior's back. Gabrielle almost faltered for a moment, when she saw the bleeding welts -- her lips trembled, and she had to look away, but not for long. Then she turned sapphire eyes on Trikus.

"Anything else?" Gabrielle asked dully.

The centurion returned Gabrielle's calm gaze, and then he tilted his head to look up at the warrior. Xena saw that Trikus's face was covered with sweat. He had exerted himself, certainly, but the cell was too cold to explain his pallor. It didn't take a healer's eyes to recognize the man was heart-sick. "I've had my fill, too, Xena."

Xena was using the time Gabrielle couldn't see her face to try to compose her features again. It was idiocy and she knew it, trying for macha stoicism at this stage, but old habits die hard. Her spine was definitely not shattered -- Xena could feel her entire back, from shoulders to waist, and it was a sheet of flame. But she could also feel the tendril of warmth that still flickered between her thighs.

Trikus received no reply, but he had expected none. He turned dead eyes on Zaccheus. "We've got two crosses to lay. Move out."

"Trikus," Tobias sputtered, pointing, "What about the kick that little witch fetched me -- "

"We'll be back for the prisoners when we're ready for them, Tobias," Trikus cut him off. "Now move."

Muttering, the soldiers filed out. Only Zaccheus looked fully at Gabrielle as they passed, but she was otherwise engaged, and didn't notice.

She came around in front of Xena again when they were alone, and stood close to her. She couldn't put her arms around her because she didn't want to touch her abraded back, so she stood as close as she could. Her breasts brushed Xena's flat belly, and her knees touched her feet.

Gabrielle smiled up at Xena, and it was the shy, sparkling smile of the village girl from Poteidaia. "Payback, Xena."

Xena squinted down at her, and then her eyes widened. "Gabrielle. Don't even think about it."

Gabrielle's eyebrows lifted. "I've done nothing but think about it for almost four years, Xena. You think seeing you whipped, instead of being whipped myself, was payback? My payback comes now, warrior." Gabrielle put a hand on her hip, and poked Xena in the belly with one finger. "You have never accepted this from me -- you're going to, now. Don't you dare knee me in the nose."

Watching her face carefully, Gabrielle lifted Xena's thighs, one by one over her strong shoulders. "Okay. I'm going to say goodbye to you, Xena, with more love than any ten people are blessed to find in one lifetime."

Gabrielle wrapped her hands around the warrior's hips, stepped into her, and rested her full lips gently on her mound in a reverent kiss. Then she dug into Xena with her mouth, and settled in to a long-denied feast.

Xena was wet, but not abundantly so. The warrior never was, even in highest arousal; a seeming contradiction for such a powerful woman. Gabrielle knew she made up for it, however, in sensitivity -- Xena's clitoris was a tinderbox awaiting the coarse stroke of Gabrielle's tongue, and she obliged by igniting it with a succession of dragging licks.

Xena twisted, groaning, in her chains, the manacles digging deeply again into her wrists, but she hardly felt it. She was aware only of the rapid-fire churning of her lover's tongue through her folds. Gabrielle's hands ground into Xena's hips, pressing her mouth more deeply into her. A snarl rose out of the merciless queen as she raped her prisoner with her lips and tongue, and Gabrielle felt that alien joy shoot through her again when Xena's hips began to undulate in her hands.

Gabrielle growled against Xena and ravaged her with her mouth, her teeth tightening over her straining clitoris, then releasing it, and beginning a series of rapid, sucking bites. It didn't take long. Xena made no sound as she came, but her body snapped taut. The warrior arched, magnificent in her chains, the cords in her neck standing out with the detonation of heat in her belly.

Finally, Gabrielle straightened. She lifted Xena's limp thighs off her shoulders and eased them down, carefully. Then she reached up and palmed the sweat off the tall woman's forehead and face, a small smile playing about her lips. Gabrielle draped her arms loosely around the warrior's waist, avoiding the worst of the whipmarks, and rested her head on Xena's flat stomach. Both women closed their eyes, and said goodbye for now.

As Gabrielle predicted, the next part didn't take very long.

Trikus and his men returned to the cell. The two women were separated, and Xena was taken down. Both were clothed again in their remnants of muslin. Then the bard was pulled, and the warrior was dragged, out of the cell and into the snow.

----- *** -----

The cell stood empty and silent. Empty but for the presence of an unseen god of war, and silent but for the sound of his weeping. Then that too faded, and was gone.

----- End -----

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