(Revised June 15, 1998)

By Lyssa


DISCLAIMER: Xena, Gabrielle and Argo belong to MCA/Universal/Renaissance and are used here without permission in this fan fiction. This story is not intended to infringe on their copyrights. The story belongs to me and is not for sale. It is solely for entertainment purposes.

WARNING: The story contains some violence, nudity and explicit love scenes between two women who love each other. If you are not 21 years old or are offended by this type of love or if this type of material is illegal where you live. Please stop reading and go back to the Internet.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is a love story. It works only in the context of the deep abiding love that exists between Xena and Gabrielle. We all know love takes many forms and the heart speaks many languages. Xena and Gabrielle explore an alternative desire that always simmers between them just below the surface. In facing that truth, they learn something about themselves that deepens the bonds of love between them. Who can say where fantasy ends and reality begins? Who among you has not felt the searing flames of love's passion and not hungered for it? Tender and fierce this story may catch you off guard. This is the only way I know to prepare you for the journey, should you care to proceed. It is my final warning.


"It is said that Helen's beauty launched a thousand ships. That her kiss of passion was sweeter than ambrosia. And for this, two love-struck men brought their armies to war. They trusted in Helen's love so true. They fought valiantly for their lady, of her desire, we have no clue.

When the great battle banners crossed, in the name of love, Menelaus lay siege to the city of Troy. In the face of such jealous rage, the sacred vows of unity were forgotten. A beautiful faith was lost in the clamor of clashing blades, trampled to dust beneath pounding hooves. Wise, innocent hearts cried out in fear of dying. Whilst dark winds pursued them and ceaseless fires burned all around them, fair hope wept. The ageless flames of war captured the eternal struggle within its evil radiance. Enjoined nations fought in a gluttony of butchery. There was no turning back, no where to go. Where the once blue rivers ran bright and clear to the sea. Their waters now ran red, flowing with the blood of all the innocents dead.

Above the seething battle mantle, a lone warrior watched. She prepared to join the mindless fools, who lusted for blood. She knew a great house was about to fall, never again to raise its sons to glory.

From her vantage point, the grim warrior dallied, studying the field of battle as a commander would. She could not be seduced by sounds and sights of raging steel. Her sword's time belonged to no one but herself.

While the warrior watched the cruel show, a thunderous sound rose from the ground that startled her heart. The earth bucked beneath her nervous mount's dancing feet, before it rolled down to the plains. The war torn terrain heaved in serpentine motions. Huge fissures ruptured its pliant skin, yielding an angry molten river. Wrenched from the bowels of the earth hideous flames rose. The searing heat set the robes of darkness burning, back lighting the carnage below. Sapphire eyes lifted to the sky, at the sound of Ares's laughter echoing on the fanning wind. No warrior would let the God of War go unchallenged. . ."

Gabrielle's voice sang across the crowded tavern. Her tones rich, clear and strong. Her words seduced, no compelled the listener to partake of her vision.

When Gabrielle's body joined her voice, Xena knew her talented lover was gripped by the bold passion of her own story. Xena smiled as she remembered how Gabrielle's voice would soften when speaking of tender moments between lovers. When Gabrielle told love stories; her face would take on a pink-tinted glow, so sweetly innocent that it would melt your heart. Gabrielle's body always followed the drama of her words, and deeply romantic stories could suddenly take on the appearance of a sensuous dance. Of course, Gabrielle saved her most erotic tales for Xena's ears alone. Xena loved to hear these particular narratives with Gabrielle in her arms, because her talented bard would fully dramatize her stories with live action. Remembered images filtered through Xena's mind, of tender caresses arousing desire, of a fiery kiss taken without mercy or a passionate encounter a maiden's innocence. Xena closed her eyes quickly, she had to let these tempting images go. If she kept thinking about erotic stories and Gabrielle, Gabrielle would never finish the Siege of Troy. Xena turned back to the bar and set her mug on the counter. After a couple of deep breaths, she asked the barkeep for more mead. Then turned back, mug in hand, to watch Gabrielle work.

Gabrielle's enthusiasm gave wings to the words she spoke.

"A bright crimson flash glinted off the warrior's blade. The golden skin of her horse gleamed like copper in the fiery night. A haunting battle cry heralded the imminent thunderous charge. Its lingering echo resonated clearly upon the invisible winds of fury.

In a powerful head shaking, full vertical rise, the great war horse hooves reached for the stars. The Warrior's cry sounded again, as Argo leapt full stride over the crest of the hill.. Fire sparked from hoof and stone. Rider and horse entered the melee at full battle speed. Many warriors were trampled beneath the flying hooves before the golden palomino slowed.

The screams of the conquered were heard above the horrendous clamor of a world expiring. A way of life was dying in the corrupted abyss of total oblivion, when Xena's sword joined the battle for the sake of Helen, her friend."

Gabrielle eyed her audience as she paused to take a drink of water. This tale of Troy was always a crowd pleaser, but tonight she was giving it her all. She had every man and woman in the establishment enthralled by her story. Many listeners leaned forward in their eagerness to hear more. Gabrielle loved to hold her audience right on the edge of their seats. It made her feel good to know that the tapestry of words she wove, of the heros and heroines, Gods and Goddesses, inspired people to deal with their own small problems. But there were special moments in every story teller's life, when they could captivate an audience like she was doing tonight. Gabrielle knew she was mixing just the right amount of tension, fear and tragedy into her story to make it believable. The expectant hush of the room stalked her like a hungry panther. Gabrielle closed her eyes savoring the eagerness of her audience. The feeling was akin to an energy rush. It excited her, motivating her to get into the meat of her story.

Gabrielle took another sip of water. A wry smile touched her lips as a beautiful face flashed in her mind. There was someone who could excite her in almost the same way, only better. An involuntary thrill of real pleasure passed through her, with thoughts of Xena. If Xena were here, she'd be too busy to tell stories. Oh, yes, way too busy. Xena would see to it that she had better things to occupy her time with. Gabrielle had to curl her fingers over her mouth, to hide both her smile and the giggle that threatened to destroy her solemn appearance. Hades, if she didn't control her thoughts she was going to ruin the austerity of her story.

Taking a deep breath, Gabrielle squared her shoulders, composing herself. She took another drink of water and envisioned the devastating carnage wrought by the blades of war. A momentary flicker of distaste passed over her face, followed by an involuntary shiver. Gabrielle regained her solemn expression and faced her audience once more.

Xena's attention had been captured by her lover's sweet expression. She knew where her bard's thoughts had lingered. It was very pleasing to witness and more so, because Gabrielle did not know she had returned from her mission. Right now she was a silent observer to the magic a true bard could weave over her audience.

Suddenly, aware of a feverish heat exploding within her, Xena's eyes narrowed in denial. She fought back quickly, hoping to temper the dark flame rising from deep within her soul. Only now did she understand what drove her to travel without stopping to reach Gabrielle. The emotional high she always rode after an intense battle, threatened her with loss of dignity. Every decision she made would be compromised by her feelings. Not to mention the fact the object of her desire was standing only a few feet away. It was going to be hard to wait for Gabrielle to finish her story, very hard indeed. Every move, every sound the bard made excited her. Xena hoped she could remain civil during the enforced wait. Knowing she had to control her raging carnal desires, Xena brought deep meditative disciplines to bear on her problem.

The waiting audience murmured appreciatively in anticipation of Gabrielle's next words. Then, just as Gabrielle was about to launch into the final sequences of her story, an uneasy premonition gripped her heart. Gabrielle snapped her head instinctively toward the far end of the bar, straight into the searing blue eyes of her warrior. She was so shocked, she almost fell over her stool, as she took an involuntary step back. Oh, Gods, she knew what those eyes wanted. The feeling left her trembling with longing for her warrior's caress. She made a move toward her lover, but Xena shook her head no, and tilted her head toward the waiting listeners.

Glad she wouldn't have to disappoint those anxious ears, Gabrielle flashed Xena a grateful smile. As Gabrielle turned to engage her audience again, a feeling of contentment washed over her. Xena had come back safely after having been gone over a fortnight to settle a war dispute for an old friend. She had worried constantly over Xena's welfare the whole time. But Gabrielle hadn't realized how much she had missed Xena until she saw her leaning against that scarred hardwood bar.

The Warrior Princess was a commanding presence no matter where she went. Gabrielle, had witnessed the "Xena effect" many times, over the past two years. It never ceased to amaze her how Xena could control a room just by entering it. Gabrielle often referred to Xena, as warrior. Especially, when there were no other words to describe her, like now. There was nothing soft about her. Xena was fully armed, and ready for a fight. Her wild, wind blown hair only added to the overall effect. But it was that dark warlord countenance that shook Gabrielle to the bottom of her toes. She had never really seen the look before. Nothing in her wildest imaginings could have prepared her, for this. Fear rose unbidden to her heart. Xena was indifferent almost cold as she returned Gabrielle's gaze. Observant as always, Gabrielle studied Xena looking for clues to her behavior. Then in a sudden burst of understanding, Gabrielle realized that Xena was still caught up in the haze of her last battle. It was evident not only in Xena's bearing but in the way she fidgeted with her coiled whip. One wrong move from anyone, and Xena would have them for supper. Gabrielle could only guess what Xena's mood might bode for her later. She just hoped she was up to it. Her body replied by choosing that second to tell her it was ready for Xena's home coming. Gabrielle blushed in surprise, as the heat of desire radiated through her. Her fearful heart dared to ask. 'Dear Gods, what will Xena want from me?'

Drawing a deep breath, Gabrielle returned to her story, letting her voice ring with the passion she actually felt.

"Even the Gods joined this war begot in the name of love. The nearby sea shielded a devious heart, which seethed and foamed in a towering rage. Poseidon took issue with Ares influence. He launched his own assault against the defenseless, wounded earth. But not even Poseidon's tidal waves could quench the blazing flames savaging mountains, timber lands, and blooded plains where the heated battle raged."

"More was the agony endured when the Water God mated with the Fire Goddess. The earth heaved and swayed as if in the deep throes of mortal love. The very air ignited from the heat of violent passions unchained. A blinding light seared the heavens as the ground swayed below. Billowing clouds of blackened steam rolled across the Eastern skies, blotting the light from the newly born ninth moon-day. . . ."

Suddenly Gabrielle paused and flashed Xena a puzzled look. Her mind registered a warning that something was wrong with Xena. There were important clues she had overlooked in her excitement over Xena's arrival. It took only a split second for Gabrielle, to assess her mate's overall condition. There was a nasty gash over Xena's left eyebrow to her temple. The cut, though stitched, was deep. Xena's eyelid and the surrounding tissue were swollen. Gabrielle reached for her water again, to steady her nerves. She realized Xena was sporting an array of blows over most of her visible body. Her eyes traveled back to Xena's face. If that blade had struck any lower, Xena might have lost her eye. That wound plus the other dark discolorations and lacerations, proved Xena had been fighting. Gabrielle shook her head slowly, and Xena shrugged her shoulders, as if to say "What did you expect?"

Xena held Gabrielle's gaze, intentionally. Gabrielle, focused on Xena's hypnotic blue eyes, felt the hairs on her arms stand up, her heart threatened to leave her body, and she couldn't breathe. Xena had a way of looking at her that made her feel like the warrior was making love to her, without ever having laid a finger on her. Even now those beautiful sapphire eyes were devouring her inch by inch with barely concealed desire. Gabrielle blushed violently, while Xena smiled ever so sweetly at her. 'How does Xena do that to me?' Gabrielle wondered, closing her eyes with a slow shake of her head. All it ever took was one look from Xena and she was reduced to a quivering mass of flesh in seconds. But just as suddenly as it arrived, the passion disappeared from Xena's eyes and the fierce warlord expression returned to them. Xena turned her attention to the room, as if judging it for potential danger.

Gabrielle, realized suddenly how restless her listeners had grown. Oh no! Now she was in danger of losing her audience. That meant no dinars, and she had a room to pay for yet. Gabrielle frowned, she must focus on her work. Xena's problem would have to wait.

With one eye on Xena, Gabrielle shouted, "Out of the agony of fire! Out of craven desire! The Fire Goddess gave birth to a son! A shadow so cold that even death's fatal embrace could never betray him. Death accepted the child and loved him as her own. He became her shadow, a vampiric shroud of mist. He was ruthless and callow. His methods so damnably shallow that no one survived his thirst for life. He fed upon the dying, without regret. His blighted heart could never show the smallest shred of compassion for the lives he was taking."

Xena smirked at Gabrielle's obvious discomfort just before her words leapt from her mouth in a bid for control. It wasn't her fault, she told Gabrielle once that she could make her feel things with her eyes alone. It was good to see she hadn't lost her touch with the woman she loved.

'How much longer she would have to wait, before she could get Gabrielle out of here.' Xena wondered. She was antsy to be on the move again, needing to work off this relentless excess energy. Her muscles were tightening up from her forced immobility. What better excuse could there be for more mead? The intoxicant would take the edge off her forced inactivity. She signaled the barkeep. Xena noted that Gabrielle's flair for drama was growing as she embellished her story with graphic gestures.

"King Menelaus heard only the thunder of his rampaging heart. The Furies' lust chained him with uncontrollable madness. Helen was his. It was the only thing his jealous mind could comprehend. No one could sway his desire to murder the handsome Paris. He had to follow his illusions through to their deadly conclusion. Only Paris's blood could cool his sword of fury."

It came to pass that even King Agamemnon fell mortally wounded at his brother's feet. He lay deathly still. Unable to lift sword or body. Death's vampiric child seeped into the deep gash surrounding Menelaus sword to feed, even though he bid it not. Death wept, pleading with the king to let her son feast upon his dying heart. The brave king, who refused to surrender his soul, begged, 'Sweet, merciful lady, you must grant me more time.'

'It is sorry I am that I cannot grant your wish, Agamemnon. Hades has called your time and awaits you. Come, take my hand that we may depart this earthly madness.'

Agamemnon gazed up at his brother one last time, his tear-filled eyes pining. His life ebbing so quickly he could barely think. 'Would he take pity on a brother who is dying? No, he is turning away. But I, who am beyond all help, must accept the compassionate hand of sweet death. She waits so near my heart. Thus is my last battle done .'

But lo the king turns to look at the man who lies so pale at his feet. Menelaus's soulless eyes lock with Agamemnon's. The fallen King knows his time is done. He cannot help his brother to know this war was wrong. Menelaus would never listen to a dead man's words, not even when spoken by a loving brother."

Gabrielle paused purposely ignoring Xena's presence, as she sipped the water from her cup.

Xena turned to toward the barkeep and ordered another drink. While she waited, she thought about the way Gabrielle always romanticized stories of brutal battles. Xena always maintained that it was war, plain and simple. Bloody, senseless and cruel. There was nothing beautiful about it. Xena knew the truth of this legendary fray, because she had lived it, as had Gabrielle. Helen was finally happy, living the life she always wanted, but could never have.. But the way Gabrielle told the story, it took on almost heroic proportions that went far beyond the battle's actuality. Xena didn't think it was ever wise to romanticize war and killing. But crowds like this one lived through the experience vicariously, using the words woven by a good story teller. They would pay handsomely when this saga was done.

Gabrielle's voice was tinged with tearful emotion, as she continued her tale of senseless death.

"Agamemnon cringed when his rampaging brother turned swiftly to bring another man to his death. The Kings grey eyes dimmed in surrender to the vampiric mist that drained his warmth. Though his ears still heard the sounds of two men fighting. Their terrible rage like the roaring thunder of beasts when caged. Words of hate spewed in poisonous fumes destroying the very fabric of life in their conflict. 'Was a woman's love worth all this death?' He wondered just before his eyes locked into the empty dark eyes of the one who awaited him. Then when his last breath is drawn, he heard no more.

Ah! How sweet the victory. How Menelaus must have relished his conquest. A glorious triumph to be savored and remembered. He had won! Menelaus did not realize (no, he never did) that the war was over long before he slew his brother. He only knew that ego, passion, and a hunger for power ruled that day. When Menelaus turned to survey all he had won. He found his brother dead at his feet. Grief broke his heart and bowed his head at last.

How could he have known the cruel fate that waited when he drew his blade against the enemy? What sorcerery turned an unknown man into his brother? The Furies had already claimed his soul. 'What more do you want from me?' He roared in painful agony. There was nothing worse in life than to know he had lifted his sword and his hand against his brother whose life's blood now ran to the river.

Thus did Menelaus begin to know the hollowness of his dark victory. Where was the jubilant joy? Who was there to share it? Helen had deserted him. Betrayed him. His only friend, his brother, now lay dead at his feet."

Suddenly, Xena was alerted to a subtle change in Gabrielle's deportment. Her heightened senses caught the emotional pitch of Gabrielle's expression.

The bard was searching for just the right words to convey her feelings. It showed in the way Gabrielle moved thoughtfully across the platform. It was there again in the way Gabrielle's hand fluttered so softly to her breast. The single tear that fell down Gabrielle's cheek over Agamemnon's senseless death, was not missed by Xena. She knew Gabrielle wanted to bring her audience home with the true message of Troy.

Never was her lover more beautiful than she was at this moment. Gabrielle's light and wisdom always shone through. It was right there for everyone to see. The warrior's heart now joined with her bard in devoted attention, as Gabrielle moved into the most important part of her story.

Gabrielle spoke clearly, eloquently, and truthfully about the aftermath. The victory and the tragedy of so violent a war.

"Xena walked softly across the field of battle toward the sorrowing King. She glanced at the smoke blackened sky, shaking her head at the senseless waste wars like this cause. The fretful winds blew her raven tresses to and fro as she knelt to one knee beside the vanquished brother. In a singular fluid movement, she closed the staring eyes and pulled the great war sword from his mortally wounded heart.

Solemnly, Xena used the hem of the slain brothers' robes to clean every trace of blood from the blade. She rubbed and polished the heavy silver metal until it gleamed brightly in the noon day sun.

'Menelaus,' Xena said sternly, 'The true power of the Sword is born in faith with your beliefs. Your soul's jealous passion betrayed your brother's fate and dealt him a cruel cut. It doesn't matter how the sword was wielded. Whether by true strength or shameless weakness. The result would be the same. Know this, Menelaus. It is by your own sword that your spirit is humbled, my proud King. The lesson of the sword says the conquest has always been hers. The sword of valor exacts the price you pay now. If you are ever to know peace in this world, your arrogance must fall. Always remember the one who truly loved you.'

Xena was deeply moved by Gabrielle's words. She had made the return of Menelaus's sword into a sacred vow somehow. It was as if the sword had a destiny with the warrior who wielded her. Almost everything about Gabrielle now inflamed the Xena's desire, compelling her to take Gabrielle away. It was only Xena's strong will that prevented her from disgracing herself and Gabrielle in public. But Xena swore that when this story ended, Gabrielle would be hers alone, and she wasn't going to share her attention with anyone for long time.

A deep reverence had colored the bard's voice, when she spoke of the legacy, the sacred vow of the sword. That scene had been so anticlimactic to Menelaus's planned victory. Helen was missing, there were no cheering crowds, and his army was all but lost. All that was left was the truth of the sword. When Xena picked up the threads of the story once more, she thought she detected a hint of deepening sadness in Gabrielle's voice.

"The once beautiful city of Troy lay in bloody ruins around the battle weary King. Xena ignored the gore and stench as she moved to stand before Menelaus. Raising her arms, she offered the gleaming Battle Sword to the King. 'Accept from my hand, this Sword of power. This sacred emblem of your right to rule. Look well at what Greece has won this day, Menelaus, try to enjoy your victory.'

Menelaus took his sword from the warrior without a word. He watched Xena's retreating form as she headed for her horse. 'Xena! Did I not promise you a fee when this battle was done?'

The Warrior mounted her golden horse and looked back at the conquering King, standing in the midst of so much desolation. All that was left of his mighty army were their bodies mingled with those of the vanquished. Enemies joined at last by the hand of death.

'I am not interested in your money, Menelaus. I fought for the sake of Helen, not for you.' Xena spurred her horse into a slow trot and made her way gingerly across the field of dead.

King Menelaus thought about Helen, the beautiful whore for whom he had fought this bloody war. In his lust for power. In his desire for flesh. He had broken every vow between man and his gods. He even destroyed the precious covenant with mortal life when he slew his brother. Menelaus cried out in a deep-throated roar of fury as he grabbed his sword and whirled around. With all of his wild rage and great strength, he hurled the sword, as far away from his sight as he could.

'That won't help you now, Menelaus.'

Menelaus followed the sound to Xena's disappearing back as she crested the low-lying hill. His fists flew to his temples as he bellowed in agony. Then he fell to his knees on the blood stained ground. The wretched King held his brother's lifeless body close to his heart. From that moment forward, Menelaus's soul finally learned the true lesson of the battle sword. For it would test him till the end of time with the haunting loneliness his heart would endure.

My dear friends, I thank you for your patience. My song of Troy is done."


Gabrielle bowed from the waist and waited for her rapt audience to register the fact that her story was over. For a few seconds, the room was quiet. Then burst to life with the sounds of voices, clapping, and stomping. Gabrielle beamed with pleasure. The tavern's patrons crowded around her, patting her on the back and dropping dinars into her leather pouch. Gabrielle was smiling broadly when Xena came up to her and tapped her on the shoulder.

"Come on. Let's go."

"Xena wait. Aren't you even going to say hello? You've been gone for a long time. I've missed you, so much."

There was no answer as Xena parted the crowd of well wishers headed for the door.

"What about my things? We just can't walk out of here without them."

When Xena again failed to acknowledge Gabrielle. Gabrielle stopped in the middle of the tavern and watched Xena move away from her. Stunned was the only word for how she felt. Xena hadn't shown the slightest indication of having heard her. It was if she had just stopped by to pick up to her horse after a long sea voyage. Well Xena wasn't going to treat her like a piece of equipment she left behind. She had her pride after all. Xena could just leave for all she cared, because she wasn't going anywhere until Xena acknowledged her as a person. With that thought, Gabrielle plopped down behind an empty table wondering how long it would take before Xena noticed she was missing. Gabrielle was so hurt and angry. She didn't notice the two men who were approaching, until one of them spoke to her.

"Was that the famous Xena, you were following, little story teller?"

Gabrielle looked up at the leering faces. These men were drunk and out for a little sport. Gods, if she didn't have enough problems tonight. "Look, I am not in the mood for any crap from the two of you. So why don't you call it a night, boys, and go get some shut eye."

One of the men tried to pull Gabrielle out from behind the table. Gabrielle cursed the fact that she left her staff on the stage, before she landed a hard punch in the man's stomach. That action only served to make the bearded man mad. He backhanded Gabrielle hard across the face knocking her across the table and onto the floor. He never saw the flying fist that knocked him out. The other man only had to look at the menacing face of the warrior, and he took off running across the room as fast as he could move.

Xena let him go more concerned with Gabrielle then the scared little man. Blood trickled down one side of Gabrielle's mouth. She knelt on one knee to check out her mate, feeling along Gabrielle's face for signs of a broken jaw.

"Xena. . . . You came bac . . . ack . . . for . . ." Gabrielle whispered brokenly before she passed out.

"Yeah, Gabrielle, I came back. Not that you can hear me. Why couldn't you just follow me for once?" Satisfied that there was nothing broken, Xena picked Gabrielle up and thanked the barkeep for bringing her the missing staff.

Cradling Gabrielle gently to her, Xena headed toward the sleeping quarters to gather Gabrielle's belongings. Well, there was one good thing about all this, Gabrielle wasn't in any condition to argue with her about leaving. Xena looked at the soft contours of Gabrielle's face. Her heart lurched and she had to take a deep breath to steady her nerves. The closeness and the warmth of her heart's passion was nearly her undoing. She wanted desperately to bed her lover. Even out cold, Gabrielle could tempt her ravaged emotions with desire.

Xena laid Gabrielle gently on the pallet, smoothed back her hair, then kissed her soft cheek. With reluctant slowness Xena turned to the task at hand. She bundled up Gabrielle's things then headed out the door to pack them in the saddle bags.

When Xena returned to the room for Gabrielle, she found her mate just as she left her. Sprawled on her back across the bed, legs naturally parted, her feet resting haphazardly on the floor. Xena's eyes traveled up those travel sculptured legs to the dark apex that joined them. She could just make out the soft white cloth of Gabrielle's undergarments. It would be so easy to slip past that barrier and enter the welcoming warmth she knew she would find there. Instead, Xena knelt on the pallet over her mate without touching her. She took the time to just be with Gabrielle, studying her, knowing her, and simply loving her. Xena allowed her fingertips to trace the soft contours of her lover's full lips. It wasn't long before her mouth followed the path of her fingers. All she wanted was to taste Gabrielle's gentle sweetness. But she soon discovered that a taste was not enough, she wanted devour all of her, beginning with the firm breast beneath her hand. As her ardor grew, Xena backed off and lifted her unconscious mate in her arms. She wasn't going to allow herself the luxury of just taking Gabrielle for her own pleasure. Not with Gabrielle hurt, unknowing, and unresponsive. She needed to feel Gabrielle answering to her touch and her desire. There was no challenge in the conquest without the victims knowledge of it. Not that Gabrielle was ever a victim. It's just that she wanted an active participant in her arms when she had her way with her.

The feeling of Gabrielle's cheek resting warmly against the rise of her breast, was arousing enough. But, when she felt the tantalizing heat of Gabrielle's delicate breath passing over her skin. It nearly broke her resolve not to ravage Gabrielle right this very second. Xena struggled with her feelings knowing they had to leave, before she lost what control she had. What she needed now was time, distance and the rhythm of Argos hooves to temper the fire in her body. Even then she didn't know how long she could protect Gabrielle from the depth of her sexual desire. But after the long lonely hours she just spent away from her, she couldn't bear to leave her behind again. Looking down at her mate, whom she loved so very much, Xena realized they would have to deal with this part of her sooner or later. She couldn't hide it from her, any longer.

Xena wasted no time in heading to where she had tethered Argo. She lifted Gabrielle into the saddle and vaulted quickly behind her. Xena arranged Gabrielle so she sat side-saddle on Argo. Her head now rested low against her shoulder next to her right breast, just where Xena wanted her. Holding her love tightly, Xena reached down into one of the saddle bags. She pulled out a cape and bundled Gabrielle tightly in it. She checked her mate's pulse to be sure everything was ok . Gabrielle's pulse and color were good, although she still looked rather pale in the moonlight, Xena could detect pink shading in Gabrielle's cheeks. Assured that they could safely travel. She held Gabrielle securely against her then urged Argo into a wild moon lit run. After few dozen miles melted under Argo's hooves, Xena began to relax and slowed her mare into a rolling canter. Gabrielle was moaning softly. Xena knew it was only a matter of time before her lover regained consciousness. Poor Gabrielle was going to have a headache, both from her sore jaw and the wild ride. Xena took pity on her mate and herself as she began to search for a safe camping spot.

Following the sound of gurgling water. Xena veered off the well-used trail and moved deeper into the woods. Mountain water was always cold. A little dip after she got Gabrielle settled might help her battle the wild ever present lust for her mate.

Gabrielle was becoming more active, rubbing her forehead, cheeks and mouth against Xena's chest, with increasing intensity. Although she knew Gabrielle was fighting for consciousness, the way the woman moved against her was driving her crazy with desire.

When they broke the cover of the trees, Xena found they were in a small meadow clearing near the creek. This would have to do. Argo had barely come to a halt, when Xena jumped off, catching Gabrielle as she fell from the saddle. Gabrielle was not quite with the land of the living yet. Every so often her eyes would try to focus. But Gabrielle still fought for every moment she gained. Xena eased Gabrielle to the ground near Argo, instructing her horse to protect. Argo would watch over Gabrielle until she returned. When the camp site was ready, Xena returned for Gabrielle settling her gently against the warmth of their furs.

Gabrielle focused groggily on the form moving near her and said softly, "Xena?"

"Yeah. How do you feel?"

"Like someone ran over me with an ox and cart." Gabrielle replied, trying to sit up.

"Oh, no, you don't. Don't even think about it." Xena said, pushing Gabrielle back against the furs. "It'll only make your headache worse."

"How did you know I have a headache?"

"After the blow you took, then hitting your head on the floor and all. I'd wager a guess and say that chalks up to one hum dinger of headache. Would you care to argue the point, Gabrielle?"

No. You're right of course. Plus I ache all over ."

Xena stroked Gabrielle's arm then she squeezed Gabrielle's hip as she whispered. "Well you did break the table you flew into. I imagine you'll carry some bruises around for awhile. Especially on this tantalizing piece of flesh right here." Gabrielle winced from the gentle pressure of Xena's hand. Xena bit her lip to keep from smiling, Gabrielle's little groan, had sounded close to a whimper of pleasure.

"Please be gentle, Xena, I am pretty tender there. Do you think it will be a bad bruise?"

"Do you want me to check it out for you?" Xena knew if she looked at Gabrielle's hip, it might be her downfall. Gabrielle had no idea just how tender she thought everything looked where Gabrielle was concerned. Her hands were itching to touch some of that sweet tender flesh.

Gabrielle didn't respond, her eyes were closed. Not pushing the issue Xena turned away to make a medicinal tea that would ease Gabrielle's aching body.

Her mate whimpered as she moved away, "But, Xena, won't you . . . I need you to hold me."

"In a moment, baby. I am making you something to help you feel better. Listen while this tea is brewing, how about I give you a hand undressing? I think you'll feel more comfortable. Besides it will give me a chance to check you over Ok?" Xena steeled herself for the ordeal. Then taking a deep breath she started with Gabrielle's boots and kept going. In a matter of seconds she had Gabrielle totally defrocked. Her hands lingered against Gabrielle's warm skin that she wanted so desperately to fall against. She neither acted on her desire nor moved away.


Gabrielle wondered for the hundredth time that night, what was really going on inside Xena's mind. She had thought she knew, but Xena wasn't acting normally around her. After all, Xena had her just the way she liked her to be. Naked and vulnerable. And still she hadn't even kissed her. Xena's eyes weren't even focused on her, but looked faraway.

"Where are you my love?"

Xena's blue eyes grew darker and her hand gripped Gabrielle's upper arm painfully.

Gabrielle knew she had to get Xena's attention quickly.

"Xeena! You're hurting me! Let go . . . Now!" With her free hand Gabrielle slapped Xena's arm. There was no reaction. Gabrielle struggled to free herself, finally yelling in exasperation. "I said, let go of me!"

Suddenly Xena's grip loosened and Gabrielle rubbed her throbbing arm.

"Gabrielle, I'm so sorry. I don't know . . . I don't know why I did that. Are you, all right?"

Gabrielle glared at her warrior, in mock anger as she relaxed against black furs. "Come closer Xena and I'll tell you."

Xena leaned in closer as she spoke. "What is it, Gabrielle? What hurts?"

"My mouth hurts, Xena. It misses the fire of your lips touching them. We both are in need of your kiss." Gabrielle slipped her hands into Xena's ebony locks and she pulled her warrior closer to her face. Her eyes searched, the depths of the sapphire ones before her, looking for signs of refusal. Instead, she found amusement crinkled around the corners of her lover's eyes and twinkled from within them. Gabrielle flashed Xena a sultry smile as an invitation.

"Oh, is that all. I think I can handle this Gabrielle. What about you? Are you up for one of my kisses?

"I think you better shut up and kiss me right now or I'm going to hurt you."

Xena raised an eyebrow at that last remark. She brought her lips just above Gabrielle's and whispered. "I'd like to see you try."

With a quick yank on Xena's hair, Gabrielle claimed her kiss. Her eyes closed when she felt Xena's answering warmth take over, deepening, probing, taking. Gabrielle surrendered her mouth without a fight. All too soon it was over, and Xena pulled away.

"I think our tea is ready. I'll be right back."

Xena chuckled at her mate's frowning face, as she threw the fur robe over her. Gabrielle was so darn cute when she gave that disapproving pout of hers. Xena bit her lip to keep from kissing her again. It wouldn't do to give into all of Gabrielle's wishes. What kind of precedent would that set?

The tea was dark from having steeped too long. She'd have to add more water to lighten the brew as well as cool it. Inwardly, Xena was glad for the diversion, another kiss like that last one and she'd lose it with Gabrielle. She wasn't ready to give into her warrior side, just yet. Gabrielle needed to sleep and the medicines in the hot tea would ease the pain in Gabrielle's jaw. Tomorrow things would be better, she could wait till then. All she had to do was put Gabrielle to sleep as well as herself. It was the only solution she could think of to protect them both.


Gabrielle's query held such a note of wistfulness that Xena looked over at Gabrielle to see if she was in pain. And was greeted instead by the sheer loveliness of her mate. Gabrielle lay on her side with her head propped up against her hand, while the other rested against the ebony fur in front of her. The heavy fur robe had dropped to a tantalizingly low position on Gabrielle's chest, leaving a creamy white expanse of flesh from her face to her upper chest exposed. The moonlight only enhanced the effect of Gabrielle's beauty. Xena lowered her eyes and turned back to pouring the tea into a bronze cup for Gabrielle. She couldn't think what she was thinking. There was no way in Tartarus that she was going to let her feelings take over now. No way! Damn, why did Gabrielle have to make everything so difficult.

"Xena? Are you avoiding me?"

"Just a second, Gabrielle. I'll be right there." Xena added a honey comb strip that she found on her journey to Argos, to the cup. It was an offering she knew Gabrielle would not refuse. The honey was a rare find and she was using it to her advantage, to sweeten both the tea and her inquisitive mate.

Xena helped Gabrielle to sit-up. "Here you go, Gabrielle, drink this while it's hot.

Gabrielle's eyes grew wide when she spotted the honey comb. "Xena where did . . . ? (slurp) . . . yummm . . . this is sooo good! Thank you." Both the tea and the honey disappeared instantly.

"You know, you really ought to slow down. At the very least breathe once or twice while you are eating. I don't think you even tasted it." Xena chided lightly.

"Oh, but I did taste it. In fact, I still taste it. Hmm, it's so thick and sweet." Gabrielle's eyes closed, her tongue peeked out to swirl slowly across her lips. "See, it still clings to my lips and in my mouth and on my fingers and . . ."

Gabrielle's last words were lost. Xena's mouth captured them, while her tongue reached in for the lingering sweetness held by Gabrielle's lips, her mouth, and even on her chin.

When Xena licked and sucked on her chin, Gabrielle started to giggle. It was such an odd feeling. One she had never experienced before now. She decided she liked having her chin kissed like that. She also enjoyed Xena's enthusiasm while she was doing it. It came as no surprise when Gabrielle felt a real surge of pleasure, shoot downward to nestle between her legs. She opened her eyes as Xena slowly licked, then sucked on each and every one of her fingers.

Xena looked deeply into those fire lit eyes, she adored. "You know this is your fault, don't you? When you spoke, your voice was so seductive and that tongue of yours is so sensuous. All I could see was your mouth moving and your tongue teasing me. I had to taste your soft lips. You were so sweet with the taste of honey, I couldn't stop with just a quick kiss. Did you know the honey dribbled down your chin and I bet . . ." Xena leaned over and ran her tongue along Gabrielle's throat. "Yeah, it dribbled there too. I think I got it all now."

"Xena. Do you have more of the honey? I think I can find other places to use it, so you can really enjoy yourself. Would you like me to show you?"

Gabrielle's voice had a sultry sleepy quality to it. Xena realized the herbal medicines in the tea were starting to take effect.

"Another time, my love. I promise I'll take you up on your offer. But, right now, you need to sleep."

"But Xeena! I wan- "

"Don't you argue with me young lady. When I said sleep, I meant it." While she spoke, she pushed Gabrielle down into the furs. Then she quickly undressed, slipped on a chambray tunic-- in case she had to fight-- and added another log to the fire. Xena poured the last of the tea into a cup and went over to her side of the sleeping robes. She sat next to Gabrielle and sipped her tea. Gabrielle was drifting in and out of sleep.

A small hand reached out to gently touch Xena's cheek. "Does your eye hurt Xena?"

"It's not too bad, the tea will help. Hey! Didn't I tell you to go to sleep? Stop resisting the medicines I gave you or I'll have to knock you out." Xena grinned affectionately, dropping her hand to massage Gabrielle's temple. She continued to sip her tea, while listening to the sound of Gabrielle's breathing deepening. At long last her energetic mate was sleeping. Xena continued the massage until the last of her tea was gone. Then she scooted down under their furs to lay full length next to Gabrielle. Gathering her in close, Xena ran her hand along the contours of her lover's body. Finally her hand came to rest on Gabrielle's breast. She snuggled in closer to Gabrielle, needing to feel her warmth against her body.

Suddenly, Xena felt very tired and allowed herself to succumb to the relaxing effects of the tea. Her last thoughts were of safety. With Argo loosely tethered nearby, she knew the mare would alert her to any danger in these woods. The tea wasn't strong enough to knock her out. So they would be ok no matter what happened tonight. Xena patted the sword that lay tucked under the fur, hilt right under her hand. Yawning she pulled the furs up over her shoulder and fell into a deep sleep.


The early dawn found Xena wide awake. But instead of jumping up to start the day, she took delight in finding herself wrapped around her beautiful young lover. Moving swiftly, Xena slipped out of her tunic and snuggled closer to Gabrielle's back burying her face in the sweet smell of her hair. Her arms tightened around Gabrielle's small waist. It was so nice to hold her like this. Xena was oddly satisfied knowing only she could touch Gabrielle this way. No one else would ever know Gabrielle's secrets, her passion, her body. She let her fingers wander through Gabrielle's soft amber gold tresses, then pushed them aside to kiss the nape of her neck.

Gabrielle moaned softly in her sleep, stirring slightly.

Xena smiled, loving her responsiveness.

Suddenly Xena shifted her gaze into the gloom of early dawn. Her smile faded. Dark fantasies rose. She closed her eyes savoring the memories of past sexual conquests. The powerful imagery aroused her. Her hand drifted lower, her fingertips brushed the golden curls between Gabrielle's thighs. For a split second she seriously considered acting on one her thoughts. Then she sighed heavily denying herself the pleasure.

Even with that decision, Xena's mind returned with tenacious persistence to her brooding. Why had she stopped just now? Gabrielle would have probably enjoyed waking up to a loving caress. Loving, hah! The way she felt now, Gabrielle would have wakened to a warrior's demand instead of a lover's sweet kiss.

Xena recognized the fact that she was still dealing with heightened desires, a natural consequence from her recent battle engagement. Usually by now she would have taken care of the problem. But things hadn't quite worked as she had planned. Now Gabrielle natural spontaneity was acting as lure to those darker passions lurking within her. She couldn't help responding to the loving temptress. Having Gabrielle so near and not being able to release her pent-up feelings, was tearing her to pieces. Xena wished she was anywhere but here with Gabrielle. No matter how hard she'd try not to, she would eventually succumb to her dark side and take Gabrielle.

'Come on Xena, there are always alternatives to any problem. Slow down and think, woman. What would Gabrielle want from you.' Xena asked herself, rolling over on her back with her arm slung over her eyes. Gabrielle would want her to be honest and true to herself, of course. But the question was how. Perhaps the key lay in the fact that she knew Gabrielle wanted to experience the warrior side of her nature. There wasn't a day that passed where Gabrielle didn't try something, anything to bring the warrior to the surface in their love making. And although they had many nights of high passion, she had always managed to restrain her alter ego from making a full appearance.

It was a dangerous game they played. And, she knew the other half of her soul. It was a real element of her personality not some role playing act with safety nets. As a warrior she would test Gabrielle, control her, own her, in a way Gabrielle could never imagine. Her warrior's nature would demand complete submission to her will and push Gabrielle to the limits of her sanity. Once she engaged the lust that threatened to overwhelm her now. There would be no way out for either of them. Gabrielle would have her wish. She would know her warrior but what would that knowledge cost them in the end?

Xena rolled over and buried her face in Gabrielle's fragrant hair. Then she slid her arm under Gabrielle's waist and with her other hand pushed against her shoulder. Gabrielle rolled naturally into her arms. All she wanted to do was look at her gentle sweet face and hold her close. She wanted to protect Gabrielle. From what she didn't know, maybe her own selfish needs.

The decision to take Gabrielle into her arms cost Xena emotionally. She hadn't expected the carnal surge that flooded her body from the merest brush of Gabrielle's breasts against her own. And all Gabrielle had done was adjust herself into a more comfortable position. This was not good. Xena felt herself trembling under the emotional restraint she placed on herself. She should get up and leave. Should but couldn't. She could not find the will to complete the action. The golden beauty of the woman in her arms was like a silken chain that held her in place.

"Oh my sweet Gabrielle, I do love you so." Xena's voice was muffled by Gabrielle's hair as she laid her head next to her lover's her hands stroking the silken locks.

"What am I going to do? I must have you but I don't want to hurt you."

Although Xena was stressed, Gabrielle was oblivious to the storm brewing so near to her. Xena knew this state of affairs was not going to hold sway much longer. She was losing the battle for control.

Whenever she had taken anyone, man or woman in battle lust there was no mercy in her, she took what she wanted until the burning fires had been quenched. But she had never been in love before. Maybe this time it would be different? Perhaps she owed it to Gabrielle to try. Xena closed her eyes, it was within her power to grant both their desires. She spoke again to her sleeping lover.

"Gabrielle, are you ready to deliver your whole self to me? You have to understand that not only will I enter your body, I will enter your mind, and your spirit in a ritual of belonging. You will be mine forever when I merge with your soul."

"Yours forever." Came the faintest of whispers.

Astonished, Xena leaned on her elbow to look at her mate. Somehow Gabrielle had responded as if she heard Xena's words in her dreams. It was an unexpected dividend to Xena's one-sided conversation with her mate. Xena's eyes eagerly swept Gabrielle's body, before they returned to linger on her lover's face. It became an erotic adventure just to watch the way Gabrielle's lips pursed over her slightly opened mouth, as she slept. Every now and again, a hint of a smile floated across those sensuous lips and those dark luxuriant eyelashes would flutter softly against the tender blush of her cheeks. She touched Gabrielle's face, cherishing the silken feel of her skin beneath her fingertips. Xena let her fingers roam the entire length of Gabrielle's neck down to her breasts, circling each nipple gently. Slowly, she leaned over to kiss those softly pouting lips. Her hair fell forward cloaking Gabrielle's innocent countenance in dark beauty.

Drawing back from Gabrielle, Xena looked at those peaceful features and fell in love with her all over again. But a darker undercurrent of emotion swirled to the surface. Xena's eyes flickered in surprise at her thoughts. But her mind understood that the line had been crossed. She was moments away from ravishing her mate. The feeling intensified filling her with desire. She wanted to take Gabrielle's sleeping innocence and lay siege to her soul. Where the woman in her felt compassion for her sleeping lover. The warrior did not. She would take what she wanted from Gabrielle without regret.

And it was her warrior's nature that she had to contend with at this turning point. Xena vainly sought an alternative to her dilemma. There was no doubt she wanted Gabrielle. Oh yes, she wanted her. Needed her. Deny herself? Not this time. The desire was too strong. Take her she must. Xena hugged Gabrielle close, still fighting with her darker passions. A single tear slipped down her cheek in love for Gabrielle. There were no other options for her, especially when her blood raged like this. Perhaps, if they didn't move, she could hold out a little longer.

The Fates took a hand in their affairs when Gabrielle stretched in a semi-resisting way to being held so tightly. But when Gabrielle instinctively pulled her upper body away from Xena in a sensuous stretch. It caused her lower body to arch invitingly against Xena's abdomen. Her legs wrapped themselves between and over Xena's thighs. Gabrielle's movements were so naturally passionate that Xena, caught off guard, barely restrained her lust. Groaning with restrained need, Xena closed her eyes savoring the feel of Gabrielle's body moving against her. Then without warning the blonde vixen's nails bit deeply into the flesh of her shoulders. The once gentle mouth crushed her lips so cruelly, Xena tasted her own blood.

Gabrielle's fiery kiss unchained the warrior's heart. It compelled a a full combatant's response from Xena. Gabrielle wasn't going to play possum with her and get away with it. She growled as she took possession of Gabrielle.

Xena's hands were relentless, rough, and demanding as they moved across her lover's body. She buried her face in Gabrielle's breasts, as her hand slipped possessively between willing thighs. Two fingers plunged deep inside her mate. Again Xena growled deep in her throat as she laid claim to Gabrielle again and again.

Gabrielle threw back her head in a full throated scream of pleasure as Xena overpowered her. Her cry unshackled Xena's lingering restraint. All that she was aware of was her desperate need to master this woman.

In the throes of her own passion, Gabrielle matched Xena's momentum, demanding even more from her. Xena rolled on top of her, needing to feel Gabrielle's feverish body as it moved beneath her. Gabrielle's eyes were the only thing missing now. They would connect her to her lover's soul. But those eyes were forbidden to her. They had not opened to reveal their brilliant green fire. Xena would not be denied this prize. Oh, no. Gabrielle was not strong enough to resist her. Soon she would begging for release, willing to do anything she asked. She knew Gabrielle was in passion with her. Her body begged to be conquered. A decadent smile played across her lips. Not only would she take what she needed from Gabrielle. But more importantly, she would see, hear, and feel Gabrielle bend completely to her will.

Even the feeling of Gabrielle writhing in submission beneath her, reminded her of the ultimate conquest in any battle she ever fought. Her triumph was in her ability to force submission from her enemies by the sheer power of her will alone. There was a special moment during any fight, torture, or sexual dominance, when recognition appeared in the vanquished eyes. In that one suspended moment, they knew who owned them. Then and only then did they surrendered their souls to her. Every one of them had given her their eyes as she released them to death or pleasure. She controlled every second of their exoneration. As a warlord, such moments had fed her lust for power. She had brought kings and nations to their knees in surrender to her and her army. She had thought she no longer needed such displays of unbridled power. But Gabrielle's fevered response to being taken by her had unleashed an old hunger for total dominance.

Xena looked down at Gabrielle's sweat-flushed body. She felt the woman's heated breath as it flowed heavily against her skin. Gabrielle's hands excited her as they clawed across her back, in a vain attempt to draw her closer. Every pore, every breath, every muscle of Gabrielle's body pleaded with her for more. Gods, just the sight of her like this inflamed Xena's senses. She would possess this glorious creature, capture her fire and make it her own.

Hungrily she bore down on Gabrielle's soft mouth forcing her lips to part, to accept her tongue, as it plunged deeply inside her. At the same time her long fingers continued their relentless assault within Gabrielle's volcanic core. Xena edged Gabrielle closer to ultimate release. Then without warning, she withdrew abruptly from her.

"No! Xeena, please! Don't do this!" Gabrielle cried out in anguish, her body shaking visibly from the forced departure.

Xena was on her knees, straddling her lover's hips. She gathered Gabrielle into her arms and crushed her against her breasts. Her hand twisted deeply in Gabrielle's hair pulling her head away from her. Xena's body trembled from the feel of Gabrielle's breasts as they heaved against her. Then in a strange contrasting move, Xena stroked a finger gently along Gabrielle's bruised jaw, down her throat, to the swell of her ample breasts. Her mouth followed the course of her fingers. Her mood changed instantly when she tasted Gabrielle's skin. Beguiling tenderness gave way to stinging, biting kisses that elicited deep whimpering groans from Gabrielle.

Gabrielle struggled against Xena's hold on her. Only her struggle for freedom, played right into Xena's need for control.

Xena brought Gabrielle in close to her, then leaned over her to nuzzle against her cheek. She said. "Oh, baby, when you fight me like this, it really turns me on."

With those words, Gabrielle tried even harder to escape Xena's smothering embrace. She used her hands to push against Xena's shoulders. Xena pulled Gabrielle's hair to remind her who was in control. Without her legs for leverage, Gabrielle could not pull away. They both knew this. But, Xena was delighted with the fact that Gabrielle continued to try.

"Yes! Fight me! I want to feel your power. It will make your conquest that much sweeter. Soon, Gabrielle, very soon you will know who owns you."

Gabrielle groaned and then stilled, finally giving up. Xena closed her eyes as she moved to her own inner dance of fire. She held Gabrielle at arms length away from her as she swayed over her hips. Then she arched back in a long deep stretch. Her dark tresses brushed softly against Gabrielle's thighs. Although she still held Gabrielle's head by her hair, she freed her other hand to let it roam randomly over her own body. She moved upward again as she heard her lover's increased whimpering. Her free hand now stroked Gabrielle's breasts lightly, as she looked at the closed eyes that still defied her will. She would not tolerate the subtle rebellion much longer. Things could get very painful for Gabrielle, if she continued to defy her in this fashion.

Then, without warning, Xena let go of Gabrielle. She fell against the fur with a gasp of surprise. Xena followed swiftly, dropping over her lover. Her hands and knees kept her from actual contact with Gabrielle's body.

"Please, Xena, I need you." Gabrielle reached out for her lover. "Why are you being so cold to me?"

Xena slapped Gabrielle's hands away with a dire warning. "Don't . . . don't ever touch me."

Then Xena watched as Gabrielle struggled with her uncertainty. Right now all Gabrielle knew was that she was very close to her, watching her. Xena had to smile when Gabrielle brought her hands up over her own breasts. She couldn't believe Gabrielle actually had the nerve to play with them. She excited her nipples into hardened nubs, right before her eyes. Xena wanted to see just how far Gabrielle was going to take this little game. She knew Gabrielle was trying to seduce her into resuming their lovemaking. How many others had tried this same tactic? It didn't work then and it wouldn't work now. But watching Gabrielle try was sheer pleasure for her. She liked how Gabrielle moved, the way her breath quickened, the way her nipples hardened into erect points. Xena licked her lips enjoying the show.

Gabrielle's hands now moved all over her body, with one hand seeking her own white hot center. When she slid her fingers between her legs, she splayed her knees. Opening herself to the warrior view. It didn't matter whether Xena wanted to see this or not. She needed release and she had found her own pathway to pleasure. A soft moan hung in the air when Gabrielle found herself drenched in her own juices. She grew bolder when she realized Xena was not going to interfere with her course of action. Now, with her passion firmly under her own control, Gabrielle began to vocalize loudly. Her body pitched and swayed in heightened pleasure. She could feel Xena's legs and arms as she spiraled higher, pure rapture just seconds away. Gabrielle knew the warrior was close to her watching every move she made. But as Gabrielle was about to surge over the edge into oblivion, Xena yanked her hand away. Gabrielle screamed in frustration, then raged against her tormentor.

"Oh no, Gabrielle. You don't understand. No one can do this. Only I will release you. No one. Got that? No one. Not even you can have that power, unless I give it to you."

Xena yanked Gabrielle's offending hand over her head and held it there as proof of her authority.

Gabrielle panted with aggravation. "Ok, Warrior Princess, Ok. I get it now. You just want to torture me." She fought to steady her voice and let her anger help her. Now that she was mad she forgot about Xena's hold on her arm when she tried to sit up.

Xena slammed her back against the ground. "Where do you think you're going?"

"What in Tartarus are you waiting for Xena? I am right here. Take me, you idiot. Do it. Do it now!" Gabrielle kicked, pushed and struggled against Xena's hold on her, using every part of her body in an attempt to break free. She pounded hard against Xena's shoulder with her free fist. But Xena took care of that problem in short order. Now both her arms were immobilized over her head.

Xena remained silent letting Gabrielle rage. The more Gabrielle struggled the more she liked it. The longer Gabrielle mouthed off, the longer she would delay taking her. It was as simple as that.

Suddenly Gabrielle calmed and her face took on the soft look of seductress courting her lover. "Come on, baby." She cooed. "Let's get this over with. You know want me. Just look at me can't you tell that I am burning for you. I bet you can even smell my lust, can't you? But it's all right you don't have to answer me. I understand, I really do. But Xena. my love, take my word for it. I am melting for you. Touch me and you'll see I do not lie. I know how much you like it when I am dripping with desire for you. Come on Warrior Princess take me in your arms and love me like you have never loved me before."

Xena didn't know when she had ever heard a more sweet an invitation. Her eyes took in every detail of the alluring flesh caught in her embrace. But as tempting as Gabrielle was at this moment, Xena remained aloof and in control. In her mind she chuckled over Gabrielle's provocative attempt to woo her with desire. It was a game she knew well and she did not give into her need to touch her anxious lover. Xena knew she would drive Gabrielle to limits of her endurance by holding back. When she finally released her lover's passion, Gabrielle would explode with pleasure and that was exactly where she wanted to take her.

Gabrielle changed tactics yet again. Her growing frustration with form of love play was driving her insane with unrequited need. "What's the matter, Xena? Don't you have the guts to rape me? And you call yourself a Warrior?" Gabrielle sneered with her continued taunting. "No real warrior I know would leave a female prisoner untouched for so long. Are you afraid of me? You are, aren't you? Yeah that's it. The great Warrior Princess afraid of her lover." Gabrielle was caught up with her caustic retribution, and with her eyes still closed, she didn't see the warning that flared in Xena's eyes.

Those comments were going to cost Gabrielle. Afraid was a word that did not exist in relation to her. Gabrielle shrieked with pain as Xena bent one her hands back sharply. It was a strong warning of who she was to one who seemed to have forgotten.

"That's just about enough, Gabrielle." Xena threatened ominously, her eyes delivering the promise of her words. "Another word out of you and I'll gag that pretty little mouth of yours and bind your hands."

Gabrielle frantically renewed her struggle, determined to break free this time. Xena spread Gabrielle's arms wide apart. Then she held Gabrielle's legs tightly with knees. In one easy maneuver, Xena severely restricted Gabrielle's movements, tiring her more quickly.

Gabrielle drew in a shaky breath, once again surrendering to Xena's control. When Gabrielle turned her head to one side, Xena knew she was fighting tears of futility.

Xena's breath was ragged, Gabrielle had put up a strong fight for quite awhile. But she couldn't give in to Gabrielle's anguished demands even though the woman was exciting her beyond belief with her fiery spirit. Not to mention the fact that Gabrielle still managed to deny Xena the pleasure of her eyes. They remained closed. Not once in all this time had Gabrielle even dared to look at her. Now Xena knew she would force the issue. That brought a grin to Xena's face and she licked her lips in anticipation. There was nothing more exciting than a challenge of wills.

Gabrielle. She told herself, Lay still. Her heart was racing and she had to concentrate on calming herself. Xena was in a bizarre mood today. She'd never felt anything like this from her before. She knew this wasn't over between them, not by a long shot. The problem was that Xena was pushing the limits of her tolerance. And hades, whatever possessed her to tell Xena what to do? She knew better than to command Xena to do anything. It was just that the warrior was driving her crazy with her torturous love play.

Now all she succeeded in doing was to make Xena more determined then ever to do it her way. She really hoped her heart could take it. Yet, in spite of this, Xena's rough lovemaking was powerfully exciting. It invoked her passion like nothing before it ever had. Although she could live without the hand torture quite nicely.

She smiled inwardly, well aware that Xena had liked her fighting against her power. It really seemed to engage her warrior side, which she loved to bring to the surface whenever she could. She even liked how Xena's voice both chilled and thrilled her at the same time. It was a dangerous game to be sure, but she never doubted for a moment that Xena would really harm her. After what she saw last night and today, she knew she was with the Warrior Princess for the first time.

Ever since she had first seen Xena in battle, she had imagined what lovemaking would be like with her warrior side. Xena exuded a fierce erotic passion when she fought. The way she moved, the way her thighs flexed, the speed and strength of her sword arm. She especially loved Xena's taunting smile just before she engaged an enemy. Everything about Xena during a confrontation was controlled, not a drop of energy was wasted. She'd often wondered what would happen if Xena ever lost control of her emotions, what then?

Gabrielle sensed raw passion all around her now. Xena wasn't holding anything back this time. The danger of more pain was real. It was a risk she was willing to take. She shivered in heightened anticipation. This moment had the feel of a warrior's conquest about it. She could tell by how Xena handled her, that this encounter was all for the warrior. There were even stronger signs that she might be dealing with the warlord element as well. She couldn't bear to look at Xena's face, for fear she would scream if she saw the warlord staring back at her. It was better if she kept herself in the fantasy and not the reality of the moment.

"Open your eyes for me, Gabrielle." Xena commanded softly, as she leaned in closer. Xena's lips hovered just above Gabrielle's but did not touch them. Then she moved upward and blew her breath over Gabrielle's eyelids, smiling when they twitched slightly in response.

"Can't. They don't want to open." Gabrielle whispered back breathlessly.

Gabrielle's voice sounded faraway and ethereal. Xena groaned when she heard her. Her gaze lingered over the flushed contours of Gabrielle's face and the thickly lashed eyelids that refused her. Incredible feelings of love washed over her even as she leaned down to brutally take her lips. Lips that responded and opened to take her inside. Xena let her fire pour into her kiss.

Gabrielle arced up in a full response to Xena. Her passion easily awakened. She soared into Xena's demand for her. Returning everything that was given with equal desire.

Xena pulled Gabrielle's arms together and stretched them higher over Gabrielle's head. The movement forced Gabrielle's breasts lift and elongate. Xena couldn't resist touching them. She ran her free hand across their beauty. Gabrielle's chest muscles flexed tightly, as Xena pinched and teased her nipples.

Gabrielle moaned with pleasure, she rolled her shoulders pushing her breast harder against Xena's inquisitive hand, begging for more.

Xena's own fire raged within her. She threw her head back and let out a short war cry. Then she dropped back over Gabrielle, her wild ebony hair spilling across Gabrielle's face. She leaned again and kissed those defiant eyelids. Xena moved her body very close over Gabrielle's without touching her. She breathed harshly next to Gabrielle's ear, before speaking.

"How bad do you want me, Gabrielle?"

Gabrielle's voice trembled with deep desire as she spoke. "Xena . . . , Ple-e-e-ase . . . , Take me. I want you so much."

"Do you Gabrielle? Well, I don't believe you. You are still resisting me. But we'll change that soon. You are mine. Do you understand? Mine. I will own you. There is nothing you can do about it. Absolutely nothing."

"But Xena! I am not resisting!"

"Enough!" Xena barked. "Don't talk! Don't cry! Show me!"

Xena stretched out over Gabrielle, her legs falling easily between her lover's thighs, as she ground her pelvis into Gabrielle's curly mound.

Gabrielle strained against Xena's hold on her arms. All she wanted was to throw them around Xena's neck and give herself over to the intense feelings Xena was generating in her now. It felt so good Gabrielle was whimpering with pleasure.

Xena smiled as she changed position wrapping one of her long legs over Gabrielle's right thigh. Then she moved in a slow sensuous glide against her. Xena's fingers reclaimed Gabrielle's drooling love canal. Xena was pleased at the copious heated wetness she found there. Gabrielle was showing her just how much she needed her. She entered her lovers hot depths pleasuring in the feel the tight wall of flesh around her fingers. As always, Xena loved to be buried deep inside Gabrielle.

Gabrielle responded to Xena's deepening penetration with a sharp gasp. Her hips rocked and she splayed her slightly raised knees to allow Xena even deeper access to her. Xena buried her head in Gabrielle's breasts, losing herself in them for a moment.

In a matter of seconds, Xena felt Gabrielle grinding against her hand. Gabrielle was fast approaching her peak. But Xena withdrew suddenly from Gabrielle's quivering body denying her yet again. This time Xena nearly broke Gabrielle's composure with frustration.

A single tear flowed under a closed eye lid, down the side of her cheek and into her hair just above the ear. Gabrielle held her trembling bottom lip inside her mouth with her teeth. She literally fought for control over her emotions before Xena taunted her for her weakness.

"Gabrielle." Xena said flatly. "Bring your thigh up under me." When her mate didn't move fast enough to suit her, Xena slapped Gabrielle's inner thigh hard enough to leave an imprint. "When I tell you to do something I mean now!"

Gabrielle complied quickly, then moaned softly when she felt Xena's wetness slick against her leg. Her moan of pleasure turned into sharp cries of pain, as Xena forced her arms higher bending her hands back at right angles. Her free hand tangled in Gabrielle's hair.

Xena issued a firm request to her lover. "Open your eyes." Gabrielle refused with a shake of her head. Xena yanked hard on Gabrielle's hair pulling her into a half sitting position. Her left arm easily caught Gabrielle around the waist. She pulled Gabrielle's head back until she was moaning with real pain. Xena was actually cradling Gabrielle's head while making her very uncomfortable at the same time.

"You really don't want to make me mad, Gabrielle. Defy me again and I will increase your torment ten-fold. If you wish to suffer by all means deny me, but I promise that in the end you will wish you had obeyed. Choose."

The commands issued by Xena were the strongest she had ever known. Never had Xena ordered her so harshly, nor delivered such painful punishment for disobedience. The Warrior turned Warlord demanded and expected immediate compliance. Gabrielle was now convinced Xena's threats were real. She felt fear for the first time. This wasn't a game, it was for real. Xena had slipped totally into her Warlord persona. If she dared to disobey again, Xena would break her will. That was not a pleasant thought.

Gabrielle's eyes snapped open, with a sharp intake of breath.

Xena gasped involuntarily, falling straight into blazing emerald fire. Gabrielle's eyes had sent a message of flame straight into Xena's soul. With a shake of her head, Xena broke their alluring spell. By Zeus, Gabrielle was not in control here, she was. She would show her who held the reins power between them. She let go Gabrielle and once again secured her arms over the woman's head.

Then Xena gave a hard twist to Gabrielle's arms making her squirm with discomfort. With a wicked grin, Xena thrust three fingers into Gabrielle. Taking her, using her, claiming her. She added pressure to the hold she had on Gabrielle's arms. Each and every time she felt Gabrielle begin to peak in pleasure, she would torment her erect nipples by nipping them hard. Gabrielle had to switch her concentration to absorb the painful torture. Thus she delayed her own orgasm.

Xena could feel Gabrielle's wetness increase around her fingers as she accepted the pain and relaxed into it. She now knew Gabrielle could enjoy a tolerable amount of pain. That knowledge actually heightened the level of her excitement. Gabrielle pleased Xena in a way only a true mate to her soul could.

Her thumb teased Gabrielle's engorged nub sending her into throes of blinding pleasure. Xena could tell that Gabrielle had entered the place beyond human senses. She had moved into carnal lust. Gabrielle writhed continuously beneath her now. The threshold to release was imminent.

But no, she couldn't let it happen yet. Xena let go of Gabrielle's breast and eased her movements to a maddingly slow pace. Gabrielle's eyes searched Xena's in tearful confusion. Their eyes locked in a silent battle for control. Then Xena felt Gabrielle melt into slow surrender to her. Finally, she had the control she sought. She slipped her hand under Gabrielle's head bringing her face close to hers.

"Stay focused on me, Gabrielle. Hold my eyes. Don't you even dare think about closing them. No matter how much you may want to. Understand?"

Gabrielle could only nod. Her body quivered in unresolved tension beneath Xena. Another shiver of fear had coursed through her at Xena's words. Xena had spoken with a deadly softness that shook Gabrielle's inner balance. She wanted to close her eyes against the onslaught of new feelings she was experiencing. She wanted to moan with the unexpected pleasure the implied threat of pain created in her. As far as she was concerned Xena could kill her and she'd die happy, at last having found release. But Xena had the power to prevent even that consolation. Her voice also held the promise of swift retribution if she dared defy her command and closed her eyes. So she couldn't die and she couldn't release. Gabrielle knew in that instant how much control Xena really had over her. She should be angry at her, but secretly she wanted to submit to her. It blew her away for some reason she couldn't really define. Perhaps it was because this was Xena, because they loved each other, because she wanted to belong to her in every way. She allowed Xena to light the fires of submission within her. Then she obeyed and locked into Xena's eyes, her voice, her touch.

Xena increased the tension on Gabrielle's arms, at the same time she pushed back harder and faster against Gabrielle's leg, while her fingers again danced deeply inside her lover.

Gabrielle wanted to close her eyes and just feel all the sensations. But Xena held her captive within deep blue steel of her eyes. She could see Xena's passion burning into her, as well as feel it. This was so hard to do. Tears fell as she struggled for release, as well as relief from Xena's eyes.

"Baby, don't fight it so hard. Don't think about it. Just give yourself over to me. Let me have you. Let go." Xena said lovingly as she released Gabrielle's arms. With great tenderness, she gave Gabrielle a gentle kiss and soothed her face with her free hand. She let Gabrielle see her love for her shining through her eyes.

The final surrender came the moment Gabrielle saw the love in Xena's eyes. Xena accepted her submission and brushed her hand lightly over Gabrielle's eyelids, closing them, releasing her from her torment.

"I love you, my sweet one, my Gabrielle. Let me hear you. Give your voice wings of fire. Let me feel your hot passion explode around me." Xena whispered, nuzzling Gabrielle's throat with her lips.

Gabrielle's response came swiftly, her body stiffened, arching deeply she lifted both of them off the ground. Her body exploded and she rode on waves of intense pleasure. For a brief second she looked once more into Xena's eyes and surrendered her soul to her lover without hesitation. Then a stronger wave of pure rapture sealed Gabrielle's fate. A deep sound rumbled in her chest. She couldn't contain the sound. Her voice broke the natural stillness as she burst into a full heart rendering scream as she peaked.

Xena clamped her mouth over Gabrielle's capturing her passion's voice. She kissed her fiercely, her whole body bearing down on Gabrielle to hold her in place as she released beneath her. Their bodies locked in a violent embrace. Xena drove herself against Gabrielle, needing to feel her dominance even as she unleashed her own surrender. She pushed her fingers deep inside Gabrielle, ensnaring her fire merging it with her own. Within moments both lay hopelessly spent, totally vanquished upon the battlefield of passionate love.

"Xena?" Gabrielle queried softly, after a few moments of rest. She was still breathless and it showed in her voice. "I never knew making love could be like that. All fire and desire." She looked down at her nipples. They were a slightly redder hue, but otherwise there was little evidence of their prior torment. "I think my breasts are going to remember this day for awhile." Gabrielle grinned. She liked their soreness. It reminded her of just how passionate Xena could be. "How are you feeling?" She turned on her side to study Xena. Xena lay on her back, her eyes closed, her cheeks flushed, her breathing rapid. Fascinated Gabrielle watched as Xena breath steadied quickly to almost normal.

There wasn't any energy left in Xena. She couldn't have answered Gabrielle even if she wanted to. All she wanted was to bask in the afterglow of passion and never move. Gabrielle surprised her every time they made love. Never would she have suspected the volcano lived inside this small woman. Yet she had proven to her time and again that she could meet and receive all she had to give and more. She was beginning to believe Gabrielle could handle all of her. Now all she needed was the strength of her own courage. She took a deep breath and released it slowly.

"Xena? Are you all right?" No response. "Xena, answer me?" Gabrielle was frantic with worry. She rubbed Xena's arms one minute and stroked her face the next.

It was more the Xena could bear. She grabbed Gabrielle's hands to stop the gentle torture. "I am fine, Gabrielle." She said sitting up. Xena put her hand behind Gabrielle's neck pulling her in for a deep kiss. Then she released her slowly to whisper against her mouth. "You are so passionately spontaneous, Gabrielle. I've never known anyone like you." She nipped Gabrielle's lips playfully. "Did you like the warrior's love, Gabrielle?"

Gabrielle looked at Xena, her gaze drifted with her feelings. Did she like it? Oh. . . yes. . . she liked it.

Xena watched Gabrielle carefully to gauge her reaction to her question. Although, Gabrielle was not answering her verbally just yet, she was answering with her body. Gabrielle rolled her eyes before closing them, her head fell back against Xena's hand as she mouthed a barely discernible "Yes."

Xena cradled Gabrielle in her arms. Then she laid her back down against the soft furs. With a flick of her head, Xena's hair fell over her right shoulder. A very pleased smile lit up her face, as her gaze traveled the entire length of Gabrielle's body and back again. Every sense she had said that Gabrielle was forever hers.

"The warrior will always be there for you, my love. But loving a warrior like me will not be easy. My needs are not those of a gentle lover. I can be very demanding." Gabrielle's eyes grew wide at Xena's statement. Xena sighed as she ruffled Gabrielle's bangs. All she could do now was to continue to be honest. If Gabrielle was frightened and refused her. Then they would never venture here again.

"Are you sure you are up to hearing this? Are you strong enough to take all I can give you and all I will ask of you?" Xena asked, in a voice that promised more than she was revealing.

Gabrielle could not respond. She didn't know how to answer Xena's questions. Yet a primal shiver ran through her in anticipation of the unsaid promise. Even as she wondered what Xena was talking about. She knew instinctively what her needs might be. But what could she possibly ask that she wasn't already giving?

Xena shook Gabrielle's shoulders to get her attention. "Gabrielle are you still with me?"

It was the note of command in Xena's voice, that reached Gabrielle. She opened her eyes and smiled at her lover. "Yes, Xena."

"That's better. " Xena lifted a strand of Gabrielle's hair, she let it slide through her fingers then smoothed it over Gabrielle's shoulder. "Now that I have opened myself to you this way, I don't know if I can go back to gentle encounters with you." Xena flashed Gabrielle a bemused grin. "At least not all the time. Would it bother you if I let myself be who I really am?"

Gabrielle, laid her head in Xena's lap, her body was curled in a loose fetal position. She ran her hand along Xena's thigh as she thought over the implications of Xena's question. Then she turned over on her stomach resting her head on her forearms Shifting once again, she held her head and chest up and looked at the cloudy sky. There would be rain later. Later, she wished she could answer this question later. But in her heart she knew the answer. It was only admitting to herself that she need the warrior and the woman waiting so patiently for her reply. Gabrielle leaned down to lightly to kiss the top of Xena's thighs, before looking once more into her warrior's eyes.

"I think I can handle your desires Xena. Besides, I love all of you with all my heart. Anything you need is okay with me. You know that."

Xena smiled affectionately at her mate. After all they had done today, Gabrielle was still willing to go the distance with her. It was amazing.

"Do you realize Gabrielle that you just gained a warlord as a mate. My methods are bit stronger than where we have been with our lovemaking before. I need you to understand that."

Gabrielle sat up and looked Xena straight in the eye. Her gaze never faltered. "I knew that had happened, when you struck me today. I'm not saying, no, Xena. I told you I wanted the real you. I always have. I am willingly accept the danger that is you, as well. You are everything I have ever wanted. I have some questions, though. Will you need me to address you with a certain term of respect? What can I expect from you? Must you always rule our lovemaking?"

Xena was not surprised by Gabrielle's questions. "No to the first Question. I am just being me, remember? There are no rules to follow. I'll answer your last question next. I don't always need to rule between us. Most of the time we will just do what comes naturally." Xena smiled then leaned in for a kiss. Which, of course, Gabrielle returned gladly.

"And the last question, Xena. "What can I expect from you?"

"I don't know Gabrielle, I just need to be spontaneous with this. I don't know when I am going to need you that way. We'll just have to see how things go. All right?"

Gabrielle nodded saying. " Spontaneous is good. I like surprises. Excuse me a minute, will ya?" Xena nodded, stretching out against the furs. It felt good to relax like this.

Gabrielle returned quickly and was now standing beside Xena. Xena looked up at her squinting one eyed, due the bright sun overhead. What is it Gabrielle more questions?

"Yes, my love."


Gabrielle held out the rest of the honey comb. Is this kind of play this still an option for you? "Would you honor your promise about the honey?"

"Of course it is Gabrielle. I like to play with you." Xena wiggled her eyebrows suggestively, giving a double meaning to her words. Gabrielle giggled in response. Xena continued, "Besides I know you, why would I ever want to change anything about you? I love you just the way you are. Creative, adventuresome, daring and loving. You are perfect." Xena pulled gently on Gabrielle's hand. "Come, sit next to me."

Gabrielle fell to her knees before Xena.

Xena pulled her young lover into her arms across her lap. "Didn't I tell you that you may always have your way with me, wife?" It's just that things might have to change direction now and then. That's all."

"Oh Xena, it's just that I want you so much sometimes, it hurts. I needed to be sure I could touch you and hold you once in awhile." Gabrielle head shot up off Xena's shoulder. When a sudden realization hit her like a thunderbolt out of the blue.

"Xena! Do you realize you just called me your wife, for the very first time since we joined?"

Xena nodded smiling broadly. "Well that's who you are, you know? My wife."

Gabrielle threw herself against her warrior and hugged her tight. "I love you, Xena. I will always love you. Now will you please let me love you?" Xena nodded with a very pleased look on her face. "Xena. I going to smear this honey all over your lips, you chin, your breasts. You know everywhere. Then I am going lick and kiss my way down to each nipple and then I am going to take the honey and drip it . . ."

"Gabrielle, for the love of Zeus." Xena interrupted the bard's tidal wave of words. "Will you please get on with it? Why don't you do what your saying and leave the talking out of it for a change?"

Xena's grumpy outburst was greeted by a sweet tolerant smile. Followed by a hefty shove from a diminutive hand that sent her falling into the furs behind her. Gabrielle lay on top of her lover.

"As you wish princess."

The kiss that followed was all Gabrielle in every detail. Xena allowed Gabrielle to pleasure her with a honeyed tongue everywhere. Then at a very pivotal point for Xena, Gabrielle whispered, "Tell me, mighty Warrior Princess, just how badly do you need me, huh?"


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