"Still Locked Up, Still Tied Down"
by Alan Plessinger and Sharona
Disclaimer: The characters in this story are the sole property of Universal/MCA Television. No profit was gained from the writing of this story, nor is there any intention of copyright infringement. This story contains both references to same-gender sex, as well as allusions to sex that may be considered non-consensual. Please keep this in mind if you choose to continue reading. The authors accept no responsibility if this disclaimer is not properly heeded. Please note that this story is an alternate ending to the episode "Locked Up and Tied Down," so if you haven't seen that yet, you probably won't get what the hell is going on here. As for the rest of this disclaimer, well, really I just wanted to see if you'd keep reading
Xena sipped her mulled wine and tried to look Thelassa in the eyes,
but Thelassa was looking right past her at Gabrielle.
She's been Gabrielled, thought Xena. Another one has fallen for her. I haven't seen anyone fall that fast since Terreis.
Xena felt sorry for Thelassa, and not only because of the stump at the end of her upper arm. Because Gabrielle's love belonged to Xena alone. She couldn't give that love away even if she wanted to.
She took another sip of wine.
Thelassa, thought Xena, I hope you find a Gabrielle of your own. But you can't have mine. I need her. I need that wonderful sweet smile that I'm just beginning to see again, for the first time in so long. I may not deserve her, but I need her so much.
She tried to focus her gaze on Thelassa, but her vision was getting blurry. Her limbs felt heavy. She dropped the wine and it spilled all over her sackcloth clothing.
"I need her..." said Xena aloud, and fell face down on the floor.
Gabrielle rushed to her side. "What did you do to her?" she asked accusingly as she felt Xena's neck muscles for a pulse.
"Just treating her like the prisoner she is," Thelassa explained coldly.
"Guards!" she called, with a sudden jerk of her head.
Two guards came in to restrain Gabrielle, and two to drag Xena's
body away. Gabrielle struggled in their arms.
"How can you do this to her?" yelled Gabrielle. "She saved your
Thelassa stood before the still struggling Gabrielle, and touched
her tenderly on one cheek. "You're my life," she said.
It had been a day since Xena's re-incarceration, and Thelassa was waiting expectantly before the earthen fireplace as Gabrielle entered her quarters. It was clear the commandant had taken some trouble to pose herself attractively and seductively, the firelight flickering in her eyes.
"Hello, Gabrielle." She smiled.
Gabrielle didn't return the smile, but put down the bowl containing the salve and the poultice. She took off the commandant's prosthesis and began to apply the salve without a word.
"I know you so well, Gabrielle. You want to hurt me, but you won't. And you could so easily."
"What good would it do?"
"Gabrielle, when I look into your eyes I see the woman I could've been."
"And can still be again," the bard suggested hopefully. "But you're off to a terrible start. Why are you doing this to Xena?"
Thelassa indicated with her eyes toward the stump.
"She didn't take your life, Thelassa."
"No. She just ruined it. Sentenced me to a lifetime of unrelenting pain. Took my beauty and my tranquility and left me nothing but anger and hatred. Crippled my body and my soul."
"Can't you see how sorry she is?"
"I don't care! Why should she have someone like you? You came into my quarters and made me forget the pain I live with every day. One hour with you, just talking and feeling your touch and being with you, and I felt whole again. I won't give that up. I can't!"
"And how do you feel now?"
Thelassa scowled. "Like I want to cut Xena's heart out! Because she has you, and I don't! She spends a lifetime doing evil, and what's her punishment?"
"To spend a lifetime doing good."
"With you by her side? That's no punishment. The only punishment good enough for her is a life without you. That's her Tartarus."
"And you're her judge?"
"Tell me something, Thelassa. Why did you reveal yourself to her?"
She seemed taken aback by the question. "What? Why shouldn't I?"
"You had her staying here willingly when she thought she killed you. Now that she knows you're alive, she wants to escape. Why did you tell her who you are?"
The commandant looked indignant. "I wanted her to know who she was dealing with."
The bard seemed skeptical. "It didn't have anything to do with her burying that prisoner in the rain?"
Thelassa looked troubled and confused. Gabrielle finished her healing services and began reattaching the prosthesis.
"I'd be lying if I said that didn't disturb me," said Thelassa. "I thought to myself, 'She doesn't get it. She still thinks she's one of the good guys.' But it didn't take her long for her to revert to her true self."
"Because you had the guards mistreat her," Gabrielle explained.
"They didn't mistreat her. They gave her just what she deserved. And she went into a rampage."
"From what I heard, she didn't react until they tried to put the lash to another prisoner."
"She always has excuses."
Gabrielle's eyes seemed to plead with her. "Why won't you let me at least see her, Thelassa?"
"Why? So you can give her that?" She pointed with her one hand to the Chakram, which she had had mounted on the wall, encased in glass.
Even in the midst of worrying about Xena, Gabrielle couldn't help but be affected by the sight of Xena's powerful, steel weapon. But her attention was drawn to something else. Next to the Chakram was a cabinet.
Gabrielle stepped closer to the cabinet and examined it. It was full of scrolls.
She turned back to Thelassa. "Are these mine?"
"They're copies, mostly. I'm lucky enough to own a few originals." Thelassa pulled one scroll from a shelf and gave it to Gabrielle. "I have followed your tales your exploits with Xena. I have read the words from your own quill."
Gabrielle unrolled it, and stared at it in amazement. At first glance, she knew the story at once. It involved, Minya, Hower, a huge giant named Gareth, and an adjacent army (and a hot tub Gabrielle smiled at the memory).
"I would give anything if I could be the inspiration for that smile," the commandant confessed, stepping closer to Gabrielle, and brushing a few strands of reddish-gold hair away from Gabrielle's beautiful face.
She's not angry anymore. She feels for me. She's intrigued. And one day soon she will love me.
Thelassa forgot to speak as she gazed at that adorable face and those amazing eyes. Then she came to herself and said, "Gabrielle, I'll tell you the truth. I loved you before you ever stepped onto this island. I had read your writing so often, and imagined your voice saying the words. You had become a fantasy to me, Gabrielle. As much as I wanted to get back at Xena, I wanted you even more. I knew you'd find some way to get to this island, once I had Xena. And even before I met you, I kept telling myself I would be disappointed, that I was a fool, that I couldn't possibly fall in love with the voice of an author on a scroll. Then I met you and even before I realized who you were, I was drawn to you the way you spoke and the look of compassion in your eyes. And finding out that you were my fantasy only made my feelings all the more intense."
She stepped closer to the woman she loved, and continued. "I had to take you away from her, Gabrielle! How could I do otherwise? I know that she has hurt you just like everyone else she has crossed paths with. I'll tell you something else. That noose around your neck was a slipknot! You were never in any danger. I just wanted you to see that I had changed. Gabrielle, I love you so much. I need you, and I want you. Please just say you'll stay with me. Just say that you'll be with me tonight. I've gone to so much trouble to lure you here, and I love you so much! Please, Gabrielle! Please!"
Gabrielle took a step back from Thelassa, in stunned amazement and fear. "You can't be serious," she said. "No."
Thelassa tried to appear unaffected, but she wasn't successful. Her eyes were full of pain.
Gabrielle shook her head in rejection and confusion. "You really think you can make me love you, by practically kidnapping both of us? Someone who claims to know me would know that I would never respond to this kind of treatment. You think you 'love' me, but you don't know the meaning of the word."
Thelassa's one arm came up to slap Gabrielle, and Gabrielle easily blocked it. There seemed to be no strength in that one arm, the bard thought.
"You're kidding yourself," Gabrielle stated flatly. "I could never love a person so thoughtless and manipulative. I could never love you never.
She gathered her supplies and headed for the door. Before leaving, she turned and said, "Xena and I will escape this place, and we'll make sure you're removed from your position. You'll regret you didn't have us executed when you had the chance."
"Ah, and I would have to remove her from her cell to execute her, wouldn't I? That would give her the chance she needs to escape."
"Thelassa, you can't win. You want me to love you, and it won't happen. You could torture me and make me say that I loved you, but not even the gods could make me truly mean it."
Thelassa fastened her deep, penetrating gaze on Gabrielle. "Perhaps time can do what the gods cannot."
Gabrielle left in anger.
Xena arose from the cold stone floor and squinted at the light streaming in the tiny window at the top of the cell. It was morning. The window was little more than a slit in the stone and iron cell, and it was the only source of ventilation and illumination. It was slatted with iron bars, and even if she could slice those bars with her Chakram, it wasn't big enough for even a small child to get through.
She squinted at the place in the ceiling where she could just make out the outlines of the only door. This was how she'd been dumped into the cell. The door was locked from above, and probably weighted as well. She could leap to the ceiling and feel the outline of the door, but she couldn't jam anything into it. She tried using the tray they used to serve her food, but it was useless as a tool. She could flip up and kick the door, but it didn't budge.
The only other opening was the slot they used to serve her bread and water on the tray. This was a long shelf, which led outside. They pushed the tray to her with a stick. She could reach her arm into the opening, but the shelf was longer than her arm, longer than her whole body. One time she was able to grab the stick, but it was made of brittle wood. It, too, was useless.
She never saw any guards. She slept on the stone floor, which got damp when it rained. At least there were no rats.
Why didn't she put me in here in the first place? Probably too humane for her tastes.
Xena sat in the corner and leaned her forehead against the wall. "Think!" said Xena. "Focus! You can think your way out of any prison."
But this seemed to be a prison specifically built to hold Xena. She thought back a couple of weeks and smiled. Was it really only a matter of days since she had shared that wonderful embrace with Gabrielle, smiled, and watched Gabrielle's beautiful smile in return?
She remembered looking at the dancers, and leaning down and whispering in Gabrielle's ear, "Come on, let's get out of here. They got the beat."
Gabrielle actually laughed at her little joke, and it warmed her heart. Her arm draped over Gabrielle's shoulder, they approached the magistrate.
"Istafan!" said Xena.
"Istafan! You da man!" chanted Gabrielle. "Who da man? You da man,
"Gabrielle, please. I'm trying to have a serious conversation with this human pork sausage and you keep interrupting."
"What do you want?" asked the sausage.
"Istafan, the election tomorrow is a foregone conclusion. You know it, and I know it. Why not save us all a lot of trouble, and concede?"
"Suit yourself," said Xena. "But know that we're going to be here to make sure your goons don't stuff any ballot boxes."
"Which is probably how you got elected in the first place," added Gabrielle.
Istafan growled at them in irritation, as they walked on. As they rounded the corner, Xena swept Gabrielle into her arms for a warm embrace.
"Are we still dancing?" asked Gabrielle.
"I love you, Gabrielle. Have I told you that lately?"
"Only every day since we left Poteidaia," the bard replied, returning the affection.
"Is that all? Gabrielle, I swear I'm not human without you."
"You feel human."
"You know, I've danced before as part of some plan, to get into a castle or to distract someone. But today is the first time in a long while I danced out of pure enjoyment. I can't remember the last time. I don't think there was a last time."
Gabrielle smiled and took a peek around the corner at the dancers. "For a town where they don't allow dancing, these people sure can dance."
"I think there was a lot of practicing at night, in the dark. We just let a little sunlight into what was already there." She paused and beamed happily at her bard. "Kind of like what you did for me."
"I love you, Xena."
"Well, if you love me, teach me those steps. How do you do that with your feet?"
Xena sat in the corner of her damp, cold cell, and wrapped her arms around herself, and felt warm and happy, just for a minute. She had enough memories of Gabrielle to keep her going for a hundred years, if need be. Thelassa could never break her spirit as long as she could think, feel, and remember.
"I love you, Gabrielle," whispered Xena. "Work your magic on her. Because I'm fresh out of tricks."
The next morning Gabrielle came to tend to Thelassa, but the commandant was noticeably more sullen.
"Hello, Gabrielle," she said again, but in a more dejected and less hopeful tone.
Again Gabrielle said nothing, and went right to work.
"I suppose you're right," sighed Thelassa. "I thought I could turn your heart and make you love me. But you have made me see that I can't."
"Then let us go."
"I can't do that. I love you, Gabrielle, and I don't know how to stop loving you. I need you as much as Xena does, probably more."
Gabrielle put down the poultice and met Thelassa's steady gaze. "Thelassa, if this is all about me, let Xena go. I'll stay with you. I promise."
Thelassa looked deep into Gabrielle's eyes, trying to make up her mind.
"Xena would try to take you with her."
"I won't let her. I swear that I'll stay with you if you let her go. I swear it on the lives of my parents."
"Gabrielle, you're never going to love me. I can tell that you don't hate me, even after everything I've done to you and Xena. But you will never, ever love me, and it breaks my heart. And I'm not going to break my heart every day of my life. But I will make you an offer. You can both go."
"We can?" the bard asked in confusion.
"I just want one night with you."
Gabrielle tried not to look shocked. She realized she had no real reason to be shocked after all that had come before. But still she shivered visibly.
"Are you saying what I think you're saying?" asked Gabrielle, her voice wavering noticeably.
"I think you know what I'm saying. With a choice between your body and your love, I would rather have your love. But I won't go through everything I've gone through and have nothing to show for it. I want one night of passion with you, Gabrielle."
"I I've never been with a woman," the bard stammered.
Thelassa looked surprised. "But Xena..."
"Oh, sure. Xena and me. Everyone else assumes that. Why should you be any different?"
"Gabrielle, whether or not you two have been intimate, I promise you, Xena wants to."
"You're...wrong," said Gabrielle uncertainly, as a dozen deep, sensual gazes from Xena flew past her memory to belie her words.
"Right or wrong, it doesn't matter. What's your answer?"
Gabrielle swallowed once.
"Yes," she said.
Thelassa moved closer to Gabrielle, and stroked her lovely face, and moved her lips toward Gabrielle's.
"Tonight?" asked Gabrielle.
This had been the longest day of Gabrielle's entire life. Her thoughts were so jumbled and clouded, it was making her wonder if she had indeed lost her mind.
As the servants prepared her bath, her mind raced wildly between the impending act, and what Thelassa had said about Xena. How could all this have happened? How was she going to endure this?
She had only ever been with one person her husband, whom she had loved. And now this twisted, amoral woman was forcing her to be intimate using her love of Xena as a ploy to get her into bed.
Her stomach churned again at the thought.
When the servants left, she stepped into the warm water and made a conscious effort to allow her muscles to relax. It was a true struggle but she managed somewhat. She kept reminding herself that soon it would all be over. She and Xena would be together again and free of this place.
She closed her eyes and lay back in the water. She had been willing to give her life for Xena giving her body should be no more difficult, she reasoned. But no matter how much she tried to convince herself of that, the nausea came back the bile would again rise in the back of her throat. The realization that she was prostituting herself would return with a vengeance.
When at last the scented water had become chilled, she forced herself to rise and dry her body. A sheer dressing gown had been laid out for her, and while at any other time Gabrielle would have truly admired the fabric and taken pleasure in donning it, today she sat beside it anxiously, afraid to put it on.
With pain and great uncertainty, she dressed and waited for the guards to come for her. And finally, they did so.
Gabrielle followed her escorts down the corridors to the commandant's chamber. She kept remembering all the times Xena had told her to "focus," and the mental control methods Xena had gleaned from Lao Ma. She could do this, she assured herself. This was for the greater good. The world needed Xena.
As the heavy door swung open, the guards moved aside, providing Gabrielle with a view of Thelassa, wearing a very revealing outfit herself. There was a fire blazing in the hearth, and the lights were dim and soft.
"Thank you, guards," the commandant said with a broad smile. "You may go." She shooed them away with a sweep of her hand, and beckoned the bard inside.
Gabrielle felt as though she could not move but she forced her feet to direct her forward. The door shut loudly behind her, and latched from the outside. She swallowed deliberately, but her face did not portray the dread that churned within her. She appeared stoic and detached.
Focus, Gabrielle. Just imagine you are with your beloved.
"Come to me," Thelassa said, reaching out to her. The bard moved forward and she was pulled over to the large, plush bed in the center of the room. The commandant pushed Gabrielle back onto the mattress, then lay beside her, smiling.
"You can't know how long I have dreamt of this moment, my bard," Thelassa explained as her fingers touched Gabrielle's shoulder and side lightly, making small circles on her skin.
Gabrielle closed her eyes.
Imagine your beloved. These hands are hers
The bard's eyes shot open. The beloved she was imagining was not her departed husband it was Xena. Her mind reeled at the revelation.
Thelassa's mouth descended hungrily onto Gabrielle's. And she struggled with her gut reaction to pull away- to fight off the unwelcome advances.
This is Xena kissing you these are her lips
Gabrielle meekly kissed the woman back, her eyes clamped tight, and her breathing ragged. Thelassa's touch began to travel over much of the bard's body, but Gabrielle did not return it. Instead she kept her eyes closed, and as she envisioned her warrior above her, a tear ran down her cheek.
As Xena clutched her knees to her chest, she heard movement from the trap door above her. Agilely she jumped to her feet and listened closer.
The door swung open and a rope ladder was lowered to her. Without an instant of hesitation, Xena latched on to the ladder and scurried out of the cell. When she reached the top, she saw that her rescuers were Thelassa's guards.
"You're to come with us," the taller one said.
"Because the commandant has freed you."
Xena was stunned. Obviously Gabrielle had managed to save her after all.
"Come with us," the shorted guard directed. "We are to make sure you get cleaned up before you depart the island."
"Where is Gabrielle?" the warrior asked with some concern.
The guards looked at each other and seemed to share a knowing smile. "She is preparing to join you."
"So she and I will both leave here together?"
"That is the commandant's directive," the taller guard confirmed. He then stepped aside so that Xena could pass though the open cell door, and the warrior did so but something wasn't right here.
Xena was brought to a room with a steaming bath and a change of clothes laid out on a chair. She examined the bath water suspiciously, but it seemed to have nothing more in it than soap.
She stepped in, and it felt heavenly. She washed every square inch of her mud-coated body and hair and when she was done, she washed it all again.
Once she was totally satisfied that there was no other body surface that could be scrubbed, she left the water and changed into the clean tunic and skirt that was left for her.
The guards then returned for her.
"We have brought you some food," the shorter one said, extending a tray with bread, cheese and fruit on it.
"Where is Gabrielle?" Xena asked, paying no attention to the food offered to her. "Please. I need to see her."
"The commandant has only just now finished with her," the taller guard explained. "She is still preparing herself."
Xena looked from one guard to the other. "What do you mean 'finished with her'?"
Both guards looked at the floor. Xena became bolder. "What has she done to Gabrielle?" she demanded.
The shorter guard looked at Xena with what seemed to be pity. Xena stepped closer to him with imploring eyes. "Tell me. What's happened?"
"I suppose you will know soon enough," the guard reasoned aloud. "Your friend agreed to sleep with the commandant in exchange for your and her own freedom."
"No," said Xena, and a ferocious, savage rage began to grow in her eyes, rage that had been accumulating for days.
"NO!" she yelled, and grabbed the larger guard with one hand, picked him up and slammed him against the wall. The smaller guard tried to attack her. She picked him up by the throat and held him against the wall next to his friend.
She let them both go, and turned to the tub. Snarling and incoherent in her rage, a guttural yell escaping from deep within her, she lifted one side of the huge tub, spilling the water all over the floor.
Then, as quickly as the rage had come, it seemed to drain out of her. She looked at the two guards. She was breathing heavily and her pulse was racing, but the guards realized they were safe, for the moment.
"When do I see the commandant?" she growled.
"You don't," snapped the taller guard as rubbed the swelling knot on the back of his head. "You are to eat, and then we will take you to the ship back to the mainland."
Xena contemplated kicking these men's genitals up through the roofs of their mouths and taking control of this prison. By the gods, this place deserved to be burned to the ground.
She stopped herself. No it didn't. It was not the prison's fault that the woman running the place was an evil bitch bereft of any warmth or compassion. And it was she herself that had made Thelassa that way in the first place
Xena sighed as she felt the weight of her past misdeeds in a whole new way. In much the same way that Xena's destruction of Cyrra created a monster that would one day savagely kill Gabrielle's husband, now her thoughtless disfigurement of an innocent woman would produce a bitter animal that would rape Gabrielle and prey upon her goodness.
Xena suddenly felt unable to stand the weight of all her past wrongs pressing down and weakening her. She felt like weeping.
"We will return to take you to the ship shortly," the taller guard directed, and the two men left the visibly distraught warrior to be alone.
And as the door shut behind them and latched, Xena crumpled to her knees and rested her forehead against the wall, no longer feeling the will to live. Her stomach muscles tightened, and she felt the tears coming.
"Gabrielle " she said, and the tears streamed down her cheeks. She held her stomach and felt horribly sick at what Gabrielle had gone through. For her!
It was her fault. She should've found some way out of that prison. How many more people would she let down? How many more had to suffer because of her?
Xena desired Gabrielle so much. So much she could hardly stand it, sometimes. But there was always something preventing her from revealing how she felt. And because of this, Gabrielle might never be able to enjoy physical intimacy again with anyone.
She couldn't even bring herself to hate Thelassa for this. No, it was herself she hated. Oh, for a dagger to slit her own throat. How wonderful, how exquisite to have the most evil woman in the world removed from the face of the earth, forever. And how much better Gabrielle's life would be.
She was curious as to what punishments awaited her in Tartarus. Try as she might, she couldn't imagine anything horrible enough.
But she had no right to kill herself. She had to atone.
"Atone," she said aloud, listening to the word. It sounded so ridiculous. What could she ever do in this world that could take away even one second of the horrible pain Thelassa lived with? Or remove this day from Gabrielle's memory?
But she had to do it, and worse, now she'd have to do it without Gabrielle. Because Gabrielle would hate her for this- for failing her. She would leave Xena.
Xena hugged her knees close to her, and rocked back and forth in agony and misery.
"I just got you back, Gabrielle," she said.
And her sobbing started all over again.
Xena sat on the ship back to the mainland, her eyes rimmed with red, and her face plainly displaying the anguish she was feeling. She did not move, but merely stared at the floor, her hands in her lap.
The warrior looked up to see the smiling face of her loving bard. "Gabrielle!" she gasped, reaching up to pull her to her. The two hugged closely, and Xena stroked the bard's hair gently.
"I'm so sorry, Gabrielle," she whispered. "So sorry."
"For what?" The bard looked up into Xena's eyes and was startled to see tears there. She brushed one away lightly with her thumb.
"For what you had to do to rescue us. It was all my fault."
"No, it's true. You've brought so much to my life and I've done nothing but hurt you and bring you pain and loss "
"But I couldn't be happy without you, Xena."
"Shh," the warrior said, pulling Gabrielle back to her and resting her chin on the bard's head. "Just let me hold you for now. That's all I want."
Gabrielle complied. There would be time for talking later.
The cruise was not long at all. And the two women fell asleep against each other; the fatigue from days of tension, worry and anxiety finally leaving them exhausted. The sounds of the crew bustling about woke them both, and they groggily gathered Gabrielle's bag and disembarked.
"What should we do now?" the bard asked with a stretch as the sunlight hit her for what seemed like the first time in an eternity.
Xena looked on her with regret and anguish. "I- I don't know. I just want to be with you."
Gabrielle smiled. "Let's not travel anymore today," she suggested. "Let's find an inn, have some dinner and just sleep."
Xena simply nodded. She was afraid to make any more decisions afraid that they would have the same dire consequences as those she had made in the past. She was so tired, and she felt so hollow inside.
Gabrielle sensed that Xena was too affected by the last week or so to be strong, so she decided to be strong enough for both of them. She found them a room in an inn, and ordered them a hot dinner at the tavern next door.
Xena did not eat. She simply pushed around the food on her plate.
"We need to talk about this."
"You want to leave me," the warrior said without even looking up.
"I can't fault you, Gabrielle. You would be happy if it weren't for me."
"What are you saying?"
The warrior gazed into the bard's sea-green eyes. "I'm saying that I have ruined your life. The only thing for you to do is leave me. It's the only chance you have of being truly happy."
"Xena, I have to tell you what happened between Thelassa and me."
"I can't I couldn't stand to hear it, Gabrielle."
Gabrielle put some dinars on the table and took Xena by the hand, pulling her gently to her feet. "Come on," the bard said softly, as she directed the warrior back to the inn and upstairs to their room.
Xena sat forlornly on the edge of the bed.
"Xena, obviously you know what Thelassa wanted from me in exchange for our freedom."
"And you know that I would give anything for you."
Xena stood and walked to the bard, taking hold of her shoulders. "But to give your body," she whispered. "It's killing me inside to know that she touched you."
"But when she touched me Xena, it was you I thought of."
"It was your lips I felt, and your caress."
"But " Xena looked stunned and speechless.
"And when I called your name, she stopped it," Gabrielle elaborated.
"When was that?"
Gabrielle smiled at the warrior's need to know. "Early very early. I was in her chambers no more than ten minutes before she sent me away."
Xena looked elated. "That was brilliant. Of course she could not make love to you if she thought you were thinking of me."
"Well, if it had been deliberate on my part, I would gladly accept your praise."
Gabrielle's hand reached up to tenderly hold the warrior's cheek. "No. I had all my concentration focused on the thought of you, my love. It was the only way I could go through with it."
And then the bard's lips brushed softly against her own, and Xena felt her heart begin to pound, and her face begin to burn. The kiss ended and Gabrielle looked into the azure eyes before her, hoping this confession had been the right thing to do.
"Gabrielle " Xena was awestruck by the beauty of this woman who was so plaintively spilling the contents of her heart to her.
"I know that you and I share love, Xena and trust and devotion. Do we also share desire?"
"Yes we do."
Their lips met again, but the tentative softness was replaced by arduous need. They could not get close enough to each other's bodies, and their hands tore frantically at clothing in the consuming urgency to be pressed against the other unencumbered by fabric only skin on skin.
They fell on the bed, their mouths never separating for more than an instant. There was frenetic hunger between them, the need to taste each other to feel the other's body as they reveled in the sensation of being caressed.
Xena could not get enough of the bard's mouth as she ran her hands over firm abs and the trim waist that just preceded Gabrielle's wonderfully round ass. No amount of fantasy on Xena's part could ever have prepared her for this moment, for the reality of it could have driven a stone to orgasm.
Gabrielle kept her eyes open. This was real, and she would observe every second of it. She watched Xena's expression as she situated herself on top of the naked warrior and began to rub against Xena's thigh provocatively.
Both women treated breasts with supreme reverence. They fondled and nibbled, until the building craving of release drove them to concentrate on other, more high-priority areas.
"By the gods," Gabrielle groaned as she continued to ride Xena's thigh. "Yes "
As the bard's climax gripped her, and her body shook with release, Xena sat up to bring her mouth once again to the woman she loved. Gabrielle's cries were silenced by the kiss of her lover, but the passion that still murmured from her throat ignited the fire within the warrior to new heights. She had never wanted anyone as much as she wanted Gabrielle right now.
Forcefully, she rolled the bard over onto her back and the kiss continued, a bold inquisition with lips and tongue into the bard's mouth, as well as her soul. Gabrielle was wide-eyed with satiation and love, and her hand traveled down to stroke Xena where she might experience the same release that she herself just had.
"You are so wet, Xena," Gabrielle whispered lovingly as she continued her ministrations. The bard was transfixed by the sight of her warrior above her, writhing against her hand in ecstasy.
"I have wanted you for so long, my love," Xena explained.
"And you have me. You always will."
Xena brought her lips down to again taste her lover. She could not get enough of Gabrielle's mouth. She nipped at the bard's lips with her teeth.
The warrior stopped when she felt the first sensation of impending climax. Gabrielle watched Xena's face and saw she was close.
Leaning up near Xena's ear she whispered sensually "Come for me, my love. Give me your release."
Xena, never being one to turn down a polite request from her bard, complied, calling out her lover's name and trembling from the force of her climax.
They fell back down to the mattress together, weary and fulfilled.
"Xena," said Gabrielle, "I love you so much."
"And you're so wonderful," said Xena. "May the whole town forgive me for what I'm about to do."
"What?" asked Gabrielle.
Xena leaped out of bed and threw open the balcony doors. It was the middle of the night. She stepped onto the balcony, completely nude, and threw her arms wide open to embrace the night.
"I LOVE GABRIELLE!" she shouted. "AND SHE LOVES ME! THE MOST WONDERFUL WOMAN IN THE WORLD LOVES ME! ME! COME ON, ARES, TRY AND TAKE ME BACK NOW! HADES, I DON'T NEED YOUR ELYSIAN FIELDS! BY THE GODS, THEY'RE RIGHT HERE IN THIS ROOM!"
"Come on, Xena, stop it," she laughed. "You're gonna wake everybody up."
Xena turned back to her love.
"I can't help it," she said. "Everyone loves you, Gabrielle. I can't believe that you really love me. You make me so happy. I may never deserve your love, but I'll spend the rest of my life trying to be worthy of it, I swear."
"Do you still think I should leave you?" the bard asked, smiling.
"Probably," Xena replied as she moved back to the bed. "But if you ever try, you'll be sorry."
Gabrielle chuckled. "Yes, I will."
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