Crazy With Desire

by Azurenon & Savanna Mac

Disclaimer:

Xena Warrior Princess and all the characters contained herein are the sole property of MCA/Universal Studios/Renaissance Pictures. No infringement upon these rites is intended. Weíve merely borrowed these characters, as well as, some scenes and lines, for the sole purpose of entertainment and storyline continuity. The story idea itself, Crazy With Desire, belongs to Azurenon and Savanna Mac.

Warning: This story contains mild violence between the two main characters.

Sexual content: This story contains rather graphic details of two consenting, adult females involved in sexually explicit situations with one another. If this is not something youíd like to read about, please do not read our story. Iím sure there are even better ones, more to your liking.

Be it known, that this story is number 3 in a series we have written; a "between the eps (episodes)" if you will, which make reference to the aired episodes below. And, if you havenít read Dream of Choice and DreamWarrior by Azurenon and Savanna Mac, you may be a bit lost when reading this one.

This story takes place During and Following our daring duos adventures in the MCA/Universal Studios/Renaissance Pictures copywritten material entitled: "The Furies" and leads up to "Been There, Done That". If you haven't seen these episodes, I would strongly suggest you do so before reading this.

Thanks go to all our friends! No need to mention each of you by name, you know who you are.

This is for all the subtextors out there. We hope we have spun an enjoyable tale.

If not, then please accept our humble apology.


 

Chapter 1

This story picks up in the middle of the episode "The Furies" when a naked and crazed Xena has just accused a village of women and children of... crucifying all the women and children. Gabrielle has found her, put a blanket around her and talked her into coming back with her to their camp.

Xena was totally embarrassed by the sights and sounds she had subjected those poor villagers to. Although she had said she was sorry, that just didnít seem to be enough. She made Gabrielle promise that if she came out of this sane, they would return, so she could show these people she was not really a bad person.

Yet, even before they got back to their camp, the madness was upon her again.

"Xena, please... come on," Gabrielle urged, pulling on the warriorís hand. "We need to get our things together and get to the Temple of the Furies, as soon as possible. Now come on!" The bard pulled harder on her friendís hand.

"I heard ya the first time, Mavis," Xena responded, as she suddenly stopped resisting and was quickly pulled into the bardís side. "Umph," she grunted, her face pressed against the side of Gabrielleís head. "Hmmm, you smell good," she added, nuzzling her face into the bardís hair.

"Uh-huh," Gabrielle said in frustration, though she made no attempt to move away from the warrior. "Of all the luck," she grumbled, feeling Xenaís warm breath on her shoulder.

"Ya know, Mavis, I like you," Xena mumbled close to her ear. "I like you a lot," she continued, freeing her hand from Gabrielleís grasp and placing it on the bardís lower back. "Umm... you feel good, too. I could definitely go for you, in a big way, Midge," she added, her right hand going to the bardís waist, as she nuzzled even closer to Gabrielleís ear.

The bard was stunned by Xenaís behavior. The warrior was out of her mind, that much was evident, but was that the only cause of this lascivious behavior? Would she be saying these things to just anyone who happened to be here?

"By the gods," the bard exhaled heavily in total frustration. "Of all the times for you to get amorous. Just my luck itíd have to be when youíre out of your mind," she added, moving away from the warrior rather quickly, when the latterís hands began roaming downward.

"Whatís wrong?" Xena inquired, sounding a bit hurt. "Donít you like me, Midge?"

"Oh, I like you," Gabrielle responded, a frequent dream playing out in her mind. "But, this is not the... time nor the place for this."

"Hmph. Yeah," Xena agreed, glancing around. "A bed would be better than the cold ground, huh? So letís go find one, shall we?" she asked, coming up beside the bard and putting her arm around her shoulders.

"Uh, right," Gabrielle responded, playing along at the moment, because she was just thankful the warrior was going to follow her without a struggle. At least for a while, that is.

Gabrielle had already found out that when Xenaís mind wandered off on another track, it was hard to get it back. But, if she could just keep Xena pursuing a bed, regardless of what she intended to do once she found it, perhaps she could lead her to the Temple of Furies, where hopefully they would find out what in Tartarus was going on.

"Umm... firm arms," Xena noted. "Did I tell ya I like a woman with a firm body?"

"Uh, no, you didnít," Gabrielle continued playing along, putting her own arm around Xenaís waist, just in case the latter decided to go off on another one of her mindless tangents.

"Yeah, Mavis, I think weíre gonna get along just fine," Xena commented, leaning over closer to the bard and sniffing her hair again. "You smell, so-o good. Did I tell ya that already?"

"Yep, you did."

"Such soft hair," the warrior continued, her right hand reaching up and stroking Gabrielleís hair. "The color of Argoís, but much.... much softer."

"Gee thanks," the bard mumbled.

"Where is my horsey anyway?" Xena asked, glancing around them.

"Sheís... ah.. right up ahead," Gabrielle assured, when the warrior started to pull away. "Weíre gonna ride Argo into town and see if we canít locate that temple."

Xena abruptedly stopped. "Hmph, I donít think I wanna go there."

"Uh, yeah... sure you do... remember?" Gabrielle stammered, realizing her mistake and searching for a way to get Xena back on track. "They... they have a... a bed, remember?"

"Just one?" The warrior queried, arching one dark eyebrow.

"Uh, well,... maybe they have more if..."

"No, no, we only need one," Xena interrupted, putting her face against the side of Gabrielleís head and grinning lasciviously. "Or we could just... lay down right here. Whaddaya say, Mavis, hmm?"

"Umm, Iíd rather... be comfortable," the bard responded. "Wouldnít you?"

"Iíll be comfortable wherever you are."

"Uh-huh," Gabrielle commented. "Well, I want a bed, so... come on." she added, urging Xena to move towards their camp.

"Anything you want, Midge," the warrior added, stumbling along beside the bard for a moment, seeming reluctant to remove her face from Gabrielleís hair. And looking for all the world like a love sick puppy.

Yea Godís above, Gabrielle thought, I wish you didnít have to be crazy to look at me that way.

"Now see, thereís Argo, up ahead," Gabrielle heaved a sigh of relief at getting her friend this far.

"Beautiful horsey," Xena commented, her attention wandering again. "Letís ride, Mavis," she added, striking off towards Argo; the blanket falling from her shoulders; the fire light highlighting her nude form.

"But wait," Gabrielle called after her. "We need to get our things togeth..." the bard paused, as Xena somersaulted onto Argoís back.

"Timeís a wastiní, Mavis," the warrior said, taking the reins and guiding Argo towards the bard. "Climb aboard," she added, offering Gabrielle her hand.

"You... arenít going into a village like that, are you?"

"Why not?" the warrior queried.

"You need to... at least put some clothes on."

Xena glanced down at herself. "Why? Iím only going to take them off when we get to that temple, right?"

"Uh... well, but y-you never know... who we might run across along the way. Joxer, Iolaus... Hercules."

"Okay, Mavis," Xena agreed, dismounting.

Gabrielle turned away. "And I need to put out this fire. We wouldnít want this to get out and... burn down the forest," she added, quickly pushing dirt onto the fire with her feet, intentionally diverting her attention from Xenaís naked body.

"Good thinking, Midge," the warrior acknowledged. "But, Iíve got a fire inside me, that... I donít wanna go out." Gabrielle quickly glanced over at her friend to find the warrior pulling on her leather outfit. "Hot enough to keep us both warm," Xena added, with a wink and a sly grin.

"Uh... huh," the bard noted, returning her attention to the fire, where she kicked more dirt on it.

Gabrielle couldnít help wondering where all this amorous behavior was coming from. "I like a woman with a firm body," Xena had said. Could it be that the warrior did find women attractive? "I could definitely go for you in a big way, Midge," Xena had said a bit earlier.

Who were Midge and Mavis? Gabrielle wondered. Were they women from Xenaís past? Or were they just figaments of the warriorís crazed mind? And the lascivious behavior, was it a figment of her crazed mind, as well? Or was there more to it than that? Could the madness possibly be causing Xena to show another side of her personality that Gabrielle had never seen before?

The bardís mind suddenly handed her a memory of a conversation sheíd had with Xena about the warrior being scared, but not showing it. Xena had said that this was because: "Iím older. Iíve had more practice at covering it up." If Xena could mask her fears, then what else might she be able to cover up with that stoic bravado? An attraction for women perhaps? An attraction for Gabrielle, in particular?

The bard shook her head to clear it. "Sheís under a spell," she said to herself, "she has no idea was sheís saying. Sheís not attracted to you, Gabrielle, sheís just... plain crazy, right now. Yeah, sheís the crazy one, but look whose talking to herself," she added.

"Whatsamatta Mavis, youíre shaking your head?" Xena noted. "Are you sure you... like me?"

"Oh yes, Iím... Iím sure I like you, Xena,... believe me," Gabrielle responded. "I just... I donít know what to do with you," she mumbled.

"Oh yeah, thatís right. I forgot," the warrior said sheepishly. "Youíre still... virgin territory, arenít you?"

"Uh, well... I... guess you could say..."

"Hmph, Oh well, Iím sorry, Midge. I... I suppose I should look elsewhere, hmm?" Xena mused, as she toed the ground with her right boot. "I mean, after all, when you got a fire inside your belly like I do, well... it just ainít fair or... even sensible, to ask someone who... hasnít built but one, to tend it for ya, now is it?"

"I beg your pard..."

"Oh, thatís alright, Mavis," Xena said softly, acting a bit like a shy young man now. "Youíre a good looking gal and all, I canít deny that, but... I think Iíd better find myself an experienced hand for this one. Iíll... Iíll see ya round, Midge."

With that said, the warrior turned and fled back into the woods, at breakneck speed.

"Xena wait!" Gabrielle shouted, taking off after her friend.

She didnít get far, however, when she realized how futile this pursuit was. Sheíd never catch up with Xena on foot.

"Hmph, wonder why she didnít take the horse?" she mused aloud. "Hel-lo? Because sheís crazy, as a...." She paused, "Hmph, I donít even know anything that crazy," she added. "Ooo, just wait until I get my hands on those Furies or whoever is behind this, Iíll..." The bard paused once again, the idea of going up against the Gods, not a pleasing prospect to entertain. "Oh well, Iíll straighten it out somehow," she continued. "Of course, if I canít talk her way out of this...." She paused once more, her throat tightening with emotion, at the thought of her friend staying this way for the rest of her life. She shook her head. "No, Iíll find you, Xena. And Iíll straighten this out. Even if I have to follow you to ends of the earth to do so."

****

"Did... the right... thing," Xena huffed and puffed, as she slowed to a jog. "Mavis... a virgin... should... have... remembered... why canít... I... remember?" She slowed down even more, when she stumbled onto an animal trail. "Wonder... what... travels this? Deer... rabbit?" Her stomach grumbled at the thought of food, and she reached back for her sword. It wasnít there. She then reached down for her chakram, which wasnít there either.

She slowed to a walk, and started pacing around in an ever widening circle. "No sword, no chakram... not a sole in sight. Which way... should I go on this... moonlit night? Eeny-meany-miney-moe, that way looks good... so off I go," she decided, as she trotted off down the moonlit trail.

****

"Okay Argo," Gabrielle said softly, patting the horseís neck. "I know we havenít been close in the past. And I know... Iím not the one who usually rides you, but... sheís in serious trouble right now. And... itís up to me and you to... at least find her. So, we need to work together here, girl. Now, you just... stay right there, while I... g-et up on this rock and..." The bard paused, as she did just that. "Woah, girl," she added, as Argo started to shy away. "Just cut your friend Gabrielle some slack here okay and... hold still Ďtil I get... in the sa-ddle," the bard grunted, as she slung her leg over the horseís back. "There now... that wasnít so bad, now was it?" she queried, stroking the horseís mane.

Argo snorted.

"Okay, okay, so Iím not as... agile as Xena, but... Iím not as heavy either, hmm?"

Argo glanced around at the bard and stamped her foot.

"Alright, I agree, that was uncalled for. I mean, I love her too, ya know," she added, patting the horseís mane. "Sheís my best friend, as well. At least we have that in common, right?"

Argo whinnied.

"Thatís what I thought," the bard agreed. "Now... letís go find her, hmm?" she added, lightly tapping the horseís sides with her heels.

Argo whinnied again and took off in the direction Xena was last seen.

****

"Light up ahead," Xena mumbled to herself. "May be a town... may be... a figment of my imagination. Like that... bush-man back there. Coulda sworn that was a man crouched down ready to spring on me. Bushes shouldnít be shaped like men. Why do they do that? Hope they have a tavern, cause Iím dry to the bone."

Luckily for the warrior, there was an inn with a tavern, which was still open at this time of night. She quickened her steps, seeing the sign on the door; the words ALE more of an attraction than INN at the moment.

"Hmmm, a drink and a bed, what luck," she mused, as she opened the wooden door; the hinges squealing in protest.

The tavern was dimly lit, with only a few patrons. A small, darkskinned, bald headed little man behind the bar glanced over at her, as she entered. "Hmph," he grunted, looking her up and down. "Who in Tartarus are you?" he asked.

"Umm..." Xena hesitated, her hand going to her mouth as she tried to remember her own name. "Just a traveler," she finally answered. "A very thirsty traveler."

"Uh-huh," the little man said, still looking her over. "Well, donít get nothing for free here. Not even water."

"Oh," the warrior said, instinctively turning to her friend, who usually carried their money, only to find she wasnít there. "Umph," she grunted, wondering what to do now.

"No di-nar, no service," the bartender announced, prounouncing the former word dee-ner, rather than dee-nar, as he turned his back on her. "Woman in a warriorís outfit," he said, and spit into a bucket close by.

The warrior started pacing around in a circle. "Dee-ner, Dee-ner... sounds like... Xe-ner... never been a war-yer any mean-er!"

"Xe-ner," the bartender repeated, as he quickly turned around to face her. "Youíre not... Xener, the warrior princess are you?"

Xena stopped pacing and stared at him. "And what if I am?"

"Oh well, then, thatís... thatís different then, ainít it?" the man stammered. "I mean, thereís... always a free drink for the warrior princess here. Oh yes, indeed," he continued, producing a jug and a wooden stein, the latter of which he quickly began filling. "Oh my yes, Iíve heard... a lot about Xener, yes I have. Please, come... sit... be my guest," he added, motioning to a stool at the bar and sliding the now filled stein towards her, then backing away a step.

Xena licked her lips and with only two strides was standing at the bar, the stein in her hand. "Much obliged," she said, as she turned the stein up and drained it in several large gulps. "Eehh," she said, then wiped her mouth with the back of her hand and berped.

The bartender frowned slightly at her manners, yet as soon as she sat the stein down, he was filling it again. "Whatícha doing in these parts, Xener?" he asked.

She picked up the stein and drained it a bit slower this time. Again she berped, then wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. "Donít... really know," she answered, honestly.

The bartender began refilling her stein, as he looked her over a bit more carefully. "Uh, whereís your sword?" he inquired, seeing no weapons on her person.

"Uh, I... musta left it somewhereís," she answered, watching him pour the ale.

"Didnít... happen to... run into anyone on the way here, did ya?"

Xena licked her lips again, ready for another drink. "If I did.... I donít remember right now," she replied, as she took the stein and downed only half the ale. "This is good," she complimented, then turned the stein up and downed the rest.

"Uh, thanks," the bartender said.

"Got anything to eat?" she queried, wiping her mouth.

"Uh, yeah, Iíll... Iíll get you something soon enough. You... you just go on over there to a table and make yourself comfortable."

Xena nodded. "One more for the road?" she asked, pushing the stein towards the jug.

"Uh sure... but... you leaving before I get the food?"

"Oh no, Iím staying awhile. Just... needed another drink to get me to the table," she responded, watching him pour the ale. "Iíll be needing a bed too. Got one a them handy?"

"Uh, sure, sure... and... itís all on the house, of course."

"Sounds good to me," Xena responded, as she let out a very loud berp and headed for the table in the middle of the room.

The bartender shook his head. Craziest acting warrior heíd ever seen. But, then maybe thatís how Xena operated. Sucker them in by making them think sheís inept and crazy, then sheíd make quick work of them. He shuddered at the thought.

Xena strode over to a bench in front of a small table and sat down astride it, holding the stein in her hand, as she scanned the room over itís rim. The couple closest to the door hurriedly laid their money on the table, got up and left.

"Hmph, wonder what their hurry was?" she mused, as she caught site of yet another couple over near one corner.

The red headed woman was coming onto the dark haired man pretty heavy. The man, however, had his eyes on Xena, as if he feared sheíd cause trouble. Sensing this somewhere deep inside, Xena raised her stein in mock toast and tore her eyes away from the romancing couple.

"Ah Mavis..." she sighed, then took a swallow of ale. "I sure did want that little minx," she added.

Bits and pieces of memories centering around Gabrielle flooded Xenaís already overtaxed brain. The day they first met: what a little fighter Gabrielle had been, even back then. And then there was the first time Gabrielle had hugged her: overwrought with emotion when a young man sheíd just met a few days before had been called by death, the bard had turned to Xena for solace, wrapping her arms around Xenaís waist and laying her head against her chest. The warrior had been uncomfortable at first, fearing her own feelings for the young woman. And yet, she had subsequently put her own arms around the bard, trying her best to comfort her friend, while enjoying the delicious feelings of truly caring for someone.

And then one day Gabrielle had just up and left her. The bard had went back to her home, to rethink her decision to continue following Xena. And the warrior was left standing, all alone.

The heartache of that moment washed over the warrior once again. She took a long swig of ale to try and wash down the lump rising in her throat, as well as, clear her thoughts. Yet, jealousy rose to the surface now, as a memory of Gabrielleís marriage to Perdecus took center stage. Xena had wanted to voice her objections to that marriage; tell the bard how she felt about her and yet... in the end, she had opted to remain silent, wishing only happiness for her young friend. She had wanted so badly to kiss Gabrielle full and square on the lips at their parting; give the bard a glimpse of the feelings she harbored for her inside. But, there again, her friendís happiness had come first in her heart, and sheíd merely kissed the bard near the corner of her mouth.

The warrior took another swig of ale, holding the stein now with both hands, as the emotions washed over her.

Suddenly, she saw Gabrielleís face, slightly dirty, sweaty, her expression slack and lifeless; her hair damp and slicked back from her face. The bard wasnít breathing. The warrior tightened her grip on the stein, short fingernails digging into the dark wood, as the feeling of loss and helplessness nearly overwhelmed her. Gabrielle had been hurt; sheíd stopped breathing. Xena had tried everything she knew, even blowing air from her own mouth into the bardís body, yet to no avail. "Donít you leave me, Gabrielle!" the warrior had exclaimed. "Donít leave, donít leave me!" she had cried, striking the bardís chest with the side of her fist. "Wake up, wake up, wake up!!!" And suddenly, Gabrielle had gasped for breath. Xena had pulled her up in her arms, holding her friend close and looking into her eyes. Gabrielle was alive; she had come back. And Xena was so happy, tears of loss had turned to tears of joy. She had kissed the bardís forehead, so very thankful her friend had not left her.

"Oh Mavis," the crazed warrior mumbled aloud, as this scene faded right into another.

Xena was in spirit form and Gabrielle was standing before her, tears streaming from those beautiful sea-green eyes, those luscious red lips pouty and swollen. The warrior had known at that moment, that she was desperately in love with the little bard. And that sheíd never do anything intentionally to hurt her friend. And yet, overcome with emotion and longing, herself, she had kissed her friend full on the lips. The feel of those soft lips, even in spirit form, had been a dream come true for the warrior.

Xena covered her face with her hands, trying desperately to surpress the flow of dream images now crowding her mind. So many times hence, she had dreamed of making sweet passionate love to the beautiful little strawberry blonde bard. The scents, the sounds, the feel of so many light touches that had so often passed between them, since then, was almost too much to bear. Shared glances, meaningful words, a warm bath in a hot tub, a dip in a nearby stream, Gabrielle stroking Xenaís long hair, washing it for her and scrubbing her back. Oh the misery of it all. The intense longing deep inside, the incredible agony of wanting something she knew she could never have.

Xena shook her head to try and clear it once again. Then she removed her hands from her face and reached for the stein. And still the images would not go away; for, when she looked up, bringing the stein to her lips, she could see the fuzzy outline of long blonde hair, smooth face, light skinned shoulders and a green top.

"You... are... beautiful," she said, repeating words the bard had once said to her.

"And so are you," a deep voice returned, as she took another swig of ale.

Xena swallowed hard and shook her head once more. "Now youíre answering me."

"Shouldnít I?" the voice asked.

"No, just... sit quietly," Xena responded, the fuzzy image becoming a tiny bit clearer now.

Long blonde hair fell across the side of a pink cheek, as the voice said. "If thatís what you really want."

Xena blinked several times, remembering leaving Gabrielle by the fire and running off. The bard was still a virgin, in most respects, at least. And yet, the warrior desired her so badly, she could hardly contain the urge to reach out towards this image.

"I... want... you," she heard herself say, as she raised the stein and took another long gulp.

"I want you, too," the voice responded.

Xena glanced up rather quickly, nearly choking on her ale. "You... do?" she queried.

"Oh yeah," the voice responded.

Xena was up, knocking the bench over backwards in her haste to move the few feet separating her from the dimly lit corner and a small table for two, where the one she wanted most in all the world was sitting.

"Are you sure?" she queried, straddling the bench this image of beauty was sitting on.

"Quite," the voice responded, as its owner turned towards her.

Xena blinked several times, the image before her was becoming very blurry. The facial features were indistinct, but to her crazed mind, it didnít matter.

She reached up placing her hand on the soft fuzzy cheek. "But, youíre a virgin," she murmured.

"I didnít think it showed," the voice responded. Xenaís eyes watched the full lips form the words. "But, you can... do something about that, right?"

"Uh... well, sure," Xena answered, slowly leaning closer to those lips and shutting her eyes in preparation to savor this long awaited moment.

The door of the tavern burst open, all heads, except Xenaís, turned towards the sound. The warriorís lips missed their intended target and ended up on the side of a fuzzy cheek. Not to be discouraged, she kissed it instead.

"Iím looking... for a... woman," Gabrielle announced, a bit breathlessly, heading towards the bartender. "You canít... miss her. Sheís about... six foot tall," She paused, catching her breath and using her hand to indicate Xenaís height. "Long dark hair... beau... blue eyes," she edited herself, reaching out to steady herself with the bar. "Acts a bit... strange," she added, when the bartender offered no response.

"War-yer woman?" the small man asked softly, leaning over the bar. "With an... unquenchable thirst?"

"Yeah, thatís... entirely possible," the bard responded.

The bartender then cut his eyes over to the far corner of the room. "I told you nothing," he whispered, as he turned and disappeared through a small doorway into a back room.

Gabrielle slowly turned towards the spot his gaze had indicated. And for a moment, the rest of the room disappeared from sight, except for this dimly lit corner, where she spotted a dark haired woman, apparently hugging another woman with long blonde hair.

Time slowed to a crawl, as the dark haired woman eased back, her head now blocking Gabrielleís view of the blondeís face. Anger flared in the pit of the bardís stomach. Already having recognized the dark haired woman as Xena, Gabrielle tightened her grip on the staff in her hand. What in Tartarus is she doing with that blonde? the bard fumed. As she continued to watch, Xena raised her hands, obviously to the blondeís face. Gabrielle gripped the staff tighter, realzing as she did, that she was holding it in both hands now, as if she intended to use it.

Suddenly, time returned to normal, as Xena leaned in closer to the blonde, as if she were going to kiss her.

"Hey!" the bard shouted, as her feet began covering the distance to the corner.

Xena had closed her eyes once again in anticipation. The sound of a familiar voice rang inside her head, causing her to pause only briefly. "You... donít know... how long Iíve... waited for this, Gab..."

"Thank the gods, Iíve found you," the bard announced, as she placed one hand on Xenaís shoulder, the staff still gripped tightly in the other. She then grunted, a mixture of relief and disappointment mixing together, when she finally caught sight of the blondeís face. It belonged to a young man. Too young for Xena.

Xena turned at the feel of a hand on her shoulder, her hands sliding from the blondeís face, anger flaring inside her chest. "What do you think youíre do...?" The warrior paused, as her eyes came to rest upon the face of the lovely bard she thought sheíd been about to kiss. Only these features were contorted into a frown. She shook her head and blinked several times, before glancing between the two blondes. "Hmph, two of you," she mumbled, shutting her eyes again. "Howíd that happen?"

"Excuse me?" Gabrielle said, not quite understanding her friend. And also wondering what she had overheard Xena say right before she had interrupted them. Had she been about to say her name?

"Who... are you?" the young man with the long blonde hair asked, squinting up at the bard, as he swayed slightly.

"Sheís... my friend," Gabrielle responded. "And Iíve been looking for her all night."

"Well, looks like ya foundíer. Now... howís about... leaving us alone, hmm? Uíless youíd like to join us?" he added, one light brown eyebrow quivering, as if itís owner intended for it to arch, but couldnít quite control his facial muscles. His lips contorted into a lopsided grin, while his obviously intoxicated half closed eyes struggled to focus. "Two of you... my first time, too. Hoo-hoo, Iíll be the envy of... every man in town," he added, swaying slightly.

"Iím not sure Iím up to... two at a time," Xena murmured, reaching for her stein and taking a long swig. "But, eeh..." She paused, as she placed the stein down hard on the table. "Iím willing to give it a warriorís try. Cumímere, Mavis," she continued, turning towards the newly appeared vision of loveliness and patting her own left leg. "Weíll just have ourselves a real party then." She paused yet again, placing her arm around Gabrielleís waist, when the bard did not respond and pulling her close. "You and me and... and... you," she added, a bit hesitantly, squinting at the young man who looked like the lover she wanted.

"Al-righty A-phro-ditey!" the young man hooted, nearly falling over, as he reached out for Gabrielle, as well.

"Hey!" the bard exclaimed, snatching the hand holding the staff away from his grasp.

The young man then lost his balance and fell backwards; his hand reaching out, searching for some purchase and finding the bardís leg. Gabrielle let go of the staff and instinctively threw her arms around Xenaís neck, to avoid being pulled down by him. There was a thump as the young manís head hit the floor, followed by a loud crash, as his feet caught up under the small table and flipped it over.

"Hmph," Xena grunted, finding her face pressed against the bardís cleavage.

"I hope heís not hurt," Gabrielle mused, glancing over her shoulder at the young man, who was just raising his hand to his head. She watched with concern as the blonde opened his eyes briefly, then rolled over on his side and curled up, as if going to sleep. "Hmph, youíll live. May have a doozey of a headache tomorrow," she acknowledged. "Well, that takes care of one problem," she added, as she felt another one just beginning, in the form of lips moving against her breasts.

"Gab-bri-ul," Xena mumbled, her lips pressed between the bardís breast. "Wh-aís... gu-iní un?"

You wouldnít believe me, even on your worst day, the bard thought, gazing down at Xenaís face and finding herself not so displeased by this turn of events. Although she didnít loosen her grip.

"Whyís your... chest... in my face?" Xena further queried.

"Oh sorry," the bard responded, reluctantly letting go, altogether. "Hey," she added, "You called me by my name."

"What else should I call you?" Xena asked, glancing up, her eyes blinking in an attempt to focus.

"Are you really back?" the bard questioned, sitting down on the bench in front of her friend, her eyes searching Xenaís for some sign of sanity.

"Back from where?" Xena inquired, her voice sounding normal, at least. "Have I been drinking?" she further queried, lightly licking her lips and frowning as if sheíd eaten something bitter.

"Apparently so," the bard mumbled, glancing over at the spilled ale on the floor by the overturned table. She wondered how many of these Xena had consumed. For although the warrior wasnít a heavy drinker, she definitely had a taste for the vile concoctions. "But, I donít have time to explain it all right now, Xena. We have to get to the Temple of the Furies while youíre still sane."

"Still sane? Gabrielle what are you talking about? And where in Tartarus are we?" she further questioned, glancing around them, as she wiped her mouth with the back of her hand.

For a moment Gabrielle couldnít help but wonder what else had touched those lips besides a stein of ale. Had she interrupted them before anything took place or... had they been at it already? She quickly pushed the thought aside, for she needed to concentrate on the more important issues.

"Look at me, Xena," the bard said, taking Xenaís face in both her hands and turning it towards her, making sure she had the warriorís full attention. "We have to get to the temple, alright. The Furies or...someone has placed a spell on you and we have to find out what this is all about."

"Furies? The Furies donít place spells on people," Xena retorted, her brows furrowing.

"Well, whatever. Just please, Xena, trust me," Gabrielle pleaded, staring into the warriorís eyes. "Iíve trusted you before and now... itís your turn to trust me, hmm. Now come on, we havenít got much time. You could... go mad again at any moment," she added, reaching down to retrieve her staff, as she got up.

"But, I donít understand..."

"Of course not," the bard interjected, reaching over and taking her hand. "But, I promise, Iíll explain everything on the way. As best I can," she added softly, pulling the warrior to her feet. "Hey, bartender!" she called out, leading Xena across the room. "Itís alright, you can come out now. I found my friend and... weíre leaving."

A small bald head appeared from behind the bar. "Did... she kill him?" he asked, his wide grey eyes going to the dimly lit corner.

"Oh no, he just... he passed out," the bard lied. "Tell me, do you know anything about the Temple of the Furies? I seem to recall itís around here somewhere."

"Uh, yeah it is. Itís... up the road... several miles," he answered, eyeing the overturned table and the young man on the floor, before turning those grey orbs on the warrior herself.

"Can you be more specific?" Gabrielle asked.

"Uh y-yeah, when the road forks outside of the next town, stay to the r-right. Itís not far from there."

"Donít worry, Iíll be back through here to pay her bill and... any damages," the bard assured him.

"Oh n-no. No n-need for that," the obviously scared little man offered. "J-just... take her and... g-go... please," he added. Gabrielle wasted no time in doing just that.

Chapter 2

"Xena wait," Gabrielle said, as the warrior started to mount Argo. "I need to lead, in case you... flip out again."

"Flip out," Xena grumbled. "Iíve never flipped out in my life."

"Yeah, well, whatever, but... you donít know where you are or... how you got here, do you?"

Xena sighed heavily. "Point taken," she reluctantly agreed, cupping her hands and extending them towards the bard, in order to help her mount the horse.

Once settled in the saddle, Gabrielle offered the warrior her hand.

"No need for that," Xena responded. "Iíve been mounting horses for years. Just scoot up some," she advised, as she strode off several paces behind the horse. She then took two long strides and pummeled up and over Argoís rear end onto her back.

"Umph!" Gabrielle grunted, as her lower body was slammed up against the saddle horn.

"You alright?" Xena inquired.

"Oh... yeah, just... pea-chy," Gabrielle responded, as she eased back from the saddle horn, then mumbled, "Although I wonít be using that part of my anatomy any time soon."

"Huh?"

"Oh, I just... I said we need to get going if... weíre gonna get there anytime soon."

"Well, hang on tight," Xena advised, as she grabbed hold of Gabrielleís waist with both hands, then let out a loud whistle.

The bard covered her left ear with one hand and barely managed to grab the saddle horn with the other, as Argo lurched forward, as if sheíd been shot in the behind with an arrow.

Although it was difficult to converse, with Argo galloping, the bard did the best she could to bring Xena up to date. Omitting, of course, her lascivious behavior, whenever possible. When they both were tired of screaming in order to be heard, they traveled in companionable silence for a while. Soon, however, Gabrielle felt more weight being placed on her back, which aroused her curiosity.

"Hey, what are you doing back there?" the bard inquired.

"Uh... Iím... Iím just... tired," Xena mumbled in response.

"Oh, well, maybe we should slow down or... stop even... so you can get some rest," the bard reluctantly offered.

"No, donít... slow down on my account. Iíll be... fine."

"Well, at least put your arms around me, tighter," the bard suggested. "So if you do go to sleep, you wonít fall off. At least not right away," she added, mumbling the latter to herself.

Xena did as she was told, without a quarrel, for once. Her arms going around the bardís waist, her head leaning against the bardís shoulder, her senses slowly filling with the wonderful sensations that so many nerve endings were sending to her brain. The feel of the soft bare skin covering Gabrielleís tight stomach muscles; the tickling sensations caused by the bardís hair flying back upon her own shoulder; the familiar aroma of her friendís own personal scent and the warmth of the lithe body in front of her, all came together inside her head, sending her brain into sensory overload.

When Gabrielle felt Xena relax behind her, she gently pulled back on the reins, slowing Argo down to a walk.

No sense wearing you out, needlessly, the bard thought, as she patted the horseís neck. Hopefully, Xenaíll sleep awhile and we wonít need to be in such a rush.

Gabrielle was now able to relax a little herself. And as she did so, the days events began playing out in her mind. When the scene from the tavern surfaced, she lingered here a while.

Had she overheard Xena correctly? Had she been about to say her name, when she was leaning over to kiss that guy? The bard once again heard Xena saying, "You donít know how long Iíve waited for this, Gab...." Had Xena known the guyís name? And could it have been Gabriel or something similar?

"Mustíve been," she mumbled aloud. "It couldnít have been my name. No... surely not."

Xena sighed and shifted slightly behind her, one of her hands slipping from the bardís waist and dropping into her lap. Gabrielle glanced down at this hand, and for a moment, wished itís owner were not asleep. Then she willed this thought away and reached down, taking the hand in her own. She gently rubbed the back of the long strong fingers with her thumb, feeling the fine hairs between the warriorís knuckles and the bend of her fingers. She thought about how many times she had wanted to hold this hand. To have it touch her; roam over her body, exploring every nook and cranny; laying claim to all those, heretofore, unconquered territories. Xena would be a gentle lover, or so she believed in her heart. All the light meaningful touches they had shared over the past two years seemed mute testimony to this prognastication. While mulling this over, the bard unconsciously laced her friends with that of her friend, resting them both on her thigh.

"I love you, Xena," she whispered into the darkness.

It wasnít long before the bardís body was sending signals to her brain concerning the need for sleep. Gabrielle fought it as best she could. Yet, the gentle rocking of the horseís gait, the warm body pressed against her back, arms around her waist and Xenaís steady even breathing, all conspired against her and lulled her off to sleep.

Xenaís eyes sprang open at Argoís snort. She raised her head slowly from Gabrielleís shoulder. It was evident they were no longer moving. Argo had stopped and was glancing back at them. Xena could tell the bard was asleep, her head resting against the warriorís own shoulder.

"Good girl, Argo," Xena whispered, as she started to reach for the reins with her right hand, but found it already encumbered; Gabrielleís fingers locked tightly between hers. It was obvious the bard had fallen asleep holding her hand. A smile turned down the corners of Xenaís mouth, as she felt a warm glow fill her heart. She dared not remove her hand, for it felt too good right where it was.

Argo snorted again.

"Okay, girl, Iím awake now," the warrior responded, taking the reins in her left hand. "Letís get going," she added, clicking her tongue softly, so as not to disturb her friend.

Argo shook her head and stamped her foot, as if in protest. Evidently she had wanted Xena and Gabrielle to dismount.

"Come on now, girl," Xena soothed. "I know youíre tired. We all are. I donít understand all of this, either. But... we need to keep moving. If for no other reason, than to find a place to rest," she added, lightly tapping Argo with her heels.

Argo snorted again, yet began moving.

Xena rubbed her thumb lightly over the one finger of Gabrielleís hand which she could reach. The smile returned to her face, as she felt the small callus on the index finger of the bardís right hand. She could only assume this was caused from the quill Gabrielle used to write her stories. A mental picture of the bard sitting close to the fire, hovered over one of her scrolls, writing furiously about their latest adventure, slowly meandered past her mindís eye.

Xena had tried to read Gabrielleís scrolls once, but it hadnít been a very pleasureable experience. She could not bring herself to admit that the bardís vocabulary far exceeded her own. Iím just a butt kicking warrior, she thought. And with this admission came the realization that she could not participate in the bardís world of the written word, no more than Gabrielle could embrace her world of the butt-kicking warrior. For, where the bard sought solace and justice within the confines of the written or spoken word, Xena found her own form of justice at the end of a sword.

We are worldís apart, my precious little bard, she thought, and yet... I wouldnít want it any other way. Youíve brought so much joy and happiness to my life, with your gentle heart and soft spoken ways. I canít bear the thought of ever losing you.

Oh, but, what would you think if you knew exactly how I felt about you? Would it scare you? Would I be... corrupting your soul if... I had you the way I want? Ah, the things you make me feel, she thought, nuzzling her face into the bardís soft hair. She inhaled the delicate aroma that was Gabrielleís alone, while feeling a tightening in her groin.

You just donít know how... very hard it is to resist... touching you... claiming you for myself, when we are close like this. I know I should move away and yet... it feels too good. I want to make you mine so badly, Gabrielle, that I can almost... taste it, she added, her eyes now scanning the bardís fuzzy cheek and delicate bow shaped lips. I love you, Gabrielle. Like Iíve never loved anyone in my entire life. But... I dare not tell you... for I could not bear for you to look at me in fear or horror. It would break my heart in so many pieces, Iím afraid it would never heal.

Xena sighed heavily, as she raised her head, her eyes spotting a faint glow up ahead. For a long moment, she debated whether she should stop here, if this was indeed a town coming up. Yet, her thoughts were becoming jumbled. Too many images were crowding in on her brain. Images of the past, of Gabrielle, of dreams sheíd had about the little bard in her arms. She couldnít seem to concentrate. Something was wrong... terribly wrong. Was this what Gabrielle had meant by "flipping out"? Was she really going insane? She shook her head, as an image of laying Gabrielle down on the ground flooded her mind. If she was going crazy, then what might she do to Gabrielle in this state?

Xena tapped Argoís side with her heels, in order to make her go faster. If she was going to flip out, then she needed to get her friend to a safe place. Safe from her and her madness.

Gabrielle woke with a start, finding herself in Xenaís arms. "What... Where...?" she stammered, looking up into the warriorís blue eyes, as Xena adjusted her weight in her arms.

"What are we doing here?" Gabrielle asked, glancing around them and seeing what looked like and - even from here - smelled like a stable.

"My horse needs a rest," Xena responded, never taking her eyes off the bardís. "And so do we, donícha think so, Mavis?"

"Uh-oh," Gabrielle grumbled, realizing Xena had, for all intents and purposes, lost her mind again. For, she was calling her Mavis and looking at her strangely. And furthermore, she was holding her off the ground, in her arms. "Uh, Xena,... put me down, please," the bard added, as the warrior began carrying her through the open stable doors.

"Uh-uh," the warrior responded, her gaze now focused straight ahead. "I kinda like this."

"Uh-huh, well,.. I donít like..." The bard paused, as Xena stumbled. Gabrielle threw her arms around the warriorís neck, as the latter regained her footing and stood holding her.

"Umm... thatís even better," Xena noted, her face now mere inches from the bardís.

"Xena, please... put me down, we have to get to that temple remember?"

"Why?" the warrior responded. "I donít know anyone there, do you?" she inquired, staring into the bardís eyes, before her gaze fell to her lips.

"Uh, no..." Gabrielle responded, caught up in the thrill of the moment, as she saw in the warriorís eyes a look sheíd seen once before with Perdecus. Only Xenaís gaze was much more intense and... exciting.

"Good, then we can stay right here," Xena said, dropping down to her knees in the soft hay. She then gently laid Gabrielle back and slowly stretched out beside her, one long leg crossing over the bardís shorter one. "Nothing like a good roll in the hay," she added, arching her eyebrows up and down in a suggestive manner.

"Uh... yeah..." Gabrielle uttered, as she came back to her senses. "I... I do know someone at that temple, Xena and... we need to get there fast," she added, starting to raise up.

"Not so fast there, Mavis," Xena retorted, holding her down. "Who is this person, hmm?"

"Umm.. a priest."

"Priests are no fun, Mavis, believe me. Most of them are on that... celibacy kick, ya know."

"Uh yeah well, thatís... not why I need to see him."

"Oh, you got a problem, Midge?"

"Oh yeah. A... pretty big one," the bard acknowledged, still trying to push Xena away, so she could get up, but not giving it a concerted effort. For, she was also fascinated with this turn of events, as well as Xenaís behavior. Especially so, since those luscious looking warrior lips were so close now.

"You can tell me, Midge. Iíll listen," the warrior offered, reaching up and touching Gabrielleís face, as her lips moved even closer. "I might even be able to help."

"Uh yeah, I bet you could at that," Gabrielle mumbled, her eyes still on the glistening red lips that had formed those words. "But..." She shook her head to clear it. "...no, I need a priest... believe me."

The warrior sighed heavily. "Okay Mavis," she said, rolling over onto her back. "If ya gotta go, you gotta go." She then yawned and stretched langoriously, those long muscular warrior arms extending to their full length above her head. "Iíll be waiting right here, when you get back."

Gabrielle sat up quickly. "But I need you to go with me."

"Nope," Xena responded, her lips protruding in a pout, as she crossed one long smooth leg over the other, while putting her hands behind her head, arms akimbo. "Iím not the one who needs a priest, remember?"

The bard sighed heavily, turning away from the enticing sight of the warrior all stretched out on the hay. She needed to concentrate on searching for a way to change Xenaís crazed mind.

"I bet they have a bed," she offered, saying the first thing that came to mind.

Xenaís brows furrowed. "Hey, I ainít into no kinky stuff," she retorted. "Having some priest watch, donít do a thing for me, Mavis."

"Uh... huh," the bard acknowledged, scratching the side of her face, while searching for some other idea. Perferably one without any sexual overtones.

Wonder how she got on this track, anyway, the bard pondered. Sheís been coming onto me since... well, since I led her back from that village, where she was standing out there naked. The bard shook her head to free it of that image. Why canít I get her mind off this? Could it be some residual effect from cupidís son having shot her with his little arrow, causing her to fall for Draco? Draco... now thereís an idea...

"What if I told you... Draco would be there?" the bard queried.

"Hmph, Draco? He doesnít inítrest..." The warrior paused. "Oh, I see now. Thatís who youíre going to see and not some... priest," she grumbled.

Oops, bad idea, Gabriellle thought.

"Well... go on, Mavis. Far be it for me to stand in the way of true love," the warrior continued. "But I have to tell ya, I donít think Dracoís your type."

"I have no interest in Draco, either," Gabrielle corrected, with a heavy sigh. "Just... forget I ever mentioned him."

"Hmph," Xena responded. "Whatever you say, Mavis."

Whatever you say, Mavis, the bard mouthed silently. Then another idea hit her. "And what if I said you are going with me?" she questioned.

"Nope, sorry, Mavis, no can do," Xena responded, shaking her head. "I donít need a priest to help me with my problem. All I need is... you."

Gabrielle turned to face her friend, wondering if Xena really meant what she was saying. Nawh, she told herself, as she quickly turned back around. Face it, Gabrielle, sheís just plain horny and youíre the only thing in sight. Yet, that couldnít be totally true, because Xena could easily go off and find someone else. Matter of fact, sheíd already done that once tonight, in that tavern.

Yeah, someone who looked a lot like you, her mind suggested.

No, he didnít, she argued with herself.

Oh yes he did and remember what Xena said: "Two of you.. now howíd that happen?" And she also said: "Weíll just have us a real party you and me and.... you," she had added, looking at that guy, remember? Her mind prodded.

"No," Gabrielle mumbled aloud, not able to believe that Xena really did want her and only her.

"Stay with me, Mavis," Xena said softly, sitting up now and placing her hand lightly on the bardís shoulder. "You can see... whoever... some other time, hmm?" she added, her thumb making little circling motions on the bardís arm.

"Okay, okay. I give up. You win," Gabrielle grumbled, totally frustrated now with the situation, as well as, herself for liking Xenaís crazy behavior too much. "Look, Iíll... go get Argo and... get her settled in one of the stalls, if..." She paused and turned towards Xena, holding up her index finger. "If you promise youíll stay right here." The bard pointed her finger at the ground.

"Oh, I will," the warrior responded with a lascivious grin.

"You wonít leave this stable, right?" Gabrielle clarified, staring into Xenaís eyes now.

"Oh, I promise," the warrior responded, crossing her chest with her index finger.

"Okay. Well,... and when I get through weíll... weíll get some sleep, agreed?" the bard added.

The large grin quickly faded from the warriorís face, as she fell back on the hay. "Sure, Mavis, whatever you say," she grumbled.

****

Gabrielle busied herself removing Argoís saddle and settling her into the stall, content that Xena would stick to her promise and stay put. When she was finished, however, she came out of the stall to find Xena was nowhere in sight. And neither was her chakram.

"Oh Gr-reat Z-zeus," the bard fumed. "I turn my back for one moment, one measly little moment, and... what happens? You promised me you would not leave this stable! Oooo, Xena!" she exclaimed. "When I get my..."

"Yeah?" came a reply from somewhere above her head.

Gabrielle glanced up, noticing the ladder leading up into what was apparently a small hay loft. "Where are you?" she asked.

"Up here, Midge," came the reply. "Come on up. It smells a heap better than down there."

The bard breathed a sigh of relief. Little did she know this was a bit premature, however.

"Hey, check this out, Mavis," the warrior commented, as Gabrielle entered the loft.

The bard was surprised to find moon light streaming in from the open loft door, revealing Xena laid out on her back, stark naked in all her long limbed glory; her chakram spinning around on her index finger. Gabrielle watched the warrior send the weapon spinning up into the air and then catch it between her palms, mere inches from her bare chest.

"By the Gods!" Gabrielle exclaimed, quickly dropping down beside her friend. "Put that thing away before you... kill yourself!" She then reached for the razor sharp weapon.

"Ah-ah-ahh," Xena teased, moving it quickly out of armís reach, beyond her own head. "You want it... youíre gonna have to come aní get it." She waved the chakram back and forth and arched her eyebrows up and down.

Gabrielle stared down at her friend, wondering if somewhere beneath all that leather and hard, stoic exterior, there lurked this side of Xena, which she was just now getting a glimpse of. Deep down, was Xena really attracted to her and just hiding it? Or was she completely insane; acting on impulses a sane Xena had never even considered before? Would she be making passes at anyone she happened to be around? And what would happen if her friend stayed this way? Could she put up with someone who was this... irritating?

Irritatingly beautiful, she thought, gazing into the intense bright blue eyes of the woman she loved. Oh please, she prayed in her mind, the furies cannot be so cruel as to leave her this way!

She was suddenly taken aback by the intense look that came into Xenaís eyes. She had a feeling she was about to be in real trouble now. And such a delicate and confusing dilemna at that. For, on the one hand, she wanted nothing more than to lay down with this beautiful warrior princess, even if she was stark raving mad. But on the other hand, she knew that if Xena came out of this sane, she would regret not doing all she could to preserve this special moment. That is, if she ever got the chance to be with Xena like this later on.

"Great Zeus, give me strength," Gabrielle mumbled.

"Hmph," the warrior grunted, the chakram dropping from her hand like a childís forgotten toy, when their attention wandered. "You shouldnít look at me that way, Mavis," Xena said softly, as she raised up beside Gabrielle. "Cumímere," she added, reaching out for the bard and pulling her close for a hug. "You have no idea what you do to me, do you?" the warrior queried close to the bardís ear. "Canít you feel my heart beating?"

"Uh... no," the bard responded. For, all she could feel was her own heart pounding away inside her chest, the sound reverberating in her ears, at the mere thought of Xenaís naked body pressed so close to her own.

The warrior eased back and reached out for Gabrielleís arm, her fingers gently gliding down the length of it, until she encountered the bardís hand. Xena then took her friendís hand and placed it upon the left side of her chest, over her heart. "Can you feel it now?" she asked.

Gabrielle merely nodded. Her lips so tightly pressed together, the lump in her throat so large, she couldnít utter a single word. And the only thing she could think about was how very close her hand was to touching one of those light olive skinned mounds, she had so often admired. She involuntarily licked her lips, as her eyes traveled lower, drinking in the sight of one light brown areola; the skin around it still tightening, and the much darker protrusion in the center, growing more taunt and erect right before her eyes.

"This... is what you do to me," the warrior said, guiding the bardís hand lower.

"B-by the G-gods," Gabrielle gasped, her hand tingling; her groin tightening, as she felt the erect nipple pass beneath her palm and slip between her fingers. "Mmm," she squeaked, as Xena leaned over, her lips landing on the side of the bardís cheek. These same lips then left a trail in their wake, as they made their way towards her ear.

"I... want... you," the warrior whispered in her ear. "Please... lay down with me... let me make love to you."

"Y-yes-s," Gabrielle responded, her tired brain, so totally intoxicated by the recent events, was unable or unwilling to inform her of what sheíd just consented to.

"Umm, cumímere then," Xena said softly, as she slowly laid back, her hand behind the bardís neck now, pulling the latter down on top of her.

When the exposed skin of Gabrielleís stomach came in direct contact with that of Xenaís naked body, the air rushed out of the bardís lungs in one great whoosh. So depleted of oxygen was she, that she could not move even one small muscle. She felt as if her body no longer belonged to her. It belonged solely to this wanton warrior beneath her.

"You feel so good," the warrior announced, her hands roaming over the bardís exposed back.

Gabrielle gasped, taking in a great lungful of badly needed air. "Gr-reat Z-eus-s!" she added, as Xena moved one long leg underneath her left one, causing Gabrielle to feel both sides of Xenaís naked thigh against the insides of each of her own.

"Oh Xe-na!í she breathed, burying her face in the warriorís neck, as that sensitive area at the apex of her thighs came to rest astride the warriorís exposed hip.

"Umm, yes, Mavis," the warrior responded, her hands beginning to roam over the bardís backside.

As soon as Gabrielleís brain registered the name Mavis, which took a moment or two, bells went off in her head.

By the godís, Gabrielle thought, Iíve wanted this woman for so long. And now, Iíve got her. But... this.. isnít right. Sheís not making love to me. She thinks sheís with someone named Mavis, for Zeus sake!

You are Mavis to her, her mind argued.

No Iím not. I donít even know any... Mavis and... I canít let this continue. Not this way. It just isnít the way I wanted it to be. I canít let it happen this way. I WONíT let it happen!

Gabrielle started to raise up, but the warrior was holding her too tightly.

"Xena, I canít... do this,"

"Ssh, Mavis, itís okay to be afraid," the warrior soothed, pressing their bodies together with one hand, while the other moved up the bardís back, holding her down more easily.

"Iím not afraid," Gabrielle grumbled, trying not to succumb to the sensations in her lower body, caused by Xena moving her hip ever so slightly against her. "By the gods, Xena... I just... I donít wanna do this."

"You said you did a while ago, Mavis. And I know you want me as much as I want you."

"How can you know that?" the bard had to ask.

"Because you were so eager in the tavern," she responded.

"In the tavern?" Gabrielle mumbled.

"Yes, you said that I was beautiful, that you wanted me and... your hands were all over..."

"Stop!" Gabrielle exclaimed, realizing Xena had mistaken her for the young man. Or vice-versa. She wasnít sure which at the moment and didnít really care to try and sort it out. She only knew she didnít want to hear anymore. Nor was she about to let things proceed any further.

Once again, she struggled to raise up, but to no avail. "Xena, let me go," she said angrily.

"No," the warrior responded adamantly, holding her even more firmly with only one hand. "I canít let you go, Mavis. I need you. I have to have you," she continued, running her hand over the bardís firm behind. "Oh yes, you feel even better than in my dreams," she added, her fingers inching beneath Gabrielleís skirt.

"Xena, please, stop!" Gabrielle pleaded, hardly able to believe what was transpiring now. "You... donít wanna do this."

"You donít know how long Iíve waited for this, Gabrielle."

Wait, isnít that what she said in the tavern? the bard questioned herself. And what was this about her dreams?

"I want you so badly," the warrior continued, "Please donít... force me to... take you roughly, Gabrielle. I want you to... enjoy this as much as I do."

Take you roughly, Gabrielle, the bard thought. Hey, she used my real name, she added, as she felt the warriorís fingers trail the edge of her undergarment. They moved around the outside of her leg and down to her inner thigh, where they began forcing their way beneath her underwear.

"NO!" Gabrielle exploded, her lower body hungering for this touch and yet, she was so angry and hurt that she could not, would not allow herself to succumb to the temptation of enjoying it. Xena HAD to be COMPLETELY out of her mind to do this!!

And so, for the lack of any other way to force the warrior into letting her loose, the bard chose to utilize the only option she had available to her. She sank her teeth into the side of Xenaís neck.

The warrior yelped in pain and roughly pushed the bard off. Gabrielle rolled over and scrambled to her feet as quickly as she could. She then moved towards the ladder, ready to flee, in case Xena sought revenge. The warrior only lay there, however, holding the left side of her neck; her eyes wide and glassy, staring up at the ceiling.

"Iím... sorry, Xena," the bard whispered, a lump forming in her throat.

"Gabrielle?" the warrior mumbled, her eyes seeking out the direction of the bardís voice. "Whatís... going on?" she asked, as she slowly sat up. "What... in Hades bit me?" she further queried, rubbing her neck now.

"Xena... are you... really back?" Gabrielle asked, hesitantly moving towards her friend, watching intently for some sign of sanity... or insanity.

"Back from where?" Xena queried, removing her hand from her neck and checking her palm for blood. "And why are you... looking at me so... strangely?"

"Oh, thank the gods, you are back!" Gabrielle exclaimed, dropping to her knees beside her friend and throwing her arms around Xenaís neck.

"Gabri-elle... what...?"

"And youíre even calling me by my real name," the bard murmured, as she burst into tears.

"Wh-why... are... you... crying?" the warrior asked, her voice strained because Gabrielle had her in a stranglehold. "Gab-brielle... youíre choking me," she added.

"Oh... Iím sorry," the bard apologized, as she eased back to face her friend. There were tears streaming down her cheeks, as she took the warriorís face in her hands. "Iím just so... very glad... youíre back," she uttered.

And then suddenly, she leaned over and kissed Xena full on the lips. When she pulled back, the warrior was staring at her, seemingly stunned speechless. Her lips quivered, as if the owner wanted them to form words, yet nothing materialized.

"S-sorry," the bard apologized, putting her hand to her own mouth; her own lips tingling from the abrupt and forceful nature of the contact. "But, Xena, listen to me. We have to get going. You remember about the Temple of the Furies, right? We need to see the priest there, remember?" The bard did not wait for a response before continuing, "Well, we may not have much time before you... flip out again. So..." Gabrielle paused, as she turned and gathered up the warriorís leather outfit and breastplate lying nearby. "Here," she added, shoving these against Xenaís bare chest. "Get dressed."

"Gabrielle, all I wanna know is... why am I sitting in... what I assume is a hay loft... naked as the day I was born, with... a bite on my neck?"

"Itís... a long story," the bard answered, getting to her feet and adjusting her undergarment. "Iíll explain everything on the way to the temple, I promise."

****

Once again, it was hard to converse, as they jostled along on Argoís back, the horse galloping at full speed. Yet, Gabrielle did the best she could. Xenaís nakedness, as well as, a host of other things, she blamed on the madness. The bite, she explained away as Xena waking up and mistaking her for Callisto and attacking her. Gabrielle had defended herself the only way she could.

Xena bought the story and apologized profusely for her behavior; her concern for Gabrielleís welfare seemed to be uppermost in her mind.

The bard breathed a sigh of relief, when all the questions ceased. And they rode in companionable silence, until they reached the temple.

When Xena was helping the bard down from the horse, however, it was becoming apparent that her sanity was once again on the wane. Gabrielle recognized that look in her eyes.

"Why are we going in there, Mavis?" the warrior asked, as they started up the temple steps.

"Youíll see," Gabrielle replied, reaching for the door.

"Oh, is this the temple youíve been so eager to get to. Hey, but I thought you said you wanted me, not some pries..."

"S-sh!" Gabrielle exclaimed, putting her hand over Xenaís mouth. "I do want you and only you, okay. You got that. Now..." the bard paused, as she opened the door. "Xena, pull yourself together," she added, tugging on Xenaís hand.

"Pull my finger," the warrior quipped, as the heavy door creaked behind them.

The original episode picks up here: Xena and Gabrielle find out that Xena must kill her mother, who murdered her father, in order to satisfy the Furies and end the madness and persecution. Yet, Xena outsmarts Ares, as usual, who was behind all this.

Chapter 3

The rest of our story picks up after Xena and Gabrielle have escorted Cyrene, Xenaís mother, back to Amphipolis.

"Bye Cyrene," Gabrielle called, as she and Xena walked out of her motherís inn. "Xena, do you think your mother... bought all that about... Ares?"

"Donít know," Xena responded, her face showing no emotion, as usual. "I guess if anyone knows the truth of my parentage, she would."

"Did you... ask her?"

"Nawh. I just... I wanna put this all behind me. And get more sleep. Iím still beat."

"So am I. We missed a nightís sleep, remember," Gabrielle said, as Xena glanced over at her. "Well no, I guess you donít. And itís probably just as well." The bard paused, scratching the side of her mouth. "Why didnít you ask your mother for a room? We could have stayed over."

"Nawh, Iíd rather... put some room between me and Mom. Just in case," Xena said, as she walked up to Argo, the latter of whom had not suffered one bit from her stay in a stable Gabrielle had found, after sheíd left the temple of the Furies.

"You know, Iím very... amazed at the way you handled things," Gabrielle commented. "Youíre very smart, even... when youíre off your rocker."

"Thanks... I think."

"There... you two... are," called a familiar male voice, sounding slightly out of breath. "Iíve been... looking for you... all over."

"Hello Joxer," Xena greeted, her tone suggesting his presence was not exactly a welcome sight.

"Xena, Gabrielle, how are... things?"

"Oh just fine now, Joxer," Xena answered, turning her back to him and adjusting Argoís saddle.

"Yeah, I heard you were... having a few problems with... the Furies," Joxer said, as he walked over beside Gabrielle. "She really okay?" he mumbled quietly. "Or is she... you know?" He gestured with one finger in a circle near the side of his head.

"Sheís fine now, Joxer," Gabrielle assured him.

"Oh... well, when I heard about your problems, I came as quick as I could. Thought you might need my help."

"Thanks, but Xena handled it all by herself, as usual," the bard responded.

"Donít sell yourself short, Gabrielle," Xena retorted over her shoulder, then turned to face her. "If it hadnít been for you, Iíd never have known what was happening to me," she continued, placing her arm around Gabrielleís shoulders. "Itís a sign of true friendship when someone will stand by you when youíre out of your head and... nearly try to kill them."

"Kill them?" Joxer screeched, taking a few steps back from Xena.

"Relax Joxer," Gabrielle soothed. "Sheís back to normal now. No... real harm done."

"Oh. Well, so..." He paused, as Xena mounted Argo. "where are you two off to now?"

"To find a nice soft place to sleep," Xena answered.

"Yeah, weíre beat," Gabrielle intoned, looking up at Xena and making a face that seemed to be asking a question. The warriorís brow furrowed. "You gonna offer me a hand up or not?" Gabrielle finally asked.

"Hmph," was all Xena said, before she extended her arm to the bard and pulled her up.

"Oh well,.. mind if I come along?" Joxer asked. "I mean, after all, I did come all this way to help..."

"Sure, Joxer, come on," Xena grumbled. "You look like you could use some sleep, too."

"Oh no, I just... woke up," he admitted. "I... stayed the night in your motherís inn," he added sheepishly.

"So, howíd you find out about Xenaís trouble?" Gabrielle queried.

"You know how warriors and bounty hunters love to talk."

"Think those men have heard about what happened here? The persecution part, I mean, did it end too?" Gabrielle asked Xena.

"I suppose so. But, I guess weíll find out soon enough."

"Howíd you know to come here, Joxer?" Gabrielle further queried.

"I put two and two together," he said proudly.

Gabrielle frowned.

"Whereís the first place a crazy woman would go? Home, of course. Oops, sorry Xena," he added. "No offense."

"None taken," she assured him in her deadpan voice, as she urged Argo forward.

"I heard a good joke the other day," Joxer announced, walking along beside them. "Wanna hear it?"

"No!" both women said simultaneously.

****

"Xena, why are we stopping here?" Gabrielle questioned, frowning because this place looked somewhat familiar.

"Seems a good place to bed down."

"What is it with you and stables lately? You got some kind of obsession with them or something?"

"No, not that I know of. But Argo needs new shoes and... what better place to find someone who knows where I can get her shod?" Xena responded. "Unless of course, youíre gonna conjure up some dinars for a bed in an inn."

"Wish I could do that," the bard retorted. "But, I could use a pair of new boots, if youíre buying."

"Ha Ha," Xena said offering Gabrielle her arm, so she could dismount. Once the bard was on the ground, Xena got off as well.

Upon seeing Joxer coming their way, Gabrielle spun around towards her friend. "Xena, can you....?" She paused, coming face to face with the warriorís chest. "Uh... hmm..."

"Yes?" Xena prodded, when the bard did not continue right away.

Gabrielle cleared her throat and looked up at Xena, then suddenly felt rather dizzy.

"You... alright?" Xena queried, reaching out and grabbing Gabrielleís arm to steady her.

"Uh... yeah, I... I just felt... dizzy all of a sudden."

"Too little sleep and... not enough food will do that," the warrior commented, gazing down at her friend. "We both could use more of each."

"Hey, why are we stopping here?" Joxer asked, slowing approaching them.

"Xena, can you send him on an errand or something?" Gabrielle whispered rapidly. "Ple-ase," she pleaded.

The warrior arched one dark eyebrow, as she stared down at her friend. Bits and pieces of memory began floating in and out of focus. And these images were not exactly what she needed to be thinking about, right now.

"Uh, sure, Iíll... Joxer," she said, breaking eye contact with Gabrielle and walking towards him. "Think you can round us up something to eat for later on, hmm? Funny thing... we donít have more than two dinars to rub together at the moment."

"Oh, you need food. Well then Joxerís your man," he said proudly.

"Good, good," Xena acknowledged. "Well... what are you waiting for?" she queried, when he made no move to leave.

"Oh, I thought you might need some help... getting settled in, ya know," he responded, eyeing Gabrielle sheepishly.

"Uh, no. Weíve... weíve been making our own camp for years now. You... just run along now. Weíre gonna get some shut-eye, hmm?" Xena explained.

"Oh, yeah... sure. I forgot how tired you guys are. Okay, sure... Iíll... Iíll be back... before dark, say?"

"Fine, fine," Xena agreed.

"Okay. See ya later, Gabrielle," he called over his shoulder.

"Not if I see you first," the bard mumbled.

****

When they were all settled in - Xenaís bedroll laid out near the foot of Gabrielleís - the warrior noticed the bard had been unusually quiet throughout the whole process. There was something on her mind, but she wasnít talking about it.

"Okay, Gabrielle," Xena said, as she laid back on her bedroll. "What gives, hmm? You had me send Joxer away for some reason. And now... youíre acting... odd. Wanna tell me what it is?"

The bard sighed heavily, as she herself laid back. "I just... I wanted some peace and quiet."

"Uh-huh, since when?"

"Since I havenít had much sle-ep, re-member?" the bard said, yawning.

"Hmph," the warrior grunted. "Oh... that reminds me, I never did thank you for... everything you did for me."

"You donít need to thank me," the bard responded.

"Oh yes. Yes I do. I... I mean I know it musta took a lot to... stay around someone who was... out of her mind and... even tried to kill you."

"Itís okay. Thatís what friends are f-f-or," the bard said, unable to suppress another yawn.

Xena chuckled.

"Hmm, whatís funny?" the bard inquired.

"Oh, nothing."

"Come on, tell me," the bard prodded. "I could use a good laugh."

"Well..." The warrior snickered. "You know that... bite mark on my neck?"

"Oh yeah, Xena Iím really sorry about that," Gabrielle said, sitting up now. "I... I just didnít know any other..."

"Donít worry about it," Xena interrupted. "You were fighting for your life. Iím surprised I didnít... really... hurt you. I... I donít think I could... live with myself if I had."

"You didnít... hurt me, Xena. I... I think somewhere deep inside... you knew who I was. I mean, at least... you did right after I bit you. So, I think maybe... you were fighting the madness, ya know."

"Hmph," Xena merely grunted.

"Oh, you were saying?" Gabrielle prodded. "Something... funny about the bite mark?"

"Ah yes." The warrior snickered again. "You know what mother said when she saw it?"

"She was afraid you were gonna turn into a Bacchi?"

"Oh, no." Xena chuckled again. "What she said was, looks like youíve been rolling around with a very hungry lover."

Gabrielle clamped her lips shut, feeling her face heat up from embarrassment.

"Youíre not laughing," Xena noted, "whatís wrong?"

"Oh... I... Iím just... wondering what that bite looks like, I mean... should we put something on it?"

"Always looking out for me, huh?" the warrior noted.

"Always," the bard responded.

"No need to worry, itís just a bruise. But, if youíd like to see it for yourself..." Xena raised up and turned around, holding her hair back for Gabrielle to see the mark.

"Hee-hee," the bard giggled. "He-he-hehehee, Xena, it... it looks... like a hickey."

"Well, Iím glad youíre laughing finally," the warrior said, as she turned back around and laid down. "For awhile there I thought something was wrong."

"Maybe... a little guilt," the bard responded, as she laid back down. "I... I didnít like hurting you, ya know."

"Thatís good to know," Xena quipped. "So, I donít have to worry about... being bitten again in my sleep, do I?"

"Oh well, that depends on you, now doesnít it?" the bard retorted, before she even considered the implications of such a statement. "I mean... are you sure that I... put that there. There was that guy from the tavern, ya know," she added, teasingly, even though teasing about this subject made her feel uncomfortable. Yet not as much as thinking about Xena attacking her again.

"Very funny, Mavis," the warrior said.

Gabrielleís legs flew straight up off the hay and quickly came back down, the momentum propelling her torso upwards into a sitting position.

"What... did... you... say?" she asked hesitantly.

"I said, very funny," Xena answered, as she rolled over, putting her back to her friend.

"No, what... did you call me?"

"Call you? If I called you anything, I assume it was your name," the warrior responded.

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah, pretty... sure," Xena replied. "I mean, what else would I call you?"

"Hmph," the bard grunted, as she shook her head to clear it. Maybe she had just imagined Xena calling her Mavis. After all, she had been thinking about that attack and... was trying to avoid thinking about it. "Whew," she breathed a sigh of relief, as she laid back down.

"You know, Gabrielle," Xena said, a few moments later, "you really do have soft hair."

"By the gods!" Gabrielle gasped, as she sat up again. "You do remember, donít you, Xena?"

"Hmm, bit and pieces... here and there," the warrior responded.

"What... bit and pieces, specifically?" the bard questioned.

"Thatís... for me to know and for you to find out," Xena quipped.

"Ooo," the bard fumed, as she flopped back on the hay. "You can be the most... infuriating woman."

"I know," Xena agreed. "Revenge is sweet," she added.

"Revenge? Oh... I get it. For mentioning the young guy at the tavern, huh?"

"You said he was far too young for me, remember?"

"Oh, I see. Okay, well... have fun with your revenge then. But, Iím going to sleep," the bard grumbled, as she gathered up armfuls of hay and pulled it over top of her to keep warm.

Xena snickered silently. "Goodnight.... Mavis."

"Hmph," Gabrielle grunted. "Xena... why donít you just... just pull my finger," she quipped, and expelled gas in a very loud manner. "And thatís... what I think about that, warrior princess."

The End

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