A Blue and Green Life

by Morgaine

 

 

This is ALT Fan Fiction – no offense intended - no copyright infringement intended

If you think this will be too descriptive : Don’t read it

Time frame – after the The Ring series and before "The God You Know"

No Spoilers No Violence

This time I will accept comments at morgaine139@hotmail.com


Tap Tap Tap

Startled green eyes looked into slightly humored blue eyes, "Wha …?"

"I tried three times to get your attention but you weren’t listening to me."

"So you tapped on my forehead??"

"I could "tap" something else if you’d prefer." Innuendo.

Gabrielle turned away, "I was just thinking."

"Thinking about what?", said with concern, "Things that make you turn away from me make me nervous."

"It’s nothing. Let’s keep going." Gabrielle started walking again.

They had been traveling at a fast pace, both wanting to leave their misadventures with the RING behind.

Xena caught up to the Bard and casually slipped her hand into the smaller one. Gabrielle immediately entwined their fingers which reassured Xena greatly.

Many hours later they had found a town to spend the night in. The rooms were quite spacious for a seemingly small inn and the food was delicious. Xena had kept a close watch on Gabrielle all day. She seemed so distracted.

"Gabrielle. Eat more. Now."

"I’m fine. I guess I’m just not very hungry?"

"I could feed it to you", Xena flirted and reached toward the Blonde’s plate.

Finally Gabrielle smiled.

"Ahhhh there’s my beautiful smile. Where have you been?", asked Xena.

But before the Bard could become somber again Xena pushed a bite of meat between her lips … then some warm bread … a sip of cider … more meat … some of the Warrior’s finger tips …

And before Gabrielle realized it she had cleaned her plate.

Xena was extremely relieved when Gabrielle accepted her advances and the food. Gabrielle had been under that spell for so long she seemed to have lost all interest in food. Irrationally Xena wondered if maybe Gabrielle had lost interest in her as well.

Xena got up and wandered over to the bar. She spoke briefly with the barmaid then returned to the table.

"Shall we go upstairs?" she held her hand out to Gabrielle.

They had barely closed the door when someone knocked on it.

Gabrielle opened it to find the barmaid carrying a tray full of pastries and a jug of wine.

"I thought we could have dessert up here" said Xena as she took the tray and thanked the girl.

After the door had been closed again Gabrielle said "Xena, you treat me so well."

"Why don’t we change into something more comfortable?"

They both felt relieved as they climbed out of their traveling clothes and boots and into their shifts.

They cuddled up on the bed and fed each other pastries until they were extremely full.

Xena had her arms wrapped around Gabrielle, she whispered into the girl’s ear "I know something is bothering you. Please tell me what you’re thinking."

"Oh Xena … I’m so tired … can we discuss it in the morning? I just want you to hold me now."

"I love you Gabrielle."

"I love you too."

………………………………………………………………………………….

The next morning both Xena and Gabrielle slept in. Gabrielle slowly woke up to the warm strength of her Warrior holding her.

She very slowly eased her way out of bed without waking Xena … threw on her clothes and left the room.

The tavern was only half full with people finishing up their breakfast. Gabrielle stopped at the bar and placed her order promising to return for it in a few minutes. She then wandered out into the street to see what shops were available. As she wandered she worried over what she needed to discuss with Xena.

Meanwhile back in their room Xena woke up to an empty room and panicked. She leapt from the bed and into her leathers. "Calm down … don’t panic … she is just downstairs … don’t go running down there looking like an idiot …" with that the Warrior ran from the room and careened down the stairs.

She scanned the faces … not seeing her soulmate she ran out the door … and right into Gabrielle.

"Whoa! What is happening? What’s wrong??", Gabrielle asked as she regained her balance and looked around for the danger. Seeing none she turned back toward Xena and read the whole situation in the guilty, embarrassed blue eyes.

"Xena sit down. Finish lacing up your boots. I’ll be right back."

Xena plopped down on the stoop and let her head drop into her hands, "Handled THAT well, Warrior."

She heard Gabrielle’s return and immediately started lacing her boots, "Gabrielle … I …"

"Come on. Let’s go."

"Um … where?" She belatedly noticed that the Bard was struggling with a large basket and a blanket.

"Here carry this." Gabrielle thrust the basket into Xena’s hands and started off down the street.

"Bossy bossy." Xena mumbled as she followed.

"I heard that."

As they walked out of town and up a slight hill they both took time to gather their wits and calm down.

By the time they arrived at Gabrielle’s destination both were thinking mostly rational thoughts. It was a quiet meadow overlooking a pass through the mountains that a merchant had recommended. Gabrielle spread the blanket and settled in the middle of it.

Xena set the basket down at one edge of the blanket and said, "I’m sorry Gabrielle. I woke up and you weren’t there and I … and I … wasn’t ready to be without you quite yet … and I made a fool of myself."

Slight pause.

"I still can’t believe I … I mean … when you weren’t there I was afraid …"

Gabrielle waited patiently.

"I can’t believe I forgot you. How could I do that?? How??"

"It’s OK. Xena sit down. C’mere."

All muscles tensing Xena felt like screaming or smashing something or running away or … or … or ….

"But Gabrielle … after ALL that we have survived together … how could I … just … forget??"

Xena paced. Gabrielle held very still.

Xena dropped down in front of Gabrielle, "I’m so sorry. Please forgive me. Please … don’t leave me … give me another chance … please."

Gabrielle reached forward and held Xena as she cried.

Gabrielle didn’t say anything; she just held Xena and slowly rubbed her back.

A while later they both lay in each other’s arms on the blanket.

"Xena?"

"Yeah?"

"I’m kinda hungry. Can we eat?"

"What do you have to offer?"

Gabrielle shifted without letting go of Xena and pulled the basket within reach.

"I have …" She pushed something in Xena’s mouth, "fruit." They both nibbled on that for a while.

"I have …" She pushed more in Xena’s mouth, "cheese." They both nibbled on that for a while.

"I have …" She pushed more in Xena’s mouth, "bread." They both nibbled on that for a while.

"Is that all?"

"Well … yeah … what else did you want?"

"You."

Gabrielle flinched.

"Oh gods … You ARE leaving me!!"

"Xena! Wait! We have to talk about something."

Practically despondent Xena pulled away from Gabrielle and lay on her side facing away from her love.

"Xena it’s not what you think. I don’t blame you for forgetting me. It was a god thing. It was NOT your fault. And you DID save me in the end as always."

"Then why are you leaving me???"

"I didn’t SAY I was leaving you …"

"But I feel it … I feel like I’ve lost you."

"It’s just … that … I think I want something … that you won’t … and while I love you … forever… I also NEED … I need … something … you .. can’t … give … me."

Painful silence. The Warrior lay on the blanket wrapped up in her pain and insecurities and the Bard sat terrified of a future without her soulmate.

Gabrielle whispered, "Xena we have been through so much. How many times have we come back to life? I just feel that something was taken from us. Something that I only got a glimpse of … and I want to go back and take a better look? … are you listening?"

No response.

Gabrielle continued, "I have loved you for a long time … but you were the most beautiful to me when you were holding a baby ... you had a glow ... when you said "I’m her mother." The joy in your face made me fall in love again. We didn’t get to share that. It was taken from us."

"Xena, I want to have a baby. I want to raise a family. I want to settle down. I don’t want to travel the world anymore."

Silence. Neither partner could think of anything to say. They remained apart trying to make sense of their thoughts and feelings.

"I knew this day would come. But I expected it years ago. I stopped bracing myself for your next departure a while ago." Pause. "What if I wanted to "settle down" with you??"

"But Xena … we BOTH know that you DON’T want that … I tried to force it on you once and all we did was fight … you have always said you could never stay in one spot … I will never be happy knowing that I forced you into a lifestyle you hate."

With that quiet statement Xena stood up and walked away from the Bard. She didn’t run. She just walked back toward the town.

Gabrielle’s head dropped forward in defeat. She knew this was a no win situation. If she forced Xena to settle down Xena would hate it and begin to resent Gabrielle. If she left Xena and tried to have a family she would be miserable without her soulmate. If she stayed with Xena as is she would never be truly happy. She had known this for a while but losing 25 years had forced her hand.

Gabrielle stayed in the meadow for a couple of hours. She would never harbor any bad feeling toward Xena. She would only remember their love. She needed to prepare herself for traveling and living alone. Finally she headed back to town so as not to be out in the woods after dark.

She returned the borrowed basket at the tavern and headed up the stairs. She dreaded seeing the Warrior’s belongings gone … but she couldn’t avoid that much longer.

Gabrielle entered the room and closed the door without lighting any candles … another delay tactic.

"I was about to come looking for you … I was getting worried", Xena’s voice rumbled in the darkness.

Gabrielle jumped and reached for a candle.

"No. Don’t light it." This was spoken right into her ear as arms wrapped around her and guided her to the bed.

Gabrielle was speechless. Xena sat her down and gently removed her boots.

After the boots were off Xena handed Gabrielle her sleeping shift … after a quick change she nudged Gabrielle back onto the bed and settled next to her. They lay in silence for a moment.

 

 

"The thing is … I can’t live without you. It is just that simple."

 

 

 

"Even if you tell me I can’t be a part of your life anymore … the only way I could live is to lurk around watching you from the shadows."

"And the truth is … I was all show that time at the Amazon village … I had NOTHING to back it up with … I would NEVER have left you behind … If you hadn’t relented I would have made a fool of myself begging for your forgiveness."

"We have really never discussed the 25 year sleep. I didn’t know how to. It was so … shocking. I lost my baby … I lost my mother. I can NOT lose you."

"Gabrielle … please tell me that you love me … please say we can make this work."

Gabrielle threw herself into Xena’s arms, "Please find a compromise. I don’t want to live without you either."

They held tightly to each other through the entire night.

………………………………………………………………………………….

Sunlight streaming through the window woke Xena. She rolled over and stretched out … then realized she could do that because she was alone in the bed … and alone in the room.

"Was it only a dream?? Is Gabrielle really gone?"

"Don’t panic … don’t panic … deep breath …"

Just then the door was pushed open and Gabrielle entered the room backside first. She maneuvered a giant tray laden with every breakfast food imaginable onto the table and turned around.

"Xena! You’re awake!"

"Just woke up," Xena released her death grip on the sheets.

"I wanted to surprise you with breakfast in bed. I am so hungry!"

And with that statement Xena felt her world click back into focus. Gabrielle’s appetite was in direct correspondence with her happiness.

Gabrielle set the tray on the table and quickly changed back into her shift.

"Gabrielle?"

"Yeah?"

"I was just thinking … if you want to have children … shouldn’t you get married?"

"WHAT?!!" Gabrielle turned around shocked.

"Well … you don’t want to have illegitimate children do you?"

"I … uh … I …"

"I think someone should ‘make an honest women’ out of you."

"You … wha?" Gabrielle sat down hard in the chair. Apparently she had misunderstood Xena last night.

"So … how bout it??"

Mute confusion.

"Gabrielle, will you marry me?" Xena moved to kneel before the Blonde.

Gabrielle just stared at her.

"Xena that was mean."

"I thought it was cute."

"No. It was mean."

"It will give you a good story to tell our Grandchildren."

Green eyed silence.

"Um … do I get an answer?"

"Maybe after breakfast." smirked the Bard as she reached for the tray.

"What! You can’t leave me hanging like this!!"

"Oooo try these eggs they are delicious!"

"Wow … never mess with a Bard … you’d think I would have learned THAT lesson", thought Xena as she got up off the floor.

The two partners ate most everything on the tray. They really hadn’t consumed much food since the Bard had woken up in that ring of fire. With extremely full stomachs and no pressing schedule … they both glanced toward the bed. They moved as one and climbed back into their warm nest of blankets.

"I can’t remember the last time I felt so full," said Gabrielle as she claimed her spot along the Warrior’s body.

"Me either. It really was delicious." Xena yawned and dropped her head down on Gabrielle’s.

And they both slipped off to sleep.

………………………………………………………………………………….

This time Xena managed to wake up first. "She never answered my proposal … she was sposed to be overjoyed and say "Yes!" right away … I wonder what that means?" thought Xena.

She glanced down at Gabrielle. "She is so beautiful … I’ll just have to convince her to say yes."

Very gently she stroked the Bard’s face. Then she followed with soft butterfly kisses. Next she moved to Gabrielle’s ear … "This ought to get a reaction" she thought. A soft lick followed by sucking on the earlobe caused a shiver of delight throughout Gabrielle’s body. "Yup, she’s awake now."

Gabrielle was awake. Who wouldn’t be with that kind of attention from possibly THE most attractive Warrior in all of Greece. She kept her eyes closed but could not suppress the moan caused by Xena moving down her neck.

Now that Xena knew the Bard was conscious she allowed her hands to roam all over Gabrielle’s body … mostly under the shift.

Never one to sit on the sidelines, Gabrielle’s hands began reeking havoc on Xena’s senses. She stroked up and down Xena’s legs … when Xena made contact with her breasts she made contact with the Warrior’s ass and pulled her in close.

Both hearts were racing … both sets of lungs were struggling for air … and both bodies were thrilling with electricity.

Soon they were both calling out each other’s names. "Yes Xena Yes" They exploded together and collapsed on each other.

"Yes … Xena." Panted Gabrielle.

"I’m glad you enjoyed it" mumbled Xena from Gabrielle’s cleavage.

"No … " She reached down and lifted Xena’s chin so she could make eye contact, "YES."

Xena was immediately up on all fours looking directly into Gabrielle’s face, "You mean … YES … you’ll marry me??!!!"

"Yeah … but you have to make me feel … that … again and again." Twinkled sexy eyes.

"I’ll do better!!!"

And Xena launched another attack.

………………………………………………………………………………….

After many hours and many orgasms passed Gabrielle lay on top of Xena too weak to move, "No more … I can’t take any more" she said to Xena’s feet. In response her toes were sucked on.

"Oh Gods."

………………………………………………………………………………….

The sound of rain woke Xena up the next morning. "Oh good … rain … we can’t travel in rain … we’ll have to stay here another day … maybe I can get a repeat performance out of Gabrielle!"

As Xena started to reach for Gabrielle a muffled voice said "You better be thinking that it’s YOUR turn to go find us breakfast …"

"Right! Sure. Right … breakfast … that’s what I was thinking." And Xena dragged herself out of bed.

Gabrielle heard the door close and fell back asleep.

The smell of food woke her up the next time and she opened one bleary eye. There sat the Warrior in a steaming tub smiling at her.

The other eye popped open, "How’d you get THAT in here without my hearing it?"

"Gabrielle you have slept through battles before … this was nothing … come on … you only get breakfast if you are IN the tub."

She shook the sleep out of her eyes … and jumped in the tub. They spent quite a while eating and washing. "Xena, thank you … I really needed this."

"Anything for my … wife."

"Wow … that sounds … good … I like that."

"Me too. Now … when can we make it official?"

"I would like to wait … I would like Lila, Sarah and Eve to be there … is that OK?"

"I was hoping you’d say that."

"How much money do we have left?" Xena changed the subject.

"Quite a lot." Gabrielle was quite embarrassed at the amount of money Beowulf had insisted they take with them.

"Beowulf is a good man. He knew we would need a little help. We will return it to him as soon as possible."

"Gabrielle, you looked around some of the shops … can you go buy some supplies for us? And … do you think you can find us a horse or two??"

"Shopping I can do."

"Great! Shall we plan to leave tomorrow? All of a sudden I’m in a hurry to get home. I have a new life to start."

………………………………………………………………………………….

Gabrielle was quite generous with all her purchases. She didn’t bother to haggle over prices. She felt Beowulf’s money should stay in his homeland. She was able to find two horses and directions for the quickest way home … though it would involve a boat which she was less than happy with.

She burst back into the room overloaded with packages to find Xena sitting and staring out the window.

"Is everything OK, Xena?"

"Sure, I was just trying to figure some things out. How did the shopping go?"

"I got it all and more. We are going to be traveling in style!"

As she set down her load she noticed that the Warrior looked back out the window lost in thought again.

"Xena. There is something we have to discuss … I was kind of nervous to bring it up … but it’s important."

Xena turned away from the window and focused her attention on Gabrielle. "I’m listening."

Gabrielle paced. "Well … I know you said we could find a compromise and everything … but …"

"BUT!?"

"Well, I’m just worried about … how …"

"Gabrielle … faster would be better."

The Bard dropped on to the bed. In a small voice she hurriedly said, "having children means that I have to get pregnant and getting pregnant means there has to be a man … I WILL NOT have ANY Gods or Angels involved this time … I want a plain old regular human … but I’m afraid of how you will react to that event."

Silence.

"OK … she got me with that one … I’m gonna freak out at the thought of anyone being intimate with my wife", thought Xena.

More silence.

"Come on Warrior … rise to the occasion … WE are compromising here" Xena’s mind was trying to help.

"You are right. That will be extremely difficult for me. I don’t know how we will handle it."

"Do you still want to get married?"

Xena moved from the window to the bed and wrapped her arms around the Bard "We have some things to work through. But it will be worth it in the end. Of course I want to marry you. You are my soul."

Gabrielle’s face lit up in a smile so beautiful that Xena would have promised her anything just to get another smile.

………………………………………………………………………………….

The next few days were filled with travel. They both had horses so they covered a lot of ground. They had brand new blankets and cooking utensils and lots of food so they were quite well taken care of when they camped. Xena’s mind was racing trying to figure out how to make this new life work. Gabrielle noticed the Warrior’s distraction but didn’t mention it. They traveled by land as much as possible but it was necessary to take a couple ships.

Finally they were on Greek soil again. Both felt relieved to be home and slightly nervous as to what the future held.

 

They had made camp for the night. Gabrielle was trying to write in her scrolls and Xena had mumbled something about checking the perimeter.

All of a sudden Gabrielle realized that Xena had been gone for too long, "Xena?" she called out.

No response.

Gabrielle headed out into the forest in full stealth mode to find Xena. She heard voices in the dark clearing ahead and approached ready to attack.

 

"Aphrodite! Please! Think about it. It would be good for both of us. I know you care for Gabrielle. Please help us."

"Xena so much has changed … I don’t know that I CAN do what you want anymore."

 

"What is going on here!!??" Gabrielle moved through the trees to confront Xena.

"Gabrielle!" A quick shocked look at the Goddess of Love prompted her disappearance.

"Xena! YOU called on a God?? What were you asking her for??"

"It was just Aphrodite", a weak argument Xena knew but she wasn’t prepared to explain herself quite yet.

"I knew it! You didn’t listen to me at all!" Gabrielle stormed back toward their camp.

"What? I listen to you." Xena had no choice but to follow along behind.

"Xena this isn’t going to work … is it? … you were going behind my back … you were trying to find a way to get me pregnant without me sleeping with someone else weren’t you!!

"No … I … wasn’t … Gabrielle calm down … "

"Don’t tell me to calm down … a marriage should be based on trust … obviously I can’t trust you!!"

The Bard never saw the Warrior move. She just found herself pinned against a tree with a large hand covering her mouth.

"Do NOT say another word."

They were both totally surprised to be in this position.

"Gabrielle. I swear to you that is NOT what Aphrodite and I were discussing. You said WE would have to compromise to have a relationship … a compromise goes BOTH ways … I am not the only one who has to sacrifice ... unless the word you really meant to use was ‘ultimatum’." With that she released Gabrielle and stepped to the other side of the fire and then disappeared back into the forest.

Gabrielle’s legs were no longer able to hold her up and she slid down the tree.

As soon as Xena exited the light of the campfire she began to run. Physical exercise always helped her think better and she also needed to get rid of some of this anger before she accidentally hurt Gabrielle. She really didn’t mean to push her up against that tree … she just knew she had to stop Gabrielle from saying something neither of them could take back. So she ran and considered her options.

Still sitting at the bottom of the tree Gabrielle couldn’t believe how wrong the evening had gone. Her heart ached as she finally realized how this whole situation must appear to Xena. "She’s right … I did give her an ultimatum … do it my way or I leave you …but that’s not what I MEANT to do … how do I fix this?"

A while later Xena approached the camp. She didn’t want to scare Gabrielle so she made noise as she moved through the trees. She entered the camp to find Gabrielle sitting calmly waiting for her.

Gabrielle said nothing … she figured it was only right to let Xena have the first say.

Xena understood but wasn’t really sure how to start.

"Xena, we can fix this … go ahead tell me how you feel … I am listening and I won’t interrupt til you are done."

Well this made Xena extremely nervous … obviously the Bard was nowhere near as upset by their fight as she was. She sat down on the opposite side of the fire.

"Okay … First I’m sorry that I slammed you up against the tree … I had no right getting physical with you."

"Second I am painfully aware that I have done little to win your trust … every time I have it … I leave you behind or go against your wishes ‘for your own good’."

"Third … <long pause> … third … I love you … but I don’t think I can be a part of a one-sided relationship … I would be better off lurking in those shadows."

Gabrielle showed no reaction to any of Xena’s words she just listened intently.

"It’s your turn."

"Are you sure? You certainly have every right to say a lot more than that."

"I don’t want to argue."

"I don’t want to argue either … but I do want to hear what you are thinking … it’s the only way we can come to that compromise."

Xena felt a little bit of relief at those words but didn’t feel petty complaints would be productive, "I’m ready to listen."

"Okay … I’ll start by responding to you …"

"First … you didn’t hurt me at all … and I was getting a little hysterical."

"Second … I agree trust is a weak spot … but I think we can work on it."

"Third … most importantly … I love you … I DID give you an ultimatum … but I didn’t mean to … I want an equal partnership."

"Oh Xena … I was so scared that you would just send me away when I told you what I wanted. But you didn’t. You were strong and supportive. I am taking my fears and insecurities and projecting them onto you. But I have a possible solution … if you’re still interested?"

"What do you have in mind?"

"Will you come a little closer so we can discuss it?"

"Of course …"

"Now I know you laugh at me because I like to write everything down … but … I thought maybe we could negotiate a … marriage contract?"

Blue eyes blinked.

"I just thought it would allow us to discuss some basic issues hypothetically and that way we wouldn’t have to hurt each other’s feelings?? … then in the future if someone gets out of line we can just remember the contract and work it out ?? … and …", she was losing confidence in her idea, " This way it would truly be a compromise because it would be right there in writing we could make sure it was equal … you don’t like the idea do you? … that’s OK … we don’t have to do it …"

Xena leaned past Gabrielle and picked up the quill and a fresh scroll.

She wrote at the top of the scroll "Marriage Contract"

She continued writing and Gabrielle resisted the impulse to read over her shoulder. When Xena finished she passed the scroll to Gabrielle.

"Item one : Xena will love Gabrielle forever and never intentionally cause her emotional or physical harm."

Gabrielle smiled took the quill and wrote her own line adding to item one : "Gabrielle will love Xena forever and never intentionally cause her emotional or physical harm."

"If we agree on Item One I think we should seal it", she leaned forward and kissed Gabrielle. As she pulled back she noticed the tear rolling down the Bard’s cheek and kissed that away, "No tears, we have some business to attend to."

"Item Two?"

"Item Two."

"Trust … it should be a promise to trust each other … and keep NO secrets", said Gabrielle.

Hesitation. "Absolutely NO secrets??", asked Xena.

"Well if there are no secrets there will be no reason not to trust each other", theorized Gabrielle.

"But some secrets are good … I know a certain Bard who gets all excited over Solstice gifts … and surprise picnics and that sort of thing.

"Oooo good point! Then how do we word this?"

And they were off. As the night progressed they discussed and debated many issues. There were some tears but more laughter as they felt their relationship take the spotlight. They ended up practically sitting in each other’s laps and sometimes wrestling over the quill and who would write next. Each item was sealed with a kiss. As the sun rose they discovered they had never felt closer to each other than they did at that moment.

"When shall we sign this? And … should we show it to our family or keep it private between us?"

"I think we should sign it just before we get married. But … I don’t think anyone should see it but us … I mean it is our promise to each other … it isn’t anyone else’s business."

"Xena … <yawn> … can you believe we stayed up all night?! … I think I need a nap."

"Wait! One more thing … Gabrielle I don’t want to tell you what I was doing with Aphrodite right now … but I do promise that you will know … no matter the outcome … by the time we are married … hopefully this will be a good secret?"

"Xena, I really am going to work at trusting you more … maybe we could arrange a signal … so I can know that you just need a minute or two to yourself … then my imagination won’t carry me away??"

"Right now … what I need … is my pillow, blanket and favorite Bard."

"That better be me Warrior."

"Always."

………………………………………………………………………………….

The next day found a very happy couple traveling the last leg of their journey. "Xena how much further? I think I’m starting to recognize things."

"Well, if we really push it we can be in Potedia late this evening."

"I think I’d rather camp out one more night … just the two of us … after that we will be busy making plans."

"I have PLANS for you all right … I want to enact Item Twenty Three."

"Twenty Three? There was no item Twenty Three."

"Sure there is. Remember? It stated that YOU would be MY love slave at least twice a month!"

And with a devilish smile and wink the Warrior kicked her horse and galloped off.

"Didn’t see THAT one coming … but it’s not the worst idea she’s ever had", thought Gabrielle as she prompted her horse to pick up the chase.

………………………………………………………………………………….

Lila and Sarah had spent the year reacquainting themselves. They had made room for Eve who traveled around preaching Eli’s message. Virgil passed through quite often making sure the women were safe and helping them with repairs. They were all concerned about Xena and Gabrielle’s disappearance but felt quite sure they would turn up soon. Potedia was doing quite well and even Amphipolis was starting to be prosperous again.

The return of her daughter had restored Lila’s spirit and she was quite happy. Sarah in turn was happy because of the attention she was receiving from one of the local farmers. In fact Sarah had taken a picnic lunch out to Zachary and they were enjoying it in one of his fields when they saw the two horses come over the hill.

"Who is that?", asked Zachary.

"It almost looks like Gabrielle and Xena", said Sarah distractedly.

She looked again and jumped up, "It IS them!! They have come home! I’m sorry I have to go … I have to tell Mother. Come tonight for dinner and meet them?" She kissed him quick and ran for home.

………………………………………………………………………………….

Gabrielle felt a warmth inside as she recognize her hometown. While it hadn’t felt like it to her it HAD been a whole year since she had been here. She was quite anxious to find out how Lila and Sarah were doing. She spurred her horse faster. As they approached her homestead they saw both Lila and Sarah waving at them from the gate.

Gabrielle jumped down from the horse and hugged Lila tightly, "I’ve missed you!"

Xena arrived a bit more stately. She greeted Sarah, "How have you adjusted to life in a small town?"

"I love it! I can’t thank you enough for bringing me home."

"Glad to hear it. Lila, you are looking well."

"You too Xena", she hugged the Warrior, "even though you kept my sister away for so long."

"Let us get settled and cleaned up … then I have an EPIC tale to tell you after dinner!", said Gabrielle.

 

Since Eve was away at the moment Xena and Gabrielle took her room. They all gathered in the kitchen and helped make dinner as they chatted away. Of course Xena was not much of a "chatter" so she stayed off to the side performing whatever tasks Gabrielle set in front of her. Soon Zachary arrived and after quick introductions they sat down to dinner.

Finally there was a slight lull in the conversation and after a subtle glance at Xena, Gabrielle said "We have an announcement to make."

All eyes turned her way.

"Xena has asked me to marry her. And I said yes. We would like you all to be there."

Silence.

"That’s GREAT!" said Sarah.

"Congratulations" said Zachary

Silence.

Gabrielle looked hopefully toward her sister.

"You two have always belonged together. It’s about time you made it legal." The two sisters locked eyes and smiled.

"Thank you all", said Xena "family support is very important to us."

"We get to plan a wedding!!" said Lila

"Uh oh", thought Xena.

………………………………………………………………………………….

The next morning Xena was up early. She had already been in town sending messages out trying to call Eve home. Now she was pacing … trying to figure out how to follow through with her plan without upsetting Gabrielle again.

As she passed through the barn for the third time a body leapt out from a dark corner and pinned her to the wall. Her captor grabbed a couple handfuls of breast and whispered in her ear "Warrior I want you and I’m going to take you."

"Aren’t you engaged to be married?"

"Yes, but my intended left my bed this morning before satisfying me."

"Well, if your fiancee isn’t going to take better care of you … I certainly will … but can we take this up to loft?"

No answer … but she was pushed in the direction of the ladder … as she climbed her assailant took the opportunity to thoroughly examine her ass and legs … she reached the top and turned around only to be knocked off her feet by one incredibly HOT Bard. Gabrielle definitely took the lead and anything else she wanted from Xena. By the time she was sated Xena could barely remember her own name.

"Wow." She whispered as her voice was quite hoarse now, "You sure you want to get married?"

"Yeah … but you and I can still meet on the side like this … my wife doesn’t need to know."

………………………………………………………………………………….

Xena watched from the barn as one very smug Bard walked back to the house. "She’s gonna kill me. I’m not sure I can keep up with THAT very often. But … WOW!"

The door opened and Lila came out as Gabrielle was going in. She headed toward the barn. Suddenly Xena found the solution to her problem.

"Lila, can I talk to you for a moment?"

"Sure … but from the look on my sister’s face … you better sit down and conserve your energy", this was said with a familiar smirk.

Xena dropped down on a bale of hay, "You’ve definitely got that right."

"What can I help you with?"

"Well, I’m sure Gabrielle has told you that she and I have been struggling in our relationship. Insecurities and misunderstandings keep getting in our way. I want to TRY to do something for Gabrielle … I would like to surprise her with it … if it works … but I don’t want her to think I’m doing something underhanded or going behind her back."

"Where do I fit in to this?" asked Lila.

"Well, I thought if I told YOU my plan … you would know that I wasn’t doing anything that Gabrielle wouldn’t approve of … and you could keep the secret … but reassure Gabrielle."

"So you would tell her that you had a secret … but that I had approved it??"

"Yes. I don’t want to put you in the middle. I just need someone that Gabrielle can trust."

Lila thought for a moment then sat down on the hay "Okay I promise that I will keep your secret as long as it won’t hurt Gabrielle."

Xena smiled, "I was actually hoping it could be my wedding present to her."

And the two soon-to-be sisters sat and talked for quite a while.

………………………………………………………………………………….

Gabrielle was in the kitchen enjoying breakfast with Sarah and hearing all about Zachary when Xena and Lila walked in.

"Gabrielle, I need go take care of some business … I need to check in with Aphrodite again … I may be gone for a day … no more than two."

Gabrielle stiffened.

"It’s OK, Gabrielle, Xena told me what she has in mind and I think it is terrific. Let her go. It will be fine." Said Lila.

That surprised Gabrielle. "YOU know what she is doing?"

"Yes. And you can trust her."

Gabrielle got up and whispered in Xena’s ear, "Okay … Item One … Hurry back."

Xena smiled at Gabrielle, "Item one."

………………………………………………………………………………….

It was two days before Xena returned but it coincided with Eve’s return. Eve got the news of the impending nuptials from an excited Sarah. Unfortunately, having only known Xena and Gabrielle for a very short time, she was quite shocked by the news.

"Eve!" cried Xena as she rode into the yard and jumped off her horse.

But Eve stepped away, "You are MARRYING Gabrielle??!"

Xena stopped but her blue eyes couldn’t conceal her hurt, "Yes, I was hoping you would be happy for us."

"I don’t know what to think. I didn’t know …"

"Eve, Eli’s way was that of love. I love Gabrielle. This is a good thing. I was hoping you would stand with me during the ceremony."

"I’ll have to think about it", and Eve retreated into the house.

Xena followed. She entered the house … threw a pained look at Gabrielle and retired to their room. Within a heartbeat Gabrielle was there with her arms around Xena, "What wrong? What happened?"

Xena leaned into the embrace, "Eve doesn’t support our marriage."

"Yes. I know. Do you want to postpone it?"

"NO!! … I want her blessing … but I NEED you … and I NEED our relationship … besides … I need to marry you before you start having affairs with whatever farmhand you meet in the barn."

Gabrielle smiled at Xena and held her tightly, "I missed you."

………………………………………………………………………………….

Another week passed quickly filled with planning. Sarah had been put in charge of Xena. Since the bride’s were not supposed to see each other the day of the wedding it was Sarah’s job to get Xena to the right place at the right time. The Warrior was basically a nervous wreck so Sarah had her hands full. But they managed to enter the church at the appointed time.

Sarah pushed Xena down the aisle. The Warrior made it to the altar then turned to look for Gabrielle. Instead she found Eve … standing at her side … "Eve? What changed your mind?"

"Have YOU ever won an argument with a Bard??", it was said with a smile.

"I’m glad you’re here."

"So am I."

Then Gabrielle appeared. She was Gorgeous … no … Beautiful … no … Stunning … no … Magnificent … Xena’s mind went on standby and she just stared.

The ceremony was over quickly and they headed out to the tavern where a brief reception was held. Xena kept glancing down at the beautiful ring her love had presented her. It was a quill turning into a sword as it wrapped around her finger. And the Bard … no … her WIFE wore a matching ring. They spent an hour or two at the reception and then with great relief the Warrior whistled for her horse, claimed her bride and rode out of town.

Gabrielle was content to hold Xena as they rode … her normally inquisitive mind silent.

Xena stopped the horse and helped her wife down in a meadow facing a sharp rock wall cut in the side of a mountain.

"Gabrielle, this is my gift to you, with Aphrodite’s help."

Gabrielle looked around, "Xena , I don’t see anything but the side of a mountain."

"Exactly!"

"Xena, I don’t understand."

At that Xena grabbed Gabrielle’s hand and walked them right toward the rock. She didn’t slow her pace as she approached.

"Xena!"

"Gabrielle, trust me."

And in the blink of an eye they walked right through the rock face.

"Gabrielle it’s OK … open your eyes."

She did as she was instructed to see a beautiful valley with a river fed from a waterfall running through it laid out before her. Along one side there were a couple of small buildings and a fenced in area.

"Xena! Did we just walk through the mountain??"

"No. It was just an illusion. No one can come here but us. It is our home. It is our safe haven."

The Bard was speechless.

"We will be close to our families but safe from our enemies. The illusion is courtesy of Aphrodite. She will also live here with us. She has lost most of her family and I have asked her to become a part of ours."

The Bard was speechless.

"I have a couple of job options. I have spoken with the town leaders in Potedia and two other villages close by and they would like me to be a defense consultant … helping them organize and coming to fight when there is trouble. As you can see there are two barns and I would like to try raising and training horses."

The Bard was speechless.

Xena looked expectantly at Gabrielle. She couldn’t think of anything else to say. She had hit all the highlights and Gabrielle didn’t comment on any of it.

"Gabrielle?"

"Who are you and what have you done with my warrior?"

"Gabrielle? Do you like it?"

"I … I … don’t know where to start?"

Gabrielle turned around a saw the same rock face they had just passed through. "It looks the same from the inside? How do we get out?" "Those building are both barns? Where do we live? Where does Aphrodite live?"

Xena stopped the questions with a kiss. "But do you like it?"

"I love you. I love that you planned all this out. I love our new home … you better start explaining how all this works."

"Okay … first … no one can walk through that rock wall unless you, Aphrodite or I bring them through. Same from the inside."

"Both buildings are barns that I would like to turn into stables. You can’t see the living quarters from here. This is one of those places I had when I was a Warlord I thought it was time to put it to better use. Let me get the horse and we will go down and explore."

Gabrielle was still in shock. She couldn’t believe this amazing area was her new home. And that it was magically sealed to protect them. She hadn’t noticed Xena exiting and then returning with the horse.

"Come on Wife, let’s get closer."

They hopped up on the horse and galloped across the valley.

"Um … Xena? … Is Aphrodite here now?"

"No … I thought we might prefer a little privacy … for our honeymoon … and she is the Goddess of Love after all … she certainly understood … she’ll come in a couple of weeks."

"So we are all alone?"

"Yes my love."

"Good." They both slid off the horse. "Will you do something for me?"

"Sure … anything."

"Sit … on … my … face."

Xena turned around in surprise … to find a mostly naked Bard eyeing her lustily.

"Shouldn’t we … go … shouldn’t … um …" That was the last attempt at coherent thought Xena made for quite a while.

………………………………………………………………………………….

Xena still couldn’t move. The Bard had wrung every ounce of strength out of her body. Xena felt VERY well loved. She was laying on her back with her wife passed out on top of her. She looked up at the beautiful blue sky and realized she had never been happier. Everything had worked out so well and Gabrielle hadn’t even seen their actual home yet. Maybe she would get a similar reward for that. Her libido smirked but her body groaned.

After a quick nap both newlyweds regained control. Xena started to reach for her clothes but Gabrielle stopped her. "It’s really just a waste of time for you to put those back on."

"Then I had better hurry and finish the tour."

"Where did we leave off? … oh yeah … two barns … is our house invisible or something?"

"No, the only magic is gaining entrance to this valley."

"OK … where do I live?"

"Follow me." Xena led her love toward the mountain. As they approached a cave entrance became visible.

"I live in a cave?"

"Yes. You do. But remember I said I created this as a Warlord. It has all the amenities you could ever want."

"Such as?"

"There are many different rooms … and YOU will have to decide what each is used for … the bedroom is already set up … but you can change anything else … we will need a dinning area … nursery … storage … guest rooms … Aphrodite has rooms down the first tunnel to the right … there are 3 rooms down there and she will have all the privacy she needs."

"I get to decorate and design everything??"

"Of course. I wasn’t gonna do it. The only things you really can’t change are the bathing chamber and OUR bedroom."

They walked through the mouth of the cave down a narrow passage into large chamber. "This should be a perfect common room."

"Xena?"

"Yeah?"

"Do we have any food?"

"Of course! I wouldn’t let my brand new wife starve."

"Then the rest of the tour is gonna hafta wait. I need to feed you. You are going to need to keep your strength up. Then you need to show me the bedroom."

Xena felt her knees go weak, "Gabrielle, try not to kill me the first day of our new life together."

" Sorry … Can’t promise that … It’s not MY fault you are irresistible!"

………………………………………………………………………………….

Xena and Gabrielle had a wonderful honeymoon. They christened just about every inch of their new home. Until one day a little more than two weeks later Aphrodite showed up.

"Heeellllloooo?" Aphrodite called out as she entered the common room.

"Aphrodite it’s so good to see you. I’m sure you have a lot to catch up with Gabrielle. I’ll see you both later.", and Xena practically ran out the door.

Bemused Aphrodite watched Xena jog to the barn, saddle up the horse and ride off.

"Gabrielle … have you been tormenting the Warrior?"

"OH YEAH!!"

"Good! That’s just what the Goddess of Love likes to hear!"

"I was just about to make some tea … do you DO tea??"

"Well, I never did before … but this Goddess thing has changed a lot since the Twilight … I’ll try it."

They both sat comfortably drinking tea in the common room.

"Aphrodite, I owe you an apology. I was upset and confused the night I found Xena with you. I’m sorry I reacted the way I did."

"That’s OK. I understand."

"So exactly how did the Twighlight effect you?"

"I lost a lot of my powers. But people always need to believe in LOVE. I am not really a Goddess anymore. I really need to conserve energy now. I can "save" up power. But all my whims are no longer an option … oh well … it was fun while it lasted." Aphrodite’s face sobered.

"So you still have power but you have to decide what to use it on? And you are using it for OUR benefit??"

"Gabrielle, you are one of the few mortals who treated me like a person. More importantly … we are friends."

"Yes. We are."

"When Xena called me, I was still hurt and mad at the loss of my family. But after a little thought I realized this was an opportunity to belong to a new family. I don’t like being alone. "

"I’m glad you are here."

Gabrielle and Aphrodite talked all afternoon long getting reacquainted and discussing the future.

"Well, I have some moving in to do. I enjoyed our chat." said Aphrodite as she moved toward her quarters.

"Will you be joining us for dinner? I made bread this morning and there is stew simmering right now", said Gabrielle.

Aphrodite stopped short. She didn’t really know how to respond. No one had ever invited her to dinner before.

"Yes. I’d like that. I’ll probably have to actually eat more often now … and … maybe you could teach me how to cook?"

"I’d love to! That would be fun. See you in a couple hours."

Gabrielle went down the passage to her bedroom. Both she and Aphrodite had sensed Xena’s return. Now that the "honeymoon" was apparently over Gabrielle wasn’t quite sure what to expect.

Dark shadows shifted and Xena appeared.

"Xena, you don’t have to sneak into your own bedroom. You can walk down the corridor without hiding in the shadows."

"Yeah … but you know I like to ‘stalk’ my prey before I go in for the kill."

"I’m you prey??"

"Well … if you’re not interested in the role I could always go hunting down Aphrodite’s hallway."

"Get over here."

"Yes Ma’am."

"Did you have a nice ride?"

"It was great! I took the horse out for a long run. We both needed it. Then I did some drills. Then a little hunting."

"And now?"

"And now I need to do a little cuddling.", said Xena to Gabrielle’s surprise.

"Yeah??"

"JUST cuddling. We are sposed to have dinner with Aphrodite soon right?"

"It’s not nice to eavesdrop."

"I was ‘stalking’."

Xena moved toward Gabrielle … grabbed her … spun her around … and deposited them both on the bed so that Gabrielle was on the bottom.

"Ooooo I like this", said Gabrielle.

"Me too", Xena kissed Gabrielle …a long … slow … kiss … followed by a long slow kiss … after which Xena sucked on Gabrielle’s bottom lip … then looked deeply into green eyes.

"I love you."

"Wow!", Gabrielle said dreamily.

Xena filled the next hour with more kisses, loving gazes and whispers of love.

Aphrodite wandered into the kitchen to find Xena setting the table and putting the food out while a dreamy Bard just stared lovingly at her.

"Newlyweds."

………………………………………………………………………………….

A month passed with everyone getting used to the new living arrangements. Lila had visited a few times. Xena had brought in some more horses. Gabrielle had created a home in the caves. Aphrodite was learning how to "live". And Xena and Gabrielle were still madly in love.

One night after dinner Xena and Aphrodite had engaged in a lively debate. Gabrielle had wandered outside to avoid taking sides. She walked along gazing at the stars and letting her mind wander. She realized it was time to discuss having children again with Xena. There were so many details to figure out.

She began to worry anew at how Xena would react to the necessary sperm donor. She was also quite scared about being pregnant and giving birth. She was well aware that the last time had been extremely far from the norm. There were so many things to worry about and be scared by.

Suddenly Xena was there, "What’s wrong?! You’re upset! I can feel it."

"I … was just thinking … I’m OK."

"Thinking about what?"

Gabrielle wrapped herself up in Xena’s arms, "I was thinking about having a baby."

"Oh", Xena held her wife tightly. "What were you thinking?"

"Worrying whether I’d be a good mother … worrying about giving birth … worrying about … getting … pregnant."

"Oh, Gabrielle you will be the BEST mother … and I will be there when you give birth it will be fine … um … as for the other … can we discuss it in the morning? … It is a serious topic and I don’t want to discuss it at the end of the day when we are both tired."

"How bout if I make us a picnic lunch. We can ride up to the waterfall. We can discuss these issues then?"

"Sounds good. As for now …. take me to bed."

………………………………………………………………………………….

The next morning Xena was up early. She wanted to get some chores done quickly so that she would be ready for lunch with Gabrielle. And truth be told she needed to get her thoughts in order as well. She worked in the stables for a couple of hours tending to the horses. She had been taking one each day on a good long ride. She selected a large black stallion for this mornings run. He was new and still a bit wild but he was starting to yield to Xena.

Aphrodite had spent a lot of time trying to figure out how she could make herself useful. Gabrielle had started to teach her to cook and that gave her an appreciation for vegetables and herbs. She decided to try planting a garden. There were many herbs that they needed for cooking and for healing. Her first attempts were not all that successful. Imagine the Goddess of Love digging in the dirt!! But then she realized THAT was how she was approaching it. She was no longer a GODDESS and if she didn’t change her mindset fitting into a new family was going to be tough.

So Aphrodite was also up early that morning. She was quite determined to be successful with her garden. She saw Xena ride off on the giant black horse and waved to her.

Gabrielle had put together an intriguing lunch. She made all the Warrior’s favorites … right down to those dumplings with the red stuff in the middle. She was extremely worried about their impending discussion. But kept reminding herself of their marriage contract. Being open and honest was the most important thing. Still she was very nervous. She had known for a while who she wanted to ask to be the ‘father’ … but she wasn’t at all sure of Xena’s response.

After she had everything all set she stepped outside to look for Xena. After wandering through the barns she passed by the garden.

"Aphrodite, have you seen Xena?"

"I saw her leave to exercise the horse but I never saw her come back."

"We are supposed to have lunch and discuss having a family."

"Wow that’s a BIG conversation."

"Yeah … I wonder where she is?"

"Well since you are here … could you give me a hand for a moment?"

So Gabrielle settled in with Aphrodite in the garden. She was quite impressed the Goddess’ progress and wanted to help and encourage her all she could.

They both were so intent on their project that neither realized how much time had passed until Gabrielle’s stomach growled. "I am so hungry … it is WAY past lunchtime! … why didn’t Xena come back??"

………………………………………………………………………………….

After Xena and the Black had passed through the stone illusion she let him have free reign. He needed to run out some of his energy before he would properly respond to her. She let her mind wander to the subject at hand. How to get Gabrielle pregnant? The concept of anyone else being with the Bard made her nauseous. Should it be a stranger in a tavern? Or someone they know? Should she send Gabrielle off on her own with a man? Or stay with her?

Stay with her?! Now the concept of a threesome entered her mind. She NEVER thought of her love in any tawdry sexual situation. But … was THAT the answer??

Suddenly Xena found herself being thrown from the horse. She flew through the air and straight into a tree.

………………………………………………………………………………….

Gabrielle was pacing through the common room getting angrier and angrier while Aphrodite did her best to diffuse the situation.

"She intentionally did this! She is avoiding me! I can’t believe it."

"Gabrielle calm down. Xena wouldn’t do that. Not anymore. She has really changed. Maybe you just haven’t noticed."

The angry Bard stopped and turned, "No, I have noticed … you are right." She remembered their contract. "Well the only other answer… is … that … she was unable to come home!!"

And with that Gabrielle flew out the door and toward the stable.

"Gabrielle where are you going??"

"I have to find her! What if she needs help?"

"I’m coming too."

They both selected already trained horses and headed out of the valley.

………………………………………………………………………………….

Xena had woken up to a splitting headache and a pain in her ribs. She moved slowly trying to figure out what had happened. The large black horse lay on the ground a couple feet from her. He was badly injured. Apparently he had run right into a sinkhole and broken two legs as he fell. If Xena had been paying attention she would have seen it in time to save them both.

"I am so sorry boy. This is all my fault. I got distracted. Warriors can’t afford to get distracted. I am so sorry."

………………………………………………………………………………….

As Gabrielle and Aphrodite cleared the stone illusion they both wondered which way to start their search.

"Do you have any idea where she exercises the horses??"

"No. I never asked her" replied Gabrielle.

The Bard paused and closed her eyes. She tried to "feel" Xena. Somehow she just knew her wife had headed south down the hill.

"Let’s try this way."

It was getting quite dark and riding quickly was really not safe. Gabrielle was getting extremely upset the farther they traveled.

"We must have gone the wrong way. Though we could ride right past her in this darkness. What are we going to do??"

"Hang on Gabrielle. Trust you instincts. We will find her."

They continued on calling out Xena’s name.

Suddenly Aphrodite pulled up her horse and said "Shhhh … what was that??" She took a deep breath and concentrated. A pink flare-like explosion lit up the night and they were able to see the Warrior lying on the ground tapping her sword against the tree trying to get their attention.

"XENA!!"

Gabrielle rushed to Xena and pulled her into her arms. Her wife was covered in blood. "Where are you hurt!!?"

"Blood … not … mine" Xena panted. "Head … and ribs … been walking … couldn’t go … any … farther."

"I’m here now. I’ll get you home." Gabrielle turned to ask Aphrodite for help only to find the Goddess sitting on the ground.

"Aphrodite? Are you OK?"

"Fine … fine … just need a moment to catch my breath … always happens when I use up what little power I have left."

Gabrielle turned back to Xena, "Do you have any injuries I need to take care of before we move you?"

"No … just … too … tired to … walk … anymore … sorry."

"Shhhh …save your breath … we will get you home and cleaned up."

After a couple moments passed Aphrodite regained her strength and they both struggled to lift the Warrior onto a horse. Not wanting to jar any of Xena’s injuries they walked the horses back home.

They moved Xena into the bathing chamber and together removed her leathers. They put her in the shallow end of the hot spring and cleaned the blood and dirt off her.

Xena opened her eyes as they put her to bed "I’m sorry … it was … my fault."

Aphrodite looked at Gabrielle "If you need anything else just yell. I’ll leave you two alone."

"What was your fault?"

"I was … not paying … attention … horse stumbled"

"What happened to the horse Xena?"

"He was … hurt too badly … had to …"

"Is that where the blood came from?"

"Didn’t … have the … strength … to do it … right … poor horse"

"You did the best you could. Everything will be OK. You are home now."

"Home" and Xena passed out.

………………………………………………………………………………….

Late the next morning Xena jerked awake then grunted in pain.

"Easy … take it easy" Gabrielle was right there to support the Warrior and soothe her.

"Hi."

"Hi. How do you feel?"

"I’ll be … fine … need to … wrap ribs … hurts … to breathe."

"Okay. I have the things we need right here. But I thought maybe I could convince you to eat some breakfast first."

"Anything … for … you."

"Correct answer!" And Xena was rewarded with a gentle kiss.

They spent the morning having breakfast then wrapping the Warrior’s midsection tightly. After another nap Xena woke up again. She could breathe a little better which made talking easier.

"Gabrielle, I’m sorry. I messed up. I missed lunch. It was important. And I missed it."

"Xena … you had an accident."

"I let my focus slip. I should have been paying attention."

"What were you thinking of?"

"You. Always you."

"Then … you are forgiven." This was said with a dazzling smile that made Xena forget what she was saying.

"Can you eat some stew?"

"Depends on what’s in it."

"Rabbit."

"No drugs. I am fine I don’t want anything."

Gabrielle sat back and gave the Warrior a stern look causing Xena to cringe, "First of all I have played your nursemaid for long enough to know better than to give someone with a head injury any drugs … second … I know YOU well enough to know you are too stubborn to take anything to ease the pain … and third of all … if I want you to take something I will just TELL you to … and YOU WILL … understand??"

"I’m sorr…" A spoonful of stew landed in her open mouth.

Gabrielle didn’t need her apology, "If I was gonna give you any special herbs it would not be pain killers … <another spoonful>… have you paid any attention to what Aphrodite is growing out there?? …<another spoonful> … something she says she invented …<another spoonful>… she’s gonna name them after herself … a love potion that’s sposed to … increase sexual desire and pleasure … <another spoonful> … so if you are going to worry about me slipping anything to you in your soup … that’s the thing to be concerned about."

Xena’s eyes were wide as saucers. Gabrielle thrust the bowl with the remaining stew into her hands, "Finish eating and don’t even THINK about getting out of that bed for another couple hours. REST."

"Yes Ma’am", was weakly said to her back as she left the room chuckling to herself.

Gabrielle wandered into the common room where Aphrodite was working on some new clothes.

"How is Tall Dark and Deadly doing?"

Gabrielle laughed, "You know that love potion you were telling me about the other day? Well, I told Xena that you were actually growing the herbs."

"You didn’t!!" Aphrodite laughed.

"I had to distract her somehow … and it just came out … besides … it got her to behave."

"Wow! Never mess with a Bard."

………………………………………………………………………………….

Later that afternoon Gabrielle was alone in the common room working on a scroll when she noticed a very meek Xena slowly walking down the hall.

"I want to go outside and get some air."

"How do you feel?"

"Fine! I’m fine."

"Do you need help?"

"No! I can do it myself."

"Aphrodite is out there working in the garden. If I come out there she better know where you are."

"Sure … sure … I won’t go far … I promise."

………………………………………………………………………………….

Xena took as deep a breath as she could. One day stuck inside and she was going nuts. She was actually quite surprised she got past her wife. She glanced around and noticed Aphrodite sitting and staring off into the distance.

Xena sat down next to the Goddess, "Hey Dite. What are you doing?"

"Hey Warrior. I was just thinking."

"Is everything all right you look kinda depressed?"

"I’m not very good at being human."

"None of us are. I think you’re doing great."

This came as a surprise and Aphrodite turned to look at Xena, "You do??"

"Yes. I really do. You have totally changed from a self-centered individual to a caring, giving member of our family. Thanks for finding me last night … there was no way I could yell to get your attention … if you hadn’t made that light … it would have been a very cold night for me."

"Your welcome. Everything is so hard. I used to just snap my fingers and now I have to actually DO things."

"Yeah. But NOW you can take pride in your accomplishments because you know that you have EARNED them."

"I suppose."

"Don’t give up, Dite, keep trying it’s worth it."

"Thanks. So what happened yesterday?? Horses do NOT throw the Warrior Princess."

"I got distracted."

"By what??"

Xena couldn’t help the blush working it’s way up her face, "I … um … well …"

"Come on … just say it … if you run it past me maybe it will be easier to tell Gabrielle."

"I was worrying about her getting pregnant. When I was a Warlord, I used many people in many sexually immoral ways. But … I do NOT think of Gabrielle that way. I do not WANT that with her. But … it occurred to me that one option … might be … a threesome."

"Yup. That imagery would be distracting."

"But I don’t think I could ever do that. Our relationship is … well it’s sacred to me … and I will not cheapen it with any sex act."

Two small hands gently squeezed Xena’s shoulders from behind, "It’s dinnertime" Gabrielle said softly.

Xena’s entire body stiffened in shock realizing the Bard had overheard everything. She gasped in pain as her ribs objected to the strain.

Aphrodite looked just as surprised and glanced apologetically at Xena.

"Come on you two. Food’s getting cold." Gabrielle went back inside.

Xena felt like she could never look Gabrielle in the eye again.

"Come on Warrior. What you just said was very sweet."

"Sweet!! I was talking about! … I said!… " Xena was in a full blown panic.

Aphrodite grabbed Xena "You said you loved her too much to treat her in any demeaning way. Trust me you didn’t say anything wrong. You said all the right things. Let’s go."

Aphrodite practically dragged the Warrior into the kitchen and pushed her into her chair. "Anything I can help with?" she asked.

Gabrielle had begun to worry that Xena wasn’t coming in for dinner. She felt guilty for listening in on a private conversation but she really hadn’t meant to.

"No everything is set just sit down." And she took her seat as well.

They passed the food around and filled their plates … more for something to do than out of hunger.

"I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to listen to your conversation. I think it’s great that we all feel comfortable enough to confide in each other. But we should all have privacy when we need it. I will try to keep that in mind and announce my presence better." Gabrielle hoped this would clear the air and everyone would relax.

"That’s fine. I don’t think we need to have any secrets from each other. I mean … we ARE a family aren’t we??" Aphrodite commented.

Xena’s head popped up at that. No secrets. Family. "Yeah … we are." She glanced shyly at Gabrielle to see her beautiful smile.

They filled the rest of the meal with idle conversation then all helped clean up.

Gabrielle pulled out bottle of port. "Okay … I say we resume the conversation you two were having … I say we all cuddle up in the common room … share this port … and figure out how to handle our problem."

Two sets of surprised eyes staring at her was her only response.

"It’s good port. Grab a mug and let’s go." Gabrielle grabbed her mug and the port and led the way. The common room had many blankets and furs in front of the fireplace that was built into the cave wall. The Bard pulled a bunch of blankets into a nest and settled in looking up at the other two expectantly.

Neither Xena or Aphrodite had any idea how to handle this situation.

"Xena. We have put it off too long. We just need to talk it through. Open this bottle for me."

"Aphrodite. You just finished saying we were a family and besides the Goddess of Love ought to have some good suggestions on this topic. Sit down."

"Wow", mumbled Aphrodite to Xena "She’s bossy."

"Don’t I know it."

"I heard that." said Gabrielle with a smile.

Once they were all comfortably ensconced in front of the fire sipping their drinks Gabrielle started again.

"OK. I want children. I want to raise children with Xena. I think Aphrodite would make a wonderful Aunt, as will Lila. I am not interested in a father being part of the scenery but if it is the only way I can work with it."

"No offense, but Gabrielle you could get any man you wanted. A one night stand with a stranger would not be hard to come by" said Aphrodite.

"But would it be safe?" asked an uncomfortable Xena.

"That would be a problem." agreed Aphrodite.

Gabrielle took a big sip of port, "I … um … thought maybe we could ask … Virgil."

Xena took a bigger sip of port then refilled her mug.

The Goddess could feel the tension and knew they needed to keep talking, "It would certainly be safer with someone you trust. What do you think Xena?"

"I can’t stand the thought of anyone …"

"That’s fair" said Aphrodite "But do you have any specific objections to asking Virgil?"

Xena’s head dropped "I guess I would wonder … I mean the two of you DID put on quite a show when we were battling Lucifer … and I would worry that …Gods this is hard."

"You are worried that Gabrielle is attracted to Virgil and might have feelings for him." clarified Aphrodite. "But Xena, it won’t work if Gabrielle isn’t somewhat attracted to whatever man is chosen. Her body needs to respond to him or it will NOT be a positive experience."

Well, that was like a slap in the face. Xena had never thought of it that way. If Gabrielle didn’t get relatively involved with the man it might as well be a rape.

Xena was on her feet and heading for the door "Can’t talk … bout this … anymore." And she was gone.

"Gabrielle don’t panic yet. These are hard issues. She needs time to get used to them. She’ll be back. Let’s keep discussing this. I think it is just as hard for you."

………………………………………………………………………………….

Xena moved as quickly as she could away from the cave. She headed for the barn planning to saddle up and get out of here. But once she entered the barn most of her common sense returned. She had always thought any man Gabrielle was attracted to was NOT an option. She had never gotten to the actual details. Gabrielle HAD to like the potential father otherwise she could be quite traumatized by the whole thing. Xena was just going to have to find a way past her jealousy and insecurities.

Besides she didn’t even have to do anything. Her wife was taking all the risks. All she had to do was be supportive and trusting. Why was that so hard?? She turned around and practically ran back home.

The two blondes were still on the floor discussing the situation when Xena burst back in. Gabrielle looked up at her with fear in her eyes. "Oh great … now I’m scaring her … could I make a bigger mess of all this??" thought Xena as she took a deep breath and moved toward Gabrielle.

"My love … I am so sorry" Xena started as she dropped down in front of Gabrielle "I never realized how hard this would be … but it is hardest for you … you have to worry about being intimate with some man … at the same time your idiot wife is running around unable to control her jealousy. I’ll do better I promise. If you want Virgil. We will get Virgil."

"A party."

"WHAT???!!" both women said at the same time as they stared at Aphrodite.

"I haven’t had a party in a long long time. Let’s have a party … invite all your friends and family … it will be an excuse for Virgil to be here … then if it feels right you can take him aside and quietly make your request. If you change your mind he never needs to know."

Blue and green eyes continued to stare at Aphrodite.

"Dite. Sometimes you amaze me."

"Yeah me too."

"Whaaaat?? Isn’t it a good idea?"

"It is brilliant" said Gabrielle.

"Brilliant" agreed Xena.

………………………………………………………………………………….

A couple weeks later the party took place. There was a band of musicians and a feast of food. The area between the barns and cave was lit up with many torches. Lila, Sarah and Zachary were there. Lila whispered to Gabrielle that she expected Sarah to be engaged soon. Eve arrived with some fellow Eli followers. Eve seemed quite happy and relaxed for once which warmed Xena’s heart. There were various people from the surrounding towns. And Virgil had also come to enjoy the party.

When he had arrived he had swept Gabrielle up in a big hug, "Gabrielle I heard the news! Congratulations! I wish I could have been here for the wedding."

"It was a small wedding that took place quite quickly. We really didn’t have time to invite anyone. But I’m glad you came tonight. How is your writing going?"

Xena tried not to hover. Gabrielle and Virgil were standing in the middle of a multitude of people having an innocent conversation … but she still felt jealous twinges.

"Mother?"

Xena turned around to find Eve and one of her friends. "Eve, are you enjoying the party?"

"Mother I need to tell you something."

All of a sudden the Warrior felt worried, "What? What’s going on?" She moved them off to the side.

"I needed to apologize to you … for how I reacted when you married Gabrielle… I should have known … but somehow I was blind to your relationship."

"It’s OK, Eve, I didn’t take the time to make it clear to you."

"Well … the thing is … once I accepted your relationship … I realized … that I wanted the same thing."

Xena finally realized what was going on and took a good look at Eve’s friend. She was quite pretty though maybe a year or two older than Eve.

"This is Alexandra. I met her while traveling with Eli’s followers. We have become quite close."

"Alexandra, it is a pleasure to meet you. You are welcome here any time."

"Thank you. It’s nice to meet you too."

They spent a little time chatting and getting to know each other and Xena almost forgot about the real reason for the party. Suddenly the Warrior felt hands travel across her back and then wind around her waist. A warm body leaned against her back and kissed the back of her neck, "Come dance with me."

"Excuse me … duty calls." Xena turned in Gabrielle’s embrace and moved them toward the dance area. "You know I don’t like to dance in public."

"This isn’t ‘public’. These are our friends. Besides I needed to touch you … but if you are uncomfortable." Gabrielle started to pull away.

"Oh no you don’t … get back here … you started this … you’re gonna finish it." Xena tightened her hold on the small blonde. She began to move their bodies in a sensual dance.

They lost themselves in the music and each other.

When the song had ended Gabrielle grabbed Xena’s hand and pulled her toward the food table. She loaded up a plate then found a quiet place for them to eat.

She pushed a bite of meat in Xena’s mouth and said, "I want to ask Virgil. But I’m nervous."

"It’s OK … we’ll do it together" Xena put some cheese on a piece of bread and fed it to Gabrielle.

They finished the food slowly enjoying every bite. Then Xena turned and scanned the crowd. "You go inside. I’ll find Virgil."

Gabrielle was pacing in the kitchen when Xena and Virgil walked in. "Gabrielle what’s going on?" he asked.

"Virgil we need some help." That was as far as Gabrielle could get. She looked at Xena.

"Gabrielle and I love each other very much. But we want to have a family. And we can not do that alone."

Virgil sat down suddenly, "Are you saying what I think you are saying???"

"Gabrielle would like to get pregnant. And she would like your help. We both trust you. Your father was a part of our family and it only seems fitting to ask you to help extend that family. Will you help us?"

Of course Virgil was completely unprepared for this question. He had always been physically drawn to Gabrielle but realized that she was truly in love with Xena. "You … don’t mean … NOW??"

"No … no … of course not."

"What … what would happen if … well if it didn’t work??"

"Virgil … please relax … we are asking for your help … not threatening you" said Xena as she sat down too.

"Virgil … I don’t know how any of this would work … we would need to discuss it … you do need to know … that I am scared too" Gabrielle spoke soothingly.

"IF … if you were willing to help … there wouldn’t be any rush … when the time was right it would happen."

"And … what happens after? Would I be a father??"

"What would you want? I want to raise a child with Xena. If you wanted to participate in that it would be your right."

"I don’t think I’m ready to be a father" He got up and paced "Could I be an Uncle??" He turned to see two of the most beautiful smiles aimed at him.

………………………………………………………………………………….

The party was a big success. Everyone had a wonderful time and Xena and Gabrielle were going to have a baby with Virgil’s help. Aphrodite had a wonderful time. She introduced every single man she could find to Lila keeping her out on the dance floor for most of the evening.

Finally it was time for the guests to depart and the three residents took turns escorting people through the illusion. As they walked back home arm in arm in arm Aphrodite asked, "So what did Virgil say?"

"Yes."

"Congratulations … that’s great … now what?"

"Now he gets to make love to MY wife."

"Xena!"

"I’m sorry but I have to get used to the idea … saying it out loud might help."

"Well … it will work out fine … don’t worry" said Aphrodite, "I had a wonderful time at the party … I have a new project!"

"What’s that?" asked Gabrielle.

"Lila."

Both Xena and Gabrielle came to a halt causing the Goddess to lurch backwards.

"What?!"

"Well, I found LOTS of single men … and Lila is in her prime … she shouldn’t be alone … and besides … if Tall Dark and Deadly here can find someone to love her … anyone can!!" With a taunting laugh Aphrodite was running down the hill with an irate Warrior right on her tail.

"I don’t need children … I already HAVE children … what was I thinking??" Gabrielle shook her head as she wandered down the hill watching Xena and Aphrodite chase each other all over the yard.

………………………………………………………………………………….

A few weeks had past since the party and the discussion with Virgil. Xena had woken up before Gabrielle but could not stand to leave her side. She snuggled in closer and held the Bard tightly.

"If you don’t loosen your hold a little you might break me" whispered her wife directly in her ear.

Xena relaxed immediately "I’m sorry."

"Don’t apologize Xena, just improve."

Outraged blue eyes looked into amused green eyes.

Gabrielle pulled her wife’s head down again so she could whisper in her ear "I love you. Do you know what the best part of our honeymoon was? The sexiest thing? That made me fall in love with you again for the hundredth time?"

Xena couldn’t speak Gabrielle’s voice had her mesmerized … she shook her head "no".

"That day you held me down and just kissed me … and told me you loved me … and kissed me a lot more … remember? … we didn’t even make love … we just kissed …"

In response a HOT mouth covered hers. They spent many heartbeats reliving that moment. Finally they pulled apart, "It’s getting late … you need to go."

Gabrielle reluctantly got out of bed, cleaned up quickly and got dressed. She walked back to the bed and kissed Xena once more "I’ll see you soon." And she walked out.

………………………………………………………………………………….

"Xena?!!"

Aphrodite walked down the corridor, "Xena? Are you still in here?"

Xena lay in the bed with her arm covering her eyes … she wasn’t quite sure what to do with herself.

"Xena! Get out of that bed! Don’t make me come in there after you!"

"Please, Dite, I just want to be alone."

"Well, that is not going to happen … you get to spend the day with me … so get up and get dressed."

"Dite."

"Look … I promised the little blonde when she left that I would keep you occupied … I am NOT going to face her wrath if I fail … so … GET … UP!"

"Okay … okay … what do you want to do??"

Big sigh. "Well … how bout you take me … fishing."

Xena brightened up immediately "Fishing!! You’ll go fishing with me??!!"

"Once. And this is gonna be it. And only if you are outside and ready to go in the next couple minutes." Aphrodite turned and left.

Xena was humming as she quickly rummaged through her supplies. She practically ran outside "I know just where we can go! This will be great!"

"Great" mumbled Aphrodite.

………………………………………………………………………………….

Gabrielle and Virgil had agreed that a neutral place for their encounter would be best. They had both agreed to meet at Lila’s house (which would be empty for the day). They had also agreed that they would relax and spend time together first and if they felt comfortable enough they would move on.

………………………………………………………………………………….

Xena and Aphrodite spent an enjoyable day together. They had a mixture of serious conversations, playful bantering and one water fight. Late in the afternoon Aphrodite was standing in the water at the edge of the small lake. All of a sudden she called out to Xena then passed out. She fell face first into the water to the Warrior’s complete shock.

Xena dove through the water trying frantically to reach Aphrodite before she drown. She grabbed the goddess and pulled her face out of the water.

"Dite!! Wake up!! What happened??"

Xena pulled Aphrodite into her arms and carried her to shore. She immediately began mouth to mouth until the Goddess began to breath again. Though she was breathing again she did not wake up.

"What happened … I was looking right at you … you just collapsed … did something bite you?" Xena was talking out loud even though no one was listening. She reached down and examined Aphrodite’s feet and legs but there were no bites. "It was like … all of a sudden you had no strength left … no energy … OH NO … Dite!!?? What did you do???"

………………………………………………………………………………….

Gabrielle kissed Virgil quickly on the lips, "Thank you."

Virgil smiled at Gabrielle "Let me know if it worked. Do you want me to escort you home?"

"No … it is just starting to get dark I’ll get home fine." She gave him another smile then climbed on her horse and rode toward home.

All in all things had gone quite well. They had worked into it very slowly both being overly attentive to each other. It had been a little awkward but not as traumatic as she had feared. Gabrielle now hurried home. She needed to see Xena and reassure her wife that nothing had changed between them. As she came over a slight rise she stared in surprise … the stone wall was gone! … she could see right into the valley!

She kicked her horse into a full gallop as fear welled up in her stomach. As she passed the barn she realized that the torches were lit outside the cave entrance so someone was home. She leapt from the horse and ran inside.

"Xena!! Aphrodite!! Where are you??"

"Gabrielle! We are in Aphrodite’s room."

Gabrielle ran down the corridor "What’s going on? Do you know that the stone wall is gone??" She careened into the room and stopped short at the sight of Xena tending to Aphrodite.

"Xena? Is she OK?"

"I think so. We went fishing … up in the lake above the waterfall … and all of a sudden she just passed out … I brought her home … I don’t really know what happened." Actually Xena had a strong suspicion but didn’t want to voice it until she spoke with Aphrodite.

"What can I do to help?"

"I don’t know of anything to do but let her rest … let’s go into another room and talk for a minute."

They walked back down the hall in silence.

"Xena have you had anything to eat?" She pulled her love into the kitchen.

"Um … we had lunch at the lake … I caught some fish … but couldn’t take the time to bring them back…"

"Sit. I’ll make you some dinner."

Xena felt so tired. She let her head drop into her hands. All of a sudden she remembered WHERE Gabrielle had been. "Are you OK? Did everything go … OK??"

Gabrielle came to the table and put both hands on either side of Xena’s face. She made eye to eye contact. "I am fine. I’ll tell you about it after we know Aphrodite is OK. … Item one."

"Okay ... Item one." Gabrielle went back to what she was doing and Xena leaned forward to rest her head and arms on the table.

"Xena." A far away voice was calling her. "Xena wake up." Soft hands rubbed her back.

The Warrior sat up quickly trying to figure out where she was. She had fallen asleep on the table. And the Bard had let her sleep. Gabrielle had been regularly checking on Aphrodite and she finally showed signs of waking.

"I didn’t mean to fall asleep!"

"It’s OK … you have had a rough day. Aphrodite is waking up. Come on." Gabrielle tugged on Xena’s hand.

Aphrodite struggled her way up to consciousness. She opened her eyes to find an extremely worried Warrior at her side along with Gabrielle.

"Hi."

"Are you OK?? You just passed out on me."

"I’m sorry."

"Do you think you can eat something? I have a broth warming up in the kitchen." asked Gabrielle.

"Yeah. I’d like to try that."

"Great." Gabrielle left the room to retrieve the food.

"Dite … what did you do??" Xena whispered urgently "You did something with your powers … didn’t you??!!"

"Please … don’t be mad … I was only trying to help."

"WHAT did you do??"

"I didn’t know exactly when it would happen … I shouldn’t have been in the water … thanks for saving me."

"Dite."

"Don’t tell Gabrielle. We’ll discuss this later."

Moments later the Bard returned with a tray. She pushed Xena out of the way and sat on the edge of the bed. She picked up the bowl of broth and a spoon and moved to feed Aphrodite.

"Gabrielle I am OK … I can certainly feed myself!"

"You know … this reminds me of the time …" Gabrielle launched one of her longer stories and pushed the spoon in Aphrodite’s mouth. She continued to tell the story not allowing the Goddess to protest her ministrations.

Xena just smirked in the corner as Gabrielle told her story and spoon fed the Goddess of Love.

When the bowl was empty and Aphrodite’s eyes were drooping again Gabrielle said "Aphrodite, do you want us to stay with you tonight?"

"No … no … I’m fine … if I need you I’ll call …"

"OK." Gabrielle tucked Aphrodite in and kissed her, "You had us worried today. Get your rest and feel better tomorrow."

"Nite."

………………………………………………………………………………….

Xena and Gabrielle wandered down the hall from Aphrodite’s room, "You leave my bed this morning to go kiss some man … then you return to kiss a Goddess … should I be worried????" teased Xena.

Gabrielle launched herself at her wife and pinned her against the wall. She kissed Xena quite thoroughly … pulled back …took a breath … enjoyed the dazed look on Xena’s face … then went back for more as she pushed her thigh in between the Warriors legs.

Long moments passed. Finally Gabrielle pulled away and walked the rest of the way to their bedroom. Of course she was alone because Xena was still leaning against the wall in the hallway trying to figure out what happened.

Gabrielle smiled as she undressed. Soon she heard running footsteps as the Warrior’s brain caught up and moved her body in pursuit of her love. Xena came running into the room only to stop dead at the sight of the Bard completely naked lying on the bed. Again Xena’s brain stalled.

As Xena moved toward the bed she was unconsciously stripping out of her clothes and boots "Beautiful … I have … THE MOST beautiful wife … with an incredibly SEXY body … I will do ANYTHING to please that body! .. tell me what you want …"

Xena was babbling. She knew it. Gabrielle knew it. And they both were going to enjoy it.

………………………………………………………………………………….

The next morning a very tired and sore Bard stumbled into the kitchen.

"Gabrielle … good morning … did you have a rough night?" asked Aphrodite knowingly.

"Um … rough isn’t the right word … active? … we had an active night?"

"Oooo that sounds good."

Suddenly a disheveled Xena ran into the kitchen and skidded to a halt "Gabrielle!! Are you OK? We shouldn’t have … so soon after … what if? …"

"Yup it must have been an active night", said Aphrodite "She’s babbling;"

"Aphrodite!" Two voices said sternly.

"What?? I’m not the one who got the Bard pregnant yesterday and it wasn’t MY libido that kept her up ALL night either. I’ll be in the garden if anyone needs me." And with that she left the room.

Silence.

Green stared into blue. Blue stared into green.

"Did she just say …"

They turned and ran outside to find the Goddess happily gardening.

"Aphrodite! Did you say …?"

"Pregnant … I said ‘pregnant’…"

Gabrielle sat down "Can you really tell?? Did it really happen?? The first time?"

"I was going to say ‘no’" replied Aphrodite without looking up from her gardening.

"What?" asked Gabrielle.

"When Xena made her request months ago … I was going to say I wasn’t interested in her offer."

"Why are you saying this now?" Xena sat down next to Gabrielle.

"I spied on you … that night … what I saw changed my mind … I witnessed you debating your marriage contract."

She received two stunned looks but no comment.

"I know you thought that was private … but I was still in selfish Goddess mode."

No comment.

"I saw two people who realized their love for each other was more important than anything else … who were willing to do anything to stay together … and I decided I wanted to be a part of that."

"You are a part of that … but why are you telling us this?" asked Gabrielle.

"Because I know one of the most difficult issues for you two is trust … and secrets … Xena knows something … that she feels she should tell you … but I asked her not to … and now she is torn between her loyalty to both of us."

"Xena?"

"She doesn’t really ‘know’ anything … she just suspects … but I don’t want to cause trouble between you."

"So … how do we handle this?" asked Xena.

"Why don’t you want me to know, Aphrodite?" asked Gabrielle.

"Because you will get mad at me … and what I did was really not that big of a deal … but you will be upset by it."

Gabrielle stood up and paced. This was turning out to be a very difficult week. Emotionally she had her hands full with trying to conceive a child. Then to return and have a member of her family suddenly sick. Now this news.

"I’m going for a walk."

"Do you want me to come with you?" asked Xena.

"No … I need to think." Gabrielle wandered off toward the river.

"Dite … what did you do??"

"I’m not going to tell you … right now all you know is that I used my powers … I did not mean for you to even know that. Why don’t you go tend to the horses while we wait for Gabrielle."

Gabrielle returned around lunchtime. She didn’t speak to anyone she just went inside. Xena resisted her impulse to rush to her wife’s side. A few moments passed and Gabrielle reappeared with a tray of food and a blanket which she laid out in the middle of the yard.

"Well? … you two aren’t going to make me eat alone are you?" she called out.

Both her companions were quite relieved at the invitation and hurried to join her.

As they ate she said "I noticed the stone wall is back … I assume that is because you are feeling better Aphrodite."

The Goddess nodded.

"Xena, do you know what Aphrodite is hiding?"

"No, I really don’t."

"Aphrodite, you obviously used your powers … "

"I would NEVER hurt either of you … I think I did a good thing."

Silence … they continued eating.

"If the situation ever arises that I NEED to know what you did … you must tell me immediately … until that time I will trust you … and we won’t discuss it again … no one will discuss it."

The Goddess’ face lit up "Great! I promise."

Xena let out a relieved sigh. She was quite proud of how her wife had handled the situation.

"I think we need a table out here. We spend a lot of time outdoors. We should have some basic furniture out here." Gabrielle changed the subject.

"I told you both that this cave was one I used as a Warlord … well … there are some other things you should both know."

"Such as?" Gabrielle lay on her side and looked at Xena curiously.

"There are some passageways that we aren’t using yet. There is an escape route … a backdoor in case of emergencies."

"That makes sense. We should all be aware of that." Aphrodite said.

"And … there is … um … maybe I should just … show you."

They all stood up each helping clean up the remnants of their lunch and went inside. After quickly returning things to the kitchen the Goddess and Bard looked at Xena expectantly.

"OK … if we go down toward the bathing chamber…" She led the way. "There is actually another hallway right over … here." Xena pushed hard on a wall and it opened.

"Now THAT definitely counts as a secret!" Aphrodite teased as she squeezed past Xena "Let’s go explore!!"

Gabrielle took the opportunity to hug Xena … just to reestablish their connection … then hurried to follow Aphrodite.

"Wait you two!! You need torches!" Xena quickly lit two torches and followed.

She caught up to them at the an intersection. "Here Dite take a torch … I was planning on telling you about this right away … it’s not something I am proud of … it is all courtesy of the Warlord … but I think I have atoned for a lot of this … and hope you will both keep an open mind."

"Xena? Where are you taking us?"

"There are many more rooms to the left we can make use of in the future … if you go straight you eventually come out on the other side of the mountain … that is the escape … to the right …" She moved to the lead again.

The passage was quite curvy it turned left and right … suddenly Xena stopped "Will you both wait here for one moment?" And she moved ahead around the next curve.

"Wow! This place is more amazing than I thought? Where do you think she is taking us?" asked Aphrodite.

"I have no idea. But she seems a little bit nervous."

Xena returned "Around this last corner is a large chamber … I wanted to light the torches so that you can see the whole room at once … ready?" She looked into green eyes.

Gabrielle smiled "Show us your secret."

Xena let her companions go in front so they could get the whole effect.

As they rounded the corner and entered the room both Gabrielle and Aphrodite gasped. Neither one said anything as their eyes moved around the large room.

"I’ll let you two look around … I’ll wait down the hall", Xena made a hasty exit.

"Aphrodite?"

"Yeah Gabrielle?"

"Are we standing in a room filled with gold, silver and jewels??"

"Yeah Gabrielle."

The room was glowing as the light bounced off the treasure. Every imaginable form of gold and every color of jewel was present. In absolute amazement they wandered among the items marveling at the beauty.

Finally Gabrielle said, "We can’t keep this! It was all dishonest profit made by the Destroyer of Nations. It has to be returned! There are poor people who need this wealth!"

"We can’t return it Gabrielle", Aphrodite said quietly.

"Why? Why not?!"

"What are you going to do? March into Potedia and start passing out gold thrones or diamond necklaces? Every petty thief and gang would descend on the town and destroy it trying to steal their fortune. And if word got out all this was here we would never be able to defend it. If Xena ever tried to return this treasure it would only fall into the wrong hands."

"But …"

"Normal people have no use for this kind of wealth … it only endangers them." Aphrodite moved around the room extinguishing the torches.

Xena sat on the floor at the juncture of the hallways. She knew Gabrielle was not going to react well to the treasure. Part of her felt guilty but the other part felt glad that her family would always be well taken care of. She was bouncing a small stone off the wall when she heard her companions return.

Both Bard and Goddess were still quite shocked at what had just been revealed to them. They didn’t know what to say quite yet so they filed past Xena silently. They all sat down in the common room.

"I wanted you to know that we can afford what ever furniture you want. Our family will never want for anything."

"How do you plan to use any of that?" asked Aphrodite.

"I will take one or two pieces to Athens and sell them for plain old dinars. I will have to be extremely careful. Then I’ll buy the items we need at various towns on the way home … to spread out the money and not leave a trail."

"You won’t buy anything extravagant … we will live normal lives … and you will give away as much as you can safely" stated Gabrielle.

"Yes Ma’am."

Gabrielle moved closer to Xena and cuddled up in her lap. Xena immediately put her arms around her wife and slowly stroked her hair.

Xena and Aphrodite continued to discuss how the money should be spent and what items they needed for their home. Gabrielle dozed off in Xena’s arms for some much needed rest.

………………………………………………………………………………….

They had all decided that if Xena was going to make a trip to Athens it should be soon. The Bard was now three months pregnant and Xena would not travel as the birth approached. Gabrielle was having some serious trouble with morning sickness. She was quite miserable and not having her favorite pillow to cuddle up with was not helping. Aphrodite did everything she could … but she was no replacement for the Bard’s wife.

One day Aphrodite looked all throughout the cave and could not find Gabrielle anywhere. She wandered outside and still did not see her. Starting to get worried she hurried towards the barns.

"Gabrielle! Where are you?"

"Back … <sniff> … here."

The Goddess ran to the last stall to find Gabrielle in tears. "What’s wrong?? Are you hurt??"

"I’m OK … <sniff> … do you think I’ll be a good mother??"

"What? Of course you will."

"Maybe this was a bad idea … I don’t know …<sniff> … anything about babies." More tears.

Aphrodite realized that the Bard’s hormones were reeking havoc on her emotions. "Gabrielle … you will do fine … and you will have plenty of help."

"Do you think I’m attractive?"

"What???" said Aphrodite while thinking "Oh gods … she is a mess."

"I’m … FAT!!" With that Gabrielle burst into tears.

All Aphrodite could do was hold the pregnant women and let her cry it out. "Warrior you owe me big time for this" she thought.

………………………………………………………………………………….

Finally about one month later Xena returned. She was quite exhausted having traveled hard. She had a wagon full of supplies and six new horses tethered together. She felt immensely relieved to be home. All she wanted to do was hold her wife. As she rode up to the barns and secured the horses she saw Aphrodite moving toward her.

Xena looked around for Gabrielle "Hey Dite! How is everything? Where is my beautiful wife??"

"Next time I’m risking the trip to Athens and YOU stay home with the pregnant lady!!"

"Is she OK??!!"

"She is fine. But she is pregnant. Her hormones are messed up and she is still sick a lot. Whatever you do … do NOT mention that she has gained weight!!"

"Thanks for the warning. I’m so tired. I’ll unpack and show you what I bought tomorrow. Right now I just need a soft bed and a soft wife."

Xena hurried into the cave calling out for Gabrielle. She moved quickly down the passage to their bedroom.

There stood her wife looking uncertain and shy.

"Gabrielle!" Xena caught her up in her arms and swung her around. "I missed you so much! You are all I thought about. I hated being away from you." She set her back down and kissed her.

"Oh Xena … I missed you too."

Xena sat down on the bed and just stared at her wife "You are so beautiful. Will you hold me for a while. I need your arms around me."

Gabrielle hesitated. She was self-conscious of the weight she had gained. Irrationally she was sure Xena would no longer find her attractive.

Xena remembered all too well how pregnancy interfered with common sense. She began to undress.

"My love … I am so tired … I didn’t have one decent night’s sleep without you."

"Have you eaten anything? … I could make you some dinner." Gabrielle stalled. She was torn between her longing to be in Xena’s arms and her fear.

"I’m too tired to eat. Go ahead and get something for yourself. I’ll just take a nap. We can talk later." Xena did her best not to show her hurt feelings. She did not want to upset Gabrielle by pressuring her. She laid back on the bed and closed her eyes.

Silence. And then the bed moved as Gabrielle slowly joined her wife. She snuggled up close to Xena’s side and rested her head on the available shoulder.

Xena slid her arm under and around Gabrielle, sighed and said "I love you."

………………………………………………………………………………….

The next morning Xena woke up alone. She dressed quickly and went in search of Gabrielle.

Aphrodite was in the kitchen. "I made you some breakfast."

"Thanks. Where is Gabrielle?"

"Morning sickness. The only thing that helps is fresh air."

Xena grabbed her plate and started out.

"Wait!! Eat the food here. Do not let her see or smell it."

After hurrying through breakfast both Xena and Aphrodite went outside. There they found a pacing Gabrielle.

Without missing a beat Xena walked up grabbed her hand and pulled her towards the barn. "Come see what I brought home!"

Xena started rummaging through the wagon unloading things.

"Dite this is for you" she handed a large bundle to the Goddess.

Aphrodite was taken aback. She couldn’t remember anyone ever giving her a gift. Tribute in exchange for godly duties yes … but never a true gift. She sat down and just looked at it.

"Dite … it’s even better if you open it" Xena prompted.

"Right!" She tore into the paper to find a beautiful dress and many different fabrics."

"I thought ‘The Goddess of Love’ should have something fitting her beauty. And I know you are learning to make your own clothes. I hope you like that material. At the bottom … there are some soft cottons … I thought maybe you could make some baby clothes?"

A tear rolled down Aphrodite’s cheek and she beamed at Xena, "Thank you."

"These are also for you … there are some garden tools, seeds and bulbs."

Xena started unloading some larger items.

"Gabrielle, here is a table and benches for the yard. And something every Mother needs … a rocking chair."

Xena set a large beautifully crafted chair in front of the Bard.

Gabrielle’s eyes grew wide as she ran her hand over the fine carvings decorating the chair … swords and quills matching their wedding rings. Before she could express her delight Xena presented another gift.

"And … of course you will be needing this …"

She set a matching cradle at her wife’s feet. Gabrielle was overwhelmed.

"Are they OK? … Gabrielle? … do you like them?" Xena asked.

Still unable to speak Gabrielle grabbed the front of Xena’s tunic and pulled her in for a very loving kiss.

"I’ll take that as a ‘yes’" a breathless Xena said a moment later. "I have lots of other supplies. I’ll get everything unloaded."

Aphrodite helped carry things into the cave and Gabrielle released the new horses into the paddock. After they had most things in their proper place Aphrodite said "I’m going to head into Potedia. I’ll be back tomorrow."

"Will you take Lila’s supplies to her?"

"Of course."

………………………………………………………………………………….

Gabrielle had retired to the cave for a nap and Xena was exercising the horses. After a few hours Xena completed her chores and headed into the bathing chamber to clean up. She was tired and sore and looking forward to a good soak in the hot spring.

Sitting in the hot water Xena let her mind wander. Suddenly she realized she was no longer alone. She opened her eyes to find Gabrielle looking right at her. Blue met green in a warm glance. Gabrielle slowly began to remove her clothes. Inside she was scared at Xena’s response to the changes in her body.

Blue eyes turned carnal "Are you coming in? … or should I get out? … because there is far too much distance between us."

"I thought I would come in."

"Hurry."

Gabrielle slid into the water and approached Xena who was staring at her with unbridled lust.

"Gabrielle, talk to me. I need to know what you are thinking."

"I’m scared that you enjoyed traveling again and won’t be happy here. I’m scared that … you … won’t find me attractive … now that … I’m pregnant."

Xena smiled. "Well that is easy … I hated every moment spent away from you. Do you remember when I was pregnant with Eve? I felt like a slug. Did you find me attractive then?"

Gabrielle hesitated a little more than arms reach away. "You were glowing … you were more beautiful to me."

"Then you understand how I feel about you now."

Gabrielle closed the gap and fell into Xena’s arms. She put her arms around her Warrior and held her tightly.

"Oh Xena … I’m sorry … I have been an absolute wreck … I am not handling this pregnancy thing well."

"Then it’s a good thing I’m home to help." Xena kissed the top of the blonde head.

Gabrielle responded with a long lick up Xena’s neck, "Actually … I do need your help."

"Yes?"

"Could you move us to slightly shallower water? I need to suck on your breasts and I don’t want to drown."

A bolt of lightening traveled through Xena’s body and took up residence in her clit. "Oh gods …"

Gabrielle didn’t wait for Xena to move as she dove to her target.

"Focus … Warrior … move … ooooo yeah … move your …feet … don’t … ungh … drown your wife" Xena’s thoughts were very scattered but she did manage to move them mostly out of the water.

"Xena … I have been wondering …" Gabrielle said as she moved to the other breast and sucked hard.

Coherent speech was not an option for the Warrior all she could do was moan and writhe.

"If I could …" A long hot lick between Xena’s breasts up to her throat and a sharp bite to her pulse point.

"Make you … come … just by loving … your breasts." And Gabrielle bit Xena’s nipple.

"Gonna die … I’m … gonna die" thought Xena but she said, "More!! More … my … ungh … love!"

It was a long and arduous experiment but Gabrielle DID get the results she wanted. They both lay on the floor of the bathing chamber panting.

"Another thing I have been wondering …" Gabrielle rolled on top and whispered in Xena’s ear.

"OH GODS!!!!!!!"

………………………………………………………………………………….

"Xena?"

"Xena wake up."

"Xena!"

"Wha?" Xena tried to roll over to go back to sleep but that was a little difficult with her wife sitting on top of her.

"Xena, No morning sickness!! I think we have found the cure!!"

"Thas nice." Xena mumbled not really conscious.

"It was obviously the sex … but WHICH time? We will have to try that all over again." Gabrielle thought out loud.

"WHAT??!!! NO NO NO … You are going to kill me!! … I need some rest!"

"You don’t want me to be sick again do you?" Gabrielle said slyly.

"Well … no … but Gabrielle … you made me come … 4 times … I can’t take anymore!!!"

"Hhhmmm … only 4?? I thought it was 5 … were you faking!!" Gabrielle just barely held in her laughter as the Warriors eyes almost popped out of her head.

"FAKING!!! You think I was faking!!! I’ll show you faking!!" With that Xena flipped the Bard over and did her best to replay most of the previous evening.

………………………………………………………………………………….

Late in the evening Aphrodite returned home. She had had a very nice visit in Potedia. There was a single merchant that she enjoyed spending time with and she was still working on Lila. She took a few moments to spoil her horse in the barn. Then headed into the cave.

She entered the common room to find Xena sprawled all over the couch. "Xena? Are you OK?"

"No more … Gabrielle … need rest …"

Aphrodite couldn’t help but laugh out loud. "Big strong scary Warrior reduced to a puddle by a little blonde Bard."

Xena didn’t respond she just rolled over and pulled the blanket over her head.

The Goddess kept laughing as she continued through the cave "Gabrielle? Where are you and what did you do to this poor Warrior??"

………………………………………………………………………………….

As the days passed Xena realized that she was truly enjoying ‘settling down’. She was working hard with her horses and already had one offer from a farmer. It was an active pursuit that required much stamina but was completely NON-violent. She was also testing her hand at a variety of other projects. Surprisingly she disliked the days she worked with the new ‘militias’ because those were the days she had to be away from home.

She rode home after one such day in a town to the west. She was frustrated at the farmers lack of noticeable improvement. As anxious as she was to put her arms around her wife she still made sure to properly tend to her horse in the barn.

She finished by filling the feed trough in the stall. Just as she was exiting the barn a familiar voice called to her.

"Xena. You ARE looking good."

She turned in surprise, "Ares? What are you doing here??!"

"I KNEW you missed me." He advanced on her and pinned her to the wall.

"How did you get in?"

"Aphrodite IS my sister. I just came for a quick visit.&qu