part 4

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 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.

The sea breeze was warm and brisk. Salt coated the air a mildly numbed the senses. It created a sort of removed existence that would calm a person's soul.

But not Xena's. Every inch of her body was tight. Her muscles were in knots. She'd spent the entire day and night going over her approach, readying herself. It was all futile though. Nothing would be accomplished today.

There was no way to sneak upon the ship in the light and she had come without any help, for fear of Gabrielle's safety. She could always attack Draco, but if Draco was still anything like when she had known him back when, he had several guards holding Gabrielle captive. And if they did not hear from their captain with in an allotted time, Gabrielle would be killed.

And of course, Auto had no intention releasing control of Sieves into the hands of a murderous warlord. So today's meeting was to be more a standoff. They would settle the rules of the game. And Xena loved to play.

The row out to meet Draco was particularly long, or at least it seemed so to Xena. Every stroke was its own eternity; every foot accomplished seemed a mile. She saw Draco slowly approach, in a small row boat much the size of her own, only slightly bigger.

He too had chosen to come alone. It was a gesture of fairness. They were on neutral ground. Oh, I like this. Finally, the man was only several feet away from her.

"Xena. It's good to see you." He called out with genuine enthusiasm.

"Wish I could say the same." The warrior snarled.

"Xena?! I'm wounded. With such an illustrious history, that's the greeting I get. And after how nice I was to you in my little note. Not even a how are you?"

"Cut the crap Draco. Let's get down to business."

"Very well." He gave out an evil grin. "Your boat or mine?" He pointed between the two boats.

"Both." Xena replied, taking out a think hook tied to a rope with was attached to her boat. She then threw the hook over the side of Draco's boat so it imbedded itself deep with in the wood. It was strong enough to keep the boats together, but bight enough up the side so any worries of sinking would be dispelled. "Now, let's talk."

"I've missed you Xena. You're so clever." The warlord paused. "Of course not like my Gabrielle, but clever."

At the reference of the Amazon as his Gabrielle, Xena had to physically fight down the urge to send her chakram sailing towards the man's head. No…calm yourself warrior. Think about Gabrielle. That of course was the one thing that stopped her from carrying out her wishes.

No I won't kill him….However if the chakram just happened to slip from her hand and sailed straight towards Draco barely missing him, it wouldn't be her fault. I could give him a haircut. The Gods knows he needs it. I'd be doing him a favor by getting rid of that stupid do. The thought of Draco bald would have made her laugh if not for the severity of the entire situation.

"Do you know that little minx was able to creep onto my ship and into my quarters? She had even gone so far as retrieve the Eye of Sieves and would have gotten away with it if not for my custom as a light sleeper. She has gotten better. So much better. I guess I have you to thank for that."

"And skills Gabrielle has she's learned herself. She's an incredible woman." Xena affirmed.

"That she is. I must admit, I was a little saddened by your appearance. I was hoping to sail away and keep her for myself. However, fair is fair so…"

"So nothing. Draco, come on. You couldn't possibly think I was going to give over control of Sieves to you. You think King Autolycus would do that. Are you getting senile in your old age?" She mocked his aged state.

"You watch mouth Xena. Or have you forgotten that Gabrielle is in my care? I do love her, but I won't hesitate to punish her for your misgivings." His voice shaking.

"And I don't believe that anymore than you do. You love Gabrielle. I do too. I know that feeling. I know that hurting her is a worse pain than hurting myself. And when I look into her eyes I want nothing more then to see her smile. I know what it is to love her, that's why I know you won't hurt her Draco."

"True enough. But you know I won't hesitate to leave with her. In fact, my crew is waiting on my word to set sail."

"Then I follow you Draco. I'll follow you till the ends of the Earth. And when we get there, I'll take her back."

"Or so you say Warrior Princess. So if you are not here to relinquish Sieves to me, why are you here? I know it's not for the pleasantry of my company."

"Draco I'm here to make you an offer." Xena said in the most polite and civil tone she could muster.

"Oh please then dear. I am all ears."

"Although I can't offer you all of Sieves, I can give you a part. This beach here, as you well know, is scarcely populated. There are few inhabitants for miles and an abundance of resources. This is the perfect place for you and your men to settle down. You could create your own community. It would all yours, free from reign under King Autolycus. What do you say Draco?" She ended in a hopeful tone.

"I offer you a deal, Xena. And you insult me with this?!" His anger began to mount.

"This entire beach to yourself is hardly what I would call an insult."

"You know how I am Xena, just like you. I can't have a portion. It has to be all or nothing."

Xena took a short moment to ponder on his words. It was obvious to her the hidden connotation behind it.

"She'll never love you Draco." She said, in a very low voice…almost a whisper.

But Draco had heard her. Heard her belittling comment. To him it was as loud as laughter ringing in his ears. Laughter at the thought that Gabrielle could ever love him. Draco stood up in visible rage. How dare she! How DARE she! She has no right to speak to me.

Xena quickly mirrored his actions, standing up to balance the two attached boats. She could see his anger building up and was on the immediate defensive. Maybe I'll get a chance to use that chakram anyway. But before she could reach for it, the daunting warlord lunged at her, arching his sword and aiming for her head.

He let out a fierce growl and Xena leaned back to escape the blow. However she over compensated and found herself seconds away from plunging into the water. The warrior took a moment to regain her bearings and was able to steady herself and prepare for the next blow.

Draco expertly executed a roundhouse kick headed straight for the warrior's face, but Xena, with her skilled abilities was able to escape the blow, spinning around and in the process withdrawing her sword.

"Now let's have some real fun." Xena voiced, excited.

An eloquent dance of swords then took place. Draco parried to Xena's thrust. And Xena parried to Draco's thrust. It continued on for a short while. But Xena had the advantage in both age and strength and was soon overpowering the man.

Her opening came soon enough when Draco made a large swing, largely overcompensating, sending him spinning around. His back was now to Xena and she could not resist. With a loud growl she sliced down his back.

Draco cried out. It was only a flesh wound, but it was deep and very painful. The warrior smirked in satisfaction. Draco stood up and their eyes met. A common rage was visible between the two. It was almost like an animalistic understanding.

Xena prepared for his counter attack but was surprised when his sword arced not for her head, but for her boat. He made a short but astute swing, sliced open the bottom of the boat. It immediately began to fill with water and Xena immediately reacted jumping into the ocean.

"We're done for today." Xena yelled to Draco as her head bobbed up and down with the water.

"For today." He agreed. "But this is only the beginning. It's all or nothing Xena. And since you've decided to give me nothing so I'm just going to have to take it all." He smirked deviously, like a child who knew he was about to get away with murder.

Xena turned away and began to swim back to shore. Her movement was stopped as Draco called after her.

"At dawn, my men will attack Sieves."

Xena heard his words but simply continued on. Yep, never simple.

Gabrielle sat on the bed, anxiously awaiting…well…whatever was next.

Draco had stayed true to his words and in the morning, he had released her from her bonds, however that was all. She was still restricted to the confines of the room. Although she could not see past the door, she could hear the constant scuffle of boots often enough to know the door was being heavily guarded.

Her first intuition was to plan an escape, but the motion of the boat and her aching stomach told her that they were no longer stationed at the beach but rather further into the sea.

She looked out the small window in the room to see that they were at least a good quarter to half a mile out at sea. There would be no hope of escape until at least night fall for in the light she more liable to be spotted.

So she waited. And with each passing minute she grew more regretful of last night's meal. It was like a stone at the bottom of her stomach. And with each jerk and wave the boat rode, it would raise further and further back up her throat.

The bard had turned to the window, hoping the view of the sea would have a calming effect on her. Calming effect…hah! It only served to further her sea sickness. Gabrielle finally got to the point where fresh air was an immediate necessity.

She ran over to the door and pounded loudly.

"OPEN UP!!" She called, but there was no response. "OPEN UP PLEASE!" Again nothing, but Gabrielle knew the men had stopped their patrol and were listening by the absence of the guards' light footsteps.

"You better open this door." She spoke in a more civil tone. "Please guys, I really need some fresh air."

Finally, a timid guard spoke from behind the barrier.

"We have strict order not to let you out."

"I understand that. But if you want to keep Draco happy, you'll let me out."

"And why's that?" He asked with honest interest.

"Because I know this is Draco's cabin. And, if I don't get some fresh air soon, I'm going to redecorate the walls with bits pieces of last night's meal. Do you catch my drift?!"

As a response the door quickly opened up and the guard stepped in, cautiously eyeing the room.

"Five minutes." The big guard from behind spoke harshly.

"That's all I need." Gabrielle said as she followed him out.

The minute she stepped upon the deck, Gabrielle felt instantaneously better….much better. She even went as far as to let a brief smile appear on her face.

But the relief was brief…very brief….and suddenly all her sea sickness quickly resurged and she ran to the railing. Hence forth, she began the process of thoroughly emptying her stomach. She took moments in between to lift up her head, hoping that she was done, but then she'd feel her throat clench up again and would quickly retreat over the railing.

She could feel the gazes of the men around her. After a while, one of the guards came up to her.

"Are you alright lady?" His voice with what seemed like real concern.

Gabrielle brought her hanging head slightly up and looked at the man. For a minute she considered not even answering a question of such pure stupidity. However that would be rude, and this man had probably risked his life to bring her up on deck. He at least deserved some answers.

"I get a tad sea sick from time to time." The bard almost laughed at her own belittling of her illness.

"Hey lady."

"What?" Gabrielle answered painfully.

"Are you gonna die?"

"Only if I'm lucky." She joked.

The man walked away, confused.

Gabrielle continued on retching. Finally, her stomach seemed to be completely emptied. She thanks the gods that no dry heaves followed. After several minutes of simply inhaling the smooth, salty, sea air, Gabrielle felt her stomach truly calm.

Behind her, all the soldiers began to line up, making small whispers and odd comments. Gabrielle found the strength to lift her head up to see what the commotion was about. There she saw Draco in a row boat heading towards ship.

That's odd, the bard thoughts. What was Draco doing rowing that small boat out there? Her eyes scanned the horizon for some form of an answer. Suddenly, she saw the familiar glint of a chakram from the edge of shore. It was Xena.

Gabrielle excitement over the presence of her companion overwhelmed her good sense and she immediately called out towards her.

"XXXEEEENNNNAAA!" She yelled at the top of her lungs. "XXXEEENNNAAAA!"

Before she could let out another yell a heavy hand fell over her mouth, silencing her.

"Shut up lady, before you get us both in trouble."

His words brought the bard screeching back to reality. It was now obvious that her pleas would be impossible, even for someone with Xena's great hearing, to pick up. The only thing she was doing was worsening her situation.

Draco reached the ship and the soldiers practically fell over themselves to help him up onto the deck. As his figure became visible, it was noticeably colored in red.

"Your hurt my lord…" One of the men began.

"I'm FINE." Draco yelled back, angered.

"I'm sorry Draco."

"Shut up." He spoke in short tight phrases. His head turned slightly to see Gabrielle standing by the railing, the guard still retraining her. "What is se she doing up here?" He asked, furious, as he took powerful strides towards the pair.

The soldier separated from Gabrielle and began to formulate an explanation.

"Lord Draco. She complained of being ill and asked to be brought up only for a moment as to…" He was cut off by a hard slap across the face that sent the man to his knees.

"I don't care for your excuses." Draco yelled as he reached for his sword, drawing it and preparing to aim it at the man.

Gabrielle saw his intentions and reacted quickly without thought, throwing her body over the young man's.

"Draco don't. What he says is true. I was getting sea sick and I only asked to be brought up so as to clear my stomach."

Draco took a moment to consider her words.

"Alright. She's saved your life Jason. Remember that." The soldier nodded his head in a show of thanks and skirted off towards the mass of guards. "Now, the rest off you break it up. And you," He pointed to an anonymous guard. "Bring her to my cabin."

The Guard grabbed her and drug Gabrielle behind Draco towards his cabin.

"So what happened?" Auto cautiously asked the furious warrior. However it was obvious to all by the look of ferocity on Xena's face, things hadn't gone well.

"How do you think?" Xena barked at him.

"He didn't take you up on the offer."

"No he didn't take me up on your offer." Xena used a sarcastic tone, mocking his words. Seeing the crestfallen look on the man's face, she felt instantly bad. It was evident that Auto too cared very much for the bard and was also very concerned. "Look, I'm sorry." She said placing a comforting hand on his shoulder.

"No I'm sorry. This is all my fault." Auto apologized earnestly.

"No its not." Xena pondered her words for a moment. Actually, if it's anyone's fault at all its mine. I'm the one who told Cupid to keep that stupid love spell on Draco all those years ago. If I would have had him take it off Draco would have never really fell in love with Gabrielle….Well…that might not be entirely true. Almost everyone was susceptible to her charms.

Auto simply waited as Xena thought out whatever was bothering her. Finally, her face relaxed as if she had been released from her pensive trace. He then proceeded to open his mouth to ask her about the exchange, but was silenced by Xena's word. She beat him to it.

"He's going to attack at noon."


"I said Draco is going to attack at noon."

"Yes Xena, oh blunt one." He mumbled the last few words under his breath, unaware of Xena's legendary hearing which had easily picked up the hushed insult. "I got that part."

Xena chose to let the affront slide. It was understandable, she had just told him his kingdom was to be under attack. I guess he has a right to be a little peeved.

"So, what do we do?" He asked anxious yet concerned at the same time.

"Well, since it's obvious that your soldiers will not fight, I'm just gonna have to find us some help."

"And where will you find that?"

"Oh I've got an idea or two." Xena smiled, letting an eyebrow raise. "Say Auto, where are your temples around here?"

Gabrielle was shoved harshly into the cabin. She was about to make a rude remark out after the guard, but her eye caught Draco sitting calmly on the bed.

His presence was almost eerie. His body remained perfectly still, his eyes closed. The only movement coming from the man was the sight of his slowly heaving chest. Up and down, up and down. In and out, in and out. Gabrielle was afraid to disturb his trance. She tried to avert his eyes, as if to give the man some semblance of privacy while he remained rapt.

Minutes ticked by as the bard tried to find something absolutely fascinating about the wine goblet next to her hand, on the side table. With her back turned, she didn't see the warlord's eyes slowly open.

"Gabrielle." He calmly called out. However, his voice startled Gabrielle into knocking the goblet right over. Draco and the bard both reached out to catch it, but they were too late and it crashed to the floor spilling deep red liquid on the floor. Draco winced outwardly in pain of his injuries being over extended. He hated to admit it, but he was hurt much more than he had originally thought.

Gabrielle stared down at the spilled wine, it was red…almost blood red. She followed a small trail that led over to and up the bed, to the warlord. Then she realized that some of it had been blood….Draco's blood.

"You're bleeding." Gabrielle stated, although she ended in a high note making her words sound much more like a question.

"Just a scratch love." He said, trying to point at his back, but cringing from his actions.

Gabrielle followed around to the man's back. Draco had put on a new tunic to cover up his injury. Gabrielle placed comforting hands just below his shoulder. She recoiled her hand, finding it sticky and stained red from the blood.

Although Draco was her capture, Gabrielle was a healer by nature and found it hard to let anyone endure useless suffering. I should help him…it's the right thing to do.

"Let me see it." He pulled away slightly. "Please." She sounded truly concerned.

"Why do you care?" Draco said in a hurt tone.

"Because I'm a healer. And, because I don't want you to suffer for no reason. Please."

In response, Draco pulled forward and lifted the tunic slowly over his head. Gabrielle grimaced at the sight. The wound was deep, a flesh wound none the less, but very painful.

"I can fix this." The bard smiled with satisfaction. "Do have some healing supplies."

"Over there, by the side table. Open the bottom cabinet." Gabrielle complied finding adequate supplies to stitch him out. She grabbed the pitcher of water up and walked back over to Draco.

She began to thoroughly clean the wounds. It was a tedious and painful process, but it had to be done. Gabrielle thought of telling a story to keep the man's mind off his words…but somehow it didn't really seem appropriate.

After she was happy with her cleaning job, the bard grabbed a needle and prepared to begin the stitching.

"I'm going to have to stitch this up."

"So I assumed."

"Sorry." Gabrielle felt a bit sheepish. He's probably had tons of injuries like this…it needs stitches duh!! "I just wanted to give you fair warning."

She began her motions. Draco remained perfectly still as the Amazon worked away.

"You have very steady hands Gabrielle…a comforting touch." He complimented.

"Funny," Gabrielle spoke thoughtfully. "Xena says I have hands like a sailor." She paused. "Did she do this to you?"


"I'm sorry."

"Don't be, I attacked her."

Panic automatically rose within the small woman. He attacked Xena?! Gods, is she ok?! That was her chakram right! She took a deep breathe, don't get ahead of yourself. I'm sure she's fine….Gods let her be fine.

"Draco…is…is Xena..."

Draco quickly interrupted.

"She's find Gabrielle. No, she beat me little one. I will say she has certainly not lost her touch." He smiled.

"Thank you." She spoke with genuine gratitude. "Draco, can I tell you a story?"

"Of course." He let out a deep breath.

"Once upon a time, there were creatures roamed the earth. They were so happy, even the gods were envious. In order to get back, they struck them down, splitting each creature into two…"

"Two bodies, one soul." He laughed lightly. "Yes, I've read that one…actually in one of your scrolls."

"Oh, I'm sorry."

"Don't be." Draco quickly reaffirmed.

Gabrielle pulled and prodded a few more times. Finally, she was finished and announced it to the man. Draco grabbed his tunic and slowly pulled it back on. The bard got up to turn away but was stopped by a firm grip on her wrist. Draco swung Gabrielle around until she was face to face with him. Their lips only inches apart, so close they could feel each other's breath.

"Do you believe that? That there is only one person on this Earth for you, your soul mate." He asked intensely.

"Yes, I do." Gabrielle answered in a whisper.

And then, without warning, Draco brought her in for a kiss. Passionately assaulting her mouth. The bard immediately pulled away, fighting his embrace. But the warrior was adamant in his intent, continuing on. Finally Gabrielle was able to break away.

"I do too." He said, his voice wavering in rising passion.

"What?" Gabrielle asked, very winded.

"Believe that there is only one other person out there for me in this world. The other half of my soul. My soul mate. Its you."

"No Draco. No it isn't."

"How do you know?" He rose from the bed, his voice filled with pain. "You have never given us a chance. Maybe we are soul mates."

"No we are not." Gabrielle said in an almost apologetic tone.

"How can you say that? You don't know."

"Yes, I do." Gabrielle spoke, sounding almost defeated. "Yes I do know, Draco. I know you're not my soul mate."


"I know because I already have found the other half of my soul, in someone else. And that person is the love of my life."

"Who is it?" He spouted out in anger, ready to kill whomever his love named.

"That is not important Draco. This person…its someone who I intend to spend the rest of my live with."

Draco felt as if his heart had just been ripped from his chest and, still beating, tossed on the floor and stomped on. She is saying it could never be. She's not even giving me a chance…she's not even giving us a chance.

The bard sat on the bed and Draco dropped to his knees, looking deeply into the woman's eyes; pleading with her.

"Give me a chance Gabrielle. You could learn to love me." Draco implored her.

Gabrielle gave him a warm smile and caressed his cheek with a soothing hand.

"You're right. I could learn to love you." She admitted. "But I could never fall in love with you Draco. My heart is not mine to give, it's already taken." The man sunk to the floor. "There is someone out there for you. You're other half is still out there, looking for you."

"No….no…" He started to break down. Gabrielle gently lifted his face so there were eye to eye.

"Yes, she is." The bard gave another slight smile.

Draco realized the defeat and was ready to withdraw. He got up to his feet and headed towards the door. He gave a quick look back at his love.

"I should let you get some sleep." Gabrielle looked up at him, confused. "I'm going to sleep up with my men, we have to rest up for tomorrow."

"I understand."

"You know this doesn't change anything. I still have to take care of these men, I have an obligation to them and to others." He paused. "At dawn, we're going to attack Sieves. I'm…sorry." He blurted out just before he closed the door.

"I understand." Gabrielle, in a somber tone, to the recently shut door.

Xena slowly stepped into the temple.

Pink. All around her, surrounding her, encompassing her. Loads and loads of pink. Gods, could Aphrodite just once use a different color…I hate pink.

But the color was not the only upsetting the warrior. She was not accustomed to asking for help…especially from a god. However Xena was in a very tight spot with very little options. She wouldn't have even thought of asking Aphrodite for help except for her special relationship with Gabrielle. And, for her bard, she would swallow her pride.

Xena was a little out of practice calling gods. Should I use the obvious approach? Calling her name probably wouldn't work though….Aphrodite wasn't exactly tuning into my frequency. It works for Gabrielle because of their…connection. She winced.

Hmm….Xena thought about having some fun. I'm due anyway. I could let my chakram loose and see what happens. A smug smirk formed on her face as she pondered the idea. Oh yeh, definitely.

The warrior reached for her chakram and slowly raised it up. Now, let's get rid of some of that pink. Right before she released it, a voice sounded from the back.

"Don't even think about it." Aphrodite scolded Xena like she was a small child.

"Aphrodite…you're here?" Xena said, asking how she knew to come.

"Yeh…well when vicious warriors begin having malicious thoughts about destroying my perfectly pink temple, they catch my attention."

"Well," Xena paused, feeling a little bit embarrassed at her thoughts. "That was the idea. So…good it worked. You're here."

"Yes I am…..sooooo?"

"Aphrodite I need your help." Xena blurted out the words rapidly and finished with a deep breath. There, see Xena, that wasn't so bad….kind of.

"Exsqueeze me….I don't believe I heard that quite right." She brought her hand up, cupping her ear as if straining to hear. "Could you say that again?"

"I said AP-RO-DI-TE, I NE-ED YO-UR HE-LP!" The warrior strained out the syllables. "There, could you hear that. Is it easier for you to understand?"

"Be nice Xena or I won't help you." She scolded. The goddess turned her head, waiting for the warrior posture to relax in agreement. Xena complied, and Aphrodite made a big smile. "No, what can I do for you?"

"Its Gabrielle."

"What's wrong with Gabrielle? Did he hurt her?" A suddenly turned somber Goddess asked.

"Draco has her. He captured her and is demanding to have…wait a minute." Xena quickly replayed Aphrodite's words: Did he hurt her?...Gods, she knew…she knows. "You already knew that Draco had Gabrielle, didn't you?"

Aphrodite bowed her head in shame. She had known, the minute that the bard had entered Draco's cabin. She saw when he hit her over the head and captured her. In fact, she had been there. Invisibly in the shadows. She wanted to warn the bard. To stop her…anything. But she couldn't. Once again, her hands were tied.

"Yes, I knew."

"So what are you doing here? Can't you do something? You're a goddess for…" The warrior hesitated trying to find a better saying, but didn't really have time for that so she finished. "For gods sake."

"I'm sorry. I wish there was something I ….I could do…but…hmmmm" Aphrodite let out a long sigh. "I can't."

Xena was fuming. From her fingertips to her toes, her blood was boiling, pumping furiously throughout her veins. Helpless. She's a fucking goddess. How can she be helpless? She tried, feverently, to bit her tongue. But this was Gabrielle, she couldn't.

"Then what good are you? You say she's your chosen. You even say you love her. But, you never protect her. Hope, Chin, The Ides, You have never been there for her. Every time something's there stopping you. You're a goddess. There is nothing that stops you."

"I'm sorry." Aphrodite again hung her head, trying to hide her tears. They stung her eyes as they spilled down her cheeks. It hurt, it was an indescribable pain. Xena's words cut down to her soul. But it wasn't the pain that killed her soul, it was the truth. The warrior was right. What good am I? I don't deserve to even be her friend let alone having her as my chosen. I have to do something.

"You know you're wrong."

"About what?" Xena snarled back.

"There are something that stops gods and goddesses. Other…"

"Gods and goddesses." She finished her sentence. Xena felt sick. Her stomach began to churn and she could feel her bile rise up within her throat. The warrior knew what the next logical step was. "Ares…its him isn't it?"

"Yeh. He's backing Draco. Xena, if I could, I'd be there and bring her back to you in a heart beat. But I can't interfere. I'm so sorry, there's nothing I can do."

"That bastard." Xena felt instantly guilty. "Look Aphrodite, what I said….I didn't…."

"Don't," The goddess of love stopped her. "It's true. Everything you said was true. I have failed her many times." She admitted as she slowly faded away.

Xena sighed loudly and stalked out of the room. Now what?!

Aphrodite reappeared after Xena left. A deep look upon her face. A glassy look was upon her eyes as she wiped away the last few tears from her face.

"But I won't fail you again Gabrielle." She whispered before vanishing in a poof of bright light,
Determined to help the bard.

Up and down. Up and down. The repetitious movement was again, causing the bard to be sick. For the past few hours, Gabrielle had been trying to capture an elusive sleep. By now, she was way past counting sheep. After 437, she'd given up.

Up and Down. Up and down. The motions wreaked havoc on her body. As much as she'd tried, it was impossible to ignore the recurring motions. Gods….I feel like I've been trampled over by a tribe of centaurs. She let out a calm breath and she tried to regain equilibrium within her body. Its ok Gabrielle, deep breathes…you'll be just fine.

However, as time went by, she wasn't fine. In fact, she was down right terrible. Ok, that's it. I need air. I'm not taking advantage of Draco's trust if I just go up for a little while…besides, if I don't, I don't he'll be too happy with the results.

So, ever so slowly, the little blond crept out of the room, tip toeing over up on to the deck. She could now see that they were on their way back to the beach. Gods, it would be so easy, she thought. I could just jump off and slip away. It was tempting….actually too tempting to resist.

Gabrielle inched over to the ledge, and, right before she was about to jump she heard a voice she was all too able to recognize. Its unwanted familiarity sent shivers up her spin. The husky tone raced to her ears and into her brain, covering her mind with a menagerie of unwanted memories. It was Ares.

Suddenly finding Ares and Draco's conversation much more interesting, Gabrielle eased over with the stealth of a cat towards the two, honing in on their conversation. She went close enough so she could barely hear their words. But, she was just far enough so that she remained in the shadows, her presence undetectable. Although, as the Amazon thought about it, she realized the true futility of her actions. Ares was a god. She was almost sure he knew she was there. Ah well, like I care.

"You ha…" Ares faltered in his speech as he detected an intruding presence. The god put his nose to the air. Sniff Sniff. Smells like bard, he smiled. Of the blonde Amazon variety. Clever clever girl Gabrielle. Sneaking up on us like that. Actually, you're getting quite good. I almost didn't sense you. But do I care if you hear anything….no.

"Lord Ares." Draco interrupted his thoughts.


"You were saying…."

"Oh yes. Tomorrow, you have to fight at dawn. It will be beautiful. Blood, hatred, rage, and you'll rise to victory Draco."

"With your backing Lord Ares."

"Of course Draco, just like I promised you. All you have to do is call my name, and I'll be there." He paused, looking in the bard's direction. "I'll be there." He repeated, in a more sadistic tone.

Gabrielle let out a quiet curse, knowing she had been spotted. She quickly retreated back to the cabin before Ares alerted Draco to her little visit. Damn him! She fumed. Before she could think any further, an odd rush ran through the bard.

The hairs on the back of Gabrielle's neck stood on edge and her whole body tensed. Something was in the room with her.

"Ares." She called out.

From behind her, the god appeared. Ares sneered arrogantly to the bard's back, running his fingertips through her silky blond hair. As an immediate response, the Amazon's elbow went flying back into Ares gut. He stepped back, hunched over in pain.

"A might harsh don't you think?"

"Not really." Gabrielle stated blankly.

"Well well, the cat has claws." He baited her.

The bard let out a fierce growl, imitating that of a lions. Oh yeh Ares, this cat DEFINITELY has claws. Now, if I could only use them.

"Ares what are you doing here?"

"I'm here to check in on you. I wanted to see if captivity has done anything to make you less annoying."

"Ha ha. I didn't mean here." She pointed around to the room they were in. "I mean in Sieves. In cahoots with Draco. Why Ares? Why Draco? Why Sieves? Can you ever just leave us alone?"

"Calm down there. This has nothing to do with you too."

"Right." A skeptical tone arose from Gabrielle.

"Hey babe, like it or not, I'm the god of war. This is strictly business Gabrielle."

"Oh really?"


"So me and Xena have nothing to do with this?"

"Well….everything always has to do with Xena…eventually."

Gabrielle mused for a moment when a thought struck her blind.

"So that's how he did it." Gabrielle thought aloud.


"I was wondering how Draco heard me when I snuck into his room the other night. You woke him up didn't you? You had me captured. Gods Ares, you're such a bastard."

"Such language…from a bard trained at the Academy. I'm shocked. I had to do it Gabrielle. It was purely business though. It will definitely be a much better battle when Xena has such a…" He stretched out a pause to once over Gabrielle with his eyes. He slowly worked his way from her legs up, settling his gaze on her breasts. "…Nice incentive."

"Bite me."

"Hiss," Ares mimicked a cat by contorting his hand to look like a claw. "That could be very interesting."

"And wouldn't you like to know." The bard retorted sarcastically, then reexamined her words. Hmmm….how bout a little payback. "You would like to know won't you? Do you even remember?" She raised a teasing eyebrow and moved in closer to Ares.

"You'd like to know what it's like when I touch her body. Or when I go kiss those sweet lips." It was obvious she was having an unsettling effect on the god. She moved in even nearer, their bodies in close connect. Her breath slowly caressing his ear.

"Or when I take her and I bring her closer and closer." Her voice began to rise. "A finally she calls out my name as I send her soaring over the pinnacle of ecstasy." She quickly pulled away, kneeing him directly in the groin. Ares howled in pain at the unexpected attack.

"You would like to know wouldn't you?! Pervert." She scolded him. "Well, get used to the fact that it's never gonna happen Ares."

The God was still gasping for breath as he heard her harsh words. After several seconds spent regaining his composure, he was able to formulate a reply.

"She was mine once Gabrielle. She'll be mine again."

"No. Both you and I know she never will. The Xena you had before isn't the same Xena that exists today. She'll never go back to you."

"We'll see." He spouted confidently.

"And if she did, you could never have her completely Ares. There's one thing you could never have."

"Oh really. And what, pretell, is that?"

"Her heart." Gabrielle answered solidly with matching arrogance.

In response, the god of war simply shook his head and faded away. Only once he had reached the Halls of War did a reply escape his lips.

"I know."

Dawn approached as Xena rose from her bed.

She had not slept that night, her mind wrenching over a solution. But as of yet, she was still without plan. But...she still had a couple of hours….plenty of time to think of…something. Guilt consumed her. If she wasn't able to help her bard, how was she and better then Aphrodite?

However doting on her self loathing was not going to make things any better. Now, right now Xena had to think.

"Alright mighty Warrior Princess, what are we going to do?" Xena asked herself with somber sarcasm, massaging her temples slowly.

As if on cue, someone knocked at the door. Xena was ready to bite their head off for interrupting her, but decided to take the calm approach. She slowly got up from the bed and strode over to the door, slowly opening it and peering her head out.

"Yeeeessss?" Xena asked, biting off a bitter greeting as she was met with an uptight Rubrik outside her door. This is that last thing I need right now.

"Someone's here to see you."


"Just…Umm…its….you best just follow me please." He stuttered his response.

Xena raised an infamous, questioning eyebrow. Who the hell even knows I am here? However, rather than wasting precious time questioning, she decided to follow the stuffy man to her unexpected visitor. He led her toward the main throne room once again to meet her guest.

Rubrik continued on over towards the window with Xena following idly behind. Finally, as he reached the window wall, he halted his step and bowed his head.

"What? Where is this visitor?"

"We're over here." A female voice sounded from the back. Xena replayed the voice again in her mind. I know her. Xena spun around to face her caller.

"Varia." She greeted her, trying desperately to hide her blatant surprise.


"What are you doing here?"

"Well, when one of our fellow Amazon Queens is in trouble it is our duty to rescue her."

Xena was a bit angered by Varia's comment that it was their duty to rescue her. Is she saying that I can't rescue my bard….even though I've been unsuccessful…Xena was about to go into another of her self loathing trips when she realized something.

"But Varia, Gabrielle was captured the night before last. How did you even know, let alone get here?"

"That's where I come in." Another familiar voice replied. Aphrodite walked out from behind the shadows. "I brought them here."

The warrior was a bit overwhelmed by all the surprises she was encountering this morning. She tried her best to cope.

"What do you mean them?" She asked confused.

"I mean them." Aphrodite repeated her words, pointing to the window.

Xena stepped over looking to see who them was. And, suddenly, the answer to her problem had arrived. There, standing in the middle of Sieves' square was a small army of Amazons. At Xena's best guess, there was at least fifty.

"They volunteered to fight." Varia spoke. "They volunteered to save Gabrielle. They are the best we have and are under strict advisement to follow your orders. Let's get her back." The Amazon gave a slight smile.

"Thank you….both." Xena said, perfectly speechless. "Varia, why don't you go down there with the troops? I'll meet you in a moment." In response, Varia nodded and headed out the door. Once she left, Xena turned to Aphrodite, preparing to do one of the hardest things she'd ever done.


"Yeh Xena." She answered with innocent naiveté in her voice.

"I just…I mean…" The Warrior Princess took a short moment to collect herself. "About what I said last night…"

"Xena you don't have…" Aphrodite interrupted the warrior but was cut off by Xena's words.

"No, I do have to. What I said last night, asking about what good are you. That wasn't right and I didn't mean it. The things I said to you, I should have been saying to myself. I'm guilty of all them…and then this. I know you love her very much and I know she truly appreciates your friendship…I…I just wanted to say I'm…I'm…"

"Sorry." Aphrodite finished her sentence for her.

"Yeh, I'm sorry. And thank you. Not only for this, but for everything you've done for Gabrielle. I really do appreciate it."

Now it was Aphrodite's turn to be speechless. It definitely wasn't Xena's nature to be remorseful, especially when Aphrodite was concerned. In fact, the tall woman had always had a little bit of a short fuse when it came to the goddess of love. Aphrodite was unsure how to react. So, she said the only thing she could thing of.


"No, thank you." Xena said sincerely.

"You know you better be careful oh grumpy one. This fraternizing with the Goddess of love I'm sure doesn't do much for your image" Xena gave a light snicker. "Now, go save our Gabrielle."

Xena smiled at Aphrodite before heading out after the Amazons.

As she stepped onto the field, power's sweet scent flared through her nostrils. Xena looked over the small army of amazons, her army of amazons. She couldn't stop the smile from coming.

So you wanna play Draco, well I never play nice.

Now, the real game began. Varia strode over to the daunting warrior.

"So, what next?" She too held an undefeatable smile.

"Well, Draco is supposed to attack at dawn which gives us a couple of hours..." Xena paused as a plan was formulating.

The amazons were great warriors that were certain. However, Draco outnumbered them by sheer mass by about three to one. Although, Xena had complete faith in her army's ability. It never hurt to have the extra edge…and that's what they'd need.

"But?!" Varia asked, sensing Xena's apprehension.

"But, why should we cater to him. Draco's got us beat in numbers so we need the upper hand. I hope he's in the mood for a surprise." She gave a little snicker.


"Meaning why should we wait for him. Tell your amazons to get ready to move, we're heading to the beach." Xena said in a devious voice before stomping off.

"But what about you?" Varia called after the departing warrior.

"I'll be with you in a few minutes. First I've got some business to attend to."

Draco sat close to her bead, taking in the beauty he saw before him. She was positively breathtaking. The moonlight just highlighted her glorious features, adding that extra glow to her skin and the extra glint to her golden blond locks.

It was all for her. It had always been. Nobody ever knew he'd been in love with her even before Cupid's spell. That had been simply an excuse to admit his feeling to her. It was really obvious if anybody had even taking the time to look.

Years and years ago on that fateful day, he's rode into Poteidaia. Every once in a while even a warlord needed a break from his life. Anyway, he'd come into the small, no name town with intentions for nothing more then a good drink, a decent meal, and some anonymity.

However fate had different plans for him. He stepped into that tavern and, unbenounced to him, he lost his heart. For on the stage stood a cute little peasant girl. Although she was covered up with that hideously drab skirt and much too formal blouse, she had something.

He sat down in the shadows enjoying his drink and waited for her to begin. And, from the first word on, he was entranced by her. Her voice, her body, her smile; she cast a spell on him. From that moment on, she became his ultimate goal; his ultimate conquest.

Though at first, he didn't realize it for what it was. Draco had still been pretty hung up on a certain warrior princess to see his feelings for Gabrielle for anything past lust. It didn't matter; he was completely enamored by her.

After she had finished, Draco followed her out of the tavern, maintaining a safe distance as not to be seen. He followed her out to the small lake that was on the border of the town. He watched as she silently pondered, wiggling her feet in the cool water. Moonlight shining down upon them both.

Then a man came over and broke their perfect silence. He was of average height, average weight…actually everything about him seemed average. He had a natural clumsiness about him that made Draco weary. At first, he prayed for the man to be this woman's brother…or friend. But, it became obvious by his mannerisms that there was more between them.

They had a short conversation. The warlord was too far away to hear most of their words but one came shining through. The man had called out to her: Gabrielle. The angel had a name, a beautiful name. It seemed to suit her very well.

The boy turned to depart, but, before leaving, he leaned over and placed a sloppy kiss upon her lips. It was obviously not heartedly returned, yet Gabrielle let the boy's lips linger on her own. This enraged Draco and he grabbed for his sword, ready to attack the man.

He pulled away before Draco could get to him, and headed back for the village. Lucky for him. He can keep his head…for now. Draco wasn't allowed to dwell on his anger because he was distracted by a light sniffle.

He turned his attention back to Gabrielle and saw her eyes glistening with tears. His angel was crying. He had to comfort her, to save her. He would take her away from all this, He would save her.

Mind you, Draco was a might cruel back then. She may have been love, or she may have been a passing fancy. Either way, he was determined to consume her until he had his fill. He was going to save her from that stupid clumsy boy, and this ho-hum existence.

Then and there a plan began to formulate in his mind. A plan to save his Gabrielle.

And that's what the slavery bout had been. A plan to save Gabrielle. The only reason he took that route was because it was the only way to justify his actions to his men. He couldn't just say Well men, I might in love, either way I've decided to be a hero and go rescue this girl named Gabrielle….a damsel in distress. Warlords don't do that. It would simply ruin the image.

So he had his men attack that village, with specific orders to find the small little blond, although back then she was more of a red head, and bring her and other girls to him. He had planned, once he had Gabrielle with him, to let the rest of the girls go.

He would lie to his army, told them he'd sold the girls and kept Gabrielle for himself...for some fun. His army had been doing very well lately, and the sale of a few girls wouldn't do too much for their funds. They wouldn't notice. And they would certainly understand the need to keep Gabrielle…anyone would.

And, once they were together, she would see him as the hero he was. Saving her from the plain peasant she would have become. She could be so much more than that.

But his plan had backfired. He hadn't counted on one thing: Xena. And that had changed it all. She had become the hero. She had rescued Gabrielle. She had won…again.

Draco tried to forget her. But everyday, there her face was embroidered on his heart. He could never forget. It became obvious to him that he was in love with her. However he tried to go on, thinking he'd never see her again. But Fate had different plans.

They kept meeting, and Draco fell deeper and deeper in love. And so, he had decided to change his ways. To make her love him. Everything he did, even this, was for her.

"I wonder if she'll ever know." He whispered to the sleeping bard.

But he knew she would never.

"ARES." Xena yelled out at the top of her lungs. "ARES, I'M CALLING YOU OUT." She kept her eyes rolling over the visible horizon, waiting for him to come.

Slowly, the hairs on the back of her neck started to rise along with the bile in her throat. Ares was here.

"Ares, show yourself." Xena waited but still nothing. "I suddenly feel the incredible need to vomit so I know you're here, stop hiding."

A flash sparked from the side of Xena's peripheral vision and suddenly there he was.

"Now that wasn't very nice." He scolded her.

"Yeh well neither was backing Draco, convincing him to start a war with Sieves and capturing Gabrielle. When are you gonna get it? ITS OVER!" She said in a stern voice.

"What? You think this is about you and me. Xena, please, give me a little credit." He paused, trying his best to sound convincing. "This is business."

"Oh really." She stepped in closer to the god. "And are you mixing a little business with pleasure?" She spoke seductively grazing her index finger over his lips.

Ares was unable to formulate a reply. He simply nodded his head furiously. His eyes, glazed over with desire.

"Well," Xena cupped his chin with her cheek. "Stop it!" She pushed his head aside, causing Ares to take a step back. "I'm sick of it Ares. Stop your meddling. I'll never go back to you."

"Well…A guy's gotta dream doesn't he?"

"Fine dream all you want. You know what, even mess with me all you want, but leave Gabrielle out of it. She doesn't deserve this…any of this."

"Oh Xena Xena Xena. Sorry to mess with your precious bard but it's a rare occasion that I see you fight with an army. An Amazon army no less. I simply couldn't let you go half mast Xena. I needed a full warrior. So I had Draco kidnap Gabrielle….or rather gave her the idea to go to his ship that night, unknown to anyone else and had her captured. Call it motivation."


"Oh Xena, flattery will get you nowhere."

"I'm gonna beat you Ares. I'm going to beat Draco and his army and get Gabrielle. And then, when its all done, I'm gonna come to you, spit in your face and smile." Xena vowed before stomping off back towards her troops.

"I hope you do Xena." Ares whispered under his breath to the warrior's back. "I hope you do."

The amazons lined up along the brush by the beach. Varia had already given them their orders: strike to maim, not to kill. Xena thought these men to be basically good, and undeserving of a violent death. However, if it came to that, so be it. They were to get Gabrielle, get the Eye back, and leave.

Varia crawled over to the crouching Xena.

"This feels good you know." She whispered.

"What does?" Xena replied back, not really paying much attention to her.

"You, me, on the same side."

"Yeh," The warrior thought about it for a moment. "It does."

Varia face turned more solemn and Xena began to dread the next words she would speak.

"You know I still love her." Varia admitted, almost at the point of tears.

"You wouldn't be here if you didn't." Xena said. "Besides, she's very easy to love."

"I think about her, every day I do. I miss …a lot. I didn't realize what a gift she was to me and the nation for that matter when she stayed with us. But…" She trailed off.


"But I've come to terms with the fact that she loves you. Xena, you make her happy. And all I want is for her to be happy. So what I'm trying to say is. Congratulations, you've got an incredible woman."

"I know." Xena couldn't help but smile. "Thanks."

"Now let's go get her back."

"Right." Xena took a deep breath. "AMAZONS ATTACK!!"

And so the battle began.

Draco shot up wide awake. He looked up to the sky, seeing it was still dark. What woke me up? He asked himself in confusion. Then he heard the loud noise of an attacking army.

"Amazons?" He gasped is disbelief. What in Tartaurus are Amazons doing here?! Just then and well known war cry wrung out. Xena, He sneered. With full clarity of what was now going on, Draco immediately acted.


Quickly, bunch by bunch, the men arose in a bewildered morning haze. But it soon became evident what was happening, they turned to Draco for directions.

"Marius, you lead them," he pointed to a group, "up the middle. Aero, you and Demetrius split the men and go on each side. NOW ATTACK!" The men quickly followed orders, charging off the boat and to the beach where oncoming Amazons were waiting.

Draco had something to attend to before he could join the battle.

Quickly he headed back down into the cabin. The door to his room was as he had left it last night. The warlord threw propriety out the window and rushed into the room. Gabrielle lay in still, in deep sleep, a cherubic smile etched upon her face.

But he didn't have the time to dwell upon her beauty right now, there were much more important things at hand. He grabbed her on each side and shook her awake.

"Gabrielle, wake up." He called her. And, finally, after several rousing shakes, Gabrielle slowly blinked open.


"Come on. We're under attack, we've gotta go."

"What…what are you talking about?" She asked, thoroughly confused.

"Xena and a group of amazons are attacking. She's thought she'd win by catching us by surprise and pouncing before dawn. She's a clever girl, I'll give her that."

Gabrielle's emerald green eyes were clouded over with a haze of perplexity. Her mind was trying to piece together what she was hearing with some form of clarity. Attack….Amazons?!....Xena! That name was all she needed.

"We're going and I want you at my side. I can't have Xena recapturing my most precious cargo."

Gabrielle rolled her eyes and opened her mouth to make a side comment but was cut off by Draco grabbing her and pulling her out the door.

"Wait!" She stopped him, pulling from his grasp and running back into the room.

"What now?!" He growled impatiently to her back.

"I've got to get something." Gabrielle reentered the room, making sure Draco wasn't behind her. She quickly grabbed her bag which he had hidden under the bed, not very cunning for such a successful warrior. The diamond still remained inside…which was suspect, almost like wanted her to find it…and to have it. But the bard didn't have time to mull over that at the moment. She quickly seized her Sais which she had found earlier and ran back out to join an angry Draco.

"And what do you need that for?"

"Um...it has my sleeping shift in it. Just incase we get chased away from the boat, I want to make sure I have something extra to wear." Gabrielle bit her lip, trying to look innocent. Gods, I hope he buys that…Geez Gabrielle, you're a frickin bard. You can't come up with anything better than that?!

However Draco too was in a hurry and rather than protesting simply rolled his eyes and lightly muttered under his breath.


Xena was in her element. An army, a battle, it was like a thick blanket, warming her with its uncanny familiarity.

Another man ran at her, but Xena's sword easily fended him off. Not that he was without skill; he wasn't. However, Xena was the Warrior Princess and now she was the master of her domain. Something was different though.

The fighting, the mayhem, it was al l the same, but one thing was different. She was different. The monster, her dark side, wasn't allowed free reign. Xena was able to keep her sword well under control. She had given the Amazons strict orders to avoid killing the men if at all possible.

Years ago….that simply wouldn't have been possible. Xena didn't possess that kind of control. But, especially after everything she had gone through lately, she had learned that. Actually, Gabrielle had given her that.

The man drew his sword, aiming for her side. And, instead of stabbing the man in the gut, which he had left himself open to and would be the easiest maneuver, Xena brought her leg around sweeping the man's feet from with under him and sending him to the ground. The warrior then gave him a sharp whack with the hilt of her sword to the back of his head. It would hurt like Tartaurus when he woke up, but he would be alive to enjoy his pain.

Xena was about to chase after the next foe when her eye caught a familiar glint of blond hair. Her eyes lifted up to the higher horizon and her breath was stolen from her. There was her soul mate, being held close to Draco with an offending hand.

At the same moment, Gabrielle chose to look over seeing Xena. Her heart skipped a beat and was assaulted by piercing blue eyes, directing such longing and warmth, it was almost too much for her to bear. Although no words could be said, they weren't needed. Speech would be superfluous at the moment. The two soul mates were speaking volumes with their eyes.

Determination fueled Xena's body. Her mind focused on her objective: Gabrielle. At the same time, her body honed in on her opponent: Draco. The warrior within her reached a perfect equilibrium. Xena let out her signature battle cry before flying through the air in a series of flips over to the warlord and bard.

"Xena." Gabrielle whispered in relief. If felt wonderful just mentioning her lover's name, knowing she was there.

The warrior landed a few feet short of the pair. She slyly ambled over, giving Gabrielle a fierce smile.

"I believe you have something that belongs to me."

"Oh, Gabrielle doesn't belong to anyone but herself. However, I intend to keep her Xena. If you want her, you'll have to take her."

Xena charged, forcing Draco to let go of his hold on Gabrielle. For a minute, the bard simply reveled in the fact that she was free. But the fact was truly irrelevant at the moment, there was a battle going on with her Amazons even though she still had no idea how they got here. They needed her help. The Amazon Queen reached behind her back and produced two Sais.

She gave Xena a short look, as if asking permission. Xena gave her a quick nod, letting Gabrielle know she was fine. The bard then set out to help her tribe.

Xena and Draco's battle continued. As their earlier battle had proved, Xena was the better of the two. Although Draco was very formidable foe, he was injured all be it a minor. Xena was also stronger and faster. Even so, Xena still had to fend him off.

But, with her bard in tow, the Warrior Princess was far from wanting a long battle. The other day, Xena had used all her strength quickly, trying to wear Draco out. The water had been a stroke of luck for her, catching her assailant off balance and creating an opening for her.

Today she was not so fortunate and waiting Draco could take a while. Xena needed another strategy.

"So was she any good?" She asked maliciously.

"What are you talking about?' Draco questioned back between breathes as he parried the warrior's move.

"Well you said if I tried anything, you'd….you know."

"I couldn't…I didn't…." His speech stopped as he and Xena engaged in a complex series of moves. The finally ended up, sword to sword, in a test of strength. Xena pressed hard, pushing the crossed swords closer to the warlord's neck.

"You didn't have the guts did you? You couldn't even go through with it. You're pathetic." She spat in his face.

Draco became enraged, pulling his sword away and taking a step back.

"I could never do that to her. She doesn't deserve that." He screamed, running towards Xena, his sword aiming straight for her. Xena easily intercepted him, blocking his move and spinning around and landing a solid kick across Draco's face.

"It's too bad you know." She said as the man stood up, his pride deeply wounded. "She's so good."

"Shut up!"

"Oh, Gods, she does this thing….with her tongue." Xena stuck out hers, swirling it around the outsides of her mouth. "Pure Elusia."

"SHUT UP!" He yelled at the top of his lungs.

"And you know what the best part is," Xena matched his fevered attacks. "You'll never know."

"Ahhh!" He let out a loud growl, initiated another angry assault.

Several minutes passed by and the pair continued on rapped in the heat of battle. When Draco should have tired, pure anger and adrenaline fueled him. Xena was able to hold him off, but was not gaining any ground. She was truly surprised by his awesome display. Still, she continued on with her physical as well as mental assaults.

"You're the one who is wrong Xena because I will know her. I'll know all the pleasures she'll have to give me. Mind, body, and soul. My army is going to win, Sieves will be mine, and Gabrielle will become my queen."

"Look around you Draco, the Amazons are holding off your army nicely."

"That may be Xena, but eventually they will get tired and my men outnumber them three to one and…." He halted his speech as a loud series of yells invaded his ears. Both he and Xena broke from their battle, along with the rest of the fighting, to see the cause of the noise.

There, standing in all his Kingly glory, was Auto, at the head of a charging army. He held a satisfied smile on his face and winked knowingly at Xena. The warrior nodded back and Auto opened his mouth to call the troops.

"MEN ATTACK!" And an army coated the beach, swarming down like bees to a honeycomb, greedily intaking the battle.

Xena turned back to Draco, victory enthralling her senses. Draco, however, was not ready to give up. He charged Xena yet again, but the warrior possessed an irrevocable confidence and she easily fended him off.

"It's over Draco." She desperately pleaded with him, but he continued at her. Xena kicked away his sword and knocked the man down, bringing him to the ground.

He got up on his knees and quickly turned around, but he was met with the pointed end of Xena's sword barely touching the vulnerable flesh of his neck.

"It is over." She said slowly, emphasizing each word. Draco simply sneered at her, turning his head. Xena leaned down, grabbing the resisting warlord's chin. She was surprised to find genuine tears in his eyes. "She'll never love you." She whispered to him before releasing her grip. "Go home."

Xena then resheathed her sword and walked away. Her eyes scanned the area for her bard.

Unknown to either of them, Gabrielle had witnessed the whole ordeal. Her stomach clenched up when she saw Xena hold a sword to Draco's neck. She had silently willed her warrior to stop, to let the man go. Gabrielle was both relieved and proud as Xena walked away. She's come a long way, the Amazon silently admitted to herself.

As she looked over and her eyes met Xena, a smile rose upon her face and her heart quickened its pace. We've come a long.

Both Xena and Gabrielle ran full throttle towards each other, craving physical contact. After what had seemed like an eternity, they met in the middle. Xena immediately brought Gabrielle into her arms. Her soul instantly calmed by the bard's presence.

"Thank the gods you're safe." She spoke, ultimately relieved.

"No," Came Gabrielle's voice, muffled as she talked directly into Xena's breast plate. She brought her head up from its comfortable spot to be heard clearly. "Thank you." She gave an innocent grin.

Xena returned her smile with a wide variation of her own before drawing the bard back in, holding her as tight as she could, almost to the point of uncomfortability for Gabrielle. However, the bard could care less. She couldn't feel anything more then undeniable love.

After a few minutes of just standing there, the little Amazon raised her head up, poking it up just over Xena's chest.

"Xena, not that I'm not completely enjoying this. But I have to ask, why are we surrounded by an army of my Amazons?"

Xena gave a short laugh at the bard before placing gentle finger over her lips.

"All in good time love. It's not important right now."

"You're right, its not."

"But this is." Xena said, moving in and meeting the bard halfway for a passionate kiss.

Draco had slowly risen from his knees. He picked up his sword, but there was no way he could salvage his broken pride or his broken heart.

He had lost…everything. It was over. Everything was over. My whole life has been for nothing. My whole life has meant nothing.

Finally, he stood up, he's stance weary from both exhaustion and the revelations that had been recently brought to light. He turned his head over to give Gabrielle one last look and the wind were immediately knocked from his sails. His head began to spin, and dizziness reigned over his senses.

There was Gabrielle, his angel, his love, kissing Xena. At first, he was unable to comprehend the vision, but slowly things began to focus. Gabrielle's words replayed in his head. I know you're not my soul mate… I already have found the other half of my soul in someone else…that person is the love of my life.

Suddenly it was all clear, painfully clear.

"Xena." He muttered under his breath, tears forming in his eyes. "She's in love with that bitch." Anger began to rise. "The warrior princess already had everything, but it wasn't enough. She had to seduce my Gabrielle." His nostrils flared. "NO!"

Draco saw an oncoming guard upon a horse. He jumped up and kicked the man off the saddle. The warlord then grabbed the only weapon close, the staff that the guard had been carrying, and jumped up upon the horse. She can't get away with this.

"AHHHHH!" He yelled out as he brought the horse to a full gallop, charging straight for Xena's head.

Although Gabrielle was completely involved and enjoying the kiss, Draco's scream caught a little facet of her attention. She lightly opened an eye to see the cause of the commotion and saw Draco coming straight at Xena's back.

Xena knew of Draco's close proximately and of his oncoming assault. Her warrior instinct told her she had several more seconds before she'd have to fend off his attack and chose to spend those ending her much needed kiss with her bard.

But Gabrielle's instincts were not as honed as Xena's and she was unaware of the warrior's intentions. All she knew was Xena was in danger and she had to protect her. Without warning she pushed Xena away, onto the ground, and prepared for the blow.

Draco saw the bard's actions but he was already in mid swing as she pushed Xena out of the way. It was too late. Gods forgive me, Gabrielle I'm so sorry.

"GABRIELLE NO!" Was all Xena was able to sound off before hitting the ground.

She watched helplessly as the events unfolded. Gabrielle had pushed her down, turning to face Draco. The look on the warlord's face changed quickly from anger to sober regret. He was too far into his actions to stop it and the staff hit the back of the bard's head as she tilted it away.

"WHACK!" The loud sound of wood connecting with a human skull drowned out all other noises. It was followed by a chilling silence that turned Xena's blood cold.

Draco stayed upon his horse, his eyes wide in shock, looking down at what he had just done.

Xena, after recovering from her initial stun, ran over to her companion.

"Gabrielle?" She called out, placing the bard's head upon her lap. "Gabrielle wake up." Xena cried frantically.

But it seemed she would not.

Almost done. You could end here, but I suggest you read the epilogue.

Continued in the epilogue

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