by MYTILENE, Poet Unknown

Moonlight bathed her pale face as she rode her golden horse ever so stealthily down the much-trodden path that led to the sleepy fishermans village by the sea. From a distance, the walls seemed to

glisten, being made of smashed seashells and pieces of coral.A pleasant orange light streamed out of the windows, and as they approached this welcoming sight, she could hear the sounds of lively music. The mare pricked up its ears to the familiar noises and its nostrils flared at the familiar scents. Her hooves doubled their rhythm and soon, both rider and animal, were hurrying down the winding path that would take them home.

Antiqua. The place she called home, after many years of wandering aimlessly from one strange town to another, she finally chose this little village as her haven. The horse neighed contentedly as they approached a small barn by the tavern where the music was coming from. The rider jumped off the horse before it came to a halt. She always did this when she was in a hurry and tonight was one of those occasions . "

"Good girl, Argo," she crooned , as she patted the animal lovingly on its rump. Argo snorted, and headed obediently towards her warm stall, knowing she would soon be attended to . After removing her dampened woolen cloke, the woman sprinted out of the barn, feeling her heart racing in her chest as thoughts of a special little someone took control of her brain. She had dreamed of this moment during the whole duration of her long journey! How she hated travelling now, when she used to relish the excitement of newadventures and the mysteries of unknown destinies. Now, all she wanted was to feel familiar turf under her tired feet, and see that beautiful smiling face that filled her every dream with joy. The smells coming from the tavern stopped her in her tracks, suddenly making her forget the penetrating cold. Delicious aromas invaded her keen sense of smell. Roasted suckling pig, braised chicken livers, fresh bread and last, but definately not least, sweet port wine. She savoured all these mouthwatering things in her mind. The trip to Corinth had been longer than she had planned, and her stomach had grown tired of wild mushrooms and charred eel. One thing her years of wandering had not taught her was how to cook. She longed to savour good home cooked meals , and wash it all down with the finest Iberian port. Swallowing hard, she licked her lips in anticipation. Then , her fine hearing picked up a sound. It was a soft laughter; like spring rain on a wheat field. She smiled and a tear escaped her eye. Yes, that was assuredly the most wonderful sound in the world. The joyful music of her lover's voice! She could pick it out above the melodious notes coming from the lyres and the flutes, and the many voices of all the customers. It was the only music she ever wanted to hear. Nervously, she wiped her strong hands on her leather skirt. It was a habit she could not break, and one that always made Gabrielle smile.After smoothing down her raven hair, she expertly removed the harness that held her sword and hung it, along with her shiny chakram, on a peg near the door. She wouldn't be needing them here. Of that she was sure. This was her home, and only good things happened here. But it was good to know that her faithful weapons would be waiting for her, there, on that worn out wooden peg, by the door.

Her large figure crossed the threshhold. She couldn't enter any room and go unnoticed, unless she wanted to. The music stopped suddenly, and the voices came to a painful hush. A small blonde head turned swiftly towards the doorway. The little muscular woman, to whom the head belonged to, let out a big yell and rushed towards the tall figure standing awkwardly in the tavern entrance, literally jumping into her open arms.

"XENA! XENA!", she repeated, half laughing, half crying,

"I thought you were never going to come back."

The woman known as Xena laughed heartily.

" You silly bunny. You know that could never be. Not even Hades could keep me from coming back to you, my Gabrielle."

They remained in a passionate embrace, mindless of the smiling patrons in the bar. After all, they were used to seeing Xena and Gabrielle express their love, and they respected them as the happy couple they were.

"Music, maestro. My love has returned and my heart wants to dance tonight.", Gabrielle ordered gleefully.

The music filled the room once again, and everyone went back to doing what they were doing: drinking and eating, and in general, having a great time.

Gabrielle took hold of Xena's hand and led her to one of the tables at the far end of the room, near the fire blazing in the stone fireplace. "Relax, my love, and let me get you something to eat. You look awfully thin. All that scorched eel didn't sit right with you, did it? " she joked," I told you , you should have taken me along."

Xena laughed heartily. " Well, I'm here so you can fatten me up again with your love." Their eyes sparkled with freshly kindled desire.

The beautiful blonde turned sexily towards the kitchen after planting a loud wet kiss on her lovers yearning lips. A waitress approached the table shyly.

" Welcome home, Xena.", she stuttered." Can I get you something to drink?"

Xena smiled. Well, this girl had certainly turned into a gorgeous woman. She remembered when she and Gabby had saved her from being served as main course at a cyclop's dinnerparty!

" Sure, Melina, get me some of that wonderful port that Gabs keeps for special occasions." She winked playfully at the blushing girl.

" Right away, commander , "acknowledged the girl jokingly with a swift retreat towards the bar.

Xena looked around her. Business was booming. That was a good sign. Times were peaceful. Wars were becoming scarcer, and warriors were looking for new professions. Gabrielle,who possesed a great business mind, had told Xena about this quaint little fishing town where most of the inhabitants just happened to be womanfolk, seeing as how the last great war had considerably depleted the male population.

"Why don't we settle down there and help those women get their act together. We can teach them to be self-sufficient, kinda like the Amazons.", Gabrielle suggested." Who knows, you might even like the quiet life."

This comment elicited a big guffaw from Xena, who had never contemplated leaving her life of errant warrriorhood for one of contemplative meditation. Gabrielle just shrugged, and in her usual energetic way, proceeded to do just what she had planned. With the savings she managed to put aside from the sale of her widely acclaimed plays, she bought the village tavern, remodeled it from a dumpy fisherman's pub turning it into a wonderful ,small replica of Caesars palace, and opened the town's first and only gay bar! It was a raving success. She brought the best entertainers from the Isle of Lesbos, the waitresses had served at the gargantuan banquets held by none other than the Empress of Rome herself, and the cooks were imported from the finest palaces located in far exotic lands where the most coveted delicacies came from. Their customers were many and varied, arriving from near and far. Amazons flocked to the tavern in hordes. Princesses and wealthy women of all sorts, warriors and merchants, scholars and intellectuals , and even an occasional goddess or two.Some say the notorious Sappho of Mytilene herself is said to have stopped for a drink or two, with her favorite " student of the moment" at her side.

All were frequent clients of " The Powdermuff ", the most famous lesbian bar this side of ancient history.And Xena had no choice but to keep quiet and feel proud of her Gabrielle's instant success.The Amazon princess had become a legend in her own time. Her fame was almost outshadowing Xena's, and none of this bothered the famous woman in the least. Contentedly, she leaned back in her chair, letting the fire warm her skin. She sighed. Almost a minute later Gabrielle came out of the kitchen, carrying a big silver dish filled to the brim with steaming soup. Behind her, what seemed to be an army of cooks carrying delicacies of all sorts, scurried quickly to the table, competing with each other to see who served the great warrior princess first.

Xena laughed goodnaturedly." Hey, whoa, I don't want to have to eat all that food out of my lap!"

Gabrielle ordered them to be calm, and gracefully proceeded to arrange the vittels on the table.Xena didn't know where to begin eating first. Everything looked so good. She looked perplexedly at her friend for help.

Gabrielle smiled. Xena was so helpless when it came to these little everyday things, and that's why she loved her so. Sitting promptly in her woman's lap , she reached for a huge turkey drumstick, dripping with savoury juices, and placed it near Xena's mouth. Obediently, the hungry warrior took a huge bite and proceeded to chew dilligently. Gabrielle clapped her hands. Instantly the winejar appeared almost out of nowhere. Melina poured the wine into Xena's special silver goblet and reverently placed it into her waiting hand. Taking a big gulp of the cherished liquid, Xena belched with satisfaction. Ah, this was life, she thought to herself. A beautiful wife, great food, and all the wine you can drink.This was what she had longed for as she slashed and stabbed away, drenched in enemy blood, fighting, ironically, in the name of peace, to protect total strangers from the onslaught of evil hordes who wished to massacre them for no other reason than simple greed. As she wiped her sword of their blood and assorted gore, her mind had visions of just this picture. A huge homefire roaring in the fireplace; Gabrielle sitting on her lap , placing small loving kisses on her cheeks, and the warmth of the wine burning her insides as it made its merry way straight to her head. Now, this was worth fighting for. And this was the reason she, Xena, would continue to fight. To defend the right of all peoples to keep their homefires burning, in peace, in whatever place they chose to call HOME.