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This story contains explicit descriptions of female/female sex, mild violence, and implied, but not genuine nonconsensual sex.
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It used to be easy. She lay down, she slept.
Sleep had evaded Gabrielle since Xena's death, with a ferocity that was starting to threaten her health.
Egypt's ground was no harder than the olive groves of Greece. The night air here, west of Cairo, was much warmer. The blankets Gabrielle lay on were the same ones that had cushioned her for years, on the trail.
They still carried a faint scent of Xena.
The blond warrior scrunched more tightly on her side, drawing her knees beneath her chin. It was a matter of discipline, she decided, and Artemis knew Gabrielle had mastered that. She was still alive, and the decision to remain so, to go on alone, had taken all her strength. She would order sleep to take her, demand rest through a sheer act of will.
"Get up, Gabrielle."
She bolted upright, scrubbing her tousled bangs out of her eyes. If she'd been in deepest coma, Xena's voice would have roused her as quickly.
"Where have you been?" Gabrielle gasped, and then bit her lip to keep from bursting into tears. Of all the things she'd wanted to say to Xena, when she finally came to her again …
"I said on your feet!" The dark figure standing next to her bent and snarled the blankets in one fist. She tore them away, revealing Gabrielle's nakedness. Xena grasped her wrist and pulled her to her feet. "When did you start sleeping naked as a sated whore, girl?"
"Xena, please, tell me how long you can stay this -- "
"Talmadeus would have had his dagger in your throat before you could sit up." In one movement, the tall warrior circled Gabrielle's wrists with rope. She threw it's length over a low-hanging tree branch and pulled it taut, jerking Gabrielle's arms up over her head. "Altrech and Colfax could have had you spread-eagled and staked down before you were fully awake."
Gabrielle staggered, trying to balance as the rope tightened, pulling her up on the tips of her toes. "I-I was alert, honestly," she stammered. "Xena, please, we need to talk - "
"You need to stay alive." Xena slid behind her naked partner, and cupped her chin in a cruel grip, her other arm snaking around her waist. "You won't live, Gabrielle, if you don't learn to sleep like a warrior. You don't have me to protect you anymore. If you don't learn to take care of yourself, you'll be picked off by the first warlord after a hot reputation."
Gabrielle tried to speak, but the electric blue eyes above her flashed. "Listen to me, little slut! You earn a warrior's life! You never stop earning it! The moment you let down your guard, Gabrielle, that second, you'll lose everything you love."
"I've already lost everything I love."
Xena's hand slid up the blond woman's bare side and cupped one full breast, and Gabrielle almost cried out. Long fingers caressed the tips of the creamy globes, lifted high because of the constriction of her arms. Pink nipples flickered to life beneath the warrior's rough touch, then tightened and swelled.
A liquid warmth began trickling through Gabrielle's veins, swirling down to feed the growing heat between her legs. She kept her muscular thighs pressed tightly together, and struggled to pull in deep, even breaths.
"Self pity," Xena hissed behind her, "will kill you faster than steel."
She released the bound woman's chin, and slid her fingers down to cup the plump mound between her legs. "Open to me, girl."
"No." Gabrielle drew in a deep, hitching gasp, and a tear fell from her closed eyes. "No, Xena, you're not even here. You left me, and you can't - "
"You never deny me, lass."
The words went straight to her spine. Xena's knee lodged beneath her buttocks, and half-lifted Gabrielle's legs into the air. They splayed helplessly, opening the damp slit of her cunt to the warrior's questing fingers. Their rough tips were dearly familiar, delving between her nether lips with demanding need, dabbling in her wetness.
"You live now for both of us, Gabrielle." The low alto sounded in her ear, as the stroking in her sex spiraled toward her heated clit. "And I am just as determined to keep you alive tonight, as the day we met."
Xena released her abruptly and stepped back, and Gabrielle staggered again. The rope had stretched enough to allow her bare heels to touch the ground, but just barely. The tall warrior circled to her left, her hooded eyes taking in her naked form greedily.
"You left your campfire burning high enough to draw every trail bandit from here to Cairo." The warrior's tone was rich with disgust. "But you are a fetching sight, girl, twisting in that red light."
Xena kept moving, as Gabrielle undulated in her bonds, trying to keep her legs closed, and to keep the dark woman in sight. She was trembling, and her full breasts quaked with her uneven breath.
"I taught you to use the very pores of your skin to listen, Gabrielle, so you chose well to sleep naked, in this climate. You will do so nightly, while we are in Egypt. I want your body ready for my touch."
"Xena." There was pleading and need in Gabrielle's voice. "Please, don't - "
"You know what to say to stop me," the dark warrior purred, eyeing the juncture between her captive's thighs. "But you're not going to say it, farm girl. You miss me too much. You want me too much. Spread your legs, Gabrielle."
"Ah, sweet gods," Gabrielle sobbed. She wrenched her ankles apart and threw her hips forward, exposing her sex again. "Touch me, Xena!"
"You think you can get what you want by demanding it?" Keen blue eyes drank in the blond warrior's turgid nipples and open cleft. "Then bring yourself off, Gabrielle. Order your cunt to spasm, around my reaming tongue . . ."
Gabrielle moaned, and the tall woman lowered her hands again over her huddling breasts.
"I n-need you."
"For this?" The dark warrior bent, and fastened her full lips around the tip of one breast. She sucked, gently, then began a sweet, intermittent gnawing on the turgid bud. Then she lifted her head. "For this?"
Her palm clapped roughly between Gabrielle's wide-spread legs. She gripped her lightly furred mound in her hand, and shook it. The blond woman's hips bucked, hard, and she groaned again. Two long fingers slid through her wet folds, and delved deeply up into her.
"Xena . . ." Gabrielle chanted the name, her back arching into the warrior's thrusts. She felt a frightening energy gather between her legs, stoked by Xena's powerful arm. Her rough palm scrubbed over her straining clitoris, twice, three times - and Gabrielle imploded, climaxing with a breathless cry.
Between them, Xena and Gabrielle had physically died four or five times. But if all the times Gabrielle succumbed to Sappho's erotic "little death" at Xena's hands were factored in, the younger woman had perished at least three times weekly, for five years. She did it again now, slumping into a faint.
When she revived, she was laying on the blankets again, leaning back against Xena's warm, solid form. Gabrielle's limbs were filled with a pleasant lethargy, and sleep threatened to overwhelm her before she was fully conscious.
"Stay," she mumbled, nestling her head beneath the taller woman's chin.
"You know I can't." Xena's hands were soothing, now, and in this mode they were as irresistible as when they brought pleasure. "You need to sleep, babe."
"I miss you too, my love." The dark woman's breath was soft on Gabrielle's cheek.
"Can't sleep . . ." Gabrielle yawned enormously against Xena's shoulder. "Without you. You used to help me sleep . . . so rich and deep . . ."
"I still do, Gabrielle." The low murmur of Xena's voice was fading. "I always will."
Gabrielle awoke, fully refreshed.