by Marion D Tuttle

Standard disclaimers I don't own the characters, I do own the story, It wasn't written for profit but for fun and to give an outlet to my over active imagination

If the thought of love and sex between two women is offensive to you, then you don't want to read this. But if your mind and heart have been liberated from restraints the general public places on things read on and enjoy.

The dark warrior rode her mount along the beach watching the pounding surf as they waged their eternal battle against the rocks and sand of the shore. The force of the water striking the sand seemed to closely parallel the warring emotions that where raging within her.
Despair threatened to over take her; Xena always was in control. She had never before encountered a problem that she had not been able to find a solution to. But this was different. For the first time in her life the warrior princess was at a loss as to what she could do.

Sighing in resignation Xena headed back towards to campsite where she had left Gabrielle, her friend knew some of the inner turmoil Xena had been feeling but even she didn't know how deep the conflict went. Every fiber of the warrior's being told her there was going to be no easy way out of this, there never was with Ares.
As Xena walked back into the campsite leading Argo Gabrielle could see the tension in her friend. Sinking down onto the log Xena stared with sightless eyes into the fire. She released a breath feeling as though she had been holding it forever.

"He wants me you know" she continued on "He won't rest until I am his. This last challenge may just be the one I can't meet." Gabrielle turned away slightly, she knew she could help Xena she just had to find a way to make the warrior see it.
Lost in thought both women fell silent the past 2 ½ moons had taken their toll. Xena had gone to battle against Ares to save a village against one of the God of Wars never ending campaigns. A last minute twist in the battle had left Ares army holding several of the village children captive. Xena had known that any move she made at that point could have cost the children their lives. In frustration Xena had accepted Ares' challenge.

The god of war had told her with a feral gleam in his eye, Since you are so convinced that your new chose of direction in life is the right one I will give you the chance to prove it."

"What are You talking about Ares?" Xena asked.

Ares regarded her with a smug expression, "I have listened to that irritating blond led you down the path of "peace and light" for almost three years now, and I have a proposition for you."

"Out with it."

"If you accept my challenge I will let the children go."

"And if I don't?"

Now he knew he had her right where he wanted her, he shrugged his shoulders and said simply "They die."

Xena felt a sense of impending doom, but there was no way she was going to sacrifice the village children, What is your proposition?" "As I said I'm going to give you a chance to prove Gabrielle is right about the power of love being greater than the power of war and hate. If you can find some one in the next three moons that will love you, faults and all, and that you can truly love in return I will never again try to claim you. However if you fail you will return to me, forever." At a loss as to how else she could save the children Xena had accepted the challenge, she would worry about how to deal with it later. Now with less then half of a moon cycle left Xena was beginning to feel hopeless.

Coming back to the present she began to gather her thoughts to prepare Gabrielle for what she believed was the inevitable separation, she began. "Gabrielle, maybe I should take you home while there is still time, once Ares claims me I won't be able to..."

"He won't Xena we'll find a way to stop this."

"How Gabrielle, how are we going to stop this? You know the rules as well as I do. There is no way it's hopeless."

The bard felt anger surging to the surface, "You're just going to give up?" It was breaking her heart to say it, but Xena had to come first right now. There must be someone you could love!"

"Even if there was." Xena said with more venom in her voice than she had wanted. Who is going to fall in love with me? I'm not the easiest person on the world to get close to you know."

"Xena, what are you talking about just about every man you even look at falls for you, have you ever looked at yourself?"

"That's lust, not love Gabrielle, how many people do you think could deal with the demons that wrestle every day?"

The warrior missed the brief shadow that passed across her friend's face, knowing that it was now or never Gabrielle plunged ahead. "I love you Xena."

The breath caught in Xena's throat, how long had she wanted to hear these words from the bard? To hear them said now in pity was almost too much for her to take.

"Don't say that" Xena ground out "It won't change anything, besides I don't think friendship was what Ares had in mind."

"Maybe your right." Gabrielle said with her head lowered, tears on her lashes. "Maybe your right."

Later that night unable to sleep because of the pain in her heart Gabrielle rose from her bedroll, years of practice made her one of the few people on earth that could walk past the sleeping warrior princess without stirring her to wakefulness. She quietly took her staff and headed towards a clearing in the wood by the waterfall they had passed that day. About half a candle mark later Gabrielle fell to her knees in a shaft of moonlight that filtered through the trees. "Oh great goddess Artemis, please send me your help and guidance." The bard was only half surprised when the goddess materialized in front of her.

"What is it that as caused you such pain my young one?" the deity asked.

"I don't know what to do Artemis, you know of Ares' challenge to Xena?"

Artemis knew all right the fact that her meddlesome brother had caused her chosen Queen pain was a source of great irritation to the moon goddess..."How can I help?"

Gabrielle took a deep breath to try and steady her nerves "I'm at a loss goddess, I love Xena, I have for as long as I can remember. But I never said anything because I was afraid of her reaction. If she doesn't return my feelings I'd lose her all together. I know Xena she wouldn't want to hurt me by having me around if see couldn't feel the same way." She paused, the tears starting to pool in her eyes. "But I need to make her see.... it may be the only way I can save her." She dissolved into racking sobs. That threatened to send her into a fit of hysterics.

She felt a soothing hand on her brow as Artemis helped her lay down, waving a hand over the young woman's eyes the Goddess said rest my young one, rest well. When you return to your warrior you're going to need all your strength to help her see the truth."

Xena awoke to a dash of cold water in her face, in seconds she was one her feet, sword in hand ready to face her attacker. "Artemis, I should of known, only a God would have been this reckless" Lowering her sword she asked, "What is so important that you had to interrupt one of the few moments of peace I have left?"

The Goddess looked into what were the clearest blue eyes she had ever seen off Mount Olympus, thinking to herself " Gods this woman is beautiful, brave, the strongest warrior among Artemis' chosen. Unfortunately she is as stubborn and unyielding as a rock."

"Xena the answer to your problem is within your grasp, you just have to look into your own heart to find it." With that the Deity disappeared in a shower of glitter and light.

"Damn the Gods, why do they always feel the need to talk in riddles?" Giving herself a good mental shake Xena began to realize that something was amiss, she turned to see the empty bedroll....
Gabrielle awoke from the divinely induced sleep with a new sense of conviction. Xena had saved her countless times before from any manner of dangers. It was her turn to save the warrior, the only thing that would do that was the truth. As hard as that may be she was going to have to make her friend see that, it was the only way.

Catching the scent of her friend on the wind Xena raised her head to see
Gabrielle striding towards her a determined look on her face. The warrior could have sworn in that moment, her heart stopped beating. The taller woman could not take her eyes off Gabrielle as she approached. Xena seemed almost mesmerized by the sight of her friend moving towards her. Unable to move she just sat there as the distance closed between them.
Looking into eyes that rivaled the sky itself in vibrancy Gabrielle now knew that this was the only course of action open to them. The bard normally never at a loss for words found herself struggling for what to say. Sitting down next to her friend Gabrielle said, "We need to talk."

Xena nodded mutely, not knowing what was coming was a new sensation for the warrior princess and she tried to steel herself for what was to come. With taunt nerves Gabrielle pushed forward "Xena, ever since you took this challenge from Ares." Xena opened her mouth to protest but stopped when Gabrielle held up her hand. "I know, I know you did it to save the children, it seemed like the only way at the time. But I'm talking about what happened after that. I stood by and watched you just let time pass and do nothing to try and find an answer to this curse. I couldn't believe that the bravest person I've ever known was just willing to give up, Why Xena?" Seeing the green fire in her friend's eyes almost took the very breath from Xena's lungs. "Oh well" she thought to herself. "I may as well tell her the truth, It's too late to do anything about it now, and owe her that much." But something held her back. Xena felt the internal war "Why can't I just tell her?" An inner voice answered her, "Because you big bad warrior, at least this way you still have her friendship if you open your big mouth you may lose that too and then you'll have nothing."

Xena stared blankly at the fire still wagging the inner battle "How is she going to fell about me if I go back to Ares and become the monster I once was?"

Gabrielle's voice broke into her tortured thoughts "You know what it would take to beat Ares but yet you've done nothing. Why?"

"Because Gabrielle there is nothing that I can do."

"That is not true, it's really quite simple." Gabrielle reached down and took Xena's face in her hands. "I have been trying to find a way to tell you that I love you.... I know I said that before... but I mean more than as a friend ... as I am in love with you... that should break the curse."

Xena reached up and pulled her hands away "Don't do this Gabrielle... I don't want your pity ...anything but that."

"God's Xena for a woman that is such a brilliant battle tactician, sometimes you can be so dense. This is not about pity, I love you " A look of dread suddenly entered the bards eyes "Of course if you don't feel the same way then your right it won't do any good."

Xena felt things pouring through her she couldn't even began to put a name to. She couldn't believe what she had just heard, Gabrielle had just told her that she loved her and had sworn it was not pity. She rose to go over to where the bard had moved on the other side of the fire. Gabrielle had turned away from her unable to meet her gaze. Placing her hands on the bard's shoulders she turned gently turned her around. With her fingers under her friend's chin she bought her face up until their eyes locked.

"Did you mean that?"

"I wouldn't have said it if I didn't, you know that!"

"Gabrielle...I can't believe this, I've wanted to tell you for so long that I loved you but I was afraid...."

A small smile touched the young bard's lips "Imagine that, the mighty warrior princess afraid. Who would have thought?"

"I'm serious, if I had told you and you didn't feel the same... I decided I would rather have you as a friend than not at all."

Gabrielle raised a hand and left a warm caress on the warriors cheek." I know I've had the same thoughts. Amazing isn't it? That we could be so close and want the same thing and still not know what the other was thinking."

For the first Xena recognized the look she had seen in Gabrielle's eyes countless times before when she thought Xena wasn't looking. It was a look of not only love, but undiluted desire. It was a look that left the warrior princess breathless.

"I didn't know."

"You couldn't have, you're not the only one that's gotten proficient at hiding her feelings you know."

This time it was Xena that reached out to pull Gabrielle into the strong circle of her embrace "I don't want to do that any more." she mumbled into Gabrielle's hair "I'm all done hiding my feelings where your concerned." The feel of Xena's arms around her was more than she had ever dared hope for, Xena held her in a vice like grip almost as if she were afraid that if she let go Gabrielle would disappear. With one hand she lifted the bard's face until blue and green fire met Xena lowered her head in what seemed to be slow motion, finally claiming Gabrielle's lips with her own. The first contact was like a bolt of lightning through both women. The warrior drew back slightly breathless from the kiss, she felt a sudden desire to make sure that this was what Gabrielle wanted. She searched her friend's eyes for any hint that she should stop.

"Are you sure Gabrielle?"

"Yes" was the single word reply, Xena felt a small chuckle well up in her chest.

"What's the matter, have I finally found a way to leave you speechless?"

Without waiting for a further response Xena moved in for another, more intense kiss. Her strong arms around her young love were the only things that kept her from tumbling to the ground. Suddenly Xena broke the contact of their lips leaving Gabrielle slightly disoriented. Looking up at the sneer that had come over the warriors' beautiful face began to scare Gabrielle, until she realized what the source was.

"Show yourself Ares, I know your here."

" It always amazes me how you do that Xena, no other mortal can sense my presence the way you do."

"I have many skills." Xena answered her voice heavily laced with sarcasm." Why are you here?"

"I wanted to see for myself what was happening, you don't really expect me to believe this do you?"

"I don't care what you believe it happens to be the truth. It's been right in front of me all along and I've just been to blind to see it."

Gabrielle who had been silent up until now turned in Xena's embrace to face the God of War "What would it take to convince you Ares? No matter what we say your only going to believe what you want."

"There is one thing."

"What?" both women asked in unison.

"Submit to a joining ceremony. If you are willing to do that I'll know your serious and I'll back off"

Both women looked at Ares and then each other, Xena bristled she wanted nothing more than to be with Gabrielle for the rest of her life, but she didn't like the idea that Gabrielle might think she was only doing this because she was forced into it. The warrior and her bard looked at each other and asked at the same time "Is this what you want?" the answer was in both of their eyes as they answered each other at the same time." Yes it is."

"We have to ask Artemis for her blessing on our union." Gabrielle said

"Details. Details " Ares said with a wave of his hand. Ares didn't have a chance to finish what he was saying before a dazzling light papered in the clearing. Artemis materialized in front of the trio. She moved to stand before the two women and smiled when she noticed that all through the exchange Xena had not relinquished her protective hold on Gabrielle.

The Goddess addressed Xena "Warrior, you know that Gabrielle is the chosen Queen of my beloved Amazons. Will you swear to protect her and keep her safe from anyone that would wish her harm, be they mortal or God?"

Xena answered simply "I will"

"Will you place her above anyone or anything else in this world?"

"I will"

"And do you love her?"

"More than anything."

Then Artemis turned to Gabrielle and asked "My young Amazon Queen, will you accept this brave warrior into your heart and return the love she gives you, while guarding the feeling that you to share against ant outside intrusion be it from The Gods or man?"

"I will Artemis."

Witnessing the profound depth of love that these two women had for each other moved the Goddess deeply. She turned now to Ares. "These two women are already joined at the hearts, you lose brother. It is time for you to go, try to come between them again and I will intervene myself. Is that clear?"
Ares looked at both women and shrugged "I guess you can't win 'em all" and he disappeared into the mist. The patron Goddess of the Amazons looked at both of her chosen children, placing a hand on each of their shoulders "Take care of each other you have been given a rare and special gift, guard it well." With that she disappeared into the cloud of color she had emerged from.

Turning Gabrielle in her arms Xena bent to finish the kiss she had begun "Now let me see were was I?"

"Right about here." Gabrielle said pointing to her own lower lip.

"Oh yeah, that's right." and she began the sensual assault of nibbling her way around the bards lips the shivers that ran along the younger woman's spine almost made her swoon

"Xena ...please I want you now."

Those words almost snapped the warrior's iron control. She scooped Gabrielle up in her arms and carried to the bedrolls "Ssshh love I don't want to rush this, I want your first time to be special." A question formed in her mind "This is your first time?"

Gabrielle couldn't hold back a laugh "Yes, Xena I've never wanted anyone to touch me the way I want you to. You are the only one."

Xena felt her heart swell to the point of bursting, that this beautiful woman wanted her was more than she could have hoped for. That she would be the first, and if she had her way the last to bring Gabrielle to the heights of passion was almost too much.

Laying Gabrielle back against the bedrolls she moved in for another kiss, while her hands worked on the laces of the green top that shielded her goal of touching Gabrielle's breasts. She fumbled with the laces making them tighter instead of looser.
Holding out her hands she said, "By the Gods look at me I'm shaking."

"So am I" Gabrielle answered her as she finally managed to free herself of her suddenly too restrictive garment.

Xena felt the wetness start between her own legs as she lowered her lips to Gabrielle's nipples "Oh Gabrielle...I love you."

Felling the warrior draw on her breasts she pressed her hand on the back of Xena's head trying to pull her closer. "Xena that feels sooo...good."

"Wait my love it gets even better."

Xena pulled back long enough to pull of her armor so it wouldn't dig into the soft flesh of her lover. Still on her knees Xena reached down and drew Gabrielle's skirt and breeches done over her hips and trembling legs. When she was equally as naked as her bard she fell back into her upon arms. Nudging the bard's thighs apart with a knee she settled her center over that of her lovers. The wetness she found there pulled a ragged moan from her throat "Gabrielle.... "

She returned her attention to Gabrielle's breast using her mouth on one while massaging the other one with her hand. "Xena please..." Sliding down the bards firm young body Xena blazed a trail of fire with her lips and hands. When she had worked her way down between Gabrielle's legs she teased her by blowing on the bards sex. Gabrielle was on the edge and Xena knew it but she was determined not to rush things. Arching her hips
up for closer contact she gasped for air. It was getting harder to get any coherent words out. "Xena take me please.... make me yours"

Xena wanted nothing more at this moment than to bury herself deeply inside the bard but she didn't want to hurt her." Gabrielle... I want to be careful..."

"Do it now... I need you"
In one quick thrust Xena's fingers tore through the last barrier of Gabrielle's virginity. She held perfectly still giving Her lover a chance to adjust to the new sensation of being filled. Gabrielle felt a momentary flash of white-hot pain but it quickly passed and was replaced with an intense longing to feel Xena moving within her. Her hips began a rhythm as old as time itself as she rocked herself against the warrior's hand. Xena picked up the tempo sliding her fingers in and out in an ever increasing pace.

When she lowered her lips again to claim Gabrielle's sensitive nub she felt the tremors just before the bard screamed her release "By the Gods Xena.... don't stop I'm right there...."

Xena tore here mouth away long enough to say "Come for me love...." When she heard Gabrielle moan with her climax it was just enough to put her over the edge too.
Coming back up to gather her young lover into her arms, she gazed into Gabrielle's eyes "There are no words to tell you how much I love you."

"I feel the same way Xena." Gabrielle snuggled closer into her warriors embrace Xena gently stroked her hair

"Rest now."

"But don't you want..."

"I have everything I want right here in my arms your climax was so amazing Gabrielle it carried us both over the edge."

Gabrielle wanted to protest, she wanted to bring Xena the same intense pleasure she had felt but she was silenced by a gentle kiss "Sleep love there is no rush we have the rest of our lives."

"The rest of our lives huh? I think I like the sound of that." Feeling a peace and contentment neither woman had ever experienced before they fell into a deep slumber.

Xena was surprised to be awakened by the feel of Gabrielle's warm lips on her breasts and a hand between her thighs that was working in an already abundant wetness.

"Gabrielle..." she gasped

"Well good morning sleepy head, I thought you'd never wake up."

"What a way to wake up." The sensations Gabrielle was drawing out of Xena were new to the warrior and she suddenly realized that while she had been with many sexual partners both men and women This was the first time in her life anyone had made love to her. That was enough to bring tears to the warrior's eyes as she gave in to her orgasm.

Seeing the tears Gabrielle asked, "What's wrong?"

"Nothing is wrong love in fact everything is very, very right. It just struck me ... I never believed I could feel this way about anyone... or they could feel this way about me. Its almost like it's a dream like it's to good to be real."

Gabrielle couldn't believe her ears, Talking was never Xena's strong point and this burst of emotion was rare indeed. The bard was just endlessly thankful that she had been the one to bring it about.

"Believe it warrior princess it is very real, you are my heart and I will always be with you." Xena felt such immense tenderness at that moment she was awe struck "I hope you can get used to sleeping in my arms because I am never going to let you go."

"There is no place else in the world I would rather be."

With a final sweet kiss Xena rose from their bedroll reaching her hand down to help Gabrielle to her feet. "Well we should get moving, after all we have a wedding to plan."
The bard sprang up at that statement. "Do you mean it Xena? You really want to marry me?"

"There is nothing in this world I want more my love. That is if you'll have me."

"If I'll have you? Xena, you are all I have ever wanted."

The God of war stood shrouded in the shadows of the forest watching both women prepare to leave their campsite. He couldn't say he liked what he saw but he grudgingly admitted he now could see what the warrior princess saw in her bard.


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