Here is yet another piece of fiction based on the characters of Xena: Warrior Princess. Being the rightful property of Universal Studios, it is not my intention to infringe on related copyright laws or to make any profit.
Secrets and Lies is fourth story in the series I have affectionately dubbed "The Pay for Play Chronicles", a sequel to The Price Of Silence, As The Candle Burns, and Deliberate Strangers. It's pretty essential you've read all of these stories for this one to make sense.
If you had difficulty dealing with the content of the previously mentioned stories, reading this will put you no more at ease. It falls strictly under the definition of adult fan fiction - Plenty of sex, plenty of talk, all involving women, all of whom are of age and consenting. Moderate S/m and bondage alert.
You can find more stories by Dark Angel at Dark Angel's Den.
Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org
Secrets and Lies
by Dark Angel
© 2000 Dark Angel
Xena leaned back against the door, using her weight to secure their privacy and sealing out the multitude of sounds and odors associated with the Corinthian whore house. Distant voices fragmented and disappeared with it, drawing shadows cast by the prearranged lighting around them firmly. Only an obligatory time candle and one smaller flame burned at opposite points of the room, giving no hint that this visit to Arnise's quarters would be any different than the countless other occasions.
With silent ease, Arnise approached the warrior and allowed herself to be encased in the powerful embrace that claimed her. What little clothing adorning her smaller frame was peeled back and discarded as Xena feasted on the soft skin. Her hands roamed freely, touching the slender figure as if she was property for the taking, igniting a fire behind the seemingly impenetrable mask of what was once the Destroyer of Nations.
One flight above them, oblivious to the events below, rested Xena's traveling companion who was fresh and sweet smelling from her bath. Xena knew if she thought too much about Gabrielle's languid form waiting for her return or about the possible implications of her current whereabouts, she would take the prostitute's hands from about her neck and making her way back up those stairs in an instant.
Xena also knew that without the release the young woman in her embrace offered, she would be without harbor and thus a risk to all that she held dear. Her time with Arnise was more than a simple exchange of money for flesh. It had become a ritual, homage paid to yet another of the interfering Gods that plagued her - one who without the appropriate attention given, would deliver her back into the darkness of her past ways forever. Over the months that caused her to return to the house and Arnise, Xena had accepted that her time with the prostitute was a necessity no different from rest or nourishment - one that she knew, at least at this moment, how to feed.
The girl moaned against her neck as short nails sunk into each side of an exposed rear, pulling her close. She smelled of perfume and tobacco. A tongue grazed low at her clavicle, murmuring equal want as the larger palms continued to squeeze and ply, skidding close to pierce under the strain. Xena sought the lips that would welcome her tongue and pushed through. Her breath caught and she broke away, holding her purchase at an arms length long enough for the girl to register she needed no further encouragement.
Understanding what would be required of her, Arnise stepped out of the embrace, barely breaking the gaze between them and reached for a short-handled whip that had been left ready on the center table. Xena allowed herself to be steadied against the door for a moment, feeling the intoxicating presence of the whip handle as it molded comfortably in her palm as if to remind her why she was here.
Arnise smiled knowingly before turning away and moving to take up a stance she knew would serve them best.
Then, as her skin seared under the administration of the strokes, the familiar dance was played out. There were no apologies for how hard or how often Xena struck her. In turn, no judgment was made on the reason behind the blows. There was only proof in the promise to deliver and a body held perfectly still to oblige what was sought. The lash sung and connected time and time again until the warrior's arm fell heavily under its weight, until even the second arm was worn from providing equal and her body heaved with a shortness of breath equivalent to a full morning's carter.
Afterwards, as Arnise lay on the pallet recovering a little from the treatment she had received, she watched Xena change from her standard leathers to an older more elaborate military style uniform. Arnise didn't understand the full meaning behind why her customer took the time to change her clothes, why she would stop midstream to do it or why it had to be that particular uniform. She knew only that it seemed to cement something in the older woman's mind, draw a distinction, the prostitute thought, between who the Warrior Princess had been and who she had chosen to become.
As the warrior's boots were refastened and Xena rose back up to her full height, Arnise opened her legs to show the effect the whipping had had on her own arousal, brazenly anointing the welted flesh with the slickness that glistened around her opening. Xena watched appreciatively for a moment before moving to the side of the bed, resting on one knee as she adjusted the trousers she had donned so they gaped marginally at the front.
"Use your mouth," the warrior instructed evenly.
Arnise drew her weight up on her elbows, attempting to gauge her customer's present mood. Xena's desire was apparent. Her haste in moving them away from the public meeting area of the whorehouse to the privacy of her room so quickly had confirmed that. The way she was driving tonight's pace left little doubt she wanted what she'd paid for. And yet, she seemed distracted - elsewhere.
Cobalt eyes stared back expectantly, twinkling in the candle's glow. Arnise remembered the first time she had looked into those eyes and how for the briefest moment thought how if she had let herself, she could have fallen into their depths forever. But that was not to be their fate. The eye's twinkled for someone else, gleamed passion for the one of whom she reminded the dark beauty. Arnise knew and accepted she was prized for what she could do with her hands and mouth, not for what she made Xena feel with her heart.
Obediently the younger woman sat up and leaned forward to run a flat palm over the bulge at the warrior's crotch. Gamely she cupped the heavily woven fabric, squeezing and watching the obvious pleasure wash across the normally stoic features. Arnise held the intent look as she released her hold on the material and finished the task of loosening the trousers angled before her, exposing and freeing the warrior's phallus in a well rehearsed motion. She lowered her head, allowing her tongue to dart and glide suggestively along the length.
Powerful hands clamped themselves about her head. The device, shaped to resemble an average size member, disappeared as the girl took it deep into her mouth for the first time. A low gasp accompanied the action as well as the force of her hair being knotted up, increasing Xena's hold on her. She tried to relax, guiding the phallus in and out of her mouth while her other hand ranged coarsely over the firm muscles of the warrior's buttocks.
Xena let herself move with the rhythm, finally feeling some of the tension slip away. It had been a moon of constant activity since the last night she had shared with the whore. The time spent transporting survivors and burying the dead from the torrential rains that had bombarded the southern shores of her homeland. A full moon cycle of never pulling on completely dry boots, of meals short of flavor or any real bulk and an empty space beside her at night.
She jerked and moaned softly, her body responding to the charges rising in her belly as she pushed images of perished children still clinging to their makeshift rafts from her mind. Of women weeping over the tiny corpses as those same strong hands, now wrapped about a whore's head guiding carnal fires, freed them from their snared tombs and helplessly handed them back to those who had borne them.
Gold tresses became the reins that would free her, the sights of despair still flashing behind heavy lidded eyes as she bucked forcefully up and down the girl's throat. Shedding layer after layer of her recent past, of constant jabs to her heart about the woman she wished was delivering her now.
Arnise maintained her position, staring straight ahead into the junction of hip and thigh, into a stretch of paler skin not touched by sunlight, and ignored the developing rawness in her throat. Time became irrelevant to them both. The movements grew harsher, her customer's moans more constricted.
One of the straps holding the object in place came free, released by a hand barely able to steady itself enough to perform the task. The member, though still partly attached about the warrior's crotch, was being clumsily pulled out of her mouth and pushed aside. Arnise let her hands fall immediately at her side, knowing they were neither desired or welcome now.
Two fingers hooked themselves into the mass of wiry curls and slickness before her, separating saturated hair and flesh to reveal the little erection buried there. Xena pressed forward onto the girl's waiting mouth. Her shoulders straining back and her own lips parting as she felt the first touch of Arnise's mouth cover her intimate region. Whispers announced her make believe lover's name into the room's shadows as she let herself move with the tongue and lips as they tasted her. Teeth nipped and sucked at the pulsating nodule, tonguing the tiny shaft from base to hilt. The sensuous assault continued even as her body stiffened and Arnise knew it was another lover Xena held then - for a fraction - before the wave rolled and she exploded, crashing down and ejaculating the liquid release in sharp jets in to her purchase's mouth.
Arnise relaxed her throat and neck muscles, now trapped in the warrior's vice grip, shutting her eyes and swallowing the heady juices. The grinding motion slowed, the hands that held her loosened and she opened her eyes this time to see Xena slowly resurfacing from the torrent, panting softly. Hands that still trembled untwined themselves and traveled admiringly over the dampness that coated the whore's face, a hint of a smile touching the warrior's lips as the two remained pressed close. She continued to stroke the younger face for a time, enjoying the afterglow and the girl's now firm grasp coiled back about her. They weren't quite as strong as Gabrielle's arms, she noted absently, but they held her with a want that Xena knew the bard's arms, no matter how powerful, would never willingly provide with the same intent.
She shook the thought off.
A clipped instruction told Arnise the brief reprieve was over and she was to turn around, still on her knees to face away from the warrior. The momentarily forgotten harness strap was refastened as Xena joined her on the bed, using the excess of her previous release to lubricate the phallus. Calmly Arnise licked her lips, retasting the warrior's essence and crawled forward until both her hands could grip either side of the bed head. She found a crack on the wall in front of her to focus on and tried to concentrate, knowing most of all, this next act would need nothing less.
A sharp breath escaped through her clenched teeth as the warrior's tool slid in completely with its first push. The force drove her forward forcing her to use her full strength to prevent being slammed head first into the wall. Xena's hands gripped firmly around her hips, pulling her back and holding her in place.
"So powerful, soldier," The whore groaned as the phallus began plowing in and out of her.
Xena didn't answer her and Arnise didn't expect her to. It was too raw, too animal. But mostly it was too quick, always too quick. The prostitute continued to offer lurid encouragement nonetheless, phrases purposely designed to stroke an customer's ego, to get them to finish and be gone. But with Xena, Arnise knew the reason she used the words was in part because she meant them and didn't necessarily always wish this customer's time to be over so soon.
The concentrated thrusts ground deeper, the grip tightening and the pain increasing, signaling Xena was fast approaching her crest once more. Within moments the warrior shuddered violently for the second time since entering the room, collapsing bonelessly across Arnise's slighter form.
Arnise raised her head to see Xena withdraw the item used to aid her pleasure and climb off the bed. Apparently the warrior was finished, though with a quick glance at the time candle still flickering only an arm's reach away verified that at least half of Xena's paid time with her remained. Xena didn't look back, making her way away from where the girl still lay to the small bench and hand basin that waited, tucking and rebuttoning her trousers as she went. Without bothering to test the temperature, Xena emptied the contents of a water pitcher into the bowl, bringing the level to just below its rim before fully submerging her face and hands in the water, generously applying the scented wash cloth about her face and neck.
"Hand me a towel." She remarked barely turning to address the girl.
Arnise hesitated, realizing that with the sudden shift in routine also foretold the warrior's apparent change in mood. Something more clearly occupied the warrior's mind that she had originally guessed. The brief face-to-face contact showed how the warrior's gaze had flashed cold, her eyes darkening to the familiar deep ebony that usually indicated a struggle was taking place. It was usually a struggle between the woman and the beast who sometimes shared her body. And though Arnise was very familiar with its existence, each time it surfaced sent shivers up her spine.
She rose off the bed without bothering to cover her nakedness. Retrieving a towel that had been tossed over the back of one of her chairs, she approached Xena carefully.
"You seem - distracted," the whore offered carefully, tracing inviting fingers along the warrior's back in an attempt to shift the mood . "You still have plenty of time, if you want.."
Xena leaned forward against the bench top, pausing long enough to relay her interest no longer centered on what the girl could do for her, at least physically. Finally she turned, still holding the towel out in front to dry her hands as she gathered Arnise's nervous expression and held it.
"Put some clothes on," She ordered softly, maintaining a no-nonsense glare on her purchase.
Arnise was confused but did as she was told nonetheless, knowing better than to argue with the warrior especially when she was like this. Quickly she found a short robe she kept for such purposes and tied it at its middle. Then when the young woman felt she could be shocked no further, the warrior spoke again, raising her voice as if addressing someone else.
"It's all right, Gabrielle. The show's over, you can come out now."
The tone was even and commanding, giving no hint of how the warrior felt about the disclosure she was making or how the bard who had been safely stowed behind the dressing divider may be taking the news that her plan with Arnise had been so transparent. There was silence, the kind that felt it might stretch out forever as the two visible women maintained their positions.
It had seemed like the most likely solution. A deal cast between two women who each in their own ways cared deeply for the warrior princess. Gabrielle, because she was in love with the dark beauty and wanted desperately to be all things to her. Arnise, simply because genuine fondness existed where perhaps it shouldn't and she had unwittingly become party to the two friend's unresolved relationship. Arnise knew the warrior in the one way she had allowed no one else, including Gabrielle, since her warlord days to experience. And though Arnise could not bring herself to directly answer the bard's questions of Xena's particular desires, she drew on a option that neither forced her to break her confidence to her customer nor place Gabrielle in a position where she needed to decide straight away if she could indeed be 'all things' to Xena.
So, it had been decided.
The first night of the warrior's return, everything had gone according to plan. Xena and Gabrielle had shared a hearty meal, attended the baths together - one of the few intimacies Xena permitted between them - then retired to their quarters.
With the bard apparently heavily immersed in constructing of a new scroll, Xena excused herself a candle mark later, feigning the need to speak with the captain of the regiment she had been assigned to during the storm rescues. It had been a lie, one of many that had become second nature in preserving her secret. She had told herself it was for the best, the only way to spare Gabrielle of needing to face the warrior's darker self. But it never got any easier.
Instead of seeking out the fictitious soldier, Xena exited the room with promises not to be too late and descended the long stairway that took her directly to the whorehouse reception.
With her heart thumping high in her throat, Gabrielle waited long enough in their room to know Xena had arrived at the first stop of her night's anticipated destination, then used the alternative steps that would take her unobserved to the rear of the building. From there she made her way to the last window at the far right of the structure and climbed up on the box that had been left to assist her. She moved as silent and swiftly as she could, knowing everything was dependent on her ability to get into position before the warrior and her purchase entered the room.
Gabrielle didn't have to wait long. No sooner had she settled her breathing down to a manageable state and made sure her presence could not be seen from the other side of the cloth divider than the door creaked open. There hadn't been much to see in the beginning. Mostly noises, sounds of a whip cutting through air and the soft moans that accompanied its strikes. It wasn't until the warrior had directed the activities over to the bed that Gabrielle could witness her companion's buttocks gyrating before her, bent on driving the object hidden at her groin deeper and deeper. Muscles perfect in shape and power clenched and released as she thrust the leather poll in and out of Arnise's body. The bard's mind reeled with a kaleidoscope of emotions, the most prominent and painful of which was how undeniably turned on she was by the sight of Xena seemingly forcing the young woman against her will.
Her masturbation fantasies that had featured the warrior princess and no one else for quite sometime had never, not even in her wildest dreams, extended to the sight being enacted before her. Her higher beliefs around what was Xena's right to take her pleasure in whatever and however she wanted it whispered for her to look away, that it was too private, too intrusive. They weren't lovers no matter what she wished for at that moment. Her more primal beliefs, the ones that circled about her like molten flame, striking over and over again at her own throbbing nipples and sex, kept her vision locked on the bronzed body moving commandingly only a few feet away.
She had even fought the urge to reach between her own lazily parted legs and meet her own urgency there and then. Two things had stopped her. The first was that she could not ensure her own silence as the circumstances required. The second was that she had promised herself the next time she climaxed, it would be because of what the warrior did to her, would be under that warrior's own ministrations and not her own.
The time candle seemed to burn a considerable way lower before Gabrielle finally made her appearance from the other side of the room divider. Her face was flushed red and she was still trying to rearrange her clothing.
Xena discarded the washcloth and moved back to the bed. Gabrielle noted the warrior's eyes had reverted to the more gentle blue that she was accustomed to and appeared to have brimmed a little with moisture that would have been tears if she allowed them.
"Xe..." the bard attempted, not quite sure where her voice had gone. Leagues of words cried for expression. But somehow, none of them seemed even remotely fitting to explain the subterfuge she'd devised with Arnise. Parrying for a choice of how to approach a stone-faced Xena was everything from a confession of undying love to not being able to tolerate the warrior's inadvertent deception any longer. But try as she might, she was unable to summon enough power to form the words. Instead she had to be satisfied with closing the physical gap between them. If she could just touch Xena, to relay in her closeness what her voice was failing to do, it would be all right. She willed her legs a little closer to the edge of the bed. As the distance between the two receded, she reached out to touch Xena's cheek, brushing a stray hair away from the warrior's eyes.
Xena drew back, seemingly scorched by this gentlest of contact.
"Don't touch me," She breathed.
"Xe, please.." the bard tried again, her words still catching in the back of her throat.
"You shouldn't have come here, Gabrielle." Xena told her, directing an uncommonly unsteady voice to the empty space on the other side of the bed. As she turned her head more definitely, glimpsing Arnise who still maintained her post by the hand basin, she noticed the young prostitute looked mortified and not dissimilar to an animal caught in a lightening storm. Perhaps it was because she knew Xena would most certainly view her hand in this charade as a personal betrayal of the trust she had bestowed upon her. The girl stayed silent and kept her distance away from the two would-be lovers, especially the potentially dangerous warrior, while still feeling compelled to stay and watch over them.
"This is something I have tried to protect you from…" Xena trailed off "...to keep you safe."
Gabrielle smiled inwardly at the irony of her companion's plea.
"I am not a little girl anymore, Xena," She offered earnestly, "I know I sometimes need your protection from those that still try to harm us. But you are not, nor are your.." and she lifted her hand to indicate the setting "...needs anything I need to be shielded from."
Finally unable to stay so separate from the woman she loved, Gabrielle sat down and took the hand that had been laying motionless in the warrior's lap. It was funny, she thought, that the way she had realized she was in love with Xena in the first place was how she felt whenever they held hands. It was a simple act of friendship and of connection and an articulation of things neither knew how to voice. It was, in many ways, something Gabrielle cherished as being solely her own, an intimacy shared with no other, not even the faceless lovers she knew the warrior took from time to time.
Now with the much larger limb resting tentatively on her own, the bard confirmed that with the love came the want. Xena's fingers seem to tingle with the same kind of acknowledgement and for the first time, they regarded each other closely, finally unable to deny what they most craved.
"What you just saw, was..." Xena tried to explain. Her own emotional state swirling with a mixture of anger, desire and shame. "…Is something I have been deliberating trying to spare you from."
Gabrielle only nodded. She could sense Xena's turmoil but she was unwilling to risk losing the opportunity to discover whatever could be between them. Though she understood Xena's reasoning, she couldn't agree with it. Whatever the warrior believed about her private needs, she would not be able to convince Gabrielle that they were anything more than just another aspect of herself.
"You're experiencing battle lust, an uncontrollable and undeniable desire to conquer."
A faint hint of amazement flashed across the warrior's face before she could pull the mask back down over it. Her head inclined slightly to acknowledge her friend's words and to marvel at how Gabrielle seem to understand more of how her dark past haunted her than Xena had previously given her credit for.
"When I experience the power caused by a battle, any kind that risks the loss of life, I burn in a way that can only be vanquished through..."
"Pleasure," Gabrielle interjected knowingly.
Xena hesitated. "Yes." She confirmed feeling that the single word might strangle her.
Gabrielle wasn't completely sure what happened after that, only that they were suddenly in each other's arms. Not in the platonic, comforting fashion they were accustomed to but with an only dreamed of hunger, clinging to each other as if their very existence depended upon it. Gabrielle raised her head, her lips finding Xena's instinctively. Xena bent down, meeting her, taking her face in her hands. But the kiss, filled with a fire set to light up Tartarus, lasted just an instant. Before Gabrielle could open her eyes and register the loss, Xena had risen and fled the room, leaving the door gaping in her wake.
Gabrielle looked for her in the main entertainment area of the whorehouse, in their shared room and the stables where Argo had been installed earlier. But she was nowhere to be found and no one, not even Bertha, the proprietor who seemed to know everyone's movements, knew where the warrior had disappeared to. With little option, the bard returned to their quarters heartsick and waited until the sun had started to rise the next morning before she finally let herself fall asleep.
She woke to sounds of the establishment below reopening for business and the inhabitants going about their daily routine. Realizing that she had indeed slept and that Xena had not returned, Gabrielle dressed as quickly as she could and descended the stairwell to the whorehouse kitchen.
Arnise was finishing off her breakfast when she entered.
Gabrielle prepared herself a bowl of oats and fresh milk from the stove top, waiting in awkward silence for the room to clear a little before approaching her friend. From over the top of a mug of coffee, Arnise stated what she had dreaded most.
"She didn't come back last night, did she?"
Gabrielle shook her head helplessly, uncharacteristically unable to feel any real interest in the food before her.
"No," she replied poking at the gluey substance in her bowl.
"I'm sorry, Gabrielle."
Gabrielle reached over and placed a reassuring hand over the other woman's wrist.
"You say that a lot, you know. There is no point apologizing for something you had little choice in."
Arnise sighed inaudibly, knowing the bard was probably correct.
"But if I hadn't agreed to..."
Gabrielle tightened her grasp on the slender hand. "I didn't give you much choice." She assured her. "Ask anyone, I'm a bard. When I get my mind set on something, it's hard to talk me out of it. I don't play fair, Xena says."
Outside, the sun was slowly starting to dry the smell of month long rain from the city. People moved about, discussing what needed to be prioritized and who would take on the task of repairs. Though Corinth had stayed the storms with relative ease, there was still a great deal of water damage to be repaired and more permanent homes to be found for the hundreds of refugees that lined the streets.
Gabrielle downed her breakfast with little enthusiasm and returned to the stables to check on Argo. The mare chomped hungrily on the fresh hay the bard dropped into the stall but offered little condolence as she tried to explain to the animal why it wasn't her mistress giving her the morning meal. Nonetheless, the bard chose to linger, taking much longer in brushing down the animal than she would normally allowing the physical connection to calm the confusion and niggling sense of finality. When she finally finished with the grooming, her head was clear enough to think of how she needed to proceed.
Day became night again and the people working alongside the bard on the clean up returned to their own residences. All throughout the day, Gabrielle had looked for Xena but with no success. No one seemed to have seen the unmistakably beautiful ex-warlord in their travels and showed little or no interest in helping yet another stranger to their city to find her. Well after the sun had settled fully past the horizon, Gabrielle was forced to return to their lodgings alone once more. She ate unaccompanied in her room, preferring the solitude it allowed to the raucous surroundings of the bordello's dining area or the kitchen frequented by Arnise and her colleagues. She had caught up with the blonde prostitute briefly while collecting the plate of bread and cheese she'd secured for dinner but Arnise was no more forthcoming about possible places to look for the warrior than she had been in the morning. They would have to wait, or more accurately, Gabrielle would have to wait for whenever Xena decided to make her reappearance.
For the second time since she and Xena had faced one another in Arnise's workroom, the morning sun streamed across the half empty bed where Gabrielle had fallen asleep. Instinctively, still caught partially in Morpheus' net, she reached out to where her warrior would normally be, and was forced to remember why she was waking alone. Soft rays of morning light hitting saddle bags and leathers across the room just made it all the more real.
To anyone else they would have been viewed simply as belongings discarded in a corner, but to a heartsick bard they were a reminder the owner apparently had no use of them anymore. A tear escaped before Gabrielle could stop it, wondering if what she had done made her just as disposable in the warrior's heart.
Continue on to the sequel Surrender