Illuminations of the Soul part 2
by Cousin Liz

July 30, 1997


The characters of Xena: Warrior Princess are owned by MCA Pictures and used here without permission. No copyright infringement was intended in the writing of this story.

This story shows the loving relationship between two women. You may even consider it explicit at times. If this type of story offends you, or you are not old enough to read it, please stop reading now.

Part 06

Xena normally didn't mind the quiet, but not at the expense of her
friend. Gabrielle had been distant and withdrawn the entire evening.
She still went about her chores helping to set up camp, but hardly a
word was spoken between the two. Xena went off to lay her traps, and
ended up bringing a nice sized skinned and dressed rabbit back to
camp. Gabrielle quietly accepted it, and roasted it to perfection as
usual. When Xena noticed from across the fire that Gabrielle did
nothing more than pick at her food, Xena did the only thing she could
think of. Gabrielle watched as Xena went over to the saddle bags and
rummaged around inside. She returned and sat next to Gabrielle.
Xena waited in silence. Slowly, Gabrielle raised her eyes and met
Xena's. Xena smiled and handed her a cloth bag.

Gabrielle hesitantly accepted it, not sure just what was going on. She
looked back into the warrior's blue eyes, lost again in the ocean before
her. Gulping hard, she forced her eyes from Xena and to the package
in her lap. She reached inside and wrapped her hand around a
familiar object. Her eyes lit up as she extracted an entire loaf of
nutbread from the cloth bag. "Xena! Where did you get... You got this
from Androniki, didn't you?" Gabrielle asked and answered her own

"I knew how much you liked the stuff. So when I went up to get you a
slice, I informed her that I was hoping she would still have a loaf left to
sell me later on. I'm not sure, but I think I may have been a little
intimidating. She answered yes so quickly and emphatically, you'd
have thought I was going to burn the town to the ground if she had

"Well Xena, you can sometimes be a little scary, even when you don't
mean to." Gabrielle watched Xena for her response, already regretting
her comment.

"Gab... I've never... I've never scared you, have I?" Xena wasn't sure
she wanted to hear the answer.

"Well... uh..."


"Do you remember when we first started traveling together? You
could be very intimidating when you wanted your way. At first you
scared me. Earlier today when you wanted me to ride with you and I
refused... What would you have done if I hadn't given in?"

"I... " Xena didn't know how to answer. She never even considered
the possibility that she would be refused. "You know I would never
hurt you."

Gabrielle tried to reassure her. "Oh Xena, I know you never would."
She reached out and touched her forearm. "But Androniki and the
others don't know this. When you've got that look, you can be very

Both women sat in silence, absorbed in their own thoughts. Xena was
in shock. 'How could I have not known how I made her feel? I love
her.' Xena was sure she could feel her heart being ripped from her
chest. Her insides churned and she was positive she was going to be
physically sick. 'Gabrielle's been acting strange all afternoon. Has
she changed her mind about us and is too afraid to tell me? Gods!
What does she think I'd do to her?' "Gabrielle? I know something is
bothering you." Xena tried to speak in as calm and reassuring a voice
as she could. "When you're ready to talk about it, I'll be here for you."
Xena got up and went back to the other side of the fire.

Gabrielle just sat there, her emotions in flux. She loved Xena so
much. 'But does she love me? How could she love a simple girl from
Poteidaia? I'm not even sure how to love another woman.' Gabrielle
absentmindedly broke off a hunk of the nutbread and began to eat.
She hadn't realized how hungry she was until her first mouthful.
Gabrielle smiled to herself. Xena never failed to do the little things that
showed her how much she really cared. 'Xena is truly a good friend,
but could she be more?' Gabrielle decided she needed to know.

She got up and crossed to Xena's side of the fire. Wordlessly she sat
and offered her a piece of nutbread. Xena dutifully accepted. She
had already learned her lesson when it came to defying her young
friend. "Xena?"


"About last night."

Xena froze. She knew this was coming. 'Hell, I even asked for it.'
Xena knew she owed it to her friend to look her in the eye, but she just
couldn't do it. She continued to stare into the fire. "Yes Gabrielle?"

"You left me alone on purpose at that dance, didn't you?" It was more
a statement of fact than a question. She didn't give Xena a chance to
respond. "You set me up. Why, Xena? Why?"

Xena sat there, not sure of how to answer. She wanted to tell
Gabrielle that it broke her heart to leave her alone there. That she
loved her and that it was all a big mistake. 'But if she is having second
thoughts, I need to give her a way out.' "I thought it was for the best.
You deserve better than me."

"*You* thought it was for the best?" Gabrielle grabbed Xena by the
shoulders and spun her around to face her. The startled warrior's first
instinct was to strike back, but she caught herself in time and quietly
allowed the bard to vent her frustrations. Gabrielle seized her chin in
her hand and thrust Xena's face up to meet hers. "Did you ever stop
to consider what *I* thought was for the best?! No! I'm not a little girl,
Xena. I know what I want. I want you..." Gabrielle continued to hold
Xena's gaze. "I love you."

"I never thought you had any feelings for me in that way. I was afraid
that if I admitted my feelings, I'd lose you." Xena tried to look away,
but Gabrielle had a lock on her eyes that she could not break. "And
then today -- you were acting so strangely. I thought maybe you
changed your mind and didn't know how to tell me."

"Oh Xena." Gabrielle released the death grip she still had on the
warrior's chin and cupped her cheek in her palm. "I had talked myself
into believing that you didn't love me. Why do we do this to each
other? You've got to tell me what you're thinking. I don't know if I can
take much more of this."

"I wasn't the only one to hold back on my feelings. And you. A bard,"
Xena allowed a little lopsided grin to cross her face.

"Heh... well... you know this bard stuff can be hard work sometimes."
Gabrielle's eyes twinkled at the sight of the smile on her friend's face.

"Yes Gabrielle?"

"I'm starved." With these two words, Xena knew she had her friend
back for sure.


The next two days were spent in their usual routine. Up early in the
morning, and after a quick breakfast, off on the road. A stop for lunch,
and on again until dinner. They passed other travelers on the road,
but mercifully there was no trouble. In the evening, Xena would find a
quiet spot off the main road, where they made camp. Gabrielle spent
time writing in her scrolls, while Xena sat across the fire, catching up
on some mending of her leathers, gauntlets and greaves.

If days were pleasant, the nights were even more so. With their
bedrolls next to each other, they spent the time before sleep in each
other's arms. Sometimes discussing the day's events, sometimes
looking up at the stars dreaming, and sometimes not saying anything
at all. Xena soon came to realize that Gabrielle's bold advances the
night of the dance were short lived, as the bard quickly reverted to her
normally modest ways. Even so, Xena found herself relishing the
quiet kisses of her naturally curious friend and gave her all the time
she needed to become comfortable with their new relationship.


The third day was quickly looking like it would drop into the history
books as a repeat of the last two when the sky opened up. It
happened so quickly and with such intensity that it even caught Xena
off guard. Slanted sheets of stinging rain began to pelt them down the
front of their bodies. They were soaked before they had a chance.
Still, Xena dismounted Argo and pulled their capes from their traveling
bags. "Here," Xena shouted, trying to be heard over the din of the
storm. She wrapped one of the capes protectively around Gabrielle.
"It's too late to stay dry," she laughed, "but at least it'll help absorb the sting of this rain." She quickly wrapped the other cape around herself.

Tugging on Xena's arm to get her attention Gabrielle pleaded, "We've
got to turn back."

Xena turned her back to the storm and stood squarely in front of her
companion, trying to block her from the incoming stabs of rain. "I wish
we could," Xena replied, looking into the eyes of the woman she loved.
"We haven't passed any suitable shelter in three candle marks. And
we'd never be able to out run this storm. Our best chance is to head
into it, and hope to break through to the other side."

Gabrielle couldn't hear every word Xena said, but she heard enough to
understand what direction they were headed in. She squeezed Xena's
arm and nodded her head in the affirmative, too exhausted to try to
shout. She didn't particularly like this plan, but knew Xena would do
anything to keep her safe. That's why she was positive she must have
not heard Xena correctly, when the warrior shouted out the next part of
her plan. "Repeat that!" Gabrielle looked at Xena incredulously.

"I said," Xena raised her voice as she bent closer to Gabrielle's ear. "I
want you to ride up front with me on Argo!"

"Yep! That's what I thought you said," she shot back, grabbing the
front of Xena's cape for emphasis. "No way -- uh uh -- sorry. I'm not
getting up there."

"You've got to ride if we're going to make it through."

"Fine. Then I'll ride in back."

"You won't be safe. I'll need two hands on Argo's reins and it's just too
slippery. I won't take that chance. Please." Xena executed a fine
argument, but that last word was all it took. Gabrielle planted a kiss on
Xena's cheek as she gave her a quick hug. They walked over to
where the mare was impatiently waiting. "Sorry for ignoring you girl,"
Xena said, as she patted the flank of her horse. "I'll get us out of this."
Argo turned to look at her, too miserable to respond. Xena turned her
attention back to Gabrielle. "I'm going to lift you up first, then mount
behind you. Hold on to the saddle horn when you get up there."

Gabrielle turned her back to Xena, expecting her friend to give her a
boost so she could throw her leg over the saddle, when Xena spun her
around and swiftly lifted her up so she was sitting side-saddle. The
sudden change in altitude caught Gabrielle by surprise, and she clung
to the saddle horn for all she was worth as Xena swung up in the
saddle next to her. "This wasn't exactly what I had in mind," Gabrielle
shouted, as her left hand frantically grasped Xena's arm for support.
She watched as Xena wordlessly opened her cape to the storm to
accept her to her body. Gabrielle didn't need a written invitation. She
buried herself into the front of the warrior, disappearing into the folds
of Xena's cape. With her trembling package securely fastened around
her waist, Xena headed straight into the storm.

Part 07

The flicker of light through the trees ahead was a welcome sight for
Xena. They had successfully made it through to the other side of the
storm and the rain had eased up significantly. Gabrielle was still
nowhere in sight. She hadn't come up for air since she buried herself
into the warrior, and Xena didn't have the heart to disturb her. She
silently headed for the light.

"Gabrielle. Gabrielle? C'mon. Time to wake up." Xena spoke quietly
into the bundle she uncovered when she opened her cape. They had
stopped in front of an inn in a small village. 'I can't believe what this
girl can sleep through,' Xena mused to herself. She stroked the bard's
back with her right hand, while her partner's head slowly raised itself
from the left side of Xena's chest.

Very bleary green eyes came within inches of sparkling blue ones.
Gabrielle tried to focus. Xena let out a chuckle at the sight of her
friend, her breath tickling the back of Gabrielle's throat. "Wha's so
funny?" she managed to get out.

"Oh... I'm sorry. It's just that... well... you look like a drowned rat,"
Xena animated, as tears of laughter rolled down her cheeks.

"Well, you try burying yourself under all of this," Gabrielle replied,
indicating both her and Xena's capes. "I think I sweated off at least
five pounds!" She leaned back and slowly filled her lungs with cold
fresh air, trying to clear the fog from her brain. Looking around she
continued, "Where are we?"

"I've found us an inn for the night. There's not a dry place to camp for
miles." Gabrielle warmed quickly to the thought of a *dry* bed. Xena
quickly dismounted and helped Gabrielle slide down into her waiting

"Ooo, I'm stiff." Gabrielle stood on wobbly legs, rolling her head trying
to get the kinks out. "I can't believe I'm going to say this, but I think I
could use a hot bath."

"Then a hot bath it is. I don't think you could get any wetter, but the
soak will help to loosen your muscles. Why don't you get us a room
while I stable Argo."

"Sure thing." The thought of getting out of this rain was music to her
ears. She accepted her staff, which Xena had retrieved and
assembled, and headed for the warmth of the inn. The perceived
notion of pending warmth was soon forgotten as Gabrielle entered the
inn. Silence hung in the air as the dinner crowd and the innkeeper
turned to eye the stranger. It dawned on Gabrielle that the long black
cape and hood covering her face were the cause, so she quickly threw
back the hood and opened the cape, hoping to belie their fears.

Small murmured whispers passed amongst the dinner patrons, as the
innkeeper still regarded her with a critical eye. Gabrielle donned her
best bardic smile as she approached him. "Hi. I'd like to rent a room
for the night."

The innkeeper openly eyed Gabrielle up and down, pausing too long at
her bare mid-riff and small green halter top. Gabrielle started to feel
like a side of beef, being considered for purchase. She looked away to
the dinner patrons, unable to meet the eyes that were now boring
through her. It was then that she realized that every other woman in
the inn was covered from head to foot. The only skin showing was
their hands and face. Gabrielle self-consciously wrapped her cape
back around herself.

"Are you alone?" the innkeeper asked, his eyes once again roaming
over Gabrielle, recalling the sight.

"No. I'm waiting for -"

"Well then, Missy," he interrupted. "Why don't you have a seat and
wait for your man to get here." He wasn't used to dealing with women
folk, and was real curious as to what kind of a man would let his
woman run around half naked.

"If it's all the same to you, I'd like a room now." Gabrielle was soaked
and exhausted, and was simply not in the mood for this. "And
besides," she added, "the 'he' I'm waiting for is a 'she'."

A look of disgust replaced the leer on the innkeeper's face. "I run a
family business. Why don't you two take it back outside in the woods,
with the rest of the animals."

"My friend and I just want a room for the night. We don't want any

"I bet that's not all your *friend* wants," the drunk at the bar to
Gabrielle's right slurred. "Maybe a little midnight snack too, hum?"
He leaned over and suggestively fingered the front of her cape.

Gabrielle disgustedly tore away from the offense, and glared at the
people gawking at her.

"We ain't got no room for the likes of you," the innkeeper said, wiping
his hands on a dirty cloth. "You best be on your way. Now get out of
my inn."

Gabrielle ran from the inn and straight into the arms of a startled Xena,
who reflexively dropped their bags on the ground and embraced her
back. Gabrielle didn't mean to, but tears came as she clung to her.
She berated herself for not taking care of the situation, but she was
just too tired to think straight. "Gabrielle! What's the matter? Are you
hurt?" Xena pulled her friend off of her, and carefully checked her
over in the moonlight.

"No, I'm fine." She grasped the warrior's hands, stopping the
examination. "The innkeeper... he... he wouldn't rent me a room."

"Wouldn't?" Xena raised Gabrielle's face to meet hers. "Are you sure
you understood him correctly?"

"Oh yeah. I understood him just fine. He said he doesn't rent rooms
out to our kind."

"Our kind?" Xena heard herself again repeating what the bard just
told her, but she didn't believe getting a room for the night was going
to end up being such a big deal. Xena's voice lowered into a growl.
"What did he mean by *our kind*?"

"He assumed I was traveling with a man, and when I corrected him, he
said he ran a family business and that we should take it back outside
with the rest of the animals."

Xena saw red. "C'mon, Gabrielle. Let's get us a room." Xena
grabbed their bags and entered the inn, keeping Gabrielle protectively
behind her.

The tall black caped figure just stood there, eyeing the innkeeper from
the folds of the hood. The innkeeper stood there for a moment,
thinking that maybe he had heard the little girl wrong. She was
obviously with a man after all. He started to relax a little, trying to think of an appropriate way to apologize for his earlier remarks, when Xena
dropped their bags, pushed the hood back off her face and threw off
her cape.

"Xena!" Gabrielle pleaded, as she tried to put a restraining hand on
the warrior's arm. Xena's name echoed as it passed along the lips of
the patrons. There were also reverberations of Warrior Princess,
Warlord, and murderer.

Xena thought about taking care of this in a polite manner, but she was
cold and tired and hungry and wet. 'And a cold, tired, hungry and
*wet* warrior doesn't know the meaning of polite,' she grimly reminded
herself. The bar, which was the only protection the innkeeper had
between himself and a very pissed off warrior soon disappeared as
Xena vaulted it and had him pinned up against the back wall. Her
actions were so quick he was still holding the drink he had just poured.
"Thanks," Xena drawled, as she took the drink and downed it with one
swallow. "Don't mind if I do." She placed the empty mug on the
counter to her right, and slammed her right hand on the wall, just
inches away from his head. She leaned into him, her whole body a
breath away from his. He was forced to look straight up to meet her
glare, and the water from her hair slowly dripped onto his face.

With her left hand, Xena executed a little maneuver she had learned
from her warlord days. It wasn't lethal, but prolonged use could cause
disability. It was also a great attention getter. If done right, it was
subtle enough not to call attention to itself from anybody else watching.
And Xena didn't want her young friend to see her inflicting any pain.
She slid her left hand between them and gathered a handful of his
baggy pants at his waist. With a simple twist of her wrist and a raising
of her forearm, Xena let his own pants put a strangle hold on his
manhood. She lifted her forearm another inch, and the poor man was
now attempting to support as much of his weight as he could on his

"I thought you were in the business of renting rooms," Xena hissed
through clenched jaws. She ratcheted her left forearm up a few more
degrees, and he could quickly feel his manhood disintegrate.

"I run a clean -- respectable family business," he managed to get past
the lump in his throat. He was too scared to think what that lump
might actually be. "I didn't want any trouble."

"Well, you've got a funny way of showing it. Now, my friend asked
politely about a room. Now it's my turn. I'd like a room." Xena's arm
ratcheted up a degree. "And hot baths." Ratchet. "And hot food."
Ratchet. "And drink." Ratchet. By this time all he could do was
violently shake his head yes. Words were beyond his comprehension
to form. "Thanks," Xena smiled. She patted him on the right side of
his face, as she lowered him back to the floor.

Xena lifted her head and straightened her shoulders back to her full
six feet, and fluidly walked around the bar and back to where Gabrielle
was still standing. She nonchalantly gathered her cape and their bags
from her friend, and placing a protective arm around her love, led her
to the stairs. There they followed the now wincing innkeeper as he
showed them to their room. No one in the crowded room below dared
to comment on the physical contact the warrior was showing her friend
as they ascended the stairs.

Part 08

"Here," the innkeeper meekly said, as he showed them into their
room. Using the candle he carried, he went about the room lighting
candles. He then proceeded to the fireplace, where he attempted to
get a fire started. He found it increasingly difficult to do so, while
trying to keep an eye on the warrior. He was scared for his life now
that he was alone with her.

"I'll get that," Xena barked at him. She appreciated the way he almost
jumped out of his skin at the sound of her voice. 'Very reassuring.'
She smiled. He turned to her but would not make eye contact. "I want
a tub with plenty of hot water brought to the room. And hot food and
drink. And plenty of extra blankets and towels," she added as an
afterthought. When she realized the man was still standing there she
finished, "Now!" He was out the door in a flash.

"Wow! That must have been some look you gave him." Gabrielle
stood there looking at Xena in wide-eyed wonderment. "He wouldn't
even look you in the eye. Must have been a real attention grabber."

"Yeah. You could say that." Xena chuckled as she realized that the
entire time the innkeeper was in the room, he never took his eyes off
her left hand. "A real attention grabber."

Xena soon had a fire going. "Here, give me that thing." She walked
over to Gabrielle and lifted the soggy cape from her shoulders. "This
thing weighs a ton." She dragged two chairs over to the fire, and laid
the capes as close as she dared. Xena returned to her friend and
directed her to sit on the edge of the bed. She pulled the blanket from
the bed and draped it over Gabrielle's shoulders. Gabrielle just sat
there. All her strength had seeped from her body. And to top it off,
she had a pounding headache.

"Let me give you a hand. We've got to get you out of these wet
clothes." Xena knelt before her, and worked on getting her boots off.
The wet leather laces stubbornly complied after a few strong tugs.
Xena then went to work on the laces of her top and finally her skirt.
For Gabrielle's part, she simply obeyed Xena's commands to lift her
arms, stand and sit. When Xena was done, she had a beautiful,
naked, freezing bard sitting before her. Xena wrapped the blanket
around her trembling friend and began to vigorously rub her arms and
legs, doing what she could to generate heat. A tentative knock on the
door stopped her efforts.

Xena made sure Gabrielle was properly covered and called, "Come
in." She stood and turned, putting herself between her friend and the
door. When Xena saw that the tub had arrived, she moved the chairs
with the wet capes to the side of the fireplace, and directed the two
young men to place the tub in front of the fireplace. They quickly did
as instructed, and proceeded to make numerous trips to the hallway to
retrieve buckets of hot water. When the tub was full, they brought
even more buckets in and placed them near the fire. As they were
readying to leave, one of the young men eyed the young woman's
clothes strewn about the floor and met the icy cold stare of the warrior.
Grabbing his friend by the arm, they beat a hasty retreat. As soon as
they exited, two young girls appeared at the open door.

>From their ruddy complexion and round, freckled faces, Xena knew
they had to be daughters of the innkeeper. "Come in," she called to
them. They hesitated for a moment, not sure they loved their father
anymore for sticking them with this chore. Xena saw the normal signs
of fear that she evoked, and gave them a warm smile as she sat on the
bed next to Gabrielle. She hoped the change in her height would also
help to put them at ease. The older girl entered first with a tray laden
with food. She placed it on the small table inside the door. The
younger girl still stood rooted in the doorway. Xena gave her a winning
smile and said, "C'mer." The girl automatically obeyed, a smile
spreading across her face. Xena took the blankets and towels offered
her, and placed them on the bed behind her.

"Kristin, come here!" her older sister begged. She wanted to get out
of the room before that warrior ate them for dinner.

"Kyra, she's nice! I told you she wouldn't eat us!" Kyra just looked at
her younger sister, not believing that she had just let the warrior
woman know her deepest, darkest fear.

"Eat you!?!" Gabrielle startled them both with a laugh as she playfully
punched Xena on the upper arm. "What have people been filling your
imaginations with?" she wondered out loud. Kristin quickly backed
away from the two women, not sure she wanted to be witness as to
what the warrior would do in retaliation for being struck. She stopped
cold when she saw Xena place her arm around the strawberry blonde
haired woman and give her a gentle squeeze.

"Kyra. Please give your father a message from me. Tell him thank
you for the quick service, and that I don't want to be disturbed. You
can come for the dinner dishes tomorrow." Both girls nodded and
quickly left.

"So now you eat children," Gabrielle admonished her. "Since when
was the change in your diet?"

"Two moons ago. Didn't I mention it? A mystic healer told me I
should get more young meat in my diet."

"I think she meant veal and lamb."

"Oh. Now you tell me." Both women erupted into fits of laughter.

"Xena, where do they come up with these stories?" Gabrielle asked,
as she wiped a tear from her face.

"I don't know, Gab But they never cease to amaze me." Xena stood in
front of Gabrielle and helped her to her feet. "Now, let's get you in that
tub before the water turns cold." She unwrapped the precious bundle
before her and took the now damp blanket and Gabrielle's clothes to
lay them by the fire.

Gabrielle made a beeline for the tub. "Oh, Xena. I didn't think it could
feel so good to get wet all over again." Gabrielle slowly lowered her
tired limbs into the hot water.

Xena brought the tray of food over to the tub. "We best eat this while
it's hot. I'm not in the mood to have to go downstairs to get it
reheated." Xena handed her friend a hot bowl of stew while she
quickly peeled herself out of her wet leathers and wrapped a blanket
around herself. She settled herself next to the tub and the two quietly
ate their meal.

Gabrielle used the last of the bread to sop up the remaining broth in
her bowl. "That was really good! Even though he is a royal pain in the-"


"Well he is, Xena. Like I was saying. Even though he's a *royal pain*
he certainly serves a fine meal. I didn't realize how hungry I was. All I
could think of earlier was a nice, warm, dry bed. Now look at me.
Sitting in a tub pickling my skin and stuffing my face!" Xena reached
in the tub and ran her fingers through the water. "Hey! You getting
fresh with me?"

"Only if you ask nicely," Xena teased. She got up from the floor and
retrieved the kettle of hot water she had placed over the fire. She
carefully added it to the tub. "Here," Xena said, taking the bar of soap
in her hands. "Let me wash your hair." She knelt behind Gabrielle
and lathered her hands. She gathered the strawberry blonde tresses
in her hands and proceeded to wash Gabrielle's hair, as well as gently
massage her neck and temples.

"Ouch! No, no. Don't stop. That feels sooo good. Yes... a little to the
right. That's the spot." Gabrielle leaned back into Xena, allowing the
warrior healer's magic fingers to release the tension that had been
building in her head. Xena was more than happy to oblige. 'I don't
think I've ever been more pampered in my entire life.' This was yet
another side to Xena that she never bothered to try to explain to
anybody. They would never believe her. It would surprise people to
learn how gentle her hands could be. How the same fingers that were
calloused from years of fighting, held such healing powers.

The crackle and spittle from the fire and an occasional murmured
whimper from Gabrielle when Xena's fingers found a tender spot were
the only sounds emanating from the small room. Xena was entranced
by the sounds coming from Gabrielle. She closed her eyes and
imagined how she could make other sounds escape those beautiful
lips. 'Just a small kiss here. And maybe another one there. My
tongue running down her... mmm... delicious. And her... Ooo between
my fingers... squeezing... pinching. Feeling her... so wet. Taking her.

The rhythm of the massage Gabrielle was receiving had changed a
few minutes ago, replaced with long, smooth, slow strokes. She had
almost drifted off to sleep then, relaxed and lulled into a beautiful
dream. Suddenly her heart skipped a beat and her eyes widened
when she felt more than heard a ragged breath escape Xena. Xena's
hands had traveled down her neck, over her shoulders, and were now
pliantly massaging her upper arms. Down and back up. Down and
back up, Xena's hands worked the flesh of her arms. Xena was
leaning further into Gabrielle, her head pressed up alongside her
love's head, lips a breath away from her right ear.

'Oh my Gods,' Gabrielle cried to herself, as she felt the muscles in her
upper thighs constrict. 'This is no time for a cramp.' Try as she
might, she had no idea how to relieve it, and had no idea of it's true
source. Another ragged breath escaped Xena's lips. 'My, it's getting
mighty warm in here.' Gabrielle giggled softly. She knew where the
source of *that* was coming from. 'Xena.' Xena, who now had her
earlobe in her mouth, and was lightly sucking and biting on it. Xena,
whose hands never ceased in their tireless efforts to touch and
manipulate her arms, then back up to her shoulders and now down to
her - "Oh... GODS," Gabrielle groaned, as she found her body
arching to meet the warrior's latest assault on her flesh. She turned
her head and captured Xena's mouth, feeling the power of Xena's lips
crush into hers.

For Xena's part, she hadn't realized that it had progressed beyond a
simple massage until Gabrielle's lips found hers. Until then, she was
content to simply enjoy her innocent fantasy. Gabrielle's lips brought
her back to reality, and she was startled to realize her fantasy had
spilled over when she felt soft and responsive breasts under her
hands. Xena yanked her hands from the bard and pushed herself
away from the tub. "Gabrielle... I'm so sorry... I... I didn't realize..."
She looked down and examined her hands, wondering how they could
have betrayed her.

Gabrielle spun around and watched as the warrior sat there transfixed
on her hands. Her mind raced to think of what to say to bring Xena
back to her. She had started something that her body needed to have
finished. "Xena. Xena..." Gabrielle waited for what seemed like an
eternity for Xena to meet her eyes. She extended her hand and said
simply, "Please."

Xena could see the desire in Gabrielle's eyes, and felt her own
passion growing. She reached for the offered hand and lightly
brushed fingertips. The connection was magnetic. She found herself
drawn into those sea-mist green eyes, and slowly covered the
distance. "Gabrielle, I don't want to -" All thought was lost as
Gabrielle brushed her lips over the warrior's again and again.

"Xena. You didn't do anything I didn't want you to do." She slid her
hands around Xena's neck and pulled her in. Their lips met, and
Gabrielle could feel her nipples cry out as they rubbed on the metal
surface of the tub. She grasped Xena's hands and slowly pivoted in
the tub, allowing her head to fall back on the warrior's chest. With
slow, deliberate movements she brought Xena's hands around her
neck and down her chest, breaking the surface of the water and
urging them on. "Xena... please," Gabrielle begged, as she urged the
warrior's hands over her soft flesh.

Xena marveled at the boldness of the bard as she felt small hands
pressing hers down. She leaned into Gabrielle and began to slowly
massage her breasts. Gabrielle pushed back into the warrior and
arched her back as she turned and found her lips. Xena savored the
taste of Gabrielle's lips with her tongue, and with a small flick, was
soon sweeping it over her bard's teeth. Gabrielle started to say Xena's
name, and that was all the enticement Xena needed, as Gabrielle
swiftly found a large, warm tongue battling hers for space in her
mouth. Xena's tongue was like a small child's; inquisitive, exploring
every recess, touching and tasting. Gabrielle moaned deeply,
clutching the rim of the tub with white knuckles. Xena responded by
lavishing more attention on the now erect nipples below the surface of
the water. She rolled them between her fingers as Gabrielle's body
was propelled further and further into Xena's expert hands.

"Xena... Please!" the bard begged, as Xena left her mouth and
ventured around to taste her neck. She lingered over the taut skin of
her partner's arched neck for a moment, before beginning to trail hot
kisses down to the water's edge. Gabrielle, fearful that Xena would
stop once she reached the water, thrust her body upwards. Her
breasts broke the surface of the water like two newly formed islands.
This was an unneeded move on the bard's part. Xena was already
willing to drown to get to her targets of desire and had no intention of
stopping when her tongue hit the water.

Xena knew this was Gabrielle's first time with a woman, and she
desperately wanted to be as gentle as possible with her. Even though
she had been with Perdicus for one night, Xena was not sure what he
had showed her, since Gabrielle had always been bashful when it
came to matters of intimacy. All of these wonderful, rational thoughts
were soon lost on Xena as she witnessed those two beautiful breasts
heaving to meet her. She descended teeth first to meet the right one,
biting the hard nipple with uncontrollable lust.

"Xena!... Oh... Gods!... XENA!" Gabrielle panted, trying to force air
past her scorched throat and into her lungs. "PLEASE!" She strained
to force more of herself between Xena's teeth. The muscles of her
thighs were so constricted that you could have bounced a dinar off
them. All of her weight was now being supported by her heels which
she had dug into the bottom of the tub, and her hands, which had
become permanent fixtures to its sides. When Xena stretched to
lavish the same attention on the left breast, Gabrielle had her pleas
answered. Xena's left breast brushed over the bard's cheek and fell
into her waiting mouth. The feel of Xena's erect nipple in her mouth
sent Gabrielle over the edge. Her screams may have been somewhat
muffled at the time, but Xena felt them course through her body and
she followed Gabrielle moments later.

Xena supported Gabrielle's now limp body, fearful she would simply
slip under the water otherwise. "Xena?" Gabrielle whispered.

"I'm right here. I'm not going anywhere."

"I think my headache's gone." She looked up to see the lopsided grin
on her lover's face.

"Oh, I can't wait to see my next patient's face when I try out my new

"Don't you even think about it."


"That one you save for me. And I feel like I'm going to have a sudden
surge in headaches." She softly laughed as mock exasperation
spread over Xena's face.

Gabrielle looked down at the puckered skin of her fingers and sobbed,
"If I don't get out of this water soon, this may become permanent."
She sat up under her own strength, and Xena retrieved a towel from
the bed. Refusing to make eye contact with Xena as she returned,
Gabrielle admitted with great embarrassment, "I... I don't think I can
stand on my own."

Xena smiled apologetically, only now realizing the true effect she had
on Gabrielle. "Let me help you." Xena slung the towel over her
shoulder and stooped over the side of the tub, scooping Gabrielle up
in her arms. She cradled the bard to her body and headed for the bed.
There, she slid Gabrielle to her feet and with one arm supporting the
bard under her shoulder, she proceeded to wrap the towel around her.
Xena scooped her back up and gently placed her on the bed, lingering
for a moment to steal a kiss. Before Gabrielle had a chance to return
it, Xena broke away. "If you start something now," Xena sheepishly
admitted, "I'll never get my bath."

"Xena! I completely forgot. Why didn't you remind me?"

Xena threw a guilty look over her shoulder as she headed to the fire for
hot water. "I was a little preoccupied," she confessed. She filled the
tub once again with hot water and made quick work of her bath.

Returning to the bed carrying two white shifts, she tossed one to
Gabrielle. After drying herself with a towel, she snatched the bard's
discarded towel and went to lay them by the fire to dry. "Xena. Could
you bring me my satchel?"

"Sure." She returned and handed it to Gabrielle, who was now sitting
with her back against the headboard. Xena sat cross-legged at the
foot of the bed, combing her hair.

Gabrielle dug around the satchel a moment, and produced a small
multicolored tin. She presented it to Xena. "What's this?" Xena
inquired, as she worked the top off.

"Dessert!" Gabrielle beamed.

Xena's eyes lit up when she spotted the small treats. Where did you
find them?"

"At the harvest festival. I know they're your favorite."

"They were my favorite," Xena corrected her, as she popped one in
her mouth.

Gabrielle looked dejected. "Were?"

Xena leaned over and furnished Gabrielle with a long, smoldering kiss.
"They've got stiff competition now," she husked, as they both came up
for air. She proceeded to place one of the treats between Gabrielle's
lips, and popped another one in her mouth. "But that doesn't mean we
still can't enjoy them," she finished, smiling.

Xena added more wood to the fire before returning to bed and blowing
out the last of the candles. She crawled under the covers and joined
Gabrielle, who was lying with her back to Xena. Rolling onto her left
side, Xena wrapped her right arm around her love's waist and pulled
Gabrielle to her. She draped her arm around her chest and nestled
her chin atop her head, realizing they were anatomically built for each
other. Gabrielle flinched when Xena's hand brushed across her
breast. "Gabrielle. Are you OK?" asked an alarmed Xena. "I didn't
hurt you earlier, did I?" She instantly felt guilty about her aggressive
actions during their lovemaking.

"Well... I am a little sore," she admitted. "But a nice sore," she added
quickly, as she gave her friend's arm a reassuring squeeze.

"I'm so sorry. You should have told me. Do you want me to get you
some salve?"

"No. I'll be fine. You know..." Gabrielle paused. She was glad she
had her back to Xena. She wanted to be open with her, but knew that
what she wanted to say she couldn't bring herself to say to Xena's
face. "I never knew it could be so... so intense." Gabrielle could feel
her face flush just thinking about it.

"But Perdicus?" Xena was all too aware of the one night Gabrielle had
with him, though she normally tried to push it to the recesses of her

"Well, he... ah... he knew it was my first time, and he was so sweet, so
gentle." Gabrielle thought back to that night. "Too gentle," she
admitted. "I never felt with him what I felt with you."

It suddenly dawned on Xena that what Gabrielle was trying to say was
that she never achieved orgasm with Perdicus. 'But she did with me.'
Xena smiled at this realization.

Gabrielle wiggled back a little further wanting contact with as much of
Xena as she could possibly manage. "It can't get any better than this,"
she murmured more to herself than Xena.

"Just wait."

Gabrielle stiffened for an instant, and then relaxed as Xena pulled her
in, enveloping her in warmth and love.

Part 09

Xena cinched the saddle securely to Argo, leading the horse out of
the stable and around to where Gabrielle was waiting at the front of the
inn. She knew that if they were going to reach their destination on
time, they would have to pick up their pace. She finished packing their
supplies on the war horse and turned towards Gabrielle. "Gab. I'd
really appreciate it if you'd ride with me today."

"Xena. Is it really necessary? You know..." Gabrielle saw *that look*
momentarily flash over the warrior's face, quickly to be replaced.
'Gods. She's trying so hard.' "You know," she continued, "I'd really
love to ride with you." She threw her arms around Xena and gave her
a big hug.

"Mind you, I'm not complaining, but what's this for?" Xena hugged her
right back, lifting her up off her feet and enveloping her in powerful

"For loving me."


Gabrielle clung to Xena atop Argo. She had found out by trial and
error that if she buried her face into Xena's back and closed her eyes
tightly, she almost didn't mind the ride. She simply imagined herself
atop a horse with much shorter legs, though the mental picture she
formed of riding behind the warrior princess on top of her childhood
pony sent fits of giggling laughter through her body.

"Are you OK back there?"

"Yeah Xena, I'm fine." Gabrielle gave her a reassuring hug as her
body still quivered with laughter. "Just taking my mind off the height."

Xena switched the reins to her right hand and held Gabrielle's hands
securely against her with her left. "I've got you. You're not going
anywhere." Gabrielle felt so safe, she eventually dozed off. On the
other hand, the continuing friction between their bodies shot bolts of
heat to the warrior's core. Xena mentally berated herself for agreeing
to this trip. The timing couldn't be worse. 'Just when Gabrielle and I
are beginning to take the first steps towards being together, we have
to be headed *there*.' But Xena knew she wouldn't back out of a
promise, even though it meant she would probably not get a chance to
touch Gabrielle for the next few days.

After a few more miles, Xena saw the fork in the road. 'It would be so
easy to take the left road.' She would just explain that something
unavoidable came up. 'No one would dare question me, but a promise
is a promise.' Xena urged Argo to the right, on to Poteidaia.


Xena never had much use for any of the gods. She preferred to live
her life without their petty interferences, but that didn't stop her from
praying to any who would listen to her that day. If she could just make
it a little farther before Gabrielle stirred, she might be safe. 'Well, not
safe, but at least it would be too late for me to turn around.' Xena
knew that with Gabrielle's insistence, she might be willing to break that
promise. And as much as she wanted an excuse, she had never
broken one before, and didn't want to start now. Especially with
Gabrielle's family.

'I owe you one.' Xena mentally thanked whichever god had heard her
plea. The village of Poteidaia lay before her, and Gabrielle was still
quietly snoring. Xena paused. She wasn't sure if she should wake
Gabrielle now and prepare her, or continue on and let things fall where
they may. She had her answer when in the distance, a young brunette
began to wave her hands frantically and came running towards them.
It was Gabrielle's younger sister, Lila.

"Gabrielle! Gabrielle!" Lila called out as she came running up to meet
her sister.

"Lila?" Gabrielle mumbled into Xena's back.

Lila faltered as she got closer. She now had a better view of her
sister. Gabrielle sat slumped against Xena, her arms resting loosely
around that warrior. Xena's grasp of her sister's arms seemed to be
the only thing keeping Gabrielle from falling to the ground. Lila shot a
look through the warrior that she hoped conveyed the message; 'If
*anything* is wrong with my sister, I'll kill you.'

Xena had seen that look numerous times in her past. She didn't let it
phase her. "Gabrielle?" Xena shook the bard's arms, trying to wake

"Xena? Oooh, I must have been dreaming." Gabrielle squinted
against the bright light of the afternoon sun. "I thought I heard Lila's..."

At the sound of her name from her sister's lips, Lila covered the rest of
the ground between them. "Gabrielle! You're OK!"

"Lila?" Gabrielle opened her eyes against the bright light and turned in
the direction of her sister's voice. "Is that you? What are you doing

"I live here, stupid. What do you think I'm doing here?"

Gabrielle felt confused and just a little bit unsteady. She clung tightly
to Xena, not sure if she was experiencing a very vivid dream or reality.
'This must be a dream. We can't be in Poteidaia.'

Lila stopped short of reaching out to Gabrielle. She saw the look on
her sister's face. And mixed in with the confusion, she saw fear. Lila
froze. Xena saw Lila's expression change. Still keeping a firm grasp
on the bard, Xena twisted around in the saddle to look at her friend.
Her love. "Gabrielle. Ga-bri-elle," Xena repeated, using the strength
of her voice to make her friend look up at her. "Listen to me.
Everything's OK. We're in Poteidaia."

"No! Xena! You promised! What did I do wrong?" Gabrielle became
hysterical. "You can't leave me here!"

In an instant Xena had swung her leg over the front of Argo and
dismounted, never letting go of Gabrielle. She deftly lowered her
trembling companion from the saddle. After glancing quickly to Lila,
Xena half-walked, half-carried the bard a short distance away. With
her back to Lila, Xena supported Gabrielle under her arms as she
lowered her head and talked quietly into the bard's right ear.
"Gabrielle," Xena breathed softly. "You did nothing wrong. Nothing!
And I am not leaving you here. I promise. Do you hear me? I love
you." She slowly kissed Gabrielle's ear, letting her tongue softly tickle
her ear lobe.

Gabrielle focused on the attention Xena was giving her ear. "Xeena!"
A small smile splayed across her lips.

"Yeah Gab?"

"Quit that! We're in public! And if I'm hearing you right, my sister's
right behind you," Gabrielle said under her breath. She was never
more happy than she was right now that Xena had long hair,
effectually hiding her roaming lips and tongue.

"Sure, if that's what you really want." Xena murmured as she nibbled
again on her young friend's ear.

"I... I... Oh Gods Xena! Please..." Gabrielle was certain that if Xena
had not had a firm grasp of her, she would have crumpled to the
ground by now in a quivering mass of desire.

Xena was positive that through her careful ministrations Gabrielle was
now assured that she was not going to leave her, ever.

"Xena? Why are we here?" She was still feeling a little uncertain.
This was the last place she thought the warrior would want to visit.
Especially the way her family treated her in the past.

"I received an invitation," Xena said matter-of-factly. Like she always
got invitations from people who hated her. "And I knew how much you
disliked it whenever I left you behind. So here we are."

Gabrielle's jaw dropped. She was glad Xena was still supporting her.
"An invitation? From whom? Why didn't you tell me?"

"Yes. Your mother. Surprise!"

Gabrielle had to stop and match the answers up with the questions.
She hated when Xena answered her in this fashion.

"My mother? She sent you an invitation? Why? And don't you
answer me like that again," she added dryly. She knew Xena was well
aware of what she was talking about.

"Well... in reality, the invitation was to the both of us," Xena admitted
sheepishly. "And I have no idea why she sent for us. I guess you'll
just have to ask her."

"Oh Gods!" Gabrielle exclaimed. She had forgotten that Lila was still
standing there. "Lila!"

Lila's head jerked to attention. She had been standing there transfixed
on the scene that was playing itself out in front of her ever since Xena
had shot her that look. She hadn't been able to hear the conversation,
but could tell that Gabrielle had settled down noticeably. "Brie?"

Gabrielle ran over to her sister and gave her a big hug. "Oh Lila. It's
so good to see you."

Lila pulled out of the hug as a cloud covered her face. "Are you sure
about that? It didn't seem like you were so happy to see me a minute

Oh that. Well... you see... I was confused," Gabrielle stumbled over
her words. Her mind was racing to come up with some kind of an
excuse. "Xena told me we were going to Torone to see an old friend of
hers. I'd been asleep for the last couple of hours of the ride and when
I awoke and heard your voice, I thought it was all a dream." Gabrielle
hoped her lame excuse would suffice. She didn't know how she could
begin to explain her ranting about broken promises and being left here.

"But Brie -"

"Lila." The force with which Xena spoke that one word stopped Lila
cold. "Don't you think your mother would want to know that Gabrielle
is here." This sentence came out sounding more like a command to
action than a question.

"Yes, Xena. Right away." Lila took off running. She found herself

halfway home before she realized she had moved from her spot.

Xena covered the distance between Gabrielle and herself. "Oh, Xena.
Thank you." Gabrielle watched as her sister retreated. "I didn't know
what I was going to say to her." Xena bent over and whispered
something in Gabrielle's left ear. "Xena!" She playfully swatted the
warrior on her forearm. Xena grinned and began to apply the same
ministrations to that ear that the other one received earlier. "Xena!

Continue to parts 10-13


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