An Awakening - Discovery

Part II

by Hunter Ash

carrkjar@pacbell.net

Disclaimers: Repeat after me: I donít own Xena, Gabrielle, Argo - etc etc etc. I am only borrowing them for my own entertainment, and hopefully, yours. This story is written for entertainment only and no copyright infringement is intended. Warning to anyone wanting to sue: donít bother, it wouldnít be worth it.

Alt Sex: yup, and itís between two consenting adults of the same gender. If this is illegal in your state or country, change your laws or move. If this type of story bugs you, leave now, I can only say I hope the sex scene is intense.

Violence: hmmmm, this does have some hurt and comfort aspects of the main characters. Also, one bad word.

Storyline: This story answers a question put forth in the story "A Visit Home, An Awakening." I hope the story stands alone on its own but you might want to read A Visit Home first. I hadnít intended on starting a series of stories but, there it is. It happened and I hope you like Ďem.

Gabrielle learns some truths about her past and some surprises.

Feedback: Yes, please! <beg> <beg> Donít worry, I donít bite. Wait, thatís not right, I do bite. Okay, I promise not to bite hard.


***

Xena groaned and opened her eyes slowly. The familiar surroundings of an Amazon hut greeted her eyes. Ephiny came into her view and sat on a stool next to the warriors bed. The Regent looked tired but was a welcome site.

"Hey," she smiled down on the warrior and lifted a cup of water to the bruised and parched lips. Xena sipped gratefully.

"Hey," she responded finally. "Where's Gabrielle?"

"Next hut over, I finally got her to sleep. Remind me not to try and change her mind about anything again."

Xena tried to smile but winced with the pain. "How long?"

"Five days." Ephiny put a hand on the warrior's shoulder as the woman attempted to sit up with surprise. "You've been sick and hurt. Fever and the pain took you the first day and we've been fighting the fever ever since."

Xena took stock of her body and wasn't surprised she felt like she had been run over by a wagon, twice.

"How bad now?"

"Not bad, the healer managed to get the infection down in your leg and the shoulder is actually healing nicely. Other stuff is minor cuts and bruises. You'll be off that leg for another week."

"A week!" Xena protested.

"That's what the healer has ordered. I'll send for Gabrielle." Ephiny started to stand up and Xena placed a hand on the Regent's arm.

"Strats?"

"Menestratus? Target practice for my archers when we found you."

Xena merely nodded at this information, it was what she had expected from the Amazons. "Thank you, Ephiny. I knew Gabrielle would be safe with you."

"Always, Xena." Ephiny stopped at the door and looked back on the warrior. "By the way, I am finally reading your relationship with Gabrielle right? You two finally got together?"

Xena grinned, "Did everyone in Greece know but us?"

"Yup, there's been running bets as to when you two would finally figure it out. When did it happen?"

"Bets? Four months ago."

"yup," the Amazon grinned at her friend. "I lost two months ago."

"Ephiny,"

The Regent turned with a questioning eyebrow lifted.

"I asked her to marry me, Amazon ceremony."

The life came back to the Regent's eyes and she smiled a huge smile. "Really?" Xena nodded, smiling herself. "If you weren't wounded I'd hug the stuffing out of you! Nothing could make Gabrielle happier! By Artemis, we've a lot to plan for." The Regent was gone before Xena could ask for details.

"Terrific, I've asked for the ceremony and don't have a clue what the ritual is."

Any other thoughts of the ceremony were interrupted a moment later when Gabrielle rushed into the hut and into Xena's good arm, showering her mate with kisses and tears.

"Shhh, Little One," Xena said softly. "I'm all right."

Gabrielle finally pulled back and sat on the stool, holding Xena's hand while the other hand ran over the warrior's body, once again reassuring herself that her warrior was in one piece.

"You are not all right, you've been out for days." Xena got a good look at her bard's face and was dismayed. She'd never seen the bard looking so haggard.

"When was the last time you slept or ate?" the warrior demanded.

"They made me eat and Ephiny made me get some sleep." Gabrielle protested.

"Uh huh, let me guess, you've spent most of the last five days right there next to me." Xena gathered the bard back into her arm for another kiss and reassuring hug. "I love you, Gabrielle."

"Gods, I was so worried!" Xena reached up to brush away a fresh set of tears. The bard couldn't seem to stop touching Xena's hair, face, arms.

"It's okay. Just wasn't my week." the warrior smiled.

"Hah! That's an understatement." the bard grinned.

"What about your family, they were worried sick."

"I sent a runner to let them know I was okay and that you were safe."

"I'm sorry about your father's funeral."

"It's all right, just as long as you're safe, my love."

"For once you rescued me. Remind me to keep you around." Xena smiled and pulled Gabrielle onto the bed and the bard eagerly curled up in Xenaís arm, both sighing with the feeling of being together again.

"Forever," Gabrielle agreed.

When Ephiny came back to check on the patient she found the Amazon Queen and her warrior asleep in each otherís arms. She smiled and backed out of the hut and left orders with the guards that the couple wasnít to be disturbed.

***

After a few more days in bed regaining her strength, Xena was able to move around the village with the aid of a crutch. Both she and Ephiny had finally gotten Gabrielle to eat and sleep and both the bard and warrior were looking much better.

Xena sat down on a hay bale, watching her lover spar with several other Amazon women with her new staff. The warrior was pleased when Ephiny walked up and sat next to her.

"How are you feeling, friend?" Ephiny asked.

"Better everyday, thanks to all of you. Thanks again for the rescue." Xena grinned.

"My pleasure, none of us would have been able to live with Gabrielle if we hadn't. Tell me about the man."

"Menestratus," Xena's face grew thoughtful. "He was one of my soldiers years ago. I remembered him just before you showed up. He was a good soldier of sorts but blood-thirsty, he delighted in killing anything in his way."

"Did you know he was Perdicus' brother when Gabrielle married him?"

"No, I only knew him as Strats and we never talked."

Xena pulled out a dagger and began balancing it on the end of a finger.

"I never knew. Gods, Ephiny, will my past ever let us alone?" Ephiny didn't flinch when the warrior suddenly threw the knife, embedding it into a fence post close by. With a casual grace the Regent walked over and retrieved the dagger. Xena shrugged.

"Probably not," Ephiny said simply. "You've made up for your past, and you'll continue to do so but it will always come back to haunt you, warrior."

"Thanks." Xena muttered.

"He blamed you for Callisto," Ephiny encouraged the warrior to resume the explanations.

Xena laughed a grim laugh. "That's whatís so messed up! He was there at Cirra! He helped murder Callisto's family."

Ephiny thought she would fall off the hay bale and Xena nodded at the woman's shocked expression.

"Then what in Hades was his problem?!" the Amazon demanded. "He helped create her as much as you did."

"That's what I told him and he agreed. I can't explain it. Maybe he thought by killing me and hurting Gabrielle he could live with his own guilt in Tartarus. He was planning on killing himself after me."

"I don't get it." Ephiny shook her head.

"Neither do I and neither does Gabrielle. Maybe it made sense in his twisted mind."

"He nearly succeeded, we almost lost you and we would have lost Gabrielle if that had happened." Ephiny glanced over at the warrior, gauging her reaction.

"I know that. When it does happen to me, I want you to take care of her. Don't let her follow me, I'd want her to live." Xena's eyes flashed.

"You donít know it will happen."

"Yes, I do. The life I lead, not much chance of a long life."

"I know but that wouldn't be my choice, Xena. Even if we locked her away from anything sharp or long I think she'd grieve herself to death over you."

"I wouldn't want that," the warrior muttered.

"Live with it," Ephiny said bluntly and Xena looked surprised. "It's something that we see with some lifebond mates when one dies. One half of a soul can't live without the other."

"You think we're lifebond soul mates?" Xena whispered. She, herself, had felt such an overwhelming amount of love for the bard and felt so empty when Gabrielle wasn't around, but lifebond soul mates were rare. It was the stuff of legends.

Ephiny looked over at the bard and back at the warrior. "Yes, I do."

Together they watched the little bard knock the staff out of one warriorís hands, swipe the feet out from another, and lightly tapped another on the head before someone got the smaller woman in the ribs. Laughing with the others, Gabrielle helped the fallen staff fighter to her feet. She spotted Xena and the smile became wider as she headed towards the warrior.

"Sheís good." Ephiny commented.

"Very, you have good trainers." Xena agreed.

"Most of that is natural talent. If she ever wanted to turn warrior she could be deadly in a knife fight, maybe even with a sword."

"I hope that doesnít happen." Xena said softly.

"You know the odds, traveling the way you two do. Sheíll have to kill someday."

Xena frowned. "I know, I just want to put it off as long as possible. I donít want anything to touch that light of hers."

Ephiny grinned, "Not as long as she has you, Xena. Iíve never seen her so happy."

Gabrielle climbed over the small fence separating the sparring area from the rest of the village and hugged Ephiny and then her warrior.

"Youíre good out there." Xena commented, pleased with the blush Gabrielle gave them.

"Thanks, Iíve been practicing."

Ephiny stood up, "Iíve got things to attend to and a wedding to plan. Lots to do." she grinned.

"Why do I get the feeling this could get complicated," Xena complained.

Gabrielle laughed and sat down next to the tall woman.

"Probably. Ephiny says that it can get quite formal when itís the Queen getting married. Thereís two actual ceremonies - one for us, family and the blessing of the gods; then a public one that gets complicated and pompous." she warned with a smile.

"Gods, I should just throw you over Argo and drag you to a lonely island for the rest of our lives. I suppose youíll want me to dress fancy."

Gabrielle lightly punched Xenaís arm, pretending to look annoyed with her warrior. "Canít have you scaring the foreign diplomats with your sword and chakram at the ready, can we?"

"Diplomats?" Xena frowned and the bard laughed heartily.

"Xena, mighty Warrior Princess! Youíd rather face an army alone than a royal court, wouldnít you?" Gabrielle giggled.

"Yup, you bet." Xena readily agreed with a smile.

"Itís just show. Being the Queen they want to put on a big production, Iím getting them to tone it down a bit. I think youíll like the private one." Gabrielle leaned her head on the warriorís shoulder. "Howís the pain?"

"Better. Beginning to itch, always a good sign. The healer says the shoulder will probably hurt in cold weather from now on, guess thatíll go with the other aches and pains. Are you sure you want this old war-horse?" Xena teased.

"Let me show you." Gabrielle leaned up and, with one hand behind the warriorís head, pulled Xenaís lips to hers. The kiss was light and gentle and then deepened as Gabrielle shifted and pulled the warrior into her arms for once.

When they pulled apart slightly Xena noticed a shift in Gabrielleís expression. She sat up again and touched the bardís face, pulling the chin up to look in the deep green eyes she always adored.

"What is it, Gabrielle?"

"Iím ready to look at that parchment."

"All right, go grab a bath and Iíll meet you at the stable." Xena told her.

"Can you ride yet?" the bard looked worried.

"Iíll use a fence to get on. Riding is easy, you can help me off when we get to the stream."

"Okay, I wonít be long." Gabrielle jumped up and kissed her lover again and then dashed off.

Xena pulled herself up and began hobbling towards the stable, thinking about the next event coming. Gabrielle had read the first sheet of parchment and it had been from her mother, written many years ago, when still pregnant with Gabrielle. The parchment instructed her daughter to find a pool of water, a fountain, or a calm lake and to drink the contents of the bottle with her soul mate. Then the daughter would find answers.

Xena hated mysteries. She was good at solving them but she hated them. Gabrielle had wanted to wait until Xena could travel before approaching the next step. They were both puzzled. Xena couldnít put it quite into words, she knew Hecuba would never do anything to hurt Gabrielle but the contents of the bottle were mysterious and maybe a touch sinister.

Xena wasnít sure which she dreaded more: facing stuffy nobles or Gabrielleís mysterious past.

***

Gabrielle led Argo through the woods and along the stream until they reached a small pool of gentle water and helped position Argo next to a rock so Xena could climb off the horse without too much trouble. Feeling somewhat helpless made the warrior feel grumpy and she fought down the emotion.

Gabrielle spread out her cloak and Xena joined her next to the water on a rock. With a heavy sigh the bard pulled out the bottle and looked at, turning it over in her hands again and again. Xena waited. Green eyes looked deep into blue ones.

"Itís okay if youíre not ready," Xena said softly.

"I donít know. Iím curious as a cat with a closed bag, but this..." she spread her hands indicating the bottle and the parchment. "What could it be?" she demanded suddenly. "What could my mother tell me?"

"She said it might answer some questions you had growing up."

"Arrrgghhh!" Gabrielle sat staring at the bottle, as if it might burn her if she touched it again. Then, with a quick motion, she grabbed the bottle and uncorked it. Xena pulled out two goblets and poured wine into both from a wineskin. Gabrielle again looked deep in her loverís eyes and poured half the powder into each goblet.

"I love you, Xena."

"I love you, Gabrielle. No matter what we learn."

With a nod of the bardís head they both drank and Gabrielle positioned herself between Xenaís legs and leaned back into her warrior. Together they began watching the water.

***

Both women found themselves closing their eyes, feeling like a fog had come over both of them. After a moment Gabrielle opened her eyes and gasped, Xena quickly opened her eyes, muscles tensing. She blinked several times.

She and Gabrielle were sitting beside a lake instead of a stream. A gentle lake at dusk. Very close to them the sounds of someone running through the woods reached them. Xena reached out to grab a branch to pull herself up quickly and stumbled back onto her backside when her hand went through the branch.

A woman ran into sight and went right by them without seeming to notice them.

"Mother?" Gabrielleís voice called Xenaís attention to the womanís face.

It was Hecuba but a much younger Hecuba, more than 20 years younger. She was crying and shaking and she didnít seem to hear the bard.

"She canít hear or see us, Gabrielle. Weíre like ghosts."

"But sheís younger."

"Yes, weíre watching back in time somehow."

Gabrielle leaned back into Xenaís arms again. "Hold me, please." she whispered and the warrior gladly wrapped her arms around her love.

Hecuba threw herself into the grass by the lake, her sobs racking her body and tearing at the hearts of the two women watching. Both Xena and Gabrielle gasped when they realized someone was standing very near the woman that would become Gabrielleís mother.

"Why are you crying, woman?" the man asked.

Hecuba squeaked and sat up, stumbling backwards. It was almost dark and she was alone with a stranger.

"I mean you no harm, why are you crying?" the stranger sat down on his haunches, probably trying to put young Hecuba at ease.

"My husband, he..... he came home drunk and....." Hecuba continued to sob.

"He hurt you and forced you." the stranger stated and Xena felt her bardís muscles tighten. The warrior held tighter.

"No, not force, just not....." Hecuba stammered.

"Not pleasurable for you."

"No," Hecuba dropped her head. "Who are you, I canít see your face." she whispered.

The stranger smiled and held up his hand and all the women were shocked when it began glowing, putting out more light than a torch. He grinned. "Better?"

"Apollo!" Xena hissed.

Hecuba went to her knees. "Lord," she whispered.

"Donít kneel, please. Just sit with me for a bit. I have a tale to tell you, young Hecuba." Apollo ordered and sat down on the grass next to Hecuba, the light surrounding them.

"You know me?" she asked.

"Yes, I came to see you." he stated.

"Why?"

"I canít tell you everything but what I can tell you is that you are going to have children. The first of them will be a girl and you will name her Gabrielle."

Gabrielle felt her head reeling and clung to the warriorís arms around her.

"Gabrielle?" Hecuba questioned.

"I like it." Apollo shrugged. "You will have others but Gabrielle has a special fate. Sometimes the gods meddle a little too much in the affairs of you humans and upon occasion some of us have to step in and counter some of those affects."

"I donít understand, Lord."

"I know. What I can say is thus, with the help of one of the gods a dark soul will fill this land and could destroy the very civilization that gives all of us life. This dark one must have a balance and your daughter will be that balance. She will be the light to end the darkness. She will be blessed by the gods and especially by me, a child of the Sun."

"Why me?" Hecuba questioned.

"Why not? You are intelligent, gentle, loving and you have a strength that she will inherit. It is her fate to shine the light of the sun on the soul that fell into darkness. It will be Gabrielleís light that saves this soul and changes the Fates of the world."

"Xena?"

"Shhh, little one." Xenaís voice was strained.

"This dark soul, wonít it destroy my daughter?"

"It might, we canít control everything. It will be up to Gabrielle and the Dark One. It is a difficult path to go from the dark to the light but a very easy one for light to fall into dark. The Dark One may drag your daughter down."

"Please take this away. I only want a simple and happy life for my children."

"The Dark One is her soul mate though their lives will be difficult. If their love prevails it will be the envy of the gods themselves. It will be a bond that will span beyond eternity."

"Youíre telling me that a child of mine will change the future of the world by changing just another person?"

"No, she will touch many souls along her way, not just the Dark One. In reaching the Dark One and showing this soul love, together they will defeat the plans of some of the gods that wish to conquer the world of man to rule over them. Together they will be like the Sun and Moon, each reflecting the best of each other and sharing the same light."

"Will my child be happy?"

"If they find their way to love your daughter will gladly go through all the hardship it will mean to be with the Dark One. She will love this soul beyond any love before, not even death will stop this bonding."

"You send a harsh fate to my child," Hecuba complained.

"Yes, I know. My blessing will be one of the Light. She will be curious, intelligent and a dreamer. Encourage this in her, donít let her dreams die. Do not let your husband break her spirit. The talent of the God of Poetry will be hers."

Apollo reached over and touched Hecubaís face, instantly healing the black eye that was beginning to show.

"Heís a good man, just a troubled spirit. Be tolerant, heíll provide well for the family, just donít let his temper rule your children."

"He was raised hard." Hecuba complained.

"The visit heís receiving from Aphrodite right now will mellow him out a bit. We canít change him totally," Apollo warned. "Heíll still fall short of a perfect husband but he will be good for you and the girls."

"Girls, Iíll have more than one girl?" Hecuba gleamed.

"Uh oh, not supposed to reveal anything about the other one and you canít reveal anything about me until Gabrielle's either succeeded or failed with the Dark One." Apollo grinned. Then his smile changed and he leaned over towards Hecuba who leaned back, a slight fearful look on her face. "Relax, I donít seduce every maiden I see, no matter what the stories say." Apollo grinned and placed his hand over Hecubaís womb area.

Gabrielle, Xena and Hecuba gasped as light from his hand enveloped the young woman. When the light faded Apollo was gone and Hecuba was smiling. She reached down to touch her womb area.

"Gabrielle, you will my dreamer." Hecuba promised.

The darkness slowly filled the sight of the bard and warrior. When it cleared they realized they were by the stream, wrapped in Xenaís travel cloak and the stars were out.

Gabrielle lifted the cloak with a question, turned and looked into Xenaís eyes. Suddenly she was in the warriorís arms crying. Both women found themselves crying.

"He was talking about us! About you." Gabrielle whispered.

Xena let the tears run from her eyes. "I know. Heís right, you did save me. I would have slipped back into the darkness if it hadnít been for you."

"Wow, we are soul mates."

"Yes," Xena agreed with a smile.

After a moment the bard sat back up. "Hey, who covered us?" she asked.

"Maybe one of the scouting patrols found us and covered us." Xena suggested.

"Maybe." The bard started to stand up and felt something fall from her chest onto the blanket. She picked up what looked like two necklaces.

"Hey, how about lighting that fire?" she asked and Xena started to move, dreading the pain that was about to cause from sitting too long in one position. Gabrielle instantly forgot the necklaces when Xena cried out, grabbing her leg.

"Oh gods, I forgot, are you okay?"

"Yeah, thatís the problem." the warrior ran her hands up and down her leg, a puzzled look on her face.

"Whatís that mean?" the bard demanded.

"Thereís no pain. None at all."

Gabrielle grabbed up the travel pouch and went to start the fire herself. Once the fire was going they were finally able to see a little better, Xena cut the bandage aside to revel an undamaged leg. She then removed the bandage on the arm and found no wound.

Gabrielleís eyes were wide. "Your shoulder?" she questioned softly.

"Nothing, like it had never been touched."

"Your face is healed too." Gabrielle marveled.

"What did you find?" Xena asked, pointing to Gabrielleís hand.

The bard blinked and then raised the objects to the light. One of them was the Amazon necklace she had left behind for Xena to find, the warriorís hands quickly found that the necklace had been removed from her neck. The other was a matching necklace. To the one Xena had been wearing a small silver crescent moon with knotwork in the center had been added and on the other one was a gold blazing sun.

"Wow." the bard muttered.

"Whatís the second parchment say?" Xena asked as Gabrielle handed her the necklace she had been wearing when they had first come to the stream.

"I just found out I'm the daughter of a god, sort of; Iím blessed by the gods, destined to save the world, and my soul mate was destined to destroy the world, what makes you think I want to know what else there is?" the bard grinned.

"You did save the world, my world." Xena laughed as the bard launched herself across the small space and tackled the warrior.

"I love you, no matter what the gods had in mind I would have fallen in love with you."

"Back at you, little one."

Gabrielle grinned and leaned over, still laying on top of Xena. With trembling hands she slowly unfolded the second parchment and with a puzzled look she showed Xena.

The warrior laughed. In the center of the page was Apolloís symbol - the sun, the outer circle of sun was designed like Xenaís chakram and inside the circle was a parchment and feather pen.

She started kissing the bard deeply, pleased not to be in pain for the first time in a month. Gabrielle moaned and dropped the parchment, rearranging her body along the warriorís to bring a thigh and knee in-between Xenaís leg, bringing a moan out of the warrior.

Gabrielleís hands moved between them and unbuckled the belt Xena was wearing and pushed it aside, and then moved her hands under the shirt her warrior was wearing to grasp Xenaís breasts, moving her lips down to the warriorís neck, knowing how sensitive the other woman was to Gabrielleís teeth at her neck.

Xena moaned, arching slightly as her body responded with itís own heat. The warriorís fingers were busy unlacing the bardís top. Gabrielle yelped with surprise when the warrior sat up and grabbed one of the bardís nipples between her teeth and lips. The blond threw her head back and moaned in delight.

"Oh gods, Xena."

"I canít get enough of you, Gabrielle." Xena whispered, kissing the bard from her breasts, up the neck and to those lips she always craved. The warrior held the smaller woman tight in her arms while their lips and tongues fought each other, teasing and playing. The bard's hands working their way through Xena's hair, holding the warrior's head and body tight.

Gabrielle moaned and began breathing rapidly when Xena began to kiss her way back down the bard's neck and to her breasts, first teasing and lavishing one and then the other until Gabrielle was squirming in her lap.

"I haven't been able to touch you in so long like this," Xena whispered.

Gabrielle whimpered and pulled Xena's tunic top off to reach the dark one's breasts as well.

Xena reached up and pulled the bardís hair, pulling the womanís head backwards and seized Gabrielleís lips with her own. The blond moaned again and her hands grasped Xenaís breasts, causing the warrior to moan as well.

Xena undid the belt holding the bardís skirt together and unwrapped the cloth from around her bard and was delighted to see her lover wasnít wearing any undergarments. Gabrielle cried out as Xenaís fingers slid easily between her lower lips, discovering how wet the bard was for her lover. They both growled when the warrior took a nipple in her lips and teeth and entered Gabrielle with her fingers.

The bard clung to her loverís shoulders, body trembling uncontrollably. Xena felt her own body begin spasming as the bard bit into her neck, Gabrielle cries becoming louder and intense.

Time seemed to stand still for the lovers as passion took over their bodies. Xena was always amazed by the endurance, strength and depth of passion of her little bard. One thing the warrior was grateful, too many people seemed to underestimate Gabrielle.

Together the two fell back, Gabrielle onto of Xena, still clinging to her warrior. When she felt she could breath enough again to talk she grinned into her loverís bright blue eyes. Her fingers brushing a lock of dark hair from Xenaís forehead.

"Wow."

Xena grinned back. "For a bard, you seem to have short sentences."

"Sometimes one needs to do their talking with the body and not the voice. I think I can find a use for my tongue elsewhere, what do you think?" the bard began nibbling on Xenaís earlobe, causing the warrior to gasp and lose whatever complete sentence she had been trying to put together.

"Yes!" the warrior hissed as Gabrielleís hand trailed down to her womb, parting her lips and began playing. First entering and then pulling back from Xena and then rubbing the swollen clit of the warrior and entering again until Xena was squirming, unsure which sensation was pulling the most intensity from her.

"Gabrielle, please!"

The bard had moved down to the warriorís breasts and was biting and sucking each in turn. Xenaís hands found the bardís hair and began urging her loverís head lower. Gabrielle grinned and grabbed one of the hands with her own, interlacing her fingers.

Xena groaned as her body rocked, hips moving of their own accord and the bard matched the rhythm with her hands.

The bard continued her slow path down with her tongue and lips, never losing contact with Xenaís body with either.

"Oh Gods, yes!" the warrior urged.

"Patience, my love." the bard whispered and grinned when the warrior growled in frustration.

When she finally positioned herself between the warriorís legs, Xena was writhing in need and frustration. Gabrielle slowly ran her tongue between the warriorís lower lips, never losing her rhythm with her fingers. Xena cried out, her hand painfully pulling and grasping the bardís hand, her other hand digging into the ground next to the blanket. Sweat had bathed both of them and the bard could see every muscle in Xenaís body straining and standing out.

Hearing Xenaís cries was something that pleased the bard immensely. Gabrielle hadnít really been surprised to learn that she was the only lover Xena had ever been vocal with. She had smiled and teased Xena about control issues and the warrior had growled that it had been for security reasons. The admission had ended in a tickle fight when the bard laughed and insisted it was a control issue for the warrior.

Gabrielle welcomed the cries of passion and used her tongue over Xenaís clit to encourage more sounds from her mate.

Xena had gone beyond the point of any conscious thought and she felt herself reaching the point of losing all control. This was always a point she struggled against, wanting to give everything to Gabrielle and yet struggling to hold back slightly. An inner battle always raged in the warrior at this point, no one else had ever brought Xena over that point before the little bard. It felt very much like falling, like dying, she once thought.

Gabrielle raised her head and looked at her warriorís face, seeing and feeling the struggle. "Xena, let go. I will always catch you."

Xena screamed as she fell over that point.

***

Gabrielle blinked and sat up suddenly, aware of a bright light falling over her and her sleeping warrior. She was startled to see Apollo standing next to them, the light shining from his hand, just as in the vision.

Gabrielle quickly turned and found Xena sleeping soundly, arm still thrown over the bard's stomach.

"Don't worry, she'll sleep." Apollo smiled and offered his other hand to help the bard up.

With a blush she grabbed one of the blankets and pulled it around her and accepted his hand. He continued to hold her hand and they walked a few feet away from the sleeping Xena. He motioned to a place in the grass and they both sat down.

"You're sort of my father?" Gabrielle asked.

"Yes. You were and are special, Gabrielle. Ares had gained such influence over the world at the time. Sparta was a military state, totally dedicated to his purpose, all the Greek states were fighting each other and Rome was beginning it's trek towards the military might she has and will continue to become. The Fates foretold that he would influence a soul beyond all our belief and this child would grow to be the fiercest warrior the world had seen, a soul for the darkness. Some of us demanded a chance at balance and Zeus and Hera agreed."

"Why me?" the bard asked while she watched Xena sleeping peacefully, she shuddered at the thought of what might have been.

"You were destined to meet Xena whether we influenced anything or not. We decided to give you an edge, to bring your natural light to the surface and we prayed your light would reach her inner soul and bring it to life again."

"We were meant to be without you?"

"Yes, child. Your talents are natural, Gabrielle, just as the light of your soul is. Xena has a natural fighting ability, Ares just enhanced it and brought it out in her. I brought out your natural bardic skills and the light of your soul."

"What about the other gods?" Gabrielle asked.

"They had a hand in your development as well." Apollo suddenly looked serious. "Some of that influence wasn't of the light either. It'll be up to you to find out what your blessings are and how sometimes they can be mixed with darkness."

"Be careful what you ask for?" Gabrielle smiled a grim smile.

"Yes, exactly."

"What happens now?"

"Now you plan for a bonding ceremony. I am proud of the life you've led and are leading, Gabrielle. There will be many trials, many tests of your love with Xena. It's a hard task we've set before you, the darkness will always be there with both of you." Apollo leaned back on his elbows, watching her.

"I know that, I knew that when I met her. Weíll face whatever comes." Apollo laughed at the stubborn set of her jaw and Gabrielle glared at him.

"Well said, bard." he sat up and then stood up. "When Xena begins to question her parentage again and discovers some aspects of herself, call on me. You have inherited certain rights from me."

"You mean like Hercules?" Gabrielle's eyes were wide with surprise.

"Yes, I do." He leaned down and kissed her cheek. "Remember, I am the God of Youth." and with that he was gone.

"Youth? Oh boy."

A voice called out of the darkness, "Don't forget to invite some of us to the bonding."

"Wow." Gabrielle stood up and looked down at her sleeping warrior. "I wonder how you'll feel about that one, my love. I know how you hate dealing with the gods." Gabrielle grinned and then snuggled back into Xena's arms.

Her mind already whirling, a bonding ceremony to plan for.

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