by Kim (KP) Pritekel

Disclaimers: Sadly enough, I don't own them. Only nocturnally do I. RenPics owns them in the light of day.

Subtext: Yes. Though it's more of a "Maintext" thing.

Violence: Nothing major.

Note: This was my first attempt, so do be kind. : ) Also, as we head into the 6th season this might be a nice review for it delves back into the earlier seasons.

If you'd like to tell me what a wonderful writer I am, or that I royally suck, feel free at:

The campfire blazed sending out its warmth on the cool autumn evening. Xena and Gabrielle had traveled through the small town of Rinus that day, and had picked up some good beef stew for the evening meal, as well as a fresh baked loaf of bread. Xena sat against a fallen log fixing one of her gauntlets that had began to come unstrung. She eyed Gabrielle who sat across the fire from her, her bowl of nearly untouched stew sitting atop her thighs, chunk of bread forgotten in her hand. She was staring off into the flames. Xena put her gauntlet down, focusing her attention on her companion.

"Wanna talk about it?" Xena asked. Gabrielle shook her head.

"Gabrielle?" Gabrielle's head flew up, her eyes wide in surprise. "You okay?"

"Yeah. Yeah, I'm fine. Sorry. I guess I just got lost in thought." she smiled weakly, and looked down at her bowl of stew as if she had never seen it before. With a sigh she ate a spoonful. Xena returned to mending her gauntlet, eyeing the bard all the while from under her bangs, her mouth twisted in thought. Gabrielle had been acting strange since they had left the last village. She seemed to be lost inside her own head, not aware of her surroundings, or her friend. This was the first time Gabrielle had completely shut Xena out. They had been traveling together for nearly two years, and Xena felt she knew Gabrielle better than she knew her own face. She was as readable as her unending scrolls. Why couldn't she read her now? What was Gabrielle hiding?

Gabrielle dutifully ate her stew, though she didn't want it. She had had no appetite since they had left Rinus. She had been having strange thoughts dealing with her, and with Xena. Odd curiosities that she had thought she had outgrown back in Potidea. Strange, uncharacteristic jealousies would pop up at the most inopportune times, once nearly getting her hurt or worse. Such as today back in the village where they had bought their dinner. Xena had wanted to house Argo in the stables, and them in a room for the night. Generally Xena hated inns, but tonight it was chilly, and she didn't want for either of them to possibly get sick. Gabrielle loved to stay at an inn occasionally. The nice, warm, soft bed beat the hard ground. But it didn't matter as long as Xena was there. Gabrielle was bargaining with the mistress of the inn. The woman was nice enough, pretty though lined with years of hard work in harsh conditions. She wore a dress that was a bit too small in the top, her ample bosom straining to get out.

"Okay, I'll go down to ten dinars for a cute little thing like you." the woman said with a smile.

"Six. I've seen these rooms. You have to go out into the hall to change your mind." Gabrielle said matter-of-factly.

"Seven, and I'll throw in dinner."

"Deal." Gabrielle smiled triumphantly. Just then Xena entered the small cramped main room of the inn from feeding Argo. She looked around at the small gathering of people who ate and chatted amiably amongst themselves, her eyes cold, face stoic. She looked at Gabrielle. Gabrielle thought that just for a moment she saw something wash through Xena's eyes, but she couldn't be sure. It was almost as if for an instant a fire blazed behind those baby blues. Then she became stone once more.

"We set?" she asked stepping up beside Gabrielle and looking at the other woman.

"Sooo," the woman said, drawing out the word. " you, too will be staying with us?" the woman asked as she openly looked Xena from her boots to her breast plates. "You know, I did not tell your young friend this, but we do give complementary massages for our weary travelers. So tired from the road." the woman leaned over the counter a bit, her bosom looking as though it would fall out of the frail neckline of her dress. She looked into Xena's face, her eyes full of meaning. Xena looked at the woman for a moment without saying a word. Gabrielle looked from one to the other, her mouth open in disbelief, and, and something else. Burning anger. She could feel her insides boil as the woman raised an inquisitive brow at Xena.

"Not interested." Xena said, her voice a monotone shadow of its usual timbre, her eyes cold and warning.

"Are you sure? You don't know what you're missing. It's free-"

"Not interested." Xena repeated. She put her hand to Gabrielle's lower back. "Come on, Gabrielle." Gabrielle gave the woman an assessing glance, then led the way to the stairs with Xena close behind.

Gabrielle threw open the door to the tiny room and tossed her bag on the bed. The room was only about five paces in any direction with a bed that took up most of the space, and a small table in the corner with a large clay pot for water. A single window lined the wall above the bed.

"Not bad." Xena said looking around. "At least it's clean. Been in worse."

"Hm." Gabrielle said absently as she walked over to the bed and sat down and looked at her hands that played in her lap. Xena looked at the bard, concern lining her face.

"What is it? Did something happen while I was with Argo?"

"No. I can't believe that woman." Gabrielle blurted.

"What woman?" Xena sat next to Gabrielle on the edge of the bed. The frame squeaked under their weight.

"At the desk. Free massage. How dare-"

"She was just trying to make a few extra dinars. These are hard times, Gabrielle."

"Yeah, but," You're mine, she wanted to say, but didn't dare. Xena would probably hack her up into a million pieces.

Gabrielle sopped up the last of her stew with the bit of bread and put the bowl aside. She looked across the fire at Xena who was pulling the leather cord taught with her teeth to put her gauntlet back together.

"Xena?" she asked, her voice quiet.

"Yeah?" Xena answered, her fixed gauntlet put aside.

"Did you think that woman was pretty?"

Xena looked at the bard, her brows drawn in surprise and confusion. What was it about that village woman that bothered Gabrielle so much? Her feelings for Gabrielle and her hope rose, but she quickly pushed them down so she could get to the bottom of this objectively.

"She was alright, I guess. I didn't really notice that much." Xena leaned forward, resting her elbows on her knees. "What is this all about, Gabrielle? What is bothering you?"

Gabrielle stared deep into Xena's eyes where she could see a tempest of swirling emotions. Once again she thought she could see that same fire that she saw in the inn. Was it a fire for her, as she hoped? She had had her suspicions for a while that Xena had feelings for her, feelings that went beyond friendship. It was only in the last few months or so that Gabrielle could start putting a name to her own feelings. At first it had started out as admiration, and then respect. Then she felt so safe and comfortable with Xena. Even in those moments at night when each of them was thinking back on the day there was a feeling of togetherness in that silence, a feeling of belonging. At night when Xena would frequently have her nightmares of past horrors Gabrielle would hold her until she could fall back asleep, then roll over and go back to sleep herself. Now she realized that, though she did not wish those nocturnal torments on her friend, she waited for them just to have an excuse to touch Xena, hold her in her arms and feel Xena's body next to hers. She would find any excuse to touch Xena, and she knew that Xena did the same for her. Gabrielle marveled at the fact that Xena could fight a dozen men, teeth bared, animal released, but as soon as the fight was over she would turn to Gabrielle and give her the most gentle, kind and reassuring smile. It was almost as if Xena's gentle side was reserved only for Gabrielle. That had to mean something, right? Gabrielle shrugged off her thoughts and turned back to a reality with Xena looking at her expectantly, waiting for an answer.

"Xena, you've had a lot of loves, haven't you?" she asked as she fingered the threading on her staff.

"A few. To be more honest I'd say I've had a lot of lovers. Not many loves, no."

"That woman today, she wanted, ah, wanted you, right?" Gabrielle asked, her head cocked to the side as she thought about what she was saying.

"Yes." Xena said simply.

"How did that make you feel? I mean, did you want her, too?"

"No. But if you're asking if that's happened before, then the answer is yes."

"Women, you mean," Xena nodded. "Did you want any of them?"

"Yes." Gabrielle looked at her, surprised at Xena's candor. She had hoped she would say that.

"So then you've been with women before, like that."


"How-" Gabrielle was cut off by the sudden sound of movement far off in the trees. Xena's head snapped in that direction, her eyes wide. "Xena," Xena put a hand up to silence her.

"I'm going to go check it out. Wanna come?" Gabrielle shook her head.

"No. I'll clean up the dinner dishes." Xena nodded. She grabbed her sword in her right hand, chakram in her left, and headed into the foliage.

Gabrielle leaned back against the large rock behind her and tilted her head up to look at the stars that winked down at her as if they knew something she didn't. Suddenly Callisto came to mind. She hadn't given her a thought since she had murdered Gabrielle's husband, Perdicus last spring. She remembered the first time they had come across her when she was sacking and burning villages in Xena's name. She had been a striking figure in all her rage and intent. Gabrielle knew that in some primal way Xena had an admiration for the small warrior. She admired her determination and focus. She thought back to that incredible fight on the ladders at Callisto's hideout. Gabrielle had been strung up by her wrists over a burning pyre while Xena fought her way to save her. Callisto had looked at Xena with blood lust. Or was it just plain lust? Gabrielle knew that what Callisto felt for Xena was an intense love/hate. How about Xena?

Gabrielle bolted upright when she realized that even then, in their first year traveling together, she had been jealous of the bond of hate and destruction that Xena and Callisto had shared, and did until the day Xena had let Callisto die in the quicksand. Had she loved Xena for that long and not known it? She then thought back to when Callisto had managed to trap Xena with the help of Ares, and get to Xena through her guilt. When Xena had conquered Callisto yet again, but had been stuck in her body for those weeks, it had been torture. Not only did Gabrielle have her best friend in the body of her dire enemy, but also she had lost Xena in some ways. She felt loath to touch Xena. She had kept her distance completely from her. Gabrielle remembered one night laying on her bedroll across the remains of the fire from Xena, wide awake, just staring at her as she slept on her side, her back to her. Gabrielle had lain there with her head resting on her arms, her hands clenching and unclenching in the dirt as her fingers burned to touch her. When Ares had finally switched their bodies, Gabrielle had been so overwhelmed with relief that she had run to Xena on that beach, and had wrapped her arms around her with unimaginable gratitude to the God of War. She let out a sigh and studied the stars in the sky.

Xena quietly made her way through the dense trees, sword at the ready. She thought of Gabrielle. Suddenly she had a vision of the young bard leaving her. She put her hand to her chest, and leaned against the trunk of a near by tree for a moment. The thought took her breath away. With a deep sigh she continued on. She thought back to the war in Thessalay when she and Gabrielle had to set up the hospital in the temple, and Gabrielle had been stabbed in the shoulder. When Gabrielle had gone into shock, and had been on the edge of death Xena had been beside herself with grief. No matter what the priests or the general said, she just could not accept the fact that Gabrielle was dead. She would have done anything, prayed to any god to save her. When Gabrielle had taken that first breath in the land of the living Xena had felt a wave of relief like she had never felt before. She had known at that moment that she did not want to go on without her. Then she thought of the day Gabrielle had married Perdicus. Xena shook her head to clear it. She didn't want to think about that. Besides, she had a possible situation to focus on

Gabrielle rinsed her stew bowl with water from the water skin, and placed it with Xena's in Argo's saddle bag. She threw another log on the fire and sat back against her rock. She remembered the time when she had been turned briefly into a Baccae. A wave of heat shot to her groin. When Baccus had demanded that she bite Xena it had been a task that was bitter sweet. She had been connected to her old self enough to dread having to put Xena through that, but then again.... Gabrielle smiled to herself. She could feel Xena's back pressed to her front again as they had stood on that ledge. Gabrielle had held Xena to her with one arm around her front caressing her neck, the other holding her into place. She had let that bite go on much longer than had been necessary. She knew that Xena had been pleasured from it, so she had massaged the side of her neck with her tongue, barely scraping the large fangs over the tender skin when she had finished to send a final chill though Xena that Gabrielle had actually been able to feel. Gabrielle drew her knees up and wrapped her arms around them as she smiled at the memory.

Without making a sound Xena swept some low branches out of her way to see the source of the commotion in the near by clearing. She re-sheathed her sword with a roll of her eyes.

"Joxer. Big surprise."

"Xena! I mean, hey, Xena. Ah, could you kind of help me out here?" the bumbler said with one of his silly grins. Xena walked over to him and pulled the knife that she kept in her boot, and cut away the vine that somehow Joxer had managed to entangle himself in.

"What are you doing here, or dare I ask?" she asked as she put her knife back in her boot.

"You guys. I heard that you were here, hey. Where's Gabby?" he asked looking over Xena's shoulder. Xena only stared at him with the usual cold, impatient stare she saved especially for him. "Okay. I thought you guys might need the help of another warrior, so I came running."

"One, we're not in trouble, though you might be soon, and two, I wouldn't call you if we were. Tell you what, Joxer. In that village, Rinus over that hill,"


"Go to the inn. Ask the inn mistress about the free massage she's offering."

"Yeah? Think she'll give me one?" he asked, eyes wide.

"I'd bet on it." Xena smirked.

"Great. Gee, you know a warrior of my talents should have a massage to get rid of all those war, ah, pains." he said as he rubbed his shoulder that had been pinned against the tree from his vegetation incarceration. "Thanks, Xena. Catch up with you guys tomorrow, then?" Xena smiled winningly. Joxer straitened his helmet, and with a huge grin ran into the darkness of the Forrest. Xena rolled her eyes again and turned back toward camp. One of these days that idiot was going to get himself killed by trying to sneak up on them like that.

Xena smiled to herself again as she thought of Joxer running full gallop into that inn like a stallion ready to go. The smile disappeared as she thought back to when she and Gabrielle had been in that same inn. They had gone to the room, and that was when Xena had noticed something was really wrong with Gabrielle. She had just plopped herself down on the bed like a lost little girl. Xena knew she had been angry at the loose inn mistress, but didn't realize how much until a bit later when there had been a knock at the door. Xena had been sharpening her sword, and Gabrielle had been writing in her scrolls, staring off into space every couple of words, a sly grin spreading across her lips at other times. What did she write in those things, anyway? Xena stood from the bed and walked the couple of steps to the wood plank door.

"Yes?" she had asked as she opened it, sword still in hand. It had been that pesky inn mistress again. She looked down at the blade, then back up at Xena who towered over her.

"What do you plan on doing with that?" she had asked, her eyes twinkling. Xena stared at her, eyes half-lidded, mouth opening ready to bare teeth.

"Can I help you?" Gabrielle demanded, suddenly at Xena's side. She glared up at the woman. "Why do you keep bothering us?" she pushed herself in front of Xena, hands on her hips.

"I just came to,"

"To what? Offer your massage again?" Gabrielle's green eyes were flaming emeralds. Xena looked down at her, blue eyes open wide in surprise, and also pleasure. So she would fight for her, huh?

"Okay," Xena gently pushed Gabrielle behind her and took a step closer to the intruder.

"You obviously don't take hints real well, so I'll spell it out for ya. We paid our bill, so scram." she smiled sweetly. "Any questions?"

"No I, I'm sorry." the inn mistress said, her cheeks flaming from anger and embarrassment. She turned and hurried down the hall.

"See, that's all you gotta do," Xena turned to see Gabrielle rolling up her scroll and shoving it into her bag followed by her quill. She tied up the drawstring, and grabbed her staff.

"Coming?" she asked Xena, her eyes still ablaze.

"Yeah, Gab-"

"I'm not staying here with that woman on the prowl!"

"Gabrielle, she's harmless. I don't think she'll be back." Xena said with a smile. But one look into the bard's eyes, and the smile faltered. "Okay. We'll go."

The vision of Gabrielle leaving flooded behind Xena's eyes again. She remembered back to not that long ago when the Fates had given her a chance to live her life over again as a normal woman in Amphipolis with her beloved younger brother, Lyceus alive, and the chance to settle down and have a family. It had been perfect until she had seen what Gabrielle would have been. Since Xena would not have been there to save her and the others form being taken by Draco and sold to Mazentius, Gabrielle had turned into a hardened, bitter slave girl. That had just about killed Xena. In the end she had given up everything, including Lyceus just to have her Gabrielle back, her bard.

Gabrielle heard someone coming. She jumped to her feet, staff ready in the defensive position. Xena emerged from the trees. Gabrielle let out a sigh and relaxed.

"What was it?"

"Joxer." Xena laughed.



"Where is he?" Gabrielle asked, almost afraid to hear the answer.

"I sent him on a wild goose chase quest." Xena smiled. She didn't think it wise to bring up the inn mistress again.

"So where are we headed tomorrow?" Gabrielle asked lightly as she unrolled her bedroll.

"No, no. You're not gonna get off that easy, Gabrielle." Xena said, a glint in her eye. "I want you to tell me what's going on in that head of yours." With a sigh part relief, part fear, Gabrielle sat next to Xena on the log. She picked up a stick and began to make designs in the dirt as she spoke.

"Xena, what do you think love is? How do you know if you love someone?"

"Well," Xena said with a sigh. "Love is different to everyone. Who knows why it is, or how it happens. It amazes me that something like it can come from a god like Aphrodite." she smiled at her friend. "To me loving someone means that your life is complete. You feel whole, and maybe even fulfilled." she looked into the bards eyes. "Because of them." If only Gabrielle knew that Xena was explaining to her how she felt about her. "It means doing whatever necessary to keep it safe, keep it near you, at any cost."

"Hmm." Gabrielle smiled to herself. "That's what I thought."

"Surely that's how you must have felt with Perdicus," Xena said, her voice trailing off.

"Xena," Gabrielle said quietly. "Can I tell you something about Perdicus?"

"Of course." Gabrielle dropped the stick to the ground, and took a deep breath. She faced Xena once more.

"I loved Perdicus, and still do. I guess part of me always will. When I married him I knew I didn't love him as much as he loved me, but I thought that in time," she paused as she looked down at her hands.

"You shouldn't feel shame, Gabrielle. Often marriages start out that way."

"I know." Gabrielle said quietly. "I was afraid that he would go off and get into trouble, or never reach home. It would be my fault, Xena. I would never be able to forgive myself." she looked into Xena's eyes for any sign of horror or disgust, and only saw kindness and understanding. And something else? "On our wedding night Perdicus was so kind, so gentle. I told him I had never been with a man before. It felt good to have someone I cared about touch me, and want me. But I could not give myself fully to him, Xena. He may have had my body, but my heart wasn't there. My soul. I could not give those to him; they are already somewhere else. Xena, I could not reach out to him. He was not you." Gabrielle said simply, her green eyes clear and honest. Xena blinked in surprise. Gabrielle reached out and placed her hand upon Xena's cheek. Xena covered the hand with her own. "I wanted you that night, Xena. Still." Xena closed her eyes and sighed deeply. She opened her eyes, and ran her hand down Gabrielle's arm up to her shoulder. She cupped the back of Gabrielle's head and gently pulled her toward her.

"I've wanted you since I saw you in Potidea." Xena breathed, and touched her lips to Gabrielle's. "I love you."

"I love you, Xena." Gabrielle said breathlessly. Xena placed a palm on either side of Gabrielle's face and kissed her again. This kiss was soft, tentative as each woman tested and tasted the boundaries of the other. Gabrielle rested her hands on Xena's shoulders, and slowly moved them up into her raven locks. Xena teased Gabrielle's lips with her tongue until the younger woman opened to her. Gabrielle's mouth was hot, her tongue in a desperate search to take in all of Xena. Without breaking the deepening kiss, Xena stood and pulled Gabrielle up with her. She wrapped her strong arms around the smaller woman's waist and pulled her close, their bodies pressed together.

"Take this off. I want to feel you." Gabrielle breathed into Xena's mouth as she began to work on the clasp of Xena's armor. With nimble fingers Xena began to untie the laces that held Gabrielle's green top together. The metal breast plates fell to the ground with a muffled plop. Gabrielle ran her tongue down Xena's throat as she reached around her to unclasp the leather warrior dress. Xena closed her eyes and arched her neck as she pushed the material from Gabrielle's shoulders. The leather garment fell around Xena's boots. She stepped out of it and gingerly kicked it aside with her armor. Gabrielle looked at the light brown material under dress.

"By the gods you wear a lot of clothes." she smiled up at Xena, her eyes full of intent.

"I'm just glad you don't." Xena smiled back, one brown raised mischievously. She looked down at Gabrielle's revealed breasts. "Beautiful." she whispered as she traced the gentle curving slope of first one then the other, the nipples already hard in anticipation. Xena captured Gabrielle's mouth again in a slow, sensual kiss as her thumbs gently rubbed over the hard nubs. Xena's dress momentarily forgotten, Gabrielle wrapped her arms around Xena's neck to bring her even closer. Xena reached down and unfastened Gabrielle's skirt and let it slide down her beautiful legs to gather around her boots. Not breaking the kiss, Xena gently pushed Gabrielle back toward their bedrolls. Gabrielle stepped clear of her fallen garments as she walked backwards. She could feel the heat of the fire on her already scorching bare skin. Xena lowered her to the blankets, then removed the rest of her own clothing as well as her and Gabrielle's boots. She looked down at Gabrielle who lay sprawled on the dark wool material staring up into her eyes expectantly. Gabrielle's well-muscled arms lay at her sides, palms down. Her beautiful breasts, round and firm heaved with her hurried breaths. The flat of her stomach danced with strange shadows thrown by the fire. One leg raised, bent at the knee, the other relaxed. The patch of dark reddish-gold hair between glistened as a beckoning to her. Xena looked into her face that was framed by her golden hair spread around her like a halo. Gabrielle's clear, green eyes that always held so much life and kindness and innocents were now dark and stormy with desire. Desire for her. She loved her. Xena's body was flooded anew with love and desire for this woman who had been with her for so long, yet had been so untouchable. What had she done to deserve her?

With grace and ease Xena lowered herself to the blanket and stretched out on her side next to her lover. Gabrielle turned to face her. Xena reached out and tenderly pushed a fallen strand of hair behind Gabrielle's ear.



"I don't know what to do." Gabrielle said, her voice small and unsure. Xena smiled and gently kissed her.

"Do whatever your heart tells you, Gabrielle." She answered in earnest.

"I want to please you."

"You do. Immensely."

Xena pulled Gabrielle closer to her and kissed her again, long, deep and hot. Gabrielle moaned deep in her throat and rolled to her back, pulling Xena on top of her. Xena rested on her forearms and looked down into the bard's face. The full contact with Xena's body drove Gabrielle to a new pitch of excitement. She brought both legs up on either side of Xena to bring her closer to that part that ached for her, and had been for so long. She thrust her hips up into her as she captured Xena's mouth again. Xena responded with an intensity that left both breathless. She broke the kiss and began to leave a hot trail of kisses across Gabrielle's jaw, and down to the hollow of her throat. Gabrielle arched her neck and closed her eyes tight. Xena's mouth followed the path that her hands laid until finally Xena reached Gabrielle's breasts. She circled the taut nipple with her tongue before taking it into her mouth and pulling gently with her teeth. Gabrielle sucked in her breath and clutched Xena's shoulder with a claw-like grip. Xena held for a moment before moving to the other, her fingers caressing and massaging Gabrielle's stomach and thighs. Gabrielle's hips began to move with the rhythm of Xena's tongue on her nipple. She closed her eyes and bit her bottom lip. Xena ran her tongue over the taut skin of Gabrielle's stomach, her skin on fire. Finally Xena dipped her fingers into the reddish-gold curls where she could smell the intensity of Gabrielle's need for her. She brought her fingers to her mouth and savored her first taste of her bard. She opened her eyes and looked into Gabrielle's face, one final go-ahead.

"Don't stop," Gabrielle barley managed to utter. Xena slowly parted Gabrielle's thighs, running her tongue down the inside of one ending at her pulsing center.

Gabrielle sucked in her breath and arched her back as Xena took her inside her mouth, her tongue darting in and out before she replaced it with one finger, then two, her tongue now massaging her at the same time.

"Xena!" she breathed, her hand reaching down into Xena's hair, needing to have some contact with her. As Xena felt Gabrielle getting more excited, getting closer to the edge she quickened her rhythm until Gabrielle was in a frenzy of movement. Suddenly she held her breath as her body went completely rigid, her neck and back arched as Xena held on. Finally she went limp. Xena stretched out next to her once more. Gabrielle lie still with her eyes closed as she took deep breaths to try and control herself. Xena noticed that her cheeks were stained with tears. She gently kissed her lips.

"Why are you crying, Gabrielle?" she asked gently as she ran her fingertips over the wet trails.

"I don't know," Gabrielle sighed. She turned on her side to face Xena. She trailed Xena's jaw down to her throat with her finger. "I just had so much emotion in me. I've wanted this for so long, Xena. I've dreamt about it, and even wrote about it once." she smiled impishly. Xena grinned. "I love you." Xena looked her in the eye, and in response kissed her slowly, gently pulling her still trembling body close. "Now I want to love you." Gabrielle whispered.

"I can wait. I just want to hold you." she closed her eyes and sighed. "Thank you, Gabrielle."

"For what?"

"For giving me a reason to get up every morning. You are what I live for. Best friend. Bard. Lover. I love you." Gabrielle sealed Xena's words with a kiss as she slowly rolled on top of her.

Gabrielle gently brushed back dark tendrils of hair off Xena's forehead, and kissed her closed eyelids. She ran her fingertips down the side of Xena's face, caressing her cheek with the back of her fingers. A soft moan escaped Xena's lips. Gabrielle looked into Xena's face and sighed. She had lost her heart to this woman so long ago, and now that what she had only dreamed, and written of in her scrolls of her deepest, darkest desires was finally happening, she didn't want to believe it for fear that she would wake from this dream.

"Are you for real?" Gabrielle whispered. "Am I going to wake up tomorrow, and be back in Potadia?" Xena opened her sky blue eyes and looked into Gabrielle's face that held so much emotion. "Promise that you'll always be here. With me."

"I promise."

"I love you, Xena. Always."



"....with Gabby as his sidekick, fighting with her little stick, singing songs..." Joxer stopped as he spotted the inn that Xena had told him about. "Yep. Here it is. Now maybe someone will treat me like the great and mighty warrior that I am." Joxer smiled to himself as he pushed the double swinging doors open with a flourish, only one of the hinges was stuck, and sent the heavy wooden door directly into his nose. Joxer flew to the ground.

"Ow, my nose!" he exclaimed holding his nose between both hands. With a grunt he got to his feet, and straightened his personalized, hand forged 'armor', and entered the inn.

The room was full of road weary travelers eating and drinking their fill before disappearing into the world again.

Joxer looked around and spotted who must be the inn mistress Xena had told him about. She stood behind the counter looking bored as she watched the patrons frolicking amongst themselves. Her brow was drawn as if she were in deep thought.

"Probably wishing a mighty warrior would come in to sweep her off her feet." Joxer said to himself with a lopsided grin. He made his way to the counter.

"Excuse me, ah, a friend, that is, a fellow warrior told me that a brave, strong, tough man like myself could get a free massage." he leaned onto the counter, his brows raised expectantly. "You wouldn't happen to know where I can get it, do ya?" he said, grinning like Attis looking for Princess Guia.

The inn mistress straightened to her full height and looked the would-be warrior in the face. She smiled sweetly. She drew her arm back as if she were going to grab one of the room keys off the wall board behind her.

"You heard that, did you?"




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