BOOZE, BLONDS & BONFIRES
DISCLAIMER: The characters of Xena, Gabrielle, Ephiny, Epinon, Solari and Argo belong to MCA/Universal Television and Renaissance Pictures, and I believe Aphrodite is in public domain. All others are strictly figments of my imagination, but they can be borrowed if someone really likes one. I definitely DO NOT intend this piece of work to infringe on any copyright of the above-referenced entities and could not make a profit on this if I wanted to. To all the real-life portrayers of these characters, I beg forgiveness. I plead temporary insanity.
WARNING: If you're underage and smut is illegal where you dwell, reading this could prove harmful to your health. There is definitely graphic lesbian love in here for those of you who are into that sort of thing. If you weren't, you wouldn't be here, would you?
THANKS: To ME. I dared myself to write this little farce just to prove that I could. And I did.
SPECIAL THANKS: To Tim for posting the products of my mental lapses. May the Gods bless!
I can be reached at the following e-mail address for any of you who would like to grouse or praise: GAUGER@BANGATE.FDA.GOV
(Another annoying 'first time' story.)
The early morning shower had left the road free of dust, and the spring sun now shining through the rain-spattered new leaves gave the promise of a warmer season to come. The birds in the trees sang as though their hearts would burst with the sheer joy of it.
The warrior's and the bard's feet made no noise at all on the wet road. The soft clop-clop of Argo's hooves was the only sound of their passage. Gabrielle was almost skipping along at the side of her friend, her quarterstaff leaving little round holes in the damp earth.
"Is it Eos?" she asked eagerly, looking up at the dark, stoic figure beside her.
"Gabrielle, that's way too obvious. No, it isn't Eos." Xena's eyes never left the road ahead of her. Even when playing a game with Gabrielle, she remained ever vigilant.
"Hm-m." The bard skipped a few steps ahead and turned around, walking backward, watching Xena. Her friend's lips curved slightly in a lopsided grin. "Not Eos?"
"No," the warrior reaffirmed.
Gabrielle turned back around and continued walking, trying to figure out the answer to Xena's riddle. Normally, the strawberry blond enjoyed their question and answer game, but it seemed that today she was easily distracted. She was aware of every bird that sang, every new leaf on the trees, the new buds on the berry bushes and small insects that were coming alive for another season of warmth and growth.
Xena sauntered along behind her friend, watching the spring in her step, the sway of her hair as she moved, and the pale skin that she knew would soon turn golden with the sun. She allowed herself the pleasure of a full-fledged smile since she knew Gabrielle wasn't watching. This was their third spring together, and the warrior knew she would never get tired of seeing spring's effect on her gabby, little friend. She was wound pretty tightly, and Xena could sense it in the girl. Why haven't I ever felt like that about spring? she wondered. Probably because I was too busy watching my friends and neighbors die when I was younger and too busy killing when I was older. She shuddered, trying to shed the ugly images that had superimposed themselves over the sashaying behind of the springy-stepped bard. The warrior focused again on more pleasant thoughts. Though terribly frustrating, they were more welcome than the ones of which she had just rid herself. She knew it was unforgivable that her mind took such prurient vacations at Gabrielle's expense, but what the Hades A lascivious grin ran across her face.
Suddenly, Xena stopped and cocked her head to catch a new sound. Pursing her lips, she listened with eyes squinted. "Gabrielle, get back here behind me." The bard kept going her distracted way, not hearing the warrior speak. "Gabrielle!"
The blond stopped and turned, "What?" she asked, annoyed at the interruption of her otherwise creative thoughts.
"Get behind me," the warrior repeated softly. Her ear heard the sound coming closer. "There's someone coming around that curve." She gestured to the road ahead with her chin.
Gabrielle scampered behind Xena as she was instructed, and, with her hand on the warrior's arm, peeked out around the broad shoulder. A rider came into view at a trot, and Xena's body tensed in readiness to draw a weapon should it prove necessary.
The bard recognized the rider as it drew nearer. She jumped out from behind Xena. "Elias!" she greeted the young Amazon Warrior as she reined in her horse.
The platinum-haired messenger slipped from the saddle and knelt in the wet dirt. "My Queen." She bowed her head with respect.
"Please get up out of the mud, Elias," Gabrielle reprimanded. She hated these shows of deference. "Tell me what you're doing away from Arborea."
The pretty, young Amazon got to her feet and noticed, thankfully, that the tall, dark-haired warrior had relaxed her stance. "I was sent to look for you, my Queen."
"Is there a problem?" Xena asked.
"No, Warrior Princess. Tomorrow is Spring Festival, and Regent Ephiny wanted me to find Queen Gabrielle to ask her to come and preside over this year's festivities."
Xena looked to Gabrielle not offering a word or an expression that would tell her what she was thinking.
"Yes, my Queen." Elias' horse gave her a hard nudge which propelled her up against the bard's body. She blushed to the roots of her fair hair, and it wasn't lost on the black-tressed warrior woman.
How old is this one? Xena wondered, raising an eyebrow at her. Elias swallowed hard, and the warrior chuckled to herself.
Gabrielle looked to Xena. "Can we go, Xena? Please?" The emerald green eyes shone with anticipation. Youthful exuberance oozed from every pore in her body. Xena loved seeing her this way. So young. So free. So beautiful.
"Gabrielle, they're your people, and your Regent is requesting your presence at the festival. Do you know what they would do to me if they found out I refused to allow their Queen to be there?"
"You mean we can go?" Gabrielle ran to her friend and tried to give her a squeeze around all the armor and weapons. "Oh, Xena! Thank you!"
"Gabrielle," Xena said under her breath. "Your warrior is waiting for an answer."
The bard looked up into the beautiful blue eyes as she let go her hold, and she could have sworn Xena's cheeks were flushed. I hope she's not coming down with something. The Amazon Queen turned her attention back to her messenger. "Tell Ephiny we'll be there late tomorrow morning, Elias."
"Yes, my Queen." The youngster gave a quick bow of her head, remounted her horse and rode off at a gallop back the way she had come.
Xena and Gabrielle resumed their journey toward Pithigus. Gabrielle was glad they would be making a detour to visit the Amazon village. She liked it there, and if it weren't for Xena she knew she would enjoy living there. But, as long as the dark warrior was on the road, the bard would be right by her side. She could never bear being away from her. Xena's focus was on the road ahead, so she was unaware that Gabrielle was studying her from the corner of her eye.
She is so gorgeous! Gabrielle thought. What a fight there'll be tomorrow night at the bonfire over which Amazon will be lucky enough to get Xena to dance. The bard visibly shivered, relishing the idea of the closeness, and the warrior did see that.
"You okay?" she asked, concerned.
Gabrielle giggled and wrinkled up her nose. "Yeah. Just a little chilly there for a second. Ya know?"
Xena frowned. Strange reaction, she thought. I hope she's not coming down with something.
Xena and Gabrielle sat on a piece of deadfall eating rabbit stew beside their campfire. They ate in silence, the soft pops and crackles of the burning wood the only disturbance in the starry evening. Gabrielle took Xena's and her empty bowls so she could clean them. As she worked, she glanced up at the warrior several times. Blue eyes dark in the shadow of the flames, the bard wondered what ghost held her friend hostage now.
"Dinar for your thoughts, Xena," Gabrielle threw across the firelight.
"Hm-m?" The warrior was brought back to the campsite by the soft voice of her favorite storyteller. She couldn't help but notice the concerned look on the face of the blond as she finished cleaning their supper dishes.
"Xena, are you alright?" The bard sat back down at her friend's side and rested a small hand on the muscled arm. "You've been really quiet all day. Actually, you've been quieter than usual, and that has me worried."
A soft smile crinkled the corners of the warrior's eyes, and she patted the hand on her arm. "No need to worry. I'm fine. Guess I'm just a little tired."
Xena? A "little tired" from a leisurely day's travel? Not likely, Gabrielle thought. Well, if she wants me to know, she'll tell me.
Xena continued to sit watching the bard lay out their bedrolls. The nights were still chilly, and they slept together gaining warmth from each other's bodies. If she only knew what was on my mind, Xena thought, she'd take my own whip to me. It had been way too long since the warrior had enjoyed a close encounter of the sexual kind. Tomorrow night she would be faced with the Spring Festival and that in the company of too many lovely warrior women. The Spring Festival was the epitome of occasions for wanton behaviour. A new growing season, a rebirth of nature and the hedonistic antics of the revelers were going to be extremely hard on the too-long-celibate warrior. She knew there would be public displays of affection that she would be a witness to. Just the thought of it was making her body temperature rise, and she didn't know how she would react when faced with the images of loving females cavorting around the bonfire. The chances of her getting any of the attention would most likely be slim and none. The Amazons were in total awe of her, and she couldn't picture any one of them coming up to her and asking if she would like to be partnered for the evening. Gods! I'm so antsy I could climb that tree over there just so I could slide back down! I'm in a really bad way here. She again looked over at Gabrielle who had now changed into her sleep shift. That was the woman Xena really wanted to be with. Like she could really tell her that.
"Want me to help you with your armor, Xena?" the younger woman asked. She stood right behind her, and Xena had not even known she'd moved.
"Sure, if you want."
"Well, I always do." The bard stepped over the log to place herself in front of the seated warrior. "Stand up."
Gabrielle always looked forward to this chore. She had taken it upon herself shortly after she had joined Xena. It seemed like such a small gesture to show the warrior that she was willing to be a help to her in any way she could. Helping her to dress and undress were her moments to be close to the older woman without it seeming unusual. A time she used to entertain the warrior with a joke she'd heard or a short humorous story she'd made up. She would look up into the sapphire blue of Xena's eyes and see the relief that ridding herself of the armor always brought. Soon the older woman was entrusting the soaping of her leathers and the polishing of her brass to the little green-eyed gabby person. They both loved their time of the evening together when Gabrielle settled down with brass and polish and Xena with her sword and oilcloth, and the bard would go into either a sensitive love story or a rousing battle account.
As Gabrielle unfastened the buckles of the breastplate and removed it, she stole glances at the sharp-featured face she loved so much. She could still see the tension around the eyes and the corners of the mouth. Sure wish I knew what was eating away at her, she thought. Whatever. Being close to her right now was all that mattered to the bard. She could feel the heat radiating from Xena and smell the leather and natural scent of the woman that almost made Gabrielle giddy. Oh, Gods! I bet she's one hot number under the blankets. The young woman shivered inwardly and felt a dampness between her legs. She didn't have any undergarments on under her sleep shift, and the moisture on her thighs was very noticeable. Oh, let's not even go there, she reprimanded herself.
After she finished placing Xena's armor and leathers in a neat pile, she laid her sword and chakram at the usual place near the warrior's side of the bedroll. She folded the blanket back and snuggled down inside, waiting for Xena to come back from her call of nature. When the warrior slipped in beside the bard, she rolled over on her side to face the fire. Gabrielle curled up to her back for warmth, but she was far from sleepy.
"Hm-m?" Came the reply from somewhere inside the blanket.
"I'm really looking forward to tomorrow night. Do you like Spring Festival?"
"I haven't been to a celebration for a few years, but, yes, I've been known to have a fairly good time at it in the past. I guess there's no need to ask if you like it."
"Well, the only ones I've ever been to I wasn't allowed to stay for much after the dancing started. I could dance a few dances with my father, but shortly after that Lila and I would have to go home. I've never been able to enjoy the whole thing. The bonfire and the all-night revelry." Xena felt her shiver up against her back. "I'm going to have such a good time!"
Xena rolled over slowly so as not to crush the woman behind her. "Gabrielle, you have never experienced an entire Spring Festival rite?"
"No, and I can hardly wait."
"Do you have any idea what goes on when the children have been sent off to bed?" The warrior's question came through in a low, soft voice that for some reason raised goosebumps all over the bard's skin.
"I guess everybody dances and drinks and gets a little rowdy. They let loose and have a really good time. I guess," she replied.
"Oh, Gabrielle, you have no idea how rowdy they get. Be prepared." Xena folded her hands on her stomach and crossed her legs in her favorite contemplative position.
The bard raised herself up and rested her head on her hand so she could look at the warrior's face. "What goes on, Xena? Tell me about it."
The warrior took a deep breath and tried to tame the desires raging through her blood. "When people have made pretty freely with the drink and they've gotten themselves all stirred up with the dancing, things between adults can get a little out of hand. It's a free-for-all. The only thing is, this is one night that no one cares."
"They fight?" the bard asked, innocently.
Xena laughed at her naivete and looked deeply into the emerald eyes of her friend. "Oh, no, Gabrielle. Fighting is the last thing they have on their minds, believe me."
The blond gasped in disbelief. "They don't!"
"Oh, yes, my bard, they do. All night. Wherever and whenever the mood hits them." She curled her lips up into a teasing grin at the shocked look on her friend's face.
"You mean I'll be presiding over an orgy?" The shocked look remained.
"Precisely. I hope you can handle it, blondie, 'cause it's all yours." Xena couldn't help but laugh a low, evil laugh.
"Oh, my! I guess I'm not supposed to stop it, then, huh?"
The eyebrows went up. "You'd better not try. Gods know what will happen to you even if you are the Queen. What I want to know, my chatty, little friend, is what are you going to do if and when someone comes up to you and asks for your favors for the night?"
"They wouldn't!" Gabrielle's green eyes were the size of temple offering plates.
"Oh, they might, Gabrielle," Xena kept teasing. "As I said, be prepared."
"Gods! What will I do if Ephiny or Solari or someone does? What should I do, Xena?"
The warrior couldn't help herself. "It's your very first real Spring Festival. Go with the flow. Enjoy yourself. If someone wants to get friendly and you're in the mood, personally, I'd let them." The bard was really going now, Xena thought, laughing to herself.
"Oh, my Gods! I can't do that, Xena. I wouldn't know what to do. I've I've well ".
"You've never danced the dance of the double-backed monster? Is that what you're trying to tell me? Huh?" Xena's voice was low, mocking and full of humor.
"Yes I mean no I mean." Gabrielle sat up and started twisting some strands of hair with her fingers. "I mean I haven't done it, ya know? Perdicus and I, well, we did some touching, but we were both so tired and nervous that we mostly talked until we fell asleep. I don't know anything about sex. Especially with women!" She grasped Xena's bicep with both hands. "Xena, tell me about it. Help me here!"
Xena laughed again. "Oh, no, Gabrielle! I'm not tellin' ya anything. You want to know? You have all afternoon to peruse the Amazon library. I suggest you do that. Now may I get some sleep here?" She rolled over on her side again. When she faced the fire, she let a big, old grin spread across her face. Stew in it, Gabby, she thought. Then the smile ran away. What if someone does come on to Gabrielle and she lets her? And she likes it? Oh, yeah, I'm gonna handle that real well. Artemis, protect your warriors, 'cause I'm not gonna be responsible for my actions. I'm gonna be way too drunk!
When Xena and Gabrielle reached the outer perimeter of the Amazon village, they raised their clasped hands over their heads and waited. Within seconds they were surrounded by masked warriors who had literally descended from the trees. As they hit the ground, they went down on one knee.
"Welcome, my Queen, and welcome to you, also, Warrior Princess." The Amazon rose and took off her mask.
"Hi, Solari." Gabrielle motioned for the others to rise.
"How ya doin', Solari?" Xena offered.
A smile lit the girl's features. "We were really overjoyed to hear that you and Queen Gabrielle would be celebrating Spring Festival with us." Solari grasped the warrior's proffered arm in greeting.
"I'm really looking forward to it," the bard said, yesterday's excitement still at its peak.
"Yeah. I wouldn't miss it for the world," Xena added sarcastically.
"Elias, go on ahead and advise Regent Ephiny that I am escorting the Queen and her champion into the village."
"Right away, Solari." The young messenger gave a quick bow of her head toward Gabrielle and went running off through the trees.
"Isn't that the same one that found us yesterday?" Xena asked no one in particular.
"Yes." Solari answered first. "Elias has just finished her warrior training, and for some reason she loves being a messenger. At any rate, she's enthusiastic and strives to please."
"I'll just bet," Xena mumbled under her breath.
Solari and Gabrielle discussed happenings in the village since the Queen had last visited there. Xena plodded along behind, leading Argo by the end of the reins. The closer she got to the village, the more she dreaded the evening's festivities. While the bard snored early that morning, the warrior was able to indulge in a little self-gratification, but, for Xena, that was the equivalent of a drop of water to a parched man. All it had succeeded in doing was heightening her awareness of her sexual deprivation.
Ephiny and Epinon met the group as they entered the village. The bard gave them each an un-royal hug, and they traded arm clasps with Xena.
"Welcome, you two." Ephiny's face wore her true feelings like a banner. Her love for both women shone through so that the two could clearly see how she felt about them.
"I'm really glad you sent for me, Ephiny," Gabrielle bubbled. "I've never presided over a festival before."
"You should really enjoy this one," her Regent responded. "Right, Xena?"
"Yeah. Right," the warrior returned without enthusiasm. Gabrielle frowned up at her, but she didn't notice. "I'm going to put up Argo, Gabrielle. I'll meet you at your hut in a half candlemark."
"Okay, Xena. I'll wait for you so we can eat lunch together."
"Good. See ya, Eph." She turned and led Argo off up the main street.
After lunch in the dining hall, where all the warriors were given the chance to greet their Queen, Gabrielle took herself off to the library. She loved spending time in the building that housed all of the Amazons' scrolls. Normally she would place herself in a window seat and go through the historical and literature scrolls. She would spend candlemarks at a time just learning about her Nation. There was only one woman in the building when she arrived. She was sitting at a table in the center of the room and deeply engrossed in her studies. She didn't notice Gabrielle slipping into the psychology/self-help section. The blond's eyes roamed from title to title trying to find exactly what she was looking for. Finally, she came across a thick scroll entitled, "THE AMAZON WARRIOR AND ACCEPTABLE SEXUAL BEHAVIOUR." She took it over to her favorite window seat and slowly untied it. She settled her back against the wall and spread the scroll over her drawn-up knees. She flipped casually through some of the pages of the scroll and noticed there were illustrations. Her curiosity got the better of her, and she had to study the drawings before reading the text. As she progressed through the illustrations, her jaw dropped lower and lower in astonishment. Gods! She thought. This is amazing! She flipped through some more and came across a particularly intriguing one. After looking at it from every possible angle, she laid the scroll across her lap. "That has got to feel good," she spoke out loud. When she heard her voice echo back to her, she looked around in embarrassment. The student paid her no mind. She took one more prolonged look at the drawing before advancing to the text. She felt a tightening and a tingle between her legs. If she had been alone, she had no doubt her hands would have been very busy. Guess they'd notice if I tore this page out.
Xena, on the other hand, had talked Ephiny into sparring with her after the midday meal. Ephiny always looked forward to a little battle action with Xena, because she knew then she was fighting with the best there was. There was no way she would tell the warrior no.
"Which weapon would you prefer, Xena, sword or staff?" Ephiny asked.
"Why don't you make the call? I really don't have a preference."
"How about flipping a dinar?" Ephiny reached inside a little leather pouch she wore around her waist and pulled out a coin.
"Sounds good. Heads it's swords; tails it's staffs. Okay?" She thought a good spar might improve her deteriorating mood.
"Okay." Ephiny tossed the coin. "Call it in the air, Xena."
The dark-haired warrior raised her eyes to follow the coin's progress upward. "Heads."
The coin hit the dirt with a soft thud. "Heads it is," Ephiny said, bending down to pick up her dinar.
Xena smiled and drew her sword slowly out of its scabbard, giving Ephiny time to replace her coin and draw her own sword. She took on her battle stance and grinned at the Amazon. Ephiny grinned in return, waving her sword slowly back and forth and egging Xena on. Obviously, the Amazon wanted to take a defensive position at first. Xena obliged her by swinging her sword across her body from the right. Ephiny brought her blade down and parried the blow. The young Amazon Warrior laughed. She and Xena walked around each other, never looking away from the other's eyes.
"Ai-Ya!" Xena yelled as she swung from the left causing Ephiny to bring her blade down again. As she did, Xena pulled her swing. This made Ephiny's sword go straight to the ground, and the dark-haired warrior lunged forward. Ephiny was not new to fighting with Xena. She stepped back with her right foot, taking the frontal body position away from the older woman.
"No, no, no, Xena," Ephiny teased.
Xena stood back and laughed. She had her battle smile on as she said to Ephiny, "Come on." She beckoned with her finger. "Come on and get me." She spread her legs and began doing figure eights with her blade.
Ephiny grinned and lunged forward. "You asked for it, Warrior." Xena parried, and the Amazon twirled around backward and placed a back-kick to Xena's stomach.
"Oof!" Xena exhaled audibly but regained her balance quickly. "Dirty, Eph. Very dirty." She laughed and swung her blade around her head before bringing it down and lunging forward again. Once again, Ephiny spun away.
Xena saw her advantage. Her warrior instinct kicked in, and she let it take over. She was already putting herself into a backward spin, and while Ephiny was standing sideways, she placed a kick behind her knees and knocked her feet out from under her. She hit the ground on her back. Xena stood over the Amazon with the sword blade at her throat. "Had enough, Amazon?" The grin was on the mouth, but the smile was not in the eyes.
Ephiny looked up at the intimidating warrior and frowned. "Hey, Xen, I'm a friend. Remember?" Xena's blade was resting right against the hollow of her throat. " "Sweet mother of Zeus! What's your problem? This was supposed to be fun."
"Fighting is serious business, Eph. You of all people know that."
"Of course I do, but you need to back off."
Xena finally came to herself and realized she had her friend on the ground with a sword at her throat. She stepped back and sheathed her blade. Leaning down, she reached a hand out to Ephiny. "I'm sorry, Eph. I don't know what's come over me the past couple of days."
Ephiny took the proffered hand and got to her feet. Brushing the dirt off her clothes, she looked up at the frowning warrior woman. "Man, you need to get laid or something."
"You're absolutely right, Eph. That happens to be exactly what I need." Xena sank down to her haunches and sifted some dirt through her fingers.
Ephiny joined her, worried about her friend. "Want to talk about it? You and Gabrielle have a fight or something?"
"No, we didn't have a fight."
" So, how long has it been since "
Xena raised her head and smiled at her friend. "About seven moons."
"Whoa! Another four moons, and you're technically a virgin again," Ephiny exclaimed, sitting down in the dirt. "Why's she holding out on you? Don't tell me she doesn't like sex." Ephiny laughed a little nervously. "I would think a roll in the hay with you would be quite a lot of fun." There was a hint of a blush on her cheeks.
The dark-haired warrior suddenly realized what was happening here. Ephiny was under the impression that she and Gabrielle were doing the nasty together. "Oh, Eph. You are so far down the wrong road." She shook her head and laughed.
"If she's not holding out on you, why are you so deprived?"
"We don't have that kind of relationship, that's why."
Ephiny's eyes widened, and then she saw a little sadness in the blue eyes that moments before had been so hard. "I'm sorry, Xena. I just naturally assumed "
"Yeah, I think a lot of people do. Actually, it's good they do. It makes it easier to protect her in public places." She looked down at her dirty hands. "Believe me, Ephiny, it's not because I wouldn't want it."
"Let me make a suggestion to you, my friend," Ephiny offered. "Tonight, find yourself a willing soul and release some of that pent-up tension."
Xena laughed without humor. "And just how do you propose I do that? Everyone here treats me like I have the plague."
"Oh-ho, Xena. There isn't a woman here who wouldn't give every weapon they own for a night in your bed," Ephiny corrected.
Xena's eyebrows went up. "Could have fooled me."
"That's 'cause you're not here to hear the way they talk about you when you're away. You'd have some woman grinning from here 'til Solstice if you picked her up tonight." Ephiny's eyes gleamed with good-natured mischief.
Xena smiled shyly. "Well, it's tempting, I have to admit. Still, it's hard when all I see are green eyes and red-gold hair each time I close my eyes."
Ephiny reached across the small space between them and grasped Xena's wrist. "Just do whatever you feel is right for you, Xen. You're the one with the problem here. Do what you gotta do."
"Sure. Anytime." Ephiny stood up and brushed herself off again. "That's what friends are for, isn't it?"
Xena slowly rose to her feet. "Yeah. Yeah, it is. Sometimes I forget that."
The two warriors had sat in the dirt for at least two candlemarks talking in the sun. That was the longest conversation on one subject that Xena could ever remember having with anyone. The fact was, she had enjoyed being able to get the frustration off her chest with a good friend. She trusted Ephiny implicitly. She knew she wouldn't say anything to anyone else about it. Not even to her Queen.
"What do we wear tonight, Gabrielle, oh Queen of the Amazons?" Xena asked, stepping from the tub wrapped in a large towel. "Is this a formal attire affair?"
The bard was taking some time for a rest before the all-nighter. She lay on her bed with her arms behind her head and one leg crossed over an up-raised knee. "Very casual, Xena. Go as comfortably as you'd like."
"Good. Since I'm supposed to be your protector, I wondered if I was supposed to wear all the armor and stuff." She finished drying her body and walked over to sit on the edge of Gabrielle's bed while she dried her hair.
"Not tonight. The guards have already drawn their lots. There'll be plenty of protection out there. Those that have to work this festival get the next one off." The blond swung her knee back and forth, accidentally kicking Xena in the back.
"Sorry. Didn't mean it." She pulled herself up into a seated position. "Want me to comb your hair out for you?"
The warrior grinned at her. "Yeah."
"Okay. Go get me the comb and then sit down here on the floor where I can reach you." She swung her legs off the bed, and when Xena returned with the comb, she placed herself between them. "Oh, good," the bard remarked as she slid the comb through the long, black tresses, "you used the oil that keeps your hair from tangling."
"Yeah, that stuff's great." The warrior closed her eyes and enjoyed Gabrielle's ministrations. With each pass of the comb, she could feel a little more of the tension leave her body.
"How's that feel?" the young Queen asked, leaning toward the warrior's left ear.
"Okay. I'll take that as it feels good, Gabrielle, please don't stop. Right?" She placed both hands on Xena's shoulders briefly.
Gabrielle continued to comb with a chuckle. "Chatty, as usual."
"Go ahead. Revel. But save some for tonight. You just might get lucky, ya know." She pulled the warrior's head back by a fistful of hair. She smiled when the blue eyes squinted up at her. Shaking an index finger before those blue eyes, she made a stipulation, "You can have all the fun you want, but if you do get some sweet little thing to follow you home tonight, Warrior, you do not I repeat DO NOT use my bed for your fun and frolic."
"What makes you think I'd be interested in a woman in the first place?" Xena just had to run that one up the banner pole to see if Gabrielle would salute it. "After all, you know about Marcus and Hercules and Ulysses and "
"Caesar and Dopey and Sleepy and Sneezy. Hey! This is me you're talking to, Ex-Warlord. You're a woman of many skills, hungers and diversities." She tapped her friend on the head with the comb. "So, don't think you're pulling the sheepskin over my eyes. Given the right signals by some lovely Amazon, you'll be panting like Cerberus at the gates of Tartarus. Admit it."
Mumbling under her breath but grinning inside, Xena replied, "Okay, maybe."
The bard growled in frustration at her thick-headed friend. She finished with Xena's hair and began to absent-mindedly massage her shoulders and neck muscles. The warrior wasn't quite sure why she suddenly rated some silence and a massage, but she wasn't going to call attention to it in case it ended. The bard sat rubbing, and the warrior sat smiling for quite a little time. Then Xena couldn't stand it any longer.
"Gabrielle? Did you find what you were looking for at the library today?" Oh, yeah, torment is good! Xena chewed on the inside of her cheek to keep from laughing right out loud.
"Uh, yeah, I did. Thanks." The bard stopped massaging.
Xena thought she should have kept her mouth shut. No, this is too much fun. "What'd ya learn, Gabrielle?" She turned around and rested her arm on one of the bard's knees. She smiled up at her with her most winning, beatific smile and flashed her baby blues at her.
"Actually uh there are some very educational scrolls in there." She was trying to look anywhere but down at those laughing eyes.
"Yeah? Any with pictures?" The warrior ran a finger up and down the calf of the bard's leg.
Gabrielle jerked her leg away. "There were some educational drawings," she stumbled
"Oh, educational, ya say?"
"Yes, the scroll was written by a healer. Very well written, actually."
"Tell me about the drawings, Gabrielle," Xena continued to taunt.
The blond could feel the heat rising in the area of her body that Xena was sitting so casually against. "Oh, for Hera's sake, Xena! If all you're interested in are the dirty pictures, go check out the scroll for yourself. You'll get more from it than from what I could describe."
"Have to see it to appreciate it, ya mean?"
"Look I have to dress. It's almost time for the feast. Are you going like that?" She pointed to the warrior's towel still adorning her luscious body. Why was I thinking luscious? The bard wondered. Because it is, that's why. Admit it that you think so. Gabrielle sighed. Okay, maybe.
Xena reluctantly rose to her feet, letting the towel fall to the floor. Gabrielle got off the bed and deliberately walked past her friend, pulling her eyes away from the view that was really pretty hard to ignore.
Gabrielle, Ephiny and Aletis the Priestess occupied the dais. The young Queen of the Amazon's throne was flanked by her Regent and the Priestess. Xena stood just behind and to the right of Gabrielle as her rightful protector. At this celebration, however, the only weapon she carried was a dagger at her waist. Fully-armed guards ringed the entire area of the festival. It was now nearly sunset, and these guards would be relieved at midnight by another contingent who would remain until sunrise.
Xena looked down at the bard who was radiant in a forest green short-sleeved tunic and skirt trimmed in gold. Elias, the young messenger, had been given the honor, as the Nation's newest warrior, of holding the Queen's mask following the brief festival rite presided over by the Priestess.
Aletis had offered prayers and the dried stalks from the last autumn's harvest of corn to the Goddess of Fertility in hopes of a good growing season for this year's crops. Three young Amazon girls, who had recently reached womanhood, made a solemn sacrifice of their own. Gabrielle had smiled down on them as she remembered when she herself had made the same offering not all that long ago.
Even with the solemnity of this occasion, Xena couldn't help having lecherous thoughts. Looking on the eager, shining young faces she wondered if any of the three would still be virgins by night's end and thought it highly unlikely. All three were ripe and comely and, she was sure, highly curious. Amazon women educated their daughters early in the art of love in its many forms. Nothing was taboo. Nothing was secret. They were also sent to the library to study, as she had sent Gabrielle that afternoon.
The warrior chuckled to herself when one of the young women, hair and eyes the color of her own, looked up at her as she lay her offering at the feet of the Priestess. A slight smile had formed on the Amazon's face, and Xena had found it hard to look away from the open invitation she saw in the ice-blue eyes. Oh, no, Xena! She had thought. Not on your life. You're not that desperate, and you really hate being first.
The warrior wasn't even aware of the furor she was causing among the gathered Amazon Warriors. There were lots of murmurs and appreciative glances, and she was the subject of them all. Xena was dressed in royal blue tights, which accentuated her thigh and calf muscles, and a matching tunic trimmed in silver. Her freshly-washed dark hair gleamed in the light of the setting sun. Gabrielle had braided the sides of her silken tresses and brought them around to the back of her head to be fastened with a silver ribbon. The rest of the raven hair hung down her back. She was impressive. She was intimidating. She was incredibly beautiful. The gold of the setting sun played in her eyes and on the bronze tan of her bare arms. Her only jewelry was a silver slave bracelet Gabrielle had given her several moons ago. At the time she was confused at the choice of gift, but, lately, she had realized it was fitting. She truly was the Amazon Queen's slave, only the Amazon Queen didn't seem to know it.
The dining tables and benches had been removed from the dining hall and placed in a three-quarter circle around the edges of the large practice arena. In the middle of the arena was the stacked wood for the bonfire. That would be lit after everyone had eaten. Although the food and drink would be available all night long, the initial meal would be eaten all together. Gabrielle, with Xena at her side, would light the bonfire as soon as those at the royal table had finished their meal. Of course, all the Amazons who were anxious for the fire and the dancing were aware of how much Gabrielle could take in at one meal, and they prayed she wouldn't stay at her dinner all night.
The table upon which the food lay still stood upright, although everyone wondered how considering the amount of food which had been placed atop it. There were three different kinds of bread, one being Gabrielle's favorite nutbread. There were baskets of fruits and bowls of vegetables. Platters of venison, lamb and roasted pig sat in the middle. On the end of the table sat a large and a small vat of Amazon-made liquor which everyone, including the youngest, was allowed to partake on this one occasion. The large vat was for the adults, and the smaller vat was of lesser potency. This brew could only be found in an Amazon village on this one night and the following morning, when a hair of the dog was usually a necessity.
Gabrielle filled her plate to overflowing and was handed a mug of liquor by one of her smiling warriors. Ephiny leaned over Gabrielle's shoulder and whispered in her ear.
"I'd be real careful with that, my Queen. If you haven't had it before, just a little can knock you on your butt." Xena was behind Ephiny and didn't hear this bit of advice.
"Really?" Gabrielle responded. "Will it make me brave and bold?"
Ephiny laughed. "Oh, yeah, it will definitely make you brave and bold. You'll be ten feet tall and arrow-proof. At least for tonight."
"Good," the bard remarked as she took her plate and mug and headed for the royal table.
The only ones at the royal table were Gabrielle, Ephiny, Xena, Aletis and Elias. The table sat at the north end of the arc where the royal diners had a clear view of all the other celebrants. It was perfect for being able to watch the bonfire and the dancing. Xena was seated between Gabrielle and Aletis. Ephiny was to the Queen's right.
It was now dusk and torches had been lit and stuck in braces attached to the trunks of the trees surrounding the practice arena. The arena was no place for a serious discussion. Children's happy laughter and the boisterous conversations of the adults made an incredible din. Torchlight danced in Gabrielle's green eyes. She was having the time of her life, and the festival had only just begun. Xena kept glancing over at her and had to smile in spite of her misgivings of the evening's shenanigans to come.
The Queen had two more rituals to perform before she, too, could relax and just let the evening take her away. She needed to light the bonfire, and she had to grant three requests of Elias, her newest warrior. She stood at her place when everyone was seated with their food and drink. Ephiny called their attention to the royal table.
Gabrielle gestured for Elias to come before her. The young warrior rose from her seat and walked to the front of the royal table, stopping before her Queen. She dropped to one knee and bowed her head.
"Rise, Warrior. What is it you would ask of your Queen on this Spring Festival Night?" Gabrielle asked with due ceremony. "You may have three requests granted."
Elias, pale hair shining in the torchlight, smiled up at Gabrielle as she rose to her feet. "My Queen, my first request would be that I be allowed to serve as your special messenger to be sent to you whenever you are needed by your Nation."
"You wish to serve me in that manner?" The young Queen asked.
"Yes, my Queen."
"Granted. What is your second request?" Gabrielle rested her knuckles on the table and leaned a little forward.
Xena thought that Gabrielle was well-suited to queenship. She was very good at this reigning stuff.
"My Queen, my second request is that I be allowed to have the first dance of the evening with you."
Xena coughed lightly behind her hand, surprised at the audacity of the young Amazon. She was playing her hand very well, though, the warrior thought.
"Granted. What is your third request?" Gabrielle was thinking how cute Elias was, and she really wasn't all that much younger than she was herself.
"My Queen, I have no third request."
Ephiny and Xena exchanged raised eyebrows. Gabrielle seemed to have no expression at all. She didn't know what she should do. The warrior was entitled to three requests, and Ephiny had told her the new warriors always seemed to have them. Now, here was one who had no precedent. Gabrielle turned to Ephiny with a question in her eyes.
Ephiny stood beside her Queen, "Elias, excuse us a moment. Don't leave."
Elias nodded her head in response to the command of the Regent, and Gabrielle and Ephiny turned to one another to have a short conference. "What do we do in this case, Eph?" Gabrielle asked.
"Well, it's never come up before, but I believe, if my memory serves me correctly, the Queen has the option of bestowing a personal gift upon the warrior. It can be something tangible or it can be an honor. It's up to you to decide."
Gabrielle chewed on the inside of her cheek, wondering what she should do. She wanted time to think about it. She turned her attention back to the flaxen-haired Amazon. "Elias, in view of the fact that you do not have a third request to ask of me, I must decide to either give you a personal gift or bestow a special honor upon you."
"Either would be very agreeable, my Queen," the young woman responded.
"Very well. I ask that you give me a little time to decide which I should do. You aren't very greedy, since you couldn't think of a third request." Gabrielle laughed, and there was much accompanying laughter from around the dining tables. Elias simply smiled at her. "One thing I think I'm very grateful for, is that for one of your requests you didn't ask to be allowed to fight my champion."
Elias wore a broader smile. "I value my life, my Queen. I would not be able to serve as your special messenger or have the first dance with you if I were dead."
Xena pursed her lips and grinned. Finally, one who knows her limitations, she thought.
"That is so true, Elias," Gabrielle agreed with a chuckle. "So, please, give me a little time, and I will decide what should take the place of your third request."
Elias bowed to her again. "Please, my Queen, don't feel any need to rush your decision. I'm perfectly content with what I've been granted. Anything more is an added bonus."
This kid is smooth, thought Xena. And she sure knows how to play Gabrielle. Devoted. Loyal. Undemanding. These things get my friend's sensitivity juices flowing.
They all returned to their meals for the next half candlemark. By that time, it was full dark and mugs were being banged on tabletops, requesting that the Queen light the bonfire so the dancing could start. People had already been hitting the vat more than once, and they were ready for the rowdier festivities to begin. They had all maintained their decorum for long enough.
Ephiny turned to Gabrielle. "I really think you and Xena should go and light the fire under that stack of wood before these Amazons light a fire under their Queen."
Gabrielle giggled. "I guess you're right. On the one night where they drink the most and the best, I really don't want to get on their bad side."
"Wise, my Queen. Very wise." Ephiny smiled and turned her attention back to her own mug.
Gabrielle whispered in Xena's ear. They both stood and the warrior grabbed the torch from the brace in the tree behind her, and, together, they made their way to the center of the arena. Cheers and whistles erupted from the tables surrounding the woodpile. Xena placed the torch in Gabrielle's hand and she leaned down, setting the flame to the straw at the base of the pile. With a whoosh, the straw caught fire and flamed high. Gabrielle jumped back Raising the torch over her head, she said so all could hear, "I declare this the start of the Spring Festival Night festivities."
Female voices erupted in a loud roar and drumbeats began to the right where the musicians had stationed themselves. Several women came out into the arena and began to dance. Others stood in line at the vat awaiting another mug of Amazon liquor. Still, a number of women took small children in tow and headed to the dining hall where two warriors were bedding them down and watching over them for the night.
"Now the fun begins, Gabrielle," Xena commented as she walked the Queen back to her seat.
"Oh, I know. I can hardly wait. Xena, would you get me another mug of whatever that is?" The warrior looked down at her green-eyed friend with a questioning raise of the eyebrow. "Please?" Gabrielle had that smile in her eyes that the warrior could never resist.
"Alright, but you take it easy on that stuff." Xena leaned down to pick up her mug and Gabrielle's.
"But it tastes so good," the bard replied.
"Uh-huh. You'll find that the liquors that taste the best are the most deadly," she warned.
Gabrielle looked at her with that face of innocence. "Well, this is your third trip."
Xena laughed. "Oh, yes, Gabrielle, and I'm just getting started." She looked into the green eyes that smiled up at her. "I'll be sleeping right here on this bench tonight, 'cause I'm not gonna be able to walk by the end of this evening."
"Gee, Xena, you don't usually get that drunk without a pretty good reason," the blond said, frowning up at her companion. "Is there something wrong that you're not telling me about?"
"No, nothing's wrong. Even if there were, tonight's not the night to go into it. We're here to have fun, and I'm gonna have some fun if it kills me." The warrior took both mugs and stomped off to the table holding the liquor. Gabrielle looked after her, not having seen her like this for awhile.
By the time Xena had made it through the line of women waiting for drinks and had come back to the table, Gabrielle had disappeared. Taking her seat on the bench, she stretched her long legs out under the table and leaned her head back against the tree for support. Having a long torso had its benefits. She took a long swallow from her mug and rested it on her stomach. She searched the area for Gabrielle and finally saw her dancing with Elias near the bonfire. So, the Queen's messenger has claimed her dance. She watched them fraternize as she drank her ale or wine or whatevertheHades this stuff was. Wonder what Gabrielle's going to give the girl for her third wish, she thought sarcastically.
When the dance ended, Elias escorted Gabrielle back to her seat and bowed to her. She was very respectful, so no fault could be found with her behaviour. However, it wasn't because Xena wasn't looking for it. She remained leaning against the tree, now perusing the inside of her empty mug.
"Xena, are you going to dance with me tonight?" Gabrielle asked a little as though she were testing the waters.
"Gabrielle, you know I don't do dancing."
"Not even on Spring Festival Night?" the bard cajoled.
"Not even on Spring Festival Night. I will watch out for you, and I will escort you anywhere you want to go, but I don't dance."
"Too bad. You'd look wonderful out there, and I know that it isn't because you don't know how to dance. Since you are, after all, a woman of many skills, I'm sure dancing is one of them." Gabrielle drank from her mug and smacked her lips. She did notice that her ears rang a little, but she was feeling really good.
"Yes, I do know how to dance pretty well, if I do say so myself. Somehow I feel a little out of my element, however. Maybe it's my size. Nothing is more distracting to others than a very tall, female warrior dancing among smaller people." Xena burped, making room for more. She slowly gathered her body together from under the table and stood, a little unsteadily. She picked up Gabrielle's mug and made her way back to the vat.
"How's it going, Gabrielle?" Ephiny asked as she approached the table with her arm around Solari.
"It's going nicely. I just wish I could get Xena more involved. She seems to just want to sit there and drink."
"Well, everyone finds their enjoyment in different things. You like to dance and tell stories, and Xena likes to drink." Solari leaned over and took a nibble of Ephiny's ear, making her visibly shudder. "Sol, you shouldn't be doing that in front of the Queen," she lightly reprimanded.
"Oh, pooh. Gabrielle doesn't care, do you?" Solari had had a few.
"Of course not," she said, laughing at her two friends. "Isn't that what tonight's all about?"
"There see, Big Bad Regent. Gabrielle encourages love and goodwill among her people." Solari took another nibble and added a lick along the side of Ephiny's neck.
Gabrielle laughed again. "You two need to get a room."
"Not yet, my Queen. Besides, who needs a room when we have the whole outdoors?" Solari was eloquent tonight. She didn't normally speak a lot, but now Gabrielle saw that if wined enough, she got quite prolific. "Isn't that right, my little honeysuckle?"
Ephiny rolled her eyes at Gabrielle. "See what I have to put up with at Spring Festival?"
"Yes, I can see why you'd have reason to complain. A roll in the leaves with a very attractive Amazon Warrior?" Gabrielle tapped her finger on her chin as she thought. "Yes, that would be extremely difficult to handle."
"What would be difficult to handle?" Xena asked, coming up behind the two warriors with Gabrielle's full mug in her hand. She placed it on the table near the bard.
"Ephiny seems to feel that a little you know in the woods is more than she cares to deal with." Gabrielle's eyes were alight with humor.
"Well, I guess we all have to draw the line somewhere." Xena retook her seat and leaned toward Ephiny. "Tell ya what? If you don't want her, and she's still looking for some action later, come get me, ok?"
It was a good thing Ephiny saw the glint in the warrior's eyes and knew her friend's warped sense of humor, or she would have decked her then and there. Liquored up or no. "Warrior Princess," she countered, "I suggest you get your own girl for the night."
She led Solari off in the direction of the dancers, and Gabrielle took a quiet moment to study Xena's profile. The warrior was busy watching the dancers through glazed eyes. She chuckled to herself. Xena's had about a half dozen of these mugs of whateverinTartarus this is, and she's pretty well potted. She's so cute when she's drunk. She took a bolder look at the strong features, the elongated body which showed so many soft lines and curves through the softer clothes. She liked seeing Xena in something other than her armor and leather, although she really did like the leather. Gods, Xena! If you're looking for someone to play with later, why don't you ask me? I wouldn't mind running several parts of my anatomy over your body. She shivered with the mental picture of it. The first thing that came to her mind was the illustration she had seen in the scroll. Sweat started beading up on her forehead and above her lip. It's not that warm out here, why am I sweating?
The warrior turned her head slowly toward her friend. "Hm-m?"
The firelight shone in the blue eyes, making them dark and mysterious. How Gabrielle wished she could dive into them. She noticed she was sweating even more. "Nothing."
"Nothing? Gabrielle, you never have 'nothing' to say. What's on your mind?" She took another drink from her mug.
"I just wanted to let you know what a great time I'm having."
The warrior gave her a lopsided grin. "I'm real glad, Gabrielle. I'm real glad you are."
"I wish you were having a better time."
"What makes you think I'm not having a good time?" Xena frowned at her.
"Well, you look a little sad. You're not dancing or mingling with the others, and you've said very little."
"You know me. Not a woman of many words, and I don't mingle."
Gabrielle on impulse reached out and brushed some hair back off Xena's neck with her finger. The warrior reached up and grabbed the bard's hand and held it as she looked into dark, emerald eyes. Slowly she brought the knuckles up to her lips and brushed them softly. The Amazon Queen felt a tingle like lightening crackling across the sky go up her arm and down her body to the tender area between her legs. She felt the wetness again like she had the night before. Now, she knew for certain that Xena was the cause. Every time she thought about that illustration in the scroll, she saw Xena in the picture. Then the moment passed, and the warrior gently placed her hand down on the table. Gabrielle just sighed and noticed Elias standing by herself watching the dancers by the fire. For some reason, she decided to go and talk to her. She was still thinking about what to bestow on her messenger as her third gift. And still thinking about the knuckle kiss Xena had just given her.
Xena, still slumped on her bench with her somewhat fuzzy head against the tree, watched the bard walk toward the fire and the wheaten-haired Amazon. She frowned and took another long draught of her drink. The mug returned to the table with a forceful thunk. Xena pursed her lips and took on the persona of the brooding warrior.
Although the dancers were only silhouettes against the backdrop of the roaring bonfire, Xena could easily make out Elias and Gabrielle because of their fairness. Her eyes were drawn to them again and again, like a moth to a flame. Like a tongue to a sensitive tooth.
Elias had asked the Queen if she would like to dance again, and the bard could no more say no to her than throw herself into the fire. The rhythm of this dance was slower and more sensual. The frenzied music would come later in the evening, but Gabrielle would not have known that. Her special messenger smiled at her constantly as they danced, and the bard found herself being mesmerized by pale blue eyes. Elias had a firm, compact body tucked inside her Amazon garb. Gabrielle was becoming very aware of its fascination as Elias spun and dipped, stretched and swayed to the pounding of the drums. Gabrielle would be the first to admit that she was not the best dancer, but Elias definitely was in her element and the young Queen thoroughly enjoyed watching her as she herself just stood and swayed to the music. The platinum blond warrior suddenly threw her head back and laughed. She spun, took one hop closer to Gabrielle and dropped to her haunches. Reaching up, she grasped the surprised Queen's hips with both hands and commenced to slide her body slowly up along Gabrielle's until she again stood swaying in front of her. Her hands still on the bard's hips, she leaned forward and placed a soft kiss on her lips. Gabrielle nearly choked on her intake of breath. Elias pulled her head back, never breaking the sensuous body contact. She thought she saw a look of encouragement in her Queen's eyes. At least it was not a look of discouragement. She grasped Gabrielle's hands in her own and placed them around her neck. Leaning forward, she regained the soft lips in a slower, more intense kiss. Requesting admission with her tongue, she was pleased and a little surprised when it was granted. She replaced her hands on Gabrielle's hips and pulled her tightly against her own as they continued to dance. Gabrielle allowed her tongue to play lightly with Elias' and found it very much to her liking. The only problem was, with her eyes closed, all she could see was a strong face with dark hair and electric blue eyes. At any rate, she and Elias were going to have to move farther away from the fire. It was getting much too warm.
Elias slowly released the Queen's mouth and her body. "Thank you, my Queen, for the gift."
Gabrielle stood fixed to the ground trying to regain some of her composure. "You're you're welcome," she stammered.
"May I escort you back to your seat?" Elias offered her arm.
"Yes. Yes, of course." Gabrielle took the proffered arm. She needed it. Between the drink and the new physical sensations, her legs were none too steady.
On Xena's last trip to the vat, she had filled two mugs so that she wouldn't have to go back so often. Especially now that it was getting so much more difficult to negotiate between her bench and the table and back. As she watched Elias escort Gabrielle back across the arena, she started on her second of the two mugs. What in Tartarus does that one have that I don't? She wondered. Gee, Xena, that's really hard to figure out, isn't it? She's younger, better looking and hasn't killed anyone. She's never been a murdering warlord, and she knows the social graces. Face it, Xena, you're just a big, dumb warrior.
Gabrielle sat back down on the bench next to Xena, and Elias bowed, smiled and placed a kiss on the bard's hand. Before leaving, she acknowledged the older woman. "Xena," she said in a soft, friendly tone.
"Elias," the warrior allowed. Her eyes followed the blond as she made her way to the food table. She then looked over at Gabrielle with a smile. "Enjoying yourself, Queenie?"
Gabrielle's face lit up like a Solstice bush. "Oh, Xena, I am having so much fun!" She noticed her mug was still half full. She thought a drink might put out the fire raging throughout her body. She giggled a little as she looked into the warrior's slightly unfocused blue eyes. "Xena, how many of these have you had?"
Xena smiled a lopsided smile. "Oh, seven or ten. I've lost count."
"Warrior, don't you think you've had enough?"
"Hades no! I'm still conscious and upright." She looked down at her half-reclining position and re-evaluated. "Well, somewhat upright," she amended.
Gabrielle shook her head. "Somehow I don't think you're having a very good time."
Xena laughed low in her throat. "Oh, but I am, my Queen. Dining and dancing is how you have your good time, and drinking is how I have mine."
"You won't be having such a good time in the morning," Gabrielle warned her sloshed friend.
"Ah, nothing to it." She passed it off with a wave of her hand. "A half candlemark in the mineral springs, a cup of willowbark tea and another mug of this stuff, and I'll be happier than a warlord in a roomful of virgins."
Gabrielle thought about that remark for a heartbeat. "Uh, Xena? You were once a warlord. Were you ever in a roomful of virgins?" She gazed at her friend over the rim of her mug.
Xena grinned a toothy grin and waggled her eyebrows. "The answer to that is yes."
"And were they still virgins when they left?"
If possible, Xena's grin grew wider. "Not all of them." Oh, the bard was so wonderful to tease.
"So, you have been with women." Gabrielle looked away from the teasing blue eyes.
Xena realized the conversation had taken a sudden turn to the serious. "Yes," she replied softly.
"Hm-m," Gabrielle said absent-mindedly. Xena wondered what that meant.
Xena noticed Eponin and another warrior talking at the very end of the next table. Their heads were close together, their arms around one another. Gods! That looks so good. I really need to kiss somebody. Anybody.
Suddenly her eyes flew wide open as she became aware of an urgent need. The seven or ten mugs of liquor that she had consumed were desperately seeking a way out, and they wanted out right now. "Ooh!" she exclaimed, doing her best to quickly get to her feet.
"Are you all right?" Gabrielle asked, noting the frantic actions of her friend.
"Oh, yeah," Xena said, dancing away from her seat. "I just gotta ." She clamped both hands between her legs and staggered behind the trees.
Gabrielle raised her eyebrows at her fast-moving friend and giggled. "Hope everything comes out all right, Xena," she threw back in that direction. She's so cute when she's drunk, Gabrielle thought for the second time that night.
Xena had just managed to wriggle out of her tights and get squatted before the flood gates opened. She closed her eyes and moaned. The second best thing to an orgasm is a really good pee when you have to go this badly, she mused. Gods! It felt heavenly. As she retained her position, she heard a groan off to her left. She wondered if someone were ill. Trying to make her eyes adjust to the darker area, she opened them wide and stared off in the direction of the sound. Finally, in the moonlight filtering down through the trees, she could see two women. She couldn't make out who they were, but she could see one had her back to her and apparently had a calf and a foot growing out of her butt. Xena shook her head. That isn't right, she thought. In a couple more seconds her eyes were more accustomed to the night, and she turned her attention back to the two only a few yards away from her. She heard the groan again and realized that the other woman was backed against a tree, and it was her calf and foot she saw wrapped around the other form. Oh, my! The warrior thought. I really shouldn't be watching this. But, of course, she remained crouched in the bushes. She grabbed a handful of leaves from the bush, never taking her eyes off the two who were both becoming more audible. Suddenly, the name Ephiny rang into the night. "Dog shit!" cursed Xena under her breath. She wouldn't be seeing Solari later after all. She proceeded to dry herself, and when the leaves rubbed against her sensitive center, she jumped. She hesitated a moment, touching herself with her fingers. "No! No way! I am not going to resort to this," she muttered. She stood and pulled up her tights, which she realized now really were tight. They made walking very uncomfortable. She weaved her way back to the table and sat down gingerly.
"All better?" Gabrielle asked.
Xena gave her a sheepish grin. "Yeah, thanks."
"Thanks? Why are you thanking me?"
Was this a trick question? "Because you were concerned enough to ask. I uh appreciate that."
The bard raised an eyebrow a la Xena and wondered what in Tartarus was wrong with her friend. Gotta be the liquor.
The warrior took the dagger from her belt and began cleaning her fingernails by torchlight.
"Not a good idea, that," Gabrielle said softly.
Xena looked up at the young woman and saw a strange look in her green eyes. They looked kind of soft and misty. Not a look she could remember the bard having given her before. Gotta be the liquor, she thought. Still, Gabrielle was probably right. She shouldn't be handling the business end of a knife in her present drunken state. To appease the bard, she smiled and stuck the point of the dagger in the bench between them. She folded her hands over her stomach and looked over to where Eponin now had her ladyfriend seated on the tabletop. She stood between her legs, kissing her in a manner that Xena could feel clear down to her toes. Unlike Ephiny and Solari, the warrior could see these two very clearly. It was harder to ignore. Xena was already aroused from the encounter in the bushes. As she watched her Amazon friend with her mate, she groaned from deep in her chest. She tried closing her eyes, but that played havoc with her equilibrium so she opened them again.
Gabrielle sat with her mug to her lips, watching Xena fight for control. The warrior was fighting a losing battle, she could tell as her friend's eyes kept roving over to Epinon and her woman. The Queen was not immune to the need to watch the unabashed lovers, either. She saw the seated Amazon clasp her legs around Epinon's back and begin rocking her hips against her stomach. The kisses they were sharing were driving Gabrielle out of her mind. When Epinon freed her lover's breasts from their leather halter and bent her head to them, both Gabrielle and Xena groaned at the same time.
The bard closed her eyes for just a moment to gather her senses again. She was aware of a slight pain in her breasts where they rubbed against her tunic. There was also that throbbing discomfort between her legs. Zeus! This is unbearable, she thought. She stole a glance at Xena and saw that her eyes were glued to the two lovers at the other table. Then she was aware of the motion of her friend's right arm. Looking down, she saw where the hand and wrist had disappeared beneath the table.
Suddenly the Amazon Queen felt a sharp jolt hit her in the stomach, from what she didn't know. After the initial kick, it was gone. What in Tartarus was that?!
Xena couldn't take her eyes off the coupling pair at the next table. She felt somehow connected. She felt Epinon's tongue on her hardened nipples. She felt her own hot center rub against the leather of the Amazon's tunic. Dear Gods! She spread her legs wider apart and plunged her right hand down between them. The tight fabric was soaked with her arousal and stuck to her. She could feel the swell of her sexual center pressed tightly against her thumb. She rubbed it gently and felt the juices flow out of her body. She closed her eyes for a second. Suddenly there was a bright burst of light. She opened her eyes quickly and saw a beautiful, voluptuous woman in a diaphonous pink gown sitting on the table in front of her.
"Hi, Xena, Warrior Babe."
"Aphrodite, what in Tartarus do you want?" she asked, annoyed at the interruption of her self-gratification.
"Tsk, tsk. Such a waste of beautiful flesh," she said, looking down where the warrior's hand disappeared beneath the table. The goddess reached out and touched her cheek. "Don't worry. No one can hear us."
"You didn't answer my question," Xena growled.
"Ooh, we are testy. You need a good romp in the bushes, Warrior Pumpkin."
"Not with you, I don't." Xena's hand had stilled but had not left its target.
"You are like so blind, Warrior Cupcake. I came to help you out, but you are so uncooperative." Aphrodite pouted a little.
"So, just what were ya gonna do for me, huh?" Xena glared.
"You're like so unappreciative, I'm going to help someone else instead." 'Dite tossed her blond head in righteous indignation. "Someone wants your love, only Zeus knows why. I'm gonna see that she gets it. But only for tonight. After that, Warrior Poopsie, you are so on your own." She looked toward Gabrielle, snapped her fingers and then was gone.
I'm seeing goddesses now. Xena closed her eyes again and let her fingers take up where they'd left off. Gotta be the liquor. Her breathing was becoming a bit ragged, and she had always hated rushing an orgasm. She slowed down the play of her fingers.
When Gabrielle had recovered from the unexpected invisible punch to the stomach, she glanced back over at Xena, who was still very busy under the table. Desperate times call for desperate measures, she decided. She'd had enough of waiting. If the mountain won't come to Mohammed, then Mohammed will go to the mountain. Looking over at her long friend's beautiful face, she thought with a grin, And this is a mountain! "Xena." No response. Ok. I tried to warn you.
Suddenly, Xena's eyes shot open again as she felt a hand grasp her wrist and gently place her hand on her thigh. She tried to see under the table, but it was too dark. She felt a tug on the fabric of her tights, and a whispered command came up to her. "If you know what's good for you, do not move." She sat stock still, hardly daring to breathe. A blast of cool air hit the enflamed skin between her legs. She jumped at the sensation.
She saw a hand snake up from under the table and saw the dagger laid gently on the bench. The hand then disappeared. Whew! Glad I didn't move! She heard a soft growl emerge from the shadows and then, incredibly, felt the silkiness of a tongue slowly make its way from the bottom to the top of her slit. It stopped for a moment to lightly encircle the opening once or twice, and Xena thought she would jump out of her skin. The tongue flicked the swollen button several times before it was claimed by a softly sucking mouth. The warrior moaned low and bucked her hips against the very welcome intruder. She felt her legs being spread wider by unseen hands. One finger was placed inside the opening where fresh juices flowed freely from the warrior.
"Oh, Gods!" Xena exclaimed. "More!"
On her command, three fingers drove themselves deep inside her body, and she pushed her hips down to meet the thrust and drive it deeper. The tongue was still making mad dashes across and around her stiffened nub. The warrior was almost crying she was in such ecstasy. It had been so long since she'd felt such sensations. Her hands went to her own breasts and squeezed and pulled on the taut nipples. She ran one hand up underneath her tunic so she could feel the flesh with her fingers.
The whisper came again from under the table. "I want to see, Warrior."
Xena would grant her phantom lover anything she demanded at this point. She raised her tunic to expose her breasts and again grasped the painfully hard nipples, wishing for the attention of soft lips. "That's very nice," said the voice.
The unseen mouth began to suck on the warrior's center in earnest as its owner watched Xena play with her own breasts and saw the beautiful head move from side to side against the bark of the tree. Xena's hips were riding the hand hard and fast, and groans fell constantly from parched lips. The mouth of her unseen lover alternated between licks and sucks until it became obvious that the warrior was very close to exploding all over the face she couldn't see. Xena cried out and bucked hard twice. As she did, her button was taken deeply into the warm, moist mouth and sucked so hard she thought it would be swallowed. That was all it took. Her hips came up off the bench, and her sex slammed into the face of her mystery lover as she cried out. "Gabrielle!"
Gabrielle was reveling in the smell of her warrior. She was so wet, she thought as she cut away the fabric of the blue tights. Much easier than trying to pull them down. She placed the knife back on the bench as she peeled the cut-away flap from between her friend's sodden center. Oh, yes! I've never seen this before, and it is glorious. She tasted the nectar that fairly ran out of her champion. She ran her tongue over every square inch of Xena's heretofore hidden treasure. She let her tongue make lazy circles around the tender opening and then up to brush her clitoris. The response was music to the bard's ears. Peeking up, she could see Xena's face framed in torchlight. My Gods! She is the most beautiful creature I have ever seen. When the young Queen entered her friend with one finger, Xena made it perfectly clear it wasn't enough to satisfy. Very well, my love, I'll give you more. Gabrielle watched, enthralled, when Xena began to fondle her own breasts. It excited her so much that she begged to be allowed to see them. Surprisingly, the warrior accommodated her. How beautiful was all the bard could think of as she watched strong hands grasp full, firm breasts. Gabrielle so wanted to suck on those hard nipples, but she had her mouth full as it was, she thought, chuckling to herself.
When Xena's movements became more forceful, Gabrielle tried to increase her intensity to match. She wanted to please this woman she loved so much. She would just follow her lead and pray it was enough.
Soon. Much too soon, Xena's movements became harder to handle. Gabrielle was trying to hang on. She let Xena ride her hand and face as she used more force. The bard was giddy at the sight of the bare, bronze breasts and the smell of musk and sandalwood. Suddenly, she felt the warrior leap off the bench and ram her pelvis into her face. Ouch! Then she heard the most glorious sound.
"Gabrielle!" the warrior cried out again as the spasms began to subside and she could again take a breath.
"Yes, Xena," Gabrielle responded, sliding up the warrior's body from under the table. She lay herself down on the half-reclining torso of the woman she so wanted as a lover.
Xena slowly opened her eyes and looked down at the upturned face with the shining emerald eyes and the red-gold hair. "You," she said.
"Yes. Me." Gabrielle's face was between Xena's breasts, and she couldn't help herself. She took one nipple into her mouth and sucked gently as her hand found the other. Xena's intake of breath was the sweetest sound. The warrior didn't stop her for some little time, so she let herself become immersed in the feel and the scent of the woman.
Xena gazed down on the head at her breast. She felt the soft tongue, the small teeth as they nibbled on the tender bud. She could also feel the heat building up again in her loins. Oh, no, Gabrielle. Not again, she thought as she grasped the smaller body and drew her up so they were face to face.
"I need to kiss you," the warrior said huskily. It was the sound of desire, and the bard hoped to hear it many times more.
Xena placed her hand behind the young Queen's head and guided her to the waiting mouth. There was nothing gentle about the kiss. They were both beyond that. Lips pressed hard against each other; tongues thrust halfway down throats, sucking and tasting each other. This was cold hunger and hot need.
Gabrielle's hips pressed into the warrior's stomach and she groaned. Xena remembered how she had felt a short while ago, and assumed correctly that the bard was feeling all that now. As their kiss deepened, the warrior reached down to touch her friend where she never had before. No undergarments. So wet. Gabrielle accidentally bit down on Xena's tongue as she felt strong fingers touch her most intimate place.
The warrior pulled away sharply. "Ow!"
"I'm sorry, Xena." Gabrielle stroked the side of the warrior's face. "Then again. That pays you back for pushing your thing into my nose."
Xena smiled and returned her fingers to the soft, wet area and stroked gently. Gabrielle's head snapped back with a moan. She began to move against the warrior's hand. Xena stopped. "No, Gabrielle."
"Huh?" The bard looked up with pain and questions in her eyes.
Xena kissed the tip of her nose. "I don't want your first time to be like this." She gestured to the area around them. "I want to lay you down on soft sheets and expose your body to my eyes, my hands and my mouth." She separated each phrase with a kiss. "Are you ready for bed yet?"
"Yes, Xena." The words were soft and there was a tremble in the voice.
Xena passed her thumb over Gabrielle's cheek, and it came away wet. "Tears?"
"I'm sorry, Xena. I can't help it. You don't know how badly I've wanted this."
Xena chuckled as she gave the young woman a squeeze. "Well, I believe I just found out." The warrior helped Gabrielle to her feet and followed her up. She replaced the knife in her belt. "Gabrielle, grab that mug. I'm gonna need it in the morning."
The bard giggled as she picked it up. She placed her arm around Xena's waist and helped steer her toward the Queen's hut. On the way, they passed Ephiny and Solari.
"Good one, Gabrielle. We heard that clear over here," Ephiny joked.
"Well, I guess we found out that an Amazon Queen beats a Warrior Princess," the bard said, laughing.
"Not so fast, Queenie," Xena cut in, sticking her tongue in Gabrielle's ear. In that husky tone of voice, she alerted the shuddering Amazon Queen, "The night is just beginning." This is one time I'm not going to mind being first, she thought as, with a smile, she ushered Gabrielle through the door of their hut.
No leafy bushes or bards were actually harmed by warriors or goddesses in the writing of this story.
This Is Story No. 1 - September, 1998
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