by Anita Louise

Characters from the television series, Xena Warrior Princess are the property of MCA/Universal.

Sea, and the other characters, penned are the sole property of the author.

Chapter Twenty Three

As the two horses cleared the rise, Xena and Sea stared down at the Amazon Village. Their eyes taking in the movement in the square. Reining their horses in, Xena removed the water skin and took a drink. Sea eyed the woman with a glow in her eyes. Looking over toward the her, Xena asked, "Something wrong?"

 Shaking her head the woman smiled and said, "No, just unusual to see you so nervous."

 Tossing the water skin toward her, Xena remarked, "Yeah, well this is not easy. Besides, we both look like we have been in a cat fight."

 Catching the water skin, Sea grinned, "From the aches and pains I am experiencing today as well as the bruises, I would say we came out of it pretty fair."

 Xena watched the striking red head drink the liquid as she said, "When I look at you, Ann Bounty, I have to admit I can see the attraction Gabrielle has for you."

 Setting the water skin down on the saddle in front of her, Sea looked toward the village then back at Xena and said, "Well, when you relax and are not trying to take a person's head off, you are quite a sight yourself." Noticing the worried expression on Xena's face she added, "Don't worry, sometimes it doesn't hurt to be humble. Just remember, the love the two of you have for
one another. I would have wished it to have been me." Noticing the look on Xena's face she continued, "Had she not known you. Still, I will always consider her very special and want you to know that if she should ever need me, I will be there for her and for you."

 Pursing her lips, Xena said, "I don't know, that just didn't make me feel a whole lot better."

 Sea tossed the water skin back at the woman and said, "Let's go, I know you and Gabrielle have things to discuss and I need to get out to The Bounty. I still have a long journey ahead of me."

 Xena reached out and grabbed Ann's left hand and said, "Not without us, we will go with you." The woman's bottomless blue's searched Ann's eyes as she said, "Thank you, for taking the time to try and pound some sense into this old Warrior."

 A grin traveled Sea's face as she said, "Can't get out of it that easy, Xena. Old, you are not and anytime you want to change scenery, leave the land for a bit, you are always welcome to travel the sea with me. You'd be surprised at some of the marvelous things you can behold."

 Xena watched the woman's gray horse plodding down the trail in front of her as she urged Argo on and called out, "Really, now you have my curiosity peaked, might take you up on that offer."

 Sea's words rang back, "The ocean will never know what has hit it, you, Gabrielle, Gina and me."

 Xena was gaining on Sea as she called, "Gina? Who is this Gina?"

Sea had stopped the horse as Argo trotted alongside her. She pointed toward the village and said, "There, she waits for you."

 Xena looked in the direction and could see Gabrielle standing at the entrance to the village. The woman's eyes searching for them. She had spotted the two women and was jumping up and down, waving..

 Xena urged Argo past Sea as she said, "Seems she is happy to see the two of us, come on."

 Gabrielle ran to meet them, her eyes taking in both women. Her look had gone from elation to one of admonishment as she said, "Look at the two of you, Gods, this is the dumbest thing I have seen either of you do!"

 Both women somersaulted from their horses and landed in front of Gabrielle. They stared at one another then back at the woman as they said, "We're happy to see you too!" breaking into laughter.

 Gabrielle smiled as she said, "Thank the Gods you didn't do worse than this. Sea . . ."

 Sea stepped forward and said, "I did as I promised."

 Gabrielle's eyes darted to Xena as she sputtered, "I never asked you to promise to beat one another up."

 Xena had stepped up to Sea as she stared at Gabrielle she said, "Not her fault, she told me she had promised not to fight, I didn't and I started it. I'm sorry." Her eyes searched the woman's as she continued, "Sorry to ever have doubted you and I pray the Gods you will find it in your heart to forgive my outburst of jealousy."

 Her blue green eyes searched the woman then darted to Sea as she said, "I'm just glad you both are all right and have come back." Stepping between them, she threw her left arm arm around Xena's neck and her right arm around Sea's, giving them a warm hug she exclaimed, "I'm so happy you are back. I've missed you!" Xena and Sea lowered their heads and met Gabrielle's in a reciprocal hug. After they had bonded, Sea stepped back and said, "I'll be at the ship, plan on leaving at first light tomorrow. If I don't see you before I go, my best to you."

 The two women gazed up at Sea as they said, "We'll be there." They watched her stride away, head held high and a walk that hid the aching of her body each time she stepped.

 Xena wrapped her right arm around Gabrielle's waist and said, "Let's go to the hut, I have a lot of groveling to do. I told you once, if I ever strayed, you could do with me what you will."

 Gabrielle had a glimmer in her eyes and a smile, that would light up the sky on a dark night. It was all Xena needed to see as they walked toward the hut, leading the two horses.

Tying the reins to a hitching post in front of the hut, they entered. Both women seemed uncomfortable and it was Gabrielle that broke the silence when she said, "I'm glad you are back."

 Xena gazed around the room and said, "You will never know how badly I feel at what I did."

 Walking toward the wooden table, she poured water into a basin and said, "Come over here, let me clean those cuts on your face."

 Shaking her head, Xena replied, "I washed them off before we left, nothing to do now except let them heal."

 Holding out her left hand, Gabrielle said, " Then come over here and sit with me."

 Hesitating for a moment she reached out and grasped the woman's hand and said, "How can you be so forgiving, I know I have hurt you in more ways than the cut lip."

 Managing a slight smile, Gabrielle said, "I won't deny, it hurt. There is nothing like the realization the person you love most in the world, has left you beaten and alone. I was beside myself with angst. Xena, I only want to know why? Why did you do this? Surely all we have been through should have given you an inkling, I would never leave you." Placing her right hand on Xena's
cheek, Gabrielle said, "I'm sorry I forgot about the union. I need to tell you about this."

 Shaking her head as she placed a hand on Gabrielle's the woman said, "No need, Melosa told me and what she didn't Ann Bounty did. I know the woman has strong feelings for you and you her. I also know this will not go away and if I want to keep our relationship, I had better face a few things." She took a deep breath then continued, "I understand, Ann Bounty is fascinating and must admit she truly loves you. I have been such a fool. It is me you have always stayed with, it has been me you have given your undying love, yet, I let something or someone detour me from this." Dropping to her knees, she laid her head on Gabrielle's lap as she murmured, "Forgive me?"

 Gently running her fingers through Xena's lustrous dark hair, she said, "You are here, you and Ann are both alive and I thank the Gods for that. I love you Xena and in time this will go away. I know you wouldn't have hurt me in your..."

 Raising her head and staring up at the woman, Xena interjected, "Right mind?"

 Nodding, she said, "Something like that, I have told you many times I thought someone else had control of your actions, I firmly believe it now. Enough about me, how are you? I know this has not been easy for you either."

 Laying her head back onto the woman's lap, Xena answered, "As long as I have you in my life, I will be all right. You are, aren't you?"

 Leaning over Gabrielle placed a gentle kiss on the woman's head as she whispered, "Always."

Words seeming to choke in the woman's throat, she managed to say, "Then, do with me as you will, I told you once and I am ready for my punishment."

Reaching down and placing a hand on Xena's shoulders, Gabrielle answered, "Then come up here with me, I only want to feel your body next to mine." Xena looked up at her, tears in her eyes as Gabrielle continued, "I know about Ephiny, so no excuses woman, I only want to know our love once more."

 Xena got to her feet as she reached down and picked the woman up, cradling her in her arms she said, "Your wish is my command." Lowering her head, she kissed the woman, then gently laid her on the bed and said, "I've missed you too, I never thought I would feel you this close again."

 Smiling up at the woman, Gabrielle said, "Then get those clothes off and join me."

 Sitting on the bed, Xena whispered, "First, I remove yours. I know I don't deserve this but thank the Gods for another chance."

 Gabrielle had started to remove the woman's breast plate and when the last strap was loosened she said, "Enough talk, I want to see some skin."

 Xena had removed Gabrielle's halter top, her fingers caressing the woman. Gabrielle knew Xena's fingers were shaking as she placed a hand on her right hand and said, "It's all right, I won't break or disappear, if you don't know it by now, you are stuck with me forever."

 Her bottomless blue eyes touching Gabrielle's with strokes of love as she said, "Forever is not long enough."


By the time Ann made it to the inlet, she had hoped to walk a lot of the soreness off. Sitting down, her body ached in spots she never knew existed. Her eyes searched for the torch and upon finding it, she quickly lit it. Waving it back and forth, she hoped someone aboard ship spied the light. In the daytime, it would not be that easy to see

 There was a slight breeze and it felt good against her dampened face. The walk had brought about perspiration she was not used to, especially on a walk such as this. Heaving a sigh, she decided it was probably from all the torment her mind and body had been put through. Losing the woman to Xena was one thing, but, losing her from this life itself was too much to bear. She knew she would always love her, Gabrielle had captured part of her heart and would always.

 Placing her elbows on her legs, she leaned forward and grasped her own hands. Staring down at them, she noticed the redness and swelling and though she was in pain, her thoughts were on the ship and a woman with the most fascinating dimples and a smile that seemed to quiet her restless heart. She hoped Gina was all right and the crew had been treating her with respect.

 She stood and walked toward the waters edge. Taking off her boots, she stepped into the water. It felt cool and she enjoyed the feeling as she took several steps. Her eyes glanced toward the ship and she could see a faint outline of a longboat as she smiled, wouldn't be long and she would be back aboard. Would Gina be glad to see her, would the crew? Smiling, she decided to try and catch a few crawfish.

 The longboat was within sight when she heard Saxton's voice calling out, "Anne, what are you doing?"

 She had been leaning over, her hands finding a path in the water as they followed an elusive one. She raised her head, smiled and said, "Biding the time till you got here."

 She had waded from the water and was sitting on the sand, putting her boots back on when the man walked up to her. He smiled down at the woman and said, "You know, there are times you still look like that young woman your mother always talks about."

Her effervescent beauty apparent as her eyes twinkled up at the man, she smiled, "Forget myself sometimes." Pointing to a collection of crawfish on the beach she said, "Take them, there is enough for a good meal."

He smiled and waved for a mate to gather them up as he said, "Hope everything is all right, Gabrielle?"

 She was standing as she said, "She is all right."

 He noticed the look in the woman's eyes as he said, "And you, how are you?"

 She followed the men to the boat and said, "I'll be fine, how is Gina?"

 He held out his hand and said, "Take my hand, Gina is fine, I have to tell you Anne, this one is a handful. She wants to know everything there is to being a mate." His eyes twinkled at the woman as she stepped aboard, he continued, "She has also been asking a lot of questions regarding Gabrielle."

 She sat as he pushed the boat into the water she said, "Good, the more she knows about the ship the better and I can handle her questions about Gabrielle."

 Once they were rowing toward the ship, Saxton's look turned serious as he said, "I can see your face and hands, you have been in a fight. I only hope the other person looks as bad, you and the woman, Xena?"

 Nodding, she answered, "We had a problem, it is over and we are still friends if that is what you are wondering. They will be joining us at first light."

 He pursed his lips as he said, "Is that smart? The three, or should I say four of you, on the same ship, close quarters and all?"

 Sea's eyes were fixed on the looming ship as she said, "No problem, they are together and I will be fine."

 The man shook his head as he muttered, "You will never be fine as long as your heart aches for the woman. Before you say anything I will shut up, just promise me you will be careful?"

 Nodding, she replied, "I always am. I don't see Gina, did she know I would be coming back?"

 He nodded and said, "Yes, when she heard I was taking the longboat it was all I could do to keep her onboard. She is around somewhere."

 Once aboard Sea looked around for Gina but the woman was nowhere to be seen. She was walking across the deck when the woman's words drifted down to her. "Sweet Zeus, what army did you run into?!"

 Looking up, she spotted the woman standing in the Crows Nest. She was wearing a pair of cut off pants, loose shirt with leather ties crisscrossing the front and the woman was barefoot. Her blond hair gleaming, and light brown eyes sending a warm glow with a smile that warmed the woman's heart. She waved at her and called, "What are you doing up there? Don't you know it is a long way to fall?"

 Gina grinned, "Had to see if I could do it. Stay right there be right down."

 Sea exclaimed, "No, don't, I'll come get you." Before the last word was out of her mouth, Gina had grabbed a rope and swung down to the mast, her feet propelling her outward as she glided down and was soon standing in front of Sea.

 Sea's mouth was agape as her eyes took in the woman. They stared at one another for a brief second before Gina reached out and hugged her saying, "I missed you."

 Sea held her close and whispered into the woman's left ear, "I never realized." Stepping back her eyes taking in the woman once more, her voice cracking as she said, "How can you still care about me? I can see it in your eyes, you know?"

 Reaching up, her right hand caressed Sea's battered face as she answered, "I know, it was something you needed to do. I have not been under a rock, I know how much you love her. I'm only sorry she doesn't feel the same way."

 Taking the woman's hand in hers, she said, "You are breathtaking, did you know that. You have taken this woman's breath away."

 Smiling, Gina Said, "You took mine the first time I saw you on that lonely beach. In case you don't know it, you, Ann Bounty, have reached into my soul and I find in quiet times, the essence of you invading my thoughts." She turned and walked away as she said, "I'm sorry, must be too much sun, I seem to be rattling."

Sea followed and said, "I don't know what I did to deserve your caring that day but each day since, I have been thankful not only you saved my life but that you entered it."

Turning, her eyes gazing at the woman, Gina said, "Let me put some ointment on your cuts. Tell me, does the lip hurt?"

 Nodding, Sea whispered, "It does." She lowered her head as her lips touched the woman's in a soft caress. Pulling back she added, "Lead on, I will follow you."

 Grinning, Gina called back, "That is a dangerous statement, Ann Bounty, I might lead you into a compromising position." Looking back at the woman she added, "Who knows one day, I just might."

 Sea smiled as she followed the woman.

 Saxton had been watching the two as he whispered to himself, "Seems it is time, I think Anne you have found a match." He turned and walked toward a group of men.

Chapter Twenty Four

The woman's breathing was restless. It was the moaning she was doing in her sleep that kept Gabrielle anxiously watching. She noticed the bruises on Xena's body and had carefully avoided the spots when caressing the woman. Xena had apologized to her again before drifting off to sleep, she still felt remorseful regarding the fight between herself and Ann. Gabrielle knew that
Ann probably held marks of her own. The two women must have fought with such fervor, yet, holding back. She had no doubt either could've killed the other even with a blow.

 Smiling as she snuggled closer to Xena, she felt fortunate the two women had returned alive. At first light, they would be met with men from The Bounty and then all of them would be taking a long voyage together. It troubled her, The Bounty held so many fond memories and not all dealing with the love she and Ann Bounty shared. She had captained the ship, traveled her own course, met Mary Ready and became friends. She thought of their meeting at Calico Jacks. She definitely had been busy but at this moment she felt tranquil to be close to Xena. Thanks to Sea the woman had returned to her. Xena seemed to still have a few problems where the ultimate act was concerned but the woman had come a long way. She had been so caring, so loving and it was all Gabrielle could do not to cry. If she had it would have been tears of happiness. She always knew it would be so wonderful again and now the two of them were so close. Questions abounded in her mind as she gazed at Xena. Smiling, she laid her head close to the woman and closed her eyes, as thoughts of the coming voyage played in her mind.


Sea had no problems letting Gina care for her wounds. The woman's touch was gentle and overflowed with caring. Her fingers gently placed ointment on the cuts, each time trying not to hurt the woman. Sea reached out and grasped Gina's hand. Gina stared up at her with a questioning look as she asked, "Did I hurt you?"

 Shaking her head, her eyes filled with a look of delight, she replied, "No, but you keep touching me like that and I will forget why I am sitting here."

 Smiling, the woman went back to diligently placing ointment and said, "Don't go getting any ideas, pirate, have to get you well before you even think of going there."

Sea tried to hold back a smile as she said, "It doesn't hurt the mind to venture to uncharted courses."

Sitting up as she gazed at Sea, Gina's dimples seemed to be playing just for the woman as she said, "In the condition you are in, you will need a mate to guide the way and I think the course you are thinking about is best left to a calmer storm. Now, let's get the shirt off, I'm sure you have a few marks on the rest of your body."

 Sea replied, "Not enough ointment."

 Reaching down, Gina grasped Sea's shirt and pulled it from the waist of her pants, slowly raising it she said, "Lift your arms."

 Sea obliged and seemed to delight in the demanding nature of the woman. Setting the shirt on the floor, Gina's eyes widened as she said, "Is there no place you two made contact!"

Laying back on the bed, an alluring smile crossing her face, Sea replied, "A few. You have seen my body in worse condition than this, at least I am not fighting you about caring for me anymore."

Gina had been staring at the deep bruise that ran across the woman's abdomen. Finally reaching out to touch it she said, "Looks like Gabrielle and I will have some discussing to do. After all we can't have you two doing this again."

 Closing her eyes for an instant, Sea whispered, "Won't, there will never be a reason."

 Gina had touched the spot and the woman grimaced, causing Gina to pull back and say, "What must Xena look like, if you look like this?"

Grasping Gina's hand and placing it back on the area, Sea looked at her and said, "Probably a matched set. Don't be frightened, I won't hurt you, go ahead."

Gina whispered as she carefully caressed and placed ointment on the serious cuts, "You say, 'there will never be a reason.' As long as you and Gabrielle breath, the reason will be there."

 Sea heaved a heavy sigh as she said, "Maybe, but I will do all I can to prevent it from happening." Gazing at Gina she added, "You will see I stick to the straight and narrow."

 Gina nodded as she said, "I will be here for you but, I will not be a replacement for her, if that is what you are thinking."

 Shaking her head, Sea's emerald green eyes shone at her as she said, "Never, you are one of a kind. A very special, and beautiful woman who still holds many childlike qualities, such as the wonder in your eyes when you gaze at me."

 Sitting back, her eyes taking in the woman, she stared for a time then leaned forward and said, "Do you have any bruises or cuts lower?" She had placed her fingers on the button at the top of Sea's breeches.

 Sea's body ran rampant, sensations of joy and wonder at the woman's touch sent her into quiet spasms. She reached out and placed a hand over Gina's fingers and said, "Gods woman, to feel your touch of gentleness has been wonderful but I cannot."

Gina cocked her head to the right, her smile beaming at the woman as she said, "Don't tell me, you are embarrassed once more."

 Her hands still on Gina's she said, "I am only human, and your touch sends my body to places it is best it does not go."

 Surprising Sea, Gina lay on her side, placing her head on the woman's shoulder and said, "Sorry, I forget, you are not my sister."

 Holding the woman close, Sea whispered, "Definitely not your sister, for the feelings I have for you are not those of a sibling."

Gina didn't say anything and she turned her head to stare at the woman, she was asleep. Sea had been thinking about so many things she had forgot what a toll this probably was on the woman. For that moment, she was at peace, her body felt good and still sent warm feelings throughout where the woman had touched her. Closing her eyes, she sought comfort in sleep.


The wind was slightly moving the palms. The sounds of the ocean ebbing toward the beach then dissipating along with the sounds of seagulls was all the women could hear. The sun had been out for a short time yet the sand was warm and comforting on their feet as they buried their toes in the warmth. It was a long stretch of beach, no one else except the woman and her and this was fine for Sea. It had taken a long time but she was finally feeling a great peacefulness within and knew it was due to this marvelous woman. She watched Gina run and jump the waves as the woman screamed in delight. "Hurry up, this is great fun!"

 Laughing, she ran to join the woman. The two wore cut off pants, low necked white blouses and were dressed like twins. Gina had splashed in so much water, her clothes were wet and it seemed the woman wanted nothing more than to get Sea as wet as she was.

At this time, Sea didn't care, just being with the woman was all she wanted, so if it meant getting sprayed by the ocean it was fine by her. Holding her hand, they ran along the beach, Gina stopping from time to time to pull Sea into the water. Finally Sea threw up her hands and said, "You want to get wet, come here!" Giggling the woman tried to stand but Sea's grasp was too
strong and before she knew it, the woman had pulled her down into the oncoming waves. Their laughter was bursting with joy and merriment as they rolled in the water. The tide had gone back out as Sea gazed down at Gina. She was soaking wet, the white blouse she wore was clinging to her. The woman's full breasts showing through the material. Gina stared up at Sea and grinned, "You should see yourself, leaves nothing to the imagination and I love it."

 Smiling, Sea bent over and shook her wet hair at the woman as she said, "Really, then we are a pair." Gina screamed with delight as she said, "You're getting me wet!" Slowly moving her body down onto the woman's, Sea whispered, "You are already wet." Their look was of deep affection as Sea's lips sought the woman's. Gina seemed startled at first then met the woman's kiss with a furor of her own. The two were oblivious to the waves that tried to separate them. Gina had managed to unseat the woman and was now sitting on top of her as she gleamed down at Sea and said, "When I gaze into your eyes, I see a kaleidoscope of color and I see us."

 Sea struggled against the woman's hold on her arms as she said, "Oh, have you been drinking too much port?"

 Gina was leaning so far over, her breasts were caressing Sea's as she replied, "No, you'd be surprised at what we are doing. Why are you struggling, you know you want it."

 Stopping in mid struggle, Sea looked at her in surprise and stuttered, "Wa--I--there you go again." She had lowered her gaze to the woman's nipples as they taunted her own."

 Lowering her head, Gina let her long golden locks trail the woman's face. She moved her head back and forth allowing the wet hair to play across Sea's chest.

Closing her eyes, Sea hoped it wasn't a dream, she had been alone for so long this was too good to be true. She heard Gina, her voice melodic and full of pleasure, "Gina to Sea, don't tell me I have put you to sleep?"

Opening one eye she gazed at the woman and said, "You are having way too much pleasure."

A large wave hit the two knocking Gina off and taking the woman at least a foot away from sea. Getting to her feet, Sea walked over and grabbed the woman and said, "Come on, lets get out of here."

 Taking Sea's outstretched hand, she followed the woman to the beach. They looked back at the water and both laughed as Gina said, "Never let me hear I never had you, I did if only for a moment."

 Sea placed her hands on the woman's shoulders and said, "And I had you if only in a dream."

Gina reached up and touched Sea's damp face as she said, "When I look at you, I see the most beautiful woman in the world."

 Sea's face had grown serious, her emerald greens speaking out to the woman as she said, "And in your eyes, I see the world and all its wonders. You have shown me a different way of looking at the world and through your eyes it is new once more"

Gina stepped back, turned and walked toward a palm tree as she said, "You have had too much sun."

 Sea called after her, "We have come to know one another and it has not always been the easiest. You have stayed by me regardless what others think and Gods help us, but I am falling..." Taking a step toward the woman, Sea replied, "Maybe my heart has slipped a cog or two but when I see you, it jumps into my throat. Damn it woman, I, I..."

 Turning once more Gina said, "Let's go sit under the tree, maybe if you sit under some shade, you will get over these delusions."

She followed the woman and sat beside her. They watched the water as it ran rampant toward the sand then faded back into the recesses of the ocean. Sea finally spoke, "I know I have been a pain, but you must know by now, I have great respect for you. I will admit, in the beginning I was afraid, afraid to let you into my heart fully. It has taken time, I have learned as have you, our love even though a dream can come true. Admit it, the sensation is pleasant. You have taught me patience and trust once more."

 Looking away then bringing her brown eyes toward the woman, Gina said, "You are telling me, I don't have to be alone anymore, and the dream I dared to dream could come true."

 Sea placed her right arm around the woman's shoulders and said, "Dreams are what we make them. I believe the day you stepped into my life, it was the start of a dream, and now I have come to the end. There is no longer a rainbow which points toward it's treasure. When I gaze into your eyes, I am there. When I sleep, I feel our bodies merging and I hear your voice. I know it is only a dream but sometimes dreams are the answer to our future."

Gina's eyes started to tear up as she reached for a stone and tossed it toward the water. "Why couldn't you just leave it, it has been fun, a wonder. Don't you know, each day I feel the walls around my defenses start to crumble. I fear I am falling in--then I wake and you are not there."

 Placing her head against the woman's, Sea said, "Each day without you in it has been torture. I find myself longing to see that smile, those dimples and the woman that lights my very existence. If it is the fear of falling, don't, because I will always be there to catch you."

Gina whispered, "You mean it?"

"I've never meant anything more in my life."

 Her words were shaky as she whispered, "You won't let me drop?"

 "No, I would rather hurt myself than to ever see anything happen to you."

 Gina had relaxed her body as she fell into Sea's embrace. "I'm sorry if I led you on, I felt you thought it was all a game."

 Reaching out and placing her hand under the woman's chin, carefully tipping her head up, she answered, "In the beginning, maybe, we passed that a long time ago. I love you Gina, and if you didn't know it, there is no doubt now."

 Gina's chin trembled as she tried to control the tears, the woman's voice cracked as she said, "For me, it is the first, I don't have anything to compare the feelings to, but I do know, I have deep feelings for you. When I see you, my heart skips a beat, I feel this sensation in the pit of my stomach. I look forward to each day just to see that smile, those eyes."

 Her lips glided onto Gina's as Sea savored the woman for an instant then said, "That's love. You really love me. I think you overtook me like a star falling from the sky, before I knew it, you had made your mark. I don't want it any other way. Come on, let's get back to the shack, get into some dry clothes."

Gina stood, her light brown eyes gleaming at the woman as she said, "Have to get out of these first."

 Smiling as she wrapped an arm around the woman's waist she said, "Then let's hurry, before these dry." They laughed as they strode toward the lone shack setting between the trees and surrounding shrubbery.

 After they had entered the building, Sea started a small fire in the hearth and said, "Take those clothes off, there is a towel by the table, dry off."

 Gina asked, "What about you?"

 "Be right back, going to go get some water for tea."

 Gina watched the woman walk from the room. Her body full of pent up passion and longing. Long ago, she had thought if the woman ever touched her with the strokes of love she would surely die. It was coming so close to happening and she wondered if she would indeed.

It didn't take her long to remove the wet clothes and dry off, she found a shift and slipped into it. Sea returned and put water on to warm. She smiled at the woman then removed her clothes, dried off and put on a shift. Gina walked toward the hearth and removed the pot of water as she said, "I'm tired, we have been out all day, my body is exhausted as I am sure yours is. Let's get
some rest."

 Smiling as she watched the woman walk toward a pallet and lie down Sea said, "Guess the love making is off for tonight, huh?"

 Grinning at her, Gina replied, "I, am tired."

 Walking toward her, Sea whispered, "Then we will sleep. I want the both of us relaxed and in top form." She dropped to her knees beside the woman and continued, "Is it all right if I lay next to you?"

 Looking at her, Gina answered, "I certainly hope so. I'm glad you love me, promise you won't ever stop?"

 Laying beside the woman, she answered, "Never, close your eyes and sleep." Gina's eye lids fluttered as she said, "I will miss you."

 Placing a soft warm kiss on the woman's lips, Sea whispered, "And I you, I think my dream has come true."

 Gina's voice trailed off, "You are my dream, I..."


 Sea opened her eyes, her body hot and perspiring. Glancing down, she surveyed her chest, she was covered in moisture, it had been a dream. Her eyes sought out Gina and she could see the woman was laying on her side, sleeping peacefully. She knew she had to get up and out of there. There had been times the two had been close and she had to fight her body's craving for the physical release it longed for. She had made the decision if it ever was to be, it would be in a place that Gina would never forget. She wanted the woman to experience all the pleasures of love. Now, she had to get away, before she let the yearning of her body take over and found herself taking the woman. She would never let that happen, and that is exactly why she slipped on her shirt and left the cabin."

 When she stepped on deck, Saxton noticed the apparent upheaval of the woman's body, plus she was barefoot. He walked toward her and said, "Was that good huh?"

 She scowled at the man and said, "Little you know, we never, I never..."

 He laughed and said, "Maybe not, but you have the look of one that has. Never seen you on deck without your boots. I told you this one was a handful."

 She nodded and started back below as he called out, "Now where are you going?"

 She answered, "To throw some water on my face and get my boots. Maybe you will quit looking at me with that Cheshire cat grin."

 As she disappeared below, she could still hear the man laughing. Passing a mirror, she stopped and took a look at herself. Her face was crimson, hair was disheveled, clothes rumpled, and perspiration still pouring down her face. Reaching down she grasped the shirt and pulled it away from her breasts where it had been clinging. She trod to Gina's cabin, went in and closed the door. Falling onto her stomach on the bed, she cursed, "Damn, damn, damn." Her hands flailing the bed.

Chapter Twenty Five

She stood in the shadows watching the two women. They had stepped off the deck and were now leaning against the bulwark. Asterea sneered as she watched the two standing so close. It was evident the two were more than just servant and friend. It always made the woman's juices flow when she was able to discover a bond between two people because it always made them
vulnerable at some point.  The wheezing sound coming from her nose, caused the woman to curse under her breath. Though
the broken nose had healed, it now caused this confounded noise when she breathed. Her eyes narrowed as she honed them in on Kiera. The woman had dared to hit her, no one had ever done this. She had always intimidated and won, she would bide her time and then the woman would pay and pay dearly. If her fear of Calico wasn't so strong, she would see to it now.

Kiera gazed at the water as Alexia asked, "Where are you?"

 Turning to smile at the woman, she replied, "A long way from here. My eyes can reach out and search an endless sea."

 Alexia gazed up at the woman and said, "I would rather be somewhere else also, that is, if you are there." She turned her gaze to the woman in the shadows and added, "She gives me the creeps, woman has been watching us for days."

 Kiera turned her full attention toward her friend and said, "I know, don't let her get to you, it is what she wants."

 Laughing, Alexia added, "Your little confrontation certainly put a damper on her libido. We have been given the run of the ship, food and drink."

 Touching Alexia's right hand with hers, Kiera said, "Can't get too confident, she is the kind who will wait for that. I think she is more fearful of this Calico Jack. If it were not for his devious plan to capture Ann, I think we both would have been fish bait a long time back."

 Alexia's look turned to concern as she said, "It is getting cold up here, let's go below."

 Nodding, she turned as the two walked side by side toward the steps leading down to their cabin.

Once they were inside, Alexia fixed the woman a warm mug of tea then said, "I have something I need to do, promise me you will stay in the quarter, I will be back soon."

 Her look was stern as Kiera said, "Not her, don't you go there!"

 The woman sighed as she said, "I have need of some--it has nothing to do with her."

 Nodding, Kiera walked toward the table, pulled out a chair and sat. "Don't be long, I will worry you know."

 Smiling the woman's voice echoed back, "I know." It didn't take her long to make her way to the deck and took even less time to confront Asterea. The woman was surprised when Alexia approached her. "You, what are you doing up here, did your other half give you permission to leave?"

 Her eyes showing little emotion as her body feigned the woman's barbed words. "I think it is time we have a little talk." The moon was now sending down its glowing rays and it was then she spied the woman's nose, it now seemed crooked and the sound that was coming from it made her turn away so the woman could not see the grin that was trying to travel her mouth.

"What is your problem? You say you need to talk, yet, you turn your back. It is not a healthy thing to do, where I am concerned, I have ran my cutlass through many like that."

 Regaining her composure she turned to face the woman and said, "It is about Kiera."

 Holding up her right hand, Asterea snapped, "Might have known, well don't be telling me what not to do, won't work." Her eyes sending chills through out Alexia as the woman continued, "I owe her."

 Shaking her head, Alexia said, "No, seems you started it. It took her awhile to get over your brutality." She was holding the leather pouch that hung from her neck with her left hand as she said, "I will stop you, and you know I can. Take this as a warning, if I have to I will call upon all the powers I possess."

Stepping back, a trace of fear on the woman's face, she said, "I will not harm her not here, but after Calico is through with her, I make no promises."

 Alexia's eyes were locked with the woman's as she said, "Then it is settled, whenever you decide, then I will also. I bid you good night." She turned and left the area. Asterea's eyes followed the woman until she was out of sight. It was Nathaniel's words that brought her back to the moment. "That one could prove to be trouble."

 Turning to stare at the man, she replied, "Maybe, but neither women have seen the real trouble I can give. Let's go down to my cabin, I have need of a little relaxation."

 He smiled, "Your wish is my command." The two walked from the ships deck and soon were out of sight.


It didn't take long for the men to row the boat to the waiting ship. Xena and Gabrielle were happy to plant their feet on the deck. Xena's hands were on her hips as she stared around and said, "Wonder where Sea is?"

 Gabrielle's eyes traveled the area and when she spotted Saxton, she ran toward the man vocalizing, "Saxton!" His eyes lit up as he reached out and hugged the woman.

 Xena's face was void of expression as she watched. Her only thoughts were she definitely did not want to see this kind of behavior toward Ann. Her thoughts were interrupted by Gabrielle. She had hold of the man's left hand and was pulling him toward Xena as she called out, "Xena, this is Saxton." Her eyes shone with hints of love for the man as she continued, "Saxton, this is--Xena."

 The two stared at one another as the man reached out and grasped Xena's right arm and said, "Nice to meet you, any friend of 'little one's' is a friend of mine."

 Grasping the man's arm, Xena muttered, "Same here." Gabrielle had noticed the arched eyebrow and knew she would hear Xena tease her later about the words, 'little one.' She stared at Saxton and asked, "I thought Sea would be here to greet us, is she all right?"

 The man held a silly grin on his face as he said, "Fine, probably sleeping."

 Gazing toward the sky, Xena spoke, "Kinda late to be sleeping, is she alone?"

He shrugged his shoulders and said, "Don't know. If you two would follow me, I will show you to your cabin."

 Gabrielle smiled at the man and said, "We're ready." They followed the man in silence and when admitted to their new quarters, he said, "I'll have your belongings brought down." A last smile toward Gabrielle he said, "It is, good to see you."

 She smiled and said, "Me too."

 Xena gazed around the room and said, "Looks like any other." Her eyes searching Gabrielle's she added, "Bet Sea's cabin is a lot nicer."

 She smiled at the woman and said, "You have captained a ship, you know the captain's cabin is always the biggest and best. If you want I could mention this to Sea."

 Reaching out she pulled the woman to her, wrapping her arms around Gabrielle's waist, she held her tightly and said, "Oh no, we talk to Sea together."

 Her blue green eyes sparkled up at the woman as she said, "I think I detect a hint of jealousy still."

 Xena smiled, "Where the woman is concerned, always. Where do you suppose she is?"

 Gabrielle laid her head against Xena's chest as she said, "Don't know, probably sleeping off the beating she took. I know it was hard to wake you."

 Xena reached down and tipped Gabrielle's chin up as she said, "Oh, was it really that difficult?" She lowered her head, placing a soft caress on the woman's lips.

Gabrielle enjoyed the sensation as their lips glided in a feeling of pleasure. Finally stepping back as she said, "I relished waking you like I did, it just seemed to take longer for your body to respond."

 Xena held a sheepish expression on her face as she said, "Kept you awake all night, huh?"

 Nodding, Gabrielle answered, "You slept but you were in pain all night. I felt for you." Her eyes growing stern and her face set as she said, "Don't you ever do that again, Gods Xena, fighting with the one woman who is a match for you. What in Tartarus were the two of you trying to do, see who killed who first? I have no doubt you both would have perished and I certainly hope you and Ann have realized how childish this was!"

 Xena had stepped back, her head cocked to the side as she listened to the woman rant. Her face was glowing with merriment. The woman's blue eyes sparkled as a warm smile crossed her face. Finally Gabrielle said, "All right, I can see it in your face, you are enjoying this way too much." Turning to walk toward the small wooden table she added, "I sometimes think tossing the two of you into a pit would be heaven for the both of you."

 "Are you finished?" Xena's warm words floated to the woman. Gabrielle turned to stare at her and said, "Finished, I'm sorry, it's just when I see how much pain you are in, it hurts me to know this is all my fault."

 Stepping toward her, Xena shook her head and said, "No, it is ours, it is mine. Ann and I meeting like this was going to happen eventually and you are right, if we really went at one another no holds bared, neither of us would come out of it alive. I apologize to you. I should never have let my dark side emerge. I pray the Gods I can come to some kind of resolution once I, we reach Tunis."

 Gabrielle pointed toward a chair and said, "Sit down, tell me what you are feeling about this trip?"

 Xena pulled out a chair and sat, her eyes gazing at Gabrielle as she watched the woman sit. Finally she said, "Nothing to tell, it is still something I cannot speak about. I know you are concerned, as am I. This will not be an easy undertaking for any of us. Ann has her mother to worry about and all I want is a chance to..."

 Leaning back in her chair, Gabrielle said, "To what Xena, kill the woman? When will you tell me what happened to you?" Her eyes seeming misty as she continued, "I'm not naive you know, I have thoughts, I just can't understand how something like this could have happened. You are, have always been so dominant." Leaning forward, she asked, "Am I even close? I pray it is just
my rampant quest for scribing that has made me even think this."

 Xena stood up, her eyes turning cold as she snarled, "I'll be up on deck. You are in a fantasy world all your own, when you decide to come back down you know where you can find me." Gabrielle called after her but the woman had already left the room.

 She stared at her clasped hands as she muttered, "Will you ever learn keep your mouth shut." She stood as her mind went to where she had been thinking, finally shaking her head she said, "Nah, if she would only tell me." She gazed at the room and the bed as she sighed and left the cabin."

Gina woke up with one arm hanging off the bed. She was laying on her stomach. Turning over she mumbled, "Sorry if I took most of the bed." There was no answer and she immediately ran a hand over the bed then turned to gaze at the spot where she had last seen the woman. Sitting up, she muttered, "Where are you?" She could tell the ship was moving and quickly placed her feet on the floor. She was sitting on the edge of the bed when someone knocked on the door. Getting to her feet she walked toward it and said, "If that is you Sea I don't find this very funny." Opening it, she stared into the blue green eyes of a lovely woman. Both women seemed to be frozen as they gazed at one another, finally Gina said, "If you are looking for Sea, she is not here. Gabrielle?"

Gabrielle smiled and said, "You must be Gina. Yes, it is me." She stepped past Gina as she said, "Where is the elusive one?"

Gina seemed to be surprised as she shut the door and followed the woman. Gabrielle seemed right at home as she walked toward the desk then turned and said, "Tell me, you are Gina aren't you?"

 Nodding, the woman said, "Sea told you about me?"

 Smiling, Gabrielle's eyes surveyed the rumpled bed as she replied, "I guessed it. I'm happy for her, for you."

 Gina walked toward her boots and sat on the bed. Reaching down to slip them on she said, "Is the woman Xena with you?"

 Gabrielle walked toward the chair that set by the desk. She pulled it out and sat as she said, "Yes, Xena is here somewhere."

 A look of fear traveled the woman's face as she exclaimed, "Oh no, we can't have them fighting again!"

Smiling, Gabrielle said, "I'm certainly with you on that one. I don't know how Sea came out but Xena is in quite a bit of pain, though she hates to admit it."

 Nodding, Gina said, "Same here, they are both so..."

 Gabrielle beamed, "Hardheaded."

 Pulling on the last boot, Gina turned her full attention to the woman and said, "That too. You are striking, I can see how Sea has fallen for you."

 Arching an eyebrow, Gabrielle said, "And I you, come lets go find your--captain."

 Gina grinned as she stood up and said, "She definitely is that, I'm with you." As the two women left the room, Gabrielle could be heard saying, "We need to sit down and discuss Sea, she..." The words faded as they disappeared from view.


The rolling of the ship, brought about a sudden panic. Sea's eyes flew open as she jumped, falling from the bed onto the floor. She laid there for a few moments letting the agony her body was going through settle then she got to her knees. Grabbing the side of the bed she pulled herself up. Running her hand through her hair, she tossed her head and let the hair fall back. Walking toward the porthole she looked out. The ship was moving, this only meant they had set sail. Her mind darted to Gina, then to the two women that were supposed to come aboard. Walking toward the basin she poured water into it. Taking her hands, she cupped the liquid and splashed it onto her face. It felt good as she repeated this. Glancing around for a towel and not seeing any, she turned and left the cabin. She had taken several steps when she heard the cool voice behind her. "Sleeping it off or just sleeping?"

 Turning she found herself gazing at Xena. She smiled and said, "Something like that. You are here."

 Nodding, the woman replied, "All of me, bruises and all. Before you ask, she is somewhere on this thing you call a ship."

 Sea's eyes surveyed the woman as she said, "The Bounty is every bit the finest ship to sail the ocean, you'll not get me to defend it or take a snipe at you. "

 Laughing, Xena said, "Don't want that. From the looks of you and I know how I feel we just might heal in time to do it all over again in Tunis." She noticed Sea's look and added, "Of course, with other people."

 Sea reached out and grasped the woman's right arm and said, "Good to have you aboard, let's go to my cabin, I need to see if..."

 Xena reciprocated the grip as she said, "The woman is there?"

 Nodding, Sea answered, "Woman, right, Gina not Gabrielle."

Following Sea down the passageway, Xena said, "Second time I have heard that name, tell me is this who has got you so flustered? Unlike the captain not to greet their boarders."

Approaching the cabin, Sea turned and said, "She is special. Once you meet her you will see for yourself. I just overslept. Had a bad night."

She walked into the cabin followed by Xena and after closing the door she said, "Have you eaten yet?"

 Nodding, Xena replied, "Before we left, Gabrielle made us something. Guess you haven't."

Sea walked toward the bed and said, "No, not very hungry though." Her eyes taking in the rumpled bedding as she turned and stepped toward the desk. Taking a bottle of port she said, "Want some? It will ease the ache."

 Xena smiled as she said, "Sure, let's make a pact, if either of us ever gets to this point again, we will pound the stuffing out of a pillow or something like that?"

 Laughing as she poured several mugs of port Sea answered, "Deal. Here." She handed a mug to Xena and sat as she pointed to the bed or to the other chair. Xena chose the bed and sat as she said, "Thanks, Gabrielle is not to fond of a drink so early."

 Smiling, Sea said, "Then we won't tell her. Where do you suppose Gina is, or for that fact, where is Gabrielle?"

 Xena had taken a long drink and when finished she said, "Left her in the cabin, don't know about this--Gina."

 Their eyes seemed to lock as they both said, "Gods, do you think they have found one another?" Laughing, Sea took a sip then said, "If they have, we should be feeling a little heat soon."

 Xena's blue eyes seemed to dance as she said, "They wouldn't, it's not... they wouldn't talk about us like that."

 Leaning back in her chair, Sea muttered, "Well, it is not like something we might not do, not that I would."

 Grinning, Xena said, "I can see it now, these two get together, we are doomed."

Sea poured more port into Xena's mug and said, "Then best we finish off this bottle, who knows what they will be conjuring up."

 Nodding, Xena said, "I'll drink to that." She had raised the mug and thought better of it as a sharp pain ran across her chest."

 Sea smiled and said, "For a time, looks like we both will be a little out of shape."

 Xena's eyes seemed lost in love as she whispered, "I don't mind."

 Sea looked away as she said, "If the weather holds, we should make good time."

 Pursing her lips, Xena replied, "I fear for your mother but I have to tell you this is not something Gabrielle or I are looking forward to. Calico will be looking for us and would like nothing else than to capture all of us."

Sea grimaced, it will never happen, can't let it. I will not see any harm come to you, Gabrielle or Gina."

 Her eyes set on Sea's, Xena said, "And you, have you no regard for your own life?"

She had finished the port in her mug and looked up as she replied, "I do, but I value my mother's more. I do worry for the woman though."

 Xena had noticed the expression on Sea's face as she said, "This Gina, does she have a family?"

 Shaking her head, Sea told the woman what had happened to her and her sister. When she had finished, Xena's lips curled into a frightening snarl as she said, "Asterea will pay! The poor woman."

 Sea divided the last of the bottle between the two as she said, "She doesn't like to be thought of like that but you are right. I worry, what will happen to her if..."

 Xena took the newly filled mug and said, "Don't, if anything should happen and it won't, she will be welcome to stay with us. We will see she goes or gets whatever she wants."

 Attempting to smile, Sea's voice seemed to fail as she said, "Th...thank you."

 Xena's expression had not changed as she said, "I know how you feel about Gabrielle, I can handle it. I have a request for you."

 Sea nodded and said, "All right, fire away."

 "If something happens to me, would you..."

 Holding up her right hand, Sea said, "No need, nothing will. But if something should, she will always have a place with me, you know that."

 Xena smiled, "I certainly hope we all get through this. Even in death I will have a hard time knowing she is with you. It is all right, it is what I want. Can't blame a person for still carrying a little of the green eye as Gabrielle calls it.


When Gabrielle and Gina made it back to the cabin they were surprised to see the two women there. Empty bottles of port lay on the floor and Xena and Sea were passed out. Xena lay half on the bed and Sea with her head on the desk. Gabrielle stared at Gina and said, "Help me get Sea onto the floor?"

 She nodded as the two carefully lowered the woman. Then turned their attention to Xena. They soon had the woman laying fully on the bed. A look of peacefulness on her face. Xena mumbled, "Can't save the world...."

 They looked at one another and shrugged their shoulders. Gabrielle said, "They will be out for awhile, let's go."

 Gina stared back at Sea then followed the woman from the room. "Gabrielle, we have to get you out of that skirt, kinda hard climbing the rigging and shimmying up to the crows nest in that."

 She called back, "Hurry up. You're right, need a pair of pants. Have to admit those two are kind of cute back there." Their laughter soon dissapeared as they vanished from sight.

Chapter Twenty Six

Xena and Sea were standing several feet from the helm, their eyes taking in the two women below on deck. Gabrielle and Gina were facing one another. Each had a determined look on their face as they walked a tight circle.

 Xena's arms were hanging loosely by her side.

 The flaming red head seemed to be nervous as she said, "Think we should stop them? They have been going at this for days."

 Turning her gaze toward Sea, Xena grinned, "Nah, they are having too much fun. Besides, Gina is learning."

 Taking a step forward, Sea replied, "Learning what, how to get beat up? Gabrielle is too skilled in defense."

 Xena seemed to be enjoying the apprehension in the woman's tone as she said, "Could always go down there and stop them. Course, Gina would feel disgraced."

Sea called out, "Hey you two, take it easy! There is a whole pirate capital we are going to, save some of that pent up anger for them!"

 The two waved as Gina struck out at Gabrielle. The woman ducked the blow and landed a solid hit onto Gina's stomach. As the woman crumpled over, clutching her stomach, Sea grabbed a rope and swung down to the deck. As her feet landed she eyed Gabrielle then dropped to her knees beside Gina and said, "Are you..."

 The woman raised her head and looked at Sea, her eyes starting to mist up as she said, "You, you how could you?" Getting to her feet she ran from the deck.

 Standing she turned her gaze toward Gabrielle and said, "That was uncalled for, you know she has never fought before."

Gabrielle had her hands on her hips as she said, "I wish someone had taught me sometime back. You're right though, I should have drew back on the blow. It is so easy to forget myself."

Sea glanced toward Xena then back at Gabrielle as she said, "This is not over, I know what you are doing and it has to stop."

 Turning to walk away, Gabrielle replied, "I was just trying to help. We get to Tunis, no one is going to baby-sit the woman."

 Sea's Emerald Green's were shooting sparks as she said, "There will be no need. And if anyone watches her it will be me."

 Calling back as she walked toward Xena, Gabrielle said, "Kinda hard to do at the hands of Calico Jack don't you think?"

Sea's eyes darting to Xena then back at Gabrielle, she swallowed and said, "Stop right there young lady!"

 Gabrielle froze in her tracks and Xena stood at attention. Her eyes and body movement indicating she was prepared to intervene. Sea stared up at Xena and said, "This is between Gabrielle and me, it is not your place to mix into this."

Gabrielle stared at Xena as she said, "It's all right, I can take care of myself." She had just got the last word out when Sea's voice dropped an octave as she said, "Turn around."

Slowly, the woman turned, she moved her neck back and forth as if to get a kink out of it. The crew had stopped what they were doing to watch the two. Xena called down, "Don't start something you are not prepared to finish, Ann Bounty!"

 The muscles in Sea's jaw tightened as her eyes glared at the woman. "It is not Gina you are mad at it is me. Take out your anger where it sets."

Attempting to smile, Gabrielle said, "I have no anger toward you or her."

 Tossing her head, Sea said, "We both know different. You and Gina have become close, maybe too close. I appreciate the fact you have taken her under your wing. Gods know I couldn't."

"Then why call me out like this, you and Xena are now just beginning to feel human once more. There is no reason to get into something that does not concern you."

Taking a step toward the woman, Sea replied, "When I see someone as gullible as Gina being taking down the path by you, it is time I stepped in."

 Tossing her head, Gabrielle sneered, "She will hate you, you know. Disgracing her in front of everyone like that."

 Sea glanced around at the crew as she said, "We can get past that. Now, if it is a punching bag you want, try me."

 Shaking her head, Gabrielle said, "No, I don't want to hit you."

 Sea took several more steps and was within inches of the woman now. Their eyes were locked, each breathing heavily and waiting for the other to make a move. Gabrielle smiled as she said, "Oh no, I remember all about calling the captain out, never again." She turned around once more and it was then Sea reached out and grabbed her right shoulder, spinning the woman back around as she said, "Then it will be I that makes it."

 Xena had somersaulted through the air and had landed close by. Gabrielle stared at her and said, "Forget it Xena, this is between us."

 Xena looked at the two women then said, "While you two are playing your little games, I will go see if the other one is all right." She turned and left the deck. After Xena was out of sight, Sea turned her attention to Gabrielle and said, "Why? Why are you doing this?"

 Trying to shake the woman's hold from her shoulder she said, "Because, it..."

 Sea released the woman as she said, "Gods, you have made your choice, is it your wish I never have anyone, never be happy?"

 Looking out at the water, Gabrielle answered, "It's not that, I really was trying to help. I just got carried away."

 Shaking her head, Sea said, "If you are inclined to hit someone, then hit me."

 A sad look came over the woman as Gabrielle said, "Couldn't, I promise it won't happen again. I really am sorry." Her look was apologetic and Sea knew the woman still had her wrapped around her finger as she said, "Maybe I jumped too soon." Then realizing what she had said, she added, "No, I have been watching the two of you go at it for days. If you are going to teach her, don't try to kill the woman in the process."

Smiling, Gabrielle said, "I promise." Her eyes catching Sea's for that instant. She took a step forward, reached out and placed her right hand behind Sea's neck, and stood on her toes as she placed a quick kiss on the woman's lips. Stepping back she said, "All right, here I stand, punish me if that is your will." She was holding her arms outstretched with her wrists touching. Sea
glanced around as she said, "Xena would try to kill me if she saw you do that."

 Shaking her head, Gabrielle said, "No, she knows I love her. If you are finished, is it all right if I go now?"

 Nodding , Sea answered, "Go, find Xena and for Zeus' sake, leave Gina to me."

 Gabrielle laughed as she walked from the deck.

It didn't take Xena long to locate the woman, Gina was in her cabin. She was standing near the porthole, gazing out at the water. She heard the woman enter the room and said, "Go away, haven't you humiliated me enough for one day?"

 Stopping, Xena said, "Just wanted to see if you were all right."

 Turning, she gazed at the woman, tears running down her face as she said, "I'm fine, maybe you should be asking someone else that."

 "Is it all right if I come in?"

 Shrugging her shoulders, Gina answered, "Suit yourself. Did you come to gloat? You have taught Gabrielle well, she will be good in battle."

 Xena stepped into the room as she said, "I never taught her, others did. I'm sure she received her share of hard-knocks. I will talk to her."

 Shaking her head, Gina gazed at the woman as she said, "You and Sea just don't get it do you? Gabrielle was trying to teach me how to survive."

Pursing her lips, Xena said, "There is teaching and then there is crossing the line. I do understand, you want to be able to stand on your own, beside the woman you love."

 Gina's eyebrows arched in a look of surprise she said, "You, you are seeing too much in this."

 Shaking her head, Xena managed a smile as she said, "No, it is all there, I watch your eyes follow Sea when the woman is not looking. For some reason you feel you need to fight like Gabrielle, be the woman in all things, don't. She like you, is one of a kind, Sea loves you, so it is you that she wants by her side."

 Gina was standing her arms folded across her chest. She took several steps toward the bed and said, "You have been watching me, how can you tell by the way I look at a person?"

 Smiling, Xena replied, "Your face, those eyes, and a set of dimples that gives you away at every turn."

 Sitting down on the bed she focused her full attention on the tall, dark haired woman and said, "Then why doesn't she see this? Since the two of you have come aboard, she has been distant. I moved back here because I felt it was what she wanted."

 Xena pulled out a chair and sat as she said, "She is worried, it is quite a load to carry. Her mother taken prisoner and the only way she will get her released is to turn herself over to this heartless man. I think maybe right now Ann doesn't think she has much to offer in the way of a long term commitment."

Gina's face seemed to soften as she said, "I, I had let it slip to the back of my mind. You are right, she must be going through terrible turmoil at this time."

 Placing her left leg over her right, Xena said, "If you are thinking of running to her, wrong thing to do. She, like me, does not want sympathy. I think I have grown to know Ann Bounty pretty well on this trip. I am not the best person to talk over your troubles with but I will listen and if there is anything I feel I can do I will."

 Gina replied, "I need to go find Gabrielle and apologize."

 Shaking her head Xena said, "I'll go find her, there is no apologizing needed to be done. I have seen the way the two of you have taken to one another, it is good, Gabrielle misses her sister and..."

 Gina stood as she said, "It is all right, I can think about my sister now, the pain is still there but less than it was. Thank you Xena for taking the time to talk to me."

 Standing, Xena's blue eyes became soft and warm as she said, "Anytime you want to talk I'll be around, now I have to go find Gabrielle."

 Gina watched the woman walk from the room as she reached up and wiped the tears from her face. Taking a long breath of air, she turned and left the room. She walked toward the deck and when her feet were planted firmly up top, she gazed around for Sea. She had looked everywhere but could not see the woman and was about to go below and check out her cabin when she heard the words, "I'm sorry."

Gazing up she could see the woman standing in the crows nest. Leaping up she grabbed a rope and pulled herself up, each grip of the rope seemed harder but she had done it before as she climbed hand over hand to the top. Sea reached out and grasped her left hand as she said, "It terrifies me when I see you do things like that."

 Gina felt the woman's strength as she pulled her the rest of the way up. Standing she gazed into sea's emerald green eyes and said, "There is no need to apologize, I am the one who is sorry for snapping."

 Sea pointed toward the distance and said, "Our fate lies out there, I know now, Gabrielle was just trying to get you prepared for what will be. Although she has a hard way of showing it."

 Grinning, Gina said, "Should have been prepared. It won't happen again. Sea, just promise me you will have faith in me?"

 Placing her left arm over the woman's shoulders, Sea smiled at her and said, "Promise, I do, it is just..."

 Placing her right hand around the woman's waist, Gina said, "I--Sea, we need to talk about Tunis and what will happen."

 Sea removed her arm from it's spot on the woman's shoulders and said, "Xena found you, I take it?"

 Nodding, Gina replied, "She is worried about you. You never told me you were going to give yourself to this man."

 Sea's eyes grew distant as she murmured, "His ultimatum is me for her. I have no choice. I tried to leave you behind."

 Gina reached out and grasped Sea's left hand in hers as she said, "You can't, from all I have heard the man will kill you but not before he hurts you." Her eyes were searching the woman's and the fear she was sensing was obvious.

Sea swallowed several times then gazed at her as she said, "What will be will, Xena will see you are taken care of if it comes to that."

 Gina's look was determined as she said, "I have lost my sister and probably mother and father. You came into my life and each day I found myself falling into your world. It has taken time but you, Ann Bounty, have captured my thoughts and feelings. I cannot lose you. In this time and place, I look forward to seeing you each day, I think my world would end if something happened to you."

 Managing to smile, Sea beamed at the woman, "Your world would go on. You have too much to give to it. I am just grateful to have had the pleasure of knowing you."

Gina reached up and placed a kiss on the woman's cheek as she said, "I can't listen to this any longer, the Ann Bounty I have come to know would not give up so easily. I am falling in love with you, you know." She grabbed the rope and within minutes was on the deck. Gazing up at the woman, she waved and walked toward the steps leading below.

 Sea watched the woman, her eyes taking in her lively step as she reached up and touched the still warm place of contact on her cheek.

She had just entered the passageway when a hand reached out and grabbed her left arm, pulling her back. She turned to see Gabrielle as the woman said, "Come on, no one is looking." She followed the woman to the cargo hold and once the two were inside and had shut the door, Gabrielle said, "Well, did it work?"

 Gina smiled, "It did, I think you are right, she does care about me." Her brown eyes widened as she said, "If she ever finds out that was all a stunt, except for your punch, it really hurt you know?"

 Gabrielle smiled as she walked toward a crate and sat. "Sorry about that, I thought I had pulled it back until I felt your flesh. You are right, if she or Xena ever find out this was all a test to see if Sea really has feelings for you, we would probably both end up in the ocean."

The two women laughed as Gabrielle tossed a bottle of port toward the woman and said, "Let's drink to our plan."

 Catching it Gina said, "Our plan." She pulled the cork from the bottle and handed it to Gabrielle as she said, "After you."

 The two women stayed in the hold, drinking the port and eating food she had taken from the galley. After they had finished the bottle, both sat on the floor leaning against the hull as Gabrielle said, "It has been nice, having you for a friend. I have truly forgotten how much fun a..."

 Gina cut in, "Me too.

Xena and Sea ran into one another as they both searched the ship for the two women. Xena stared at Sea as she said, "You too?"

 Sea nodded and replied, "If you are looking for the two, yes. I can't seem to find either one of them."

 Xena pointed aft and said, "I've looked top side, maybe we should look below."

 Sea gazed around then said, "Let's do it, certainly would hate to see them go at it again."

 Xena smiled, "Don't think we should worry about this but I do wonder what has happened to them. Last I saw Gina she seemed fine."

 Sea reached out and grabbed the woman's right arm as she queried, "You saw Gina, tell me where, was she all right?"

Xena told her all she felt she should and when finished they went below to look for the two missing women.

 They had covered the entire ship and had just approached the cargo hold when Sea said, "If we do not find them in here, it would mean we have lost them somewhere on the ocean." She opened the door and they stared at the women. Both sitting, their backs against the hull, Gina's head laying on Gabrielle's shoulder and both sound asleep. Looking at one another, Xena smiled as Sea whispered, "Let's go, they seem to be fine."

 The two women tiptoed backwards and closed the door. Once out Sea grinned at Xena as both women said, "We've been had." Laughing they left the area.

 The days that followed were spent in readying the ship, as well as the crew, for what was coming. The weather had been good, strong winds that took them along at a good clip but now the winds had quit and there wasn't even a breeze. They were moving slowly, if at all, and the heat from the sun had set it's rays down upon the ship and crew. People were passing out from the
heat and it was then that Sea finally said, "There is an island not far from here, we can take the longboats and row ashore. Maybe we can find some drinking water, even a stream."

 They were all for it and dropped anchor taking to the boats. Xena and Gabrielle rowed beside the men in their boat and Sea joined Saxton and the men in her's. Gina wanted to but Sea told the woman first she needed to learn how, then she could. Sitting she pouted but knew the woman was right, after all it had been her fault they ended up in the ocean that night.

She could feel the perspiration falling down her body and swore she had never been this hot before. Her eyes watched the boats and the faces of the men pulling the oars, they looked like they were on their last lap. Xena and Gabrielle were pulling their share of the required stamina that was needed to reach land.

 Her eyes came back to Sea, she couldn't help stare at the woman, she was a vision even with the moistness running down her face. She had read many scrolls, and knew about certain Gods and Goddesses, but this woman was a match for any of them in the beauty department as well as strength and stamina. Sighing, she knew, all the stories she had heard, all the tales her sister had told her were nothing to the real thing. Each day she was falling more and more and she knew she didn't want the feeling to stop.

 Funny thing though, she and Xena had stopped their vigil of watching her and Gabrielle and had finally decided to let the two go at it. Both thought this an unusual turn of events but shrugged it off.

 Once they had reached shore and disembarked pulling the boats to dry land, they all headed for the nearest group of trees. Xena and Sea volunteered to go on a scouting expedition and had their hands full trying to convince Gabrielle and Gina to stay behind. They promised they would be back before nightfall and took a water skin with them.

Gina and Gabrielle watched the two until they were out of sight then sat down under a tree. Leaning back, Gabrielle said, "Everything else now this, I think the Gods are against this trip." Gina smiled as she pressed her back against the tree's trunk and said, "It has been a good trip until now. I am worried for those two."

Glancing in the direction the two women had taken Gabrielle replied, "Don't be, there is nothing the two of them can't handle believe me."

 Gina took the water skin and asked, "Thirsty?" Gabrielle shook her head as Gina took a long drink then continued, "I guess you would be the one to know about that, the two of them, having been with both."

 Gabrielle's blue green eyes looked at her questioningly as Gina said, " Just meant you know them both where I don't."

Nodding, Gabrielle said, "Then believe me when I say, they will be back."

The water was barely moving as Gina stared toward the group of men nearby. "If not for them, I think it would be delightful to get wet."

 Smiling, Gabrielle said, "Delightful maybe but not a good idea. Just sit back, relax."

 Gina looked at her and said, "Tell me about yourself, you are a marvel to know."

 Her face feeling the warmth of her blush, Gabrielle blurted, "Not a marvel, Xena and Sea would be called that. I am just a village woman who talked Xena into letting me follow her."

"Then tell me about it, it will pass the time."

 Smiling, she said, "All right, but you have to promise me if I start to bore you, you will tell me?"

 Nodding, Gina said, "I will."

 Gabrielle sighed as she pulled at her wet clothing and began to tell of her times with the Warrior Princess.


Both women were getting tired but neither wanted to admit it, so they trudged on. As they were climbing a knoll, Sea gasped, "Do you hear something?"

Stopping, Xena listened then said, "Sounds like water, running water."

 Both women began to climb faster and when they reached the top, stared down at a beautiful lagoon, there was a cascading water fall that dropped into the water. They sat, and stared, finally Xena said, "Can't wait." She stood and dove into the water. Sea looked around and soon followed her.

 The water felt good on their hot bodies. Both dove under several times then coming up relishing the sensation. Xena had been laying on her back when she finally said, "Guess one of us should go back and get the rest."

 Sea swam toward her and said, "I will, you look too comfortable to move. I'll bring the women first, men can come later."

 Starting to object, Xena said, "Are you sure you don't want me to go?"

 Reaching out and pushing the woman under the water, Sea replied, "No, you need the rest." By the time Xena surfaced, she was already getting out of the water, turning to wave at the woman she began her trek back.

Gabrielle and Gina were deep in conversation when she approached them, Sea had been watching the two. It was apparent they were no threat to one another. She was pleasantly surprised at the camaraderie the two seemed to share. Clearing her throat she stepped toward them.

 The two looked up to see her approaching and jumped to their feet. Gabrielle muttered, "How--standing there?"

 She smiled and answered, "Long enough to know the two of you have become good friends." Her emerald green's sparkling at the two. Gina looked at Gabrielle then back at Sea as she said, "Jigs up huh?" Sea nodded as the woman continued, "We never meant to hurt anyone."

 Gabrielle reached out and touched Gina's hand as she said, "She means, we have settled the problem. From the looks of you I would say you either found some water or it is reaaallyy hot!" The woman had put the emphasis on the word really and Gina, as well as Sea, laughed.

She glanced at her clothes and said, "Found water, left Xena lounging in it. Come on."

 The two glanced toward the men as Sea said, "Tell them later, I think you both will love this."

 They followed the woman each eyeing the other. Sea like Xena had such long strides, she had turned a corner and was out of sight. Gabrielle grabbed Gina and said, "Hold up, we need to get this story straight, you almost gave us away back there."

 Her eyes on the path ahead, Gina nervously said, "I thought she knew."

 Shaking her head Gabrielle replied, "Only that we have become friends. Let me do the talking, you just go along with what I say."

 Shrugging her shoulders, Gina said, "All right, come on before we lose her and get lost in this jungle."

 Laughing, Gabrielle said, "That is exactly what it is, hope there are not animals around."

 Gina froze as she stuttered, "An--nn..."

 Turning her gaze at the woman, Gabrielle smiled, "You know, like lizards, monkeys, cats."

 Heaving a sigh of relief Gina said, "Oh, I like cats."

 Chewing on her lower lip, Gabrielle said, "Big cats not little bity house pets."

 Gina stepped past her as she said, "You are not real good in the comforting department. Hurry up, at least Sea has a cutlass."

Laughing, the woman ran to catch up to Gina.

 Sea was leaning against a large boulder waiting for the two women to come into view. She was smiling and thinking they were probably trying to get their stories straight. Her eyes glimmered as she thought how close Gina had come to spilling their little sport. She was just getting ready to go look for them when Gina came barreling into view followed by Gabrielle.

The two women slowed down when they saw her. Sea smiled at them as they neared and said, "Thought you got lost, I was just going to to look for you."

 They eyed one another as they said, "No."

 Laughing the woman said, "I can see that, you are standing in front of me, what kept you?"

 Gina looked around and said, "Cats."

 Truly amazed by now Sea asked, "Cat's, you saw cats? Cats detained you, what?"

 Gabrielle grinned and said, "No, we were just viewing the scenery and lost track of time. I told her there might be animals like cats for example."

Sea's emerald greens searched the women as she said, "You two, l think you have been spending way too much time together. Maybe Xena should talk to you Gabrielle and I to Gina." She grinned, "Might get the whole story this way."

 Both women shook their heads and said, "No story, can we go now?"

 Nodding her head, Sea pointed up and said, "We start up, it is on the other side."

 Xena was sitting on the ground, she had placed kindling and wood in a circle for later, if it got cool. Her boots were setting up side down and she gazed up when she heard the noise.

 Gabrielle was in awe as was Gina, the two stared transfixed at the falls as Gabrielle said, "It's beautiful. Will it take long to climb down?"

 Stepping behind the two women, Sea placed a hand on each one as she said, "Nope." She gave them a push and sent them both plummeting toward the water as she yelled, "Sending down two mates, look alive down there!"

 Xena waved as she stood and watched the two women hit the water. Though they went under, both had re-surfaced in good time and seemed to be enjoying the lagoon. Xena stared up at the woman and said, "Well, you going to stand up there all day?"

 Smiling, Sea dove off in one of the most perfect dives Xena had ever seen. Smiling she watched Gina and Gabrielle frolic in the water, her eyes searching for Sea and felt relief when the woman re-surfaced after going under. Sea swam toward the shore and the woman as she said, "Don't just stand there like that, give me a hand up."

 Reaching down Xena grabbed her left hand and pulled the woman from the water. Gina and Gabrielle oblivious of the two.

 Sitting on a rock, Sea said, "Seems we both have lost the women to one another."

 Xena glanced toward them as she said, "It is good, since none of us may come out of this alive, I'm glad they are getting some enjoyment."

Trying to shake some of the water off, Sea removed her boots and said, "Too bad someone can't invent boots that do not take on water."

 Flicking water toward the woman with her fingers, Xena laughed, "Never happen." She tossed the water skin toward Sea and said, "Found a nice spring not far from here, good drinking water. When do we go tell the men?"

 Sea lay back on the rock and said, "Later, knowing Saxton, they probably have already found one of their own. This does feel good."

 Xena smiled, "It does at that." She walked over to Sea and sat beside the woman. Laying back she said, "Guess we are a couple of..."

 She didn't get the words out because both women were attacked by Gina and Gabrielle.

Xena found the bard sitting on her and Sea was staring up at Gina. They both chorused, "Look too comfortable, did you miss us!"

 They looked at one another both enjoying the attention as they shook their heads and said, "Nah, have you been gone?"

 With those words, the women were met with a tickling match, Xena never knew she had so many ticklish spots and Sea was beside herself with hysterics. Gabrielle looked at Gina and said, "Ready?"

 "Ready." At this time they switched places and Gabrielle sat on Sea and Gina on Xena. The women took the tickling as long as they could and finally yelled, "We give!"

 Gabrielle and Gina shook hands as they stood up and said, "You missed us we can tell." Turning, they walked toward a dead tree trunk and sat.

 Sea and Xena were sitting as they gazed at the two women. Their eyes moving but nothing else. Slowly Sea went one direction and Xena the other, it didn't take them long to creep up on the two women. Immediately grabbing the two and tossing them back into the water. Their screams echoed the area. Each time they would try to come ashore, the women would toss them back in. "

 It was starting to get dusk and Gina and Gabrielle were having difficulty treding water as Gabrielle called out, "All right, you want to hear an apology, I'm sorry."

Gina's voice echoed the same thing. Xena and Sea gazed at one another as Sea said, "Think we should let them get out?"

 Sea nodded, "Only if they have learned their lesson." They held out a hand and said, "Come on."

 Gina grabbed Xena's as Gabrielle grasped Sea's and as the women went to pull them from the water, they jerked back sending the two women flying over their heads into the water. Climbing out they smiled, "Gotcha!"

 Xena laughed, so did Sea as they swam toward shore.

Chapter Twenty Seven

The two women walked side by side along the beach. The moon had come out and was sending down it's glorious shafts of light. Though it was still warm, it was nothing like it had been earlier. They walked in silence for sometime and it was Sea that reached over and grasped Gina's left hand. Gina smiled sheepishly as she said, "You and Xena are not still angry at us are you?"

 Stopping, she turned her head and stared down at the woman. Her blond hair seemed to glimmer like golden threads in the moon's rays. Feeling the woman's strength coursing through her hands, Gina smiled and said, "The tickling and..."

 Chuckling, Sea answered, "Oh yes it was so hard to take."

 The woman's dimples were intriguing as she found herself staring once more.

 Gina laughed and said, "Now I know you are teasing. Anyway I didn't mean to cause any problems."

 Sea gazed deeply into the woman's eyes and said, "Best day of my life, the day you entered it. It was refreshing to see you and Gabrielle get on so well. For a time Xena and I felt like children again. I know I enjoyed every tickle."

 Gina glanced away, her eyes staring at the moon's beams reflecting off the water. When she spoke it was soft, "I am fearful."

 A look of concern traveled Sea's face as she said, "You are far too young to be worrying about things you cannot prevent. We both know I will do all I can to see mother gets home. If it means..."

 Gina pulled away as she cried, "No, it cannot be. I have feared this, tell me it isn't true? You are not going to just give up?"

 Reaching out and taking Gina's hand once more, Sea replied, "Let's walk over to those trees, sit and talk about this."

 She nodded and at this time, Sea could see the woman's eyes begin to tear up.

 This was something she had been pondering herself. She had always been a person to make her own way, be it taking a ship or taking what she desired in love. Now, as each day they drew closer to Tunis, the fear had begun to creep up on her.

 Pointing to the ground, the two sat. Sea went to remove her hand from Gina's but the woman would not release it as she said, "I will not let you go."

 Smiling, she answered, "If you want to hold me that tight, I won't complain." Reaching out she touched Gina's face with the other hand. Her fingers delicately tracing the woman's lips. Gina's brown eyes sending flicks of gold toward her. It was her voice that brought Sea back to the moment. "I could sit and let your fingers caress me like that forever."

 Smiling, Sea gazed at the woman, "I--we may never get a moment like this again. I need to remember."

 Gina reached up and grasped Sea's hand and held it against her lips as she brushed gentle kisses on it. Sea slowly pulled the hand away, as she said, "You didn't have to do that."

 Gina still had a good hold of Sea's hand as she said, "I know, I wanted to. You will not sidetrack me. I need for you to tell me you will get your mother out and will not give up your life."

Shaking her head, she pulled away from the woman. Her eyes staring toward the water she said, "Wish I could. I have no idea what will happen once we get into the area. It was a difficult place for Gabrielle and I to infiltrate earlier, and will be impossible now. I know the only way in will be straight."

 Gina moved closer as she said, "Your mother will not want to live knowing she has lost you to the man in exchange for her life. Not the woman I have heard so much about anyway."

Sea turned to stare at this woman, she seemed to be so childlike in her escapades with Gabrielle but at this moment was every bit a woman. It took her a few minutes then she said, "You are right, mother will not be happy but she will be alive. Tell me, how can one that frolics like a child be so grown up?"

 Shrugging her shoulders, Gina answered, "Always have enjoyed sport, but I do know the difference and definitely when sport and fun becomes real. I have lost so much and it has been you that has shaped me into the person before you. I would surely have perished had I not found you."

 Sea smiled, "I know I would have."

 Gina's look was troubled as she said, "Seems we need one another, I know I want to be with you. I will die if you should perish at this man's hands."

 Taking Gina's left hand in hers, Sea whispered, "No, you will go on. Xena and Gabrielle will be there for you as will Saxton, Pagen and the others. You will not be alone."

 Gina stared at Sea's hold on her hand as she said, "Sure, and Gods forbid it should happen, what if Xena and Gabrielle meet their fate there also?"

 Contemplating the woman's words, Sea replied, "Won't happen, it is me he wants so badly, he was willing to take mother. You will be fine."

 Gina lay her head on Sea's shoulder as she said, "You can tell me, you know what is going to happen. I know about fear, I was there once, the woman Asterea is not a person to be captured by. I can't let this happen to you."

 Sea's voice cracked as she managed, "Never let it be said, Ann Bounty does not know fear. I am afraid, not of dieing, of what it will take to get there." She could feel something wet on her shoulder and turned to gaze at Gina. The woman had been silently crying and her tears were now finding their way onto Sea.

 She felt as if her heart would break as she reached down and said, "Don't cry, not for me."

 Gina raised her head, and stared into Sea's emerald greens as she sobbed, "For you, for what I will never know. If you die, I will also, I cannot live in this world having known you and losing you. My life would be empty I might as well be dead."

 Feeling herself begin to tear up, Sea reached down and brushed a kiss on the woman's forehead as she whispered, "For tonight, let's just sit, be together. What will come is far off now."

 Gina did not move her face, her eyes still fixed on Sea's, she uttered, "At least, let me love you."

 Grinning, Sea whispered, "Each time you look at me like that, I feel your love, there is not need to do anything other."

 She sat back and said, "I don't want you to go there, not having what you want. I know you have made jokes and seemed to take it lightly, but I also know you want my body, so I am offering it to you."

 Sea felt she would burst in two when she heard the woman's words. Lowering her head her lips sought Gina's.

It was a beautiful picture, the two women sitting so close, arms around one another. Their lips blending in a mixture of sweet love and passion.

 Sea had fallen back on the sand as Gina followed, their lips never parting. Her lips hungry as they searched for the fullness and release she desperately yearned to have.

 Gina enjoying the sensation of the touch and urging of her own body. They rolled and finally stopped when they hit the water. Sea pulled back as she said, "Gods, woman, you have made me lose all..."

 Gina kissed her once more then said, "You haven't lost anything at all."

 The water was lapping at their bodies as Sea sat up and said, "Have to move, have to get up and move."

 Gina sat back and stared at the woman completely oblivious to the water that was encroaching upon them. Her face flushed and a look of passion in her eyes as she said, "Why?"

 Sea was standing as she said, "Get out of the water." Reaching down she grasped Gina's right hand and said, "We need to get back."

 Gina stood as she accepted Sea's hand and said, "I did something wrong, I'm sorry."

 Walking from the water, Sea stopped and gazed down at the woman as she said, "You did nothing wrong. It was, is wonderful. You are wonderful. It cannot be like this, I want you, I will not deny that, but I will not give you what it seems we both want and have it taken away as suddenly. We need to get back."

 Gina didn't answer, she looked like someone that had been scolded and was waiting their punishment.

Sea silently cursed herself for letting the woman get so close, she knew she dared not even venture there. With Gina, it would be different, if she lived through Tunis. She felt the woman pull back and stopped to gaze toward her. "Something wrong?"

 Gina walked up to her and said, "Tell me pirate, one night when you are sleeping off a bottle of port, if I slip into your bed and caress your body until your grogginess wakes you to the touch of my love, will you deny me then also?"

 Feeling her body experiencing a pleasant sensation, she tried to remain calm as she steadied her voice and said, "It doesn't work if a person is in a stupor."

 The look of triumph quickly left the woman's face as she said, "Oh."

 The two walked back in silence. Sea was glad it had darkened some because she certainly hoped Gina could not sense she was walking in a most unusual way.


Xena had been watching Gabrielle. She insisted upon taking a moonlight swim before retiring. Xena enjoyed watching the woman as she glided through the water. Sitting, she crossed her legs and observed the woman's intricate movements. The moon only added to her beauty and the woman found herself searching for air as her breath seemed to be taken away. Gabrielle looked up and spying the woman she waved, swimming toward her.

 Xena smiled as the woman neared, "Had enough? You are breathtaking out there."

 Pulling herself up onto the ground, Gabrielle tossed her head, letting the strawberry blond hair fall back. She shook her hands trying to rid them of water as she said, "The light from the moon, sends it's golden rays down seeming just for you. When I glanced over and saw you sitting here, the glow that danced over your body was enough to take my breath." She looked at Xena and added, "Suppose the other two are all right?"

 Holding out a hand, Xena answered, "Fine, I'm sure they needed some quiet time. Sea has a lot on her plate now you know. Tunis coming up and a big decision to make."

 Nodding, she took Xena's outstretched hand and said, "Isn't there something we can do?"

 Pursing her lips, Xena said, "Been thinking on it, I'm not sure. I wasn't in the best mind frame last time I was there. Places and things are not brought to mind easily. Being in a drugged stupor leaves a lot to be desired."

 Sitting beside the woman Gabrielle looked alarmed as she said, "'Drugged.' I know you weren't in the best condition when we found you?"

 Xena looked as if she wished the words had not been spoken as she replied, "Something had a good hold on me. It was after..." Her face twisted into an angry cry of hate as she snarled, "Asterea."

 Gabrielle could feel the woman's grip on her hand tighten as she said, "Xena, this is my hand."

 Realizing what she was doing, she said, "Sorry, the woman just sends me to places of hate and anger, followed by revulsion."

Trying to be careful with her wording, Gabrielle searched for the right ones as she said, "Do you realize this is the most you have ever said, about her."

 Turning to gaze into Gabrielle's eyes, Xena's voice fell, "She is not worth your thoughts."

 "Maybe not, but you are and seems there is a connection of some kind here. Your capture, the torment, the pain and this woman."

 Xena released Gabrielle's hand as she pulled away. "Don't want to go there." Her words were sharp and to the point as she stared off at the water."

 Gabrielle never did have the knack for letting sleeping dogs lie as she said, "I do, we both need to. Xena, I may end up facing this woman, it might be a help if you told me something."

 The sound was low as if a rumble coming from deep in the throat as Xena turned to face her. "Which words did you not understand? Don't, go there, maybe that is a little clearer."

 Reaching out she placed her right hand on Xena's face and said, "You don't scare me, rumble all you want, I will still be here when you quit seething. All right, I promise no more questions tonight but before we get to Tunis, I want to know and you, my love, will tell me."

 Xena's blue eyes glimmered at the woman, her smile warm as she said, "'And you, anyone ever tell you it is like talking to a tree? Actually a tree might pay more attention to a person, at least they don't talk back."

 Moving very close to the woman, Gabrielle leaned over and placed a kiss on her chest as she stared up at her and said, "But, can a tree do that?" Her lips traced patterns across Xena's chest stopping as her tongue darted past her leather garment to tantalize the woman's breasts. "Or that?" Slowly raising her head she pressed her lips on the woman's neck, then ran her tongue along Xena's chin. Caressing and nibbling as she found an ear. Tracing a pattern of love she whispered, "Or that?"

 Xena gently pushed her back, her eyes dancing with merriment as she said, "Got me there, over a tree, you would win every time."

 "Oh really, well the night is young, woman, so lie back and relax."

Xena grinned as she fell backwards followed by Gabrielle. Xena managed to say, "Really should get out of these wet clothes." Their lips met in a fulfilling mesh of joy and aching. When they separated, Xena whispered, "Still, you take my breath away."

 Grinning as she lay her head close to the woman's, Gabrielle replied, "Still, I hope always."

 Moving slightly under Gabrielle's weight, Xena said, "Always, I wake to see you sleeping peacefully and I feel it, when you smile and those blue green eyes look at me, I feel it. I hear your voice..."

 Laughing Gabrielle said, "You need to see an oracle."

 Shaking her head, Xena whispered, "Only you, I need to know you are here."

 Sighing, Gabrielle replied, "Then it will always be so, because I am not going anywhere, you are stuck with me."

 Her look was tender as she said, "Stuck, never. You are the best thing to ever happen to me. I love you Gabrielle."

 Trying to merge her body with Xena's, and in a warm enticing voice she said, "And I you. About those clothes can I take them off now."

 Xena gazed at her and said, "Sure, you just got out of the water and they are getting me all wet."

 Sitting up as she stared at Xena's laughing eyes, she reached down and placed her hands on Xena's shoulders. " You know this is just making my body want yours even more." Her voice flowed with enticing connotations as she continued, "Roll over, its yours I want to remove."

 Xena reached up and grasped her hands as she said, "When did you become so masterful?"

Gabrielle's eyes looked apprehensive as she said, "I'm no different, but you are. Promise, I will not go there."

 Sighing, Xena uttered, "I pray the time will come when..."

 Gabrielle sat as if waiting for a gift on Solstice eve as she said, "It will make it all worthwhile."

Xena glanced around as she said, "What about the other two?"

 Shrugging her shoulders, Gabrielle replied, "Busy, I am sure. No more excuses, who knows what will happen after Tunis." Xena smiled as she said, "All right, I will turn over but be gentle."

 Gabrielle watched as Xena did just that. Then she leaned over and brushed the woman's hair to the right, off her neck. Softly her lips traveled Xena's neck then stopped to savor each spot. Her fingers were busily removing anything that would become an obstacle to where she meant to go. Xena's body, though full of apprehension, soon succumbed to Gabrielle's strokes of love.

part five


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