part 3

Disclaimer: Xena, Gabrielle, Ares, Varia, Autolycus and all other characters that have been previously mentioned on Xena are property of Ren. Pics. Any other characters are owned by me and are the property of my own twisted little mind. I own this story and it is copyrighted to me, thank you very much.

There's a little of everything, but nothing explicit. Sorry, but that's just not my bag. If you're lookin for a good roll in the hay, its not to be found here. Read accordingly. There is violence, but not anything too graphic.

I appreciate any comments. Please use constructive criticism. This is my sequel to my first endeavor. I'm think about extending this to a trilogy, so please HELP ME OUT! Feed the bard! And no flame or hate mail please, lets be mature. Thanks dctalk2me@hotmail.com
Enjoy the Show.

A cool sea breeze lightly blew in through the window. The salty scent was the perfect compliment to the sun's glistening light. A hint of irony was in the air, but it was suppressed by an overpowering sense of satisfaction.

Throughout the room a wild array of clothing lay uncomfortably about. Rumbled in evidence of being so abandonly disheveled. There was a boot on the table. Sais were tossed on each side of the room. And, a familiar red top hung precariously from the chandelier.

Terribly twisted sheets lay just over the foot of the bed. They rested limply, reflecting the sense of exhaustion that flowed throughout the room. White sheets, turned light grey, dampened with the sweat of their owner's exertion.

In the center of the room, lying contently, were two nude bodies. Their arms and legs mingled together in abandon. Both displayed a small smile of satisfaction, as they lay silently in each other's arms.

In sleep, everything seemed nearly perfect. For only in the unconscious, can we ignore reality.

However, the inevitable can only be held back for so long. Ever so slowly the two bodies began to wake, some slower than others.

Two sea green orbs were the first to pop open. A morning haze coated her reality as recognition slowly began to drench her senses.

She gradually sat up as not to aggravate her pounding hand.

"Gods!" The bard exclaimed.

Her recollection of previous evening was a bit cloudy. Apparently, this time, the alcohol had done the trick, decreasing the ability of her memory.

"What did I do last night?!"

She thought out loud, desperately trying to remember the previous evening's escapades.

Let's see….we went to the party last night…I dressed up as Auto, Xena as Aphrodite. I had some punch…well a lot of punch. Xena left…I went to go dance…then…

"Shit." Gabrielle let out a loud curse, rousing the half asleep form beside her.

Shit! Shit! Shit! She scolded herself. The bard slowly glided her hand over to her side towards the invariable heat she felt. As soon as she felt the velvety texture of supple skin she quickly retreated off the bed.


But, the body was much too quick and grabbed the bard's hand, pulling Gabrielle back onto the bed with a throaty laugh.

"And where do you think you are going." A rich alto voice chided.

"Up…out." The Amazon stuttered as she found herself enraptured into strong arms.

"Why, who says I'm finished with you." A seductive tone evident in the voice.

Gabrielle remained on the brink of insanity as the glorious mouth began nipping at the back of her neck.

"This…was not supposed…to happen."

"But it did."

"But it wasn't supposed to. I promised…" Gabrielle finally was able to pull away and get off the bed. "And I was drunk!" She exclaimed.

"So was I."

"You were?"

"Yes I was. So you took advantage of me and I took advantage of you. Let's just leave it at that."

"But Xena," Gabrielle protested. "We had sex last night."

The warrior slowly rose from the bed, unabashedly displaying her full nudity. She sauntered over to the bard who was recklessly grasping for articles of her clothing. Xena pressed up the full length of her body up against the short blonde's and leaned forward to whisper in her ear.

"Yes we did." She gave a light chuckle be for turning her mood more sincere. "And it was beautiful."

"It was an accident." Gabrielle explained as she turned around to face the Warrior Princess. Xena leaned down for a short but intense kiss.

"But it was a beautiful accident Gabrielle." The Amazon crinkled up her nose.

"It was. Wasn't it?"

"Yes." Xena lightly kissed the nose.

Well, one kiss led to another and before they both knew it, Gabrielle's shirt joined her top up on the chandelier. Both knew they should stop, but neither wanted to. So they pushed reality aside and continued on.

Neither knew where it would have ended. But, fortunately or rather unfortunately, they were interrupted by a loud rap against the door. At first, they were too entranced with each other to notice. However, the persistent knocks remained and chipped away at their consciousness.

Finally, it could be denied no longer and the lovers quickly dispersed.

Xena, with her lightning speed, found her clothing quickly. Although, to her advantage, they had landed very nicely on the corner chair. She dressed rapidly and went about searching for her armor.

"KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK!" Another series of crisp raps sounded.

"Xena, where are my clothes?!" Gabrielle whispered while searching around for the absent leather top and skirt.

Xena turned to see her bard, completely nude, bending down and looking beneath the bed. The sight alone set her afire but because of their hurried state, she slowly calmed down her raging hormones.

"Xena, where did you put it?"

"I don't know!" Xena began to help the bard in finding her clothing. Xena let out a small giggle as she looked up at the ceiling.

"What?" Gabrielle asked heatedly.

The warrior could only respond with another, deeper, laugh.

"Xena! What?"

Finally, she was able to compose herself long enough to point a finger up to the ceiling. Gabrielle's eyes lifted to follow Xena's gesture. She let out a surprised gasp as she saw the clothes hanging obstinately from the chandelier.

"Damn it!"

"Hey," The warrior scolded. "Watch your language please. We have naked….ears here." Xena hid the grin that pulled at her mouth as Gabrielle's naked skin was coated head to toe with a deep flush.

"Ha ha, very funny. Would you just get the door?"

She nodded and turned for the door. She quickly opened it up and walked out, closing it behind her.

Rubrik stood, impatiently, before her.

"What is it?" Xena countered his impatience with her own.

"His highness had bequeathed your presence in the great hall immediately."


"The Eye has been stolen."

Xena nodded and returned to the room. There she was met with a sight that, even in such a grave situation, caused her to double over in cackling laughter. After several minutes, Xena arose, wiping the tears from her eyes.

"What's so funny?"

But, Xena knew if she would respond truthfully, she'd receive a swift kick to ….somewhere. She couldn't tell her bard that the sight of her soul mate wrapped in a sheet, pathetically failing as she jumped up and down trying to retrieve the garments made her giggly.

Gabrielle's efforts were so futile, so ridiculous, Xena found them to be absolutely hilarious. However, she couldn't say that to Gabrielle. So instead she slyly remarked, "Nothing."

"Xena please just help me get them down."

"Sure." The warrior answered non-chalantly as she strode over to the chandelier. With a loud warrior cry and little enough effort to make Gabrielle sick, she retrieved the hanging clothing. Xena landed and handed the bundle over to the bard.

"Thank you."

"No problem." The Warrior Princess spoke arrogantly.

"So, what was that about?" Gabrielle asked as she pulled up her skirt. The warrior, however, had suddenly turned mute. Her speech stolen by the sight of her dressing bard.


"Xena." She called again.

Finally, with top in tow, she turned around to face the warrior.

"Xena!" She snapped her fingers in the air, breaking the woman's trance.


"Distracted?" She teased, running her hands down her body.

"Just a bit." Xena embarrassingly admitted.

"Good." She spoke, satisfied. "Now, who was at the door?"



"The Eye is gone."



The bard grabbed her Sais and put them in the sides of her boots.

"Well, let's get to work."

They walked out the door and headed down the hallway with another world to save.

As the days before, the duo entered into the grand hall. There was an obvious difference.

All the formality, all the somberness, it had disappeared. The gloomy foreboding had been replaced with luminosity. Everything appeared lighter.

In the middle of the room sat the proud family. Victoria was seated with the baby in her arms as Auto cooed behind her. They were quite the doting parents.

Despite the gravity of the situation, both faces were lit up like candles. They reveled in the joy this little life had brought to them. Parenthood clearly agreed with the royal couple.

Both Xena and Gabrielle released small sighs and knowing glances. They each were no stranger to motherhood. But, those experiences had been collectively different.

Xena gave a small smile as she thought of her children. Her Evie was probably out, still in Chin, collecting followers by the thousands. Xena was so proud of her daughter. She was such a gift.

As her thoughts turned to Solan, Xena released a little tear. It slowly slued down her cheek. Oh Solan…you would have grown up to be such a wonderful man. I loved you so much. You know I still miss you…every day. I still shudder when I think of the day you were taken away from me. The day Hope…At the thought of her, a sharp chill ran up the length of Xena's spine. An eerie weight lodged itself in the pit of her stomach.

"Hope." The warrior sneered aloud, unbenounced to herself.

But Gabrielle had heard her. Gabrielle too had been thinking of her daughter….or rather thinking of her failure as a mother. Although she'd been told many a time that Hope had been evil…that there was nothing she could do…that it wasn't her fault, she still harbored her own guilt.

She knew Hope was evil. Gabrielle held no misconceptions in that realm. But, she had never believed Hope had been all evil. She was my daughter. She was a part of me. Whatever anyone thought or said, she was mine. There was good in her.

After it all, she still believed she could have helped her child overcome her dark side. But she hadn't, and her daughter's actions were her fault. The bard accepted the guilt and blame for all Hope's actions.

If only I had helped her…If only I had been a better mother…if only, the two saddest words in the world.

If only I wouldn't have failed, Solan would still be alive. And with Xena's subconscious speech, the bard knew she was not the only one who still blamed her. Xena must too. And I understand that. She has every right.

Oh Xena, don't you know, if I could take it back, I would. Anything to take her back, even if it coast the Amazon her life. Anything…

But she could never. She could never take it back and it made her soul weep.

Xena, however, was seemingly oblivious to her soul mate's turmoil. And, after a brief moment of sentimentality, she headed over to the newly formed family. After all, it was time for business.

Auto's gaze turned up slowly to meet with the approaching Warrior Princess while his wife remained entranced by her precious bundle.

"Morning Xena." He gave a curt nod.

"Good morning Auto." She replied back, lacking any real enthusiasm. Her perfect morning seemed to be turning from bad to worse. No sense in covering her mood.

"I trust you enjoyed last night."

"Huh," the warrior took a second, become lost in her own thoughts. "Immensely." She gave a smirk looking back over her shoulder to her bard. Instead of a crimson colored Amazon, Xena found her partner with a grave look upon her face, lost in a world far from here. The warrior's smile quickly faded and her morose mood returned. Yep…Bad to worse….worse to sucks.

"And good morning to you to Gabrielle." The King cheerfully addressed the lost bard.

"Huh?" She was awoken from her thoughts, confused.

"I said good morning."

"Oh good morning Auto."

"Did you have an enjoyable evening last night?" Gabrielle asked courteously.

"Yes, quite. And you?"

She stole a quick look at Xena, giving her a coy but very reassuring look.

"Yes, it was quite incredible." She twisted an imaginary mustache from the night before.

Xena felt a little of the weight lift off her shoulders. She said incredible…nice to know she doesn't regret it…and that I still got it. A little smile crept slowly up the corner of her mouth. Sucks to better.

The two soul mates continued their knowingly glances, caught in the gaze of a lover's embrace. Auto allowed them a minute to revel in each other before returning to the pressing matter at hand.

"Well I'm glad you both enjoyed it. I wish it would last. But somehow, peace seems to elude all of us."

"Especially us." Xena whispered into her companion's ear. Gabrielle let out a small snicker as Xena desperately tried to return to her serious mask. "So, what is going on?"

"Well, at some point last night the Eye of Sieves was stolen from the tower." Rubrik spoke up from behind.

"Yeh, I got that much." A sarcastic Warrior Princess spoke. "So we follow the trails, get it back. Should be no problem. Gabrielle and I could maybe have it back by the end of the day."

Xena's patience was wearing thin. Right now, all she really wanted to do was go far away from everyone, hole up with her bard, and spend some very much needed Xena-Gabrielle quality time. Somehow, all this clatter about a diamond seemed trivial.

"Gods, I wish it was that simple." Auto let out a loud sigh.

"It never is." Gabrielle answered seriously. Then, she tiptoed up to her warrior's ear and, in a whisper, mimicked Xena words. "Especially with us."

"So, what else?" Xena arched her infamous eyebrow.

"Well it not only that. The people who stole it aren't just any two-bit thieves. They have brought ships to the island and plan to attack."

"But Sieves has a well known Navy. A couple of pirate ship shouldn't be any worry." Xena reasoned.

"It wouldn't be if the men would fight." Auto said, deflated.

"What do you mean?"

"I mean the Eye, according to legend, is supposed to protect us. So goes the Eye, so goes Sieves. Now I, I have much more faith in my people and in this land."

"But…" Xena spoke, impatiently.

"Xena, you should know. A person is smart, but people are stupid. Especially a group of soldiers. They are tremendously superstitious. They're not going to go into a battle they are positive they will lose."

"So your saying without the Eye, the soldiers won't fight." Victoria, long silent, spoke up from her position in the back, slowly rocking her newborn daughter.

"Exactly." Auto said. "And without soldiers, there is no navy. Without the navy, Sieves will fall."

"So…basically…you want us to go over there, steal the diamond back. Return it to the tower. Then rally your troops and organize them to fight. Lead them into battle and eventually a victory; saving Sieves." Gabrielle summarized.

"Quite right."

"Oh," Gabrielle smartly remarked. "And I thought this was going to be hard."

"Do you know who it is attacking you?" Xena asked.

"No. We don't. I didn't recognize the build of the ship or the masts."

Rubrik stepped forward.

"The only clue we have was this. It was left behind in the tower. Sort of a signature, if you wanna call it that."

Xena accepted the material, rolling it out to see what it was. The crumbled bundle was actually a flag. The warrior involuntarily shuddered as she fingered the silky cloth. It was familiar….all too familiar. Oh yeh…better to the absolute worst!

Gabrielle placed a reassuring hand on her companion's back.

"What it is?" She asked, concerned.

Xena gritted her teeth while trying to formulate the word stuck on the tip of her tongue. Anger fueled throughout her body.

"Draco." She hissed.

The ride was silent. Only the whistle of the wind and the whisper of the trees could be heard.

Xena and Gabrielle had decided to meet with Draco on their own. Hopefully, dissipating the wild heist and conquer plans. And, if worse came to worse, using Gabrielle's well known influence upon the man. When Gabrielle had first suggested it, Xena had adamantly refused. In fact, she didn't even want the bard to go with originally.

But Xena was a warrior and a tactician by nature. She knew in her heart that Gabrielle was the one trump card that Sieves had against the deranged warlord. And she had it to use at her discretion. Besides, the tall woman reasoned, the sooner we are done with this the sooner Gabrielle and I can leave….alone….and spend some time together…..alone.

They had agreed on separate horses, once again to Xena's dismay. She had quite been looking forward to a lovely bard in her arms for a couple of hours. Gabrielle had disagreed. Xena had first thought it was due to last night and both their loss of self control.

She had been hurt. However, Gabrielle quickly explained the separation, as it was for perfectly practical reasons. If Draco was still in love with the bard, strutting up, pressed tightly together, sharing a horse, was bound to inspire much jealousy and anger.

And, at the moment, that was the last thing they needed. So, Xena had pouted like a little child, but reluctantly agreed to take separate horses on the journey. It was going to be a long ride, that's for sure.

Gabrielle trotted along idly upon her horse. She was only paying subconscious attention to the path. Her thoughts were too consumed. Thoughts of Betrayal. Thoughts of Love. Thoughts of Death and Evil. But, mostly thoughts of Hope and her failure as a mother. It tore her up that Xena was still hurting. It tore her up that things could never be the same…no matter how she tried.

She remained lost in the realm of her own personal futility.

Xena too was consumed with her thoughts. So much so, she did little realize the hurting bard beside her. The warrior was consumed with her own anger. Draco had long been a rough spot in her past. Ex-boyfriends always were.

But he wasn't just an ex-lover, he was an ex who had fell in love with her before ultimately falling out and then falling back in love with her current lover. Why does my life have to be so complicated? She growled at herself.

Of course, it didn't have to be. Their problem could have been simple. And even more, simply erased. If only she would have killed the bastard when she had the chance. It wasn't as if she didn't have reason. He had put his hands on Gabrielle, that would be reason enough for her to kill anyone.

Besides that fact, he had even tried to kill her…twice. Plus, he had been in love with her and constantly pursuing her. Hey, why didn't I kill him? Maybe it was because, deep down, he was a good man.

Maybe it was because, deep down, she felt she owed him a debt of gratitude. In a bizarre way, he had given her the greatest gift of Xena's life. If not for Draco, Xena may not have ever met Gabrielle. She would still be living that destitute existence she only called a life because she knew no better…..Would I even be living now?

It wasn't that either. In her heart, Xena knew Gabrielle and herself were soul mates. They were meant to be together. Maybe it was naïve romanticism, but she liked to believe that they would have met…some how…some day…no matter what.

No, Xena knew why he remained alive. If she had killed him in cool blood, she never would have been able to forgive herself. Or, more accurately. Gabrielle would never have been able to forgive her. Sure, she would get over it and eventually live with it. But things would change, and Xena dreaded that.

She lived for the smile on her partner's face. It lit up her life. It lit up her soul. Gabrielle was like air.

Xena turned to see her beautiful soul mate, but with met with a grim look. Gabrielle held an expression of deep thoughts; obviously not happy ones. Her brow was furrowed, her lips pursed, as if asking herself questions. And her beautiful green eyes, they looked on the verge of tears.

The thought of her bard hurting tugged at Xena's soul.

"Gabrielle? Are you ok?"

The Amazon unknowingly ignored the question, drowning in her heavy thoughts.

"Gabrielle?" Xena called again. Still no answer.

Finally, Xena dismounted slowly walking over towards Gabrielle's horse and pulling it to a halt. The bard was oblivious as Xena approached the side of the horse. Then, without warning, she quickly mounted up behind Gabrielle, catching the bard in a deep hug.

The bard initially tensed at the unexpected contact before relaxing back into it. Allowing her head to lean back on Xena's shoulder and Xena easy access to her body. The warrior tightened her grasp around the bard's firm mid section, bringing around her other arm for extra contact.

"Hey." Xena purred into her soul mate's ear.

"Hey." Gabrielle replied, closing her eyes and enjoying the contact. "Fancy meeting you in a place like this."

"Yeh well, what can I say. I'm a sucker for a cute blond."

"Well that's a very good thing then because I can't resist a woman in leather."

"Even Minyah?" Xena asked, straightening her form to display her seriousness.

"I guess there are some exceptions. I don't really go for that normal type of gal? I'm into the unique."

"You consider Minyah normal?"

"Yes, when I consider you unique."

"Funny, I always thought of my self as normal."

Gabrielle let out a loud rumble, bursting out laughing.

"Xena, you are a tall, dark and gorgeous woman with raven hair and piercing blue eyes. You just also happen to be the best known fighter in this world. You have been the ruler of Greece, doubled as Queen Cleopatra, and the winner of the miss known world pageant. Honey, I'm afraid you are anything and everything but normal."

"What did you just say?" Xena asked a little dazed.

"You are anything and everything but normal?!"

"No. What did you call me?"



"Oh, ok." Gabrielle blushed as she confessed. "I called you honey."

Xena could feel the extra heat travel through the bard's body and was perplexed.

"What's wrong? Why are you embarrassed?"

"I just…I'm sorry Xena. I know you don't like that sort of cutesy endearment."

"No…Its…I kinda of like it." Xena admitted, and she did. Things were getting closer and closer to normal. Closer and closer to the way things were, the way they ought to be. Worst to maybe possibly ok.

"Really…every once in a while I can call you Honey?" The bard asked, her voice drenched in anticipation.

"Sure. I'd love it. And, I'm sure it will do wonders for my reputation. Keeping around a cute little Amazon whose constantly pinching my butt and calling me honey."

"I am not constantly pinching your butt."

"Yes you are!" Xena accused.

Gabrielle gave in, found obviously guilty.

"Well…I can't help it. You have such a cute one."



"Gabrielle, I do not have a cute butt."

"Yes you do!"

"No I don't!" Xena protested.

"Fine, you have a very….um…womanly derriere. Better?"

"Not really. I think I like cute butt better. But, if I admit I have a cute butt you have to admit you have one too."

"Oh no." The bard spoke in grave seriousness. "I don't have a cute butt, Xena."

"Oh really. And why do you say that?"

"Because honey, I have a nice ass!"

Xena let out a loud roar of laughter. Gabrielle, leaning back against her warrior, could feel Xena's stomach rumble with her fit of giggles. She couldn't help but letting out a few of her own.

"See…honey…I like it already." Xena remarked.

"I like it too." Gabrielle agreed. "Hey, can I call you sweet cheeks too?"

"Not if you expect me to answer."

"Posh! You're no fun."

"Maybe not." Xena said, leaning down and nipping at the nape of her bard's neck. "But, I think you are more than enough fun for the both of us."

They rode along together, for several more minutes. Each enjoying light kisses and caresses in the privacy of the deserted trail. But, as all good things, it had to come to an end.

"Sorry shortcake…" Xena's speech was stopped by a quick jab to her stomach. "Cupcake?!" Another jab. "Gabrielle?" Xena continued only when she was sure she was safe. "I'm afraid I have to leave you."

"Oh really…for who?"

"Another horse."

"Kinky." Gabrielle smirked at her own cute quip.

"You know what I mean."

"Sadly yes. But why?"

"Because we're here." Xena announced pointing off towards the horizon of blue sea.

They rode up, side by side, to the harbor.

If you could even call it that. Actually, it was more of a systems of docks and inlays. The whole areas reeked of decay. No wonder they were able to surprise them.

The docks didn't look like they'd been maintained or visited for that manner in years.

Three large ships docked at the bay. Each one just a bit larger then the last. They seemed to fit the entire aurora of the area and operation. The wooden sides looked well past their prime. The masts, probably once bright a vibrant, had now faded from the sunlight.

Even the crew looked worse for wear. Each one bent a little over. Each one had bags under their eyes. All signs pointed too deterioration. Getting sloppy Draco. With this crew, hah! All Xena needed was Sieves soldiers behind her to trample the weakened crew.

Although, the warrior rationalized, they didn't look like bad men. Xena had worked with evil, befriended evil, and even been evil. She knew it like the back of her hand. Something told her these men were not evil.

Even as they gathered around her and Gabrielle, swords drawn, the warrior couldn't help but wonder what had brought them to the desolate point of piracy.

Xena and Gabrielle dismounted and began to approach the oncoming mob. Much like everything else lately, the walked side by side to face the men.

"Halt woman." A tall, burly man, who looked to be the leader, cried out in an indignant tone. As he got closer, Xena was overwhelmed by his filth. His clothes were in rags, his hair knotted and greasy. He smiled devilishly displaying his yellow, decaying teeth…..or rather lack there of.

Gabrielle involuntarily gagged as the men surrounded them. The smell of their grime was simply too much for her senses. Xena saw the bard's reaction and immediately pushed Gabrielle a few inches behind her.

"You better back up." Xena announced in staunch, serious tone. She folded her arms across her chest and arched an indignant eyebrow. She was the embodiment of intimidation.

"And why is that?" The big man asked, laughing with his cohorts.

"Because your stench is making my friend here sick."

"Oh really." He took a step closer. "Well what you gonna do about it lady?"

"Who you callin' a lady?" Xena yelled before socking the man in the face.

A full out brawl broke out. Xena lead the way through the masses of men while Gabrielle covered her back.




The duo continued on their battle. For overwhelming odds, the two women were doing surprisingly well. Xena sent her chakram sailing through the crowds. Several cries of pain were heard before the metal disk came sailing back to its owner.

Gabrielle was fairing just as well with her attackers. She used the blunt ends of the Sais to fend the men off. The giant of a man who had minced words with Xena stepped up to her and made a large swing for her face. Gabrielle leaned back to escape the blow.

The bard overcompensated and desperately tried to regain her balance but was stopped as she tripped over a man that rolled under her feet. There the bard lay, on the ground, as the big burly man loomed over her with a giant sword.

Xena had continued on, not realizing that her partner had fallen. So, Gabrielle was left utterly defenseless as the man knocked the Sais out of her hand. He pulled his sword back, ready.

Gabrielle closed her eyes and prepared for the end. I love you Xena.

Xena, due to their incredible connection, instantly sensed her bard's fear. She quickly turned to see the filthy man, sword drawn, ready to decapitate her soul mate. Gabrielle turned to her, knowing it might be the last time she ever saw her heart.

"Goodbye." She mouthed the words for she was too consumed with fear to vocalize them.

"GABRIELLE." Xena called out as the man's sword descended upon her love.

"SSSTTTOOOOPPP!" A rough baritone voice sounded from the ship.

The man hesitated on his motions, before continuing on.

"DEMETERIUS! I SAID TO STOP! ALL OF YOU STOP." He called out in authority. One by one, the swords dropped and the men retreated, the filthy man they now knew to be Demetrius, being last.

Once the area was cleared, Xena sprinted over to Gabrielle. Taking her into a mammoth hug; placing quick kisses on the bard's eyes and forehead.

"Gods, are you alright?"

"I'm ok Xena." Gabrielle replied, regaining her composure. Still, however, the warrior continued on kissing and hugging her bard, as if trying to make sure she was real.

"I was so scared Gabrielle."

"Me too Xena. But, I'm fine…really." The warrior paid no heed and continued on with her antics.

"Xena, honey. I think this kinda ruins the whole illusion created by riding up on separate horses."

"I don't care." She kissed Gabrielle's neck.

"There's time enough for that later. Come on now, we've got a kingdom to save."

"Must you be so practical?" Xena sarcastically asked as she pulled away.

"Hey! I thought I was the fun one." Gabrielle continued on with their playful banter, oblivious to the masses of soldiers looming just several feet away from them.

"You are the fun one!"

"Even so, we must be getting back to business."

"Quite right." Xena conceded, turning to face the mob, but not before getting in a cute little pinch of the bard's conveniently located bottom.

"Yow!" Gabrielle let out a quick yelp.

"You were right, nice ass." She snickered, admiring the anatomy.


"Right." And instantly, the mask returned. Xena looked up to the ship where the god sent voice had come from. Although she didn't need to see the man to know its source. It was a voice she knew all too well.

It was Draco.

They were slowly led up upon the ship.

In the middle of the deck lay the man all too familiar. It was Draco.

Twenty-five years had passed, but it had only served to make his inherent good looks more distinguished. Silver strands dominated his once raven head. Still, there were several unruly strands that retained his natural color.

Around his eyes were eminent crow's feet. Attributed to years of hardship. His cheeks held no creases or wrinkles, evidence of a lifetime spent without smiling. Gabrielle's soul shed a silent tear for the man who had once claimed to love her.

Instead of his customary shirtless attire, the years had obviously forced him to switch to a tunic. The long elegant shirt fell several inches above his knees. It was black with several plain designs upon the chest with a snug fit. However, it was sleeveless, leaving his arms in full view of his assailants.

Well defined biceps and triceps attested to the fact that the man had not completely lost his shape. In fact his was still very much in shape. At the sight of his two guests…one in particular….an little used smile began to formulate on his lips.

Xena and Gabrielle slowly approached to a surprisingly warm greeting.

"Xena." Draco welcomed, offering a short bow. Still showing a level of respect to the woman he had once admired so much.

"Draco." Xena replied back, shortly.

"Gabrielle." He announced much more lightly, his voice dripping with affection. All though it may no longer be love, it was obvious the man still harbored feelings for the blond.

He reached over and picked up Gabrielle's hand placing a light kiss on the palm. Gabrielle turned rosy and it was all Xena could to stop from chopping off the man's head. If touches her one more time….I swear to Aphrodite I will…..

Gabrielle pulled back her hand courteously and Draco retreated a step back, admiring the vision before him.

"By the Gods. You have gotten more beautiful every day I was away from you." He beamed. "Twenty five years….and you don't look a day older then the last time I saw you. My little bard, there has to be a story in there somewhere."

"Ahh…there is, a very interesting one." Gabrielle entertained the man which only served to ignite Xena's anger even further.

"Well then, we must hear more over dinner." He smiled and walked down to the cabin. "Won't you come?" He asked, but neither Xena nor Gabrielle thought it was a question.

Gabrielle started off after the man but was halted by a firm hand grabbing her arm.

"What do you think you're doing?" Xena asked, furious.

"Going to dinner."


"Xena listen, Draco's not an evil man. Let's just hear what he's doing, why he's doing it. Maybe we can get him to change his mind. OK?"

The worried warrior let out a loud sigh.

"Fine. Lead the way oh mighty bard."

"I don't think so…it's my turn to walk behind you and pinch your butt."

Dinner had been an awkward affair.

Gabrielle had been first to tell of their story about being frozen for the years. Draco was very much intrigued. He asked many questions, like an attentive young child, fascinated by this new information.

Xena sat silently in across from the bard. Not moving a muscle, ignoring the plate of delicious food before her.

After Gabrielle finished her story, it was time for Draco to begin his. Apparently he had continued on, trying to be good. He stole from the rich, and gave to the poor….of course taking a wee percentage…but ah well, you can't win 'em all. Gabrielle was surprised that after several years of not seeing the bard, Draco went on a quest to find her.

After three years with no results, He pronounced her to be dead. The Amazon was a bit touched by the fact that he searched for her for so long…sentimentality began to creep up into her thoughts. She looked over to Xena. Three years…that ain't nothing. Xena would search her whole life. She smiled at her soul mate, gauging a small reaction from the seemingly stoic warrior.

Once he thought her to be dead, Draco returned to his old ways: plundering and pillaging. And for the years, it seemed to satisfy him. However, a year or so back he received word that Gabrielle was alive and still roaming the countryside. His original idea was to approach the bard. But, so embarrassed at how he had returned to his old ways, Draco decided to once again return to the side of good…or at least how he defined it.

"So why Sieves?" Gabrielle asked, very interested.

"My dear Gabrielle, that diamond, it could feed and clothe the needy for centuries. I have a buyer in Gaul who is willing to pay a lot of dinars for it."

"Well than why attack Sieves? You have the diamond. Why not just leave?" Xena broke her silence to add in a question.

"I'm getting old Xena. That is obvious. So are my crew. Some of them I've stolen from other crews. Some joined of their own volition. Some I picked up because they had no where else to go. We are a crew of misfits, you see."

"Xena, you saw my men. You can tell, they are not bad men. Some of our actions have been wrong, but we're not evil."

"And Sieves?"

"As I said, we are all getting older. We this last caper in tow, it will be more than enough for my men and I to retire. When we do, we need a place to live. Sieves is good land. It would be the perfect place."

"But Draco," Gabrielle spoke up. "That's not right. You can't do that."

"Yes I can. You'll see. I'm gonna do this and you'll be so proud of me. You'll love me." He began to rant.

"No I won't Draco. These deeds, they aren't good. They won't make me love you."

"Yes they will." He yelled. "You will see. You will fall in love with me. And if you don't, you'll spend eternity in Tartaurus wishing you had."

At that Xena jumped up and put two stern hands around Draco's neck.

"Are you threatening her?" She seethed.

"Threatening, no." He hoarsed between gulps of air. "I'm simply promising."

Xena continued her hold on the man's neck. When it became apparent that she possibly might not have any inclination to let go, Gabrielle stepped in.

"Xena, let him go."

"It would be so easy you know." The warrior whispered in the dieing man's face.

"Xena stop."

"I wouldn't have to worry about you any more." She hissed, as if possessed.


"But I won't." She removed her grip, allowing the man to stumble backwards, gulping in the glorious air. "Because I'm better than you."

Xena stepped back dusting off her hands and if trying to brush off the filth accumulated by touching the warlord.

"This dinner is over." The warrior announced firmly. She grabbed Gabrielle's hand and pulled her out of the cabin.

They rode home together that night.

Upon reaching the castle, the two split up. Xena went to the man room to speak with Auto while Gabrielle headed up to their room for some much needed thought time.

As she reached the room, Gabrielle plowed through the doors and headed straight to her bed. Deep thoughts weighed heavy on her shoulders. Not even the comfy, soft bed could release some of the strain.

Hope, Solan, Draco, Xena; they all were heavy on her heart. Her mind was racing at a million thoughts a second. Her first reaction was to sleep and let the problems rest and wait for another day. But that's a solution…not an answer. I've gotta do something.

Suddenly the bard was struck with an idea that could solve all…well…most of her problems. Hmm…it's been a while. I wonder if it still even works. I shouldn't….she probably doesn't even care to hear from me anymore….but…

It was the only way.

Gabrielle took a deep breath and let out a loud call.

"APHRODITEEEE." She yelled out. Then, eerie quiet loomed over the room as she waited for a reaction.

The silence was deafening.

After several moments, Gabrielle reasoned that the goddess was probably too busy to attend to her merely mortal problems. She sighed in defeat.

"She's not coming."

"Oh Sweet pea," A familiar voice spoke from the corner. "I never left."

"Hey." The bard greeted her awkwardly.


"I haven't seen much of you lately." Gabrielle stated.

"Yeh, I know. Well, I've been busy…You know….with god things and stuff."


A second of silence passed between the two.

"No, not really. Its just really hard you know."

"What is?" Gabrielle asked, confused.

"Seeing you with her. After seeing and knowing what we had. And now, knowing that there is no way to get it back. It hurts Gab. I miss you all the time. I miss us. It's so hard just to be your friend when I know we could be and have been so much more." The Goddess was barely able to speak, her voice assaulted by emotion.

"You promised nothing would change, 'Dite."

"I lied."

"I didn't want anything to change."

"Neither did I."

They both spoke in short sentences. Neither being able to grasp the right word to say to the other.

"Gabrielle, I'm…I….I'm sorry."

"Me too."

"I just…its hard. I still think about you everyday. I still look in on you. When you hear the whisper in the winds, or that unexplainable rustle in the leaves, that's me. I just, I don't have the courage to see you face to face. I'm…I'm still in love with you."

"Oh Aphrodite, I still love you too."

Finally, the last awkward barrier fell and the women raced into each others' arms. The tears flowed like a river. Both the bard and the goddess providing adequate rain showers. Mumbled apologizes and endearments were spoke to each other as they cried it all out. Finally, they were able to break away.

They looked at each other deeply. Gabrielle lifted a finger to wipe some of the tears away from the goddess's face. Aphrodite mimicked her actions. As they took each other in, they began to realize the comicalness of their looks. Both their faces were tear stained. Their eyes red and puffy from crying. They began to giggle knowing they must look a sight.

"That was nice." Gabrielle announced.

"Yeh, it was. So, what did you call me for? I'm sure it wasn't for a make up session although it is greatly appreciated."

"It's about this Sieves thing."

"You mean it's about Draco."

"Exactly. He is doing this…all this…for me. You remember when Baby Bliss put that spell on us all and Draco fell in love with me. Then, when Cupid came to fix everything, Xena had him leave the spell on Draco."

"Yeh….vaguely." The truth was, she remember the incident very well. However, big godliness blunders were not anything any god or goddess liked to own up to….even to Gabrielle.

"Well, the spell is still on him. He thinks he's in love with me and he's doing all this for me. For my love. I need you to take the spell off him Aphrodite, so Sieves will be ok and Xena and I can leave."

"No can do Gab."

"What?" Gabrielle gasped surprised. She hadn't expected rejection.

"I wish I could help you out, but I can't. When I lost my godhood, all the spells, all the fake love, everything disappeared. Besides, after a few years the arrow's effects wear off. It isn't fake love. Over the years, Draco truly fell in love with you."

"Great, this is the last thing I need." Gabrielle growled. "Thanks a lot." Her words came out more harshly then intended. Aphrodite physically shuddered. "Oh, 'Dite, I'm sorry. I didn't mean it like that. It's just…gods…when it rains it pours." The emotionally drained woman exclaimed before falling into the bed.

Aphrodite quickly joined her and placed a friendly hand on the bard's back. She began running her hand up and down, massaging Gabrielle's back; trying to relax her. Aphrodite leaned down and whispered into her ear.

"Is there something else you want to talk about?"

Gabrielle turned her head up from the bed.

"What do you mean?"

"Come on Cutie. I know you Gab. I know there is something else. Just talk to me, maybe I can help. Let me prove that nothing has changed." The endearment in her voice touched Gabrielle deeply.

"Ok. It's….Earlier today we were in the main room and there was Auto and his new family. It was so beautiful, them together. Xena and I both became lost in our own thoughts. I wasn't pulled out until she involuntarily whispered Hope."

"Every time I think it's over. Every time I think we are over that. Something brings it up again. I thought Xena had forgiven me. Now I know she probably never will. I accept that, its just…I love her so much. It's no fair that she be punished for my failure as a mother."

"You didn't fail, Hope was evil."

"Hope was half evil. She was half of me. I could have done something, I should have something. But, I didn't listen to her. And she ended up paying." Gabrielle began to openly cry.

"She loved Solan so much. She was the most wonderful mother to him. I took that away from her. I took away her happiness."

"Gabrielle, you are her happiness." Aphrodite assured her.

"Now. But, I know I'm a second. I would do anything to give her back Solan."

"Gabrielle, you know if there was anything I could do."

"But…maybe you can. Is there any way I could make a deal with the underworld. A trade. His life for mine. I've killed so many…I'm sure their chomping at the bit to get me down there…"

"Gabrielle stop it." Aphrodite scolded sharply, as she intended to be so. "First of all, you are a wonderful person. The afterlife will hold nothing but joy for you. And second, even if you could make a deal with the underworld, which you can't, there is no way I would let you."

"Gabrielle, you don't deserve that guilt. You don't deserve the blame. It was not your fault. Xena loves you and she needs you. She hates Hope, not you. She's a smart gal, she knows now that it wasn't your fault. Before she was just so blinded by the pain."

"Gabrielle, you are her life."

"And she's mine." Gabrielle gave a tearful admission. She accepted the place in the goddess's wide open arms. "I just wish she knew how sorry I am. I wish it had never happened." Gabrielle blubbered into Aphrodite's neck, drenching it with tears.

It didn't matter. Aphrodite was there for her. That was all that mattered.

Gabrielle remained secure in the goddess's arms.

The two were unaware that they had a third member, eavesdropping on the entire conversation.

Xena hadn't meant to eavesdrop; it was an accident….sort of.

She had finished early with Auto and headed back up to the room. Upon reaching the doors, she heard two voices. With her expert hearing, not only could she understand every word spoke, she also could identify the third voice. It was none other than the Mighty Aphrodite.

She should have just left, gave them some time alone. Xena knew Aphrodite had been physically avoiding Gabrielle, although very often she could feel the goddess's presence. It was probably best to give them some time alone…wasn't it?

But Xena was a jealous creature by birth. Aphrodite and Gabrielle's relationship still tore her apart. Deep down, Xena was a mass of insecurities. She couldn't look away. She had to know. She had to see what was happening.

So she opened the door a crack, and listened and watched the scene unfold.

As soon as the door was opened a smudge, Xena knew Aphrodite had been alerted to her presence. Maybe she wants to flaunt it in front of me? Xena's initial thoughts said. But, soon it became apparent that there was no sexual connotations to their meeting.

The warrior listened closely through their conversation about Draco. Once that ended, she was ready to burst in, as if shocked by the two's presence, and join in on the conversation. However, the mood turned somber.

The door opened a little more as Gabrielle began to cry; Xena pressed her full body length forward and listened as if her life depended on what was said…in some ways, maybe it did.

Gabrielle's confessions struck a cord deep within the Warrior Princess's soul. She had been unaware of her vocal slipup. Gods, I screwed up again.

When Gabrielle began to talk about Hope and to ask Aphrodite to trade her life for Solan's, Xena practically busted down the door to stop her bard's sacrifice. But, deep down, she was able to muster the control to wait for Aphrodite's answer.

The Goddess, in her inherent wisdom, had thankfully denied her request. Xena's hear warmed, knowing Gabrielle had found another true friend. When her bard began to cry, once again, Xena had to display control. The woman had an ingrained need to comfort Gabrielle.

When Aphrodite took the Amazon into her arms, Xena bit down on her lip to stop the strain of curses that would have followed. Comforting Gabrielle was her job. Protecting Gabrielle was her job. Aphrodite had no right.

Then again, she reasoned, maybe she has every right. I haven't been much a protector lately. I should be thankful for Aphrodite's strength and wisdom. But, somehow, gratitude was not the feeling that arose.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the two parted. They whispered their quick goodbyes and the goddess was gone…for now. And Xena was left to pick up the pieces.

She slowly crawled out from the shadows into the room, quietly shutting the doors behind her.

"Never." A firm tone announced.

"What? Huh?" The bard turned to face her soul mate. "Xena, what are you doing here?"

"I said never."

"What do you mean?"

"I would never trade your life for Solan. Never."

"You weren't supposed to hear any of that Xena." Gabrielle hung her head in shame.

Xena released a sad tear at the bard's obvious signs of defeat. Gods, is all I do is hurt her? The warrior walked over to her crying partner and placed a strong arm around her, fixing Gabrielle's head into the crook of her neck.

"Thank the gods I did, Gabrielle. How could think any of that? You are everything to me. Absolutely everything. The sun, the stars, the sea, anything is nothing without you. You are my world. You are my air. How am I supposed to breathe without you?"

"I just thought…I mean when you mentioned Hope earlier…I just wanted to make everything ok."

"Everything is ok, Gabrielle. I didn't even know I said her name. It was an accident. But even so, it's Hope I blame. It's Hope I hate. It has absolutely nothing to do with you."

"But she was my daughter Xena. She was a part of me." Gabrielle exclaimed through an onslaught of tears.

"No, you listen to me." The woman's voice turning gravely serious. "She was nothing of you. She was not your daughter. She was evil, pure evil. You were not responsible for her Gabrielle. At first, I know I blamed you but that was because I was so blinded by my pain and grief, I couldn't see. You were convenient."

Xena turned to face the tearful Amazon.

"Gabrielle, look at me." Their eyes met. "It was not your fault."


"NO, listen to me. It was not your fault. Say it."

"It wasn't my fault." A hesitant mimic sounded.

"And believe it."

"It was not my fault." A more confident tone spoke.

"Once more."

"It's not my fault." With the final repetition, all the pain, all the hurt, everything was released, and Gabrielle began to sob uncontrollably.

"Shh. It's ok." Xena whispered in her ear along with words of comfort and reassurance. She held on tight to her lover, refusing to let go until all the pain subsided.

That night, they fell asleep in each other's arms, for once, not fearing tomorrow.

A full moon shown brilliantly outside the castle.

Gabrielle awoke to the silence. She looked over and the complacent face of her companion. Gods, she's beautiful. Even though she saw Xena everyday, the woman never failed to take her breath away. How did I end up being so lucky? She silently asked herself.

But, those were questions to be brought up at another time. Gabrielle had much business to attend to. Xena had already proved her impartiality in the situation. There was no way she would allow Gabrielle to use her apparent influence on Draco, so the bard had decided to go about it herself.

She carefully removed Xena's protective arm from her midsection and got off of the bed, setting her lover's arm slowly back down. Then, she crept over to the table to grab her Sais. Placed firmly in the sides of her boots, she moved towards the door.

Before exiting, the bard turned to get one last look at her soul mate for the night. In the moonlight, Xena looked like an angel. It was a sight too much for Gabrielle to resist. She silently crept over and bent down to the bed, placing a gentle kiss on the warrior's brow.

"I love you Xena." She quietly whispered in the woman's ear.

"I love you too." Came a mumbled reply from the unconscious body.

Gabrielle froze, fearing her words had stirred her sleeping companion. But, as several moments ticked by, it became apparent that Xena was still asleep. The bard stepped away from the bed and out the door…

Into the cold night.

The palace had been surprisingly easy to navigate through. Most of the guards were well acquainted with the battling bard. In fact, Gabrielle would have to consider herself somewhat a celebrity in these parts.

She was given easy entrance and eventually exit out of the palace. Right out side the palace gates, she took a moment to look up into the star. By the gods, what a glorious sight. How long has it been since I've just looked at the stars?

She couldn't remember. Memories of her and Xena arguing over constellations began to flood her mind. They only served to fuel her determination. Oh yeh, definitely gotta get this taken care of. I am in need of some serious Xena-Gabrielle quality time.

The stable boy, through his constantly blushing and stuttering, had been able to provide Gabrielle with a stable mount. He was cute, probably 18 or 19, fawning over every word she had said. It had been a little while since Gabrielle had seen such antics from the male persuasion. It was nice.

He had found her the fastest, safest mount in the stable and in return, Gabrielle presented him with a piece of silver and a quick kiss on the cheek. She wasn't sure which he derived more pleasure from, but it didn't matter, did it.

She saddled up and trotted off towards Draco's dwellings. During the ride, she was constantly falling asleep on her mount. Definitely not a good sign. She kept scolding herself. Gods Gabrielle, get it together. Stay alert. And, Gods Gabrielle, you've gone for days without sleep…you can at least wait a couple of hours.

She finally resorted to telling herself stories. She worked and tuned her tales silently in her mind to keep her awake, all the time her eyes and ears remaining completely focused, looking for any signs of an attack.

When she was several hundred yards away from the camp, she tied up the horse, giving it strict instructions for her return.

"Ok T2," As she had lovingly decided to name the chocolate mare. It was short for Tobias the Second. "You stay here. I'm gonna go get the Eye and talk to Draco. I shouldn't be gone too long. Don't go anywhere." She said sternly, then realized the ridiculousness of her words.

Geez Gabrielle, you are losing it.

She carefully crept past the initial guards. A night of indulgence was evident, and most of the supposed guards on duty had passed out drunk, the rest were almost there. Gabrielle took a moment to recognize which ship was Draco's main one.

Was it…nope, not that one. The middle one. Bingo!

She tiptoed on the dock and reached the ship, quietly boarding. As the others, all the sailors were passed out, lying precariously around. The bard had to step over and between them to make her way over to Draco's door.

She silently entered the cabin, finding Draco asleep, snoring. Several bottles of port lay on the floor beside his bed and it was obvious he to had succumbed to the temptation that the alcohol presented.

Good. That meant his reflexes were dulled a bit. Allowing Gabrielle more time and carelessness to maneuver.

Now she had to find the Eye. Well Gabrielle, if you were a drunken old pirate captain, where would you keep a gigantic diamond. Her eyes scanned the room. Over to the corner there was a desk with a locked drawer.

The bard's first reaction was to look there, but instinct stopped her. No, if one of the crew members was to get greedy, that would be the first place they looked. Draco's a pretty smart guy.

Again, the Amazon's eyes searched the room. She walked over by the desk, to give it another look when suddenly she froze. Draco let out a loud semi-snore noise that stopped her dead in her tracks. She could feel her heart just into her throat.


The eternal seconds eeked by. Draco slowly rolled over to his side, falling back into a deep sleep. A slow breath, which she had been unaware she was holding, was released. Gabrielle's glance turned to her, now sleeping, enemy.

She now noticed his very distinctive bed frame. It was a mass of wiring. In the center, was a lifelike painting of a gigantic gem. The bard overlooked it at first, but let her eyes graze it a second time. It couldn't be that simple…could it?

She quietly stepped over to the bed to examine the frame. Indeed, it looks as if the frame was an extension of the wall. Gabrielle looked closely at the painting. Is it a cover? There was only one way to find out.

As slowly as possible, she entered the bed. First, she placed one knee upon the bed, letting it slowly take her weight so as not to creek. Then, the other half of her body joined onto the bed.

She inched over towards the center of the frame, where the picture was. However, much to her dismay, Draco had chosen exactly that moment to move to the center of the bed.

Gabrielle carefully leaned over him, reaching for the picture, sure not to make a sound. As she felt the smooth canvas, she slowly tore it away. She was instantly blinded by the light. It was just that easy. For there, there was the Eye of Sieves.

Gabrielle quickly grabbed it and dropped it into her satchel.

Then, as slowly as she had entered the bed, she exited just as carefully. The mission was a success…or so she thought.

The last thing she saw was Draco's smiling face before she blacked out.

A blue eye slowly opened. By the heat of the sun, she could tell it was far later in the morning then she would like it to have been.

Although, it had all been worth it. Anything to get those demons out between her and Gabrielle. She honestly hadn't realized that Gabrielle had still harbored some deeper feelings of guilt. But, it became apparent that neither one of them had truly overcome the situation.

Last night, they did. It had been so beautiful. Beneath the tears, beneath the pain, a true moment of oneness had been achieved. It was amazing. Xena had never woken up so light before. It was if she was floating. A smile broadened across her face.

The warrior turned to her loving companion, but was met with an empty bedside. And where is she off to this morning? Xena just assumed….maybe Gabrielle would have stayed and reveled in the moment. She had always been sentimental like that. Maybe….Oh never mind warrior, she's probably out getting something to eat.

As Xena got up and prepared for the day, her bard had yet to return. Xena's instincts were on alert, her gut telling her something was wrong. But, her mind persisted, telling her to stop worrying, that her protective streak was running rampant.

She looked to the table and noticed that the Sais had gone missing. This immediate alarmed her, but she was able to calm herself down. She's probably on a run, stupid. You know how she likes to do that in the morning…just like you. It calms her nerves. I'm sure she's down with Auto waiting for you…probably joking about how late you slept in….yeh, that's it.

Despite her constant reassuring, she still couldn't convince herself that everything was ok. A pang in her gut persisted to tell her there was something wrong. She couldn't shake it.

Ahh well…better go find out, she commanded herself as she left the room. Off to find a bard that wasn't there.

The blackness slowly faded.

Gabrielle blinked open her eyes. She was aware of two things: she was tied up, and she was in pain. As the second passed by, the bard became more aware of her surroundings. It became apparent that she was still in Draco's room, tied to his bed.

Great! The bard thought. She was not in the mood to play anyone's sex slave.

However, she also picked up that she was alone…thankfully. He won't stay away forever though…Dammit!! Well, the only thing to do is to try to escape.

The bard had just enough light to see that her Sais were gone…obviously. Sadly, she was without any other weapons. Too bad I didn't keep that breast dagger…that would have come in really handy right now.

Well…it wouldn't have come that in handy…I probably would have lost it by now.
Although Gabrielle had very adequate proportions, she didn't quiet have what it took to carry a breast dagger. It would have slipped thorough her top. Xena had just the right amount to keep the breast dagger snug with in her leather get up.

Gabrielle didn't complain though. And Xena certainly never had. So, it had never been an issue. However…I could use some extra endowment right now. The notion made Gabrielle giggle inwardly and relieved some of the tension she had been feeling.

Good, I needed that. So, with a cleared mind she set to work on a way out. She struggled against the bonds fiercely, but they were on tight…very tight. Her eyes scanned the room, looking for a sharp object, anything, to get her free. None was to be found.

Well…no one ever said this would be easy did they. Come on battlin' bard…think of something. Gabrielle berated herself as her mind worked on a plan. Her stomach took that moment to announce itself in a loud grumble. She had forgotten how hungry she was. Gabrielle hadn't eaten much the past few days and Xena's worked off almost all the energy she had had last night. It growled again.

"Shut up!" She scolded her stomach aloud. "That is that last thing I need right now!"

"Oh I know what you need." A deep voice bellowed from behind.

Gabrielle didn't have turn around, she knew who the voice belonged to.

"Draco." She snarled.

"Yes my love." He grinned impishly. "Hmph…just seeing you like this...funny. You are quite what I pictured my dear. Well, minus a few clothes of course." He winked. Gabrielle felt ill.

"Draco! Let me go. Untie me."

"No…never. I've dreamed of this for so long in so many different ways." He waggled his eyebrows. "I'm can't you go just yet."

"Yuck Draco. If you think of even trying anything…." Her words were cut off by a hushing finger placed over her lips.

"Shush shush. We were having a moment there. You look a vision, don't ruin it with that pretty little mouth. Now are you gonna be quiet?"

Gabrielle nodded her head in agreement.

"Good. Now love, are you hungry?"

Gabrielle didn't have to answer, her stomach did all the talking by adding in a loud grumble.

"So I thought. Well, you must eat then. Now, since you're obviously…attached." He winked. "I'll just have to feed you." Draco moved in, placing half of the strawberry between his lips. The other half protruding for Gabrielle to bite. As he leaned in, barely touching her lips he was denied entry.

The bard wore a disgusted look and instead of accepting the treat spit directly into his face.

"I'm not hungry." She choked out the words.

"Quite the spit fire aren't we? I'd forgotten how feisty you are. I like it." The dark haired man chuckled. "Now," He placed the strawberry this time in his hand and held it up to Gabrielle's mouth anxiously. "Let's try this again."

However the Amazon stood her ground, remaining tight lipped as her assailant dangled the delectable fruit before her.

"Oh, now that's not very nice Gabrielle." His tone filled with mock hurt. "Come on, I know you're hungry. Just eat. I promise I'll be nice."

At his words, she leaned in grasping the strawberry between her teeth also taking in an accompanying finger. She began to caress it with her tongue ever so slowly. The bard then backed off without taking a bite of the food. She was so close Draco could feel her breath. The scent of the strawberry mixed with the scent of her skin; it was inebriating.

"You may promise to be nice Draco." The bard purred seductively. "But I can't." She leaned in a bit deeply into the Draco's flesh. The sweetness of the fruit mixing with the metallic taste of her adversary's blood. Gabrielle smiled in satisfaction.

"Ouch!" Draco retracted in more shock than pain. "Why you little…"

"Did I mention I was once a bachae?" She boasted, hoping to fend off his attraction.

Her efforts sadly were in vain.

"Kinky. I like it." He smirked ghoulishly. "Now, let's try this again. And, as fun as if could be…let's do it without the biting." Draco said as he help up another piece of food.

Gabrielle's first reaction was to fight. However she was very hungry, and fighting Draco was gonna get her know where while she was tied up. Might as well cooperate…for now.

"All right Draco. I'll play nice. But I swear to the gods if you even try anything…"

"Don't worry love!" He stuffed a little piece of cheese in the bard's open mouth. "I'll be good too."

The rest of the meal was spent with Draco slowly feeding the bard. It was obvious to Gabrielle that Draco was enjoying the little scenario way too much. Every couple bites, he would make a snide little remark that made Gabrielle want to regurgitate her meal back onto her capture.

Well that would be a waste of a good meal…but vomit all over that stupid hairdo would be completely worth it. Gabrielle pondered on the idea for a moment before dismissing the idea. She needed to save up strength and in order to get that strength she needed food. So, Draco's hair would stay as is…right now.

Finally, the food was gone and the meal was over. Gabrielle pulled back, thoroughly full.

"Thanks." Gabrielle said kindly, all be it somewhat forced.

"Retracting your claws already?" He teased.

Gabrielle growled in response.

"Not quite." Draco laughed. "I missed you little one."

"Draco, you hardly know me." Gabrielle exclaimed.

"You're wrong. I know all about you. I've read all your scrolls. I know everything."

"No you don't. Those scrolls are apart of me, but their not everything. My scrolls are little pieces of my soul, but their not the whole thing. There is so much you don't know about me."

"But I wanna know." He leaned in, his tone filled with earnest.

"Draco, stop. Stop all this. Pplleeaassee." She drug out the last word.

"I can't do that Gabrielle." He spoke, his voice gravely serious. "And I don't want to talk about that right now."

"Fine." She retorted, soundly a bit like a spoiled child. "Then will you at least untie me. I'm unarmed, on a ship, and surrounded by hundreds of your guards. I'm not going anywhere!"

"Hmm." He mocked deep thought. "Well…" He trailed off. Then Draco removed his boots and vest and jumped onto the bed. "I guess I could untie you."

Gabrielle sighed in relief.

"Tomorrow." The man concluded, laying his head down on the top of Gabrielle's left breast. Great…this is gonna be a long night.

"Comfy." The man murmured against her chest as he fell lightly to sleep.

Oh yeh…a very long night! Where are you Xena?

If Gabrielle only knew how worried her warrior was.

The bard had yet to be seen the entire day and there was no trace as to where she had disappeared to. Xena had checked every possible place, spoke we every guard in the palace and was now, instinctively thinking the worst.

Dammit Gabrielle, where did you go? At first, Xena had feared she had done something that Gabrielle had left out of anger. But, thinking back, the warrior couldn't think of anything. When last she checked, things were perfect between her and her bard.

However, she was positive that Gabrielle had left of her own volition. The palace was much to secure for any outsider to sneak in and kidnap her lover.

"So my little bard, where are you?" Xena thought aloud as she drummed her fingers on the table.

"Draco has her." Auto boomed from the back.


"I said Draco has Gabrielle."

"How do you know Auto?" Xena asked skeptical.

"Well, there's the fact that she is nowhere in the vicinity. Sometime late last night she seemingly disappeared. The man has just declared war on the island and…"

"And?" Xena asked, far from amused.

"And, he just sent us a note." The king said, producing a flimsy piece of parchment in his hands. Xena greedily snatched it out of his hand. She quickly drank in the words written in smudged black ink.

Dear Xena,

        I thought a term of endearment and informality would only be appropriate given our illustrious history together.
        You'll never guess what happened to me last night. I had gone to bed, dreaming of my dearest Gabrielle. Well, I was in the middle of a particularly glorious one when I was woken up. And what, pretell caused me to arise. It was none other then my love. She was positioned above me like an angel. Although, she much more fit the part of the minx…trying to steal the Eye back when I had rightfully stolen it first.

Such a naughty little girl, is she?!

        Ah well, it now seems I have one cute little bard in my possession. And, although I am in no hurry to be rid of her, I image you indeed miss her. So, I will agree to give her back …for a fee. In exchange for control of the Island of Sieves, you can have your bard back.
        I must admit I'm half hearted in the offer. I'd much rather keep the woman in my company. But, fair is fair, and I do have men to look after. Meet me tomorrow at noon at the beach where I am stationed. Me and my crew have since retreated from the beach, a quarter of a league into the sea. Bring a small row boat and meet me half way.
        You must be completely alone and prepared to negotiate the terms of our settlement. Oh, lastly, if you even think of trying anything Xena, and I can already see the wheels in your brilliant mind turning, Gabrielle will be the one to pay. As you know, I've never been a glutton for pain and I could never kill her. However, there are many…other….things that I am all too hopeful that you'll give me a reason to do.

Until Tomorrow,


Xena reread over the letter twice as to be sure of what it said. She was gone….and he had her. Dammit! Her stomach began to churn like the tides of the Aegean. The warrior's heart was beating a thousand times a minute. If he does anything to her….

But Xena also knew, to some degree, Gabrielle would be safe. As much as the idea disgusted her, Draco was in love with the bard and that fact should keep her love from harm. Should being the operative word. But, if Draco doesn't get what he wants…..She mentally slapped herself. Don't even think about it because there is no way I'll allow that to happen.

Auto observed the pensive warrior cautiously. He too had read the note and was anxious to form a plan; however, something told him that disrupting Xena right now was not very conducive to his health. So, he bit his tongue and let her continue on with her thoughts.

Finally, the warrior lifted up her head to face the man. Her eyebrow arched in question, wondering his take on the situation. Unbenounced to her, Auto was completely clueless as to a plan. Not a tactician in the least, his reign of Sieves had been purely of peace.

"So what do we do?" The man asked concerned.

"Think." Xena stated bluntly.

"And after that?"

Xena took a moment, squinting her eyes as if in deep thought. She smacked her lips for a second, letting the noise break through the silence that encompassed the dreary room.

"And after that, we get Gabrielle."

"Well, thank you for making that clear." Auto gave a sarcastic remark. "It's just that simple?"

"It's just that simple." Xena repeated with false confidence.

She could only wish it would be that simple. But, for the warrior and her bard, nothing ever was.

Sorry about the length. I thought I could finish it in three parts, but I needed one more.

Continued in the Part Four

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