Xena and Gabrielle are owned by MCA/Universal/Studios USA and Renaissance Pictures blah, blah, blah, I'm not making a red cent off them blah, blah, blah, no copyright infringement is intended. The characters Dahje and Rafa are my own creation, as is this story.
Yet another disclaimer (gods don't you hate these?) This story contains explicit sexual content between two consenting adult women.(yeah baby yeah!) If this is illegal where you abide, look no farther. If you are under 18, then BEAT IT!
Another disclaimer: There is some physical violence, but nothing too rough. Xena and Gabrielle were not harmed during the creation of this fictional work. However, the author is suffering from severe sleep deprivation and carpal tunnel syndrome.
All commentaries, criticisms, and compliments are welcome, e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org Please be gentle.
**Thanks to L.A.Meyers for all of her helpful info on all things concerning the India Arc, love ya Lori! Thanks to my sister for all the help with the plot, grammatical errors, and all the late nights listening to me ramble on and on and on, Love ya rubberduck 32!
Xena and Gabrielle had been traveling in silence for two days. As they made their way across the countryside, each deep in thought, they failed to notice the sun sinking lower and lower in the sky. Jolted out of her thoughts by the nighttime sounds of the woods, Xena glanced around her in surprise. 'When did it get so dark?' She wondered. She stole a look at Gabrielle only to see her companion still deep in thought. Xena cleared her throat. Gabrielle kept walking. She cleared her throat again, only this time more forcefully. Still no response from Gabrielle. Finally, Xena lost her patience and called. "Gabrielle!"
Startled, Gabrielle turned to look at Xena. She looked up at the sky. 'When did the sun go down?' She tried to remember but couldn't. She brought her head down to look at Xena. Xena had an impatient look on her face as she waited for Gabrielle's answer.
"Well?" Xena asked.
'Uh-oh,' Gabrielle thought, 'Xena has asked me something.' She desperately tried to remember but to no avail. She sheepishly grinned and looked at Xena. "Uh, well what?"
"You weren't paying attention," Xena accused.
"Well, no. I'm sorry Xena, I was just thinking. What did you ask me?"
Xena rolled her eyes in a long suffering expression that said 'Save me from helpless sidekicks.' She sighed, "I asked if you would gather up some wood while I get some dinner." Gabrielle nodded in acquiescence.
Xena disappeared into the woods leaving Gabrielle alone with her thoughts. She sighed heavily and closed her eyes. Things between her and Xena had been strained ever since she had thrown her staff into the river. She remembered the look of hurt and resignation in Xena's face. It had hurt her tremendously to see that look, but in her heart Gabrielle felt she had done the right thing. She was on the path to achieving Mukti, the enlightenment and freedom from samsara, or the cycle of reincarnation.
Gabrielle knew it would be a long journey, spanning many lifetimes, but Xena would be with her. She paused a moment to reflect on that. It had comforted her to know that their souls were intertwined for all time. Like the mendhi, their paths were separate yet crossing through all eternity. It was the separate part that weighed heavily on Gabrielle's mind. At the river, Xena had given her a choice, but for her there was only one answer. Her heart, her soul, belonged to Xena and nothing was ever going to change that.
Gabrielle opened her eyes and let out another weary sigh. She had so many things to say and questions to ask, but it seemed as if Xena wasn't interested in talking. The silence that lay between them seemed unbreakable. They had never had this much trouble communicating before, but like so many things of late, that had changed. The only words they spoke to each other were the necessary ones and those were delivered in short, monosyllabic words. This silence was beginning to frazzle Gabrielle's nerves as the uncomfortable tension kept building and building. Gabrielle decided that Xena was going to have to talk to her, and soon. Her stomach rumbled and the thought of food prompted her to return to her task of gathering firewood.
Soon she had an armload and set about preparing the fire and the campsite. She was so busy she didn't hear Xena come up behind her. Gabrielle felt the hairs rise on the back of her neck and knew she was being watched. She whirled around to find Xena watching her. In her hands she was carrying some fruits and on her face was a wry grin.
Gabrielle gave a short laugh. "Well, we'll have a great fire for the entire night," she quipped.
Xena grinned and handed her some fruit. For a moment, the atmosphere was comfortable and intimate, as it used to be. Then the smiles faded and the silence returned. They each looked away and held their gazes to the floor, each wishing to know what the other was thinking.
Xena stared at the floor wishing she knew what to say to break the awful silence. A moment ago, it felt like old times when she and Gabrielle used to be able to laugh and talk and joke about anything. Usually a tender, or not so tender, loving followed the sharing time. Now there was silence, followed by silence, and finished up with more silence, until they went to sleep in separate blankets. Xena gave a frustrated sigh. She missed the physical intimacy, but she missed the sharing more. There were so many things she wanted to ask Gabrielle and to tell her. If only there were something she could say, but what?
Frustration was gnawing away at her nerves. The tension was getting unbearable. It wasn't just the emotional tension, but it was the sexual tension as well. Xena's body was suffering from pent up desire. She was a passionate woman by nature and knew Gabrielle to be the same. They both had healthy sex drives and were accustomed to frequent pleasure and release. Needless to say, Xena found that she couldn't look at Gabrielle very long without wanting to satisfy her more carnal urges.
The frustration of her body and her inability to break this awful silence caused her to be more brusque with her bard than she usually was with strangers. She tried to find words to say how she felt but none of the solutions satisfied her. She glanced at Gabrielle, who was sitting across from her deep in thought. Suddenly, Xena felt that if she stayed here another moment, she was going to scream. The awful tension and silence had finally snapped her tenuous hold on civility. With a frustrated grunt, she rose from where she was sitting and proceeded to stomp out of the little camp. She was muttering to herself and was startled when she heard Gabrielle calling her name.
'What was wrong with Xena?' Gabrielle wondered. One minute she was sitting there quietly and the next she is huffing and puffing out of camp. "Xena." Gabrielle called. No answer. "Xena?" Gabrielle called again, her voice rising. Still no answer. "Xena!" Gabrielle yelled.
Finally the warrior looked at her and snarled, "What?"
"Where are you going?" Gabrielle wanted to know.
"For a walk. Is that OK with you?" Xena sneered.
Gabrielle knew she shouldn't rise to the bait being cast to her, but the past few days in silence had taken their toll on her patience. If Xena wanted a fight, then by the gods, she would give her one.
"Maybe it's not," She retorted.
"What did you say?" Xena asked incredulously.
"What are you deaf? You heard me."
"I can't believe you. You are so childish Gabrielle," Xena growled.
"I'm the childish one here?," Gabrielle said rhetorically." Out of the both of us, I'm the childish one?!?"
"What is that supposed to mean?" Xena felt her temper rising a few notches higher.
"You know exactly what it means," Gabrielle said. "You're the one who's been stomping around here like the boss of the world and you expect me to just jump up and do your every command."
"Well it's better than having my head stuck up in the clouds. I have to practically scream in your ear to get you to pay attention since you are soooo BUSY contemplating the ways of love," Xena spat.
'That is it' Gabrielle thought, 'it's war now!'
"You are just jealous because I can achieve peace in my life but your hands will always be stained with the blood of thousands." At Xena's gasp, Gabrielle pressed on. "You are nothing but an cold, insensitive, unfeeling savage who suddenly grew a conscience and wants to try to make amends. Well it won't happen. Once a killer, always a killer." Gabrielle finished with a haughty grin.
Xena had been listening to Gabrielle's tirade with an anger that was growing in intensity. When Gabrielle had brought up her past, it had momentarily shocked Xena into gasping out loud. The holier-than-thou smirk on Gabrielle's face had sent Xena over the edge.
With an angry cry, Xena rushed Gabrielle and pinned her to the nearest tree. She shoved her brutally up against it and pinned her arms with one hand. "You want to see a savage, I'll show you a savage!" Xena hissed and backhanded Gabrielle with a vicious slap. The slap was so forceful, it threw Gabrielle's body sideways and she would have fallen if it weren't for the fact that Xena still had both her hands pinned together.
That slap seemed to make them both realize what was happening. The blood coming from Gabrielle's mouth was steady and running down her chin. At the sight of that blood, Xena released Gabrielle and stepped back, disbelieving at what had just happened. She wore a look of utter horror and shock when she saw the bruise that was already forming on the bard's face. That's when she made eye contact with Gabrielle.
Green, hurt eyes met blue, horrified ones. Xena stood in mute horror at what she had done to her best friend, her soulmate, her lover. Then guilt kicked in and Xena knew she had to leave, right now. She abruptly turned and ran into the woods not stopping until she was out of breath. "By the gods, what have I done?"
Gabrielle stood staring at the place where Xena had been standing. She gingerly touched her finger to her busted lip and tasted the blood still seeping from the wound. One side of her face felt numb and she knew she was going to have one heck of a bruise tomorrow. She had deserved that slap for all of the cruel things she had said to Xena. 'I deserved it," she thought. What was worse, she knew Xena was feeling tremendously guilty for having hit her. It had been a very long time since Xena had struck Gabrielle. Her touch had always been to soothe and stimulate, never to hurt.
Gabrielle muffled a sob, "By the gods, what have I done?" 'I've got to find her and explain,' she thought. Gabrielle winced at the pain coming from her throbbing lip. 'First, I'll clean up and then I'll find her. Then I'll fix everything.' With that, she began to rummage around in her pack for some salve and clean strips of cloth.
Xena leaned up against a tree for support. She tipped her head back against the trunk and looked up at the night sky. The warrior drew in a lungful of cool air. As she caught her breath, Xena noted how calm and peaceful the night sky looked. She saw the same peace in Gabrielle. At the thought of Gabrielle, her mind was forced to focus on the events that had just happened. A wave of self-disgust washed over her as she remembered her brutal treatment of her bard. Xena closed her eyes at the memory of the hurt look in Gabrielle's eyes. "How am I going to fix this?" She wondered miserably. She was so immersed in self-recriminations that she was unaware she was being watched.
The warrior sense kicked in and Xena listened very carefully to her surroundings. She realized someone was watching her and she gave a small smile, 'Good, someone for me to take my anger out on.' She stealthily set about finding her opponent. 'Found 'em.' She thought with a satisfied grin. Xena turned her back deliberately in the direction of whoever was watching her and waited. The warrior princess did not have to wait long. With incredible quickness, she spun around and drew her sword, pointing the blade at her would-be attacker's neck.
Xena took a step back in surprise. The warrior had expected a man and not a woman. She did not lower her blade however, and demanded in a dangerous tone, "Who are you and why are you watching me?" The woman merely smiled and remained silent. "I asked you a question," Xena grated.
"I heard your questions warrior, I just chose not to answer them yet," a sultry voice replied.
"It would be in your best interests to answer them NOW!" Xena growled and pressed the tip of her blade into the woman's neck. The woman smiled again and said, "I am Dahje. I was watching you because you are trespassing on my land. When I saw you posed no immediate threat, I continued to watch because it was fascinating to see your face as you struggled with some inner turmoil." Dahje tilted her head to one side, studying the warrior. An unreadable look crossed her face; then it was gone leaving only a smile on the younger woman's face.
"You have not yet told me who you are and what you are doing on my land," Dahje scolded gently. Xena finally lowered her blade and sheathed it in her scabbard. She extended her hand and said, "Name's Xena." Dahje returned the handshake and waited.
"I'm sorry I trespassed. I didn't realize anyone owned this land. My friend and I were camping for the night and I needed a walk. That's how I ended up here." Xena waited for Dahje's response. The woman appeared to accept her explanation and kept silent for a moment.
The silence gave Xena the opportunity to study the woman more closely. She was about Gabrielle's height, slender build, but she possessed great strength. Her stomach was flat, with ample breasts and lush hips giving her an hourglass figure. Dahje's eyes were a jasmine color and almond shaped, fringed with dark lashes. Jet black hair reached to her shoulders and her face was all curves. The nose was clearly patrician and she possessed a sensual mouth. The smile she kept giving Xena unnerved her and caused her stomach to flutter a bit. She mentally shook herself, realizing that only Gabrielle made her feel that way.
A look, a touch, or a certain huskiness in the bard's voice never failed to give Xena butterflies. This woman could not be having the same effect on her, she wouldn't let her. With determination, Xena steeled herself against any attraction she may have for Dahje and concentrated on getting back to Gabrielle. She had a lot of explaining to do to the bard.
Dahje had been watching the warrior, noting the self imposed discipline school her features. When she had been watching Xena, she had been utterly enchanted to see the pain evident on the warrior's face, the sudden uncanny sense that had kicked in when she realized she was being watched, and the amazing quickness of her reflexes. Dahje would have sworn she had not made a sound and still the warrior had caught her. A swift perusal of the warrior had confirmed her suspicions. Here was one of flawless beauty, great combat skills, and a dark soul. The leashed power and energy coming from Xena's karma had attracted Dahje and caused her to reveal herself to the warrior. She had accepted the story of needing a walk, knowing it was a lie. Something or someone was tearing at this woman's soul. Dahje was pleased when she felt Xena watching her and was more so when she saw the attraction in the warrior's eyes. She wondered curiously who this friend was and what was the friend's role in Xena's life.
"Warrior, seeing as how you are not a thief or brigand come to rape my land, I insist you join me for dinner." It was not a request and Xena stiffened at the arrogant tone in Dahje's voice. "I'm sorry, but as I said before, I left my friend back at the camp site. She'll be wondering where I am if I don't return soon."
'SHE,' the word was not lost on Dahje. 'Hmmmm, let's see how important SHE is?'
"Ah, I see. Is your friend unable to fend for herself? Does she require your constant guard, forcing you to be rude to a hospitable stranger?" Dahje asked with a taunting note in her voice.
Xena gritted her teeth. Damn, this woman bothered her. She felt the urge to wipe the irritating smile off Dahje's face and teach her a thing or two. "My friend can take care of herself. I apologize again, it isn't my intention to seem ungrateful in refusing your invitation-"
"Then accept my hospitality and join me for the evening meal," Dahje interrupted smoothly.
Xena could see that short of being blunt and ill-mannered, there was no escape. She asked herself why shouldn't she go. Gabrielle sure wasn't going to come looking for her, and Xena didn't really want to face the bard right now. Besides, she wouldn't be gone long. She was only being courteous, she rationalized. Taking the coward's way out, Xena replied, "All right, I accept your invitation." "Excellent," Dahje said triumphantly. She flashed a brilliant smile at the warrior and Xena felt her detached attitude soften a bit.
She grinned back at Dahje and followed her down a beaten path to a simple hut in the middle of a clearing. Since Dahje was leading the way, Xena did not see the malicious smirk on her face, nor did she see the hungry gleam in the smaller woman's eyes. The warrior princess could not know what was in store for her.
Gabrielle finished tending her wound and looked around her. Xena had been gone a long time, so the bard set off in the direction Xena had gone. Gabrielle easily picked up Xena's trail and followed it to the beginning of a well-worn path. It was here that Gabrielle noticed another set of tracks. These were not made by the warrior. The owner of these tracks was much more petite and more knowledgeable of the trail. Gabrielle stared intently at the ground, there didn't appear to have been any kind of struggle.
Gabrielle took a deep breath. At the end of this path was Xena. Summoning up her courage, the bard followed the path until she came to a simple hut. She heard a soft feminine laugh come from inside and walked to peer into the nearest window. Seated at a table was Xena. She was drinking from an earthenware mug and smiling at the other occupant in the room. Gabrielle soon saw whom the other set of prints belonged to.
The small, slender woman was bringing Xena more to drink when she suddenly stopped and looked in Gabrielle's direction. Gabrielle quickly ducked so she did not see the narrowing of the woman's eyes before she turned to face Xena. Gabrielle slowly brought her head up to gaze inside again. The woman said something to make Xena laugh. Gabrielle had heard that laugh before, but only for her.
Jealousy raged through Gabrielle. An uncontrollable anger began to tear at her soul and she sent the woman a daunting look. Green eyes darkened until they became a deep emerald. Gabrielle's jaw clenched and her hands balled into fists. Her jealousy was fed again when the woman bent and whispered something into Xena's ear. Gabrielle saw Xena shiver slightly and turned to look directly at the woman, an intent look on her face. Gabrielle had seen that look and that shiver before--they were reserved for her alone. The intent look was a signal Gabrielle had learned to look for to alert her to her warrior's needs. Anger flowed hot and heavy through her veins as she saw Xena leave the table and follow the woman to another room.
Gabrielle tried to calm herself down by taking a few deep breaths and saying some meditative prayers. "In with love, out with hate," she chanted, but nothing was working. If anything it only seemed to fuel her jealous anger even more. She ran back around the house to the front door and silently let herself in. She followed the sound of voices until she came to another door. Gabrielle leaned her ear up against the door and when she heard Xena's moan, she gritted her teeth. Letting out a mighty roar, Gabrielle burst through the door.
Xena felt light headed and a little dizzy. The meal had started out good, Dahje was a gracious hostess keeping her mug full and her plate filled. Xena had dropped her guise of the stoic when she found Dahje to be warm and totally hilarious. She was making Xena laugh when it had been ages since she had had a good laugh. Gabrielle used to make her laugh all the time, but not anymore. Now there was always silence. Xena brushed these thoughts aside and concentrated on the exotic woman in front of her. When Dahje had leaned down to breathe an invitation in her ear, Xena could not have stopped the slight shiver that ran through her body. Xena had succumbed to temptation and followed her into the next room.
Her mind a little hazy, Xena did not once think of Gabrielle or of the consequences should she venture down this path. There were only two things clear to her: Dahje wanted her and Xena had not gotten any in a long time. When Dahje had led her into the next room, Xena had stumbled a bit and the smaller woman had caught her. They were face to face and Dahje gave Xena that smile again.
Dahje's blood was singing in anticipation. Things were going exactly as she had planned. All during the meal she had been drugging Xena with powders poured in her drink. It had taken several mugs to even faze the warrior, but she had finally done it. She had been pleased to see the shiver run through Xena when she had whispered an invitation. She had relished the intense look the warrior had given her in response. Now she was so close. She had the warrior in her arms and slowly nuzzled Xena's neck. When Xena moaned, Dahje felt the sweet thrill of victory. Her victory was short lived as she heard a loud roar and the door bursting open to reveal an enraged, blond woman who was looking at her as if she was going to kill her.
Xena turned and she concentrated on focusing her eyes. Slowly, she began to see Gabrielle stand there, chest heaving and eyes shooting sparks. Her befuddled mind irrationally noticed how beautiful Gabrielle was when she was angry. Then she realized, 'what was Gabrielle doing here?' Xena had a hard time thinking straight and suddenly the room started to spin. "Gabrielle?" She whispered and tried to take a step forward only to see darkness as she collapsed to the floor.
Gabrielle took one look at Xena lying on the floor and turned a baleful gaze on Dahje. It didn't take long to figure out what was wrong with Xena. The reasons behind her warrior's actions would be dealt with later. Right now, the only thing Gabrielle wanted to know was who this tramp was.
"Who are you?" demanded Dahje. The strange woman was of the same height and build as she was but the outraged woman was fair where Dahje was dark, and her eyes were a brilliant emerald. Her hair was cut very close to her head but the style suited her. From the way she was glaring at her, Dahje surmised this must be Xena's friend. Dahje gave an amused smile to the still panting Gabrielle. "So, you are Xena's friend?" Dahje looked Gabrielle up and down and was not worried, this woman would not stand in her way.
Gabrielle felt something akin to hatred running through her veins. In one small part of her mind, she knew she was betraying all that she professed to hold sacred and dear, but the only thing that mattered now was this woman who had tried to take Xena away from her. Gabrielle felt the jealous anger again when the woman had surveyed her and given her an amused smile. With an angry cry, Gabrielle launched herself at the woman and knocked her backwards onto the small bed in the middle of the room
"Bitch," she rasped, "I'll teach you to try and take what is mine." Gabrielle started to rain vicious slaps on Dahje's face. The woman tried to cover her face with her hands, but this only enraged Gabrielle more. She used her left hand to grab Dahje's hands and hold them high above her head. Gabrielle balled her hand into a fist and swung, catching Dahje full in the face. Her head snapped to the side with the force of the blow. Gabrielle just kept swinging and swinging, screaming incoherent words, releasing all of the frustration on a now unconscious Dahje. She drew her arm back again only to have it caught and held. She whipped her head around to see Xena standing behind her with a disbelieving look on her face.
"Gabrielle?" Xena asked fuzzily. She had regained consciousness and had been disoriented to discover herself on the floor. Her mind registered the sounds of someone getting the snot beat out of them. The warrior slowly rose into a crouch and peered around looking for the fight. She was momentarily stunned speechless when she saw Gabrielle on top of Dahje raining some pretty heavy blows on her face. Gabrielle was ranting incoherently and Xena could only make out a few words. It was clear that Dahje was unconscious and that her little Amazon had gone crazy with blood lust.
The warrior decided enough was enough and slowly rose to her feet. The movement caused her head to spin and the moments it took to recover only let Gabrielle hurt Dahje more. Xena saw Gabrielle draw back her arm again and she reached out to catch her before she swung again. The look in Gabrielle's eyes shocked Xena. This woman was not her sweet, peace loving bard. This woman had a jealous, crazed look of enjoyment on her face. Xena stood there disbelieving, Gabrielle was enjoying this. She had only seen that look twice in all of their travels together, but even those had never been this bad. She winced when she saw the bruise on Gabrielle's face and her swollen puffy lip.
Gabrielle tried to see through the red haze clouding her vision. It was Xena who was holding her arm, she realized. 'It was Xena whose fault this was. It was Xena who had left her. It was Xena! It was Xena! IT WAS XENA!!!' Her mind screamed over and over again. With a cry of rage, Gabrielle turned on Xena and pushed her hard against the wall. She gave a growl and charged the warrior princess.
She began to viciously hit Xena anywhere she could. Her rage filled mind couldn't stop, wouldn't stop until Xena was punished. Gabrielle started yelling all kind of things at Xena. Most of them were jumbled and muttered but one phrase Xena heard as clear as day. "I hate you for this, Xena." Gabrielle screamed and kept up the physical assault on the warrior. It wasn't until she heard Xena's voice and felt strong hands grab her and start to shake her, that Gabrielle knew something was terribly wrong.
Xena couldn't take it anymore. Gabrielle had surprised her when she had shoved her against the wall. The punches hadn't really hurt. Xena's body had taken worse before. It was the statement of hatred that had broken her heart and she knew she had to snap Gabrielle out of it. With Gabrielle's words ringing in her ears, Xena began to call her name and shake her until she saw some sort of reason and logic return to Gabrielle. She let go and stood there waiting for Gabrielle to realize what had happened. Soon, Gabrielle's pupils dilated in shock as she looked around her. She saw Dahje lying on the bed, her face covered in blood, and raised trembling hands up to her face. Gabrielle started to laugh hysterically when she saw the blood on them. Her laugh made Xena close her eyes and wince at the ugly sound. Gabrielle just kept laughing. Finally, Xena started to shake her until she slapped her hard.
The slap brought Gabrielle back to reality. She started to sob and felt strong arms encircle her. The warmth and tenderness she felt from Xena was too much. Still sobbing, she pushed out of Xena's embrace and fled from the house into the woods. Xena started to follow, but a moan from Dahje made her stop short. Turning to the smaller woman, Xena felt sympathy flow through her. 'Gabrielle had a mean right hook,' she thought as she gingerly touched her stomach. She knew from experience.
The warrior found some cloths and water and cleaned away the blood covering the younger woman's face. Once the blood was cleared away, she could see that Dahje only had two superficial cuts that had bled so much because of where they were located. Xena had to cringe though when she saw all of the bruises Gabrielle had inflicted. Some of them were already starting to turn purple. Needless to say, Dahje was going to hurt like Hades tomorrow.
Slowly, Dahje became aware of her surroundings. She was in her room, lying on the bed, but she felt as if a herd of elephants had marched over her head. Lifting her head gingerly, Dahje noticed Xena sitting beside her. She tried to smile but it hurt too much. "Wha . . . what happened?" she whispered. Xena gave a rueful smile. "You remember my friend I was telling you about?" Dahje slowly, painfully nodded. "That was her. Are you alright?"
"I remember standing here with you and then this blond haired demon bursts in and attacks me. She is very strong for someone so small. I know she hit me and I was out. What happened after that?" Xena hesitated to answer. Dahje said derisively, "Come, come now Xena, I know your friend was too enraged to stop with one blow. She must have taken out all of her frustrations on me because my head feels as if elephants had tramped on it. Where is she now?" Dahje asked.
"She left. I am sorry about Gabrielle. She is really never like that. She is actually one of the most kind, most loving people you'll ever meet. She . . . "
"Oh yes, I can see her saint-like qualities, I am already halfway to loving her," Dahje snapped sarcastically.
Xena stood up and stared down at Dahje coldly. 'Calm down,' she told herself. She had just let Dahje get away with something no one else did. NO ONE talked disparagingly about Gabrielle, NO ONE. Xena forced her temper to cool, taking into account the beating the smaller woman had suffered at Gabrielle's hands. She would cut Dahje some slack . . . .this time. Xena turned to leave.
"Wait, where are you going?" Dahje asked.
"To find her and straighten things out."
"You are leaving me to go and find her???" Dahje said incredulously.
Xena turned to look directly into the smaller woman's eyes. "Yeah, I am. I'm very sorry for everything that has happened, it's my fault. I never should have come here. I have to go and find her and make sure she is okay," Xena paused and said quietly, "she comes first. She always has and always will." The warrior strode out of the room in search of Gabrielle. 'Please let me find her,' she prayed.
Gabrielle ran until her legs would carry her no farther. She dropped to the ground and cried some more. Her whole body was trembling in shock, and she didn't know how long she was there. Suddenly, she felt strong, sure arms lifting her and placing her against a strong chest. Gabrielle whimpered in protest, but her rescuer did not put her down. Her body went limp from physical and mental exhaustion and she listened to the strong heartbeat echoing in her ears. Xena's heartbeat had always made her feel calm. 'Xena,' Gabrielle thought, 'I need Xena.' "I . . . I need . . . .I need Xena," she whispered hoarsely.
"Shhhhhh," a voice whispered, "It's alright little one, it's alright. You're safe now, safe . . . safe." Gabrielle closed her eyes as the voice faded. Her last thought before unconsciousness overtook her, was that the voice she heard comforting her was not Xena's.
"Damn, which way?" Xena wondered aloud. She had followed Gabrielle's trail until she came to a fork in the road. One path went deeper into the forest, the other went to a village in the distance. Xena noticed a larger set of prints where Gabrielle's ended. Xena paled, 'What if someone had taken Gabrielle. No, don't think that way,' she told herself. She followed the trail to the village. 'Hang on Gabrielle,' Xena silently pleaded. 'I'm coming.'
Gabrielle awoke slowly. She was in a strange bed in a strange room. She started to sit up when she realized she wasn't wearing any clothes. The bard gasped and pulled the blanket up to her neck. Just then a tall man entered the room and seemed to fill it with his presence. Gabrielle scooted back to the farthest part of the bed.
'Hello little one. You are feeling better?" his deep voice asked. Gabrielle remained silent. "Come, come now. I will not harm you. Had I wished to, I could have when you were much weaker." His words made sense and Gabrielle nodded.
"Where are my clothes?" she asked nervously.
"The rags you were wearing are gone. I brought some new clothes for you when you feel up to joining the land of the living." His baritone voice melted around her. The voice had a mellow, comforting quality to it.
"Thank you. My name is Gabrielle." She said, a tentative smile on her face.
"Such a beautiful name. I am Rafa. Tell me Gabrielle, how did you come to be in the forest and in such a weakened state?"
Gabrielle looked nervously down at her hands. She was hesitant to discuss the whys and wherefores of the events prior to her being there.
Rafa sensed her discomfort and gave a low chuckle. "All right little one, you don't have to share with me. I respect your privacy and I would be honored if you would join me for the evening meal."
"OK let me get dressed." His answer to this was another low chuckle and a nod. He silently rose and left the room. 'For a big man, he moves so silently,' she thought.
She pondered her rescuer. He was about Xena's age and about six feet tall. He had a gentleness about him though. Rafa had short dark hair and warm brown eyes. His hands were large and powerful, yet Gabrielle knew they had been infinitely gentle when he had carried her here. Something in his voice made Gabrielle's heart smile and she knew she could listen to his rich baritone forever.
She glanced at the clothes. They were made from a fine material and were feather light. She rummaged through them and found some breeches and pants. She slipped them on and tied the drawstring around her slender waist. Next she picked up a long shirt that fell to her knees when she slipped it over her head. The clothes were comfortable, if not a little old fashioned. Gabrielle was used to her sari, but this outfit was nice. She took a deep breath and stepped out of the room to enter a large living area.
"Ahh, you are a vision Gabrielle," Rafa's deep voice called. He was setting the table and motioned for her to come and sit. Gabrielle did and as she sat, asked, "How long was I asleep?"
"Two days, your mind and your body needed time to heal so I let you rest checking in on you from time to time. Is there something wrong?" he asked at Gabrielle's paling.
"Yes actually. I've been out for two days straight and well um, there is also the matter of my being undressed." Gabrielle's cheeks flushed with color.
Even Rafa looked a bit unnerved, but said in a practical tone, "You needed to be tended to and cared for Gabrielle. I took no liberties when I undressed you. I apologize for the embarrassment but I did what needed to be done." Brown eyes met green ones in silent appeal. Gabrielle nodded and laughed. "I'm just not used to um, you know, a strange man seeing me, um . . . " she trailed off, embarrassed.
Rafa raised his hands, "Say no more. Come, you must be famished." At that moment, Gabrielle's stomach grumbled loudly and they both had to laugh. Rafa fed Gabrielle some warm and filling soup followed by some fruit. Gabrielle was having a hard time keeping her eyes open. Her stomach was full and sleep was beckoning once again. Rafa gently led her back to the bed and tucked her in. He sighed. This beautiful woman was making him feel things he had not felt in years. He shook his head and quietly left the room.
Xena was about to take her chakram and split the skull of everyone in this accursed little village. She had searched in vain for Gabrielle for the past two days. No one had seen anyone matching her bard's description. Xena was beginning to feel the first stirrings of real fear. 'If she didn't get any kind of lead on Gabrielle soon . . . ' Xena pushed that thought away. She was wandering through the town square for the fifth time when a group of loud, laughing men caught her attention. She carefully made her way over near the group and eavesdropped on the conversation.
"Have you heard about the girl Rafa has?" the first man asked.
"New girl? Tell us man, tell us," his companions urged.
"Well," the speaker began importantly," it seems good widower Rafa found the girl in the woods and brought her home. He wouldn't tell me much else except for the girl needs time to heal her body and soul. I think Rafa wants to do the healing," the man suggested lewdly.
"What's she look like?" his companions wondered.
"Well, she's blonde, green eyes, and a body to die for." The men guffawed and began to disperse. Xena had barely managed to keep her rage in check as she heard this idiot talk about her beloved. Here was her chance. She walked up to him and said casually, "Where can I find this Rafa?"
The man turned and lewdly ran his eyes down the warrior's body. "What do you want a monk like him for when you can have a real man?"
"Like you?" Xena's eyebrow arched.
The man nodded. "Wrong answer," and Xena put the pinch on him. The man fell to his knees and started to gasp in pain. Xena smirked, "I've just cut off the flow of blood to your brain, you'll be dead within seconds unless you tell me what I want to know." The man gasped, "Follow the road through the village . . . to the north . . . you can't miss it." He was starting to bleed from the nose.
"Good." Xena took the pinch off him and set out north. Soon she came to a simple house and she walked up to the front door and knocked. A tall man came to the door and asked politely, "May I help you?"
"Are you Rafa?" Xena asked in a neutral voice. "I am." The deep baritone replied. "Can I help you with something?"
"Yeah, I need to know if you have a house guest about this tall," Xena gestured to about her shoulders, "short blonde hair, green eyes."
"You must be talking about Gabrielle," Rafa smiled warmly. "She was here but left earlier this morning. She went in that direction," and he pointed with his finger.
"This morning, huh?" Xena asked.
"Yes, is there anything else I can help you with?" he asked solicitously.
"You have helped me more than you can know," she said and headed east.
"Wait," Rafa called, "who are you?"
"Name's Xena," she called back and kept walking.
Rafa closed the door and leaned against it. He closed his eyes. He could not believe he had deliberately misled a total stranger. Gabrielle was affecting him more than he thought. 'Xena,' he wondered, 'who was Xena?' He decided to ask when Gabrielle awoke from her nap.
Gabrielle stretched and yawned. 'Gods that felt good,' she thought. She swung her feet onto the floor and peered out the door to see Rafa sitting at the table, deep in thought. She silently moved to stand in front of him. "Rafa?" she called softly. Startled, Rafa looked up and was momentarily speechless when he saw how beautiful Gabrielle was. He broke the silence by looking away and clearing his throat. "I am sorry little one, I did not hear you." Rafa turned apologetic eyes to meet Gabrielle's green ones.
"That's all right. I didn't mean to interrupt. Would you rather be alone?"
"No please, join me." Rafa's baritone washed over Gabrielle like a gentle rain.
"Rafa, I've been meaning to ask you something. Ah, well, um, are..I mean.. do you live . . . alone?" Color suffused the bard's cheeks.
Rafa gave her a deep grin, showing his dimples. "Yes Gabrielle, I am alone here." His smile faded. "There has been no woman here for many years."
"I'm sorry," Gabrielle said," I didn't mean to stir up any hurtful memories."
"No, no little one, I do not mind. Would you like to hear about my wife?" he asked. Gabrielle nodded. Rafa proceeded to tell her about his beloved Majiida, who had been captured, beaten, raped, and finally murdered by a local warlord. At this point, his voice was tinged with sadness and his eyes filled with tears as he told Gabrielle of how he was forced to watch his beloved being raped and killed before his eyes by the man behind the terror tactics. "I wanted revenge and for awhile I let the hatred consume me. One day I realized my life did not belong to me anymore and I could not accept what I had become. So I let go of all the pain and hate and I let my wife rest in peace. I still miss her at times but I believe I will see her again in the next life."
When Rafa finished, he looked at Gabrielle only to see tears running down her face. He opened his arms and she came to him sobbing openly now. "Shhh, I did not mean to make you cry little one." He whispered comfortingly. He closed his eyes and reveled in this closeness with Gabrielle. He breathed deeply to inhale her scent. It was intoxicating and he knew he wanted her with him for the rest of his life. "Gabrielle?" he asked softly with concern in his baritone voice.
"I'm ok. I was just moved by your story Rafa. I've felt that way too. I learned just like you did to let the hatred go and live a life of peace and love." At this Gabrielle put her head down. "Gabrielle, who is Xena?" Rafa asked quietly.
Gabrielle stiffened and pulled out of his embrace. 'Xena,' she thought, 'where was Xena? Had she not even come for her? Was she still angry?' Gabrielle felt shame pour through her as she realized that this was the first time the thought of her lover had passed her mind. Rafa was waiting for her answer though.
Taking a deep breath, Gabrielle said, "Xena is my best friend Rafa. We have been traveling together for about five summers now and been through everything imaginable. She . . . she's the other half of me. You said that you and your wife would see one another in the next life, well the same goes for Xena and me. We depend on each other for all kinds of things. We need each other I guess you could say. She is the most important person in my life and there is no one I love more than Xena. I'd do anything for her, I'd die for her," at this Gabrielle laughed, "I have." At Rafa's look of disbelief, Gabrielle shook her head and said, "It's a long story, but why do you ask?"
"You called her name in your sleep many times," he said. It was a half-truth. Gabrielle nodded. She wondered where Xena was and if she was all right. Deep in thought, she did not hear Rafa come up from behind and gently turn her to face him. Before Gabrielle knew what was happening, she felt warm lips on hers.
Rafa couldn't say what had possessed him to kiss Gabrielle. He only knew that her lips were sweet and soft. He gently sent his tongue forward to brush her lips, silently begging for entry. Rafa moaned when she opened her mouth for him and sent his tongue forward to dance and mate with hers. He heard and felt her soft sigh and felt her hands slide up to his chest. Suddenly she pushed against him and tore her lips from his.
Gabrielle momentarily was lost in the feel of Rafa's mouth on hers. She closed her eyes when he had asked for permission and had responded automatically by opening her mouth. His tongue was nimble and warm. She unconsciously sighed and raised her hands. Reality hit her and it dawned on her that this was not Xena. Disgusted with herself, she tore herself out of his arms and turned away. Her breath was coming in ragged gasps and she trembled with anger. "Why did you do that?" she demanded.
"Gabrielle I am sorry. I don't know what came over me . . . no wait, I do know," Rafa paused and looked directly into the bard's emerald eyes. "I love you Gabrielle."
"You what?!?" Gabrielle cried disbelieving.
"I love you," he repeated. "I have fallen in love with you and I want you to stay here with me. Let me take care of you for the rest of my life." Rafa's rich voice trembled with emotion and Gabrielle was hard pressed to deny him.
But she had to. "I'm sorry Rafa, I care about you very much but my heart, my love belongs to someone already. Whether or not I am loved in return isn't the point. You deserve someone who will love you whole heartedly and I can't do that. I'm so sorry." Gabrielle whispered.
Rafa stood and said," I understand little one. Though my heart does not appreciate it, I am grateful for your honesty. Whoever it is that you have give your love to is truly blessed." Gabrielle gave him a hug and Rafa returned it with all of the love in his heart. The pair were startled apart when a familiar way cry cut through the air.
A very upset warrior princess burst through the door only to see her bard in the arms of a strange man. White, hot rage flowed through her and she gave her famous battle cry and flipped forward to stand directly in front of the pair.
"Xena," Gabrielle breathed. She took in the sight of her warrior's magnificence and felt her heart skip a beat. The bard then noticed how angry the warrior was and saw the look of insane jealousy in the deep blue eyes of her lover.
Xena took a step towards Rafa, who was just standing there with a resigned look on his face. The warrior princess was feeling murderous right now and if Rafa so much as moved an eyelid, she would skewer him on her sword. Her lips pulled back in a menacing smile. All her mind could think was that here was the man who had taken Gabrielle, lied to her about where the bard was, and was trying to take what belonged to her.
"You," Xena hissed, "have just made the last mistake you'll ever make." She swept Rafa's feet out from under him and he fell heavily to the ground. Xena heard Gabrielle cry out in alarm but the warrior princess was too consumed with jealousy to stop now. Making him kneel, Xena put the pinch on Rafa and sat in a chair and crossed her legs. She studied her fingernails. "Oh," she said with a bored voice, "I've just cut off the flow of blood to your brain, you'll be dead within seconds, but there is one thing I do want to know. Why did you lie to me?" Xena demanded.
Rafa struggled to catch a breath. 'Merciful Brahma, he could not breathe.' He gasped and tried to force the words out. "Be . . . Because I did not . . . know if you . . . were . . . a friend of Gabrielle's," he managed to say.
"Oh," Xena said, indifferently. "Well give my regards to Tartarus," and she re-crossed her legs and watched Rafa begin to bleed from the nose. She felt rather than saw Gabrielle come up to her and say, "Xena stop this." Xena simply sat there and continued to watch. "Xena," Gabrielle raised her voice in alarm. "Let him go, he helped me. Xena . . . . Xena!!" Gabrielle yelled. The warrior princess turned to look at Gabrielle with a look of anger, jealousy and regret.
Gabrielle said through clenched teeth, "Let him go Xena. I won't let you take an innocent life, let him go," Gabrielle took a deep breath. "Or I'll never forgive you for this . . . . NEVER!!!!"
The threat of not having Gabrielle's forgiveness motivated Xena enough to release the pressure points. Rafa fell to the floor choking for breath in deep, long gasps. Gabrielle rushed to his side. The warrior princess looked on with a cold look in her eyes. "Are you all right?" Gabrielle whispered. Rafa just nodded. The warrior had nearly killed him. She would have let him die if not for Gabrielle.
He raised his eyes to look into the steely gaze of the warrior princess. This was whom Gabrielle loved, and it was quite obvious she was well loved in return. From the look on Xena's face, it was apparent that she did not appreciate anyone touching Gabrielle, looking at Gabrielle, or trying to love Gabrielle. Rafa knew in that moment that Gabrielle would never be his. This warrior would die first before she let her go. Gabrielle's heart belonged to the tall woman and there was nothing he could do about it. He slowly rose to his feet and took one last deep breath.
"I am sorry I lied to you warrior. The truth is that I did not know who you were and what your connection to Gabrielle was. I could not risk her safety. I also thought you might be the one she kept calling out to during her slumber. I did not want to lose her and I did not want to take that chance, so I lied to you both." Rafa turned to look at Gabrielle. "Your friend had come the day you awoke and I told her you had already left here. I'm sorry Gabrielle, I didn't want you to leave and I still don't." Rafa looked down at the ground for a moment before he continued. "I still love you and I want you to stay here with me. Please, stay with me." His mellow voice quivered with unshed tears and emotions.
Gabrielle looked from Rafa to Xena. She had a choice to make. Stay with Rafa and be loved, cherished, and cared for the rest of her life, or leave with Xena and begin to see whether or not their love could be saved. In times before, there had never been a choice, Xena had always won. This time, her heart was being torn in two very different directions. Gabrielle looked up at Xena. The warrior was standing there with no expression on her face. When Gabrielle looked closer, she saw love and fear in those deep blue eyes. 'Xena is afraid,' Gabrielle realized and saw that both Xena and Rafa were waiting for her decision.
Gabrielle looked in her heart. To stay with Rafa would be the easy way out. There were so many things Xena and she needed to work out, but what if they couldn't fix it this time? 'No,' Gabrielle thought, 'we've come too far. I won't give up on us now.' Slowly she turned to face Rafa. "Rafa, you have done so much for me. I can't begin to thank you for all your hospitality and kindness. Remember I told you my heart and my love already belonged to someone. Well, there she is." Gabrielle gestured towards Xena. "I'm sorry. I belong to Xena, I always have and I always will."
Rafa hung his head in remorse. "I understand little one."
Gabrielle turned to Xena. "Give me a minute and I'll meet you outside." Xena nodded, turned and walked outside into the evening. She closed her eyes and said a silent prayer of thanks. Gabrielle was still with her. Now, they just needed to work through this so they could move on, together.
Inside, Gabrielle stood in front of Rafa and gave him a fierce hug. "Thank you for everything," she whispered.
"No Gabrielle, thank you." He said in a low voice. She looked into his eyes and they smiled. He leaned forward to kiss her but she turned her face so that he kissed her cheek. She turned and walked out the door. "Good bye my love." Rafa called softly, not noticing the tears running down his face.
Outside, Xena stood waiting for Gabrielle, trying to think of all the things she wanted to say. She felt a light touch on her shoulder and turned to see Gabrielle standing there. Xena closed her eyes. "Gabrielle, I . . . .." she began, but was silenced by a finger being placed against her lips. Gabrielle shook her head and led Xena back through the village and to their original campsite, where it had all began.
The Amazon Queen and the Warrior Princess sat facing each other. No words had been spoken yet and each seemed unsure of themselves.
They said each other's name at the same time causing them both to laugh. "You go first," Gabrielle said. Xena nodded, took a deep breath and took the plunge.
"This is all my fault. No, wait," she said when Gabrielle tried to interrupt," hear me out. First things first, I . . . I'm so sorry for hurting you." Xena gently brushed the now fading bruise on Gabrielle's cheek. "I don't know what came over me. You know I wouldn't hurt you for anything. I guess I just snapped due to all the frustration. Second, Gods, I know I started the argument that led up to my hurting you. I was just so frustrated and upset because we hadn't been talking at all. There were, are, so many things I want to ask you and share with you, but I couldn't find a way to break the silence. I missed talking with you, sharing with you . . . . . . .loving you," Xena said softly, looking at Gabrielle. "When I ran into the woods, I needed to get away from you before I hurt you. I couldn't stay because I was so horrified and ashamed at what I had done. That is when I met Dahje."
Xena drew a deep breath, Gabrielle was not going to like this. "I know I shouldn't have gone, but well I figured with how angry at me you must have been, you wouldn't come looking for me. It was a lapse in judgment, but I swear Gabrielle, I wouldn't have . . . I mean . . . I would never be unfaithful to you." Blue eyes sought green ones in silent appeal. "Truthfully, I remember eating dinner, but after a few drinks," Xena shook her head, "I started feeling light headed. I mean we both know I can drink almost anyone under the table, but I had only had two or three mugs and I felt drunk." Xena hung her head in shame.
"As for Rafa, well what can I say. I had been looking for you for the past two days. I must have tore up that damn town ten times looking for you. I overheard some idiots talking about you, so I found out where you were at. I met Rafa at the door and he told me you had left. I believed him and wasted four freaking hours following a path I knew you hadn't been down. I remembered seeing your sari stuffed in a pack outside, so I turned around and came for you." Here the warrior princess again paused before going on. "When I saw him holding you, I guess I lost it again. It's a good thing you were there Gabrielle. I would have let him die."
Gabrielle brought her head up to look at Xena. There was a sadness in the warrior's eyes. "I have never known such a jealous rage before. I don't share what's mine, and you belong to me. I was going to kill him for daring to touch you. I know it was wrong," Xena continued with contrition heavy in her voice. "When he told you he loved you and to stay with him, it was like Perdicus all over again. I thought I was going to lose you . . . .again. I hoped with all my heart you would stay with me and give me a chance to explain myself to you. I don't want to lose you and I'm so terribly sorry for everything." Xena finished, whispering the last words softly. A tear escaped from her eye and before she could wipe it away, Gabrielle was gently brushing it with her finger. She leaned over and gently kissed Xena on the lips. "My turn," she whispered.
"First things first, I won't let you take all of the blame for what happened. I helped remember?" she asked with a rueful grin. "My patience had been at an all time low because we weren't talking and I wanted a fight just as bad as you did. All those horrible things I said about your past, I didn't mean them Xena. I just wanted to hurt you because you had hurt me. Truth be told, I deserved what I got. No wait," Gabrielle said when Xena started to sputter. "I know you and I know what buttons to push to make you angry. I pushed too hard and I got what I deserved. I followed you into the woods to try to explain and beg for forgiveness. I followed your trail down to . . . her house and I saw you through the window. I got bit by the green eyed monster. I was so angry at you for giving in, but I was furious at her for trying to take you away. You aren't the only possessive one." She grinned and was rewarded with an answering smile from Xena.
The smile faded as Gabrielle continued. "I tried to control my anger by thinking of peace. I even tried prayer but it only enraged me more. I went back to the front door and found the room you were in. When I heard your voice, I barged in and there you were in the arms of someone else." The bard's eyes darkened as she remembered the next few events. "When I saw you fall to the ground, I knew you had been drugged. Then that . . . woman," Gabrielle spat the word, "had the nerve to ask who I was and what did I want. I lost it Xena, I really did. So I charged her and started beating the living daylights out of her. I couldn't stop," the bard's voice broke. "I just couldn't stop. I wanted to see her pay for touching you. You belong to me and no one else can have you," she said fiercely. "When you stopped me, I guess I just transferred all of my anger for her onto you. I didn't mean to hurt you. When I realized what I had done, I couldn't stay there anymore. I remember running until I just fell from exhaustion and that is where I met Rafa. I remember being carried and my last thought was that the voice comforting me wasn't yours."
"I woke up in a strange room with no clothes. He took care of me, Xena," Gabrielle said when she saw the murderous look on her lover's face. "He never tried to force me." She took a deep breath, Xena was not going to like this next part. "He kissed me," she blurted.
Xena stood up and was ready to go back to that village and beat the life out of Rafa. "Wait Xena please, let me finish," Gabrielle pleaded. The warrior put a lid on her temper and sat back down. "The thing is . . . is that I kissed him back." Emerald eyes met shocked blue ones. The look quickly changed to hurt. "I did kiss him back but I pulled away because he wasn't you, and my heart and my love belong to you," she said sincerely. "That is when he told me he loved me. I told him I already loved someone more than life. That is when you saw us hugging. I will be honest Xena, when he asked me to choose, I was torn. But I believe in our love enough to try and get through this. I'm sorry for saying all of those horrible things. I didn't mean any of them. I can't say I am totally sorry for my acts of jealousy, but I am sorry I couldn't control myself."
The bard was silent for a moment. When she lifted her head to speak again, there were tears shimmering in her eyes. "I guess I'm just failing all of the tests I am put through. I say I won't use violence, but look how I beat someone senseless. What kind of a person am I?" Gabrielle could not stop the tears from falling. Xena took the sobbing woman in her arms and held her tightly against her chest. The sobs tore at her heart, but she knew Gabrielle had to get it out of her system. "Shhhh, Gabrielle, it's ok, Shhhhhh," Xena soothed, rocking Gabrielle back and forth.
"Hey, listen to me," Xena made Gabrielle look at her. "You are the most kind, most generous and loving person I know. Gabrielle, only a strong courageous person would fight for what was hers, and you did. You believe in love, in our love, enough to try and work all of this out with me." Xena gently chided. "You are the best thing in my life. You are my guiding light, my balance in this world, you are my reason for being. You, Gabrielle, because of the person you are. Don't doubt yourself."
Gabrielle listened and watched Xena say all these things. The warrior had never been so eloquent in stating her feelings. The sincerity and love in Xena's eyes helped to heal her battered soul and make her heart swell with love for her warrior. The tender words made Gabrielle's tears start anew. She fiercely hugged Xena, trying not to let her see the tears rolling down her cheeks.
"Why are you crying now?" Xena asked bewildered. "I love you." Gabrielle whispered in Xena's ear. "You know just what to say to make me feel special and loved."
"That is because you ARE special and loved." Xena shivered at the breathy quality of Gabrielle's voice. With a grin she said, "Remind me never to make you angry."
Why?" Gabrielle shifted back to look directly into deep blue eyes.
"Because you've got a mean right hook." Xena said in mock seriousness. Playfully, Gabrielle growled and threw herself against Xena.
"That's right warrior princess," she growled in mock ferocity," it's a good thing you know who's in charge around here."
Xena arched her eyebrow. "Oh, really?" she asked softly.
Gabrielle smiled, nodding. "Yep, really." Her tone was confident.
Suddenly the bard felt herself being tossed onto their blankets. She looked up to see Xena looking down at her. "You were saying?" she grinned wickedly.
"No fair," Gabrielle protested weakly, "I wasn't ready."
"But you're in charge," Xena mocked, desire spreading though her body. Her hand unerringly found the heart of Gabrielle's pleasure. She felt damp heat coming through the thin pants. A grin crossed her face as she realized just how ready Gabrielle was.
Gabrielle shivered beneath the delicious weight of her lover's body. Her breath quickened at the desire she saw in Xena's eyes and also when she felt Xena's hand caressing her mound. "What are you going to do to me?" she asked in breathless anticipation.
"My dear sweet Gabrielle, it isn't what am I going to do to you," Xena said, with a mischievous gleam in her blue eyes. "It's what am I NOT going to do to you." She gave Gabrielle a lecherous smile. At Xena's words, Gabrielle felt a rush of wet heat pool heavily between her legs. She closed her eyes and waited for Xena to begin.
The warrior princess tried hard not to smile. Her little bard looked so eager for her loving, but Xena decided a different plan of action. She withdrew her hand and sat back and waited for Gabrielle to open her eyes before she began her quest of surrender.
Gabrielle waited and waited for a touch that never came. Finally, she cracked one eye open to look around. She opened the other one to see Xena still above her but desperately trying not to smile.
"What are you waiting for?" She demanded. "You." Xena said with laughter in her voice. "Me?" It was Gabrielle's turn to arch her eyebrow. "Why?"
"You said you were in charge Gabrielle," Xena explained with a grin. "I'm waiting for you to tell me what to do."
"Oh," Gabrielle breathed, desire building in her as she realized that Xena was letting her be in control. "Kiss me." The statement sounded more like a question.
"Whatever you say," Xena whispered before she pressed her lips to Gabrielle's. She felt the bard open her mouth but Xena kept her lips chastely closed. Gabrielle pushed against Xena's mouth, the warrior pushed back. Gabrielle whimpered against Xena's mouth and ran her tongue along the seam of Xena's lips, but the warrior princess still kept her mouth closed. Gabrielle pushed back and gasped, "Xena!"
"What?" Xena asked innocently, a wicked grin on her face.
"I told you to kiss me." Gabrielle said.
"I did," Xena defended.
"Not the way I . . . . that is it, isn't it? I have to be specific?" Gabrielle's only answer was another grin. The bard groaned. "Kiss me again." Xena started to lean closer and right when their lips were going to meet, Gabrielle whispered, "and use your tongue."
Xena needed no more encouragement. She thrust her tongue deep in to Gabrielle's hot, sweet mouth. The bard moaned in response and sent her tongue forward to tangle and tease with her lover's. They fought passionately back and forth for supremacy until Gabrielle retreated, causing Xena to send her tongue forward again. They played this game of attack and retreat until Gabrielle broke the kiss to try and catch her breath.
Xena was in the same predicament. She was on fire with need, but her iron control forced her to wait. She was going to drive Gabrielle wild and if that meant delaying her own release, then so be it. It was extremely difficult for her though. She wanted to rip Gabrielle's clothes off and ravish her, but Xena was determined to see her little game through to the end. She waited for Gabrielle's next command.
Gabrielle looked down between their bodies. "We have to do something about all these clothes," she hinted.
"What do you suggest?" Xena raised a dark eyebrow.
"Take them off," Gabrielle commanded. Xena reached for the drawstring to Gabrielle's pants, but the bard's hands stopped her. "No," Gabrielle said, this time it was she who had the wicked grin, "you first."
Xena smiled slightly and sat up. She unlaced her boots and slipped them off, then slid her gauntlets and arm bands off. Gabrielle had raised herself up on her elbows to leisurely take in the magnificent body being revealed to her one piece of armor at a time.
The warrior reached up to unhook the bronzed breastplates and side fastenings of her armor. Gabrielle's breathing was considerably heavier as Xena stripped off her leather tunic leaving her only in her shift. Xena glanced up at Gabrielle. Her bard was flushed with desire, her eyes a brilliant emerald, and her chest was heaving slightly. Xena gave Gabrielle a knowing smile and ever so slowly grabbed the edge and started to pull it up and over. Gabrielle's eyes darkened with increasing desire as the muscular thighs were revealed, the downy curls at the apex of Xena's legs, the slim waist with well defined muscles, the magnificent breasts. All of Xena's radiant beauty was presented to Gabrielle. True to form, the warrior princess was completely without modesty and waited with anticipation for Gabrielle to issue her next request.
The bard licked suddenly dry lips and swallowed convulsively. She was thoroughly enjoying the sight of Xena's body, but she needed more physical contact. She raised her eyes to meet the gaze of her lover and whispered softly, "Now me."
Again she was given a wicked grin by the warrior. Wordlessly, Xena reached down and unlaced the sandals, massaging the tiny feet. Then she gently untied the drawstring to Gabrielle's pants. She squeezed the bard's shapely hips for her to lift up. The bard complied and Xena slid the pants and breeches off revealing a slender waist with abs to die for, china white thighs, a downy thatch of golden hair, and smooth, muscular legs. Xena motioned for Gabrielle to rise up on her knees, so she could pull the shirt off her. Gabrielle obediently raised her arms. They made eye contact and Gabrielle saw the mischievous gleam in her lover's eyes.
She felt strong fingers grabbing the hem of her shirt and brushing against her legs. The hands slowly traveled up the length of her body, bringing the shirt with them. When the hands came to her breasts, Gabrielle closed her eyes. Xena's hands skimmed up and over, lingering a bit on her nipples. At Gabrielle's gasp, Xena continued to pull the shirt up and over, leaving them both naked.
"Touch me," Gabrielle said. Xena put her hands on Gabrielle's hips. At Gabrielle's look of exasperation, Xena looked at her innocently. "No," she said, moving Xena's hands up to her breasts, "here." "Ok," Xena breathed and began rubbing her palms back and forth across Gabrielle's already hard nipples. "Like this?" she asked softly.
Gabrielle sighed in response. The warrior continued the caress, but moved her hands no where else. Gabrielle whimpered in frustration. Xena leaned forward to whisper in her ear. "What's wrong Gabrielle?" she breathed sending shivers down Gabrielle's body. "Isn't this what you want?" The palms continued to rub across Gabrielle's breasts.
"Gods . . . . Xena please," Gabrielle cried.
"Please what?" Xena asked in a taunting whisper. Gabrielle let out a whimper of sexual need. She grabbed one of Xena's hands to bring it down to the patch of golden hair between her legs. "Touch me here," she pleaded breathlessly.
"I am," Xena countered in a teasing voice. Gabrielle cried out again in frustration. "If this isn't what you want, then tell me Gabrielle. I want to hear the sweet, hot words." She grinned wickedly.
"I want to feel your fingers . . . and your tongue . . . inside me." Gabrielle panted. She didn't know how much more of this torment she could take. Xena was obviously trying to drive her insane with her lovemaking. Gabrielle felt that it was really Xena in control and not her. She noticed that the warrior had not moved her hand but was merely watching, a smile on her face. "I told you to do something," Gabrielle reminded.
"I heard you." Xena began to lightly caress Gabrielle's swollen, soaking sex. The bard moaned and opened her legs wider to give Xena better access, but the warrior did not deepen the contact. She just kept up the feather light touches across the swollen lips of her bard, feeling the incredible heat, the moisture already coating her fingers. "Like this?"
"Xena please," Gabrielle panted, "more."
"All in good time love." Xena promised. "First, I want you to tell me again, who is in charge?" she asked sweetly. Xena pushed her fingers just a bit deeper into Gabrielle's folds.
Gabrielle's breath was coming in ragged gasps. She gritted her teeth when she heard Xena's words. She wanted her to submit and Gabrielle would not, not this time. She tried to control her body's response to the touches, but she lost the battle. "Gods . . ." her voice trailed off.
"Mmmm, tell me Gabrielle," Xena persisted. She pushed her fingers deeper into the slick folds and began sliding them slowly back and forth. Gabrielle tipped her head back and arched her body. Her breathing was uneven and she tried to form a coherent thought. She thought she was going to die if Xena didn't take her soon. To get what she wanted, she knew she would have to submit. Her mind and her body waged war. Her body won however, pleading for release, and Gabrielle was forced to beg for Xena's touch.
"Xena," Gabrielle entreated, "please, oh gods, ahhhhhhh." She cried when Xena pushed two fingers into the warm, wet opening, but she quickly withdrew the fingers and resumed her torturous caress.
"I want to hear, who is in charge?" Gabrielle gave a ragged groan. "Tell me bard." Xena slowly pushed inside Gabrielle again. Gabrielle cried out again and her internal muscles clenched around Xena's fingers, but the warrior slid them back out and continued her previous torture of sliding her fingers back and forth.
"Xena, by the gods, I think I am going to die if you don't take me." Gabrielle said in a raw voice.
"Hmmmm." was all Xena replied and still continued her teasing. She leaned forward to take the bard's lips in a playful kiss. "Tell me what I want to hear, and I'll give you what you want." Xena whispered. She drove two fingers deep in Gabrielle's body causing the bard to cry out in ecstasy. But the fingers were withdrawn again and an agonizing scream was wrenched from Gabrielle's throat.
"GODS, XENA PLEEEASE," she sobbed. Xena heard the desperation in her lover's voice. She knew that Gabrielle's body was pleading for possession and release, but she wouldn't stop her torment, not yet. She breathed in Gabrielle's ear, her voice husky and teasing, "Tell me love, who is in charge?" Gabrielle rocked her head from side to side, nearly weeping in her frustration. She caught her bottom lip with her teeth. She was going to die, she knew it.
"C'mon Gabrielle." Xena thrust her fingers in again and slid them in and out, in and out, ever so slowly. Gabrielle wept helplessly and sank her teeth into Xena's shoulder. When the warrior withdrew yet again, Gabrielle screamed again. Her breath was coming in short painful gasps. "Tell me Gabrielle!" Xena demanded forcefully.
"YOU ARE," Gabrielle cried, unable to take the torment any longer. "You are Xena."
With a growl of triumph, Xena pushed Gabrielle back onto the blankets and nipped her way down the bard's sweat soaked body. She came to the blond curls and gently spread Gabrielle's legs. She brought her face close to the heat emanating from her lover. She inhaled the bard's unique scent and gently ran her tongue up the seam of Gabrielle's sex. The bard cried out, "Xena take me now."
"You taste so good," Xena whispered into the quivering flesh that cast back the heat of her words. Xena found the warm wet opening and pushed her tongue in as far as she could. She heard the bard cry out and her internal muscles contracted, pulling Xena's tongue deeper. The warrior slowly slid in and out of Gabrielle. She moaned when Gabrielle pushed out her hips to bring Xena even deeper inside her. Xena ground her tongue against Gabrielle's sex. She knew by the movements of her hips that her bard was near release.
Gabrielle thought she was going to just die. The feel of Xena's tongue made wave after wave of sensation wash over her. When she had started to move, Gabrielle could feel her body tugging and pulling at Xena's strong tongue. She felt and heard Xena's moan when she had pushed out her hips to get more. That tongue was like a marauder, fierce and hot. Her breath was coming even quicker now and she knew she couldn't take much more. Her body screamed for release and she ground her hips down on Xena's wet, hot mouth. Suddenly the tongue was withdrawn and she felt Xena's breath coming in pants against her thighs.
Xena felt Gabrielle on the brink and pulled her tongue out. She would give the bard what she wanted, but her quest for Gabrielle's surrender was far from over. She waited, listening to her lover's ragged breaths, and knew that Gabrielle would be begging for her touch again soon. She was surprised when Gabrielle gave another cry and grabbed Xena's head to try to force her to take her again.
Xena pulled back out of Gabrielle's grasp and waited. It was becoming harder and harder to hold back, she knew when Gabrielle found her release, she would be coming right along with her. "Xena, please take me." Gabrielle cried. Xena kissed her way back up to her lover's ear. "Poor baby, so mistreated. What is it you want again Gabrielle? Is it this?" and she thrust her fingers into Gabrielle's hot center. "Yessss," Gabrielle hissed, "please I need to feel you inside me."
Giving her a smile, Xena lowered herself back down between Gabrielle's legs and ran her tongue in between the folds. Her teeth found the sensitive nub and she sucked it hard, while pushing her tongue against it. Gabrielle's hips bucked forward and Xena continued to suckle her bard. Her own mound was soaked and she felt her body needing release as much as Gabrielle's did. When she heard Gabrielle's cries of "Please" Xena pushed two fingers deep inside Gabrielle and brought them in against the clenching muscles.
Gabrielle saw colors she had no name for dance before her eyes. She shuddered and shook as her body grabbed Xena's fingers inside her. She cried out Xena's name over and over as glorious release crashed over her. She felt Xena's tongue and fingers push harder against her and she rocked her hips back and forth trying to get more and more of the wonderful sensations.
Xena felt Gabrielle's body tighten around her fingers and she thrust harder and faster when the bard climaxed. She sucked the sensitive nub harder and was so caught up in the feeling of Gabrielle's body squeezing all around her that her own body began to climax as well. Shudders and shivers ran through the pair as they rode out the waves of subliminal release. Soon, she slowed the movements of her fingers and gently withdrew them from Gabrielle's body. She licked all the moisture pooled at the junction of her thighs and crawled her way up the bard to rest on her shoulder. Only their ragged gasps filled the air. The pair lay there for what seemed like an eternity, each basking in the glow of love.
When Xena had recovered, she lifted her head to gaze lovingly into the emerald eyes of her lover. Gabrielle still hadn't caught her breath and Xena grinned. Seeing Gabrielle like this always took her breath away and made her feel so undeserving to have her love. A gift from the gods was her Gabrielle. "You are so beautiful," she whispered. "You make me feel beautiful Xena," Gabrielle replied. She raised her hands to bring Xena's head down for a gentle kiss.
"So, I guess we know who is in charge around here?" Xena's voice had a lazy, smug tone to it.
Gabrielle gritted her teeth. "There's always paybacks," Gabrielle threatened.
"Mmmmm," Xena rolled them over bringing Gabrielle to rest on her shoulder. Drowsiness was fast overtaking the warrior princess. She covered their weary bodies and as she was drifting off to sleep, she whispered to Gabrielle, "I love you."
"I love you too." Gabrielle snuggled closer. Soon Xena's deep breathing filled the air. Gabrielle was tired also but she held off on sleep. She raised her head to gaze lovingly at the woman who was her soulmate, her best friend, and her lover. Tears of joy and gratitude welled up in her emerald eyes as she said a prayer of thanks that even after all they had been through, their love was as strong as ever. Whatever trials came their way they would overcome, together. Gabrielle yawned deeply and finally surrendered herself to the god of sleep. Things were as they should be.
Continue on to the sequel Tribulations