Disclaimer: The characters of Xena and Gabrielle belong to Renaissance Pictures/USA Studios and MCA. No infringement is intended. This is a story depicting our heroes in a loving relationship with each other. If such things disturb you please read something else. If not, please read on. Any and all offerings, burnt or otherwise, can be directed to me at ArdentTly@yahoo.com
Xena lay in the faint glow of pre-dawn, watching each breath as it left Gabrielle's slightly parted mouth. Propping herself up with one elbow, she gazed down thinking life couldn't be more perfect. She'd finally let the bard in... all the way...and Gabrielle hadn't run away screaming. In fact, Xena thought, rubbing her neck in retrospect, the bard had displayed a bit of her own unbridled sexuality. She winced with a grin as she felt the bite marks. Oh yes, indeedy.
She ran the tip of her finger down between the sleeping woman's breasts and smirked as the nipples hardened and the blonde groaned suggestively. 'Insatiable, just like me,' she thought with a smirk. Her eyes glazed over once more as her thoughts went back to their first encounter.
The evening had begun, as usual, with a nice hot soak in the tub. Xena loved these times they had together in the baths. It was here that she could just relax and enjoy being around the only person she could really trust. She wasn't too sure just how the little bard was going to feel when she bared her soul but Xena had decided that tonight was going to be the night. No more grinding her teeth whenever the blonde snuggled up during the night. No more holding back emotions that threatened to spill over and engulf her in white flame, making her feel weak and ineffectual in their every day battles with brigands and murderers.
Xena had taken a little longer than usual getting her armour off and so the bard had waded in ahead of her, settling comfortably up to her pretty little neck in the hot water. Which was exactly what the warrior wanted; any excuse to watch the bard in all her splendor without divulging her true feelings.
Xena had been wallowing in the beauty found at the base of the blonde's neck, the hollows accentuated by the dancing firelight cast by half a dozen candles stationed nearby when the subject of her focus broke the spell.
"Do you ever get homesick, Xena?"
The warrior blinked once and then set about finishing the job of pulling her leathers off.
"Nah, not really. Besides, my home is exactly where I am in any given moment." What she really wanted to say was that Gabrielle was her home and that as long as they were together she would never know either homesickness or loneliness.
Xena sighed, shed her undergarments and then climbed into the hot water. A nice long moan was pulled from her as the usual aches and pains associated with her life as a warrior began to respond to the heat.
"How about you?"
After settling beside the bard, she leaned back against the edge of the wooden tub and began inspecting her nails, all the while cringing at the thought of what her friend would answer.
"Well, I guess I miss Lila and my parents." Gabrielle shrugged and then grabbed the soap.
"But I've been pretty happy." She looked up quickly and stared at the warrior for a few seconds before looking away.
"Have you been happy, Xena? I mean, I know it's not much of a life dragging me along with you, but...
Xena's face was rather blank as she feigned disinterest. "It hasn't been that bad after all, you haven't gotten us killed yet. Besides, I've gotten used to you, my irritating little blonde."
Gabrielle's mouth hung open in surprise and then she pushed a wave of water at her friend.
"Oh you. And I'm getting pretty good with the staff. A few more lessons with Ephiny and I'll be all set." She held out her hand and then took the washcloth from the warrior. "Am I really that much trouble?"
Xena smiled and placed her hand on the woman's shoulder. "Nah, I was just joking. Besides, I figure the chances are greater that someone from my past will do me in saving you the trouble."
Gabrielle rolled her eyes. "I don't want you to die; by my hand or anyone's, Xena. I want us to grow old and grey, sitting around the fire and telling stories until someone puts us in an old folks home."
Xena gestured to the blonde and Gabrielle turned around. Taking the cake of soap, Xena lathered the cloth up and began working on the bard's neck.
"So you think we'll still have things to tell each other by that time? After all, we might well have run out of things to say years before old age has a chance to set in."
Gabrielle leaned forward and sighed contentedly as the cloth was scrubbed across her shoulders.
"Oh, that feels so good, Xena." After sighing again, she looked over her shoulder and then captured one of the warrior's hands.
"There is no fear of that, Xena. I'm a bard; what I don't take from our adventures I'll just make up and you'll never be bored." Closing her eyes dutifully, she dunked down and rinsed the bubbles off and then turned to take the cloth from her friend.
Xena grabbed the side of the tub and steadied herself. "Go ahead, Gab; I think you could scrub for a good hour and I'd still feel the grit and grime imbedded in my skin." Groaning in satisfaction, she continued to urge the bard on until she was finally satisfied.
"That was wonderful, Gabrielle, thanks." Grabbing the cloth she turned around and began to soap her own shoulders and arms.
"So, you make up some of the things you tell? I thought all the stuff was from your past in Poteidaia or what you'd learned at the Academy?"
Gabrielle stopped scrubbing her nails for a moment. "Oh, it is, for the most part. But you don't have to worry, Xena; I have lots of things I've never told you. I should be able to keep you busy for years yet." She smiled at the warrior and then prepared her hair for washing.
Xena pursed her lips as she digested that bit of information. 'What kinds of things was she talking about? And why not just tell her everything now?' Not that there would be any surprises; Gabrielle was exactly the naïve and innocent person she knew the woman to be.
"What if you died tomorrow and missed the chance to tell someone how you felt about them?"
Gabrielle rinsed the soap out of her hair and then waited. She knew there was something on the warrior's mind it just took Xena a while before she could actually get things out sometimes.
"Well, you told me once that even the dead can hear your thoughts."
Xena smiled and then stood up, causing the water to sluice over her shoulders and breasts as she reached over for another face cloth.
"That's true but it does nothing for those left behind. Just think Gabrielle, how you'd feel if, say, you really wanted to be with someone and missed an opportunity to tell them, and they were dead in the morning."
The bard nodded, took the cloth from her friend's hands and began lathering it up with soap.
"Well, I suppose I'd feel disappointed and let down, sure. Say, is this one of those riddles of yours where I'm supposed to guess which warlord you fancied but never told? It wasn't Draco, was it? No, couldn't be cos he's still alive."
Xena shook her head and grinned.
"Nah, it's just something that's been playing on my mind lately. Like, say there was this really hot guy that caught your eye and because you never said anything, you missed spending a nice time with him in what turned out to be his last hours."
"This is really getting morbid, Xena. How many ports did you have downstairs?"
Xena smirked and counted off four fingers. She could have held up twice that number and both knew it would never have dulled one bit of her ability to either defend them or make half way decent conversation.
"Okay, so is this warlord alive or dead?"
Xena whirled around and placed both hands on her hips.
"Who said it was a warlord?"
Gabrielle stroked her chin in thought and then played her fingertips over the surface of the water.
"Are you saying it wasn't a living warlord or...
The warrior grabbed the cloth and began scrubbing her chest and shoulders. Gabrielle felt a knot in her throat as a rosy hue began to spread over her friend's breasts and nipples.
"What makes you think it was a warlord or a guy for that matter?"
Xena all but snorted at the blank look adorning her friend's face.
"A a woman?"
"Oh, please! You'd better shut that pretty little mouth of yours before a fly wanders in there."
Gabrielle's mouth snapped shut and she leaned heavily against the wood staves of the tub.
It had never occurred to her that the Warrior Princess was referring to villager they might have met in their travels. If it wasn't a warlord she had the hots for, well, that did narrow things down. Then she gave herself a mental pinch. Xena was lusting over a woman? So, there was something to the rumours she'd been studiously ignoring. Suddenly her scalp was tingling and a strange feeling began spreading through her belly. She wondered if it might be something she'd eaten earlier. Placing a hand on her abdomen, she paused and then rejected the thought; she felt fine, just a little weak kneed for some reason.
The wheels in her mind continued to turn.
While the warrior had probably beaten up more men then she'd ever taken to her bed, Gabrielle knew there were a few that held a special place in her heart. Just not lately. Try as she might, Gabrielle couldn't come up with one village, one instant where Xena had made excuses to stay longer in town, or one moment when she didn't want to share a pallet with her during their travels. Perhaps she was looking at things the wrong way. She was assuming that Xena was ogling the men but perhaps she'd taken a liking to barmaids lately.
"So is this woman alive or dead?"
Xena rinsed the soap off her body and began working some lotion through her long thick hair.
"This isn't really a riddle, Gabrielle. And I didn't really throw it out for discussion as to whom I might be lusting after man or woman. I just wondered what your thoughts were on the subject in general."
Gabrielle arched an eyebrow, attempting to use 'the look' that came so damnedably easily to the warrior but failed miserably.
"Something in your eye, Gabrielle?" The warrior said with another smirk.
"Oh, you just think you're so funny. You say it isn't a game but I know you, Warrior Princess: something's on your mind. If this is a round about way of asking whether there is someone I'm lusting over, then the answer is no."
"Not even Joxer, huh?"
"Ack! Xena! Don't even kid about that! He might hear you and I've already got my hands full trying to dissuade that man as it is. If he believed for one moment that I even thought about him like that...
"Well, he is a man Gabrielle, and you do turn your pretty little head at the drop of a hat. Why not Joxer?"
"Why not why... She stuttered. "Because! Because he's Joxer, that's why not!"
Xena smiled good-naturedly and then moved closer to the bard.
"Not your type, huh? Well, don't worry about it. I was just kidding you. Besides, I don't think he'd stand a chance with a pretty girl like you."
"I am not a pretty girl, Xena. I'm a woman." And with that statement said, she stood up and did a slow turn, giving the warrior ample chance to do a quick inspection of her many womanly attributes.
Cupping her breasts one by one, Gabrielle held them out and ran her thumbs against the tips.
"Does this look like the body of a 'girl' to you, Xena?"
The smile froze on Xena's face as she watched her friend's nipples harden.
There was an equal response on the bard's face as she noticed Xena's reaction. Suddenly, both women began to wonder exactly how they'd gotten into hotter water than either of them ever expected.
The spell between them was broken as the sodden washcloth fell from Gabrielle's hand.
Xena's tongue darted quickly across her upper lip and then her mouth twitched into a half-hearted grin. However, the dry click in her throat betrayed the offhanded attitude she was trying to portray.
"Heh, guess we'd better go get dressed water's getting kinda cold."
Gabrielle found herself nodding in agreement but her mouth had other plans.
"No, actually I find it warm in here very warm."
Xena searched the woman's face, trying to read exactly where the topic of conversation was going and how she should respond.
Gabrielle opened her mouth to say something and then shut it. The tip of her tongue darted out and then white teeth claimed a bit of her lower lip.
Xena could feel the uncertainty wafting off the bard and decided that perhaps she'd better back off a little and pick things up at a latter date.
"Turn around and I'll help rinse you off." A jolt seemed to travel up her arm as she touched the woman's shoulder. Gabrielle nodded and turned around, submerging herself up to her neck in water she was almost oblivious to. In fact, her focus had narrowed to only one thing: Xena was attracted to women. She briefly wondered exactly what type of woman before a couple of names popped into her head: Lao Ma, M'lila, Cleopatra even some of the stories she'd managed to drag out of the woman about an Amazon called Cyanne now seemed suspect.
"Xena?" she began tentatively.
The warrior had been busy working her strong fingers through the long blonde hair of her friend, enjoying the contact and grateful for the brief silence when two hands closed around her wrists.
"Xena, have you been with many women?"
The warrior thought briefly of just either ignoring the question or bluffing her way through and steering them into a safer topic of conversation. Those thoughts were brief indeed as the blonde rose up out of the water and turned to face her. Xena found herself caught by more than a pair of hands as green eyes bore into her.
Gabrielle's heart seemed to pound loudly in her ears as she waited for the inevitable: she had no delusions that the warrior would actually answer her pointed question; Xena didn't often share intimate information and this certainly fell into that category.
It came as a complete surprise therefore when the woman took her wrists in a similar grasp.
"Yes, I have."
"Oh," squeaked the bard.
"Does that surprise you? It shouldn't. I'm in my mid thirties Gabrielle, and I've done a lot of living in that time, sampling everything life has to offer even things most people would deny under torture." She smirked, thinking of some of the more risqué forms of entertainment Rome had to offer.
"No, um yes, um I don't know, but I guess it shouldn't, huh?"
Xena just smiled. An eyebrow rose slowly as the bard averted her eyes and tried to pull her hands away.
"What?" Xena tugged on the woman's hand and then released her grip. Gabrielle said nothing.
"C'mon, Gabrielle; you can ask me anything." She cringed inwardly, mentally kicking herself once more for even bringing up this whole line of thought. If she'd only kept her mouth shut, taking pleasure in her furtive glances as the woman bathed, totally oblivious to the reaction her naked body was having the close proximity a blissful torture she was willing to endure forever.
Her nostrils flared and she found her eyes slowly dancing across the wet surface of the bard's chest. Her mouth felt dry and yet somehow filled to brimming at the same time.
Gabrielle chose that moment to look up. Her level of uneasiness was ratcheted back a few turns as she noticed two things: Xena had been staring at her breasts and now looked like a child caught with her hand in the cookie jar. Both things had something in common hunger.
Feeling somewhat bold, she cleared her throat and decided to just take the bull by the horns.
"Well, I was wondering you having been with women well... She nervously fingered the corner of her mouth and then went on in a rush, "Well, if you've been with women and like them then how come I mean, exactly what type is your type and how come I've never seen you with any women or have you just not found your type yet and I'm rambling, aren't I?"
Xena blinked. 'Well, now you've done it: you've confused her to the point where she's either going to start foaming at the mouth or shrink back in revulsion.'
"Now, Gabrielle perhaps we should go and lie down er get dressed and sit down. Over there by the um downstairs at a table."
Now it was Gabrielle's turn to blink. Was she just going to treat her like some sort of child and ignore her pointed questions? Was there more than one? She tried to think of exactly what she'd said but came up empty.
"Hey, I don't want to get dressed or go back downstairs. I want an answer. And stop treating me like a child!" She placed her fists on either hip and stood glaring looking very inch the child she was trying not to be.
Xena clenched her jaws tightly, deciding correctly that pointing this fact out at that moment would be extremely ill timed and ill advised.
Instead she coughed and began talking about cold water and how they could both catch their deaths, all the while trying to herd the bard closer to the edge and out of the tub. Perhaps if she stepped out first the bard would take the hint and get out, too? Having the woman naked, her breasts proudly pointing in her direction, was somehow extremely distracting and certainly not conducive to her staying on task. She scratched her head mentally. And just what was that task? She drew a blank.
Gabrielle took the woman's silence as an affirmation that she would continue to be treated like a child, and that Xena was never going to see her as anything more.
And so she kissed her. Hard. And on the mouth.
Xena's eyes were wide as her lips were pressed hard against those of the blonde's. Gabrielle, however, had her eyes closed tightly, and her body trembled in response.
'Oh, now I remember,' thought both women at the same time. However, the bard was a little quicker on the uptake, stopping the warrior cold with exactly the type of question she was woefully unprepared to answer at that moment.
"How come you've never I mean am I Xena!"
Xena blinked and then pulled her head back in surprise. She'd been wool gathering, trying to think of anything to dissuade the young woman from her appointed task: reducing her to a silent shell of a woman, battle shocked and totally vulnerable to onslaught conquered completely!
Her mouth opened and closed but not a word was uttered. She wanted to defend herself; she wanted to just tell the woman to back off, to leave her alone. How dare she be put on the spot like that, and made to feel
With a shock the warrior realized that she had wanted this along and that the truth would finally be dragged into the light, making it impossible for either one of them to ignore. And despite her total discomfort, Xena knew that it would all begin or end right then and there.
"You're my type."
Two blonde eyebrows rose up into an equally blonde hairline. "What? I mean, I am?" 'I'm her type! Yippee!'
"But then why haven't you taken me to bed or tried something I mean," she snorted thinking of all the baths they'd shared, all the pallets they'd curled up on together, and all the cold nights she'd lain on the lumpy hard cold ground when she could have been lying on top of
"Well, that's a fine how do you do! You make me feel like some kid, ignoring all my attempts at flirting...
Xena's eyebrows shot up.
"Flirting?" she shouted.
"Yeah, flirting. Don't tell me you haven't noticed? I've all but thrown myself at you for years!" She turned around and pounded the edge of the tub. "Well, I never. After all this time, here I've been thinking all she wanted was an endless string of bad boys when the realities were that she wanted me. But at the same time she ignored my wants and needs that were plain as the nose on her face! For years! Oh, that is so not fair! We could have been...
She whirled on the brunette, fists clenched once more.
"I am so...
Placing both hands up in supplication, the warrior backed up and began to sputter.
"Whoa, whoa I have many skills but none of them include mind reading, Gabrielle. And just how was I suppose to know all those goo goo eyes were lust and not the idol worshipping I took them to be? I mean, really! And what about all those guys you've mooned over?"
"Oh, that is so unfair and you know it! If you'd given me one indication that you would be even slightly receptive !"
Xena pushed her way through the water and stood nose to nose with the smaller woman.
"And just what kind of indication were you expecting I'd give? Was I suppose to tell you that you're the best thing in my life and that I've loved you forever, or that I've been lusting after you for years, that you fill my dreams each and every night, or that it takes every inch of will not to just grab you and Oh Hades!"
She grabbed the woman by the shoulders and kissed her. Hard. Right on the mouth.
And even though she could feel the bard's knees buckle, she couldn't nor would she even entertain the thought of stopping. And the kiss deepened.
Finally both women pulled apart, totally breathless, but smiling.
Gabrielle pressed her cheek against the warrior's chest and sighed contentedly.
The warrior's response was a little bit different: after holding all the emotions under strict control, never having been able to express one moment of the love she felt, it was like a dam had been opened. Gabrielle felt the woman shudder against her and then Xena just seemed to relax.
The bard looked up into the woman's face and realized she'd never seen the woman look so calm.
"Hey, Xena? Are you okay?"
The warrior stood there blinking, wondering exactly the same thing. Just exactly how was she feeling?
"Great. I'm feeling wonderful, Gabrielle."
The bard smiled. She was feeling pretty darn good herself. She hugged the woman closer and took a deep breath.
Noticing exactly where her nose was, Gabrielle turned in a bit and began to drink in the warrior's heady scent. A nice comforting feeling settled around her as her nose discerned each and every subtle nuance that was Xena: the musty scent of horseflesh coupled with well-oiled leather, some warrior sweat, a bit of the spicy lamb they'd enjoyed downstairs, and the full bodied fragrance of cheap port.
Her mind buzzed happily as each bit of information came in.
Xena scrunched her chin down and tried to see what the bard was doing. She seemed to be snuffling.
"Hey, that tickles."
A pair of green eyes caught hers and then both sets closed as their lips met again.
When they'd finally been able to get out of the now cooling bath water Xena had picked the woman up, wrapping the bard's legs around her, and padded quickly to a sleep pallet. She'd almost dropped the woman when tiny jolts of pain assaulted her senses. It was a moment before the warrior realized Gabrielle had sunk her teeth into her neck and was noisily sucking. She had a mad flashback to their close encounter with Bacchus and had shivered in delight. There was something about seeing the bard's mouth ringed with a flash of red, not to mention how positively intoxicating it was to taste that well known coppery flavour on the woman's lips that stirred the embers within the warrior to such an extent that even the air surrounding them seemed to catch fire.
It had been a night filled with both fire and ice as each woman teased and tempted the other, bringing and being brought to levels of such intense desire; a contest of wills, really. It seemed that there were certain things both women had neglected to share, secrets that kept them busy all night.
Xena blinked deeply and then sighed as her thoughts moved back to the present. Looking at the sweet countenance of her lover, the tender bard of Poteidaia, one would never guess such passion lay behind her green beguiling eyes. She felt her swollen flesh contract, an ache spreading once more as she thought of the intensity of their lovemaking. Her respect for the bard's creativity had gone up tenfold as she pondered just where Gabrielle had learned such interesting ways to entertain. Life was going to be so interesting as they both found out just how well developed each woman's imagination was.
Xena watched as the bard slept on, content in knowing that at least one of them would get some sleep in whatever remained of the night. Usually, she'd get up and keep herself busy in times when insomnia hit her but at that moment there was no other place she'd rather be. And then she began to think of ways they could extend their little vacation, unwilling to end things just when they'd only begun. Perhaps she could put on a display of short arms drills in the town square, thus earning them a little more money. After all, a few more days of rest and relaxation would certainly do them both a world of good.
"Relaxation, huh?" She couldn't ever remember it being called that but it was as good a description as any. And with a contended sigh, Xena lay back tucking her hands under her head as she wondered exactly how long it would be until full dawn; after all, she had people to see and dinars to earn.
And then Gabrielle rolled over and curled up with her head nestled against her shoulder and Xena had no further thoughts of sleeplessness or what the morning would bring. In fact it was many hours after dawn when both women awoke feeling refreshed and very relaxed.
Begun April 7, 1999
Revised March 22, 2001